Saturday, September 13, 2008

Feed the World

You don’t need to be Bono or Bob Geldof to feed the world anymore. I remember buying Band Aid’s single Do They Know It's Christmas? in 1984 (cover by artist Peter Blake, above) and feeling pretty good for really not doing too much and getting great music in the bargain. Now, thanks to, you can feed the world from your own keyboard and learn about art and other subjects at the same time. At Free Rice, you choose one of several subjects (art history, English vocabulary, chemistry, geography, languages, and math) and for every correct answer sponsors will donate twenty grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. Twenty grains of rice doesn’t sound like much, but with each correct answer you quickly build up a meal for a starving child somewhere in the world. Any questions you get wrong appear again shortly after, giving you the opportunity to get it right and learn from your mistakes. As the Free Rice site says, “Whether you are CEO of a large corporation or a street child in a poor country, improving your education can improve your life. It is a great investment in yourself. Perhaps even greater is the investment your donated rice makes in hungry human beings, enabling them to function and be productive. Somewhere in the world, a person is eating rice that you helped provide. Thank you.” It’s the very definition of a win-win situation.

I tried my hand at the English vocabulary and art history catagories. The English vocabulary seemed tough, but fun. The art history category consists of a series of paintings presented with a choice of four possible painters. Some of the works are familiar, but others test you a bit on how well you can spot a particular style in an unfamiliar work. I actually got a little better on the Asian artists, whom I know more as names and greatest hits than purely by distinctive styles. Now I know my Hiroshige from my Hokusai. And so should you. Go to Free Rice now and do something for yourself and someone else. You have nothing to lose but your ignorance and a whole world of empowerment to gain.

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