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


It’s a New World

While the western world has survived the beginning of the twenty-first century more or less intact, getting organized for the rest of the century makes it seem as if the destruction of the Middle East is more descriptive.

Hopefully, Guru envisions a burst of energy, jobs and economy as the whole world responds to climate change, repairing infrastructure and shifting world economies in a way that will stave off international disruption through abuse of the Internet and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the global imbalance between the wealthy and the starving.

These tasks all are international and the wringing of hands and claims of the apocalypse will be part of the experience. It will be like training one’s wayward feet to fit into a new pair of shoes – if not painful at least uncomfortable.

Nations and their resources, unfortunately, do not drive the schedule of recovery. Every issue is at a critical stage such that avoiding catastrophe is the order of the day rather than casually planning new ideas with time to perfect them.

For the sake of brevity, mariner will describe only one issue – the one issue that ignores politics, economies and cultures; it is the most disruptive of the several critical issues: Climate Change.

We should be thankful that the pandemic has given the world practice at dealing with worldwide apolitical issues. Like the pandemic, climate change is no longer an issue of local environmental regulation and politics. It has become a global condition, an instability at the core of an environment that sustains all life. It is difficult to get excited about climate change because it is so slow in the manner by which it changes the environment. Mariner compares it to how sloping shoulders develop over decades of aging, one day at a time, one tiny increment of spine curvature each day. Then suddenly there is back pain and limitations of flexibility. The world already feels the pain of climate change.

Flooding of low lying land around the world already has become a crisis in many parts of the world: 11 million people in Bangladesh have lost two years of crops as the tides invade and stay longer each season; many populated islands around the world will disappear in this century; six large key cities in the United State will be overrun by rising seas – Miami already has in place city-wide pumping stations and drains to accommodate high tides.

Rising seas are caused by a warming atmosphere that melts the polar ice reserve. Being unusually warm, the atmosphere has extra energy for storms and, globally, the jet streams are shifting enough to begin changing agriculture on all the continents.

The following paragraph is a report from Forbes magazine:

“By 2050, sea-level rise will push average annual coastal floods higher than land now home to 300 million people, according to a study published in Nature Communications. High tides could permanently rise above land occupied by over 150 million people, including 30 million in China. Without advanced coastal defense and planning, populations in these areas may face permanent flooding within 30 years.”

The entire report is worth reading and has maps of where US cities will be flooded. See:


Storms get stronger

Data: NOAA. Graphic: Reuters

With climate change, hurricanes overall are moving more slowly, meaning they can linger for longer over land, causing more damage. —Reuters

The temperature, as a daily personal experience, will be much warmer. In the United States the entire sweep of Gulf States will become very hot with frequent temperatures over 100°. Not only will agriculture be forced to relocate, so will the people. This means that hinterland cities will receive large migrations of people and jobs moving north. Retiring to the southern shores will no longer be a pleasant fantasy.

So Climate Change is a serious, immediate issue that will notably change weather, geography, agriculture, population centers and a reordering of governmental functions and responsibilities – and each citizen because the changes will be quite personal.

Mariner agrees that the confrontation is serious, perhaps greater than all the wars in US history. But. It is a new time to unify and tackle a big problem together. The world must succeed. Mariner is reminded of Rosie the riveter. Let’s wind up our sleeves, get beyond petty politics and personal agendas and get on with it.

Ancient Mariner

What do You Believe?

That is not an easy question to answer today. There are no clear hints about what is absolute or true or real. It used to be easier way back in the very old days. For example, if you lived 75,000 years ago, the only source of belief was one’s experiences with the natural environment. What was true was simply an anthropomorphic existentialism (Yes, writing about philosophy invokes the use of philosophical words – which is why novels dominate the retail book market). What ‘anthropomorphic existentialism’ means is that nature had its motives and you had yours. The interaction with nature was not always predictable; after all, nature thought for itself just like you did.

Interestingly, anthropomorphic existentialism easily lends itself to a way to measure whether you are a successful thing or not by the way nature, an uncontrollable power, treats you. This method of measuring success still exists in today’s world. Just one example among many, it is how monetized religion works today – if you give enough money to the television evangelist, you will be rewarded in kind by God (AKA nature). Speaking cynically, this con was developed by religious middle men from the beginning. Remember having to pay the church so your family could get out of purgatory? How about sacrificing your child in exchange for a good rainy season (AKA nature)? Given this perspective, it is understandable why military leaders pray to a supreme influence before going into battle.

Given some thought about it, one realizes the tit-for-tat relationship that even today requires some sacrifice or commitment on our part before a deal can be made. If Nature (God) is to be served today, what is our modern tit-for-tat? Is it global deforestation or contaminating air and water? Just food for thought; that’s what philosophy is good for.

Jumping forward a lot of years, humans learned enough about nature to define how nature thinks differently than we do. Nature says all living things are created and survive according to the rules of evolution – nature’s measure whether you behave well or not and deserve a tit-for-tat. Our species will thrive and be successful simply by following nature’s evolutionary playbook. Unfortunately, this is hard for us to do.

After 90 million years of evolving the hominin branch of living things, one hominin, Homo sapiens (us), began to do well using an extra amount of intelligence. We figured out a way to consume nature without participating in a tit-for-tat. In other words, instead of surviving like other life, which is living in balance with nature’s rulebook, we figured out a way to make a profit from nature without the balance part.

Nature is not petty or judgmental. The evolution rulebook was written in the very beginning; astrophysicists named the event ‘the big bang’ – the beginning of nature itself. So nature lets our existentialism play out. That means sooner or later, nature will claim its tit-for-tat.

So maybe anthropomorphic existentialism is the right belief. Functionally, what’s the difference between one child sacrificed and civilization sacrificed, functionally speaking. Quite like a reverse mortgage, don’t you think?

Ancient Mariner


Tiny Tidbits

֎ When oldtimers use the stairs, keep a hand floating along the bannister in case that trick knee jumps out or a slipper catches the stair. It is important, though, to use the legs to carry ALL the effort of ascending or descending – the more the bannister is used to disburse strain, the sooner the sense of balance is lost due to small leg muscles never having to balance under stress.

֎ The last environmentally balanced human species was Homo erectus who had mastered fire and stone tools. H. erectus, along with other hominins Neanderthal and Dennisovan, lived for two million years until 110 thousand years ago. H. sapiens, a trashier version, has existed only for 110,000 years but is not in balance with the environment.

֎ Mayo Clinic says the best treatment for insomnia is sunlight. Pills, it seems, aren’t very effective unless sleep is induced by nefarious narcotic means. Even on cloudy or cold days, go outside and stay there for a couple of hours. In cold weather, of course, dress accordingly.

֎ Speaking of human origins, the Australian aborigines moved to Australia 80,000 years ago and developed a characteristic of small, family-based tribes rather than assimilating into nations or empires. Today, aborigines are 3.8 percent of the Australian population.

֎ When using cast iron cooking pans or pots, make sure they have been seasoned at some point in a high temperature oven. Ask Alton Brown how to season iron. When washing, do not use soap. Use very hot running water and a putty knife or other stiff, straight blade, finishing with a vegetable brush. It is important to remove all recent oils and fats. When clean to the eye, wipe dry with paper towels or dry rags; sheen still should be visible. This method preserves the seasoning process and reduces sticking.

֎ Wasn’t it exciting to see Jupiter and Saturn in syzygy? Does the reader know that when the largest planets line up it affects Earth’s declination? When Jupiter talks the solar system listens because Jupiter is 14 percent of the planetary mass; add in Saturn and something is bound to happen. Every once in a while (this happened recently) Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus and the Moon get in a line. When this happens, Earth’s declination is changed just a tiny bit. Humans won’t notice the change right away because it is a 96,000 year cycle combined with Earth’s wobble and the relationship of gases in the atmosphere – carbon being the main one. Long story short – Earth is headed for a major ice age in about 5,000 years. Ice ages last for about 150-200,000 years.

Ancient Mariner

It’s that easy time of night

The title is a quote from long, long ago when the local television station opened its late night movie show. For many viewers it was a successful ploy to sit back, relax, put the day behind them and get comfy – both physically and emotionally.

Mariner has discovered the same experience in a television series found on NETFLIX. It is called “The Repair Shop”, a show made in England. It is a simple show that has customers come to the shop to drop off family heirlooms that are in the worst possible shape. Specialists are available covering all sorts of skills such as woodwork, leather, porcelain, clocks, paintings, stained glass, even teddy bears and fire engines.

The tone of the program is focused on a no hurry attitude, is set in a romantic setting of old thatched workshops, has a crew that is oblivious to any amount of detail required, and a soft-voiced narrator.

There is no way mariner can express the expertise of these craftsmen. Nor is there any way he can express their eagerness to engage in immense, tedious detail with the patience of the gods. Anxiousness is not known to these craftsmen because they glory in detail. Time is irrelevant, as well.

It is a perfect escape television show. These craftsmen have never experienced the tumultuous, angry, pressure-laden world the rest of us must endure. They haven’t been tarnished by politics, economy, or the stress of family life. They are perfectly content in a world of extreme detail and patience. – two behaviors the rest of us have no time for.

Mariner highly recommends “The Repair Shop” as an escape from dreary times. After all, it’s that easy time of night.

Ancient Mariner

The Ethical Divide

Watching the news today is not pleasant. It is wearing as a virulent war wages across civilization, as political collaboration collapses into populist and plutocratic conflict, as millions of families experience layoff, job loss, mortgage foreclosure and eviction. If it isn’t the virus, it is stagnant racial conflict, it is the collapse of European democracy into authoritarian abuse, it is the elimination of whole societies as wars that should have ended long ago drag on for decades. If not these issues, it is the collapsing educational system, the disrespect for Constitutional government, the incompetence of elected officials who do not understand the path of history as it evolves into an unknown future. And it is the dwindling of global resources that is ignored by eighteenth century economics.

But there is good news. A movement is emerging. The first newsworthy awareness of this movement began in 2017 when José Andrés (full name, José Ramón Andrés Puerta), a famous chef with a chain of restaurants in Spain and the U.S., organized a charity kitchen to feed survivors of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in 2017. He fed hundreds of thousands. In 2019, Andrés repeated his charitable miracle in Marsh Harbor in the Bahamas when Hurricane Dorian devastated those islands. He established World Central Kitchen as a permanent organization that provides aid to victims of natural disasters.

Of course not everyone has the wherewithal to underwrite charity at such a scale but the better news is the hundreds of special efforts emerging to extend support to those in need. The characteristic of this movement is its local, unincorporated approach consisting of local volunteers and independent leaders, who have stepped up not just for hurricanes but for first responders, victims of the virus, job loss, and the generally needy who have no resources because of today’s disruptive world.

A good example is The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church located in Conneaut, Ohio where a female parishioner organized fellow church members to set up a free kitchen on Saturdays to feed the public so they would have food for the weekend.

Lisa Baker, a volunteer with the Food4Life Atlanta Survival Program, said she’s encouraged by the number of people who are volunteering their time to help. “The first couple of days, I kept hitting refresh on our database, and it was kinda scary watching how many volunteers signed up,” she said. “We have more than 900.”

Other examples are endless. It is clear that common citizens of every class, every religion and every community have stepped out of normal life to help others. Mariner’s term for this is ‘pass it forward’ but these compassionate folks are passing it forward in giant doses!

If you want relief from the terrible news broadcast, distract yourself by participating in the one real, valuable and progressive movement – helping today’s economic victims. Contribute cash, better yet jump in – it’s restorative.

Ancient Mariner

Of Politics and Nature

Two topics today. First, Amos offers some observations about the election; second, some observations about the roles of nature on the one hand and mariner on the other.

֎ The campaign between Donald and Joe has strung out far too long but finally has ended. There is a tendency to believe that once Donald is gone, the Federal psyche will return to normal. Alas, this is not the case. Donald has reformed the GOP from the ground up; many elected Congressmen are staunch conservatives and further are social extremists as well. One Congressman even supports QAnon.

Cleaving the head of the GOP (Donald) is more like cleaving the head of Medusa – leaving her many snakes to run off in every direction. It will take at least one and likely two more Federal elections before the GOP has ferreted out the extremists and develops a new legislative base that focuses on the current century.

֎ Mariner is experiencing a micro-example of what cattle ranchers experience in western states where the wolf has been reintroduced to the balance of nature as an apex predator – and protected from human hunting as well.

Mariner’s backyard is an amateur attempt at creating a private, green and pleasant environment that blocks out the fact that he lives in the midst of three used car lots each with massive concrete slabs a helicopter can land on and huge multi-port garages. [The reader may recall an earlier post where it was observed that many homes in his town have too many vehicles to park off the street therefore forcing the extra cars to park at the curb. Blame the abundance of vehicles on U.S housing and wage policies that force grown children to live with their parents because they can’t afford their own residence. The inconvenience is that if cars park at the curb, the streets are too narrow for 2-way traffic.] Homeowners have abandoned the attached garage model and have sacrificed their backyards to something akin to a truck depot.

Mariner apologizes for rambling. Back to his amateur garden.

An abundance of damage to expensive plants and a voracious consumer of the vegetable garden, rabbits are unwanted in mariner’s garden. They are wanted dead, not alive. In recent years he and his neighbor never kill less than a dozen rabbits per year on the property – an oasis amid endless concrete slabs. Helping the mariner with his anti-rabbit campaign are two or three stray cats that do their share of finding and eliminating rabbits. Within mariner’s garden, cats are an apex predator.

However, like the cattle rancher who understands the role of the wolf in nature but doesn’t appreciate the loss of cattle, mariner must respect the cats for their role but the cats do not limit themselves to rabbits. All the small rodent-like creatures are prey as well and, alas, so are birds.

Mariner prides himself on offering a pleasurable environment and bounty to birds, squirrels and selected insects. He maintains two birdbaths in his gardens. Until recently it was not uncommon to see whole flocks of sparrows and finches sitting around the entire perimeter of the birdbath. Higher class birds like doves, cardinals, crows and jays are regular visitors. The Monarch is afforded a row of milkweed. Is this not the Garden of Eden?

Unfortunately, yes. Nature keeps things rolling by allowing oversight by many kinds of predators – except for H. sapiens, who has become a problem just like mariner’s rabbits.

One of the cats has learned to sit by one of the birdbaths. The cat hides under an adjacent Baptisia shrub. When a bird lands on the birdbath the cat leaps faster than the eye can follow to catch the bird. Birds aren’t stupid. They don’t visit this ol’ watering hole anymore.

While this doesn’t cost mariner income, it puts his sense of justice into a dilemma. His feelings are contested just as those of the cattle farmer. There is a difference in scale, of course, but not sympathy. Mother Nature is tough.

Ancient Mariner


Must-have Knowledge for the Twenty-first Century

Mariner hasn’t written a post recently that goes beyond commentary. Today, he feels the need to provide an educational assist that is absolutely critical to the future happiness of human beings. Three recent documentaries have focused on the issue of instant world-wide information about anything and everything – including every individual’s social and behavioral profile – and more importantly, how that individual can be manipulated to control personal decision making.

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to generate new forms of economy and society around the planet, making personal decisions is disappearing from the individual and even from groups of individuals to be replaced by computerized statistical assumptions. AI has the speed and processing power to identify an individual’s likely behavior in any circumstance. Given that power, AI also can manipulate an individual’s seemingly personal decisions.

AI takes advantage of the way the human brain has evolved; how it makes decisions both subconsciously and to a lesser degree, consciously. Understanding the statistical behavior of the relationship between conscious and subconscious thought, AI can take advantage of what humans think is a conscious decision based on factual information when, in fact, that decision is induced by AI influencing subconscious feelings.

Make no mistake; AI already is at work in society. Most stock market trades are made by computers that can continually improve performance without help from humans. Big Data (social media, Google, etc.) already makes billions of dollars by selling an individual’s profile and decision tendencies to private interests.

Fortunately, this unbridled and dangerous phenomenon has become an issue in public, political and educational circles; individual ignorance plus lack of regulation combine to generate an opportunity for a powerful technocracy to control general behavior and political dynamics.

In the past few months three documentaries have been produced that focus directly on this AI issue and the liberties taken by Big Data to infringe on personal privacy, security and democratic (human) authority. Mariner addresses each documentary below. Watch all three, add in a history of psychology and a scientific analysis of the brain and the reader will have knowledge equivalent to a masters degree in behavioral psychology.

 ֎ Hacking the Mind

 Mariner has recommended this documentary in the past. It is a recent production by PBS. A four-part series of one hour shows, it examines – without political bias – how the brain makes decisions. It turns out that virtually all our important decisions, from whether to eat candy or spinach, to what automobile to buy, to choosing a spouse, are first decided subconsciously, thereby provoking a prejudiced decision in the conscious brain.

What is fascinating about subconscious decisions is that no facts are needed. Every decision is the result of a preconditioned, behavioral, biological set of rules where the common denominator is survival of the self. Being aware that the subconscious controls the bias of our existential, real world decisions is important in an AI world that would rather speak to the ‘no fact’ subconscious than to the conscious, reasoning brain. A very clear example of this phenomenon today is the allegiance of Donald Trump’s base in a fashion that disregards existential reasoning. A common street term for subconscious influence is, “My gut tells me . . .”

 ֎ The Social Dilemma


 This is a documentary that shows the methods, techniques and manipulations used by Big Data corporations. The show interviews a half-dozen technicians and managers who have quit their jobs and turned whistleblower because of ethical issues about how the corporations disregard any moral respect for human users and have no regard for social responsibility; the whole theme for Big Data is monetization of human behavior without human permission. It is frightful that many interactive processes have been turned over to computers to manage interaction on their own without human supervision.

An excellent example is seen through a family’s children who have become addicted to their smartphones. The son drops out of his social and school relationships and is drawn into an extremist group’s activity; the daughter suffers serious destruction of self-esteem because she takes literally the negativity that is often tossed about on social networks. An interesting quote from the documentary: “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.”

 ֎ The Great Hack


 This documentary shows how Big Data, without comprehensive regulations, can quite easily set awry the future of entire nations. The show is about one purchaser of data from Facebook who then used it to change public opinion in devious and often untrue ways: Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica purchased voter registration data along with user profiles to target specific individuals with propaganda. Cambridge Analytica was able to influence the Brexit vote in Great Britain and was hired by the 2016 Trump Campaign to spread bad information about anyone opposed to Donald.

– – – –

It remains to be seen how national governments will control Big Data. How does one legislate subconscious influence? How does a legislator avoid destroying concepts about ‘freedom of choice’? How can the genuine advantage of AI power be constrained without throwing away its genuine advantages?

If anything is to change, it is because the electorate watched these documentaries and decided they should make their own decisions about life and not just agree to suggestions by Big Data that have hidden motives.

Ancient Mariner

On Aging

When mariner was very young, he remembers lots of men had a perpetual toothpick in their mouths. No point to be made; just that he remembers – isn’t that enough for an old man?

This post may read like self pity but it is just another pondering from his file on this planet’s biomass. Mariner is provoked, however, to write this post in behalf of his elder friends who sustain their lives in spite of greater challenges than youngsters and society may notice.

But before we start on aging, in a related socio-psychological subject it has been proven economically and socially that breaking down the extended family to a nuclear family has not been a good thing. For the Matrix-sensitive folks, do you think the new isolationist teaching method in schools combined with cloud control of our lives is preparing our species to live in coffins?

– – – –

Back to aging and speaking as an ancient member of Homo sapiens, a branch of the hominid family, mariner is taking science to task – especially the study of anatomy and medicine. Scientists laud their achievements in extending the human life span more than twenty years beyond the norm for hominids. What the scientists forgot was to include normal functionality along with the additional years.

For example: sex. If the reader thinks Jeff Bezos is rich, think how rich the scientist would be who discovered a way for guys over 60 to continue having an active sex life. And dementia – what good is living if a person doesn’t know they’re living? And Parkinson’s, heart disease, arthritis and palsy. How about incontinence and disappearing bone mass? Making hominids live longer without simultaneously extending functionality doesn’t improve anything except more opportunity to be depressed, in pain, isolated and ill.

Old folks’ skin looks like lizard skin because muscles and their inherent potential energy simply are vanishing. Case in point: can mariner still play football? Not.

Anthropologists suggest that evolution cares only about procreation, i.e. sustaining the species. While scientists were extending lifespan, why not extend fecundity? It boils down to this: living longer may avoid facing the end of life for a while but for a majority of folks it is a life of depression, pain, dysfunction, despair and medical bankruptcy. The best to be had simply may be a feeling of irrelevance.

Some youngsters may think old people are useless and in the way – especially when it comes to government support. But the elders are monuments to strength and perseverance despite the meddling of medical science. Let’s see what trouble will be stirred by tinkering with the genome.

Ancient Mariner