Dumb TV

Mariner obtained a smart TV a couple of years ago. He and his wife should have spent that money on a TV tower so they could get local broadcasting. The streaming TV world is a lot like the metaverse; the past, present and future all are presented simultaneously – mostly the past and mostly over and over again. News broadcasts are verboten – even when rebroadcast over and over again. (When is new news not new anymore?)

Mariner and his wife are not movie watchers and the sitcoms have become irrelevant. There isn’t much except a few quite good documentaries and British detective mysteries. Now that we’ve worked out the plotline, the mysteries seem to be too long.

It has been one of very few recent research projects mariner has pursued, that is, the plotline of British mysteries. American detective mysteries have a tendency to introduce the guilty character as the third new character in the episode, often disguised as someone who will play a minor, innocent role later on. American mysteries frequently involve a time-sensitive chase scene at the end.

British mysteries, however, are much more convoluted. There are three components to a British mystery: Plot A, Plot B and an independent conclusion to the mystery.

The main purpose of Plot A is to discover the mystery. Do not look for clues – there aren’t any. Plot A introduces a general environment which typically has two politically divided factions. This bifurcation is unrelated to the mystery.

Plot B also has nothing to do with the mystery. Plot B is used as a time-flexible subplot to fill an hour or two. In this regard, Plot B often introduces secret romantic or business liaisons which are juxtaposed to Plot A’s bifurcation. [Aren’t big words neat?] The viewer knows they are in Plot B when irrelevant personal relationships pop up or a specified member of the permanent cast becomes the center of attention. Often, Plot B will add additional murders or misconduct to remind the viewer that an unsolved mystery is afoot.

The independent conclusion begins by adding a new dimension to one of the characters that has been hanging around since Plot A. Suddenly the viewer is presented with a list of unknown motives. This doesn’t take long, perhaps ten to fifteen minutes. The mystery is solved. Cut to commercial.

Ancient Mariner

Can you absorb each feeling?

Sail on, silver girl, sail on by.
All your dreams are on their way, see how they shine. . .

Feels like home to me.
Feels like home to me.
Feels like I’m all the way back where I belong.

A charge to keep I have. A God to glorify . . .

I see trees of green, red roses, too.
I see them bloom for me and you.
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

I love him. I love him. And everywhere I’ll follow.
I will follow him wherever he may be,
There isn’t an ocean so deep, a mountain so high it can keep me away.

A crash of drums, a flash of light
My golden coat flew out of sight
The colors faded into darkness
I was left alone.

May I return to the beginning
The light is dimming and the dream is too
The world and I, we are still waiting
Still hesitating
Any dream will do.

Compliments of mariner’s pop music GOAT.

Ancient Mariner

Same ol’

Mariner brushed away the pile of mail, a few hand tools, newspapers, a magazine or two, and sure enough, the old laptop was still there. Needless to say, mariner hasn’t been at the keyboard since June 1. Today, June 11, he slowly works his way back into his daily routines after a ten-day bout with Influenza A.

He will not make his readers listen to a long lamentation of the experience. Suffice it to say, mariner really wasn’t around for a while.  His wife did an angelic job of bringing him through the experience.

Mariner turned to the outside world today to catch up on things; seems like the same deck, just another dealing of the cards. His candidate did not win the primary but made a fine showing especially in the Southeast portion of the state. Mariner continues to worry as every indicator in the election is aimed at nationalizing the people’s vote.

Mariner may be a bit of a dreamer and philosopher but he knows one thing for sure: democracy is a one-person-one vote philosophy. Yet the pressure brought by organizers is to make one citizen’s Presidential vote a collaboration of many votes cast as one. This is too deep; mariner is going to rest for a while.

Ancient Mariner

Of cowboys and indians

The new solution for defeating the gun lobby is floating around newsrooms: children do not go back to school until new gun legislation is passed. It is a bad idea because the growth of an entire generation of young Americans already has been distorted by the pandemic lockout; adding yet another year of disrupted schooling can further burden the growth of these children. It is a good idea because it is a positive gesture ‘by the people’ who should have been managing their representatives more closely all along.

In case the reader feels there is not enough news to think about, American Native Indians are up against White Man’s courts. Politico reports:

“The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is slated to come under the court’s microscope this fall via Brackeen v. Haaland, and the stakes are sky high. If ICWA is overturned, a slew of laws that rest on a centuries-long precedent of tribal sovereignty could be in jeopardy, say the law’s supporters. These policies relate to everything from housing and health care to education and employment.”

