Posted by: admiralfrum | July 2, 2010

Shortwave Spy Communications

At some point a few months ago I came across the phenomenon of numbers stations. For the most part these are radio transmissions from espionage agencies to instruct clandestine operatives in the field. And you can listen to them. No, I’m not kidding – it’s crazy stuff. They are sprinkled all over the shortwave band (which is used mainly for long distance international variety radio). Principally the communications are long lists of seemingly random numbers (an encrypted message) read by monotonous voices.

As a matter of fact I’m listening to one right now. It’s the “Cuban Lady”, or “Atención!”, classified as V2a in the intelligence community. She’s reading lots of numbers in groups of four, “Zero Zero Quatro Uno Dos…” on 9153 kHz. At the same time, the same message is being broadcast in Morse code on 5883 kHz by M8a, it’s Morse counterpart. It’s usually much clearer than the voice transmissions. Occasionally you get some data files broadcast in this manner as well. They sound like aliens from outer space or something. It’s a good way to creep out your friends.

You can listen to some examples of these transmissions as recorded by The Conet Project . It has some that are really spooky – some of the old cold war stations have musical jingles and creepy voices reading the numbers. It’s an unsettling thing to hear in the middle of the night (that’s when they broadcast). In the US you can’t get many of the interesting ones (such as Israel, MI6, or CIA), but you can get plenty of the Cuban transmissions. Pretty much any day of the week they will have a few transmissions. I enjoy it partly because it’s as close to being James Bond as you’ll ever get. Here these communications are supposed to be tip-top-secret, cloak-and-dagger stuff, and yet you can hear it in the dead of night if you know the time and the frequency.

The sad thing is that these unnoticed communications have major consequences. Ana Belen Montes received instructions via numbers stations and compromised intelligence worth several billion dollars. Yes, billion. The Cuban Five also used it. So the numbers stations are a reminder of the sinister tentacles of communism that still linger long past their time. Isn’t it ridiculous? The Iron Curtain fell over twenty years ago, and we still have these backwards totalitarian regimes that refuse to die and cause nothing but oppression and destruction. It’s ridiculous. Anyways…

The Kaito KA1102, my radio. It has fantastic sensitivity, yet is cheap and small as well. I love it

The best way to listen to Numbers Stations is to head over to Spy Numbers and check their database. There are thousands of entries, so the way to find out what might be on is to search recent entries based on the day of the week and the time of day. Then check some of the frequencies that come up and see what you can find. Some other good resources to read up are from Simon Mason, DX’ing, and The Spooks Newsletter.

Outside of Numbers Stations, Shortwave has lots else to offer. So far I have picked up programs from:

Venezuela, Argentina, Russia,
China, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, France, the Carribean, Cuba, Iceland, Australia, Vietnam, Bulgaria, Romania, Sweden, Spain, the Middle East, and many other unidentified places. It’s magical, that you can get their programs directly, no internet in between, and hear them speaking out of a box in your hand. Bulgaria and Romania in particular have great programs in English. Sadly the UK, Israel, Germany, and France have all shut down their main shortwave programs. It’s the passing of the western block, but there are good reasons for it.
Next up I want to hear North Korea. They broadcast to the US, in English, and their programs are totally insane. Just moonbat propaganda all the way. I’ve listened to some of their programs as recorded on the internet, but I have yet to pick them up live myself.
Posted by: admiralfrum | July 2, 2010

Road Trip: Success

  • So I graduated (I didn’t expect it but they gave me a degree), then went on the aforementioned epic road trip. All in all we covered 5,200 miles in two weeks, averaging about 600 miles a day on ‘driving days’. We went in three legs: New England -> Texas, Texas -> Colorado, and Colorado -> New England.

Not too shabby for two weeks

Some Highlights:

  • Crossing the Potomac. There’s a bizarre section of US Highway 340 where you leave Maryland and cross into less than a mile of Virginia before you hit West Virginia (to return again to Virginia a few miles later). The Potomac is absoloutely Gorgeous over there.
  • Skyline Drive – a scenic trail through Shenandoah National Park. Has some great driving (awesome scenery and road) but the slowpokes (stupid bikers) and windy paths meant we couldn’t average more than 30 mph so we cut to the Interstate and skipped the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Smoky Mountain Knife Works in Sevierville Tennessee. Largest knife store in the World. There I bought an Ontario RTAK II , which is great for splitting firewood. I would have bought a CS Trailmaster or Recon Scout but they were all sold out. This one works great anyways. Used it to make a fire in my home backyard to have some beers with my cousin.
  • Texas. We hauled from Houston to Colorado – 1000 miles in 22 hours. We drove near non-stop to make it in time for Shabbos. Texas can be really flat and featureless in places, but we missed most of that by driving at night.
  • New Mexico. There was one place that was really empty (straight road, desert, no cars, no cops) so I tested my car’s top speed. There’s an engine limiter on it so I couldn’t get faster than 107 mph even though there was still more engine power. That sucks. We also pulled over by the side of the road and shot a few rounds out of the AR-15’s. Fun fun.
  • Colorado. Every single inch was gorgeous. Incredible. I’ve been there many times, but every turn of Highway 50 from Pueblo to Salida took my breath away. It was like driving in a video game but much better. Hairpin turns, tight canyons, White Rapids, Mesas, valley meadows, High mountain passes. Unbelievable. The little hills of Colorado are mightier than most of Appalachia’s mountains (at least Southern Appalachia).

On the Skyline Drive in Virginia. It was a hot day with the usual mountain haze.

  • The Great Plains. They really sucked. Kansas seemed to go on forever, just the same small rolling hills for hundreds of miles. Just a whole lot of nothing. The only highlight was “the worlds’ largest prairie dog town” – fun. There was also an interesting juxtaposition of signs for “Lion’s Den Adult Superstore” and “Pornography Destroys, Jesus Saves” signs.
  • Ohio/W. Virginia/Pennsylvania Border. Absolutely gorgeous green mountains with thick pockets of dense fog. Most of the vehicles in the road were big rigs as we were on a major trucking line. There were ads for Coal everywhere.

All in all it was a great trip. We usually covered about 500 miles a day. I had a good time with my buddy, let off some steam, saw a lot of the country (news flash: it’s mostly empty), and got a real sense of perspective. Got a little sense of Gedulas HaBoirei. It’s the kind of trip that can be hard to take later on once you’re married with kids and a job, etc.

At the end of the trip we listened to Karl Rove’s new self-narrated autobiography, “Courage and Consequence”. It was really great. I’ve been a fan of Karl’s for a while, and I enjoyed his candid, fresh, and insightful description of his colorful life.

Long live adventure! There is more to be discovered!

Posted by: admiralfrum | May 9, 2010

Planning a Road Trip

Though exams and papers loom, I’ve been planning a road trip. An epic journey across the US to The plan is to drive ~2000 miles west to Colorado (for Shabbos), South to Texas (for Shabbos), and back to the East Coast, all in three weeks.

Some resources that have been helpful are:
Google Maps – Lets you plan routes, drop markers, and most of the US is covered with Streetview
Onebag – Advice for traveling light
Road Trip USA – Book and associated web site

:-)

Posted by: admiralfrum | March 29, 2010

Absinthe Fountain Photo

I promised you all earlier that I would post photos of my new completed absinthe fountain. Well, here it is.

Gorgeous, isn't it?

The fountain is on the upper right. Formerly a Georgia Moon whisky bottle, it needs to sit on the speaker to give it the necessary elevation for a proper absinthe drip. It is just small enough to fit in my minifridge’s freezer compartment. The Absinthe is a home-distilled (ssshhhh!!!) Swiss that I keep in a vintage poison bottle. The glass is sitting on a Thermodynamics homework (partial differential equations of state variables). This is my life, the eternal struggle between homework and alcoholism. Right now I prefer the latter.

Posted by: admiralfrum | March 29, 2010

WHOAH!!!

