Wednesday, March 12, 2014

David Byrne, the NSA, and Biz Markie



I am rather late to the party, but I consider myself a Talking Heads fan.

By extension, I am also a fan of David Byrne.  How can you not be while watching him strut around in that ridiculously oversized "monster suit" in Stop Making Sense?  Then, as if I needed even more incentive to like Byrne aside from his hilarious fashion sense and considerable musical genius, he does this at the "Artists Pay for Radio Play" benefit in New York City.

David Byrne covers "Just a Friend" by Biz Markie.

He doesn't do it as a joke, either.  He seems to genuinely respect the source material.  Just when you think the guy couldn't get any cooler.

Byrne also keeps his own online journal.  His latest entry, albeit two months old at this point, is about the "impossibility of security."  Pointing to the recent debacle with stolen credit card numbers at Target, Byrne wonders, and rightfully so, if any exchange of information on the Internet is truly secure.  Whether it's a financial transaction or a simple email, can it ever really be private?  I'd have to agree with him and say no.  Certainly makes you want to torch any claptrap that your credit card or other accounts send you in the mail called "privacy policies."

He also offers this sobering thought: if Google and Target have all of this information on you, what does the NSA have?  Tons more, that's what.

But even more unsettling than that is this bit from his own web site.  David Byrne recently wrote another piece about "big data" and how it almost has a life of its own and appears fully in charge of the game.  He cites a "now famous" case (which made me feel a bit bad as it was my first time reading of it) of a father complaining to some online "big business" or another that was attempting to market diapers to his young daughter.  "My daughter is not pregnant," he insisted.  He turned out to be wrong.  The data algorithms, however, knew better.

Depressing?  Oh sure.  But what can be done about it?  Not much.  Except for watching David Byrne cover "Just a Friend" a few more times.

 That'll help.


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