Post by Mike Spencer
It's nice to discuss this with someone with experience as an
immigrant. I am indeed wondering about the political atmosphere in
USCIS right now...
It's highly commendable that you take the oath of allegiance
seriously. I gather that you've found a career niche that you really
like that promises well for the future. But I have to say that I am
To be honest it was more along the lines of me, about 20 years ago,
realizing that I was too socially and vocationally inept to make it in
Halifax. It turns out that Boston is very welcoming to people with both
problems. There's so much work needed to be done they can't be so fussy,
and socially, well, let's just say locals' behaviour does not always set
the bar so high in that regard either.
Post by Mike Spencer
very glad that I left the US nearly 50 years ago. I'm now a Canadian
citizen. The oath of allegiance to the Queen engendered a little
cognitive dissonance, conflicting as it does with the revolutionary
anti-monarchist rehetoric with which colonial history is embued in US
schools but I'm very happy with Canadian citizenship.
I'm wondering how you came to terms with that. I mean, if I were still a
Canadian in any meaningful sense I wouldn't be campaigning for
republicanism, thinking of my grandmother and what the royal family
meant to her, but even so it doesn't match up with what I think Canada
ought to be. The anti-monarchist rhetoric you grew up with is more or
less rational enlightenment thought is it not?
Post by Mike Spencer
I'm sorry to say that my best guess is that the US is in for a very
rough time if it's not completely screwed. If the president remains
in office, internal chaos and disintegration will continue to
propagate through the country and internationally other countries
will begin -- if they haven't already -- to rethink everything for a
If Ammendment XXV is invoked and ratified by Congress, you get Pence
as president. He's not, AFAICT, a demented loose cannon but he's an
extremist nutter and in the pockets of the extremist Koch brothers.
Unlike XXV, which takes effect immediately, impeachment is even more
of a problem because it doesn't. It takes days, weeks or months in
which time the president remains in office. The present president
is sufficiently demented to go for the Samson option were it to appear
that impeachment was about to be ratified by the Senate. And you
still get Pence as president in the best outcome if he doesn't.
AFAICT, the Democratic party, which should be the focal institution
for small-L liberal, progressive and Enlightenment thought and action
for the 70% or so of the population that haven't been suckered or
otherwise captured by Trumpism, is internally riven and taken aback.
The local foci of non-demented political action -- some states and
some major cities, some universities and other institutions -- are far
from being a unified force, leaving effective opposition to deranged
GOP politics and a demented administration fragmented and divided.
So it's an effort for me to grasp the notion of intentionally
immigrating to the US from any place other than a poverty stricken or
violence ridden place. And Canada isn't one of them.
Yeah, I had a work friend at my last job with a similar reaction. Why
the hell did you move, I think was how he put it when we first met, and
not all that facetiously.
I wasn't that keen on the idea myself at the time. I was pretty
apolitical but was afraid of the U.S. and intimidated by any city bigger
than Halifax. But I got an offer from a company in Boston for a whopping
34K (my best salary up to then was 18K). A place named ITI that taught
people visual basic, MS access, Oracle, etc. found the job for me. Maybe
you heard of ITI? Up to the point of the dotcom bust they had some good
success at placing Nova Scotians who were struggling to find "career
jobs" by teaching immediately marketable computer skills and using a
handful of contacts they'd made mostly in Florida, Boston, and Toronto
to place their graduates. In retropect going to Toronto (though I have a
bone to pick with Toronto) or Calgary would have been the smarter
option. It also might have been smarter to pursue a masters in compsci
at TUNS / Dal. I'd actually started auditing a course at TUNS that a
neighbour taught. I remember reading a book on Prolog in the old Halifax
library in anticipation of taking his course. But somewhere in there I
panicked (maybe the ghosts from all those unmarked graves gave me a
scare) and gave ITI all the money my grandparents gave me in exchange
for them getting me this U.S. job, believing that to be the shortest
path out of my mom's basement, which indeed it was. But I still haven't
learned Prolog. There's a Common Lisp implementation of it in that
renowned Norvig AI book that's been gathering dust on my shelf. Maybe
Besides that angle on things I had no social setting beyond my immediate
family tying me to Halifax/Dartmouth. My best university friends were
Chinese from Hong Kong and Malaysia and returned there upon graduation.
Other people my age who grew up in Nova Scotia were fleeing in numbers
So there was not much reason to stay in 1997, and I didn't hate Bill
Clinton or feel strongly one way or the other about issues like bombing
Serbia or his dragging the Democratic party to the right. As far as
escaping the present Trump shitstorm and going back, well, can't do it.
Aside from having this persistent lingering association between Halifax
and companies that won't hire me and women who won't date me, my new
social setting doesn't migrate. A little hard to explain, but like how
you're told to speak loudest the words you can't pronounce let me put it
starkly: I'm in a committed platonic relationship with two American
ex-girlfriends one of whom I'm co-parenting with. I'll want to stay near
my son obviously, but I've also promised to remain in the life of one of
the ex-girlfriends, and thanks to a few random Torontonians (funny how
it's the Canadians who most resemble Americans culturally who are the
most rabid in their anti-Americanism) there's no way she'd ever move to
Canada. Being not the sort of person who can afford to casually throw
away friends, even if one of them voted for Trump and the other can't go
to Halifax without asking if they have gyms and movie theaters and like
such, I'll be sticking around here for the indefinite future.
Post by Mike Spencer
BTW, I thought you were in Boston but your news server and email seem
to be in Seattle. Is that a free Usenet service, or for-fee service or
are you in Seattle?
Yeah, early on I was using a local Boston (Brookline, technically) unix
ISP, theworld (http://theworld.com/), but I didn't like their take on
spam fighting. SDF offers free shell access (NetBSD) and does have a
USENET server among other things. It's a non-profit run essentially by
one guy, with maybe a little "audience participation." You can use more
of their services and resources if you donate, but the very basic level
of unix shell account you can get for free. It's been around in some
form since 1987:
The higher level of service isn't all that expensive btw. You can give
whatever you want of course, but the recommended amount is really low
for what you get access to. E.g. the "ARPA" level is given to you for a
one time donation of $36 U.S. That's one time ever. I should probably
send more money his way soon. Seems to me there was some announcement
not long ago about him replacing the disks for the USENET server using
his own credit card.
Do you ever get the urge to use TOPS-20? I don't know exactly what that
is but it's something included at the basic level. The guy who runs sdf
has some association with a computer museum in Seattle and occasionally
communicates logins for other vintage systems you can log into. There
was also a neat Plan 9 class one time using his VPS service. Not ideal
with 90ms of latency between me and his servers, but still, very
interesting to see it in action.