Well, not exactly “graffiti”, but street art in the general sense of the word:
A Golden Oldie in the charts of inhuman absurdity, from Jonathan Spence’s biography of Mao Zedong:
An announcement from the “Beijing Number 26 Middle School Red Guards,” dated August 1966, gave the kind of program that was to be followed by countless others. Every street was to have a quotation form Chairman Mao prominently displayed, and loudspeakers at every intersection and in all parks were to broadcast his thought. Every household as well as a trains and buses, bicycles and pedicabs, had to have a picture of Mao on its walls. Ticket takers on trains and buses should all declaim Mao’s thought. Every bookstore had to stock Mao’s quotations, and every hand in China had to hold one. No one could wear bluejeans, tight pants, “weird women’s outfits,” or have “slick hairdos or wear rocket shoes.” No perfumes or beauty creams could be used. No one could keep pet fish, cats, or dogs, or raise fighting crickets. No shop could sell classical books.
All those identified by the masses as landlords, hooligans, rightists, and capitalists had to wear a plaque identifying themselves as such every time they went out. The minimum amount of persons living in a room could be three — all other space had to be given to the state housing bureaus. Children should criticize their elders, and students their teachers. No one under thirty-five might smoke or drink. Hospital service would be simplified, and “complicated treatment must be abolished”; doctors had to write their prescriptions legibly, and not use English words. All schools and colleges were to combine study with productive labor and farm work. As a proof of its own transformation, the “Number 26 Middle School” would change its name, effective immediately, to “The Maoism School.”
Police in the UK are planning to use unmanned spy drones, controversially deployed in Afghanistan, for the ”routine” monitoring of antisocial motorists, protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers [people dumping trash illegally], in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.
The arms manufacturer BAE Systems, which produces a range of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for war zones, is adapting the military-style planes for a consortium of government agencies led by Kent police…
Five other police forces have signed up to the scheme, which is considered a pilot preceding the countrywide adoption of the technology for “surveillance, monitoring and evidence gathering”. The partnership’s stated mission is to introduce drones “into the routine work of the police, border authorities and other government agencies” across the UK. (source)
If the workers at Japan’s Keihin Electric Express Railway Company seem unnaturally cheerful for drizzly autumn mornings, it is because they are being watched. The firm has installed cameras with special scanners at 15 of its stations to measure employees’ smiles, ensuring that harried commuters are always greeted with a grin, however forced.
It may seem extreme to Western eyes but it is just one example of a business that is booming: employee monitoring. Companies have long kept a close eye on employees to maintain productivity and guard against theft. But the economic downturn has prompted some to redouble their efforts—and advances in technology have given them the means. …
Managers trying to decide who to make redundant can use forensic software to catch that slacking YouTube addict red-handed. … Monitoring software can also be used to spot “presenteeism” – employees who turn up in the office every day but then do nothing [a kind of absenteeism]. (source)
On the technical aspects of the Japanese “smile check machine”:
Workers will be required to smile into a camera and have their mug subjected to software analysis of their happiness. The device analyzes the facial characteristics of a person, including eye movements, lip curves and wrinkles, and rates a smile on a scale between 0 and 100 percent using a camera and computer. For those with low scores, advice like “You still look too serious,” or “Lift up your mouth corners,” will be displayed on the screen. Some 530 employees of the Tokyo-based railway company will check their smiles with Smile Scan before starting work each day. They will print out and carry around an image of their best smile in an attempt to remember it. (source)
Excerpt from Orwell’s 1984:
There was an outburst of squeals from the cage. It seemed to reach Winston from far away. The rats were ﬁghting; they were trying to get at each other through the partition. He heard also a deep groan of despair. That, too, seemed to come from outside himself.
O’Brien picked up the cage, and, as he did so, pressed something in it. There was a sharp click. Winston made a frantic effort to tear himself loose from the chair. It was hopeless; every part of him, even his head, was held immovably. O’Brien moved the cage nearer. It was less than a metre from Winston’s face.
’I have pressed the ﬁrst lever,’ said O’Brien. ’You understand the construction of this cage. The mask will ﬁt over your head, leaving no exit. When I press this other lever, the door of the cage will slide up. These starving brutes will shoot out of it like bullets. Have you ever seen a rat leap through the air? They will leap on to your face and bore straight into it. Sometimes they attack the eyes ﬁrst. Sometimes they burrow through the cheeks and devour the tongue.’
The cage was nearer; it was closing in. Winston heard a succession of shrill cries which appeared to be occurring in the air above his head. But he fought furiously against his panic. To think, to think, even with a split second left — to think was the only hope. Suddenly the foul musty odour of the brutes struck his nostrils. There was a violent convulsion of nausea inside him, and he almost lost consciousness. Everything had gone black. For an instant he was insane, a screaming animal. Yet he came out of the blackness clutching an idea. There was one and only one way to save himself. He must interpose another human being, the body of another human being, between himself and the rats.
The circle of the mask was large enough now to shut out the vision of anything else. The wire door was a couple of hand-spans from his face. The rats knew what was coming now. One of them was leaping up and down, the other, an old scaly grandfather of the sewers, stood up, with his pink hands against the bars, and ﬁercely sniffed the air. Winston could see the whiskers and the yellow teeth. Again the black panic took hold of him. He was blind, helpless, mindless.
’It was a common punishment in Imperial China,’ said O’Brien as didactically as ever.
The mask was closing on his face. The wire brushed his cheek. And then — no, it was not relief, only hope, a tiny fragment of hope. Too late, perhaps too late. But he had suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just one person to whom he could transfer his punishment — one body that he could thrust between himself and the rats. And he was shouting frantically, over and over.
’Do it to Julia! Do it to Julia! Not me! Julia! I don’t care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me! Julia! Not me!’
He was falling backwards, into enormous depths, away from the rats. He was still strapped in the chair, but he had fallen through the ﬂoor, through the walls of the building, through the earth, through the oceans, through the atmosphere, into outer space, into the gulfs between the stars — always away, away, away from the rats. He was light years distant, but O’Brien was still standing at his side. There was still the cold touch of wire against his cheek. But through the darkness that enveloped him he heard another metallic click, and knew that the cage door had clicked shut and not open.
When will politicians realize that George Orwell’s 1984 was a warning, not an instruction manual? DEREK CLARK, member of the European parliament, on a proposed law to question women about their sexual history to improve census data.