What is the brain?

In the past year or two, mariner has complained that various groups and individuals don’t know what they are doing – especially the electorate. Many topics contribute to this ignorance: civics is not taught in public schools; political history is not taught in public schools; environmental science is not taught in public schools; health and hygiene generally is not taught in public schools; social psychology is not taught in public schools; economics is not generally taught in public schools.

Since the 2016 election, mariner has been concerned about the electorate being led by a crazy person compounded by Big Data altering reality on purpose. The issue is the role of facts in the human thought process. Mariner has promoted films about how the brain is influenced and how the brain depends – or not – on factual reality.[1]

Just as a clinical beginning to understand that there are many mini-brains in the human head, mariner provides a legitimate shorthand description of these brains:

What is the brain?

The brain is an organ that’s made up of a large mass of nerve tissue that’s protected within the skull. It plays a role in just about every major body system.

Some of its main functions include:
   processing sensory information
   regulating blood pressure and breathing
   releasing hormones

Anatomy and function

Cerebrum

The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain. It’s divided into two halves, called hemispheres. The two hemispheres are separated by a groove called the interhemispheric fissure. It’s also called the longitudinal fissure.

Each hemisphere of the cerebrum is divided into broad regions called lobes. Each lobe is associated with different functions:

Frontal lobes. The frontal lobes are the largest of the lobes. As indicated by their name, they’re located in the front part of the brain. They coordinate high-level behaviors, such as motor skills, problem solving, judgment, planning, and attention. The frontal lobes also manage emotions and impulse control.

Parietal lobes. The parietal lobes are located behind the frontal lobes. They’re involved in organizing and interpreting sensory information from other parts of the brain.

Temporal lobes. The temporal lobes are located on either side of the head on the same level as the ears. They coordinate specific functions, including visual memory (such as facial recognition), verbal memory (such as understanding language), and interpreting the emotions and reactions of others.

Occipital lobes. The occipital lobes are located in the back of the brain. They’re heavily involved in the ability to read and recognize printed words, along with other aspects of vision.

Cerebellum

The cerebellum is located in the back of the brain, just below the occipital lobes. It’s involved with fine motor skills, which refers to the coordination of smaller, or finer, movements, especially those involving the hands and feet. It also helps the body maintain its posture, equilibrium, and balance.

Diencephalon
The diencephalon is located at the base of the brain. It contains the:
    thalamus
   epithalamus
   hypothalamus

The thalamus acts as a kind of relay station for signals coming into the brain. It’s also involved in consciousness, sleep, and memory.

The epithalamus serves as a connection between the limbic system and other parts of the brain. The limbic system is a part of the brain that’s involved with emotion, long-term memory, and behavior.

The hypothalamus helps maintain homeostasis. This refers to the balance of all bodily functions. It does this by:

maintaining daily physiological cycles, such as the

   sleep-wake cycle
   controlling appetite
   regulating body temperature
   controlling the producing and release of hormones

Brain stem

The brain stem is located in front of the cerebellum and connects to the spinal cord. It consists of three major parts:

Midbrain. The midbrain helps control eye movement and processes visual and auditory information.

Pons. This is the largest part of the brain stem. It’s located below the midbrain. It’s a group of nerves that help connect different parts of the brain. The pons also contains the start of some of the cranial nerves. These nerves are involved in facial movements and transmitting sensory information.

Medulla oblongata. The medulla oblongata is the lowest part of the brain. It acts as the control center for the function of the heart and lungs. It helps regulate many important functions, including breathing, sneezing, and swallowing.

End of clinical description.

The frontal lobes are the problem. This is where judgment is formed based largely on internal conditions of the body; things like fear, hunger, safety, interpersonal behavior, etc. There is no need for external facts; decisions are about physical survival laced with contrived imagery from the temporal lobes. A successful society must include training of the frontal lobes to include external facts in addition to internal emotions.

Sigh. Yes, mariner knows he is tilting at windmills. Apes we are, apes we’ll always be.

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] An important film focused on this specific issue is ‘Hacking the Mind’ available for viewing or purchase on PBS.com . Another film available on Netflix is about how Big Data manipulates individual behavior to maximize profits; search ‘the social dilemma’.

Liz

A member of the Cheney line (Dick Cheney, a Vice President under George W. Bush who actually was the shadow President in authority), Liz Cheney has the same strict conservatism as her heritage. She is a staunch, very conservative Republican. As we have seen, she is a determined representative of her views. But she has the one characteristic most desired in her industry: honest allegiance to her electorate. She is a clear example of the moral accountability necessary to make a two-party political system work. Given that all elected officials had scruples, the work of legislation would be a careful balance of what is best for the state of the Union.

