Friday, January 26, 2018

What is the merit of a merit-based immigration system?

Last week's Grey's Anatomy had a transsexual hack-back plot-line. It was realistic: The FBI looked after their own interests instead of the victim. And there are a ton of transsexuals in the hacking community. As you might imagine any discipline of iconoclasty has a tendency to fit in well.

This week's Grey's Anatomy had a plot point of a black 14 year old getting shot by cops as he broke into his own house. They don't show the aftermath, but you, if you're doing strategic analysis of the cyber domain, have to think: This is what you would target if you were our adversary. The natural fault line. The military "center of gravity" of the States is a fragile unity when you have Mattis telling his soldiers to "hold the line" and yet we can't stop racist memes from being on the signs in the Overwatch League video stream.

It's a normal thing to explain to some of our kids how to behave around cops so they don't get murdered by them. THIS IS EXACTLY THE SORT OF THING CYBERWAR WEAPONIZES INTO INSURGENCIES.

I have three kids, and one of them is brown enough I don't let him carry toy guns outside the yard.

The most surprising thing to a lot of us is that anyone is surprised at how many neo-Nazis there are in America. Like every time Susan Hennessy is like "Where did all this come from?!?" you have to laugh. A lot of Immunity employees in Miami sometimes fantasize about moving the HQ to a different city. But to me a lot of cities were always out of the running. Miami's justice system can be corrupt, but it's not compromised by a Confederacy.

I've felt it both ways: on one hand I'm chameleon enough because of my vocal intonations , sometimes I can pass - I had one person in a bar in Del Ray ask me if I could understand what it was even like growing up a "person of color" and I almost spit out my beer. On the other hand, in the Florida Keys, which are an hour south of Miami and fifty years behind, I'm my white friend's Hispanic helper to the locals. It's a thing. When girls in Miami flirt with me they often start with "Where are you from?" by which they mean "Why are you brown, exactly?"

I see immigration both ways too. I had a cousin who was a dreamer who had to go back to Peru without knowing more than third grade Spanish. She liked World of Warcraft and computer stuff and that's the shibboleth of being an American as far as I'm concerned. But do companies want a massive increase in H1Bs because it lowers salaries overall? Probably. And I don't think the Democratic proposals are coherent because that's their general policy in life.

A lot of countries use a "merit based" immigration system. They assign points to people based on how likely they are to be of benefit, like going for a job interview at a big company. I remember my job interviews at the NSA, which was for a sort of affirmative action ROTC-like program where they paid for collage.

My grades in high school were terrible, and the only reason the NSA was talking to me was I was brown, and my SAT scores were decent, and I wanted to join, because although the NSA was more secret back then, it was still the geekiest thing I'd ever heard of.

Affirmative action is by definition odiously unfair. But on the other hand, I think the NSA did OK with that program. I think it needed a few people who would park their shitty Camry with the FREE KEVIN sticker in the director's spot without even thinking about it, and frankly who cares how they got them? That was a precipitous time and the NSA had a few people who were outside its box right when it needed them.

For a lot of people, the merit they are looking for in their immigration system is one that let's them bring their family to live with them in a place they've come to love. I don't think the NSA knew it was getting a needed skill-set when it hired me so many years ago. They didn't have a points system. I think they took a chance on an unknown who had enough drive to want to be a part of them. And you can't tell me some bureaucrat can think of a better merit than that.

In any case, Immunity is hiring again soon for information security consulting jobs, and you don't have to be brown, or even American.

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