Mother Earth and humans

When mariner worked as a project manager, he learned that certain individuals made it difficult to run the project. For many reasons related to power insecurity, bad personality, uncontrolled desire to change objectives and other distracting behaviors, these individuals were overhead that was not helping.

As a necessity to survive and complete the project, he developed a technique that avoided confrontation but indirectly suppressed the person’s interference. He calls it “taking away cards”. Here is a simple example:

You have a chain-smoking relative who prefers not to drive the car so they always ask you to buy cigarettes for them. You are concerned about their heavy smoking. You take away their control card by saying, “I don’t have time right now; I must do something else right now. Why don’t you buy your cigarettes?” Either the relative goes without or must resolve their distaste to drive. You, however, have avoided a face-to-face shout down. With luck, you may have altered a pattern of behavior.

Mother Earth is using this technique with humans. Some examples:

  • If you continue to pollute the air, I’ll stop enforcing dependable weather patterns.
  • If you continue to trash the environment and killing thousands of creatures, I’ll take away your clean water.
  • If you continue to make matters worse, I’ll melt all the ice at the poles and release methane from deep permafrost.
  • If you don’t learn to live within the constraints of your habitat, I’ll remove the habitat.

These are not future threats; they’ve been growing for decades if not centuries. Mother Earth is about to take away our control cards. Someone tell the fossil fuel industry.

Ancient Mariner

The worst tragedy

To start the subject of the post, here is a cartoon from The Week:

Referencing a recent post, the cowboy culture, one of independent success and individual respect, in their battle against benign neglect by the college-elite, has provoked an attack against freedom (and the necessity) of education.

It is a tragedy because education, knowledge, familiar awareness, social judgment, and all the other nuances of education and freedom of information are not relevant to the central issue. The central issue is mistreatment of the labor classes by government and a society that has grown sophisticated and complex. Today’s college-elite don’t ride a single horse; they ride a wave of investment and the wind of the Internet.

Mariner recently had his garage roof replaced. It was finished in one very hot day by five laborers. Their persistence and craftsmanship were remarkable. Sweating and tired, they had accomplished something a significant percentage of college-elites could not possibly have accomplished. Yet, their profession is discounted and society does not grant them social achievement or notable financial benefits. They are treated as a pseudo servant class similar to the workers on Downton Abbey.

There are remedies. But a lot is in the hands of all three branches of federal and state government.

A relatively easy repair would be to reinstate the legislation that required corporations to guarantee full retirement – a deliberate target of Reaganites in the last century. Also in the last century, right to work laws were imposed deliberately to abolish unions.

Fortunately, educators are making a move toward labor-style education beyond high school – not through conscientiousness, mind you, economics is forcing the change.

A bit more sophisticated is to reintroduce labor to community boards and agencies so that labor has a voice at the street level. This was a function of labor unions back in the day.

The last repair is visibly represented in another The Week cartoon:

The seemingly irrational objection by MAGA labor to discretionary spending, which helps the unwealthy, is that the government is not providing a viable economic structure – the rich continue to grow richer and the poor continue to grow poorer.

One simple example is the resistance government has to raising the minimum wage (childcare and many other family economic issues would disappear).

Mariner feels this may be the most difficult obstruction to repair. Philosophically, the United States does not have unlimited access to resources; capitalism works best when everyone can have a share of benefits. Given the disruption of global warming, an emerging redefinition of what a nation is, the excessive over-population of the planet, international corporate control of supply chains, etc., capitalism must make room for socialism – a most difficult task for a nation created as a capitalist dreamland.

Ancient Mariner


It’s the Culture

Ever so slowly, thinkers and writers, even in the news industry, have begun to ferret out the real battleground in today’s hectic lifestyle. It is a battle of tradition – the American image that has been bred into most Americans: John Wayne westerns, heroic lone cowboy stories, empire builders like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. It is a culture of champions who did it all alone, singular champions. The result is a culture where a citizen must be self-reliant, a champion of accomplishment, a Jason pursuing the golden fleece.

On the other hand, there is the culture of elitism, of intellect, of accomplishment within the sophisticated empire-building of American economics. Successful people are granted tenure, bonuses, and protected asset security.

