Back by insistent demand

There’s nothing left to say about the world. It is on a roll that cannot be deterred. Mariner is reminded of the old song “Ghost Riders in the Sky”, a Frankie Lane hit. Humans have joined the chase for the Devil’s herd.

Nevertheless, his wife insists that he continue to write a blog. Mariner suspects she already senses his intellectual demise and that to continue to write will ease that demise a bit. He told her his readers already know he is demented.

He has no idea what to write about . . . . . Here’s a thought: Mariner was reminded of an old rock and roll hit by Frankie Lane. What are the significant songs in your life? What song reminds you of that first crush, that first infatuation when the reader was just a young teenager? Mariner bets you can sing the entire lyric.

List three songs that make you feel at ease and oblivious to the world.

Name two popular singers that have superior skill at singing; think big timers like Michael Crawford, Elvis Gospel, Ella Fitzgerald, etc.

Name a song that provides spiritual insight that has remained part of your conscious mind over the years.

Name the one song that makes you most melancholy.

Name the song that lifts your energy and feelings of good times – maybe even breaking into dance.

Name the one song that makes you stop what you are doing and join the song. Mariner admits that any of Fats Domino’s hard downbeat arrangements are distracting no matter what mariner is doing.

Music is magic, kind of a metaverse.

So have at it folks; this is as intellectual as it gets.

Ancient Mariner


It is over.

The battle to sustain individuality and Homo sapiens authenticity has been won by AI. Watch the following clip then read on:

Already AI is good enough to write novels, essays, legal briefs and singlehandedly manage most trades on the stock exchange. The ability for anyone to write any style of entertainment is just one database away.

With the invention of the gene splitter Crispr, AI will be able to pool all human variations into a massive database so parents can pick any child they want. Who wants a Donald Trump lookalike? How about triplets that are the Kingston Trio?

But then AI will perceive that it is much simpler to have one version of humans; just think how efficient that would be for politics, medicine, and one would need only one football team.

Perhaps it will be less expensive if humans had no need to travel.

Welcome to Matrix.


Ancient Mariner


A few days ago, mariner visited his audiologist. In rural America, visiting the nearest audiologist means driving forty miles. Audiology along with dentistry, optometry and pharmacology are not covered under Medicare – but that’s another issue. The issue today is, upon whom does the fault lie when those who are hard of hearing ask someone to repeat something?
Interesting fact: mariner can listen to Jane Pauley on ‘Sunday Morning’ (CBS) without hearing aids! [Isn’t that trumpet introduction wonderful?!] Interesting fact: 99 percent of all other speaking people require mariner to wear hearing aids to understand them and with 60 percent of those folks, no hearing aid in the world would help.
Yet society promotes the judgment that the hearing disabled are dysfunctional, old, demented, crippled and generally useless. The hearing disabled cannot think, see, drive or order from a menu; socially, they are useless – a person can say something to them and all they can say is “What?”.
Mariner cannot deny the elements of aging, but the communication failure does not lie with the hard-of-hearing. Otherwise, how could mariner ever understand Jane Pauley without hearing aids? The issue at hand is not hearing but speaking.
One of mariner’s oldest examples:
Someone says “ōwee”. Even the hearing might ask, “What?”. The person repeats with mild disdain and says more specifically, “kōwee”. Being argumentative, mariner would ask again and ask that it be said more slowly. Obviously irritated and judgmental, the person says loudly, “SKOEET”. Given the typical brain pause of the hard-of-hearing, mariner deduces the English words: “Let’s go eat”. Skoeet means Let’s go eat!
Try again: “jeetjet?”. At this point, an endless list of lazy, unexhaled, tongue-in-place-of lips or teeth, whispering volume and disappearing predicate clauses can be had. Just a few:
Prolly, ancha, peshly, ombich, iite, and endless more slurring examples of two and especially three words compressed into one rolling noise. There are a few noticeable patterns:
When grinning, most consonants stay in the mouth and never make it to the teeth or lips. Lip reading is useless when people are grinning.
Very frequently people do not take a breath at the beginning of a sentence. This leads to very soft enunciation and the disappearance of audible volume altogether by the end of the sentence. Very soft voices do not even use the diaphragm. Mariner remembers a woman that was angry and started by shouting “I TOLD HER that I didn’t want this . . . inaudible.
We want to talk as quickly as we are thinking by using a rhythm to talk rather than using rules of enunciation. Unlike Jane, who gives each word and syllable its independent time and space, most of us use dominant vowels as a beat – the rest of the word be damned. Spaces between words are a waste of time and require added discipline. A different type of rhythm counterpoint to Jane’s speaking rhythm can be heard by listening to a field reporter recounting a news item; articulation may be passable but zero time between words would make any listener stop to separate the syllables.
To make matters quite a bit more difficult for the hard-of-hearing, people will turn away while speaking, or ramble on while they go into another room or talk while the television is on but the worst is when two people talk at the same time. This is more frequent than one would think – even normal hearing people have trouble in this situation.
So the point is the old one from the Bible: “Caste the mote from thine own mouth before judging others.” Mariner knows he has a disability but it does not deserve casdnashn.

Ancient Mariner

On Living Alone

In recent weeks mariner has been living alone, a solitary human, a shut-in. During the holiday season his wife has been off visiting their far-flung children for weeks at a time. This is an opportunity for mariner to study the circumstances that confront those who live alone – especially late in life.

It is true that being alone induces depression. It is true that electronic entertainment does not require a conscious, focused brain. It is true that mental and physical disabilities inevitably affect brain function.

To oversimplify, there is an immense force that pushes down on a person living in solitude; gumption quickly will disappear, the energy and eventually the ability to focus on existential experiences is drained from the body. The recliner, television and simple meals become 24 hour diversions. An individual must be able to resist this downward pressure. Survival depends on two things: staying busy in some manner, whether simple chores, hobby interests or leaving the house. The second thing is social interaction. Being old and infirm makes it doubly hard to engage in these activities but the alternative is a quietly dying brain and increased immobility.

Some activities that mariner pursued:

֎ Catch the daily news headlines then turn off the television until evening. Set the smartphone aside. Dress for the weather and go outside. Walk. Arrange visits with neighbors. Lounge in a diner where other loners gather. Tend the gardens. Schedule medical appointments. Even better, find ways to help others. This will be hard to do at first – stick with it.

֎ Make it a point to have several hobbies that pass time each day: Read, engage in hand crafts, write a daily diary, try a new recipe, clear out years of junk in storage areas, go shopping for a new hat. Paint something; artwork or walls – it doesn’t matter. Buy a new piece of furniture.

֎ Remember the euphemism “job jar”? It is an endless collection of things that need to be done but, in fact, would never get done. Living in solitude is a great time to drain the job jar. Making a list helps with getting started. Be careful of listing major, complicated jobs – stay focused on day-to-day tasks.

The hard part is to ‘get up and do it!’ Along with sitting in the recliner, one can muse about doing something – maybe tomorrow. . . a false sense of accomplishment.

If one is able to generate the activity mentioned, they genuinely will be tired at the end of the day and they will have exercised mind and body – and they will avoid the immense force that otherwise would diminish their life.

The above lists seem to imply high energy and achievement but that is not the case. The pace is leisurely but steady; the trick is to do things that require the mind to keep up with what you are doing.

֎ But there is a more important activity. Humans are a tribal species. Many sociological studies have shown that humans are an extended family creature. Modern economics has created the nuclear family – husband, wife, and a few children. This is not the normal or, frankly, the subconsciously desired life. If one is fortunate enough to have an extended family close by, take every opportunity to participate in family activities. This responsibility extends beyond the person living alone to every member of the family.

Mariner can speak from experience. Until he was nine years old, he had many aunts, uncles and cousins on both sides of his family. The maternal side was a twenty-minute walk away and the fraternal side was a half-hour away by commuter train! Virtually every holiday included some kind of gathering and birthdays were big parties. Fate took a turn in his life; suddenly he had only a grandmother, father and little brother. He still misses the big gatherings!

