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Christmas Cheer

Geek Charities? 276

Space Rogue writes: "Now that the holiday season is here and tax season is just around the corner, I am looking for worthy charities to donate some money to. I am specifically looking for 'geek' related charities. I know about the EFF but are there other worthy organizations that could put a few dollars to good use? "
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Geek Charities?

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  • I don't think all geeks are rich. Only the gainfuly employed. This rules out students and many hobbiests (fools not to get a job in computing...).
    And what an expensive hobby. Sure second-hand stuff is educational, but to get some real computing power takes dough. Hey, atleast my software is free.
  • Yeah, but if you are like the poster, and just want to offload some money and feel good about it, United Way is an easy choice. Of course one could probably make a better choice by carefully researching each and every charity out there, or giving to local ones, etc.
  • While this won't get you a tax break, it is a pretty good idea... and it is in the same spirit. Linuxfund.org [linuxfund.org] has a page where you can apply for a credit card [linuxfund.org]. When you make a purchase, a percentage of the total is donated to Linuxfund.org which in turn will donate it to a Free Software project.
  • Increases in technology mean increases in productivity: by definition, doing more with less. Increases in productivity over time is the creation of true wealth, i.e., not more little pieces of paper, but the maximization of human activity.

    Were it not for the technological improvements over the last century, there would BE no wealth for us to discuss the charitable redistribution of.

    There is absolutely no question that technology has improved and saved millions upon millions of lives directly, and that it has done much more good than harm. The possible increases in productivity from cheap flat LCD screens is unclear today, but by 2050 their applications may be critical.

    At the beginning of the 20th Century, it took 50% of the population of "modern" societies to work in agriculture in order to feed people. Today it takes less than 2%. Along with those changes have come massive decreases in poverty and massive increases in lifespan. Technological advances and the accompanying increases in productivity are the reason why.

    The only reason why many nations starve is that they haven't enacted a political/economic system that maximizes human activity. The famine that LiveAid was created to help alleviate was preceded by the Ethiopian nationalization of agriculture. Starving nation's politics/infrastructure is often so screwed up that the aid never gets to the people in need. These are the *real* problems that we have to think about and they make charitable options a little less clear-cut.
    --

  • f you want to do something for an organization that is not a policy-based group (like EFF), may I suggest Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic? RFBD is a group in the United States which - using volunteer labor - records books and other written material so that blind and dyslexic people can have access to the same information.

    I have to concur. My dad is dyslexic, and gets his college textbooks on tape from RFBD. My father is an intelligent man; he self taught himself enough to become a sysadmin at a place in town, but it can take months for him to get through one book. With the recording, he can hear what may be confusing him in his textbook, and they sent it to him free of charge. Without this, my dad would be hopelessly lost in his classes. With it, he's actually learning in a semester's worth of time. The folks at RFBD do good work, and they've made it so my dad can take classes without falling hideously hopelessly behind.

    kat

  • by b0z ( 191086 )
    What motivates people to donate to charity?

    Well, let me preface this by saying that I hate most humans. I would be pleased if a meteor came and wiped out the human race.

    Now, with that being said, there are some people out there that there is hope for, that are not like the 99.9% of idiots out there. Let me give you some of my views.

    I really don't care about helping the homeless in the U.S., because most of these jokers are too lazy to go get a job. There are jobs that will accept them everywhere, but they don't want to work at McDonalds or Burger King. That tells me they must not be very poor. Then, there are the women on welfare popping out more babies so they can get more money from welfare, which increases my taxes, etc. These people are already getting the protection money that Uncle Sam has extorted from me, what else do they want? So, I don't give anything to the poor other than a hard time.

    Also, I don't really care about most of the foreign countries and their poor kids. I do care about very specific ones, because I know someone from that country, or have relatives there myself. Yes, it may be a cold hearted thing but I'd prefer to help out the Irish and Mexicans rather than someone in Thailand. It doesn't mean that Thai people are not deserving of money, but that I have higher priorities. I want to help those that I have ties to more than anyone else. It's just an extension of wanting to feed your relatives before you feed a stranger. Both may be starving but you have to draw the line somewhere.

    Also, I don't like to give to big organizations like the United Way. It's unfortunately that a company with the power to do so much good, wastes so much money on advertising and buying their executives a new beamer or jet. If I am going to make a donation, I want a really large majority of it to go to the cause I want.

    I don't like to donate to pushy organizations. If you come to my door when I am eating supper, invite yourself in my apartment, then tell me I have to donate so you can win a prize of getting the most donations, I will refuse to give a single red cent.

    Ok, that was some of the reasons not to give to charity but to put this back on the topic of your question, I would say mostly people donate out of stupidity, ignorance, tax cuts, and guilt. That is fine in my opinion, they can donate because the voices in their head told them to for as much as I care. I just think that it can be a good thing if you actually put some work into researching where your time and money goes. Charity doesn't have to just be working with an organization, even helping an old hag cross the street is a form of charity. If you want to give "out of the kindness of your heart" *barf* you should do more than give money and a little bit of time. I would think charity would be more of a lifestyle than something you do once a month.

  • Schols, libraries, colleges.
    In areas with lesser resources.

  • Except in this case, he's right: helping.org is an arm of the AOL Foundation.

    -

  • I was a boy scout when I was younger, and found it to be a very rewarding experience.

    Glad to hear it. I'm an Eagle Scout myself. And still proud of it.

    That said: Around the time of the Supreme Court Ruling (which I support), I heard a rather interesting point made. Not all exclusion is by definition the result of bigotry. The American Red Cross will not accept blood donations from any male who has had intercourse with another male since the 70's. And this discrimination is not frowned upon by any Gay Activist Organization, for one simple reason: It is a precautionary discrimination. The same discrimination is made against people who have visited certain countries, or who have eaten British Beef. It's to prevent the spread of disease by donation.

    Now, from the Boy Scouting perspective: Most of these kids are young and confused. I fully feel that there should be at least one place in any teenager's life where the topic of sexuality is -not- thrown in one's face. And for kids at the Cub Scout level, sexuality shouldn't even be an issue at all. Scout leaders are supposed to be helping these kids feel more confident in themselves and less confused... It's easier if the door is simply closed on this type of question. Let them consider sexuality when they go off to college. I strongly feel High School is Too Young. Call me old-fashioned.

    And there is also a 'safety' issue to deal with. Let me be clear: I do have friends who consider themselves homosexual, and they are good people. But there are also bad apples, both homosexual and heterosexual. There are dangerous people in the world who have a taste for Young Children. Not every gay guy would spread AIDS by giving blood, and not every gay Scout Leader would be so inhuman as to prey on Young Boys... but it's the Boy Scout preference to Be Prepared earlier, rather than deal with the mess after it happens. Better to be too exclusive, when young children are involved, than not exclusive enough. And it's difficult to be exclusive to just the right degree in an organization staffed by volunteers. You can't exactly ask, on the application form, 'Would you molest a young kid'. The BSA does not want to hear 'you knew this Leader was gay, you could have prevented my son's molestation'.

    If I be modded down for my un-PC views on this, so be it. I've posted honestly. I congratulate you on sticking to your guns on an issue you feel about.

    ---
  • by Mwongozi ( 176765 ) <slashthree&davidglover,org> on Tuesday November 28, 2000 @01:35AM (#597010) Homepage
    Try the helping.org charity search [helping.org], you can search by interest area and location.
  • I know of one charity known as the "Poor college student in this dorm room, also known as me" Fund.

    Large donations are welcome...


    ...and I'm not sure we should trust this Kyle Sagan either.
  • Firstly, charity is something you should do because you want to, not because it allows you to save some money from the taxman. The idea of charity is not to provide affluent geeks with a ready-made tax break, it's to raise money for good causes.

    Giving to charity is something that will be more often done by affluent people than people who aren't quite as well off. Why? Because affludent people by definition have more money to throw around. The tax break is to remind affluent people to give rather than hoard their money, and to encourage them to give back to a community and a world that gave them so much.

    I think it's tragic that charity is only considered to be useful as a tax dodge, and that even then it's more "geek chic" to promote the EFF than the hundreds of charities genuinely improving people's lives.

    If thinking of donating part of their considerable wealth as a "tax dodge" gets people to give back to a world and a civilization that has given them so much, then why not? I strongly believe if you have a lot, you need to give back some to those around you--there is no higher purpose of great wealth than to use it to make the world a better place. And frankly I couldn't give a damn if we encourage those who do have to give back by making them think it will make them sexier and live longer lives to boot!
  • Again though, some research will be in order. Many people question the real efficacy of, for instance, the Heifer project. They've been involved in several debacles in which they gave animals to villages and ended up causing major problems instead of good things.
  • Why shouldn't be food-aid seen as political, i.e. what isn't political? If Amnesty is regarded as political in places like China and Singapore, does this make it less of a charity in other countries?

    Er, I'm not following your train of thought. Food aid isn't political because it isn't promoting government or social change. Charity is when you give something that is needed, to the people that need it. medical care, housing, food, education, mentorship, etc. Political is when you act at a grassroots or "inside" level to change government policies, use judicial change, or effect the popular opinion on an issue. Many groups are both charitable and political. Project bread, for instance is primarily a charitable organization that raises money to fund food pantries across massachusetts. However, they have also used their volunteer activities to generate an astroturf push for MA to cover the food stamp gap for legal immigrants that was opened by the US welfare "reform". The salvation army is pretty much pure charity, though it could be argues that they want to change people's overall attitudes on giving. Something like planned parenthood is mostly political, but does offer low cost women's health care and HIV screening. Amnesty International is in fact a political organization. So far as I know, they are only lightly involved in providing actual comfort to people now imprisoned, and instead want to change the rules under which they were imprioned in the first place.

    Now, under US tax law you get a "charitable donation" for any organization that is a 501c3. That could be a purely charitable donation, it could be a donation to a political group that works on public opinion rather than goverment level change, it could be the fund for a new organ for your church. I suspect that the EFF is a 501c4, which is more explicitly political in that it can have significant direct lobbying expenses, and therefore isn't even charitable by IRS standards, much less by a reasonable examination of what they are trying to accomplish.

    OK, this has gone way off track, but let me end by saying that its no insult to the EFF to recognize that it isn't a charity. I probably donate more money and time ever year to changing the world than to meeting needs. I'm more political than charitable. Some people (mother tereasa, cough cough) focus entirely on meeting very specific needs and activly ignore or even oppose the political/social changes that could reduce those needs in the long run. Just recognize what you're doing and what you're not. If you want to make a political donation, give money to the EFF. if you want to make a charitable donation in the same vein, buy up old computers at garage sales and refurbish them for your local school or something.

    -Kahuna Burger

  • Do geeks just not want to donate to traditional charities that help the homeless, the hungry, and so on?
  • Anonymous Cowards all around the world need your help, give them a chance, to stop trolling, and flaming. Have a merry Xmas

  • Increases in technology mean increases in productivity: by definition, doing more with less. Increases in productivity over time is the creation of true wealth, i.e., not more little pieces of paper, but the maximization of human activity.

    People were plenty happy and productive for eons without making what we'd call technological progress. This idea of technology, of some absolute measure of "progress", seems peculiarly western to me. Native American empires, Asian empires, Middle-Eastern empires, all got along just fine without the feverish quest for technological innovation that we see today.

    Were it not for the technological improvements over the last century, there would BE no wealth for us to discuss the charitable redistribution of.

    There is absolutely no question that technology has improved and saved millions upon millions of lives directly, and that it has done much more good than harm.


    *yawn* Our environment is slowly turning to shit. We've commoditized our bodies and minds to the point that psychological and physical ailments due to lifestyle are at all-time highs. The top percentile of the world live in a virtually gold encrusted paradise compared to the vast millions and billions of people who live in utter destitution, poverty, and disease (the same people who were doing just fine a few centuries or millenia ago, without all this wonderful technology). Technological improvements have created just as many problems as they have solved, they have just shifted those problems to those who don't yet possess the technology...out of sight, out of mind.

    At the beginning of the 20th Century, it took 50% of the population of "modern" societies to work in agriculture in order to feed people. Today it takes less than 2%.

    Or perhaps the global economy is such that only mega-corporations farming on a large scale with high-tech equipment and fertilizers and pesticides can even make farming an affordable practice.

    Along with those changes have come massive decreases in poverty and massive increases in lifespan. Technological advances and the companying increases in productivity are the reason why.

    Sounds like you're talking about the agricultural revolution that occurred between 10 and 12 thousand years ago. Strange how the savage Iroquois had built an agricultural economy the magnitude of which dwarfed anything from Europe, based on mound farming, without even the technology of the plow that all intelligent Europeans knew was absolutely necessary for farming.

    The only reason why many nations starve is that they haven't enacted a political/economic system that maximizes human activity.

    Translation: The only reason why many nations starve is that they haven't bought into the Western capitalist notion of raping their own natural resources for quick profit, and to hell with the next generation. The global economy has been clubbing third world countries to just hurry the hell up and exploit their resources and pollute their environment so they can be on economic par. And then, the largest of the polluters look back and say "Hey! Shame on you third world nations! Look at all the pollution and environmental destruction you are causing by desparately trying to scrabble up the global economic wall!"

    Starving nation's politics/infrastructure is often so screwed up that the aid never gets to the people in need.

    At least that's true. Perhaps we should stop f*ck ing around with other people's political, social and cultural systems to try to remake them in our own image. Perhaps we should help by not climbing on top of the mountain and then chastising everybody else for doing the same. Perhaps we should play fair, by the very same rules, regulations, treaties and accords we ourselves spearheaded. Nobody needs moral imperialists coming in and telling them they're starving because they just don't know how to eat right.

    --
    I apologize, that was sort of a mega-rant...do I sound bitter?
  • I've got two issues with what you're saying...
    1. Not everyone requires that their charity saves a life. What's really ethical? To condem someone for donating money, time, support simply because their cause doesn't save a life? That's a pretty high hurdle to meet. Dontations to a local school wouldn't directly save a life, so by your argument, the donation is unethical, irrational, and simply ego-serving. Personally, I give to some political organizations that try to advance issues I feel are important. I don't expect them to save a life. It sounds like Space Rogue isn't expecting his charity to save any lives, but rather, he expects it to promote issues that he agrees with. Is it wrong for him to want to promote technology (which may improve society and thus save lives indirectly) rather than save a life?
    2. He is researching the issue by asking about it here. Evaluating charities based on their own material is hard, they all say that they're saving the world. He is asking for a peer-reviewed recommendation for a good one. In essence, he's asking his knowledgeable friends who he trusts. Would you blast a friend who asked you about a decent movie with "Do your own research, lazy ass!"

    Let me re-phrase Space Rouge's question: "Who do you contribute to and why?"

    -sk

  • by b0z ( 191086 )
    Normally I don't respond to people trying to piss me off but I am going to respond because you are greatly mistaken about who I am.

    Gotta love the angst.

    If that is what you want to call it that is your choice. I wasn't posting angry comments, just what my opinion is.

    Teenage (if not physically, by maturity) idiots who post now, think later. Yes, Mr. b0z, you are in that vaunted 99.9% of which you write.

    Insults and name calling are not signs of maturity either.

    Re: the homeless. Do you know any homeless people? Do you ever talk to them? Find out what their lives have been like, where they come from, how they got where they are?

    Actually yes to all of the above questions. I have had family members who are in that position. It can be unfortunate, but for the most part is very preventable. Working somewhere like McDonalds will not provide you with the best life but it should be able to help you afford a place to stay, clothing, and food. Not a good life, but living in a trailer is better than a box. My uncle was living in a trailer (like the kind you camp in) in the woods for a while. He managed to improve his life and now lives somewhere better but is still not middle class. I do think that he is trying to improve his life, and is able to do so because he is willing to work.

    Did you know that most of the homeless are mentally ill?

    I do agree that there are a lot of mentally ill homeless people. Whether that is the cause or a result of homeless ness I don't know, but I would not say that the majority is mentally ill.

    Re: welfare. Your comments are sort of funny; sounds like you have a Limbaugh-level IQ.

    Again, insults are a sign of immaturity. Grow up.

    Have you ever looked at the welfare recipient statistics in your state? Do you know exactly how many women who are receiving aid are "popping out more babies"? Do you know what the yearly budget for AFDC is? Do you know what AFDC is?

    Well, I just moved to this state a few months ago, so no. I had not looked at the statistics in the state I had lived in before either. Why? Because I knew people on welfare very closely. You can not tell me that the majority of people recieving welfare are not cheating the system. I have seen it with my own eyes for years. Not everyone cheats, but there are too many people doing it. I went to a high school in a poor area of town. I made friends there, and got to meet a lot of people that recieve welfare. Part of the problem is that they get used to free handouts, and it comes to be expected. They don't want to work, they think the world owes them something. As far as AFDC, I don't know what it is. So what?

    Re: why we give. I give to charity, smart guy. I grew up pretty easy: suburbs, parents, good schools. I was lucky. Most kids aren't so lucky, so if I can help make this a better place for them, I will. I don't do it out of guilt, ignorance, or for the tax breaks (which you don't even get in my state). I do it because in my opinion it's the right thing to do.

    Good for you. I'm sure Jesus would be proud of you to throw your pocket change to someone on the street so they can go buy that rock they have been wanting to smoke. Just giving money doesn't solve anything, and you may give of your time or something else, but even then it is usually done for superficial reasons from what I see. Yes, I am cynical. So what? I see things the way I do for a reason. I have no problem with giving to a charity if it does any good, but I don't think a lot of good is done by some of the popular charities.

    Most people who talk down about the poor have never been poor. Most people with money grew up with money? What have you done?

    Well for an extremely brief autobiography in a paragraph, yes, I have been poor. When I was a baby, my dad was into drugs, both doing and selling. He made money from weed and was living a crazy lifestyle. After I was maybe 3, he abandoned my mother and I. She had to go on welfare temporarily, but hated it and felt it was degrading. She worked at a job, and made as much money as she could while my dad threatened to kidnap me and other bad things. Eventually, my mom met my stepdad, later they got married, ditched welfare, struggled to have a decent life, and would probably be considered lower middle class. Growing up, they provided me with food, clothing, shelter, and on my birthday and christmas, toys. I had to do work at a somewhat young age and started out mowing grass and doing other work like that. I then got a job at a supermarket to buy my own car, because my parents couldn't buy one for me like your parents probably did. As a young teenager I wanted to have the same toys as my friends, so to get them I often skipped out on lunch to save the money. My first computer was a Commodore 64, which was given to me for free around 1992 or so. In high school I was taking programming classes because I wanted to learn about computers but didn't have one of my own other than the C=64 with it's BASIC and Assembler built in. After that, when I was graduating high school in 1995, I managed to save up enough money to buy a $1000 computer, which was a piece of crap but it worked well enough to get me started. I started to go to technical school/community college (partially from scholarships but the rest came from my pocket) and after a while I got a real job working with computers and quit school. I now have a decent job, and am working on improving that even more.

    The point is, I came from a bad background originally, things improved, and now I am making more money than my parents because I work in the tech industry. I have worked somewhat hard to get where I am, but other people can do it so much easier. My problem is with the poor who get so used to being poor that they don't care to try to improve their life, and instead rely on free handouts. It disgusts me to be forced to support these people. If you want to, I think it should definitely be your right, and maybe by some odd chance you will help someone that is looking for more than a handout. Also, the poor in the U.S. are not all that poor. If you go to some 3rd world countries and developing nations you can see what it is really like to be poor. They really do have their lives in danger, unlike the lazy slobs in the U.S. that are poor by choice. And don't think that when I make a statement like that, that I am saying everyone that is poor is lazy. That is not the case, but I do think it is the majority.

    So...I hope you see that I do have an idea of what I am talking about, and am not some misguided rich guy trying to buy his way to Jesus or some crap. It doesn't work that way.

  • You've also got to believe in a god before you can be a Boy Scout. This is wrong. I was a Boy Scout when I was a kid, and I think that the organization should allow atheist kids to be members. They should replace the word 'reverent' with the word 'tolerant.'

  • corrupt bigoted governments...and the giant corporate dollars that fund them...

    I recently asked a fellow who works in my department who is from Africa (Ethiopia in fact), I flatly dont trust major media (except maybe cbc & bbc), I asked frankly "Why is it that the continent of Africa is starving or involved in conflict? What is the problem?"

    His reply: "Although the on the 'surface' the conflicts have to do with religion or the 'overthrow of a corrupt' or 'undemocratic' government - what is really taking place is that Large multinationals from China, Japan, Canada (!), and the States, mostly mining companies and the like are involved in the overthrow of governments and funding major conflicts everywhere. What will happen is a party of peoples, say XYZ Liberation Army or somesuch, which may have 'valid ideals', will seek to take place of the present government in a particular country. They will appeal to certain, 'shady figures' who will offer funding-arms-equipment etc in exchange for favour with regards to that regions natural resources when the XYZ Liberation Army takes power."

    Basically, "we will help put you in power if you give us the land rights (lease) for that mine". During this process, the leaders of the XYZ who are most 'corrupt' will have gravitated to the front of the organization, because they would be the ones who appeared to be able to deliver what the XYZ Liberation Army's members want: To transplant themselves (for possibly valid ideological reasons) with the present government.

    This then leads to a situation where the next group -knowing how the present gov came to power (really in the above afore mentioned scenario)- seeks a new 'moneyed interest' to back them.

    I dont have to bother describing what a cyclical problem this is. As a result 95% of the rent collected from leasing the natural resources to these companies goes into the military, to defend their position, and the people starve.

    For the cynics who dont believe me? Next time you meet someone who is from Africa - ask them yourself... Can anyone who lived in Africa as adult comment please. I would also like some perspective & corroboration.

    Solution: Abolish the WTO, IMF, WorldBank - these organizations are 'fronts' for multinational corporations who are trying to enslave Africa. Again. The 'rest of us' are next.
  • You were lucky. A quick little search [google.com] shows that not every atheist fares as well as you did.
  • by Joe Decker ( 3806 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2000 @07:03AM (#597046) Homepage
    The sad thing is, people are pretty stupid. They give donations to charities which advertise on TV or which seem hip or trendy (thereby paying for the salaries of marketing execs who make a living off starving kids).

    Without arguing the 'stupid' comment, I do strongly believe in 'efficient' charities. When 90% of the donations to an organization go towards advertising and administrative costs, I have to ask if I can do more good with my money.

    On the other hand, precise quantification can be hard. AIDSride is often decried as inefficient, but often by folks who miss the benefit of the awareness raising that group has done. We could debate how important that is today, but it's certainly a factor in any discussion of efficiency.

    Moreover, if you pushed for absolute highest efficiency, you'd probably end up only dontating to very small grass-roots organizations. While I don't think there's anything wrong with that, certain types of chartitable organizations, such as medical research organizations, aren't very effective unless they reach a critical mass. That doesn't a priori make them a bad choice.

    That having been said, the vast majority of my charitable giving currently goes to BAMM: Bay Area Model Mugging [bamm.org], which is an excellent example of an efficient and effective small organization. Ignoring the inevitable jokes about mugging models, I've seen BAMM make a significant, positive difference in the lives of several folks around me, and believe that the difference it's made on those people have had a positive effect on my own life as well.

    Which brings us back to why I do it, why I give. I give becaue it makes me feel good. I'm not religous, I don't expect repayment, I simply do it because, in the end, it feels good.

    --Joe

  • You could also consider making a donation to Project Gutenberg, a non-profit organization that scans & OCRs out-of-copyright books/essays into free ASCII text.

    PS For some reason, my links links aren't showing up in the comment-preview. In case the links still don't appear when the comment is posted, here's the main url for Project Gutenberg: http://www.promo.net/pg/

    Alex Bischoff
    ---

  • My parents do this. Good group.
  • If you want to give to the EFF, please do so, but I humbly request that you do not preempt donations to the poor and needy to feed what is essentially a political lobbying organization, one that in fact represents the interests of the most affluent members of society.
  • This isn't a flame, but are Gates, Ellison, McNealy etc the sort of people whose interests are represented by the EFF?

    The EFF represents the technical class - who, by and large, are a youthful demographic with incomes far higher than the national average, and who tend to be more libertarian than other segments of society.

    They represent a political agenda. If you support this agenda, support the EFF.

  • This is something to think about. Yeah, there are some geek things that we can donate to, but not get a tax break (I doubt they'd give ya a tax break when donating to say Debian (yeah you can do that)).

    Personally, I give to give and not for the tax break. My main charity is tax deductible (my church provides a nice little statement when you tithe, of course we have fallen off recently). I rarely give enough to make a difference on my taxes. Like I said, I give to give.

    I am very careful on the organizations I give to. One example is the United Way. I no longer give to them because of a recent local snafu where one of the United Way execs embezzled a bunch of money. Same goes with one other organization in the area here ( I can't remmeber the name, nbut it was again several employees of the local chapter sponging off of the top.).

    My church, on the other hand, uses the money as they see fit. Paying the pastors, money for drilling a well in India, Money for supporting our sister church in Saratov, Russia and money for a local ministry called A Better Way. A Better Way preaches the gospel to drug addicts, alcoholics and homeless people in the area. They do this in several ways...giving blankets to the homeless, bringing in presents to parents who have no money to provide gifts to their kids....the list goes on and on. Some people just take the gifts, others take them and change their ways and start attending church and learning the Bible. I don't want to sound too preachy here, but this makes me feel good whether I would get a tax break or not.

    To me, if I were to pick a specific geek cause the EFF would be it because it has wider implications then the ones we all think about(specifically, how would it benefit the open source movement). Personally, I give to as many as I can. I am a sucker for kids selling stuff door to door because I had to do it too. I buy if I have money that is. I would much rather see people get fed or a kid go on a school trip then see an advancement in Linux, or Open Source (as much as I like and want to see Open Source succeed!). Linux and Open Source causes are good, but there are MANY more important charities out there. Sure, I would donate to Open Source, but it would not be the ONLY thing I donate to.

  • So, to sum up, your opinion is that since the western approach has brought about wealth by raping and pillaging, that westerners should not try to tell starving countries that they're wrong for adopting dictatorial communism and systematically starving their own citizenry, but that we SHOULD, like, give them stuff they don't have, because that's charitable, dammit.

    The original rape is wrong, but since we're doing it anyway, let the Africans have sloppy seconds!

    Oh, and ancient cultures were "happy". For their average expected lifespan of 35 years, threatened with serfdom, barbariansm, random pestilence and death due to diseases they didn't understand... but I suppose nobody can say they weren't content, since history doesn't really record that sort of thing.

    And look man, I dunno if you've noticed, but using Slashdot for anti-technology rants is about as dumb as banging your head with a rock. If you don't believe in the promise -- and the past -- of technology, the first thing you should do is fuck off this particular web site (if not all other web sites as well). And I'm not saying that to be rude... honest... it's just kinda obvious!
    --

  • There are a number of groups working against government terrorism and torture and trying to stop the damage from wars.
    Medecins sans Frontieres, aka Doctors Without Borders" [doctorswit...orders.org] is an international medical relief group. The Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines [msf.org] is a related organization.
  • You would find it harder to find a rational argument for respect of god.

    That is why I do not try. Nevertheless, there are more learned people than I who have addressed this very question. Whether you believe in God or not, you may find C.S. Lewis's 'Mere Christianity' to be a good read. The first section deals with this topic. Whether you agree with his views or not is up to you, of course, but even if you don't, you may find it insightful and thought-provoking. It never hurts to know more about what you're disagreeing with.

    Your argument that tolerance should be all encompassing, even to criminals, is unsupported.

    My argument is, in fact, that tolerance should -not- be all encompassing, especially with regard to criminals. And most especially with regard to criminals who commit crimes of inhuman cruelty. If you commit a crime, it is only right that you pay for it.

