The Best Stuff We've Read This Week

Articles on neoliberalism, Chernobyl, nuclear testing, the Heimlich maneuver and more interesting stuff

I was reading a BBC article about the Desarmes family, who either consider themselves extremely lucky or incredibly unfortunate, considering they lived in Port Au Prince in January when the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti. So they left their home to go stay with another member of the family -- who lives in Santiago, Chile. They arrived just in time to survive the 8.8 magnitude quake that crushed Chile on February 27. Having spectacularly failed statistics in college and passing only after negotiating my release with the professor, I can't even begin to calculate the odds of being in two places where major earthquakes took place six weeks apart. (If you know how to, let me know; I'm very curious how one would come up with that probability). Despite adopting Disraeli's lies, damn lies and statistics philosophy as a defense mechanism, I must admit there are some pretty cool stories of people inadvertently carving out a place for themselves in the narrow margins that make up the hinterlands of probability.

The Hidden Fees of Helping Haiti

The outpouring of aid to Haiti following the earthquake that left the country even worse off than it is normally is heartening. Thanks to our lightning-fast telecom infrastructure, we can send $10 to Red Cross relief efforts on the ground just by texting "Haiti" to 90999. We can also hop onto any number of sites, including Whitehouse.gov which is serving as a kind of clearing house for relief organization's contact info, and send money via credit card. And just as 21st century as being able to help someone you've never met using your iPhone is major corporations skimming off the top for their own profit. The Consumerist published a post about AT&T and Sprint maintaining their standard fees for the texts, while T-Mobile and Verizon opted to waive them for Haiti donations.