Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Monday, February 25, 2013
I was inspired to write this list by the Screeching Weasel song “27 Things I Wanna Do to You,” which I always thought would have been a much better song if he had listed the 27 things. I’m not saying I personally want to do anything to that shitstain I inexplicably lived with for three years, but if one or more of these things happened to befall him without my intervention, I would be not be upset. I would in fact be rather pleased.
For the record, my unpleasant ex Toad Blowhard was not only stupid, but also kinda controlling, and, as I have mentioned at least once before, actually just downright abusive. For more background, he keeps sending me the freakiest rambling, incoherent, poorly typed and semi-literate emails even though I haven’t had contact with him for almost five years. I know I’m opening myself up to (more) people telling me what a heartless, caustic, unlovable bitch I am, and that it was NO LESS THAN I DESERVED FOR DATING HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE, and how it’s NO SURPRISE AT ALL that I’m not in a relationship now and that I’m gonna be SINGLE FOR EVARRR because I just can’t realize that THE ONLY CONSTANT IS ME. Please be sure to tell everyone you know about your deep and life-changing outrage, and send them to this blog so they can be outraged, too.
|It's the right thing to do.|
Without further ado, here are the 27 things I wish would happen to Toad Blowhard:
- Eaten by bears. Fuck that, eaten by ROBOT BEARS. Fuck that, eaten by ROBOT ZOMBIE BEARS! RARRRRGARGH!
- Abducted by aliens, probed in every orifice with big, nasty, gleaming phallic things with lots of pointy bits that pop out and open up like tulips and spin around, then…
- … ejected into the cold, empty, emotionless vacuum of space. NOT picked up by a passing spaceship in the nick of time.
- Haunted by a vengeful spirit. A poltergeist would do, especially if it pursued him through multiple homes and/or trapped him in the television set, or possibly forced him to live as algorithm on the Internet, but in 1993.
- Sucked into a black hole and shot out into another dimension to start a new existence as a strand of meat spaghetti.
- Sucked through an inter-dimensional portal into a land of tall, strapping Amazon women who literally eat punks like him for breakfast.
- Eaten for breakfast by tall, strapping inter-dimensional Amazon women.
- Fell into a time machine, sacrificed to the Aztec gods.
- Enslaved by a voodoo sorcerer and made into a proper zombie. Forced into slavery on a sugar plantation, probably.
- Hit by a car while jaywalking, which could totally happen, cause he jaywalks all the time. Doesn’t even look first, or anything. I’ve really got my fingers crossed for this one.
- Subjected to four-plus years’ worth of illegible hate mail from a self-important lunatic. I don’t know why I’d wish that on him, hint hint hint.
- Pecked to death by blue jays. Not that I have anything against blue jays, I’ve just always thought they looked the type.
- Hunted by billionaires on a deserted tropical island.
- Kept alive and on display in a zoo in a futuristic dystopia in which the Earth is ruled by sentient octopi who have also evolved lungs, I guess, and probably wear baseball caps and eat lollipops and shit. Lollipops made out of fish, prawns, crabs, polychaete worms and other cephalopods.
- Shrunk by a mad scientist to the size of an insect, like in that movie. Only not getting rescued, ever. He doesn’t need more shit to bragplain about. It’d be cool if he got eaten by a cat, because cats are the John Wayne Gacys of the pet world and it would totally rip one of his legs off, and then laugh while he bled out. That would be poetic justice too, because he used to kick my cat.
- Forced to fight Daryl Dixon to the death. His own, of course, when Daryl breaks his arms and legs and leaves him behind as bait to help the rest of the group escape from a horde of zombies. Yes!
- Victimized by ants crawling into his ear while he’s asleep, burrowing into his skull, and making a nest in his brain! Doctors will be unable to operate, you see, because the ants will be constantly crawling around!
- Sacrificed to a volcano god. He’s not a virgin but there’s got to be at least one volcano god who doesn’t slut-shame. Also, I understand that when you’re chucked into a volcano you don’t actually sink down into the lava, but lie atop it and burst into flames.
- Forced to work in Santa’s workshop. It’s nine million miles from the nearest bus stop, and I hear he pays in candy canes.
