"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.

T. Rex and Its Close Relatives Were Warm-Blooded Like Modern Birds (Live Science)

For a long time, paleontologists believed that dinosaurs were cold-blooded — after all, the word dinosaur means “terrible lizard” and modern-day, cold-blooded lizards are in part descended from dinosaurs. With modern discoveries, however, we are learning that dinosaurs have much more in common with today's birds than we once thought, including feathers on certain species. Now, a team from CalTech has announced that a study tracing the evolution of cold- and warm-blooded species over time indicates that certain dinosaurs, including Tyrannosaurus, were likely warm-blooded. Warm-blooded creatures, like today’s bird species, have high metabolisms, and thus need to consume more food and breathe faster than cold-blooded species, a detail that could impact our study of the lives of these ancient creatures. Read more…


What You Didn't Know About McDonald's First Drive-Thru (Mashed)

1975’s Sierra Vista, Arizona, soldiers of Fort Huachuca were under a standing order to never wear their uniforms in public, having to change into civilian clothes in order to shop at a store or dine at a restaurant. While this order was put in place mainly to avoid damage to the military’s reputation by soldiers on a night out, it also led to the world’s first McDonald’s drive-thru as a clever franchise owner saw the opportunity for a restaurant that could serve soldiers in uniform without them needing to step outside of their cars. Later that year, a long-planned drive-thru addition to a McDonald’s location in Oklahoma City opened to car traffic, and sales took off. From these humble beginnings came a revolution in the way Americans eat, as some 70 percent of the chain’s revenue now comes via its drive-thru operations. Read more…

Data Taxation (Future Agenda)

Taxing the massive corporations that generate so much wealth yet return so little to society, has long been a challenge for policymakers. These multinational firms legally set up shop in tax havens like Ireland or the Cayman Islands, then stash money in various ways so it never sees the light of day - which stymies attempts to rein them in. “By one recent estimate, close to 40% of multinational profits are shifted to low-tax countries each year. In 2019 the OECD conservatively calculated that the annual tax lost as a result of this was around $240bn.” This means that governments must raise money from other sources to support the infrastructure that companies use at bargain rates. What can be done? Treating data as an asset may transform the way such cases are handled, by providing a better gauge of a company’s value, incentivizing moderation in the way data is accrued, and even potentially allowing for dividends on the sale and use of personal information, which currently flows to tech giants at little or no cost. Read more…

Bats Are One of the Most Important Misunderstood Animals (US Fish and Wildlife Service)

Long associated with haunted houses and Halloween celebrations, bats are some of the most widely useful — and misunderstood — creatures on the planet. Renowned for their abilities to navigate night skies using only sound, bats “eat enough pests to save more than $1 billion per year in crop damage and pesticide costs in the United States corn industry alone.” Bats are also responsible for pollinating species of plants like peaches, cloves, bananas, and agave. They also disperse fruit seeds across vast areas. Unfortunately, human activity has greatly affected bat species, leading to loss of habitat and the needless deaths of many bats that run into netting or other obstacles while flying at night. We can all help by turning off unnecessary lights at night, minimizing the use of pesticides, and promoting natural environments as much as possible, which allow places for bats to roost. Read more…

The Severed Head and the Soviet Space Plane (Supercluster)

Much less well-known than the US’ Space Shuttle, the USSR’s Buran spacecraft was in some ways more capable. The Buran was able to fly entire missions by remote control and was propelled into orbit by one of the most powerful rockets ever built — the Energia. So, when images began to circulate last year of one of the two remaining Buran craft covered in graffiti and housed in a warehouse in a remote part of Kazakhstan, observers were shocked. How could something like this happen to a symbol of the cold war space race, and how could the Russians recover the ship, restore it, and put it on display in a museum? As it turns out, Kazakh businessman Dauren Musa was at the end of a chain of implausible events that led him to become the sole owner of the Buran, and he’s more than happy to trade it — in exchange for the two-hundred-year-old skull of Kazakh’s last Kahn, Kenesary Kasymov. Read more…

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