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With the 2020 election results now finally confirmed, American Democracy has survived a wobbly moment— demonstrating that our system still works in representing the will of the people. But, let’s agree that after almost 250 years, the “service engine light” has come on.

What now?

The good news is our system provides a mechanism to make repairs, and this is just what I propose as a guest writer for online journal “The Bigger Picture”:

I hope you give it a read, give it a thought, and share it with others — to build awareness and conviction that one way or the other American democracy is long overdue for a tune-up.


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(Photo by Malte Luk from Pexels)

The “grand experiment” that is American Democracy has now clocked 244 years on its odometer and is long overdue for a tune-up. An ordinary oil-change is not going to cut it. We’re talking the full 250-year maintenance service — limping in a couple of years early.

Thankfully, America’s framers were clairvoyant enough to build into the Constitution a mechanism for course-correction to fix oversights and allow the document to adapt over time. Their design allowed for Amendments to the Constitution with 2/3 approval in both houses of Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives) plus subsequent ratification by 3/4…


A long-read from an American living in Amsterdam, who’s trying to make sense of his country from afar — one he sometimes hardly recognizes. An essay intended to provoke personal reflection, challenge entrenched views, explore fresh perspectives, and inspire hope in a possible way forward.

It is the third Tuesday of September in this rat-f’d Year of the Rat.

Officially still six days from the autumnal equinox, it is the unofficial last day of summer in northern Europe, a final blast of sun and heat before the season turns, and with it the short days of winter which loom just…


The other day I predicted to a friend that depending on the outcome of the November 2020 presidential election, America could be on the brink of Civil War.

But, as I thought more, I realized we are already in Civil War. Today’s weapons of choice are more memes than muskets.

The polarization and division of our population is as deep as the Union and the Confederacy in the 1860s. And the stakes are just as high, with the future of our country, culture, and society hanging in the balance.

How did we get so divided?

Our country is dominated by…


It was only a year ago, but it already feels like an entirely different era.

It was April 19, 2019. Sunset in Amsterdam was already 8:45pm and getting 15 minutes later each progressive week. The trees had come alive with the first buds of green leaves. Blooms blossomed galore. Pink wine was back in season.

So when Dave invited me and my wife to join two other couples for a boat cruise of the Amsterdam canals on his sloop in the late afternoon of Good Friday, well, he didn’t have to ask us twice.

You know what they say. The…


For the kids’ school break during the last week of February, my family and I made the retrospectively unfortunate choice to ski in the remote Japanese Alps outside of Nagano.

Three days before our return to Amsterdam, we received independent word from both my employer and the boys’ school that our respective presence was unwelcome at the office or on campus for the coming fortnight.

My teenage boys were barely able to disguise their delight. I wasn’t as convinced.

Now 12 days in, I’ve had a few reflections and insights.

Indiscriminate discrimination sucks.

No shit, right? It took me 50-odd years as a…


tl;dr

American Football: Run by socialists. Adored by conservatives.

European Football: Run by capitalists. Revered by liberals.

Football can tell you a lot about a society.

If you’ve ever seen Aussie Rules Football, a game loosely derived from an early version of rugby, you have instant insight into the independent and rugged nature of Australian culture.

Gaelic football. Uniquely Irish.

Canadian football. A rare misstep from our usually more enlightened brothers from the North, Canadian football is a head-scratcher with its imperial-measured and unnecessarily unconventional 110 yard field, seemingly trolling us with their excesses of spare land. Imagine the humiliation…


We were admittedly late to the party.

It took until the early 90s until me and my crew caught on to how much fun the whole live music scene, particularly everything one degree of separation from the Grateful Dead. There was so much going on all along, but somehow we missed most of it.

The Dead played constantly in the Bay Area in the 80s. Aside from tagging along to a Laguna Seca show where I may or may not have had an actual ticket, I’m ashamed to have missed every other show.

It was all around us. I remember…


Antonio’s Nut House didn’t used to be the only dive bar in Palo Alto. There was Pudley’s. The Stanford Pub. The Old Pro. I mean, the old Old Pro.

A bar by the name The Old Pro currently does exist in downtown Palo Alto on Ramona Street, but anyone Generation X or older calls that place the New Pro.

The real Old Pro sat on an undeveloped industrial lot on the southeast corner of Page Mill Road and El Camino.

It was a proper dive. In all the right ways.

The front room was framed by a long bar adorned…


Dear son,

I‘ve been shirking my duties.

As your Dad and music fan wingman, I’ve been remiss for not yet to sharing my long-time obsession in a specific southern psychedelic rock band from Georgia. But more on that later.

Given all of the stuff on your plate in this 18th year of your life, I must say how pleased and enthusiastic I am that your music has become such a big part of who you are. I love how you’ve gotten good enough strumming the acoustic or thumping the bass to the point where it’s become really fun. …

Brad Porteus

American in Amsterdam.

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