Wednesday 2 September 2020

Free At Last!

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Sanity Break #1

We stumbled upon this —which is perfect for everyone struggling with mental health issues. And right now, it is literally everyone! It offers a useful reminder and good laugh every time you need it.

Sanity Break #1

Headlines that matter

NEW DELHI SLAPS BACK AT BEIJING The Defence Ministry now says that Chinese troops made not one, but two attempts to “change the status quo” on the Ladakh border since Saturday. As part of its counter-offensive, the Indian army has key territory:   > “The Indian Army has now occupied some key ridges near the southern bank of the lake and are controlling the heights and keeping > a close watch on the PLA troops’ movements. The army has also fortified its positions there, which has upset them.”   Meanwhile, China issued claiming that this “move has grossly violated China’s territorial sovereignty.” Related good read: on the mysterious Special Frontier Force that is reportedly guarding the borders. For background: We the exact areas of conflict on the Ladakh border back in June.   FACEBOOK UNDER FRIENDLY FIRE The company is getting a Parliamentary committee—which will grill its executives over allegations of political bias and fostering hate speech (See: Our big FB ). But Facebook is now facing fresh fire from an unexpected direction: the very government it is accused of aiding and abetting. The Information technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has written a to Mark Zuckerberg which complains:   > “The spate of recent anonymous, source-based reports is nothing but an internal power struggle within your company for an > ideological hegemony. No other logic can explain how facts are being spun by the selective leaks from within your company to > portray an alternate reality… This collusion of a group of Facebook employees with international media is giving a free run to > malevolent vested interests to cast aspersions on the democratic process of our great democracy.”   Facebook is also charged with unfairly targeting rightwing pages in the lead-up to the 2019 election.    Facebook’s other big battle: The company is threatening to block all news being shared on its platform in Australia. The reason: a proposed law that would require FB to compensate media publishers—however modestly—for the use of their content. has more.   BUCKLE UP FOR AN UGLY US ELECTION A group of Democratic analysts warn that Election Day (November 2) is likely to become an electoral nightmare due to the pandemic. The reason: Democrats—who are more respectful of social distancing rules—are more likely to vote via mail. Trump supporters will almost certainly vote in person. : “[I]t's highly likely that President Trump will appear to have won—potentially in a landslide—on election night, even if he ultimately loses when all the votes are counted.”   Trump’s new MO: This may explain why President Trump is insane conspiracy theories. He told Fox News that Biden “doesn’t control anything”—but is instead a stooge for “people that you’ve never heard of. People that are in the dark shadows.” He then described a plane “from a certain city this weekend, and on the plane it was almost completely loaded with thugs wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms with gear.” (Watch him ).   The endgame: discredit the outcome if/when he loses and create a constitutional crisis and—most likely—a near-riot situation.   THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC: A QUICK UPDATE * India reported nearly in August—and a total of 28,859 deaths, a 50% jump from July. We are currently adding 80K-plus cases each day— in the world. A good related read: Vivek Kaul in explains how the late onset of the pandemic in India hurt our economy.  * Chennai’s serological survey reveals of the population has been exposed to the virus in July. * reports on US athletes who developed myocarditis—an inflammation of the heart muscle. Two reasons to worry. One: it shows up even in asymptomatic cases. Two: it affects the old and young equally. * looks at the psychological toll of social distancing which is eroding our social skills: “We are subtly but inexorably losing our facility and agility in social situations—whether we are aware of it or not. The signs are everywhere: people oversharing on Zoom, overreacting or misconstruing one another’s behavior, longing for but then not really enjoying contact with others.”   AN INDIAN AT THE US OPEN Sumit Nagal defeated Bradley Klahn in four sets and became the first Indian to win a match at the US Open tennis championship in seven years. The score: 6-1, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. The last Indian to make an appearance at the tournament: Somdev Devvarman. FYI: Nagal is Team Djokovic ()   SUPREME COURT OFFERS A TELECOM GIFT OF TIME A ten-year saga finally ended in a whimper on Tuesday. For years, Airtel and Vodafone fought the government’s demand that they give it a share of all their revenue—not just those directly earned from telecommunication services. They lost the court battle, and the Supreme Court insisted that they pay up ASAP—not just the due amount but also penalties and interest. The staggering amount owed: Rs 1.6 trillion. Even the government thought this was a bit much—and would lead to an instant meltdown of the telecom industry. So now the court has given them to pay back their debt. What does this mean? Journalist James Crabtree’s sums it up best: “Indian court commutes death sentence to slow, inevitable decade of decline.”   ANOUSHKA SHANKAR REVEALS HER FATHER’S PAIN She that her legendary father, Ravi Shankar, was raped by his uncle at the tender age of seven—and the abuse continued until his teens. Shankar did not reveal the abuse to anyone except his second wife, Sukanya—and only when he was in his seventies. It was finally revealed to the public in a posthumous biography. Shankar said:    > “My mum and I did go back and forward over whether to talk about it. Ultimately, though, it felt like such an important part of > his story. I think it’s important to lift the veil on this stuff a bit more. It’s hard enough for an Indian woman to speak about > abuse and assault. An Indian man? That you never hear about.”   THE JCB LONGLIST IS OUT There are 10 contenders for the Indian literary prize—of which six are women. These include debut novelists such as Dharini Bhaskar for ‘These, Our Bodies, Possessed by Light’, Megha Majumdar for ‘A Burning’ and Annie Zaidi for ‘Prelude to a Riot.’ offers a handy reader’s guide to the novels.    In book-meets-screen news: The Game of Thrones team is ready to take on their next big literary saga: the award-winning Chinese trilogy ‘The Three-Body Problem’. It has been ordered on Netflix. The GoT alums :   > “Liu Cixin’s trilogy is the most ambitious science-fiction series we’ve read, taking readers on a journey from the 1960s until > the end of time, from life on our pale blue dot to the distant fringes of the universe.” In stranger than fiction news: This of a New York Times’ wedding announcement gone seriously wrong.

