Category Archives: reflections & rants

enough already!

Last night, I turned off NPR in a state of complete disgust. It wasn’t just the ongoing hellish pledge drive that drives me away from NPR for months at a time. (I _want_ to give to NPR, but the pledge drives tend to make me turn my back on NPR instead.) No, it was the framing of the election results. It was the way the story has been and continues to be framed. And it wasn’t just NPR, but Fox News, CNN, and NYTimes have all made me blazingly angry this week. And it wasn’t just about winners or losers, but about how the story is framed dramatically to get people to tune in.

I was really excited about this election. A variety of factors in my life motivated me to get really engaged, to research candidates, to persuade other people into engaging. I started reading and watching MSM again rather than waiting for it to be filtered through Stewart/Colbert or the blogosphere. But in doing so, I watched an ugly pattern emerge. The moment that one candidate was seen as pulling ahead, MSM started dredging up crap on them… or creating stories from nothing. My favorite story was the one the NYTimes wrote on how they couldn’t find anyone to prove for certain that Obama did drugs. They published this the night before Virginia/Maryland/DC. The last two weeks, the NYTimes has done some of the worst reporting possible. The whole McCain story made me really sympathize with him personally (even though, politically, he scares the shit out of me). And then this week, they started reporting on how people are saying Clinton should step down if Obama wins in Texas and Ohio. Both of these articles seemed set up to do one thing: keep the election cycle going by amplifying the competition by any means necessary, but primarily by making the front-runner look dreadful.

I’m disgusted. In the back of my mind, I’ve always known that MSM is all about creating drama to sell more papers. As an infrastructure, MSM are not really partisan (although individuals are)… it’s that the infrastructure of MSM feeds off of people being engaged. And there’s nothing more emotionally engaging (and exhausting) than conflict and fear mongering. The MSM doesn’t create an accurate picture of what’s going on because the Corporation behind the MSM doesn’t feel a responsibility to, even if individual reporters are well-intentioned. Journalists, by and large, are extremely well-intentioned but they’re caught up in a system. They are pressured to write stories that create conflict and while senior folks can step back and take a higher stance, they can’t become senior if they don’t meet the needs of the Corporation for a while. Uphold hegemony and then maybe you get some wiggle room… but by then, you are the institution. Besides, even if you want to speak truth to power, good luck – your article is not likely to sell well or be widely read.

Many journalists are idealists. But they aren’t independent and what’s “newsworthy” is inevitably what’s dramatic. Whatever stance they take on those dramatic incidents, their small part of the pie feeds into a much larger structure whose incentives are to keep the wheels turning.

I’ve been avoiding reporters a lot lately. They always tell me that I should talk to them “to tell the other side.” But we both know that’s not what really happens. They use me to tell the story that they need to tell but they have to at least give nods to “the other side” for appearances. There’s no story in reality. Reality is boring. It’s not made for 24/7 news. Fear sells. Conflict sells. Making someone else’s life miserable sells. Reality doesn’t. The incentives are all screwed up and it’s just downright disgusting.

People always ask me what it will take to get teens to listen to news. Why should they? What do they gain by being sent on an information roller-coaster for the news industry to turn a buck? Does consuming news really make you more informed or ready to engage? Have you watched MSM on TV lately?

The more I try to engage, the more my passion and desire to make change is destroyed. Years ago, after a different egregious move by the NYTimes, I cancelled my subscription. I can’t cancel it again, but I would if I could. More than anything, what I’m realizing is that I need to check out of the news again. It doesn’t make me more well-informed; it simply makes me more angry and depressed. It’s good timing… one less thing I can do while procrastinating writing.

As for the election, I’ve become pretty apathetic once again. At this point, I don’t care. No matter what, I don’t think that it will be fair or representative or in the best interests of the people. Everyone likes to complain about how the candidates don’t give real opinions, but we all know the reason why they don’t: the media would destroy them. Paying attention to their efforts to dance cautiously with the media gets me nowhere. There’s no way to know the candidates, no way to actually get a sense of how they will navigate the nasty waters of the media, industry lobbyists, political pressures, and really complicated decisions. It’s all guess work so all we do is vote on charisma and guesswork about who will handle which parts of the puzzle best. I still believe in Obama, but I’ve lost faith in the system. All I know is that come November, I will vote against the Republican party. McCain is only one small fraction of that party and actually the least of my concerns. I want that whole corrupting, demeaning, destructive party out of control now. I wish I could say that I would be voting for the Democrats, but I’m not sure that’s true. I just don’t think that they’ll screw it up as badly. And the fact that at the end of the day I resort to that logic is depressing.

I wish I could find the energy to care, but I’ve completely lost it once again. I really had hope. I was so excited to see so many people energized and believing that they could make change by engaging. I was really excited to see conversations occur that were not previously occurring. But things have gone stale and at the end of the day, I realize that the media and other powerful people are once again controlling the election. And it’s hard to sustain hope when that’s what plays out.

In the meantime, I wonder if it’s possible to change the incentive structure around MSM? (And no, I don’t think that bloggers are the answer.)

the absurdities of Davos

When I went to Cannes last year, I thought nothing could be more absurd. I was wrong; Davos is much much much more absurd.

Much to my shock, I was invited to speak at the World Economic Forum this year, all because of a talk that I gave at AAAS. Even though I was on travel ban, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go. Given how many folks have asked me about it, I also figured I should do a trip report. This is that. In very brief high-level form.


Getting to Zurich was surprisingly easy, thanks to a direct flight from LAX. From Zurich, I hopped a bus with a bunch of other attendees. Imagine SF-Tahoe, complete with the traffic jams and snow piles everywhere as you go up into the mountains… only the bus is full of brilliant people that you admire deeply.

When I got to my hotel, I was a bit surprised to find that my $350+/night hotel room was crappier than the $39.99 ones that I mastered in rural America. There wasn’t even working internet and the lobby smelled foul. Le sigh. That’s what I get for going for the “cheap” option. The funny thing that I learned as the week went by is that many of the hotels are shite. There was something utterly absurd about realizing that the world’s leaders pay obscene prices to stay in crappy hotels (except for those lucky enough to have connections to get an apartment in town or those unfortunate enough to have to get a place outside of town and commute in because the crappy hotels are filled).

Security is omg overwhelming and everpresent. There are police officers at every door, street corner, and lining every hotel. Probably 1 police to every 2 people. Metal detectors and bag scanners are everywhere (along with coat checks and badge scanners). Not all of the events take place in the same building so every 2-3 hours, you end up going through a new set of security/coat check, making regular trips to the airport seem like cake. Oddly, by the second day, it just seems normal.


There are different kinds of sessions: big lecture sessions, workshops, breakfast/lunch/dinner discussions, and private events. Most sessions have a cap so you have to wake up at 7.30AM to sign up for sessions for the next day using kiosks that are everywhere (in hotels, in the lobby). You can print out your schedule on the kiosks too.

The big lectures are rather boring, but this is where many of the big politicians speak. I only went to a few of these after I realized that they were boring and that politicians couldn’t afford to say anything that they wouldn’t say on TV. Seeing Condoleezza Rice speak was dreadfully painful – I hadn’t think it was possible for my opinion of her to sink any lower. She spent the entire lecture telling Davos about why America was stable and on the right path. I walked out. The best lecture that I attended was a discussion between Al Gore and Bono about their respective activist projects – finding commonalities and connections between global warming and poverty. Twas neat. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was also pretty rad. There was also a panel featuring six youth from around the world which was super great to see, especially since these kids are at the absolute opposite end of the spectrum to the teens I normally interact with. These young folks were full-blown activists, entrepreneurs, and philosophers. Intense!

Workshops are the bomb. They are topically oriented and everyone works in small groups solve a problem. I attended two of these – one on technology and development and one on status. At the tech & development one, we were to imagine how to address the problems of a fictional village (called Tupointo… 2.0). We were split into groups – villagers, government, NGOs, funders, and tech companies. Not surprisingly, I was assigned to be a villager. After working out our needs as villagers, we all compared our goals and then had to split up with reps from other groups to negotiate. Our villager group rocked, but when we had to compromise, I nearly killed one of the guys from the tech sector for not understanding villagers. Turns out he’s a pretty powerful tech guy in RL… oops.

The second workshop on status was structured as a game where we were given gems that we had to trade to work our way up the status latter. It quickly became clear that some were born wealthier than others. I was a member of the poverty class. Realizing we would never win by getting money and realizing that whenever a member of our group did well, they were shipped off to another group, our group decided to aim for bottom, maximize happiness and conversation, and laugh at the other groups going crazy. The wealthier classes were much more invested in succeeding and one of the members from the upper-middle class nearly went ballistic over how the game was rigged and she wasn’t able to win. Gotta love a room full of Type A personalities. Anyhow, this provoked a fun conversation and my table got to talking about the status structures of badges (not unlike those at tech companies where there are permanents and contractors and temps and whatnot).

I attended two dinners and one lunch (in addition to the dinner that I helped moderate). These sessions are structured around tables where a moderator leads a discussion and then, at dessert time, everything switches to more lecture-style. Both these and the workshops are really great to get to know folks who are also interested in the topic, even if that’s not what they actually do. At the one on technology and education, I sat at Negroponte’s table. At one on spreadable chronic diseases, I sat with a guy from Kaiser Permanente. At the cultural leaders dinner, I sat with Yo-Yo Ma and Homi Bhabha. Each sessions proved to be utterly fascinating and a great opportunity to get to see issues from a different perspective. I was completely blown away by some of the amazing people at these sessions, both at my table and those moderating other tables. At the cultural leaders dinner, Emma Thompson showed a new short movie on sex trafficking which really blew me away. (Her PSA called I Am Elana is also mind-opening.)

Of the private events I went to, the best was a small discussion with Yo-Yo Ma where he talked about how successful people have fears and how challenging it is to be so successful so young. This was for the Young Global Leaders and so it turned into a fantastic discussion about issues related to being young and successful. I’ve decided that Yo-Yo Ma is a god – he is extremely playful and equally present and engaged. I found talking to him to be soul-enhancing.

On top of these structured events, there were also all sorts of different kinds of schmooze receptions and parties. I found that I was dreadful at these. I’m not so good about wandering around schmoozing people, although it was astonishing to watch some people who were tremendously good at it. I did OK at the parties where I knew folks (and there were a decent number of tech folks there), but otherwise… eventually I decided that I would be better off focusing on the small things involving intimate interactions with new people or friends of friends. I got to attend two non-structured dinners which were really great for getting to know new people and diving deep. Because Davos is cold and slippery, there are all of these shuttle buses that go everywhere. I found that I had many fun conversations sitting in those shuttle buses. This was much more up my style than the schmooze affairs so I decided to do some extra rounds on the buses a couple of nights.

At Davos, I was not a VIP by any stretch of one’s imagination. In fact, I was pretty close to the bottom of the attendee pecking order. It was pretty entertaining to see how people’s eyes would gaze over when they looked at my tag – politicians and heads of very important companies are significant; researchers.. not so much. Those who did want to engage me on my work usually wanted to get advice about their kids; I did a lot of parent therapy at Davos which was fine by me. But it really was weird to watch the hierarchies operate there. All the same, folks were relatively down-to-earth.

Another thing about Davos was that it became painfully clear that most business people are unaware of their role in the system. The conversations of the conference were heavily focused on environmentalism, inequality, terrorism, and doing good to solve the world’s problems. What I found was that many powerful people desperately want to help solve these problems but they seem unaware of their role in perpetuating some of the ills. It was weird… I couldn’t tell if such folks were clueless or delusional. I still need to chew on this a bit more. But it was fascinating to see that most businesspeople at Davos genuinely believed that they could help the world.

Many people at Davos wanted to know who I was going to vote for – our election is extremely interesting to non-US folks and I was completely shocked to find that most non-US business people that I met at Davos strongly preferred Barack to Hillary. I wasn’t expecting that. As for the U.S. Republicans… they too preferred Barack if they had to choose a Dem. Even though we weren’t in the U.S., the U.S. was overly present there. Our economy, our elections, our politics… all of these were front and central from the global audience. Very strange.

All and all, I got little sleep but had a fantastic time meeting interesting people and talking about ideas and watching how some of the most powerful people in the world network. It really was just downright absurd and I still can’t get it through my head that they allowed me in. ::laugh:: Now I must process what to do with what I learned there.

giving back

As those who have followed this blog for a long time know, December is the month where I contribute 10% of my salary to worthwhile charities and encourage you to do the same. This is my modification of the traditional tithing practice, but I prefer to give to the charities of my choice instead of to the church. This year, I chose to give to a wide variety of organizations based on advice from my friends, but I would like to highlight a few that mean something to me personally in case you’re looking for a good cause to support. My personal emphasis this year is on women’s issues and education.

V-Day. Most known for their productions of The Vagina Monologues, V-Day works to end violence against women and girls worldwide, addressing issues like rape, domestic abuse, female genital mutilation, and rape as a systematic tactic of war. This is V-Day’s 10th anniversary and I’ve had the honor of volunteering and working for V-Day since 1998. I’ve always been super proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.
Planned Parenthood. Much to my horror, 2007 has involved numerous judicial and legislative setbacks to women’s rights, particularly around their right to choose. The upholding of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act doesn’t even allow women to choose an abortion if they’ve been raped or are likely to die if they carry the baby to term. Aside from the amazing work that they do on the ground, helping young women get sex ed information (in a culture of abstinence education), PP also is one of the few lobbying organizations that has the power to push back at both federal and local levels. We’re going to desperately need them in the upcoming years, regardless of who is elected.
Wikimedia Foundation. As the foundation behind Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation helps make information broadly accessible to the public. My favorite aspect of Wikipedia is that it is completely transparent. You can learn who created what information, understand their biases, and challenge what content they produce. For me, this project is essential to the future of education; it is the cornerstone of media literacy. We need to help educate people to think critically about how content is produced, regardless of medium. In the meantime, we have to help Wikipedia grow.
Goma Student Fund. Started by one of my friends, Goma Student Fund is dedicated to providing quality education to children who are growing up in wartorn Congo. Personally, I think that education is the path to stopping war and I think that it is dangerous to not educate children who are growing up in wartorn environments. I love this modest but doable project as a result.
Central Asia Institute. A slightly bigger project, the Central Asia Institute focuses on community based education for girls throughout Central Asia (think Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other areas ripe for education-based corruption). This is the project that is documented in Three Cups of Tea.

In addition to these great women’s rights and education organizations, don’t forget EFF, Creative Commons, and ACLU – three worthy groups trying to project our freedoms online and off.

Finally, if you are like me, you detest receiving snail mail from organizations after you’ve donated. For this reason, I’m a big fan of donating anonymously through Network for Good – it’s a good way to make certain you never receive mail of any kind while still giving you the tax credit.

hiking in LA (and The Golden Compass)

Having not left the house or gotten out of my PJs all week (except for one short scavenging of food a few blocks away), G decided that I needed a change of scenery before embarking on another week of head-down data analysis. After breakfast on the beach, we went up to Topanga for a nice hike. One of my favorite things about LA is that there is so much hiking really close by. At the same time, I kinda suspect that I don’t know all of the good spots. What are other good trails in LA and the neighboring counties?

Oh, and post-hike, we decided to go see The Golden Compass which was surprisingly good. (I was terrified of the potential for a dreadful adaptation.) I wanted to make sure that I saw it opening weekend since the Catholic church is urging people to boycott it. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Pullman’s Dark Materials series. I love the fact that the protagonist is a young girl and I love that the whole series questions the relationship between science in religion (which is, of course, the reason that the Catholic church hates it). Having grown up on loads of super-Christian texts (Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Wrinkle In Time, etc.), I’m stoked to see young reader’s texts that have a more critical view of religion.

vacation was glorious

I’m baaaaack. OMG, it was sooo lovely to relax on the beach with friends. Fiction was read (i *really* loved The Glass Castle), Mayan ruins were visited, fishies were viewed through snorkel gear, food was eaten, and there was a lot of hammocking. Glorious glorious be vacation. And now I’m 30 (and 😛 to all of you who pointed out that this means I entered my 31st year).

More photos can be found here and here.

We ended up staying at a little house north of Tulum called Casa Rosa. Aside from the decorator’s obsession with Pier 1, it was the most glorious place ever. If anyone wants a getaway with a group of friends, I strongly strongly recommend staying at Casa Rosa. I’m sooo going back. Yay for perfect affordable getaway house on the beach.

