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.


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.