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Survival of the fittest: Oprah and Michael Jordan got rich by completely dominating the incredibly competitive fields of TV talk shows and professional basketball respectively

There’s a lot of important stuff I need to blog about but it’s that time of year again.  Forbes has released their annual list of the World’s billionaires, and Oprah continues to tower as the ONLY black in the history of the developed World to be a multibillionaire (since multimillionaires by definition are worth several million or more, multibillionaire are worth several BILLION or more: $3 billion and above).

With a net worth of $3 billion, Oprah is quite simply the richest descendant of black slaves in human history.  The closest competition are high tech geek Robert Smith with a net worth of $2.5 billion and basketball superstar Michael Jordan, with a net worth of $1.31 billion.

Capitalism is a metaphor for evolution in that the same traits that allowed our ancestors to survive in the Darwinian struggle, are also what make people rich today.  This makes sense because wealth is just an extreme form of survival.  You need wealth (in the form of material goods like food, shelter, and clothing) to stay alive, so extreme wealth is just extreme survival, or living the good life as they say.

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As we evolved from monkey to man, brains got bigger, bodies got taller and more coordinated and tool use got more advanced

When one looks at our evolution from monkey to man, it’s clear that the same traits that were selected by survival of the fittest, are also selected by capitalism.  For example, as the image shows, brain size roughly tripled because it allowed for more intelligence, and we see that even today, Oprah’s superhuman cranial capacity may have helped give her the intelligence so instrumental in getting rich.

But brain size is not the only physical trait human evolution rewarded, as the above image shows. There was also selection for greater height and physical coordination, and the fact that super tall and coordinated Michael Jordan is the third richest black in the developed World, implies that capitalism continues to reward what the now defunct  survival of the fittest used to reward.

Thirdly human evolution was characterized by increased tool use, and the fact that high tech geek Robert Smith is the second richest black in the developed World,  shows capitalism rewards technological prowess.

But one of the biggest things that evolution rewarded was our ability to talk and interact socially, and once again, no one personifies those gifts more than talk show queen Oprah Winfrey.

But talking is hardly Oprah’s only talent.  She’s also one of the best actors in show business,  and critics are already gushing over Oprah’s devastatingly brilliant performance in a new HBO movie airing tomorrow called The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks.

Oprah plays Deborah Lacks, a woman who discovers that her mother Henrietta’s cells were taken without her permission and used to cure diseases and make gazillions of dollars for the pharmaceutical companies, while the Lacks family struggles in poverty.

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The performance of the decade: Critics are stunned by Oprah’s fluid and nuanced portrayal of Dorothy Lacks

I have mixed feelings about this.  On the one hand there’s something terribly unjust about pharmaceutical companies raking in cash off the cells of a poor woman who got zero compensation.  On the other hand, part of the price we must all must pay for the medical care we are lucky enough to receive is that scientists are free to do what they want with the leftovers.

Having been the biggest celebrity in America for 25 years, Oprah was eager to retire into a behind the scenes role when she ended her talk show in 2011, and so she had no intention of starring in this film, instead suggesting a lot of up and coming actresses to play the part of Dorothy Lacks, however HBO, would have none of it.  “We want you,” she was told by the top HBO execs.  It’s hard to think of another actor who has the intelligence to pull off such a subtle and nuanced role or the celebrity status to make a TV movie a blockbuster.

Just watching the trailer gives me goose bumps.  My favorite part is when Oprah’s character says of her dead mother’ who remains anonymous despite her cells changing the World, “you famous, just nobody knows it.” HAHAHA, could say the same about me.

 

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