Front page
Archive
Silflay Hraka?


Bigwig is a systems administrator at a public university
Hrairoo is the proprietor of a quality used bookstore
Kehaar is the head web developer for a regional newspaper
Woundwort is a professor of counseling at a private university

The Hraka RSS feed

Email
bigwig AT nc.rr.com

Friends of Hraka
InstaPundit
Daily Pundit
cut on the bias
Meryl Yourish
This Blog Is Full Of Crap
Winds of Change
A Small Victory
Silent Running
Dr. Weevil
Little Green Footballs
ColdFury
Oceanguy
Fragments from Floyd
VodkaPundit
Allah
The Feces Flinging Monkey
Dean's World
Little Tiny Lies
The Redsugar Muse
Sperari
Natalie Solent
From the Mrs.
ErosBlog
The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
On the Third Hand
Public Nuisance
Not a Fish
Rantburg
AMCGLTD
WeckUpToThees!
Electric Venom
Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo
Common Sense and Wonder
Neither Here Nor There
Wizbang!
Bogieblog
ObscuroRant
RocketJones
The Greatest Jeneration
Ravenwolf
Ipse Dixit
TarHeelPundit
Blog On the Run
blogatron
Redwood Dragon
Notables
Greeblie Blog
Have A Cuppa Tea
A Dog's Life
IMAO
Zonitics.com
Iberian Notes
Midwest Conservative Journal
A Voyage to Arcturus
HokiePundit
Trojan Horseshoes
In Context
dcthornton.blog
The People's Republic of Seabrook
Country Store
Blog Critics
Chicago Boyz
Hippy Hill News
Kyle Still Free Press
The Devil's Excrement
The Fat Guy
War Liberal
Assume the Position
Balloon Juice
Iron Pen In A Velvet Glove
IsraPundit
Freedom Lives
Where Worlds Collide
Knot by Numbers
How Appealing
South Knox Bubba
Heretical Ideas
The Kitchen Cabinet
Dustbury.com
tonecluster
Bo Cowgill
mtpolitics.net
Raving Atheist
The Short Strange Trip
Shark Blog
Hoplites
Jimspot
Ron Bailey's Weblog
Cornfield Commentary
Testify!
Northwest Notes
pseudorandom
The Blog from the Core
Ain'tNoBadDude
CroMagnon
The Talking Dog
WTF Is It Now??
Blue Streak
Smarter Harper's Index
nikita demosthenes
Bloviating Inanities
Sneakeasy's Joint
Ravenwood's Universe
The Eleven Day Empire
World Wide Rant
All American
Pdawwg
The Rant
The Johnny Bacardi Show
The Head Heeb
Viking Pundit
Mercurial
Oscar Jr. Was Here
Just Some Poor Schmuck
Katy & Bruce Loebrich
But How's The Coffee?
Roscoe Ellis
Foolsblog
Sasha Castel
Dodgeblogium
Susskins Central Dispatch
DoggerelPundit
Josh Heit
Attaboy
Aaron's Rantblog
MojoMark
As I was saying...
Blog O' Dob
Dr. Frank's Blogs Of War
Betsy's Page
A Knob for Brightness
Fresh Bilge
The Politburo Diktat
Drumwaster's rants
Curt's Page
The Razor
An Unsealed Room
The Legal Bean
Helloooo chapter two!
As I Was Saying...
SkeptiLog AGOG!
Tong family blog
Vox Beth
Velociblog
I was thinking
Judicious Asininity
This Woman's Work
Fragrant Lotus
DaGoddess
Single Southern Guy
Caerdroia
GrahamLester.Com
Jay Solo's Verbosity
TacJammer
Snooze Button Dreams
Horologium
You Big Mouth, You!
From the Inside looking Out
Night of the Lepus
No Watermelons Allowed
From The Inside Looking Out
Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics
Suburban Blight
Aimless
The SmarterCop
Dog of Flanders
From Behind the Wall of Sleep
Beaker's Corner
Bad State of Gruntledness
Who Tends The Fires
Granny Rant
Elegance Against Ignorance
Moxie.nu
Eccentricity
Say What?
Blown Fuse
Wait 'til Next Year
The Pryhills
The Whomping Willow
The National Debate
The Skeptician
Zach Everson
MonkeyWatch
Geekward Ho
Argghhh!!!
Life in New Orleans
Rotten Miracles
Fringe
The Biomes Blog
illinigirl
See What You Share
Truthprobe
Blog d’Elisson
Your Philosophy Sucks
Watauga Rambler
Socialized Medicine
Consternations
Verging on Pertinence
Read My Lips
ambivablog
Soccerdad
The Flannel Avenger
Butch Howard's WebLog
Castle Argghhh!
Andrew Hofer
kschlenker.com
Moron Abroad
White Pebble
Darn Floor
Wizblog
tweedler
Pajama Pundits
BabyTrollBlog
Cadmusings
Goddess Training 101
A & W

December 10, 2002

Does Kristoff Care? Call me

Does Kristoff Care?

Call me naive, but I get the feeling that Nicholas Kristoff and the NYT are far more interested in pointing out problems rather than doing anything about them. Case in point, today's editorial by Nicholas on the slow collapse of South America

Maria Amelia Miranda stood yesterday in the Iapi shantytown here in Monte Chingolo, south of Buenos Aires, and cried. Three of her seven children — girls ages 8, 7 and 3 — have intestinal worms, up to a foot long, that she must periodically pull from their bottoms. But the worming medicine costs about $1.40 per child, and she can't afford to buy both the medicine and food for the children.

When I was nature counselor at my old summer camp, we watched a Discovery channel documentary on the Lesser Flamingo that I had recorded one winter. The Lesser flamingo nests only in salt pans covered with an inch or two of water, and they don't nest every year, since most years are either too dry or too wet for their tastes. When they do nest, the adults have to leave the young before they have fully fledged for better feeding grounds. The new feeding grounds can be sixty to a hundred miles away, and to get to them the young have to walk. They form huge groups, with thousands of chicks in each, and start walking. Each day a few fledge and fly away to join their parents. The others keep walking.

The water they walk through is incredibly rich in minerals, and those minerals leech out onto the legs of the chicks, so that eventually the remaining chicks are stumbling towards their distant refuge with cakes of salt and minerals the size of softballs on each leg. The balls are called manacles, as the chicks with them hobble forward like a prisoner in leg chains. Most manacled chicks walk until they can no longer move, much less fly, then stand motionless in the African sun until they die, or are eaten by hyenas. The five minutes the documentary spends on the chick migration is pretty heart-rending, enough so that the narrator felt compelled to explain why the cameramen and crew weren't out there rescuing chicks. It boiled down to "Messing with natural selection can have unfortunate side-effects later on." It made sense, in a cold, evolutionary way, but it didn't fly worth a damn when presented to a roomful of nine-year-olds.

The kids I showed the documentary to knew without thinking what the right thing to do was, which was drop everything and help when you see a creature in distress. It takes an adult to look upon the face of misery and then turn his back to it. I know exactly what every normal American kid would do if they saw the suffering that Kristoff saw, what they would do if they were in his place. I just don't know what Kristoff did.

Worm medicine for three Argentinean girls would cost $4.20, according to Kristoff. I wrote him an e-mail, asking if he did the human thing and bought them medicine. I got what I expected in response, a form letter "Thanks for your message. This is an automatic response, because I can't respond individually to the emails--then there'd be no time to write the column. But I read them all and appreciate both the compliments and the complaints, as well as the information and ideas for future columns."

I'm not saying Kristoff didn't buy worm medicine for the little girls. But you would think that the writer of an editorial calling on Washington to help the Argentines would strengthen his position somewhat by listing what he did personally to help the Argentines. After all, shouldn't you be willing to do what you are telling others to do? The content of the editorial signals that Kristoff isn't going to accept any cold, logical, invisible hand arguments when it comes to spending my money and yours to alleviate the suffering of Argentinean children.

I'm not arguing against spending money on ridding Argentina of intestinal worms. I'm in favor of it, especially if the alternative is spending money on farm and steel subsidies. But if I'm not willing to spend my own money, if I'm not willing to lead by example, then my arguments are hollow.

At the very end of the flamingo documentary, as if to assuage the righteous indignation of the children watching, the documentary cuts back to one of the last remaining manacled chicks, one that they had filmed making a single agonized step every fifteen seconds or so earlier on, a chick prevented from moving any faster due to the literally pounds of mineral deposits on each leg. Every step that doomed chick made took a supreme effort, yet it would not stop. When they showed it again, they talked one more time about the necessity of letting natural selection take its course. Then they cut the manacles off and watched the chick fly off into the distance.

"Sometimes, you just have to help" said the narrator.

Sometimes you just have to help, but if you want others to help, then you have to be the example. Nicholas Kristoff may or may not have helped those little girls, but if he is not willing to say that he did, then he loses all moral authority when it comes to saying what others should do. If the New York Times wanted to help, then the least it could do would be to link to, or just list, the websites where its readers could help. Hundreds of thousands of people are going to read that editorial, people that could make a donation to an Argentinean charity right there and then. Here's one, Por los Chicos. All you have to do to help is click a button. Here's another. Here's a third. I found them in less than a minute, which means that the lowliest intern at the NYT could have do so as well.

Demonstrably, the lowliest intern at the NYT did not. No one at the NYT did, which means that as far as Argentine children with intestinal worms hanging out of their ass are concerned, the fine people at the New York Times prefer hectoring to helping. Say what you will about the Rainbow Grocery, but their policy, idiotic as it was, was at least consistent with what they saw as their moral principles. The NYT does no such thing, which I suppose means that they have none, or none worth acting on.

I at least clicked the button.

Zod: Well, aren't you the saint!

Posted by Bigwig at December 10, 2002 03:05 PM | TrackBack
Postscript:
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
Comments
Post a comment Note: Comments with more than two dashes per line will be blocked as spam.









Remember personal info?