12 November 2010



Once again, it's the tiME of the year to celebrate that most glorious of days, MY BIRTHDAY!! And it is also My 1,000th post as The Jenius. And it's MY BIRTHDAY!! But unlike the past few years, this one has a different twist:

This is My last post.

Back in December 2007, I wrote a post that was to be the curtain of The Jenius, but soMEwhere in the writing/posting, soMEthing clicked and I decided to continue. A month later, unrelated to that, My father died and I kept going, once again taking the whole process in stride.

But not anymore. A few months ago I realized that I wasn't as "into" The Jenius as I'd always been. Instead of a release--or catharsis--it had becoME soMEthing of a burden. That wasn't the point. After pondering for a day or two, I decided I'd make it My true curtain call on MY BIRTHDAY (which you may have noticed I've MEntioned a few tiMEs) and My (semi-coincidental) 1,000th post.

I had a few moMEnts of doubt about the decision, earlier this week, but that was more from thinking of what I'd miss rather than focusing on what I'd do. It's been said that in one's endeavors, you notice first when things are slipping, then your critics (your closest observers/supporters) and then the general public. Sure enough, a month or so after My decision, I wrote a post titled "Charity Really Does Begin At Home," about how We are, per capita, the largest supporters taking care of children through World Vision.

As I pointed out a few days later, that post was important, because it focused on Our charity regarding World Vision, but failed to indict the appalling lack of charity We have amongst Ourselves. The title, which I uncharacteristically wrote first, set up My premise; and yet, the post failed to deliver it in Jenius fashion. I chose that inaction.

A dear friend called Me the next day from Europe to tell Me he was worried about The Jenius. In his words, I had not been critical in the way The Jenius is. I told him he was right, that I preferred to leave it as it was posted rather than "take the shot." He told Me The Jenius always took the shot. I agreed, but that I had taken hundreds of shots over the years, had hit the intended target hundreds of tiMEs and that each tiME I did, I bled too, for these are, for better or for worse, also My people.

And that I was getting tired of taking shots.

He felt compelled to write a "Defense of The Jenius", saying he was concerned "about the character." I thank him for that, for he was and is 100% right. Parts of his essay are in the Comments of this farewell post.

The oft-repeated definition of insanity is to do the same things and expect a different result. The Jenius has plenty more to say, but the current format is no longer enough. Whether The Jenius returns here or in some other cyberspot or MEatspace is up for grabs.

To those who read My words over the years, your support has been amazingly profound. To the double-handful of people I MEt because of The Jenius, My life is much richer because of you. And to My critics, nice try. Maybe next time.

And a special Jenius Salute to Global Voices Online, especially Ms. Janine MEndes-Franco, for not only choosing so many of My posts for that wonderful forum, but also for being such a good sport in letting Me modify her naME to satisfy My preening BIRTHDAY celebration.

To My Special One, thanks for cringing and still supporting Me. And to My Son, never forget I love you.

TiME to go. For a while.

The Jenius Has Spoken. Thank You.

11 November 2010

"A Moment Of Zen" Answered

Back some years ago, on 24 February 2006 to be exact, I had My shortest post. In its entirety it read "What is the power of choice?"

I'm certain that said 6-word post would delight many of My Readers for any number of reasons, not the least of which is brevity. And though it is a question that I have answered indirectly many times, it behooves Me to answer it directly.

Some thinker, Robert Heinlein actually, pointed out that so long as one could think, one could pursue happiness. I like that observation because it makes it very clear that happiness is internally-guided and your own responsibility, not some external reward that "Life", "Government," "Society" or "the World" are obligated to give you.

It also makes very clear that it is your choice that sets the process of pursuing happiness in motion, and with little analysis, you can see that in fact, it is your choice that sets every mental/emotional process in motion. Given that, you can see that the power of choice is the ultimate power, the only true power any of Us has and that learning to use it properly is the difference between happiness and strife, success and failure and a progressive society versus what We have now.

"What about instinct?" you ask. What about it? If you ask that to claim that instinct can consistently and regularly overcome your power of choice, then you're saying that a human being is no better than a base animal. True in the case of Fools, but they aren't human anyway. If you ask because instinct has a way of causing thought and emotional processes, then yes, it does, but it is still your power of choice that determines whether you are ruled by them or you rule them.

Follow the train of thought and you will see that your present condition--whatever it is--is the product of your power of choice. (I'm assuming you're an adult. Kids under the age of 16 or UPR students on strike are exempt because they are still in the "Take care of Me" stage of Life.) And by extension, where We are as a society is the sum product of Our power of choice...or refusal to use it, which is still a choice.

In that sense, you are not unique, for the power of choice is the same for everyone; thus in that sense, as a society, We are not unique either. We are where We are--and are not--because We have chosen this situation. And because We chose Our way into this, We can choose Our way out of it.

Some choice cannot be unmade. That's Time's irreversible flow at work. But many choices can be modified, ameliorated and ultimately changed by making more choices, by actively seeking amongst the options We have and can create. We simply have to be aware that Our choices matter, that We choose to ignore matters and that what We choose to focus on will ultimately defines Us, as individuals and as a society.

What is the power of choice? The power to truly Be.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

10 November 2010

End The War (On Drugs)

Federal Judge Juan Torruella, to reasoned legal analysis what Daffy Duck is to veterinary medicine, hit the front pages of the largest local puppy pee-pad with his statement that "marijuana should be legalized because the war on drugs has failed."

Now if it isn't obvious by now, My level of support for "Tort(ellini)" Torruella is on the par with My desire to pick a blind squirrel to play shortstop for My fantasy baseball team. But even a mentally-challenged blind squirrel--as the saying goes--finds a nut now and then. And Tort(ellini) is spot-on right: the war on drugs has been a colossal failure and legalizing marijuana is an option worth exploring.

Remember Prohibition? Neither do I, but Let's glance back at history. An anti-liquor (temperance) movement swept through the U.S. of part of A., led largely by women for whom alcohol was a key factor in violence, dissolution and poverty. The 18th Amendment, ratified in 1919, just past the end of World War I, made the sale and possession of liquor a crime.

Now how long has alcohol--wine, beer, hard liquor--been a part of humankind? Exactly. People didn't stop drinking, the demand stayed about equal, but now there was a huge price increase in spirits...but not the kind the temperance movement cared for. Enter clandestine stills, speakeasies, organized crime, gangsters and the Mafia culminating in the horrors of NASCAR rolling ads going in endless circles.

How bad did it get? Only one amendment has ever been repealed? Go ahead, guess which one...Right. By the 21st, in 1933. The cost of trying to police/prohibit human nature reached a point of total imbecility.

Fast-forward to 1970 and Tricky Dick Nixon's public relations-fueled "War on Drugs." Penalties were increased, new crimes redefined, law officers empowered, troops deployed and 12 years after the 1998 "deadline", what do We have for this "War on Drugs"? Plenty of drug use, plenty of drug-fueled violence, the largest peacetime prison population in a democracy, with a higher percentage of minorities in jail than South Africa at the height of apartheid.

Are We winning this "war"? How about asking how badly We are losing it? The fact remains, since 1970: people want to use drugs and because demand stays high, prices and profits drive all sorts of consequences, from street-level violence to international arms dealing, the government-prison-industrial complex and a society gutted by fighting a "war" that is caused by its own desires.

So is marijuana legalization a solution? The failure of Proposition 19 in California notwithstanding, (and Let's make this clear: marijuana is California's #1 cash crop and is close to the #1 cash crop in the nation), legalizing marijuana and other drugs is an option. Given the horrendous cost and colossal failure of this "war on Our people's greed for drugs," legalization, and its ally decriminalization, should be explored immediately.

Now most of you will say "Nuh-uh, Jenius. Never happen. Don't work." I have one word and three links to make you rethink your nuh-uh: Portugal. Link One. Link Two. Link Three.

Some of the highlights: reduced drug use and abuse; reduced street crime; lowered prison population; national budget savings and greatly-reduced rate of AIDS/HIV cases. Does that sound like the apocalypse?

Now Portugal didn't legalize much in terms of drugs: it chose a middle path of reducing penalties for its possession in small quantities and personal use. But the results, heading now into their 6th year, are indisputable: an option exists to a useless war on drugs.

Maybe the fact that a federal judge makes the statement is what causes consternation. Granted. Or that it's coming from someone with the acumen of houseplant. Granted. But if 1,000 monkeys typing at random can ultimately produce Hamlet, does it make the play less of a classic?

Ignore the messenger, because he's the wrong one, but glom on the message...because it's absolutely right.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

09 November 2010

For Sale: Puerto Rico

Like contracting dysentery when afflicted with cholera and treating it with Ex-Lax, the flow of stupidstupidstupid ideas in this (non compos mentis)administration continues. The latest fetid batch-dump is the """""idea""""" of selling houses in Puerto Rico to folks in the U.S. of part of A.

Let's look at this closely, holding Our noses in silent comment of the validity of this crapfest.

Puerto Rico has one of the highest rates of homeownership in the U.S. of part of A. Bully for Us. We also have the lowest income per capita--by far--in the States, so what's going on? How can people who are comparatively "poor" be so successful in owning homes?

Credit. The average Puerto Rican family--usually a young couple-buys a house and makes it the basis of their financial portfolio for growth, relying in tough times on family and even friends to help meet payments so as not to lose the property to foreclosure. But with low income comes a need for low income-accessible housing...and what We have on the market are boricua McMansiones sitting empty.

As I've posted before here, when land is as expensive as it is here, contractors have to find a way to insure their ROI. But the tendency went from affordable housing to "mega-projects," with gates, security guards, tennis courts and prices hitting $400,000 for a shack (but with benefits!) and regularly hovering around $600,000 and more. Rather than "many houses sold," contractors (and their partners in crime: see below) went for "exclusivity."

Politicians and government weasels, of course, loved this scam because it allowed more money for greasing the skids. Banks loved it because it's always good business to charge high interest on more money. (Note the many mortgage scandals that shit-spotted Our banking industry in the past decade.) And We, as pathetically envious, image-obsessed, keep-up-with-the-Jimenez's dirtbrains bought into this.

The first projects sold very well: there was a market for them. Second-wave projects sold fairly well, with many houses bought by people who didn't live in Puerto Rico. Third-wave projects, started and built in the last 3-4 years are empty of residents...and are now being offered for sale to people in the States.


Politicians and government weasels are not getting their skids greased anymore. Bankers aren't shoving high-interest mortgages down birdbrain gullets anymore. And contractors, those skid greasers and abetters of mortgage rape are sitting on houses set to self-destruct in the coming months.


Sell the houses to folks in the U.S. of part of A.? Really? Who'd buy them, Oh Larva of Lunkheaded Limpness? (For those of you late to this party, The Larva is My dismissive nickname for (non compos mentis) governor Luis Fortuño, Nature's answer to the question "Can a vacuum occupy space?") You're sitting on a crappy economy, a crime surge, an increased tax load, upward price spiraling, declining jobs and constipated political and economic deadlock that you are significantly responsible for? What the hell is your sales pitch? "Puerto Rico: not as crappy as you think?" Or are you going to go with: "Overpriced concrete beats cheap wood"? Or how about "No power, no water...no problem"?

I once suggested that Our slogan should be "Puerto Rico: Closed for Repairs," but you Limp Larva have actually put up a "Puerto Rico: For Sale" sign. It does make clear one thing though: your voter base is not "the poor" that statehood supposedly cares so much about, but the fat wallets that slime your (non compos mentis) administration's hooves and tentacles.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

08 November 2010

Another (Yaaawn) Student Strike

The students at the--yawn--University of Puerto Rico are--yaaawn--protesting again and threatening another strike.

Yaaaaaawn. Reminds Me it's sunny and warm in the Sahara today. Big deal.

Of course, the students are protesting the socioeconomic inequality that undermines the very foundation of Our nation...

No? Yawn.

Then they must be protesting the rampant corruption that pervades what We sneeringly call "government" and "business" in order to help focus attention on how much We are losing day after fershluggin' day...

No? Yaaawn.

Hold on, I'm wiping My eyes here... Seems the students are protesting over--money. Again.


A new--yawn--$200 fee that the University wants to charge to offset--yaaawn--debts.

A debt that the federal government has agreed will be covered by the Pell Grant. Yaaawn.

It means that some students will see a small decrease in the amount of money they get from Pell Grants, adjusted as they were last year. But the idea that these students could be out some $85 or so every semester has them in a frenzy--again--because Let's face, nothing upsets one of Our students more than seeing money given to them for nothing going to someone else. Burns their britches. Pisses them off. Makes them want to act, you know? 'Cuz this is important, man!

Here are some words of advice, Oh Students of Free Money: Get a job. Be frugal. Focus on the big picture. And learn something, instead of using college as a social club/adult day care center.

One more thing: stop making Me yawn.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

05 November 2010

Still, Loud Silence

Blaring next to Me as I write this--loud enough to make an elderly woman cringe under her umbrella--is a loudspeaker-laden little truck jabbering about a local candidate, in a primary scheduled for December 5th...23 months before the next local election.

Now why does a party--in or out of power--schedule primaries almost 2 freaking years before the election? There's only one reason: They consider their supporters nothing but weak-minded dullards.

The argument--for they do have one--concerning the (il)logic of this practice is that primaries this early allow time for the party to "heal" before the elections. In other words, the primary process is so divisive, so painful, so filled with struggle, strife and sturm ünd drang that their very presence threatens to destroy the party come election time unless the party faithful are given enough time to forget what happened. About two years should be enough.

Weak-minded dullards, unite!

That this is the party that supports the current status We, uh, """""enjoy""""", is not a surprise, for this is the party of "In shit up to Our necks, but I can smell fresh air when the wind is right." To wit: the party of "Don't think, be happy."

The secret, of course, is to take things on faith, to avoid any proper use of rational faculties and simply accept things for what you are told they could be. Faith. Like "enhanced commonwealth" or "associated republic," words you cannot--no, no no!--actually question and ask a simple definition for, but must take as "concepts" that are "in the works," in much the same way that powdered water is "in the works."

Faith, like ignorance, can be a matter of simple passivity (you believe because you never get a chance to think about it, i.e., you're never told about the concept, so you follow the prevailing trend) or choice (you believe because you don't want to think about it.) As such, the burden of proof remains with the presenter of the concept--enhanced whatever, associated thingamajig, divine somesuch--but the reaction and acceptance or rejection of the concept equally remains with the recipient audience of the concept.

So what does this mean for the blaring idiocy of an idiot running in an idiotically-early primary? Only that the party faithful should have told the """""leaders""""" of their clustergangbang to stop treating them as slow-witted sheep and make the primaries a stronger case for re-energizing government than merely a shadow play by people whose IQs are as high as that of shadows and their morals just as deep.

Maybe next time. Then again, these are the same people who have "waited" 30 years for "enhanced reaming" or "associated raping" to be plopped on the table...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

03 November 2010

Puerto Rican Roulette

The idea has the appeal of greed on both sides. We, as consumers, get a chance to win maybe $1,000 a week in a lottery. The government, taking asswipery to a new low, try to force businesses to report their sales in order to collect the sales tax, known locally as IVU, as in "I violate u."

Enter the IVU-Lottery, or IVU-Loto as it is called. Every customer is now expected to request a receipt with a unique serial number, in order to participate in two weekly drawings of $1,000 each, or after the government takes its cut, about $620.

Not bad money, right? Just for buying stuff? The usual stuff you usually buy? So why, Oh Jenius, is this such a bad idea? In fact, Jenius, you say it's one of the worst ideas from a government that practically perfected the stupid idea factory?

It's a dumbfuck stupid idea because the reward system is wrong: it doesn't reward the customer for forcing the retailer to conform to the law, instead, every week, it punishes all but 2 customers in exchange for the government increasing imposition of a numbnuts tax that doesn't work.

First, a sales tax of 7% was too high to begin with and instead of making the collection of government monies easier and larger, it did the opposite. That was clear to bright minds long before The Jellyfish and his cabal in both major parties rammed the buttplug up Our descending colon. Not only was the tax too high--3-4% would have been better, if at all--but the whole reporting process was so hideously complex and asinine that it cost the government more than triple its expected implementation and management cost...for less revenue.

Second, because the tax was stupid, too high and too complex to deal with easily, it forced businesses to bypass it altogether and opt for a gray market approach. So the stated purpose of "tapping into the underground economy" went unfulfilled and it actually did the opposite: it helped make the underground economy more fertile.

Now the asshats We elected want Us to play the numbers so they can get more money and piss it away like the retarded VD-infested monkeys that they are...and We'll end up paying more for it. 

Ya don't think? Here, take a ponder on this one: what do you think stores that already report IVU will do when their competition has to spend money to become part of the program? Think it through. I pointed out years ago that the IVU would raise prices by about 13-14% and the statistics bore Me out to a penny. Will the situation change just because it's three years later? Uh-uh. Stores that already report IVU will marginally raise prices because the cost of compliance by some (about 35%) of their competitors will be passed on to the customer. It's simple business economics: if I have to pay more to provide goods and services, I pass on the costs to My customers or I close up shop.

And that means that the IVU Loto will place upward pressure on prices that only 2 customers a week will benefit from, while the rest of Us lose another percentage point or two to unneeded inflation.

Woo. And hoo.

What will the underground economy do? Think it through. If the gray market knows it has the advantage of a cash-based economy, with the customer holding the trump card of "I can report you," do you think prices will rise or fall in that economy? Exactly. Now where will you go to buy those "gray market optional" items, which have now increased beyond "flea market junk" to fresh fruit and vegetables, new clothing, electronics, eyewear and even appliances?

Right. You'll go where your dollar has greater buying power, not where your dollar gives you less than a 1-in-a-million chance of winning a few dollars...to be taxed.

Once again, the IVU Loto is another boon to the underground economy and its effects will be noticeable within weeks, not months. How will We know? When flea markets expand in size and numbers.

Were there better options? Damn right there were, but what can you expect from retarded VD-infested monkeys other than screeching, scratching and stealing? Here are two options that would have been better-suited to the government's uncontrollable lust to get and thus waste more of Our cash:

1) Drop the sales tax to 4%. It might seem counter-intuitive, but hundreds of economic studies across decades and frontiers have shown that when consumption-based taxes are reduced, consumption--and tax collection--goes up. For one, the 3% difference means customers can get (by demand and competitive pressure) "instant savings," and nothing spurs consumption that the feeling of getting a sweet deal. Just as the underground economy, for Pete's sake.

2) Switch collection to quarterly. Once again, the hassle of complying with the idiotic tax every month needs to be assuaged in order to make it easier to comply and manage. To the monkeys and their monkey-groupies who say that revenue needs to be collected monthly for proper collection, I have two words for you: April 15th. Once a year, and it works (somewhat) okay. Plenty of business and corporate taxes are paid/collected quarterly and with one "free" month in the three-month period, enforcement can take a higher priority.

But no, since these ideas require the R.V.D.I.M.s to (a) drop "their" percentage and (b) reduce "their" control, they will avoid the ideas like cowards flee from dignity. They are and they do. In their disease-ravaged minds, it is better to have Us all play a version of economic Puerto Rican Roulette and increasingly risk suicide than to think things through and do what's right.

So what else is new?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

01 November 2010

Politics As (Un)Usual

If you haven't read it, take a look at My previous post. Make a note of it. I'll be referring to it again soon.

A little over a month ago I saw a campaign poster for a local candidate, running for mayor. He wants to dethrone the current mayoress, a woman with the visual charm and accomplishments of a drunken train wreck. You might wonder why I bring this up, seeing as there are elections in the U.S. of part of A. tomorrow.

Well, We don't have elections until 2012. And two years is a damn long time.

I should be used to it, having arrived here in the summer of 1972 in full campaign season. I remember an evening in Orocovis where two political caravans, each loaded with dozens of cars and hundreds of blowhards, met down the only big street the little central mountain town had--birthplace of My father--and created a raucous, blaring, overwhelming, nauseating traffic jam-barrage of car horns, shrieks, exhaust and so-called music that made Me sick. Literally. I spent the rest of the night throwing up and wondering if My head was going to fall off into the toilet.

Almost four decades later and My aversion to politics and political campaigns continues. In 2008, I walked the streets of Cabo Rojo as the election results came in and noticed there was more energy and passion placed in celebrating victories than in actually doing anything in the campaign outside of dissing the opposition. People were jumping and shouting, many racing to winner headquarters for their expected reward--or promise of one. The happy grins included Me until I didn't respond, at which point I was dismissed as having supported a loser and thus of no consequence. No matter. Political campaigns bore Me and I pay them very little mind.


Last Thursday, a gentleman I met a few years and who asked for My help in setting up an antique car show, called Me before 9:00 a.m. He told Me his sister--who I helped with a medical claim within the U.S. Postal Service--had received her due and was happy. Then he said he was working with a guy who wanted to run against the mayoress in the primary, that the guy would win, and that I could be a valuable resource to this guy. Would I like to meet him? That day?

Primaries will be in late 2011 or early 2012. I had some stuff on My day's agenda. I said yes.

We met for lunch at a local restaurant and the glad-handing was out in full force as candidate and pseudo-frontman were greeting and meeting like the election was a week away. Except Me. I barely got a glance. Maybe the glad-handing is all the time, but it never includes Me. No reason to.

I got some background on the candidate and he told Me his basic pitch. I gave him Mine: I get paid for My work and nothing else. I get no jobs in the Municipality, I do no favors and I ask for none, for anybody. I do no campaigning or public work except writing. And I don't have to agree with the candidate, but as long as I see honest work for the town's progress, I stay. The guy gave Me a long appraising look and said yes.

Later on, over dominoes, it seemed to help a great deal that one of his grandkids came over and started talking to me about basketball and the current league's season. The man said his grandson never spoke to anyone as easily as he did to Me and that simple act impressed him a great deal. I've known the boy a little for 2 years and...well, his team did eliminate Mine in the current league.

So where am I with this? Don't know. We discussed a few general ideas as We pasted Our opponents in dominoes (don't care to play it, but I hate to lose at anything) and found Our viewpoints to be compatible. What that leads to, Time will tell. My prediction is that I will present several good ideas, hear a couple in return and as the campaign heats up and things start rolling into chaos, I'll simply stop being an active contributor and become a distant advisor, a troubleshooter with specialized knowledge.

But one thing is clear to Me: I'm trying something new because I have to give Myself the chance. In the best case, I can become an active agent of change; in the worst, I piss off a few people I don't care about. Somewhere between those two extremes, there's ample margin to carve a niche I can make a difference with. That is the seductive lure of this dirtiest of games, the one where no one wins.

Since I've made My case clear that I don't care for a government job or to become a broker for political favors, I have eliminated the two major hooks for getting caught up in politics. And as plenty who know Me are aware, My penchant for showing how much of a smartass I can be in the presence of pomposity and idiocy makes Me useless as a seeker of public repute in a political context. I want to piss certain people off and they roam in herds within politics. If the choice boils down to whether I should shut up and let it slide to benefit My plans or speak out and the hell with the whole shebang, I know exactly what I'll choose; I often have already. That might mean that My efforts are doomed to fail, that it's simply a matter of time before I let fly and damn the consequences. Agreed. But even a small effort could lead to decent results down the road. It has before, far from Me so that no proper credit could accrue. Politics.

However. Once again, and in a different way, I think it's worth the effort...but once again, for as long as it remains aimed at progress and not politics.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

29 October 2010

Charity Really Begins At Home

There is an e-mail doing semi-contagious rounds around Our cyberspace listing facts We don't know about Our Island. One of them is that--on a per capita basis--Puerto Ricans are the largest supporters of World Vision.

My Brethren are most likely nodding right now, with thoughts along the lines of "Yeah, that sounds like Us." It does. Time and again, when a tragedy strikes somewhere or a need is brought to light, We come forward with generous hearts and hands. True, maybe the money We can provide is in the low hundreds of thousands, a fraction of the millions the people of the U.S. of part of A. can provide, but We share more per person, more consistently, than Our northern fellow citizens.

Why? I have two theories. The first is based on the traditional view of Our history as a forgotten corner of the Spanish Empire, subsisting on scraps and scrounging, where sharing became more than a necessity, evolving into a fuller expression of connecting with one's misery and sense of empathy. Mi dolor es su dolor. 

My second theory is that We share so much because We have a distorted sense of who We are. In other words, We share because We're confused about who We are exactly.

Now there are two ways to look at this theory, two personifications. One is that of the kid from the wrong side of the tracks who finds himself amongst the country club set and tries to fit in by living their lifestyle plus 15%, overspending in a transparent effort to impress. But that really doesn't apply to charity, which is quite often a personal action undertaken in private. Only a boor would go around boasting about how much s/he spends to help others and We don't do that.

The second personification is that of the insecure person seeking approval, one who acts not from a sense of personal perspective but from "social pressures," doing what s/he perceives is right not from conviction, but from a sense of guilt.

So are We "Keeping up with the Jones'" or "guilt-tripped"? Which?

Neither. Or both. But I vote for "neither." Does this mean My two theories are wrong? Maybe. I'm inclined to prefer being wrong about this simply because I'd rather believe that We are charitable and generous because that's how We are rather than think that We are envious/insecure/lunk-headed.

The fact is that Puerto Ricans have a long history of generosity, both between Ourselves and with others We most likely don't even where they live. Through good times and bad, We have stepped up to share Our good fortune with others' misfortunes. And in the long run, does it really matter why We do it?

I believe it does, but not enough to want to look too closely into the matter. Let's just enjoy the fact that when the world needs, We deliver.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

27 October 2010

Kicking Kim's Konfusion

Jay  Kim was the first Korean-American Congressman, serving from 1993-1999. He recently came to Puerto Rico and after semi-obligatory visits in Old San Juan, the rain forest and even stiff-limbed salsa "dancing", he blogged about his impressions of My Island. I've taken excerpts of his post, and lest I be accused of taking them out of context, read the post here. [15 Aug 2011: See Update below.]

"Its population is 4 million, and the country is relatively poor economically with an 18 percent unemployment rate and a $7,000 a year per capita income." You got the population right, but the real unemployment figure is over 27%, while the (non)government reports somewhere around 16%. As for Our income per capita, your own CIA World Reports it is closer to $11,000 than $7,000. Now I know those numbers are awful, but they are real. Most of Us know them; you and your fellow Americans by and large don't. Your ignorance, not Mine.

"Like any tropical island, the people of Puerto Rico seem laid back and not tough and hardheaded; perhaps this is because rushing does not lead anywhere but to the surrounding sea." I understand, Mr. Kim, that you are a civil engineer. Kudos. But may I suggest you leave anthropological musings to much better-qualified people? And as for pithiness, may I suggest Confucius?

"In April 2000, the US decided to give citizenships to the people born in Puerto Rico." First of all, how many citizenships can the U.S. of part of A. offer anyone? Okay, maybe that was a typo. Happenss. But as for Puerto Ricans and U.S. citizenship, We have been so since the Jones-Shafroth Act of 1917. Now I'm firmly in the corner of those people who expect politicians to be about as well-informed as dry moss, but engineers are known for their meticulous attention to detail. Careless engineers are only so once...or should be. Mr. Kim, you were careless here.

" This (citizenship) was an odd decision, since from the US’s perspective Puerto Rico has neither natural resources nor any special manufacturing resources." You echo a point I've made before concerning potential U.S. of part of A. interest in granting statehood to Puerto Rico: there is no economic upside anymore. You merely confirm that point of view. But you equate "natural resources" only with what you can extract from the ground or ocean and ignore the natural resource that is people. Furthermore, We have special manufacturing resources, as Our (albeit weakened) pharmaceutical industry can attest (still Top 5 in the world), and if We don't have these special manufacturing resources, and We are a U.S. of part of A. territory subject to its dominion, then whose fault is it?  Careless again, Mr. Kim. No good.

"Also, the nation’s education level is not high (18% college graduation rate), and the country depends primarily on tourism resources pumped in by the hundreds of millions of dollars from the US." May I quote Mark Twain to you, Mr. Kim? Thank you. "Lies, damn lies and statistics." The graduation rate in Puerto Rico is slightly over 41% if you take into account all incoming freshmen or slightly over 27% if you take into account all young adults between the ages of 18-26. It is not 18% unless you play with numbers or you listen to a liar. You didn't play with the numbers, so you listened to a liar. Keep that in mind. As for Us "depending primarily on tourism," you are again in the wrong. Our largest industries are pharmaceutical, banking and retail services. Tourism is important, but you imply it is a "primary" revenue source, as if insinuating We'd be scrabbling for crumbs if it weren't for visitors coming to look at Our poverty and lack of natural resources. It ain't so, Mr. Kim.

"Leading up to the (1993) referendum, Congress expected the people of Puerto Rico would overwhelmingly vote to become the 51st state of the US; this led some members of Congress to voice concerns about the budget to add a star to the national flag, to rewrite an amendment to the Constitution, and to revise textbooks." Something tells Me you weren't paying much attention to the debate if what you think was most important to Congress was a star or editing documents. The true issues were economic, as in "Puerto Rico's impact on the national budget" and, for Republicans, the fear that 4 million "potential Democratic votes" would tilt the fine two-party balance y'all enjoy up there. (I'm being sarcastic when I say "fine two-party balance." The rest is plain factual.) If you choose to ignore the deeper economic and even racial issues that the debate touched upon, that's your choice. But note that in doing so you are trivializing the larger issue of what We as a nation should do. As We shall see...

"Many members also said that they could not understand why Puerto Ricans would be opposed to becoming an independent country after nearly 500 years of living under the control of other powerful countries." Ignorance is bliss, Mr. Kim. Having not walked an inch in Our shoes, any blowhard can say whatever they want to from their piehole. Is independence better than "living under the control of other powerful countries"? I say yes. So why haven't the "many members" of this and previous Congresses (some of which you belonged to, Mr. Kim) not simply given it to Us? It's so easy to sit there and pontificate on what you don't know. I guess that's why you ran for Congress...

"However, the result of the referendum was that Puerto Ricans chose to maintain their current status and remain a US territory. The generally stated rationale was that there was no reason for the island to change it status since they received every benefit a US citizen has, with the added benefit of not having to pay taxes to the US government. That’s just the sort of thinking the people of a tropical island would have. Had it been Korea, the choice of independence would receive almost 100 percent of the votes." Fuck you, Jay. You don't know shit about the thinking We have. I don't mind you being a patriotic Korean and believing that your people would (almost) unanimously vote for independence. But let me point out that your country was annexed--taken over--by Japan and lived with that status until other more powerful nations gave you your country back, albeit in a mutant form. That your people, your so very independent people, accepted living as subjects of a foreign nation is, I guess, the sort of thinking people who live on a lumpy phallus of land would have.

"During my recent trip, I attended a dinner with the Governor of Puerto Rico, lunch with the Mayor of its capital (San Juan) in the City Hall, and a cocktail party with the Speaker of the House. All of these political leaders seemed to support statehood. My impression was that their stance was based on personal interests, i.e. breaking into American politics; for them, being a major politician on the island alone is not satisfying. If Puerto Rico was to become a US state, they would be allocated 2 seats in the Senate and 7 in the House of Representatives, and those men would have a pretty good chance to win those seats. We as Koreans, many of whom have died for our independence, can hardly understand the thinking of those that believe that comfort from being another country’s territory is better than protecting one’s own country." At the risk of repeating Myself, fuck you. Your people may have died for independence--some of Mine have as well--but you were given your independence. If you want to lord the idea that you have independence and We don't, go ahead, but don't go throwing rocks when you live in a glass house someone else built for you. And as for listening to statehooders, to quote Adam Savage, "Well, there's your problem right there!"

"...(T)he FBI’s recent arrest of 80 Puerto Rico police officers for the drug trafficking charge, broadcast live on TV, surprised the American public. I believe that, all the more due to this event, it will be difficult for Puerto Rico to become the 51st state of the US." As if the notion of Us becoming a state were actually within the realm of possibility for the American public...

Mr. Kim, you have every right to your opinion. You have every right to express that opinion in whatever forum you can reach. You even have the right to be uninformed and careless with your opinions...as long as you can get away with it. In this case, your ignorance, carelessness and blather are being called on the carpet. Stick to your neck of the woods and, unless you really step up your game, stay the hell out of Mine.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Update: 15 August 2011: It came to My attention that Kim-Chi Breath deleted the post I make reference to above. Indeed. Here's another site that has the complete post. And just to make sure Kim-Passe doesn't try to hide his ignorance again and again and again (the article is also deleted from the Korea Times archive), here's the text of his post, under a Korea Times banner:

Korea Times

Impressions from a trip to Puerto Rico
By Jay Kim

I visited Puerto Rico for a week in late September as a former U.S. Congressman. Puerto Rico is an island located near Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Its population is 4 million, and the country is relatively poor economically with an 18 percent unemployment rate and a $7,000 per capita income.

It is always hot and humid throughout the year there (the winters are just a little less hot), making the climate intolerable for those who grew up in a continental climate like Korea’s.

Like any tropical island, the people of Puerto Rico seem laid-back and not tough and hardheaded; perhaps this is because rushing does not lead anywhere but to the surrounding sea.

A Spanish colony for almost 400 years since Columbus discovered it in 1493; the 1898 victory of the U.S. in the Spanish-American War made it a U.S. territory. Hundreds of years of exploitation by European countries have made the native people of the island almost extinct.

In April 2000, the U.S. decided to give citizenship to people born in Puerto Rico. This was an odd decision, since from the U.S.’s perspective Puerto Rico has neither natural resources nor any special manufacturing resources.

Also, the nation’s education level is not high (18 percent college graduation rate), and the country depends primarily on tourism resources pumped in by the hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.S.

There was some claiming that Puerto Rico would not be a boon to the U.S. economy, leading to debates in Congress over what to do with the island. In 1993, when I was a sitting member of the U.S. House of Representatives, there was a referendum to decide the status of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Ricans were offered three choices: become an independent country, become the 51st U.S. state, or maintain its current status as a U.S. territory.

Leading up to the referendum, Congress expected the people of Puerto Rico would overwhelmingly vote to become the 51st state of the U.S.; this led some members of Congress to voice concerns about the budget to add a star to the national flag, to rewrite an amendment to the Constitution, and to revise textbooks.

Many members also said that they could not understand why Puerto Ricans would be opposed to becoming an independent country after nearly 500 years of living under the control of other powerful countries.

However, the result of the referendum was that Puerto Ricans chose to maintain their current status and remain a U.S. territory.

The generally stated rationale was that there was no reason for the island to change its status since they received every benefit a U.S. citizen has, with the added benefit of not having to pay taxes to the U.S. government.

That’s just the sort of thinking the people of a tropical island would have. Had it been Korea, the choice of independence would receive almost 100 percent of the votes.

During my recent trip, I attended a dinner with the governor of Puerto Rico, lunch with the mayor of its capital, San Juan, in the City Hall, and a cocktail party with the speaker of the House.

All of these political leaders seemed to support statehood. My impression was that their stance was based on personal interests, i.e. breaking into American politics; for them, being a major politician on the island alone is not satisfying.

If Puerto Rico was to become a U.S. state, they would be allocated two seats in the Senate and seven in the House of Representatives, and those men would have a pretty good chance to win those seats.

We as Koreans, many of whom have died for our independence, can hardly understand the thinking of those that believe that comfort from being another country’s territory is better than protecting one’s own country.

The U.S. currently has four territories other than Puerto Rico ― American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Washington, D.C., the U.S. capital. Each of them, from Puerto Rico with a population of 4 million to Samoa with a population of 660,000, has only one elected representative to the U.S. Congress.

These five representatives are treated as equal to any other U.S. Congressman and can become a chairman of a standing committee, but don’t have a vote in a plenary session.

In the U.S. Congress, these representatives are called “delegates,” or “resident commissioner” in Puerto Rico. For example, Eni Faleomavaega, the delegate from Samoa, is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

He is well known for being pro-Korea, and has frequently visited Korea as the chair of the subcommittee. Unfortunately, he does not have a final voting right on the House floor.

Another referendum on the status of Puerto Rico is expected around next year. Most Democrats in Congress agree that Puerto Rico should be the 51st state, but opposition from the Republicans is not easy to deal with, making the outcome hard to predict.

Unfortunately, the FBI’s recent arrest of 80 Puerto Rican police officers for drug trafficking, broadcast live on TV, surprised the American public. I believe that, all the more due to this event, it will be difficult for Puerto Rico to become the 51st state of the U.S. ]

25 October 2010

Where I Talk About Soap Scum

If Our governor talks and everyone's listening, has he really said anything?

Unlike the "tree falling in the forest when no one is there" philosophical launch point, the example above has a direct, incontrovertible answer: nuh-uh.

First, Let's just point out that The Larva, (non)governor Luis Fortuño, has the kinetic intelligence of soap scum. When was the last time you listened to soap scum?

Second, The Larva is waaaaay into his "two years to go before I get drummed out like a mangy dog by my own party" flop-sweat. By standing in front of a microphone and mouthing brain farts related to taxes or other economic issues he understands like soap scum understands particle physics, he expects to somehow, mysteriously, insanely galvanize a party base he's never really had to support a (non)administration he's never really had.

Third, if a tax """""reform""""" (yeah, I did this in the last post, too...) actually eliminates taxes on couples earning $20,000 or less per year, will this translate into votes for The Larva? There is no point in debating whether this will be a boon for Our economy or whatever because there is NO intent whatsoever to have this be an economic """""solution""""". (Okay, I'll stop now. """""Maybe""""".) This is a pre-emptive vote grab meant to become legislation in 2011 and--if The Larva can manage to stay dysfunctionally in office until then--become part of the campaign real estate of 2012.

Fourth, the tax "reform" is totally misguided, for the real (non)government's purpose is to raise money for its continued cancerous growth rate and thus can't afford to reduce government revenue for it will only make a horrid situation worse. The bottom line is that Our government is almost flat broke, will be flat broke soon (as debt exceeds GDP and debt service climbs above 30% of the Budget) and We're not going to be able or willing to pay for keeping it in luxury.

We shouldn't be now...but aside from lip service about the thieves and parasites, most of Us keep voting the same thieves and parasites back and slavishly angle Our lives to join them.

Idiocy. A step above soap scum in intelligence, but not by a hell of a lot.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

22 October 2010

Santa Should Be Dead

Apropos of Christmas music blaring way too freaking early in the freaking year, there's a near-decapitated Santa Claus standing just to My right.

I'm serious. Stupid mannequin's head has an 88-degree cant to the right, eyes looking 2.5 feet in front of its...feet. Cheery-red suit, off-white trim, glazed expression of merriment changed into a frozen mask of "What the hell?" faux-amusement at the fact that its neck is damn near broken. Exudes charm like a rotten fish shines: catches the eye, revolts nonetheless.

Like Our government. The Santa Claus of Our lives is damn near headless. (Yes, I'm referring to The Larva and its minions, which are smaller versions--albeit more poisonous--than The Jellyfish and its minions.) The jolly good cheer of Our government that was all fake all the time, its fantastical largesse to those who were on its "good list"--edited here to "good for nothing but parasitism" list--combined with its perversion of Santa's signature laugh to a listing of the three professions working in Our government (to wit: ho, ho and ho) and seasoned by the enormous sloth-based greed of Our folks to do anything in order to suck Santa's...teat...is long past time to die.

Re-read at your leisure. I'll still be here.

I'll (finally) cut to the chase: We should decapitate Our government. Short of loping off its head like a samurai slo-mo replay, We should at least break its neck. The top """""leaders""""" in Our government are worth more as mulch than as executives. They are more landfill than anything else, drawing salaries and later pensions that dwarf any conceivable multiple of their best contributions, if they ever make any. We can break them. We have to.

As long as We allow an outdated, incorrect and morally vapid fantasy about what Our government should be to dominate Our thinking, We are dooming Ourselves to pittances rather than progress, to victimization rather security and to servitude instead of mastery. We'll keep waiting for one that day a year when some benevolent illusion of generosity tosses the labors of someone else into Our laps and spending the other 364 days wallowing in muck, dreaming of that one magical day.

People, they are all magical days. There is no Santa Claus, for what We think of as a jolly elf We need to charm for "gifts" that keep Us servile is nothing but a money-hungry rapist with an overworked press office.

Time for Santa Clause to die.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

18 October 2010

Levels Of Stupidity

Seeing as how mega-stupid has become a standard here on My Island, Let's take a quick gander at defining levels of stupidity, by the numbers, going up (or is down?) from Level 1:

1) Harassing a woman.
2) Harassing a woman while drunk.
3) Harassing a woman-journalist while drunk.
4) Harassing a woman-journalist while drink, in an event with cameras present.
5) Doing all of the above and then claiming that part of the "reason" you did it was because you didn't understand English well.
6) Doing ALL of the above AND being a pro-statehood legislator from Puerto Rico.

Welcome to the mega-pits of stupidity of one Jorge "Kissy-Face" Navarro, caught on tape this past July 27th and now being shown on ABC News. Watch as the drunken walking bag of shithead politics repeatedly tries to kiss a visibly-repulsed young lady. Note that this walking bag of shit-faced politics is clearly labeled (in the video) as representing Puerto Rico, doing so in a way that is light-years ahead (or is behind?) what his actual job is supposed to be. And then note how this shit-for-brains, in-the-bag waste of flesh, one who built his shitty political career on espousing a fundamental need to feel manly and complete by denying his heritage and subsuming it all into another country's, one that speaks English, claims the incident is really a misunderstanding because--yeah, I finally get to it--he doesn't understand English very well.

Pause. Think about that. A pro-statehood shithead politician, one who ostensibly craves in cravenly fashion to join the U.S. of part of A., uses as his defense for acting like a drunken shit-faced boor the notion that he doesn't grasp the language well.

Okay, I'll ask the question: What else don't you grasp, Kissy-Face Idiot?

Off the top of My head I'd say:

1) "No" means "no".
2) People deserve to be treated with respect.
3) Drunk is stupid. You were stupid to begin with, then got drunk.
4) Representing your country means you behave well as a guest or a host.
5) As a public figure, cameras are your friend and enemy; depends on your behavior, you idiot.
6) If you want to join a country, the least you should is learn the language well enough to avoid looking like a blithering moron by whining "No comprendo inglés." 
7) The mature response to your behavior is "I'm sorry, I made a mistake." Or in the only language you as a pro-statehood shithead can barely manage "Lo siento, cometí un error."

I keep coming back to the same idea: every year We should have a lottery, pick one of these absolutely useless bags of walking stench and have it executed on national TV. In a few years, We'd get them all straightened out. As the comedian said, you can't fix stupid...but you can make it scarcer.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

15 October 2010

Cocks & (Pit) Bulls

The ramjet-plunging-straight down descent into deeper stupidity continues unabated...

Two lamebrain wastes of flesh in Our legislature are proposing bills targeted at animals. (Not at themselves, though there might be room in a few sentences for a "dumb bitches" reference that will alienate some of My fairer-sex readers.) One bill proposes that pit bulls be registered--for a cost, of course. The other proposes eliminating cockfighting, a traditional sport in Puerto Rico that moves more money than even the lottery.

First, dogs. The idea of registering pit bulls is based on the idea that pit bulls are ravenous beasts whose sole purpose is to rip flesh from people and go mad at the taste of blood. Pit bulls have developed this reputation because people--almost exclusively young men--have taken this strong, fiercely protective species and turned it into a fighting beast. Not to help the dog, but to use the animal as a weapon or money-maker in dogfights. Just ask Michael Vick.

The problem with this mega-stupid idea is that forcing people to register one species of dog will require not only a bureaucratic mess for registration, but also a compliance nightmare. The problem is not the dog: it's the person who owns and abuses the dog. And in a country where hundreds of thousands of dogs roam freely on Our streets, creating a series of problems We are woefully incapable of dealing with properly, the expected response to having to register and pay for a pit bull will be to simply release the animals out onto the streets. Or have Our woefully overburdened police force become an extended canine corps (of enforcement.)

This idea lacks any semblance of intelligence and serves more as a press release campaign than as a solution. It is simply another attempt by elected thieves to reach into Our wallets and rip out another few 20s in order to preserve their pashah lifestyle. Like fungus in a crack, these Fools keep stretching deeper into the bedrock of society and will ultimately weaken it to collapse. Not too far in the future, either.

But some prefer a faster-than-fungus approach to shake Our society. Another legislator, a woman like the first (thus the chance for a comment about dum--okay, forget it...), has suggested eliminating cockfighting in Puerto Rico. Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with the "sport," cockfighting pits two roosters who claw and peck at each other until one cannot continue. The loser usually ends up on the menu of either the cockfighting arena's cafeteria/restaurant or the owner's neighbors.

My paternal grandfather raised roosters for cockfighting for over 50 years. Many men in Puerto Rico have direct or close experience with the "sport." And as noted above, because gambling on cock fights is legal here, the amount of money that changes hands in open and private bets exceeds that of lottery sales. To try to ban it would be akin to pushing gun control in Montana: you'll get nowhere and only piss people off something fierce.

Unlike other mega-stupid ideas, I happen to agree in principle with this one. Cockfighting is a hideous "sport," one whose sole purpose is to maim or kill an animal. To think that the animal is "noble" or "courageous" for being bloodied is to mistake instinct for integrity. The argument that cockfighting allows the poor farmer to rub elbows with the rich doctor on equal terms is fatuous at best and venomously condescending at worst. But cockfighting in Puerto Rico has been "the people's sport," if by "people" you mean "men" and by "sport" you mean "bloodfest" since the 17th century. It greatly pre-dates the American Revolutionary War. Does this Fool really think that her bill slash used toilet paper will make a whit of progress in curtailing this spectacle?

Only if she's an idiot and by Foghorn's unseen gonads, she damn sure is.

That both of these bills come from proponents of statehood is not only expected, it's endemic. The pro-statehood party here has bought directly into the New American Dream of  "Be so pathetic, so horribly pathetic, that others just HAVE to do a makeover on your ass." Their idiotic attempts at gouging Our wallets and undermining Our society are aimed at making Us so pathetic, so horribly pathetic, that the U.S. of part of A. would have no choice but to FLING statehood at Our asses.

As a strategy, that's like a single woman slamming her face into a wall while scarfing 11,000 calories of junk food a day in order force the handsome rich guy to marry her. Pity is a poor basis for any relationship. And believe Me, the U.S. of part of A. has no pity for Puerto Rico, because pity requires at least a semblance of interest: you can't have pity for what you are sublimely indifferent to.

I could end this post with some pithy and witty putdowns using "cocks" and "bull" as the themes to riff on, but I'll decline what would be a pleasure to both of Us in favor of a simple "We continue the cock and bull story...unfortunately."

The Jenius Has Spoken.

13 October 2010

The Four Opportunities Choice

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!

Times are tough. People all around Me say things like "The economy is brutal" and "Things are getting worse." They have a point. But they miss the point, too: within every crisis, there is opportunity. No, I'm not talking about that urban myth about the Chinese ideogram for "crisis" being the combination of two others ("problem" and "opportunity"), I'm talking about reality. It's simple: if times are tough, and they are, and they are tough for a lot of people, and they are, then solving a problem within the crisis leads to benefits for lots of people. And people pay for benefits. (Let's ignore welfare for a moment here in pursuit of the larger picture, okay?)

So where are the opportunities in this time of crisis? Glad you asked. Here's four I came up with over a cup of overly-sweet coffee: Help people 1) Save time. 2) Save money. 3) Gain health. 4) Gain knowledge.

Simple, right? Pretty damn obvious if you ask Me and I'm glad you did. But I'm pretty sure you're scratching your head wondering how to get it done, how to make these "opportunities" appear out of thin air. Well, all you need to do is A) Keep your eyes and mind open and B) Want to come up with ideas.

Most people have trouble doing (A) (too much work) and (B) (ditto), but no one ever said that Life was either fair or easy. But take that reality and understand that most people are just slogging through Life on auto-no-pilot, drones programmed by media and society, secure in their illusion that the world is unchangeable because they can't be bothered to think about it.

But an example makes this easier to understand. For the past few weeks, I've been using a bakery near My house as an external office, to help break routine and stay productive. The place serves meals to walk-in customers, take-out and has delivery to neighboring offices and homes (within walking distance.) They also serve food to the video game players that populate the literal back room from opening at 6 a.m. to closing at 11 p.m.

The bakery throws away a lot of food every day. A lot. I asked an employee how much on average and she estimated they dumped enough food every day to heartily feed 40-50 people, abut $100-$200 worth of food a day. Now apply the 4 "Help People" provisos listed above and what do you come up with? (Remember, you want the bakery to make money, as if you were the owner.)

Here's what I came up with: Offer weekly meal plans for 85% of a 5-day lunch purchase and a healthier meal plan (listed as such) for 75% of the 5-day average cost. Lunch sells for about $5, so 85% of $25 is roughly $21.00. But the healthier option comes out to about $19...and costs less to prepare, as it avoids higher-priced fare such as pork and beef in favor of chicken and fresh vegetables (the local Plaza de Mercado is just across the street.) The end results? A reduction in the amount of food prepared, a way to provide better service (deliveries can be regularly scheduled instead of "when called") and increased profits based on steadier (predictable) revenue.

Yes, the excess food can also be given to a food bank, but there is none in My town. Maybe it could be donated to some worthy group, but the problem the bakery needs to solve is not hunger, it's operational profit. The bakery employs some 26 people who are better off if the business thrives than if it gives away food. The idea for the hungry is to create a food bank that properly collects excess food from local restaurants, bakeries, cafeterias and such and systematically tracks its delivery to the needy while registering the donation for proper tax deduction.
When times are tough, the tendency is to either throw one's hands up in despair or to run around trying to solve everything and in effect, solving nothing. At the personal level, all you, I and anyone else can do is improve our own lot by helping others improve theirs. In that way, We all thrive and create a stronger engine of progress. But too many of Us bail out and many others opt for "screw you" tactics that create greater fragmentation. No, I am not advocating socialism: I am advocating the creation of value, which is the only true coin an economy can have. Create enough value--not on paper, but in concrete results--and you have augmented an economy, whether its your own or your nation's.

But you have to want to do it. You have to choose to do it. And then you have to do it.

Like that's any different from the rest of Life...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

11 October 2010

Gunning The Underground Economy

[And more Jenial Thanks to Janine-Mendes Franco and Global Voices Online for picking up My previous post on how We cannot survive with widespread corruption. As always, I am honored by appearing on that site.]

Several months before the sales tax passed, I predicted it would help perfect the underground economy. The visible proof of that development is the increased number, size, scope and range of flea markets that popped up all over the Island.

Now here's another prediction: gun shops are going to start seeing a decline in sales. So far, since 2008, many gun shop owners have reported increases in sales, despite serious rises in the prices of bullets and guns. As the economic crisis hits harder and crime stats are seen to be rising, one would expect gun sales to increase...and they have. But guns are pricey items, subject not only to inflation, but to bureaucracy. Local Fools--paid as legislators but essentially dumb beasts running rampant--are seeking to add even more restrictions to guns and gun ownership. Idiots, they are.

You can do the math: increased interest/need/want for guns coupled with increased cost/hassle/red tape equals...underground economy solution.

At a flea market I've visited several times since late 2008, I have seen three stalls or vans selling air guns or pistol replicas, the kind that shoot BBs, pellets or rubber shot. The most interesting thing about these stalls is that they have invariably had a crowd in the back, away from the merchandise, buying boxes of items...in cash. If they were buying air guns or replicas, they would buy where I stand. But they aren't, so they don't.

Want to guess what type of stolen property from house break-ins has risen close to 60% in the past year? Guns. Gun shop owners are telling me that they used to get 1-2 calls a week about stolen weapons: what to do, what they could replace them with, how to secure them better for the future. Now many of these businessmen are telling me they are getting 1 or 2 calls a day about thefts.

What does this mean for Us? What impact will increased gun ownership have, seeing as how much of it is illegal? Two thoughts come to mind:

1) Our society will get more dangerous. Guns reduce violence only when the ownership is one-sided and the guns are used openly. Think "police state," "prison camp" or "police shooting innocent person." When guns are deemed "secret weapons" and the chance of using them is bolstered by the "surprise factor," guns help turn critical situations into shootings. We'll see proof of this prediction in the coming months in news reports.

2) The underground economy will hollow itself out. As long as the underground economy is seen and used as a way to make extra money, ease daily life and avoid taxes, it gets stronger. When guns and gun sales enter in the equation, the underground economy ceases to be a leveler and becomes a battlefield. Literally. For each gun sold, the leveling effect tilts from cooperative to combative. Fewer people will want to get involved and what was once a burgeoning supportive market becomes, once again, a fringe activity. The center, as the phrase goes, cannot hold.

Taken to its extreme, what will replace the underground economy? Here's a hint: Think "Monopoly."

The Jenius Has Spoken.

08 October 2010

Corruption Leaders/Followers

Happy Birthday, Sis! 

[More Jenial Thanks to Janine-Mendes Franco and Global Voices Online for posting My take on the FBI-led police corruption case.]

What does Us more damage: widespread corruption or stupid leaders? One could argue that stupid leaders "lead" to widespread corruption, or even that widespread corruption "leads" to stupid leaders. Hold those thoughts. For now, Let's just pick one or the other, as if the choice We made were totally separate. Widespread corruption or stupid leaders?

My vote is that widespread corruption does more damage than stupid leaders. Cynically, We've always had stupid leaders, but We've only had widespread political corruption since the Stupid (corrupt)Administration of the 1990s (which adds credence to the "they're both connected" theory noted above. Hold that thought.) We probably had widespread political corruption before then (depends on your definition of "widespread"), but We had notable cases of rampant corruption in the police force since the 1970s, so maybe We should take that into account.

It seems non-coincidental that Puerto Rico's socioeconomic decline is almost precisely matched to the 1968-1972 period, where a lamebrain (faux)governor packed the government with thousands more employees for three reasons: (1) to buy votes; (2) to make up for not having a damn clue about actually helping the Island prosper and (3) to buy votes. The expansion of government may have started a trend towards less accountability, which means greater chances for corruption, as evidenced by the police corruption cases of the early 1970s where the elite watchmen were nailed. When no one watches the watchmen, they plunge into corruption. In this case, stupid leaders launch the chance for widespread corruption.

But who was watching the leaders watching the watchmen? We were...not. The 1970s marked a fundamental change in local politics and the way Our democracy staggered forward. What was once a minority subject to a clear majority became the perceived--and thus actual--majority. In basic terms, the small government became the big government, and where once it was the government of the few for the many, it became the government run by many, led by few...ultimately for the few.

After 1968, the government quickly became the single largest employer on the Island. Day after day, the increase in jobs and pseudo-services fed the increasing tendency we have as boricuas to "wait for the government to do something," because the government was not only larger, it was closer, in the sense that more of Us were either in it or directly related to it by blood or friendship or patronage.

And where blood and friendship couldn't swing a service or fill a need, there was always patronage.

I said this before and it bears repeating: corruption is a matter of choice and if the perceived consequences are reduced, the chance for corruption increases. If you work at the Permits Office and you see one of your co-workers accept a bribe and get away with it, you might turn away in disgust. But if you see multiple instances of corruption with no penalties, you will reach a point where you think "Maybe I can do this, too" and then you make your ultimate choice. Human nature being what it is, risk-averse, when the risks are perceived to be acceptable, either because "no one is watching" or "everyone is doing it," then taking the plunge becomes much easier.

Now imagine what happens in a society where by vice of a huge government linking practically everyone on the Island, providing thousands of potential exchanges a day in a historically-stagnant economy, blindly electing the same double-handful of idiots to leverage their influence and hopefully benefit directly from it, saddled by an inferiority complex that greatly prefers a handout (or profitable shortcut, legal or not) to honest earning and increasingly bombarded by dozens of examples of widespread corruption a month?

You get Us.

We're a society that doesn't grow because We expect others to make Us grow. We're a society that doesn't make Our own changes because We expect others to make Us change against Our non-existent will. And thus We're a society where widespread corruption forces Us to live with stupid leaders. For no matter how stupid--or smart--a leader can be, widespread corruption cannot happen unless We as a society allow it. We can and have and will survive stupid leaders; We can and have but will not survive as a society with widespread corruption.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

06 October 2010

Corruption Is The Norm

[Jenial Thanks to Janine Mendes-Franco, of Global Voices Online, for picking up My post on "fast food stamps."]

Just days after the current mayor of Vega Baja, on the northwest coast of My Island, was slapped with charges of corruption comes the news that the largest FBI corrupt policemen investigation is going down in Puerto Rico. At present, nearly 90 police officers have been arrested along with some 45 others for, amongst other crimes, drug dealing, providing protection to drug deals and falsifying cases.

Now I'm pretty sure that this "biggest cop corruption case in FBI history" is more a technicality than a reality, given the many cop corruption cases in places like New York, Detroit, Los Angeles and particularly New Orleans. The technicality comes from the fact that the FBI was not the lead agency in those investigations, which begs the question: Why was the FBI the lead agency in this one? Why did some 700 FBI agents take part in this case? 

There's only one answer: We couldn't tackle the case Ourselves.

Yeah, go ahead you jingoistic knuckleheads, bitch about it. And you gringos can nod your fatuous heads. You're both wrong. The reason We couldn't handle the case is not because the FBI is a federal agency intent on crushing Us nor was it because We are dumb and the FBI/Americans are smart: It's because corruption has become the norm in Puerto Rico and no local agency could ever hope to make headway against it.

You'll get proof of this when the FBI starts releasing its case information and makes it clear that they had to be dragged into it. Why? Two very powerful reasons: (1) The FBI prefers to focus on "big picture" investigations involving domestic crimes, not local "dipsticks dipping their sticks" imbroglios; and (2) this type of investigation makes it harder for the FBI--often seen as an intruder/invader/abuser of local police forces--to work with local law enforcement. Let's face it: to the FBI, Puerto Rico isn't worth aggravating their potential stances vis á vis the 50 States...unless there was no one else available to do the job.

And Let's be clear on this: this is in no way the FBI's fault. It is clearly, unequivocally and totally Ours. For years We have been tolerating a level of corruption that guts Our society like stomach cancer rots the gut. We ay bendito the whole damn mess away from Our minds in order to continue glued to Our big-screen TVs, distracted by Our equally-corrupt politicians and acting the whole time like the problem is someone else's to fix.

Well this time, someone else had to fix it. We've lost the ability to police Ourselves, pun fucking intended. We're no longer a healthy society, capable of fighting off infection: We're sick, diseased and without outside help, We'd simply get worse. How's that for "Yo soy boricua" pride?

The problem with corruption in Our police force was plainly evident years ago as the "elite squad" cases and the Cerro Maravilla incident of the 1970s proved. The problem with corrupt government officials--of both parties, you blithering idiots who see only "one party" corruption--has been equally evident since decades ago, and has also been "graced" by the presence of the FBI in the past few years.

To be clear, this is not a case of "federal" vs. "local," or "American" vs. "boricua" or much less "oppressor" vs. "oppressed": it is a case of an "outside enforcer" doing what the "on-site enfeebled" can no longer do. It is a case of the proactive actor doing what the pathetic patient can't do... or won't.

While We rearrange things to keep kids from learning and super-size the happiness levels of Our triple-handful of freeloaders, Let's notice--if only in passing--that We are losing Our society's ability to act in an adult, mature and self-responsible way, to the point where We don't give a cop's corrupt ass that it takes outsiders to do it.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Update: 8 Oct 2010: Quoted here from NPR News, but reported in other sources: "The civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department is pursuing its own investigation into an alleged pattern of abuses including use of excessive force, unconstitutional searches and discriminatory policing. That investigation could lead to the federal government taking a role in reforming Puerto Rico's police."]

[Update: 2 Nov 2010: From The Criminal Rap Sheet.net, a listing of Eight Terrible Police Scandals. Check out one Col. Alejo Maldonado, a bottom-feeding, verminous scumbag "cop" who ran rampant through Us in the 1970s. And note how 60 of "Our finest" got bagged for drug charges in 2001-2002.]

04 October 2010

Fast Food (Indig)Nation

Poor people tend to be fatter than the middle class or upper class. It's a well-studied phenomena; probably should be called "The Mississippi Effect." The reasons are fairly easy to enumerate: less access to lower-priced healthy options, an over-reliance on foods that are high in calories and low in nutritional value...and frequent fast food consumption.

For poor people, their options for buying groceries are limited to smaller stores or convenience marts where food prices are often substantially higher. And even when they can buy groceries at large supermarkets, the limited income reduces their options. As I read in a recent article, a woman said "Yes, I know milk is better for my kids, but a gallon costs $3 and I can get 3 gallons of soft drink for the same price. You do the math."

Poverty, in its absolute or relative form, forces a person to seek comfort in aspects of survival, whether the expression is escape, sex or food. Fast food, high in fat, salt and calories, is made to appeal to the baser side of a person's appetite. It's success is based on being so tasty you want it again, no matter that its nutritional components can destabilize your body towards obesity.

Now take poverty and food program support to help those in poverty and watch as The Fools here on My Island make a blatantly crass appeal for votes by opening up the "food stamp" program to buying fast food. Uh-huh, your government dollars are now going to McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell and further points south of healthy eating. This at a time when the incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease, both strongly linked to diet and nutrition, are on the rise in Puerto Rico.

Okay, maybe the Fools are trying to kill poor people. Wouldn't be the first time. Or maybe in their nano-sized peabrains they believe that by allowing federal funds to be spent in fast food nation they will (a) make poor people happier, (b) get them to eat better or (c) stimulate the economy. All three are bogus, but the Fools are synonymous with bogus.

The bottom line is clear: a program aimed at supplementing poor nutrition to preserve health is now a bandwagon politicians and freeloaders can use to super-size their chow. Puerto Rico has got to be the most bass-ackwards nation on Earth, canceling chess in schools because it's too passive while flinging federal funds around to promote fast food excesses.

Hopefully that waist-expanding largesse will be struck down, just as the chess idiocy was overturned. But if it isn't, if Our poor are going to line up more often to order combos with nonchalant agrándalo glee, then I hope We make it the last of the mega-stupid ideas.

Yeah, like that's going to happen.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Update: 7 Oct 2010: New York seeks to ban the use of food stamps to purchase of sugar-sweetened drinks. Make up your own joke at Our expense.]

01 October 2010

10% Shooters

I sat down with a group of 12-14 year olds, most of them boys. We were talking about sports, mainly basketball. At one point, one of them mentioned that Kobe Bryant was an amazing shooter, a guy who never missed any shot he took. I pointed out that Kobe was great, but that his shooting percentage was just slightly above average.

Blank looks. Only two boys nodded, My nephews, with whom I've discussed this point before. The other kids were puzzled. I explained that Kobe shoots a little under 50% (actually, about 45%), which given his position and the defenses he faces, is pretty good.

More blank looks. I explained that Kobe made about half of his shots. One boy, a little miffed, said: "But he scores like 30 points a game!" I nodded. "How many shots does he take?" The boy said "About 50." That's when the argument began.

You see, the kids had no true idea of what 50% meant in the context of "real" numbers. They couldn't equate "50%" to a basketball game, to a player taking a number of shots and making half of them and thus estimating his/her scoring average. They had Kobe taking anywhere from 10 to 50 shots a game, but none could state with a reasonable degree of certainty that Kobe takes about 20-21 shots a game to average his close to 30 points a game (free throws percentage not factored in).

Here's the problem: All of these were kids who had high or very high grades in school, all of them in grades 6 to 8. Despite this, they could not apply what they had learned to a context that they were very familiar with. They couldn't wrap their minds around the notion that "50%" is not some abstract mathematical test concept, but an actual component for real-life observation and analysis. In short, they couldn't use their knowledge because they didn't think it was useful.

I'm not going to advocate more "real-life math verbal problems" or any crap like that; that's beside the point. The point is that Our children are being force-fed a smelly metric ton of "facts" without the benefit of contextual application (not just "what," but "how") and without being taught any method whatsoever to create connections between those facts. As one boy said when he didn't understand what I was saying, "The (shooting) percentage doesn't matter," and it was only when the other kids practically ganged up on him that he finally understood that, yes, a 50% scorer is worth more than a 10% shooter. 

In Our rush to have Our kids "score high" on tests, We have developed kids who score low on pretty much everything else beyond those tests. Kids who have the fascinating abilities needed to understand and master complex games and a wider range of scenarios than any other generation in Our history are treated daily in Our wretched educational system like coin-operated fact machines and kicked when the "product" is either examined too closely ("No questions!"), changed in some way (that's what "learning" is, a bad thing in this system) or worse, is the wrong product (makes the whole system look bad, you know.)

The debate moved from Kobe's shooting percentage to who's the better player, him or Lebron James (I voted for Kevin Durant) and then to less weighty matters. The kids scattered and I know I'll see most if not all of them again and again in the coming years. But aside from My nephews, and My son, I doubt any of them will learn to make connections between facts, to seek links where none are laid out clearly, to consistently think and relate what they know and learn to what's going on around them, in essence, to learn to learn every day. Too many of those kids will turn into semi-comatose drones, unthinking consumers, puppets in the hands of loudmouths and servants to energetic idiots. Like their teachers. Like their parents. Ten percent shooters in a world where 50% is considered good.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

29 September 2010

Fear Trumps Growth

Allow Me to remind you of a hee-yuge topic that you don't hear squat about anymore: cutting government jobs.

If you've read My previous remarks about this, you'll know I'm far from surprised. I even quantified My lack of surprise by stating that (non)governor Luis "The Larva" Fortuño would not exceed 7,000 firings in his 4 years (not) at the helm. According to the government's own figures, the number of jobs actually reduced as of June 2010 was barely 2,600...and this from the (non)administration that wants to trumpet high numbers. (So what I'm saying here is that they're lying.)

The two primary reasons for the (non)firings--sorry, force of habit: non-firings--is that We have used the government employee system to prop up Our political economy (emphasis on "politics," denial of "economy") and because We, as a nation, are a bunch of cowards. We refuse to face up to the very simple facts that (a) We are responsible for this mess, (b) We prolong this mess and (c) It is up to Us--and only Us--to fix this freaking mess.

We won't. At least not in the sense of proactively grabbing the leprous bull by the horns and making the changes We need; it'll be change coming from "everything's screwed up to total uselessness," and change is thus forced. And you know how popular and painless forced changes are...

The hullaballoo, the angst, the ridiculous excesses from Fools, protesters and pundits with the brains Nature gave a flea's ass all come down to this: silence. Inertia. A return to "failed business as usual" because, what the hey, Obama sent checks! We remain where We are--and shouldn't be--because We lack the courage to stand up to the challenges We have created for Ourselves and thrash out solutions for growth.

The saying goes that a cowards dies a thousand deaths, a brave person only one. Tell Me, Brethren, how many thousands of Us are dying a thousand deaths...day after day after day?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

27 September 2010

Pigs Held Up To Apples

Sat in a bakery for close to six hours. One that has pastries made at 5 a.m. and sold at 3 p.m. One where lunch is available at 9 a.m. and pretty much still there at 5 p.m. Where bread comes only out a handful of times a day, because the money-maker isn't the food, but the video gambling machines that take up almost half the commercial space. Would take up more if it weren't for having moved an equal amount of glittering cabinets across the street to form a Medieval-themed Game Room.

Sat in the bakery for close to six hours. Surfed the Web, wrote several pages of stuff, read a book, watched the rain...watched the employees. Ah, the employees. Wage-earners that form the backbone of what We laughingly call Our economy. You'd recognize the types:

1) The young one who skimps work with clever ease: Young lady, early 20s, with two kids that she "has" to call every 15 minutes or so to find out of their "cough" has gotten any better. Spends 6-7 minutes on the phone, discussing the news, soap operas, recent shopping, future shopping and how she's "swamped" with work. Hangs up, says "May I help you?" to a client, then walks away to "check something out in the back." Comes back a few minutes later, wonders aloud about her kids, then again, then again, then again, then still again until she picks up her cell phone and makes another 5-minute call. Does this several times--never tends a customer directly--leaves at 1:50 to "pick up her kids"...who are being brought to her by a friend as she speaks. The kids look hale and hearty, not a sign of a cough within a mile of either one, bless their little hearts. No hugs, no kisses for the tykes, but a brief screed to the friend about how "miserable" her job is. Her friend asks if she can leave as it's still not 2 p.m. The young lady makes a sour face and says she's done enough and the owner (of the bakery) can go screw himself if he dares to mention she left a few minutes early. They all pile into a late-model car, cherry red, and she pulls out into traffic without looking. The kids are not in car seats.

2) The government bureaucrat in private employ: Woman in her mid-30s, about 12 pounds from upping to "fat" from "big-boned," blonde hair a tribute to chemical abuse. Sour expression all the time. Looks at customers as if they were interruptions in her otherwise unbreakable stream of semi-conscious self-loathing. Smiles with her lower lip only, like a constipated baby. Makes bitter remarks to customers she's seen hundreds of times, makes even more bitter remarks to co-workers, especially about the bathroom's general level of cleanliness. One answers her repeated remarks with "When was the last time you cleaned it?" to which Our Bitter Kvetch responds airily "It was several months ago and I can't do it anymore." She claims a bad back hampers her, but she readily agrees to walk every delivery to nearby locations, even those with several box-loads of cakes and donuts. Takes almost an hour to deliver 4 boxes two blocks away. Her excuse coming back was that the walk made her feel dizzy. Not ten minutes later, she aggressively badgers a co-worker out of walking a delivery of 8 bread loaves to a nearby café. The woman says she can be back in 10 minutes and the Bitter Kvetch says she can too. Comes back 77 minutes later, complains about the heat making her dizzy, then grabs her lunch (11:42 a.m.) and takes until 1:26 p.m. to eat it. Notices Me making notes and typing and asks if I'm working for her boss. Grunts when I reply that neither of Us is. Leaves at 4:06 and loudly proclaims she should get overtime pay for those 6 minutes. Three hours later, I happen to see her walking around the town plaza, still in her bakery uniform (neon-green T-shirt and jeans two sizes too small) and not a sign of dizziness in her step.

A man drives past a farmer holding a pig up to an apple tree so the porker can eat the fruit. The man stops and says to the farmer, "Why don't you knock the apples down for the pig to eat?" The farmer, puzzled, asks back: "What for?" The man says, "To save time!" The farmer thinks about it for a second, shakes his head and says, "What's time to a pig?"

I'm probably the farmer in this scenario, wasting My time with pigs. But I'm not the only one. We coddle these pigs, holding them up to give them an undeserved benefit they could get otherwise. We coddle these pigs by giving them permanent jobs they can't be fired from, no matter how useless they become. We coddle these pigs by letting Our tendency of "Ay bendito" tolerance let them get away with behavior and inactions We should never tolerate. And before you go off on Me about the abusive bosses and supervisors who seed terror in their employees, ask yourself this: What do We have more of? Slackers at every level outnumber the abusers by an ample margin.

Yes, I also know the blame for holding these particular pigs up (and there are men who fit this category, only not mentioned in this post) belongs to the bakery's owner, who compounds his mistake by having his 4.6-on-the-Richter-scale herd of a daughter on the payroll as "Assistant Manager," a girth, uh, girl, so besotted with herself she thinks she's (a) attractive and (b) thus entitled to getting away with her whims. She doesn't pull her weight (if she could, she'd OWN several bakeries by now) and that spreads to the other employees.

Maybe six hours in this bakery was four too many. Time sharpened by boredom has a way of exacerbating My sarcasm and overall tendency to make fun of stupidity. But when there's so much stupidity to mock, there comes a point where even than gets dull. But for the next few weeks, when I watch employees going about their zombie ways, I'll remember the bakery, until some other place and time give Me another angle and level of pigs being held up to apples.

The Jenius Has Spoken.