On Character

When mariner and his wife moved to Maryland, he had thoughts of entering politics. He and his wife even campaigned actively for Bobbie Kennedy. He quickly became disillusioned. Unlike religion which requires devotion to and belief in morality and advocacy, politics requires just the opposite: make deals about anything – not just legislative language but in terms of self-interest, graft, favoritism, party mandates, graft, quid pro quo and graft.

During this century, mariner is reminded more strongly every day of the fish tank he had years ago. The legislators are the fish and greedily accept the cash and favors fed to them by corporations and plutocrats.

There are a few ideologues, AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) stands out among the few. On the conservative side, it’s the old timers who remember marching under the flag of fiscal responsibility but even they have compromised their principles, going into deep national debt not for national stability but to unnecessarily cut taxes to the rich, underwrite Donald’s wish list and eliminate regulations that controlled corporate quality assurance and required at least some allegiance to citizens.

Whenever a politician stands against opportunism and defends the righteousness of moral responsibility (Mitt Romney and Liz Cheney come to mind) it is noteworthy.

As always, the dysfunction is traced back to the electorate. When Liz Cheney voted to accept the vote of the Electoral College – even though she knew it would provoke an energized primary campaign against her in Wyoming – she stood for moral responsibility. Of course the electorate doesn’t recognize the higher qualities of leadership and representation that transcend party politics.

The simplistic mind of the electorate is why the run-of-the-mill legislator will not let go of Trump policy – competition in the primaries. The naive electorate (mariner cannot for his life sympathize with this mindset) wants controversial, sort of like ‘go big or go home’ politicians. This mindset is a greenhouse in which to grow dictators.

The one legislative action that will placate the electorate is jobs and good wages AKA the infrastructure bill. The minority leader says no.

Just as a footnote, the content of the infrastructure bill counters many of the standards and the government philosophy set under Reagan. Things may go easier in 2122 if younger republicans and democrats replaced the fuddy-duddies.

Ancient Mariner

Let’s check in on the real news

In 4.5 billion years the Sun will fry the Earth destroying all living matter.

The Moon is drifting away from the Earth at the rate of 1.5 inches per year. Today the Moon circles the Earth about every 27 days; in 50 billion years the Moon will settle into a wider orbit that will require 47 days to circle the Earth. But then there’s the Sun’s interference at 4.5 billion years . . .

Current new studies show that the Americas are drifting away from Europe and Africa at a rate of 4 centimeters per year.

Can survival lessons be taken from the lifestyles of the oldest living things? The oldest Spruce tree is 9,550 years old; a variety of parsley living in the high deserts of Chile is 2,000 years old; stromatolites, a primitive moss/rock creature, lives 2,000 years. Hmmm, as a group they don’t seem to ask for much.

Mariner could continue to list news items showing patience, tenacity and long-term stability. It reminds him that in comparison the destructive, trashy, often incoherent Homo sapiens is like a one-panel cartoon versus a twenty volume encyclopedia. Perhaps it is best that humans live a short life span and will be extinct in less than 5 million years – given no asteroids, climate collapses or chemical destruction occur first. That leaves 4.495 billion years for the biosphere to recover.

If God had a Sunday newspaper, humanity would be on the comics page.

Ancient Mariner


Yes, that finger

Look for a moment at the middle finger of your dominant hand. It’s the longest one that’s used to express irritable dissatisfaction. Yesterday mariner accidentally cut the tip of this finger with a kitchen knife. The cut is skin deep but quite small, perhaps three sixteenths long. The cut complains loudly whenever it is touched which is often because it is at that very point in curvature that is the first point of contact when using the finger.

Did you know there is no bandaid designed for this part of the body? Even a little dot bandage needs to be carefully trimmed to avoid edges that cause the bandaid to come off when brushed against anything; in this region there are no parallel surfaces for wrapping. Mariner’s solution, because this finger is in constant use, was a doctored dot over several applications of NewSkin.

