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Wednesday October 14 2020

(Reality) Check Please!

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Sanity Break #1

This is a 7-foot statue of Medusa holding the severed head of Perseus—which will soon be installed in a Manhattan park across the court where Harvey Weinstein stood trial. Why is it intriguing: In the original myth, Medusa was raped by Poseidon, cursed by Athena and in the end, beheaded by Perseus. has more. (h/t subscriber Sowmya Swaminathan)

Sanity Break #1

Headlines that matter

APPLE’S IPHONE 12 IS HERE! The latest and highly anticipated overpriced Apple product has arrived! Here’s what we know about it:   * It has a brand new/retro design with flat edges, similar to iPhone 5.  * All of them are 5G-enabled and have a “Ceramic Shield” glass cover to make them less fragile.  * The series includes iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max and a smaller version called iPhone 12 Mini—with a 5.4-inch screen. * The high end version iPhone 12 Pro Max has a 6.7-inch screen, three back cameras that offer a 5X optical zoom range, a LiDAR sensor for things like improved augmented reality apps and faster autofocus, and a stainless steel outer band.  * The Mini starts at Rs 69,900 and the most expensive is Rs 1,59,900. All the price points are available over at . * You can reach for that credit card starting October 23. has more details on the big reveals.   The big takeaway: Apple is kissing wires goodbye. The new series gets rid of wired headphones and wall chargers. Instead, you get two kinds of wireless charging pads: MagSafe Charger charges one device at a time; you can charge two with MagSafe Charger Duo. explains why Apple will permanently change the way we charge our phones. A HATEFUL END TO A LOVE-FILLED AD Tanishq rolled out 45-second ad that features a Muslim mother-in-law hosting a traditional Hindu ceremony for her pregnant daughter-in-law. Hindutva haters the company for celebrating ‘love jihad’. The jewellery company withdrew the ad “keeping in mind the hurt sentiments and well-being of our employees, partners and store staff.” Now, everyone else is disappointed with Tanishq for “bowing down” (see: this well-argued blog post ). But we can’t help wondering how many of us would be willing to personally safeguard Tanishq stores or employees? In these hazardous times, a ‘controversial’ ad advocating widow remarriage (which Tanishq has stood by in the past) isn’t quite the same as one that threatens the “well being” of real human beings. In any case, irrespective of Tanishq’s response, the ad is lovely and very much available—and we are all free to share it.   Not just in India: Kraft Heinz is in trouble in the United States for a jokey marketing campaign for its mac and cheese. The reason: It encourages people to "send noods"—i.e. noodles—to their loved ones. Yes, it sounds like nudes. And yes, angry parents have attacked the company for “sexualizing” the humble dish and encouraging predators: "This is not okay. Don’t you realize that a huge portion of the people who actually eat your mac n’ cheese are children?!" Umm, don’t kids past the age of two mostly eat the same things as adults? has more on this strange story.   FACEBOOK’S ‘EVOLVED’ THINKING ON THE HOLOCAUST The Zuck announced that his company is updating its hate speech policy to ban all content that denies the Holocaust—or spreads misinformation about it. If people search for the Holocaust on Facebook, it will direct you to “authoritative sources to get accurate information.” The :    > “I've struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of > the Holocaust. My own thinking has evolved as I've seen data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence, as have our wider > policies on hate speech. Drawing the right lines between what is and isn't acceptable speech isn't straightforward, but with the > current state of the world, I believe this is the right balance.”   This from a guy who in 2018:   > “I'm Jewish and there's a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find it deeply offensive. But at the end of the > day, I don't believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I > don't think that they're intentionally getting it wrong."    Better late than never? Or too little, too late? We leave it to you to decide.    AN INDIAN RESTAURANT IN ARMENIA Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a six-year war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh that ended in 1994 with a ceasefire—which has been broken since September ( offers an excellent explainer). Thousands have been left homeless, and . In the midst of the chaos and bloodshed, an Indian restaurant run by Parvez Ali Khan has been distributing free meals to refugees. has that story. Clip of the daily prep . Bonus: on India’s position on the conflict.   THE GREAT PANDEMIC: A QUICK UPDATE * First it was AstraZeneca, now Johnson & Johnson its human trials due to an unexplained illness in one of the participants. Point to note: both vaccines are based on a modified cold virus. However, AstraZeneca’s glitch proved to be temporary, and its trials are back on track (read our ). * Also paused: the experimental drug cocktail —most recently talked up by Trump. Again: one of the participants fell ill. * Football superstar has tested positive but is "doing well, without symptoms, and in isolation.” The rest of the Portugal team, however, has not been infected. * The International Monetary Fund now predicts that the Indian economy will during this fiscal year—that’s more than double the estimate (4.5%) in June. China, OTOH, improved its forecast from 1% to 1.9% of growth. * New data analysis shows that the United States had one of the worst mortality rates in the world (71.6 deaths/100 000) between March 1 and August 1—largely due to its failure to handle the pandemic. The actual number of deaths were 20% higher than expected—leading to 225,530 “extra deaths.” If nothing changes, there will be 400,000 “extra deaths” by the end of 2020. has more. * Peruvian officials for a single Japanese tourist who was stranded in the country due to the pandemic for seven months: “He had come to Peru with the dream of being able to enter… The Japanese citizen has entered together with our head of the park so that he can do this before returning to his country.” * Good read: profiles Sean Penn’s one-man battle against the virus. * Meanwhile, folks at this were partying like it’s 2019. The pub has since been shut down.   COURTS HIT RESET ON MJ AKBAR CASE Two years ago, MJ Akbar—the former editor of Asian Age and Rajya Sabha MP—filed a defamation case against Priya Ramani. The reason: she tweeted about his sexually predatory behaviour which unleashed a flood of far more serious allegations. Now, two years later—right after the final arguments were being made—the Delhi court has decided it doesn’t have jurisdiction over this case.    The reason: It can only hear cases filed against an MP, not cases filed by an MP. The judge said: “There have been directions from the Supreme Court… This case has to be placed before the District and Sessions Judge for further directions.” has more on this unexpected development.   SOLVING THE BIG MYSTERY OF LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS For decades, psychologists have observed that couples start to resemble each other over time—but there has never been any definitive proof or refutation of this hypothesis. may have finally cracked the puzzle using cutting-edge facial recognition software. The answer: nope, none of it is true. Yes, couples do look slightly more similar but that is likely due to a ‘selection bias’:   > “The findings suggest that celebrity couples such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter, and Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady, > will not grow to look more alike over time, but rather went for partners with similar features to themselves. Tea-makorn said > people may seek out similar-looking partners, just as they look for mates with matching values and personalities.”   CHINESE CURRENCY GOES DIGITAL Nope, this isn’t cryptocurrency but merely the digital version of the yuan—and it is meant to be an add-on to existing digital payment options. Beijing has issued 200 digital yuan ($30) to 50,000 citizens to kick off this innovation. has more. You can check out what it looks like . Speaking of innovations: IIT-Madras researchers have developed an anti-bacterial and biodegradable material to wrap food. It can preserve fruits, veggies and meat for up to 10 days at room temperature. And the material will degrade within 21 days, making it a great replacement for plastic. ()

