Category: Immigration

Massachusetts e-filing taxes as a foreign resident

Yay, I’ve done my taxes! And e-mailed the Massachusetts ones to my dad in Massachusetts, so he can print them out and put them in the physical mail, because Massachusetts wouldn’t let me e-file with a foreign address, even though that is exactly the condition under which it would be most helpful.

Great job, Massachusetts.

I know it must confuse you that I keep stubbornly insisting I pay for your roads and schools and watersheds and homeless shelters even though I’m nowhere near there, but it’s my legal responsibility and you definitely know that.

The real weird one is how I’m a full-year resident of Massachusetts but my qualifying minimum medical coverage is through the government of Italy. The forms are not equipped.

Because of the shape of the commonwealth, I always picture Massachusetts as lying on a fainting couch. The whole state.


You see it, right?



Building a Better Air Conditioner with Passive Radiative Cooling

The new film works by a process called radiative cooling. This takes advantage of that fact that Earth’s atmosphere allows certain wavelengths of heat-carrying infrared radiation to escape into space unimpeded. Convert unwanted heat into infrared of the correct wavelength, then, and you can dump it into the cosmos with no come back.

— “How to keep cool without costing the Earth,” The Economist

The Economist article explains the materials science in greater depth, and layperson-friendly vocab. But if you don’t have time to geek out (maybe skip getting dressed to free up a few minutes, geeking out is the best), the short version is, Ronggui Yang and Xiaobo Yin of the University of Colorado have figured out how to make rolls of 50-micron-thick polymethylpentene with 8-micron glass beads in it, and the way they interact with infared can not only reflect heat away from a building but can suck interior heat out, and turn it into a wavelength that can pass through the atmosphere and back into space.

“The team estimates that 20 square metres of their film, placed atop an average American house, would be enough to keep the internal temperature at 20°C [68°F] on a day when it was 37°C [98.6°F] outside.”

It requires no electricity. It’s passive. The manufacturing cost is 50 cents a cubic meter. That means that if you buy $10 worth of this film, you might be able to throw out your air conditioner. The Economist estimates that 6% of U.S. electricity generation goes directly to cooling systems.

They need to do more in-the-wild tests. But this could be huge.


Victor Borge

As my uncle Rex points out, “wittiest guy ever and English was his second language.” One of the great comedians. If you need a laugh today, this video‘s first minute and a half alone will sort you out.

Gives me hope that I will one day be funny in Italian. But not Victor Borge funny, let’s not get ridiculous.

Jeff says: My introduction to Victor was at about age six on PBS’s “The Electric Company”. I never knew until now that English wasn’t his first language.

Romie: Born in Copenhagen. Was playing a concert in Sweden when the Nazis occupied Denmark. Fled to Finland and then the U.S. (on a U.S. army transport, no less, the last ship out before I think a blockade?) Did not speak a word of English when he arrived.

Rex: The year after arriving in U.S. he was doing comedy on the radio. In English. He learned English by watching the same movie repeatedly til the dialogue made sense. In two years he was a regular on the Bing Crosby show. After four years he had his own show on NBC! Amazing.

Cinco de Mayo In a Time of Immigration Sweeps

Philly Cinco de Mayo celebration canceled over immigration crackdown fears” by Brooke Seipel at The Hill

This makes me terribly sad. As a Texan, I have been to many exuberant Cinco de Mayo parades. And I can picture, in my mind’s eye, the skirt-twirling ballet folklorico dancers and mariachi musicians and pickup trucks decorated with handmade fake flowers, and the end of the street suddenly closing in with windowless vans and menacing men in uniforms, sweeping into the stream.

Rex says: More than enough. Evil is at the wheel.


If you didn’t watch Conan O’Brien’s “Made in Mexico” special, it’s worth your time to catch up. Among other things, there’s some top-tier prop comedy by ex-PM Vicente Fox.

It made me surprisingly emotional, and it was fortunate I had kleenex handy. It’s no secret that I grew up in Texas, which was part of Mexico before it was part of the United States. I have a lot of Mexican-American friends, and also a lot of Mexican friends.

I always expected our countries to develop a closer bond – for NAFTA to become something like the Schengen area. It is strange and sad that people at the head of my country talk about Mexicans like they’re enemies or boogeymen. That’s not how I feel. It’s hard for me to accept it’s how most Americans feel. If they do, they’re wrong.

In any case, I’m sorry for the pain we’re putting Mexicans through at the moment. If you think wild Trump statements are only wild and terrifying for the US, imagine being our newly-despised neighbor while investors use the peso as a weird currency hedge.

VOICE to the Voiceless

Necessary government programs about which this administration is suspiciously silent:

bureau of days it was cold (so much for global warming)

bureau of I saw somebody who looked poor buying soda

working group on the swears in rap music

directorate of maybe if you’d dressed nicer

office to support men who interacted with women in public who were not smiling

bureau of pitbulls wearing hats like that’s any kind of disguise

ministry of everything is a false flag

ministry of nice boobs

regulatory board for too-spicy food and where is my preferred sugar substitute

Employer-Owned Worker

We do need immigration reform, not because they’re stealing our jobs, but because they’re being exploited by bosses all-too-happy to have an underpaid, captive workforce with visas “owned” by employers instead of the workers themselves.

H-2A workers reach the States bound to a single employer here and often heavily indebted to a contractor in their home country.

The set-up practically predetermines abuse. Should employers renege on promised work and/or wages, H-2A recipients can’t shop their services around. Walking away from egregious conditions means voiding the contract and inviting arrest and deportation. Even if these so-called guest workers possess the resources to seek legal redress, the involvement of middlemen insulates employers, who can always point the finger at labor contractors.

Want to know who likes the so-called guest-worker visa the way it is? Guess. Did you guess?

President Donald J. Trump’s various business holdings have secured at least 1,256 guest-worker visas—most for Mar-a-Lago—over the past 15 years.

Both quotes from:

The High Cost of Cheap Labor” by Brian Barth, in Modern Farmer.

A little more on Trump’s (and the defeated Puzder’s) relationship with H-2 specifically, at Buzzfeed.

Eric’s in on it too. Filed for more H-2s for the Trump Winery last week, about the same time all the (disgustingly self-owned) “illegals” were getting the boot.