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

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.

IF

IF the reader was born before the Vietnam War (1954), their core understanding of reality and related social values is outdated – functional but outdated. Life values accumulate via growth experiences until around the age of 25; developing pragmatic skills through adulthood by participating in society benefits society. The opportunity to successfully participate in society fades after the age of 60 because two younger generations have created a different reality during their growing and productive years.

A good analogy for elders is walking lost on a Manhattan sidewalk at noon. What is important to social stability is that everyone over 60 has earned and deserves a pleasant time during their retirement.

It is true that some personalities will insist on an active, decision-making role in this century but their values and experiences are not quite in tune with the needs of a newer society.

IF

If the reader believes in the sanctity of the Universe, its tough and rugged rules for existence, its rules for sustaining a sensitive balance of life forms and further that all life forms are subject to the rules of Nature – then the reader tends toward being a naturalist. Perhaps the broadest philosophical point for a naturalist is sustaining Nature’s status quo, its balancing act among all matter living and nonliving.

Being a naturalist, the reader is aware that Homo sapiens has tinkered with longevity beyond what Nature would grant. Just in the modern era, the lifespan of humans in 1943 was 53; today it is close to 80. “Why,” the reader might ask, “has society nearly doubled the lifespan of humans but feels no responsibility for the overpopulated outcome not only concerning humans but their imbalance with the rest of the ecosystem?” Three alternatives have been tried that inadvertently limit population but have not become a sustained practice for balancing human population:

(1) Execution. Imposed death of family members and servants was practiced by Egypt for centuries; even today there is a voodoo group that still practices ceremonial sacrifice for the good of the family or society. A small remnant of ritual assassination remains through execution of unwanted criminals. And, of course, before the invention of explosives, changes in culture or climate forced relatively large armies to brutally kill each other in a war.

(2) Limited reproduction. From time to time, especially in Asian societies, a family was constrained by social rules to have only one child. A different variation existed recently when Asian families decided not to have that one child be female because males were more valued for their opportunity to work and bring more resources to the family. In 2015 Xi Jinping removed the offspring limitation for economic reasons.

(3) Prevented reproduction. These methods can be considered to be common practices to prevent pregnancy; for example, abortion, sexual preventatives like condoms and vaginal obstruction, and pharmaceuticals.

If one is a naturalist, given the overpopulation issue, one is confused by a culture that insists on enforcing the birth of children who may not be wanted or who will burden the life of the family beyond normal circumstances and at the same time other factions insist on pregnancy as a personal choice unaffected by reproduction issues.

As is almost always the case, Nature controls biological balance. Does the reader know that caucasians, Asians, Europeans, Russians, in fact the whole world is losing population? Just in the United States, where white supremacists are active, the white race will be a minority in the 2124 Presidential campaign and will disappear as a political entity by the end of the century.

Mariner is reminded of the noted mouse and rat studies in the 1960’s that showed when the caged population reached a point of imbalance in terms of space, mating environments and social bickering, the population suddenly dropped to about a third and stayed there for a long period.

Ancient Mariner

These are trying times

Trying times is an understatement.

The migration of tens of millions of people, exacerbated by a changing climate, will be one of the mega-trends of the 21st century, Bryan Walsh writes in Axios Future:

“For both humanitarian and political reasons, wealthy countries like the U.S. will need to figure out a way to handle a flow of people that may never stop. People make the difficult decision to leave their homes for many reasons, including conflict and crime, political persecution, and the simple desire for a better life.

“But a growing factor is the push of extreme weather and climate change, which disproportionately affect people living in poorer, hot countries that are already a major source of migrations to the U.S. That means the U.S., as well as the rich nations of Europe face a permanent and likely growing flow of climate migrants that they — and the international refugee system — are ill-equipped to handle.

“The catch: Climate change’s precise role in migration is tangled up with more immediate factors, like security and economic well-being.

“A Gallup survey released this week found that more than a quarter of the population of the 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean — which would amount to 120 million people — would like to permanently move to another country.

“42 million of those want to come to the U.S.”

More and more folks recognize that global warming is real. In the United States the political resistance comes from fossil fuel interests, the Trumpist anti-science movement and twentieth century conservatives. The combination of global warming, social modification due to artificial intelligence, a global virus pandemic and an apocalyptic shift in global economy – all at the same time – easily is more disruptive socially than the eruption of Vesuvius was to Mediterranean society or the environmental disruption caused by Krakatoa.

It is true humans are their own worst enemy. There are some egregious habits like death by war, life by stunting the Earth’s natural threats of viruses, visceral disorders, unnaturally prolonged lifespan, and other relationships that would control human population.

Adam Smith’s concept of moralistic capitalism no longer serves the common people. For one thing, there are far too many common people; for another, capitalism is competitive and slowly has separated wealth from the far too many common people; and finally there are far too many common people for the amount of natural resources available.

