"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.


How an EU Carbon Border Tax Could Jolt World Trade (BCG)

For decades, economists from around the world have recommended a tax on carbon emissions that will provide financial incentive for greenhouse gas reduction — all of the living former chairs of the Federal Reserve support the proposal. Unfortunately, progress has been sorely lacking as global temperatures continue to climb. Now, as part of a proposal to create the first climate-neutral continent, European Union leaders are proposing a “carbon border tax” that, if enacted, would radically change the global economy. It could also change the balance of world power. Taxes on high-polluting goods like oil and steel could shift EU imports from one nation to another and seriously impact production where it’s more environmentally destructive. For example, oil production in Russia has nearly twice the carbon footprint as that of Saudi Arabia. The EU’s carbon tax is new and far from set in stone, but currently enjoys broad support from across the continent. Read more…

A Brief History of America’s Appetite for Macaroni and Cheese (Smithsonian Magazine)

Macaroni and cheese is one of those quintessential American foods. It’s history dates back to Thomas Jefferson’s popularization of "mac and cheese" after a trip to France, as well as its widespread enjoyment in Black communities in the post-Civil War south. But mac and cheese really took off when it provided a vehicle for processed cheese - a product of the industrial revolution - which leaves something to be desired when it’s not paired with a satisfying carbohydrate base. In the process, the dish moved farther away from its French roots, and closer to many Americans’ hearts, where it represents something like the ultimate comfort food. In a divided country, the great taste of macaroni and cheese remains something that many of us still agree on. Read more…

Scientists Clone the First U.S. Endangered Species (NBC News)

With changing times and ever-increasing human presence on our planet has come a mass extinction of the kind rarely seen in historical records. Each species that is lost represents a long evolutionary chain. Its loss decreases biodiversity which then increases the risk that surviving populations will suffer from disease and other maladies. Now, scientists are taking matters into their own hands. The last black-footed ferret, which died in 1988, has been reborn through cloning technology and walks the Earth for the first time in 33 years. Elizabeth Ann, as the critter is known, won’t be the last of her kind. There are similar programs being developed for animals like the rare Przewalski’s horse and the passenger pigeon, which haven’t been seen for more than a hundred years. With advances in cloning, not to mention genetic technology, could Jurassic Park be very far off? Read more…


How Trader Joe’s $2 Wine Became a Best-Seller (The Hustle)

Since 2002, supermarket chain Trader Joe’s has sold over a billion — with a b — bottles of its famous “Two Buck Chuck” wine. As anyone who’s picked up a bottle or two can attest, the wine is quite good for its price point. But how is it possible to make a profit at such a cheap price? Two Buck Chuck was the brainchild of a man named Fred Franzia, who revolutionized the wine industry through what was termed “super-value” wines, or those that exhibited a high standard of quality despite having less than stellar pedigrees. In his own version of “The Big Short”, Franzia foresaw overproduction in the 1990s California wine market and took advantage of it, snapping up cheap wine for just 50 cents a gallon. Combine that cheap juice with the purchase of the storied Charles Shaw wine label, and you’ve got a recipe for a multi-decade smash hit. Read more…

Scientists Discover Chunk of Protoplanet Older Than Earth In Sahara Desert (Vice)

In the early years of our solar system, clouds of gas and dust swirled within an enormous disk orbiting the young Sun. Some of those particles grouped into what we would later call planets. Others, much smaller in size, continued to orbit the Sun as asteroids, one of which was discovered last spring at the end of its long journey deep in the Sahara desert. Erg Chech 002, or EC 002, is the oldest known lava that any scientist has ever seen. At 4.566 billion years, it predates the next oldest igneous meteorite found by 1.24 million years and the Earth by several million years yet. Such asteroids are so rare because most were absorbed into planets, with just a few surviving to the present day. Scientists hope to be able to study crystals inside the rock, which will shed light on the composition of the early solar system. Read more…

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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