Thursday, September 18, 2014

What Jane Austen Can Teach Us About Designing Fortress Embassies

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The good people of OBO have released the minutes of OBO's Industry Day 2014, which I have been happily browsing all day. It's chock-full of great discussion between OBO officials and the architects, engineers, and assorted others in the construction field who are working on, or want to work on, all those Fortress Embassies functional, secure, and sustainable works of art that are OBO's chief product.

I particularly enjoyed the back-and-forth between OBO Director Lydia Muniz and one of the industry attendees on the neuroscience of landscape perspective. It turns out that Prospect-Refuge theory is an established category of analysis in the design field, and it holds that people like landscapes that let them see out (so as to scope out the terrain for threats) while not being seen (refuge).

Anyway, Ms. Muniz scoffed when her interlocutor insisted that there is neuroscience on this subject which proves men and women react to the same landscape differently, with the men responding more to the prospect part and the women more to the refuge part. That is treading dangerously close to political incorrectness.

Well, I don't know about neuroscience, but I do know that literary critics have studied prospect and refuge in the novels of Jane Austen, which makes them both sound plenty female to me.

Of course, the Industry Day discussion frequently touched on the impositions of security standards on the work of embassy designers. I was pleased to see that Director Muniz made no apologies for that. Good for her.

But, I notice how quickly the word "but" got inserted right after anyone at Industry Day made a ringing declaration about the utmost importance of security. See page 14 of the minutes for this one:
“We have high performance standards. Security is of the utmost importance to us, but … “
And page 42 for another one:
“And I know, again, the security question is of the utmost importance, but … “ 
But really, it's okay. I fully understand. I'm just kidding you, OBO, you know that. I kid. I kid because I love.

48 comments:

James said...

I'm just going to have to take your word for it (the report). Though I'm told I do meetings very well, I despise them and this sounds a lot like one. Oh yeah, but monkeys, I hate but monkeys.

TSB said...

James: You should read up on Prospect and Refuge, I was fascinated to see all the deep thinking that goes into landscape design. I'd thought it was all about trees and sod.

James said...

TSB:
You sent me to a very strange place. The Prospect/Refuge theory guy of course turned out to be a slightly balmy Brit, he also published set of ripping yarns called "'Disused railways in the countryside of England and Wales'". The psycho-babble is strong with the latter day loons who've made this a cottage industry.

Anonymous said...

Did somebody say Monkeys? I'm at least a day behind here. gwb

TSB said...

Pretty fascinating stuff, those disused railways. It makes me want to go out and take artsy photos, or something creative like that.

Anonymous said...

TSB: I'm with James on presentations after plowing through that script. But where are the old railway stations?
gwb

James said...

Apparently Hillary is unable to wait till election day:
http://warnewsupdates.blogspot.com/2014/09/moments-after-president-obama-left.html

TSB said...

James: Well, it *is* the season for people to run for the White House, after all. I'm just glad the guy wasn't splattered with bullets, unlike that woman who drove toward the White House several months ago. He's probably just another disturbed citizen who's off his meds.

Interesting to see USSS Uniformed Division and agents using the MP-3. I would have expected them to be two or three generations of tacticool past that old weapon.

Anonymous said...

James; TSB:Re: That first guy from Copperas Cove, Texas. That's a Ft. Hood bedroom community filled with soldiers and Vets. They all love Obama so it's hard to figure any problems. gwb

James said...

"Interesting to see USSS Uniformed Division and agents using the MP-3."
Budget cuts my friend.

TSB said...

James: The guy from Texas was indeed an ex-solider, and reportedly he had long-term mental problems and had been living in his car for two years. According to the WaPo, he wanted to warn the President that "the atmosphere is collapsing." He was taken to a hospital, and with an luck, he'll stay in a hospital until he gets stable.

James said...

TSB:
That was GWB on the Hood troopie. I know for a fact the atmosphere is not collapsing, just soft in a few places, a little jiggly, but not collapsing.

Living in his car, has to be mechanized infantry.

TSB said...

James / GWB: Sorry about the confusion. But it is reassuring to know that the atmosphere will pull through.

James said...

"But it is reassuring to know that the atmosphere will pull through."
Not much question that, except in China where it's still up in the air.

Anonymous said...

TSB;James: You guys are overwhelming me
with all these advanced topics... weaponry, Jane Austin, Architectural design, atmospheric collapse, old railways, prospect and refuge. About the only thing I understand is somebody left the door open. gwb

Anonymous said...

James; TSB: Here's an idea. Somebody will figure a way to come up through Obama's trap door when nobody's
home and leave ISIS flags, booby traps and graffitti all over the place before disappearing from whence they came. Then they would have to bring in Barney Fife to get the SS back on track. gwb

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLsg0EvZozI

Anonymous said...