It may be necessary to manufacture a family. Churches often have social clubs for older folks; restaurants often are a gathering place; public service agencies have special events for solitary residents; those who live in multiple family housing often form unofficial clusters for company.

The infirm can’t always participate. A healthy community will have ways to draw the infirm into social activity. In other words, extended family works both ways: try to bring the whole tribe together. If an individual can’t come to you, take the family to them.

It is inevitable that everyone dies. But as individuals live past genetically influenced lifespans, they must consciously and deliberately take countermeasures to offset both physical and mental degradation.

The wife returns tomorrow.

Ancient Mariner


Social Spirit

As mariner peruses his news sources, he notices a singular frame of reference. Below are the titles and summaries of just a few frequent topics:

America’s Adult Education System Is Broken. Experts say that more money is critical to improving the national system.

A Water War Is Brewing Over the Dwindling Colorado River. Diminished by climate change and overuse, the river can no longer provide the water states try to take from it.

Shadow Diplomats Have Posed a Threat for Decades. The World’s Governments Looked the Other Way. The U.S. State Department trusts foreign governments to nominate reputable honorary consuls, despite global accounts of wrongdoing.

Porn, Piracy, Fraud: What Lurks Inside Google’s Black Box Ad Empire. Google’s ad business hides nearly all publishers it works with and where billions of ad dollars flow. We uncovered a network containing manga piracy, porn, fraud and disinformation.

Salmon People: A Native Fishing Family’s Fight to Preserve a Way of Life. This documentary film features the plight of the salmon of the Columbia River and the Native people whose lives revolve around them.

This School District Is Ground Zero for Harsh Discipline of Native Students in New Mexico. In Gallup-McKinley County Schools, wearing the wrong color shirt can get you written up for “gang-related activity.”

A Texas Superintendent Ordered School Librarians to Remove LGBTQ Books. Now the Federal Government Is Investigating.

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has opened what appears to be the first-of-its-kind investigation into the Granbury Independent School District.

  • – –

The common theme seems to be social fragmentation. A recent post to this blog referenced four zones of awareness which require different information and ethical systems to be in place [intimate, interactive, recognition and inactive]. The inactive zone is that part of our awareness where we depend on cultural values provided by society at large. All the articles cited above imply some form of disruption to cultural values that we depend on for ethical structure in our society.

This list is one of many kinds of issues that face us in these turbulent days. The point is that many of society’s problems today can’t be fixed with mechanical or procedural change – it is a matter of social spirit.

Ancient Mariner

For What it’s Worth

There isn’t much further to be offered by mariner. The entire world is in a state of upheaval not seen by planet, man or beast for the last 300,000 years. There are none among us who can foresee the future reconciliation of the turmoil. There are none among us with the strength and wisdom to command the tiller of history.

Overly truncated, he will share a few random thoughts that linger.

֎ To reduce the faith Jesus proposed to one observation, He said what matters to you for your own wellbeing is irrelevant. All that matters is what you do for the wellbeing of others – only in this act will you know the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus knew in his heart, however, that humans were simply over-intelligent chimpanzees so he offered forgiveness to provide time for humans to discover how Christianity worked. He was overly kind – perhaps a weakness in His doctrine.

֎ If, If democracy continues to clatter along for the next two years, only the option to run Biden again will avoid the collapse of Federal relevance. Both parties are in frightful disarray. In a time when the economy is a critical factor, a collapsed Congress led by a zealot, red or blue, will be useless.

֎ The only solution that avoids oligarchy and authoritarianism is to turn the tax structure upside down. Where is FDR?

֎ The world is headed toward corporatism. Super-sized corporations will assume control of many government functions; for example, capitalizing the health industry. The backbone of policy will no longer be driven by nations but by the internet.

֎ It is a personal fear that mankind will not survive global warming. Social collapse will occur. An example from history is the fall of the Roman Empire.

Will there be a global ‘dark age’?

֎ The one sustaining force that may sustain humanity for a coming communistic age is family unity. Not the nuclear family – a victim of technology and automation – but geographically bound multi-generational families that can muster a meager GDP for themselves. Was Jesus right?

But hang in there to witness a polar magnetic reversal, a Solar storm and, if you live long enough, a major ice age – all within the next 200,000 years.

Ancient Mariner

On Morality – 2

The human plight of fragmented reality is the same circumstance as a severely tangled 100 foot extension cord. ”Is this really just one cord?” and “Finally, I found both ends but the cord reaches only 11 feet.” To solve fragmented reality, the entanglement must be addressed one tangle at a time and starting at the beginning of the extension cord.

In his book Mark Boyle forces himself to abandon money and industrial inventions. He was looking for the beginning of the cord – just him and Mother Nature. Mariner repeats Boyle’s description of a shift in his reality:

“. . . surprisingly, over time I found my reasons slowly change. They now have less to do with saving the world, and much more to do with savoring the world. The world needs savoring.”

An event that triggered his angst about reality today was a change in the Oxford Junior Dictionary, 2007 edition. The current publication deleted the following list of words:

Acorn, alder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture and willow.

In their place the dictionary added:

Attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player and voicemail.

This action by the dictionary seemed contemporary and pragmatic but also troubled Boyle. Part of his preparation for living without the Internet was to stop googling modern dictionaries. Instead he obtained an ‘every word ever spoken’ dictionary published in 1785. He claims his understanding of words and the size of his vocabulary has improved. The speed of communication was dictating the speed of change rather than the existential experiences that normally modify reality. All the words deleted from the junior dictionary still exist and have contemporary meaning.

The ‘hurry up do it this way’ impact of machines, computers and communications is well documented. Mark Boyle’s key to successfully adjusting reality/morality is to slow down – really, really slow down; slow down more! To this purpose Boyle committed himself to writing his book longhand with a pencil. He discovered that his bad handwriting improved when he made himself write slowly – writing fast (like a computer) was the cause of his terrible handwriting. Citing mariner’s metaphor, Mark was untangling his extension cord, one tangle at a time.

Very few people have the opportunity or the motivation to live Boyle’s three-year adjustment to improve his perception of reality. There must be another way to examine and adjust one’s own reality.

Giving thought to untangling tangles, a suggestion from a psychologist’s treatise about the self [sorry but the name is long forgotten] suggested that there are four zones of emotional awareness: (1) within one and a half feet around the body is called the ‘intimate’ zone. (2) within ten feet is the ‘interactive’ zone. (3) within 30 feet is the ‘recognition’ zone and (4) beyond 30 feet to infinity is the ‘inactive’ zone. These distances aren’t for detailed mapping but suggest a change in emotional expectation. For example, three situations mariner used in the last post, McDonalds, supermarket and smartphone all occur in the interactive zone. Boyle’s three-year experiment was an attempt to reorder his intimate and interactive realities.

At the time he read the treatise, mariner would test it by seeing a co-worker or friend coming toward him. When they were beyond the recognition zone, say 40 feet, mariner would shout out a greeting by name. It was amazing how many were caught off guard and did not know how to respond until they were closer. Another test was when, in a normal conversation, he stood within the intimate zone of the person. It was obvious that the person was uncomfortable.

Society’s tangles are caused when one is expected to respond within various zones with information or actions that don’t belong in those zones. A classic example is when an individual is exposed to a situation that alters the reality of their recognition zone but should remain in their inactive zone – perhaps Donald saying the election was rigged without proving it. Being in the wrong zone disturbs the subconscious which has license to adjust reality even under false pretenses – hence the formation of a tangle.

Confusing emotional awareness for ulterior, unrecognized motives is the great sin of the Internet. The subconscious doesn’t need actual facts to adjust reality. Therefore not wearing masks in a pandemic because irrelevant information about government takeover and personalized inferences like voter fraud are combined and target the interactive mind– that is, information that belongs in one zone pops up in the wrong zone. If new information causes alarm, verify it based on the reality and morality of more intimate zones.

Repair does indeed require slowing down. Slow down to the point that the first zone, intimacy, is in order. Use the morality of the intimate zone to measure the morality of experiences in the interactive zone. Use the reality of intimacy and interactive morality to measure the value of the recognition zone. Finally use the proven morality of the first three zones to consider the importance and verity of the inactive zone. Much slower than letting Google give you the answer in one second. Being exposed to hate mail when your interactive reality says there’s no reason to hate is just one example.

There is another expression that fits this process: Lead with your heart.


Ancient Mariner

5G and Me

This post is written by a professional, published writer – mariner’s wife. The post is a true tale. Enjoy the quality.

– – – –

Where to begin?  I suppose I should begin with the letter I got from Verizon stating that due to new 5G technology that would be sweeping the nation, my old flip phone would not work after December 31st, 2022.  It behooved me to get a new cell phone that would be able to keep up with the pace of technology or I would be left stranded in the 21st century.  Or more accurately I would be stranded  in the 20th century– that ancient time when phones were plugged into the wall and phone booths  were on every other corner.

I don’t remember any problems with phones in the 20th century.  You either had one or you didn’t.   If it didn’t work Ma Bell would replace it.  Long distance calls were expensive, but that didn’t matter because you didn’t make them except for emergencies.  It was an easier time to live, but we didn’t know that then.

I was in no hurry to replace my phone, because I was on the fence about getting a smart phone since I had to upgrade anyway.  My husband, on the other hand, knew that he did not want a smart phone, and his old flip phone had died.  So together we went to the Verizon store to see what his options were.  They were two:  an $80 flip phone, or a rugged, heavy duty $260 flip phone.  He chose the $80 model.  I asked if this would affect our Verizon plan.  “No.”  The phone will be $80 and nothing else will change?  “That is correct, nothing else will change.”   Will we be charged a set up fee?  “We do not charge a set up fee, but Verizon charges $35 which will be a one time fee on your next bill.”   This seemed to be a straightforward transaction but it took some time to complete because my husband had 260 contacts on his old phone.  He paid the $80 and I signed the receipt as the Verizon bill was in my name.  I did not read the fine print.  I don’t think there was any fine print.

We were pleased with the service and the new phone.  However, the next day–the very next day–the phone did not work.  The screen was white.  I googled ‘white screen’ to see if we could troubleshoot the phone and what came up was “White Screen of Death.”   That did not sound promising.   Then we got an email from Verizon.  “Thank you for your recent order.  Here is your receipt.”  On the receipt I saw that we had paid $70 for the phone and were financing the final $10 at .23 cents a month for 36 months.   In addition there was a $14.99 a month charge for phone protection.   Phone protection?  At that price for a phone that was only $80 to replace?  It sounded like mafia protection to me.  Suddenly that pleasant straightforward transaction seemed kind of sleazy and we just wanted out of the deal.  Especially since the phone did not work.

I took the phone back to the store.  We wanted our money back.  We wanted the $14.99 a month removed from our bill.  All of that was fine with the store, but there would be a $35 restocking fee since it was our choice to return the phone.  “But it doesn’t work..”  Never mind about that, they would replace the phone for free, but if we wanted to return it, there was that restocking fee.  I decided it made more sense to get the new phone and hope it worked longer than one day.

They removed the $14.99 a month but when I got home with the new phone, Verizon thanked me again and $14.99 a month was on the new receipt.   What I don’t know is if Verizon will charge me for the set up fee twice–once for the phone that worked one day, and once for the new phone.  I called the store and asked to remove the new $14.99 a month protection and a possible second set up fee and of course they agreed to do that.  By the time I get the bill,  no one will remember any of this and Verizon probably hopes that it will just slip through the very deep cracks in my senior brain.

This should be the end of the story.  But there is a part two.  I called my friend, who I will call Mary to protect her identity, to talk about my frustration with Verizon.  She uses U.S. Cellular and had a similar experience of things being added to her bill, although in her case she knew what she was signing for.  There just seemed to be no end to the add on charges.

Her husband, however, had a tracfone and he had just bought $100 worth of new minutes–only to find out through me that 3G technology would not work after the end of 2022.  He called tracfone and they sent him a new 4G tracfone for FREE.  However, the new phone would not accept the minutes he had just bought.   So now he had two phones and 100 minutes that he could not use.  He could not go to the tracfone store because there wasn’t one.  The only customer service was online or by phone and he couldn’t get through for two days.

