Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Progressive Zone has moved

It looks like I haven't been blogging in a while. In fact, I've been blogging quite a bit lately. I implemented WordPress on my own domain, and I like its blogging features much better than Blogger's. So I decided to move my blog there. Please visit The Progressive Zone at its new location to see what I'm blogging about now.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Breaking bad on the border

A large contingent of American protestors has gathered at the Murrieta station of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Their intent is to prevent CBP from bussing illegal immigrants into the station. Their effect is to disrupt CBP from processing the illegal immigrants for deportation. Why would the protestors do something that has the effect of being an obstacle to what they’d like to see happen?

One person actually said that Obama is bussing illegal Mexicans into the USA so they can vote Democrat in the next election. He might be more ignorant of the US Constitution than most of the protestors in Murrieta but some of them actually have the idea that the busses picked up the illegal immigrants in Mexico and are bussing them to Murrieta so CBP can grant them some status that would allow them to stay there legally. Some of the protestors want CBP to bus the illegal immigrants back across the border into Mexico and the rest want them deported.

The reason CBP is actually bussing illegal aliens to its Murrieta station is because of a humanitarian crisis that has developed in recent months. Since October 2013, CBP has apprehended more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors entering this country without documentation — double the number apprehended in the same period the prior year. Many of the children are trafficked here by criminal syndicates. A great concentration of these children are apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley sector of CBP.

The cause of this influx is a rumor that spread throughout Latin America, especially in Central America, that unaccompanied minors who make it into the USA will be issued a permit to stay here. This is a false rumor — there are no immigration status deferrals for unaccompanied minors. They are subject to the same deportation criteria that adults are. So one of the things CBP has done is to conduct a Spanish-language awareness campaign and run public service announcements in Central America saying that unaccompanied minors apprehended in the US will be subject to deportation.

While unaccompanied minors receive no special immigration status that adults and minors with adults do not get, they do have to be processed very differently. The CBP cannot simply transfer the unaccompanied minors to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) like they do with other undocumented aliens. They have to be sure the children have food, shelter, and safety because ICE has a backlog on deportation proceedings. In fact, George W. Bush passed a law in 2008 that requires ICE to have all unaccompanied minors appear in immigration court regarding their status rather than simply processing them administratively (ostensibly to help reduce child trafficking).

Therefore, CBP has to shelter the children in their detention centers until they can find a family member in this country or a non-governmental organization that can take custody of them before transferring the unaccompanied minors to ICE. This takes time, so that’s why the detention centers in Texas are getting overcrowded. Presumably, Americans don’t want the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to build housing for the children or have to feed them while they go through their extended deportation proceedings and I hope they don’t want the administration to detain them in prisons.

So CBP is transporting the detainees to other less crowded detention centers, such as in its Murrieta and San Ysidro stations. In the meantime, President Obama has requested $3.7-billion from congress to help ease the surge in illegal aliens apprehended here, with the bulk of the money to help process the unaccompanied minors. One failure by the administration is to not also try to get funding to increase border security. After all, the DHS would not have to process and deport them at all if the illegal aliens didn’t make it across the border in the first place.

Getting back to the concerns of the protestors in Murrieta, CBP is not bussing the aliens in from Mexico. All of these aliens are apprehended inside the USA. And CBP cannot bus them back into Mexico because the majority of the aliens are not Mexican. Even if they were, Mexico would not permit it unless the aliens were processed first (to verify that they actually came across the Mexican border in the first place, that they are Mexican, that they do not qualify for asylum, and that they are not in the USA for a legitimate reason, etc.). The protestors in Murrieta demand that the president deport the aliens and that’s exactly what the DHS is doing. CBP is sending them to a detention center where they can be more expeditiously processed for transfer to ICE, which is the agency that conducts deportation proceedings.

The protestors in Murrieta need to stop causing trouble with Customs and Border Protection. It’s just trying to do what the protestors ultimately want done. But by obstructing a federal agency from doing its duty, the protestors are breaking as bad as the illegal aliens crossing the border.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hashtag reality check

Businesses who think that Twitter is the solution to their marketing challenges need a reality check. Putting a hashtag on a figure of speech will not automatically make it trend. Before spending millions of dollars on an advertising campaign to create social buzz, marketers should think about what they want to accomplish. If the marketer's brand isn't enhanced, then what's the point.

Case in point: Verizon Wireless. Verizon has a Reality Check campaign in which they add the hashtag "#RealityCheck" to every ad they run. Presumably Verizon wants people exposed to the ad to either include the hashtag whenever they tweet about Verizon Wireless or use the hashtag to search Twitter. Verizon thinks this will cause the hashtag to trend and increase the exposure of their brand in social media.

The problem was Verizon's choice of hashtags. "Reality check" is a very common but generic figure of speech in English. People use it all the time about subjects unrelated to cell phone service. Had Verizon's marketers done a simple search for "#realitycheck" on Twitter, they would have found that people tweet the hashtag every couple of minutes. However, they almost never tweet it in reference to Verizon Wireless. Subsequently, any tweets of interest to Verizon are crowded out by all the unrelated #realitycheck tweets.

The smart thing for a marketer to do is to promote a hashtag that is unlikely to be used in any other context. For example, Verizon should have instead promoted a hashtag like "#best4Gnetwork." A little research would show them that no one else is using the hashtag. If the viewers of an ad promoting this hashtag were to use it, tweets about Verizon Wireless would be the only ones that would appear in a search using the hashtag. I'm not suggesting that #best4Gnetwork is the specific hashtag they should promote -- perhaps Verizon marketers can come up with something catchier -- but whichever hashtag they decide on, they should promote one that would be exclusive to their brand.

