They Took Utah's Biggest Secret And Made Sure Everyone Had A Peek. (And Nope: Not THAT Utah Secret.)

So cool.

Bluffdale, Utah. Ever heard of it?

I hadn't. But it's where our story takes place, so let's take a look at where it is.


Bluffdale is the site of a massive NSA data center.

It cost $1.2 billion to build, and ... well, did I mention it's massive? It's estimated that the facility could store 12,000 petabytes of data (that's 12 billion gigabytes), which could hold the text of more than 300,000 copies of every book ever published.

No one is quite sure what exactly the NSA will store here. But that much storage capacity is very unsettling, to say the least.

This place is run by the the NSA, so there's certainly no public directory or table of contents. But based on the word of multiple whistleblowers through the years, we can almost certainly say the NSA is collecting and storing far more information than we've been led to believe.

In June 2014, some folks launched an airship over the Bluffdale facility in protest.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation teamed up with Greenpeace to fly an airship (Yeah, AN AIRSHIP. THAT IS SUPER-COOL.) over the NSA facility. It said, "NSA: Illegal Spying Below."

"Protesting by flying our airship over the facility is one small way we can help draw attention to this. If we don't fight for these rights, we can expect to lose them."

Flying an airship over Bluffdale isn't going to stop the NSA. It isn't going to change the course of history. But it's still a pretty significant (and totally effing badass) action. It says: "Yeah, you're watching us. But we're watching you too."

Want to catch the whole story in video form? Check it out here.

Heroes
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular