Tuesday, 25 November 2014

1984: THEN AND NOW

Thirty years ago, the subject of spy numbers stations fascinated me. With my Kenwood R-1000 general coverage receiver, I scanned the shortwave bands for traces of these Cold War broadcasters. Six years later, I composed an electronic music piece around the recording of a CIA spy numbers station. Listen to this eery piece called Passing Messages. According to rumors circulating at the time, these broadcasts were coded messages to spies in foreign lands. They would receive a decoder card and decipher the numbers to create the message from headquarters. I never knew what those messages were about but it was thrilling to listen to these secretive transmissions.

I also discovered a few clandestine broadcasters. Those are stations set up by revolutionary forces in countries experiencing civil war. Radio Venceremos was one of my favourite catches. To me, it sounded like a Spanish Goon Show. Even though I didn't understand the language, I felt elated that I was hearing what few in my neighbourhood or city even dreamt existed.

During the autumn of 1984, I went on a hunting trip with my cousin Wayne. He hunted deer while I hunted exotic radio stations. I stayed to guard the camp while he went out with his rifle. Wayne didn't shoot any large game but I certainly snagged some good radio signals. One of which was an emergency transmission from a ship with an injured sailor. The radio operator's English was so poor that the coast guard man barely understood him. Wayne and I waited expectantly as we listened to the drama playing out on the airwaves. We gave up after a while since the signal faded out and it was late. I never did hear how things turned out.

Thirty years later, I discovered that some spy transmissions still occur. As I tuned the shortwave dial one sunny afternoon while enjoying a warm September day in my front yard, I came across the familiar sound of a numbers station. The sampled voice of a woman read off numbers in Spanish, presumably to a spy in south or central America. What pleasant memories the sound of that woman's voice brought back of a time when the Cold War was at its coldest.

In addition to coded analogue messages, spies around the world use highly sophisticated methods of passing information. The news is periodically filled with stories about spies being discovered and hackers being found out. Even Canada's Department of National Defense has had their computers hacked. I've heard that the Chinese government were behind that one as well as other incidents of digital spying on our government.

It seems that George Orwell's 1984 book is coming to pass in our daily lives. We don't have Telescreens but we do have the Web. The American government wants to turn control of the Internet over to the United Nations. Many of those member countries are hostile to our free way of life. Governments are also seeking to gain increasing control over the lives of their citizens through regulations and confiscatory laws. If I told folks thirty years ago that we'd be told what sort of light bulbs to buy and toilets to install, they'd think I was crazy. Now people accept it as just another government regulation.

Fortunately for me and others, the dire predictions of a cultic teacher I once followed never came to pass. Find out how God liberated me from the aberrant nonsense that faker taught me by buying How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell's Books to learn more.