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September 20, 2006

Happy MacArthur Day!

MacArthur logo

Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year, the day that the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced this year's MacArthur Fellows. The Fellowships (unofficially but universally known as "genius awards") give a select few people working in the arts, science, or the humanities a cool half million dollars each, no strings attached.

The thing that I love so much about the MacArthurs (besides the basic karmic goodness of an organization that out of the blue just gives folks doing great work big-ass piles of cash) is that I get to learn about a bunch of amazing people I never would have heard of otherwise. Sure, like millions of parents, I've introduced my kids to the great picture books of new MacArthur recepient David Macaulay and I've listened to the music of John Zorn, but I had no idea about the amazing things being done by some of these other people.

For instance, check out D. Holmes Morton, a country doctor in Pennsylvania who specializes in treating genetic disorders in Amish children. Or Josiah McElheny, who creates astonishing sculptural works in glass. Or Linda Griffith, who's figuring out new ways to grow human tissue in the laboratory.

Tell you what... take five minutes, look at the full list of this year's MacArthur Fellows, and read the bio of someone you find interesting. It's worth it.

P.S. It was my great pleasure to once work for someone who later received a MacArthur fellowship, broadcasting visionary Bill Siemering.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at September 20, 2006 09:28 PM