    Nevertheless, I can remain courteous and polite to a murderer any time I wish, not insulting him (and if he's the one with the gun, it may be quite wise.) Even if I'm calling the cops on him, I shall treat him as a fellow human being. I can put on a friendly face to a person even if I find them utterly disgusting. And even the worst of situations can be made tolerable, if not actually better, by a bit of stubborn refusal to be uncheerful. But any point added to the Scout Law would have to be all-encompassing. I may be too human to follow the Law every single moment, but it should be a worthy thing to try.

    As for adding a New Point to the Scout Law... well, how's about visiting old Merriam-Webster [m-w.com] again...

    tolerant
    Function: adjective
    1 : inclined to tolerate; especially : marked by forbearance or endurance
    2 : exhibiting tolerance (as for a drug or an environmental factor)

    I assume the first meaning is the one that's important to you (although as anyone who's been on those cold camping trips can tell you, the second can be a nice bonus!). The problem is, there are some situations when a Scout should not merely endure. A Scout is Brave. Brave to stand up for the needs of the minority when it is unpopular to do so, Brave enough to speak the truth when it would be easy not to, Brave enough to give his life to save another if need be.

    Tolerance is a noble trait in many situations, but it cannot be all-encompassing. The Scout Law names qualities that are all-encompassing and worth aspiring to, whether we are able to actually achieve those aspirations every second of every day or not.

    ---
  • 1) CS Lewis' arguments are faulty. I definitely did not find him to be a good read.

    2) Putting on a friendly face to a murderer isn't friendly. It's ... ummmm .... two-faced. I notice that "honest" is not one of the words on the list.

    3) You minimize the importance of tolerance too much. Tolerance is the basis of freedom. Nobody said you have to be tolerant to murderers, and to claim that tolerance should be excluded from the list on that basis (which is what you claimed despite your denial above) is completely bogus. Tolerate everything that does not abridge your freedom. If a gay or atheist kid wants to be a scout, does that prevent you from being straight and religious?

  • I get the feeling I should mention, I don't think this isn't exactly an argument that has an objective, scientifically provable 'right' or 'wrong' answer, and I must apologize... I do tend to argue sometimes just for the sake of trying to see both sides myself. I've enjoyed this discussion we've had so far, really.

    1) Well, you've got your favorite writers, I've got mine. I personally have trouble getting into anything written by Ayn Rand, though I know she's considered by some to be an influential philosophical writer.

    2) Whoever said I was putting a friendly face on a murderer? I'm putting the friendly, or perhaps I should say, civil, face on myself.

    3) Try this on for size. Tolerance ain't enough to ensure freedom. Love for one's fellow human beings is needed. A strong enough love to fight for the rights of others even if you gain no benefit. Which sounds better: A Scout Tolerates (or puts up with) his fellow human beings, or A Scout Truly Cares for his fellow human beings? True, in order to truly care for someone, you need to tolerate them... but there's a little bit of an 'extra mile' thing going on with Caring.

    Anyhow, again... I've enjoyed this discussion, and I don't mean in a demeaning way. I've found it thought-provoking, challenging to my own views, and that's something I like. I do my best philisophical thinking in a 'debate' situation. I'm hoping I've returned the favor, by giving you something worth chewing over. If you don't like it, well, the great thing is, you don't have to agree with me. Thank God (if he exists) for Freedom of Thought. You may be right, I may be wrong, there's no way to know in this lifetime. Heck, we may both be right -and- wrong.

    And thank you for considering me worthy of continued response. I've gained a healthy respect for you through our discussion, PD. Whether I agree with you or not, your beliefs are well-grounded, and you hold them well.
    ---
  • I was involved in the BSA from an early age. I made it to Life (the rank immeadiately below Eagle, which most people are more familiar with ;-) ) by the time I was 16. (Then I went to college and got too busy to do anything BSA related, but that's a different story.)

    I can't say today that I would support them. I do think that they can teach a young boy/man good things, but I can not forgive them for the reactionary tack they've taken in recent years (``We can discriminate against anyone we don't like.'' which while legally correct (they're a private club) is morally wrong).

    In an ideal world the BSA would be a forum for a young boy of any background to feel welcomed and nurtured so that they can grow into the best man they can be; sadly at this time I don't think the BSA has attained that ideal.


    --

  • Look at the state of American farming. A few decades ago, most farming was done on family farms. It was more or less sustainable. But recently big corporations have evolve to do mega-farming on a mass scale. These corporate farms treat animals miserably, to get the most price/performance ration. They pollute their soil with harsh chemicals, pesticides, and now genetically engineered food, and keep on having to raise the stakes because land becomes less sustainable, insects become pesticide resistent, etc. etc. They are borrowing from peter to pay Paul. Now these mega farms produce so much by practicing non-sustainable agriculture with expensive technology, that they drive down the cost insanely, and they have run all the family farms out of business. Look at the dairy industry. In a decade or two there will be practically NO small dairy farms, just big corporate farms turning over cows like they were batteries.

    And the third world is rushing to catch up with the rest of the post-industrial west. So they build up great polluting industries to catch up quick. Of course this screws the environment, and often native farmers, who then have to go and cut down rainforest, or import food into their country. It is totally destroying the sustainable way of life people had for a long time.

    That is NOT progress. I would rather my food cost TWICE as much if it were sustainable, if people weren't indentured or put out of business to supply it, and if animals and the land were treated in a respectful and sustainable manner. Everything is not about how much shit you can acquire on the cheap.
  • I don't know if the Minerats Project [fourmilab.to] is still active, but John Walker was promoting development of cheap robots for detecting and clearing land mines.


    EUDEM - The European Union in Humanitarian DEMining [diwww.epfl.ch] is another anti-landmine group, which provides a clearinghouse for technical information.

  • that westerners should not try to tell starving countries that they're wrong for adopting dictatorial communism and systematically starving their own citizenry

    Never said that. If there are human rights abuses, then as an equal (and not MORE than equal) entity in global politics, we can make a decision for ourselves to employ our own personal sanctions against that nation, and help its citizenry. However, we shouldn't try to dogmatically search out and destroy other people's forms of government or culture just because we don't think they are the Right way. We decided that the Native American's form of government and culture wasn't any good. We benevolently reformed them into an American-like democracy. We chopped up their land into individually owned pieces. We educated them in the ways of capitalism. Makes sense right? We ruined these people, who have only dregs and tatters of their culture and political system left. It's shameful. We've had a stinking blockade against that little tiny island Cuba for what, three DECADES now? Just because they harmed our pride with a little missile scare? Just because they didn't give in to big bully USA?

    There is a fine line between helping people help themselves, and just forcing them to do something we want.

    For their average expected lifespan of 35 years, threatened with serfdom, barbariansm, random pestilence and death due to diseases they didn't understand

    Yeah, but is it a fair trade to increase my lifespan by a third and halve my quality of life? And by the way, unless you are talking about dirty middle-age Europeaners who had to have contact with the Arabs before they learned how to clean and heal themselves, people were living plenty longer than 35. And if you are talking about serfdom and barbarism those were nowhere more pronounced than in the (technology mongering) civilizations of Europe. Sure, other cultures had serfs and slaves, but in many cases they were treated with respect and had a specific role in the culture. You keep coming at this from an absolutist Eurocentric value system.

    We still live with random pestilence and death. Or at least the majority of those in the third world, who got the shit end of our wonderful technological progress.

    And look man, I dunno if you've noticed, but using Slashdot for anti-technology rants is about as dumb as banging your head with a rock.f you don't believe in the promise -- and the past -- of technology, the first thing you should do is fuck off this particular web site (if not all other web sites as well). And I'm not saying that to be rude... honest... it's just kinda obvious!

    Yeah, I guess I shouldn't bring up anything the herd might not agree with. Conform, conform, conform. I would like to think of Slashdot as a place for intelligent discussion. And by the way, this is not an anti-technology rant. I am just *asking* you to *consider* the rationale for your basic assumption that technology is a good end in and of itself. Apparently questioning such a deep-seated belief has made you very uneasy and you have to strike out.

    I'm sure Bill Joy will be expecting your response to his Wired article. Because, you know, he's just another one of those anti-technology nuts.
  • Responding to your points by number:

    1) You're absolutely right about that. If you make a claim about a god then there must be extraordinary evidence to back it up. Atheists make no claims about the existence of god, and therefore need no evidence.

    2) You twisted what I said. I will say it more clearly. If you smile at a murderer, you are two-faced. If you present a cheerful face to a murderer, you are dishonest.

    3) You are absolutely right that tolerance isn't enough for freedom. Notice that I would not remove any words from the list of what a scout is. I would only add the word 'tolerant' which I think is essential. Tolerance is the core of the 1st ammendment which says that we all have the freedom to say what we want to, and worship or not worship in any way we want to.

    Thanks for the compliments. My beliefs are well grounded because they have been arrived at through careful thought. I was once in the exact position that you are in right now - A believer, much more conservative than I am today. Keep arguing with atheists and see where it takes you!
  • by Kiss the Blade ( 238661 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2000 @01:38AM (#597091) Journal
    So why do we need a charity for the most spoiled sector of the population?

    Jesus, what's wrong with Ethiopians and stuff?

    KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.

  • First off, to get it clear, I don't care how the animals are treated. Don't bother arguing it, 'twill make no impact. Now, down to the real meat of your objections...

    Harsh chemicals? Pesticides? Non-sustainable farming? Here's the rub. Those engaging in non-sustainable practices will eventually see their costs of production rise dramatically as a result of their actions, no? Basically, if they can't make "borrowing from Peter to pay Paul" profitable, then sooner or later they'll be economically motivated to make it stop happening. Furthermore, the small number of groups which did engage in sustainable practices will at this time become more economically viable as their competitors' costs (and thus prices) rise. My point? Don't get your nose out of joint; 'twill all come out in the wash. Frankly, it's rather presumptive to think you know more about farming than the people owning and running large farms.

    If you think it's better to pay twice as much and buy food produced via sustainable practices, then do that -- I don't care. Pay twice as much and buy food produced via sustainable practices. As soon as you start insisting that I do the same, however, I'm going to start taking offense.

    As for genetically engineered food, I don't see what the problem is. Remember, if selling genetically engineered food is more profitable, that means that more of it can be produced for less money. Having cheaper and more plentiful food is a Good Thing, no? Once you find conclusive evidence that genetically engineered food products cause actual people actual harm, come back and we can rediscuss. In the mean time, I don't care. Strikes me as similar to the argument against milk from cows given hormone shots. One product I buy asserts that "no test can now distinguish milk products from [treated] cows. As a result, while we verify that the milk in this product does not come from [treated] cows, we cannot make this assertion for other ingredients which may contain milk". If no test can tell the difference, then they're similar enough that I don't care.

    The thing is, everything is about how much shit you can acquire on the cheap. Don't get me wrong -- I'm living in a small town and making half the money I would in the bay because I care about quality of life. However, I nonetheless believe that greed is the best way to motivate people to act in a way that benefits society as a whole, much better than fear* (which, in addition to being morally wrong, encourages rebellion) or altruism (which works for very few people). In the case of farming, where (as in other competitive markets) profit is maximized by producing the largest amount of product which can be sold at market price (presuming that this unit price covers your variable costs) while consuming the smallest amount of resources (minimizing your costs overall), this is indeed the socially beneficial route. I suppose it may be a difficult conclusion for a green to grasp that those money-grubbing corporate folks really are acting in your best interests, but it's the one I've come to. If you're convinced they aren't, though, don't buy their product. Don't get me involved, though, directly or by having my tax dollars go into intervention.

    * - when I say fear in this context, consider that to mean "fear of jail", which is a sorry way for a government to stay afloat. If someone is paying for services, they should do so because they want those services, not because someone will lock them up in a cage if they don't.

  • If you donate to a charity, how much of that is tax deductable and of what bracket of tax (State or Federal) -- I owe a lot every year, and I would rather pay a charity a few thousand than the Government which already is getting enough of my money. What is the process for this and how do I set it up? Any accountant advice is welcome, as I'm a dork and make too much money and have no accountant nor any knowledge about this stuff - qualified urls also very welcome. And yes, I am setting up something with an accountant, but it's hard to find good accountants in this area that dont charge more for their services than you owe in taxes.
  • > But how can you claim that it is disgusting for > people to want to help people less well off
    > than themselves?

    Why do *you* want to let starving children die? I never expressed disgust of *anyones* motivation for helping other people, it be either altruism or money. *You* were the one that said some motivations fopr helping others were "wrong". *That* is the kind of thinking that is disgusting.

    > And where did Christianity come into all of > this?

    Christian culture is the unique in putting more value in *motivations* than in *actions*.

    > Sorry, but when I give to charity it is because
    > it will help someone else, and the fact that I
    > feel good is incidental.

    Good, I'm glad that you choose to help others, and I do not care what your motivation for doing so is. I just wish you would stop telling other people which motivations are "right" or "wrong". Motivations are neither, only actions count (except for Christians, for whom motivations may save their souls).

    > You don't seem to mind people getting money for
    > it, but you do mind people feeling good about > it.

    No, I'm happy whatever peoples motivations are.

    > Free software really isn't that important.

    I'm talking about interlectual property in general. Feeding a hungry man help him. This is good, but in only last a day. Fighting in the WTO for fair trade agreements will help him and his fellow countrymen to feed themselves. Fighting against the creation of an IP aristocracy will help his children to one day live in a country that redo what Japan and the SE asians tigers did, enter the high-tech world by copying and improving existing techonology.
  • The think tank I started in 1999, the Center for the Study of Technology and Society, is a nonprofit organization that accepts charitable donations. We're a nonpartisan group that studies the social implications of advancing technology.

    We are still getting on our feet, so you can be sure that any donation you send our way, no matter how small, will mean a great deal to us.

    You can check out our Web page here: http://www.tecsoc.org [tecsoc.org].

    If you are interested in helping our organization, or if you just want more information, please feel free to drop me a line at adam@tecsoc.org [mailto].

    Thanks for your time, and for the many kind messages we've received from Slashdot visitors in the past year.

    Yours,
    Adam Keiper [mailto]
    The Center for the Study of Technology and Society [tecsoc.org]
    Washington, D.C.

  • by rleyton ( 14248 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2000 @01:40AM (#597098) Homepage
    I couldn't comment on any specific geek charities per se, but UK residents may be interested in allaboutgiving.org [allaboutgiving.org] - which gives lots of info about available charities.

    You can also sign up for apply for a Charity Card [allaboutgiving.org] - which allows you to donate online.

    In my experience, it's the easiest and most tax-efficient way of giving to charity in the UK.

  • Software in the Public Interest [spi-inc.org]. They are the parent organization of Debian, Gnome, Berlin and the Open Source Initiative.

    Greg

  • by voidzero ( 85458 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2000 @01:42AM (#597101) Homepage
  • Is it wrong for him to want to promote technology (which may improve society and thus save lives indirectly) rather than save a life?

    Well, that's really the main question. I think in itself, it is at best a tenuous position that technology improves society and/or saves lives indirectly. One could argue that technology has done much more harm then good. Of course as geeks our basic assumption is the technology is the greatest thing on earth and will eventual cure all problems if we just give it time. Personally I would rather save somebody now than throw my money at technology and hope it will do something in the future. Whether Goldstein wins the DeCSS, or whether we finally get large cheap flat LCD screens, millions of people will still be illiterate, diseased, starving, dead or dying, tomorrow.

    No, giving to different charities is not mutually exclusive, but if your goal really is to do the most people the most good, then I bet it would be best to give to the traditional feed-the-starving, house-the-homeless, cure-the-diseased type of charities.
  • by ayjay29 ( 144994 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2000 @01:43AM (#597103)
    How 'bout SUHDCB (Support for Unemployed Homeless Dot Com Burnouts).

    Only six months ago they were living in luxury accommodation, driving Ferraris and eating and drinking in the finest restaurants and nightclubs. This Christmas many of them will be living in a cardboard 25" monitor box (if they are lucky...). While we can't offer the millions that the venture capitalists used to fund them with, we can help to make a difference to their lives.

    Please give generously. (Any 25" monitor boxes welcome).
  • Well, let me preface this by saying that I hate most humans.

    I feel for you, man. Check out my .sig. There are good folks out there, but it's the bad apples that ruin the bunch.

    I really don't care about helping the homeless in the U.S., because most of these jokers are too lazy to go get a job.

    Hear hear. Our welfare system is a horrid mess that allows lazy bums to make a living by being lazy bums. Now there are good, honest folk out there who are simply down on their luck, but they're horridly outnumbered by other guys who simply want a buck without earning it. I live in a Big City with plenty of them, and have seen no shortage of folks on the street with signs. One which comes to memory: 'I won't lie, I need a beer.'

    Also, I don't like to give to big organizations like the United Way.

    It really is tough to know where your money is going with these big organizations. Almost as bad as the government's welfare. I like donating canned foods and Toys for Tots, because it's Really, Really Hard to 'skim' from donations like these. And, when I do give money, I give it to groups I trust will make good use of it. Local groups especially.

    If you come to my door when I am eating supper, invite yourself in my apartment, then tell me I have to donate so you can win a prize of getting the most donations, I will refuse to give a single red cent.

    Ugh. I don't blame you. If some guy comes knocking at my door at a reasonable hour collecting canned goods, well, I've always got an extra can of soup somewhere. Pushiness is just rude, though. You shouldn't have to 'sell' charity.

    I would say mostly people donate out of stupidity, ignorance, tax cuts, and guilt.

    Cynical, but unfortunately, too close to truth. You're right: A little bit of research does go a long way. As does a bit of Effort in place of Money. There are three resources one can draw upon in giving: Time, Talent, and Treasure. All too often, the first two are neglected.

    A few other 'good things to do' which cost nothing: It takes less than an hour to donate blood when the Red Cross comes around, only two hours to donate platelets, and either donation will save lives within 48 hours, with nothing out of the wallet, plus you get a free physical checkup out of the deal, and cookies. Building Homes for Humanity or some similar project one Saturday every now and again is good for the muscles (especially important for us Geeks sitting around all day).

    Finally, by helping out your local Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts/Other Youth-Helping Organization/School Program, you may be helping to slightly raise the number of non-idiots in the world. Pick one with views you can agree with, there are plenty to choose from. Interesting Fact: Lord Baden-Powell considered an extra point to the Scout Law, 'A Scout Is Not A Fool', but thought it redundant.
    ---
  • They don't just represent rich sysadmins. They represent anyone who wants to be able to walk into a library and read potentially contravercial information on the net, with their privacy intact. This includes the homeless, students, minimum wagers, political activists, and revolutionaries. And if you don't like revolutionaries, remember that your country was founded by them. (I'm taking a statistical chance that you're American, appologies if you're not.) Yes, they lobby the legislators, but so do many other charitable organisations.
  • by buttfucker2000 ( 240799 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2000 @01:43AM (#597107) Homepage Journal
    Obviously it depends on your personal preferences, but you could try:

    the FSF: donate here [gnu.org]
    KDE: contacts here [kde.org]

    other projects as you use them; e.g., netbsd [netbsd.org], openbsd [openbsd.org], Apache [apache.org], XFree86 [xfree86.org].

    Or just donate computers to Africa or somewhere.
  • > I very much doubt that a poor kid somewhere
    > unsure where their next meal is coming from
    > gives a flying fuck about whether software is
    > free or proprietary.

    He probably don't, but the world power structures determine whether his children may one day participate in an economic miracle like what happened to the SE Asian countries. IP will play a major role in these power structures in this century.
  • by jon_adair ( 142541 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2000 @07:34AM (#597111) Homepage

    Find a nearby ham radio club that actually does something like teach classes, visit schools, work with scouts, do disaster work, etc. They can always put money to good use like buying electronic kits for kids to build.

  • by lizrd ( 69275 ) <adam AT bump DOT us> on Tuesday November 28, 2000 @05:41AM (#597113) Homepage
    By your logic Microsoft is owned by NSI.
    Domain Name: MICROSOFT.COM
    Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, INC.
    Whois Server: whois.networksolutions.com
    Referral URL: www.networksolutions.com
    Name Server: DNS4.CP.MSFT.NET
    Name Server: DNS5.CP.MSFT.NET
    Name Server: DNS7.CP.MSFT.NET
    Name Server: DNS6.CP.MSFT.NET
    Updated Date: 29-sep-2000

    as are Red Hat and /.

    Domain Name: REDHAT.COM
    Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, INC.
    Whois Server: whois.networksolutions.com
    Referral URL: www.networksolutions.com
    Name Server: NS2.REDHAT.COM
    Name Server: NS1.REDHAT.COM
    Updated Date: 13-nov-2000

    Domain Name: SLASHDOT.ORG
    Registrar: NETWORK SOLUTIONS, INC.
    Whois Server: whois.networksolutions.com
    Referral URL: www.networksolutions.com
    Name Server: NS1.ANDOVER.NET
    Name Server: NS2.ANDOVER.NET
    Updated Date: 08-feb-2000

    All that the Registrar line says is who got paid to register that domain name. The information you posted only indicated to me that AOL registered their domain name and hosts the site. Now, as it happens they are affiliated with AOL as can be seen here. [helping.org]
    _____________
  • Here in Charlottesville, there's an organization called Computers4Kids [computers4kids.net] that I've been volunteering with for the last couple of weeks. They take donated computer parts (mostly getting low-end Pentiums, 100-166MHz systems), and volunteers turn them into functional, solid machines. They're then given to children in low-income families that need computers for school. C4K even has a training lab and mentors to help teach the kids how to use their systems.

    There's no on-line cash donation system. (The cost of the e-commerce system, merchant account, CyberCash, etc., would be a little pricy.) But there is an address at the bottom of the front page of the site where a check or computer parts could be mailed.

    It's a good geek charity -- computer related, helps needy children, easy to donate something you might already have, but feels worthless to you. (That 2-year-old 3DFx or that ancient 800MB drive.) Computers4Kids may not be as worthy as starving children in Ethopia, but the program sure means a lot to the kids that it helps.

    -Waldo
  • i realize the american way is to write a check and forget about it, but consider giving some of your time and elbow grease as well. i help run a computer lab for an inner city community (http://agape.qis.net/ [qis.net] if one of the kids hasn't pushed the power button on the server again ;), and my experience has been that it's easy to find people to donate money and hardware, and much harder to find people willing to spend one afternoon a week teaching the kids to use the internet.

    as you're looking around for places to put your money, consider whether you could put yourself and your expertise there as well. you'll find that it's a lot more fun, and you get to see first hand whether the project you're contributing to is doing any good.
    --

  • This isn't technologically related, but for those geeks who are fans of capitalism, Trickle Up [trickleup.org] is a charity that provides small grants and loans to people in third world countries to start a business. They're about actually improving people's lives rather than just giving them enough to survive 'til tomorrow.

    Trickle Up [trickleup.org]
  • Exactly. Donate to some org that has educational programs for poor kids. This way you can help them become geeks.
  • by Blue Neon Head ( 45388 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2000 @07:39AM (#597131)
    No kidding. I always thought the primary source of geek charity was stupid tech IPOs ...
  • "...selfish Christian idea that the main purpose of charity is to save the soul of the giver, not to help the receiver." blah blah blah...

    Most people I know who find *any* motive to give do so to better the world, not just to unload cash and a guilty conscience. Most, in fact, take pride in skillfully making the difference they do to the betterment of the environment around them.

    On a small scale, we bathe, we place trash in the proper recepticals, we make our world a bit less intollerable, one action at a time. But a person with a Missionary Mindset has a larger vision of effectively improving some corner of the world.

    I for one like the 'geekaid' idea... On the surface, it may not sound like it will help close a rift between the haves and have-nots. But deeper, it profoundly impacts the earth if hardworking freeware engineers are adequately funded to empower the moneyless with technology... far more impact than handing a twenty to some hobo who would blow it all on booze and cancersticks.

    I'm a non-believer doing IT work for The Salvation Army [salvationarmy.org]. It's good to know that the purpose I serve has one of the world's lowest overheads in operating expenses, doing tons of underpublicized community work and Emergency Disaster Relief. Yet I think getting a credit card for LinuxFund [linuxfund.org] is just as effective a contribution, because it helps people (not unlike myself) who pour their life's blood and sweat into helping those who have less.

    "Back off, Romulan! I'm on a Mission From Kahless" --KwISt, the twistai guy }};-)

  • Get your priorities straight.
  • the "new Rolls Royce for me fund" ;-)
  • If I be modded down for my un-PC views on this, so be it.

    I hate to break it to you, but using a rational definition of political correctness, your views are as PC as it gets. "not all discimination is bigotry" "protect the children" "CYA in case something goes wrong" those views will get you onto the new york times or wall street journal op ed page, respectfully recieved at a state house hearing, and considered "moderate" and "tolerant" to boot. It is the ultamately politically correct way to oppose gay inclusion, and I applaud your completeness in hitting all the catch phrases.

    And of course, from those who use "PC" as a knee jerk insult for "liberal" or "progressive" you will also get applauded for your "bravery in making un-PC comments". Best of all worlds really.

    The logic, or lack thereof, of the comments themselves has been pretty well covered by others, so I won't belabor it.

    -Kahuna Burger

  • Or perhaps the global economy is such that only mega-corporations farming on a large scale with high-tech equipment and fertilizers and pesticides can even make farming an affordable practice.

    Sorry, but I just can't believe you thought about that and wrote it down -- either that or I'm grossly misinterpreting your statement. Did I read that farming is no more efficient now than it once was, but rather that the reason that there are less farmers is because individuals can no longer afford to farm? The reason people farm is because the food they create is needed -- because otherwise there would be a shortage, raising the price of what they create. If less people can afford to farm, that's because less people are needed to farm to fill the demand. I think that's a good thing.

    Consider: if under corporate management (with their high-tech equipment and fertilizers and pesticides) each individual farmer can create 25 times more food than he or she could alone, I think that's a Good Thing. Personally, I don't want food to be expensive. If 50% of the world's people have to work to create food, that food is damn expensive -- not necessarily in terms of money, but in terms of the number of people who could otherwise be following different pursuits.

    The less people who are farming, the more people we have who can be artists or inventors or doctors -- and trust me, if 50% of the population were still tied up in producing food, we'd have a lot less of all of those. We have real, genuine progress -- now be happy!

  • They should replace the word 'reverent' with the word 'tolerant.'

    Actually, I do believe 'tolerance', as the term is most often used, is already covered by the Scout Law. A Scout is Friendly, Courteous, and Cheerful. No qualification given about to whom one should be Friendly, Courteous, and Cheerful. The Scout Law applies when dealing with anyone under the sun.

    The problem with adding 'tolerant' to the Scout Law is that the Scout would have to be tolerant of everything, with no limit, to truly follow the Law... and there are many things which should not be tolerated. Murder. Rape. Abuse. You get the idea.

    Reverence, however, is, I think, a worthy quality, even for an atheist. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, reverence is 'honor or respect felt or shown', no mention of religion despite the common social implication, and respect goes hand-in-hand with tolerance.

    I'm tempted to get into a rational argument for respect for 'God and country' as presented by the Boy Scouts, but the closest I've ever gotten to theological study is reading books by better writers than I. Therefore, I must refrain. I will note, however: If parents don't wish to bring their kids up with a belief in duty to God and country, there are other organizations. It is the parent's choice. The difference between a code of ethics and a rule of law is that one -chooses- the code of ethics, by one's behavior and by the organizations, professional or otherwise, that one joins.
    ---
  • We had blessings for meals and the like in my troop, but it was all very non-denominational, and applicable to any religion.

    I remember an anecdote I recently heard. Perhaps I can liven up this intense topic and give a few folks a nice chuckle.

    The Scouts and Leaders in my troop were having their yearly weekend planning retreat. (This was after I had gone off to college). At the time, the troop had a young lad serving as Chaplain's Aide. He was asked to think up a blessing before the evening meal, but he was quietly cautioned to make it 'generic', as one family in the troop is Jewish. Meaning, of course, that it would be rude to refer to Jesus, or Mary, or the Trinity, or any other Strictly Christian beliefs.

