Colorful Is A Compliment

I really enjoyed this quote because it reminded me of a similar term: eccentric. As they say, if you are poor you are crazy but if you are rich you are ‘eccentric.’

“I have now cracked the code. “Colorful” in the New York Times [obituaries] means unbelievably good looking and personable and rich, but socialist.”

God Bless You Dr. Kevorkian, by Kurt Vonnegut

Unethical Portrayal of Homeless Youths

I picked up this edition of the City Pages with high hopes for the cover article. Sadly, the reporter touched on the realities of homelessness in a disturbingly common manner. The first half of the article presented intimate details about the difficult situations, including abuse, rape and living ‘arrangements’ wherein teenagers trade sex for a place to live (a common method abuse perpetrated on this particularly vulnerable community) in a semi-sensational manner.

About midway through, while describing a collection of teenagers who managed (against all odds) to band together, get a roof over their heads and begin forming something akin to a family (read: formerly homeless and basically unsupervised teenagers sharing a house in the wealthy western suburbs), the following comment is made:

“They’re a hodgepodge of exotic sexualities and obsessive fandoms. With the exception of Crystal’s “super gay” girlfriend, the others are open to dating any number of people regardless of sex or gender.”

This is followed with details that enforce the idea that broken kids, with kinky habits, have set up shop in town. Honestly, I found myself wondering why the article wasn’t titled something like: Slumming It Just Got Local, New Options In the Suburbs!

After finishing the article, I felt really bad for the teens portrayed, because the fallout from this journalist’s work will be life-long and extremely damaging.

I also felt angry…enraged, really…at the insensitive and irresponsible nature of the piece. The details highlighted directly benefit pimps, johns and predators. Even worse – they were not necessary, or even pertinent, to the story.

There is an enormous amount of information related to homelessness among the super-wealthy that is never touched upon. There are issues never explored. There are realities that effectively disappear because the media-defined ‘important’ facts only exist at the  intersection of sex, youth and desperation.

Bottom line? Homeless teens need real help and reasonably accessible resources. Journalists like Ms. Du need some eye-opening experiences or sensitivity training – probably both.

The Real Homeless of Wayzata High, City Pages, by Susan Du

Learning by Doing

This is a story about a little robot who plugs into a machine everyday in order to learn loads and loads of facts. Then, one day, he decides to unplug and see the world for himself. From that point froward he confirms the facts and adds on to what he already knew.

It’s fun and perfect for any child who must be dragged away from a computer or a stack of books – or the exact opposite.

“Doug found the subway! He already knew that subway trains ran underneath the entire city. And that kids rode for free. And now he found out that subway trains s-c-r-e-e-e-c-h-e-d their way around corners!”

Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino


Words Overheard – Suit Slavery

I overheard the following comment while walking through the skyway during the lunch time rush.

Two men in expensive-looking suits were standing around, talking, in a particularly busy section of the skyway. As I walked by, one suit said to the other:

“…but he can’t sell him into slavery.”

The comment was made in a tone of voice, and with accompanying gestures, that suggested slavery was the best possible option.

I must admit to being equally curious and horrified. Random bits of overheard conversation being what they are, I wasn’t sure I wanted to know more about the context. On the one hand, he could have been talking about actual slavery, which could result in angry and potentially legal actions on the part of listeners. On the other hand, they could have been using code words for something else; or maybe they were playing a game, trying to see if they could get passers-by to react.

This was exactly like being forced to listen to some jerk loudly describe gross details about some disease on a cell phone while waiting in line to buy groceries – unasked for, unwanted and forever imprinted on the brain.

Which brings into question the wisdom of holding such a conversation in the walkway, during lunch hour, while dressed for work. Is this really something you want a crowd of professionals, who happen to be milling around, foraging for fast-food, to overhear? Is this what you want associated with your professional persona?

It’s something to think about.

Survival Options

Huffington Post on

This is a nice article, but the following stood out:

“Nelson had been a prostitute for 38 years. She started working on the streets of New York City at the age of 14, after her mother committed suicide. When she was 18, she heard that clients were a lot less violent in Hawaii, so she hopped on a plane and moved to Waikiki.”

The reality is simply this – prostitution is one of the very few options available to children, teens and young adults without families supporting them. As things currently stand, there are no reasonably accessible and reliable legal options for basic survival.

That is wrong. That needs to change.


Restaurant In Hawaii Offers Fresh Start For Former Prostitutes, Convicts, Others Who Need A Hand, The Huffington Post, by Carla Herreria

Spotting Bad Management


The following quote suggests that managers who bully subordinates also hire people with the intention of abusing them. It’s a little unnerving to think blatantly (consciously?) predatory behavior is behind some new-hire decisions.

This begs the question – how does a potential employee spot a predatory manager, or an abusive work environment, during the interview process? Are there techniques for identifying and avoiding the problem all together?

Serial Bullying: How Employee Abuse Starts, Ends, and Restarts with New Targets

The most common occurrence coinciding with the onset of abuse is getting a new boss or starting a new job: “A surprising number (19%) are bullied almost immediately on starting their new posts. The recent job change and a change in manager account for 82% of the offered events relating to bullying onset.””

Adult Bullying-A Nasty Piece of Work: Translating a Decade of Research on Non-Sexual Harassment, Psychological Terror, Mobbing, and Emotional Abuse on the Job by Pamela Lutgen-Sandvik

Note: For more information about combating workplace bullying, visit the Workplace Bullying Institute, Beyond Bullying Association, the International Association on Workplace Bullying & Harassment (IAWBH) and the International Conference on Workplace Bullying.


Huffington Post on

This article is one of many thousands (millions?) of examples of stories that begin with poor people, desperate for basic resources, taking offers of work and finding themselves enslaved. I can’t help but think that a livable wage, world wide, would take a huge chunk out of the human trafficking/slavery industry by eliminating the needs that make people vulnerable. It’s not a cure, but it is an absolutely necessary step – both for the reduction of slavery and addressing basic human rights issues worldwide (yes, that includes the United States and other first-world nations).

Human Trafficking Survivors Open Up About Horrors
The Huffington Post | By Eleanor Goldberg

Ground Up Gun Control

I read this sentence and immediately wondered how this form of gun control would work in the United States. It would certainly make gun safety and certification classes more interesting!:

Not until Zanja had filled her cartridge pouch with rounds of ammunition made by her own hands from ingredients she herself had found did she finally learn to load and shoot her pistols.”

Fire Logic (Elemental Logic) by Laurie J. Marks

American Racism European War


Given the current tensions (and the history of tension) in St. Louis, a few quotes about performer, activist and French Resistance fighter Josephine Baker, seemed appropriate.

Also, the following quotes are the reason why these books have been added to my To Read list:

  • Haney, Lynn, Naked at the Feast: The Biography of Josephine Baker (Robson Books: London, 1995).
  • Wood, Ean. The Josephine Baker Story  (Sanctuary Press: United Kingdom, 2000).

“Increasing racial tensions in East St. Louis, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis…Black homes were destroyed, and white mobs attacked and killed black people while the police watched and did nothing. Some blacks tried to fight back, but most of them—about 1,500 in total—fled to St. Louis. Josephine stood by the foot of the bridge, watching them come. She would never forget their panicked and terrified expressions as they rushed desperately across the bridge away from the violent racism that had chased them out.”

Because Josephine seemed to embody everything that was beautiful about African Americans, she was an absolute fascination to Parisians. She was the most photographed woman of 1926 and became a symbol of the decade.

“Before the Germans invaded Paris, Joseph Goebbels had denounced Josephine as a decadent artist. After the invasion, the Germans passed a law that expressly forbade the performance of black or Jewish entertainers. However, none of this mattered to Josephine.

It was in North Africa that Josephine was reminded of the racism that was still rampant in the United States. Before her shows began, she noticed that the white soldiers were always seated in the front and the black soldiers in the back. She refused to perform until the seating was desegregated. It usually was.

She was wearing the FFL uniform when she spoke at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963, just before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his stirring “I Have a Dream” speech.”

Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue (Women of Action) by Kathryn J. Atwood

The Perfect Wisconsin Gift

Having grown up in Wisconsin, I find many of the descriptions in this book to be somewhat nostalgic. While the people described are primarily transplants or visitors from Illinois, the following quote made me stop and laugh. Of all the things I have seen and read (over decades of time), this is one of the most perfect descriptions of the kinds of things people in Wisconsin will do (as well as the reasons behind the actions):

To celebrate the cabin’s completion and the bond of their friendship, Ted presented Erle and Clara with an eight-point buck to hang over the rustic oak mantle as a housewarming gift.”

Return to Wake Robin: One Cabin in the Heyday of Northwoods Resorts by Marnie O. Mamminga