Tuesday, October 23, 2012

O-1 Visas, the SHIELD Helicarrier, and Politics

The 1st quote is from the Nov 22 debate.
The 2nd quote is invented. Maybe.
I just attended a short course on immigration visa issues in which the question came up of "O-1 Visas" = those granted to people "with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics."

The speaker said that these were fine for those who qualified, but were quite rare; perhaps unique among workings visas, they are never oversubscribed.

In plain English, it appears that top scientists as a group may no longer be trying all that hard to work and live in America. This may be a canary in a coal mine, an indicator species, A Bad Sign; what do they know that we do not?

Pondering "America Is Losing Its Edge In Innovation" in Forbes, I offer another modest proposal: too many smart kids are going into law school because they see lawyers making big bucks on TV, while the scientists get wedgies. The reality of law practice today is different; a minority get rich but most grads today will live as baristas or jumped-up paralegals. A relatively modest program of publicizing law's dismal future to undergraduates might nudge a few back into the sciences, where pay may also suck but a soulectomy is not required.

I approve of the legal profession, but who disputes that its current size far exceeds requirements? I'm not a scientist or engineer, but does it really seem plausible that we'll regain the lead from China by suing them over IP violations?


In an era of dominated by plunder through economics rather than plunder through force, Mitt Romney's plan for thirteen more warships a year is as brilliant as his discovery of a border between Iran and Syria. Should his faction prevail, we may profit from asking the Brits how it felt when their Empire crumbled and they no longer Bore The White Man's Burden (or, in our American jargon, Exceptionalism). The difference is that our domination is not threatened by independence movements or other outside forces, but by our internal decisions to waste our wealth building weaponized pyramids.

Another modest proposal: Let's create another Service branch: the Potempkin Service. Its core missions are (A) to spray appropriations into the air over enough Representatives' districts that its funding is secure, and (B) to build huge, shiny, loud "Marching Morons"-style weapons systems that don't actually DO anything but look as impressive as heck (I suggest replicating the Shield Helicarrier first). It would be best if they were optimized for use against enemies that don't exist, so that never run out of targets!!

The remaining Services would then be free to concentrate on doing something useful, e.g. finishing off Al Qaeda.

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