The Aesthetics of Evil

The other day I learned about Dead Bug electronics


Which is from this thing about a BEAM solar tracker, which illustrates various concepts close to my heart, not the least of which is that the “artifact” is the documentation of the process, and the resulting object(s) is just an instantiation of one particular point in the process. Or in other words, the art is in the recipe book rather than in the pie.

But anyway, dead bug circuits are circuits where all the components’ legs are tangled/soldered together rather than using a circuit-board. And some of these are quite together looking…


… while others are works of art:

Which is a see-thru nixie-clock. Which looks like a skeletal cold-war era HAL… ignoring for the moment that HAL himself was a cold-war era HAL.

Which reminded me (kindof) of the see-through designs Apple suddenly started turning out before they became the enemies of humanity in the war on open-computing.


And it seeps from every pore now doesn’t it? Nary a day goes by without some new piece of evil flowing from the White Cliffs of NeoPaladium… whether it’s lying to its customers, egregious labour practices (including child slave-labour) and buying off EPEAT Execs… and that’s just the recent stuff.

And the EPEAT thing is over the latest macbook being the least fixable computer ever invented.

The most closed, the most secretive… basically just a massive lump of smart-stuff and glue… that you’re not allowed to open or fix yourself.

There is a pattern here.

A while ago I went on about VPBBAs – Vitamin-Part-Black-Box-With-API… which is basically (as Cory points out in the video I linked to above) more often than not, an open-computer, with malware already built-in. The trouble with VPBBAs, is unless they’re open, there’s nothing to say that it’s not going to spy on you. Betray you.

May not mean much right now, because you have nothing to hide right? Nothing to fear.


What the fucking fuckery fuck is that?

Not the drone… we all know what that is – it’s a police drone armed with shotguns, but capable of packing grenade-launchers. We know what that is. What the fuck is that behind it?

Those Dear Reader, are policemen.

Only they’re not are they? Those are soldiers.

I thought that was supposed to be illegal? A standing army on US soil?… But it’s happened by stealth – the police have become militarised. We’ve got the same thing here in NZ… with the Bin-Laden style raid where 75 armed police (in NZ the police don’t carry guns) with helicopters “arresting” a single guy who they’d been spying on (illegally… fuck the law right?) for months, so knew he was completely harmless.

These are what New Zealand military special police look like

Sorry – those aren’t police, those are soldiers… and they’re not just soldiers, they’re baddy soldiers (aka: hapless victims, fighting in the distributed Vietnam war that is “the war on drugs”). They’re deliberately dressing to intimidate. It’s like 3rd-World military police from the 80s without the mirrored aviator shades. This is theatre. This is design – and you simply do not get this sort “license to intimidate” without it being abused. As drugs go, power is akin to, but far far worse than, cocaine.

And like the transgressions of Apple, we get more stories of authoritarian-overreach every single day.

The latest? “Biosecurity officers” in New Zealand raided a scientist’s house this week on suspicion of harboring an illegal tree.“… a bit of back-story… “When the Government pushed through the Search and Surveillance Act giving police powers to upwards of 70 government agencies this year, not even the most extreme of doom mongers envisaged an outcome as Monty Pythonesque as the dawn raids last Thursday on two of Auckland’s most prominent plant experts.from

These laws are always “pushed through” always “rushed through”. These were (unless I’m much mistook) pushed/rushed through when the Rugby World Cup was on, and the utterly fucking useless Mainstream Media went on fucking holiday for a month… because “globally <airquotes> “important” </airquotes> sporting events” have become a vector for creeping fascism… whether it’s China or Brazil or London or New Zealand. Every time there’s a “big game”, basic rights are rolled back without discussion. They’re never put back. It’s shock-doctrine without the shock.

So anyway, back to plants… “Officers would not tell him what they were looking for”. “Mr Hobbs has been muzzled by the Auckland Council from commenting”. “the biosecurity police, for reasons they refuse to declare, have raided the nursery”

1) Secrecy As Default is THE hallmark of an institution that has lost its legitimacy…

… and it’s a global disease… everywhere you look from Obama’s persecution of whistle-blowers, to the UK Cabinet Office attempting to re-open the Star Chamber) to NZ’s PM “failing to recall” pretty much anything that ever happened to him, to dawn-raids on botanists.

2) Police dressed up as (and behaving like) stormtroopers is THE hallmark of governments that are losing their legitimacy…

… it is not the job of the police to intimidate the societies they’re there to protect. They’re not there to protect corporate power, or corporate copy-monopolies, or trade-barriers… they’re there to protect people. Period.

All of which started out as observations on an electronic design… a thread of which I lost long ago.

It was supposed to be about designing for evil… and transparency… and so on…

… so I’ll just kindof trail off I guess…

2 Comments » for The Aesthetics of Evil
  1. Jampel says:

    Open-governance, open-lawmaking, how bout open-education sounds like a reasonable way to approach reparations moving forward.
    Great quote with the stormtroopers, I might have to make a stencil and share it around town

  2. Nick Taylor says:

    Yea – my dad is a teacher, and has this theory (untested, but based on a lifetime’s observation) that in education, any “initiative” handed down from on-high, will have precisely the opposite effect that it was intended to have.

    The kids of the cool-kids (who are now in their 40s) all seem to be going to Steiner schools… which as far as I can gather is a bit like Valve, the software company that Vinay talks about at about 14.20 in this

    It’s a tricky one education though – and part of the problem is probably down to the fact that we’re not living in villages any more – which I suspect is what we’re evolved for.