How will change come?

Let’s face it: the world we experience today, with its reminiscences of the last century, with an international consortium beginning to look ragged and stressed and the culture is not the public dynamo it once was. Acknowledging the passing of political and cultural time, add to that a new and very dominating influence by intellectualized computers; add to that significant worldwide changes in population where wealthy nations are losing population generally then add that the entire planet is exacerbated by global warming that shifts farms into deserts, valleys into seas and expensive devastation to urban life.

The new age promises better management of health, a new interpretation of the work week, increased agricultural economy, a burst of jobs to upgrade old technologies, old roads, improved water management, stronger and more flexible supply chains and a new economy that is international and replaces some of the role of nation-specific economies.

But the vision isn’t clear. There is fog everywhere and rumblings are heard. For a hundred years the white collar culture was the spine of American society. A college education with its focus on liberal arts and a college experience that instilled a unifying grace among graduates. Even with fog about, one can see liberal arts fading rapidly; one can see that what has become important is job training, not intellectual perception.

There is a sense that the relationship between capitalism and democracy is crumbling. This has led to dysfunctional governments from the Federal Government to County districts. The cultural spine has disappeared. Lack of cultural spine has allowed big corporations to expand without obligation to the citizenry and has allowed oligarchical greed to flourish.

But isn’t it supposed to be a big new world? Isn’t progress a way to grow society? isn’t a changing world the secret to sustaining life? The trouble is that humans have been taking out loans from the biosphere; extinct species have passed 20,000 and what’s left is threatened – because humans haven’t repaid the loans.

Clearly, the three-branches of government have been compromised by weaponized political parties. What events will occur to regain unity through grace? What economic shift will bring 25 percent of the nation’s citizens back to an ability to survive?

There are some bad thoughts. Since the beginning of human existence when major shifts in religion, culture or economics occurred, the shift included a war. Will we have a war with China? The Middle East? Economies everywhere are unsteady because of overpopulation and the stressed biosphere. Will the US have another civil war?

We will have to wait and see.

What are the tools society needs to build a new cultural spine? All the tools are handy at the individual citizen level. A powerful tool is one’s right to vote. Has the nation used this tool appropriately and with good judgment? Make an effort to casually connect with all your neighbors – without politics as a subject. Bring the whole family together for a week. Occasionally attend a legislative hearing or a staged conversation with politicians. Look for fresh candidates.

All-in-all, however, no one knows how the future will play out – yet.

Ancient Mariner

Data Breach

Suddenly, mariner’s two favorite magazines, The Atlantic and Scientific American, are writing articles about mariner’s favorite topic, the demise of the human race to be replaced by electronic life – the Armageddon of us. It’s as though the magazines have accessed mariner’s unknown library of posts and have decided to frighten him to death by implementing his quick order long before he expected it. He was speculating the transition of power from human brains to total computer domination sometime 30-50 years into the future. No, no, the magazines say. They say “Surprise, mariner, it happens today!”

Readers know that recently tech scientists were able to create a self-producing biological app by connecting an electronic sequence with the chemical sequence of a chromosome. Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein both said that if electronically-driven devices can reproduce themselves, the humans would become extinct because of the overhead of mammalian survival.

The news this very day is that no less than the honorable and wise Elon Musk has been able to implant a socket into a human brain – a socket that allows a computer to plug into the brain. Those who have watched Matrix know this is exactly what the evil electronic empire did to the entire population including Neo. (Actually, Neo volunteered to have the plug inserted so he could access the fake world of the evil empire).

A much publicized Congressional hearing was held yesterday with the Big Six of the technical world trying, but not successfully, to introduce humanist values into their tech world. It already has been proven time over time that they control too much of the daily behavior of humans and ignore the laws against monopolization to assure there is no corner where the human subconscious can operate without tech influence.

Beyond mariner’s magazines are the special intellectual streaming channels that speak of the future impacts on the biosphere, not to mention society. Even in the curricula of the most successful trade school in America, YouTube (mariner calls it ‘Junk University’; he has a degree in gardening), the TED Talk series has had recognized professors suggesting that there will be three major controllers in the future: Eastern politics, western politics and, managing the economics of the entire planet, Artificial Intelligence.

Remember horse carriages, ponies and chopping wood for the fire to cook homegrown pork stew?

To add insult to injury, The Atlantic wrote an entire, lengthy article about the evils of being Chicken Little. Chicken Little has been a dependable alter ego for mariner since mariner began his post in 2013. Chicken Little’s behavior is different but logical. If one is burned by a fire, one learns not to get burned by fire. The article suggests that one should take the offensive and stick their hand back into the fire in an effort to take control of the situation. Any social psychology evaluation would acknowledge there are moments when retreat is the best option. Consider the innocent population of Gaza: Should they stay at home and be bombed to death or retreat (in unconscionable conditions)? Much of middle America has scant resources to spend in a battle where they will have little influence.

Neo, where are you?

Ancient Mariner

Death by Prejudice

Please, please dear readers, forgive him but mariner needs to make a point.

Heretic, Redskin, Spic, Nigger, Wetback, Chink, Jap, Heb, Whop, Fag, Heine, A-rab, Polock, Trumper, Woke, Evangelical, Homo, poor . . . .

The United States, from the beginning, has had a serious social disease called prejudice. At many moments in its history prejudice meant death, often physical abuse, expulsion, and economic exclusion. As early as the 1600s Christian sects would perform many abusive, often deadly acts on other sects. Today, among many prejudicial groups, the Evangelicals are excluding homosexuals; two states have made it illegal to deal with homosexuals.

This is not a church sermon. It may be, as more and more nations assimilate in joint leadership (European Union), the United States may not transition very well to the global unification that will occur as soon as the Middle East (internationally bound by Islam) settles down to levels of civility.

Since the Second World War, most US international relations are militaristic, echoing international agreements from several wars during the late 2000s. What is beginning to emerge is a new era of colonialism that will have more sharing than the British and French had in their eras of colonialism during the 1800s and early 1900s.

China and India, America’s fellow sumo class nations, are active in colonizing the southern hemisphere. China is courting Peru, the world’s largest reserve of Lithium. Russia still pulls strings in Cuba. India is partnering with several African Nations. The US? We’re having trouble with fags, let alone a continent of Hispanics. In addition to southern hemisphere negotiations, China already is negotiating to install its Silk Road project which will encompass all of Asia, the Middle East, Russia and the Eastern EU nations.

Does it occur to anyone, especially the nation’s esteemed Congress, that the immigration issue would go away if the US were promoting its own Silk Road in Central America, the Caribbean and South America?

As everyone knows, the world is in turmoil because of climate, technology, population and natural resources. Might it be that those nations who are capable of redefining statehood may have a better chance at survival?

Ancient Mariner


The Matrix approaches

Did the reader see Walmart’s press release about how they plan to use AI? Their plan is to manage your purchases for you. They will track your purchase history a la Google and assume what your purchasing choices will be and when they will occur. Then your purchases will be delivered to you in an automated driving EV.

This will require Walmart to create a home network that includes your refrigerator (dare mariner say ‘icebox’?), tracking items with guarantee end dates, expiration dates and time-specific items like prescriptions and consumption history. What Walmart doesn’t mention is only they know the real price of things; shopping for best price is no longer an option for you.

Isn’t progress wonderful? First, having a telephone means you don’t have to leave your nest to talk to a neighbor; Second, having a television means you don’t have to leave you nest for entertainment; Third, having online purchasing means you don’t have to leave your nest to visit a store to buy things; Fourth, you don’t have to leave your nest to purchase groceries and other household items – including furniture, curtains, etc. Fifth and most important, if you are lonely you don’t have to leave your nest for company when you can hook up with facebook and other social media services – you can even look for a spouse or sell and buy your automobile without leaving your nest.

So the reader is at great liberty and freedom just to sit in their electric recliner (dare mariner say ‘rocking chair’?)

Has the reader seen the movie ‘The Matrix’? The screen is filled with human-like action seen in online gaming shows but what is important to note is that all of civilization lives in electrified coffins living what each person thinks is a real life but it is provided electronically by the evil boss of artificial intelligence; they are maintained in this dream state so the evil boss can use them as batteries.

Modern technology has improved things quite a bit. The residence is roomier and the human is allowed to remain physically supple; the coffin is replaced by the electric recliner. What is different today is that you are confined to your nest so the evil economy can take your money. Well, maybe your battery power, too, at some future date.

If you would like to electronically visit mariner, he has a showing in his rocking chair every Tuesday. Your credit card balance will be affected automatically.

Ancient Mariner

Let the primaries begin

Mariner is aware that any given person may have personal reasons for casting votes for a given Congressional candidate. He does not expect that his observations will be universal. Still, he must acknowledge the will of Amos to express an opinion. Mariner and Amos have focused only on both houses of the U.S. Congress. Specific candidate names will not be offered.

The most important recommendation is to consider age as a number one issue. The U.S. Congress is the oldest in History. Technology and economic abuse are unfettered;  the Congress requires younger representatives that are experienced enough in contemporary life to at least identify the issues. While it is true that campaign circumstances may force a voter to look at other priorities, always keep age as an important consideration. He suggests a cap at age 55.

Virtually every large issue affects women more than it does men. There are fringe women just as there are fringe men but a women with a balanced view of life will pay more attention to the human side of legislation. If the reader’s choice is between a man and a woman, give a nod toward the woman – up to age 55.

Given the above priorities, there are some troublesome issues that require new leadership. For example, the U.S. has to curtail its financial support for every war on the planet. Global warming, balancing the health industry and a growing retirement class each will require large sums of Federal support.

The issue of immigration at the southern border requires candidates with new theories and ideas about new investment in Latin countries to stem what will otherwise be a growing concern because of global warming. The government must stop treating immigrants as if they are in line to see a movie. This is a specific political issue as well since Latinos are the fastest growing race in the nation. It wouldn’t hurt if a candidate were bilingual – in any language but especially in Spanish.

The nation’s economy is holding on and has survived the flush of money that helped citizens during the pandemic. Still, the wealthy, he means WEALTHY 10 percent of U.S. citizens sit on untold wealth that is neither taxed nor actively engaged in promoting the Gross Domestic Product. The resolution of this situation clearly is different between the national parties but whatever party with which the voter identifies, judge the candidate by their plans for the economy – especially discretionary spending; there are some candidates wanting to dismantle tax breaks for retirees, cut Social Security benefits, health services, and focused targets like SNAP, minimum wage and housing.

If, in the voter’s own precinct, there are local candidates running for Congress, think about electing someone you may identify with better than your feelings about a nationally-backed candidate already in office. There must be someway to vote for local representatives not pushed on local folks by the national Political Action Committees. When Senator Al Franken resigned from Congress, he confessed that his mornings were spent on the phone looking for financial contributors. Somehow, voters have to break up the growing plutocracy. Vote for local people who can represent the voter’s world in Congress.

Donald Trump is an airborne grenade. Run away!

Ancient Mariner


Living life on carnival rides

Spending some time in Chicken Little’s henhouse, where news broadcasts and publications are not allowed, mariner has become aware of how myopic news programming is. Many readers will agree that if one watches the news on Monday then watches the news a week later, it’s the same news. Perhaps Fox news, MSNBC, all the social media sources and ‘streaming’ news together have set the bar very low in terms of other topics that, while not blowing things up, starving people, giving coverage to useless and mostly conspiratorial congressmen, may have more impact on the near future of mankind. Below are a couple of topics that are very important and are changing reality on a daily basis.


Back in 2014 Elizabeth Kolbert wrote a scholarly treatise about the rapid decline of the world’s creatures. A quote from the flyleaf of The Sixth Extinction – An unnatural history:

“Over the last half billion years, there have been five major extinctions, when the diversity of life on Earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us.”

Elizabeth cites the disappearance of over 16,000 species of every nature and every family of creatures. There are too many humans (see Overpopulation below) taking up way too much space, consuming way too much of the planet’s reserve of chemicals, and by their nature, deliberately and wantonly destroying critical balances in the Earth’s environment.

Through technology and industrialization, humans have been able to flaunt the natural restraints of Mother Nature, enabling humans to live longer, live conveniently and ignore disturbances in the planet’s biosphere – at the cost of 16,000 innocent creatures and, since the 19th century, destabilizing the careful balance of global weather; an issue that is important enough to make the news. For the last 300,000 years, the weather has been unusually stable, allowing an excellent opportunity for all creatures to flourish. That stability is rapidly disappearing. The inability of humans to evaluate human economics versus planetary economics may be the doom to life on Earth as we have known it.

Humans, being the smarty pants that they are, abide by a major perspective: “If it can be done, do it”. In this vein, humans may be adding themselves to the list of species that are becoming extinct. Less than a year ago, scientists celebrated a special accomplishment: They were able to marry a computer sequence with a chromosome such that the computer sequence can reproduce itself. Now computer programmers themselves may be out of a job. Two scientists, no less than Albert Einstein and  Stephen Hawking, held that if artificial intelligence can propagate itself, humans are too inefficient to compete and will become extinct.


Regular readers know that mariner has placed great stock in the similarity between mouse and rat overpopulation studies done in the 1960s and 70s and the state of human society today. Quoting managing scientist John Calhoun’s observation about the study:

“At the peak population, most mice spent every living second in the company of hundreds of other mice. They gathered in the main squares, waiting to be fed and occasionally attacking each other. Few females carried pregnancies to term, and the ones that did seemed to simply forget about their babies. They’d move half their litter away from danger and forget the rest. Sometimes they’d drop and abandon a baby while they were carrying it. The few secluded spaces housed a population Calhoun called, “the beautiful ones.” Generally guarded by one male, the females—and few males—inside the space didn’t breed or fight or do anything but eat and groom and sleep. When the population started declining the beautiful ones were spared from violence and death, but had completely lost touch with social behaviors, including having sex or caring for their young. At least the rodents had unlimited food and water – not true with the human population.To human advantage, humans have guns and bombs, shoot children and anyone that seems different. Is this enough to reduce population?

A special carnival ride is the combination of not enough food with climate change. The combination is trashing whole nations’ economies.

