More Jingoist H1B Politics

USA Today, Fox News, and others are running blindly with the US government propaganda campaign, “Chinese Spying on the Rise!”  The message you are supposed to get is that “all Chinese high-tech workers in USA are spies”.  This is part of the ongoing battle of the politicians to kick out anyone with education and talent, and instead turn USA into a low-cost labor pool.

The so-called journalists should be ashamed.  These stories selectively pick out some anecdotes (from 1987, no less) and present a skewed and one-sided story.  Read the USA Today article, and replace every instance of “Chinese person spying” with “Black person mugging a white person”.  It is quite possible for a reporter to find statistics of several “black people mugging white people” and present them in sequential order to paint a picture of “black on white crime on the rise!”  But it would be unethical, immoral, and dishonest.  Such a reporter could claim that he was “just presenting the facts”, but he should be fired anyway.

To be balanced, the article should mention that the U.S. does this to China all the time.  It should also mention that other countries do this to the U.S. all the time.  And it should mention that the “bad apples” are a diminuitively small portion of the overall Chinese immigrant population (the article smears “Chinese high tech workers”, a clear reference to H1-B, when the actual culprits were all citizens).  What percentage of Chinese immigrants are criminals versus other immigrant groups?  The article gives us no insight into this, instead expecting us to believe that all Chinese high tech workers are spies.

No American journalist could write about other minority groups this way and keep his job.  Why China, and why now?

I think the answer lies in more than just H1-B politics.  George Bush has been trying to pick a fight with China since his first day in office.  The Democrats are no better — the “food/toothpaste quality” scare and the “global warming credits” are both ways to put economic pressure on China.  This is all a concerted anti-China propaganda effort, and it’s shameful that reporters are falling for it.  We had 200 years of virtually uninterrupted freedom of the press.  Let’s not give it up so easily.

H1-B Visa Politics

Senators Durban and Grassley are now sounding the alarm over H1-B Visa applications, claiming that big evil Indian outsourcing firms are scamming the system to move American jobs overseas.

Sorry, but I don’t buy their reasoning.  The facts are laid out in the most prejudiced manner possible, and even then the numbers don’t add up to alarm.  Basically, we find that Wipro and Infosys “rotate” about 1,000 people from U.S. back to India per year.  That’s all.  That’s the whole story.

For starters, we’re talking about a pool of 65,000 visas that disappears in just 2 days.  If Grassley is worried that 1,000 of those visas could have gone to people who are more likely to put down roots in America, he should just vote to up the quota.  The demand so completely outweighs supply that it’s pointless to argue about 1,000 visas.

Next, the idea that people given H1-B Visas shouldn’t be permitted to go back to their country of origin is absurd.  Many outright citizens are going back to China and India to resettle and do business, why would it be different for H1-B visa holders?  Perhaps if the number were something like 50%, that would be a different story, but where do you draw the line?  Is 1 of 65 really a “scam”?

Finally, they seem concerned that Wipro and Infosys are “foreign-owned”.  Who cares?  If an American company bought Infosys, would that make everything suddenly better?  The fact is, the entire American industry depends on these two companies, and whether we decide to purchase them outright is a simple business decision that has nothing to do with politics.  These two companies have higher ratios of rotation, but that’s due to the nature of their business.  The senators seem to think that rotation should be evenly distributed across all companies, which makes no sense.  And the moment you admit that rotation will be distributed unevenly, you have a factor that can be used by alarmist senators to pick out and victimize some companies.

Of course, to the extent that these companies are using rotation to keep employees in virtual indentured servitude, we have reason to complain.  That is, if there is a significant portion of rotated employees who would rather stay in the U.S. and put down roots, the H1-B visa system should apply pressure to make that possible.  But I don’t see the senators investigating that, and in fact the alarmist and isolationist policies are largely to blame for the fact that skilled workers are being driven to leave the U.S. after getting experience.

Lessons Learned from Truemors Failure

Truemors launched yesterday, and the blogosphere is already analyzing “what went wrong”.  Although the name sounds like a combination between “tumors” and “tremors”, it’s too early to declare it a failure.  The world needs another place to leak Apple secrets, and the voting feature will help moderate impact of hoaxes like the Engadget “scoop” yesterday.  Let’s give it a chance.

Open Sourcing Flex

Last week I bumped into Ted Leung at a party near Moscone in San Francisco.  Since he wasn’t attending the conference, and he normally works from home here in the Northwest, I assumed he was doing something interesting.  He wouldn’t give me many details, and I figured he would blog about it soon.  Turns out he was (among other things) lobbying Adobe to open-source Flex.

