Thursday 4 March 2021

King of Fear

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Sanity Break #1

Imagine a French exhibit dedicated to the biggest duds in design—which in turn are curated from the Swedish Museum of Failure. It spotlights the biggest flops of some of the biggest names in business: A spray-on condom because... you can never find the right size? Or a twin champagne glass because… well, just because. You can read about the or browse through the museum’s fascinating .

Sanity Break #1

Headlines that matter

A RAID ON BOLLYWOOD CRITICS The Income-Tax Department on at least 30 locations linked to filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, producers Vikas Bahl and Madhu Mantena and actor Taapsee Pannu in Mumbai and Pune. The allegation: tax evasion by Phantom Films, which was dissolved in 2018. Kashyap, Bahl and Mantena were co-founders of the production company:   > “The I-T Department is also likely to contact certain auditors for cross-checking details. Sources said some inter-linked > transactions between the entities searched were under the scanner of the Department and the raids were aimed at gathering more > evidence into allegations of tax evasion.”   Many are crying foul, calling this a witch hunt against critics of the government. A former CBI director told The Telegraph:   > “The IT raids were expected as both Kashyap and Pannu have been very vocal against the Modi government’s policies. We were > expecting it to happen any time soon because they were refusing to kowtow to the government as most Bollywood stars have… The > raids are also a message to them and their ilk—fall in line or else...”   has details of the raid. has more on the criticism from fellow actors, netas and activists.   In perhaps related news: The global democracy watchdog Freedom House has removed India from its list of ‘free’ countries. We have now been designated as ‘partly free’. ()   Faring somewhat better:  25 courses offered by Indian universities—mostly Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs)—have been included in a top 100 list: “the petroleum engineering course at IIT Madras was ranked 30th in the world, mineral and mining engineering at IIT Bombay (41) and IIT Kharagpur (44) were among the best 50 courses in the world.” ()   Also ranking favourably: Indian women in India Inc. According to a new study, 39% have a position in senior management compared to the global average of 31%. Also this: Over 98% of businesses in India have at least one woman in senior management while the global average is 90%. ()   GOOGLE TRIES TO BE LESS EVIL The company will stop stalking your browsing history to sell ads. The company had already announced its decision to phase out third party cookies on its browser. But now , “We will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.” Why : “Google’s heft means the change could reshape the digital ad business, where many companies rely on tracking individuals to target their ads, measure the ads’ effectiveness and stop fraud.”   Also trying to be good: SoundCloud, which is moving to a radically new system of paying royalties to artists. Right now, the standard industry practice is to pool all royalties on a streaming music service at the end of each payment period—and then pay the rights-holders according to their market share of the total plays across the platform. SoundCloud’s new works instead like this:   > “This model sees streaming royalties paid out based on individual subscriber behavior—with a percentage of each subscriber’s > subscription fee being distributed only to the artists/labels they have individually listened to that month.”   This presumably will help indie artists who often lose out to the big players in the current system.   Not doing well: Facebook which is in the news again, this time for its classified ads platform—which is being used to illegally sell plots in the Amazon rainforest. has that story.   THE GREAT PANDEMIC: A QUICK UPDATE * The result of the phase 3 trial of Covaxin is finally out—and it is 81% effective. This is data from the largest such vaccine trial—with 25,800 participants—in India. has more details. * Maharashtra’s numbers continue to soar. The state a fresh spike of 9,855 daily cases—the highest in four months. * Good news for Covid long haulers. At least report feeling much better after being vaccinated. But the evidence is anecdotal for now. * A of 18,000 women in 16 countries shows that “vaccine acceptance"—willingness to be vaccinated—is the highest among pregnant women in India, the Philippines, and countries in Latin America. It is lowest in Russia, the US and Australia. * Male politicians just can’t resist using their vaccine jabs to post thirst traps. The latest, French health minister . hilariously skewers this latest trend.   AMAZON ‘FIXES’ ITS NEW LOGO The company had proudly unveiled a new icon in January—and received a rude shock when some folks saw Hitler, or specifically his moustache in the bit of blue tape. The company has now quietly ‘revised’ the design. See before and after. has the story.   In other Amazon news: It has been ordered to take down the Telugu movie ‘V’ by the Bombay High Court. The reason: a scene that uses a stock photo of actor Sakshi Malik to depict a sex worker—and taken without her consent from her Insta account. has more.   BULLYING ALLEGATIONS AGAINST MEGHAN First, The Times UK published a story based on unnamed royal aides who claim that a bullying complaint was lodged against the princess in 2018. She allegedly drove two of her personal assistants out of the Palace due to her behaviour. But it was never taken up due to pressure from Harry:   > “Senior people in the household, Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, knew that they had a situation where members of staff, > particularly young women, were being bullied to the point of tears. The institution just protected Meghan constantly. All the > men in grey suits who she hates have a lot to answer for, because they did absolutely nothing to protect people.”    Meanwhile, the Sussexes have dismissed the story as “a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation.” OTOH, Buckingham Palace is now launching a formal investigation into the complaint. Yes, this is getting ugly—right before the couple’s highly anticipated interview with Oprah, set to air on Sunday. story requires a sign in, but has the overview.   DR SEUSS BOOKS TO BE AXED Six books—including ‘And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street’ and ‘If I Ran the Zoo’—will no longer be published. The reason: they contain racist imagery of people of colour. Example: “a Chinese man with sticks,” who has two lines for eyes and can be seen holding chopsticks and a bowl. Why the company which owns the rights pulled the books: “Research has shown that children as young as three can form racial biases, and those biases become fixed by age seven.” has more.   In happier literary news: Kazuo Ishiguro has released his first novel since he won the Nobel in 2017. ‘Klara and the Sun’ is being compared to our personal favourite Ishiguro, ‘Never Let Me Go’. has more details and a review.   A SEPTUAGENARIAN BIRD MOMMY The world’s oldest known wild bird—a Laysan albatross named Wisdom—turned 70 this year, and reared what is at least her 40th chick. This is quite a feat for a bird that has already re-written the natural history books—until a few decades ago, scientists thought Laysan albatrosses only lived about 40 years. Also: She looks as sprightly as ever, as you can see from this photo of her sitting on her egg back in November. has a lot more on Wisdom.   In other avian news: The flamingos are back in Mumbai, turning its lakes into a ‘sea of pink’. :   ANGELINA SELLS A WINSTON Angelina Jolie has sold a painting by (in)famous British PM Sir Winston Churchill for a whopping £7 million ($9.7 million) at an auction. ‘The Tower Of The Koutoubia Mosque’—painted in Marrakech during World War II—is supposed to be his “most important work”—and the highest ever price received by a Churchill painting. All of which goes to show that both beauty and value lies in the eyes of the beholder. has the story. Also, it looks :   READING A FOLDED LETTER In a first, scientists have been able to read an intricately folded 300-year-old letter without opening it—using an X-ray scanner and computer algorithms. Why this matters:   > “Until now, the standard way to read a letterlocked letter necessitated physically unfolding it, disturbing the intricate folds > and potentially damaging the paper as a result of removing sealing wax and cutting the paper.”   As for what the letter said, it turned out to be a request for a death certificate. More things change… has more on how they did it. Also, it looks like this:  

