Tag Archive for government

Paranoia Will Destroy Ya

DNA Collection Kit
Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

Our school is distributing DNA collection kids to elementary students.

My son’s will be promptly round-filed.

Like many a well-intentioned-but-flawed process, they’re doing this to protect the children. This kit will supposedly help the police locate your child should he be kidnapped, molested, or otherwise run afoul of some Great Evil.

Mm-hm. And how, exactly, will that work? If my kids are kidnapped but recovered alive, the feds can draw their DNA and run a paternity test. If the kids are murdered and their otherwise-unidentifiable bodies are turned up in a forest somewhere, well… let’s just say it hardly matters at that point. And the odds of the latter scenario taking place approach astronomical, despite what the media would have us believe.

So again, how does having my child’s DNA (or fingerprints, for that matter) on-hand or in a database help protect my child? Is someone developing some DNA sniffer that will take this sample and then roam the populace in search of my child? I doubt it.

Now let’s be paranoid the other way and discuss the potential for abuse. With these convenient packets, there’s now a huge sample of DNA for a given population available to whoever can get their hands on it. Yes, Gattaca was just a movie, but we don’t know where technology is going to take us five, ten, or even twenty years from now when these kids are adults. Abuses could range from discrimination to high-tech identity theft to government monitoring.

“C’mon, Mike, that’s just sci-fi.”

Okay, let’s bring it a little closer to the present and remove the 1984 factor and consider two scenarios:

1) An insurance company gets their hands on the data. They discover a high incidence of a gene related to colon cancer. The bean counters crunch their numbers and boom, premiums for the area go up.

2) A pharmaceutical company uses the genetic data for research. Iceland sold their genetic database, and all of the same concerns for abuse are there. One theft, unscrupulous employee, well-placed bribe, or new law and your DNA is up for grabs. The pharma company probably saves a ton of money, but do you think that savings will be passed on to you when you need the new meds? Hardly.

Still think it’s far-fetched? They’re already halfway to #1:

Some scientists believe that the homogeneity of a population such as Iceland makes the search for genes associated with a disease a simpler task. deCODE has already discovered variations in the Icelander’s genome that may indicate susceptibility to multiple sclerosis, hereditary hand tremors, and osteoarthritis.

And it was all government-mandated:

The government of Iceland has passed a law enacting the creation of a national health database. As first proposed, the bill required only medical and family history records to be included in the database. Opposition to the bill escalated when the government decided to add genetic information.

Given the PATRIOT Act and other overreactions to 9/11, do you really think our government wouldn’t do the same?

Thanks for thinking of us, Knights of Columbus. I’m sure your intentions are pure, but I’m going to take a pass on this one.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Join the Space Cult

I glanced at a table near the bathroom in the local Borders store and found an Illinois MUFON application staring back at me.

I was in the mood for a laugh, so I snapped one up. It turns out for twenty bucks, I too can join the search for little green men in flying saucers. I wonder if there’s a membership card and a secret handshake. I’m half tempted to join just so I can find out if the majority of the membership is comprised of Stanton Friedman types or if they’re just your garden variety, mouth-breathing, basement-dwelling dweebs. (One may may be indistinguishable from the other from a distance, but at least you can hold a conversation with someone like Mr. Friedman.)

While it does make sense to me that there could be life on other planets, perhaps even (now or in the past) on other planets in our own solar system, I find most people are too quick to assign extraterrestrial origins to anything they can’t otherwise explain.

For example, an ex-governor of Arizona claims he spotted a UFO. The article has the following quote:

“As a pilot and a former Air Force Officer, I can definitively say that this craft did not resemble any man-made object I’d ever seen.”

That’s often enough for most people to tag him as an expert on the subject. However, when was his Air Force experience? What was his job? What was his security clearance? Engineers can conceivably be working on all kinds of strange and unusual technologies that he wouldn’t be privy to.

Consider the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. I don’t doubt when it was first under development, many pilots would never have recognized it, much less your average Joe who spotted it flying high overhead. I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of UFO reports could now be attributed to the B-2. In fact, some say many of today’s UFO sightings may be attributable to the hypothetical Aurora or other deltoid aircraft with exotic propulsion systems like external burn.

Are there unexplainable events out there? Sure. But does that automatically make them the result of visiting aliens? Of course not.

2,000 years ago, people thought the Earth was flat. They explained things they couldn’t understand as the work of gods and monsters, including things like thunderstorms, which we now take for granted. They thought tornadoes and hurricanes were divine punishment (hell, we still refer to them as “acts of God”) rather than natural weather phenomena. People today have a much better grasp on science, however, so they instead conjure up science-based strangeness to explain the unexplainable. They replace Zeus and Hera with Martians and Greys.

On another side of it, the UFO chasers are very much a cult. I think so many of them so badly want to believe that they latch on to anything they can’t easily explain and call it alien rather than fully investigating the object or event in question. The Haitian UFO video is a perfect example of people disregarding the obvious because it contradicts their faith.

How odd it is to see a hybrid of faith and science when the two are so often mutually exclusive. Does anyone else think it’s funny that both divine creation and alien genetic engineering both site a Missing Link as a proof? They can’t both be right, and something that simply may not have been found yet is a flimsy piece of evidence anyway.

So I think I’ll take a pass on joining the great space cult. While UFO’s, extraterrestrial life, and spacecraft are, and always will remain, a fascinating subject for me, I’m not sure there’s such a big difference between alien abduction claims and the Virgin Mary appearing as a water stain.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.