“Government Accountability Institute”

Donald Trump’s chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon accepted $376,000 in pay over four years for working 30 hours a week at a tiny tax-exempt charity in Tallahassee while also serving as the hands-on executive chairman of Breitbart News Network. During the same four-year period, the charity paid about $1.3 million in salaries to two other journalists who said they put in 40 hours a week there while also working for the politically conservative news outlet, according to publicly available documents filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

Microloans 2: Electric Boogaloo

Back in 2005, Kiva was launched. It was the first microloan organization to get mass publicity, and many people signed up and participated ­— including me. Unfortunately, in 2009 it emerged that Kiva was being dishonest — while they encouraged lenders to browse the site, pick businesses and allocate funds, none of that made any difference at all. All the lending was already carried out before the businesses in question ever appeared on the site.

Mentoring

Texas has some of the safest cities in the US — but the fourth highest incarceration rate of any state. In part, this is because it was one of the first states to establish a “three strikes” law, which (combined with the disastrous “war on drugs”) helped triple the prison population during the 80s and 90s. Things are getting better now, but there’s still a long way to go. In the mean time, it’s conservatively estimated that over 4,600 children in Travis County alone have an incarcerated parent.

Random acts of kindness #2

So yes, I was one of the many people who sent some cash to Robert Anton Wilson. If you didn’t hear about it, well, don’t worry, it seems there’s a happy ending. I actually still haven’t read the Illuminatus! trilogy. I’ve always been far more impressed by his ability to write about serious philosophical concepts, from Aristotelian logic to Zen Buddhism, yet still get in at least one good laugh per page.