I strongly recommend against AeroMexico. One of my friends who was supposed to go on the adventure showed up at the airport to find that they had oversold her flight and they didn’t promise they’d get her there for the holiday weekend. They wouldn’t even check her in. No voluntary giving up of seats – they simply denied her access. Bad AeroMexico – that’s totally unacceptable. I will never fly with them as a result. It was complete bullshit and she ended up not being able to get to the vacation at all. Bleh.

The Tulum ruins were pretty, but I really got a kick out of the Chichen Itza ballcourt, although I still don’t understand the game that the Mayans were playing. And was it the winners who were sacrificed or the losers?

a burfday on da beach

The time has come where I must say goodbye to my 20s. To celebrate the beginning of my 30th year on this earth, I’ve decided to run away with a few friends and ponder the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. I’m headed to Tulum to play on the beach and wander through the ruins of ancient Mayan civilizations. More importantly, I’m about to embark on 10 days without Internet or email or phone contact. See you in December!

(Pic by zanzibar)

who has a cute new car? me!!!

::giggle:: Guess who came home from the car dealer with a new gadget? A big one with monthly installments and lots of legal paperwork? ::bounce:: Isn’t he cute??

Thanks to everyone for your input! You really helped me with my research process and I super appreciate it. I decided to go with a Scion xD because it was the right combination of small, cheap, quirky, practical, and dependable. I feel a little guilty because it’s painfully clear that Scion is targeted directly at people like me and I hate ending up fitting into a stereotype, but, well… it is nice to have an iPod jack built in standard and have a design aesthetic meant for hipster 20-30somethings. Plus, I have to admit that I loved the non-sleazyness of the Santa Monica Scion/Toyota people who knew how to handle young people who didn’t want to be dicked around. I really am a sucker for non-corporate corporateness.

Now, it’s just time to name him. (Somehow, in my world, cars always get boy pronouns… kinda like dogs=male and cats=female.) My first car was an old Saab 900 named Cody after the Kerouac character who was always going somewhere but no one could ever figure out where. My second car, a Hyundai Elantra, was originally Cody Jr. but then got nicknamed Pierre on a roadtrip after it was clear that his horn was awfully nasal-y and French. We also decided that Pierre was gay because he was always getting attacked by mean people who didn’t seem to understand him (for example, thieves broke into his trunk one night and took a Cribbage game that was housed in a CD-like case). OK… I’m going to stop there because it’s probably clear that I’m feeling a little loopy and some might find my personification of my cars a little strange…

my long lost handwriting

I tried to write a letter this week. As in I tried to pick up a pen and form letters through odd wrist motions rather than click-clicking my expression. I wasn’t even going for cursive, but I was going for legibility so I tried to form the letters carefully. My first attempt failed so I grabbed a new piece of paper and tried again. After the second sentence, my wrists hurt and my garbled sentence was barely readable and I wanted to go back and delete one of the words. I gave up. I wrote an email.

At breakfast this morning, I was reading about the costs of teachers’ failure to teach penmanship to children. Failure to write often results in reduced math and literacy skills, yet teachers are spending fewer and fewer hours per week teaching penmanship.

I can’t help but wonder about this. I did learn how to write and, given the number of diaries I found last week, I wrote plenty… until college. I learned to type in high school and by college, I went completely digital for everything except problem sets. My college diaries were digital and my assignments were typed and printed out. I can’t remember the last time that I wrote a letter by hand. The only thing that I know how to do with a pen these days is underline sentences in books, add 20% tips to credit card receipts, and scrawl my illegible signature. Once in a while, I write a few words on a stick-it and post it to my fridge as a reminder of something. But seriously, I don’t write.

My handwriting skills have decayed. My ability to communicate without editing has decayed. My patience for creating text at a rate slower than I think has decayed. Typing is fast, handwriting is slow. So is handwriting all that important? Maybe the key is to learn to write while learning to read and then happily forget how to write? Or maybe my brain has turned to all sorts of mush without me even knowing it…

(On a related note, I wonder if Brown still makes students handwrite their college applications? Boy was that a bitch. Then again, I always wondered how many students had their parents do it…)

shopping, shopping

I’m back in LA. No more traveling, no more conferences. It is now time to sit down and write that dissertation. Of course, that requires getting the ducks lined up. I did 6 months worth of bills yesterday. Today, i started doing some comparison shopping. What I’m realizing is that I’m a bad shopper. I hate choice and I hate making decisions. It’s bad enough with clothes (which I don’t buy) and it’s much worse with gadgets.

