"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.


Here’s Why So Many Planes Are Still Flying, Nearly Empty (New York Magazine)

As most of us have noticed, America’s nationwide shutdown hasn’t stopped commercial flying. But who are taking these kinds of flights? Well, as you might expect, the flights that go up are mostly empty, some with less than ten passengers, which actually can help with social distancing measures by keeping passengers and crew separated. The other reason for so much continued airline service is a measure in the government relief act that requires businesses to maintain operations and employment in order to receive assistance. One interesting development in recent weeks is a measure called codesharing, where tickets are routed to competitor airlines in order to maintain nationwide service using the fewest available flights. Just like the rest of us, the airlines are dealing with the pandemic in real-time, and that means that nobody has a permanent game plan. Read more…


What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage (Marker)

There’s been a lot of understandable anger directed toward hoarders of basic supplies like masks, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper. While some of this is justified, could shortages of seemingly tangential products like toilet paper really be explained just by blind hoarding? In fact, industry personnel say the toilet paper market is misunderstood. There’s household toilet paper, tending toward the soft, multi-ply varieties, and then there’s commercial toilet paper used in public restrooms, offices, and the like, which trends cheaper, more economical, and comes in large rolls. A  production shift between these two markets is difficult to pull off quickly, especially since the commercial and residential markets are often served by different manufacturing plants. The good news? “We’ve got fiber supply, we’ve got trees,” said Georgia-Pacific’s Abercrombie. “It’s just a matter of making the product and getting it out.” Read more…

Apollo 13: Enhanced Images Reveal Life on Stricken Spacecraft (BBC)

Fifty years ago, a flaw in the Apollo 13 spacecraft on its way to the Moon led to an explosion that crippled the life-support systems on the ship, almost leading to the death of the three astronauts aboard. Through quick thinking and cooperation with experts on the ground, NASA was able to bring all three men home safely in one of the most dramatic episodes of the space program. Imaging specialist Andy Saunders recently posted several restored photographs taken aboard the ship, using special techniques like layering of exposures in order to sharpen and enhance the quality of the images. The resulting photos are remarkable in the way that they correct flaws in camera equipment and film quality, making the astronauts incredibly lifelike and helping the viewer to imagine what it would have been like to face a crisis within such cramped confines. Read more…

This Man Owns The World's Most Advanced Private Air Force After Buying 46 F/A-18 Hornets (The Drive)

What would you do with a fleet of 46 F-18s? Don Kirlin is a man who enjoys that very scenario in the wake of his purchase of surplus aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force. While his company Air USA is basically a contractor for the US government, serving as essentially “bad guys” for fighter pilot training, the fact that Kirlin is a private citizen means that one man essentially fields an air force larger than that of many nations. 36 of his new F-18s are flyable, and Air USA plans on restoring the other 10 using the RAAF’s spare parts inventory, which was also part of the massive deal. The fleet will be deployed to air bases across the US, providing in-house training to the next generation of US fighter pilots. The jets will likely be painted to resemble Russian camouflage, although Kirlin “also mentioned that a jet-black Hornet would be fun to have, just for the heck of it.” Read more…

Judge Scolds 200 Amsterdam Developers: “Owner Must Bear the Responsibility” (The Real Deal)

Construction of super-tall skyscrapers has been on a tear this decade in New York City, remaking the skyline forever and altering almost every neighborhood. This boom hasn’t been without its critics, and an incredible court ruling last month highlights the controversy and the tactics being used to create such tall structures. On February 13, a judge ruled that 200 Amsterdam, an Upper West Side condo built using cobbled-together zoning permits, had overstepped its bounds and would need to remove floors in order to comply with regulations. The removal of a building’s upper floors prior to completion is basically unprecedented, and many developers are shocked. As appeals continue, construction has thus far failed to stop, and the future of New York real estate may hang in the balance. Read more…


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