shortwave "numbers stations": creepy spy stuff

Posted on: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 11:58 By: Tom Swiss

When I was a kid, my folks got a multi-band radio that picked up not just AM and FM, but shortwave and audio channels from TV. (If memory serves, they got the radio with a big stack of game tickets from an arcade in Atlantic City.)

While we mostly used it to listen to Johnny Walker or Brian and O'Brien in the mornings, or listen in on TV shows while in the tub in the evening, every once in a while I'd fool with the shortwave. Sometimes I'd pick up a weird channel with someone reading numbers, ghostly voices reciting nonsense.

Tim Kreider on invisible Saddam Hussein

Posted on: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 21:21 By: Tom Swiss

From Tim Kreider's artist's statement for last week's The Pain -- When Will It End?:

I just could not let Saddam die. I know the man was a brutal dictator and a butcher and I ought not to celebrate him as a figure of fun. Partly it’s just that perverse impulse in me that refuses to take seriously what everyone else regards as unassailably sacrosanct or taboo. I am inexplicably cheered by the idea of his surviving, Elvis-like, in our imaginations. Perhaps he lives on as a symbol of the ineradicable authoritarianism and brutality in the world, a reminder that as long as human beings are cringing hierarchical animals that defer to authority, the sociopaths among us will inevitably rise to the top. Wherever there is a country held together by fear, wherever people are raped and tortured in secret prisons and buried in mass graves, Saddam is there. Wherever we bankroll dictators and look the other way from atrocities, whenever we smile and shake hands with devils for the sake of political expediency, Saddam is there. Wherever there is misguided and hubristic American bungling, wherever we turn brutal dictatorships into chaotic bloodbaths, Saddam is there. [Saddam] is with us always.

"white noise" generator with sox for Linux

Posted on: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 17:39 By: Tom Swiss

I am a light sleeper. So a while back I was thinking about getting a "white noise" generator for my bedroom.

Then I remembered that my computer sits right across from my bed. Certainly there must be a software option...

Sox is "the swiss army knife of sound processing programs". It comes standard on most GNU/Linux distributions and is available for other platforms.

January 27: march on Washington, D.C., to tell Congress to end the war

Posted on: Mon, 01/15/2007 - 23:38 By: Tom Swiss
Thousands of people will come to Washington on January 27th to tell the new Democratic Congress to do the job for which it was elected: to stop Bush's war. Demonstrators are asked to assemble on the Mall, between 3rd and 7th Streets, at 11 am; march begins 1pm.

Flyers can be downloaded from

Iraq's puppet government beheads Saddam Hussein's half-brother

Posted on: Mon, 01/15/2007 - 14:25 By: Tom Swiss

One continual talking-point of apologists for our contemporary Crusade in the Middle East is how barbaric "those people" are because they execute people by beheading. Remember that these apologists are, by and large, people who are in favor of Americans executing our own criminals by electric shock or by injecting an agonizing potassium chloride solution directly into their veins as they lie paralyzed; describing the irony is left as an exercise for the reader.

Anyway, their argument is that our invasion of Iraq is justified because we're bringing civilized democratic government to the region.

According to a report from Reuters, in another botched execution, Saddam Hussein's half-brother Barzan al-Tikrit was beheaded by the noose during his hanging.

Besides being ghastly, disturbing, and inhumane in and of itself, this can only inflame hatred of the Iraqi government and its American sponsors, i.e., us.

Robert Anton Wilson leaves us behind

Posted on: Fri, 01/12/2007 - 10:05 By: Tom Swiss

Robert Anton Wilson, noted author, servant of Eris, has left this vale of tears.

Wilson was one of the influential people in the founding of the Discordian Society. He was co-author of The Illuminatus! Trilogy, and wrote Cosmic Trigger and many other books on "psycho-spirituality". RAW was a frequent speaker at Starwood in its early years.

I think that along with Timothy Leary and Kerry Thornley, he will be remembered as one of the most influential philosophers of the late 20th century.


karate kanji

Posted on: Thu, 01/11/2007 - 11:32 By: Tom Swiss

Posted to the Cyberdojo:

"Frank D. Williams, PhD" ( writes:

> The kanji for Karate uses to be written "China Hand" not empty hand
> until the late 1940's or early 1950's.

I just happened to be browsing through my copy of _Karate-do Nyumon_
the other day:

"1. Since there are no written records, it is not known for sure whether
the _kara_ in karate was originally written with the character ...
meaning `China' or the character ... meaning `empty'. During the time
when admiration for China and things Chinese was at its height in the
Ryuk[y]us, it was the custom to use the former character when referring to
things of fine quality, Influenced by this practice, in recent times
karate has begun to to be written with the character [China] to give it
a sense of class or elegance.

compassion, the self, and the meaning of life

Posted on: Thu, 01/11/2007 - 00:15 By: Tom Swiss

From a Slashdot thread that started with a question about uses for a software "dead man's switch", and went off on a tangent about the meaning of life. Quoted material is from Slashdot user lukas84.

Whatever these little consequences are, they can't concern me anymore, since i'm already dead...This thinking can, of course, lead to amoral decisions, and that's why we have invented religion :)

The fact that consequences of your death can't concern you when you're dead, in no way means that reasonably foreseeable post-mortem consequences should not concern you now.

That's why even people who don't believe in any sort of "afterlife" still buy life insurance to take care of their kids.

You don't need any sort of supernatural belief to end up with behavior that most people would call "moral", just some compassion and a reasonable ability to foresee the consequences of your actions.

Which takes me off on a bit of a tangent...

Foreseeing the effects of our actions is of obvious use; if you can't do that to at least some degree, you'll quickly end up dead or institutionalized.

But compassion? What's in it for me, you wonder.

interview with Army officer who refuses Iraq deployment orders

Posted on: Tue, 01/09/2007 - 12:34 By: Tom Swiss

Yahoo's "Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone" blog interviews First Lieutenan Ehren Watada, the first U.S. commissioned officer to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq.

Watada announced last June that he would not follow orders to participate in an illegal war. He has avoided charges of desertion by staying on base (Fort Lewis, Washington), but faces counts of "missing troop movement" and "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman." He faces up to six years in prison.

Kagami Biraki, shiatsu class, this week's Zelda's, and topological romance

Posted on: Sun, 01/07/2007 - 21:43 By: Tom Swiss

Did my "Shiatsu for friends and family" class today - it went quite well, had 12 people come by. Apparently that's the most so far for a workshop at the Well. Yesterday was Kagami Biraki at the dojo, special New Year's class - started with 1,000 punches and went from there. Yes, I'm sore. And that's not helped by still having my car window busted out (note to all: do not take your car to Russel Automotive for any sort of work) and having to crawl in from the passenger's side, since the driver's side door is all taped up.

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