Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Final post of 2008 ... with more to come ...

I am finally settled back into life in Indianapolis after 12 days criss-crossing the upper midwest. After two major blizzards, I'm pretty happy to be back to the mild Indiana winter, to say the least!

I have a laundry list of things to blog about, since I wasn't able to blog from Fargo (low-speed internet does not make good blogging). But I will leave you this year with a story about generosity from my birthplace: Bismarck, ND.

Listen to the PostSecret Christmas story here.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Benny Boy and Mick Team Up for Congo

When the whole Matt Damon/Ben Affleck craze started, I was always on Team Matt. [sooo much cuter in my opinion. And i say...what wife?!?]

However, the Chronicle's report on Ben Affleck's latest involvement with relief efforts for the Democratic Republic of Congo are catching my eye, and perhaps encouraging Damon lovers everywhere to switch teams for a hot minute.

Ben and Mick Jagger teamed up to create a short film shot in the DRC called "Gimme Shelter," which they hope will raise $23 million in relief for displaced persons and refugees as a result of the fighting currently taking place there. The disputes are offshoots of early 1990's fighting between Rwaandan ethnic battles. The UN estimates that the fighting has claimed as many as 4.5 million lives in the past decade. Insanity.

Thank goodness more efforts towards awareness and humanitarian relief are being backed by the Jagg-meister and Benny boy. Hopefully, their video will aid in the UN's relief efforts and open the eyes of many an ignorant citizen.

So for now, Ben has taken the lead. Maybe Matt's attempts to win back my heart could be to dump his current wife and whisk me away to the war-torn Congo to shuffle these refugees to safety?!? And then he will be my lover AND favorite celebrity philanthropist.
[Shoot...I've watched Beyond Borders waaaayyy too many times.]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Continuing Education :)

Ok, so the semester is over. Finito. Finalemente. No more-ay. (??)

However, I propose that we continue blogging. Because even though our academic calendar for fall semester has ended, that doesn't mean that our dedication to seeking out philanthropy in pop culture should.

Plus, I love this font. And don't ever want to stop typing in it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Robertson v. Princeton and a Waste of a Whole Lot of Money!!!

OK, I promise I will not bore anyone with yet another discussion of the doctrine of cy pres or the particular merits of this case (whose recent settlement made the major press). I merely want to vent about the APPALLING amount of money spent on legal fees by both parties over the past six years!!! According to this report in the NY Times, both sides spent over $40 million ($80 million total for those of you doing the math!) on legal fees before the settlement!!! That's more than $13 million EACH YEAR FOR THE PAST SIX YEARS!!! Yes, I'm screaming and using an excessive number of exclamation marks. I'm outraged and disgusted.

I can certainly think of, oh, maybe just a few better, more meaningful and philanthropic ways to spend $80 million supposedly charitable dollars!! This is a moral disgrace.

Brad and Angie - The Fascination Continues

I can't wait for my Rolling Stone magazine to show up tomorrow. I don't really know how or why I get it. I certainly didn't subscribe. I haven't been billed. My husband swears he had nothing to do with it. But it does have great articles (like the recent spread on The Big Lebowski -- one of my favorite movies ever -- but I digress) and tomorrow's should not disappoint. Brad Pitt is on the cover, and according to this report, he defends his and Angie's decision to sell their children's photos for charity.

The Jolie-Pitts had, as far as I can see, four choices when considering the rabid interest for photos of their offspring: (a) ignore the paparazzi and shield their newborns from the public eye, (b) embrace the paparazzi and public, and willingly pose with their newborns for free, (c) sell exclusive photos of the newborns to publications for personal profit or (d) sell exclusive photos of the newborns and donate the proceeds to charity. The Jolie-Pitts, obviously, chose (d).

Proceeds earned from the sale of exclusive photographs of their natural-born children -- Shiloh and twins Viv and Knox -- to pop culture magazines like Hello! and People have netted the Jolie-Pitt Foundation tens of millions of charitable dollars over the past few years. And all because of the public's insatiable thirst for celebrities! I'm guessing that's the reasoning behind the decision. Or at least one of them.

Many celebrities raise money for charitable organizations (Bono's RED Campaign, Jerry Lewis's annual Muscular Dystrophy telethon). But the Jolie-Pitts have cashed in on their celebrity to raise money for their personal charitable vehicles, putting them in a very interesting position on the altruistic-egoistic spectrum. I can't wait to read Brad's explanation tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Misanthropy & the Joker

It's appropriate on this day, the DVD release of Batman: The Dark Knight, that we discuss misanthropy for the first time on this blog. We'll have to save the discussion of Batman as philanthropist for another time.

