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

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

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

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

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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

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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

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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

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

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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

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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

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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.


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.