Rightward and Downward in the Voynich Manuscript

Some words, glyphs, and glyph combinations in the Voynich Manuscript prefer earlier or later positions in lines or paragraphs than others.  A few of these patterns are conspicuous and frequently commented upon, such as the tendency of the glyphs m and g to appear at the ends of lines and the tendency of the glyphs p and f…

Della Porta’s Drunken Cipher

Among ciphertexts of the early modern period, this one stands alone for sheer visual weirdness.  It may be found in the 1602 edition—and only that one specific edition—of a book about ciphers written in Latin by the illustrious “professor of secrets,” Giambattista della Porta.  And it looks so utterly wacky that the typical reaction of…

On Glitch Patterns in DAT Transfers

Among audio preservationists, Digital Audio Tape (DAT) is a notoriously glitchy format, routinely plagued by intrusive digital dropouts.  But its glitches are patterned in ways that reflect the technical details of its structure—the interplay between the organization of the digital data and the physical design of the tapes and machines.  I believe these patterns could…

Crusaders No More: Go Valpo Dunehawks!

My undergraduate alma mater, Valparaiso University, has been in the news lately for its decision to retire the “Crusaders” as the name of its athletic teams, as well as the Crusader as a mascot. I see that there’s also been some effort to document past objections to the name “Crusaders,” with one blog post tracing the…

Window Reversal: A Quirky Technique for Distorting Audio

Here’s another Griffonage goody for connoisseurs of the sonically strange, of the acoustically audacious, of arrant eeriness for the ear.  Back in July 2017, I blogged about an audio distortion technique I called window reversal, explaining that it involved reversing every successive group of x samples throughout a source recording.  Extremely short windows have little effect, while…

“Uncle Josh Stories”: Cal Stewart’s Other Book (1924)

Many people who know about the phonographic storyteller Cal Stewart are likely also aware of his book Uncle Josh Weathersby’s “Punkin Centre” Stories, first published in 1903, which contains texts of most of the selections he was then performing for the talking machine.  That book sold well and is easy to find on the antiquarian…