There are so many things to love about Stephen Colbert. For me, his unapologetic nerdiness is high on that list. His obviously large and tender heart is, too. These two impulses come together in this Critcal Role video, done as a fundraiser for Red Nose Day, dedicated to the fight against childhood poverty in America.
In the 52-minute one-on-one D&D adventure, Matt Mercer does a masterful job of taking Stephen, as the half-elf bard, Capo, and his bee sidekick, Eric, on a harrowing adventure in search of the Crimson Sphere of Generosity.
Besides the fun D&D adventure and the do-gooder intent of the episode, we also get to see Stephen play D&D for the first time in some 30 years. His joy and sense of wonder are palpable. He even has to stop to tell Matt how much he's freaking out as childhood memories of playing with friends overwhelm him. "I can feel the chest hairs growing as we speak," he jokes. At one point, Stephen laughs at one of Matt's colorful descriptions of a gory encounter with an undead beast. "I haven't heard the word ichor in over 30 years."
We also learn more about the origins of Stephen's gaming past. He was a Metamorphosis Alpha player before D&D and he got in on D&D early. He even says that he went to GenCon the year that the first AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide was released. And he admits that he still has his friend's copy (they got switched at the con) which was signed by Gary Gygax. Read the rest
Lots of folks continue to build fabulous creations out of LEGO well into adulthood. Others tire of it, as they do many of their other childhood belongings, at an early age. Both are fine. What's not OK is being a kid who, because of their parent's financial situation, doesn't know the joy of having a box full of LEGO to call their own. Given the years of imagination-stretching enjoyment the wee plastic blocks can bring into a life, that's a damn shame.
Here's what you can do to put a dent in this unfortunate state of affairs.
Lifehacker had a recent post on what to do with old LEGO, if you're not able to pass it down to a younger member of your family or hand it off to friends for their kids to mess around with. They mention that you can sell the blocks online but, better than this, there's organizations out there that specialize in putting LEGO bricks in needy hands:
Read the rest
Sites like Brick Recycler, The Giving Brick and Brick Dreams have launched in recent years in order to address the unique supply and demand problem presented by LEGOs. Each has its own requirements for donations, but in general they accept donations of LEGO bricks of all kinds: mixed up, all together, dirty or clean. Brick Recycler says it has “repurposed” more than 3 million LEGO pieces.
The groups clean and sort bricks and then donate them to children’s support groups, hospitals, daycare facilities and more. Some sell cleaned sets that were donated in order to pay for operations.
Here's a guide to the charities the Boingers support in our own annual giving. Please add the causes and charities you give to in the forums!
Friends of the Merril Collection
I'm on the board of the charity that fundraises for Toronto's Merril Collection, a part of the Toronto Public Library system that is also the world's largest public collection of science fiction, fantasy and related works (they archive my papers). Since its founding by Judith Merril, the Merril Collection has been a hub for creators, fans, and scholars. I wouldn't be a writer today if not for the guidance of its Writer in Residence when I was a kid. —CD
The Tor Project
The Tor anonymity and privacy tools are vital to resistance struggles around the world, a cooperative network that provides a high degree of security from scrutiny for people who have reasons to fear the powers that be. From our early hominid ancestors until about ten years ago, humans didn't leave behind an exhaust-trail of personally identifying information as they navigated the world -- Tor restores that balance. —CD
Because we deserve health care, including reproductive, gender, and sexual health care. Because access to birth control and safe abortion is a human right. Because Trump's regime wants to destroy all of this. —XJ
Software Freedom Conservancy
Software Freedom Conservancy does the important, boring, esoteric work of keeping the internet from tearing itself to pieces, playing host organization to free software projects like Git, Selenium and Samba (to name just three). Read the rest
Irene O'Shea of Athelstone, Australia just broke the world record for the oldest female skydiver. She's 102 years old. This isn't her first jump though. This badass centenarian started two years ago when she turned 100.
Sunday's skydive, which broke the world record, "went smoothly," SA Diving said, describing her as "an absolute joy to have in the dropzone."
O'Shea's daughter died of motor neurone disease years ago, according to SA Diving. She saw this year's skydive as the "perfect opportunity" to raise money and awareness for the Motor Neurone Disease Association of South Australia.
O'Shea jumped from 14,000 feet at SA Skydiving's Langhorne Creek Dropzone with instructor Jed Smith, a 24-year-old paramedic who she made her previous jumps with. The pair fell at about 136 mph before the parachute was deployed, according to SA Skydiving.
(VICE) Read the rest
Indicating in your will that you want to leave some money to a charity that reflects the values you were passionate about is a fine gesture.
Living a life of frugality so that you can leave a ridiculous amount of money to charity once you're gone: that's next level philanthropy. Read the rest
Giving generously to an important cause is cool. Y’all know what’s cooler? Giving generously to an important cause and, as a result, becoming the proud owner of a gorgeous piece of comic book art.
Cat Staggs — the co-creator of Crosswind and an artist on Wonder Woman ‘77 — was approached at a recent comic book convention and was commissioned by a fan, Danielle Van Lier, to throw together a gorgeous drawing of Wonder Woman. It was a sketch with a mission: to raise as much coin as possible for Immigrant Families Together. It’s a charity that focuses its efforts on improving the lives of families separated at America’s southern borders in the following areas:
• Raising funds through coordinated crowdfunding and individual giving in order to post bond for parents separated from their children
• Paying bonds and providing pro bono legal representation to fulfill all legal responsibilities while awaiting trial so that they may be with their children
• Arranging safe transportation from state of detention to the city where children are currently in foster care
• When needed, finding long-term housing in the destination city while they await trial
• Connecting parents with resources in order to sustain them during the process of being unified with their children
• Working with local organizations and government to expedite the process of achieving full custody of their children while they await trial
Given the shitty way that the Trump administration has been treating families seeking safe harbor from the dangers of their homes, this is vital work. Read the rest
I can't believe that it's been five years since the final episode of Breaking Bad hit the air. I also can't believe that I could be having breakfast with Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston, thanks to this fun new contest from Omaze.
By making a donation, you'll not only be giving to two exceptional causes--The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Kind Campaign--you'll also have the chance to cook AND nosh the most important meal of the day with Cranston and Paul in the RV from Breaking Bad. What's not to like?
Oh, one thing... Not everyone who lives in an RV has to shit in a bucket. I'm just saying. We have bathrooms. Also, ditches and bushes. Read the rest
In 1986, a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, located near the Ukrainian town of Pripyat, lost its shit. Flaws in the reactor's design caused a steam explosion, resulting in a fire that spewed plumes of radioactive material into the atmosphere. The Soviet government mobilized its armed forces to evacuate the area surrounding the accident site where the risk to human life was the greatest. Families were forced on to buses and military transports with little more than the clothes on their backs. Without exception, the evacuees were forced to leave the pets behind. There was simply no time, or space, to include them in the rescue. Later the same year, Soviet troops were sent into the 30-mile wide Chernobyl exclusion zone to cull what animals they could find left still alive. Live stock, wildlife and deserted family pets were eliminated.
But they didn't get them all.
Largely free of people for over three decades, the exclusion zone has become something of a haven to a thriving (albeit, irradiated, in some cases) miscellany of wild animals. Most heartening of all, the dogs who survived the '86 cull, bred, increased their numbers exponentially and survived. As work began on a new, permanent include to house the still radioactive ruins of Chernobyl's number four reactor, many of the descendants of the abandoned, domesticated pooches began showing up at the construction site, looking for scraps and refuge from the wolves and other predators that pray on them in the wild. The workers at the Chernobyl site began making a habit to save scraps from their meals for the dogs. Read the rest
The anonymous Bitcoin philanthropist behind the Pineapple Fund
donated nearly 60 Bitcoins, approximately $1 million, to the psychedelics research and advocacy group Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS).
"The Pineapple Fund's outstanding generosity exemplifies how the growth of cryptocurrency can be leveraged for profound social change," says MAPS Founder and Executive Director Rick Doblin, Ph.D. "The blockchain community is helping to lead the way, not only in decentralized technologies and currencies, but in giving the gift of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to the world in order to heal trauma and bring greater compassion to psychiatry and medicine."
The philanthropist, known as Pine, has also:
• Donated $1 million to Watsi, an impressively innovative charity building technology to finance universal healthcare.
• Donated $1 million to The Water Project, a charity providing sustainable water projects to suffering communities in Africa
• Donating $1 million to the EFF, defending rights and privacy of internet users, fighting for net neutrality, and far far more
• Donated $500k to BitGive Foundation, a charity building projects that leverage bitcoin and blockchain technology for global philanthropy.
Previously: "An anonymous person with $86 million in bitcoin is giving it to charity" Read the rest
FixNation is a nonprofit working to reduce the feral cat population. To raise funds, they commissioned cool cat shelters from prominent Los Angeles architecture firms, then auctioned the structures like Flora-Gato in the video for charity. Read the rest
The hairy-faced gents of the Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club are raising money for a mental health charity by posing as mermen for this 2018 MerB’ys calendar.
Read the rest
Calendar proceeds are going to Spirit Horse NL, a group that offers support to people with mental health issues via therapeutic interaction with horses. "They're desperately in need of funds and awareness because it's expensive to raise and upkeep horses," says Hasan Hai, who founded the [club]. He knew instinctively this was a challenge fit for the MerB'ys. "I figured right away that this is a cause our club can get behind." Once they had a charity to champion, finding willing men with facial hair did not prove problematic. Hai says he was immediately inundated with at least seventy beardos more than keen to get fishy for the fund raising initiative.
...One happy byproduct of the initiative is that they're also getting to challenge some persistent gender norms.
Hai says rolling around as MerB'y has allowed him and the other MerB'ys a wholly "different take on what manliness and masculinity looks like." He says the response has been largely positive. "People blowing kisses at one another, guys holding hands, being whimsical and silly – it's a lot of fun." That the project ended up "poking a lot of holes at traditional gender roles and stereotypes" was a bonus. As was some added body confidence. Stripping down for charity has made the founder feel more at home in his own skin (and scales).
Star Wars has teamed up with Omaze to raise money for Starlight Children’s Foundation and UNICEF. Read the rest
On Monday, Goodwill workers in Monroe, Washington opened a donated cooler and found five bags of weed inside. (That's 60 times the amount that's legal to possess in Washington.) If the donation was intentional, that's some very good will. However, Debbie Willis of the Monroe Police Department said that the stash is currently "waiting yearly burn of that type of evidence."
"There are many people on social media claiming it's theirs, but we have yet to have one walk through the door," she told CNN.
Read the rest
A guide to the charities we support in our own annual giving.
A guide to the charities we support in our own annual giving.
And now a word from my pal Dave Pell, managing editor of the Internet and author of the essential daily read NextDraft, who urges us to vote for 826 Valencia in the Google Impact Challenge:
Read the rest
They say that a rising tide lifts all boats. Well, that’s a bunch of bullshit.
We’ve got a rising tide in San Francisco. The tech industry has brought thousands of people and billions of dollars to these forty nine square miles. Traffic is thick with Teslas. The WiFi is stuffed with startups. Times are good.
Except where they’re not.
A few short blocks away from that tide where companies like Twitter are revolutionizing the information age, the kids in the Tenderloin are walking the same bleak blocks many of their parents walked when they were kids.
Like so many of you, I’ve benefited greatly by being at the right place at the right time with the right opportunities. But I’ve also seen the kids who are not benefiting — even a little — from Internet gold rush.
That’s not right. But it’s not going to change by itself. It’s going to take great organizations like 826 Valencia. I’m on the board, and I can vouch that the folks there know how to lift kids up, to inspire them, to teach them to write well, to feed their curiosity, to let them dream. They’ve been doing it for years, ever since Dave Eggers and others started the organization.
And now we’re bringing 826 to the Tenderloin.
If you're at the World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane today, swing by the SFWA booth (W5 in dealers' room) to bid on tuckerizations from Annie Bellet, Jenn Brozek, Cory Doctorow (!), Greg Bear, Larry Niven, Mike Resnick, John Scalzi, and a critique from Nancy Kress. Read the rest