31 August 2007

Net Notes

Five years ago, I was surfing an average of 70 websites a day and receiving 63 e-zines a week. I was spending about 6 hours a day reading web-based material, snipping, clipping and filing digitally, racking up bookmarks by the dozens, My interests ranging from e-commerce to sports to technology, writing, politics, literature, philosophy, web trends, games, history, cooking and trivia.

That was then. Just yesterday I reduced my e-zine subscriptions to only 3 and My Opera Speed Dial start page has only 7 windows filled (of 9.) My weekly reading is down to 20-25 sites once or twice a week and though I websurf every day, it's down to an hour, maybe two, 4-5 times a week.

Given where I was five years ago, the dropoff is understandable: I didn't have a life. I went at everything through the Internet in maniacal frenzy because I didn't feel I had anything else to sustain Me. Sad, but ruefully true.

Now I have a better balance and what's more, less need to prove I am "aware" of all things Internet. So imagine My surprise when I encounter a couple of items square in the middle of My much-narrowed focus:

---The U.S. is preparing to invade Iran shortly after September 11th, and

---A major stock market collapse is expected at roughly the same time.


The Internet is perfect for conspiracy theorists, but except for the occasional stop at El Nuevo Día's website, I don't mingle with the lunatic fringe. What strikes Me as off this time is that, given the level of involvement I now have Internet-wise, these two predictions are smack-dab in the middle of My tunnel vision.

That's a likely possibility if My tunnel vision were aimed at politics or at the murderous moron defecating the Oval Office. But it isn't. My tunnel vision is...eclectic, for lack of a better word. I meander mostly through Metafilter, Madville, Fark and BoingBoing, all excellent sites but not exactly The Economist, Foreign Policy and The New York Times. So what's going on?

The sense that something big is about to blow. And like with all conspiracy theories--or spot-on predictions--once you "see" it, you can pick out the threads that weave up to the moment.

Do I think the U.S will invade Iran in the coming month? Maybe. I wouldn't put it past the military shirker and political smirker with the highly-deserved low approval rating. He's practically wiped his ass with the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, so why not take another criminal action against humanity?

As for a stock market collapse, hell yeah it's coming. Artificial or just part of the natural cycle of the economy, somebody's gonna take a bath and a few are gonna rake it in.

Of course, the true conspiracy theory is that those who push for the war and those who rake in riches when the bubble bursts are one and the same. My new tunnel vision doesn't follow that rabbit down any holes, nor do I care to. I have enough to keep Me occupied elsewhere on the Web, and more importantly, in My Life.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

28 August 2007


This won't take long...

Those of you sitting in the Continental 48 and Pacific-touching 2 can access a lil ol' website called E-Loan. Been around a while, has developed a schizoid reputation for excellence in service and screw-the-pooch heavy-handedness. (Do your own research: You'll see.)

The basic premise of E-Loan is that of its myriad competitors: Invert the bank-client relationship for common loans. The usual, traditional, historical bank loan relationship is that of powerful overlord versus hat-in-hand petitioner. Banks acting like they own the world and the little people sweating out the bank's carnivalesque profiteering. All legally proscribed, of course.

Then comes this thing called the Internet and power shifts to the client, the consumer, the click-to-leave user who can cross borders in an instant. Suddenly, banks find it useful to compete for clients anywhere. Theoretically, consumers benefit when "banks compete for your business," as an E-Loan rival sloganeers.

Back in 2005, who buys E-Loan for about $300 million? Popular, Inc. Based in Illinois.

But if you clicked on the link, you're way ahead of Me... because Popular, Inc. is none other than Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, the largest local bank and a steaming pile of offal blocking the parkway of progress of Our people. Long story short: They make Our economy a virtually-centralized, one-bank-to-rule-them, Third World sumphole.

Ya think E-Loan was bought to offer the power of the people to Us? By a bank that has majority or near-majority control locally of mortgages, car loans, construction loans, personal loans, high-interest loans, credit cards and ATM transactions, as well as government transactions?

Ya think?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

24 August 2007

The Art of (Business) War

Local supermarket chain Pueblo, dominant for over a decade in the grocery industry, has been largely sold to Econo, a local chain of cooperative supermarkets. A couple of ironies stand out in this transition.