TSB: Great tweet! gwb
Philip J. Crowley ✔ @PJCrowley
Follow
So far #MadameSecretary has thrown Presidential Personnel and Diplomatic Security under the bus. And @SecState doesn't control covert ops.
8:39 PM - 21 Sep 2014

As I recall PJ was fired for telling the trufe?

Anonymous said...

TSB: This 'open door policy' at the White House has to change immediately!

At least people should be required to sign in, state their business and wait to be called. This is a case for TSB!!
(Or Leslie Nielson?)
What do you think James? gwb

James said...

GWB: Funny you should mention the SS. I've come into possession of a video of an actual SS classroom demonstration for new guys.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MGBEbo1gmA

TSB said...

GWB: Until today I hadn't known there was a TV series about a fantasy female SecState. Most Americans don't know there *is* a State Department, so maybe this Madame Secretary thing will be free PR.

Does this show also have a fantasy Marie Haarf? By which I mean, one who is competent?

Anonymous said...

TSB: I don't follow those pretend 'beltway' shows unless they are 'old timers' recommended by TSB or James.
(Mr Minister?) gwb

Re: Iraq exists only in the minds of people in the White House.” —Mansrour Barzani: Don't forget, in 2009 Obama assigned Iraq WH diplo to Biden. Biden famously told Obama: "I'll bet my Vice-Presidency Maliki will extend the status of forces agreement."
After that Obama only called 4 times to Biden's 64 Iraq calls from the WH.

Anonymous said...

Thanks James! That one really had me fooled!! And a great 'Gyro Gear-loose' like progresion. But I do love the nose to nose discipline, condescending arrogance and goose-stepping
in the Barney Fife one. (It covers both our 'SS' and the old one.)

TSB: You aren't saying PJ was incompetent are you? He's now my favorite former 'STATE SPOKER'. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: 13% popularity is going to look good to Hollande after he tells ISIS to 'Go fly a kite' on this abduction. gwb

http://www.rt.com/news/189776-frenchman-kidnapped-algeria-isis/

Anonymous said...

TSB: 5 Iraqi Army Battalions slaughtered after armchair Commanders in Baghdad (40mi away) radio 'Help Is On The Way'!!... and ISIS shows up instead.gwb and now back to gun camera footage from Syria!!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/islamic-state-attack-on-iraqi-base-leaves-hundreds-missing-shows-army-weaknesses/2014/09/22/9a8b9e4d-0fea-4650-8816-5e720dbffd04_story.html

Anonymous said...

TSB: Looks like 'Pockistan' has some serious debt problems (paying 10 to 14%
on government bonds). On the bright side, (thanks to far-sighted military leadership) they are up to their ears in nuclear missiles and warheads. gwb

http://www.dawn.com/news/1133697/internal-debt-servicing-nearly-doubles-in-july

Anonymous said...

TSB: French farmers have always been a difficult bunch to please!
The Decline & Fall Of Europe: French Farmers Set Tax Office On Fire... saying...The economic situation of farming in Europe has been seriously pushed too far with the US sanctions against Russia... and..The French government has not the faintest idea how to fix the economy because Hollande will not admit socialism does not work. (As a socialist tomato farmer I know how important 'no regulations' is to unloading your bumper crop to friends, neighbors and co-workers.) gwb Price!?? What is that? You just want that bowl back!

Anonymous said...

PS: As Tip O'Neil used to say, "All good tomatoes are local!".. and "You're a good egg Reagan!" just one more and I'll be going.
gwb

Anonymous said...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/museums/in-potential-new-security-measures-around-white-house-an-unnecessary-intrusion/2014/09/22/9ea1fd44-426e-11e4-b437-1a7368204804_story.html
TSB: Finally! Some architectural discussion I can understand and agree with. We need a movement to 'TAKE OUR CAPITOL BACK!' gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: Looks like Diplopundit is on fire!
Another great post delivers a body blow to STATE BUILDING CONTRACTS in Afghan. (Hillary knows how to cut red tape!)127 gwb
Media Operations Centers in Afghanistan: $7.2Million Build/Suspend and Demolish Projects
– Domani Spero

Anonymous said...

TSB: That Camp Saqlawiyah 5 battalion disaster story sure got buried fast. The new Iraqi PM Haider Al Abidi was a 'rapid transit' expert in London til 2003 when he became one of Maliki's closest advisors. ergo.. He probably will continue to be one of Maliki's closest advisors since 'rapid transit' doesn't seem to be on the horizon in Baghdad or Fallujah.
'INFINITE SANDTRAP' is polling 74% in Portland so 'Away We Go!' gwb

gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: I finally found a source that says the US sent planes on Sunday but it was too late to do anything. There was phone contact with one Iraqi soldier yesterday who was still there with about 10 others. He thought they might be able to last 1 day if not captured.
gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: Does our 'open borders' immigration policy cover soldiers from allied armies? And will Obama have a 'beer summit'with these guys? gwb

http://abcnews.go.com/US/seeking-asylum-afghan-soldiers-stopped-strip-club-police/story?id=25705186

Anonymous said...

TSB:
http://bit.ly/1rjARgV

Welcome To The Oligarchy – US Leads The Developed World In Low Wage Jobs
According to research by Morgan Stanley over 25% of US jobs are 'low wage'. Of course the genius politicians we keep electing ad nauseum have a solution for this: Elect Hillary and we can replace many of those low paying jobs with robots and cut that percentage in half! gwb (that graph is pretty impressive!)

TSB said...

GWB: That beer summit with the Afghan troops is a genius idea. They have the same right to stay here illegally as Obama's Kenyan aunt and uncle in Boston did. Throw in a stripper pole and some lap dances and they'll never want to leave.

Anonymous said...

Re: As risks multiply, NGOs reassess security in Middle East

As Juan Cole points out in his book:Engaging The Muslim World: Ignorant Islamophobia (like promoted on Fox) may be great for ratings but we need to change our approach to one that offers people like the Houthi's a better way of life. Of course, Cole was banned from the media about 8 yrs ago. All these Afghan guys have to say is that they "Love Us For Our Freedoms!' and they are in!! gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: As their lawyer, the first thing I would have them do is apply for college loans and SBA loans to start their own 'Casbah Gentleman's Club'to employ struggling coeds with loan debt and also unemployed Vets with TBI and PTSD. (areas we lead the world in) Sort of a 'reverse NGO) The possibilities are endless..and they could bring back the JAMES GANG! gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: Karzai had a parting shot for Obama saying US 'their own agenda in Afghanistan...and "Peace is possible with Afghanistan if there is peace with Pakistan." I suspect he is still upset with being labeled 'batshit crazy' by our 'diplomads and politicos' gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-09-24/obamacare-architect-says-society-would-be-better-if-people-only-lived-age-75
He suggests that people refuse life saving medical care after age 75. That would solve a lot of Obamacare funding problems and also eliminate a lot of low-paying home health care jobs. Personally, I would rather see a mandatory retirement age for beltway politicians of 67 and give em all the medical care they want. Also, make them pay for it according to their net worth. I call it 'GO-PAY'!! gwb

TSB said...

The rumor is that ObamaCare will pay for unlimited liquor and motorcycles for the over-75 set. I can't wait.

Anonymous said...

TSB: What about tatoos? That's a critical medical procedure before you hit the road for South Dakota. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: I saw Obama's UN speech with the sound off so I could get some work done but still occasionally glance up to admire his teleprompter work. Fortunately, later on I found this 'newspeak translation' of our ME strategy. gwb

http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2014/09/Middle%20East%20Explained.jpg

Anonymous said...

TSB: Jen Psaki on CNN says we are looking carefully at the Houthi takeover of the capitol. She sort of says "When we figure out what we think of it we'll let you know." I'm sure Sec Kerry will clear this up for us since he cited Yemen as our model for Syria. gwb Sounds great tho since everyone is talking about a peaceful transition of power.

TSB said...

Tattoos? Absolutely, maybe with my blood group, or a durable power of attorney. And a black tee-shirt with "if you can read this, the bitch fell off" written on the back. I'll go the Full Late Life Crisis so long as Obam's paying.

Anonymous said...

TSB: I can hardly wait for those 'Late Life Crisis Posts! Way to go on that WH
fence assessment. At first I was resisting removing the small bench but is there some way we can put seating farther away from 'the gauntlet' so sight seers can sit, talk and enjoy the day? gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: Here we go. SABA says we have a new Amb. in Yemen and US welcomes the new peaceful transition with the Houthi's. As I understand it, the Houthi's have been backed by Iran financially and we have refused to coordinate with Iran in Iraq but will we coordinate with Iran in Yemen?

And please lift that Yemen travel ban.
I'm off work for the next 2 weeks and it's raining cats and dogs here! gwb

Anonymous said...

US orders some diplomats to leave Yemen amid unrest: RT
I guess those Houthi embassy guards will take some getting used to. How did
they ever work out a peaceful transition without John Kerry being involved? I saw him at the UN today behind Obama and he looked asleep (which I can sympathize with) but also embalmed and ready for burial. I get that way too when listening to the President. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: I think I have this figured out. The Houthi's have Adabi by the balls.
The US has made no friends with the drone strikes. Now the backlash of further Houthi ambitions will force all
the tribes of the South to join with AQ
in opposition. The reason the US has no clue is we have doing the Saudi's bidding there. Adabi now has no military backing and when all breaks down it will be Libya all over again and US will head for the airport. gwb

Anonymous said...

TSB: I mean President Hadi not Abadi.
gwb (this looks like a big mess brew)

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/9/25/houthi-yemen-takeover.html