The Mirror April 24 2013
this is a weekly column that runs in several newspapers written by Kevin's uncle.
I tweet messages to the world; but, not as much as when I first found Twitter. It's useful to post links to my stories on AgEBB, the MU electronic bulletin board. There's less personal news now.
Monday, I used Twitter to promote BIF, the Beef Improvement Federation meeting, June 12-15. There producers will meet scientists who share new ideas.
Dave Patterson and MU students will be there. They'll reveal new IA protocols from Thompson Farm. This year BIF goes to Oklahoma City, a short drive.
About two minutes after I hit send Twitter erupted. As I watched, two explosions created chaos at the Boston Marathon. Stunned, I watched breaking news evolve. I saw shaky video images from bystanders' cell phones reporting the Boston massacre.
I saw National Guard and police tearing open barriers so rescuers could reach the injured. Bystanders gave battlefield first aid. (I had a flashback to Army training on triage for traumatic bleeding.)
People sorted themselves. Some fled. Others ran toward carnage to aid. I'd like to think military veterans and former farm kids stayed calm and helped.
From such a horror, death loss was low. Daily reports from war zones show higher bomb death losses than in Boston. Bystanders aided. And, top trauma units were only blocks away.
This event showed how crowd sourcing aids law, medic and news.
It also shows individuals don't have secrets. Criminals, terrorists and even kids shoplifting are learning. Things have changed since the attacks of 9/11.
A couple of weeks ago, an ex-CIA agent spoke on how things changed. "Every day, in Columbia, your picture is taken about 200 times," he said.
Every thug who robs a convenience store has his photo taken. Every time citizens cash a check or use ATM they are photographed.
In crowds, fellow citizens gather evidence that you were there. Bostonians showed how that works.
On twitter I saw news not shown on the media. There is so much of it.
Not shown by either source were thousands of hours by analysts looking at crowd photos. Not all photo reading relies on human eyes.
If you use name recognition you know software matches IDs to faces in photos. CIA has sophisticated software.
What I learned from the agent is the detail in the satellite images. Every farmer can see changes in his farm fields on Google maps.
Those are crude. Those same satellites make sharper images also.
"Now they can read your newspaper over your shoulder," he said.
Our state legislators got their shots in a twist over possible drone spying on farms and feedyards. Forget it. Sophisticated images of your house, and North Korea, are on file.
General Stanley McChrystal's memoir tells stories of constant tracking of terrorists in Baghdad. Special Ops teams track couriers going to hideouts of terrorist leaders. The bad guys used old-fashioned evasions to lose followers: U-turns on one-way streets.
If you write something bad about government officials on Facebook, you become a "person of interest." That's not an agent following you, but software tucks your words into a file to use in case needed.
The computer clouds are full of your words.
A point by the former agent: If you think your e-mail is password protected: Forget it.
This week we saw evidence of huge "defense" spending of your tax dollars. The defense budget goes far beyond what Congress allocates to the Pentagon. That's maybe a third of it.
Even Congress doesn't know how much the CIA spends. And, CIA is only one agency. Dozens of U.S. agencies are tracking the bad guys right now.
We spend much on defense, it worked this week. But, think how much is collected and never used. It's costly, more ways than one.
If you dare use e-mail, share intelligence at firstname.lastname@example.org or 511 W. Worley, Columbia Mo. 65203.