- Had his lips chewed off by ferrets. My mother owned some ferrets when I was a kid, and she was always warning me that if I didn’t wash my face at bedtime, they’d chew my lips off. It was traumatic, actually.
- Stung to death by scorpions, since he loves the fucking desert so much. I wondered how many scorpions it takes to sting a person to death, so I googled “how many scorpions does it take to sting a person to death,” and the answer is, it depends on the scorpion. So, I guess I’ll have to hope that he gets stung by a whole bunch of deadly scorpions. I honestly can’t think of a worse death. Scorpions are awful. They’re like a spider married a centipede and settled down in my nightmares. Just looking at a picture of one makes me want to throw up.
- Hit by a block of blue ice, which is human waste that leaks out of an airplane toilet and crashes to Earth. It wouldn’t even have to kill him, it could just knock a big hole in his roof or crush his car. As a bonus, it would melt and leave turds laying around everywhere.
- Soul-harvested by a ghost after failing to forward the creepiest chain letter in the world. If he even has a soul, that is. I don’t believe in souls so I find this kind of thing ridiculous.
- Picked up by a tornado and deposited in a tree. Again, doesn’t have to kill him. It’s pretty funny to think about him trying to tell everyone that he was picked up by a tornado and deposited in a tree and everyone just rolling their eyes at him like “Suuuuure you were,” except they already do that anyway about everything, unless things have changed a lot since I knew him. It’d be even funnier if there were a cow in the tree, not that I wish harm on innocent bovines.
- Taken by a cramp when swimming after eating. I don’t remember ever seeing him swim. Maybe he doesn’t know how.
- Eaten by a giant catfish the size of a Winnebago, which would naturally have to seize him after he’s taken by the aforementioned cramp. Some say the giant catfish are an urban legend, but my granddad told me they were real, and he didn’t have a reason to lie.
- Stalked by a small man in a clown suit. The small clown would follow him everywhere and whenever he was eating or doing anything, the small clown would just stand there and stare at him.
Friday, February 22, 2013
The Valentine’s Day engagement season has just ended, but thanks to a Facebook glitch, we’re still seeing all those pictures of engagement rings rolling by as if they were posted two minutes ago and not last week. Congratulations on your engagement, sweetheart, but we all die alone.
|I've been in an existentialist funk lately.|
1) According to this website that must be legit because it has a picture of a lady in an old-timey wedding dress on it, the ancient Egyptians used the symbol of a ring or circle to express the endless nature of the love between a man and his woman. I had no idea the ancient Egyptians were so cheesy. I just thought they were all into building pyramids and abusing slave labor. I probably shouldn’t get my history from The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston.
The Egyptians wore wedding rings on their left ring fingers, because they believed that a vein ran from that finger directly to the heart. This belief found its way into first Greek, then Roman culture, and is still espoused by people with a poor understanding of anatomy today.
2) The earliest “betrothal” rings were made from leather, hemp, ivory or bone. By the time of the Roman Empire, iron rings were in fashion. In those days, only women wore wedding rings, and it was a rare man who would trust his wife with a valuable gold or silver ring.
|Well don't you feel special now.|
3) Gimmal rings, which became popular in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, consisted of two or sometimes three rings that interlocked to form one. When a couple got engaged, each partner would wear half the ring. On the wedding day, they’d put them back together again and the bride would wear it as her wedding ring. If the ring had three parts, a witness to the engagement would wear or carry the third part as proof that he could vouch for the couple’s intentions. Gimmal rings eventually gave way to puzzle rings, which have anywhere from three to 12 (12!) interlocking hoops. The idea was that if the wearer removed the puzzle ring – say, to cheat on her husband – all the loops would fall apart and she would be unable to get the ring back together before the hubby came home and had her stoned to death. I think that insults the intelligence of the average adulteress, especially considering that a typical “business trip” in the Middle Ages probably lasted upwards of a year.
