Our hideous experience with the INS

And now that Yingwen’s citizenship process is behind us, let me just say that the INS, which I guess is now a department under the new oxymoronically-named Department of Homeland Security, is the most inefficient, poorly-run, and spiteful organization in our government today. There are a lot of mean-spirited angry redneck assholes that we dealt with in there. We were treated with disrespect and humiliation almost every step of the way. It took a complaint to my Congress rep to get them to finally process her green card. To think, my taxes paid for this abuse. Jeez, If I wanted to pay someone to abuse me, I could have just hired myself a dominatrix!

I watched one guy come out and verbally abuse, chastise, and humiliate this poor old Russian woman, right there in the waiting room in front of everyone, before Yingwen’s final interview. I didn’t catch his name, but he had a blond mustache, and a middle-aged head of blondish bad hair, a grey-but-yellowing suit that probably was in bad taste about two or three sizes ago, and it looked like he was hitting the doughnuts pretty hard. Anyway, he kept screaming at this old lady who was desperately trying to explain something with her poor broken english. Humiliated the piss out of her right there in public. He would not allow her daughter to translate for her, even though her daughter was standing right there, and kept interrupting both of them during the discourse. It seemed to me that this guy could have just politely explained the situation at hand, whatever it was, and then moved forward with the issue. But clearly this guy was out for blood from the outset. He wanted to make her cry, her daughter cry, and everyone else in the waiting room cower with fear. It worked. They cried, people ducked, and he proved himself to be a big giant prick, while I took notes on my Treo. This is clearly no way for a public servant to behave.

Give me your tired, your poor; your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.Ω I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Emma Lazarus – 1883
Inscription at Statue of Liberty

Another registered Democrat

Yesterday, Yingwen finally completed her long and arduous journey towards U.S. Citizenship by taking the oath at the Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco. There was a very large crowd there, around 1,300 in all getting processed, plus families. She is very happy to have completed this process – it was a lot of hard work and very frustrating at times. So, a big congratulations is in order for Yingwen!

Yingwen registered herself to vote that evening. We’ve got another registered Democrat in the house! Yea! She’s looking forward to the next election…

U.S. Stifles Democracy in Taiwan

Today it was announced that the United States has told Taiwan not to hold a public referendum on domestic nuclear policy and membership in the World Heath Organization. Sound incredible? Why would the United States, which professes to be the flagship of democracy in the world, want to stifle and discourage the free exercise of democracy in Taiwan?

Because the mainland People’s Republic of China fears that a referendum of any type would just be a precursor to the ultimate referendum, namely that of a declaration of independence. And it is because of the PRC’s aggressive, oppressive, and illogical stance against Taiwan’s sovereignty, the United States is again trying to keep the PRC from inhibiting the free flow of American commercial products into their country. Never-mind that Taiwan is a free, peaceful, and democratic nation – there’s money to be made in China, and China gets really whiny and problematic whenever Taiwan even hints that it is a separate entity.

But history shows us the truth, that Taiwan was never a part of the PRC, and the PRC’s claim over the island is totally without merit and substance. The United States officially pays lip service to the PRC’s claim over Taiwan solely in order to not ruffle their feathers. I believe this to be one of the purest examples of our hypocrisy with regards to international relations. It seems to me that 227 years ago, we were the ones to declare independence, in the name of democracy and freedom, from our totalitarian oppressors. How can we in good conscience then discourage the same from the Taiwanese?

Which is, by the way, entirely beside the issue. This is a referendum on domestic nuclear policy, and entry into the World Heath Organization – an organization which by the way rebuffed Taiwan’s pleas for assistance from and participation in the WHO during their time of greatest need, when the SARS disease was spreading like wildfire. The Taiwanese merely wish to have a public vote on where people stand on these issues. How can we dare to discourage such a simple and basic democratic process, when we spend so much time complaining about the lack of democracy in other parts of the world?

I am outraged at our policy toward Taiwan. It is not fair to the 23 million people of this free and democratic nation that we should stifle and snub their efforts in the democratic process. By discouraging such a vote, we are turning the democratic clock backwards in Taiwan, and to a large extent China as well. We should support any and all democratic movements in Taiwan with steadfast and unwavering assurance that we believe in democracy as much as the Taiwanese.

Related Articles:
Straits Times: US says ‘no’ to any Taiwan referendum
ChannelNewsAsia: Washington opposes Taiwan referendum on any issue
Taipei Times: US opposes referendum, government officials say
Taipei Times: Parties tell US to keep nose out of domestic affairs

And by the way, thanks to Google News for it’s amazing ability to expose issues that the American media seem to have a knack for burying or even omitting. I could not find a single domestic media reference to this issue, even though the press has been on the wire for almost 24 hours now.

Potty Training

So we have been potty training max now for a few months. He’s basically got it down now to where he only has to wear the diaper at night, and he seems to have picked up a few more skills in the process.

Max is 2 years and 4 months old. I just witnessed the following: After he was finished, he got up on the sink, turned on the sink, washed his hands thoroughly, including soap, rinsed, got down and dried his hands with a towel, and then turned off the light on his way out.

Good hygiene and energy conservation.. not bad! It’s amazing to think that not too long ago his only five skills were eat, scream, giggle, stare into space, and shit. And now he’s getting all sophisticated, doing things in the proper order, and making intellectual decisions. What they say is true – kids do grow up quickly.

Kensington’s new keyboard for Mac

I am mostly writing this to test out my new Kensington StudioBoard Mechanical Keyboard. These things just hit the market like today and I must say it was definitely created first and foremost for Mac users, especially those that had gotten used to the old mechanical clickety-clack style mechanical action, which is this model’s main feature.

First of all, the obvious. The keyboard itself is in the typical Mac style of translucent exterior plastic with a white layer underneath. The keys are white, and the keyboard layout is identical to the Apple keyboards that ship today, including the Mac OS X media keys for volume control and CD eject that are above the numeric keypad. The caps lock and num lock keys have LED lights right on the keys themselves. There are also the two USB ports on either side, similar to the Apple line.

Underneath the keyboard there are two riser stands to raise the angle of the keyboard. I’m not measuring this directly, but it seems quite a bit steeper of an angle and somewhat more sturdy than the current Apple keyboard, which is a good ergonomic decision.

The mechanical keyboard action feels excellent to type with. I personally have been using the softer-touch membrane-style keyboards for quite a long time, so I’m quite used to their feel. But this keyboard definitely has a nice touch response.

The one key that this keyboard has that the Apple keyboards lack is a power button at the top – a feature Apple removed in their latest revision of their keyboard. The button is handy, but it seems like it sinks a bit deep in to it’s setting. But damn, what a minor nit to pick about.

Since we’re on nits – the CD eject key does not eject disks mounted from my external SmartDisk FireWire CD-R/W drive, but I think this is due to the Mac OS itself. Also, this keyboard’s clickety-clack sound is quite a bit louder than a membrane-based keyboard. It seems loud even for a mechanical keyboard. Lastly, the surface area of the Return key is a bit farther to the right than I am used to, so I often hit the backslash ( ) key by mistake, but I’ve already learned to adjust for that. Every keyboard is slightly different. (Except for the Microsoft ergonomic keyboards with the bizarre arrow keys – those are completely whacked.)

But those are minor issues. Overall, this keyboard is an excellent keyboard to replace an old one that has been destroyed (like mine which fell victim to Max when he poured apple juice all over it), for PowerBook users that seek an Apple-compatible external keyboard, and most of all for those who want that old-style mechanical feel and response. This is the first 3rd-party keyboard that I have seen that was clearly designed specifically for the Mac OS X market, and it is working great.