Whoah. Whoah whoah whaoh.

Ok folks, it’s been a while – perhaps you’ve all forsaken me. For a while I had nothing to say, but much time has passed since then and I’ve been up to a bunch of stuff. I’ve travelled the continent, come to deep personal realizations, and made progress on some interesting projects.

Here’s our programming schedule for the coming future.

1. Rifle is finished! Competitions on the way.
2. Shortwave Radio and spy communications.
3. New theories on women – maturity, attraction, intimidation.
4. Friend of mine married.
5. A nice piece on 770.
6. Pesach rut
7. On Addiction, Escapism, and Depression

For now, I’ll just talk about the rifle. I took the plunge and built that rifle I was going on about. In the end it was a narrow run-off between the MSAR STG-556 E4 (a bullpup Steyr AUG clone) or home built AR-15. To remind you, here is the MSAR:
MSAR with optic

I went with the AR because it is a Tinkerer’s dream. Seriously. For every single spring, pin, or part in there you can swap it out six ways from Sunday. As much as I like the MSAR it’s an off-the-shelf solution, you can take it or leave it. The AR is like a custom-built car, you can fine-tune it to exactly how you want it. And who wouldn’t want to build their own gun? If there’s anything you don’t like, you can swap it out. Just look at the various rifles below – all are ARs:

Some other strikes against the MSAR were:
– $2000 price tag. You can build a fantastic AR for half that.
– Trigger. Bullpups have this long trigger linkage that makes them suck. The MSAR trigger wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either.
– Accuracy – it’s good, but not great.

My one reservation is on how short the MSAR is. Overall Length is about 31″, which is tiny. It fits in a backpack when you pop out the barrel. That’s just insane. My AR upper alone is too long to fit in most bags *sigh*.

Anyway, I won’t bother with all the details of every little component I bought. I’ll just say that I bought a budget Upper by CMT (milspec contractor for Stag Arms) and a lower by Smith & Wesson. Both were out of spec (AAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!), and thus required some amateur dremel-work. Not what I was looking forward to. The upper was completely missing the charging handle latch cut (they just weren’t there) and the lower was waaayyy too tight. I bought a Smith & Wesson lower because it was pretty – the store had S&W, Armalite, and some no-name lower, and the Smith had this gorgeous purpleish lustre to it as well as clean (and stylish) roll marks. The other two had bad roll-marks and kind of an ugly finish.

I later regretted buying smith; because of their political history (I know it’s in the past but still) and because the name “M&P 15” implies that ARs should not belong in the hands of ordinary citizens, but being out of spec was the worst. The upper and the lower were about 3 millimeters away from meeting at the rear takedown pin. Now I can’t prove that it is S&W’s fault, seeing as the upper was already not to spec, but reports of extreme tightness lead me to believe that that’s where the problem lay.

Cue several hours of careful dremelling…

At first I thought the problem was with the well at the back beneath the takedown pin post.

Then I thought maybe it was the post itself.

Turns out the fit was completed by trimming down the mating face in front of the threading for the buffer tube.

Things were finished by two in the morning. The problem was that the shiny exposed metal made the clearances hard to determine (they reflected light through the crack). These things are supposed to be a close fit anyways. It was a shame to have sullied my fine black trousers, but I am glad to know that I didn’t screw things up. Even now the rear takedown pin needs some gentle hammering to get the upper and the lower together. Sure the exposed metal is ugly, but hopefully I will use the gun enough to make the whole thing ugly. Like all tools, guns cry when they lie unused.

Things are fully assembled now but I didn’t photograph all of the painstaking process. I’ll just show a photo of some of the parts, in contrived juxtaposition with one of my textbooks.

