August 16, 2008

Guy Vs. Guy

Filed under: flickr,lunacy,music,weird — mhoye @ 4:41 pm

East From Spadina

Like alcoholism and pyromania, in moderation paranoia can be a lot of fun. So if you’re interested in making your commute just a little bit surreal or add a certain cold war East-Berlin-chic to your next get together, I have quite a treat for you.

Numbers Stations are shortwave radio stations that transmit seemingly-random sets of numbers, repeated in sequence, on some arbitrary schedule; they’re guaranteed not to mean anything to anyone except for the shadowy figure with the right one-time pad, for whom those numbers will magically become their next marching orders through the magic of crypto.

But since it’s shortwave, anyone with a shortwave radio can tune in, and the Conet Project has collected several CDs worth of transmissions from all over the world. And if you grew up reading John Le Carré these crackling synthesized tones and strange recitations will speak to you through a code that means nothing; they will make you think of dimly-lit meetings in the cold alleys of East Berlin, of dead drops, safe houses, microfilm and old men with old secrets.

The Conet Project isn’t selling the CDs anymore, but they’re all downloadable, so put it on shuffle and head to work, looking over your shoulder the entire time. That woman with the loose suit-jacket? She’s wired. That guy with the moustache? He’s an informant, guaranteed. Don’t look him in the eye. Those two guys on the train with you, who were were on the streetcar too?

They’re on to you, man. You’re blown.



  1. (URL=”″; CLEANURL=$(echo “$URL”|sed ‘s/%/%%/g’); for i in 1 2 3 4; do wget -qO- ${URL}${i}/ | sed -ne “s#.*HREF=\”\\([^\”]\\+mp3\\)\”.*#${URL}${i}/\\1#p” ; done | while read FILE; do curl -sI “$FILE”; done) | awk ‘/^Content-Length/{x += ($2+0)}END{print x}’

    Result: 139,473,664 bytes

    Not a bad ratio for four CDs of uncompressible random data.

    Comment by gnomon — August 17, 2008 @ 10:31 am

  2. I’m considering setting up a shortwave transmitter on my roof, and just sending out barbiephonic.ogg over and over again.

    Comment by mhoye — August 17, 2008 @ 10:57 am

  3. I like playing spy/superhero too…it’s why running to the superman theme and late-night driving to ‘the Saint’ can be fun

    Comment by Mark — August 17, 2008 @ 3:32 pm

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