10 December 2011

TEDx San Juan: We're Not Alone

Oh yeah, I was wrong.

TEDx San Juan was a rousing success. As I tweeted: I'll eat some of My words, happily.

Let Me dismiss My off-targets first: I sill don't agree with hiding the speakers line-up until just before the event. Sharing of anything is enhanced by symmetry and symmetry means We have the same or as much of the same (information) as possible. I would have gone to TEDx San Juan no matter the line-up, and...

Given that over 1,000 people applied and only 100 were allowed (My second point) by TED guidelines (for a first event), then there would have been no problem filling up the event. Only 100 was a stipulation, not a whim: I would have liked to know that beforehand. So picking Me to attend was not a mistake (I don't know what criteria applied), but a a pondered decision that actually honors Me.

Now for the positives: TEDx San Juan is the first event I have ever attended locally that exceeded My expectations. My biggest Congratulations go to the organizing team: Ramphis Castro, Iván Ríos, Marcos Polanco, José Padilla, Arelys Rosado and Héctor Ramos. They did a magnificent job.

A special Congratulations goes to Marcos Polanco for coordinating the speakers. I understand the selection was made by a group, but Marcos had the direct responsibility for the line-up and the agenda and his choices in both regards were impeccable.

Another special shout-out goes to Jenial Friend Luis Herrero as his company was in charge of the video and livestreaming, which I understand was world-class.

The speakers deserve their own recognition, to wit:

Justo Méndez, Nuestra Escuela: Born from the tragic loss by auto accident of his daughter, Nuestra Escuela takes in troubled kids and gives them back their capacity to dream and reach that dream.

Fernando Lloveras described why he created an organization to rescue Puerto Rico's rapidly-diminishing land area, preserving it for Our future.

Jorge Rigau presented his two proposals, a Metropolitan Walking Paths project that could easily and economically provide San Juan with some 3,000 miles of "urban walking paths," rescuing little-used spaces and a project, already done once, to convert a 35-kilometer irrigation canals infrastructure into a passive recreation/tourism attraction.

Dr. Daniel Colón talked about the exponential impact and importance of basic research, so strongly-maligned now, in healthcare and broad-based public benefits.

Tara Rodríguez described her Department of Food company, linking organic farm products with urban and suburban deliveries of high-quality vegetables and fruits.

Jorge Gaskins spoke about microalgae and the enormous potential they have for both food and fuel. Key number: microalgae can produce over 10,600 gallons of biofuel per acre per year; no plant can produce more than 780 gallons per acre per year.

Noel Quiñones spoke about and showed excerpts of his documentary about a school in Maricao that after 9 years of failing the standardized department-wide tests, and facing closure if it failed again, dramatically rocketed its scores to pass the tests...in 60 days.

Lawrence La-Fountain spoke of "sexiles," Puerto Ricans who leave the Island or are marginalized because of their homosexuality and how they respond through artistic expression to that exclusion.

Andrea Pérez (daughter of My Friend Lovely Laura) spoke about her personal decision to truly give, consciously developing sustainable charitable work, based on her experiences in Sudan (yes, Sudan) and Haiti.

Giovanni Rodríguez reconnected with his Puerto Rican roots and described his path to becoming a (cheer)leader for social engagement, social media use that foments change amongst Latinos, the "original retweeters." (In joke...)

Mayra Santos, accomplished writer and teacher, told Us two powerful truths: We need to lose Our fear of literature (We don't read enough) in order to tell the world Our stories, for without Our stories, the world and Us are diminished from full potential.

Four videos were shown: Emiliano Salinas on the attitude change needed to properly face up to the horrendous crime wave in his native Mexico; the Khan Academy's re-framing of education; Joan Halifax on the powerful nature of compassion and a brief video with Joachim de Posada indicating that delayed gratification--not eating the marshmallow for 15 minutes (watch the video)--is an almsot 100% predictor of success.

Three artistic presentations, a TED conference requirement, had strong impact as well: Y No Había Luz, Andanza and Time Machine Squad.

For My money, every speaker was a huge hit. I was especially moved by Andrea Pérez, Noel Quiñones and Lawrence La-Fountain, intrigued by Fernando Lloveras, Jorge Rigau and Jorge Gaskins and I fell in love with Mayra Santos (who is a sex symbol and rightly so.)