Liz Cheney’s credentials as a representative of her electorate are sound, coming from one of the most conservative states in the Nation. Mariner clearly is sympathetic to her plight. She is fighting a broken Republican Party whose economic premise has collapsed and has yielded in spineless obedience to a destructive leader because he promises that they will keep their jobs even without due consideration of their electorate.

Whatever her aspirations (shrewdly she has positioned herself to be a player in 2024), in the current era Liz is confronted by a ‘party first, country second’ behavior that started with Joseph McCarthy in 1951, was reinforced by Nixon and intensified by Newt Gingrich in 2012. The ‘party first’ style of legislation has affected both parties to a point of MISrepresentation of the electorate.

In a complete vacuum lacking economic and electorate values, for President the Republican Party elected a showman to sell snake oil. God bless the electorate, they bought it. Until the 2022 election passes, all the inadequate Congressional representatives will be loyal puppies to Donald. Donald may even adversely affect that election. If mariner could replace any of them with Liz, it would be an improvement.

Ancient Mariner

 

Democracy at risk

This morning Guru seemed a bit apprehensive. He is concerned about global readiness for democracies around the world, especially for the United States. It is obvious that authoritarian governments like China, Saudi-Arabia, the ‘Stans in south Asia and mob governments like Russia and Turkey – all can move more quickly than democracy while disregarding human rights and truly collaborative economics.

On the other hand, many democracies, especially in South America and nations around the Pacific Rim are at the edge of economic failure, some even facing national bankruptcy. Many democracies are in worse social condition than the US appears to be as riots and government distrust encourage populism.

These democratic nations are waiting for the United States to create an economic solution that will restore democracy as the way to a sound existence.

Taiwan has been in the news recently as a democratic nation under increasing threat of a Chinese military invasion. Taiwan is a firm ally of the US and is a gem to be owned because they are the largest producer of microchips in the world. If the reader has kept up with real news (hard to find) they know there is a global shortage of microchips which likely will grow larger as the world adapts to artificial intelligence.

Recently there was a meeting of many democracies in Copenhagen. Bravely in defiance of Chinese storm clouds, Taiwan has addressed the issue of democratic unity head-on. From the Politico Newsletter:

TAIWAN — WE MUST COLLABORATE TO UPHOLD RULES-BASED ORDER: President Tsai told the Copenhagen Democracy Summit this morning that she is looking forward to Biden’s summit for democracy (a clear sign she expects to be invited), and urged the EU to “restart negotiation on a bilateral investment agreement” with her country, in light of the collapse of a draft EU-China investment agreement.

“Taiwan’s response to Covid-19 shows how pandemics can be contained without curtailing democratic freedoms … we are determined never to surrender these freedoms,” Tsai said, adding “it is imperative that we collaborate to secure our supply chains and safeguard the global economic order.”

The United States is not prepared to step up to its role as the democratic leader of world democracies. Unfortunately, the moment is fleeting; autocracies do not wait and are destructive in the process.

The news that is marketed in the US [Yes, marketed, a thorn in mariner’s side – news is a public service and should not be a profit center] is all about 1980 Reagan economics; pundits are using words similar to supply and demand, runaway inflation, keep corporate and private equity taxes low, and stop paying a dole to pandemic victims because they won’t come back to work – but don’t raise the minimum wage. All these arguments are virtually irrelevant in today’s economic circumstances and reek of political attitudes that long ago became inadequate.

In a recent post mariner expressed joy about a move by the Biden administration to visit Guatemala to see if the US could help that nation restructure its failing government and somehow generate a GDP for its citizens – an alternative solution to separating children from parents. This gesture is a form of supply chain dependency where democratic nations bond together and share an economic partnership rather than depending on twentieth century trade negotiations. Jeff Bezos understands this concept. Amazon is a business that depends on many businesses sharing a common outlet, that is to say, a supply chain.

Internationally, the US needs to be more like Amazon.

Ancient Mariner

The Way Out

Every so many generations a tumultuous time arises. Everyday life is less pleasant, less secure and society is destructive to many social norms. We live in a time like that today. Life is not fun and for too many, not even possible. There were similar times in the past – the 1960s when racism erupted, the Democratic Party was in conflict, national leaders and college students were assassinated. The 1930s suffered unbelievable economic tragedy that affected everyone; the turn of the century suffered riots and prejudice as suffrage and labor rights disrupted daily life. The greatest example of disruption included a deadly civil war that occurred in the 1860s. Further back in US history is the shame of genocide against the Native American.

