The April 6 issue of New Scientist has a special focus on immigration. All worth a read, but here's an assessment of the horrible cost:
"A meta-analysis of several independent mathematical models suggests it would increase world GDP by between 50 and 150 per cent. “There appear to be trillion-dollar bills on the sidewalk” if we lift restrictions on emigration, says Michael Clemens at the Center for Global Development, a think tank in Washington DC, who did the research."
And the uncontrollable hordes:
"Niger is next to Nigeria, Nigeria is six times richer and there are no border controls, but Niger is not depopulated. Sweden is six times richer than Romania, the EU permits free movement, but Romania is not depopulated."
Time for open immigration?
Less than half of Americans have passports compared to around 75% in the UK. Brits often use this statistic to mock Americans for being uncurious provincial stay-at-homes.
I've always felt this was unfair though. As an American you might have visited all 50 states, all of the National Parks and maybe thrown in Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico without having ever bothered with a fully fledged passport.
A Brit on the other hand might have spent a few days eating fish and chips at a British pub in Benidorm and is suddenly a sophisticated world traveler. I don't think so. There is simply more to see and experience in the US without needing to cross a border.
After I moved to America I realized that maybe there was another reason. Americans for some reason don't bother taking vacations. You get massively less vacation time over here and even then a huge number of people don't even manage to take off their paltry few days. There is no effective way to have a holiday overseas if you never take a holiday.
Now I realize that neither of these factors is as important as the United States Postal Service if you have a kid.
In the UK to get a passport you mail in an application and get back a passport. It's pretty easy. Even for children.
In the US you need to go to a Passport Acceptance Facility and that probably means a post office. There is a handy website that lists the 10 closest facilities together with their phone numbers so you can call to make an appointment. These phone numbers are not answered. It's less like a basic government service and more like trying to bag a ticket to Glastonbury.
I gave up and delegated to Fancy Hands (a personal assistant service). They have spent two days on the phone trying and failing to get an appointment.
I was going to do my best to vote my principles this year but at this point any presidential candidate who would force USPS to put in a web scheduling system might just get my vote.
Updated 2016-04-18 23:23:
After I posted this a friend pointed me at the United States Digital Service (via this Ted Video) and basically said why bitch and moan when you could help fix it. Which I don't have a great answer to. Except this.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I found it hard to care for anyone in this book. Pedestrian mystery.
A mosaic timelapse looking over the Pacific from West Portal, San Francisco (a simultaneous timelapse of 225 days from mid 2015 to early 2016).
I've been feeding webcam images into the Google Cloud Vision API for a few weeks now so I thought I'd take a look at what it thinks it can see. The image above shows every label returned from the API with my confidence going from the bottom to the top and Google's confidence going from left to right (so the top right hand corner contains labels that we both agree on).
Google is super-confident that it has seen a location. Can't really argue with it there.
It's more confident that it has seen an ice hotel than a sunrise (and it has seen a lot of sunrises at this point). Maybe I need to explore the Outer Sunset more.
Google is 60.96% confident that it has seen a ballistic missile submarine. I suppose that's plausible, I do have an ocean view but it's rather far away and unless there was an emergency blow that didn't make the news I'm going to have to call bullshit on that one. It's 72.66% confident that an Aston Martin DB9 went past which is pretty specific. Possibly a helicopter slung delivery?
Maybe I'm sending basically the same image in too many times and the poor system is going quietly mad and throwing out increasingly desperate guesses. Probably I've just learned that I should use 80%+ as my confidence threshold before triggering an email...