SANITY BREAK These are two of Jonathan Burton’s haunting illustrations for George Orwell’s ‘1984’. The rest are on . Warning: his other work for ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, ‘Game of Thrones’ etc. is no less gorgeous. So try and click through when you have time to browse. And, yes, these look just as good on your phone:) (h/t )
HEADLINES THAT MATTER FIRST, THE INDIA NUMBERS Total number of cases: 490,401. Total number of deaths: 15,301. Total number of recoveries: 285,636. THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC: LEARNING FROM THE US The United States is experiencing a massive surge in cases—2,452,567 right now. The spike offers new clues about the pandemic, and the behaviour of the virus. Parties, not protests: Despite drawing massive crowds, the new clusters are not associated to Black Lives Matters protests. The reason: "Almost everyone at the rally was wearing a mask, and it's really a testament to how effective masks are in preventing the spread of this disease," The real culprits are large social gatherings: "We're finding that the social events and gatherings, these parties where people aren't wearing masks, are our primary source of infection." Point to note: a number of guests at these events then took the virus to their workplace—making offices a significant secondary source of spread. () The lag between cases and deaths: While the number of cases in the US is surging, the death tally is only 125,796—staying fairly stable. But experts say this is not reason to celebrate… as yet. The reason: deaths lag considerably from infections—and the US should expect a similar spike in fatalities in July. () Young people are not immune: Three months into the pandemic, 70% of the cases are below the age of 60. And a lot of them got it from being out and about, unlike their older peers. The revised thinking about the relationship between infection and age: younger people are as likely to become infected—but they mostly develop mild or moderate symptoms. The potential upside: the death rate may not spike in July—until/unless young folks spread it to older people. () Lessons not to learn from the US: Raging against the virus by holding a first-of-its-kind . INDIA VS CHINA: DRAWING A LINE New Delhi speaks up: The government has finally taken a strong stance in its negotiations with Beijing—insisting on a restoration of the status quo of the border. It also warned that continuation of tensions in Ladakh will damage ties between the two nations. It also acknowledged—for the first time—that China has been building “a large contingent of troops and armaments” in violation of previous treaties. See the of satellite images that show continuing buildup since the June 15 confrontation. () The boycott conundrum: Equipment and raw material from China are being held up for “added scrutiny” at Indian Customs. In response, Chinese and Hong Kong officials have done the same with Indian goods. Leading lobbyists warn that the move will severely hit supply chains—just when factories are limping back from a lockdown. And it may damage efforts to woo foreign investors away from China. Also read: on why it isn’t easy to boycott China. () Chinese apps are falling: in their rankings due to rising anger at Beijing. TikTok downloads fell 5% in May, and a further 38% in June. Other apps like PubG, Helo etc witnessed a similar slide. But industry experts say the damage is temporary: “Social media addiction is like cocaine. You may give it up in anger but then the itch comes back.” India-Tik Tok bhai bhai! () ‘Country of Origin’ labelling: Big ecommerce platforms like Amazon and Flipkart have display the ‘country of origin’ on all their products—but they need to get it done. Translation: we’re going to drag our feet until all this goes away. Ambani sees an opportunity: The Reliance chairman is making hay of the recent crisis. His to anti-China fame: Jio is the only network in the world that doesn't use a single piece of Chinese equipment. And it earned him the endorsement of US State Secretary Mike Pompeo who as one of the ‘Clean Telcos’—that “are rejecting doing business with tools of the CCP surveillance state, like Huawei.” LIVERPOOL HAS ITS MOMENT The Reds are finally the Premier League champions—their first league title since 1990. As reminds us: “Madonna was No 1 in the UK singles chart at the time with Vogue.” With seven games still remaining, it is the earliest any side has ever won the Premier League title. And they won because of a loss: Man City’s 2-1 loss at Chelsea. Here’s of Liverpool players celebrating in front of a TV. celebrate with fireworks and zero social distancing (yes, we be party poopers like that!). And if you are a Liverpool fan, here’s an appropriately . THE BLM EFFECT: POLITICAL CORRECTNESS & GREED * Where there is a social crisis, there is a business opportunity. A number of companies have been the slogans “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” to sell stuff. The examples include a board