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Giving no-strings-attached money to the world's poorest produces remarkably good results

The Economist details outcomes from Give Directly, an organization that analyzes satellite photos to identify the poorest places in the world and then hands over no-strings-attached cash grants to the people who live there. It's a contrast to other programs, where donations are funneled into school construction or funding planned-out businesses. Give Directly has produced remarkably good results: "In randomly selected poor households in 63 villages that have received the windfalls, they say, the number of children going without food for a day has fallen by over a third and livestock holdings have risen by half. A year after the scheme began, incomes have gone up by a quarter and recipients seem less stressed, according to tests of their cortisol levels."

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Escape Pod, Podcastle and Pseudopod podcasts need your help

Escape Artists, the nonprofit that runs excellent sf/f/h podcasts like Escape Pod, Pseudopod, and Podcastle, is in financial trouble. You can help!

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Public Resource kickstarting free, open publication of the world's safety standards

We've written often about Carl Malamud, the rogue archivist who has devoted his life to making the world's laws, standards, and publicly owned information into free, accessible, beautiful online documents. Now, I'm pleased to help him launch an ambitious, vital Kickstarter project aimed at raising at least $100,000 to turn the world's public safety codes into thoroughly linked, high-quality HTML documents (presently, many of the 28,040 public safety codes that Carl and public.resource.org have put online exist as scanned bitmaps that can't be searched or linked). The project involves a careful re-typing of all that scanned material and re-tracing of images and formatting them as vector-based SVG files.

Carl and his colleagues have fought in the courts for their right to publish the law that we, the people, are expected to follow. They have passed on lucrative careers in the private sector to devote themselves to public interest, public spirited work that makes the sourcecode for the world's governments available at our fingertips. The work they are doing unlocks untold billions in value -- from being able to ensure that your weekend DIY rewiring project meets code and won't burn down your house, all the way up to giving workers in deadly factories in Bangladesh access to the laws that are supposed to be honored in their workplaces.

$115 gets you a copy of their giant, amazing book of global safety standards, but there are interesting and awesome premiums at price-ranges from $10 (public acknowledgement on the Wall of Safety) to $475 (the Big Box of Propaganda!). I've put in my $115 -- not for the book, but as a way to thank Carl and co for the amazing work they do, and as a means of funding more of it. I hope you'll give, too.

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Kickstarting Hacker Scouts' hackerspace for kids

Samantha Cook sez, "Hacker Scouts, a nonprofit organization based in Oakland CA, has launched a Kickstarter to fund a new hackerspace designed for kids and their families. Due to the increase in demand for their programs, Hacker Scouts is working with local partners to build a space that is practical and exciting where they can run classes and workshops, support outreach programs to Oakland's diverse community, and continue to prototype programs and activities that they release open source to the global community. Hacker Scouts has been successfully bringing STEAM Education and real, relevant skill building for over a year and have grown from one program in Oakland to over 30 programs all over the US. In order to continue the high level of individualized learning and mentorship, they need a space that matches their growth. Please support Hacker Scouts by donating and/or sharing this project. More information can be found on the Hacker Scouts website and on our Kickstarter page."

Hacker Scouts got written up here recently when the Boy Scouts of America threatened to sue them over the use of the word "scouts" in their name.

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Save the Castro's Theater's mighty Wurlitzer!


A reader writes, "The Mighty Wurlizter at San Francisco's Castro Theatre is in danger of being sold. There is an attempt being made to purchase the Wulitzer and upgrade some needed elements. The organ at the Castro is a beloved San Francisco treasure, it would be a pity to lose it!"

Amen. This is one of San Francisco's great, underappreciated attractions, along with the Musee Mechanique and Alcatraz. It needs saving.

Join Us in Preserving a San Francisco Musical Tradition

Clarion Write-a-Thon: sponsoring writers to raise money for the Clarion science fiction and fantasy workshop

I've just signed up for the Clarion Write-a-Thon, an annual fundraiser that brings in money to run the non-profit Clarion Writers Workshop, a kind of bootcamp for science fiction writers held every year at UCSD's La Jolla Campus. I'm a Clarion grad, volunteer board-member, and I'm back teaching the program this year, so I guess you could say I believe in it pretty strongly. Here's my profile on the Write-a-Thon, should you wish to sponsor the story I'm working on (it's a short called "The Man Who Sold the Moon," about robotic 3D printers that sinter lunar regolith), and if you're working on something of your own, you can sign up and get your friends to sponsor you, too!

