30 July 2008

Growing Up

Four million people, give or take a hundred thousand, living on roughly 3,600 square miles. At 2 pounds of food per person per day, that's 8 million pounds of food to feed the population. (Non-humans also eat, but let's keep this simple, okay?) How much of that 8 million pounds is produced locally?

About 3%.

Agriculture in Puerto Rico is a thing of the past, as in basically dead and buried. For almost six decades, the Island's faux leadership has focused on machines and buildings, ignoring the reality of a small island with a burgeoming population, or trusting in the kindness of a friendly stranger We've known for over a hundred years.

Cut to the chase: Very little agriculture at present, not enough arable land to bring the produced food percentage to a sustainable 35-55% of total local consumption and economic restrictions up the wazoo. Solution: Vertical farming.

The primary advocate for vertical farming is Dickson Despommier, a professor at Columbia University. His idea is simple to explain: Use urban areas to erect "farmscrapers," high towers to raise crops, fish, livestock and even algae as close to population centers as possible.

The benefits are obvious: Year-round food production, efficient use of land, reduction of transportation costs, reduced use of pesticides and in Our case, decreased dependency on imports. As food production declines in the face of a world population increase, vertical farming is an idea whose time is now.

And for Puerto Rico, the urgency is even stronger. Farmscrapers in the deserts of Las Vegas and Dubai are good ideas, but they smack of something akin to opening a whorehouse in The Vatican. With Our tropical climate, abundant rainfall and ocean access, Our farmscrapers could quickly have Us becoming food exporters to the Caribbean, a position We lost so very long ago.

You might not care to calculate what 3% of 8,000,000 pounds is, so let Me simplify what that really means: Imagine eating 48 ounces of food a day all your life... then having to live on only one and a half ounces a day.

Time to think vertically.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


28 July 2008

Flea-cing the Fools

Hark back to that day, the long tail of My birthday celebration, when a relationship between the 7% sales tax--to be implemented the next day--and the underground economy was made clear.

And here's the proof, in two simple words: Flea markets.

A curiosity as recently as the first half of 2007, flea markets have simply exploded in the past few months. From one-morning events on Sundays to three-day, 8 a.m.-to-6 p.m. weekly events, flea markets are now a common sight. In My neck of the Island alone there are seven flea markets operating regularly, and one tiny flea market operating daily, as a sort of Salvation Army on rickets.

Why so many? Allow Me to quote Myself: Cash beats taxes.

Is it any wonder that both The Jellyfish governor and his Larval Jellyfish opponent scoot to grab the title of "Sales Tax Eliminator"? It's a no-brainer that even these two invertebrates can wrap their notochord around: Wallet-enhancing, easy to talk about and too complex to actually have to think through. The perfect political sound-bite generator for the modern democracy!

How much money is moving through flea markets? I don't know, but here's an informal, yet telling, observation: About 20% of the flea market stalls are operated as "full-time" businesses. In other words, the people who run them have no other source of income. No job, no other business. Just their canopied stall.

Whether that observation holds up for all flea markets around the Island or not, it does lay the basis for a conclusion: Taxes and the overly-idiotic rigamarole of starting a business here have forced--yes, forced--some people to find alternatives. And they have done so by improving--dare I say perfecting--the underground economy the government, "led" by Jellyfish and Fools thought they could eradicate.

Nothing I didn't predict. So why am I not laughing?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

25 July 2008

A Fool and Its Money

Here's an invite: My new blog. It's called Jenius Jots. You're welcome.

Following up with the topic of Fools and money, here’s an idea that will help limit the obscene theft legislators call “salaries”, “living wage” and “deserved”:

Limit legislators’ salaries to no more than 3 times the average income per capita.

The current income per capita in Puerto Rico (family of four) is about $17,000, give or take a couple of hundred dollars. Under My idea, that would limit Fools’ salaries to $51,000.

Now I ask you, brethren of My island: Is $51,000 a bad salary for rampant idiocy? Let Me weigh the argument even further by adding that at present, legislators make an average of $71,000 in salaries and $27,000 in benefits, and that with their new waiting-to-happen pay raise, those averages are expected to be $92,000 and $33,000.

