29 May 2009

The Puerto Rican Way

Today Our government downsized some 7,800+ employees, the vast majority of them temporary workers in the Department of Education; the rest were a small blend from other agencies.

Big. Fat. Hairy. Deal.

Yes, yes I know these are ex-workers who now face a higher degree of uncertainty in their lives. My response to that is: Boo. Hoo.

And before you fire a "But what if it happened to you?" at Me, I can fire first: I would never work as a government employee. I'm too damn smart. So there.

The fact remains that 7,800-something employees is but 10%--or maybe less--of the fat that needs to be trimmed from the government overbloat, a reckless excess that dates back to the late 1960s and has continued unabated until today. Maybe. Because unless it continues and gets into the 30,000-50,000 jobs cut range, today's cut will merely be another small bump down the long road to collapse.

Our pathetic excuse for a government has created, as Jenius Friend Kevin Shockey points out, the closest thing to a socialized democracy there is in the U.S. of part of A. Some 23% of all Our workers are directly employed by the government and some 24% more are indirectly employed. Toss in the hordes that do nothing else but sponge off of welfare and you can say that 60-70% of Our adults are purely government wards.

The situation is worse because the increase in goverment jobs came at the expense of Our economic growth, superficially bolstering income statistics and consumer spending while true economic growth and its motors (industry, business, entrepreneurism, research) were treated like venereal diseases.

And lest We ignore this point, both major parties and every lamebrain governor We've ever had, male or female, has contributed to the problem, all of them ignoring the obvious economic consequences of shoving 20 employees where 6 will do in favor of buying votes with cronyism. It's "the Puerto Rican way." And that's why I wouldn't work for the government: I'm too damn smart to accept "the Puerto Rican way."

So in the same spirit that "the Puerto Rican way" accepted with gritted teeth the "jobs lost when government changed parties," now We have to accept "jobs lost because the damn party is over." The free ride should have ended long ago, so if you're one of the 7,800+ that got dumped, boo freaking hoo. You never should have been there in the first place.

So maybe now you can stay within "the Puerto Rican way" and clamp onto welfare as your sole support. Then you can sit back and stare at your 45" plasma TV as the rest of the offal hits the ceiling fan.

If We're lucky.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

27 May 2009

Holy? Hell (No)!

A priest, long known for supposedly making women's loins catch fire because of his chaste hunky looks, is caught on camera hugging, kissing and getting to second base with a bikini-clad woman.

A local "religious leader," a guy who slaps together a "religious" event in front of the Capitol Building every year--even has the gall to call it "Clamor to God"--goes through a nasty divorce where he hounds his ex-wife through the media and fights alimony with claims his multi-million dollar "empire" doesn't pay him anything more than a "small salary."

Another church here, one with a "creationist" museum that ranks up there on the reality scale with wax fruit, has long been infamous for selling its front row seats, for, you know, the exposure and networking potential.

Jimmy Swaggart. Oral Roberts. Jim Bakker. Ted Haggard. Fill in the list with other names, cuz brother, there are plenty. Toss in the local guys who sleep with underage children and "annoint" virgin brides-to-be with their "holy" staffs. Thrown 'em all in there. Then set the whole freaking pile on fire. Give 'em...Hell.

As a species, We've had religions since the first proto-human looked up and around and realized s/he felt small. And throughout that history, humankind has had millions of religious leaders. Some were good, many were forgettable, but some were just scum. And these scum are the ones that gut whatever souls Our societies may have.

That a priest was caught fondling a woman is, to Me, a public relations coup compared to the hundreds of priests who have violated--and violate--children. The ink and airwaves dedicated to this "religious leader" and his wretched antics were too many beyond what's needed to proclaim "He's a fraud." Same with Swaggart, Bakker, Roberts, Haggard with their various sex scandals, some giving, some receiving, and the local boys who in that and other ways pollute Our society with their fraudulent presences.

To Hell with them. To Hell with those who pander to their excesses, who absolve them of blame, who worship the ground they walk on and feed their massive craven egos with money. To Hell with all of them. Because they give Us Hell.

And if, like I, you don't believe in Hell, give them not indifference, but open scorn, the sneering disdain of the truly righteous for the cowardly vermin, the disdain they and their pathetic followers wear so boldly and cannot sustain because cowardly vermin simply cannot ever be truly righteous.

We have a society that is crumbling and these leaders are like glittering rotting fish in the moonlight, attracting the eye with their foulness while the night grows dimmer and the storm approaches. The ones We should heed are quiet, for true good doesn't yell or shout or clamor or weep falsely on thousands of TV sets. The good walks with grace while the scum stagger in their luxury digs.

