February 19, 2014
Has there ever been a more misunderstood character than Frankenstein? Regardless of what you think about grave robbing or mad scientists, there is no disputing that the whole reanimation thing that spawned the lumbering lug was a scientific marvel. And despite looking like the survivor of a major industrial accident, all the big galoot wanted was somebody like him to love—and can’t we all relate to that? Unfortunately, Frankie’s shortcomings in the area of social skills resulted in him being chased across the countryside by a bunch of offended villagers carrying torches and pitchforks. I’ve always found the whole saga to be a metaphor for the how often good intentions can be misperceived by the very people we are trying to please. Based on recent news, I think our friends at the NSA are, like Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, feeling a little misunderstood and unloved themselves.
As many of you know, the NSA is in the process of building two (2) major data center facilities in Maryland and Utah. Each of these sites will help to augment the agency’s anti-terrorism efforts through the ability to collect, house and process massive amounts of data on the activities of just about everyone on the planet. Since the NSA’s mission is to protect us from the actions of the plethora of societal miscreants that would love to demonstrate the lethality of the homemade C4 vest to as many innocent bystanders as they can, you’d think folks would welcome these new data centers with open arms. Unfortunately for them, when the average American finds out that you’ve collected enough personal data to know the name and location of his or her favorite take-out place you’re going to run into a little push back.
Back in the day, the realization that they were living in a surveillance state would result in a few rambunctious folks standing in front of the Utah and Maryland sites brandishing signs with pithy slogans like “Defriend the NSA” or “Leave my cell phone alone” and chanting something like “Ho, ho, ho, big brother has got to go” before they were carted off to the local hoosegow in time for the six o’ clock news. Unfortunately, for today’s well-meaning intelligence officials, today’s “surveilled” are a lot more tech-savvy than their sign-toting predecessors, and have initiated legislation to make it illegal for them to receive water from their local municipalities. Since both of these facilities are designed to use water-based cooling methods—5,000,000 gallons per day in Maryland, for example—these efforts could prove, shall we say, a little problematic. You know things aren’t going well for you when torches and pitchforks don’t sound so bad.
Apparently the desire to leave these intelligence sites’ thirst for water unquenched is not specific to Utah and Maryland, as similar legislation has been introduced in ten other states to proactively assert their “Not in my Backyard” status. Boy, at least Frankenstein wasn’t subject to any “no reanimated corpses laws” as he wandered about the Bavarian countryside. Under the Constitution—whatever that’s worth nowadays—the federal government cannot coerce states into implementing federal acts (other than Obamacare since it’s a “tax) so if any of these laws were to pass it could be a long time before either data center was up and operating as that conflict would have Supreme Court written all over it.
For now all of this amounts to so much sabre rattling. Work on both data centers continues so that the NSA can ultimately protect us from forces unseen. Based on the country’s current level of, not unjustified, paranoia, I think we can expect the backers of these anti-water bills to push for their passage relentlessly. To a large extent both sides are justified in their actions, so it will be interesting to see how these situations resolve themselves. Will good intentions win out over an ever expanding view of what constitutes privacy protected behavior? Hard to say. Frankenstein would have killed to have a friend on Facebook, and I guess that’s the crux of the problem.