30 May 2011

DIY Economy: Part Two

A friend of Mine looks at the cycling community that he passionately participates in, understands many of them drive down to Cabo Rojo to take in some of the best cycling and mountain bike routes on My Island and figures he could open a bike storage and maintenance facility down in Boquerón.

Another friend of The Jenius noted that of all the items on his late, lamented café's menu, his baking had been a huge draw. So twice a week, he bakes a variety of cakes and muffins and sells them on a route in town that takes him to several offices, stores and a couple of cafés that use his desserts as draws for their own menus. His house, built from the ground up based on his own designs, serves as a beautiful backdrop for private gatherings such as business parties, cocktails and weddings. It's where Mrs. Jenius and I got married, to rave reviews.

My favorite mechanic closed his shop down, took a part-time job at a large dealership (supervising major repairs) and now does home visits to tackle a wide variety of auto repairs. If he needs to move the car to a shop, he supervises the work and charges a fee...paid by the other mechanic. That keeps the repair cost reasonable and the other mechanic gets a well-screened repair job brought to his shop's door.

Let Me introduce you--again--to the Do It Yourself Economy, the "streamlined service," just-add-creativity, save time and money, grass-roots level part of Our economy. It isn't magic, it isn't "settling" and it isn't illegal...except in the eyes of the crooks running Our legal and commercial system into the ground. The illegality--technically--is that these are cash-based businesses (largely) and that it is a very safe bet that the cash goes unreported. It is exactly--let Me repeat this: EXACTLY--what Fools and other crooks in government do--receive cash and never mention it--but because these are small businesspeople providing a legitimate service in an open manner, Fools hate it. It makes their illegally-gotten gains look bad.

I belong to this DIY economy and have for many years. When the overall economy was growing, the DIY portion grew as well: a rising tide lifts all boats. As the economy contracted, the DIY portion shrunk as well and when things got long-term tight, the DIY sector blossomed. And what Fools fail to understand, blinded by greed and the moral fiber of satanic hyenas, is that the DIY economy proves that We can develop businesses and that We could do it better and faster if the fucking government got out of the way.

But therein lies the rub: the government, Our government, doesn't want grass-roots businesses springing up. They threaten the status quo, the powers that be, the "old economy" that wants their power bases protected, their customers locked in and their profits invested someplace else, so that their power bases remain protected and their customers stay locked in.

Proof? Just look at the list of businesspeople that """allegedly""" gave bribes to ex-senator Jorge "Il Castrao" De Castro.  Here's a partial list, of businesspeople and lawyers, from the linked article: Carlos Castellón ,Wilson Colberg Trigo, Aileen Mudafort, Yolanda Benítez, Luis Rivera Siacca, Ralphie Pagán, Santos Alonso, Porfirio ‘Alex’ Brito, Freddy Maldonado, Tito Morales, Frank Trógolo, José Torres, José Vélez, Noel Ramos, Rafael Vizcarrondo, Joel Katz, Frank Kolodziej, Matías Fernández, Roberto ‘Tito’ Cacho, Luis Benetti, Juan Santiago, Greg Cortéz and Julio Méndez.

Now many of you don't know who these people are. Your proof about their status and position in terms of commerce and profession is that they were the names "selected" to be in an article describing a convicted hyena and his cronies. But their presence here is in regards to the DIY economy: these "old economy powers" have the money and lack the moral fiber, so they bribe, cheat and steal to try to keep and expand what they have. The laws are made by the very people they bribe. So when it comes to the DIY economy, the more these assholes rig the game, the more they force the rest of Us to find ways to avoid their game. 

The hyenas don't get it. We don't kick the hyenas out. We increasingly build businesses that thrive on the margin of the law. It is a delicate balance that will collapse, and in fact, it should. For Our only super-abundant resource is Our people's talent...and We're wasting it in corruption and marginalization.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

26 May 2011

Happy Birthday, Kaleb!

Oh My stars, you're 11 years old today. It seems like you're 11-going-on-18, maybe more, as you are often the calmest one of Us. Placid and serene most of the time, though I catch your moments of anxiousness. You seem wise, probably because you tend to silence, but appearing wise is often as important as being wise, as you'll learn. If you haven't already.

You dipped a little in school, and I'm glad. Sustained excellence is great, but sustaining excellence for somebody else's reasons is a direct path to disappointment. What I'm hoping happens now is that you find your own reasons for pursuing excellence in school, as you have in basketball. You learned long ago to play to please yourself, not Me, and that's made a huge difference in the speed and breadth of your improvement.

If I have a clear memory of you this past year it was My wedding day. Shortly after noon, you and I went up to the house where the ceremony and reception would be held. We were discussing the chance for rain, as clouds collected above. We walked around the place, greeting the people who were working so hard to finish preparing everything. Suddenly, the clouds closed overhead and rain began to fall. All the tables were placed outdoors--Our original plan for a sunny day wedding--and as I walked to get the tables and chairs under cover, you started running. Somehow you grabbed two chairs and raced back, handing them to Me. You ran back and grabbed two more and turned to tell Me to hurry and get the table. And I stood there, smiling, to keep tears at bay.

You cared. On a day I was thinking might be uncomfortable for you, even bad, you cared. And you had fun. As so many people told Me that night and later, they were pleased to be around you, to talk to you, to listen and watch as you flit about the reception, being a boy and yet hinting at the man you'll become. You almost outshone Me that day. Pretty cool for "just" a kid, right?

You know I'm proud of you and you might even take it for granted. You've earned it and you earn it often, sometimes struggling to overcome a thorny school subject, but most of the time casually accepting things I could only dream about at your age. Like the times big kids, you know, 8th graders or older, who easily pass by with a "Hi, Kaleb." You nod, no big deal, you know who they are and they know you. You're one of the top students in your grade, a veritable bookworm type and yet you're popular. Not wildly so, but gently, as if knowing everybody and everybody knowing you is just the way Life is. It amuses Me as it awes Me, for I can tell you in no uncertain terms, Life was never like that for Me. Not even close.

We're growing older together, though somehow you might be maturing faster. It's a joy to spend time with you, to chat about whatever comes to mind and listen as you dissect basketball in ways I recognize as belonging to a thoughtful mind. And this birthday, you have a little sister who lights up when you come home from school, who thinks you're just the coolest and who'll love you more every time she learns something about you. Treasure your time with her for it will pass quickly, rushing by unless you take time to see and live it.

It's what I tell Myself almost every day, but not as often as I say "I love you." I do. And I can't wait to see what the next year brings Us.

