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• UNDERCURRENTS, the magazine of radical science and alternative technology [ISSN 0306 2392], was published from London, England, from 1973 to 1984 [No. 60]. This text version has been created in 2006-8 by me, Chris [Hutton-]Squire [a member of the now-dissolved Undercurrents Collective], by OCRing scanned images of a print copy; the text has been spell-checked but it has NOT been checked against the original. Health & Safety Warning: The practical, technical and scientific information herein [though believed to be accurate at the time of publication] may now be out of date. CAVEAT LECTOR! The many stories that Undercurrents told will interest students of a period that is both too distant and too recent to be adequately documented on the Web. The moral, philosophical, social, economic and political opinions herein remain, in my opinion, pertinent to the much more severe problems we now face. Readers who wish correspond on any matters arising are invited to contact me via: chris[at]cjsquire.plus.com This pdf version is formatted in 15 pt Optima throughout, so as to be easily readable on screen; it runs to 133 pages [the print versions were 48 - 56 pp.]: readers wishing to print it out to read are recommended to use the text version and to reformat it. The many pictures that embellished the print version are sadly not included here. There no restrictions on the use of this material but please credit individual authors where credit is due: they are mostly still with us. Page numbers below are for this pdf version. The beginning of each section or article is indicated thus:

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Contents [pages nos. for this version] Eddies: How Safe Are Our Air Lanes? Letters Dorrell Science Fiction Competition Control & Communication The Snoopers and the Peepers Confessions Of A Phone Phreak Above The City Streets People’s radio primer Macdonald Ham Radio and TV: The Big Switch·on is Beginning Murdock Cable TV What·s in it for the Media Moguls Harper AT in the shade: Scraping the Bottom of the Skeptic Tank Reviews Peoples News Service Behaviour Modification

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COPYRIGHT. All articles in Undercurrents are Copyright @ unless otherwise stated. But we will give permission freely to non·profit groups who wish to reproduce our material, without charge, provided they credit Undercurrents. CRASH, STOP PRESS: Irish TV ran a documentary on the Viscount crash on June 18, and Hibernia did a similar story on June 2J. Latest reports suggest that new·found wing is from a UK pilotless drone. It·s at times like These you regret that Undercurrents takes two weeks to print. SMALL ADS .... SMALL ADS .... SMALL ADS .... SMALL ADS .... SMALL It is Undercurrents policy not to carry display advertising, but we do accept Small Ads as a service to our readers. Small Ads cost I p per word, up to a maximum of 150 words (bigger ads may be acceptable in certain cases) and must be paid for in advance. Science for People. 9 Poland Street, London W1 V 3DG. 6 issues a year. 15p each or £1 annual subscription. Library subscriptions on application. Radical Science Journal The doddering academics answer to Undercurrents. Issue No 1: Management ·Science· Anthropology and Imperialism Technology and Ideology. 30p per issue, or annual sub £1.00 From 9 Poland Street, London W1.
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We are a group of vegetarians setting up a self·supporting open community. Committed members, families or singles, still welcome. Interested? Phone Malcolm Ot·886 0849. Goldseal is attempting to get a co·operative distribution network together to cover the whole of Britain. If it works it could carry anything like craftgoods, records, literature etc. Any papers, shops, info-points etc. AND ANYBODY WHO TRAVELS ANYWHERE REGULARLY please get in touch with us as soon as possible. To: Dave Howard (ADN), Goldseal, Box 7,3t Bounces Road, London N9 8JD. The new Lancaster Peace and Conflict Research Programme. Newsletter is now available at 60p from Peace and Conflict Research Programme, Department of Politics, University of Lancaster. The newsletter discusses the progress that has been made on the Chile community project and the network mentioned in Undercurrents 4. The newsletter describes the expedition to Aysen, the site, future stages of the project and the effect of the coup, it also covers the P & GA. Vancouver community and a section on alternative energy with special reference to British Columbia. The network concept is elaborated in theoretical and speculative terms. TSS· TOWARDS SURVIVAL SOCIETY: Resources/Environment/Population/ Sustainable Policies. The purpose of TSS is to create a small (though it is hoped, widely dispersed) movement from those conservationists/ environmentalists/survivalists who are deeply committed to peaceable change towards the sustainable society. It is envisaged that the early years will be devoted to preparation for a more overt role later. TSS will be suitable only for those who are prepared to attend ·and convene if necessary· local weekly meetings. The structure of TSS will be that of autonomous weekly meetings with a considerable interchange of visiting speakers and discussion·leaders. If you are interested write to me for fuller description: Keith Hudson, 79 Sutton Avenue, Eastern Green, Coventry CV57ER.

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Eddies: How Safe Are Our Air Lanes?
Long·standing suspicions that the Aer Lingus Viscount aircraft which crashed suddenly and mysteriously in the Irish Sea six years ago, killing all 61 people on board, may have been hit by a runaway British missile or pilotless aircraft were unexpectedly revived at the end of May when a trawler off Rosslare in County Wexford dredged up part of the wing of an aircraft with UK Military markings, only four miles from the spot where the iIl fated Viscount met its end. The accident happened on March 24,1968. Two years later, the Irish Department of Transport and Power issued a strangely·worded report on the affair which ended with the conclusion that there was ·not enough evidence available on which to reach a conclusion of reasonable probability as to the initial cause of the accident·. This rather lame verdict was preceded by 19 pages of detailed and much more suggestive analysis in which all the more usual causes of aircraft accidents were eliminated. Ultimately, in the view of the accident inspector, Mr RW O·Sullivan, the only hypothesis which·rationalises the otherwise inconsistent elements in the evidence· is that: .... while Viscount EI·ADM was in normal cruising flight at 17,000 ft and within six minutes of reaching Strumble Head (in Wales), another aircraft, which could have been a manned or unmanned aeroplane or missile, passed in close proximity, possibly even colliding with the tail of the Viscount, causing an upset which led to a manoeuvre which was either a spin or a spiral dive from which the Viscount was recovered in a disabled condition, to fly thereafter for approximately 10 minutes over the sea before control was finally lost·. Though convinced that ·e conclusion that there was another aircraft in the area is inescapable·, Mr O·Sullivan, like the good civil servant he undoubtedly is, felt obliged to take at face value British military assurances that no UK aircraft or missiles from the test ranges on the Welsh coast were involved in the incident. ·It is to be noted that the firing ranges in the UK were closed on Sunday, 24 March, 1968·, he states with barely·concealed sarcasm at the end of a paragraph in which he also points out that the evidence points to a directly·opposite conclusion. The latest official statements about the newly·discovered wing take great pains to emphasise that it can have no possible connection with the Aer lingus crash, and analyses are said to have shown that the wing has only
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been in the sea from about one year. This assessment contradicts the opinion of at least one eye·witness, James Maddock, a reporter from the Cork Examiner, who told Undercurrents that the wing, to judge from its barnacle encrustations, could well have been in the sea for five or six years. Its dimensions, he said, were 2% ft by 7 ft_ But there has been a deafening silence on questions, which if answered, would enable sceptics to judge for themselves·for instance what exactly was the type of aircraft to which the wing was originally attached, a question which could easily be answered by aviation experts_ Moreover, even if the wing does turn out to be unconnected with the Viscount crash, no explanation has been offered for the curious presence of British military debris so close to Irish shores. Do UK aircraft regularly fly, and occasionally come to grief, in Irish airspace? And so,Why? Even before the discovery of the wing, however, Roger Cox was investigating the mystery for Undercurrents. As his enquiries proceeded, he encountered at every tUrn evidence of a very keen interest in the story on the part of the major UK newspapers and Broadcasting networks-coupled, however, with an inexplicable reluctance to publish anything that might call into question the safety of airline flights passing close to Her Majesty·s missile test ranges. Could this uncharacteristic reticence be the result of a ·D·Notice· issued at the request of the Ministry of Defence? Is the affair yet another manifestation of the rising tide of censorship? Draw your own conclusions AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT Report No 6* carried out by the Irish Department of Transport and Power with considerable help from the UK government, sets out to discover the reason why Aer Lingus flight 712, a Viscount 803 aircraft en route from Cork to London in good weather conditions. should suddenly plummet from 17,000 ft and eventually crash into the Irish Sea near Tuskar Rock. County Wexford, with the loss of all 61 people on board. The 20·page document discusses all previous known accidents to Viscount airliners, to determine the possibility of similarity. Electrical failure, adverse weather conditions. pilot incapacitation, structural failure, collision with a light aircraft, and bird strike are all found to be so unlikely as to be discounted.
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Similarly, from evidence obtained from the wreckage and through autopsies on the fourteen bodies recovered, fire and explosion do not seem to have been contributory causes. (In a Times story, written on March 25 when some of the bodies were recovered. it was stated that the bodies showed signs of an explOSion. But the Report gives a number of reasons to account for this apparent contradiction). An analysis of the aircraft·s maintenance log revealed nothing adverse: a faulty autopilot pitch datum motor and an incorrectly fitted spring torque tube in the rudder assembly were later shown to be capable of having lillIe overall effect on the aircraft·s controlla·bility. In summing up. the Report states its findings under twelve headings, amongst which the major conclusion are that: ·. "the flight proceeded normally until 33 seconds after acknowledging an instruction from Shannon to change radio frequency to that of London Airways. ¥ "A signal was intercepted by London Radar at 10.58.02 GMT reading ·Echo India Alpha Oscar Mike with you·, Eight seconds later, another signal was intercepted, readá R..TH_ ing ·Twelve thousand feet descending spinning rapidly·. No further communications " · _ laND were received from the air· FISHGUARD:",,· · ·. craft. · ...:·:. · _ ¥ "The aircraft went into PEMBROkE. · · ·:. the sea at between I 1.10 and ·8lft"·DY 11.15 GMT on a steep flight path with low forward speed (less than 130 knots). ¥" For a reason that cannot be determined .. the aircraft went into a steep spin or spiral dive at 17.000 ft. from which a recovery appears to have been effected at some height lower than 12,000 ft. The recovery procedure could not have been achieved without causing some structural deformation, most probably in the tailplanes and elevators, causing some impairment of controllability in the fore and aft plane.
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¥ "The aircraft flew over the sea for a period in a disabled condition for a period of at least ten minutes. ¥ "TIle aircraft was substantially intact when it entered the sea. There is evidence .. of the possible presence of another aircraft or airborne object in the vicinity. : It is this final paragraph which is the most important. Because of the position of the incident (not to he confused with the position of the final crash. which occurred in the sea some I a minutes later) midway between Greenore Point in Ireland and Strumble Head (a radio beacon point) in Wales, there was strong speculation at the time in the National newspapers that the Viscount could have encountered a missile fired from one of the numerous Welsh testing ranges·the most likely candidate being the range run by the MoD at Aberporth. Such suggestions. obviously, were strongly denied by the Ministry of Defence, who claimed that their ranges were inoperative on the Sunday in question. However, despite MoD statements to the contrary there have been suggestions that some activity was taking place on the missile ranges that day. The finger of suspicion has been pointed at the S(Seaslug II missile. which has encountered some problems with its guidance system. and at the Jindivik pilotless ·drone· aircraft. And it has been reported that the Seaslug and Jindivik have. despite the provision of destruct mechanisms, sometimes ended up running away and landing on Welsh roads and fields. The Report itself spends almost :!·h pages discussing the possibility of a collision with an unknown aircraft or missile. Out of a total of eight witnesses who actually saw an aircraft within the time when the accident was thought to have happened, two positively saw the Viscount crash into the sea, but the remaining six saw an aircraft which, because of the time and their position (at Fellhard on Sea, 28 miles West of where the Viscount crashed) could not have been the Aer Lingus flight. The aircraft seen by one of these witnesses was described as ·having wing and toil brightly coloured .. as if on fire·a description that would fit RAF planes and target drones which are so painted for easy identification but
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not the green and white of Aer Lingus livery. Another witness to the aircraft over Fethard·on·Sea described it as "coming out of three small black clouds,·with a sudden sharp turn· as if fired from the clouds .... while another said that the nose and a portion of the wing were ·enveloped in a small. dark cloud. which travelled along with the aeroplane. ·swirling ... All the witnesses agree that the mystery aeroplane was seen heading off in a SouthEasterly direction towards the Saltee islands. "These accounts". says the Report. "could be satisfactorily explained by a supersonic aircraft coming out of a dive, causing a boom and the small clouds, and then flying past witness No 2 with the wing covered in condensation cloud typical of near·sonic speed in humid air·: To back up this suggestion, the Report quotes two other witnesses. One observer saw a ·large splash· in the area of the Saltee Islands (20 miles from the Viscount·s final impact point and in a direct line with the mystery aircraft·s reported South Easterly heading) at about noon local lime (II GMT) which is within the known time span of the hypothetical collision·and crash. Later that afternoon, another witness saw an object floating in the sea in the same location. "This evidence" in the Report·s words, "would not be inconsistent with the supposition that on unmanned aircraft had fallen in the sea. and remained afloat for some hours". If the mystery aircraft were indeed a pilotless drone. it would explain the fact that no aircraft apart from the Viscount was report· ed missing·a missing aircraft becomes much easier to con·ceal if there is no pilot. There appear to be two possible alternatives. The first is that the aircraft seen over Felthard·on·Sea had already hit the Viscount. & was itself in difficulties·which would account for the wings and tail being ·on fire·, and for the ·sudden, sharp turn out of the clouds: which could have been a last attempt to regain radio control of the plane. The aircraft could have been above cloud level before it reached Fethard, which would account for the fact that no other observers seem to have seen it previously. It then disappeared in a South Easterly direction and crashed into the sea off the
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Saltee Islands. A second explanation is that the aircraft seen over Fethard was out of control but had not yet hit the Viscount. It disappeared in a SE direction. a course which would have taken it on a line parallel to that of the Viscount as inflated liferaft on board one of the searching life· boats. A more convincing, if speculative, explanation is that the Mayday signals came from the life raft of the pilot of the ·mystery aircraft·, who could later have been picked up alive by one of the flotilla· of RN vessels in the. vicinity. Another strange feature is that, as the Report puts it, "there is no report of (the aircraft) having been observ·ed by any radar station". One would have thought that the Royal Naval Air Station at Brawdy, near Fishguard, would have had a radar set capable of detecting an aircraft at 17,000 ft altitude, only 20 miles out across the Irish Sea where the accident first happened. Indeed. one fears for the safety of Naval it proceeded in its normal flight path between Tuskar and Strumble, at a speed at least twice as great as that of the Viscount. Another attempt to regain control of the drone, perhaps to try to bring it back within the Aberporth range, to the north, could have taken it right across the Viscount·s path, with disastrous consequences. Whatever was the actual sequence of events, however, it is curious that according to the Times report (25 March 1968) "Within minutes (of the accident) the first RAF and Naval aircraft were ·scrambled· to start the search", that "a flotilla of Naval vessels changed course for the designated search area", and that "no less than four British helicopters took off·, The hypothetical ·mystery aircraft· may even have had a pilot after all. After the crash, a series of faint ·Mayday· calls were picked up by rescuers, and at first attributed to automatic distress equipment on the Viscount·s life rafts. But no such rafts were ever found, and the Mayday calls were later attributed, unconvincingly, to an accidentally· text missing
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airmen if Brawdy does not have such a radar. And if nobody was watching the screens at Brawdy, or anywhere else, at the time, why was no·one watching? Are we not supposed to have a sophisticated air defence system? Suspicions of a ·cover·up· arc increased by the fact that major British national newspapers, including the Daily Mail, the Daily Express and the Sunday Express, have initially shown keen enthusiasm for the "story , and then spiked it. Granada TV·s renowned World in Action team is also known to have made a film about the affair which its producer is said to have described as his ·best yet·. Yet the Granada film is still in the can. The safety of Britain·s missile test ranges is obviously a sensitive subject. Could the additional curious fact that such ranges are always closed down if an aircraft of the Queen·s Flight is in the vicinity indicate that they are by no means as safe as the British public has been led to believe? ¥ Available from the Government Publications Sale Office, GPO Arcade, [Dublin I. Price lOp. FRIGGlN·ON THE RIGS · Continental Capers WHAT IS, and is not, a Continent?·that·s a question which much preoccupies the mandarins of the Department of Energy these days. Continents, a· many will no doubt be aware,have shelves,and continental shelves, as even the most ignorant must know by now, are simply crammed with oil fields. The first candidates for continenthood to be proposed by the geographical whizzkids at the Department were those well known land·masses Jersey and Guernsey. A median line was then drawn down the Channel which neatly bisected the narrow straits between the islands and the French mainland and gave over 80% of the prime Channel acreage to the jolly old UK. The Frogs, for reasons not entirely obscure, were not wearing this eminently
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reasonable try·on by HMG and when news of their protest reached the Foreign Office those guardians of the Munich spirit threw up their Eurohands in horror and sounded the retreat. Current maps show the median line going straight as a die down the middle of the English Channel (La Manche) entirely foresaking the Channel Islands. Undeterred,the bowler hat brigade have come up with yet another continent, this time Rockall, an entirely unlovely lump of rock stuck three hundred miles out into the Atlantic. This just happens to be sitting on some very promising structures and rumour (very strong) has it that the British Government will license blocks in the area for major seismic work some time within the next two years. Only snag is here that the Irish also lay claim to the place, a claim based on a supposed visit by St Brendan about 1200 years ago and the undeniable fact that parts of the Emerald Isle are nearer Rockall than anywhere in the UK. The French have also put in a bid but are not regarded entirely seriously by the two front runners. The British did take the precaution a couple of years ago of incorporating Rockall into the county of Inverness which may or may not be a smart move depending on which way the Scots Nats jump·but the issue is a long way from being resolved. Expect an IRA campaign on Rockall oil for the Irish. Also on the Irish question, the last remaining reason for staying in Ulster, as a few of the smarter ministry boys are beginning to realize,is that areas of the continental shelf like the north Celtic Sea and North from the coast of Derry and Antrim, which arc at the moment unequivocally British, will not be if the status of Northern Ireland were changed. There could be some pretty furious backpedalling when Harold and his crew realise the consequences of their ·For God·s sake let·s wash our
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hands of the Prods·, policy. Yet another snippet on Ireland. Marathon oil, now negotiating with the Irish government to build a fertiliser factory, are claiming that their strike in block 49/29·1 south east of Cork (see UC6) is ·comparatively small·. Don·t believe it Liam! That strike is the biggest thing to hit Ireland since St Patrick. A word of commiseration with the Sunday Express. Not content with claiming a major strike by Br in the Celtic sea before the drill had been·spudded·, they interpreted the report 0f a helicopter pilot who had seen a flare on a Shell rig to mean that the company had made the first strike west of the Shetlands. It turned out that they were only burning off excess diesel oil. It could happen to the best of us. Nuts screw washers and bolts Meetings about ·alternative technology· don·t have to be airy·fairy, abstract, cerebral affairs. Peter Harper recently attended an A T get·together where the participants actually took their coats off ..... A FORMIDABLE LOOKING agenda and a windswept farm in the hills north of Rochdale: another of those meetings, I thought. What·s it about? ·Alternative Technology·haven't I heard that somewhere before? And the suggestion ·maybe we should do some practical things as well .. We always say chat,and nothing ever gets done. But this one turned out differently. Hardly a word was said: people were too busy making things! Naturally the projects were restricted to a token scale, but there was an abundance of scrap metal (bike parts, etc) and odd tools and materials. and it became an intrigUing exercise in Making Do. A small Savonius rotor was made out of wire and 7·pint beer cans·easy enough I suppose. More ambitious in the wind line was a variant of the bicycle dynohub trickle charger described in UC5. This was constructed in about 3 hours, without welding, and produced a
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few hundred milliamps at about 10 volts in a fair breeze·enough to trickle charge a small battery. An amazing Heath Robinson solar collector was made out of a door, some glazed window frames and a lot of pitch. The water had to be cycled by hand, and it did perceptibly warm up in poor conditions of almost no direct sunshine. An attempt to construct a more efficient thermosiphon collector foundered on lack of solder. Some participants tried to seal the septic tank to see whether (eventualIy) it might produce something combustible, while others dammed the nearby stream and installed a waterwheel made principally of pram wheels. Perhaps the most effective and simple project was the ·earth oven·. To make an earth oven, a pit is dug and filled with wood and stones (in our case broken firebricks). The wood is ignited and allowed to bum through. The stones absorb heat and fall to the bottom of the pit. The fire is then lightly doused with water and the stones covered with a layer of earth. Broadleaved greenery is placed on top of the earth, and the raw food on top of this. Then more greenery and more earth. The food is steamed perfectly in a few hours and tastes great. This method requires no utensils and can be operated on any scale. The Maoris would use their ·breakfast· fire to steam their supper in such ·ovens· while they were out hunting and having fun. 1 suppose the improvisatory nature of the projects reflected the fact that the meeting was organised by people primarily interested in ·disaster technology· (floods, earthquakes, etc) and it seems there could be a lot of useful cross·fertilisation between this approach and more longterm approaches to ·alternative technology·. A similar meeting has been suggested for the autumn, perhaps in Sheffield where more sophisticated tools and equipment will be available. For further info, contact Diana Manning, Middlesex Polytechnic, Queensway, Enfield EN] ./SP Conferences THE SAINT CONFERENCE (Salzburg Assembly. Impact of the New Technology) is due to be herd 21·24 September at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria. The conference theme is Equilibrium
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Technology and for those who find themselVes puzzled by yet another term in the alternative glossary the conference will include a session on ·what is Equilibrium . Technology ·. For more details contact Paul Neville, 46 Grains Rd, Shaw, Oldham, Lanes, England. A ONE DAY conference on World Prospects for Solar Energy Utilisation organised by the UK section of the International Solar Energy Society will be held on 9th July. For further information contact Dr JC McVeigh, Brighton Polytechnic, Moulscomb, Brighton, Sussex, England, . A.T. GOES BOOM IN THESE ·gold·rush days· of Alternative Technology. new camps are springing up wherever there is land to mine for renewable energy. While some of the earliest projects lost their populations as the veins of enthusiasm, money and mortgages ran thin, a lot more new strikes are coming in to keep the ·boom· in AT going. One of the new (October 1973) camps is ours at Machynlleth, Wales which we have taken the extravagant liberty of calling ·The National Centre for the Development of Alternative Technology. We think there ought to be centres·call them "Citizens· Advice Bureaux for Technology" if you like· which would open up AT to a lot more people, and help to define the problems in development of renewable energy sources and other alternative technologies. The property is, we believe, large enough to handle the job of a ·National Centre· at least for the next few years. On the site there is adequate space for workshops, libraries and accommodation, as well as a wide variety of natural energy supplies, all set in a beautiful Welsh valley. The Centre is itself a mine, a slate quarry which closed in 1949. We heard of its existence from the Earth Workshop people and when we went to see it we knew it had just the combination of wind. water. sun, space and surroundings that we are after. These amenities, combined with an annual rent of Sp to the quarry·s pro·AT owner, amounted to an offer of generosity we couldn·t believe or refuse. And so the Centre was born. The job now is to begin developing.
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Fortunately, the site came equipped with all the essentials, including 6,000 square feet of ancestral slate cutting sheds, three cottages. two streams and reservoirs, · One of the derelict sheds which is being converted into a workshop at the National Centre. assorted tunnels, a bit of railway, and several thousand tons of slate of assorted sizes and shapes. So, this summer, we are trying to transform these resources into a habitable place. and to overlay the whole site with autonomous services. The summer community is already beginning to assemble, although there is a great deal more room for people who can help with the transformation. We have caravans on the site to live in and can provide food for anyone who can give us their time. Over the next four months the emphasis will be on conversion of the sheds into workshops, the installation of a hydro·electric scheme, a refit of the miners· cottages including a flat·plate collector and total energy package), installation and test of aerogenerators now being built, enlargement of the gardens, extension of the railway and a host of other projects. Much of this summer·s work will be retracing old steps. Notable exceptions, however, will include a thorough examination of solar collectors on slate roofs, the development of very low cost water turbines, a study of the use of rail ways to minimise the environmental impact of building sites. and the fabrication of a community·size methane digestor. If enough people come to help, and a little bit more in the way of materials can be found, the Centre should be ·operational· by Christmas offering good accommodation for as many as 12 full time people and as many as 30 visitors, along with a darn good workshop and comprehensive library. Meanwhile, there is a lot of work to be done. Will you join us? For a weekend. a week, or even to live as part of our community this summer. If you think you can, write: Steve Boulter, c/o School of Environmental Studies, University College, Gower St, London, we I. Tel 01·3877030 X650.
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A load of old hay .... , TABITHA·S FIRELESS COOKER is a trendy version of the old-fashioned hay·box, developed by food·technologist Tabitha Beazeley, NOD. The idea is that almost any dish which needs fairly lengthy cooking·like casseroles, curries and Christmas puddings·can be boiled gently for 5 to 25 minutes, quickly tucked into the cooker, and left, fully insulated. to cook for a few hours. or overnight, so that ·slow cooking takes place without the further USe of fuel", and without burning the food. All you need to provide is one double·handled metal pan with a lid, although the maximum size of hay allowed changes from 12 inches on one page of the instructions to 8Y.l inches on another. Tabitha·s main argument against hay·boxes is their bulk, in today·s cramped society, and the apparent lack of hay to make them with. She has come up with the idea of a cosy jacket made of some modern, nameless insulator. which wraps round your cooking pot. There are pillows for the base and a folding box of the same material tucks up around it. Marketed by Low Impact Technology for £14.40, excluding postage. Tabitha·s Fireless Cooker is a very expensive load of hay. STOP PRESS THE CENTRE CANNOT HOLD? As we go to the printers. it has been reported that Steve Boulter, Tony Williams and several other leading participants in the National Centre project have left. There appears to be some dispute about how the Centre should best fulfill its objective of the advancement of alternative technology. A new community has been formed, it seems .. We·ll have the full story in our next tissue ... OVER THE PAST five years, the Bath Arts Workshop has built up a community·based organisation engaged in many facets of activating the machinery of social organisation in the creative and recreational arts. Community Technology is a new·formed branch of the workshop, concentrating on planning and housing, and now concentrating on setting up an alternative means of producing houses in a low·capital operation. ·We are running an exhibition/get together of individuals and organisations connected with Community Technology in every field·from video and AT through to agriculture and medicine·, they say. It runs from August 29 to September I. If you would like to participate I)r .,.visit it.
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write for further details to:· Thornton Kay, Comtek ·74, 1a The Paragon, Bath. Somerset. Tel 5169 or63717. These fuelish things IN A RECENT article in Detroit alternative paper. The Fifth Estate. Daniel Tucker. an ex marine, revealed that while stationed in South East Asia he was ordered to destroy thousands of gallons of jet fuel a day. Tucker was stationed as a refueler at the Nan Phong Marine base in Thailand from May 1973 to August of the same year. At the direct order of his superior officers he was burning 30,000 gallons of jet fuel a day. His logbook recorded that this procedure had been in effect for 9 . months previously. According to Tucker, who W3. only recently released from active duty. his immediate superior, Lt Colonel JC Byram claimed that the fuel was contaminated, but ordered him to keep quiet about the disposal. "Hell, that fuel wasn·t contaminated", Tucker maintained, UIt came out of the batch that I used to refuel the aircraft on the base. I filtered it through the same 50 filters on my truck that all the other gas was run through". The jet fuel (which is more refined than petrol) was burned in the pit where all the camp·s garbage was disposed of. At a conservative estimate, Tucker suggests, 18 months of such fuel disposal would mean that 1.5 million gallons of jet fuel were destroyed at Nan Phong atone. Liberation News Service adds that "while it is not exactly clear who in the military benefited from the fuel burning, one thing:s for sure·Shell Oil sold a lot more fuel". Disaster switchboard MY METASYNERGISTIC friend Wes Thomas, whom the cosmos preserve, editor of Synergy Access, ·a Global Newsletter of Futuristic Communications Media & Networking· (see UC6) informs me of yet more activity in his sector of Spaceship Earth. Apparently an International Psychic Switchboard is to be set up which will ·/ink psychics and scientists via computer to forecast global catastrophes in real time. It could plug into data from psychics, premonition registries.
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world modelling systems. Centre for Short Lived Phenomena etc·. News also comes in SA of a Seminar on Survival which will discuss among other things ·co·operative consciousness and advanced genius production ·. YET ANOTHER legislative wolf dressed in the woolly ideas of its perpetrators is at present stalking the precincts of Westminster. The "Mines (Working facilities and Support) (Amendment) Bill", proposed by Martin McLaren (Conservative member for Bristol NW). proposes that anyone may search for or work, any of ten minerals (including oil shale) in any part of Britain and that the Government may overrule the owner of the land in question if his objections are ·unreasonable· or if the project is "expedient in the national interest·. The Bill, which has Government support according to Friends of the Earth, applies with equal force in National Parks as in the rest of Britain. POOR HOME OIL of Canada! They thought they had made a gigantic natural gas strike on land at Lockton in Yorkshire. They built, at enormous cost, a desulphurising plant to deal with the expected half·billion cubic feet a day. and then the gas ran out·after seven months. Geological fractures, they say ... Those of us who find a fIy in our bread can rest assured that science can now tell whether it has just crawled in or was there all the time. It appears that cooked enzymes are different from raw ... DoubleZinc? WANDERING THROUGH the corridors of the Central Electricity Generating Board headquarters the other day, one of our spies came across a survey that the Board has been undertaking for several years now. Apparently CEGB men are worried about the longevity of the protection afforded to their electricity pylons·the galvanised zinc from which they are made isn·t lasting the 20 years it was expected to. In fact, after only seven years in certain areas pylons have been known to rot right through. And though
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cheap minded environmentalists had been heard to mutter "and a good job too", the CEGB is more than a little concerned. To analyse the problem, the Board arranged that lots of small zinc cans be placed around the country, then weighed two years later to see how much they had corroded, In certain areas (around Liverpool and Doncaster for instance) nearly half the zinc had disappeared within two years. So extensive was the damage that it was quite an easy job for clever scientists to isolate some of the corrosion as being due to the abnormally high moisture in certain areas (for example, near the coast). This done, it was not difficult to correlate the rest of the corrosion with high smoke and sulphur dioxide levels in the atmosphere. It was then suggested that perhaps this faSCInating piece of research should be published. Papers have not, however, been forthcoming·a fact which has prompted some cynics to remark that the strange silence is because the results would reflect badly on the CEGB·s "high stack" policy, under which pollutants at power stations are dispersed from tall chimneys rather than controlled "at source". Undercurrents readers can, however, rest assured that this is not the reason why the results have been withheld. Reliable sources tell us that the CEGB is taking a ·responsible· position and is taking action without having to be spurred on by any prior adverse publicity. In future, pylons will be galvanised twice as.thick as previously, thus saving the CEGB the high labour costs of painting.

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Skinner Boxed Dear Undercurrents. What the FUCK are you doing printing material about a B.F. Skinnerite community? Have you read Walden Two? You surely must be familiar with the basic notions of SF Skinner, and their total contradiction of anything that you or I are into. Surely this isn·t Democratic Free Speech rearing its foolish head? Love, Nick c/o Public Library, 197 Kings Cross Road, Wet. Hot air? Dear Undercurrents Whilst I can·t write an SF story that you might like. I did once read one. It was in the SF magazine Analog·around 19661 (can·t be very precise as I used to borrow them from a friend who gave me several years· worth!. It was a short story centred on a generator that a farmer built which turned out to have numerous applications. It seemed plausible to me. The device was a ·chimney· made of t·NO concentric openended polythene cylinders (possibly welded together at intervals round the circumference to make ·flues·). Warm air from ground level rises through the space between the cylinders. so keeping the structure rigid (it also used guy. ropes and was brought to vertical initially by pumping air through. Air also rises through the centre, driving a fan and attached generator. The ·hero· of the story eventually built the things in the 100 it plus class and took one into the city to demonstrate it, whereupon the updraft drew in a lingering smog and dispersed it from ground level to somewhere higher up·thus alleviating the symptoms at least. Considering your article on SF in UC number 6. this story seemed to answer some of your criticisms of ·more entertainment than science·. If the thing isn·t common
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knowledge (I·ve never seen it mentioned elsewhere I. or impossible, it might make a good article if it could be tracked down in someone·s ·Analog· backnumbers$. Yours faithfully Nick Beale 18 Melville Road Have. Sussex. Dear Undercurrents, I enclose a couple of thoughts on the future of Undercurrents, which you may care to print as commentary upon yourselves as communications media. Incidentally, if you look at something like the distribution system of the Landsmen·s Library, or the magnificently amateur research network of Henry Doubleday, I think you have a much better paradigm for Undercurrents than the present rather unsatisfactory format and distribution. I would like to see you give more thought to your underground/overground position. Alternatologists may easily have t:become the victims of their own myth: the myth of the gentle conspiracy that cannot be gaoled, bugged or media·ized; The risk Undercurrents takes by entering the heavy media scene is that you slowly ·I and bug your$elf. George Woolston I Lauri Anttila, Vatakuja 3A Helsinki 20.

OOPS: Dear Undercurrents, It has been pointed out that my suggested method for bottling methane without a compressor (Undercurrents No 6 letter$1 will require a water head of several hundred feet. Sorry but for practical purposes a high pressure hydraulic pump, wind or pedal powered, would have to be incorporated between a much smaller reservoir and the drum. R Atkinson SHEP, 9 Slaithwaite Hall. Slaithwaite, Huddersfield, Yorkshire HD7 5XA. Home Truths Hello Undercurrents
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That man Harper has done it again, that is hit us with a powerfully·worded brew of home truths. There·s nothing like a session of cathartic self·exposure for clearing the air. But I must say that I thought Alan Emerson·s letter in the last issue of Undercurrents was, to use a wellworn expression, right on. Frankly, I warmly welcome the apparent mushrooming in the amount of people who are not only formulating theories but are also putting them into practice. The people I am worried about are certain national newspapers et al that personify the hideous practice of cooption·if you can·t beat them. co·opt ·em. I just hope that Undercurrents readers don·t get bogged down in a morass of theoretical bullshitting a la academics, and thus overlook the need to experiment in fact (and not just in theory I. The real reason for this missive is that I thought I would add, if permitted, three points to Peter·s revised AT Switchboard. Even though AT means different things to different people, I really would have thought that the Soil Association deserved a mention. Okay, so they are into garden shows and tea parties·cups ·and saucers· but their contribution has been significant. The address etc: The Soil Association, Walnut Tree Manor, Haughley, Stowmarket. Suffolk, IP14 3RS Tel Haughley 235/236. A couple of trans·atlantic writers that have meant a lot to me and clearly mean a lot to many folks over that side of the Atlantic are Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder. While Berry writes novels and non· fiction about his home state of Kentucky. Snyder writes poetry. Berry is a Kentucky hill·farmer and Snyder has returned to the States from various long sojourns in Japan to set up a community in the Californian sierras at a town with the delightful name of Kit·Kit·Dikke. the community calling itself the Allegheny Star Range. Both are favourites of Stewart Brand who has written glowing reports in the Last Whole Earth Catalog, Snyder is available in this country through the Fulcrum Press who have published four of his books: Berry is hard to find here but can be obtained through the Truck Store in Menlo Park. Now if you·ll excuse me I must go and attend to my bicycle. The pedals are a little out of line. I suspect the ball bearings need attending to. Bike users will understand_ Best wishes. Nigel G Turner 17 Birmingham Road Stoneleigh, Nr Coventry. Warks.

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Dorrell Science Fiction Competition
Our thanks to all those who sent in stories for the sf competition in Undercurrents No 6. They went off to Mike Moorcock for judging and the winner is printed below_ There were several stories that we enjoyed, and we feel that there might have been more if the closing date printed in No 6 hadn·t been so close to the final publishing date (late again): thus we are going to run another competition as detailed below. Undercurrents is now asking for stories of approx 2,000 words for a continued competition, with a £10 prize again, the winning story to be printed in Undercurrents No 9, and entries to be in by August. We hope to publish one sf story of this type in each future issue, (10 going to the author of each story published. The stories submitted for earlier issues and the present competition will be combined in the continuing competition. SCIENCE FICTION COMPETITION Dear Undercurrents, While I was disappointed, by and large. in the general quality of the SF manuscripts (feeling that both ideas and means of expression were. on the whole, rather unoriginal) J did allow that these are all submissions by unpublished writers and therefore one could not expect the measure of skill be found in established writers. However. after consideration, I picked story number three Incidental Dropped Realstate Inc as showing the most originality of idea and expression. The texture of this story is better than the others. The statements are more individual, less conventional. I enjoyed it. There was a/so some humour in it. There was humour in some of the other stories but I found it WQS chiefly conventional irony fie wry remarks made in the consensus of the bus queue) rather than an original way of looking at the world. Number three wins hands down in my opinion. Best wishes Michael Moorcock Incidental Dropped Realstate Inc.
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INCIDENTAL DROPPED REALSTATE INC· Hoar·s Version THE POEM OBJECT is executed in flow chart and realisable in decoded variations. The first, pure machine language, electro·mechanical version is post-Babbage. Subtitled IN NEED OF SOLENOIDS it is a warped cog construction of mild steel with possible carbon content of three per cent. Interlocking lay shafts connected with a rotating series of unhardened gear teeth. The result is a gradual wearing under pressure. Under constant duration runs, in a plexiglass cube mock up of transmission testing laboratory conditions, the mild steel shears off in something akin to swarf form. The swarf formed in this manner is collected during oil change. The oil is then reconditioned and the swarf weighed. Comparison of initial weight of cogs. Present weight of cogs and swarf. Something is still lost. This loss is then classified as the frictive mode and the chart resultant drawn by light pen and recorded for future comparison with: Second Variation Is the total of power gathered from an eco system run during a possible seasonal variation of eight years: ITEM: any old abandoned MOT failed vehicle is found. The differential disassembled from the rest of the found automobile by oxyacetylene cutting. The gearing of the differential is then applied to the assemblage of a glass fibre blade windmill tower constructed to a height of twenty feet. By alternator, AC is generated using a pulley system to transfer power. AC is then converted to DC and the accumulation of power stored in lead acid batteries of twelve volt, five cell, fifty ampere hour type. The power generated and stored in this fashion is then used to amplify the series of recorded sounds made during the process and recorded on a portable cassette machine. During playback, random sections of the tape arc erased, and the wind and weather forecast for the area intercut. A graph is then made of the incidence of recorded sound (first stage) compared to the incidence of wind as forecast.
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The resulting curve is then fed into the computer and drawn across the frictive mode of the first variation. Third Variation A hard copy is then made of the master visual and xeroxed to the point of photographic fade. The hard copies are then put through a shredder and a collage is made randomly by assistants who have no knowledge of the preceding stages. Master collage is then fed into the character recognition peripheral of the computer. Automated screen print copies made. The initial differential scored by the authors and signed. History of Poem Object The preceding construct surfaces during a searching of the laser beam memory archives of the computer ROSARCH II. The search is led by Professor Edward Hoars, an ex·member of the faculty of Battered Gold University. and a believer in the value of decentralised info systems. Hoars is investigating the activity c a co·operative, anonymous group of art activists who reportedly worked together during the 1980s. The Professor is forty·four years old and favours a light grey synth·suit of faintly contrasting trousers an d jacket. Height, five feet eleven, he has, despite his current preoccupations, been widely tipped as the likely successor to the present Dean of the Faculty of Battered Gold, Variable Model. Variable Model·His Info Sheet Model·s publications include an impressive list of hardcopy best sellers·WHY NOT RETU RN TO THE GOLD STANDARD·MILTON AS BIOá COMPUTER·THE ORGONE EQUIV. ALENT OF THE DARK LADY·THE POPULAR SONG 1950·69 AS LIE DETECTOR· His academic position has remained virtually unchallenged since his success·fuI refusal of a kidney transplant some years ago. Model·s home, a glossy colour sup version of the average comptakidney life support, is also his working base. Recently there have been rumours that his real time shared access info obtaining method of research has been superseded by the small scale, field initiative methods of Hears and Co. WILL HOARS REACH FOR THE BATTERED GOLD TROPHY? WILL THE PLOT LINE THICKEN AND VARIABLE MODEL MOUNT A NEW
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COUNTER RESEARCH PROG FROM HIS ARTIFICIAL KIDNEY LAB,WILL THE CENTRE HOLD? Variable Model·s Comment on the Affair " .·It is my contention, after extensive research and enquiry with approved and tested methodology, that recent theories about the possible existence of a so·called artist·s action group called INCIDENTAL DROPPED REALSTATE INC arc nothing more than the misinterpretation of the life and work of that great subjective artist HERBERT MERCOFF .... ..... Taking into account the current climate of critical opinion around the time of Mercoff·s life, it is, in my view, not surprising that the artist in question should decide to hide his great talents under the bogus collective creation of a so·called objective group. I NCI· DENTAL DROPPED REALSTATE INC is nothing more than the inspirational life blood of Mercoff. A rationale that helped the artist survive the trials of existence on this planet". The following are ex tracts from the personal work of Mercoff gathered under approved surveillance on credited time sharing equipment. The Mercoff Syndrome Imagine the passing plane of an incidental visual. The calligraphy of the non-interfered cloud. There is perhaps, an argument for the return to basic standards of judgement, to the Duchamp of the perturbed object, and Schwillers as landlord. Art is an aberration currently presented as such. But, increasingly, it is the presentation that I find unacceptable. Somewhere along the line, I think with the instigation of REALITY AS A FOUND OBI ECT SERIES, I began to find that my productions lacked identification with my initial concept. Since this had always been the aim of INCIDENTAL DROPPED REALSTATE INC, I should have been perfectly happy. Unfortunately, this was not to be. What I began to do, was to question the basis of some hastily accepted tenets. I found myself wanting a direct link· a subjective Iinearity·tween concept and product .. The madness of Van Gogh·s crows .. The brushwork .. ah the brushwork ...
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Interjection by Model Mercoff began to search for the soft lead impression of early graphite drawings. To be drawn to the human form. To stage a renaissance of the figure. To bring reality back to corpuscles and arteries. This resulted in a series of cyborg drawings at first. Spare parts, old computer bits from junkyards. But the centre of the unique paper drawn spread was always a two dimensional biped. THE ACCUSATION OF THE SELF PORTRAIT. ART AS THE ULTIMATE NARCISSISM. THE CULT OF THE ASSOCIATIVE PERSONALITY. OR IS THE MERCOFF SYNDROME A MINCED RED HERRING THROWN INTO THE MENU OF THE PLOT? Description of Pencil Sketches by Mercoff. Claimed to be in Possession of Battered Gold University Access library. I} The Nostril the individualistic sprouting hairs, we find the fascination with the subjectivity of a true emotional reality. A single existence of each pore. An insistence of the right of the cell to exist as an entity in itself. 2) The Eye The sketches, as always are one eyed. Now this is not monomania, but rather a rejection of the straight 20·20, of the stereoscopic effects of vision on a singularly minded individual. Variable Model·s Singular Deduction ·It was the eye, really, I suppose, that gave my first whiff of the ultimate reality that lay behind Mercoff·s work. I began to think in terms of the other eye, the missing one .. It was at this stage that I discovered the terrible identification. I cast about for examples of other great artists with something missing, and came up with someone Mercoff himself had mentioned .. that other great subjectivist, Vincent Van Gogh, .. Was there a startling link between this hitherto unconnected personage .. I could hardly wait to start. Hoar·s Refutation of the Variable Model Powers of Deduction. ·I can only repeat what I have already said. I stand by the mobility and
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originality of the research work done by my team. I offer the following random selections; quotes from the activity of the INCIDENTAL DROPPED REALSTATE INC group: ·Realstate is at the antipodes of nodes .. the function of the artist or executor is to shape from these nodes a catalogue of used reality· ... ·Realstate is what executors do·. ·The use of the used computer in art is an acceptable as the use of machine tools in industry. Inspiration is a jig on which thousands of models can be constructed· ... ·Totality is the weight of entropy that has accumulated since Stanley Kubrick last thought about inner space· ... · ... Prose is as much about visuals as about words. A computerised I Ching is a concept. Therefore it is a reality· .. · .. We should not be afraid of easy facility. It is the works of ART that we ought to fear. Perfection is the drive towards total energy loss· ... . . ,·The wrinkles on the brain are more important than the weight of the grey mass. Texture is therefore more relevant than theme·. The Conclusion of Variable Model ·My recent work with the infra·red inspection of the enormous and sudden growth of sunflowers in the Nevada deserts have convinced me that the answer to the sudden disappearance of Herbert Mercoff is also the answer to the underlying questions behind the artist·s work. The sunflowers in question, according to newly developed seed dating procedure, first began to appear in 1987·the year of Mercoff·s disappearance. My solution, is that the artist committed that ultimate act of subjective existence; suicide in a grow hole. The decomposition of Mercoff·s body provided vital organic fertiliser for the growth of these plants. What could be more logical. Mercoff, Van Gogh, the solution solved in a vibrant display of natural colour. Who could consume sunflower oil when one might die to preserve the flowers themselves, for ever? Hoar·s Final Words We programmed ROSARCH II with a search probe on the question of sun flowers and INCI DENT AL DROPPED REALSTATE INC. While we found an abundance of references to sunflowers as good compost material and a valuable source of vegetable oil, we could not find Mercoff. A selection
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Control & Communication
The study or a society·s communications systems gives a penetrating insight into how? and in whose interest, it operates. In this special issue of UNDERCURRENTS we have attempted to do two things: firstly, to show how the existing structures of communication in Britain are used to bolster·up the status quo and to perpetuate the basic injustices of our present society; and secondly,to show how the communications media could be used in building a better, more humane society. The shortcomings of Britain·s Post Office reflect the short·comings of the country as a whole. The Post Office has far too much power · so much, indeed, that the word monopoly seems an under·statement. It is controlled neither by its workers nor by the communities which it serves . And it does not even attempt to spread the benefits of communication more equitably throughout the population: the poor pay at least twice as much for calls from a coin·box ·phone as the rich who can afford to have a ·phone of their own; and every winter, thousands of old and sick people die because they have no telephone with which to summon help in an emergency. But to transfer the Post Office monopoly into the hands of the private communications companies would solve nothing. A far better model for the future would be a de·centralised federation of municipally·controlled Post Offices · of which the city of Hull·s independent telephone system provides one rough example. The increasing use of postal and telephone monitoring, allied to the deployment of TV cameras for surveillance purposes and the construction of a "hardened" government communications network, shows yet again that our rulers, far from being interested in removing the root causes of injustice, are anxious only to suppress the symptoms. It·s easier to build bomb·proof towers and spy on political activists than it is to re·distribute wealth, hand the factories over to the workers, decentralize political power and give the land back to local communities. Brute force, though always there as a weapon of last resort, is rapidly going out of style as the primary III;means of repression. In the Kitsonian world of "low intensity operations", censorship and subtle manipulation of the communications media are the state·s major tactics in the fight to win the "hearts and minds" of the people and stamp out "subversion".
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But the entire field of communications is far too vast to be explored more than superficially in one issue of a magazine. We hope that the articles in this issue will be provocative enough to stimulate some healthy controversy. What about phone phreaking, for instance ·? Is the Post Office, like Bell Telephone in the ·States, "fair game" for anyone who can find a way to rip it off? Or are such actions dishonest, irrelevant · even reactionary? Or is any act which challenges the established order, especially if that order is founded on technological expertise, worth supporting because it shows that the machine is not yet invincible? We·ll be exploring these and many other questions in the issues of UNDERCURRENTS that follow .... 9

