Einstein, Pizza, and Privacy

Cat with pizza slice stuck on facePizza Cat Face in Deep Space (click for awesome)

Albert Einstein is credited with coming up with the observation that “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” He didn’t really say that, but actually said something better in 1946 as part of his celebrity endorsement of what amounted to a telegram-based crowdfunding campaign to raise $200K “to let the people know that a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.”

We could really use some of that higher level thinking on the Interwebz these days.

That’s why for the next year EFF-Austin is hosting a weekly dinner and social event on Friday evenings at Austin Pizza Garden in southwest Austin. Higher level thinking may indeed emerge from a vacuum like the quantum fluctuations alleged to froth the quantum foam, but we’d like to add a little energy to that equation by providing a predictable spacetime in which new fluctuations can emerge. So for the next year, if you’re wondering where to eat dinner or what to do on a Friday night, join us to connect and hypothesize while nom-ing on some of the best pizza and cheapest beers in Austin.

Where: Austin Pizza Garden, 6266 W Hwy 290, Austin, TX 78735
When: Every Friday at 6:30pm til ? (never later than 11pm)
What: DINNER! Pizza, Stromboli, Lasagna, Mozzarella Sticks, Draft and Bottled Beer, moar – menuPDF
What Else: CONVERSATION! And whatever else tickles our fancy. Free Wi-Fi + power so bring your devices. We’ll be upstairs in the big room.

Map of Austin Pizza Garden and Vicinity – including route recommended to avoid Oak Hill traffic, convenient bus stop, plans for world liberation

You might think there’s a definite madness in our method here – and you would be right! Unconventional times call for unconventional thinking! We propose that the creation of a safe and predictable spacetime for socializing, commiseration, and concocting may be just the kind of proposition the nutty Professor Einstein would have raised his pint to, if for no other reason than to demonstrate his post-corporeal acceptance of spooky action at a distance. We propose no agenda, only pizza and beer, and let the conversations take us where they will. Bring your questions. Bring your answers. But most importantly, bring your appetite!

EFF-Austin at Restore the Fourth ATX (Jul 4)

Gregory Foster of EFF-Austin speaks at the Restore the Fourth event in Austin, Texas (July 4, 2013) on the secret USPS Mail Isolation Control and Tracking program, the Edward Snowden NSA leaks, general warrants, and the Fourth Amendment.

Restore the Fourth

EFF: Free Speech Battle Over Publication of Federal Law

Press release from EFF.org:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked a federal judge today to protect the free speech rights of an online archive of laws and legal standards after a wrongheaded copyright claim forced the removal of a document detailing important technical standards required by the federal government and several states.

EFF and co-counsel David Halperin represent Public.Resource.Org, Inc., a non-profit organization that improves the public’s access to laws and codes that affect their lives. As part of its work, Public Resource acquires and makes available public safety documents such as fire safety codes, food safety standards, and other regulations that have been incorporated into U.S. and international laws. But last month, the association of Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors (SMACNA) claimed an online post of a federally-mandated 1985 standard on air-duct leakage violated its copyright and demanded the post be removed. The standards are a crucial element of U.S. federal energy conservation efforts and an integral part of model codes, such as the International Energy Conservation Code. After a threat of legal action from SMACNA, Public Resource took down the document until a court could affirm its right to publish the information.

“The public has a right to meaningful access to the laws that govern their lives,” said Carl Malamud, the president and founder of Public Resource. “Technical standards like the ones in this document have the force of law, and people need to know them in order to comply with regulatory obligations, keep the public safe, and avoid costly penalties. The right of citizens to read and speak the law is fundamental to an informed citizenry in the United States and throughout the world. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, which means we have to be able to read the law.”

In a petition for declaratory and injunctive relief filed today, EFF and Public Resource asked the court to rule that posting the standards does not infringe any copyright.

“Building codes and other technical specifications touch our lives every day, and Public Resource is helping to make it easier for us to access and understand how they affect us,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. “We’re asking the judge today to let Public Resource continue its important work in increasing the public’s access to the laws and regulations that govern us.”

For the full petition: