The Bank Of Zippy

I’m not much for proselytizing, but this is a pretty great thing that I think most of the people (all 6 of you) that read this blog would be interested in…

Yes, that’s right, people, we are now open for business here at the Bank of Zippy. Get your microfinance loans here today!

Maybe some background would help: A friend of mine recently brought to my attention a website called The site basically links funding sources (that’s me) all the way through a tangle of connections to individual entrepreneurs in the third world.

This is starting to sound like some sort of spam email…let me start again.

Here are four people:

Nasihat Toshmatova Hafiz Allah Tahar Nighat Bibi’<p>s Group Mohamad Maki

You can read more about each of them by clicking on their picture.

For example, Nasihat (on the far left) was looking for a loan to invest in her fruit and vegetable stall in the market in the Asht region of Tajikistan.

Next to her is Hafiz, who lives in Kabul in Afghanistan. He’s starting a little grocery store to make money to care for his wife and child. His loan request was posted to the site on Mar 11. By March 14 it had been funded by donors ($25 from the Bank of Zippy!). On March 15 (that was yesterday), in the 15th district of Kabul, he got his money in the form of an 18 month loan.

Then there’s the group of women in Pakistan and the 22 year-old guy from southern Lebanon.

They are all now in my loan “portfolio”, which was pulled from some money I had stashed in my Paypal account. Today I got an email that said that Nasihat got her money ($25 more from the bank of Zippy). She’ll be paying it back monthly and in 9 months I’ll have my money back and she and her three kids will be better off because of it. As time passes, I’ll get updates on how things are going with each of the four loan recipients. How great is that!

I feel like I’m sounding a little like an infomercial here, but I’m just trying to say that this is pretty cool and it seems like an amazingly simple way to have a profound impact on someone’s life. You can find out more here.


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A Strange Tour

I have been fortunate enough to travel fairly regularly over the past few years. Enough so, in fact, that I have pretty much given up on buying souvenirs. There are only so many places in one house that you can put little useless knickknacks. The wooden giraffe goes on the windowsill. The tiny little painted box from Russia (too small to hold anything) goes on the bookshelf. The orthodox icon from Romania next to the Russian box.

Quite a while ago, I started dealing with this problem by collecting small rocks or handfuls of sand. This seemed like a better way to remember the place, especially considering my accessory interest in geology. I’ve developed a pretty good collection by now which represents some of the places I’ve visited, although not all (the pebble I grabbed from inside the Great Pyramid in Giza has somehow gone missing — I’m trying to decide if I should be worried about this — and I have nothing from my several trips to South America).

All of this has resulted in a shelf full of baby food jars containing sand, which you are welcome to examine if you ever come over to my house, which leads me to the geeky part of this post. Last night I was playing around with Google Earth (rapid travel! no pesky jetlag!) and made up a partial list of the locations where I’ve gathered samples (yes, for many of these I also gathered GPS coordinates — how embarrassing).

So, while this may not be at all interesting to anyone else, I am presenting today the Google Earth file (download Google Earth here) which will allow you to tour along with me to a few places in the world which have been significant to me and from which I have brought home a small piece. So I present to you, the Sand Tour (make sure your “Terrain” option is turned on).


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Link: History of Religion in 90 Seconds

How has the geography of religion evolved over the centuries, and where has it sparked wars? Our map gives us a brief history of the world’s most well-known religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism.

Link via Boing Boing

other people's words

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Did you see…

…Perseus last night, lobbing fireballs every which way? I drove myself out to the desert to sleep, well, not really to sleep, under the meteors. It was impossible to close my eyes with the sparks flying back and forth. What fun! I met and made friends with Andromeda. She was looking radiant, chained though she was. And her mother and father were there too and they spun together in one vast wheel above me with Pegasus the winged horse in the lead.

Early in the morning, the Pleiades leapt up in the east, late for the party, grasping at Perseus’ heels. Finally at around 2:30, I fell asleep, only to wake again in a few hours to find them all spun round above me. Someone had moved the sky while I was looking away.

A few more fireballs slashing their way across the sky and then they all faded into the blue as the sun rose. And I crawled out of my sleeping bag on the top of that picnic table in the Mojave Desert and got in my car and drove home.


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