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Weekly Digest #63

Updated: Nov 1, 2021



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In this digest-


1. (Article) Whale Hunting- Tradition Vs Modernity- Part 2


2. Happiness Quotient from around the world


3. Did you Know


4. (NEW!) Music to be Mused By- Album Review: Equals by Ed Sheeran







-Cover Story-


Whale Hunting: Tradition Vs Modernity -Part 2


By Abhimanyu Rao

\If you missed part 1 of the article, read it in Weekly Digest #62 to get a background on what I’m talking about!

The Faroe Islands

In the Faroe Islands, the activity of hunting pilot whales (grindadráp), and also other aquatic mammals like dolphins is still prevalent. The practice is currently considered sustainable, but even though that is true, there are many ethical questions, especially with the method.


Firstly, while it is sustainable (for now), is it correct? While hunting itself is already a controversy, the way that this hunting takes place is actually a horrifying aspect. The whales/dolphins are all herded into one area, and then they are slaughtered with knives. Post that, they are dragged onto the shore, where all parts of their bodies are evenly distributed amongst the people who participated in the hunting process.




Long finned pilot whales possess a complex vocal repertoire and create their own dialects, making them highly intelligent creatures and this process is shocking. As recently as September 2021, a massive hunt on The Faroe Islands caused a huge uproar from activists worldwide, because more than 1400 dolphins were murdered in a single day! The administration claimed that they thought that it was a much smaller pod of dolphins that they had herded, however, they were wrong.

Seeing pictures from the day was terrifying, as the only things visible were people, dead dolphins, and a sea stained with blood! Pilot whales are intelligent and have strong social ties. Ironically, it is these strong social ties that stop them from abandoning their injured / captured fellow creatures, which means that the rest of them also follow and end up being killed.


The issue with this practice is the fact that people who engage in this whaling are exceptionally ignorant towards the effects and the backlash of their doings. They keep on repeating the fact that it is sustainable, but never directly engage with the backlash they face, and have not even tried to try and discuss with conservationists, which is really shocking.


While this practice continues on the Faroe Islands and Greenland, hunting of pilot whales was common in other countries like Japan, Norway, Ireland and the Caribbean. The North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission has come up with some half-hearted restrictions such as the manner in which hooks may be inserted into the blowholes of whales, but such “restrictions” are not worded firmly enough to prevent the torture of these creatures.


Studies have shown that the levels of Mercury found in the bodies of pilot whales make them an unhealthy food item. This is another counter to the argument that “our people have always eaten this item and this is essential for us.”

There was a time when whale meat was distributed equally among the local community, but today even if such free distribution takes place, the products are often sold by such recipients, making it a commercial activity and not the altruistic pursuit it was claimed to be.



Lastly, it is inexcusable to hide behind tradition to support cruelty. Surely, technology has evolved enough to empower humans with equipment that kills animals in a humane manner. To continue with torturing creatures in the name of tradition is not an argument that can be supported.

The only constant is change” is an adage we have read and heard. There is definitely a case to be made for tradition to evolve in a manner that is not unjust to anyone involved.




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By: Mihir Rao

1 . Reports show that there has been a substantial increase in the number of Monarch Butterflies in coastal California. This is great, since the number of butterflies reached an all time low last year. The numbers went from around 2000, to over 10000, which is good news for the species.

2 . After Mohammed Shami, a bowler for the Indian Cricket team, received hateful comments on social media, Virat Kohli reprimanded the trolls and said that attacking someone on the basis of their religion was the most pathetic a human being could do. Backing up Shami 100%, he also said that he didn’t want to waste one minute on the trolls because their lack of self confidence led them to insult Shami.

3 . One of the many changes that President Joe Biden made to the Build Back Better plan was about forests. Since wildfires are a big problem in the United States and conserving forests is of key importance, more than half of the 27 billion dollars assigned for the plan is going towards preventing wildfires. This is a great change for the forests and for the ecosystem overall!