[May I just say before going any further how amazing the film looks on Blu-Ray, especially those scenes shot with the IMAX film technology!]

As Batman's nemesis, the Joker is the ultimate misanthrope. He is not your usual villain: he has no friends, he's not motivated by money or revenge, he is not reasonable or plays by any rules, and there is nothing to threaten him with. As Alfred Pennyworth said, "some men just want to see the world burn." Indeed, this seems to be just what the Joker wants.

Among his worst acts:
  • He uses knives to kill people instead of guns. Guns are to quick; with knives you can savor the emotion of seeing who someone really is in the last moments of their life. Do you want to know who was a coward?
  • The Joker appears pleased, as if he is having fun, at each new heist he completes. He relishes the fight Batman puts forward, believing that things would be boring if Batman didn't exist.
  • Among the hundreds of innocent people he kills are numerous police officers, the police commissioner, a judge, and, of course, Rachel Dawes. Oh, and don't forget the he also blew up a hospital.
  • Finally, in an attempt to prove that even someone good can turn evil, he ultimately targets Harvey Dent, Gotham's District attorney. The Joker pits Rachel against Harvey; only one can live, and when Batman saves Harvey, Rachel dies. Harvey is left with half his face burned ... as Two Face, Harvey Dent gives in to the dark side.
My question for you: Is there a difference between pure evil and misanthropy? Is the Joker one or the other? Or both? What about Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter's nemesis? Other examples?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Philanthropist's Bailout

Billionaire Eli Broad has offered the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary of Art a $30 million bailout to rescue the museum from financial trouble. But, the gift comes with certain strings: the museum cannot merge with any other institutions or sell any pieces of art. Broad is using his gift to improve the board. I encourage you to listen to his NPR interview: it just screams of Duty of Care, Duty of Loyalty, donor intent/cy pres, and what it means to be an art collector/philanthropist.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter, Beetle the Bard: helping children

J.K. Rowling annouced this week that all proceeds from her forthcoming book, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, will benefit Children's High Level Group, a charity she founded. CHLG funds education and outreach activities to improve the lives of marginalised and institutionalised children across Europe.Beedle the Bard is a collection of five fairy tales and is mentioned in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" as having been left to Hermione Granger by Dumbledore.

If you're in Edinburgh, Scotland today and hoping to get tickets to today's lauch "tea party" of the book, sorry, tickets were distributed by lottery to Edinburgh kids age 8 to 11.
You can support CHLG with your purchase of Beedle the Bard (standard or collectors edition) ... or, if you're like me and just can't get enough Harry Potter, I won't wait for this book to show up in my Christmas stocking!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Starbucks' Warm Glow

Ok. I'll admit it. I am addicted to Starbucks. If this whole philanthropy thing doesn't end up working out, I am soooo cut out to work as a barista. My addiction is at a level where I define my seasons by the seasonal drinks that Starbucks serve: Summer = Green Tea Frappachino, Fall = Pumpkin Spice Latte, Winter = Holiday drinks!

With the holiday season upon us, Starbucks has released their ever popular holiday drinks. I LOVE the holiday drinks, and have a special soft spot for the Gingerbread Latte, as it was my inagural Starbucks drink and the drink that started my love affair with caffeine. As if they could get any better, this year the holiday drinks have an added bonus. Starbucks has partnered with (Project) Red in order to brighten the holiday season. (Starbucks) Red has decided to donate 5 cents to Project Red -- an organization that helps provide AIDS relief in Africa and has Bono as a front man -- for every holiday drink bought this season.

While 5 cents doesn't sound like a lot, there are three drinks to choose from at millions of locations across the US.

(Starbucks) Red is bringing a whole new meaning to the "warm glow" the holiday drinks bring every year.

Another celebrity philanthropist

I miss my subscription to Time magazine which ended recently ... I thought it was a "times are tough" cut-back that I needed make, but since a friend forwarded me this article from the most recent issue, I realize how much I miss the weekly magazine I found in my mailbox on Saturdays.

Here's the story of actor Jet Li, who is teaching compassion and civic duty in a modern, Westernized China. Li's One Foundation is a partnership with the Red Cross Society of China. At the core of the foundation's philosophy is: “1 person + 1 dollar/yuan + 1 month = 1 big family”. The actor hasn't made many movies lately, as the article reports, to reprise the "major themes of his life — self-sacrifice, service and discipline."

Knowing we have a few Chinese students at the Center on Philanthropy and another fellow blogger who's also an Asia studies scholar, I'm interested to know what others think.