Showing posts with label india. Show all posts
Showing posts with label india. Show all posts

Monday, March 13, 2023

13: India

This Changes Everything . “A.I. is probably the most important thing humanity has ever worked on. I think of it as something more profound than electricity or fire.” ....... What is hardest to appreciate in A.I. is the improvement curve. ....... I find myself thinking back to the early days of Covid. There were weeks when it was clear that lockdowns were coming, that the world was tilting into crisis, and yet normalcy reigned, and you sounded like a loon telling your family to stock up on toilet paper. ....... There is a natural pace to human deliberation. A lot breaks when we are denied the luxury of time. ......... the people working on A.I. ...... a community that is living with an altered sense of time and consequence. They are creating a power that they do not understand at a pace they often cannot believe. ......... Would you work on a technology you thought had a 10 percent chance of wiping out humanity? ...... They believe they might summon demons. They are calling anyway. ........ This was true among cryptocurrency enthusiasts in recent years. The claims they made about how blockchains would revolutionize everything from money to governance to trust to dating never made much sense. But they were believed most fervently by those closest to the code. ......... Crypto was always a story about an unlikely future searching for traction in the present. With A.I., to imagine the future you need only look closely at the present. ........ In 2021, a system built by DeepMind managed to predict the 3-D structure of tens of thousands of proteins, an advance so remarkable that the editors of the journal Science named it their breakthrough of the year. ....... “Within two months of downloading Replika, Denise Valenciano, a 30-year-old woman in San Diego, left her boyfriend and is now ‘happily retired from human relationships’” ........ Could it help terrorists or antagonistic states develop lethal weapons and crippling cyber attacks? ........ These systems will already offer guidance on building biological weapons if you ask them cleverly enough. ........ A.I. is already being used for predictive policing and judicial sentencing. ........ The “thinking,” for lack of a better word, is utterly inhuman, but we have trained it to present as deeply human. And the more inhuman the systems get — the more billions of connections they draw and layers and parameters and nodes and computing power they acquire — the more human they seem to us. .......... “as A.I. continues to blow past us in benchmark after benchmark of higher cognition, we quell our anxiety by insisting that what distinguishes true consciousness is emotions, perception, the ability to experience and feel: the qualities, in other words, that we share with animals.” ......... The major tech companies are in a race for A.I. dominance. The U.S. and China are in a race for A.I. dominance. Money is gushing toward companies with A.I. expertise. ....... Slowing down “would involve coordinating numerous people .

The Return of the Magicians people talk increasingly about the limits of the scientific endeavor — the increasing impediments to discovering new ideas, the absence of low-hanging scientific fruit, the near impossibility, given the laws of physics as we understand them, of ever spreading human civilization beyond our lonely planet or beyond our isolated solar system. ....... — namely, beings that can enlighten us, elevate us, serve us and usher in the Age of Aquarius, the Singularity or both. ........... a golem, more the embodied spirit of all the words on the internet than a coherent self with independent goals. .......... With the emergent forms of A.I., they argue, we have created an intelligence that can yield answers the way an oracle might or a Magic 8 Ball: through processes that are invisible to us, permanently beyond our understanding, so complex as to be indistinguishable from action in a supernatural mind. ...... the A.I. revolution represents a fundamental break with Enlightenment science, which “was trusted because each step of replicable experimental processes was also tested, hence trusted.” .......... the spirit might be disobedient, destructive, a rampaging Skynet bent on our extermination. ....... we would be wise to fear apparent obedience as well. .

Should GPT exist? Gary Marcus asks about Microsoft, “what did they know, and when did they know it?”—a question I tend to associate more with deadly chemical spills or high-level political corruption than with a cheeky, back-talking chatbot. ........ in reality it’s merely a “stochastic parrot,” a glorified autocomplete that still makes laughable commonsense errors and that lacks any model of reality outside streams of text. ....... If you need months to think things over, generative AI probably isn’t for you right now. I’ll be relieved to get back to the slow-paced, humdrum world of quantum computing. ....... if OpenAI couldn’t even prevent ChatGPT from entering an “evil mode” when asked, despite all its efforts at Reinforcement Learning with Human Feedback, then what hope do we have for GPT-6 or GPT-7? ....... Even if they don’t destroy the world on their own initiative, won’t they cheerfully help some awful person build a biological warfare agent or start a nuclear war? ......... a classic example being nuclear weapons. But, like, nuclear weapons kill millions of people. They could’ve had many civilian applications—powering turbines and spacecraft, deflecting asteroids, redirecting the flow of rivers—but they’ve never been used for any of that, mostly because our civilization made an explicit decision in the 1960s, for example via the test ban treaty, not to normalize their use. ........

GPT is not exactly a nuclear weapon. A hundred million people have signed up to use ChatGPT, in the fastest product launch in the history of the Internet. ... the ChatGPT death toll stands at zero

....... The science that we could learn from a GPT-7 or GPT-8, if it continued along the capability curve we’ve come to expect from GPT-1, -2, and -3. Holy mackerel. ....... I was a pessimist about climate change, ocean acidification, deforestation, drought, war, and the survival of liberal democracy. The central event in my mental life is and always will be the Holocaust. I see encroaching darkness everywhere. .......... it’s amazing at poetry, better than most of us.

The False Promise of Chomskyism . .
Why am I not terrified of AI? “I’m scared about AI destroying the world”—an idea now so firmly within the Overton Window that Henry Kissinger gravely ponders it in the Wall Street Journal? ....... I think it’s entirely plausible that, even as AI transforms civilization, it will do so in the form of tools and services that can no more plot to annihilate us than can Windows 11 or the Google search bar......... the young field of AI safety will still be extremely important, but it will be broadly continuous with aviation safety and nuclear safety and cybersecurity and so on, rather than being a desperate losing war against an incipient godlike alien. ........ In the Orthodox AI-doomers’ own account, the paperclip-maximizing AI would’ve mastered the nuances of human moral philosophy far more completely than any human—the better to deceive the humans, en route to extracting the iron from their bodies to make more paperclips. And yet the AI would never once use all that learning to question its paperclip directive. ........ from this decade onward, I expect AI to be woven into everything that happens in human civilization ........ Trump might never have been elected in 2016 if not for the Facebook recommendation algorithm, and after Trump’s conspiracy-fueled insurrection and the continuing strength of its unrepentant backers, many would classify the United States as at best a failing or teetering democracy, no longer a robust one like Finland or Denmark ....... I come down in favor right now of proceeding with AI research … with extreme caution, but proceeding.

Planning for AGI and beyond Our mission is to ensure that artificial general intelligence—AI systems that are generally smarter than humans—benefits all of humanity.

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Rahul Gandhi

Introducing Subscribe to Mint . In order to mint, a collector needs to subscribe to a creator’s Mirror publication with their email, bootstrapping a communication channel for creators to engage collectors on a recurring basis.

Introducing Web3 Subscriptions Mirror takes subscriptions a step further by centering it around a web3 wallet, rather than an email address. We believe wallets are the fundamental representation of identity in web3, and creators will want to build a community represented by wallets rather than emails. A "hello world" post, whitepaper, or manifesto that marks the genesis of any important project on Mirror can now enable its audience to subscribe, creating a social and economic link between community and project. ......... Socially, wallets are evolving into the means by which everyone in web3 communicates, interacts, and follows each other. Blurring the lines between social and economic identity presents a completely new design space with enormous opportunities for the next generation of social applications. At Mirror, our mission is to build great publishing tools at this junction. ......... For creators and projects that don't yet have a community of wallets, we believe publishing on Mirror should be the first step in that direction. Every big idea that sparks a movement begins with a story, and now it can inspire a reader to subscribe and join yours. ........... Twitter just wasn’t the right place for that. Mirror is the right place to engage with an on-chain community at scale, because it is purposefully built to be. On Mirror, you could generate the same level of attention, but the end result will be the foundation of your community, all starting with the delivery of your post directly to their inboxes.

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

7: India

All three governments are applying the 21st century concept of economic security while carrying the memory of 20th century exploitation. They are trying to manage security dilemmas, ideological differences and a bifurcating global order as the world departs from the postwar era of globalization and free trade. .

Sri Lanka says IMF aid in reach after year of anger, hunger and fear President hints new China letter will seal deal; local elections in focus ......... the worst crisis since independence from Britain in 1948. ....... "As a family, we have done a lot for Sri Lanka and blaming our family is not fair. If [critics] have proof that we are the cause [of the crisis], they must show it," Namal Rajapaksa, Mahinda's eldest son and a member of parliament ......... average Sri Lankans hit by a 66% electricity tariff hike in February, on top of last year's 75%, and new income taxes as high as 36%. Last week, the central bank raised its key interest rates again to try to curb inflation hovering around 50%, while public-sector workers stormed out of hospitals, banks and ports to protest the cost of living. ......... half of Sri Lankan families have been forced to reduce the amount they feed their kids. ........ Sri Lanka's ratio of tax revenues to gross domestic product was only 7.3% in 2021, among the lowest in the world. They said that "tax reforms are needed to correct this imbalance" as well as to regain creditor confidence. ......... the severity of the economic crisis has compelled many Sri Lankans to do extra overtime, take second jobs or find side projects to put food on the table, leaving little time to demonstrate. .......... last year's protests resulted in regime change but did not "follow through" on demands for reform of the entire system. ........ the ruling party is "very scared" of a disastrous outcome and thinks this could mark the beginning of a very serious crisis for it. .......... a true transformation is not possible with the current set of lawmakers in Parliament. She said this is why it is critical to defend the electoral process. .

Tech giants look for ways to cash in on ChatGPT boom From Qualcomm to Microsoft to SK Telecom, ambitions high for AI-powered computing .

Huawei returns to global stage with focus on 5G and the cloud China tech giant courts global clients at MWC as it battles U.S. crackdown ........ Huawei Technologies is in Spain pitching its cloud services and 5G technologies to global clients, emerging from three years of COVID restrictions and working around multiple U.S. trade sanctions that have hindered its expansion ambitions. ......... Huawei has the biggest exhibition space at this year's Mobile World Congress, which kicked off in Barcelona on Monday, and its booth at the telecom industry event is packed with crowds from morning to evening. An army of executives have flown in from China, set on wooing customers from Europe, Latin America, Africa and other Asian countries -- in other words, anywhere but the U.S. ......... rotating chairman Eric Xu said the company had pulled itself out of crisis mode and was "back to business as usual." The U.S. sanctions, he said, had become a "new normal" for the telecom giant. ....... To get back into foreign markets without its once-famous smartphones, the Chinese telecom giant is leaning heavily on cloud services and 5G communications for corporate clients. ......... Global cloud services are dominated by U.S. players, namely Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. The only Chinese provider in the top 5 is Alibaba Cloud. ....... using 5G technology to help companies go digital. ......... "The [5G] opportunities in B2B are significantly larger than the B2C stuff" .......

Huawei has set up a mining business group that is dedicated to using 5G technologies to automate mines.

......... "Latin America and Africa will be key markets for us," Xu said, as those regions are rich in mining resources.

My trip to India in pictures Why my travels in India made me optimistic about the future. ........

What has three wheels, zero emissions, and makes no noise? This electric rickshaw I drove in Delhi.


Building a New Canon of Black Literature Which older novels, plays and poems by African American writers are being — or should be — rediscovered? ........ Before that, while growing up in Salt Lake City in the 1980s and ’90s,

I looked to Black literature as a lifeline

; I read every book I could find ....... I didn’t come across Cooper in the pages of a scholarly journal; I saw her name on Instagram. ......... Although canons may enshrine the past, they are instruments of the present. ........ what do readers require of Black American literature today? Works that confront the resurgence of white supremacy. Works that challenge orthodoxies of racial representation. Works that unsettle assumptions about gender and sexual identity. Works that expand the frames of formal experimentation. Works that imagine Black futures. ........ Du Bois’s conviction that the only responsible Black literature is propaganda, marshaling a benevolent Blackness as an antidote to white supremacy’s pernicious specters......... For all the radical political energies expressed in Black American literature, the literary mainstream has often been marked by formal conservatism. ........ Being Black in America is work enough; it’s all right for reading to be funny and fun, controversial and straight up scandalous. ........

... अनि राउत होमिए विद्रोहमा

Ukraine Signals It Will Keep Battling for Bakhmut to Drain Russia Gradual Russian advances and high Ukrainian casualties have fueled talk of a retreat from the eastern city, but Ukrainians say Russian losses are worse, a reason to keep them fighting. .

The Cousins Who Ruled 19th-Century Europe, Miserably “Empty Theatre,” a novel by Jac Jemc, reimagines the lives of two eccentric royals, King Ludwig II of Bavaria and Empress Elisabeth of Austria. ....... Behind the obscene privileges of royalty — as the Windsors too have taught us — lies deep, sometimes debilitating loneliness........ Sisi, meanwhile, endures the woman’s lot; after marrying the Austrian emperor, she is reduced to childbearing and staying thin. .

When War Came to Ukraine, She Took Up a Diary and a Camera In photographs and journal entries, Yevgenia Belorusets captures Kyiv in the early days of Russia’s invasion. ......... Robert Stone called the Vietnam War “a mistake 10,000 miles long.” In Ukraine, the front lines of the unwanted war with Russia extend about 600 miles. Surely that distance seems vastly longer to Russian troops stymied there. It must also seem longer to Ukraine’s citizens, for whom the war is immoral, illegal, stupid, concussive and terrifying. .......... The terror mostly came in over news broadcasts, and the messaging app Telegram. There were rumbles in the distance. .......... Belorusets carries a camera, which makes her suspect to both sides. Armed men leap out of cars and ambush her; citizens report her, fearing she is spying for Russia. She is dragged to checkpoints. A friend tells her, “A sniper can catch the glint from your lens and aim to shoot.” ......... The big emotional takeaway from “War Diary” is a sense of abandonment. Belorusets can’t believe that the world is watching these atrocities, right out on Ukraine’s streets, and not stepping in more forcefully.

Russia’s troops, to her, seem more like terrorists than soldiers.

........ An air-raid siren sounds to her like elephant language. She writes a good deal about pets that are left behind. .......... As she waits and worries, you sense her heart just idling out there, like a car parked in an underpass during a storm.