4 . Despite the Delta variant causing a surge in COVID-19 cases, the vaccines are still working! Earlier this year, results showed that the vaccine wasn’t really working, but they actually have held up well against COVID.

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By: Agastya Rao

1. Trains are always great, and constructing them can be more fruitful than previously thought of. During the construction of a train in Mexico, Ancient Mayan artefacts were unearthed! Using GPS and Lidar imaging they found these artefacts. They are dated between 700 BC- 850 AD. Imagine how many ancient artefacts and structures are still underground!


2. Another bit of information about railways. While constructing a railway line in the UK, ancient Roman statues were found. Three ‘busts’ (Statues, not flops). These were found at a site at Saint Mary’s Normans church. Also unearthed was a 1000 year old Roman Jug. Trains keep leading to ancient stuff, and it sounds incredibly cool!


3. Scientists thought that Wooly Mammoths had become extinct 14,000 years ago, but new studies now show that they stayed around for longer, and were walking around 9,800 years ago. This is not only news about Mammoths but also about horses, steppe bison and many other animals from the Arctic. This new information has come to light after scientists took over 500 samples of sediment and permafrost from Siberia, Canada, Scandinavia, and Alaska.

4. The biggest planet in our Solar System is Jupiter. Astronomers have now found a young planet that is BIGGER than Jupiter. Yes, a young planet that is bigger than the biggest planet in our Solar System, and was originally seen in 2018. Its orbit is bigger than that of the Earth around the Sun and the planet is in a space called the Taurus Cloud known as a stellar nursery. These new planet discoveries keep getting cooler.


5. The Aurora Borealis has been known to be exclusive to the Arctic circle. Because of a recent eruption of a Solar Flare, which may lead to the Aurora Borealis being visible in Europe and the United States of America. A strong geomagnetic storm will also make the Aurora Borealis visible in Europe and the USA. It is also possible that the Aurora Australis will also be visible from Australia to New Zealand.

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Music To be Mused by: Album Review- ‘Equals’ by Ed Sheeran

By: Agastya Rao


Photo Credit to variety.com and Atlantic Records


“An upbeat and certified hit, which still has to figure a few things out”

Ed Sheeran has released his long awaited album and a follow up to his 2019 album No 6 collaborations Project, to release his album Equals. This album holds high expectations from both critics and fans alike as it has to keep up with the lofty success of his 2017 album Divide. Does it surpass expectations?


The Music


1. Tides- The album opens with a guitar-heavy song “Tides” which is an ode to the old acoustic guitar favouring Ed Sheeran combined with a falsetto, and fast paced guitar! The lyrics talk about the change that he has gone through and the birth of his daughter. This song will bring a wave of nostalgia to Ed’s fans who remember his 2017 song Castle on the Hill. (8/10 )


2. Shivers- Next on the tracklist is his catchy UK number 1 single “Shivers”, which is a pop song with a catchy beat going on behind his vocals. Co-produced and Co-written by Steve Mac (the co-writer/producer of “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran and “Happier” by Marshmello and Bastille). It stayed at number 1 in the UK for a month! While it is not as popular as the lead single “Bad Habits”, it's definitely a great song! (9/10)


3. First Times- A much slower song compared to the upbeat Tides and Shivers, the song is addressed to his wife about all the memories they have made and hope to make. Accompanied with a slow strummed acoustic guitar, and violins playing in the background this is pretty great, but doesn’t fully fit with the upbeat speed of the album. But then again, you can’t fault Ed Sheeran with an acoustic guitar. (7/10)


4. Bad Habits- Arguably one of the best tracks on this album, with a whopping 11 weeks at Number 1 in the UK. With an R&B-esque production behind the song, it is definitely a hit, accompanied with a Vampire-esque music video the song makes for a compelling listen. Once again his vocals shine through the song accompanied with a thumping drum beat, incredibly catchy. Though in my personal (and unpopular) opinion, Shivers is better than this track. (9/10)


5. Overpass Graffiti- The second I pressed “play” on this song it immediately reminded me of The Weeknd’s hit song Blinding Lights, with almost the same opening drum beat along with an R&B voice and production behind it. While the song may not sound 100% original, it is an R&B inspired album as many of the tracks are not a particularly bad song, and it does come with a HILARIOUS music video. R&B Ed Sheeran is not bad at all. (8/10)


6. The Joker and the Queen- Not my most favourite or liked song on this LP, and it’s quite simple with an acoustic guitar, piano and violin (That is the highlight of the song). The song is slow and like a love ballad which I feel doesn’t fit with the aesthetic of where the album was going through in Bad Habits and Shivers. Still, Ed Sheeran sounds pretty good in this song. (7/10)


7. Leave your Life- The song starts off with an interesting beat and once again Ed’s voice shines through the song. Not one of his best songs, but not bad either, because it does seem like something that has already been done before. (7/10)


8. Collide- This track starts off very upbeat and stays that way throughout the entire song. It has a great beat as well. It's a song about life experiences, and makes for a good listen. (8/10)


9. 2Step- I for one found this song incredibly catchy. It starts out with a simple acoustic guitar, but quickly gets combined with a drum beat and Ed Sheeran rapping (Sort of). Yup, Ed sheern raps through this song, and gives a callback to his song Gallway Girl from his album Divide except with a more upbeat and disco tune to it. (9/10)


10. Stop the Rain- This song starts off in a cliched way sadly. It's not a bad song, but feels very ordinary. The song continues however in an upbeat way along with a great percussion beat behind it. His vocals in the song are, as usual- amazing. (7/10)


11. Love in Slow Motion- Another acoustic Ed Sheeran song which is pretty good! It isn’t very R&B or extremely upbeat but is an enjoyable song and reminds me of one of his previous albums X, except reinvented to make it a little upbeat. (8/10)


12. Visiting Hours- This song was written by Ed Sheeran for a friend of his who passed away (the late Michael Gudinski who was an Australian music executive.) The song is incredibly sad (in terms of its vibe) and isn’t one written for chart success, but is full of raw emotion. (8/10)


13. Sandman- This song is playful and cute, and is written for Ed Sheeran’s daughter as a lullaby. It is a simple song with a simple ukulele and sounds 100% like a lullaby. It is a good song, but I feel that it doesn’t fit with the album’s aesthetic. (7/10)


14. Be Right Now- Ed Sheeran closes his album with another upbeat song, which starts off with an upbeat and R&B beginning. It doesn’t quite sound like what you would hear in an Ed Sheeran album but it's there. It's not a bad song, but the song feels messed up within itself and with the album, and doesn’t quite fit in. (6/10)


The album is pretty good, but it isn’t equal (See what I did there) to his previous hit albums - ‘Divide and Multiply’, it doesn’t quite match up. While the songs aren’t bad, and this album will attain commercial success, for me it's not Ed Sheeran’s best work. He still is only 30 years old and has many years of music ahead of him, and his talent is not in question, and neither is his voice.


Highlight Tracks- 2Step, Bad Habits, Shivers


Verdict- 3.5/5

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By: Abhimanyu Rao


1. The Statue of Liberty was formally dedicated to the citizens of the USA in 1886, by the erstwhile POTUS, and remains a symbol of unity and freedom even today!


2.The 27th of October was the death anniversary of trailblazing physicist Lise Meitner, who defied gender norms, shattered the glass ceiling, and was instrumental in the discovery of Nuclear Fission. She passed away in 1968.


3. The LARGEST NUCLEAR WEAPON EVER was set off 60 years ago. The Tsar Bomba was tested on an island called Novaya Zemlya, and created the largest explosion caused by humans ever!

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Entertainment quotient for the week:


Netflix

  • A Tale Dark and Grim

Disney+

  • Fauci (Documentary)


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