Coming Out of Left Field

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Tsunami relief

Below is an e-mail I just got from MoveOn.org. I just donated and sent a message to Bush. If you can, please do what you can to help the relief efforts, either by giving to Oxfam or to one of the other groups my friends JP and Psychovant have listed on their blogs.

~ e-mail text ~

Dear MoveOn member,
The tsunami in southern Asia and Africa may be the worst natural disaster of our time. More than 116,000 lives were wiped out within hours. The toll in death and suffering from smashed cities, broken families, rampant disease, and crippled economies cannot even be calculated. In the face of this horror, MoveOn members have poured in requests to help, asking how we can push through our sadness and lend a hand.

Rising to this challenge is at the heart of global leadership, and the world is depending on us. The U.S. government can lead billions of dollars of aid into this relief effort, if it chooses. Americans are generous and ready to step forward, but the U.S. Congress and the Bush administration have made a weak initial contribution to the effort -- first offering $15 million and then $35 million when they came under pressure. Clearly, we can do more.

Let Congress and the President know that Americans are supporting strong leadership in this relief effort -- that millions of lives are at stake and we have to help. In this hour of need, if America chooses to embrace our role as a world leader, we can have an unparalleled impact. Send a message to our leaders at:

http://www.moveon.org/tsunamirelief/

But we can't just wait for this Congress to move. We can help directly, as individuals, and save lives today. Our friends at Oxfam are already scrambling on the front lines to fight off starvation and disease -- and beginning to rebuild. Because Oxfam has worked for years with grassroots groups in the hardest hit areas, they were able to mobilize local leadership to help survivors immediately after the tsunami hit. And Oxfam will be there for the long-term, helping communities recover and regain their ability to meet basic needs. Oxfam needs to raise $5 million immediately to provide safe water, sanitation, food, shelter, and clothing to 36,000 families in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India. Your contribution can make this possible.

Please give what you can, at:

http://www.moveon.org/r?r=631

Of course, Oxfam is only one of dozens of great organizations, like UNICEF, CARE, and the Red Cross/Red Crescent, rushing to help with the immediate need. Their efforts give the victims a head start, but it won't be enough unless the great nations of the world step forward in a big way for the long-term challenges.

Indonesia, by far the hardest hit country, is also the world's largest Muslim nation. Their estimated death toll stands at 85,000 -- in some areas, 1 out of 4 people have already been killed. Now it's time for America to show its true colors. We want to be known as a nation that leads the world with compassion, generosity, and community -- not with disastrous foreign military adventures. We are a nation that values human life, family, and extending freedom and opportunity to where it is most needed. We must now reach out in a serious way to do just that.

The $35 million offered by the Bush administration seems like a lot of money, but it's insignificant compared to what's needed in a disaster relief effort than spans continents and is expected to be the most expensive in history. To put it in perspective, we're spending $35 million in Iraq every 7 hours. (The Bush administration is about to ask for another $80 billion to cover the next installment of this tragic occupation.)1

We can and will do better. Thanks for doing your part to show the true generosity of the American spirit.

Sincerely,

--Adam, Ben, Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Justin, Laura, Mari, Noah, Rosalyn, and Wes
The MoveOn.org Team
December 30th, 2004

P.S. Just as we were finalizing this email, we received a note from 17-year-old MoveOn member Annalise Blum, who has a great idea for New Year's Eve parties. Here's her email:


Dear Joan and Wes,
We arrived in Cambodia today and turned on the TV in our hotel room to learn more about the Tsunami. It has been horrifying to follow the rising death toll and especially learn about all of the children who have died. I really wanted to do something when I learned that just as many more people could die from lack of access to clean water and the spread of disease if not enough is done quickly.

I realized that New Years Eve Parties would be a perfect place to have people contribute online to the relief effort. Someone in our group came up with the name "Throw out a lifeline Online."

