Monday, March 26, 2007

U.S.' love-hate relationship with immigrants

Seeing what I saw at the rally today reminded me of something I've been saying for 12-15 years- the U.S. only has a relationship of convenience when it comes to its immigrants. The bottom line is that U.S. will always have a love-hate relationship with its immigrants- love 'em when you need 'em, hate 'em after you've used 'em.

History tells us as much going back to the 1800's when U.S. government officials went to Asia to recruit workers for the transcontinental railroad, making promises of land ownership & such only to turn their backs on them & pass the Gentleman's Agreement in 1908 denying land ownership to Asian Americans. In 1924, Congress passed the Literacy Act which stated that all new immigrants had to pass an English-proficiency test (which obviously favored western europeans who already knew the language) but there was 1 exception, Mexicans. You see, the Southwestern Growers Association had successfully lobbied for this exception as they needed laborers for their budding enterprise (which was also conveniently tied to the end of the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1920, so they had lots of people ready to come work). Then, of course, we had Black Monday & the stock market crash of 1929 which sent the U.S. spiraling into the Great Depression which saw many Mexican-Americans- many of whom were U.S. Citizens, landowners & businessmen- rounded up like dogs & wrongfully deported just for being the wrong color. After the Depression was over, the U.S. needed more farmworkers so the Bracero Program began in 1942 (also due to WWII & having noone to tend to feeding this vast country). Again, U.S. government officials went abroad for labor (Mexico this time), handing out permits to come to the U.S. to work on farms but there was one caveat, they only wanted men (they didn't want women so that Mexicans couldn't make families & settle here). The Bracero Program ran until 1964 & it was ended, ironically, by the Civil Rights Movement as they thought that these were jobs that the U.S. should be giving to Americans (though, no "American" wanted to work hunched over for 12 hours a day, in the scorching heat while being exposed to chemicals & getting paid a pittance to boot).

Yea, Americans will always have a love-hate relationship with its immigrants. In the mid-1800's it was the Chinese, then the Irish after the Potato Famine struck Ireland, then the Italians & Jews. The Japanese were put in internment camps during WWII (but hey, at least they received reparations which we all know was a political ploy to "make nice" with modern-day, technology-rich Japan, but at least they got it). For a long time before that, it was African-Americans (though, originally, they were forced to come here & were enslaved) & they were promised reparations which they've still never received ("40 acres & a mule"). Heck, even NATIVE Americans weren't immune to this discrimination & they were here before anyone else even arrived on boats from across the Atlantic. I guess it's just been Latinos' turn for quite a while now & the foreseeable future.

ps. And let's not forget that a section of Latinos, Central Americans, started emigrating to the U.S. en masse during the 1980's, in large part, due to U.S. government-funded Contras (there were more, but this was the highest profile group) which were reigning death by the thousands through terrorist acts. So in no small part was the Reagan administration directly responsible for their emigration as they sought political asylum. Or have we conveniently forgotten about that too?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Immigration movement

I was at the pro-immigrant rally today here in downtown L.A. It was nowhere near as large as the one I participated in last year but there were still plenty of people (I heard something like 3-5k) out supporting this human rights issue. It was very peaceful which was great considering there was a group of about 200 anti-immigrant supporters there as well. It got a little heated at times as people exchanged insults but it never went past that. Like last year, all kinds of people came- families, non-minorities & youth- which was also nice to see.

I'm completely befuddled by the folks who are anti-immigrants. Their "beef" is that immigrants come here to take jobs, usurp social services (public education, healthcare, etc.) & do not want to assimilate into American culture (ie. learn the language). These folks have obviously been fed mass media's b.s. & are simply ignorant (for not doing any research on their own, at least). I'll explain why.

UCLA published the findings of a study a few years back which stated that immigrants contribute more than $20 billion (going off memory, but pretty sure that's correct) to the economy than they receive in return- due to not being eligible for certain services or not even applying due to fear of deportation (I lost that link when I reformatted my hard drive over a year ago but as soon as I locate it, I'll edit this post).

Immigrants do attempt to assimilate into American culture by learning the language, thinking otherwise is ludicrous! You try learning a completely foreign language (that uses totally different tongue muscles) when you're an adult & see how you do, it's not easy (why parents are advised to teach their children as many foreign languages as possible @ an early age, it's easier to learn the younger you are- it's a proven gerontological fact). I lived near a middle school about 10 years ago close to Hollywood & every day around 6-7pm, traffic was insane due to the amount of adult latinos (some koreans too) going to night school to learn english.

