28 December 2009

The ABC Of Corruption

Most of the time when one speaks of political corruption, the reference is to monetary gain, the acceptance of bribes, illegal contributions or kickbacks in exchange for favorable use of power. But the more subtle--and thus more effective--type of corruption is one that eschews monetary gain to influence events, a "power behind the treasury" type of corruption that leaves its mark, but doesn't mark its user.

Here's how to do it. Person A--the power broker-- finds one or more persons "B". These B types are the ones that meet with the "C"s, the seekers of favors and collect the monies. However, the B or Bs never give money directly to the A; instead, they take instruction from the A and retain their positions as money-grubbers only to the extent that they fulfill A's objectives.

End result: Cs get ill-gotten deals, Bs make money...and eventually get busted. And the A? Gets away with barely a blemish.

To make the scheme clearer, let Me define the prototypical B: greedy and not as smart as he or she thinks. Preferably cautious, but if not, easily led by greed and an unrealistic assessment of his own intelligence to never see that he is being set up.

Someone like, say, Il Castrao, future prisoner Jorge De Castro. Obviously greedy, bare-faced as a chimp's ass and with a 2-digit IQ that together don't add up to 10.

Now for the ABC scheme to work, an A needs a handful of Bs: more than 1 (too easy to trace one B back to his/her A), but fewer than 5 or 6, for then there's too much going on that's out of an A's control. That's the simple scheme, the one We often see broken up with indictments and charges, where several or dozens of Cs get nailed and a couple of Bs...but seldom an A.

The key to A's survival: Forget the money, go for the power. Bs are doomed to fail for they can't ignore the money and are thus exposed over and over again.

But the ABC of corruption has a higher level, a three-dimensional version of the two-dimensional game. It involves an Alpha, who recruits As.

In this version, the Alpha seeks out potential As and gets them to recruit Bs who will allow the As to carry out their own power plays--and also those that the Alpha wants. The Alpha controls the As by expanding or limiting the A's access to ultimate power, just as the As do the same with their Bs. And in this higher-level scheme, the Alpha--if he or she has the highest power available--can create situations where Cs can line As pockets as well, albeit with smaller amounts of money than spent on Bs to keep the intangible balance intact.

But it boils down to the same final non-link: no money ever goes from the As to the Alpha, or from any level to the Alpha. Without a money trail as evidence, how else do you think someone like, say, Pedro Stupid Rosselló--an otherwise demonstrably intelligent man--could be so surrounded by dozens of proven corrupt officials...and not get charged?

Remember that Aníbal "The Jellyfish"Acevedo was hauled up on charges primarily for using campaign monies personally, a direct violation of the ABC scheme. And how likely do you think it is that those thousands of intercepted phone calls and messages in the Il Castrao investigation, now leading to current Secretary of State Kenneth "The Wanderer" McClintock, are not based on a money trail (the best evidence and easily actionable), but on a more subtle "influence trail"?

Il Castrao was investigated during his time masquerading as a Senator when The Wanderer was President of the Senate . We know Il Castrao is a B. What does that make Kenneth "Wanderer" McClintock? 

We'll find out in about 100 days.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

18 December 2009

Our New Media Rules, Part 2

From Part 1: We need a new media, retarded monkey, drunken midget, Dan Gillmor, here's My take on this: 

We will create a service to notify online readers, should they choose to sign up for it, of errors we've learned about in our journalism. Users of this service can choose to be notified of major errors only (in our judgment) or all errors, however insignificant we may believe them to be.

We invite our audience to participate in the journalism process, in a variety of ways that include crowdsourcing, audience blogging, wikis and many other techniques. We make it clear that we're not looking for free labour – and will work to create a system that rewards contributors beyond a pat on the back – but want above all to promote a multi-directional flow of news and information in which the audience plays a vital role.

We will make conversation an essential element of our mission. Among other things:

• The editorial pages will publish the best of, and be a guide to, conversation the community was having with itself online and in other public forums, whether hosted by the news organization or someone else.

• Editorials will appear in blog format, as will letters to the editor.

• We will encourage comments and forums, but in moderated spaces that encourage the use of real names and insisted on (and enforced) civility.

• Comments from people using verified real names will be listed first.

We seek the positive to point it out, analyze it why it works and encourage it and similar efforts. To fall back on “negativity sells” is to deny the power of positive examples. To dwell on failure and ignore success is to undermine the natural tendency of social progress. A critical eye sees just as much in the good and can teach others about its strengths.

We embrace the hyperlink in every possible way. Our website will include the most comprehensive possible listing of other media in our community, whether we were a community of geography or interest. We will link to all relevant blogs, photo-streams, video channels, database services and other material we can find, and use our editorial judgement to highlight the ones we consider best for the members of the community. And we'd liberally link from our journalism to other work and source material relevant to what we're discussing, recognising that we are not oracles but guides.

Our archives are to be freely available, with links on every single thing we've published as far back as possible, with application interfaces (APIs) to help other people use our journalism in ways we haven't considered ourselves.

We'd routinely point to our competitors' work, including (and maybe especially) the best of the new entrants, such as bloggers who cover specific niche subjects. When we cover the same topic, we'd link to them so our audience can gain wider perspectives. We'd also talk about, and point to, competitors when they covered things we missed or ignored.

Beyond routinely pointing to competitors, we will make a special effort to cover and follow up on their most important work, instead of the common practice today of pretending it didn't exist. Basic rule: the more we wish we'd done the journalism ourselves, the more prominent the exposure we'd give the other folks' work. This will have at least two beneficial effects. First, we help persuade our community of an issue's importance. Second, we help people understand the value of solid journalism, no matter who did it.

The word "must" – as in "The president must do this or that" – would be banned from editorials or other commentary from our own journalists, and we'd strongly discourage it from contributors. It is a hollow verb and only emphasizes powerlessness. If we want someone to do something, we'd try persuasion instead, explaining why it's a good idea and what the consequences will be if the advice is ignored.

No opinion pieces or commentary from major politicians or company executives. These folks almost never actually write what appears under their bylines. We're being just as dishonest as they are by using this stuff. If they want to pitch a policy, they should post it on their own web pages, and we'll be happy to point to it.

Creating a new media for Our unrepresented masses, whether it's a newspaper that forges enlightened opinion or a website being a sharpshooter on current issues or a radio show that fosters constructive analysis and dialogue or a TV newscast that eschews frippery for facts and context, whatever form it takes, We need a new media and We need it now.

As Bill Moyers said: "The quality of a democracy and the quality of its journalism are inextricably joined." It is no coincidence, then, that Our democracy and Our journalism are trash heaps of failure.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

16 December 2009

Our New Media Rules, Part 1

We need a new media. Our media lacks intelligence, vision, integrity and is thus powerless to do anything for Us except entertain Us, like watching a retarded incontinent monkey dancing on a drunken midget's head. Loudly.

So, based heavily on Dan Gillmor's excellent "New rules for news" article, here's My take on Our New Media Rules, covering what We should have in Our newspapers and news websites as well as Our radio and TV newscasts:

Transparency is the core element of our journalism. Every print article would have an accompanying box called "Things We Don't Know," a list of questions our journalists couldn't answer in their reporting. TV and radio stories would mention the key unknowns. Whatever the medium, the organization's website would include an invitation to the audience to help fill in the holes, which exist in every story.

We help people in the community become informed users of media, not passive consumers – to understand why and how they can do this. We will work with schools and other institutions that recognize the necessity of critical thinking.

We work in every possible way to help our audience know who's behind the words and actions. People and institutions frequently try to influence the rest of us in ways that hide their participation in the debate, and we do our best to reveal who's spending money and pulling strings. When our competitors decline to reveal such things, or fail to ask obvious questions of their sources, we talk about their journalistic failures in our own coverage of the issues.

The more we believe an issue is of importance to our community, the more relentlessly we stay on top of it ourselves. If we conclude that continuing down a current policy path was a danger, we actively campaign to persuade people to change course. This would have meant, for example, loud and persistent warnings about the danger of the blatantly obvious housing/financial bubble that inflated during this decade.

We will assess risks honestly. Journalists constantly use anecdotal evidence in ways that frighten the public into believing this or that problem is larger than it actually is. As a result, people have almost no idea what are statistically more risky behaviours or situations. And lawmakers, responding to media-fed public fears, often pass laws that do much more aggregate harm than good. We will make it a habit to not extrapolate a wider threat from weird or tragic anecdotes; frequently discuss the major risks we face and compare them statistically to the minor ones; and debunk the most egregious examples of horror stories that spark unnecessary fear or even panic.

For any person or topic we cover regularly, we will provide a "baseline": an article or video where people can start if they are new to the topic, and point prominently to that "start here" piece from any new coverage. We might use a modified Wikipedia approach to keep the article current with the most important updates. The point will be context, giving some people a way to get quickly up to speed and others a way to recall the context of the issue.

For any coverage where it makes sense, we tell our audience members how they could act on the information we've just given them. This will typically take the form of a "What You Can Do" box or pointer.