America Has Lost the War on Drugs. Here’s What Needs to Happen Next.
There’s a Menace Hanging Over Brazil . The tenure of Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain, brought the military back to the heart of government. He might have grudgingly left office, but Brazil’s military — privileged, preponderant and unaccountable — remains a constant threat to the country’s democracy. ....... The republic, after all, was established by a military coup in 1889. “Military officers,” as the eminent Brazilian lawyer Heráclito Sobral Pinto once said, “never accepted not being the owners of the republic.” In the 130 years since, the military has hovered over Brazil — as the political scientist Adam Przeworski wrote, referring to democracies afflicted by overweening militaries — “like menacing shadows, ready to fall upon anyone who goes too far in undermining their values and their interests.” ........... With no war in sight, Brazil has the 15th-largest standing army in the world, with 351,000 active personnel, 167,000 inactive officers and 233,400 pensioners ........ the federal government spends more on defense than it does on education — and almost five times more than it spends on health ........ The expected budget of the Defense Ministry for this year is $23 billion, 77 percent of which is earmarked to pay personnel......... In 2019, the average remuneration for a retired member of the military was more than six times that of a retired civilian. ......... 137,900 unmarried daughters of military members will receive their father’s pensions for the rest of their lives ........ After Mr. Bolsonaro became president in 2019, the military flooded into the civilian administration. In 2020, 6,157 military officers — half of them on active duty — worked for the federal government, more than twice the number in 2018. At one point, 11 of the 26 ministers in Mr. Bolsonaro’s administration were current or former officers .

Ukraine Claims Bakhmut Battle Is Wagner’s ‘Last Stand’ Ukrainians say Russia’s Wagner mercenary group is running low on fighters recruited from prisons, used in attacks on Bakhmut, where Ukraine has also endured heavy losses. ........ Ukrainian officials have claimed that nearly 30,000 of Wagner’s 50,000 troops have deserted or been killed or wounded, many around Bakhmut. That number could not be independently verified, and Ukraine has not disclosed its own losses in the region. Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, claimed on Tuesday that Ukraine had lost more than 11,000 troops in February. .......... Wagner's founder, Yegveny V. Prigozhin, has repeatedly said that his group’s triple-digit daily casualty rates are sucking experienced Ukrainian units into what he calls the “Bakhmut meat-grinder,” upsetting their offensive plans elsewhere. ........ Ukraine would send reinforcements into Bakhmut, where Ukrainian commanders say the fighting has tied down enormous Russian forces. ........ if Ukraine can eliminate Russia’s prisoner soldiers in Bakhmut, they will not have to face their attack waves elsewhere. ........ Wagner units were shifting toward higher-quality special forces because of the high losses suffered by prison recruits. ....... On Monday, Mr. Prigozhin himself appeared to sound an alarm, calling for urgent reinforcements and ammunition to withstand a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive he said could not only relieve Bakhmut’s besieged defenders, but even cut off the Wagner attackers. “Otherwise, we’re all in” trouble, he said, using an expletive in an audio message published on social media. ......... Mr. Prigozhin has suggested that his growing public feud with Russia’s Defense Ministry last month has cost him access to Russian prisons, where since July he was able to enlist tens of thousands of inmates with a promise of high salaries, social rehabilitation and freedom — if they survive their deployments. He had called the loss of prison recruitment an attempt to “bleed out” Wagner of its “offensive potential.” ........... Wagner comprised about 10,000 professional soldiers, recruited mostly from veterans of Russia's security forces, and 40,000 former inmates. .......... used mostly to charge Ukrainian positions in small, unprotected groups, in order to expose the location of enemy fire and dig foxholes for subsequent assault waves. ......... The soldier said that of about 170 inmates who enlisted from his penal colony in Russia’s Ivanov region last fall, about 80 have returned home without major injuries. ............ the Russian military, itself, has recently started recruiting inmates........... The Russian prison service still had more than 400,000 inmates at the start of the year ......... the fighting in Bakhmut is starting to sap Ukrainian strength before an expected counteroffensive. .

Ukraine’s Top Generals Want to Keep Fighting for Bakhmut
Small Bedroom Ideas: The Best Ways to Maximize Your Tiny Space
‘A Decade of Fruitless Searching’: The Toll of Dating App Burnout Ten years after the launch of Tinder, some long-term online daters say endless swiping has been bad for their mental health. ........ A committed user, she can easily spend two or more hours a day piling up matches, messaging back and forth, and planning dates with men who seem promising. ....... the swiping, the monotonous getting-to-know-you conversations and the self-doubt that creeps in when one of her matches fizzles. Not a single long-term relationship has blossomed from her efforts. ........ she has regularly felt pressured to have sex with others ........ 37 percent of online daters said someone continued to contact them after they said they weren’t interested, and 35 percent had received unwanted sexually explicit texts or images. ........ Yet despite all of it — the time, the tedium and the safety concerns — Abby feels compelled to keep scrolling, driven by a mix of optimism and the fear that if she logs off, she’ll miss her shot at meeting someone amazing. ......... “It really is almost like this part-time job.” ......... people in the throes of burnout tend to feel depleted and cynical. .......... 12 percent of Americans have married or been in a committed relationship with someone they met online ......... many people had used them to successfully find community and connection. ......... “After a decade of fruitless searching, I started to ask myself: What has all that time, all that effort, all that money, actually given me?” said Shani Silver, 40, a podcaster and the author of “A Single Revolution,” whose work focuses on changing negative societal narratives about being single. ......... Ms. Silver deleted her apps (Tinder, Bumble and Hinge), a decision she described as a kind of epiphany that was the “culmination of a decade of misery.” ........ The improvement in her mood and energy levels was swift and profound. Before she deleted the apps, she spent any moments of downtime swiping; after, she found she had time throughout the day to rest. She realized she had been feeling anger and resentment toward the happiness of others, and emotionally, mentally and physically drained by existing in a state of constant anticipation. ......... “Existing in that state of ‘any day now’ for an extremely extended period of time is incredibly unhealthy.” .......... “Are you using the apps to self-soothe anxiety and inadvertently making your anxiety worse? Are you afraid you can’t attain love, so you’re settling for hookups, and that’s making you unhappy?” ............ it can help to meet matches virtually before deciding whether it is worth the time and energy to meet in real life........ At first, the apps tended to give him an emotional boost — a rush of validation that temporarily masked feelings of boredom, isolation and loneliness. .......... “But actually what it was doing was eroding my mental health slowly” ....... “You start to feel very disposable. You start to feel like the promise of connection is just out of reach.” ...... “To me,” he said, “the fear is, ‘Oh gosh, if this relationship doesn’t work out, I’m back to square one of trolling dating apps, and putting myself through that nauseatingly tedious process all over again.’” .