Free At Last!

Sanity Break #2

Kurt Wallander fans rejoice! Netflix will drop a prequel series ‘’ on September 3—starring the seriously hot Adam Pålsson. In this one, the world’s most famous Scandinavian detective is a police academy rookie dealing with his very first case. It may not make die-hard Henning Mankell loyalists happy, but suggest that there’s something here for everyone. Did we mention Pålsson is hot?

Sanity Break #2

Smart & Curious

A LIST OF CURIOUS FACTS One: A California company has developed a nano-diamond battery using nuclear waste. It claims that these super batteries can power a cellphone for nine years, a car battery pack for nearly a century, and a pacemaker for 28,000 years! ()   Two: There’s a tiny air leak in the US part of the International Space Station. And NASA has been struggling to find the source for weeks now—and just can’t find it. No, there’s no immediate danger worthy of a sci-fi plot, but still… ()   Three: Nearly two million people on a Facebook group spend their time pretending to be… ants! Its ethos: “In this group we are ants. We worship The Queen and do ant stuff. Welcome to the colony.” (h/t subscriber Anita Rao Kashi) ()   Four: Being a CEO for a long time can cause permanent brain damage. Nope, we’re not making this up: Studies spanning two decades at UC Berkeley found that people who have power “acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view.” Finally: an explanation for the Big Tech Hall of Shame. ()   Five: There are two basic ways to cut calories—either eat more of the lo-cal stuff (to fill yourself up) or smaller portions of the hi-cal stuff. People who are always on one diet or another tend to prefer the first option. But there’s one problem: Healthier food that doesn’t taste as good may not help you feel full—and may foster binge-eating. ()    Six: The New Guinea singing dog is an extremely rare breed, and its signature barks and yowls have been compared to the calls of a humpback whale. It was feared to be extinct—with only 200 remaining bred entirely in captivity. The good news: They’ve been spotted in the wild again. You can hear them ‘sing’ (We use those quote marks with good reason). ()  

Smart & Curious

Feel Good Place

, exhibit A: , exhibit B: . That’s it. That’s all we need to say. for the win in the neverending #GettyMuseumChallenge.  

Feel good place