The Wandering Soul - A Chilling Psychological Operation Conducted During the Vietnam War.

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“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” - Sun Tzu, The Art of War. 

Psychological warfare has been a mainstay in humanity’s eldest pastime over the millennia.  The Vietnam War, a particularly bloody affair, was without exception.  While both sides conducted their own forms, the US Military’s PSYOPS division executed a particularly interesting (albeit haunting) tactic.  

In Vietnamese culture, there is a strongly held belief that the dead must be buried in their homeland.  The feeling being that if one is improperly buried then their soul will wander in pain and aimless isolation; constantly hungry and listless.  So during the war the US military employed engineers to spend weeks recording what are some pretty terrifying sounds - intended to imitate the cries of all the dead who never had proper burial during combat.  These audio clips, known as “Ghost Tape Number 10” were beamed from helicopters or speaker backpacks hidden in the jungle.  In several accounts the recordings actually worked, at times sparking superstitious Vietnamese soldiers to make rash decisions such as firing their weapons in rage or flee positions in fear; revealing their covert posts.  Even after eventually learning they were hearing a recording from the enemy - the damage had been done for many Vietnamese soldiers, the thought seeded that death on the battlefield would mean an afterlife of endless wandering.

While the “Wandering Soul” operation has no hard data to support the scope of its’ effectiveness - it demonstrates the troublingly ghoulish tactics man will employ in war.  The actual recording itself and a wealth of additional information (including personal accounts) can be found here.

- Esotericana contributor Sam Wegman is a musician and writer from Portland, Oregon.

Did Japanese Supercult Aum Shinrikyo detonate an atomic bomb at their research facility in the Australian Outback?

Shoko Asahara, figurehead of the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult, ordered (amongst other acts of terror) the release of Sarin, a nerve toxin, into a public subway killing 12 and hurting thousands in an attempt to usher in the apocalypse.

On the night of May 28th, deep in the dark still of the Australian outback, a blast of several megatons fractured the calm of the desert and blasted shock waves outward across hundreds of miles of red land. Long-distance truck drivers traversing the region, as well as gold prospectors at a nearby camp saw the dark star-filled sky illuminated by numerous bright flashes, and many reported hearing a distant rumble of loud explosions. One nearby camp reported the blast knocking beer cans off a table.

The incident might have been lost to history if it wasn’t for the interest of investigators from the United States and Australian governments who eventually came to wonder if the blast was the work of the Japanese doomsday cult accused of the poison-gas attack on Tokyo subways in 1995 that killed 12 people and hurt thousands.

The fear was that the group had acquired nuclear arms or other weapons of mass destruction and had been testing them that night in the Australian wilds.

The Aum Shinrikyo, or Supreme Truth had at this point were reported to have accumulated some $1 billion and to have won more than 50,000 converts in at least six countries. They also happened to own a 500,000 acre plot of land near the reported blast zone. The location is where they had apparently perfected their sarin gas deployment in preparation for the grisly 1995 attack, as evidence showed that they practiced their nerve gas on sheep at the compound. 

Signs pointing toward Banjawarn Station, once owned by the Aum Shinrikyo.

Seismic observatories in Australia tracked the reported 1993 explosions to a location 28.47 degrees south latitude, 121.73 degrees east longitude, a remote area near the cult's ranch.

Once investigation into the group began after the subway attack, a little less than two years after the mysterious explosion, authorities seized the land. Investigators found research facilities, computers, chemicals, gas masks, and curiously; a large cache of mining equipment used to extract material from a known uranium deposit on the site.

A US Senate-ordered investigation revealed the cult had recruited at least two nuclear scientists in Russia in the early nineties.

Notebooks seized from the location showed the group wanted to procure the “ultimate munition”. In one entry believed to be scribbled by the head of the scientific wing of the group asked, “How much is a nuclear warhead?”, and listed several prices.


Documents seized from the location include some 10 pages apparently written prior to acquisition of the location that refer to the whereabouts of Australian properties rich in uranium, including one reference praising the high quality of the ore.

Investigators noted that earthquakes were very rare in the region and that mining explosions were illegal at night. “I currently believe that a nuke is a very real possibility but a meteorite and an earthquake cannot be ruled out either,” a lead investigator wrote.

Subsequent reports detailed that the blast was 170 times larger than the largest mining explosion ever recorded in the Australian region, helping rule out the possibility.

The US is still researching the possibility of an atomic bomb, and there is some evidence the group was looking into a Nikola Tesla-esque earthquake machine.

Rare Footage Inside Hong Kong's Infamous Kowloon Walled City

You've probably heard of Hong Kong's fabled Kowloon Walled City, the massive, densely-populated ramshackle metropolis run by the Triads that once stood on the outside of HK city-limits. 

While the largely ungoverned city-scape has been subject of many books and photo-essays, video footage within the complex is rare. Before it was eventually demolished in 1994, the city housed some 50,000 residents. The average rent was $35 HK per month for a room. 

Check out the rare glimpse of day-to-day life within the walled city below. 

Elderly Colorado Woman Intercepts Mysterious NORAD Nuclear Warning System Transmission Through Her Home Telephone

Back in January, a bizarre recording of an apparent nuclear early-warning-system transmission was posted on reddit by a user who claims the broadcast was intercepted by his elderly mother on her home phone in Greeley, Colorado. 

Did a Cold-War-Era nuclear defense warning system get its wires crossed? Or is this an elaborate hoax?

After receiving a frantic phone call from his mother regarding a spooky message blaring through her home phone, the original poster visited his aging mother to make sure everything was okay.

Upon arriving, he soon discovered that the message was real. 

Over the next few days I figured out that the message only came between 7 PM to 7:15 PM. Any other time of day, there was a normal dial tone and the phone worked normally. The phone didn't ring at 7 PM or anything - it was just that if you lifted the receiver to make a call between 7 to 7:15 PM you'd get the sinister message rather than the dial tone. If it was before 7:15 PM, and you hung up the phone and then lifted the receiver again, the message would play again from the start. If you hung up and then immediately (as in, within a fraction of a second) lifted the receiver again the line would appear to be dead until 7:15. 

Listen to the recording made by the original poster below. 

NORAD's closest operations are roughly 2 hours away in Colorado springs; the BMEWS Central Computer and Display Facility and notorious Cheyenne Mountain Bunker Complex, a military safe-house installation capable of withstanding a 30 megaton nuclear blast, originally made famous by inspiring the command center in "Dr. Strangelove"

Cutaway of the military's nuclear safe-zone some two hours from where the message was heard. 

A number of redditors have analyzed the audio of the transmission, and found that the frequency range of the male and female voices exceed the allowable frequency over normal telephone lines. This indicates that this message was delivered by a non-standard telephonic system.

Additionally, the tones dialed at the beginning of the missive are non-DTMF (yet were decoded to dial the number 49872250), and therefore wouldn't be able to dial over a standard POTS telephone. This either indicates the transmission system is a proprietary military set up (possibly set up to continue functioning after a nuclear incident that would disable standard telephone systems), and the message was received by an unwitting recipient, or the recording was falsified. 

If it's a hoax, it's a pretty awesome one. What do you think? Comment below!

Curse of the Baby Japanese Kleenex Ogre

Quite possibly the creepiest commercial ever committed to tape has become the subject of an awesomely executed hoax this week.

Soon after the spot first aired in the mid 1980s, rumors began to spread that each crew member involved in the commercial's production had fallen ill or suddenly died under mysterious circumstances.

Stories circulated that the toddler actor who played the ogre died a week after filming, and that the beautiful actress died several months later from complications due to pregnancy with a demon baby. 

As the urban legend took shape, it was said that those unfortunate enough to catch the spot when it aired late at night would hear the celestial soprano voice transform to a menacing rasp and curse the viewer to insanity and eventual suicide.

Earlier this week, a video was posted to YouTube purportedly capturing the commercial's transformation at the stroke of midnight. After watching the original video at 11:59, the video shows an unidentified person play the exact same video at midnight, this time the footage data-moshing itself to creepy oblivion; eventually giving way to a pair of looming eyes piercing through the television.

Take a look at the original, and the version capturing the alleged curse in action:

The Great Max Headroom Signal Intrusion of 1987

On the evening of November 22, 1987, Chicagoland residents catching the sports highlights on WGN's Nine O'Clock News or watching the new episode Dr. Who on WTTW witnessed one of the greatest hacks of all time, known today as The Great Max Headroom Signal Intrusion.

