Thursday, December 04, 2008

gift idea and hot investment tip

Yay for Python 3.0! You knew I had to say that. I'm not actually using 3.0 or even 2.6 very seriously yet, though Brandon Rhodes showed me how to use comprehension for dictionaries, and that's just awesome. So I'm going to try to switch as soon as cx_Oracle and pyparsing are ready.

Anyway, I do have one more nontechnical thing I've just got to talk about. I want to do some free advertising for Microplace, a microcredit investment site. I discovered them a few months ago and was delighted with how smooth and easy they made it to place a microcredit investment. It was as professionally done as a good bank's site, and there is enormous choice in where you want your investment to go.

They're also doing a promotion right now where they'll give you a handmade piggy bank! I got one unexpectedly about a month ago, and I absolutely love it.

The picture really doesn't do it justice - it's delightfully cute. More, the tactile and audio sensation of plunking a coin into it is just... astonishingly satisfying. It's just exactly the way a piggy bank should look, feel, and sound, the Platonic ideal of "piggy bank". I find a nickel under the couch cushions and I practically dance over to the bank to plunk it in. I'm going to get another for my nephew for Christmas. This is what you should get somebody for Christmas (or any other gift-giving occasion).

Obviously, from an investor's point of view, microcredit sucks. The interest rate probably won't even keep up with inflation. That's OK. This is not serious capitalism; this is more like making a loan to a friend in need. I like it that way. Generally, what we hope to buy with money is satisfaction anyway - buying stuff we hope will satisfy us. If I put $200 in a standard investment for a couple years, maybe it would earn me enough to go see a movie, and maybe the movie would be satisfying. But the thought that the money is actually hard at work in somebody's life - that's vastly more satisfying, in my book. (I also find it a handy way to squirrel away little self-earmarked savings funds. If I intend to put aside $100 toward a future bathroom remodeling, but I put it into my regular savings account, I am really bad at keeping track of my specific intention for that money; it just vanishes into the ebb and flow of funds. But it's easy to remember that the $100 investment to Tanzania has a specific purpose.)

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