From the Trenches in Ukraine, We Know Our Enemy Is in Shock Sometimes enemy forces are close enough that we can see them without binoculars. Sometimes they’re a few hundred feet away. ........ When the enemy begins to shell, its infantry starts to advance. ........ A large fragment of a 120-millimeter mortar round is about half the size of the palm of your hand, and heavy. It can punch through a bulletproof vest. ..... But the small, almost invisible pieces of shrapnel that get into the body are worse. ....... At the front line, emotions run the gamut. The adrenaline makes the eyes of some of the men almost glow. In others, the life seems to fade away. They stop being afraid but they also stop rejoicing. I’ve met soldiers with nothing but emptiness and indifference in their eyes. Soldiers in the trenches care deeply for one another, but the level of tension is so high that usually nobody cries when someone is injured or killed. ........... Anyone can be afraid. But the courageous master their fear and do not let others give in to it. .

City Life, Culture Wars and Conspiracy Theories Most of what you might want to do or buy is within easy walking distance. ....... walkable cities that take advantage of the possibilities of density. ........ What people who haven’t experienced a real urban lifestyle generally don’t get is how easy life is. Running errands is a snap; because you walk most places, you don’t worry about traffic jams or parking spaces. ....... the reality is that New York is one of the safest places in America. ........ there’s an unwritten rule in American politics that it’s OK for politicians to disparage big cities and their residents in a way that would be considered unforgivable if anyone did the same for rural areas. ......... There seems to be a widespread sense that only people living a car-centered lifestyle, or a pickup truck-centered lifestyle, are real Americans. ......... ......... But of course none of this is about rational argument. .

Bollywood's gender revolution: Women are rewriting the rules Exclusive Nikkei data analysis points to slow but significant change in India's prolific film industry ........ Bollywood superstar Deepika Padukone, playing a headstrong 14th-century Hindu queen clad sumptuously in red brocade and gemstones, commands dozens of women to follow her into a pit of fire in the finale of the 2018 blockbuster "Padmaavat.” ......... “Padmaavat” was the most expensive movie made with a female lead, it was massively successful at the box office, and it catapulted Padukone into a league of superstardom seldom held by women anywhere in the world. ........ an industry long known for portraying women as one-dimensional or secondary to the male stars, paying them a fraction and giving them a shelf life that rendered most unemployed by the age of 30. ........

a flagship industry that is the biggest cultural export of the world's most populous country.

........... Released in January 2018, "Padmaavat" retains the record for the biggest budget, and the highest revenue, for an Indian movie driven by a female lead. Made for $26.2 million, it raked in $66.7 million at the box office. ........ Speaking to Nikkei via Google Meet, she was modest, thoughtful and deliberate. “For me, it’s a little bit of the athlete mentality, I play the game and then I move forward, not thinking about the previous performance," the former national-level badminton player said......... "It had the right director, right cast, right story – the film got what it deserved." ........ India is home to more than 1.4 billion people, and its movies sell more than 2 billion tickets annually around the globe. Topping its myriad of religions are two that garner the most passion: cricket and film. ....... The nation’s three biggest male superstars are Muslim, including Shah Rukh Khan, whose six-story sea-facing mansion in the star-studded Mumbai neighborhood of Bandstand is the cause of frequent pedestrian traffic jams. Thousands throng to it each day hoping for a glimpse of their beloved “hero” – the preferred moniker for Bollywood’s male stars. .......... “It’s not that I’m thinking of writing a feminist story when I write,” Katariya said. “You write who you are and what you know. And I’ve never seen women around me who don’t have agency.” ........ For decades, female actors would stop being professionally relevant after their 30th birthday. But as more women are flooding into roles that write, roles that greenlight scripts and roles that finance those movies, women are reentering the spotlight and enjoying a midlife career renaissance. ........... But between the mushrooming of multiplex theaters and the maturing of streaming was a shift that was neither industrial nor technological – the evolution of the “three Khans.” ......... Fifteen years after her Bollywood debut in “Om Shanti Om,” where she was paired opposite a seasoned Shah Rukh Khan, Padukone is now fresh off the record-breaking success of “Pathaan,” once again with him. She is 37; he is 57. ............ “Even just in terms of value, respect…when a male actor asks for something [like an entourage], it gets done. When a female actor asks for the same thing, she’s being starry or throwing a tantrum. Or if a male star wants more time to prepare for a shoot, he’s professional. If a woman wants the same, she’s being unprofessional,” said Padukone, who has more than 30 movies under her belt. “I do command equality and respect, but it has taken time and years of effort to get to that place.” ......... The pandemic, with its monthslong lockdowns in India, accelerated the consumption of streaming content. And when India reopened, the country’s notoriously cheap data plans meant that everyone from the security guard on the graveyard shift to the domestic help traveling long distances by train to people’s homes, were all hooked to their screens. ........... “Streaming has helped a lot of progress in terms of narratives led by women,” said “Lipstick Under my Burkha” director Shrivastava. “It has opened up the space for much more nuanced and complex female characters even in shows [and movies] that are led by men.” ......... Shows like “Bombay Begums” on Netflix, written and directed by Shrivastava, and “Hush Hush” on Prime have also brought back female stars from the 1990s who were considered past their prime and are now delivering magnificent work in their 40s and 50s. .......... The first female supercop, “Lady Singham,” will be played by Padukone.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

25: India

My message in India: To fight climate change, improve global health Climate change and global health are inextricably linked. We need to make progress on both problems at the same time. ....... More than two decades ago, I set out to give the vast majority of my resources back to society. My goal from the beginning was to help reduce the awful inequities I saw around the world. ....... When I started this work, my biggest focus was global health, because it’s the worst inequity in the world and it’s a solvable problem. That’s still the case today. ........ Hotter temperatures will make poverty reduction harder by increasing food insecurity and the prevalence of infectious diseases and diverting resources away from those who need them the most ........ It’s no exaggeration to say that India’s agricultural future is growing right now in a field in Pusa. ....... The country eradicated polio, lowered HIV transmission, reduced poverty, cut infant mortality, and increased access to sanitation and financial services....... India has developed a world-leading approach to innovation that ensures solutions reach those who need them. When the rotavirus vaccine—which prevents the virus that causes many fatal cases of diarrhea—was too expensive to reach every child, India decided to make the vaccine themselves. They worked with experts and funders (including the Gates Foundation) to build factories and create large-scale delivery channels to distribute the vaccines. By 2021, 83 percent of 1-year-olds had been inoculated against rotavirus—and these low-cost vaccines are now being used in other countries around the world.

India is winning its war on human waste In India toilets are saving lives and boosting the economy. ....... Modi said: “We are living in the 21st century. Has it ever pained us that our mothers and sisters have to defecate in the open?... The poor womenfolk of the village wait for the night; until darkness descends, they can`t go out to defecate. What bodily torture they must be feeling, how many diseases that act might engender. Can`t we make arrangements for toilets for the dignity of our mothers and sisters?” ........

I can’t think of another time when a national leader has broached such a sensitive topic so frankly and so publicly.

........ installing 75 million toilets throughout the country—75 million! ...... Of the 1.7 million people worldwide who die from unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene each year, more than 600,000 are in India. A quarter of young girls there drop out of school because there’s no decent toilet available. When you factor in the deaths, sickness, and lost opportunity,

poor sanitation costs India more than $106 billion a year.

......... Indian researchers are testing a variety of new tools, including redesigned toilets that don’t require sewer systems and advanced ways to treat human waste. ......... In 2014, when Clean India began, just 42 percent of Indians had access to proper sanitation. Today 63 percent do. And the government has a detailed plan to finish the job by October 2, 2019, the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth. Officials know which states are on track and which are lagging behind, thanks to a robust reporting system that includes photographing and geotagging each newly installed toilet....... Even India’s currency features the Swachh Bharat logo. ......... Today more than 30 percent of Indian villages have been declared free of open defecation, up from 8 percent in 2015. ...... What I love most about Clean India is that it identified a big problem, got everyone working on it, and is using measurement to show where things need to be done differently. As the old saying goes, What gets measured gets done.

This War May Be Heading for a Cease-Fire On the battlefield, battered armies contest small strips of territory, at a terrible cost. ...... one war stands out for its relevance to the current blood bath in Ukraine: the war in Korea from 1950-53 ...... In Ukraine, an end to the war seems a long way off. ....... In Korea, the situation was similar: Neither North nor South Koreans, nor their sponsors, were in a hurry to end the war. But the conflict — which claimed as many as three million lives and destroyed entire cities — gradually fizzled out, leading to a cease-fire and a temporary division of the Korean Peninsula that proved more lasting than anyone could have imagined at the time. ......... North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950, soon capturing Seoul and pushing forward in a grand sweep that could well have ended with their capture of all of Korea. ....... It was clear by the summer of 1951 that the war was not going anywhere, yet it took two more years — punctuated by a lethal artillery barrage across the line of control and intermittent fighting — before the fighting was brought to an end. ......... many Chinese and North Korean prisoners of war showed no interest in being exchanged, preferring to stay with their captors. ........ It was only with Stalin’s death in March 1953 that Soviet leaders reconsidered the whole misadventure and prodded their allies toward an agreement. ......... Technically, the war is still frozen, not finished. ......... In the 1970s North Korea began to fall substantially behind in economic competition with the South. ........ if we have learned anything from the Korean War, it is that a frozen conflict is better than either an outright defeat or an exhausting war of attrition........ Today, the glittering metropolis of Seoul — savaged by the Korean War — stands as a reminder that it is not those who win the war who matter, but those who win the peace. .

