31 March 2006

Time Is On Your Side

If you haven't noticed, Kevin Shockey's back at Portal Al Exito...

Jon Zaadz has a blog, and on that blog, he posted an interesting topic: How to Have 36 Hours in a Day.

Now, short of a semantical throw-down, let's say The Jenius finds the approach intriguing. In summary, Jon suggests and [I comment]:

1) Optimize your sleep -- "Add" 1.5 hours [I make do with 4-5 hours; lucky Me.]

2) Optimize your diet -- "Add" 1.5 hours [Here's an area to work on.]

3) Multitask -- "Add" 2.0 hours [See below.]

4) Get organized -- "Add" 1.0 hours [Definitely a good idea; could save much more time.]

5) Improve your typing speed -- "Add" 0.75 hours [I'm around 35-40 words per minute; definite room for improvement.]

6) Improve your reading speed -- "Add" 0.75 hours [I average a 500-page book in 2.5 hours; can't read much faster, but could read less overall.]

7) Learn Out Loud (audio-based content) -- "Add" 1.5 hours [Big time saver what with spending 8-9 hours in a car a week.]

8) Use software to your advantage -- "Add" 0.5 hours [Done. Can't do much more yet.]

9) Cut your TV time in half -- "Add" 2.0 hours [I'm already down to only 4 hours a week, so it's doable. For the average person, the gain could be closer to 4 hours.]

10) Get help from others -- "Add" 0.5 hours [Already in effect, but could be worth trying a little more.]

As for multitasking, Time Magazine has a lead article on "Generation M" and their almost hyperkinetic need to do several things at once. Let's call a spade a spade: multitasking is nothing but rapid focus switching. You really can't do several things at the same time: you simply do one at a time at a very fast clip.

Is multitasking a time saver? Yes and no. If the tasks can be combined without interrupting each other--like walking a half-mile to a nearby appointment, thus combining exercise and business/pleasure--then by all means multitask. But if the tasks tend to engage the same faculties (think frenzied professional juggling work tasks), then it's been shown time and again that focusing and completing one thing at a time is ultimately more productive.

Is Jon's "12-hour addition" feasible? Yes. It's a good approach to finding ways to make time work for you. Don't forget that, if you choose to make it so, time really is on your side.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

30 March 2006

Becoming An Expert

[Brief aside: Someone--has to be a guy--actually Googled "the role of the tapeworm in educational mismanagement" and--shudder--guess what?

All I want to know is: why?

On another topic, a Greek(?) Google search for "jenius creativity" tossed up Moi as the top result. Sad to think that the greatest ancient civilization may have regressed just a leeetle bit more...]

Now back to Our regularly scheduled brilliant post:

Every once in a while, if you surf the Web often, you'll run across things you've seen before, but this time around, you see them.

Case in point: The Jenius occasionally drops by David Seah's blog to enjoy the productivity and flexibility focus David brings to managing one's resources. Several months ago, I actually downloaded his Printable CEO tool (check it out!) and am in the process of adapting for My own use.

At the time, I read--actually, scanned--one of David's posts, this one about investing about 10,000 hours in order to become an expert. In fact, as quoted from another of My sources, the DIY Planner, it isn't talent that separates the high-achievers from the average, but the amount of practice the person puts into their endeavor. Yes, talent makes it easier to do something, but excellence comes from action, not mere genetics.

I ran into the post today while researching productivity topics and this time, the post clicked in My mind. Yeah, I saw the light.

In David's own words:

"While 10,000 hours over 10 years is a daunting proposition, consider this:
---1000 hours is pretty doable. That’s a little less than a year of full-time work.
---100 hours is even more achievable…you could do that over a few months on the side, or just slam through it in a very intense couple of weeks.
---Even spending 10 hours practicing something is going to make you significantly better at it. If you spent 10 hours practicing one song, or learning how to juggle, or learning how to bowl strikes…you’re going to learn something.
---One hour? That’s worthwhile too. You could spend an hour writing your signature over and over again to make it cooler. I’ve done that at least a couple of times in my life.

The point: the ability to improve ourselves is very much within our grasp. I always knew this, but putting it in terms of accumulating hours of experience is awesome. An acquaintance of mine put weight loss in similar terms: 'Sure, it’s going to take two years to lose that much weight–it’s a drag. But you’re going to be living those two years anyway, so why not slim down at the same time?'" (Emphasis Mine.)

The time is going to by anyway, so why not do it? This heuristic applies as much to weight loss as it does to education, exercise, skill enhancement, social development and any human-based endeavor you can imagine. It's simply a matter of choice--of choosing your focus and acting upon it.

You want to make more money? Do something to improve your long-term money-making abilities.

You want to have better health? Consistently do more things that enhance your health.

You want to become a better person? Then actually be a better person. The common link here is action in the form of practicing.

As for putting in the hours: An hour a day means about 360 hours a year; that's 9 workweeks. Simply invest 2 hours a day and you reach 18 workweeks' worth of practice. Think about that. Think hard about that. How much can you accomplish with 18 workweeks of your best effort put into your focus?

Now add this thought: How many people do you know actually do this?

Final thought: If becoming an expert is so doable, and doing so puts you ahead of the pack, then when are you going to get started on your expert-making?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

29 March 2006

Statehood Truths

Over at The Information Soldier, Aníbal Freytes quotes an Angus-Reid article about the (no) chances for Puerto Rico becoming a U.S. State. Though the tagline says "The idea is increasingly gaining ground both in the mainland and in the Caribbean island," the article implies U.S. indifference to Puerto Rico and delineates that statehood would mean pouring more cash into a leaky barrel. (Those are My words, not theirs.)

Aníbal comes to a self-described "sarcastic" summary of the article:

1) The U.S. doesn't give a damn about Us.
2) We want statehood because We're poor.
3) Welfare under statehood would be greater than it is now.
4) Half the U.S.'s population would be unwilling to change the first three points.

Point #1: The Jenius said it outright. That Aníbal can draw the same conclusion despite having diametrically different experiences than Mine is indication of how deep this Truth is.

Point #2: Again, a point The Jenius made previously. Remember, this isn't a race: what Aníbal is doing is reaching conclusions similar to Mine based on his own reading of the issue.

Point #3: A point I never discussed directly, but it follows from Point 2. In fact, the local statehood party has been trumpeting the slogan "Statehood is for the poor" (Estadidad es para los pobres) since the mid-1970s, a blatant attempt to whitewash the indignity of assimilation with greenbacks for the slovenly. (Yes, slovenly.) Statehood's idiocy is thus confined to a matter of "Show Me the Money!", a more rationally appropriate point for a movie about a sports agent than for a country's development.

Point #4: It goes beyond not wanting to change the previous three points, it's that there's no need to: whether it's autonomy, chooosing a status or arguing moot points, the U.S. has not, is not and cannot be forced to change its level of indifference to Us. In the matter of Our Future, We must choose for Ourselves and ignore the U.S. as it ignores Us.

