The History of Wiretapping, Through the Years


Wiretapping was in the news in a big way this weekend, but how much do we really know about the practice? Here’s a look back on how it’s developed over the years: 

1664: British physicist develops the tin can telephone, communicating sound through a string (which is kind of like a wire). Upon making the discovery, Hooke turned to his assistant and said, “I wonder if one day the FBI will use this to figure out if MLK had an affair?”

1892: U.S. law enforcement adopts wiretapping as a tool for getting information. It’s a huge development in particular for Chicago detective Billy Peterson, who has an affinity for both spying on people, wires, and compulsively tapping his fingers.

1918: Anthropomorphic, human-sized wire known as Wire “Tappy” Tap becomes a huge silent star in Hollywood, starring in several silent movies where he tap dances. His hits include “Did You Miss Me Wire I Was Away (1918), Bird on a Wire (Tap) (1920), and How Is This Possible? How Have I, A Simple Wire, Somehow Achieved Not Just Life, But Also Sentience? Must Have Been That Time I Was Struck by Lightning, Like Johnny 5 in Short Circuit (1923).

1928: The U.S. Supreme Court deems wiretapping constitutional, mainly to aid in enforcing Prohibition. If they’d known this would eventually lead to Boardwalk Empire’s disastrous fifth and final season, they may have reconsidered.

1963: Attorney General Bobby Kennedy gives the FBI the go ahead to wiretap Martin Luther King Jr.’s phones at his home and work office. The most shocking discovery? Guy had an unhealthy hatred of carrots. Didn’t just hate the taste, but would get viscerally angry if anyone else brought ’em around.

1968: Richard Nixon approves the wiretapping of several journalists and 13 government officials. This was so flagrantly illegal and immoral it really drives home how Watergate was the, “You Can’t Top That!”/”Hold my beer” of political scandals.

2001-2007: It’s reported the NSA has participated in “warrantless surveillance” of the American people. Prior to this, everyone just assumed Warrantless Surveillance was probably the name of one of those Steven Seagal movies from the 80’s where he’s an ex-Navy SEAL turned chef, or teacher, or something.

2013: It’s revealed that the NSA has wiretapped the phone of German chancellor Angela Merkel since 2010. The NSA apologizes, saying that at the time they went on a real “anti-German” kick having just watched Inglorious Basterds.

2017: In a tweet, the current president accuses the last one of tapping his phones. Rumor has it President Obama did it not for political reasons, but to study Trump’s voice to perfect his Trump impression. Right now it’s just him saying, “YUGE” and “BUH-LIEVE ME” over and over.

While you’re here: sign up for my email list. I swear I won’t tap your phone. 


Exit Signs Should Be Any Other Color Than Red

Why are exit signs bright red? Can’t you go with something a little more soothing? Something that says, “There’s a fire but no need to be a tight ass about it. Mosey on out near this real sign.”

Why pick something the same color as what you’re trying to get away from? “Hey you know that fire? File the color of that away when you’re looking for an out. Keep that in mind and look for words that look similar. Forget anything peaceful. Let the fiery relief of the red exit consume you.”

I thought about this at the movies a few months ago. Green, blue, anything else. Plus what if we don’t make it out? I know I for one would love to see a lovely pastel before succumbing to an inferno. I’d rather not think of more fire and think, “Huh. That light purple looks like an Easter egg I painted when I was a kid.”

I’ve been trying to blog every day for 2017 and I gotta tell you I think I may be finally out of ideas.

All the Perfectly Logical Reasons Why You’d Rob a Preschool

Read about two guys in my neighborhood who tried to rob a preschool. Predictably, they were unsuccessful. I’ve tried to come up with why they did it, and here are some possible explanations: They really wanted milk, cookies, and the petty cash of poorly paid preschool teachers.

* They’re master bank robbers who have robbed everything else you can possibly rob and they’re looking for a new challenge. “Steve, we’ve done banks, armored trucks, convenience stores….hear me out: preschools.”

“Do they even have safes?”

“Only one way to find out, brother.”

* One of them has a kid there, and due to a nasty custody battle this is the only way he can see him. Like Mrs. Doubtfire, but replacing a man dressing up like an old woman for robbing a store.

* They wanted to teach the kids there a valuable lesson about pursuing criminal enterprises. Nothing hammers home the point that crime doesn’t pay like awkwardly asking an art teacher for her pocket change while waiting on a bunch of cops to inevitably bust you.

* They want to be preschool teachers and they went to the school as a way to break I but robbing stuff is all they know. The second they got in there, they reverted to the life of crime.

* They thought they were in a bank. “Hey man….do you remember Bank of America having finger paintings on the wall?”

* They felt like the cops in the area had worked hard lately and needed a much easier crime to bust. And really, what’s easier than walking into a preschool and nabbing the two criminals? “I’m going to go out on a limb and guess it’s the two men in here taller than 3 feet.”

* Finally: it was a bit of viral marketing to promote their one act play about two guys who knock over a preschool-themed bank. No better way to show people how entertaining a preschool robbery would be than by actually doing it. After they realizzed it actually wasn’t that entertaining, they probably had a good laugh in jail about how they should cancel their show.

We Just Saw A Movie: Before I Fall


On our latest episode of We Just Saw A Movie we review Before I Fall, which is basically Groundhog Day meets Mean Girls (minus the laughs of both). We also talk about the trailer for The Promise and debate over whether or not using the Groundhog Day template makes for a compelling movie.

How to Improve This Country’s Public Bathroom Situation

I can’t believe no one’s thought of this yet.

To be clear – I’m of the opinion that I don’t care what bathroom a person uses. But I’ve got an idea that would appease both sides of this whole weird controversy.

It’s simple: lose gendered bathrooms. Lose common area bathrooms, period. Make all public bathrooms a series of unisex pod-like stalls in a row. The most important part of this innovation? No more urinals. All stalls, baby.

Here’s why this would work: what man in his right mind would complain about urinals ceasing to exist? Nobody’s going to bat for urinals. “Having stalls fixes a lot of problems, but possibly seeing a guy’s dick out of your peripherals is every man’s right!”

Urinals are one of mankind’s worst innovations. It’s like someone saw somebody else going to the bathroom and thought, “How do we turn this into a group activity?”

Not to mention it would eliminate the abomination known as the trough urinal. You ever use one of these, guys? It’s like competitive peeing. Every guy in the football stadium is teaming up to relieve themselves in a giant floor sink. Don’t think we’d have a problem with those going away either.

Too expensive, you say? I think we’d be find room in the budget for it. Remember, most politicians are old white guys. All you gotta do is say, “If we pass this new “All Stalls” bill, you won’t have to pee next to a guy while trying to simultaneously not look at his junk AND peak at his junk to make sure it isn’t bigger than yours.” That bill would be passed faster than something really fast. I don’t know, imagine some obscure fast guy Dennis Miller would reference doing something really quickly.

See, these are the types of ideas that make me think I should run for President one day.

I Kinda Respect Muskets


Of all the weapons from olden times, is there a more endearing one than a musket?

It was a gun that sucked as a gun. Any weapon intended for one on one combat that takes a lot of preparation is kind of more adorable than terrifying. How can you be scared of a guy who tells you, “I”m going to KILL YOU!!!! Ya know…as soon as I take the next 45 minutes to carefully pour gunpowder into this thing and use a weird thing to press it in!”

The funniest thing about muskets is how they attached a knife at the end of it. It’s like the musket inventor was saying, “Look, I already know this is going to be a shitty gun. That’s why we’ve got an entirely different weapon on it too.” Come to think of it, it’s really inconvenient to use as a knife. It’s long, and stabbing somebody with it would be really hard. So basically, it’s not just a bad gun, it’s a bad knife too. it’s got the distinct honor of being two types of weapons, both of which it’s horribly bad at being.

How did the Revolutionary War ever end? It was a war with two armies using the least efficient weapon ever invented. Did the Americans win they decided, “Fuck it, just use normal knives. It’s way better of a knife than the musket, and real guns are a long way away from being invented. We may as well just rock with these. Between our shitty weapons and these fucking wigs that keep getting in our eyes this stupid ass war is never going to end.”

My main point is if I ever got dropped into the middle of that war after hoping in a time machine, I’d be the guy with a switchblade yelling, “I’m telling you guys, this is better!”

My Favorite Street Name Will Always Be “English Muffin Way”

There’s a street in Frederick, Maryland called “English Muffin Way.”

Don’t know why. Don’t much care. In fact, I don’t really want to know the real reason. I’d rather speculate.

Is it a street entirely made of English muffins? 
Forget pavement, forget cobblestone. Imagine a road made out of Thomas’ English muffins. That’s what I’m thinking of when I hear English Muffin Way. Then at the end of it there’s a giant toaster and stick of butter.

Was it named by a guy who was really into English muffins?
Maybe Thomas himself  decided to buy himself a road. What better way to honor his meal ticket than

Was it named by a guy who’s reassuring another guy that the thing he’s looking at is in fact an English muffin? 
“What am I looking at here?”

“An English muffin.”

“No way.”

“Way. English Muffin Way.”

Maybe it was named by a guy who wanted to name a street after a toasted breakfast item but all the other ones were taken.
Unfortunately, Toast Avenue, Bagel Street, and Biscuit Crossing were all snatched up real quick.

Which one of these are true? Who knows. Could be none. Could be all of them. I’ll never investigate, as I really want the first one where it’s a street made of English muffins to be true.

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