29 February 2012

Too Stupid for Democracy

"...(A) growing body of research has revealed... that democratic elections produce mediocre leadership and policies."

Okay, first of all, the snip is accurate in meaning; you can verify that for yourself in paragraph one.

To save you time, here are the highlights that lay out the argument and conclusion:

"...(Researchers) have demonstrated again and again that people are self-delusional when it comes to their own intellectual skills..."

Corollary: Incompetent people can't see or grasp that they are incompetent, or in the researchers' words: "...(I)ncompetent people are inherently unable to judge the competence of other people, or the quality of those people's ideas."

By extension, unfortunately: "...We're just as undiscerning about the skills of others as about ourselves."

Why?: "'If you have gaps in your knowledge in a given area, then you’re not in a position to assess your own gaps or the gaps of others...'"

"...(T)ruly ignorant people may be the worst judges of candidates and ideas... but we all suffer from a degree of blindness stemming from our own personal lack of expertise..."

"'...(V)ery smart ideas are going to be hard for people to adopt, because most people don't have the sophistication to recognize how good an idea is...'"

"As a result, no amount of information or facts about political candidates can override the inherent inability of many voters to accurately evaluate them."

Fraud, as in stealing an election, helps, too. (Glance left.)

A computer simulation assuming "leadership skills" are plotted on a bell curve was run, meaning that "...(E)ach voter was incapable of recognizing the leadership skills of a political candidate as being better than his or her own." The result?:  "When such an election was simulated, candidates whose leadership skills were only slightly better than average always won." (Emphasis Mine.)

Now here's the thing: leadership skills and thus the ability to evaluate them are not--not--distributed in a neat bell curve. They are obviously skewed strongly towards the majority of people being closer to "follower" (bad leaders) than to "good or great leader". (Don't bother arguing against this: you know it's right.)

Therefore, Our democratic election process that "always" produces a winner who is "slightly better than average" actually means that We are really electing people more skewed towards bad leader than to good.

And you know that's spot-on right. Too stupid for democracy, indeed.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Update: 12 March 2012: Ah, Mississippi. The brain-dead canary in the insufferable coal mine We call "democracy." According to Public Policy Polling, 52% of voters in The Magnolia State believe Obama is a Muslim and 66% don't believe in evolution. Dixie has riz!]

27 February 2012

Symantec Bullshit

What two things do the capital cities of Buenos Aires and San Juan have in common?

Kudos to you if you came up with two that aren't "The primary language is Spanish." And kudos to statehooders who know (or look up) that Buenos Aires is the capital of Argentina. All six of you deserve a medal.

But I bet none of you guessed that "dangerous Internet" links both cities. According to a report by Sperling's BestPlaces and Symantec, Buenos Aires and San Juan are the two cities with the highest risk during Internet access, primarily from WiFi networks and cell phone use.

Do tell. Who benefits from this news? Going back to the report's authors, We have BestPlaces, who wants you to go "there"...and Symantec, a cyber-security company.

Do tell.
Now the article cited goes on to say that the report is based on a projected risk, in other words, it amounts to someone's opinion that these 2 cities are dangerous for Web users. And even though the report cites the "high number of reported cyber-crimes" in Buenos Aires, they also note this is in direct relation to the high usage rate of social media, computers and broadband access that the Argentina capital has.

Tack this on: Symantec admits that the "highest risk" cities are not necessarily those "with the highest rates or instances of viruses or cyber-attacks." Oookay...

In other words, Symantec is saying: We made this shit up to scare you.

Do tell.

Are We surprised at this tactic? No. It happens all-too-frequently and for nebulous goals more atrocious than trying to sell security software and hardware. What frosts My perineum in this case is that Symantec chooses to use My Island's capital city in its bullshit report.

I've lived and worked very happily never having spent a second's notice on Symantec, and will go back to that state of bliss after this post, but for now, I call "Bullshit!" on these cyber-pests and wish that they choke to a horrible death on their idiocy in the coming tech cycle.

As for BestPlaces, I strongly suggest that in the future they avoid being drunk before getting into bed with someone. Especially one as stupid as Symantec.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

24 February 2012

TEDx San Juan: Giovanni Rodríguez - Part One

Sometimes an interview unleashes so many angles and threads that bringing it together in one article is either an exercise in futility, unintended censorship, cherry-picking (a form of intended censorship almost indistinguishable from editing) or an article so long it becomes practically unreadable.

In the case of My conversation with Giovanni Rodríguez, social media expert, I chose to follow part of the tapestry of topics We created in one post and come back to other parts of the tapestry later.

So here We go, with Part One of Our conversation with the Parranda Man.

Giovanni is the Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer for Deloitte Postdigital Enterprise (enabling government and business to better engage with employees, consumers, and citizens), a founding board member of LATISM and serves as advisor to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. He's also a blogger for Forbes Magazine and ClickZ. His presentation at TEDx San Juan was about the power of social media and its connection with the growing power of Hispanics.

A key point to grasp about Giovanni is that he is very much Puerto Rican, although Bronx-born and despite having not visited the Island for a couple of decades. The connection? Family. The daily give-and-take of culture and mores that make up a national feeling. That's why Giovanni's return to Puerto Rico was--in his words--such a seminal moment, for he understood the deeply-felt connection that people can have with their homelands, that yearning to go back someday.

This insight helped Giovanni recast his work in a different light, more about the connecting and less about the technology aspect. In his work, scanning and analyzing approaches to Hispanics, Giovanni has seen a change based on non-Hispanic realization that Mexicans are not Puerto Ricans are not Cubans. "Hispanics" are not all one people, and yet within that variety, there exists commonalities, primarily centered on education and immigration. (Not applicable to Puerto Ricans, but We get lumped into the debate in other ways.)

The commonalities are such that often an attack on one Hispanic group causes a ripple effect of support from other nationalities, a form of "We demand respect" unity that has profound and far-reaching repercussions. Giovanni pinpointed that reality by coining the term "metatribe" to describe what happens with Hispanic variety/commonality.

The fact is that Hispanics are now the largest minority group in the U.S. of part of A. and by 2050 could exceed being 33% of the nation's population. With that increase in numbers comes a consequent rise in buying power, as businesses have noted...and a rise in voting power, as Democrats and Republicans have noted.

It is fair and accurate to say that Barack Obama's rise to the presidency was fueled by cutting-edge integration of the Internet and social media...and Hispanic voters. The support generated by savvy new media strategies and get-out-the-vote grassroots campaigning was enormous, but the power of Hispanic votes was vital in major key states.

As Giovanni points out, it still is: the first ads of the 2012 campaign--of both parties--were targeted at Hispanic/Latino (choose your term) voters...and one was in Spanish. Imagine: a U.S. of part of A. presidential campaign ad not in English. Eso es poder, compadre.

However, Giovanni noted that the parties differ greatly in their approaches. By philosophy, the Democratic Party is more compatible with most Hispanics (Cubans being a notable exception), with the party's emphasis on broadening immigration quotas, social services, education and minority rights. The Republican Party, currently spearheading a wide series of anti-immigration laws, is seen as anti-Hispanic. Toss in their focus on reducing social services and education for minorities and you have the makings of a very interesting media experiment in "whitewashing" a party's image for a primary voter group in 2012.

For both parties, Giovanni says, the key is to merge offline and online activities. The Obama 2008 campaign success was built on that merging, but time and technology have created a greater potential platform with the concomitant greater reward/risk factor. Hispanics are very keen users of social media (ranking first in Facebook, a close second on Twitter and again first in average cell phone usage), so the improved platform allows for faster, more focused and responsive organization.

Two recent examples of this new paradigm are the reaction to a perceived slur on ABC's now-defunct "Work It"--galvanizing Puerto Ricans and Hispanics to protest vehemently and effectively--and the Susan G. Komen Foundation fallout after the breast cancer awareness group chose to stop supporting Planned Parenthood. Both ABC and the Komen Foundation were forced to back down from the fallout--and unlike previous "retractions"--these were clearly not based on profit losses, but solely on the public image of their new (recast) positions.

Giovanni said that the Hispanic's growing population, power and presence needs to be understood in order for the conversation it engenders to be guided and molded. He wasn't speaking about "manipulating" Hispanics, but about the communities themselves grasping what their power is, how they can use it and on what issues they can best take advantage of that power. In classical terms of realpolitik, Giovanni is describing the "It isn't power if you don't use it" and the "Fringe groups must move to the center to consolidate power" tenets.

If that sounds menacing, then you haven't understood what it is all based on. As Giovanni discussed, the technology that enables and enhances social media is available to "everyone" (keep this in mind; another angle below), and what it has done is to take what was once "limited" and given access to all. In the past, publishers, newspapers, radio and TV had unique channels they controlled: now We have blogs, self-publishing, aggregators, YouTube, podcasts, Twitter, Facebook and 24/7 access to the world in Our hands. The growing power of Hispanics in this new world is built on the growing power We all have. That means We all have a responsibility to use that power wisely, and Giovanni is at the forefront of that movement.

And yet, not "everyone" is equal: there does exist a digital divide, a chasm between the haves and have-nots in terms of technology and Internet access. At first, that digital divide was structured around economic classes, poor versus rich. Technology and Internet access is now so cheap and ubiquitous that the digital divide is reframed as "levels of use," non-user versus power user. And as Giovanni wrote about a year ago, guess who leads the nation in "power use"?

Again, the implications are enormous. If the education divide between minorities/poor and  the non-minority/wealthy (very real, very pernicious) continues, but the digital divide "flips" the equation, what does that mean for the nation's future? An obvious point: most of the content is non-Hispanic in origin, so crossing this "digital divide" into content production is a key step. What would a more "Hispanic" Web or social media environment be like? What would it mean for marketers, businesses, industries and consumers? What would it mean in terms of public debate and policy?

Neither those questions nor a responsible conversation on the use of this growing power will happen unless commitments are made and kept. Giovanni is working with LATISM and the White House to partner with communities and organizations nationwide to develop that broad-based, effective network for the future. In essence, the focus is on learning to navigate what is an often confusing mélange of data, trends, technologies and opinions. It is the landscape of the early 21st century, it is disruptive and chaotic...and yet it is created by Us. Non-participation won't change it. Only by actively and intelligently slicing and dicing can anyone have a true impact. In Giovanni's words, "Even a tiny slice can yield great results...the challenge is to figure out how and how to do it consistently."

There's more to this topic and a whole new set of topics touched on and discussed by Giovanni that will become posts here in the near future. For now, keep this in mind: the event that galvanized and launched an entirely new social media reality with truly global implications is happening again this year: the Presidential elections. Only this time, the toolkit is larger, the strategies are sharper, the stakes are higher and Hispanics are bigger players on this stage.

And Giovanni is spotlighted on that stage. Cool, huh?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Update: 7 March 2012: From Foreign Policy, an eye-opening examination of how the Republican Party is driving Hispanic votes towards Presdient Obama.]

20 February 2012

Collage of My Island's (Crappy) Issues

First Clipping: From the venerable Christian Science Monitor, a report on how Puerto Rico's violent drug trade is "seeping" into the U.S. of part of A., and how Washington must act to face this issue. A few lowlights:

--Our homicide rate, a record-high 1,136 for 2011, exceeds evens Mexico's appalling drug violence-fueled murder rate.
--A 76% increase in cocaine seizures in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands during 2009 and 2010. Proof that cocaine is flooding the Islands: the street price has dropped substantially.
--The 17,000-member police force is overwhelmed, dispirited and under investigation for widespread corruption by the U.S. of part of A. Justice Department.
--Puerto Rico has become a major money-laundering center for drug monies, in conjunction with the Dominican Republic.

