Oprah Time AngloArabia by David Wearing

I got sent a copy of AngloArabia and was interested in having a read of it. I grew up at a time when the Gulf states influence grew through OPEC. I started my work life with a brief time in the oil and gas industry. Since then I have moved on through a number of iterations in my career.

Currently reading

The Gulf states sit in a peculiar part of British history that isn’t generally understood. Wearing goes through the history of the the area from the Trucial states attached to the British rule of India. And brings up to date regarding the UK’s role in the modern Middle East.

The modern relationship between the Gulf states and the United Kingdom blurs the hierarchy between client states and their former colonial master.

Lots of western countries have seen sovereign funds invest with a view to gaining influence. The UK is unique in terms of the Gulf States are bailing the country out. Without the support of Middle East money, the country would be overwhelmed by its current account deficit.

The implication is that the UK government literally can’t afford for any of the Middle East monarchies to fall in an Arab Spring style revolution.

The author David Wearing is a left of centre leaning journalist with wonkish credentials. As with any author, you need to ask yourself about his agenda. He has managed to write a relatively accessible book.

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Roland Files Trademarks For 303 & 808 Designs In Germany – Magnetic Magazine – interesting reading, in particular patenting designs so long after they were manufactured

Why Jeff Bezos Went to Medium With His Message | NYTimes – evidence that blogging isn’t dead and social media isn’t everything

Huawei Threatens Lawsuit Against Czech Republic After Security Warning | NYTimes.com – interesting that Huawei is trying to cow the government with legal force. Huawei’s interpretation of Chinese law seems to be different to legal experts

An Honest Take on the Hits and Misses of SIHH 2019 | SJX WatchesBaume et Mercier’s abandoning of the silicon hairsprings that made their debut in the Baumatic of 2018. The elimination of the silicon hairspring has lowered the retail price of the watch by about €250, but that’s notable for the reason behind the retreat. According to several insiders, Baume & Mercier, and by extension its parent Richemont, was kindly asked to stop using silicon hairsprings because the intellectual property for them belongs to a consortium led by Swiss micro-engineering institute CSEM, which is in turn backed by Rolex, the Swatch Group and Patek Philippe

Are Influencers Over? | The Daily | Gartner L2 – interesting read and contrasting approaches between Unilever and Diesel.

5 Asian Trends for 2019 – TrendWatchingAfter decades of economic growth, rising numbers of Asians are no longer primarily focused on pursuing material wealth. On the contrary, the pressures of progress are catching up: overwork, mental health issues, apathy, and more. In 2019, many Asians comfortable with their economic status


Meet the ‘godfather’ of China’s smartphone industry | SCMP – the founder of BBK which backs Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, RealMe etc

Cheatsheet: Snapchat is no longer adding more users (but it isn’t losing them, either) – Digiday – bots are loyal?

WSJ City | As US and Germany draw up trade barriers, Germany fights back – makes sense

WSJ City | Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts leaving company – makes sense. Apple’s move into true luxury pricing has shown to be a fallacy if one looks at consumer reaction to iPhone sales and laptop pricing. A number of people I know downgraded in the range rather than follow through on MacBook Pro purchases. Also the retail presence has felt like straightening deck chairs rather than moving forwards

Five for Friday | 五日(星期五) | 금요일에 다섯 가지

I had to start with this short film ‘One Small Step’ I saw that’s right up there with Pixar in terms of its storytelling and craft.

I’ve been listening to this mix by Greg Wilson which contains his favourite edits and reworks from 2018

Cixin Liu’s short story The Wandering Earth has been adapted into a film that’s been released in China over the spring festival. The trailer looks immense but I don’t know if Liu’s work has been done justice through the film adaptation.

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

100 spies will monitor all SMS and email that goes in and out of Norway | Nettavisen – original in Norwegian

Smart Speaker Market Takes Off in Holiday Quarter | Consumer Intelligence Research Partners – interesting that you’re starting to see multi-speaker households (1/3rd of US households who own a smart speaker device own more than one). I am still leery of them. (PDF)

Chinese Rap Queen Vava Fronts New Alexander Wang Campaign – China’s best female rapper. Most of her tracks sound like Korean R&B influenced pop music. Her ‘My New Swag’ takes things in a different direction and is her best track to date

Loop – Launching 2019 – is it just me or is recycling a trojan horse to try and break Amazon’s rampage into FMCG?

A Trip Behind The Spectacle At Davos | Palladium MagazineIf I could ask Schwab a single question, it would be this: if you knew in 1971 that the WEF would eventually be occupied by hordes of low-rent blockchain grifters, would you just fold up the whole thing? The blockchain community, though it contains a few interesting projects, is dominated by obvious scams, and so received an appropriate amount of contempt from traditional finance at Davos, whose scams are much more subtle and institutionalized.

