Are You Allergic to BBQ? And Google’s Spoofable Emails

allergic-to-bbqYes, Virginia, There Is a BBQ Allergy

Allergic to meat and barbeque? I would’ve thought it impossible, but recently the intertubes and the power of science have proved me wrong.

According to CBS News, increasing numbers of people are afflicted with an allergy to red meat, ironically caused by the bite of the Lone Star tick, an insect hailing from my home state, the spiritual Mecca of BBQ. The symptoms are severe enough to cause victims to swear off red meat forever. Here’s one quote: “I woke up with very swollen hands that were on fire with itching… I could feel my lips and tongue were getting swollen,” and after calling for assistance, “I was losing my ability to speak and my airway was closing.”

When victims are bitten by the tick, it sets their immune systems into a defensive posture and introduces an “alpha-gal” sugar into the bloodstream. This sugar is also present in meat and some dairy. The victim’s immune system identifies the alpha-gal sugar as an invader and thus when it’s ingested from another source, like BBQ, it triggers a fierce, life-threatening reaction.

Who knew? Maybe Mother Nature is indeed restoring the ecosphere through guided evolution. Since I appreciate a fine burger, I’m not hoping to contract the BBQ allergy anytime soon, but I’d reluctantly submit to a Lone Star tick bite if it were part of an epidemic of such bites sweeping out from Texas to the rest of the country. Frankly, if we were a country of unwilling vegetarians, we’d be a leaner, healthier, stronger country. I would make the ultimate BBQ allergy sacrifice because I am a f***ing patriot.

And if there’s a renegade colony of militant vegans out there in Austin, living off the grid and stewing their own kambucha or whatever, reading this and contemplating the careful cultivation of millions of bloodsucking, BBQ-allergy-spewing ticks, well, maybe they’re patriots too. God bless America!

DKIM Embarrasses Google

Trending at the top of WIRED’s content right now is an article about how Google, PayPal, Yahoo, Amazon, and Twitter all have been sending email with weak security keys. The security scheme is called DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), named after my buddy Dave Kim, an Austin IT expert. Zack Harris, a Florida mathematician, thought an email he got from a Google recruiter was actually a sly test of his skills, so he cracked their weak DKIM key and sent a spoofed (fake) email to the Google founders.

Zap! Google quickly fixed the problem but didn’t give Harris the satisfaction of a response. Since then Harris has found this flaw fairly common across the ‘net.

So beware geeks bringing gifts to your inbox, because they may be scams. And of course, beware recruiters. Because recruiters are the new kings of spam.


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