On occasion I am asked what it takes to move to the United States if you are not a US citizen. Coincidentally, I was recently pointed to a 2008 issue of The Reason, which has a flow chart illustrating just how complicated legal immigration to the US is:

(click the image for a full-size PDF version)

Now, the flow chart somewhat presumptuously implies that every immigrant to any country wants to become a citizen of that very country, which I have found to be untrue -- some of my family's best friends have lived in Germany for decades and have no intention to give up the citizenship they were born with. But the chart still gives a helpful overview of just how hard it is to indeed go down that road if you wanted to. What might surprise some people is that US immigration law is among the strictest in the western world -- somewhat ironic, given its traditional status as an immigrant country.

Another thing that has caused confusion before: Just because you marry a US citizen, you don't automatically earn a residence permit (let alone citizenship) without any further ado. It makes it easier to achieve both of these things, but a US citizen's spouse still has to file a bunch of paperwork (and bring time and patience) to receive the necessary papers to enter the country.

Thanks for the link, Jabba!

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Greenstorm Film is an independent production company from Moscow, Idaho. They make great short films, such as this one, called "The Package":

I find this really funny :). There's another one, more grotesque but no less amusing: The Great Couch Caper.

I like how creative these guys are, and how well they put everything in scene. Another example of their talent is this music video of a cover version of "Airplanes" by B.o.B. (which, by the way, also features some really good musicians!)

And now that I've hooked you up on their filmmaking, you'll be pleased to know they are working on a feature-length film named "The Protagonist" (trailer), due to be released in the fall. I, for one, can't wait to see it.

Thanks, Jenny, for pointing out Greenstorm, and thanks, Noah, for the cool performance in the video :)

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I am two days late for this year's anniversary, but this is just too impressive: Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944.

Make sure to click on the picture to see bigger versions.

(via Justin, thanks! Source: US or Canadian National Archives, via Wikipedia. Public Domain.)

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A while ago, when I was flying to Idaho and had a layover in Salt Lake City, Utah, I was for the first time confronted with full-body scanners at an airport security checkpoint. It was at the time a pilot test, and there were signs saying I had the right to refuse the scanner. Appalled by the idea of doing a digital strip dance for the security officers, I refused, and while I the security officer didn't appreciate the extra work, I had to wait in line shortly, received a quick pat-down, and was sent on my way.

Full-body scanners have since received a lot of attention, and were introduced in many airports, some mandatory for primary screening, others opt-out, and finally some only use it for secondary screening, that is, when the metal detector beeps, or similar.

Today I am pleased to read that the Idaho House voted in favor of a bill restricting the use of such scanners in the state (the bill would forbid using such scanners as primary screening method in airports). The bill is now moving to the Senate. While I may not agree with many views of American conservatives, (given I am European, probably not too shocking a statement), I agree with the assessment that full-body scanners entail an unreasonable strip search of people who haven't given any indication that would warrant such treatment.

Now let's hope the law passes, and that other states, and perhaps countries, follow suit.

Thanks for the link, Jenny!

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If you are an American expat, or something along those lines, and are in the mood for some Christmas music, you might have already taken a look at "iTunes Radio", and had a hard time to find any, because even the ones carrying Christmas in their name don't quite cut it...

A good trick is to go for the Adult Contemporary section:

iTunes Radio

... and select a soft rock station, such as "Soft Rock from St. Louis", which is what we listened to today. These stations have a tendency to switch to Christmas music during the season, and should serve all your Christmas music needs, even if there's no way you can receive it on your local radio tuner.

Have fun, and happy holidays.

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While stumbling across the net, I found this, The New Yorker's Thanksgiving cover from 2006:

The New Yorker: Thanksgiving

The illustration feels a little sad, though I am not sure what I am sadder about: That they can watch football and I don't ;) Or that digital distractions take away from the traditional family gathering called Thanksgiving.

(via YayEveryDay)

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In response to the birthdays I mentioned in my last post, Google has two topical logos today.

The American site, google.com, honors Sesame Street: Google Sesame Street

... while google.de remembers the fall of the Berlin Wall. Google: Berlin Wall 09

Quite the contrast.

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This is -- hands-down -- the best summary I have seen so far on the US health care dilemma:

I must say, even though our German health care system is f-ed up in many ways, and even though it is a "fat pig" (like the example in the video) as well, it is still a million times better than the US's. I don't know why the US don't finally get that straight: in this respect, they are the laughing-stock of the countries...

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Today, Mozilla Corporation moved into new headquarters, across town, in Mountain View, California. The new place, which I have only seen as a building site so far, is bound to be awesome, judging by the photos that are slowly showing up on the web.

These and more photos are available on Deb Richardson's flickr feed (thanks, Deb!):

Mozilla Headquarters, Pic 1

Mozilla Headquarters, Pic 2

Mozilla Headquarters, Pic 3

Mozilla Headquarters, Pic 4

I can't wait to go visit!

Update: There are more photos of the new Mozilla office on osunick's flickr page.

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Am Wochenende flog ich von den USA nach Deutschland und bekam am Gate von den Lufthansa-Mitarbeitern ein Flugblatt des Robert-Koch-Instituts in die Hand gedrückt, in dem sie vor einem "neuartigen Grippevirus" warnt. Aus dem Inhalt:

Sehr geehrte Fluggäste, in dem Land, in dem Sie zu diesem Flug eingestiegen sind, ist es kürzlich zu Grippe-Erkrankungen gekommen, die durch ein neuartiges Grippevirus hervorgerufen wurden.

Auf der Rückseite wird der möglicherweise behandelnde Arzt über die "Schweinegrippe" informiert und spezifische Anweisungen gegeben, mit welchen Grippemitteln der Patient behandelt werden sollte.

Die Ausgangsfassung des Robert-Koch-Instituts (erhältlich auf dessen Webseite) enthält hingegen keine spezifischen Dosisanweisungen, und empfiehlt den Medizinern lediglich die "Gabe von Neuraminidasehemmern in therapeutischer Dosierung gemäß Fachinformation in Erwägung [zu] ziehen".

Lufthansa Influenza Flugblatt

Mit einem Klick auf das Bild könnt ihr das ganze Dokument als PDF-Datei ansehen.

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