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Mark Mercer
Fuzzy Wanderer, Corporatism Critic, Former Corporate Tool. Uruguay Immigrant rather than US Expat.
Fuzzy Wanderer, Corporatism Critic, Former Corporate Tool. Uruguay Immigrant rather than US Expat.


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I'm from dirt-poor mining, farming and factory working Mercers. And British/Scottish working-class stock. <=> Not rich Trump-Big Data Mercers. Sick of being smeared as somehow aligned with or part of the ultra-wealthy Trump- and conservatives-supporting Robert and Rebekah Mercer.

And sick of the delusions of such that thing that it took some "big data" or "foreign interference" to bring about Brexit or Trump.

No, it took neoliberal elitist arrogance. It took ignoring or dismissing the "salt of the earth" people like those I came from only a generation or so back. That's all.

One more unthinking "liberal" internet commenter who writes something like "Oh, where else have I heard the name 'Mercer'?" as a way to undercut my political commentary is getting a virtual shoe thrown at them, and I wouldn't rule out a defamation action. Just because I don't buy the BS that Clinton lost because of "evil Big Data from the Mercers" or "Russians did it" does not mean I am part of your so-called "conspiracy".

Clinton lost, Brexit won, because your "hero" politicians ignored the solid working-class people like those from where my father grew up in the Appalachians. Where my grandfather grew up in the UK. The people from the places where your supposed "good" politicians didn't give a flying flaming fart about in their own smug and out-of-touch "big data" predictions.

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Yet another reason why Bitcoin is both ridiculous and dangerous. <=> It's environmentally dirty and abusive.

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It's horrifying that isolated technocrat Zuckerberg had no idea of communities. <=> While he pushed his "community" everywhere.

From Alexis C. Madrigal's excellent piece at "The Atlantic":

"[quoting Mark Zuckerberg] “The thing that struck me everywhere I went—and I have stories from every state that I visited—was how central communities are to people,” he said."

"You don’t say!"

"This level of naïveté sounds unbelievable until you remember that the only two states of adulthood the man has known are Harvard undergraduate and CEO of a company with unending funding and growth. His childhood was financially comfortable and individualistic in the way wealthy childhoods usually are. Where was he supposed to acquire an understanding of the ways that most places—middle-class, working-class, and poor—hold themselves together?"

So, where we are today, is that most forms of personal communication, and most online forums, have all devolved onto Facebook itself, or onto Facebook-owned services (WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger), all with the singular non-vision of obviously emotionally and experientially stunted Mark Zuckerberg. While nearly every other remaining online venue for discourse has Facebook tracking stuffed into it, even if you never go to Facebook, and yes, you indeed have a "Facebook profile" even if you never joined Facebook.

With Zuckerberg obviously planting seeds for running for office, perhaps starting at President (anything less would be "beneath him" no doubt, especially now that another, less-rich, less-influential CEO and business founder has already opened that door. Or kicked it down.) While, in some ways, Zuckerberg has far less experience of the "real world" than does Donald Trump.

Zuckerberg says he isn't running, but his big tour of America was entirely reminiscent of the classic "listening tours" that Hillary Clinton did when she first ran for Senate in her "home state" in which she had never lived, New York. And which she later did, in small pieces, every time she yet again "reintroduced herself". Since her first run, other politicians and wannabes have aped the same type of "visiting America", and obviously Zuckerberg thinks he belongs at the top.

Even if he doesn't think he personally should be President (hahaha of course he does!), he wants Facebook to be where all "Communities" form, where the world communicates.

Anybody remember the early and mid- primary season in the Democratic Party nominating process in 2015-16? As part of how Hillary Clinton, supposedly non-coordinating PACs, and the DNC worked together to cheat the American people out of a fairly-run Democratic Party primary, Facebook Groups ("communities") supporting Bernie Sanders kept getting shut down by Mark Zuckerberg's Facebook, on spurious allegations of, or planted fake post, of child porn and other abuse. Later it came out, that "Correct the Record", part of David Brock's ShareBlue octopus of Clintonian tentacles, was paying for social media accounts, and had paid "nerd virgins" as he called them, deliberately sabotaging Bernie groups.

Now, for the next election, do we want even more of it controlled via Facebook? Via Mark Zuckerberg, whether or not Mark Zuckerberg is personally in it?

And of course, Facebook can never be anything other than 100% Mark Zuckerberg's current vision. He deliberately rigged the corporate structure and stock voting rights, when it went public, to make it mathematically impossible for any other group of shareholders, even ALL shareholders other than himself, to take control away from him. The Facebook stock you can buy does not have the voting rights power, every share ever issued put together, as does Zuckerberg's special share classes he and his immediate family kept.