But as local analyst Nestor Figueroa Lugo pointed out, the status issue does not impinge on Our daily lives, so it gets lost beneath the myriad issues We deal with every day. Nestor is right: Our status is political pantomime, Circus of The Fools. Now if only The Fools would be true mimes and shut the hell up about it...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

28 March 2006

Snapshot of My Browsing

From The Guardian Unlimited, one of the many trenchant U.K. publications, comes this Simon Caulkin article about management-as-mismanagement, as described and dissected in Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Nonsense, by Stanford professors Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton.

Here's a pithy quote:

So why don't managers make judgments on evidence, as doctors at least try to do? The book pinpoints a number of factors, many of which come down to the human factors economic theorists carefully exclude. They overestimate power, fail to cut losses, underestimate cost and difficulty, and ignore the lessons of failure. They put too much faith in superficial impressions and repeat what worked in the past. Or they fall back on unexamined but deeply held ideologies. (An unqualified belief in anything, except the likelihood of being wrong, is a certain predictor of tears ahead.)

...If only the facts matter, it shouldn't matter where they come from. That undercuts the traditional justification for hierarchy: that the boss knows best. Facts force the boss to choose between being 'in control' and being right. Many choose the former.
(My emphasis added.)

Moving right in My Opera tabs, I found this: School & College, a Special Report by the Council for Higher Education. Subtitled Expectations for Our Teachers Are Misplaced, the report highlights three cogent points about education schools, those that turn out new teachers. The points are:

1) "Education schools are blamed for admitting weak students who will become poor teachers, ill equipped to prepare their students for higher education. But they cannot raise the quality of the population entering the education professions. They can't attract top college graduates to the teaching profession, even if they were to commit all of their resources to doing so. The real problem is that teaching pays low salaries, has low status, and offers poor working conditions. Education is not a competitive choice for the nation's most able young people, for whom law, medicine, and business — fields that pay median salaries two to four times as large as those in education — are far more appealing." (Ditto about the emphasis.)

2) "Education schools are asked to turn out "finished products." That makes no sense. Teaching is one of the few professions in which brand-new professionals are expected to know everything on the first day. Schools take them and immediately place them alone in a classroom and say, "Teach." Yet upon graduating from medical school, new doctors are not rushed into the operating room and asked to oversee open-heart surgery. Instead they go through an internship and a residency, gradually gaining knowledge and experience under the guidance of experienced practitioners. New lawyers who join a law firm do not enter a courtroom right away to serve as lead counsel in a murder case, but work for a partner and get experience and increasing responsibility. New journalists are not assigned to interview the president, and the new M.B.A. is not asked to direct a corporate division." (Yep, Me again.)

3) "Education schools are expected to rescue failing school systems. They can't... No urban-school system in America has ever been successfully turned around. It makes no sense to expect an education school to do what other educators, specifically trained for this purpose, have been unable to do. If after seven years, an urban school system has not made substantial progress, it is not time for the local education school to close its doors. It's time to fire the superintendent." (Me.)

One more jump to the right: From one of My new favorite sites, Real Simple, comes this haunting question: How do you make time for yourself? I never had much of a problem with that, but many of Us do. The truly fulfilling Life has time to dedicate to one's own concerns, to meditate and ponder, to relax, do nothing, smile alone, to stretch or curl up, to let the sun shine on your face or let the wind bring you distant scents, to laugh within and without, read about worlds you'll never experience or those you wish to relive, to hug a child as the only thing to do in the whole wide world... Hug yourself the same way. Find the time for yourself, in your own way.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

27 March 2006

Beyond Fear


Not horror-movie fear: real fear. The kind that runs through daily life.

Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of being embarrassed. Fear of not measuring up. Fear of recrimination. Fear of punishment. Fear of poverty. Fear of abandonment. Fear of others who are not like us. Fear of knowing. Fear of emotions. Fear of death. Fear of silence. Fear of rejection.

Fear. The liquid pain in a child's eyes when he realizes his world is now upside-down.

Fear. The hard edge in a woman's face when prejudice against her gender slams a door she dare not touch.

Fear. The jagged streaks underlying a politician's denial.

Fear. Weighing down the minds and hearts of so many of Us. Why?

The world is an unpredictable and occasionally dangerous place. Crime, for example. Traffic, avian flu and carcinogens are others. Examples abound. Therefore fear abounds.

And yet, there are some who glide without fear. The deranged We can ignore (or emulate, if all else seems futile). Some of these who glide cling to the idea of a God and thus yield fear from their lives to that God. Those are the "Let Him/Her/It take care of it all" school. Faith trumping fear with a marked card.

Then there are the willfully possessed, those who actively refuse to let fear dominate their lives. Driven, emboldened, almost savage in their intensity, they merely push fear off the superficial cliffs of their minds and let it fester in the deepest canyons of their souls.

Then there are the ignorant and those who opt for stupidity. Ignorance is not a crime, merely a circumstance, neither good nor bad. But stupidity, for any reason, is evil, a crime against a human's most powerful grace. Fools are stupid and thus wallow in fear.

The few who live without fear have not ceded, banished, ignored or rejected it: they have accepted fear as a part of Life. Not the main part, or the most important part, but simply part of the panoply. If fear is the opposite of love, We often think fear is more important, or why would it be so widespread? So as a signal, fear is a reminder that love also exists and can be brought to bear on the situation.

Yes, in every situation. One doesn't have to love thy neighbor--the woman's sexist boss, for example--to bring love to the moment. It can consist of loving oneself enough to stand up for one's rights, to let love guide a decision rather than let fear dictate inaction.

Or to watch a boy--My son, Kaleb--struggle with tears as he climbs into My lap. Afraid I'm going away now that he lives in another house, for he cannot understand everything yet, he chooses not to cling to Me, but to share, to let Me know that, though afraid, he's doing his best. He cries, but works through his fear by asking Me how I'll be, whether I'll be working too hard or if I have enough to eat. How much of that is Mine, I don't know; maybe not much. But I'm glad he has it and I won't forget it works.

Please don't forget it either.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

24 March 2006

Some Inchoate Thoughts

inchoate: n. Newly begun, incomplete, not organized.

It seems that every conversation We have on this Island centers around problems: jobs are scarce or unsatisfactory, Our government sucks and its government (at the Federal level) is turning into 1984's Big(oted) Brother, food costs rise, energy costs are soaring, water quality is nonexistent, the educational system is a fetid dead horse...the list seems endless.


My thought process was hovering around that topic when these steps clicked together in an instant:

----1) Every problem has a solution.
----2) What if the problem can be avoided?
----3) What if We simply solved it at the personal level?
----4) Would I be willing to try that?

Notice the personalization at the end. It's very important, for unless I'm interested, I won't pursue the matter. (This standard applies as much to My writing as to My work, and I'd be surprised if it didn't apply to yours.)


Let's make a brief list: government, jobs, education, water, food, energy. No particular order, just a portion of Our daily diatribe. Here, in the briefest of fashions, are solutions to these:

Government: Ignore it as much as possible. Ignore their "news", the "politologists", the press conferences, for they are all the loathsome blither-blather of muck-brained sheep. Vote if you wish, pay taxes, but to every degree possible, ignore and avoid the government. What's truly important will filter to you through family and friends you trust. The rest is garbage.

Job: Start your own business, using the Internet. That avoids all the red tape the local Fools throw at you to show they have power like intestines have gas. By focusing on yourself and your career, you take away the power others have to keep you insecure as to your present and future options.

Education: If you have children, seriously consider homeschooling. At least get a computer, a broadband Internet connection and a lengthy list of age-appropriate websites for your children to explore. Don't think a private school is automatically better: some small public schools are strong educational centers. If nothing else, take a direct and consistent interest in your children's schooling: it will pay off for their future. As for yourself, add one new skill every 3 months. Define what you need or want to learn and start learning. Use any method (books, tapes, classes, workshops, seminars, barter, apprenticeship, volunteering, etc.) but keep learning.

Water: Stop buying bottled water. It's a scam and an expensive one, at that. (In general, spending less on everything is a good idea, but here it's a must.) Find the best water purification system (reverse osmosis is considered a top choice) at the lowest price. Use Consumer Reports or other similar sources to help you choose. Change shower heads, faucets and toilets to more efficient models. (If you learn to do that yourself, you've just added a paying skill!)

Food: According to urban gardeners, 100 square feet can grow enough food to substantially reduce your grocery bill and enhance your diet. It is also good exercise, a great educational experience and a potential income source. Given the propensity for houses in Puerto Rico to have tiny yards and flat roofs, roof gardening is actually quite easy. The point is to reduce food costs, but the ancillary benefits (including a cooler house if you put a garden on the roof) are large.

Energy: Brighter lights that use less energy are common now. Use them. Turn off the TV and other "white noise-makers" you keep on for no other reason. Do you really need a gas-guzzling SUV (and its high monthly payments)? Solar water heaters save money. Clean air conditioners take only a few minutes, but can save you hundreds of dollars a year. Use a timer to reduce the water heater's "ON" time.

These steps and many more are possible at the personal level. It's a matter of choice. But their true impact happens at the community level, when some 150-200 people come together, especially when you look at jobs (business support through bartering, trading, niche market support such as guilds); food (crop diversity); water (communal wells, irrigation, sewage recycling); energy (windmills, solar energy) and education.

I haven't thought all that through yet, but then again, I don't have to. There's bound to be be plenty of information out there on all these topics and how they can be applied.

If We choose to.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

23 March 2006

7 Steps to Success

From Third Age comes this Lynn Robinson article about achieving success. Lynn notes that the "soft voice" of intuition can get you started and these steps can help you get to where you want to be:

1. Focus on the goal. When you think of an ideal day, week, month or year, what are you doing with your life?

2. Develop a plan. What are the small steps you can begin to take that will lead you in the direction you want to go? "A journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step." Take that first step, and then take another.

3. If you get off track, be willing to change. What are you doing that's on the mark? If one way doesn't work for you, be ready to go another. Many times, the road to success is found by taking a detour.

4. Cultivate the attitude of a wish fulfilled. Success is waiting for you -- feel it, see it, vividly imagine it, sense it and grasp it.

5. Don't dwell on the old. Put your mental energy and action into focusing on where you want to go.

6. Look ahead, rather than back. Ask yourself, "How will I view this circumstance six months or a year from now?" Put your focus on what you have the power to change, rather than dwelling on an apparent failure.

7. How will you know when you're succeeding? Success isn't a destination. It's a journey. Here's a checklist:
--Are you enjoying what you do?
--Are your connections with friends, colleagues and family strengthened by your success?
--Are you proud of your accomplishments thus far?
--In the process of achieving your goals, are you developing the qualities of kindness, self-respect, courage, compassion, patience, love and hope?
--Do you feel more in control of yourself and your life?
--Are you able to shift negative self-talk to something more positive and useful?
--Has your spiritual life been enriched through the process of achieving this goal?
--Are you being of service to others?
--Are you more self-confident and sure of your capabilities as the result of pursuing this dream?
--Are you continuing to stretch just beyond your comfort zone?
--Are you easily able to shift direction if the course you've been on isn't working?
--Are you consistently listening to your inner guidance and following its wisdom?

If you answered yes to most or all of these questions, you are a success! When you've put a lot of hard work into an endeavor and it's not going as you planned, it's hard to step back and assess the situation. Is there something that you feel you're "failing" at in your life? The following questions will help you put some perspective on your experience.
---What can you learn from this?
---What are you doing right?
---What outcome will make you feel you're successful?
---Where did this begin to go wrong?
---What do you wish you had done differently?
---What is your intuition telling you to do about this situation?

You'll notice certain items highlighted. They apply to Me. Others do too, but those were the ones that stood out most prominently when I read the article. Do any stand out for you? Remember you always have the capacity to change and that change is the only true constant in Life.

The Jenius Has Quoted and Spoken.

22 March 2006

Penick's Insights

From an unlikely (to Me) source, And If You Play Golf, You're My Friend, by Harvey Penick and Bud Shrake, some wisdom about Life:

"(I)t's not what the teacher says, but what the student hears that matters."

"The more simple the approach is...the better off you are. It's the simple things that last."

"(D)on't be mad at luck. Stick to the one thing you can control: you."

"I never know so much I can't learn more." (That's what makes me a Jenius.)

"When I am at fault, simply say 'I am at fault and there is no excuse for it. I will do better next time or at least I will change it.'"

"A pro, or anyone, either goes forward or backward. What am I doing?"

"Life consists of a lot of minor annoyances and few matters of real consequence."

"We are frequently misjudged by our superiors, but never by our subordinates."

"Finish one job well before starting another."

"(I)f you want to change yourself, you must change how you think."

"A person of honor is a winner everywhere."

The Jenius Has Quoted.

21 March 2006


I wasn't going to do this, but the day sort of led up to this point...

One year ago today, The Jenius showed up in His own blog, a reactionary emergence against the perceived lassitude of the Internet industry in Puerto Rico. As with any blog that receives its Creator's attention, The Jenius has evolved, becoming both more expansive and yet more personal in its topics.

Milestones were passed without comment: 100 posts, 200 posts. This one was to have been about some other topic, as yet undecided. But all too often, it has been My habit to ignore personal achievements and commemorations, for though the Jenius' focus is always squarely on Me (even when it seems not to be), it's more a case of "Just doing My job" than "Hey, look what I did".

However, Life has turned a lot for The Jenius in the past year, with several wonderful highlights and a few negative ones. Sadly, one negative outweighs the good. In a few days, the end of My marriage will be in judicial hands and in some unknown span of Time, it will officially end.

The warmth the word anniversary once had is now gone, in large part because I drained the feeling from it. But to linger over a wound is to keep it from healing, so though My current pain will not heal quickly, it doesn't mean I can't acknowledge that an anniversary can still be special.

Not many bloggers last a year, much less writing as often and extensively as The Jenius does. (If that sounds like horn tooting, it's meant to.) So to acknowledge this anniversary is to acknowledge Me and My readers, those who come regularly and those who pop in on the off-chance that I might be (A) what they're looking for, (B) interesting or (C) as goofy as anyone who misspells "genius" can be.

To My subscribers, your confidence in Me is heartwarming. Thank you.

It has been a quiet, almost desolate day, emptier than I wanted it to be, but flashing moments of good. And there's still time for a small celebration.

The candle flickers out and a wish is made...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

20 March 2006

Some Non-Random Points...

Seriously, I'm beginning to wonder... First of all, who would search for "retail blood suckin like creatures and vampires"? Why? And how the blue Hades does Gil The Jenius come up as the FIRST result? Here's a clue: every other result is related to music, so not only is The Jenius odd in fascinating ways, He might be unhip as well...

Over at Lipsticking, Yvonne made Me blush green. (It was St. Paddy's Day, donchaknow.) Not easy to make Me blush, in any color. Then Yvonne sent Me a notice about World Water Day, to be celebrated March 22nd. The Day is to raise awareness of the tremendous importance water has in Our lives and how desperate the lack of it can be. On a local level, some 15-18% of Our people lack consistent water services, but that's still a paradise compared to the situation lived by far too many in Africa and Asia. Please, drop by WaterPartners International and learn how you can help make a real difference to hundreds, maybe thousands of people. It doesn't take much, except the will to try.

Recently, the local statehood party (also known as "Folly Central") ejected two current Senators from the party, in a move reminiscent of backroom union politics in the seediest of towns. One of the ejected is the current Senate President. Think about that. The party's elected "leader" in the upper chamber (a synonym of "upper colon") is forced out of his own party. Well, that don't seem right, especially when you consider that he was kicked out for simply doing his job. What's next? Shooting your own friends?

Later next month, Scott Ginsberg, The Name Tag Guy, will reach 2,000 days of continuous use of his name tag. It says "Scott". (That's for all the statehooders out there who think "democracy" means "You better agree with me." Are you listening, Pedro "The Buck Sucking Leads to My Pockets" Roselló?) Why bring this up now? Because Scott's message of Approachability is the foundation for enhancing your career and your life. Think I'm joking? In Scott's latest issue of his e-zine, Building Front Porches, he estimates that he's met about 40,000 people since he started wearing a name tag. Forty thousand. Now he acknowledges that he doesn't have a personal relationship with all of them, but imagine the possibilities for positive change in your life--for finding that golden opportunity--if you had an extra 40,000 chances to make it happen. Yeah, bad things happen to good people, but GREAT things happen to good people who reach out and make positive connections.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

17 March 2006

More About Smart Women

Women are establishing more small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) than ever before...

Women-owned SMBs employ more people than businesses owned by men...

SMBs employ more people by far than the Fortune 1000...

Women buy or directly influence the purchase of almost 65% of all the goods consumed...in some cases, as high as 91%...

Women outnumber men on the Internet...just as they do in meatspace...

Blogs number over 30 million, grow by about 70,000 a day and because of their connective, interactive, relationship-oriented nature, it stands to reason that more women than men are also involved in blogging...

So: More businesses + more employees + more consumption + more influence + more communication + more numbers = the largest force for change in human history.

Given the power of technology, with its global reach, and the growing power of business to effect grassroots change in days rather than years, there can be no other conclusion.

Yvonne DiVita over at Lipsticking touched on this growing power and how it is there for the taking. Yes, Yvonne has a vested interest in the topic, but so do I. And so should anyone who wants to be a bigger success or make a difference.

And let's nor forget that the number of women getting college degrees is either higher or increasing faster than the rate amongst men, for nearly every professional field. What does that mean? Here's just one aspect: The educational standards for executive promotion now favor women. And the gap is growing wider.

Or how about this? Women's income is rising faster than men's. Not only do women buy more often, they are earning more money that they can spend.

Or save. Women save more than men, because they are still more vulnerable in the economic sense. More women with more money and more need to make it work for them seems like a gold mine of a niche market to Me.

That's why The Jenius read Smart Women Finish Rich: because understanding the pressures a woman faces to manage money helps Me understand their priorities. And knowing that, I can be a better consultant, business developer and conference speaker.

Vested interest? Absolutely. Otherwise, the hat Yvonne referred to would be mine.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

16 March 2006

Jenius Results


Here I was, ready for a thoughtful comparison between 19th century educational goals and 21st century needs when I encountered this little tidbit: If you search for "A fool is defined as a person who repeats the same behavior and expects different results" in Google, the FIRST result is...


Gil The Jenius.

At least it was a 2005 post. There's hope for Me yet.

Or maybe not: Do a search in Google for "Animal Farm ignorance and apathy" and the FIRST result is...Gil The Jenius.

And what about "describing jenius"? Ditto: Me in FIRST place again. Whether that's good or bad depends, I suppose, on whether you are a spellchecker.

And what about that (in)famous FIRST place, "bat snot"? The Jenius has dropped to #5.

Sigh. Of relief.

In an attempt to correct this apparent misperception of My Jenius, I Googled "tecno sapiens" and "sociodigital".

Sigh: #4 in both.

Finally decided to try "Puerto Rico jenius". The FIRST 3 results are Me. But #4 is Kevin Shockey, he of Portal Al Exito fame.


For some reason, I feel much better now.

(And Jim, don't laugh: you're #12...)

The Jenius Has Spoken.

15 March 2006

My "Not Insane To Do List"

Thanks to Gerard Van Der Leun, of AmericanDigest.org, The Jenius has gone even further in simplifying His (My!) life. It's called the "Not Insane To Do List" and it replaces everything I was using: index cards, random notebook scribblings, Outlook and iPaq (in that order).

If you haven't clicked the link, I'll show it to you. It looks something like this:


1 _____________________________

2 _____________________________

3 _____________________________
That's It. Undone Items Roll Over
Into One or More of Tomorrow's 3 Slots.
Take It Easy.

The link includes a PDF download so you can print the NITDL on an index card. No cost. Free. Because Van Der Leun's a nice guy that way.

Being The Jenius, I had to make My own version (business card-sized, of course) of this handy-dandy productivity tool. Here it is:


1 _____________________________ ☼

2 _____________________________ ☼

3 _____________________________ ☼
Have Fun. Be Great. Make Money.

Notice how My version replaces uneeded (to Me) instruction and wise advice with My own even-better advice. And yes, that IS the order I try to do things: Fun, Excellence and Money.

In these days of readjustment, it's a comfort to be able to throw minutiae out and focus on just a few important things.

This could become a habit...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

14 March 2006

...There Be Dragons

With a nod to the late Earl Nightingale...

Cartographers of long ago drew their speculative charts and when they reached a region where explorers, or their knowledge, couldn't pinpoint features, they wrote "Here there be Dragons."

Rather than admitting ignorance, the mapmakers chose to speculate--in obviously negative fashion--what lay beyond "the known world". In choosing their description, they tossed away practically everything they knew of the world in favor of illegitimate flights of fancy coupled with the notion of a danger never proven.

Call it marketing, if you wish. I prefer to call it demagoguery. Exactly the kind of demagoguery We encounter with the term "independence".

Independence for Puerto Rico is, at best, a vague notion, something "out there", closer to Our heart than blood and yet farther than the faintest star. For one, We don't want it. Well, actually We do...but We don't. We're eternal teenagers, stuck at 14, wanting the freedom of being adults, lacking the resources to make it happen and unwilling to actually make the effort to earn those resources. Thus We're left with the occasional outburst of "Look at me!", semi-constant whining about "Our condition" and flaccid bowels when it comes to face the issue head-on.

When reality comes at Us too fast to dodge, We're left with the conclusion that independence for Puerto Rico is not an option. And it's all the dragons' fault.

Like Medieval villagers, We have continued to place a "...there be dragons" label on all that independence would mean for Puerto Rico. Years ago--and probably still in vogue--there was the notion that, if We were granted independence, Cuba would invade Us within a week.

Yeah, right. The hubris here is laughable, the geopolitical grasp is that of a sea cucumber and the fact remains: Let them try. We'll handle it.

The biggest problem in defeating the dragons is that the "explorers" have been blind and dumb. (Not mute...dumb.) Our would-be explorers--independentista "leaders"--have consistently, almost criminally, failed to create a viable scenario for Puerto Rican independence. The closest they have ever come was to screech "socialist republic", a notion so full of holes it would make a sponge look like a lead brick.

Instead of finding solutions based on Our own ingenuity and determination, based on the notion that "We can handle it", the unseeing dummies and other Fools ended up creating a whole series of mythical beasts, unreal and irrelevant, that made further exploration into the unknown more difficult to the many who'd rather wave a flag and cheer Miss Universe on TV.

Independence, or its more realistic term autonomy, is not a "no-man's land" of danger: it is simply a way of life. Being autonomous now is not an invitation to be conquered as it was back when mapmakers knew mermaids tricked sailors. Nor is it carte blanche to toss away the power of democracy and capitalism in favor of dictatorship, however mild you want to pretend it will be. Just as a teenager walks towards adulthood with both promise and danger dogging his or her steps, so it could be--should be--with Us.

To look at the known path of commonwealth or statehood and deem it better than the creation of One's Own Fate is the pathetic delirium We have endured for half a century: Hammered by fear, panic-stricken at the notion of personal responsibility, lacking faith in Our abilities and yet yearning oh-so-wistfully for the glory of standing alone. This is the sad tragedy of those who believe "...there be dragons."

The Jenius Has Spoken.

13 March 2006

Living The Simple Life

What would happen if you simplified your life?

No, don't tell me you can't. You made it complex, you can make it simple. The choice--there's that word again--is entirely yours.

Here's an example of simplifying life: How often do you check e-mail? Personally, while working at My computer, I used to check it every 15 minutes. Now I check it every 3 hours. The difference? I gain about 30 minutes more time to work on higher-priority issues than spam, press releases and the very occasional urgent message.

A simple change in e-mail use simplified My life and I gained the benefit of better workflow. Why didn't I do it earlier? Because I bought into the myth of "always connected" as a definer of My work's value.

Stepping back to take a look at My life, I realized there were other areas I could simplify:

-- Less TV: I watched about 10 hours of TV a week; now it's down to 2. (Except for the World Baseball Classic games.)

-- Fewer newsletters: Dropped from 55-60 a week to 23.

-- Fewer bookmarks: I have over 6,000 bookmarks in Opera. Decluttering is a tension reliever, so I refiled over 5,300 of them to an archive file, keeping only the ones I'll use for writing. Doesn't seem like a big deal? I now own those 750 bookmarks as part of My work rather than being overwhelmed by clutter. (Try it in your home or office: you'll see what The Jenius means.)

-- Said "No" more often: Reduced My commitments so I'd have time for what I really want to do.

-- Discovered a website I'd bookmarked in October 2005: Live Simple. Created by John December, it is a very personal guide to simplifying one's life. (This is what I mean by "owning" a bookmark: I could now review it to My heart's content and gain new insights for My path.)

December's take is direct and blunt: simplifying your life is more than an option, it is a duty. Your health, your family, your relationships, your career--your very life--depend on eschewing complexity and embracing simplicity.

Take a trip through Live Simple and choose just one idea to implement in your life, like The Jenius did with his e-mail. You almost certainly will discover a horizon of benefits that you never knew, or wanted to believe, existed.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

10 March 2006

Three--No, Four--Questions

Went to a local shopping center this morning and suddenly decided to ask random strangers a trio of questions.

Don't worry: I've done this before.

A total of 21 people answered My questions, and their most common responses are in brackets below.

"If you could change something in the world, what would that be?" [Startled, weak smiles, curious gazes at My hat, clothes and tennis shoes (all recently-laundered), pensive looks, big smiles when answering.]

Answers ranged from gender issues ("I'd change my wife for a younger model", spoken by a guy who was obviously alone), and politics ("Kick the governor out!"), to economics ("Make sure I win the next 10 Loto drawings!") and revenge ("Buy the company I work for and fire my bosses!")

The next question was the heart of My plan:

"Are you very satisfied with yourself?" [Puzzled looks, glancing away or down, rueful smiles or frowns, shaking head, lower-pitched voice.]

No one said "yes". Not one person. Which gave me 21 reactions to the last question:

"So why didn't you answer first that you'd change yourself?" [Angry stares, open mouths, aggressive stances, harsh responses of the "None of your business", "Who the hell are you?" and "Go to hell!" variety; only one person smiling and saying she didn't think of it and telling Me I was being impertinent.]

We blame the world when all We can control--really control--is Ourselves.

The Jenius opts to avoid any further sermonizing here in favor of a final question: Did you answer the first question with "Me"?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

09 March 2006

Quoting "Entrepreneurial Proverbs"

From the O'Reilly Radar comes this absolutely killer post by Marc Hedlund on becoming an entrepreneur. Aimed at techies, it has wisdom galore. For the full commentary, check out the original post, as The Jenius has edited some of it.

It's good to be king -- being an entrepreneur is the best job I've had. Every day your job is new and different; you constantly have to push yourself in new directions...

Losing sucks -- shutting down a company is unbelievably difficult... Most entrepreneurs fail several times before succeeding, too, so losing is both terrible and nearly inevitable. Fight as hard as you can against it.

Building to flip is building to flop... Plan as many paths to success as possible for your company, and always have a Plan B when acquisition (or whatever path you choose first) doesn't work.

Prudence becomes procrastination -- it's great to research your market and talk to potential buyers about your ideas. It's terrible to let an excess of this become a impediment to getting started. Too much prudence edges away from research and into procrastination.

Momentum builds on itself -- just start. Do whatever you can... Once you start moving, you will find that people start to carry you along.

Jump when you are more excited than afraid -- lack of fear is irrational, and too much fear is debilitating. Make the jump into your business when you have considered the fear, and come out more excited than afraid.

The Idea
Pay attention to the idea that won't leave you alone...

If you keep your secrets from the market, the market will keep its secrets from you... To quote Howard Aiken: "Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats."

Immediate yes is immediate no -- does everyone immediately tell you your idea is great? Run away from it. If the idea is that obvious, the market will be filled with competitors, and you'll find yourself scrambling...

Build what you know -- this is the most basic advice of idea generation: scratch an itch you have yourself...

Give people what they need, not what they say they need...

Your ideas will get better the more you know about business -- engineers hate to hear this, but you can generalize up quite far from here: the more you know about everything, the better all of your ideas will get!...

Three is fine; two, divine -- having too many co-founders makes decisions hard to reach; if you're on your own, you have to bear all of the stress and worry about the success of the company. In my judgment, three people can do well together, but having two founders is best.

Work only with people you like and believe in... Working with people you like is so much more fun, and often more productive, than fighting against someone who may be smart and talented but just isn't a great fit for you.

Work with people who like and believe in you, just naturally... Find the people that naturally want to work with you, and nudge them into the roles where you need them. You'll have more fun and get more done.

Great things are made by people who share a passion, not by those who have been talked into one...

Cool ideas are useless without great needs -- this is the classic engineers' entrepreneurial mistake... Better to start with the need, and then see how what you know can produce a better answer to that need. (Marketers tend to have the opposite problem: real, pressing needs with completely unworkable solutions.)

Build the simplest thing possible... Make the simplest possible product that makes a significant dent in that need, and you'll do far better than you would addressing two or three needs at once. Simplicity leads to clarity in everything you do.

Solve problems, not potential problems -- you can waste a lot of money implementing solutions for problems you don't have yet, and may never have. Work on the biggest, most pressing problems today, and put aside everything else.

Test everything with real people...

Start with nothing, and have nothing for as long as possible -- small budgets give big focus...

The best investor pitches are plainspoken and entertaining (not in that order)...

Never let on that you're keeping a secret -- telling an investor "I don't want to talk about that" is terrible. It's the natural converse of being plainspoken... Respond to the idea behind the question, without giving away more than you feel comfortable discussing. Learn to steer the conversation in the way you want it to go. And then give up more information as you become more comfortable with the potential investor.

No means maybe and yes means maybe -- you should never take a "no" from someone you want to work with... Conversely, though, the only money in the bank is actual money actually in the bank...

For investors, the product is nothing... The product matters far less to most investors than the reactions of customers, the properties of the market, and the credibility of the team. Obsess about the product on your own time; present your business in all of its parts.

The best way to get investment is not to need it. -- if you have a running business with real customers and you're paying all your bills, you are much more likely to get a funding round than if you need the round in order to survive or succeed. The pitch that goes, "We could accelerate our growth with more money" is much more compelling than, "I need your money or our doors will close."

Do yourself a big favor: go read the whole thing now.

The Jenius Has Quoted.

08 March 2006

Nalmefene for Puerto Rico

Imagine taking a pill that makes you stop shopping...reduces the urge to gamble...and can even stop alcoholism.

Forget imagining: it's called nalmefene and it's being tested as We speak (write, read, whatever...)

Already proven to be effective on 6 out of 10 gamblers, reducing their addictive high of losing (compulsive gamblers do so to lose), nalmefene targets the pleasure centers of the brain and thus can conceivably reduce the urge to splurge (also known as "retail therapy") and even take the edge off the need for alcohol.

Okay, let Me be blunt: Even if Our water is barely above rank sewage, We should be pouring nalmefene in it like it was fluoride. It should be dropped in every cola, every cup of coffee and every freaking bottle of water from now until 2012.

Puerto Rico has long had a problem with alcohol consumption. For years, We were the only non-Communist country ranked in the Top 10 in alcohol consumption. The amount of damage, death and destruction that happens around alcohol in Puerto Rico is frightening to behold. So getting that under control is a good thing.

Gambling in Puerto Rico is also ridiculously high. According to Hacienda (the local Treasury department), the average Puerto Rican spends $306 a year on games of chance, from the state-sponsored lottery and Loto to casinos, horse racing and cockfights. And this doesn't include the monies spent on illegal gambling, mostly in the form of bolita. The "official" number is almost $1.2 billion dollars a year. Please note that the number is per capita and that We must then subtract the children and teenagers who legally don't gamble (about 1.08 million of 3.85 million). Without them, the average is over $420, or about 2 weeks' salary for the average worker. Getting this under control is a good thing.

And then there's shopping, conspicuous consumption, keeping up with the Jimenezes, nothing down and payments that aren't starting this week with interest rates in the 20s, a number twice the collective IQ of The Fools and their dogs. A nation of compulsive buyers that exhibits the two related characteristics of anxiety disorders and low self-esteem. (Yes, The Jenius is saying We, as a nation, have low self-esteem.) A nation that doesn't save, doesn't reduce its spending to prepare for the future and is thus as agonizingly dependent as a parasite on some external flow. (Yes, The Jenius said parasite.) No wonder compulsive buyers suffer anxiety and don't like themselves.

Nalmefene is the solution. Forget trial runs in Great Britain. Crank up the nalmefene mill to 11 and fill warehouses with the stuff. Transport it here. Better yet, make it here: that's what Our pharmaceutical industry is here for and start handing it out like food stamps, WIC checks and political favors. (Okay, maybe not like that last one: We could run out of the damn pills in 72 hours.) Don't even tell Us it's being done: just do it.

Watch Us grind to a halt. Not lightly, like sandpaper on wood, but heavily, like granite boulders dragged over brickyards. Living embodiments of the question "Now what?" Less alcohol, less lottery-based dreaming, less shopping to salve a yawning, endless need.

Less spending. More money in hand. Less money for the government. (A flaw in My otherwise brilliant argument, for The Fools may be stupid, but they are oh-so-sensitive to a reduction of their life's blood.) A chance to look at reality and see it for what it is. No spirits-based softening of the brain to make it through another crappy day. No pursuit of mathematically improbable riches that fuels only The Fools' lust. No quick trips to the mall for a crack high at cocaine prices.

Force-feed nalmefene to Us...for We keep choosing to be enslaved by Our own ids. Make it the magic bullet that will ultimately liberate Us, for We've always had the most magical of bullets--choice--but it seems We pawned it for a lottery ticket and a shot of booze.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

07 March 2006

One Hour of Productivity

Been dragging lately. Not as focused, energetic or capable as The Jenius usually is. Found a hack--a technique--that lets Me get at least one good hour of work a day.

You scoff. So let Me ask you: can you honestly say you do at least one good hour of work every day? The fact is, if you do, you're quite productive. According to time-motion and effectiveness studies dating back to the 1970s, the average person actually puts in about 40 minutes of high-production work a day. The rest of the day's production comes from snatching bits and pieces of time to coalesce disparate efforts into a whole.

One more thing: the advent of the computer/Internet age has decreased high-production time by about 6 minutes (on average). The major culprits: e-mail and instant messaging.

What is "high-production time"? It is a block of time in which a person can substantially advance or complete a task that has high growth value for future tasks or projects. In other words, it is about working well on high-value items. So the first step towards high productivity is identifying those high-value items, then buckling down to do them.

And yes, "buckling down" implies an effort of will, often called discipline. Get over it.

The hack comes from the ever-fascinating 43Folders and it's called (10+2)*5. It's fairly simple:

1) Get a timer you can set to 10 minutes and less. If you want to use one on your computer, you can download a free timer such as MB-Timer. Don't skip this step: the timer is essential to making this hack work well. (Pun intended.)

2) Make a list of 5 tasks you can work on for 10 minutes at a time. Not complete: work on. You want to focus on 5 tasks you need to be working on right now.

3) Set the timer for 10 minutes...and start. Work straight through for 10 minutes. Forget doing anything else, because it's only going to last 10 minutes. Work!

4) When the timer goes off, stop. If you finished the task before the 10 minutes were up, congratulations! Then stop anyway. Set the timer for a 2 minute break and take a break. Go!

5) After the 2 minute break, start the timer for the next 10 minute task dash. Stop when the time or task is up. Repeat. (Do not lather, do not rinse.)

6) Do this until you've done the 5 tasks you listed. By following the "10 + 2" pattern, you assure yourself of focusing long enough to get some strong work done, while leaving yourself some flexibility to avoid getting tired. You also reward yourself, a key component to maintaining focus.

7) After (10+2)*5, you have completed 5 work-rest cycles in one hour on work you deemed to be of high value. That's high-productivity time. Of course, you could find yourself so energized by just getting started on something that you run right through the breaks and get that nasty project done in a short while. Excellent! That's what hacks are for: to get you from point A to point B in an easier way.

As 43Folders points out, you might want to change the numbers to (15+5)*3, (20+10)*4 or any other comfortable combination. The important thing is you list high-priority items, you give yourself the time to work and rest and then you do it.

Schedule two (10+2)*5s a day and you will quickly surpass almost everyone else around you in terms of productivity. Think about what that means to your life's goals.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

06 March 2006

Working with Smart Women

Here, quoted exactly as it was asked, is a question from one of My colleagues: "You read these marketing-to-women blogs and now you're reading some book about finances for women. Aren't you sure about yourself?"

For the sake of keeping this post short, I'll assume the question was asked partially in jest. But My colleague had a point: why am I doing these tasks?

At the practical level, as The Jenius has pointed out before, women are in the majority, and as a consultant, business developer and writer for mass audiences ("mass" being defined as "more than 10 readers"...) women have a profound influence on the kind and type of work I do.

At the emotional level, I simply enjoy working more with women than with men. Although I have several highly-esteemed male colleagues, My fastest and deepest business connections are still with women. It isn't a case of one gender being better than another, it's simply a case of their being different and feeling more comfortable with one style than with another.

But at a unified level, the question forced Me to think about more than just "bottom line" and "comfort level". And the answer is: The Jenius wants to make the biggest difference possible. More on that in a moment.

My personality is not given to doing detail work, dealing with minutiae and the nitty-gritty. It may hamper My ultimate level of success, but so be it; there are plenty of "micromanagers" who also fail to achieve success because they focus too much on the little things. My style tends to be one of launching flights of fancy and making them happen along the way, a description that I'm sure causes most women to twist their lips into a smirk. Or a snarl.

For in that sense, My mind is eminently masculine, or at least, more "guy" than "gal". The reason I like working with women is that they often balance this "imagination unchecked" tendency with their own, eminently practical side. Where I am more "gal" than "guy" is that I actively seek this input and make use of it, rather than just going ahead in solo flight, or asking for input only to ignore it because it didn't have testicles attached to it.

And to accomplish this, I can't have a "winning at all cost" mentality, which one would expect from a guy who says His epitaph should be "He HATED to lose." By recognizing weaknesses I have and looking to offset them with the strengths of others, compatible to Me, I can increase the probability of My ultimate success.

In addition, by working with and targeting women as part of my work and its goals, I can then be assured of reaching the largest possible group. Essentially, I work for the largest possible market in ways that boost My strengths and all-around enjoyment of that work. When you like what you do and work with good people, your impact is certainly going to be large.

And The Jenius wants it to be as large as possible.

So I will continue to read marketing-to-women blogs, books about finances for women, or about business issues from a woman's perspective and engaging in conversations and brainstorming sessions with women. Nothing against men, for I will continue to work with quite a few of them, but The Jenius is aiming for the majority.

We all will, eventually.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

03 March 2006

Overcoming Causes of Debt

From Bankrate.com, The Top 10 Causes of Debt, an article written by Steve Bucci:

1. Reduced income/same expenses.

2. Divorce.

3. Poor money management.

4. Underemployment.

5. Gambling.

6. Medical expenses.

7. Saving too little or not at all.

8. No money communication skills.

9. Banking on a windfall.

10. Financial illiteracy.

Of these 10 causes, only 2 can be considered to be "accidental": medical expenses and divorce, though you certainly play a major role in the latter. Every other cause, from saving too little to gambling to sheer lack of knowledge is within your control to overcome.

Now The Jenius finds that a liberating thought, but is wise (cynical) enough to appreciate that to most people, that control--that responsibility--is sickening. For those people, it is better to blame "luck", "fate", "the boss", "my parents" or any other number of targets than to sit down and grasp the simple inescapable reality that how you deal with money and its potential is entirely in your own hands.

You can learn about money management, financial planning and how to ask the right questions about money matters. You can avoid gambling and waiting for the lottery lightning bolt to fry your ass(ets). You can control your expenses, your work-income relationship and create savings. You can, if the situation arises, deal with divorce so that its financial impact (and there is always a financial impact) is lessened, without cheating the other party. And if medical expenses come your way, you can be ready and receive the added benefit of getting the best care money can buy.

Every day that passes without a reality-based focus on your money and the knowledge of what it can and not do for you is a day you lose money. Literally. Rather than owing to others, you owe it to yourself to become your personal money expert.

Where to start? Try Bucci's article and just eliminate any and all the causes of debt you currently engage in. You don't have to become an expert overnight: you simply have to choose to become one from this moment on.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

02 March 2006

Money Quotes

"Economy is the science of avoiding unnecessary expenditure, or the art of managing our property with moderation." --- Seneca (40 A.D.)

"Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship." --- Benjamin Franklin (1758)

"Do not accustom yourself to consider debt only as an inconvenience. You will find it a calamity." --- Samuel Johnson (1758. Pretty good year for wise financial advice.)

"Never spend your money before you have it." --- Thomas Jefferson (1813)

"Almost every man knows how to earn money, but not one in a million knows how to spend it." --- Henry David Thoreau (1854)

"You're worth what you saved, not the millions you made." --- John Boyle O'Reilly (1878)

"Thrift is the great fortune-maker. It draws the line between the savage and the civilized man." --- Andrew Carnegie (1900)

"I do want to get rich, but I don't want to do what there is to do to get rich." --- Gertrude Stein (1937)

"Remember when people worried about how much it took to buy something, instead of how long?" --- Earl Wilson (1962)

"The act of buying and consuming has become a compulsive, irrational aim, because it is an end in itself, with little relation in the use or pleasure in the things bought and consumed." --- Erich Fromm (1965)

"Credit buying is much like being drunk. The buzz happens immediately, and it gives you a lift... The hangover comes the day after." --- Dr. Joyce Brothers (1970)

"If money is your hope for independence, you will never have it. The only real security a man can have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience and ability." --- Henry Ford (1926)

The Jenius Has Quoted.

01 March 2006

Statehood: Our Illusion of Choice

My recent koan-like posting ("What is the power of choice?") fostered an interesting exchange with Aníbal Freytes, a.k.a. The Information Soldier. At one point he asked Me "Isn't choice an illusion?" My response was (in part): "Choice can be an illusion, in the same way that some ideas are concrete and tangible and others are mere dreams. What often happens is that we confuse reality with illusion..."

It struck Me as odd that I wrote "...confuse reality with illusion," rather than "illusion with reality". Could be mere semantics, or as Carol used to say "Six of one or a half-dozen of the other."

In any case, confusing reality with illusion is exactly what I meant and the clearest example We have here on Our Island of Enchantment is called "statehood".

Statehood exists. If you want to go beyond the 50 in the U.S., check out Mexico. States exist, they are real and they were often created by choice. Statehood for Puerto Rico is not real and will never be real because it isn't Our choice that matters, but theirs--the "Americans"--and to them, the option of statehood for Puerto Rico is nothing but an illusion. It simply is not--cannot--be real.

It's been previously argued here that the U.S. simply doesn't want Us. Leaving that aside, on what argument could a petition for Puerto Rican statehood be based?

1) Merit, the idea that somehow We "earned" it. Uh-huh. We could argue that the U.S. took Us as war booty and exploited Us, so We "deserve" statehood. It could be argued and it often is. But The Jenius bets that a hefty percentage of the so-called Third World countries would take being "exploited" as We have. If the merit is money-based (an always slippery notion), We have the highest income per capita in Latin America and the highest level of consumer good purchases.

Forget that.

If it's based on services rendered (the idea that the U.S. took advantage of Our ignorance), We have the highest level of college and post-graduates in Latin America, the lowest percentage of poverty-level citizens in Latin America and the broadest industrial base (all directly or indirectly achieved by U.S. investment).

Forget that.

If it's based on a combination of the two--commercial exploitation--yes, Puerto Rico is the 4th-largest buyer of U.S. goods, for though it is small in population, it is a captive client. But look around you, My Fellow Puerto Ricans: We're buying almost all this stuff because We want to, not because We have to. (Argue all you want: it boils down to that simple indisputable fact.) I can almost hear some pot-bellied Senator from a Southern state listenin' to this facetious merit argument and sayin': "Well, lookin' aroun', seems to me you came out ahead in this here deal!" So let's forget that one, too. (And anyway, let's not forget that Spain wasn't exactly Mother Teresa-like during its 390+ years of basically ignoring Puerto Rico.)

2) Blood, as in We "paid" for statehood by fighting in U.S. wars. This is a particularly insidious piece of demagoguery, for it cruelly juxtaposes the pain of Our losses with an irrational and unrelated reward. Liberty is not a gift one can ignore: it has to be defended in order to keep it. As citizens with liberties few in the world enjoy, fighting in U.S. wars was simply part of Our compact with them. We are free to disagree with fighting in those wars, We can choose to be conscientious objectors (what We should be doing in Iraq right now), but We preserve the liberties We have by defending them in times of need. (Even if they are fabricated from whole cloth by a subnormal puppet of special interests.) Statehood does not proceed from that because We have enjoyed and do enjoy the rare privileges of civil liberties, and fighting in wars has nothing to do with statehood...unless We fought a war specifically for that purpose. As far as The Jenius knows, that would take a specific agreement that has never existed.

3) That We fulfill some geopolitical or socioeconomic "need". The original 48 States were simply filling in a landmass; there could have been 74 or 11, so long as the right area was covered between Canada and Mexico. Alaska and Hawaii had military and economic value for the U.S., exploited at the time and then consolidated after World War II. What value does Puerto Rico have? Military? Nuh-uh. Modern warfare doesn't require "local toeholds" anymore: you can make them with technology, if they are needed at all. Geopolitical, as in influencing a region or making some form of policy statement? The Caribbean is not exactly a hotbed of ideogical struggle, the Cold War is over and Puerto Rico (thanks in large part to its 500+ years of colonialism) is not even a major regional player. Economic? Nearly every State has been an opportunity bonanza, but that doesn't apply to Us anymore: Our greatest growth has already happened and it will never be exceeded under the current status and would cost the U.S. too much under statehood. You know who would fit the three criteria and thus would be admitted as the 51st State in months, if they "choose" to: Cuba. On all fronts--military, geopolitical and economic--it would serve U.S. interests to the proverbial T. Mark My words: it would only take a year from Castro's death if the Cubans chose to try.

So what's left? "We want it!"? Yeah, right. The Southern pork-bellied Senator would just lean back and smile waspishly: "Well, son, there's plenty of people out there that want things they ain't gonna get. Isn't that right?"

Yeah, that's right. Choice as an illusion, whether it's a toy too expensive for the family's Christmas budget or statehood. Oh, sure, there's always the choice of blowing the budget for the toy, but is there a chance of statehood for Puerto Rico? As the large-bellied Southern Senator would say: "That dog don't hunt." And if We try anyway, when the negative response comes back, Our massive Dixie-based 1% of the Senate, while sipping Jack Daniel's in some smoky room somewhere, will grunt in satisfaction and choose to rumble: "That'll break them from suckin' eggs."

Would that We don't give him that choice.

The Jenius Has Spoken.