The Virus

 
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A smallpox epidemic begins in a whisper with a single death, and then the name of the victim surfaces. Abdulaziz al-Sherhi. In a nation rich in imagination, this name requires none at all. In the weeks that follow, the epidemic fears crescendo into a national roar. People panic about dying from this horrific terrorist incited disease and clamor for a vaccination. The federal government lurches along, hurriedly creating more vaccines to meet the demand.

Maggie Ride, a weary road warrior for a high tech company, submits to the shot only to realize this is no ordinary immunization. Her husband, Eddy, posts his suspicions about this deeply sinister government requirement to his web site.

Now he’s a target.

And Maggie is the bait.

The technology is real. Washington is corrupt. It’s only a matter of time before this isn’t just an intriguing idea for a political thriller.

Why this book? Why now?
The first time I read 1984, we were less than fifteen years away from the actual year and, what seemed like at the time, a hundred years away from the technology to control society like the book describes. The story stayed with me, though, as the ability to use technology to track people has became more insidious.

Fast forward to today. Edward Snowden revealed the appalling invasiveness of the National Security Agency (NSA), which created a temporary furor. Within a few weeks, though, the front page stories drifted to the back pages and off the national radar. While the subject still produces spirited dinner conversations, we haven’t made any progress as a nation in protecting our privacy.

It got me thinking: What technology exists today to control people? What would be the trigger to get people to use the technology? Most important, what would it take for people to say enough is enough?