Except in the most dire of circumstances – such as a threat to a whistleblower's life, liberty or livelihood – we will not quote or paraphrase unnamed sources in any of our journalism. If we do, we will need persuasive evidence from the source as to why we should break this rule, and we'd explain why in our coverage. Moreover, when we do grant anonymity, we offer our audience the following guidance: We believe this is one of the rare times when anonymity is justified, but we urge you to exercise appropriate skepticism.

If we grant anonymity and learn that the unnamed source had lied to us, we will consider the confidentially agreement to have been breached by that person, and will expose his or her duplicity and identity. Sources will know of this policy before we published. We'd further look for examples where our competitors have been tricked by sources they didn't name, and then do our best to expose them, too.

We will absolutely refuse to do stenography and call it journalism. If one faction or party to a dispute is lying, we will say so, with the accompanying evidence. If we learn that a significant number of people in our community believe a lie about an important person or issue, we will make it part of an ongoing mission to help them understand the truth.

Replace PR-speak and certain Orwellian words and expressions with more neutral, precise language. If someone we interview misuses language, we will paraphrase instead of using direct quotations. (Examples, among many others: The activity that takes place in casinos is gambling, not gaming. There is no death tax, there can be inheritance or estate tax. Piracy does not describe what people do when they post digital music on file-sharing networks.)

There, that'll keep you thinking until tomorrow, when Part 2 shows up.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

14 December 2009

Love(less) Story

The Puerto Rico of the early 20th century was like the dirt-poor waif who's pretty much skin and bones, but has pleasing soft eyes and a gentle voice. Along comes the United States, like the rich dashing hero from the north, clean-shaven and smelling of expensive cologne, his wallet bulging with cash. He takes a liking to the sloe-eyed undernourished nymph and with the consent of her daddy--Let's call him "First Elected Governor of Puerto Rico," the man from the north takes on the girl as his mistress.

Sets her up in a nice apartment, small but neatly-furnished, buys her some nice clothes and gives her a lifestyle of modest comfort by his standards, but reeking of wealth by hers. The man from the north gets his...benefits, while Our doe-eyed gal gets her benefits...and gives them out, too, for the man from the north shares his mistress with "friends," "benefactors" and "partners."

The man from the north is a pimp...and Our dark-eyed waif is now a call girl.

Over time, she gets a bigger apartment, a car, nicer clothes and some jewelry. She's moving up in the world, but the man from the north isn't making any noises about formalizing a relationship and Our gal is making...progress...going from call girl to high-priced call girl. 

Most of the  time, Our gal is indifferent to her situation. But every once in a while, it bothers her. She wants to break out of the pimp/call girl dyad and move on, make something great of herself.


Instead of educating herself with humanities and sciences, she takes cosmetology and plays the lottery. Whenever the man tells her about a new car or a new gadget for the home or a new trend, Our gal rushes out to buy it, to be more like "his people." Thus she doesn't have savings to break away on her own. She could at least argue for the chance to "serve" clients that aren't brought to her by her pimp, but she backs off when he frowns at this notion. And when told her people to find another way of life--a different profession--she whines about how this is all she knows.

Sometimes she even complains to distant relatives, since none of her close relatives give a damn anymore. She sobs about how unfair her life is, what with her 1,600 square foot home, late model car, plasma screen TV, two cell phones and trips to Disney every other year, but no "ring" on her finger, a horizontal work position and limited options. Her distant relatives, living 4 to a room, with a clunker car, a radio, maybe a pay phone and have seen pictures of Disney in old magazines tell her to stand up for herself, while cursing her for being a wimpy crybaby. And a whore.

Our gal could say "no" to the man from the north or could say "put a ring on the finger or forget it." But every time Our gal tries to make her stand, she stutters, she squawks, her words become mumbles and her eyes fill with fear. So the man--her pimp--waits out her mood and keeps the stream of "friends," "benefactors" and "partners" coming through like a Chinese death march.

So there she sits, in her good-but-not-great house, living in the shadow of greater prosperity and power, bombarded by words and images that are not her own but undermine her sense of self, that create an image of need where none really exists and time flies by with no change in her status--yes, status--no growth in her heart and mind about it and no willpower to see the reality and act upon it.

A call girl at the ready, aging into lassitude, hoping that what didn't happen when beauty was ripe will happen when beauty is not even a memory...hoping that someday, the pimp will go back to being a dashing hero.

She expects him to make the choice. She doesn't believe she can ever make hers.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

11 December 2009

Il Emasculato

Jorge "Il Castrato" De Castro is awaiting sentencing for pleading guilty on federal charges. 


Now Il Castrato has been slapped with 182 state charges of fraud and bribery and other such weasel-brained activities, charges that could add up to 800 years to his federal sentence.

Hook in the crook.

I said loooong ago that the case against Il Castrato was not stopping there, that the mountain of evidence against the leprous-brained two-party political rat was also aimed at other targets. Some legal experts told Me I was wrong...and then current Secretary of State Kenneth "What? Me Worry?" McClintock (people, it's McClintoCK, not McClintoN; get it right) was named as the target of a--get this!--federal investigation.


Also named in the federal and state investigations are senator Héctor "My Favorite Drug Dealer is Dead" Martínez and a former legislator Carlos "I Sang Once, I'll Sing Twice!" Díaz.

Woo-hoo. This here's a party!

What can you do to a Castrato to make him give you more? You offer to make him an Emasculato, taking what little he has left, for let's face it, the only thing Castratos do is sing.

Now Il Castrato says he won't sing, but he's facing about a decade in federal country farm prison whereas with the 182 state charges, he faces at least the same amount of time in local prison, where the chances of him preserving anything of his former life, health and well-being are between zero and nil.

Castratos sing. They may not want to, they may hate it when they do, but they...will...sing.

And once their voices are no longer pleasing, they are simply Emasculatos, deprived of worth and maybe--if they ever had it--self-worth.

Il Castrato will sing. All We have left is to see who gets nailed in his swan song.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

09 December 2009

Chaos Theory

"A butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon can end up causing a typhoon in Singapore."

That--or something like that--is a metaphor used to exemplify chaos theory, but people misinterpret the theory, thinking that it means that all things are connected in a highly complex yet identifiable way. They are, but chaos theory really means that small changes in initial conditions can add up to highly complex and enormous differences in end results, thus making long-term prediction impossible (under present science and math applications.)

"Small changes in initial conditions." There was a song long ago that said "Little things mean a lot." They are both accurate and they both indicate--and the evidence is conclusive--that individual actions can and do add up to effect change.

The Jenius here has long advocated the power of choice, specifically, the power each of Us has to make a decision and make a difference. The problem with that notion is that all too few of Us believe it.

Now I'm not talking about the semi-mythical, if not outright fabricated, example of something like giving a bum a dollar and setting him on a path to becoming a brain surgeon who saves the life of your grandchild. But the notion, the concept, of a person's action becoming part of a stream of actions that change the immediate world is a powerful one, and unlike a lot of stories (like the birth of someone important worthy of annual commemoration happening on December 25th), this notion is true.

And notice what is needed: an action. Not words (though they may serve), not thoughts (unexpressed they aren't even words) and certainly not indifference: action. You take an action that may be entirely neutral and that action changes the initial conditions and thus creates the opportunity for a different level of outcomes in the future.

A teacher adds reading material to her classroom that gives a few students a deeper interest in science.
A father turns down an undeserved reward and his children experience the value of integrity.

A politician thinks "Just this once" and changes his vote to favor an industry that now competes unfairly.

A policeman angrily hits an unarmed suspect while a wide-eyed child watches from a darkened doorway.

We hear about the last two types of actions, in a dizzying myriad of ways and in a nauseatingly constant stream. We seldom hear about the first two types, except at small gatherings when the conversation is private or in a story book, fiction replacing fact, Art limiting Life.

You need Me to tell you this: It doesn't have to be that way. I need to tell you this because the message isn't getting out there and We need that to happen. So I'll say it, not only from belief, but to add My butterfly moment at this time. What happens now is not up to Me: it is up to you.

The initial conditions We started under have changed. Where will you--where will We--see them end up?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

07 December 2009

The Sky(way) Is Falling!

The local Ports Authority announces it is petitioning the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to privatize the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, Our most important airfield. And of course, in their "Pollito Chiquito" way, the birdbrains are crying "The sky is falling!"

They do this because they equate privatization with dismemberment, whereas privatization is, in fact, more like surgery: it can be very beneficial or deadly and the difference is expertise and planning.

First of all, privatization of airports is not new, except in the U.S. of part of A. Over 100 airports in Europe and an almost equal number in Asia and Oceania have been privatized since the 1980s and yes, results have been mixed. But overall, as evidenced by several independent studies, privatized airports are better run that public airports, especially in terms of structural elements (runways, terminals, concourses, services.) And what does Our airport need badly? Structural improvements, especially in the concourses and cargo/repair areas.

According to an empirical study of European airports by the Robert Schulman Centre for Advanced Studies titled Privatization, Regulation and Airport Pricing, unregulated privatized airports tend to charge higher fees that public or regulated airports, but competition and the need to provide adequate passenger services (specifically, airlines) tends to provide a regulatory power to keep prices in check.

The study also says that airports lacking transportation competition (rail, bus, ships) and islands are particularly prone to higher pricing issues. 

Crikey! The sky is falling! The! Sky! Is! Falling!

But the study notes that the reliance of per-passenger fees which airlines bring and take from the airport means that airlines have a fairly strong bargaining position vis á vis the airports. And in Our case, American Airlines and American Eagle have a very strong bargaining position to help check airport pricing.

Analyzing airport privatization around the world, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) issued a Summary Report outlining 10 key lessons concerning airport privatization: Among them:

--Successful privatization involves customers from the outset.

--Independent and robust economic regulation (the government's "monitoring" role, as I have said before and often) is of high importance, but government royalties cannot be too high.

--The most successful economic regulation happens when there's an independent Competition Commission, including businesses and customers, to oversee pricing and related issues.

--Service-level agreements and progress standards must be clear and in place to ensure privatization makes the required improvements to remain competitive.

(Should I point out that the IATA was founded in Havana? The sky is falling!) 

Instead of crying out like a boricua version of a stupid chicken or burying Our heads in the sand like a mythical ostrich, We can take part in this privatization effort not because We can, but because it is vital to Our economic well-being. If the FAA grants the opportunity for privatization, it behooves Us to make the government engage in a privatization process that follows proven success methods and successful models, instead of engaging in its usual "screw the pooch" greed.

It's time We grew up and stopped "The sky is falling!" hysteria and replaced it with "The sky's the limit" vision.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

04 December 2009

Clusterboinging Fault

So before I go back to My usual 3-posts-a-week schedule, where are We in this whole "Who's running Puerto Rico?" clusterboinging?

Yes, a double question mark question. Jenius.

On the political side, it is beyond debate that the Fool calling the governmental shots is Thomas "Tantrum" Rivera, senate president in the way you combine the words "dog" and "pound". He has opposed Luis "The Larva" Fortuño since the grub was a primary candidate and openly challenged The Larva as early as Election Night.

Tantrum continued his, uh, opposition by threatening to hang The Larva's original Health Department nominee...and doing so easily. And then repeating the dose in budget and other legislative issues. The trend has continued and escalated to the point where The Larva backed down like a sissy from merely the potential threat of upsetting Tantrum with his latest Education Department nominee.

Staying on the Education debacle for another paragraph, it took The Larva until April--more than three months after his inauguration--to get an Education Secretary confirmed--by Rivera in a split-second, damn-the-law ramrodding through the senate. Given that delay and how quickly The Larva threw his latest nominee under the bus, who in his or her right mind would want to take the job now? Like I said long ago: only a mediocre, unqualified drone looking to make a name for himself or herself.  The patient's dying and the only doctor We'll find is a snake oil salesperson.

By having a spineless chicken (or Larva) as (non)governor, We don't have a government of direction and drive--the Executive functions--but one of stops and deviations, the perversion of the legislative functions of checks and balances.  By allowing a mad dog (I'm full of veterinary similes today) twist the legislative function into a personal exercise of power and plunder, We don't have a government of the people and for the people, but a government preying on the people for the benefit of the chosen people. And by being slack-jawed automatons watching the carnage, We don't have a government, We have prison guards.

Where's the judiciary in this clusterboinging? Playing with itself, like a retarded monkey with its foreskin. The judiciary can be bought and sold like cheap skanks to the closest bidder. (Yes, "closest," not "highest.") They will play-for-pay on the side they favor. Am I implying justice is money-based? No: I'm affirming it.

And the Fourth Estate, that all-important independent watchdog of government? Puh-lease. Our media isn't a watchdog, it's a flea: as smart as a flea, as observant as a flea and as dependent as a flea on the big dumb animal it barely feeds off of. I may even start a Pukelitzer Prize to reward the sycophants and asskissers that abound in that laughably tragic "fourth estate."

This bears repeating because it's obvious We're too stupid to get it the first 12,000 times: We elect the government. They work for Us...if We pay attention. Not "paying attention" in the usual boricua way of "My guy is always right!", but in the sense of "What is he doing, why and to what purpose?" 

Now I know some of you have already slumped inside, intuitively sensing that you are not capable or willing enough to make the effort. I'd insult you, but what's the point? You're the reason We're in this mess and you're the main reason We won't get out of it. You and your flatliner passivity, your cowardice to face reality, have elected the perfect representative: The Larva. And to some of the rest of you, who turned off your brains at the "My guy is always right!" sign are also to blame, because your ilk elected Tantrum.

And some of you, stop shaking your heads, smiling, thinking "I didn't vote for either!" Yes you did, by supporting the types of Fools that allow each other to act like dirty screws in a chicken-shit county prison. You voted and walked away from the whole mess, but the mess is every day, not every four years.

To the few of Us who want to make changes, who advocate kicking Fools in the groin if need be to make them obey the Constitution and rule of law, to forcibly remind the herd that We are the bosses, masters and owners of Our government and that they are nothing more than Our servants, well, We keep at it because We simply cannot accept descending to the levels of the rest of you.

Hmm, I guess I did insult you after all...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

03 December 2009

Idiot + Coward = The Larva

When you are so incompetent in your job that even lamebrains can see you are messing up, you are an idiot.

When on top of that you back down at the very slightest hint that you may have to defend a decision, then you are a coward.

Welcome to the Numb Math that is Luis "The Larva" Fortuño, so-called governor of Our Island of whatever.

This weasel-nuts excuse for a leader waffled for months to name a Secretary of Education and basically shafted the educational morass with the naming of Carlos "Pinhead Politico" Chardón, a proven failure at the same job 30 years ago. 

Then The Larva takes months to fire the two-time/ton loser and names Carlos Andújar as the nominee for the post. And because of a comment in a local blog where Dr. Andújar expresses regret that the local government is stereotyping people instead of responding to the needs of all people (more on that in a moment), The Larva immediately withdraws the nomination.

And whose stupid stereotype expressions did Dr. Andújar express regret over? None other than Thomas "Tantrum's" Rivera mouth fart about homosexuals being "mentally insane."

Let Me point out, Oh Tantrum, that you are not only wrong, you are dumbly redundant. And you say dumb things, too.

Another point: Blogueros, this isn't about Us. Just because Dr. Andújar was "outed" for a blog comment doesn't mean--at all--that "they" are out to get "Us." Forget yourselves for a moment and focus on the issue: Because of 22 words that simply express an opinion (more on that in a moment) in honest fashion, a limp-wristed excuse for a governor withdraws the commenter for nomination to a vital position in his wormy Cabinet. And for no other reason--none, damn it all--than to avoid having a rabid wannabe make his day more difficult.

In other words, The Larva gave integrity a blow...job.

(And yes, I wrote "limp-wristed" and "blowjob." Suck it up.)

Now was Dr. Andújar right to express his opinion? Absolutely, no matter what Tantrum's descending colon and prostate feel about that whole "freedom of expression" concept. Was he right? I don't think so, but I'm glad he took the time to express his opinions about the matter. Would he have made a good Secretary of Education? Well, thanks to the candy-assed weakness of The Larva, We'll never know.

And thanks to the "mentally insane" Tantrum, We know who's really in charge.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


P.S.  The Larva should listen to all of these 100 Lectures on Leadership...and have somebody explain them to him.

02 December 2009

The P(ove)R(ty) Trap

"Until you earn about $40,000 a year, you’re pretty much stuck in poverty, an economists’ numbers show.

In fact, until you get past $40,000 a year, any raise or higher paying job you get might actually sink you deeper into poverty."

The quote is from a column written by Megan Cottrel in True/Slant.com. It places the "poverty barrier" at $40,000 a year in a country with a gross national income per capita (2007) of $45,422.

Okay. Our gross national income per capita (2007) was $15,062.

That's less than 38% of the amount needed to "break" the poverty barrier and almost exactly one-third of Our northern owners' number. So what the column indicates is that in the U.S. of part of A., you must reach the per capita income level to truly break free of poverty, but for Us, who live in pretty much the same system, We must almost triple Our per capita income to achieve the same breakaway.

Now poverty is relative in terms of "how much you have versus how much is needed." People in Central Africa or some corners of Eurasia are very poor when compared to Us. We take for granted having food to eat (several times) every day, running water, cell phones. a house, car and more. But Let's just focus on Puerto Rico, on what We need to break out of the poverty trap We are in because--in Our minds and pocketbooks--We are definitely poorer than Our owners.

And no matter how you slice the argument, no matter how many factors you want thrown into this debate (from historical-political to cultural-emotional), the whole ball of wax boils down to two factors and only two:

1) We don't produce enough on Our own.

2) We don't keep enough of what We produce.

Yes, welfare weighs many of Our people down with the "damned if I do, damned if I don't" quandary framed in Cottrel's column. But it's simply a symptom of having an economy in which We don't produce enough Ourselves to provide Ourselves with a greater range of opportunities for growth.

Note that in the U.S. of part of A., according to the column, the quandary is how to move up. The underlying assumption is that the opportunities are there and simply must be managed. In Our case, it's not a case of how to move up, but how to create the opportunities.
And then, having created the opportunities, then We can focus on keeping enough of what We produce to break out of the poverty trap.

The formula for this, pared to essentials is: External value + Innovation + Efficiencies = Growth. You must create an economy that focuses on external value--what others value--uses innovation to deliver/create value and develops efficient processes, systems and methodologies to improve the value/cost ratios. Let's break it down:

External value: Guano on the rocky coasts of Chile is of little value to the locals, but of great value to farmers around the world. Electronics are of great value to the industrialized world. In Our specific case, We tend to aim for Our relatively piddling market of 4 million Islanders instead of aiming to reach the 6.6 billion potential customers worldwide. We don't see what the rest of the world values because We don't see--or think about--the rest of the world. Once We do that consistently, We can start serving what billions value.

Innovation: We'd rather imitate than innovate. And We've been limited to imitating rather than innovating. Less than 1% of corporate investment here is for Research and Development (R&D) and We rank dead last (have for years) in patents granted amongst the 50 States and territories. Imitation can get you started, but only innovation will help you catch up and then pass your competitors. We can blame the education system or Santa Claus (We love the freebie concept and innovation is soooo haaard), but We just need to blame Ourselves for believing that creativity is for crazy people who slash their ears off. It isn't: it's for passionate people who want to frolic in new spaces.

Efficiencies: A bottom line approach that anchors innovation to real-world results. Yes, you can build a bigger car, but it won't be valuable if it guzzles gas like a whale. You can build a faster car, but if it bears the same heavy operational cost, it won't sell. Build a bigger, faster, cheaper-to-fill-up car and you have an efficiency. Do the same with everything you produce, from panties to Prozac to premarital counseling to pancreatic cancer treatments and you will have an economy that races towards and breathes the fire of...


Japan did it. Turned its economy from crappy gewgaws and toys into a global powerhouse. So did Korea, beginning with Japan's sloppy seconds and exceeding it in the most vital industries of electronics and cars. "They are bigger than Puerto Rico" you say? Then look at Singapore, from rogue port to industrial R&D tiger in three generations.

"But they have autonomy," you say. Fine. Let's get it. But until We do, the only autonomy We need is the one We give Ourselves by looking at the world, understanding its needs and wants, realizing We can serve those needs and wants in Our fashion, doing so and improving the process every day.

But if We keep focusing on what We don't have and on the next freebie to come down the pike stabbed in Our guts, then the poverty trap will be the P.R. trap We have ultimately helped to create for Ourselves. 

The Jenius Has Spoken.

01 December 2009

Right About the (Fascist) Right

Ever so often I'd drift away from My topic framework of Puerto Rico and look north, to a land I grew up in and could see was being lock-stepped into fascism. I called the thieving two-term puppet in the Oval Office the murderous moron a few dozen times and thus fell far short of coming close to insulting it. I even launched Jenius Jots to display items that reinforced the goose-stepping idiocy the U.S. of part of A. was undergoing. And I started doing this in 2004.

Now confirmation about the fascist nature of a party that once called Abraham Lincoln its own comes from an unlikely source...and proves My point and that of so many other observers of the overbearing fear-mongering, racist, jingoistic hate screed of fascism masquerading as "patriotism": ultraconservative, rightist blog Little Green Footballs has publically parted ways with "the right."

What is the first--the very first--reason Little Green Footballs gives for separating itself from the madness? Support for fascists.

And note the rest of the list, a nauseating catalogue of hatred, stupidity and fear that has become insidiously and ruinously entrenched in the U.S. sociopolitical climate.  

I was right, I always have been right and I will continue to be right about the atrociously-misnamed "right." Calling them morons is an insult to morons. They have the Christian attitude of hydrophobic hyenas feeding on babies. And until the rest of the country wakes up and quashes their influence like crushing loathsome vermin into dust, the country We could once call the leader of the free world will continue to be nothing more than a mockable frothing rabid puppet of id.

And to use another metaphor, how many other "canaries" must "die" before We do something about being in the crappy coal mine?


The Jenius Has Spoken.

Update: 3 December 2009: Here's the single act that would do the most to yank the country off the fascist track and keep it off for the foreseeable future: The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder.

30 November 2009

Turd In The Cesspool

Just a couple of weeks or so after firing a drug dealer, Our malformed excuse for a Secretary of Education, one Carlos "Buffalo Butt(ed) Brain" Chardón, was also fired.

Now B.B. Brain claims he resigned, pointing to his designation as a member of the brand squeaky spanking new Education Consulting Board as his "transfer."

And what, pray tell, will B.B. Brain ever do on this razor's edge of educational progress come to light as a Board? Co-direct it with secretary of state (no, no capital letters here, folks) Kenneth "My Butt's In An F.B.I. Sling" McClintock.

Here. We. Go. Again. Two Fools in a pod.

Why don't We, right now, change Our motto about education from "It's the key to Our future" to "Fuck the future, We're insane"? At this stage of the game, with education levels plummeting like lead weights in Evian, with the funding process addicted to Federal monies like a crack skank--and equally capable of managing them--(and no, I am not referring to the drug dealer who managed the Federal Affairs Office and got his ass fired...nothing personal, you know...) and by fraud's extension the pathetic menagerie of crap-craniumed crooks elected to screw Us over keep making a mockery of their stupid stupid hallucination concerning statehood, now We come up with some cockamamie "Education Consulting Board"...and put a proven failure and a criminal suspect in charge of the fucking thing?

This is the result of either the infected seepage of a retarded brain or an open-handed bitch slap to anyone who gives a damn about this Island and its people.

I repeat: This is the result of either the infected seepage of a retarded brain or an open-handed bitch slap to anyone who gives a damn about this Island and its people.

Why does this frost My perineum so badly? Because this is not a step in any direction, it's a craven bailout. A throwing up of the hands, if not a throwing up in Our faces. Because it has NO relevance to even coming close to solving the broad and deep problems in Our educational system. This is a political "solution," "political" in the sense of "Let's just pretend to be doing something." 

Proof? If this so-called "Education Consulting Board" were truly aimed at making the educational changes so badly needed--educational, goddammit--then why in the bowels of the lowest levels of hell would you put a two-time education failure political tumor and a federally-suspect political handicap in charge of the cursed thing?

You mean to tell Me there weren't ANY other potential candidates to run this abortion? That in all of Puerto Rico there isn't at least ONE other person who could serve as the director of this mutant political turd? Or is that exactly why no one competent was found to serve, because this is nothing more than a mutant political turd, with B.B.Brain and "F.B.I. Boy" serving as aromatic enhancers?

Whoever comes into the Education Department now--and it seems the choice is Carlos Andujar, current Dean of the University of Puerto Rico campus in Arecibo--will not only have to deal with the hugest of cesspools, he or she will now have to deal with the "Board" as well.

What a crock of shit.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

27 November 2009

Black (Humor) Friday

According to some lamebrain Newsweek writer, none other than Our very own lamebrain excuse for a (non)governor, Luis "The Larva" Fortuño, is an "absurdly premature" name on the list of potential Republican Presidential candidates for 2012.




Fortuño-Palin for 2012?! One massacres English with a hokey accent and the other is The Larva.


Fortuño-Palin for 2012?! Are they gonna arm wrestle for the Oval Office? Palin'll kick The Larva's ass.


On an economic note more in tune with the day after stuffing turkey and stuffing oneself with said stuffed turkey, a turkey of a former NPP representative by the unlikely name of Nelson Del Valle (Nelson of the Valley...of the Dolls?) reported that $101,200 in cash was stolen from his home.

HAHAHAHAAHHahahawhatthe fuck?!!

One hundred one thousand two hundred dollars? In freaking cash?!? And, uh, Mr. Turkey Valley, why did you have said amount of cash in your house?

"My mom gave it to me."


Really, Mr. Turkey Valley? Your mommy--haha--gave you--HAhahaha--more than--HAHAHAHAhahahaha--one hundred thousand--HAHAHAHAHAahahahahHAHAHA--dollars? HAHAHAHAHAahhaahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHA


Or maybe it was an absurdly premature campaign contribution to "Fortuño-Palin 2012".


The Jenius Has Spoken. 

26 November 2009

Thanksgiving Day

It is Thanksgiving Day...

Thanks for My Son's health, wit, attitude and charm. 

Thanks for My Sweetheart's presence in My life, her smile, her support and (you knew this was coming) her patience.

Thanks for My Family's well-being and sharing, for the constant connection through ups and downs.

Thanks for My Colleagues who see Me as a valuable resource, a fountain of creativity and wisdom and a sterling companion. Or don't and tell Me so on a weekly basis.

Thanks for Special Friends who share their joys and sorrows with Me, who come to Me to unburden or simply to explore what they can't with others. 

Thanks for Distant Friends who never seem as far away as the map would tell. They're in My Heart and thus, ever near.

Thanks for the challenges and obstacles, the accidents and surprises, the odd and the disjointed, for it keeps Me playing hard and amused.

Thanks for reading The Jenius. 

The Jenius Has Spoken.

25 November 2009

Blame Game(smanship)

"Merely observing someone publicly blame an individual in an organization for a problem -- even when the target is innocent -- greatly increases the odds that the practice of blaming others will spread with the tenacity of the H1N1 flu, according to new research from the USC Marshall School of Business and Stanford University."

Okay, I'm listening.

