31 December 2006

Smiling Anew At The Storm

My favorite picture of Me was taken several years ago on a beach in Rincón, oft-called "The Surf Capital." In the picture, I'm sitting in the sand gazing skyward, wearing one of My many casual hats. Above Me is an immense mass of clouds, purple-gray and menacing as that of a powerful storm. As the picture was taken from a moderate distance, I appear somewhat small, almost engulfed under the mass of angry clouds. And yet, as I sit bathed in sunlight, I have a smile on My face, almost gleeful, as if the fun were just beginning.

The picture, now a calendar, is stuck on My refrigerator door. In an unguarded moment, the person who took the picture captured something about Me that I had sensed but never really knew: I like seeing chaos around Me. I thrive on the sense of risks and "Uh-oh, now what?" that (understandably) drives most people nuts. It's why I live taking on a wide range of projects, pursuing a variety of interests and essentially learning as much as I can.

And yet, there are a couple of points I must ponder. One is that I am not totally free-floating and adrenaline-addicted. There's a part of Me that seeks to create a Tranquility Base, even if it doesn't often see the light of day. And second, as I face the chaos and impending storm We face as a nation, My characteristic smile has vanished.

Don't take My word for it: Look at The Jenius back in early to mid-2005 and compare Him to the One appearing in late 2006. The cheery smile in the face of chaos, the smile that says "This will be fun!" because Life without challenges is for corpses (and sadly, most of Us want desperately to be corpses) seems to have devolved into first a tolerant smile, then a sardonic one and has now ended up a wolfish grimace.

That's not growth, nor is it fun. What I sense is that at a time when more of My best tools are needed to make Our Future a brighter reality, one of My finest--optimism--is blunted. And if you, fellow Puerto Rican, wonder how egotistical I am to think that Puerto Rico needs Me, know this: It needs you, too. I at least recognize and accept that fact.

Will this pessimistic feeling last? No. The picture I treasure captured a fundamental facet of Me, one I know will re-emerge soon. But the basic change from "C'mon, We can do it!" to "What the hell is wrong with you people?" is an ugly, unworthy and unneeded downward slide that benefits no one.

I could have written about ex-governors who claim a "right" to police escorts though their safety is best-insured by the sheer indifference We feel to their being alive or dead. I could have written about the worthless spectacle of a special legislative session that produced nothing except additional pocket money for Fools. I could have written about hundreds of things, all neatly-defined in My files, that attempt to shed another ray of light (or vat of scorn) on a topic that The Jenius is interested in. I could have, but I chose not to, for in the end, without the cheerful smile to face the dark clouds, The Jenius simply...doesn't exist.

This is My final post.

I wrote that before Christmas with the intention of posting it today, having decided to close this chapter of The Jenius and move on.

And yet...

As 2006 comes to a close and 2007 looms as a challenge, the feeling I had that The Jenius was no longer needed has faded as My response to a very sad year for Me and My Island has also faded. It isn't time to seek a new playground: It's time to crank up the energy level on this one.

Consider the cranking already begun...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

30 December 2006

Me As A Global Voice

If you click over to the this page in the Global Voices line-up, you will find The Jenius represented with 7 sidebar postings, of 20 all told.

That's right: At the moment, I am 35% of the Caribbean's voice in that corner of Global Voices blogosphere.

Impressive, huh? A Puerto Rican, from an island not really deemed to be "Caribbean" except in location, has emerged as a leading voice within that geographical region. Who'da thunk it?

Do I deserve credit for this? Of course I do. I write because I want to, feel a need to and do it well enough to attract attention. But not all the credit is mine. Part of it goes to Ms. Georgia Popplewell and Ms. Rebecca MacKinnon, who have chosen the posts. I'm sure they could have chosen many others, so I thank them for selecting Mine.

Is this really important? It is to Me, though it isn't one of My Life's greatest achievements. I am proud of this as I am proud of doing well in other endeavors, and I hope to continue doing well. But that doesn't mean I'll write to get selected: I've never done that. I'll write because I want to, and if My words are still deemed representative enough of the blogworld's emerging voice, then I'll continue to thank those who chose Me and bask in the warm glow feeling that My tiny pebbles are making ripples.

For that's what's important here: making a difference. In the larger scheme, My posts are the gravitational equivalent of a handful of sawdust...but they are doing something. It's more than what most of Us can say and yet still less than what many of Us do every day. In the end, I can point to that page and say: I'm doing My part.

And I look to do more.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

29 December 2006

Stupid Rosselló (Not) On Trial

Lady Justice is blind. In this case, We have a lady judge who's blind and incompetent to boot.

Stupid Rosselló--first name Pedro, second name Stupid--is facing charges of fraud for filing false claims in order to up his government pension to the maximum allowed by law. Despite the fact that key people involved in the case, such as the former director of the Mental Health agency, have already been found guilty in matters related to this pension malfeasance, judge Ada "Scarecrow" López didn't see reasonable cause for a trial.

Why "Scarecrow"? Think The Wizard of Oz...

Here are the facts so you can decide:

1) Within 60 days of becoming governor, Stupid Rosselló requested an analysis of his retirement benefits. Yeah, that's what leaders should do from the get-go: Strap that parachute to their asses!

2) Over the next several years, on eight separate occasions, Stupid Rosselló was told--in writing--that he did not qualify for a maximum pension because he would not have served for enough time in government work. Not one, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7, but EIGHT times Stupid Rosselló was told "Uh-uh, dingbat." My conclusion: Stupid Pedro doesn't know how to read.

3) Shortly before leaving office in 2001, Stupid Rosselló filed papers claiming he had served summer terms between 1962 and 1964 at the Psychiatric Hospital, giving him enough time-in-service to qualify for a maximum pension. The former Mental Health agency director signed off on this--and was found guilty for it--because Stupid Rosselló was a Harvard student and a tennis player in Jamaica during those years' summer months. The proof was actually provided by Stupid Rosselló as far back as 1991, when he was a candidate and he offered his resumé to the press.

So let's add this up to give Ms. Judge(ment)--oh what a clever pun!!-- some MUCH needed help:

--Stupid Rosselló didn't serve enough time to qualify for a maxed-out pension. Proof: Stupid Rosselló himself stated this long before becoming governor.

--The government itself told Stupid Rosselló he didn't qualify EIGHT times, lady...eight FREAKING times. Do you think... he got the message? Do you think... the situation was still muddled in Stupid Rosselló's pointy head after all that? (You can believe that if you truly believe Stupid Rosselló IS stupid, instead of using that as his "defense.")

-- DESPITE the repeated "nyets" Stupid Rosselló filed papers that LIED--LIED you pathetic excuse for a judge--about his activities that were already--already, you pathetic excuse for a judge--a matter of public record.

Now the issue is clear: A person acts illegally to gain the unearned. Is that enough to go to trial with? I'm no judge--ranking as I do so much higher on the evolutionary scale--but money gained through lying is something the law frowns upon, don't it? Especially when it involves elected officials and public funds, right? And that means--correct Me if you can, lady no-judge--that said person should be put on trial because the evidence--in large part supplied by the alleged committer of fraud himself--is heavily weighed against him.

Unless, of course, maybe perhaps, that person has some sort of--say, tie--to you, oh lady judge of the vapid cranium. Does Stupid Rosselló have some link to you, some connection in which he may have, say, "elevated" you to some piece of furniture, like a...bench? But that doesn't mean a thing, don't it?

You know the answer to that one, don't you, lady no-judge? At least you know the answer to something.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

27 December 2006

Signs of Stupidity

Some 30 minutes from My house in Cabo Rojo, over on the north side of Mayagüez where State Road #2 makes a beeline to My birthplace of Aguadilla, there's a blue-faced official sign that reads "Tsunami Zone Limit."

For those of you not aware of Our geography, Puerto Rico is an island of roughly 100 east-west miles by 36 north-south miles, and the area I just mentioned lies along the western coast. The "Tsunami Zone" sign sits about 2.5 miles from the ocean. And why it's there is anybody's freaking guess.

For one, there doesn't seem to be any other sign like it anywhere else in Puerto Rico. It's not like We have only one coast, right?

For another, the sign is not some cheap knockoff: this is a government sign, with the requisite bolts and cement base and probably cost more than the average quarterly salary of a mid-level manager to make and install.

In third place, what pea-brained dipstick figured out that the sign actually marks any reasonable limit for a tsunami? My first thought was that now that I know where the freaking danger zone ends, when the warning is issued, I can drive like mad to that sign, park east of it and lay out a picnic lunch to watch Nature's Salty Revenge from a front-row seat. Might get My shoes wet, but--hey!--I'll be safe!

And lastly, just what the hell's the point of putting up a sign that means nothing? Unless it's some sort of continuing trend like putting up signs that proclaim "Your Tollbooth Monies At Work" where no such progress is evident, or taking out ads that state that "The sales tax is for everyone's benefit" or to see posters that display a candidate's smiling face and a variaton of "X will work/is working for you!"


Maybe the sign isn't so stupid after all, given how the average sign's smarts are so disgustingly low anyway...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

25 December 2006

Do You See What I See?

Do you?

Do you see a Puerto Rico that barrels headlong into inanity, rocketing like a diving missile towards becoming Ultimately Irrelevant in the 21st century?

Do you see Our People chasing the latest gewgaw, the instant percentage discount, the "No Payments Now" trap, as if the their very Lives depended on having "the best and newest" at the expense--pun intended--of "The Future and Freedom"?

Do you see We are anchored to failure by a generation of political slimebags who need to acquire brains and souls before they could even aspire to become mere hacks?

Do you see Our Children relegated en masse to becoming serfs, indentured peons to the well-prepared, because Our schools lack the vision, drive, intelligence and ethics needed to develop Leaders?

Do you see that half of Our adults--half--either live on welfare or choose not to work?

Do you see that on this over-regulated Island every new license bill, every new tax wrinkle, every new "fast-tracking permit law" does nothing but create more obstacles for business and economic growth?

Do you see that Our media has the brains of a chatty gonad, the attention span of a soap bubble in a cement mixer and the integrity of moldy Swiss cheese?

Do you see that many of Us--though far fewer than the self-proclaimed--literally bleed trying to make Puerto Rico not what it could be, but what it should be, what it always should have been?

Do you see what I see?

Maybe the more important question is: Do you care?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

22 December 2006


Note: Another Jenius thanks to Georgia Popplewell for picking up My posts titled "Critical Mass" and "Crave(n)"

Found this quote in a United Nations document on economic development:

There are two responses for a growing informal business that faces a costly regulatory environment, (1) to grow within the informal sector or (2) to formalize and comply with the costs of regulation. Growing within the informal sector can be inefficient, and lead to a range of problems from limited access to finance to lack of credibility in the market. Complying with the costs of regulation can be very expensive, particularly where there are hidden costs that have to be paid, and officials that make use of their position of authority for personal gain.

In other words, slap a sales tax on local businesses and watch them either "grow" within the informal sector (go even further underground) or gag on swallowing higher costs, including those "hidden costs of officials that make use of their position of authority for personal gain."

In a plain word: bribes.

That both "undergrounding" and bribing will occur is without a doubt. That they will reinforce each other and create a downward spiral that hides more money is again without a doubt. What is left in doubt is how much this is going to wreck Our already-wretched economy.

Does it have to be this way? Aren't there other alternatives, less morose? Of course there are. But are these other alternatives truly possible, truly viable as realities on Our Island?

Just barely. Many businesses will try to comply, many will succeed. It will be interesting to see how many businesses suddenly "disappear," how much money seems to "dissipate" and how much power shifts from traditional hotspots to the newer denizens of sales tax offices.

You think that the shift in power can't be measured? Here's a hint: Pulsing. If various regions in Our cities and towns begin growing in spurts (on a graph, they will look like the spikes of a heartbeat), then you'll know the power shift has occurred, because the "bunching" together of supposedly-different businesses isn't a group's statistical result, it is an individual's stastical result. It could be one person, one office or one department, but it will be there and it will be conclusive.

The only thing is that by the time that graph appears, it will be too late to salvage the economic mess flowing through Our arteries like leukemia. Deregulate or decay. Procedural simplicity or pea-brained suicide. The choices are clear...but We ain't.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

21 December 2006

The Name Tag Guy


That's how I met Scott Ginsberg, "The Name Tag Guy."

I guess I'd better explain.

In January, 2006, I was at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) "Boot Camp" event, at the Coronado Resort, Disney-Orlando. Scott was one of the featured speakers of the first morning, and with the eagerness of getting a good start at a major event, I was intrigued to hear him.

From the moment Scott started, it was clear he was an excellent speaker. His easy style and engaging charm seemed effortless, which to a veteran speaker denotes hours of preparation and focus. Scott began speaking about creating awareness of who you are, of literally "owning" a word, so that if anyone googled that word, you'd appear on that first page of results.

He asked the audience what word they owned and walked forward to hear the answers. I raised My hand, but as I was seated near the middle of the 400+ member audience, it would take some time before he reached Me. Some 10 feet in front of Me was a dynamic lady, Yvonne DiVita, who when Scott asked her what word she owned, replied "Dickless."

My hand shot down. (No, not for that reason.)

Scott did a 3-second pause and with glorious wit said "Moving on!"

The room erupted in laughter. Sensitive to nuances, I was sure "jenius" would fall far short of "dickless" on the impact meter, so I let someone else offer their word (whatever it was) and Scott continued his presentation.

He concluded later to thunderous applause and for the rest of the 3-day event, he was deservedly on everyone's lips. I went up to talk to Scott after he finished and We met. (He noted I was the only person in the audience wearing a hat.) Since then, I've followed his ascent into the world of public speaking and bookwriting with joy and admiration. Scott was even kind enough to send Me an advance copy of his latest book "How To Be That Guy," so much as to even quote Me on how good the book is.

What makes Scott interesting is his clear focus on being approachable, a true advantage in the "distant" sociability typical of most of the U.S. What I'd like to have Scott do is come and speak in Puerto Rico where approachablility is a given and effectiveness--making the most of approachability--is not so automatic. I hope it happens soon.

Until then, go visit Scott's website. Subscribe to his e-zine, read his blog and listent to his podcasts (one of which replays the incident I mention here.) Life is too short to avoid making as many friends as possible and Scott can show you how to get the most out of being dickless.

Oops, I meant approachable. Funny how My hat fell in front of My eyes at that moment...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

20 December 2006


Let's rap about education...or what masquerades as such here on Our Island.

The current "leader" of the education department has decided to penalize directors and teachers who basically "wrapped up" early in December, thus gaining a few extra days of Christmas vacation, by docking those days from their alloted vacation time. My first choice would be to fire these slackers, but that's not allowed, you see. Something about protecting animals or some such nonsense...

As much as I agree with the intent, I can't leave almost-well-enough alone: Where was this same "tough" stance back in May when the government shut down for no reason except politics? Wouldn't--shouldn't--that month's semester-ending idiocy warrant as strong a stance as this month's semester's-ending idiocy?

What say you, you in the back with the slack-jawed look of a Fool? That the secretary couldn't do anything about that because his boss--the jellyfish governor--ordered the closing? Sit down, you gibbering ape. That's exactly why the secretary should have said to the jellyfish: No. Close what you want, but Our schools stay open.

By not opposing the move, despite the fact that only three weeks remained in the school schedule, despite the fact that the teachers would lose no money, despite the fact that the secretary described himself as "educator first, second and third" and vowed to "never be a politician", despite the fact that both Namby-Pamby secretary and Wishy-Washy governor had called education "the top priority of this administration," despite all this and the fact that shutting down the government was ABSOLUTELY unnecessary, despite all this, Namby-Pamby tucked his tongue beneath his clownish bow tie and slunk away.

Now he emerges to slap the wrists of the mentally-unfit who run some of Our schools. Tough on bad employees, a suck-up to the boss. Now that's leadership.

Tack onto this nauseating scenario the report released this week that We have an "excess" of some 1,000 teachers, apparently because We have 20,000 fewer students than We used to. However, (hold on, this is good) the teachers allege that this "excess" is nonexistent because "The students who don't attend class are not counted."

Once the top of My head whizzed back to Earth, I thought the following:

--Absent students do count...when it's convenient.

--We're "only" missing 20,000 students?

--No one really knows how many students We are missing, but the number is much, much higher than 20,000.

--Is this the best argument teachers can come up with?

--I called teachers lazy and stupid. I was complimentary.

The same group of slackers who run off and leave their students hanging now "run" back to these abandoned souls in order to justify their total number of employed. No, We don't have an excess of teachers: We have a shortage of about 40,000. That leaves about 1,500 that are worth retaining and the rest can grab an early vacation someplace far away from here.

And take "Namby-Pamby clowny bow tie" with you.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

18 December 2006

Critical Mass

You are almost certainly familiar with the concept of critical mass, one of those "coined by Science" terms that creep into everyday use. Critical mass refers to the moment where enough material is aggregated to initiate a spontaneous reaction, first used to describe what would happen prior to a nuclear explosion.

The concept is useful in sociological terms, for any number of human activities have a pattern of slow development until an adequately-sized group is formed. Think tipping point. Think hundredth monkey. Think quorum.

Now think about this: What do We call the moment in which an active mass becomes inert because its size is no longer enough to sustain action/reaction? In science it can be called the energy threshold, but what is it called in sociological terms?

Stagnation. Social decay. De-evolution. Ennui. Anhedonia. Chaos. Defeat. Collapse.

Pick one or define your own. It all amounts to the same thing: At some point, a group--even a society--can lose enough active members and fall into an inert or disrupted state. It can happen actively, as in revolution, or passively, as in stupid leadership combined with indifference.

We are obviously far from the first and smack damn dab in the middle of the second.

And I'm not talking about the people who leave Our Island of Enchantment for the Land of Sunshine or some other sappy motto. I'm talking about dropping out, opting out, giving up on Us no matter whether you choose to stay or go.

How many of Us are left to sustain the critical mass that can try to propel progress? How close are We to dropping below critical mass? And if--when?--We do, will anybody notice?

I assume, of course, that the sub-critical mass threshold has not been passed. I assume. That in and of itself is upsetting.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

15 December 2006

Slice of Li(f)e

Brief conversation overheard in the supermarket Express Checkout lane on December 13th, 2006, at roughly 5:23 P.M. between a middle-aged gentleman wearing baggy shorts, a stained Washington Wizards T-shirt, a sweaty Harris Paints cloth cap and sneakers with no socks and a middle-aged woman wearing a fuschia blouse missing the fourth button, white shorts that bulged, sandals and hair the color a carrot isn't.

He: "I don't like the sales tax."

She: "Neither do I!"

He: "Who's idea was it? How much more do they want to take from us?"

She: "You know what bothers me? That they live it up while we have to scratch for everything. They don't know what we go through!"

He: "They're all guilty of treating us like slaves. (It) makes me think of moving to Orlando.

She: "I want to move, too. My sister lives close to Disney (World.)"

The man watches as his groceries are scanned. He pays with a PAN card, the Food and Nutrition program run with Federal funds by the local Department of Family Services. He takes out the full 25% portion of the monthly allotment he's allowed to in cash.

The woman does the same thing.

The next I see them, they are buying local "Loto" tickets. He buys $30.00 in tickets; she buys $20.00.

"Someone has to win, right?" she says to him.

He nods and pushes his cart out the door.

It dawns on Me that gambling with Uncle Sam's money is a win-win situation...

Yeah, right.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

13 December 2006


Over at El Gringoqueño, James O'Malley posted an interesting thumbnail sketch of what We--as an economy--will face unless We wise up. Here it is:

Recent changes in the tax code of Puerto Rico have caused me to rethink a long held opinion about the nature of our politicians. The Genius, [sic] over at his blog, rightly predicts that the underground economy in Puerto Rico will perfect itself as taxation wriggles into all legitimate economic transactions. Small micro companies will just take what little business they have further underground away from the grabbing hands of government, and more of them will do it better.

Medium-sized brick and mortar shops will either shoulder the burden or pass the cost on to the customer. Either way with rising prices, already pinched consumers will be forced to buy from the lowest supplier, those 800 pound gorillas with their cheap global supply chains and volume discounts. If small business owners try to compete on price their already compromised position further erodes to the point of survival mode. They are then either pushed into gray areas of the underground economy or out of business entirely.

The big global players are already earning money hand over fist, and if their position is eroded only slightly by rising consumption taxes, they have a number of options. They can negotiate tax breaks for their local hiring, get government handouts to build new facilities, low interest loans, you name it. They have the clout and the cash to get what they want, whether it be cheap goods, cheaper labor, or cheap government.

So where does that leave us?

I always thought that bad government policies through incompetence or malice had an effect to drive out entrepreneurial spirit, to foment low level corruption, and give unfair advantage to large imported global players (pharmaceutical manufactures, retailers, fast food, national chains etc). But now I’m not so sure it’s incompetence or even malice.

What if their aim is to kill off the last of the local companies for us, as a favor to pacify us and give us jobs, to give us what we want, to work for the man, and play on the weekends, to be kept, taken care of, and have no responsibilities? Maybe these politicians know something we don’t want to admit or care to face:

We want to be kept and taken care of.

We would rather work for Wal-mart than try to start our own business, and the best to which we can hope to rise, the pinnacle, the ultimate, is to be a general manager in someone else’s plant, to be validated by the higher power the foreign national, the colonial overlord.

I hope it’s just incompetence… although at this point I’d even take malice.

Please tell me I’m wrong, please Puerto Rico? Tell me it’s not what we want.

First of all, I wish I could tell Jim--one of Us by heart's choice--that We are humongously incompetent and filled with malice. But the fact is, not even Our Fools fit that description. For sadly, what best explains Our current predicament is that We are craven.

Craven in the sense of "too afraid of fallout to maintain a principled stand." Craven in the sense of being timid, of avoiding duty and thus eschewing responsibility. Craven in the sense of preferring to remain weak rather than striving to be strong. Craven because by cowering in fear, We irrationally feel safe.

If you believe craven is too strong a word for Us, look for its antonyms and see if they apply better: bold, brave, courageous, heroic, strong... Somehow, even as I yearn for a different answer, the reality hits Me like a dagger in the heart.

James, it isn't incompetence and it isn't malice. It's worse. It's irrationality governed by fear or abject fear leading to irrationality. In either case, We are locked into a miniature dungeon of despair, defeat and depression. We are easy prey, thus We are victims because We choose to be.

I need to be by Myself for a while. I'll requote Jim: Please tell Me I’m wrong, please Puerto Rico?

The Jenius Has Spoken

11 December 2006

Dallas Calling Puerto Rico

Sometimes stuff just falls into your lap...(Actually, Mine, but you get the idea.)

I noted to a friend of Mine that the Dallas Independent School District is advertising for bilingual teachers. Here's My comment:

Over the past two weeks, the Dallas Independent School District has been advertising on local cable. It offers a base salary almost double that of starting teachers here, and the thing I noticed most about the ad is that it seems "crude," i.e., not a slick polished piece. Maybe it's a budgetary constraint (go for placement and repetitions rather than production values) or a deliberate choice to avoid "glossy" oversell. Find it interesting.

My friend, a Dallasite, (that is a word) of many years, had this to say:

DISD (Dallas Independent School District) should also be (re)-advertising for an "ethics oversight" person... Seems that the one they recently hired (stellar qualifications on paper) was missing those little initials "CPA" after his name... those little initials that were present on his resumé... Yep, it appears he let those little initials lapse about 10 years ago and just sort of forgot that little detail. DISD didn't uncover that in their "due diligence" process - but the Dallas Morning News took about 15 seconds to unearth it by perusing the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy's online registry... And that was a $125k/year position... apparently it's hard to hire "good ethics" these days... and the position is definitely needed - seems that the last few DMN series have (un)covered DISD credit cards run amok (a secretary running up $220k?? at places like Pier One and Target?? lots of Ipods and gift cards??), and employees who should never have passed even a rudimentary background check (felons? child molesters?? who's checking??).

The "technology" guy was fired not too long ago- seems he was taking a lot of really nice trips on some really big boats, courtesy of some really friendly vendors... So maybe there's not too much technology left to create slick ads... But good news for teachers - "bilingual" testing is minimal (I think five questions) - not much pesky testing in Spanish... PITIFUL. (This partially explains why my child is not in a DISD school....) I know they do have a dire shortage of bilingual teachers.

Okay, as much as I lambaste the local miseducation system, it seems the sheer incompetence of so-called educators is not limited to Our Island alone. But I wonder:

--Is fraud and corruption a universal "need" in governmental and pseudo-governmental systems?

--Is an offer based largely on salary (though the ad talks about "changing the world one student at a time") ever any good?

--If Our "too lazy and too stupid" teachers go to Dallas, will they be assets or just asses?

--Can Dallas, Puerto Rico or any other educational district in the U.S. systematically rise to world-class standards without resorting to creating "artificial" school districts that "keep out the riff-raff"?

--Does the DISD have any idea what they're getting into by seeking teachers here? Not that We lack talent, but We're certainly not "American" teachers, used to "American" resources and "American" ways. Maybe that's the point, but I don't see how that can be much of an advantage.

