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Oprah time: Frank Miller – Ronin

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Frank Miller – Ronin (often called Frank Miller’s Ronin) was a graphic novel written in the early 1990s. In the story Miller looks to combine is love of myth and legend a la 300, with cyberpunk.

The story leaps across time from medieval Japan to the distant future of New York. The Ronin of the title is looking to revenge his master against a demon. The New York that they fall into owes a lot to the dystopian vision of Mega City One in Judge Dredd. All the money has flowed to capital and most people are living at the edges of society.

Frank Miller’s Ronin

Miller explores links between mysticism and technology as it relates to artificial intelligence.

Frank Miller has a grand vision in Ronin; full of interesting ideas, but it feels half-baked. The potential in the story isn’t fulfilled. The worlds that Miller has built in the book feel very one dimensional in nature. That means that the foundation that the story builds on feels insubstantial. Miller tries to paper over the cracks by moving the reader quickly from one ‘cell’ to another.

I think that Ronin isn’t something that fits neatly into a short comic run and a trade paperback, but needs its own franchise to breath and develop further. There is a richness in there waiting to be tapped.

The artwork isn’t as rich as other Frank Miller works such as 300, The Dark Knight Returns or Sin City. Instead it feels like concept sketches rather than a complete work, even the colour panels feel that way. Ronin feels like something it would be worthwhile for the author to revisit and develop further. But at the present time I can only recommend Frank Miller – Ronin for completists, who are fans of Miller’s other works and will overlook this story’s limitations. More book related posts here.

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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This was the last place I expected to see anti-China sentiment addressed. I like Steve Guttenberg’s writing in the past for CNet on all things hi-fi and now follow his videos. What he does in in video makes up in enthusiasm, what he lacks in production skills. It was interesting to see him shoot a video that directly addressed a desire in his audience to not buy Chinese hi-fi products. Whilst some of this is about protecting well loved brands, I think some of it reflects a real turn in consumer sentiment towards an anti-China tone. Guttenberg manages to address the topic in an even-handed manner and tries to take some of the vitriol out of the discussion. More China related content here.

The New York Times wrote a great feature on the rise of statist intellectuals in China who are influencing government policy. Providing an intellectual justification for Xi era policies. What’s interesting is that they draw on German intellectual thinking used to support Nazi ideals of authoritarianism: ‘Clean Up This Mess’: The Chinese Thinkers Behind Xi’s Hard Line – The New York Times 

Ambient music to work by. There is an internet community who are re-editing selected pieces of sci-fi soundtrack to provide an epic ambient audio background. Here’s edits that have been done featuring Blade Runner and Ghost In The Shell.

This TV series provided one of the best backgrounds of Irish history. I remember seeing one or two of the episodes that my Dad had managed to capture on video tape. I can also recommend Robert Kee’s book Ireland which accompanied the series. It stops during the Troubles. Given the quality of the series and the mainstream audience that it received at the time, the UK is still astonishingly ignorant of Irish history. This has become especially apparent the Brexit process. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have been moved on to Blu-Ray, DVD or legitimate streaming services. More Irish-related topics here.

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Morgan Stanley blocks remote network access for China interns | Financial TimesAnother large US bank said its systems in China were exposed to frequent cyber attacks that were of “infinitely greater” magnitude than many other countries. – not terribly surprised that remote network access is a threat vector in China. More China-related posts here.

The Key to Winning Boomers Is To Be Turn-key | MediaVillage – basically like many cohorts, with a trusted brand convenience wins out

Energy Department announces plan to build a quantum Internet – The Washington Post – Quantum only works point to point. This seems to be building Qubit computer capacity by copying supercomputing from the what I can see? From Long-distance Entanglement to Building a Nationwide Quantum Internet: Report of the DOE Quantum Internet Blueprint Workshop (Technical Report) | OSTI.GOV

Bingewatch Britain? Viewers more likely to finish a TV series if it’s released all at once | YouGov – reading this reminded me of Marshall Cavendish part-work books and their completion rates

Do Chinese millennials want diversity in fashion ads? | Advertising | Campaign AsiaFashion’s culture wars are dividing Chinese millennials. In June, a series of fashion and beauty moves, including a Calvin Klein pride campaign featuring the black trans model Jari Jones and the decision by some top beauty groups to take their skin-whitening products off the market in China, polarized opinions across the country’s social media landscape. While the mainstream overwhelmingly saw these radical changes as a byproduct of the West’s excessive political correctness, the fashion-forward crowd recognized these debates as the start of a much-needed change in their country.

Duterte’s troll armies drown out Covid-19 dissent in the Philippines | Coda Story – interesting analysis of social media in the Philippines

Home Shoppers are Trending Toward Buying Sight-Unseen, Selling Virtually – Zillow Research – digital acceleration

The Ultimate White Fragility | The New Republic – so much to unpack in this

The FBI Is Secretly Using A $2 Billion Travel Company As A Global Surveillance Tool | Forbes – I would have been surprised if they weren’t doing this with SABRE

Korean Air Seeks to Convert Passenger Jets to Cargo Planes | Chosun.com – surprised that British Airways didn’t do this with their Boeing 747s, rather than retiring them

On the Twitter Hack – Schneier on SecurityWhether the hackers had access to Twitter direct messages is not known. These DMs are not end-to-end encrypted, meaning that they are unencrypted inside Twitter’s network and could have been available to the hackers. Those messages — between world leaders, industry CEOs, reporters and their sources, heath organizations — are much more valuable than bitcoin. (If I were a national-intelligence agency, I might even use a bitcoin scam to mask my real intelligence-gathering purpose.) Back in 2018, Twitter said it was exploring encrypting those messages, but it hasn’t yet.

Ad Aged: More on the dismal science and the dismal state of Holding Company advertising. – interesting allegations of collusion

Enter the parents | Film | The Guardianno one suspected that he would turn out to have two brothers still alive and living impoverished, anonymous lives in mainland China. Nor did they have any inkling that Jackie’s mother had once been a legendary gambler in the Shanghai underworld or that his father had been a Nationalist spy and gangland boss. These are among the more startling revelations that Cheung uncovers. “The fact that his mother was an opium smuggler, a gambler and a big sister in the underworld was a big shock to Jackie and also to us,” she admits. “Everybody in Hong Kong knew that his mother was like a common housewife, very kind, very gentle.”

China has big ideas for the internet. Too bad no one else likes them – CNETNew IP would shift control of the internet, both its development and its operation, to countries and the centralized telecommunications powers that governments often run. It would make it easier to crack down on dissidents. Technology in New IP to protect against abuse also would impair privacy and free speech. And New IP would make it harder to try new network ideas and to add new network infrastructure without securing government permission

Japan’s karaoke bars offer ‘mask effect’ feature to amplify singing while wearing face mask – the intersection of changing consumer behaviour and product design with extra amplification to pick up on voices covered by face masks

Creator of Douyin / TikTok: How We Created A Product with A Billion Views A Day in 18 Months: Part I – Pandaily – China style growth hacking profiled

Singapore
Fabio Achilli – Singapore

Disneyland with the Death Penalty | WIRED – William Gibson nails Singapore. And its still true almost 30 years later