"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.

Should the U.S. Have a Secretary of Culture? (The Atlantic)

Is it time for the US to appoint a Secretary of Culture? In challenging times, the role of the artist is never more important. Creating a US Department of Culture would show the painters, poets, and musicians in America that their contributions matter, especially in the wake of a pandemic that has deprived so many creators of their financial well-being. Right now, federal oversight of the arts encompasses several agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Institute for Museum and Library Services, as well as other museum associations like the Smithsonian. A Department of Culture would allow the US to combine these agencies under a single roof, as over 50 other nations have done. Read more…


Alphabet Delivers Wireless Internet Over Light Beams From 20km Away (ARS Technica)

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is developing technology to connect people in far-flung parts of the world using beams of light. It’s similar to fiber-optic technology used in certain types of cable that uses light to convey information, but without the use of any sort of wired connection. A Google X program called Project Loon used internet nodes connected via balloons, transmitting data through the stratosphere. Now, Alphabet’s Project Taara is employing the same techniques in Kenya, where the light rays can be attached to buildings that are tall enough to establish line-of-sight connections with faraway receiving stations. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where it might be challenging or costly to lay physical cables, the project promises to connect remote areas to the global network. Read more…


These 6 Common Vegetables are Actually All the Same Plant (Business Insider)

It’s amazing how few of the plants we eat come to our plates in their original form. In fact, six well-known vegetables were cultivated from the wild mustard plant: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kate, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi. Known scientifically as Brassica Oleracea, the mustard plant has been cultivated by farmers over hundreds of years to yield vegetables that look and taste nothing like the original plant. So, in a manner of speaking, broccoli and cauliflower are the same thing -- mutated forms of Brassica flowers. Cabbage and Brussels sprouts (basically, tiny cabbages!) come from leaf buds, kohlrabi from the stem, and kale from the leaves. It all goes to show that genetically modified food has a much older history than one might believe. Read more…


Examining the Legendary ‘Dun, Dun’ Sound From ‘Law & Order’ (Daily News)

In the late 1980s, TV producer Dick Wolf approached composer Mike Post with a concept for a procedural crime show called Law and Order. Wolf wanted Post to provide a “harder-hitting tone” for the soundtrack, with a short effect between scenes that would provide a signature mood. “Talk to sound effects” was the musician’s initial response, before he was convinced to create an epic and memorable “clang” sound effect that endures to this day, over 25 years later. The sound, meant to evoke a slamming jail cell, include six or seven different sounds, including a sample of 500 men stomping on a wooden floor. "It was a sort of monstrous Kabuki event,” explains Post. “Probably one of those large dance classes they hold. They did this whole big stamp. Somebody went out and sampled that." Today, Post calls it his “ching ching sound,” as the already-successful composer makes royalties every time it is played. Read more…


The NFC East Must Fulfill Its Duty to Produce the Worst Division Champion Ever (Slate)

The world of professional football will soon have a dubious regional champion. Even considering a COVID-affected season and practice regimen, this year’s NFC East division teams —  the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and team-without-a-name Washington Football Team — are nearly tied in the running for a spot in the playoffs, with the Eagles on top at 3-5-1 as the season passes its halfway mark. It’s on track to become the worst division in NFL history, one that might just produce an astounding four-win champion. But how bad are these teams? “Of those 10 combined wins [so far], eight came against other NFC East teams. Outside of their own division the NFC East teams are 2-18-1.” Read more…

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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