The next time I heard from Mary it was with this email:

“So now we have two phones, the old 3G and the new 4G, both with the SAME phone number and both with the SAME tracfone minutes!  Verizon service can’t decide which one to make a call or receive calls from.  Sometimes one rings or answers and sometimes the other.  Or nothing rings and the call goes to voice mail but you can answer during the voice mail and talk.  It is madness!!   He’s going to call tracfone again tomorrow but I say just forget them both and go to U.S. Cellular and get a new flip 4G with a NEW number.  I have a gun and I am ready to use it–twice!  Ha!”

I replied wishing her good luck, and as I sent my email–I got a pop up ad that took up the whole of my computer screen.  It was offering me a great deal on a new tracfone.

In the midst of all this, I haven’t even mentioned that we don’t get cell service in our house.  We have to go out on the porch to get or send calls.   Verizon’s nationwide service does not cover our living room,  but due to supply chain issues in the cellphone industry and rising costs due to inflation, our bill will be going up $12.99 a month starting in October, even without a protection plan.

I have decided to wait as long as I can before replacing my old 3G flip phone.  When the time comes that I have to hang up my old phone, I plan to get another plain black flip phone that will take me into the future as far as I can see.   I have decided not to get a smart phone.  They are too smart for me.

I am beginning to miss those phone booths on every other corner.

– – – –

Mariner here again. Did you notice that she received an ad for a tracfone – a term she had used only in her email? Mind your private affairs, readers; a bunch of folks are eavesdropping your email.

Ancient Mariner

Mother Earth is calling in the big gun

Has the reader ever heard of CMEs? CME stands for Coronal Mass Ejections. This is an event that occurs on the Sun. Most folks are familiar with sunspots as a phenomenon. Sorry to mix metaphors but sunspots are like big blisters that eventually pop and spray massive amounts of energy. Each sunspot is larger than planet Earth and can be as big as Jupiter.

When a sunspot bursts, the radiation escapes the Sun’s gravity and travels across the Solar System. The reader may recall a small CME disturbance last March when the northern skies were alive with an impressive display of Aurora Borealis; the display was caused by a CME that had minor interference with Earth’s magnetosphere – although southern Africa did have a momentary blackout of its electric utility grid.

Statistically speaking, a major hit by a CME occurs every 150 years or so. The last one occurred 150 years ago . . . The only electric grid back then was the telegraph. It took a few weeks to repair the grid.

Today, the entire world is wrapped in electrical grids. Consider local utility grids, corporate network grids, telephone grids, satellite grids and Internet grids. Where it took only weeks to restore the old telegraph grid, it may take several months to repair today’s grid laden world.

This statistic has not gone unnoticed by Mother Earth so add CME to climate change.

Have a fun Labor Day!

Ancient Mariner

The new law firm takes over

In a recent post, mariner used a metaphor suggesting that Mother Nature was taking over the issue of disarray in the human world. Here is an example of Mother Nature taking charge of economy, agriculture and civilian priorities:

AXIOS – “The heat wave roasting China is setting records for its reach, with an area equivalent to California, Texas and Colorado experiencing high temperatures exceeding 104°F.

Why it matters: At 71 straight days, the heat wave and drought have no parallel in modern record-keeping in China or around the world, Axios Generate co-author Andrew Freedman reports.

More than 260 weather stations saw their highest-ever temperatures during the long-running heat wave, according to state media reports.

The severe drought has throttled back China’s hydropower production, leading the government to cut power to key industrial hubs.”

So it isn’t only Europe, the United States and the Middle East having their toes put to the fire, it includes China and Southern Asian nations as well. The use of heat, storms, flooding, shifting weather patterns and drought are Mother Earth’s legal documents ordering humans to cease and desist. Fresh water is increasingly scarce; worldwide, industry and agriculture are suffering economically.

We have only begun to see disruptions to housing markets and other fiscal practices. It won’t be long before nations of the world have to stop profiteering and fighting wars in order to commit resources to Mother Nature’s style of reform.

Ancient Mariner