Friday November 20 2020

Three is a Crowd

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Sanity Break #1

Extending the Diwali feels: Police officers getting their festive groove on at the Wellington Police Academy in New Zealand. We ❤️❤️❤️.

Sanity Break #1

Headlines that matter

OUR DIWALI SALE IS GOING, GOING… Last call is at midnight on Sunday. So you have until then to take the following off your to-do list: * Upgrade from a monthly to a yearly subscription at a massive 50% discount. Just go to your account page and hit upgrade! * Use your referral link to pass on the 40% discount to friends and fam—or with folks who follow you on social media, or on your WhatsApp groups. * Write to us at if you want to add another 12 months to your current annual subscription at this discounted rate. * Do the exact same if you want to reserve a Christmas gift at this price in advance before the sale runs out. * Not a subscriber? Sign up for our one-month free trial! Also: Thank you all for making this sale a huge success. It’s been a truly festive Diwali for us:)   THE GREAT PANDEMIC: A QUICK UPDATE * A new study in Pune shows that areas with the highest number of previous infections have the fewest number of new cases. What it means: They may be attaining some level of ‘herd immunity’. explains. * The from late-stage trials shows that the Oxford vaccine triggered a strong immune response in folks in their 60s and 70s—i.e. those most vulnerable to infection. And that’s very good news for India since the vaccine is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India—which has also announced the of the vaccine: Rs 500-600 per dose for individual consumers. The government will pay half that price. * South Australia has gone into one of the most stringent lockdowns in the world after 23 news cases were detected. Local they have detected a “particularly sneaky” strain that shows few symptoms but spreads far more rapidly. Many the claim is “rubbish.” * BBC documentary shocker: At the start of the pandemic, the UK’s top scientific advisors were for data—and didn’t have a single virus expert among them. * Nearly 1 million people in China Sinopharm’s vaccine—which is authorised for emergency use even though there is no trial data that confirms its effectiveness.   In related news: China has a mysterious new travel policy. Until now, international arrivals had to take a Covid test at the airport and do a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Now, there’s an : a negative IgM antibody test result:   > “These tests detect disease-fighting molecules called antibodies, in particular one called immunoglobulin M, or IgM, which is > usually the first type of antibody roused against infectious invaders. IgM’s presence is ephemeral; eventually, two other types > of antibodies that are much longer-lived, called IgG and IgA, take over.”   The problem: our bodies can take up to two weeks to produce these antibodies—and we may be infected and infectious way before then. Some US experts think this is useless “security theater.” Others argue that maybe China knows something about the virus the rest of us don’t. has that theory.   AND THE BOOKER GOES TO… Scottish-American Douglas Stuart who won the top honour for his debut novel ‘Shuggie Bain’—“a story based on his own life that follows a boy growing up in poverty in 1980s Glasgow with a mother who is battling addiction.” has more. Indians are sad because he Avni Doshi whose ‘Burnt Sugar’ was on the shortlist.   FINALLY, SOME RELIEF FOR MANUAL SCAVENGERS For years, newspapers have been filled with horror stories of the working conditions of manual scavengers—who often pay with their life for the ‘honour’ of cleaning our sewers. The government is finally mandating the use of machines to clean sewers and septic tanks—and setting up a 24X7 hotline to report violations. The aim: to eliminate the use of human labour by April, 2021. ()   VATICAN IS MAD AT INSTAGRAM Some eagle-eyed users recently noticed that the Pope’s official account ‘liked’ a particularly of a Brazilian model. The screenshots went viral, and the post was quickly ‘unliked’. But now the Vatican is demanding answers, insisting that “we can exclude that the ‘like’ came from the Holy See.” To be fair: Pope Francis is no Donald Trump and rarely manages his own social media accounts. Our guess: a horny employee who forgot to switch from the official handle to their personal account. ()   BUZZFEED IS BUYING HUFFINGTON POST The company is presently owned by Verizon Media and will now be owned by Buzzfeed—whose Chief Executive Officer Jonah Peretti was also co-founder of Huffington Post back when it started. Point to note: This raises questions about the future of Huffington Post India. New rules cap foreign investment in Indian digital media at 26%—and require that the CEO be an Indian citizen (explained ). But it isn’t clear whether this will apply to HuffPo’s India operations. has more on the US deal.   WONDER WOMAN HEADS TO HBO MAX In an astonishing decision, the next, highly anticipated installment of the superhero franchise will hit theatres on December 16—and then stream on HBO Max. Why this is surprising: “Wonder Woman 1984” was expected to be one of the biggest films of 2020 and had the potential to surpass $1 billion in ticket sales. So streaming it on a platform for no extra cost is kinda a big deal. Many expected that the movie—which cost $200 million to make—would be pushed to 2021 like other big releases. Reminder: We don’t know when we will get to see the movie, as we do not have HBO Max in India. Also: there have been no big releases in theatres as yet. () MADAGASCAR IS FALLING APART A new study shows that Madagascar—an island nation off the coast of Africa (and sadly made most famous by Disney)—is breaking up into smaller bits. And this is part of a bigger process: The entire continent of Africa is splitting into two, which will likely create a new ocean. The good news: It will take another ten million years. Neat fact to know: Madagascar used to be part of the Indian subcontinent until it split off and drifted away 88 million years ago. () OUR CRAZIEST DREAMS, EXPLAINED When we dream, we're sorting through our experiences of the last day or so—saving the important stuff as memories, and discarding the rest. But why are some of our dreams so strange? A new theory offers a very nerdy AI-driven explanation.    In machine learning, programmers deliberately feed an algorithm all sorts of unrelated data—think of it as ‘noise’—so it learns to focus on genuinely relevant information. And the wacky parts of our dreams serve the same function:   > “Put plainly, our dreams are just realistic enough to engross us and carry us along, but are just different enough from our > experiences—our ‘training set’—to effectively serve as noise.”  And that “off-pattern nonsense” forces our brains to see the forest and not the trees in our daily experiences. So just remember that the next time you’re soaring like an eagle in your dreams. () WANNA STAY IN SRK’S HOME? Well, you can if you are one of two lucky winners of Airbnb’s ‘Home with Open Arms’ contest. No, not the fabulous Mannat in Mumbai, but his Delhi bungalow which has been decorated by wife Gauri. What you have to do to make this little dream true: share what an “open arms welcome” means to you by November 30 on Airbnb’s website. Good luck with that! Remember what is :    > “During their stay, the guests will experience a curated itinerary developed by Gauri, enjoy a meal, including Shah Rukh’s > favourite dishes, watch the superstar’s favourite films and his biggest hits as well as receive personalised souvenirs from the > family.”   AN EARLY CHRISTMAS TALE The giant tree at Rockefeller Center in New York city is an iconic Christmas emblem. But this year’s edition is looking a little, er, lame—and getting a for it. But turns out it was hiding a tiny miracle. To be exact: a tiny saw-whet owl that clung to its branches for three days over 170 miles. According to one of his rescuers, "It's amazing he didn't get crushed." He has since been discovered and moved to a wildlife center to recover. Oh, he also has a name now: Rockefeller, of course.  

