28 February 2007

Probation Period

It's that time of the year again, when Our local Thanksgiving-Christmas-Three Kings Day-Keep It Going 'til mid-January holiday marathon hangover has ended and the somber reality of being in the ham-fisted, retarded pig-brained and ethics-voided control of Fools once again sinks in.

Toss in the utterly predictable (by people of average intelligence) declining numbers of sales tax revenue, an increase in petty political infighting, rising gas prices and a stretch run to finish another fiscal year lacking in solid goals or progess and you have the return of Puerto Rico's Probation Period, the time of the year when anxiety shadows every step, options are reduced and actions tend to lead to ever-increasingly worse consequences.

Like a released con suddenly strapped into an ankle bracelet, We lumber through our daily life intensely aware of Our surroundings, as if being released from "prison" (the horrendously long Season of Denial We call Navidades) had thrust Us into a slow-motion nightmare, one with an undertone of ratcheting despair. The Fools go from overstrident to hysterical (the difference is they now spray saliva more easily), the immense pack of lumps known as "government employees" shift from neutral to "Not my job" as budget awareness and what those dwindling monies means goes from water-cooler two-hour break conversation to media fodder.

The Probation Period usually lasts from March to May, but due to the dull spinelessness of the jellyfish governor Aníbal Acevedo and the "Stupid Rossells hand-up-the-ass" puppetry of house president José Aponte, last year's Probation Period dragged into July, cost Us a shutdown in the feebleness called public education and ended up being like most Probation Periods: A small recess in an otherwise consistent career of wrongdoing.

Just as We should prepare for hurricane season, We can also prepare for Probation Period. Here's how:

1) Ignore what The Fools say and carefully watch what they do. Just like experts' and non-experts' words on Bessie, David or Gilbert, it doesn't matter a flat penny what they say will happen: Only what actually happens matters.

2) Ignore the media's inane hysteria. With the exception of Mardelis Jusino, a newsreporter for a local TV channel, not one journalist had a solid take on what happened during last year's Probation Period. As most of Us rely on radio and TV to get a "feel" for events, the best bet is to do so only every other day or so until events make themselves imperative, which means only when The Fools actually make a change. If nothing actually changes, there is no imperative event, words are cheaper than dirt and the media is overhyping. (Except Ms. Jusino.)

3) Unlike a hurricane, there is no calm eye; like a hurricane, the aftermath requires Us to work hard. The chaos of a hurricane has a reason, thus it has a sense of proportion and balance. In the Probation Period, forget balance: This isn't about natural forces, but about the unnatural doing the unthinkable for unspeakable reasons. And since both a hurricane and the Probation Period are blind destroyers, it's up to Us to make things right after they've swept through Our lives.

Just as global warming contributes to stronger hurricanes so does indifference foster Probation Periods. The less We care about who We elect, the worse The Fools become. Watch them act, watch their routes and paths and motions and ignore the screams, the hot air and the debris they raise as obfuscation. Learn from their actions--they are few and far between--and make note of who cut down when the time comes.

But until then, there's work to be done to live in the wreckage of another Probation Period.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

26 February 2007

Money Misery

So she turns to Me and says "If I save my money, it doesn't do anything for me."

My brain hummed. A sad tune, in fact.

She went on blithely. "It's better to spend it on something (my daughter) wants or something I want than to just have it sit there and do nothing."

Those of you who agree, please raise your hands. Uh-huh. You can put them down now so you can wring them the rest of your life in poverty. Nancy--the non-saver--is deeply in debt. Loaded down with debt while she was employed, product of credit card abuse, "instant" loans and an "I wanna!" lifestyle, Nancy hated her job so much she eventually had a physical breakdown...and lost her job. Nancy's crushing debt led to losing her house to foreclosure, forcing her to move in with her mom.