The next time some priest ruins a child's life or some pastor has a gay fling or some church leader destroys a community, remember that the good is out there, always, and though the media and their idiot followers will rush to the story like dogs to vomit, the good, though often harder to find, is infinitely more worthy of Our attention.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

26 May 2009

Happy Birthday, Kaleb!

You're 9 today! A growing boy with an emerging sense of self, a critical eye being honed and a sense of humor that's finding its voice.

Case in point: When I went off on one of My frequent flights of fancy concerning President Obama calling Me at 2 a.m. to wail about how he needs My help to keep solving the world's problems and I remarked that if I'd known how much work I'd have to do to prop up the President I would have run for the office Myself you quickly retorted "You would have been the last white President of the United States."

Cracked. Me. Up.

Another time, you patiently outlasted My stream-of-consciousness verbosity about something or the other and then deadpanned "Sometimes you really do have nothing in Your head."

And there are new depths to you that I am learning to admire. That sunny afternoon when you walked out of your school and told Me you'd been selected "Student of the Month," I high-fived you with a grin and then you took a deep breath and clenched your body in triumph with a heartfelt "Yes!" I knew you'd wanted to win that designation and that you had been denied it at the other school for religious idiocies, but only then did I realize how much you wanted it and how proud you were at having earned it. You deserved it. You have always given a strong effort and I admire you for that.

As I admire you for taking that determination to the basketball court. In Our sadly infrequent pick-up games, you are always the smallest player, but you play the hardest, running, jumping, moving, playing with every ounce of you in the game. You get frustrated, you get upset, but you clench your teeth and get back in the game. And when you make the right play--and you do that more and more--you cherish the moment in a way I never could. And you have learned to ask Me what you did right, though, based largely on My example with My play, you still spend a lot of time on what you did wrong. We'll both work on that.

There are times when I see anxiety in your eyes and in your face. Moments where you are uncomfortable, confused, lost. They hurt every time I see them because I would rather face a hundred such moments Myself than have you go through any painful moment. But I clench My teeth, tighten My gut and act like I don't see what you're going through. These are your lessons to learn, your way, and My job, My very difficult job, is to do nothing but make sure I'm there for you when you need Me. You are not an extension of Me to be controlled, but a brilliant boy who has long shown more abilities than I and thus merits the opportunity to develop in his own way.

And My heart rests easy because every time you truly get stuck, you do come to Me. I hope I haven't let you down, though I know I don't always have the answer you need. My most fervent hope is that even in My weakest efforts, I am giving you something you can use for when I'm not near, to help you in the future when Life seems to get more complicated and confusing. 

But if I leave you with a lesson for now, it's that you can be who you are, that you can take pride in your strengths and be accepting of your weaknesses, building upon one while overcoming the other. Change is a constant and the best changes are the ones you make yourself, on your own, for your own reasons, whether they be in your heart or upon the world.

Your time as a child is drawing to a close, slowly, inevitably. But your time as My child is forever. I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love you, Kaleb. You are a wonder. 

25 May 2009

7 Shots, 5 Answers

So seven shots were fired at Our Capitol building, pinging against the walls of the legislative outhouse in some atonal staccato rhythm. Nobody was hurt. And of course, there are questions, to which, of course, I have answers.

Question One: No, I didn't do it. I don't have an alibi because I don't even know when the shots were fired, only that they were. 

Question Two: Yeah I wanted to do that...and more. I believe hundreds of people would answer a quick "Yes" to Do you want to take some potshots at the Capitol building? We're fed up. No, strike that: We're fucking fed up. These walking bags of excrement masquerading as political leaders have taken advantage of Our massively-blind partisanship and massively-blind indifference to turn Our Island into a laughingstock of non-progress. Shoot them? I'd welcome a firing squad or two. For now, We'll have to settle for shooting at them.

Question Three: No, this isn't a bad thing. For one, no one was hurt. For another, the audacity of the act (or convenient cowardice, if you wish) speaks of a decision taken to act because the act itself was deemed necessary. Like taking aim at a rabid dog's head, these shots were fired for a reason, and the fact is, many of Us can find legitimate reasons for such an action. Now you or I may disagree with the person's or persons' reasons, but they had one or more. And if they didn't have a reason, if they did it only because the outhouse was there and they just happened to have gun handy as they drove by, the very attempt says something about the perception of the legislative herd and it isn't good.

Question Four: A conspiracy needs a convenient hook, a plausible-sounding reason that makes a person say "That could be" and then the theorist (lunatic, idiot, propagandist) erects a house of cards that can only stand if the "That could be" premise seems real. There is no conspiracy here, no outlandish plan to have shots fired at the Capitolio to then push measures augmenting security and expenses for the legislative vermin inside. No, this was a random act, applauded by some, decried by a few and ignored by everybody else. After all, why get worked up over chipped marble when We can't get worked up over two murders a day?

