Bold start. Smooth finish. The newsletter that interesting people love.
Good morning! Who’s your most notorious ancestor? I sadly don’t know of any meaningful lawbreakers I can claim my lineage to. But did you know that Jackie Kennedy might have been a descendant of a real-world Jack Sparrow? Meet the pirate legend and the Nigerian fashion queen beating Amazon at its game today. Get ready to fly in planes that use filth to clean up their act, and try fun board games from around the world. Read to the end for the answer to last Wednesday’s quiz.
Of a crisis — and of new hope. California Gov. Gavin Newsom warned Monday that America’s largest state might have to move back into lockdown soon amid a spike in COVID-19 cases that has led to record hospitalizations. All as U.S. pharma firm Moderna applied for emergency authorization for its vaccine, days after Pfizer did the same. (Sources: LA Times, BBC)
2. Daggers Drawn
This is peak 2020. In a year marked by actual death and devastation, China and Australia are fighting over a doctored image shared on social media by a Chinese official showing an Australian soldier slashing the throat of an Afghan child, in a reference to a recent war crimes report. Beijing has refused to apologize. (Source: Al Jazeera)
3. Four Days a Week
“I ain’t got nothing but work, babe … four days a week.” It’s time to tweak the iconic Beatles song. Unilever has given us another reason to move to New Zealand, where it’s testing a four-day work week for its employees. Meanwhile, Dubai’s planning to lure investments by decriminalizing alcohol consumption. (Sources: CNN, FT)
4. Amazon Grace
Is it time for a memorial to one of the planet’s great natural wonders? Brazil’s Amazon rainforest suffered deforestation in 2019 at the highest levels in 12 years amid the anti-conservation policies of President Jair Bolsonaro. (Source: Guardian)
They’re rabbit-sized bundles of cuteness. But don’t make the mistake of kissing theAfrican crested rat: It could be the kiss of death. Scientists have discovered that the rodents — found in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda — suck toxins from poisonous plants and then slather them over their fur to deter predators.
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The 36-year-old Indian engineer with cropped hair and a ready smile is challenging the giants of the private space industry, promising something Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ OneWeb can’t offer yet. Her startup Astrome is building satellite transponders that have 11 times more capacity than traditional transponders, and could revolutionize internet access in remote parts of the world. Read more on OZY.
The coolest new streaming platform is finally here. With CuriosityStream you can dive into history and explore nonfiction films and series. Interested in something else? They have thousands of documentaries on topics ranging from food to space exploration to animals. Best of all, for a limited time, OZY readers can spark their curiosity and get a full year of access for only $1.25 per month with an annual plan using code OZY.
Funky Flying Future
As the world slowly starts flying again, a battered aviation industry must confront its reputation as a major polluter. But science is offering up fascinating fuels and technologies that might soon make a difference.
Don’t turn up your nose — this could save the planet. Japan Airlines plans to use fuel made from household waste on its flights between Japan and the U.S. from 2022. It has invested $8.6 million in a startup that’s developing recycled aviation fuel. Think about it: The plane’s toilets could become its new engine.
Those charged particles you read about in high school chemistry? It turns out they can fly a plane. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are usingwinds generated by the flow of ions to propel planes without moving parts, increasing their efficiency. Could this be the future?
3. Weird-Shaped Planes
What if a plane had just one giant wing? The shape of passenger airplanes has remained almost unchanged for decades. Now American and Dutch researchers and giants Airbus and Boeing are testing bizarre new designs that could dramatically cut fuel consumption. Read more on OZY.
We tend to take our nations for granted. These fascinating, short-lived nations not only didn’t survive — they rarely even make it into history books.
Jack Sparrow wasn’t a patch on them. The 17th century Republic of Salé in present-day Morocco relied on piracy as its chief economic engine.The short-lived nation — it merged with Morocco after five years — would target ships across the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. And the legacy of its founder, a Dutch pirate called Jan Janszoon, lives on: according to pirate legend, he’s an ancestor to Humphrey Bogart and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
2. Rubber Rebellion
Arubber boom in the then-Bolivian state of Acre in the 19th century drew Brazilian migrants who seized control and set up an independent Republic of Acre. It lasted less than a year before Brazilian troops intervened, defeated the rebels and gave Acre back to Bolivia. But the rebels attacked twice more. In the end, Brazil incorporated Acre as a part of its own territory in 1903.
She’s hilarious. She’s inappropriate. She’s Kathy Griffin. Watch the Guinness World Record holder for most stand-up comedy specials describe herself later today as a “comedy zombie,” and talk about being interviewed by the U.S. Secret Service over that infamous Trump photo.
Great Board Games
They’ve kept me sane during the pandemic, and brought my weekends alive. The best part? There are always new — and old, if you think about it — board games to fall in love with. Here are three.
1. Yut Nori
Instead of dice, this Korean family game relies on four wooden sticks, with one face flat, and the other rounded. You throw them in the air and move your four tokens on the board based on how many sticks land with the flat side up. The aim is to race your tokens — each represents a farm animal — around the board first. Watch this tutorial.
It means “the frog” in Spanish. A small statue of the amphibian, its mouth open, sits at the top of a board with other holes in this game that’s originally from Peru. You and your opponent throw coins from a distance. You get maximum points — and luck, according to tradition — if they go into the frog’s mouth. Watch.
On Thursday, we asked you to match popular names to places where you might hear them. Here are the answers:
Ivan H., Vicki S., Barbara J., Louise S., Irena Z., Alexandre I., Jennifer P., Linda F., Annette T., Georgina R., Bert P., James R., Steve W., Csilla B., Gabriela P., Brenda M., Matt D., Jane L, Shelley S., Jon T., Michael G., Jacqueline T., Arlene M., Danelle P., Timothy S., Anne B., Lorenzo H., Jacki T., Jill N., Cathay S., Peter F., Paulette W., Gus R. and Renee B. — congratulations!