Happy Birthday, Son. I love you.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

23 May 2011

DIY Economy

[A welcome "Thanks" to Janine Mendes-Franco for picking up My post on the flooding problem My street has. It's My return to Global Voices Online, the first part of which you can read--free!--in My book "GTJ on GVO," available also on the Jenius' home page.]

His name in this blog is "Jaime." He has a large pick-up truck bearing signs of extreme wear and tear. The back is canopied, rising some 3 feet above the upper edge of the once-red truck, now an odd orange, like a sunset through haze.

Not tall, with roughened hands, Jaime is polite, cheerful and talks a mile a minute. He carries two battered notebooks, one filled with hastily-scrawled requests and prospect's contact information, the other filled with neatly-organized rows of sales information. He carries two cellphones, a pocketful of pens and a complex Leatherman tool on his belt. He could very well be the poster model for the local DIY Economy, the Do It Yourself business that thumbs its nose at the government.

Now mind you: Jaime is perfectly legal. He has every document he needs to have, from driver's license to local sales tax certification. He'll show them to you in a heartbeat. But Jaime's business is nothing the government touches in any significant way. And that simple fact is driving business innovation at the grassroots level.

Jaime is a procurer. He doesn't use that term, I do. If you need tires for your car, you call Jaime. He'll get you however many tires you need at prices you blink twice when you hear them. In My case, two tires, with 25,000 mile guarantees, for $55. And he delivers. Within 90 minutes of My call, he was in front of Chez Jenius (which isn't flooded all the time) and checking My car to see if I needed something else.

Jaime works with his wife, who goes everywhere with him. They spend 7-10 hours a day working all over the western side of My Island. He offers tires as his hook, discounted-but-guaranteed and delivered to you wherever you may be from Aguada to Sabana Grande, but he expands his sales by looking for opportunities along the way. He told Me he's branched out to batteries, wipers, filters, anything replaceable in a car or truck that he can fit into his. And he serves as an agent for sales for everything from cars and motorcycles to houses. That aspect of his business, he told Me, was making him almost as much money as the tire and auto parts sales.

Jaime is not really a middleman, or if he is, he takes the place of one or more middlemen, reducing the delivery chain and its costs. Everything he sells he has purchase receipts for; he'll show them to you in a heartbeat. He gets low prices on tires, he says, because he buys so many and steers people to the distributors that give him the best price. His biggest clients are auto mechanics and Municipal fleets, the first group because he provides a huge service, the second because he provides a discount that never becomes part of the public record.

On this last part, he's sanguine. "I deliver the products at a fair price and get paid. How they deal with it is their problem." But when I asked him how much he really discounted the tires for Municipalities, he smiled. "Not much. I have to pay IVU, you know." (IVU is the local 7% sales tax.)

From tires to food to flowers to medicines, a small coterie of businesses are flourishing by simply providing products and services and not even trying to do it "by the (interminable) book." The fact is, businesses can always flourish, especially in hard times, if they help people save time and money. Jaime does that, as does the local cafeteria van serving sandwiches and the woman who visits the four drugstores in Cabo Rojo filling prescriptions and delivering the medications to her clients. She makes about $120 a week doing so, not much, but the drugstores also give her a discount on her medications. Not exactly legal, but a natural part of the DIY Economy.

Now strict moralists would insist that these businesses be shut down, that indeed, they never should have been launched in the first place. Strict moralists are wrong because they see these businesses as the causes of illegalities, rather than what they truly are: the effects of over-legalities. For Jaime to establish a legitimate business would take him several months and thousands of dollars, because the legal/commercial system here makes starting a business as easy as putting together modular furniture while blindfolded, handcuffed and drunk. And without tools. In the time it would take Jaime to launch a business he could earn that much and more.

So, strict moralists insist (because they are built that way), why doesn't he then set up a legitimate business? Because the cost structure is still too high. And does any reasonable person think that, once a business is running well, unrestricted and profitable, that it's a good idea to submit it to over-regulation and higher costs?

Those that say "yes" to that are the problem: they are the ones making up idiotic laws ans regulations that only serve to submerge Our economy even further underground. Unless they get a clue--or We do and kick their greedy asses out--Our economy will ultimately be either DIY or DOA. 

The Jenius Has Spoken.

21 May 2011

Blogging At The End of The World

I just had to do something with this, what with the deadline looming and all that...

Good Jenius Friend Gabo Pagán forwarded an e-mail to Me. It was sent by one Saraí Meléndez Rodríguez, who alleges, in the e-mail, to be undertaking a survey amongst local bloggers for her thesis on bloggers' relationship with public relations. Why do I say "allegedly"? Because Gabo pointed out to Me that Saraí works for local advertising agency De La Cruz & Associates.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Saraí Meléndez Rodríguez   
Date: 2011/5/19 
Subject: Investigación sobre blogs en PR 
To: p@upr.edu, a@yahoo.com, o@gmail.com, f@blackberrypr.com, k@gmail.com, p@gmail.com, m@gmail.com, i@carlosambert.com, i@miwindowsphone.net, y@gabopagan.com, r@gmail.com, l@prtc.net, p@gmail.com, p@indymedia.org, y@gmail.com, i@educandoamihijo.com, s@hotmail.com, a@gmail.com


Mi nombre es Saraí Meléndez y estoy realizando una tesis sobre la relación de los relacionistas profesionales con los blogueros. Haz clic sobre el enlace para contestar un cuestionario sencillo. Te agradeceré que lo compartas con tus amigos blogueros. 

¡Gracias mil! 

Saraí Meléndez 

I've removed all but the first letter of every e-mail address because (A) It's not My intention to reveal somewhat personal information and (B) to prove (if anyone has any doubt) that Saraí, in Gabo's words, "doesn't seem to know about BCC."

No, she don't.

Now I'm obviously posting this to mock Saraí. What do I care? It'll all be irrelevant by tomorrow, right? But even to the end, I can't help but point a finger at something like this and...snicker.

Maybe Saraí is doing her thesis on bloggers. Perhaps it is merely a coincidence that she works at an advertising/Public Relations firm, or maybe it isn't given that she may be fascinated by the topic. And she did send the e-mail from her personal account, right? So maybe I'm just being a jerk instead of a Jenius.


Here's a question near the end of the of the survey. Up until that point, I was willing to mock gently, as per the post above. You'll see--maybe--why I upped the ante.

¿Existen en tu país listas negras de relacionistas, empresas o marcas con los que los blogueros no quieren trabajar?

Is there in your country a blacklist of public relations (agencies/personnel), companies or brands that bloggers don't want to work with?

Come again? What the hell is this question doing here, aside from pissing Me off? If--and I must emphasize, IF--this claptrap e-mail/survey is about discovering or exploring the relationship between local bloggers and Public Relations, then answer this Saraí, De La Cruz or whoever pooped this crap: Why are you asking "in your country" and about "blacklists?" Is Saraí an alien, a foreigner or worse, a muddle-headed Niuyorican? And is asking about "blacklisting" the way to build rapport and truly explore the growing blogger culture and what it does and can mean to your """thesis""" cum con-job?

And guess what the first request is in the survey? Your name.

Just wondering: does this have anything to do with Burston-Marsteller taking a sponsorship role in this month's local BloggerCon? Is this some sort of Public Relations "land grab" into bloggers and blogger territory? Are they sending some unprepared intern into the blogger wilderness to flush out a quail or an ostrich or something?

So I went back and filled in the survey. With My real name. And then I proceeded to answer the questions any way I wanted to and with venom when it suited Me. Some of what I submitted includes:

*** My blog's name? EstoMepareceunapendejada.com. {In English, ThislookslikebullshittoMe.com}.

*** When asked if I made money with My blog, I used the text box for the next question to say: I lied on the previous question because the option that SHOULD be there is "No and I don't want an income from My blog." But since you're all skanks (flejes) to the highest bidder, everything I wrote between "No" and "But" is like Babylonian cuneiform to what little neuronal tissue you have. 

*** A comparison between P.R. personnel and crack whores. Redundant, but appropriate.

*** That My blog has Chippendale ads run by Alpo.

And when "thanked" for filling out the survey, I wrote: Mierda es.



As they say in Georgia: Don't you bring that Kool-Aid to My whiskey end-of-days party.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

Just as I finished this post, a second e-mail from a___________f@gmail.com (redacted to protect the innocent) came into My Inbox. I called the person whose e-mail was used this past Monday and today, with the recent one saying: "hi gil, i had to fill you in" followed by a link.

She hasn't used her Gmail account in months.

The first e-mail I erased Monday without opening. I went back and checked the link and found it blocked by bit.ly because it had been reported as problematic. The link in the second e-mail is this one: http://burstonmarsteller.com/redirect.php?to=aHR0cDovL3d3dy5jbmJjNy5jb2(Removed 18 alphanumeric characters.)

DON'T CLICK ON IT, PLEASE! (Even with the removed characters.) It's about some work at home bullshit spam scam. But it's nice to know Burston-Marsteller thinks enough about Me to send Me e-mail.

[Update: 22 May 2011: Vía a Google Buzz confab, a LinkedIn profile of Saraí: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/saraí-meléndez-rodríguez/25/b68/a65]

19 May 2011


Some of you will smile at this: Bullwinkle, dressed like a magician, stands on stage, top hat in hand. He says "Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!" And Rocky always replied with a semi-whiny "Again?!"

Yeah, again.

Back in September 2008, My house flooded and I lost practically everything I owned. The culprit: contractor garbage and a large tree felled by nearby Municipal construction blocked the large drainage canal that runs behind My house. The damming forced the water into the town's streets and down into My lower cul-de-sac. In less than 2 hours, the water rose to 4 feet above street level, some 28 inches inside My house.

That happened after several days of heavy rain and a storm that had gone on for almost 6 hours. But what happened this past Friday--the 13th for those keeping count--happened in about 10 minutes with barely one hour of heavy rainfall.

Here are the pictures:

These are the street views from the balcony of My house. The cul-de sac has an empty house, partially destroyed by the September 2008 flood, seen fully in the second picture.

Was the canal blocked? No, I checked, and the water raged through it like it was supposed to. So what was the problem?

The drainage system for this street--a street that sits at the bottom of a shallow bowl that drains almost 2 square miles--was blocked. Not blocked by debris, or at least, not visible debris. No, it was blocked because the drains and manhole covers were paved over.

Paved. Over. The Municipal employees in the picture above were searching for the drains and/or manhole covers, to no avail. But I'll point out that the man holding the large staff and actually appearing to do work was not a Municipal employee: he's one of My neighbors.

When was the paving done? October 2010, as part of a "prep" for destroying the house to make way for the new floodgate system. Did the neighbors complain? From the day the paving was completed, ostensibly by a company that the Mountainous Mayoress favors with alarming frequency. So what about that abandoned house, trumpeted last fall by the Largely-Immobile Mayoress, one Perza Rodríguez? Well, you can see it was still there, still abandoned.

Until Monday, the 16th:

Around 10:40 AM, those two vehicles in the picture rumbled down My street and proceeded to demolish the hell out of the house. See the roundish different-colored patch on the street "beneath" the digger? That's where the manhole cover is, under some 9 inches of tar. And to the left of the rubble is where the drainage duct is supposed to be, also under several inches of tar. The water pump is to the right of the blue truck, but it pumps when water comes into it: with the drains to it blocked, the pump is a paperweight. With barely 2 weeks to go before the official start of the hurricane season and some 7 months after the "start" of the Mayoress' water gate, only now is the project on the front burner.

Now I know Her Mayoral Mountainous has a lot on her plate. A lot. Often 4-5 times a day. But even with a lot on her plate, a project like this, less than a mile from City Hall and one that threatens some 20-25% of the businesses in town, is not chopped liver. What you see above is the result of a one-hour thunder storm with the canal running free and clean. Imagine what will happen if We get another sequence with 5-6 days of near non-stop rain.

You don't have to imagine. Look at the 4th picture. Note the light pole on the right. Beneath the Calle Elena sign is a painted line. That's how high the water rose when Hurricane George hit My Island in 1998. That line is 6 feet 2 inches above street level. Back in 1998, it took almost 30 hours of rainfall to reach that level, on saturated ground, with a semi-blocked canal.

Based on this last rainfall, even with a canal running clear and dry ground, My street could have seen a similar flooding in less than 6 hours.

Do you think I'm sticking around to see how much I lose this time? I don't care if Her Mayoral Gargantuaness eats her way through the summer, but I'm not slogging through My street in thigh-high water to retrieve My last intact possessions again.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

16 May 2011

Pipe Nightmare

Here's the plan: Build a 93-mile long pipeline, on an Island that is roughly 110 miles long (East-West) by 40 (North-South) miles wide*, that has a population density of over 1,080 persons per square mile, crossing several environmentally sensitive areas ranging from wetlands and aquifers to delicate karst and forest lands, to carry natural gas that you have to import 100% of and sell the whole freaking boondoggle as a "Green Path."

Orwell, you never knew how prescient you were, did you?

Then add the crap-for-cerebrum hypocrisy of having opposed a smaller project, a 42.4 mile pipeline, because it was "disruptive and an abuse of power" in order to shove a bigger pipe project at Us, topped by the shit-for-brains corruption of assigning a large key multi-million dollar contract to a childhood friend who has never built a pipeline in his fucking life, without having the contract go through the proper bidding process.

Welcome to Puerto Rico! Island of Enchantment, as in "Maybe I can fog your brain and make MILLIONS off of your confusion!" The lead witch: Luis "The Larva" Fortuño.

Yes, I called it a witch. And an it. Deal.

Now the corrupt blood-suckers pushing this nightmare are claiming the project is necessary because energy costs in Puerto Rico are too high, usually citing a 21 cents per kilowatt cost versus 10 cents "average" in the States. Wrong. They are comparing the peak rate We pay with the base rate in the States, like comparing the filet mignon you eat every once in a while with the combo you snarf every other day. 'Taint the same thing.

But on another front, why do We pay a higher rate? Well, plenty of companies here get subsidized electrical rates, as do some 21% of Our population (largely on welfare), living large with a capped electrical bill no matter how many AC units and plasma screens their lazy little hearts can keep running all day. Tack on the large number of people and businesses that "steal" electricity through illegal connections (and judicious bribery) and you have a huge amount of electricity that is off the books and on Our paying customer heads.

Our huge cost, like that of other nations, is oil and transportation. We import 100% of Our oil, but can't really negotiate a price on Our own. Uncle Sam has to lord over Us on that, too. Not that We could go out and negotiate a fabulous rate just because We're boricuas, but We could leverage Ourselves into a position where We could get a huge discount from an OPEC country willing to jam a thumb in Uncle Sam's eye. Like Venezuela did and would do again in a heartbeat. So what if that pisses off the U.S. of part of A.? What are they going to do, send a Seal Team? Like you care what Uncle Sam thinks so long as your electric bill is 40% lower...

The enormous lie in all this pipe nightmare is that by importing natural gas, We are going to adequately and cheaply replace oil as the primary fuel for Our power stations. Replacing one import with another import in another market you cannot leverage is like replacing cocaine with heroin: you'll just wither away with a different set of symptoms. The pipeline, laughingly budgeted at $450 million and more likely--if ever built to Our ever-lasting shame--would come out closer to $1.5 billion, just like the leaky, creaky Urban Train to Nowhere. Tack on costs for retrofitting Our power stations and the inevitable corruption and We won't see savings...ever. Because the government controls the power company. And they aren't building this pipeline to save Us money: they're building it to make money for themselves while they can.

The pattern is merely a repeat of past corrupt administrations, but taken to another level. Is it a coincidence that the leading law firm in mortgage processing now happens to be the one that The Larva's wife is associated with? Is it a coincidence that The Larva's chief of staff bullied his way into La Fortaleza and set off a flurry of "big government projects," code for "Let the raping begin!"? Is it a coincidence that the highly-touted "rapes," nicknamed Public-Private Alliances, are stuck because they lack coherent (even by government standards) plans, aside from "Get it in cash"? And is it a coincidence that the largest pipeline boondoggle goes to the inexperienced Larval butt-buddy?

(Am I being offensive enough? I was aiming for "totally disrespectful." I hope I didn't fall short...Yeah, I'm nicer now.)

No, it isn't a coincidence. The "Green Way" is a crock of shit, whether you look at it as "an energy solution," a "political plan" or an "economic strategy." It solves nothing, creates a plan for chaos and corruption and as for strategy, it makes Custer look like Rommel.

Now if only We could wipe these thieves out like Custer...

The Jenius Has Spoken.

* We have gotten used to describing Ourselves as "Cien por treinticinco," one hundred by thirty five. We aren't. We're roughly 110 by 40, which doesn't roll off the tongue as easily, but is more accurate. And don't worry, We're roughly three times bigger than Rhode Island.

13 May 2011

Being "Latino"

I created a Paper.li "newspaper" called Puerto Rico Now(ish), through My @gilthejenius Twitter handle. You can find it here.

Several days ago, there was an article about statehood for Puerto Rico, on the online magazine known as Being Latino. You can find it here.

I made a comment that took the article to task, with 6 links to Jenius posts dating back to 2005. (Should I point out that Being """Latino""", aside from using a nonsensical term in its title, is only 2 years old? Then again, I'm "The Jenius," right? Six years and counting...) The comment was rejected because the links were treated as spam. Website policy, as the editor Libby Vázquez pointed out to Me when I called them "cowards" for not allowing the comment. She clarified the rejection and invited me to submit a response. Libby even sent Me the submission guidelines.

I wrote My response by editing the 6 posts to fit within a 500-word limit and divided My piece into three parts. Going back to Being Latino, I noticed that a Ms. Mercedes Lebrón--a name that could ring a bell related to the town of Arroyo--had asked about My potential comment. I goosed the issue and received a response the next day, from Ulises Silva, via Libby Vázquez

The response is too long. It doesn't merit a three-part, three-week segment, especially since many of the things it raises are opinions. There's little substantiation of the claims and assertions being made, which makes the piece sound like a soapbox speech than a balanced response to Julio's piece. The claims need to be backed up with the right links to references. This could work if the response is shortened to one 500-word piece (as opposed to three), and if it includes more references.

My response?

Fair enough. I don't work for you, so I can take my words and work and place them elsewhere. Thank you.

Am I showing an attitude here? Good. I may be trying to become a "nicer, kinder Jenius," but the bottom line is I don't suffer fools, Fools or stupid ideas. At all.

So here's My distillation of previous posts, whittled to fit the 500-word limit Being """Latino""" endorses for publication on the site:

By Gil C. Schmidt

Bio: I lived almost 20 years in the U.S., spanning states from Nebraska to Texas to Mississippi. My appearance and name are those of a White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant, the proverbial W.A.S.P. But I was born in Puerto Rico, a fourth-generation Puerto Rican and have lived on the island continuously since 1987. You can find more of my writings about Puerto Rico at Gil The Jenius: http://gilthejenius.blogspot.com

By Gil C. Schmidt

Understand this: the U.S. will not grant statehood to Puerto Rico. Ever. It is not a “right” Puerto Rico has earned, it is not a “debt” the U.S. has to pay and it is not their "obligation" to take on a nation (a concept many Puerto Ricans shamefully deny we have) as part of their republican federation because of a simple reason: it is their house and they can say who comes in and who doesn’t.

Statehood for Puerto Rico is not going to happen for three unimpeachable reasons: 1) Ethnic and economic differences, masked or open; 2) History has spoken and 3) Under domestic and international law, the ultimate decision is not “theirs”: it’s ours.

Ethnic and economic differences: The average American doesn’t know about or care a thing for Puerto Rico. But you can bet that their ignorance will quickly change to expertise based on a single issue: We are not like them. To the average American, we are not Americans. We are outsiders. Strangers. Parasites even. For though the U.S. was founded on humanistic ideals and principles, in fact, the ideals and principles are often expressed as “If you ain’t one of us, you don’t count and we don’t want you.” Ask Arizona.

For statehood, the procedure says that 38 States have to approve. It’s easier to find 38 States to vote against Puerto Rico. First off, none of the 9 Southern states (Louisiana to Kentucky/North Carolina) would approve. If you have to ask why, you’ve obviously never lived in those States.

Large Western states, like Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are famous for having a strong sense of freedom, “America First” sentiment and an array of militia radicals. They’ll vote NO with nary a split-second’s thought. That makes 12, so Puerto Rican statehood is finished.

But to make the point clearer, take your pick of almost-certain “No” votes: New England states that are as ultra-conservative as the winter is long or some of the other 21 States that would see their comparatively small representation overwhelmed by Puerto Rico’s in the House of Representatives, where the number of votes is based on population, not State seniority.

Furthermore, unlike the Senate, which could rise to 102 Senators, Puerto Rico’s five "representatives" would be taken from high-population states, namely California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois or Pennsylvania. These states have high Hispanic minorities, but would these states allow one of their “voices in government” to be given to a fledgling state with a comparative poverty level that makes Mississippi look like Monaco?

And let’s not ignore the question of race. It matters. It matters a lot. Maybe 50 years from now, when the majority of the population of the U.S. is non-white, maybe it won’t matter as much. Or then again, it will, as the difference between “Them that have” and “Them that don’t” could very well make the race issue seem trivial by comparison. But for now, it’s a deal-breaker, whether it’s carried out openly (“English only”) or quietly.

Puerto Rico: Never a State – Part Two                           [499 words]
By Gil C. Schmidt

Statehood for Puerto Rico is not going to happen for three unimpeachable reasons: 1) Ethnic and economic differences, masked or open, covered in Part One; 2) History has spoken and 3) Under domestic and international law, the ultimate decision is not “theirs”: it’s ours.

History has spoken: Oklahoma, 1907. New Mexico, 1912. Arizona, 1912. Alaska, 1959.  Hawaii, 1959.

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

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

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

So, if Puerto Rico were to ever become a State, it is clear that post-1898 decisions about statehood have shown what the basic criteria are for being invited:

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

2) Economic enhancement.

Do we satisfy either or both of them?


Are we being invited?

No and no and no.

By 1959, we were already being plucked by American interests and as they say in my neck of the woods: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? There's no doubt the U.S. makes tons of money off of Puerto Rico, so statehood is really not an economic enhancement for them and in fact, it is widely portrayed and considered as either a mistake that leads to carrying welfare freeloaders or a bottomless pit of economic rehabilitation expenses. Usually both.

So what about political expediency? Well, check out point #1 above. We're not Anglo-Saxons. Or Protestants. Or native English speakers. Or descendants of the same parts of Europe that they are. Toss out all that as a unifying factor. We are way south of the border, and unlike Alaska, we are tiny with no natural resources and unlike Hawaii, we don't occupy a strategic location under U.S. interests. We did in 1940; we didn't by 1945.

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

Puerto Rico: Never a State – Part Three                        [500 words]
By Gil C. Schmidt

Statehood for Puerto Rico is not going to happen for three unimpeachable reasons: 1) Ethnic and economic differences, masked or open, discussed in Part One; 2) History has spoken, as per Part Two and 3) Under domestic and international law, the ultimate decision is not “theirs”: it’s ours.

3) The law says the ultimate decision is ours: During its 8th session, the U.N. General Assembly recognized Puerto Rico's self-government on November 27, 1953 with Resolution 748 (VIII). This removed Puerto Rico’s classification as a non-self-governing territory under article 73(e) of the U.N. Charter.

Puerto Rico held its plebiscite concerning a new constitution in 1950. The constitutionally-based commonwealth was inaugurated on July 25th, 1952. However, the U.N. recognized Puerto Rico's self-government in November 27, 1953.

Neither domestic nor international law recognizes a right to a plebiscite before a transfer of sovereignty. In short: In 1950 we weren’t empowered to choose our status.

Up until that day in 1953, we were not considered self-governing. Under domestic law (Supreme Court and Congress), we were “an unincorporated territory,” and as such, were not guaranteed anything by the U.S. So the process between the U.S. and Puerto Rico that led to the commonwealth "experiment" was not, as the pro-commonwealth party has always insisted, a deal between equals, it was merely a hand-me-down fait accompli between a sovereign nation and its territory.

Therefore, if according to international law we stopped being a colony in 1953, then we have to face up to certain truths:

--As a self-governing territory, it is up to us--and no one else--to make the focused effort to establish our permanent status. And by “us” I mean the Puerto Ricans who live, work and own property here, not “weekenders” waving our flag a couple of times a year during some New York parade.

--The only binding plebiscite the U.S. can offer—and never has--is a Congressionally-mandated referendum wherein Puerto Rico can automatically put into motion whatever ultimate status the voters choose. No such offer is being made now and won’t be: the fear of pledging itself to grant statehood to Puerto Rico is not something any U.S. politician wants to see looming ahead. Puerto Rico cannot force Congress to do this and Congress simply cannot be forced on this issue. History proves it.

I think it is way past time that we moved beyond all this statehood fantasy. For deep down, it isn’t a matter of pride, heritage, history or anything equally lofty: it simply boils down to a matter of money. They have it, they know many Puerto Ricans want more of it, and they don’t want—or have—to share it. On that basis alone, the U.S. will continue to reject seriously considering any Puerto Rican request for statehood.

And they should. Because we can do better.

Except that most of us don’t believe—or don't want to believe—that.

Not becoming a state is not Puerto Rico’s loss; not knowing how to be ourselves is.

Opinion? A good part of it, yes. Soapbox? I'd say so, definitely. References are there, mostly of historical veracity. But does merely placing quotes around a statement that is largely opinion  suddenly turn it into fact? Example, from the Being """Latino""" article itself: “We want to offer a solution, because the bottom line is that no matter what the White House Report says, it still does not go far enough to deal with Puerto Rico’s ambiguous state,” (Rafael) Rodríguez added. “We want to highlight Puerto Rico’s economic status, once it is released from its current status that is hampering that potential. We want to send a clear message for folks to understand.”

Maybe I should resubmit the articles with quotation marks around certain statements, right? 

But why bother. Being """Latino""" is what it is. However, it will be interesting to note what direction this sterile (113 years and counting; Ulises can look up a reference himself) statehood "effort" takes within the nuanced pages of Being """Latino""". Maybe. 

Wake Me up if they make it to 6 years. And counting.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Update: 10 February 2012: For those pseudo-intellectuals that took Me to task for implying and stating that the "American" feeling for Puerto Rico was wrapped in racism, here's the Tea Party phrase of what statehood for the Island would be: "...a Trojan Horse for the Hispanicization of the United States." Read that phrase again and see if there's any positive angle, any form of acceptance of Puerto Rico or Hispanics at all. Then bite Me.]

12 May 2011

Tourism? Nah. Tourrette's

The Jenius returned with a different outlook, a return to the more positive mindset of several years ago. Consciously. Deliberately. A kinder, nicer Jenius. So I read the following interview with Mario González, the current Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (pardon Me while I suppress a sardonic snort...there; nicer Jenius upheld) and aimed My Jenial mindset at the good points.

And aimed. And came up with: Our "Tourism" is a spew of idiocy.

Fuck nice. This "Tourrette's-disguised-as-Tourism" company shit has GOT to end. Now.

(Fell off the bandwagon kinda fast, huh? Idiocy can do that to a Jenius.)

Here's the complete interview, from which I will extract some of the more idiotic outbursts of "Motormouth" Mario.

First, note the title: "Ladies and gents, Puerto Rico speaks up, finally." I feel the interviewers' pain, because I'm sure Motormouth Mario was in "Severe Bureaucratic Avoidance" mode and delayed being available for the interview until he screwed up and couldn't get out of it. Given the end result, he was an idiot for not hiding until 2012. [Disclaimer: I have exchanged a few e-mails and tweets with Raúl Colón, but never about this interview and I've never met Nelson Alcántara in any way.] 

The interview was under the banner of ETurboNews, covering the global travel industry:

ETN: Every extension is a brand, an identity, if you may. Can you identify what's Puerto Rico's unique value proposition? 
LAFUENTE: Unique value proposition is that we are more than sun and sand, which is actually one of our competitive advantages, our mountains, our natural resources. We have a beautiful tropical rainforest. We have the Camoway (sic) caves. We have a rich history, culture. So we have a diverse offer to our visitors that is, I guess, our competitive advantage to the other islands. 

If Motormouth Mario had stood up and said shitpissturdsandwich at 94 decibels, he would have been more cogent. His answer about Our unique value proposition is sophomoric at the ultimate best and the babbling of an incompetent primate at worst. Maybe the monkeys have invaded San Juan...

Motormouth, Puerto Rico's UNIQUE value proposition is your "elevator pitch," your 20-second "hook". You've been in office since August 2, 2010 and the interview was held on April 14, 2011. Isn't 8 months enough for you to learn what Our UVP is, or should be? And "you guess" about what Our UVP is? Verbal tic, Motormouth?

Here's an elevator pitch version for the U.S. of part of A. market that you can steal from Me: In the Caribbean, Puerto Rico offers a greater variety of tropical and one-of-a-kind attractions, along with ecological and adventure travel, all within easy driving distance on the Island and without needing a passport or visa to come here.  There. Maybe you can memorize that by the time you get kicked out in 2012.  "What about Europe?" you exclaim? I got one, but I'm not going to do all your work for you.

And a shout-out to Nelson and Raúl for the follow-up question:
ETN: So exactly that was the next question. What sets Puerto Rico apart from other nations in the Caribbean? Journalism 101: make sure the question is answered.

Moving on, in a downward spiral:

ETN: On Puerto Rican crime and tourism, is there a connection? 
LAFUENTE: There is no connection... 

ETN: In the history of Puerto Rico, has there ever been an instance when a tourist or tourists have been involved in such a situation? 
LAFUENTE: Yes, yes, there has. 

Motormouth answered the first question by spewing the party line, like a baboon chewing a banana. But take a look at this: A Google search for puerto rico crime tourism that shows Me 7 of the top 10 results are clearly negative:

#1: "If you look at the statistics, it's clear that Puerto Rico has a crime problem." WikiTravel.org.

#2: "...rising crime, drugs, AIDS, and other social problems plague Puerto Rico." Frommer's.

#4: "...to have the murder rate of puerto rico (sic) it would be about 8000 by now." VirtualTourist.com

#6: "I recognize that Puerto Rico has a high crime rate but it's..." GoCaribbean.com

#7: "Meet Sara Kuszak: Pregnant American Tourist Killed In San Juan". PuertoRico Country Toolbox.com (blog) [I have exchanged many e-mail with this blogger.]

#8: "...times accused government authorities of misrepresenting crime statistics for political (and tourist) purposes."

DollarMan.com #9: "Puerto Rico's crime wave reaches Condado hotels". USATODAY.com From April 26th, 2011, not even 2 weeks after the Motormouth interview. Did a crime wave tsunami erupt April 15th or am I missing something here?

Only one result is positive, #3 on My search results: "Little crime in the tourist areas of Puerto Rico equals a worry-free visit..." It's from the PuertoRico-Guide.info. Click on the link and here's the opening paragraph: In Puerto Rico auto theft, muggings, and drug trafficking are the most commonly reported forms of crime, so stay alert, lock your car, and use any security features available in both your vehicle and your hotel. Muggings are commonly reported on the Condado and Isla Verde beaches in San Juan, so it might be wise to confine your moonlit walks on the beach to the fenced-in and guarded areas around some of the major hotels. Is this in any way a ringing endorsement?

I know Google displays geolocated results, so what I see is going to differ somewhat from what a Michigander or Iowan or Kentuckian will see, but does anyone in this Web-savvy world really think that their results will be more positive than Mine? And based on that, can anyone with any brains really think that crime and tourism are not connected when people think/search about Puerto Rico? And who is the average would-be traveler--over 83% now relying on the Web for vacation planning--going to believe: Frommer's, a neutral website, a Puerto Rico-based blog or some pseudo-official "Puerto Rico Guide"?

Motormouth, stop obsessing about the party line and party lies and party bullshit and get to work on engaging the Web as the key tool for marketing My Island. What you "think" or "believe" is buried under tons of reality checks, made every minute of every day, around the world. Puerto Rico is not the worst place in the world for crime; it's not even the worst in the U.S. of part of A. But unless We tell that to the world and help others promote Our positives, you, Motormouth Mario, will be nothing more than a feckless shill of political hyenas.

More from the mealy-mouthed interview:

ETN: What efforts are being done to entice this (the lucrative gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered) market? 
LAFUENTE: Well, we - although we do not have a specific promotion or marketing to any specific group, the way that our marketing and promotions are made, our marketing and promotions program are enticing to all groups. So I am pretty sure that there are hostelries here that market to that specific group. So like I said, you know, we are very open and very inclusive for all groups to come to Puerto Rico. 

Remember what he said here: "...we do not have a specific promotion or marketing to any specific group..."

Later in the interview, he says:

ETN: Customer service is sometimes overlooked as a result of mass tourism, like it's not given a priority. Is this the case for Puerto Rico? 
LAFUENTE: ...Puerto Rico isn't necessarily a mass-driven destination and should not be a mass-driven destination, but putting that aside, it's just, you know, marketing for the type of product that we have here. In terms of quality, we are very, very aware of the importance of quality and service, and we are very focused on developing that important factor. 

Did you lose your focus here, Motormouth? If We are not "a mass-driven destination and should not be a mass-driven destination," then why is that "...we do not have a specific promotion or marketing to any specific group..."? Are We "not niche-marketing to the masses to bring in no specific groups but not the masses"? Are We "mass-marketing to avoid the masses and the niches as well"? Just what the hell are We doing, Motormouth?

Here's another example of Tourrette's-masquerading-as-Tourism:

ETN: Puerto Rico Tourism Company has boldly claimed that Puerto Rico does it better. Let's make this case in terms of tourism. What exactly in your view does Puerto Rico Tourism do better?
LAFUENTE: Well, we do many things better. Puerto Rico does it better. 

Echolalia or incompetence, as shown by the rest of the rambling answer?

Marketing a destination is not an easy task. Trying to market a destination by not knowing what's unique and special about it is almost impossible. But trying to do so by not even knowing what the hell you're saying is totally impossible. You need help, Motormouth. For Our sake, you should get it. 

For when it comes to Our Tourism, Tourrette's is not an option We should have to put up with. Ever.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Note: 15 May 2010: Hey! Back on 19 September 2008, I wrote a post titled "Tourism Tour(rette)". The more things change... ]

09 May 2011

Flipping Odds

You flip a coin 10 times and it comes up heads 10 times in a row. What are the odds it comes up tails on the 11th flip?

Politician Skanky Thief has been mentioned as a possible suspect in 6 federal investigations. What are the odds he will be indicted before the elections? Would the odds change if I named him "Honest Bureaucrat"?

The political party you support has--on average--five criminal investigations against it a year. What are the odds it will not have any criminal investigations against it in the next 4 years?

The first question has a clear and obvious answer: 50-50. In other words, no matter what has happened before, a coin flip is just as likely to land heads as it does tails. Coins don't have memories or tendencies.

Moving on to Skanky Thief, the odds are more difficult to calculate. But think about it: if a person has been shown to have a tendency--good or bad--We know the odds favor that the tendency continue. So We intuitively think that Skanky Thief is just about a lock to go down, but Honest Bureaucrat might avoid a grand jury altogether. The problem in calculating the odds is not them, but Us: if We support Skanky Thief, in essence saying "He's My thief," then We ignore the tendency shown and think he's going to get away unscathed. If We hate Honest Bureaucrat's party/politics, then We ignore the tendency again and start preparing Our mental "I hope he drops the soap in prison" tirade. Unlike the coin, the politician has a memory and a tendency. (Like the coin, the politician lacks a conscience.)

Now what about the political party? If you think about it a bit, you'll realize that calculating the odds here is still fuzzy, but easier than with the politician. Simple: Individuals are hard to predict, but systems and organizations are much less so. You grasp that instinctively, in the same way that you'll nod your head when I say that nearly every Catholic priest will come out vehemently against sexual abuse of children, but the Church will look the other way when the dozens of accusations come in every year.

So look at the political parties We have festering in Our political system and ask yourself: are they going to change? I use the example of criminal investigations, but you can substitute any topic or concern you have: education, energy policy, unemployment, ecology, drug abuse, whatever.  You know the answer.

So what about looking then at the individuals within the parties, to see if at that level We can find an outlier, a change agent, a difference maker? Too much work, you say? And that bias thing you have against members of the other party makes it impossible for you to look at "them" and see anything but "skanky thieves" compared to your "honest bureaucrats," right? The problem isn't "them": it's you.

But what choice do We have, if We want to change the system? (Not enough of Us do, but just string along here while I make My point.) The odds indicate that the skanky thieves We have steering Us like drunken monkeys are only that: thieving drunk monkeys. We aren't getting anything from them other than what We've seen. They ain't flipping to "competent nation builders" ever in Our space-time continuum. And the parties are built for and by thieving drunken monkeys to find more thieving drunken monkeys. Their "coin flips" are coming up "asses" with metronomic regularity. (I know it's supposed to be "tails"; synonyms rule.)

What's happening isn't random. We don't have this boozy con(wo)man circus of drunken
thieving monkeys by accident. The odds of something this huge and this consistent being an accident are slightly higher than that of a banana winning the Nobel Prize for Physics. Knowing that--and We do know it--it behooves Us to take matters back into Our own hands and break the system. Their system. We're given the open power to do so every four years, but We ignore the power We have every day to mold the system. Odds are, We're going to continue to ignore, to conveniently forget, that We actually do have the power and let the drunken thieving monkeys continue to flip Us off.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

05 May 2011

Monkeys and Lizards and Snakes, Oh My!

Some people in Hawaii hate, loathe and despise the fact that some of My Brethren have taken Our little coquí frogs, producers of the musical warble that fills Our nights, to those Pacific islands. They hate the unfamiliar noise and that the noise is almost impossible to eradicate. (The coquí is a ventriloquist, so you look where he ain't.)

I understand those Hawaiians. I get their pain. But they have one kind of little animal to deal with...and We have three.

First, monkeys. Disease-addled escapees that We have voted into office every freaking election year since 195--Oh, sorry. Disease-riddled monkeys, genus Rhesus and Pata, swam across a narrow strip of ocean from the tiny island research facility that housed them. What was once a small handful of breeding pairs has become an epidemic: estimates of the monkey population on My Island ranges from 5,000 to 12,000.

Most are sick with syphillis, the simian version of AIDS and other diseases.  Reports abound that they no longer flee when they see people and that they have attacked cars in group rages. They have expanded their range from the southwest--where I live--to the western edge of the San Juan Metro area. What they will do when--not if, when--they cross that barrier into the rain forest is a nightmare on Our schedule.

Huge iguanas, crested craggy creatures that can stretch to 7-8 feet (half of that tail) are proliferating like mad and We vote them into office every freaking elec---Oh, sorry. These iguanas arrived here as exotic pets, not lab animals, and either escaped or were tossed into the wild, like the alligators We have in Our northwestern mangroves. The problem is that, unlike the gators, the iguanas can easily find food anywhere and out-compete Our smaller native species. The large iguanas are particularly vicious when it comes to eating bird eggs, with many of Our native birds seeing a negative impact from this invasion.

I know a 5-year old boy who has a pet snake. His third in a year. The other two? Oh, they escaped. Puerto Rico--or My Island, as it is known (to Me)--had only one native snake species and We kept voting it into office eve--Oh, sorry. Now, according to Natural Resources Department personnel, We have over 20 snake species here, many of them of the boa and python families. My dad killed a 9-foot snake outside his house about 20 years ago, in the hills of Arroyo (southeast coast). His neighbors told him that was the seventh or eighth snake of that size killed in the area in the span of a few months. Those neighbors now indicate that large snakes are an increasingly common sight in the higher and drier hills of the region, the ones where people seldom roam, but dogs and cats often do.

These monkeys and lizards and snakes are a problem...and not because We keep voting them into office every freaking election. These animals endanger Our lives and that of Our native species. The Puerto Rican parrot, whose population is rising slowly after years of dedicated conservation efforts, could be wiped out in months if monkeys and iguanas ravish the rain forest the parrots cling to precariously. Farmers along the southwest coast and southwest interior have practically given up their small farms because the monkeys ravage the crops and the fines for killing one of these monkeys is in the thousands of dollars.

But what is going to happen when a monkey attacks someone and wounds them grievously? Or when iguanas wipe out most of Our birds? Or when snakes multiply to the point where Our camping and relaxation areas are biological mine fields? What then?

So far, We have no solutions. Hunting with air rifles has been allowed, but in limited fashion. Trapping has been tried, but in the case of monkeys, who will take them or how they will be destroyed has been an obstacle. (Don't tell Me these monkeys can't be killed wholesale: they can be. If you think about it, it's the only practical, affordable and reasonably-implementable solution.) Trapping iguanas and snakes is a more difficult deal, but they need to be decimated as well. And no, bringing in some other animal to eat the iguanas and snakes is not a solution. We have enough problems with bringing animals into Puerto Rico and voting them into offi--Oh, sorry.

It's painfully obvious We have dozens of major problems, exceedingly hard to solve. These animals are part of the chaotic problem set We face every day. But unlike other facets of this ugly diamond, We can do something about these animals. We can get rid of the monkeys, then the iguanas and then the snakes. If nothing else, solving one problem gives Us momentum to solve another. But whether We pick an animal or corrupt politicians or amoral thieves to eliminate, We can find all three in the current (non)administration.

Oh, sorry: We can find solutions. We just have to want to enough. Soon.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Update: 18 May 2011: Local officials capture an illegal shipment of exotic species, including pythons, boas, a hooded cobra, crocodiles, alligators, scorpions and tarantulas. The capture took place in Arroyo. Imagine that. And in Guayama, an alligator is jailed. No, I didn't make that up.]

02 May 2011

Failing Parents, Failing Students

Off My previous post, Jenius Reader Prometeo waded in with his personal experiences. He is a teacher who has tried to implement some of the Finnish viewpoints into local classrooms. In his own words (from the Comments section of the post):

"I focus more on pedagogical strategies and try to find the most suitable one to use on a class. I try not to get enclosed in the Department of Education's pedagogical mold based on the USA's tried and failed but still applied theories. Finland let's it's teachers try to experiment new strategies and encourages it. ON this island it's otherwise and not fitting into the mold can get you in trouble."

Now I'm on record as having stated that most teachers on My Island are too lazy and too stupid to do any other job. Obviously, Prometeo and many many others don't fit that indictment. I am also on record as thinking of Our Department of (Mis)Education as useless at best and criminal at worst.


There's a third component in this education swamp and it's one I've never truly pinpointed as such with equal vehemence. I'll let Prometeo identify that target precisely:

"Another thing is that I try to get parents involved. But that has really proved difficult. In this island people don't really care about education. So that's an uphill battle for me. The parents that do respond and work with their kids see better results. But those are a minority. Reality is that in Puerto Rico most parents don't really care about their kids education, they just want to have the school take care of them from 8-3 and when they arrive home sit them in front of the TV until bedtime. That's the sad truth."

Yes it is. Thus We can round out The Jenius' definitions of the "Educational Trilogy of Failure" in the following manner:

---The Department: "Useless at best, criminal at worst."
---Teachers: "Most are too lazy and too stupid for the job."
---Parents: "Many are too lazy, too irresponsible and too stupid to raise well-educated kids."

A quick glance and thought will lead to only one conclusion: Our education system fails because too many parents fail to do their part in it.

If you think My definition about parents and their role is wrong, answer these questions:

Have you ever known a hard-working person who didn't take education and learning seriously? Odds are that for every 100 hard workers you meet, maybe 1-2 are not avid supporters of education. Hard-working people have a simple logic about education: they know the value of hard work and the value of knowing more to make hard work easier and more productive.

Have you ever known a responsible person who didn't take education and learning seriously? Responsible people, by definition, follow through. They can plan, visualize the future and orient their behavior to fulfill their need/goal. They know the value of commitment and progress and thus make it a focal point of their attention when it comes to the ultimate platform for acquiring long-term skills: education.

Have you ever known a smart or well-educated (not the same thing) person who didn't take education and learning seriously? Those who know Me might chuckle: I loathe schools, classrooms and the fetid garbage that goes with it, like grades...but I am fanatical about learning. Many professionals are nearly obsessed with their children's grades and school progress, probably because it is a reflection on them (image being everything for some people.) But for whatever reason (or spectrum of reasons), We focus on Our children's education--or lack of it. We make Our children aware that We care and--right or wrong--make them go through the system at or near the top of the heap. We are a minority--and most of Us have Our kids in private schools.

Which leaves the public school system with a substantial minority, maybe even a majority, of the "too lazy, too irresponsible and too stupid" crowd.

Obviously, not every parent with a child in a public school fits My definition, just as not every teacher does. (The Department, on the other hand...) But as so many teachers, like Prometeo, can attest, far too many parents do. And before I get a brick off the noggin, too many parents in private schools fall into My definition, not because they are indifferent, but because they care about the wrong things. You know the type: their precious snowflake simply can't get a bad grade because they are special and I'm paying for this! Yeah, those jerks.

In a society where over half of Our adults don't work is fertile ground for "too lazy." In a society where close to 65% of Our people are on welfare, almost 60% blatantly avoid taxes and nearly 44% work for the government, it's a wonder responsabilidad hasn't faded from Our language like hundreds of Taíno words. And in a society where education has been raped, stonewalled and criminally decimated by corruption for over 40 years, it's damn near a miracle We aren't all Fools.

But sometimes--too often--We act like We are.

The Jenius Has Spoken.