Wrapup on those used yoga mats

Background here and here. After showing the "used yoga mats for Haiti" sign for intrinsic comedy value and as a vignette of la vie San Franciscienne*, I quoted the person behind the campaign as to its benign intent. For the record, here is an opposite perspective, from reader Sharon Shewmake of UC Davis:

"I thought it was a particularity stupid way to donate, especially after everyone pointed out that shoes-for-Haiti is wasteful and stupid....

"I think that one of the reason people like to give things instead of money to charity is because they feel a connection, and the more specific the item the more of a connection. It's nice to think that someone in Haiti will enjoy my old yoga mat, but if it's not what they need then it's an irresponsible gift. Keep your old yoga mat (why do people have old yoga mats anyway?) and donate the $50 you would have spent on a new one to the Red Cross. I think the sign about donating the yoga mats is really arrogant. I appreciate they are trying to help, but it's a stupid and arrogant way to do so."

The sides having been heard, I declare the debate closed, or moved to other venues (like this yoga-related site). For the record, my wife and I have given cash donations but not goods  after this disaster and others of its type (the Sichuan earthquake, the Indian Ocean tsunami, Katrina, etc). To all I say, Namaste, and on to other subjects.
*I am inventing this translation. If it's wrong, excusez-moi!

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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