"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
01/07/22
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.


The West’s Failure to Vaccinate the Developing World Risks Future Covid Variants, Warns Covax Head (The New Statesman)

As the world’s nations respond to the Omicron variant of covid-19, its apparent that new mutations of the virus create a substantial risk of prolonging the pandemic, subjecting the general public to emergency measures for years on end. Aurélia Nguyen, co-leader of the World Health Organization’s Covax program, is working to bring access to vaccines to those in the developing world. Incredibly, while 75 percent of people in high-income countries have received their first vaccine dose, just seven percent of those in developed countries have done the same — and the lack of distribution hurts us all, as it makes new variants much more likely to emerge. Sadly although perhaps understandably, the US, UK, EU, and other nations over-stocked on vaccine doses during the height of the pandemic. Now, it would behoove them to come to the aid of their fellow humans. “As has often been said, viruses know no bounds.” Read more…


Car Shortage Could Change Buying Behavior Forever (Axios)

Car-buying in America has long followed a simple model: drive to the lot, find the car you want, perhaps haggle a little bit, and drive off. It’s an inefficient system for dealerships because keeping so many cars in stock leads to errors in purchasing, dead inventory waiting to be sold, and the need to clear out old stock each year. In Europe, customers tend to order the car to their specification, wait about a month, and come to the dealership to pick it up. Could Americans be persuaded to delay their gratification? It’s been tried before, but the pandemic just might be the push needed to change the system permanently, with automakers like Ford rolling out made-to-order infrastructure and incentivizing customers who can afford to wait. Read more…


Why Pittsburgh Is Dimming Its Streetlights (Bloomberg CityLab)

Imagine growing up and never seeing the stars. Light pollution is a reality in cities around the world and it’s needless — wasted light can be easily and cheaply reduced while increasing efficiency, reducing strain on wildlife, and restoring some of the grandeur of the natural night sky. That’s why Pittsburgh, PA is becoming the first city in the eastern US to adopt the International Dark Sky Association’s guidelines for reducing light pollution, including switching harsh LED lights for alternatives that emit less blue light, installing shades on bridge, road, and other public lighting fixtures, and changing when lights turn on and off. Pittsburgh joins 34 other communities around the US and the world in becoming a dark sky community, and entire states like Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are now exploring legislation. Though some feel limiting excess light may make communities less safe, studies so far have shown these fears to be unfounded, with no impact on road accidents or crime rates. Read more…


Lessons From Building the World’s Highest Rail Bridge (New Civil Engineer)

“The Chenab Bridge, linking Jammu and Kashmir in rural India, is almost as long as the Harbour Bridge, taller than the Eiffel Tower, and vastly more remote and hostile in surroundings. While the construction of the bridge will connect communities that face many transportation obstacles, the massive project also faces many difficulties, including frequent landslides, seismic activity, inhospitable terrain, and political unrest. Supported by enormous, blast-proof masses of concrete, the bridge’s graceful supporting arc was finally laid in place earlier this year. In the coming year, the deck and railway will be added, completing “one of the most unlikely structures you could imagine,” a project that stands as a tribute to what human ingenuity can accomplish. Read more…


What's the Difference Between White Cheese and Yellow Cheese? (Mental Floss)

American slices, blocks of cheddar, and even Cheez-Its have habituated us to the idea of white and yellow cheeses. Why are there two colors, anyway? And what is the difference, if any, between them? As it turns out, yellow cheeses were a product of a particular time — roughly the 16th-17th centuries in England — when cows raised on beta-carotene-rich grasses produced a golden-hued milk. Eventually, the dairy farmers realized they could process the cream into other products like butter, and cheese became whiter, which alarmed consumers. Thus, yellow coloring of various kinds has been added over the centuries all the way up to the present day — at first saffron, carrot, or marigold, and increasingly annatto, which comes from the seed of  tropical tree. Of course, the use of coloring also carries the added benefit of covering up inconsistencies in the product. Any perceived difference in flavor between white and yellow cheese is either intentional or fallacious, as the coloring adds no flavor. Read more…
 

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            - Greg
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