Just the facts, Ma’am

Mariner has a large window in his living room. It displays the street in front and a few houses across the street. Mariner has dubbed it his personal screensaver. It acts exactly like the ones on cable TV; most of the time nothing happens except an occasional car may pass – sort of like the occasional bird on the TV. There are day-long loops, too. A number of people walk their dogs, the UPS truck drives by morning and evening and the fitness walkers are timely as well. And it gets light in the morning and dark in the evening.

It is ‘Garage Sale Day’ in mariner’s town. Drive the streets and you will see dozens of lawns covered with stuff people are selling (AKA getting rid of). It’s a good excuse to clean one’s attic, closets and basement in addition to what’s in the garage. The house directly across the street has a large sale. Mariner became intrigued by the people visiting the sale.

This led mariner to thoughts about facts, validated facts and confirmed facts that news broadcasts tout. Please! Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh are not included. Mariner pretended he was a news journalist watching the sale across the street to collect information for a news broadcast. Are you ready?

4 out of 5 town residents are noticeably fat. 1 in 10 is obese. All female residents under age 40 have children less than 10 years old. The average age of a town citizen is 70. 1 out of every 2 men has tattoos. So do 1 in 6 women. 8 out of 10 vehicles are trucks or vans.

These are the validated facts, Ma’am. Sean Hannity would agree.

Ancient Mariner


You are supposed to go first

No one denies the confrontational identity politics that prevails today; no one denies the emotional disruption of fifteen months in virtual isolation; no one denies the insecurity of a disappearing lifestyle that eliminates storefronts, careers and every day family security; no one denies the utter absence of a life of contentment, quiet comfort and satisfaction. How do we stop this hellish train to nowhere?

You go first. What are some tricks to escape the gravity of society today? The issue is, after all, how you feel as an individual. How everyone else feels is abstract; what makes YOU feel better and thereby improves life in these times, at least for yourself?

What follows are a few examples that seem to work at an individual level.

֎ Mariner’s wife rises early in the morning to prepare a simple but tasty breakfast. She eats this breakfast outdoors on the back deck just as the garden, birds, insects and other creatures are waking up and the Sun is rising on a new day. Human intervention doesn’t exist; there are no responsibilities, no reason to account for the human world, no thought of chores. In her backyard, at least, all’s well and peace is at hand.

This moment is more powerful and more rewarding than it reads. It arms the reader with confidence at a subconscious level. It is easy to imagine the difference between a morning coffee while watching morning television and a morning coffee in a pleasant, reassuring moment of solitude. It may take some practice to shut down the angst of facing the outside world but it is worth it.

Besides the magic of internal peace, its magic will soften your approach to others during the day and permit you to be less confrontational. Isn’t this an example of how to ‘pass it forward’ in an effort to slow that hellish train?

֎ Mariner lives in a small corner of town where ten homes are clustered in a manner that encourages collective activity. The residents of these homes have political and economic differences that are quite measurable. The political philosophies range from Trump allegiance including conspiracies to extremely progressive socialists. Careers range from retired tradesmen to nurses to master mechanics to systems consultants to truck drivers to school administrators to retired pilots.

In order to sustain civility, sharing, caring and the many other little behaviors that make neighborly life pleasant, everyone practices oppressed confrontation. Neighborly bonding with each other and maintaining an “I’m here if you need me” attitude requires a rule that no one talks about political, religious or philosophical mandates or condescending comments about other neighbors.

It is obvious that unity is more important than ideological supremacy. Isn’t this, too, one small step?

֎ A third exercise is to share, that is to share in a way that would not qualify as every day sharing. The secret is to keep the logistics simple but make a large impact on the recipient(s). Typically the recipient has a hardship of some kind; perhaps being a shut-in, or an invalid or a family suffering a recent death or a family who is in a state of economic hardship or maybe just a special occasion in the recipient’s life. It’s your turn to share some concern and relief to your acquaintances who are in need. Cash not allowed; put yourself and a few friends into it – show sharing, caring and compassion.

Like the first two suggestions, sharing is more powerful and more rewarding than it reads. The common result from all the suggestions is the creation of unity. It is unity that is the antidote to the nation’s infection of identity politics.

It’s your turn.

– – – –

On the side, Mariner and his wife were talking about this post. As is her wont, she quickly wrote a poem to reflect on sitting on the porch:

This garden would be perfect
The old man thought
As he leaned on his hoe

And scratched his ear
If it weren’t for that damned young rabbit.

This garden would be perfect
The young rabbit thought
As he munched on lettuce
And scratched his ear
If it weren’t for that damned old man.

This garden is perfect
The poet thought
As she ate breakfast on the deck and enjoyed the view
Having neither the work of maintaining it
Nor the necessity of surviving in it.

MKM 6-4-2021

Ancient Mariner

What is the brain?

In the past year or two, mariner has complained that various groups and individuals don’t know what they are doing – especially the electorate. Many topics contribute to this ignorance: civics is not taught in public schools; political history is not taught in public schools; environmental science is not taught in public schools; health and hygiene generally is not taught in public schools; social psychology is not taught in public schools; economics is not generally taught in public schools.

Since the 2016 election, mariner has been concerned about the electorate being led by a crazy person compounded by Big Data altering reality on purpose. The issue is the role of facts in the human thought process. Mariner has promoted films about how the brain is influenced and how the brain depends – or not – on factual reality.[1]

Just as a clinical beginning to understand that there are many mini-brains in the human head, mariner provides a legitimate shorthand description of these brains:

What is the brain?