Humans added to population by inventing self-propelled transportation that easily spreads population centers over greater areas, easily heated homes and technologies capable of wiping out any number of biomass balances from air and water pollution to the directly related extinction of over 16,000 species.

These are trying times!

The trouble is, we can’t go back. We’re stuck with this mess and finally must take drastic actions to restore order – actions that we should have been managing all along but didn’t bother.

Has anyone seen Chicken Little? Is it true Amos went back to the farm? Guru is taking strong antidepressant pills.

Ancient Mariner

As the World Turns

One of the characteristics of life today is that there is a sense among people around the world that something just isn’t right. The global nature of this uneasiness makes it difficult for each citizen to identify cause and effect and to take some reasonable action to set things right.

֎ One of the most notable in its cause and effect is the uprising in 31 democratic nations, including the U.S., of rebellion against the government. The nature of rebellion can lead to disruption of government oversight or even to organized and deadly attacks on government. Already many important nations have suffered a collapse in democratic government that has been replaced with authoritarianism.

֎ Another international crisis that slowly increases is the amount of resources available to sustain the world’s population. The most notable evidence is the slow accumulation of excessive wealth for the elite around the world versus growing poverty and public stress. The community of nations has been derelict in its obligation to ‘change with the times’ as today’s economies begin to falter under the imbalance of global resources and its effects.

֎ Still too political for its own good, the response to global warming and climate change remains inadequate. Most scientists doubt that any meaningful effort this late will slow warming for the next century. The primary cause and effect is the relocation of tens of millions of citizens around the planet who will (and are) suffer from sea rise, loss of potable water, disruption of lifestyle and jobs, and massive migrations much larger than migrations away from violence and collapsed economies that occur today.

A tie-in with the global resource issue will be the stress on virtually every large agricultural area in the world. Even the United States will have to deal with crops grown in the Dixie region as the weather there becomes more like Arizona and New Mexico.

֎ Finally, but probably not least, is the massive destruction of the planet’s ecosystem by the human species. The ‘intelligent’ humans have learned how to steal and ravage Mother Nature for human convenience and profit. Mother Nature, however, can be a bitch and will deal with imbalances in her desire to keep a balanced environment.

The point is this: Because of technology, industrialism, class discrimination, resources, weather and everything else, humanity has reached a point where individual nations can no longer solve global problems. The requirement to feed the world requires an international consortium of super-nations that can address the economic stress.

Already China has begun to move in this direction by creating closed supply chain relationships with other nations; interestingly, the idea of a super-American nation comprised of Canada, Mexico and the United States has been around for well more than a century. Unlike the European Union, which tried to sustain nationalism by allowing each nation to keep its own currency, the new consortiums will operate as one nation with one ‘dollar’ used in a common economy.

The pandemic has expedited these issues to the very front of our twentieth century society’s attention.

The future is in the hands of the electorate. Has anyone seen Chicken Little?

Ancient Mariner

January 6

The attack on the US Capitol was violent; it consumed news organizations, social media, professional politics, corporate behavior and fringe organizations primarily associated with white supremacy. Five people died.

For all the cacophony, it is just a small incident in the midst of massive changes in government, society, economics, technology and global warming. Add to these unrooted times an epic invasion of the entire world by Covid-19.

In the United States 400,000 people will have died by the time this post is logged. Just measuring deaths, 5 people chose to be at the Capital where they may be killed while the virus has claimed one of every 121 people across the country. Each death not wanted and each death ripping into a family’s happiness.

It is true that four years of Donald-power has been extremely troublesome. There is no question that Donald is the match that lit many fires in society – including the attack on the Capitol – not just with his race baiting but with regulations affecting environmental issues, health issues, economic issues and he was disruptive to fragile behaviorisms that underlie democracy.

But Donald is just another incident brought on by the universal disruption we experience today, a disruption we will continue to experience for the rest of this century. Human society is very fragile. Society can be knocked off balance by imbalances in power, technology, weather and basic human need. Just a short list of moments that have contributed to our tidal wave of change:

֎ Since 1942 life expectancy has jumped from 53 to 80. This extra generation is very expensive to maintain and often interferes with incidental changes in society that then lead to larger consequences – think abortion, plutocracy, evangelical religion, any lgbqt issue, etc.

֎ For forty years American labor has been cut off from sharing in the nation’s profits; labor income has not grown commensurate with inflation – think loss of the American Dream.

֎ Despite the best efforts of white supremacists, caucasians will become a distinct minority in the United States by 2070 – think a revamping of civil rights legislation to eliminate the class discriminations that favor caucasians.

֎ Because of rising sea levels, by 2050 300 million people will be forced to relocate to other locations in the US – think housing, job loss, agricultural and local economies.

