Via the KBS World Sounds of Korea program I discovered the gugak a cappella group from Korea today. From the program web page:

A gugak band named Toris토리스 was formed to bring all these different tori pieces from various regions and make music that can be enjoyed by everyone. Toris is also the only gugak a cappella group in Korea. The group, formed in 2009, is comprised of vocalists specializing in pansori, Korean folk songs, and a cappella. Let’s begin this week’s episode with Toris singing “Saetaryeong새타령” or “Bird Song,” a folk song from the southern region.

Today, after making home-made kimchi, my partner and I decided to listen to this podcast on Sinica about the history of the chile pepper in China. In the episode Kaiser Kuo talks with historian Brian R. Dott about his latest book “The Chili Pepper in China: A Cultural Biography.” A summary from the book’s web page:

Brian R. Dott explores how the nonnative chile went from obscurity to ubiquity in China, influencing not just cuisine but also medicine, language, and cultural identity. He details how its versatility became essential to a variety of regional cuisines and swayed both elite and popular medical and healing practices. Dott tracks the cultural meaning of the chile across a wide swath of literary texts and artworks, revealing how the spread of chiles fundamentally altered the meaning of the term spicy. He emphasizes the intersection between food and gender, tracing the chile as a symbol for both male virility and female passion. Integrating food studies, the history of medicine, and Chinese cultural history, The Chile Pepper in China sheds new light on the piquant cultural impact of a potent plant and raises broader questions regarding notions of authenticity in cuisine.

Bruce Schneier wrote a great opinion article on aspects of thrust in blockchain technologies and “the idea that blockchains can somehow eliminate the need for trust persists”.

What blockchain does is shift some of the trust in people and institutions to trust in technology. You need to trust the cryptography, the protocols, the software, the computers and the network. And you need to trust them absolutely, because they’re often single points of failure.

Read his full article on Wired.

Politico reported on some new EU regulations which would restrict the exports of surveillance technologies by companies.

The update to EU rules, expected to be agreed within weeks, would set up a comprehensive EU list of technologies that governments can control through licensing. It would also increase due diligence obligations on companies to check if their goods can be used by their clients to violate human rights.

The Register reported on the announcement of Apple to introduce “privacy ‘nutrition labels’” (

“For food, you have nutrition labels; you can see if it’s packed with protein or loaded with sugar, or maybe both, all before you buy it,” he said. “So we thought it would be great to have something similar for apps. We’re going to require each developer to self-report their practices.”

From the announcement by Apple:

Later this year, the App Store will help users understand an app’s privacy practices before they download the app on any Apple platform. On each app’s product page, users can learn about some of the data types the app may collect, and whether that data is linked to them or used to track them.

Apparently there has been a challenge that was posed to designers to rethink visual for cybersecurity: “How might we reimagine a more compelling and relatable visual language for cybersecurity?”

Most of the images in this field are indeed overused, so it is quite interesting to alternatives these designers came with. Have a look at the top contributions here.

Artist Deborah Roberts created an interested series called Pluralism in which she collected names in a Microsoft Word document which are then marked as misspelled by the spell checker.

Have a look at the piece here (via

Eva Modebadze wrote an interesting article in relation to the current protests for abortion rights in Poland. The following is a quote from her article on foucaultblog, in which she recaps the argument on the interlinkages between the construction of gender, sexuality and the nation state:

Gender, sexuality and nationalism are all socially and culturally constructed in oppositions, sometimes not necessarily binary. The nation consists of sexed subjects who are part of culturally constructed hierarchies, and these relationships always involve power. By the control over sexuality and reproduction, the authority to define what is right and what is bad for the nation lies mainly within patriarchal notions of nationalism. Since nationalism is about difference, it is equally exclusive where hierarchies are constructed along the lines of gender, class, race or sexuality. The rise of nationalism enhances the politics of exclusion and takes different configurations in different settings.

This article from The Financial Times titled “What the South Sea Company can teach us” explores the history book “Money For Nothing” by Thomas Levenson on The South Sea Bubble. From the following quote from the article, it seems that Levenson combines interesting perspectives on the history of science and economics:

What differentiates Levenson’s account from the many earlier ones is his background as a science writer and academic at MIT. His broad thesis is that by the turn of the 18th century the power of mathematics and habits of observation associated with the scientific revolution created new ways to think about the future. In effect, the likes of Newton and Edmond Halley, the astronomer, developed a formal framework for thinking about money, risk and uncertainty, which came to full fruition in the financial engineering that characterised the bubble year of 1720.

In article from the Financial Time on how Big Tech can “best tackle conspiracy theories,” the author shares some interesting insights from research done by a group of ethnographers called Ethnographic Praxis in Context. Apparently these researchers observed that people who believe in conspiracy theories tend to “believe information that comes from scruffier, amateurish sites, since these seem more ‘authentic’":

Anyone hoping to debunk these ideas also needs to think hard about cultural signals. Take website design. Twenty-first century professionals typically give more credibility to information that comes from sites that look polished.

Conversely, the ethnographers discovered that conspiracy theorists are more likely to believe information that comes from scruffier, amateurish sites, since these seem more “authentic”. This point may not be obvious to techies at places such as Google — and is not the type of insight that big data analysis will reveal. But it is crucial.

Read the full article here.

Member of the European Parliament Sofie in ‘t Veld wrote an article on about:intel about the reliance on foreign and US technologies in EU domestic security, such as Palantir. Here’s a quote from her conclusions:

The European Union is overly reliant on foreign companies for digital services, both on the government and the consumer level. This reliance cannot be fixed overnight. It is however high time to make choices that at least steer the EU towards more strategic independence. Companies that don’t fall within the EU’s jurisdiction cannot be involved with matters of domestic security. This must be particularly true for companies that have strong ties to American security services, as is the case with Palantir.

This article from The New Yorker discusses a Reddit forum where people post pictures of their fridge and others guess what kind of person they are.