For the first time in years, we rang in the New Year at a psytrance party in SF — Tribal Convergence at the Gingerbread House! Michael Liu, Witchdokta, and the Mendo Organized Chaos crew had done a great job putting the party together, and the place looked amazing. We found a cab with no problem (just say no to surge pricing and exploitative business models!) and got there just as Galactic Illumination started their set …
Draft! Feedback welcome!
If you want to get straight to the list, feel free to skip the backstory. If you’d prefer to start of with a great example of why we need lists like this, read on
“It’s the happiest I’ve seen you since I can’t remember when …”
– more than one friend, to me, October-December 2013
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!
The 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. And 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
As 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!
– 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:
- In New York, 500+ people filled four blocks.
- DC featured an all-star cast of speakers, 400+ people, and 20 news organizations.
- In SF, the 300+ people wound up the rally at 611 Folsom, the home of the famed room 641A.
- The Salt Lake City rally ended with a march on the NSA’s Utah data center.
- People turned out in Raleigh, Charlotte, Portsmouth, Louisville, Rochester, Boston (tweeted by the state police), the Alamo (!), Kansas City, Cedar Rapids, Philadelphia, Denver, Wichita, Birmingham (with a ton of local press) Syracuse, LA, Dallas, Atlanta, Tulsa, Gainesville, Harrisburg, Carson City, Reno, Chicago, Portland, Austin, Midland, San Diego, Saint Louis, Indianapolis, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Sacramento, Minneapolis, Buffalo, Iowa City, Asbury Park, Houston, Hartford, Chattanooga, Huntington Beach, Savannah, Tempe, Pittsburgh, Las Vegas, Cleveland, Seattle, Redmond, Lansing, Bozeman, Missoula, Olympia, …
- Coverage on NBC, Fox News, The Atlantic, Reuters, CNN, CNET, Mashable, CBC, the Christian Science Monitor, the Times of India, Buzzfeed (with the “40 best signs“) and dozens of local TV stations and papers. Update, July 5: more from the Washington Post, the Guardian, ThinkProgress, VentureBeat, Firedoglake, Newsmax, Hullabaloo, All Things D, Nextgov, an AP video, RT, the Daily Caller, the Sydney Morning Herald, US News and World Report, and Vice.
How cool is that?
Cross-posted on Get FISA Right
Get 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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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!
- Email links to people and mailing lists you think will be interested.
- Look for tweets on the #tsacomments and #tsa hashtags (or from @TSAComments) and retweet them
- Look for good comments on regulations.gov, and tweet them or share them on your favorite social networks.
- 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.
- 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?
Candles and colors
A rainbow of light
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?
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.
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:
- the original post had a great headline
- Lisa Simeone on TSA News was the first to blog about it
- It got hot first on Twitter: 2000 hits in the first 2 1/2 hours after he posted it.
- A couple hours later it hit #1 on Hacker News, getting 10 hits/second. Then Slashdot, Reddit, Mashable, the Daily Mail … after which Drudge and the Guardian, CNET, The Consumerist,
- TSA’s less-than-compelling response threw gasonline on the flames and sparked coverage from GizModo, Wired, The Next Web, Reason, and once again Hacker News … plus lots more.
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!
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!
** 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