190 Years of Immigration Flows in 35 Seconds

Here’s an amazing graphical visualization of data from Vimeo.

Immigration to the US, 1820-2007 v2 from Ian S on Vimeo.

I’m assuming this is counting only legal immigrants because it’s pulling the data from government records. If estimates on illegal immigration were thrown into the mix, the color shift from red to green would be much more pronounced.

Nevertheless, it’s fascinating to watch the flow shift to the southern hemisphere around 1930. There is also a dramatic increase of yellow dots from Asia (hey, I didn’t pick the colors!) throughout the last half of the 20th Century.

I also suspect that, though the red dots from Europe remain fairly constant, they would be heavily weighted toward western European countries in the early part of the last century (Ireland, Germany, Italy); and shift heavily toward eastern europe in the last half of the century (Russia and former Soviet bloc states).

Apple-fy the Car Industry?

A key provision of the auto maker rescue package (which passed the house last night and is now headed for the Senate) is the requirement that the car companies surrender some of their management control to the government. Yes, who better than federal government legislators and regulators to bring efficiency and accountability to a troubled industry?

Within the last few days, I’ve heard and read a number of people excitedly discussing the idea of the feds putting Apple’s Steve Jobs in charge of GM to straighten the company out.

This origin of this shiny piece of brilliance seems to be Thomas “The World is Flat” Friedman.

Friedman is reputed to be some sort of futurist genius, but I must say, the more I hear and read him, the less I get what all the fuss is about.

But I digress.

Behind Friedman’s and everyone else’s enthusiasm for putting Steve Jobs in charge of GM is a deeply flawed assumption. Namely, that GM’s primary problem is leadership/management.

The accepted wisdom is that the car companies are run by imbeciles with no imagination.

Of course, the real problem for America’s car companies can be summed up in a single word:


It is no coincidence that America’s most troubled industries are her most unionized. The airlines and the automakers are hopelessly entangled in miles and miles of innovation and efficiency-stifling contracts, collective bargaining agreements, and pension commitments.

For decades, strikes and strike threats have strong-armed auto makers into agreements that destroy the companies ability to adapt quickly and respond proactively to changing market conditions.

Sure, nationalize the car industry and put Steve Jobs in charge. Nothing will change. It can’t as long as the big three are locked into paying assembly line workers $74/hr on average.

Get rid of the outdated, obsolete, uneccesary unions and their coercive power . . . and I could run GM profitably.


Around Our House

As regular patrons of this happy blog well know, we changed houses a few months ago. We’re settled in and Tracy has worked her usual wonders. Inside we’re fully Christmasized (I can see four Christmas trees from where I’m sitting at this moment).

On the outside, however, we’re sending mixed messages. Sure, we have wreaths and garland hanging from gates, walls and arches. But it’s sunny and 65 outside right now. And because we havent had a good, honest-to-Jack-Frost freeze yet this year, much of the flora around the house doesn’t know it’s December.

For example, the “Encore Azalea” by the waterfall in front is still taking a bow.


Like an actress on the last night of a theatrical production, she’s milking Autumn’s curtain call for all she can. Meanwhile, in the backyard, Mrs. Blather’s geraniums are still in fine form and the dwarf Meyer lemon tree’s production for 2008 has finally ripened.


Tracy picked the first one of the year the other night and used it in a chicken recipe that called for a lemon. It was wonderful. Meyer lemons are not true lemons. They are a hybrid that crosses a lemon with a certain type of orange — resulting in a large lemon which is a little sweeter than usual.

The Farmer’s Almanac says we should get an ice storm or two between now and Christmas. That may be so. But for now, tomorrow’s forecast is calling for showers and 71.

When life hands you lemons. Make rosemary chicken. That’s what we say.

Aaaaaand, I'm Back

Well, that was some Thanksgiving feast.

I don’t usually eat a lot of sweets or desserts. Thus, it seems the prodigious amounts of delicious coconut cream pie I consumed a week ago Thursday stunned my immune system into a catatonic state of surrender.

Woke up Friday morning with a hint of a sore throat and immediately started a regimen of in-the-bud nipping involving zinc lozenges, Zicam, Airborne, Vitamin C, and robust rebukage.

Alas, by that evening I felt like Abe Vigoda looks. It was downhill from there. Left for Richmond on a business trip Sunday evening feeling like I was walking around with my head in a bucket of misery-flavored jello. Formidable levels of prayer and Dayquil got me through.

Watched my first Christmas movie of the year the other night . . . one of my favorites . . . “A Christmas Story,” which is marking its 25th anniversary this year. A late bloomer, that one. In its honor, I decided to finally order the book from which the movie was adapted–In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd.

Shepherd also wrote the brilliant screenplay, narrated the film, and played the cranky man who sends Ralphie to the back of the Santa line at the department store. I’ll let you know, dear reader, if the book equals the genius of the movie script.

Meanwhile, I’m back to 85% of feeling great and avoiding holiday sweets (mostly). Blogging frequency should increase.