The telltale signs are present today. Way too frequently innocent people suffer death by gunfire. Riots and protests are daily events. Government at the same time is imperialist and authoritative and otherwise dismissive to the need of its citizenry; justice is served by the flow of cash and favoritism.

Each tumultuous time posed a threat to the high minded principles of a democratic republic based on equality, personal freedom and the right to happiness.

It is time to reintroduce humanism as the rule of society. How the nation emerged from those tumultuous times was not by the wisdom of a great orator or a magic pill that settled society. Emergence occurred because there was just enough faith, just enough opportunity, just enough public intelligence that individual citizens took command of daily life; humanism became the influential judgment.

Humanism is the belief that a human is the most important form of existence on this planet. Humanism implies equality for each human for no other reason than that person is a human. Humanism as a philosophy promotes unity and promoting the rights of humanness. Humanism induces oneness instead of identity politics and populism.

Humanism is not competitive between humans. It is allegiance to the principle that every human has inalienable rights. If a human is disadvantaged, that is not acceptable – after all, they’re a human. Many historic sources allude to the fact that humans are made in the image of God; where is someone willing to take on God?

There is a common phrase that can be used as a first response to general wellbeing. It is required to be the first emotional reaction to any and every human despite political or class differences. It is “I have your back if you need me.” Live by that statement with conviction and a surprising phenomenon will occur: the tumultuous time fades away.

Ancient Mariner

Commemorating the Rock

There are good things and bad things in the world. The biosphere is built on survival and sustainability in an indifferent world. Virtually everyone has had bad days, maybe very bad days in their lives. The seasons of life can pass through trying, perhaps unfair, certainly unpleasant and hurtful times.

But there are sound foundations, sound existential guarantees that prepare everyone to stand up and to survive. Evolution has fine tuned us to possess the requirements needed to be successful and happy. There are virtually magical experiences that prepare everyone to know happiness and joy; to know compassion and empathy; to have belief in ourselves.

We are fortunate to belong to a group of species that can judge virtue. We are mammals. We are given time to grow under the protection of family, of sharing life with siblings and having time to know ourselves.

At the core of this sophisticated, complex and strengthening experience is the Mother – Mom – the Rock that sustains our civilization.

Ancient Mariner

Ready for something new for a change?

Ready for something new for a change?

Slowly crawling out of the darkness of shelter-in, we emerge to find a reformed world – a place of bizarre and unfamiliar phenomena. A new religion infests United States culture, something called Trumpism, an unsettling group similar to voodoo with conspiracies and denial of reality on a par with flat-earthers; people working from home in such numbers that large office buildings sit empty; the lingering death walk of Reaganism that brings Congress to a standstill; driverless 80-feet-long trucks on the highway; a grave, intensified class war pitting unbelievably rich against unbelievingly poor; collapsing colleges and universities with failed purpose, value and broken financing; empty shopping malls; veiled threats about rising oceans and storms; a flooded south, a burned west, a cold north and citizen migrations forcing changes in congressional representation; a weakening Europe, a rising China and still as it was before shelter-in, a pernicious Russia and a Middle East ravaged and ravaged again by imperialism, collapsed economy and extreme inter-religious/political confrontation.

It does seem similar to Charlton Heston seeing a sunken Statue of Liberty in ‘Planet of the Apes’, doesn’t it?

The pandemic can be blamed for concentrating a great amount of change into one single year. Working from home normally would have phased in over several years as new processes were tested, job descriptions changed and resettling home life with new work-at-home opportunities.

Donald Trump can be blamed for the Congressional crisis. Ordinarily, a change in the philosophy of government takes a decade or so but Donald crashed the primaries so badly that elected officials fear for their careers to the point of abandoning rational legislative work. Joining Donald in his abuses of due process are the victims of 40 years of Reagan economics – a working class distrustful of the US government for ignoring their plight. Throw in energized populist groups using gender rights, race and police brutality.

Reader, take a moment to catch your breath. With some luck, the nation may enter a period of boom economy if the infrastructure bill stays together and passes. The electorate needs to patch wounds, regroup its national identity and concentrate on getting an international momentum up to speed.

Oh, about something new, the wealthy nations of the world are preparing to switch to bitcoin accounts for government operations. Think about paying your taxes in bitcoin. The US calls theirs ‘GOVCOINS’.

Ancient Mariner

Environment

We humans have become increasingly aware that we live in an environment not as a dominating owner but simply as just another renter who tends to trash the apartment. Perhaps it’s the global warming issue that helps with human awareness; perhaps it’s the growing scarcity of food resources for the planet; perhaps it’s the cost to farmers when they plow the soil which strips the fields of all nutrients and plants, especially in regions where there are strong winds that carry away the soil farmers just tilled and fertilized and put weed killer down – producing poor yield in the fall.

