On truth and politics

The Guardian’s Cambridge Analytica files.

Read the thread on Rob Blackie’s tweet for a bit more balance

Django pioneer Simon Willison highlighted this great thread

Who needs the truth? By The Aspen Institute


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

Things that made my day this week:

I was having an online conversation with friends in the game about our favourite advertising, and this one came up. I hadn’t seen it before. It’s a public service announcement from New Zealand: Blazed – Drug Driving in Aotearoa.

I also managed to find all the Rutger Hauer ‘Pure Genius’ ads done for Guinness. A lot of it looks like fresh thinking but mainstream production now due to CGI and After Effects, but at the time it was like nothing else that you would have seen

I have been listening to this mix by Nazira. Nazira is from Almaty, Kazakhstan and plays at Berlin’s Room 4 Resistance parties. There’s also a great interview with her on the Discwoman site

First issue of Fieldnotes newsletter is out! | Chad Dickerson’s blog – I used to work at Yahoo! when Chad was there, so can vouch for the newsletter being all killer, no filler. I can also recommend a second newsletter Brain Reel by Gemma Milne.

Revisiting For A Few Dollars More – I love the pace, the way it was shot and the storytelling. It also has Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood teaming up – EPIC.

Oprah Time: Dark Satanic Mills by Marcus and Julian Sedgwick

dark satanic mills

I grew up with British dystopian science fiction with a fascistic bent. From the numerous franchises within 2000AD magazine to Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta.

The tone of these stories was set by a UK dealing with:

  • Decolonisation and trying to work out its place in the world
  • Economic chaos due to inflation, a shrinking manufacturing base and globalisation
  • A battle of elites against working people
  • The rise of right wing populism
  • The rise of racism 

It sounds rather similar doesn’t it?

The Sedgwick brothers Dark Satanic Mills fits right into this very British genre of graphic novels. The illustration style is similar to the stark black and white kinetic styles of 2000AD or Moore’s From Hell. It should be of now surprise that the jacket copy was written by Pat Mills of 2000AD. It almost felt like the baton was being passed on to the next generation.

The book has a premise that is similar to the body of work in 2000AD. It taps into Moore, channeling not only V for Vendetta, but also his love of mysticism. William Blake’s Jerusalem and The Bible fit into a post-apocalyptic backdrop. Blake fits the bill perfectly: his association with the English identity often misused by ‘patriots’, his innate distrust in systems and of organised religion make his words the ideal foil.

The heroine Charlie is a dispatch rider who ends up in possession of a manuscript that will expose the populist government and the religious zealots it uses as a paramilitary force.

The religious zealots called the Soldiers of Truth are a chimera of Britain First and the droogs in Kubrick’s film adaption of A Clockwork Orange.

Charley ricochets around an England where rational thought, tolerance, logical analysis and experts are enemies of the state. It echoes Michael Gove‘s

“I think people in this country, have had enough of experts.”

Without giving too much more away, the story finishes in an ambigious way leaving Charley and the authorities open to a future largely unwritten. Again the ambiguity of a post-Brexit future is an obvious analogy. The fact that Dark Satanic Mills was published in 2013 makes it feel curiously prescient: a parable for our times.


Five for Friday | 五日(星期五)

Things that made my day this week

I am currently working my way through Scott Galloway’s The Four which outlines how big technology impacts our lives and what can be done about it

Chinese spoof on Jurassic Park

Anime featuring anthropomorphized blood cells confirmed, actually looks cooler than it sounds | SoraNews24 – this seems mad as a bag of cats

Japanese band Godiego are most famous in the UK for the music to 1970s show Monkey. This rendition of Monkey Magic show that they have the funk

Amazing mix of Japanese funk breaks, spot the film soundtrack bits

Jargon watch: zhuāng bì (装B)

Newspaper collage featuring Mao Zetong

China has developed a deep and constantly evolving language online. It is fascinating to study how Chinese netizens use emoticons in a distinctly different way to westerners and the language constantly morphs in a way that leaves Chinese expatriates baffled even after a short time outside the country.  zhuāng bì (pronounce the zh as a short j) is a case in point.  It means poser.

Christine Xu gives an in-depth explanation of how 装B came about, given that western characters aren’t generally used by Chinese.