Posted by: admiralfrum | February 9, 2010

Book Report: The Game

I just finished reading The Game by Neil Strauss. It was an interesting read and a real page turner, though it could be very crass at times. It is a true story about a subculture devoted to picking up women.
At first it was intriguing because of the premise it offered, that women could be gamed, their emotions expertly manipulated by anyone willing to spend the time to learn the necessary skills. However as the book wore on the players displayed an incredible amount of narcissism, their thin bravado matched only by their insecurity.
The strategies described in the book rely on creating the impression of confidence and security without directly addressing the underlying personality problems of the ‘pick up artists’. However the book was still refreshing because showed how social skills are just that – skills that can be learned and taught. In particular it reminded me of the importance of confidence in human interactions, in being “comfortable in one’s own skin”. I am usually self-aware when I’m uncomfortable, I won’t maintain eye contact or I’ll fidget. Such things radiate insecurity, but I never knew how to address them. Knowing that learning social skills can help one cope and eventually overcome this was refreshing.
Another helpful point the book stressed was that playing too strongly to women can read as neediness (because it is). If a man falls over himself speaking to a girl trying to ‘win her over’, why should she be interested? There is a law of attraction – just as men are attracted to women, so too are women attracted to men. We may be nervous talking to them, but they are probably nervous as well; there’s no reason to be intimidated.
From time to time I like to chat with fein yiddishe meidlech. I am sometimes nervous, especially around the extra-fein ones, but since reading the book I notice that they are often nervous or awkward when speaking to me. I realize that the attraction is mutual, and my confidence improves because I don’t have to throw myself at them. Instead I can ease back and play the old fashioned ‘hot-and-cold’. With a more interactive dialogue I am better at reading their ‘IOIs’, so-called Indicators of Interest.
Another interesting point in the book was describing the ‘AMOG’, the Alpha Male of the Group. The archetypical male, who projects confidence and control in any situation. I’m familiar with the type, but the book postulates that the primary trait of the amog is the use of a large smile. I never thought about it before but I realize that it is profoundly true, the best master of a situation has a big smile that can disarm weaker personalities. When someone has a big smile they become the center of attention in a room, everyone wonders “what is so special about that guy?”. That’s not to say that one needs to have a dopey grin permanently plastered on one’s face. But a smile is a weapon, don’t forget that in mammalian species it is usually a sign of aggression.
I remember going to public school in England, teachers would often reprimand students for smiling too much. Just British conformism I guess, tall poppy syndrome in action. The teachers weren’t in control of the situation, so they try to maintain control by pushing down the students, not by leading.

At any rate it was a good read and I’m now looking for something more to develop my playa-lifestyle. I just started How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes and it seems to be just the thing.

Posted by: admiralfrum | January 17, 2010

The Game Plan

School just started now, and to be frank I’m a little burned out. Last semester (and the summer before it and the semester before…) was a long hard slog, and now I want to end things with a bang. Other than my senior project, I’m trying to pack the semester with gut classes. Nothing but easy living from now on. I didn’t get into the autism seminar and my yiddish professor isn’t feeling well enough to teach, so now it will be nothing but 600-student cakewalks full of athletes.
Here’s what I want to do every day:

  • Wake up before dawn
  • Learn Chassidus
  • Daven well
  • Eat breakfast with a tall glass of scotch and a big cigar
  • Sleep until classtime
  • Ride my bike around town
  • Take another nap
  • Read with a cigar (I’m thinking of starting Pride and Prejudice)
  • Go shooting (we’re starting up the rifle team again here)
  • Smoke and drink some more
  • Give some speeches and hang out with friends
There doesn’t seem to be enough time to fit it all in so I think I might have to do only one each day. A day of learning, a day of davening, a day of drinking, a day of sleeping, a day of reading, a day of biking, and a day of shooting. There you have it – a complete week! I’m going to go on vacation after graduation (iy”h), so there’ll be plenty of time for that then. I just feel that with all the pressure I’ve kind of lost touch with myself, that I no longer feel bien dans ma peau. At any rate, a healthy dose of nothing ought to take care of that. It’s gonna be good :-)
Posted by: admiralfrum | January 17, 2010

Retrospective on Winter’s Summer

Well, at long last I’m back in school. Winter break was nice, I went to Australia to chap two summers in one year. The long and short of it – there I met some fine yiddishe maidels (including my grandmother, auntie, and cousin) and had a nice time out on the town. I learned a lot about myself but not everything worked out – if you catch my drift. A little disappointing, but the trip was still worth it. I wrote a good 30 pages of thoughts in my diary, so hopefully some of that content will drift its way over here.

