I decided not to post today's big entry because I'm not that proud of it. It is, however, worth posting about this -- in november, the One Laptop Per Child group is opening a buy-1-donate-1 programme - for $400, interested people will get 1 OLPC laptop and fund one for some kid in a developing country.
On OLPC, I am sympathetic to claims that the same money donated would be better off going to providing stable sources of food and teachers. In many cases, the best place to tackle the problem lies even higher up - establishing a stable, progressive government after giving the current leaders the boot would work wonders. Laptops arn't a panacea for education, and there's always the risk that the systems will be pawned and disassembled. That said, inexpensive laptops and the access to information that they (ideally supported by sufficient infrastructure) provide some potential for needed social/governmental change - by providing new means for access to information and wireless communication, local controls on the same may be easier to bypass, and access to the internet may provide for easier access to news that isn't locally covered. Funding OLPC is not a substitute for the basic necessities of life nor other types of aid, but it does have potential to help those regions in ways that existing means of aid don't cover.