You gotta keep the devil, way down in the hole.
-Tom Waits, Frank’s Wild Years
When I was a wee lad, I remember World News anchors ceaselessly reporting on the escape of Pablo Escobar, the infamous drug lord of Columbia’s Medellin Cartel. When Colombian task force soldiers stormed his custom-made prison “La Catedral,” Pablo and his brother Roberto escaped through a tunnel system. It was a humiliating failure for the Colombian government to absorb, highlighted by the fact that a low-tech hand-dug tunnel defeated all the whizbang security technology and tactics available in 1992.
You may have already seen this article’s companion piece, “When Harm Reduction is a Crime: Tobacco, E-Cigarettes, and the World’s Most Unnecessary Black Market”. That piece describes the potential for an emerging black market in DIY tobacco, nicotine, and vaping products in jurisdictions that try to ban or heavily control them.
2-Part Longform Special Feature! (Part 2 here)- By Mark
This website is (loosely) themed around “Security and the 4th Industrial Revolution.” We write about mind-blowing things technology increasingly empowers people to build, make, and do for good or ill. We talk about post-industrial technology’s applications for terrorism, weapons, smuggling, drugs, war, crime, and all kinds of dark shit. We also cover beneficial stuff people are doing with the same technologies and freedoms to innovate. We cover these issues because they’re interesting, and because they force us to reconsider many traditional assumptions about how policy and government are supposed to work. We also cover them because they’re important: people live and die, and liberty is protected or undermined, by our decisions on new technologies.
But today let’s forget about guns, terrorism, masks that fool facial recognition, counterfeit art, fake drug-testing dongs, cartel tunnels, and narco-submarines. Let’s forget about those things because compared to today’s topic, they barely rate. That’s right. Almost everything we get worked up about as a society is, in pure scale of mortality, bullshit compared to this. Continue reading
It’s May 1944. An American submarine just sank several Japanese ships, and is now under a blistering counterattack. As a seemingly-endless barrage of depth charges explodes around the boat, one of the American submariners asks how much a depth charge costs. A crewmate guesses they cost about $600 each.
“Damn, we’re going to bankrupt these sonovabitches.”
And that’s about right. Except today we’re not bankrupting our adversaries. Our adversaries are bankrupting us. Continue reading
In the old days of humanitarian intervention, international charities would hire private contractors to escort their shipments using 4×4 pickups with machine guns mounted on the beds. Since a lot of humanitarian groups don’t like to be seen paying for stuff like that, they’d write off these vehicle escorts as “technical expenses,” coining the term “Technical” for any 4×4 pickup with a mounted crew-served weapon. So the legend goes. Continue reading