Wonking Out: Conservatives Face a Rude Fiscal Awokening The document uses the word “woke” 77 times, and — weirdly for a fiscal blueprint — also manages to mention critical race theory 16 times. ........ the Florida officials who wanted to know whether the Advanced Placement course in African American history was “trying to advance Black Panther thinking.” ....... In modern America, however, some of the biggest beneficiaries of means-tested programs are rural white people — who also happen to be the core of the Republican base. ......... the beneficiaries of these programs are disproportionately children. Medicaid covers 39 percent of all American children under 18; in West Virginia, another almost all-white and very Trumpy part of the Eastern Heartland, the number is 46 percent. More than 65 percent of SNAP recipients are families with children. ........ Childhood safety net programs lead to improved outcomes in adulthood, including better health and greater economic self-sufficiency........ there’s another benefit to Medicaid, in particular: It helps keep rural hospitals alive. America has a growing crisis in simple availability of medical care in rural areas, presumably tied to the growing geographic divergence that has stranded places like eastern Kentucky. ......... Medicaid doesn’t just help its direct recipients; it helps anyone seeking medical care, by helping to keep hospitals afloat. .

Thursday, February 16, 2023

A World Marching Towards World War III

As hostilities intensify, Russian and Iranian cells are expected to take out lightly guarded soft targets in the U.S., including reservoirs, bridges, electrical grids, and fiber-optic cable systems – and insiders believe the attacks have already begun............ In the last three months, at least nine electrical substations have been attacked in North Carolina, Oregon, and Washington State, cutting power to tens of thousands of people and sparking a review of security standards for the national power grid.......... While three white supremacists recently pleaded guilty to conspiring to disrupt generating stations throughout America, key intelligence experts believe the domestic terrorists were following a path trail-blazed by Russian saboteurs.

How the Oscars and Grammys Thrive on the Lie of Meritocracy Despite all the markers of excellence, contenders like Danielle Deadwyler, Viola Davis and Beyoncé weren’t recognized for the highest honors. Niche awards don’t suffice. ........ Beyoncé, one of the most prolific and transformative artists of the 21st century, can win only in niche categories. Her music — a continually evolving and genre-defying sound — still can’t be seen as the standard-bearer for the universal. ......... Black women artists, despite their ingenuity, influence and, in Beyoncé’s case, unparalleled innovation, continue to be denied their highest honors. ........ the false myth of meritocracy upon which these institutions, their ceremonies and their gatekeepers thrive. ......... we saw a new Oscar strategy playing out before our eyes. A groundswell of fellow actors, including A-listers like Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet and even Cate Blanchett, who would go on to be nominated herself, publicly endorsed Riseborough’s performance on social media, at screenings and even at a prize ceremony. ......... “So it’s only the films and actors that can afford the campaigns that deserve recognition?” Ricci wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post. “Feels elitist and exclusive and frankly very backward to me.” ........ What fascinated me, however, was that what was being framed as a grass-roots campaign to circumvent studio marketing machines revealed another inside game. A racially homogeneous network of white Hollywood stars appeared to vote in a small but significant enough bloc to ensure their candidate was nominated. .......... As conceived by Dominik, Monroe merely flits from injury to injury, all in the service of making her downfall inevitable. ....... another pattern: Oscar voters continue to reward women’s emotional excess more than their restraint. In most films with best actress nominations this year, women’s anger as outbursts is a common thread .......... “Everything Everywhere All at Once” brilliantly explores it as both a response to IRS bureaucratic inefficacy and intergenerational tensions between a Chinese immigrant mother and her queer, Asian American daughter. ............ “Blonde” is again an exception, for de Armas’s Monroe expresses no external rage but sinks into depression and self-loathing, never directing her frustration at the many men who abuse her. .......... Unlike the main characters of the other films, Till-Mobley, in real life, had to repress her rational rage over the gruesome murder of her son, Emmett, to find justice and protect his legacy. Onscreen, Deadwyler captured that paradox by portraying Till-Mobley’s constantly shifting self and her struggle to privately grieve her son’s death while simultaneously being asked to speak on behalf of a burgeoning civil rights movement. ............

female protagonists are often lauded for falling apart.

