The Naked Truth

Woman in bikini lying on paddleboard in water. Above her head is a red keyboard.
An advertisement for a Logitech Keys-to-Go Keyboard. The keyboard occupies about 0.2% of the photo’s area; the woman about 4%; the paddle board (with keyboard and woman) about 14% or 10% without these elements; water about 86%. (Photo: Logitech)

This post is especially for Arild, an inmate at another institution – currently on leave.

This post began to emerge after Arild sent an email to Billi Sodd about Modesty, a series  of 8 paintings depicting seven generations of (western) women dressed in beach wear at 20 year intervals from 1910 to 2030. Since 2030 is still well into the future, two choices were offered – the minimalistic, with the wearer dressed in a hat, and the maximalistic, with clothing resembling that of a burkini. Here is a translation of that letter:

In the name of modesty, you have made a very daring piece of art. The idea and execution are good, but you must remember that there are some groups in the country that may feel offended by what you present here. Even I am a religious teacher at an academy in the county and raised in Western Norway, so I am highly provoked, and thus violated when I see a woman in microbikini. My many Muslim friends will consider it almost blasphemous to equate their decent Burkini dressed women with the West Decadent and Sexualized Women’s Idea.

Art’s essence is to be provocative, so you’ve succeeded with your artwork. Congratulations! But: Is it all art that benefits, has the limits of freedom of expression? I give you a good advice, dear apprentice painter: If you want to keep your head, do not try to show the two futuristic paintings to an Imam or other Muhammadans. Even I am :raised in a Protestant spirit, and then you will meet a provocator with understanding and respect, but not necessarily with acceptance. As mentioned, the artwork is well done and you have shown good color understanding. I want to take this opportunity to recognize your talents in the subject. I look forward to further contributions in your further artist career, be aware of the choice of themes.”

Billi admits that his intention was to provoke. His work begs the question: What are the limits of propriety? It goes beyond beachwear. It goes beyond clothing. I have considered painting a second series, with a focus on men, but not in terms of clothes. That’s because men dress in cars. The sportscar is the male equivalent of the female microkini. Of course, this series would have to feature 1957 – most probably a Chevrolet. I am considering the years: 1897, 1917, 1937, 1957, 1977, 1997, 2017 and 2037.

Male clothing, in this case a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air 2-door hardtop. (Photo:

Despite believing in God, and being a member of a religious community, I have an appreciation of the atheistic feminist movement, Femen. Their grievances with established religion are largely justified. Scandals emerge almost daily to prove their point. At this stage in human development, I can support large portions of the Femen manifesto, including:

“FEMEN Ideology: Atheism […] FEMEN’s Objectives: church – by putting these institutes through subversive trolling to force them to strategic surrender. […] FEMEN’s Requirements: to universally and completely separate the church from the state and to prohibit any intervention of the religious institutions in the civic, sex and reproductive lives of modern women.”

A typical photo from a Femen protest. (Photo:

This post was updated 2021-12-30 at 17:00 with the following

Shanzhai by example

Billi Sodd 2015 Anstendighet/ Modesty 1910

Billi Sodd is a persona representing an older prisoner with issues, yet in the process of developing himself to become a(n artistic) painter. Since he is learning, he refers to himself as an apprentice, rather than a journeyman or a master. Like everyone, he was imprisoned by his past, until he decided to break free of it. Yet freedom is a relative term. At the most fundamental level, no living human is free to stop breathing. Every person is a slave to biological imperatives.

Billi’s most significant work so far, Anstendighet/ Modesty, consisted of 8 paintings. These paintings are based on a single template, a stencil. They deliberately imitate cartoons with large patches of solid colour, and an absence of shadows. Anstendighet/ Modesty was made in 2015, and shows how the western concept of modesty has transformed itself during during a period of 100 years. It consists of six paintings showing a young (ca. 20 years old) adult women at twenty-year, generational intervals from 1910 to 2010, each dressed in bathing costumes of the time. In addition, there are two additional paintings, variations on this theme, showing potentially more extreme changes for 2030, labelled 2030 Mini and 2030 Maxi.

The so-called originals were given to Verdal prison. However, a reworking of the subject is planned, with the goal of releasing high-definition images, so that anyone could make their own giclée prints using ink-jet printers. As long as the printing instructions are followed, these prints would be regarded as equals to the original paintings. If the instructions aren’t followed, something even better than the original may result.