The #1 issue I hear anti-immigrants clamoring about is immigrants coming here to take jobs. First of all, if anything, immigrants here are victimized by employers who have poor working conditions, don't pay adequately & just, generally, abuse the system & their employees. Second of all, many times it's these immigrants who are doing menial jobs that noone else wants- being a cook at a fast food restaurant, working in agriculture or working in other service professions like low-paid healthcare, childcare & house cleaning. The thing that gets me riled up the most, however, is how you have TONS of American corporations moving their bases of operations (ie. Halliburton) or completely off-shoring large segments of their business outside of the U.S. I've worked in Technology for 10+ years & it's become common practice. Pay close attention next time you call Dell, Compaq/HP or your local cable company for tech support- that's not an American helping you out, it's usually someone from India. But we never hear about this in the media & I don't hear the American public holding these multi-billion dollar corporations accountable for the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs stateside.

It's this ignorance perpetrated by the mass media that's keeping our population misinformed. Daresay, I even call it divisive. That's what saddened me the most today- seeing faces of color on the anti-immigrant side. Has it been so long that they've forgotten that at one time, in the past, they were treated & viewed in the same, inhumane way?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

When shady politics collide with IT

The Washington Post is reporting something VERY interesting. From the article:

It no doubt surprised most Americans to learn that between 2003 and 2005 the FBI issued more than 140,000 specific demands under this provision -- demands issued without a showing of probable cause or prior judicial approval -- to obtain potentially sensitive information about U.S. citizens and residents. It did not, however, come as any surprise to me.
This, honestly, doesn't surprise me either. I'm more surprised this was revealed by the Washington Post- one of the most pro-Bush mass media publications in the nation. I'm just glad the truth's finally bubbling up to the top & that I didn't receive one of these mandates during my tenure as an IT Manager. Talk about a moral dilemma, disobeying it due to its unconstitutional nature or having to adhere to it (while hopefully garnering some positive spotlight in the realm of public opinion).

Having secret police and no accountability goes against the very grain of what the United States stands for, and what the Constitution says. Our forefathers explicitly ensured that we would have the rights necessary to overthrow our government if things got out of hand (which it currently has with the Bush administration). The government exists to serve the people, not the other way around. Yet Bush sits there, appoints bipartisan committees on such key matters as this war on Iraq & then doesn't even take their findings into account? I guess we don't even matter evidenced by his "this war started on my watch, but will end on yours" comments. Then again, why should he or other members of his cabinet even care? I mean, our Vice President is the same Dick Cheney who was the Chairman & CEO of Halliburton (which he's still a major stockholder of) which has received BILLIONS of dollars in contracts during the war in Iraq!! When you look up "conflict of interest" in the encyclopedia, you see a picture of Dick Cheney. If it smells like a rat & looks like a rat...

Government, at it again

The Register is reporting that the White House is implementing the need for new patches of Windows (both for XP & Vista) to "run on the secure version of Vista" (so I guess, thousands of people have also bought an insecure version?) Of course, this is a bit of an oxymoron as NOTHING on Windows is secure (or do I need to remind you of the emergency Vista security patch that came out the day after Vista was released, it's become routine for the last 10yrs. or so). Heck, before Vista was even released, there was already a list circulating on the internet detailing ALL of its discovered security holes and how to exploit them (memorable to me was the one detailing yet another virus exploit in Office 2K7 file attachments). However, the White House still feels the need to use and support (since they will be upgrading to this in the White House) Microsoft which practices ruthless anti-competitive practices not only here in the U.S. but also in Europe, where the entire EU seems to be suing Microsoft.

The net result will be identically-configured computers with fewer applications (doesn't this make it a Mac?). The whole reason for using Microsoft is to gain access to cheap hardware and a boatload of software. You can best believe there'll be a ripple effect which affects the common home user- as other large companies follow the government's lead with its $65 billion/yr. IT budget. Every computer purchased in a few years will have these restrictions. Every PC, being relatively similar, will only make it MORE susceptible to viruses (but the hope is to recover quicker). Small things like this (and national ID's, for example) are the beginnings of a monoculture, which is just asking for trouble on so many different levels.