The core legislative impact is that the ICWA was passed by Congress in 1979 to bring an end to the old agreement, Indian Adoption Project, a federal drive to assimilate American Indians into white culture. As many as 35 percent of Native children were removed from their families. Eighty-five percent of those children were placed in non-Indian homes. It was also under the Indian Adoption Project that thousands of Indian children were rounded up by the Federal government and put in highly prejudiced boarding schools where many children were abused and died.

If the court overturns ICWA, the Native American has no tailored protection and will lose Indian sovereignty.

Judges need term limits as much as legislators do.

As the Iowa primary approaches, mariner has abided by his own rules for voting. His Senate candidate is under 55, not an ideologue, not a favorite of national PACs, speaks generically for the wellbeing of Iowans, has state and local experience in office, has a positive personality and is a woman. If she wins the primary, she will oppose Chuck Grassley who is 88 years old, a defender of the status quo, who represents a national government driven by party first instead of citizens first and is incapable of understanding the issues that confront Millennials and Zees.

Ancient Mariner

The Big Weekend

It is fortunate that society still is stable enough for most of us to have a life experience that is not based on daily news. Mariner and his family had a respite from global reality over Memorial Day weekend when he and his wife were visited by their son’s family replete with babies, dog and cat and also visiting were two of his wife’s nephews.

The rosebushes perked up for the event and were in full bloom; two colors of hydrangea were in bloom. Spiderwort, a permitted wildflower, too, was showing off. Miracle of miracles it didn’t rain the whole weekend!

Needless to say, the cuisine was upgraded with special (and expensive) foods, the grill was turned on and meals were served al fresco. Table dialogue was unusually diverse. Fortunately no one cared to be reminded of the outside world.

Mariner’s household usually is a quiet, two-person home but for the weekend, it was raucous, noisy, and a joy to actually be face-to-face with loved ones. Facetalk can do only so much.

In face-to-face contact, both conversation and behavior reveal the three-dimensional reality of each person, revealing how they’ve changed or how their lives have been modified. A large amount of subconscious processing takes place. A family that comes together stays together.

As instantaneously as it went from an old people’s home to a zoo, it has become hushed, quiet and mariner and his wife linger in the memories of the weekend.

Ancient Mariner


Ready, Aim . . .

An article from The New Statesman, a British publication, has a different slant on the US obsessive gun dependency:

“US gun violence is not just a domestic political issue. The failure to take action is a gift to Chinese and Russian propagandists. Shortly after Joe Biden took office in January 2021, he delivered a major foreign policy speech setting out his vision for the United States’ place in the world. He vowed to rebuild the country’s alliances and restore its moral leadership after the tumult of Donald Trump’s presidency.

“America is back,” he declared, and he promised that the United States would “again lead not just by the example of our power but the power of our example”.

“Yet the power of that example has been repeatedly undermined by the failure of US political leaders to tackle the country’s domestic problems, including racial injustice and worsening gun violence. This plays into the hands of American adversaries like China, whose propaganda highlights the deaths of young children in American school shootings and the police killings of Black Americans to advance the Communist Party’s agenda and what it claims are the comparative advantages of its own political system.”

Mariner surmises that guns are to this disheveled nation as opiates are to a drug addict. How does one detoxify a gun addiction? As with all other virtuous ideals that have disappeared, it seems having a gun is more important than continuing to be the world’s moral leader and key advocate of democracy.

It isn’t just guns that tarnish our national image. A dysfunctional Congress and the attacks by red states on open elections also have been noted – especially by European sources.

If the United States loses its moral leadership advantage, it will lose the economic battle for economic supremacy in an emerging global economic system.

Mariner’s solution: When it comes time to vote and the candidate is running for reelection, give serious thought whether the candidate deserves another term; if the candidate is over 55, do not vote for that candidate; further, give precedence to women, nonwhites, and candidates not supported by a national PAC.

Detox is not a pleasant experience.

Ancient Mariner

About the orange

Sorry for the pessimism. For many decades mariner has been sensitive to an imbalance between humans and the biosphere. In all of Earth’s history, life has been dependent on a global balance between the provisions of nature and the needs of the species – whether microbe or elephant. Today, mariner is extremely aware of the blatant disregard humans have for this balance.

Even ants have war between colonies and there are predators galore for every species but these confrontations are part of the balancing act. Nature didn’t expect a nuclear bomb; nature didn’t expect overpopulation because a species eliminated the balancing act between age, disease and deprivation; nature didn’t expect the disrespect for hundreds of thousands of species going extinct because of human intentional and excessive abuses; nature didn’t expect the violation of basic atmospheric rules or poisoning the land. In short, humans have trashed the biosphere for nothing more than convenience and disrespect for nature’s rules.

Mariner is accused of being a Luddite. Perhaps but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Two popular personalities were Luddites as well, condemning the disrespect that humans possess – Mark Twain and Will Rogers.

Evolution didn’t expect nuclear families; in the name of convenience and under the terms “We do it because we can”, transportation has created new meaning for the word ‘migration’. Two-footed, 4-wheeled humans travel farther and more often than the Humpback whale.  The security found in extended families is now replaced by expensive life, health and property insurance policies. There’s a human trope, “Anything can be fixed [or ruined] with money”.

Mariner can go on and on about doing injury to the biosphere. But this attitude is part of a bigger problem that spans the developed world – and the wealthier the nation, the bigger the problem.

For focus, mariner will address only the United States.

American Society has no soul. It has no beliefs. It has no identity. There is not one truth that every American will abide. There is not one social grace that represents the United States to the planet and its biosphere or to the billions of individuals living in that biosphere.

Ever wonder why we can’t discern the future? It’s because we don’t believe the present; what can we build future faith on? The nation believes nothing works, nothing is worth commitment, nothing is meaningful.

So the country runs on two things: money and ego – there is nothing else. The American Society today has no seeds to grow the future. Hence the seedless orange.

Ancient Mariner

Demise is becoming a possibility

Another tragic mass murder of children. It is within reasonable odds that the reader and their children will be shot before winning any state lottery. Yet, like an internal cancer, guns and gun ownership have become an irresponsible characteristic of American society.

Similarly, racial bias not just against blacks but against Chinese, Latino, immigrant and Middle Eastern races remains entrenched. Despite protest, like an internal cancer, racism has become an irresponsible characteristic of American society.

Similarly, homosexual differences and sexual discrimination against women prevail. Like an internal cancer, they have become an irresponsible characteristic of American society.

Similarly, the wealthy prey on more and more human lives, expanding the number of poverty-stricken families and forcing a drain on financial stability from governments, jobs, housing, and diverse productivity. Yet, like an internal cancer, trillions of American dollars continue to be hidden away and represent an irresponsible characteristic of American society.

Similarly, giant corporations have cornered freedom of speech. Lack of privacy, free thought and lack of accountability to the public, like an internal cancer, have become an irresponsible characteristic of American society.

Similarly, Federal and state governments have turned against democratic voting and pursue a totalitarian plutocracy. Like an internal cancer, self-interested governments have become an irresponsible characteristic of American society.

Similarly, the advocacy of religious institutions for the equal well-being of every individual has vanished and has been replaced with vile accusations, prejudice and endorsement of violence. Like an internal cancer, the spiritual base has become an irresponsible characteristic of American Society.

Some may scoff and recount the many counter-movements that fight these cancers. But the movements lose. The cancers abide within the core of the nation’s ethos.

Mariner is reminded of an old orange that has lost the shine of its rind. Soft shades of green begin to appear over the orange – then grey mold and sunken flesh appear. The orange approaches demise. There is no hope for this deliberately bred seedless orange.

Ancient Mariner

An unusual find

Mariner often shares his father’s penchant for chopping human behavior into little pieces with simplistic names like ‘who people, what people and how people’ and of course the ultimate Myers-Briggs test – all grouped under the term ‘pop psychology’.

Whenever mariner uses these terms he warns that none of us are pure examples of any pop phrase and therefore do not be too judgmental nor, as many Myers-Briggs folks do, brag about one’s uniqueness. The best example in a long time that proves pop psychology terms may be a bit tongue in cheek and that culture may influence our identity more than we know is the contractor who just today re-shingled mariner’s garage roof.

He and his team of three stripped the roof in one long hot day and finished the job the next day by Noon. They did an excellent job! The team was comprised of lifelong laborers accustomed to working all day at notable speed; they were heavily tattooed and in physically toughened shape. From a distance of ten feet, the business owner-contractor also looked toughened and tattooed.

As the job neared completion, mariner and the contractor had a chance to talk. The contractor was proud of his family heritage when it came to being accountable for a sound work ethic. His grandparents had a farm where the entire family worked long days; his father, a laborer, preached responsibility and hard work to the contractor and he in turn has made sure that his two sons regularly do physical work.

His conversation, however, told a different story. The contractor was erudite, showed interest in abstract issues, listened to podcasts, watched only selected news specials rather than daily news, understood the role of labor from an external perspective and otherwise demonstrated a mind that was interested in intellectual subjects. Yet he was a laborer by choice and belief and looked every bit a laborer. Mariner had to like him; he blames smartphones for the failure of work ethic in our society. He commented, “I can’t find any young help; two hours on the job and they quit!”

The insight mariner took from his conversation with the contractor, besides the unusual mix of a physical work ethic and an intellectual mind, was that everyone during their youth is shaped more by their culture/family than they may think. The contractor is in his mid-thirties; two generations before him were disciplined laborers; while financially stable, his family never had incomes that would suggest college and further could not allow time for college because there was work to be done. It is obvious in conversation with him that another profession is of no interest.

Mariner doubts the reader will run into the contractor in the metaverse.

By far the most important revelation that mariner took from his visit with the roofing crew is how important Labor is to a mature, sound and successful American society. Since the Reaganites dropped required underwriting of full retirement by manufacturing corporations, since the passing of the Great Society politicians (Ted Kennedy, Bob Dole, et al), since the continued disrespect by the electorate (mostly college snots) as one respectful element after another was cast aside – especially unions – Labor has suffered a forty-year history of disengagement from societal respect.

In fact, a laborer is as critical as a college professor. One is not better than the other. In fact, a laborer could no more handle the life of a college professor than a professor could handle the life of a laborer – let’s have some mutual respect here!

It is a familiar lesson. Every human being is a homo sapiens in good standing. Each is living, breathing, experiencing and surviving reality. No matter how different we may seem – each of us is the same, even identical in the larger measure of existence.

Ancient Mariner

Let’s trade

It is the habit of the electorate, and with good cause, to blame politicians when things go wrong. The United States, along with other nations, has suffered severe shortages of food, medicine, numerous grocery stock items and industrial components. In large part, the shortages were caused by pandemic interference with the shipping and processing companies that ship products to retail outlets. The politicians could do little more than watch.

In a PBS broadcast of NOVA last night, a viewer becomes aware that the supply chain itself is vulnerable to mishaps that can cause worldwide shortages. Container-carrying ships of massive size (as long as four football fields) carry unbelievable volumes of goods; for just one of these ships to fail in delivery, many smaller businesses can fail because their shelves are empty.

The NOVA episode analyzed the impact of one of these container ships blocking the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal is located in Egypt and is a key link between Asian shipping and Mediterranean shipping. Unfortunately, it is only one lane wide. If something blocks the Canal, hundreds of ships are held up at both ends – hence shortages on retail shelves. In the NOVA piece, one ship runs aground and stops all shipping, perhaps a thousand of these large container ships.

The reason this caught the interest of mariner is because ‘shipping’, aka ‘supply chain’ is the verb in the future of global economics. In the last century the concept for international trade was based more on trade agreements, e.g., “I’ll swap you two sheep for ten chickens and if you give me any trouble, I’ll slap a tariff on you.”

Needless to say, communication technology in this century has made the delay and overhead of trade agreements too expensive and too subject to circumstantial politics. What has become possible, however (if ships don’t run aground in canals), is an international arrangement where each nation can collaborate at the production level – thereby speeding productivity and increasing volume such that world markets may be available instead of piecemeal nation-to-nation deals.

A comical metaphor but perhaps it can clarify the new advantage: Nation 1, a large, rich nation that acts as an anchor to the supply chain, says to nation 2, the chicken producing nation, “You can grow chicken feet faster than I can but I can grow chicken heads faster than you can. We can save 25 percent of the time it takes to grow chickens if you send me your chicken feet. Then you’ll have room to grow even more chicken feet.” The anchor nation plays the additional role of an insurance company by covering market shifts, weather, etc.

Understanding this model, a move toward global economic domination, explains why China, the US, India, the European Union, South America (resource rich) and the Pacific Rim nations (Australia, South Korea, Japan et al) are jockeying hard to monopolize supply chains.

Except for Putin. He doesn’t understand the principle of sharing. It is important to know that Trump and his cronies don’t either.

Lest we forget, there is only one issue that will dominate world economics even more than global supply chains – global warming.

Ancient Mariner