In many ways Billi is an antithesis to protesters in these COVID-19 times, who want to open society faster, pressing R0 (in this case the viral net reproduction rate) values to greater heights. It is disheartening to see people like Elon Musk complaining about the shutdown of Tesla’s Fremont factory. He seems to have forgotten the lesson learned from a childhood reading of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, reported by Neil Strauss, “you should try to take the set of actions that are likely to prolong civilization, minimize the probability of a dark age and reduce the length of a dark age if there is one”.

An invitation to the original showing of Billi Sodd’s work Anstendighet/ Modesty (in Norwegian and English) in 2015 can be downloaded using the download button below. VF refers to Verdal fengsel = Verdal prison.

In 2020, Billi is considering a new series, PPE, based on current experiences of COVID-19. No decision has been made regarding the number of paintings. It could be as few as two. One showing protective measures taken during the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic, as well as the current one. A third, simply showing a child hiding under a school desk, and titled nuclear attack, could refer to events in the early 1960s.

After this re-emergence, Billi Sodd next appearance is expected to be a celebration of Billi’s permanent release from Verdal prison at a Halloween party to be given on Tuesday, 2028-10-31. The theme of this party will be shanzhai. Mark that date on your calendar now!Anstendighet VFDownload

Here are three additional relevant quotations from Han’s book.

“In the Buddhist notion of the endless cycle of life, instead of creation there is decreation. Not creation but iteration, not revolution but recurrence, not archetypes but modules determine the Chinese technology of production…. Foremost in modular production is not the idea of originality or uniqueness, but reproducibility. Its aim is not the manufacture of a unique, original object but mass production that nevertheless allows variations and modulations.” (p. 35)

Shanzhai products often have their own charm. Their creativity, which cannot be denied, is determined not by the discontinuity and suddenness of a new creation that completely breaks with the old, but by the playful enjoyment in modifying, varying, combining and transforming the old.” (p. 40)

“The creativity inherent in shanzhai will elude the West if the West sees it only as deception, plagiarism and the infringement of intellectual property.” (p. 41)

Closing thoughts: People’s transformational abilities, that is, a competence to alter/ convert/ reconstitute raw components into something useful, are to be applauded. Take the steam engineer, who is able to extract latent energy found in assorted solids, liquids and gasses and mould it, so that it works for the benefit of humankind: moving train cars, drying lumber, generating electricity. Take the weaver, who is able to take flax (from Linum usitatissimum) or fleece (from Ovis aries) and transform it into cloth. Take the programmer who, using a simple vocabulary, instructs a computer to manipulate data to provide and display meaningful information.

For further information about early Chinese printing and related activities, see: The History and Cultural Heritage of Chinese Calligraphy, Printing and Library Work (2010, ISBN: 9783598220463), a publication of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, edited by Susan M. Allen, Lin Zuzao, Cheng Xiaolan and Jan Bos.

Yang Jianxin writes that “According to the historical records, wood blocks for printing started in the Tang Dynasty (618–907 A.D.). During that time in the center of Zhejaing Province, a book store sold the collected poems of Bai Juyi and Yuan Zhen in an edition printed by wood blocks.” (Allen et al, p. 26)

8 Classes of People

There are two types of people – those who refuse to classify people, and those who put everyone into some sort of category.

Here, we are going to strip everyone of their individualism and insist that they place themselves into one of eight ranked groups. These rankings reflect the degree to which an individual is engaged in do-it-yourself activities.

Sometimes, literary sources can be just as schizophrenic as the authors writing about them. Such is the case here. Reading one finds that the phase do-it-yourself is “has its origins in 1950 – 1955”, at the same time that it is used “as a modifier, attested by 1941. The expression is much older.” Depending on what “much older” means, one might be able to call it a mid-20th century term. It relates to amateurs, and is defined as “the practice or hobby of building or repairing things for oneself, usually in one’s own home.”

Class 0. User

This class of person has no role in the acquisition of an object, but in some manner of speaking has that object thrust upon them for their use.

Class 1. Shopper

There are two operative words that distinguish a shopper from a user. The first is that the shopper selects the object. The second that she pays for it.

Class 2. Assembler

Here one is entering the “flat-pack” universe. Ideally, an assembler can follow instructions, so that the object ends up looking and functioning as intended.

Class 3. Hacker

The primary characteristic of a hacker is her ability to modify an object, especially in terms of appearance or operation.

Class 4. Constructor

It is at this level that fabrication skills become important. Craftsmanship is a term often used to describe the necessary skill sets. Since the start of the new millennium, many have seen computer programming as a new form of craftsmanship. For further details, see:

Class 5. Prototyper

Experimentation is a key word to describe the activities of someone in this class. Engineering is not an activity that leads instantly to nirvana. Vague ideas ha ve to be fleshed out. Proposed solutions have to be tweaked, teased and tinkered with. The results are not always beautiful.

Class 6. Designer

Once engineering is complete, product design can begin. While many think of aesthetics, ergonomics is also an important consideration. With design work completed, batch and other forms of small-scale production can be used to make a limited series of objects.

Class 7. Manufacturer

The preliminary step before large-scale manufacturing involves real-world testing. Not everyone will treat an object as delicately as its designer. Thus, it is important that insights be gained into how an object will be used, and misused. There will be few amateurs at this level but new opportunities are arising through programs such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo.

An inspiring real world example

Cedar Anderson’s work over a decade developing a revolutionary bee hive shows just what can be done. World class innovation, performed by amateurs. See: especially the Flow Story.

Three generations of the Andersons, with their revolutionary bee hive (Photo:





The original is not always the best.

Rather than sticking with Raspberry Pi, the innovators at Cliff Cottage are using Asus Tinker Boards. The Tinker Board is simply a better machine. Not perfect, perhaps not even good, but better. A similar sea change may be happening with the Arduino.

The Fishino Uno is yet another Arduino Uno board, in term of connectivity and size. However, it is more than that. It has many features that the Arduino lacks: internet connectivity, large storage capacity using a micro-SD card and an on-board RTC (real-time clock) with battery backup. There is a minimal change to the Arduino form factor, caused by a 7mm wifi antenna overhang.

Fishino diagram
The Fishino – more than another pretty face in the sea of microprocessors. (Photo:

These improvements make Fishino better suited for home automation systems, than the original Arduino. The WiFi module allows the Fishino to be used as a WiFi station and/or access point, and allows smartphone control even without a WiFi connection.

In summary, some of the characteristics of the Fishino that make it better than the Arduino.

  • Fully compatible with Arduino Uno
  • WiFi module on board, that can be uses in station mode, access point mode or both
  • MicroSD slot on board
  • RTC (Real Time Clock) with backup lithium battery on board
  • Increased current capacity on 3.3V supply section
  • Connectors compatible with breadboards

fishino image
Fishino is the same size as an Arduino except for the 7mm wifi antenna overhang. (Photo:

For further information see:


A shield is a printed circuit board that fits on top of the main Arduino  (or Fishino) board, offering additional attributes to the system. Here we will mention two that can be used in home automation.

Fishino Octopus

PWM – For the next few minutes please don’t ask what PMW means. Pretend that it refers to Portland International Jetport, or Peter Wallace Myrick or anything else … Just accept that there is something called PWM, and that it can be important.

Some motors, including those on sewing machines, require variable speed. In the past, a rheostat was used to adjust the electrical current flowing through it. This wastes power because it uses the same amount of energy regardless of the motor speed. What isn’t used to power the motor is released as heat.

What was needed was an efficient power adjusting tool. PWM solved this problem. On an Arduino / Fishino Uno there are only six PWM outputs. Many times this is far too few.

The Octopus expansion shield allows 16 PWM outputs and 16 additional digital inputs or outputs. Up to 8 of these can overlap, allowing a system to manage 128 PWM outputs and 128 digital inputs or outputs.

Fishino Octopus
A Fishino Octopus powering 16 servo motors. (Photo:

Fishino Colibri

Engineers do not always have the greatest understanding of how the natural world functions. Colibri means hummingbird, and surprisingly, it is not a fish. An octopus isn’t a fish either, but we won’t force the issue.

The Colibri is used to provide power to RGB LED lighting. These use 4 channels to provide a full range of colours using PWM control signals.

Fishino Colibri
The Fishini Colibri – a RGB LED light controller. (Photo:

By the way, PWM stands for Pulse Width Modulation.