Galactic: New Year’s Eve 2013/2014 at the Atrium

“It’s the happiest I’ve seen you since I can’t remember when …”

– more than one friend, to me, October-December 2013

DSC00233Indeed!

The last few months have been great: working on an exciting project, and (finally!) hanging out online at a positive, diverse, site with interesting people and great discussions.  And even though 2013 as a whole was difficult , there were plenty of good times; and excellent progress on my resolutions like spending more time with friends and family, meditating regularly, reducing stress and sleeping better.  So no wonder I’m happy!

DSC00605The first two-thirds of the year was pretty challenging. Things happen for a reason, though, and I certainly learned (and grew!) a lot. Even though it turned out not to be a great fit for me, the role of “Senior VP of Products” running an international engineering and product management organization was incredibly valuable experience – including areas like mobile and web service development that were new to me. DSC01141And while the family health crisis that cropped up just as I was leaving the job wasn’t a lot of fun, it was very fortunate that it happened at a time when I could prioritize what really mattered without feeling like I was letting people down at work … and even more fortunate that it resolved the way it did, with a full recovery!

After all the turmoil, it’s been really good for me to roll up my sleeves and do some programming again.  Of course there’s also the usual frustrations: learning a new platform, database, and programming environment, all of which have their share of quirks, and running into the same kind of annoying glitches that have always been a part of software development.

Still, what I’m building is attractive, usable on phones and tablets as well as laptops, and has a surprising amount of functionality … and it’s a great feeling that it’s already at the point where D and I and several friends are using it regularly. Oh yeah, that’s right, I *am* pretty good at this software engineering stuff :)

DSC01486As usual we’re kicking off the new year at a psytrance party — Galactic, with DJ Anomaly at the Atrium!  We shall see what 2014 holds, but as of now I’m quite optimistic. It feels like a very positive trajectory, in contrast to last year (when I didn’t even do a blog post) and even the year before (where I just couldn’t wait for 2011 to get over).

And it really is the happiest I’ve been in a long time!

 

 

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Restore the Fourth: Grassroots civil liberties activism is back and better than ever!

Restore the Fourth rally on the Federal Building, NY


It’s the Fourth of July, and we’re fighting for our civil liberties.

me, in 2008, to the Senator Obama – Please, No Telecom Immunity and Get FISA Right mailing list

Five years later, grassroots civil liberties activism on social networks is back and better then ever.  Back in 2008, we were organizing online, trying to stop the disastrous FISA Amendment Act, and Barack Obama had just responded to our open letter.  We lost that battle, but the fight goes on … and today it went to the next level at Restore the Fourth‘s rallies across the country:

New York

How cool is that?

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Happy Birthday Get FISA Right: Looking forward to what comes next!

Cross-posted on Get FISA Right

Red white and blue birthday cakeGet FISA Right started on June 26, 2008, with posts by Mardi S on my.barackobama.com and Mike Stark on Open Left. We were the first high-profile grassroots social network activism campaign in the US and got enough attention that Obama responded to our open letter. Still, we and our allies lost that battle over the disastrous FISA Amendments Act. And since then, it’s been more of the same.

Five more years of the NSA vacuuming up our phone and internet information.

Five more years without meaningful oversight.

Five more years of evasion and outright lies in Congressional testimony.

Five more years of secret court rulings.

Five more years of legal maneuvering to try to prevent EFF, ACLU, or anybody else from challenging the laws’ constitutionality.

Five more years of Patriot Act and FISA reauthorization.

Happy f—ing birthday.

But after the firestorm of publicity in response to the recent leaks, I’m increasingly optimistic that momentum is building for a change.

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TSA Comments due *Monday*, 11:59 p.m. Eastern

If you’re tired of the TSA to electronically strip-searching us, abusing and humiliating people, making kids cry, and wasting billions of dollars on technology that doesn’t actually make us more secure, make sure to file your comments by Monday June 24 at 11:59 p.m.   You can theoretically  submit comments online via regulations.gov (although as I write this the site isn’t working), or by FAX or mail.   See the first reply to this post for more about how to file comments. Continue Reading »

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Day of Action, Monday, June 17: Tell the TSA to End Nude Body Scanners

With less than two weeks left to comment on the ‘nude body scanners’ in airports — and civil liberties on the front pages — it’s time for a final push to get the word out.  So a loose coalition of grassroots volunteers and privacy and civil liberties organizations is calling for a “Day of Action” on Monday June 17.  If you’re sick and tired of wasting billions of dollars and giving up your rights and dignity whenever toy fly, read on for how you can help — and why it matters.

Effective comments – and why they matter

Back in 2010, EPIC sued the Department of Homeland Security to prevent the “advanced imaging technology” (aka nude body scanners) from being used as primary screening in airports.   The court ruled against them on most counts, but agreed that the TSA had violated the law by failing to get public feedback before introducing the machines.  The TSA finally started the ‘rulemaking process’ in March this year, and the deadline is on June 24.

People and organizations can submit comments online via regulations.gov, or by FAX or mail (see the first comment for information on FAX and mail).  The number of comments sent in to the TSA matter. If the TSA doesn’t get a lot of comments, they’ll say it shows that most people don’t have any problem with the body scanners or TSA’s other security procedures. But if there’s a much more vocal response, it’s much harder for the TSA to ignore them – they’re required by law to reply to all the issues that are brought up in the commenting period.

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Tell the TSA what you think about nude body scanners!

Airline passengers have been walking through full-body scanners for nearly five years, but only now are fliers getting a chance to officially tell the federal government what they think about the screening machines.

In response to a lawsuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit ruled that the Transportation Security Administration could continue to use the scanners as a primary method of screening passengers. But the court ordered the TSA to give the public a 90-day comment period, which the agency did not do when it launched the scanning program.

The TSA began the comment period online in March, and so far it has been getting an average of 26 comments a day — nearly all of which blast the TSA and the scanners for a variety of reasons.

– Hugo Martin, Public Gets Chance to Comment on TSA’s Full-body scanners, LA Times, April 21

There are now over 4500 comments on regulations.gov, and sentiment continue to be overwhelmingly against the scanners.   There are so many reasons to oppose them, it’s hard to know where to start: rights, effectiveness, cost, fairness, culture … see the Twitter Privacy chat discussion or EPIC’s preliminary analysis (PDF) for more details.  So it’s a golden opportunity for the loose but broad coalition fighting for a more sensible and less abusive approach to airport security to get the word out about the commenting  period and encourage people to submit their own comments.

This is one of the situations where numbers are important.  If the TSA only gets a small number of comments, they’ll say it shows that most people don’t have any issues and it’s only a “tiny but vocal” minority who is complaining.  But if there are a lot of comments, it’s much harder for the TSA to ignore them (they’re required by law to reply to all the issues that are brought up in the commenting period).  A loud enough outcry is likely to get media coverage and maybe even help politicians realize that hey, there’s an issue here that can make them very popular with their constituents!

So to start with, please file your own comments.  The most effective comments use your own language, instead of cut-and-paste boilerplate.  EPIC recommends that commenters support “Regulatory Alternative #3″ (the use of walk through metal detectors and explosive trace detection devices), support the right of passengers to opt out, describe the devices as “Nude Body Scanners”, and include personal experiences.   See below for instructions on how to use the regulations.gov to submit comments — as well as how to send them in by FAX or mail if you prefer.

Once you’ve done that, here are a few easy ways you can help get the word out:

  1. Share links on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Google+, and whatever social networks you hang out on.  A few good links to share: EPIC’s summary page, the direct link to the “docket” on regulations.gov, and the Slashdot thread, articles from Mashable and the Verge, or this blog post!
  2. Email links to people and mailing lists you think will be interested.
  3. Look for tweets on the #tsacomments and #tsa hashtags (or from @TSAComments) and retweet them
  4. Look for good comments on regulations.gov, and tweet them or share them on your favorite social networks.
  5. If you blog, write a short post.   Consider including your comments (or at least excerpts from them), and make sure to include a link to the regulations.gov page.
  6. Sign up for Reddit, and vote up TSA-related stories.  [Why Reddit?  It's been a hotbed of activism on other civil liberties issues like SOPA and CISPA, and there's a lot of political discussion there as well, so there are likely to be a lot of allies there.]

Question: what other suggestions do people have?

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A Rainbow of Light: Replenishing at the Atrium

A rainbow of light

Candles and colors
Replenishing energy.
A rainbow of light

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Notes from Underground: The Dark Before the Dawn

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Dancing in the darkness,
Your deepest desires …
Do you know why you’re here?
Do you think you have control?

– Lexicon Avenue, Why R U Here?

IMG_3881What a week. What a month.

Hard to believe I’m back on the fast track in the Silicon Valley startup scene.  Shipping!  Hiring!  Organizational issues!  Interpersonal conflicts!  Planning!  Strategy!  A third of my team is in Singapore, and if events had gone as planned I would have been there instead of at The Atrium last night.  Alas, when I went to check in for my flight, they noticed that my passport expires in September — and Singapore (like many other countries these days) requires documents to be valid for at least six months.  Sigh.

Control is an illusion.
Influence, however, is possible.

– dialog with Alayne Reesberg, 2004

But instead, after stressful times and long hours working down in the Bay Area, it was great to get back to Seattle Thursday night.  After a relaxing Saturday I was soooooo ready to dance.  And talk about perfect timing: a six-hour DJ Anomaly set at The Dark Before the Dawn at the Atrium!  Yay!!!!!!

The west coast psytrance scene seems to be doing pretty well these days.  I’ve been working so much that we’ve missed a lot of great shows, but I’ve still managed to see Cortex at Synchronize, Logic Bomb at Pulse, Full Power Friday at Retox.  The Atrium’s smaller than any of those clubs, but it’s a lot more comfy, with two great chill areas and tasty food and drinks till late.  DJ Anomaly had a lot of new tracks, and the vibe was great.  By the time cinnamon rolls magically appeared at 4:30, we were both feeling happy and relaxed.

I heart psytrance.

Escape with lights IMG_3943 IMG_3956

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Anti-TSA video goes viral!

