Researched by: Rachel John & Prerna Barooah
Splainer is hiring!
We are hiring for two important editorial positions to join the brilliantly talented splainer team. The job includes daily editorial responsibilities but unlike the average newsroom gig, this is a lot more than the standard writing/editing job. If you‘re looking for a boiler-plate newsroom desk job, we are likely not the right fit for you.
A knowledge of and love for splainer is a huge plus—since we’re not the usual news product. If you have no clue about what we do, please sign up for a free two-week pass on our subscribe page.
For all positions at splainer: Please note there is a six-month probation period. We pay industry-standard salaries and offer ESOP incentives after a year.. We are location-agnostic and an equal opportunity employer. And we pride ourselves on a warm, friendly work culture. Please send your resumes and cover letter—telling us why you want this job—to firstname.lastname@example.org.
News Editor: Here’s what we’re looking for:
- Impeccable writing, editing and researching skills—with a big emphasis on the last bit. We pride ourselves on the quality of information we offer our readers.
- At least 2 years of experience—though not necessarily in journalism. But if you don’t have a passion for news—or cannot exercise news judgement (as in, does this story matter or not) this is likely not the job for you.
- Willingness to work in a startup environment where we all do a bit of everything—and are eager to take initiative and responsibility.
Assistant News Editor: What we’re looking for:
- Impeccable writing, editing and researching skills.
- 0-1 years of experience.
- A passion to learn how to build something new and unique—and get a front seat view of how a media startup works.
- Familiarity with Canva.
The India-China face off: The latest update
One: According to a Telegraph UK exclusive—based on Indian Army sources—the government is covering up the true extent of the border conflict. In reality, several such incidents take place every month in Arunachal Pradesh—“with soldiers… sometimes engaging in violent hand-to-hand combat, often using clubs and other homemade melee weapons.” The Chinese military is also using nomadic herdsmen to nibble away at the border:
But, the herdsmen are now being told to settle inside Indian territory and construct permanent structures, like stables, where they are then joined by PLA troops under the premise of protection, thus shifting the border. “They employ different methods to occupy our land. Sometimes they send their herdsmen deep into our territory who create makeshift shelters for themselves. Subsequently, the PLA lays claim on the territory,” said another Indian officer.
Two: India successfully test-fired a long-range nuclear-capable missile just days after the clash on the Arunachal Pradesh border. It can hit targets at distances greater than 5,400 km—including those in China. Was it a message? Maybe not since it was scheduled in advance of the border skirmish. (Al Jazeera)
Three: Military sources told The Hindu that Beijing is bulking up its presence on the trijunction where the borders of China, Bhutan and India converge—close to the Torsa Nala. The new structures include roads and a new ropeway. (The Hindu)
A massive nurses strike in the UK
Tens of thousands of nurses—who work for the National Health Service—staged the biggest walkout in their history. The last such strike was back in the 1980s. Also on strike: Ambulance drivers—who are refusing to pick up patients except in life-and-death emergencies. What the nurses want: a pay rise of 5% above inflation, which amounts to a 19% hike. And they want the government to fill a record number of staff vacancies. FYI: their pay has dropped 1.2% every year between 2010 and 2017 once inflation was taken into account. (Wall Street Journal, paywall, CNN)
Twitter goes on a banning spree
The platform has banned the accounts of a number of high-profile journalists from top news organisations. These include CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, The New York Times’ Ryan Mac, The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell and other journalists whose reporting has often been critical of CEO Elon Musk. The reason sounds as bizarre as the move:
Neither Musk nor Twitter responded to a request for comment Thursday evening, and the platform did not explain precisely why the journalists were exiled from the platform. But he appeared to claim that the sanctioned accounts had violated his new “doxxing” policy and shared what he said amounted to “assassination coordinates” on him, even though many pointed out the journalists had not distributed that type of information.
They had only reported on Twitter’s decision to take down an account that tracks Musk’s private jet. Also this: the platform is blocking users from sharing their Mastodon profile URL—giving an automated error message that said Twitter or its partners had identified the site as “potentially harmful.” (CNN)
In other crazy Twitter news: Wild-sounding claims about Elon Musk’s plans continue to leak out of the company. According to Platformer’s sources (paywall), he plans to force users to opt into targeted ads and location info—dismantling standard privacy rules:
Twitter’s new innovation would show users a full screen pop-up asking for consent for personalized advertising and location data collection. The only way to get rid of the pop-up would be to say yes, so it would be impossible to use Twitter without agreeing to the new data regime.
