Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Smriti Arora
ICYMI: In our latest Advisory edition, Shunali Shroff offers a lovely guide to Calcutta’s nostalgia-infused delights. The excerpt from ‘Courting India’ documents the hilarious encounter between Thomas Roe—the first ambassador sent by the royal court to India–and his Mughal hosts. It has all the elements of farce—including crossed cultural wires and, of course, white privilege. Champaca is back with their book of the month and a delightful list of sci-fi books penned by women, and A Humming Heart has some excellent indie earworms for your weekend listening pleasure. As always, the splainer team curates the best series and flicks to watch over the weekend.
Road Trippin’: That’s the theme for our next splainer fam-sourced playlist. What’s the perfect song for that long car ride with friends and family? Help us put together the perfect playlist for your summer vacay getaways. Add your fave songs in this super short form.
Researched by: Nirmal Bhansali, Aarthi Ramnath & Smriti Arora
The government has started sending ships and aircraft to rescue the 3,000 Indians stranded in Sudan—which is in the midst of a bloody civil war (as we explained in our Big Story). Part of the plan is to deploy two C-130J heavy-lift aircraft currently in Jeddah—and INS Sumedha which is in Port Said in Egypt. Indians in the country say they are especially vulnerable: “Indians in the region had reached out showing videos of indiscriminate attacks that also targeted residences of Indian community, and looting of essential items by the rebel paramilitary.” (The Hindu)
This is the biggest headline in the US right now—the unexplained and sudden departure of Fox News’ most popular anchor. The New York Times even has a live blog dedicated to it lol!
The context: In case you don’t know Carlson, he emerged as the face of Trump era politics in the past five years. Last year, Carlson racked up three million viewers a night—by peddling outlandish claims to fuel rightwing outrage. He recently made headlines when his text messages became embarrassing evidence in a defamation lawsuit filed against Fox News (explained in great length here). The election tech company Dominion sued Fox for falsely peddling the claim that the 2020 presidential election was rigged by its voting machines. Fox shelled out $787.5 million to settle the claim.
What happened now: On Monday morning, Carlson was fired without explanation or warning—by none other than Lachlan Murdoch—Rupert’s heir apparent. No one knows why Fox pulled the rug on him. Some suspect it's related to the Dominion lawsuit—while others say those pesky test messages made Fox management cranky. Example:
In another message, Carlson referred to management with an expletive: “Those f-----s are destroying our credibility.” He later wrote: “A combination of incompetent liberals and top leadership with too much pride to back down is what’s happening.”
Washington Post has lots more details. Vox looks at why Carlson mattered.
The 10-minute delivery company has lost around 1,000 workers to its rivals—such as Swiggy Instamart. That’s a third of its delivery workforce. The reason:
Earlier this month, Zomato-owned Blinkit had announced that it would pay delivery executives a minimum of Rs 15 per trip with a distance-based component, moving away from a fixed Rs 25 per delivery and peak-hour incentive of Rs 7 per trip. Blinkit’s delivery workers have been protesting against this change, saying it reduces their earnings.
Due to the protests, 25% of its “dark stores”—i.e warehouses used to fulfil deliveries—were shut down over the past week. But parent company Zomato says most of them are back in business. (Economic Times)
Speaking of Indian salaries: According to a new survey, 69% of workers in India feel underpaid at least sometimes—compared to the 43% globally. The China number is 35%. This isn’t exactly surprising since we also slave the most at our jobs—devoting 10 hours and 39 minutes of unpaid work time per week. The number for China: 7 hours and 30 minutes. That said, 78% of Indians reported getting a salary hike—the highest except for Argentina (whose numbers are skewed by hyper-inflation). And 90% expect to get another one this year. So not so gloomy after all. (Mint)
We can’t get enough of these. This one is from the Wall Street Journal—which only polled Americans (which is a big caveat). But the results from the 12% who identified as “very happy” are interesting. Here is what they share in common:
Wall Street Journal (splainer gift link) has more. We did an excellent two-part series on happiness research—looking at the world’s longest study—and its findings.
