Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Chase The Wind Around The World - I Want To Look At Life...In The Available Light

Two things today, both on the hippie green front. The first is from Ana, from whom I received an e-mail message asking for petition signatures to let IDEM know that Hoosiers are opposed to a new plan by BP to dump several more tons of toxic material into Lake Michigan - material that will come from their expanding refinery operation in Whiting, Indiana

Click here to go to the U.S. PIRG petition to oppose this increase in water pollution.

I waffled on this one, at first. They say that one of the reasons gas prices have been going up is because there hasn't been a new refinery built in the United States in a generation. That would, on the surface, make it seem as though expanded refinery operations would be beneficial, since they would, in theory, help to bring down gas prices.

But that's a short-term fix, and it wouldn't even be guaranteed to be a fix. It's possible that gas prices might go down a bit if we the people ramped up refinery operations. That only increases business and profits for corporations, though, and I don't care for that. It also puts more heavy industry online, and I don't care for that, either. It's time for our dependence on fossil fuels to go away - so that we stop pouring garbage into our lakes and streams and stop spewing garbage into our air.

There are two sources of energy out there that are virtually untapped and renewable in perpetuity - the sun and the wind. Hell, if someone had just hooked up a windmill to George Bush the moment he was sworn in, he'd have generated enough electricity by now to power Sri Lanka! All of that hot air, just wasted - if he had had a windmill hooked up to him, he might have accomplished something by now.

Speaking of the wind, here's another petition. This one is from MoveOn - and I know that very phrase scares the hell out of you right-wingers out there, but hey...the way you nimrods deep throat the Second Amendment scares the hell out of the rest of us, so there! - and encourages Congress to pass House Resolution 969, a bill that would increase our use of renewable energy, such as solar and wind energy.

Click here to sign the MoveOn petition, and click here for more information on the House Resolution in question.

Building more refineries and continuing to allow big business to poison our air and our water - not to mention hoard all of the money while their lowest-paid workers avoid going to the doctor because they don't have health insurance - isn't going to fix anything; and signing a couple of petitions might not be much, but it's something - just like it's something to take your recyclable stuff to the recycling bins rather than throwing it away. Hell, just let your junk mail pile up for a week, then drive it by one of those bright green-and-yellow ABITIBI Paper Retriever bins once a week on your way to work - those things are everywhere, too, in the parking lots of just about any school, library, or church you pass. Just by doing that one thing, you'll be amazed at how much less trash you take out to the curb every week.

I've signed both petitions. Every little bit counts. And don't be fooled by big business. Unless you're a (big) shareholder, they don't give a shit about you.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix

After Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, it became necessary to accept that the four films to follow would have to contain considerably less material than the novels from which they were culled. For those of us who love books, it is always with trepidation that we consider how stories we have loved in print will be botched if they are made into movies. (Atlas Shrugged is either my favorite or second-favorite novel of all time, depending on my mood, and I dread the day it is made into a film. So much will be left out that no one who loves the book will be able to stomach the movie, and no one who hasn't read the book will have any idea what's going on.) It was especially difficult to imagine how Phoenix the novel was to be turned into Phoenix the film, given that it is the longest and most densely plotted of the Harry Potter novels.

Phoenix: 138 minutes
Goblet: 157 minutes
Azkaban: 142 minutes
Chamber: 161 minutes
Stone: 152 minutes

The average of the pre-Phoenix films is 153 minutes - or to put it another way, the average Harry Potter movie so far has been 15 minutes shorter than Phoenix, which was adapted from the longest of the novels. Surely an extra 15 minutes could have been added at some point along the line - perhaps in Hagrid’s tale of going to the Giants (who could use some help since Tiki Barber retired)...or in the expository elements at Number Twelve Grimmauld Place...or in the telling of how Fred and George leave Hogwarts (indeed, if you have not read the novel, this scene might leave you somewhat dissatisfied, as it is somewhat open-ended)...or in the expository elements that describe what Harry is seeing when he has his little spells throughout the picture (in the novel, it is explained that Harry, via his connection with Voldemort’s mind, is seeing the ways in which Voldemort is trying to gain the prophecy - this is explained in the film, but not well).

