30 August 2006

Press(ure) Time

In what can only be described as a vivid definition of irony, I've been granted an Official Press Credential. Cleverly laminated, in English and Spanish, with the requisite leatherette wallet, all four little pieces of now-plasticized paper signed by a machine in the name of the Secretary of State of Puerto Rico designating Me Journalist Number 6523.



Like the first time I stood in front of a classroom and realized I now HAD to put My money where My mouth so often ranneth over, I NOW have to wade into that boggy mass I've called "stupid retarded sheep" and NOT...be like them.

Unlike that teaching gig that evolved into one of the most satisfying aspects of My career, I can't dedicate every waking hour to be a Journalist. In another forum, I mentioned My childhood desire to be Walter Cronkite. However, I have never been moved to journalism in a Cronkite-like vocation; doing so is beyond My capabilities. And My reality is that I simply have too much to do to become even a consistent (weekly) part-time journalist.


Receiving Press Credentials makes Me a part of a unique group with demanding responsibilities. That the vast majority of those entrusted with these credentials don't understand that is simply the tragedy of being surrounded by mental and moral feebs. Having been admitted to the Fourth Estate, I can't simply sit back and let time pass by, so I have to define what I will do.

Because it's often easier to define by negation, I will begin by stating what I categorically won't do with My Press Credentials:

1) Use them to "justify" parking illegally or quasi-legally. Seems as if Press Credentials are akin to Handicapped Permits, which is understandable given how many retards have Press Credentials. ("How to Win Friends and Influence People" My ass.)

2) Use them to "cover" events for free food or swag. Enough said.

3) Use them to get free admission to events I wouldn't want to pay to get into. First of all, it's wrong. Second, I don't have time to waste on events unless they mean something important to me. "Free" doesn't justify "waste."

Okay, Jenius, cut to the chase. What are you going to do with Press Pass #6523?

(Several minutes pass...then several more...)

1) I will cover events that relate directly to My primary fields of interest: technology, education and family, provided the topic is clearly defined beforehand.

2) I will not cover any politician's "emergency" press conference, or press conferences in polital party headquarters.

3) When I attend a press conference, I will be prepared for the topic or presentation. If for some reason I haven't time to prepare, I will FIRST speak with the Press Liaison/Officer/Wonk to get background information. If there isn't one available and background information is absent, I won't stick around.

4) If the presenter is going to splash PowerPoint slides on a screen and READ them, I will interrupt and request a handout. Whether I get one or not, I'm leaving.

5) If I stay for Questions & Answers, I will ask at least one question. Hopefully, it will be a perceptive, probing question. If not, I hope it royally pisses off somebody in the room.

6) If My question gets answered to My satisfaction, I will write about the event, person, product, program, initiative, activity or proposal presented. I will write My piece providing context for what was presented, according to what I believe would best help frame the information for greater understanding.

7) If I didn't like or agree with what was presented, I will state so unequivocally. If I liked or agreed, I will say so unequivocally. (I don't get paid for being objective. Hell, I don't get paid for this at all. Yet.)

8) My goal is not be a working journalist, but an example of what a journalist should do: Seek Truth. But I will do so on My time, My terms and to My satisfaction. That puts Me ahead of practically every other journalist on...oh...all three points.

Now, a Press Conference with Me:

Will you be doing a lot of "journalism"? No. I have more fun and make more money doing quite a few other things.

Will Your emerging presence as a journalist lead to people reading The Jenius? Yes, eventually. But I didn't think of that when I applied for Press Credentials.

Will Your Jenius writings cause You problems with The Fools? No. They don't read. Some of them can't. And not just English, either.

Is this exciting to You, Jenius? A little. Somewhat like wading into a stagnant pool to retrieve a piece of jewelry: It's icky, but you know there's a reward at some point.

What if You fail? I can't. Anything I provide that's honestly developed for a positive outcome is a valuable contribution. My only failure would be to not try.

When do You start? We'll see. Up to now, past is merely prologue.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

28 August 2006

Exodus Analysis

Reader Chris commented on My "Trickle Rises to Flood" post that he fears that as entrepreneurs and business owners ("the job creators") leave, unemployment will rise, criminality will as well and the government will be as useless then than it is now to deal with the situation. (Chris said it more politely.)

At first glance, he may be right. But let's think this through for a bit.

It isn't altogether certain that entrepreneurs and business owners are a significant majority of the people leaving Puerto Rico. It might be in Chris' social group, but in Mine (admittedly small and eccentric), only a teacher and a Legal Aid lawyer have left. In My friend Laura's social circle, it's mostly professionals, but I gather many of them are self-employed. According to the local Planning Board, in 2003-2004, most of the people switching addresses to points north were in the 50+ age group, most likely retired or semi-retired folks.

Along those lines, We can assume that the exodus features a good cross-section of lower middle class to upper class income level families. One would expect that group to be weighed in the direction of highly educated men and women, with some of them creating jobs. But it seems to Me that the most successful job creators would not be inclined to leave. The ones that are leaving, I believe, are those who can uproot easily, those with the fewest commitments, and that includes those that create few jobs. (But they are still important.)

The fact that relatively educated people are leaving is disturbing, but I don't think it will be as damaging as Chris believes. For one thing, these same people are largely invisible in the maelstrom We call daily life. The prevailing attitude seems to be one of hands flung resignedly in the air in surrender, head hunched down to ignore the surroundings and get back behind their closed-access neighborhood before darkness falls.

If the exodus is really causing a rise in unemployment, We haven't seen it, and given the sub-simian quality of statistical reporting We wallow in, We might not know until the next decade rolls over Us. Let's assume Chris is right and unemployment does rise. How much does it have to rise to be significant?

The current rate is "officially" around 16%, but the true rate is closer to 26-29% and it might be higher. If the "official" rate is pushed to 20%, there might be a problem, but Our government is so pathetic right now that it will be like opening a branch ditch to an overflowing outhouse. Toss in the ham-fisted impact of the upcoming sales and import taxes and then you do have a darker scenario looming ahead. And in that scenario, criminality is bound to rise.

So is Chris wrong? Not really, but I believe he's telescoping several years into a few and who knows what the future may really bring. Then again, when it comes to making a bad situation worse, We seem to have the Dream Team of Stupid Evildoers playing 24/7.

We could use a few Caped Crusaders about now. And don't look for them amongst the ones who have left and are leaving, for We all know who are the proverbial first to leave the sinking ship...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

25 August 2006

Poverty Unseen

There is no poverty in Puerto Rico.

The house sits alongside a winding back-road. Slim trees surround it like a gap-toothed fence. The size and shape of a residential trailer, the house is made of wood, perched on short stilts. The wood is gray, untouched by anything other than water and wind. Warped, uneven planks give the illusion of being able to see inside.

The door has a diagonal cross-plank made of a different wood, a lighter, newer piece of scrap wood. At night, the door is closed and no hint of light peeks through the gaps. Under the rain, the house sits, a stiffened cat afraid to shrug.

There is no poverty in Puerto Rico.

A man lives in the gray, gapped house. He stands about five foot six, with a slight paunch and a full head of whitish hair. Several times a week, late-model cars park alongside the narrow winding road in front of the house, creating a traffic hazard. On those days, the man can be seen standing in the doorway, framed by a skewed rectangle, his visitors on the outside step, speaking earnestly or gazing away from the house.

There is no poverty in Puerto Rico.

Sometimes, the door is open and no one is parked outside. On those days, the man is often seated in a faded armchair, that once may have been yellow, beige or brown. On those days, in the two seconds it takes to drive by, one can see objects in the house, shapeless, nameless things that are neither furniture nor appliance. No light ever shines. No antenna or dish dot the roof. It seems as if metal were yet to be discovered.

There is no poverty in Puerto Rico.

The man may be mentally ill or emotionally disturbed. Judging by his visitors, he may be the latter, for he seems to dominate the small chats that pockmark his days. His skin is ruddy, but pale, the skin of an outdoorsman shrinking to shut-in. He never glances at the car that passes, he never leaves the house. None of the neighbors are sure of his name. Not even the Post Office knows what his address is.

There is no poverty in Puerto Rico.

Over the past decade, I've heard five people say that, without sarcasm, irony or shred of naivety. They mean it. They firmly believe that Puerto Rico has achieved the ideal state of sans poverty, the utopia of abundance for every man, woman and child becoming a reality in Our little corner of heaven.

The gray house a minute's walk from cement-laden $400,000 homes is thus an isolated exhibit of poverty, a tiny gallery of what once was, but is no more. An example of the past. A showcase of what We have overcome. A living diorama of nostalgic tragedy.

The gray house sits by many sides of many narrow winding roads, alongside paved streets in cities and towns, amongst farmlands and fields, near rivers, on lots owned by the government, in abandoned apartments, on the streets themselves and in places too awful for the overly-sensitive or willingly-blind to see.

There is poverty in Puerto Rico. There is too much of it, so much that even the most egregious examples are marked by indifference, if not outright denial. The gray house shelters a man Our system hasn't helped. Maybe it can't. Maybe it doesn't want to. Maybe the man would rather it didn't and the system--mysteriously--does his bidding.

Poverty exists, it is real and We can't deny it and make it not be. Some of Us try. None of Us should.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

23 August 2006

Paltry Buffet

---Completing a hideous trifecta, a man who claims he was "inspired" by the shooting and abandonment of a two-year old, picks up his eight-month old son and slams him to the floor, causing massive injuries to the baby. There is no hell deep enough for people like this.

---On the plus side, the two-year old boy shot and abandoned is recovering well. His life is never going to be normal, but Let's hope it achieves some semblance of normalcy very soon.

---The senator whose good buddy the drug dealer was gunned down is now in another vat of hot water for putting up a billboard illegally. Seems this caca-brained Fool put it up after his infamous invitation to the drug dealer was made public. Only a Fool of his horribly-diminished mental capacity would think a billboard could save his (non)reputation. And get this: seems he stole the billboard, removing someone else's promotion to put up his. The monkeys have long been in the Metro Area...

---More and more noise is being made about the combined effects of the local import tax and newly-passed sales tax. The hit is in the 13.6% range and it includes food and medicine. Oh, is this going to play out well! Not only does no one have the slightest idea how the tax collection and distribution will be managed, We're already seeing the effects of taxation: prices rising and misapplications galore. Though the tax excludes business-to-business sales, many businesses are reporting that a "tax" is being added to their B-to-B purchases. It's illegal if it's called a tax, but not if it's called a "price hike" or "rate adjustment" or just "the cost of doing business."

And with the 13.6% hit coming November 15th, I'm glad My birthday is the 12th. People can actually save money by buying Me an expensive gift in pre-tax dollars!

---In another one of those "The Fools are unimaginably stupid" decisions, legislation is pending to exclude welfare recipients from paying a sales tax on their food purchases. The PAN funds that provide recipients with cash to buy foods and staple goods are provided through a Federal block grant, managed locally. To apply a tax on those funds requires Federal approval; to exclude them now requires local and Federal approval. In other words, when you mess with Uncle Sam's money, you have to dance to Uncle Sam's tune. What started out as a vote-getting stunt will become a major headache and another monkey-wrench in the sputtering local economy.

---Speaking of the local economy, during 2006, only 4 new major (500+ jobs) company launches or company expansions have been made in Puerto Rico. Actually, only two have been made, with two pending. Near as I can find out, no more are scheduled until mid-2007. Makes Me wonder...

---The outhouse local legislature started public hearings on what will happen to Puerto Rico when Cuba's economy opens. Here's My take on this: What the hell are you doing focusing on Cuba when We have terrible problems--many of which you Fools created--right here? Let Cubans worry about Cuba and you dimwads try--try, dammit--to make yourselves useful for once in your pathetic lives.

Want to know what will happen when Cuba's economy opens? Here's what: We're screwed. We go from being an occasional blip on the U.S. radar to stealth invisibility in about 13.6 hours. Dollars will flow to Cuba like We slaveringly dream they would to Us and many of those dollars will be ones We would have received. Tourism will be hit like We've been shot and Our economy will go from sputtering to tubercular lung-hack. Why? Because We've wasted Our time in political monkeyshines rather than seeking Our deserved position on the global economy.

You Fools want to do public hearings to "prepare" for Cuba's opening? You're 30 years too late, 300 times too stupid and 3,000 hours from finding out what's really going to happen.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

21 August 2006


My Thanks to Rebecca MacKinnon, of Global Voices, for selecting another Jenius post. I always feel honored when that happens.

---A two-year old boy is shot twice by his often-abusive father and left for dead in an abandoned car. Twenty-four hours later, the boy is found by two policemen during a routine check. The boy, barely alive, is rushed to the hospital by two veteran cops who still can't talk about those moments without breaking into tears.

Along the same nauseating lines, a two-year old girl is raped and beaten to death. One of the policemen assigned to the case trembled visibly a few days later as he described the scene, rage and sadness tumbling out in choked words.

We often cast Our police in a brutal light and chidingly whitewash Our inept youth as parents, but it shouldn't take a filthy punk's shooting of a toddler and the brutal death of a baby girl to make Us wake up to the reality that not all Our cops are punks and not all Our punks should be allowed to reproduce.

---There's a prediction going around--waaay after Yours Truly tossed it out there--that the 6.6% import tax will be tacked on to the 7% sales tax come November 15th, casting the mega-buying Christmas season into a wallowing ditch. We've already seen how the second-best buying season (Mother's Day) was severely curtailed by Our elected thieves and freaks, so tell Me: Is Our so-called government sending Us all to economic hell, one buying season at a time?

---Would you believe the outhouse of representatives vice-president Epifanio "Epi Schleppy" Jiménez went on a local "game" show, one whose main attraction is silicone-bolstered boobs (and surgically-enhanced breasts), to take a lie detector test?

Get Me the knife.

Unoddly enough, the boob show ended without any findings. This was an elected leader, holding one of the highest offices in Our government, going onto a "Gong Show" scenario to "prove" his innocence. All he proved is that he has only contempt for his position, contempt for the voters and We're equally contemptuous for not beating "Epifartio's" brainlessness out of office.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

18 August 2006

Trickle Rises to Flood

An interesting remark by Chris Borg, president of BorgSolutions, launched Me into some research. Chris told Me one of his friends was moving to Orlando and couldn't find a moving company to take her things there sooner than four months from the time she was calling.

Four. Months.

That got Me to calling moving companies. I called seven local ones, pretending that I was moving my family's belongings to Raleigh, North Carolina. Of the seven companies, six couldn't take on My "move" until late September. In fact, four of them couldn't "move" Me until October, unless I paid extra for special service or a cancellation happened.