Question Five: Yes, I wish it had hit one or two of the Fools. You can make your own guess as to who.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

15 May 2009

None So Blind

Over the course of several months, I had a multitude of conversations with people in different walks of life, in private and public sector jobs, from education and retail to government and services. At some point in the conversation, once I felt there was a modicum of interest in continuing it (on My part, not the other person's), I would ask: Who's the person who seeks new opportunities in your workplace?

Not once--not once--did anyone answer the question right off the bat. The most common response was open confusion. The next most-common response was to ask Me to clarify the question, always annoying as I felt the question was pretty much transparent. Which of your co-workers actively seeks new opportunities?

I received only two positive responses. One woman told Me her boss was always looking for opportunities and when I asked her to explain in what way, she spoke sourly of how he takes credit for work he didn't do and implied he might be trying to have an affair with his secretary. The other positive response was from an insurance agent who said he was the opportunity seeker in his office, but then he tells Me how bad sales have become and that he's looking for a government job because "My people need to fill a few holes."

I bet they do.

Seems that keeping one's eyes, ears and mind open in a search for opportunities is not common at all. A couple of people reacted like I'd asked them who ate babies. A few sighed and wished they saw opportunities, and whereas before I would have tried to coax them into seeing that they could, this time I let it slide. Not one made the mental leap from "wishing" to "I can if I want to."

Blame the educational system. Blame a society where blindness of this type is considered "proper." Blame it on politicians who make the word "opportunity" a synonym of "cheating." Blame it on a media that makes money off of seeing doom, gloom and despair everywhere and makes money off of making fun of hope, challenge and triumph. Blame it on Us who let this happen and do nothing when it's brought to Our attention.

Yes, blame. That's the caustic eyewash of those who want not to see. Sprayed all around Us, the none so blind. And We who keep Our eyes open to see often blink simply to disperse tears.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


13 May 2009

Cartoonish Characters

I made a list of six names, six names known to many of My peeps here in the hood. And it instantly dawned on Me that each was actually a cartoon character come to life:

--Current (non)governor Luis "The Larva" Fortuño, who by his insipid physicality is a dead ringer for Waldo of "Where's Waldo?" fame, is actually Dilbert's Pointy-Eared Boss, talking mainly to himself, clueless to an nth degree and easily dominated by a dog.

--Thomas "Tantrum" Rivera, lead pack member in what passes for the senate here is Grumpy, a cross-armed, frowning, barking dwarf from sunrise to sunset. If he ever actually met Snow White, he'd wet himself.

--(Mis)Education Secretary Carlos "Limbaugh is My Bitch" Chardón is actually Baby Huey, pretending to be big, naive to the point of idiocy and unaware that his diaper is showing.

--Current Baby Huey appointee to the Federal Affairs Office of the Department of (Mis)Education, William "I'm Paranoia's Bitch" Ubiñas, is--who else?--Dopey, the hanger-on, a dwarf best left mute and best kept away from everybody else. If he ever met Snow White, he'd snort her. Again.

--Former (un)governor Aníbal "The Jellyfish" Acevedo, he of the recent exoneration from fraud charges is Kenny, of "South Park" fame: No one really knows what he's saying, he punks out like clockwork and yet he's still--annoyingly--there. 

--And Former (con)governor Pedro Stupid Rosselló is PePe Le Pew, a malodorous beast wooing no one interested in him and tolerable only by other skunks. Or by dogs who no longer have a sense of smell. 

No sense in extending the list to seven, ten or twelve: six is more than enough to taint the joy of cartoons for an afternoon...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

11 May 2009

Lazy Or Stupid?


Plumb laziness, as they say in the South. Or maybe not.

We are lazy.

By "We" I mean My Brethren here on the Island of Enchantment. How else can anyone explain the widespread and deep indifference We have to the crumbling nature of Our chaotic corner of the world? Indifference? That's just being too lazy to care. Despair? That's just being too lazy to make an effort. Ignorance? That's just being to lazy to learn...or too stupid.

Okay, now you've done it. You just crossed the line from "Hard-nosed-but-fair-analyst to insulting-jerk-possibly-racist-pig." It happens. Let's see where it leads Us.

If We're to choose between lazy or stupid, Let's be thorough and take them both at the same time first: Are We lazy and stupid?

Aside from the obvious candidates (Okay, since you force Me to: 72% of government employees [including teachers], 64% of Our so-called "media professionals", 48% of fast food employees, 34% of Our police force and 23% of Our politicians. [The other 77% are sub-humans.]), if We were vastly lazy and stupid, We'd be the mindless drones of a more capable, astute group who treat Us like feebs while slyly giving Us the illusion of power and choice when We actually have neither...

Bad example. But it strikes at the core of the matter: Are We lazy or are We stupid? Because from where I'm sitting, it very much could be that We're both.

Too lazy to seek solutions; to stupid to see that tough solutions are needed.

Too lazy to stand up for Ourselves; too stupid to see that it is Our only option.

Too lazy to learn about the world; to stupid to see that there actually is a world out there.

Too lazy to work at building; too stupid to see how much We're destroying.

Too lazy to find out truths; too stupid to see that truths need more than faith.

Too lazy to earn; too stupid to see how complicated Our begging really is.

Too lazy to praise; too stupid in Our criticism.

And if you think that applies to Me, I'll just say I'm lazy...the rest is up to you.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

08 May 2009

A Thousand-Yard Stare

I sit outside the office of My son's school every week, almost every day I go. I'm always reading. At his prior school, I'd talk to 1-2 of the parents--if they initiated the conversation. Over here, I don't bother. I don't dislike any of them; I don't know any of them. The two are not mutually inclusive.

Most days the conversation is so much white noise as I take in economics, science fiction, history, intrigue or whatever potion I'm pouring into My brain to keep it occupied on something other than Me and My Thoughts. But sometimes what emerges from the office is too sharp to ignore.

A young mother, mid- to late-twenties, petite, not very pretty and tries too hard to overcome that, only to come off as brittle. Her son is in third grade and doing poorly. Grades slipping from B to just above D. She starts out asking quietly what the problem is. I begin to take notice as her voice becomes querulous, ragged and shrewish.

She's blaming the boy for being lazy. She's interrupting the teacher--who may or may not be competent--and berating the boy for not telling her about that day's make-up test. She segues from lashing out at the boy to telling everyone in earshot, in excessive detail (almost three minutes, by My silent count), all her problems: the divorce, her job, her upcoming trip for a Master's program, her crash diet, her divorce lawyer, his divorce lawyer, her boss and his boss... and the boy wandered off, a thousand-yard stare that didn't lose an inch when she practically shrieked at him to get back here.

I had a long list of things I was going to write concerning this incident, small as it is, in the form of a microcosm of "Our Modern Life." By My estimate, some 7-8 paragraphsm maybe a little more. But the closer I came to writing this, the more three thoughts seemed to float above the overs:

---We are not her and never can be.

---One incident does not a trend make.

---Loneliness is seen in a thousand-yard stare.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

06 May 2009

Baseball's Broken Heart

I just heard that Dodger outfielder and one of the game's greatest right-handed hitters ever, Manny Ramírez, has been suspended for an undisclosed violation of the league's drug policy. It is most likely steroids. And even coming from a player I don't follow closely on a team I don't care about, the news breaks My heart. For not only is Manny one of the game's greatest hitters and flakes, he is one of My son's favorite players.

When Manny left Boston--like a whiny putz--Jason Bay went from My much-beleagured Pirates to the Red Sox. My son's sense of loss was matched by My own, as Bay has gone on to prove that his ignored excellence in Pittsburgh is highly-touted in Boston. Manny went on to reignite his bat and lead the Dodgers to the playoffs. Bittersweet all around.

Over the past decade, Manny has combined hitting excellence with goofball earnestness and that makes him unique in the annals of baseball. He hits with the power and consistency that only a handful of men could ever match, names like Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx and Hornsby. Like Ruth, Manny is a man-child, a lovable loon who can wow you almost every time he swings a bat.

The past decade has not been good to heartfelt fans of baseball as steroids have gutted the grand ole game's image. Former heroes like McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro, Clemens, Bonds and most recently the "golden boy" Alex Rodríguez have failed to live up to Our images of them. They make excuses, just as baseball management does. Excuses for lapses of judgement that each man at each point in time knew were lapses.

Fans like My son, little boys and girls, have grown up with this scandal. To them, the gaudy records in hitting and pitching have no historical context: they are not "all -time great," just "now." Clemens climbing into the all-time Top 10 in pitching wins is no big deal to them; Bonds passing Aaron was deliberately not a big deal, but they don't know that. We--the fans who grew up before the scandals--We know.

My dad saw DiMaggio, Williams, Musial, Jackie, Mantle, Snider, Ford, Feller, Roberts and more; he and I saw Mays, Aaron, Koufax, Gibson, Frank and Brooks Robinson, and of course, Roberto Clemente...and so many more: Schmidt, Rose, Morgan, Bench, Smith, Ripken, Jr., Boggs, Gwynn, Carew, Seaver, Carlton, Ryan, Palmer and dozens more. We know. We know better, because they were better. Better men. Men who played from the heart, not for the pocket. Men who played the game without violating its spirit. Men, not posers.

