31 October 2005

Two Groups In Puerto Rico

There are two groups of Puerto Ricans:
--Those that think We are screwed and it’s Our fault.
--Those that think We are screwed and it’s somebody else’s fault.

There are two groups of politicians in Puerto Rico:
--Those that grub like slimy insatiable parasites pursuing their baser instincts.
--Those that are dead.

There are two groups of organizations in Puerto Rico:
--Those that talk loud and do nothing.
--The one that decided that talking hasn’t solved a thing and got to work.

There are two groups of students in Puerto Rico:
--Those that are socially-indoctrinated to follow a path set by others.
--Dropouts who think there are easy paths to success.

There are two groups of teachers in Puerto Rico:
--Those that have given up.
--Those that never tried.

There are two groups of journalists in Puerto Rico:
--Stupid sheep.

There are two groups voting in Puerto Rico:
--The confused who lack a shred of dignity, a.k.a. statehooders.
--The confused who lack a shred of common sense, a.k.a., commonwealth supporters.

There are two groups in Puerto Rico that deserve Our help:
--Our children.

There are two groups in Puerto Rico that will actually try to help:
--The noble.
--The stubborn.

There are two groups in Puerto Rico’s future:
--Those that forge ahead.
--Those that stay behind.

These are the only two groups in Puerto Rico.


The Jenius Has Spoken.

29 October 2005

Productivity = Value/Time

A Tale of Two Workers: Smith saves your company $1 million over a 100-hour effort. Rivera saves your company $1 million in 15 minutes. Who is more valuable?

Obviously, Rivera. And yet, in Puerto Rico, Smith will most likely get paid more.


First of all, because his surname is “Smith.” You think The Jenius is joking? You locals know He’s right.

Second of all, because in Puerto Rico, We believe working hard is more valuable than working smart. So Smith will submit a bill for US$5,000, the local executive will see “$50 an hour” and sign it (albeit with gritted teeth.) Rivera submits a bill for US$5,000 and the local executive will (a) yell, (b) laugh harshly, (c) react in utter and complete disbelief or (d) all of the above. (Note: $5,000 is still dirt cheap compared to the benefit...)

And yet, We understand and acknowledge that Rivera’s contribution is more valuable than Smith’s, because the ultimate value (savings) was delivered in less time. So why don’t We seek more Riveras by paying them what they deserve instead of pursuing Smiths and overpaying their sorry…butts?

And lest you think this is an “Us versus Them” thing, here’s the same argument in direct terms: Why don’t We seek more productivity by paying what it deserves instead of blindly pursuing time-based mediocrity?

The formula for Productivity is Value divided by Time: P = V/T. In Puerto Rico, we make a fetish of Time, equating it with Value. We think that someone putting in 40 hours is somehow more valuable than someone who puts in 20. (Let’s call this The Fools’ Formula, for they have perfected the damn thing into an art form.) Back when factory workers dominated the economic scene, more hours often meant more value. If your job was to produce X number of pieces per hour, then 20X is obviously less than 40X.

But We are no longer factory workers, or piecemeal producers. We are knowledge workers, information processors, individual economic units each capable of near-infinite Value in near-instantaneous Time. In simpler terms, Our Productivity is virtually infinite.

How do We get closer to that ideal? By improving Our Value and reducing the Time We achieve it in. And no, this doesn’t mean “work harder.” It means:

--Find where you can add the most Value.

--Learn ways to make better use of your Time.

--Make sure you get paid based on your Productivity, not on some other useless standard.

And if you think about these simple steps, you will eventually notice that they require constant learning and an objective assessment of your skills and talents. Constant learning is a given: if you’re not doing it now, you’ll be doing it in the future. Or you’ll be asking if someone wants an apple pie or sundae with their combo.

The objective assessment will come from who hires you, for how much and how much in demand you are. The path here is to work for good clients, at fair market value (for the productivity you bring to the table) and how you present your value-adding skillset to the market.

Imagine what you could achieve if you focused on Productivity. Imagine what Puerto Rico could achieve if We focused on Productivity.

Let’s make it happen.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

28 October 2005

Unwelcome Déjà Vu

I think that a lot of people are carrying around in their heads, unarticulated and even in some cases unnoticed, a sense that the wheels are coming off the trolley and the trolley off the tracks. That in some deep and fundamental way things have broken down and can't be fixed, or won't be fixed any time soon. That our pollsters are preoccupied with "right track" and "wrong track" but missing the number of people who think the answer to "How are things going...?" is "Off the tracks and hurtling forward, toward an unknown destination."

The Jenius ventures far and wide in His readings. In this case, uncomfortably encountering Peggy Noonan's column titled "A Separate Peace" in The Wall Street Journal, posted online.

The words had the awkward feeling of Truth laid bare, as if an autopsy were being performed at a kitchen table. (No less so for referring to her country as "America," the quaint arrogance of the U.S.-born to refer to themselves as if they were the only inhabitants of two continents.) With no effort at all, Noonan's thoughts reflect the angst many of Us feel in Puerto Rico about Our island.

She goes on to state another--oft-repeated here--Truth:

Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us.

Unlike Noonan, The Jenius doesn't believe the label of "elite" extends to politicians and journalists. Politicians are The Fools; a successful maggot is merely a maggot with its belly full. And as for journalists, yapping dogs also make noise and produce about the same societal impact as Our Fourth Estate does.

But the true elite, of which We have many, must act. Sadly, many of the best of Us choose to leave Puerto Rico--and no, not all or even most of those who leave are elite. But by definition, the elite are a minority, and a loss of even one, through absence or indifference, is a loss measured far beyond mere percentages.

Once again, Noonan places her keen eye on the salient point that threatens Our future:

I suspect that history, including great historical novelists of the future, will look back and see that many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, "I got mine, you get yours."

You know people like that; We all do. People whose depth and breadth of talent is turned inward, not outward, towards personal benefit and not societal growth, towards getting, not towards leading. Lest you misunderstand My position, no true leader can achieve societal growth without personal satisfaction. But to eliminate one's greatest potential contribution because of a lack of integrity, vision, discipline or perception is a tragedy.

Noonan continues:

Not all of course. There are a lot of people--I know them and so do you--trying to do work that helps, that will turn it around, that can make it better, that can save lives. They're trying to keep the boat afloat. Or, I should say, get the trolley back on the tracks.

They often toil unrecognized and unnoticed. Some of them are openly mocked, derided or scorned. None are Fools: the Fools can only jeer, like hyenas cringing from lions. Our elite often have the desire, yet still need Our protection to continue the effort. But then again, there are the elite...and there are the others:

That's what I think is going on with our elites. There are two groups. One has made a separate peace, and one is trying to keep the boat afloat. I suspect those in the latter group privately, in a place so private they don't even express it to themselves, wonder if they'll go down with the ship. Or into bad territory with the trolley.

Those that have made their separate peace, that "have theirs," can keep it. If earned with integrity, no one can begrudge it. All We ask is that they step aside and let the truest of the elite make their effort.

The rest of Us, who wonder if We will go down with the ship or into a fatidic tunnel, soldier on. It is not My intention to go down with any ship; there is absolutely nothing romantic or heroic about defeat. My intention is--pardon the transition--to get the trolley back onto its tracks. Or better yet, to trade the trolley for an electric supertrain. Or a jet.

The choice needs to be made. Now and every day until We achieve Our best.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

27 October 2005

God And Sewage

Update: The All-Time Latin Players Team was presented this week during the World Series. Roberto Clemente was selected as an outfielder, an obvious and worthy choice. Please visit this website and sign the petition to retire Clemente's number 21 from Major League baseball, in a tribute similar to that bestowed on the memory of Jackie Robinson.

The Jenius was going to pass on this one, but it literally stinks too much to be left alone. The head of the powerful Aqueduct and Sewer Authority Union, Hector René Lugo, is under Federal investigation for alleged--ahem--misappropriation of the union's medical plan funds to the tune of some $12 million. He is also under investigation for alleged--ahem--tax evasion, to which he recently (October 2004) made a partial payment of $450,000.

In cash. A humble union president! What are the odds?

This week Lugo resigned his besieged fiefdom, not because of the charges he faces--of course not!--but "to allow payments of the medical plan to be renewed." Seems that in the middle of money disappearing and whatnot, the Sewage Agency stopped paying the medical plan that covers union members and other government employees.

And who "brokered" the deal for this out-on-bail, alleged--ahem--serial tax evader, potentate plumber with a millionaire's booty to resign and "clear the path"? Archbishop of San Juan Roberto González.

What the hell is the Archbishop of San Juan doing here? For some ungodly reason, he is the president of the union's Medical Plan Board of Directors, a position the union--most likely rigged by Lugo--demanded the Archbishop occupy so as to end the recent strike against the Sewage Agency. Seems the union had a problem with the Sewage Agency's Board of Directors president, Miguel Nazario, (president of Triple S and provider of an alternate medical plan with much better coverage than the union's) who refused to pay the agency's part of the medical plan deal, a total now of $6.1 million, after the Insurance Commissioner's Office determined that there was extensive hanky-panky going on between Lugo, 10 other union directors and the sorry excuse they had for a medical plan.


To summarize: Lugo presides over a union in George Meany-like fashion, is charged with misuse of medical plan funds, orders a strike (excuse Me: the union voted for one--ahem) and as a pre-condition to ending the strike, the union--wink-wink--demands that the freaking Archbishop of San Juan be the point guy for receiving medical plan payments from the Sewage Agency.

It doesn't boggle the mind that the agency agreed, it boggles the mind that the archbishop did.

Now, as near as The Jenius can tell, there's nothing in any book, legal or religious, that says that a priest can't do a little business consulting on the side. Maybe it's just Me, but that role rarely suits a priest, and in this case, what We have here stinks to high heaven, low hell and everywhere else in between.

If the archbishop has free time on his hands, let Me suggest that there are much better uses of his time than playing patsy for a crooked--ahem, allegedly crooked--union leader. If the archbishop didn't know Lugo, he should have checked him and the situation out thoroughly and declined to participate. If he does know Lugo, he should have declined to participate even faster. Are you telling Me that on an island steeped with social inequalities and a perceived decline of moral values, the archbishop thinks that watching over the inner doings of a union's medical plan fiasco, not to mention possible criminal conduct, is more important than "serving the flock"?

Do tell.

Of course, Lugo used the archbishop connection to indicate that "God had illuminated him" as to what he should do. There's more than a whiff of hypocrisy and outright poppycock in that statement, for where was God when Lugo was allegedly--ahem--evading taxes and allegedly--ahem--making off with the union's monies?

My understanding is that God was always there: just that Lugo wasn't listening.

And neither was the archbishop.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

26 October 2005

Oolsi For Free

The Jenius has long been an advocate of free open source software because it is the environment of experimentation. And the price can't be beat.

Although you could spend days searching sites for free open source software, often abbreviated as F/OSS, My suggestion is you take a click at Oolsi. For one thing, it hasn't grown to the size of a mega-cybermall with hundreds or even thousands of programs vying for your attention. For another, the reviews are pithy and informative, a difficult combination.

The Jenius was particularly pleased to see the following posted on Oolsi:

MIT OpenCourseWare: One of THE most brilliant ideas to come from the open source concept, you or anyone else with Internet access can take hundreds of classes at famed MIT. If the University of Puerto Rico did the same, The Jenius would donate the corpses of The Fools to the medical center. Not before their proper time, though...

Wazima: A social bookmarking site (think del.icio.us) focused on good deals available on the Web. To dispel the growing rumor that The Jenius is cheap, think of this: isn't saving money a cornerstone of seeking financial independence? Enough said.

Oldversion.com: Don't tell me ICQ got better after version 98a or that Acrobat Reader is better now than when it didn't include Yahoo! crap in it. Older versions of software are often stable enough for near-perfect operation and devoid of superfluous gewgaws. Think "lean and brilliant" instead of "Windows." Find that golden oldie and enjoy the freedom of great rather than the tyranny of the overengineered.

The OpenCD: Here you can find a boatload of open source software, from the amazing Open Office (what Microsoft can only dream their program suite can become) to hundreds of lesser-known gems. They are downloadable and the site even has a CD-sized library you can burn and use immediately. A great site and a great introduction to the enormous power of open source software.

Open Clip Art Library: Although The Jenius isn't really a visual kind of person, He understands the value of the right graphic image. Thousand words and all that. The Open Clip Art Library is a gigantic collection of images, sorted by categories, and even by shapes, that is bound to warm the heart of every visually-oriented person out there. All images are downloadable and are free. But tread carefully here: you could end up spending a few hours just browsing...

Oolsi has lots more, like Dumpster Diving, BugMeNot, Lock Picking, Old Time Radio (podcasting gold mine), Free Movies, The Memory Hole and the Altoids Survival Tin. It isn't exhaustive, but it's all interesting.

Kind of like The Jenius.

(One must live up to One's adjectives...)

The Jenius Has Spoken.

25 October 2005

Emotionally Lackadaisical Adolescence

The status Puerto Rico enjoys since 1952 is called, in Spanish, Estado Libre Asociado, or ELA, for short. Translated, ELA means “Free Associated State.”

Oxy. And moron.

What ELA really means is Emotionally Lackadaisical Adolescence, for what this status has created is basically a whiny teenager living in “daddy’s house.” You know, the whiny teenager who wants to be his own person, but relies on rent-free digs and his allowance—a handout, really—to act cool and pretend to be an adult.

What the commonwealth status has done to Puerto Rico is suspend the island in limbo. Neither fish nor fowl, neither child to be protected from the world nor allowed to be an adult to protect himself, Puerto Rico is a teenager and one with an attitude problem to boot. There is nothing a whiny teenager hates more than being told he must either “step up or buckle down,” to become his own man or woman, or continue to live by “daddy’s rules because it’s daddy’s house.” It galls because, for the teenager, the argument cannot be beat, except by leaving the comforts of “daddy’s house.”

And therein lies the problem. Puerto Rico has steadfastly refused to tell daddy: “My time is now. I’m going to be in charge of myself and do my own thing.” In fact, Puerto Rico could actually be considered the International House of Waffles for all the indecision it has shown in this area.

Commonwealth is a $1 word for colony and even commonwealth supporters, the whiniest of the whiny, acknowledge it needs to be “culminated.” Think about this: Our only representative in Congress is a non-voting “member,” whose job description can be summed up in two words: Head Beggar. The Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico begs and begs and begs (call it “lobbying,” “networking” or “politicking,” it still boils down to begging) and the biggest beggar “wins.” Talk about whiny…

So what do commonwhiners consider “culmination”? Former governor Rafael Hernández Colón made loud noises about two decades ago that he was going to “withdraw into solitude and create a thesis for culminating the current status.” Many, many, many months later, he returned with a mammoth document whose abstract was simply: We want more money and more power, but we don’t want to pay for anything or work any harder.”

The so-called ELA thesis dropped from sight and no other attempt has been made to “culminate” what has no apex. It’s like polishing a mirage: only those out of touch with reality would believe it could be done.

Will the commonwealth status be changed? Sure. It has to. There are few uglier sights than that of a 53-year old teenager hanging around the house and whining about how “he don’t get no respect.” There comes a time when even the most patient and loving of “daddies” decides that it’s time to kick the whiny pusillanimous sponger out of the house, for his own good. Some would call that “tough love.”

For Us, it would be “tough luck.” We had—have—the chance to make Our own path, but We’ll just diddle and dither until “daddy” chooses one for Us. You think he’ll care as much as We about that path? Although actually, he couldn’t possibly care less

The Jenius Has Spoken.

24 October 2005

Transformation Challenge

Can Puerto Rico create enough technology jobs to become a truly global economic player?