(Reality) Check Please!

Sanity Break #2

What we learned: all you need to do to take a sanity break is to the not-so-distant past. Yup, that’s Arnab and Rajdeep. Yup, that’s a television news broadcast. Sigh!

Sanity Break #2

Smart & Curious

A LIST OF INTRIGUING THINGS One: This rose-breasted grosbeak is half male on the red side, and female on the yellow side. has more on this fascinating find in Pennsylvania.    Two: The US military has developed augmented reality goggles for dogs to help soldiers give them visual commands when they are out of sight. has more.   Three: This is director Sai Paranjpye wrote to Ravi Baswani insisting he take a role in ‘Dhuan Dhuan’—later to be renamed ‘Chashme Buddoor’. Sigh, we don’t think uncovering an equally famous email—decades from now—will have quite the same nostalgic effect.   Four: This is Virginia Woolf’s real-life room of her own which she liked very much, “though it was not ideal for concentration. She was always being distracted—by Leonard sorting the apples over her head in the loft... or the dog sitting next to her... leaving paw marks on her manuscript pages.” Yup, sounds about right. The Guardian has more of other famous authors, including Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas.   A SHORT LIST OF GOOD READS * takes a baseball bat to bludgeon its own journalism and star reporter Rukmini Callimachi 👏👏👏 * asks: Have the science Nobels become archaic in a world where the biggest breakthroughs are made by global teams and not individuals? * We learned a lot from this that looks at the difference between (extremist or terrorist) cells vs. groups vs. movements. * We missed this one on Monday: lovely essay on her life with a person with bipolar disorder—and the unrecognised burden on women who are expected to play selfless caregivers.

Smart & Curious

Feel Good Place

One: This is the absolute best ever: Mock dating profile photos of dogs. The caption on reads: “Patricia 52 - divorced. Kids just gone off to uni - so time 'to get herself out there'. Not used a webcam before.”   Two: A Penguin—of the DC universe kind aka Colin Farrell… Yup, that’s what he looks like. This has way more shots of the set.   Three: channels Mumbai during a power cut (h/t founding member Ameya Nagarajan).  

Feel good place

archivetitle dog ic

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