Bold start. Smooth finish. The newsletter that interesting people love.
Happy Friday! When we travel, my wife and I make it a point to send postcards to close family. It turns out we can now do that — without traveling. It’s not the only surreal experience I have for you today: You’ll meet China’s king of magical realism who lets his name do the talking, learn about daring new economic ideas and sip on a superhot Peruvian cocktail. Read to the end for the answer to Wednesday’s question.
No matter what Led Zeppelin said, it’s not a good idea at the moment. What has come to California is a strict new stay-at-home order as hospitals start running out of beds amid a COVID-19 surge. Italy has banned travel between cities over Christmas, while South Korea recorded a nine-month high in daily cases. (Sources: ABC, Yahoo News, Reuters)
2. Bounceback Brazil
The second-largest economy in the Americas is staging a dramatic turnaround. It grew at 7.7 percent in the year’s third quarter after a sharp contraction, driven by a massive cash payment scheme from President Jair Bolsonaro. Speaking of turnarounds, the U.S. Department of Justice is now seeking a deal with senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou — currently under arrest in Canada — that would allow her to return home to China if she pleads guilty to some charges. (Sources: FT, WSJ)
3. Dusty Answer
After six years and nearly 4 billion miles — that’s equivalent to 1.5 million rounds of the Earth — Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 will land in Australia over the weekend, bringing back rare dust from a distant asteroid that could offer clues to life in outer space. (Source: Guardian)
4. You’ve Been Warnered
Warner Bros. has decided to air all its 2021 movies on HBO Max the same day they’re released in cinemas. Will the theater industry survive? Vote on Twitter. (Source: CNN)
So what if we can’t travel at the moment? Two Mali-based entrepreneurs are working with unemployed tour guides to send postcards on your behalf from Timbuktu, the ancient city often mistaken as fictional. You’d have to go all the way to Timbuktu to find a better holiday gift for your loved ones who are missing travel.
She can find hope even amid war. When a 5-year-old Moore fled from Liberia to escape the civil war that started in 1989, her father and grandmother convinced her the gunshots she could hear were actually fighting dragons to help her deal with the horrors of the conflict. Three decades later, Moore is using the magical realism that helped her as a child, penning a new hope-filled history for the nation. The 35-year-old’s celebrated debut novel She Would Be King is about three strangers with supernatural powers who beat back invaders trying to enslave Liberia.
2. Samanta Schweblin
People communicate through stuffed robot toys they can operate remotely. That’s the setting for Schweblin’s latest novel, Little Eyes. Her other books and characters can be unsettling too, from the girl who eats live birds to the mother who spits out an almond-sized baby. Yet the 42-year-old from Buenos Aires who hates talking about her books is among the most respected magical realists of our times and her stories are surreal parables for our modern world.
3. Mo Yan
His pen name means “don’t speak.” The 65-year-old Chinese Nobel Laureate uses brushes instead of a computer to write 500,000-word books. He has faced criticism for not taking on the Communist Party directly, but his magic-imbued books include strong critiques of modern China, whether it’s sexism or the one-child policy. And his chosen name, which refers to an old saying that warns citizens not to speak up, is the ultimate riposte to authoritarianism.
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’
Megyn Kelly has been shunned by both the left and the right. Today, she joins Carlos to discuss her decision to speak out against Roger Ailes — a man she loved — and why she thinks the Black Lives Matter and MeToo movements are ineffective. Watch later today.
Fresh Economic Ideas
Earlier this week, Unilever announced four-day work weeks in New Zealand. Here are some other provocative new economic ideas to chew over this weekend.
What if both capitalism and Marxism are enemies of economic equality? Perhaps the answer lies in an Alaskan experiment. The state’s Permanent Fund, which is neither government-owned nor private, guarantees all Alaskan residents an equal, annual dividend from revenue earned through oil extraction in the state. Apply that principle to economic exploitation of all common resources — minerals, the seas, the skies — and we might have a more equal world.
Sweden has the world's second-most unicorns per capita after Silicon Valley. Tunisia is Africa's startup hub less than a decade after the tumult of the Arab Spring. They share national policies under which employees are paid their wages for up to a year of leave, with their jobs — private or public — secure, while they pursue entrepreneurial dreams. The idea? Societies must share the risks of innovations they’ll eventually benefit from. Read more on OZY.
What do you think — should America introduce an “entrepreneur-nity” leave too?
That rarity also made purple the color of choice for royals. Queen Elizabeth I banned anyone other than close relatives of the royal family from wearing purple. And Roman Emperor Aurelian prevented his wife from buying a purple shawl: It was too expensive even for them.
3. Purple Rain
The chief inheritor of the color from kings and queens? Prince. So much so that Pantone released a special shade in the singer’s memory after he died in 2017. And South African police unleashed torrents of purple dye on anti-apartheid protesters in 1989 to identify them later, but the activists hijacked the hose and turned it back on symbols of the ruling party. It came to be known as the Purple Rain protest.
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.
Winter’s coming. Add some heat to your cocktails to make them even more delicious.
It’s the classic Peruvian cocktail — with a twist that’s sure to awaken all your senses. Infuse habanero peppers — once the hottest chiles in the world — into the syrup. It actually balances the cocktail’s tart taste brilliantly. And it’ll leave you sweating for more.
2. Chai-Spiced Toddy
Ask anyone in southern India or Sri Lankaand they’ll tell you there’s no better fix for the common cold than a hot toddy. That is unless you spice it up with some black pepper, cardamom, a cinnamon stick, some orange zest and black tea. You’ll be smiling, that fever and runny nose forgotten.
This Norwegian drink appropriately means vigorous in Old Norse. Place a coin at the bottom of a glass. Fill it with strong, hot coffee until you can’t see the coin. Then add moonshine until it resurfaces! Watch.
We asked you on Wednesday to name the French murderer of Vietnamese-Indian origin who escaped prison with the help of a cat. The answer? Charles Sobhraj (read about his escape on OZY). Salvis T., Ojo A., Deepa R.N., Chynna, Laura A., Lorenzo H., Martha C., Jonathan M., Nan B. and Barbara J. — congratulations!