Prisoners, Lovers, and Spies - Edward Snowden & the NSA

Let's talk about Edward Snowden and the NSA!

Our presenter is Kristie Macrakis, an author, historian and professor. After completing her Ph.D in the history of science at Harvard University, she spent a post-doctoral year in newly unified Berlin, Germany. She is a professor in the school of history, technology and society at Georgia Tech in Atlanta where she teaches courses on history of science, Nazi Germany and the history of espionage.

Ms. Macrakis has recently published the book "Prisoners, Lovers, and Spies". It is the first history of invisible ink and secret communications revealed in thrilling stories about scoundrels and heroes and their ingenious methods for concealing messages. She had previously written a book on the secret technical methods and sources of the Stasi (East German Ministry for State Security) as it stole secrets and spied on its own citizens.

Ms. Macrakis will be present historical information on spying and keeping information private through the use of secret communications. By understanding some history of spying and secret communications, we hopefully can make a better decision regarding the current situation with the NSA and make a better decision as to what limits should be placed on the NSA.

For excerpts from Ms. Macrakis recent book, read an article in Scientific America , Kirkus, or an 18 page excerpt in The book covers the history of secret messaging all the way up to al-Qaeda’s hidden instructions in pornographic movies. This book presents spellbinding stories of secret messaging that chart its evolution in sophistication and its impact on history.

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Doors open at 7 to order dinner, official start at 7:30, you can show up late, we understand traffic and work get in the way. 

No-Show policy: people who RSVP yes and don't show will be banned from future events. "No show" includes canceling the day of. 

We're an eclectic group that meets to respectfully exchange ideas about controversial topics. 

Our group is more focused on learning and hearing different view points than winning a debate. We try to keep the discussion respectful and encourage devil's advocates. It's a chance to talk with and learn from people you would never meet in your existing circles. The conversations are moderated to keep things friendly.

The rules are pretty simple: be nice, brief and on topic.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    An online course related to this topic may be of interest to some of you. It is called Wiretaps to Big Data: Privacy and Surveillance in the Age of Interconnection. It is taught by a professor from Cornell and can be found at The current session of the class started March 4 and runs for 10 weeks but you can still enroll. I usually just "audit" the class by watching the videos and reading the recommended materials as I have available time- no tests with this option!!

    The youtube video "Edward Snowden and ACLU at SXSW" can be found at

    I had a great time last night. What an engaging and insightful discussion,

    1 · May 15

    • Kristie

      Hi Dianne, Thanks for this. The course sounds very interesting and you are very knowledgeable and informed on the issues! I hope to watch the Frontline episode today.

      May 15

  • Jay W.

    Excellent presentation by Kristie Macrakis on the history of spying and weaving it into the current issue of the NSA spying on just about everyone.

    1 · May 14

  • A former member
    A former member

    There are two locations listed. Which is correct?

    May 14

    • Scott D.

      Taverna Plaka - Taco Mac double booked us AGAIN, and Jay was able to secure a new location at the last minute.

      May 14

    • A former member
      A former member

      The location has been changed to Taverna Plaka. A message was sent out yesterday giving the explanation.

      May 14

  • Jay W.

    The author, Kristie Macrakis, will be happy to sign books if people would like.

    May 10

  • Scott D.

    A great summary of pro / con arguments and history of Snowden's effect:

    April 30

  • Tiffany

    Would love to go but my brother's college graduation is that night. He made it.....finally!!

    April 22

  • A former member
    A former member

    April 22

24 went

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