Tuesday 22 September 2020

Just STFU!

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Sanity Break #1

Parul Sharma’s black-and-white photos of Delhi under lockdown are stunning, bleak and indescribably moving. Check out the others on . Laptop viewing recommended.

Sanity Break #1

Headlines that matter

THE FARM BILL UPROAR: A QUICK UPDATE The government moved to defuse the outrage the minimum support price on six key crops. But the amount—a 2.6% hike—was dismissed by leading farmer groups as inadequate. has a great explainer on why they oppose the bill. Meanwhile in Parliament: Eight Rajya Sabha MPs—including Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s Sanjay singh, Congress’ Rajeev Satav and CPM’s KK Ragesh—have been suspended. They are now outside Parliament —though it quite honestly looks more like a family picnic (see ). The Congress party is planning a nationwide protest.   THE ALLEGATION AGAINST ANURAG KASHYAP The director was accused of sexual assault by actor Payal Ghosh who says he “forced himself” on her in an interview to a Telugu channel. He plans to , as does actor Richa Chadha—who was mentioned in the same interview along with other female actors. Ghosh had said that actors like Richa, Mahie Gill and Huma Qureshi would perform sexual favours for Kashyap and he expected the same from her. Meanwhile, Kalki Koechlin offered a of her former husband Kashyap. In related Bollywood news: The Narcotics Control Bureau plans Shraddha Kapoor and Sara Ali Khan—whose names “came up” during the course of their drug-related investigation of Rhea Chakraborty. Our question: Are there no men who do drugs in Bollywood? INDIAN MILITARY BREAKS A FEW GLASS CEILINGS Sub Lieutenant Kumudini Tyagi and Sub Lieutenant Riti Singh will become the first women to stay and serve on a Navy warship—which paves the way for future frontline duty. Also: The Indian Air Force announced that the squadron which will fly the newly acquired Rafale jets will include a female pilot. has both stories.   TWITTER HAS A ‘RACE’ RECOGNITION PROBLEM If you share photos of two people on Twitter—one white and the other not-white—its algorithm consistently displays the white person’s face. This happens even if you put in multiple photos of a Black person (see ). Twitter has and promised to do better:   > “Our team did test for bias before shipping the model and did not find evidence of racial or gender bias in our testing. But > it’s clear from these examples that we’ve got more analysis to do. We’ll continue to share what we learn, what actions we take, > and will open source our analysis so others can review and replicate.”   In related tech news: Google and Apple have promised to protect your privacy by blocking apps and cookies from tracking you. But a new startup has found a way around: “context prediction software.” It tracks the sensors on your phone instead:   > “Most smartphones have internal components that record data on their movements. If you’ve ever used the compass on your phone, > it’s thanks to internal sensors like the accelerometer (which can tell the direction you’re facing) and magnetometer, which is > drawn to magnetic poles. These and other sensors also power features like ‘raise to wake,’ where your phone powers on when you > pick it up, or rotating to horizontal orientation to watch a movie.” All that super-handy data can be used to tell a third party exactly what you’re doing at any given moment. has more on this happy development.   THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC: A QUICK UPDATE * The UK is on course to add new daily cases by mid-October—if its citizens do not mend their ways. * The US Center for Disease Control first posted a new advisory that said the virus mainly spreads through the air—and therefore can remain in the air and travel greater distances than six feet. This reversed earlier advice that said the primary source of spread was close personal contact. Then—just to mess with all of us—the CDC the new guideline, saying it was just a “draft” posted by mistake.  * Related good read: has an excellent report on ‘hygiene theater’—the OTT sanitisation measures adopted both by institutions and individuals. If the disease mainly spreads through air, then there is only one true protection: a face mask (glasses are a bonus). * A new shows that Covid-19 has a significant impact on life expectancy—but only in richer regions of the world where people live to a ripe old age. * reveals that houses of worship are the riskiest places to visit during the pandemic. People are 16 times more likely to be infected. * The new hot pandemic pastime: ‘’. Yup, people literally get on a plane, fly around for hours and then land right back at home. A seven-hour ‘sightseeing’ flight offered by Qantas in Australia sold out in 10 minutes! * reports on the covidiots who wander around Marine Drive without masks—and get into fights with the police. * Last but not least: The Taj Mahal to visitors—though only 5,000 a day. And group selfies are a big no-no. Nope, no one is expecting a rush of sightseers.  * Online teaching poses an unexpected peril to female teachers—who have to deal with sexual harassment, stalking and even the odd flasher. has this important story.   A SPECIAL EMMY TREAT There’s been plenty of coverage of the Zoom-only award ceremony. ICYMI: the full list of winners is . Also: became the youngest actor to win best lead actress in a drama. Our fave picks for browsing: * Jameela Jamil . She posted the pic with this message: “No bra? No heels? NO PROBLEM.” * Most people loved the ceremony, but if you want a : ‘The 2020 Emmys Were a Meeting That Should've Been an Email.’ * magazine has an excellent roundup of the best celeb Zoom background. * Best of all: having to give back his Emmy statue to an intern in an insane looking hazmat suit. Yes, all nominees got statues delivered at their home, but only winners got to keep theirs.

Just STFU!

Sanity Break #2

Marvel fans rejoice! Disney+ just dropped the first trailer for . And it looks wonderfully weird—fusing the superhero universe with an old-fashioned B&W sitcom a la ‘Bewitched’. Better yet: We may finally get a Marvel series that isn’t just for die-hard Avengers fans. offers a detailed breakdown with a long list of easter eggs.

Sanity Break #2

Smart & Curious

One: The “wildest looking” smartphone of 2020 is brought to you by the folks known better for their refrigerators (in India, at least). Lo and behold: The ! (Also: the early reviews— and —are very good)   Two: This painting was commissioned in 1805 by the East India Company to boost its smallpox vaccine. And it features three queens: The mother of the King of Mysore Krishnaraja Wadiyar III and his two wives. The younger one holds her arm out to subtly display her vaccination. has the fascinating story behind this unusual portrait.   Three: Say hello to —it isn’t a face mask or shield, but a fully sealed helmet. And you can have one for just $199. Our fave Twitter : “The real beauty of the microclimate air helmet is that it allows businessmen to fart freely with *zero* repercussions.”   Four: This is the narrowest house in London—yup it’s that long blue bit wedged in next to the walk-in clinic. It’s only 5 ft 5 inches wide but five storeys high! Selling price: a mere . More details and surprisingly appealing photos .     

Smart & Curious

Feel Good Place

One: When you’re really feeling it … Two: When you totally … Three: When you really …   Four: When you feel like you’re losing the game of life… you can never lose.

Feel good place