Mariner challenges the reader to use the hand without using the middle finger. There are thousands of circumstances where the reader will unconsciously lead the use of the hand with this finger. Can you make a fist? A fist is used to pour morning coffee and hold a handsaw. Try washing dishes, washing the hand without getting the bandage wet, polish the furniture, use a pencil, type on a keyboard, do a jigsaw puzzle, turn a page, unscrew a lid, reset a clock, eat a sandwich or clean yourself after using the toilet.

The other four fingers are more specialized in their use. The ring finger has only to wear a ring; the little finger is little so it can clean the ear; the thumb and forefinger are famous for manipulative grasping – a big deal in evolution – but they aren’t capable of pulling anything without the other fingers, especially the middle finger. Try holding a deck screw and use a hand drill at the same time. Try threading a needle. When your eye itches, which finger comes to the rescue?

– – – –

Mariner frequently promotes a list of things to be fixed if our society is to operate successfully. One item on the list is a return to unionism. This piece from AXIOS:

Big Tech rose to power and wealth largely union-free. But a wave of labor organizing is catching the giants at a vulnerable moment, when they’re being challenged by antitrust suits, hostile regulators and employee doubts, managing editor Scott Rosenberg writes.

A high-profile unionization campaign underway among Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Ala., will culminate in a vote count on March 30 —the digital age’s most important labor vote.

A union effort among Google employees that began in January is taking an unconventional path — remaining a “minority union” for now, foregoing the possibility of collective bargaining but allowing the inclusion of contractors and even managers.

What we’re watching: There’s a split between conventional organizing pushes among blue-collar employees (wages, working conditions), and the animating concerns of white-collar employees (climate, diversity).

Our thought bubble: Unions are all about worker solidarity, and the two wings of tech labor would achieve a lot more if they worked together. But doing so would require breaking down a lot of barriers — social divides, and the industry’s ingrained ideology of individualism.”

– – – –

This tidbit from WIRED shows how scientific advancement is not a good thing without human-centric ethics – one of those moments when doing it because we can isn’t really a good thing (social media):

“When Erin and Justin decided to adopt a child at the beginning of 2016, they paid $25,000 to sign on with one of the largest, most reputable adoption agencies in the United States. They imagined an orderly process, facilitated by lawyers and social workers.

They didn’t foresee the internet trolls who would call them cunts and psychopaths. Nor did they imagine they’d be filing a police report, or pleading with Facebook to delete posts that called them human traffickers. They didn’t expect the internet to be involved in the process at all.”

As we watch a setting Sun become darkness, so too, we watch personal independence become amorphous.

 Ancient Mariner

In the news

֎ An interesting poll from GALLUP. What’s interesting is that in one year China jumped significantly over Russia as the greatest enemy of the United States:

Americans’ Perceptions of the U.S.’s Greatest Enemy

What one country anywhere in the world do you consider to be the United States’ greatest enemy today?

Feb 3-21    Feb 3-20      Change
%    % pct. pts.
China 45 22 23
Russia 26 23 3
North Korea/Korea 9 12 -3
Iran 4 19 -15
Iraq 2 7 -5
Afghanistan 1 1 0
United States itself 1 1 0
Mexico 1 1
Saudi Arabia 1 -1
Middle East (non-specific) 1 -1
Japan 1 -1
Israel 2 -2
Syria 1 -1
Pakistan 1 -1

The reader must take note that this poll coincides with the coronavirus pandemic. Still, despite the economic catastrophe affecting every nation, China’s size and fast rising GDP (7 percent) makes that nation look more healthy and successful than the US. Further, the cultural differences cause concern as China continues to squeeze individual rights and continues virtual genocide against the Uighur and Kazak Muslims in Xinjiang Province. Finally, modern technology has opened a new arena in spying and warfare that makes every nation paranoid.

֎ While the politicians, public, fossil fuel corporations, press and social media continue bickering whether global warming exists, Federal agencies are taking scientific information seriously. The agencies are trying to figure out models of projection that will predict damage.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Housing Finance Agency and NASA all have met with analytical firms to explore tools that will help protect taxpayers, banks and homes from rising seas, worsening rainstorms and severe droughts linked to climate change.

