08/22/14

Bat Signal

You know how in every comic book movie the hero has a crisis of faith? Loses the girl. Suffers defeat. Questions himself. And, then just disappears. Retreated into solitude. To reconsider his purpose. To question his calling. Might review, from his fortress or lair, a video montage from his home planet and tragically deceased parents. Or stare wistfully into the eyes of his own crumpled mask. The people of planet earth or some generalized metropolitan city abandoned to the unchecked lawlessness of villainy. Puppy-eyed children look helplessly into the sky for a return. Some sign. Hero-betrayed.

And, then, in the moment of greatest need, splashed across the sky, a contrail of flight or burst of light or silhouetted, back-lit signal.

bat signal 2

Yeah. He’s back.

(Large disembodied head emoji courtesy of Tommy Wilkinson.)

03/30/14

News Genius

Oh if I had a nickel for every time I was called one.

It also happens to be the name of a news archive site that now hosts lyrics to my Press Junket blongs!

news_genius

News Genius is a family of sites, including Rap Genius, which, in the tradition of Wikipedia, relies on crowdsourcing to accumulate content and related annotations. For example, if one of my songs were to ridiculously reference Monopoly’s billionaire mascot, Uncle Pennybags, a site user could post the song and annotate that particular lyric to explain the reference. This is all totally hypothetical, of course. No one would ever say Uncle Pennybags in a rap. In gang parlance, that would make you a mark.

So my man Methus has volunteered to post my blong entries and begin the annotation process. But, the clever thing about it is that anyone can join him! Feel free to transcribe past blongs or contribute to exposition of lyrics already uploaded. If nothing else, for me, news genius will be a good library of my blong material and compliment to what I do here. I hope it expands your enjoyment.

Sincerely, the News Genius

07/28/13

Call Me Maybe

You know the telephone game. Everyone sits in a circle. The first person whispers a secret to their neighbor, “I like to eat mushroom pizza.” And by the the time it circumnavigates the group it’s morphed into something like,

“I liked to beat up my lunchroom teacher” or

“I spiked a peach with a much hewn tweezer” or

“I might repeat a little hummed tune feature” or

“Go Osprey!” or

“Pomegranate juice” or

“Dole/Kemp ’96” or

“I run my unit how I run my unit. You want to investigate me, roll the dice and take your chances. I eat breakfast 300 yards from 4000 Cubans who are trained to kill me, so don’t think for one second that you can come down here, flash a badge, and make me nervous.”

You have to have a pretty big (and disturbed) group to get to something like the last one. But, it happens.

The media is a lot like a telephone game. Especially on legal matters. There’s sort of the original source material. A Supreme Court opinion. Or a piece of legislation. Or a speech. By the time, we get it, it’s something akin to reading off the back of a Raisin Bran cereal box to learn how to open a chateau and vineyard.

There are a lot of unsettling things about the NSA tracking our phone calls. But, somewhere in all of this we’ve forgotten something:

Phone calls aren’t very private.

Indeed, as a purely constitutional matter, they aren’t at all.

Think of constitutional protections as a floor or, rather, the minimum amount of protection the government will extend regarding any particular right. I don’t mean to say that they are minimal, simply that you get at least that much. In other words, you can imagine ways that a right, say to assemble, might be expanded — the right to assemble and then to receive free of charge ballet instruction for 6 months, let’s say.

And, indeed, in many cases, those minimum protections have been expanded by Congress and state legislatures, through statutory action, to protect people more.

Telecommunications is one such area.

The right against unlawful searches found in the Fourth Amendment has never been very effective in protecting our phone conversations.

The Constitution has been fairly consistently interpreted to not extend any expectation of privacy in information we convey to third parties. In other words, when you call someone, you have elected, maybe unwittingly, to convey not only information about the call to the phone company and other service provides, but you have literally conveyed the substance of your conversation to another person — on the other end of the line. And, no matter how dear your mom or hot and committed your boyfriend, you have no assurances that they will not disseminate details of your freshman year homesickness or desperate confession of love to the world. As a result, the United States Supreme Court has concluded that whatever subjective expectation you think you have — that the contents of the call will be kept private — is not reasonable. And, therefore, it is not a private act, subject to the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal searches. There is no search. You shared it.

Of course, Congress and the States have added some protections in this respect regarding wiretapping etc. And, certainly private companies, with good capitalistic instincts at play, have made certain contractual promises to their telecommunications or internet clients not to disseminate private information. But, remember, these are EXTRA. We don’t deservere them as a constitutional matter.

Even some of our congress persons as they debated last week the Amash amendment, which would essentially detonate the NSA call collecting program, seem to have missed the point. Some insisted on arguing the very language of the Fourth Amendment itself. But, that protection does very little on its own to protect us from our own decision to provide to the world, whether intentionally or inadvertently, all kinds of information over phones, computers, and tomato cans.

telephone can

It’s worth quoting the High Court itself:

Second, even if petitioner did harbor some subjective expectation that the phone numbers he dialed would remain private, this expectation is not “one that society is prepared to recognize as “reasonable.” This Court consistently has held that a person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information he voluntarily turns over to third parties. In Miller, for example, the Court held that a bank depositor has no “legitimate ‘expectation of privacy’ ” in financial information “voluntarily conveyed to . . . banks and exposed to their employees in the ordinary course of business.” The Court explained:

“The depositor takes the risk, in revealing his affairs to another, that the information will be conveyed by that person to the Government. . . . This Court has held repeatedly that the Fourth Amendment does not prohibit the obtaining of information revealed to a third party and conveyed by him to Government authorities, even if the information is revealed on the assumption that it will be used only for a limited purpose and the confidence placed in the third party will not be betrayed.”

Because the depositor “assumed the risk” of disclosure, the Court held that it would be unreasonable for him to expect his financial records to remain private.

Smith v. Maryland, 442 U.S. 735, 743-44 (1979) (citations omitted).

All of modern technology is sending your “private” detail everywhere. It’s literally in the air. If we had more sophisticated oculars we’d be able to see it. And, just because we’ve errected some statutory protections against people intercepting the information doesn’t make your belief that it’s hidden sensible.

Anyone can “collect calls.” Accept it.

Written and performed by theipoetlaureate. Music produced Haralduz7.

Today’s blong here:

Collect Calls

11/23/12

What Happens in Vegas: NMX Conference

I’m super excited to announce that I’ve been invited to speak on a panel at the upcoming New Media Expo (NMX) in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 6-8, 2013, about song blogging. NMX is “the World’s Largest Conference & Trade Show for Bloggers, Podcasters, Web TV & Video Series Creators.” This of course means that it is also known for being the largest gathering of sexy people anywhere in the world.

Passes to the conference are still available and if you’re in the area you should come through. There’s a ton to do, I hear. We could make a blood pact and then wake up the next morning having lost our best friend who is scheduled to be married in a matter of hours. Or maybe we could rob a high security vault at the Bellagio, stare at her fountains, and then walk discreetly into the night. Or, even better, we could gamble away our life savings and be forced to offer, in satisfaction of the debt, my wife to an aging billionaire. Too many great choices! It’ll be a blast regardless. Hope to see you there!

11/6/12

Done and Done

What a great American tradition. Love it. And, don’t think I wasn’t profiled and intimidated!

Check back for more election coverage tonight. I hope to be bringing you all the breaking news from in front of an enormous digital 3-D American Flag and bald eagle. And yes I only have one outfit. But, what’s more patriotic than a Washington Nationals flat bill?! I mean surely Francis Scott Key was rocking a three-cornered version when he penned the anthem right?

10/26/12

Oh No They Didn’t

Don’t think I won’t blong slap the people who did this to me and my South Carolina confederates.

There are only like 4.7 million of us. So, they essentially have ALL our SSNs. I’m seriously stunned.

If anyone tries to pass themselves off as theipoetlaureate, make him freestyle the preamble to the Constitution. If he can’t get past, “We the people . . .,” then shoot him on sight.

Gosh dangit. I knew I shouldn’t have paid my taxes.

Oh, it’s on.

09/16/12

The Dog Ate My Homework

No song. Spent 5 hours in the ER with my son, who broke his arm last night. He snapped the radius and ulna clean. For the second time. He can’t seem to break it without making some elaborate consonant out of his forearm. Last night was something like a “v.” We’ve done the “w” too. Or maybe it was an “s.” Anyway, he was furious about this picture. I made him smile. He said, “Everyone will think I was having a great time in the hospital.” Um, I’m pretty sure that Sunday Night Football and your own personal morphine drip nearly always constitutes a “great time.”

08/30/12

The Reviews Are In . . .

Some of my biggest fans are spam. These trolling algorithmically generated comments really know how to make a man feel good. It’s indecipherable flattery like the following that gives me the strength and inspiration to daily press on.

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Getting people out of their comfort zone:

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Still huge with Third Reich stenographers, apparently. This comment has been amazed me, too.

Appealing to mens’ interests:

You made some clear points there. I did a search on the subject and found most guys will go along with with your blog.

– SEO Software

You know you’re made when there exists polling data on your popularity among various demographics that even a software can locate. Wait. Why only most guys?

For some, I’m persistence paid off:

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– Beginners Guide to Forex Training

Manuals love me. They tend to know exactly what’s worth enough for them. And what’s not. They also remember what the internet was like than ever before.

For others, I’m a role model and resource:

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– Official Jordy Nelson Jersey

I can’t believe the jersey of one of the guys on my fantasy football team is a regular here. Not to mention, a burgeoning web developer, apparently. (Nice work, jersey of Jordy Nelson!.)

This comment apparently spent years in R&D before submission. Plainly, the engineering paid off:

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Wait, I think that was just a neighbor. Regardless, it’s the highest sort of compliment to be credited with someone’s very existence inside a website and to finally be acknowledged as having valuable tricks. #Humbled.

I thought this last one was a little creepy until I saw the author. Makes total sense now, though:

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– Fake Rolex Watches

Stop it! You make me blush. Of course, I’ll look forward to drop you a mail, you silly Fake Rolex Watches, you!

07/15/12

Half-Life

Please check back. I have a weekly round up loosely based on the suspicious almost-discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle presently under construction.