The knee-jerk answer from The Fools is “Are You nuts?”

The easy answer is “Yes.”

The real answer is “It will take time…and We could fall short.”

Obstacles in the way of this transition are actually easy to define, but difficult to overcome. They are:

1) A culture accustomed to “bonus-based jobs” and “welfare economics”: Puerto Rico’s growth was driven almost entirely by factory-type jobs and wage structures highly dependent on annual bonuses along with limited benefits. These create a mentality that sees “security” in dependence. From there to a “welfare” viewpoint is easy, given the billions of dollars the U.S. has pumped into the Island to overcome its limited economic resources (a limitation often created by U.S. policies towards Puerto Rico.)

2) An educational system that has targeted “ignorance” over “instruction”: It has done so seeking to create a population of essentially shallow knowledge; the less We know, the easier they can manipulate Us. Proof? Puerto Rican history, barely taught in grade schools, is thus relegated to third-class status behind English (see how big a joke that is here) and U.S. history.

3) Leadership more in tune with the past than the future: IF We have leadership, it tends to look backwards—usually to criticize—rather than looking forward to grapple with real issues.

Our way to overcome this malaise is to create an atmosphere of entrepreneurial vision and ambition, a culture aimed at breaking new ground rather than one content to follow other’s footsteps. It will require an education firmly based on knowledge of who and what We were and are, an education eager to explore inner resources along with the comfort to fully explore the world, instead of just Our moneybags neighbor to the north. And We must achieve this transformation with leadership in multiple quarters, not just government and big business, for long ago they fossilized into patterns of failure.

Of course this takes time. It could take 15, 20, maybe 25 years…at least. But those years will go by anyway and if We choose to delay Our effort, or ignore even making it, those years will see Us as what We will have chosen to become: pathetic, maybe bitter, sideline observers.

Now even with a concerted effort, We could fall short. Why? Because We will need another generation to make it happen. Our generation, those of Us between the ages of 18 and 49, can carry the load for the first part of the effort. To be successful, We will need to imbue the same sense of urgency, vitality and determination that We have into Our children. This transference goes far beyond the educational system: it depends directly on Our willingness—and ability—to make good things happen.

Like all great endeavors, there is a high degree of personal control in this process of transformation. It is based on choice and We can choose, every day, to make a difference. Like all great endeavors, the goal is highly definable, yet flexible enough to allow for personal nuances. And like all great endeavors, it requires action.

It will take time. Success is not guaranteed, yet failure is an option We can choose to avoid.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

21 October 2005

Let's Retire Roberto Clemente's #21

The Jenius was 4 years old when he first saw him play, swinging off his front foot and running like a panther. Back in the days when there was only one baseball game a week, catching the Pirates on TV was like catching a lunar eclipse. But in 1971, the Pirates were in the World Series, against the mighty Baltimore Orioles, and suddenly, every game was a Roberto Clemente game.

Playing in front of a national audience, facing a team with four--four!--20-game winning pitchers, Clemente and the Pirates were considered an easy opponent for the Orioles. My Dad, the only Puerto Rican in his Air Force Personnel office, was the sole Pirates supporter. Against the likes of future Hall of Famers Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and Jim Palmer, with Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, Boog Powell and Paul Blair thrown in for good measure, my Dad's reply never changed: "Yes, but we have Clemente."

In 1971, the concept of the World Series MVP was just taking off, the award part of a package that included a car. By Game 4, Roger Angell, one of the greatest baseball writers of all time, wrote that the car should be given to Clemente, for he "...played a kind of baseball that none of us had ever seen before—throwing and running and hitting at something close to the level of absolute perfection...as if it were a form of punishment for everyone else on the field."

At the time, the Pirates were tied 2-2 with the Orioles. But the only thing people could talk about was Roberto.

Our Roberto.

He hit line drives like lasers. At the age of 37, he ran the bases like a racehorse, digging in fiercely as he rounded the bases, ending in a slide so beautiful it would take your breath away. He fielded flawlessly and at one point unleashed a throw so powerful, so numbingly accurate, it was more art that sport.

Before Game 5, the men in my Dad's office could only say: "You were right. You guys have Clemente."

The Pirates and Orioles split the next two games and that most exciting of sporting events, a Game 7 in the World Series, was set. The Jenius could barely sit still. The first run of the game was a Clemente home run, a signature line drive off of a wicked pitch, Clemente's second home run of the Series and extending his World Series hitting streak to 14 straight games.

In a breathless game, the Pirates won 2-1 and were World Champions. Clemente was the Series MVP and in typical fashion, his first words to the national audience were directed to his parents. In Spanish.

Roberto was Ours in every way.

The next season, despite injuries, he achieved a rare goal: 3,000 hits. In the playoffs, facing what would become The Big Red Machine, the Pirates lost in the deciding game because of a passed ball. Clemente walked off the field and none of us, even through the tears of so painful a loss, could imagine it would be his last game.

Christmas Season. The earthquake in Nicaragua. An effort to secure emergency supplies. Stories of profiteering and violence, even deaths. Clemente, a recent visitor to Nicaragua, steps forward. Told he could be in danger if he tried to stop the profiteering, he replied "They will listen to me."

New Year's Day. The Jenius, a sleepy child in the brilliant sunshine, hears the news: Roberto Clemente's plane had crashed in the ocean, shortly after take-off. My first thought was He's a great swimmer. Only years later did The Jenius find out His wishful thought was actually true. And yet, it didn't matter.

Shortly after midday of 1973, the news: Roberto Clemente--My Roberto Clemente--was dead.

In honor of his career and humanity, Clemente was elected to the Hall of Fame the very next year after his death, the first ballplayer of Hispanic descent to enter Cooperstown. An award was established in his name to annually honor the player who combined on-field excellence with community work. The players themselves consider The Roberto Clemente Award to be one of the greatest honors in baseball.

When Major League Baseball made the brilliant decision of honoring Jackie Robinson by retiring his number 42 from all baseball teams, there was only one more candidate worthy of the same: Our Roberto Clemente.

Next year, the All Star Game will be played in Pittsburgh, Clemente's home for 18 seasons. With an aura that has grown since his death almost 33 years ago, Clemente has transcended the sport and become an icon. A very human one. In the words of Thomas Boswell: "I believe that Roberto Clemente is the patron saint of baseball."

Let's make that July night in Pittsburgh the night Roberto Clemente's number 21 is retired. Please visit this website and sign the petition to make this happen.

"Anytime you have an opportunity to make things better and you don't, then you are wasting your time on this Earth" -- Roberto Clemente

The Jenius Asks For Your Support.

20 October 2005

Two Lists Of Five Technologies

Five technologies Puerto Rico should be up to its eyeballs in:

1) Wireless broadband: With a population density of over 1,100 people per square mile and a need for a robust Internet backbone, this one's a no-brainer. Which, thanks to The Fools, means it isn't even close to being a reality.

2) Voice-over-IP (VoIP): Verizon treats its local clients like poo. If any company in Puerto Rico deserves to be shredded into confetti by chaotic change, it's this sorry white elephant (still partially owned by the government. Huzzah.)

3) Open source software: If the percentage of people who pirate Microsquish's sorry-ass offerings simply moved to open source software, We'd (a) reduce piracy to neo-con orgasmic delight levels (not entirely a good thing, but The Jenius is making a separate point here, so tag along), (b) improve productivity as blue screens of death and snail-like tech support are drastically reduced and (c) open up Our infrastructure to the wave of the future, rather than wallowing in the swampy past.

4) Microbanks: We are a consumer-crazed, yet cash-rich nation. Our gray economy nearly matches (and some say exceeds) the "regular" economy. One way to get that money into circulation and make an impact is by targeting loans with microbanks. It's a Third World solution for what is really a Third World drive-train under a Second World chassis. We need to upgrade the drive-train. And the chassis.

5) Alternative energy sources: We have solar, oceanic and even heat-engine technology to reduce Our dependence on oil. Unless We find a way to reduce that dependence, We may find Ourselves without enough energy to power Our economy.

And now...Five technologies Puerto Rico can dominate:

1) Social networking software: It's funky, but clunky, so it fizzles. The most touchie-feelie people on the planet (and this is a GOOD thing, folks) are a natural for making this work. It'd be like Viernes Social for everybody...every day.

2) Artificial intelligence: Don't gawp. AI is not about the programming, but about the feeling behind the intelligence. We can do that like We can breathe. Damn right We should be doing it.

3) Distance learning: Our educational system ranks up there with two-cans-and-a-string compares to the Internet. But We have a strong core of teaching professionals who have learned how to foment learning using a holistic perspective and limited tools. Isn't that what distance learning tries to overcome? Let's get on this, shall We?

4) Content management systems: See numbers 1, 2 and 3. Content management is about communication, searchability and usability. It doesn't matter if We tackle this from one direction or another, We can be the Stradivari of CMS.

5) Smart agents: You want a starting point? Here's one. The Internet is an ecosystem that grows at a faster rate than mammalian embryos. This astonishing growth leaves unexplored and uncharted regions larger than the known territories. (Even adding up Google and Yahoo!'s webcrawling archives without considering overlap yields less than 40% of all the estimated web pages of the Internet.) Who better to explore this vast unknown than insanely curious connectors of people's interests?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

19 October 2005

Tool or Leader: Redux

A recent post o' Mine discussed the dichotomy "techies" feel about dealing with "squishyware," otherwise known as people. In the post, The Jenius stated that one faces the choice of either being a tool or facing the people problems and becoming a leader.

A person whose opinion The Jenius respects pointed out that My classifications were of the "either/or" variety. For the purposes of that specific post, that is true, but under no circumstance is that the only prevailing aspect. Nor is there any intent to subsume the role of tool to that of leader, for The Jenius would much rather work alongside a competent "tool" than with a mediocre leader.

To clarify, and solely in general terms: A "tool" is someone who chooses to focus on technical issues, operational processes or abstract problem-solving. S/He is a tool because s/he actually does the work intended.

A leader is someone who encompasses the human beings involved in the technical issue, operational processes or who act within and upon what others see as "abstract problems." S/He is a leader because of the need to guide towards a goal, often in ways that can be only described as indirect.

What's best for a situation depends on the circumstances. If you need brain surgery, you'd rather have a surgeon (tool) than any number of "visionaries." If you need to redirect a nation, you need at least one leader and at least a handful of high-quality "tools", which explains why We in Puerto Rico are in such dire straits right now.

Being a tool doesn't mean you are inferior to a leader, only that you focus on a different range of interests. Being a leader doesn't mean you are superior to "tools" because, let's face it, if you don't deal well with them, what are you the leader of?

In fact, as The Jenius stated in yesterday's post, the choice isn't either/or, but and. To be a tool and a leader. To know you can get the job done single-handedly and you can generate the energy needed to get a group focused on completing a goal. This would be "leading from expertise/competence," another reason that defines why Our government sucks like a Dyson.

Tool or leader is not a once-in-a-lifetime choice, but one that can occur daily, or even several times a day for those of Us who lead a productive life. For not only must you evaluate whether to be a tool or a leader, but also what kind of tool, what kind of leader, how you will undertake the task at hand, when and how to communicate, is it time to move on and so much more.

The important thing is that you choose. Choose well.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

18 October 2005

Creativity Central

Too many people here talk about creativity as if it were a synonym for crazy. Without a doubt, creativity, when unleashed, exceeds the normal bounds of societal acceptance. Because it is "not normal," it is considered "crazy."

However, despite repeated assurances that We are all creative, most people refuse to believe it. These are often the same people who marvel at their children's creativity, not recognizing how natural such imaginitive thinking is.

For those of you who have forgotten how to be creative or have simply suppressed creative urges (some do so in response to Our miserably inept educational system), the following website is a starting point for recovering the tools you need to succeed.

Calling itself the "All Known Idea Generation Methods" website is a bit much, but it aims at a lofty goal. The list is more extensive than you'd expect, and yet less complete than The Jenius would like. (More on this below.)

Of the listed methods, the following are Jenius picks:

--Alternative Words: Use synonyms or antonyms to stimulate ideas. Perfect for those with a writer's mentality.

--Blocks and Barriers: Rather than creating a solution, just aim at obstacles and take them out. The Jenius uses a method called "Planning By Negatives" that is quite similar. Eli Goldratt uses "bottlenecks" as his concept.

--Brainstorming: The classic method of "group creativity." Used often, but The Jenius prefers individual brainstorming sessions that then bring the results together (somewhat indicated in "Brainstorming with Post-It Notes".)

--Break the Rules: At the risk of being facetious: Duh! "Concept Challenge" is just a fancier way of saying/doing the same thing.

--Mind Mapping: The Jenius is not a visual kind of guy, but this technique has served Him well. In fact, the current "cloud" of past and future Jenius posts is developed on FreeMind, a mind mapping utility that is--surprise!--free. You don't need FreeMind to mind map: a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil is all you need. Very effective method for sorting out ideas.

--Reversals: Better known as "Devil's Advocate". The Jenius has a friend, Roberto, who serves that function. Extremely useful technique often ruined by simply negative small thinkers who confuse "no can do" with "how to do". The Jenius calls them "Connies".

--Scenario Planning: A method only because the military made a fetish of it. Still, it's useful to create a story and play with variations on what could happen.

--Six Thinking Hats: Created by Edward de Bono, the method separates creativity into a system of 6 "viewpoints," each applied separately. Fascinating to learn, but The Jenius has never consciously used it. Could be perfect for elementary education.

Plenty of other methods are presented, but too many with little or no substance to them. It is a work in progress, but progress here should not take long.

In essence, the creative method The Jenius uses can be boiled down to three approaches:

1) "What if?": No boundaries, just what if?

2) The power of AND: The Jenius often refuses either/or in favor of and. Don't choose between two attractive options: do them both!

3) Think "simple elegance": Take it beyond normal limits. Then push it some more.

Use any method. You can be creative, a Genius even. But when it comes to creativity, it's like any other endeavor: You just have to do it.

Go for it!

The Jenius Has Spoken.

17 October 2005

PRIDCO Slim(m)ing

Submitted for your disdain:

--PRIDCO, the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company, a government agency with a track record of waste, ineffectiveness and inanity dating back to the 1970s.

--An agency with the following breakdown: 360 managers, 290 non-management union workers, a ratio of 1.24 "chiefs" for every "Indian." (Let's hear it for PRIDCO's organizational skills!)

--Their ongoing plan: to reduce said "work"force to 150 workers by firing hundreds and offering "early retirement" to a few dozen.

The Jenius is on record as indicating that cutting the size of the local government is not just needed, it's mandatory. And yes, these cuts are disruptive and create a huge perception of ill will. But in PRIDCO's case, the cuts are not enough. The whole agency should be deep-sixed right now.

Extremist positions are popular as "button-pushers." The Jenius isn't pushing buttons. He is merely stating what has become self-evident: PRIDCO is no longer useful to Puerto Rico's interests.

A 75+% cut in personnel is not--clearly not--an "adjustment for effectivity." It is not intended to create a "leaner, more efficient agency," because this implies that 24% of the old group can match or exceed what was once the province of a monolith four times larger. That begs two questions:

1) If 150 can do the work of 650, why were We paying for 650? Answer: Politics and the jobs-buying-votes system so endemic to democracies.

2) If 650 couldn't do enough to justify keeping this bag of crud agency alive, what are 150 people going to do to justify their existence? Answer: Nothing. They are being asked to do nothing and they will, with remarkable success, do exactly that.

The Jenius knows there are good, even great talents in PRIDCO. But they are a mere handful, best served by being released to serve in other areas where their talents can serve Us--and them--better.

The only possible answer to the PRIDCO situation is to simply eliminate the entire agency once and for all. As a bastion of "big box manufacturing," PRIDCO is as in tune with Our times as Victrolas. It seems logical to believe that the 150 remaining drones in the slimmer version of PRIDCO will be 75% of the "managers" and 25% of the "workers," reflecting the "monkeys plucking fleas from each other" social system We see in Our government. That kind of "top heavy" agency will basically be another place where mediocre ideas go into coma and die years later when life support is terminated because of budget cuts.

Is the "PRIDCO Plan" the solution? No. No plan will fit every agency and department in this government, but as a solution, what's happening to PRIDCO should be a first step in a series of similar cutbacks in Our government.

And the next target for massive personnel cuts should be a worthy one, not a backwater. That target is the Department of Education.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

15 October 2005

Statehood? Not A Chance

I lived almost 20 years in the U.S., spanning states from Nebraska to Texas to Mississippi. I traveled extensively through the South and Midwest, visited 31 states for at least a few days each and have spoken about Puerto Rico to people in virtually every state I visited. My appearance and name are those of a White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant, the proverbial W.A.S.P., and to this day, I am often taken for “American,” sometimes even while I’m speaking “boricua.”

I can assure you of two things: The average American doesn’t know about or care a thing for Puerto Rico. And that as soon as I disclosed I was Puerto Rican, not “American,” many of them visibly changed their attitude towards me in a negative way. They didn’t need to think it through: it just happened. And that reaction consistently--sadly--permeates the entire fabric of the country.

To you statehooders whose “knowledge” of the U.S. is little more than a month’s visit to the Bronx or a couple of trips to Disney World: shut up. Just shut the hell up. You know as much about the U.S. as the average worm knows about nuclear physics. Understand this: the U.S. will not grant statehood to Puerto Rico. Ever. It is not a “right” We have earned, it is not a “debt” the U.S. has to pay and it is not their "obligation" to take on a nation (a concept you shamefully deny We have) as part of their republican federation because of a simple reason: it’s their house and they can say who comes in and who doesn’t.

The ignorance the average American has about Puerto Rico will quickly change to expertise based on a single issue: We are not like them. To the average American, We are not Americans. We are outsiders. Strangers. Parasites even. For though the U.S. was founded on humanistic ideals and principles, in fact, the ideals and principles are often expressed as “If you ain’t one of us, you don’t count and we don’t want you.”

If Puerto Rico ever descended to the level of asking for statehood, an act equivalent to kissing beneath the wallet that has bought us, the system says 37 States (three-quarters majority) have to approve the petition. It’s easier to find 37 States to vote against it. First off, no Southern state would approve. Strike Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina from the list. If you have to ask why, you’ve obviously never spent any time in those States.

Then take the large Western states, like Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. These states are famous for having a strong sense of freedom, “America First” sentiment and a bewildering array of militia radicals. Their vote would be a resounding NO with nary a split-second’s thought. That makes 12, so one more “No” would scratch the infamy of statehood from consideration.

Take your pick: states in the extreme northeast—-Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire--as conservative as the winter is long. States such as North and South Dakota, or Minnesota or Kansas or Nebraska or Iowa or Oklahoma or Utah (lowest minority population of any state) that would see their puny representation overwhelmed by Puerto Rico’s in the House of Representatives, where the number of Fools is determined by population, not State seniority.

Which brings up the point about the House, whose number is set at 435. Unlike the Senate, which could rise to 102 Senators, Puerto Rico’s "representatives" would be taken from high-population states, namely California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois and Pennsylvania. These states have high Hispanic minorities, but would the peoples of these states allow one of “their voices in government” to be taken from their control to be given to a fledgling state with a comparative poverty level that makes Mississippi look like Monaco?

And let’s not ignore the question of race. It matters. It matters a lot. Maybe 50 years from now, when the majority of the population of the U.S. is non-white, maybe it won’t matter as much. Or then again, it will, as the difference between “Them that have” and “Them that don’t” could very well make the race issue seem trivial by comparison.

The Jenius thinks it is time We moved beyond all this statehood crap. For deep down, it isn’t a matter of pride or heritage or history or anything lofty: it’s a matter of money. They have it, they know we want more of it, and they don’t want—or have—to share it. On that alone, they will reject the request for statehood. And they should.

Because We can do better.

Except that most of Us don’t believe—or don't want to believe—that.

Not becoming a state is not Our loss; not knowing how to be Ourselves is.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

14 October 2005

The Impossible Dream

A recent survey of over 250 well-known authors from around the world was made to select the 10 greatest novels ever written. The clear winner, mentioned by more than half those surveyed, was Don Quixote.

Written 400 years ago, this novel of a dreamer who seeks to emulate the idealistic heroes of knighthood has enraptured readers across time, ages, languages and borders. The reason is obvious: Don Quixote represents the power of Our dreams.

No matter the reality he faces, with stalwart companion and staunch realist Sancho Panza, Don Quixote sees the best in everyone and everything. He wants the best for everyone and everything. He stares down evil and poor manners with fierce contempt, while elevating the mundane and banal to the level of sublime. No bad is tolerated; no good is overlooked. His is a world of his own making, and thus, it is perfect.

But Don Quixote is self-aware enough to realize he is out-of-touch with the world at large, that in fact, he is mocked and attacked for his way of seeing and reacting to Life. It hurts, but he remains steadfast, choosing his visionary ideals over the masses' mundane blindness.

Greatness in one realm seldom translates into another. For example, many is the book that becomes a wretched movie. Don Quixote became a Broadway musical titled Man of La Mancha, and its signature song quickly became an anthem for the idealist. "The Impossible Dream", penned by Mitch Leigh and with superb lyrics by Joe Darion, captures the essential power of Don Quixote's vision, especially with the stirring finale:

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

Don Quixote lives his life. He prefers the nobility of reaching for his utmost over the inspidness of mere existence. He would rather shine in defeat than live in the darkness of what others call comfort.

Don Quixote is a romantic, "a soulful, amorous idealist". Over the course of 400 years, his soul, a soul composed entirely of words, has blazed as a symbol of humanity.

And the world is better for this. It always is when We reach for Our dreams.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

13 October 2005

T.I.P.S. For Service

Service is at the heart of every good business and every good professional practice. More than anything else, service determines success because it focuses efforts on those who build success: clients and suppliers. So why is service so downright shabby?

From the checkout clerk who acts like your presence is assaulting her nostrils with a stench to the mechanic who screws you with more vigor than he expends on your car to the doctor who barely listens to you before moving on to the next passerby patient, service is awful. Now it might be impossible to change an entire social habit overnight, but improving service—providing service—will be the key competitive advantage in the global economy.

So where do you start? If you have no idea, The Jenius suggests you click on T.I.P.S., a blog and newsletter that brings to light the simple idea that service can and must be improved. Created and developed by Diana Figueroa, T.I.P.S. is a launch pad for bottom-line benefits.

Disclosure: The Jenius is an occasional columnist in T.I.P.S. Are you surprised?

Diana is waging a campaign against indifference, poor manners and just plain bad business practices. She aims to make businesses more effective by improving their interactions with customers in practical ways. Many of her ideas are simply common sense, but as the man said: “Common sense ain’t.”

But to those of Us in the tech community, Diana’s T.I.P.S. does more. It helps Us bridge the gap between technology and user, in essence, moving from the scientific to the social. If that transition seems useless to you, let The Jenius suggest you take a look at this column, penned by Yours Truly.

And since you’ll want to know, the idea for that column was provided by Diana. That’s her job: to turn the obstacle into an advantage.

And one more suggestion: You might want to get in touch with Diana before your competitor does.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

12 October 2005

The Magnetic Mindset

My Regards to The Information Soldier for a complimentary and insightful post.

And now, from the quirkily named Dancing Elephants comes a worthy read. Dive in: you'll be glad you did.

The Magnetic Mindset

Do you have a magnetic mindset? Are others drawn to you? As we define it, a magnetic mindset is one that attracts others. But attracting others is not all there is to being magnetic.

People with a magnetic mindset are rich in many ways. They have discovered how to do what they love, serve others and create a life that brings them happiness. You can increase your own magnetism if you focus and take action on the key magnetic mindset principles that will enhance both your personal and professional lives.

1. Follow Your Passion – Live your life with passion by pursuing areas that you love. You will find true happiness and bliss if you spend your days pursuing what really matters to you.

2. Invest In Yourself – Your personal and professional development should be a lifetime process. Changing your mind and developing your skills is the one thing that will always pay dividends. Continue to sharpen “your ax” so that you are able to address and handle new situations and challenges.

3. Maintain Your Health – It’s not enough to develop your mind and attitude, if you fail to honor and take care of your body. Create a healthy lifestyle that promotes a strong body and spirit.

4. Focus On Relationships – People make a difference in your life and you can make a difference in the lives of others. Choosing the right relationships and nurturing those relationships will pay dividends. Whether they’re business or personal relationships, your life is enriched by the people that you surround yourself with and the depth of the experiences you share.

5. Serve A Higher Purpose – What’s your purpose for being? How can you make a difference in the world? Whether it’s through a calling to your religion or serving others, find out how your life and work can make a difference. Determine your personal vision.

6. Have The Right Attitude – This is the granddaddy of all the principles. By being open to the world around you, you can see the possibilities instead of the roadblocks. With the right attitude, you will have the self-confidence to be the best you.

7. Be Different – To be different, you need to think differently. Find ways that set you and your work apart. Success and wealth come to those that are able to distinguish themselves.

8. Embrace Change – It’s not enough to accept change. You must embrace change because it is a constant. How can you use change to seize new opportunities? What changes can you make to improve yourself?

9. Stop Doing What You Hate – It’s not enough to figure out what you love, you must also figure out what you don’t enjoy. Determine those activities or jobs that pull you down. Once you’ve identified them, figure out ways to eliminate, outsource or delegate the things that you don’t want to do.

10. Set And Achieve Goals – It’s important to know what you want to achieve so that you can develop a plan to make your goals a reality. Take the time to articulate and write out your goals for all areas of your life. Once written, you must follow a disciplined process to reach your goals.

11. Be Present – In your life, “you must be present to win.” In other words, you have to engage with the here and now, whatever that might be. Make the best of where you are and what you are doing. Don’t wait on the sidelines of life. Jump in and participate.

12. Don’t Focus On The Money – Money is not the answer. If you focus on money, you will lose sight of what’s important. Money will follow passion and hard work. In his research, Peter Lynch interviewed 5,000 millionaires and found that they spend an average of six minutes daily on personal finance. Focus your time on what you will do, not how much money you have or don’t have.

13. Take Action – By creating a sense of urgency and focusing on what needs to get done, you will set yourself apart from the masses. Most people fail to take the right action consistently to live the life they want. Without action, nothing happens.

14. Act With Integrity – Do what you say you are going to do – not sometimes but all the time. People want to be with others who they can count on; people that they respect and trust. By demonstrating integrity and a strong character, you will enhance your credibility.

15. Find Your Voice – Be yourself. Be the authentic you and embrace yourself. It’s impossible to be the best you can be by pretending to be somebody that you’re not.

16. Be An Expert – Expertise will set you apart. In work, people are compensated based on the value they provide. Consequently, experts are always paid more than others in their field. It’s difficult to be a true expert in a variety of topics or areas, so specialization is critical to developing expertise.

17. Take 100% Responsibility – This means no excuses. Forget what you can’t do and figure out how you can make things happen. By taking 100% responsibility for everything in your life, you will create a radically different and better life.

18. Create Systems – By creating systems, you can streamline your most precious commodity, your time. Systems will allow you to be more effective and efficient. You won’t have to reinvent the wheel. The right systems not only allow you to focus on higher level activities, it also provides a model where tasks and responsibilities can be delegated and successfully handled by others.

19. Be Prepared – In any situation, you need to know what to do. Spend time planning and preparing for your daily demands and activities. By anticipating what needs to be done and how it can be done, you will avoid adopting a “winging it” approach.

20. Get And Be A Mentor – Find individuals in your life that you connect with and can learn from. Whether it’s a one-on-one mentoring relationship or a mastermind group, challenge yourself through the experience and insights of others. You can gain and give so much through the right mentoring relationships.

21. Think Deeply – It seems so simple, but so many of us just don’t take the time to really think. You should think about your life and how you can create and shape it to serve your purpose. Give critical thinking a chance by blocking time off to think deeply. With deep thinking comes personal reflection and revelations that will help you achieve what you are capable of achieving.

22. Find Balance – The proper balance will remove stress and give you the life that you desire. Finding balance between all your interests and goals will increase your well-being and happiness.

The Jenius Has Quoted.

11 October 2005

Eager To Be Slaves

Puerto Ricans love being enslaved.

Or perhaps they simply don't know that they are enslaved.

How else can you explain Our tendency to buybuyBUY and spendspendSPEND beyond Our means? We live on credit like a vampire lives on blood, partially ashamed of our naked lust, but greedy when the object of that lust is in sight.

Many people here have two mortgages on their houses. Who really owns the house?

Many people here have bought a car on extended financing. Who really owns it?

Many people here buy everything on credit, such as appliances, furniture and clothes. Who really owns these items?

Many people here max out credit cards at 18-19% and take out "easy" loans at 25-27% interest. Who really owns their future wages?

If the house you live in, the car you drive, the clothes you wear, the bed you sleep in, the range that cooks your food and the monies you can make don't belong to you, what do you really own?

Debt. You own only the obligation to give your money to someone else. You work only to give the product of that labor to someone else. Someone with the power to punish you if you fail to fulfill your duty according to their stipulations.

You are a slave. An economic unit with scarcely more freedom than a beast in harness.

Why? Why is this happening?

Because the path of least resistance is a powerful seduction. New! Trendy! Snazzy! Now! Today! Envy! Vanity!

Many people here consume to maintain "an image"? Who owns their mind?

Many people work, not to live, but to merely stay in the same place, running a daily treadmill of miserable despair, fearful that without this agony, their house of cards will collapse. Who owns their heart?

Tell these people the truth... and watch their eyes cloud over, thinking about their next purchase or week-long vacation-to-be-paid-for-two-years.

Tell these people to budget and plan for true wealth... and watch their eyes follow the newest luxury vehicle or electronic doodad in action.

Tell these people to avoid credit and stop following the beat of a bloodsucking drum... and their eyes show horror, not at the image, but at the idea of living within their means.

Eyes of slaves who are afraid of being free.

We need eyes that see another vision, one of hope and growth, a vision of building for one's future and not for another's profit sheet. Eyes that are eager to see what freedom is like. Eager to shine at how empowering it feels to leave the mindless herd behind. Eager to see the paths of being a force for themselves, and not a slave of others.

We need more of those eyes. We definitely need more of those eyes.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Update: 4 August 2011: Debt Is the Slavery of the 21st Century. Funny, I was called "excessive" for saying this, probably because I was 5 years too early... Actually, no I wasn't. ]

[Update: 19 October 2011: Debt-Serfdom Is Now The New American Norm. The typical American household is insolvent: its debts exceed its assets. Welcome to Puerto Rico, U.S. of part of A.!]

10 October 2005

Sewer Rats & Singapore Censors


Dictionary definition: a deep hole or shaft dug or drilled to obtain water or oil or gas or brine.

Jenius definition: Sarcasm indicating irony.

Let's take The Sewer Authority first. In a move of monumental stupidity and crass disregard for even a shred of decency, responsibility or candor, the local Sewer Rats have decided to raise the rates for their pathetic level of service and diseased product more than 120% and as much as 330%. In an effort to "erase" decades of subhuman management and bestial neglect, the Sewer Rats try--they try very hard--to make this rate increase a "benefit for Puerto Rico."