Evidence of growing awareness is all about. TV broadcasts about gardening, farming, waste management, and collaborative sharing with the environment are frequent. Extension agencies, libraries and garden clubs sponsor programs about collaborative gardening. Mariner has a relative whose hobby is planting colorful plants around the base of trees along New York streets; mariner has a friend who has decided to let violets stay in the lawn. And mariner himself is tinkering with a number of collaborative projects in his own garden.
֎ One example is the cursed Creeping Charlie, a very rapidly spreading weed that defies elimination. It still is a killing pest in the lawns but in some garden beds mariner has decided to experiment with Creeping Charlie as the ground cover to keep other weeds out and at the same time add to the décor of the garden. It turns out that Charlie has taken hold of his new job with relish. Not even the dreaded crabgrass can sprout beneath a robust covering of Creeping Charlie. In fact, mariner is saving money because he doesn’t have to buy mulch for those areas.

֎ Another experiment is mariner’s tolerance of a rambunctious mole. He must protect against the mole’s burrowing in vegetable beds where seedlings are emerging but otherwise he has let the mole venture about. Tolerance by the mariner is an experiment to see how many Japanese beetle grubs can be eaten; mariner has many fruit and ornamental trees on a property surrounded on all sides by large concrete pads and accompanying large garages. All beetles come to mariner’s garden.

An unexpected reward is the mole gradually aerates the lawn. Typically, a lawn keeper occasionally will need to rent an aerating device to pull plugs from the lawn so it can grow and accept water. Mariner keeps his lawn a bit high (another anti-weed collaboration rather than performing the typical buzz cut) so the lumps from the mole burrowing aren’t noticeable.

Mariner has mentioned in past posts that his town has lawn Nazis. It is of a different spirit, certainly not one of collaboration with nature but comparatively speaking takes more time, labor and cash to maintain. This difference between collaboration with and dominance of nature has existed throughout history from the first scraping of the ground to cast wheat seeds to the large open mining pits and deliberate elimination of forests today.

In just a few years many farmers have proven that any way to collaborate with the environment is more productive, less expensive, saves waste and is good for surrounding atmosphere, water and wildlife. One common practice by farmers that has been implemented for many decades is a natural easement by creeks and rivers rather than plowing closer to the water’s edge.[1] It is entertaining to work with nature as a partner – both existentially and philosophically. What projects does the reader have?

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] An excellent documentary on collaborative farming, ‘Kiss the Ground’, is available on Netflix but the reader must search ‘The Littlest Farm’ – the title is in error. The Littlest Farm also is an excellent film about how a family uses nature to transform virtual wasteland into a productive farm but mariner could find it only as a rental or purchase. 3 minute trailers are available online for both films.

Life in the future . . .

. . . will last a long time. Is the reader familiar with COQ10, NAD+, Acetyl L-Carnitine HCL, Alpha Lipoic Acid, IPW, Crispr and inter-species zygotes? These pharmaceuticals are not vitamins. They are products that sustain cell function by restoring required levels of various molecules the cells need to function and communicate – molecules that disappear as humans grow older. Crispr is a technology that allows patching, adding or eliminating various genes. Inter-species zygotes (shudder) create fertilized eggs that are half human and half some other species; become familiar with the word ‘chimera’.

Commercially, these chemicals and procedures are new today and do not share the limelight with vitamins. But it won’t be long before they become more important than vitamins when it comes to restoring and sustaining a body that defies one’s age. Still, the one normal requirement is a good diet that provides necessary vitamins and minerals; many nutritionists claim the Mediterranean diet should be in this group of life-sustaining materials but eating is so passé.

The reader should not let their imagination run free with this subject. One easily could conjure any number of abused subhuman creatures to attend normal human interests. Quickly mariner’s mind leaps to a subhuman slave class, living chimeras that replace sex robots, ordering online a replica of great-great grandma, eternal life (isn’t that supposed to be in Heaven?), or a yet to be bred Homo something to upgrade Home sapiens.

Setting aside these conspiracy theories, it is very likely that, as this area of body chemistry improves, everyone will be living well into one hundred-plus birthday celebrations, hopefully still with many of the body functions that begin to disappear in middle age.

Today, there are actual improvements available. Many inherited diseases and disorders can be eliminated through gene splicing. In some situations where consummating and giving birth is difficult, the solution is an altered sperm or egg. The overwhelming contribution by this new group of supplements is cell health. Scientists are learning more about how individual cells do their job at molecular levels. These additives keep cells healthy and productive.

The reader should give praise to the mice that have given their lives to this chemistry. If we were mice, we may already have lived twice our expected lifespan, solved difficult puzzles while bypassing dementia and had active sex all the while.

