Yesterday, the Internet Solved a 20-Year-Old Mystery

A Blog About Language
Jan. 21 2014 3:54 PM

Yesterday, the Internet Solved a 20-Year-Old Mystery

metafilter.com

Photo by Ask Metafilter user JannaK

Yesterday afternoon, a woman seeking help with a decades-old family mystery posted a thread on Ask Metafilter titled "Decoding cancer-addled ramblings":

My grandmother passed away in 1996 of a fast-spreading cancer. She was non-communicative her last two weeks, but in that time, she left at least 20 index cards with scribbled letters on them. My cousins and I were between 8-10 years old at the time, and believed she was leaving us a code. We puzzled over them for a few months trying substitution ciphers, and didn't get anywhere.
Advertisement

The index cards appear to just be a random series of letters, and had confounded the poster's family for years. But it only took Metafilter 15 minutes to at least partially decipher them. User harperpitt quickly realized she was using the first letters of words, and that she was, in fact, writing prayers:

Was she a religious woman? The last As, as well as the AAA combo, make me think of "Amen, amen, amen." So extrapolating -- TYAGF = "Thank you Almighty God for..."

It would make sense to end with "Thank you, Almighty God, for everything, Amen - Thank you, Almighty God, for everything, Amen, Amen, Amen."

Which harperpitt soon followed with:

AGH, YES! Sorry for the double post, but:

OFWAIHHBTNTKCTWBDOEAIIIHFUTDODBAFUOT
AWFTWTAUALUNITBDUFEFTITKTPATGFAEA

Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name... etc etc etc

The whole thread is fascinating. You should take a look at it. You might even be able to contribute.

A version of this post originally appeared on On the Media's TLDR.

Alex Goldman is a producer for the public radio show On the Media and co-creator of TLDR.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

There Are New Abuse Allegations Against Adrian Peterson

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

John Oliver Pleads for Scotland to Stay With the U.K.

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Jurisprudence

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police

The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 1:51 PM Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.