Communal life survives

The holiday season has begun and the town is enjoying itself with many appropriately focused activities. The willingness to volunteer is widespread. The churches, of course, are providing special dinners and services; the town has a day called “Merry on Main Street” where many commercial businesses are providing space and resources. There are locations where children can buy presents for their parents; a soup supper at the fire station; the library has Santa and Mrs. Claus; the local bank has a treat stop with cookies and other treats; there is a dance performance, and a truck and trailer that tours the streets, replete with Christmas lights and loud speakers, and a band playing Christmas carols. All volunteer.

Mariner visited a nearby town to hear a volunteer choir. The event is to support the continued survival of an old church whose architecture is historical. Those who participate provide many hours of practice and perform two shows and provide an open meal on the shore of the Mississippi River. All volunteer.

How wonderful is this reality compared to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, smart phones and Alexa, and 24 hours per day of horrific news broadcasts.

The magic comes from an honest desire from each individual to share themselves with the community. The motives are intensely apolitical and not commercial. Sharing is the spirit; a chance for individuals to share and identify with their community and its citizens.

These events are an excellent chance to get out of the house and the work rut to meet citizens in an informal and nonthreatening environment. Mariner’s use of the Cheers theme song rings true: “Every one is glad you came and everyone knows your name!

At a library sponsored Christmas dinner for its staff, Mariner met a probation officer! Mariner once was a probation officer, too (1970s). The two of us shared war stories. Now, how often does one meet a probation officer?

This communal world is really what a supposedly democratic philosophy is all about. It is locally managed, innocent, non-money-making, non-self aggrandizement that our government should be protecting. Dictatorships won’t do it; the current scary republican party won’t do it; a dysfunctional, weaponized Congress won’t do it.

Vote on behalf of your local community’s well being. The reader has an especially serious responsibility to get it right on voting day.

Ancient Mariner

More on systemic adaptation

In the last post, mariner used the transition from cash to online as an example of how humans shift behavior because that is how everyone else does it and there is some benefit attached. Money, credit cards and online shopping are obvious systemic adaptations – even the first telephone was a systemic adaptation. However, systemic adaptation is more complex when it is political, emotional or behavioral conditioning.

For example, is the MAGA movement an example of systemic adaptation? Why has a significant portion of the citizenry modified their behavior in a very similar fashion? What happened in our society that provoked this unified behavior?

Even more subtle is the shift in attitude within the democratic party. Why did the party become elitist and forget its roots in labor? Was it because everyone was behaving that way, aka systemic adaptation?

Why is it that rural folks typically are conservative while city folks tend to be liberal? The common behavior is too precise to be an individually determined mindset. Why is there a distinct difference in assumptions when comparing a rural town, a suburb and a slum?

It turns out that systemic adaptation is the same awareness that explains how a flock of thousands of birds can swirl through the air without breaking formation. It is a common subconscious ability in any species that requires social awareness – birds, mammals and even some fish.

Giving the frontal lobes their due, conscious manipulation of the environment is a survival skill that requires conscious focus and abstract reasoning – just like beavers, mice, magpies, monkeys and apes.

But most of our survival is managed by a deeply complex subconscious machine which requires an approval before anything is decided – frontal lobes included. It is the subconscious that allows humans to behave as they do – good or bad; the subconscious mind can be flawed like anything else.

Given a rare and extremely unusual reasoning power, humans are capable of complex uses of systemic adaptation. Hence, humans, clearly a social creature, adjust their behavior in many ways (MAGA or democrat? bowling league or flower club? college graduate or service worker? engineer or poet? parent or single?) adjusting social behavior accordingly.

What has motivated mariner to ponder systemic adaptability is the paradox in the last post: Do politicians, economists, and corporations control our systemic behavior or do we as citizens allow them to do so because of our indifference – in itself a systemic adaptation?

In any case, the trope is true: birds of a feather . . . .

Ancient Mariner


Catch up

Greetings, Readers

Real life distractions have drawn him away from the blog. Perhaps a few catch up thoughts should be offered.

Guru passed along some thoughts. Electing Biden for the first term was the right move; his personality, leadership style and long experience in Federal Government were the right move to heal Donald’s abrasions to government operations and establish momentum in national politics. Joe has done that despite COVID, inflation, the border wars and a prejudiced Congress. He moved policy toward dealing with global warming and several discretionary programs that were important to the citizenry.

Guru believes Biden made a serious mistake when he kept Kamala Harris as Vice President. Joe has a lot of dissatisfied democrats for several reasons, the most important being what democrat will take the lead in 2024. Joe was supposed to heal and leave. In 2024, he is facing rebellion among the state parties and progressives; he is suffering generally from public opinion about his age. Further, a slowly growing rebellion is showing up in Latino citizens, who, like the MAGAs, were never made welcome in the elitist democratic party. It was Biden’s duty to create a new democratic leader for national politics. Guru believes that if Biden had made his Vice President a strong leader personality three years ago, especially if that leader had good relations with Latinos, the 2024 election would be a landslide for the democrats. Imagine if the next democratic candidate for President took the stage and said, “Hablo Español!

Amos complained most about the Federal Government being grossly incompetent when dealing with artificial intelligence, health and welfare, corporate monopolies, all global warming issues from drought in the west, flooding in the south, reduction of oil dependency, etc., and wonders why Marjorie Taylor Greene has so much influence in Republican issues.

Has anyone seen Chicken Little? Please don’t say the word ‘apocalypse’.

Ancient Mariner

A new sign, a new hope

One of the main reasons mariner has had such a cynical view on the state of affairs is that there were no positive movements. Every issue was argumentative and intent on destruction of counter proposals. Every leader was either a democracy-busting dictator or an oligarch. Schools continue to crumble, wages remained static, the nation engaged in not one war but many, Mother Nature was coming down hard on global stability. Where was the hole in the fence? Where could we step through to a new, constructive society? There was only barbed wire and trump, a Hitler look-alike.

Until today. Flipping through the AOL news clips, mariner came upon the attached clip. It is the first positive sign in this century. Mind you, it is in its infancy and could be crushed in this societal hurricane. Nevertheless, it is a genuinely positive and constructive sign that there may be a hole in the fence. Please read to sustain hope.

Ancient Mariner

Survival skills

The really old folks can remember the times of the World Wars in the last century – the really big ones: WWI and WWII. The sadness of it all was the thousands of lives dying in battle day in, day out. It was a time when everyone grew ‘Victory’ vegetable gardens; it was a time when factories stopped making automobiles so they could concentrate on making tanks and other military devices; it was a time when the women came into the workforce because the draft was requiring every healthy male body into service; it was a time when grocery shopping was limited to how many food stamps you had and gasoline was limited to three gallons per week. As mariner has mentioned a time or two, Franklin Roosevelt was able to put a 100 percent tax on income above $35,000/year ($587,685 in 2023) – try getting that passed today!

At the intimate level, it was a terrible time. The national culture was ripped apart, destroying families, businesses and the general tone of human behavior. Interestingly, there was a strange feeling of satisfaction as all the citizens stepped forward to join the national cause; remember the famous ad “Uncle Sam wants You”? The availability of Taylor Swift images is peanuts compared to the continuous presence of Uncle Sam.

WWII pulled a national persona together that has never been so strong. Mariner gives pause today. It is not likely to unify a nation against Russians, Chinese, Israelis, Middle Eastern Arab nations . . . not even gays and abortions. Today our Nation is set upon by the internal wars of weaponized political parties and an oligarchical economy that not even FDR could tackle.

But what is our saving grace? Where is our unification? Where can one find a feeling of accomplishment in a fractured world? Turn away from television news. Replace it with local news, paying attention to what you see and feel in your existential life. Avoid the attack on human socialization – set time limits on the smartphones, Tik-Toc, Facebook and even choosing not to use self checkout and instead engaging another human being. Shop in a store with the whole family – remember stores?

The point is this: focus on family experiences, look continuously for feelings of personal worth and achievement within your own world – best found in talking to real, ‘right before your eyes’ humans. As Cheers advocated, go to a place where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came.

How long has it been since you went bowling? Remember playing pinochle with the neighbors? Have you tried pickle ball?  Jeezy Peezy!

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


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

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