Reading Lounge

1. Why does biryani mean so much to so many people on the Indian subcontinent?

2. Leprosy identified in wild chimpanzees for the first time

3. Art Blakey in Africa

4. The Last Papuan Mummies

5. On “paradoxical” fat deposits

6. FedEx: Two Bets on Network Effects – oh, and coal

Finally those billion dollar valuations make sense

The majority of ride-hailing app users use them sparingly. While about 3 in 10 (28%) claim they use them at least once a week, more than two-fifths (45%) say they use them only a few times per year and only about one-quarter (23%) say they have used them once or twice per month.

That’s from “Who Uses Ride-Hailing Apps?“.

On yuan, mingyuan, foyuan, bingyuan, liyuan, and yiyuan, IOW Chinese women

We feel we have neglected the Eastern hemisphere a little and in particular their women. So without further ado we ask, How “A Chinese Word Describing ‘Beautiful Women’ Is Taking an Ugly Turn“.

“The Chinese word yuan refers to “beautiful women.” But the word’s recent usage, especially on social media platforms, is anything but complimentary.

Over the past few weeks, social media users and some state media outlets have adopted the term and paired it with another word to mock women they see as engaged in attention-seeking activities online. Although people have long harbored negative perceptions of mingyuan — or “socialites” — accusing them of flaunting fake wealth, the word took on another connotation last month when pictures of fashionable women posing for photos at Buddhist temples went viral on Chinese social media.

The backlash against the women, labeled foyuan — which loosely translates to “female Buddhist socialite” in English — was swift, with many social media users accusing them of capitalizing on religion for profit, which is illegal in China. Before long, social platforms such as Douyin and Xiaohongshu banned the accounts of prominent foyuan and deleted their posts for indulging in marketing purposes.

But the disappearance of foyuan online has been replaced by campaigns against female influencers deemed too pretty or inappropriately dressed for their situations. Terms such as bingyuanliyuan, and yiyuan, or “bedridden beauties,” “socialite divorcees,” and “pretty doctors,” respectively, have exploded on social media.”

It’s a wild, wild world on the social networks. Full post here.

Wu Bai & China Blue

We make a side trip to Taiwan to meet Wu Bai.

Born Wu Jun-lin in Xindian, Taipei, Wu Bai grew up primarily in the village of Suantou—meaning “garlic village”—in rural Chiayi. There are many apocryphal stories about where he got his nickname, but the most commonly heard one is that it came from scoring a perfect one-hundred in five subjects when he was a kid. 

After flunking his university exams, Wu Bai moved to Taipei to turn to music. He worked a number of odd jobs: insurance salesman, streetside vendor, and clerking in musical instrument stores. Reportedly, Wu was fired multiple times for practicing the guitar on company time, instead of trying to sell to customers. 

Wu describes his style as “lonely,” “dark”, and “sad”. More here.

BNPL? A centuries old concept

It’s called ‘marriage’. Or as Sue Anderson of the debt charity StepChange said:

“Buy now, pay later services don’t give individuals enough time or protection to stop, pause and understand the consequences of their purchase. Sometimes this even means people end up using BNPL at the online checkout without actually realising they have signed up.”

Sounds familiar?