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Rhyming and bumpin' beats for Bernie

I spun my first old-school funk set at the Elbo Room in San Francisco's Mission District on Thursday, March 31, 2016 for a "Bern, Baby, Bern" party. This was my biggest gig since Catharsis in DC last fall...

...and gave me a chance to MC live over my DJ set, dropping a reminder that "we'll start by putting Bernie in office in November…."

The Hubris of Investigators

We published another article about the Apple vs. FBI encryption controversy on TechCrunch and cross-posted it on EFF's Deeplinks blog. Beyond reprising some of the arguments I made in earlier posts about the issue, this piece emphasized the lack of transparency surrounding the FBI's activities generally, and the Bureau's long history of violating legal limits and abusing constitutional rights:

[W]hat investigators sought would not make anyone safe. As a matter of (perhaps unfortunate, but inescapable) fact, the FBI’s withdrawn demands would have created new threats with dangerous implications for millions of people.

Finally, this latest controversy highlights once again the need for meaningful congressional oversight.....Congress must finally investigate the federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies, reform the bloated and dysfunctional classification system, and enforce at least a modicum of meaningful transparency so the public can know what our government is doing to us.

A 6 month anniversary mix

I recorded this tech, latin, and deep jazzy house mix live at the 6 month anniversary of RECON, the monthly party I throw with my housemate every third Wednesday. It starts out with tech house, grows a bit groovier, and slides through some afrobeat, latin and jazzy house, before settling back into tech house for a solid half hour and then mellowing out at the end.

Defending encryption: a tool enabling privacy, security, and democracy

When the FBI appeared before a magistrate judge in Southern California and demanded unprecedented powers to reach into your pocket to hack your prosthetic brain, I'd been working at EFF for about six months. One rarely knows in the moment which ones will prove to be momentous, or particularly memorable, but the controversy sparked by Apple's powerful resistance to the FBI's latest power grab thrust our work into the center of public attention for weeks.

Calling out corruption from coast-to-coast

We've published two of my pieces at EFF so far this month, one addressing executive secrecy and denial at the federal level among national security officials and the Obama administration, and another concerning executive secrecy at the county level.

The first, White House Executive Order on Privacy Falls Short, observed that:

If the Obama administration wants to support privacy, it can start by finally offering straight answers to Congress on surveillance and intelligence practices that offend privacy. Instead, Congress has legislated surveillance policy in the dark while enduring a long series of executive misrepresentations.

Spiritual Asteroid Field

One night back in 2010, I was working on music with my current housemate while visiting SF when a spontaneous attempt to circumvent a creative roadblock launched us raging into the street on an epic escapade. It ultimately entailed wrangling a pair of software engineers (who had long noticed each other but never hung out before) back to his home studio, where we wrote and recorded this track in a memorable fit of sustained delirium.

The lyrics riff on Star Wars, Burning Man, and the Mission district in San Francisco, which I've long considered my vibrational home. After we recorded the lyrics, the song gestated for five years until I moved back to SF and then, today, hatched as this:

I'm kinda amped about the name that Adam & I came up with to describe our collaboration: ¡PuhJAMA! It stands for "the Jewish and Muslim Alliance," inspired by a video we'd posted over the holidays of an ecumenical moonwalk home wielding a Christmas tree.

And, just to stick with the theme of ecumenical music, I spun this meandering two hour set for an activist awards ceremony at a Unitarian Universalist church near my office:

Getting back on the mic after a hiatus

Among the many aspects of working at EFF that I adore is the opportunity to help represent the public interest on so many issues within the digital rights arena.  For much of 2015, I took a break from talking to journalists about policy issues, but I got back on the mic over the holidays and have tried to wield it well in the new year.

While most of my writing and press appearances in January addressed various dimensions of surveillance and the constitutional crisis it has unleashed, this discussion offered a chance to explore some concerns about social media undermining civil society:

Read on for links to another dozen articles, quotes, and interviews from early 2016....

Bumpin beats for my colleagues

My office is so amazing that our staff holiday party started at a theater, where we all went to see Star Wars on the afternoon of its debut! I went to the theater straight after talking at a rally against hate at Civic Center, where I reflected on how being the targets of ignorant vitriol is (perhaps counter-intuively) making Muslims in the U.S. even more quintessentially American than we already were.

After the movie, we shared dinner together before I spun this set—which later reached #15 on Mixcloud's funky chart—to christen our new office. Having just watched Star Wars Episode VII together, I tried to honor the occasion by including the Cantina Band song from the original Episode IV, as well as Jamiroquai’s Use the Force. But my favorite part of the mix has to the mashup I put together as an ode to my colleagues.

 

Shahid Buttar live @ EFF’s 2015 holiday party in SF (12.18.2015) by Shahid Buttar on Mixcloud

 

Catharsis: like nothing I've seen before

While recently visiting the West Bank for an annual olive harvest festival with Code Pink and Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, I learned about Catharsis, an unprecedented event I described on the Burning Man blog as:

Equal parts vigil, symposium, occupation, fire conclave, effigy burn, and party-until-dawn-under-the-stars...combin[ing] playa culture, strategic location, and an explicit sociopolitical message resonating across the ideological spectrum. From Friday evening until Sunday morning, the event brought together thousands of participants from across the country to combine ecstatic celebration with activism, peer-to-peer learning, and private diplomacy to help heal from the Drug War.

My DJ set from Saturday night, just before the effigy burn, was among my most exciting highlights of the year. It's not often one gets to rock the spot across the street from the White House, mixing deep house and MLK Jr. samples for a few thousand of my favorite people!

 

A downtempo, then dreamy, tribal, funky, and conscious deep house mix recorded live at Catharsis on the National Mall in Washington, DC (11.21.2015) by Shahid Buttar on Mixcloud

 

Ferguson and the Second Amendment

This Sunday (at the same time as I was leaving Black Rock City), Truthout published my latest writing, examining what the Ferguson uprising -- and the paramilitary response to it -- mean for constitutional rights guaranteed under the Second Amendment. Side-stepping the conventional debate between gun control vs. gun rights, this piece explores how:

The contemporary gun rights debate misses the point of the Second Amendment. A crucial piece of our constitutional design, it is neither the relic dismissed by liberals nor the panacea praised by conservatives. Understood correctly, the Second Amendment is most threatened not by gun control, but rather by the militarization of domestic police.

[I also had a chance to discuss these ideas in this podcast a few weeks later]

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