"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.

In Afghanistan, We've Ended Up Where the Russians, the British, and Plenty of Others Did (Esquire)

Nearly 20 years since the US invasion of Afghanistan, the war against the Taliban seems destined to heat up with the impending breakdown of Trump administration peace negotiations. That’s despite trillions of dollars spent, 7,423 bombs dropped — actually, that’s the 2019 figure alone — and the sacrifice of over 2000 US lives and nearly 100,000 Afghan civilians. In 2011, US Special Forces killed Osama Bin Laden, architect of a terrorist attack that took place before the advent of smartphones. Since then, it’s been increasingly hard to figure out how the US government’s investment in that region justifies the return, especially in a world that’s changed significantly since 2001. “That does not mean we’re turning away from Afghanistan.”, writes the Washington Post. “We are going to remain committed to the government, remain committed diplomatically. But in terms of where we will be investing force posture, our blood and treasure, we believe that other priorities merit that investment.” As the US withdraws from the region later this year as planned by President Biden, we relearn the lesson of the British, Soviets, and many others: “The truth of the matter is that nobody really wants Afghanistan except the people who live there, and they want to run the place their own way.” Read more…

Why Delaware is the Sexiest Place in America to Incorporate a Company (The Hustle)

The state of Delaware might be the butt of a couple jokes — the movie Wayne’s World comes to mind — but this state, the second smallest in the Union, is apparently quite attractive to corporations. Almost 1.5 million businesses have incorporated there, including 68% of the Fortune 500. Why do companies choose to headquarter in Delaware? Why isn’t there a “race to the bottom” to lure corporations to other states? That race took place, in fact, following the passage of an 1891 New Jersey law allowing easy incorporation and low corporate tax rates in the Garden State. It set off a legislative frenzy as states scrambled to create more accommodative laws. In the end, however, most states that changed their laws pulled back again in order to strike a balance between attractive policy and treasury needs. Delaware famously didn’t. A system of loopholes and benefits — no tax on copyrights, no corporate income tax, no investment tax — awaits any Delaware corporation. Including the screen door factories. Read more…

The Statue of Liberty As You've Never Seen Her Before (CBS News)

In the summer of 2019, architect Paul Davidson, on behalf of the National Park Service, completed a careful laser scan of the entire interior space of the Statue of Liberty, toiling during the night, when the statue was closed. Ironically, the next summer he wouldn’t have had to come at night owing to the statue’s closure during the covid-19 pandemic. But we can benefit from his team’s hard work by enjoying a virtual tour of the 3D images that they generated, available here. While the exterior of the statue was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the system of iron girders that you see in the photos was the brainchild of Gustave Eiffel — yes, that Eiffel. The structure was meant to sway with the wind — something that Davidson says turned out to be the biggest challenge to his work. “…when you're surveying, you want it to be static. But we were in that torch and [the wind] was probably five or ten miles an hour, and it was swaying, really, like three or four inches. It was kind of like being on a boat." The scans will provide documentation in case of future modifications or damage, as well as a historical record of the great monument. Read more…

Arabian Coins Found in US May Unlock 17th-Century Pirate Mystery (The Guardian)

Why would Arabian coins show up in a meadow in Rhode Island? Jim Bailey, historian and metal detector enthusiast, unearthed the coins in a fruit orchard in 2014, possibly bringing to resolution a mystery that’s endured for over 300 years. In 1695, pirate captain Henry Every raided an Indian emperor’s ship, plundering tens of millions of dollars’ worth of coins. But despite the heavy price on his head due to his interruption of trade with the British Empire, Every and his crew disappeared. Now, we might know where he and his crew ended up — America, where ancient coins covered in Arabic script have been popping up in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut since Bailey’s lucky find. It would certainly be unusual to find such coinage in that era’s New England settlements, as the colonists would have been too busy with day-to-day survival to worry about trade with the Middle East. Read more…

Fukushima: Japan Approves Releasing Wastewater Into Ocean (BBC)2011 was witness to another dark milestone: the damage to Japan’s nuclear power plant at Fukushima, which has required nearly a million tons of water to cool the damaged reactor systems in the ensuing decade. That water has been treated, but it’s still tainted by radioactive elements, and storage space is running out. Therefore, Japanese scientists have announced the impending release of that water into the open ocean, where the hope is that the natural dilutive effect of a large body of water will mitigate the overall risk. While scientists say the release will be done slowly and without public health risk, many in the fishing industry are unconvinced. Joining in the chorus of concern are the foreign ministries of neighboring South Korea and China. But the US is taking a measured tack, saying that the Japanese government has “…adopted an approach in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards”. Read more…


Check out my Writings: "Minding Your Business"
See you next week!
            - Greg
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