"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 Battle for Notre Dame (The Washington Post)

Nine months after a runaway blaze gutted Paris’ historic Notre Dame cathedral, a debate over the future of restoration efforts is still raging. Notre Dame, the first version of which was completed in 1330 after 150 years of construction, has changed and evolved over time, reflecting the tastes of contemporary construction in various eras. The spire which collapsed last year, for example, was added in 1859, 700 years after groundbreaking. So now, in 2020, a classically French debate over modernity vs. tradition has pitted architects, public figures, and even French president Emmanuel Macron at odds. Should Notre Dame be restored exactly as it was? Or is it time for a new, modern spire, akin to the I.M. Pei pyramids at the Louvre? Read more…


The Mafia Is More Powerful Than It’s Ever Been (Slate)

Watching the new Martin Scorsese movie The Irishman, one might get the impression that the Mafia is some sort of long-ago phenomenon, like the plague, that’s been mostly eliminated. But Alex Perry, an author who recently released a book airing the tales of mob wives, claims that organized crime in Italy is perhaps more powerful than ever. The “‘Ndrangheta” crime organization, a group made up of various families, loosely linked together, is responsible for “…hundreds of billions, if not trillions, of illicit dollars around the world,” smuggling drugs, selling weapons, and laundering illegal cash for other criminal enterprises. With political chaos in Italy and the multi-headed nature of the mob’s organization, it has been very hard for authorities to get a handle on the situation. “The mob thrives on chaos. It likes chaos. It likes to be the alternative authority that you go to because you can’t get anything done through the legitimate state.” Read more…


The Red and Green Specialists: Why Human Color Vision is So Odd (Aeon)

Primates, it must be noted, are an especially successful branch of the evolutionary tree. A crucial advantage of humans, as well as our ape and monkey cousins, emphasizes visual ability over the ability to perceive the world by smell. But there’s a mystery hidden in the workings of the eyes of primates — we have a special configuration of cones that gives us the ability to distinguish subtle shades of red and green, at the expense of being able to capture as many colors as we possibly can. Is it an adaptation meant to discern between ripe and unripe fruit? Changes in blood flow to other primates’ faces? Or is the spacing of cones an accident, a holdover from evolution that hasn’t worked its way out yet? Scientists are still searching for an explanation. Read more…

The Best Documentaries Of The Decade [2010s] (The Playlist)

In the mood for a good documentary? The last decade represented something of a golden age for non-fiction filmmaking, as digital distribution made it easier than ever to access. Here’s a rundown of the best documentary films of the 2010s, featuring everything from Paul Simon to group therapy at Folsom Prison; from the finest sushi on Earth to a unique behind-the-scenes look at Anthony Weiner’s final, doomed campaign for New York City Mayor. Read more…


Kickoffs Are Stupid and Bad (Chart Party)

“The NFL kickoff is the stupidest play in sports. It's boring, bad, dangerous, and pointless, and we've got to get rid of it.” Chart Party, a series created and produced by Jon Bois of YouTube channel SB Nation, represents peak millennial humor: dry, sarcastic, and an aesthetic roasting of late-1980s pixelated digital images and smooth saxophone music. In this highly-researched video, Bois explains why most NFL kickoff returns are a waste of time — they’re extremely unlikely to be returned, and they involve players running full speed toward each other, which risks injury. In its place, the video suggests a proposal that would involve the scoring team being given a “4th and 15” scenario at the 30 yard line. See more…


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