The Jenius is on record as supporting a water rate increase simply because it was long overdue. But this increase fails to pass The Jenius' "Bullseye or Bullshit" meter, for the following reasons:

1) Is the rate increase justifiable? No. Increases of over 100% in any product or service, much less a utility, are essentially a raping of the consumer. Unlike a commercial product or service, a utility offers no alternative: pay up or do without. That many in Puerto Rico are already doing without water service just adds fuel to the fire. (A mixed metaphor, at least...)

2) Is the rate increase fair? No. That Puerto Ricans have been under-paying for water since the 1960s does not mean it is right to make Us over-pay for it now. Theft, constant political cronyism and piss-poor management have squandered the utility's resources. What's fair is to straighten out the utility first, then raise the rates. As it is right now, We are giving more money to a dangerously malignant entity, pretty much like giving increased blood flow to a cancerous tumor.

3) Is the rate increase useful? Hell no. See points 1 and 2 above. And notice how plans for using the rate increase's additional revenue are very very vague. Think about this: A demostrably inept organization, part of a political structure that reeks of corruption, is going to receive more than twice the money it used to... and the legislative twig says "it can't do anything about that." They lie. Just as you don't put a loaded gun in a monkey's hand, you shouldn't put millions of dollars in the hands of syphillis-addled brains.

Moving on... A recent Jenius post about Singapore touched on the limited freedoms, according to Western democratic standards, that Singaporeans have. Check out this news item about two bloggers who were jailed and fined for making racist remarks on their blogs. The judge, Richard Magnus, said the sentences were "...necessary so that such offending acts are tackled early and contained." He also said that "...callous and reckless remarks on racial or religious subjects had the potential to cause social disorder, regardless of which medium or forum they are expressed."

So far, The Jenius barely agrees. Racial slurs and racism are stupid, the product of tiny minds and cowardice. And catching variances to accepted behavior early is a key to maintaining effective discipline, a vital issue for personal and group progress.

But where The Jenius and the judge part ways violently is at this point: "..the right of one to propagate an opinion on the Internet is not and cannot be an unfettered right."

Wrong, Dick.

One's opinion is the product of one's thoughts, and thoughts are inherently free, in fact, the only inherently free right anyone has. That certain opinions are offensive, crass, disgusting, idiotic, vapid, useless and unredeeming--for example, yours, Dick--is simply part of the human condition. To state that propagating an opinion on the Internet "is not and cannot be an unfettered right" is to aim for Legality and shoot Morality in the head. For the only counterbalance to crappy opinions is more opinions, not less, to foment greater participation and not by imposing censorship.

Yes, Dickie, you sent a message of "watch out!" Yes, race and religion are sensitive issues. But trying to restrict or eliminate opinions, and the media that spreads them around the world in seconds, only creates more anonymity in the creation of opinions. That breeds cowardice. And cowardice breeds stunted thinking, like racism. Or legal precedents such as yours.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

07 October 2005

Soldiering Upward

Let's keep this short and simple:

--The Jenius and Aníbal Freytes are mentioned (in that order) in a Global Voices post.

--Aníbal's post is about the current malaise he feels in his government job.

--The Jenius posts part of Aníbal's post, then notifies The Information Soldier about the post.

--Aníbal contacts The Jenius and a meeting over lunch is decided. After a missed opportunity, We meet.

--Over lunch, an extensive conversation about government work, its (lack of) standards, progress of the past versus stagnation in the present, leadership vaccuum, opportunities, key players, Open Source Minds, his past, My past, his future, My present, tactics, strategy, overcoming the brain-draining sickness that is government work...and more.

--An invitation sent to Aníbal to join us at our next OSM lunch.

--Aníbal uncovers a weakness in my e-mail system. Took him all of 5 minutes, most likely less.

The Jenius foresees good things happening with and around Aníbal. Drop in and meet The Information Soldier. You'll be seeing the transformation start.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

06 October 2005

Education For Us

What is an educational system for? What is the highest purpose for an educational system?

Based on historical trends and evidence, it seems that Puerto Rico's educational system has a goal of creating sheep meant for government and industrial corrals, also known as "offices," "pensions" and "marginal salaries." And sheep, as anyone who has been around that farmyard animal knows, don't need to be too bright. Most of what they need to know--eat, sleep and poop--is already hard-wired into their little brains, so all you have to teach them is where the barn is, where there's food and water and to stay away from the fences.

Yup, pretty much the description of the ideal government or factory worker.

In theory, and let Us make a note of stressing in theory, an educational system is supposed to prepare a person for contributing to the best of their abilities to the overall development of their nation. In fact, the educational system has become a complex form of domestication, of imposing subservience, of beating the brains into mushy pulps so that other, mushier brains with hard reptilian nodes, can pretend to lead them.

Sounds harsh. But can a system so inept, so utterly out-of-touch with modern reality, so rife with idiocies and--at the government level--corruption, be tolerated any longer?

Seems so. Instead of a concerted effort to fix the system, We choose to vote with Our wallets and purses and steer Our kids to whatever oasis seems economically palatable. There are good schools and some that are great; there are good teachers and some that are great. But they are a decided minority and all-too-often become arenas where education takes a back seat to "image," arenas where flashing cash means more than flash cards.

Solution? It will come from the private sector. Only the private sector has the flexibility and the focus on problem-solving that will make a true difference in Our educational process. And why will they focus on solving the problem? Profit.

If education-for-profit upsets you, but education-for-propaganda doesn't, then what follows may convince you otherwise. The government has no real purpose in education other than perpetuating itself: not to benefit the nation (other than their little pigsty) and certainly not to develop individuals who can challenge the status quo. Why should they? Their positions of "privilege" are not sustained by merit, but by fiat.

Where the private sector can solve the problem and secure profits is by aligning the needs of future growth for the individual and the nation with new educational models that deliver the needed/wanted results. In short, educate for potential rather than against it.

The global economy of this century is not a preserver of status quos; in truth, it destroys them with chaotic speed. A nation educated to bow to stasis, to "follow the lunkhead" misery is not now or ever will be a true global economic player. But a nation is not an entity: it is a collection of individuals united by common characteristics and sharing, often unconsciously, common vision and goals. To develop the nation, develop the individual. To develop the individual...well, that's Our job.

Let's get to it.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

05 October 2005

Bilingual? Baloney!

"Puerto Rico is a bilingual country."

No, it isn't.

How can a country say it's "bilingual" when it teaches a second language, in this case English, for at least 12 years--at least 12 years--and most of its people are barely Tarzanian in the use of that language?

There are, of course, dissenting views, like those expressed some time ago (one on a different subject) by a commenter to The Jenius. Here are Edith Asher's remarks, exactly as she chose to leave them:

Bla, Bla, Bla... Borring. AND most add That's NOT true!

Wow! Big deal being bilingual. LOL Bobo! We all puertorrican are bilinguals.

Uh, no, Edith. Based on you, not all of us are bilingual. And with you as an example, there may even be doubts about Our literacy.

According to linguists, near-native fluency in a second or additional language, defined as being able to speak conversationally, read a newspaper and write a personal letter, can be achieved through instruction in an average of 3 years.

Near-native fluency in three years...

So what the hell is happening in Puerto Rico where four TIMES that amount of time is invested for barely a third of the expected result? Many, if not most, people in Puerto Rico cannot really read a newspaper in English, couldn't begin to write a letter in English and can barely carry on a simple conversation in English. This is a far far cry from the bilingual and multilingual fluency one often encounters in the Caribbean and Europe, where mastery of 3-4 languages is common.

Look at the admittedly limited examples above: Nine basic orthographical errors and two basic grammatical ones in 22 words, an "average" of one mistake every two words. This from someone who blogs in English and truly, truly believes she is bilingual. Delusion aside, how have We come to such a sorry state of affairs?

Incompetence and hypocrisy.

Despite The Jenius's opinion that many teachers would serve Us better as fast-food workers, the full burden of incompetence in this English as a non-second language debacle lies upon an educational system that reeks of stupidity and has done so for decades. Rather than start from scratch and focus on what works, The Fools (of which "bobo" could be a translation) have chosen "tweaks" and "techniques" and "textbooks" and "training", but never ever ever have they actually considered teaching.

Hypocrisy: Puerto Ricans say--oh yes We do!--that learning English is very important. But then We harass those who want to learn it, cheat Our way through the stupid processes that try to occupy Our time about its importance and even try to legislate it out of usage if not existence. (Yes, The Jenius knows this is a political issue, but everything in Puerto Rico is a political issue except water skiing and onanism.) We act is if English were a denial of "Self" in pathetic imitation of the only major country on this planet that actually believes that knowing one language is better than knowing two or three. We see "English only" in the U.S. and instead of rising above it effortlessly by learning more than Our northern brethren, We play "monkey see, monkey do" and aim for "Spanish only."

And an aside: It is pathetic--let Me repeat: pa-the-tic--to see statehooders in leadership positions whose English language skills make Edith seem like the second coming of Shakespeare's editor. Especially when you find that the most eloquent and accurate English speakers tend to be Independence Party leaders. Allow Me to clarify that the point is not accent, but precision: statehood "leaders" often have the first in spades AND lack the second as if they'd been hit by a spade upside the coconut. Pun intended.

Solution: Let's scrap the "12 Year Plan for Wasting Time in English" in favor of a 4-year plan that gives conversational English one year, reading English two years and writing it one year. Have the students start in 4th grade and complete the sequence by the 7th grade or start in the 7th grade and finish in the 10th. Those that start early would most likely gain advantages in acquiring learning skills and knowledge, but in any case, the 4-year period keeps the system, teachers and students focused on results, not on just marking time.

You say it won't work? In Japan, Spain, Italy, Mexico, South Korea and other countries, students routinely take 2 year courses in English and achieve proficiency levels equal to that of U.S. eighth-grade students. We need to achieve college-level proficiency in English to occupy Our rightful place on the global stage and The Jenius is convinced that We could do it in as little as four years of instruction.

IF We change the system. IF We stop the hypocrisy.


The Jenius Has Spoken.

04 October 2005

Tool Or Leader

Allow Me to do basic logic:

Premise A: Ideas are common as dirt, but excellent execution rules.

Premise B: Everything one seeks to achieve in business (or Life) is done solely through and with other people.

Premise C: Excellent execution often involves teamwork, i.e., working with and through other people.

Conclusion: You may have ideas, but unless you deal with the "people problems," you will not achieve excellent execution, a.k.a. success.

The previous exercise emerged from a conversation The Jenius had today with a brilliant mind. However, most of the "obstacles" this brilliant mind sees are merely people problems, the fuzzy world of emotional irrationality that permeates everything We try to do.

See, this brilliant mind works in a world where "A leads to B" and "Y follows X," a tidy world of push-pull, cause-and-effect almost wholly in his control. But in the transition from this orderly, controllable world to the real world, the tools and savvy that make him great at one thing are exactly what keep him from seeing solutions in the real world. In the real world, logic and rationality are worth as much as bat snot. And situations often become as sticky as bat snot, even with the best planning.

Now, My friend knows--feels--that things should be easier, more orderly, better. The reason The Jenius senses this so keenly is because, once in a not-so-distant past, He felt the same. In fact, He was even more adamant about "people problems": He simply avoided them entirely. The Jenius worked alone. The Jenius didn't give bat snot for people problems because people problems were beneath His notice.

And...The Jenius made little progress towards success. (My friend has taken far greater strides in that area, but then again, he is a Genius; that makes a difference.) For if one refuses to deal with people problems, one is merely a tool. And tools are never leaders.

That's the simple Truth. You can either be a tool or a leader. If you want to stop being a tool, being used and used up, then you have no choice but to become a leader... and deal with people problems. Leave the tidy world of one's own making--one's comfort zone--and proceed to discover the myriad challenges of dealing with a veritable blizzard of variables, each one as unique as a snowflake.

Is My friend doomed to remaining a tool? Hell no. He's well on his way to setting a pace for leadership that many will envy. Why? Because he sees the problem and is seeking a solution. Leadership boils down to seeing what's wrong, seeking a solution and communicating the results. My friend is already an excellent communicator; when he starts grappling directly with people problems, he will move smoothly into full leadership roles. And his very ability to question himself will keep his mind open enough to grow far beyond the petty ego state many "leaders" freeze themselves into.

It won't be a smooth road and it won't be fun most of the time. But he will achieve more than the rest of Us who throw up Our hands in despair and complain about "people". Leaders are made: My friend is making himself the kind of leader We always need.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

03 October 2005

Success Starts Now

What better way to start a week--any day of the week--than by focusing on items that can make you more successful. Success, when personally defined and not subject to what "society" tries to impose, is the only goal for a Life well-lived.

You may have heard that "Life is not a dress rehearsal"; believe it. Too many of Us wander through the days as if Time and Fate were at the controls of Life. They aren't. Time is the servant of a wise planner, Fate is the outcome of your decisions and thus Life is what you make of it, not what it makes of you.

From Marcus Vorwaller's Best Tools for the Job blog comes a list of Ten Things You Can Do Today to Jump-start Success:

1. Read or listen to something that motivates you every single day. If you don’t read another item on this list, take this to heart. Don’t let a single day go by without providing yourself external motivation.

2. Keep a journal of your daily progress and carry it with you wherever you go. Change and progress will happen, but in order to recognize it, you have to record it. An example of a journal entry might be “Started tracking all expenses today, woke up 15 minutes earlier, set goal to read one book a month.” Some days you’ll do more than others, but the important thing is to do something every day and write down what you do.

3. Make goals and re-write them every day. Your goals will change, don’t worry about making goals that right now feel unattainable or baseless. The hardest part of making big goals is starting. Start by recording between 5 and 10 changes you’d like to make or milestones you’d like to reach within the next three years and re-write the goals, along with a brief note of your current progress every day. Save the lists of goals as you go so you can see how they evolve and you progress. This idea is by no means unique to me, but I do it and I know it works.

4. Keep track of every person you meet. If you don’t feel like you will remember their name, write it down, along with details of the conversations you had with them. Microsoft Outlook or almost any Personal Information Manager is great for storing this type of information. Keep it in a simple, but comprehensive system.

5. Begin investing a portion of your income today. A great place to start is a high-yield savings account, an IRA or a 401k plan. Do not put off investing until you’ve found the ‘perfect’ investment. If you’re already investing some of your money, bump up the amount you invest a notch.

6. Begin looking for opportunities to build passive income (money that you don’t have to work for once you’ve done the initial work) and write down or begin working on your ideas. The most important thing you can do is be aware of the ideas you already have. Focus on building assets, not more work for yourself.

7. Only sleep as much as you need to. Sleep is obviously important, but don’t use the most important hours of your day dreaming. If you wake up at 7 and go to bed at 11, begin to wake up at 5:30 and go to bed at 10:30. Chances are there is an hour each day that you could use doing the above things that will make you more happy and successful.

8. Look for opportunities to serve. If you are willing to help others, others will be more willing to help you. The benefits of service are real–you will find more happiness and peace through serving than through any amount of time or money.

9. Keep track of every penny that you spend or save. Record every transaction in the back of your checkbook, in a spiral notebook or in accounting software. By doing it, you’ll begin to discover patterns you never would have found otherwise.

10. Stop being a victim. Focus on what YOU can DO. Stop assigning blame, don’t look for excuses. Take the attitude of ownership. Don’t try to change others, make a decision then take action.

Personally, The Jenius would have moved #10 to #1...

There is nothing on this list you can't do. And if your "inner critic" says "This seems too easy," tell the critic to take a hike. It is easy and difficult: easy to implement, hard to sustain. But in that persistence, that consistent focus on yourself and your future, lies the secret to achieving--and being--more.

The Jenius Has Quoted.