Barbie Land Dispute

Barbie's Dash for Cash, Addiction Cure-all?

The much-hyped Barbie Movie is described like this: “Barbie and Ken are having the time of their lives in the colorful and seemingly perfect world of Barbie Land. However, when they get a chance to go to the real world, they soon discover the joys and perils of living among humans.” One of those perils is that very few humans look like Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. Another peril: geopolitics. The impending blockbuster has been causing some international strife, especially in Vietnam, where the movie has been banned because of a map that appears in the movie. “Shown for only a split second, the map looks as if it were drawn by a child — one who likes bright colors and has failed geography class. Among a mess of shapes and scribbles, one oddly specific detail stood out to reviewers from Vietnam’s National Film Evaluation Council: a dotted, U-shaped trail crossing into the ocean from what’s supposed to be China. As far as the council is concerned, this is no ordinary doodle, but a clear and deliberate representation of the so-called nine-dash line: a maritime boundary demarcating Beijing’s contested ownership of the South China Sea.” This perceived affront is actually part of a broader story, and a bigger deal, explained here by Tim Brinkhof in Vox. How Hollywood appeases China, explained by the Barbie movie.

+ While the broader issue is real, Barbie and Ken might be innocent of these charges. After “two review sessions, thorough deliberations, and consultations with relevant government agencies, including a legal expert on the West Philippine Sea,” the Philippine government’s Movie and Television Review and Classification Board is convinced that the map “does not depict the nine-dash line, but rather ‘portrayed the route of the make-believe journey of Barbie from Barbie Land to the ‘real world,’ as an integral part of the story.'” Also, they only counted eight dashes. Thus, they’ve agreed to allow the movie as long as the scene featuring the map, that has been deemed inoffensive, is blurred. There’s of course a broader lesson in all of this: If you’re having the time of your life in the colorful and seemingly perfect world of Barbie Land, stay there.


Won’t You Be My Neighbor

“After that first encounter, Ms. Dupuy would hear Ms. Sullivan through the apartment’s walls, singing — show tunes? There was a sort of lovely peculiarity about this woman, an eccentricity that was inviting. And boy, did she have stories. There was the time she was working as a singer and dancer at the Tropicana in Las Vegas in the 1950s and a pilot with a crew cut invited her to watch a planned detonation of an atomic bomb in the desert. She would never forget that cloud, that boom.” Sheila Sullivan has plenty of stories, but this one is about her (and it’s definitely worth a read). NYT (Gift Article): The Glamorous Stranger Next Door Knew Everyone. And She Needed Help. (This is no ordinary eviction story. Or maybe it is…)


Pangs in the Balance

Ozempic was originally introduced as a drug to help lower blood sugar levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes. By now you know that patients also lowered their weight, and thus Ozempic is in high demand. But what if Ozempic cuts your appetite for substances other than food? Scientific American: Could New Weight-Loss Drugs like Ozempic Treat Addiction? “An increasing number of people who use these injections to help control their food cravings say other cravings disappear as well—including ones for nicotine, alcohol, gambling, skin picking and other compulsive behaviors.”


Capital Offense

Is there anything that could make America’s current health care more expensive? Here’s your answer from the NYT (Gift Article): Who Employs Your Doctor? Increasingly, a Private Equity Firm. “In more than a quarter of local markets — in places like Tucson, Ariz.; Columbus, Ohio; and Providence, R.I. — a single private equity firm owned more than 30 percent of practices in a given specialty in 2021. In 13 percent of the markets, the firms owned groups employing more than half the local specialists. The medical groups were associated with higher prices in their respective markets.” When these guys come at your backside with a rubber glove, it’s not your prostate they’re after, it’s your wallet.


Extra, Extra

Over the Counter Revolution: “The Food and Drug Administration approved a daily oral contraceptive pill for use without a prescription on Thursday, a landmark event that comes as some U.S. states have sought to restrict access to birth control and abortion.” So women can decide how they want to handle their own reproductive system? What a concept.

+ Detention Camps: “Thousands of Ukrainian civilians are being detained across Russia and the Ukrainian territories it occupies, in centers ranging from brand-new wings in Russian prisons to clammy basements … And Russia is planning to hold possibly thousands more. A Russian government document obtained by The Associated Press dating to January outlined plans to create 25 new prison colonies and six other detention centers.” These crimes are all too familiar. One thing the world can do: train more Ukrainian soldiers. A short video from the NYT (Free): How to Give Ukraine’s Army of Bakers and Plumbers a Fighting Chance.

+ Slow Your Binge: “In a statement, the union said that the negotiating committee had voted unanimously to recommend a strike.” Actors are set to join striking writers. The ‘Oppenheimer’ Cast Left the U.K. Premiere as SAG-AFTRA Strike Imminent.

+ Lock Up and Throw Away the Crypto Key: “Alex Mashinsky, the founder and former CEO of bankrupt cryptocurrency lender Celsius Network, was arrested and charged with fraud.” (At this point, I hope the phones in prison take crypto.)

+ Not What We Meant By Windy City: Today in weather: “A tornado touched down near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, prompting passengers to take shelter and disrupting hundreds of flights. ”

+ Elon’s Wage Match: NYT: “The lawsuit accuses Twitter and Musk of violating a federal law regulating employee benefit plans. Twitter has already been sued for allegedly failing to pay severance, but those cases involve breach of contract claims and not the benefits law.” Twitter owes ex-employees $500 million in severance, lawsuit claims. “Twitter no longer has a media relations department. The company responded to a request for comment with a poop emoji.” (What a genius.)

+ Legal Brief: “Many young people in Italy are expressing outrage on social media, after a judge cleared a school caretaker of groping a teenager, because it did not last long enough.” Italian uproar over judge’s 10-second groping rule.


Bottom of the News

The Tortoise and the Heir: “It’s like a piece of property or some family heirloom. You have to make those arrangements of where things go. You don’t just leave it to chance.” WSJ (Gift Article): Tortoise-Estate Planning—One Chore of Having a Pet That Lives 100 Years.

+ If you thought that otter stealing surfboards is messing around, check this out.

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