Be that as it may, the film actually flows pretty well, despite being stripped of most of its subplots and asides. The focus in the film is on the crackdown by the Ministry of Magic to hush up the “rumors” that Voldemort has returned in the flesh. They go to great pains to besmirch the names of both Harry Potter and Albus Dumbledore in the process, and install a Ministry stooge (Dolores Umbridge, played exquisitely by Imelda Staunton) as a teacher at Hogwarts to keep the students (especially Harry Potter) in line.

In turn, an anti-Voldemort group called - naturally - the Order of the Phoenix - is working just as hard to get information on Voldemort and prepare for the moment when Voldemort will reveal himself in the open. They know what Voldemort is after in the Department of Mysteries, and they work to keep that object safe. They acknowledge that war with Voldemort is coming, but they prepare themselves to face it, rather than launch preemptive strikes against “the enemy” and lower themselves to the Dark Lord’s level.

Indeed, this might be the most interesting thing to be taken from Phoenix the film - the allegory concerning good and evil, which is which, and how each demonstrates itself. It is a lesson the Bush administration might like to have had before they went running into Vietraq with no post-Saddam plan and no exit strategy. In fact...if you think about it...Harry Potter has the intelligence (on good authority, having gained it himself) that Voldemort is back. This is not, however, what the Ministry wishes to hear, so they suppress that intelligence and try to make Harry look bad.

In real life, it was Joe Wilson who had the intelligence (on good authority, having gained it himself by traveling to Niger) that Saddam Hussein was not trying to buy yellowcake uranium for nuclear weapons from that African country. The Bush administration did not want to hear that, because it would have weakened their already flimsy case for invading a country that had not attacked us and presented no threat to us. So they struck back at Wilson and outed his wife, Valerie Plame, as an undercover CIA agent.

Jo Rowling, however, has a better sense of justice. In her world, the Minister of Magic was sacked for his actions. George Bush has fired no one - and has even commuted the jail time of the one man convicted of a crime in the case. Scooter Libby - whom Bush will, of course, pardon at the end of his presidency - did not leak Valerie Plame’s name, but he lied about what he knew and when he knew it. (So did Nixon, but whatever.) Bush lied again - by allowing a convicted felon to go free after he promised that anyone in his administration who had anything to do with the leak would be held accountable. (Technically, of course, Libby was not on Bush’s staff - he was Darth Cheney’s chief of staff. But that’s how Bush always gets around the issue of accountability - by relying on technicalities.)

Not that Bush could have read Phoenix the novel in enough time to have been convinced of the error of his ways before invading Vietraq - the book came out in the summer of 2003, after we had already gone to war. Nor could it be said that Rowling wrote the book precisely as an allegory concerning the American President and his criminal actions.

It can be said - and is true - that Phoenix the film can be read as an allegory of the failed policies of the worst President in the history of the United States of America. I see it that way, and I can’t be the only one - although rank and file Americans are pretty fucking stupid, having voted for this piece of shit twice - and I hope that I am not the only one that sees it this way and writes about it (though I probably will be).

I also hope that George Bush sleeps well at night, knowing that he is responsible for more dead Americans than Osama bin Laden.

But I digress. I also hope that the acting career of Evanna Lynch, who plays Luna Lovegood, takes off. Not in any of the previous films has the acting of any of the child stars been worth mentioning - apart from the fact that Daniel Radcliffe does a decent job (and in this film really begins to show some understanding of facial expression and nuance). But Lynch as Luna is inspired, playing the quirky character with a breezy air that illustrates her quirks without making them off-putting.

In fact, the only thing I really didn’t care for is something that could in no way have been improved upon. With all due respect to Michael Gambon, the character of Albus Dumbledore simply does not sparkle on screen the same way it did when it was played by the late Richard Harris, whose Dumbledore filled the screen, his robes billowing all about, and brought an air of power and importance to every scene he was in. The costumes worn by Gambon - again, not his fault - by contrast, are shabby and meek. This is supposed to be the greatest wizard of the age, but he carries himself like a stranger coming out of the rain.

I am not as disappointed in what was left out as some people - say, my wife, for instance. I know that not everything from the books can make it into the movies, especially since we have passed the point when the books could be thought of as short (though neither of the two remaining books is as long as Phoenix the novel). But I feel bad for the people who don’t know the back story that isn’t revealed in the films. For me, these films are a treat because they let me see someone else’s vision of what I have been seeing in my head since I started reading (and re-reading and re-reading) these books. Unfortunately, the filmmakers have to run with the assumption that the vast majority of their viewers will be people who have read (and re-read and re-read) the novels. The assumption is true, of course, but that does nothing to diminish the fact that there are people watching these films who are missing much of what makes the stories so captivating. And that is a shame.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Welcome To Earth - Third Rock From The Sun

I'm at work the other night, talking with a couple of my guys, and during the course of the conversation, one of them mentions that the funniest headline he had heard in the news all week was this:

Man Beats Peacock To Death Because He Thought It Was A Vampire - And they say in the article that this guy might have been mentally disturbed. What I'm wondering is where in the thought process did this idea come up? I wonder this because if it wasn't first, then I think we should worry about the cops on Staten Island.

Of course, when it rains, it pours. Or, when one exotic animal dies, the floodgates open. I came across this not long after:

Man Allegedly Kills Zebra In Drive-By Shooting - No mention of mental illness in this one. Maybe alcohol was a factor?

A little closer to home, we have this:

Serial Killer May Have Killed Before - Go ahead, click on it. That's what it actually says. Serial killer may have killed before. Seems like he would have to have done, right? Otherwise, they'd have to think of something else to call him. Like just plain old killer. How much click-through revenue would that have generated?

And this one, while not a story in the news that has a link to it, is funny (a little) nonetheless. We took Jackson down to the Canal Walk last night, and while we were driving out there, we passed a woman driving a little white car, with a cigarette in one hand and a Starbucks drink in the other. I was just sure that she had one of those In God We Trust license plates on her car, but she did not. We went by her again at one point, and she had the cigarette and the Starbucks cup in the SAME HAND. That time, I was sure she had her cell phone in her other hand, but that also turned out not to be true. You know when you listen to the traffic report on the radio and hear about a "vehicle fire with entrapment?" It's because of people like that.

Meanwhile, back on earth, I touched a shark this afternoon at the zoo. The new Oceans exhibit is open (has been for awhile, actually), and today was the first chance we had to go check it out. I did not know ahead of time, however, that we were going to go to the zoo - otherwise I would have taken the camera - so I don't have any zoo pics to post. Amy suggested it after lunch, and it sounded like a good idea, so there you go.

Before that, we got sandwiches from Jimmy John's and sat down on the steps of Monument Circle to eat lunch. Then we walked over to that place that used to be The Cozy, then was The Blue Cactus, then became The Cozy again, very briefly - Pennsylvania Street, between Market and Washington. We had passed it in the car on the way to Jimmy John's and I thought I saw something different in the window - and when we went back, I found out that I was right. Now it's a second location for Vito Provolone's, one of the fine Italian restaurants in our fair city. The original location is way the hell down on the south side, where 135 and Stop 11 intersect. This new one is much closer to where we live now, although there has not been much (read, any) going out to dinner since Jack was born. Takeout, on the other hand, will work. I remember the tortellini fondly - spinach pasta stuffed with ricotta and romano cheese, served with tomato and Alfredo sauces.

Oh yeah...

Sunday, July 15, 2007

His Mind Is Not For Rent To Any God Or Government

You may or may not have heard of a place called The Tie Dye Grill, out on the good old east side. It's a family-run joint with a - surprise! - hippie theme that serves up pretty standard bar-and-grill type food (cue a groan from Scott). Amy and I have eaten there a few times and have been pleased with the fare. You can check out the menu on their website. If you like a good, quality hamburger, though, you can't do much better in these parts.

I called in an order for us tonight, dashed over to pick it up, and queued up behind the handful of people ahead of me on line at the counter. One of the guys who runs the place gave me a wave and asked how I was doing. They're friendly like that - and, unlike when the staff at chain restaruants say similar things, these people mean it. As I'm standing there in line, I become aware of a sound to my left. They have a big-screen television in one corner of the dining room, which usually has some kind of music program playing on it, and that was what had caught my ear.

I turned to glance at the television and was more than a little surprised to see Geddy, Alex, and Neil thrashing away at "Tom Sawyer," from the Rush In Rio DVD. I had never seen the DVD, although I do own the three-disc CD version of it. "Tom Sawyer" is not quite the same thing that is used to be at a live Rush show. The boys have slowed with age, so the tempo of the song has come down, and they no longer bring it out to surprise you at some point during the show - it's probably the toughest song in their live set for Neil to play, so they open with it now. Otherwise, he would be too worn out to play it later on.

