Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Give One, Get One Program

I first heard about the One Laptop Per Child "give one, get one" program a few years ago. In a nutshell, founder Nicholas Negroponte's vision is to provide laptop computers to children in the most impoverished countries in the world. The Mission Statement reads: "To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. They learn, share, create, and collaborate. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future."

Last night on Charlie Rose, Negroponte said that he thought that the non-profit's ability to produce laptops for under $200 is one of the things that has driven down the price of consumer-oriented smaller laptops, which you can now find for under $500.

Negroponte has recently formed a collaborative relationship with Amazon.com as well. As I understand it, there are 2 options: 1) give one for $199 -- meaning you pay to give one of the specially designed laptops; or 2) "give one, get one" for $399, in which you give one of the laptops and get one to use for yourself. And no, you can't just get one for yourself.

This isn't cheap, but, if you are like me, and thinking about a different approach to Christmas for this year, you might want to check it out...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I Guess I've Been Holding My Breath...

This morning, Nora Ephron's post at Huffington Post really resonated with me: Exhale.

I had a busy summer, which included a total hip replacement of my left hip (one down, one to go), but have been well enough to write for months. I had become obsessed with the presidential election, watching unhealthy amounts of MSNBC (I think it is overboard when you watch the same episode of Countdown or Rachel Maddow more than once...)

This election season could exemplify, I think, a large portion of my life, in that I became afraid to be too optimistic, too hopeful, that Obama would be elected. I have been (as have we all, I'm sure) disappointed by the behavior/decisions of others so many times. It feels like a personal risk to put aside my native cynicism and actually hope for and want something.

ADA Watch emailed me this excerpt from Obama's acceptance speech:

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled [my emphasis]. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.
President-Elect Barack Obama, November 4, 2008

I teared-up when he mentioned the disabled (and no, I don't care that he didn't say "people with disabilities -- in this framework, "disabled" is just fine). Not because I'm naive enough to think that someone else may easily have told him to put it in the speech, but just because it was there, as a symbol that we are to be included at his table.

So -- I am still cautiously hopeful for what Obama can accomplish. He is inheriting a boat-load of problems that will have to be addressed before he can do much about health care. I am heartened by the fact that he considers health care a "right", however.

His pre-election white paper on disability issues (BARACK OBAMA AND JOE BIDEN’S PLAN TO EMPOWER AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES) addressed the fact that insurance (both private and governmental) has evolved to a point where it will only provide the minimum durable medical equipment (to enable you to get around "inside the home") to cut costs. (See page 7 on the Medicare "homebound" rule.)

I'm heartened by the idea that he is a thoughtful, reportedly "cautious" man. Unlike Bush, I don't think Obama will be unable to admit mistakes or missteps and accordingly change course as appropriate.

Time will tell. Join me in daring to be hopeful.