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Posts Tagged ‘HBO’

Happy New Year everyone! Tonight I will dress to the nines and attend yet another hospital gala, and believe you me I’ve seen many a silent night auction come and go. Someone will get falling down drunk, someone will bid on a puppy they’ll have to return in the new year, and someone will start singing Meatloaf’s Dashboard Light song with alacrity. Electric slide here we go again.

But this morning I’ll kick back and cogitate on a word – meme. What is a meme anyway? We’ve all heard it and let it roll right off the back of our heads like we know what it means. Well, according to dictionary.com it comes from the Greek meaning “mimic” as in imitating a certain behavior; more recently, it is a bow to biology and gene theory. Think of gene cells, how they mimic one another.

meme

a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition and replication in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.

or

a cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc.,that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way.
Medicine meet technology! There was a picture of Beyonce that became a meme; meaning it floated around the internet in different adaptations: Beyonce at a football game; at a WWF match etc. Just Google “meme” and her picture will appear.
But I love it when literary and pop culture collide to invent a meme. I happen to love Lena Dunham. The “Girls” creator is never afraid to show her body or try to explain the existential trip of 20 something women living in NYC. She is the present-day equivalent of Carrie Bradshaw’s “Sex and the City.” This year, the character who plays Dunham’s mother attended an academic conference and told her daughter, “I never thought I’d meet so many other women who feel the same way I do about Ann Patchett.”
And there it is – feminist fireworks! Ms Patchett, the owner of my favorite Nashville bookstore Parnassus and writer extraordinaire, is now a meme. A meme who spans the generations. In the past I thought of Ann Tyler as my meme (or maybe my muse?). Her writing spoke to me. Sometimes I’d have to pinch myself just to make sure I wasn’t caught up in one of her novels come to life.
So tonight let’s not list all the great and minor things of 2013. And let’s not try to predict the trends and memes of 2014. After all, it’s just one night in five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.  Let’s all take a deep breath, and stay in that electric slide moment. “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”  Unknown

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Sit down, take a load off. We’re not talking about Weight Watchers here; we’re going to talk about warrantless wiretapping. Just because you think they’re watching you…doesn’t mean they are, does it? I have to admit that conspiracy theories will always get my attention. Then I move on, attributing most of the paranoid delusional rhetoric to a bunch of crazies. But this past weekend, I was staying up late with Real Time and Bill Maher on HBO. Getting the TV fixed definitely cuts into my healthy sleep habits. Welcome back Bill to your new season you are the Left’s answer to Rush Limbaugh. Maher routinely comes up with one or two-liners like this: “I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what’s philosophically wrong with Republicans. It’s like asking what’s intellectually wrong with lobsters.” http://www.real-time-with-bill-maher-blog.com/real-time-with-bill-maher-blog/2013/1/18/party-foul.html

But his closing soliloquy left me sleepless in Cville. Now it’s probably not a good idea to lay your head down on your pillow after hearing that we Americans have just been giving most of our fundamental rights away without so much as a whimper. I’m talking about all of us, red and blue Americans and any other colorful configurations. He pooh poohed the idea that we are losing our 2nd Amendment rights and got right to the heart of the matter, saying,

“The Senate quietly reauthorized the National Defense Authorization Act while everyone was so concerned about the fiscal cliff, and there wasn’t even a peep out of the “freedom” crowd. In fact, people seem to be okay with government surveillance and warrantless wiretapping at this point….Does anyone care that this is the new normal?” I was lying awake and thinking about baby robotic drones overhead stealing my ideas about how to make a better lasagna.

Then I read this – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/google-transparency-report_n_2537153.html Now everybody knows that one usually needs to acquire a warrant from a judge before snooping through a private citizen’s home. But your email and internet searches are another matter; maybe your mail box is federally protected, but your inbox is fair game. “From July to December 2012, Google revealed, the company received 8,438 total requests for information about 14,791 users or accounts in the United States. Requests were up 34 percent from 2011 to 2012.” Yes folks, requests from law enforcement went up 34%!! I wonder what the stats will be for 2012 to 2013. The article goes on to say that only 22% of the time is a warrant involved; the FBI and/or police will simply write up an administrative subpoena.

It’s good to know that privacy advocates and Google (Facebook would you chime in here) are trying to reverse this trend, and hats off to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) for passing an amendment to reform the very broad law ironically titled the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which was passed by Congress in 1986 based on technology at the time. In 1986 the Rocker was 2 years old and we all were wearing shoulder pads! Leahy spearheaded his plan for governing internet surveillance in November saying this is the first step in corralling the Department of Justice, “…growing and unwelcome intrusion into our private life in cyberspace.” Still I’m not too hopeful it will go anywhere in our congenial House of Representatives.

The Tea Partyiers are worried the government will take away all their guns; that helicopters will be landing in their back yards. That’s why they need assault weapons. Maybe the “freedom” they are fighting for is misleading? Maybe both parties need to worry more about how incrementally we have given up our right to privacy. Background checks to buy a lethal weapon? Sure. Emails and social media about a shoe sale in Cville – What? Technology races ahead while civil liberty law limps along trying to play catch-up.
email_and_internet_authorizations

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