31 May 2010

Lights (Too Often) Out

Number 11 just happened... The 11th time in the past 10 days that power has gone out at Chez Jenius.

Now I don't want to hear any excuses. This is 2010 and We've had a power grid in development since the 1940s, so there is no excuse possible. People complain about the lack of electricity when their ACs don't run (thus rediscovering that We live, in fact, on a tropical island) and when their TVs go dark (thus facing the prospect of actually thinking about what to do, for a change.) I neither use AC nor give a crap about TV except for sports: what I do care about is pathetic electrical service blinking off and on and utterly destroying not only equipment, but also undermining Our economy as well.

Now a lot of people here will resent this remark, but in terms of relying on Our grid for constant power, We're definitely edging into "Dominican" territory. For years it's been a local truism that the Dominican Republic has lousy  electrical service. It did, and in some ways, it still does. But glance across the Mona Channel and you will see not only a high-tech industrial park that kicks Us in the teeth, you will also see 5 superports.


We ain't got one. And what do you think powers those facilities if not a reliable electrical infrastructure?

Sure, the DR has more land than We do and cheaper labor in relation to the dollar. That helps build superports and industrial parks. But no business worth its weight in cash is going to put millions of dollars in a country unless they are certain that the utilities they need are reliable. The Dominican Republic's measure up, while Ours increasingly...don't.

Now maybe the bulk of Dominicans are paying for the industrial access to electricity by being deprived of reliable and high-quality electrical service for their homes and by paying a high price to subsidize the industries. So what? We're doing the same with Our water. And I can assure you that there's a much thinner margin of capacity in Our water supply than there is in the Dominican's growing power supply.

I'm pretty sure the brownouts and blackouts have burned out some of My electrical equipment, including My highly-treasured Mac. Even the surge protector was fried by too-frequent surges. Just across the street, a young family was exploring the vacant house on sale, the real estate agent a little anxious, as this is her fifth showing of the house that I've seen, and Mammon knows the market's squeaky tight. The power went out and a generator fired up in its very familiar dull thrum. The agent's demeanor went from anxious to dull, her shoulders slumping a bit. They all talked for a moment and I heard the agent say "If you're interested in another property here in Cabo Rojo, I can find you something." The gentleman's comment was too low for Me to hear, but the agent's response was clear: "Well, it happens more in town than in the suburbs because the lines are older."

The guy didn't look convinced at all. I don't think he's buying anything here. And neither will investors who come to Our Island and find it darker than expected.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

28 May 2010

Here, My Brethren: Learn Something

Can you pass a simple "citizenship test"? Go ahead: try. 

Why? Because you'll learn something. You see, you really don't know as much as you think you do, and as a citizen, lack of knowledge makes you a weaker citizen.

And what should you, as a citizen, know about most in this shaky U.S. of part of A.? The Constitution. It is still the basis of rule in the increasingly-fearful nation where fascism, once the greatest of evils, is now an entrenched party platform plank.

Explore The U.S. Constitution here. Go from being blind to being a Cyclops, but that one eye will make a world of difference in how you perceive the country and your role in it.

And why bother, My Brethren of this colonial property of the U.S. of part of A.? Because We are citizens by fiat and if We are to become citizens by right, We have to do it. We, people. 


The Jenius Has Spoken.

26 May 2010

Happy Birthday, Kaleb!!

You are 10 years old today, a growing boy who wins scholastic awards, including your grade's Academic Excellence Award, as well as collecting championship trophies in basketball. You make friends easily, act wiser than I (not a major compliment, but admirable nonetheless) and you make Me laugh.

I wish We had more time together, for though I have the freedom of freelancing, you don't. You are part of a game based on fear and control rather than one based on your growth and Our relationship, so the time We spend is less than it could or should be. It hurts. You deserve better as much as I.

We continue to explore the world together, for though your interests are more in the realms of technology, Mine are of the mind, so you ground Me to the latest gadgets and their uses and I launch you to think about things you never knew existed. I know sometimes that makes you uncomfortable, for you know I expect you to learn, but think about how calm and comfortable you feel when a "new" topic comes in class and you are instantly ahead of the game. The same happens in Life, which is why limiting you now based on fear is doing you no good.

You have also learned to read people in ways I don't grasp. You absorb where I classify. It lets you deal with someone as they are without you changing your ways whereas I have to choose how to engage someone based on how I perceive them. My way takes time and energy; yours seems effortless. I don't know where you got that from, because it certainly can't be genetic. I'm going to blame the elves and magic beans.

In one way, ten years seems like an instant, but I have another way of viewing it, based on what We have shared, as I spent nearly every minute of the first 1,200 days or so of your life within your presence. I said this before: I spent more time with you in those days than My dad spent with Me in My entire childhood. And he wasn't a bad father; on the contrary. But he was from a different time and We--you and I--were in different circumstances.

The big change for you this year was that you now have a little sister, a tiny bundle that you don't know what to do with, but you will as she grows up and starts following her big brother around. You'll be surprised to see things in her that you see in yourself and you'll learn a lot about growing up. You'll also understand more of what We have shared and continue to share.

When I mock-complained that President Obama kept calling Me at 2 a.m. to complain about Congress and the media to seek My advice and that if I'd known he would bug Me so much I would've run for President, you swallowed your bite of hamburger and tossed off a blithe "You would have been the last white President in U.S. history." When I find a decent comeback for that skewering, I'll reopen that conversation. Until then, it's Kaleb 1, Me picking Myself up the canvas.

You are joy, a treasure and a part of My life I never cease to be amazed at. I love you, Kaleb. I always will.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

24 May 2010

White-Washing History

Crap!! I wish I'd written this! [The quoted section below, not the Texas/Arizona idiocy that follows...]

Following on the heels of the Texas Board of Education trying to erase Thomas Jefferson from its future history books--because Tommy wasn't stupid enough to dumb down his ideals--Arizona decided it liked the sound of jackboots profiling non-whites with a "Show Me Your Papers!" bill.  Then the Arizona snakes decided that schools must be kept pure by eliminating "ethnic studies," which would technically mean anything other than Native American studies, but Arizonans don't mean that, of course. Not be outdone, the Texas Board of Education now wants to rename the slave trade the "Atlantic triangular trade."

I shit you not. 

NOW comes the part I wish I'd written...Seeing as how Texas and Arizona are battling like defenestrated pigs going dumbass whitey-slanting stupid on Us, what if they decided to rewrite all of history? From Chauncey De Vega's wicked keyboard at the blog We Are Respectable Negroes, and picked up merrily by Macon D at the blog Stuff White People Do, comes this acerbic gem titled simply What Would U.S. History Look Like If It Were Written By Texas and Arizona?:

The Essential Dates and Events of U.S. History as Approved by the States of Arizona and Texas

1607– Jamestown founded. Capitalism, which can trace its roots to the Bible, is now firmly rooted in the New World.

1660-1800–Triangular Atlantic trade continues to bring wealth and prosperity to America while giving opportunities to new immigrants.

1776–War for Independence against the tyrannical, evil British empire. Colonists suffer oppression that is unprecedented in human history. Minutemen singlehandedly defeat the evil British Empire in 1783.

1788–The United States Constitution is signed as a document to stand for all time, inspired by God, and never to be changed.

1803-1848–America continues to expand westward into empty territories. American settlers make the land bloom with the help of friendly Indian tribes.

1823–America guarantees the freedom of all countries and people in the Western Hemisphere with the adoption of the Monroe Doctrine.

1848–Mexico, in an act of friendship following their humiliation at the Alamo by the great Republic of Texas, gives their territories to the United States.

1860s-1900s–The Gilded Age of prosperity. American capitalism provides opportunities for all people to grow wealthy, secure, and happy. Liberals and Progressives begin working against American freedom and capitalism by forming unions, demanding unfair compensation from their employers, limiting the rights of children to work in factories, and imposing restrictive regulations for the “safety” of employees. Many brave men die fighting Communist influenced unions as they riot in America’s cities.

1861-1865–Civil War fought because of an overreaching, tyrannical federal government and its desire to limit the freedoms of all Americans. 620,000 people die including many brave and noble black Americans who fought on the side of the Confederacy. Northerners and Southerners eventually find common ground through Redemption and move forward as brothers and sisters in the USA.

1865-1870s–Democratic terrorists called the Ku Klux Klan begin a reign of terror in the South until brave Republicans defeat them.

1906–Using the Antiquities Act, Theodore Roosevelt establishes the National Park System. In one bold stroke Roosevelt establishes Socialist policies that steal land from the American people.

1913–More Socialism and class warfare ushered into the U.S. with the federal income tax system.

1917–America enters and wins World War 1 singlehandedly because the French are cowards.

1929–Great Depression begins. Tens of millions unemployed because of FDR’s failed economic policies. His New Deal introduces the nanny state, prolongs America’s economic collapse, and weakens the economy until Ronald Reagan renews America.

1941–Patriotic Japanese Americans volunteer to place themselves in gated communities so that America will be safe from Imperial Japan.

1941-1945–America enters and wins World War 2 singlehandedly because the French are cowards. Out of necessity, the United States drops atomic bombs on Japan.

1945-1965–A high point in U.S. history, as freedom and prosperity reign over all Americans.

1950–Senator Joseph McCarthy fearlessly highlights how America is infiltrated by communists from Russia and China. Big Hollywood and the liberal establishment are brought to their knees by his brave efforts.

1954Brown v. Board of Education removes the parental right to send children to the schools of their choice and with the company they desire. A dangerous and unconstitutional era of activist Supreme Court decisions begins.

1955-1968–George Wallace and Martin Luther King Jr. lead a Civil Rights Movement to ensure that all Americans are judged by “the content of their character and not the color of their skin.”

1964-Barry Goldwater ignites a revolution in Conservative thought and values that resonates to the 21st century.

1968–The cinematic classic The Green Berets starring John Wayne, America’s greatest actor, debuts.

1971–America largely withdraws from Vietnam on the cusp of victory because it was weakened by The Gays, The Women’s Movement, and “The Counter-culture.” The French are cowards whose failure forced the U.S. to intervene in Indochina.

1973Roe vs. Wade, the worst legal decision in the history of the Supreme Court is decided.

1974-Phyllis Schlafly, pioneer for the rights of women, takes a stand against evil Leftist feminists who want to ban motherhood, force mothers to work at jobs outside the home, join the military, become lesbians, and receive advanced educations which they do not need.

1974–Nixon forced to resign by liberal conspiracy.

1980–Ronald Reagan, America’s greatest president, restores American providence by ushering in a new era of economic prosperity, cutting the federal budget, and corrects the unfair federal tax code in order that the hard work of the richest Americans is justly rewarded.

1989–The Berlin Wall falls. Ronald Reagan wins the Cold War singlehandedly.

1992-2000–Democrat president Bill Clinton in office. His reckless personal behavior and irresponsible foreign policy choices weaken America internationally. The U.S. economy is almost destroyed by his tax policies. His wife Hillary Clinton furthers the march towards Socialism by advocating for free public health care and to destroy the insurance companies that drive U.S. economic growth.

2000–George Bush elected in a landslide.

2001–Terrorists attack America on September 11th. Because of Bill Clinton’s policies, a weakened border, a lax immigration policy, rampant multiculturalism, and the Democrats’ weakening of the military, America is left open to attack.

2003–Dr. King’s vision is finally made real. In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court strikes down the reverse discrimination policies of the University of Michigan. Freedom rings across the land.

2003–The country of Iraq, a rogue state, part of the Axis of Evil, and led by the dictator Saddam Hussein–a co-conspirator in the 9/11 attacks–is liberated by President George Bush.

2008-Arizona war hero John McCain introduces Sarah Palin to the world.

2008–Barack Obama is elected. America is in a Constitutional crisis as Obama is unable to prove that he is a U.S. citizen.

2008-the present. Brave Americans begin joining Tea Parties and 9-12 freedom groups. Millions of their members march on Washington DC.. Freedom fighter, James David Manning, places Obama on trial in absentia for treason and sedition.

2008–Sarah Palin, mother, governor, author, actress, comedienne and role-model begins here meteoric rise to political stardom. She ushers in an era of robust, common sense approaches to political problems tempered by real American values.

2010–Barack Obama remains President although his rule is illegitimate. Brave patriots such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh continue to lead the people’s resistance against his tyrannical rule.

2010-Patriotic legislatures in Texas and Arizona lead the battle against racial quotas and ethnocentrism as they draft legislation to defend all of America from an unending and unfettered stream of foreign invaders.

God damn I wish I'd written that!! Thanks, Chauncey. Keep up the Swift work.

The Jenius Has Quoted.

[Update: 10 June 2010: What Texas History books will be like from now on...]

21 May 2010

Pareto Price

It is called the Pareto Principle, but it's really just an observation, a general rule of thumb that states an 80/20 relationship between two conditions, such as the original statement by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto that 80% of the land in his country was owned by 20% of the people in it, or that 80% of the peas in his garden were produced by 20% of the peapods.

Like many misunderstood generalities, it has been used to try to explain things as different from each other as best sellers and boas mating. And ever so often, some 80/20 split comes up and when you dig into it, there's actual substance there.

Take this factoid, from the Latin American Herald Tribune: 80% of Puerto Rico Murders Called Drug-Related.

Who "called" this were law enforcement officials and academics, two of which are named in the article. With 894 murders last year, the 80% estimate means that some 715 murders--715--were drug-related. Most of the dead are less than 22 years old.

Our average school has roughly 400 students in it. At the current rate, the drug-related murders are emptying almost two of Our schools every year. I know Our schools suck, but being gunned down sucks light-years more.

