The Real Criminals: Corporate CEOs

It’s not the two-bit petty criminal whose causing the real danger in our lives and neighborhoods, it’s the Corporate criminals. The guys in suits, two steps removed from the people they are inflicting life threatening damage to that are wrecking havoc on our lives and our nation.

Corporate crime is often violent crime with very real victims. Mokhiber points out that while the FBI estimates that 16,000 Americans are murdered every year “56,000 Americans die every year on the job or from occupational diseases such as black lung and asbestosis while tens of thousands of other Americans fall victim to the silent violence of pollution, contaminated foods, hazardous consumer products, and hospital malpractice.” –Gene Racz

Literally thousands of people dying because of purposeful oversight and ignorance by those whose only concern is often the bottom line. And your probably thinking, “It’s a good thing are government is taking care of them,” wondering how many CEOs will come to the same fate as Skilling and Lay (of Enron). And then you find out this tidbit:

The New York Times recently reported that the government has basically stopped prosecuting corporations for crimes despite the fact that costs of corporate crime far outweighs street crime. Eric Lichtblau, writing for the Times, noted that during the last three years, the U.S. Justice Department has put off prosecuting more than 50 corporations on charges ranging from bribery to fraud. Instead, it has been entering into so-called deferred prosecution agreements and non-prosecution agreements, in which companies are allowed to pay fines and hire monitors to watch over them.

Now, this isn’t to say that all CEOs are corrupt, but simply that it’s a terrible statement about our society that those with money are allowed to keep stealing from the rest of us and not be prosecuted for it. Seriously, they are stealing from all of us, not only on the product side of things but also in our tax dollars:

Health-care fraud alone, he said, costs Americans $100 billion to $400 billion a year. The taxpayer bill to clean up the savings and loan fraud was anywhere from $300 billion to $500 billion.

Not only do we need to speak up to our Justice Department about how this is unjust and unfair, but this knowledge should change and challenge the way you talk about and think about criminals. You should either conjure up the same disgust and suspicion of CEO’s as you currently have of street criminals and those you think look like criminals, or you should try and balance your perspective on both to a more understanding, but equally just perspective on both.

ht. Nate

Book Review: Buy Buy Baby, by Susan Gregory Thomas

I read this book, Buy, Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds, by Susan Gregory Thomas, and I would highly highly recommend it, regardless of if your a parent or not.

Not only does the book give you a behind the scenes look at the multi-billion dollar business of marketing to children, but it gives you statistics and awareness that will infuriate you. Here are some examples.

Program Length Commercials. The industry calls them PLCs and they are pretty much all the shows you and I grew up on. I hate to burst your bubble, but I’m going to. Your favorite kids shows and nostalgic heroes, GI Joes, Strawberry Shortcake, Gummi Bears, He-Man, TMNT, Transformers, Smurfs, and on and on, they where/are all commercials. In a brilliant marketing move, advertisers have created half hour long, enticing and engaging commercials, that will make you fall in love with the characters, and, of course, buy all of their licensed products. The kids going to want a GI Joe lunchbox, a Bratz halloween costume, and He-Man underwear. You’ve been had, and your kids will too if you don’t watch out.

Disney wants Your Money. Sure, you might think the Disney princess thing is cute, but it’s also a strategic marketing and branding campaign to hook customers at a young age. If they can hook a kid when they are young that kid (and their parents) will spend over $100,000 over the course of their lifetime on Disney related products.

Baby Einstein Is A Scam. First of all, the whole “Mozart Effect” has no relevance to babies (the study was originally done with a small group of college students, and similar studies on babies show no unique results). Baby Einstein videos, and other merchandise have never been proven to be educational, in fact, the reverse might be true (Baby Einstein makes kids dumb).

There is a bunch more in this book, but I’ll just leave it for you to enjoy when you pick up your own copy. Seriously, read this book.

Heading to PAPA Festival

Next Tuesday the wife and I and a friend or two (oh, and the kiddo) will be heading south to PAPA Festival. We attended two years ago as well, it’s where we met our good friend and awesome house mate Chris (from last year). We are excited about going simply because it is a good chance to be rejuvenated and encouraged, and it’s camping, which we love.
I’m helping organize a little, and we’ll be helping set-up when we get there. Guess now I’m just wondering if anyone else who reads this blog is going?

I’m hoping to maybe do some interviews with people, possibly for future podcast here or at Nick and Josh or something. We’ll see. Keep in eye out for me, I’ll be the guy with the baby (there should be a few of those I hear).

Six Sentences: No, You Stop It!

Here’s another six sentence story, trying to get creative with them. If you haven’t read my previous ones they are The Triumphal Entry and Acceptance and Murder.

“Gimme that!”

“Stop it!”

“No, You stop it!’

“You better stop doing that or I’m gonna tell on you and Momma’s gonna catch you and then she’s gonna be mad and if she whoops you and someone tells on her and she gets in trouble then they’ll take her away just like they did to Rosie’s mom and then they’ll make us go live with aunty or grammy on the other side of town or maybe they’ll make us go live with some family we don’t know like Chris had to but either way they’ll take us away from our school and our friends and we won’t know anyone and we won’t have anyone to talk to except maybe each other, but if you don’t stop it, I’m not going to talk to you when that happens, and then will be all alone.”

“Whatever, you stop it!”


(Further thoughts on the blog) Continue reading Six Sentences: No, You Stop It!

I’ve Still Been Writing

I took a hiatus from the blog last month, featuring old writings from my college years. It seems to have worked well and so I plan on continuing occasionally. I also stopped posting on Saturday and Sunday, allowing for a nice weekend break (though I tend to write those post during the week anyways) and less posting each week. Hopefully it allows you, my faithful readers, to keep up and not get to overwhelmed. Thanks for reading.

I’ve also been working on some other writing projects at the same time. I started my citizen journalist career here, representing North Minneapolis, and had my first story published recently, about the closing of a local coffee shop. I’ve got another one coming up and I’m hoping to continue to do more stories in the future, particularly about things going on in my neighborhood and community. If you live in North Minneapolis and know of something that would make a good news article, send it my way.

I’m gonna start submitting some writings to other magazines and what not down the road here, but I’ll try and stay faithful to maintaining the blog as well. If anyone has an inside connection to a magazine or paper that you think might take some of my writing, please let me know.

Well that’s it for personal updates for the month.

Now might be a good time for you to subscribe if you haven’t:

p.s. I just bought the domain (finally!) and put a site up. Let me know what you think.

photo credit: ★ Wim

Book Review: Hokey Pokey, by Matthew Turner

(I’m putting the P.S.’s at the beginning because they’re important)
P.S. Final thought. I’m thinking about doing some contest to give away some of the nearly new books I have. Would you be interested in something like that?

P.P.S It’s my brother’s birthday. He’s the coolest freaking kid I’ve ever met. Here’s proof.

Now wish him happy birthday by commenting below, or checking out his blog (and subscribing!)

Okay, now to your regularly scheduled post…

hokey pokeyI didn’t actually I decided to finish the book, Hokey Pokey: Curious People Finding What Life Is All about, by Matthew Turner. It was one of the books I recently received as an Ooze Select Blogger, and it was the shortest so I thought I’d pick it up first. I put it down after the first couple chapters, but then just decided to plow through.

I don’t usually like to give negative or critical critiques of other people’s writings, since I recently wrote a book myself and know I’d be bother by a negative review. However, Matthew Turner has written a number of successful books and has been the editor for CCM magazine as well, so I think he’s probably credible enough that my little review won’t bother him, if he even notices.

I didn’t like this book at all, at least the part I read. Not only did the direction it was going seem quite random, but I felt like I couldn’t really understand his points either. I think I would describe the book as being sort of ‘philosophical’ in nature, not really talking about anything specific and practical but just about the way we ‘are.’

The one story I did like, where the title of the book is derived from, is about a substitute teacher he had at his private Christian elementary school, who taught them the hokey pokey, which they head never learned because dancing was from the Devil.

Anyways, I thought I’d get my review out early so that other Bloggers who are writing reviews can feel okay about giving their honest own two cents, and to see if anyone else whose read this book felt the same way as me.

Schools Out For The Summer

Tomorrow is the last day of school in Minneapolis. This is an important date this year because it means all the neighborhood kids will be out of school and hanging out during the day. I’ve gotten to know a handful of kids and a lot of the neighbors since we moved and the weather has gotten warmer, but I think the summer is going to increase our relationships in the community by leaps and bounds.

I’m really excited to get to know more of the kids and families in the neighborhood. Just recently I’ve been helping a couple kids with some bike fixing projects in the area (which got me thinking, it would be cool to have a Red Bike project around here). And summer also means they’ll open the water park just a couple blocks from our house, lot’s of fun there.

At the same time I want to be sure to get to know parents and families, not just kids. That will take a bit more effort on my part, but I don’t think it will be difficult.

I’m really excited for the coming months, the opportunity to really get to know the people and families that make up my community. I’m proud to say that I know nearly everyone on my block, and we’ve barely had a month of warm weather. Knowing names and brief introductions is a far step from really getting to know people, but it’s more relationships on my block then I’ve ever had. I think that’s credit to our neighborhood, friendly, outgoing, and willing to look out for one another.

We love living here.

Photo credit: Todd Baker

Six Sentences: Acceptance and Murder

I found the idea of writing a six sentence story so enjoyable last time (by the way, it was published at the official six sentence site here), that I’ve tried my hand at a few more. I’ll post them on Wednesday’s till I run out.

I’m not sure that I like this one as is, I think it could be written better, but who said it had to be perfect. Let me know if you have a better suggestion for the title as well.


“Oreo!” they had shouted at him, said and intended in a derogatory tone not often associated with a cookie. What they had meant, and it came across quite clear to him in the way they turned down their eyes and snarled their lips as they said the word, was that, though his skin might look similar to theirs, he was most definitely not one of them. This revelation had only become troubling recently – previously he hadn’t even wanted to be one of ‘them’ – but now, he’d slowly become aware that his adopted ‘family’ might say he was “part of the family” regardless of what he looked like, but everything else in their actions spoke otherwise. He was alone, those who looked like him, to whom he felt a connection that resonated in his bones, would not accept him; and his ‘family’, amongst those who raised him, the clothes, the privilege, the power and respect, it was not truly his, it never would be, it was only a charade, a display of charity at best. So he killed a man; in cold blood; as an act of justice, to prove his allegiance. The man had wronged his ‘people’ (though they did not consider him such), and though he thought the act would bring him into the fold, instead he found himself a fugitive, with no place to call home.

Continue reading Six Sentences: Acceptance and Murder

YouTubesday: CarrotMob and Lot’s of Street Art

A creative way to use your purchasing power when you have clear values

(A side thought: The mob spent over $9000, the business promised $1800 toward being more energy efficient, and then to celebrate the mob had a free concert (which cost $1500 for the band and $4000 for the park permit), so does that make the net result of the activity still over-all positive?)

A Cool Muslim Street Artist (next three videos ht. Nate)

I just think these guys are pretty awesomely creative.

Another street artist: