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User Journal

Journal Journal: Good Reading on the H1-B Issue 1

This Slashdot comment and these numbers go a long way towards explaining the highly divergent views we see on the American H1-B visa program designed for bringing highly-paid, highly-educated professionals to work in the United States to supplement an American lack of such people.

The common opinion among Slashdotters is that H1-Bs are used to bring in code monkeys who work for low wages, thereby suppressing IT, computing, and science wages. The common opinion among certain prominent American businessmen is that America doesn't produce enough highly-educated professionals of its own. The cited Wikipedia page shows why these two views, which so strongly diverge, are both actually true.

On the one hand, it appears that most H1-Bs *ARE*, in fact, used by Indian outsourcing and consulting firms to bring in wage-slaved trained monkeys. The issue is that the small but significant number of visas that American companies can obtain for themselves may well go towards exactly what Bill Gates says they go to: bringing in highly-educated people who will work for high wages in research and development.

Given this kind of environment, it has occurred to me that computing has become a lot like the fine arts. If one starts learning at a very young age and has talent, one can still "climb to the top" and become one of the few who get well-paying, interesting jobs in R&D or a secure position in academic computer science. However, the majority who try to enter the field, particularly those without top talent or who discovered their interest too late in life (perhaps late high school or early college years), will ultimately end up in badly-paying, insecure, IT or "code-monkey" jobs.

In my opinion, such a hypothesis explains and predicts the exact patterns of educational enrollment and entrance to the computing professions we currently see. The fine arts show a similar pattern; nobody who decides on a whim to take up a musical instrument in college ever becomes a highly-payed musical star.

The counterpoint lies in the "popular" arts, wherein stars make money that the rest of us can only dream about while thousands of "wannabes" flock to the field to ultimately fail harder than any code-monkey ever will. The explanation for this is, of course, that the popular arts have been deemed as having sex appeal.

So to have more people enter computing, we can either increase the rewards of an average computing career rather than merely a top one, or we can add sex appeal.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Follow the Money

Re: Laughing and Crying

Thomas Friedman thinks America doesn't educate enough native students
through graduate school. He claims that the lack of native-born Ph.D
students shows this trend.

I must respectfully disagree. American-born students don't go to
graduate school because they know what's good for their wallet. A
report by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that, in
the 2004-2005 school year, 75% of full-time, first-time undergraduate
students at 4-year institutions (also known as college kids) had
financial aid of some sort. Now that the federal government has cut
back on grants and scholarships, the most common financial aid is the
student loan.

So with three-quarters of college students in college on someone else's
dime, should it surprise anyone that they want to join the job market
and make money immediately after school? When you have loan payments
due each month, going back to graduate school for a tiny stipend and an
academic career track simply looks repulsive.

American students are not stupid or uneducated, they simply know what's
good for them.

But foreign students receive all kinds of scholarships not open to
native-born Americans (search if unsure). They also
find that going to graduate school brings them more respect and a higher
income back home than returning with merely a bachelor's degree, and
they find that graduate school provides a good road to stay here if they
so wish. So most graduate students come from abroad.

Can we get more American-born students in graduate school? Yes. We
just need to lower the economic cost of graduate and/or undergraduate
education. Therefore, I propose the establishment of a charitable
nonprofit organization dedicated to providing scholarships to science
and engineering undergraduates on the basis of "more money for better
grades", starting at nothing for F's and scaling up to full tuition for A's.

I would proudly donate to such an organization.

With their educational funds back in their pockets, more science and
engineering students will have the ability to afford graduate school.
Even those who don't attend graduate school will swell the ranks of the
scientifically educated Americans.

-- Eli Z. Gottlieb


Journal Journal: Revised letter to Congressman/Senator

Dear ,
        I feel appalled that the "Electronic Modernization Surveillance Act", known by most people for legalizing the NSA's tyrannical spying program, has made it out of committee. In a free America, that would not have happened.

        This repugnant and fascist bill will not aid in securing America, its people or its liberties. Instead, it merely enables the government to obtain warrants it uses for Orwellian fishing expeditions which, under just law not maimed to win political games, they could never justify. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act courts can already grant warrants, even retroactively, to wiretap foreign nationals, and normal courts grant warrants to wiretap American citizens suspected of crimes. In a free America, government searches for perpetrators of crimes already committed using evidence, instead of lying in wait for an easy case against an unfortunate citizen.

