Stuff Yaron Finds Interesting

Technology, Politics, Food, Finance, etc.

A Buyer's Guide to Standards

This article talks about the two criteria a technology buyer can apply to determine if the 'open standard' they are intended to rely on is really open at all. Those criteria are – licensing and change control.

Licensing controls who gets to implement the standard and what price they have to pay to do it. Open standards are licensed under 'royalty free' terms which means that anyone can implement the standard any time they want without having to pay any money or ask anyone's permission. Closed standards are almost universally RAND or RAND-Z based.

Change control identifies who has the right to say what the standard is and change it as time goes on. Open standards are owned by open standards organizations which have reasonably open membership and voting procedures to approve standards that can not be hijacked by a small group of people/companies. Closed standards either haven't been submitted to any open standards organization, have been submitted under dubious circumstances or have been submitted to pseudo-open standards organizations created to provide the veneer of openness.

Of these two criteria licensing is the most critical. If you check nothing else, check the license because if it isn't royalty free it isn't open.

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9/11 + 1

It was on September 11th, a year and one day ago, that among my first thoughts after learning of the attacks was that our government, my government, the government of the United States of America would use these attacks as an excuse to obliterate as many of our freedoms as they could possibly get away with.

It seems to be an absolute of all governments that they can not resist seeking to usurp as much power as possible. To strip their citizens, those from whom their very power is sourced, of as many rights as they can possibly get away with.

Messrs Bush and Ashcroft have certainly not disappointed.

Currently a U.S. citizen rots in a jail cell without due process. A U.S. citizen, arrested on U.S. soil has been handed over to the military, stripped of the most fundamental rights of due process, denied the right to an open trial, denied the right to appeal to the civilian courts, denied the rights that this country guarantees to all of its citizens. He is denied these rights because we have a President and an Attorney General who apparently do not believe in the American Constitution, who apparently do not believe in the America judicial system. They seem to fear our courts, they seem to fear our democracy, so they take acts which appear to me to be subversions of both institutions. All in a good cause of course.

It's always a good cause that strips us of our freedoms. Take a look at H.R. 3162, the USA Patriot Act, passed by roughly 83% in the congress and 98% in the senate. After looking at the provisions of this act can one reasonably conclude other than the Senate and House have violated their oaths of office (Congress/Senate)? Can one look at H.R. 3162 and not see a direct attack upon the American Constitution?

Given the provisions of H.R. 3162 I must admit that I am just a tiny bit scared of writing this Blog entry. I realize that the chance that anything will happen to me because of it is vanishingly small but still I know that most likely somewhere deep inside a government web crawler is a little red flag attached to this page. Hopefully the weighting algorithm they use to decide which pages deserve further scrutiny won't mark this one. But still, I am forced to wonder. This is what is called a 'chilling effect'.

Which brings us finally to the point of this entry, Insurance.

As I have previously discussed, one must be vigilant in paying up one's freedom insurance. Might I suggest the ACLU? To get a really good idea of why the ACLU is a great place to send your freedom insurance premium please read their booklet on what they have been doing since 9/11/2001. I don't always agree with everything the ACLU does but I sleep a lot better knowing they are around. Give, give early and give often.

Jewish Democracy

Israel exists as a contradiction – a Jewish Democracy. Inevitably this means one type of life for those who are Jews and another for everyone else. Perhaps this situation could be sustained if Jews were the overwhelming majority in Israel. It is possible, after all, to protect a very small minority (say 2%-5% of the population) from discrimination. But today, within the green line, 22.5% of the population isn't Jewish and their numbers are rising rapidly. No government can protect over 20% of its population from discrimination. Even if the government could the birth rate tells the rest of the story. Unless all American and European Jews get up and move to Israel we can expect the non-Jewish Israeli population to rise well above its current 22.5%. In fact Israel's own numbers estimate (using the medium variant) that by 2020 roughly 26.6% of the Israeli population won't be Jewish. Israel must face the reality that its future must be to find an identity that allows it to be a country of all of its citizens.

Manufacturing Outsiders

For the first time ever Israel has stripped the citizenship of one of its citizens. Nahad Abu Kishaq, an Israeli citizen charged with being a key figure in Hamas as well as being responsible for the deaths of numerous Israelis has had his citizenship stripped. I can't begin to express how illegitimate this action is. Meanwhile, Israel is getting very worried about foreign workers and has convened a government sponsored group to explore how to increase population, the Jewish one that is. How can democracy, which is only supposed to recognize its citizens as individuals, reconcile itself with being Jewish? How can Jews reconcile themselves with a history that leaves no doubt that no form of government, democratic or otherwise can protect them save a government of the Jews for the Jews? How does an ethical person respond to the inability of democracy to deal with the tribal nature of humanity? How do we see the other as ourselves? How do we find a way for us all, first and foremost as people, to live in peace?

Engagement Rings

It was late 2000 and I knew I wanted to marry my girlfriend. So I did what I always do, I researched. After some searching I bought a book called Just Say Yes! How Real-Life Romeos (and Juliets) Popped the Question" by Kathryn Mills, Debbie Appel, & Kristan Ginther. Reading all the different stories put me in the right mood to figure out a meaningful and beautiful way to propose.

Next came the ring. Here are my observations on buying an Engagement Ring:

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False Propaganda

The Christian Science Monitor (one of my favorite websites) has a great article explaining how the 'babies taken from incubators' story during the first gulf war was started and propagated (like most iconic events, it never actually happened). I recognize that the techniques and players are old hat but I thought it would be interesting to read how a main stream paper plays the story. In the general CSM tradition it plays it pretty straight.