If our tax dollars were put to proper and more pertinent use -- instead of wasteful go-nowhere pursuits such as health care, debt relief, etc. -- scientists may have already come up with an answer to this timeless question that affects us all.
As it is, the clock is ticking on our most precious of commodities.
We've already lost Christina Aguilera, who's now little more than a poster girl for penicillin.
As for Britney Spears, there's still a glimmer hope.
Most people -- pundits, late-night talk show hosts, a guy I sat next to on the bus, his friend -- think her career is over and there's nothing left to salvage.
Granted, her last album didn't do as well as it should have and her good name has been soiled and sullied (soilied?) thanks to Fred Durst's lurid and graphic tales of wild sex, newspaper reports of cocaine abuse and nipple-piercing parties, and other alleged bad girl behaviour.
But look at her. Look deep inside of Britney's heart and you'll see the pop princess and her career are still very much alive. A new album is on the way, and with it, hopefully, the dawn of a new and refreshed Britney.
So, with the goal being the betterment of all mankind, here are a six suggestions for the Oops girl on how she can survive, prosper, and, in doing so, further enrich all of our lives.
Get back with Justin: They were our Kennedys, our Taylor and Burton, our Smokey and the Bandit (I, II and II!) -- made for each other and meant to be together. There have been many reports of her attempts at reconciliation despite being linked to everyone from Durst to Colin Farrell. And look at the clues there are to how obsessed he still is with her: That video where he's stalking a Britney body double; a tour with her nemesis Christina in an obvious attempt to make her jealous; the bum-fondling of Kylie Minogue which came across as hollow and a rather sad. He's trying so hard to say he still loves her. And it's not too late. Someone just needs to lock these crazy kids in a room together so they can sort everything out and get back to making magic.
Cover up, girlfriend!: How does that old saying go? Why buy the milk when you can see pictures and video of the cow dressed in tube tops and low slung jeans and thrusting its crotch towards the camera for free. Part of Britney's early charm was the mystery and the wholesome image she presented wearing pigtails and a school girl uniform. There was no hidden meaning, or sexual undercurrent -- it was all about purity. And if there's one thing I've learned in my 32 years on God's green earth, it's that nothing sells like chastity and propriety.
Embrace an entirely new musical style: Pop music may be dead, but there are so many other styles suited to her talents. New country, for example would welcome a superstar of Spears' calibre. Get some banjos, patriotic songs, put her on a horse and no one would be asking O Britney, Where Art Thou? Or beat Durst at his own game -- female rap rock. Both she and the near-dead meathead musical genre would reap the benefits. Better yet -- jazz pop! If the Grammys proved one thing this year -- other than insomnia can be cured -- it's that jazz pop is hot, hot, hot. Norah Jones is alright I suppose, but she doesn't have the kind of shazam! and wowza! needed to become the capital 'S' star we all demand from our true artists.
Go Vegas!: And I'm not talking the sweaty, leather-clad Elvis Vegas comeback special, but the Celine Dion style of Vegas show! Taking that stance and approach would give off the impression that her career was in fine shape. Costumes, dance numbers, explosions, albino tigers, magic, children's choirs and songs. Pure dynamite, pure Britney!
Uncle Sam wants you Britney -- to join the U.S.O.!: I don't think you'll find one sailor or armed forces member who hasn't spent time, alone, in a foxhole thinking about Britney and her talents as an artist. With the impending war, those numbers will increase significantly with young men, just out of high school who are ready to die for ... something. She should go to those lonely G.I.s aching for a taste of home and ask them to surrender to her overwhelming pop music might! Note: It also sets her up for the obligatory Iraq War film soundtracks that preproduction work has already begun for.
Last resort: Playboy. Yes, I know it goes against pretty much every previous bit of advice I've offered. But I look at it this way: If you're going to go down in flames, you might as well follow every other well-built hasbeen and do it naked.
Album sales in Canada, (Nielsen SoundScan): ...Baby One More Time - 922,820 copies; Oops! ...I Did It Again - 710,044 copies; and Britney - 316,944 copies.
Feb. 2002: Film debut Crossroads bombs at box office.
March '02: Breaks up with longtime beau Justin Timberlake.
May '02: Parents split up.
July '02: Walks off stage in Mexico, ending tour prematurely.
Aug. '02: Announces six-month hiatus from the music business.
Nov. '02: Ends hiatus and bails out of her New York restaurant.
Jan. '03: Romantically linked to bad boy Fred Durst which she then denies setting off two months of insults and innuendo.