Is Purgatory required by God, the Holy Roman Catholic Church or the medical profession? Mariner is of an age where he no longer is a mainstay of society, economics or politics. Like millions of other citizens, he represents past accomplishments, past memories and lost faculties.

It causes mariner to ponder – Was the Roman Church right to declare that purgatory was after death? It seems that would make a situation similar to the American immigration policy at the Mexican border. Would God be that disorganized? True, the Church made a lot of money buying and selling souls – sort of like the smugglers bringing immigrants from Central America.

Another explanation is that, similar to the penances of the Church, the medical profession has declared that purgatory is before one dies, not after. The medical industry makes lots of money by extending the human lifespan but not extending the physical or mental capabilities that existed earlier and further makes it feel more like purgatory by prolonging half-cured illnesses and disabilities. Is purgatory a medical phenomenon?

What is God’s take on this? As best we can tell, God created humans as part of his Garden of Eden. Things were perfect until the snake came along. So because we consciously knew the procreation game, God had to modify some things. He changed humans and all creatures into beings that passed on. He said “Instead of living forever in the Garden of Eden, humans will exist as a three-generational creature then die.” So purgatory doesn’t seem to be in God’s plans.

It is true that Jesus offered a get-into-heaven-free deal in exchange for promoting God’s agenda but that quickly disappeared when the Church became the gardener.

All mariner knows is that he is not the human he was when he was forty. Purgatory, apparently, is a real thing; we just don’t know who to blame.

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

Demise of the Local Press

Yes, even news value in the ‘news’paper is disappearing. It is just another severe shift everyone faces in culture’s future. Over four hundred medium and large market newspapers have been bought by hedge funds and venture capitalists. In every case except a very few, the newspapers are stripped of expensive investigative reporting and local news reporting thereby reducing overhead to gain an average of fifty percent profit versus fifteen percent.

The latest round includes Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, New York Daily News and major metro papers from Hartford, Conn. to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. These newspapers have been bought by the hedge fund, Alden Global Capital, referred to as the ‘Vulture Fund’. Fortunately, a very few newspapers are picked up by altruistic investors, e.g., Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post to assure full, unadulterated coverage of news.

So add newspapers to movie theaters, department stores, coffee houses and bars. Notice how these things all required physical movement and personal commitment to achieve? Mariner has decided not to wish for a new Maserati for Christmas.

Instead he only needs a hover board to go to the post office.


Mariner is reading a book titled, “The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For – How a new generation of leaders will transform America” By Charlotte Alter. Mariner swears that some of the points in this book were lifted from his Blog. Alter, like mariner, says we must wait until the old timers get out of the way, that it is the millennials who know the answers. She cites emerging personalities in several fields of endeavor like science, business, international politics and local government (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of several in government).

Alter says we won’t really know what things will look like until the millennials are pretty much in charge of everything. For one example, they know more intuitively what a cloud is and what it can do besides make it rain.

So, millennials, will mariner and his wife ever go to the movies again? Will they ever meander among racks of new sweaters and shirts? Will they be able to go on a cheap date to McDonald’s instead of waiting for a drone?

Ancient Mariner

Commemorating the Rock

There are good things and bad things in the world. The biosphere is built on survival and sustainability in an indifferent world. Virtually everyone has had bad days, maybe very bad days in their lives. The seasons of life can pass through trying, perhaps unfair, certainly unpleasant and hurtful times.

But there are sound foundations, sound existential guarantees that prepare everyone to stand up and to survive. Evolution has fine tuned us to possess the requirements needed to be successful and happy. There are virtually magical experiences that prepare everyone to know happiness and joy; to know compassion and empathy; to have belief in ourselves.

We are fortunate to belong to a group of species that can judge virtue. We are mammals. We are given time to grow under the protection of family, of sharing life with siblings and having time to know ourselves.

At the core of this sophisticated, complex and strengthening experience is the Mother – Mom – the Rock that sustains our civilization.

Ancient Mariner


Wow, just four days ago Justice Clarence wrote that there should be tighter regulations on social media – This from Axios:

New rules from tech companies are making it harder for users who commit crimes in the real world to become famous online, Sara Fischer and Stephen Totilo write:

“Twitch, the Amazon-owned livestream platform used primarily by gamers, yesterday unveiled a new policy to take action against users in cases of “severe misconduct” off its platform.

That can include deadly violence, terrorist activities or recruiting, credible threats of mass violence, sexual exploitation of children, sexual assault or membership in a hate group.

Why it matters: This more holistic approach may help tech companies protect themselves against criticism for hosting potentially harmful people or groups.

But it’ll be harder to draw the line on activity that’s harder to define as explicitly illegal, including bullying.”

From Protocol:

Pinterest has some new guidelines, called the “Creator Code,” meant to set the tone for how people operate on the platform. It’s also giving creators more tools to remove content and promote good stuff.

Facebook is all-in on context. It’s testing a system that adds labels like “satire page” or “public official” to posts in the News Feed, in an effort to give people more information about what they’re seeing and why.


Also from Axios: America’s financial titans are coming to a consensus: We are on the early edge of the biggest economic boom since World War II, with the promise of years of growth after the privation of the pandemic.

Why it matters: They might be wrong. But all point to the same data: This expansion will be kick started by trillions in spending from presidents Trump and Biden, the Fed’s easy money, and piles of cash that consumers and companies accumulated during COVID shutdown.


Amazon warehouse workers turn down union.

The majority of Amazon’s workers in Bessemer, Ala., voted against joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. 5,800 people work at Amazon’s Bessemer facility and 3,215 cast ballots in the election. The union is filing papers with the National Labor Relations Board because of unfair practices by Amazon in the campaign.


China commissioned 38.4 gigawatts (GW) of coal-power plants in 2020. That compares to the rest of the world shutting down 37.8GW of coal plants – the first coal energy increase since 2015.


It has been proven that muons have magnetic characteristics. This changes everything in particle physics.

– – – –

Does the reader feel like an earthquake is starting? Futurists claim this will be a turbulent century and it’s only 2021. Mariner believes this century will be as significant in change as the fifteenth century was for Europe.

Ancient Mariner

Have you heard the (ugh) news?

World news, US news, local news, human news, environment news – all are disturbing. Is it the disorganization of global humanity? Perhaps it’s that there is nothing that is improving or that so much individual suffering is about and in our conscious thought. In any case, news is depressing and leaves us at loose ends.

Add to the lack of a meaningful life in historical terms the extreme oppression brought about by the virus. Jobs, relationships and self-esteem have been crushed – even life itself has been taken from so many.

Where is our victory train? Where is satisfaction? Where are seamless good times? It was bigger news than would have been typical when the roller rink reopened in a nearby town. How starved are we to experience enjoyment that a roller rink is headline news? Mariner was so thirsty for good times he reminisced for a minute or two about his good times at roller rinks. That was more than sixty years ago!

To be more abstract about it, we are like the mouse in a very large, complex maze where progress cannot be measured until the successful completion of the maze. Similar to the mouse, we have only our faith in ourselves, our ability to remain humane and courteous, our tenacity at remaining sane even in a social vacuum, and our commitment to accomplishment – if only to survive.

When one thinks about it, that list is a tall order indeed. But it is duty, it is our charge, the rules of life’s game. It is the path to survival.

Anthropologist Joe Campbell had it right when he said our lives are like a hero’s path. Let’s hope at the end of the journey we can all be in one of those exuberant beer commercials.

Ancient Mariner

Some of this, some of that

֎ Strolling about on the search engine, as is mariner’s wont, he came across an infrequent word that took him back to college/preacher days when he was reading about religion, philosophy and logic and as a preacher, dealing with religious understanding as part of his job. The word is ‘theodicy’. Mariner had to search for a while but he found a post written in 2016 about this very topic. The subject of theodicy had been raised when one of his nonagenarian friends used the word. Mariner was surprised that someone actually knew this word and its context in theology. A discussion ensued about the goodness of God, whether goodness was derived from human experience and other obtuse considerations.

