Archive for January, 2008

USS Pueblo: Cold War Casualty


40 years ago this week the North Korean military captured a small US electronic surveillance ship in what was generally considered international waters off the east coast of North Korea. The incident was notable at the time because it marked the only occasion since the 19th century that an American captain surrendered his warship to a foreign power. The confiscation of sensitive NSA equipment also meant the Soviet Union could eavesdrop on our military communications (further assisted by the fact American spy John Anthony Walker had provided the Soviets with code keys around the same time). One of the most unfortunate aspects of the incident was how Commander Lloyd M. Bucher was scapegoated by the US government. Only thinking of his crews’ safety as multiple North Korean gun boats attempted to corral him, Bucher choose not to throw the tarps off his .50 caliber machine guns and instead tried to flee the area. Engaging the North Koreans would have certainly led to hostilities, which would have meant numerous deaths on the poorly armed Pueblo. Instead, the captain surrendered the ship and the crew thus endured extremely harsh detention and torture for eleven months.

The reality of the incident is the blame was tragically misplaced. It was the NSA and the US Navy who dropped the ball, not Bucher. The US Navy knew the North Koreans were becoming more belligerent regarding spy missions conducted by the US. Commander Bucher was never warned of this and took the actions of the North Koreans as routine harassment instead of hostile. Also, the NSA did not properly train its spies in the
destruction of equipment or documents in a situation where the ship might be captured. There was also an Oregon connection in the Pueblo tragedy: the only fatality was an Oregonian, Naval Reservist Duane Hodges from Creswell.

1 comment January 26th, 2008

Winter NAMM 2008


I was kind of into Summer NAMM ‘06 as you can see from a previous post, but Winter NAMM ‘08 is a bit of a snoozer. Not much in the way of new electronic gadgets, but there were some interesting tweaks to existing products like a new (Mini) Moog Voyager sans all the fancy bidness like patch storage and MIDI. Still insanely expensive though…like $2,400. Don’t they know there is a recession going on? Moog did update the Little Phatty (I just tasted vomit in my mouth as I was typing “Little Phatty”) by adding USB and an arpeggiator, so those changes are welcome.


Access released a new version of the Virus which I think is kind of retarded. Don’t get me wrong, the Virus is a nice enough sounding synth, but I just imagine their target market being rich Eurotrash bedroom ‘musicians’ making really horrible trance music. Really, I’d prefer to have the Waldorf Blofeld, which is finally hitting the streets. It will be selling for around $699.00 — just about the same amount George Bush will be giving us to spend our way out of a recession. Coincidence? I think not.


And then there is the Prophet ‘08 rack from Dave Smith Instruments, which is basically the Prophet keyboard chopped down and stuffed into a 19 inch case. Yawn. Oh, and for some unkown reason, there were a ton of drum machines at NAMM this winter. I just figured everyone was making their beats and loops on laptops these days, but what do I know.


In a total WTF? moment, someone seemed to have randomely displayed a new Vox Continental organ in a corner of a display booth. I don’t know if this is a joke or not, but it looks totally cool in a ‘nobody asked for it but were gonna build it anyway’ kind of way.

Again, thanks to Brandon at fdisc for the photos I swiped.

UPDATE: Tara Busch has the skinny on that new Vox Continental organ — it’s a one off for NAMM. The internals are provided courtesy of a Korg CX-3. For a video report on Tara’s encounter with the Vox, go here.

1 comment January 19th, 2008


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