News: Unroll.Me Has Been Selling User Data

Unroll.Me has been highly recommended in several blogs I follow for simplifying and managing your email inbox. Basically, it accesses your gmail and collates all the email newsletters you have subscribed to and then asks if you want to subscribe to them or unsubscribe. If you still wish to be subscribed, it collates them all in 1 newsletter for you to go through it at one go.

I have used Unroll.Me to unsubscribe but have immediately removed the app from my account. I am surprised and upset that user’s inboxes were scanned and data was being sold to various companies.

To be safer in the future, it is best to restrict access of third-party apps like Unroll.Me and Boomerang to your emails. They are free. Of course, they are going to earn money in some other way. Also, this opens you up to hacking and vulnerabilities that cannot be controlled by your email provider.

The NYT article is here. The Guardian article is here. I actually learnt about this yesterday when reading NYT’s article on Uber and its business practices. It seems less and less  like a nice company.

Note: Sorry about my long absence from blogging. I didn’t really feel like blogging due to some personal reasons. 

News: High Rates of Suicide Among Indian Housewives

Why are so many Indian housewives killing themselves? Because a lot of them have no other way out of such a patriarchal system. They have no freedom in any sense from economic to mental and no support from their own families or their husbands.

Some excerpts:

‘More than 20,000 housewives took their lives in India in 2014.’

‘Yet the high number of homemakers killing themselves doesn’t make front page news in the way farmer suicides do, year after year.’

‘Dr Vikram Patel, a leading Goa-based psychiatrist and professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who co-authored the Lancet study, tells me that the high rate of housewife suicides in India can be attributed to a double whammy of “gender and discrimination”.

Many women face arranged marriages by force. They have dreams and aspirations, but they often do not get supportive spouses. Sometimes their parents don’t support them either. They are trapped in a difficult system and social milieu,” he says.’

What can we do to improve this? Promote gender equality in every sense.

News: Air Pollution Kills 5 Million Death per Year

I was shocked to read that air pollution kills 5 million people/year and 1.4 million of those are from India! I knew China has a huge pollution problem and it is constantly discussed and at the forefront while in India this issue does not receive much attention save a few news articles once in a while. Do take note that this data is from 2014. Who knows the number of deaths has increased in the past 2 years.

We need to acknowledge the issue and do something about it. Another issue Indian needs to work on fast along with a dozen other problems *sigh* 

News: Intolerantly Tolerant India

I was blissfully ignoring useless news like outrage over Bollywood actors’ comments and stuff like that until some popped up in my timeline.

Comments on how Aamir Khan should go back to Pakistan, how he could make movies like PK, he can never do those things in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, how tolerant  India is, how our constitution guarantees secularism ‘unlike other countries’ etc.

My views:

  1. What an intolerant reaction to his comments proving that we are indeed intolerant!
  2. Anytime someone criticizes India, why do we jump to compare ourselves with (non democratic) countries like Pakistan or Saudi? There are over 190 countries in the world and we cherry pick the most intolerant countries and compare ourselves to them and make ourselves feel better. Why doesn’t anybody pick other countries like Switzerland/Sweden to compare to? Because it makes us feel better comparing ourselves to the lowest ranking countries than the 150 who are ahead of us?
  3. Another standard argument is claiming India was so ‘insert any nice adjective’ according to our scriptures 2000 years ago as if that negates the need for improvement now. It does not matter how great things were 2000 years ago, what matter is the situation now and how we can improve it today. There is nothing wrong in being proud of our past but that should not stop us from progressing in the present.
  4. Stating what is granted in our constitution is futile. We have many things but a lot of it is not implemented. How swift is our action against racial/religious crimes? 
  5. I just did not get the idiots who were wasting their time gathering outside Aamir Khan’s house protesting. People hang outside to get a glimpse of all the actors when somebody goes to jail (for like 2 days) for potential hit and run and not protest but protest when people express their views. I feel this kind of joblessness is one of the reasons our country hasn’t progressed.
  6. Now people are sharing posts on why they will boycott brands endorsed by Aamir and Shahrukh because of their statements because they insulted India. How come nobody boycotts brands endorsed by Salman by the same token? So what do support when you buy brands endorsed by Salman? Hit and run? A justice system than bends for movie stars and gives them bail super fast?

Note: Gross generalization ahead but there is plenty of at least some truth in it.

It is the same all over Asia. From this end to the other. From personal relationships to nations. We just cannot accept honest criticism.

  1. We prefer brushing things under the carpet.
  2. We take offense and take is personally without really reflecting when anybody criticizes us. Worse if the said person is an outsider.
  3. We take a worse offender as an example, compare ourselves to them and feel superior.
  4. We cannot accept the truth about ourselves. 

How can anything/anyone improve until they can objectively look at their flaws and work on them.  

Admitting that there is a problem is the first step to solving it. 

News: Gay marriage declared legal across US

Uncle told me the news  that gay marriage was legalised all over the USA by the supreme court just before we went to sleep.

I checked the news and FB next day and my news feed was full of the same news and many people changing their profile pictures to celebrate the news. Hmm…I wonder how many people really know or care about it instead of just following the trend for changing the profile pic just like ALS ice bucket challenge? Of course, there will always be negative Nellies spouting their wisdom. One more country is better than one less country right?! Every step towards progress has to be celebrated because we are better off today than yesterday.

In case you are wondering (or new to the blog) I am glad that they have finally legalised it because love rules 🙂 Also, I believe sexuality can largely be genetic and I do not believe people should be punished for their genes. I mean, how many of us spent time deciding we will be attracted only to the opposite gender?

To be honest, even the cynical me was touched to see photos of so many happy couples overjoyed at the ruling.  Couples who waited decades for their relationships to be legal.

I am hoping it will happen soon in India as well. 

News: Scientist advises student to put up with leering

I read this article and I could not believe somebody gave that advice on ‘Science’ or maybe I can. Scientists are equally sexist and participate in patriarchy as much as we like to believe they do not. Science later removed the article.

Excerpts from the article – 

“Dear Alice,

Q: I’ve just joined a new lab for my second postdoc. It’s a good lab. I’m happy with my project. I think it could really lead to some good results. My adviser is a good scientist, and he seems like a nice guy. Here’s the problem: Whenever we meet in his office, I catch him trying to look down my shirt. Not that this matters, but he’s married. “

“Dear Bothered,

A: Your adviser may not even be aware of what he is doing.

As long as your adviser does not move on to other advances, I suggest you put up with it, with good humor if you can.

Alice Huang; PhD

Science removed this article but Bloomberg still has it. Read more at link.

Mother Exchange Program

I saw this video being shared on FB about mother exchange program. 

The ad shows 2 mothers (A & B) whose sons are living in different cities(Chennai & Jodhpur). The mothers talk to each other over the phone and exchange their son’s favourite recipes. The mother in Jodhpur cooks sambar for the other lady’s son who is studying in Jodhpur. The mother in Chennai cooks Ghatte ki sabzi for the lady’s son who is studying in Chennai. I checked who commented the most on the video and it was mostly guys.

The Plus:

1. It is a good idea as in parents exchange.

2. Sentimental and tear jerking (not for me but for many people judging from the comments).

3. It is indeed a nice gesture to have that done to you. Need not be food per se.

The Minus:

1. Why only show sons? Why not one girl in Jodhpur and one boy in Chennai?

2. Why should only mothers cook? When will sons learn to cook for themselves and their parents? Their wives will take over the mothers?

3. Reinforces gender stereotypes and that does not make me feel good.

4. It is disappointing how most ads play upon sentiments of people and just keep on reinforcing gender stereotypes.