And now it seems that the sometimes irritating, always entertaining Manny is--actually--a poser. Not a hitting idiot-savant, but just...an idiot. A poser. Men such as Griffey. Jr, and Maddux, men with career records amongst the greatest the game has ever seen, are lost in the morass of poser-watching. And though the game goes on--will go on--suddenly for Me it has a broken heart. Maybe Manny's suspension is not about steroids, maybe it's about another drug or medication and that this is all a painful lesson on avoiding simple mistakes. But it doesn't seem that way and it definitely doesn't feel that way.

I haven't felt this kind of pain over baseball since the day Clemente died. This time, this pain hurts much less...but it hurts. I healed then, slowly, over time. I wonder how long it will take to heal now. And if baseball will have anything to do with that healing.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

04 May 2009

What Can You Say?

What can you say about a society that largely ignores hundreds of its youths killed on its own streets, but can send many tons of food, clothing and dozens of thousands of dollars to aid the citizens of other countries in a disaster?

What can you say about a society that knowingly wallows in an educational cesspool, but believes itself to be intellectually superior by dint of having a citizenship imposed on them?

What can you say about a society that bandies about words like ethics, pride and honor, but makes heroes of political hacks whose actions deny every scintilla of meaning in those words?

What can you say about a society that acts all puffed-up with jingoistic pride over mere entertainers, but disdains to even learn about its finest scientists, scholars, writers and other intellectuals?

What can you say about a society that expresses warm hospitality as part of its culture, but largely treats its paying visitors as interruptions rather opportunities?

What can you say about a society whose government was based on 175 years' worth of successful democratic experimentation, but has become nothing more than a self-serving socialist roadblock?

What can you say about a society that trumpets "family as the center of society," but has a divorce rate of 50% and a single-parent family as almost 36% of its "center of society"?

What can you say about a society that spreads maps of the world in every classroom, but teaches as if the world is geographically 100-by-35 miles and historically only two letters: U.S.?

What can you say about a society that largely refuses to acknowledge the magnitude of its problems, refuses to engage in any productive debate about them, refuses to place solutions above self-interest and refuses to accept responsibility for any of this behavior?

As the sign at the airport says: Welcome to Puerto Rico.

The Jenius Has Spoken.


01 May 2009

Larva-Tantrum (Un)Civil War

The gloves are off and the Ultra-Lightweight Championship of Idiocy is ready to rumble!

In one thumb-sucking corner is Luis "The Larva" Fortuño, (non)governor of Puerto Rico, (non)president of the statehood party (long may it waive...smarts) and (non)fighter in the political arena. In the other eye-thumbing corner is senate (pseudo)president Thomas "Tantrum" Rivera, (pseudo)civilized (pseudo)defender of (pseudo)party rhetoric and Stupid ideals. (Stupid is a person, somewhat, former (con)governor Pedro Stupid Rosselló. This ring is crowded.)

Wednesday, The Larva delivered a mealy-mouthed State of the Colony address (that's the closest to a "state" We are ever going to get, unless you count the state of chaos) that took a sideswipe at the legislature. Thursday, Tantrum bitch-slapped down The Larva's nominee for the Office of Women's Affairs and The Larva cried...foul.

Today some 12,000 government workers marched in protest of the idea of slashing 30,000 government jobs. I know some estimates place the marching crowd at 20,000, but that's just wishful exaggeration. I'm willing to go as high as 14,000, but that's it. Anyway, that crowd was the perfect starting point for cutting government jobs, by dint of a face-to-face speech, but rather than face it in a purely political move to blunt the protest's public relations spin, The Larva let it slide.

What he did--or tried to do--was call a party meeting...that Tantrum then matched with a party meeting of his own--the same day, at the same time.


Of course, the speculation is that one meeting is going to be suddenly canceled or shifted to another date and time, but I'll bet you gold bullion to snail spit that The Larva's meeting gets changed, and if not, that it will be less attended than the Tantrum's tantrum.

Oh, yes, the gloves are off, but one opponent has glass tentacles and the other brass testicles. Unless The Larva morphs into a poisonous beetle, Tantrum will have de facto veto power over the (non)governor in a situation very reminiscent of The Jellyfish and his legislative opponents. 

Only that time, they were in opposing parties as well. Nothing like a(n) (un)civil war to bring out the bitterness...in all of Us.

The Jenius Has Spoken.