Yaba Yaba

what? another blog? you must be joking.

Archive for the ‘society’ Category

free soul food, or the Atheist food kitchen

with 2 comments

Clay Shirky asks:

Would it be possible to run an atheist soup kitchen? (This isn’t an entirely idle question…)


A soup kitchen needs some fixed assets (space, pots, plates), and a reliable supply of three resources:

  • Perishable goods, aka groceries.
  • Manpower
  • Modest finances to cover operating costs.

Let’s assume we have an intitial investment to cover fixed costs (from municipalities, foundations, etc.). The main challenge is sustaining a flow of resources over time. So –

Now, for some administrative health:

  • Use a wiki (such as wikia or google sites) to share organisational knowledge among kitchens.
  • Maintain a public facing blog, with at least 2 posts a day: one informational, one opinion.
  • Use google app engine to construct and manage your operations database.
  • Use ZohoCRM to manage supply chains.
  • List locations of your soup kitchens on http://www.google.com/local/add/businessCenter

And some PR:

  • Get the right people to blog about you.
  • Get some good viral videos out there on youtube.
  • Publish a constant flow of heart-warming stories of champion volonteers and some heart-breaking stories of your clients.

Most important:

Make a habit of innovation. Make your core service 5% more eficient each year, and use the residue to develop new services.

By the way, here in the civilised world we have an atheist soup kitchen, its called a welfare state. Not as streamlined, not as sexy, but it does keep people from freezing in the streets.


The secret to happiness? take a close look at Iceland

leave a comment »

Once again, Iceland tops the happiness charts. And how does it do it? Simple: freedom and equality. In Iceland, its perfectly ok for a woman to have kids, and have a life of her own. Which means, its also perfectly ok for a man to have a family life. Its perfectly ok for parents to trust their kids to full time childcare from infancy. Hey, its their kids – they must know what they’re doing. And its perfectly ok for people to split up if the spark has gone, and still retain their partnership as parents.

You’d think that’s a Icelandic oddity. I mean, hey, its the land of Björk, right? Well, actually, Dutch women don’t get depressed either. Why?

‘Equality is really a determinate for happiness,’ says de Bruin. She believes in the freedom of personal choices, ‘In the Netherlands, we are free to choose our own life. We are free to choose our religion, our own sexual orientation, and who we marry’ and she concludes, ‘All these freedoms make us happy.’

Let me tell you a secret. This is not about feminism. It’s not women’s freedom I’m concerned about, its my own. Equality goes both ways, and so do choice and freedom. If a woman can choose to have a career, a man can choose not to. Or they can choose to both have careers, AND have kids. Happy kids.

I once had a friend, she was a 17 yr old single mum. She could have married the dad, but she chose not too. She also chose to lead a normal, healthy, adventurous 17 yr old life. I asked her if she thought that was good for her kid. She said: the worst thing for child is a frustrated parent. I learnt my first lesson in parenting that day.

Oh, about Iceland? there’s an extra bonus. The economy goes zoooom. Makes sense, when you think of it. If you release another 50% of your cognitive and enterprenoural capacity, something’s gotta come back to you.

By the way, I had a good laugh watching the Guardian struggle with his own prejudices. Precious ‘ol British left. We can have fun with the Vikings, but at the end of the day, mums and babies belong at home.

| digg story

Written by yishaym

June 11, 2008 at 2:16 am

Posted in society

Tagged with , , , , ,

breaking my oath

leave a comment »

As a rule, I bluntly turn down sponsorship requests. If you can show me the logical link between you bungee jumping of Victoria falls and the welfare of blind cats, I’ll pay you a tenner. Otherwise, I’m happy to pay for you not to go. If you really want to help those cats, get a job, make some money, and do what you please with it.

But rules are made to be broken:

My dear friends,

As most of you know, Barnet Refugee Service is “my” organization. I was involved with it since its conception, was pregnant with it (as a team member and as an acting-coordinator of one of its parents organizations, which I had joined first as a volunteer in January 1999), and has been active in it in different capacities from the day it was born.

In the last 2 years I have been one of the trustees of this wonderful organization, and saw it going from strength to strength, recruiting more staff for more projects, assisting more and more clients, who – due to tightening of immigration legislation and withdrawing of support from asylum seekers – are becoming more and more destitute and desperate.

One of the things we offer our clients is legal advice – an invaluable stuff in times when most of the good immigration solicitors had withdrew their services, yet again because of bad government policy. A newish piece of legislation limits Legal Aid funding to such a few hours per asylum case, that the good law firms declared that under these conditions they cannot possibly prepare a strong asylum claim or represent clients in Home Office interviews and further legal proceedings. The disastrous result of this is that many asylum seekers are being refused asylum and returned to their countries to face persecution and possible death.