King of Fear

Sanity Break #2

The Berlin Zoo welcomed its after 16 years. We insist you celebrate the moment with 45 seconds of soothing, serotonin-inducing mama-baby love.

Sanity Break #2

Feel Good Place

#NotLifeGoals   This beautification project titled ‘Aqua World’ in Mumbai.   Every YouTube bro ever.  

Feel good place

I recommend

I RECOMMEND EDITOR’S NOTE Good ole Bollywood is changing, and one of the biggest reasons is fabulously talented young actors like Shreya Dhanwanthary who are forging their own unique path to stardom. Whether writing and directing the series ‘’ or lighting up the screen in ‘’, what we love most about Shreya is that she is always herself. Zero apologies given. When I’m not dreaming up scenarios where I’m heroically saving the world from doomsday scenarios, I work. More often than not though, I worry about work. Luckily, my line of work will hopefully include scenarios where I’m heroically saving the world from doomsday scenarios. 🤓 Sooo what can I—who am super unqualified to give anyone advice about anything—recommend to people? Well, I genuinely love stories—on screen and on the page. So I’d love to share my choices. And I’ve also added one super special nerd-out category that is very me.   SCIENCE FICTION Sci-fi is one of my favourite genres and the books that blew my mind in this category are:   ‘' : by Liu Cixin. So science-fiction is always expansive and this series of books completely extended… expanded the boundaries of whatever I had imagined or even ventured to imagine. It’s a must read! It’s both totally incredible and weirdly plausible.   ‘' ; '' : by Ernest Cline. When I was reading this book, it actually played out like a film in my head. And then I found out that Steven Spielberg was actually adapting it for the big screen. While I didn’t like the movie as much, these books are fantastic!   ‘' : by Orson Scott Card. This one is a classic. Enough said.   HORROR This is another favourite genre. But this time around, I’m recommending stories told on the silver screen.    ‘' : This redefined the very idea of how a narrative in this genre unfolds.   ‘' : This is hella fun and properly spooky. Redefines every cabin-in-the-woods horror movie trope and builds on it.    ‘' : Director James Wan arrived at a time where the horror film genre had somewhat stagnated, a time when we mostly had remakes of Korean & Japanese horror films (which are also fabulous). But Wan inspired a fabulous resurgence in the genre, by redefining its classic tropes. He brought back the classic demon flick plus the noises and the jump scares—and did it with flair.   Honorary mention: ‘’ and ‘’. Both were directed by Ari Aster. Again, these redefine the definition of horror movies. Also: the idea of setting a horror film completely in broad daylight. BRILLIANT.    BOARD GAMES I have about 150 games in my collection and my entire family is into gaming. Here’s what I highly recommend for anyone looking to try summin new.   * Classic. ‘Nuff said. * A great machine building game with decent strategy and amount of randomness. My dad loves this one. Helluva lot of fun.  * A heavier strategy game with beautiful art and ancient Egyptian gods for company. We played this one for 8 hours once.    Note: This is NOT sponsored content. We use this section to spotlight the recommendations of people we trust and admire. #NotLifeGoals   This beautification project titled ‘Aqua World’ in Mumbai.   Every YouTube bro ever.  

I recommend