From what I can tell, Adobe looks to be trying to make some news out of thin air right now.  As Ted observes, it’s a promise to open up some really non-essential parts of the platform.  This can’t be too exciting to Google or Mozilla, so I assume it’s just an attempt to generate a bit of incremental goodwill.


Update: John Dowdell at Adobe accuses me of hiding my Microsoft affiliation, suggesting “sockpuppetry and skullduggery”.  Considering that this post was categorized as “Life at Microsoft” and the “about” link prominently displayed at top-right is clear about where I work, one would expect that to be clear.  After 7 years of blogging and never having been accused of hiding my affiliation, a google on my name or the name of the blog reveals my employment as well.  But just in case anyone reading this post is still confused, I WORK AT MICROSOFT!  (How that makes Adobe’s announcement more or less significant, I don’t know)

Update 2: John offered to buy me a beer, so I guess I’ll chill out about it 🙂  I even blogged about using Flex to build a sample Apollo app last week, so it’s not like I’m a total shill!

Bloggers Other Cheek

Bill O’Reilly today is bragging that he forced John Edwards to fire two bloggers who said bad things about Christians.  The other reporters say that the bloggers resigned on their own, but O’Reilly seems intent on proving that he’s a powerful man and not to be messed with.  Apparently the notoriously lecherous and sexist O’Reilly has now coronated himself defender of the Virgin Mary.  I bet she’s overjoyed.

To prove his point, he baited a democratic party operative to say, “I would not have fired the Christian-bashers, but I would have fired anti-semites or gay-bashers”.

O’Reilly acts as if he has uncovered some great hypocrisy on the part of democrats, but he instead demonstrates an utter ignorance of Judeao-Christian philosophy — and sets a terribly dangerous precedent.  At least he doesn’t claim to be anything other than an apostate blowhard; he is certainly not in the mainstream.

It is true that the bloggers made crude, juvenile, and offensive comments in the past.  So what?  These are kids who were raised in a Christian milieu and are unhappy about the world they find themselves in.  Kids criticizing their Judeao-Christian upbringing is a stereotypical rite of passage, not aberrant.  Today as when I was a kid, teen angst groups like The Thermals and Death Cab for Cutie capitalize on these themes — not because Christians are an oppressed minority — but because these issues are top of mind for kids from Duluth to Calgary.  This is a far cry from isolated bigots making anti-semitic or gay-bashing comments.

And the admonitions of “judge not” and “nothing hidden shall remain hidden” are as deep as it gets in Judeao-Christian philosophy.  Silencing critics is part of Scientology’s playbook, not Christ’s.

Bill O’Reilly seems to think that voters would do better if the truth is hidden.  He would rather that the campaigns employ angst-ridden kids and keep it a secret.  This is mentality that leads to e-mail deletion (nee “retention”) policies.  The judgmentalists would rather that George W. Bush do sneaky things in smoke-filled rooms than in e-mail (where he can at least confess from the grave).  O’Reilly forgets completely “turn the other cheek”, an admonition which itself is misunderstood.  Cheek-turning has nothing to do with redeeming oneself, and nothing to do with heaping coals of earthly contempt upon an aggressor.  And it certainly has nothing to do with changing another’s heart through “setting a good example”.


Intel Chip Fab: Goodbye Silicon Dioxide

Let’s give this video some link love.  I liked the Bad Sinatra video better, but this is newsworthy.

Valleywag got the details wrong, twisted and distorted the truth.  Why is everyone still hating on Scoble?  70 interviews with CEOs in 6 months.  That’s incredible.  It’s like a crash course in Silicon Valley business.  Valleywag should partner with Podtech.

Brier Still Doesn’t

When everyone beat me up for speaking the truth about pretexting, I argued that “it wasn’t clearly illegal when Dunn did it”.  I was, like many others, assuming that the hasty California law passage would take hold.

Who would have thought?  The law flopped.  It’s still not clearly illegal.

OK, we know that Brier doesn’t pretext, and neither does Scoble.  I’m still trying to find out who I really am, but I don’t knowingly pretext.  But the three of us being great people doesn’t change the fact that it happens — a LOT.

What really intrigues me, though, is how the press again turns this into a boogey dance.  “Bad MPAA!!”.  “Everyone hates pretexting; only Dunn (and now MPAA) do it!!”

Are we to really believe that only MPAA, and Dunn were doing it?  Who was paying all of those P.I.s?  This whole fiasco has changed absolutely nothing.  If there is a lesson to be learned, it is “don’t investigate reporters the same way you would investigate a cheating spouse, or they’ll ruin you”.  Everyone else can apparently pretext away indiscriminately.  Some custodians we have.


Yahoo! Peanut Butter?

