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)

The gentleman cat burglar’s guide to thievery

A Japanese thief, who describes himself as a gentleman cat burglar, has written a popular book giving tips on how to carry out burglaries.

Futabasha Publishing claims that a first print run of 10,000 copies of “Occupation, Thief; Annual income, Y30 million” has almost run out in the 10 days since publication.

Hajime Karasuyama – the pen name of the career burglar – claims to have developed the uncanny ability to guess just where the occupant of any home will have stashed the cash and valuables and provides tips on how to gain access to a locked property and then get away again without leaving any signs.

Karasuyama says he earns around £270,000 a year from burglary…

Karasuyama provides details on how he is able to pick any lock at will and the way to silently use a glass cutter on a window. He also reveals that placing a jeweller’s magnifying eye-piece against a door peep-hole reverses the view and enables him to look inside the house, while he recommends investing in a new hybrid car for going on “jobs” because they have engines that are very quiet and do not attract attention.

Karasuyama also reminisces about some of the best heists of his career, including the time he hired a chauffeur to drive to one address and boldly walking up to the front door dressed in a business suit and brazenly picked the lock.

“I didn’t want to get arrested by the police, so I thought of a way that would make me appear less conspicuous,” he told the magazine.

The editor of the book says, “This book is not targeted at people who might want to become a burglar but more at home-owners who want to know how a thief thinks and how they can better protect their home.”

I guess there should be a follow-on publication on how the Japanese parliament does business on a daily basis. So the Japanese might be better prepared to fire many of the crooks running their government. Probably as true in Japan as it is in the United States.

Apple buys chipmaker Intrinsity

A month after the rumors first started flying, Apple finally confirmed that it has indeed purchased Intrinsity, a Texas-based chipmaker.

Apple confirmed the acquisition on Tuesday to The New York Times, though it did not disclose the purchase price or what Apple’s plans for Intrinsity are. One guess has the value at $121 million.

It’s the second chipmaker purchased by Apple in two years starting with P.A. Semi, which it bought for $278 million. It’s also the fourth acquisition Apple has made since last fall; it bought map API maker PlaceBase in October, social music site LaLa in December, and mobile ad company Quattro Wireless in January for $275 million.

Though it appears like Apple is on a bit of a shopping spree right now, the company has the funds to back it up. At the end of its second fiscal quarter of 2010, Apple reported it had accumulated $41.7 billion in cash. Though Steve Jobs told investors at the annual company meeting that he had no plans to use that to offer a dividend to shareholders, he did hint what he’d rather do instead.

You never know what opportunity is around the corner,” Jobs said at the February meeting. “We’re very fortunate that if we needed to acquire something we could write a check for it and not have to borrow money.”

American-owned company doing most of its manufacturing offshore – making a lot of money for Apple investors who are often liable to be Americans. Intrinsity provides tools, technology and design expertise to the chip industry. Based in Austin, Texas – which ain’t Republican Texas country.

Not the purest example of what can be achieved in the 21st Century economy; but, certainly more productive than the buggywhips preferred as central to a growing economy by politicians who still haven’t figured out Maynard Keynes or Franklin Roosevelt.