Whatever happened to "land of the free, home of the brave?" I guess Brother Ali got it right in his new song titled Letter from the Government where he switches it to "land of the thieves, home of the slaves."

Linux downloads

My previous blog entry indicated the arrival of Ubuntu's new (beta) iteration, 7.04 (codenamed Feisty Fawn). For those of you who've never used Linux or downloaded a Linux file, you might think that this lack of familiarity might be an obstacle. Nothing could be further from the truth. As stated previously, distros come in many different flavors. But when you're ready to download the distro of your choice what do you do?

Distros come in *.iso files (the "*" being there for the filename that you're downloading). ISO files are simply optical disk images. You can load them onto any disk burning software & burn a normal cd as easily as you can make a music or data cd. Most, if not all, retail programs can do this but there are also free, open-source solutions that do so as well ala 7-Zip. It's all a matter of choice & preference.

The second thing you need to know when downloading distros is what type of hardware (CPU) you own. You see, distros are created with specifications to take full advantage of your hardware. It's nowhere near as difficult as it might sound- you just need to know if you own an Intel or AMD-based cpu (or SPARC, if that's how you roll). If you're not sure, all you need to do (in Windows) is: Right-click on the "my computer" icon, select Properties & at the bottom of the "general" tab, under "Computer," Windows tells you what type you own. Easy huh?

One of the easier steps (though, they're all pretty easy) is to figure out if you'd like to do a full install or just take it out for a "test drive." Most of you like test driving your cars before you buy them, Linux is no different in that it allows you to do the same. Of course, you might KNOW that you want to do the full install & are prepared to download several cd's or 1 dvd full of data & that's fine. Most people will want to kick the tires a bit &, as such, there's a solution for this called a LiveCD. LiveCDs (aka Desktop CDs) are great in that you don't have to change any current configuration, remove windows or even start from a fresh hard drive. You just select that type of download, burn it onto 1 disk (all LiveCDs fit on 1 disk), pop it in your cd/dvd drive & reboot your computer. The only caveat being that your BIOS has to be configured to boot from cd as its first option. Not to worry, though, most newer, pre-configured computers from large manufacturers come this way and you usually don't have to touch a thing.

Lastly, you should know about MD5 sums. This isn't a mandatory need, so it can be skipped, but it's simple & helps out immensely in case of problems with the install. An MD5 sum is just a simple binary hash which gives your ISO a unique identifier, kind of like a fingerprint. It's a series of numbers & letters that the producers of your ISO share with you & can be found on the same page where you downloaded your ISO from. You can download free MD5 sum checkers from various places & google can help you find one (it's usually a very small, less than 100kb, tool). Once you've downloaded your ISO image, all you do is run your MD5 checker against that image & it'll produce a series of numbers and letters. If they match with what your author gave you, then your download is an exact replica. Now, if you run into problems with running your install or LiveCD, you know that it wasn't due to a "bad copy."

Many central download repositories and mirrors exist for Linux, but I prefer for their many cool features.

Voila! You've just downloaded, burned and verified your FIRST Linux distro!

Taking it our for a spin is up to you. Enjoy. :)

Linux parodies Mac commercials


I'm a big fan of Linux. The reasons are obvious: it's free, it's widely distributed, there's TONS of support for it & there's a true community feel to it (people that actually believe in what they're doing & that they're doing it for the good of the people). Sure, MANY people think it's the "geeky operating system" but the days of command line only user interfaces are gone. Heck, even the Canadian Broadcasting Association is promoting the use of Ubuntu Linux to the "average computer user."

Speaking of Ubuntu, widely considered one of the most user friendly Linux distros (short for distribution, which is like a "flavor" in that there's literally hundreds to choose from when wanting to use Linux), their next version (7.04, codenamed Feisty Fawn) is in beta & available for download. The release version is due out next month & you can find the official wiki here.

ps. You can view a gallery of screenshots for various linux distros & applications here. Enjoy. :)

Friday, March 23, 2007


This is here to combine music, technology & politics. There might be a few other things sprinkled in but they'll, most likely, be associated in some way with these three.

I'm a big proponent of Free Open Source Software (FOSS). As such, be prepared to pop a big Red Pill when it comes to operating system & software choices. The same Red Pill will be produced for music as the focus will be conscious hip hop & electronica.

Enjoy your stay and if you have any questions, hit me up at: