Archive for March, 2005

An announcement

March 31, 2005

If there are any fans of cryptography out there, here’s a little fun for you:


2662 5076 3265 6648 3858 1602 1838 3842 6644 3856 4516 3844 6655 3885 4021 4360 3243 3642 6645 4804 1602 5607


I don’t expect this cipher to provide any unusual difficulties to anyone who knows a lot about cryptography. Despite the short plaintext, it is solvable by experimentation.

Please post your solution in the comments. If you could also let me know how long it took for you to get the solution, I would be interested in that as well.

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No, no…literally

March 30, 2005

The Houston Chronicle for October 12, 1932 had this front-page, five-column top headline:


Movie Director Kills Himself After
Texas Woman Spurns His Love


The second subhead for the article:


Beautiful Former Actress
Tells Police That Film Ex-
ecutive Nailed Her in His
Room.


That’s Hollywood! But it’s not the sort of pungent revelation you expect to see in a 1932 headline from the Chronicle.

Then, a few paragraphs into the story, we find:


Mrs. Smith told of going to Davidson’s apartment.

“When I got inside he nailed the door shut. […]”


Oh. That kind of nailed.

Five years from now…

March 19, 2005

For one of my library school classes a few years ago, I was asked to come up with a goal statement for my career. Here was my first draft:

A. Five years from now, I will be…working behind a reference desk in Laredo and getting smashed on tequila every night to dull the pain of my wasted existence.

B. Barriers to A to be overcome: I don’t like tequila.

C. Milestones on the way to A: Get my master’s in library science. Move to Laredo. Find a liquor store.

D. What resources will I need? Money to buy the tequila.
Ah, how I long for the bright and optimistic days of youth…

Newspapers: Blogs of the 19th century

March 18, 2005

Not that much of what we now think of as reporting was done [in newspapers] until well into the 1800’s. The typical end product was well summarized in the complaint of Franz Josef Grund, soon to turn newspaperman himself, that “An American paper . . . is said to be edited with great talent when it contains in each number from half a column to a column of original matter; the rest consists of extracts [from other papers] and advertisements.

— J. C. Furnas, The Americans: A Social History of the United States 1587-1914 (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1969), pg. 556.