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The Snoopers and the Peepers
ALL TELEPHONE and postal communication in this country is firmly in the hands of a large bureaucracy. That bureaucracy, the Post Office Corporation, is like any other as concerned with its own survival and its own power relative to other bureaucracies as it is with providing those services it is officially supposed to. It·s not therefore surprising to find that the Post Office is more than eager to help where it can to keep the system and State that supports it in business. It does so by making freely available to the cops, the political police, the military and all their good friends facilities for snooping into our letters and telephone calls. In the pages that follow we·ll survey the known information concerning PO phone·tapping and letter opening·who does it; who it·s done to, how it·s done, how and if it can be detected; and what to do about it. We think the main upshot of this survey is a demonstration that the PO is by no stretch of the imagination a neutral agent in the struggle for a new Society. Of course, you surely never had any illusions to the contrary? ... If so, read on ... the SNOOPERS and the PEEPERS Postal Monitoring Who does it The Post Office have a monopoly on effective snooping into the letters they deliver. They don·t need a warrant to snoop·the Post Office Act of 1 %9 (which created the new Corporation) placed them under a ·Requirement to do what is necessary to inform designated persons holding office under the Crown concerning matters and things transmitted or in the course of transmission· by the Post Office. As far as known the ·offices of the Crown· that make regular use of postal monitoring are the political police, who keep their eye on political groups and very occasionally (it would seem) individuals; and the big·time straight crime fuzz·Serious Crime Squad and the like. Her Majesty·s Customs of course have their own mail·opening operation at the points of intake for foreign post, though they may use the gpo·s interception facilities as well. No doubt the military use postal monitoring on rare occasions when phone bugging won·t do. And probably the people who play spy and counter·spy try the interception game every once in a while. Except for the surveillance of political addresses, primarily for the purposes of political intelligence gathering, and the occasional very
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serious crime (ie, one the cops can put someone away for a long time for), postal monitoring is probably not too common a tool. Put yourself in their shoes. They want intelligence or busts. Except for keeping tabs on political scenes, there seems not to be many kinds of information the cops want which they can·t get through some less cumbersome technique than postal interception. Phone tapping is probably easier, more discreet, and can be arranged for in a big hurry if need be (some equipment sitting in local exchanges can be used to tap lines simply by dialling a number, providing the police can get access to the exchange). Informers are probably still the primary source of information for most straight crime cases. How many things can you think of which can·t be found out easier by telephone tapping or informants than by postal interception? There must be such things, but not often. And they probably involve such things as postal fraud, and complex paper crime. So it·s a good guess that the only regular, long·term clients of the PO·s postal monitoring service are the political police. It·s the Special Branch and MI5 that keep them in business!). 11·110 s done A recent report(2) had it that up to 25 groups and individuals were on the PO·s London interception list. In the Northwest postal area of London (all areas with postal codes NW1·NWll )about 100 addresses were said to be monitored in mid·72 (out of about 158,000 postal addresses). About half these addresses were political organisations. How its done It·s impossible to monitor post sent by someone·it can be posted from anywhere, and once in the system need have no sign of its origin. So all the PO can get their mitts on is letters addressed to a person of interest to their clients. The place where they get their mitts on letters they want is at the local sorting office responsible for final delivery. Here letters destined for any single address can easily be pulled out of the sorting system and examined. It would seem that postal monitoring is a three tier operation. Post is removed from the delivery system at local sorting offices. I t is sent by special courier to the local surveillance office, where the letter is opened and photocopied. The photocopies make their way to the headquarters of the operation, where the list of Who Wants What is kept.
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The bureaucracy that mans this operation is the Post Office Investigation Branch (IB). It was until about eighteen months ago known as the PO Investigation Division, and before .that it was sometimes called the Private Office. The headquarters of the surveillance operation was said at one time to be at King Edward Building, King Edward street). It is now at Euston Towers. Euston Road, NW1 IS). In London there is an area surveillance office for each of the seven major postal divisions (NW, SE, SW, N, EC, E and W). Letters are opened in each area office by a staff of 4·6, who usually manage to get a letter open, photocopy it, reseal it and get it back into the delivery system by next post). The rule in postal surveillance seems to be blanket coverage of a small number of addresses. There have been occasional reports of ·sampling· however. One story in the Committee of 100 pamphlet 17) was of interception, on occasional days, of all post to foreign students at a college of further education. But the consensus seems to be that such exercises, though they can and do happen, arc rare. The straight press makes great play of the quantity and quality of post·opening techniques available to the PO. Without boring you with the details, suffice it-to say that the PO can if they want get into just about any letter. And if they want they can get out of it again without leaving very obvious traces. .. 'The well·known method of opening letters by holding them over a steaming kettle is effective but messy, and is not normally used by professionals. Indeed in many cases it is not necessary to open an envelope in order to scrutinise the contents. Do·it·yourself enthusiasts can verify this by holding an unopened letter close to a strong light; in this way most typewritten letters can be read quite easily. The Security Service have special apparatus faT examining letters by this method, the device they use being rather like the viewing screen found in X·ray departments of hospitals. If this method proves unsatisfactory, then the contents of an envelope can be extracted through one of the holes left at the top of the gummed flaps. An instrument resembling a pair of very slim long·nosed pliers is used to wind the letter into a tight cylinder and to extract it without visibly disturbing the sealed flap. (We understand it is rather more difficult to Replace the
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letter). The commonest method is to use the bottom flap as opposed to the top one. Chemical solvents, plus a host of other equipment, enable the skilled interceptor to make copies of correspondence very swiftly and without·outward signs of his· work. Cruder methods aTe simply to Retain aT destroy the letter, to use an ·Opened m Error·label, to write ·Misdirected·on it aT ·Not known at this address· to pretend misdelivery, to return it to the sender with an ·Insufficiently addressed· note aT to coveT part of the address with the postage mark. If all else fails, the bottom of the letter can be slit, the letter photocopied, then the letter resealed using woodpulp and Q cooker that restores the texture of the envelope paper. Mail Interception and Telephone Tapping in Great Britain. Hampstead Group of the Committee of 100 Pamphlet (see Ref I). .. Given this sophistication of technique it·s interesting that sometimes the PO·s interception work becomes glaringly obvious. Letters to political addresses may be repeatedly delivered open, or with ·Opened in Error· stamped on them. (See e.g. pp 4·6 of the Committee of 100 pamphlet). Occasionally letters destined for one political address show up at another miles away. Once a letter addressed to the Communist Party Offices in King Street WC2 ended up in an envelope addressed and delivered to an MP at Westminster(2). Last year a letter sent to the bookshop Rising Free (in WC1) was delivered to the Communist Party And in 1972, a wrapper addressed to the IB itself was delivered to the offices of Freedom, the anarchist weekly. Explanations of these glaring goofs abound. Post delivered open to political groups, for example, could occasionally be due to Post Office employees who don·t much like the organisation in question. Pressure of work may on occasion lead the I B to abandon its craftsmanlike approach to its work (not likely if their clients really wanted their interest concealed·additional personnel should not be hard to find in times of need). Letters may on occasion be opened at sorting offices or police stations without benefit of the IB·s fine technology. Where postal interception of post to ·politicals· is done repeatedly in such
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a ·way that it is obvious that it is being done. another interpretation is possible that the IB, at the behest of their clients, deliberately makes its work obvious. It·s not impossible that the PO·s facilities are used to stir up a little paranoia now and then. If that·s what the clients want, the helpful officers of the Investigation Branch would no doubt be glad to oblige ... Detection If the Investigation Branch want in to your post without your knowing they·ve been there, they can probably do it. You could, if you wanted, try posting yourself pieces of unexposed lightsensitive paper or film in light·proof envelopes (but not obviously light·proof envelopes!). Exposing an unrepeatable image on the paper or film which can be verified on receipt by developing might be J good additional precaution (the film or paper can·t then be easily replaced if it is discovered and replaced). If you indulge in this kind of paranoia, do it properly·send identical envelopes, to addresses you·re pretty sure are unmonitored. And don·t be surprised if the relevant letters just kind of disappear ... Countertechnology If you·ve got hot stuff to send through the post, use ·drop addresses·places unlikely to be under the IB·s watchful eye, e.g. your grannie·s (assuming she·s not a militant revolutionary ... ) There seems little point in trying to make your letters ·unopenable·. There·s no such thing as ·unopenable·. And specially sealed envelopes are more likely to call attention to their importance, than to disguise it. A better defence against postal surveillance is not to use the post for sensitive material. And-the best defense Of all is to try not to deal in secrets·that·s their game, and they·re pretty good at it. The more open your organisation and activities, the less chance you·re going to be fouled·up by their detection games. Phone Tapping Who Does It In principle, your ·phone can be tapped from either the equipment in your home, the cable leading to your local exchange, or the local exchange itself.
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When the PO is doing the listening, tapping is done from within local exchanges. Outside agencies who don·t want to even let the PO know they·re listening to you·the spy·chasing paranoids maybe·may install their own taps outside PO exchanges. Tapping is quite certainly done by CID and Yard ·straight crime· cops. In theory they need a warrant to do it; and in practice they probably do get one if they·re going to tap over an extended period. Straight·crime cops probably don·t use tapping much as a method of gathering general intelligence (as opposed to information needed to get a specific bust)_ The GPO·s Investigation Branch makes a good deal of use of ·TKOing· and local exchange monitoring, as well as ·printer metering· (see below). Printer meters seem to be their standard tool for gelling at phone freaks. A piece in the straight press of unknown reliability cited an ex·PO IB man as saying: ·It·s no good pUlling a recorder on the line and coming back tomorrow tea time to see what you·ve got. When you play it, you always find a hoarse voice rang at three, said ·It·s me·see you at the usual in ten minutes·, and you weren·t there_ If you·re tapping people ..no know ..nat it·s all about, you have to have relays of good men listening 24 hours a day, and a team on the street ready to follow the suspect. I don·t think tapping is worthwhile unless you·re ready to use 12 to 15 good men ·. Even if accurate this view reflects only the attitudes of ·straight·crime· cops who use the phone as a means to getting a bust, as distinct from that of the intelligence gathering machine. The Special Branch and their friends quite likely do routine intelligence gathering via phone taps and (possibly) printermeters, most probably by tapping organisations· phones. Tapping for political intelligence purposes may be done without all the paraphernalia of stake·outs and continuous live monitor· ing. They·re probably quite happy in some cases to just connect up a recorder, go away, and come back later to see what·s happened. Military intelligence probably does a bit of the same. American Military
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Intelligence in Germany makes use of German PO facilities and personnel to do taps, according to German PO spokesmen(121; whether they have an equally cushy relationship with the PO here is not known. Who·s Done In theory tapping requires a warrant. The warrants are supposed to be issued if, among other things, the presumed crime is serious enough that a person with no previous record might get put away for it for three years or more. The frequency of warrants was reported as averaging 130 in the twenty years prior to 19571131. An unconfirmed report in the straight press in 1972114) had it that 1200 warrants for tapping were issued in 1972 and that about 600 were issued in 1970. Another unconfirmed report (·not denied in the House of Commons·) was of twelve thousand taps done by the fuzz in 1966 Take your pick ... Of course, quite a bit of tapping.particularly political intelligence gathering·may be done without warrant. Tapping is known to have been used in a wide assortment of criminal cases. Tapping was widely used against the Kray and Richardson gangs.. But it was also used to do a single bloke for receiving stolen goods in Oxford in 19701161¥ And the Committee of 100 gathered a lot of hard evidence for the regular and systematic use of tapping of political activists (17). Aside from the straight cops, the political police, the PO·s Investigation Division and the military (US and UK), there don·t seem to be any other obvious users of the PO·s fine facilities. How It·s Done The range of ways in which telephone activity can be monitored i· enormous. And there·s not too much agreement as to which of these are the most often used_ Briefly, the most likely methods include: ·TKO·ing· (Trunk Offering). Most auto·manual exchanges (that is, exchanges where manual boards, controlled by operators, are located) have manual TKO boards. These boards· official use is to ·drop in· to engaged subscribers circuits to see if a call is in fact in progress, or to see if there·s a fault on the line. They can also be used to break into ongoing calls in emergencies. In practice they can easily be used for tapping calls. An operator wanting to ·jack· into a
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particular line merely plugs into a circuit for the required sub·scriber·s exchange, then dials the sub·scriber·s number on that exchange. He will then remain connected to the subscriber·s line until the plug is pulled. Obviously such a facility can be used by anyone who can get permission to get near it. It·s not clear how often the cops use TKO boards. Given the noisiness of the technique (see ·Detection· below) and its relative lack of secrecy, it·s probably only used when a tap is needed in a hurry and there isn·t time to wait for a proper line to a listening post to be established. In addition to TKO boards, some exchanges have monitoring boards, to which particular subscriber·s lines can be permanently wired. All calls to or from a wired·up subscriber·s line arc indicated by a light coming up at the plug position to which he is connected. A call in progress can then be plugged into. Clearly this is also a facility with lots of uses to anyone who wants to snoop·in fact it·s hard to imagine what else the board could be used for ... TKO·ing will in future become much easier. Exchanges are currently being connected up to a new transit system for STD calls, called M F2. (see phone freeking articles)_ Users of MF2 are assigned a class of service, various classes allowing access to various facilities not necessarily available to other classes. Class of service 6 gives the user access to automatic diallable TKOing to any subscriber number on any exchange with MF2 transit access. All of which means that anyone the PO chooses to give a class 6 user line to will be able to dial up any number he wants to listen into from the comfort of his own padded cell. Fortunately MF2 won·t be too widespread for quite a while yet ... Printer-metering A very useful intelligence gathering tool there are no technicalities about using (no warrants, no nothing) is the printer meter. This device, when attached to the equipment assigned to your telephone at your local exchange, prints out a tape of every number dialled. Printer-metering is widely used by the PO·s own cops, the Investigation
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Division, for tracking down phone freeks. Given that ·traffic analysis· is an old trick in the intelligence business it might also be used by cops whose background comes from military intelligence. But there are bureaucratic hassles here. Installing a printermeter requires the PO·s connivance almost for sure. Although any idiot could install one, engineers at an exchange would surely know that some outsider had put a printermeter on a line, and they would want to know what his authority was. Besides, printermeters require daily servicing (the tape has to be changed). So it·s quite probable that requests to do printermetering, although they don·t need a warrant, do have to go through the Post Office. Which puts some kind of limit on the frequency of their use. New designs of exchange are now being introduced (TXE2 and TXE4 electronic exchanges) which, as a matter of course log the originating and called number of every call made by subscribers. The information is used for billing (a computer takes the record and computes the appropriate charge rate for each call, knowing its origin and destination). But it obviously could easily be used to rapidly build up a portrait of Who Knows Who, or at least Who Calls Who, if that was of interest to anyone. Fortunately it·ll be a long time before TXE2 and TXE4S replace the majority of exchanges in this country. Recording Calls 1: Listening Posts There seem to be many reports going around that serious long-term recording of calls is not actually done at local exchanges, but rather at ·listening posts· established and run by client agencies. Lines arc run from local exchanges to intermediate exchanges. The lines required by the agencies for tapping arc included in a standard list of telephone numbers for which ·sampling· is required which is sent weekly to local exchanges. The content of all calls made on all these lines is routed, via a group of lines reserved for ·traffic analysis·, from the local to the intermediate exchange. A Post Office worker writing in Solidarity (Vol 2 No 4) suggested that there were an average of 25 of these lines per local exchange. Other sources suggest
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the number of lines in a traffic·analysis group might be closer to 90 per exchange. In theory, all traffic routed out over ·traffic analysis· lines is monitored only for frequency and duration of calls and quality of service. In practice some lines are rerouted to client·s listening posts. Since the list of subscriber·s numbers required for analysis is (or can be) modified weekly, there·s no difficulty in adding or dropping taps at fairly short notice. A recent article of unknown reliability in the straight press (18) reported the location·of Scotland Yard·s listening Post as Chelsea Barracks, a location to which it moved from the Passport Office. This listening room was said to have room for ·servicing· up to 72 taps at anyone time (presumably it was equipped with only 72 incoming lines from intermediate exchanges). The Secret Service, Foreign Office, Customs and several other ·client· agencies were reported to have their own listening rooms. Detection TKOs and Monitor Boards at your local or parent exchange. Often TKOing is noisy. If the Trunk Offering operator dials into your number while a call is in progress, it can sometimes be audible·but not always. And if someone is plugging into your calls from a monitoring board and forgets to push his plug in all the way (it happens, it happens!) the result can be a lot of static on the line. But these are lousy tests·when you’re tapped they may not be positive and they can be positive when you·re not tapped. Printermetering doesn·t show at all unless the guy who changes the tape on the machine every day isn·t too careful how he does it, in which case you may hear the results of his fumble·fingerness as an occasional ·ping· of the bell of your phone·often the same time each day, as printermeter tapes tend to be changed at set times. But again, a lousy test for the same reason that the TKO and monitor board tests aren’t so hot. Recording can·t be easily detected. There are, in principle, electronic tests available that might show if a recorder was attached to a line, and some people are currently working on developing equipment to make such tests. I don·t think it would do
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much good to tell what those tests _are·they·re easily beatable by any.one who uses a recorder and knows about them, so telling about them would be equivalent to rendering them unusable. If you·re specially worried about tapping, write Undercurrents and maybe we can help you out. Countertechnology A good weapon against phone tapping is the call box. If you think your phone is tapped, make sensitive calls away from home. If you think the person you·re calling is tapped and you think it matters, use the phone only to make arrangements·for him to call you back from a pay phone, maybe. A second best defence against tapping is to keep your goddam mouth shut. Most sensitive details can usually wait. If you·re tapped, talking in circles won·t help. If you·re involved in planning some heavy demonstration and think the Special Branch are on to you, don·t think they·ll be fooled if you say ·The circus·will be at S· instead of ·the meeting·will be at S·. They aren·t that dumb. The best defence of all is of course the same defence that·s best against postal monitoring. Don·t deal in secrets. Or if you have to, deal with them in your closest circle of friends, who will (hopefully?) sec each other often enough not to need to talk about heavy stuff over the phone. Recording Calls 2: ·Blanket· Recording There·s a sizeable amount of evidence that all international calls arc recorded going in and out of most countries. Phone freeking to uncommonly called countries (Russia, say) is known to be dangerous for just this reason. The US·s National Security Agency is reported (in Ramparts, August 1972) to record all trans·Atlantic and trans·Pacific calls. According to their informant. ·Most of these no·one ever listens to, and after being held available for a few weeks, are erased. They ·/I run a random sort through all the tapes, listening to a certain number to determine if there is anything in them of interest worth holding on to and transcribing. Also, certain telephone conversations are routinely listened to as soon as possible. These will be the ones that are made by people doing an inordinate amount of calling
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overseas, or are otherwise flagged for speCial interest ·. Students in Denmark discovered in 1970 that SO Danish PO men were rosily engaged in recording all international calls out of Denmark for NATO intelligence from a listening post in a basement of Copenhagen University (who·d ever think to look there?) 119) In this country, all calls, telex and radio in and out of the country are similarly presumed to be monitored by the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) at Cheltenham). No evidence existing to the contrary, it·s reasonable to assume they have more or less the same procedures as those outlined for the National Security Agency record everything, keep it for a short time, sample some of it, and watch certain individuals carefully. Technically. of course, ·watching individuals carefully· is something that cannot be done except by tapping. There·s no way to sort out from the huge mass of calls that leave this country (32 million were made in 1971) which came from, say, Undercurrents. There is no voice recognition system anywhere near sorting out one voice in several million at the moment, and phone calls when made do not carry with them any sign of their origin, once they leave local exchanges. Countertechnology If you·re important enough to be on the GCHQ·s shit list, you·ve already made a lotta mistakes. I f you·re not. the usual precautions apply. Be careful what you say. and if it·s the sort of thing that matters assume someone might be listening and phrase what you say accordingly_ Remember, though, that unless you say who you are or the person you call uses your name, you·re anonymous as far as blanket recording is concerned. (They do, of course, know what number you dialled). And if you·re doing something they think you shouldn·t do, then you shouldn·t be calling a number they can trace you to anyway, dummy! By the way: another routine kind of listening in is done on all calls through an operator. She/he will listen in every nine minutes to make sure the call is progressing OK (technically, that is). If the content is juicy enough and things at the exchange are quiet enough, they·re not above listening at greater length.
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And of course calls can be and often are monitored for technical quality all along their path to their recipient. PO personnel vary like any others as to politics, attitudes to phone freeking, and so on. Some don·t give a damn· but some do. So don·t try your luck ... I. For documentation of the surveillance of political groups and individuals by the Post Office, see the excellent pamphlet Mail Interception and Telephone Tapping in Britain, published by the Hampstead Group of the Committee of 100 and Housman·s Bookshop. It Was republished in 1973 by Attila Publications (c/o 7 Victoria Road, Brighton) and is available from them or Smoothie Publications (67 Vere Road, Brighton) for 15p post paid, It·s an excellent summary of the Post Offices State snooping activities up to about 1970 2. Time Out, ·The IB Men·. No 130 ·11 Aug 1972. 3. In most local sorting offices the post would be set aside by the same person who delivers your post. Post when it arrives at a local office is sorted into <walks·; each postman then sorts his own walk into streets. Before doing so however he sorts a collection of·redirection· and ·retention· cards into the street pigeon holes. Post is normally retained at the request of the addressee, who can ask for post to be held until called for. One problem with this (hypothetical) system is that post, once removed, cannot be returned into the normal delivery system without the knowledge of the sorter. If it were, it would simply be removed from the delivery system again for ·retention·. The only suggestions I·ve heard that might alone solve this little problem are (a) that postmen actually know who·s being monitored on their walk (this suggestion is backed by a first hand story in the Committee of 100 Pamphlet (cited above) in which the post of a CP hack was held back by a temporary postman, working over the Christmas season in 1954. Maybe in the last twenty years they·ve become more sophisticated .. ); (b) that the IB has its own fleet of postmen who deliver intercepted letters .. an equally bizarre suggestion. 4. Times, Sunday Supplement article, 20 June 1971. 5. Time Out, as (2).
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6. Time Out, as (2). The IB is said to have had 3,0 employees in 1971. As well as snooping into post, the I B makes it its business to chase phone freeks, Giro fraud, mailbag theft, and other things the PO doesn·t like much. 7. Mail interception and Telephone Tapping in Britain, as (1) p4. The pamphlet·s authors weren·t convinced this was an authentic story. 8. Times as (4). 9. Time Out No 195 ·Returned to Sender·, 16 Nov 1973. 10. Time Out 128, ·Mail Spies·,· 29 July ·72. ¥ 11 Times as (4). _ 12. Time Out 6. 9.73 ·Widespread Wire tapping· . 13. Gleeson, Tom <The Electronic Cancer·, Police Review 18 May 1973. 14. ·Big Rise in Phone Tapping·, Daily Telegraph 19 Dec 1972. 15. Daily Telegraph as 14. 16. ·Listening In Note Unfair·, Times 27 Feb 1972. 17. <Mail Interception and Telephone Tapping in Britain·, p· 7·8. 18. Bryant, Tom, ·Secret phone tap room at the Barracks·, Evening Standard 4 July 1973 19. Times as (4). 20. ·A good week for the KGB, Time Out 10 August 1973 p8. 21. The only sign of origin tacked onto a call is a so·called <discrimination digit· that is usually used to indicate whether the call was set up by an operator or directly dialled by a subscriber. .