Mariner advises readers not to invest in coastal properties – especially in Florida where the peninsula will shrink by one fifth including everything below Lake Okeechobee – places like West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Naples and the Keys.

֎ Has the reader seen the news clips of folks on spring break? Sigh. Because mariner’s wife is brave and dutiful and has ventured into the outside world, he has been in virtual quarantine. He has spoken in person only to three other individuals in a year. The vaccination occurred so fast that he didn’t even speak to the technician. Mariner is old and fossilized but he is concerned what this year of isolation has done to elementary school children. Prepubescent children suffer subconsciously and will carry silent aberrations for the rest of their lives.

֎ A growing strategy by the GOP is to blame Joe for immigration numbers. Mariner suggests no President of any party, no authoritarian figurehead can alter the growing migration issue not only from Latin countries but from every country into every country around the globe. The reason: weak global economics and changing climate. Even squirrels know to migrate to mariner’s feeding station when there’s a foot of snow on the ground.

֎ Not in the news but referencing the post about pop psych, mariner is reminded that the pop psych terms ‘inductive’ and ‘deductive’ are similar to ‘what’ and ‘why’.

Ancient Mariner


What kind of a person are you?

When mariner was young his father was attending seminary. His father was entertained by pop psychology, a term that implied, through simplistic descriptions, the behaviorisms of human beings. Mariner has carried this shorthand forward and often identifies someone in simplistic ‘pop psych’ terms. Below are two examples which the reader may recall from older posts but are worth rereading to distract you from the doldrums of being sheltered-in.

֎ Human behavior is of three types: What people, Why people and How people. The ‘what’ person must understand what actions the situation requires; often they have lists of what to do and through these lists understand the reality of things. ‘Why’ people can’t understand the reality of things unless they know why something exists and its relationship to a multifaceted reality. Understand that everyone makes lists; ‘what’ needs the list first to comprehend – ‘why’ makes the list last after comprehending. Mariner confesses to being an extreme ‘why’ person.

At one point in his life, mariner was a supervisor for a computer programming unit. A time came when another supervisor, a woman, was leaving the company. The manager decided to merge the two groups keeping mariner as the supervisor. Mariner had to learn the functions of the other group so he visited the woman to learn about its operation.

She sat at a computer screen and proceeded to read a list of sixteen tasks. When she finished, she said to mariner, “Got it?” Mariner said “No”. She turned back to the computer screen and repeated the list. “Are we good?” she said. Mariner said “No”. Showing frustration and disdain, she said “How in the hell did you ever become a supervisor?” It is true that ‘what’ and ‘why’ people don’t mix well. Fortunately for organizations, there are ‘how’ people. ‘How’ people make good managers because they understand the perspective of both ‘what’ and ‘why’ people. ‘How’ people are good problem solvers; their downside is their preoccupation with pragmatism and have little regard for the artful side of life. Interestingly, many trades have high numbers of ‘how’ people.

֎ A second pop psych example is derived from the shapes below. Decide which one you like best before reading on.

If you chose the circle, you are a person sensitive to unity, stability and compatibility. If you chose the square, you are sensitive to conservative values, control and dislike change. If you chose the triangle, you are confrontational, insistent and unforgiving. The squiggly line means you are unconventional, artistic and free-spirited.

֎ Pop psych became mainstream in the 70’s and 80’s with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Mariner and many others think it was an example of jumping the shark. How many readers are old enough for someone to have said to them in a condescending way, “I’m an INTJ”.

What makes pop psych less than prophetic is the fact that no one is a pure type. Virtually everyone has a dominant characteristic along with one or more subordinate characteristics. Still, many folks clearly represent one type or another.

Have fun pigeonholing everyone you know.

Ancient Mariner

It’s a strange world

There is a legitimate scientific theory that we live in multiple universes. Not each one separate from the other but conjoined in the same physical space. This theory exists because it is a way to solve certain conflicts in the deep channels of theoretical physics. Mariner, however, has absolute proof that we have two different times existing in the same space.

