clockredbg.jpg It’s Blogathon day (see here for history and explanation). Briefly, in 2000 the spousal unit posted an entry every 15 minutes for a full 24 hours, just for the hell of it. Next year she decided to make it a ~thon, inviting others to play along and get sponsors to donate to charity (like a walkathon, or spellathon, or whatever).
In 2001, 101 bloggers and their sponsors raised just over $20,000; in 2002, 212 bloggers and $58,000; in 2003, 401 bloggers and $102,000. As you might imagine, running this thing is a monumental undertaking. There was a hiatus in 2004, and this year Sheana of Seeworthy is running the show (with a little help from her friends).
It’s an amazing event, and taking part is somewhat gruelling, but fun. People do some truly wonderful stuff — themed series of posts, write-a-novel-in-48-entries, all kinds of things. We’re staying home today, so periodically I’ll post something cool from the ‘thon.

tsunami updates: feel good for a change

relief.jpg The first place the spousal unit and I sent money after December’s tsunami was the Red Cross, because they always have an appeal running within hours and relief workers on the ground almost as fast. Recently I got an email update saying that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has announced that the $1.2 billion raised worldwide in the 30 days following the tsunami was sufficient to meet the costs of the entire Red Cross tsunami relief program projected at this time. You can read the plan and get updates from the ongoing effort online. (I stole the picture from the latter link.) Damn good.

relief2.jpgThe second place we sent money was the Architecture for Humanity/ Worldchanging Tsunami Reconstruction Appeal, to which we plan to donate regularly; these guys are there for as long as it takes, and you can be part of that. To date, the appeal has raised almost $150,000, with pledges of more on the way. Here’s the email update I got from AfH a bit over a week ago:

Our work in Sri Lanka is moving along with the team currently working on a number of housing prototypes. Last week they had already developed a master plan for Kirinda and its surrounding villages, and efforts are underway to realize that plan. (I swiped the second picture from this link — ed.)
AFH is also partnering with Relief International to rebuild a school in Pottuvil. We are aiming to have the school completed by late spring and Relief International will be introducing an interconnectivity project. We previously partnered with Relief International in the spring of 2004 to help rebuild in Bam, Iran.
Our projects in Tamil Nadu and Banda Aceh are still in their infancy and I’ll update the site once they become active.

Damn good.

more tsunami

Yes, more, because it was borne in upon me — I mean, I knew this, but I hadn’t stopped to think about it — that this isn’t going away in a week or a month or a year. Long after the media have stopped looking for adorable toddlers in trees and wet supermodels, people in the affected areas will still be trying to patch their lives back together, particularly since so many of them are among the world’s poorest.
What brought this to mind was this post on WorldChanging, who by the way have put together such excellent coverage of this disaster that I’m inclined to say, if you’re fed up with tsunami this and tsunami that, ignore everything but WorldChanging and you won’t miss anything that matters. Over to Alex Steffen:

What if relief and reconstruction efforts aimed not just to save, but to improve the lives of the victims of this week’s disaster?
This might not seem like the time to look ahead. The situation all around the Indian Ocean is grim: the bulldozers are digging mass-graves for as many as 100,000 bodies; at least a million people are homeless, hungry and utterly destitute; clean water and sanitation facilities don’t exist; disease is beginning to break out; and relief is still far off for too, too many people. This is a full-blown global crisis.
But this is exactly the right time for foresight.
For one thing, history shows that the world tends to lose interest in disasters in developing world once people stop dying in large numbers. If we don’t think now about our commitment to helping these communities recover and rebuild after the immediate crisis has passed, we never will.
And the ruined cities and villages lining the shores of the Indian Ocean are now home to some of the poorest of the world’s poor. In many places, traumatized people, who had very little with which to earn their livelihoods to begin with, now have nothing left at all. Add to this the long-term challenges they face — like decimated local economies, massive pollution (and some new industrial accidents), declining fisheries and forests, lack of capital and, perhaps most ominously, the rising seas and catastrophic storms they can expect from global warming — and their fate may not be an enviable one.
But that fate is not written in stone. We can still change it. What if didn’t just do something to help, but did the right things, and did them fully? What if we looked at this relief and reconstruction effort as a chance to not only save lives (and of course that must come first) but to truly rebuild coastal Southeast Asia along more sustainably prosperous lines? What if we made the commitment to take what are now some of the most ravaged, destitute areas on Earth, and worked with the people there to reimagine and rebuild their communities to be the cutting edge of sustainable development?
What if we made not just relief but rebirth the new measure of our success?

There’s more, including concrete suggestions, and you should go read it all.
So what can we do? Here’s a short list to be going on with:

  • Donate to disaster relief funds, if you haven’t already; donate more, if you have.
  • Sign this petition urging the Bush administration to commit to a $1 billion contribution (I’m #291). I’m not going to get into what a despicable creature Bush’s reaction to the tsunami shows him to be because it’s bad for my blood pressure; T, from whom I found out about this petition, has been covering that if you’re interested.
  • Be part of a small good thing. WorldChanging and Architecture for Humanity have made a commitment to the recovery process. They’re in it for the long haul and I’m asking you to consider joining them. Ten bucks, right now, and more later as you can afford it (I’ll nagremind you).


You already know what happened:


Vichaar, Jay, Daily Kos and The Command Post are keeping lists of organisations accepting donations. Here are a few of them:

I know it’s always something, and I’m always after you to put your hand in your pocket. But as Sisyphus Shrugged points out, our so-called leaders are full of hot air and pigshit when it comes time to step up and act like a human being. The rich will shrug, or flinch if their consciences are really acting up today, and politicians will get to preen for the cameras because they sent a few moldy tents and leftover cans of beans, and the poor don’t have anything to give. But you reading this, very nearly all of you, you have disposable income or you wouldn’t be online. You can spare ten bucks — and yes, you can do it every time there’s a crisis like this.
Listen: there are people suffering. People, not numbers, not brown anonymous faces on the TV: people just like you and me, only they just got their lives fucked by an earthquake and a billion tons of water. Be a mensch, give a little.
Update, from Stavros: map didn’t bring it home? Found my words empty or insulting? Here’s another way to look at what happened:
I wouldn’t normally post a picture like that, but it’s tearing at my guts. It’s my hope that no one can look at that dead man’s face, so calm there in that flick of a tourist’s shutter, and not break open and spill a little money for the relief effort.
Update the second: He didn’t die! Hedidn’tdiehedidn’tdiehedidn’tdie!!! WOOOO-HOOOOOO!!!! Someone yanked him out of there moments after the photo was taken. (via Stav again, also in comments) (also, photo: Hellmut Issels)

world AIDS day

Support World AIDS Day
In lieu of having anything worthwhile to say, here are the HIV links I’ve collected since I started using

BBC NEWS | Programmes | This World | New York’s HIV experiment
2004-11-30 19:52
holy shit
French vaccine fuels hope in AIDS treatment
2004-11-30 06:38
extract uninfected dendritic cells and virus, mix cells and heat-killed virus, reinject into patient
New HIV co-factor found
2004-11-17 07:01
annexin2 and a host-derived factor important in membrane fusion
Science Blog – Scientists discover enzyme crucial to HIV replication
2004-11-02 06:39
Jeang has a point: a cellular enzyme can’t mutate
BBC NEWS Aids warning over bushmeat trade
2004-10-28 15:50
possibility of new human retroviruses arising the same way HIV did
Entrez PubMed: Wofe, SIV infections in hunters
2004-10-28 15:49
relates to BBC bushmeat story
The Lancet : Simian retroviral infections in human beings
2004-10-28 15:48
comment on Wolfe paper; submit to PLoSB as unsolved mystery?
Potential For Developing A New Cream Or Gel To Block AIDS Transmission During Heterosexual Sex
2004-10-21 17:56
this would save millions of African lives, just for starters, and put real power to fight HIV into the hands of women who currently have little or no defense
BBC NEWS | Health | HIV in monkeys ‘blocked by drug’
2004-10-18 07:42

probably too late, but try anyway

Newton.jpg Update 041201: Gov Perry has granted a stay of execution. He had this to say:

After a lengthy review of the trial transcript, appellate court rulings and clemency proceedings, I see no evidence of innocence.

Y’know, I thought there was supposed to be a presumption of innocence, with the burden of proof being on the prosecution.
——————-original post:
Frances Newton is scheduled to be killed today by the State of Texas. After 17 years and despite incompetent state-appointed counsel at her original trial, questionable forensics, new testing methods which could shed light on key evidence and expanded evidence from a key witness, the state looks set to deny her request for a 120-day delay of execution. Atrios and Norbizness have details and Amnesty International has a one-click message you can send to the Governor and the Presiding Officer of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. Below is the letter I sent. (I stole the image from here.)

Dear Gov Perry/ PO Owens:
I am writing you to ask you to do everything in your power to commute the sentence of Frances Newton, prisoner number 922, and honor the 120-day minimum reprieve petition which would allow Ms. Newton

get that spider out of your pocket

Our friend Mollie is president of the Ozarks Literacy Council, who just had a large and costly window broken by small and worthless scumbags. The intricate iniquities of insurance companies and landlords have conspired to land the council with the full cost of replacement, which they need to raise by Tuesday so as not to conflict with the annual United Way blackout period (whatever that is — I have no idea, go ask Brad).
So, if you have five bucks (or five hundred; hey, you don’t know for certain Steve Jobs doesn’t read this) to spare, please consider helping out a friend of mine and her worthy cause.

if you’re done with the killing and torturing, we’d like our TLD back too

Iraq’s top-level domain, .iq, was deactivated before the 2003 invasion and is still unavailable. Understandably, they’d like it back. The Dialogue Channel has a petition you can sign (more info here). It might seem like a little thing, but my feeling is that it could mean a lot to a people trying to get back to the business of being a real nation again. (via PaleoJudaica)