The Memory Palace

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Episode 16:
Secret Kitty

Jul 24,2009

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Music, Footnotes & Ephemera

The bookending music is “Ptah, the El Daoud” from Alice Coltrane’s album of the same, very-1970 name. Then there are two, slightly chopped up songs from Broadcast (both on “Work and Non-Work”), Phantom and The Book Lovers.

You can read about Acoustic Kitty (yes, that’s actually what they called the project) all over the place–there were lots of news articles when the files were declassified several years ago. However, my favorite thing on the web is an actual declassified document. Even after the cat dies and the mission’s a total failure, the scientists clearly feel pretty awesome: despite being “convinced that the program would not lend itself to [their] highly specialized needs,” they declare victory in the quest to train a cat to go short distances, even if they can’t control to where, and proclaim it “a remarkable scientific achievement.” To which I say: way to go. You spent millions of 1966 dollars. Sliced open live animals. Inserted wires and microphones and zapped them with electrical charges and now they can go short distances. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

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9 Comments | Leave a Comment

9 Comments on Secret Kitty

  1. Garrett Moon says:

    I love these stories! Keep making them!

  2. Jason says:

    Love the story – although as a one-time Washingtonian, hearing Wisconsin “Street” instead of “Avenue” made me cringe. I probably shouldn’t nitpick though.

  3. admin says:

    thanks for the catch. I’ll get in there and fix it….

  4. Ben says:

    The CIA provided yet another way (and reason) to skin a cat…

  5. ward says:


  6. alexandra says:

    peanut now lives on with us. amazing tale. thank you.

  7. Pingback: Acoustic Kitty: Uma Operação da Inteligência Americana, será mesmo? |

  8. Don Stevens says:

    Been catching up since hook-up with Maximum Fun. This story had a great spy twist and hit me so that I needed to pull over.. Love the idea and will continue to listen through the rest of the previous released stories.

    Great work and story telling.

  9. Katie says:

    How sad! Why not use a dog you could actually train, too suspicious?

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