Bits: The Week in Tech: Bracing for the Year of the Pig in China | NYTimes.com – In a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the billionaire investor George Soros labeled President Xi the world’s “most dangerous opponent of open societies,” warning of the “mortal danger” in China’s use of artificial intelligence to repress its people. (Paywall)

$50 for a Rimowa Look-a-Like: Innovation or Infringement? | BoF – interesting that the Made In China aspect of luxury brand products is now being used against them by Chinese companies. Also increasing pride in Made In China

Operating system loyalty hits all time high | Consumer Intelligence Research Partners – mobile OS seems to be cemented into solid markets now(PDF)

How Sneaker Bots Ruined Buying Shoes | Complex – this feels like peak streetwear

People. Places. Things. — Your community in your pocket. – I first heard about this and thought about he locative art in William Gibson’s later books. Then I looked at the site and was reminded of the overload of ads in Altered Carbon but with less art and aplomb. This looks hellish, I am sure the concept, if not the start-up, will be very successful eventually

Hulu announces a new ad unit that appears when you pause | TechCrunch – playing an ad just as you decide to got to the bathroom, answer the door for the pizza delivery guy or go and make a cup of tea – I do wonder about the efficiency and effectiveness of this ad unit. Is a view still a view if it plays whilst you walk away from it?

WSJ: Apple Should Make The Chinese Version of iPhone – probably makes sense if it were an international device. I know that there is already a grey market for people interested in the dual SIM iPhone, the problem is verifying that the device isn’t shanzhai

Champion athletic wear is getting its inevitable nostalgic streetwear moment | Quartz – Quartz is a bit behind on this and may just be marking the peak of the Champion wave rather than the start of it

Worldwide threat assessment of the US intelligence community by Daniel R Coates, director of national intelligence – interesting reading, particularly when you notice the cognitive dissonance between US foreign policy and this clear eyed assessment. Secondly the section on China is really good (PDF)

What marketing trends will shape China in 2019? | The Drum – interesting how programmatic shops think that 5G will instantly boost their businesses. I am not convinced

Ultraviolet Shuts Down: Cloud Locker Closes This Summer – Variety – which is a good example why cloud services and media aren’t a great idea

`The Internet Is The Great Equalizer’ – Bloomberg – 20 years later we now know that it isn’t

Engage With Apple to Engage With Patients | Forrester Research – probably an overly optimistic piece by Forrester but interesting reading

Alibaba Group Announces December Quarter 2018 Results | Business Wire – slowing growth overall, but fast growth in cloud services and a more bearish view Deep Throat: Alibaba Q3 Earnings Call

Everything you need to know about Apple’s Q2 19 results | Computerworld“We’ve said several times that the upgrades for the quarter were less than we anticipated due to the reasons we mentioned. Where it goes in the future, I don’t know. I’m convinced making a great product that’s high quality is best for the consumer.”

WSJ City | Apple bug enables eavesdropping on FaceTime users – surprised that this didn’t come out in testing

My Aramco Childhood | Slate – great tale of a third culture kid

Zendesk Alternative – enterprise software company Zendesk punked competitor SEO tactics by forming an inhouse band. Brilliant idea

Nike Replaces Under Armour as MLB’s Uniform Provider | HYPEBEAST – Starting in 2020, Nike will be the official uniform provider for the MLB, NBA and NFL. Total lock out in competition with adidas, Reebok and Under Armour

We analyzed 16,625 papers to figure out where AI is headed next – MIT Technology Review – deep learning seems to have hit a peak

Oprah time: To kill the truth by Sam Bourne

To kill the truth is very much a book of our time. It explores the power of historical records, the alt-right and technology. The plot opens with a very current battle between ‘woke’ academia meets the polo-shirted, tiki torch-bearing far right. A former academic has gone to court in order to dispute our understanding of the slave trade and create a revisionist history.

Historical records and accounts were picked apart to cast sufficient doubt on them. By using this legal standard record-by-record the mass of evidence is ignored. The truth becomes lies, rather like social political discussions over Brexit and Trump’s election.

Untitled

Then key establishments of historical record start to burn down around the world. Online repositories from websites to Google are brought to their knees by hackers. Into this mess steps a smart wonkish protagonist Maggie Costello. Maggie is tired of the political machine and gets pulled back in. Soon she suffers from online identity theft.

Taking one side Costello’s gender for a moment. Costello feels familiar. This is partly because she is so similar to Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Smart bookish heros who could see what the establishment couldn’t.

The second parallel to Clancy’s work is that characters are secondary to the big ideas and technical wonders. And here lies the book’s achilles heel. Costello has obviously beeen developed as a smart vulnerable ‘woke’ hero. But she feels like a cardboard cut-out rather than a believable character. The androgynous nom-de-plume Sam Bourne hides the identity of Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland. His wonkish credentials created a great high concept, but he hasn’t managed to create a character that we can root for.

Enjoy the exploration of big contemporary issues, just keep our expectations low on the character development.