        But the Bushivik regime has not sought warrants. Instead, they spy on Americans without justification of law or morality, and now try to retroactively legalize their transgressions. They have no real concern for safety from crime, terrorism or any other scourge - else they would emulate the good example of nations like Israel that deal with such issues constantly and well. In a free America, the government protects the liberties of the people instead of trying to become Thought Police draped in a flag and holding a cross.

        The only way for you to win my money or my vote in the future is to struggle for the return of civil liberties in general, and vote this bill down in specific. This bill not only removes the need for real Probable Cause to issue a warrant - a legal standard written into the Fourth Amendment - but it allows the executive branch to monitor any man's, woman's or child's communications for 90 days with no warrant whatsoever, as long as they call that 90 day period "after a terrorist attack". In a free America, we do not tolerate the destruction of our liberties, especially those we enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

Election time draws ever nearer. Vote this bill down, or I will vote you down, and you will never see one cent from my wallet in donations. In a free America, officials who vote away civil liberties don't keep their offices.

Vote "no" on the Electronic Modernization Surveillance Act, and vote "yes" to restoring the Bill of Rights,


Journal Journal: The Electronic Modernization Surveillance Act Sucks

Dear Representative [Name],
I, personally, feel appalled to learn that the "Electronic Modernization Surveillance Act", known among common folk for legalizing the NSA's vile and tyrannical spying program, has made it out of commitee.

This repugnant and fascist bill will only allow the government to obtain warrants for cheap fishing expeditions which, under just law not maimed to win political games, they could never justify. The FISA courts could already grant warrants for wiretapping on foreigners and normal federal courts could grant them to tap everyday Americans suspected of crimes. But the Bushivik Regime has not sought warrants. Instead, they illegally spy on Americans with no justification, and now try to retroactively legalize their transgressions. They simply want to spy on American citizens; they want to become Thought Police draped in an American flag and holding a cross.

I [have/have not] voted for you in the past, [but/and] I assure you the only way to win my vote or my money in the future is to vote this bill down. This bill not only removes the need for real Probable Cause to issue a warrant - a legal standard written into the Fourth Amendment - but it allows the government to monitor any man's, woman's or child's communications for 90 days with no warrant whatsoever, as long as they can call that 90 day period "after a terrorist attack". True Americans will not tolerate the destruction of our liberties, especially those we enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Vote this bill down, or I will vote you down.

In a truly free country I could threaten more seriously.

Vote NO on the Electronic Modernization Surveillance Act,
[Constituent's Name here]

Operating Systems

Journal Journal: Recent EDI headers and documentation

I've got new headers and documentation up for EDI, the Extensible Driver Interface. Its aim is to be a uniform, kernel-portable API for programming device drivers. Everyone who reads this, please take a look and maybe even contact me to help! I can be reached by my email address, or in #edi on WyldRyde IRC network.

The EDI framework wraps kernel and driver functionality in "classes", which can actually be written in any language capable of ecompiling functions to machine code. A standard set of classes exist for the kernel to supply to the driver, drivers will (RSN) be able to implement one of a standard set of classes representing driver types, and either kernel or driver can expose any other class they like. This means that non-standard functionality can be added or required of any kernel or driver as long as standard functionality is exposed, freeing OS and driver developers to code what they damn well want to.

Note that this is a pure API, it doesn't care what kind of environment drivers run in. It only cares that the correct function calls are accessible, so it can be used under a micro- or macro- kernel.

A better overview of EDI itself is available in the documentation part of the tarball. Happy hacking!

[edit]The new version of EDI communicates via classes and includes an example driver.[/edit]

User Journal

Journal Journal: Driver Protocol Idea?

I'm designing a driver interface for a little bunch of hobbyist operating systems, including my own. It's goals are to be small, easy to comprehend and implement, portable across multiple operating systems, and extensible. A small class/object system has been created to allow drivers and kernels to implement and request extensions and standardized functionality with one mechanism.

Most of how the driver interacts with the hardware via the kernel is finished; what's still needed as a protocol for driver I/O via streams. To help keep the standards from becoming dependent on one kernel design standard input, output and error streams are the only standardized link to the outside world beyond the driver interface itself, and some protocol for using those streams is therefore needed.