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Confessions Of A Phone Phreak
TELEPHONES are interesting, and fun to play with. People whose hobby is playing with telephones are known as ·phone phreaks· in the USA, a term which is not very popular in this country. The polite term ·telephone enthusiast· is sometimes used instead. Anyone interested in amateur radio can go to his local library and find a shelf of books telling him how to annoy his neighbours by interfering with their television pictures. Unlike such normal hobbies it is not so easy to find information on the subject of ·phone phreaking·. When I first became interested in telephones I was more or less on my own and I spent a lot of time trying to find other telephone enthusiasts. This was an interesting exercise, full of odd surprises. On one occasion I spent a lot of time tracking down rumours of one individual who turned out to be no other than myself. Some people get interested in telephones simply by meeting established ·phone phreaks. I feel that one misses something by this. To understand what ·phone phreaking is all about one needs to know a little about telephone systems. The British Telephone System Telephone exchanges in the UK are arranged in a hierarchical structure based on about 40 lanes switching centres, 350 group switching centres and about 6,000 minor exchanges. Each group switching centre (GSC) is a member of a zone and its zone switching centre is its primary route to the trunk network. Similarly, each of the minor exchanges has a GSC as its parent. In addition to this basic structure there are further circuits, GSC to GSC, minor to minor exchange and so on, provided that there is a sufficient demand to justify them. Until the introduction of Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) in 1959, telephone operators handled all trunk traffic. By this time most of the network was automatic in the sense that one originating operator could complete a call by dialling, over the trunk network, codes which routed the call from one centre to another. Following the introduction of STD, the responsibility for the setting up of the call was placed upon the subscriber. Now the most costly part of a telephone system is the provision and maintenance of circuits between exchanges and this dictates the philosophy behind the working of the system. The STD equipment dials calls over the trunk network automatically and
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in this way replaces the local operator. The equipment is full of safeguards which ensure that, either by accident or misuse, a subscriber does not waste time on trunk circuits. For example, a subscriber cannot let a call ring indefinitely: he will be automatically disconnected after about 3 or 4 minutes. Most of the automatic switching equipment in the UK is based upon the older type of electromechanical switching known as the Strowger (or step by step) system. This type of equipment responds directly to the impulses set up as one dials. As a result, there is a very close relationship between the codes dialled and the way in which the call is routed. If one looks at the dialling code booklet issued to subscribers one will find that it is divided into two parts. The first gives dialling codes for ·local· calls and the main part of the booklet gives the dialling codes for ·local· calls and the main part of the booklet gives the dialling codes for trunk calls. The local codes operate Strowger switching equipment. If one studies the local dialling codes published for a few neighbouring exchanges it is possible to break them down into their component routings. It is then possible to string them together to reach distances of up to about 70 miles. It is through discovering this that many people, myself included, first became interested in telephones. This stringing together of local codes is known as ·chaining· and is of restricted interest since the lines are unamplified and of low quality. The STD codes consist of the digit zero followed by a three digit ·area code· and, in the case of minor exchanges, further routing digits. The initial zero connects a subscriber to the STD routing equipment. The next three digits bear no relation to the routing digits actually needed to set up the call and are the same all over the country. They were allocated as a mnemonic in the days when telephone dials had letters on them. The heart of the STD equipment is a register translator (RT). This splits off the area code and translates it into the appropriate routing digits, indeed the same ones that an operator would dial. Meanwhile the remaining dialled digits are stored in a register. The equipment first pulses out the routing digits got from the translator and follows them with the digits stored in the register, these being the final routing digits (for minor
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exchanges) and the called number. Having done this the equipment switches through the speech path and the register translator releases itself in preparation for the next call, leaving control to a piece of equipment called a register access relay set. This piece of control equipment has obtained the appropriate metering rate for the call from the translator, and when the call is answered it steps the subscriber·s meter at this rate. Trunk Access Theoretically, the only way that a subscriber has of obtaining a trunk circuit is either via the local operator or through the STD equipment. Neither of these two methods allow one to explore the telephone network, which is what the ·phone phreak wants to do. In practice there are other ways of gaining access to the trunk network. For a variety of reasons there are ways of dialling from the local codes, to which a subscriber has proper access, onto trunk routes. One way in which this can happen is that occasionally a local route can terminate at a GSC with the same status as an incoming trunk route. When this happens one may dial the appropriate local code followed by the digit ·I· and gain access to the trunk circuits at the distant GSc. Another type of trunk access arises when Post Office engineers within an exchange wire up their own irregular circuits. One of these came to light last year in Bristol as a result of a Post Office prosecution. One dialled 173 and received a continuous ·number unobtainable· tone (as one should, it is a spare code). However, if one waited for 30 seconds, this would switch through to Bristol trunks. One person who was prosecuted was apparently running an air charter company and making all his telephone calls abroad free of charge. A more common type of concealment occurs when, instead of waiting as above, one has to dial a further code, most commonly a digit zero. If more than one such digit is required then the access becomes difficult to find. In spite of such attempts at concealment a large list of these was compiled. To explore the trunk network using one of these one would use the ·chaining· method to the nearest exchange providing such a trunk access. If one was lucky, one·s own exchange would possess one. As a result of recent publicity the Post Office has tightened up on its own internal security and now only relatively few of these accesses are left. FortunateIy. there is a more powerful way of gaining access to trunks and
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this involves simulating the control signals that are used on trunk routes. To explain how this can be done it is necessary to describe first the principles of telephone signalling. Telephone Signalling Systems Dial pulses. which originate at the subscriber telephone on dialling. periodically interrupt the DC path between the telephone and the exchange. This is known as loop disconnect signalling and is also used over local links between exchanges. It is not suitable for signalling over longer links because the pulses get distorted, or over micro wave links where there is no DC path. Over the majority of trunk routes a type of signalling known as AC9 is used. This employs a single signalling frequency of 2280 Hz which is within the audio pass band of the circuit. Digits are transmitted as impulses of this frequency sent at dial pulse speed (10 pulses per second). Control signals are also at 2280Hz. For example, on completion of a call a continuous tone at this frequency is sent to clear down the circuit. The STD system as so far described is inadequate in many ways. It is capable of providing only relatively simple translations and this is why subscribers who have STD cannot dial all of the exchanges on the automatic trunk network. Further, if congestion is met on any of the links within a routing then the call will fail whereas an operator would either redial or try an alternative routing. It was decided from the outset that it would be uneconomical-to extend the planned STD system to cope with these problems and so a different approach known as transit working was planned. Accordingly. a completely independent trunk network is being built and is now gradually coming into operation. This is known as the trunk transit network. In the transit mode the area code is examined by the originating RT as before, but instead of producing a complete set of routing digits it simply seizes the first free circuit to the most likely switching centre capable of handling that call. If there are no free circuits then it tries its next choice of switching centre. This distant switching centre then requests the original area code and upon receipt of this from the originating RT it will set up the next link in the same way. The intermediate RT is then released and plays no further part in the connection of the call. This process continues until the call reaches its required destination whereupon the distant RT sends back a signal to initiate the transfer of the
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contents of the originating register to the final register and the call is then established as before. The area code has to be repeated by the originating RT to each of the intermediate switching centres and a slow signalling system such as AC9 is unsuitable. A high speed signalling system is therefore used and is known as SSMF2. This uses a combination of two frequencies out of a total of six to represent digits. With SSMF2, a digit may be sent in 160 milliseconds, compared to a maximum of 1 second when u,ing AC9. Signals in the backward direction arc needed, for example to request the area code, and these are based on a further six frequencies. Supervisory signals are again at 2280Hz in most cases, these including the forward clear for example. The Blue Box It has been seen that the control signals employed within the inland trunk network are audio signals within the passband of the telephone circuit. Armed therefore with a set of audio oscillators and some means of playing combinations of these into one·s telephone one can imitate these signals. A device capable of doing this is known as a ·blue box· in the USA and as a ·bleeper· in this country. With such a device the entire telephone system of the world is then at your command. To imitate signalling system AC9 all that one needs is a single oscillator running at 2280Hz and a method of interrupting this at dial pulse speed. A second telephone dial is a simple and convenient method. In practice one would start by dialling an ordinary STD call and then, before the call is answered, send a short burst of tone. This ·clears down· the call and one is left with an outgoing trunk route. This first link is not released because the telephone is still ·off the hook· and the DC holding conditions are still applied at the local GSc. A second burst of tone will then ·re·seize· in the sense that the switching equipment is reconnected at the distant GSC in preparation for the receipt of routing digits. These are sent using the auxiliary telephone dial just as if one was an operator or was using a trunk access. Simulation of the MF2 signals requires, of course, six oscillators and the procedure is more complicated. However, one does not need to know any internal trunk routing digits. Once one has unrestricted access to the trunk network in this way it is possible to gain access to the international circuits as well. Over these circuits different signalling systems are employed and these too are
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normally ·in band· systems, in that they use tones with frequencies within the normal voice band of 300 to 3000 Hz. More sophisticated ·blue boxes· allow one to simulate these as well and one can go even further and simulate the signalling used internally in other countries. This is the subject of Part II of this article. Having acquired a ·blue box·, the way one explores the network is very much a question of personal taste and people tend to specialise·as in any hobby. To start with, most ·blue box· owners just play around and enjoy the novelty of having the world at their fingertips. Calls to various information services are popular as are calls to international operators, who are very friendly. It is a pleasant diversion on a winter evening to discuss surfing with the Honolulu operator or to chat about the weather with the Sydney operator. One type of circuit that is quite popular is the conference call whereby a number of enthusiasts are connected together: here the conversation often tends towards ·phone phreaking. This type of circuit arises either by accident or by design. One example of the ·accidental conference· was Derry. One of its dependent exchanges got demolished by a bomb and all circuits from Derry to this exchange were connected together onto a recorded announcement. This recorded announcement became disconnected and a conference was born. Conferences also occur on an international scale and are very popular in America, where they are sometimes very sophisticated. So far nothing has been said about the legality (or otherwise) of ·phone phreaking. Using a blue box one can make a ·phone call to virtually anywhere in the world at the cost of a local call or even free of charge. To make a ·phone call to somebody in this way is clearly fraudulent and if caught you would face prosecution. On the other hand, to use a ·blue box· for the purpose of exploring or studying the telephone system the situation is by no means so clear. When using an AC9 simulator, the very first forward clear causes the equipment to start metering the call and it does so, at the rate appropriate to the initial STD call, for as long as the telephone is off the hook. This occurs because the equipment mistakes the forward clear for an answer signal. For this
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reason the initial STD call is chosen to give a low metering rate. I f one now restricts one·s activities to such areas as, for example, experimenting with different signalling systems then the law is very unclear on the subject. There is certainly a good argument against one·s activities being illegal. It is so easy to make STD or international calls free of charge, even with no electronic aids, that anyone wishing to do so would certainly not use a ·blue box·. In this country at least, the ·blue box· user is generally a telephone enthusiast and fairly harmless. The world is but a Blue Box away This part of the article describes the extension of the art of phone phreaking from a national to an international scale. As already mentioned, once one has unrestricted access to trunk routes then one may also gain access to international routes. The way in which one can achieve this varies between countries. · In large countries possessing an advanced telephone system such as Australia or the USA, there are centres from which operators can originate international calls. Today, most of the world·s telephone network is automatic·which means that these originating operators can complete their international calls without the assistance of an operator in the distant country. The automatic switch· ing equipment giving access to international circuits is located at centres known as Gateway Exchanges, and operator-originated international traffic is first of all routed over a country·s internal network to these gateway exchanges. Since the internal network therefore, carries both national and international traffic, it is easy to see that with the unrestricted access to this network provided by a Blue Box, the telephone enthusiast can himself route calls via Gateway Exchange es {provided of course, that he knows the appropriate routing codes). In this country, however, the situation is different. Until quite recently the only international operators were those located at the gateway exchange itself· that is, at London·s Faraday House·and subscribers were connected to these operators by the local operator in their own exchange or Group Switching Centre. There were no ·shared traffic· routes terminating at the automatic equipment in the Gateway exchange, as in the USA. It was
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therefore impossible for the telephone enthusiast to gain access to international routes until 1963, when subscribers were themselves allowed to dial international calls. And as a result, such access requires a I(,knowledge of the workings of International Subscriber Dialling. International Subscriber Dialling International Subscriber Dialling (ISD) is the logical extension of STD. It enables subscribers to dial their own international calls and was first introduced in this country in 1963, between London and Paris. Other areas of Europe soon be·come available and later still, North America. The service was also made available to other areas within the UK. One major problem associated with the introduction of ISD was not a technical one but concerned the agreements which had to be made between different countries regarding the charging of calls. ISD works as follows. By international agreements: every country is allocated a ·country code· (CC) examples being France (33), the UK (44), Israel (972) and the USA (1). In the UK a standard area code (10) is allocated to ISD and the call is handled by the register translators (RT·s) at the subscriber·s local exchange, in much the same way as for an ordinary STD call, the subscriber dialling an initial digit 0 to gain access to this equipment. The complete ISD dialling code is then the prefix 010 followed by the country code and then the area code within the distant country. Upon receipt of the ISD prefix, the originating RT examines the country code to check its validity and to determine the appropriate metering rate. For a valid country code, the call is then routed over the GSC trunk exchange onto direct circuits to the automatic equipment at the London International Exchange, the originating RT being then released. Until recently. one could dial, either over a trunk access or by AC9 simulation, the appropriate routing code which gives GSC’s access to the International exchange. By bypassing the RTs in this way, the equipment did not 'screen' the country code that you sent and so you could enjoy full international operator status. One example of this was Edinburgh, where the trunk routing code 515 gave you the International RTs in London.
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Such direct methods arc no longer available owing to considerable misuse, apparently by Post Office employees. It is not obvious, by the way, why one would route the call via Edinburgh instead of going directly to London. The reason is that London is sufficiently large to justify the provision of special trunk exchanges to handle STO and ISO calls exclusively and the only routes onto these is via originating RTs at the local director exchanges: there is no way to bypass these or even gain access to them incoming into London. It was Post Office policy to introduce ISO at provincial nondirector areas only over the trunk transit network, so that it was not until early 1973 that the first of these (Cardiff) had ISO. Other exchanges soon followed but for the sake of illustration we shall consider Cardiff. In September 1972 the first circuits between Cardiff and the London International Exchange appeared. By dialling Cardiff trunks and then the code 12 one received a signal intended to initialise the transfer of digits, in SSMF2 form, from the Cardiff RT to the international registers. If one's Blue Box was capable of sending SSMF2 one could respond to this signal, send whatever country code one pleased into the international registers, and again achieve international operator status. Those lucky enough to possess an SSMF2 Blue Box enjoyed the novelty of this new route to the rest of the world. The Post Office was disconcerted at this traffic appearing as soon as the circuits were installed and very quickly (ie a year later) took steps to prevent misuse. By the following February the Cardiff RTs had been programmed to accept ISO calls and the service became available to the public. (Coin boxes in Cardiff, incidentally, could not handle the high metering rate on calls to North America and so these were free of charge). TELEPHONE SYSTEMS IN OTHER COUNTRIES Once a call has been set up to another country it is possible to simulate the signalling employed over the international route and to explore the internal network of the distant country. The two most important signalling systems used over international circuits are known as CCITT 4 and CCiTTS. In the signalling system CCITT4
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digits arc sent as fourbit binary numbers using two frequencies, 2400 H3 and 2040 H3, to represent 0 and 1 respectiveIy. The control signals also use these frequencies. Digits are sent in response to signals received from the distant equipment, and the transit method of working is generally employed between different countries. (The principles of the transit working have been described in the first part of this article, as they apply to the internal trunk network in the UK). This signalling system is unsuitable for use over satellite circuits since these introduce a return signal path of about 100,000 miles in length corresponding to a time delay of some 600 milliseconds. In compelled signalling system such as CCiTT 4 this delay is added to the sending time of each digit which makes the overall setting up time for a call for too high, bearing in mind the need for efficient use of expensive satellite circuits. CCITI4 finds its main application over shorter international routes, the main areas being Europe, South America and Africa. Over intercontinental and satellite circuits the system CClTI5 is normally used. This is a high speed signalling system. Digits are sent in multifrequency (MF) form similar to the SSMF2 system already described but using different frequencies. The CCiTTS frequencies are the same as those used by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT & T) for the North American internal signalling system, which is very convenient for the Blue Box user. The two signalling systems differ only in the supervisory or control signals. The simulation of CCITT4 was of great interest to the telephone enthusiast in the early days of ISO when the international RTs handing ISD traffic had access only to those countries to which ISD was allowed. For example, Russia was first reached in this way; a call to Switzerland (which was allowed) was made and then extended to Moscow via the Warsaw transit. Since then, the equipment known as International Common Access (ICA) over which international operators connect calls, has become available for ISD traffic and most countries are now directly available to the enthusiast by the methods described above. With
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the availability of ICA interest in CCITT4 simulation has diminished. Simulation of CCITTS is simpler than for CCITT4 since one does not have to respond to backward signals and the procedure is simpler. Furthermore, with the addition of a single frequency, 2600 Hz, the simulator can be used within North America. If one is actually in North America then the procedure is indeed very simple and it requires very little effort to make calls free of charge to almost anywhere in the world. This accounts for the tremendous popularity of Blue Box in that continent, the vast majority being primarily interested in saving money on telephone bills. There are only a handful of enthusiasts interested in telephones for their own sake. It is possible to simulate the North American signalling system from the UK. The procedure is best described by means of an example. Suppose you felt inclined to telephone an adjacent phone box via America you would proceed as follows. First set up a call to, say, the Philadelphia weather forecast. Having done this you would send a short burst of 2600 Hz. This is a tone on idle supervisory frequency that is, the application of this tone will clear down the US internal circuit and its removal will reseize a circuit, the international circuit from the UK to the USA being unaffected. Next you would send (in MF form) the following digits KP212183ST. The signals KP (Key Pulse) and ST (Start) are MF signals which must enclose blocks of digits sent. This will connect you to area 212 (New York) and to the overseas sender in that Gateway, the code 183 being its internal access code. When this equipment is ready to receive digits it returns a continuous tone whereupon you send KP0441 8387062 ST . The initial zero is a dummy digit, 44 is the country code for the UK, 1 is the area code for London and this is followed, in this example, by the required Lon don number. I find the Australian telephone system much more interesting than the American. There are two independent trunk networks. Down Under the MFC (multifrequency compelled). and the 2VF (two voice frequency), handling STD and operator originated traffic respectively. As far as I know, nobody outside of Australia has managed to simulate the MFC signalling, the difficulty being that the control signals are outband (sent outside the normal 3000 Hz
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voice frequency band). But provided that one is incoming into Australia with operator status one can gain access to the 2VF network at centres such as Melbourne or Brisbane. This assumes that one knows the appropriate access codes. The 2VF network employs the AC1 signalling system, which uses two signalling frequencies: 600 Hz and 750 Hi. Digits arc sent in a similar way to AC9 signals but use the 600 Hz frequency. The supervisory signals are different, the forward clear for example, consistency of the 750 Hz tone applied for 2 seconds followed by 0.7 seconds of the 600 Hz tone. This signalling system preceded AC9 in this country and is still used to some extent. One can sometimes hear its very characteristic ·forward clear· tone over UK trunk routes when crosstalk occurs between channels using AC1. Australia has one Gateway exchange, located in Sydney, and a second coming into operation shortly. Modern Crossbar switching is employed at the Gate way, and this has the facility of restricting the access to the outgoing circuits in the transit mode to the appropriate incoming routes. This means, for instance, that if you were incoming from London, the country code 44 for the UK would not be accepted, because the equipment can recognise that calls from one part of the UK to another are not normally routed via Sydney, even though a telephone enthusiast might consider it a reasonable thing to do. In practice, transit access from Sydney to New Zealand, Hong Kong and Malaga is all that is allowed to UK traffic·which is of restricted interest to the UK telephone enthusiast since these countries are available directly via the International Common Access System. From the enthusiasts point of view it is therefore fortunate that there is a way of gaining unrestricted access to the international exchange and this works as follows. Operators in certain large exchanges, such as Adelaide, can dial their own international calls, rather than having to rely upon the international operators in Sydney. Th is traffic is routed over the 2VF network and .. as has been mentioned above, it is possible to gain access to this network incoming into Australia. This makes it possible to set up a telephone call all the way round the world.
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Firstly, set·up a call to Adelaide via New York (or some other US Gateway) and then send the 2VF access code and the 2VF routing for Sydney, all using CCITI5/USA signalling. Having allowed this connection to complete, the distant 2VF circuit will now accept AC1 signals. Using the pulsed 600 Hz signalling for the digits, one next sends the digits 99 1 442 1.838 7603 followed by a short burst of tone at 750 Hz to indicate end of signalling. The digits 99 arc the access code for the Gateway exchange, the digit 1 is used for discrimination purposes and the country code 44 is for the UK. The next digit, 2, is known asa language digit and indicates in this case that the call is being set up by an English speaking operator. The area code for London is 1 and this is followed by the required London number. This rather cumbersome procedure follows from difficulty in interfacing an older type of signalling, AC1, with the international routing equipment. A call set up in this way will be routed, via the Indian ocean satellite, back to London This feat was first achieved in the June of 1972. The term ·language digit·referred to above is rather a misnomer and originated in the days when most of the international circuits were operated manually. This meant that an originating international operator could not in general complete a call but would require the assistance of an operator in the distant country and the purpose of the language digit was to ensure that the call was routed to an assistance operator speaking a specified language. Today, the bulk of international traffic is switched automatically and furthermore the English language has become more or less universally used by international operators. A few countries such as France and Russia insist on using the French language. Spanish is used to some extent within South America but in the vast majority of cases the language digit has become redundant. Its use is however mandatory by international agreements and must be used. Many countries now have ISO and with the increase in subscriber originated traffic international agreements have come into force that require such traffic to carry the language digit zero. This is
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to allow discrimination by the incoming equipment to prevent certain types of call. For example, a subscriber is not allowed access to an assistance operator. When ISD was first introduced to New York from London one could dial New York using the published dialling code 0101 212, followed by the New York number. But instead of dialling a New York number, one could dial a further North American area code and follow this by 1211 to reach the incoming assistance operator in that area. free of charge. This gave interesting possibilities. you could call the Montreal operator and ask for Sydney, then ask Sydney for Hong Kong .. … . All of this is possible to a Blue Box user but in those days it was quite novel, and required no special equipment or dialling codes. Today, discrimination by }means of the language digit ·0· prevents all this. This language digit is automatically inserted by the London ICA equipment when accessed via ISD routes and it follows, therefore, that traffic to. say Australia (a non·ISD country) having this language digit can only have originated from a telephone enthusiast. In an attempt to thwart such activities the Australian authorities have arranged for the incoming equipment to reject incoming traffic from London with this language digit. This can only be a temporary measure since ISD to Australia will be introduced in two or three years time. In the meantime, one can route calls via the USA or, say, Copenhagen, using methods described above. Throughout the world the various telephone administrations are making increasing efforts to prevent the activities of the telephone enthusiast and it is this, I think, that will keep the hobby alive as new areas of exploration diminish. After all it is nice to beat the system but even nicer to beat the people trying to stop you. . . ..

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Laurie Beneath The Official Secrets Act
PETER LAURIE·S book Beneath the City Streets· caused a lot of interest when it first appeared in 1970. Though a major part of it was devoted to a description of nuclear warfare and its effects, the most fascinating chapter for many people was on ·Government Citadels in Britain·, in which laurie described the secret network of tunnels and shelters that runs beneath london·s pavements, the Regional Seats of Government to which civil servants and members of the Cabinet would be dispersed in time of war or revolution, and the ·hardened· communications system which would link all the Government·s vital installations in an emergency. Anyone who tries to probe below the surface gloss of Britain·s Civil and Military defences obviously runs the risk of falling foul of the dreaded Official Secrets Act. To find out how laurie has managed to stay on the right side of the bureaucrats, and to discover how he now views some of the topics raised in his book, Undercurrents went along to interview him ... ¥ , The starting point· from my point of view is Spies for Peace. There was, as you remember, tremendous agitation in Government circles about Spies for Peace .. you know, something had got out that shouldn·t have got out. The real excitement was because they were in the middle of building this very expensive set of holes in the ground. An d if there had been a big Parliamentary scandal, MP·s had stood up and said ·You·re spending a thousand million on protecting yourselves· what about us?·, they could have blown the whole deal. 50 that was why there was so much fuss. When I published much more information on the same lines, eight years later, there was no fuss at all because they·d finished. And in fact, I think that if anybody subtle in the Home Office had thought about my book he would have said:"Well, let this guy Penguin Books (2nd Ed) 1972. now (curiously) out of print·though a revised edition may be on the way.
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go ahead because when people get paranoid about holes in the ground in ten years time and they come running round saying ·Jessus, there arc these holes in the ground· we can say ·Oh, of course! Didn·t you read Laurie·s book? It was a very silly book-he was just a journalist·but you know, it·s roughly there· and they·ll say ·Oh, we didn·t know it was in a book·, you see, and they·ll go away feeling quite despondent". The Official Secrets Act I haven·t found any real problem at aiL A couple of weird guys from Chelsea came around once. I think they were M 16, or relatives of someone in M 16, trying to get me to say that I had friends in the Civil Service who told me where to look. But I wouldn·t have any of that. Afterwards, apparently, one of them went off to Greece and hasn·t been seen since, and his brother rang me up and said ·I think he was a spy, you know· and I said ·I thought you were both spies·. Anyway, that was that. And the last brush I had with them was when we published the thing in the Sunday Times about the Post Office Towers. Oh yes I saw that .. about a year ago. It ""s a whole set of pretty colour supplement pictures of microwave antennae. Well, we had the diagram out of my book on the Bagshot-Stokenchurch link and the R5G. And also, just to aggravate the Ministry of Defence, Orfordness .. and the thing about the ·line of shoot· of Orfordness. If you carry on the Great Circle, it goes through Plesetsk and Tyuratam, which are the two Russian rocket launching sites so obviously someone had drawn a line and said·where can we build this fucking thing? ·Orfordness was the only place. It \VQS an over the horizon radar installation? Yes. This led to quite an interesting interview with the D notice committee bloke. He said: "you can·t publish this". But the situation was that the magazine had been printed but hadn·t been distributed, so there was about £100,000 worth of magazines sitting in the ware house, and it was this Admiral Farnhill who had the responsibility of saying ·you·ve got to pulp it·. And he·d just started the job and we said "you·d better be right about this because you·re going to look pretty stupid if it isn·t". But he still said "Well you can·t print this stuff". And we said "Well, the Russians invented over·the·horizon radar in nineteen forty five·or whenever. Do you really think they haven·t
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noticed that there·s this great sort of river of megawatts trundling across the middle of Russia?" And he said "Well that·s as may be, but don·t let·s make their life easier for them". All this drivel. Magazines like Aviation Week· you know, ·Megadeath Weekly· they just go ahead and publish articles about over·the·horizon radar, what it looks like, how it works·but in England they·re all running about wetting themselves if W·e try to publish anything. Admiral Farnhill caved in because I said, "all this has been in my book, and the book·s been published in Australia, and the D Notice rules say that if something·s been published abroad you can publish it here! Doesn·t a D·Notice mean simply that they serve warning to you that if you publish something you are rendering yourself very likely to be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act? The way it works .. In the old days, when there were some secrets, what happened was that if you worked for the Sunday Times then they would tell you things that in America would re mildly confidential, which you wouldn·t print, and you would feel very pleased about being in on the secret, you sec. So you would tag along with it. But the whole thing has more or less collapsed now that there aren·t any secrets. There·s nothing in England that anyone would want to know. The only reason it might be secret is that all these hardened facilities con be of use in repressing insurrection. For political reasons, not defence reasons. Yes, there·s no external reason for preserving secrecy but there is still an internal reason for it. Here·s another" ludicrous example. I·m trying to do an article about Linesman air defence system. Now in America the whole thing ha, been openly debated·you know "We·ve got the radars on the coast, and here are the aircraft control centres, and this is how it works .. and it·, all of load of old ,hit because,e it doesn·t work so we·re going to go into over·the·horizon radar and airborne early warning systems!·The whole thing·s come out, because Boeing wants to sell the aeroplanes, you see.
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But over here, you mustn·t even breathe a word about it, because it·s terribly secret. And when you ,ay "But the Russian Backfire bomber flies, at 2,000 mile, an hour at fifty feet, and it·s going to be in Manchester before it·s even shown up on these radar screens" ·"that doesn·t matter!" In your book, what were the correct hits that you made, and what were the things that were wrong? Getting together with the phone freak, ha, knocked a lot of the stuffing out of my deduction, about the telephone system in London. What about that intriguing place in Hampstead coiled ·Paddock· which you mentioned in your book? That·, also crap. A guy from Dollis Hill Post Office Research rang me up and · ;aid "Everybody know, that Paddock is the name of our ping·pong room, I know it·, down 300 feet but that·, g where we play ping·pong, and keep the old amateur dramatics sets and stuff" What about your hypotheses about the Box tunnel, on the way to Bristol. Have you had any more feedback about that? There was a crowd of people that bust in there·that·, been published. They , got into the work" and they got up to a door and there were people on the other side so they didn·t kick it in. But the interesting thing there is that the underground complex at Box is going to be closed down, suddenly, because of a fire risk, though it·s been in business for 25 or 30 years, and it·s all going to be moved somewhere in Wale;. You haven·t any intimation about INhere the new location might be? Well, yes, it was in the papers, there·s no secret about that. Another study I·d like to do sometime is computer bureaux in relation to the deep·Ievel cables, because you find nearly all the computer bureaux down the Euston Road. The University of London one is in Gray·s Inn Road, just next door to Kelvin House which is the trunk exchange. There seems to be a definite correlation. I was talking to a computer bureau managing director a while ago and I asked him how he·d found a place to set up shop. He was terribly vague about it. Maybe I·m paranoid,
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but maybe the Po,t Office ,aid "look if you locate here ... ... we can give you a few extra lines, or private lines ". Also you have of course got Thames Television and Capital Radio on that strip. So that would be a nice little map for somebody to make. There are so many things you could do, you know. But when you laid them all together it would really jump out and hit you. Another thing I·d like to do is: some of the tube stations have tall airshafts, and some don·t. Warwick Avenue, for instance, has a sodding great air shaft, rut the actual platforms are about 30 feet down, and the airshaft goes right down the middle between the two platforms! Ventilating the underworld! Another study that ought to be done. You know the Home Office runs the VHF system, the police, ambulances and all that. You know these very characteristic hilltop radio stations with two pyramid masts, and one·s covered in Yagis (a type of aerial) and one·s covered with dipoles. Now if one had a good map of the way the Yagis pointed: some of them point to police stations, ambulance stations and so on. But some of them point out to the open country, and they·re pointing to Regional Seats of Government. Of course the trouble about taking pictures or taking bearings on the aerials is that there again you could be infringing the Official Secrets Act ... You wouldn·t have to publish it, though. What you could do is draw the lines on a map, and where they cross you·d go and have a look, and you·d see that there·s an awful lot of concrete and barbed wire, and you say how funny it is that at such and such a place there·s a lot of concrete and barbed wire. Did you feel, when people privileged you with showing you round some installation, that this had been taken to high level, that it was a calculated leak·or was it just that these particular people in charge saw no harm in it? No, it·s all "laid down". The most obvious example was the Home Office .. 1967, when they took me round a Regional Scat of Government. Well that was actually discussed at Cabinet level because up to then
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nobody had been allowed to sec anything. I think there are·things are organised on a lobby system in some cases. Parliamentary lobbies have access to material which I haven·t, and they are controlled by being members of the lobby. There·s no need to ask "Who is this guy" or "Is he safe?" because he·d be out of a job if he weren·t. Often, in my paranoid moments, I think I must be on a lot of blacklists but in fact they·re just as friendly to me as they are to anyone else. It·s all changing, you see. This structure was set up in the days when there was no underground press, and guys would turn up in a suit and well·that would be it. Now they·re finding it slightly difficult to adapt to not knowing who they are. They tend to assume you·re straight ... .. share everything down to the last political opinion ... .. well they lead a very quiet life, a very cloistered life .. like a monk?a very attractive life, really. I·m involved with a thing at the NCCL they·re going to have a campaign to have a good ·Public Information Act" instead of a crappy one. We·re going to try to promote a Swedish or American-style Official Information Act which lays down that anything the Government knows it must tell any citizen-except defence secrets, and personal information. As a journalist in Sweden, you have a right to go into any Civil Servant·s Office and turn his files out on the floor. I think the importance of this is not so much in changing the Law, as in changing Civil Servants· attitudes. They·d have to think up reasons why they shouldn·t tell you things, rather than why they should tell you. Like in America. Going back to the Government Communications System·it·s basically as I said in the book. There·s the backbone microwave system·and there are these nice little touches. You know that in the middle of Liverpool they·ve built this ·Observation Tower·. Well if you plot on a map the microwave link from Winter Hill, North West of Manchester, to a place called Moel·y·Parc, the TV transmitter in Flintshire, the beam goes smack through Liverpool, and the top of that observation tower just comes into it. Anyway the backbone system gives you TV and broadband links to city centres, and then there·s the cable system·the trunk telephone cables. That·s in the book, too. Then there·s the VHF system, which really just links police offices out to
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more suitable transmitter sites. What about the coaxial cable links, between RSGs. As far as I know there were 17 RSGs built, and then there are these Local Authority places as well. There·s a hierarchy of hardened telephone exchanges·you go to an RSG, and there·s an ordinary Private Branch Exchange and it gives you links to York Castle, and Dover Castle, and all the rest of the RSGs. In telephone exchanges, you can throw a switch which cut out all of us, and leaves what·s necessary for the Government system. And there are by·passes·you know, if a telephone exchange in London gets blown up, you can still go round by Cambridge and Tunbridge Wells. The Royal Observer Corps system of Observation posts·where does it fit in? The ROC is an RAF thing·it lets them know what the enemy is doing, and how many of our guys are dead. It is also useful for the Home Office·and this is a way of selling the system to people. They don·t say ·this is to help us to fight a nuclear war·, they say ·this is so we can keep the nasty radioactive cloud. off you·. The Regional Seats of Government they·re controlled by the Home Office, is that right ... ? Yes. During the war, the Home Office was called the Ministry of Home Defence. which is what it is, and its role is to enable Government to go on in tough situations. Civil Defence has really become a formality·there isn·t much the Home Office can do during an actual attack. Where it does come into its own is in running the country after the attack, or during a revolution. Then, the Military would be ",quite subordinate. The Government. via the Home Office. would be controlling both the military and the police in such a situation .. ? It would be the Cabinet, actually. Yes, but the actual instrument of control would be the Home Office. Yes. Look at Northern Ireland. That·s a model of the whole thing_ OK, you need a hardened headquarters, but a lot of activity goes on in the ordinary police stations·sandbags in the windows, Special Branch in the interrogation rooms. The telephones may not work, because the urban guerillas have got the exchanges, but the hardened communications systems are all right. It·s all happening right now in front of your eyes.
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Every question you want to ask is being answered over there ... ,


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Anon Above The City Streets
FORTY·FIVE television cameras connected direct to New Scotland Yard are to be installed in Central London streets. Operators in the control centre will be able, probably by the end of 1975, to pan, tilt, focus and zoom each camera by remote control. The cameras are part of the Greater London Council·s CITRAC (Central Integrated Traffic Control) scheme, which also involves computer·controlled traffic lights. The decision by the GLC to extend the scheme over the whole of London follows the claimed success of the West London .experiment which covered 6% square miles and involved eight cameras. You may have noticed them on blocks of flats at Shepherds Bush and North Kensington, or above the busy Knightsbridge junction. These more ambitious plans are revealed in the Spring 1974 issue of the Post Office Telecommunications Journal. The Post Office's role in the television scheme is to provide the transmission system which will link the cameras and the Yard. Some of the cables will run under the pavements, but where possible they will be placed in the Post Office's deep·level tunnels, for added security. "There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment ... it was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. " · George Orwell. 1984 Besides the traffic control cameras, existing and planned, there is another network, used by the police specifically for ·crowd control·. Sites mentioned by the New Scientist (30 May 1974) were Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and Grosvenor Square, three of the usual locations for demonstrations and public meetings. The traffic and crowd control systems can, according to the same article, be interfaced at any time ·though this can only be regarded as an added electronic convenience, since even if the systems were not capable of interconnection, there would always be room in the control room for a Special Branch man to stand looking over the traffic cop·s shoulder. The next stage of the CITRAC scheme may call for a further 150 cameras in outer London, and it is said that similar schemes are envisaged in many of the larger towns in this country during the next decade. The Post Office is already developing cheaper CCTV transmission systems, using
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narrower bandwidth, to suit the smaller city. Though no details are given, this could mean cutting bandwidth from the 6 MHz used in London to about 1 MHz, and reducing picture quality. from 625 lines to about 200. This would eliminate the. need for special coaxial cables, since an ordinary telephone circuit can usually handle 1 MHz, at least as far as the telephone exchange where the TV signal could be ·rescued·. Perhaps the Post Office has at last found a use for the years of development which its Dollis Hill research station put into the View· phone, a TV ·telephone which has never been released to subscribers. Most of the expertise needed to send somewhat grainy TV pictures zapping around l:beneath the pavements everywhere is already in the PO·s grasp. And cities desperate to clear the traffic·jams of the seventies will find themselves (by chance or by intention?) ready to zoom in on the mass riots of the eighties.


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Anon People’s radio primer
THE IDEA of providing a general introduction to People·s Radio and the liberated uses of communications technology is one that has been festering away in the back of Undercurrents Gestalt mind since we did the ·Community Radio· pamphlet in Undercurrents 1. The Medium Wave and VH F transmitters and the other items described here will work (touch wood) if you build them according to the instructions but in addition to that I have tried to suggest several directions for improvements in each case, and a brief description of what is happening inside the ·black box·. Inevitably, with so little space I have had to leave one or two ghosts· inhabiting the ·machine· The assumptions that I have made in presenting the material are a) an ability to read a circuit diagram b) some experience of soldering an d metal work at least enough to put the circuit together, and c) an elementary knowledge of electronics and electronic terminology (what a valve is, what is meant by impedance, etc.). There isn·t really much point in starting to build a transmitter without what I would term a ·crystal set· level of competence in electronics, any more than you would make a clinker built row·boat your first project in carpentry. However, the inherent satisfaction gained by most people from radio construction is sufficient to ensure that the little bit of expertise and familiarity needed is gained very quickly indeed. Magazines like Practical Wireless, Radio Constructor, and The Short Wave Magazine provide a good general introduction to the field for the total novice, and there are many introductory and ·Teach Yourself· books on the market. Legal Aspects Until recently, the main Act of Parliament relating to broadcasting and telecommunications was the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1949, which most people considered very wide-ranging in its operation. It was an offence not only to use a transmitter without a (highly restrictive) licence, but it was also illegal simply to receive, intentionally, transmissions not intended for public dissemination. Like all Acts, its applicability ended at the ·three mile limit·, and it did not cover transmissions from ships or aircraft registered in the UK while they were outside Crown territory. This loophole made possible the proliferation of the off·shore ·pirate· stations in the late 50s/early 60s, and was closed by the passing in 1967 of the
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·Marine etc., Broadcasting (Offences) Act·, usually called the Marine Offences Act. This made it illegal for a broadcast to be made from any type of craft with a British registration, no matter where it happened to be, and also forbade the purchase of advertising time or even the supply of goods and services to such stations. Very few offshore stations survived this legislation, but some of the more unusual modes of broadcasting (such as the ·modulated light· system mentioned in the last section of this article) were s@ legal, and plans were rapidly drawn up by commercial companies and other groups to exploit them for domestic transmissions. This final loophole was closed in the Post Office Act, 1969, which gave the Post Office new powers quite staggering in their extent. The relevant section is 24, headed ·Exclusive Privilege of the Post Office with respect to Telecommunication·:· · ... the Post Office shall have throughout the British Islands, the exclusive privilege of running systems for the conveyance, through the agency of e l e c t r i c , m a g n e t i c , e l e c t r o · m a g n e t i c , e l e c t r o · ch e m i c a l o r electro·mechanical energy of : a) speech, music, and other sounds; b) visual images; c) signals serving for the impartion ... of any matter otherwise than in the form of sound or visual images; and d) signals serving for the actuation or control of machinery or apparatus.· The penalties under the act are: a fine not exceeding £400; two years imprisonment; or both. So, most of the items described in this article are, in a word, illegal. Even those which are commercially available such as mains intercoms · violate the act if the whole communications system is not contained within the same premises. This situation is quite indefensible. Such censorship would not be tolerated with respect to the spoken or written word. There is no valid argument against throwing open some sections of the radio spectrum for unrestricted communications and broadcasting · an indispensable part of any attempt to keep a de·centralised society communicating. The cohesion and community spirit evoked by the radio stations in such revolutionary settings as Greece, Northern Ireland, and Portugal was enormous. Potentially, small radio stations could link together a nationwide network of communes, collectives and ·Street Farmhouses·. The Travelling People might be invited to join in, and could add a whole
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anarchic sub·structure built on simple friendship, to the hierarchic, stratified and calcified society around us. This, at any rate, is the dream. And "lest this article as it stands be regarded as actionable, I must point out that everything which follows is intended to apply either to those few enlightened countries where such devices are legally permissible, or to that bright future day when all these repressive Acts have been repealed or, better still, government itself abolished, and ordinary mortals like you and I have the freedom of the airwaves. .... Project One Medium Wave Transmitter The medium wave is familiar to everyone. It is the main radio entertainment wave band, and practically all domestic radios receive it. Low·power medium wave transmitters provide very reliable, good·quality dissemination of programmes over a radius of 2 . 10 miles: almost everyone inside that radius will be able to receive the station. The disadvantages are> 1) possible interference from stations on adjacent frequencies, particularly at night when ionospheric conditions cause a large number of Continental stations to be received at high strength in this country. MW equipment may re of very little effectiveness in the late evening/night. 2) Ease of detection. MW transmitters need large aerials, which are usually visible from outside the building (see the section on aerials for a possible solution), and can easily be located accurately by distant Po,t Office receivers. 3) Fairly ,substantial powers (and consequently power·supplies) are necessary, which makes the M. W. transmitter generally less portable than, say, VHF units, and tends to negate any benefit which might accrue from the use of transistors. The equipment to be described here uses valves and a mains power supply unit but i, ,till quite ,mall and can be made easily portable. Many variations are possible on the basic design, and the performance of the unit is good. If any constructor encounters difficulties in building/
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operating this, or any of the other units a letter c/o Undercurrents will bring advice and sympathy! The block diagram of a medium wave AM transmitter using valves and an external modulator is shown in Fig. 1. Each section will be dealt with separately, though of course it will be most convenient to build all the sections shown on the same chassis. Basically. the mode of operation is as follows: the radio frequency RF oscillation which will become the carrier wove is produced by the oscillator section. The RF current is passed on to the next stage, the buffer/driver for amplification. This, high amplitude RF current is then used to drive stage 3 . the power amplifier (PA). The Direct Current (DC) input power to the power amplifier valve is the ·power· of the transmitter, usually stated in watts. FI<13. THE;. "l>U.MM·f" c..RY.5TP\L. The audio signal, called the modulation, is fed in series with the power supply to the power amplifier valve. The audio amplifier providing this audio signal is conventionally about half as powerful (in watts) as the transmitter, though 20·30 % extra audio drive may be needed to compensate for losses in transformers and general inefficiency. The transformer which matches the modulation signal to the PA valve is called the modulation transformer. The pi network, named because of its resemblance to the Greek IT i, another impedance matching device to couple or ·load· the aerial in to the transmitter. It· operational theory i, beyond the scope of this article. The final section, the power supply, is merely a transformer, rectifiers and smoothing circuitry, which supplies heater current and high tension to the valves in the normal manner. The modulating signal is assumed to be derived from an external audio amplifier, though of course there is no reason why this could not be constructed on the same chassis as the transmitter. Section One · Oscillator The circuit shown in Fig. 2 is a simple Colpitt· oscillator. Any small RF
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pentode ,such as the EF91, EF80 or EF 184 will work well in this, circuit. When a crystal is plugged into the holder the oscillator will work on one fixed frequency (the crystal frequency). But it is also possible to make the oscillator tunable. To do this, a ·dummy· crystal is plugged in, which consists of a coil on a small former, in series with a 1000 pf capacitor and fixed to a discarded crystal·base or a similar two pin connector (Fig.3). The tuning capacitor CV (which ,should have a slow·motion drive) will then tune a substantial part of the medium waveband around 200 metres, which i, the recommended region for low·power operation. Crystal, have the advantage of great frequency stability, but this, also makes them ·inflexible·. The tunable Variable Frequency Oscillator (VFO) mode i, less stable in frequency but more adaptable and versatile. Medium wave crystals can ·so prove quite difficult to obtain. When operating with a crystal in the holder the variable capacitor CV will have no significant effect and can be ignored. In general, VFO, ,should be well screened electrically and well ventilated, but on low frequencies, such as MW, they are not too critical. Section Two Buffer·/Driver This, is a very ,simple stage (Fig. 4), used to amplify the ,signal from the oscillator to a level sufficient to drive the final power amplifier and also to prevent possible interaction between the VFO tuned circuit and pi network tuning. Any small power tetrode, such as the 6V6, is suitable, as is a power pentode ,such as the EL91. The EL84 is not recommended as it has a very high gain and tends to produce ·ringing· or self oscillation in this circuit. Sections Three and Four PA & PI Network For convenience, these two sections can be treated together, as it is not proposed to discuss the pi network in detail. The circuit (Fig. 5) is a milli ammeter straightforward class C amplifier, whose grid bias is derived from rectified grid current. When the stage is working correctly a milli ammeter inserted at point Y with the positive lead to earth (and ,suitably de·coupled with respect to RF by a shunting capacitor) ,should give a reading of between 1.5 and 2.5 mA. This, can be
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checked without connecting high tension to the valve, as it is derived from the driver alone. The· second and more important metering point is point X, where (if it i, at all possible) a milli ammeter with a scale reading 1á100 mA ,haul d be permanently incorporated. Almost any ,surplus, meter can be adapted to this, sensitivity by suitable shunting. The negative meter lead is in this case earthed, and the instrument should once again be de·coupled with respect to RF by means of a capacitor of at least 5000 pf. If the meter has a DC resistance in excess of 1 ohm or thereabouts it is preferable to wire it in series with the modulation transformer, but it must then be well insulated all over from contact with the chassis. The EL36 is a very satisfactory valve for MW transmitters, but many others are also suitable. The 807 (now obsolete) is excellent as are most beam tetrodes, but few perform as well on ·low· high-tension voltages as the EL36. The pi network coil L 1 (Fig. 6) is probably the most critical item in any transmitter, and some experiment may be necessary to obtain optimum results. It is a good idea to leave a number of ·tapping points· when winding a pi network coil so that the effective length can be varied easily. Footnote. If any parasitic oscillation or other instability is encountered. a ferrite bead may be slipped around anode lead at point Z. Section Five · Power Supply Unit A standard receiver type PSU (Fig. 7) is all that is necessary for this transmitter, provided the same PSU does not power a modulator or any additional equipment. The choke CI can be ·liberated· from an old TV set PSU, or purchased along with the mains transformer. Assembly The most convenient base on which to build the transmitter is a Henry·s Radio aluminium chassis and front panel, or any small metal case which is to hand. The lay·out is in no respect critical, but tidiness generally will help to avoid trouble later. Fig. 8 offers a suggested lay·out for the unit. There is a switching convention for transmitters which simplifies the operating procedure, and it is suggested that a function switch be
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incorporated in the wiring between the PSU and the other stages as shown in Fig. 9. The ·net· position allows the oscillator and buffer/driver to be switched on without the PA, which is useful for tuning the transmitter to a ·blank· channel, checking for interference, etc. Operation Only very brief detail, can be given, though experience on·the·air will soon fill in the gaps. The operations arc numbered so that this section may be used as a ·check·list· when operating. 1. Connect mains, aerial, earth and modulator .. A simp Ie method of applying modulation is to use an old loudspeaker transformer in reverse as a modulation transformer, and convey the modulating signal to the transmitter along a piece of ordinary flex from an amplifier which may be up to 5 · 10 feet away(Fig. 10). Alternatively, of course, modulation of any impedance can be matched to the transmitter by the selection of a suitable modulation transformer. 2. Turn on a sensitive receiver and check that the channel to be used is clear. Use the ·net· position on the transmitter to produce a weak carrier. On ·Transmit· the receiver will be totally overloaded (and possibly damaged). 3. Switch off the receiver. Turn pi network capacitor PCL to maximum capacity (fully meshed vanes). 4. Observe the panel meter. Switch to ·transmit· and adjust PCT .Quickly for minimum current reading on the meter. Undue delay may cause heating of the EL36 valve, the chokes, or transformers, or possibly failure of a component. NEVER AllOW THE POWER AMPLIFIER TO SIT ·OFF RESONANCE· (with the meter anywhere other than at the bottom of its ·dip·). 5. Open the vanes of PCl slightly and retune PCT until the meter needle is back at the bottom of its ·dip·. The new ·dip· will not be quite as low as the first one. Repeat this operation until the meter is reading about 40·50 ma at the bottom of its ·dip·, 40 ma represents a transmitter power of 10 watts, 50 ma a power of 12.5 watts. The difference to a listener is barely detectable. Remember that you will need to be able to supply at least half this power in audio to modulate the signal fully · and much more when the modulation transformer is an output transformer. The whole process of adjusting the pi network is
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usually called ·loading up·, 6. The carrier wave is now being radiated by the aerial and there is nothing left to do but apply modulation one should give to the transmitter. Excessive modulation (called ·overmodulation·) causes distorted reception and interference (·splatter·) to adjacent stations. Insufficient modulation merely wastes transmitter power and reduces the effective range of the signal. In this brief section we have assumed that everything was set up perfectly and worked from the moment it was switched on. In practice, things may not go as smoothly as that by any means, but all problems will ultimately yield to logical analysis. Transmitters are at least fairly rational in their behaviour. Aerials The medium wave aerial/earth system is a very important factor in overall results. Firstly, for setting·up, testing modulation, etc. the aerial/earth system may be replaced with a 15W electric light bulb. With experience a great deal can be learned about the general health of a transmitter by observing the brightness and behaviour of such a ·lamp load·. (Fig. 11). For medium wave transmission, the earth system is almost as important as the aerial. Ideally, a SHORT length of stout copper wire should be led from the transmitter to a copper plate buried in moist soil. Two or three copper pipes, hammered in to the ground and strapped together at the top provide a good alternative. In an emergency, a . cold water pipe often provides quite a good earth connection, but of course its properties will not be so predictable. Connections should not be made to copper pipes carrying gas. A typical medium wave aerial for low power work consists of a long horizontal length of copper wire, supported as high as possible above the ground and fed at one end (Fig. 12). The aerial wire is insulated off the support wires by egg insulator> and kept well in the clear, as far away as possible from metal objects such as water·tanks or telephone equipment, etc.
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When such an aerial approximates to one quarter of a wavelength or half a wavelength it becomes more efficient (e.g, on 220 metres, 110 or 55 m. of wire would be ideal). However, halfwave end fed wires may·present loading problems, and quarter wave are therefore recommended. In difficult conditions, for example, inside a flat, an alternative which is quite surprisingly efficient is the aluminium cooking·foil aerial (Fig. 13). Two (or more) rolls of foil are merely sellotaped to the ceiling and joined together at one end. Project Two A VHF Transmitter There are enormous problems involved in the design of VHF frequency modulated (FM) transmitters for entertainment)l broadcasting purposes. The major difficulty is perhaps the insensitivity of the run·of the mill FM receiver, and its poor performance in de·modulating narrow·band FM, which is the popular amateur mode. luckily, the short·comings of such receivers can also be exploited, as they will not normally discriminate very strongly against AM and can be ·deceived· by a mixture of both modes. Additionally, most FM receivers employ automatic frequency control (AFC) which means that slight transmitter carrier ·drift· is not important. These peculiarities of FM receiver design should allow very crude circuitry to be used (for simplicity) without any significant reduction in performance. The circuit described here uses only two semiconductors in a push·pull oscillator circuit, giving a large fraction of a wall out at about 90 MHz. A typical FM transmitter for amateur band operation would employ a quartz crystal oscillator, half a dozen transistors and up to twenty inductors, many of them tuned. Modulation would be derived from a capacity diode such as the BA 102, or a specially wound transformer acting on the driver stages as well as the final amplifier. It would be complex in design, rather critical in construction, and require accurate instruments for setting up and alignment. Clearly something quite different was needed for our purposes. The circuit finally evolved (Fig. 14) has no particular underlying theory (!) and the best thing that can be said about it is that it works. Frequency drift is minimised by good screening and rigid wiring, but can not be finally
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eliminated. The tuning and aerial matching is accomplished by a novel and quite effective system employing only two trimmers. The unit may be built on a piece of ·veroboard·, 3" long by 2" wide. This should be mounted inside a small metal box leaving holes for adjusting the beehive trimmers. This will help to minimise ·hand capacity· and other sources of frequency ·pulling·. A suggested lay·out is shown below, but is in no respect critical. Some form of cooling fins will be needed on both transistors when operating on 12 volts, and are strongly advisable on 9 volt operation. A small field strength meter is needed for setting up the transmitter, together with an FM receiver. The transmitter, modulator and aerial should first be connected up and fixed rigidly ,in position to minimise mechanical movement. About "I watt of audio is required at about 3á8 ohms impedance. The ·extension speaker· socket of any valve radio or amplifier will do, and many transistor devices also have suitable outputs. The setting·up procedure is as follows:. Tune the receiver to a blank channel near 90 or 95 MHz. Screw both beehive trimmers fully in and switch transmitter on. The field·strength meter should register a signal. Slowly unscrew both beehive trimmers, about y.. turn at a time, keeping them in step with one another. The signal will eventually arrive on the receiver frequency. Keep the receiver well back from the transmitter, with its aerial collapsed to avoid over·loading. When the operating frequency has been located, the aerial loading procedure is as follows:á Open one of the trimmers y.. turn. Retune the transmitter on to frequency with the other trimmer. Observe whether the signal strength has increased or decreased on the field·strength meter. If it has increased open the same trimmer y.. turn and re·tune again. Continue this process until a reduction in signal strength is noted on the meter. Return to the position of maximum strength. If the initial y.. turn causes the signal strength to decrease then an imbalance in the opposite direction is required and the ·setting· (as opposed to the ·tuning·) trimmer
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should be screwed inwards in y.. turn steps instead of outwards. This seemingly complex procedure amounts to finding the maximum output position for CVl and CV2 on any given frequency. Once this point has been found the trimmers may be sealed if desired, but any alteration in the aerial system may require a revised setting. This transmitter is suitable for mobile transmissions from a car using a standard car aerial, and a range of about two miles in line of vision may be expected. The audio quality is very satisfactory if the modulation is not turned up too high. The field strength meter used in setting·up need not be more elaborate than a ·crystal·set· connected to a milliameter (Fig. 16). Additional Notes There is no reason why constructors should not experiment with other transistors (perhaps of higher power rating) .n this circuit. I f the coverage is 110t correct when the unit is built, it may be extended towards the HF end of the band (nearer 100 MHz end) by ·stretching· out the turns of the coil physically, like extending a spring. Coverage may be shifted towards 80 MHz by adding a capacitor across the entire coil. As the circuit works at low RF impedance quite a large valve, of the order of 100PF, may be needed. Allow some time for the transistors to stabilize in temperature before finally adjusting the transmitter on to its channel. Avoid operating the unit without an aerial (or dummy load) JS the transistors may dissipate excessive heat. PROJECT THREE ·WIRE·LESS· INTER·COMM This project, in which several ideas have been drawn together. is one for the experimenter. I am using as a starting point the fact that there are several methods of transmitting information electronically·even .... without the use of ·physical· conductors·which are not normally labelled ·radio·. (A purist might wish to argue that their design is subsumed under the same general laws, but that need not trouble us here). Let us suppose that one central point is to be kept in ·wireless· contact with several other points, either fixed or mobile (e.g. people working on a communal farm). Our experimenter, faced with this problem, would have
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a number of alternatives from which to choose, and the actual choice would depend on the detailed requirements of the situation. The units to be described allow a large number of options as to both transmission and reception modes. Despite this great versatility, they are very simple to construct. A. THE BASIC TRANSMITTER This unit produces the ·outgoing· signal for either (i) a simple ·loop· inductance system (ii) a carrier borne ·loop· system (iii) injection into the mains or (iv) ground conduction (with or without a carrier). The theory of each system cannot be discussed here, but details for setting up and typical performances will be given. The unit is mains powered, using a power supply unit identical to that of the medium wave transmitter (Project One). It consists of two power output valves, one used as an oscillator for the carrier· borne modes, the other as an audio output valve for ·audio·only· modes and a modulator valve when the carrier is in use. The transformer T.1 is any small output transformer intended to match the valves in use to a 3 or 5 ohm loudspeaker . It is in no respect critical. B. THE BASIC RECEIVER The idea here is to utilise a standard pocket transistor radio as a ·universal amplifier· for several modes of reception. It requires only a minimum of interference with the receiver, leaving its performance unaltered, but putting the earpiece socket out of commission. With the more expensive receivers in which the earpiece socket is not linked directly to the speaker but to a pre·amplifier stage trouble may possibly be encountered, but in essence the adaption is still the same. It is just a matter of removing the connections to the output socket and connecting the wires together so that the radio ·plays· normally. The new wiring to the volume control will provide the necessary muting (when the receiver is in use as an amplifier) quite automatically. To use the receiver as a ·universal amplifier· this wiring is first bypassed
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(FIG 19). As a check that this has been done correctly, ensure that the radio continues to play with the earpiece plugged in to its socket, and that no output is obtained from the earpiece under these conditions. The next operation involves interrupting or breaking one of the inputs to the volume control. Usually the volume control is wired as shown in FIG 20, and the required connection is the centre or ·slider· connection, but exceptionally the control may be wired as in FIG 21, in which case the ·top· connection (the one most distant from the earth connection) is the one which must be used. The correct wire may be simply identified:· when it is broken and the volume control stub (not the stub leading to the chassis) is touched, a hum will be heard, varying in loudness with the volume control. If this does not occur then the wrong wire has been broken and it is necessary to start again. When the correct wire has been identified two shielded cables are led to the redundant earpiece socket (one from each stub end) and wired as in Figure 22. If this wiring has been completed correctly, the receiver should play normally until a microphone or some other input is connected to the earpiece socket. The plug being inserted should then mute the radio, and the unit should operate as an audio amplifier, still responding normally to the volume control. C. SIGNAL TRANSFER SYSTEMS (i) SIMPLE LOOP A loop of wire (around a room, or an entire building, or even a larger area) will induce a voltage to flow in the loop and will produce a similar, reduced voltage in any coil of wire inside that loop. This is exactly the same power·transfer which takes place in any kind of transformer. (FIG 23). The loop may be connected up to either the ·audio output· or the ·carrier output· of the multi·mode transmitter. The use of carrier is likely to give a greatly enhanced range, but may interfere with other electronic apparatus and is less ·private·. The basic receiver circuits for reception of either mode are shown in FIG 24.
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(ii) MAINS INJECTION The multimode transmitter can be used to induce a signal into the mains wiring of a building, and this signal will be received virtually anywhere in the service area of the CEGB sub·station which serves that building. This might be all along a road or within a block serving several roads. The basic transmit/receive circuits are shown in Figure 25 (A, B, C). For distant reception an extra audio pre·amplifier stage may be useful. The stage shown can be incorporated in any of the receiver circuits shown here. (iii) GROUND CONDUCTION This was a mode of communication used for field telephones in the first World War, now largely abandoned. It operates by reason of the ·dipole effect·the physical separation of two points at different positions in a conductive medium with resistance. (FIG 16) In all practical aspects this system is equivalent to the mains borne transmission system. The ·carrier· output sockets on the transmitting unit arc connected to two earths, spaced apart physically in the ground. The circuit of figure 25 (B) is used to receive the signal at the remote location, using two similar earths. Results can also be obtained using audio alone and connecting the Anyone who·s done a little school physics will know that x·rays, infra·red radiation, visible light and radio waves are all part of a continuous spectrum of electro·magnetic radiation, and differ essentially only in frequency. We are familiar with the use of radio waves for the transmission of sound and other forms of information, but less aware, perhaps, that a beam of light (or any 01 the other types of electromagnetic radiation) would serve for the same purpose. In fact a beam of visible or infra·red light is quite an efficient information carrier, and aided by such modern developments as lasers and fibre·optics the use of light is likely to become a prominent feature of telecommunications. A modulated light (ML) broadcasting system is exactly what was envisaged by the Radio Love group in London back in 1967. A gallium·arsenide semi·conductor laser would fire a beam of light up a tall tubular tower, at the top of which a conical/convex reflector would
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deflect it outwards _ This earths directly to the receiver amplifier. but the range is greatly reduced. Due to the enormous variations in the wetness and chemical composition of soils the results are very unpredictable, but a range of several miles can be achieved if the carrier mode is used. ream could be received on equipment generally similar to that described here. An additional refinement would have been the simultaneous transmission of several programmes by the use of multiple sub·carriers falling within the medium waveband. A transistor radio could then form the greater part of the receiver apparatus (Fig 27). Amusingly enough, when this system was envisaged the only part of the operation which could have contravened the Wireless Telegraphy Act was the ·free air· link between the receiver amplifier and the transistor radio. Now, since the 1969 Post Office Act, the system would be clearly illegal. At its absolute simplest, modulated light can be generated using the circuit of Fig 28. If the ·Universal Transmitter· audio output is used to power this arrangement great care must be taken not to ·blow· the bulb by turning the volume control up too high. Correct modulation will be seen as a perceptible, but not excessive increase in the bulb·s brightness on peaks of speech. The modulated beam, being weak, needs to be directed to the receiver by means of a lens or, preferably, a mirror. An ordinary concave shaving·mirror is ideal for this purpose. The bulb should be held at the focus of the mirror by a piece of stout iron wire (FIG·!9) The most convenient form of receiver uses a similar optical system with a light·sensitive transistor or diode at its focus. The light·sensitive element is connected to an amplifier and the original sound is recovered, as with a simple radio transmission system. Many variations in ·receiver· design are possible, and no components are critical. FIG X shows a complete circuit which I used for a number of years and which proved very sensitive. However the Texas Instruments H60 is now difficult to obtain, and phototransistors such as the OCP71 and various silicon photo·devices are more popular. Practically any photosensitive element will serve, with a
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little experimentation, but not the ORP12 cell or similar ·light dependent resistors· (or solar cells for that matter). These respond too slowly to follow the variations in the modulation. There is no reason why a ·receiver head· (FIG 30) should not be built to plug in to the ·universal amplifier·. A glass·type OC71 may be converted into a (slightly crude) phototransistor merely by scraping off the black paint. Similarly the metal·bodied BC107, 108, 109 series can be converted into remarkably efficient photo devices by carefully filing away the top of the metal can, cooling frequently with water or a volatile liquid to avoid over·heating the junction Finally, a complete light·telephone unit may be constructed by mounting two mirrors side·by·side at each location, using one to transmit continuously and the other to receive continually in each case. An absolute range of several hundred yards is possible, even with the 2.5 volt bulbs specified, but beyond about 50 yards the mechanical adjustment and rigidity of the optical systems becomes a major problem. ¥