The next day mariner wrote the post in an effort to settle the meaning of the term theodicy. Mariner provides the reference if you are curious about theodicy; be forewarned that there definitely is no room for emoji and other iconery. [Go to the Home page and search “Theodicy and Secularism” posted March 19, 2016.]

֎ On a less esoteric front, March is upon us. Living on the 40th parallel, small thoughts of gardening, shrub pruning and weed killing poke into consciousness. This past winter was unusual in that there was significant snow cover for about three to four weeks. This snow just now is disappearing as the Sun’s rays melt it away.

Having the snow cover for so long has been hard on small wildlife. Mariner’s shrubbery has exceptional damage caused by hungry rabbits, eating some smaller shrubs to the ground. Rabbits are one of those creatures nature put in place so predators would have something to eat. In a town, there are no indigenous predators.

Sometimes a fox will take residence in town; they are excellent predators. Once in a while the few Redtail hawks will capture a young rabbit and sometimes one of the few feral cats will catch one. None of these predators, however, do enough damage to control rabbit population. In his defense, mariner has become a predator, too. But he isn’t any better at killing rabbits than all the other town predators. So it will be another year of cursing the rabbit in the yard because the rabbit is between mariner and his rifle.

֎ Moving on to more serious matters, mariner wrote in a few posts about the need to have multiple nations bond together administratively in order to manage global issues. An early, embryotic move in this direction is how nations are dividing chores among themselves to deal with China. Note this paragraph from Politico:

“COUNTERING CHINA WITH … MODULAR SECTORAL ALLIANCES? The Wall Street Journal reports progress within the Biden administration on how to organize containment of China. According to the report, alliances would be sectoral and the members would differ with each issue. The core alliance members would be the G-7 countries, with others added according to need: a modular model that avoids new bureaucratic institutions and resembles calls for a T-10 group of democratic tech allies. For example, Israel on tech and artificial intelligence, or India on trade issues. Don’t expect that every country will announce their participation.”

Ancient Mariner

Life as a Supernumerary

Is the reader familiar with the word ‘supernumerary’? Mariner first read the word in his college days reading about ancient Japanese culture instead of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. In ancient Japanese culture, there was a ritual celebrating the wisdom and contribution an individual made throughout their lifetime. At a time when the person was retiring or, more accurately, when the person wasn’t part of the mainstream of things anymore, they were promoted to the status of a supernumerary. It was a positive, honorable acknowledgement. A supernumerary was one who was approached for advice in those few times when elderly wisdom was needed.

For the record the dictionary says: supernumerary – “exceeding what is necessary, required or desired.” Today’s use of the word doesn’t seem to capture the same elegance implied by the ancient Japanese.

Mariner has declared himself a supernumerary (along with everyone else over 75). A supernumerary does not understand contemporary social principles. Readers know that mariner laments the approaching reality suggested by the Matrix movies – a life totally controlled by artificial intelligence. To this end, mariner must share two cartoons from The New Yorker. The first speaks for itself and represents mariner’s greatest fear:

The combined effect of smart telephones, radio, television, computers, internet and social media is that the meaning of life does not come from individual experience. If one was born before this electronic invasion, one remembers discovering life from individual experience. True, life was quite parochial and limited to existential experience but the meaning of life began within an individual’s own brain without the puppet strings of Big Data. The second cartoon speaks to this disparity:

The cartoon speaks to mariner because he was one of the last to have creased jeans with a two-inch cuff. To supernumeraries this cartoon speaks to a time when reality was very much more intimate with human labors and experience. Even the labor of pulling a book from the shelf and turning pages to educate one’s self has been reduced to a thumb scrape or two.

