What you can do
Tired of being screwed by heartless corporations and the self-interested fools who guide them? I’ve been reading a lot lately about what can be done to alleviate some of the cultural dominance that big corporations have in today’s world. The bottom line is that people have to educate themselves and start communicating with corporations by other means than just dashing off a check. Here are some individual rights rarely used:

• Next time a telemarketer calls, tell him “do not call” or “put me on the ‘do not call’ list.” If he does it again, his company must pay $500 under federal law (Telephone Consumer Protection Act).

• Send your bank or any other corporation notice that you “opt out” of its system of sharing your private financial information (Financial Services Modernization Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act). Write “do not disclose personally identifiable information with your non-affiliated third-party companies or individuals. Do not disclose my creditworthiness to any affiliate. Do not disclose my transaction and experience information. Do not disclose any info about me in connection with marketing agreements between you and another company.” Then request written confirmation.

• Read all contracts carefully and make sure you have not waived your right to trial (fine print). Cross that part out.

• Stop corporate junk faxes. Visit But you are entitled to $500 to $1,500 in court for unsolicited junk faxes.

• Challenge a company if its does you wrong: Put your gripe in writing to it, a regulator and the media. The company may not change its lame ways, but remember the court of public opinion affects ad dollars, the only thing most of today’s companies really care about.

FCC Watch
As expected, the FCC voted 3-2 to adopt a series of changes proposed by media giants to ease restrictions, allow cross-ownership and more mergers across a spectrum of media. A single company can now own in one city up to three TV stations, eight radio stations, the cable TV system, cable stations and the only daily newspaper. In the following months, you can expect challenges to this ruling (from watchdog groups and big media not yet satiated). Anyone who cares about diversity of opinion should support the best challenges from consumer groups seeking stricter regulations that ultimately benefit the public. As one of the dissenting voters, Democrat Michael Copps, said after the vote, “The more you dig into this order the worse things get.” As I find more worthwhile Internet sites covering the FCC story, I will list them here.

Weekly props
1. Shad fishin’ on the Sac

2. The light wedge night reading glass (Barnes & Noble)

3. Northern State

4. Mosaic Mercantile (Thursday Night Market)

5. Philip Seymour Hoffman in Love Liza