I must give a special thanks to Dana Montenegro who served as an energetic, quirky and hugely engaging emcee. I can offer no greater praise than "I couldn't have done it better."

Suggestions? Tables so attendees can sit and share, better monitoring of time so We can start/finish and explore with each other during the event and some stronger form of "connecting," like maybe setting up the tables with names so that you end up sitting with a group of (hopefully) strangers that you can then engage with.

But these are minor quibbles, at best. TEDx San Juan was interesting, dynamic, moving and impressive. Three thoughts came together during the event:

1) I'm so used to events like these being "what could have been" that I have become too cynical about "what could be." I won't do that again.

2) I, and We, are not alone. There are plenty of My Brethren who not only want to make a difference, they actually are making a difference.

3) The next TEDx has already begun. And it will be even better than this one.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

[Update: 11 December 2011: Videos of the TEDx San Juan speakers are here.]

08 December 2011

TEDX San Juan: Stale Cracker Or Artisan Bread?

As I write this, TEDx San Juan, first edition, is to start in 17 hours.

I have no idea who's speaking. Or what they'll talk about.

The only information I have is that the theme is "Bursting the Bubble," referring to My Brethren who are pushing the envelope, boricuas breaking new ground. Good. Marvelous. But to be blunt: so what?

Now for the two of you who don't know what the TED events are, they refer to a series of brief (10-20 minute) presentations on topics related to technology, education and design--TED. (Careful: the website is addicting to curious minds. The average statehooder will be bored.) The driving force behind the concept is to bring to light new ideas and have them create synergies. For that to happen, information must flow...so not sharing information defeats the whole purpose of TEDx.

Let Me point out something else: to be able to attend TEDx San Juan, you had to be selected. By who knows who based on who knows what. My feelings about this are best defined by quoting Marx: "I don't want to belong to a club that would have me as a member." What's the idea behind this? (And the Marx quoted was Groucho.)

If the purpose is to "create a better atmosphere/event," then it begs the question: Better for what? And for whose benefit? With no criteria/explanation/definition/reason/plausible excuse offered, then I think the only reason for this little exercise in pedantry is ego: the organizers want to exert a "zero-sum" level of control over an event that is meant to be the total antithesis of that (poor) posture.

More proof? No agenda yet, a "You can't prepare for this until we say you can" gambit.

Now maybe, as friend Kevin has pointed out, the idea is to enhance the event's appeal or manage expectations by using "surprise" as a marketing tool. I give these a 3 on a scale of 1-10 for marketing ideas, with 1 being tossing a dead cat on the salad bar. I don't buy these as good marketing, much less for a TEDx-caliber event. On the other hand, I've also been told that I shouldn't seek conspiracy where incompetence can be the answer.

I know two of the lead organizers of the event; one I have direct negative experiences with and the other I know only through e-mail exchanges. Of the one I know well, this petty power play seems quite in character, the kind of action a low-level bureaucrat would take in office politics. Given his background of several years in government, where his endeavors labeled him as nothing more than a stale cracker in an artisan bread convention, I can see where TEDx is shaping up to be a severe letdown.

(Clarification: The government of Puerto Rico is by no stretch anywhere near being as good or as productive as an artisan bread convention. I was using the analogy so I could write "stale cracker." My blog, My rules.)

So Jenius, if you're so down on the event, why are you going?

Because I could be wrong. I could be wrong that the agenda, when it is finally revealed, will be a flop, a collection of butt-buddies brought in to present a skewed shadow of "Bursting the Bubble" excellence. I could be wrong that the speakers chosen qualified more as "personal networking" for the Speaker Coordinator than as the antithetical proof that We don't need to live with a zero-sum mentality. I could be wrong that TEDx San Juan has a somewhat hand-picked audience solely/primarily in order to establish a power-base for one or more of the organizers. I could be wrong that I shouldn't have been "selected" to go (and buy a $20 ticket) over others I'm aware were told "You aren't worthy." I could be wrong that this event will fail to coalesce its enormous potential and become another in a long line of "what should have beens."

For those of you not deemed worthy and who believe that not sharing basic information is cool, you can tune into the live stream of the event.