Everyone is chattering about the Yahoo! Peanut Butter Manifesto.  Every BigCo has problems of overlap, lack of accountability, and people who think those problems are worse or better than they really are.

In this case, though, I’m a bit confused by the memo.  Everyone knows that Flickr and Delicious are tiny compared to the competing Yahoo! properties.  But they are undisputed #1 in their respective spaces in influential mindshare.  Every company wishes that they could appeal to 50 million normal people *and* the 57,000 who read TechCrunch.  Yahoo! has succeeded at this in two important categories.

I mean, is Joshua Schacter’s org *that* expensive?  Are they really causing chaos with the other teams?

And while the memo lacks specificity and reads like a “phone in” complaint, there is something more disturbing about it, IMO.  Why was it leaked?  And why are people making such a big deal of it (no doubt the one is related to the other)?

 It’s true that our industry is becoming more “Hollywood”, but it is getting ridiculous.  Brad and Jen split?  Calcanis dis’d Digg!!  TomKat married?  Diller and Murdoch are duking it out again!  There’s a new bond girl?  A Yahoo! VP is a straight-talking big gun taking on the establishment!

When people who are supposed to be making good technology and business decisions start playing to the adoring/ignorant public, you have to question their motives (not that Garlinghouse did this deliberately; I don’t know).  It’s great for Zhang that gold-digging province girls know his name and availability — but less so for Garlinghouse.  Unlike Zhang, he has bosses who look bad with a memo like this.  Whether he released this deliberately to make a name for himself, or someone released it to get him in trouble, it’s not too good for him.


Due Credit

Don Park, you should know better!  Don comments on the “Add Live Search to Your Site” announce, saying “better late than never”, and “nice reactive move”.  Does he really think that we saw Google’s announce, and then real quick-like, implemented the feature and shipped it in response?

The fact is, both we and Google were working on the feature for a while.  I commend Google for shipping a day or two earlier than us.  It’s hard to say who started first, but I would be interested in Don’s best guess about the probability that Google knows which products we’re “secretly” developing versus us knowing what they’re secretly developing.  At least he notes that we shipped; next is to give some credit to Yahoo for leading both of us in some respects.

Defending Dunn

Now Scoble is demanding that the entire HP board resign.  I love how people are backtracking now that it looks like Perkins and the others stink a lot worse than Dunn. 

Scoble is lamenting the death of the “HP way”.  Was the “HP way” the completely irrational (and overtly offensive) way that the old boys tore into Fiorina, ignored her contributions, and ousted her at the expense of the company?  Then, when the entire industry is finally realizing that Fiorina was good for HP, perpetrate some nonsense like this and try to pin it on the only woman left?

From what we can deduce so far, Perkins was up to his elbows in this.  Valleywag reporting that Sonsini told Perkins pretexting was legal (it was; I challenge any of these oh-so-sanctimonious journalists to prove that they never used pretexting for any of their investigative journalism).  The other things Perkins and others on the board were doing is just cheesy bad spy-novel stuff.  Don’t think that every other Fortune 500 compant doesn’t have wanna-be spies doing the same stupid crap.

The way I see it, Perkins knew who the leaker was, and didn’t want his friend to fold.  And he saw an opportunity to get rid of Dunn by advising her to force lie-detector tests down her peers’ throats.  She was not stupid enough to shoot herself in the foot like that, and surprised him by revealing the traitor in an open meeting of the board.  This made Perkins look really bad, but WTF was he doing trying to shield a friend and screw Dunn over anyway?  (Note, this is pure speculation based on the record so far and the statements of Perkins and Dunn).

The only remarkable thing about all of this, IMO, is the way that Perkins chose to react.  He was clearly beat at the point Dunn made her revelation to the board.  He could have sat back down, decided to be a team player, and worked it out with the rest of the board.  He could have insisted, as he had given his word as a man to do, that his friend resign.  Instead, he said “no fair; I only agreed to follow the rules if I win!”.  He pulled the trigger on his self-destruct vest and did the one thing that would almost certainly mean disaster for the whole board.

The crap about “it was unethical, it was my duty to be a whistleblower” is just putrid.  The more you find out about what he DID know and was just fine with, the less you can understand how he would be freaked out about the perfectly legal hiring of a PI to do what these guys do hundreds of times every day.  No, the truth is that Perkins was a poor sport and decided to destroy the entire HP board instead of admit defeat to a woman.

Of course, “kill the company rather than let a woman be boss” is exactly what we saw with Fiorina, so I shouldn’t be surprised.  But I wouldn’t expect Scoble to be a fan of that “HP way”.  And I would expect Scoble to be honest about his past errors in making broad brushstrokes regarding Dunn.