"5 COOL THINGS" - weekly emails

5 Cool Things  😎
5 Cool Things:
05/27/22
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.


Guns Now Kill More Children and Young Adults Than Car Crashes (Scientific American)

Since 2017, the leading cause of injury-related death for Americans 24 years of age and under has been firearms, according to Lois Lee, a senior associate in medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, and her colleagues, who analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control. The switchover from automotive accidents happened, according to the research team, because of a concerted effort at federal and state levels to pass laws that increased car and driver safety, as well as an uptick in deadly accidents and incidents involving guns. While there is a plethora of data available for analyzing driver safety, getting accurate results for firearm deaths proved a challenge, as a measure called the Dickey Amendment, passed and renewed by the US Congress as a rider to spending bills each year from 1996 to 2018, prevented the CDC from using its funding to “advocate or promote gun control”. Read more…


The Law of Reversed Effort: The Harder You Try, The Harder You Fall (BigThink)

“Proficiency and the results of proficiency come only to those who have learned the paradoxical art of doing and not doing, or combining relaxation with activity, of letting go as a person in order that the immanent and transcendent unknown quantity may take hold.” This quote, by the author Aldous Huxley, describes a phenomenon most of us know all too well — the harder we try, the worse results we seem to have. Strangely, also, those who are truly gifted at any particular task seem to perform it effortlessly. The idea is at the heart of some of the oldest spiritual traditions, as well, indicating that the concept of “doing without doing” has deep roots in human history and thought. How does one practice this art in the real world? Let ideas come, and jot them down without trying to force them out. Simplify — don’t overthink. And listen to others, without thinking about the next thing you will say. You might also learn more about them this way, which might make them want to learn more about you, too. Read more…


The Problem of Global Energy Inequity, Explained by American Refrigerators (Vox)

At 483 kilowatts of usage per year, the average American refrigerator uses more electricity than individuals in many countries consume in an entire year. That’s not an indictment of American refrigerator use — it’s a call to action for nations to build reliable, effective infrastructure to cope with the challenges of climate change. Earlier this year, a heat wave of unprecedented scale rocked India and Pakistan, bringing with it so-called “wet bulb” conditions, where high humidity increases the chance of heat-related fatalities. Incredibly, less than ten percent of Indians own air conditioners, and the situation is worse in Africa, where countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo only provide reliable electricity to about ten percent of their citizens. Would it be possible to balance the developing world’s energy needs with the rest of the world’s climate goals? With renewable energy technology and more efficient appliances, it should be — and to avoid massive human suffering, we must act soon. Read more…


The Last of Lehman Brothers (Bloomberg Businessweek)

In 2008, as the dominoes of the real estate crash began to fall, investment bank Lehman Brothers was stuck with billions of dollars of assets that it could not sell. In what is still the largest-ever bankruptcy filing in US history, Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and Wall Street lost an iconic firm that had been trading since the mid-19th century — or so it seemed. In fact, Lehman as an organization is still around, only now nearing the final days of its existence as the last court cases loom. “The spirit of a bank, even in life, is debt, and debts don’t settle easily into a grave.” That debt — some of it good, and some of it bad — is still being unwound by an intrepid team of lawyers in the US and UK, even as the financial crash becomes a distant memory for the judges and bankers who were involved, as well as a nation that moved on, shakily but steadily, into a new economic reality. Read more…


Lost Cities of the Amazon Discovered From the Air (Smithsonian Magazine)

In the age of exploration, men were driven to madness by tales of hidden cities somewhere in the Amazon rainforest, full of gold and other treasures. The legends may have been exaggerated, but hidden cities apparently really existed deep in the Amazon, according to researchers using helicopter-mounted mapping technology to cut through the dense canopy and analyze the topography beneath. “The new images reveal, in detail, a stronghold of the socially complex Casarabe Culture (500-1400 C.E.) with urban centers boasting monumental platform and pyramid architecture”. The findings, along with other evidence discovered over the centuries, seem to point to ancient civilizations which spread across much of the continent, in contrast to the popular depiction of the Amazon of a dark, forbidding, and uninhabited wilderness untouched by human hands. Read more…

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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