Stuff Yaron Finds Interesting

Technology, Politics, Food, Finance, etc.

Politics, religion and everything else you aren’t supposed to be able to talk about.

Manging group knowledge – you aren’t doing it wrong because it can’t be done right

My group at work is supposed to grow fast and there is a real concern that we will fragment and knowledge will be lost. I argue below that this is inevitable and largely unavoidable. But, more to the point, it’s probably not worth avoiding. And when it is worth avoiding? Know that you will need to pay someone on an ongoing basis to fix it. Data does not self organize.
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An open letter to the ACLU

For more years than I can count the ACLU has been the foundation of my giving each year. This year will be different, the ACLU will no longer serve as the foundation of my giving. The purpose of this letter is to explain why. My goal is not to convince you, ACLU, that I'm right, rather it is to help you understand my motivations. To the extent that I represent anyone but myself this insight might be useful in understanding at least some portion of your donor base. Or not, I can't really say. But I felt that the changes I'm making required some sort of explanation.
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A quick overview of the destruction of our most basic liberties and environment

We learn so much drivel in school and via the press that once you do manage to peak behind the curtain and start to understand the truth it can be quite overwhelming to realize how much you you need to un-learn and then really learn. Noam Chomsky has written an excellent article that outlines a few of those historical threads. In this case he looks at the freedoms that were provided by the Magna Carta and how they have been stripped away in America. Along the way he gives a quick history of how Blacks have always been but for a very short period and today still are really slaves in every meaningful sense in America and a few issues of environmental law. If you're interested in learning more at least about the American part of history that you probably weren't taught in school (assuming you went to school in America) I heartily recommend Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States"

Is the United States a Tyranny?

This of course depends on what tyranny means. The general definition is 'the arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power'. To me the key term is 'unrestrained'. In the United States we theoretically have three co-equal branches of government that are supposed to check each other. But those checks appear to have failed. As evidence just take a look at an article published in the Washington Post. What we see there is a well enumerated list of powers that are now held by the Presidency. Powers that explicitly allow for the unrestrained use of power by the President. Read More

Debt ceiling nonsense

In understanding the current debt 'crises' one needs to understand that it's all a show. A manufactured crises to enable both sides to push for radical changes that they otherwise didn't believe they could get through.

As FactCheck explains the debt ceiling has been regularly raised 78 times since the 1960s and in fact we have been close to default at least 3 times during the Clinton and George W. Bush presidencies. So there truly is nothing new here.

That doesn't mean, btw, that insanity on both sides couldn't actually result in a default. But if it does it's important to understand that we would be destroying our economy as a result of a manufactured crises that both sides decided to create in order to push their own agendas.

The water is boiling – American Democracy

For a long time now I’ve been convinced that America democracy is dying, if not dead. Our will to be a great democracy got broken somewhere along the line. Instead, all the evidence shows me that this country works exclusively for the small ruling elite who run the world’s corporations.
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The office of the privacy commissioner of Canada nails social network's business model

Thanks to the ACLU of Washington's blog I got a link to this outstanding video on the privacy commissioner of Canada's website. It absolutely nails what social networks are about from a business perspective and why users need to be concerned. This is just yet another argument for why we need open social networks that let users host and control their own data instead of being forced to live in other people's walled gardens. It's a pity that efforts like OpenSocial (which has absolutely nothing to do with freeing user's data) use the name "Open". Because we could really use a real OpenSocial. It wouldn't even be hard. Take a dollop of standardized data schemas, a side of REST and sprinkle some OpenID on top and you are basically there. For dessert we could even fix OAuth to enable true interoperability. [Ed. Note: I realize that my readership already understands what's in that video but maybe you can pass it on to your friends who haven't been quite clued in yet.]