Election Badge
Monday December 7 2020

Ship ‘Em Out!

Read More

Sanity Break #1

Back in 1983, Sally Ride was getting ready to make history as the first American female astronaut in space. NASA did it’s best to ensure she was with all the necessities: “Tampons were packed with their strings connecting them, like a strip of sausages, so they wouldn’t float away. Engineers asked Ride, ‘Is 100 the right number?’ She would be in space for a week. ‘That would not be the right number,’ she told them.” Now, sit back and enjoy Marcia Belsky’s  inspired by this priceless bit of history. (h/t founding member Inderpreet Uppal)

Sanity Break #1

Headlines that matter

THE FARMERS PROTEST: A QUICK UPDATE * Almost all the opposition parties have thrown their support behind the farmers. Eleven parties including Congress have issued a joint statement, while Shiv Sena, Trinamool and others separately expressed solidarity. * The move gives greater force to the farmers’ call for a Bharat Bandh on Tuesday—which was announced after the Saturday talks to resolve differences. has the most details on the bandh. * Government sources meanwhile told the that there is “no question of repealing” the three farm laws. (explained )—and that they too are prepared for a long standoff (We explained the divide between the government and the farmers and ) * The next round of talks is set for December 9. * In other news, Diljit Dosanjh Rs 1 crore for warm clothes for the farmers. * Farmer leaders are also being extra cautious about potential smear campaigns.  They have any singing, dancing or drinking at the protest sites: “There is no place for entertainment here.” And speeches and speakers at protest sites are being . * Good related read: offers a textbook example from Bihar that shows how governments fail to pay the minimum support price—forcing them to sell at a lower price to private buyers.   THE GREAT PANDEMIC: A QUICK UPDATE * Pfizer India has for emergency use authorization. If approved, it will only be available via the government—and will not be sold directly to private users. * Right behind Pfizer: Serum Institute of India—which has the nod for emergency use. Point to note: As government policy, only vaccines that have been tested in India are eligible for approval. Pfizer has never held any human trials in India. * Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij created a bit of a brouhaha when he claimed that he became infected after being administered the Bharat Biotech vaccine. Union Health Ministry then clarified that Vij has received only one of the two required doses. But the bigger question: As per established guidelines, neither the doctor nor the participant is supposed to know whether they received the placebo or the vaccine. So wtf is going on? has more.  * An MIT study warned that the three leading vaccine candidates—Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca—may not be as effective in protecting Blacks and Asians. The reason: “they do not use a sufficiently diverse set of viral particles” to account for differences in genetic makeup. has more on the study. * A new oral antiviral drug could suppress the ability of an infected person to transmit it to others within 24 hours. has more on this breakthrough. * An infectious disease expert in the US that erectile dysfunction may be one of the long-term effects of Covid. * A warns that an additional 207 million people may be pushed into extreme poverty by 2030 due to the pandemic. * A useful read:   has a lively (and very readable) timeline of what happens when you are exposed to someone with Covid. * On the lighter side: This couple in Rajasthan tied the knot when the bride tested positive on their wedding day ( below).   In other worrying news: Atleast 264 people were in Andhra Pradesh due to a mysterious illness. The include fainting spells, dizziness, headache and vomiting: "The people who fell sick, especially the children, suddenly started vomiting after complaining of burning eyes. Some of them fainted or suffered bouts of seizures.”  All of them tested negative for Covid—and thankfully, no one has died. has more on this still-to-be-solved puzzle.   WALMART PLANS FLIPKART IPO The global giant is planning to sell a 25% stake to raise $10 billion. If successful, it will be the largest IPO for an India-based company on an overseas exchange. Point to note: While Flipkart is based in Bangalore, the company is incorporated in Singapore. Taking the Singapore company public in the US will help Walmart sidestep the government’s restrictions on Indian companies that want to be listed on foreign stock exchanges. has a lot more detail.   HBO MAX PANICS THEATRE CHAINS Warner Bros that all its movies in 2021 will be simultaneously released on its streaming platform HBO Max—at no additional cost to its subscribers. This will include highly anticipated blockbusters like the next installment of ‘The Conjuring’, ‘Dune’, and ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’.  Point to note: This is a temporary measure for the coming year.     Movie theatre owners worry this is the last straw that will :   > “It's the beginning of the end of movie theatres, as we know it in the motion picture value chain. Theatres are being moved from > the centre to some niche corner. They will exist, but not be the centre anymore, OTT will acquire that place."   Point to note: All this drama may be a little overblown, at least in India. HBO Max is not available here. The new Wonder Woman movie—scheduled to release globally on December 25—will get a traditional theatre premiere on December 24. The recently released Tenet crossed the on day one—and is being described as the “first green shoot for the ailing exhibition sector.” In more upbeat news: The Indian film ‘Meel Patthar’ (Milestone) has won best movie at the Singapore film festival. Directed by Ivan Ayr, revolves around a truck driver coping with the loss of wife. Lead actor Suvinder Vicky also scored the Silver Screen award for best performer. ()   A MUMBAI MIRROR TRAGEDY The Times group is shutting down publication of the city’s most beloved daily—and turning it into a weekly publication. According to the :   > “With the long-held hope of a stimulus not materialising and the Indian economy now officially in recession, it is with a heavy > heart that the group has decided to cease publication of Mirror in Pune and relaunch Mumbai Mirror as a weekly. They will, > however, continue to have a strong digital presence,”   : Bangalore Mirror. The fate of the Ahmedabad Mirror remains unknown.  In other journalism-related news: Leading columnist Salil Tripathi’s Twitter account was inexplicably suspended soon after he shared a poem on the demolition of Babri Masjid. Leading Twitter luminaries—including Salman Rushdie—expressed their outrage. has more. Watch Tripathi recite the poem over at .   A USEFUL STUDY ON ALCOHOL New research has identified the ages at which alcohol is most dangerous to your brain. The most harmful is, of course, when you are a foetus. Next in line, the teenage years, specifically between 15 and 19—when binge drinking leads to “decreased brain volume, nerve cell connectivity, and small declines in cognitive function.” Also dangerous: heavy drinking when you are 65-plus years old as it increases the odds of dementia. ()   GOVERNMENT VS IIMS Three years after granting full autonomy to 20 leading biz schools, the Ministry of Education is planning to rein them back in. l will allow the Government to initiate an inquiry against the Board of Governors (BoG) of an institute if it breaks the law that governs its operation. Specifically, the very same 2017 IIM Act that gave sweeping powers to these institutions.  What this is about: The IIMs’ plan to offer a one-year MBA degree—which the government sees as a violation of its education guidelines. However, senior IIM board members say that the one-year program is to reclaim control.   SAY HELLO TO OUR NEW PARLIAMENT  Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla of the new building which will be paperless, earthquake resistant, “showcase the cultural diversity of the country.” It will be ready to use by 2022. The existing Parliament will be preserved for posterity. One slight problem: The new design doesn’t have a lot of fans. :   :   Funniest : “When you want to copy the White House, yet pay homage to the great Mughals at the same time, and finally decide to go with a Club Mahindra look and feel.” Haw.   A SILVER LINING ALERT Last week, the biggest brands were called out for selling honey adulterated with sugar syrup. A number of prominent forest service officials leveraged the outrage to spotlight organic honey harvested and sold by cooperatives in the Sunderbans. Demand for Bon Phool honey is now surging which is sweet relief for honey-gatherers who have been ravaged by the pandemic, and then Cyclone Amphan. has a detailed story.

Ship ‘Em Out!

Sanity Break #2

This is for a French 3D printer. But that description barely does justice to its brilliance. Enjoy! (Yes, this too is courtesy founding member Kruthika Ravi Kumar who emailed us a bunch of fabulous things last week!)

Sanity Break #2

Smart & Curious

A LIST OF GOOD READS Two culinary reads: Krish Ashok in has a very useful science-driven guide to cooking various types of dals. Raul Dias in offers a fascinating—if slightly gory—guide to the use of animal blood as an ingredient in cuisines around the world (including India).   Two sports reads: Indians excel in chess championships at the global level. Ajith Kumar in asks: So why haven’t we produced another Viswaanathan Anand yet?  profiles Siphiwe Baleka—a Yale-educated 50-year old truck driver who is aiming to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, and just might make it.   Movie reads: * Film critic Michael Musto in offers a wry look at the perils of befriending celebrities. * What makes a movie so bad it’s good? looks for answers to this puzzle. * Is ‘Fabulous Lives of Bollywood Wives’ must-watch trash or substandard garbage? offers two articulate, concise and opposing views (which will save time otherwise spent on meandering reviews).   On words and writing:  * Mukul Kesavan in penned a delightful column on reading James Joyce’s unreadable ‘Ulysses’—with the help of technology. * looks at workplace buzzwords in 2020—from zumping to toxic productivity. * Michael Maar In writes on why adjectives matters—contrary to what Hemingway devotees may claim. * reports on how Gen Z is reclaiming the word ‘bimbo’.   Life stories: * has a must-read profile (plus photos) of photographer Hannah Kozak. Her mother left her father for a man who would one day beat her so badly that she now suffers from damage. This is a moving story about violence, reconciliation and, above all, love (between a parent and a child). * Kea Krause in offers a brief but funny review of a pregnancy tracking app. * has a must-read on the last days Tony Hsieh—the greatly respected founder of Zappos. It is not the usual story about great wealth or achievement, but of loneliness, mental health and addiction.

Smart & Curious

Feel Good Place

One: The right way to .   Two: The right way to get your …   Three: Ek choti si .   Four: A pandemic-appropriate Christmas carol. The rest of it is over .  

Feel good place

archivetitle dog ic

That’s News To Me

July 19 2024

Why news is like oysters, and how that affects the subscription business of digital media.

Read More
Bad News Rising

July 18 2024

The digital news business is slowly falling apart worldwide—because it simply doesn’t make money.

Read More
Kota Falls

July 17 2024

India’s coaching mecca—Kota—is haemorrhaging students even as edtech flails. Wtf and why?

Read More
Disco Queen

July 16 2024

Asha Puthli defined disco in the '70s to little credit. Forty years later, she returns to tour.

Read More
loader