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Macdonald Ham Radio and TV: The Big Switch·on is Beginning
HERE IN THE United State, we·re exploring some alternative uses of amateur radio. The basic idea is to put amateur hardware and frequencies into the hands of people actively trying to get their own lives and their world into somewhat better shape. In Peter Harper·s AT ,spectrum (,see Undercurrents 6) it would probably be clarified as ·RAT! Te· with such features as user control, low cost per mile·hour of communication over the life of the equipment, and relatively low environmental impact. The equipment itself use, high technology components which are not readily manufacturable on a cottage industry basis. It is very much survival technology, however, if you get your rig and bag of spare parts before the industrial collapse. While there are some people rubbing their hand, gleefully in anticipation of such a collapse. they must be envisioning a sort of gentle disintegration. An abrupt collapse would probably result in the starvation of millions, with marauding band, of armed people combing the country,side for food. There would be no escape, even for back·to·the·Iand people_ One of your countrymen, Robert Theobald, considers the primary task of our time to be ·Rebuilding Grand Central Station while keeping the trains running·_ We·re trying to establish communication links and activities that aid the rebuilding process and minimize the chances of an unmanageable collapse. Current Activities Radio broadcasting is basically a one· way medium where those in control decide what will be aired, and there are few opportunities for listener involvement and feedback. Ham radio, on the other hand, is a two·way medium permitting real·time dialogue at a distance. (Oneway ·broadcasting· by radio amateurs is actually illegal.) One of our first activities, launched in September 1973, we call the New Direction, Roundtable. On Sunday afternoon, we gather at 1900 GMT on a frequency of 14253 KHz. Participant, check in from many sections of the US and Canada. Sometimes we just share what is on our minds. Other weeks we have relatively structured sessions where one of the group makes a ·presentation· on some topic, followed by a question/ answer/rap session. Often there is a Cop Macdonald at home in Minnesota with his home radio and SSTV equipment. The unit with the round screen is an oscilloscope he
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converted into a slow·scan TV monitor. (Slow·scan pictures are normally viewed with subdued room lighting to maximize contrast.) ·guest of the day· who participates directly from one of the stations. or by telephone ·patched· into some station·s transmitter and receiver. We have done book reviews (Limits to Growth and I·m OK · You·re UK), had .. "ion, on the energy crisis" the work/job/employment scene, organic gardening, agribiz, computer networking, the women·s movement, and media. Scheduled for the near future are sessions with the aforementioned Robert Theobald talking about the transition he sees from the Industrial Age to the Communication Age; Don Marier of Alternative Sources of Energy magazine, and Nicholas Johnson. (He·s a former FCC Commissioner, a candidate for Congress, and amazingly, a very together guy). On a typical Sunday we will have a dozen to fifteen stations involved. This group size is small enough to allow participation by everyone. For the Marier and Johnson sessions we·re experimenting for the first time with advance publicity in one of the national ham magazines. It will be interesting to see if a really large session can be made to work. There is a group of ·regulars· who participate in most sessions, and some additional stations which just happen upon the activity and drop in. The core group is made up mostly of people oriented to alternatives and change. The transients, however, often represent the reactionary majority of the ham population, and we·ve had a few out·and·out fascists advocating ·retroactive birth control· and world·war III as solutions to the world·s problems. I think of these folks as fellow victims of a culture that has screwed us all up. This helps me to continue to regard them as human beings while disagreeing with their point of view. AIso, looking back over my own changes of outlook during the last ten years helps to keep me from being too strongly convinced that I myself have the answer! The only real difficulties we have encountered so far are the same ones that affect all amateur radio activities: the erratic nature of the ionosphere as a radio mirror, and interference from other stations sharing the same band of frequencies. The Roundtable stations use single-sideband voice transmission which is standard practice on the HF (high frequency or shortwave) amateur bands these days. Reception of these signals requires either a receiver designed for ham use, or a shortwave receiver with a BFO (beat frequency oscillator). Since most home·type shortwave receivers do not have this
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feature, broadcasting to the general public is a technical impossibility, even if we wanted to (which we don·t). Our philosophy has been to operate ,strictly by the rules. These rules allow us to do almost anything we·d like to do. The law in this case protects our activities, and we arc happy to cooperate. I might mention that the US is unusually liberal about the content of amateur communications. They can·t involve ·pecuniary interests ·secret codes ·profanity·, nor ·music· . but these restrictions present no real problems. We are not otherwise restricted as to content, and are..allowed to let others communicate over our stations and to transmit ·third party· messages for others. Many countries having nationally owned telephone and telegraph system, (including most Commonwealth nations) are wary of people finding a way around the state·s communication monopoly via ham radio. I don·t know what the exact situation is within Britain. 1 I know that there is no ·third party agreement between the two countries. This means that the international regulations which prohibit third party communications prevail between us, and limit international communications between amateur stations in the US and Britain to ·messages of a technical nature relating to tests, and to remarks of a personal character for which by reason of their unimportance, recourse to the public telecommunications service is not justified·. The story I·ve heard is that the US would be happy to enter into a ·third·party agreement· with any country, and that lack of an agreement means that the other country is not willing. (You might want to check this out at your end.) The US currently has agreements with 25 countries, mostly in latin America. Another current activity is the Alternative Sources of Energy Net. This is our first try at repetitive roundtables devoted to one specific topic. Several members of the group live in rural areas and the primary focus so far has been on wind generators. Frank Thompson (WOOD) installed many of the famous Jacobs low RPM 2KW units back in the thirties. He is now in the process of rewinding a car alternator for 110 volts to minimize the power loss from the generator to the house. Jim Stamper (WA4HUB) just tracked down some information on NASA·s vertical axis experimental unit. Ray Martin (WA5CCl) powers his rig from a methane fueled single cylinder engine, and has some experience with the savonius rotor approach to capturing wind energy. Our goals are somewhat diffuse, but include keeping each other abreast of what is going on, trying
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to minimize re·invention in our own projects, and acting as a resource group to help communes and individuals with their energy projects. It·s almost a cliche that many British visitors to the US have a hard time grasping the size of the place. It is, of course, 3000 miles between coasts, and 1500 miles North to South. The sheer size of the US makes it difficult for a small change·oriented minority to get together. There arc Berkeley; and Cambridge. Massachusetts; and Madison, Wisconsin; and freaky neighbourhoods in every large city. But the rest of us are dotted about on the other three million square miles. The US population is only four times as large as yours, but the area is 32 times as large. Because of this, decentralisation and going back to the land are still real possibilities here, but it does tend to make communication more difficult. Our long term aim is to help large numbers of change·oriented people to find the ham radio tool. The first step was finding those of us who already have ham licences. (Out of 280,000 hams in the US there had to be a few!) The biggest helps have been my SlowScan TV column in CQ, a straightworld ham magazine; and a continuing series of articles on New Directions Radio in The Mother Earth News. I haven·t counted lately, but the number of us hams who have made contact in some fashion must be over a hundred by now. It has been just seven months since the first of the Mother articles appeared, and I recently received my first letter from a person who studied for, and actually received, his license as a consequence of reading that article. I·m hoping that many others are quietly doing the same thing, and will pop out of the woodwork during the next year or so. Plans and Possibilities There are a number of possibilities which we are exploring, and what happens in these areas will depend a lot upon available time and energy within the group. First, we·d like to have on the· air get·togethers with people of similar outlook in other countries. Problems in doing this include the sunspot cycle which is heading for a minimum next year or the year after (resulting in poor long distance radio conditions), and the fact that we don·t have the most Homesteader and ham George Cummings (WOQPO/7) lives with his family on 20 acres of hilltop and hillside land in Washington state. Here he makes some notes after one of his twice weekly chats with Canadian homesteader/ham Norris Hyde (VE7 A IC) elaborate ham stations. I·d be delighted to hear from any of you reached by this issue of Undercurrents. let·s see what we can work out.
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Of particular interest to me are third world tie·ins. Ha·Jing spent a few months in Central and South America I came to feel that we have a lot of worthwhile sharing to do in AT and other areas. Among the possibilities arc learning exchange activities where we get learners and sharers together, a technical information reference service, an possibly a medical hotline. And hopefully more of us could get a better idea of what simple, basic living is like in other parts of the world · its positive side and its problems. Can you suggest any people to contact? Just as soon as a few more intentional communities sprout ham stations we hope to get some nets going, directed specifically to the needs of communes and back to·the landers. There is already a precedent for ·swapping· things over the air (a net devoted to equipment swapping) and it would certainly be nice to foster the growth of a non·money economy. There are also lots of other things to share, from AT to veterinary problems. Another area of interest is providing a fast·response communication network for the social change movement. (Our I geographic spread problem!) The straight hams already run networks for forwarding short written messages. These facilities could be used to some extent by social change people. Additional possibilities include the use of radioteletype. Surplus machines are available here for 550 to S100. 2 The radio equipment required is even simpler than for voice, and the range is greater. for a given power level. One station in a city could feed many local machines via telephone or short distance VHF radio. The fantasies that this conjures up include daily newsletters transmitted and printed all over the country. Another is a tie·in with community access computer systems like the one now operating in Berkeley. (For info on this system write to Resource One, 1545 Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA 94703, USA.) A third is access to a library of reference materials on AT and social change, where copies of articles could be sent via teletype to people anywhere. Considering that the activity is still so young, I·m quite happy with progress thus far. Much of the credit goes to John Shuttleworth and the others at Mother Earth News who have been turned on by the possibilities, and have devoted a lot of magazine space to nurturing the idea. Slow Scan TV There is a ham radio technology that I·ve been excited about and involved with since 1957. It·s called slow·scan TV, and is a technique for
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transmitting images over a single voice channel. In essence it combines TV pickup and display techniques with radio facsimile modulation and demodulation techniques to allow transmission of a 120 by 120 line TV picture in an 8 second period. Conventional TV requires a very large bandwidth because each picture contains roughly a quarter of a million picture clements, and because (in Europe) 25 complete pictures are transmitted every second to maintain the illusion of motion. If we change the groundrules so that motion is not required, and the detail in each frame is reduced, a great reduction in bandwidth is possible. The picture bandwidth in the amateur system is less than 3 KHz. In conventional TV the eye and brain provide the frame·to frame storage necessary to avoid nicker. With SSTV some external means must be used to store the received image as it arrives during the 8 second transmission period. The least expensive device in 1957, and still today, is the long persistence phosphor cathode·ray tube developed for radar use in WWII. In the US we call the phosphor ·type PT. It is characterised by a short persistence blue fluorescence, and a yellow phosphorescent afterglow which lasts for a number of seconds. The display is subjectively much like radar. A bright horizontal line moves, in 8 seconds, from top to bottom of the screen, leaving an image in the afterglow behind it. The standards are shown in Table 1. The slight differences in standards dictated by the frequency of the local power system make no difference in practice. Slow·scan monitors will lock in on signals from both areas. The sweep synchronisation is provided by bursts of 1200Hz subcarrier. This same subcarrier is frequency shifted by the video signal to transmit various shades of grey. 1500 Hz is Black, 2300 Hz is White, and the frequencies in between represent intermediate shades of grey. Hams on your side of the Atlantic have been involved with SSTV since its earliest days. John Plowman (G3AST) was at the receiving end of the first transatlantic tests in 1959, and members of the British Amateur Television Club (BATe) have been quite actively involved in the design of equipment and the use of slow·scan on audio tape. Unfortunately, the regulatory bodies in both countries were very slow to approve this mode of transmission in the ham bands. The FCC finally said OK in 1968, and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications came around even more recently. There are now about 2000 hams in over 60 countries
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equipped for SSTV. Since commercially available slow·scan gear is not cheap ($325 for a camera and $295 for a monitor here in the US) present users tend to be well-off estabIishment Types, and I have not had very much success in turning them on to our New Directions activities. New Directions enthusiasts generally don ·I. have much cash. Building your own is a way of trading ti me for money, and if you can latch onto an oscilloscope with P7 CRT it won·t take much extra hardware to turn it into an SSTV monitor and flying·spot scanner. I f you would like to explore equipment building possibilities, 1 suggest that you contact the BATe. Hams in general, and BATC members in particular, are a friendly . bunch. eager to help a newcomer get technically involved. Since the SSTV signal does occupy most of a voice channel, the general practice is to alternate voice and picture during a transmission. By equipping an audio tape recorder with a continuous tape loop slightly longer than one frame. it is possible to ·snatch· a single frame as it arrives and store it for continuous viewing after the transmitting station switches back to voice. In the US (and perhaps the UK also) it is legal to transmit voice and picture simultaneously if one mode is transmitted in the upper sideband and the other in the lower. Unfortunately, this requires an addition to the transmitting and receiving gear and only a handful of slow·scan hams currently have this capability. I·m hoping that as various groups pick up the ham radio alternative, the costsharing among members will reduce the economic barrier to using slow·scan TV. It is useful to be able to transmit visual material in many situations; and seeing the person you·re talking with is a definite psychological plus. I see SSTV, ham radio, facsimile, teletype, and maybe even small computers as a communications bag·of·tricks that can help us In our attempts to change the world today. If high technology production capability survives the coming changes, then these could be among IIlich·s ·convivial tools· for helping individuals gain dominion over their own lives in a new society. On the grime side: if industrial society falls apart, these communication tools might at least allow some survivors in enclaves dotted around the world to keep in touch with each other. ¥ Copthorne Macdonald (WOORX) 516 NW First Ave Rochester, Minn. 55901 USA
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1. In Britain, the Post Office has a virtually absolute statutory monopoly over all telecommunications, and does not permit any relaying of messages for ·third parties·, except where it chooses to issue a license. Licenses are usually also required from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications · ·which is about to be abolished and put under the aegis of Tony Benn·s Department of Industry. Not that that will make much difference, of course. 2. Similar Government·surplus machines are also available here. Look up the adverts in ·Wireless World· or ·Radio Communication·, the magazine of the Radio Society of Great Britain.


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Murdock Cable TV What·s in it for the Media Moguls
AT ROOT, the commercial based mass media are industrial and commercial organisations, which produce and distribute commodities. Their profitability, and hence their development, is therefore inextricably bound up with the general economic situation. For a variety of reasons, the second half of the sixties saw a decline in the rate of profit (ie the return on capital expressed as a percentage of the capital employed). Whereas, in 1964, the pre tax profit stood at 11 per cent, by 1970 it had fallen away to 5.8 per cent 111. One of the responses to this situation was the boom in mergers and takeovers as companies attempted to consolidate their market position and extend their operating base. In the four years between 1967 and 1970, commercial and industrial enterprises spent almost £5,000 million on acquisitions·considerably more than the total for the preceding sixteen years(21. The media industries were enmeshed in the same web of economic pressures occasioned by varying combinations of rapidly rising costs, shifts in consumer demand, and fluctuations in advertising. Their strategies for meeting the situation followed those devised by other sectors of industry. The result was an increase in acquisitions and mergers leading to an increase in the concentration of ownership both within and across various media sectors. This is not to say that this period saw a dramatic and unprecedented shift towards concentration. For some time before this there had been a marked degree of concentration in a number of media sectors such as national newspapers, commercial television and cinema exhibition. But the bout of mergers and takeovers during the latter half of the sixties undoubtedly increased the degree of concentration still further. In 1948, for example, the four leading newspaper publishing concerns accounted for 45 per cent of the total circulation of all daily newspapers; by 1972 the figure was 61 per cent. Dimensions of Concentration Under the general heading of ·concentration· we can distinguish three inter·related but separable processes: horizontal and vertical integration; diversification; and intermeshing. Horizontal integration refers to the process whereby firms acquire additional units at the same level of production. Notable examples include: the acquisition of the Times an d Sunday Times by the Thomson
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Organisation; Rupert Murdoch·s acquisition of the News of the World and the Sun; and Pearson Longman·s acquisition of Penguin Books. As a result of these and other mergers and takeovers at the horizontal level, key sectors of the communications industry are increasingly dominated by a handful of firms. In the case of national morning and Sunday newspapers, paperback publishing and cinema exhibition for example, the five leading firms in each of these sectors account for over eighty per cent of the sector market. Vertical integration occurs when companies with interests in a particular stage of the productive process acquire interests in other stages, most notably the provision of raw materials and the organisation of distribution and retailing. A notable instance of this ·vertical· movement was the acquisition by Electrical and Musical Industries Ltd (EMI) of the Associated British Picture Corporation in 1969 and Anglo Amalgamated Film Distributors in 1970. Taken together with its existing film interests, these two acquisitions gave the company a stake in practically every facet of film production from financing to exhibition, and considerably increased the range and degree of its overall control over the film industry as a whole. In 1972 for example, EMI was the largest single British film production company with nine films; the films distributed by the EMI·MGM consortium accounted for six of the top twenty box office successes; and EMI cinemas accounted for a quarter of all cinema admissions. Diversification takes place when a company with interests in one particular mass media sector acquires interests either in other media sectors or in other sorts of enterprises. One of the characteristic movements in this respect has been the tendency of media companies to expand their interests into other lucrative areas of leisure provision such as eating out, drink and holiday accommo·dation. For example, the Rank Organisation, which has substantial interests in a wide range of media and leisure sectors including cinema exhibition and broadcast television, recently acquired Butlin holiday camps, and narrowly failed in its bid for the Watney Mann pub and brewery chain. Other instances of this kind of diversification include EMl·s acquisition of the Golden Egg restaurant chain and their investments in the Brighton Marina leisure complex, and the Thomson Organisation·s increasing interests in package holidays (which accounted for 27.6 per cent of the
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company·s 1972 turnover). By the same token, companies which already have interests in food, drink and hotels are acquiring interests in the mass media. Booker McConnell, the sugar manufacturing company, for example, have added to their spirit and liqueur manufacturing interests an Artists Services Division, which among other thing> holds the copyrights of the best selling paper back authors Georgette Heyer, Agatha Christie and Ian Fleming. Diversification has several advantages; it increases the company·s potential profit base; it cushions the effects of downswings in a particular sector and maintains profit margins, and it facilitates the marketing of recycled material and spinoffs. The cushioning effect is well illustrated by the case of the Associated Television Corporation (ATC). ATC has two main sectors: ATV, the commercial television company serving the Midlands; and the ·diversified interests· which include a film production subsidiary (lTC), Pvc Records and Northern Palladium and ten other West End theatres. The company·s pre·tax profits of £5.6 million for the trading year 1968·69 were more or less split exactly equally, . with 49 per cent from the diversified interests. Then in july 1969 the levy on the turnover of commercial television companies was increased, and in the words of ATV·s chairman, Lord Renwick, ·This immediately produced a crisis which endangered the very existence of some companies not protected by diversified operations·. ATV·s pre·tax profits for the trading year 1969·70 were £5.3 million, a reduction of 5.4 per cent on the previous year. Of the total, only 11 per cent was accounted for by the network television operation. the remainder being attributable to the diversified interests. particularly films and records. Companies without the safety net of diversified operations, however, sustained considerably greater reductions in profit margins; 59 per cent in the case of Westward TV, for example. The trend towards diversification is an entirely logical response to the prevailing economic conditions. Nevertheless, it means that in addition to expanding and consolidating
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their control within particular media sectors, the leading companies are acquiring significant interests across an increasing range of the communications and leisure industries. In addition to the film industry interests mentioned above, for example, EMI is the country·s leading record manufacturer and a sub·stantial shareholder in Thames TV, the London weekday contractor. Diversification in turn shades into the third facet of the concentration process: intermeshing. Not only is the control of the mass communications system increasingly becoming concentrated in the hands of large multi·media corporations, but the leading companies are increasingly intermeshed through reciprocal shareholdings, interlocking directorships and reciprocal arrangements of various kinds. The emerging pattern of inter·relationships is immensely complex, but a relatively simple example will suffice to illustrate the general point. The institutional share holders in ATC include Reed International and Beaverbrook Newspapers ltd (respectively the first and third largest newspaper publishing companies accounting together for 47 per cent of total newspaper circulation), and (via the intermediary of the Birmingham Post and Mail Group ltd), Pearson Longman, whose operating companies include Penguin Books. the country·s leading paperback publishing house. Intermeshing, however, proceeds not only directly through shareholdings and interlocking directorships, but also more indirectly through reciprocal arrangements. Often such arrangements have the function of facilitating the marketing of ·spin·offs·, thereby extending the profitability of particular products. Here for example is ATV·s description of the success of ·The Persuaders·, a television adventure series featuring Tony Curtis and Roger Moore: .. ·The Persuaders· . _ has been sold to more than 62 countries. American Broadcasting has scheduled the rerun of 13 episodes ... the theme, composed and recorded by John Barry, has sold more than 116,000 records in the UK, Pan Books have sold 180,000 paperbacks based on the series·. (5) This quotation also underlines a further key factor in the present situation of British mass communications; growing internationalization. The multi·media companies operating in Britain are in fact increasingly also multinational concerns.
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Internationalisation has several facets. The most obvious and the most widely publicised is the extent of foreign, and more particularly American, ownership and investment in the British mass media. The flow of influence is by no means entirely one·way however, and a number of the large British companies have substantial interests and holdings in North America. The Rank Organisation·s interests in the Xerox Corporation, EMI·s ownership of the Capitol record complex, and the Thomson Organisation·s extensive North American publishing interests are among the more obvious examples. In addition, British media companies have significant interests in the ·Old· and ·New· Commonwealth, and in the European Economic Community. Other facets of internationalisation are the increasing importance of production for export, and the growth of reciprocal arrangements between British and foreign companies. Recent examples include the collaboration between the BBC and Time·Life in television produc·tion and publishing, and between EMI and MGM in feature film distribution. In summary then: there is, underlying the contemporary situation of the British mass media, a clearly discernible tendency for control, both within and across sectors, to become increasingly concentrated in the hands of large multi·media or multi·product concerns, a number of which have substantial international interests. The logic of the present economic situation of the mass communications industries has several important consequences for the range of options and alternatives made available to consumers. In the first place, the trend towards the concentration of control within and across the various media sectors has been accompanied by increasing rationalisation leading to the deletion of small units of relatively low profitability and the application of common ‘The year was one of retrenchment and reorganisation·retrenchment to combat rapidly rising costs and weak market conditions·reorganisation to eliminate activities unlikely to become profitable, to promote activities with the necessary potential and to improve the profits of the rest·’ (6) Rationalisation means a reduction in the number of options available. Secondly, in periods when profitability is under pressure, there is a tendency for companies to minimise the element of risk by excluding the
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novel and untried, and relying instead on products which arc already familiar and popular and which therefore have a proven profit potential. The recent revival of previously successful programme formats such as ·Sunday Night at the London Palladium· and ·Candid Camera· on commercial television is one obvious example. The cinema provides another. The top two box office films of 1972, ·The Godfather· and ·Diamonds are Forever· were both based on best·selling paperbacks, and four other films in the top twenty were derived from successful television comedy series. The profitable life·of a product can also be extended through recycling. Examples of this process include the re·releasing of relatively recent ·Top Twenty· hit records on cut·price compilation LP·s, and the sale of cinema feature films for reshowing on television. In addition to extending the profitable life of media products, recycling has definite cost advantages_ Original television drama and documentary productions, for example, are expensive relative to their likely audience; feature films on the other hand are quite likely to attract two or three times the audience at a quarter of the cost (7). Again, given the economic logic underlying the situation, concern for creative innovation is likely to be increasingly displaced by considerations of accountancy, and genuinely novel productions or those with ·unprofitable· minority appeal are likely to be curtailed management techniques and marketing ed or Jettisoned In favour of repeats strategies in the interests of corporate or revivals of already successful formulas. growth. The result is again the deletion of choices and alternatives. The logic of the situation also leads to an increasing emphasis on the production of commodities which are internationally exchangeable, and more particularly commodities which will sell in the American market. Production for export as a means of maintaining profitability puts a premium on material which will be intelligible and attractive to most people in most places at most times. In terms of television this has increasingly meant deleting explicitly topical or localised clements, and concentrating either on material featuring international name stars against international ·jet set· backgrounds, or on material which appears as stereotypically ·English·. The A TC series, ·The Persuaders·, and ·The Protectors· exemplify the first of these genrcs*, while the second Is well represented by ·The Forsyte Saga· and ·Elizabeth R·. It is against this background of the increasing consolidation of conglomerate control and the concentration of choices, and within the contex t of ·encral economic situation which underá pins
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these processes, that the potentialities of new communications technolá ogies, including cable systems, must be considered and debated. *Both these series feature an American Actor paired with a British actor (Tony Curtis and Roger Moore; and Robert Vaughan and Nyree Dawn Porter) in plots set against ·jet set· penthouse. casino. yacht. airport locales, They epitomise the emerging ·mid·Atlantic· style. The Contemporary Cable Situation in Britain "I .. firmly believe that running a business in the leisure industry is basically no different from running any other ... the same principles of management must and do apply .. We in the leisure industry have to examine market potential, identify growth areas, set up a sound and imaginative marketing plan to explOit the situation ·. (81 (John Read, Managing Director of EMf) Historically, the British cable industry has had two main facets, the relay of broadcast programming, and the rental of specially adapted receivers. Of the two, rental operations are the more lucrative, Relay in fact has tended to operate preá dominantly as a loss leader providing a point of entry into the relay market. In practice, around two thirds of those connected to cable systems rent their receiver from the relay company. At the present time, according to one recent estimate, the relayárental market is dominated by two companies: Rediffusion Ltd, and British Reiay Wireless and Television Ltd, which together account for approximately 70 per cent of the market, with Rediffusian the. market leader. Radio Rentals and T elcfusion together accou nt for a further 10 per centl91. Initially the main ddvantages of cable systems was the strength and clarity of the signal, with the elimination of aerial purchase cost providing an additional incentive. Recent improvements in the transmission and reception of ·off·air· signals, however, sisnificantly undercut this initial advantage. At the same time, the need to remain competitive with other rental companies inhibited the relayárental concerns from increasing their charges to customers beyond a certain point. Consequently they found themselves in the position of more or less providing two services for the· price of one. This situation stimulated a search for ways of increasing the returns on their substantial investment in cable systems. Basically two
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options presentá cd themselves: firstly to increase the subscriber density in the existing areas, and secondly, to actualise what the Chairman of British Relay has called ·The latellt potential of cable·vision.tl01 This latent potential consists of providing customers with a service which they caul d not get anywhere else. Hence the involvement of the leading relay·rental concerns in the experimental cable stations: Rediffusion in Bristol, British Relay in Sheffield and Radio Rentals (with EMI) in Swindon. The relay·rental companies· investments in the present cable experiments give them an important foothold in an area which could provide potentially a very considerable contribution to profits. Their current involvements are therefore a necessary part of their long term strategies for corporate growth. Their assessment of the situation has been cogently put by the Chairman of British Relay: ·In the immediate future .. your company·s: fortunes are bound up with the growth of colour television .. In the longer term .. we are optimistic about the future of cable, , and it could well be that the extended usage of the systems. , may develop v.hen the growth period of colour television is coming to an end·. " . We attach great importance to the experiment which we see as the opening for cable systems to provide services v.hich will lead to additional usage and additional sources of earnings·. (11) Where, then, are these additional ·vi..ii\;eS to come from? Clearly not from stations along the lines of the present experiments. An outline of some of the possible sources of revenue is provided in the document produced by the Cable Television Association of Great Britain, the industry·s lobby group. (12) The document proposes a variety of possible uses for cable channels, including a local channel similar to the current experiments, a community arts channel, an adult education channel, a citizens· channel for the expression of minority views, a shop window for local traders, a ·Box Office· channel showing new or recent feature films and ·live transmissions of major sporting events: and a lsecond chance· channel showing repeats of broadcast television programmes. It does not emerge particularly clearly from this document, but it is evident from other sources that the primary objective is to gain permission for the more profitable options, namely the ·Box Office· and ·Second Chance· channels. The basic revenue for both these channels would be derived from consumers· payments for individual items. Both are in fact variants on the Pay·TV principle.
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The primary motivation behind the ·Box Office· channel is the continuing decline in cinema attendance. The hope is that by making new or recent feature films available in houses, apartments and hotels, this channel will enable film producers su bstantially to increase their audience. Certainly this calculation was a major factor in precipitating the entry into the American cable market of the Warner Communications Corporation, whose operating companies include Warner Brothers Motion Pictu res: The Olairman explained the corporation·s 1971 decision to acquire the Continental Telephone Corporation (America·s second largest cable network) as follows: " · .studies of future cable growth have concluded that one of the major thrusts for growth will be the ability of cable TV to provide on a fee basis special entertainment programs such as first run motion pictures. The advantage of our expandinil into cable TV were thus apparent·. 11 I It seems likely that the same calculation also informs EMl·s present involvement in Swindon Viewpoint. Similarly the general hoi ding company (The British Electric Traction Company Limited) which owns Rediffusion Ltd, whose subsidiaries include Rediffusion Cablevision Ltd, the company operating the ·Bristol Olannel· station, owns Rediffusion Holdings Ltd, whose subsidiaries include Wembley Stadium Ltd.1141 This places the company in an advantageous position with respect to the other main function proposed for the ·Box Office· channel, the ·live· relay of major sporting events. The ·Second Chance· channel would provide broadcast television companies with a further channel through which to recycle their programmes, thereby further extending their profitable life. Again, it is significant that both EMI and Rediffusion Television Ltd (a further subsidiary of the BET Group) have substantial holdings in Thames Television Limited, the highly successful weekday London contractor, (151 Revenues from rentals an d programme sales are only two of the possible sources of profit provided by cable systems, A third, and potentially greater source derives from the provision of the specialised equipment required for the transmission and reception of various cable facilities. Given favourable decisions by the various European governments
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currently considering the expansion of cable systems, the next ten years could see the European market for cablevision equipment increasing from the present £20 million per annum, to up to £400 million per annum. This makes it potentially a very significant growth area for the electronics industry, Consequently, companies like EMI which have sizeable interests in electronics manufacture, cannot afford not to be in on the Fround floor of these developments. (16 From the point of view of the companies involved, then, the present cable experiments fulfil two principal functions. Firstly, they act as public relations exercises aimed at establishing the present operators as cable of running a domestic television service responsibly, and persuading the govern ment to allow cable to proceed on a commercial basis, Secondly, they provide convenient opportunities for electronics manufacturers to develop and test ·hardware· facilities. They are, in fact, one component in these companies· overall ·Research and Development· programmes. In addition to their involvement in Swindon Viewpoint, for example, EMI are currently engaged on a joint project to develop equipment for showing feature films in hotels and recording customer charges onJ;omputer memory, and to extend Reuter·s existing relay of commodity and stock exchange prices to hotels and offices. The companies involved in the current cable experiments therefore represent a coalition of interests comprising the relayárental companies, companies with interests in electronics, and companies possessing or producing potential programming material. To a certain extent these various interests are separable, but at the same time it is also important to recognise the degree to which they are interrelated and interdependent. Clearly then, cable cannot be considered in isolation from more general trends in the communications and leisure industries. It is already to a considerable extent incorporated into the developing pattern of concentration. Cable, in common with developments such as satellite broadcasting. video cassettes and local commercial radio, has been colonised by the conglomerates primarily in order to provide additional channels for marketing products and services.
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This situation raises several issues which urgently demand discussion and debate. Private Interest and Public Need: Questions of Ownership and Control ·Freedom to operate on the basis of a normal marketing relationship between supplier and consumer .. , VIOuld open doors to a new era in neighbourhood communications, with widespread benefits to life and leisure.·1171 ·Uke other innovations since wireless telegraphy, cable has been introduced to the public with a vision of a better life for a slight additional charge .. , The public is asked to believe that those same entrepreneurs who have done a questionable job of applying older media to social improvements and mass enlightenment are now going to do something entirely different·. (18) The Cable Television Association argue that a commercial cable system would simultaneously provide ·the broadcasters with outlets to reach wider audiences· and offer ·an important new means of communication for individuals and communities·. Given the recent history of commercial provision in other media sectors, however, this assumption that the private interests of the companies are synonymous with the public needs of the communities they serve, is open to considerable doubt. Under the system proposed by the CT A, the relay·rental companies would retain control of the cable system, while programme companies similar to those currently operating would control the stations and provide a significant sector of output. Revenue would be derived from a basic customer subscription, supplemented by various mixes of advertising, customer payment for individual items and subsidies from interested bodies such as local authorities, The eTA·s proposals rest qn a division between control over·hardware· and control over ·software·. The fact that the cable companies will be separate from the programme companies it is argued, provides a sufficient guarantee against the extension of conglomerate control. This argument is. however, belied by the emerging pallern of interrelationships between ·hardware· and ·software· interests. So far, British provisions for the regulation of commercial mass communications systems have conspicuously failed to address
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the phenomenon of intermeshing. It is no longer sufficient to confine attention to instances of horizontal integration (as in the case of the Monopolies Commission report on film exhibition) or to focus on the cross ownersh ip of newspaper publishing and commercial broadcasting. It is now necessary to consider any further extension of commercial provision against the background of the increasing concentration of conglomerate control over the whole field of mass communications and leisure provision. Similarly. it is imperative to consider the extent to which overseas control of local cable systems can be congruent with the needs and interests of the people in these areas.(19) The most satisfactory alternative to the piecemeal commercial expansion of cable systems is to incorporate cable into a nationally planned communications system provided and maintained by the Post Office. 1201 Planning the future development of cable as part of an integrated system covering telephone and data transmission facilities as well as rz.dio and TV has two main advantages. Firstly, it avoids the wasteful duplication and underutilisation of existing Post Office plant and facilities. Secondly, it ensures that public needs take precedence over private interests. In the area of programming. two key issues need to be considered: access, and accountability. Under the system proposed by the CT A, the extent of public access to programme making facilities would be determined by the company holding the licence for the station. It would. therefore, be an extension of access by courtesy of the companies. as in the case of the letter columns in newspapers and the ·access· programmes such as ·Open Door· on broadcast television. It would not be access guaranteed as a right, but access granted as a privilege. The question of access, however, cannot be adequately discussed or resolved in isolation. It must be considered as part of the wider question of accountability. Commercial cable programming would be caught up in the same network of economic pressures as other sectors of the mass communications industry, with the same consequences. That is, pressure on profitability is likely to result in a concentration on the familiar and the already popular with a proven profit potential. This means that the unprofitable ·community· options are likely to be allocated minimum staffing, equipment and running costs, or at the very least that the cable companies are unlikely to make any efforts to extend the opportunities for public access programming beyond the minimum necessary to retain
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their licence. There is, therefore, a gap between what is being promised and what is likely to be delivered, between the possibilities for public access and democratic participation held out by cable systems and the economic dynamics underpinning the present pattern of ownership and control. This is inevitable as long as the cable companies are accountable primarily to their shareholders rather than to the community; as long as accountability is subordinated to accountancy. In response to these kinds of arguments, the eTA has proposed a network of local or area panel!l, possibly surmounted by a national panel. These panels, it is argued, ... would effectively shoulder the Minister·s burden of responsibility for ensuring quality of content from the stations· and guaranteeing ·public accountability "and .. proper representation of community interests·. (211 The currently available precedents, however, tend to indicate that this kind of regulatory system does not provide a sufficient guarantee of public accountability. Public regulating bodies cannot alter the basic economic dynamics underlying the situation, and therefore they cannot prevent the criteria of profitability from becoming the ultimate determinant of programming. As the ·BA·s recurrent failure to ensure that the present commercial radio and television companies abide by the programme proposals outlined in their franchise applications makes clear, in the final analysis profitability takes precedence over promises. There is no reason to suppose that this equation will be reversed in the case of cable television. Indeed, extrapolating from the record of the American Fe dcral Communication Commission in cable regulation, there is every reason to suppose that it won·t, "Although the FCC·s cable rules called for a ·minimum· of one ·public access· channel, Sol Schildhause, Cable Bureau Chief has stated that what the FCC really meant by ·minimum· was maximum; that cable operators do not have any reason to grant more than one ·public access· charlOci per franchise; that the commission has no intention of encouraging the expansion of ·public access·."(22) The starting point for formulating an alternative structure for cable television is the principle of guaranteed access. This involves two things. Firstly, that equipment and facilities to record, edit and present a programme should be available to anyone who asks. Secondly, that in addition to making facilities available, steps should be taken ·to ensure that the right is exercised· providing technical and financial assistance to ·groups unlikely to otherwise
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to make the first step to enable them to make their own programmcs:{23) Guaranteed access, however, can only be ultimately safeguarded if the station i, controlled by a body democratically elected from among the station staff and local community, on which the community members have a majority. And the final guarantee of genuine community control is municipal ownership. 1241 This sort of alternative raises a number of problems, most notably the question of finding alternative sources of finance. Nevertheless, if the possibilities presented by cable are ever to be properly explored, it is essential that the feasibility of these alternatives should be adequately investigated. To this end an embargo shoul d be placed on the further extension of commercial cable provision, and a series of publicly owned and community controlled cable stations established as feasibility projects. A great deal has been claimed for community cable by its proponents. It is claimed, for example, that it will lead to ·a recognition of individual potential·, to ·an increased awareness of the importance of identity with and involvement in the community of one·s fellows· an d to a new era in democratic and participatory community politics. (251 These are important claims about the basic texture of social and political life. They mayor may not be true, but at the very least they deserve to be seriously discussed and, more important, to be tested in concrete practice, ¥ Graham Murdock
See Andrew Glyn and Bob Sutcliffe (1972) British Capitalism, Workers and the Profits Squeeze (Penguin Books)p66. Glyn an·d Sutcliffe, up cir, p 143. (3) For full details of the figures and sources referred to in this section see: Graham Murdock and Peter Golding (1974) ·For A Political Economy of Mass Communications· in R Miliband and J Saville (Eds) TIle Socialist Register 1973 (London: The Merlin Press) pp205·234. (4) The eompany holds 37.6 per cent of the ordinary shares in Southern Television. (5) Associated Te/el·ision Corporation Umited Annual Report and Accounts 1972. P II. (6) R£·ed ·ntemational Limited Annual Report: Year Ended 31 March 1971.p8. (7) Sec: CF Prallen (1970) The Economics of Television (London PEP Broadsheet No 520) p26.
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(8) John Read (1970) The Leisure Market · Patterns and Prospects, The Adl·ertising Quarterly. No 25,p33. (9) CA Lambert (1973) RediffusiunBritish Rday: The Cable TV Sector, (Buckmaster and Moore, The London Stock Exchange) p II. \10) British Relay Wireless arId Tele)·ision Umited: Annual Report 1973 p7 (II) British Relay Wireless and Telel·ision Limited: Annual Report 1973,p6. (12) Britain·s Television: A Plan for Consumer Choice. (London, The Cable Television Association of Great Britain, March 1973). (13) Quoted in The Network Project (1973) Notebook Number Five: Cable Telel·isiun, (New York, Columbia University, The Network Project,)p5. (14) Wembley Stadium Ltd provides sport and entertainment at the Empire Stadium, Empire Pool and Sports Arena, and the Wembley Stadium Bowl. (15) Of the ·A· Ordinary (voting) shares in Thames Television Ltd, Rediffusion Television Ltd holds 49.99 per cent and EMf 50.1 per cent. (16) Electronics manufacture accounted for 23 per cent of EMf·s 197t·2 turnover, as against the 15 per cent derived from films, and the 7 per cent attributabJe to television interests. (17) Britain·s Television: A Plan for Consumer Choice, up cit, p5. (18) TIle Network Project: Notebook Number 5, op cit. pI. (19) Canadian concerns have interests in two of the current cable experiments; Selkirk Holdings in Wellingborough and Albion in Greenwich. (20) This has been proposed by the Post Office Engineering Union. Sec: Bryan Stanley, Cable TV ·An Integrated Network, POf.·U, Jjnuary 1974, p t 8·20. (21) Britain·s Television, op cit p9 (22) The Network Project, Notebook Number Five, op cit p21. (23) AC·IT (1973) Forry·Eighr Times the Usual Junk? (London: Twentieth Century Press). (24) For a detailed outline of one proposal for municipal ownership see: Roy Madron and Lesley Johns (1973) The Case for Community Control of Cable Television (Hebden Bridge York· shire Television Practitioners Limited) (25) See: Roy Madron and Lesley Johns, op cit. (This article was originally delivered as a paper at the conference on Cable TV organised by the Standing Conference on Broadcasting last autumn).

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Harper AT in the shade: Scraping the Bottom of the Skeptic Tank
Dear Comrades HERE WE GO again. As confused as ever about the actual, potential, and proper scope of ·alternative technology·, I turn the question over to others who have commented on the obituary I wrote in UC5. In editing their letters I obviously have them by the long and curlies (or, as the case may be, the short back and sides) but I hope they will not feel too victimised. Here·s a quick parody of the thesis advanced in UC5: a) ·Alternative Technology· (singular) does not exist in the sense of an ·obvious· consistent and widely held set of principles. b) 1. ·Alternative Technologies· (plural) don·t really work except under special circumstances which restrict them to minorities with eccentric tastes. lots of money, or a willingness to muck about with their lifestyles. 2: Alternative Technologies are therefore either financially or culturally unacceptable to the vast majority of people and can be criticised as irrelevant, elitist or even exploitative. c) We are therefore faced, collectively and severally, with a set of (possibly unpleasant) choices among mutually antagonistic possibilities. You can·t just go out and Do It: You·ve got to take an ethical and political stand. The purpose of the article in UC6 was to start exploring some of the possible choices, and I hoped other people would do the same. Most of the responses I had however, contested the premises of the argument and therefore did not feel obliged to commit themselves. Miserable finks. Just when I was looking forward to a good punch· up. But of course, that is exactly what I asked for·reasons why my ·pessimism· was mistaken. The replies fell more or le· into the following categories. • There are unifying principles (for instance. x, y, z .. ) • So what? • They do work (or at least some do; with different criteria .. ) • Conventional technology doesn·t work either (with different criteria .. ) • The ·unacceptability· is exaggerated (geezer I met in Stoke·on·Trent the other day was all for it ... ) • Better to go out and do something than sit on your arse theorising. • Quite right (join the CP; abolish ecology etc etc).
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Many of these will figure in the following extracts. I should point out that the letters were not necessarily written for publication, so they sometimes wander about a bit. I·ve tried not to carve them up too much·to preserve the spontaneous flavour and disguise the fact that I didn·t always understand what they were trying to say. Let·s start with this one, from The Farm and Food Society: I don·t know how far you have investigated alternative agriculture, but we remain convinced that this must come, and also that there are a great many farms demonstrating its effectiveness, Of course, it means much more work, but not necessarily lower productivity in the long term. As we are likely to have a growing number of unemployed, and are in any event as a nation overfed, we feel the arguments in its favor are still viable. For my part, I have never really found the evidence necessary to persuade a sceptic that soil fertility can be maintained without any artificial fertilisers and still feed fifty million people in Britain. Of course I hope it·s true. but that·s another thing. The ·special circumstances· of this AT which take it out of the domain of ordinary folk are a) living in the country; b) doing a lot more work (ie getting le· pay); c) higher prices for eggs etc. We freaks may revel in this, but I don·t think many people would fancy it (notwithstanding the critic who protested ·everyone in my street has an allotment now·). Potentially, the real clincher for organic agriculture is that we may be forced into it by certain circumstances, (then everybody would be into it!) but I have yet to see this argument convincingly presented. As to the money thing·that reliable alternatives are very expensive·this didn·t bug some people at all. Here·s a fine slab of rhetoric from Harold Pooley: The crux of my disagreement is in the use of arguments about the practicality of any technology based on cost and time. These, like pollution and nature, are very much culturally bound concepts. Money is a man·made toy. Its relation to so much skillful work is no more real than the equation given by our frail conventions, The last thing we should be trapped into seeking is an alternative technology \<which Is cheaper than capitalism. Firstly because we want a higher standard of honesty than that of a system \<which evades much of the true costs of production in the form of resource depletion and pollution. But more importantly we should be glad to accept a technology predicated on different values than cost, for cheapness (and hence profit) is the supreme goal of the system: everything is subordinated to this end, even if it destroys communities,
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eradicates \é1YS of working that give meaning and dignity to labour, and rapes and poisons on a global scale. In its appalling accountancy, capitalism, or rather, technocratic ma· production, does not reckon these as costs. Why should we be afraid of inefficiency and time·consuming labour? Producing by means of traditional craft based technology shoes, books, furniture may be inefficient but the products were usually as beautiful and satisfying, A proce· of producing labour saving washing·machines which involves the mechanical drudgery of the production line, ,creates with one hand the drudgery it takes away with the other, If we had satisfying, leisurely work we wouldn·t need to escape into telefantasies or spend half a year amid the din of the factories dreaming of the fortnight flight to the Costa Bravo, So if time and money are the rocks on \<which A T will founder, then I say let us avoid cheapness like the plague and be content to spend more time doing \<hat is satisfying, I like this because it grasps at least one nettle firmly; that alternative technologies are not dreams of an ideal Utopia, but alternative choices of advantages and disadvantages which for some people are more satisfactory in aggregate and in the long run, We may be lyrical about the advantages but we must be honest about the disadvantages. In this particular case, by a deft feat of puritanical alchemy" Harold is lyrical about both, but we cannot fail to see that bourgeois values· (as they say) pervade the whole thing, and not only because at least in the short run, poor people couldn·t afford to try anything like this. Of course, Harold may be talking about ·after the revolution· when there are no rich and poor, but at the moment his Utopia is neither financially nor culturally acceptable to the le· affluent. Richard Clarke of the Morning Star sees the whole thing rather differently: I·m afraid I feel there is little of the radical, much le· the revolutionary in the ·alternative technology· movement as and insofar as it exists. A pleasurable pastime for those with the leisure and cash to follow it·but having lived for some years on a Welsh hill farm myself I tend to be a little irritable about those \<ho propound the virtues of ecological living from the comfort of their suburban semis. But Harold is not particularly an ecofreak. He is a romantic socialist who (bless his heart) sees the essence of the movement in terms of socialist ideals: I·m surprised that you consider that A T enthusiasts are in the main, interested in windmills or biotechnic, ·oft· gadgetry for their own sake,
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Surely BRAD, Street Farm and RadTech in pact are saying that Biotechnic A Tis both a metaphor and the appropriate technology for a society not based on the alienating, destructive world of monopoly capitalism (or state socialism), They are into A T for political reasons, viz for non·alienating work, workers· control, and self·management. Granted that choosing a technology for all these goals may be unrealisable, and almost any technology will be polluting to some degree, but such technology can hardly fail to be better than the main cast of developments during the past 30 years, which has been tailored to values inimical to those of radical critics of the technocratic state. A movement which has no common theme, it may be, but in uniting to seek for non·alienating work, self· sufficiency and demystifying expertise there cannot fail to be a central bond of sympathy, It·s probably fair to say that Street Farm and Rad Tech are exceptional cases and that most ATers are more interested in windmills than politics, but even Harold·s proposed unifying values are full of problems. Alienation is not abolished by AT, but as with environmental impact, substitutes one form for another (carrot·pulling backache instead of a·embly line blues); and only the simplest and most horribly rugged forms of AT abolish specialisation and expertise altogether. As for selfsufficiency, its implications are more ambivalent than many of us have suspected. As George Woolston asks: And then, when we have learned how to live self sufficiently, isolated in commune or ghetto, shall we too, like so many suburbanites·, become imprisoned by the separation we desired? This raises the whole question of autonomy and communality, both commonly·expre·ed values of the movement, rut whose,ambivalence and mutual antagonism are generally kept out of sight. Here·s a very clear statement by Robin Clarke of BRAD: Many soft technology communities exist simply for their own sake. Their motivation is a horror of the values of Western society, their problem is how to survive, and the solution adopted is primitive and/or neo·technologies. characteristically, such communities solve many of their problems by having a low input and output, adopting a puritanical approach to material demand and coupling this to a very catholic attitude to social and sexual organisation. In other words the easiest solutions to such problems as energy, food, and shelter are: use less . . So are these communities freak outs? (ie withdrawing from their
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·responsibilities·to the rest of society), Probably yes, in the sense that they have no demonstration effect (or a very limited one) because (i) their lifetimes are very short; and (ii) their approach is so puritanical as to be at best unimpressive and at worst repellent to most members of Western society. Withdrawing support from an oppressive and exploitative society is an honourable enough motivation (comparable perhaps with conscientious objection in wartime) although perhaps le· honourable than actively opposing the exploitation. On the other hand, while this ·freak·out· position has been called ·elitist·, it probably le· deserves the epithet than trying to impose unacceptable solutions on ordinary folk with orthodox tastes, The remaining alternative (which surely at least escapes the charge of elitism)accepting orthodox tastes as the datum for action·evoked this response from the venerable Basil Druitt: I don·t see the point of ·rejoining the human race·, which, under its present power·holders and their political agents, would be rejoining the Gadarene swine. The real i·ue seems not to be between on the one hand those groups who are doing their own thing and for whom ATs are no more political than making model aircraft and on the other those ·vanguard· groups who are try ing to get their ideas more widely practised. No, the real i·ue is whether the projects demonstrate valid, general alternatives or not. The question to ask is whether AT communities are really living ·within their means· or by hidden subsidies from the rest of society, disappearing into the countryside with an enormous stash of capital in the form of land, property or education. This is what Alph Moorcraft calls ·laager AT· (on the South African model) ·finding a nice place to maintain privileges. Bill McLarney of the New Alchemy Institute puts it concisely: If you can·t save the world, save your a·. Of which Jim deKorne says, ·If everyone did just that, the world wouldn·t need saving·. Unle· a subsidiary clause is understood: ·but not at the expense of others·, this seems to me exactly wrong: the worst kind of reactionary individualism. Let me change the subject to some responses which more or le· agreed with me (although sometimes for surprising reasons). This first one has an interesting ecological interpretation of the ·model aircraft· school of AT, but then goes on to suggest some heterodox (that is to say, scandalous)
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alternatives based on the (Odumy? Zipfy?) idea that the patterns of rank and wealth may flow from ecological forces from which it is our day and destiny to liberate ourselves: Nineteen A. T. Four The ·stinging reply· which Peter Harper desires, should it materialise, is likely to give little comfort. Slowly I have arrived at the same conclusion, and decided that the A T movement will come to be seen as a romantic backwater based on an outmoded system of ecological values. If this movement is romantic, then the necessary conclusion must be that ecology (as perceived by the movement) is dead, or at least dying. The central theme has been that since the impact of man is now global, ·he is obliged to revert to the parasite strategy, and manage his host·. AT seeks solutions to this dilemma, but has so for not questioned its own premises. Within the framework of ecology, A T can certainly be justified by analogy with rare biological species which exploit rare resources, or resources requiring specialised manipulative techniques. But accepting that diversity and stability are somehow linked, this role will not do much to hasten the revolution. But why should evolution stop at this stage? Can we not imagine a totally synthetic life·support system freed from all ecological constraints? Plastics (synthetic) are replacing paper (ecological) and it is not hard to imagine the same proce· taking place in all industries. Conservation of nature becomes a purely aesthetic necessity·and will remain so, I suspect, until we rewire the insides of our heads. While we retain ecological roots, we are not likely to realise those human ideals so often found hand i11 hand with the A T movement. The distribution of wealth and power among us is surely what we would anticipate so long as we remain trapped in the network of an ecosystem. Only when we turn our backs on it can we hope to be free. Tim Wyatt I can·t decide whether that was seriously meant, or whether I·ve been taken for a ride. Finally, there are two letters pointing somewhere in the direction I took in the article in Undercurrents 6· The first accepts the problem of goal· conflict and suggests the possibility of a composite measure (I could hardly have hoped for details). Among many other interesting points is
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one about the positive role of AT communities as ·red bases· in an overall political strategy: So the goals of A T conflict with each other? Why wouldn·t they? Human goals always have. If you had a model of an entire alternative economy you could ·WOrk out ways of measuring how much output there would be of everything you wanted, and how much resources each thing used. You would then need to decide on weighting factors for trading·off one advantage against another, so that you could get the max pa· satisfaction from what resources you had. This is of course what straight businesses do in their own terms: mathematical programming "",ere the constraints (in alternative economy) are finite resources (land, energy, people 5 time etc) and the function to be optimised is designed to measure human satisfaction. Your other point·that straight technological society is more pleasant to live in. For whom? Black workers in Namibia? The unemployed of Calcutta? Who wants to be waited on hand and foot by robots, have all the info in the British Museum available via personal computer terminal, and fly around the world whenever they feel like it?·ME: unfortunately it can·t be done. Not for everyone. We are living not only in a fool·s paradise in the long view, but at Other people·s expense now. Other points·AT is expensive. But you didn·t say in terms of what: money·or resources? Also it seems to be a capital expense you·re talking about·this may 6e offset in the long term, at least in terms of resources; otherwise, as you say, it wouldn·t be worth doing. On economies of scale, I see your point, but I think there·s a hidden reason for concentrating on small scale projects, and it·s political. If an AT project were to be dependent on large scale power generation, for example, this could be a danger to it, because at this time large scale power, and many other large scale enterprises, are controlled by the state or capitalist concerns, which would be able to crush the project if it got succe·ful enough to challenge them in some way (of course there·s probably sentimental isolationism coming into this advocacy of small·scale projects too). At some stage an alternative economy would need to control some large·scale concerns, certainly. The demand for succe·ful nuclear fusion might well be as great in an alternative economy as in the present one. I think you·re right to stre· that a different technology won·t in itself change society (the rich have windmills and the poor, power cuts!), But if the new economy we need involves people having more autonomy it won·t,
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for that very reason, be something you can prescribe with a formula. All we could predict would be the kind of decisions people would have to make, I don·t know what kind of economy you have in mind yourself, but for me one of the valuable things about A T is the hope it gives people of being in charge of their own live seven if one does sometimes get carried aIWY by Robinson Crusoe euphoria. Finally how nice to have someone playing devil·s advocate for a change. Love and peace Diana Forrest And this last one also sees AT·s as part of an overall strategy, particularly highlighting the dialectical relationship of technical, social and economic factors: I was very interested to read the first port of your restatement of aims in UC5. I think you·ve raised a number of fundamental questions which need to be discu·ed as rigorously as possible. Far from making your past work obsolete, I would say your new approach could only have come out of that. That·s evolution brother. ·The ideal of a unified movement seemed hopele·· .. is that what you ""re looking for? Failure to apply the ecological model to the social/ organisational dimension: our best hope is. a complex of different research directions surely; we should emphasise flexibility and diversity and interaction of same. So this does not mean everyone disappearing into rural retreats but presupposes good communications amongst not only A T devotees, but also with those into related fields. Hence the overriding importance of Undercurrents etc. Utopianism .. is a concept that seems to creep into UC for too often .. "" are all aware of the mind fucking potential of a liberatory technology so 1) it·s not necessary to talk about ·what it will be like· (it won·t anyway). This will be impliCit if we talk about what actual developments we can make now .. no miracles, just as many as possible do·more·with·Ie· ideas that really work. 2) It·s clearly not a question of just redesigning the technology and expecting everything to be OK from then on·this is one crucial change that must be a) ongoing, and b) parallel to those in the economic and social spheres. Not a oncessand·for·all revolution, but permanent revolution (stand up Leon) on as high a level as possible continually feeding back to and questioning its own a·umptions and
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consequences. Most important,you raise the question of economics, which has been sadly mi·ing from UC so far. In a very real sense basic economics is what radical technology must be about .. increasing productivity, changing the nature of cost inputs and value output, reorganising the structure etc. Conventional economics, in not counting the environmental and human factors in its costs comes up with some pretty lopsided production and distribution systems. Eco·technology must take account of all factors, and if one scheme can·t be done yet without ma·ive time inputs .. well that one still needs to be worked on. Really I believe that ·alternative economics·is what the whole proce· must be about .. what soft technology does is to make practically possible alternative systems of organisation .. social and economic structures are heavily influenced by the given technostructure, and your work constitutes a crucial contribution to the proce· of continuous revolution (or, as it is known in the sociology trade, rapid social change). Fraternally, Richard Reynish I·d be pages trying to comment on these two letters, so I·ll let them speak for themselves. Morte d’ A. T. I have not done justice to the subtleties of any of the replies, but I certainly don·t feel refuted. I become even more certain that, although some still wait in hope, the central millennial vision of Alternative Technology will ultimately refuse to be made flesh. It should at least be clear that at the present stage of development. AT·s cannot be wheeled into a typical domestic situation and provide all the basic amenities reliably and at reasonable cost. They are only practicable in conjunction with changes of lifestyle and standards of consumption. .. To which one response is, ·Exactly, we want life·styles to change!· ·Whose?· ·Everyone’s·. But this is the grossest arrogance: what Robin Clarke calls ·Blueprintism the desire to stuff the whole of humanity into a mould of your own devising. Oh. In that case, another response is, ·We won·t presume to tell anyone else what to do, we·ll just go away quietly and do it in a corner somewhere·.
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But this is ·freaking out·: an abrogation of responsibility to the People, whose concerns should be the principal guide to principled action. In this case, you should abandon AT altogether and cleave to the values and tastes of the ma·es. What? But this is an absurd endorsement of philistine values created by consumer capitalism: joining the Gadarene swine .. ·Blueprintism·. ·freaking out·, and ·joining the Gadarene swiness seem to be three of the more prominent. logical/ethical alternatives, probably reflecting basic cla· interests, temperamental leanings, stale karma etc. For such reasons they are likely to stick around, and it would be nice if we could find some softer versions that favour co·operation rather than conflict (I·m feeling in a conciliatory mood after all that bullshit about Taking a Stand). Blueprintism for example should be more of a dialogue, like that between the Red Army and the peasants in China in the 40·s: both sides had half an idea of what they should do, they earned each other·s respect and evolved policies by constantly exchanging ideas and sharing action. Freaking out should involve getting on with the neighbours in the local community, and discreet use of the ·Tom Sawyer·s Fence· effect, whereby (for example) curiosity and the frequent monotony of rural life combine to make people quite voluntarily try out all sorts of things that would alarm their grandparents, or the CBI. The gadarene swineherds could get into community. struggles (squalling, traffic, kids etc) where values are anyway in proce· of change. and where a bit of urban AT might become appropriate. I·ve put these and a few other things into a diagram. All parts shouId cooperate with all the other parts, although it would be silly to spend too much time self·consciously ·co·operating·, I·ve drawn it as if it·s ·balanced·. but of course anyone else will think it·s absurdly biased. Probably I·m a temperamental blueprinter and can·t help trying to co·opt everything in sight into my folie de grandeur (wot?). This is the way I see it today. For a completely different point of view, ask me next week. Fraternally, (my God, is this sexist?) Peter Harper.

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IT COULD HAPPEN HERE The New Technology of Repression. Lessons from Ireland. BSSRS paper No 2. 52 pages. 30p. Available from The British Society for Social Responsibility in Science, 9 Poland Street, London W1 V 3DG. Tel 01·437 2728. TO SELECT the most spine-chilling pieces of military technology from the BSSRS paper and to briefly rivet your attention with them would be to miss the point. The newspapers (the more liberal ones, anyway) and the television give you plenty of that, simultaneously concealing the political logic which underlies the use of each technological weapon in a specific situation. In Ireland, British forces are getting their first real practice in suppressing insurgency in a fairly advanced capitalist country. The experience of the Army·s thirty·odd counter·insurgency operations around the world since the second world war has not all been wasted, of course. But the techniques must be modified or improved: the wooden ·baton·round· developed in Hong·Kong is replaced by the somewhat less lethal rubber bullet; the sheer physical brutality of the Kenyan concentration camps makes way for the subtler mental torture of sensory deprivation. The BSSRS paper finds little evidence that these ·improved· techniques save lives and suffering, as the Army sometimes argues. CS gas, for example, is not an alternative to guns but an additional weapon specially suited for punishing the population as a whole. Canisters are fired into houses. In Andersonstown CS was fired into a Wendy House where young children were playing·not a ghastly mistake but a typical event, described by the children·s mother at the recent Troops Out Movement conference on the Army. The conference, incidentally, was worthy of a full report. Hopefully, the TOM will publish one in one form or another, but for the time being the BSSRS paper is the best summary available. It contains most of the information from Jonathan Rosenhead·s conference paper on ·Technology·, and also some background and historical material which shows the influence of the other conference speakers. And the message of all this material is that after Ireland, the Army expects its next assignment to be in Britain itself. The joint operation with the police at Heathrow, the mobilisation at the time of the miners strike, and statements by senior soldiers of whom Kitson is merely the most publicised, are all signs that the army is actively preparing for operations within Britain. Whatever illusions the Left may have that class
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struggle in Britain is simply continuing at its usual level and will do so until some unspecified revolutionary millenium (which we all hope will be far enough in the future for us not to get hurt ourselves, but not so far away that our magnificent work for the revolution won·t be remembered) the Army believes class struggle is going to intensify, fast. The role of technology in the Army·s strategy is intimately tied up with propaganda and use of the media. The BSSRS paper makes this clear, though we must still wait for a full analysis of the workings of Army PR in Ireland, and the manipulation of the British news media. The most interesting case occurred in 1971, when for the first few weeks of internment, prisoners were subjected to sensory deprivation and depth interrogation. BSSRS argues that this wasn·t really intended to extract information; in any case half those interrogated were not even members of the IRA. The object appears to have been to terrorise the population outside. Thus it was important that news should leak out into the Catholic areas and that the Army and the RUC had a new and irresistible ·secret weapon·. At the same time, the story was effectively kept from the British public for two months. And when it did come out, the torture was whitewashed by the Compton report which took advantage of the innocent-sounding nature of the procedures; standing against a wall with a hood over your head, while white noise is played into your ears, sounds unusual but hardly brutal. (I n fact, the Government admitted later that some internees suffered permanent mental damage, and paid one of them, Patrick Shivers, £15,000 damages in the Belfast High Court). That particular style of interrogation was quickly banned but even the ban had a political motive. According to Jonathan Rosenhead, the Tory Government wanted to give the Catholics an olive branch after Bloody Sunday. The case of sensory deprivation shows that sometimes the best countermeasure to a repressive technology is a political one. The authorities in an advanced country with good communications and an educated public are inevitably PR-conscious. Some technologies will be used to terrorise; others will be withdrawn, as SD was, because they get bad publicity. Someone said at the TOM conference that the British Left has been much too complacent about the new technologies of riot control and repression introduced in Ireland. We could have made much more fuss, an d the Government would have responded to pressure. This is not to suggest that public outrage will always stop the security forces
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from introducing new and nasty gadgets; but it certainly can interfere with the subtle political use of those gadgets in a war where the object is not to annihilate /he people but to control them. The people can take the matter a stage further by developing their own counter·technology. This is still at an early stage, but the BSSRS paper does at least give some treatments for victims of CS gas, and tells you what to do when faced with the dreaded ·photic driver· (close one eye or wear an eye·patch, and flashing lights will have little effect on your brainwaves)_ This information will be of immediate use to those currently receiving the attention of Her Majesty·s forces. It should also stop the rest of us from getting so scared of what they can do to us that we give up any hope of resistance. Resistance to technological warfare is possible. Vietnam showed it, and so does Ireland. CS McCanister (The address of the Troops Out Movement is 28 Lammas Park Road, Ealing W5). Alternative Technology and the Politics of Technological Change, by David Dickson. Fontana, 50p. IN ITS SOBER and modest way, David Dickson·s opening volume in Fontana·s Technosphere series has a 50/50 chance of being one of the most genuinely subversive books to appear for several years. Books, particularly mass market paperback ones, hold the potential to reach through into the minds of a vast audience, but the mere availability of a set of ideas and arguments at a low price, is, alas, no guarantee that the magic process of dissemination, proselytisation, and conversion will take place. Alternative Technology is not a book for insiders; most of the ideas and references will be familiar to readers of Undercurrents. For us, 1 think, we will admire his marshalling of the various strands of theory behind the alternative/ soft/intermediate/low·impact technology activity and be disappointed with the coverage of practical experimentation. But such a reaction would somehow miss the point; this book is a work of reportage and interpretation and is presumably directed at an aware but uninformed audience. The question in my mind is whether David Dickson) reasoned and persistent style, his apparatus of footnotes and the books surface appearance of respectability is going to enable it to act as a Trojan horse undermining, to good effect, the City Where Objective Technology Rules, or whether a more shrill, polemical approach would not have been more to the point.
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The subtitle, The Politics of Technical Change, indicates the author·s main argument. Neither science nor technology are socially neutral forces_ In the two best chapters, The Ideology of Industrialisation and The Politics of Technical Change, Dickson attempts to show how technology and more especially the development of technology responds to social needs rather than the other way around; the notion that human ·progress· has been due to the more·or·Iess accidental discovery of new theories and invention of new techniques, is not only historically false, but helps to bolster up the idea of the neutrality of science. For my money, I think he overstates his case; to the non·determinist, history is, above all, about accidental interactions the debate about technology and political requirements seems to me to be akin to another eternal unanswerable historical dualism: are the great revolutions in man·s past due to the emergence of changing political and social needs, or to the existence of great men ready and able to act as leaders? But let that pass; too often theorising about alternative technology degenerates into a set of ill·assorted reading lists of ·relevant· subjects. One of the more tragic by·product of early specialisation in the English education system is that outside their own murky and arbitrarily defined subject area, intelligent people seem totally lacking in any awareness of ideas about the constructs other disciplines have put on how the world works. David Dickson is extraordinarily well·read ·history, anthropology, politics, philosophy, literature. economics, even semiology-he seems to have been able to draw ably from all without arousing too much suspicion that he has pulled his information from the back·cover blurbs rather than the inside; and even if he has, he shows considerable skill in relating sets of ideas to one another. This book gives probably the first coherent ·world·view· of the ideas behind alternative technology and for that we must be very grateful. The fact that most insiders will probably want to apply some degree of corrective to bring the theory into line with their own perception is more·or·Iess irrelevant; Dickson has given us a starting point for reasoned discussion by fitting the various strands of socialism, humanism, anarchism, and libertarianism together. The second line to his argument about the politics of technical change
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is that whilst one must not see technology as politically neutral, neither should one see it as a force of itself for change. He describes in two chapters some forms of what he calls Utopian technology and in a following one, intermediate technology (he does this adequately but without conveying any real sense of excitement or involvement and why aren·t there any illustrations?) but at the end, he makes a criticism of those who think that merely by utilising some of the techniques of AT, change will take place immediately_ We still have to think a·;,d act politically_ Building an autonomous house, utilising non·depletive stocks of energy, or devising small scale egg·box making machines are experiments in technique. Unless translated into political action, however, they get you nowhere. And there, at the moment,is ATs weakness; it seems simply to be substituting ·progress through alternative science and technology· for the conventional wisdom of ·progress through science and technology·. But this begs the question of what is meant by ·progress· and though Dickson doesn·t really enter this zone, what now becomes at stake (as it was all along, if only we were aware of it) is our sets of needs, ambitions and values · what sort of life·style do we want and how do we achieve it? What is our model for change · do we develop I and aim for a theoretical Utopia (libertarian, elitist, Marxist, Buddhist, anarchistic) or do we drift along ·pragmatically· or unilaterally because there is too much chance and hazard in life anyway for such constructs to be more than intellectual vanities and the important thing is what goes on inside one·s head? It is this personal worry about how ·change· is to be effected that concerns me about David Dickson·s book, which itself is presumably intended as a vehicle of change. In many ways, given the opportunity at his disposal to write a searing polemic which, though ·irresponsible·, would make a wide public stop and examine its basic assumptions (remember the Fontana sales force can move vast quantities of Alastair Maclean and Agatha Christie), he has failed. His book is not subversive in that sense. On the other hand, his careful and restrained style, with little hint of immodest anger, may commend itself to the thousands of scientists and tech·nologists who have not the slightest idea that their work is anything but value·free. I f some of them are seduced by Dickson·s arguments, then one of the cornerstones of capitalist power will start to crumble as technologists make their own minds up about how they
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are to use their activities. Such a result would indeed be subversive, corroding away traditional power structures, but would in itself hold dangers · a ruling elite of technologists is little more welcome than a society dominated by the ownership of capital. Here, I think, lies the weakness of the book. Though carefully edited with plenty of the, ·First I am going to say what I intend to tell you, then I am going to tell it, and then I am going to summarise what I have said· approach which makes for easy reading and also is a welcome change from the jumbled hand·written folksy catalogues of which we have seen too much, this book is too modest in its ambitions by half. Dickson, perhaps because he is basically a journalist (though he was the first paid worker of the BSSRS) has been too content to sit back and be dispassionate and has set his own views too much at the rear. He spends much time on the intellectually elegant notion that technology can be seen as a language of social action and not nearly enough on the ·science for the people·/community science debate. If AT is really about politics, shouldn·t he have aimed his book more at ordinary people? Lorenz, Rattray Taylor, Ehrlich and Morris are all scientists or science writers who have reached a wide audience. David Dickson has written an admirable and worthy book. I would now like to sec him write a popular one. Peter Sommer AliVE AND CYNICAl The Oil Fix: An Investigation into the Control and Costs of Energy. 60p + lOp p & p from CIS, 52 Shaftesbury Avenue, London Wl; one·third discount for 10 or more copies. Counter Information Services have started bringing out their ·anti·reports· regularly every two months · a brave move if they plan to keep their standards up. For this one, they invite you on a tour of the energy business, to a world where one company (Burmah) have 280 subsidiaries, where companies have larger turnovers than countries and use armies as private police forces. A world where Esso·s profits for last year reached over two billion dollars and where the oil companies have long since bought into the alternative energy sources such as nuclear power, tar sands and oil shale, heading for their twenty-first century role as ·Energy
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Corporations .. The ,dazzling hypocrisy of the oil companies is seen in its full splendour; apparent Tiger·in·Tank competition the facade for nearly a century of rigorous price cartels; condemnation of moves by producing countries to gain a fairer percentage of oil price, while millions of dollars are made just by leaving oil off the US coast in tankers for a few days. After an amazing account of the oil industry, the report moves into the less spectacular fields of coal and nuclear energy with a succinct treatment of the coal situation · but, after the fireworks preceding, a disappointing coverage of the nuclear energy position. But buy the report, and see how to exploit oil and coal producers for decades and raise hell when they try the same on you. It·s a well·written compact and easily read book, and as comprehensive as can be within the size (48 A4 pages); as well as startlingly up to date. The Troubleshooters arc alive and cynical, from Hull to Houston. Maureen Brent SELL! We·re only too well aware that the distribution of Undercurrents to bookshops and news·stands is highly unsatisfactory at the moment. And we·ve tried to plug in to the normal distribution channels, but the trouble with most commercial distributors and wholesalers is that they just don·t want to know about new magazines unless they·re ·sure·sellers·, backed by enough money to pay for nation·wide advertising and print runs up in the hundred thousands. We·re determined, however, to get around the woeful inadequacies of Britain·s magazine·shifting system. In a nutshell, we want you, our readers, to become our distributors. We don·t expect anyone to do it ·just for the money·, but we don·t see why you should do it for nothing, either. Selling magazines requires a certain amount of time and effort, and we think such efforts should be rewarded at rates comparable to those which prevail in the distribution trade. So we·re offering you a discount of 40 per cent if you order more than 10 copies from us. After we·ve paid the cost of posting them to you, we·re hoping to get about the same nett amount back as we would have got from a straight distributor. * We reckon there are potential Undercurrents readers everywhereColleges, Factories, Schools, Offices, Universities, Clubs, Pubs, Prisons,
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Societies, Mental Hospitals, the local labour Exchange ... But if you don·t feel like being a salesperson, why not just take a few copies round to your local newsagent or bookshops They·ll ask for a 25 to 33 per cent discount, usualIy, and they won·t pay you until they·ve sold the copies, but the few coppers you·ll make on the deal will at least pay for your bus fare. ORDER FORM NAME ..........¥¥.......... I enclose a cheque/postal order for £ ¥.¥¥ in payment for .... copies of Undercurrents Number .... at 21p a copy. (Minimum order, 10 copies). I understand that Undercurrents will buy back any copies which I return in good condition at 21p per copy. *If you can collect copies directly from us at 275 Finchley Road, London, NW3 on a ·cash and carry· basis, we·ll even raise the discount to 50 per cent. Synopses of appropriate technology student projects 1970·72. Published by Academics Against Poverty, (25 Wilton Road, London SW1 V 1 )5, England. Tel: 01á828·7611) in co·operation with Intermediate Technology Development Group Ltd. 61pp. Price £0.20 or two international reply coupons. BEFORE YOU rush off to start a research project on methane, windmills or whatever, check that someone hasn·t already done it all at a university somewhere. Here are 24 technology projects carried out by students at universities and polytechnics in Britain, with the needs of developing countries in mind. Yes, solar water·pumps have been tested in Liverpool. and a reciprocating wind..power machine has flapped merrily in an Imperial College wind tunnel. Not just for fun, either: most of these projects started with the needs and conditions of the African countryside, and went on from there to select and study suitable technologies. Contrast-the British eco·freak who has his brainwave and then starts looking for a suitably fertile, sun-drenched, or windy site on which to start building. Field work was necessarily limited, l:but some of the students concerned came from developing countries themselves so they at least should know what they are talking about. Actually some of the most interesting work seems to have been done neither in the field nor in the lab, but in the library. The Electrical Research Association·s wind·power experiments are
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well·known by now, but Mike Brookes of Kingston Poly has gathered neglected data on far more grandiose schemes devised in the USSR. And a really fascinating project done by Alex Weir when he was at UMIST led to the design of a simple lathe for metal turning, based on those built by 18th century pioneers. Another source of inspiration for Weir was Needham·s Science and Civilisation in China. Other projects likely to interest Undercurrents readers include a state of the·art review of wind power, a critical survey of power supplies for developing countries, a short bibliography on methane, and a compilation on every type of fastener from nails to metal·stitching. Much of this material may be readily available elsewhere, but it is hard to judge, having only seen the 61·page book of synopses, and not the project reports themselves. You have to write to the universities concerned for the actual reports. Don·t unless you·re serious. The projects are highly specialised, mission oriented and academically thorough, and even reading the synopses will make the abstract thinkers among you yearn for the magnificent generalisations of lIIich or Bookchin. But if you·re doing something specific and practical, especially in the Third World. this book will be a useful addition to your collection of access information. Tony Durham Long·lived phenomenon THE MAGAZINE which tries to relate the sciences and the mystic arts, Phenomenon (see UC 6, p46), has undergone a major metamorphosis before even its first issue burst on the world. Instead of four issues a year, they now plan to bring out a book size volume every six months or so, starting late summer 1974. It will be A4 size, with a glossy paper cover (like Stefan Szczelkun·s Energy Scrapbook, if you·ve seen it). Price about £1.00. It·ll be widely circulated in ordinary bookshops in Britain and the USA. At least, it will if Phenomenon·s deal with their big co·publisher comes off. Tony Durham Details from Phenomenon Publications Ltd., 52 lfield Road, london SW10. Telephone 01·352·9030.

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OBC: We were going to put a funny picture on tile back cover, until we saw this piece from Peoples News Service ...

Behaviour Modification
Winter Soldier, organ of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War/Winter Soldier Organisation, reports in its latest issue on the increasing use of behaviour modification, techniques in US prisons. It introduces the article with the words of Professor James McConnell of the Department of Mental Health Research at the University of Michigan: ·The day has come when we can combine sensory deprivation with the use of drugs. hypnosis and the astute manipulation of reward and punishment to gain almost absolute control over an individual·s behaviour·. These extracts from the article give a glimpse of what Prof McConnell has in mind .. SINCE THE early sixties, federal and state corrections departments have been investigating ways to modify the behaviour of prisoners who present any sort of threat to the order of prison life, As prisoners have become increasingly politically aware and developed a history of resistance to the oppression which stifles them every day, prison authorities have found it ·necessary·to provide facilities for ·aggressive and manipulative prisoners who are resistant to authority·, (These quotes are taken from the outline of Project START, a behaviour modification project of the Springfield, Missouri, Federal Prison). The basic philosophy guiding these behavioural projects is well expressed by Dr·Edgar Schein associate professor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a behaviour modification enthusiast. Schein explains: ·My basic argument is this: in order to produce marked change of behaviour and/ or attitude, it is necessary to weaken, undermine, or remove the supports to the old patterns of behaviour and the old attitudes·. This may be done ·either by removing the individual physically and preventing any communication with those whom he cares about, or by proving to him that those whom he respects are not worthy of it and, indeed, should be actively mistrusted·, Some of the techniques which Schein suggests for the prisons of this country include: ·social disorganisation and the creation of mutual mistrust· achieved by ·spying on the men and reporting back private material·; ·tricking men into written statements· which are then shown to others with the object being ·to convince most men they could trust no.one·; ·undermining ties to home by the systematic withholding of
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mail· plus the segregation of natural leaders, and the physical removal of prisoners to isolated areas so as to break or weaken close emotional ties. Of the new ·sophisticated· techniques of dealing with ·troublesome· prisoners one of the most widely used methods of modifying behaviour and breaking the prisoner·s spirit has been ·drug assaults·. Prison officials, with the help of psychiatrists and drug companies (Updike, Squibb and Lederle Labs) have been experimenting for several years to find ways to modify behaviour through the use of powerful and dangerous drugs. One such powerful drug is Prolixin, a drug which has been used in prisons such as Vacaville, California, Patuxtent, Maryland and the Illinois Security Hospital for several years. Prolixin is a more powerful counterpart of Thorazine and is a depressant which lingers in effect for two weeks. According to its manufacturer, ER Squibb, Prolixin is a highly potent behaviour modifier with a markedly extended duration of effect·. ·side effects· include: ·the induction of a ·catatonic like state·, nausea, loss of appetite, constipation, blurred vision, glaucoma, bladder paralysis, impotency, liver damage, hyptertension severe enough to cause fatal cardiac arrest·. t can also lead to a persistent palsy·like disorder. On top of this, ·the symptoms persist after drug withdrawal, and in some patients appear to be irreversible·. An even more frightening drug is Anectine. a derivative of the South American arrow·tip poison, Curare. When Anectine is injected into a person in a conscious state, it slows heartbeat, causes respiratory arrest and will make the subject feel as if he/she is dying.· Dr Arthur Nugent, chief psychiatrist at Vacaville prison, says that Anectine induces ·sensations of suffocation and drowning·. The subject experiences feelings of deep horror and terror, as though he were on the brink of death·. Nugent claims, ·even the toughest inmates have come to fear and hate the drug. I don·t blame them. I wouldn·t have one treatment for the world·. Both of these drugs (two of many such drugs used in prison ·experimentation·) reduce the prisoners to vegetables and make them unable to think clearly or react with emotion. Because of the vulnerable frame of mind that the prisoners are placed in. while under such treatment, they are scolded for their behaviour and told to shape up or they will be given further doses of the drugs. The spirit of the prisoner is so drastically broken that the prison psychiatrist then is able to control a person who will be more readily amenable to behaviour conditioning.
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Another method of behaviour conditioning which has been consistently used in prisons and mental hospitals is aversive conditioning. This method gives negative reinforcement for behaviour which is to be changed, including the use of electric shock and emotive drugs. By the use of electric shock, prison psychiatrists have "attempted to ·cure· homosexuals by showing the individual ·homosexual· movies· while his penis is wired. When the prisoner becomes sexually excited, his penis is shocked. Emetics (drugs which induce nausea) are used in the same manner as shock treatment. A prisoner will be shown a movie of a bank robbery and injected with the drug which makes him/her violently sick. If this procedure is repeated often, the prisoner will become nauseous at . the very thought of robbing banks. Perhaps the most frightening method of Modifying behaviour· is the use of lobotomy and electro·shock to the brain, Lobotomies leave people in a totally passive state·a human·robot who will perform tasks with no emotional response. Lobotomies may also be performed by implanting radioactive radium seeds in the brain. By using electrodes, a lobotomist can destroy the brain cells gradually and can stimulate areas of the brain in order to cause pleasure, pain and reflex actions in the prisoner. The purpose of psychosurgery is to stop ·aggressive behaviour· and characteristics which do not conform to prison life. All of these programmes have met with courageous resistance · hungerstrikes, work stoppages, and court litigation on the part of the prisoners. This has been successful to ·the extent that the START (Special Training and Rehabilitative Treatment) programme at Springfield has been cancelled. 9Jt a special 200·bed, £Sv, million experimental ·facility· opened this spring at Butner, North Carolina, with the objective of establishing a small microcosm of the outside world. Prisoners· behaviour will be modified until they ·get along· and conform with everything in that world.

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