Stamps + more news

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The Royal Mail digital stamps

Warning: Stamps that say ‘1st’ or ‘2nd’ class are going to become unusable from 31 January 2023 – each stamp will have a proprietary QRcode type glyph. The stamp’s glyph will be linked to a digital twin. This isn’t to be used for tracking the letters and the packages that they are affixed to; but purely as a security measure on the stamps. How much effort is this going to take and is it really going to be cheaper than conventional printing technologies to limit stamp fraud? How much of a black economy is there in stamps anyway? While the Royal Mail promises innovative services enabled by the stamps, it isn’t clear what they will be at the moment. Looking at Amazon, the ‘barcode stamps’ as the Royal Mail call them don’t seem to be widely available yet. The Royal Mail has announced but not launched a scheme to swap out your existing stamps for the new design.


What is most interesting about Eileen Gu isn’t that she switched countries but the narrative of western decline that China is wrapping around this: Cold warrior: why Eileen Gu ditched Team USA to ski for China | The Economist and Winter Olympics: Eileen Gu and the Chimerican Dream – The Olympic freestyle skier has stirred controversy for representing China. She is the product of a vanishing shared space between the Chinese and American elite. As for Gu’s Mum’s background, it would be an ideal model if a screen writers was adapting The Americans as Chinese sleeper agents instead

Evergrande chair breaks silence to rule out asset fire sale | Financial Times – makes sense

Wang Huning’s career reveals much about political change in China | The EconomistAs its chief of ideology and propaganda, he is in charge of crafting a very different message: that China practises true democracy, that America’s is a sham and that American power is fading. For a party locked in an escalating ideological war with America, this line is unsurprising. Mr Wang’s role in the struggle is more so. His early writing did not suggest narrow-minded nationalism. He saw weaknesses in America’s system, but did not exaggerate them. He saw problems, too, in China’s. Even more remarkably, he has been crafting the party’s message under three successive leaders.

China’s family planning agency says it will ‘intervene’ in abortions for unmarried women, teens | South China Morning PostIt aims to ‘improve reproductive health’ and will set up a task force for education and communication projects, according to plan outlining key initiatives for the year. Association will also roll out pilot public health programmes to encourage Chinese to have more than one child, as it tries to reverse declining birth rates – but could China support the orphanages needed or end up the Magdalene laundries with Chinese characteristics?

A Beijing think tank offered a frank review of China’s technological weaknesses. Then the report disappeared | Science | AAAS 


Who buys the dirty energy assets public companies no longer want? | The Economistprivate equity are buying the businesses. The thing that people forget is that those energy assets are still going to be needed to make paints, plastics, fabrics, pharmaceuticals and lithium ion batteries….


Ben & Jerry’s Ukraine tweet gets frosty reception from Unilever boss | Unilever | The Guardian – Unilever indicates limits to social purpose

Hong Kong

Beijing ready to implement harsher Covid lockdown on Hong Kong | Financial Times 


What’s interesting about the future of the ideas that aren’t hinged in culture, is how similar they relate to 10 year predictions back in the late 1990s and early 2000s – Internet in 2035 | Pew Research Center 

The Plausibly Deniable DataBase (PDDB) « bunnie’s blogMost security schemes facilitate the coercive processes of an attacker because they disclose metadata about the secret data, such as the name and size of encrypted files. This allows specific and enforceable demands to be made: “Give us the passwords for these three encrypted files with names A, B and C, or else…”. In other words, security often focuses on protecting the confidentiality of data, but lacks deniability. 

A scheme with deniability would make even the existence of secret files difficult to prove. This makes it difficult for an attacker to formulate a coherent demand: “There’s no evidence of undisclosed data. Should we even bother to make threats?” A lack of evidence makes it more difficult to make specific and enforceable demands. 

Thus, assuming the ultimate goal of security is to protect the safety of users as human beings, and not just their files, enhanced security should come hand-in-hand with enhanced plausible deniability (PD). PD arms users with a set of tools they can use to navigate the social landscape of security, by making it difficult to enumerate all the secrets potentially contained within a device, even with deep forensic analysis

OpenAI Chief Scientist Says Advanced AI May Already Be Conscious | Futurism – wouldn’t there be an incentive for the AI to hide its sentience?

The metaverse is just a new word for an old idea | MIT Technology Review – agreed


Korea Herald – After being called feminists, these women faced online harassmentOne in 2 men in their 20s in South Korea tends to be anti-feminist, according to a 2018 study released by the Korean Women’s Development Institute, a government think tank. In the same survey, only 1 in 4 young men saw women as “weaker than men” or needing protection. But such strong antagonism against feminism has puzzled many looking from the outside at a country that has the highest gender wage gap among OECD countries. Women also feel less safe than men in the country, according to a 2021 report from the Gender Equality Ministry. Only 21.6 percent of women said they felt safe from crime, as opposed to 32.1 percent of men.


Miller Lite’s Super Bowl Ad Will Air Only in the Metaverse – this feels more like a PR stunt than a smart marketing one


On Meta’s ‘regulatory headwinds’ and adtech’s privacy reckoning | TechCrunch“The investigation shows that gambling platforms do not operate in a silo. Rather, gambling platforms operate in conjunction with a wider network of third parties. The investigation shows that even limited browsing of 37 visits to gambling websites led to 2,154 data transmissions to 83 domains controlled by 44 different companies that range from well-known platforms like Facebook and Google to lesser known surveillance technology companies like Signal and Iovation, enabling these actors to embed imperceptible monitoring software during a user’s browsing experience. The investigation further shows that a number of these third-party companies receive behavioural data from gambling platforms in realtime, including information on how often individuals gambled, how much they were spending, and their value to the company if they returned to gambling after lapsing.”

Professional specific support – Self-Care Catalyst – is aimed at stressed and burnt out nurse practitioners in the US. I heard about it from my US colleagues and imagine that we will see similar businesses soon


US Navy investigates leak of F-35 crash video — Radio Free Asia – how did they get the video off the ship?

Indonesia to buy 42 Rafale warplanes from France | South China Morning Post – great opportunity for France

China revises draft rules on data security for business sectors | Reuters 

Arm’s float ambitions risk being ‘scuttled’ by China boss | The TelegraphAllen Wu reportedly wants 100,000,000s of dollars to cede control of ARM China. I think that he wants ARM lock, stock and barrel and that he is backed by the Chinese government

‘You’re treated like a spy’: US accused of racial profiling over China Initiative | The Guardian – US is in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position on running counter-espionage programmes. If they don’t China will strip the country down to the studs. If they do, they get criticism of racism


Ubisoft (UBI) Plans New Assassin’s Creed Game to Help Fill Its Schedule – Bloomberg – was originally an expansion pack. I wonder what’s going on over at Ubisoft?


Intel Announces Billion-Dollar Development Fund, Boosts RISC-V Processors – ExtremeTech


Breaking the Internet: China-US Competition Over Technology Standards – The Diplomat

Web of no web

The Metaverse Makes No Sense and Here’s Why – Bloomberg 

Video games’ future is more than the Metaverse: Let’s talk ‘hyper digital reality’ | Playable Futures |