June 06, 2006
There was a foul-mouthed chica on the subway platform in Williamsburg yesterday saying dirty things. It would have been impossible to overhear her, except maybe if I'd had those Bose noise-cancelling headphones plugged into my iPod. Even then I likely would have heard this stream of abuse, laced with profanity. But then I realized: that you're paying too much for long distance. Actually, if you're reading this, you're probably not paying too much for long distance. You probably switched to Vonage a while ago. (Isn't it neat how Vonage can play the NSA for you, giving you a handy cross-referenced list of everyone who's called you and everyone you've called. Don't let your mom know about this feature, ok?) Or maybe you got so pissed that you simply decided to use SkypeOut for all your outbound calls now that it's free. As for the inbound calls, you decided just to let ppl contact you at your leisure—i.e. when you are online. No way the NSA can archive those calls, right? Wrong. But what difference does it make? When every single call every made gets archived, then what's there to worry about? The telcos' lawyers sure aren't worrying about it...they got the PR people to issue statements denying they had helped the NSA at all. Naw, they just let their tech guys walk in and jigger the wiring in those 'closets', though they aren't admitting that either.
Which reminds me of a funny story. Remember that massive snowstorm in February? Well, my phone line got so bad after the storm that it became unusable. So I phoned up ye olde evil empire, and got them to check my line via computer. Of course, their computer said my line was fine. I was calling from a payphone, because I did not want to waste my precious cellphone minutes on speaking with the evil empire's computerized system that takes several minutes to get you to a human. Anyhow, the empire dispatched a technician from its lower Manhattan deathstar, and this fellow was more charming and helpful than the last guy they sent in September '05. (The last guy got three parking tickets during his 30 minutes at my old residence, and was gleeful his employer was getting screwed by the city. After all, it was his last day of work.) So this fellow and I went searching for the dreaded switch box, the repository of copper wire that connects the deathstar's remote nucleii to your apartment building. Seems the only way to access it was through a greasy restaurant kitchen with much slop lying around. "¡Hola amigos!" he gleefully shouted out to the campesinos busy doing all those tasks which gabachos for immigration reform claim native-born no longer are willing to do. We went outside and found the deathstar's switch box, which was wide open, with a heaping portion of metallic copper spaghetti cable twisted in all directions. "How tough would it have been for the last repair guy to close this up?" he mutters. We then returned to my fire escape, coated with a thick layer of construction dust, discussing property values in Puerto Rico while he laid fresh cable.
Anyhow, after all that nonsense I ditched the evil empire and got Vonage. Back to the profanity: there is a tremendous government database lurking in some data storage facility that is the world's greatest encomium of vulgar words, an entire web of who's-calling-whom and swearing up a blue streak. In sum, this might be a great research tool for academics to determine the extensive use of four-letter words rather than an insidious government plot to keep track of everyone's phone calls. Besides, as a friend pointed out recently, if we all use the word Osama twice per phone call, then the government is going to need to order a lot more data farms.
update: Republican Senator Specter decided late today that he won't bother questioning the telcos. That prompted Vermont Senator Leahy to respond: "Why don't we just recess for the rest of the year...and simply say we'll have no more hearings, and Vice President Cheney will just tell the nation what laws we'll have--he'll let us know which laws will be followed and which laws will not be followed."
cable, data farm, deathstar, evil empire, phone, profanity, verizon
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Posted on 6/6/2006
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