The article also states that the average cost of keeping someone in prison in Puerto Rico hovers around $30,000 a year, an absolute joke because it takes less than $14,000 a year to provide a local student with a public college education (and raising that price is causing a lengthy, useless, brain-dead strike that will lead to nothing but booze-addled memories) and because at $30,000 a year, you KNOW some fat hogs are feeding at Our trough.

Now am I going to focus on the 20% of murders that are supposedly not drug-related? Of course not. I'm going to focus on the 80%, on how the deaths of so many of Our people have an impact on law enforcement, on government security measures that weigh down every product and person that enters Our bailiwick, on the court system, on prisons, on medical and forensic services and on the demagoguery that swirls around every bill that affects these services because that 80% is dying and the Fools don't care a whit except for the political mileage they can suck out of it all.

But here's the point: Half of Our adult population doesn't work or lives off of government funds. Of those that work, some 60% earn too little to pay taxes, meaning that 40% of half of Our workers are paying the taxes to underwrite the police, the courts, the prisons, the medical and forensic system and the government's blind grubbing under the mockery of security. And for those of you who can do simple math in their heads, 40% of 50% is...20%.

We may have 80% of Our murders related to drugs and We may have 20% of Our people footing the bill for its ramifications. No wonder so many of My Brethren don't care, as they fall in neither the 80%...or the 20%. 

The Jenius Has Spoken.

19 May 2010

Bank (Self-)Interest

Here's a brief post, for a change:

According to the much-maligned-by-Me Center for the New Economy [or in Jenius format: the (Old Guard)Center for (Delaying/Controlling/Quashing) the (Anything Related to this So-Called)New Economy (That We Control)], Our banking system is FUBAR and heading for even greater FUBARness, but...

It's "stronger".

Just when you thought there was a glimmer of brains in the CNE...it continues to be FUBAR.

We're down to 3 local banks, which are really only one and two appendixes (appendici?) and 4 "foreign" banks, one of which (Bilbao Vizcaya) has a cloud over it shaped eerily similar to vultures.


Our banking is screwed and yet, by being smaller, it is somehow stronger? By being further consolidated under one hand, it is stronger? By being more limited and less likely to invest in Us (what "conservative" banking means here is that monies are invested elsewhere that is not here), the folks that pretty much prop up the CNE are going to be "stronger"? Reeeaaallllyyyyy.

Methinks the interest rate in this cross-eyed analysis is not related at all to banks, but to self. That, too, is FUBAR.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

17 May 2010

New Neighbors, Old Problems

For the past 9 months, I've had "new" neighbors. I live in a neighborhood just outside the "downtown" area, with houses built in the early 1970s and extensively remodeled since. It is, for Our times, an "old" neighborhood with largely old people, folks in their 60s and 70s who have raised their families, seen them move away and in some cases, seen them come back.

As a neighborhood with a largely senior population (Me not included), the place is relatively quiet, day and night. There are small children around, but not many, and those that spend the day here are often spending the night elsewhere. You can drive around the whole place in about 4 minutes, past the basketball court/grassy field and loop around to emerge exactly where you came in (just one entrance/exit for the neighborhood), scattering the pigeons that still wait for the donut lady who's been AWOL for a few months now. All quiet, maybe a dog barking or birds chirping or an engine rumbling. Not serene, but peaceful in an urban way.

Except for My neighbors. One group moved in with blaring fanfare and within a week, another group took the house just next door, so My immediate neighbor and one removed are now these cacophonous freeloaders who turn a quiet residential area into a hustler's den.

Here's what I mean:

--My street was hit with a harsh flood in September 2008. Two houses at the end of it, four doors down from Mine, were abandoned after everything--from furniture to cars--were damaged. The two cars sat behind locked gates from that day until a couple of weeks after the noisy neighbors moved in. Within a 3-day span, they dismantled both cars. How do I know this? I watched them cart the car parts out in a small pickup truck.
--Less than a week after they all moved in, sneakers were slung around a nearby set of telephone and electric cables. Cars and young kids in bikes would swarm down the street, stop for a few seconds at the rounded curve just past My house, in front of theirs, chat briefly and then drive away. The busiest period was between 11:30 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., from Thursday to Saturday. How do I know? I tracked it for a few weeks.

--None of the folks that moved in--5 in one house and I think 7 in the other--has a job. One of the women speaks constantly at 85 decibels (she yells even in normal conversation) and has bragged that she doesn't need to work because she has the government to pay her way. (Both houses are rented under Section 8.) Of the five men, four spend their time working on cars (their own or those of other people) usually in the rounded curve area. Three other women have children and never leave the house alone, but always in pairs or with one of the guys.

--There have been 7 instances of public brawling or public arguing within these two households. Two of the incidents ended in property damage when one of the opportunistic mechanics swung a baseball bat at a new car and shattered the windshield, driver side door window and both outside rearview mirrors and in the other, Loudmouth took off peeling rubber after an argument with her mom and sideswiped a parked car, denting the driver side. The whole menagerie left and the owner of the car, attending a music festival in the town's plaza, spent six months trying to collect damages, only to be stopped by Legal Services because the woman and her family were "destitute."

--Destitution nowadays is different: Both houses receive assistance from WIC, the Food and Nutrition Program (locally known as PAN) and Section 8-discounted utility bills, even though they run their TV sets and ACs all day and wash cars and carports almost daily. The house next to Mine has 3 plasma screens of at least 60 inches each. How do I know? They moved them into the carport during a major "spring cleaning" effort last month. Looked like a Best Buy display as all three were on...even in the carport. Over the past 5 months, both houses have received deliveries from a local furniture chain 11 times (one of My neighbors has a daughter-in-law who works in that store) and according to the store manager, they have bought over $14,000 worth of furniture in that time. Again, how do I know? I went there as if "referred" by them and asked.

--One Sunday morning, just before noon, one of the younger men and two kids who frequently drift in and out on bikes after midnight (though both are barely 10 years old) were caught trying to siphon gas from My car. In broad daylight. In front of My house. When caught, they calmly picked up hose and can and mumbled past Me to their house, no sign of embarrassment at all.

There are other incidents: About a dozen of My neighbors' cars have "lost" rims, possessions inside the car and accessories outside the car. My upstairs neighbor (the house is split) caught one of the men in her laundry room (open porch area in the back of the house) pretending to be searching for a ball. She is a kind lady in her early 60s and after that incident, she left to stay with her daughter for nearly a month. I have caught 2 of them in My backyard, supposedly looking for a rabbit...but they could have done that by standing in their backyard and simply looking into My backyard instead of invading My space. Because that's what they do: invade space and start grabbing what they can.

Four times I have gone to the local police department, with My notes to explain what's going on. Their response? "We know about them." And that's it. When I wanted to press charges on the attempted siphoning (happened last month), I was told I had no case. Possibly true (fingerprints, anyone?), but part of the police's job is prevention, and wouldn't a brief visit serve as notice? In the entire time the "new" neighbors have lived nearby, despite the many incidents, calls, visits and complaints about the loud music, petty theft, illegally-parked cars, illegal business operations (mechanical and otherwise) and trespassing, there's been only one visit by the police. One. And that from the owner of the bat-beaten car who swore a complaint against her nephew who wielded it.

Uh-huh: blood is thicker than water.

So, what are My options?
1) Ignore it all.
2) Let them know--again--I'm watching.
3) Try to get them kicked out as undesirables under Section 8.
4) Keep badgering the police to do their job.
5) Openly confront them, leaving only time and place to be decided.
6) Ambush them when they cross My path again. Because they will.

I'm not built to ignore it, I've already warned them twice (in front of witnesses), Section 8 contracts can only be broken if a crime is committed or severe property damage occurs and My last visit to the police (earlier today) didn't end well after one of the flatheads snidely asked if I was asking for police intervention because "What I did might be what they were doing," implying I was trying to curtail the competition. I snapped back that if he had a brain he could maybe try to figure that out.

Leaves Me options 5 and 6, one hinging on emotional control and the other a preplanned, deliberate choice to do as much harm as possible when given the chance.

Are these really the only options? I had those options when I was a foul-mouthed hothead in high school. Didn't end well then, though I never got really hurt. Seems to Me there should be more than just "street justice" to handle this situation.

When the system doesn't work, the solution has no choice but to come from outside the system. That means the decision is in Our hands, theirs and Mine. I'm pretty sure I know what they are going to do. I'm just not sure of what I will do. But I know I will.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Update: 25 May 2010: Less than a week after this post, the more-disruptive neighbors down the street abruptly moved out. I'd like to take credit that My Jenius post did the trick...so I will. On the other hand, My neighbor gave Me more mangoes and told Me that the owner of the miscreants' house threatened to come down, change all the locks in the place and keep every key. When the miscreants went to the Housing Department to complain, they were told the owner could do with his property what he chose to and that there had been too many complaints about them already for the Department to intercede, as it was now primarily a legal issue. Seems there was another way after all...]

14 May 2010

B(u)y The Numbers

El que juega por necesidad, pierde por obligación.

The phrase above translates pretty much to "If you play from need, you lose by obligation," meaning if you're in a situation where gambling--like Pick 6 or Loto--is "needed", you will lose. A lot. Per force.

Now many of Us understand that playing the lottery is a fool's game. Statistically, you will consistently lose 47 cents for every dollar played, meaning you will be giving away 47 cents for every dollar you play when you decide to Pick 6 just for fun. And the people throwing away their money hand over fist are almost certainly the ones least able to afford it.

