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In 2013, what's old may become new

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In my short lifetime, I've seen a digital revolution that has changed every aspect of doing everything, and a medical technology revolution that performs what might as well be called miracles.

Simultaneously, though, there are forces that could be pulling us back to a pre-technological age.

Firstly, in our magnificent digital age, people's entire lives become digitized and therefore vulnerable to electronic attack from anyone, anywhere. Bank accounts can be emptied, identities stolen, sensitive messages intercepted and redistributed anywhere in the world with proof positive of its authenticity. With the advent of professional Chinese hackers working 'round the clock, even large businesses and governments aren't safe.

petraeus_6083_20120202_r640x400[1]

Betcha he wishes he used the 3rd grade security approach of passing notes.


Probably the most conspicuous, headline-grabbing incident of 2012 involving cyber-security was the exposure of CIA Director David Petraeus' affair with his biographer. He had sent incriminating emails, which of course last forever and are undeniably his.

So what is to be done if even the director of the CIA can't keep a secret? How am I, some random dude supposed to keep things secure? I think we might just have to resort to doing things under the radar the old-fashioned way.

38606b[1] Dwight Eisenhower knew all about foiling cyber-hackers when he was writing his love letters.


How about a hand-written note? Sure a note can be stolen, but a hacker will at least have to get out of his chair to intercept your communications. Also, its a sheet of paper without all the digital timestamps, proof of ownership and relative undeniability. I'll bet in ten years there will be secure electronics alongside a system of paper memos for ultra-sensitive information.

So what about these pesky antibiotic-proof bugs? Well, since they're being bred in hospitals because of overuse of antibiotics, we'l have to end that practice and go back to the old way of cleaning things off. Antiseptics.

carbolic-sprayer-1-outlined[1]

They used to murk all those bacteria with a carbolic acid sprayer like this one.


In the 1850's folks figured out that carbolic acid would pretty much fry those little suckers. And it still does, regardless of credentials. Carbolic acid, and a host of other true antiseptics will kill just about everything dead. Iodine, rubbing alcohol, hexachloraphene, hydrogen peroxide, these are the old-schooly arsenal of medicine, still just as effective as they were 150 years ago. Problem is you can't drink the stuff like antibiotics, because it will kill you, too. They are all "external use only".

So I suspect we'll see a resurgence in popularity of the primitive system of stone-cold killing everything in the operating room, rather than trying to kill the germs with antibiotics once they get in a wound.

There was a brief period in which digital information was the most secure, foolproof method, and likewise antibiotics were miraculous in their effectiveness, but in 50 years our enemies have adapted, possibly to the point where regressing to more primitive methods may be necessary.

 

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Richard is an engineer by day, and a political activist by night, fighting would-be totalitarians and government busybodies everywhere.

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