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Got a big vocabulary? Your knowledge could feed the hungry

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Vermiculate. Lobscouse. Desuetude. Macerate.

Just about every American high school student who has planned to attend university has had to learn words such as these in preparation for the SAT exam that is used as part of the college admissions process.

Now, by learning these words, whether for fun or for test preparation, you can also help end hunger. A computer programmer created a Web site, Freerice.com, that throws multiple-choice vocabulary questions at you. For every one you answer correctly, the site donates 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. The first few questions are relatively easy, but as you answer questions correctly, subsequent ones become progressively more difficult.

Advertising income pays for the donated rice. The site averages close to 200,000 hits daily, and since October 7, 6.9 billion grains have been donated. How munificent.

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Who are the 10 most influential on climate change?

The Weather Channel recently announced something called the "Forecast Earth 2007 Hot List," billed as the world's most influential people when it comes to climate change. Most of the list is predictable, if a bit myopically focused on New York (New Yorkers always think their glorified provincial town is the capital of the universe):

  • Al Gore, former U.S. vice president
  • Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC chairman
  • Stephen Schneider, IPPC scientist and Stanford professor
  • Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist
  • Andrew Revkin, New York Times science reporter
  • Eileen Claussen, president, Pew Center on Global Climate Change
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor, the Republic of California
  • Majora Carter, executive director, Sustainable South Bronx
  • Van Jones, president, Ella Baker Center on Human Rights
The last honoree on the list? Wal-Mart. That ought to set some tongues wagging.