How to Process the Latest Horrible Information

If you're free Friday afternoon, I'll be participating in an event called "Ask Scott Meyer" (It's a good thing I was available.) on Twitter. It's hosted by GoComics, and starts at 1:30 PM Central time. #AskScottMeyer.

You can still enter for your final chance to win a signed copy of the new edition of Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0). In addition to that book, the prize package will also include the Basic Instructions 2014 Box Calendar, and a signed copy of a book by a different author. This week, the bonus book is The Cancer of my Convictions, by Chris Lundgren. It reminded me of Generation of Swine by Hunter S. Thompson.

You can enter below by friending Off to Be the Wizard on Facebook, following me on Twitter, or by answering a simple question (see widget below for all three options.)

Sadly, the offer is only open to people in the United States. Shipping costs, what can I say? The contest closes on, April 25th at 12am. Thanks, and good luck!

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Reader Comments (27)

The thing I don't like is that when they cast their nets that widely, they can't sort out the useful information.
They get so much information that they either have multitudes of trainees, or software, focused on a few "key" details or searchwords that the real bad guys inevitably learn to avoid, leaving them with unsuspecting crime show fans, heavy metal fans, and other people who might use the terms they're looking for without realising the trouble they're getting themselves into.
These people will be "made examples of" in the mistaken belief that this will at least intimidate people who have real harmful intentions.
In other words, Scott's right, the government's doing it badly.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDee

Turns out the government knows everywhere I go, everything I eat, every one of my fiends' political opinions. I might just have to unfriend the NSA on Facebook...

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKimo

The government supposedly knows every move we make, and yet we have to file our own flippin' taxes.

I'd say they should either do it right or butt out, but they aren't capable of doing it right. So they should just butt out.

April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEllendra

Haha, suckers! My country isn't listening in on all my private communications like yours is. Of course, yours still is. Listening in, that is. On my communications, that is.


April 22, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHappy Dude

I can't make the Twitter chat, but there IS a question I've been wanting to ask Scott: in the strip where you make Rick et al. promise to call your cell phone at your funeral so that it rings from the coffin, is your ringtone still set to "cat barfing" ?

Note from Scott: I believe so. Well caught!

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKate

"A long line of angry, distrustful hicks" - how I wish my forebears had bequeathed me that legacy . . .

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaddy

As Will Rogers said, "Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for."

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Other Mike

I made flapjacks recently, and now I get spam for non-stick flapjack machines. I didn't mention the flapjacks on the internet before now.

How did they know? I think the spammers are doing a better job of this than the NSA.

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJaco

Doing a bad job? Mr Meyer, don't make us angry. You wouldn't like us when we're angry.

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterYour Government

I'm upset with everyone involved to the extent that the phone companies were essentially coerced into providing the data to the government and while that is up to them, it is a request that seems like it wouldn't have been honored had it just been a regular person off the street.
Those of us who have worked in the industry knew long ago the government had this ability and was doing it because we were providing them with the software to do it.
I'm still not 100% sure what is truth and what is speculation in the "news" about all this, but so far a lot of things haven't been illegal in the strictest of sense. You can be astonished that there are clever people in the government who find ways to work around every legal hurdle and in every loophole, but we've known this for decades.
That's not to say I believe this is proper behavior or that the never-ending fight against terror, an ambiguous campaign at best, is still or was that useful.
I would appreciate it if they stopped, but I also have not heard of anyone or any group that actually can/is doing anything about it in the ways which actually get things done.

Also in comment to the above, please do cast a wide net, more information is better information. If anything having it all will mean that they are less likely to finger the wrong people.

Now drone strikes, and killing US citizens over seas, that's something I'm pretty sure is illegal.

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBleepBloop

Obviously, if the gummint is spying on me, they are should be very bored. But as incompetent as the gummint is, it is very possible and highly likely that they will misinterpret my boring life as being that of a master spy and criminal. So I got that going for me...

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Obvious

Does the twitter event start at 1:30 Central or Eastern? You say Eastern above but the infographic has "CT".

Note from Scott: Sorry. My mistake. That is central time.

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJean

"The surveillance state is part of the state. Where surveillance is a priority — say, when political enemies are concerned — it’ll be ruthlessly efficient. The rest of the time, like when it involves protecting Americans from terrorists, it’s just another government job."

- Glenn Reynolds
"Missing the Ping" April 27, 2013

This was written after it was revealed tha the FBI, CIA, and DHS knew about the Tsarnaev brothers before the Boston Marathon bombings -- but failed to act on that information -- and about a month before the Snowden documents were first published.

So yeah, if some jihadists from Derka Derkastan are planning to nuke a major American city, the intel will get lost in the shuffle. But if somebody in power decides that they don't like you, for whatever reason, everything you say, do, think, or are suspected of doing and thinking, will be used against you, and not necessarily in a court of law.

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

I find the NSA doing a bad job of it even more scary. That way, it's kinda like a lottery, but instead of winning the jackpot, you get van'd and taken to a nice holiday camp in Cuba. And instead of buying a ticket, you just have to say something that can be misinterpreted on the phone or in an e-mail.

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAutolykos

Only since the 80s?

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRedshift

Panel 3 is golden.

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermisterfweem

The strip was great, and it would have been greater if I hadn't spent the whole time thinking about how many people would take to the comment section to talk about the NSA rather than the comic... Can we establish this website as a politics-free zone, please?

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

"How did they know? I think the spammers are doing a better job of this than the NSA."

Not as good a job as they make it look like. Somehow, the "shopping metadata" has pegged me as a 65 year old pregnant man, with a toddler in the house.

At least, that's what it looks like from the ads and samples that I get.
(For the record, I am not 65, pregnant, or a man. And I have no kids.)

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEllendra

Seriously, man... this is a haven for jokes about Mullet Boss and Rocket Hat. Can we save the "I hate the government my stupid neighbors voted into office" whining for the cable news watchers? I come here because I want to get away from that stuff... :/

(That said, I have adored 99+% of everything you've ever posted, so I feel like a bit of an ingrate for complaining about this one strip. Sorry. I'm really very sorry.)

April 23, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDel

That they try to monitor phone and email, rather than gather HumInt shows one facet of their efficiency (or lack thereof). HumInt takes a handful of people well positioned; monitoring communications takes thousands of people (a make-work program, probably) and probably 98% of worthwhile intelligence slips though while they chase their tails.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSharpshooter

My country isn't listening in on all my private communications like yours is.
Hahahahahehehehe. Where are you from, Narnia?

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCzernobog

Sometimes the best place to hide is right out in the open.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKielbasi Kid

Can I point out that the NSA isn't the government, I'm the government, and they didn't tell ME what they were doing. Now THAT'S audacity.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterYour President

Actually the real danger of this kind of spying is that a database of where you've been and what you've done can be used against you at any point anyone decides you're a target of investigation for any reason. That, and agencies have found ways to share this info to try and get around that pesky 4th Amendment.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLummox JR

I worked for the Federal government my entire career (24 years). It cured me of any such worries. Knowing that the people spying on me are civil service, like my former colleagues, is somehow reassuring.

April 24, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

Ah yes, bureaucratic inefficiency - the only unbeatable defence against tyranny, thank goodness.

April 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKieran E


The strip was great, and I enjoyed the comments, and it would have been greater if I hadn't spent the time thinking about how people took to the comment section to complain about people talking about the NSA as covered by the comic... Can we establish this website as a thought-control and censorship free zone, please?


May 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Orwell
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