Bold start. Smooth finish. The newsletter that interesting people love.
This week, I tried to make my grandma’s famous chocolate Christmas cookies, which are acknowledged in our family as a masterpiece — but the recipe she gave me did not work. Is this a ploy to get me to call more, Grandma? I’m going to try it again today (with a few modifications), so stay tuned. In the meantime, read on for secret Santas, the world’s coolest crayons, a potential way to improve your eyesight and some really great insults. Start with OZY’s specially curated Hump Day playlist.
President Donald Trump is yet to concede defeat but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden, saying “The electoral college has spoken.” As have the presidents of Brazil and Mexico, who finally acknowledged Biden’s win weeks after most other world leaders. Also a long time coming: a new COVID-19 relief package, on which lawmakers are finally making headway. But what about relief from home eviction that expires at the end of the month? That’s set to disproportionately hurt Black and Latino tenants. (Sources: WaPo, Guardian, Reuters, Politico)
2. Another Shot
Food and Drug Administration documents released yesterday described the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as safe, which means authorization for use is expected any day now. The agency has also authorized a quick home test for the virus that people can buy over the counter and read themselves. Meanwhile, authorities say there’s no reason to worry about a new variant of COVID-19 spreading in the U.K. — there’s no evidence that it’s more dangerous or that it will be resistant to the vaccines. (Sources: Reuters, WaPo, BBC)
3. Off the Ground
India’s national airline, Air India can’t seem to make a profit — so the government is working to sell off its stake in the company. One group bidding would give a controlling interest to the airline’s workers. That’s one company but America and China are continuing their battle to control their trade relationship. U.S. investment index compiler MSCI plans to remove seven Chinese firms from the index. (Sources: BBC, FT)
4. City of Women
What happened to “Vive la différence?” Paris now has so many women in positions of power — 69 percent! — that it’s been fined 90,000 euros for breaking diversity quota rules. Surely they’re in the process of punishing several hundred years of history any day now. And speaking of women in charge, Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife MacKenzie Scott has given away more than $4 billion in four months (though her wealth has risen $24 billion this year, so Venmo us some of that, MacKenzie!) Should administrations with more women in power than men be penalized? Vote on Twitter. (Sources: NPR, BBC)
Be Good for Goodness Sake
You don’t have to be a billionaire to give. Witness this small-town secret Santa ...
Someone with a lot of Christmas spirit walked into a Tennessee Walmart last week at 6 a.m. and made a donation of nearly $65,000 to pay off the balance on all the store’s layaway items. Strangers who awoke to emails that the items they were saving for were ready for pickup were imbued with a new faith in their fellow humans. Probably.
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Maybe Roxanneshould put on that red light. Researchers at University College London conducted a small study this summer that asked participants to stare into a red LED light for three minutes a day — and found that it improved the ability to see in dim light and detect colors in people over the age of 40. Vision problems are expected to triple in the next three decades as populations age, so cheap and cheerful solutions could keep the future rosy.
2. Pandemic Problems
Around the world, an estimated three in four cases of blindness and visual impairment are treatable. But the World Economic Forum is warning that COVID-19 has forced the cancelation of myriad eye health programs targeted at developing countries, which means millions might succumb to avoidable blindness.
3. A Little Brains, a Little Talent
For most people, blindness is the result of damage to the nerves that connect the retina to the back part of the brain. Spanish neuro-engineer Eduardo Fernandez has created an implant that plugs into the back of the skull and has allowed blind people in labs to see rudimentary shapes and lights.
Today on ‘The Carlos Watson Show’
Carlos is joined by the fiery and fearless Rep. Maxine Waters — who is exasperated. Waters gives insight into the government’s handling of the COVID pandemic, voices her struggles to understand those holding their desire for power over our democratic system, and speaks boldly about our need to end poverty. Who does she say is the best politician she’s ever met? Watch later today to find out.
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They're Righting Wrongs
We’re surrounded by bad news — terrorist group Boko Haram, for instance, has claimed responsibility for abducting hundreds of Nigerian school children last week. But read about these female human rights activists who are offering inspiration, fixing what’s broken in the world, bit by bit.
This Togolese firebrand is following in her father’s footsteps, opposing the authoritarian ruler who tortured her activist dad. The 30-year-old has been working to oust President Faure Gnassingbé for a decade, using her social media following even as she’s been forced into exile in the U.S. Read more on OZY.
2. Rez Gardi
Born in a refugee camp in Pakistan, this 29-year-old Kurd (her family had fled Saddam Hussein’s Iraq) emigrated to New Zealand in 1998. Now the first Kurdish person to graduate from Harvard Law School, she’s become an activist for refugee education as she works to prosecute ISIS for its genocidal treatment of Iraq’s Yazidi minority.
3. Hasina Kharbhih
Her life as an activist began at birth, with her father housing refugees in their house. From there, Kharbhih founded a NGO that’s now rescued an estimated 72,000 human trafficking victims and partners with governments across the world to not just free victims, but to offer them restitution and a way back into normal life. Read more on OZY.
Forget the world’s most expensive pens. You should get the coolest, weirdest pens.
What good is getting into virtual reality if you can’t make your mark on it? VR companies Wacom and Logitech are both bringing out styluses that’ll allow developers to draw in 3D while they explore virtual worlds.
2. Forget Crayola
Alaska-based artist and designer Keetra Dean Dixon manufactures these sculptural, multi-colored crayons which are practically art works themselves. If crayons aren’t your jam, her plans next year include the release of a ballpoint pen.
3. Hagoromo Chalk
This Japanese cult favorite — popular among mathematicians, who often order it in bulk, for its durability and buttery texture — is hurting during the pandemic as classrooms go virtual. But the small-scale manufacturer has survived hard times before: It almost closed a few years ago before the founder sold it to a South Korean chalk enthusiast, who moved the manufacturing process (which involves an udon noodle machine) near the demilitarized zone.
Fun Foreign Insults
Blow off some steam by learning some new insults with this little quiz
In which languages would you hear these insults?
1) I dream of farting on you!
2) Go drink seawater!
3) Become dust!
4) Go pick little coconuts!
a. Arabic b. Brazilian Portuguese c. Bosnian d. Turkish