Thursday 10 September 2020

Pause and Desist

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Sanity Break #1

Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum have finally been reunited in the latest Jurassic Park flick. They decided to mark the occasion with a —and it’s fricking awesome!

Sanity Break #1

Headlines that matter

CHINA BULKS UP ON THE BORDER Indian military sources are reporting a massive buildup on the north bank of Lake Pangong. And this has been confirmed by Chinese media reports which claim that Beijing is “mobilising forces, including bombers, air defence troops, artillery, armoured vehicles, paratroopers, special forces and infantry units from different parts of the country to the bordering plateau region.” has more on the buildup.   Meanwhile, a “top government official” told Times of India: The dispute is being directed from the very top of the political-military hierarchy in China, not by the exuberance of local PLA commanders. It can take any trajectory. But if China wants to start a war, it will also have to pay a heavy price.” has more on India’s counter-measures.   Also fighting with China: Australia, which has for two visiting scholars. Beijing Australian officials of raiding the homes of a number of Chinese journalists back in June. And that’s after two Australian journalists finally flew home after a five-day diplomatic standoff. They were being questioned by Chinese police over claims that they had endangered national security. has more on how Beijing is now harassing foreign correspondents to show its displeasure.    Also canceled: the of over 1,000 Chinese students and researchers. The stated reason: they have links with the Chinese military. OTOH, Tiktok may survive: Its parent company ByteDance is back to huddling with the US government to find a way to sell only a part of the US operations. The reason: The Chinese government’s new rules may prohibit the sale of TikTok’s AI algorithm—without which there will be no buyers for the company. So ByteDance is trying to figure out a solution that includes a minority US tech partner who will ensure that TikTok’s data is secure—and safely out of Beijing’s reach. ()   TRUMP LIED ABOUT THE VIRUS  A new book by Bob Woodward—perfectly timed for the upcoming presidential election—shows that the President knew that the virus was bad news—and deliberately lied to the public about it. How does Woodward know this? Why, Trump personally told him of course! In February he said to Woodward:   > “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed… And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also > more deadly than even your strenuous flus… This is deadly stuff.”   And in March—after a month of dismissing the virus as a form of flu—he admitted to Woodward: “I wanted to always play it down… I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.” has more on the book. In related US news: According to , a mega-motorcycle rally held in South Dakota may have resulted in 250,000 cases. The 10-day rally attracted more than 400,000 people with "minimal mask-wearing and social distancing by attendees."   THE GREAT PANDEMIC: AN INDIA UPDATE  * Delhi recorded the number of daily cases (4,000)—shattering the record it set back in June. This is after weeks of witnessing a steady drop in cases. Despite worries of a second wave, the government has ruled out a second lockdown.  * According to a , great many Indians are simply refusing to get tested: “Nearly 50% of Indians now know at least one person who has experienced Covid-19 symptoms but has chosen not to get tested.” * In Punjab, testing has stalled due to wild rumours. A popular theory claims that doctors are harvesting people's organs under the guise of diagnosing and treating the virus. has the story. * Indians are on Covid-safety products for pets—like alcohol-free sanitizers, imported strong-strapped masks, and immunity-boosting pills. Much of which is harmful for animals. * Last not least: a religious procession in Madhya Pradesh organised by a state cabinet minister. Shabaash! KANGANA VS SHIV SENA Local municipal authorities in Mumbai bulldozed parts of the actor’s bungalow—claiming that they were constructed without proper permission (watch it and ). The High Court has since a stay. And Ranaut has offered up badly written lines of Bollywood dialogue (watch that clip ):    > “Uddhav Thackeray tujhe kya lagta hai? (what do you think?) My home was demolished today, your arrogance will crumble tomorrow. > Thus is the wheel of time, it keeps changing.”   MORE MOOLAH FOR MUKESH-BHAI Ambani-ji’s streak of raising insane amounts of money continues unabated. First, he for his digital empire—Jio Platforms—from the likes of Facebook and Google. Now he’s doing the same for his retail arm. The private equity fund Silver Lake will shell out $1.02 billion for 1.75% stake in Reliance Retail—this after it plowed in $1.35 billion in Jio Platforms earlier this year. Another global investment fund, KKR & Co, is reportedly planning to follow suit with $1 billion. ()   SAY HELLO TO ‘COVAI TRANS KITCHEN’ A new restaurant in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu is fully operated by transgender staff. But it wasn’t easy being the first of its kind:   > “Our restaurant is the first in the state that is run entirely run by the Transgender community members. People were hesitant to > provide us a space for rent, some of them told they are not sure how we are going to run a restaurant all by ourselves as it has > not been done before.”   The restaurant, however, is doing well. And there are already plans to open a second one. ()   THE SEAL WHO DIDN’T FIT IN This exceptionally rare (part-albino) seal pup—spotted in the Sea of Okhotsk in Russia—has ginger fur, blue eyes and pink flippers. And it is being carefully monitored by biologists. The reason: they are worried it may be rejected by the rookery—and there are some worrying signs: “Other seals don't pay too much attention to it in a somewhat worrying manner, so something is not quite right with it.” But even if he were cast out, biologists are ready to swoop in and fly him out to a dolphinarium—where he will be free to be his very unique self. ()  

Pause and Desist

Sanity Break #2

The winners of this year’s Nature inFocus Photography Awards are breathtakingly beautiful. And we love that this Asia-focused award showcases the breadth of talent right here at home. The above is a family of wild elephants under an Orion-lit sky at Manas National Park, Assam. Definitely check out the rest on the . The fabulous size and quality of the images make them a true treat. Smartphone viewing is strictly discouraged.

