Friday, December 3, 2010

Markovian parallax denigrate

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Back in the prehistory of the Internet, numerous messages like the one quoted here, long strings of apparently random words, were posted to Usenet with the subject line "Markovian parallax denigrate".
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Some were signed "Susan Lindauer"; while this name may have been as randomly selected as the words themselves, it happens to be the name of an American journalist suspected of working as a spy for the Iraqi government
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If the Markovian messages were indeed signals rather than noise (e.g., nonsense created by an experimental random generator), they could be the Internet equivalent of numbers stations on shortwave radio, through which spies send coded strings of numbers or NATO alphabet letters which look random to those who don't have the key.
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The world may never know.
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(Update, December 10: I managed to dig up a sample of the original messages, which all have different random subject lines and bizarre randomly-selected sender names such as "Eric Inhale" and "Glyceride". There are pages and pages of these, amounting to thousands of messages, all with the same time stamp. I also found this thread, which speculates that the messages were the work of a banned user who hijacked someone else's computer:
The only common denominator is that the posting host has been set to Jan Isleys machine in Atlanta - probably as revenge for his legitimate cancelling activities.
The name of the perp that springs to mind is Bob Allisat... It may not be, but it has the same level of content and interest as the blank verse he spams across Usenet :)   He also has a long running (and on Bobs side) bitter feud with Jan & Atlanta in general.
This does strike me as more plausible than the messages being a form of covert communication.)

1 comment:

  1. Oddly, there was a recent episode of Fringe about the numbers stations, so I actually know what you're talking about.

    In any case, fascinating.