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Some Thoughts on the Rebuilding of Notre Dame

I am so pleased in regard to the announcement by French President Macron about the rebuilting of  Notre Dame. This reminds me of a similar rebuilding of a sacred shrine in Japan. This is an excerpt from an early novel I wrote after I lived in Japan. It is an illustration of the Buddhist concept of impermanence. 

 

     The shrine of the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, the holiest of holy Shinto shrines, is in Ise, near Kyoto. It embodies a mystery which is typically Japanese. It takes time to walk there, through outer gates and the grounds of buildings, through a sacred grove of cypress trees, past a sacred river filled with sacred carp, until finally you reach the inner shrine, an elegant building made of cypress, which is torn down every twenty years and rebuilt accord to the same ancient architectural plan, by the same family which has done nothing but this from time immemorial, at least a thousand years. When you finally reach the inner shrine, your destination, it is empty, the classic example of empty space. The shrine is a mystery, nothing less than a place for the spirit to descend to earth.

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5G: The Battle for the Next Generation Technology

A quick animation defines 5G, for the reader who has yet to figure out why the U. S. and China, the world's two most important economies, are battling it out over who dominates the next generation of technology.

This animation explains 5G. Here is why consumers all over the world will want phones with the new technology. It is fast, and the internet world of things will be connected to it.

According to the BBC piece cited below, "In principle, controlling the technology that sits at the heart of vital communications networks gives Huawei the capacity to conduct espionage or disrupt communications during any future dispute, particularly as more things, from autonomous vehicles to domestic appliances, become connected to the internet."

Any reader of espionage fiction will immediately see the potential for spying, which is why countries are considering banning Huawei. As far as China goes, the battle for fair play on the global stage is illustrated by Huawei in a microcosm.



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New Chinese Sci-Fi Film To Have U. S. Release



Sci-fi is a new genre for Chinese film. "The Wandering Earth", set to open in U. S. theaters on February 8th, may score big with international audiences. This is, in no small part, because the script is written by a Hugo Award-winning Chinese author, the first of Chinese to win the prestigious award.

Judging from the trailer, this new film that will appeal to global audiences because of its fast pacing, stunning special effects and computer graphics, and well-choreographed action.

In space,action must be big and the film delivers the dance of the space ship against the vastness of space, the ballet of weightlessness in fighting scenes against opponents, and the wielding of super-weapons. All three elements are on visual display in the trailer. See for yourself by clicking above.
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Indian Film: Asia's Next Big Cultural Export?



China has been moving into Hollywood for years, partnering with American film studios with a view to export China's culture as soft power. The Hollywood formula has eluded the Chinese. What the U. S., is exporting is lifestyle, standard of living, and classic dramatic archetypes.

The Chinese government wants Chinese film to have the same cachet as Hollywood film. This has not been a success. The image of China has been difficult to export. The question is "Why?"

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Kevin Kwan and the Real Crazy Rich Asians



A sneak peek at the lifestyles of the women of imperial splendor. Lifestyles of the rich and Singaporean, with Kevin along for the ride.

An interview with Kevin will appear in my forthcoming work, "The Lamborghini and the Laogai: The Two Faces of China's Rise."  Read More 
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Xi Jinping's Rise to Become the Most Powerful Leader in Decades



This video by the Wall Street Journal gives an excellent summary of Xi Jinping's rise to become the most powerful leader of China in decades. A must see.

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A Top Cybersecurity Professional Discusses China Writing Code

Richard Bejtlich is one of the top cybersecurity professionals in the world. He discusses technical issues in a manner that makes sense to a non-techie. That would be me. It is my guess, dear reader, that this would also be you.

I have interviewed Richard Bejtlich at length on two occasions. I am an avid follower of his blog for the thrillers I write.

On his TaoSecurity blog, he writes on topics of interest to "the hunters", those who defend U. S. government and corporations against foreign hackers and internal intruders.

Bejtlich is former Air Force Intelligence and as a civilian, was formerly the top cybersecurity professional at Mandiant, the company called in to fix the biggest and most damaging breaches. He was the head of the team that positively identified a PLA Army site as the source of major intrusions. His report led to the indictment of five named PLA hackers.

(See my previous blog on the Mandiant Report in the archives.)

Here is the quote at the top of his blog post about a recent article about the Chinese writing their own code. Read the full post at the web address below.

"Periodically I read about efforts by China, or Russia, or North Korea, or other countries to replace American software with indigenous or semi-indigenous alternatives. I then reply via Twitter that I love the idea, with a short reason why.

"This post will list the top five reasons why I want China and other likely targets of American foreign intelligence collection to run their own software."

https://taosecurity.blogspot.com/2017/03/five-reasons-i-want-china-running-its.html

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Going to the Horde: The Effect of the Mongol Invasion on Russia

In the thirteenth century, the Mongol Khans invaded Russia and occupied the lower Volga setting up a vast nomad camp. The Golden Horde remained in control of Russia for two hundred and fifty years.

The invasion army was commanded by Batu Khan, a grandson of Genghis Khan. The Mongol Army was the greatest fighting force of the medieval world. In my new book, I examine the strategy and tactics that would have come into play if the Mongols had decided to conquer Europe.

The first invasion force was small, only twenty thousand. It was an experiment, an expeditionary force. The great general had spies, Venetian spies, who informed him of conditions in Russia. (They also provided intelligence on conditions in Europe that caused Subudei to plan the invasion of Europe with Batu in command of one wing of the army.)

Europe was divided and the Europeans were in blissful ignorance about the Mongols and their potential danger. Even when warned by King Bela of Hungary about the approaching menace, the Europeans ignored the warnings. The Pope and the Holy Roman Empire were at war. They were preoccupied, too busy killing each other to face an external threat. It is a very good story.
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North Korea: Uncertainty in Asia



Senior U. S. Diplomat says that Trump team is inexperienced in dealing with North Korea. That American allies in the region see China as uncertain, and the U. S. unpredictable with the Trump administration.

All in all, the situation is unstable.
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The Inside Scoop on Hacking: Russia and China in Cyberspace



With everyone on Capitol Hill discussing the hacking or non-hacking of the DNC by Russia, this is a must-see video.

In this interview with Defense News TV, Richard Bejtlich explains the anatomy of a hack. An intrusion is much longer than a split-second invasion in real time. Often the invader is inside the system for years before the target is aware.

Yes. You read that right. The intruder is inside the system for years. A little computer science helps to clarify the current discussion on Capitol Hill.

Richard is one of the top cybersecurity experts in the United States. I have interviewed him a number of times, most recently in Washington, D. C.

The interviews explain the motivations and practice of cyber espionage by China for my new book, "The Lamborghini and the LaoGai: The Two Faces of China's Rise."His list of top offenders are China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. With the Iranians working with the North Koreans.

This analysis is enough to make anyone nervous, but if you go to the FireEye website, you will find a map of worldwide threats in cyberspace. Go if you want to loose sleep at night.

(See my blog archive for my interview with Beijtlich on the Mandiant report on APT 1, the People's Liberation Army building in Shanghai, the location of the IP address of the five Chinese who were indicted in an American court as the Chinese hacking team.)

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