"Nathanael J. Fast, an assistant professor of management and organization at the USC Marshall School of Business and Larissa Tiedens, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford, conducted four different experiments and found that publicly blaming others dramatically increases the likelihood that the practice will become viral. The reason: blame spreads quickly because it triggers the perception that one's self-image is under assault and must be protected."

No? Really? Stupid politicians. What else have they done?

"'When we see others protecting their egos, we become defensive too,' says Fast, the study's lead author. 'We then try to protect our own self-image by blaming others for our mistakes, which may feel good in the moment.' He adds that in the long run, such behavior could hurt one's reputation and be destructive to an organization and further to our society as a whole."

Oh, "protecting egos"? As in "insecure"? Maybe even "cowardly"?

"Fast says that when public blaming becomes common practice -- especially by leaders -- its effects on an organization can be insidious and withering: Individuals who are fearful of being blamed for something become less willing to take risks, are less innovative or creative, and are less likely to learn from their mistakes.

'Blame creates a culture of fear," Fast said, "and this leads to a host of negative consequences for individuals and for groups.'"

We can see that. Nice to know there's some science behind Our common sense here.

"Anyone can become a blamer, Fast says, but there are some common traits. Typically, they are more ego defensive, have a higher likelihood of being narcissistic, and tend to feel chronically insecure."

Someone whose super-ego and id frolic as self-love while the clash makes him/her anxious about his/her self-worth... That person would need public attention and evidence of external power to validate themselves and anything that threatens that power/attention construct must be rejected or at least redirected. Therefore creating an internal power/attention construct would reduce the need for defensiveness and blaming. Right?

"The tendency for blame to spread was completely eliminated in a group of participants who had the opportunity to affirm their self-worth."

That's what I said. 

Okay: Blaming is bad. Blaming comes from defensiveness which comes from incompetence and insecurity. (C'mon, if you're good at what you do and feel secure, you can shrug off mistakes.) Insecurity can't be cured by force...but incompetence can, especially in government and especially willful incompetence such as malfeasance or fraud.

Blaming is not productive. It merely points a finger at the iceberg as the ship takes on water. But pinpointing, exemplifying, highlighting, indicating, noticing, these can be often confused with blaming when in fact, blaming is defensive and the others are--in a way--offensive: they aim to take action. Saying that Fool A screwed up is blaming; saying that Fool A has screwed up in similar fashion several times and and is patently unfit to be in the position he is in is pointing out a trend and coming to a conclusion. (Exhibit A: William Ubiñas, former Federal Affairs Director of the local (un)Department of (Mis)Education.)

As a commentator, there is a fine line between blaming and being an analyst. In a society where "Not Me!" and "Cover My ass!" have become as ubiquitous as breathing, anyone who seems harsh and negative against others can be seen as contributing to the problem. But there's a crucial difference: blaming is part of the citizen's duties in a democracy. Assigning responsibility for what goes wrong is Our ultimate power with government. And yet, very few of Us do so unless political partisanship is involved, so We now get these constant ridiculous spectacles from Our government day after day and only a handful of Us do Our duty. In a fairy tale ending, everyone will point the finger of blame about the Emperor's parading unclothed, but very few would come right and say "The Fool is naked. And stupid."

The Jenius Has Spoken.

24 November 2009

Underground Economy, Part III

Thanks again to Janine Mendes-Franco for selecting another Jenius post to appear on Global Voices Online. 

This won't take long...

Add the long tail of a 3-year recession/depression, with an economy tanking like Andre Agassi on crystal meth, with the government finally "forcing" the economic move that was two decades overdue--the firing of government pinheaded parasites--and toss in the repeal of the idiotic Closing Law now letting loose the forces of "shop 'til you drop" mania and what do you get?

Underground economy, Part III.

Part I was the basic "a little cash on the side and off the books" that kept Us slightly above water for decades.

Part II was the rocket-blast impulse to perfect the underground economy due to the new 7% sales tax, which as I predicted, ended up having an impact closer to 13-14% on the consumer and fell far short of projected revenue for the government. Note the widespread increase in "flea markets" and home-based businesses and a perceived increase in online shopping.

Part III will take the online aspect even further, but not as a tidal wave rush to embrace Internet technology, but as a way to bypass local stores for goods. Expect an increase in visits to websites such as Clasificados Online (the most-visited website in Puerto Rico) and a greater number of "barter" systems based on pooling resources. Facebook would be the venue for that movement.

Why? Uncertainty clashes with the seasonal consumer hunger to buybuybuy in order to feel "the Christmas spirit." A culture that views savings as money badly in need of spending is not going to let the vague spectre of a worsening economy make him or her back down from the Prozac-like relief that spending money brings them. So they will buybuybuy...

...But slightly smarter than before. More cash, less credit. More Internet searching, less mall crawling. More flea market and "I know a guy" than Sears-K-mart and "There's a sale!" More options that involve less money changing hands, preferably where the sales tax does not apply.

As the (smart) economists say, the recession is the recovery, but We don't see it that way. Our way is to buy Our way out of a bad cycle. Too bad We aren't fixing the bad cycle: We're just adapting better to it.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

23 November 2009

Jenius: Tone and Momentum

Thanks to Jenius Reader/Commenter Pax, I've become a little more aware of what I say and how I say it. From Day One of The Jenius, I've had gentle and even very ungentle reactions from My posts, in terms of words, concepts and tone.

Uh-huh. So?

Pax brings up a cogent point in one of his comments to "We're Number 35! We're Number 35!" in that a negative tone and sarcasm are not conducive to change and that by engaging in that manner, one contributes to the problem and not the solution.

Agreed. A positive attitude does help and I have commented long before Pax that I get down on Myself for the consistent negativity, a trait I don't evince in My off-Jenius life. However, I see The Jenius as the darker side and the permanent record of things I tend to say in public, about politicians, business leaders, the media and the gamut of topics covered here.

Does it make me right? No, My tone is probably--if not certainly--wrong. What makes Me right are My ideas, the framework they are presented in and the conclusions, which are very often right. Could I improve on it? Seems to me I could only do so by altering the tone...and I don't want to do that. Calling a muddy spade a dirty shovel is satisfying. Encapsulating a defective political leader with a nickname is fun (if you oppose him/her; otherwise, it ticks you off. Like I care.) And pointing out that what Our "leaders" are trying to do almost NEVER has anything to do with OUR welfare but has EVERYTHING to do with THEIRS--and WHY--is absolutely necessary--because not enough of Us are doing it.

Yes, We have tons of problems. Yes, We should try to enhance the dialogue rather than add to the shouting. But here's the thing: until you get the other's person full attention, you don't have a chance at a meaningful dialogue. If My tone brings someone up short and makes them pause, good: it's a start. If My framing of a situation makes a person tilt their head and say "Hey, I didn't see that before," good: it's an inkling of motion. If My conclusions and predictions are borne out as they often are, good: it creates momentum.

There will come a day, if I keep this up long enough, when enough people will see what I have done, absorb what I have presented and learned to separate the ounces of wheat from the megatons of chaff. They will add their voices, not to Mine, but to make a more meaningful dialogue happen. And that will help make a difference.

Do I believe that? I have 848 often snarky examples over nearly 5 years that clearly answer that question.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

20 November 2009

Larva "Leadership" Lowdown

From the blog Dumb Little Man, The 7 Signs of a Leader. Let's compare the list to Our very own (non)governor Luis "The Larva" Fortuño, shall We?:

1) Vision
Leaders are visionaries; they know where they’re going, and their committed to bringing others along. They have a clear vision of what they want to accomplish and their vision is so compelling that it inspires others to participate in the fulfillment of the vision.

Leaders (a) know where they're going, thus (b) have a vision and (c) the vision is crafted so as to inspire others. The Larva fails at (a)...thus failing at (b) and (c).

2) Discipline
Leaders are disciplined individuals! They are the first partaker of what they preach and they exemplify unprecedented discipline, focus, and commitment in the achievement of their vision.

If by "discipline" one means "stubborn use of inactivity and mealy-mouthiness," then We have a winner.

3) Emotional Strength
Leaders are not easily shaken. Leaders anticipate challenges and are not derailed by obstacles. Leaders remain strong when things get tough; they don’t faint when adversity strikes.

Leaders have an amazing level of emotional strength.

I don't think The Larva has fainted when confronted with challenges, but We can make a case for "lost his mind," "went catatonic" or My favorite "Set brain on 'Stun'!"

4) Experience
Leaders have experience. In other words, they’ve been around the block a few times and they know where they’re going. Their experience has taught them how to get things done and they can differentiate between activity and accomplishment, between efficiency and effectiveness.

Leaders focus their efforts on the tasks that produce the greatest rewards.

The "hidden" aspect here is that a leader embodies the "Been there, learned from that" principle, whereas  The Larva is more a "Been there and here I am again" kinda guy.

5) Respect
Leaders are respected and trusted individuals. Leaders have earned the respect of their followers by becoming an “example.” They chart the course, follow their destiny, and inspire others in the process.

Leaders are respected because they earn respect. The second they demand respect is the second they are no longer a leader.

The Larva has lost this battle: before the elections, when his party openly resisted his campaign and when he won, when party members made it very clear he was nowhere near being "The Man." Course not: he's The Larva.

