30 October 2006

Three Cards from Kaleb

They are pinned to the freezer door by a series of magnetic items. One is a bottle opener, very much past its prime. They flutter slightly when the wind takes an easterly heading, something that doesn't happen very often.

These three folded sheets of paper are hand-drawn cards from My son, Kaleb, to Me. One says De: Kaleb, Para: Papi over a gift with a twirly "bow." Inside there's a race track with four cars flashing along. It seems his favorite car, Number 48, is in first place.

In an interesting reversal, the next card opens to the left and has the inscription Para: Papi, De: Kaleb on the front, over a gift with an even bigger twirly bow. Inside there's a truck, an amazingly long truck with smoke coming up beneath small clouds and a bright sun.

The third simply says Para: Papi and between this and the gift with a less twirly bow are four hearts. On the back there are 25 hearts, with one huge heart enclosing a medium-sized heart and 11 small ones, all this flanked by 12 medium ones. He knows hearts mean love. He told Me so.

Inside there's a sun wearing sunglasses, a small cloud that seems to be raining, a large truck, a small one and a box with legs, all of them traveling across a narrow two-lane road. Above the box, a twirly bow. The box's side has a scrawl, drawn harshly. And above the large truck, like a shout, is a massive skein of whirls, a wiry chaos that is so dark where everything else has been so light.

It seems obvious that his whirls express what he cannot--or will not--say. Thinking back to when I was the child of a divorce, I vividly remember the conflicted feelings, the overwhelming need to say something, but keeping quiet for fear of the unknown. And I was 12 at the time; Kaleb is merely 6.

Maybe I work too much, occasionally doing work when he's with Me because that's what We are used to doing, and I sometimes need to use "his" time to complete My goals. But now, even though We're together, instead of spending more time together later, We're faced with being separated. I try very hard to not have to work when Kaleb is here with Me, but Our future needs My time, too.

Maybe it's My conflict that he feels, My lack of balance that he picks up and somehow tries to manage. It isn't his and he truly cannot hope to deal well with it, but he tries so very hard. I know, because I tried so very hard, too, back in those dark days. And I can't remember succeeding.

Then again, he's growing up and facing greater challenges in school. Yet he handles those with aplomb, with panache, even, a sort of "aw shucks" shrug after another perfect score, another "Excellent", another glowing note from his teacher. Like Me, he'd rather be known for a first place in the 50-yard dash or throwing the farthest in the softball toss. That's My boy...and I worry as much as I feel pride.

Kaleb is not the perfect child, nor do I want him to be. He will have problems, he will face disappointments and he will occasionally, maybe even frequently, fail. That's Life. I'll be there for him every step of the way. But what I don't want is for him to take on burdens that are rightfully Mine, to feel the pain of My own failings in coming to terms with My new life. He has enough to handle without adding Me and Mine. It's natural for Me to always feel his pains and sufferings, but not so, I believe, for him to feel Mine.

And yet, all I can do is try to resolve whatever conflicts I might have, aware that the twirly bow and the chaotic skein are both degrees of caring from the loving heart of My little boy.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

27 October 2006

Out With the Lepers

The calm before the storm...

Sure, there are corruption cases, economic woes, social disasters and political idiocies gallivanting across the Isle of Enchanment, but overall, We're in a lull. One of those cyclical downturns in Our media's over-reliance and obvious addiction to innuendo, confusion, anxiety and hysteria.

But unlike most other fallow periods, this one feels ominous. The sales tax debacle looms but two and a half weeks away. The impact of this single-digit number will hit with a delayed reaction and We, staggering already under incompetence and pessimism, will feel the punch some weeks later. And when We do, it'll rock Our little world.

Does it have to be that way? Of course not, but Our options are extremely limited:

1) Can We absorb the tax itself within Our finances? No. A 7% tax on most consumer goods (except food, medicines and most vehicles) will still hit Us in too many other areas to be easily absorbed. Take schoolbooks, already obscenely overpriced: add 7% to them and you have an average impact of around $25.00 more per child. Private school, of course. Those parents already pay twice for schooling, so let's squeeze them a little more, right?

2) Can Our businesses take this in stride and regulate prices? No. As noted before, costs for nearly every business in Puerto Rico will go up, because those who must handle the tax burden will pass on the cost of doing so to those who don't. So even if a business is exempt from collecting the tax (and thus dealing with its monthly hassle), that business will still have to raise prices or rates to cover their own payments to those who deal directly with the tax.

3) Will the government make good use of these monies? Hell no. Even if you ask a simpler question, one with a much lower standard, such as Can the government try to make good use of the tax monies?, the answer is still "Hell no." The tax monies are not collected for any other reason except to increase the power of the government to control the Island's plunge into a wrecked future. You want proof?

---The Electronic Lottery monies were to be directed to the department of education. Has the department improved at all, despite the 13-16 million "targeted for technology" dollars it has received for the past several years? No. In fact, We're losing Federal grants due to Our simian performance.

---The tollbooth fares are targeted for road repair and maintenance. Said tolls were raised almost 50% in the past few years, and yet, the overall condition of Our roads has been steadily downgraded by the Federal Department of Transportation, despite an influx of almost $30 million a year.

Now it is true that $45 million are not going to solve any or even major problems in education and roadways. But they are supposed to achieve some semblance of progress, because they were created and designed for a specific goal. In both cases, the stated goals are like the Moon and the programs are barely reaching higher than a latrine.

Given this level of incompetence and indifference, what makes anyone think that The Fools will take hundreds of millions of dollars and actually do something worthy with them? They might make a mistake once in a while and actually nail a good move, but overall, they are incapable--and unwilling--to do what's right.

Oh, sure, they might say they want to do what's right and, in fact, they are being honest. For in saying "I want to do what's right," The Fool is speaking a partial Truth, a half-lie, if you will. For the complete Fool phrase is "I want to do what's right for me."

"That's politics for you," I can hear some of you say. You're wrong. That's like having leprosy and saying "That's life." For like leprosy, this kind of politics is revolting, tortuous and...curable. In Our modern time, leprosy no longer casts a horrid shadow on Our lives, for it can be treated and eliminated. In the past, lepers were outcast, ostracized, sent away to live out their existence away from the sight of "Us decent folks."

If We aren't going to cure the leprosy in Our own politics, then I suggest We go back to what worked in the past and send away these lepers, these hell-bound plungers of Our Future, to keep them away from Us decent folks.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

26 October 2006

Three Lists

I've read over and over again that one thing people love to find in blogs is lists. So here, in the spirit of "Why one when three can be done?"...lists.

Here's one list that weighs on Me right now, as I've watched My overall level of productivity drop below My normal. Since I'm a freelancer, it is entirely My responsibility to make the most of My time and energy and by not paying the proper attention, I've let Myself down. Although the list is aimed at managers, what are you if not the manager of your own self?

Eight Ways to Wipe Out High Performers
1. Work overload
2. Lack autonomy (micromanagement)
3. Skimpy rewards
4. Loss of connection
5. Unfairness
6. Value conflicts
7. Let low-performers ride
8. Create an environment of fear, uncertainty and doubt

This second list indicates clear signs that things are heading to hell in a handbasket, whether you see them in an individual, a group or a society.

Seven Deadly Deficiencies
1. Contempt for others
2. Obsession with self
3. Commitment dysfunction
4. Inflexible mindset
5. No productive focus
6. Unrelenting pessimism
7. Embraces Dilbertian views of leaders

However, there are ways out of this funk and these items are well within reach of all of Us...some more than others, of course.

Ten Ways to Build Passion
10. See greatness in those around you and share your vision
9. Express constructive feedback in terms of "the vision"
8. Believe that things can be different and approach the improbable with optimism
7. Set high standards for performance and hold EVERYONE accountable
6. Demonstrate courage, judgement, risk-taking and continuous improvement in your own performance
5. Recognize and celebrate success
4. Design growth experiences that stretch but don't break people
3. Invest in trust and even love
2. Respond maturely to failures and setbacks
1. Push power and decision making down

Corollary: Success depends more on the strengths you emphasize than the weaknesses you minimize.

The Jenius Has Quoted.

25 October 2006

Non-Random Observations II

---"I think he is smart but willfully ignorant, and he uses his ignorance for strategic advantage, which is appalling. He substitutes belief for thought. It protects you from self-doubt."

This description is by Garry Trudeau, the Doonesbury legend, about the murderous moron in the White House. However, reread the quote and those of you unfortunate enough to know about him will see it applies just as perfectly to Pedro "Stupid" Rosselló.

---From Pay to the Order of Puerto Rico, a book written by Alexander Odishelidze and Arthur Laffer, some interesting quotes. The first describes the local tendency to keep inflating the uncontrolled cancerous bloat of Our government. (Emphasis Mine on all quotes.)

"As Dr. Lawrence A. Hunter of the Institute for Policy Innovation in Washington, D.C., describes this stance, 'It is an almost inevitable consequence of elected politicians’ not knowing how to revive economic growth and [finding] it difficult to resist using the public payroll as a means to provide voters financial support they cannot secure for themselves[.]' Big government and stagnant economy become a vicious cycle."

---This one is even more sobering:

"In fact, government of all kinds (federal, islandwide and municipal) consumes an astonishing three-fifths of the Gross Domestic Product of Puerto Rico, twice the percentage in the United States and considerably more than our poorest state."

---And one more, on making government more effective then more efficient:

"(In order to achieve) improvements in government efficiency, (Tomás) Hexner and (Glenn) Jenkins stress the need for performance-based budgeting. They cite the example of New Zealand, a locale with some similarities to Puerto Rico. New Zealand is a collection of islands, has a population of 3.95 million in 2003 (Puerto Rico’s is estimated at 3.89 million), has a colonial history that mixed a European power with a native population, and has made a recent transition from an agricultural society to a technology-services-tourism economy. New Zealand has established production targets for its government employees, and these targets are included in job descriptions and reviews and in budget requests. Diligently setting and striving to meet these targets guides agency’s decisions about necessary staffing levels. Combined with retirement incentives and limits on new hiring, Hexner and Jenkins state, these measures can reduce the size of government while improving its output."

Production targets for government employees?! How about We try something doable, like making targets of some government employees?