Another frustrating fact which we need to address now is huge funding cuts that we recently suffered, and that is despite our commended services and successful outcomes year by year. We are not the only charity who suffered these cuts of public funding from the Lottery Fund and I guess we can thank the Olympic games for that…

SO, we need your help. I won´t go on about our great aims and ethos and won´t go into further details of the services we offer – you can read all that on our website at http://www.barnetrefugeeservice.org.uk/.

I would just ask you to sponsor me (and/or Rony…) in a 10 km walk we will join ON 19th May as detailed below,




The 4th London Legal Support Trust  sponsored walk is a 10 km circle round London’s legal landmarks which starts at the Royal Courts of Justice at 5.30 and ends at the Law Society.
Last year 1,800 walkers raised over £200,000.
Your donation will go directly to BRS and will help us to provide advice and support to  asylum seekers who have fled persecution.

To sponsor me please go to www.justgiving.com/BarnetRefugeeService

If you prefer to send a cheque, please make it payable to “Barnet Refugee Service” and send it with a completed GiftAid form (attached) to:
BRS, c/o Peter Salomon, 30 Gurney Drive, London, N2 0DG

To join the walk and find your own sponsors please contact Peter Salomon at p@kandps.co.uk .


PS. as it happens, we are also looking for new trustees to join us in our AGM in July. If I got you interested in BRS – why not volunteer a few hours per month and offer your skills and experience to better the lives of those fleeing persecution?

Written by yishaym

May 15, 2008 at 1:19 am

Bread for the poor or circuses for the rich?

with 6 comments

Justin asks: Global Food Crisis: The Limits of Free Market Thinking? The current tide is definitely a wake-up call. But I think Victor Lebow carries more blame than Milton Freedman or Adam Smith (if you haven’t yet, go see the story of stuff. It gives a lot to think about in this context).

The problem is not with the invisible hand, its with the strong hand, which promotes over-consumption of non-sustainable goods, subsidizes meat production (which feeds much less people per hectare) and prioritizes bio-fuelled humvees over wind-farm powered powered public transport. The problem is not with the economic system (there’s frankly very little difference between one and the other nowadays). The problem is with base values.

Mapping electoral fraud in Zimbabwe

with one comment

Here’s another great story from Ethan Zukerman on how political activists are using technology to balance the advantage of the organized state. I think that’s what Clay Shirky means by here comes everybody.

… All this is useful context in considering the project that activist organization Sokwanele announced today: a Googlemaps mashup of election-rigging incidents. Each icon on the map corresponds to a media report of an incident that controvenes SADC standards for a free and fair election. Clicking on an icon will take you to the issue of Sokwanele’

digg story

Written by yishaym

March 27, 2008 at 6:04 pm

Mazel Tov and a rant

with 6 comments

Cory Doctorow and Alice Taylor are, as Clive calls it, out of beta. A big Mazel Tov, and a second one for having it their way. Personally, I think home birth is a bad idea, and I have some private experience to back that, but I’m not here to discuss my private choices or theirs. I’m really happy for them. Every child is a miracle. Childbirth is the most amazing experience in the human repertoire, and we should never take it for granted when it all goes well. My kids are my dearest treasure, and the one thing in my life I am unreservedly proud of. I wish them the same.

One thing pissed me off though, among the many blessings and congradulations, I find FoetusNail who contributes:

Congratulations on her birth and kudos for having a her at home where mommies and babies belong! Born green, live green!

(my emphasis).

So here’s my message to you, FoetusNail: Who the fling are you to tell someone else where they belong? Please detach your backward sexism and puritan family values from any suggestion of “green”, “hip” or otherwise forward thinking ethics.

Mommies belong where they choose to be and how they choose to live.

Daddies belong where they choose to be and how they choose to live.

Babies belong where their parents decide is best for them.

I’ve bloody had it with western family-fundamentalism, where a mum is considered inadequate if she thinks she’s entitled for a life of her own, and a dad is considered a looser if he prefers to spend time with his kids and not with business associates at the local. No wonder women in the UK take off 70% of depression related sick days and at least a fifth are taken by women aged between 35 and 44. What kind of society thinks that an adult person can be content changing nappies and planning the next sponsored pony ride at school coffee morning for 10 years of her life?

You know, in most “primitive” societies, it is perfectly normal for a woman to leave her 3 months old baby with an older relative, or with a decent child care service, and get back to her job. Maybe its time for the west to take a humble lesson in equality and social inclusion.

Written by yishaym

February 4, 2008 at 12:00 pm

truth, statistics and damn good visualization

leave a comment »

Hans Rosling takes on common myths about east-west, north-south, and tears them to shreds. And he does it using brilliant visualizations of undeniable facts. Statistics as you’ve never seen it before.
The only divide is in our prejudice. Not between Africa and Europe or North America and Asia, but between countries which tend to their citizen’s health and welfare, and those that don’t.

If you stick with it to the end, you’ll even learn why the OLPC is so important (hint here).

And some of the tools he uses are available online: http://tools.google.com/gapminder/


Written by yishaym

August 13, 2007 at 10:44 am