Archive for ‘War’

August 2, 2020

Dead Birds

Dani

Dead Birds is a 1963 American documentary film by American anthropologist Robert Gardner (1925-2014) about the ritual warfare cycle of the Dugum Dani tribe in New Guinea. The film presents footage of battles between the Willihiman-Wallalua clan and the Wittaia clan with scenes of the funeral of a small boy killed by a raiding party, the women’s work that goes on while battles continue, and the wait for enemy to appear.

The film’s theme is the encounter that all people must have with death, as told in a Dugum Dani myth of the origins of death that bookends the film. The film uses a nonlinear narrative structure of parallel or braided narrative that traces three individuals through a season of three deaths and one near-death as relayed by an expository voiceover that describes scenes and the thoughts of the film’s protagonists.

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July 20, 2020

Low-background Steel

Background radiation

Low-background steel is any steel produced prior to the detonation of the first nuclear bombs in the 1940s and 1950s. With the Trinity test and the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and then subsequent nuclear weapons testing during the early years of the Cold War, background radiation levels increased across the world.

Modern steel is contaminated with radionuclides because its production uses atmospheric air. Low-background steel is so-called because it does not suffer from such nuclear contamination. This steel is used in devices that require the highest sensitivity for detecting radionuclides. The primary source of low-background steel is sunken ships that were constructed before the Trinity test, most famously the scuttled German World War I warships in Scapa Flow.

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June 25, 2020

Boogaloo Bois

2020 boogaloo killings

The boogaloo movement, adherents to which are often referred to as ‘boogaloo boys’ or ‘boogaloo bois,’ is a loosely organized American far-right extremist movement. Participants generally identify as a libertarian citizen-militia and say they are preparing for, or seek to incite, the ‘boogaloo,’ a second American Civil War that will overthrow the United States government.

While use of the term has been found on the fringe imageboard website 4chan since 2012, it did not come to widespread attention until late 2019. Adherents use the term (including variations, so as to avoid social media crackdowns) to refer to violent uprisings against the federal government or left-wing political opponents, often anticipated to follow government confiscation of firearms.

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June 8, 2020

Dead Drop

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

dead drop or ‘dead letter box’ is a method of espionage tradecraft used to pass items or information between two individuals (e.g., a case officer and an agent, or two agents) using a secret location. By avoiding direct meetings, they could maintain operational security. The method stands in contrast to the ‘live drop,’ so-called because two persons meet to exchange items or information.

Spies (covert intelligence agents) and their handlers have been known to perform dead drops using various techniques to hide items (such as money, secrets or instructions), and to signal that the drop has been made. Although the signal and location by necessity must be agreed upon in advance, the signal may or may not be located close to the dead drop itself. The operatives may not necessarily know one another or ever meet.

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May 17, 2020

Boardwalk

Steel Pier

boardwalk is an elevated footpath, walkway, or causeway built with wooden planks that enables pedestrians to cross wet, fragile, or marshy land. They are also in effect a low type of bridge. Such timber trackways have existed since at least Neolithic times (12,000 years ago).

An early example is the ‘Sweet Track’ that Neolithic people built in the Somerset levels, England, around 6,000 years ago. This track consisted mainly of planks of oak laid end-to-end, supported by crossed pegs of ash, oak, and lime, driven into the underlying peat (partially decayed vegetation).

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February 18, 2020

Whistleblower

Pentagon Papers

whistleblower is a person who exposes secretive information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within a private or public organization such as a violation of a law, company regulation, or threat to public interest/national security, as well as fraud, and corruption.

U.S. civic activist Ralph Nader is said to have coined the phrase, but he in fact put a positive spin on the term in the early 1970s to avoid the negative connotations found in other words such as ‘informer’ and ‘snitch.’ However, the origins of the word date back to the 19th century. The word is linked to the use of a whistle to alert the public or a crowd about a bad situation, such as the commission of a crime or the breaking of rules during a game.

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January 18, 2020

NOBUS

NSA ANT

NOBUS (‘nobody but us’) are security vulnerabilities which the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) believes that only it can exploit.

As such, the agency sometimes chooses to leave such vulnerabilities open, in order to exploit them against NSA’s targets. More broadly, it refers to the notion that some signals intelligence capabilities are so powerful or otherwise inaccessible that only the NSA will be able to deploy them, though recent analyses suggest that this advantage may be under stress.

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November 18, 2019

Plausible Deniability

Iran Contra by Martin Kozlowski

Plausible deniability is the ability of people (typically senior officials in a chain of command) to deny knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable actions committed by others in an organizational hierarchy because of a lack of evidence that can confirm their participation, even if they were personally involved in or at least willfully ignorant of the actions.

In the case that illegal or otherwise disreputable and unpopular activities become public, high-ranking officials may deny any awareness of such acts to insulate themselves and shift blame onto the agents who carried out the acts, as they are confident that their doubters will be unable to prove otherwise.

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October 8, 2019

Hoist With His Own Petard

Petard

‘Hoist with his own petard’ is a phrase from a speech in William Shakespeare’s play ‘Hamlet’ that has become proverbial.

The phrase’s meaning is literally that the bomb-maker (a “petard” is a small explosive device) is blown up (‘hoisted’ off the ground) by his own bomb, and indicates an ironic reversal, or poetic justice.

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October 2, 2019

Rocket Mail

Astrophilately

Rocket mail is the delivery of mail by rocket or missile. The rocket lands by deploying an internal parachute upon arrival. It has been attempted by various organizations in many different countries, with varying levels of success. It has never become widely seen as being a viable option for delivering mail, due to the cost of the schemes and numerous failures.

The collection of philatelic material (‘stamps’) used for (and depicting) rocket mail is part of a specialist branch of aerophilately known as astrophilately.

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September 24, 2019

Firehose of Falsehood

Russian web brigades

The firehose of falsehood is a propaganda technique in which a large number of messages are broadcast rapidly, repetitively, and continuously over multiple channels (such as news and social media) without regard for truth or consistency.

Since 2014, when it was successfully used by Russia during its annexation of Crimea, this model has been adopted by other governments and political movements around the world.

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September 17, 2019

Walking Truck

Ralph Mosher

The walking truck or Cybernetic Walking Machine was an experimental quadruped walking vehicle created by General Electric in 1965. It was designed by engineer Ralph Mosher to help infantry carry equipment over rough terrain. It alternatively bore the name of ‘CAM,’ an acronym for ‘cybernetic anthropomorphous machine,’ as seen in a segment of the Walter Cronkite–hosted documentary television program ‘The Twentieth Century’ in 1968.

As of 2019, the surviving prototype can be seen at the U.S. Army Transportation Museum in Fort Eustis, Virginia. The robot weighs 3,000 pounds and can walk up to 5 miles per hour. It was exhausting to control and, according to program lead Mosher who was the designer and primary driver, operators could only drive the walking truck for a limited time. Mosher also worked on the unsuccessful Hardiman project for GE, the first attempt to build a practical powered exoskeleton.

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