Our very cool Jooish pal, The Jersey Nut, is again posting “Hanukkah Hotties.” As you may have guessed, it is a celebration of beautiful Jooish women, one for each night of the Festival of Lights. You may be late to the game, so I’ll help you catch up:
William Binney, a former mathematician and code breaker for the National Security Agency, stated in an in interview that the federal government is currently collecting and storing virtually everyone’s e-mails (yes, everyone’s, including, yours, mine, his, and those of members of Congress). The data are apparently being “parked” in raw form in various facilities for retrieval by the government when it chooses to do so (presumably, after a proper showing of probable cause). The amount of data that can be stored and retrieved is staggering, so much so that the government is spending $2 billion to build another facility to store it all.
I was aware that the NSA had the means to use sophisticated algorithms to sift through e-mails between the United States and foreign countries to search for key words in order to track down potential terrorist activity, discarding the e-mails not containing such key words. While this practice is, in itself, legally dicey, the stated goal of preventing a horrible attack on the U.S. justifies the risk it poses to individual privacy. That being said, collecting and storing every American citizen’s emails for future retrieval if and when the government feels that such retrieval is warranted, is a potential bludgeon to our First and Fourth Amendment Rights under the U.S. Constitution.
Presumably, the government would argue that as long as the collected information is not accessed without probable cause and a warrant is obtained, no harm, no foul. While that may be true in terms of accessing the stored information, the issue of the constitutionality of its collection and storage turns on whether one has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of an e-mail, a fact-sensitive question more simple to ask than to answer.
The only protections Americans have against an over intrusive government, or, at worst, a truly malevolent government, are the Constitution’s dictates of a separation of powers, the Constitution’s Bill of Rights and the courts. What is most frightening is that the current regime cares little about the separation of powers and regularly bypasses congress via executive orders. As for the Constitution – hey, it’s “living and breathing” – it can mean whatever the polls say it ought to mean.
This issue is something that should concern every American, political affiliation aside. Elections, after all, do have consequences, and executive power does change hands.
In the previous post I stated, “I’m trying to think of a singer who uses only one name who either doesn’t stink or isn’t an asshole.” I cited Cher, Sting, Bono and Beyonoce as examples. A couple commenters asked, what about Dion? Elvis? Excellent observations, which serve to demonstrate that my theory is far from watertight, as neither Dion nor Elvis stink – far from it. I am a fan of both.
Having conceded that my theory may itself stink up the room a bit, it is interesting to note that “Dion” may well trace his mononym to originally having performed with the group, the Belmonts, collectively known as “Dion and the Belmonts.” I’m guessing that record producers didn’t think that “Dion DiMucci and the Belmonts” rolled off the tongue as easily as “Dion and the Belmonts.” Anyway, once the group split, it made sense for Dion to remain simply “Dion.”
As for Elvis, I am old enough to remember when Elvis Presley first appeared on TV on a program called “Stage Show,” hosted by big banders, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey. (Yes, this was before he appeared on the Ed Sullivan show.) He wasn’t billed as “Elvis” back then, but rather as “Elvis Presley.” Only when the country went positively nuts over him, and some news types referred to him as “Elvis the Pelvis,” people began to drop the “Presley” part of his name. I suppose having a rather unusual first name helped that process along.
So, Elvis seems to fall into the category of persons originally using a first and last name, but becoming one-namers by the sheer force of fame. Frank Sinatra comes to mind. He is known simply as “Sinatra” (at least in New Jersey). Oprah (ugh) also falls into this category.
Am I over-thinking this? Why, yes; I believe I am.
Oh … one more thing, and then I’ll stop. I promise. In the category of one-named singers who stink or are an asshole, how could I have forgotten Madonna? Major stinkeroo and assholery right there.
With each passing day, it becomes more obvious to me that I am hopelessly out of the pop culture loop. For example, up until a week or so ago I had never heard of Chris Brown, Jenny Johnson or someone named “Rihanna.” Having spent a few minutes wading around in the nonsense surrounding a Twitter Feud(I can’t believe I just typed the words “Twitter Feud”), and even fewer minutes listening to the “music” of the person named “Rihanna,” I’m O.K. with not getting the pop culture memos.
Speaking of the person who calls herself “Rihanna,” I’m trying to think of a singer who uses only one name who either doesn’t stink or isn’t an asshole. Let’s see … there are Cher, Sting, Bono and Beyonoce … all assholes who take themselves way too seriously. Oh, and there is “Slash,” the big-haired, top hat wearing guitar player from Guns N’ Roses. I guess I don’t know whether he’s an asshole, and, besides, his real name is Saul Hudson. I just don’t think he would have made it as big calling himself simply “Saul.” I did get a kick out of Liberace, though.
While we’re on the subject of pop culture, I don’t get the fascination today with vampires and zombies. There seems to be a clutch of television shows and movies about blood sucking humans and previously dead people staggering about looking for brains to eat. I also hear people talking about the “Zombie Apocalypse.” What the hell is that? Should I invest in a security system?
For me, the vampire thing began and ended with Bela Lugosi, and “The Night of the Living Dead” said all that needed to be said about zombies (and, frankly, scared the dogshit out of me).
For my part, I’ve been busy trying to figure out whether ancient aliens did made those high-tech stone cuttings in those stones that weigh about a gazillion tons that are in places with names that all sound like Pitchoo Patchoo, or Moochoo Choochoo. I don’t need no stinkin’ zombies.
Oh, one more thing — about the image of the Ten Ball at the beginning of this post. November 27th came and went without incident around here at the House by the Parkway (another day of non-posting). Only today did I remember that I began this blog exercise on that date ten years ago. So, that’s the story on the Ten Ball.