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.

Ernst Mayr 1904-2005

I really must get back to writing about science. Here’s a start: if you are a biologist, have much interest in evolutionary theory or are at all interested in the history of science, this charming eulogy for Ernst Mayr, replete with first-hand anecdotes, is a must-read. Don’t miss the comment section either. Hat-tip: Brian Leiter.

googlebombs for good

Amp points to Rad Geek’s bombing for choice campaign. I have done this sort of thing before, and I agree with Rad Geek’s analysis of the results of that campaign, including Google’s response. The answer to hateful free speech is not censorship but better free speech. Googlebombing is gaming the system, but it’s inherently democratic: to have any impact it requires widespread adoption, and the “game” is available to anyone. So, I’m in:

Roe; Wade; Roe v Wade

I’ll also, as Amp and RG suggest, add this to the sidebar over on the right, just above my links. It will be important not to overuse this idea, especially if “googlebomb sidebars” are going to become commonplace, but it seems a good way to add a little virtual weight to the right (that is, the correct!) side of the scales of public discourse concerning large-scale, enduring issues like abortion and racism.

Adventures in Good Living

KarlHaas.jpgI can’t count the number of lonely hours Karl Haas brightened for me with his radio program “Adventures in Good Music”. I spent most of my twenties in a haze of misery, and I used to drive around aimlessly for hours, sometimes every night for months on end. One of the few things guaranteed to make me feel better was “Adventures”; I remember with pleasure and gratitude the lift I always got from the opening notes of his theme, and then that gentle voice: “Hello, everyone.” He made me laugh, he taught me plenty, and he played me lots of good music; now he’s dead. Ninety-one is a pretty good innings, but I’m still very sad.
[Biographical information mostly from here and here; picture swiped from the CNN obit.]
Born in Speyer am Rhein in 1913, Haas began piano lessons at six and by twelve had formed his first piano trio. He studied at the Mannheim Conservatory and the University of Heidelberg before leaving Germany in 1936 ahead of the rising tide of Nazism. He moved to Detroit, studying at the Netzorg School of Music and commuting to New York to study with pianist Artur Schnabel. In 1950 he began working in radio, hosting a weekly preview of concerts by the Detroit Symphony. In the course of another series for the Canadian Broadasting Commission he began adding commentary to his program of piano recitals and chamber orchestra music, and in 1959 Detroit station WJR offered him a one-hour timeslot to do just that: talk about music. “Adventures in Good Music” was born, and for more than forty years, with never a script, Karl Haas spent an hour a day talking about music. The program is currently aired in over two hundred US cities and by four hundred stations of the American Armed Forces Network and 37 stations of the Australian Broadcasting Commision; Haas also recorded selected series in German and French for Suddeutscher Rundfunk and the Canadian Broadasting Commission, and translation into Spanish makes the Mexico City broadcast run 90 minutes.
“Adventures” was aimed at the casual listener; Haas chose a theme (“The Joy of Sax”; “Baroque and in Debt”; yes, they were often howlers) and illustrated it from his truly astounding encyclopaedic knowledge of music (think about it: more than 12,000 hours without a script). He played recordings, talked about the music, related anecdotes from his own experiences as performer and conductor, told stories from the history of music and illustrated his points on the studio piano. In addition to “Adventures”, Haas maintained a lively performance schedule as pianist and conductor as well as a variety of musical and diplomatic appointments (conducting the Boston Pops; consultant to the Ford Foundation; US delegate to congresses of the International Music Council of UNESCO; visiting faculty at universities all over America; and on and on). He won two Peabody Awards, a National Telemedia Council Award and the National Endowment for the Humanities Charles Frankel Prize, was WGBH‘s Person of the Year, received the first ever lifetime achievement award from Fine Arts Radio International, was appointed Officier d’Académie and awarded the Chevalier d’ordre des arts et lettres by the French goverment, received the First Class Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany and eight honorary doctorates from American universities and colleges, released three best-selling CDs, wrote a book that is currently in its tenth printing and was the first classical music broadcaster inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. I’m sure I missed some, and I’m sure he wouldn’t have cared: it was the music that mattered.
Thank you, and — auf wiederhören, Dr Haas.

Posted in woe