To lose a language is to lose a lot of cultural information. If we don’t preserve them, we’ll be left with much impoverished human heritage.Institute for Language Information and Technology Director Anthony Aristar • Speaking in supposrt of Google’s latest project, the Endangered Languages Project. ELP went live this week; it has “text, audio and video — such as people speaking or singing in the endangered languages - and bibliographic resources” of languages like Navajo and Koro. There are thousands of languages in danger of going extinct; this project aims to help preserve as many of them as possible. source (via • follow)
» Good, but still bouncing back: In 2007, charity giving hit a record $309 billion, which then took a nosedive with the economy, falling to $278.6 billion at the recession’s low point in 2009. While the number recovered in 2010 and 2011, it was the second-smallest recovery in charity giving since 1971. While giving was wide — 117 million households and 12 million corporations gave something last year — the rate, at 1.9 percent of income, was below the 2005 peak of 2.4 percent. Religious groups remained the biggest recipients of donations, but saw the total dip from 2010; international groups, however, saw their donations leap by 7.6 percent.
» And ringers are trying to break it. Bell ringers, such as San Francisco-based Salvation Army Capt. Marcelino “Butch” Soriano, are currently attempting to break the record. He aims to ring his donation bell for 48 hours. Why? ”If you’re going to go for a record,” Soriano said, “you might as well shatter it.” Tip to Mr. Soriano: Wear earplugs. Tip to people who pass by Mr. Soriano: Donate generously — you can afford it. You’re going to Macy’s, guys. Drop a couple bucks in.
» This on top of a long arrest earlier this year: Ai Weiwei spent 81 days in jail on tax evasion charges, but claims all authorities wanted to talk about was his pro-democracy record. The fine Ai has been forced to pay is more than three times the size of his tax bill — and he needs help paying. The surprising part is that he actually got said help. “It’s surprising; it has really changed my perspective on people,” he said, noting that people traveled long distances to give him financial help — in person. Ai prefers to think of the payments as loans, and turned down a $157,000 payment from a businessman, saying he preferred smaller loans.
» So far, so good for Obama: With a successful West Coast swing (helped in large part by an up-to-$35,800-a-plate dinner in San Diego), President Obama is well on his way to reaching his goal of $55 million in the third quarter of 2011, which Reuters claims is “a more modest total that they say reflects the fact he was stuck in Washington for most of July by a bitter budget debate with Republicans.” Sure, modest total.
» AT&T’s contributions = Rick Perry’s support? Back in May, Rick Perry told the FCC he backed the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. “I believe that this merger will continue to provide for great consumer choice, offer a wide range of service options, and spur continued innovation,” he wrote. He might’ve had a little help from those campaign contributions over the past decade. AT&T has a bit of a history of going out of its way to turn public favor its way, going so far as to bizarrely convince GLAAD to support the merger. With the Justice Department coming out against the merger and AT&T’s contributions to Perry coming under scrutiny, will Perry back down? (Strangely enough, BTW, the Justice Department’s James Cole made a statement that reads like the polar opposite of what Perry wrote: “We believe the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would result in tens of millions of consumers all across the United States facing higher prices, fewer choices, and lower-quality products for their mobile wireless services.” Hrm.)
» Yukiyo Edano says speed it up: Edano, the Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary, explained that the standard procedure is for independent panels throughout the prefectures to decide how to handle the money; basically, distribution at the local level. This can slow the whole process when these communities are in such disarray, though, which is why Edano believes the central government should set up an independent committee. The Red Cross, it bears mentioning, has sent over 200 crisis relief teams into stricken areas. And it must be said in the strongest possible terms that we don’t mean to discourage people who either have, or want to donate to Japan’s relief efforts. Rather, we think it’s worth understanding the functional realities that can hamstring those efforts. But the donations are nonetheless noble, vital, and necessary; none of this changes that.