|"Shit, I knew I should've just fucked him with the ring on."|
4) While wedding rings may have started out as a symbol of love with the ancient Egyptians, and become a mark of ownership among the ancient Romans, by the time of the Middle Ages they were a part of the exchange of valuables that took place in marriages between people of means. Marriage contracts were made out of economic necessity (of course you knew that; you’re so smart) and exchange of valuables at the ceremony was a fulfillment of the terms of the contract. For hundreds of years, husbands received a pouch of gold or silver coins at the wedding ceremony and wives received a valuable and often ornate gold or silver ring.
|Like this one.|
5) The wearing of rings by both partners in the marriage didn’t become common until the mid-20th century after American jewelry manufacturers decided that this “men don’t wear rings” shit was bogus. They began marketing wedding rings to men in the 19th century, but before the Great Depression, only 15% of married men wore a ring. Thanks to improved marketing campaigns and the Second World War (which apparently made men want to wear rings to feel connected to their wives back home), by 1950, wedding rings for men were commonplace, with 80% of married men sporting one.
|No word on how many of them take it off when they're out of town.|
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Friday, February 15, 2013
Today, 15 February 2013, we’re due for a close call with an asteroid. Not to worry, they’re telling us the asteroid will “only” come within 17,200 miles (27,680.7 km) of the Earth. As a point of reference, some weather and communication satellites orbit the Earth at a distance of 22,300 miles (35, 888.4 km). NASA spokespeople insist that “No Earth impact is possible,” and the asteroid won’t be visible to the naked eye, which is really disappointing to those of us who generally use our naked eyes to look for shit. The asteroid will be most visible through telescopes from Asia, Eastern Europe and Australia, and it will come closest to the Earth above Sumatra. It’s 150 feet (45.72 meters) wide and will be traveling at a speed of 17,400 mph (28,002.5 kph). Scientists say that an asteroid of this size hits the Earth roughly every 1,200 years. This one, Asteroid 2012 DA14, will just be buzzing the Earth, let me repeat, not actually hitting it.
1) The last large asteroid strike on Earth was the Tunguska event of 1908. The event occurred at about 7:14 am on the morning of 30 June. The asteroid didn’t actually strike the Earth; rather, it exploded in the atmosphere at an altitude of three to six miles (5 to 10 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface. Rough estimates put the power of the blast at about 1,000 times that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
The explosion, which occurred over a largely unpopulated region of Siberia near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River, flattened 80 million trees over 830 square miles (2,150 square kilometers).
Witnesses report seeing a column of bluish light moving across the sky at about 7:17 am, followed by a flash about ten minutes later, and a sound they compared to artillery fire. Those closest to the explosion reported that the sound seemed to move from east to north. An accompanying shock wave broke windows and knocked people down hundreds of miles away. Night skies across Asia and Europe glowed for days, and changes in atmospheric pressure were noted as far away as Great Britain.
|The epicenter of the Tunguska event in 2008.|
2) Chinese records seem to suggest that 10,000 people in the Shanxi Province perished after an asteroid broke up in the atmosphere there in the year 1490 AD. There is some doubt as to whether this was an asteroid impact or a meteor shower, and further doubt as to whether that many people actually died. These ancient historians lie like Fox News. You just can’t trust them.
3) Egypt’s Kamil Crater is believed to have formed 3,500 years ago as a result of an asteroid strike. It was discovered by Google Earth user V. de Michelle on 19 February 2009, because people are totally straight-up discovering things while sitting on their asses using Google Apps now, thank you, Skynet.
4) An impact in 1443 AD probably created the Mahuika Crater, a submarine impact crater on the New Zealand continental shelf. Historians know that, around that time, New Zealand natives abandoned their settlements on the southern coasts of New Zealand. Tsunami experts blamed an earthquake-induced wave, but even the largest undersea earthquakes in the area have produced waves of only 44 to 65 yards (40 to 60 meters) in height. Evidence of beach sand is present at 241 yards (220 meters) on Stewart Island, the southernmost island of New Zealand. Mineral and fossil deposits found in Antarctic ice suggest that the tsunami that drove human inhabitants away from the southernmost parts of New Zealand was the result of a tremendous celestial fireball plunging into the sea.
5) On 10 August 1972, the Great Daylight 1972 Fireball entered the atmosphere over Utah and traveled north until it left the atmosphere over Alberta, Canada. Pictures and home videos were taken.
This was technically not an asteroid, but an Earth-grazing fireball, which is an awesome name for a meteoroid that passes through the Earth’s atmosphere and emerges unscathed to fly back out into space. Several of these have been scientifically studied, and one, the Meteor Procession of 20 July 1860, has been immortalized on canvas:
|Not as good as film, but it's in the public domain.|
6) The first verifiable asteroid strike of a human was a stone the size of a bean, which struck the head of the five-year-old daughter of Mrs. Kuriyama, a resident of Aba, Japan. The strike occurred on 28 April 1927. The child recovered. The asteroid is now in a museum.
The second verifiable asteroid strike of a human occurred on 30 November 1954, when an 8.8 lb (4 kg) asteroid smashed through the roof of Sylacauga, Alabama resident Ann Hodges. The rock ricocheted off Ms. Hodges’s radio and struck her, leaving her badly bruised.
|And to this day, it was the most exciting thing that every happened in Sylacauga. ~ Rivers A. Langley|
Monday, February 11, 2013
There’s been a lot of friend zone talk in the air lately, what with the unjust suppression of the Tumblr Nice Guys of OkCupid, and with the prevalence of asinine bloggers stupidly telling people that there is a way out of the friend zone, once there. Hint: There isn’t. Or if there is, it definitely involves some pretty heavy-duty self-work and maybe even fundamental changes to one or both of your lives, so no, it isn’t just a matter of hanging around until the friend-crush in question gets desperate. You shouldn’t be dating someone who’s just with you out of desperation anyway, let me tell you, that kind of thing hardly ever goes well.
Christina already covered all of the best reasons, which is kind of a gyp because this whole post was my idea. I had to talk her into it though because she was all like, “FIFTY? That’s a lot!” and I was like, “Don’t worry about it, just make a bunch of them about facial hair.” So, here you go:
- You have a mustache.
- You have a soul patch.
- Your mustache grows down over your lip. For fuck’s sake.
- You have some other form of douchetastic, fancy man-scaped form of facial hair.
- You don’t understand that people say “Let’s just be friends” to spare your feelings, not because they actually want to be your friend.
- You have a wallet with Super Mario on it, and every time you pay for something, you sing the Super Mario theme song under your breath.
- Your friends say the reason you’re single is that you’re too nice.
- You’re too clingy.
- You’re supposed to kiss your boss’s ass, not your date’s.
- You send more than two texts in a row without getting a response.
- You need to wash your hair. Seriously. There is no way you should be waiting for a woman to come along and tell you when to wash your hair. Dude. Figure it out.
- You stay home every night and only ever hang out with the same five people and wonder why you never meet anyone.
- You were born in the same decade as your friend-crush’s parents.
- You haven’t had a job in a while. Like a couple of years.
- You wear a top hat and you’re not like, going to a wedding or something.
- You never put your clothes in the dryer because you figure you can wear them dry.
- You refuse to try anything different to meet new people, even when the things you’ve been doing for years aren’t working out.
- You want to go out with your friend-crush, but you’re not about to do something radical like actually ask them.
- You say stupid shit on first dates, like “I don’t believe that if two people are dating for six months and one person wants to end it, that they should be allowed to end it just because they want to.”
- You talk about your previous relationships on first dates.
- Your idea of a great first date is Long John Silver’s.
- Your idea of a great first date is sitting in the park for two hours, under a gazebo because it’s raining, until it gets dark, even though your date doesn’t have a jacket and is visibly shivering.
- You didn’t offer your jacket to your date when she was visibly shivering, you cunt.
- When you find out that your friend-crush slept with someone else, you show up their place at eight in the morning, pounding on the door and demanding to be let in so you can search the closets and shower for presumably nude men who aren’t you.
- You think you’re one of those hot middle-aged guys who get to go out with 25-year-old chicks, but you’re not.
- You think you’re one of those rich middle-aged guys who get to go out with 25-year-old chicks, but you’re so, so poor.