The reader may want to start thinking about what they want for their 130th birthday.

Ancient Mariner

 

Wealth is for the Wealthy

Several of mariner’s news sources have begun to focus on issues that fall under the general subject ‘plutocracy’. Latest topics are from Florida, a government that sees itself as a partner with business, having passed legislation to protect obstetricians from lawsuits about botched births and now passing legislation to protect sugar harvesters from lawsuits about polluting the air.

On manipulations of the rich to stay rich, Elizabeth Warren just released her wealth tax legislation – she is back on the hunt and is the archenemy of the banking industry. The legislation targets the wealthy’s privileged investment practices that in fact are protected by Federal investment practices. Further, Banking has become more involved in partnering with nonbanking enterprises as a legitimate partner and not just a source of financing (Did you notice an American bank tried to launch the Super League in European soccer?)

ProPublica just posted an article that says “longstanding inequality in the U.S. has been exacerbated by the Fed’s role in touching off a multitrillion-dollar boom in stock markets — and stock ownership is heavily skewed toward the wealthiest Americans”. It is worthy to note that the average citizen’s IRA and 401(k) accounts don’t share comparatively in this boondoggle. [1]

Further, Social Security is the top source of wealth for most lower-income households with workers nearing retirement, according to Teresa Ghilarducci, an economist at The New School in New York City who specializes in retirement. If the guaranteed income stream of Social Security is treated as an asset, she estimates it amounts to 58% of the net worth for near-retirees in the bottom half of the U.S. wealth distribution. Other retirement savings represent only about 11% of their net worth, and stocks are just 1% – meaning that the wealthy have their own, federally supported economic world while the remaining US citizens still struggle with minimal income and no long term security. Apparently Andrew Yang’s chart about the distribution of income was correct.[2]

The most effective way to attack this plutocracy is to have term limits for all legislators state and federal and to outlaw party-managed redistricting, otherwise known as gerrymandering. In the meantime, the voting citizen will be caught in a battle between those who collect dollars for satisfaction and those who extol populism for satisfaction. It’s up to the electorate in 2022.

Ancient Mariner

[1] It is mariner’s opinion that ProPublica is by far the most honest, accurate AND the most thorough investigative reporting source among many online services. He recommends everyone subscribe to their email service at https://www.propublica.org

[2] See mariner’s post, “A Stipend for a Day Lived” published April 19, 2021.

The Census

Immediate reactions from the republicans are beer parties while the democrats cringe in dark corners. But it isn’t that simple. The census actually has several stories to tell.

  1. There is a real chance that republicans will overtake democrats in 2022 and even in 2024. Certainly the House of Representatives has a better than even chance to go republican in 2022. The combination of a significant majority of republican state legislatures plus the irrationality of the Electoral College plus the adjustments in gerrymandering to leverage the census figures, do not bode well for democrats in the short term.
  2. Globally, human population is dropping. The top 30 nations, which includes China and the United States, are not producing offspring as rapidly as they need to sustain population levels. Japan has serious issues; its population has been dropping for several years at an average of .3 percent. Japan’s GDP is at risk of failing in the next decade.
  3. It may be confusing to say that the US has declining population given the census count which shows an increase of 1.5m or ½ of 1 percent. One TV pundit put it straight forward. The increase is immigrants, black, brown and Asian. He surmised that Texas will be a purple state by 2028. He further suggested that the republican states – particularly southern ones – will suffer the Georgia syndrome because northern liberals are moving south.
  4. Setting aside population growth supported by migration, the indigenous US population (meaning everyone who lived in the country in 2010, has in fact dropped. Most notably is the Caucasian percentage. The new statistics project that the nation will become “minority white” in 2045. The shift is the result of two trends. First, between 2018 and 2060, gains will continue in the combined racial minority populations, growing by 74 percent. Second, during this time frame, the aging white population will see a modest immediate gain through 2024, and then experience a long-term decline through 2060, a consequence of more deaths than births.
  5. Already poking its nose above the horizon through intense weather is climate change. Rising sea levels and agricultural hardship are expected to have a growing impact on all coasts of the United States; by the end of the century the Earth’s seas will be one foot higher than today. Forced migration will start much sooner, affecting future census data.

From a different perspective, today’s cultural and economic progress has difficulty adjusting as the US moves through its national history. Progress is difficult because the US Constitution is the same one created in the 18th century: a democratic Federal Republic designed to govern a scarcely populated citizenry across an unknown continent. Automobiles, electricity, computers and an unanticipated population density call for consideration of a Constitutional convention. But who dares?!

Ancient Mariner