How Herding Cats has Changed

This is the last in a series focused on herding cats (AKA managing democracy). As the last one hundred years have passed, socialization has dwindled. The district concept of local government was a natural fit to a society that required a high degree of comingling to maintain an awareness of local activity, business interests, and the latest tidbits of political and educational interest.

Today, in stark contrast, comingling is a disappearing behavior. Mariner’s metaphor is that society has moved from baking cakes from scratch to using box mixes. Similarly, comingling among peers takes lots of time and effort that isn’t easily available anymore; the pace of society has pushed into the background what was once a natural balance between citizens and political districts. Local and Congressional representatives had no choice but to comingle as much as possible to maintain their popularity and relevance.

Technology has changed this, of course. Everything from Interstates to television to business expansion to the Internet and computer-telephones enables a solitary individual to be in a state of continuous processing without input from real humans. Conversely, the solitary individual has no influence on other humans.

Just as box mixes made baking cakes a less involved process, so too has the election process, sans comingling, become a matter of who can muster the most money to campaign on television and, surreptitiously, use the organizational influence of their political party rather than acquiring influence among constituents. To push the metaphor, using a box mix means one can make only one kind of cake regardless of the occasion. Today, the box mix doesn’t taste so good.

As unnatural as it feels, as inconvenient as it seems, as awkward as it may be to comingle, it may be time to rediscover the joy of making cakes from scratch.

There are many TV series about house renovation. The same holds for what the voter must do to the house of government. A side effect of streamlining any process is that it concentrates function in a smaller space needing fewer people. Some functions that need to be re-democratized:

Proportional representation
Term limits
Open access to money from any source
Voter suppression
Access to voting days, times, methods
Lack of referendum in federal and state governments

There are many other issues. One that is troublesome is the lack of voting by citizens. In parts of India, voters dip a finger in ink and don’t have to worry about participation which is high. In the US, voting may have to be forcibly required through cash or denial of governmental benefits. Americans are a tough, basically capitalistic bunch. Mandating an individual’s behavior seems so, well, socialist.

Day in and day out, herding cats seems a bother. Yet, because of indifference, US democracy has become a plutocracy. The rich call the shots and take all the profits.

Get off the smartphone, turn off the TV and talk to some human beings about restoring democracy.

Ancient Mariner


Mariner’s Alter Egos

Mariner takes time out in this post to clarify what readers find odd if not confusing – his use of alter egos. A short explanation is on the blog page “About the Ancient Mariner.”

The egos are based on Aristotle’s Triangle of Persuasion: Ethos-Pathos-Logos, alternatively, ethical values, existential values, logical values. Again alternatively, Guru, Chicken Little and Amos. Mariner has taken some unavoidable liberties with the three to infuse them with mariner’s personality and his post objectives; still, the underlying function of each can be defined by Aristotle’s triangle. If the reader wants to know more about Aristotle’s triangle, use the reader’s search engine.

Guru (ethos) is named after the abstract philosopher in the BC comic strip: otherworldly, definitely abstruse and beyond social motivation. Guru lives in the rarified atmosphere of philosophy, theoretical physics and esoteric theological principles.

Chicken Little (pathos) is named after the famous chicken in the children’s storybook. Chicken Little represents the vulnerability of everyone as they try to survive in the manufactured, albeit incongruous and unfair political methods of tribal existence. “The sky is falling” is a genuinely accurate and frequent experience for everyone.

Amos (logos) is named after the prophet Amos in the Old Testament. His accounting of the state of affairs in Israel 700 years before Jesus was quite acerbic and accusatory. Israel was in a period of peace and prosperity (much like the US) but increasingly disregarded God’s laws, especially in economic terms (much like the US).

If one were to review all of mariner’s posts from the beginning in 2013 (not advised – mariner wouldn’t do it, either), one would notice that each post was influenced by one or another of the three alter egos. Most often, Amos prevails because that is what the blog is all about – the state of affairs in life, science, religion, economics, ethics, etc. But the reader need not pay attention to a post in terms of alter egos; it is their contribution to the whole, much like a recipe has ingredients. One doesn’t think of the little yeast living a short life in bread dough, one thinks of toast and butter.

