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Thursday, May 22, 2008

A longing...

God give us strength, courage, and wisdom to discuss race and religion...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Open is not just for code anymore

Ok, I know this is not really a new thing, but my discovery of it for myself is recent.

I really like these two artists (haven't tried too many so far). This site seems to have a nice selection and interface.

First is Josh Woodward's The Simple Life. This is mostly pop-folk which could easily be on commercial radio, yet this individual has generously put it under a non-commercial license which even allows derivative works. A nice selection of songs. "Memorized", "Afterglow", and "Go" could surely become hits, "Shadows in the Moonlight" has a pleasant retro feel. "The Mission" and "Me and Billy Barnum" provide other genres. The songs are well-produced yet keep some nice idiosyncrasies. Some songs remind me of REM.

Pierre Lacroix's work is under a non-commercial license as well, and has some really nifty mellow pieces, a few of which sound like the Beatles: "On the Road Again" on the Sunshine album is interesting. "Nobody Care" on his album "The River" is also a memorable one. Some have the feel of Bob Dylan, and there are mellow instrumentals. Across his albums (I downloaded all I think) here are a few songs that I didn't care too much for (maybe 20%), but overall there are some really enjoyable songs. The production sounds like it was recorded in the early-mid 1900's like it was playing on an old radio, yet it seems to work for the music. The music is not overproduced, and in a few cases, I think is underproduced.

Others can surely give better synopses and commentary, but I just enjoyed them enough to plug them a little...

I really dig this open music phenomenon and hope it will challenge the status quo way of doing things.

Love to hear my bud Caleb's thoughts on this... You have any music you'd release this way? I hear Nine Inch Nails and a few other mainstream artists are trying this out a little (for a few of their songs in the hope people may go and buy others). A Brazilian musician (and the culture minister) who is a proponent of and is releasing his music under "copyleft" licenses was an interesting person to read about.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Some rationales behind Visa restrictions

Ok, I'm not quite as exasperated as before. I talked to a woman at the consulate who was extremely helpful in answering my questions and being genuinely empathic (though I'm unfortunately still stuck in the same position as before) and restoring some faith in the sanity of the system (though certainly not the people who burden the system).

1) I asked her whether "green card marriages" (her word) were significant enough that some laxness could not occur for the sake of those of us who honestly just want to visit, our relatives and she replied to the effect that there were in fact quite a large portion (relative to the total fraud?) as such marriages. She also mentioned how human smuggling/trafficking (man is that heinously despicable) is particularly prominent in the provinces served by that consulate (I guess for those who are deceived to voluntarily visit, because they must apply for the interview themselves and unaccompanied...) as well as a very high number of general visa fraud mixed in with the high volume of people seeking visitor visas (though I still believe a U.S. citizen ought to get some kind of special hearing, both because we are citizens and because the numbers are less--I think ideally tourist visa interviews could allow a U.S. citizen spouse to attend).

2) The reason she said visiting is restricted, even though we are married, while immigration is not, is because the standard is lower for those who visit the U.S. and then apply for immigration there (apparently since the authorities are overtaxed in the U.S.). Those expressly intending to immigrate from abroad have to prove stronger financial support, etc. (though again, I don't think we should need to apply for immigration with its requirement of a return visit each year, the need for her to file taxes, etc.).

3) The visa application process is up to an individual's decision for visitor visas, but the immigration process is governed more specifically by certain laws.

Anyways, this still leaves those couples or individual spouses who don't wish or aren't able to go back to visit the U.S. every year (or have the hassle of filing income taxes), in a very nasty position. I guess the lesson is, if you actually dare to get married to the person you love who is a foreign national, be sure to have lots of money to be able to travel back-and-forth for the sake of satisfying the bureaucracy. Ok, that's my bitterness talking, and while I should view this as just an accidental unfixed problem, and whereas I really should be more upset about the diseased monsters who exploit the innocent and thereby create this situation for the rest of us, about the need for poverty alleviation and development programs to curb the demand for immigration, and about the lack of scruples which characterize those who would deceive their own or another government, but I still hope some way can be found to make things fair for those of us who are innocent of all of this. C'mon, a wife can't visit her husband's family?

I am glad for one thing though... At least I can see now that the system itself has some rationale reason why they are forced to put up some barriers, even if I think a better way needs to be provided for the innocent to get around them.

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