Splainer AMA reminder!
Don’t forget to sign up for our next Ask Me Anything with novelist, podcaster, and radio commentator Sandip Roy (greatly beloved among our splainer audience for his Asterix-themed Bengal explainer). Sandip is the author of the well-received ‘Don’t Let Him Know’. Want to know more? Listen to his wonderful dispatches from Kolkata for the NPR affiliate in San Francisco. Or check out his Indian Express podcast series or his Mint Lounge column. Sign up here for an excellent conversation (open to all subscribers). Time/date: Saturday, June 19 at 6:30 pm.
And while we’re on the subject, you may want to check out our fab AMA on Love, Marriage, Sex Etc. with Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan, Leeza Mangaldas, and Priya Alika-Elias. We were delighted with the freewheeling and candid conversation—helped along with excellent questions from the splainer fam. Watch it here.
Twitter is in trouble!
Twitter just announced that it has appointed an interim Chief Compliance Officer—in compliance with the new digital media rules that came into effect on May 26 (for context, read our Twitter vs GOI explainer). But it may be too little too late for the company. According to the government, Twitter has already lost its ‘safe harbour’—i.e. the legal clause that ensures a social media company will not be held criminally liable for any unlawful content shared on its platform. Or so claims this Times of India report based on anonymous ‘government sources’.
Big point to note: This may explain why an FIR filed in Ghaziabad names Twitter—along with an array of journalists including Rana Ayyub who tweeted about an assault on an elderly Muslim man. The charges are as follows:
“The tweets by the accused had been broadcast on a large scale. The statements made through social media by the accused hint at a criminal conspiracy. The accused and other people tried to create animosity between Hindus and Muslims. The tweets were an attempt to destroy communal harmony. These false tweets had been retweeted by thousands of people. The accused include journalists and political persons who did not make an attempt to establish the truth in the case and spread false news.”
Twitter is being held responsible for not deleting their tweets. If the government plans to underline the consequences of defiance, expect many more such cases naming Twitter in the near future.
The great pandemic: A quick update
- First, the numbers: India added 63,868 new cases and 2,529 deaths on Tuesday.
- The government confirmed the country’s first vaccine-related death: a 68-year-old man who died due to anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) after taking a Covishield jab.
- Indian authorities also formally recognised a new variant of the virus called AY.1 or B.1.617.2.1. It has been nicknamed ‘Delta Plus’ as it shares the mutations of the Delta virus plus a key mutation found in the Beta (South African) variant. But we don’t know how prevalent this variant is—or its implications for the spread.
- Speaking of variants, a well-respected former WHO official says he warned senior government officials about the spread of a variant as early as March—but he was ignored.
- Athletes will be kicked out of the Tokyo Olympics if they violate Covid-safety rules such as daily testing and mask-wearing.
- Times of India reports on frantic efforts by parents to transport their kids to their colleges in the United States. Solutions include chartered planes, and spending two weeks in places like Dubai, Egypt and Russia.
- A related good read: The Guardian reports on the rise of the ‘vaxinista’—a person “who has not only had both jabs, but wants to broadcast it via vaccine selfies, cards and even merchandise.”
- On the lighter side, Watch this doctor dancing to persuade tribal residents to get a Covid test:
Turning plastic into vanilla!
Scientists used genetically engineered bacteria to convert plastic bottles into vanillin—which is used to impart vanilla flavouring to food and cosmetics. Contrary to popular belief, 85% of vanillin does not come from natural beans but from chemicals derived from fossil fuels. Why this matters, according to scientists:
“Our work challenges the perception of plastic being a problematic waste and instead demonstrates its use as a new carbon resource from which high value products can be made.”
Another big reason it matters: One of the most comprehensive studies to date shows that single-use bags, plastic bottles, food containers and food wrappers are the four most widespread items in the ocean—and make up almost half of all human-made waste. Translation: our takeaway khana habits are generating the most plastic pollution. The Guardian has more details.
In related news: In order to save the Yamuna, the Delhi government has banned the sale, storage, transportation, and marketing of soaps and detergents that do not meet government standards. The high phosphate content in the unbranded detergents is one of the main sources of the toxic foam we see in viral photos and videos. (Mint)
Christian Eriksen is okay!
The footballer who suffered a serious heart attack during a Euro 2020 game (explained here) posted a photo from the hospital bed to assure anxious fans: “I'm fine—under the circumstances. I still have to go through some examinations at the hospital, but I feel okay.” No, they still don’t know why he collapsed since his tests also seem fine. BBC News has an update. See the photo below:
Menopause affects our brains!
An in-depth study found that menopause changes our brains:
“...[T]he menopause transition changes the brain’s structure, energy consumption and connectivity. The volume of the brain’s gray matter—which consists of nerve cells—decreases, as does its white matter, which contains the fibers that connect nerve cells. Brain regions associated with memory and perception also showed declining glucose levels, the study found.”
The good news: our brains compensate for these losses and are able to find a “new normal” after menopause. (Wall Street Journal)
Meet the ‘world’s biggest family’
Ziona died on June 13, leaving behind 38 wives and 89 children. The 76-year old belonged to a Mizoram tribe that promotes polygamy—even though it is illegal in India. CNN has more details. Below is Ziona and his clan:
Two things to look at
One: The uber-luxury car brand Ferrari has entered the world of fashion—and unveiled its first collection at its state-of-the-art assembly plant in Maranello, Italy. See a selection below. The Cut has a longer piece on whether it makes sense for cars to get into the biz of clothes.
Two: Legendary architect Frank Gehry unveiled a new building in the picturesque town of Arles, France. It is 184 feet tall and towers over everything in sight:
“The building’s 11,000 reflective stainless steel panels spectacularly transform the building over the course of a day: It blends into a bright blue sky at noontime, gilds itself in the late afternoon, and twinkles as the sun sets.”
Sadly, many of the locals are not impressed: “Those who are annoyed by this arrogance dub it ‘the beer can.’” Smithsonian magazine has more details. See it below:
In our gratitude jar…
We are enormously grateful to our founding members Ipsita Sai, Maya Chandrasekaran, Sheena Dabholkar, Shalini Dayanidhi, Anshuman Rane, Aditi Punj Sood, Nayantara Srinivasan, Anjali Viswamohanan, Shashank Jogani and Apoorva Dutt. Every rupee of your support helped splainer make it what it is today.
Dine With Data: All About Encore 💰🎹
Company: Encore 💰🎹
About: Amsterdam-based Encore allows you to invest in your favourite artist's songs and earn royalties when it's streamed on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.
Artists directly sell shares in their songs, and depending on the percentage bought, the investor reaps royalties.
The company raised a pre-seed round from Antler in February this year.
Food For Thought: This subverts the original royalty transfer process that is extremely long and cumbersome. Encore directly deposits a percentage of income into the investor's account every month, making it incredibly easy to earn from the artist's success.
DWD Take: Indie artists need money to create their songs, and record labels aren't always the best idea. Companies like Encore not only help investors, but also make it easier for artists to retain ownership to future music, by selling stake in their current work. Can't wait for this to go mainstream!
About DWD: Dine With Data🍴sends you a short summary of one new startup every day, delivered straight to your WhatsApp inbox!