Good News Monday #48: Giving, TikTok, and Iceland

One of my favorite Christmas (?) movies.

The last Monday of 2020! Looks like I either mis-counted, or missed four Mondays.

The Wise Men are on the way. I’d love it if that was more than a Christmas miracle. Seems like these days, wise guys have replaced the Wise Men.

Yes, I’m still celebrating Christmas.

I like to hold on at least until Epiphany. Singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” as we approach that final day and it’s time to start thinking about forsytheia.

In the meantime, here’s some good news I found this week.

Giving While Living

While food and housing insecurity grow, I wonder to myself, where are the wealthy philanthropists that usually step up to the plate during an economical crisis. You know, like Charles Stewart Mott during The Great Depression.

Good news! People like Chuck Feeney are doing their part. Chuck, pioneered the idea of Giving While Living. The idea is to spend your money on big, hands-on charity before you die. He’s influenced Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to launch the Giving Pledge in 2010—an aggressive campaign to convince the world’s wealthiest to give away at least half their fortunes before their deaths. 

“Chuck was a cornerstone in terms of inspiration for the Giving Pledge,” says Warren Buffett. “He’s a model for us all. It’s going to take me 12 years after my death to get done what he’s doing within his lifetime.”  

Chuck Feeney, the former billionaire cofounder, Duty Free Shoppers has finally given all his money away to charity. He has nothing left now—and he couldn’t be happier. 

Chuck gave big money to big problems: bringing peace to Northern Ireland, modernizing Vietnam’s health care system, spending $350 million to turn New York’s long-neglected Roosevelt Island into a technology hub.

Here’s what Chuck said:

“I see little reason to delay giving when so much good can be achieved through supporting worthwhile causes. Besides, it’s a lot more fun to give while you live than give while you’re dead.” 

For the most part, Chuck kept his donations anonymous. He lives in a dorm-room sized apartment in San Francisco.

Housed by viral Tik-Tok

Mick Fleetwood heard about Nathan Apodaca’s viral Tick-Tok video and jumped on his own longboard.

I had a lot of fun watching Nathan “meet” Mick during this interview. I bet you will too. Toward the end, pay attention to Nathan Apodaca’s daughter scootching into the frame.

You guessed it, Nathan lived in an RV. Nathan shot his famous TikTok video after his car battery died on his way to work at a potato warehouse and he decided to ride his skateboard there instead. Nathan had been living in a trailer with no electricity or running water.

Ocean Spray gifted Nathan a new truck when his video first went viral. The generosity didn’t stop there. Tik-Tok fans realized his plight and set out to change things. Now he has a five-bedroom, 3-bathroom home in Idaho Falls, Indiana for his family.

Proactive Iceland

cascade cliff clouds dawn
Photo by Pixabay on

What if every nation handled Covid-19 the way Iceland did?

On February 28th, Ævar Pálmi Pálmason, a detective with the Reykjavík police department, was summoned by his boss. Iceland did not yet have a confirmed case of COVID-19, but the country’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management wanted to be prepared. Suppose somebody tested positive? A team would be needed to track down everyone with whom that person had been in contact. Pálmason’s supervisor told him he was going to lead that team. Two hours later, they had their first case.

Anyone who spent more than 15 minutes with the man was considered potentially infected and ordered to quarantine for 14 days. That was 56 people. By mid-March Iceland had up to 100 diagnosed Covid-19 cases each day. Of course that meant the number of people in quarantine went up, too. Each infected person resulted somewhere between 5 and 56 people quarantined.

At the same time, Iceland tested at a rate higher than any other country. By testing people with no or mild symptoms, they picked up many cases they would have missed. They never imposed a lockdown. Well, except for night clubs and hair salons and a few other businesses. Hardly anyone wore masks.

Iceland also sequenced the virus from every person infected. That way, determined how the virus spread. “One of the very interesting things is that, in all our data, there are only two examples where a child infected a parent. But there are lots of examples where parents infected children.”

“The remarkable thing in this whole affair is that in Iceland it has been run entirely by the public-health authorities. They came up with the plan, and they just instituted it. And we were fortunate that our politicians managed to control themselves.”

The New Yorker, December 2020

This weeks stories made me feel joy and hope.

So remember, don’t despair. Good things and fun things are happening every day.

Happy New Year! Celebrate responsibly. (I never thought that would refer to more than alcohol consumption.)

Practice the four Ws:

  • Wear a mask;
  • Watch your distance,
  • Wash your hands, and
  • Work together.

What’s on your good news radar this week? I’d love to hear. More is always better.

Remember, there’s a tool to help you figure out whether travel is worth it.

The COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool is a collaborative project led by Prof. Joshua Weitz and Prof. Clio Andris at the Georgia Institute of Technology, along with researchers at the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory and Stanford University, and powered by RStudio. Description of the method and analyses available at Nature Human Behaviour.