And the company would be authorised to sell user data—contacts and phone numbers used for two-factor authentication—to third parties. The only way to opt out would be to shell out the $8 for the premium Twitter Blue service. Scary except much of this is already illegal under EU law—and is forbidden in states like California. And it will most certainly violate Apple’s user privacy rules. Maybe Musk is just being Musk—and trolling his already unhappy employees? (Gizmodo)
Google: The company has rejected the Hong Kong government’s demand to alter search results for a protest song—which appears as the top item when you type in ‘Hong Kong national anthem’. Titled ‘Glory to Hong Kong’, the song was accidentally played for Hong Kong athletes at two international events recently—where organisers had mistaken it for the official anthem. Google said: “We do not manually manipulate organic web listings to determine the ranking of a specific page.” Umm, okay. (BBC News)
PS: You can see gold medal winner Susanna Lin agitatedly call for a timeout at the Asian Powerlifting Championship below:
In other biz news: Disney is using TataPlay’s plans for an IPO to exit the satellite TV company. It will sell its entire 29.8% stake to get out of the distribution business—and focus on what it does best: entertainment content. (Mint)
Does exercise really help ageing brains?
A JAMA study has some bad news about exercise and meditation. It found that neither do very much to improve the neurological functions of older adults. The participants were divided into three groups: one focused on weekly exercise, the second was assigned meditation, yoga and mental exercises—and the last did a combination of both.
It was found that exercise and meditation—contrary to popular belief—do not improve brain health in older people. But when they were tested after six months, brain scans showed the size of their hippocampus had shrunk.
Why this matters: the hippocampus is a part of the brain “crucial” to memory function—with its increased size corresponding to better memory. But, but, but: This doesn’t mean people shouldn’t meditate or exercise. It may well aid other types of thinking—but we just don’t know enough about the human brain to know how it helps. (Washington Post)
An ancient Sanskrit problem solved
Around 2,500 years ago, linguist Panini wrote the ancient text ‘Aṣṭādhyāyī’—which offered definitive rules for deriving or forming new Sanskrit words. But the rules themselves were contradictory—and therefore fertile ground for scholarly research. Now, Panini himself had offered a cardinal rule to resolve such confusion—which until now was interpreted as: “In the event of a conflict between two rules of equal strength, the rule that comes later in the grammar’s serial order wins.”
That is until Rishi Rajpopat—PhD student at University of Cambridge—had an a-ha moment:
In his dissertation, Rajpopat argues that this metarule was historically misunderstood — instead, what Paṇini meant was that between rules applicable to the left and right sides of a word, he wanted the reader to choose the rule applicable to the right side. With this logic, Rajpopat finds that Paṇini’s algorithms produce grammatically correct words and sentences without errors.
Why this is really impressive: Rajpopat’s work undercuts 2.5 millennia of research. The Print offers a detailed explanation—with examples that would delight a budding linguist.
The ‘Harry & Meghan’ drama, continued
The second and concluding instalment of the Netflix documentary dropped yesterday. From what we gather, here are the hottest takes. At a heated meeting discussing the couple’s desire for “half in, half out” arrangement—before they opted for a full exit—Harry claims this happened: “It was terrifying to have my brother scream and shout at me, and my father say things that just simply weren’t true, and my grandmother quietly sit there and take it all in.” He also indirectly accuses Charles of leaking confidential communications between them to the media. (CNN)
Henry Cavill hangs up his cape
The actor best known for playing Superman in the 2013 flick will not be reprising his role—despite announcing his plans to do so in October. But the new management at DC Studios—led by director James Gunn—have other ideas. They are retiring Cavill and have announced a fresh reboot that will focus on the superhero’s youth. The actor’s sweet response: “My turn to wear the cape has passed, but what Superman stands for never will. It’s been a fun ride with you all, onwards and upwards.” The studio also recently axed Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins who was slated to direct the third film in the franchise. What’s still on the books: a Black Superman film written by author Ta-Nehisi Coates and produced by JJ Abram. (The Guardian)
Two things to see
One: Two of Bollywood’s biggest stars got unusually political at the International Film Festival in Kolkata. Discussing censorship in films, Amitabh Bachhan said: “Even now, I'm sure my colleagues on stage would agree, questions are being raised on civil liberties and freedom of expression.” And Shah Rukh Khan—under fire from the Hindutva squad over the song ‘Besharam Rang’ from his upcoming flick ‘Pathaan’—offered this bit of dialogue from the movie: “Apni kursi ki peti bandh lijiye, mausam bigadne-wala hai” (Fasten your seat belt, the weather is about to get rough). The Telegraph has the most on Big B’s remarks. (Indian Express)