Nov 132014
Through Other Lenses: American Robotnik Readings for November 2014

From Around the Web “Conservatives Are Driving Americans Away from Religion” by Claude S. Fischer, Boston Review, October 15, 2014 — Self-explanatory. “The Death of Adulthood in American Culture” by A.O. Scott, The New York Times Magazine, September 11, 2014 — “[I]n doing away with patriarchal authority, we have also, perhaps unwittingly, killed off all the grown-ups.” “9 Reasons We Should Abolish Tipping, Once And For All” by Hunter Stuart, Huffington Post, October 17, 2014 — A follow-up to my two-part post on tipping. “Think There’s a Lot of […] Continue reading >

Oct 052014
Through Other Lenses: Readings for October 2014

From Around the Web The American Dream “The American Dream Is an Illusion: Immigration and Inequality” by Gregory Clark, Foreign Affairs, August 26, 2014 – “Immigration to the United States rarely changes one’s social status.” “‘American dream; is now a myth: How bad policies and worse ideology ruined us” by Heather Digby Parton, Salon, September 26, 2014 Children “The Shortening Leash” by Jessica Grose and Hanna Rosin, Slate, August 6, 2014 – “Kids today have a lot less freedom than their parents did.” Immigration Economics “The domestic economic impacts […] Continue reading >

Aug 192014
Through Other Lenses: American Robotnik Readings for August 2014

From Around the Web Religion “The numbers are in: America still distrusts Atheists and Muslims” by Dan Arel, Salon, July 21, 2014 – “Intolerance towards those with different beliefs: A deeply American tradition.” Language “Learning to Speak American” by Tim Parks, New York Review of Books Blog, December 14, 2012 – Take it down a notch, American English. “Saturday Stat: The Invention of the ‘illegal immigrant’” by Lisa Wade, Sociological Images, August 17, 2014 – The phrase “illegal immigrant” wasn’t part of the English language before the 1930’s. Demographics […] Continue reading >

May 072013

The life of the immigrant was that of a man diverted by unexpected pressures away from the established channels of his existence. Separated, he was never capable of acting with the assurance of habit; always in motion, he could never rely upon roots to hold him up. Instead he had ever to toil painfully from crisis to crisis, as an individual alone, make his way past the discontinuous obstacles of a strange world. But America was the land of separated men. Its development in the eighteenth century and the […] Continue reading >

Apr 212013
Through Other Lenses: American Robotnik Readings for April 2013

From the RSS Feed “The Rise of Gay Marriage and the Decline of Straight Marriage: Where’s the Link?” by Derek Thompson, The Atlantic, April 4, 2013 “A ‘Whom Do You Hang With?’ Map of America” by Robert Krulwich, NPR Blogs, April 17, 2013 – “These are the first maps that are trying to paint us the way we actually are.” The Book Stack Andre Aciman, False Papers: Essays on Exile and Memory, New York: Picador, 2001 – BUY NOW Salman Akhtar, Immigration and Acculturation: Mourning, Adaptation, and the Next […] Continue reading >

Mar 132013

Eventually, of course, one does stop being an exile. But even a “reformed” exile will continue to practice the one thing exiles do almost as a matter of instinct: compulsive retrospection. With their memories perpetually on overload, exiles see double, feel double, are double. When exiles see one place they’re also seeing—or looking for—another behind it. Everything bears two faces, everything is shifty because everything is mobile, the point being that exile, like love, is not just a condition of pain, it’s a condition of deceit. Or put it […] Continue reading >

Mar 072013
To Be an Immigrant

American Robotnik tackles the experience of immigration in a spontaneous, subjective fashion. More systematic treatments of the issue help organize my thinking. In her book To Be an Immigrant Kay Deaux outlines immigrant experience from the perspective of social psychology. Assuming that “immigration is both a dynamic and a symbolic process rather than a discrete event,” Deaux proposes a multi-level framework for analysis: Macro: political, demographic, and social factors that define the climate of immigration in a society, including policies, legislation, and institutions, as well as social representations (shared […] Continue reading >

Nov 192012
Two Centers

Imagination, always spatial, points north, south, east, and west of some central, privileged place, which is probably a village from one’s childhood or native region. As long as a writer lives in his country, the privileged place, by centrifugally enlarging itself, becomes more or less identified with his country as a whole. Exile displaces that center or rather creates two centers. Imagination relates everything in one’s surroundings to “over there”—in my case, somewhere on the European continent. It even continues to designate the four cardinal points, as if I […] Continue reading >

Aug 192012
Through Other Lenses: American Robotnik Readings for July and August 2012

From the RSS Feed “Books Increasingly Show It’s All About Me” by Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard, July 11, 2012 – “Researchers who have scanned books published over the past 50 years report an increasing use of words and phrases that reflect an ethos of self-absorption and self-satisfaction.” “Immigrant Number One” by Jesse Green, New York Magazine, May 9, 2010 – Tracking down the first foreigner to go through Ellis Island. “Move over,” The Economist, July 7th, 2012 – Americans move for work less because the market is working. “Why Isn’t […] Continue reading >

Aug 072012
What's the Impact of Immigrant-Owned Small Businesses on the U.S. Economy?

Immigrant-owned small businesses employ 14 percent of all people working for American small-businesses and 18 percent of all small-business owners in the U.S. are immigrants. The widely publicized (New York Times, Business Week, Huffington Post) new study from the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative identifies immigrant-owned small businesses and their impact on the U.S. economy. The immigrant share of small-business owners is higher than their share in the overall population—18 vs. 13 percent—as well as the immigrant share of the labor force, 16%. As I’ve speculated before, this could be […] Continue reading >

Apr 192012
The New Outsiders

Richard Florida’s 2002 book "The Rise of the Creative Class", has become a landmark study on the ascendance and impact of creatives on the American economy. The Creative Class, a socioeconomic force comprising knowledge workers, artists, and creative professionals, drives economic development, innovation, and the growth of post-industrial cities.* Florida finds only mixed evidence on the impact of immigration on development and growth. Immigrant, What Is He Good For? Citing a plethora of sources, Florida first shows that not only has "[o]penness to entrepreneurial individuals from around the glove long […] Continue reading >

Jan 252012
Why Promoting Integration Beats Curbing Immigration

There has been no significant movement toward federal immigration reform since a bipartisan effort died in 2007, blocked by conservative opposition. But it has been the subject of a fever of legislation at the state level, and it could become an issue in the 2012 presidential campaign. —In “Immigration and Emigration”, 1/19/2012 update, The New York Times That is as succinct a summary as it gets of the current status of the immigration reform process in the U.S. We’re stalled, folks, but may be hitting another turbulence soon. Regardless of the reform’s […] Continue reading >

Jan 042012
The Freedom of the Birds: An Interview With Petr Sís

Following up on my review of Peter Sís’s new book “The Conference of the Birds” and our conversation at his reading here in Portland, Oregon, I asked Peter about his experience as an émigré. We spoke via Skype on New Year’s Eve, I in Slovak, he in Czech; the interview below is an English translation and edit of my Czech and Slovak notes. *** American Robotnik: In your latest book, “The Conference of the Birds”, birds are the main characters searching for the king that will solve the world’s problems. What […] Continue reading >