One is that Pueblo was often regarded as a "mega-chain", similar to Walgreen's or Wal-mart and thus subject to visceral rejection by some business organizations and, of course, its competitors. Local chains Grande and Amigo were amongst the loudest voices of protest against Pueblo's ham-fisted expansion strategy, not only because it threatened to create a virtual supermarket monopoly in San Juan, but because it was fueled by Venezuelan--outsider--money.

Funny how Amigo, the self-proclaimed "voice of the small market" folded like a cheap shirt when Wal-mart came with open checkbook and bought them lock, stock and pickle barrel. That finally made Amigo a truly major player in the grocery industry...because of mega-chain outsider money.

The second irony is that Econo is not really a chain, it's a co-op. Recognizing that the power of small markets was being eroded rapidly by big-box chains--primarily Pueblo--Econo was formed and stepped up its efforts to create a better playing field for its members. it took a pro-active stance and took to the field with it. And look what happened: Econo won. The unity of the small toppled the giant. I wonder what Gulliver would say.

True, Pueblo shot itself in the foot by trying to expand into everything (Blockbuster, cafeterias, even in-store pharmacies), but it shot itself in the head by being a lousy partner to its suppliers. For years, Pueblo acted like a venomous constrictor, apparently in imitation of Wal-mart, squeezing lower prices and increasingly-favorable terms to bolster its bottom line. But Pueblo failed to grasp the simple logic of "increasing value": If you don't make business better for those you squeeze, you create an army of insiders working against you.

Pueblo lurched and staggered and in the end, most of it has died with empty shelves, quiet stores and tepid interest in what's to come. Meanwhile, Econo's success is another slap in the face of the whiny attitude that sniffles "We can't compete against the big guys!"

Yes, businesses fail when a larger competitor comes to town. However, local businesses can and do win simply by focusing on three basic principles:

1) Know Us better than they do: If someone comes to My town and knows more about what My customers want than I do, then it's My fault if I can't compete.

2) Find allies and help them succeed: We have a tendency to combine two stupid attitudes into one major idiocy. We criticize Cubans and Dominicans for coming here and (a) working their asses off to get ahead and (b) giving each other a hand to foster growth. We act like they're cheating and scoff at their "clannish, idiotic overexertion," while at the same time We bitch about how they came here with nothing and now have successful businesses, with the house and car and lifestyle that go with that. Here's a newsflash, people: We're the clannish idiots.

3) Plan and execute with focus: Yes, We plan, but generally in the way children select their occupations as adults. In other words, We dream, fantasize or just think wishfully. Yes, We plan, but unless that plan is backed by focused execution--and by focused execution I mean having a large component of #2 above--it will increase its chances of failure. We often act like it's all "Little old Us against Big Meanie Them," but then ignore the "Us" in favor of "Little old Me." (Yes, I mean you, Centro (Des)Unido de Detallistas.) Instead of seeing the power of unity, We perpetuate the negative power of self-pity.

Is the battle against often larger and better-funded "commercial armies" easy? No. But Sun Tzu pointed out some interesting ideas some 2,400 years ago:

To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself...Hence the skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment for defeating the enemy.

One can look at business as commercial warfare. If a person does--and in this mega-chain vs. local businesses We do--then We have to be the skillful fighters instead of the sniveling whiners. (Yes, I mean you, Centro (Des)Unido de Detallistas.)

The Jenius Has Spoken.

22 August 2007

Points of View

If you want to make a rose garden, a field the size of baseball park is huge. If you want to build a city, a field the size of a baseball park is ludicrously small.

This analogy came from a conversation I had recently about Puerto Rico's infrastructure. The woman I was speaking to--with 15+ years of experience writing and researching telecommunications in Puerto Rico--was criticizing the people who say that We lack infrastructure. From My point of view, the people I hear saying that are the ones who live, breathe, eat and stake their livelihoods on that infrastructure...and they are right: We do lack infrastructure.

For one, We have a cultural bias, if not outright fear/disdain, for technology. I've said it before: We are "magical realism" where the U.S. and Europe are "science fiction." Ghosts and spirits don't have any use for computers.

In second place, We never had a technology boom, fueled by cash, cash and more cash, both as investment and reward. We'd LOVE to have one, but Our model is Silicon Valley and Our reality is Swamp Village.