game, clothing and even a wine: a #BlackLivesMatter Moscato. Good news: many such applications have been rejected or withdrawn. * Shaadi.com has that asked users to disclose their skin colour—which allowed good Indian boys to look for suitably fair-skinned brides, no doubt. * First, HBO pulled ‘Gone With the Wind’ from its streaming platform. Now, it has brought , but it has company: two accompanying videos that explain its racist historical context. One of them is an hour-long discussion panel—because that will really catch a clueless viewer’s attention 🤦♀️ . A QUICK ROUND UP OF COVID GYAAN * A very large confirms that most children do not develop a severe form of the disease. Less than 1% who are infected will go on to die of it. * A says that we can achieve herd immunity when 43% of the population becomes infected. The previous estimate: 60%. What is herd immunity: When enough people in a community become infected, they all develop immunity. They in turn form a barrier that prevents the spread of the disease. * Indian healthcare workers who are taking Hydroxychloroquine as protection against infection are developing lots of : itchy rashes, bumps and swelling in various parts of their body. * Placing Covid-19 patients helps alleviate respiratory distress—and improves their chances of recovery. RAHUL HAS A TELEGRAM CHANNEL Yes, the former heir to the Gandhi throne is becoming a content-producer. His channel on the messaging app will likely feature more clips and conversations—a la his interviews of Raghuram Rajan and Rajiv Bajaj. And there’s lots more of the same in the works: “There are more plans to help him capture the social media space. Podcasts, YouTube channel interactions, ‘Talk to Rahul’, ‘Connect with Rahul’ are just some of the few ideas which are being mulled.”
SANITY BREAK Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu opera house hosted its first performance in months to mark the end of the lockdown in Spain. The audience: 2,292 plants. The result is oddly beautiful and very moving. The organisers said that they wanted to "offer us a different perspective for our return to activity, a perspective that brings us closer to something as essential as our relationship with nature." has a lovely photo of the performance if Western classical music isn’t your thing.
SMART & CURIOUS LIST OF GOOD READS * Two good reads on surveillance and technology. reports on the quiet ways in which Zoom is cooperating with China’s crackdown on dissent. covers the array of monitoring software that allows employers to keep close tabs on their WFH employees. * got exclusive access to Mumbai’s KEM hospital. This is what the frontline looks like. Ok, this is a must-watch rather than a must-read. * has a great read on how Sandra Oh layers her Korean ethnicity on to her character in ‘Killing Eve’. * Two good Indian media reads: digs into the financing and ownership of the rightwing site OpIndia. reports on the ugly and insensitive layoffs over at The Hindu. * Two good literary reads: Four critics and editors talk to about how the pandemic has made close reading a difficult task. Eight translators speak to about their favourite work and what work they’d love to see in translation. * For sci-fi dystopia fans, reports on a new algorithm that claims to use facial recognition to predict criminality. * This fascinating video explores how psychopaths think and behave. No, they’re not all killers or serial rapists.
LIFE ADVISORY THE THANK EFFING GOD IT’S FRIDAY EDITION So you wanna kick it with a perfect G&T... This guide from has way more information on making a drink than the average tippler needs. But if you want to perfect your Gin & Tonic skills, this is a great place to start. So you wanna just chill to that song… But you just can’t remember its damn name. offers a neat list of musical detective tools beyond Shazam—and at least one of them doesn’t require you to remember the lyrics either. So you need something to binge-watch… We recommend ‘Upload’ on Amazon Prime—from the same guy who brought us ‘The Office’. And while this series is also a ‘comedy’, think of it as a far darker version of ‘The Good Place’. Or as describes it: “It’s best as a show that asks what would happen if Jeff Bezos could add 'heaven' to the services offered by Amazon Prime.” We loved it. As might you. Trailer below:
THE FEEL GOOD PLACE is likely one of the most recognizable pieces of music—having been used and abused by many a movie soundtrack. But no one has yet subjected it to this kind of humiliation… lol! (h/t ) a pie chart. It looked like this… for everyone who’s had to beg a VC for money. : maybe even the year, is this one by Soon-Tzu Speechley: > “Writing about US food the way the NYT covers Asian fruit: In a nation torn by racial conflict, one unlikely food unites. To > those accustomed to chopsticks, the greasy parcel known as a 'burger', a sort of split bao, is crude and messy. Yet it > encapsulates a nation's violent past.”
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