Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thoughts on charity...

As the Great Recession drags on, it can be hard to believe that people are doing anything other than keeping their own heads above water. But these three stories prove individuals and companies are keeping an eye out for others.

In a previous post, I mentioned Warren Buffett's and Bill Gates' "Giving Pledge" - the two billionaires calling on the richest Americans and other citizens of the world to contribute part of their fortunes to the less fortunate.

Recently, according to CNBC, the pair took their message on the road to what some consider to be the economic giant of the future - China. They met with 50 businessmen and philanthropists to find out about the charity work already going on there as well as talk about ways to get the traditionally skittish Chinese to develop their own methods of philanthropy.

MSNBC posted a story on the first-ever world-wide charity index. Australia and New Zealand tied for first, while the US tied for fifth (with 55 percent) in the ranking of 153 nations. The index measured the willingness of each country's citizens to donate time and/or money to charity. China ranked near the bottom, so perhaps Buffett and Gates can make some headway there...

Finally, in this time where companies are pinching pennies and slashing budgets, LEGO has taken a stand for its workers. The Wall Street Journal blogged that the Denmark-based company has begun holding an annual "Stress-Free Day" for its 600 employees in Connecticut. Workers there are encouraged to remember adults need playtime too by getting beauty treatments, playing sports or kicking back with video games. The day is capped off with a happy hour featuring a beer- and wine-tasting.

(Photo courtesy of The Wall Street Journal)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Grab bag!

Today's post is going to be a mixed bag - all sorts of different things. I want to start with a story on

The subject of the story is fans' behavior at University of Maryland - College Park football games. While not necessarily good news in and of itself, the fact it was written by my friend Sam, and featured on absolutely is. Congrats, Sam! posted a feature on the newest world's oldest man. Walter Breuning, a 114 year-old Montana resident, recently addressed local dignitaries and representatives from Guinness Book of World Records, recalling his youth (which did not include electricity for 11 years) and imploring people to be more tolerant.

Finally, the photo on this post (courtesy of the BBC) is of the harvest moon. The BBC has a slideshow of images related to the moon, including some cool photos of a Chinese lantern festival celebrating the harvest. It's the brightest in over a decade and coincides with the actual fall equinox (which will not occur again until 2029).

What else is pretty cool is the fact the harvest moon coincides with an astronomical oddity - Jupiter and Uranus, though really very far from each other, are lined up right now. This article explains all the astronomy parts, but what it boils down to is there are some awesome things going on in the sky this week. Well, at least to my budding inner science geek.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Worldwide bulletin...

I guess the big news this week is the release of the American hiker Sarah Shourd from an Iranian prison, where she and her two friends were imprisoned last year for allegedly spying. They were hiking along the Iran/Iraq border and apparently strayed into Iranian territory.

According to ABC News, part of the condition of her release was the potential for deteriorated health due to a precancerous condition. The Shourd family was reunited in Oman and hope for the release of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer.

Iran isn't exactly known for its human rights record. But now, thanks to billionaire George Soros, The Human Rights Watch will be able to continue its fine work. Soros plans to give $100 million to the watchdog group to expand its work worldwide. It is the largest gift Soros has ever made and the largest ever received by the group. According to MSNBC, Soros has already donated $700 million this year to various charitable groups (including the gift to The Human Rights Watch).

On a completely unrelated note, everyone loves a party. Forgetting its drug issues for the moment, Mexico celebrated the 200th anniversary of its independence. The Washington Post blog has some incredible photos of the festivities, including the one that is featured in this blog. I'm particularly impressed by the "O".

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The boys of fall...

Kenny Chesney's new album, "Hemingway's Whiskey," dropped yesterday (yeah, I don't really understand the title either), but it has a song on it called "The Boys of Fall" about high school football. I think there was even a documentary made around the song as well. But it inspired my theme for today...

I picked up two of these stories through Facebook, via two friends who are in the sports info business. The Boston Herald profiled Boston College red-shirt freshman wide receiver Jonathan Coleman. As mentioned by everyone's favorite Boston broadsheet, Coleman has lived the hard-knock life - the NY Jets have nothing on this kid. Somehow, despite being sent back and forth between several states and in and out of the care of his drug-addicted mother, Coleman made it to one of the most highly respected schools and football programs in the country.

A former co-worker at Villanova posted a link to a profile he wrote of VU's senior men's soccer captain Nick Rouzier, who had a pretty cool answer to the question "What did you do this summer?" The engineering major interned with BKS, a company which builds major stadia around the world, including one of the stadia used in this summer's South African World Cup. Rouzier lived in SA and got the chance to see seven of the World Cup matches.

The Herald also had another story on a BC football player, this one slightly better known after his successful bout with Ewing's Sarcoma. Super-Senior Mark Herzlich missed all of last year, while he fought off cancer. He played video games through his chemo and took the field only as a student assistant. But through his battle, he became fast and strong friends with a very unlikely person - a Notre Dame nun...

(Photo courtesy of The Boston Herald)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Seeing red...and green...

It's probably one of the hottest days of the year and the East Coast is facing one of summer's favorite natural disasters - the hurricane - but for some reason Christmas colors came to mind today.

MSNBC has a video story today on the world's largest tomato toss, and it all goes for a cause. I'm not exactly sure how the money was raised but lots of people got together in Reno to throw tomatoes at one another, raising $20,000 for the American Cancer Society in the process.

In another bit of fun, RTT News reports the Smithsonian has acquired the original Kermit the Frog puppet. Jim Henson's widow Jane donated the world's most famous frog and nine of his cohorts from "Sam and Friends" to the National Museum of American History. Kermit got his start on the show in 1955 and transitioned to "Sesame Street" and "The Muppet Show" after "Sam and Friends" went off the air in 1961.