February 15, 2017

MacArthur Foundation will give $100 million to one of these problem-solving projects.

8 finalists. 2 are obviously the worst. 2 strike me as the obvious best choices.

48 comments:

tcrosse said...

Nothing for the Clinton Global Initiative. Sad.

Leslie Graves said...

The ones that strike me as the best are those related to solving blindness and infant death. The two that strike me as less valuable are putting all the world's books online (that'll eventually happen anyway I think and it's not urgent) and the idea about providing 100,000 volunteer specialists to provide virtual, electronic consultations to Americans without health insurance.

Peter Araujo said...

Blindness all the way. People who can see are people who can work. People who can work are people who can energize their local economy. Energize the economy, and infant death, orphanages, and all the rest will take care of themselves (which is to say, the people most affected by these other problems will find themselves able to effectively address them.

chuck said...

> Enriching staple crops through conventional plant breeding

Conventional? WTF. Next up, organic produce and gluten free grain.

Kevin said...

Blah, blah, blah, ooooh Muppets!

Darrell said...

Blindness. Bring back DDT and start growing Golden rice.

Kevin said...

Muppets solving blindness would have been a sure winner.

buwaya said...

Missing is the important one -
Research artificial food production using petroleum as feedstock.
This will become important the moment the Yellowstone caldera goes off and ruins global agriculture for several years.

Diamondhead said...

I think the orphanage one is the worst. The solution to the problem of too many kids in orphanages is to get them out of orphanages and into families. Brilliant!

DrSquid said...

Hard to believe that $100 million dollars buys only 100,000 specialty consults. The consults themselves, provided by volunteers, should cost very little to deliver, electronically or otherwise. I'm a specialist and I find myself giving free consults rather frequently at the hospitals where I am on staff, the consults really aren't particularly valuable by themselves. A consult typically recommends an expensive diagnostic workup, followed by some expensive treatment e.g surgery, radiation therapy, rehabilitation therapy. Is that where the 100 million comes in? Those expenses are already covered by the community hospital in most places in America.

Spend your money elsewhere. Put the orphans into families, prevent blindness. Anything but the Muppets.

mockturtle said...

Aren't they the big supporters of PBS and NPR?

Sean Gleeson said...

I propose to digitize the Muppets. Can start right away, as soon as MacArthur Paypals the first installment.

Qwerty Smith said...

If your proposal could quite literally bear the subtitle "first world problems," then you should not be in the running.

Jack Wayne said...

Both blindness projects are the best but they're not gonna pick 2 with the same outcome. So 1 for blindness, probably Carter. A bonafide lefty and the Himalaya project is too close to the Dalai Lama who is not preferred by lefties anymore. The other two is a pick 'em for nutrition. Rice is a fine lefty institution but sticking GMO food in the eye is probably preferred by lefties.

Qwerty Smith said...

"Parasites are devouring my daughter's eyestalks."

"Oh yeah? Well, I'm looking for an obscure 1940s detective novel, and I can't find it on Project Gutenberg. Plus, I can't get the Trump administration to pay for my birth control pills."

bagoh20 said...

Teach and support capitalism. That's exactly what solved these problems in all the places where they are solved. All those problems can be traced to a lack of free market capitalism with some basic rule of law. One powerful solution to hundreds of problems. Without it, these proposed solutions are impotent and not sustainable. They will fail. If they made the primary criteria for winning to be sustainable success, the winner would have to use a free market plan.

Lyle Smith said...

I would go with HarvestPlus or the Blindness project. The American health insurance problem and the digital book project are at the bottom for me.

Luke Lea said...

I go for orphans, books, and the uninsured -- except google or somebody else can and will deal with the digitizing of books (thought that was Google's mission). Am I being hard-hearted towards problems overseas? Perhaps.

PB said...

Probably the second, but I think it's wrong-headed in that it doesn't really address the ability to sustain a market for those things that would create continued incentives and rewards. It's largely a technocratic approach, but once the money is spent, there will likely be nothing that would remain to carry on.

Static Ping said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Static Ping said...

Is this a contest to figure out what Ann values? It's like the Newlywed Game. Really, you should be feeding this to Meade before we see it. Then perhaps blindside him with one of the Cosmo compatibility quizzes. See if you are in sync over your favorite types of movies or his shoe appreciation or some such.

My guesses are:

WORST: Americans without health insurance, Lack of access to books online
BEST: Newborn deaths in Africa, Malnutrition in developing countries

The BEST seemed a lot harder to guess than the WORST, but I'm guessing that the two blindness ones would be redundant and therefore not obvious, orphanage care and education are less important if the baby if the child is without food and/or dead already, and while I absolutely love Sesame Street the idea that it is a high priority solution to anything that does not involve pigeon maintenance, bottle cap collecting, or vampire appreciation is dubious. For the record, I think all these causes are worthwhile, but some are definitely further along the Maslow Hierarchy than others.

Michael K said...

Solution: Get children out of orphanages and back into families. Starting in developing countries but proposing an eventual global reach, the project will try to slow down or stop the number of children entering institutional care.

Yeah. Foster Families institutionalize child molestation.

I had a girl in my masters program at Dartmouth who grew up if foster care. She said she would much rather have been in an orphanage.

Gingrich got into all kinds of trouble for saying the same thing.

Adoption is fine but whites are not allowed to adopt black kids anymore.

David Begley said...

Why hasn't the Gates Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative already handed out the drugs to stop River Blindness? Looks like a no-brainer to me.

Molly said...

I agree with static ping:

WORST: Americans without health insurance, Lack of access to books online
BEST: Newborn deaths in Africa, Malnutrition in developing countries

But, while I don't think there's much doubt about worst, I see a lot of room to disagree about best, and I would not fight to the death for the two listed above.

Lucien said...

The problem with lefty organizations and malnutrition is that they don't want to use GMOs because,Monsanto.

Just like they don't want to consider nuclear power as a substitute for fossil fuels because if a 30 year old nuclear power plant is hit by a 9.5 earthquake, and then hit by a tsunami it almost fails catastrophically.

rcocean said...

Give the most of the money to helping cure blindness etc. But can't we throw a few shekels to "Lack of access to books online"?

Or why not just bribe a few fucking congressmen** to change the Copyright laws to let us see books/magazines/movies made 70 years ago?

** these congress assholes can be bought for only a couple hundred thousand $$$, so it won't be a big part of that $100 million.

EDH said...

John Waters, for one, opposes the books online project.

rcocean said...

"John Waters, for one, opposes the books online project."

Of course he would. Like most "artists" he doesn't give a shit about books. And he doesn't want ANYTHING to stop copyright laws from giving as much $$$ as possible to "artists", even if the "suits" get 99% of it.

rcocean said...

IMO, the US government should put every song -newspaper -book-movie-TV show-radio show- made/published before 1957 online so we can all see/read/hear it for free.

Pass a new copyright law. Pay off any greedy assholes that need to be paid off. It'd be a drop in the bucket - less than 5% of Zuckerprick's net worth.

Henry said...

The world has enough puppets. The Internet has enough words. River Blindness is clearly the best project.

The HarvestPlus initiative is very cool. Essentially HarvestPlus is creating vitamin and mineral rich crops through traditional selective hybridization.

It's sad that this approach forgoes genetic engineering, but these are the times we live in.

And the traditional method has the advantage of allowing reseeding, a self-sufficiency that politics and economics has precluded from genetically engineered crops.

tim in vermont said...

How about education on genetically engineered foods. Once the nutcases are shut up, we could plant currently available vitamin A enriched rice! Naah! Better poor people should go blind.

Henry said...

@David Begley -- some of these projects already have Gates money.

readering said...

They all seem worthy to me.

Henry said...

The book project is just weird. Project Gutenberg has 53,000 online books. If you really want to out more books online, put the money into changing U.S. Copyright law.

mockturtle said...