If MoveOn were to send out a message to its members suggesting that they turn on a computer and donate money to one of the relief organizations at their new years eves parties, it could save thousands of lives. Maybe this sort of message would be a welcome opportunity for its members to help people directly. I would greatly appreciate anything you could do to help.

Below I have written a message I am planning send to my friends. MoveOn, if interested, could send out something similar.

Throw Out A Lifeline Online
Help the Victims of the South Asian Tsunami

As most of you undoubtedly know, many parts of the eastern coastal regions of South Asia were hit on Sunday, December 26th, with one of the largest tsunamis in recent history. The death toll of the tsunami, caused by an earthquake of 9.0 magnitude, has already risen to over 60,000 people. All regions affected are in desperate need of clean water, food, temporary shelter and medical help to the survivors. Some estimate that one third of the dead are children.

World Health Organization expert David Nabarro told reporters "there is certainly a chance that we could have as many dying from communicable diseases as from the tsunami".

Start this year off by contributing money to an effective aid organization to prevent this humanitarian catastrophe from getting even worse. If you are going to a New Year's Eve Party, make it meaningful by turning on a computer and encouraging everyone to donate.

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Monday, December 27, 2004

Presidential proposals

Wonder what Bush is planning to do next term? Dan Greenburg ("Shouts and Murmurs, New Yorker) has a few inklings of what the president has in store for the nation. Funny and scary, like so much other Shrub-related humor.

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Literary leaning

Don't know if this is entirely true (though I feel besieged, all right). In any case, I'm tremendously flattered, particularly since LOTR ranks among my all-time favorite reads:

Lord of the rings
J.R.R. Tolkien: Lord of the Rings. You are
entertaining and imaginative, creating whole
new worlds around yourself. Well loved, you
have a whole league of imitators, none of which
is quite as profound as you are. Stories and
songs give a spark of joy in the middle of your
eternal battle with the forces of evil.


Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

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Monday, December 20, 2004

Xmas computer carol

From Easily Addictive:

The 12 Bugs of Christmas - A Software Developers' Version

1. For the first bug of Christmas, my manager said to me:
See if they can do it again.

2. For the second bug of Christmas, my manager said to me:
Ask them how they did it and
See if they can do it again.

3. For the third bug of Christmas, my manager said to me:
Try to reproduce it
Ask them how they did it and
See if they can do it again.

4. For the fourth bug of Christmas, my manager said to me:
Run with the debugger
Try to reproduce it
Ask them how they did it and
See if they can do it again.

5. For the fifth bug of Christmas, my manager said to me:
Ask for a dump
Run with the debugger
Try to reproduce it
Ask them how they did it and
See if they can do it again.

6. For the sixth bug of Christmas, my manager said to me:
Reinstall the software
Ask for a dump
Run with the debugger
Try to reproduce it
Ask them how they did it and
See if they can do it again.

7. For the seventh bug of Christmas, my manager said to me:
Say they need an upgrade
Reinstall the software
Ask for a dump
Run with the debugger
Try to reproduce it
Ask them how they did it and
See if they can do it again.

8. For the eighth bug of Christmas, my manager said to me:
Find a way around it
Say they need an upgrade
Reinstall the software
Ask for a dump
Run with the debugger
Try to reproduce it
Ask them how they did it and
See if they can do it again.

9. For the ninth bug of Christmas, my manager said to me:
Blame it on the hardware
Find a way around it
Say they need an upgrade
Reinstall the software
Ask for a dump
Run with the debugger
Try to reproduce it
Ask them how they did it and
See if they can do it again.

10. For the tenth bug of Christmas, my manager said to me:
Change the documentation
Blame it on the hardware
Find a way around it
Say they need an upgrade
Reinstall the software
Ask for a dump
Run with the debugger
Try to reproduce it
Ask them how they did it and
See if they can do it again.

11. For the eleventh bug of Christmas, my manager said to me:
Say it's not supported
Change the documentation
Blame it on the hardware
Find a way around it
Say they need an upgrade
Reinstall the software
Ask for a dump
Run with the debugger
Try to reproduce it
Ask them how they did it and
See if they can do it again.

12. For the twelfth bug of Christmas, my manager said to me:
Tell them it's a feature
Say it's not supported
Change the documentation
Blame it on the hardware
Find a way around it
Say they need an upgrade
Reinstall the software
Ask for a dump
Run with the debugger
Try to reproduce it
Ask them how they did it and
See if they can do it again.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Festive fun

Celebrated the last night of Hanukkah yesterday with the in-laws. Dinner was good -- lamb, salad, two kinds of potato latkes, applesauce, challah, and rugelach with some vanilla ice cream on the side. The most exciting moment came near the end of the meal, when the electricity went out, leaving the house (and the rest of the block) in darkness. Thanks to a combination of candles, flashlights and laptop screens, we were able to continue clearing dishes and setting out dessert. Guess you could say it was a real festival of lights. :)

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Monday, December 13, 2004

Football at Foxboro

Caught my first Patriots game (and first pro football game ever) yesterday. Apart from not dressing warmly enough -- I had to plunk down $4.00 for a hot chocolate, so I could survive the fourth quarter -- it was a fun time. The game was closer than a lot of people expected. For whatever reason, the Patriots defense had problems wrapping up tackles, but did come up with some big plays, and the Bengals helped out by committing three turnovers and nine penalties.

Favorite and funniest play of the game: in the third quarter, Tom Brady dropped back to pass, tripped over Corey Dillon's feet, sat down on the ground ... and threw, complete, to Patrick Pass for seven yards. Somehow Brady made it look easy, as if they'd practiced that all week. Belichick and Weis may have to add it to their playbook, next to the play-action, pump-fake, lateral to tailback Hail Mary.

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Thursday, December 09, 2004

Kudos to the Canadian Supreme Court ...

... for being light-years ahead of its American counterpart.

Canadian Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage

While not binding, the decision does make it easier for same-sex marriage to be legalized throughout Canada. The advocates there seem have to done an excellent job making the case -- maybe we need them to give us some pointers.

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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Taking back baseball

I'm not going to stop watching baseball just yet, but there's definitely a cloud over the game right now. Ken Rosenthal wants the players to help dispel it. As Rosenthal says, "It's your game, not the cheaters'. Take it back."

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Friday, December 03, 2004

Transplant ethics

There's a disquieting story in today's Globe about people who need a liver, kidney or other organs, and who are advertising for them online. The article does a fairly good job of explaining the issues this raises -- among them, the difficulty of then determining who "deserves" a given organ. Is it the sickest person? The most eloquent pleader? The highest bidder? (The idea of selling organs, which is currently prohibited, also raises all sorts of ethical issues and makes me shudder.)

Don't misunderstand me -- as the daughter of a liver recipient, I'm all for people getting greater access to organs. I do appreciate that an online service *may* encourage folks to sign up as potential donors. But with personal websites or online matching services, there is no easy way to prioritize. There is no easy way to distinguish between those who are critically ill and those who aren't. There is no easy way to make sure an organ goes to the person who absolutely needs it most, right now.

So if you do want to be a donor, please go the official route. Sign your driver's license, sign a donor's card, and tell your friends and family. It's not a perfect system, but it's more ethical than shopping online.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Farewell, Wordsworth

Dear Hillel Stavis and Donna Friedman,

I'm sorry.

I'm sorry for buying books online.

I'm sorry for shopping at Barnes and Noble and Borders.

I'm sorry that I didn't spend more time and money at your bookstore. Yes, I gave you some of each, but not nearly as much as you deserve.

Most of all, I'm sorry that after 28 years, WordsWorth Bookstore has closed.

I'm sorry that, in an age of online stores and blockbuster chains, one of the few independent booksellers found itself unable to compete. And I'm sorry for my part in that.

I am glad that you're keeping Curious George, your kids' store, up and running. And I pledge to help it stay that way.

With sincere regrets,

soxfan

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