web analytics

You may have been wondering, if you followed my blog, “Where did that overly-opinionated guy Mark get to?” (Or, you may have been saying “Thank heavens he’s stopped writing that rant-y blog.”)

Heh-heh. Though I’ve been remiss about blogging on this site (and very remiss about writing the rest of the darn book which title is also the title of this site, and the other book, and the short stories…), I have been far from silent on the various socio-econo-politico-clusterfraks going on in our world. The global economic crisis (which is still happening for most of the 99% at least in some spheres of our lives), the US elections, Brexit and its transatlantic and global implications, inequality, general malfeasance of the elites, and my eclectic perspective of being sort-of-libertarian on some things, raging-socialist on others, and even some traditional-conservative on role-of-government and fiscal policy, while having progressive views on social issues. (That’s because there is more than just a “left-right” political dimension, and even that single x-axis goes out a lot further “left” and “right” than USA-ians believe, and a typical “US liberal” is actually “center-right” by most of the developed and highly-developed developing world.)

Let me (re-)introduce you to my social media public rantspaces:

My Twitter (@mcmxs because those are my initials and I do things to excess. Also because long ago I used Salomon XScream skis.)

My Google+ posts, and if you only want a politics-related subset, my “US Politics” Google Collection. with at present 221 posts in it(!) since starting using that feature a few months ago.

Mark Mercer's Google+ Politics posts collection.

For those of you who are all “I don’t do Twitter”, “I don’t use Google+”, “Don’t make me join something”, “Isn’t Google+ still dead?”, “Nope nope nope they violate all my privacy”FFS they are also Just A Website. You don’t have to “join” to read – which is why my most important commentaries begin on G+ and/or the Tweety-box. Just click the darn link to the story, or go to google.com/+MarkMercer and twitter.com/mcmxs and read away. You can even have adblocking things and privacy tracker blockers with Block All The Things settings, as long as you don’t have them so insane-paranoid set to block Twitter when you are already on twitter.com or block Google when you are already on Google! I like the adblocky-things, I use them, I just linked to a bunch of them, and if you hover over the links you’ll even see a short write-up of exactly what they are and why I like them. But let’s be serious – if you’re on Twitter itself, you kinda-probably want to unblock Twitter for use on Twitter.com itself, mmkay? Same for Facebookistan ant the Googleplex when you’re in such places. Otherwise it’s like you just rented a hotel room and then deliberately threw away your hotel key while you’re outside your room. (more…)

Though I mostly completed “falling off the (northern) hemisphere” a few years ago, I’m still a US citizen, with a lot of ties to the US political and economic system, despite happily being a legal immigrant in Uruguay. From where I vote in US elections, by overseas ballot to the USA, something that unfortunately my Uruguayan friends in the opposite situation cannot do easily or in most cases, at all, if they live outside our little Southern Cone nation. Though I’ve rarely updated this blog (never mind the book manuscript not-very-progressing), I have been prolifically posting on social media, chatting wise, snark-tweeting current US politics (especially the great “reality show” debates in both parties – best drama/comedy on TV!). I’ve still got skin in the game, and an interest in improving the USA.

With that perspective, I hereby submit these “Modest Proposals” for 21 new Constitutional Amendments. I’d love to hear your thoughts on them, alternatives to them, support or horror at them, in the comments here (if you’re a political junkie you already have a Disqus ID, right? On lots of Left, Right, and other sites), or on the shares of this at my +MarkMercer Google+, my @mcmxs Twitter, or my marcoscristofo Facebook. (In that order of preference, for serious responses, but use your fav if you must.)

Likelihood of getting any of these enacted, of course, is damn slim. Just like all the other proposals for amendments over the past umpteen years. Unlike most of those folks, I do not have a “send money to join the crusade” link, nor am I using the abominable Change.org or the even-worse (now-for-profit) cellphone company Credo Action Network, or other meaningless feelgood (and Politics-as-Usual donation-harvesting) sites. (Nor the equally despicable equivalents of the “Right.”) Instead, I hope I can stimulate some thought and discussion. Then, you think about which of these do and don’t make sense to you, and do what you think you should do next.

I will almost guarantee that if you are any kind of “political partisan” of either the US Institutional Left Democrats, or the US Institutional Right Republicans, or of the Tea Party branch of the Right, or the Democratic Socialist Branch of the Left, or the Libertarians out on a totally different axis (don’t think unidimensionally), or a Green on another axis, there are things you will love, and there are things you will hate, in my list. For example, you might love, or hate, that I explicitly enumerate Education as a responsibility of the Federal Government (so much for the GOP’s big Oops and since-Reagan talking point), but if you hate that, you’re probably the type of person who’ll love that I make the right to keep and bear firearms explicitly an individual right that has no connection to any regulated militia. But will hate that in the same Amendment I mandate registration of firearms. While loving that I make permits “must-issue”. If you love my making Healthcare a universal right, you’ll hate something else, like how I restrict a lot of things to US citizens, legal permanent residents, and those in the process of legal permanent residency, rather than to anybody who happens to show up. But you’ll probably then like the mandatory extended early voting.

Which means I did my job, thinking hard about this, after four and a half decades of active voting, longer than that of being politically active (I rang doorbells for Gene McCarthy while in high school.) I’m not “partisan”, I’m passionate about things, I realize there’s no one party nor candidate with all the right answers, and the “other side” isn’t the Devil, just different. And, there whole concept of the “other” side is utterly false anyhow – some ways because they’re the same, other ways because there are a lot more than two “sides”, depending on issue and perspective.

I realize this is “hard”. You have to think, analyze, judge, totally ignore the party labels, slogans, propaganda, and “memes” (dammit those pictures-with-text are NOT MEMES, Dawkins would damn you if he believed in such things, and he created the term!) But keeping a Representative Democracy as the system of government in our Constitutional Federal Republic is hard too. (Please, if you’re one of those “We’re not a democracy, we’re a republic” types, just go away if you can’t learn. We’re both. “It’s not the sky, it’s blue” is what you’re saying when you say that, and yes, you sound just as idiotic. “Direct democracy” is just one type of democracy. And there are plenty of tyrannical republics with no representative governance at all. Learn!)

TL;DR (assuming you already got this far): Universal health and education. Easier private gun ownership but with more training, background checks, and registration. Stop all the Congressional nonsense like the filibuster, “Hastert Rule”, “Thurmond Rule” where bills and nominations can get blocked by a minority. Make marriage any combination of any number of consenting adult men and/or women of any orientation, under basic civil contract and partnership law with nothing special about it. Define “Natural-born Citizen”. Create the “Schwartenegger Amendment” exception. End tax benefits for religions. Corporations are NOT people, my friend. Oh, and I ban all the damn “flag pins” worn by politicians to create overblown patriotism. And mandate the Metric System, right away!

I’ve tried to keep these at the high-level of what should be in a Constitutional Amendment, rather than into the weeds of details that are best left to specific laws enabling said principles.

Ready for the specifics?

Here we go, “Mark’s Prescription for a Better America!” (United States thereof subset, but using “Murica” because, US politics!) (more…)

Are you considering moving to a foreign country? Either fully by choice,  perhaps because you, too, are “falling off” the economy of your home country in the Global North? Looking for your new world?

Hear, hear! That’s pretty much how I got Here, Here!

But you have to make choices about whom to trust. Unless you’re willing to figure out things yourself, even if some things take a bit longer. Many people trust “expat facilitators”, or as I’ve seen it too-aptly named, “fixers”, to handle immigration issues. Immigration issues which you could perhaps manage yourself, do yourself, or at least know enough about what you need to get done, in order not to be scammed by those who may do it for you for a fee.

Uruguay jail, with "Carcel" (Jail) engraved on front of building, pickup truck parked in front. Small white stone building.

A Uruguayan jail. Image from El País Digital

Or you could trust somebody who regularly gets involved in and hangs out at “expat gatherings”, “expat sites”, with your banking. It’s all fun and games until your “fixer” is in jail in Montevideo on charges of embezzlement. (more…)

This site, my too-infrequently updated blog and home for my other writing, has been “off the air” for about two weeks. Mainly because I’ve been too busy to re-host it. I was using a server on a hosting account I didn’t plan to renew. “Didn’t plan” too-soon became “oops I never got around to renewing it.”

Big dog in a small chair.

I was at the computer desk working so long, Señor Whistler el Galgo (greyhound) took over my chair.

I have backups, of course. But I’ve also been doing a lot of exploration of other web hosting and virtual server options, both for client sites, and Lisa’s and my own network of sites. So the backups sat in the cloud, and the site disappeared. However, I was a busy boy on US Labor Day, and now have a Virtual Private Server spun up at Digital Ocean (in fact, I have 4, but this one is for our personal sites and for client shared hosting). It’s still in the European Union, so all that good snarky stuff about non-in-USA-of-NSA still applies. But it moved from Paris to Amsterdam.

I haven’t fine-tuned it, so it may be glitchy and grumpy. Which makes it like its owner, me. But in just a few hours, I went from bare-metal to having a multi-site virtual server on a Linux setup running on solid state disk, while also doing a client site update on another VPS. Pretty cool offering.

So cool, in fact, that I’m giving anybody who wants to try their own Digital Ocean VPS “droplet” hosting a $10 credit with this link: (more…)

I know I’m a hard act to get sometimes.

Is this guy posting about travel, politics, science fiction, science, cultural commentary, social media, web technology, aviation, writing, pop culture, or what?


Yet this week, I finally broke through the 4000 follower threshold I’d been dancing near to, but never crossing, on Google+. (more…)

%d bloggers like this: