Saturday, November 24, 2012

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As you may have heard, there's been a remarkable PermaRec-ish story emerging out of England, where a gent named David Martin was renovating his chimney and found the remains of a long-dead carrier pigeon with a little red canister attached to its leg bone. Inside the canister was an encrypted World War II-era message. It's believed that the pigeon was sent from Nazi-occupied France during the war.

This story has received lots of media coverage, but I particularly like the treatment from Mallory Ortberg at Gawker, who approaches the story with a very endearing sense of Harriet the Spy-ish adventure. She begins by saying, "[S]ometimes life is every bit as exciting and riddled with mysteries as you had hoped it would be as a cunning, hopeful child" (a nice distillation of the PermaRec ethos, no?). Then she describes the particulars of the situation and observes:

Of course there was a small red cylinder! Of course it was rolled like cigarette paper, exactly as a secret code ought to be. We live in days of wonder.

I really like that.

As for the message, we may never know its contents, because British encryption authorities say its code is unbreakable, at least so far, and they may not have the resources to crack it. Further details here.

I have to admit, until now I thought finding a bunch of old report cards in a discarded file cabinet was about the coolest thing ever. But a finding an encrypted WWII message strapped to the decomposing leg bone of a deceased homing pigeon definitely trumps that. I know when I'm licked.

1 comment:

  1. I like the way she puts it too. let's all keep that part of ourselves and never let it go. the part that loves the mysteries ... and the stories.
    -- Lianne