֎ Artificial Intelligence will force a major change in the relationship between employment and income. Most futurist economists believe a family stipend provided by increased corporate taxation is likely. Interestingly, a stipend was advocated by Andrew Yang in the 2016 presidential campaign and today, the impact of the pandemic has forced the government to issue stipends to keep the economy functional.

֎ The world is running out of resources, causing many nations to fail economically. Even wealthy nations are being pushed to reinterpret long held capitalistic tropes about supply and demand. The current rise in dictatorships is the result of public dissatisfaction with government but cannot be the final correction; internationalism will be redefined by 2050.

Everyone prays, in these turbulent times when society is in disarray, that the machinations of change will not become violent. Let’s hope the attack on the Capitol is the last of it.

Ancient Mariner

What do You Believe?

That is not an easy question to answer today. There are no clear hints about what is absolute or true or real. It used to be easier way back in the very old days. For example, if you lived 75,000 years ago, the only source of belief was one’s experiences with the natural environment. What was true was simply an anthropomorphic existentialism (Yes, writing about philosophy invokes the use of philosophical words – which is why novels dominate the retail book market). What ‘anthropomorphic existentialism’ means is that nature had its motives and you had yours. The interaction with nature was not always predictable; after all, nature thought for itself just like you did.

Interestingly, anthropomorphic existentialism easily lends itself to a way to measure whether you are a successful thing or not by the way nature, an uncontrollable power, treats you. This method of measuring success still exists in today’s world. Just one example among many, it is how monetized religion works today – if you give enough money to the television evangelist, you will be rewarded in kind by God (AKA nature). Speaking cynically, this con was developed by religious middle men from the beginning. Remember having to pay the church so your family could get out of purgatory? How about sacrificing your child in exchange for a good rainy season (AKA nature)? Given this perspective, it is understandable why military leaders pray to a supreme influence before going into battle.

Given some thought about it, one realizes the tit-for-tat relationship that even today requires some sacrifice or commitment on our part before a deal can be made. If Nature (God) is to be served today, what is our modern tit-for-tat? Is it global deforestation or contaminating air and water? Just food for thought; that’s what philosophy is good for.

Jumping forward a lot of years, humans learned enough about nature to define how nature thinks differently than we do. Nature says all living things are created and survive according to the rules of evolution – nature’s measure whether you behave well or not and deserve a tit-for-tat. Our species will thrive and be successful simply by following nature’s evolutionary playbook. Unfortunately, this is hard for us to do.

After 90 million years of evolving the hominin branch of living things, one hominin, Homo sapiens (us), began to do well using an extra amount of intelligence. We figured out a way to consume nature without participating in a tit-for-tat. In other words, instead of surviving like other life, which is living in balance with nature’s rulebook, we figured out a way to make a profit from nature without the balance part.

Nature is not petty or judgmental. The evolution rulebook was written in the very beginning; astrophysicists named the event ‘the big bang’ – the beginning of nature itself. So nature lets our existentialism play out. That means sooner or later, nature will claim its tit-for-tat.

So maybe anthropomorphic existentialism is the right belief. Functionally, what’s the difference between one child sacrificed and civilization sacrificed, functionally speaking. Quite like a reverse mortgage, don’t you think?

Ancient Mariner

 

Tiny Tidbits

֎ When oldtimers use the stairs, keep a hand floating along the bannister in case that trick knee jumps out or a slipper catches the stair. It is important, though, to use the legs to carry ALL the effort of ascending or descending – the more the bannister is used to disburse strain, the sooner the sense of balance is lost due to small leg muscles never having to balance under stress.

֎ The last environmentally balanced human species was Homo erectus who had mastered fire and stone tools. H. erectus, along with other hominins Neanderthal and Dennisovan, lived for two million years until 110 thousand years ago. H. sapiens, a trashier version, has existed only for 110,000 years but is not in balance with the environment.

֎ Mayo Clinic says the best treatment for insomnia is sunlight. Pills, it seems, aren’t very effective unless sleep is induced by nefarious narcotic means. Even on cloudy or cold days, go outside and stay there for a couple of hours. In cold weather, of course, dress accordingly.

֎ Speaking of human origins, the Australian aborigines moved to Australia 80,000 years ago and developed a characteristic of small, family-based tribes rather than assimilating into nations or empires. Today, aborigines are 3.8 percent of the Australian population.

֎ When using cast iron cooking pans or pots, make sure they have been seasoned at some point in a high temperature oven. Ask Alton Brown how to season iron. When washing, do not use soap. Use very hot running water and a putty knife or other stiff, straight blade, finishing with a vegetable brush. It is important to remove all recent oils and fats. When clean to the eye, wipe dry with paper towels or dry rags; sheen still should be visible. This method preserves the seasoning process and reduces sticking.