HE'S A FREAKIN' NERD!!

HE'S A FREAKIN' NERD!!

During the Chicago Bears game highlights, WGN's signal, transmitted from atop the 100-story John Hancock Center from the Magnificent Mile was hijacked. For 30 seconds, all audio was cut except for a distorted buzzing sound, while an ominous figure in a Max Headroom mask flickered and glowed into hundreds of thousands of living rooms. The hijack was stopped after WGN engineers switched the frequency of their studio link. 

"Well, if you're wondering what happened, so am I.", quipped a befuddled Dan Roan, sports anchor of the hijacked broadcast after engineers regained control of the station

At 11:15 later that night, viewers of PBS affiliate WTTW's broadcast of Dr. Who were subjected to the same ominous figure, this time with audio. For a minute and a half, the figure moved about the screen, uttering strange things and waving around a rubber hand until bending over and being smacked in the ass with a fly-swatter.

The audio is hard to make out over the modulation, but this is generally what Max had to say to the world:

"He's a freaking nerd!"
"This guy's better than Chuck Swirsky. Yeah, I think I'm better then Chuck Swirsky (WGN-TV play-by-play comentator for the Bulls at the time)
"Oh Jesus!"
"Catch the wave." 
"Your love is fading." (hums the theme song to the 1959 TV series "Clutch Cargo")
"I still see the X! I stole CBS! I stole some DX!"
" (unintelligible) Oh, I just made a giant masterpiece printed all over the greatest world newspaper nerds."
"My brother is wearing the other one."
"It's dirty."
"They're coming to get me!"

You can watch the entire thing, remastered with higher quality audio below:

To this day, nobody knows who perpetrated the signal intrusion.

"On the Writing of The Insane" (1870)

The seemingly inexhaustible resource of amazing public domain literature at Open Library provides us with today's entry: "On The Writing of the Insane" by George Mackenzie Bacon M.D. (1836-1883), the medical superintendent at an asylum near Cambridge, England.

Detail of writings from a patient at Fulbourn Hospital looks like the cover of the new FIDLAR record.

The modest, 94 page volume (24 of which are available below) details several cases of patients under Bacon's care at Fulbourn Hospital, where he worked from 1869 until his death in 1883.

Very little information is available about Bacon online, but he is credited for providing patients at the hospital a larger living space, and seemed to have a more progressive attitude toward mental healthcare than many at the time.

The most interesting and colorful illustrations come from a case of a patient committed to the asylum after "being nearly three years in a melancholy mood". The patient was eventually discharged, and kept correspondence with Bacon, who provides the following excerpt of a letter sent to him after a "medical man" tried to dissuade him from creating these illustrations:

To write or not to write, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to follow the visit of the great 'Fulbourn' with 'chronic melancholy' expressions of regret (withheld when he was here) that, as the Fates would have it, we were so little prepared to receive him, and to evince my humble desire to do hounour to his visit. My Fulbourn star, but an instant seen, like a meteor's flash, a blank when gone.

Diagrammatic studies from Kyle Field's psychic 19th century spiritual doppelganger.

The dust of ages covering my little sanctum parlour room, the available drapery to greet the Doctor, stowed away through the midst of the regenerating (water and scrubbing –cleanliness next to godliness, political and spritual) cleansing of a little world. The Great Physician walked, bedimmed by the 'dark ages,' the long passage of Western Enterprise, leading to the curvatures of rising Eastern morn. The rounded configuration of Lunar (tics) garden's (sic) lives an o'ershadowment on Britannias vortex," &c

Even in his letters to Bacon, the artist's vocabulary is heady; ripe with a sort of celestial torment. A number of years after the patient's discharge, Bacon goes on to explain that fellow "had some domestic troubles, which upset him a good deal" and came to a sad end by drowning himself. 

It's rare to see outsider art or documents of any kind so saturated with cosmic concern from the 1800's. Granted, the 1870's predated any European interest in art brut by at least 40 years, so such things were likely ignored, but this patient's work serves as an awesome early example of outsider art.

The illustrations, ripe with sacred geometry and proto-new-age vocabulary wouldn't look out of place in a contemporary art gallery today. The writings are something akin to the ramblings on the side of a Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap bottle. Flip through all of Bacon's "On the Writing of the Insane" below.