By Our local standards, Nancy was upper middle-class: Salary in the mid-40 thousand range, with full health, vacation and retirement benefits and she once owned her home. She mortgaged it--twice--for expansions because she and her daughter "needed the space." Birthday parties ran to several thousand dollars...each. Nancy was proud of her streak of going to Disney World every year for 7 years, though she was paying off trip #4 just as she started trip #7. Now unemployed and with her health compromised, Nancy was talking to me about her future and what she could do to get out of debt and on the road to "being comfortable."

I'll save you excessive details. You know what she thinks of savings. Cut up her credit cards? No. They are her "income." [That was her word: income. Do you get the sense I'm wasting My time here?] Credit counseling? "That's for people who don't know how to make money," Nancy says. When I point out she's in the same boat as "the losers," she gets miffed. "I lost my job! I didn't make myself poor!"

Obviously, Nancy has some major reality gaps. And maybe it's none of My business how she spends her money or on what, except that she came to Me for advice. What irritates Me here is that Nancy is not atypical in her attitude about money and its role in her life: She is, in fact, a majority of Us, if not the majority of Us.

* We can't tolerate saving money because "It just sits there" instead of being in Our hands buying Us the latest crap served up by Almighty Commerce.

* We treat credit as income, using it to expand Our lifestyles as if no bill will ever come due. A bigger credit limit is a raise! An instant loan is a bonus! A second mortgage is just like selling the house only you get to keep it!

* Admit We have a problem? Uh-uh! We don't have a problem...that spending more can't cover up. We are insecure and miserable, so We buybuybuy, especially what others are buying. We are ignorant--idiotic, even--about what money is and what it can and cannot do. But do We try to learn about it? Hell, no. Our "knowledge" about money is most often limited to dreaming lottery numbers or seeing number combinations in license plates and receipts.

* The rich? We hate them, because they are successful, because they have what We don't, because they've achieved what We can't begin to imagine doing. We hate them because We aren't like them. But We secretly admire those who've "rigged" the system to their benefit, those gansos who slide on oily ethics and achieve ill-gotten gains. Think I'm wrong? What else explains Our tolerance of the corrupt and their corruption if not for the fact that We--in the deepest corner of Our souls--want to become like them?

Add all this up and you have a society of wannabes wallowing in debt, miserable through and through and incapable of seeing their way to a better way of Life. They'd rather spend for now than save for later, dig a hole in the present rather than build a future and prefer to spend hours dissecting the latest ganso misadventure than learning from a successful person what he or she did that all of Us can do.

I'm pretty sure I won't see Nancy again, but I'm pretty sure that ten years from now, she'll still be living with her mother, in debt and carrying her enormous weight of self-inflicted misery around like an anchor.

And so will most of Us.

How bitter a future do We need to see before We decide to change?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

25 February 2007

Web Wonder

Note: My Thanks again to Rebecca MacKinnon and Georgia Popplewell for selecting another Jenius post to Global Voices. It always surprises Me.

How indescribably odd this is... For weeks I've been thinking about an amazing short story titled "Slow Tuesday Night", an overlooked minor classic of science fiction writing by R.A. Lafferty. The basic premise is simple: Humanity speeded up. I read the story over 20 years ago and it stuck like few stories do, for not only was it engaging and fascinating in a "What I could do with this!" way, but it presented an uncanny prediction of Our very future.

For weeks I've been thinking about digging into My stored stacks of books for the Galaxy anthology the story's in, a much-thumbed red paperback bought for 10 cents at the 2-for-1 Paperbacks store in Oxford, MS. (I'm shading into GCSPrank territory here.) Instead of doing that, I sat down to surf the Web.

Imagine My surprise, My simple astonishment, to see in Metafilter a post that reads: Slow Tuesday Night by one Rafael Aloyius Lafferty.

I reread the story, with much joy. It still resonates with Me and I hope you take the time to read it. Won't take long, but I bet you won't forget it, either.

The Internet: I think I'll keep it.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

23 February 2007

Forget the Facts, Ma'am

Unbelievable. In what can only be described as blind injustice, another lady judge has ruled that former governor and tapeworm senator Pedro Stupid Rosselló can be absolved of charges surrounding his top-echelon pension. This judge was vehemently opposed by Stupid's defense team and state-hood-ers and yet, in the end, damn the facts and full speed backward.

Let Me go over the facts again, though I already did that:

Stupid Rosselló faced three charges:

1) Falsification of documents
2) Receiving undue personal benefits by virtue of using the governor's office
3) Illegal appropriation of public monies

The facts--the f-----g facts, people--are that Stupid provided false documents supposedly proving he was working at the local Psychiatric Hospital when he was actually playing tennis and in college at the time. Those documents could not have been provided by anyone else because no one is authorized to request a pension for someone else. Stupid made his pension upgrade request several times and in the end, to get his upgrade, he provided information he KNEW was false.

There are two scenarios that absolve him: He had someone else file his request (to keep his hands "clean"), in which case he is guilty of the second and third charges or that instead of "working" at the Psychiatric Hospital, he was an inmate. For this charge there is NO way a "not guilty" conclusion can be drawn because Stupid Rosselló properly reported his whereabouts BEFORE becoming governor and changed his story AFTER he was in office solely for the purpose of getting a bigger pension.

Which brings Us to charge two: Using the governor's office for personal benefit. The head of the State Retirement Fund is in jail because he was found guilty of providing his boss--his boss, people--with a pension said sack of reeking guano did not deserve. Said smelly guano bag made his fraudulent request eight times, which in this context, is the same as having your boss TELL YOU seven times you are NOT "following through." Remember, keep this clear as two judges already proved they cannot: Stupid Rosselló KNEW he didn't have the time served for the pension he was requesting. To continue his petitions--from the governor's office--was at best unethical and at worst criminal misconduct.

As for charge three, illegal appropriation, Stupid Rosselló cashed the checks for amounts he didn't deserve and said he wouldn't give the ill-gotten money back. He lied to get the additional public funds he is not entitled to. Based on the facts, he is guilty on all three counts.

But like too many other things here, facts have a way of fading into the background and becoming irrelevant, smothered by tides of incompetence, fear and ignorance. Stupid Rosselló walks out of a courtroom where Justice never even had a shadow.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

21 February 2007

Pledge to the World - Part IV

Several years earlier, the surgical-oncology department at U.C.L.A. had devised an experimental treatment for osteosarcoma, a cancerous growth, around the end of the femur, just above the knee. (It involved) a new chemotherapy drug called Adriamycin. Oncologists had nicknamed Adriamycin “the red death,” because of its cranberry color and its toxicity. Not only did it cause severe nausea, vomiting, mouth blisters, and reduced blood counts; repeated doses could injure cardiac muscle and lead to heart failure.

Imagine treating a patient--imagine having your loved one treated--by a drug called "the red death." A drug that kills you only slightly slower than it kills the cancer cells that will kill you, too. And all this comes about because cancer cells have a zombie-like immunity that dichloroacetate (DCA) can strip away. Once that happens, drugs far less lethal than "the red death" can wipe out cancer cells with fewer damage to the patient whose life is being saved.

The quote above is from a New Yorker article, by Jerome Groopman, about the way doctors make decisions. Time and again doctors must make quick judgments that can have a seriously beneficial or serously damaging effect on a patient's health. But when it comes to cancer, many of the decisions are made murkier by the simple fact that treating the disease is only slightly better--in terms of adverse health impact--than letting the problem continue unchecked.

The path of science has been the reduction of uncertainty, the clearing away of doubts and speculation in favor of certainty. Maybe not full certainty, but at least the reduction of ignorance and risk. When something as simple as DCA proves science is on the right path, anything that can be done to make its potential erupt is worth doing. Anybody who can step up to make the process reach fruition is doing the right thing. And for a nation to do so is not only the right thing to do, it is the only thing to do.

And there's no reason why that nation can't be Ours. It's Puerto Rico's choice to step up on a global stage and make its mark on--and for--the world.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


Some points to ponder...