So, as is too common with these young(ish) technocrats who have wormed their companies into the very heart of power and communication, nobody can take his power away nor even tell him what to do. No, not even the supposed "Owners of the company" (which includes YOU if you have any kind of 401k or IRA that has an "index fund" in it - Facebook is a huge proportion of every S&P500, Total Market, and Total World Market "index fund").

This, at the core, is far worse than a one-time anomaly like Trump. Trump doesn't control the primary venue of communication today in America and the world. Trump constitutionally can't take over or shut it down. Trump probably can't even stop AT&T / Time Warner from merging while holding on to CNN. Trump owns some buildings, some branding deals on more buildings, rerun rights to a now hilariously unpopular and discredited TV show, and a yuge amount of debt he can't pay.

Zuckerberg owns our minds. Zuckerberg can make Facebook do, say, track, monitor, influence, sell ads or deny ads, mark as "inappropriate" or allow through, whatever the hell he wants.

If you're reading this on Facebook, enjoy the irony. You may notice the post didn't start there. Not that Google is much better, but Google+, as allegedly "empty" as it is, and even with Google's overall tracking, is much less draconian and far less manipulative, than the Facebook "News Feed". And Twitter, that dumpster fire of just-doubled snippets, is also where some of you may have found the first 140 (or 280) characters that brought you here. But unfortunately, if I want to be any kind of "influencer" in any sphere, whether on politics and culture, or on my own tiny business interests, I need to get my posts over onto Zuckerberg's monstrous toy. Because that is where YOU LIVE.

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#PervOfTheHour (too frequent for #PervOfTheDay): Next sexual harasser in the spotlight: <=> Rep. John Conyers.

From the Democrats-friendly liberal-leaning Buzzfeed News:

"Michigan Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat and the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former employee who alleged she was fired because she would not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.”"

"Documents from the complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News include four signed affidavits, three of which are notarized, from former staff members who allege that Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Judiciary Committee, repeatedly made sexual advances to female staff that included requests for sexual favors, contacting and transporting other women with whom they believed Conyers was having affairs, caressing their hands sexually, and rubbing their legs and backs in public."

Note, not that it should matter how many others, one is too many, that four other women signed affidavits of his sexual harassment pattern. So don't even start with defenses of yet another liberal hero with what some of you started with Al Franken, "I'll wait until and unless another woman comes forward." By the way, on Franken, another woman has come forward. But it shouldn't matter, for women to be believed, whether one or many.

As far as the Congress goes, both the House and the Senate, and also future presidential nominees - this is yet another reason why all the old farts (old "warhorses" and "elder statesmen" of the parties), need to go away quietly - and Joe Biden, many of us are looking at you next. But not just you.

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Different specifics, same broad strokes: <=> Reinventing by moving overseas is what Lisa & I did too. Was absolutely the best choice for us in response to multiple hits we took in the financial crisis. Just as it was for Jackie Minchillo, author of this "International Living Postcard" that IL re-published today on their social media.

And despite my good-natured joke of sometimes calling the big international expat publications the "Expat Industrial Complex", I did for sure subscribe to International Living for quite some time. And I still subscribe to their emails, and follow them on social media to keep getting ideas - both for what's next for us, and to help me help others.

Excellent source to learn both the basics of how to do it, and as support from their "Yes, you can do it, and you don't need to be rich" perspective. As well as introductions to countries and regions thereof you might not have considered. Should be one, of several, of your regular sources if you're considering moving out of the USA, or other Global North lands, to a reinvented adventure overseas.

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US folks: Only 25 days left to sign up for 2018 health insurance via the online Marketplace. <=> It may well be free to you, or nearly-so, for the premiums.

This is NOT the "political post about ´Obamacare'" and where I am originally posting it, on my G+, I deliberately did not tag it for my "US Politics" collection. I'll thank all of you in advance for simply NOT commenting, not on this post, if you want to make a political or economics post about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare", or if you are a conservative news outlet fan, styled by all of them as "ObamaCare" in MixedCase, apparently to make the 'Obama' part stand out more.)

This IS the post to let people know that getting basic or maybe even fairly good coverage, is both perhaps more affordable than they thought and than they found last year, and that the time left to do so is far shorter than last year. (But also NOT the post to discuss that shortened timeframe's politics.)

Yes, some of the low-to-zero premium, after tax subsidy (Advanced Premium Tax Credit) policies have rather high deductibles, some as high as a total-family deductible of over $14 thousand dollars. But... that also is your total cap for annual costs, and one mishap or illness could well go over that. So if your monthly premium, personalized to your household income, is going to be so low or zero, why would you NOT get a policy for those "just in case" catastrophic events. And 14K is not "catastrophic", an appendectomy, broken ankle, busted shoulder, or other "minor easily treated incidents" can blow way past that. Also, remember or realize that under an ACA-compliant policy, whether from the Marketplace (Federal or State exchanges, the only way to get the subsidy), or your employer, or privately sold, if it meets the law's requirements, there are many preventative care benefits that do not have any cost, and do not require you to first pay your deductible.

Annual wellness screening. A few "preventative medications", including under which all female birth control medications and devices prescribed for contraception are free. As are a few other both-bio-gender medications. Certain preventative screenings, including those that met the US' official medical recommendations panels' age/history requirements, such as not-annual, but recurring, colonoscopies for people over an age threshold - including covering the prep materials, and removal of polyps if done during the colonoscopy. Mammography if it meets the screening requirements.

Also, some plans have drug copayments that do not require first meeting your overall high deductible, or at least have discounted contracted prices with the network local (likely a Target/CVS, Kroger, Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, or other chain). Even if your plan makes you pay for each medication refill, with a plan you may pay less than as a non-covered customer.

So why would you NOT get a free or low-cost plan, if you are not already covered by an employer-offered plan, or a private plan?

Unless you are looking to make some political point at the expense of your own and your family's health, if your situation and income fall into the coverage range under the ACA, then you are almost certainly getting some value for it. And the argument "It's cheaper to pay the penalty" is utterly illogical because, you or your family might get sick or injured during the next year, none of us have total or even significant control over that, no matter what healthy practices we try to follow. Paying the penalty may be cheaper than paying a year of premiums, but you have NO COVERAGE AT ALL.

And no, you cannot just "join when you get sick", despite badly-informed or deliberately-misleading pundits saying so, because unless you have moved, lost a job, gained or lost a family member, you can NOT join at all except during this now-only-45-day open enrollment period. And that is only for coverage starting in January of the next year. Also no, "You can just go to the emergency room" is not true - not for anything more than being immediately stablilzed from the emergent condition and sent away once "they've stopped the bleeding" or done a temporary splint on the fracture, or gotten your seizure stopped. They do not treat the underlying cause, provide the curative treatment, or the ongoing follow-up or maintenance treatment, in the ER, no matter what those same pundits have told you.

So why leave yourself and your family without the benefit of at least some fairly decent coverage, with a known maximum annual cost no matter how bad the medical event. Why risk bankruptcy for a broken leg's treatment cost? You've got not quite 25 days left to make a smarter decision.

Politics endnote:
I have often, and certainly will again, post on the politics and economics of "Obamacare" vs GOPCare vs single-payer, US vs the rest of the world including the most of it that is universal, is affordable, but is by no means single-payer. If you have posting rights to comment on my public posts, which means anybody with a Google account whether or not I even know you, for where most of mine originate on G*, "Friends of Friends" on Facebook where this auto-copies, and anybody with a Twitter account including even the President (I rarely block on Twitter), where the first 100 or so characters and a link to the full post also auto-copies, have at it - ON THOSE OTHER POSTS. If you do so here on this post in any of those venues, you are in direct violation of my wishes and stated terms of service, which also puts you in direct violation of those services' own terms of service for making an unwanted abusive comment. I may then do anything from ignore, through publicly and savagely ridicule, through disconnect, through block, all the way up to reporting you to the underlying service for terms of service violation. So NOT ON THIS POST, MMKAY?

Sourcing end-note: Linked to the MSN Money Site/App copy of the AP original, for those without subscriptions to any particular AP member newspaper site, who may have already exceeded their monthly allowed paywall punctures. And because I found this story in my Windows 10 Money app, which is one of the better built-in apps in Win10.

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Among many other reasons, folks, this is why we need classical liberal arts education. <=> Not "career training" with a dollars(euros sterling whatever) calculation against future earnings. Our technologists need to have understanding of history, of philosophy, of human nature.

You know who else needs at least a basic grounding in those liberal arts? We The People do - whether we the people of the US electorate, or of Uruguay, or of the (not-so-) United Kingdom, or of the EU, or the developed nations elsewhere, or the developing and emerging market nations. (Including understanding that what has traditionally been called the "liberal arts" has absolutely nothing to do with "liberal vs conservative" politics.) Yet increasingly, distressfully and in my opinion disastrously so back in my home/taxpaying/voting nation USA, we have discarded that as a value. Looking only to "go to college for a career."

Even the much-vaunted STEM careers can be based upon an undergraduate (and before that, middle school and secondary school) curriculum that includes significant exposure to the humanities, philosophy, other languages and cultures, history, economics, political science, art, music, and more - and no, that does not mean it has to go back to being only teaching "Old dead white European males" - though that doesn't mean throwing out that body of knowledge and thought entirely as an overreaction either.

I'm very thankful, as just one of the least important of technologists, that my university education (as oddly spread over many years and three institutions as it was), included liberal arts "distribution requirements" as well as psychology, computer science, and (not the same thing) business-oriented information processing. Also, that my public, non-fancy, regular old middle school and high school offered multiple foreign languages, advanced history courses, art, drama, music, and more, much of which I was able to take at least some classes..

This used to be normal. And before anybody goes US-politics-partisan, all that middle-school and high school education happened in my case, before there ever was a specific US Department of Education and the arguably unconstitutional (for the US federal system of 50 mostly independent states) "federalization" of US education. So please don't go blaming Reagan, any Bush, or Trump for it, nor praising Carter for creating it nor Clinton or Obama for "saving it", because a good education never needed the US federal government to be involved. Maybe it should now, and if so, we have a way to amend the constitution to make it one of the enumerated powers. But we don't need to do that to make a well-balanced education and an informed electorate with informed technology leaders (not just "technically trained") part of US culture.

In nations where education is the central government's responsibility, which is most non-US developed and highly developing nations, such as here in Uruguay where I'm a legal immigrant resident, then that rightly is a national responsibility. But it still most importantly has to become again a national value.

Rather than the context-blinded ahistorical technocracy we have already become, and are in deep danger of making irrevocable, unless we act very soon. The level of government, specific budget, or particular party's program is far less important than we, the peoples of our nations, return to valuing more than just technical knowledge and whatever is the currently hot skillset that supposedly will make the most money.

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Dammit, another OnePlus phone factory spyware app discovered. <=> Ironically, posting on my OnePlus.

Which means I must warn you (and myself) never (again) to buy a OnePlus phone, taking back my longstanding recommendation of them.

My OnePlus is the original OnePlus One model. I bought it May 2015, a half-year after it launched, so mine is now two and a half years old. Also, mine is still running the several times updated, but still original commercial CyanogenOS (the original OS supplier to OnePlus). Until about a year ago, still getting major updates OTA from Cyanogen Inc, which ended when they went out of business.

Cyanogen Inc. was its own type of scummy commercialization of the community-based Cyanogen Mod, and since then failed and went out of business. But at least Cyanogen Inc didn't put in secret spyware. (Well, if you don't count integrating Microsoft Cortana into Android more deeply than the add-on version from Google Play. But that's not a secret, and Cortana is arguably better than Google Assistant.)

However, due to contact disputes, OnePlus and Cyanogen Inc. broke up about the time the OnePlus 2 came out later in 2015, with OnePlus having to quickly create their own self-supported version of Android, OxygenOS for that next and all later OnePlus phones. And apparently, at some point, maybe early on, they loaded it with spyware that "phones home" logs and your private data back to OnePlus in China (and/or to the Chinese government?)

I'd never bothered either to "root" my OnePlus One, nor install OnePlus' own version, OxygenOS, that they later also released for this, their first model. The CyanogenOS features and philosophy of "nearly stock Android experience, but better" was already great. But on and off, I've wondered if I should have switched to OnePlus' own, newer OS that still had customized features for their specific hardware. (Rather than a third party build.) Now I'm glad I didn't. I don't have the spyware but I likely would had I switched.

My OnePlus One is finally getting worn down enough, it's battery not holding a charge well and no good safe replacement batteries made anymore, that within a few months I need to get a new phone. I was considering a new OnePlus, but this kills it. Can't trust the company.

Not because, as the uninformed among some consumers and many US politicians claim, of it being a Chinese company - every smartphone, tablet, and PC, from every company, including US, European, Japanese, Korean, and even Taiwan brands, are made in mainland "Red China" nowadays. But because OnePlus as a company has repeatedly violated customer trust, privacy, and likely at least some national laws. It's not China, it's OnePlus management to blame.

That's a shame. OnePlus was once a disruptive innovator that drove down the cost of quality smartphones, and put near-top-line features and quality out at mid-line pricing. Shame they decided to spy on us.