Sanity Break #2

Smart & Curious

A LIST OF CURIOUS FACTS One: Researchers in Goa have discovered a of blind ants that live entirely underground. It may not look like much but it is a very big deal.   Two: Whales produce a waxy substance to protect their intestines from beaks of squids —which they, er, excrete. This eventually turns into a smelly rock-like mass that is worth thousands of dollars—and once was used to 😱 flavour ice cream. But it has long been replaced by less horrifying things like vanilla. A historian tried to recreate . The result: “The flavor itself began floral, and finished armpit, with a taste that even now still lingers my tongue.”   Three: The hottest hair hue right now is called ‘’: “the dark root color lends itself to the chocolate reference, while the swirls of chai are the pale-brown highlights placed around the hairline (but off the root).”   Four: German pro surfer Sebastian Steudtner over 115 feet tall at Nazare, Portugal. Five: This astonishing piece was written by a robot… <shared while looking into early retirement options> (h/t Anita Rao Kashi)

Smart & Curious

Feel Good Place

HAPPINESS IS… : A comfy pair of shorts… or two : A walk on the beach. : toddler plus dog plus puddles.  : bionic legs  

Feel good place

I recommend

I RECOMMEND EDITOR’S NOTE We greatly admire Leeza Mangaldas whose life’s work is dedicated to destroying the stigma and taboos around sex in our deeply patriarchal society. On and , she constantly pushes the boundaries to open up critical conversations around sexuality, gender and the body. We are delighted to showcase her sex-positive work and recommendations.   Women’s sexuality and pleasure is one of my favorite topics to think and learn about. And it is a subject that the world urgently needs to speak of openly and without shame. I hope my recommendations will encourage you to do the same.   Rabbit vibrators: Pop culture and the media will have you believe that female pleasure is “mysterious”, and “complicated.” That women’s orgasms are “difficult.” and “take too long.” And up until my mid-twenties, I believed that. Then I bought myself a “rabbit” style dual action vibrator. A rabbit vibrator can provide simultaneous clitoral and vaginal stimulation. Realizing that I could in fact have orgasm after orgasm in a matter of minutes with this toy every damn time—that my pleasure wasn’t actually such a mystery all—on the contrary, that it could be incredibly consistent and predictable—was hands down my most radical sexual discovery.    has a useful list of eleven best rabbit vibrators. The model I have is called the Greedy Girl manufactured by a company called . Also: Check out this .   Online marketplaces that retail sex toys from reputable international brands in India include:, and However I will say that pleasure products are much more affordable in other countries such as in Europe or the US, so if you have a friend or relative coming to India from overseas at some point you should tell them to scrap the chocolates and bring you one of these instead!   12 by Sarah Sloan: This is a podcast series by the wonderfully honest and articulate Sarah Sloan. Finding herself firmly ensconced in the everyday tedium of work, marriage, and kids—in her mid-forties, with no time for sex—she realizes that “reconnecting with her erotic self is a matter of urgency.” Thus begins the sexual mission that is the premise of this podcast: to earnestly navigate each of the twelve different ways women can apparently orgasm—clitoral, vaginal, cervical, blended, anal, U-spot, A - Spot, nipple, mind etc. She makes focused and whole hearted attempts at achieving an orgasm via each method. (Fortunately her partner is also up for the ride). The result is a delightful series bursting with information, insights, and anecdotes that will make you laugh, cry, raise your eyebrow, nod in agreement, and likely also blow your mind. .   Also this: For anyone looking to improve their understanding of how to make a woman orgasm, check out . This incredible resource offers the most impressive information on the science of female pleasure that I have ever come across, with truly life-altering tutorials. You can thank me later.   Three excellent writers: Every single sentence that Richa Kaul Padte, Priya Alika Elias, and Rega Jha have ever written is gold. They write about what it means to be human, what it means to be a woman, what it means to love, what it means to be sexual, and the ways that technology and the internet shape and are shaped by our sense of self—particularly from the perspectives of Indian millennial women.   Kaul Padte (CyberSexy) and Alika Elias (Besharam) have written brilliant books. Jha hasn’t written hers yet but will no doubt soon amaze all of us. For now, you can check out her excellent Times of India . I highly recommend devouring every piece each of these powerhouses has ever written. So be sure to follow them so you don’t miss a single word: ;;. A LIST OF CURIOUS FACTS One: Researchers in Goa have discovered a of blind ants that live entirely underground. It may not look like much but it is a very big deal.   Two: Whales produce a waxy substance to protect their intestines from beaks of squids —which they, er, excrete. This eventually turns into a smelly rock-like mass that is worth thousands of dollars—and once was used to 😱 flavour ice cream. But it has long been replaced by less horrifying things like vanilla. A historian tried to recreate . The result: “The flavor itself began floral, and finished armpit, with a taste that even now still lingers my tongue.”   Three: The hottest hair hue right now is called ‘’: “the dark root color lends itself to the chocolate reference, while the swirls of chai are the pale-brown highlights placed around the hairline (but off the root).”   Four: German pro surfer Sebastian Steudtner over 115 feet tall at Nazare, Portugal. Five: This astonishing piece was written by a robot… <shared while looking into early retirement options> (h/t Anita Rao Kashi) HAPPINESS IS… : A comfy pair of shorts… or two : A walk on the beach. : toddler plus dog plus puddles.  : bionic legs  

I recommend