Archive for NSA

Grand Illusions

Posted in Revolution with tags , , , , , , on June 2, 2014 by Rob Wallace

Vulcan Krewe 1My daughter Violet and I join our neighbors for Grand Old Day in St. Paul. The kick-off parade pipes Lynchian perversity inside a crust of small town prosaicism:

Following the color guard and a motorcade of beauty queens waving their wrists down Grand Avenue, the masked Vulcan Krewe, the Imperial Order of Fire and Brimstone–including Grand Duke Fertilious, “the Minister of Propaganda, the Propagator of Progeny, the Krewe member with the most offspring”–smears charcoal mustaches on kids and adults alike.

A Schwarzenegger impersonator, riffing on Jesus–“I’ll be back”–blasts Christian metal from the Godinator float. A clutch of belly dancers advertise the threepenny uprights of the Renaissance Faire later in the summer. The married middle-aged men of the St Paul Bouncing Team have been using Browder sheets to heave young women in short skirts thirty feet up in the air since 1886. Continue reading

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Protecting H3N2v’s Privacy

Posted in Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2013 by Rob Wallace

US H3N2v.1This past week the Guardian published a series of stunning articles on the extent of surveillance the National Security Agency has been conducting on U.S. citizens and millions of others worldwide.

Proponents of such programs, including President Obama, have contended secretly collecting our internet and phone metadata–when, where and with whom we connect–is about our protection.

I must say that as an evolutionary epidemiologist I find it a fascinating defense, if only because there have been several efforts aimed at producing geographies of deadly influenzas for which it has been nearly impossible to get governments across the globe, including the U.S., to provide the locales and dates of livestock outbreaks.

It’s as if the privacy rights of these viruses–and really the farms over which they spread–are better protected than those of the populations epidemiologists are ostensibly trying to protect.

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