Tour de France, EXTREME EDITION!

A colleague of mine suggested that the Tour de France give up all pretense of being drug free, and embrace the performance-enhancing image it has developed so carefully over the last quarter century.

His idea was to have the racing teams sponsored by the major pharmaceutical firms, pitting one performance-enhancing approach against another, in a competition to demonstrate not the strength of the human spirit, but the power to manipulate the human body.

Samantha further suggested that they then abandon all of the rules that make the race civilized, and turn it into a free-for-all, a Tour de France, EXTREME EDITION!

That would get the le tour on Spike.

Green Card: I'm Certified

Well folks, I got the good news last night: I am Department of Labor Certified.

This means that I can now actually apply for a Green Card.

Oh yeah, and based on some of the other happenings in the world of US Immigration (here and here), I am part of the group that is either going to be royally screwed over, or be part of some sort of general amnesty due to political manipulation and greed entering into the process.

Could be a fun month.

USCIS, Green Cards, and Greed: Your (United States Federal) Government at Work

It seems that more than the usual immigration backlog reduction process has been at work in the USCIS. There are two likely scenarios that appear to be running around immigration circles these days, regarding the Green Card slot tease that has turned into such a furore.
The first is that the Department of State, which issues the Visas, was pressuring the USCIS to fill the Fiscal 2007 Green Card quota, something that has happened rarely in the last few years. What most people in the US don’t know is that most years, thousands of eligible Green Card slots simply disappear because the applications can’t be processed fast enough by the USCIS.
Recent events have highlighted this, and the Department of State may have applied pressure to USCIS to completely exhaust the 2007 pool, to avoid the embarrassment of having to explain to Congress why they can’t process applications faster.
The second reason is greed: as of August 1 2007, the government fees for Green card applications increases massively. For a family of four, the cost will increase by $2,500. So, by not allowing the flood of applications from all of those expectant people, they have guaranteed themselves a higher revenue stream for next year.
All things considered, the whole event smells.
Now, for the long-term affect on skilled immigrants, Microsoft has set the trend by announcing that it will be moving development over the border to Canada [here]. As a country with a skills-based immigration policy, highly-trained technical professionals feel welcomed and wanted in Canada, something that is not the case with the archaic and glacial immigration policy of the United States.
In the next 5-10 years, US companies will face a serious inability to recruit employees from anywhere other than the United States. Skilled professionals will simply not come to a country that actively discourages them from staying permanently and making a contribution.
The US policy policy will be a boon to Canada, Ireland, and other countries who actively seek and encourage skilled professional immigrants.
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GREEN CARD: "It's no fun, being a legal alien"

As many readers know, I am going through the process — if you call filing a bunch of paperwork and not hearing anything for 2 years a process — of obtaining Permanent Residency in the United States, often referred to as the Green Card.
This morning, on NPR, there was a story about a foul-up in the processing of Green Cards that is suspicious, to say the least.
I have started referring to this process as the Dream Card because it leaves one thinking that the application they completed was done in a dream, a long time ago. An like most dreams, it is a fable of the subconscious mind and as likely to come true as those blue, flying penguins in my dream last night.
The degree of complexity that accompanies the application process has made bureaucrats from the Byzantine Empire write letters of complaint to their members of Congress, saying that the USCIS is giving them a bad name. Kafka has been seen rising from the dead at night, and penning a new tale based on this experience.
Other people covering this story.
NY Times
The Guardian
Times Of India
Miami Herald
San Jose Mercury News
Sacramento Bee Editorial
A few media outlets have grabbed this story as an example of just how broken the US system is when it comes to immigration, especially given the irony of the recent debate over the immigration bill that was tossed out of Congress. How could the immigration system have hoped to deal with the new regulations, if thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of valid visas go unused every year, due to government inefficiency.
Why would an illegal immigrant bother to go through a legal process that punishes the very people who are taking the time to follow the rules?
I would raise my voice in protest; but it would do no good. Drawing a pool of highly skilled, well compensated indentured servants from around the world to these shores to keep the wheels of innovation and development rolling appears to have become the American way.
And like indentured servants everywhere, we are a disposable commodity, to be teased by the promise that some day, we could, we might, just maybe be able to live here (and still not be able to vote) as Permanent Residents.
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GrabPERF: Yahoo issues today

Netcraft noted that Yahoo encountered a bit of a headache today. So I fired up my handy-dandy little performance system and had a look.

yahoo issues july 06 2007

Although for an organization and infrastructure the size of Yahoo’s this may have been a big event, in my experience, this was a "stuff happens on the Internet" sort of thing.

Move along people; there’s nothing to see. It is not the apocalyptic event that Netcraft is making it out to be. Google burps and barfs all the time, and everyone grumbles. But there is no need to run in circles and scream and shout.


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Happy Canada Day, 2007

It’s July 1, meaning that it’s time for Canadians around the world have launched into their recently re-invigorated day of jingoistic pride. Living next door to the definition of jingoistic pride has set the bar pretty high, but based on the last couple of trips north, great strides have been made since we left our home country in 1999.
This morning, the Canadian flag is flying outside Giant Birch Manor. The one day a year I risk offending my neighbours in a demonstration of my national pride.
In some ways, Canada Day serves as the start of my new year, just as much as the start of the school year in August/September does. It divides the year in half, and provides a celebratory marker when the weather is likely good enough to have a good party.
I had a look back to see what I posted on July 1 last year, and found that the only post was one related to GrabPERF, announcing the termination of the PubSub measurements, as that company was in the midst of its death throes.
Over the last year, I have seen significant personal upheavals and changes, most notably the diagnosis of my mental condition as Bipolar 1. After talking with some people I know who also suffer from this disorder, I realize that I have a very mild form of it, but even in its mildest forms, it can be crippling. I can say that having access to better medication (I AM PAXIL FREE!), and the world’s best therapist, I have come a long way in understanding what in this life I can and cannot change.
Watching the red and white flag fluttering in the morning breeze, I realize that there are days that I really miss Canada, and all of its foibles and unique cultural issues. But for now, I live where I am, and I have come to accept that, even with all of its uncertainty (still no closer to my Dream Green Card).
So, I wish you all a Happy Canada Day, wherever you raise your maple leaf.
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