What can a lone cowboy with a lariat do to deal with a twenty-story building?

Many irrelevant issues substitute for a direct attack, which, politically or militarily, cowboys would not win. Consequently, race, sex, education, work issues, and religious infighting are part of a multi-front attack on the culture of elitism. It is working because legislators are busy protecting their own elected position and the economic hoarders, who also dislike the smarty college elite, are underwriting the cowboy cause.

Given the lack of fairness and ignoring the concept of ‘one vote’, the cowboy attack has gained territory. The biggest weapon is gerrymandering. The second obvious attack is to manipulate the judicial system in its entirety.

But as in any war, the cost is heavy. The invasion of public school boards, backed by legislators, has collapsed the idea that a trained college graduate is responsible for curriculum.

Abortion has been irrationally trashed and weaponized. Mariner’s mother died because she could not get an abortion. In any medical issue, including prescriptions and vaccinations, it is the college-trained physician who should set policy.

Discretionary spending by elitist-controlled governments is attacked because the policies invade private life through health insurance, child care, Social Security, small business and elderly care among many more. The fiscal conservatives share the isolationist philosophy when it comes to ‘government invasion into private life’.

Any cultural standard set by the college-elite democrats is at risk, sometimes perhaps for irrational reasons. The elites, to be fair, have their own prejudices which don’t necessarily help matters, e.g., NIMBY.

Racism, a side battlefront, is exacerbated by the energies of the cowboy war; attacks on Chinese and Arabic races have increased, as well as joining in the battle against black history.

Unfortunately, the seven-word social philosophy uttered by Rodney King is not an option.

  • – –

Mariner is reminded of a metaphor: He used to belong to a weekly poker club comprised of old codgers. Actually, it was a social club but poker was the reason to gather. Those poker games were the worst poker mariner has ever played. The codgers had developed a pattern of options. For example, before a dealer dealt, he would announce, “deuces and the last card you’re dealt are wild.” Another gambit was borrowed from children’s games: “Pass the first and last cards to the right”.

Obviously, these poker players were not students of poker probabilities so they did everything they could to make the probabilities irrelevant. So it is with the cowboy war.

Now throw in Artificial Intelligence.

Ancient Mariner

Who are you?

As we live each day, dealing with the nitty-gritty of each hour and minute, as we get pushed around by schedules and interpersonal dialogue, as we absorb the distractions of the world at large, we lose track of who we are.  We are a montage of feelings, responsibilities, and social obligations. But how do we manage this montage? How do we create sensible order and priority using the guiding principles of our behavior?

What follows is an informal examination of the core principles that guide an individual’s priorities and opinions. It isn’t absolute, of course, but it is an interesting opportunity to focus on our own motivators.

The examination is very general, focusing on the rules of general behavior and belief rather than habits and idiosyncrasies.


Philosophy of life is the Bible for your attitude. What kind of treatment can other people expect from you? Is it “Every man for himself” or perhaps “What’s best for everybody” or “Do it right or forget it”? Another way of putting it is, “What do I owe to the world?”


For 300,000 years, evolution carefully crafted a creature whose survival depended on groups; the deep processes of the brain gave priority to interpersonal awareness. Limited by physical capability and an environment full of life-threatening situations, the human found safety in family and inter-family (tribal) association. In less than 5,000 years, this balance has shifted as humans chose to neutralize the environment, which lessened the need for families, groups and tribes. Still, using the time clock of evolution, humans haven’t changed and remain a social creature. Consequently, certain social aberrations have become common; many would classify murdering fellow humans with an assault rifle to be an example; hoarding excessive wealth would be another; castigating people for differences in sexual hormone balance could be another. Loneliness and suicides are rising.

But the objective in this examination is your perspective. Do you behave among others in a manner that reflects your philosophy of life? If your philosophy is ‘every man for himself’ why would you be concerned about the characteristics of another person? If you follow a righteous doctrine, why would you advocate racist and sexual castigation? Another way of putting it is, “What do I owe to protect the world?”

It is the existence of imbalance between your philosophical categories and actual behavior that causes general irritability, sadness or an attitude of laissez faire toward society in general. Biologically, humans still need groups. Some may call it fellowship.


