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Friday October 9 2020

Remote Control

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Sanity Break #1

This is our favourite image in this of animals found in medieval paintings—as (very fancifully) imagined by painters who had never set their eyes on them! What’s this creature supposed to be? Why, a hippopotamus, of course!

Sanity Break #1

Headlines that matter

AMAZON CHALLENGES RELIANCE DEAL In August, Future Group struck a Rs 24,700-crore deal with Reliance selling some of the biggest chain stores in the country—including Big Bazaar, Foodhall etc. This was considered a big boost (explained ) to Ambani’s retail empire. The problem: Amazon had already bought a 49% stake in Future Coupons in 2019—with the right to buy a chunk of its retail arm between 3-10 years of that investment. The agreement gave Amazon the first right of refusal on Future’s retail assets—and included a non-compete clause barring their sale to a rival, specifically Reliance. Now, Amazon has sent to Future and approached an arbitration body in Singapore. THE PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE THAT MAY NEVER HAPPEN Donald Trump refused to participate in a planned virtual ‘townhall’ debate—that would keep both candidates isolated from the audience. Trump’s problem: “That’s not what debating’s all about; you sit behind a computer and do a debate, it’s ridiculous. And then they cut you off whenever they want.” But Biden isn’t willing to share a stage with a, umm, recently diagnosed Covid patient. So the second debate may never happen. () A FLURRY OF BAD INDIA DATA The World Bank predicts that our economy will contract in the coming year. A new survey found that average income of returned migrant workers by mid-August—and 35% of them had no work at all. A of Indian professionals by LinkedIn raised a bunch of red flags around WFH:    > “60% of Indian professionals felt lonely at some point while working remotely, 37% continue to feel so. More than one in three > also believe that working remotely has been slowing down their career progression (41%), making them feel more lonely (37%), and > harming their work-life balance (36%).”   Point to note: 51% of the Indian workforce is working remotely right now.   THE GREAT PANDEMIC: A QUICK UPDATE * Europe is currently daily cases than India, US or Brazil. * India said ‘no, thank you’ in Stage 3 human trials for that shady ‘Sputnik’ Russian vaccine (explained ). * Singapore has launched Covid-secure luxury cruises to nowhere—which work exactly like those flights to nowhere. You spend a lot of time onboard and come back home. explains why environmentalists are unhappy at these creative pandemic pastimes. * Closed rooms are often the location of ‘superspreader events’. But where you sit in that room has a big impact on whether you will be infected. explains. * suggests that pregnant women who become infected stay ill for a far longer period—sometimes for more than two months! * has put together a brilliant infographic with a simple message: Every disease faced by our ancestors is still with us. There is no such thing as a magic pill... or vaccine.   A FEEL-GOOD DELHI STORY An elderly couple—running a dhaba in Malviya Nagar in Delhi—were struggling to make ends meet. Then a of their woes went viral. Soon Bollywood celebs were everyone to sample their delicious wares. The :   Sweet but… also, eeks! Also: Did you do any good if you didn’t take a selfie while doing it? has more.   PRINCE WILLIAM IS GOING GREEN The royal scion has unveiled a £50 million Earthshot Prize. and the prince at least is calling it the “most prestigious global environment prize in history.” :   > “Starting in 2021, the Earthshot Prize will be awarded annually to five people, organizations or groups for solutions to the > five "earthshot" objectives: protecting and restoring nature, cleaning the air, reviving oceans, building a waste-free world or > fixing the climate. As a result, the hope is to have at least 50 solutions to problems within each of these five areas by 2030.”   DOGS DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR FACE Y’know those special moments when your pooch stares adoringly into your eyes? Guess what? It isn’t special to them at all! A new study showed human and canine participants short videos of human and dog faces, and the back of human and dog heads—and then tracked their brain activity. The dogs felt absolutely nothing when looking at a person’s face as opposed to the back of their head. In fact, they prefer looking at other dogs rather than us. But hey, they still adore our very special BO. () In related research: A claims that there are distinct personality differences between ‘dog’ and ‘cat’ people. Feline lovers score higher on openness and neuroticism—and were more likely to be women. Dog lovers are more agreeable and extroverted. Point to note: most of the respondents were white women so 🤷‍♀️.   INSTA DOESN’T LIKE OUR EXPLAINERS This is certainly not a big headline, and we’re not sure it really matters. But we thought it would be entertaining—and informative—to share the numerous times that Instagram & Facebook refused our request to promote some of our biggest stories. Here is a short and illuminating list:   : Law? What Law?: A series of outrageous events in Hathras (October 5). This was our recent explainer on the phone tapping, evidence of rape etc.  Reason for rejection: “It mentions politicians, topics that could influence the outcome of an election, or existing or proposed legislation.”    : The Great Indian Inquisition: WTF is happening with Deepika Padukone? (September 25) This was our explainer on the targeting of Bollywood celebrities by the Narcotics Control Board. No, we did not use any profanity—despite great provocation. Reason for rejection: “Because it uses profanity, implied profanity, or insulting language (ex: “shit”, “ass”, or “f@$# yeah!”).”    : A Lotus Blooms in America: Kamala Harris gears up to make history (August 12). Our explainer on Harris when she was picked by Joe Biden as his running mate. Reason: “It mentions politicians, topics that could influence the outcome of an election, or existing or proposed legislation.”     : Hey Ram: A groundbreaking ceremony in Ayodhya (August 6).  Reason: “It mentions politicians, topics that could influence the outcome of an election, or existing or proposed legislation.” For this one, approval required a PAN card number for an ID verification process and a home visit 😱.   Where is when you need her:(

Remote Control

Sanity Break #2

The likes of Sarah Silverman, Chris Rock and Mark Ruffalo got butt-naked—yes, literally—to raise awareness about ‘naked’ ballots. What are those? Watch the

Sanity Break #2

Weekend advisory

SO YOU WANT TO LEARN ABOUT INDIAN ART… There are plenty of fab guides to Western art, but anyone who is curious about Indian art is often left at sea. Now, there’s Art History Plus—both on and —that offers an unpretentious introduction to our cultural heritage. Made by Vaibhav Raj Shah, each episode of ‘Art Explained’ takes one painting and teaches an untutored eye how to really ‘look’ at it. Below is one on ‘’ by Bhupen Khakhar. PS: This is a lovely way to introduce teenagers to Indian art.   SO YOU WANT TO LEARN ABOUT POP MUSIC… ‘’—a wildly popular podcast hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway—is now a Netflix docu-series. Each of the four episodes features a famous musician—Alicia Keys, Lin-Manuel Miranda, R.E.M. and Ty Dolla $ign—explain how they created one of their songs. Warning: this is the kind of thing you’ll enjoy only if you love that song or artist. So you may want to check out the far wider selection offered by .   EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT... : the crime thriller—starring Ranvir Shorey, Akshay Oberoi, Mrinmayee Godbole—which premiered on MX this week, and to great praise. likes the “richly etched characters, pitch-perfect performances, slick production values and gorgeous cinematography”—but complains about holes in the plot. calls it “consistently watchable” for its “classy craft.” In other words, a solid weekend binge watch.   ‘’:—the series sequel to ‘The Haunting of Hill House’. warns that this “Gothic Romance-influenced ghost story”—based on Henry James’ ‘The Turn of The Screw’—will “wring your chest in the same achingly painful, yet intoxicating way.”   ‘’: the latest offering from ‘Sex and The City’ creator Darren Star—which has quickly become everyone’s favourite hate-watch. OTOH, this review reminds us of the "seductive absurdity" of 'mindless' drama—especially given the state of the world.   A LIST OF GOOD WEEKEND READS * Beware the narcissist—but also his gaslighting tribe of ‘flying monkeys’. explains. * Ann Patchett in the has a lovely essay on her three fathers. * has an overdue profile on the woman who gave $60 billion away—Jeff Bezos’ ex wife MacKenzie Scott. * looks at Slack’s identity crisis—as it tries to become a social networking platform for chill work bros. * has a fun read on Robert Pattinson and his kitchen. * has a must-read report on Indian migrants stranded in ‘hell on earth’—i.e. Saudi Arabia. * profiles Durga Bhabhi—the audacious woman who took on the British, and once helped Bhagat Singh escape. * busts the myth of Amazon as a convenient way to shop—and exposes the shopping nightmare it has become.

Weekend Advisory

Feel Good Place

A FRIDAY LIST OF ‘DANCE DANCE’ THINGS : To get you in the mood…   : To teach you some groovy moves.   : To ensure that you pick the exact right dance partner...   : Or the right posse of pals...   : This one is just because...  

Feel good place

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