............ even that assumes that all women’s emotions are treated equally, when the truth is that rage itself is racially coded ....... depict Black women’s rage as an individual emotion and a collective dissent, a combination that deviates from many on-screen representations of female anger as a downward spiral and self-destructive. ............... the “Till” director Chinonye Chukwu critiqued Hollywood on Instagram for its “unabashed misogyny towards Black women” ........ “What is this inability of Academy voters to see Black women, and their humanity, and their heroism, as relatable to themselves?” ......... there are far more Black women directors and complex Black women characters on the big screen than ever before

At the Oscar Nominees Luncheon, a Crowd in Cruise Control The “Top Gun: Maverick” star and producer is mobbed as Austin Butler, Angela Bassett, Ke Huy Quan and others angle to chat with him........ lk into the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton. ....... Cruise even posed for pictures with Steven Spielberg, a once-frequent collaborator whom the star has not been publicly photographed with in over a decade. ..... there was no mistaking Cruise as the ballroom’s top dog ........ In the schmoozy hour before lunch was served, he was so mobbed by his fellow nominees that he was hardly able to move more than a few feet. ........ I watched for a while as “Elvis” star Austin Butler drifted with slow, inexorable determination toward Cruise, who finally pulled the younger man toward him by clamping a hand on his shoulder like a stapler. ....... Yang pleaded with the nominees to keep their speeches short: “We need to be sensitive to our running time,” she said. “This is live television, after all.” .......... “I’ve been acting since I was 19 and I’m 64 — do the math,” Curtis told me. “That’s many years of watching this photograph being taken.” Her late parents, the actors Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, had both been Oscar nominees. “To be connected through this legacy of their work and my work and now being included here, it’s very powerful,” she said. ......... “I’ve got one more expression,” shouted best-actor nominee Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”). ...... “We talked about how we both did very badly at school,” she said, “and now here we are, at the coolest graduation picture ever.”

What Should I Do About a Neighbor Who Verbally Abused Her Child? A reader who overheard a neighbor shouting cruelties at her young son wonders whether, and how, to intervene.

‘Our Losses Were Gigantic’: Life in a Sacrificial Russian Assault Wave Poorly trained Russian soldiers captured by Ukraine describe being used as cannon fodder by commanders throwing waves of bodies into an assault........ The soldiers were sitting ducks, sent forth by Russian commanders to act essentially as human cannon fodder in an assault. ........ relying on overwhelming manpower, much of it comprising inexperienced, poorly trained conscripts, regardless of the high rate of casualties. ........ two main uses of the conscripts in these assaults: as “storm troops” who move in waves, followed by more experienced Russian fighters; and as intentional targets, to draw fire and thus identify Ukrainian positions to hit with artillery. ....... “The next group would follow after a pause of 15 or 20 minutes, then another, then another.” ........... By luck, the bullets missed him, he said. He lay in the dark until he was captured by Ukrainians who slipped into the buffer area between the two trench lines. ......... The soldiers in Sergei’s squad were recruited from penal colonies by the private military company known as Wagner, whose forces have mostly been deployed in the Bakhmut area. There, they have enabled Russian lines to move forward slowly, cutting key resupply roads for the Ukrainian Army. ........ Russia’s deployment of former convicts is a dark chapter in a vicious war. Russia Behind Bars, a prison rights group, has estimated that as many as 50,000 Russian prisoners have been recruited since last summer, with most sent to the battle for Bakhmut. ........... Russia has deployed about 320,000 soldiers in Ukraine, according to Ukraine’s military intelligence agency. An additional 150,000 are in training camps, officials said, meaning there is the potential for half a million soldiers to join the offensive. ........

But using infantry to storm trenches, redolent of World War I, brings high casualties.

......... Russia’s regular army this month began recruiting convicts in exchange for pardons, shifting the practice on the Russian side in the war from the Wagner private army to the military. ......... rates of wounded and killed at around 70 percent in battalions featuring former convicts ......... over the past two weeks, Russia had probably suffered its highest rate of casualties since the first week of the invasion. ......... “Nobody could ever believe such a thing could exist,” Sergei said of Wagner tactics. .......... The soldiers arrived at the front straight from Russia’s penal colony system, which is rife with abuse and where obedience to harsh codes of conduct in a violent setting is enforced by prison gangs and guards alike. The same sense of beaten subjugation persists at the front ........... enabling commanders to send soldiers forward on

hopeless, human wave attacks

. ................ “We are nobody and have no rights.” ......... Sergei said he had worked as a cellphone tower technician in a far-northern Siberian city, living with his wife and three children. In the interview, he admitted to dealing marijuana and meth, for which he was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2020. ......... was not offered to rapists and drug addicts, but murderers, burglars and other prisoners were welcome. .......... On the night of Jan. 1, they were commanded to advance 500 yards along the tree line, then dig in and wait for a subsequent wave to arrive. One soldier carried a light machine gun. The others were armed with only assault rifles and hand grenades. ........... “It’s effective. Yes, they have heavy losses. But with these heavy losses, they sometimes advance.” ........... they are being used to conserve tanks and armored personnel carriers for the expected offensive. But they could also serve as a template for wider fighting. .......... are herded into the battlefield by harsh discipline: “They have orders, and they cannot disobey orders, especially in Wagner.” .......... “They brought us to a basement, divided us into five-person groups and, though we hadn’t been trained, told us to run ahead, as far as we could go” ............ From his time as a stretcher bearer, he said, he estimated that half of the men in each assault were wounded or killed, with shrapnel and bullet wounds the most common injuries. .........