Jargon watch: zhuāng bì (装B)

Newspaper collage featuring Mao Zetong

China has developed a deep and constantly evolving language online. It is fascinating to study how Chinese netizens use emoticons in a distinctly different way to westerners and the language constantly morphs in a way that leaves Chinese expatriates baffled even after a short time outside the country.  zhuāng bì (pronounce the zh as a short j) is a case in point.  It means poser.

Christine Xu gives an in-depth explanation of how 装B came about, given that western characters aren’t generally used by Chinese.

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

Benedict Evans on ten-year future predictions (well as good as anyone can)

YouGov | Who is on top in the Nike vs. Adidas battle? – UK only data

The bitcoin drugs trade is highly centralised | FT Alphaville – looks that the cryptocurrency bubble could burst pronto

How an unknown Chinese phone maker became No 3 in India by solving the oily fingers problem | South China Morning Post – “Big companies which sell smartphones in more than 100 countries are too global to care for one single market,” Chowdhury said in an interview in Shenzhen. “The core strategy for us is to become the favourite mobile phone brand in emerging markets.”

HSBC’s Amy and other soon-to-be released AI chatbots are about to change the way we bank | South China Morning Post

Why Uber Can Find You but 911 Can’t – WSJ – one can understand the reluctance of technology companies to get involved

The Pet Shop Boys are the face (and sound) of Christian Dior’s men’s collection this summer.

Luxury group Kering to spin off Puma to shareholders | RTE – not terribly surprising it fits awkwardly with the other brands

Google Plans to Vet YouTube Premium Video Content – Bloomberg – guessing the News International media campaign and Logan Paul debacle is starting to have an impact

How China’s market economy has fuelled a prostitution boom | South China Morning PostMy grandma was always grateful to Mao, mainly because she was upgraded from a concubine to a wife under the Communists “one wife” rule. – There is also the shredding of culture and community during the cultural revolution probably ruined community / support mechanisms

Oprah time: Directorate S The C.I.A. and America’s Secret Wars In Afghanistan And Pakistan, 2001 – 2016 by Steve Coll

Directorate S

Coll is a veteran journalist and professor of journalism. He did time abroad working for an American newspaper covering South Asia. Later Coll wrote for The New Yorker on defence and intelligence.

In 2004, Coll’s book Ghost Wars covered America’s involvement with Pakistan’s intelligence service. He focused on the Soviet invasion Afghanistan through to 2001.

Directorate S is a natural successor to Ghost Wars picking up the story on September 11, 2001 to the end of 2016. Directorate S takes its name from part of the Pakistani intellgience service. It covers the perspectives from all the parties involved. Surprisingly it included more than I expected about clandestine operations in Pakistan.

Coll knows his material and what unfolds is an in-depth scholarly blow-by-blow account. It doesn’t have the zip and excitement of say Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down. Coll’s story instead sits at the seat of power. Colls tells the story of:

  • Ambassadors
  • Policymakers
  • Generals and civil servants
  • Politicians

When Coll dips into the operational reporting, it is used to illustrate a wider point.

What comes out is not one story of a war, but a succession of parallel agendas and pivots. The CIA and special forces had very different objectives to their military colleagues. The planning and chain of command was fragmented. Directorate S takes a good deal of commitment to read, but it looks as if it will be as much of a go-to book as Ghost Wars.

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

Amazon Is Thriving Thanks to Taxpayer Dollars | New Republic – The tech giant has received more than $1 billion in tax breaks. The government is also funding food stamps for many of its workers

LegalFling – Get explicit about sexual consent – blockchain start-up WTF

Noah Smith on Twitter: “1/OK, a thread about Bitcoin. (but really about nominal vs. real quantities)” – really interesting thread

Three Thoughts on Day One at CES 2018 – not surprised that computing is moving to the edge as the network represents latency and potential unreliability – think about how cloud failure when it hit Nest devices and IoT obselescence

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week (and a bit longer)

Chad Dickerson’s Fieldnotes – an email newsletter from one of the key people during Yahoo!’s web 2.0 geek golden age and former CEO of Etsy

This is the second time lapse film I’ve seen done by an officer on a ship. I get it. No internet would give you a lot of time to put the film together. It opens up a world that I had only heard of from people older than me who had served on ships when westerners were sailors.

Greg Wilson put together this mix of his favourite edits that had been done in 2017

Louis Vuitton’s LV Pass app did some really nice integration with Apple’s Messenger stickers.


Fair play to Nokia for running this campaign on their website over Christmas