The brain is an organ that’s made up of a large mass of nerve tissue that’s protected within the skull. It plays a role in just about every major body system.

Some of its main functions include:
   processing sensory information
   regulating blood pressure and breathing
   releasing hormones

Anatomy and function


The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain. It’s divided into two halves, called hemispheres. The two hemispheres are separated by a groove called the interhemispheric fissure. It’s also called the longitudinal fissure.

Each hemisphere of the cerebrum is divided into broad regions called lobes. Each lobe is associated with different functions:

Frontal lobes. The frontal lobes are the largest of the lobes. As indicated by their name, they’re located in the front part of the brain. They coordinate high-level behaviors, such as motor skills, problem solving, judgment, planning, and attention. The frontal lobes also manage emotions and impulse control.

Parietal lobes. The parietal lobes are located behind the frontal lobes. They’re involved in organizing and interpreting sensory information from other parts of the brain.

Temporal lobes. The temporal lobes are located on either side of the head on the same level as the ears. They coordinate specific functions, including visual memory (such as facial recognition), verbal memory (such as understanding language), and interpreting the emotions and reactions of others.

Occipital lobes. The occipital lobes are located in the back of the brain. They’re heavily involved in the ability to read and recognize printed words, along with other aspects of vision.


The cerebellum is located in the back of the brain, just below the occipital lobes. It’s involved with fine motor skills, which refers to the coordination of smaller, or finer, movements, especially those involving the hands and feet. It also helps the body maintain its posture, equilibrium, and balance.

The diencephalon is located at the base of the brain. It contains the:

The thalamus acts as a kind of relay station for signals coming into the brain. It’s also involved in consciousness, sleep, and memory.

The epithalamus serves as a connection between the limbic system and other parts of the brain. The limbic system is a part of the brain that’s involved with emotion, long-term memory, and behavior.

The hypothalamus helps maintain homeostasis. This refers to the balance of all bodily functions. It does this by:

maintaining daily physiological cycles, such as the

   sleep-wake cycle
   controlling appetite
   regulating body temperature
   controlling the producing and release of hormones

Brain stem

The brain stem is located in front of the cerebellum and connects to the spinal cord. It consists of three major parts:

Midbrain. The midbrain helps control eye movement and processes visual and auditory information.

Pons. This is the largest part of the brain stem. It’s located below the midbrain. It’s a group of nerves that help connect different parts of the brain. The pons also contains the start of some of the cranial nerves. These nerves are involved in facial movements and transmitting sensory information.

Medulla oblongata. The medulla oblongata is the lowest part of the brain. It acts as the control center for the function of the heart and lungs. It helps regulate many important functions, including breathing, sneezing, and swallowing.

End of clinical description.

The frontal lobes are the problem. This is where judgment is formed based largely on internal conditions of the body; things like fear, hunger, safety, interpersonal behavior, etc. There is no need for external facts; decisions are about physical survival laced with contrived imagery from the temporal lobes. A successful society must include training of the frontal lobes to include external facts in addition to internal emotions.

Sigh. Yes, mariner knows he is jousting with windmills. Apes we are, apes we’ll always be.

Ancient Mariner


[1] An important film focused on this specific issue is ‘Hacking the Mind’ available for viewing or purchase on PBS.com . Another film available on Netflix is about how Big Data manipulates individual behavior to maximize profits; search ‘the social dilemma’.

Life in the future . . .

. . . will last a long time. Is the reader familiar with COQ10, NAD+, Acetyl L-Carnitine HCL, Alpha Lipoic Acid, IPW, Crispr and inter-species zygotes? These pharmaceuticals are not vitamins. They are products that sustain cell function by restoring required levels of various molecules the cells need to function and communicate – molecules that disappear as humans grow older. Crispr is a technology that allows patching, adding or eliminating various genes. Inter-species zygotes (shudder) create fertilized eggs that are half human and half some other species; become familiar with the word ‘chimera’.

Commercially, these chemicals and procedures are new today and do not share the limelight with vitamins. But it won’t be long before they become more important than vitamins when it comes to restoring and sustaining a body that defies one’s age. Still, the one normal requirement is a good diet that provides necessary vitamins and minerals; many nutritionists claim the Mediterranean diet should be in this group of life-sustaining materials but eating is so passé.

The reader should not let their imagination run free with this subject. One easily could conjure any number of abused subhuman creatures to attend normal human interests. Quickly mariner’s mind leaps to a subhuman slave class, living chimeras that replace sex robots, ordering online a replica of great-great grandma, eternal life (isn’t that supposed to be in Heaven?), or a yet to be bred Homo something to upgrade Home sapiens.

Setting aside these conspiracy theories, it is very likely that, as this area of body chemistry improves, everyone will be living well into one hundred-plus birthday celebrations, hopefully still with many of the body functions that begin to disappear in middle age.

Today, there are actual improvements available. Many inherited diseases and disorders can be eliminated through gene splicing. In some situations where consummating and giving birth is difficult, the solution is an altered sperm or egg. The overwhelming contribution by this new group of supplements is cell health. Scientists are learning more about how individual cells do their job at molecular levels. These additives keep cells healthy and productive.

The reader should give praise to the mice that have given their lives to this chemistry. If we were mice, we may already have lived twice our expected lifespan, solved difficult puzzles while bypassing dementia and had active sex all the while.

The reader may want to start thinking about what they want for their 130th birthday.

Ancient Mariner


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