"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
05/08/20
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.

 

The Small-Business Die-Off Is Here (The Atlantic)

Across the nation, the owners of shuttered small businesses are weighing whether to ride out economic storm from the coronavirus or simply close for good. So far, roughly 30 percent of small businesses across the country have been forced to close, without a clear plan to preserve their ability to remain solvent during the crisis. With financial crises, “…there’s a playbook to follow. What we don’t know how to do, or had no idea how to do, is provide direct support to your local coffee shop at scale”, according to Satyam Khanna, of the Institute for Corporate Governance and Finance at NYU’s School of Law. Even the implementation of a $350 billion plan to provide financial support was largely botched, approving enormous loans for big-business chains even as many establishments found them difficult to apply for. What does the devastation of these businesses portend for the economy as a whole? A longer, slower recovery and a less-dynamic and competitive marketplace that’s dominated by franchises. Read more…

 

Time Has No Meaning at the North Pole (Scientific American)

The North Pole is a place where all of the time zones come together, a frozen world where the sun is either above the horizon or below it for half of the year. Fortunately for human society, the lack of permanent settlements means we don’t have to consider this anomaly very often. But how do researchers get a handle on the passage of time at the top of the world? Because there’s no actual land, there's no settled convention for time in the Arctic, so each ship chooses its own — based on the nearest country, or, in the case of Russian ships, Moscow time. The strange disconnection of time at the North Pole is compounded by the monotony of shipboard life: For the people onboard, monitoring the ever progressing data gives them a sense of the forward arrow of time. Otherwise, that sense can only come with facial hair that grows—and with the smell of fresh bread: when the odor wafts through the ship, it must be ‘Sunday.’” Here’s a slice of life from one of the strangest, most remote habitats in the world. Read more…

 

The Forgotten American Explorer Who Discovered Huge Parts of Antarctica (Smithsonian)

Meanwhile, on the other end of the world, Antarctica lies poised to become a focal point for 21st century geopolitics. While the British are perhaps best known for their exploration of the southern continent, it was an American explorer, Charles Wilkes, who first charted much of the coastline in 1840, establishing proof that Antarctica was a landmass, rather than a frozen archipelago or a vast sea like the North Pole. Wilkes’ achievements were downplayed in an era of European hegemony, but today it is the United States that dominates Antarctic research and exploration, with a new challenger on the horizon: China. In a twist of fate, Wilkes Land, a vast region named after the explorer, may be a new battlefield in the struggle for the control and fate of the Antarctic’s vast coal, natural gas, and mineral reserves. Read more…

 

The Mysterious Bronze Objects That Have Baffled Archaeologists for Centuries (Mental Floss)

A dodecahedron is a 12-sided three-dimensional prism. Dodecahedrons today are mostly employed as dice for strategy games, but the ancient Romans may have had another use for the small brass objects that have been found for centuries in ancient sites. “The obvious craftsmanship that went into them—at a time when metal objects were expensive and difficult to make—has prompted many researchers to argue they were valuable, an idea that's supported by the fact that several have been found stashed away with Roman-era coins. But that still doesn't explain why they were made.” Perhaps they were used as rangefinders for military units, or they were involved with some sort of game. There are other theories involving religion, fortune-telling, and other occult or spiritual purposes. While we’re not likely to ever have a definitive answer, we can still appreciate the strange beauty of these artifacts from 1500 years ago. Read more…

 

Sunshine and Swastikas (Daily Mail)

We know Berlin today as a modern city, mostly rebuilt after the devastation of World War Two. But Berlin, and many European cities, had a long history before they were swept into the conflict, and these rare color photos from 1937 display a beautiful city beneath the ominous red and white Nazi banners. Many of the buildings in these images would not survive the coming war, their intricate stone facades shattered by allied bombing raids, and of course the lives of the citizens of the city would be forever changed . It makes one pause and reflect on how many communities and works of human art and ingenuity have been erased as a result of the horrific aggression and devastation of the Nazi regime. Read more…

 

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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