Mariner has prescriptions so he keeps a week-long pill box. The proof of multiple times from multiple universes is that he fills the box for seven days but in two days it is empty! Yes, the reader might dismiss this as folly but that is because by habit we measure time based only on the movement of the Earth as it moves through the Solar System. When we have a notion that something seems untimely, take a lesson from the Zen and conspiracy folks who understand that time has different speeds. Different speeds means different universes. Think about the many times the reader suddenly said, “Didn’t I just do this?”

Conversely, how many times does the reader feel they have been put on hold for a very long time when they call someone? Could it be the person on the other end just said “Doesn’t this phone ever stop ringing?” It is two different universes at the same moment.

We are conflicted because the two universes waffle back and forth like throwing two rocks into a pond at different locations: the resultant waves coexist in the same space.

If the reader still is dubious, consider this: A bus driver drives a bit slower because he is ahead of his route schedule but the reader is waiting stressfully because the bus hasn’t come. It is simply two different universes with different time speeds existing in the same space.

If the reader considers this theory plausible, they understand how Donald’s base believes he won the election.

Ancient Mariner

The Hero Children

It was Joseph Campbell, an unusually gifted anthropologist and sociologist that described our lives akin to traveling the hero’s path. Our life experience is an experience similar to that of the hero Jason, king of the Argonauts and a prominent influence in Greek mythology. Jason’s life consisted of one challenge after another which required insight and confidence to conquer. Jason famously stayed the course to capture the Golden Fleece – as is our duty as we live through life’s perils.

Everyone is a hero today as the world suffers excruciating change. Similar to Jason’s confrontations as he faced strange societies, monsters and physical challenge, we face new and confusing times at every turn. Will we complete our hero’s journey through to more stable times?

To we who are in the throes of today’s confrontations, stumbling as waves of change crash down upon us, our journey is one of survival. We must hold onto the civilized principles of our heritage. We must survive the monsters of insurrection, greed, fear and injustice. Metaphorically, we are the rowers of Jason’s boat Argo. We must sustain momentum as we sail into the stormy seas of tomorrow. That is our hero’s path.

It is the hero’s path of our children, those born in this troubled century, who must fight the battles, confront strange circumstances and have the wisdom to stay the path, to acquire peace and success at the end, to capture the Golden Fleece.

It is our responsibility to prepare our children for their hero’s path. We must stay afloat as new theories and pressures change our children’s politics, formal education and career; we must care for them lovingly to instill stamina, self-confidence and skill; we must provide a lee from the storms to give them time to prepare; we must put down the threats of terrorism and greed to keep our society afloat.

While we fight mightily to keep some semblance of reality and stability, it is our children who will conquer the monsters and take the world to peaceful shores.

Ancient Mariner


Life in a moment

This post is provided by Mariner’s wife. All her life she has been a poet extraordinaire. She has the skill to express insight and create association but at the same time her poems dig deep into the reader, leaving some thoughts to conjure.

Many times mariner has encouraged her to publish; she would be successful. She has won a few poetry contests and can dash off another poem in the snap of a finger. One time we were driving down a road when we saw a roadkill raccoon lying by the edge of the road. Within five minutes she had penned a poem asking whether the raccoon deserved a requiem.

The poem below was written after we caught a mouse in the basement that had broken into a bag of sunflower seed. You will enjoy the complexity.



I sweep up the leavings of sunflower seeds

left behind by a mouse

whose fate was snapped like its neck

in a trap that I had set.

I am glad that he had the thrill of satiety

when he found the bag of sunflower seeds

He was a millionaire among mice

in that moment of his big find.

I am glad that he did not know

his life would be cut short because of it.

Surely in that last moment there was no time for fear

And that snap too quick for pain.

He had perhaps the best that life can offer

in a little life–the warmth of a basement in winter

an endless pile of food, a quick and merciful death.

Or do I deceive myself?

His was not a little life, no smaller than my own.

Like me, he wanted more than comfort, warmth and food

He sought those things because they brought him more life

And more life was what I deprived him of.

MKM     1-19-19

Homo sapiens has become obsolete

Regular readers are familiar with the skepticism of alter ego Amos. In this new century, one beginning with a multitude of new and unchartered worries for mankind, Amos feels increasing depression as his fellow humans (AKA electorate) fail to grasp the enormity and perhaps the fatalistic nature of the times. The recent attack on the United States Capital was a misguided and virtually irrelevant gesture when global civilization is on the brink of collapse as the environment falters, global resources rapidly disappear, birth rates around the world approach zero growth and mankind’s own manufactured reality is decaying.

Now, there is hard evidence that Homo sapiens is about to be irrelevant and will disappear in short order. The following photograph is taken from the back cover of the January issue of The Economist. The small type says:

“Malicious AI created her picture, yet she has never been seen by a camera. It made her an online profile, yet she has never logged in. Malicious AI built her to attack you.”

The public today is worried about face recognition software. Poo. Who needs your face anymore when AI has a detailed description of your profile, health, driver license, family connections, friends and financial particulars – and can make a face made to order? Even more, a detailed copy of your whole existence sits in data bases that can emulate your probable real life experiences.

Now, AI doesn’t need your face or your body. AI can create a fictitious reality without using real human beings and can interlace you with others on Facebook, Twitter and E-Harmony. If you’re still around in a few years, you may have remarried and not even know it.

Consider the new AI world of business: AI creates a statistical version of a restaurant then populates it with statistical versions of humans. The finances look good on a digitized screen and AI will have to move bitcoins around in the fake economy to balance the database.

The next phase of human evolution will be complete. Living only as digitized energy, our progeny easily will be able to spread throughout the universe.

Ancient Mariner


Wisdom in a Phrase

Once in a while everyone stumbles across a short phrase that seems poignant, insightful or profound. Mariner has collected phrases over time that are significant. Just a few below:

֎ A very recent one from the Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma,” is the phrase ‘When a dead tree is more important than a living tree; when a dead whale is more important than a living whale, our priorities are not in order.’ This was spoken in the context that society ranked monetization and profit above respect for a natural world.

֎ Victor Hugo wrote an oxymoron that is one of mariner’s favorites, especially for older folks. He said, ‘Melancholy is the joy of depression.’ Hasn’t everyone sat around remembering the good old days, the young social world and when life was full of excitement? Those melancholy feelings are the joy that can be had only by way of depression or boredom.

֎ A term that has long been an expression of wisdom is the phrase, ‘My gut tells me . . .’ Today this term has become pejorative because scientists have discovered that the gut (AKA subconscious) doesn’t use facts to form opinions.

֎ Mariner’s wife contributes the next one, a phrase that keeps one’s perspective about where the self fits in the world:

“There are many ways of being in this circle we call life” is the first line from a John Denver song, The Wings That Fly Us Home. The words were written by Joe Henry, music by John Denver.

“There are many ways of being” has been a mantra for me for many years. It is a way of acknowledging and accepting the world in all of its variety, and the differences among people, too. Everyone has a right to his own interpretation of life, his own choices, his own quirks of personality. Often I say it with a rueful puzzlement–“what were they thinking? Oh, well–there are many ways of being…” It reminds me that my way is not the only way, or necessarily the right way. But it applies to the larger world, too, from grass and trees, to birds and fish, rabbits and moles; so many ways of being in this world. So many different ways of perceiving the world.

For your viewing pleasure:


֎ Albert Schweitzer is a top hero in mariner’s Pantheon. Albert had many famous quotes but the one that should hang under any portrait is ‘Help me to fling my life like a flaming firebrand into the gathering darkness of the world.’ Albert put his life where it was needed and, to associate it with another phrase from Life is Like a Mountain Railroad, ‘never falter, never fail’.

Pause a moment to find a poignant phrase in your life.

Ancient Mariner