---Let's end this on a more philosophical note. I found this somewhere and forgot to bookmark the source. (Jeniuses are like that, but in My case, not too often.):

It is wise to aim for perfection
It is foolish to wait for perfection before you share

It is wise to make a detailed plan
It is foolish to never deviate from it if you discover a better way

It is wise to aim high for the stars and fall short
It is foolish to aim low and hit your target

It is wise to start a business by yourself
It is foolish to grow a business and not seek help

The Jenius Has Quoted.

23 October 2006

Use a 15SecondPitch

Having morphed once again to being a grant writer (but with a decidedly more trenchant focus), I was woolgathering for a more effective approach to marketing My services.

I use "The Grant Planner" as My nom de oeuvre and I created a weekly compendium of Federal grant opportunites called The Grant Planner Report, available by e-mail. But I felt I needed a better "hook", so I did what I usually do when searching for practical ideas: I searched My computer.

Over the past decade, I've collected tons of files and bookmarks on a wide variety of subjects, marketing being one of the biggies. And I rediscovered a site I'd written about in 2005, called 15SecondPitch.com. Its creator, Laura Allen, helps you improve your marketing focus and overall level of response by having you create, polish and deliver a 15-second pitch. The pitch is not a flabby "commercial": it's a vibrant, unique, benefit-oriented idea that calls to action.

Consider the power of a sales message contained in a 15-second sound bite... You can easily toss it out dozens of times a day and that alone should help improve your sales results because you make more attempts. Sales is a game of numbers: the more quality attempts, the more sales you make. Simple.

In 15 seconds, you can not only engage a potential prospect, but qualify him or her, too. Freelancers often waste a lot of time pursuing "dead end clients," those that seem to be interested, but will never really commit. With a polished pitch, you can move from "Are you interested?" to "What exactly do you want from Me?" in under a minute. That's the qualification process in a nutshell, in seconds rather than hours or days.

There's even a trademarked Pitch Wizard on the 15SecondPitch website to help you draft your pitch, then open a free account to share it with others in the network. And with free weekly tips, Laura keeps you focused on improving what could be the most important tool in your marketing kit.

Considering the economic miasma We're headed for beginning next month, it means more now than ever to have a clear, precise and valuable message to deliver to enhance your marketability and sales potential. If you're an employee, it matters more, because your security and financial future are not in your hands, but in someone else's. (Freelancers have--or should have--multiple income streams. If they don't, they are even more vulnerable than employees.) Unless you can easily reinforce your value--no matter where you are--you will struggle more in the coming months.

So hop on over to Laura's place and take 5 minutes to create a 15-second pitch. They could very well turn out to be your most important 5 minutes of 2006.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

21 October 2006

Weekend Wondering

Why did I rant (in My previous post) so much about the sales tax? It's a done deal, right?

Right. Though it shouldn't be.

At Friday's "guided tour through economic rape" one gentleman asked if the local 5% surtax on jewelry would be eliminated. The CPA delivering the "We're slipping it to you gently" message said it "might" be replaced by the 5.5% sales tax, so in essence, it would "go up .5%."

Wrong, Fool: the legislation says nothing about eliminating the jewelry surtax. Just like it didn't say anything about eliminating the 6.6% import tax (remember, Chris?) And that import tax was eliminated just this past week after major hullabaloo.

So how long do you think it will take to eliminate the jewelry surtax? I'm betting it will go in 2008 and not a day sooner.

What the sales tax amounts to is suffocation, a plastic bag about the head of Our economy that will slowly--but surely--asphixiate Us.

---We have no growth industries. So We raise taxes and that's supposed to attract new industries?

---We have a fossilized, over-regulated, brain-dead business set-up procedure. So We make it harder to get started by throwing more taxes into the mix. This is supposed to make creating new businesses easier?

---We rely on small and medium-sized businesses for 64% of Our job creation. So We make them tax collectors with additional costs and that's supposed to make them more effective and efficient?

---We have a consumerist economy, so instead of reducing the tax burden to let it generate more capital, We tax its existence. Is this supposed to free up capital for investment?

---We have a corrupt, venal, vicious and uncontrolled government, so instead of jamming Our boot into their butts and kicking them straight We let them jury-rig Our economy to their benefit. And this is supposed to help Us deal with Our future?

---We have decades--decades, people--of evidence from around the world that reduced taxes and reduced government (in personnel and regulations) are the two basic ingredients of strong economic growth. But what do We care about evidence? Hell, We're Puerto Rico! We're gonna RAISE taxes and ADD government leeches and ADD regulations! So what if Our tourism niche has eroded? So what if Our economic model is more vacuum cleaner than jet plane? So what if Our key government agencies are infested with maggots? We're Puerto Rico! We do it better!

Uh-huh, better: In the race for slow-motion sucide, We're winning.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

20 October 2006

Sales Tax Strife

I just got back from an "orientation session" on how to report the upcoming Municipal (1.5%) sales tax. Here's My assessment:

We are screwed. Royally, savagely, painfully and needlessly screwed.

I was too easy on these shitbags. Here's why:

Two local economists, several economic theories and hundreds of economic sudies indicate that a consumption tax at the point of collection causes an "impact cost rise" of between 11 and 18%, on average. In the case of the Municipal tax, the collection point is the business place, including individuals. So how much does the "tax collector" get as a "benefit" for doing the government's needless dirty work?

Three percent. Three freaking percent.