Simply writing error strings to the error stream makes sense, but what about the other two? What kind of communications protocol design would be able to communicate real content, control data, possibly extension data, and the meaning/context of all of them to the outside world? Neither I nor the hobby operating system community have been able to come up with anything real so far.

And if you've got a fundamentally better idea than communicating via two or three streams, that'd be good to hear, too.

The entire standard (as embodied by the PDF docs about it) is currently under the GNU Free Documentation License. Anyone who wants to fork it, add to it, or whatever is free to do so. Anyone who implements it or a fork can license their implementation how they please. Basically, EDI needs good ideas and good implementors more than licensing issues at this point, so there's absolutely no chance anything commented here will ever get you or me sued.

Yes, I reposted a rejected "Ask Slashdot" submission as a journal entry.

United States

Journal Journal: Common Lisp Code to Terrorist-ize Given Text

;This maker of food for the NSA Line Eater is copyright (C) Eli Gottlieb, December 26 2005. ;It's under the GNU General Public License version 2.0.
(defvar *dictionary* '("assasinate" "kill" "suicide bomb" "dirty bomb" "nuclear device"
                              "Al-Quaeda" "insurgency" "Hamas" "Baath"
                              "jihad" "Allah" "Islam"
                              "Sears Tower" "Empire State Building" "White House" "Golden Gate Bridge" "New York City subway"
                              "Iraq" "Afghanistan" "Palestine" "Iran" "Saudi Arabia"
                              "Israel" "America" "England"
                              "Usama bin Laden"

(defun terroristize (lines)
    (if (not (equalp lines nil))
            (if (equalp (cdr lines) nil)
        (list (car lines))
        (list (car lines) (nth (random (length *dictionary*)) *dictionary*)))
            (terroristize (cdr lines)))

(defun equal-to-any (value any)
        ((equalp value (car any)) (car any))
        ((cdr any) (equal-to-any value (cdr any)))
        ('t nil)))

(defun all-whitespace-before-p (the-string start-index end-index)
    (do ((index start-index (- index 1)))
            ((equalp index end-index) T)
        (if (not (equalp (elt the-string index) #\ ))
            (return nil))))

(defun token-delimited-p (token-beginning index-of-char string-data delimiters)
        (equal-to-any (elt string-data index-of-char) delimiters)
        (not (all-whitespace-before-p string-data index-of-char token-beginning))))

(defun tokenize (string-input delimiters &optional (inclusive nil))
    (setf tokens nil)
    (setf token-beginning 0)
    (dotimes (c (length string-input))
        (if (token-delimited-p token-beginning c string-input delimiters)
        (setf tokens (append tokens (list (subseq string-input token-beginning (if inclusive (+ c 1) c)))))
        (setf token-beginning (+ c 1)))))
    (if ( token-beginning (length string-input))
        (append tokens (list (subseq string-input token-beginning)))

(defun parse-for-words (sentence)
    (tokenize sentence '(#\ )))

(defun parse-for-sentences (message)
    (tokenize message '(#\. #\? #\!) T))

(defun string-reglue (str1 str2 delimiter)
    (concatenate 'string (concatenate 'string str1 (string delimiter)) str2))

(defun list-to-string (list-input)
    (if (stringp (car list-input))
        (if (cdr list-input)
            (string-reglue (car list-input) (list-to-string (cdr list-input)) #\ )
            (car list-input))
        nil)) ;This is the main function. Hand it an arbitrary string to be sprinkled with "terrorist lingo" ;-).
(defun feed-echelon (message)
    (setf sentences (mapcar 'parse-for-words (parse-for-sentences message)))
    (dotimes (sentence (length sentences))
        (setf (elt sentences sentence) (terroristize (elt sentences sentence)))
    (list-to-string (mapcar 'list-to-string sentences))

User Journal

Journal Journal: Slashdot rendition of "Blame Canada"

This is a repost of a recent comment of mine. I thought it funny enough to save for posterity. Anyone who's seen "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut" should know the melody. If not I recommend you see the film and then download the song itself off of P2P somewheres.

Times have changed,
People are getting worse.
They won't obey FOX News, and
They just want to hack and blog.
Should we blame the media?
Or blame society?
Or should we blame the RIAA's lawsuits? NO!
Blame Canada! Blame Canada!

