Walking through walls!

While watching Die Hard the other night—easily one of the best architectural films of the past 25 years—I kept thinking about an essay called “Lethal Theory” by Eyal Weizman—itself one of the best and most consequential architectural texts of the past decade…

In it, Weizman—an Israeli architect and prominent critic of that nation’s territorial policy—documents many of the emerging spatial techniques used by the Israeli Defense Forces in their high-tech, legally dubious 2002 invasion of Nablus. During that battle, Weizman writes, “soldiers moved within the city across hundred-meter-long ‘overground-tunnels’ carved through a dense and contiguous urban fabric.” Their movements were thus almost entirely camouflaged, with troop movements hidden from above by virtue of always remaining inside buildings. “Although several thousand soldiers and several hundred Palestinian guerrilla fighters were maneuvering simultaneously in the city,” Weizman adds, “they were so ‘saturated’ within its fabric that very few would have been visible from an aerial perspective at any given moment.”

Worthy of particular emphasis is Weizman’s reference to a technique called “walking through walls”:

Furthermore, soldiers used none of the streets, roads, alleys, or courtyards that constitute the syntax of the city, and none of the external doors, internal stairwells, and windows that constitute the order of buildings, but rather moved horizontally through party walls, and vertically through holes blasted in ceilings and floors.

The commander describes his forces as acting “like a worm that eats its way forward, emerging at points and then disappearing…Indeed, the commander thus exhorted his troops as follows: “There is no other way of moving! If until now you were used to moving along roads and sidewalks, forget it! From now on we all walk through walls!”

Brilliant article. Equally brilliant description from several sources – describing one aspect of guerrilla warfare. Broadly speaking, a topic near and dear to my heart.

‘Nuff said.

(Thank you very much, Geoff Manaugh)

Putin Accuses West of ‘Satanism’


Russian TV screen grab

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech at the Kremlin today where he announced the annexation of portions of Ukraine in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia. In his speech he accused the West of being satanists and said that Russia wants to lead an anti-colonial movement to smash the West. He then formally announced the annexation of territory that Russia invaded and took by force…

Putin’s speech and the annexation of these territories is the culmination of a war that began in 2014 when Kremlin-backed forces seized Crimea and pieces of eastern Ukraine.

“I want the Kyiv authorities and their real masters in the West to hear me, so that they remember this. People living in Luhansk and Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are becoming our citizens. Forever,” Putin said in his speech, according to a translation from Reuters. “We call on the Kyiv regime to immediately end hostilities, end the war that they unleashed back in 2014 and return to the negotiating table. We are ready for this … But we will not discuss the choice of the people in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. That has been made. Russia will not betray them.”

The article goes on and on from there. I don’t care if he believes his bullshit or not. It doesn’t matter much to the occasion. He’s speaking to his followers, fellows-in-arms, True Believers and opportunists alike.

Americans and Brits and NATO parrots will chide his language and choice of rationales for the military acquisition of land and people. The only difference from the same actions by folks who do the same – only under different flags in the West is language and syntax. Imperialism has never been owned exclusively by one nation.

US Army Grounds Entire Fleet of 400 Chinook Helicopters

The US Army has grounded its entire fleet of some 400 CH-47 Chinook transport helicopters after engine fires broke out on a few of them, a spokeswoman for the service said Tuesday evening.

“The Army has identified the root cause of fuel leaks that caused a small number of engine fires among an isolated number of H-47 helicopters, and is implementing corrective measures to resolve this issue,” the spokeswoman, Cynthia Smith said in a statement…

The iconic twin-engine aircraft, an Army workhorse for six decades, is manufactured by the Boeing Co. and its engines are made by Honeywell International Inc…

Boeing referred questions to the Army. Honeywell said in a statement that, working with the Army, it had “helped discover that O-rings not meeting Honeywell design specifications had been installed in some T55 engines during routine and scheduled maintenance at an Army depot.

In other words, installing replacement O-rings from Uncle Fred’s O-ring Bargain Store was a mistake.

Samuel Sandoval, one of the last remaining Navajo Code Talkers, has died at age 98


Samuel Sandoval in 2013

Samuel Sandoval, one of the last remaining Navajo Code Talkers who transmitted messages in World War II using a code based on their native language, has died…

Hundreds of Navajos were recruited from the vast Navajo Nation to serve as Code Talkers with the U.S. Marine Corps. Only three are still alive today: Peter MacDonald, John Kinsel Sr. and Thomas H. Begay.

The Code Talkers took part in every assault the Marines conducted in the Pacific, sending thousands of messages without error on Japanese troop movements, battlefield tactics and other communications critical to the war’s ultimate outcome. The code, based on the then-unwritten Navajo language, confounded Japanese military cryptologists and is credited with helping the U.S. win the war.

Samuel Sandoval was on Okinawa when got word from another Navajo Code Talker that the Japanese had surrendered and relayed the message to higher-ups…

The Navajo men are celebrated annually on Aug. 14. Samuel Sandoval was looking forward to that date and seeing a museum built near the Navajo Nation capital of Window Rock to honor the Code Talkers…

I met a few Code Talkers BITD when I lived in Chinle, Arizona, in the Navajo Nation. They all were treated as heroes of World War 2. Deservedly.

A war won with Spam

Hormel Spiced Ham, the “father” of Spam, was created in 1927 as an inexpensive luncheon meat to help housewives stretch their budget dollars. But when the combination of cheaper competition and the Great Depression caused sales to drop, company president Jay Hormel decided in 1936 to relaunch the product with a glitzy marketing campaign and a new name.

At the New Year’s Eve party held at his home he announced a name-the-product contest with the prize winner receiving $100. The 65 guests attending had to “purchase” their drinks by completing a contest entry. Hormel recalled, “Along about the third or fourth drink they began showing some imagination.” Finally, the butler brought to Hormel a sheet of paper containing the word “Spam.”…

With the signing of Lend-Lease in March 1941, shipments of Spam were included in the aid transported to Great Britain and the Soviet Union. It was gratefully accepted by both the military and civilian populations…

When America entered the war, Spam became both the boon and bane of troops. Because it was so easy to transport in large quantities, and had a long shelf life, tons of it—ultimately more than 150 million pounds—accompanied them. Though the services purchased luncheon meats made by other companies, all looked alike. As Spam was the most famous of them, all such meats came to be called Spam. It wasn’t long before the troops, seemingly served Spam three times a day, seven days a week for the duration, got thoroughly sick of the stuff.

Now Jackson had his acorns
And Grant his precious rye;
Teddy had his poisoned beef —
Worse you couldn’t buy.
The doughboy had his hardtack
Without the navy’s jam,
But armies on their stomachs move —
And this one moves on Spam.

—Anonymous World War II poem

Buy your own Cold War missile silo

The buried Cold War treasure has all the comforts of home. Running water. Electricity. Plenty of space to park a car — or a thermonuclear warhead.

And for $550,000, the subterranean missile silo 5 miles west of York can be yours to own.

The 174-foot inverted tower of reinforced concrete with a two-story launch control center — a Cold War-era missile complex that once housed the earliest intercontinental ballistic missile, the Atlas-F — recently hit the market…

The structures, built to withstand an indirect nuclear strike, were short-lived as the advent of cheaper and more fuel-stable rockets like the Minuteman made them obsolete…A half-mile north of U.S. 34, the York site was the last of…12 to be decommissioned in April 1965, and soon they were sold to the public.

Guess the new owner couldn’t figure out anything fun or useful to do with this one. Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do with one either. But, RTFA. You may be the fortunate buyer..

Al Jazeera reporter probably murdered by Israeli soldier


Mural of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh
Adel Hana/AP

An investigation by Al Jazeera has obtained an image of the bullet used to kill the network’s journalist Shireen Abu Akleh

According to ballistic and forensic experts, the green-tipped bullet was designed to pierce armour and is used in an M4 rifle. The round was extracted from her head.

The bullet was analysed using 3D models and, according to experts, it was 5.56mm calibre – the same used by Israeli forces. The round was designed and manufactured in the United States, experts said.

Fayez al-Dwairi, a former Jordanian major general, told Al Jazeera the weapon and round used to kill Abu Akleh are regularly carried by Israeli forces.

“When any soldier uses it, he uses it for a definite target – he wants to hunt, he wants to kill … There is no way to use it for another thing.”

Think anyone will be charged, tried, for an “extra-curricular” murder?