Three is a Crowd

Sanity Break #2

You may or may not be a fan of Van Halen but this to Eddie Van Halen by his son, Wolfgang, will surely make you go awww… Yes, bad boy guitarists can be awesome and greatly loved dads.

Sanity Break #2

Weekend advisory

SO YOU WANNA LISTEN TO SOMETHING... This week, we have something a little different for you… in case you want to change up that Netflix and chill routine. Our newest splainer team member, Disha Verma, offers a list of her fave podcasts below: * : Comedians Ed Gamble and James Acaster invite celebrity guests to design their own five-course “dream menu”—which quickly escalates into insane food stories and half-hour rants on why Biryani is the greatest food. (Kumail Nanjiani, we hear you) * : Sunil Khilnani takes us through the history of India through the lives of fifty influential figures, old and young, in fifty high-impact episodes. * : From the British quiz-show ‘Quite Interesting’. QI researchers sit down to dissect four wacky but true facts they stumbled upon that week—and the result has us ROFLing! * : If you're interested in philosophy but don’t have the time to read fat, drab books, this show is for you. Stephen West breaks down complicated philosophy theories and schools, one philosopher at a time, to give you clean, crisp crash courses. * : Jamie Morton is an ordinary British man… except his dad wrote a porno and he wants to read it out to us. This show will make you laugh and cringe like no other on this list! * : Hated history in school? It’s probably because it wasn’t taught this way. Sit back and let comedians explain to you everything from the Haitian Revolution to the history of chocolate in this funny but highly informative BBC podcast. * : Everyone loves a good true crime podcast, but imagine one that also makes you laugh. “Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered”! * : A topical talk-show that explores policies, events and ‘hot-takes’ with facts and nuance. All without being boring. We loved their (refreshingly unbiased) coverage of the US Election. * : A hilarious desi podcast where two friends dissect long-forgotten bollywood movies that are so bad they’re almost… good? The likes of Masand and Chopra are outdated—this is where millennials get their movie reviews from. * : This slow-paced, soothing, high-production audio version of NatGeo is the perfect podcast to unwind on a weekend to. * : Writers’ block? Let legendary playwrights and novelists help you break it. Each episode features speeches and creative writing tips from the likes of Ted Hughes, WB Yeats and Allen Ginsberg. Surreal! * : Have time to spare and wanna learn all of history? Trust Dan Carlin, internet’s favourite historian, to explain every war and uprising in world history with painstaking patience and detail. Note: some episodes run upto 7 hours long! * : Beloved Indian comedians overthink silly stuff—so you don’t have to. Yes, we love structured debates on why he didn’t text back.    A LIST OF GOOD READS * Our fave read on this list: on friends who “borrow” but never return—and why people pull this shit all the time. * Fariha Róisín in writes about the burden of family secrets and who gets to tell the story about a terrible act of violence. * rounds up the nine weirdest animal penises in the world. Don’t worry. There are no photos of these wonders, but plenty of amusing prose. * We greatly enjoyed apt comparison of iPhone design to a soan papdi dabba. * Related read: If you’ve ever struggled to figure out how to use your iPhone’s Bedtime Mode, has the perfect guide. * explains why self-help books are so popular in China—and the reasons hold just as true of India. * has a handy list of 14 great children’s books that can help kids navigate an increasingly polarised and hate-filled world. * Yeast infection or UTI? offers a useful guide to self-diagnosis. * Is it time for Twitter to die? certainly thinks so, and explains why Trump’s exit will seal its fate.

Weekend Advisory

Feel Good Place

What not to do when caught stealing sugarcane…   Communal bath.   Every woman knows exactly what happened here… lol!   When you need to hitch a ride...   Bill Gates’ real super power...  

Feel good place

archivetitle dog ic

Port of Grievances

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For over 100 days, angry fishermen—backed by the Catholic diocese—have staged a blockade of a $900 million Adani project.

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From Hero to Zero

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Less Than Zero

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In a rare show of public fury, workers at an iPhone factory in Zhengzhou rioted against the country’s strict pandemic rules. The rules have imposed a high price on its citizens and the economy—even as Covid cases reach a new peak. The rest of the world has moved on from lockdowns and closed borders, why is Beijing refusing to budge?

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