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Journal: Burn, Baby, Burn!

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius

"Sustainability" is, as far as I can see, a project designed to keep this culture - this lifestyle - afloat. The modern human economy is an engine of mass destruction. Of course, I am conflicted about this. I live at the heart of this machine; like you, I am a beneficiary of it. If it falls apart, I will probably suffer, and I don't want to. ...

Medicine

Journal: Gimme Gimme Penicillin! 1

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius

China 'seals off' town after man dies of bubonic plague
"A Chinese town has been sealed off and 151 people placed in quarantine since last week after a man died of bubonic plague, state media said Tuesday.

The 30,000 people living in Yumen in the northwestern province of Gansu are not being allowed to leave, and police at roadblocks on its perimeter are telling motorists to find alternative routes, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said.

The Internet

Journal: Was the Internet Created for Covert Domestic Surveillance?

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius

"From its creation by DoD contracts and grants to research institutions, there have been aspersions cast by those easily dismissed as "fringe" commentators, on the nefarious, or at least covert, motivation to create the Internet. Conspiracy theory may have been met by reality in recent months with now commonplace reporting, first by Wikileaks and later, in the more extensive

+ - Was the Internet Originally Created for Covert Domestic Surveillance?

Submitted by Jeremiah Cornelius
Jeremiah Cornelius (137) writes "From its creation by DoD contracts and grants to research institutions, there have been aspersions cast by those easily dismissed as "fringe" commentators, on the nefarious, or at least covert, motivation to create the Internet. Conspiracy theory may have been met by reality in recent months with now commonplace reporting, first by Wikileaks and later, in the more extensive Edward Snowden revelations. It is still almost canon, that NSA mass-surveillance and warrantless information analysis occurred through coopting the burgeoning Internet, and diverting traffic in a way that is counter to the ideals of its creators and promoters. But what if the social, commercial Internet were always intended as a sort of giant honeypot? The idea would still seem farfetched, if it weren't recently disclosed by William Binney that the NSA is recording 80% of all US phone conversations — not simply metadata. Closer examination of the record shows that ARPAnet was being used to clandestinely gather information on the legitimate activities of US citizens — and transmit the information to the US Army Intelligence Command NSA — as far back as 1968! According to articles published in 1975 by MIT in "The Tech":


"via the ARPANET, a computer network connecting more than 50 government agencies and universities throughout the country. The network is funded by the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA)... The information, according to intelligence sources, was transferred and stored at the headquarters of the National Security Agency (NSA), at Fort Meade, Maryland. The Army files were transmitted on the ARPANET in about January 1972, sources say, more than two years after the material — and the data banks maintained at the [Army's] Fort Holabird facility — were ordered destroyed."


MIT officials were worried 40 years ago, about this abuse of interconnected TCP communications and the complicity of their own research scientists. These concerns arose at the height of the Watergate fallout and downfall of President Nixon for illegal wiretapping and information theft allegations. The danger of Government "record keeping" was outlined by Senator Sam Ervin, in an address to MIT that was also profiled in the same publication. Clearly, this did not begin in the last decade, and clearly pre-dates the 2001 "Global War on Terror" pretext. It is important to remember, the NSA was an almost unknown agency at this time, and was chartered to strictly forbid intel on US citizens and those dwelling within US borders."

Comment: Re:The problem is... (Score 3, Informative) 186

In theory, you can always learn more by continuing to study something. In practice, though, modern medicine has a pretty complete knowledge of smallpox. Humans have been studying the disease since before anyone even knew what a virus was. There's evidence that the Chinese were inoculating people for smallpox over a thousand years ago. And the first practical, widespread form of that vaccine dates back to the late 1700s. This was literally the very first virus ever treated with a vaccine. It's well-trodden ground, research-wise.

The problem is, this virus is highly contagious and relatively dangerous compared with other viruses. For variola major, the case fatality rate is typically 30–60%, which puts it among the worst communicable diseases out there, approaching the fatality rate of ebola, and far more contagious. With nearly a two-week average incubation period (and up to 17 days in the worst case), one minor screw-up could easily cause a very serious pandemic before enough vaccines could be produced and distributed.

So basically, you have to weigh the odds of an accidental release (which, with recent revelations about this stuff getting lost for decades, then turning up by accident, seems not so improbable) against the relatively small chance of learning anything new from it that can't also be learned from cowpox or other similar viruses. On the risk-reward curve, this seems to be so far towards the "pure risk" end that any reward would border on undeniable proof of divine intervention, which means the speculated rewards would have to be pretty darn amazing for it to be worth the risk.

The confusion of a staff member is measured by the length of his memos. -- New York Times, Jan. 20, 1981

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