And don't bother looking for @GilTheJenius tweets or live-blogging during the event. I'm not going as a reporter, though I can. I'm not going as a social media user, or even as a blogger: I'm going for My sake, to see if My vision of what's possible in Puerto Rico has been discovered by TEDx San Juan.

If their intent was to control the event to manage My expectations, they failed: I have My own. Always have, always will. Bottom line now is that the organizers have to prove to Me that they can live up to Mine.

Good luck.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

02 December 2011

Yocasta Brugal Has Screwed 570 People...And Counting

So the San Juan Bautista Hospital has fired 300 employees as part of the $5.1 million bankruptcy buyout by Menonita Hospital Group.

That's what Brugal MendDacious and her lying liars were hiding: that the bankruptcy deal would leave 300 professionals without a job, many of whom had not been paid in months.

What a piece of work this Yocasta Brugal, huh? Screwed the hell out of 270 students by being so massively incompetent and possibly criminal that the San Juan Bautista School of Medicine lost its accreditation (and got it back only by going to court) and now her """leadership""" has royally screwed 300 employees of the Hospital she claims she "didn't run," but made practically every major decision for.

Let Me ask this, finally: Why the hell is this Brugal thing in that position? What the fuck is going on that a woman so demonstrably and viciously incompetent (see the list below) is nevertheless allowed to continue screwing people?

Here's what's on Brugal MenDacious' resumé, since she took over and squatted at the SJB School and Hospital in 2007:

* BOTH the School and Hospital lost accreditation and regained it only only by outside intervention, i.e., not because she and her lying liars did anything to improve either institution.

* The Hospital went even deeper into debt to the point of tossing it into bankruptcy, with no debt reduction perceived in 4+ years.

* Hundreds of employees were treated no better than slaves by having their paychecks unilaterally curtailed or cut off. And now they're fired.

* And as detailed in My previous post, the SJB had received almost $23 million in federal funding over a 5-year period UNTIL 2007-2008, when--you got it--Brugal MenDacious plopped her incompetent fundament at the helm and suddenly...no more funds.

A summary looks like this:

* The SJB School: Lost accreditation, now on probation.
* The Hospital: Lost accreditation, got it back because the local Health Department intervened directly, no debt reduction causes bankruptcy and a sale for $5.1 million, with 300 employees fired.
* Federal funds: Down from $22.8 million to $78,000. And under investigation for possible commingling of funds.

Okay, I'll ask it again: What the fuck keeps this incompetent lump in her job?

If she were a politician, her record would be "average." Ask The Larva, who tried to buy police votes with lies. As an administrator, her record proves she has the Sadim touch--the opposite of the Midas touch: everything Brugal MenDacious touches turns to shit.

The School? A shitstorm with the loss of accreditation that Brugal MenDacious caused and then hid from the students.

The Hospital? A shit sandwich diet shoved for years down the throats of 300 employees, fired today.

Federal funds? A shitfest that's about to hit the fan.

Again: Why is Brugal Sadim still at the helm of the SJB? Why hasn't the Board of Trustees--also known as the Mon(k)ey Cage--fired her incompetent Sadim ass? How long are the employees and students of the SJB School of Medicine going to sit back and watch the (bull)shit fly into their faces? Are they going to react only when the whole crapload is thrust down their gullets, like the Hospital employees?

And now I can turn My attention to the Menonita Hospital Group, who I considered blameless in a straight-up deal But this is not a straight-up deal. The Menonita Hospital Group (MHG) is no better than a self-righteous pimp exploiting a crack whore and calling that "missionary work." Taking over the Hospital is a good thing: knowingly doing so at the expense of 300 employees is wrong. All the MHG has shown here is that it is willing to descend to Brugal's level in dealing with employees, the mushroom level: keep 'em in the dark and shovel shit on them.

So here's what I want to see:

Brugal MenDacious and her lying liars fired. Now.

The Menonita Hospital Group dragged to court and spending $5.1 million to defend itself...and losing the case.

But first steps first: Fire Brugal MenDacious and her lying liars now. Am I sounding like a broken record? That's only because Brugal MenDacious and her lying liars are the very epitome of a broken--a very broken--record.

The Jenius Has Spoken.