Speaking of health: According to a small UK study, “activity snacks” may help keep type 1 diabetes under control. That’s the cute word for walking at least three minutes every half hour. Why this matters:
It is incredibly encouraging that these findings suggest that making a simple, practical change - such as taking phone calls while walking, or setting a timer to remind you to take breaks - to avoid sitting for long periods - could have such a profound effect on blood sugar levels.
Everyone has to sleep. According to scientists, elephant seals have found the craziest evolutionary hack on how to get those forty winks in an ocean full of predators. TBH, it sounds scary. Apparently, they only sleep for two hours a day—during "nap-like sleeping dives”—in the deepest parts of the oceans:
Lead researcher Prof Terrie Williams, from UC Santa Cruz, told BBC News: "The thing I find remarkable is that any mammal would fall asleep while drifting hundreds of metres below the water surface. This is not light sleep but real paralytic, deep sleep that would have humans snoring. Remarkably, the seal's brain reliably wakes them out of it before running out of oxygen. Imagine waking up on the bottom of a pool—it sends a shiver down the spine."
FYI: The seals get the least sleep among all mammals. BBC News has more on the study.
Moving on to parrots: Scientists have taught these domesticated birds how to call each other—so they feel less lonely when their humans are not around:
There are 20 million parrots living in people’s homes in the USA, and we wanted to explore whether those birds might benefit from video calling too. If we gave them the opportunity to call other parrots, would they choose to do so, and would the experience benefit the parrots and their caregivers?
The answer, according to a new study, is a resounding ‘yes’. New York Times has a lovely interactive story. OTOH, The Guardian doesn’t have a paywall. You can see the experiments below—they made us smile.
Moving along to mosquitoes: Argentina has launched a mass sterilisation campaign to squelch an dengue epidemic—which has infected over 60,000 people. What’s noteworthy: they’re using radiation to neuter the males. Reuters has more on how it works.
It was only a matter of time before chatbots became tools for clickbait. Last week, a German tabloid published an AI-generated fake interview of Formula1 driver Michael Schumacher. This is a legend who met with a tragic skiing accident—suffered a serious brain injury—and has been carefully protected from the media by family. It’s hardly surprising that they sued Die Aktuelle—which tried to have it both ways with a coy headline on its cover that read: "Michael Schumacher: The first interview!" The strapline: "It sounds deceptively real." The editor-in-chief Anne Hoffmann has now been sacked. (The Guardian)
One: We missed this one over the weekend—but it is totally worth sharing. What really spells the end of the British royal family? It may be the moment they start sharing videos of the ‘coronation quiche’. Just in time for Charles’, well, coronation—which will take place on May 6. The splainer team prefers his mummy’s ‘coronation chicken’ aka ’poulet reine Elizabeth’—“made from an Indian-inspired creamy curry sauce. It could conveniently be eaten as a salad or used to fill sandwiches.” Achha, here’s the how-to vid released by Buckingham Palace—so you can make the quiche at home and pretend you’re eating it with all those A-list celebs. Honestly, what is wrong with English people? (The Guardian)
Two: Disneyland is upping its IRL antics with Maleficent—a fire-breathing animatronic dragon—that went up in very real flames. No one was hurt but this quote from a visitor pretty much sums up how effed up our radar for what is real is these days: "The dragon's head started to glow, and I see fire and kind of smoke coming out. I was like, 'Oh ... they added some new stuff because that didn't happen like that before.’" See the clip below. (ABC News)
Three: Zendaya fans rejoice! The hottest actor in Hollywood shocked her fans by returning to her lyrical roots—after seven years!—at Coachella. (Vogue)
The government’s obsession with a golden sceptre may be a clever election and/or Hindutva play.Read More
A UK report lays bare the abuse of tea workers—who still work like indentured plantation slaves.Read More