February was a month with a lot of travel, which I like, and a lot of Big Life Projects, which I don’t like as much.
Gironimo!: Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy by Tim Moore.
I think the last thing I read that made me laugh so hard was This World of Ours (PDF) by James Mickens, an associate professor at Harvard who writes about security. Yes, security, and trust me, you owe it to yourself to read it. Here’s the first line from the article, just to give you a taste:
Sometimes, when I check my work email, I'll find a message that says “Talk Announcement: Vertex-based Elliptic Cryptography on N-way Bojangle Spaces.” I'll look at the abstract for the talk, and it will say something like this: “It is well-known that five-way secret sharing has been illegal since the Protestant Reformation [Luther1517]. However, using recent advances in polynomial-time Bojangle projections, we demonstrate how a set of peers who are frenemies can exchange up to five snide remarks that are robust to Bojangle-chosen plaintext attacks.”
and another favorite part:
Web-of-trust cryptosystems also result in the generation of emails with incredibly short bodies (e.g., “R U gonna be at the gym 2nite?!?!?!?”) and multi- kilobyte PGP key attachments, leading to a packet framing overhead of 98.5%. PGP enthusiasts are like your friend with the ethno-literature degree whose multi-paragraph email signature has fourteen Buddhist quotes about wisdom and mankind's relationship to trees. It's like, I GET IT. You care deeply about the things that you care about. Please leave me alone so that I can ponder the inevitability of death.
Anyway, I digress.
Bringing Columbia Home: The Untold Story of a Lost Shuttle and Her Crew by Michael D. Leinbach, Jonathan H. Ward.
The Commander Thinks Aloud from the album Ultimate by The Long Winters
The Commander Thinks Aloud is one of my favorite songs of all time. It’s written from the perspective of the commander of a space shuttle, specifically the shuttle Columbia, and specifically during reentry on the day of the accident. It’s probably obvious why that was a frequent listen for me this month.
It’s a truly beautiful piece of music. It’s one of those songs that makes you think “how the hell did they think this? how did they create it? how did they get so much of it so right?”
John Roderick from The Long Winters was interviewed about the song on episode 28 of the Song Exploder podcast. It’s a fascinating 20 minutes.
ATLiens by OutKast
Strangely titled album, but it’s really good old school rap.