Is philanthropy heroic?

Yeah, so Lance Armstrong is a jerk. He won seven Tour de France races, but has just not-admitted that he won them all with the help of performance enhancing drugs. He used those wins to fuel a shockingly successful endorsement career, and used that money to fuel a shockingly widespread philanthropic effort.

Oh, and he beat cancer, too. (Before he won all the Tours de France, mind you.)

The Livestrong Fondation’s donations to cancer research are estimated at $470 million by Forbes. Charity Navigator rates the organization very highly, higher than any other cancer charity in the country. It’s a good organization, and it would not exist if Lance Armstrong had not won all those races.

So he’s a cycling hero, who has crashed off that bike. He was a sports hero, and now, he is not.

But, does his philanthropic work make up for that? Is he Robin the Hood, not the storybook character, but the real outlaw, killing and stealing for some Other Good? Did he bilk his sponsors out of millions, cheating his way into their coffers, in order to use that money and fame to build the Lance Armstrong Foundation?

And is that so bad?

Honestly, I don’t know. Cheating is bad. Giving is good. Cheating corporations is, well, not as bad. Lying to kids, however, is pretty bad. Giving hope to millions of cancer patients (some of them kids, some of them cycling fans)? Undoubtedly good.

Personally, I’m not so broken up about his cheating in the bike races, but I am not a huge cycling fan. My mother is in remission from cancer, and I appreciate anything the Livestrong Foundation’s $470 million might have indirectly had to do with her treatment.

So yeah, regardless of what I think of Lance Armstrong, I think philanthropy is heroic. And I think Lance Armstrong may have come to the same conclusion.

The Lawrence Festival of Trees

This was a while ago… about a month now (the end of November) but still fun. Every year (we’re only getting to know the holiday events) The Shelter (a local kids and family charity) hosts the Lawrence Festival of Trees. People decorate trees and donate them, then other people (mostly businesses) bid on them at auction, and the proceeds go to The Shelter.

There is a suggested donation for the public to come and see the trees, which we did. Our baby was probably overwhelmed (if you can’t keep ’em quiet, dazzle them with crowds and flashing lights), but our four-year-old thought it was pretty fun. He especially liked the upside down tree. Next year, we hope to see the gingerbread house competition across the street, too.

Some of the trees were very gaudy, and some of them were especially clever. I took photos of the ones that caught my eye, and you can see them below. One in particular, a carousel themed tree, was very cool. The movie below is of that tree.

Enjoy!

The photos on Flickr

What the people want: gassy dogs, speakers, and snowflake charities

My stats package for this site keeps track of what search terms people have used to find this site. So far, nothing scurrilous has crossed my shores, but three old posts have been dredged up by visitors.

  1. Someone from Israel searched for “novo loudspeakers” and came up with my post on the second time I was approached in the street by someone wanting to unload some hot speakers: “Hey buddy, wanna buy some speakers?”
  2. Another person was looking for “robertssnow” and found my post on Robert’s Snowflake, a cool little charity that sells unique snowflake ornaments by illustrators.
  3. Finally, someone was searching for “gassiest dog” and found a post from 2004 about a company (now defunct) selling a dog gas prevention product. They had a survey-produced list of the ten gassiest dog breeds, and poodles were sixth on the list.

I just thought you’d like to know.