    Well, this kid thought long and hard about it. And when the evening meal came, he was called upon to give this blessing he had been contemplating.

    He began with, "To whom it may concern...."

    The adult Leaders did manage to keep straight faces, thank goodness.

    ---
  • Why, aren't there enough of us already? Are you aware that every new geek diminishes your chances at a job?

    Note to moderators, taking this post seriously is about as stupid as donating to the "Help Bill Gates through the Winter" charity, OK?
  • Yes. How about donating to http://www.heifer.org/ -- they have a phenomenally low overhead-to-help ratio. Unlike most "charity" organizations, it appears that Heifer actually puts most of its money toward the poor, instead of lining management's pockets.


    --
  • Here's what I do. When times are good for me and my consulting business (as they have been this year), I go down to the local mall where they set up a tree with wishes from poor children who would otherwise not get any toys for Christmas. I then look for the one card from some child who wants something relatively outrageous, like (one year) a Playstation and a bunch of games.

    I then buy it for him or her.

    I figure it's like this: the children who make those wishes are told to keep them small (like around $15-$20), because the bigger the wish, the less likely they are to get them. And there is always one kid who bucks the system, who wants something big, and who would rather wish what he/she wants and run the risk of not getting it, than wish for something small he/she doesn't want.

    Bucking the system in that sort of way is what (to me) being a geek is all about. And so I go down to the mall when I can and reward small children, to get them started on a road where they wish big and act big and build big things.

    If you can afford to buy a computer for a small child who wishes for one, do so! We need people who wish for things they're told they cannot have, and who learn to act on those wishes rather than be told "you can't have that, you insolent child."
  • While donating to geek interests seems interesting, I think I'd rather give to something with a little bit more impact than a dot.org of some sort. If you are interested in doing something with a "greater" cause this Christmas - and of course tax season - check out something like donating your older equipment, or even newer equipment to some of the less well off, technologically (and probably otherwise), countries.
    No guarantees but Friends of the Third World [friendsoft...dworld.org] looks like it might be a good place to start.
    Happy Holidays all...
  • I think you're creating a false problem by assuming that political = bad and charity = good. I agree that greenpeace is political, I also think that it is a good cause. And yes, "wanting to stop people from being tortured" is completely political, even if I agree with it. Its an action for political or social change.

    Imagine a man has been beaten in the street. Going up and giving him first aid is charitable. Finding out that he was beaten for being part of a religious minority and starting an education effort to reduce such prejudice is political, but in a social action way that will still get you a charitable deduction. Starting a lobbying group to make police be more proactive in preventing such crimes is political and non-tax deductable. Non of these things is bad, or selfish, or power seeking, or any of the other bad ideas people sometimes associate with "politics". Its just a different way of helping in the long term.

    Some kinds of aid can have political implications or effects, but that doesn't make them political rather than charitable. It may reduce their effectivness, however, creating the need for political as well as purely charitable work in that particular instance.

    Perhaps I'm being dogmatic, and sorry if I am, but I work with donate to or get solicited for dozens of different organizations, and I can't think of one campaign that I have any difficulty classifying on a politcal vs charitable basis, except those raising money for more than one action. Your examples of greenpeace or amnesty international make me think perhaps you are taking political to mean partisan, or somesuch, but I don't mean it that way. There's a saying in the gay rights feild "the personal is political" its not talking about getting one candidate elected, or one party, or one particular law, its talking about broad social action and change. This is the way I mean political (though some political groups are clearly narrower in focus.)

    -Kahuna Burger

  • > charity is something you should do because you
    > want to

    I find this line of reasoning disgusting. A starving child in Africa don't care about the motivation for donating the money to buy food. The only reason the motivation should matter, is the selfish Christian idea that the main purpose of charity is to save the soul of the giver, not to help the receiver.

    This Christian mindset causes an unknown amount of tradegy every year, when followers of it fight the use of alternative efficient motivations for giving charity. Only charity given "for the goodness of the heart" is valuable in saving the givers soul.

    BTW: A donation to EFF or FSF is likely to do a lot more good to the poor people than the more direct charities. The EFF and FSF fight the establishing of a new global aristocracy based on ownership of interlectual property, which will prevent the poor country from ever entering the new economy.
  • by Peter Eckersley ( 66542 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2000 @02:14AM (#597182) Homepage
    Hi...

    (disclaimer - I am Computerbank's publicity officer :)

    Computerbank is an Australian charity which recycles second hand computers, installs Debian on them, and gives them to people who would otherwise be unable to afford one.

    We also provide a lot of training, covering both introductory system usage and more in-depth material for people hoping to get a shot at an IT career.

    Computerbank has been existence for a couple of years, and is beginning to get some serious organisational momentum.

    (see .sig for more info :)

  • by w00ly_mammoth ( 205173 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2000 @02:16AM (#597186)
    The ethics of giving is a rarely considered subject. Generally, most donations are made irrationally, and often to satisfy the ego or personal preference of the donor.

    Consider real ethical questions - if you were to donate $100, and if it were to save a life, would you instead give it to a school charity to buy a 17 inch monitor to replace a 15 inch one? Then comes the question of how you know you're really saving lives, or making a difference.

    The sad thing is, people are pretty stupid. They give donations to charities which advertise on TV or which seem hip or trendy (thereby paying for the salaries of marketing execs who make a living off starving kids).

    If you REALLY want to make a difference, why not spend a few minutes researching the subject (like you do with technical FAQs) and find out for yourself some tiny third world grass-roots organization that does genuine work, instead of the huge charities that are already well known and command millions in input revenue?

    w/m
  • >> the selfish Christian idea that the main
    >> purpose of charity is to save the soul of the
    >> giver, not to help the receiver

    > Sigh, another go at 'all X are Y' to which
    > I am going to say. 'No, some X are Y'

    That an idea is Christian, does not imply that all Christians subscribe to it. It just mean that the idea is derived from a Christian context. Although I can understand why you chose to assume the former, it is much easier to accuse me of bigotry, rather than argue against my point, that the moral focus on the donaters motivation causes less donaters, thus hurting the receivers.
  • I'm not sure it's the most worthy recipient of your Christmas contributions, but the Long Now Foundation [longnow.org] is an interesting organization that seeks to raise awareness of very long-term planning issues.

    Their centerpiece project is the Clock of the Long Now, a clock with an extremely long period, made to last 10,000 years. The idea is to make it a destination that will inspire visitors to think about their place in time and their responsibility to the future.

    Very interesting project.

    -

  • How about an educational organization, like PBS, or the Nat'l Science Foundation? Shows like Sesame Street, Nova and Bill Nye will help create the geeks of tomorrow.
  • You're either trolling or preaching to the choire. Yeah, yeah, the world is a bad place. Yeah, yeah, there's nothing we can do about it. Yeah, yeah, let's spend our lives posting to /. in the general assumption until we die in the sure knowledge that we have made no impact whatsoever on the world as we know it.

    There's just one thing that puzzles me about your post. Is it supposed to depress me enough to shoot myself, or do you want me to become angry enough to come over to shoot you? Now if you'll just excuse me, some of us still live under the illusion that giving a homeless person his first meal in two weeks might actually make that person feel slightly more happy for a little while...
  • No, giving to different charities is not mutually exclusive, but if your goal really is to do the most people the most good, then I bet it would be best to give to the traditional feed-the-starving, house-the-homeless, cure-the-diseased type of charities.

    I work for one of those traditional charities, so of course I believe them to be valuable. But there is a role for all of these organizations, and we shouldn't shut any of them out just because they don't deal in food and medicine. Civil society is a rich tapestry, and is not just about canned goods for the poor. Single-minded giving does not serve society well, and something people often forget is that the poor -- today's and tomorrow's -- are part of society, too.

    My wife and I give to charities of the other's choosing for Christmas, and for the record, I'm having her give to EFF this year. I feel good about that choice. Not because I am not familiar with plenty of other worthy causes, or because I think poor Bangladeshi kids care about DeCSS, but because the EFF deals with important issues, issues that are important to wider society but that few of us are passionate about or equipped to really understand.

    It's like historic preservation. I don't know anything about historic preservation, but when I go to a new place and explore its historic sites, I benefit from preservation. Not just because the sites are enjoyable, but because they present a learning experience and helps me think about my place in the vastness of history, and that has an effect on my life as a whole. So while I will probably never give a dime toward historic preservation, I am glad that others are passionate about it and give generously toward it, even though it may seem like a relatively frivolous and middle-class pursuit.

    -

  • On the surface, giving money to traditional charities seems much more worthy -- they deal with life and death situations, after all. However, upon reflection, they may in fact be less worthy because starvation, ethnic cleansing etc., are not in fact the result of lack of money but the result of corrupt bigoted governments. Giving money has essentially no effect on the situation because the corrupt governments will never let the aid get to the people who need it. In the modern age, "famines" are generally artificial and are weapons that governments use against their own people. What the oppressed people need in such countries is revolution, not charity.

    On the other hand, giving money to the EFF (or the World Wildlife Fund, etc.) can be more effective, because while their goals maybe seem less important than stopping starvation, their goals are of the type that can be accomplished by the hiring of lobbyists and lawyers -- and that *is* just a matter of money.
  • I find this line of reasoning disgusting. A starving child in Africa don't care about the motivation for donating the money to buy food. The only reason the motivation should matter, is the selfish Christian idea that the main purpose of charity is to save the soul of the giver, not to help the receiver.