Jonathan Corbett’s video has over 800,000 views in the last couple days, despite YouTube censoring it for a while (possibly because the  title has “nude” in it).    The Travel Underground thread is the epicenter.  The rough chronology:

Mike Masnick at TechDirt and Steven Frischling on Flying With Fish point out that there’s nothing new here: security experts have been talking about the scanners’ high error rate and vulnerabilities to exploitation for years.  But video footage makes it very compelling.  And the spread through the tech community highlights that the same kind of grassroots coalitions that mobilized against SOPA are possible on other civil liberties issues — like the TSA, for example, and the PATRIOT Act and FISA next time they come up for renewal.

There’s plenty of other learning too, so it’ll be interesting to watch things unfold. Stay tuned!

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A tidal wave in progress? I ♥ Innovation at the Women 2.0 PITCH Conference

The sold-out Women 2.0 PITCH Conference’s opening keynote features Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr and Hunch,* on “Making and the True Path.”  The rest of the sessions look great too: case studies by Robin Chase of Zipcar and Julia Hu of Lark, and the “$50 Million Panel” featuring Deena Varshavskaya of Wanelo, Leah Busque of TaskRabbit, and Sheila Lirio Marcelo of Care.com.  There are a bunch of intriguing finalists for the pitch competition — including Tara Hunt’s Buyosphere!  And the judges for the competitions are no slouches either: Aileen Lee of Kleiner Perkins, Dave McClure of 500 Startups, Naval Ravikant of AngelList, Sukhinder Singh Cassidy of JOYUS … looks like a #diversitywin to me, and some great networking too!

A couple of weeks ago I had coffee with Pemo Theodore, who’s interviewed dozens of investors and entrepreneurs for her excellent  Why are Women Funded Less than Men?.  We both had the same feeling: momentum has steadily built over the last couple years** and it feels like there’s a tidal wave in progress.  The women-in-tech and women-near-tech communities are extraordinarily well networked.  And the data is compelling.  Here’s Vivek Wadhwa’s summary from his recent Inc article:

An analysis performed by the Kauffman Foundation showed that women are actually more capital-efficient than men. Babson’s Global Entrepreneurship Monitor found  that women-led high-tech startups have lower failure rates than those led by men. Other research has shown that venture-backed companies run by women have annual revenues 12 percent higher than those run by men, and that organizations that are the most inclusive of women in top management positions achieve a 35% higher return on equity and 34% higher total return to shareholders.

So while there’s still a long way to go, the trend is in the right direction.  Kudos to all the amazing women, the much smaller number of equally-amazing guys, and the outstanding organizations like Women 2.0, the Anita Borg Institute, Astia, Pipeline Fellowship, Women Who Tech, She’s Geeky, the Level Playing Field Institute, Geek Feminism and so many others how have worked so hard to make this happen!

Combine the momentum and community with great content and plenty of opportunity for networking, and it should be a great conference.   I’ll be live-blogging it in comments — and feel free to jump in as well.  Stay tuned!

jon

* and strong pseudonymity advocate!

** here on Liminal States threads like  Guys talking to guys who talk about guys, A #diversitywin as an opportunity, Fretting, asking, and begging isn’t a plan, The third wave and the anatomy of awesome, and Changing the ratio have some of the highlights

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Notes from Underground: Digging Out

from the DJ's booth

To ensure your future, some freedoms must be surrendered …
We will save you
We will save you
We will save you
From your selves

Robot Revolution (Say no to SOPA remix), Virtual Light vs. Wizack Twizack vs. ?,

San Francisco over the holidays was a lot of fun but by early January we were really glad to be back in Washington.  We got there Thursday afternoon and spent the next few nights at The Atrium: psytrance Thursday, stompy darkwave on Friday, and then more psytrance on Saturday at Brightness.  The next week it was a darkwave set Wednesday, psytrance Thursday … happy 2012!

Saturday, it was all night psytrance at Gibbous/Deadly Snow. The drinks were strong, the snacks were tasty, the place looked fantastic, and DJ Anomaly was on a roll. Monday night was stompy darkwave at Dead Snow … hey wait a second, I’m noticing a pattern here. Continue Reading »

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Blog for Choice Day: What will *you* do to help elect pro-choice candidates in 2012?

Today’s the anniversary or Roe v. Wade, and this year’s Blog for Choice Day topic is “What will you do to help elect pro-choice candidates in 2012?”  Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but reproductive rights remain under assault.  The Obama Administration’s hand-wringing before finally denying an religiously-affiliated hospitals an exemption from the requirement that they provide contraception, and the strident anti-choice rhetoric from all the Republican candidates, show just how far the window has shifted.  It’s time to move things back.

Here’s what I’m doing:

  • My vote and my volunteering time are “in play” in 2012.   Along with civil liberties and LGBTQ issues, one of the things I’m judging Obama, Cantwell, gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee and other candidates on is how assertively they’ll fight for women’s right to choose.
  • And I’ll continue to raise awareness, with friends online and off, and discuss the issue.  Yes, I get in people’s face when they make excuses for anti-choice politicians — or downplay the importance of the issue.  [I'm looking at you, Ron Paul supporters.]

What are you doing?

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