It's not hard to do a reality check. Just enter a hashtag into Twitter's search box and see what comes up. If you see an endless string of tweets, consider promoting a different hashtag before spending millions of dollars on ads trying to get the hashtag to trend.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

The Architect of Division

Although it was penned over a year ago, I read The Architect of Destruction today. I discovered that P. Maureen Scott is an impressive armchair psychoanalyst. The five-syllable words recounting her amazing vision into the deepest recesses of president Barack Obama's mind make a convincing case that "Obama has promoted the degeneration of peace, civility, and quality of cooperation between us. He thrives on tearing us down, rather than building us up." That is until you critically evaluate what Scott writes.

It's ironic how Scott calls Obama a divider in a screed that is itself incredibly divisive. She writes as if only people raised as a WASP in America's heartland by parents still married to their high school sweetheart know the true American experience. She infers that people of color, raised by single mothers, in Hawaii or other liberal state, etc. (i.e. people not like her) could not possibly understand what it means to be American.

The truth is that Americans come in many different colors. They come from the full spectrum of the socio-economic ladder. Some Americans are Muslims and some are even atheist. Americans include surfers from California and Floridians from indigenous tribes. Some were raised by their grandparents in the inner city. The children of lesbian mothers are Americans, as are Chicanos whose first language is Spanish. But Scott will tell you that none of them could know what it truly means to be American with their upbringing.

Scott considers Obama to be the Architect of Destruction. But her disclaimer that "it is not the color of his skin that is a problem in America" does not hide her bigotry -- it only highlights it. The truth is that she herself is the Architect of Division

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Reports of Global Warming’s Death

It’s been a cold winter so far! First, a research vessel gets stranded in the Antarctic and the ice breaker attempting to rescue the Akademik Shokalskiy gets stuck in the sea ice too. Then the USA gets hit by a polar vortex that freezes practically half of all Americans. It’s no surprise that climate change deniers are mocking the concept of Global Warming. After all, how could the planet be warming with unprecedented cold weather like this happening around the globe?

Maybe it could be warming because there are precedents for these weather events after all. In fact, a review of the historical data shows that the weather events were actually evidence of warming.

That’s right — the only thing that was unprecedented about the polar vortex freezing the USA was the rarity of the event. The truth is that Global Warming is lengthening the gaps between deep cold snaps like the one that just hit the US, say meteorologists. It’s been seventeen years since temperatures dipped this low in the US. “That stretch — from Jan. 13, 1997 to Monday — is by far the longest the U.S. has gone without the national average plunging below 18 degrees.”

The Akademik Shokalskiy did not get caught in sea ice because the temperatures in the Antarctic were colder than usual. It got caught because it was deep in Commonwealth Bay when sudden gale force winds blew fast ice into the bay before the Akademik had the opportunity to get out of it. When you look at the numbers, it becomes undeniable that, in spite of the increase in a certain type of sea ice in the Antarctic, Global Warming is melting the ice on both of the earth’s poles.

First of all, take a look at how much of Antarctica is melting in recent times:

Ice Melt

Then look at the extent of sea ice in the Arctic in recent times compared to the past 1,450 years:

Arctic sea ice extent over the last 1,450 years

These factors are leading to a rise in sea level that affects the entire planet:

Mean Sea Level

When you take a closer look at the data, you can see that the reports of Global Warming’s death are greatly exaggerated.

Friday, January 03, 2014

The mountain erodes back into a molehill

For over a year, Republicans have been desperately trying to conflate the attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi with a deliberate attempt by the Obama administration to cover-up the "fact" that al Qaeda was the perpetrator. There is a general consensus on both the Left and the Right that incompetence and ineptitude played a role in exacerbating the calamity that occurred on September 11, 2012, in Benghazi, Libya. But the White House denies that they sent Susan Rice out to the Sunday morning news shows with talking points stating that the Innocence of Muslims video incited the attackers knowing full well the attack was actually orchestrated by al Qaeda.

It turns out that the whole Benghazi affair isn't a major cover-up conspiracy reaching the highest levels of government after all. In fact, the Innocence of Muslims video was the spark that led to the attack on the mission and CIA annex that fateful 9/11. And guess what else -- the attack was led by a militia that was involved in the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi but had nothing to do with al Qaeda (or any other international terrorist organization).

Yet in the face of all this, Rep. Darrell Issa stands by his claims of al Qaeda affiliation in the Benghazi attacks. As I watched him refuse to denounce his erroneous claims, he looked to me like a little boy with jelly smeared all over his face refusing to admit that he ate the jelly doughnut. Here's an idea congressman: if you don't like defending false assertions, stop making claims based on absolutely no evidence.

Friday, December 21, 2012


I read that Instagram says it now has the right to sell your photos without payment or notification. Instagram made the wise move and backed down from the new policy but it wasn't the policy that caught my attention in the first place. I was amused by the irked Twitter user who quipped that "Instagram is now the new iStockPhoto, except they won't have to pay you anything to use your images."

I have a suggestion for this Twitter user if he (or she, as the case may be) feels so victimized: don't put your photos on Instagram in the first place! It's not as if they have a gun to your head and there are plenty of other sites where you can post your photos. Move on and stop complaining.

Could you imagine if everyone moved on from Instagram? A world without Instagram would be a world without blurry, scratched, sepia-toned, "artsy" pictures. Would it be such a tragedy to go back to the times of having to look at crisp, clear, 8-megapixel photos with accurate color tones again?

The Twitter user clearly thinks it's unfair to use someone else's property without paying them for it. To make things even, he should ask Instagram to, oh, I don't know -- let him use Instagram without paying for it. Oh, wait ... he already does.

Instagram from xkcd