Much has been written in the last 75 years about how the U.S. gained an edge in the Pacific in World War II when the Japanese code was broken. In recent weeks it turns out I may have been trying to recreate that feat, and have begun to understand the challenges those skilled codebreakers faced.
Many years ago, in junior high school and high school, I studied Latin. My reasoning at the time was water-tight, to me. It was my hope to become the world’s leading herpetologist. The most daunting obstacle, I thought, was the memorization of scientific names. But if I knew Latin, I’d just translate the common names of snakes, turtles, and lizards into that language and I wouldn’t have to memorize anything. It is funny the things that make sense when you’re 13.