Economics is a practical interpretation of your philosophy of life. You may need to pause a moment to recognize how what makes you feel secure in life relates to your philosophy of life. You should note contradictions because this suggests you are not self-aware regarding your behavior.

As an example, a person who says “My philosophy is what’s best for everyone” but advocates capitalist priorities does not have a matching philosophy of life and economics. From the other end, a person who believes in communistic economics may be ignorant of their contradiction having a philosophy that advocates ‘every man for himself’. Another way of putting it is, “What should I share with the world?”

If you have not given thought to the relationship in your life between ethics and economics, you may be surprised that you have some reconciliation to do.


It is obvious that the body requires continuous attention and further, is a component affected by your philosophy of life. Medical studies indicate that ignoring the health and physical capacity of the body undercuts the ambition to fulfill any philosophy of life, whichever it may be. In other words, your desire to sustain your philosophy of life requires a body to match. If your philosophy is ‘what’s best for everybody’, your desire to participate in that philosophy requires energy, positive attitude and other energies that require a healthy and energetic body. There are disabling influences at every turn from television to soft recliners to petty prejudices. Another way of putting it is, “How do I pull my weight in the world?”

֎ So that is the self-examination. Does your behavior, habits, commitments, and finances match your philosophy of life? Whichever philosophy you choose isn’t the point – it’s a matter of your lifestyle matching that philosophy.

In retrospect, there may be some readers who would say the examination is upside down, that it is a person’s personal attributes that define their philosophy of life. This suggestion reflects a legitimate approach to problem solving; mariner often has referred to ‘what’ versus ‘why’ problem solving. This examination requires a general declaration first to assure continuity and expose contradictions in life that make life more awkward. One significant example will show the importance of stating a philosophy of life first:

There are many who consider themselves Christians but in terms of behavior are not. The New Testament sets a standard of behavior (philosophy) that must be practiced. There are many ways to ignore or abuse the New Testament and still pretend one is a Christian. In practice, one has fooled themselves into thinking they are a person they are not. By answering the question ‘what do I owe the world’ first, it will be easier to discover discordant practices.

The objective of this examination is to iron out wrinkles and discover who one really is. Answering the question “What do I owe the world?” first provides a ruler or standard that may require an adjustment in behavior. Conversely, one may have to go back and declare a different philosophy that encompasses a different way of measuring behavior.

Ancient Mariner



Language is a complex, embedded and demonstrative part of our consciousness. Language tells us who we are, what is important not only as a subject but what is important to our own reality. As an experiment, a set of words is listed below. On one side is MAGA words, on the other is WOKE words.

PAY                      SALARY

HOUSE                ASSET

PRIDE                  SUCCESS


WORK                 OFFICE

REPAIR                REMODEL

BILLS                   BUDGET


MORAL                PRAGMATIC


RUINED               INSURANCE

ANGRY                 OFFENDED

The list certainly isn’t a scientific analysis of the difference in expression but the fact that language is the expression of deeper feelings about self-identity, worthiness, and purpose in society is clear.

If one were to speculate on the differences in self-assurance between the MAGA and the WOKE, it might center on how long MAGA can continue to neutralize socially imposed feelings of inadequacy and unfairness. Roughly speaking, it began in the time of Ronald Reagan (1980s) but he is only the authority figure in a time of sudden change in American culture; The 80s are when the large generation of college graduates came into being thanks to the GI Bill of Rights, a surge in prosperity, and significant industrial automation.

The last forty years has seen a consolidation of privilege for what now are WOKE people through elimination of unions, suppressed wages during inflation, freeing corporations from guaranteeing retirement benefits, and governmental resistance to accommodating the isolated labor class via discretionary spending (health, social security, minimum wage, etc.).

So here we are today with a serious confrontation over ‘what America represents’.

What did you expect?

Ancient Mariner

Emerging Theocracy – or maybe Nazism?

From NPR – the whole article at

is horrifying not just for public libraries but for American democracy as well. One quote to show temperament:

“One of the board members said, ‘Well, what about this book? It’s about underage drinking, and underage drinking is illegal, so why would we have this book in the library?’ ” Dawe recalls. “And my question would be, ‘Where does that end? And what are you doing next? Where does this end?’ ”

U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, a Republican from Louisiana, has a thought on that.

Higgins recently tweeted about the future of public libraries, saying libraries have become “grooming centers” and that he wants to change the “whole public library paradigm” and help get funding for “beautiful, church-owned public-access libraries.”

The topic makes mariner feel unwell. He will leave this issue in the reader’s hands.

Ancient Mariner

Life experience shapes voting preferences

We are most often concerned about the growing count of retiring boomers and millennials  and what that means for health Care, assisted living and viable income. We are concerned about the number of houses available for those in midlife. We are concerned about sidewalks crowded with the indigent homeless. Certainly, these are real, critical issues. But what is important to those of the younger generation just starting out on the adult path through life? Here’s an exegesis perspective drawn from AXIOS and other sources:


Fear of the future is mobilizing young Americans, who grew up in an age of mass shootings, to vote in near-record numbers, Axios’ Erica Pandey writes.

Last year’s midterms saw the second-highest turnout among voters under 30 (27%) in at least the past three decades, NPR notes.

Nearly half of Americans 18 to 29 say they’ve felt unsafe in the past month, according to a new poll from the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics.  This is a generation that feels besieged, says John Della Volpe, the institute’s polling director.

21% say they’ve felt unsafe at school. And 40% are concerned about being victims of gun violence or a mass shooting.

This critical voting bloc continues to tilt the scales in favor of Democratic candidates — whom young people overwhelmingly support. Young voters’ influence “enabled the Democrats to win almost every battleground statewide contest and increase their majority in the U.S. Senate,” Brookings Institution analysts write.

Younger voters are also quite worried about the state of the economy:

73% believe that homelessness could happen to anyone and 32% fear they could one day be homeless. That share rises to 43% and 39% among Hispanic and Black youth.

The boomers and the millennials and too many from the silent generation still are running the nation and its society. The oldsters should be glad to be old and to have finished Jason’s ‘Arc of the Hero’. But the oldsters should have guilt about the shape of society they have left for the youngsters.

As a preschooler, Mariner remembers the blackouts ordered by sirens and the prevalence of uniformed men everywhere. His grandmother volunteered for the Air Defense Command and tracked airplanes in flight. Lying in bed at night, he actually trembled until he could recognize that it was only a passing train instead of a German bomber. Over the years of his life, he has felt disdain for wars – not just prejudice but the idea of killing people for the hell of it. [the reader may recall the Jolly Roger cartoon from the previous post]

We mature types owe our children some headway in our emerging society – not Trump, not Biden, not McCarthy, not even Marjorie Taylor Greene – we owe our children.

How can we mow a path to civility through this morass of thistle-bearing society we have created?

Ancient Mariner.


These times they are a-changin

֎ Americans retiring now are going it alone: They’re the first generation to rely on private savings instead of pensions to navigate the financial unknown of retirement.

֎ Private Equity has moved into health services. Their objective isn’t health, its profit. They said so themselves. Here’s an example: The term is ‘noncompete’.  It’s a clause in a doctor’s contract that says they cannot practice medicine outside their own facility; if they leave, they cannot care for prior patients.

֎ School districts in Nevada, Iowa, Virginia, California and other states are embracing “equitable grading,” which minimizes the importance of daily homework and focuses on final projects and tests. In short, to be fair to students with and without smartphones or computers, with or without after-school jobs and bussed or walking home. More emphasis will be put on in-class performance.

֎ The average American is roughly six times more likely to die in the coming year than his counterpart in Switzerland. American infants are less likely to turn 5, American teenagers are less likely to turn 30, and American 30-somethings are less likely to survive to retirement. Gun deaths among U.S. children and teens have doubled in the past 10 years, reaching the highest level of gun violence against children recorded this century.

֎ College professors are using ChatGTP to write recommendations on behalf of students. Faculty writes loads of these every year, in support of applications for internships, fellowships, industry jobs, graduate school, university posts.

֎ This one is not new but perhaps we should take note. A man or woman with conviction is a hard person to change. Tell them you disagree and they turn away. Show them facts or figures and they question your sources. Appeal to logic and they fail to see your point … Suppose that they are presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that their belief is wrong: what will happen? They will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of their beliefs than ever before.

Some things never change – about ourselves.