Maybe I'm looking at this all wrong. Maybe there's more in common between Dallas and Puerto Rico than I give credit for. Maybe there's a golden thread that both sides can weave into a shining tapestry of educational excellence.

Maybe both sides will learn even more ways to shaft the taxpayers by stealing, bribing and simply not seeing what is patently obvious. Who says a lousy educational system--or two--can't produce some "positive" result?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

08 December 2006

Direction, Discipline, Excellence, Success

This won't take long:

Aníbal "The Information Solider" sent Me this in an e-mail:

Subject: Simple motivation---Right up your alley

[You can click on it to get a better idea, but read on if you're in a hurry.]

Here's My response:

So cool to know you read Lifehacker, too! It's one of My daily "Start" pages and I often find useful info. In this case, I was suprised to see this item because since last year, My cell phone has a four word "mantra" (I thought it was just a screen item until I read the Lifehacker post): Direction, Discipline, Excellence, Success.

I wrote that on a whim, to keep Myself focused on what I often tend to slide on. Whenever I see Myself not succeeding as expected (like I have been recently), I can trace the path "down" to excellence (Am I doing excellent work, of high value, to My clients?), or discipline (Am I doing enough to make consistent progress?) or direction (Do I have a goal?)

At this point, I'm screwing up in the basic level of direction, so that's where I need to make changes. Until I fix that, the rest can wait. Once that is set, I go "up" to discipline (plan my work, work my plan), strive for excellence and success almost always follows.

Okay, that's it. Break up into discussion groups and discuss.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

06 December 2006


---Kudos to Georgia Popplewell on Caribbean Free Radio's nomination for a 2006 Weblog of the Year Award in the category of Best Latino, Caribbean or South American blog. Go vote for Georgia!

Thought experiment: Imagine that alien beings--Let's call them "Americans"--say that by 2018, Puerto Rico has to stand alone as its own government. Autonomous. Non-colonial. In essence, to take its place on the world stage as an independent nation.

How would We do it?

Forget any other question and focus solely on this one: How would We do it?

The simple answer is: We'd focus outward, to a global worldview. A deadline such as this one would give Us no other viable option for progress except to cast away Our overwhelming obsession with Our own belly-button and notice that there's a whole world out there waiting for Us.

Looking outward would radically and fundamentally change Our basic "structural" components: economy and education.

--Economy: We would have to discard Our idiotic "zero-sum game" mentality (everything viewed as win/lose with finite resources) for a new paradigm of "a bigger pie for all." Instead of scrabbling for what Juana or Manuel has next door, We can orient Ourselves to explore new and larger opportunity sets anywhere and everywhere in the world.

--Education: Our students are leaving high school as some of the worst-prepared in the industrialized world. They are much much closer to "You want fries with that?" than to "I have a dream." To put it bluntly, We are producing wretched cashiers and clerks instead of leaders. But We won't really see the chasm until We learn to look out there and only then will reality slap Us into consciousness. We'd have to change Our educational system because as it is, it openly, brazenly and irresponsibly holds Us back.

The answers are simplistic because I neither have the time nor expertise to write a high-quality book about this. But a book isn't necessary, for what the thought experiment does is simply establish a thought, one that can be adopted and adapted by all of Us.

Given that We can assume responsibility for Our Fate, how would We do it? Given that We have to, how are We going to do it now?

The thought experiment isn't new: It's been here all along.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

04 December 2006

Bridge to Reality

It is said that voters vote their with their wallets. A variation of this is "It's the economy, stupid." Our version would be: "It's the economy, Stupid Rosselló."

If this is true--as it generally seems to be--then the next elections in Puerto Rico should be a lollapalooza whoop-ass smackdown of The Fools.

As My little boy says: Yeah, right.

Our voters screech, whine, emote, discuss, argue about, obsess with and practically think with their wallets, but when the time comes to enter a voting booth, the complex realities of day-to-day life are reduced to a tricolor washrag of options: red, blue or faded green, the local parties' representative colors.

For all Our talk and pseudo-pontification surrounding "the national sport" of politics that leads Us to believe We are political sohpisticates, We are nothing more than Skinnerian pigeons when We enter the voting box. With bird-brain reflexes, We slash an X or two under a party standard, drop Our vote in the ballot box and walk away feeling smug.

Ignorance is bliss.

As another phrase goes: If you're not upset, you aren't paying attention.

Our voters have a disconnect with reality that rivals The Fools' disconnect with integrity. Those two yawning chasms are going to swallow Our Future unless We bridge one to force a bridging of the other. Since We can't ever expect The Fools to regain what they never had, We must connect with reality and change the way things are.

That has to happen before the voting box takes over, so that the long-honed reflexes of a lifetime are replaced by the newly-found wisdom of connecting to reality. Will it change the masses? Of course not: Rationality is hard work and the masses love only what's easy. But given how close Our elections have been--and will be--a few thousand votes may launch an impact wave that could sweep away the detritus and pave the way for the new and brighter Future We deserve.

It's not the economy: it's Us.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

01 December 2006

Top 10 Lessons of 2006

I hate Year-End Lists.

So here's one: The Top Ten Things We Learned About Puerto Rico in 2006:

(In the Letterman-brilliant fashion of a countdown...)

10) Our ballplayers are no longer Kings of the Diamond. With the exception of Iván Rodríguez, who is still the best catcher in the Bigs, Our baseballers are good, maybe great, but We don't have as many powerhouse players as We used to. Still, Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltrán delivered big-time.

9) We can't even treat a pretty woman right. Miss Universe 2006 had to be escorted by security guards away from an event meant to honor her (in her hometown, no less) because the crowd got impatient, then violent. I'm all for mussing up royalty, but if We're going to act like winning a beauty title is some sort of impressive achievement, can't We at least have the sense and decency to honor it properly?

8) The status of Puerto Rico is null. Forget "The status is not an issue" as an elections slogan: Our status has the appeal and value of maggoty meat loaf. Congress pokes it because We poke them and We poke each other with it because it's easier than going out and actually doing something to change Our Island.

7) Our blogosphere is coming of age.
I have barely dipped into the local blog scene, but it certainly is gaining ground. I follow The Information Soldier and lament the loss of Portal al X-cito, but every once in a while I'll drop by other sites. As expected, most are in Spanish, but some excellent views appear in English. Check the growing community at Puerto Rico Blogalaxia. (And yes, The Jenius is still the best blog in Puerto Rico.)

6) Our teachers have a trashy sense of duty. They folded like a cheap house of bad report cards when--barely two weeks from finishing the school year--the government shut down. Instead of providing a shining example of duty and responsibility (risk-free because they were going to get paid anyway), the trash-talkers got an extra 2-3 weeks of paid vacation time. Mi escuelita, mi escuelita...

5) Stupid Rosselló. Not only did state-hood-er Pedro "STUPID!" Rosselló lead the most corrupt misAdministration in Our history, he is by self-admission the stupidest governor in Our history, for he continues his indefensible stance of "not knowing what was happening" while indefensibly claiming he was "a strong leader." The only way those two mutually-exclusive options can be reconciled is by annexing (Get it?! Get it?!! Annexing!! I'm shriekingly funny!!) STUPID to his name: Pedro Stupid Rosselló.

4) Speaking of corruption, We've now accepted it as natural.
Back in 2003, the local Government Ethics Office (a trash can behind a whorehouse in Old San Juan) estimated that corruption cost Puerto Rico 10% of its roughly $21 billion budget. That's over 2 billion dollars, people. Thanks to #5--Stupid Rosselló--who perfected what previous misAdministrations had amateurishly pulled off, We can now count on 10, 15, maybe as much as 25% of Our monies going to child molesters, rapists, nincompoops, drug panderers and outright thieves. We were never "zero tolerance" about corruption, but it's a far cry from Our current "two-zero" (20%) tolerance.

3) On the subject of money, the sales tax was/is grand scale thievery. If the sales tax rape of Our pocketbooks doesn't cause a massive upheaval for change in Our favor, We can expect more of the same and watch Our future dwindle to ashes.

2) Our government is out of control. The unneeded, profiteering shutdown of Our government for what proved to be NO reason at all bears the visual imagery of drunken monkeys waving loaded Uzis in an orphanage. Progressive countries cut taxes; We raise them. Progressive governments seek to relieve business burdens; We increase them. Progressive governments shift priorities for growth; Our government shafts Us and Our priorities to grow their own coffers. It is time to let the drunken monkeys know that "You live because We allow you to, not because you have a right to."

1) We learned that "We have met The Fools, and they is Us." Ah, Pogo.

The Jenius Has Spoken.