With their beady little eyes,
Their flapping heads so full of lies.
Blame Canada!
Blame Canada!
We need to form a full assault, it's Canada's fault!

Don't blame me, for my son Stan.
He saw the darn porno and now he's off to join a gang!
And my boy Eric once,
Had my wallpaper on desktop,
but now when I see him he tells me to fuck myself.

Well, Blame Canada!
It seems that everything's gone wrong since
Canada came along.
Blame Canada!
Blame Canada!
They're not even a real country anyway.

My son could've been a doctor or a lawyer it's true!
Instead he burned out as an OSS evangelist.
Should we blame the keyboard?
Should we blame the screen?
Or the Slashdot which he read every day? Heck, no!

Blame Canada!
Blame Canada!
With all their free-speech precedents and that bitch Anne Murray too. Blame Canada!
Shame on Canada!

The smut we must stop,
The trash we must smash,
Laughter and fun,
must all be undone.
We must blame them and cause a fuss,
Before somebody thinks of blaming us!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Evolution/Creation Debate the Dumbest Thing Since...

the invention of synthetic oxytocin.

It really is horrendously stupid to see two religions have a pissing match over who gets to indoctrinate the children. If it weren't for the fact that those are future voters being indoctrinated, it would even be funny. However, the logic of science and education, as applied to this debate, can only lead to one conclusion: Evolvedism, Creationism, and Creationism's evolved offspring Intelligent Design have got to go from the classrooms of America.

On the dominant hand, we have Evolvedism. This is the pseudo-scientific, slightly-more-credible-than-science-fiction theory which states that we are able to use rocks to gain information about a time with no people to observe it or make records. Evolvedism applies the sound and tested Theory of Evolution to these rocks in order to come to its main article of faith: We and every other life form on Earth evolved from single-celled (possibly even non-celled) life forms that floated around in primordial goop over a period of 3 to 4 billion years. Their evidence for this is simply the same application of logic, scientific theory and Ocham's Razor that is used to presume that the milk spoiled while left in the fridge when we weren't looking, but with a flaw. Every experiment, be it leaving milk in the fridge or building a circuit board, has both a beginning and an end at which the operating Laws of the Universe are known, or at least approximated. In all such situations, the events of a middle period of time are extrapolated by applying the Laws known to operate at both the beginning and end. However, nobody was around to know if the Earth even existed 4 billion years ago, let alone to make sure the same Laws of the Universe that work today did then. Ergo, it is illogical to extrapolate today's Laws into a past during which there was no observer to check that they were in operation, and without being able to make this supposition Evolvedism can no longer stand as being a scientific theory of any value to anyone who doesn't lack an alternative view. Things evolve now and indefinitely into the future, but we cannot say so for the past.

Creationism, at least, is honest about the fact that it is a religious viewpoint held on faith and emotion, but its bastard child Intelligent Design isn't so virtuous. ID supporters claim that life is too "irreducibly complex" to have evolved spontaneously, and that it therefore must have been designed by an intelligent being. The identity of this being, of course, is left open to "speculation", or rather, to God. The problem with this view is that the only documented evidence of God is the revelations of His prophets, which even when written down are impossible to verify or distinguish from simple hallucination, and when the position of Intelligent Designer is left open there is no evidence of any intervention on its part that would distinguish it from the operation of Laws of the Universe. Therefore, a non-God Intelligent Designer becomes logically moot, and this so-called theory is revealed for what it is: an attempt to weedle God into the classrooms of a nation founded on the Freedom of Religion.

From this it is apparent that not one of the aforementioned theories are truly scientific, as each one lacks an essential component of that qualtiy. Evolvedism is untestable, Creationism grounded in naught but faith, and Intelligent Design indistinguishable from Evolvedism when it is not hiding Creationism's God in its Designer, so the best possible thing for our science classrooms is to teach none of them and have students learn their theology, be it of genetic selection or Christ, only if, when and how they actually wish to.

And no, the Flying Spaghetti Monster Theory is not seperate, as it is a form of Intelligent Design that still fails to distinguish the Designer from the operation of Laws of the Universe. That means that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the latest lies of the infidels, who will drown in their own blood for it ;-).

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Like punning, programming is a play on words.