Shout outs to MORDECHAI, who got engaged last week and whose lechaim I missed because my damn phone wasn’t working. Mazel Tov!

Posted by: admiralfrum | December 16, 2009

Women and Narcissism

Disclaimer – it has come to my attention that some of the material contained below might be wrong. I’m just a pisher who doesn’t really understand anything. So if you have any insights, please drop a line in the comments.

I’ve heard it said for sometime that there is a difference between male and female attraction. Men are attracted to women for simple reasons – they like a face or a smile. Women however are attracted to being wanted – seeing that another person loves them and needs them.
In The Garden of Peace R’ Shalom Arush writes that the foundation for a healthy marriage is making your wife feel she is number one in your life. It struck me as strange – what’s with the narcissism? I don’t feel I’d need to be #1 in my wife’s life.
I recently read a NYT article entitled ‘What Do Women Want?’ – I won’t link to it because it is very inappropriate. What it said there was that men are categorically attracted to things, in an almost binary way. Women have a so-called “rudderless” system of attraction – one that responds to a wide variety of phenomena, but in a way that is ‘receptive rather than aggressive’. The primary need is to be wanted, not to want. ‘“Really,” she said, “women’s desire is not relational, it’s narcissistic” — it is dominated by the yearnings of “self-love,” by the wish to be the object of erotic admiration and sexual need.”‘
Now, you may ask, what is the Admiral doing writing such filth and shmutz? Has he no shame? On the Internet, of all places!
Well you see, I thought I’d mention this because it teaches us about chassidus. Even though sfiras hamalchus accomplishes so much, she can’t stand to be alone because she feels poor – “Leis lei l’garmei klum”.
However at a much deeper level, malchus is aware that she is rooted far higher than zeir anpin in sfiras hakesser (eishes chaiyil ateres baaloh), and thus deserves to be placed higher than him. This is similar to how us human beings feel that the gashmius is ikker and ruchnius is tfeilah. Really the ruchnius should be ikker and the gashmius tfeilah, but at a deeper level gashmius comes from atzmus while ruchnius is giluyim. So our hergesh is completely justified.
Happy Chanukah everyone.
Posted by: admiralfrum | November 27, 2009

Absinthe + Dremel = Cutting Glass

mmmmm.... Delicious.

Those of you who know me may be aware that I made Absinthe a while back. Yes, it’s the real kind and no, there’s nothing psychoactive or special about it.

When I started I wanted a drip fountain for it, but everything out there was too large, too precocious, or too expensive. For someone like me (alone drinker) a small one made sense, such as the kind made by the folks at infused-vodka.com. But even these were too expensive and bulky, and don’t fit the light-travelling low-spending philosophy of a bochur like me.

I bought a little brass spigot from aftosa.com (~$10) and installed it on a plastic seltzer bottle, but it didn’t feel classy enough. Incidentally the tap had the stupid Prop 65 sticker  – contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer. As long as I’m outside of California I figure I’ll be safe.

This past week I bought a Dremel, and a tungsten carbide cutter to go with it. Although diamond wheels are better for glass, WC still holds its own. I can finally make a decent fountain. I started drilling – it takes forever and is really noisy. I didn’t want to crack the glass, and I hope I don’t get silicosis. Pics will follow when complete. It felt great to be able to make work on it after a year of lacking the means.

Next up for the dremel is a pesky trigger lock that has broken on one of the $3,000 target rifles for the rifle team. I hate trigger locks. The key fits but the mechanism is jammed. The gun is a gorgeous Walther, unused since ROTC was banned from campus in 1969. My current team rifle has a very heavy trigger spring, and is a little on the heavy side.

If I feel really dangerous, I might even try this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IErdY8GVaMw

[EDIT: Completed fountain visible here]

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