Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

Theyre building it in Utah, a giant cyber omphalos turning, turning, like a black hole, sucking in every bit of datum floating in the atmosphere, every key stroke, every porn site visited, every number touched on the pad of a cell phone, everything goes into the hole where it is sorted, collated, listed, classified, analyzed and stored.

Its the National Security Agencys (NSA) all new, $2 billion data collection storage center being built in the Utahs high desert. When it is finished, its computers will be capable of storing the equivalent of one septillion (1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of documents. That’s 10 to the 24th power. A trillion is 10 to the 12th power. If you convert a trillion to seconds of time, it works out to 37,000 years. Youre welcome to convert a septillion into years, if youd like.

There is an irony at work here. The NSC is choking on its own data.

The agency first learned of the September 11 attacks on $300 television sets tuned to CNN, not its billion-dollar eavesdropping satellites tuned to al-Qaeda.

There was an outburst of anger because the dots warning of the impending attack were on the page and the NSC never connected them.

Hello! How do you connect two dots on a page that consists of ten thousand dots? Well, the NSC claims it now has super computers running complex algorithmic programs to determine who among us may beor may one day becomea terrorist.

High priests use to read the entrails of a bull in an attempt to bring order and predictability to a chaotic universe. Now our high priests use complex algorithmic programs. Given the NSCs track record, both methodologies have an equal chance of success.

And, how do you determine who might one day become a terrorist? Would angry dissent be enough to so classify you? If so, click out of this site now! Big Brother is recording your presence.

Here we see an example of new-age oppression. It is no longer driven by ideology or a power-hungry madman. Now, sheer bureaucratic momentum drives it. It is blind and without direction, in motion simply because its in motion and the sheer weight of its forward thrust makes it impossible to stop.

The NSC isnt building its Utah center to keep us safe from terrorism. It isnt even building it to spy on American citizens. Its building it simply because it can. Theres no other rationale for it. Its a fallacious logic: information is power; the more information you have, the more powerful you are. (Food is good for you, but too much food will kill you, a lesson the NSC has yet to learn).

The average citizen feels helpless in the face of this bureaucratic Blob. My sister emailed me yesterday and the NSC knows that she mentioned our brother just returned from Iraq. Will one of the NSCs supercomputers pick up the word Iraq and will my sister and I end up on a list? Its thinking that borders on paranoia, but what we dont understand worries us, as well it should.

It is doubtful the NSC will ever sink beneath the weight of the data it collects. However, it is possible it will collapse because it runs out of electricity. One of the reasons for building the Utah center (along with another one in Texas) is because its center at Ft. Meade in Maryland pulls so much electricity its beginning to brow out. The electric bill, to date, for all this data collecting is a cool $70 million a year (our tax dollars at work). When completed, its Utah center will consume enough electricity to power Salt Lake City.

All we need do is pull the plug and the NSC is out of business out of business.

If only we had a brave leader

Case Wagenvoord blogs at and welcomes comments at

Case Wagenvoord
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RS Janes
14 years ago

Thanks for that info, Case. Years ago I read an article by someone in the US intelligence community who pointed out that the problem with all of this high-tech collection of data is that to make it useful, somewhere in the process you must have a human mind to decide what is valuable and what is meaningless detritus, and the NSA doesn’t have enough of those human minds on staff. As fast and efficient as modern computers are, they’re not at the point where they can effectively evaluate data yet.

As you pointed out, this is largely a waste of time and money — something done just because it can be done, without regard to its usefulness, like inventing a toaster that’s connected to the Internet that doesn’t toast bread any faster or better than your old dumb toaster but is more complicated and time-consuming to operate.

Barbara Tuchman’s “The March of Folly” should be required reading for every one in a senior position in our government. It’s central premise, that every large bureaucracy eventually works against its own interests, might be enlightening to them. OTOH, it might be like Dan Quayle seeing the film “The Candidate” — he took it as a political-career primer rather than a cautionary tale about losing your integrity.

Ana Grarian
14 years ago

A towering city of light – blinking – unthinking – where’s the plug? Or perhaps they’ll go green and fill the desert w/solar panels and windmills, or maybe another dam on the dried up Colorado River. All to keep track of my visits to YouTube.

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