Ian Robinson

March 14, 2021

Ian Robinson's Weekly Digest 14th March 2021

Welcome to my latest Weekly Digest with pointers and commentary on things that have caught my eye in the last week. This week's post has seven items plus one awful film, one good film, and five new music pointers! The music pointers now have both Apple Music and Spotify links. All links from names of people or companies go to their Twitter account if they have one, or their website if they don’t.

Before I jump into this weeks items, I want to comment on the stupidly bad actions of the London Metropolitan Police in response to the peaceful vigil on Clapham Common that many women rightly wanted to have after the murder of Sarah Everard. Contrary to reports you will see from the usual suspects in the press and social media, the gathering was not unlawful under the Coronavirus regulations. A judge indicated this in the High Court and expected the Metropolitan police to arrange how it could go ahead safely with the organisers. The police refused to have meaningful discussions, so the organisers cancelled the vigil. Many women still wanted to mark the murder and gathered at a bandstand on the Common with candles and flowers. The police watched them gather over several hours, then kettled them and used the jostling that comes with kettling to justify violent arrests. Disgraceful. Incidentally, a serving Metropolitan police officer has been charged with Sarah Everard's murder.  Policing in our society comes from the consent of the populace. The Met are losing the consent and respect of many segments of the population one group at a time. Eventually, a tipping point will be reached where respect and consent for the police will be a minority. That will be a bad situation for the police and society.  I'm already at that point. We need a fresh look at how the Metropolitan police are constituted and led.

Culture - Films
I watched two new films this week. One was awful, and one was good after a slow start. The awful one was Wonder Woman 84. It is terrible. It's so disappointing after the original Wonder Woman film from 2017. That was an empowering film, where the female character has agency and saved the day. The new one spends most of the film rejecting that. It has no redeeming features. I rated it 2 out of 10 on IMDb. The lowest rating I've ever given a film. I think I have a psychological barrier that stops me from giving it the lowest rating. For comparison, I rated the first Wonder Woman film 10 out of 10. I wouldn't usually mention a film that I didn't like. But this was so disappointing it warranted discussion.

The other film was Moxie. This was timely given the events around the murder of Sarah Everard, as the film deals with themes around misogyny and athletic macho culture in a typical American High School. It focuses on a 16-year old pupil who sees the double standards applied to popular members of the male football team and what it allows them to get away with in other school activities. She takes a cue from her mother's rebellious student past and starts an anonymous photocopied magazine called Moxie! to call out things that are wrong. I'll avoid spoilers, but this magazine encourages others to stand up for their rights. I really liked it. It’s a slow starter, and some of the dialogue near the start is a bit on the nose. But the 2nd and 3rd acts are superb. It’s a good takedown of high school athletic macho bullshit. The cast and music are good. (Rebel Girl and La Vie en Rose in the music pointers below are from the film). I rated it 8 out of 10.

If you follow me on Twitter you'll know that I loved Happy Death Day and it's sequel Happy Death Day 2U. I rewatched them this week, and as usual, I searched to see if there was any indication of a third being made. Previously there wasn't. But things may have changed according to this article. Hopefully Universal will say yes soon. Films and TV series for the new streaming services will allow a lot of stuff to get made that might not have been made in the past. 

Culture - New music I discovered this week
Now with Apple Music and Spotify links!

Culture - Current Affairs
Meghan and Harry v 'The Institution': another royal fairytale turned Grimm - Marina Hyde - Link
Marina Hyde's columns in The Guardian on current affairs are the best in the business. Her satire, analogies, metaphors, and prose are simply wonderful. You should be reading her. This one on the current Royal Family shenanigans is typically brilliant. Also, see her most recent one about experiences of being harassed on the street.   

Culture - Current Affairs
How Britain Became the Dumbest Society in the World - Umair Haque - Link
A pretty much on the nose account of how the UK has lost its way and is on the road to trash the gains made over the last 40 years. I remember the 1970's. They were shit. My only quibble with this essay would be the timescales. He mentions things going bad over the last 20 years. It's worse than that - the previous ten years are all we needed to screw things up. 

Technology - Investing
Apple will invest over 1 billion euros in Germany and plans European Silicon Design Center in Munich - Apple - Link
Apple is expanding its presence in Germany by investing €1B in a Munich design centre to create new 5G and wireless systems for future Apple products. Nice one.

Technology - Privacy
Transparency is the best policy - Apple - Link
Apple recently started requiring all app developers to include information on the data they collect and what can be linked to the user. This is a good thing, in my opinion. Take a look at the data that Facebook and Google collect! Yikes. Apple has gathered the privacy labels for all their apps on a single page for easy review. You can see it here.

Technology - Privacy
Google’s FLoC Is a Terrible Idea - EFF - Link
Browser cookies that are used to track people across the web are being phased out for several reasons. The targetted advertising that relied on them (and other tracking methods) needs to be replaced by big advertising vendors like Google and Facebook. If they want to be able to sell their adds for more money in targeted ways. Google is proposing a system called FLoC that works in the Chrome Browser as a replacement. FLoC is short for Federated Learning of Cohorts. Basically, the browser would assign each user to a cohort every week and then they would use this to sell the cohorts to advertisers to place targetted ads on web pages. The Electonic Frontier Foundation (EFF) doesn't think this is much of an improvement for privacy, as they outline in their article.

Technology - World Wide Web
Information Management: A Proposal - Tim Berners-Lee - Link
March 12th was the 32nd anniversary of Tim Berners-Lee proposing a distributed hypertext system to help manage CERN's information overload. It went on to be the World Wide Web, and grew into the monster we all use today.

Science - Research
Ultra-weak gravitational field detected - Nature - Link
Testing gravity between very small mass objects is hard. Due to gravity being so weak and the fact that it's difficult to exclude the gravity from the Earth's mass in labs. A new paper explores the gravitational field attraction between two masses of only 90 milligrams. This is stunning in its own right, but it's also a step towards investigating gravity at the quantum level. This Nature News & Views article discusses the results.


About Ian Robinson

Writer, walker, atheist, Apple enthusiast, cinema lover, hobby musician, science junkie, perpetual maths student, cricket fan, chess patzer. Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK.