Logarithms

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

 

 

An etymology of religion

Well, not really an etymology but it is about the words associated with religion. If one were to step back a good distance from the words used in religion, they would discover that there aren’t any major differences between religions. For example, the motivators are: what is the ultimate, singular force that governs reality? What is the best way to survive in the environment? What is the best way to manage humanity? What is the best way to survive when the relationship with reality seems uncertain?

As an illustration, the first god to be documented in the western world was Cybele, originally a Phrygian [ancient nation in today’s Turkey] goddess. She was the goddess of Mother Earth. In Greek mythology she was Rhea, the mother of the gods. Her Roman equivalent was Magna Mater. She was associated with fertility and also controlled nature, symbolized originally by the lions that accompanied her. In Christianity, she is Mary, Mother of Jesus.

Cybele’s role shifted through the ages except for one element: the master of creation. Because of transitions in human knowledge, Mary did not need two lions at her side to assure the birth of Jesus.

An interesting thing to consider is the definition of God. God was male and except for a few instances, was quite anthropomorphic, managing reality through a human’s eye. Would the reader consider the word ‘singularity’ as the latest definition of God? In quantum physics, this is the definition:

In scientific terms, a gravitational singularity (or space-time singularity) is a location where the quantities that are used to measure the gravitational field become infinite in a way that does not depend on the coordinate system. In other words, it is a point in which all physical laws are indistinguishable from one another, where space and time are no longer interrelated realities, but merge indistinguishably and cease to have any independent meaning.

Another interesting example is comparing the Old Testament’s Ten Commandments [Exodus 20:2-17], Islam’s Sharia Law [see Post titled Sharia Law] and Christianity’s Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5]. Reading the words suggests vastly different objectives but the subject is the same: What is the best way to manage humanity?

This post is Mariner’s way of introducing the reader to a new way of looking at religion. The traditional way has caused wars, social upheaval and ridiculous fragmentation as politics, culture and technology grind the virtues of life into a useless pile of crumbs.

However, AI is eager to help 21st century humans throw everything into a dishwasher and produce an amalgamated religion appropriate for our modern culture(s).

We need Cybele and her lions . . . .

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.

Past Forty-five

Mariner reports from an electric recliner in his henhouse apartment:

This post primarily is for anyone over forty-five. Name five activities the reader hasn’t done for the last five years. For example, walk every, every day, rearrange furniture, sit on the floor cross-legged to watch television while completing a jigsaw puzzle, clean roof gutters, change a ceiling light bulb, weed all the gardens on time, paint a room, help someone else with labor, not money, etc.

When is the last time the reader took on a project that took more than a week to accomplish? How long has it been since the reader read anything longer than ten pages (newspapers and entertainment magazines not acceptable). All these activities are examples of vitality and joy of life.

To be rude, everyone lets themselves die. Mariner acknowledges that evolution has no use for humans after forty-five and has arranged for strength and chemical composition to begin decomposing more rapidly. Eventually, it is inevitable that humans will pass on; everyone does. Medical science has let humans live longer but only artificially. Keeping the old body breathing with twenty-seven prescriptions and supplements is not an example of vitality and joy of life. Yet, prescriptions aside, humans can defy evolution because evolution made the mistake of making humans too smart for their own good.

On a daily basis mariner sees old timers walking briskly, bicycling, even jogging. He sees small groups of folks walking as a group all over town. He knows many hobbyists engaged in everything from making very nice greeting cards to repairing lawnmower and tractor breakdowns as a small business – and that man is OLD. Mariner knows of a group that still goes to storefront movie houses; the ‘group’ part is as important as the storefront culture.

It is important to have at least one group activity. Options are infinite: book club, card or poker club, writing club, church activities, volunteer organizations, community maintenance, and on and on. If one is fortunate, there is a restaurant nearby where a bunch of regulars gather for morning coffee.

Here’s the test:

  • How much real, memorable fun has the reader had in the last two years?
  • What has the reader created that is a new personal accomplishment in the last two years?
  • With how many people has the reader had face-to-face conversations today (telephone, text and Wi-Fi Facetalk don’t count)?.
  • How long has it been since the reader went swimming or hiking or just going somewhere new?
  • Has the reader stepped forward to help another’s need in the last two years?
  • Over the last two years, has the reader regularly performed physical exercises?

Mariner acknowledges that evolution will have its way but go out fighting – the reader  actually will live longer and have a good time as well.

Ancient Mariner

 

 

Communal life survives

The holiday season has begun and the town is enjoying itself with many appropriately focused activities. The willingness to volunteer is widespread. The churches, of course, are providing special dinners and services; the town has a day called “Merry on Main Street” where many commercial businesses are providing space and resources. There are locations where children can buy presents for their parents; a soup supper at the fire station; the library has Santa and Mrs. Claus; the local bank has a treat stop with cookies and other treats; there is a dance performance, and a truck and trailer that tours the streets, replete with Christmas lights and loud speakers, and a band playing Christmas carols. All volunteer.

Mariner visited a nearby town to hear a volunteer choir. The event is to support the continued survival of an old church whose architecture is historical. Those who participate provide many hours of practice and perform two shows and provide an open meal on the shore of the Mississippi River. All volunteer.

How wonderful is this reality compared to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, smart phones and Alexa, and 24 hours per day of horrific news broadcasts.

The magic comes from an honest desire from each individual to share themselves with the community. The motives are intensely apolitical and not commercial. Sharing is the spirit; a chance for individuals to share and identify with their community and its citizens.

These events are an excellent chance to get out of the house and the work rut to meet citizens in an informal and nonthreatening environment. Mariner’s use of the Cheers theme song rings true: “Every one is glad you came and everyone knows your name!

At a library sponsored Christmas dinner for its staff, Mariner met a probation officer! Mariner once was a probation officer, too (1970s). The two of us shared war stories. Now, how often does one meet a probation officer?

This communal world is really what a supposedly democratic philosophy is all about. It is locally managed, innocent, non-money-making, non-self aggrandizement that our government should be protecting. Dictatorships won’t do it; the current scary republican party won’t do it; a dysfunctional, weaponized Congress won’t do it.

Vote on behalf of your local community’s well being. The reader has an especially serious responsibility to get it right on voting day.

Ancient Mariner

More on systemic adaptation

In the last post, mariner used the transition from cash to online as an example of how humans shift behavior because that is how everyone else does it and there is some benefit attached. Money, credit cards and online shopping are obvious systemic adaptations – even the first telephone was a systemic adaptation. However, systemic adaptation is more complex when it is political, emotional or behavioral conditioning.

For example, is the MAGA movement an example of systemic adaptation? Why has a significant portion of the citizenry modified their behavior in a very similar fashion? What happened in our society that provoked this unified behavior?

Even more subtle is the shift in attitude within the democratic party. Why did the party become elitist and forget its roots in labor? Was it because everyone was behaving that way, aka systemic adaptation?

Why is it that rural folks typically are conservative while city folks tend to be liberal? The common behavior is too precise to be an individually determined mindset. Why is there a distinct difference in assumptions when comparing a rural town, a suburb and a slum?

It turns out that systemic adaptation is the same awareness that explains how a flock of thousands of birds can swirl through the air without breaking formation. It is a common subconscious ability in any species that requires social awareness – birds, mammals and even some fish.

Giving the frontal lobes their due, conscious manipulation of the environment is a survival skill that requires conscious focus and abstract reasoning – just like beavers, mice, magpies, monkeys and apes.

But most of our survival is managed by a deeply complex subconscious machine which requires an approval before anything is decided – frontal lobes included. It is the subconscious that allows humans to behave as they do – good or bad; the subconscious mind can be flawed like anything else.

Given a rare and extremely unusual reasoning power, humans are capable of complex uses of systemic adaptation. Hence, humans, clearly a social creature, adjust their behavior in many ways (MAGA or democrat? bowling league or flower club? college graduate or service worker? engineer or poet? parent or single?) adjusting social behavior accordingly.

What has motivated mariner to ponder systemic adaptability is the paradox in the last post: Do politicians, economists, and corporations control our systemic behavior or do we as citizens allow them to do so because of our indifference – in itself a systemic adaptation?

In any case, the trope is true: birds of a feather . . . .

Ancient Mariner

 

Survival skills

The really old folks can remember the times of the World Wars in the last century – the really big ones: WWI and WWII. The sadness of it all was the thousands of lives dying in battle day in, day out. It was a time when everyone grew ‘Victory’ vegetable gardens; it was a time when factories stopped making automobiles so they could concentrate on making tanks and other military devices; it was a time when the women came into the workforce because the draft was requiring every healthy male body into service; it was a time when grocery shopping was limited to how many food stamps you had and gasoline was limited to three gallons per week. As mariner has mentioned a time or two, Franklin Roosevelt was able to put a 100 percent tax on income above $35,000/year ($587,685 in 2023) – try getting that passed today!

At the intimate level, it was a terrible time. The national culture was ripped apart, destroying families, businesses and the general tone of human behavior. Interestingly, there was a strange feeling of satisfaction as all the citizens stepped forward to join the national cause; remember the famous ad “Uncle Sam wants You”? The availability of Taylor Swift images is peanuts compared to the continuous presence of Uncle Sam.

WWII pulled a national persona together that has never been so strong. Mariner gives pause today. It is not likely to unify a nation against Russians, Chinese, Israelis, Middle Eastern Arab nations . . . not even gays and abortions. Today our Nation is set upon by the internal wars of weaponized political parties and an oligarchical economy that not even FDR could tackle.

But what is our saving grace? Where is our unification? Where can one find a feeling of accomplishment in a fractured world? Turn away from television news. Replace it with local news, paying attention to what you see and feel in your existential life. Avoid the attack on human socialization – set time limits on the smartphones, Tik-Toc, Facebook and even choosing not to use self checkout and instead engaging another human being. Shop in a store with the whole family – remember stores?

The point is this: focus on family experiences, look continuously for feelings of personal worth and achievement within your own world – best found in talking to real, ‘right before your eyes’ humans. As Cheers advocated, go to a place where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came.

How long has it been since you went bowling? Remember playing pinochle with the neighbors? Have you tried pickle ball?  Jeezy Peezy!

Ancient Mariner

What if –

Our nation went back to the original campaigning environment where, because of the spread of the population and a relative isolation because modern transportation and communication weren’t around yet, the funds for campaigning were limited to local funding within the electoral jurisdiction and the selection of campaigners was a local decision?

Albert Einstein said we can’t go back.

What if credit cards didn’t exist and the local economy depended on cash, check and local bank financing? Would giant retail mega-corporations exist?

Albert said we can’t go back.

What if the amount of income from any source was subject to an upper limit beyond which federal taxes would be 100 percent? FDR did it.

But Albert just chuckled.

What if unions were pervasive enough to restore full-time, corporate guaranteed retirement and full medical benefits?

Albert said nope.

What if the entire education industry had been able to keep up with inflation like the universities did?

Stop this says Albert. The laws of physics say that under certain conditions it may be possible to leap into the future but going back in time is not possible.

Anyone care to peek into the future?

Ancient Mariner