The worst tragedy

To start the subject of the post, here is a cartoon from The Week:

Referencing a recent post, the cowboy culture, one of independent success and individual respect, in their battle against benign neglect by the college-elite, has provoked an attack against freedom (and the necessity) of education.

It is a tragedy because education, knowledge, familiar awareness, social judgment, and all the other nuances of education and freedom of information are not relevant to the central issue. The central issue is mistreatment of the labor classes by government and a society that has grown sophisticated and complex. Today’s college-elite don’t ride a single horse; they ride a wave of investment and the wind of the Internet.

Mariner recently had his garage roof replaced. It was finished in one very hot day by five laborers. Their persistence and craftsmanship were remarkable. Sweating and tired, they had accomplished something a significant percentage of college-elites could not possibly have accomplished. Yet, their profession is discounted and society does not grant them social achievement or notable financial benefits. They are treated as a pseudo servant class similar to the workers on Downton Abbey.

There are remedies. But a lot is in the hands of all three branches of federal and state government.

A relatively easy repair would be to reinstate the legislation that required corporations to guarantee full retirement – a deliberate target of Reaganites in the last century. Also in the last century, right to work laws were imposed deliberately to abolish unions.

Fortunately, educators are making a move toward labor-style education beyond high school – not through conscientiousness, mind you, economics is forcing the change.

A bit more sophisticated is to reintroduce labor to community boards and agencies so that labor has a voice at the street level. This was a function of labor unions back in the day.

The last repair is visibly represented in another The Week cartoon:

The seemingly irrational objection by MAGA labor to discretionary spending, which helps the unwealthy, is that the government is not providing a viable economic structure – the rich continue to grow richer and the poor continue to grow poorer.

One simple example is the resistance government has to raising the minimum wage (childcare and many other family economic issues would disappear).

Mariner feels this may be the most difficult obstruction to repair. Philosophically, the United States does not have unlimited access to resources; capitalism works best when everyone can have a share of benefits. Given the disruption of global warming, an emerging redefinition of what a nation is, the excessive over-population of the planet, international corporate control of supply chains, etc., capitalism must make room for socialism – a most difficult task for a nation created as a capitalist dreamland.

Ancient Mariner


It’s the Culture

Ever so slowly, thinkers and writers, even in the news industry, have begun to ferret out the real battleground in today’s hectic lifestyle. It is a battle of tradition – the American image that has been bred into most Americans: John Wayne westerns, heroic lone cowboy stories, empire builders like Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. It is a culture of champions who did it all alone, singular champions. The result is a culture where a citizen must be self-reliant, a champion of accomplishment, a Jason pursuing the golden fleece.

On the other hand, there is the culture of elitism, of intellect, of accomplishment within the sophisticated empire-building of American economics. Successful people are granted tenure, bonuses, and protected asset security.

What can a lone cowboy with a lariat do to deal with a twenty-story building?

Many irrelevant issues substitute for a direct attack, which, politically or militarily, cowboys would not win. Consequently, race, sex, education, work issues, and religious infighting are part of a multi-front attack on the culture of elitism. It is working because legislators are busy protecting their own elected position and the economic hoarders, who also dislike the smarty college elite, are underwriting the cowboy cause.

Given the lack of fairness and ignoring the concept of ‘one vote’, the cowboy attack has gained territory. The biggest weapon is gerrymandering. The second obvious attack is to manipulate the judicial system in its entirety.

But as in any war, the cost is heavy. The invasion of public school boards, backed by legislators, has collapsed the idea that a trained college graduate is responsible for curriculum.

Abortion has been irrationally trashed and weaponized. Mariner’s mother died because she could not get an abortion. In any medical issue, including prescriptions and vaccinations, it is the college-trained physician who should set policy.

Discretionary spending by elitist-controlled governments is attacked because the policies invade private life through health insurance, child care, Social Security, small business and elderly care among many more. The fiscal conservatives share the isolationist philosophy when it comes to ‘government invasion into private life’.

Any cultural standard set by the college-elite democrats is at risk, sometimes perhaps for irrational reasons. The elites, to be fair, have their own prejudices which don’t necessarily help matters, e.g., NIMBY.

Racism, a side battlefront, is exacerbated by the energies of the cowboy war; attacks on Chinese and Arabic races have increased, as well as joining in the battle against black history.

Unfortunately, the seven-word social philosophy uttered by Rodney King is not an option.

  • – –

Mariner is reminded of a metaphor: He used to belong to a weekly poker club comprised of old codgers. Actually, it was a social club but poker was the reason to gather. Those poker games were the worst poker mariner has ever played. The codgers had developed a pattern of options. For example, before a dealer dealt, he would announce, “deuces and the last card you’re dealt are wild.” Another gambit was borrowed from children’s games: “Pass the first and last cards to the right”.

Obviously, these poker players were not students of poker probabilities so they did everything they could to make the probabilities irrelevant. So it is with the cowboy war.

Now throw in Artificial Intelligence.

Ancient Mariner

Maybe tomorrow

This Spring, mariner planned to move his vegetable garden to another spot in the backyard. He reasoned that March would have enough good days to build new raised beds and fix several maintenance issues that make things easier, then in April seed pots could be started under grow lights, and finally, spring planting would begin in late April, early May.

One bed of four has been built; improved soil is not yet added; constant interruptions for nuisance maintenance issues have interfered – both outside and in the home; March offered nothing but constant cold rain; in April property maintenance became the primary chore with cutting lawns, weeding, and maintaining a spiff front yard for the neighborhood to see.

Well, maybe tomorrow I’ll get to it. The reader knows as well as mariner that tomorrow never comes. (1) mariner walks like Mr. Tudball (2) physical ability requires changing the type of work frequently – a real boon for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). (3) four days of rain. (5) Task A must be done before starting task B which must be done before starting task C which must be done before starting task A.

It is a project that is more than mariner can handle using a time clock for scheduling. Like mariner tells his friends, he works eight hours a day but it takes him three days to do it. Still, it beats rotting away watching streaming television. Maybe tomorrow I’ll watch streaming television . . . .

Ancient Mariner

Who are you?

As we live each day, dealing with the nitty-gritty of each hour and minute, as we get pushed around by schedules and interpersonal dialogue, as we absorb the distractions of the world at large, we lose track of who we are.  We are a montage of feelings, responsibilities, and social obligations. But how do we manage this montage? How do we create sensible order and priority using the guiding principles of our behavior?

What follows is an informal examination of the core principles that guide an individual’s priorities and opinions. It isn’t absolute, of course, but it is an interesting opportunity to focus on our own motivators.

The examination is very general, focusing on the rules of general behavior and belief rather than habits and idiosyncrasies.


Philosophy of life is the Bible for your attitude. What kind of treatment can other people expect from you? Is it “Every man for himself” or perhaps “What’s best for everybody” or “Do it right or forget it”? Another way of putting it is, “What do I owe to the world?”


For 300,000 years, evolution carefully crafted a creature whose survival depended on groups; the deep processes of the brain gave priority to interpersonal awareness. Limited by physical capability and an environment full of life-threatening situations, the human found safety in family and inter-family (tribal) association. In less than 5,000 years, this balance has shifted as humans chose to neutralize the environment, which lessened the need for families, groups and tribes. Still, using the time clock of evolution, humans haven’t changed and remain a social creature. Consequently, certain social aberrations have become common; many would classify murdering fellow humans with an assault rifle to be an example; hoarding excessive wealth would be another; castigating people for differences in sexual hormone balance could be another. Loneliness and suicides are rising.

But the objective in this examination is your perspective. Do you behave among others in a manner that reflects your philosophy of life? If your philosophy is ‘every man for himself’ why would you be concerned about the characteristics of another person? If you follow a righteous doctrine, why would you advocate racist and sexual castigation? Another way of putting it is, “What do I owe to protect the world?”

It is the existence of imbalance between your philosophical categories and actual behavior that causes general irritability, sadness or an attitude of laissez faire toward society in general. Biologically, humans still need groups. Some may call it fellowship.


Economics is a practical interpretation of your philosophy of life. You may need to pause a moment to recognize how what makes you feel secure in life relates to your philosophy of life. You should note contradictions because this suggests you are not self-aware regarding your behavior.

As an example, a person who says “My philosophy is what’s best for everyone” but advocates capitalist priorities does not have a matching philosophy of life and economics. From the other end, a person who believes in communistic economics may be ignorant of their contradiction having a philosophy that advocates ‘every man for himself’. Another way of putting it is, “What should I share with the world?”

If you have not given thought to the relationship in your life between ethics and economics, you may be surprised that you have some reconciliation to do.


It is obvious that the body requires continuous attention and further, is a component affected by your philosophy of life. Medical studies indicate that ignoring the health and physical capacity of the body undercuts the ambition to fulfill any philosophy of life, whichever it may be. In other words, your desire to sustain your philosophy of life requires a body to match. If your philosophy is ‘what’s best for everybody’, your desire to participate in that philosophy requires energy, positive attitude and other energies that require a healthy and energetic body. There are disabling influences at every turn from television to soft recliners to petty prejudices. Another way of putting it is, “How do I pull my weight in the world?”

֎ So that is the self-examination. Does your behavior, habits, commitments, and finances match your philosophy of life? Whichever philosophy you choose isn’t the point – it’s a matter of your lifestyle matching that philosophy.

In retrospect, there may be some readers who would say the examination is upside down, that it is a person’s personal attributes that define their philosophy of life. This suggestion reflects a legitimate approach to problem solving; mariner often has referred to ‘what’ versus ‘why’ problem solving. This examination requires a general declaration first to assure continuity and expose contradictions in life that make life more awkward. One significant example will show the importance of stating a philosophy of life first:

There are many who consider themselves Christians but in terms of behavior are not. The New Testament sets a standard of behavior (philosophy) that must be practiced. There are many ways to ignore or abuse the New Testament and still pretend one is a Christian. In practice, one has fooled themselves into thinking they are a person they are not. By answering the question ‘what do I owe the world’ first, it will be easier to discover discordant practices.

The objective of this examination is to iron out wrinkles and discover who one really is. Answering the question “What do I owe the world?” first provides a ruler or standard that may require an adjustment in behavior. Conversely, one may have to go back and declare a different philosophy that encompasses a different way of measuring behavior.

Ancient Mariner


This week

Here’s the favorite cartoon from The Week magazine:

The daily news is so redundant that any of us could write a broadcast. Perhaps the most important news to come along recently is the growing moral and economic battle for human creativity in all the art fields: music, art, cartoons, scripts, books, all the creative things that have always represented human sensitivity and intelligence, can be done much less expensively by AI. The potential for ChatGPT and dozens of other applications to emulate human creativity is too close to the real thing. The applications can even accurately copy a singer’s style such that we would be hard pressed to know if AI or a real person was the creator.

An interesting fact was viewed the other day on Junk University (YouTube). It turns out that every Christian denomination is rapidly losing membership except for the Amish, which is growing. Mariner knew his pony cart would be handy sooner or later.

While visiting the University, a comedian had a good line. “Imagine,” he said, “how much faster the oceans would rise if all the sponges died.”

Happy Mother’s Day to all the underappreciated women who raised such glorious children.

Ancient Mariner



Language is a complex, embedded and demonstrative part of our consciousness. Language tells us who we are, what is important not only as a subject but what is important to our own reality. As an experiment, a set of words is listed below. On one side is MAGA words, on the other is WOKE words.

PAY                      SALARY

HOUSE                ASSET

PRIDE                  SUCCESS


WORK                 OFFICE

REPAIR                REMODEL

BILLS                   BUDGET


MORAL                PRAGMATIC


RUINED               INSURANCE

ANGRY                 OFFENDED

The list certainly isn’t a scientific analysis of the difference in expression but the fact that language is the expression of deeper feelings about self-identity, worthiness, and purpose in society is clear.

If one were to speculate on the differences in self-assurance between the MAGA and the WOKE, it might center on how long MAGA can continue to neutralize socially imposed feelings of inadequacy and unfairness. Roughly speaking, it began in the time of Ronald Reagan (1980s) but he is only the authority figure in a time of sudden change in American culture; The 80s are when the large generation of college graduates came into being thanks to the GI Bill of Rights, a surge in prosperity, and significant industrial automation.

The last forty years has seen a consolidation of privilege for what now are WOKE people through elimination of unions, suppressed wages during inflation, freeing corporations from guaranteeing retirement benefits, and governmental resistance to accommodating the isolated labor class via discretionary spending (health, social security, minimum wage, etc.).

So here we are today with a serious confrontation over ‘what America represents’.

What did you expect?

Ancient Mariner

A Message for Resistant Conservatives

The reader may think immediately of the MAGA folks, their mouthpieces  Trump and DeSantis, but there is resistance from the economic side as well if one considers the resistance to going green by the fossil fuel industry, the larcenous greed of private equity firms, the religious purity of the National Rifle Association and its supporting manufacturers, and internationally, any person or movement insistent on having bullet wars – Putin included.

The message is this: Let’s make the rest of human history as pleasant as possible. The self-interest embedded in Reaganomics began sinking twenty years ago. Wars can be won more cheaply with electronics than with bullets. Also included are today’s ‘woke’ liberals – liberal philosophy but failure to abide in order to enjoy their comfort and generational success.

Because of competitive news corporations, the MAGA movement seems larger and more overwhelming than it may be. Conservative financiers herd the group, feeding large sums of money into political activity – especially in those states with a notable presence of MAGA, where state politics are a virgin environment for manipulation.

However, Resistant Conservatives, it is all for naught. It is for the Woke folks as well, and for fiscal hoarding. This petulant class war is a spit in the ocean of turmoil coming upon all humans.

Consider some of the other challenges (and their size and cost):

֎ Global Warming – For size and cost, global warming is in a league of its own. Already many nations around the world have suffered irreparable damage to their economies through growing drought, storms and floods. The United States is pretty rich right now but global warming alone already has cost US governments and corporations trillions of dollars. The Fourth National Climate Assessment, released November 23, predicts the U.S. economy will shrink by as much as 10 percent by the end of the century – just from changing climate. Most other nations will not survive if they have to lose ten percent of their current economy. This leads to the next large challenge:

֎ Immigration – International migration added more than a million people to the U.S. population between July 1, 2021 and July 1, 2022. 150,000 immigrants have crossed the US border every month for the last eighteen months. Small potatoes. In just seven years the population growth in America will be driven by immigrants more than native-born babies and by 2050 immigration will account for over 80 percent of US population growth according to the US Census Bureau. What’s more, the report from Negative Population Growth Inc. said that by 2050, US births will plummet to 315,000 while immigration surges to over 1.4 million. Global migration will be so disruptive that the US economy, as well as all other national economies, if they can afford it, will have to share national budgets internationally.

Already in the US, the vast wheat farms in the southwest suffered a bad crop in 2022, causing economic issues in the affected states and causing feed shortage for national livestock. The US can suffer these economic issues for a while but most nations can’t.

֎ International consortia – In the national news just days ago, the G20, a group of 19 nations and the European Union, urged a large increase in contributions for the purpose of balancing global sustainability. The United Nations is already tracking current hardships and developing sustainability strategies. What exists around the world today as trade organizations will evolve into international sustainability consortia.

֎ Artificial Intelligence – AI is everyone’s enemy. Some scientists fear AI will dominate political legislation without human intervention, making the definition of a nation more a link in a global automated economy.

So, Resistant Conservatives, let’s make it easier for all of us; in fifteen years sexual variability, abortions, and a sunken Florida and Louisiana will be unimportant issues.

Ancient Mariner


These times they are a-changin

֎ Americans retiring now are going it alone: They’re the first generation to rely on private savings instead of pensions to navigate the financial unknown of retirement.

֎ Private Equity has moved into health services. Their objective isn’t health, its profit. They said so themselves. Here’s an example: The term is ‘noncompete’.  It’s a clause in a doctor’s contract that says they cannot practice medicine outside their own facility; if they leave, they cannot care for prior patients.

֎ School districts in Nevada, Iowa, Virginia, California and other states are embracing “equitable grading,” which minimizes the importance of daily homework and focuses on final projects and tests. In short, to be fair to students with and without smartphones or computers, with or without after-school jobs and bussed or walking home. More emphasis will be put on in-class performance.

֎ The average American is roughly six times more likely to die in the coming year than his counterpart in Switzerland. American infants are less likely to turn 5, American teenagers are less likely to turn 30, and American 30-somethings are less likely to survive to retirement. Gun deaths among U.S. children and teens have doubled in the past 10 years, reaching the highest level of gun violence against children recorded this century.

֎ College professors are using ChatGTP to write recommendations on behalf of students. Faculty writes loads of these every year, in support of applications for internships, fellowships, industry jobs, graduate school, university posts.

֎ This one is not new but perhaps we should take note. A man or woman with conviction is a hard person to change. Tell them you disagree and they turn away. Show them facts or figures and they question your sources. Appeal to logic and they fail to see your point … Suppose that they are presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that their belief is wrong: what will happen? They will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of their beliefs than ever before.

Some things never change – about ourselves.

Ancient Mariner

At the front edge

In case you needed to know, an ant can live up to five years if lucky but the average life span is less than one month.