Some objections might arise. Let’s tackle them one by one:

1) They won’t approve it. The legislature itself holds the power to raise or limit its salaries. But don’t forget: We are the bosses. A referendum can by signed into act by petition and then voted upon and it is binding. (Okay, supposed to be binding. Unicamerality, anyone?) Here’s a clincher: We create the referendum so that there are two options: Unicamerality beginning in 2012 with half the number of Fools (37 or less) or salary limits beginning in 2012 tied to income per capita. Either way, legislators have to act.

2) They’ll gimmick the numbers. To fiddle with income per capita would require executive branch (no capital letters for them either) cooperation, and given that thieves will band together if the pickings are rich, it’s possible. But the kicker here is that Our income per capita is tied directly to federal funding: Raise the numbers on one side and you lose money on too many others. Seeing as how political shenanigans grubbing for power are directly proportional to federal dollars, there’s a huge disincentive to gimmick the numbers.

3) It will attract even worse Fools. Lower pay, lower quality, right? Wrong. Look around you and you will see—time and time again—that value to society is rarely related to salary. Who’s more valuable to society: A neurosurgeon or a baseball player? The doctor makes, on average, about $180,000 a year; the average major leaguer is making over $3 million a year. What you get with a more reasonable salary is a larger pool of people who believe they can provide a greater good, rather than the current group of bottom-feeding lampreys. The key demographic: Retired people, who combine experience and perspective. Yes, they may be too conservative, but they would generally come in with the desire and time to work on true problems, not petty (and not-so-petty) theft.

Here’s the strongest reason to set the salary limit: It ties their performance to a standard We can all agree upon…and vote on anyway. The modern democracy We wallow in is all about the economy, in essence, how’s My wallet/purse doing? Making the Fools play their games to Our benefit is simply good business. And if—as the saying goes—they can make the tide rise, all Our boats rise as well.

Instead of just the freaking yachts We subsidize for the Fools year after year after miserable year.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

23 July 2008

Curs and Fleas

The local media is flapping its gums at the scandal of uncovering that Our aborted legislature has spent nearly $43 million in consulting contracts since 2005. That averages out to about a million dollars a month paid to people who live off of the Fools.

Allow Me an analogy: The Fools are dogs and the consultants are fleas. Think of the Fools as rabid dogs, out of their puny diseased brains, and the fleas, well--they are parasites.

Here's an egregious example of parasitic fleas and mindless curs: Koteen is a company that provides what is quaintly known as "a clipping service," ambulating through newspapers and magazines and nodding off to radio and TV reports. For this service to the so-called senate, Koteen has billed well over $800,000.

Koteen is owned by the brother of a former San Juan political candidate who still runs with the pack.

Koteen's only client--since 2005, when it was founded and had no experience in "clipping"--is the so-called senate.


Of course, in this "You lick My ass, I'll lick yours" world of rabidly-uncontrolled Fools, the pack comes together and makes very little political hay about this, even in an election year. After all, the pack protects its own, even if they snarl and fight within their boundaries. It's a harsh world out there! 

Here's a thought on how to fix this: Have each Fool pay 10% of his or her wasted salary to each consultant s/he chooses to hire. You say you need a consultant? Fine. Put your money where your mouth is. Watch how the "need" for consultants disappears overnight.

A second option is to simply shoot the rabid cur first, then ask the carcass what its intentions were.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

21 July 2008

Hey, Jellyfish!

An open letter to governor Aníbal "Jellyfish" Acevedo:

July 21, 2008

Hey, you,

You're an idiot.

Hydrocephalic invertebrate that you are, you exceed yourself in idiocy by choosing to close 52 government agencies from today until they "reopen" on the 29th, giving an extra three days off to the bureaucratic masses. 

You have no fiscal reason to do this. There's plenty of money in the budget, seeing as how it's only 3 weeks into the fiscal year.

You have no legal reason to do this. You aren't required by any law in this land to shut down government agencies "just because."

You have no emergency-- natural or man-made--that forces you to do this.

You have only one "reason"--one inept, clumsy, i-di-o-tic motivation--for taking this step:

You are trying to buy votes.

Well, geez, 26% of Our workforce works for the government, so giving the whole herd a complete week of vacation at Our expense--at Our fucking expense you blithering idiot--seems like a worthy political strategy to the limited likes of you. So off they go!

You squishily claim it will "save money." 

Ha. With a side dish of ho.

Here's just two examples of why it simply will not--cannot--"save" Us any money:

1) The State Insurance Fund second-semester payment was due July 20th, as it is every year. That fell on a Sunday. Today--Monday, you moron--is a local holiday. So by law, employers and business owners have until the 22nd to pay for employee coverage. 

But thanks to you, Jellyfish, that office will be closed. Shut down. Dead instead of just comatose. Legally, where does that leave employers and employees who are--by law--entitled to that time for proper payment and thus proper coverage, many of them in the private sector?

2) You recently signed a bill implementing a new Economic Incentives Law, touted as the best thing since sliced Jellyfish. What impact does this new law and its offerings have on investors who see a government shutting down "just because"? You think they'll approve of such a standstill? Do you even think?

Look, water-for-brains, I once wrote a new slogan for Puerto Rico. In your fish-like attention span, you must have forgotten the last two words, so instead of "Closed for Repairs" you went with just "Closed." What a cretin.

My last post dealt with differentiating between Fools and leaders by simply noting whether they removed obstacles to widespread progress or threw obstacles in the group's way for personal gain.

You, Jellyfish, are definitely, unequivocally, indubitably and unrepentantly a Fool.

And an idiot.



The Jenius Has Spoken.

18 July 2008

Removes/Creates Obstacles?

Another Jenius "Thankee!" to Janine Mendes-Franco for slipping Me into Global Voices Online again. Someday they'll catch her doing that and there'll be hell to pay...

I encountered the phrase "the path of least resistance" several times over the past few days. It just seemed to keep popping up in front of Me, which I have learned is not an accident. There's a reason when these types of "accidents" happen repeatedly and rather than shrug it off to mere serendipity, I figured it was time I sat down and looked long and hard at this.

Having taken care of the personal aspects of "the path of least resistance," (highly applicable to My daily endeavors at this point), I mulled the phrase's larger significance. (Go ahead: I'll pause while you do so as well...) 

Here's what came up from My mulling, as jotted on an index card:

---It is merely human nature.

---It involves systems, which includes rewards, gains, punishments and losses.

---Whoever creates resistance is seeking to minimize his/hers for personal gain.

Nothing earth-shatterringly new. Jenius, not Genius. But it does provide a framework for analyzing--and understanding--what Our Island goes through with its so-called "leadership."

Point 1 plus Point 2 lead to understanding that what people do is largely a function of comfort and what they can gain--or avoid losing--is a central motivator of their activities. It's basically encapsulated in the "What's it in for Me?" attitude. But Point 3 lets Us understand the difference between true leadership and the insipidly cretinous version We tolerate daily. A true leader removes obstacles for a greater good; a cretinous worm masquerading as a leader creates obstacles that mainly provide personal gain.

Again, Jenius, not Genius. But as a rule of thumb, a simple marker for measuring the actions of Fools of all stripes, it works quite well. It is, in fact, a bullshit detector (patent pending.)

Take the next "major" news item or the next "important" press conference about some political move, economic program or industrial sabotage--er, I mean strategy and apply the "Removes or creates obstacles?" metric. Don't listen to the gibberish the airhead calls "explaining": Use your common sense to analyze if there's obstacles being swept away or dropped like boulders on a garden path. You'll know.

And don't think you can fool your gut. You can sit there and spout praise for The Jellyfish governor or the Larval Jellyfish running against him, or for the Fool of your wrong choice, but once you apply the Removes/Creates Obstacles metric, your praise--if you choose to keep spouting it--will ring so very hollow to your own ears.

And at that point, no one else's ears matter...do they?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

16 July 2008

How Our Media Fails Us

...Our media institutions, deeply embedded in the power structures of society, are not providing the information that we need to make our democracy work. To put it another way, corporate media consolidation is a corrosive social force. It robs people of their voice in public affairs and pollutes the political culture. And it turns the debates about profound issues into a shouting match of polarized views promulgated by partisan apologists who trivialize democracy while refusing to speak the truth about how our country is being plundered.

Our dominant media are ultimately accountable only to corporate boards whose mission is not life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the whole body of our republic, but the aggrandizement of corporate executives and shareholders.

These organizations’ self-styled mandate is not to hold public and private power accountable, but to aggregate their interlocking interests. Their reward is not to help fulfill the social compact embodied in the notion of “We, the people,” but to manufacture news and information as profitable consumer commodities.

Democracy without honest information creates the illusion of popular consent at the same time that it enhances the power of the state and the privileged interests that the state protects. And nothing characterizes corporate media today more than its disdain toward the fragile nature of modern life and its indifference toward the complex social debate required of a free and self-governing people.

Thus speaks the unimpeachable Bill Moyers, the journalist's journalist, on what We can now laughingly call the Fourth Estate. Conceived as the ultimate counterbalance to Executive, Legislative and Judiciary powers, Our media--especially the sludgepile We have in Puerto Rico--is but a self-serving, bottom-feeding,  morally-bereft herd of horse's asses braying loudly in the hopes of garnering attention. 

In the U.S. of part of A., media ownership convergence has reached "incest-based mongoloid" status. Don't take My word for it: Just peek at this chart. In Puerto Rico, media ownership is largely sheer corporations with absentee ownership, so "Money as King" is the only journalistic "standard." As for newspapers, the Ferré-Rangel cartel IS the very definition of "deeply embedded in the power structures of society, (and thus) not providing the information that we need to make our democracy work."

Moyers does have a solution: "...The fate of the cyber-commons — the future of the mobile Web and the benefits of the Internet as open architecture — is up for grabs. And the only antidote to the power of organized money in Washington is the power of organized people at the net roots... Wherever the Internet flows — on PCs, cell phones, mobile devices and, very soon, new digital television sets — we must ensure that it remains an open and nondiscriminatory medium of expression."

Organized people. Attentive people. People that are engaged, alert, involved and committed to true progress, not self-serving fraud. Quoting Moyers again: "Democracy only works when ordinary people claim it as their own."

Unless We stand up for Ourselves, unless We choose the points where Our entire being says without reserve "This is what I believe is true and I will not let you lie to Me any longer," We will continue to lose ground to the vermin who act against Us. It is Our responsibility and We cannot--We must not--shirk it.

Let Moyers himself make it perfectly clear: "As journalism goes, so goes democracy."

The Jenius Has Quoted.

14 July 2008

Haunting Headlines

--By request: My Son Kaleb's basketball team won its second championship in two seasons. He requested that I mention this, just to rub in the fact that I have not won a basketball championship. Yet.

--The freaking Miss Universe pageant came and went and to the gut-wrenching anguish of My local brethren, Miss Puerto Rico was not only not a semi-finalist (or whatever they call the first cut between losers and other losers), but Miss Venezuela won and Miss Dominican Republic came in second.

Talk about salt in a wound! Not only does that give Venezuela one more Miss Universe crown than Puerto Rico, but it gives the Dominicans bragging rights along the lines of "Ours was better than yours...by a mile!" Some will demonize Our gal for being a waste of time and effort (and $25,000 given by the local Fools), but in the end, it matters not a whit. It doesn't matter if she came in second or 72nd simply because the pageant means nothing--except as a distraction. Because now We'll have several rounds of media frenzy ranging from insipid to flamingly hysterical that will literally define "A tempest in a chamber pot." A used chamber pot, at that.

--In what passes for El Nuevo Día nowadays, what with Stalinesque purges of talent and total anal-centric vision of what a newspaper should be, the front page pointed out that 22 current Fools are not running for re-election.

Talk about a great start! Apparently a sizeable number of these scabrous idiots have decided to forego any future parasitism in favor of--well, something else. Some, like Pedro Stupid Rosselló have simply outlasted their welcome and never had any utility, so they're properly and finally cast aside. But in their statements, others seem to be dancing around the notion that times are getting tough and that the joyride the Fools have engaged in for damn near 20 years is coming to an end. And that would mean that from now on, the push would be for the Fools to start actually working for Us.

It's a simple proposition: If you are hired by someone, paid by that someone and have to report to that someone about your activities and results, then you work for that someone. Doesn't matter a fig if you are cleaning stables, serving fries, auditing accounts or occupying a legislative seat. The principle is the same: Whoever picks you and pays you for your job is your boss.

The problem has been the "reporting activities and results" part of the equation. It implies a relationship where "boss" gives a tinker's damn about what "employee" is doing. When "boss"--or "boss' assistant, the media--slack off or act like panting hydrocephalic puppies, then "employees" start acting like they own the freaking store.