Second Clipping: The son of a noted local businessman was arrested with others in the Dominican Republic, with 122 kilos of cocaine. They were about to board a private plane, owned by Omar Díaz, to return to Puerto Rico. The Dominican authorities thus concluded an 18-month investigation into the activities of Omar Díaz, son of Santos Díaz, with the confiscation of several properties, including a $20 million mansion in La Romana, a resort city in the Dominican Republic. A few tie-ins:

--Santos says his son was "a model worthy of emulation," for he ran the Díaz Enterprises. The mansion in La Romana was one of three confiscated properties "owned" by a Díaz corporation registered in the British Virgin Islands.
--Santos Díaz was a prominent member of the notorious "Businessmen for Rosselló" bribery scheme, where company owners and executives paid $20,000 or more for "access" to government officials.
--Santos Díaz had a company known as Data Research Corporation (DRC), that was awarded a $100 million E-Rate contract to provide Internet access to Our schools. The contract was granted by the now-imprisoned, then-secretary of (mis)education Victor "Delictor" Fajardo, back in the 1990s, during Pedro Stupid Rossellós run as (un)governor. After several years, DRC had "wired" a grand total of 9--NINE--schools and the contract was investigated by the Federal government. That investigation served as the basis for the continuing U.S. Department of Education magnifying glass and reduced funding for technology programs.

Third Clipping: CTIA-The Wireless Association, is suing the (non)government of Puerto Rico over Law 280, which would require a registry for pre-paid cell phone purchases. The law seeks to curtail the use of pre-paid units in the drug trade, but the CTIA points out that the measure "violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and is preempted by federal law." And the CTIA is right. Local telcos have said that the law would be unenforceable, what with over 800,000 of these phones in use and would violate rights to privacy for "battered women and crime victims." The local telcos are right. By the numbers, even if as many as 30% of the phones were used for drug trafficking, why should 70% of the legitimate users be subjected to intrusion, or in the maybe 10% of battered women and crime victims, dangerous exposure?

Here's why: to establish a precedent. Let's not forget that Puerto Rico has been lauded in Republican Party circles as a "model of conservative" government, what with cutting government jobs and creating more stringent laws. But the reality is different: there are MORE government workers now than when The Darling Larva took office and crime is skyrocketing. But if some inroads could be made in further undermining rights in the """name of security,""" then maybe a little GOP oomph would come The Larva's pathetic way.

Fourth Clipping: Research done on recent statistics by local economist Rosario Rivera (@econrivera) shows that the amount of money transferred by the U.S. of part of A to Puerto Rico totals $13.5 billion, but that the amount taken OUT of Puerto Rico is $58.1 billion. Notice the $34 billion figure next to "Rendimientos de Capital"? That is the estimated amount of PROFIT taken out of the Island by U.S.-based companies. According to Rivera and fellow economists, that is the largest amount of profit removed from ANY economy, roughly 2/3 of the total profit generated on the Island. That this situation is exactly the same as it was in 1901, when it was first addressed, despite the changes made in citizenship and political status (from "war booty" to "colony" to "colony is now called commonwealth") goes to show that when it comes to the business of the U.S. of part of A., the bottom line is above everything else. 

Fifth Clipping: In a strong candidate for 2012 "Duh!(nces) of the Year" award, the Center for the New Economy, also known as the Keynestones Kops, "concludes" that social imbalance in Puerto Rico "stumps growth and limits opportunities." How We ever got along without the CNE just boggles My everlovin' mind...Whatever other conclusions the CNE may have stolen from actual researchers, thinkers and analysts might be relevant, but the fact is, the CNE isn't.

That My Island has limited opportunities for economic growth is patently evident and has been since the 1970s. That the chances for social advancement are limited is equally evident; just notice the increase in welfare recipients since the 1980s. That there is a severe reduction in social trust is obvious, becoming crystal-clear in the corruption-fueled, hack-Our-economic-tax-benefits limp-wristed push for statehood of the 1990s.

The CNE has the IQ of spoiled cabbage and is less tasty. Their output is pathetic at best and ridiculously useless at worst. The problems My Island has are very real, very severe and very frightening. But fat-assed """thinking""" paid for by fat-assed fatcats is nothing more than a fatbag of crap.

Which is what this collage is about: crap. Crappy drug war, crappy ethics, crappy policies and crappy economy.

Isn't modern art wonderful?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

16 February 2012

TEDx San Juan: Ramphis Castro

Ramphis Castro, a computer engineer in his non-secret identity, is a key member of the TEDx San Juan  event group. Through him, I learned about the effort to do a TEDx conference on the Island and We talked about that, as well as the entrepreneurial environment of Our Island.

For the TEDx San Juan team, the goals for the event were to reveal the people who were doing noteworthy projects, get them and the invited audience to meet and hopefully establish new collaborations. In those respects, Ramphis feels that the event was truly a major success. However, getting there was not so easy.

The search for sponsorships to secure funding for the event started with, reasonably, major companies. What the TEDx San Juan group discovered was that these big corporations didn't really understand the TED concept and were more concerned with the group's "track record" than anything else. Their general take was "Have the event and if it succeeds, then We'll be interested." In addition, there was a sense that these "established entities"--maybe We can call them the "Establishment"--were less-than-keen to support an event that didn't fit their limited "box" of ideas or didn't seem to directly support their "agenda."

The cold-calling slog at that level was quickly replaced with a new strategy: approaching small businesses and non-profits. The amount of money needed to hold the event was not that much; as Ramphis pointed out, many of the large companies spent many times the TEDx San Juan budget on crap (My word). It wasn't like TEDx was a "break the bank" (pun intended) risk.

[Aside: I've decided not to mention the companies Ramphis and I talked about, not because they deserve anonymity--they don't--but because TEDx San Juan is about synergy and collaboration: dissing anybody at this early stage amounts to closing doors needlessly. But you can call Me to ask who We talked about.]

What was slow bureaucratic protocol based on "Who are you?" and "Why do you want to do this event?" in the Establishment was replaced by quick acceptance and support from small companies and non-profits, who didn't care that Ramphis, Marcos Polanco and the rest of the TEDx team had never done this event before, or that the event had a global focus rather than a local one: what mattered to them was that it was a potential lever for change.

Ramphis discussed how what the Establishment has is power, and though they could make great changes with that power, their focus above all is self-preservation; the status quo must be defended. For the rest of us, isolated from the progress We should be able to achieve because those with the responsibility of helping changes emerge refuse to "open certain doors," shredding the status quo is a good thing.  As Ramphis pointed out, We search for options for progress, and in the TEDx case, the smaller companies are not only more nimble to react, they are more willing to embrace change. And they did, usually with one just call.

TEDx San Juan hit the local scene like a flash-bomb of creativity and passion. Ramphis noted that the most important results would be seen post-event, as the ideas and collaborations start spreading their influences. He replied to My observation about the "high energy" at the event with, "It was one thing to anticipate it, because We did, but it was another to actually see it."

Switching gears, I asked Ramphis for his overview of the entrepreneurial environment here. His first observation was that although We do have an entrepreneurial streak in Our culture, most of Our entrepreneurs are "accidental," i.e., folks who've lost their jobs and are forced to start a business to secure income. In Ramphis' view, We aren't taught how to be entrepreneurs and the resources at hand are not truly geared to helping a business get off the ground. For one, there's protectionism by larger established companies, limited financial supports and though there has been some reduction in government red tape, there's still an often-bewildering array of steps to complete to just start a business. Faced with that panorama, Ramphis says, many of Us just "give up and sit in a corner to cry."

But Ramphis goes on to say that "Everywhere is hostile to entrepreneurs." Starting a business is not easy and that's simply a fact. Those who succeed don't care that it's difficult because their focus is on change. In Our case, Our reliance on "the government" is a barrier because, Ramphis notes, they don't know how to change the system to create an environment of true economic progress. For example, the government looks to big companies to increase jobs, but 2/3 of new jobs are created by start-ups and new companies. If a big company does add 400-500 jobs, it's because they cut 2,000 jobs someplace else, and the same can and does happen to Us when We're (increasingly) on the losing end.

Once again, the Establishment serves more as obstacle than as facilitator, self-preservation trumping "a rising tide to lift all boats," for fear of sinking the ship. But Ramphis notes that entrepreneurialism is not a "magic bullet": it will not "cure" an economy nor is it to be some isolated tool for economic progress. It has to be coordinated with other changes to create a support system that helps create more opportunities across the board, rather than just for new companies.

To Ramphis, the biggest change for economic progress is the Internet because it drastically lowers entry barriers for nearly all businesses. However, by itself, it doesn't change the need for financial support or the reliance on knowledge, specifically education on being an entrepreneur, a subject Our school system doesn't even glance at. And yet, for knowledge, the Internet is its own solution, and thus there's no excuse for anyone to say they can't learn about a product, service, market or industry: it's within keyboard reach.

However, to sell to foreign markets, Ramphis acknowledges We have an "island mentality" that doesn't look outward very often, but he points out that face-to-face, feet-on-the-ground contact is still a key component to secure sales. He notes that local entrepreneurs are missing the point with a strictly-local focus, or a vaguely "global" one, when he points out that We have 4.7 million of Our Brethren populating the States, more than doubling Our Island population. Selling and marketing to them is as easy as being Ourselves with people like Us who want to support Puerto Rico. Ignoring that market is short-sighted and the sooner companies realize that, the better.

As Ramphis discussed, being an entrepreneur is not about just creating companies, it's about creating wealth. Not in the sense of "I'm going to be rich!", but in the sense of creating an ecosystem of value that benefits more than a handful of people. The lack of vision about this key point is seen in that the only major local "offering" for venture capital funding is basically a business plan competition, where a "home run with one swing" mentality is backed by a limp-wristed $5,000 "pledge" based on a document and process that are largely irrelevant to cutting-edge start-ups. Yes, planning is important, but planning for a year is much less a wealth creator than actually doing the business for most of that year. That myopia is not enough for a powerful vision of progress and never will be.

To My remark about the underground economy flourishing as evidenced by the huge expansion of (permanent) flea markets, Ramphis feels that more than anything else, this is a symptom reflecting the failure of public economic policy, which is lost and confused. What this underground economy does is serve as a "safety net" for those who are left out of the economic loop, but it also traps them there, unable to grow. Few start-ups in Puerto Rico grow to be big, but the flea market environment won't change that reality. What Ramphis does see is that start-up processes at this level are lightning-quick, with clear and simple procedures. Although a government has to be aware of more details, it also has more resources to do so, so streamlining red tape and simplifying procedures should be a true economic boost, as has been shown several hundred times around the world.

A deeper look at economic progress and synergy can also be seen in Ramphis' work with Startups of Puerto Rico, a tech-centric push for entrepreneurial development on Our Island. The goal is to create the environment that start-ups can thrive in. In a nod at the Establishment, Startups of Puerto Rico has a focus where older companies help the newer ones make progress. Although the focus is tech-centric, agility is also a vital trait, so non-tech companies with emerging or created markets can also benefit from the group's expertise.

As for TEDx San Juan, the tentative date for 2012 is December 14. Ramphis indicated that the entire group was not only revved up for this year, but also to support any and all TED-type events that might be held locally. The support gos beyond logistical to include sponsorships, so that the synergy and collaboration can spread even wider.

On a closing note, Ramphis and I agreed to collaborate on highlighting noteworthy projects that barely missed the cut for TEDx San Juan and within Startups of Puerto Rico. Synergy and collaboration.

It's so good to be back in that flow.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

15 February 2012

Colonialism? Let's Keep It!

Jenial Friend Kevin Shockey, over at Dondequiera, touched on this topic as I was developing this post... Great minds do think alike.

In short, for the upcoming "status plebiscite," scheduled to be voted on the same day as the 2012 general elections (My take on that timing here), the Popular Democratic Party--neither one nor the other nor the other--have decided that they will make no changes in their definition of the commonwealth status that has shackled Puerto Rico since July 25, 1952.

Yes, I said "shackled."

Big deal, right? Okay, add this: the PDP has been pushing for "enhanced commonwealth" since the mid-1970s, primarily under the banner of 3-time governor Rafael "Spain Is My True Home" Hernández Colón (I toss in the matronymic to avoid confusion with the truly-talented composer born where I was born). Good old Rafito even went so far as to seclude himself in various favored locations (nearly all outside of Puerto Rico) to develop his "New Thesis," where he would once and for all define "enhanced commonwealth" in a vision so pure and perfect that rocks would weep and birds would be stunned in mid-air.

"Enhanced commonwealth"? HAHAHAahahahacolony
Or maybe it was "birds would weep and rocks would be stunned in mid-air"?

No matter. What did Rafitito come up with for his "New Thesis," to boldly advance commonwealth to launch a new Puerto Rico? Some 400+ pages that amounted to "Give Us more money and more autonomy and We'll do nothing in exchange."

"Enhanced" commonwealth, a.k.a, a whiny brat puling for more and offering less.

Since the Rafititito fiasco, the discussion about "enhanced commonwealth" is like trying to dissect the magic system in the world of Harry Potter: it all sounds stupid because the magic works. But the analogy breaks down because unlike Harry's magic, commonwealth doesn't work. And enhanced commonwealth is an even bigger fantasy than Hogwarts.

We are a colony. Dress up the word with the longer "commonwealth," We are still a colony. The most basic definition says that a colony sends raw materials as exports and receives finished goods as imports, with the requirement that both imprts and exports are controlled by another nation.


So the PDP, with four decades plus of sniveling smarmy lip service to a colonial status and even smarmier fetid verbal diarrhea about "enhancing" it, when faced with the opportunity--or requirement--to put their definition where their money is, have """opted""" for a gutless "The usual, not shaken, not stirred."


In 1997, the PDP used a tactical error in the plebiscite set-up to push the idea of voting for "None of the above," and succeeded in exposing the mockery these "electoral" events really are. But this time, there was no wriggle room: the parties themselves got to define their status offers. And this time, what's being exposed is that the PDP has nothing.

Nothing. Not a damn thing.

Call it political bankruptcy, or moral bankruptcy, the reality remains that the PDP and its commonwealth status are empty shells. The status is colonial. Period. The commonwealth party has no solution to offer. Period.

And to top it off, the plebiscite means nothing whatsoever for it is as binding as invoking any of Harry Potter's spells to change Our status.

Welcome to the slow-motion train wreck of Puerto Rico politics, 2012 edition.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

14 February 2012

Plunging Us Deeper Into The Toilet

Back in November, 2011, it was widely announced that Our (non)government had basically maxed out the amount of money it could borrow to fund its pillaging campaign. The (non)administration made tiny puling noises that amounted to feeble "Uh-uhs," unable to hide the devastating increase in Our public debt to within a few percentage points of Our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). What that means, statehooders, is that We owe almost as much money as Our production capacity; when it happens to you as an individual, your income is equal to or less than your total debt and the next step is bankruptcy.

Now, the local Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (ASA), the informal nickname of the statehood party in some wittier circles, is poised to issue $1.25 billion in tax-exempt bonds, the largest such offering scheduled in 2012. The ASA is also issuing another $350 million in taxable debt to Us, the rape victims. Isn't that special?

But wait, there's more. The ASA has the lowest possible investment rating issued by Standard & Poors. The only thing worse is junk bond status, a level The Larva wishes his political capital could reach if somehow he could multiply what he has by 8,529.

What does this mean? It means that for investors to put cash into these bonds, they need to offer a high interest rate; in this case, 5%. With Our GDP dropping--statehooders, that means We're "making" less money--guess who's going to pay that 5% interest rate to the lucky vultures who buy Our sewage bonds?


And as Bloomberg points out, We're really good at it: "Puerto Rico debt has returned 3.61 percent this year, the most of any U.S. state or territory and more than the total market, general obligations and revenue bonds, according to Barclays Capital Indexes..."

Yes, We're paying Our debts, but is it with higher productivity, i.e., more jobs, more companies, more businesses, more exports? HAHAHAHAHAAAhahahahaafuckno: We're doing it with taxes. IVU Loto, anyone? (The sales tax has yet to make even the slightest dent in any program it was supposed to support.)

Instead of Our progress, here's what's happening: the current hyena horde that pretends to be a government is issuing billions upon billions of dollars in debt, getting money from investors with promises of interest rates that come from Our pockets. But is the money being used to improve roads, fund sensible projects , fix Our infrastructure or somehow make Us more competitive?


Even Bloomberg tactfully touches on that failing. "(Standard & Poors) rates the bonds BBB-, one level above so-called junk status, citing the authority’s unwillingness to raise rates and its deferred capital needs..."

In other words, the (non)administration doesn't charge what the water service is worth (raising rates means losing votes) and "deferred capital needs" means that what's been needing to be done for decades to fix the water system has been set aside to line other pockets. Hence a BBB- rating.

Now Let's be fair: that problem goes back to the late 1960s, so every pestiferous administration since 1968 is pretty much to blame.

But wait, there's more: THIS little fillip is clear evidence of the merry-go-round hustle that highlights how this (non)administration is cleaning Us out with no thought beyond November 2012: "Proceeds of the sale will be used primarily to refinance lines of credit extended by the Government Development Bank, according to a preliminary official statement. The authority may also fund the capital-improvement needs for the next fiscal year..."

"Refinance lines of credit." You and I would call that "Using one credit card to pay off another." Savvy financial management? Hell no. A hustle? You bet.

Then this: "The authority may also fund the capital-improvement needs for the next fiscal year..."


The next fiscal year, 2012-2013, will only be "theirs" if The Larva wins. When he loses, the ASA agency heads and other political shafters in on this deal know they'll be gone, so """promising""" to "fund capital-improvement needs" in some never-happening future is like borrowing money when you kwow you're going to declare bankruptcy and move to Barbados.

Which is exactly what's happening here, as the hyena horde impels Us to greater profundity into a personal-use sewage access system.

We should have flushed them out long ago.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

13 February 2012

Media Manipulation, Retards Reacting

[Very Jenial thanks to Global Voices Online for picking up My interview with Andrea Pérez (the post beneath this one.) Learn more about Andrea's work with her Silent Grace Foundation and please look into supporting her efforts for sustainable development in Haiti.]

You have noticed, I'm sure, that when the fecal matter hits the rotating oscillator in a big way, the media almost invariably finds some dumb-as-manure "story" to focus on. Now a part of that pattern might be the natural human tendency to want to be distracted from what makes Us anxious, leading to the widespread use of alcohol, drugs and cartoons to keep the fears away. But another part is sheer manipulation, the naked attempt by "media moguls" from top CEOs to your local dumb-as-day-old-dirt reporter to feel power in the simple act of "Focus on what I say you should focus on."

What this pattern boils down to is that the moronic media acts in an un-concerted way to manipulate Us and We, in an un-concerted way, mainly react like retarded children pursuing soap bubbles. The end result is that We are largely misinformed and the media defends itself by mewling "But it's what the people want!"

And the reason they have been able to puke that garbage excuse for decades is that there's more truth than crap in the statement: We generally do want the media to give Us turds rather than turquoise.

You see, by and large, We are lazy. To the vast majority of Us, thinking is like competing in a decathlon: an effort too complex and lengthy to even consider. We don't want to think, so We like to have someone tell Us what to think; hence the "success" of talk radio and FOX """News""" with its fanatics and lunatics garnering huge audiences.

Bypassing thought, just make Us feel something, and if that something helps Us feel "better" than We normally do--even if it is false--then bring it on! Thus the "success" of scandal stories, preferably involving the humiliating downfall of someone "famous" or "noteworthy." Their media-engineered rise to fame/success was a good story (in the "See? We can all do it!" mode), but their fall from grace--also media-engineered--is a great story. And We get to feel "superior" to the fallen bum/tramp, even when the vast majority of Us will never amount to 1% of some of their positive achievements.

For those of you more on the media-savvy side, I am talking about the proverbial "lowest common denominator," the subjective point at which most of Us will "bond" or "react" to a story. The President violated the Constitution and committed major crimes? To most of Us, that rates no response. The President committed an ethical lapse? That barely rates a look. The President committed a moral lapse? Well, okay, but make it snappy. The President had sex with an intern? Hell yeah, tell Me more!

Some pundits claim that explaining how a murderous moron violated the Constitution to the extent Huns raped nuns is too complex a story to get people interested; the "don't make Me think" corollary introduced above. But what's to explain about an intern performing oral sex on the President? Not much, except to answer "Why couldn't 'the most powerful man in the world' pick a better-looking fellatrix?"

No one can argue that a story involving the deaths of thousands of citizens and hundreds of thousands of non-citizens because of a war based on lies is more important in every way than a sperm-stained dress. But that's exactly how it's playing out, not for the first time, not for the last.

Is the problem the media? Yes. Is the problem Us? Yes. Is the problem solvable? Of course it is. But We'd have to think about it, right?

And there's your answer, right there.

The Jenius Has Spoken,

09 February 2012

TEDx San Juan: Andrea Pérez

What do you say when you meet someone you think is extraordinary?

You should say "Hi!" and then start a conversation.

Discuss the weather, or a movie recently premiered, or what your favorite pastime is. Maybe bring up what the person does and how it's going, but talking about recent events or shopping or sports or even TV shows is not a bad idea. For in that conversation, you will see the person, and you will discover that what makes them extraordinary is not their mere presence on the planet: it is their decisions. And if you're honest, you will realize that you too can make similarly extraordinary decisions…

Like Andrea Pérez made. A single young woman, with a college degree, living comfortably in Miami and doing part-time community work who decided to sell her possessions and do real community work in the Sudan. At the height of the Darfur genocide.

With that experience behind her, the Haiti earthquake launched Andrea to another goal, sustainable development, where she focused the efforts of her Silent Grace Foundation.

Andrea Pérez
When Andrea went to the Sudan in 2007, the Darfur genocide was headline news. The general image of the country was one of extreme violence and starvation. But Andrea's arrival in Sudan was anything but. She described her surprise at finding that the country was comparatively peaceful (outside of the Darfur region), more so than Miami or Puerto Rico. She spoke about "fresh the air was," and upon looking at the panorama around her, how she felt she had arrived at a very special place.

A huge difference she discovered was in the people, how amazingly resilient they are. In her words, none of Us could expect to go through what they go through and be as energetic and determined to meet the challenges day after day. Andrea met some of the happiest people in Sudan, folks who had gone through horrible tragedy, murders, starvation, chaos, and yet somehow still managed their often life/death struggles with smiles and kindness.

Andrea had to come to grips with contrasts, not only cultural, but personal. She acknowledges her background is privileged, certainly when compared to what she was experiencing in the Sudan. In response to whether she wondered "Why me?," she said she was aware of the possible unfairness between her life and that of others, but that she didn't dwell on that, for it would render her "useless" to help. She simply accepted the difference and sought ways to "level the playing field," for although no one take credit for their background, they can certainly take credit for what the actions and decisions they make.

Andrea doesn't see herself as idealistic, at least not in the total sense of the term: she sees herself as "feet on the ground" realistic with the desire to make things better as much as possible.  Her actions bear her out.

In Haiti--and as Andrea mentioned in her TEDx San Juan talk--most of the help is in the form of "charity," the giving of goods, needed or not, that solve (maybe) an immediate problem, but do nothing to deal with the underlying problems of the community. To Andrea, this kind of giving has limited results, that it in fact creates dependency where dependency is neither needed nor wanted. For that reason, Silent Grace was geared to work with the community, beginning with a Needs Study in Dessources to determine what the community needed and wanted to tackle.

The upshot is that the Haitian community Andrea and her organization work with feels empowered, and though that may be a word that has been smothered in maudlin frippery, its value is still undeniable. One of the empowering aspects Andrea feels most proud about is that the community now negotiates its assistance, taking responsibility for its present and future and not merely accepting what "the outsiders" bring in, no matter how generous they may be. Charity eventually undermines dignity: Silent Grace is building dignity and a prosperous community.

Other organizations are taking notice, as Silent Grace's results are casting longer shadows. It isn't idealism that is making the changes, it is motivation, the desire to take action and put time and energy into making changes happen. None of that is extraordinary; everyone can do it...if they choose to.

As in her personal life, Andrea begins with the end in mind, the goal, then breaks it down into shorter-term objectives. Silent Grace (descriptive name, isn't it?) does the same, beginning with the Needs Study and developing a plan. The organization works with Haitians, many of them smart, hard-working professionals with enormous potential, to amplify the "can-do spirit" and create positive results. Andrea notes that in a badly-ravaged country like Haiti, often what is needed is for someone to believe that changes can and will happen. Silent Grace and similar organizations are providing that belief and support system; it isn't a case of "Yes, we can do it for you," but "Yes, you can do it and we will help."

Are there dreams in Haiti? Do people dream about their future, like We have "the American dream"? Yes, says Andrea. There are two types of dreams: the freedom from want, to have enough food and resources, including education, to live without fear or desperate need, and the bigger dreams, like that of "becoming President of Haiti." Andrea has learned that cultures differ, but people are more similar than different, and that dreams in Haiti are just as important as anywhere else.

Although material support (clothing, food items, etc.) are important, Andrea is focusing on economic support: dollars. Money is vital as energy, and where a shirt or a pair of shoes can make a difference, the money to build a pump or patch a clinic's roof has long-term benefits that material goods can't match.

And the planning goes on. Whenever she returns to Haiti, Andrea gets updates and progress news, including how plans may have changed foe the community's benefit. Among current objectives, Andrea would like to start providing check-ups and creating health records for the community, but that is beyond the current expertise of Silent Grace. The assistance for that effort will have to come from the rest of Us. That aspect illustrates the true need and value of what any person can bring to this effort: themselves. Their knowledge, skills, talent or simple desire to make a difference. As Andrea acknowledges, "I am different because of what I do, but any of us can do what I do."

Andrea is right. For Silent Grace to expand and help more communities, in Haiti and around the world, the number of people who make a decision to help--in any way possible--must increase. Not extraordinary people, but ordinary people with motivation, who decide to do something that is outside the norm, which is all extraordinary means. People who see themselves leaving a legacy beyond family and neighborhood, leveraging themselves to achieve more than they ever thought possible (and discovering it is easier than they thought.)

Andrea's norm is Our extraordinary, an "other-normal" well within Our reach every day. Andrea doesn't do what she does for fame or glory, for then she'd be ineffective, an obstacle rather than a boon. She got her Masters in Public Health Administration, and is aiming at a Doctorate in the same, in order to enhance what she can offer in support. That's something many of Us already do: improve Ourselves to help others. Andrea's scope is simply a little larger than yours or Mine...until We choose to match or exceed it.

Down the road a bit, Andrea sees herself teaching a subject We would all accept as being useful and currently-untouched: humanitarianism. Sad to admit, Our educational system does nothing to teach Us how to be humanitarians, to see and recognize "Us" in "Them." It ignores social awareness completely, or points to it only as something "one should have," with no attempt to guide how one goes about that. Social awareness makes winners of Us all, and like every great teacher or coach, Andrea knows winners exist in all of Us. It is safe to say she wants to make more winners along her way.

Andrea is the daughter, sister, friend and success story We can all feel proud about. But note the order: before her work in Silent Grace, beyond and above that work, Andrea is one of Us. Just one of Us. Her success story could have been written by you, or you, or you, or even Me.

Andrea is writing hers. All of Us can write Ours, too.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

07 February 2012

Judicial Witches and Bitches

[Note: Slightly-belated Thanks to Janine Mendes-Franco, for selecting another Jenius post to Global Voices Online, and to Michael Castro, of the insightful Poder 5 blog, for praising My blog. I so wish to meet both of them soon and give them many thanks in person.]

The Chief Justice of Our Supreme Court is under investigation.

Let's ignore the fact that he, Judge Federico Hernández, ordered a Special Independent Prosecutor investigation into Supreme Court fund usage by that body's judges.

Let's ignore the fact that 6 associate judges--erstwhile targets of the SIP investigation--broke with established Court procedures and undermined the Constitution by abrogating the Chief Justice's order and substituting their own bogus addled monkey-puppet """investigation""".

Let's ignore the fact that the 6 associate judges were appointed by The Larva, that in fact, two of them were added to the Supreme Court just to tilt the political balance of the judicial branch in favor of the statehood gang.

Let's ignore those facts and focus on the charges leveled against the Chief Justice, as leveled by a security officer/sheriff in the court system, a mongoloid weasel called Alejandro Oyola. And then, let's STOP ignoring facts and face them squarely as to what they mean.

Charge: That Hernández used public funds to pay for his Ruby Anniversary celebration at a San Juan hotel...in 2006.

FACT: Hernández quickly presented bank statements, canceled checks and credit card statements that prove he and his wife paid for EVERY expense related to that celebration.

FACT: The Courts Administration Office investigation into the matter showed NO public funds were used for that celebration.

FACT: An independent investigation by local rag El Nuevo Día also showed NO public funds were used.

FACT: The hotel's own records confirm that EVERY payment made to it were processed from private accounts in the names of Hernández and his wife.

Charge: That Hernández hired Oyola to provide security services for Hernández's son during off-duty hours...in 2008.

FACT: There is NO regulation or law against this practice. NONE. 

FACT: That is Oyola's JOB: to provide security to and for the Supreme Court justices, even outside of normal working hours.

FACT: Oyola could have declined to undertake this duty or have it assigned to some other security officer. He CHOSE to accept it.

Charge: That Hernández paid Oyola for this security service with a personal check.

FACT: This is PERFECTLY legal. In fact, it PROVES that Hernández was OPENLY acknowledging that the off-duty security detail was a PRIVATE matter, not a public one. And that he used his OWN funds to avoid ANY perception of illegal or illicit use of public funds.

Charge: Oyola claims that a computer at the Courts Administration Press office was used to view pornography.

FACT: This is hearsay, unprovable as presented and has NOTHING--NOTHING--to do with Hernández.

Here's the fact: Hernández is the victim of a political witch hunt. Serving on the Supreme Court since 1985, these bogus shit-for-brains charges are from 2006 and 2008; "flimsy" would be a 1,000% upgrade. The statehood party found a skanky mongoloid weasel to bitch and spread lies in order to continue undermining the judicial branch and complete the GasoDildo-level raping of all of Our government's sub-sets.