This week I had lunch with my good friend Laura, whose social circle is heavily weighed with people in the upper middle class and higher tax brackets. By the sheerest coincidence, she brought up this "exodus" observation just as I was about to ask her if she had noticed something like that. In Laura's case, more than a dozen of her friends and acquaintances have left the Island in the past few months.

I have posted on the exodus of doctors, but what this observation adds is that the trickle is becoming a current which in due time could become a flood. The families leaving Puerto Rico are not the migrant workers of 50-60 years ago: now it's professionals who simply cannot remain here and achieve satisfaction, peace of mind and/or their goals.

Laura mentioned two other trends: Puerto Ricans seeking European citizenships (mainly from Spain) and parents of high schoolers sending their children to schools in the States, no matter what the cost.

The citizenship issue seems clear: an alternative to the deteriorating value of U.S. citizenship and a fall-back to its eventual elimination for Puerto Ricans. But the high schoolers' forced exile is different, for it cuts to the heart of Our daily life: Parents are seeking a better future for their children by preserving them from the dangers of Our present. And their solution is to simply get them out of here.

Yep, gettin' outta Dodge, podner. But gettin' isn't an option for most of Us. How's the business owner going to leave? How are the marginal-incomers and those with less going to leave? If the folks whose preparation, skills and experience make them more suited to make a difference for Puerto Rico leave the Island, who will take up the slack? If the middle disappears, what will happen when the "top" and "bottom" collapse into each other?

I'm not leaving, at least for 10-15 years. My son lives here, therefore I will stay. Even when I could have left, I chose to stay, for this is My home. But if My home becomes a hellhole (that seems to be the common pessimistic view), is staying the best option? Is fighting the massive forces of indifference, corruption, chicanery, demagoguery, malice and violence worth it?

I know My answer. If the "best-suited" players leave, then We play with who's left. The fact is, We'll probably play better because We have more to gain and less to oppose Our efforts. The people that are leaving are the most conservative, the ones who wish the status quo that props them up would remain as stagnant as the water on The Fools' brains. When the party poopers leave, the rest of Us can boogie down.

(So to speak.)

We can view the exodus as a crisis or as an opportunity. Maybe We should see it as both, so that the urgency of the crisis fuels the adrenaline of the opportunity. In any case, as My grandmother used to say: Los que se van no hacen falta...Those that leave aren't needed.

I hope We don't. Because If We do, then We're looking at a long downhill slide into even darker shadows.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

16 August 2006

Non-Random Thoughts II

---I said Hector "I Hang With Drug Dealers" Martínez lied and he admitted it. In an unsurprising turn of events, his fellow muck-wallower and president of the senate Kenneth "If I had Another Brain Cell, I'd Be Half as Dumb" McClintock stated that he "can't see a reason for an Ethics investigation" in this matter. Of course he can't: you have to know and have ethics before you can use it as a standard.

---The local Verizon operation--a de facto monopoly--has been sold to a Mexican telecommunications company. Not news, really. What is news is that the employee share of the company IS being sold.

Skipping over how We ended up with a legalized roadhog barring the way to telecom progress, the sale of employee shares at a time when a Mexican company is taking over probably means that the bloated phone company will be seriously reduced in size. Verizon tried to do that, but was hampered by the take-over agreement. I believe that this time, the dial tone will go mute on several hundred employees and that it won't take long before We see it happen.

---For those of you who may have noticed, The Jenius hasn't mentioned a "walk around the mall"-type survey in a while. Reason: the last one depressed Me. I asked 44 adults to mention five incidents in Puerto Rico's history. The first 10 I asked couldn't give Me any, not even something like the recent government shutdown. Eventually, over 30 adults answered with mainly blank stares. A handful mentioned 1 or 2 incidents. Only the 44th person, a woman, rattled off five. Why? She'd helped her daughter through her school class on the history of Puerto Rico during the past school year. What depressed Me most was hearing more than one person say that "the history of Puerto Rico isn't that important." I wish there were a DELETE button for My Life.

---A book on sexuality described as "overtly explicit" has been pulled from public schools classrooms by (mis)education secretary Rafael "I Ride a Rotting Whale" Aragunde. Despite a lengthy review and evaluation process at the administrative level, which presumably includes teachers (around here, you just can't assume it does), a handful of teachers protest the book and in a matter of minutes, the secretary orders a recall and states that "Parents should review the book and make their own decision (about it)." I don't care how the secretary and his blubber-butt cohorts at (mis)education want to spin this, but this was nowhere near an educational decision: it was a political one. And a craven one, to boot.

Rather than take the complaints for what they are (minor dissent) and maintain a posture of "business as usual" (such as it is), Rafy-Daffy overreacts and throws a hissy-fit. If the book weren't about sexuality, would the decision "process" be the same? If a book on Puerto Rican history had a chapter on "Taíno Genocide" and 20-30 teachers protested that, would the book be pulled immediately and parents told to "read it and decide"? The point isn't--or shouldn't be--that the book is about sexuality, but that the way this is being handled is totally, utterly wrong.