6) People Skills
Leaders have great people skills; they are friendly to the unfriendly, they know how to respond in every situation. Leaders do not engage in personal battles, they save their strength for the task at hand.

Leaders treat people with respect and dignity; they connect with others on a personal and emotional level.

Really good "people skills" don't include hiring--and tolerating--people with verbal diarrhea, pre-taping a key policy speech on the firing of government workers and blaming the media when an egg whizzes by. Nor does it include changing your "final" decisions several times.

7) Momentum and Timing
Finally, leaders know how to create momentum, and they know when to act. Nothing great is ever accomplished without momentum and timing.

If by "momentum" you mean "not advancing at all, like a bald-tired, underpowered clunker on glass sprayed with WD-40," then yes, The Larva is momentum personified. As for timing, he uses a calendar for 3-minute eggs. 'Nuff said.

Okay, thus endeth the Leadership Lowdown for today. Please head for the exits. Next showing in 48 hours.

The Jenius Has Quoted.

19 November 2009

The Jenius Writes

Stared out My window for a minute, pondering. I've just finished Deborah Tannen's book The Argument Culture and it made Me pause.

For one, it pinpoints the problem We have with both communication and media in Our day, in the U.S. of part of A. and, by "monkey see, monkey do" imitation, Puerto Rico:

---Polarization, the either/or rhetoric that sees only black or white; gray is a color, too.

---Shrillness and loudness as a very poor substitute for thoughtful analysis and modest pronouncements.

---The cult of the sound bite, short, pithy, memorable and often as wrong as a baby on a barbecue grill. 

---Confrontation as a means to a "victory" instead of the means to uncovering greater truths.

And so on. Of course, I looked at the book's points in comparison to The Jenius, and I found plenty of common ground:

---A tendency to demonize rather than strictly analyze.

---Personal attacks that aren't part of the discussion. Larva or Jellyfish, anyone?

---A consistently critical tone, product of a near-continuous negative outlook.

Yup, if the shoe fits, throw it at the murderous moron. The Jenius does have aspects that fall into Tannen's analysis of "an argument culture." But here's where The Jenius rises above that limited perspective:

---A focus on defining the issue in order to present the argument. "Define your terms" is the basis for any cogent discussion. If I call Pedro Rosselló Stupid--and heaven knows I do--it's not because of personal animosity, but because based on his defined terms concerning his leadership abilities and (total lack of) knowledge regarding the widespread corruption that permeated his close advisors and his (mis)administration, only Stupid fits his definitions.  So I call him Stupid. Conclusively.

Without defining the terms, one can only present a bubble in a vacuum, not an argument of merit. The Jenius always defines his terms and thus creates the basis for a cogent discussion

---A willingness to look at more evidence. Time and again The Jenius revisits a topic and gives it another look-see. That alone would disqualify Me from ever being a Republican.

---A willingness--reluctant, but managed--to admit being wrong. Doesn't happen often, but The Jenius--I--admit when I'm wrong. Obviously if I were as wrong as the Fools, I'd have no reason, sense or potential to ever speak again.

So why the self-analysis? Because a finger constantly pointing outwards is the physical cramp of a dead mind. The Jenius is not perfect. He freely admits to hating politicans and thus is not an objective observer of that lowest form of life. (See?) He sometimes thinks the worst of a Fool and his/her actions, but is often proven right. And in a culture that does not read, barely can manage English and thinks the Internet is for socializing and porn, he expects his words to actually make a difference,

And yet, The Jenius writes because he wants to see a bigger, better, bolder, brighter Puerto Rico. A place that lives up to its promise of being "The Island of Enchanment." To someday witness this Isle of the Caribbean exuding the power and passion of its minds and hearts in building a greater future. He writes to shine a light on what he cannot change directly, while working on what he can.

The Jenius writes to argue for Us. Some hear that, loud and clear. But not enough. Heaven knows, not nearly enough.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

18 November 2009

We're Number 35! We're Number 35!

I have got to take a look at this.

Transparency International has just released its 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The CPI score indicates the perceived level of public-sector corruption in a country/territory, based on up to 13 surveys. You can read about the methodology here. (Why is the methodology important? Because it avoids the Internet Society of Puerto Rico syndrome of "Yanking Numbers Out of One's Ass.")

Who were the top finishers, the world leaders in confidence and low levels of corruption? The Top 10 are: New Zealand, Denmark, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland, Netherlands, Australia, Canada and Iceland. (The country's bankrupt, but honest.)

Uh, where did the U.S. of part of A. finish? 19th, after an England-Japan tie.

And Us? We're Number 35! 

A few remarks: There's a good number of Nordic countries there in the Top 10, with extensive social welfare political structures, based on very high (50+%) taxation and highly-regulated economies. Does it mean these systems are better? Not really, as 5 of the other six (Singapore being the exception) are "open" democracies with less taxation, although as noted, Iceland is practically broke. (But they will eat healthier now.)

Here's the 2009 Top 10 in the Competitiveness Index: Switzerland, U.S., Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Canada and Netherlands. Notice that 7 of these are also in the Top 10 of the CPI list. You could say there's a higher correlation between lack of corruption and competitivenss than there is to political structure and competitiveness. Especially if you note that the three "Not Top 10" on the CPI list (Germany ranked 14th) are now-traditional powerhouse economies combining natural resources and industrialization to very high degrees, whereas the smaller economies are competitive largely because they are more transparent.

So the lesson for Us is: Transparency is a distinct, measurable and thus tangible competitive advantage. Let Me make it clear to the Fools in terms they can understand: Less corruption means more money for all of Us.

I just lost them. Big whoop.

Note that Puerto Rico only has 4 of the 13 surveys upon which to base the end result on. Why only 4? The other 9 didn't get a big enough bribe to fill in lies.

Or not. Just saying.

But in the wake of Manny Pacquiao's dismantling of Our Miguel Cotto, We can take up the cry of "We're Number 35! We're Number 35!" and take heart in the fact that We were tied for 36th last year.


The Jenius Has Spoken.

17 November 2009

Power Plays

The comments that prompted Me to go daily rather than three times a week--I'm referring to Jenius posts--made Me realize something: The oligarchy that runs Our country into the ground has gotten smaller, but the overall pool of potential "oligarchists" has gotten larger.

Let Me explain. My friend's rant about how "Those people have gained control" was tinged with more than just a soupçon of "And they left me out!"  However, over the past decade, the number of participants with the oligarchy has increased. Proof? Look at the number of scandals involving corruption. There's a wider cast of (lack of) characters ranging from business people to clerical staff and the possibility of joining into the power-junkie fray is thus demonstrably wider.

This pattern of a "smaller oligarchy, but larger candidate pool" is not new. It dates, in fact, to about World War I and proved to be extremely effective at running a country...into the ground. Although that took some 60+ years and with Our talent base, We could beat that record by 20-30 years easily.

Who created this form of government control? Vladimir Lenin, placing the Communist Party as the "pool" and what eventually became the Politburo as the "inner circle," the true oligarchy. The "pool" was much larger than the old aristocracy, but the "inner circle" was actually smaller than the size of the Romanov-nobles groups and their direct supporters, so although more people had "access" to power, the resulting level of oligarchic control was actually higher. Since getting into the "inner circle" was theoretically possible, but under the control of the oligarchy, people worked harder at pleasing the oligarchy and staying away from its bad side in order to become Communist Party members and maybe rise to Politburo power.

Now don't go half-cocked and say I'm equating the current oligarchy in power with the flatulent failure of the Communist Party. They aren't that smart. What I am saying is that the pattern is the same: smaller "power" group, but partnered with a "certain doors open" policy that leaves My friend definitely on the outs, but allows others--selected others--in.

We could call it the Fajardo Syndrome in honor of former secretary of education Victor "Jailbird" Fajardo, a lameass would-be teacher who was appointed by Pedro Stupid Rosselló to run the biggest department in Our government based on one criteria and one criteria alone: Jailbird's ability to raise money for the statehood party.

(Objections, statehooders? I'm surprised. I thought you'd be waaaay past non-righteous indignation and be fully into rigid denial by now.)

But that's a bad example because the oligarchy used a mental and moral defective to benefit from his money-grubbing skills and when he went illegal on their butts, they dumped him. (Yes, the phrasing, nuances and analogy are all appropriate for the topic and subject. Let's just agree I'm right and move on.)

Who "proved" that the Leninist system worked? A cobbler's son, country-bred, who moved boldly into a position of notice, then quickly rose through the ranks of power with unadulterated ambition and when Lenin died, seized the opportunity to run the country. Into the ground.

His (changed) name: Joseph Stalin.

Whenever the Communist Party wanted to "prove" it was "open" (and Stalin was the Communist Party), he/they pointed to the story of "a peasant overcoming poverty to serve the nation." Skip the romantic angle of the story and you'll see the subtext: "anyone" can belong, "anyone" can gain power, but only if "anyone" does what the oligarchy chooses to support.

Now where's the tie-in here, on Our Island? Who's the person who will "prove" that a outsider can make it to "the inner circle"? Who was selected, annointed if you will, to take the first steps on the road to oligarchy? Who took that notice and parlayed it--with open ambition--into a seat well within the realm of inner power? Who is waiting for the opportunity to reach for and seize the pedestal of ultimate power?

None other than current (out)house of representatives president Jenniffer "Gluttonny" González.

--Selected in 2002 to replace Edison "Child Rapist and Crook" Misla, a former outhouse president himself with Rohypnol on the brain.

--Immediately placed--note the emphasis--on the key House Treasury Committee.

--Elected in 2004 as an At-Large (I...will...not...say...it...) Representative, meaning her party base was wide enough (no...don't...say...anything...) to develop broad (oh...god...no...) appeal, a task that took less than two years. For a rookie politician.

--Held or holds various key party positions, a clear strategy of creating and cementing a power base, in essence, moving from the outside to the deepest inside, culminating in becoming the youngest (out)house of representatives president in Our history.

--Open and early supporter of Luis "The Larva" Fortuño, current (non)governor, but someone I predicted she would dump as quickly as feasible in order to satisfy her own ambition. And she already has.

Now there are only two ways this woman compares to Stalin, who was a vicious thug and mass murderer of historic proportions: she's openly ambitious (with a careful facade) and she's seeking her goal in a similar power structure framework.

Let's see how fast she becomes the "poster child" for the "anyone can belong, anyone can do it" Big Lie campaign.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

16 November 2009

Questionable Quest

Here's a head-scratcher: According to a local fish-wrapping rag named El Nuevo Día, Our (Faux)Secretary of (Mis)Education, Carlos "What? Me Worry?" Chardón is going to Qatar.

In fact, he is there right now, unless Qatar barred his entry.

For you statehooders, Qatar is an island in the Persian Gulf. For you commonwealthers, the Persian Gulf is east of Africa. Which is a continent. Africa, not the Gulf.

Why is the Bumbling Behemoth going to Qatar, the only country whose name begins with a "q"? To foul the air of the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE)

This after Selector of Drug Trafficker basically sold out a major chunk of the local Education department's present and future budget by continuing to suck at the Microsoft cesspool instead of exploring the many viable open source options that cost Us--Us, the freaking taxpayers--nothing.

Apparently the Worry-free Whale has everything under control...unless you count the horrendous showing Our students had on standardized tests (Example: less than 1% of Our high schol students scored "Proficient" in Math)...unless you count the fact that the Federal government is again threatening to slap the department and government with the "You Be Crooked" stamp...unless you count that the Federal Affairs Office is in the hands of someone who came on board less than two weeks ago...that the firings throughout the department are frozen, creating greater uncertainty...that there are several investigations going on concerning potential fraud in the use of ARRA and Title funds dating to this year alone...and that there's an increasing outbreak of violence and even swine flu in Our schools.

Nope, Overgrown Oaf is on the ball. In Qatar. Says technology can keep him in close touch. Uh-huh. Like the Fire Chief can put out the fire in San Juan while on vacation in Mazatlán.

Am I implying the Broad Bulge is on vacation? Of course...not. Uh, no. No! He's, uh, trying to find solutions to Our educational problems...in the farthest fucking corner of the planet he can imagine because his fat brain and fat-assed cronies can't find any solutions anywhere closer. 

That or he's getting out of Dodge before the sheriffs show up. Either way, he's wasting his time and Our money,

Here's the thing: We are at the point in Our educational system where it isn't a matter of finding a solution in a desert, it's a matter of implementing proven ideas, processes and techniques that you can find in about an hour's worth of research on the Web. (Note to the Jumbo Jetsetter: The Web, too, is a technology that can keep you in touch with your job. The right way. Not like the 767 you just wedged yourself into.)

Here's an example: The Kumon Math method. Yes, it's a business, but it has a method. Same as Montessori: a conceptual framework for education. No one has to go to Qatar or Liechtenstein or Myanmar to "learn" about education. Here's the quick list of sources the Voluminous Vagabond can use to find good ideas closer to home: teachers, edcuation students and entrepreneurs. 

--Teachers: Yeah yeah yeah, I call most of them "too lazy and too stupid to do any other job," but there are plenty of dedicated men and women who do know how to teach and have ideas that could make a world of difference. And if you want to visit a "q" place, Super-Sized Secretar(iat), may I suggest "Quebradillas"?

--Education students: They don't know better, having no experience with the actual classroom, so they are bound to latch onto some things that just sound cool. And given that We have sucked at almost everything We've tried to do to fix education, letting over-eager wannabes bring their energy and something cool to the classroom could be a step in the right direction. It's not like We're making a ton of progress now, is it?

--Entrepreneurs: Kumon is a business concept centered on education results.  It works because it damn well better work or some other business concept centered on education will come along and kick its sorry ass to the curb. We need results--results, dammit--not wild goose chases and butt-buddy thievery masquerading as "Taking care of Our most important asset."

And if that quick list doesn't inspire the Immense Idlemind to seek solutions, I once again suggest he crank up Explorer on his Windows 7 P(iece of) C(rap)--paid for by Our idiotic generosity--and browse around until the silicon version of swine flu wipes out his hard drive.

The he can use Linux and the quick list to get some REAL work done.

The Jenius Has Spoken. 

13 November 2009

Privatize Federal Fund Management Now

Look, I'm still celebrating MY BIRTHDAY!!, it's Friday the 13th and I have The Sports Guys' The Book of Basketball to get back to, so here's the skinny:

Let's privatize Federal fund management in Puerto Rico. Now.

No, it can be done, And I submit it has to be.

Outside of retirement, pension and Medicare payments--that are almost exclusively handled by the Federal government--Puerto Rico receives some $6.7 billion a year in other federal transfers, monies that go (or are supposed to go) to education, housing, social services and the like.

But Let's take Education as an example, specifically the Federal Affairs Office. Aside from formerly having a convicted drug dealer as its pinhead, the Office itself has about 230 employees. (Keep that in mind.) Despite receiving over $380 million a year (with a local budget of about $1.1 billion) and receiving additional grants averaging about $260 million a year for the past 9 nine years, the (Lackwit)Department of (Mis)Education has over $1 billion in unassigned federal funds.

That's right: the local excuse for a Tweedledeefective/Tweedledummy Convention has monies in hand, stagnant, equal to its own annual budget.

And yet the Federal Affairs Office has 230 employees. California has about 6,252,000 students enrolled in its public school system; Puerto Rico has about 597,000, or about 9% of The Governator's demesne. By that ratio, California should have about 2,630 government employees to manage federal education funds, right?  

It has about 770.

---Puerto Rico: 230 employees to serve 597,000 students "moving" about $1.6 billion in State/Federal funds. That's 2,596 students/$6.96 million per employee.

---California: 770 employees to serve 6,252,000 students moving about $64 billion in State/Federal funds. That's 8,119 students/$83.12 million per employee.

Multiply that level of inefficiency shown above by a couple of dozen agencies at the State and Municipal levels and there is no rational argument against privatizing Federal fund management in Puerto Rico.

Here's the short list of benefits:

1) Reduced costs: I asked several highly-experienced people--in Education and even the Federal Affairs Office itself-- how many employees it would take to run the operation effectively and they all concurred it would take between 24 and 44. That's about 10-15% of the actual employee count. Say We need 60, to cover contingencies and new approaches; We'd still be saving the salary/wage packages of 170 or so dimwads. That's a start. Multiply that by all other agencies, using integration rather than job-cramming and you have major savings.

2) Enhanced focus: In March of 2009, I asked a long-time employee of the Federal Affairs Office how many people were assigned to identifying opportunities for new Education programs, i.e., locating grant programs and creating proposal plans to enhance local education. Out of 230 employees? None. Let Me repeat thet: n-o-n-e. And they only had 2 grantwriters whose total output over the previous 18 months was 10 proposals, n-o-n-e of which received funding. Note that these are not assigned funds, these are competitive funds, funds that can launch new programs or exploit opportunities. Not only was there no one "on watch," We have Little Leaguers where We need at least Double-A level. With a privatized agency, the more money coming in, the more it can do, unlike these feebs for whom more money is akin to contracting swine flu.

3) Effective fund disbursement: The reason Education has a backlog of funds and non-profits wait months for Municipalities to release federal funds (that they cannot use at all, but keep anyway) is because there is no incentive in government to release monies. The end result, to the government, is not a consideration. But as non-profits and private companies know, end results are everything, and fund disbursement under a privatized agency would work on the principle of "Money out = Results/Data in," the kind of feedback system the Federal government demands and seldom gets from the Our government.

4) Solutions-oriented mindset: Related to point #3, the backlog in Education, Housing and other departments is due to no one caring enough to tackle the issue of finding solutions, plans or methods to use the monies, and no one having enough responsibility to do so. When 230 are "in charge" of this, no one is really in charge. 

5) Transparency: A private agency, starting from scratch, would be developed to match Federal disbursement, management and reporting standards to a T. Now for those of you who think that this means "catering or kowtowing to gringos," let Me remind you of one basic, undeniable Truth: It's their money so it's their rules. We take their money, We play by their rules, but whereas Our government plays "keepaway" with the funds, We can have an agency that plays "straight up." I don't care if you think that's "catering," but I bet you're willing to take the benefit of gringo money if it came cheaper, faster and more directly to your pocket. 

Right? Of course you would. And they'd be happier, too. That's called a win-win situation, something We have to learn to stop paying (hypocritical) lip service to and make it a regular tool in Our mental toolbox.

And before you ask, how big do I think the private fund management agency would be and who would work in it? I see a 90-120 employee office staffed with fully bilingual personnel, of which 30% are accountants, auditors and lawyers (27-36), 10% are agency management (9-12 "executives") and the rest are split between Fund Managers, people whose job it is to match available funds to qualified recipients as quickly as possible, and Fund Finders, people who match needs to federal fund programs and do so by writing the required proposals. 

This means that employees are clearly and directly responsible for the funds they are assigned to manage or the needs they are assigned to act upon. This allows effectiveness to be measured simply and quickly and We know that what gets measured gets done and improves.

And would the agency hire any of the substituted employees dumped from the government? Only if they pass a written test on English and Spanish skills and can explain in 5 minutes or less how any specific fund program can be implemented and improved within local conditions. Yes, I'm saying they have to be tested, otherwise the agency would be hiring the very problem it is trying to replace.

And how would the agency be funded? Easy: from the savings on the government side and from funds received through grant proposals. If it isn't self-sufficient after Year One, it isn't privatized. And if it isn't effective by the end of Year Two, it gets dismantled over time to let agencies and the government take over.

But that wouldn't happen because when it comes to handling government money, the government is the worst manager possible.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

12 November 2009


Just when you thought I'd forgotten: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!

Everyone that knows ME!! for longer than, oh, 15 minutes, knows I'll slip in My Birthday a couple of times at first, then ever so often in every conversation as The Blessed Day gets near, like say, beginning in March.

Not everyone knows, though, that I do so because I genuinely like birthdays and do My best to reME!!mber those of My family, friends and colleagues (those that want to share them.)

I have been know to wear a "Birthday Boy" faux-blue ribbon medal on My fedora, cap or shirt on the odd day (most of My days are odd, thank you very much) and it tickles ME!! when people smile and ask "Is it your birthday?" and I get to say "No, but I'm celebrating it anyway!"

Unless the person is a walking dead, they smile and think it's a good idea. (Exception: some women I know, who would rather NOT have their birthday mentioned at all, thank you very much. Sad.)

So what is the takeaway from this year, on this, The Most Perfect Of All Days, My Birthday?


Business picked up quite well for ME!!, been very busy, better focus on ME!! and My projects.

I'm engaged. Getting married next August. You might be invited.

Realized I'd been settling for less and amped up the Go Get It ME!!ter; it paid off.

Took on several new challenges in projects that are "out there," but coming closer to being "somewhat implausible" rather than "What the hell are you trying to do?"

Having a blast with My new workstyle--more creative, less reactive--though I'm still trying to find a new work/rest/play balance.

Did I mention I'm getting married? Did I mention My Friends are very happy for ME!!--I mean, Us--but then turn around and ask the fortunate lady "Are you sure you know what you're doing?" Happened several times already. Okay, happened every time already. Sheesh.

And I've cranked up the Jenius Juice to not only take on the good, bad and the large amount of ugly happening on My Island, but also to give ME!! another birthday salute...

Yes, the first letter of every paragraph is all for ME!!

The Jenius Has Spoken.

11 November 2009

Not Then, Not Now, Not Ever

This won't take long...

Oklahoma -- 1907

New Mexico -- 1912

Arizona -- 1912

Alaska -- 1959

Hawaii -- 1959

Puerto Rico has been the property of the U.S. of part of A. since 1898. Three States were added since the Spanish-American War to form the contiguous 48. The addition of non-contiguous states happened once, for Alaska and Hawaii, 61 years after Puerto Rico became war booty.

To complete the nationalization and permanence of the territorial limits in geopolitical terms, essentially, to make everybody belong to the same government, it made perfect sense to add Oklahoma (in the central portion of the country, for you statehooders) and Arizona and New Mexico in the southwest (on the border with Mexico, for you commonwealthers.) 

Adding Alaska, a landmass equal to roughly 25% of the entire "lower 48", and Hawaii, a Pacific sinecure, also made sense, as both were long-held territories where American interests were ripe for development. In the case of Alaska, it turned into federal reserves; in Hawaii, tourism-related development.

So, if--IIIIIFFFFF--Puerto Rico were to ever become a State djqwgfcbkfegkgdsklipkx (sorry, I fell on My keyboard laughing), it seems that post-1898 has shown what the basic criteria are for being invited:

1) Political expediency, i.e., the forging of a potentially stronger political unit, or

2) Economic enhancement.

Do We satisfy either or both of them?

Hell no.

By 1959, We were already being plucked by American interests and as they say in My neck of the woods: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? (Usually reserved for discussing pre-marital sex, but given the sad reality of Our economy, the intercourse analogy holds up well, doncha think?) There's no doubt the U.S. of part of A. makes tons of money off of Us, so statehood is really not an economic enhancement for them and in fact, is widely considered either a chance to carry freeloaders or a bottomless pit of economic rehabilitation. Usually both.

So what about political expediency? Well, We're not Anglo-Saxons. Or Protestants. Or native English speakers. Or descendants of the same parts of Europe that they are. Toss out all that as a unifying factor. We are way south of the border, and unlike Alaska, We are tiny with no natural resources and unlike Hawaii, We don't occupy a strategic location under U.S. interests. We did in 1940; We didn't by 1945.

If Puerto Rico--in the eyes of its political owners--were deemed worthy of statehood, it would have been decided between 1912 and 1945, when Our economy was nonexistent, the potential for American sacking--er, investment--was very high, Our strategic location could have been considered vital, Our population small enough (and in their eyes, stupid enough) to absorb and the "lower 48" were a unitary done deal. That it didn't happen then means it ain't gonna happen at all. Ever.

The sooner a good chunk of Us get that through Our heads the sooner We can focus on other matters, like finding a new path to Our development that doesn't involve begging a jaded suitor with what's left of Our decrepit charms. What's past is past, but as long as We continue acting that what's past should happen now, We will continue to look back with muddled eyes instead of forward with sharp ones.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

10 November 2009

Ain't Enough


The "big" protest of October 15th led to massive action erupting from thousands of dissatisfied people that has the Fools trembling in their diapers, has rocked the dark underbelly of Our Society and has flung open the long-closed Door to a Better Future.

Uh-huh. In your dreams.

What was the general remark after October 15th?: "Let's see what happens on November 6th." The day the government firings were supposed to take place. And didn't.

No, "the people" and "their protest" can't take the credit for the non-firings: I've already made a case for the real reason and over time, as the evidence mounts, We will get the chance to evaluate the events in their proper perspective and We will all see that I am right.


Given the economic depression and government decadence We are simply awash in, like a long-standing cesspool, where's the massive uprising, the revolutionary spark, the "Tear down the oligarchy!" passion that so many of you--of you, My Brethren--have spouted so much mouthgas about?

Ain't none. Or more acurately, ain't enough.

According to the theory defined in the Logic of Political Survival, by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Alastair Smith, Randolph Siverson and James Morrow, revolutions--and that is what We are talking about--depend greatly on the amount of public goods and the perceived risk of their success or failure to come about. In brief:

---If public goods decrease, the risk of revolution increases, but the success of the revolution decreases.

---If public goods increase, the risk of revolution decreases, but the success potential of a revolution also increases.

Why is this? The amount of public goods (services, money, infrastructure) is a key component for a revolution's success: the greater the amount and quality of public goods, the easier it is to "take over" those goods because they are organized and readily available, although obviously, because of their widespread access and quality, the motivation to do so decreases.

This seems counter-intuitive, since the image of revolution is the romantic notion of a passionate group of freedom fighters (or reformers or blockheads or thugs) storming the Establishment and overthrowing the powers that be by dint of righteousness and a few well-placed weapon caches. That's the romantic notion. And it is wrong.

A revolution need not be violent, but it must be swift and decisive. A revolution by definition is a radical change, happening quickly and that fundamentally alters the status quo. It isn't the sweeping away of what exists: it is the forceful redirection of what exists.


If there are few public goods, destroying them is easier than redirecting them, but destroying these public goods dooms a revolution to a seriously uphill climb. Trying to destroy widespread, quality public goods is a hugely difficult task, but redirecting them is much easier.

Now the questionnaire before Us is:

Do We have increasing public goods or decreasing public goods? I think it's safe to say We have decreasing public goods and have for some time.

Is the quality and access of these goods limited-easier to destroy--or widespread and adequate--thus easier to redirect? The answer is clearly that the public goods We have are widespread and adequate. Don't agree? Some 64% of Our people are on government dole. Case closed.

Is the risk--to the Fools in their diapers--thus higher now than it was before? Yes, it most certainly is. Giving this much thought and seeing how We've reacted after the October 15th MiniMarch on the Mall, I'd say that on a scale of 1 to 100, with 80 being "The Revolution is On! Fire Tweets at Will!" I'd say the risk of the revolution happening went from 4 to 6.

Maybe 7.

The Jenius Has Spoken.