Ancient Mariner


Our Democracy at Work

AT&T maintains a formidable presence in Washington. The company spent more than $15.8 million on Washington lobbying last year, and its lobbying spending in the first quarter of 2019 put it among the top two dozen companies, according to a POLITICO analysis of disclosure filings. AT&T has 17 in-house lobbyists and also retains nearly 30 outside lobbying firms, according to disclosure reports.

Readers need to know that AT&T owns:

•HBO and Cinemax, as part of Home Box Office Inc.

•TBS, truTV, TNT, Studio T, and TCM, as part of Turner Entertainment Networks

•Adult Swim and Cartoon Network, as part of the TBS, Inc. Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media (AYAKM) division

•CNN and HLN, as part of CNN News Group

•The websites Super Deluxe, Beme Inc., and CallToons

•DC Entertainment

•DC Films, including all of the “Batman” movies

•Turner Broadcasting International

•Turner Sports, including the website Bleacher Report and the rights to March Madness and NBA playoffs

•The CW (50%)

•Warner Bros. Animation

•Hanna-Barbera Cartoons

•Fandango Media (30%)

•Warner Bros. Consumer Products

•Warner Bros. Digital Networks

•Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures

•Warner Bros. Pictures International

•Warner Bros. Museum

•Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank

•Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden

•Warner Bros. Studio Tours

•Warner Bros. Pictures

•Warner Animation Group

•Warner Bros. Family Entertainment

•NonStop Television

•New Line Cinema

•Turner Entertainment Co.

•WaterTower Music

•Castle Rock Entertainment

•The Wolper Organization


•Blue Ribbon Content

•Warner Bros. Television

•Warner Horizon Television

•Warner Bros. Television Distribution

•Warner Bros. International Television Production


•Alloy Entertainment


•Warner Bros

Is democracy threatened by this? What happened to antitrust regulations?

 It is an age of corporatism unbridled by a government that still thinks only in terms of the printed page. How will AT&T influence our opinions not just for entertainment but for news and an understanding of reality? This is too much control over a public’s perception of the issues of daily life.

Ancient Mariner



Do we at least still love our mothers?

In one way or another, the past three posts deal with H. sapiens’ relationship with the physical world. Other post series deal with H. sapiens’ treatment of fellow humans and some deal with how H. sapiens has allowed the machine ethic to take over theology, government, economic priority over life, and morality.

Just to highlight each subject:

Humans have started the sixth major extinction of life in the history of the planet.

Humans have destroyed the orderliness of the planet’s biosphere to the point humans will join other creatures in unnecessarily becoming extinct with them.

Humans have chemically altered the chemistry of the planet sufficiently to receive their own geologic epoch – the Anthropocene Epoch; Geologic epochs usually last two or three million years but humans ended the Holocene Epoch after just 11,500 years.

Economics continually grows more abusive to the planet population as international scope and computerization focus on an intense gathering of wealth for the few and in addition, without conscience increase the hardship on the quality of life for the rest.

Similarly, governments support corporate interests and refuse to openly and fairly care for all their citizens equally.

The measure of human worth and virtue is measured in dollars.

In sociology, a machine is any entity that is used to more easily achieve a goal. Machines can be a hammer, sunglasses, nuclear weapons, governments, organizations and prejudices. Humans have replaced religion with machines. Life according to a higher plane of existence and transcendent ethos is disappearing very rapidly. Today, it’s the machines that dictate morality.

Mariner believes this is overwhelming evidence that religion has been obliterated in the West; the East is catching up quickly. People today have lost faith in themselves which is what religion is all about. People chase the machines. It is a plastic world with no ethos, no reward for life, and no intrinsic value for achievement.

