The nerdiest burglar

I’m reading with delight Geoff Manaugh‘s

Burglar’s Guide to the City


It’s a trek through urban design and crime, based on the conceit of burglary as a form of architectural criticism. So you have criminals like “Roofman”, who broke through the identical roofs of identical McDonalds franchises, relying on their identical layouts and shift patterns to empty the cash registers and go. Or George Leonidas Leslie, the 19th-century architect turned criminal mastermind — who would build replicas of bank vaults, then train his team to rob them against a stopwatch.

Or my favourite: the gloriously nerdy Jack Dakswin, champion of the fire code:

A retired burglar based in Toronto, Dakswin amazed me with tales of his extensive, homeschooled expertise in the city’s fire code, explaining how the city’s own regulations can be read from the outside-in by astute burglars, turning Toronto’s fire code into a kind of targeting system. Simply by looking at the regulated placement of fire escapes on the sides of residential high-rises, Dakswin could deduce which floors had fewer apartments (fewer would mean larger, more expensive apartments, more likely to be filled with luxury goods) and even where, on each floor, you might expect to find elevator shafts and apartment entrances. He could thus build up a surprisingly accurate mental map of a building’s interior simply by looking at its fire escapes, a virtuoso act of anticipatory architectural interpretation that most architects today would be hard-pressed to replicate.

Anarcho-futurist manifesto

The futurists had all the best manifestos.

Here’s an entrancingly over-the-top Ukrainian anarcho-futurist manifesto from 1919:

The Children of Nature springing from the black soil kindle the passions of naked, lustful, bodies. They press them all in one spawning, pregnant cup! The skin is inflamed by hot, insatiable, gnawing caresses. Teeth sink with hatred into warm succulent lovers’ flesh! Wide, staring eyes follow the pregnant, burning dance of lust! Everything is strange, uninhibited, elemental. Convulsions – flesh – life – death – everything! Everything!

Such is the poetry of our love! Powerful, immortal, and terrible are we in our love! The north wind rages in the heads of the Children of Nature.

That “North Wind” bit is presumably because they anarch0-futurists also gave themselves the even more wonderful name “anarcho-hyperboreans“, people of the mythical land in the distant north:

Long live the international intellectual revolution!

An open road for the Anarcho-Futurists, Anarcho-Hyperboreans, and Neo-Nihilists!

Death to World Civilization!


We’ve just (re-)launched Aleph, the project I’ve been working on with OpenOil. It’s a specialized search engine for oil, gas and mining, aimed at helping activists, journalists and government officials make sense of the torrent of regulatory and financial information that comes out of those industries.

Julien Bach made a beautiful video to explain what’s going on:

Big thanks also to Friedrich, whose work with OCCRP supplied a huge proportion of the underlying code.