"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
07/09/20
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.


5G Was Going to Unite the World—Instead It’s Tearing Us Apart (Wired)

Perhaps some adults can still remember the 2010s era optimism of an “internet of things” powered by ever-faster wireless technology. Or maybe you recall hearing about how the internet could help us grow more connected as a global community. We’re definitely hitting the first hurdles on the road to progress in recent years, and the rollout of 5G wireless technology is emblematic of the way that concerns over nationalism and security have affected 21st century technology advancements. While the 4G standards that the world uses today were mostly developed by US firms, Chinese companies like Huawei are mainly responsible for 5G technical standards, employing industrial espionage and cybertheft to gain an advantage over a standard which is supposed to be shared among all nations. While most countries seem to be following the US’ lead in resisting Chinese domination of 5G development, further conflict risks a future in which such international cooperation is compromised, leading to fragmentation of the internet itself. Read more…

 

How to Stop Your Glasses From Fogging Up When You Wear a Mask (The Verge)

So you’ve been doing your part to stop Covid’s spread by wearing a mask, but you still need to be able to see — and your breath keeps fogging up your glasses! This modern annoyance hasn’t gone unnoticed. Here are some strategies to prevent the world from looking like the Golden Gate bridge on a foggy day. The solution might lie in simply sourcing a better-fitting mask with a nose bridge — or perhaps a treatment of some kind, even soap and water on the lenses, could keep the fog away. Either way, it seems likely that we’ll see more products and solutions in the near future designed to combat this fresh nuisance. Read more…

 

Nearly Half the U.S. Population is Without a Job, Showing How Far the Labor Recovery Has to Go (CNBC)

As we’ve pointed out before, the economic drama of the past decade, from tariffs to pandemics, may be rather disconcerting, but it will make for some epic Ph.D. dissertations. We all know at least a few people in our circles who’ve either lost a job, been furloughed, or have experienced other hardships in the past several months. While certain government officials have been crowing over June’s reduction in the unemployment rate, it’s always important to note that this figure doesn’t tell the full story. According to a metric known as the employment-population ratio, which measures unemployment against the US adult population, 47.2% of Americans are unemployed. That’s an absolutely staggering, Great Depression-level figure that simply doesn’t square with projections of a healthy, v-shaped economic recovery. “To get the employment-to-population ratio back to where it was at its peak in 2000 we need to create 30 million jobs,” says Torsten Slok, Deutsche Bank’s chief economist. And it’s all the more reason to keep stimulus flowing for working Americans, who power consumer demand and economic growth. Read more…

 

When Did Americans Lose Their British Accents? (Mental Floss)

For nations that share a common language, British and Americans exhibit quite different accents and language style. While we can never know for sure exactly how these dialects began to diverge, it seems that a major driver for the change was the adoption of a style called non-rhotic — that is pronouncing the letter r in words such as “hard”. Rhotic, or American-style pronunciation was more common prior to the 19th century, when it became fashionable in England to leave the r’s out of pronunciation, a style that spread eventually to the armed forces and later the BBC, which greatly helped to standardize the archetypical British accent. On the American side, accents were developed mainly by settlers from other lands like Ireland, Scotland, and Northern Britian, who brought their own influences and idiosyncrasies to the language and culture. Read more…

 

The Great Emu War: In Which Some Large, Flightless Birds Unwittingly Foiled the Australian Army (Scientific American)

After World War 1, thousands of returning Australian soldiers were given plots of land across the country where they could start farms in order to cultivate wheat and sheep. It was a great way to get these veterans started and self-sufficient — but there was a problem. Emus, gigantic flightless birds native to the region, were none too pleased. To quell the destruction of their crops, farmers took to shooting the birds in vast numbers, but still they came. Recalling the destruction rained down by then-new machine gun technology during the Great War, farmers pleaded with the Australian military to fight the emu menace, igniting what’s still known as the Emu War. This bizarre conflict is remembered today using language that recalls human-to-human battles: "The emus have proved that they are not so stupid as they are usually considered to be. Each mob has its leader, always an enormous black-plumed bird standing fully six-feet high, who keeps watch while his fellows busy themselves with the wheat. At the first suspicious sign, he gives the signal, and dozens of heads stretch up out of the crop. A few birds will take fright, starting a headlong stampede for the scrub, the leader always remaining until his followers have reached safety.” The emus were so effective at evading concentrated fire that the government was forced to pull back its forces, handing the flock a great victory over their would-be invaders. Sadly for the emus, however, farmers given the appropriate ammunition eventually accomplished what the army could not. Read more…

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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