Wednesday January 13 2021

Privacy Please!

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Sanity Break #1

A British restaurant owner Niraj Gadhera decided it will be good fun to attach a samosa to a weather balloon and send it into space—along with a GoPro and a GPS tracker. But the tracker malfunctioned, and he lost track of the AWOL samosa—until the balloon showed up in a field in France. However, there is no sign of the poor samosa. Here’s a very amusing of the entire saga. Totally worth a lunch break laugh.

Sanity Break #1

Headlines that matter

SUPREME COURT ISSUES A DIKTAT Court has suspended the three farm laws (explained ), and appointed a committee of four members. The problem: All four members have previously come out publicly in favour of the laws. has more on each of them.    The government: it isn’t happy about suspension of the laws “but the direction of the apex court is ‘sarva-manya’ (acceptable to all). It also welcomed the composition of an “impartial” committee to resolve the deadlock.   The farmers: have participate in any proceedings of the committee, dubbing it “a government ploy”—as made clear by its members’ views. None of the farmers’ lawyers for the ruling. But they plan to hold their next meeting with the government as scheduled.   On women protesters: Chief Justice Bobde has flagged the presence of women, children and old people at the protest—and the Court might issue an order insisting that they return home. But the unions see the concern as to make it easier for the police to crack down on the protesters. Also this: “As per the 2011 census, 98 million women in India have agricultural jobs, making them a stakeholder in the sector.” And going by this , it doesn’t appear that the women are looking for protection:   The next flash point: Republic Day. Farmers lead a tractor parade through Delhi—but after the official parade is done. The government has asked the Court to impose an injunction on any such protest which would “disturb and disrupt the august celebrations” and create a law and order situation.   GROWING FEARS FOR US INAUGURATION House Democrats were briefed by law enforcement on to overthrow the government. The most terrifying involves “insurrectionists forming a perimeter around the Capitol, the White House and the Supreme Court, and then blocking Democrats from entering the Capitol—perhaps even killing them—so that Republicans could take control of the government.”   Trump responds: In his first public appearance since the siege, Trump his incitement of rioters, saying: “People thought that what I said was totally appropriate” He also brushed aside calls to remove him from office, issuing an implicit threat: ““As the expression goes, be careful of what you wish for.”   MORE CLARIFICATIONS ON THE VACCINE ROLLOUT The health ministry says that it has ordered 11 million doses of Serum Institute’s Covishield (the Oxford vaccine) and 5.5 million doses of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. The first stage will target 10 million healthcare workers and 20 million frontline public workers. The second stage will aim to immunise 270 million people above the age of 50 years and those with underlying health conditions.    The big controversy: The government says that a person receiving the vaccine at this stage will not have the option to choose between the two vaccines—even though Covishield has proven efficacy data while Covaxin has not. And that is among doctors who will be among the first to receive the jab.    Private sales: Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla his vaccine will sell at Rs 1000, but he has not received permission to take it to the market. The government has indicated that it private sales until its campaign is over—which could “last maybe beyond one year”.    Point to note: Serum right now has 50 million doses in stock and will produce 70-80 million a month. Yes, a significant chunk will be exported to poorer countries that are in great need. But Serum has already made clear that most of its vaccines will be sold in India. What puzzles us: Given the ready availability of vaccines in the country, why wait a year to offer them to private individuals—if the priority is to immunise everyone as quickly as possible?   IN OTHER PANDEMIC-RELATED NEWS: * Japan has discovered that may be more infectious—like other recent strains identified in the UK and South Africa. This one has 12 mutations on its spike protein.  * Three Democratic members of Congress have thanks to the siege. Members of Congress were crowded into rooms with Republicans—many of whom refuse to wear a mask. * Gorillas at the San Diego Zoo have as well. This is the first known case of the virus infecting one of the great apes. * A reveals that a healthy gut may protect you from severe forms of Covid. It can help ensure that your body’s immune system does not go into overdrive—which often causes long haul symptoms.  * A new long haul symptom: ‘’: “The condition involves peeling skin and fingernails that can turn purple.”   ELON MUSK GOES ALL ‘MADE IN INDIA’ Tesla has registered a subsidiary company in Bangalore, but no one knows what that means—including Karnataka’s principal secretary for commerce & industries who :   > “We have been interacting with Tesla for the last few months and it is happy news that they have decided to incorporate their > company here… How they want to enter and take it forward is left to their judgment. Hopefully, this will lead to sales office, > research and further developments as necessary."   INDIAN CRICKET TEAM KI DUKHI KAHANI The bio bubble created for the visiting team down under is less than desirable in Brisbane—the venue of their fourth test match. Among about their hotel accommodations: “Making the bed. Cleaning the toilet. No room service. Ordering food on apps. No access to the swimming pool.” Haw, but all this may be the Indian cricket authorities’ fault which wanted the team to fly home right after the match—with zero quarantine. But now the cricket board has to ensure that the team can order in their khana, and never have to make their bed.   AN OFFENSIVE CHINESE AD for makeup wipes is not winning a lot of fans. The reason: It shows “a woman walking home at night followed by a male stalker. As he gains on her, she removes her make-up using the wipes and transforms into a man, scaring off the would-be attacker.” The company has since pulled the ad and apologised for ‘victim blaming’. has the story.   ROBOTS CAN DISPLAY EMPATHY A new study found that one robot learned to predict its partner robot’s actions based on just a few video frames—i.e. it made that prediction by putting itself in the shoes of the other robot. Researchers are calling this a “primitive form of empathy.” Also this: "We recognize that robots aren't going to remain passive instruction-following machines for long.” has the story. But makes this very nerdy discovery easier to understand:   AYUSHMANN HAS A ??? HAIR DAY may insist that he is “pulling off the man bun look effortlessly.” But we’re kinda unsure...  

Privacy Please!

Sanity Break #2

If you enjoy visual puns, then this series—titled Words Made of Atoms—by Brit artist duo John Wood and Paul Harrison (known as the Laurel & Hardy of the art world) is perfect for you. It’s all a bit weird, quirky and yet compelling. See the rest over at . If this is up your alley, be sure to check out their which is much more of the same.

Sanity Break #2

Smart & Curious

A LIST OF INTRIGUING THINGS One: There is such a thing as ‘vagina moisturising melt’ and they claim to make your vagina smell and taste like food. Flavour options include: "Blueberry Bliss," "Heavenly Vanilla," and "Wild Cherry” and—wait for it—””! Just in case you’re a bit too intrigued, explains why you really don’t want to be using anything that includes “organic flavor oil.” Related weirdness: including examples from Indian bakeries.   Two: Yes, we now have  .   Three: This invasive brown tree snake can turn its tail into a lasso to climb absolutely anything. Scientists are shocked and awed. magazine has more.   Four: Now there’s a fun way to learn how to hack your way into other people’s devices and networks. A team of Russian hackers have designed and mass-produced a powerful handheld hacking device that takes the form of an adorable virtual pet—a dolphin named Flipper Zero—you can play with by hacking into stuff. FYI: Flipper Zero evolves with interaction, and gets mad when you aren’t hacking stuff. And it holds left-wing political views, listens to techno, and has no pronounced gender identity.” has more on this Byju-esque tool for white hat hackers. See alarmingly cheery promo video below:  

Smart & Curious

Feel Good Place

Rakhi Sawant on Bigg Boss, courtesy Yashraj Mukhate (of ‘Rasode main kaun tha’ fame).   Auditioning actors, kindly take note.   Dog owners not WFH, kindly take note.  

Feel good place

archivetitle dog ic

Port of Grievances

December 1 2022

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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Viral Protests

November 28 2022

Chinese citizens streamed into the streets to express their anger at the harsh Covid safety policies. What makes this notable and unprecedented: they openly called for the resignation of President Xi and the Communist Party.

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From Hero to Zero

November 25 2022

Since the beginning, the Chinese president has framed the pandemic as a “people’s war.” Adhering to zero Covid was not just good policy, but also a mark of true patriotism. But a policy that seemed wise in 2020 has proven to be a disaster in 2022. But why won’t Xi change his mind?

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Less Than Zero

November 24 2022

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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