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


Yes, he knows, logarithms aren’t interesting. But the reader will have to put up with obtuse and irrelevant subjects while mariner spends time in Chicken Little’s henhouse.

Cruising through Netflix, mariner found a documentary about how everything in the Universe is connected with everything in the Universe in an orderly fashion. Humans, like every creature, measure reality in terms of meaningful increments – one candy, one day, one football game, 12 eggs, one automobile, $500 dollars, three children, etc.

But if a very large number of anything – people, number of days late to work in a lifetime, the distance from Earth to every star in the sky, the number of times each letter of the alphabet starts a word in The New York Times, etc., the numbers will relate to one another in a pattern called a logarithm. Even the pixels in a photograph are subject to the same pattern in this logarithm. What is fascinating is that the values in the logarithm are the same for every example!

Take the tax returns from every citizen in the US. Throw all the numbers in all the answer boxes together. The number ‘1’ will start 30 percent of the values in all the boxes. The same is true when measuring distances to the stars; whether one uses miles or kilometers or 2x4x8 lumber, 30 percent of the distances will start with ‘1’.

Mariner will not pursue deeper uses for logarithms. He suggests the reader go to Netflix and search for ‘Connected’. Or, if you are more scholarly, search for ‘Benford’s Law’.

When mariner took calculus in high school, the ethereal characteristics of logarithms was not taught. Consequently, as a tool it was a boring inversion of exponential values. He, remembers, though, that a different order of values was created that seemed to having nothing to do with the rest of the values in the equation.

So, what’s for supper?

Ancient Mariner


Spring is nigh

After several weeks of near-zero temperatures, a foot of snow, a large lake at the end of the yard, bitter winds and muck in the yard, there are signs. Mariner is hesitant to celebrate. He has no trust in Punxsutawney Phil and last February saw similar temperatures in the sixties which provoked premature growth that later was frozen in a series of frosts in late April.

Still, in these times, any sign of a positive event should be appreciated. Today, tulips in the front garden poked through just by an inch or less but there is life! Further, when mariner cleared last year’s dead tomato plants, he discovered four chard plants pushing through in spite of all the cover. This is well appreciated because that row of chard was covered by the huge tomato plants and bush beans. He considers the chard heroes and they will receive special care this year.

It was refreshing to return to the hardscape chores that will restructure the backyard gardens.

Since spring is nigh, he and his wife will attempt a celebration of family as they launch a visit to their family in California (if they haven’t been washed away).

So, readers, look around for similar good times with your family and newfound gumption. Be warned, however, not to look too far – it’s a tough world out there.

Ancient Mariner

Life is relative

Today, mariner was skimming through Associated Press news and came across an article about the discovery of a new flying dinosaur called Ceoptera:

It was unearthed on the Island of Skye in Scotland. It survived for 2 million years between 168 – 166 million years ago. The article caused mariner to think about time as a ruler with which to measure the biosphere. For example, today the Isle of Skye is nothing but jagged, treeless mountains and not the warmest place to be. What was it like 168 million years ago? In fact, Skye emerged in the Precambrian Age 538 million years ago and was a torrent of volcanoes; certainly no Ceoptera could have survived until 370 million years later!

The Earth stabilized into a planet 4.5 billion years ago. Is there a constant time called ‘Earth time’? Earth seems to have its own calendar of activities from totally dry to covered in oceans, to ice ages and even an occasional meteorite. After 300,000 years of stable weather, it seems the planet has decided to grow warmer. Ultimately, Earth abides by Sun time – a life span of about 15 billion years.

Mariner suspects there must be different clocks for different types of biosphere. 538 million years is a long, long time for Ceoptera to wait and then live only 2 million years.  The first primitive life form that can be called an animal emerged 550 million years ago. Trees have been around for 450 million years;

Moving forward, the first mammal emerged 225 million years ago; the first primate came along 65 million years ago; monkeys showed up 40 million years ago and primitive homo types split from chimpanzees 6 million years ago.

Australopithecus is a genus of hominin that evolved in eastern Africa approximately 4 million years ago and went extinct about 2 million years ago.  H. erectus appeared approximately 1.8 million years ago and we came aboard 260,000 years ago.

Readers may recall this paragraph from a recent post:

“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.”

Is sapiens already on notice? Every species in history survived only within a viable relationship with its environment. Today, there are headlines about overpopulation, inadequate food sources, and a disruption of the atmosphere that has urged Earth to move on from 300,000 years of stable weather, give or take a couple of ice ages.

Given these numerical references, perhaps there is a singular life time for planet Earth – tied to its parent Sun. The measuring tool is in units of 10 million years incremented by tenths. Time moves constantly toward that moment when a dying Sun will consume the planet – about 5 billion years from now.

On the other hand, evolution seems to accelerate across time. For example, Ceoptera hung around for 2 million years. We Homos have been around only for 260,000 years. Our successors already have arrived. How long will a robot-driven animal survive?

This leads mariner to surmise that evolutionary time is not a constant time. Measuring evolutionary time behaves more like the algorithm for falling through gravity:        distance = 1/2 gt

For each second one falls, they fall the square of the previous second. For example, one falls 1 foot in the first second, 4 feet the second, and so forth (see chart).

Similarly, changes in evolution happen faster and faster as time passes. There are few folks who think humans will be around 2 million years from now as ceoptera did.

Mariner will not dwell on examples of Armageddon. We shall experience existence as due course in the timeline of evolution.

Ancient Mariner



Need a counselor?

This post shares a news item from Axios.

A startup (Luka) best known for offering AI companions for romance and friendship is expanding into coaching, yoga and meditation — the latest AI industry effort to encourage personal relationships with chatbots. It is an app that aims to use AI to create the digital equivalent of a wellness retreat complete with a life coach.

Luka founder Eugenia Kuyda says acceptance of the role AI chatbots can play is growing. Within a year or two, the idea of having relationships with AI will be commonplace, she argues.

  • She likened it to online dating, which was once frowned upon.
  • Luka executives have also been making the case that chatbots offer a safe space for people to try out dialogue and improve their human relationships.

What’s next: Luka has been developing a version of Tomo that works on Apple’s new Vision Pro headset. The immersive aspect, Kuyda says, makes it a good match for the wellness features Tomo offers — whereas “when you are just on your phone, it is very easy to get distracted.

֎ This new service melds nicely with one’s robot dog. Mariner notices that none of these robot corporations are eager to offer their beautiful and conversationally competent sex robots. If the reader wants to switch from online dating to sexbots, type ‘sexbots’ in your search engine.

Hurry, Neo, come save us!

Ancient Mariner


Come fly with me

For all the readers who have taken to the air to ride an airplane to another place, they will understand existentially the problems of boarding an airplane. Of further interest is that boarding an airplane is an exact metaphor for trying to integrate AI with human nature. Mariner depends heavily on an article from the January edition of Scientific American magazine.

It is a difficult process to efficiently seat a large number of travelers loaded with luggage, children, carrying a drink and using a single person aisle, overhead storage, predetermined seat numbers and two or three seats in a tight-space row making it difficult to reach a window seat. Understandably airline corporations have tried different sequences to overcome this jumble. They have tried loading from front-to-back, back-to-front, by class, by seat number and by no seat number. None have sufficiently resolved the jumble.

In 2005 Jason Steffen, an astrophysicist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, became captivated by the problem. He turned to his computer modeling skills, which he usually reserved for studying the movement of exoplanets, to find a better way to board.

After hundreds of iterations, he found that the most efficient boarding method was a version of back to front—with a few key twists. Rather than have passengers fill in each row sequentially, it was best to start boarding from the window seats, skipping every other row along the way. Effectively, this means that people with an even-numbered window seat would board first, followed by those with an odd-numbered window seat, those with an even-numbered middle seat, and so on. According to simulations, this approach was twice as fast as the front-to-back boarding strategy and 30 percent faster than random boarding.

But alas, when installed for an actual boarding,  known as the Steffen boarding method, it works slightly better than the back-to-front method  but hasn’t truly solved the jumble. Unfortunately, real people don’t behave in mathematically ideal ways. A large percentage of passengers do not follow the instructions given at the terminal. If people were expected to board in a predetermined order, they could easily miss their number being called because they arrived late to the gate or weren’t paying attention. People assigned a random seat number based on their spot in line might be confused or dissatisfied with their assigned seat and often fliers find themselves in the wrong line. Steffen’s method allows groups of people to either board together or sit together but not both—a huge drawback for families traveling with small children and groups such as students traveling with a teacher chaperone.

Hasn’t every flier experienced this? It is a situation where logic and mathematics, while being applied to human behavior, misses the mark because human behavior is not bound to follow the equation or, in some context, misrepresents the objective to board normally for some reason, perhaps a paraplegic passenger or simply to leave.

Existentially, this may be the standard experience not only for fliers but for medical doctors, insurance coverage, salary descriptions, health benefits, education certificates, background checks for renters, credit cards, etc. Will the presumptive, if simplistic logic of AI be able to deal with humans whose life is similar to New York City’s rodents? – only in terms of their existential lifestyle, of course. Will turning one’s life over to Walmart suffer the same jumble, getting tapa in their groceries instead of tapioca?

Ancient Mariner

In 2023 what was learned that is new?

For those readers who have yet to subscribe to The Atlantic magazine, you should have by now. True, it requires reading – a forgotten skill today – but it is as honest a magazine as you can find and evaluates everything neutrally – even if the reader doesn’t like the opinion. The magazine is the most awarded of its class. What follows is a collection of observations from the journalists at the magazine. Some are funny, some odd, and some insightful but all are new. Enjoy all 81!

  1. Mars has seasons, and in the winter, it snows.
  2. Bats are arguably the healthiest mammals on Earth.
  3. Mammal milk changes depending on the time of day, a baby’s age and sex, the mom’s diet, and more.
  4. The genetic mutation behind “Asian glow” might help protect people against certain pathogens—including tuberculosis.
  5. The overwhelming majority of sweaters available on the American mass market are made at least partly of plastic.
  6. In 2003, a NASA Investigation Board blamed the disintegration of the space shuttle Columbia in part on PowerPoint. [a Microsoft presentation application]
  7. As much as 36 percent of the world’s annual carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are sequestered, at least temporarily, in fungi.
  8. Mice and rats can’t vomit.
  9. In the 1930s, the U.S. Army considered distributing daily rations of yerba mate to soldiers. [nutritional gourd]
  10. You have two noses, and you can control them separately via your armpits.
  11. It’s possible to lactate without ever having been pregnant.
  12. But if you are pregnant, your feet might grow roughly half a shoe size and lengthen by about 0.4 inches.
  13. Gender-neutral baby names are more popular in conservative states than in liberal ones.
  14. By 2051, North America may run out of three-digit area codes.
  15. Today’s average NBA athlete is 4 to 7 percent better than the average player from more than 10 years ago.
  16. Hawaii’s feral chickens are out of control.
  17. When you look at a tattoo, you’re seeing ink shining in the “belly” of an immune cell that has gobbled up the ink and failed to digest it.
  18. The technology behind the first rice cookers, sold in 1955, is still widely used today—because it’s perfect.
  19. Meanwhile, the corrugated pizza box used by basically every pizzeria has not changed since its invention in 1966, and it does a bad job of maintaining a take-out pizza.
  20. A database of nearly 200,000 pirated books is powering many generative-AI models.
  21. Americans are suffering from cockroach amnesia.
  22. The hippopotamuses released from Pablo Escobar’s personal zoo in Colombia are engineering the local ecosystem.
  23. plastic bag in dirt – Compostable plastic bags buried in soil for three years can still hold a full load of groceries.
  24. Allergy season really is getting worse.
  25. Last month, for two consecutive days, the Earth reached global temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels for the first time.
  26. There are Lord of the Rings–style hobbit-house Airbnbs, an Airbnb in the shape of a spaceship, and an Airbnb inside a freestanding harbor crane.
  27. Cat owners in Cyprus are giving leftover COVID drugs to their pets, but not for COVID.
  28. The same molecule that makes cat urine smell like cat urine is, in lower concentrations, commonly used in air fresheners and household cleaners.
  29. The Sphere, in Las Vegas, can transform its 366-foot-tall exterior into a gargantuan emoji that astronauts can reportedly see from space.
  30. Within eight seconds of flushing, a toilet bowl can shoot a plume of aerosols nearly five feet into the air—and straight into your face.
  31. Until the 1800s, merchants, lawyers, and aristocrats each wrote in their own distinctive script.
  32. The English words flow, mother, fire, and ash come from Ice Age peoples.
  33. car seat with heat marks – By hacking a Tesla’s rear heated seats, German researchers inadvertently accessed private user data.
  34. Many eye creams are functionally identical to facial moisturizers but are far more expensive.
  35. A Dutch man and his family have a perplexing brain condition called “color agnosia”: They can see colors, but they cannot name them.
  36. Hurricane Otis confounded extreme-weather warning systems by gaining more than 100 miles per hour of wind speed in 24 hours.
  37. Foxes have committed mass murder against flamingos at least three times during the past 30 years.
  38. Despite nearly half a century of trying, we don’t have any medication that effectively treats anorexia.
  39. There are no established clinical guidelines for diagnosing and treating adult ADHD.
  40. Elephant seals sleep only two hours a day, for many months at a time, via a series of super-short naps, taken as they dive deep beneath the ocean’s surface.
  41. UPS handles so many packages every year that its workers put their hands on roughly 6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
  42. One of Saturn’s moons likely has a habitable ocean.
  43. AI avatars led a church service in Germany this summer.
  44. There’s a lifeguard shortage in America. It’s been going on for a century.
  45. A pill may be easier to swallow if you turn your head as it goes down.
  46. Kramer – During the original run of Seinfeld, the show’s costumers had a hard time sourcing the clothing for Kramer’s wardrobe because his quirky style had become so popular with the general public that they were buying up all of the vintage clothing that made up his look.
  47. AI models can analyze the brain scans of somebody listening to a story and then reproduce the gist of every sentence.
  48. A new idea to curb emissions takes inspiration from the Cold War: a fossil-fuel-nonproliferation treaty.
  49. During a 2018 war game in which the president had been cut off from his nuclear forces, many participants—including former heads of state, foreign ministers, and senior NATO officers—recommended leaving the decision of whether to enter a nuclear exchange to an AI.
  50. Decades of research suggest that hypnosis might be an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome, at least in the short term.
  51. Rest is not necessarily the best treatment for a concussion.
  52. People have been living on the Galápagos Islands since the early 1800s.
  53. Bird chicks aren’t innately able to recognize their mother’s calls—they learn to do so while in their eggs and can be manipulated to respond to another species’ voice.
  54. People are likely spending billions of dollars tipping creators on TikTok Live.
  55. Before Tesla and Meta, Palo Alto’s biggest tech giant was a farm that bred racehorses.
  56. Reports of pediatric melatonin overdoses have increased by 530 percent over the past decade.
  57. iPhone cameras can perform trillions of operations to optimize a single photo.
  58. Modern flip phones stink because they’re just made of recycled scraps from the smartphone-manufacturing process.
  59. If you think all phones are passé, you can buy a pair of screen eyes from Apple for $3,499 [adjusts colors for vision].
  60. Some people loop playlists in their sleep to help them game the Spotify algorithm and get more impressive Spotify Wrapped results.
  61. An index ranking the transparency of flagship AI models from 10 major companies gave every single one a resounding F.
  62. lemon lime character – Lemon-lime isn’t a flavor so much as a sensibility that defines soft drinks.
  63. The Italian government provides gluten-free-food vouchers for people with celiac disease.
  64. Some people taking Ozempic to lose weight are also effortlessly quitting smoking, drinking, and online shopping.
  65. Scantron tests, a defining feature of American education, are dying.
  66. Fifteen percent of daily Google searches have never been searched before, according to the company.
  67. American cars hit more than 1 million large animals and as many as 340 million birds every year.
  68. Animals at watering holes in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park were twice as likely to flee when they heard a human voice as when they heard lions.
  69. Hundreds of craters on the moon never receive direct sunlight.
  70. The total surface area of the Antarctic’s sea ice in July was more than four standard deviations smaller than the average for that time of year, shattering records.
  71. Oxygen might actually be bad for multicellular evolution.
  72. Last year, the Sunset Limited train from New Orleans to Los Angeles was on time for just 19 percent of trips, making it the tardiest train in the country.
  73. About a third of pregnancies in women 40 and older are unplanned.
  74. MSG stays on the tongue long after food is swallowed, resulting in a lingering savory sensation.
  75. Podiatrists have seen a spike in plantar-fasciitis cases since the coronavirus pandemic began, partly because so many people who work from home shuffle around barefoot on hard floors.
  76. OpenAI’s chief scientist commissioned a wooden effigy intended to represent an AI that does not meet a human’s objectives. He set it on fire at a leadership meeting this year, according to two people familiar with the event.
  77. A luxury trip to Antarctica can cost upwards of $65,000.
  78. Many football fans punch, shoot, run over, or otherwise destroy their TV when things don’t go well for their team.
  79. Checked-bag fees may feel like they’ve been a scourge since the birth of aviation, but they were only introduced in 2008.
  80. pair of talking dolphins – Dolphins have their own version of baby talk.
  81. Gravity-wise, the Earth doesn’t resemble a blue marble so much as a potato.

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




Preparing for Donald

Mariner and his wife have had more than one conversation about the possibility of moving to another nation should Donald win the 2024 election. They have done some research. The suggested website is a good source. How would the reader like to live in Finland, a perpetual first-place country?


Ancient Mariner

Guru stopped by

Guru, mariner’s alter ego for grand theories and other postulates, stopped by the henhouse to see how mariner was doing. Mariner could not resist but to ask how the planet was doing. “Not well”, Guru replied. “Your model of the mouse cage studies on over population is coming closer to reality. There are wars on every continent if one counts the U.S Congress, authoritarian disruptions in Australia and emerging dictatorships in the mid-level-wealth nations; and the super rich continue to hoard wealth.”

There was silence for a while. Mariner finally asked about his dream of a united North and South America. “Don’t ask”, Guru said.

Mariner and Guru stared out the small apartment window for a while.

Mariner said, “I’m not going to ask about the election.”

“You shouldn’t”, Guru replied.

Finally, Guru stood up to leave. “It’s going to be awhile”, he said. “Do you need anything?”

Mariner nodded his head indicating no as he quietly stared out the little apartment window.

Ancient Mariner