֎ Wasn’t it exciting to see Jupiter and Saturn in syzygy? Does the reader know that when the largest planets line up it affects Earth’s declination? When Jupiter talks the solar system listens because Jupiter is 14 percent of the planetary mass; add in Saturn and something is bound to happen. Every once in a while (this happened recently) Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and the Moon get in a line. When this happens, Earth’s declination is changed just a tiny bit. Humans won’t notice the change right away because it is a 96,000 year cycle combined with Earth’s wobble and the relationship of gases in the atmosphere – carbon being the main one. Long story short – Earth is headed for a major ice age in about 5,000 years. Ice ages last for about 150-200,000 years.

Ancient Mariner

We are slow Learners

Most everyone (including mariner) points at the pandemic as an expediter, an accelerator of cultural change. Mariner checked out other cultural shifts that have occurred in history; it turns out big-time change takes a while. It obviously is true that the pandemic has shut down twentieth century values by forcing adaptation to emerging artificial intelligence, exploding corporatism and by causing an economic blip because of the shutdown of so many supply chains and services – an economic blip that forced the nation to look anew at racism and the growing population of indigent citizens.

So stepping on the brakes, quite firmly, has brought about discordant oddities like a President who is incompetent and a wannabe dictator, a totally collapsed morality in the GOP political party, trillions of dollars made by corporations who monetize what should be uncompromised social behavior and just to add an unusual spin, a planet that is not pleased with human behavior.

Now the question is how long it will take to establish a new era with new economics, new social behavior, new lifestyles, new international collaboration and a new sense of normalcy and confidence across the world.

THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION

It took 131 years (1517-1648) before the open conflict between Roman Catholicism and the protestant rebellion came to awkward but agreeable terms. The role of today’s pandemic was played by Henry VIII, Martin Luther and John Calvin. In short order Henry said nations are not bound by Roman Catholic judgments; Martin Luther said the Holy Bible was the only source of Divine authority and proclaimed that every Christian is a priest in their own right; John Calvin stressed God’s power and humanity’s predestined fate.

Reminiscent of today’s republican-democrat standoff, treaties were hard fought, physical agreements that took decades to settle. It wasn’t until 1530 that the Lutheran Denomination was able to document its approach to Christianity by publishing the Augsburg Confession, a document that settled differences between Protestant sects and was presented to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.

A thirty-year war raged until 1648 when the Treaty of Westphalia was signed. Another comparison between then and now is the opportunity to use new technology. The new technology during the Reformation was the printing press, giving dissenting views a new, quickly distributed tool with which to fight entrenched authority. Today, in 2020, the new technology is social media – having the same disruptive effect.

As Christmas grows near this year, a genuine gift is the vaccine – developed in such a short time it seems miraculous. This leaves 2021 as the year to start rebuilding the American Dream, redesigning new economics for the world and to see what we can do about Planet Earth’s complaints not only regarding fossil fuel but the heavy price on the biosphere caused by human indifference.

Only 130 years left . . .

Ancient Mariner

On Being a Stick

A stick always has two ends – if it has been broken from its tree. When it is attached to the tree, it is part of a larger presence, something that has evidence of a higher calling as part of nature. It is true that the branch (it is not a stick until it is separated) or even the entire tree may be dying or dead. Still, there is an aura of purpose, a part of the grand scheme for the planet’s biosphere.

Is the human species a stick or a branch? There is much evidence that humans have ceased being a branch; humans do not enhance the growth of the biomass, its natural balances or its evolutionary progression. The only human value to the world’s natural environment is species decomposition as mulch for the planet’s grand scheme, the same as a stick.

Unfortunately, on its path to mulch, the human stick exudes bile and poison and extinction to any environment around it. As Roundup is to vegetation, humans are to the environment.

The mariner, in spirit at least, has evolved into a minimalist. Three cheers to the ten million homestead families in the United States alone who have chosen to escape from the grist mill of human economies and who have returned to living only as the world around them will tolerate. Three cheers for the Amish who have sensed a limit to what nature will tolerate. There is no profit in nature, only balance. Ignored by the human species in pursuit of profit, the planet will tolerate only so much. The human species may end up being mulch, like a stick.

It is proven that humans alone are responsible for the extinction of 16,000 species since 1850. It is the combustion engine and energy production that has led to climate change, with seas rising more rapidly every year and forcing devastating shifts in weather patterns around the world. Human efforts in chemistry have improved war to the extent that a nuclear bomb can eliminate life, human and otherwise, in an entire city in one day.

Finally, artificial intelligence, a human contrivance, likely will eliminate the independent spirit of the human species. As independence fades, mulching grows nearer.

Ancient Mariner