BEST: Newborn deaths in Africa, Malnutrition in developing countries

How about unborn deaths in the US and Europe?

buwaya puti said...

Google books has many more free books online than Gutenberg.

Mary Beth said...

rcocean said...

"John Waters, for one, opposes the books online project."

Of course he would. Like most "artists" he doesn't give a shit about books. And he doesn't want ANYTHING to stop copyright laws from giving as much $$$ as possible to "artists", even if the "suits" get 99% of it.

2/15/17, 5:56 PM


It was a joke because he was quoted as saying, "We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don't have books, don't fuck them." So the books have to be there to be seen, not online.

rcocean said...

"It was a joke because he was quoted as saying, "We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don't have books, don't fuck them." So the books have to be there to be seen, not online."

I don't even know what the fuck that means. So, Waters thinks books should NOT be online but only in paper and sitting on your book shelf? If so, that just makes my point. How many people can read some book from 1956 in physical form? 95% of them aren't in print anymore. And try to get them from a library. Good luck.

Anyway, talking about books - or the arts - to 'muricans is like talking about Mozart to a 10 year old. I mean does it involve $$$? Nope. Sex? Nope. Power? Nope. Then we'uns don't care.

Sebastian said...

Clearly, the money should go toward health insurance and books online. The other projects just continue white imperialism by other means.

Jupiter said...

Nothing about getting the Muzzies out of Europe? Nothing about shutting down the concentration camps in North Korea? Nothing about closing the organ-harvest death camps in China? Just Africa, Africa, Africa. What the World needs now, is failure, more failure.

On the bright side, at least that will be $100 million the MacArthur Foundation can't spend on fucking up the US even worse.

William said...

You've got to think outside the box. If people in the developing world could get over their hang ups and learn to eat orphans, the problems of malnutrition and orphans could be solved in a single stroke. Perhaps the program could be expanded to include those who suffer from river blindness. They're not so low in cholesterol and kind of gamy, but it's better than malnutrition. The Cookie Monster could be used to give kids some acclimation to cannibalism.

The Godfather said...

I'm sitting here at my laptop in my fully-heated and fully-airconditioned house, with a refrigerator and pantry full of nutritious food, with warm clothing for winter in my closet and gallons of sunblock for summer -- and I'm supposed to have the right to comment on the priorities for investments to help the poorest of the poor?

OF COURSE the only way to solve the most serious problems is to help the poor find ways to support themselves, and OF COURSE that includes helping them to develop the skills and disciplines and values they need to do that. And OF COURSE if we can provide aid to extend and improve the lives of few of these desperately poor people, that's wonderful. But let's not delude ourselves that our charity can eliminate poverty.

Jon Ericson said...

buwaya sock puppet. @7:16 Damn.
Probably works for google.

Freeman Hunt said...

Best:
Eliminate river blindness. They've already proven that they know how to do it, so give them the money to do it more.

buwaya said...

Not a sock puppet, merely a different account I use on another device. I vouch for buwaya puti as an authentic buwaya.

Jon Ericson said...

Can't be too careful.
Sorry, buwaya.
False alarum.

Edmund said...

The crop project is stupid. Everything they want to do can be done by gene editing. To do it via "traditional methods" will take years and years longer. Golden rice is ready to deploy but it keeps getting stopped by "frankenfood" hysteria.

F said...

I agree with David Begley: why hasn't someone already taken care of river blindness. When I lived in the Central African Republic (1983-1988) I first read about Ivermectin being a preventative for river blindness. I was a member of the Rotary Club there and tried to interest Rotary International in getting involved. It would not have been an expensive project, as the company that manufactured Ivermectin said they would provide the drug free of charge. Crickets from Rotary International. Part of the reason,I think, is that Lions International is the big blindness organization. Wrong Service club. I eventually gave up. But if I knew about the problem and a possible solution, I am sure a lot of other people did too -- including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I continue to be surprised no one has ever taken it up. It seems like a no-brainer.