Just the Facts, Ma’am

Across the board, recent polls about public confidence in news broadcasts has fallen in every poll. Why?

Mariner suspects it may be the ‘social media’ style of content. A hint may be that Huntley, Brinkley, Kuralt, etc., put out headlines about good and bad behavior that focused on institutional behavior without excessive interviews and human opinion because (a) they had at best two half-hour broadcasts and (b) news back then was not sponsored but a public service – time was preserved for sponsored ($) airtime.

Disasters were reported as a singular event rather than the excessively drawn out, days long coverage and socialized (AKA gossip) detailed coverage that fills news channels today. Today, the fact that Mike Pence withdrew from the election has been running like a soap opera for days; Cronkite and Rather would use two sentences and move on.

The premise for special reports was always focused on institutions, government actions and environmental events. What a movie star or an anonymous citizen thought about the news was not included.

As a counterpoint to the style of today’s streaming news style, mariner recommends checking out Propublica.com. Propublica is donor sponsored and is not part of any news organization. Propublica exposes failings in government or corporate management where the citizen is injured or grossly abused. The focus is on the behavior of institutions and their victimization of citizens.

Propublica has a no-nonsense reporting style. It was Propublica that uncovered the behavior of a judge who routinely sentenced school children to prison.

Like so many social patterns today, the public plays a role in the news with abuses on social media; the public has the role of nosy and judgmental neighbor on web sites like Facebook and ‘X’. Where is the truth – news broadcasts or nosy neighbors? Neither?

Where are the actual facts sans commentary?

Ancient Mariner

What if –

Our nation went back to the original campaigning environment where, because of the spread of the population and a relative isolation because modern transportation and communication weren’t around yet, the funds for campaigning were limited to local funding within the electoral jurisdiction and the selection of campaigners was a local decision?

Albert Einstein said we can’t go back.

What if credit cards didn’t exist and the local economy depended on cash, check and local bank financing? Would giant retail mega-corporations exist?

Albert said we can’t go back.

What if the amount of income from any source was subject to an upper limit beyond which federal taxes would be 100 percent? FDR did it.

But Albert just chuckled.

What if unions were pervasive enough to restore full-time, corporate guaranteed retirement and full medical benefits?

Albert said nope.

What if the entire education industry had been able to keep up with inflation like the universities did?

Stop this says Albert. The laws of physics say that under certain conditions it may be possible to leap into the future but going back in time is not possible.

Anyone care to peek into the future?

Ancient Mariner



The good and the bad

Mariner often has feedback suggesting he is an ‘old timer’ that won’t accept the modern world; they suggest he is too negative. He can’t deny these opinions and he is vulnerable to flamboyant metaphors as well. Still, his values stem from his humanist beliefs – a known and accepted philosophy in the world. But seldom practiced. Humanist ethics and Christianity have similar beliefs; both virtually are nonexistent today because the Romans declared that Christianity was the state religion.

It acted like a state acts; it went to war; it monopolized the economies of Europe; ‘Christian’ explorers entered the new world butchering, raping and stealing the wealth of native cultures; today it still behaves as a Roman adjunct to government. He finds it a validation of modern Christian values that it is more important to rebuild Notre Dame, a symbol of religious authoritarianism than to save 1,000 mature trees required to rebuild it in a time when global warming threatens catastrophe. He agrees that the times today require a remake of tradition – but let’s take it in the humanist direction. No room here to talk about American racism and gay follies or oligarchian authoritarianism.

Turning to unimportant issues like speech, mariner has added another word to his dictionary of words beloved by the hearing impaired: shouldna. It means ‘should not have’. What makes this word an interesting addition to the dictionary is the nuanced ‘should not of had’.

So what’s the good news to be had? Foremost, mariner and his wife have had the entire family visit during October. That means two children and their spouses, three children, one dog, two nephews, two cousins and five lifetime friends – all between the eleventh and the thirty-first! Who says extended families are passe?

Further good news, albeit spotty, is that the Republican party is dickering among themselves. The founding fathers intended to have two parties that represented the rainbow of citizens. It’s not over but there’s hope. At some point we may be able to reverse Newt Gingrich’s weaponizing of the two-party system. He shouldna done that.

Ancient Mariner





Clearer insight into future

Yesterday, mariner had one of those moments of clarity when deep wisdom falls upon a person. He saw the future as it will be. The moment occurred as he watched a clip of a man talking in English. Suddenly, the man was talking in a foreign language; it must have been him because the lips and facial muscles appeared to be synchronized to both languages. It was, of course, an example of what Artificial Intelligence (AI) can do – all by itself.

From mariner’s perspective, the real achievement was a finite and absolute separation of the relationship between fact and judgment. When is a fact in fact a fact and not a deliberate falsehood? How can humans make judgments without existential and verifiable fact?

Moments later a small child, perhaps age three, walked by him talking on a toy smartphone. It was then he knew what the future held for the human race: a human shape with a minion’s brain.

Ancient Mariner


The post about population provides a new perspective on abortion. Today, abortion is seen as an individual choice, either by individual right or a mandated right to the unborn. Mariner has been befuddled about the role of abortion in society – why there is so much focus on this issue given the many more abusive behaviors around today (like shooting children??). The post on population provides a universal perspective that supersedes politics and even religion: overpopulation.

Women (and associated men) choose not to have children or to abort their fetus for the same reason female mice did – overcrowded conditions. Agreed there may be personal psychological reasons not to have children; one may easily accept the idea that career comes first. But abortion is such a large issue around the world that some universal situation provokes attention. Is it overcrowding? Is it a subconscious fear of not having stability because resources are not a given? How many times have we heard a woman say ‘I’ll have children later when I have the assets to support them’?

It seems there is a subconscious awareness that resources may not be available for whatever reason. Do we blame this angst on politics? Religion? Indirectly, yes because the real issue is a shortage of resources due both to overpopulation and environmental abuse, something that could be better managed. Crushing intervention by governments doesn’t work; China has proven that several times in history. Perhaps politics should let reproduction play out just like the female mice. Every species in the world is changing its genome because of global warming. Wouldn’t reproduction change because of overcrowding? Perhaps personal choice is the normal rule under the circumstances.

Give it some thought. Think of some other issues like housing shortage and the growing spread between rich and poor. Are they related to overcrowding?

Ancient Mariner


Regular readers may recall that mariner would mention rat and mouse studies done in the 1950s-70s. The focus was to document what happens when populations grow too large; the animals were given all the food and water they needed. For the mice, the cages were a 4 foot cubed cage; the walls were lined with little nest ‘condos’ from floor to ceiling. As the population grew, the mouse society began to show disarray. Continuous fighting, raping and disregard by females for birthed young became common. Eventually, the population topped out because most females did not become pregnant and any opportunity for nesting had disappeared. The population began to shrink back close to the original population.

Today, scientists have reevaluated the studies. Examining the films and behavior from a broader perspective, the habitats created weren’t really that overcrowded, but enabled aggressive mice to stake out territory and also isolated the ‘beautiful’ mice to live at the top of the cage above the fray. Instead of a population problem, one could argue that the experiment had a fair distribution problem. In other words, social stress created classes of separation. The ‘beautiful’ mice lived at the top of the cages and as the rows approached the floor of the cage, living standards dwindled because there weren’t enough condos to go around. On the floor, mice were homeless and lived in constant danger of physical abuse and death; the floor mice lived in a crowded and threatening society.

As he read the article, Chicago became a matching image. The upper condos were the luxury condos in the high rise downtown area; The better condos were the comfortable suburbs; southwest Chicago, with its gang-laden violence and lack of civil discipline was the floor. What seems more threatening is that, unlike the mice, not everyone has adequate housing, food or water.

Two circumstances come to mind: the size of the cage is planet Earth; the second is that the measuring stick is not condos, its nations. There are about a dozen countries rich enough to have a ‘balanced’ distribution of oligarchs, middle class, labor and disadvantaged poor – a circumstance of lacking enough resources. As nations grow poorer, the social stratification becomes more aggressive, often authoritarian, and the poorest nations, or those in deep social transition (Israel, Middle East, most of Africa) incur open warfare.

However, the mice had a stable environment that humanity lacks. Many nations will suffer economic collapse, e.g., Pakistan, as the weather and other environmental damages collapse national economies. Even wealthy nations will experience disruption and turmoil as the segregation of class wealth becomes too broad. Events such as mass migration, supply chain collapse and rich-nation bickering about the spoils of a new internationalism provided by the internet will stress the philosophies of government.

So the situation becomes one of starvation, homelessness, class warfare. The current evaluation of the mouse studies seems to be the better insight. We don’t have to wait for our population top-off at 11 billion; already there is too much population to sustain even cantankerous class distinction, let alone “all men are created equal”.

Happy Hallowe’en

Ancient Mariner

Gimme that old time economy

Mariner had a chuckle when he read an NPR news item that said transport corporations were considering wind power to save costs and assist with fighting climate change:

Maybe we could hitch some mules to an eighteen wheeler, or maybe go back to dove delivery of first class mail. The idea was mentioned that a corporation like UPS could use air balloons to deliver packages.
He is pleased that people are taking global warming seriously. He is entertained that, well, maybe the old way was the right way. Here’s another suggestion: maybe we should start cooking our own pizza instead of waiting for Pizza Hut and EZCater – that would reduce the amount of food waste that we put in the trash.
Mariner just had a hunch that internal engines weren’t the way to go . . . .
Ancient Mariner

News can be distracting

McCarthy kicked out, eh. Talk about distraction! Today’s news is becoming so diverse and scattered across the subjects of human life that one may need advanced degrees to understand the nuance, detail and motivation of daily news – maybe even a cheat sheet with meanings for fancy words and acronyms. What follows are a few samples of distraction caused by diversity:

֎ Did you know New York City is sinking? Not just flooding but sinking, too. Here’s a clip from NASA:

“Mapping vertical land motion across the New York City area, researchers found the land sinking (indicated in blue) by about 0.06 inches (1.6 millimeters) per year on average. They also detected modest uplift (shown in red) in Queens and Brooklyn. White dotted lines indicate county/borough borders.”

֎ The new computer/human relationship. Computers are about to be released into the quantum physics world; bits and bytes are passe. Very soon computers will be able to make decisions at the speed of light. Information will not need algorithms, it will capture the shift of electron states. Yes, distracting because no one knows what that means. To assist, mariner copies from an old post metaphor about quantum physics:

Driving down a highway, in front of you a car enters the highway from a ramp; it appeared to you as a known entity called a car.

However, Quantum says, “No, not so fast”. The car just didn’t assemble itself out of nothing the moment you saw it; what events caused the car to appear at that moment?

For example, did the car turn on the highway just over the hill or has it been on the road for two days coming from New Jersey? How did the driver come to be in the car at that moment? Why is it a Subaru? Why is it on that highway? What time did it depart so that you would experience it at that moment?

Quantum computers know all these answers simultaneously. What quantum computers respond to is a change in electron relationships, not the electrons themselves – just like you did when, at the speed of light, you saw a car.

No busy person enjoys wandering around in quantum physics but the point here is that computers will think the exact same way humans do. Will computers do irrational things that Donald or Elon would do?

Ancient Mariner