What a crock of shit. Which EXACTLY defines the current (non)administration's mindset, value and total output.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

02 February 2012

The Thieves Want No Supervision

I am disgusted by and with My Island. The word "rap" applies to what's happening.

The so-called Office of Governmental Ethics wants to rape Us about the following ethical procedures:

1) They want to eliminate he filing of financial statements by public officers and employees of the executive branch, and as amended. Who does this include? From page 3 of the first linked document: the governor, cabinet members, mayors, agency directors, presidents of public corporations, OR ANYONE ELSE AS SUGGESTED BY AN AGENCY DIRECTOR. 

They even want to repeal electronic filing of financial statements, so it's not that they're concerned about trees.

Interpretation: The thieves don't want a paper or electronic trail of their looting. Period.

2) They want to eliminate the limitations regarding contractor dealings with public officials in terms of activities that breach current ethical standards, and its amendments. They even want to eliminate checking with the Ethics Office for procedural clarifications

Interpretation: The thieves want bribery and corruption to become the default standard for granting contracts.

3) They want to eliminate getting dispensations to hire former """public servants""", and to eliminate the prohibition of using political party emblems in government activities.

Interpretation: The thieves want to keep the ol' gang together wherever they go and your voting booth will be painted blue and white while covered in statehood insignias.

4) They want to eliminate the restrictions on appointing, promoting or hiring relatives to government positions.

Interpretation: Like incest, nepotism is kept in the family...of thieves.

5) They want to eliminate the authority to impose fines for ethical violations. For that matter, they just want to eliminate the Ethics Office altogether

Interpretation: The thieves are raping Us. Again.

Let Me state this clearly: We either wipe out these vermin with votes, or We use bullets. Or...We let these thieves take whatever isn't nailed down, including Our dignity.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

01 February 2012

(Non)Government Becomes Civil War

Election Night 2008 was the rockets' red glare moment, the first opening salvos of what is now, without question, Our (non)government becoming a civil war.

From 2004 to 2008, with The Jellyfish sliming the helm, the battle was between the executive branch, """led""" by the pro-commonwealth party (Long may it waffle!) and the legislative branch, led by the pro-statehood party (Long may it grovel!) If there was a civil war, it was in the pro-statehood party, divided between Pedro Stupid Rosselló, the 8-year corruption engine, and Luis "The Larva" Fortuño, former "super-secretary" in the Stupid Rosselló cabinet.

The old vermin stood mainly with Stupid, while the new weasels backed The Larva. Basically leading each side of the internal civil war was Tomás "Mad Dog" Rivera for the Stupid sycophants and Jenniffer "Gluttonny" González for the Larva lovers.

Move forward to 2008, where The Larva becomes (non)governor, Mad Dog becomes the president of the (lowest)senate and Gluttonny becomes the president of the (out)house of representatives. With most city halls belonging to their own party, thus negating any serious opposition, the internal strife of the pro-statehood party irresponsibly becomes the true political and governmental battleground.

Time and again, We saw the signs, from Election Night's open defiance of The Larva to the back-room machinations that ensured Mad Dog and Gluttonny could make the defiance stick. Mad Dog always opposed The Larva, openly threatening and delaying cabinet nominations. Gluttonny, an erstwhile Larva supporter, has her eye on the governor's mansion and played cutesy with The Larva, trying to play both ends against the middle when she could. Each side dug in and looked for ways to outmaneuver or outgun the other; the rules--Our Constitutional laws--thus became obstacles in the fight to gain a political advantage.

The checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches were attacked and then skewed, for the ultimate goal was not government of the people, by the people and for the people; no, the game was now "Who swings the biggest dick here?" And yes, I'm including Gluttonny in the mix.

Then in 2011, The Larva expands the Puerto Rico Supreme Court from 7 to 9 members, packing it with pro-statehood supporters masquerading as judges. Proof? In a surprise action, and fully along party lines, the Supreme Court has changed its rules and regulations to avoid a special independent prosecutor looking into its finances. Said SIP was appointed by the Chief Justice himself, a man named by then-governor Rafael "Supinated Commonwealth" Hernández, i.e., a pro-commonwealth appointee from 1985. The 6 pro-statehood judges took action without the Chief Justice being present (he is off-Island at this time) and basically re-wrote their Constitutional definition.

In essence, the Supreme Court has now said "We pro-statehooders are a law unto ourselves"... just like they have in the other two branches.

What was the SIP supposed to investigate? The potential misuse of public funds by the Supreme Court. Yes, money...again.

An aside: when the watchmen and guardians are the thieves, who takes them on?

People, let Me make this clear: what the Supreme Court has done is basically a coup d'etat, an open overthrowing of the established structure of government. Period.

These 6 associate judges have taken their defined mission and function, shredded it and replaced it with their own version of "how things should be done." They did so without consulting non-party sources and violating any system of checks and balances inherent in Our once-constitutional form of government.

The reason seems obvious: the SIP was going to tear some of these justices a new hole. Guaranteed. Since the funds come from a collaboration between the executive and legislative branches--already mired in civil war--the judicial branch saw no other option but to try to bury the evidence and extend the front to protect entrenched positions. The level of corruption has co-opted those whose job it is to ultimately ensure said corruption is quashed.

The executive branch oversteps its financial and economic limits, including the use of clearly-labeled "extra-constitutional" machinations, to thrust Us into debt so deep Greece will be laughing at Our stupidity before 2016.

The legislative branch oversteps its legal and ethical limits to preserve the power of its members and extend said power to areas not under its constitutional prerogatives, undermining the executive branch and citizenry.

Now the judicial branch is placing itself above the very laws it swears to preserve, defend and uphold, extending party politics as a legal fiction for further undermining of Our government.

The statehood party's civil war became the statehood party government's civil war, with the inherent plunder and pillaging that war often begets. Every branch is now part of that battlefield.

Every branch of Our government. OUR government.

And if it takes a civil war to wrench control of it back where it belongs...then so be it.

The Jenius Has Spoken.