"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
Hi, this is Greg Powell. I hope you'll enjoy one or more of these interesting topics from the world of business and beyond. Dan Powell, my son and collaborator, has researched the articles and written the summaries, so this is not a boilerplate message. We'd like to give you a weekly break to learn about something cool or, better yet, 5 Cool Things.


How Ross Perot Befriended Steve Jobs and Helped Bring Us the iPhone (Fast Company)

Ross Perot, the billionaire 1990s third-party presidential candidate, died this week at 89. The founder of computer company Electronic Data Systems, he’s today remembered as something of a proto-Donald Trump, a businessman outsider who promised to shake up the system. But Perot also played a role in the creation of the ultimate game-changer in modern life, the iPhone. When Steve Jobs was ousted from his leadership role at Apple in the 1980s, he founded a new computer company called NeXT, in which Perot invested, receiving a 16% stake and a seat on the board of directors. While the relationship between the two mercurial tycoons was rather short-lived, when Jobs returned to Apple he used NeXT software to create both Apple’s OSX operating system as well as the iOS system used in the iPhone. Read more…

New Coke Didn’t Fail. It Was Murdered. (Mother Jones)

New Coke. It’s a name synonymous with failure, like Olestra potato chips or the Ford Pinto. But with the recent reissue that Coca-Cola developed for TV series Stranger Things, people have been trying New Coke again — and finding that it’s actually not that bad. So what happened? The downfall of New Coke wasn’t due to its taste, but to a powerful resistance of traditionally minded consumers to change. Despite market research that showed most people preferred the new flavor, executives overlooked the effects that a small but highly vocal minority could have on public opinion. The result was an embarrassing retraction for the company, and a lesson for anyone hoping to create or maintain a popular brand. Read more…

NASA Successfully Tests Orion Launch Abort System Before Moon Flights (Space Flight Now)

Flying under the radar in the run-up to July 4th celebrations was NASA’s test of an important system for its new Artemis space program. Called the “launch abort system”, it’s a small tower that sits atop the Orion crew capsule. The abort motor is designed to pull the capsule away from the rocket in the event of a launch failure, orienting the heat shield toward the ground so that parachutes can deploy and bring astronauts back to Earth safely. The overall design is visually quite similar to NASA’s 60s-era Apollo program, albeit containing much more advanced technology. The next step for NASA engineers will be called Artemis 1, an automated trip around the moon and back, followed by Artemis 2 in 2022 or 2023, with the goal of sending astronauts into moon orbit. Read more…


Can We Abolish Time? (The Outline)

Sommarøy is a Norwegian village with a population of just 350, at a northern latitude that results in long stretches of darkness in winter and constant sunshine in the summer. Recently, residents began a campaign with the ambitious and very Nordic aim of “abolishing time” — legalizing activity of any sort, at any time, without adherence to a clock. “Our goal is to provide full flexibility. If you want to cut the lawn at 4 a.m., then do it.” Doing away with time might be easier for a town where available light is so variable with the seasons, but the idea provides an opportunity to reflect on the ways that our lives are ruled by the social structures associated with clock time. Read more…


Wide Sargasso Seaweed: 5,500-Mile Algae Belt Keeps On Growing (The Guardian)

In the 1400s, Christopher Columbus and his crew reported vast tracts of seaweed floating in the central Atlantic Ocean. Known as sargassum, the seaweed provided the name for the region: the Sargasso Sea. Today, sargassum growth has been turbo-charged by warming oceans and nutrients from human activity on land, and it’s beginning to span the ocean with sprawling mats that block sunlight below the water and create a stinking mess on beaches. Weighing 20 million tons, it’s the largest macroalgae bloom in the world. Read more…



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See you next week!
            - Greg
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