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It was “Toxic” for me. The iconic Britney Spears song, of course. Her aura was never lost on this avid hip-hop fan and, back then, hormonal teen. And when I watched the video for theIn the Zone album that track came from, that’s when I said to myself: “That’s one cold white girl.” But lately, the princess of pop hasn’t done so hot. Today, we look at other stars, like Britney, who have been muzzled, plus some indie Latin American films you shouldn’t miss and the Black inventions we should never forget.
Ever since Beijing’s spring 2020 incursions into the Ladakh region and a bloody hand-to-hand clash on the disputed Himalayan border between India and China in June, the two nations have been in a tense military standoff. But today the neighbors relieved some of that pressure, New Delhi announced, agreeing to pull back troops from Pangong Lake, which is nearly 14,000 feet above sea level. (Sources: Reuters, Al Jazeera)
2. Scene of the Crime
House impeachment managers prosecuting former President Donald Trump showed harrowing new footage yesterday in the second day of his trial, juxtaposing Trump’s statements with those of legislators being rushed out of the Capitol Jan. 6. One segment showed Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman warning Sen. Mitt Romney to retreat from an oncoming mob of Trump supporters. (Sources: NYT, AP)
3. Lion Lady
Women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul, 31, was released from a Saudi prison Wednesday after being held for more than 1,000 days on what critics called trumped-up charges — signaling Riyadh may be trying to win points with the Biden administration. Al-Hathloul, described by one human rights leader as a “lion of a lady,” is famous for challenging the country’s ban on women driving, which has since been reversed. (Sources: NYT, CNN)
4. Rough Ride
Uber, the ride-hailing titan, reported $6.8 billion in 2020 losses as rapid growth in its food delivery business couldn’t outpace the crash in travel demand during the pandemic. Yet that deficit was an improvement on 2019, when Uber leaked $8.5 billion, leading CFO Nelson Chai to declare that they were cruising toward profitability in 2021. (Sources: FT (sub), Yahoo)
Whale of a Commute
Ever play the “snake” game on your phone? Then you’re familiar with the type of hectic, zig-zagging path a feeding blue whale recently had to take while dodging moving ships in a busy Chilean gulf. It was shown in a visualization published as part of a study tracking how whales play bumper cars with as many as 1,000 vessels a day during the busy summer months.
Back-to-back involuntary psychiatric holds in 2013 and 2014 led this famous Nickelodeon star’s parents to seize control over her affairs. And while she regained financial say in 2017, her mother maintains conservatorship over her “person.” For instance, even though she’s engaged to her boyfriend, Paul Michael, the 34-year-old actress is unable to marry him without parental permission. Bynes has spoken out about her strict conservatorship, even as her parents have requested she remains in a controlled environment.
2. Casey Kasem
The tug of war for conservatorship over the former radio icon was not pretty, as his children waged legal war against his wife, Kerri, of more than 30 years — accusing her of keeping them from seeing the "American Top 40" legend leading up to his death. And while the kids were eventually appointed the caretakers of his estate prior to his passing, they later raised concerns over alleged abuse from their stepmother.
3. Kanye West
Could he be next? Although never enacted, talks of Kim Kardashian assuming conservatorship over Kanye West’s estate began to pick up around the time he announced his ill-fated presidential bid. West, who is bipolar and was placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold in 2016 for a “psychiatric emergency,” has not had any actionable episodes since. But West has always flirted with the line between control and what society perceives as going off the rails.
Going to the store and blindly choosing a wine because you’re charmed by the label feels antiquated now, thanks to our friends at Bright Cellars. These MIT grads created a custom algorithm that finds the perfect wine for you. Just take their palate quiz and you’ll get wine selected just for you delivered to your doorstep. Sign up now to get $45 off your first order of 6 wines.
The Britney documentary was produced by the New York Times and aired on Hulu, showing once more how everything’s changed about how we entertain ourselves. So, what’s up next?
1. Blame Gaming
Someone once described the software industry as a license to print money. But if you look at streaming and what we’ve streamed for fun — first music and now television and film — it would only be natural that gaming and the software that drives it become the enemy. Not at all. Games will soon pass video streaming in global internet traffic.
2. Next Up: Fantasy Sports
If you can get your head around people watching other people play video games, is it really a bridge too far to know that fantasy sports are conquering India? The growth has been so explosive — hello, fantasy cricket! — that regulation might be needed. And in America and Canada, where 60 million people are playing fantastical, phantasmagorical games, they even have their own association, which isn’t so surprising when you realize that fantasy teams generated $14.4 billion in 2020.
3. Welcome to the Matrix
Augmented reality and virtual reality could soon stream on an experience platform with live events, virtual spaces, as you move around without the need for third-party providers. Industry estimates have such reality-adjacent services earning $20 billion in 2021. Which means you soon could be naked, floating in a pod somewhere, your brain jacked into a world that after a certain point, would seem more real than this one.
Forgotten Black Inventions
It’s Black History month but, lest you forget, “Black History” is often simply American history — particularly with these culture-defining creations.
Philip Downing’s patented prototype provided convenience while protecting letters from theft and the elements. Little did he know his 1891 vision would become the key predecessor to the mailbox models we use today, saving us all a trip to the Post Office.
2. Super Soaker
Kids love it, and parents run from it. Regardless, thank or blame Dr. Lonnie Johnson, the 71-year-old NASA scientist and engineer with over 100 patents, from a thermoelectric energy convertor to a thin film lithium battery. Ironically, his most famous — and definitely most fun — invention was created by accident, while trying to heat water without Freon. His test pumps packed a punch, leading to history’s best-selling water guns.
3. The Big Scoop
The idea of an “Ice Cream Mold and Disher” dawned on Alfred L. Cralle, the son of a carpenter, while working for a hotel drugstore in Pittsburgh, with his main objective to simply keep the cream from sticking. Although he never collected a dime in profits, his genius invention in 1897 has saved many a strained scooper’s wrists.
Tune in to OZY’s Latest Podcast
Based on the HISTORY channel documentary series, OZY and HISTORY are proud to bring you your new podcast obsession: The Food That Built America. Hear about the bold visionaries behind some of the most recognizable brands on the planet. We start with chemical genius and opium addict John Pemberton and a brilliant pharmacist-turned-promoter, Asa Candler, who transformed an obscure soda tonic into one of the most recognizable brands on the planet: Coca-Cola. Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever else you get your podcasts.
Summer White in English, this gripping coming-of-age drama from first-time producer Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson follows a teenage introvert who feels his bond with his mother is in jeopardy after a new man enters the scene. Unsettled, the boy intentionally misbehaves, lashing out in a series of chaotic acts while learning to share his mother’s love for the first time.
2. ‘Sin Señas Particulares’
Fernanda Valadez's newest film, Identifying Features, follows a woman searching for her son after he leaves Mexico for work in the United States. As two months pass, authorities believe him to be dead, but she ventures across the treacherous landscape by foot anyway, eluding countless armed bandits to find him. Released this year, this chilling depiction of the American immigration crisis will have you on the edge of your seat.
3. ‘The Mole Agent’
Who do you hire when you’re worried about suspicious behavior at a nursing home? An 83-year-old detective, that’s who. The Netflix documentary tracks Sergio, who poses as a resident in a Chilean nursing home to investigate possible elder abuse. Armed with a camera-equipped pen, his assignment goes well until he becomes too involved in the lives of several residents, providing a quirky and light-hearted look at age and the complexities that come with it.
Eugene Robinson, Editor-At-Large, added his flavor to this Whiskey in YourCoffee.