Taking the low figure above (11%) means that, all of a sudden, product and service providers are losing 8% the moment the sales tax hits its stride (due November 15th.) So in a small business selling $20,000 a month, the Municipal sales tax bill is $300 and the business person gets to keep all of $9 for his/her work as a government lackey, while said lackey's expenses go up another $50 to $130 a month. Woo. And hoo.

What makes up this impact cost? Time and money in fulfilling the obligation; more records, more record-keeping, tax and procedural consulting; diversion of resources from production to processing... The list goes on.

Now add to this fact the tiny requirement that you have to file the Municipal tax report every month...or face a fine as high as $5,000.

Every month. Whether you have to file it or not, for in My case, as a service provider, I don't have or am authorized to collect a sales tax. But I have to file anyway! Guess what "profession" is exempt from this monthly filing crap? Lawyers. And I guess whores, too, but I repeat Myself.

What does this mean? I have a cost...but no "benefit." So like My government lackeys, who will raise their prices to cover "costs after benefits", I too will raise My rates, because I'll be damned if I'm going to subsidize someone else's tax bill. Not to mention I have to pay My 7% in sales tax as a consumer, too.
Does anyone not a Fool believe that prices will actually come down because of this?

And as if filing a monthly report that shows that you are losing money isn't enough, understand that the 5.5% General Sales Tax has the same requirement--monthly filing and fines for not complying--but without any percentage "benefit."

And how much is the 5.5% going to cost? From the example above, $20,000 in sales will mean $1,100 in monthly taxes, with an additional cost of about $1,100-$2,500. Take them both into account and you have a monthly burden of $1,400 in taxes with additional costs of as much as $2,600. Per month.

The average monthly salary in Puerto Rico is $1,054.

And The Fools filled the media with claims that the sales tax was implemented "to stimulate growth." That's like peeing in the soup and calling it "flavoring."

And what about the claim that the sales tax is meant to "reveal the underground economy"? Yeah, right. Local Puerto Ricans who receive food stamps (locally known as PAN) and those on the WIC program are exempt from paying sales tax on their food purchases within the respective program's parameters. So rather than help wean these individuals and familes off the dole, it reinforces staying in dependency because you are instantly 5.5% poorer when you leave Uncle Sam's largesse to make your way in "Our" Puerto Rico.

Yeah, the quotation marks are in the right place.

What burns Me are two things:

1) The utter, squalid and pathetically bovine indifference We have as a society to being led to slaughter by the craven hyenas We elected. The same ones who slap a sales tax on Our asses and try--and keep trying--to exempt themselves from it by finagling privileges to military stores and raising their salaries in automatic allotments.

2) That I didn't go ballistic about this earlier. I screwed up. I felt I had to try to keep the whole (or at least a good part) of My rhetoric (in the classic sense of the word; go look it up) on an intellectual level, one of reason and rational comparison and not one of emotional rampage. Screw that. There is no rational reason for a sales tax in a country so over-taxed, so mismanaged, so royally screwed by U.S. interests and local pandering to those interests that We are left without a real economy. What We have is a mutation, a farcical mélange of greed, hypocrisy, stupidity (Stupid Rosselló) and outright thievery that should be banned everywhere including Boston.

Here's what I'm going to do: As My profession is neither authorized nor required by law to collect a sales tax and yet by law I'm required to file a fucking report every month, I will file it showing zeros.

Only zeros.

Every month: zero income, zero deductions, zero tax collected, zero owed.

If Hacienda comes after Me claiming I have to show My income, I will tell them My income is irrelevant to sales tax reporting--because it is. Since My only requirement is to file their paperwork and they can't force Me to reveal My income because I have no sales taxable income, they can go grease a flagpole and sit on it.

In fact, I will grease one for them. And for every Fool. We'll need to import flagpoles, but that's somebody else's sales tax problem.

And here's another point, screw what Hacienda thinks: Cash still rules and the sales tax will only strengthen the underground economy. And if I can help make it stronger, I will.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

18 October 2006

Variety Pack 002

GOOD LEADERSHIP: According to Scott Adams of Dilbert fame, all you need to know about investing can be summed up in 129 words:

1. Make a will

2. Pay off your credit cards

3. Get term life insurance if you have a family to support

4. Fund your 401k to the maximum

5. Fund your IRA to the maximum

6. Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it

7. Put six months' worth of expenses in a money-market account

8. Take whatever money is left over and invest 70% in a stock index fund and 30% in a bond fund through any discount broker and never touch it until retirement

9. If any of this confuses you, or you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, tax issues), hire a fee-based financial planner, not one who charges a percentage of your portfolio.

Quoting Guinness Beer: Brilliant! In Puerto Rico, We can bring it down to 126 because making a will here is a waste of time, what with forced estate sharing and the like. But imagine following these simple rules and actually making money instead of spending it like some demented monkey. I'll allow The Master to cap this off:

"Everything else you may want to do with your money is a bad idea compared to what's on my one-page summary. You want an annuity? It's worse. You want a whole life insurance policy? It's worse. You want to invest in individual stocks? It's worse. You want a managed mutual fund instead of an index fund? It's worse. I could go on, but you get the point."

BAD LEADERSHIP: Radar Online ranks the Ten Dumbest People in Congress, actually using the word "fools" in the subtitle. I'm flattered and I'm thinking of suing. Why don't you drop by the list and learn about crass stupidity? Here's an incentive: There's a Schmidt on the list!! Go wild!!

BAD LEADERSHIP: The list of the Stupidest People in Our legislature is quite short:

1. Stupid Rosselló.

2. A 77-way tie for third place. (Oh, the irony!)

GOOD LEADERSHIP: The Jenius ranks first in the following Google searches:

*** what problem can a person face by becoming rich overnight (Uh? You askin' Me?!)

*** Jenius Ventures (Hey, I guess I DO know somethin'...)

*** psychiatrists conclusion Al Capone was a moron on their evaluation forms (I wonder where they were buried when Al found out...)

GOOD LEADERSHIP: I read this somewhere and it's been bugging Me to include it here; I don't know why:

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim quickly he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed and getting to the patient within 3 hours, which is tough. Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. But doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

1) Ask the individual to SMILE.
2) Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
3) Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently, ie: It is sunny out today)

If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 9-1-1 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

In this day and age of reduced health services and decreasing quality, maybe this information will be useful to one of you or your loved ones.

Then again, ask any Fool the first two questions and s/he's fine. Ask the third and just start dialing 9-1-1!

Oh, so that's why it kept bugging Me to be included here...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

16 October 2006

Simple Formulas

If you...

(A) Graduated from high school,
(B) Waited until you were at least 20 to get married and
(C) Waited until you were at least 20 to have your first child...

then the likelihood that you will be at or under the poverty level is 8%.

If, however, you failed at these three efforts, then the likelihood that you (and your child/ren) live at or under the poverty level is 79%.

In other words, failing to follow this simple formula for reaching adulthood makes it almost 10 TIMES more likely that you will end up poor than if you follow the rules.

Think about that.

To apply this formula and its benefits at the societal level, you'd need to at least have statistics: number of teenage pregnancies, number of teenage marriages or cohabitation arrangements...and number of dropouts.

Why the elliptical pause? Because the local department of miseducation does not--I emphasize, does not--have reliable statistics on the number of dropouts from local schools. Though many would point to bureaucratic mismanagement, political infighting and educational indifference for this hideous lapse, I prefer to think it's because no one in the damn department can count past ten without taking their shoes off.

The maxim is clear: What gets measured, gets improved. That We lack data on the number of Our youth lost from the miseducational system is beyond an "oops": it's a crime. Especially when one considers the enormous, titanic, obscene amount of time and money supposedly invested in making the educational system better. But then again, when 80 cents of every dollar goes to pay salaries and benefits and most of it to lumps who have no direct impact on students, it makes sense to stop measuring dropouts and focus instead on other items, such as...whatever.

Our incidence of teenage pregnancies is on the rise again. Our teenagers are increasingly shacking up and separating without a glance at a bridal magazine. And in some schools, as much as 55% of Our students are dropping out before securing a high school diploma. Not leaving for private schools, not moving to the U.S.: dropping out.

Instead of taxing Our butts, The Fools should try to make sure We keep more butts seated in Our classrooms. Here's a solution: Sweep away the old curriculum and establish a new one that emphasizes the learning, analysis and decision-making skills needed for the global economy of the 21st century. One that emphasizes who We are, so We can share with the world without the void We now have inside. One that empowers a student to tackle the world as a challenge instead of seeing the world as a wallet and his or her role as that of a beggar whining for a share. One that takes advantage of Our bicultural vision instead of making it seem like a split personality.

We need an educational system that develops a teenager who can decide for himself or herself that following a simple formula is easier than plunging headlong into poverty, dependence and a huge share of lifelong futility. Doing that makes future poverty less likely and creates a larger, more robust economy for Us all.

That means there'd be more money going around.

Now I got The Fools' attention...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

13 October 2006

Notes for Today

---Heartfelt column by über-sportswriter Scoop Jackson over at ESPN.com arguing that Roberto Clemente and Satchel Paige should have been included in the recent Sports Illustrated "Baseball Dream Team of History." As much as I idolize Clemente, I am aware that he was not really one of the 25 best players in baseball history. But if you are picking an all-time baseball team of the best men the game has ever seen, then Clemente is a beyond the shadow of any doubt one of those men.

---Stupid Rosselló.

---An apparent wave of pedophiles/pederasts is causing alarm along the southern and western coasts of Our Island of Enchantment. This is certainly no laughing matter, and yet, based on the evidence, nothing or barely nothing has happened. It is one thing to be cautious, and above all, to protect Our children; it is another to sow false rumors, raise the already-high level of anxiety We live in and maybe create an opportunity or distraction to serve someone else's ulterior motives.

---Yes, I'm saying it's possible the whole "child kidnapping scare" is a set-up.

---There are 54 eligible States and territories in the "Reading First" program, funded by the Federal Department of Education since 2001. Guess--go ahead, guess--which is the ONLY motherfreakin' place in the whole U.S. of part of A. STILL trying to qualify for "Reading First"? Uh-huh. Our chances would improve if Our department of education actually knew how to read...

