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Jeff Bezos's $10 billion climate change donation is a boon for the planet—and for billionaires

Jeff Bezos's $10 billion climate change donation is a boon for the planet—and for billionaires

Over the weekend, Jeff Bezos—founder of Amazon and literally the richest man on Earth—announced on Instagram that he's launching the Bezos Earth Fund to fight climate change. More significantly, he's donating $10 billion to it as a start, stating, "This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world."


Before delving into the pros and cons of this donation, I'd like to acknowledge that Jeff Bezos's $10 billion pledge to tackle climate change is huge. Massively, stupendously huge. Since few of us are able to wrap our minds around how much money that really is, here's a comparison.

If you were to count $10 million at a dollar per second, it would take a little more than 115 days to count.

Change that to $10 billion, and it would take a little more than 115,000 days—or 316 years—to count.

Any time we're talking billions of dollars, we are in unfathomable-amount-of-money territory. By anyone's standards, $10 billion is an incredibly generous donation. As someone who has written about how little Jeff Bezos has given to charity in comparison to his wealth and rolled my eyes at people fawning over donations that are the equivalent of the average American giving pocket change, I give Bezos credit for loosening his giant-sized purse strings and putting his billions to use for humanity. Applause and kudos.

However...

We should all be wary about what the richest man in the world—or any multi-billionaire for that matter—does with unfathomable chunks of cash. The economics of the billionaire class impacts us all. Enormous wealth equals enormous power, so we shouldn't simply giving Bezos a thumbs up because he's offering up billions for a cause we all should care about.

Yes, this donation is historic and worthy of praise. And yes, we should also scrutinize it, unless we all feel comfortable letting a handful of elite billionaires wield their wealth in ways that will impact billions of people who have zero say in it.

THE PROS

Let's start with the positives here, because overall this donation is a good thing.

$10 billion is far more than Jeff Bezos has ever donated to anything, so yay him.

According to Vox, this pledge is approximately 7.5% of Bezos's net worth. Compared to the 0.1% he's donated in the past, this is a big step forward. (And yes, I'm one of those people who thinks billionaires owe the world a significant amount. No one becomes a billionaire without climbing on the shoulders of average people to get there, and

We need powerful people to take the climate crisis seriously, and this donation lends weight to it.

Jeff Bezos could throw $10 billion at any cause—medical research, hunger, education, what have you—but he's chosen climate change. That's a big deal. Not only will it hopefully help scientists and innovators do the research and development needed to solve environmental problems, but it also sends a message to the leaders of the world that this issue is where we need to be investing enormous resources. All of the world's problems will grow exponentially worse if we do not address the climate crisis now.

This amount of money might actually be enough to make a difference.

While it remains to be seen how this money will actually be used, Bezos's description of supporting scientists, activists, and NGOs that have proven to be effective sounds fantastic. Real solutions demand real funding, and $10 billion can go a long way toward innovative problem-solving.

THE CONS

While a generous donation overall a good thing, $10 billion is a powerful amount of money. Looking at it from various angles, there are some issues it brings up that we all should reflect on.

A handful of unelected billionaires shouldn't be in charge of the future of our planet.

I honestly find this donation as terrifying as it is exciting. I happen to be totally on board with mitigating climate change, but what if the world's richest man decided to throw his enormous wealth behind something nefarious? The fact that any one individual can put that much money behind anything that impacts the entire world should give us all pause. And especially on the climate change front, we need global, governmental action, not a single donor swooping in to save us all.

Such donations make it easier for the wealthy to argue against paying their fair share of taxes.

Let's not forget that Amazon itself not only paid $0 taxes in 2018, but actually received a $129 million federal tax refund from the government. Billionaires already pay less in taxes than the working class, and this kind of donation makes it far too easy to say, "See? It's okay for billionaires to not pay their share because they can be more generous with their money that way." Nevermind the fact that we're relying on the generosity of people who have already proven to be money hoarders.

