Tag Archives: charity

Featured

Alfred E Smith dinner was a Presidential roast

This was a refreshing change from the increasingly dark and mean presidential campaign.  John McCain and Barack Obama managed to sit down together at the 63rd annual Alfred E. Smith foundation dinner.  It’s become somewhat of a tradition for the presidential contenders to appear at this white-tie event to raise money for the charitable foundation, and actually seems to lighten the mood.

The candidates basically roast each other, and spare no expense mocking themselves either.  You can check out all the videos below.

Quite honestly, I think that McCain was a better tonight, but Obama definitely scored some big points with a few of his jokes.  Both quickly addressed the ‘That one’ comment from the debate (Obama explains that his name is actually swahili for ‘that one’.  McCain says it’s a nickname, and Obama’s nickname for him was ‘George Bush’).  Perhaps my favourite moment from Obama’s side was his mockery at his own perceived arrogance.  When asked for his greatest strength, he said his humility, and for his greateset weakness he said he was a little too awesome.  Also, keep an eye out for the middle name jokes and Obama’s wicked jab at Giuliani.   I’ll stop spoiling things now, and let you enjoy it.

McCain’s Speeches
Part1

Part 2

Obama
Part1

Part 2

Awareness

Why Bill Gates retiring is good for the rest of the world

I know it sounds like a weird statement to make, but it’s true.  Bill Gates retired from Microsoft recently and is moving over to work full-time at his foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  They’re one of the largest charitable foundations in the world (if not the biggest) and have done some pretty unbelievable work to date.

Everyone and their mother seems to be vying to support Gates and the foundation, and they’ve garnered some insanely high profile supporters.  The best known is Warren Buffet.  The Oracle of Omaha decided a couple of years ago to give nearly $33 billion of his own money to the foundation.  That’s pretty much his whole fortune, and he did so because he truly seems to believe in the foundation.  The best part about this is that the terms of the donation state that the money donated must be spent in that same year.  So that works out to something like $1.5 billion a year, according to CNN.

The biggest reason why people seem drawn to this foundation is that they are as careful running the foundation as they would be a business.  Not that they are looking for profit, but they are absolutely vicious when it comes to efficiency.  There’s no chance of finding the same, bloated, NGO attitude that plagues some of the bigger non-profits.  And as far as the programs that the Gates’ foundation supports, aside from a few huge contributions, much of the money finds its way to very small programs.

Gizmodo, a site not normally known for social commentary, actually has a pretty good take on just why the foundation kickas ass.

If you’re looking at how to help, you could always give directly to the foundation.  Or, if you’re loaded, just do your best to bid up the share price of Berkshire Hathaway stock.  That’s how Buffet is donating his earnings, so the higher the share price, the larger the gift.

Awareness Music

We care a lot: 14 overblown charity/advocacy songs besides “We Are The World” | The A.V. Club

We care a lot: 14 overblown charity/advocacy songs besides “We Are The World” | The A.V. Club

This is a pretty interesting look at the nature of those musical charity songs we always hear about. The most famous one is probably “Do they know it’s Christmas?” from the BandAid concert many years ago raising money for African famine relief. Or more recently “What’s going on?“, a benefit song to raise money for AIDS research.

Here’s a little sample of the Onion’s commentary on some of these songs. Below is the video to the West Coast Rap All-Stars‘ “We’re All in the Same Gang”.

Thanks to producer Dr. Dre, “We’re All In The Same Gang” is at least better musically than most heavy-handed cause songs. Ignore the words, and you can almost imagine it’s another prime-era N.W.A. track about blasting motherfuckers in the face with a sawed-off while bitches lick your enormous balls. The problem with “We’re All In The Same Gang” is context. Sure, rapping about ending gang violence is noble, but can one song outweigh the blood-soaked and bullet-riddled gangsta mythology that West Coast rap was built on, especially when the video looks about as cool as an episode of Family Matters? While Straight Outta Compton didn’t necessarily influence youngsters to grab guns and start shooting people, “We’re All In The Same Gang” definitely never convinced them to stop.

I do take some issue with it, but seeing as it is the Onion you can’t really take it too seriously. I think that having these guys preach a better kind of message really may have made a difference. Maybe not doing it in this fashion, but it’s been proven that hip hop can help take away from gang violence. Just look at Afrika Bambaata and all that he accomplished. And obviously as we all know hip hop is way more complex than just a blood-soaked and bullet-riddled mythology!

But hell, any song that gets NWA together with Eazy-E, MC Hammer, and Digital Underground has to be awesome.

Still, the Onion has a point. There’s no disputing there is room for some of these fundraising concerts/songs, and they do manage to raise the profile of some of these issues. We just can’t let artists and celebrities get away with letting this be their only contribution to the cause.

[Update:] Oh, and before you readers think it’s just the silly Americans and some of the Brits leading these waves, witness Canada’s contribution below. “Northern Lights.” from 1985. “Let’s show the world that Canada still cares.” Genius.