Ancient Mariner

Whither we go?

Perhaps this post is a form of Requiem Mass for Bed, Bath and Beyond. Further, a favorite local branch of the department store Shopko, also has passed. There is a mall in a good-sized town nearby that was the center of a shopping beehive fifteen years ago. It stands empty, stark testimony to a time gone by.

Mariner walked down the main street of his small town noting the sparse retail presence. When he first visited sixty years ago, the town was the business heart of the county and enjoyed a farmer shopping invasion every Saturday. It’s hard to believe this small town once hosted three farm implement shops and two car dealerships.

Today, rural society suffers great duress – which is reflected in national politics.

But the issue goes beyond small towns and rural living. Society, as a phenomenon, is tied to resource management, specie sustainability and a balance with the greater environment. This is the intended lifestyle not only of humans but all types of species – especially our fellow primates.

As mariner has lamented many times, the tribal culture is a solution to the above-mentioned phenomena. Tribal association has proven to be a sustainable lifestyle even in tumultuous times like war. Today, extended families and tribal economies are shredded and spread around the world.

Whither we go? There are two movies to recommend. One, of course is Matrix, an oft-touted movie about the distant future when humans lived their entire life in a coffin supported by automated life sustainability and a three-dimensional, interactive reality fed to them electronically. The other movie, which reflects the conflagration of society today, is a dark comedy about life. It’s called “Little Murders’. Check it out on YouTube.

While it is true that mariner is an old fogie and well past his generational prime, he is not unduly stupid. He once watched a young person put on one of those face masks that supplanted visual and reflex behaviors with a Matrix-like reality. Add to this the dissipation of extended family, de-socialization of public schooling with laptops, smartphones, home delivery of anything and everything, cashless economy, robots for anything from cleaning house and cutting grass to the most private pleasures, and one can say, “Who needs limbic response?”

Whither we go?

Goodbye, Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Ancient Mariner

The REAL Election Results

Printed by Politico

Here are your Lobbying Disclosure Act revenue rankings for the first quarter of 2023.

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck: $15.8 million (versus $15.6 million in Q4 2022 and $15.4 million in Q1 2022)

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: $13.4 million (versus $14.1 million in Q4 2022 and $13 million in Q1 2022)

Holland & Knight: $10.8 million (versus $11.1 million in Q4 2022 and $10.1 million in Q1 2022)

BGR Group: $10.2 million (versus $10.1 million in Q4 2022 and $9.6 million in Q1 2022)

Cornerstone Government Affairs: $9.8 million (versus $9.5 million in Q4 2022 and $9.2 million in Q1 2022)

Invariant: $9.7 million (versus $9.9 million in Q4 2022 and $9.2 million in Q1 2022)

Thorn Run Partners: $6.5 million (versus $6.7 million in Q4 2022 and $6.4 million in Q1 2022)

Capitol Counsel: $6.3 million (versus $6.5 million in Q4 2022 and $6 million in Q1 2022)

Mehlman Consulting: $6.3 million (versus $6.4 million in Q4 2022 and $6.4 million in Q1 2022)

Forbes Tate Partners: $6.1 million (versus $6.2 million in Q4 2022 and $6.1 million in Q1 2022)

Squire Patton Boggs: $6 million (versus $6.1 million in Q4 2022 and $7.2 million in Q1 2022)

Crossroads Strategies: $5.9 million (versus $6 million in Q4 2022 and $5.8 million in Q1 2022)

Tiber Creek Group: $5.8 million (versus $6.3 million in Q4 2022 and $6.3 million in Q1 2022)

K&L Gates: $5.5 million (versus $5.3 million in Q4 2022 and $5.2 million in Q1 2022)

Cassidy & Associates: $5.4 million (versus $5.6 million in Q4 2022 and $5.5 million in Q1 2022)

Subject Matter: $4.8 million (versus $4.8 million in Q4 2022 and $4.9 million in Q1 2022)

Van Scoyoc Associates: $4.8 million (versus $6 million in Q4 2022 and $4.5 million in Q1 2022)

Alpine Group: $4.6 million (versus $4.7 million in Q4 2022 and $4.2 million in Q1 2022)

Ballard Partners: $4.5 million (versus $4.3 million in Q4 2022 and $4.4 million in Q1 2022)

Monument Advocacy: $3.9 million (versus $3.6 million in Q4 2022 and $3.3 million in Q1 2022)




— Fierce Government Relations: $3.2 million (versus $3.2 million in Q4 2022 and $3.2 million in Q1 2022)


— Venable: $3 million (versus $2.9 million in Q4 2022 and $2.4 million in Q1 2022)


— Kountoupes Denham Carr & Reid: $2.9 million (versus $3 million in Q4 2022 and $2,820,000 million in Q1 2022)


— Venn Strategies: $2.8 million (versus $2.6 million in Q4 2022 and $2.8 million in Q1 2022)


— Vogel Group: $2.6 million (versus $2.7 million in Q4 2022 and $2.2 million in Q1 2022)


— Miller Strategies: $2.9 million* (versus $2.5 million* in Q4 2022 and $2 million* in Q1 2022)


*Estimated based on Senate disclosure filings. All other numbers have been verified by the firms.




Chamber of Commerce of the U.S.A.: $18.7 million (versus $21 million in Q4 2022 and $18.7 million in Q1 2022)

National Association Of Realtors: $13.3 million (versus $25.3 million in Q4 2022 and $12.1 million in Q1 2022)

Pharmaceutical Research And Manufacturers Of America: $8 million (versus $6.6 million in Q4 2022 and $8.1 million in Q1 2022)

CVS Health (and subsidiaries): $7 million (versus $3.8 million in Q4 2022 and $3.7million in Q1 2022)

American Medical Association: $6.7 million (versus $5.1 million in Q4 2022 and $6.5 million in Q1 2022)

American Hospital Association: $5.6 million (versus $7 million in Q4 2022 and $5.4 million in Q1 2022)

The Cigna Group and subsidiaries (formerly Cigna Corporation and subsidiaries): $5.2 million (versus $1 million in Q4 2022 and $3.6 million in Q1 2022)

General Motors Company: $5.1 million (versus $1.8 million in Q4 2022 and $4.7 million in Q1 2022)

The Business Roundtable, Inc.: $4.8 million (versus $5.3 million in Q4 2022 and $4.8 million in Q1 2022)

America’s Health Insurance Plans, Inc. (AHIP): $4.7 million (versus $2.5 million in Q4 2022 and $4.7 million in Q1 2022)

Amazon.Com Services LLC: $4.6 million (versus $4.8 million in Q4 2022 and $5 million in Q1 2022)

Pfizer Inc.: $4.6 million (versus $3.1 million in Q4 2022 and $3.8 million in Q1 2022)

Meta Platforms, Inc. and various subsidiaries: $4.6 million (versus $3.7 million in Q4 2022 and $5.4 million in Q1 2022)

CTIA-The Wireless Association: $4.5 million (versus $4.5 million in Q4 2022 and $3.7 million in Q1 2022)

Northrop Grumman Corporation: $4.3 million (versus $2.1 million in Q4 2022 and $4.4 million in Q1 2022)

AARP: $3.9 million (versus $4.2 million in Q4 2022 and $3.5 million in Q1 2022)

Boeing Company: $3.8 million (versus $4 million in Q4 2022 and $2.7 million in Q1 2022)

UPS (United Parcel Service): $3.7 million (versus $1.4 million in Q4 2022 and $4.3 million in Q1 2022)

Edison Electric Institute: $3.6 million (versus $2 million in Q4 2022 and $2.8 million in Q1 2022)

Elevance Health, Inc.: $3.6 million (versus $1.3 million in Q4 2022 and $2.1million in Q1 2022)




Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck: Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc. ($1.4 million)

Tributary LLP: HR Policy Association ($990,000)

Covington & Burling: Qualcomm Incorporated ($790,000)

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: Gila River Indian Community ($760,000)

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: Partnership to Address Global Emissions, Inc. ($640,000)

Ballard Partners: Renewable Energy Aggregators, Inc. ($630,000)

Squire Patton Boggs: Wau Holland Stiftung ($600,000)

Sidley Austin: Illumina, Inc. ($550,000)

Covington & Burling: Apple Inc. ($540,000)

Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer: Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) ($410,000)


What plutocracy?

Ancient Mariner