Listening to their music is nothing to seeing them play - especially if you get copious overhead shots of the Professor on the drum kit. Below is a shot of the Professor with the drum kit he used on the R30 tour, to give you some idea (for the non-Rush fans) of all of the different things Neil has that he can hit with his drumsticks. The picture is from the R30 tour book, nicely cropped to wallpaper size and available for download at a Rush fan site called Power Windows, which has lots of good Rush stuff, although the crown jewel is the page of desktop pictures taken from album covers and tour books over the whole of their career.

So immersed was I in watching this concert DVD that I did not notice that my place in line had come up until the guy at the counter hollered my total and said that my order was ready to go. I was pretty sure it was the Rush In Rio DVD that was playing, but I asked just to make sure, and he said that it was - and he also said that if I was ever dining in and wanted to watch it, that I could ask and they would throw it in. "We take requests," he said. Take that, you foul chain restaurants.

After we finished eating, Amy fed Jackson, and then handed him off to me for the burping. He didn't burp much, though, and instead fell asleep. And for a wonder, he stayed asleep. It seems as though he might be getting used to me - and might even like me a little bit, who knows? He stayed asleep there on my chest long enough for us to watch A Few Good Men. I asked Amy to snap a picture of this rare phenomenon - and said picture follows.

Now playing on iTunes:
"Tom Sawyer" by Rush, from Rush In Rio

Monday, July 09, 2007

More Baby Pictures

We had four generations of my family at my parents' house this evening, and several people on my mom's side got to see Jackson for the first time. My dad grilled ribs that he coated with dry rub yesterday, and my mom baked a peach pie. A number of pictures were taken. Here are but a few:

Four Generations

"I believe I have soiled myself, ma..."

Okay, that last one wasn't from today. Amy took that one at our house last night while I was at work.

(I'm experimenting with captions here. I don't officially know how to do it - if there is an official way. I had to copy and paste some code from one of Shane's posts and then tweak it to make the caption look right. I'm sure there's an easier way to do it, but I'm one of those dinosaurs who learned how to code HTML by hand.)

Friday, July 06, 2007

MORE Amazing True Stories!

Here’s the kind of cutting-edge excitement I have at work some days. Today, I got to take apart a couple of electronic urinal flush valves to try to figure out why they weren’t working.

Used to be that I would never go near that kind of thing - but at some point since I started working at Landmark, my philosophy about trying to fix things has changed. Instead of just looking at something and trying to figure out who would be the best person to call to fix it, I have actually adopted the practice of simply taking apart whatever it is that isn’t working - at least until I get to the part that isn’t working.

Anyway...I didn’t spend eleven hours on that today, but I did spend eleven hours at work. I called the Oriental Inn before I left and ordered some vegetable lo mein (yes...vegetable lo mein), picked it up on the way home, and got home to find Amy - surprise! - feeding Jackson.

By the way, Jackson is one month old today - woo hoo!

Anyway, she was watching TV, and apparently the only thing on was a show called Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? I have avoided this show because it just seems wrong in some way to watch grown men and women embarrass themselves for what are positively obscene amounts of money. Plus Jeff Foxworthy is unfunny.

If you kick ass and take names on Jeopardy!, you can go home with maybe $50,000 from one game. Maybe. On this fifth grader show, the following question, had the contestant attempted it and gotten it right, would have been worth a cool million - and that’s in United States dollars, presumably.

Who was the first Secretary of the Treasury?

You know how long it takes to win a million on Jeopardy!? Remember Ken Jennings, the guy who won seventy-odd games of Jeopardy! a couple of summers ago? He was on Jeopardy! all summer and won a little over two million dollars. But you can go on this fifth grader thing and win a million by knowing who the first Secretary of the Treasury was.

But that’s not the best part. The contestant who was on when I sat down with my vegetable lo mein - which came with rice, for some reason - was set this mind-numbing bit of trivia:

What is the only continent that is also a country?

She stood there and pondered for a few seconds, thinking out loud. “Well, North America is.” As though that were the most obvious thing in the world. Then she actually named off all seven continents, out loud! (Remarkably, she actually knew all seven continents.) But then she couldn’t make up her mind which one was the right answer. She chose, instead, to walk away - to take the money she had already won, rather than risk losing everything (or whatever) if she got it wrong. Once she had made her decision, Mr. Foxworthy asked her what her answer would have been.

(This is the payoff, by the way. You all have followed along admirably to this point, and you’re about to be rewarded. But you might want to sit down first, or hold on to something sturdy. Here’s what she said.)

“Well...all of them, right?”

Swear to Darwin. That’s what she said.

The answer, of course, was Australia - and I have no good explanation for why both of my Amazing True Stories posts have tilted on Australia. It is odd, however. And I figured something light was in order after that last post.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

It's Three Days Drive From Bakersfield, And I Don't Know Why I Came - I Guess I Came To Keep From Paying Dues

Got an e-mail the other day, listing fourteen reasons to deport illegal immigrants. At first I was repulsed, of course, mostly at the amount of bile being ejected into the ether by this list of “reasons.” But then I calmed down a bit, took a deep breath, and decided to retort - there are two sides to every story, and this e-mail posits but one of those sides. The four paragraphs quoted below are taken from this report, quoted extensively in the e-mail.

I don’t want this to be seen as a personal attack against anyone (though I am afraid that it might be) - rather, it should be seen as yet another of my liberal rantings. It should also be noted that my wife teaches English as a Second Language to mostly Mexican students - which probably means that my perspective is skewed. See, if you just want to throw numbers around, I’ll grant you that this immigration thing looks pretty negative. But if you take a minute to stop and think about the fact that these are real people, with real problems - and that this was once thought of as the Land of Opportunity - then it becomes a whole lot muddier. Illegal immigration is a problem, yes, but simply stamping a cost value on it and trumpeting the fact that it is “illegal” does nothing to solve the problem. It only serves to instill fear - and that is the game that George Bush and Darth Cheney have been playing for too long. We, as Americans, should be much, much smarter than that.

We aren’t - but we should be. Here we go...

“If illegal aliens were given amnesty and began to pay taxes and use services like households headed by legal immigrants with the same education levels, the estimated annual net fiscal deficit would increase from $2,700 per household to nearly $7,700, for a total net cost of $29 billion.”

The primary concern with the fourteen items linked to in this manifesto of hate is cost - illegals cost the government (and, by extension, the taxpayers) more in services used than they contribute in taxes paid. The above quote also indicates that legalizing illegal immigrants would still result in a net loss to American taxpayers.

“With nearly two-thirds of illegal aliens lacking a high school degree, the primary reason they create a fiscal deficit is their low education levels and resulting low incomes and tax payments, not their legal status or heavy use of most social services.”

“On average, the costs that illegal households impose on federal coffers are less than half that of other households, but their tax payments are only one-fourth that of other households.”

“Costs increase dramatically because unskilled immigrants with legal status -- what most illegal aliens would become -- can access government programs, but still tend to make very modest tax payments.”

The three quotes above all mention tax payments - but they also present a static picture of what the situation looks like now. These quotes, and the report from which they spew forth, fail in any demonstrative way to take into account what would happen if illegal immigrants were given a chance to assimilate themselves into the fabric of American society and actually become Americans.

Indeed, when attempting to estimate the impact of amnesty for illegal aliens, the report assumes that those given amnesty would partake of services and pay in taxes similarly to legal immigrants with similar characteristics. To wit:

“To estimate the likely impact of legalization, we run two different simulations. In our first simulation, we assume that legalized illegal aliens would use services and pay taxes like all households headed by legal immigrants with the same characteristics. In this simulation, we control for the education level of the household head and whether the head is from Mexico. The first simulation shows that the net fiscal deficit grows from about $2,700 to more than $6,000 per household. In the second simulation, we again control for education and whether the household head is Mexican and also assume that illegals would become like post-1986 legal immigrants, excluding refugees. Because illegals are much more like recently arrived non-refugees than legal immigrants in general, the second simulation is the more plausible. The second simulation shows that the net fiscal deficit per household would climb to $7,700.”

Here’s the rub: See up there where it says “we control for the education level?” That assumes that the illegal immigrant would achieve no more of an education than the legal immigrant. Further, it does not account for changes in the delivery of education that would take place for now-legal immigrants. What this study fails to measure is how far up the now-legal immigrant can climb if given the chance. It also fails to take into account the ways in which Congress will be able to provide a helping hand to a now-legal immigrant population.

See, making legal the 12 million odd now-illegal immigrants is going to enfranchise (that means allow them to vote) a lot of people who are here right now and are not going to the polls. Are all of them going to vote? No. But a lot more of them will. This will increase Latino representation in Congress - Representatives and, to a lesser extent, Senators, will have to take into account the wants and needs of their new Latino constituents. Eventually, this will also result in more Latino Representatives, Senators, mayors, and governors.

