wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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We get signal...but cannot process

This post on illegible words by Ann Althouse reminded me of some conversations I'd had from time to time with people who had done Morse intercept work (Army MOS 05H, later 98H) and after a while wound up hearing random bits of code all around them. Most Morse code transmission takes place in the HF radio band, which is just full of static and random noise anyway (as you can tell from listening to an old AM radio, especially at night) and the ditty-boppers got used to straining meaningful code out of the roaring stream of noise flooding through their headsets. So it wasn't too surprising that every so often they'd hear things in the background noise of daily life and be driven a little crazy by not being able to get the whole message, just the random code groups produced by the noise.

On a related topic, jamestrainor and I were talking this weekend about WordFind puzzles and how you could occasionally find words in the matrix that weren't in the list of words you were supposed to be looking for. I've never been able to do well at that kind of puzzle, mainly because I got used to trying to dig data out of matrices in accordance with the way the Soviets encoded the data and got confused when the words went in straight lines instead.
Tags: back in the day, linkagery
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