Skepchick Quickies 11.27

Skepchick Quickies 11.27
Amanda is a science grad student in Boston whose favorite pastimes are having friendly debates and running amok.

10 Comments

  1. Amanda,

    I can’t help but wonder what that code found in the dead pigeon actually said. I wonder if we will ever find out.

  2. An “ubbreakable” code is really nothing special. There is a concept that has been around for a very, very long time called a “one time pad”. Basically, you and your recipient have a shared random key longer than the message. The sender encrypts the message using the shared secret key. There is no way anyone who intercepts the encrypted message can reproduce the original message without the key. It is just random nonsense. There’s no statistical remnant of the original language for a cryptanalyst to use.

    • It’s also been broken a number of times, because people are always the weakest link in these systems and they are lazy and they do dumb things like reuse keys when they’re not supposed to.

  3. D-R-I-N-K-Y-O-U-R-O-V-A-L-T-I-N-E.

  4. However, we could make up absolutely any message that fits the number of characters, then work out what would have been on the one-time-pad for that to be the message and claim we cracked it!

  5. Yes, the freakout over the coupon is over the top. But I’ll admit to feeling uneasy about any health care centre having “ONE DAY ONLY! SALE!” type events. It’s not framed in any sort of context that would make any sort of sense. Do people in the US really treat their health the same as any other commodity?

  6. ibbica, I’m afraid that’s the case. A lot of Americans take low wage, dead end jobs because they offer better health benefits.

  7. The article on the Peru is extremely misleading for a variety of reasons. First, if anyone does some research on this issue you fine that Peru legislators passed a law prohibiting GMO imports into the country over a year ago. If you scroll down and read the fine print in the article you will actually see a tagline which says: “Note: This decree was signed into effect on April 15th 2011.” Why this is being reported now by White Wolf as if it just happened is a curious question?

    Second, the law does not–as the article says–ban “genetically modified ingredients anywhere within the country.” It puts a ten year prohibition on GMO imports. Because the purpose of the law is to allow Peru time to access the environmental and public health effects of GMO crops, limited agricultural experiments with GMO crops are still allowed.

    Finally, the article leaves out import details about Peru’s agricultural economy which shows why this isn’t just about the precautionary principle. Peru is one of the largest exporters of organic products–especially coffee and cocoa. Because regulations for organic products leaves no possible contamination from GMO crops (but–quite ironically–does allow a marginal degree of contamination from synthetic pesticides) Peru really has no choice but to limit the amount of GMO crops in the country; if they don’t they could lose shares of the organic market due to crop contamination.

    Does it makes sense for Peruvians to use GMO crops and other forms of biotechnology? That is for them to decide. But, I think if first world people are going to show real solidarity for people in the third world then they should approach their issues honestly, with an appreciation for their complexity, and not simply use them as a way to justify (possibly misguided) activism in the first world.

  8. Thank you Rosaire for pointing out the dates and explaining why things aren’t always cut and dry when it comes to GMOs. It’s a protectionist clause to help keep control of their own agriculture essentially. It’s actually really smart economically it’s not anti-science.

    I’m very disturbed by the discount for a women’s clinical visits. As a Canadian woman I make an appointment for my Pap smears and the doctor bills my provincial government the same price as a walk in or a gynecologist charges. It’s sad that women have to pay out of their pocket to have standard test and appointments. As for the abortion paranoia… All I can say is wtf is wrong with you Americans?!?! Lol

  9. For those who care, I discovered why the Peru story is getting so much press recently. Even though the bill was signed into law several months ago, it has only come into effect this month. In this way, the article is not as misleading as it first appeared.

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