---We stand to lose some $15 million unless We qualify soon. The department's attitude is more along the lines of "Give the money back." Forget defeatist: that's the exact attitude of lazy and stupid people. (And lest My teacher-critic slams Me again for this attack, let Me ask you, Mrs. Teacher: Would an energetic and smart department take 5 years to qualify, when it is obvious everyone else already has?)

---On the other hand, My Thanks to The Information Soldier (good to have you back) for sending me a link about Wal-Mart's Teacher of the Year award. Amongst the 51 honorees, a Puerto Rican teacher was selected. From Puerto Rico. (I felt I needed to clarify...)

---The project to move the unicameral referendum result forward is--gasp--stalled in the senate. The bill has been weighed down so badly that in the words of a joke sent to Me yesterday by My lovely friend Laura Homar, it could be called "Walking Eagle": That's an eagle so full of shit it can't fly. Someone We both know and love (okay, I love Me) said the unicameral movement would die without ever seeing any true action. I'll repeat it here: Forget unicamerality. What The Fools want is a dictatorship and We're about 60,000 votes from giving it to them.

---According to the American Booksellers' Association, 58% of Americans in the U.S. do not buy a book after leaving high school (excluding textbooks.) Fifty. Eight. Percent. Because We have no true statistics research, all We can do is estimate a similar percentage of "book non-buyers" for Puerto Rico. My estimate: About 70-75% of Puerto Ricans do not buy a book after high school, including textbooks. What else can We expect from an educational system that "punishes" miscreants with reading assignments?

---Thinking about going back to a daily schedule.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

11 October 2006

Alfredo, Godspeed

It is 5:12 A.M. Just three minutes ago, I said good-bye to a young friend--a family member, really--who's leaving in a couple of hours on an 18-month mission, ostensibly in Egypt.

When I met him, he was a high-school orphan living with two sisters and a brother under the roof of a grandmother so vile beating her with 1-iron would start to make Me happy. Over the years, My sister and I have been peppered with questions--hundreds and hundreds of questions. We have seen his generosity and his fears. We have worried and celebrated with him. And now he's on his way to serve in a theater of war for no decent reason.

Yes, Egypt is not engaged in war. But it seems evident that what was born of lies and hubris, fed by feeble-minded ego and greed and bolstered by the kind of goose-stepping subservience one should only see in very bad movies, that mutant fiasco We call the Iraqui War, will be his next destination. Why shouldn't it be, for nothing salvages a stupid pack of lies like slathering blood all over the mess. If nothing else, it confuses the issue.

Or maybe My young friend will end up across the DMZ between the Koreas, the Cowering Economic Tiger of the South and the Monomaniacal Rabid Rat of the North. Why not there, where the murderous moron in the Oval Office continues to defy centuries of diplomatic wisdom and refuses to negotiate with a sworn enemy? Nothing like pretending that other players--some of dubious allegiance--will always fight and defend Our interests just as much as We would. And sting rays don't sting, crikey.

My friend is Hispanic. And Black. And in the Chemical Corps. What yellow canaries were to the coal mines, so are these black and brown and white canaries to ravaged oil fields: human litmus paper dropped into God-knows-what to see what emerges. To defend Us, that's admirable: to be pawns in a denial of reality is criminal.

My friend, Alfredo Pabón, recently got to know his father, meet his grandfather, bond with his great-grandmother (a spry 90-year-old) and discover--for the first time--what family is. Alfredo has made his way through late adolescence and early adulthood practically alone, and in his fervent desire to become a Health Teacher, he chose the Army to secure what he felt was out of reach. Now that he's no longer alone (for he never really was but blood is always thicker than friendship) now that he has a family and can begin building what most of Us have from birth, now he must leave.

He made his choice and he will do his duty. Unlike his Commander-in-Chief, who shirked duty, spat on his oath and hornswoggled out like a coward, Alfredo will face this challenge squarely. As do so many others, even in this travesty of subhuman political chicanery.

My last words to Alfredo--for now--were "Take care" and "Be strong." I hope they will be enough.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

09 October 2006

Another Blast from the Past

This one from February 29th, 2002, in the once-active PuertoRican.com. It's about the corrupt hyenas of the statehood party, and nearly five years later, still rings with ugly familiarity:

Blasting Leeches

An Open Letter to the New Progressive Party “Leadership”:

Give it up.

Forget calling this “The worst period of the Party.” Call it what it is: The end. You people have connived and schemed and raped the public treasury to your lizard brains’ contentment and if you had any shred of decency, any moral scruples higher than that of a crack-addicted alley whore, you’d quickly leave your posts and head for the nearest courthouse.

You started this over a decade ago, knowing that [then-governor Rafael] Hernández Colón (he of the Spanish Connections) was a lame duck and [then-candidate Hector Luis] Acevedo was just lame. You selected a candidate with no political savvy at all and forced him onto the Party faithful. Yeah, Pedro [Rosselló] was a doctor; even better. And to make sure the patsy didn’t stray too far, you saddled him with a Horse [nickname for Carlos Romero Barceló]. You think this ain’t so? Well let me remind you that Pedro was adamant, publicly adamant, against the Horse. But he acquiesced and was doomed.

If Pedro was half as smart as he thinks he is, he would’ve seen through the whole scheme between the election and his Inauguration. Cuz he ain’t, it took him over a year to figure it out. And then he did what any “I’m-so-smart-and-in-charge-guy” would’ve done when he discovers his pants are down and his underwear is wedged up to his ascending colon: He began forcing the issues. Again you doubt? He’s already picked cronies to occupy Cabinet positions and in Year Two of his slide into rot, he started giving orders. Remember? He was no longer “discussing the issues,” or “evaluating parameters”: He started telling the Party what to do and how to do it. And you dimbulbs had to take it, cuz Pedro knew the score and HorseMan and Company were outta cards to play.

I’ll be blunt: You people chose to be leeches. If you find that a bit harsh, good. It shows you at least have a vocabulary left. For when it comes to brains, hoo-boy, you people are dumber than day-old dirt. Hell, I’ll even tell you why, so’s you know.

• You people say you represent a Statehood option for Puerto Rico. First mistake, but I’ll let that slide.
• That so-called option is NOT A RIGHT. Get that through your thick skulls. In their house, they are the masters, just as we should be in ours.
• Since it isn’t a right (read above to refresh your memory), statehood is by invitation. Whatever you want to call the details, it all boils down to the U.S. Government has to invite the territory in, regardless of whether there’s a formal request or not. (Check your history, people. Have someone read it to you.)
Since we’d have to be invited, does it make sense to play footloose and fancy-free with Federal funds? Especially when Puerto Rico receives more funds per capita than all but 7 States? Is that the way to finagle an invitation? Tack on to that the fact that you don’t represent a majority of the voters and your money-grabbing, bottom-feeding, sick-as-leprous-pus scheme is the absolute stupidest thing you could have done.

If I were a New Progressive Party faithful, I’d call for all of you to be hung, shot or quartered. Hell, I’m not and I’m still calling for any of these. You people sold your pathetically noxious souls to Mammon (it’s a better name in Spanish, for this particular topic) and went beyond biting the hand that feeds you to wiping your butts with it time and again. THAT should REALLY endear you to Uncle Sam, right? Right?!?

Do us a favor: Give it up. Just give it up. Crawl into the nearest jail cell and rot away. Give it up and save us some of the money you repulsive parasites have stolen. It’s your only chance to have ever helped us in any way.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

06 October 2006

Mosaic A

Glass shards:
---A two year old boy is shot twice and left for dead on an abandoned stretch of road.
---A three year old girl is raped and killed.
---An eighteen-month old boy is slammed to the ground, suffering severe injuries.
---An eleven year old girl gives birth to her baby in a bathtub, her family's shame not fully concealed.
---A ten year old girl is pregnant, raped by her stepfather, and the baby could kill her at birth.
---A thirteen year old awaits news of the paternity of her child. One thirteen year old of many.
---We shake Our heads, lower Our gazes to the ground and wonder...

Credit where credit is due... Local rag Caribbean Business also dissed the energetically inane economic book authored by The Brookings Institute and the Center for the New Economy. (They only dissed TBI: Misplaced patriotism or the sense that the parent bears the blame because the child is too soft in the head to know what's what?) I said TBi/CNe were wallowing in 1960s thinking, which Caribbean Business also said, but they went two steps further, pointing out that one of the basic tenets expressed in the book dated from the 1950s, and another from the 1930s, both from local sources. Kudos to whoever caught these two references and a collective Sicilian salute to the purveyors of Tubercular Cyanosis.

Framed needlepoint:
Calling former governor and faux senator Pedro Rosselló "guilty" means nothing to him; you have to have a conscience to be bothered by lapses affecting it. But calling him "The Stupidest Governor in Our History" is certain to rile his skanky lizard brain because he swears he's smarter than anyone. He truly believes he's smarter than God, only God isn't cross-eyed. So calling him "Stupid", as in "Stupid Governor," "Stupid Senator" and "Stupid Political Hack" will genuinely irritate him, for he can't sidestep the moniker without displacing his "defense" against charges of corruption. So not only will he have to listen to "Stupid," he'll have to accept it or pay the consequences he can't be bothered to think about. Stupid Pedro is as Stupid Pedro does.

Ripped cloth:
Puerto Rico has, for the first time in over 40 years, dropped from #1 as the Caribbean's top tourist destination. The new king is the Dominican Republic, and Cuba is expected to displace Us within the next 2-3 years. Why? Lousy service, high costs, scatter-brained tourism industry leadership and government hyenas at the State and Municipal levels who can't bear the thought of money they can't take a bite of.

Rumpled toilet paper:
Our jellyfish governor, Aníbal Acevedo, is stressing that the budget is looking tight, but he's pinning his hopes on the sales tax revenue stream. Do tell, O Spineless One. Even if the sales tax raises $800-$900 million over a seven-month period, the budget is still compromised because there are insufficient mechanisms in place to manage and distribute the money properly. So imagine if you will hundreds of millions of dollars floating through a government system that is more leech than beaver... Oh yeah, the budget is toast and We're in a jam.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

04 October 2006

Stupid? Guilty

Here's the scenario: A team works together with regular meetings involving many of them in a variety of ways. The team's leader is present at all or almost all the "major" meetings, the ones where issues deemed important are discussed and decided. The team always has the same leader for an eight-year period.

Over time, the team changes some of its members, but the power structure and the relationship of power remains the same: the same leader in every arena.

