"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.


The Greatest Grammys Snubs of All Time (Vulture)

For most of the music industry, winning a Grammy is the ultimate symbol of success. Maybe that’s why we get so emotional when the award goes to someone we feel is undeserving. This article chronicles the Recording Academy’s questionable choices over the decades, like 1970s Album of the Year award given to Blood, Sweat, and Tears’ eponymous album — over The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Crosby Stills & Nash’s self titled masterpiece. While we might not agree with all of these decisions, we can at least agree that, at the end of the day, the best music isn’t defined by how many awards it has, but whether it means something to the listener. Read more…


If Everyone Hates Spirit Airlines, How Is It Making So Much Money? (Medium)

Spirit Airlines seems to be the butt of a thousand jokes, the low-cost airline that charges fees for everything, even water. But pop culture loathing for the brand belies its extraordinary success — Spirit is one of the most profitable airlines because they give a set of consumers what they want: air travel at the lowest possible price point. Spirit’s profitability while employing a fees-for-everything business model and indifferent approach to customer complaints flies in the face of traditional thinking, which emphasizes that a brand can only be successful with a positive image in the minds of customers. It’s obviously a strategy that can work well in the airline industry (and perhaps in the banking and telecommunication industries too). “Businesses that look at what people say…don’t do as well as businesses that look at what people actually do.” Read more…


Emma Willard's Maps of Time (Public Domain Review)

Emma Willard was a textbook publisher and illustrator during the mid-1800s, selling books to hundreds of American schools during a time when the printed word and standardized education systems were remaking American life. Willard’s infographics, designed to give students a sense of the flow of history, were far ahead of their time, showing the way that different epochs and events flowed into one another. In “Temple of Time,” winding pathways on the floor chart the flow of power structures and empires, while famous discoverers and philosophers line the ceiling and the columns along the sides chart major leaders by century. These are especially creative ways to provide a visual representation of time — another graphic illustrates Roman conquest using the Amazon river — and helped a generation of students grasp the course of modern history. Read more…


Splendid Isolation: How I Stopped Time by Sitting in a Forest for 24 hours (The Guardian)

Like many humans in the modern age, Mark O’Connell felt like he was a slave to time, a pawn running down an increasingly short path. So he signed up for what’s called a “wilderness solo:” 24 hours in complete isolation, with nothing to do but exist among nature. “What affected me most deeply about that time alone in nature was the aspect of it I had initially been most daunted by. The experience of the solo is the experience of time itself, in its rawest and most unmediated form.” Along the way, O’Connell reconnected to the world, left constant communication and the 24 hour news cycle behind, and confronted his lost childhood memories. It stands to reason that such retreats might become more popular in a world that’s cultivating interconnectivity at faster and faster rates. Read more…


The Surprisingly Ancient History of Ketchup (History)

For a condiment so tied to American culture, ketchup has a long and strange history. The word itself comes from ancient China, where “ge-thcup” referred to a fermented fish sauce, which kept well on long sea voyages. When British explorers brought the stuff back from the East, it caused a sensation in 18th-century Europe, blossoming into hundreds of varieties with ingredients like mushrooms, oysters, lemons, peaches, and more. The common properties remained saltiness, spiciness, and resistance to spoilage. The varient we know today didn’t come along until 1812, when James Mease of Philadelphia created the first tomato-based ketchup, paving the way for Heinz’s well-known glass bottle a few decades later. Today, ketchup is found in 97 percent of American homes, where most are unaware of its origin in 300 B.C. China. Read more…

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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