Barbie and Oppenheimer + more things

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Barbie and Oppenheimer

The two stand out films of the summer are Barbie and Oppenheimer . Oppenheimer is a biopic of scientist and Manhattan Project lead J. Robert Oppenheimer, based on the book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer went on to lead the projects Los Alamos lab. Los Alamos National Laboratory has gone on to do scientific research on defence projects as well as health related projects. Casting of Cillian Murphy provides a good physical resemblance of Robert Oppenheimer.

J. Robert Oppenheimer biopic

Oppenheimer is a complex film with the story told in the form of flashbacks. It also tries to reinterpret Oppenheimer for the present day, with a sense of guilt that Oppenheimer never personally expressed. But Oppenheimer had been concerned about the nuclear arms race and weapons proliferation. He opposed the subsequent development of the hydrogen bomb. These positions along with his friendships with communist party members in the US, led to him losing his security clearance in 1954.

Robert Oppenheimer
J. Robert Oppenheimer via the US Department of Energy


Barbie looks to bring to life Mattel’s toy characters Barbie and Ken. Barbie was introduced in 1959 as a copy of a German fashion doll line. The fashion doll line came out of a cartoon strip in the Bild tabloid newspaper. Mattel went on to buy the German originator and shut it down. But by this time the German doll moulds were bought or copied by manufacturers in Hong Kong and Spain.

Butterfly Princess Barbie (1994)
1990s vintage Barbie

The Barbie movie addresses head on the cultural and design legacy of Barbie alongside present-day culture wars

  • Barbie starts off in a matriarchal fantasy world; Ken is represented as a boy toy
  • Eventually Barbie and Ken end up in the real world. Barbie meet her owner who accuses her of setting unrealistic beauty standards
  • Ken learns about the male patriarchy, which means a battle of the sexes ensues when they both return to toyland


Both Barbie and Oppenheimer were released in the cinema at the same time going head-to-head with Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One. This led to cinema goers taking advantage and buying a ticket to see each film one after the other. The practice of watching Barbie and Oppenheimer as a double-bill became so common it was given its own name Barbenheimer, when then became a thing in the news, on podcasts and social media. It has been credited with listing the business performance of cinemas, while sit on the edge of a recession. In fact in the UK, for some of the weekend, both Picturehouse cinemas and Vue cinemas websites were having trouble handling customer traffic.


Belgian university disputes Chinese account of a meeting with top academic officials | South China Morning Post

China developers: crunch puts Wanda movie units in the frame for sales | Financial Times – rather similar to when the Japanese property bubble collapsed and Japanese companies sold a lot of the foreign assets they had bought. Expect more high profile purchases to go back on sale

Consumer behaviour

How have Americans drinking habits changed? USA Facts


UK consumer confidence plummets in July | Financial Times 

Chinese professor says youth jobless rate might have hit 46.5% – Nikkei Asia 

Which business tasks can AI take on? And which can it not? | Financial Times 

Armenia: on the new silk road for goods to sanctions-hit Russia | Financial Times


Beyfortus approved in the US for the prevention of RSV lower respiratory tract disease in infants | AstraZeneca press room – RSV vaccines is an areas where a number of vaccine makers are looking to innovate and was highlighted in GSK’s earnings call

Allergy season really is getting worse every year. Here’s how science can help | Theresa MacPhail | The Guardian 

Drug donanemab seen as turning point in dementia fight – BBC News

Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s security appointee signals resolve for tight control | Reuters 

The Drum | State Of The Nation: A Look Into 25 Years Of Media In Hong Kong 

Have we had too much excessive leftism? | Big Lychee, Various Sectors – rather than the usual satire some interesting analysis


Tokyo is the new Paris – by Noah Smith – Noahpinion


The Birkin bag: Gen Z’s new love for old luxury and the art of storytelling | Jing Daily


Open letter warns of dangers of platform-based AI market mix modelling | WARC 

UK watchdog proposes tougher rules on ‘finfluencers’ | Financial Times 


Self-healing metal? It’s not just the stuff of science fiction | Reuters 


Google Tests A.I. Tool That Is Able to Write News Articles – The New York TimesOne of the three people familiar with the product said that Google believed it could serve as a kind of personal assistant for journalists, automating some tasks to free up time for others, and that the company saw it as responsible technology that could help steer the publishing industry away from the pitfalls of generative A.I.

Who reads The Telegraph? Data shows audience demographic | Press Gazette – basically data from a YouGov poll…


The world is in the grip of a manufacturing delusion | The Economist – this doesn’t acknowledge the national security aspect of the move to manufacture closer to home

Apple slams UK surveillance-bill proposals – BBC News

Kevin Mitnick Dies at 59 | MetaFilter – Mitnick was arguably the most famous hacker. The story of him getting caught was co-written by veteran technology journalist John Markoff: Takedown: Pursuit and Capture of Kevin Mitnick, America’s Most Notorious Cybercriminal. John Markoff’s accounts are believed to have exaggerated or even invented Mitnick’s activities and successes. Jonathan Littman’s The Fugitive Game is considered to be a less well known but more accurate version of Mitnick’s criminal past. Markoff went on to have a high profile career at The New York Times and write one of the best works on how counterculture influenced Silicon Valley: What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry.


TSMC Sees Continued Weakness, and EUV’s Quandary (ASML) | Fabricated Knowledge


UK mobile companies should be clear on overseas roaming charges, says watchdog | Financial Times