    No, they don't care about the reason for the donation. But how can you claim that it is disgusting for people to want to help people less well off than themselves? And where did Christianity come into all of this? Sorry, but when I give to charity it is because it will help someone else, and the fact that I feel good is incidental.

    This Christian mindset causes an unknown amount of tradegy every year, when followers of it fight the use of alternative efficient motivations for giving charity. Only charity given "for the goodness of the heart" is valuable in saving the givers soul.

    I'm not saying that using charity as a tax break is a bad thing, just that it is fairly pathetic when it is the only reason that people donate to charity, and if they didn't get something for it they wouldn't bother.

    You don't seem to mind people getting money for it, but you do mind people feeling good about it. Why is this? Do you value money over altruism?

    BTW: A donation to EFF or FSF is likely to do a lot more good to the poor people than the more direct charities. The EFF and FSF fight the establishing of a new global aristocracy based on ownership of interlectual property, which will prevent the poor country from ever entering the new economy.

    Rubbish. There are countries where they still lack the basic infrastructure to support the kind of services that make organisations like these possible. I really don't think donating money to RMS's personal crusade is going to do anything for people desparately in need of food and water in Ethiopia. Free software really isn't that important.

  • Two summers ago, the Ethiopians actually donated drinking water to the English (granted, as a stunt organised by Mark Thomas [channel4.co.uk] - the UK's Michael Moore [michaelmoore.com]). Despite half the country being flooded for six months of the year [bbc.co.uk], it only takes six weeks of no-rain for our resevoirs to run dry [bbc.co.uk].

    You want a geek charity? Give something back to the country that built (arguably) the first modern computer [codesandciphers.org.uk]. Send bottles of Evian to Yorkshire Water [yorkshirewater.co.uk] and help them prepare for the suprise of next summer.

    Yorkshire Water Services Ltd.,
    PO Box 306,
    Bradford,
    BD1 5SU

  • You could probably find a rational argument for respect for country. You would find it harder to find a rational argument for respect of god. A historical argument for respect based on the contribution of religion to culture would have to somehow deal with the negative aspects of religion to come out with a net positive, and that could very well be difficult.

    Your argument that tolerance should be all encompassing, even to criminals, is unsupported. It is especially unpersuasive when you imply that friendliness, cheerfulness, and courtesy might not be extended to murderers. Certainly the murderer would consider me downright unfriendly, uncheerful, and uncourteous when I call the police on him!

    Your point on reverence is well taken, so how about adding tolerant right after the word reverent? (subject to the same limits with regards to murderers as the word 'friendly' is)

  • Computer Aid International (if you're in the UK) http://www.cit.org.uk/ [cit.org.uk]. They recycle computers for other charities, get them out to developing countries as well as the UK, and create jobs to do this work - working wih local job training schemes, as well as volunteers.

  • Help penguins caught in oil spills.

    SANCOOB [sanccob.org.za] South African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds.

  • Tax deduction. Nuff said.

    Well the tax deduction doesn't fully make up for your donation unless of course you are close enough to drop brackets, otherwise it makes it a little less painful

    If you don't want to give don't, but I believe that the money I earn is in part paid for in some way or another by the people of the world. By giving back to the community I support the people who support me

  • There's an old socialist idea that charity is a bad thing. There are many reasons for this, including that charity just patches up problems in stead of fixing them, and de-motivates people from helping themselves, which includes people who are oppressed. The fact that Republicans are always saying social programs should be replaced by charity, drives the point home, as it is the exact opposite of the leftist idea. The fact that, as the poster says, it is largely a tax dodge nowadays (in addition to be able to say you're giving back to the community) further drives it home. Or the Phillip Morris ads where they show Phillip Morris employees helping an old lady, or "they stopped making beer and bottled water?" or teach little black kids and whatnot - they neglect to mention that they're selling a product that they know to kill millions of people a year, and are now selling it abroad without warning labels. You'll never see that in their commercials though - I feel like barfing every time I see a commercial from a Fortune 500 company trying to convince me what loving, great people they are. Hype your toilet paper and macaroni and shut up.
  • This would actuly make quite a nice slashdot voting poll, on which organizations are most worthy / worth puting money towards they're projects.
  • If you mean geek related as in the useful promotion of technology, why not call the United Way or Boys and Girls Clubs. They often have computer related afterschool programs or at least would like the facilities to be able to start them. A lot of normal charities realize the potential of technology to help families, and especially children, of the American underclasses to overcome obstacles in their learning and economic situations. -Brent
  • by b0z ( 191086 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2000 @03:33AM (#597232) Homepage Journal
    I plugged this before elsewhere, but you could contact the people at http://www.africaspromise.org [africaspromise.org] if you want to donate money, computers, etc. I know the guy that is in charge of it and he took a bunch of computers this year and has people in Nigeria to train kids how to use them...also though, it pays for clothes, regular school supplies, food, first aid supplies, etc. And makes sure to actually buy the stuff for the kids and pay for their school tuition so the parents don't just use the money for themselves.

    All in all I think it's a decent charity. I have a few others that I give to, but they don't accept computers as far as I know.

  • What motivates people to donate to charity?
    To improve the world or some aspect thereof Id guess.
    I've earned my money and see no reason to share it with someone who hasn't.
    Well, parents give money to their children even though the children havent "earned it". I guess charity is in general just an extension of that to a larger and more anonymous group of people than your close relatives.
    Of course egoistic charity is also possible, somebody might for instance donate money for an enviromental cause due to fear of their island being flooded by the melting ice from the global warming.
    To me turning around and giving that away is odd, why not just go through less pain to begin with?
    I guess it is a trade-off. People hating their jobs and donating for charity at the same time seem to think that their donation is more worth than the pain they go through. There can be many reasons for this thinking.
    I think most charities would be better odd with donations of your time rather than of your money
    Im not so sure about that. Could be for instance that some computer professionals are better off earning money and donating them to somebody trained and skilled in working with kids rather than going out and working with kids themselves.
    I guess in most cases society is best off with people doing what theyre good at, not necessarily what they themselves find important.
    I assume this is also the reason for the mandatory "charity" youre giving through taxes, it allows better distribution of the resources when there is some central control.
  • by Aithlin ( 240570 ) on Tuesday November 28, 2000 @02:52AM (#597234)
    If you want to do something for an organization that is not a policy-based group (like EFF), may I suggest Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic [rfbd.org]? RFBD is a group in the United States which - using volunteer labor - records books and other written material so that blind and dyslexic people can have access to the same information. There are only 34 recording studios across the nation, usually in urban areas, and it requires a screening test and a weekly commitment to be a volunteer. However, RFBD is in desperate need of readers who can handle scientific and technical material. If you can't volunteer physically, they take cash too; they are starting to convert hundreds of thousands of audio tapes to CD-ROM and need to raise $35 million to do so and to upgrade the recording facilities. RFDB is the only organization that does this in the US. It is non-governmental and community based. If you care about giving back to the geek community in more than just a policy way, here's a way to help students and adults learn about technical subjects (as well as every other subject under the sun).
  • The Boy Scouts of America [scouting.org] seem to catch alot of guff, however they do support a boys curiosity and interest in learning. And not just about the outdoors. Just a thought. Droupou the Friendly Dwarven Warrior.
  • If youre interested in spaceflight, and want to help get the average Joe sixpack (you) there as soon as possible, consider donating to the X-Prize foundation. The foundation has set out a ten million dollar prize for the first vehicle that can successfully reach outer space with two people aboard and do it again within two weeks. Click here [xprize.org] for more information about joining.
  • > The message of Christianity is not that
    > you should do good works to save your soul.
    > In fact, it's quite the opposite.

    Correct, this is exeactly the problem I pointed out. To a Christian, the *motivation* matter more than the *action*. This leads to the disgusting mindset demonstrated by Dan Hayes, where he call it *tragic* that some people do the right thing (charity) for the wrong reasons (tax-deductions).

    The person receiving the charity is unlikely to care about the motivations. Only the actions count.
  • The URL is actually http://www.rfbd.org/
  • As a geek that makes contributions to standard charities, I at time want to give to charities that also represent *my* ideals. If the digital divide is something I'm twitchin' to get resolved (it isn't) then I want to locate charities that sponsor net-mobiles in inner cities. If population control is a big issue for me (it is) then I want to locate the charities that work on education and other preventative measures.

    These may not be 'geek charities' per-se but they are charites that geeks are interested in.

  • Isn't United Way like a clearing house many other different charities? You can give to them and let them dole it out how they see fit, or you can specify a percentage or amount to go to each partner/child program, or you can donate directly to that program.

    While it's nice to liberate information, I think it is just as geek-worthy to liberate people from poverty, starvation, disease, illiteracy, homelessness, etc. etc.
  • www.cauce.com
    Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail

    Saw this today while reading at adbusters.org:

    The biggest victory to date is a recent $2 million settlement for Earthlink, an Internet Service Provider. The loser was self-proclaimed "Spam King" Sanford Wallace, a man some estimate sends as many as 25 million bulk e-mails a day. At the vanguard of the Spam solution are those who are trying to enact meaningful anti-Spam legislation, such as the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail (CAUCE). You too can help by visiting the Coalition at www.cauce.org.

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