22 September 2011

Fathers As Heroes

Sometimes--if not most of the time--you have to make the good things happen yourself. That might be the dictum that lead Raúl Colón to launch Papá Héroes, a website that focuses on the good and great things that Dads do. In doing so, it helps remind Us that although there are a lot of voluntarily missing fathers and some who should be shot like rabid dogs, there's a huge number of men who take pride in being a father and do their best to be the best father they can be.

When Raúl launched the website, he kindly invited Me to join. I responded that I would, but this is as close as I've come. In the months since, Papá Héroes has grown into a combination journal-forum on what it is to be a good Dad. Reading through the anecdotes and posts, you get the sense that it starts with caring, just caring about your child and your role as a father.

Indifference is deadly, to the child's development and to having any chance to become a good father. I'd say simply caring is more important than love, because there are good fathers out there who don't love their children, either because they don't know how (think about it and you'll realize who I'm talking about) or because (more often) the children are not theirs, but they care for them anyway. A few step-fathers have told Me they don't really love their step-children, but that they try hard to be there for them in everything. I don't often believe what they say, but when I see them act as good responsible fathers year after year, I have to say: they are honest. And they are good fathers.

Biology makes mothers and fathers very different. A mother literally has the child as part of her body for nine months; for fathers, the connection becomes real when the child is born. By then, the mother has spent months sharing a heartbeat, and if you believe in that sort of thing, a soul with that baby. Fathers learn to love a child; mothers love the child as they love themselves.

That's why some mothers fail to be good mothers: not because they lack a connection to the child, but because they don't love themselves enough. Biological fathers may have more "reasons" (and they are all excuses, anyway) for not loving a child, and yet stepping up and being a father is just as important as being a mother. That so many men fail to do so is an indictment of Our society.

Over the years, I've worried about how I'm doing as a father. I berate Myself for missing a cue, for over-reacting, for not reacting enough, for being short-tempered or for being too patient. Time and time again people have told Me they think I'm a good father, even a great one, but the concern still weighs on Me: Am I? Can I be? Will I ever be?

Yet, on rare occasions, when I'm alone with My thoughts, a part of Me looks at My son and at My nephews, the boys I spent so much time with, and a small voice in My head says: "You're doing good. Keep it up."

I wish that voice would stick around a little longer. Barring that, I thank Raúl and the collaborators at Papá Héroes for bringing good Dads together and letting them--Us--share what it is to be a father.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

19 September 2011

(Not) Making Our Move

Here's what We need to do to get rid of the pig-fools and create a true democracy:

1) Knowledge of how we are getting screwed;
2) Pragmatic tactics, strategies, and solutions; and
3) The “energy to do battle.”

Taken from this article by Bruce Levine, in AlterNet, these steps are aimed at the lack of democracy in what was once the "Bastion of Democracy," the U.S. of part of A., but they apply equally well here on My Island.

Levine believes that the knowledge of how the people of the U.S. of part of A. are getting screwed, while not exactly widespread, has numbers larger than the group aware of tactics, strategies and solutions. Because he works for an alternative news site, cleverly called AlterNet, he's part of the "solution" to the lack of knowledge, swims in those waters and sees the lack of action based on the information pool he feeds as a matter of "scanty tactics and low energy."

Maybe so, in the U.S. of part of A. But here in My Patch of Green, the lack falls squarely in the category of "knowledge of how We're getting screwed." We don't know how it's happening, and except for when it touches Us directly, We don't care. "We don't care" is easy to define once "We don't know" is explained. So, okay Jenius, why don't We know?

--The media: Our media is as informative a group of people as fat cells are capable of thought. (Go ahead, parse it. I'll wait.) If it requires thought, they can't handle it, so they don't. If it requires confrontation--based on character and ethics instead of sensationalism--they can't manage it, so they don't. And if it requires courage...well, they don't have any.

--Government: Yeah, yeah, yeah, the source of all blames. Pifflegab. Here's the thing: We elect a good chunk of it. So when a mealy-mouthed wimp of a (non)governor places a snaky-assed weasel in charge of the power company and let's the snaky-assed weasel lie, lie and baldly lie about what's happening with the electric bill--rewarding said snaky-assed weasel with over $320,000 in salary and benefits--and that fact is buried under several other political scandals of varying degrees, then yes, the government is at fault for running reckless and saying nothing.

--Us: Of course, Us. Who else? It's Our house and Our people and Our problems and Our responsibility to come up with solutions to save Our asses. Waiting for Superman, the cavalry or Godot to fix Our morass isn't getting Us anywhere. If We don't fix it, We don't get fixed. Pure and simple.

Now where are the alternative news sources needed to illuminate Our darkened minds? Well, there are...none. Yes, there is a Centro de Periodismo Investigativo, a Center for Investigative Journalism, but they tackle very few stories and get little traction for them. Oh, and what's on the home page of their website right now: a story on 9/11. Yeah, that illuminates a lot about Our problems.

It might be a lack of numbers. With 300 million citizens, the U.S. of part of A. can rely on a measly 0.00001% of its population--3,000 contributors--to create an alternative news industry, leveraged by the power of the Internet for enormous reach (exceeding 83% penetration or roughly 250 million people.) In Puerto Rico, 0.00001% equals 40 of Us, leveraged by an Internet with a penetration rate of roughly 55% (no, it isn't any higher and I'm being generous with 55%; could be closer to 45%) reaching barely 2.2 million people...IF We had the 40 contributors and IF they wrote about topics that could galvanize Our interest. (And no, that list doesn't include "9/11".)

And Let's face it: Our interest level is piqued more by a senator's ass or a senatorial aide's ass than by the fact that We're getting screwed in the...abstract. And concretely. Every day. Yes, We lack the knowledge of how it's done, though several of Us, mainly in blogs, try to educate the masses. Yes, We lack the tactics and whatnot to make an effective protest become a resistance movement. Twitter--by itself--is not an action verb that changes history. And when it comes to energy, Our "revolutionary movements" have a long history of petering out in a few hours (shopping in Plaza Las Americas, anyone?), or at most a day, when "token authority" is exercised ("Whimper de Lares", anyone?)

The takeaway: there's plenty of work to be done to convert this oligarchic orgy of nation rape into a semblance of democracy. But as the joke goes, what are the definitiosn of "ignorance" and "arrogance"?

I don't know and I don't care.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Update: 20 September 2011: And then this shows up on My Twitter feed: How to Use Twitter to Organize and Manage a Protest. Don't say I'm not helping Us make Our move or that I'm rigidly dogmatic about My opinions...]

15 September 2011

Non-Random Thoughts...Again

Thanks to Janine Mendes-Franco for selecting My post about Our police being gutted by the Federal Department of Justice report, pairing Me with a related post over at Dondequiera. Nice.

--My Pittsburgh Pirates lost their 82nd game of the year, extending their record losing-season streak to 19. The damn thing is old enough to vote. They were in first place as late as July 20th, and it all seemed to come crashing down when they lost a 19-inning game to the Braves on a blown call at the plate. Maybe that wasn't it, but the Buckos went into a severe tailspin. Add to that My Steelers getting clobbered 35-7 by the Ravens and this week has been a disaster for Jenius sports favorites.

--The local Electrical Power Authority has refused to make the fuel charge adjustment it normally makes, thus keeping Our electrical bills higher than they should be. The purpose: to force Us to accept the GasoDildo as the "solution" to high energy costs. Here's two simple solutions: scale back the subsidies granted to private companies here and to people living in housing projects. Corporations can get as much as 50% and some apartments in housing projects get capped at $30 max for running air conditioners all day. The only folks who should get the subsidy are those for whom medical equipment is needed, and even then it should be capped at $90-$100 to avoid the huge abuse We have.

--Under any objective measure, there is no doubt that the most corrupt party in Puerto Rico is the New Progressive Party. It's not the only corrupt party (PDP and PIP. anyone?), but the depths of moral and ethical ineptitude are deeper in the party founded by a reckless opportunist who backed into power without a single cohesive plan beyond "We won?!". I bring this up to let you know I'll be going back to the topic in an upcoming post. But for now, let's crown the NPP and its statehood-supporting weasels the Toilet Seat Crown of Shit-Headed Corruption.

--Is it surprising that the national media in the U.S. of part of A. made a big splash about welfare and federal aid recipients having to take drug tests (and only 2% tested positive), while here on My Island the media and Fools have kept coffin-quiet about the whole thing? How come We don't hear about this?

--Two recent crimes involving folks from the west side of the Island (My side) generated a lot of heat: two young volleyball prospects, lifelong  friends, were gunned down in front of a popular pub in San Juan and an engineer was decapitated by two younger relatives, his head placed on the kitchen counter, surrounded by family pictures. Three men dead and there's much wailing; only some of it is honest. In a country where over a thousand people will be killed, some of them women at the hands of "lovers," We gnash Our teeth at three men dead. Yes, their deaths were tragic and horrifying, but almost all violent deaths are. What makes these three stand out is that they didn't happen in the streets, where death is "acceptable" to Us. They literally hit closer to home: a bar and an actual home. Yeah, all of a sudden when the violence comes off the streets and into Our "safe" places, then We act all prissy about it. Until then, the blood runs like a river through Our streets...and We don't really care. And yes, I've said it before, but it bears repeating until most of Us get it.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

13 September 2011

Dam(n) Stupidity

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My house was flooded again. Now I know I could live someplace else; that's not the point. The point is that I like this house, I like the neighborhood, the neighborhood likes Me and the problem--flooding--is not some natural aspect of where I live, but a problem created by stupidity. Fucking stupidity.

Here's the photographic sequence, with times:

8:34 AM: After barely 95 minutes of rain, some of it heavy, but nowhere near the amount other parts of My Island received, the water's coming up to the level of My balcony. A school bus becomes a rescue vehicle spewing oil and diesel into waters that are either in people's houses or about to flood them. Only two people were inside the vehicle at this point: the driver and a young man who opened the widow and asked Me if I was leaving the house. Seeing as how he might have been a city employee, I chose not to let him steal My stuff. (Yeah, I said it.)

8:57 AM: The water flooded into My house at 8:39 AM. After checking to make sure I had secured what I could from water damage, I called My Mom to update her and wish her a Happy Birthday. (Priorities, people.) As We talk, I notice the water in My house is flowing outward, which made Me think that water was coming in from behind the house, adjacent to the large drainage canal. A quick check proved that idea wrong. The water was flowing out of the house because all the water in the street was flowing away. I took this picture of why that happened.

8:59 AM: The water on My street was there because the drainage project being built (that started just before the storm season) had created a dam--a fucking dam--to stop the water from flowing out and away from the street. Made from rubble (dirt, sand, gravel, rocks) it held back the rainfall, rising high because--once again--the drainage system was blocked. The whole idea of this project is to STOP THE FUCKING FLOODING. Instead, they actually MAKE THE FUCKING FLOOD HAPPEN.

Here's the proof: a picture taken at 3:17 PM, after My Sister, My Nephews, Mrs. Jenius and I had pretty much cleaned the house enough to make it comfortable. Note the rubble dam. The narrow canal to the right drains water from the other side of My neighborhood, with the water flowing to the bottom right corner of the picture. At one point, after the fucking dam gave way, the flow was so strong it carried away 50-gallon trashcans full of garbage. A flow that strong was needed to create outflow from My house, and would rain the street quickly.

9:37 AM: Although it was still raining lightly, and would rain more during the day, the street was clear of water. Draining the entire flooded area took 43 minutes and if it had happened 9 minutes sooner, My house would not have had 2 inches of water lapping at the walls. If I had known that fucking dam was there, I would have removed enough of it to avoid the damage. And if I see it again, I will. Fuck the contractor. Fuck the city government. Their stupidity and finger-pointing to avoid responsibility needs to be slapped. Hard.

Storm season ends in October, possibly early November. According to workers on this site, the drainage system--whatever it ends up being--is scheduled for completion in mid-November...or maybe closer to Christmas.

Stormwatch, anyone?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

12 September 2011

Il Castrao's (Dead) Body Of Evidence

Let's hold Our noses pinched shut for a while as We take a closer look at the maggoty corpse of one Jorge "Il Castrao" Castro, the emasculated poster boy for really really stupid people who have the sheer unmitigated gall of thinking they are actually of average intelligence. And We will take this time for one simple reason: he is proving Me right.

Proof-in-the-pudding here.

Now, I don't need the support of someone beneath the contempt of an anal parasite, a noted liar, crook and weasel-faced con man with the morals of a pedophilic priest. But I caught a boatload of crap from some people--and you know who you are--for stating the following:

1) That the Il Castrao investigation was so huge (over 13,000 pieces of evidence) because it was also aimed at other targets.

2) That the targets of the investigation included current secretar(iat) of state, one Kenneth "Whinny Neigh" McClintock.

3) That an "ABC corruption scheme" was in place, with the "Alpha" being behind the ABC.

4) That the media is complicit, to wit, that the stranglehold the Ferré family has on newspapers is an obstacle to Our progress.

Now I am used to getting criticized for some of the things I write here. I actually look forward to it. Makes Me smile. But on the above topics, I got more than My usual (small) share of vitriol: I got it in waves. In fact, because of My intransigence on these positions, four people stopped talking to Me. Dropped Me like a leprous skunk. Haven't missed them...

...Until today. For according to the NotiCel proof-in-the-pudding, lawyers for Il Castrao are claiming that:

-- Evidence (testimony) against ex-senate president Kenny "Whinny Ninny", er, "Whinny Neigh" McClintock, (non)governor Luis "The Larva" Fortuño, ex-representatives and business leaders was given to the local Justice Department in 2008, but the prosecutors only went after Il Castrao. (Points 1 and 2.)

-- Amongst the business leaders named: one Antonio "Stick a Fork In It" Ferré, owner of the newspapers El Nuevo Día, Primera Hora and a double-handful of regional papers.  (Point 4.)

-- The extensive bribery and payoffs scheme's outlines, according to Il Castrao's testimony, includes The Larva as what can be called "the shadow in the background," or more briefly, an alpha for an ABC. (Points 1, 2 and 3.)

So here's My last word to the vitriol-spewing ex-friends of Mon Jenius: Suck it. 

Now is it possible that Il Castrao, knowing that his ass is grass, is lying, trying like hell to blame everyone he can think of to save his miserable skin? Yes, it is possible...in the same way it is possible that the Sun could be made of Philippine fondue cheese. For you see, Il Castrao, still facing tax evasion charges, gains nothing by lying, but can exact a measure of revenge for pushing the truth.

Let's see how much vitriol I get for stating that position.

I bet none.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

08 September 2011

Protection, Integrity...Gutted

"Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD)'s motto, Proteccion, Integridad ("Protection, Integrity"), showcases these responsibilities and sets out PRPD's vision for ensuring the safety of the people of Puerto Rico while adhering to the highest professional, ethical, and legal standards. Unfortunately, far too many PRPD officers have broken their oath to uphold the rule of law, as they have been responsible for acts of crime and corruption and have routinely violated the constitutional rights of the residents of Puerto Rico. These officers have frequently subjected the very people they swore to protect to unreasonable force and unlawful searches and seizures. In addition, when faced with public demonstrations, PRPD relies on tactics that violate the free speech rights of demonstrators and the press.  

PRPD attacking protester, January 13, 2011 -  NewsObserver.com

The patterns and practices of civil rights violations we identified are profound. They are the result of chronic institutional and systemic deficiencies that directly contribute to repeated violations of the Constitution and federal law. PRPD does not currently provide its officers with sufficient or appropriate training, guidance, discipline, or supervision. As a result, PRPD both fails to equip its officers with the necessary skills to effectively serve the public and address officer misconduct in a timely or effective manner. Outdated policies and ineffective external oversight exacerbate PRPD's failure to ensure constitutional policing and contribute to continuing violations that erode the public's confidence in its efforts.  

To date, Puerto Rico has failed to adequately address the causes that contribute to both its unconstitutional law enforcement and ineffective policing. Puerto Rico must act decisively, transparently, and immediately to restore the public's trust and correct PRPD's pattern of unconstitutional policing. We have outlined the minimum measures necessary to remedy PRPD's pattern of constitutional violations. Implementing these steps, with the oversight of the federal courts, will place PRPD on the path to lasting reform and permit PRPD to meet its public safety challenges while respecting the constitutional rights of the people of Puerto Rico."

Here's the link to the full Department of Justice report, courtesy of the New York Times. The quote above is from page 111, the Conclusion to the report.

Allow Me to point out the salient phrase of this lengthy quote: the U.S. of part of A. Justice Department is recommending--with the force of law behind it--that the federal courts monitor the Puerto Rico Police Department. This comes after a very detailed, 133-item suggestion list, practically eviscerates the PRPD, laying out such a lengthy laundry list of "fix this" points that it amounts to a judgment of "'Cuz you are broke all over."

FBI arrests Puerto Rico police officers -- Reuters Photo
Last October, 90 members of the PRPD were arrested, by the FBI. I wrote at the time:

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

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

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

Now We're being told--again--"You can't police yourselves." Pun fucking intended.

Damn it.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Update: 23 September 2011: The Federal Justice Department prepares to file suit seeking to appoint a federal-level monitor to supervise the changes in the PRPD.]

[Update: 5 October 2011: From The New York Times, an article on how the PRPD grossly manipulated crime statistics so that the Superintendent and his Larval boss could lie with bald faces and claim that the crime rate had dropped.]

05 September 2011

"Animal Farm": The Musical

After dealing with a naked asshole--and his pictures of it--yes, I took a break. And discovered a new ad campaign that has the makings of either sheer chutzpah, satanic cynicism or loopy insanity.

The campaign features the legendary salsa group El Gran Combo (50+ years of international stardom), singing one of their many hits, but with the lyrics rewritten. The original version sings about living "the great life", doing nothing and having fun. The title of the song is "No hago más ná'"--I don't do anything else. The new lyrics now sing about working hard and "moving forward, never backward."

The campaign, backed by notorious economic sumphole Banco Popular, asks viewers to call in and request the song so as to make it...popular. They actually imply in the ad that a song--and by extension, that their reworked song--can change a society

I sh--kid you not.

Take a stroll through The Jenius' posts, or a daily local puppy-trainer rag We call newspaper and you'll quickly come to the conclusion that We are neck-deep in problems. Serious problems. Problems that go way back to before "No hago más ná'" captured Our fondest wish and made it danceable. We are so deep into these problems that a whole host of vermin have come up to feed on them, to literally stake their lives on them, to entrench themselves in the sewage and thrive on it, while deep in their miniscule brains they fear being exposed to light, to having their feces-filled wallow drained so that others--more worthy and virtuous--can thrive better.

And Banco Popular is a massive slug in that vermin horde. (Paid back the TARP money, BP? Made the minimum percentage of loans to local clients, BP? Stopped using The Larva's wife's law firm as your principal mortgage legal advisors, BP? Got your stock back up over a dollar a share, penny-stupid and dollar-useless BP?)

Now here's the thing: this campaign is nothing new. And all it does is lend credence to a conclusion I stated in 2001 in My columns at PuertoRican.com com, and revisited in 2005 here in The Jenius. And because it applies so well, here it is again, the "Glee-ified" version of Our "Animal Farm":

Puerto Rican.com 008 – Week of 10 December 2001

Animal Farm
By Gil C. Schmidt

When I was a youngster, I overheard a man’s brief rant about “those in power” and how they had a “conspiracy” to keep Puerto Ricans ignorant, and thus, controllable. He pointed out how the educational system (this was in the late 1970s) was a mess, how the newspapers were written “for morons” and how politicians and others, “those in power”, kept manipulating “everything” to retain their grasp on the populace.

At the time, I thought he was crazy. A conspiracy? To keep people, as he said, “stupid”? A deliberate effort to not educate people? What was wrong with this guy? Hell, nobody seemed to be paying attention to him… Seemed to. For a little, insistent voice in my head was saying he might be right…and no one there was even trying to contradict him.

This was a small incident, but over the years, I’ve recalled it several times and mentioned it once before. The whole incident came roaring back when I saw the latest TV ad campaign and the title “Animal Farm” flashed into my head as the commercial ended.

The government (under Sila "Quitter" Calderón) has created a series of ads featuring business leaders encouraging effort, and now another series with “commoners”. (I only saw one, but I imagine there are at least one or two more) Their catch-line now is: “Adelante con Fuerza, Puerto Rico”. (Roughly: “Onward with Force/Strength/Energy, Puerto Rico.”) Supposedly common citizens urging their fellow citizens to make a greater effort. And all I could think of was the Horse, in “Animal Farm”.

George Orwell’s often heavy-handed fable of animals taking over a farm and creating a progressively-debased “utopia” is great reading. In it, the Horse is by far the strongest animal, capable of doing almost all of the necessary heavy work. But, his muscle is not matched by his brain. As things are going to pot on the Farm, his only comment and response is “I must work harder. I must work harder!” And so he does, with simple-minded, but poignantly noble strength. And while his muscles struggle, the Farm leaders--the Pigs--wallow in excess and create more chaos.

Oh, the parallels.

The reason I could never forget that man’s rant so long ago was the niggling feeling that maybe, maybe he was right. The points he made are still valid: The educational system is a mess, the media often does treat its audience as morons and what we see every week from our “leaders” has the acidly-sour taste of rampant manipulation in it.

• “Give them to me as children and I shall own them forever,” are words ascribed to Adolph Hitler.
• “The strongest protection of liberty is an educated people,” is ascribed to Thomas Jefferson.
• “Let him work harder!” is the Pigs’ implied response to the news that the Horse is struggling and dying.

And now, “Adelante con Fuerza, Puerto Rico”: Am I the only one who hears the subtext: “Work harder! It’s your fault! We have other—better!—things to do!” and the drunkenly-delighted cackle-grunts of the Pigs?


I can't wait for the remix version of this musical, the Banco Popular production of "Ignore the screwing, just keep dancing! ¡Salsa de la buena!"

On second thought: Yes. I can.

The Jenius Has Spoken.