iTien Blog
Late to the blogging world but better than never

September 2007
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The Greatest Gift
Filed under: General, Community
Posted by: Alan @ 10:48 am

My cousin-in-law (relationship easily viewable on Geni) Steven gave me the greatest gift - a box of 10 Science Fiction books that he finished reading and thought were good.

I read Dan Simmon’s Ilium and Olympos and thought they were ok.  Interesting take on mixing Greek mythology and science fiction.

But I just finished Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson.  It’s awesome!!  It explores the question of whether we as an “intelligent’ species can plateau our population under the Earth’s sustainable limits.  Check out this page (BTW, this Amazon online reader is pretty amazing); 

But it also has really elegant writing, something rare in SF books.  The books starts with the line, “Everybody falls, and we all land somewhere.”  Essentially an optimistic perspective, the cup half full.

I feel a lot of what I am working on is tied together in this book:
Staying connected with Family and Friends - the thread holding the book together - my job at Geni.
Helping the truly poor who cannot help themselves - like a “Fourth” in Spin - my work with Grameen.
Longer term view on how to help our species live sustainably on Earth - the premise of Spin - my work with JUCCCE.

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Grameen China
Filed under: Community, China
Posted by: Alan @ 4:02 pm

One of our Grameen Shanghai volunteers, Jessica Beaton, has just published an article in this month’s Shanghai Business Review about microfinance in China.   

Here is the link to a PDF version (please go to page 30 of the magazine):

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JUCCCE fundraiser - Nov 10th at Kathleen’s 5
Filed under: General
Posted by: Alan @ 12:53 pm

I’m hoping to reproduce the success we had with the Grameen awareness dinner back in April for JUCCCE.  Hopefully, we can raise some good money to support JUCCCE’s infrastructure.  Here’s the event registration page, using EventBrite, a site founded by Geni’s CTO.

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How to get Chinese locals to donate?
Filed under: China
Posted by: Alan @ 6:51 pm

I posted this question on JUCCCE’s FB group.  Here was my comment:

We are planning on starting fundraising with expats and Westerners, but
why don’t Chinese locals donate? Everyone knows there are TONS of
super-rich locals. Why don’t they feel obligated to help their own
country? Why should Westerners pay all the money?

Culturally, there isn’t the pressure to give, the guilt of not giving, probably
stemming from Christianity in the West. In the East, it’s take care of
your family.

There’s the traditional lack of stability. In the
West, if you have $X millions in the bank, your relatively sure your
future, and maybe even the future of your next few generations, is
taken care of. But this is changing quickly - especially with offshore
accounts :)

In China, rich people don’t like to get on the
Forbes Richest list. They like to stay anonymous. One, they get hit up
by tons of relatives. Second, who knows where that money really came

Finally, China doesn’t give tax breaks for donations. In
fact, there are very few non-profits you can even donate too! A
hypothetical question: if US did not make donations tax deductible, how
charitable would US citizens be?

Interesting article here BTW:

how do we get past these barriers and get Chinese locals to open their
pocketbooks? See my previous post for to generate some general ideas,
but I think we need some specific tactics for China.

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Is going to war a legitimate economic decision?
Filed under: General
Posted by: Alan @ 6:47 pm

I don’t usually answer these SNS questions, whether on FB or LinkedIn, but for some reason this jumped out at me, probably because I’m listening to John Keegan’s A History of Warfare.  Here’s what I wrote:

Tricky word, legitimate:

le·git·i·mate (l-jt-mt)


1. Being in compliance with the law; lawful: a legitimate business.

Maybe only for civil wars is a war following the “law”, of course from
only one side’s perspective. Since we don’t really have int’l law, I
think it’s difficult to say wars between foreign powers are legit by
this definition. I think Rik’s answer is based on this definition.

2. Being in accordance with established or accepted patterns and standards: legitimate advertising practices.

I think Richard’s answer is based on this second definition. It may
be an “established standard” to go to war against evil (another
point-of-view word).

3. Based on logical reasoning; reasonable: a legitimate solution to the problem.

I think your question probably is based on this definition, with some morale undertones.

Ultimately, people will fight over constrained resources. Rarely will
some people just give up and die. I’m concerned about China - US
relationships as China increases its energy consumption and continues
to gain int’l power. That’s why I’m helping out with JUCCCE - Joint
US-China Cooperation on Clean Energy (

An interesting book is A History of Warfare by John Keegan. He
argues that the theory that war is an extension of politics is actually
a pretty recent hypothesis, and that history offers plenty of examples
where this isn’t the case. In regards to your question, economics may
be the outwardly “logical” reason for a war, but there may be other
irrational factors at play as well, such as nationalism and racism.

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