Monday, October 14, 2002

Holy Crap! Public Nuisance points us to this Reason article.

Sometimes I feel bad for the hardcore tinfoil hat crowd - this stuff must really send them over the edge.

Suppose you're devising a logo for a new wing of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, an office charged with developing intelligence tools and integrating the government's existing surveillance networks. Suppose that it has a vaguely sinister name—say, the Information Awareness Office—and that it's to be run by a former Iran-contra conspirator. What would your design be?

If you work for the actual Information Awareness Office, created earlier this year with one-time National Security Adviser John Poindexter at its helm, you'd depict a Masonic eye-in-the-pyramid blasting a sci-fi death ray across the globe

Go read the rest. Here's the logo:

The article concludes:

Semiotically speaking, this is the most inept administration in years. Either that, or its art department is trying to tell us something.

UPDATE: Add this little gem from Cryptogon regarding the motto:

Subject: Scientia est potentia

These guys at the Information Awareness Office either don't know their Latin very well, or they are being blatantly evil.

Potentia means power but it has the connotation of unconstitutional private power. Power attained by private means and used for personal ends. What they should say is "Potestas." This is power attained by and for the public good. As in this famous quote by Francis Bacon: Ipsa scientia potestas est. Knowledge itself is power.

In my copy of the "New College Latin and English Dictionary" potentia is defined as: "force, power; political power (esp. unconstitutional power)". Whereas potestas is defined as: "power, abililty, capacity; public authority, rule, magisterial power; possibility, opportunity, permission..."

So by saying "Scientia est potentia" they're just coming out and saying, "Knowledge is unconstitutional political power for a few private individuals." Sounds about right to me. Maybe they do know their Latin after all.

Isn't that precious?

What fun.