Third, We place so much emphasis on the government to lead the way (because We are whiny children who want to be taken care of) that We then get upset when that government--operating with the carte blanche of Our vapid indifference-- screws things up royally. The case in point: Technology for education. We have done so poorly in this regard that the Federal government is withdrawing over $250 million in funding for education technology, basing the decision (rightly) on the premise that throwing good money after bad is stupid.

Imagine losing a quarter of a billion dollars in future investments when what you have at present is decidedly sub-par. How's that for leadership and performance?

Yes, We have more cell phones per capita than any other country than Italy. Is Italy a world powerhouse in economic growth?

Yes, We have a high percentage of people subscribing to cable TV and satellite access. But is that productive? Is that the technology infrastructure engine We really need?

Sadly, We still have a de facto telephone monopoly, now in the hands of a Mexican conglomerate. Will this mark the opening of affordable high-level Internet access along the lines of South Korea's almost 100% broadband access? Don't hold your breath. This same conglomerate has been largely responsible for Mexico's sub-par telecom development, though there as well as here, government corruption has played a significantly negative role.

Like I told the well-read writer, it's a matter of viewpoint. As an end-user of technology, she sees a huge field of play and wonders why it isn't enough. She is right: From her point of view, the infrastructure beyond her needs is huge. But from Our point of view, those of Us who look to propel Puerto Rico into a key-player presence on the global stage, based on Our needs, the current infrastructure is like a water can to a raging forest fire.

That same water can is perfect for a rose garden. It's a matter of point of view. But from where I stand, from where We the quixotic charge at distant windmills, there simply isn't enough. And We'd appreciate it if those who can't do anything right to help Us build what We deserve would get the hell out of the way and let Us do it.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

20 August 2007

Our New Tourism Agency

Based on My recent "new tourism slogan for Puerto Rico" post, I've pondered harder about what kind of tourism agency Puerto Rico really needs.

I'm obviously basing this on the premise that the current Tourism Company is doing a sub-par job. Let Me present some basis for that premise.

Thanks to friends Kevin Shockey and José Rodríguez, I discovered that the U.S. Virgin Islands handles their tourism efforts with $4 million, whereas Puerto Rico does it (better?) with $80 million. Ah, but Puerto Rico is bigger, you say. True, but theU.S. Virgin Islands is kicking Our (bigger) butt when it comes to how much money they generate per tourist.

For you see, even if it's government money, it must be weighed as an investment. The U.S. Virgin Islands attract more tourists per dollar and make more money per tourist than We do. Oh, and the USVI invest part of their tourism budget in paying police (better security) and solid waste management (keeping the beaches clean.)

So why are We getting Our clocks cleaned, when by most accounts, We should be the shining star of (this section of) the Caribbean?

Because Our Tourism Company is a bloated, headless coelacanth in a world of frickin' sharks with frickin' lasers on their heads.

Of the $80 million budget, some 70-75% goes to paying the salaries and benefits of the mindless drones who toil there. (That's actually lower than the 80+% average of other agencies. Woo-hoo!) That leaves about $20 million to invest in marketing Puerto Rico and improving local facilities. Should be enough to make an impact, but wait! We have no vision, no long-range plans and We hysterically embrace the folly of splitting Puerto Rico into smaller regions--smaller fish, so to speak--creating a bevy of areas that are each underfunded and thus forced to compete against the frickin' laser-wearing sharks.

We zig and zag like drunken fish hoping to secure some niche in the coral fields of travelers' minds. (I've gone way too far in My metaphors here...) Top-heavy with ignorance, subject to too many headless directives, blinded by "less is more" imagery while executing "less is less" activities and out of touch with the new realities of world travel, Puerto Rico needs a new tourism agency. So here's what it should be:

---Smaller: Yes, less can be more if, like a laser, We focus instead of dissipating. People the agency with 8-10 marketers, tech-savvy go-getters who understand that lasers are the present. (Work the metaphor, damn it.) Make technology your ally, not your wastebasket.

---Online: Forget traditional media: If you want more bang for your buck, head online. Several recent surveys have shown that 78% of all travelers use the Internet to research, plan and make arrangements for their trips. Why advertise in traditional media, where travelers at best average 26% of your audience, when you can advertise to travelers themselves?

---Information, not slogans: Nobody gives a rat's puckered ass if "Puerto Rico Does It Better," "Sideways" or "With a Frickin' Cherry On Top." What matters to travelers is what separates online from traditional media: Hard-core information. Check out any travel site and actually see your potential hotel room, or browse the forum to read what other people say about Cancun, Venice...or Puerto Rico. Notice how the phrases "Too expensive," "too dirty" and "too much hassle to go back again" appear in relation to Puerto Rico. One is too many; to see several is heart-breaking. And to know Our much-lauded craptacular Tourism Company isn't capable and won't do anything about that is mind-blowing.

---Measure daily, not yearly: Every day visitors come to Puerto Rico. Every day people pool their hard-earned money and make decisions about where to go to spend it. Every day people dream about their vacations, many of them dreaming about tropical sunny beaches and turquoise waters (which the Tourism Company might like to know: We have them.) Every day. So what is this foolhardy focus on yearly statistics, calculated a quarter or two after the fact? Yes, annual stats provide an average, but in the "Now-Me Now!" world We inhabit, every day is the standard of measurement, not every year or so.

---Understand that tourism is growth, not graft: (Pun definitely intended.) However, what I mean by "growth" is the natural extension of who and what We are whereas graft is trying to impose a costume or style that simply isn't Us. It's the fundamental difference between honesty and deceit, between integrity to Ourselves and self-debasement to please others. The first in each case is healthy and breeds respect; the second in each case breeds contempt. Asking Us to do the second alienates visitors. Doing the first opens Our arms to the world...and the world will respond in kind.

---Make the change now: Every day, We fall further behind. Every day. It's way past time to make every day count--in Our favor.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

17 August 2007

Not-So-Random Thoughts

---Yes, I'm the #1 result for success starts now. (Sans quotes, as you can see.) Makes Me pause to ponder this more deeply...

---My warmest spit to Visa, whose new ad campaign extolls as a virtue the urge to shorten your life span and die in poverty all at the same time! With another whizzing-whirring cavalcade of images, Visa preaches that "Fast food needs fast money" or some such ratshit. Here's a thought, Visa: I eat good food and save money. And here's another: Eat Me.

---About the recent fatal shooting incident involving the local police, two more nauseating additions: Another unarmed citizen was shot just a few miles from My house and in a televised interview, the president of the local police union basically smiled his inane way through the questions as a defense of the policemen involved. I repeat: It's not that there's a substantial minority of legal thugs roaming Our streets, it's that so many of their "brethren in blue" protect them.

---It's about time I owned up to the fact that My predicted "four horse" (Sorry, equines...) race for governor in 2008 is missing one: Willie "Let's Sue the U.S." Miranda. He didn't cast his hat into the ring and given his age, may not get the chance in 2012. There is, however, a three horse race involving not one, not two, but three horse's asses. The more things change...

---I don't know why I bring this up: Geico has five--FIVE!--TV campaigns running simultaneously. These are the cavemen series (soon to be a TV show); the gecko series; the "average person represented by a celebrity series"; the "I just saved 15% with Geico" series and the most recent one, with the surly boy dreaming of being the Geico-sponsored race car driver. For those of you who are into this stuff, can you name any other company that featured so many distinct ad campaigns at one time? Some might say it's a waste of money, some might say it's overkill, but I see a company willing to take chances about getting their message to "stick." In any case, the five campaigns are notably creative and some ad execs can be proud of being consistently successful.

---To the acquaintance who suggested I should stop criticizing statehooders because they "know the U.S. just as well as you and don't have your 'second-class citizen' mentality," here's a response, now that you're sober: You lived in the U.S for 7 years, in Texas and visited three other states. You categorically averred that you wouldn't take the Deep South--where I lived for 10 years--because "They are hateful people." Well, here's a newsflash, Drunkie: They think worse of you. I know because I've heard, seen and discussed it with them. And what's fairly evident in the Deep South runs quietly in the Midwest, Upper West and New England. And guess who gets to approve "your" petition for statehood, if you ever descended so low as to make one? Take a hint: Crawl back into your drink and leave the thinking to those of Us who haven't killed half Our brains in alcohol.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

15 August 2007

Bullies in Blue

I heard about it days after the fact. Comes from not watching the noxious effluvia known as "local news" or even reading the ad-heavy wastepaper that passes for daily journalism.

A man was directing traffic to help party-goers reach a young lady's 15th birthday celebration. A group of policemen intervene, forcing the man to stop his activity. He protests verbally and is physically forced to the ground. He is attacked, tries to defend himself and ends up seated, his back to a wall. He is restrained--his hands free of any threatening weapons. Suddenly, one of the policemen fires a shot into the man's head...then another and more. The man is killed instantly.

