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The Weekly Blab 5.12

The Weekly Blab

Volume 5, Issue 12—November 8, 2010



Kind of a blah weekend. 


First, my wife Jill had a cold on Friday, and promptly transferred it to my son Mark, who got it on Sunday morning.  I then got it on Sunday afternoon, and was praying to the porcelain all day.  Blah!


The election is over, and at least we don’t have to suffer through those horrible campaign ads any longer.  I have no idea why people put up with this—it’s pretty clear that the only thing that counts to politicians of any party is getting reelected, and no charge is too low and no lie is too ridiculous to be stated in order to win.  Blah!  The only consolation is that it has ever been thus, and somehow, against all the odds, American democracy has managed to muddle through. 


Even beloved Chelsea had the blahs, losing to Liverpool 2-0, and reducing its lead in the premiership to a thin 2 points.  Blah!


The Week in Review

The big event was on Wednesday, when it was down to Macon for the fall Regents Advisory Committee on Academic Affairs (RACAA) meeting.  There were a number of reviews of what’s going on at the BoR, and some chances to catch up with some friends from other universities.  Something that will be affecting us is that the state auditors have decreed that we can no longer do extra compensation in the way we’ve been doing it.  Instead, we’ll have to write a contract amendment each time you get extra comp for something, so it may be that a given individual will have several amendments every semester.  Depending on other legal interpretations (about to be looked into) related to deductions and retirement pay, this may be as simple as changing forms or it may be more complicated.  Changes will take effect spring semester.


Also discussed was the BoR decision to prohibit undocumented students from attending any state university that turned away any students who met entrance requirements (UGA, Georgia Tech, Georgia State, the Medical College, and Georgia College and State U).  It is likely, we were told, that the legislature will not be satisfied with this, and will pass a bill forbidding all state universities from accepting any undocumented students.


Thursday was the soup cook-off, and a fine spread of soup there was.  Judging the chili cook-off is easier, because homemade chili encompasses a narrower range of possibilities than homemade soup.  Anyway, congratulations to all the entrants—there wasn’t a bad one in the bunch, even including some things I normally don’t like (for example, there was a squash soup that tasted like vanilla ice cream!).   The Polytechnic Summit meeting was at 2 PM, and we’re getting close to having the official announcement and call for papers sent out, hopefully this week.  Then, at 3 PM, I was on Google Chat talking to a workshop being held in Detroit.  Rich Halstead-Nussloch (IT) was there live, and it somehow seemed right to link into an e-Citizenship conference in an online fashion.  It’s unbelievable how things have changed.  I’m reminded that back in the earlier days of computing, I had bought my parents a modem for their computer and sent them their first file (a bunch of Disney clip art for my mother, who taught 1st grade) over the phone lines.  When I called back to make sure they had received it and asked what they thought, my father replied: “It’s the end of communism.”  When I asked him what he was talking about, he said: “In a world where you can send computer files over the phone, it can no longer work to license typewriters to keep people from communicating freely.”  Ah Dad—he knew everything.


History of Immigration Laws

The RACAA discussion of undocumented students prompted me to do a little research into the history of immigration laws in the US.  There were basically no immigration laws at all prior to 1875, although the Naturalization Act of 1790 limited naturalization to “free white persons” of “good moral character”.   The first major immigration law was the Page Act of 1875.  The act classified as undesirable (and thus forbade entry) to any laborer from China, any Asian woman who would engage in prostitution, and any convict.  The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 extended these prohibitions, and also banned any Chinese immigrant from citizenship.  The Asiatic Barred Zone Act of 1917 extended these prohibitions to pretty much all of Asia and much of the Pacific.


The farthest reaching immigration law was passed in 1924.  Known as the Johnson-Reed act, it set national quotas for all European nations based on the census of 1890, which pretty much cut off immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe (for example, from 1900-1910, some 200,000 immigrants per year came from Italy.  After the law, this number was restricted to 4,000).   The goal (explicitly stated in the debate) was to prevent the US from being overrun by Slavs and Jews, who had been “proven to be mentally inferior” in longitudinal intelligence testing done in the US military in World War I.  [Read Stephen J. Gould’s book The Mismeasure of Man for a detailed discussion of the fallacies in the US Army intelligence testing].  Tying quotas to the census of 1890 made sure that the quotas would favor Nordic nations, and exclude the undesired groups.  Interestingly, no quotas were set for immigrants from the Americas—unlimited numbers could immigrate from Mexico or Canada, provided they could prove they had lived in those countries for two years prior to immigration. 


Between 1929 and 1939, in part due to lack of jobs due to the Depression, as many as 1 million Mexicans (and many immigrant Europeans) were forced or “encouraged” to leave the United States through a policy deceptively named Repatriation, many of whom were citizens.  In addition, by presidential order, the immigration quotas were reduced by more than 90% during the Depression. 


Immigration from Mexico was also regulated via various public laws, which allowed Mexicans to work in the US for set periods of time, before their employer were required to return them to Mexico.  Many went “underground” when their contracts expired, and many employers never provided the required transportation back to Mexico.  In 1954, “Operation Wetback” was implemented, aimed at identifying and expelling illegal Mexican workers in the southwest.  Ultimately, some 130,000 Mexicans were deported, and the INS estimated that 1.2 million left “voluntarily”.   Then, as now, the large number of illegal immigrants came because of work opportunities—they often worked for significantly less than native workers, and many large agricultural enterprises tried to stop any quotas being imposed.  Western hemisphere immigration was restricted for the first time by the Hart-Cellar act (which also abolished national quotas) to 120,000 per year, not including family reunification.  In amended form, the Hart-Cellar act is still the current basis of US immigration law.


Letter from Tajikistan—Follow-up

As mentioned in last week’s BLOB, Prof. Omar Zia (ECET) is currently on a Fulbright in Tajikistan.   He sent me some pictures (one of which is available here), and we have since heard from Yelena Zigangirova, Director of Cooperative Partnerships at the Innovative University of Eurasia in Kazakhstan, expressing interest in various kinds of exchange programs.


Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest was on the United Nations.  Out winner was Li Chen (Library), first in with a fabulous five out of five.


1.  What earlier organization did the U.N. replace?  The League of Nations

2.  In what US city was the organizing conference for the U.N. held (where the Charter was written)? San Francisco

3.  Who are the five permanent members of the U.N.? United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China

4.  Who was the first secretary general of the U.N.? Trygve Lie

5.  Which of the six original principal agencies of the U.N. has ceased operations, and why?

The Trusteeship Council.  The last trusteeship gained independence.



This Week’s Trivia Contest:

Since I’m off to China on the 13th, this week’s contest will focus on China.

1.  What is the capital of China?

2.  Who was the last emperor of China (there was a movie about this)?

3.  What is the main river in China?

4.  What was the name of the volunteer American fliers that supported China against Japan at the beginning of World War II?

5.  What was the last dynasty of China?


The BLAB will return upon my return!