Clarion Write-a-Thon

Help send 15 kids from the Bronx to writing camp

Brad sez, "Fifteen high school students from the Bronx. Five dedicated teachers. A summer of learning that could change their lives -- and change the way kids learn all across America. This summer Paul Allison, (English teacher in the Bronx and co-founder of Youth Voices. the New York City Writing Project (NYCWP) at Lehman College, CUNY plan to host a free Youth Voices Summer Program. We need help to make this happen. We are nearly half way to a goal of $15K." Cory

Geeky tornado relief fundraisers

Alan sez, "Two items here on the same theme: Ruben Bolling, comic author of Tom The Dancing Bug, contributor to JoCo Funnies, etc. has a raffle posted on his blog. If you donate to the American National Red Cross through a page he has set up, you will be entered into a drawing for a personal comic from Bolling; Greg Pak, creator of the 'Code Monkey Save World' visuals and co-conspirator in the recent Kickstarter with Jonathan Coulton is offering free CMSW stickers to people who make a donation to any recognized organization helping tornado victims." Cory

My Little Pony fans successfully register a 501(c)3 charity for fannish good works

The Brony Thank You Fund spun out of a Reddit forum Indiegogo fundraiser for fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic ("bronies" and "pegasisters"). After raising money to run an ad thanking the show's creators for doing such a great job, the organizers donated the hefty excess balance to Toys for Tots. The project continued to gain momentum and it is now a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization through which fans of My Little Pony can make tax-free donations that will be funneled to worthy causes. They claim that they're the first media-related fandom to register as a charity -- I'm pretty sure that some science fiction conventions are run as 501(c)3s, though.

The Thank You Fund Enters a New Phase (via /.)

MIT student raises funds for young Boston bomb victim's family

Catherine sez,

On Monday, the Boston Marathon was bombed. On Monday night I was feeling blessed and thankful to not know anyone directly affected by the bombs. But on Tuesday morning I woke up to an email from my colleague Chris Peterson at the MIT Center for Civic Media. Chris's family are friends with the family who lost their son Martin in the attack. He sent us photos of he and his brothers playing with their children and the reality was all too close. It is devastating. This family will have a long road of healing in front of them that most of us cannot even begin to imagine.

My friends at MIT and I have spent the past couple of days helping Chris build a site to raise money for the Richard family. We are coordinating with St Marks Area Main Street, a non-profit community organization based in Dorchester, MA, where the family lives. The site is made with the support of the family and their spokesperson. 100% of funds raised goes to the family. Please give what you can. It's the very least we can do to come together in solidarity with these innocent people and help them to rebuild their lives in the wake of senseless violence. In the photo on the site Martin is holding a sign he made in school that says "Peace". Let us spread that peace.

The Richard Family Fund (Thanks, Catherine)

Save Noisebridge!

A reader writes, "Noisebridge, San Francisco's Hackerspace, is having some hard times, so we're throwing an epic benefit and party this Saturday, to include eclectic performers, interactive art, a raffle and more! For more details, if any BBers want to put on demos or ideas share them. Cory

Last day of fundraising for Parltrack - turning Parliamentary records into searchable databases

Stefan sez, "Amelia Andersdotter Pirate member of the European Parliament and members of European Digital Rights call for support and donation on the last day of the Parltrack fundraising campaign."

Fundraiser for the Public Domain Review

Adam sez, "The Public Domain Review is a not-for-profit project dedicated to showcasing the most interesting and unusual out-of-copyright works available online. We've been featured on Boing Boing before. We have just launched our fundraising campaign to try and keep the project alive."

Donate Now to Save The Public Domain Review!

London's FREEDOM anarchist bookstore firebombed


FREEDOM, a legendary anarchist bookstore in east London, was firebombed on Friday morning. This is the store that Peter Kropotkin helped found in the 19th century, and the home of a monthly newspaper that published Emma Goldman. No one was hurt, and no one seems to know who did it, or why. The store was uninsured.

They're having a community clean-up day today. I wish I could go, but it's my daughter's fifth birthday, so I'll be donating to the repair and rebuilding fund. This is a ghastly, senseless act.

The bookshop has been firebombed. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but there’s quite a lot of damage from both the fire and the water used to douse the flames.

If you’d like to help us sort out some of the mess, please come down to the shop on Saturday 2nd February from 1pm and give us a helping hand. See here for details.

We’re still assessing the damage, so watch this space for further news.

If you’d like help us out financially, cheques or postal orders made payable to Freedom Press can be sent to Freedom Press, 84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX.

You can also help by ordering books through our website here and then emailing us at subs@freedompress.org.uk to let us know that your purchase was a donation.

I can't say enough about what a tragedy this is. FREEDOM is an institution and an incredible bookstore.

Freedom firebombed

(Photo: International Times)

World SF Travel Fund fund-raiser

Lavie Tidhar writes, "We are now running the second World SF Travel Fund fund-raiser. The Fund was established in 2011 to help bring one or two international persons involved in science fiction, fantasy or horror to travel to a major genre event. The first recipient was Charles Tan from the Philippines, who travelled to the US for World Fantasy Con, and in 2012 we helped Swedish authors Nene Ormes and Karin Tidbeck travel to Toronto for the same convention. This year, we hope to help bring over to World Fantasy Con in Brighton two more guests, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, a writer from the Philippines now resident in the Netherlands, and Csilla Kleinheincz, a Hungarian-Vietnamese writer, editor and translator. We are looking to raise $3000 to help cover this and possibly next year." Cory