A clear example of disparate social values is the current identity crisis that consumes our daily life, allows wealth to be increasingly unbalanced and causes political wars where there is no compromise. Many say that the only hope is to have unity in our nation. But what does unity mean? What does it feel like? How will citizens behave without populist values? Part of the problem of creating unity is that no one knows what it means to be unified.

Supernumerary folks know. If one experienced World War II that was a time when the nation was unified. America came first – even before citizens chose their groceries, automobiles, vacations, even when to turn all houselights off. Every neighborhood had social clubs for soldiers and sailors; mariner’s father held a weekly dance for the military from Fort Meade and the navy crews in Baltimore harbor. Good cuts of meat were not available in grocery stores because the meat went to the Armed Services. Gasoline was limited to three gallons per month. Women were the majority in factories. Enlisted men had free seats on trains.

Are the younger citizens ready for unity? Can they put aside their populism? It took a world war to unify the United States. There is another war today but it is not bullets. It is climate change, complete restructuring of society and jobs and creating the reality implied by phrases like “All men are created equal.”

If one is not a supernumerary, one has no frame of reference for the responsibilities of national unity.

Ancient Mariner

Do you remember that time when . . .

There is an advertisement on television at the moment that shows a group of young people doing the limbo at night under the colored lights of a hamburger shack. Seeing this caught mariner’s full attention. He had a flashback to the very same scene at a beach on the Magothy River in Maryland. He won the contest that night; perhaps that’s why he has bad knees today.

Continuously we are confronted by realists, psychologists and others who attack our good memories. “It wasn’t as good as you remember it.” Or, “You don’t remember how insecure you were then.” Or, “Isn’t that the time your father grounded you for two weeks for not coming home until the next afternoon?” Remember what Victor Hugo said, “Melancholy is the joy of depression.”

Who cares? What is important is that what builds the libido are those moments of joy, success and fulfillment as we grow up. Supposedly, the typical human stops ‘growing up’ in their mid-twenties but the memories of childhood, good or bad, will be who we think we are for the rest of our lives.

Today, those youthful experiences buried in our libido are constrained as we live trapped in our homes, hidden behind personality-erasing masks and unable to enjoy the collegiality of close conversation. Our common experience is missing a large chunk of normalcy; our ability to express who we are is shut down. Is it because we can’t emulate the expectations of our libido?

Mariner, for one, gleaned every drop of enjoyment and memory from that advertisement. For a thin moment, he had a good time.

Ancient Mariner

The long and short of it

This one is long: The first ‘human’ to evolve was Homo habilis who appeared 2.4 million years ago and survived for about 1 million years. A similar neighbor who came along about the same time was H. rudolfensis, who survived only for 100 thousand years. The first truly upright was H. Erectus who evolved 2 million years ago and survived until just 110 thousand years ago – about 2 million years. Today’s H sapiens came aboard 90,000 years ago and still is around. Just food for thought – will H. sapiens survive for one or two million years?

This one is uncomfortably short: If the United States were a sailing ship adrift at sea and President Biden took command, he has about six months to right the ship and reset the sails before international meetings and conferences will occur that will determine the ship’s course back to a role that leads in the race to the next decade. Righting the ship involves taming the pandemic and new rigging in Congress that can get things done.

This one is too long: Lingering with the ship metaphor, there are two storms at sea – the nation’s economy and the dangerous waves of Big Tech. It will take long enough to restart the economy that it will influence the 2024 election. Can the new sails and rigging hold? Big tech requires shifting ballast around below deck, which is restructuring taxes for the too rich investors and corporations, keeping the ship at good speed in choppy seas.

Really short: Donald Who? Don’t worry, he’ll be back as his business dealings and a number of investigations involving unconstitutional behavior reopen without the protection of executive privilege. However, we should not be zealous about whatsisname, we have a ship to sail.

Did you hear the Bosun’s whistle? Every citizen to their station!

Ancient Mariner