And with war on every continent, rising authoritarian governments that will enforce inequality, and artificial intelligence cutting society from the past like a pair of scissors, this is a grand carnival ride!

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

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





On democracy

The premise of this post is to examine the impact of progress upon the cultural perceptions that existed in 1778 when the United States was born. Progress is not a bad thing; the benefits in comfort, health and functional prowess cannot be denied. What also cannot be denied is that progress has altered human behavior.

The ideals of democracy, its philosophy and manner of governing, is a product of the Great Awakening, the intellectual era that lifted Europe and America out of the dark ages. Similar to citizen behavior today, the public held a defiant resistance against the power structures of the Dark Ages. The transition to a new culture where each individual participated in society was led by religious liberation from the corrupt and powerful control of Roman Catholicism. The Reformation, led by religious leaders, preached that every person had an equal place in the eyes of God.

Sociologically, human behavior at the time still was constricted by the primitive forms of communication and travel. There were large cities where trading and governance occurred but generally the common citizen was bound to local and regional economics and self-reliance on a day-to-day basis. The term used to cite this culture is ‘communalism’. This was the nature of society in 1778.

What follows is the description of a series of historical moments that changed the economics and social behavior of the public. It can be argued that the troubles of the United States in 2023 are the unintended result of progress.

֎ In 1778 it was virtually impossible for a citizen to communicate with anyone even 50 miles away. Daily responsibility to sustain survival took an immense amount of time, which also limited communication. As a result, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution proposed a distributed form of governance that would allow every citizen to have a say in that governance. Hence the creation of a democratic republic divided into states, counties and districts.

The intent, philosophically, was to have each district contribute political or legislative needs and elected representatives that would be submitted to the county, then to the state. Each state then met with all the other states to pass legislation that accommodated local needs for the entire nation. In 1778, this process allowed each citizen, in principal, to participate in governing the nation in a way that accommodated a locally isolated society. The flow of information and decision making rose from the local communities, processed by the next level of governance and finally to represent national policies.

֎ In 1827 The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad opened its lines. The isolated nature of communal economics changed rapidly. Especially in agriculture, it was possible to integrate farm produce in quantities that required processing companies and much wider distribution to the end user. The local farmer was not dependent just on local markets to sustain his financial security. The bottom-up politics of communal economy had been displaced; processing corporations influenced many different districts, counties and states, often appealing directly to states and the national government. Further, transportation was a new political force that influenced national politics without the need to follow the bottom-up philosophy of democracy.

֎ From April 12, 1861 – April 26, 1865 the American Civil War caused severe damage to the idea of local self-sustenance. The war destroyed many communities and killed more than 600,000 soldiers (comparable to 7 million in today’s population). At the end of the war many did not or could not return home. Despite the truce that ended the war, the philosophy of a democratic republic continued to suffer because of racism and unwanted intrusion in Confederate states by the national government. Communalistic representation suffered a permanent change in daily life.

Even today the political scars remain that cause the two-party system to operate inappropriately in light of the philosophy of a democratic republic.

֎ The next culture-changing advancement in progress was the telegraph and telephone. The first public network was organized in 1877. Before 1877, if one wished to talk to another, it had to be face-to-face. Today, in 2023, we can recognize this new telecommunication device to be the first version of the smartphone! One more reason not to harness the pony and ride a mile and a half down the road.

As with all types of progress that covered many voting districts, the job of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was removed from communal economics and was, politically at least, in the hands of corporations. Retrospectively, one can see that the nation was quickly replacing democracy with corporatism.

֎ The ultimate collapse of communalism and bottom-up democracy was caused by the internal combustion engine. No one needed to keep the pony around anymore. State fairs became popular and represented the local remnants of communalism – just as they do today. Still, it was a burden to travel too far on two lane roads that meandered from town to town having followed old roads from one community to another (Remember Route 66? It was started by Indians.). The two World Wars facilitated shifts in population to support industries needed by the wars, causing a breakup and redistribution of communal families. But the final blow came when Ike created the Interstate system. One could travel on roads that were not managed by states – only by national government contracts.

A ghost of the past is sustained by air travel. Remember your parents who still live in the old home where you were born? It takes an airplane to get there and back in a reasonable time.

So here we are today with an electorate that has no voting power. Political opinion no longer comes from dialogue within a community. The power lies with corporations and the wealthy class who fund very expensive campaigns most local people cannot afford and forces the communal person to pick from television ads, biased news programs and gaming strategies like gerrymandering and avoiding term limits. One recent suggestion is rank voting, which may help with the act of voting, but will not repair communalism, aka democracy.

It is time to have a constitutional convention. Yes, the mariner is as afraid of such an event as anyone. The reality is, however, that democracy doesn’t work anymore. What is the new equality? What is the new ‘all men are created equal’? How do we get there from here? Will wearing a gaming goggle help?

Ancient Mariner