Now if team members start getting investigated, then indicted, charged and finally convicted of having committed crimes, what does that say about the team's leader? What if of a group of around 65 members you were told about 48 have been investigated and some 30 have been found guilty of a crime? What do you say about the team leader then, when almost half of his team have been found guilty of illegal actions?

You'd say the leader was guilty too.

You'd have to, because to a large degree, he hand-picked every team member. He worked with all of them on a daily basis. He set policies, made decisions, gave them orders and demanded results. If you say he didn't do any of those things, because then that leaves the leader open to being guilty of the illegalities of his team, then he wasn't a leader: he was an impostor, a fake, a fraud and an obvious waste of space.

If you say the leader doesn't necessarily have to know what every team member is doing at every moment, then you're either näive or willfully blind, for in a team where 2/3 of the members are acting suspiciously and almost half are clearly beyond "a reasonable doubt," then a leader who can't see it is näive or willfully blind. If the leader was näive, he was an impostor, a fake, a fraud and an obvious waste of space. If he was willfully blind, then the leader is guilty.

If you say the team members acted without orders or knowledge of the leader, then the leader was an impostor, a fake, a fraud and an obvious waste of space. If the members acted against orders from the leader, then the ignorance of the leader and/or his inaction marks him as an impostor, a fake, a fraud, an obvious waste of space and an accessory to the crimes committed.

It would seem that the current defense of "I didn't know" leaves no choice but to declare this impostor, this fake, this fraudulently obvious waste of space the "Stupidest Governor in Puerto Rico's 513-Year History." But it doesn't wash. Any way you look at it, the level of illegal activity shown in Pedro "Guilty" Rosselló's misadministration leaves no doubt--none whatsoever--that he, the leader of a team that now spends plenty of its days behind bars, should be joining them there.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

02 October 2006

Fetid Blast From the Past

The current "SuperTube" scandal (and I will reluctantly--very reluctantly--refrain from making any metaphors concerning a large phallic object and its present effect on Us) shows how debased Our political system is. Not only are close associates of former governor Pedro "I AM the SuperTube!!" Rosselló facing major fraud and bribery charges, the key witness sued the government for reneging on a contract he had paid a bribe on. In other words, We've reached a point where there's no honor amongst thieves.

Boo. And hoo.

Brought back to mind something I wrote back in 2002 on the now-defunct PuertoRican.com website. In its basic points, it still--humiliatingly--applies:

Puerto Rican.com – Week of January 21, 2002

Let Pus Flow

Former Education Secretary Victor Fajardo publicly admits his guilt, names enough names to also have 16 of his fellow vermin arrested and then, Victor the Vice Man slams his “so-called friends”, the “fair weather” kind who now denounce and renounce him.

Hey, Victor the Loser: What did you expect? Let’s face it: If you were stupid enough to engage in fraud with these creeps, then you are certainly lacking in the mental acumen to anticipate that all rats abandon ship at the slightest hint that the ship is sinking.

Or maybe you’re referring to the political leeches that ostensibly received the benefits of your “sacrifice,” your fellow party leaders? Again, try to think: You’re one of many and there just isn’t enough sympathy to go around. Hell, man, even your former Governor and former Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero goes on record again as saying it’s not the party’s fault, but the individual’s. So you see, Victor-the-Education-Benedict-Arnold, you screwed up real bad, but the party, ah, the party sails loftily on.

And your current party president, Carlos Pesquera, just spent two days’ worth of press conferences pathetically whining “persecution,” putting more passion into this miserable “defense” than he did during the entire campaign. And what does he say now, the day you rend your tiny, miserable soul? “We repudiate the acts taken.” Uh-huh. Love the act’s result (moneymoneymoney!), but hate the sinner. Victor, you bad, bad (and stupid) boy!

And then things get uglier, as if watching the pus flow from putrid flesh weren’t bad enough: The current president of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, Richard D’Costa, is also arrested. Along with him, executives from various other companies also got rounded up. It isn’t a surprise to see private companies involved in these pestiferous schemes. But when the president of the business organization that is supposed to best exemplify the highest standards of ethics and productivity acts like a walking bag of fertilizer, then we can’t ignore how deep and debilitating this rot is.

Still doubt it? Vic the Not-So-Slick testified that this scheme began in former Governor Pedro Rossello’s first administration. (Only for those of you who doubted, the total number of years is at least 6 and as much as 9. You’re welcome.) Check back on these columns and you will see that this is not a surprise, either: It is simply part of the gangrene.

And lest we forget, the Governor, Sila Calderón, leaps into the breach and vows to continue the “war” on corruption. One does not “fight” rot: It is excised, burned or cured. Period. In concrete terms, you can fire people or scare them straight (the moral penicillin.) In either case, Madam Governor, you have already lost the war, for you have neither the power to slash and burn, nor are your forces free from the widespread leprosy. Continue making speeches, though: At least you may preserve the illusion that the moral high ground still exists.

And just for completeness, let’s revel in the coming buffoonery of the Independence Party as it once again limits itself to pointing crabbed fingers, spouting useless platitudes and jiggling like glastnost-hating hard-line comrades in their ever-futile attempt to come up with a solution, any solution, to make their party look like a reasonable alternative to voting for Batman.

The Jenius Has Spoken.