My Train of Thought Down the Internet Rabbit Hole

Stop #1

While reading Twitter, social network analysis and data jouralism by Alessandro Zonin, one of many articles I found this morning during my first visit to LinkedIn‘s Data Journalism group,

Stop #2

I clicked a link to an obscure book (Who Shall Survive? by Jacob Levy Moreno) cited by the author. I am so grateful for the age in which we live where not only can I instantly go to the 84-year-old primary source without leaving my seat but then send my very own free copy to multiple devices with which I can read it anytime, anywhere.

I love (home to the WayBack Machine, among literally–and I mean literally in the literal sense–millions of other things).

Stop #1 again

A couple charts in Zonin’s article inspired a couple ideas for my Spotify app but I didn’t know the name of the chart type I wanted to use so I

Stop #3

Googled “types of charts” and, after opening a few results in other tabs,

Stop #2 again

I returned to and searched for “charts” wondering if there were other really old cool books related to data visualization.

One of the results was Charts On Ciphered Codes by William F. Friedman which is interesting to me in and of itself because I love Edgar Allan Poe who was one of the greatest cryptographers in history but also interesting because the book is in the William F. Friedman NSA Collection. So I clicked it

Stop #4

and saw it is also in the nationalsecurityarchive which, of course, I clicked. Here’s that collection of collections:

Those are just the top results. Look at all that yummy goodness!

Stop #5


The National Security Internet Archive (NSIA) above includes, among a giant pile of candy like the Friedman NSA Collection, the NSA Archive.

Am I the only thinking, “What are the Venona Documents”?

That Dept. of Army Technical Manual and a Field Manual that appeared a little further down both reminded me of my best friend from high school and college who collected lots of books that probably creeped most people out. He was not only one of those people with shelves of true-crime novels about serial killers but he also had books he could only find at gun shows like the infamous How to Kill from Paladin Press and an innocence-shattering Department of Defense book on … the title either called it “advanced” or “enhanced” interrogation. He bought this and I saw it in the early 90s, 10-15 years before such a term entered the mainstream vernacular.

Stop #6

So I googled that. First, I searched for “DOD advanced interrogation handbook”. What I find most interesting about these are URLs … I am also so grateful to live in a country were our government is this transparent and the rest of us are free enough to question and criticize our government.


The results often included “enhanced” so I then started searching for “enhanced interrogation” — that auto-populated as “enhanced interrogation techniques pdf” so I used that.


I opened many of them in other tabs but think I’ll just close those and get back to thinking about things less dark on this Wednesday like … today is my wife’s birthday and my daughter is baking a cake.

Well, I closed all of them except for this one …





Turing and Emotional Intelligence

Watching The Imitation Game while working on, coincidentally, a course called Increasing Your Emotional Intelligence. For most of the film, I’ve had it in the back of my mind how similar the relationships Turing had with his co-workers are to mine with my co-workers. Just now noticed the irony of that when compared to the fact that I’m working on an Emotional Intelligence course.

Cryptography doesn’t just apply to the movie but also to emotional intelligence. Once in a while, I re-read The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships (Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism) by Temple Grandin.

A Legend in Cryptography

Edgar Allan Poe died October 7, 1849 at the age of 40. Nobody knows exactly how or why but several books have been written about various theories. My particular favorite is Midnight Dreary: The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe by John Walsh available used on Amazon for a penny.

My little painting of Poe. The website no longer exists.
My little painting of Poe

At least one poem and/or story by Edgar Allan Poe is required reading for most people in K-12 but few know how prolific and brilliant he was–in particular when it comes to languages (he was fluent in multiple even if you don’t count German) and cryptography.


Many are familiar with the cryptography included in his short story, “The Gold Bug,” but during his arguably substantial, albeit short-lived, career as a columnist for various New York newspapers and magazines, he wrote about cryptography and, while working for Alexander’s Weekly Messenger, he challenged readers stating he could solve any and all ciphers they submitted.

He not only succeeded but whenever challenged in a particularly snarky way, he employed his typical tomahawk style to respond. On one particular instance he gave his response using the very code designed by the user … oops … reader. Can you tell what a nerd I am? These aren’t the funniest of his columns by a long shot, but definitely reveal his mostly unknown sense of humor.


Presumably bored after six months and no real challenges, Poe submitted two himself (see “Secret Writing Addendum III,” above) under a pseudonym (not the first time and unlikely the last time he’d do such a thing), challenging anyone to break them. Lots of people tried. For a long time.


The first of the two was solved in 1992 and a $2500 prize was offered to anyone who could solve the second.


A 27-year-old software engineer finally cracked the second.