The Foreign Service Journal, July-August 2005

processing time for Visas Mantis cases averaged 67 days as of February 2004, but by November 2004 had been reduced to an average of only 15 days ( 8.pdf ). St ill, the report notes, further refinements are needed. In particu- lar, the GAO recommends develop- ment of a formal time frame for fully connecting all necessary agencies to the computer system used to track and process Mantis cases, and calls for more direct interaction and train- ing by State officials for consular offi- cers at key posts on the Visas Mantis program. The coalition’s concerns go beyond the Visas Mantis program. Their rec- ommendations include extending the validity of security clearances for inter- national scholars and scientists from the current two-year limit to the dura- tion of their academic appointment, allowing international students and researchers to renew their visas in the United States, and renegotiating visa reciprocity agreements with key sending countries, such as China, to extend the duration of visas each country grants citizens of the other and to permit multiple entries on a single visa. The group also calls for amending inflexible requirements — such as the need to demonstrate the intent and ability to return home after studies — that lead to frequent student visa denials, and for development of a national strategy to promote academ- ic and scientific exchange and encour- age international students, scholars, scientists and engineers to pursue higher education and research oppor- tunities in the U.S. The AAU Web site contains exten- sive, updated information on visa reform issues ( homeland/students.cfm ).  C Y B E R N O T E S u 12 F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L / J U LY- A U G U S T 2 0 0 5 There are a number of free dictionaries and thesauruses available online, but you’ll only find one free directory for the origins and development of words: the Online Etymology Dictionary ( ). As its name implies, the Online Etymology Dictionary does not provide defi- nitions; rather, the site is a blueprint of the ever-rolling wheels and mechanics of the modern English language. Here we find the historical development of a word, including its earliest known use in written records, the changes in form or meaning it has undergone through the years, and its cognates, which are often revealing of its ancestral form. The Online Etymology Dictionary is brought to you by Doug Harper, a lin- guist and author who compiled the index and refers to himself as “only mildly interesting and occasionally useful.” Harper began his compilation in 2001, when he realized that, at the time, there was no other free etymology dictionary avail- able on the Web. His sources include the accredited Oxford English Dictionary and countless dictionaries and glossaries in French, German and Greek. Even Sanskrit and Old Persian sources have been consulted. From medieval vocabulary to technical terms to contemporary American slang, the Online Etymology Dictionary can be a valuable tool for writers and readers in any field. Moreover, it is just plain fun to poke around in. If nothing else, you might learn some interesting trivia: for instance, “A-OK” began as astro- naut slang; “bimbo” originally applied only to men; and people in 1672 were just as, “um,” inarticulate as they are today. Oh, and if anyone ever says you are “nice,” don’t take it as a compliment. — Brooke Deal, Editorial Intern Site of the Month: