1. I Googled 'Narcotecture' So You Don't Have To


    Yes, that’d be the house that rocks built.  Look close.

    Since first coming across that delightful term ‘narcotecture’, I’ve had an eye out for examples of how drug lords are playing Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in their fiefdoms.  Here’s some clicky things with minimal commentary:

    P.J. Tobia’s photos from Kabul.  Highlights: a ‘For Rent’ sign on one (‘Roommate wanted. Must like cooking base and Wii Tennis tournaments.’) and what appears to be the headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps.

    -RE: Columbia’s white powdery boom years:

    The business brought fast and easy money to a hungry society and the money brought power. Those who had it flaunted it and a whole new aesthetic bulldozed its way into Medellin, spreading out across the world.

    El-Cartel investigates this aesthetic and defines ‘Narcotecture’.

    Plus a blurry MPEG of some nightlit narco-ruins.  Warning: site comes complete with a barking dog on the main page for some reason.  Taste is the enemy of narcotecture, after all.

    C-Monster gives a quick tour of Miami ‘narchitecture’, defining it thusly:

    Narchitecture is the pit bull of architecture. It grabs you by the (eye) balls and doesn’t let go, marrying a bevy of Mediterranean styles—neo-Classical, Spanish Revival and Fascist—with the vernacular American school known as Contemporary McMansion. The structures are big, overly-decorous and unabashedly gaudy, and, in their placement, show a complete disregard for their environment.

    Apt.  Swap in some more-favored styles–Persian, comic book, Bond vilian–and that could work just as well in Afghanistan.

    A cool little story about savoring beer and pork sausages in Afghanistan with interludes of discussing navigation by narcotectural landmarks.  Fella named Gregory Warne knows a good butcher in Kabul, apparently.

    -On a tangent, here’s BLDGBLOG’s excellent post ‘Geology in the War on Terror‘.  Remember the giddy thrills of diagram porn when every major news outlet was churning out those drawings of Bin Laden’s secret mountain caves of evil?  One can assume that at least one opium baron saw that, looked at his own digs and got thinking about a Pashtun playboy’s life in a location more defensible.  Say inside a mountain.  One can only wait for the day when that guy pops up on the narco lifestyle channel equivalent of Cribs.

    – – –

    Beyond narcotecture, I’d be interested to study up on the sort of public goods, communication, transportation and facilities that either result from the drug trade or are built by public image conscious drug lords.  A study of ‘narcostructure’ if you will.

  2. Two Fists, Two X Chromosomes and a Love of Country


    A post on China Military Report this weekend gave some glowing praise for an apparently all-female unit of the Chinese Navy, along with some possibly-for-the-eye-candy shots to accompany the swells of patriotism.  A couple thoughts rolled through my head while looking at these:

    1. I always thought that blue cammo was just a suburban mallrat cargo shorts kind of pattern, not actually used by any military operating outside of an aquarium.  The blue face paint seems to indicate they’re somewhat serious about this.  Maybe it’s a Braveheart thing?
    2. Are they really leaping like dolphins through the water in that one photo?
    3. What’s the deal with all-female military units?

    Photo threads of female soldiers on military blogs are a pretty common thing, often with some careful language at the start about how the point isn’t hot ogling of government property but to pay tribute to our fighting sisters.  Of course, after a few posts, someone starts hooting for the Swedish Defense Bikini Team, sadly nonexistant.

    Surely, though, there’s purposes for all-female squads beyond the fantasies of military aficionados.  While I couldn’t turn up a “why” for the Chinese First Marine Brigade Recon Unit, other forces create segregated units for cultural reasons, perceived skills or subterfuge.

    What with the whole burka thing and all, the U.S fields an all-female team from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment for cultural outreach to Afghan women.  Similar teams have been tried in Iraq, for similar reasons of cultural sensitivity.  It’s also worth noting that U.S. and Iraqi security forces have deployed female guards specifically to search women to combat suicide bombings and arms smuggling.  Having a woman on the squad could also help fight the old Huck Finn/Jefferson Davis tactic of dressing up like a woman to duck the law, as cross-dressing Taliban are fond of doing.

    Qaddafi‘s ladies with AKs also come to mind.  When the Libyan dictator steps out just about anywhere, he rolls deep with a large entourage of well-trained women with automatic weapons and matching cammo. Again, not much of a straight answer out there as to why his security is guaranteed exclusively by women, but a good guess can be made by Qaddafi’s two pronged policy of being in the vanguard of the Arab world in terms of women’s rights and being a nutty, sorta lecherous, old-school dictator who gets whatever the hell he wants.

    Special mention must go to the unbelievably badass “Night Witches” of the USSR who flew goddamn crop dusters on bombing raids against the Third Reich.  Doing so they became the most highly decorated unit in the Soviet Air Force. As if flying slow and low with a bomb-laden bi-plane wasn’t enough, Wikipedia mentions that they’d “shut the engine off near the target and glide to the bomb release point, with only wind noise to reveal their location.”  Scientific proof right there, folks, that the gland for audacity does not reside in the balls.