The geese fly south for the winter.
December 16, 2004 7:51 AM   Subscribe

Have you ever wanted to be a repressed homosexual suicidal genius? Now's your chance. The UK's GCHQ has set up a series of codebreaking challenges to try and attract your attention in the hope it gets you interested enough to apply for a job. This is the latest. A previous challenge here. Plus some other puzzles they've set. GCHQ: It's not all about selling out your fellow man/woman.
posted by biffa (31 comments total)
And of course I'm referring to Turing in my title.
posted by biffa at 7:52 AM on December 16, 2004

I just thought you were making conversation : )
posted by bachelor#3 at 7:54 AM on December 16, 2004

Abraham Lincoln was homosexual.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 7:54 AM on December 16, 2004

What, are forced hormone treatments for homosexuals coming back again?
posted by fvw at 8:04 AM on December 16, 2004

You know, I'm beginning to think a few more moment's thought on my part might have made all the difference to where this thread is going to go.
posted by biffa at 8:21 AM on December 16, 2004

biffa - I feel your pain for you in advance.
posted by raedyn at 8:48 AM on December 16, 2004

An awesome side link, Mean Mr. Bucket. I used to nurse a huge interest in the Civil War. I don't mean to get completely off the post's topic, but are there any Civil War heads on here who could comment on the validity of the book reviewed in the link?
posted by NoamChomskyStoleMyFace at 9:51 AM on December 16, 2004

It depends who you speak to, Noam. Larry Kramer has been saying it for ages, and others too. I hope it's true.

and we do make good spies, as long as we're not closeted--that gets too blackmaily. : >
posted by amberglow at 10:05 AM on December 16, 2004

excellent bio of turing
posted by andrew cooke at 10:33 AM on December 16, 2004

One of the sad things about Turing and others at Bletchley Park was that acquaintances thought they were not contributing to the war effort, and because they were in deep cover, they couldn't discuss their work, which arguably won the war. Simon Singh talks about this in The Code Book.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:41 AM on December 16, 2004

'cuz if he was gay, that would make him sooo much cooler.

Abe Lincoln: the gay movement's ugliest posterboy.
posted by pmbuko at 10:58 AM on December 16, 2004

nah, that would be Ken Mehlman--our generation's version of Roy Cohn (the previous recordholder for ugliest inside and out)
posted by amberglow at 11:13 AM on December 16, 2004

It's funny you should mention Simon Singh, cos if you solve the code breaking puzzle in the FPP you can win one of his books.

Co-incidentally I'm probably the MeFite who has lived closest to Bletchley Park.
posted by biffa at 11:15 AM on December 16, 2004

I haven't lived near Bletchley, but my now-deceased grandfather worked for GCHQ for many years (apparently) in their IT side of things. He did a service rotation in Hong Kong for a little while too, don't know if that's unusual or not.

He never uttered a word of anything that he did, though he did mention one IBM mainframe system they purchased decades earlier (the model escapes me), and some comments about the Americans always bringing lots of voltage converters with them when they'd visit. Oh, and he'd mention esoteric programming languages that I've never heard of before or since.

I'm sure he took some great little stories with him to the grave. I don't know if there's a time limit in the OSA, but I doubt he would have shared in any case.
posted by lowlife at 11:26 AM on December 16, 2004

Speaking of codes, I wish ed would post another encrypted post. That was fun.

And Simon Singh's The Code Book is a great introduction to codebreaking.
posted by ..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.. at 11:27 AM on December 16, 2004

Damn, sorry weapons-grade pandemonium, I missed your link.
posted by ..ooOOoo....ooOOoo.. at 11:29 AM on December 16, 2004

Abraham Lincoln was homosexual.

Does this now mean I can build my Log Cabin from Lincoln Logs?
posted by AlexReynolds at 11:58 AM on December 16, 2004

lowlife - i'm curious! would the languages have included either "j" or "k" (or "apl")? (or haskell or ml? - seems much less likely, though)
posted by andrew cooke at 1:21 PM on December 16, 2004

Since nobody else is discussing the puzzle, is anybody else giving it a shot? I've got about half the names so far after working on it for the last 3 hours.
posted by salmacis at 1:31 PM on December 16, 2004

I have a few of the names - I thought they would be encrypted in a way far more complicated than they appear to be.
posted by MrFancypants at 2:04 PM on December 16, 2004

Is there an easy way to analyze letter frequencies? (Pre-written scripts?)
posted by AlexReynolds at 2:21 PM on December 16, 2004

It might be tricky to do that sort of letter frequency analysis since you only have two words (i.e. first and last name) for each cipher. I've only managed to get 8 names total :\
posted by bachelor#3 at 2:37 PM on December 16, 2004

So I guess that means they all use a different pattern. Damn.
posted by AlexReynolds at 3:03 PM on December 16, 2004

They don't all use the same pattern. There is a lot more to it, but I am being greedy since I love this stuff. :)
posted by MrFancypants at 4:21 PM on December 16, 2004

for those that are trying

can help you check your guesses
posted by juv3nal at 5:47 PM on December 16, 2004

biffa prederailled this thread, so I won't feel bad about kvetching on the intro: I wouldn't call Turing a repressed homosexual, at least not in the sense it's usually meant (i.e. self-repressed, in denial). It's tough to say if he was generally suicidal, either; if he hadn't been busted, forcibly subjected to barbaric pharmaceutical and psychological attempts to "treat" his "condition," professionally ruined and publically exposed by the authorities for revealing he was in a homosexual relationship while reporting a robbery it seems he'd have been less likely to eat that poison apple. Every time I think about what they did to Alan Turing I get so mad I want to punch somebody in the face.
posted by nanojath at 10:54 PM on December 16, 2004

It's tough to say if he was generally suicidal, either;

I think perhaps suicide is like sheepshagging, in that you only need to do it once to get a reputation.

Thanks to all those who actually had a go at the puzzles - at least this wasn't a total waste of a link.
posted by biffa at 6:07 AM on December 17, 2004

If anyone is interested, I have written here here how the puzzle is done and there is a discussion there.

I don't have the final phrase yet and I am currently unsure on 4 of the name pairs (I thought I had them, but it was late at night and I have since seen big errors in those on my side).
posted by MrFancypants at 7:34 AM on December 17, 2004

I now have all of the word pairs and am about to tweak my code to complete the final phrase. Unfortunately I have to go to a party and dinner first.
posted by MrFancypants at 11:52 AM on December 17, 2004

MrFancypants, while you're at the party, get the microfilm from a woman in a red dress...use the code "amberglow"

this comment will self-destruct in 10 seconds ; >
posted by amberglow at 12:21 PM on December 17, 2004

Incidentally, the code is "HERESLOOKINGATYOUKID" - the Casablanca quote (and Casablanca is the movie that Humphrey Bogart, the first name in the male column, is in and the second movie in the list chronologically)
posted by MrFancypants at 9:12 AM on December 22, 2004

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