- You think people believe you when you claim that you’re only hanging around with chicks half your age because you want to be their totally platonic, not-checking-out-the-boobs-at-all friend.
- You can’t go out with women your own age because “they’re too old.”
- The whole damn town is guilt tripping your friend-crush into going out with you or at least staying friends with you.
- You can’t open your mouth without some unsolicited advice falling out.
- You like to drunkenly lecture your friend-crush about how casual sex degrades and humiliates her.
- You put women on a pedestal and then freak out when they reveal themselves to be human beings.
- You have a habit of talking down to women you’re interested in, I guess.
- You seem to have misplaced your shining armor and white horse, Sir.
- You think “I was just being honest” justifies being an asshole.
- You think “I was just joking” justifies being an asshole.
- Complying with a simple fucking request appears to be beyond you.
- Your friend-crush is a perfect ten and you’re a perfect three. (I have to admit, I stole this one from my brilliant friend Kelly, but it’s true).
- You absolutely love your best friend. Unfortunately, everyone else hates them. And I mean EVERYONE.
- You never met a boundary you didn’t cross.
- You go around making bitter, nasty blanket statements about what “all women” or “all men” are like.
- You dress like you live in a dumpster.
- You also kind of smell like you live in a dumpster.
- You’re in your thirties, you live in a van, and also the van belongs to somebody else, they’re just letting you borrow it.
- You can’t shut up about how all the other women you’ve ever dated done you wrong.
- You don’t know where the line between “doing nice things for someone” and “being emotionally manipulative” actually is.
- You don’t understand why a woman would continue to wear makeup if she already has a boyfriend/husband.
- You don’t know the right answer to the question, “Does this make me look fat?”
- You suffer from “slut panic” – a debilitating, irrational fear that strikes some men when they encounter a woman who likes sex.
- You asked the girl out (go you!), successfully went on a few days (huzzah!), but then forgot to make a straightforward sexual advance within the recommended time frame (third to fifth date), and she decided that you weren’t interested after all, and started dating somebody else (oops).
Now, head on over to Solitary Mama to read Christina’s 50 MORE reasons you're still in the friend zone!
Friday, February 8, 2013
It’s almost Valentine’s Day, kids, and that means some of you are purchasing and/or eating seasonal chocolates as we speak. If you hate Valentine’s Day, they have the Easter chocolates out already. Personally, I think every holiday should get chocolate. Where’s the Saint Patrick’s Day chocolate? What about the President’s Day chocolate? Dammit, I want Lumpy Rug Day chocolate.
|Lumpy Rug Day: If your rug is lumpy, you'll know it.|
1) The cacao tree, from whose seeds chocolate is made, is a native of the Amazon basin. At least 2,000 years before Christ, chocolate was already cultivated and used extensively throughout Mesoamerican societies. Pottery unearthed in Chiapas, Mexico contains cocoa residue dating back to 1900 BC.
2) The ancient Maya, of recent failed apocalypse fame, were some of the first people to use actual chocolate by at least 600 AD. They revered cacao pods as symbols of fertility, used them in many of their religious rites, and referred to cocoa as “god’s food” in their religious literature. They built the world’s first cacao plantations.
3) Like the Maya, the Aztecs drank a thick, bitter, cold chocolate drink as a tonic for good health. They had no sugar, so added hot chili peppers or corn meal to the drink for extra flavor.
|And, if you've never had hot chili chocolate, I heartily recommend it.|
By the 15th century, the Aztec empire was huge and the Aztecs were using cacao beans as a form of currency. The use of chocolate had spread as far as the Pueblo people of what would become the American southwest, who traded for cacao beans with the Maya and other Mesoamerican peoples. They, too, used the beans in a common drink. Spanish sources of the time report that cacao drinks were an “acquired taste” among native peoples.
|Kind of like squirrel among Appalachian peoples. ~ Mike Pennington|
4) In 1513, Spanish explorer Hernando de Oviedo y Valdez was able to buy a slave in Mesoamerica for 100 cacao beans. According to him, you could get a hooker for ten beans, and four beans got you an eating rabbit. Yes, I just used the phrase “eating rabbit.” Meaning, “a rabbit you can eat.”
|For four beans, it better have been a fat one.|
5) Conquistador Hernan Cortes, seeing a path to the gold that, as it turned out, did not exactly pave the streets of ancient Mexico, established the first European-held cacao plantation in 1519. Later, in 1528, he brought cacao beans back to Europe, where he became the first person to add sugar to the traditionally bitter cacao drink. Lo, it would be an acquired taste no more. Vanilla, cloves, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg would find their way into the chocolate drink, which would become fashionable among the Spanish aristocracy, who would keep its existence secret from the rest of the world for the next century. The chocolate cat would get out of the bag in 1615, when Spanish princess Anne of Austria married King Louis XIII of France and brought chocolate to the French court.
|Chocolate cat lol|
6) Chocolate made its way to the United States in 1755, where the first North American chocolate factory would appear in 1765. In 1830, the first solid chocolate for eating appeared due to the efforts of J.S. Fry & Sons chocolatiers (that’s French for “chocolate makers,” fuck you, spellcheck). The first chocolate creams and bonbons would appear in the U.S. in 1851. In 1875, Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter invented milk chocolate, and, in 1879, fellow Swiss Rodolphe Lindt of Berne invented chocolate fondant. By 1900, Switzerland’s chocolate production surpassed that of all other nations, making it the chocolate leader it is today.
|Bonjour! ~ Schnaggli|
Monday, February 4, 2013
So the other night, last night to be exact, this random guy emails me out of the blue on OkCupid with the following deep and insightful missive:
“If you are interested we could maybe set up a friends with benefits situation. Or just one night would work also.”
Well! Somebody’s got some melon-sized balls, hasn’t he? I mean, I don’t know this guy from Adam and here he is jumping right into a “let’s be friends with benefits” message. Like, geez, whatever happened to taking a girl out to dinner, listening carefully to all that she says, pretending to be interested, and then announcing after you’ve fucked her that you’re not looking for anything serious right now? I mean, just because we’ve got the Internet, it doesn’t mean we get to be lazy.
Or maybe it does? Maybe I’m just old-fashioned? Maybe all the young’uns are out there nonchalantly setting up casual sex dates with strangers on the information superhighway? (Ha ha ha remember when they used to call it that? The last time you heard someone say “information superhighway” you were probably spinning a cassette tape around on a pencil, correct?)
Random women of the world, would you fuck this guy? Cause I wouldn’t fuck this guy. It’s not that I have anything against casual sex, either. I mean, I’m totally all about some casual sex. But if I wanted to have a one-night stand, there are bars like five miles from my house.
And let me tell you, “just one night would work also” CRACKS ME THE FUCK UP. I mean, OH MY FUCKIN GOD, DUDE. “If you don’t want to be my friend with benefits, how about just a one night stand?” Did I mention this guy lives like 45 miles away from me? That was actually my first thought – I’m not driving 45 miles just to have a one-night stand, there are bars like five miles from my house. Rest assured this was followed closely by my second thought, Who the fuck does this shit anyway? I mean, really, what kind of creep goes around asking random, strange women if they want to be friends with benefits and/or have a one-night stand? Is there some unspoken assumption that anyone with an OkCupid account is implicitly looking for meaningless sex? Can you not at least buy me a drink first?
|It's going to take more than one drink, uggo.|
I have, in my life, been previously acquainted with the kind of guy who thinks asking random women for sex is a good idea. These men are neither attractive, nor mature. In fact, I haven’t personally met a guy who admitted to believing that crap since I was in high school, so that should tell you all you need to know.
The logic, in case you’re interested, seems to be that if you ask enough random women for sex, eventually one of them is bound to say yes. I wonder how well that works? I mean, on average, how many strangers would you say a guy has to ask for sex before he lucks out with one who wants to shag an ugly rando with no social skills?
|One hundred? Five hundred? ALL THE WOMEN IN THE WORLD?|
Friday, February 1, 2013
I Googled “cryptology” instead of “cryptography” because I don’t know what I’m doing any more.
|There seems to be some confusion in terms, anyway.|
1) The oldest known attempt at encryption dates back to the kingdom of Egypt, about two thousand years before Christ. The ciphers are found on the tomb of Khnumhotep II. They may have been created as a joke, or in an attempt to construct an air of mystery around the tomb itself.