It also - in large part because by its nature as an objective report based on facts - cannot account for goodwill, which cannot be measured by a study. You can measure it on a balance sheet, as any yo-yo who has taken an accounting class in college will tell you - oh wait, that’s me! - but even that is still an estimate.

There is no way to predict how such a large group of people is going to react to suddenly being welcomed with open arms to their new country. To take a cross-section of the situation as it stands now and present it to the American people is to do little more than instill fear into them. People fear the unknown, and this is a big unknown.

And there is yet another rub: Are these people really going to be welcomed into this country with open arms - whether they are here legally or not? No. They aren’t. Even if all the immigrants were legal, people - mostly frightened conservatives - are still going to cry foul. They’ll say we’re being overrun by the Mexicans.

But you know what? America has always had a lot of things that other countries don’t have and which the people of those countries want - namely freedom and prosperity. There has been wave after wave of immigrants to this country since, well...since a bunch of English tobacco farmers slaughtered the American Indians and took this country away from them. Irish, Italian, Jewish, German, Japanese, Russian, Greek - and now Mexican - immigrants have all come here because they wanted something better than what they had at home. And this country always welcomed them - until now.

The reason: It’s happening so fast, and the Mexicans don’t have an ocean to cross. The population in Mexico is, in a word, exploding. Click here to see data from the Census Bureau on the population of Mexico. Note the rate of growth, which is 1.2 percent. Now click here to see the same data, except for China. Note the rate of population growth there - 0.6 percent.

Now is the time for all you math majors out there to crunch that number and see if you get this - that Mexico’s population is growing at TWICE the rate of China’s. Gosh, I wonder why that is...oh, wait, that’s right. It’s because 89% of the Mexican population is Roman Catholic, and those wacky Catholics don’t believe in birth control. If you really want to point a finger of blame in this immigration mess, make it your middle finger and aim it at the fucking Pope.

I don’t know if there is any easy fix to the immigration problem - but I do know that the attitude of the average American is certainly not helping. What we have in America - the freedom and prosperity - is not ours by divine right. It is ours because we fought for it - fought the British to gain it, and the Germans (twice) to keep it. But winning those wars doesn’t mean that we can just sit back and float down freedom’s river, forever and ever, amen.

It means we have to keep fighting for it - except that what we have to fight now is our own inertia. The world is growing up in a big hurry, and we, as Americans, are none too quickly realizing this fact. A lot of other countries that don’t have all the things we have are waking up to the fact that they have the ability to get those things - thanks to the globalization that has been brought about by the Internet.

Japan has already figured it out, and they’re making better electronics and cars than we are. India and China are beginning to figure it out, too. The middle class in India numbers 300 million - which is the same as the entire population of the United States. The Mexicans are in the midst of realizing that there is a shitload of work in America that Americans don’t want to do - because corporations won’t pay them a living wage to do it, not when they can outsource that work to a country whose population is willing to work for less. We can’t keep the rest of the world from growing up and shifting from the Third World to the First World. We have to learn to get smarter and better.

I’ve mentioned the following book I don’t know how many times on this blog, but I’m going to do it again here: The World Is Flat, by New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman. This book does a great job of talking about globalization and how it affects everyone in the world - especially Americans. Reading this book may not change your mind about anything, but it should make you think about things from quite a few new perspectives.

In the meantime, here are some links to check out - and don’t forget, there are two sides to every story. Illegal immigration is a problem, but so are racist American bigots who propagate fear of an unknown that they don’t even bother to try to understand.

From Immigration Outpost - A group of eleven post-graduate fellows from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Harvard’s Kennedy Business School

From Immigration Prof Blog - Edited by three professors at the University of California-Davis

From Elliott Asbury - Apparently just some guy, but he mentions an article in BusinessWeek that has some good information

The Immigration Portal - A massive source for information on immigration law

From the Washington Post - An article about a report from the state comptroller of Texas that claims illegal immigrants are a boon to that state’s economy

From the Indiana Economic Digest - An article about the effect on the local economy of immigrants in Elkhart County

From a Special Report on Immigration, called Beyond Borders, in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin and the San Bernadino Sun - A link to the naturalization test administered by the Department of Justice

And some blogs:

Immigration Prof Blog
Immigration Outpost