The seductive lure of lottery gambling is that "Anyone can win." That is true: anyone who plays can. The factual downside to that is that you are far more likely to go broke than to win. Here's the kicker: the government knows it...and encourages it.

First, the odds: In a Pick 6 game, with 42 numbers (1-42, like We have here) the odds of winning with the correct 6-number combination is calculated as 6/42 for the first number coming up being one of your picks, 5/41 for the second one to match, 4/40 for the third, 3/39 for the fourth, 2/38 for the fifth and 1/37 for the sixth. Simplify those fractions into decimals and you get a roughly 1 in 5,307,605 chance of winning.

The odds of being struck by lightning are roughly 1 in 410,000.

For a $2 million prize, you could buy $2 million in Pick 6 combinations and still have only a 37.7% chance of winning. Is this a fair game? Of course it isn't. And I repeat: the government knows it. Here's the hypocrisy: they make a huge hullaballoo about the balls and the machines and the live drawings and such minutiae, but the game itself is already rigged against you.

Now for the other part. Adding empirical evidence to a long-observed phenomena, a study by Emily Haisley, Romel Mostafa and George Loewenstein concludes that "...(P)articipants were more likely to purchase lottery tickets when they were primed to perceive that their own income was low relative to an implicit standard." And how are lotteries advertised if not as "catch up to others" fantasy-fulfillment, an illusory shortcut to prosperity that is actually an anchor to climbing out of poverty or marginal living.

As noted by Wired editor and blogger Jonah Lehrer: "The games naturally appeal to poor people, which causes them to spend disproportionate amounts of their income on lotteries, which helps keep them poor, which keeps them buying tickets." The government knows this. They count on it. And they keep counting on it to further their interests and that of their buttlicking cronies.

We may need to amend Mark Twain's famous quote from  "Lies, damn lies and statistics" to "Lies, damn lies, statistics and lotteries." By the numbers, don't buy the numbers.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Note: 19 May 2010: From Sharon Begley's keyboard over at Newsweek: How near-misses galvanize a person to keep gambling. Sad part: people convince themselves that a lottery pick "just 3 numbers short" was a "near-miss." It's much more like aiming to land in San Juan and actually touching ground on Phobos.]

[Update: 2 June 2010: I was told the local Loto (Pick 6) has more than 42 numbers, going as high as 46. The odds of hitting the big prize are 1 in 9,366,819. Adjust the level of futility accordingly.]

[Update: 10 July 2010: From Newsweek, how near-misses in gambling are pretty much as addictive as wins. And the obvious corollary: addicted gamblers are more susceptible to this "buzz".]

[Update: 13 July 2010: From The Economist, the best magazine about the world, comes this sobering study: More than 1 in 5 Americans believes buying lottery tickets is a good retirement plan. My Brethren are scoffing, thinking We can go 1 in 4 or even 1 in 3...]

12 May 2010

Making Sense Of It All

Why are We still stuck in the petty political problems We had 30-40 years ago? Why are We still tolerating the same old political grubbing, infighting, fake-service-while-feeding-like-pigs-at-a-trough kind of politics that makes you wish public executions were still high holiday events?

Now there might be some debate as to whether We are suffering for this, seeing as how We ranked #2 worldwide in "happiness" in 2008. So maybe the political stuff isn't that big of a buzzkill.

Then what about the economy? There's no denying Our economic situation has an overdeveloped amount of suction and isn't getting better. But it was bad in 2006 and 2007, could be seen as headed for a downturn in 2008 and got worse in 2009. Still, We were happy then and maybe, despite the increasing level of stress from rising unemployment and reduced income, We'd still be pretty happy. Money doesn't buy happiness, true, but it can get you a condo near where happiness is mined. Too bad we can't afford the condo...

Is Our society improving noticeably? Are We becoming a closer-knit nation of communities? Nope. The murder rate is rising again, divorce has crept up above the 50% line, education keeps getting dumber and at the first hysterical hint of a possibly potential shadow of a threat of a chance that a tropical depression could maybe if it breaks patterns inch up to hurricane level, watch how We go to the stores to clean 'em out because--We feel this--if We don't have 78 rolls of toilet paper and 120 batteries, Our neighbors are not going to help Us. (But We memorize the FEMA emergency number when it flashes onscreen.)

Could it be that We're in denial? Many mental health suspects--I mean, experts--state that We have a society brimming over with mental health issues. We are anxious, depressed, addicted and alienated, so are We happy because We're nuts...or am I saying that We're nuts because despite it all We say We're happy?

I'm not a good judge of this, for I am inevitably optimistic. I will see a silver lining where the black cloud merely thins out. I will see a glass half-full when the water just barely starts dripping into an empty glass. I see sunrises and seldom see sunsets. And yet I see the political thievery, the treason, the murders, the lost jobs, the diminished opportunities, the stupidity, the blindness, the greed, the paranoia, the despair...and I think of the rest, the potential, the future, the way it could be, the end result instead of the starting place.

I can't say I'm in denial; just read The Jenius and tell Me I'm not looking squarely at some of the bad. I'm harsh about it because I expect more of Us. So if you ask Me if I'm happy in Puerto Rico, I'd ponder it a bit and then say "Yes, quite so." And I guess I'm in a large group because how else could We end up #2 in the world in "happiness," unless We looked at Our situation and concluded: It ain't great, but I like it. Enough.

Doesn't make sense...but there it is.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

10 May 2010

10 Ways We Become Poor

Here's a Jenial Public Service for some of you: 10 Ways to Become Poor:

1. Spend more than you make.
The average Puerto Rican spends 3% more than he or she makes or receives from welfare. Woo. Hoo.

2. Lust after what you don’t have.
Consumerism, an undeniable evil in Our society, cannot happen unless We suffer from an open combination of envy and greed.

3. Never give to anyone.
Oddly enough, We are generous in emergencies, but profess open contempt for giving in daily situations. Still, We give more than most people, only We tend to act crabby about it.

4. Don’t pay attention to where you money goes.
Corollary to point #1, to not saving and to using plastic instead of cash. Oh, and easy credit with killer interest rates that We ravenously sign up for because the monthly payment is "only $89!

5. Get a loan for everything…cars, a new bedroom set, a vacation ***BONUS: Use credit cards with a 25% interest rate!
I think I just touched on this point...but it bears repeating until We get it.

6. Wait for the perfect time to start saving.
HAHAHAHAHAhahahahaahahapoorhouse. We NEVER have a "perfect" time for saving. That's for "idiots," also know as "wealthy people."

7. Follow the crowd.
Slavishly. Jam your nose into the butt of the guy or gal in front of you and followfollowfollow. Buy what they buy, spend more than the spend and don't even try to think differently than the sheep. Oh, and bitch to high hell about how bad things are because "they" won't fix it.

8. Don’t worry about the little things, they don’t really add up.
I get a kick out of people who go to a casino and lose $40-$50 or more and say "That's okay. I was here to have fun." Actually, I don't get a kick out of those people: I want to kick them in the head. Won't hurt them anyway: they're brainless. Just like the numbskulls who buy coffee at Starbucks for $8.

9. Invest your money in things that you know nothing about.
Lottery, anyone? Iraqi dinars, anyone? (And listen, you Iraqi dinar-buying shitheads: I wrote about this almost 5 years ago. Get a hint.)  

10. Waste stuff – money, food, time.
Waste not, want not. Don't waste money if you want to have plenty of it. Same with food and time. The problem is that the responsibility for doing that rests solely on the person. No one else to blame if you waste money, food, time and anything else. Most of Us can't handle that responsibility. Pitiful. No wonder so many of us are so poor.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

07 May 2010

Discordant Notes

This won't take long...

--The Pittsburgh Pirates already have a losing record, with defeats in the 20-0, 17-3 and 16-4 range. I repeat what I said one week into the season: the Pirates are not going to be a winning team with the current management. Not happening. Either new management comes in, Major League Baseball takes the franchise over or--heartbreak--the team moves to another city. Memphis? New Orleans? Charlotte? Don't matter. This season's over for the Pirates anyway.

--The University of Puerto Rico strike goes on...and on and on and on. Here's the basic question, the bottom line inquiry: What is the goal of the strike? There's only one answer: money. It's a hissy-fit by cretins on one side and morons on the other. You sort them out: I've got 1,645,238 better things to do. Every day.

--Noticed by several folks: the way Luis "The Larva" Fortuño, (non)governor of My Island, gets on an airplane every time some piss-poor hissy-fit cranks up. Maybe I should change his nickname to "Jigsaw", because when the going seems to get tough, he goes to pieces. (Kudos if you recognize where I stole that from...)

--Am I the only one to notice that the independence movement has become extremely quiet lately, damn near tomb-like, which matches their current political lifeforce to a T? Is it that the media doesn't give a rat's ass about them, that We don't have a media worth giving a rat's ass about anything except gossip and innuendo, both or just what I said, that the independence party as a political force is pretty much dead? Here's a thought: when the dollars stop flowing easily--and they have--the average independentista (and most are just that: average) opts for revenue over rhetoric. Discuss.

--Rumor has it that bumbling banking behemoth Banco Popular has sold its electronic processing arm, Evertec. If they have, I was wrong: I thought they wouldn't want or need to after absorbing much of the second-largest local bank. But...how much do you want to bet that the Evertec deal actually leaves Banco Popular as the primary beneficiary of 90+% of current electronic transfers for at least the next 5 years? Something along the lines of "No one else can come into this market so Banco Popular remains Top Bitch"? Anyone?

The  Jenius Has Spoken.

05 May 2010

7 Ways We're Ahead of the U.S. of part of A.

From the often elegant pen (keyboard?) of the Business Pundit blog comes a post titled "7 Systemic Problems That are Killing America." Let's look at them, shall We?

1) Collapsing infrastructure: Roads shot to hell, water pipes leaking like punctured colostomy bags and about as healthy, lousy repair systems undermined by corruption...Yeah, the U.S. of part of A. is falling apart, but We got to paint Our infrastructure in order to tear it down. Who's ahead? Us.

2) Loss of economic independence: The U.S. of part of A. threw away its economic independence and basis of power by deciding that increasing the national debt was a great way to share the wealth amongst the hyena cabal of the murderous moron and their fecal ilk. But We, on the other hand, have never had economic independence so who's ahead? Us, by a country mile if the country is Russia.

3) The lobbyist industry: Let's be precise: it isn't lobbying, it's buying politicians. It's the game in D.C. and in state capitals across the 50, but We have a tighter strangling what with one central bank, one newspaper, one large radio network and a higher poverty level. Who's ahead? Us, gagging.

4) Obesity: Yes, fat is in, and the U.S. of part of A. leads the world in fatheads. And fat asses. But which part of the U.S. of part of A. has shown the greatest increase in fat-bellied fatalities? Same as the ones who are ahead: Us.

5) The revolving door: Politicians leaving office to come back in the side door as bigger thieves. We didn't invent the game, We perfected it what with the tighter stranglehold and all. Who's ahead? Us, by Pinocchio's nose after a 4-hour lying bender.

6) Using personal funds for campaign purposes: The post talks about the number of millionaires who get into Congress. Pig doo. Look at how many of Our fecal Fools become millionaires in office a la Il Castrao-going-to-PITA-prison. (Look it up; I hope it's 100% accurate in his case.) Ahead? Us, like Usain Bolt racing Rush "Oxycontin" Limbaugh.

7) No term limits: Senators and Representatives emulating vampiric barnacles year after year after motherhumpin' year. The U.S. of part of A. may have its 40-year wonders in Congress, but We have Our "permanent" politicians who've made the last 58 years a pain in the neck akin to having a spike slammed into the medulla oblongata, then hooked up to a terawatt taser for some 30-minute jolts every half hour. Who's ahead on this one? Us, cuz We get it coming and going.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

03 May 2010

Lobby Fo(u)r Dozens

This won't take long...

Walked into City Hall today, the one for My home town of Cabo Rojo, barely a 5-minute walk from My house. Oddly cool day with a muted sun, about 11:20, not much traffic what with the stupid construction still going on in Our streets.

The Cabo Rojo City Hall is fairly new, remodeled this century, and unlike the traditional Spanish layout, this City Hall is a block removed from the Plaza. Like the Plaza cares.

I walk in with My face in poker player mode...for I'm guessing what I will see. And lo and behold, I am right. Again.

Dozens--and I mean dozens--of Municipal employees huddled in the lobby. Not on strike. Not in a fire drill. Not doing anything besides standing around and chattering away like brain-addled magpies.

It's been like this every time I drop by. I counted 39 employees, with their oddly eye-catching blue polo shirts, the uniform of the uninformed, parading or lollygagging in the lobby. Signed the Visitor's Register (this time I signed as Ivan the Terrible) (I have My reasons) and mazed My way to the stairs and the second-floor office I needed to visit. Knocked lightly; walked in.

One woman, alone, looking like Ivan the Terrible had peed in her café con leche. Sour. Almost comically sour. Piles of papers on her desk. She looked up and practically snarled: "What do you need?"

I said I was there to pick up a copy of the Urban Planning summary for FY 2009-2010. She soured even more. Got up. Hunched over. Crab-like. Grabbed a file, yanked it open and gave it a mean hard look. Slapped it shut and gave it to Me. "Thank you."

She grunted. I'm serious: she grunted.

I walked out and down the stairs. In the lobby, where another 8-12 people had showed up in My brief unnoticed absence, I was stymied, blocked, hemmed in by the blue-shirts. What the heck: "Joining the U.P.R. strike?" I said over the conversational buzz.

Volume down from 8 to 4, then back up to 7. Not a chuckle. Not even an embarrassed smile.

Tough room.

The Jenius Has Spoken.