2) By 500 years before Christ, the ancient Greeks of Sparta had developed a device called a scytale, which they used to exchange encrypted messages. Both the sender of the coded message and its recipient had to have one. The scytale consisted of a stick around which a strip of leather or parchment was wound. The sender wrote his message on the wound-up paper, so that when the strip was unwound, it wouldn’t make sense. The receiver had to re-wrap the strip around his own scytale, which had to be of the exact same size and length as the other guy's, in order to decode it.
|That's the Roman alphabet! I call shenanigans!|
3) The next big breakthrough in encryption came in the 9th century, from Arab mathematician Al-Kindi. His book, On Deciphering Cryptographic Messages, introduced the field of cryptanalysis, or code-breaking. He introduced code-breaking techniques for substitution ciphers using single and multiple alphabets, as well as introducing different types of encryption and discussing the Arabic language’s encryption potential. Other scholars of the medieval Muslim world produced work on cryptography and frequency analysis, the study of the frequency of letters and groups of letters in a cipher, but much of it has been lost.
4) In Europe, Leon Battista Alberti was, in the year 1467, “inventing” the polyalphabetic cipher, a substitution cipher that uses multiple alphabets. I’m using quotation marks (which I privately refer to as “those little ears”) because, as you may have noticed, our Arab mathematician Al-Kindi included some discussion of these in his own treatise of 800 AD. Of course, 15th century Europeans were fresh out of the Crusades, and maybe even still crusading a little bit from time to time, so we shouldn’t be surprised that Alberti got the credit for devising the first polyalphabetic cipher, and earned himself the title of “father of Western cryptology.”
|"Father of lookin' freakin' creepy," if you ask me.|
5) One of history’s most inscrutable manuscripts, the Voynich manuscript, is believed to be a complicated cipher. It dates from the first part of the 15th century, and is likely Italian in origin. It takes its current name from Wilfrid Voynich, a book dealer who acquired it in 1912. Since 1969, the book has resided in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.
Two hundred and forty pages of the Voynich manuscript have survived to the modern day, although there are clearly some pages missing. Evidence suggests that the original manuscript had about 272 pages, and that they were probably in a different order. The manuscript includes numerous illustrations of plants, making it resemble a medieval treatise on the medicinal uses of herbs. However, none of the plants pictured in the manuscript are known to exist.
|Not that you can tell because it looks like they were drawn by a toddler.|
The text of the manuscript is completely incomprehensible, despite efforts by some of the world’s best codebreakers, including some who served the Americans and British during both World Wars. The text was written from left to right, and uses an alphabet of 20 to 30 commonly repeated glyphs, with a few rarer ones sprinkled throughout the manuscript. The glyphs appear to be arranged into words, most of which are no longer than ten characters, and few of which are shorter than three characters. The text exhibits the characteristics of a language that evolved naturally. The strange alphabet resembles the Greek, Cyrillic or Latin alphabets, in that the characters are always written in the same fashion no matter where they appear in the “word.” In some places, the same “word” appears two or three times in a row. The symbols appear similar to the commonly used alphabets of contemporary Europe, but the words make no sense in any of those languages. The smooth flow of the handwritten text suggests that its author was familiar with writing in this language, or that the manuscript was copied from another source.
The earliest known owner of the book was Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, who lived from 1552 to 1612. Rudolf passed the book to Jacobus Sinapius, head of the imperial botanical gardens. It then found its way into the possession of alchemist Georg Baresch, who had no idea what it meant, but refused to surrender it to scholar Athanasius Kircher, who got it anyway after Georg’s death. After Athanasius’s death, the book remained with his things at the Collegio Romano until 1912, when the university, short on funds, decided to sell the manuscript, along with others, to Voynich. No one, of course, knows who created the manuscript, although one theory speculates that the book was a hoax created to swindle the aforementioned Emperor Rudolf out of the equivalent of what would today be $80, 831.20 US.
|More than a hundred years before said Emperor's birth. Sure.|