One of two results will ultimately come about: (1) The boss comes back to kick ass, take names and get the right job done right or (2) The store fails miserably and the employees rush off to find work elsewhere. 

Guess which one is happening now?

There is a third option: Fire the proven failures and get some new people in. We've already got 22 rats scurrying; how about We run off the other 56? 

The Jenius Has Spoken.

11 July 2008

Pirates Fever

Bottom of the ninth, two outs. Francisco Cabrera, a third-string rookie catcher, comes to the plate to pinch-hit in Game 7 of the National League playoffs. His team had been down by two runs, had scored one and now, the last position player available to hit, came up with the bases loaded.

Three pitches later, Cabrera laces a single to left field. The runner on third scores to tie the game and Sid Bream--lumbering, cow-quick Sid Bream--rounds third. Barry Bonds, in his pre-steroid days, flops a Daisy Mae scoot-throw wide of the plate. Bream slides in under the tag and the Braves win the game 3-2, scoring all their runs in the ninth.

That was 1992. And ever since, the Pittsburgh Pirates have had losing seasons. 

That's 15 seasons of "Wait 'til next year!", usually chanted in mid-July. Fifteen seasons of watching a small-market team develop young talent, young as in "Need more experience to win consistently," only to see that talent fly to other teams when money becomes an issue. (And in modern-day sports, money is almost always an issue.)

Despite a history that boasts three members of the 3,000 hit club (Roberto Clemente, Paul Waner, Honus Wagner), a 5-2 World Series record, the honor of having won the very first World Series game (back in 1903, as The Picky Grammar Lady will attest) and 37 Hall of Famers, the Pirates are not even the most-supported team in their own city. That honor goes to the Steelers.

Small market means less money means less ability to retain a core of highly-talented players. The only way to overcome this limitation is to have visionary management supported by "winning is job one" ownership. The Pirates haven't had that. And for 15 seasons, We've seen the results.

But this year, I'm livin' and dyin' with the Pirates. Their current record is a weak 43-48, after beating the disappointing Yankees and I keep waiting for the Bucs to tear off a 8- or 9-game winning streak, go 17-3 over a month or just come together and play .600 ball in the summer heat. Why? Because the longest sub-.500 losing streak in baseball history is 16 seasons, by the historically-bad Philadelphia Phillies. And I don't want the Pirates to tie that record.

Sure, the Pirates aren't the fascinating blend of speed and power they once were, smashing baseballs all over the National League. But they're still My team, My childhood gang, the home of the one and only Clemente. I may not get to see their games and their highlights are often relegated to the "garbage time" of SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight, but I'm pulling for them, every day.

And I hope that come September, Our chant of "Wait 'til next year!" is of continuing a new streak.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

09 July 2008

We're Doomed!

My Thanks, as ever, to Janine Mendes-Franco and Skye Hernandez for adding two of My recent posts to Global Voices Online. And to Kevin Shockey for giving Me a heads-up on that as well.

The Hounds of Hell will be unleashed with savage fury as The Apocalypse thunders down on Our fragile beings with the impetus and force of enraged demonspawn! Without a doubt, the world as We know it will end--end I tell you!!--on February 17th, 2009.

And how do I--how do We--know that? Because the freaking TV commercials DON'T STOP TELLING US!! With a pitbull-like intensity that shames--SHAMES--any other attempt at public service, newsgathering or news analysis, local TV stations, cable outlets and satellite providers harp on and on and on and on and on and on and on and f---ing on about how TV airwaves will switch from analog to digital on--you guessed it--February 17th of 2009.


No, it won't. But in the media-saturated, media-moronic and media-deficient swampland We live in, the absolute, over-the-top, We Are the World-style effort that crosses television networks and stations to bring Us this perfidiously useless piece of tripe is revolting to the extreme.

In the past two weeks, I have watched a total of 16 hours of TV, of which 14 were sports or sports-related (ESPN, ESPN2 and NBC's coverage of the Wimbeldon men's final match.) I was presented the "OHMYGOD!!" ads 13 times. "But, Jenius," you will bleat, "That's less than 1 ad per hour!" True, Oh Pointer-Outer of the Mathematically Obvious! But guess how many other public service announcements were presented during that time?

Uh-huh. None. Zippo. Zilch. Goose egg. Zero. As in nil, not a one, nothing to see here, move on.

On local TV stations, the ad ratio is 2-4 an hour. Yeah, you read that right. All for something that is waaay in the future and might possibly affect as many as 20% of all TV sets out there. For you see, only pre-2002 TV sets are affected and We're a country that averages 1.6 TV sets per person

Now how many people are affected by political screw-ups, socioeconomic fraud, banking malfeasance at the digital level (ATM fees, anyone?) and outright corruption? Would I be remiss in saying that, oh, more than 20% of Us are affected by these evils?

Are We spending Our precious airtime on clarifying the seriously real issues We face every day? Are We bringing together Our "best" (hahaha) and "brightest" (hahahahahaha) "media powerhouses" (hahahahahahahahastopit! Stop it! I'm peeing Myself!!!) to engage and enlighten the masses on these issues? 

Of course not. The precious snowflakes will melt--melt I tell you!!--if they lost access to the that most devilish of entertainment boxes. Why clutter their minds with facts and se-ri-ous matters when We can shovel crap through their eyes and into those little minds so avid for relief from the daily reality that threatens to bitch-slap Us into a coma?

Clicker in hand, less enthused about sports (you'll find out why later) and more inclined to read and finish jigsaw puzzles, I'll crank down My cretinous ad ratio to about 1-2 a week. The rest of Us will see those ads thousands of times, as the monumental waste increases in frenzy.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

P.S. -- From The Picky Grammar Lady, who wasn't allowed access to The Jenius Comments page. I assure y'all I had nothing to do with that.

The PSA's won't bother me a bit... I won't see a one of them... our TV (albeit new and therefore unaffected) isn't connected to anything. No cable. No local channels. No ads. No annoying PSA's. No "paid political announcements." (And you KNOW I'm really missing those!) More reading. More games. More quilting. More conversation.


07 July 2008

Entitled to Idiocy

I was moving into My new house when I overheard this conversation, taking place on the sidewalk:

"When did you file (your taxes)?"
"The last day."
"What did you do?"
"I claimed my sister's older boy. I'm not stealing. That's money that's mine because they (the government) took it."

Oh My aching noggin...

Let Me see... The government took out taxes from this woman's paycheck and she decides to fraudulently claim her nephew as a deduction in order to get money she thinks is hers. Now you know I'm no close friend of the government or taxes, but what this woman has done is theft. Pure and simple.

And despite the fact that she knows it is theft, she justifies it because--hey!--that money "is" hers.

Now rationalization has been around since Eve accepted an apple (or rather, since Someone thought a Tree of Knowledge would be a good idea). But the level of rationalization We have on this Island to "prove" We are "entitled" beggars belief. (With a strong emphasis on beggars.)

We are convinced that the government has to give Us money, a sort of sugar daddy with deep pockets that pays Our way so We can be indolent. When said government collects money from Us in order to parcel it back for the services We demand, We act all affronted and find ways to take back what We are so convinced is Ours. Are the taxes We pay fair? I don't think so. But committing fraud is not the way to deal with that issue.

"Auntie Tax" over here knows she broke the law. I'm sure she could have found legitimate deductions to receive some of the money she was docked. Maybe not $1,000 or so, but isn't $350 received honestly better than $1,000 you stole?

A quick poll on that here would reveal an 81-19 split in favor of the stolen $1,000. (If you think I'm too harsh, run the poll. I bet I'm closer to the actual honest result than you.) For the person with entitlement mentality, the world owes him/her the means to satisfy their needs, whims and wants. However that happens is okay, even if one must--in fact--make an even greater effort to receive illegitimate bounty than it would take to earn it honestly. Thus, machinations and schemes to steal rather than research and action for legitimacy.

Once a person feels entitled, s/he has left the realm of productivity for the slums of passivity, the world of "I earn" for the black hole called "Give me," the heights of "I contribute" for the depths of "You must serve me." No wonder We have the disgrace of nearly half Our adult population as non-working freeloaders: Our sense of entitlement has deep roots indeed.

And these deep roots are fed by political manure and educational offal, a veritable buffet of fertilizer We eat up like dung beetles, with those of Us seeking to rise above all that sneered and jeered at as idiots for not taking the easy road. And oh how they sneer.

And though it's sad to say, let's let them sneer, for without a doubt these freeloaders are entitled to their idiocy. After all, it very likely is the only thing they've ever earned.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

04 July 2008

Independence (Some?)Day

Happy Birthday, Don!

Independence Day. Celebrated here with a big "hee-haw" of holiday effervescence, but mention "independence" to the average Puerto Rican and watch a dodo appear. For in this land of oft-jingoistic ¡Yo soy boricua! vociferousness, the thought of actually being boricua without the aegis of Uncle Sam turns a ranting rouser into a panting poser.

Think "14-year old boy" and you'll get the picture.

Oh yeah, We can celebrate the Independence Day of Uncle Moneybucks because We get the day off, but ask Us to actually work on Our own independence--as a nation--and the "lesiure time" mentality rears its ugly head. Then again, there are other factors involved:

--Historical: Due to Our island's size and distance from gold mines and shipping routes, We were largely ignored by the Spanish overlords. Our only tactic was to cry "Wolf!"--actually, "Pirates!"--and thus get some pesetas. Victim mentality and learned helplessness, anyone? But that was 500 years ago, and to continue to think that We are "too small" and "too helpless" to help Ourselves is tantamount to stupidity.

--Speaking of stupidity, the Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño is a prime example of style over substance, a party more concerned with ideological idiocies along the lines of "Supporting Castro," "Fostering Socialism," "Lionizing criminals," "Worshipping the feeble past" and "Pursuing the free electoral monies every four years" instead of answering the basic practical questions around "How do We grow up as a nation?" Exactly like a 14-yeard old, the PIP wanted gain with no pain, shying away from the unadorned and unavoidable fact that growing up is never easy. You take the plunge, navigate the difficult times and with determination, vision and energy, you overcome and succeed. All the PIP is good for now is to occasionally stir its carcass for a handout.

--Uncle Sam himself doesn't give a rodent's lower colon about Puerto Rico, except where money is concerned. The century-long tactic of "You decide and tell Us what you'd like to do" has served the gaunt geezer quite well, for We--as 14-year old boys--can't make up Our minds. We're caught between wanting to be The Man (with all the responsibilities and duties thereof) and the sense that "Without what I'm given, I'm nobody." So We rush about, all energy and verve, Our head full of fantasies and envy, wishes and doubts, accepting what We're given with resentment-laced glee and think only for the now, for after all, tomorrow is someone else's concern, right?

So while We're chugging Our beers, roasting hot dogs on a grill while the radio and TV blare their cacophony and invading Our beaches with a surfeit of trash, while We celebrate some other country's independence, how about We take a moment and acknowledge that Our independence is the corpse in the corner, the one We have buried so badly it raises a stink that--sadly--few of Us can perceive?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

02 July 2008

We're Number 2!

Something called the World Happiness Survey came out and Puerto Rico slipped from Number 1 to Number 2, upended by Denmark, where drugs are legal and prostitutes display themselves in public windows.

Oh, wait, that's Amsterdam. But it's closer to Denmark than We are, so thus they are happier.

Then again, another such survey says that Nigeria is actually Number One. Nigeria? Are they serious? In that survey, Mexico ranks Number Two and Puerto Rico Number Five. Mexico is nice, but mariachi music always makes My teeth ache.

Then there's a study that says that "world happiness is rising," implies that (a) We are happier; (b) We are caught up in the idea of being happier or (c) We're deluding Ourselves.  I vote for a combination of -b- and -c-, with a dash of paprika for that exotic twist.

According to that "rising happiness" survey, the fastest rising level of happiness is seen in India. That bodes well for a country of 1.2 billion people speaking some 350+ languages and dialects, engaging in religious strife and possessing nuclear weapons. I say We encourage them to be happier!

As far as We go in terms of happiness, it seems inextricably linked to getting on an airplane and booking the hell out of here. Why else do We have so many of Us leaving Our emerald pearl (just work with Me here, okay?) and fleeing for the much-less-happier U.S. of part of A.? 'Cuz none of the happiness surveys ranks the U.S any higher than 14th and most place it in the middle of the pack.

So. Are We happy here or are We happy because We can go there? Let's ask a Dane in Nigeria who's traveling to India. She should know.

The Jenius Has Spoken.