If the book is "too sexual," whose standards will apply: those of a minority or the majority? If some teachers find the book dangerous and/or disturbing, but the parents don't, who will prevail at the classroom level? And by caving in like a cheap house of cards at the slightest breeze, Rafy-Laffy sets a precedent that will be exploited like a cheap drug-addicted hooker in a guerrilla camp.

School's out before it even began...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

14 August 2006

Crowd Wisdom Formula

The Jenius has long subscribed to the notion that "the majority is wrong." Then along comes James Surowiecki, writes "The Wisdom of Crowds," and suddenly the "Well, most people think this way, so it must be right" form of idiocy gains even greater precedence, in everything from websites to U.S. presidential non-thinking.

But when you read the book, you discover that it isn't any crowd that makes wiser decisions, but a crowd with certain characterisitics. These are:

1. Diversity. A group with a variety of points of view makes better decisions than one where everyone has the same information/expertise.

2. Independence. Groups that have independent thinkers, those that eschew peer pressure to reach their own conclusions, do better than those composed of "sheep."

3. Decentralization. When multiple power foci exist, the overall decisions are better and have greater impact. (The open source software process is a good example.)

4. Filtering and Focusing. It's impossible to gather a crowd's wisdom unless the sum of its input is filtered (for relevancy) and focused. That's where an individual comes in, a manager or leader who can bring together the diverse threads and weave them into a tapestry that is both functional and appealing. As you can imagine, this is the most difficult condition to satisfy, for quality leadership is scarce, situations are often fluid, there's never one "best" solution and crowds seldom move in the same direction at the same time (hard to coalesce.)

So how does this apply to Puerto Rico?

1) Diversity? Not as much as We'd like to think, because We, in fact, discourage it. We don't cotton differences too well, as they'd say in Dixie.

2) Independence? See above. Our whole system is designed to create a "unified mentality"--one more akin to a state of coma than one of action. If anything, We tend to wait to hear what other people's opinions are before We tend to form Our own, something like waiting for another person to eat before We fart.

3) Decentralization? No. We suffer from "boss-itis," the notion that the boss makes all the decisions, thus does all the thinking. Comes from being pounded in school that there's only one way, only one answer and you have to wait to do what you're told to do before you can even think about doing it.

4) Filtering and Focusing? Yeah, right. Like We actually have a notion of leadership... Here, Our largest "wise crowds" are company-sized, so it is only at that level that We can actually see some higher-than-individual-scale wisdom. Go bigger than that and you have chaos.

What We have in Puerto Rico is an undiversified, herd-mentality, bureaucratically-crooked "crowd control" system, mainly centered around the government. What could break it?

---New elected public servants.

---A smarter, more probing media.

---An educational system aimed at developing thinking skills.

---A refocusing of Our attention on the world around Us, not on Our own belly button.

---A change in attitude from "They do to Us" to "We choose to do."

Wisdom of the crowds? No, We have mass stupidity. For now.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

11 August 2006

Making Economic Growth Happen

---As predicted, on the workday before school starts next week, a measly work brigade with a battered digger began tearing up Carbonell Street again. Five fat guys in bulging safety vests wriggled across the dirt, accomplishing nothing except the creation of a dust cloud. Woo-hoo.

The Jenius has a file called "Stuff 101." It's a collection of odds and ends found while surfing the Web. Here's one such piece, from late January, 2006:

Almost every study on government support for entrepreneurial activity aimed at economic growth cites the following three policy actions as key factors:

1) - Cut regulation of small business
2) - Cut and simplify taxes
3) - Educate entrepreneurs on the basics of business formation and growth management

Now guess how many of these Puerto Rico is actually doing?

You got it: None. Zero. Zip, zilch, nada, el big-o goose-egg-o.

The list is from a post in The Entrepreneurial Mind. The blog's title is interesting because as an entity, the government of Puerto Rico doesn't have an entrepreneurial mind. It used to have a laborer's mind, all muscles and machines, but lately, going back to that mentality would be an improvement because Our government has simply lost its mind.

Can a government have an entrepreneurial mind? Of course it can. In fact, it might be the only viable state of mind (pardon the pun) that a government can have. Forward-thinking, a vision for opportunities, minimizing risks, hell-bent on making a difference, striving for growth, aiming for satisfied customers, bold and self-confident...These are the traits of the entrepreneur, as well as that of a government on the fast-track to success.

Consider the alternatives:

--- Complacent government: Nothing new is attempted, the past reigns supreme, don't make waves. Stagnation follows. Think Cuba.

--- Belligerent government: Destroy rather than create, gains are wrenched from others (even from citizens), shoot first ask questions later. Chaos ensues. Or another election is stolen like U.S.A. 2000 and 2004.

--- Selfish government: Politicians as parasites, centralized power struggles over minor issues, corruption. Stupidity ensues. Bienvenido a Puerto Rico.

Are there entrepreneurial governments out there? What would you call Singapore, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia? Almost every month one or more of them sets a new standard for business and economic growth, whether it's lowering taxes for export-based businesses or streamlining regulations to cut processing time by 90% or launching a website to coordinate business development with long-range economic policies. And aren't We tired of hearing how these competitors are righteously kicking Our butts? Well, We keep hearing it because Our butts keep getting kicked.

What has Puerto Rico done lately in this arena? Think "Bizarro World," where the opposite of reality is commonplace:

--- Regulations for small busineses have increased since 1998, despite a much-trumpeted "fast-track" system for permits and licenses. By many accounts, it takes the same time to fast-track something as it took to do it "normally" before, except that now you have to (legally) pay more money to get things to happen.

--- Taxes have gone up and will do so again. Enough said.

--- What passes for entrepreneurial education in Puerto Rico is like learning about the ocean by watching SpongeBob SquarePants: it is laughable, childish and a squirrel (from Texas!) is smarter by far.

Okay, enough with the bashing. What can We do?

1) Disband the local Retailer's Union (Centro Unido de Detallistas). They purport to represent small and medium-sized businesses, but they are a nothing but a whiny, incestuous canker sore masquerading as a business group. Why do I start here? Because getting rid of them opens a long-closed door to effective ideas and competent people.

2) Draft legislation aimed at three major targets: simplifying the permits and licenses procedures; reducing the tax burden for self-employed and small (under 25 employee) businesses and establish incentives for knowledge-based businesses that generate at least 33% of their revenue from non-local markets.

3) Throw The Fools out. Elect candidates who, even if they don't really understand what it is to be an entrepreneur, understand that over 65% of Our economic wealth is generated from small and medium-sized businesses. If they can understand that (a big "if" in My mind), We have a chance to gain some ground.

Okay, Let's get it done.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

09 August 2006

Four-Part Harmony

Part The First: Echoing a previous post, The Jenius once again reigns supreme in Google searches for "bat snot."

I know: you're impressed.

And for good measure, the top two results in "how to learn pessimism" mention Yours Truly. Not that they should, but they do.

Please hold your applause until the end.

Part The Second: Yesterday, an otherwise brilliant person used the following "defense" for the fecal-filled senator who invited a known drug dealer to visit prisons during official senate visits: "The guy (drug dealer) was never convicted in court, so under the presumption of innocence, there's no reason to be going after the senator."

Ha. And let me add: hogswill.

But then...it got worse. The otherwise brilliant gentleman went on to say that "The senator simply invited one of his constituents. He was representing one of his constituents and thus had the right to invite him to see the work being done."


Yes, the now-dead drug dealer was never convicted in court. But under the "Duck Corollary' (If it walks, talks and looks like a duck...) the guy was obviously a drug dealer. And in any case, his being gunned down on the street is more a "Miami Vice" murder mystery than a "Miss Marple" tea-cozy puzzler and that's exactly how the police are treating it.

Al Capone was never found guilty in a court of anything but tax evasion. I suppose that under My friend's insipidly-unreal """defense""" (the extra quotation marks are to denote sarcasm; get it?), Capone was not a gangster.

Furthermore, what is this about "inviting constituents" that can serve as a defense? Was a drug dealer the ONLY person this stupid-to-the-max senator could think of to invite to an inspection tour of prisons? No one else? Who does this fecal-filled fool represent then?

And on the matter of the relationship, let Me be blunt: Hector Martínez is a liar. He lied about not knowing the drug dealer, he lied about the "reason" for inviting him, he lied about not knowing what the drug dealer did for a "living"... He lied. Period.

Part The Third: My good friend José Rodríguez, of LasFinanzas.com fame, sent Me a link to Kiva, an organization that allows people to send money and help microentrepreneurs around the world. Kiva helps people in Africa, Asia, Central and South America to build a small business by pooling donations and tracking repayment.

Yes, repayment. Like the microbanks that launched an entreprenuerial revolution in India, Kiva looks to improve a person's or family's standard of living by providing start-up capital in the form of a low-interest loan. To you, $800 might be a couple days' worth of salary, but to someone in Ecuador, Bangladesh or Zaire, it's an immense amount of money and can literally change their lives forever.

I bring this up because if there's anything that Puerto Ricans do well (and the list, more positive than negative, is quite long) it is in providing aid to those in need where We truly set a high standard. Year after year, Puerto Ricans donate more money and goods per capita than the U.S. and other industrialized nations. (By and large, the G-8 are sorry givers, at the per capita level.) Hopefully, bringing Kiva to Our attention will help motivate that generous spirit to keep fueling a worldwide economic revolution, one microentreprenuer at a time.

Part The Fourth: You may applaud now.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

07 August 2006

Non-Random Observations

---Quoting Myself: If reincarnation exists and I come back as a chancre on a roach's ass, I'd still be worth more than a politician.

---The Popular Democratic Party has its lengthy list of corrupt, venal and criminal politicians, but it's NOWHERE near as long as that of the New Progressive Party. Yes, I'm saying that there are lots more estadista scum than scummy populares. Deal with it, because We have to.

---That organized crime and government go together like milk-and-cookies is a common occurrence in the U.S., Italy and Japan. That it is a common ocurrence in Puerto Rico can be conclusively proven as the current "investigation" into the stupid senators who dealt directly with a known drug dealer wends its way through the coming days.

---NOW, does anyone remember or give a tinker's damn about the $3,000 suits the jellyfish governor of Ours received as "gifts" or whatever the spineless wonder claimed that mess was? Information Soldier, your "political memory" website idea (post in Spanish) has gone beyond "vital" to "mandatory" as a tool to help get Us on the right track. Count Me in to lend two hands.

---I said it before and I'll say it again: Unless We make a concerted effort to disrupt the fetid momentum of the Fecal-Filled Fools, 90% of them will be re-elected in 2008. I mean that: 90%. Because as a democracy, We have the collective IQ of a banana.

---Too many Fools walk around with the idea that gaining 54% of the vote gives them a "mandate." That's like saying you can buy a Ferarri with food stamps: What you got ain't anywhere near enough to close the deal.

However, when you as the Fecal-Filled government ASK the people what they want and they return a clear majority, THEN you have a mandate. Let Me remind you scumbags that 84%--EIGHTY-FOUR PERCENT--of Us voted FOR unicamerality. So, loopy, lawless, lunkheaded legislature, you have a mandate to move towards unicamerality. Not that you will, unless We can convince your shrunken lizard-stem ganglia that money will flow to your pockets if you do... {And if you trash-feeders want to allege that "only" 22% of the registered voters participated, you're barking down the wrong sumphole: You accepted the rules of the game, so you can't change them after the fact went against you.}

---Despite the brilliance of the idea of forming a third party in Puerto Rico to clean out the legislature (called in Spanish Partido de Saneamiento Legislativo, or PASALE), it won't amount to much. In two-party democracies, a third party is mildly successful when the members of one party are sufficiently disgusted with it to follow someone's lead into becoming a fractionate minority.

Incredibly, despite Our constant force-feeding of sewage by T.F-F.F., despite the overwhelming evidence that they are morally bankrupt, intellectually retarded, emotionally deranged and just plain disgusting as faux humans, We as a people are not disgusted enough to launch a third party and make something good of it. Sure, we sign petitions and discuss it over beers, but when push comes to shove, We'll wimp out.

---Here's the "light" at the end of the tunnel: When the whole outhouse We call government is ripped open, We won't have to do much to shred The Fools. Like hyenas with rotting meat, they'll rip each other up in demented frenzy. Let's hope that day is soon.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

04 August 2006

Education and Technology

The future of [INSERT COUNTRY/STATE HERE] boils down to two main areas of development: education and technology.

I don't think reasonably bright people will argue with Me on this one. (Reasonably dumb and unreasonably stupid people, of which there is an overabundance, will argue anything.) In the growing global economy, where ideas matter more than ever and implementing them effectively and efficiently involves adaptation and creation of technologies, education and technology rule.

I'm not saying anything that hasn't been said before, even by Me. In fact, these two focal points have been at the center of nearly every discussion of global growth of any magnitude in practically every forum since the early 1990s. So why in the name of the deepest pits of hell doesn't Puerto Rico get it?

Like a logjam that keeps piling up scrap or a tumor swelling as its parasitic needs increase, the blockage We experience in Puerto Rico about the vital need to improve education and enhance technology grows without control. With rare exceptions, progress has been stagnant since the 1970s.

---The education curriculum in Puerto Rico is but a pale imitation of the U.S.'s, which has been repeatedly shown to be deficient for global standards. A pale copy of a bad picture is an image I leave for you to analyze. The basic tenets of Our educational system are awash in political prejudices (We had a retarded ape of an Education Secretary who stole money for political campaigns), cultural inequalities (ask any Puerto Rican about Puerto Rican history and learn the meaning of "void") and 1950s "work in a factory" rote learning. The primary reason private schools are "better" is not that they have a better grasp of education, but that they force parental participation: just by charging them high fees they get parents involved in at least the pursuit of "their money's worth."

---Puerto Rico's insistence on pushing for manufacturing growth in the face of undisputed global manufacturing shrinkage is like wanting to produce buggy whips back in the heyday of the Model T. Fixated on the past, the present and future raced beyond Our reach. The "Puerto Rico Model" of industrial growth became the "Singapore/Ireland Kick Puerto Rico's Butt" Plan. Their transition differs from Ours in two very significant ways: they made effective education a priority and they moved away from manufacturing as their central goal. Neither of these choices requires great intelligence to make, but they both require discipline and creativity to entrench successfully.

And that's where We fail. We don't "want" discipline, We don't "want" to exert Ourselves in creativity. We still want the "think for Me, punch a clock, cash a check, get a measly bonus, retire on a pension" plan. We may SAY We don't, but Our collective lack of will to make fundamental changes proves Me right.

Is education important to the average one of Us? Oh, yeah! Damn important! So why do We still put up with an English-(non)teaching system that has a 70% failure rate after 12 YEARS of instruction? Over 70% of Us cannot carry on an adult conversation in English, nor write a simple business letter nor read USA Today with any appreciable degree of understanding. This has been going for decades. And yet, We keep saying education is important.

Sciences? The average student in Our 12th grade has taken fewer science courses than most other students in industrialized nations. I recently discovered that the high school biology text used here is actually the junior high school text used in some States, and is even farther behind what South Korean or German students use. Ditto for math, where the average 12th grader can barely handle basic arithmetic without using a calculator.

Skills? Here are the skills Our students are taught to excel in: short-term memorization, bullshitting, whining, cheating, plagiarism, lying and blackmail. Think I'm kidding? Ask one of Our teachers if the list I give you doesn't portray actions and activities s/he encounters every day. Where's the emphasis on critical thinking, reasoning, evaluation of data, information management, creativity, results-oriented planning and self-evaluation so freaking essential to success in the 21st century? Well, they're in My first list, only aimed at petty transient issues rather than at global long-term ones.

Manufacturing? When the eminent manufacturer of the world starts making big noise about "moving up the value chain" and enhancing its intellectual business base, you know something's up. China caught on in 15 years; We're still foggy about this after 50.

Education and technology have always gone hand in hand. Learning, thinking, reasoning and imagination are as much a part of education as they are of technology. But where learning is deficient, thinking is suppressed or disdained, reasoning is laughed at as "useless work" and imagination is solely aimed at self-gratification rather than self-growth, both of these tremendous tools are blunted to the point of uselessness.

Maybe Our new tourism slogan should be: Welcome to the Dull Blade of the Caribbean.

It takes friction to sharpen a blade. Let the friction begin.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

02 August 2006


Get a load of this:

A fecal-filled fool of a senator, with the consent of the vice president of that sewer called the senate of Puerto Rico, invites a known--known--drug dealer on official visits to prisons. When said drug dealer is later shot for, oh, who knows why, another senator repeatedly intercedes with Medical Center staff to get the bullet-riddled guy some extra-special attention.

Then, to top off this descent into unforseen depths of idiocy, an assistant district attorney, a former deputy director of the Special Investigations Unit of the Police Department is also linked to the now-dead-as-a-doorknob drug dealer, having signed and "fast-tracked" the petition to get the dope (dealer) a handgun.

Because, you know, business is harsh out there.

Let's name names, shall We? The moron who invited his childhood friend the dope dealer to visit prisons as an "expert in the penal system" (apparently under the heading of "market research," right?) is Hector "I'm Bitter Cuz I Can't Pass the Bar Exam" Martínez, president of the senate commission on Safety, after having been denied the position of senate judicial committee chairman. (Can't cut it as a lawyer so he wants to have power over judges. Microcephalic, actually.)

Heckie-Dreckie has offered up several contradictory versions to "explain" his relationship and (lack of) reasoning in having a drug dealer involved in official senate duties. None make sense. None ever will. But what distinguishes Hector the Delictor is the monumental stupidity he has arrogantly thrust at Us, by making denials when evidence was beyond doubt and by "momentarily" resigning his commission presidency. "Momentarily"?! That's exactly like saying that his drug-dealing friend is "momentarily" dead.

The senate vice-president (as in "the position under the president" and not as "president of vice," which I understand is shared by everybody in the freaking legislature) is Epifanio "I Don't Need a Nickname Cuz 'Epi' Is Too Damn Funny" Jiménez, who knew the drug dealer and knew he was present during these senate visits to their future homes and let it happen every time. Peppy Epi could have been brainwashed, but that would imply there was actually something to wash in the first place.

The senator interceding on behalf of a shot-up creep was Lornna "My Dad's Insane and That's Hereditary" Soto, a woman so shrill and brittle she could be used for Defense Department sound vibration weapon tests. Why did she intercede? When she gives a straight rational answer, We'll all be surprised.

The assistant district attorney and the ex-police special investigations sub-director is José "I'm Failing Upwards!" Lozada. He reached his lofty D.A. position after having to resign his deputy director post because he "suddenly" acquired a top-of-the-line Mercedes Benz sedan, without any proof of purchase. Maybe he found it somewhere.

Here's the bottom line: We are in the grasp of sewage vermin. They only add layers of filth to what is already the deepest outhouse We've ever had the displeasure of peering into. And the hunch I have is that this disgusting series of antics is simply going to get worse.

And the drug dealer's name? Who cares? He's dead.

The Jenius Has Spoken.