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Excellent essay on the history, mission, and ongoing need for "The Guardian", by its editor-in-chief Katherine Viner.

The "Graun", as it's affectionately referred to by many of its regulars, is one of the very few "mainstream media" outlets I still fully respect. Yes, it has a political view, to the Left in Britain & Australia, which puts it far to the progressive Left by the right-wing US (Obama and Clinton are center-right or just right-wing by global standards, Sanders is barely center-left.)

But unlike Jeff Bezos' The Washington Post, Telecom mogul Carlos Slim's The New York Times, Disney's ABCNews, Comcast's NBC, Verizon's Yahoo and HuffPo, (and so many more), Warner's (soon to be AT&T's?) CNN, it is both honest about it, and far more responsible in doing actual deep journalism based on facts, rather than on a corporate-political neoliberal agenda. Properly vetting sources, not publishing as news, position papers and PR pieces pushed by the Establishment, willing to speak truth to power rather than collaborate with power in order to have clickworthy "access".

While most US mainstream papers too often seem to be uncritical nonanalytical mouthpieces for a mix of the Democratic National Committee, the Wall Street money-center megabanks, the Military-Industrial Complex, and the overall Corporatocracy - to the extent that those aren't just different names for connected parts of the same non-representative oligopoly of the plutocrats. Substitute the Republican National Committee but otherwise the same overall, if including Rupert Murdoch's Fox News and WSJ/Post/Times of London outlets.

The Guardian, and its sister Sunday paper The Observer (no, not the NY Obsever that Kushner used to run) stand apart from that morass of degraded, once-mostly-legitimate, 'mainstream media'.

As I plan my 2018 budget, The Guardian likely will become one of the very few news outlets I feel is worth paying, by becoming a supporting member. And that, even though they continue rejecting building a paywall. They are sometimes more to the left in their views than eclectic, mixed progressive/libertarian me, but they are always legitimately "Real News" and a now-too-rare exemplar ofvwhat real journalism is supposed to be.

Read this substantive (and lengthy; you do read, don't you?) piece. Then you too perhaps should consider joining in support of good journalism. Or at least adding "The Graun" to your regular daily reads.

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Appears Ms. Ivanka & The Donald were involved with some "bad hombres" in their first non-US deal. <=> Dig!

Much more meat and solid research on this story than on the hyperpartisan "Russian narrative" and "piss dossier" which we now know that Clinton helped fund. That increasingly seems like dirty politics by a sore loser, and anybody rational and evidence-based (actual evidence, not lies of "17 agencies agree) should by now at least start to disbelieve it.

But this - this is some juicy, and documented, Real News. Corruption, and far worse, by Colombians, Ukrainians, Russians, and Panamainians, and at least a "they should have known better and done due diligence" failure by the Trumps. Including Ivanka, whom Donald put in a leading role, on this Trump Ocean Club Panama licensed-brand project to break her into the business.

It's from 10 years ago, before Trump ran, before he even all that seriously (re-)entered politics, so it doesn't speak to the 2016 election. But it may speak to being accessories to money-laundering, fraud, and worse. Though a sitting President is totally immune to being indicted, arrested, prosecuted for any Federal charges, while still President, a White House official advisor has no such impunity from prosecution. Even if the daughter of the President. And, a President has no immunity from U.S. State and local prosecution during his term, and zero pardon power for nonessential violations.

Criminal fraud, and securities fraud, are often investigated by the District Attorneys of the victims' states, and by those of the official business location, such as by the diligent prosecutors of the New York District Attorney's office. Perhaps this can be one of their stories.

Dare I say about Ivanka Trump, "Lock her up"? If she were part of these dirty dealings? And then maybe a "Let's Make A Deal" offer of "go away quietly" to Dad to give her a break?

If, and only if, there is sufficient, real, not partisan-created, evidence of a crime. Everybody deserves real due process.

Sidenote: Ivanka was also the primary Trump overseeing and marketing Trump Tower Uruguay, an hour and millions of dollars from me, in glitzy Punta del Este. When Donald ran and Ivanka got an official role, the Trump Organization switched it to Eric Trump, sometimes with Don Jr. babysitting for Weakest Link Eric. Just as Trump Ocean Club Panama was a licensed-branding-only deal and the first non-US project, Trump Uruguay is also license-only, and the first Trump project in South America proper. (Also, still incomplete after years!) I wonder if Ivanka's Uruguay dealings had similar issues and shady characters as are being alleged on the deal where she broke into the business, Panama?

Just curious on that last part. No evidence. Worth somebody looking into it?
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