Consequently, the mariner will offer a generic religion starter kit for those who feel the absence of spiritual happiness.



First, you need a god. How you envision god is very, very important. Many of you are aware that several practicing religions forbid any image of god – not even writing a name for god. There are two reasons for this: first, god has no shape; god is not a thing. God is a state of perfect being. Second, you can’t worship images, not even presumptions of images. The Jews call this Baal worship. The Christian Bible cites god in several places saying “you will have no other gods before me.” That includes pictures and words of god; they truly don’t look like god at all[1]. God is a singularity. This will have meaning in a moment.

Many religions have the same creation story where god creates a perfect world in a special location. God puts a male and most often a female at the location and they do something they aren’t supposed to do. This creation story is very important to the manner in which we utilize god in our lives. The story establishes something called ‘duality.’

Duality is a condition of existence. Everything – everything – has two or more sides or values. Examples: start and stop; top and bottom; light and dark; far and near; man and woman; good and evil, and so on. Do not try to find an exception. There is only one exception: god. In perfection, god cannot have more than one state of being. God by definition is a singularity.

Duality is our opportunity to sense more than one value for something. To move through life, we are constantly bombarded with things which require us to judge the correct value. In the area of religion, this judgment is about good or evil values; whether something is right or wrong in merit. There is an affinity between singularity and good judgments; there is a rejection of singularity when judgments are bad.

Now you must add an item to the starter kit: faith that a state of perfect being exists. You should seek feelings of perfection and what that does to your feelings of self. A hint about what perfection feels like is a transcendent sensation that lifts you above duality and is very, very peaceful. It isn’t so important that you imagine some literal moment; remember god isn’t a thing; god is a state of perfection. Further, your human desires likely do not reflect perfection – you exist in a dualistic reality. Speaking anthropomorphically, god draws you to be like god – to exist in a state of singularity. But first you need a god.

In the starter kit is a set of measuring devices which you use to measure the amount of perfection in an event, thought or motive in your life. These measuring tools are sort of like handy decision aids like a pregnancy stick or a ruler to measure legal fish or the air pressure in your tires. The scale on each of these tools has words to help with measuring:

Is this event, thought or motive good duality or bad duality? How much of god’s singularity is present? How much beauty? How much love? How much order? How much truth? How much empathy? How much compassion? This set of words determines the quality of an event that is created by humans. It is not advised that you invent your own sticks. Usually they measure bad duality. For example, common measuring sticks of bad duality are opportunism, prejudice, pride, greed and avarice. When you think about it, a state of perfection doesn’t have much that can be measured. However, all of dual reality can be measured for compliance with a state of perfection.

When you have this much of the kit assembled, it is time to practice your religion. Always carry your measuring sticks with you; your measurements will help you focus on god’s singularity and to live a happier and more satisfying life. The remaining parts of the starter kit require some seasoning on your part before you can assemble them.

Ancient Mariner


[1] Religion is about answering ‘why’ we exist and ‘what’ provides goodness in our lives. The mariner references old religions to help with understanding; the starter kit is quite transparent when it comes to sanctification, ritual, interpretation of goodness and what a transcendent being looks like or how it is identified. The generic identification of god is up to you. Joseph Campbell suggested that the term ‘myth’ always gets in trouble because people place their faith in the myth rather than in what the myth represents (Baal worship). Campbell said, “A myth is a metaphor for things we cannot easily explain or articulate.” So it is with the term ‘god.’ A common metaphor is “Goodness is godliness.”

This and That

The Midwest, between parallels N35° and N43°, has suffered temperatures in the high nineties with humidity above 70% for a good while. It isn’t pleasant. If you work outside, dehydration, sunburn and heat stroke lurk nearby. Still, plants and seeds cannot delay their required attention. The garden experience has transitioned from digging, hoeing, planting seeds, little pots and large pots, to an activity more akin to reconstructing frames for cucumbers and string beans, laying brick walks, processing compost, layering mulch in the gardens and weeding, weeding, weeding. As the mariner tells his town friends, “Anymore it takes me eight hours to work a four-hour day.”

In August, there are wedding bells in the mariner’s family. The wedding is in Los Angeles with many show business neophytes in attendance.

Every August mariner also hosts a neighborhood fete called “The Turkey Fry.” Mariner provides two large turkeys – one for roasting and serving sliced in gravy, the other dipped in dangerously hot and open cooking oil which could easily spill onto the propane burner under the pot. This year mariner planted sweet corn timed to be ready for picking for the Turkey Fry. About thirty neighbors attend. He assumes a fortress of electrified wire around the12x12 foot corn crop using a 13-acre AC charger will deter raccoons.

The mariner has a tip for tomato growers who invest time, money and frustration with tomato cages: don’t use them! The mariner’s model is to grow each plant about eight inches apart in a square configuration. The tomato plants prop each other just fine. It is still possible to tread carefully among the plants when harvesting. Another benefit is the plants help suppress weeds among the plants.

In a manner of days, hordes of in-laws arrive at a park down the road for their quinquennial, weeklong gathering. It has occurred every five years since 1981. They look old now but one can easily tell the new ones are continuing the tradition.

Readers are advised of these events to warn them of other gaps in post writing. The mariner will do his best to be regular.

A piece about Muhammad Ali is in the Reference Section. What set Muhammad apart was his statesmanship. He wasn’t just another boxer among boxers; he had class, empathy and intelligence. True, he played a buffoon as part of the show but he had a quick and caring mind. His feelings about the wellbeing of others were the basis for his conversion to Islam – an act that was spiritual and was distant from more rebellious sects.


Muhammad Ali was a gentleman in the boxing community. He had an extra sense of grace that translated from his pugilist profession to one of awareness, care for the common man and a sharper mind than most in his profession. Oh, that more statesmen could be in politics! Muhammad had the courage to defy the draft and serve his punishment; the courts plucked him from that fate but still he would lose three years of income, age and prestige before the military was behind him.

His extra sense of grace allowed him to quote poetry about himself more succinctly with entertaining braggadocio. Note this one before the “Rumble in the Jungle” against Joe Frazier:

Last night I had a dream

Last night I had a dream. When I got to Africa,

I had one hell of a rumble.

I had to beat Tarzan’s behind first,

For claiming to be King of the Jungle.

For this fight, I’ve wrestled with alligators,

I’ve tussled with a whale.

I done handcuffed lightning

And throw thunder in jail.

You know I’m bad.

Just last week, I murdered a rock,

Injured a stone, Hospitalized a brick.

I’m so mean, I make medicine sick.

I’m so fast, man,

I can run through a hurricane and don’t get wet.

When George Foreman meets me,

He’ll pay his debt.

I can drown a drink of water, and kill a dead tree.

Wait till you see Muhammad Ali.

–      –   –   –

Add another one to the list of extinctions occurring during the Holocene, the period in which humans trashed the biosphere: Melomys rubicola — Bramble Cay Melomys, a species of mouse that remained in existence only on an island in the Torres Straight near Queensland Australia. The rodent, also called the mosaic-tailed rat, was only known to live on Bramble Cay, a small coral cay, just 340m long and 150m wide off the north coast of Queensland, Australia, which sits at most 3m above sea level.


–  –   –   –

Mariner stopped by the Forbes Magazine to review an article. The first screen had a display that said:

Quote of the Day

“You will never own the future if you care what other people think.“

Cindy Gallop

Each of us could write three of four counterpoints to Cindy’s comment – which is  required to be a capitalist. Assets do not normally flow up hill; they deliberately must be acquired. Capitalism unbridled by compassion will make few rich, most poor, and the capitalist, protected by layers of wealth, will be indifferent to environment, fairness, contribution to the point of meaningful sharing and a twisted sense of self-worth.

“Only when the last tree has died, the last river been poisoned, and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”

                        – A  Cree Indian Saying

Ancient Mariner