1) If local elections were held today, the jellyfish--Aníbal Acevedo--would win simply because the opposition is faced with a "choice" between a rabid malcontent focused on power (Stupid Rosselló) and a begging fetus aspiring to become a jellyfish (current Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño.) Seeing as how the jellyfish has no apparent rival--yet--he could become another two-term governor.


2) All the sound and fury about the unicameral bill is just that. The Fools will never place it anywhere near the electorate again in any binding fashion, so what We have is a another time-waster paid for by public monies.

3) Speaking of which, a good friend of Mine said recently: "I don't mind the stealing that goes on in government, because it's part of the process, but can't they (the corrupt) get things done right?" I was about to verbally thrash his argument to shreds when it dawned on Me: He has a point. We have reached the point of tolerating corruption, but by tolerating crass incompetence, We are actually encouraging both trends to continue. So maybe My friend's opinion is unsound, but by applying pressure to get the results We want, maybe We can reverse the downward spiral We're trapped in.

4) Prediction: The number of tourists visiting Puerto Rico this year will drop compared to 2006. The culprit: New passport regulations. Although Puerto Rico is exempted for U.S. citizens (meaning they can visit without a passport), many people won't grok that. And of those who do, the passport's "image" as a ticket to exotic places just doesn't seem to jibe with the more "domestic" image the Island tries to project in its advertising. Idea: Make Puerto Rico seem more exotic, while still emphasizing the "no passport" ease of travel. Since the Tourism idiots won't do that and We face increasing competition from the Caribbean, We're headed for a significant drop in both visitors and revenue.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

16 February 2007

Three Women

One wears multicolored clothes, a wandering gypsy with a raspy voice and often a kind word to young and old alike. Another has the face and demeanor of an escaped lunatic, wide-eyed challenging stare and hair-trigger temper. The third moves with sinuous grace, languid, her eyes consuming the world in glittering gaze or sunken inward in dull glow.

Three women, each marginalized in some obvious way, different from the rest of Us, but each surviving in the community where I live because in small, consistent ways, the community keeps them safe.

The gypsy lady walks the town every day, her amazing collection of oversized purses seemingly as inexhaustible as her stride. She will ask for a quarter or two, sometimes a dollar, and she greets many with politeness and warmth. If left alone, she will continue her long daily walk, eventually striding up the sloping hill to the dark house she lives in. Her story is known: Why she is what she is today isn't. She seldom wears the same outfit twice, she almost never buys groceries and her house is dark but doesn't lack water service. Some say it's her savings, but those who know understand that a helping hand--or a dozen--can skip recognition in favor of understanding.

The staring lady sometimes gets escorted from stores and other public places because she goes off on rants. On the odd day when she's placid, her smile is quick, her eyes bright as a bird's and she moves with the easy charm of friendliness. On most days, she stomps, struts, mutters and snaps at passers-by. She's been known to hit people, but only those who pick on her or disrespect her. A local fast-food restaurant feeds her almost daily, two meals, provided she behaves as a lady. A local store gives her clothes and shoes once a month. And a doctor sees her every month--free of charge--to make sure she's still in good health. She might outlive everyone helping her now, but not the lesson of generosity she embodies.

The third lady is wistful, when happy or sad. She flirts, cocking eyes at men she finds interesting. She never raises her voice above a stage whisper and she never swears. When happy, she twirls hair around a finger and walks erect, jauntily feminine, an actress on stage. When sad, she glides along, vague, ponderous and dim. She might ask for money, though it's most likely that she won't. In several places, patrons will buy her food, a soft drink, lipstick or even sandals. She goes to these places and if there isn't anyone there she knows will help her, she moves on. Her lonely walks often take her to the edge of high-traffic side-roads, where her safety is in danger. Yet every once in a while, a car will stop, she will get in and her walk is cut short, to continue where it will be safer.

My town isn't unique, but something tells Me this unspoken, community-based support of three vulnerable women is. Not because it happens, but because it happens to suit them. These ad hoc support systems are products of heart meeting heart, a group's wish to help one person while still respecting that person's wishes. These women may be incapable of taking care of themselves, but they are allowed to live the life they can with as much dignity as possible. I could state that there's a lesson in there for Our society as a whole, but that would be belaboring the obvious, right?