My Sidekick is dying. Do I get the new Sidekick or do I switch to a Helio Ocean? Or ?? All I want is a damn good keyboard with a fantabulous interface for AIM and a relatively cheap plan that is data friendly. (Pah to the iPhone.)

I need a new car. Do I go for cute and get a Mini, go for the environment and get a Prius, go for practical and get a Hyundai Accent, Toyota Yaris, or Scion? Or is there something else that I should get if I want: small, fuel efficient, relatively cheap, and sunroof?

How on earth do people make these decisions? I started websurfing and it was like entering an infinite loop of information with opinions in every which direction. I went to the car lots and stores and it was just overwhelming because I don’t like when people try to sell stuff to me (tis why I walk out of most clothing stores). How do people make decisions about what to buy? Oh right… friends. Shit. So, yo opinionated/knowledgeable friends: What car should I get? What phone should I get? Help me consume so that I can hibernate in LA and write. Tehehe.

read those contracts!

Much to my chagrin, most people do not seem to read the contracts that they sign. More horrifyingly, I’m watching as corporate lawyers increasingly introduce clauses that are manipulative at best, legal gag orders more often. I realize that most people don’t read click-through agreements, but I would strongly encourage everyone to at least read employment contracts and NDAs, even the ones that look like click-throughs when you show up at a company to visit a friend for lunch.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to be an advisor to a project at a company that I will not name. The company is a large, public, profitable company with hundreds (maybe thousands) of employees, many assets, and way too many lawyers. The project sounded quite interesting so I read the contract. I would be obliged to attend regular meetings (?at my own expense – it wasn’t clear?). There would be no cash or stock compensation. Yet, the kicker was this clause:

“In order to protect Company’s Proprietary Information, Board Member agrees that Board Member shall not, while serving as a Board Member, perform any consulting or other services substantially similar to the Services for any company whose business or proposed business in any way involves products or services which could reasonably be determined to be competitive with the products or services or proposed products or services of Company. In the event Board Member has any question about whether a particular project would violate this provision, before undertaking the project Board Member shall seek a determination in writing from Company, which shall be binding.”

In other words, they want me to work for free and agree to not consult for or advise any other company that is any way competitive with them in any aspect of their business. Given this company’s assets, that would basically mean that I could not consult with any company whatsoever. You have got to be kidding me.

So, I wrote them a polite note asking for clarification on this clause. Perhaps they just meant that they didn’t want me to do work in any way that would conflict with just that specific project? They told me that I should seek private legal counsel to analyze the contract because they cannot give legal advice. So now they want me to pay a lawyer to interpret a contract so that I can work for free as an advisor while not being able to work for anyone else in the industry? Needless to say, I said no thank you.

My other favorite contract moment came when I was on a panel with Cory (the master of contract rebuttal). The contract was insidious. Amongst many other problems with that contract, they claimed rights over any IP that I would introduce during my talk and made us legally and financially liable for all sorts of things. Needless to say, Cory and I both refused to do the event until they amended the contract. Their response was that no speaker had ever refused that contract before. ::jaw on floor::

We have become an immensely litigious society. As a result, lawyers shove contracts down our throats left right and center. Most people are not trained to interpret these so they are expected to hire lawyers to do so. (Not so bad for the legal profession, eh?) This really upsets me. Are there ways that average people can learn to interpret contracts and push back at them? I’ve gotten better at it after having read so many of them, but I don’t think most people know. I also think it’s important that people learn to reject contracts. I reject most NDAs. I won’t sign them because they are usually so broad that they put me at risk in every direction. I can’t imagine journalists sign them, do they?

I vote that there should be a “stupid contracts” equivalent of Chilling Effects because I think that these contracts are also chilling participation of all sorts.

In the meantime, I’d like to encourage everyone to read those nasty contracts. And stand up for your rights. Don’t just sign them. And don’t just assume that they won’t actually enforce them. That’s not a good standard to set. This is particularly critical for academics and others who subsist on freelance work and the intellectual output they produce. And if you’re a company, think about the nasty contracts you’re imposing on people. Does your legal team need to be that psycho? My hope is that if people start reading and refusing, companies will rethink their policies. But it all starts with reading the damn thing.