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I make films. I'm also a nerd.

Lawyer Pranked NSA With FINNEGAN’S WAKE Excerpts

When John Sifton (an attorney at Human Rights Watch, among other things) found out about the NSA’s efforts to spy on all of us, his first thought was to play a little prank:

The first thing I did after I heard about the highly classified NSA PRISM program two years ago was set up a proxy server in Peshawar to email me passages from Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. A literary flight of fancy. I started sending back excerpts from Gerard Manley Hopkins poems.

After having been questioned by the FBI and forced to spend vast amounts of money on his defense, he admits that toying with the U.S. Intelligence Community was perhaps not such a great idea.

There is nothing more frightening for a pseudo-intellectual than to be called out to explain something he does not actually understand. […] I spent 48 hours reading secondary texts to assure myself of relevant theories of textual interpretation. I didn’t want to sound uninformed. Notes from the interviews would become part of the permanent historical record. It filled me with anguish to think of my sons reading the FBI Form 302 interview notes decades later and realizing their father was a fraud.

Clearly Sifton’s little joke was incredibly stupid–but not as stupid as the fact that he was persecuted and nearly bankrupted because a couple of idiotic bureaucrats couldn’t be bothered to do a quick Google search.

Be very careful, boys and girls. All it takes is one little lapse in judgment, and your life can be ruined forever. They’re watching you. And for heaven’s sake, don’t read any books, or use polysyllabic words or anything.