Catching a Break (January 2016)

Most people
When finding
A moment
Worth embracing

May pause
For a moment
To consider
Consequences

Others
The doers
Swimming in
The Way

We glide
Wherever
The Universe
Calls us

Sometimes
To struggle
Sometimes
To celebration

Sometimes
So blessed
To others
Like us

Dance floors for Bernie

Inspired by Bernie Sanders' historic race for the presidency, we dedicated three of our monthly parties to Bernie and donated our proceeds—totaling nearly $1,000—to his campaign. My May 18 set at RECON 009: Bernie's Magic Hat moves through dreamy melodic house, tribal, minimal, dark, and jazzy phases.

A month building the movement back east

I spent most of April on the road, speaking in nearly a dozen cities alongside local organizers to bring together supporters of police accountability, civil rights, and surveillance-restricting reforms.

While the stories were too-many-to-count, a few highlights included:

  • Speaking at the U.S. Air Force Academy for an annual cybersecurity conference at the invitation and expense of the Department of Defense, where I had a chance to remind around 75 cadets, faculty, active duty military intelligence personnel, and intelligence contractors that they work for We the People of the United States—not any particular service branch, nor any federal Department, nor even the Commander-in-Chief—and what that means in terms of their ethical duties to refuse unlawful orders and expose classified secrets revealing operations unconstitutionally targeting Americans.

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 probably 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 As a matter of (perhaps unfortunate, but inescapable) fact, the FBI’s withdrawn demands would have created new threats with dangerous implications for millions of people.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....

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