Skepchick Quickies 6.20


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. OK, here is a privilege check for you: I have taught a course on a cryptographic protocol to the NSA.

    Not that I learned anything from the experience. I don’t have a security clearance and neither did my co-instructor. The NSA probably thought it was cheaper to pay me to tell them what I know than to find out in other ways.

    Coming to the Snowden episode from my world the main response has basically been puzzlement. Yes we knew that those things were going on and have been telling people to use strong cryptography to stop them. But I don’t think anyone in the field expected that such a low ranking non-employee would have such access. And I am certain my (retired very senior) NSA sources are even more surprised than I am because they went to town on me a few months ago for suggesting that the reliance on contractors to develop their cyber-warfare capability is a major security issue.

    Jon Rappoport’s theory is far from impossible. The CIA and NSA have done plenty of stupider things and they do engage in turf wars. If any of you followed the series of scoops Josh Marshall picked up during the Bush administration you have seen the way the game is played. Marshall uncovered a story that led to a number of GOP Congressmen going to jail for taking bribes from a military contractor they were funneling contracts to. The perps pled guilty which meant that the more lurid parts of the story involving prostitutes being ferried into the Watergate building for the politicians use by a limo company that had received a contract to supply services to the CIA under peculiar circumstances that led to the CIA deputy director going to jail. The only sources that could have supplied the information are the NSA and FBI. The FBI is not a likely source for many reasons.

    There is a real possibility that Snowden is a ‘provocation’. Fake defectors (tripple agents) turn up at embassies offering false intelligence fairly often. The only real loser in the situation right now are the contractors. Obama’s national security cred has risen, the disclosures have not hurt him at all.

    Whatever Snowden is, the Department of Defense has to get out of the business of gathering intelligence on US citizens. The NSA is a DoD entity, not a civilian agency. There is a real separation of powers issue.

    The US government needs to reduce its dependence on contractors as well. Snowden’s claim of making $200K in a year is absurd. There are people in the industry that make quite a bit more, but Snowden just does not have the skills or the credentials to be in that league. $130K is good money for a UNIX jockey. But the US government was likely paying twice or even three times that amount to Booze Allen for his services because they could not put him on the government payroll for more than $80K.

    A civil service leaker puts their pension on the line. A beltway contractor does not have as much to lose from public leaks or selling access or cash.

  2. That Soylent stuff irritates me so much. Food is about more than calories. Chewing strengthens your teeth. I can imagine that only drinking that stuff will mess up the balance of bacteria in your gut in the long run. The guy who developed this is a bit short-sighted. And seriously, who is tired of eating food? Why would you even want to live anymore?

    The space program tried to give the original astronauts something similar to this and they hated it. Prisoners in solitary have to eat a solid brick of food similar to this, it’s called Nutraloaf, and there are petitions declaring it cruel and unusual punishment.

    1. And think of the links between a diet lacking in fiber and colon cancer.

      When I’m busy, eating can be an annoyance. But I’d always rather have some quick fruit and veg (or yogurt, which is it’s own food group in my life) than drink a meal,

    2. “And seriously, who is tired of eating food?”

      um, some people are, like that one person. and like myself on occasion (possibly linked to my lifelong difficulty of being nauseous sometimes when i need to eat)

      “Why would you even want to live anymore?”


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