Then belabor I shall: We could learn much from My community's caregiving ways, much about reaching out with generosity and kindness, with respect and devotion to the idea that taking care of one is the start of caring for all. No fanfare, no beating of chests, no wailing or cheering or cynicism disguised as experience: Just simple caring from the heart.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

14 February 2007

Parties Pooping

One party is heading towards an implosive primary, the other one is merely shrinking in on itself. Welcome to Puerto Rico's Two Parties Pooping.

Let's take the more dramatic (as in asinine) first. The statehood party--whose symbol should be a red, blue and off-white lamprey--will have a clash between Pedro Stupid Rosselló, he of the indefensible corruption and Luis "Chief Beggar" Fortuño, Stupid Rosselló's
"super-secretary" and now chief rival.

On the one hand, this upcoming battle can be framed as rabid mutt vs. twitchy rabbit, but that would demean both animal species and insult the fine name of rabies. On the other hand, it can be seen for what it is: A party truly deciding whether it wants leadership--in a wispy, pale, fetid way, at best--or choosing to be hog-tied by fanaticism.

Then We have the commonwealth party, whose symbol should be a red and off-white lamprey. They are now in the throes of "seriously and honestly" redefining themselves.

Uh..okay. So up 'til now, what have you been doing? Joking and lying? Faking it and weaving fairy tales? Being insincere and fabricating evidence? It took you 60-something years to figure this out?

The worst part about all this is the endless empty coverage of nothing but sputum. Imagine the horror of having all media go 24/7 on, say, the untimely death of a stupid fat stripper. Imagine that! How utterly awful that would be!

Now imagine that this goes on not for a week, but for 18 months. Yeah, welcome to the Parties Pooping portion of Our existence, Part 25. It will make the stupid fat stripper look like a calendar girl.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

12 February 2007

Thankful to Laugh Hard

My Thanks to Nelson of the ¡Gózatelo! blog for responding to My "Forging Ahead" post.

My reply is in his Comments section. But instead of posting that, I HAVE GOT to post this "Chili Cook-Off" humor piece I found at ¡Gózatelo!. LAUGHED MYSELF TO TEARS! Especially since My lunch (now cold) was My own "Templar Knight Chili" (black beans, red kidney beans, beef, stewed tomatoes, onions, green and red peppers, a touch of garlic and several varieties of chopped hot peppers). Talk about coincidence! Talk about FUNNY!!

The Chili-Cookoff

If you haven't read the following joke, I suggest you get ready to bust a gut and if you suffer from high-blood pressure take your meds before you continue. I almost died reading this account of the Chili-Cookoff!

Note: Please take time to read this slowly. If you pay attention to the first two judges, the reaction of the third judge is even better. For those of you who have lived in Texas, you know how true this is. They actually have a Chili Cook-off about the time Halloween comes around. It takes up a major portion of a parking lot at the San Antonio City Park.

Judge #3 was an inexperienced Chili taster named Frank, who was visiting from Springfield, IL.

Frank: "Recently, I was honored to be selected as a judge at a chili cook-off. The original person called in sick at the last moment and I happened to be standing there at the judge's table asking for directions to the Coors Light truck, when the call came in. I was assured by the other two judges (Native Texans) that the chili wouldn't be all that spicy and, besides, they told me I could have free beer during the tasting, so I accepted and became Judge 3."

Here are the scorecard notes from the event:


Judge # 1 — A little too heavy on the tomato. Amusing kick.

Judge # 2 — Nice, smooth tomato flavor. Very mild.

Judge # 3 (Frank) — Holy shit, what the hell is this stuff? You could remove dried paint from your driveway. Took me two beers to put the flames out. I hope that's the worst one. These Texans are crazy.


Judge # 1 — Smoky, with a hint of pork. Slight jalapeño tang.

Judge # 2 — Exciting BBQ flavor, needs more peppers to be taken seriously.

Judge # 3 — Keep this out of the reach of children. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to taste besides pain. I had to wave off two people who wanted to give me the Heimlich maneuver. They had to rush in more beer when they saw the look on my face.


Judge # 1 — Excellent firehouse chili. Great kick.

Judge # 2 — A bit salty, good use of peppers.

Judge # 3 — Call the EPA. I've located a uranium spill. My nose feels like I have been snorting Drano. Everyone knows the routine by now. Get me more beer before I ignite. Barmaid pounded me on the back, now my backbone is in the front part of my chest. I'm getting shit-faced from all of the beer.


Judge # 1 — Black bean chili with almost no spice. Disappointing.

Judge # 2 — Hint of lime in the black beans. Good side dish for fish or other mild foods, not much of a chili.

Judge # 3 — I felt something scraping across my tongue, but was unable to taste it. Is it possible to burn out taste buds? Sally, the beer maid, was standing behind me with fresh refills. This 300 lb. woman is starting to look HOT…just like this nuclear waste I'm eating! Is chili an aphrodisiac?


Judge # 1 — Meaty, strong chili. Cayenne peppers freshly ground, adding considerable kick. Very impressive.

Judge # 2 — Chili using shredded beef, could use more tomato. Must admit the cayenne peppers make a strong statement.

Judge # 3 — My ears are ringing, sweat is pouring off my forehead and I can no longer focus my eyes. I farted and four people behind me needed paramedics. The contestant seemed offended when I told her that her chili had given me brain damage. Sally saved my tongue from bleeding by pouring beer directly on it from the pitcher. I wonder if I'm burning my lips off. It really pisses me off that the other judges asked me to stop screaming. Screw them.


Judge # 1 — Thin yet bold vegetarian variety chili. Good balance of spices and peppers.

Judge # 2 — The best yet. Aggressive use of peppers, onions, and garlic. Superb.

Judge # 3 — My intestines are now a straight pipe filled with gaseous, sulfuric flames. I shit on myself when I farted and I'm worried it will eat through the chair. No one seems inclined to stand behind me except that Sally. Can't feel my lips anymore. I need to wipe my ass with a snow cone.


Judge # 1 — A mediocre chili with too much reliance on canned peppers.

Judge # 2 — Ho hum, tastes as if the chef literally threw in a can of chili peppers at the last moment. **I should take note that I am worried about Judge # 3. He appears to be in a bit of distress as he is cursing uncontrollably.

Judge # 3 — You could put a grenade in my mouth, pull the pin, and I wouldn't feel a thing. I've lost sight in one eye, and the world sounds like it is made of rushing water. My shirt is covered with chili, which slid unnoticed out of my mouth. My pants are full of lava to match my shirt. At least during the autopsy, they'll know what killed me. I've decided to stop breathing it's too painful. Screw it; I'm not getting any oxygen anyway. If I need air, I'll just suck it in through the 4-inch hole in my stomach.


Judge # 1 — The perfect ending, this is a nice blend chili. Not too bold, but spicy enough to declare its existence.

Judge # 2 — This final entry is a good, balanced chili. Neither mild nor hot. Sorry to see that most of it was lost when Judge #3 farted, passed out, fell over and pulled the chili pot down on top of himself. Not sure if he's going to make it. Poor feller, wonder how he'd have reacted to really hot chili?

Judge # 3 - No Report

The Jenius Has Quoted!

09 February 2007

Forging Ahead

This won't take long...

I asked My son--like I do every school day--"What did you learn today?"

His somber response: "Less than yesterday." And he was upset, truly bothered by this failing.

So I asked him what happened. He said matter-of-factly: "The teacher has to teach the other kids what I already know." And he proceeded to tell Me what it was that he had learned the day before and compared it to the little bit he had learned that day.

I then said "Are you happy that you are ahead of the class?"

"No," he said quietly. "There's almost nobody to talk to."

I nodded. Welcome to My world, Son. Hope it's nicer to you than it has been to Me.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

07 February 2007

Pledge to the World - Part III

Part One: What We can do to help dichloroacetate (DCA) become a common anti-cancer treatment.

Part Two: A general direction for making the Pledge happen.

Part Three: Why?

I've partially answered this question already, but the fact remains that emotional appeals--no matter how grounded in rationality--will not work. For a nation (and I have no doubt We are a nation) to pledge the budgetary equivalent of one existing and necessary social program to back an experiment is asking a lot.

Or is it? Puerto Rico's internal budget hovers around $9.7 billion a year. It seems simple to take the ".7" out of the budget and We have the money for The DCA Pledge. But that $700 million represents about 7% of Our internal revenue, which according to almost every Fool, economist, analyst and statistical report, has long been badly over-strained. We need certainty, not risk, for any process as badly overmanaged and politically-laden as the FDA's is a risk, especially for outsiders trying to buck the fetid tide. So why would We take money We obviously need and place it in the hands of a risky process such as that of FDA treatment certification?

Because doing so will turn Puerto Rico around.


We are a nation without a goal, without enough unity to decide on goals and without a vision to help foster unity. We wave Our flags and sing Our anthem with the fervor of hubris when one of Our beauties comes in first or one of Our actors gets an award or one of Our athletes makes a name for himself or herself on a playing field. But aside from those moments of duly-earned pride, that's all We have: moments. We don't have--We refuse to have--an enduring process by which We define Ourselves. If We are defined at all it is by Our indifference to focus on anything other than Our smallness, Our physical smallness, using it as excuse, lament and--for those brief moments--as an "In your face" motivator .

We are so much more. We can be so much more. But We don't believe it. Like a teenager with a keen mind, a kind heart and a yearning desire to do more, We keep waiting for someone--anyone--to tell Us what We are, what to do and even how to do it. Lacking that "parent" or "uncle", We blaze around, all energy and passion, without direction, without a sense of proportion, without a point of view other than "Me." And just like teenagers, We make mountains out of Our molehills, see only the short term, get wrapped up in emotional webs and wake up every once in a while to the realization that "We are going nowhere and We don't know what to do about it."

One doesn't become an adult until one achieves what is considered "adult" things. Lacking a war, nations must rise to their levels of adulthood by taking on unique challenges. Puerto Rico's imposed transformation from economic rut to world-class prosperity ended some 25 years ago. We can now stand on Our own...if We only believed enough in Ourselves. And that belief cannot--will not--be built by winning beauty crowns, boxing belts, statuettes or rings. It will be built by creating something larger than an individual or a sports team, something larger than one institution, agency or company, something so large that other nations turn to Us and recognize that not only are We putting forth an admirable effort, We are capable of achieving such a worthy goal.

It will take money. We have it, for it will only require a tiny sacrifice on Our part to make it happen.

It will take knowledge. We have it, for We will not achieve this alone. No one achieves anything worthwhile alone, and trying to do so is not a sign of maturity, but of childish insecurity.

It will take persistence. No worthy goal comes from instant gratification. Being able to contribute a major step in curing cancer has been a challenge for decades. We can do Our part, even if takes longer than expected.

It will take pride. Not the jubilant vanity of "Me-ness", but the deep self-respect earned through conscious effort. It is this journey that The Pledge to the World sets Us on.

It will take a choice; OUR choice. For if not now...when?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

05 February 2007

Billie's Legacy

On My way back from Jacksonville, I sat next to a white-haired lady of informally regal presence. Her name is Billie.

Now a retired minister, Billie spent most of her adult life working with drug-trapped youths around the world. She was amongst the founding pillars of David Wilkerson's ministries and a founding counselor in the Teen Challenge program. She worked closely with Nicky Cruz, of The Cross and the Switchblade fame, to develp effective inner-city rehab programs. After doing so in Los Angeles, Billie and her husband set up a drug rehabilitiation program in Maui that was considered a shining example of treating the person, not the problem. In her almost 45 years of changing lives, Billie traveled to 34 countries and helped thousands of people, almost always one at a time.

And yet as We spoke, in that suddenly-familiar, oddly-intimate way travelers do, Billie wondered about her legacy. Now that her grandchildren were adults, she was turning her eyes to the future she wouldn't see and pondering what role she would have in it.

Have you ever done that? Have you ever wondered what your legacy will be? In the cliched words of the "tombstone exercise": What would you like your tombstone to say about you?

Coming so close on the heels of My dad's death, Billie's thoughts resonated with My own. In her case, I felt her legacy was obvious as her long and successful record of ministering to young people and adults on four continents was clearly a worthy and well-spent life's work. And yet, she was almost despondent about her role as mother, feeling that she had short-changed her children for the ministry. As evidence, she pointed out that she was not really "close" to any of them, for they had lives scattered around the U.S.

From My limited experience, I told her that, as parents, We always feel We could have done more for Our children. It simply comes from Our caring nature and never seems satisfied. I turned her "evidence" around and noted that the fact that her children had established solid lives, not only for themselves but for their children as well (We had discussed them earlier), was proof she had done what a parent should do: Prepare their children to stand on their own. The idea seemed to catch her by surprise, then she nodded in agreement.

Billie told Me that when she was diagnosed with cancer nine years ago, her oldest son, the "most distant" of her children, almost moved in with her, commuting by plane from Jacksonville, Florida to Erie, Pennsylvania every week to spend 2-3 days at her side. Her other children visited frequently, but it was this child, the one who clashed most often with his mother who became the closest during the battle. She told Me that back then she thought it was because he was afraid she would die; now she saw that it was because he never was "distant," only different in the way he showed his love.

Billie beat her cancer and her children have continued their lives, as has she. In a small but significant way, I helped her see her legacy more clearly, that it is brighter and larger than she can imagine and that without a doubt, it will last for a long time.

What will be My legacy? Billie inspired Me to return to The Pledge to the World and make it a priority. I will try to do more.

What will be Your legacy? You already have one, but is it what you truly want it to be?

What will be Our legacy? Do enough of Us care to make it what We want rather than what We allow?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

02 February 2007

Spinning Drain

Local papers told Us this week that the government's tax revenue report revealed a shortfall of some $20-$25 million.


First of all, do tell. Second of all, let's see the spins:

Spin 1: Early Christmas shopping. With the sales tax going into effect on November 15th, the spin goes that most people did their Christmas shopping before then.

As My son says: Yeah, right.

That assumes that We are "smart" consumers, those with savings, those that buy and reduce their credit payments by paying in full instead of letting interest rates pile on, those that buy before the rush because they have the foresight and cash in hand. It would also imply that November sales were significantly higher than in previous years, a claim no one has made...or can make.

Spin 2: We haven't received all the tax monies yet. Well boohoo. Aside from indicating how poorly-managed this whole fiasco is, the fact is that collecting this tax money is not, will not and cannot be successful because the incentives to avoid it are immediate, clear and manageable. If economic theory teaches anything worthwhile it's that slapping a tax on an activity decreases it and increases those activities that help avoid or circumvent it. Hence: the perfection of the underground economy. So whether you can collect it faster or not will make no difference, Fools: You ain't getting all you expected.

Or will you? For behind the numbers is an interesting fact: The tax amount collected--$110 million--is exactly the maximum amount under law, for every dollar beyond that would go to pay the "extraconstitutional debt." This debt, used by Our governors since the 1970s, raped by Pedro Stupid Rosselló and turned into a bottomless political warchest by Sila "Quitter" Calderón, is like a credit card without limit or oversight committee. Under the tax law, beyond a certain limit, tax monies must be used to reduce that debt. That's basically taking what the Fools consider is their money and throwing it into a pile where they can't touch it.


Is December tax revenue lower than expected? Damn straight.

Is it worrying The Fools? No.

Are they still ahead of the game? Of course they are: they rigged it that way. They are on their way to winning big.

But that doesn't mean that We will win, does it?

The Jenius Has Spoken.