Archives for category: Personal

Through improbable circumstances I was able to get two of the authors of the joint Stanford-NYU Law Clinic report on U.S. covert “targeted killing” drone policy in Pakistan to come speak at SAIS last Friday. The report–Living Under Drones–is an excellent read, covering interviews with folks from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas  in Pakistan, analysis of media coverage of the policies, legal analysis (both domestic and international law) of the policies, and finally strategic considerations. The two hour event was awesome and engaging (and had Pakistani food to boot!), with a lot of discussion afterward. I kind of saw it as my last hurrah here at SAIS.

For one of my classes this semester I got to write a short paper on US covert drone policy in Pakistan, it’s a good overview of the big issues in my mind–definitions of “militants”, “signature strikes”, “double taps”, and a lack of medium- to long-term US goals–though short on policy prescriptions (can’t have everything in such a paper). Feel free to give it a read if you like, let me know what you think. I’ve often wanted to share the papers I write for classes so I figure this is a good excuse :)

We all descended upon a cabin (no electricity or running water) in the middle of Michaux State Forest in Pennsylvania west of Gettysburg for the weekend of the 21st and 22nd of April. Myself, Chris, Aliza, and friends of Aliza: Danica from NY, Cody and Kristen from DC, Lisa from Pittsburgh and her dog Karl.


A random assortment of things that have occurred.


Rome was awesome. After watching Nick’s thesis presentation, it was great to go with him and Jess to be with the parents. Always a good time.

I brought but one present back from Rome and that was rosewater. Why? To make my first dessert! Rosewater cheesecake with a graham cracker crust. Totally. Rocking. Awesome. The recipe is here.


Best concert in a while: Alim Qasimov & Fargana Qasimov with the Kronos Quartet at UM-College Park. $9 student tickets got Aliza and I a box seat for what was essentially two concerts: first, a number of pieces just with Kronos, then a piece of just A&F Ensemble, intermission, and the two joining forces. A fantastic concert and great to see Alim Qasimov after five years, when as a young wipper-snapper in the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble I played with him in Chicago during the Silk Road Project. Since then his daughter Fargana has joined him and she has her own unique lyrical style and he seems to love having her with him on stage. Very fun to watch and a joy to listen to.

State has been really enjoyable, dealing with all sorts of Internet policy issues in all sorts of ways, from bilateral dialogues with countries on the legal implications of cloud computing to Internet freedom advocacy in multilateral fora, Internet governance issues, and exploring potential export control of censorship and surveillance technology.


Went on a weekend roadtrip to Shenandoah with Aliza.

Bangladesh! Post 1, Post 2.


Presented at the SAIS Conference on Asia. My talk was on a paper I wrote called “Supporting Rural Development in China Through Information Sharing Networks for Migrants,” based in part on field interviews I did in rural Anhui province back when I was in China in May 2011. My very first conference presentation, awwww. If you’re interested: presentation and paper.

Last Sunday biked with Aliza down to the National Mall and met up with Chris for the some type of Kite Party. They had Rokkaku (kite fighting) and other fun activities. Got to fly a big ole two-line triangular kite, it was good times, hopefully everyone will stop telling me fly one now.

First time on C-SPAN, this is from Monday.

Info & video:

Yes it was that exciting:

Now… to use my appearance to leverage myself into the talk show circuit : )

So it’s been three days since I moved into my new DC home, this time for good! From couchcrashing to housesitting I’ve been doing it all the past three weeks, and I’m very happy to have a bit of permanence.

It’s situated at:
3356 18th St NW
Washington D.C., DC 20010


Still no bed, but that is mere trifle.

