On the Muslim Registry

A few scattered thoughts on the Muslim Registry that’s floating around: I don’t know what form the registry would take, but I doubt it’ll be a system where you can self-report into it. It might be like trying to add your own name to the FBI Wanted list or the No Fly list. Those things are made by intelligence-gathering and police work and not by self-reporting.

If that’s the case (and the details remain to be seen) the registry can be built by metadata collection, surveillance and all of the other NSA tools the Trump administration now has at its disposal.

From what I know about those surveillance tools, here’s a couple of ideas about what to do in order to throw a civil-disobedience wrench in the works:

– Attend Friday prayer services with a cell phone in your pocket. If your car has GPS, be sure to park right outside. A regular pattern of attending Jumah services would be an indicator that a person is a Muslim. (Conversely, if your car/cell is only ever in front of a church on Sunday morning, intelligence will determine you are a Christian)

– Metadata collection is a big part of NSA surveillance. So make friends with people who are Muslim and talk to them a lot. Generate lots of metadata. If the NSA sees that I only talk to other Christians (I’m a priest), they can safely leave me off the Registry.

– Learn Arabic and use it in online communication. Not easy to do, but that will draw attention and increase your odds of being added to a Registry.

– Eat at Muslim-owned or Halal restaurants. Check in on social media and pay with cards or other electronic payments, not cash. That also creates digital records. Besides nothing builds relationships like eating together (hello, Eucharist) and it helps build cultural understanding.

So: make friends with Muslims, go to their prayer services and learn and speak the language. Just do it with technology and you’ll increase your chances of being added to a Registry. In other words, do the hard work of relationship- and community-building (solidarity) that we should be doing anyway.

My friend Andrea recommends the languages of Urdu, Bangla, Bahasa Indonesia, and Persian. Remember that most of the Muslim world is actually in South Asia.

My friend Preston recommends this article on Vox about what is presently known about the Muslim registry database.

The Moral Failure of Computer Scientists – The Atlantic

In the 1950s, a group of scientists spoke out against the dangers of nuclear weapons. Should cryptographers take on the surveillance state?

Physicist Philip Rogaway charged a group of computer scientists, mathematicians and cryptographers with “moral failure: By allowing the government to construct a massive surveillance apparatus, the field had abused the public trust.”

He compares the creation of digital surveillance to the political use of science in the Manhattan Project and in the Reagan-era Strategic Defense Initiative. Where do engineers and scientists see their roles as having a moral and ethical dimension?

Source: The Moral Failure of Computer Scientists – The Atlantic

Raspberry Pi blinking light

Blinking a single light is a simple project and the easiest way to start physical computing with the Raspberry Pi. There are three basic steps to get the blinking light to work.

1. Wiring.

You will need a single LED light, a breadboard and two pieces of jumper wire. Connect one wire to the Raspberry Pi’s ground pin. Choose another pin to be the controlling pin. My program below uses pin 25. Finally, connect the LED light with the long wire in the same row as the pin’s wire. The short wire on the LED should line up with the wire for the ground pin.

You should end up with a circuit that looks like this:

A light wired to the Pi
A single LED light wired to the Raspberry Pi

2. Programming.

See the annotated program below. The program is a complete Python program, so you can copy and paste it into a file on your Raspberry Pi.

3. Running.

To use the GPIO library and pins, you have to run this program with super-user privileges. So, type the command sudo python blinker.py into the shell. It runs in an infinite loop, so you’ll have to press Control-C to stop it.

Once you have it working, experiment with different values for pause. Try adding a pause2 variable so that there are two different pauses, one for the light being on and one for it being off.

# blinker.py - blink a light-emitting diode on and off

# Add the RPi.GPIO library to interface with hardware pins.
# Add the time library to control the pauses.
import RPi.GPIO as GPIO
import time

# The pause variable makes the light blink on for one second and off for one second.
# Change this value for a faster or slower blink.
pause = 1

# The pin variable tells the Pi which pin the light is connected to.
# Change this value to reflect how you have wired the LED to the Pi.
pin = 25

# Set up the GPIO system to use our chosen pin as an Output
GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BCM)
GPIO.setup(pin, GPIO.OUT)

# The line "while True:" make an infinite loop.
while True:
    # Inside the loop, we turn the light on, pause for one second.
    # Then, turn the light off and pause for another second.
    GPIO.output(pin, GPIO.HIGH)
    time.sleep(pause)
    GPIO.output(pin, GPIO.LOW)
    time.sleep(pause)