It is over.

The battle to sustain individuality and Homo sapiens authenticity has been won by AI. Watch the following clip then read on:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s11k0yAA8ZQ

Already AI is good enough to write novels, essays, legal briefs and singlehandedly manage most trades on the stock exchange. The ability for anyone to write any style of entertainment is just one database away.

With the invention of the gene splitter Crispr, AI will be able to pool all human variations into a massive database so parents can pick any child they want. Who wants a Donald Trump lookalike? How about triplets that are the Kingston Trio?

But then AI will perceive that it is much simpler to have one version of humans; just think how efficient that would be for politics, medicine, and one would need only one football team.

Perhaps it will be less expensive if humans had no need to travel.

Welcome to Matrix.

Goodbye.

Ancient Mariner

Food for thought

The agricultural industry is entering an increasingly rapid pace of change. It was only yesterday (and today) that farmers were encouraged to use no-plow techniques for large crop fields. Basically, the intent is to let indigenous plants provide a cover crop so that (a) good soil will not continue to blow away or wash away (b) the indigenous plants will provide better chemistry and require less commercial plant food in the soil and (c) the indigenous plants would retain CO2 in the soil. Changing farming practices is very difficult for farmers.

There are other practices that are changing. A small number of commercially large farms have decided to pursue zero fossil fuel in their operation. Manure, crop waste solar power and chemical conversions are used to produce electricity, feed and fertilizer.

These and other similar efficiency-based crop practices are an excellent effort but the circumstances surrounding a human population approaching 8 billion by 2030 and little land left to increase agricultural production has taken farming in a different direction.

Everyone has heard of hydroponic gardening (grown in water without soil) but aggressive corporations are taking hydroponics to extreme levels. Soil and vast acreages have a small role to play in large quantity production. Combined with the use of solar and wind energy, these farms have no season – they are year-round.

 

Add to the plant operation the quandary of what to do about cows. Long a joke, it is a fact that through flatulence and digestion, cows produce 40 percent of atmospheric methane. Cows generate methane in two main ways: through their digestion and through their waste. Cows are part of a group of animals called ruminants. Ruminants have stomachs with four distinct chambers. Sheep, goats, and giraffes also are ruminants. Even on television there are ads suggesting that everyone fight climate change by not eating beef.

The other side of cow economics is provided by Mother Nature. She is causing drought and water shortage in the primary wheat-growing regions of the southwest. Cows et al eat wheat – and a lot of water!

There are critics who say “Why eat the cow? Eat the grass the cow would eat.” As mariner mentioned in an earlier post: Perhaps anchovies, scrapple and spam may become popular again.

Ancient Mariner

 

Pakistan

Until 2010, Pakistan was an economic powerhouse of the Middle East. Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at $263 billion was ten times larger than second ranked Sudan at $26 billion.

In 2010, Pakistan had more than a million acres flooded by a storm that swept giant ocean surges far inland, decimating the agricultural base of the nation. In 2022, mountain snow melt from the Himalayan mountains swamped the country’s entire economic base.

Pakistan is centrally located in the Middle East and has a long border with India. While border confrontations have occurred in Kashmir, the two nations recognize one another in trade. Pakistan is bound by Iran to the west, Afghanistan to the northwest and north, China to the northeast, and India to the east and southeast. The coast of the Arabian Sea forms its southern border. Clearly in the center of the Middle East and a gateway to China and India plus access to global seaports make Pakistan a natural player at the center of economics and politics.

But no more. Pakistan’s economy has collapsed; its government structure is dysfunctional. Recovering the damage to the citizenry will cost more than $16.3 billion.

Pakistan is cited because it is more than a small island nation sinking into rising seas. Pakistan was a worldwide player with a slowly but continuously growing reputation among its neighbors. But Mother Earth advanced the global warming war from the Arabian Sea and from the Himalayan mountains. A Putin-style bullet war could not do this much damage.

The seacoast of Pakistan looks a lot like the eastern seacoast of the United States, around Florida and all the way to the Texas/Mexico Border. Fortunately, the US is a much larger nation than Pakistan with more than one narrow agricultural area. So far, Mother Earth is lobbing notable storms into the Gulf coast and Florida; as a diversion, she is engineering a major water shortage in the Rockies and California and this year started on the Mississippi River – preventing many river-dependent supply chains from operating.

Nations are not messing with an inexperienced, underfunded adversary. It is the nations that are underfunded – by several magnitudes. As humans continue to throw Carbon Dioxide and Methane into the atmosphere, as humans barbarically continue to destroy and contaminate the Earth’s environment, as thousands of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians and microorganisms disappear, dare we expect that Mother Earth will turn her head away?

Will the US be able to maintain leadership in the world when trillions of dollars must be spent in the war with Mother Earth to salvage Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charlotte, one-third of the land mass of Florida, Houston, one-fourth of Louisiana, San Francisco and Seattle? Perhaps Central America will disappear, and the Panama Canal will not be needed.

Mariner has not invented this dilemma. All the assumptions already have been discussed by scientists and futurists. Like a real bullet war, the battlefronts will shift, and the time may drag on but a war it is.

Ancient Mariner

Democratic Nationalism

Television news, newspapers, magazines, internet news sources – all are filled with the difficulties of living in today’s topsy turvy world. Older folk can remember when the times had their difficulties, but the society was stable; people knew where they stood in the big picture. There is no big picture today. There are some worldwide, complex issues that may take several decades to reconcile.

Interestingly, the concept of ‘nation’ is under duress. This is due to a significant change in how economies work: supply chains are managed by corporations, not nations. An analogy would be that nations have become like unions in a struggle to control benefits. Also stressing nations is that the Internet and AI are too fast and too universal to be contained within superficial borders. It may come to pass that nations have a role more like regional collaborators for best practices rather than controlling economies directly.

Obviously, the issues with global resources and global warming together will be a major ‘earthquake’ as population outruns natural resources. These issues, too, will strain the role of a nation.

Riding such a high-speed rail of change raises risk for accidents. Nationalism is undergoing major adjustment in a new era; an accident may be to allow dictatorships or corporatism to replace much of nationalism’s role. Far more important than the old-fashioned East-West competition is to hold on to democracy. If democracy fails as a major philosophy and individuals no longer have a say in the world order, Armageddon will arrive much sooner – or some Matrix variation thereof.

Important news to follow is related to:

The philosophical outcome of Putin’s war. Is the European Union still one political entity (watch Great Britain and Germany in particular)? Has the consortium of authoritarian nations in the Middle East collapsed? Has Russia itself reinstated a genuine democracy?

South America seems intent on promoting authoritarianism. Will the United States be able to have direct influence in South American political philosophy or will China continue to back friendly dictatorships? Will America and international groups like G7 solve the immigration problem by underwriting large economic change in dysfunctional nations? A small cousin to the South American issue are the Caribbean and Gulf islands – even Puerto Rico isn’t happy with the US.

Pay attention to who controls public services, governments or corporations. A good example in the news today is the uncontrolled economic influence of corporations in the health industry. With much news coverage is the invasion into health services by Amazon and the hidden invasion into hospitals by venture capitalists. Pharmaceuticals have been an issue for decades. Also pay attention to support for senior citizens and common measures of human worth represented by policies on minimum wage and wealth taxes. If governments are to have a say in the future, they must be able to use taxes as an economic tool. Another sector under duress is all types of education, which have a growing investment by corporations.

So – intellectually there is a battle between 2oth century capitalism and 21st century socialism. Economically there is a battle between corporatism and democracy. Globally between China and the United States there is a battle for dominance in a one-world government.

The elephant in the room is physical war. What would it be like for significant portions of the world to live in battle-scarred ruins?

Ancient Mariner

Good ol’ USA

Remember when: Companies paid a guaranteed 100% retirement? Or employees had the right to negotiate salaries? Remember unions? The economists say there is a shortage of workers. Bull chips – there is a shortage of salary and benefits. Here’s another one:

Data: Center for Economic and Policy Research. Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios

Ancient Mariner

Goliath

With all the social confusion, with the growing menace of global warming, with all the corruptness in politics, a giant walks among us: Goliath, AKA super large monopolistic corporations.

It isn’t just the communication sector (Big Data) with Google, Meta, Apple, Microsoft and a large number of software companies providing cloud and internet services. It is also the retail sector with super conglomerates like Amazon, Walmart, Costco and Walgreen.

Endless examples abound: show business has Disney, butchering has Tyson and Hormel; news has CBS and NBC.

Anti-trust laws have not been properly enforced for decades. Corporations buy potential competitors when those companies still are small. Marketing companies do the same thing in different retail markets.

There are two things to be concerned about. The first has been obvious for many years: monopolization diminishes competition thereby controlling market prices and availability of alternatives.

The second is a new issue available since the internet was invented: government policy intervention. For example, does anyone know who will set health policy when Amazon owns one of the largest hospital corporations in the US? How about a wanky space engineer owning Twitter – one of the most used communication channels in the country. Who will set regulations? Zuckerberg already has proven that if a corporation is large enough, the government has a hard time getting its arms around it.

One could almost say “Huge monopolies are like city or county governments.” Counterarguments may claim that global supply chains require large monopolies; not true (what happened during the pandemic when too few manufacturers caused failure?) Another counterargument is the international nature of business today; not true (The EU has imposed $million+ fines for not complying with privacy and false information regulations and impeding free trade.)

Whenever the US government can get its act together, two things will make or break the nation: fix taxes and break up monopolies. It can be done. Remember Ma Bell and Standard Oil?

Ancient Mariner

Connect the dots

֎ Mariner was up early this morning. As usual, first get a coffee then turn on the computer. His standard procedure is to go to NOAA to check the weather, then to the blog, then open email.

Before mariner got past the weather check, Googlesyndication had made 138 attempts to enter his computer system. Fortunately, he has software that blocks this kind of silent intrusion.

֎ Mariner read the commentary of a Big Data executive who said, “Our future in the metaverse is to be a dot similar to the dots in a George Seurat painting.” The inherent value will not be in any one dot; one will have to step back to view the entire collection of dots.

Things like individualism, one person-one vote and personal choice in life no longer will exist. Instead, the entrapment of becoming a pink dot whether or not one prefers pink will be the extent of individualism.

֎The Trumpian movement occurs because the labor class in the United States for decades has been discounted as an unsuccessful class because they are not white collar; their salaries have fallen in value because of inflation versus employer disregard for economic well being; they carry no respect in the gestalt of US culture; their voice through unions was systematically eliminated. Now to be a dot . . . 29 percent of US citizenry believe it is somewhat likely that within ten years there will be a civil war.

The situation is made more complex because of a dysfunctional Congress. We can blame Newt Gingrich for that dysfunction. During his tenure as Speaker of the House of Representatives (1995-1999), he weaponized party politics; the opportunity for Bob Dole and Ted Kennedy to cut a deal could no longer happen.

In Congress, party dominance became Job One; citizens weren’t on the job list. Campaign fundraising became the influence on policy. When Al Franken resigned, he said he spent five hours a day making calls to raise campaign funds. Today, Mitch McConnell carries the torch but isn’t the leader of the party. The party stands armed and ready under the Trumpian flag.

So, reader, will there be a civil war? Who cares if one is just a statistical dot?

– – – –

On the good side of things, unions may be coming back. Gallup news reports that public approval is rising and is at its highest since 1965 (71 percent). Mariner’s brother is a union advocate. He reports that many trade companies are voluntarily coming to unions to have access to workers. Obviously the economic effects of the pandemic have messed up employment enough that unions are the only dependable source to find workers.

Ancient Mariner

The new law firm takes over

In a recent post, mariner used a metaphor suggesting that Mother Nature was taking over the issue of disarray in the human world. Here is an example of Mother Nature taking charge of economy, agriculture and civilian priorities:

AXIOS – “The heat wave roasting China is setting records for its reach, with an area equivalent to California, Texas and Colorado experiencing high temperatures exceeding 104°F.

Why it matters: At 71 straight days, the heat wave and drought have no parallel in modern record-keeping in China or around the world, Axios Generate co-author Andrew Freedman reports.

More than 260 weather stations saw their highest-ever temperatures during the long-running heat wave, according to state media reports.

The severe drought has throttled back China’s hydropower production, leading the government to cut power to key industrial hubs.”

So it isn’t only Europe, the United States and the Middle East having their toes put to the fire, it includes China and Southern Asian nations as well. The use of heat, storms, flooding, shifting weather patterns and drought are Mother Earth’s legal documents ordering humans to cease and desist. Fresh water is increasingly scarce; worldwide, industry and agriculture are suffering economically.

We have only begun to see disruptions to housing markets and other fiscal practices. It won’t be long before nations of the world have to stop profiteering and fighting wars in order to commit resources to Mother Nature’s style of reform.

Ancient Mariner

 

It warms the heart

֎ Mariner watched a short video from NEWSY broadcasting which revealed a growing market for farm equipment built with standard parts rather than having to abide by the privatized and copyrighted and BIG dollar cost of companies like John Deere. The reader will enjoy a sensation they probably haven’t felt in a long time. See:

https://www.newsy.com/stories/former-software-engineer-aims-to-change-future-of-farming/?utm_source=MaropostMailing&utm_medium=Email&utm_name=08042022&omhide=true

֎ Mariner lives in a semi-rural area of Iowa, several small towns and no large metropolitan areas. Nevertheless, the public libraries in the region all have seen the new light in these changing times. Libraries aren’t quiet, dusty archives anymore. Libraries have become public activity centers with almost continuous programming for all ages from old people playing euchre to preschoolers running around on the lawn. Technically the libraries are up-to-date, even having supported some public school classes during the pandemic.

֎ The reader knows by now that Kansas voted overwhelmingly to keep the right to have an abortion. This may or may not be good news to an individual reader but the really good news is the turnout. Dangerous Donald continues to loom over politics like a possible tornado. His followers, mostly conspirators, racists, misogynists and illicit opportunists drew only half as many voters as those who voted for abortion. These numbers bring hope to those who know that the only way to defeat the Trump movement is to outvote its advocates. And most of us did not have faith that this could happen. Dare we think the Kansas turnout may be good news for November?

Ancient Mariner

Private Equity

Private equity investors are different from venture capitalists, who provide a cash infusion to small startups and hope they blossom into the next Facebook. Nor are they stock traders making split-second decisions to buy or sell shares in public companies. Rather, private equity funds aim to take control of a business for a relatively short time, restructure it and resell or liquidate the company at a profit.

It is mariner’s opinion that private equity firms are the most evil and destructive element of uncontrolled capitalism. The impact on local newspapers across the country has been in the news. Small newspapers are disappearing because of private equity take-overs.

It is a form of thievery. Mariner knows about four billionaires who bought a bank and immediately foreclosed on every mortgage – creating great financial hardship for homeowners. The billionaires either received immense amounts of cash when property owners could pay off their mortgages or took title to properties well below their market price. The event was a tragedy for mortgage holders and demonstrates the disregard of private equity for any form of moral behavior.

Propublica reports that private equity manages over six trillion dollars in the US economy. The Congress, of course, does not attempt to change the tax structure advantages.

An unexposed impact of private equity is the disregard for employees who are summarily laid off, fired, and whose retirement benefits are redirected to private equity.

Does the reader have a hobby?

Ancient Mariner