The argument that governments can be inefficient with funds is totally legitimate. But is really better to have unelected individuals who have no responsibility or accountability toward the masses funding our global issues?

A wildly generous donation may tempt us to overlook problematic practices that made him a billionaire to begin with.

Many people have found it ironic that Bezos is putting all this money toward climate change when his own company has greatly contributed to it with its shipping practices. However, to its credit, Amazon has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2040, and has started by investing in 100,000 electric delivery vans. Bezos does seem sincere in wanting to tackle this issue.

But that doesn't negate the company's exploitation of its workers or its cutting off of long-standing employee health insurance after acquiring Whole Foods. The image of Amazon as a growing, monopolistic behemoth run by an uber-rich individual whose hundreds of thousands of employees relentlessly toil away, exponentially increasing his personal wealth is objectively accurate. A $10 billion donation doesn't change that.

Let's hope that this pledge really does the good that it has the potential for. But let's also maintain a healthy wariness about celebrating the power that a multibillionaire has to impact the world, for better or for worse.

Science

MIT’s trillion-frames-per-second camera can capture light as it travels

"There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

Photo from YouTube video.

Photographing the path of light.

A new camera developed at MIT can photograph a trillion frames per second.

Compare that with a traditional movie camera which takes a mere 24. This new advancement in photographic technology has given scientists the ability to photograph the movement of the fastest thing in the Universe, light.


The actual event occurred in a nano second, but the camera has the ability to slow it down to twenty seconds.

time, science, frames per second, bounced light

The amazing camera.

Photo from YouTube video.

For some perspective, according to New York Times writer, John Markoff, "If a bullet were tracked in the same fashion moving through the same fluid, the resulting movie would last three years."


In the video below, you'll see experimental footage of light photons traveling 600-million-miles-per-hour through water.

It's impossible to directly record light so the camera takes millions of scans to recreate each image. The process has been called femto-photography and according to Andrea Velten, a researcher involved with the project, "There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

(H/T Curiosity)


This article originally appeared on 09.08.17

@thehalfdeaddad/TikTok

Dad on TikTok shared how he addressed his son's bullying.

What do you do when you find out your kid bullied someone? For many parents, the first step is forcing an apology. While this response is of course warranted, is it really effective? Some might argue that there are more constructive ways of handling the situation that teach a kid not only what they did wrong, but how to make things right again.

Single dad Patrick Forseth recently shared how he made a truly teachable moment out of his son, Lincoln, getting into trouble for bullying. Rather than forcing an apology, Forseth made sure his son was actively part of a solution.


The thought process behind his decision, which he explained in a now-viral TikTok video, is both simple and somewhat racial compared to how many parents have been encouraged to handle similar situations.

“I got an email a few days ago from my 9-year-old son's teacher that he had done a ‘prank’ to a fellow classmate and it ended up embarrassing the classmate and hurt his feelings,” the video begins.

At this point, Forseth doesn’t split hairs. “I don't care who you are, that's bullying,” he said. “If you do something to somebody that you know has the potential end result of them being embarrassed in front of a class or hurt—you’re bullying.”

So, Forseth and Lincoln sat down for a long talk (a talk, not a lecture) about appropriate punishment and how it would have felt to be on the receiving end of such a prank.

From there, Forseth told his son that he would decide how to make things right, making it a masterclass in taking true accountability.

“I demanded nothing out of him. I demanded no apology, I demanded no apology to the teacher,” he continued, adding, “I told him that we have the opportunity to go back and make things right. We can't take things back, but we can try to correct things and look for forgiveness.”

@thehalfdeaddad Replying to @sunshinyday1227 And then it’s my kid 🤦‍♂️😡 #endbullyingnow #talktoyourkidsmore #dadlifebestlife #singledadsover40 #teachyourchildren #ReadySetLift ♬ Get You The Moon - Kina

So what did Lincoln do? He went back to his school and actually talked to the other boy he pranked. After learning that they shared a love of Pokémon, he then went home to retrieve two of his favorite Pokémon cards as a peace offering, complete with a freshly cleaned case.

Lincoln would end up sharing with his dad that the other boy was so moved by the gesture that he would end up hugging him.

“I just want to encourage all parents to talk to your kids,” Forseth concluded. “Let's try to avoid just the swat on the butt [and] send them to their room. Doesn't teach them anything.”

In Forseth’s opinion, kids get far more insight by figuring out how to resolve a problem themselves. “That's what they're actually going to face in the real world once they move out of our nests.”

He certainly has a point. A slap on the wrist followed by being marched down somewhere to say, “I’m sorry,” only further humiliates kids most of the time. With this gentler approach, kids are taught the intrinsic value of making amends after wrongdoing, not to mention the power of their own autonomy. Imagine that—blips in judgment can end up being major character-building moments.

Kudos to this dad and his very smart parenting strategy.


This article originally appeared on 3.24.23

Representative image from Canva

Because who can keep up with which laundry settings is for which item, anyway?

Once upon a time, our only option for getting clothes clean was to get out a bucket of soapy water and start scrubbing. Nowadays, we use fancy machines that not only do the labor for us, but give us free reign to choose between endless water temperature, wash duration, and spin speed combinations.

Of course, here’s where the paradox of choice comes in. Suddenly you’re second guessing whether that lace item needs to use the “delicates” cycle, or the “hand wash” one, or what exactly merits a “permanent press” cycle. And now, you’re wishing for that bygone bucket just to take away the mental rigamarole.

Well, you’re in luck. Turns out there’s only one setting you actually need. At least according to one laundry expert.

While appearing on HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast, Patric Richardson, aka The Laundry Evangelist, said he swears by the “express” cycle, as “it’s long enough to get your clothes clean but it’s short enough not to cause any damage.”

Richardson’s reasoning is founded in research done while writing his book, “Laundry Love,” which showed that even the dirtiest items would be cleaned in the “express” cycle, aka the “quick wash” or “30 minute setting.”


Furthermore the laundry expert, who’s also the host of HGTV’s “Laundry Guy,” warned that longer wash settings only cause more wear and tear, plus use up more water and power, making express wash a much more sustainable choice.

Really, the multiple settings washing machines have more to do with people being creatures of habit, and less to do with efficiency, Richardson explained.

“All of those cycles [on the washing machine] exist because they used to exist,” he told co-hosts Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson. “We didn’t have the technology in the fabric, in the machine, in the detergent [that we do now], and we needed those cycles. In the ’70s, you needed the ‘bulky bedding’ cycle and the ‘sanitary’ cycle ... it was a legit thing. You don’t need them anymore, but too many people want to buy a machine and they’re like, ‘My mom’s machine has “whitest whites.”’ If I could build a washing machine, it would just have one button — you’d just push it, and it’d be warm water and ‘express’ cycle and that’s it.”
washing machine

When was the last time you washed you washing machine? "Never" is a valid answer.

Canva

According to Good Housekeeping, there are some things to keep in mind if you plan to go strictly express from now on.

For one thing, the outlet recommends only filling the machine halfway and using a half dose of liquid, not powder detergent, since express cycles use less water. Second, using the setting regularly can develop a “musty” smell, due to the constant low-temperature water causing a buildup of mold or bacteria. To prevent this, running an empty wash on a hot setting, sans the detergent, is recommended every few weeks, along with regularly scrubbing the detergent drawer and door seal.

Still, even with those additional caveats, it might be worth it just to knock out multiple washes in one day. Cause let’s be honest—a day of laundry and television binging sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

To catch even more of Richardson’s tips, find the full podcast episode here.


This article originally appeared on 2.4.24

Should babysitters be expected to clean?

When it comes to babysitting, you can hit the jackpot with someone who not only enjoys hanging out with your kiddos but also cleans out of boredom. The only babysitter I've had that experience with is my mom, but I do hear they do exist. While walking into a spotless house after a much-needed night out would be amazing, it's not really part of a standard babysitting package.

Typically, whoever babysits for you is solely there to focus on the well-being of your children. They feed them snacks, play games with them, and follow their bedtime routine to the letter. Then they hang out on your couch reminding Netflix that they're still watching and wait for you to return. Sure, they clean up dishes from dinner and whatever toys were pulled out during their time with your kids, but they don't typically clean your house.

But in a private parenting group I belong to, a long debate was started when a mom asked a group of 260k of her closest friends if it would be appropriate for a parent to ask a babysitter to clean their home.


The anonymous mom explained that her college-aged daughter had recently started babysitting for a family, but on the second day, her duties suddenly changed. There was a list of chores waiting for the babysitter that included cleaning the family's dishes and cleaning up messes that were there before the sitter arrived.

This revelation set off a firestorm of comments with many agreeing that anything outside of cleaning up after the children while they're in your care is a separate job. But not everyone was on the same page and it was clear that this was a topic that was going to cause some intense debate. Since summer months are here, there's no wonder this topic is coming up and views are split.

woman holding kid in the street

Should babysitters be expected to clean, one mom asks.

Photo by Sai De Silva on Unsplash

Scary Mommy recently published an article posing a similar question, only this was coming from a parent who wanted her babysitter to clean while her children slept. Elizabeth Narins explains that she and her husband are stretched thin and have an active toddler she jokingly calls a "toy tornado."

"Given the amount of housework that clearly needs to be done, paying someone to sit on our toy-covered couch during naps or after bedtime just seems... inefficient," Narins wrote before posing the question. "Is it completely out of line for me to ask her to declutter when my kids are in bed?"

Whether it's the expert interviewed for the Scary Mommy article or the parents in the private group, there does seem to be one common theme among the discourse: Any additional chores should be clarified in the original job description, and if it wasn't, then it should be directly brought up in a conversation with the babysitter.

Many parents in the comments believed that a housekeeper should be hired in addition to the babysitter, while others thought the babysitter should be offered more money for the additional work. But there were several people who thought it was just common courtesy for a babysitter to clean the house while the kids were asleep.

It may seem that you're paying a babysitter to do nothing while your children sleep, but you're paying them to be there in the event of an emergency. No matter which side of the debate you're on, it seems proper communication about expectations will save everyone a headache in the future.

Do you think cleaning should be expected from a babysitter?


This article originally appeared on 6.8.23

CBS Mornings|YouTube

Video shows group of strangers trying to free man from burning car

Getting into a car crash is not something people hope they experience in their lifetimes, and if it does happen you hope it's just a minor fender bender. Unfortunately not all car accidents are minor. One man found himself in a pretty major accident on a Minnesota highway becoming trapped in his car.

According to eye witnesses, the man struck a light pole on the highway, landing with the driver's side of the car pinned against the guardrail. The car quickly becomes engulfed in flames as other drivers rush to the man's side in an attempt to free him from the fiery vehicle. Kadir Tolla caught the whole thing on his dash-cam accidentally when he jumped out of his running car to help.

Multiple people fought flames trying desperately to pull the car door open to let the driver out, but the guardrail thwarts their efforts repeatedly. At some point, Tolla runs to grab a large piece of hard plastic he found on the road and attempts to break the window. Nothing seems to be going in favor of the civilian rescuers.


"He was saying, 'pull me out, pull me out, pull me out,'" Tolla tells Fox News. "We could crack the door a little bit, you know, give him a little air. It [the flames] was actually smacking us in our face but we was just jumping back."

Eventually a "highway helper" arrived and breaks the glass on the driver's side window, which allows the other drivers to pull the man through the window, carrying him to safety. They got him out just in the knick of time because before they could get the unidentified man away from the car, the flames began to dance right where the driver was sitting seconds before.

The entire video is heart stopping, and shows the power of everyday people working together to save a stranger. Watch the heroic rescue below.