Here's something very, very fun: a brand new Welcome To Weirdsville piece I wrote on the infamous "Project Acoustic Kitty" just went up on the delightful Aussie Cud site.
Here's a tease:
"Good morning, Mister Phelps. Your mission, if you decide to
accept it, is to read the following without either shaking your head in
absolute wonder or collapsing to the floor in hysterics. As always,
should you or any of your IM force be caught or killed, the Secretary
will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck, Jim. This tape
will self-destruct in five seconds..."
I mean, come on: it's bad enough that fun and weird history
writers like myself can't just relax when people bring up ghosts or
UFOs, ridiculous, conspiracy theories, or astrology without collapsing
into hysterical giggles, gasping for air trying to get out, "You think
that's strange? Wait until you hear this--" without that same bizarre
universe throwing out yet another example of how truly, honestly, and
totally surreal the planet really can be.
Okay, to be honest, the 1960s were a total benchmark for the odd ... especially in the world of already-far-too-odd
world of espionage. It was, after all, when the CIA was drawing up
plans to make Fidel Castro's beard fall out with hormone-tainted cigars
or blow him up with booby-trapped seashells as they were dosing
unsuspecting US citizens with acid – while on the other side of the
world their opposite numbers were killing people with poisoned umbrellas
and (by plan or their own stupidity) convincing the US that psychic
remote viewing actually worked.
It should come as no surprise then that somewhere in this fuming
cauldron of bizarre, someone, somewhere in Langley – the Directorate of
Science And Technology to be precise – began to dream of a totally new
information gathering technique.
What put this technique into the surreal, if not utterly insane,
column were the recruits for this project. To be fair, animals had been
used quite successfully by covert, as well as overt, operations for
hundreds of years: horses have been used in combat since human beings
first climbed on the back of one, birds – carrier pigeons to be precise –
have been used for a very long time to get information from remote
locations back to base, dogs have been trained for both combat as well
as stealth assassinations, and -- adding to the crazy of the crazy the
1960s – trained dolphins were first imagined as Flipper with a suicide