It occurred to me over the holidays that agencies like the NSA were probably started by someone embittered in childhood by a secret decoder ring. Like little Ralphie in A Christmas Story, some code-cracking child prodigy must have been frustrated by the constant disappointment of spending valuable hours applying complicated scientific and mathematical methodology to those secret radio broadcasts only to be instructed, “Drink more Ovaltine.” Now that kid is all grown up and wiping away his milk mustache with a printout of your personal e-mail. In homage to that mad hacker in all of us, I’ve taken the liberty of encoding the end of this pick. It can be decrypted by applying the following number/letter substitution key: 1=A, 2=B, 3=C…26=Z. Though I’m sure Steven Levy can explain more secure encryption methods while discussing his new book Crypto. 2-5 19-21-18-5 20-15 18-5-1-4 20-8-5 3-9-20-25 16-1-16-5-18 5-22-5-18-25 23-5-5-11. The lecture begins at 6 p.m. at the S. Dillon Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Dr. SW. $13. (202) 357-3030. (Brian Nelson)