These past couple days I heard back from my application to intern in the spring at the State Dept… not only did I get a primary candidate offer from one of my two choices on Tuesday, but then yesterday I got the other! So I went from excited to ecstatic to sad that I had to decline one of them. The offers were for the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Office of Cyber Affairs (focusing on China) and the Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs, Office of International Communication and Information Policy (East Asian/Pacific division). It was tough but I decided on the second one, the topics are larger and not solely defined by China (Internet freedom! cloud computing standards! technology transfer!), and it felt like it’s a bit more of an “in the open” position so the interactions I’d get internationally and intra-departmentally would be really cool. Feel free to disagree : )

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So, this was Friday:


Look at what it feels like… I didn’t think that was a temperature that was humanly possible to bear. Friday was also my first day my part-time work at International Reporting Project, which’ll be interesting. In the afternoon I went out for lunch looking for a nearby branch of the lovely Julia’s Empanadas and found a Shake Shack shaking it across the street. Yay!

Still looking for apartments/rooms. Saw three places today, ran the gamut from a top-floor apartment that the power company doesn’t know exists and gets free electricity to a five-person group house with one bathroom and a rooftop terrace where you can see DC steeples across horizon (and had a 100+ person party with a rented DJ two weeks previous…). Met Rachel (from Beijing/Chicago) in Mt Pleasant and went for dinner which was good fun.

And to finish off the day, DC gave me the gift of my very first heat rash! My body is not meant for this weather methinks…

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After a wonderful month of summer at home I have arrived at the capital of the Intergalactic Federation, the aptly named Federal City (couldn’t they be just a little bit more creative?). Been crashing at the (Chris) Hopkins Manor, where due to an unpleasant apartmentmate (and an inconvenient commute) I won’t be calling it Manor Sweet Manor. It’s located in Columbia Heights, a fun, hip neighborhood that’s kinda Mission-y (826 Valencia’s 826DC Museum of Unnatural History is here, visited it today). The area is filled with awesomeness, there’s a delicious vegan bakery that I can’t afford, and a delicious empanada (~calzone) place that I can afford. Where I’ll be living permanently is still in flux, so The Hunt continues. Demand for housing in DC is apparently crazy.

So, another beginning. I’ll leave you with this quote from a notable person that I find apropos: “I still have a little spark of a dream though? call me crazy? but I?d like to insert myself into politics, as a technical person with real ideas? too many words in political spheres? too short of an attention span? too short of goals. Humanity can accomplish so much…” I’ll try to get cracking.

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Back in Hangzhou a year back I briefly jammed with some peeps, something I had increasingly wanted to do ever since I realized I never had the opportunity to join any bad high school bands (the Marin Symphony Youth Orchestra doesn’t quite cut it in this area unfortunately). I provided more details in a some posts from way back when, but basically I joined them in May of 2010 (please see the appropriately named Hey Baby I’ll Make You a Star) and ended with the academic year that June (with the also appropriately named Last Jam). So a month and a half, maybe five or six jams total.

Point being, some jams have surfaced! Fabian made a cute little myspace page for us recently and uploaded some of our jams/songs/pieces. So buckle your hat, hold onto your pants, and close the door behind you as you enter the dark and jammy world of…

Señor Eddy & His Vaudeville Backyard Jass Catacombo

Below I’ve listed some of the better I’ve run across, with suggested starting times, since there’s a lot of chatter or aimless noodling between when people decide the next song has started. Their genre is hardcore post-indie, falling pretty much directly under steam-punk and rocket rock, though with more of an acousto-tronic vibe.

Number 1 (start at minute two)

Numba 2 (start at minute six)

Number 5 (start around minute 3:30-4) A quieter piece.

Spooky Music at a Distance (please ignore the rhythm issues for the first 20 secs… >.> )

Señor Eddy/鄂冬 (È Dōng), guitar, drums; Ask, drums; Emi, vocals; Michael, violin, guitar, piano, bass; Fabian, saxophone

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A Chinese classmate was taken to the police station this morning, interrogated and made to sign documents saying she won’t attend the upcoming sit-down protest against the chopping-down of the Chinese parasol trees in Nanjing (see the previous post). And she’ll have to spend this coming Saturday at the station to prove she isn’t attending the sit-down. If any Center students happen upon the protest, she’ll be held directly responsible. The police found out about her spreading the news of the event through our student-run Google Groups listhost, meaning another Chinese student at the Center decided that making this student’s life hell was worth it.

And that my friends is my sad story of the day.

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