The sequence is captured on a phonecam; it's been up on the Internet for days. The policeman--if such a term can be used for animals--has a history of domestic violence and disciplinary problems. His body language after firing the final fatal shot was that of someone finished with a routine, if distasteful, task. That's the way I see it, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Based on just the incident itself, what We have is a man engaged in an activity he is not authorized to do, but is done by dozens of non-authorized people every day. Just today, in My only trip into town, a delivery truck driver was directing traffic to help other drivers go past the truck or enter the nearby bank's parking lot. Although it's against the law, doing this to help others isn't a crime, it's a courtesy.

Four policemen are visible in the video. Four. To handle what is at worst a minor disturbance in suburbia. True, the police risk their lives every day in the uncertainty of the apparently-routine, but does that justify such a "show of force"? Four policemen, wearing sidearms and bullet-proof vests, need to approach one man?

A main reason for this aggressive display is that the local men in blue are seen as bullies...and by and large, that's what they are. Yes, the now-dead man did protest airily, his body language defiant. But he was not engaging in a crime, had been subdued and in any case--in any case--did not deserve to be shot to death. What killed him was a bully, an all-too-common product of a police force built on giving thugs and would-be abusers a gun to shoot with, a club to strike with and a badge to make it almost legal.

For decades I've heard stories of police abuses, often small incidents where a gun was used to threaten, or a baton was unsheathed to dent a car. Many women I know are afraid to have their car stall and see a police car drive up. Domestic abuse and murder-suicide is higher in the local police force than in any other segment of the population. They have the gun. They have the badge. They lack the intelligence, integrity and dignity to use them wisely.

If I paint with a broad brush, I'm guilty of over-generalizing, but the problem cannot be swept away--again and again--as simply "a minority," so I use the broadest brush to make the statement A change is needed.

It isn't a minority, because the majority tolerate and may even encourage the actions and sins of this minority. It isn't a minority because the system facilitates and even institutionalizes the minority. Where else can you become--and remain--a gun-toting law enforcer with just a high-school diploma? What other system tolerates multiple disciplinary actions--some of them crimes--such as the case with this killer "cop"?

Low wages and low standards attract the marginal, the unbalanced, the ones who can't find anywhere else to fit in. The solution isn't raising wages: You'd only be rewarding the large minority of ne'er-do-wells already entrenched in the system. The solution is raising standards--and holding everybody accountable to them, veterans and rookies alike. Then, when higher standards are met, raise wages, enough so that the average policeman and policewoman don't need a second job to make ends meet.

Nothing can be done to save a man's life; what proceeds now is to punish the killer and send him to jail, where he'll learn the meaning of karma. Until then, the local Police had better take off their mirrored sunglasses and take a long hard look at who they are and what they have become. For if they don't, they will find themselves in a very lonely place, with nowhere to fit in.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

13 August 2007

A Brief Educational Observation

My son is a 61-pound second grader.

His book bag--when fully loaded with the school's required texts, notebooks and paraphernalia-- weighs 37 pounds

Thirty-seven pounds.

The book bag is more accurately described as a rolling monstrosity for it is essentially a piece of luggage, just bigger than carry-on, and it is but one of dozens clack-clattering along the hallways and sidewalks of the school. A school with staircases. And narrow doors.

So here's My point: Is the new educational system (hahahahahahahahahaha) (Sorry, I just had to laugh...) based on having students carry 60% of their body weight to fully participate in the learning (hahahahahahahaha) (Ditto...) experience?

If that is so, then We have a truly winning combination. As the tide of overweight adults and children increases, We have a way to force them to exercise their flabby selves into shape. Hefty smart students and fat dumb ones would both benefit from this amazing insight into Mens sana in corpore sano...though the dumb ones would still fail at the mens part.

The skinny nerdy ones (like The Jenius) would benefit from not only smashing grade curves and ruining teacher dispositions but also by being able to flaunt a lightweight book bag. It might even be, forsooth, something as wispy as a briefcase, a jaunty statement that would combine intellectual arrogance with "I'm no beast of burden" joie de vivre.

And what about the skinny dumb ones, who would neither benefit from the new educational (hahahahaha) system and its benefits (hahahahahaha) of mind- and body-building? Why, We let them grow up to run for governor of Puerto Rico.

Just like We do now.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

10 August 2007

One Game, One More Moment

Last Saturday, I played My first full-court basketball game in over seven years. A "Fathers vs. Coaches" game for the local basketball league, I'd been concerned about it since late June. I wanted to play so My son and nephews could see what I've been preaching in terms of playing the game, but years of inactivity preceded by a couple of decades' worth of strains, sprains and fractures--product mostly of an obsessively-competitive nature--had sapped the confidence of My earlier life.

As I practiced with the boys and added an extra day or two to My exercise routine, I could feel the strain. Physically, I couldn't do the things I once did. Mentally, I couldn't accept these very real limitations. And emotionally, I was--am--driven to do My very best. As gameday approached, the strain increased.

I spent hours applying ice to My left knee, then several more hours wrapping it in heat. I would fall asleep thinking about what I could do in the game, then fighting off the bitter disappointment that the list was so damned short. That Saturday, We got to to the court to the news that Our town's mayor, barely 49 years old, had died that dawn. One minute of silence that lasted 20 seconds and the games began.

My nephews played first and got beaten by 20. I told them to shrug it off, that they had done their best. The two Parents teams were organized, the Coaches team got set and after a coin flip to determine the order of play for the Parents, We won. My team would play first.

Later, I was told that the grandstand was buzzing...and it wasn't good for Us. The Parents team was surprisingly filled with several 40- and 50-somethings, pot-bellied grayhairs who'd last played maybe last century. The Coaches, mostly in their 20s, played weekly, if not daily. They were also taller, except for a 5-foot plug with the unlikely nickname of "Pili."

As We set up for the tipoff, I noticed Pili edging towards his basket. At the time, I hadn't heard him mouth off, saying he'd score the first basket of the game and be the star. All I knew was that he was trying to get a cheap early score. I shaded his way and waited for the tipoff.

Sure enough, the ball came to Pili and he turned towards his basket. I sprinted after him, knowing he hadn't noticed Me. One large step behind him, I jumped--he tried a layup--and I thunder-spanked the ball on My way down.

The grandstand erupted. The roar was explosive, viscerally unabashed and morphed into that crowd-based jumble of reactions that comes after sudden release. I was cool. I tracked down the ball, tossed it to a grinning ref and came back onto the court to play defense. My teammates were grinning, too. I knew what I'd done, but the game...the game... And yet, I did break into a grin when My cousin Luis came over and blurted out "That was fucking awesome!"

Three minutes later, I scored on a jumpshot, a free-flowing, comfortable shot that went down as so many others used to. The score at that point was 10-6, Coaches.

Half an hour later, as I rotated from guarding the ball-handler all the way down the court to the shooter on the far left side, lunging to block his shot, the whistle sounded. The game...the game...was over, and We'd lost 51-27. It wasn't as close as the score might indicate.

I scored 4 points, grabbed 2 rebounds, had one assist and two turnovers, playing almost 3/4 of the game. I focused on defense to try to stop the myriad scorers on the Coaches team. Pili had the last laugh, the game's high scorer with 12 points from behind the arc. And in the major buzz about the blocked shot, My best play--a backboard tip-pass off an errant alley-oop that came back via brilliant behind-the-back pass for a score--went unnoticed. C'est le jeu.

And what about My son and nephews, for whom I played the game to give them a chance to see how I played? They missed it all, intent on Nintendo and their own basketball doings. C'est la vie.

In the end, though winded 5 minutes into the game, My legs held up enough to apply full-court pressure as the final seconds ticked away. We lost, there's no getting around that; not for Me. And in the end, as people talked about the blocked shot and didn't even know it was Me they were talking about, I had to admit it: It was great.

It was great to do something in a game to make the audience turn to each other with a "Did you see that?" excitement on their faces. I haven't had an infinity of those moments, but I've had My fair share. I know I'll have more.

I really hope I do.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

08 August 2007

New Slogan for Puerto Rico

It's about time Puerto Rico adopted a new slogan. Usually the province of the Tourism Company--a collection of pipe dreamers in need of higher brain functions--We've had slogans such as "Puerto Rico Does It Better" (aimed at Us rather than Them), "Come Explore the Continent of Puerto Rico" (the incontinent We hide) and the ever-pithy and pitiful "Puerto Rico U.S.A."

Seeing as how The Fools continue wrapped up in the über-absorbing nuances of fleecing Us like doped sheep, I thought I'd suggest a new slogan for Puerto Rico, one guaranteed to make an impact and sidestep the hallucination of pie-in-the-sky foolishness for nitty-gritty, get to work realism.


Catchy. I know.

Finally! A slogan We can relate to and that the rest of the world can grasp in a nanosecond. Refreshingly honest, but with a touch of hope that warms the heart.

Yeah, We need to start using this slogan like yesterday. Puerto Rico: Closed for Repairs would immediately place Us on the global mental map of every media-connected person in the world, not only because it makes a bold statement, but because it implies a promise of "You'll be happy when you check Us out again!"

Isn't that what We need? A statement that garners attention, that cuts through the inane clutter of media overkill, grabbing people's eyes and ears like rabid wolverines and making them notice Us? One that has the fundamental power of Truth behind it, rather than the wishy-washy hypocrisy of the past? And to top it off, one that not only tells the world "We're worthier of your attention in the future," but sets the stage for Us to take responsibility, take charge and fix this mess already?

And here's the best part: We don't actually close. Yeah, I know, that's almost tantamount to lying, but short of hellholes like Cuba, North Korea and Iran, no one really closes a country. But by saying it, We also attract curiosity, the rubber-necking instinct that people have of wanting to see what might be bad. So, by stating the obvious and making it plain, We stand a really good chance of improving Our declining tourism numbers, all the while setting the stage for even greater growth in the future. Brilliant! A tourism campaign that actually delivers the goods!

Of course, the growth depends on making the repairs. One step at a time, okay? It's just a slogan, for now.

Puerto Rico: Closed for Repairs. Would that it were.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

06 August 2007

Three Questions...No, Four

My thanks to Janine Mendes-Franco for picking up two more Jenius posts recently for Global Voices Online. I feel honored every time.

Question The First: Given the enormous amount of attention paid by Our "leaders" to the local economy, why is it so weak and so utterly ineffective at fomenting and supporting growth?

Question The Second: How can generation after generation of "leaders" accept that 80-85% of the government's budget is used to pay salaries and benefits and yet they continue to seek higher wages and benefits for themselves in said government, while "selling" notions of progress, reform and fiscal responsibility?

Question The Third: Why are We, the people of Puerto Rico, so utterly indifferent to the deteriorating condition of Our country while also being so utterly indecisive about what to do to make fundamental changes?

Question. From the way most of Us act, it seems question is either an insult, a curse or an unneeded burden. To question is to think and to think is...aw, hell, what's the point?

Where's the question mark of Our society?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

03 August 2007

Douchebag Doctors

The media went to town with the news: Eighty-eight doctors and three others were arrested in what is shaping up to be a massive illegal licensing scheme. Amongst the arrested were a father-daughter pair of losers and a recently-filed mayoral candidate. (Need I point out for the pro-statehood party or is that beside the point?)

For the past five years, brain-challenged would-be doctors have been paying about $6,000 to have their licensing exam results fixed in order to receive their licenses. The director of the Medical Examination Board, under intense scrutiny since early this year, was also arrested, and authorities strongly suggested that more arrests are on the way.

Regardless of whether more arrests are made or not, the damage is already serious. On an island where fully 40% of recent med school graduates leave for perceived greener pastures elsewhere, to know that this many dunderheads are sitting across from patients and engaging in "health care" is a crime.

And no, don't give Me that bullshit about some people being better doctors than those who are legally licensed. THAT is beside the point. The point here is that demonstrably incompetent vermin were allowed to purchase an unearned certification to provide a fundamental service. One of the "doctors" had failed the exams 16 times. Six. Teen. Times. We're not talking driver's license, We're talking human lives and this plusperfect idiot failed sixteen times to prove her basic ability at being a doctor. So giving this waste a space a medical license in exchange for cash is supposed to improve the health care system?

This was not done because Puerto Rico lacks doctors, but because the local medical industry--doctors, hospitals, insurance companies and government--has become nothing more than a pigsty, with porkers and porkettes huffing and snuffling to find a space at the money trough. The basic principle of caring for the patient's health has taken a back seat to greed, narrow self-interest and corporate profits. Nothing new here, but it disgusts in the same sense that an overflowing sewer is nothing new, either.

I hope the authorities arrest another 88 doctors, even 188 more. Because in the end, it won't change a thing. Some doctors will be kicked out, many more will up and leave and the ones who remain will pick up the slack, hoping to cash in big without making much of an effort. For you see, to this industry, taking care of people is deemed an excessive effort: The true purpose of being a doctor is to make money fast. Why else would someone go through the humiliation of failing 16 times instead of actually learning something in order to pass?

The answer is simple: Money means more than knowledge. Remember that the next time your doctor treats you like a bag of cash instead of a human being...and expects you to respect them for it.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

01 August 2007

How to Stay Broke

From Consumerist.com, the kind of article I should have written. So, with a combination of "Take that!" and "Damn it!", here's 10 Tips That Will Make Sure You're Always Broke:

We know you don't really like having money. That's why we've put together these 10 tips that will help ensure you never will:

1) Make Shopping Your Hobby.

Nothing to do on a Tuesday night? Go to the store. Doesn't matter which one. Just go and bring your credit card. Better yet, open a store credit card and buy a bunch of stuff. Hey! You saved 10%! Sure, you didn't actually know you "needed" this stuff until you saw it at the store, but it's just so cute!

2) Don't Have a Budget.

Look, you know about how much money you make and about how much you spend on basic costs. Then you need your "play money." After that, if there's anything left, it can sit in your non-interest bearing checking account until next month. As long as there is something in there, you're doing well.

Sure, you overdraft now and then, but big deal. It doesn't happen every day.

3) Impress Your Friends By Buying Them Expensive Stuff You Can't Afford.

If Betty registers a $10,000 silver platter for her wedding... you should get it for her. Yeah, so you went into debt? Betty is your best friend. She'd do the same for you. What? You don't want to look cheap!

4) Go Grocery Shopping When You're Hungry, With No List.

Don't plan you meals. Always eat "whatever you feel like." Go shopping when you're really hungry and make sure to buy everything that looks yummy! Mmmm! Lobster! Another good tip is to go shopping on "sample day" and buy everything you try. Smoked Gouda! Caviar! Little pigs in a blanket! Pizza rolls! Yay!

5) Go To The Little ATM At The Gas Station. A Lot.

It's only $1.50, get over it. The bank is sooooo far away. Just get money wherever it's convenient. Who cares about the fees? Same goes for overdraft fees and other banking fees. It's not that big of a deal.

6) Buy Lots and Lots of "Comfort Items" Without Considering The Cost.

You need your latte. You need your new shoes. You need Madden 08. You need a blu-ray player. You need cable. You need an iPhone. You need more DVDs. You need to buy a book instead of going to the library. You need to play a MMORPG . You need 150 shades of lipstick. You need to see every movie that comes out, then buy the poster and an action figure. You need to go to every concert. You need to buy the T-shirt. You need lots of brand new clothes every month.

You need these things to be happy. If you don't have each and every single one of them you will be so depressed that you may actually die. Don't take the risk.

7) Don't Open A High Interest Savings Account

High-interest savings accounts are for old people. You don't need to save yet. Or at all. You have that, you know, plan thing at work where they save money for you. And you can use your credit cards for any emergencies that might come up. So you'll be OK.

8) Run Up Lots Of Credit Card Debt

Don't worry, you'll pay it off at some point. When? Um. When you make more money than you do now. Duh. Besides, if the credit card company says you can afford to take out $17,000 at 18% they must know what they're talking about, right? They don't want to lose their money!

9) Let Yourself Go.

Don't work out or change the oil in your car. If you get sick, take half the medicine, that way you'll get sick again really quickly and get to spend more on medical bills. Take crappy care of your car and your house so that when something breaks it costs a ton of money to fix. Also, buy a gas-guzzling car and leave your windows open with the air conditioning on. Don't brush your teeth or eat healthful foods. Make sure to buy lots of things that are very expensive to maintain, then neglect them. Who cares?

10) Buy Your Children Whatever They Want

Your kid can't go to school unless he/she is dressed in all the latest fashions. Also, he/she must have better toys than other children or you are a bad parent. Disappointment is bad for children. If children don't get everything they want, it makes them bad at math. True story. Also, if you don't sign your kid up for tons and tons of expensive classes and activities, he/she will fail at life and live under a bridge. And it will be your fault.

The Jenius Has Quoted.