Recent subjects from the thinking class are that we are amid a protracted inversion of political parties where eventually republicans will endorse discretionary spending for health and other needs and the haughty, wealthy college graduates will become conservatives. This has happened twice in the history of the US but in today’s multitude of conflagrations, it is hard to find a stable place to stand from which to gain perspective.

In the past, legislative manipulation was used to protect special interests. Today, the government is a full-blown plutocracy where the special interests run the government. Another difference is the presence of social media, which can raise angry armies in a few days. The third difference is the international confusion; today, the oceans don’t help isolate the US politic – take Tik-Tok for example.

Interfering with the pace of political change is the current societal transition from the boomers through the retiring millennials to the zee generation.

It used to be a war was a war. Today, there are about 12 major independent wars happening at once and the US is involved in most of them.

As followers of the news know, each of the items listed above is disruptive to a united party, and the social issues of abortion, drugs and sexual variability haven’t been counted. Nor has the biggest player, planet Earth, been considered – we may not have the money for two different parties.

Another think-tank issue is that there is a good chance Florida and Louisiana will not be around in fifty years, nor the Caribbean islands. The scientific fact is that all the new water will move to the Equator more than it will to other parts of the planet. The Earth is a large spinning ball; water will be subject to centrifugal force, sending it to the farthest location from the center of the Earth – near the Equator.

Well, it’s Spring. Get the bike out and pedal around for a while. Gardens are starting to show a lot of color and the breeze is finally warm.

Ancient Mariner

Are humans and the biosphere still in the Pleistocene?

Traces of Homo genes have been found that existed more than 600,000 years ago but the variation that represents the beginning of humans as we would define them today (Homo sapiens) appeared about 300,000 years ago.

Here is a picture of our Great Grandfather:

Homo heidelbergensis




300,000 years ago is before the Industrial Revolution. It is before the invention of the wheel. It is before the idea of government. It is before rafts. It is before American slavery. It is before George Washington. It is before Texas and New York. It is even so far back that Henry Louis Gates Junior can’t trace ancestors on his “Finding Your Roots” show.

The point is this: We are 99.9 percent the same creature that walked around buck naked in the Pleistocene. The .1 percent that continued to evolve was the ability to have abstract thoughts – thoughts and imaginings that weren’t real. To this day our limbic system is confused and can’t tell what is real. There is no physiological chemistry designed to respond to railroad trains.

How did Homo sapiens relate to the environment? It’s a difficult question to answer. For a long time, Pleistocene folks were classified as herbivores who survived primarily by eating roots and grasses that are still around today. However, recent discoveries at one site showed plenty of bones. Most of the animal bones came from gazelles. Among the other remains were hartebeests, wildebeests, zebras, buffalo, porcupines, hares, tortoises, freshwater mollusks, snakes and ostrich eggshells.

It is unlikely that early man kept gazelles and buffalo in body-sized cages as modern man does. Our ancestors had to chase them down. That is why the limbic system is confused by railroad trains. An interesting footnote to this paragraph is that only 20 percent of water-sourced food remains from averages posted just 50 years ago. Something is happening that is different from the last 300,000 years. Further, arable land is disappearing due to many things from population to industrial consumption to climate change.

Speaking of climate change, it is not coincidental that Homo sapiens has been able to populate the planet in the blink of an eye – given evolutionary timelines. Generally speaking, the planet has been tough on life since the beginning. Consider an ice age that lasted millions of years and in modern times can run 200,000 years without blinking an eye. Volcanic eruptions are another phenomenon that raises its disturbances every so many thousand years. But fortunately, scientists have noted a very still, cooperative and generous period for the last 300,000 years.

But now there is foreboding activity. It is true that modern Pleistocene man has trashed the climate, biosphere and has driven the animal kingdom to extinction – that’s the result of abstract thinking. But Homo is not the only driver of change. Most of the methane comes from deep in the Earth, from a time before rafts were invented. Further, volcanoes seemed disturbed by an unbalanced spinning of the Earth’s core. Scientists already have proven that the planet has entered a stage where the polarity will switch – something that happens over many years but can be disruptive. Will polar bears and penguins have to switch places?

Let’s not add any significance to Donald but doesn’t he look like an old Homo heidelbergensis? Then, so does mariner’s Great Aunt Denise.

Good Luck Zees!

Ancient Mariner