How to avoid hiring an American

Just a suggestion: Watch the video I posted to Buzzblog last week and keep it in mind the next time you hear a high-tech industry titan such as Bill Gates complain that he simply cannot find qualified American employees, therefore the country needs more H-1B visas.

You can access it at

In the video you will see a panel discussion that could be a sit-down with "the families" on "The Sopranos," only instead of talking about the nitty-gritty of organized crime these lawyers are discussing the ins and outs of helping employers side-step immigration law.

What's particularly striking is how matter-of-fact they are about dishing this advice. The objective, says Lawrence Lebowitz, vice president of marketing at Cohen & Grigsby, couldn't be more straightforward: "Our goal is clearly not to find a qualified U.S. worker . . . our objective is to get this person a green card," Lebowitz tells his conference audience.

And how does an employer go about fulfilling that objective in light of its legal obligation to first search for a qualified American? It's all about where you search, he says.

"Clearly we are not going to find a place where the applicants are most numerous, we're going to find a place where - again we're complying with the law - [we're] hoping and likely not to find qualified worker applicants," Lebowitz says.

And if despite looking in all the wrong places a gem of an American candidate pops up anyway? This may be an unfortunate turn of events, but it, too, can be corrected.

"If someone looks like they are very qualified, if necessary schedule an interview; go through the whole process to find a legal basis to disqualify them," he says.

That's just a taste; there are other precious moments on the video.

By the way, Lebowitz prefaced that first remark - the one about the objective being "not to find a qualified U.S. worker" - by saying, "this may sound funny."

Don't know about anyone else, but I didn't even crack a smile. It doesn't sound funny (and where's Joe Pesci when you need him?). It sounds like it ought to be illegal. At the very least, it sounds like Congress should be tightening the screws on current law before increasing the number of H-1Bs.

Time stands still on the iPhone

I presume you're all primed and ready to buy your iPhones, right?

Well, that a few of you will manage to resist the hype is no surprise. But there was a lingering iPhone-related mystery - at least it was lingering late last week - that deserves addressing.

What's up with this 9:42 fascination?

I first noticed it in a post on Digg: "In every iPhone ad the time is 9:42. In every iPhone demo it is 9:42. In every iPhone picture on Apple's site it is 9:42. The iPhone was first announced during the Macworld keynote at 9:42. Why 9:42?"

Not having a good answer to the question myself, I fell back on my three decades of experience as a journalist and put the question to Apple's public relations department.

I didn't say asking always works. An Apple spokesperson dropped a message on my machine telling me she didn't know but would "try to find an answer."

In the meantime, we're left to speculate, or, if you happen to know, educate.

My guesses:

There is no reason. The Apple spokesperson offered that as a possibility, saying, "it might be random."

The time 9:42 could be simply convention: I know that photos predating digital clocks always had their hands posed a certain way for the sake of aesthetics.

Or, and this is my most wild guess, it could be a security measure: If all of the official promotional materials for iPhone carry the time 9:42 then anything with any other time would have to be a fraud.

My favorite possibility came from a Digg reader who offered this potential connection between 9:42 and The Phone: "The actual price will be $942 ...."

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