"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 to Actually Fix America’s Police (The Atlantic)

The uproar over the May 25th death of George Floyd in Minneapolis is yet another chapter in a long history of racial injustice in the United States, which stretches back to the first slave colony brought to Virginia in 1619. When measures to address this injustice are finally taken, police reform must be a major component. Fortunately, we have studied the ways that this might happen — many times. “Prior tragedies have resulted in a string of independent, blue-ribbon commissions — Wickersham (1929), Kerner (1967), Knapp (1970), Overtown (1980), Christopher (1991), Kolts (1991), Mollen (1992), and the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing (2014) — to make recommendations for meaningful change that could address police misconduct." This article outlines specific steps that can be taken at federal, state, and local levels. The recommended reform measures will enhance proper training, ensure  responsibility for misconduct, and protect the constitutional rights of all Americans. Getting them into the law books will require sustained political pressure against a system that has resisted meaningful regulation for centuries. Read more…


This Is How Deeply the Coronavirus Changed Our Behavior (Bloomberg)

An awkward truth about economic science is that crises provide invaluable opportunities for understanding human behavior when it relates to buying and selling. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, data is showing how people around the world have reacted to the shock. While some of the charts here are simply a reflection of the way in which our everyday experiences have been altered — gasoline demand falling, planes going empty, shopping shifting online, UK liquor sales up 30% in a month — some actually show the difference in the impact that governments around the world have been able to make by supporting their citizens and/or mitigating the impact of the virus. For example, the unemployment rate of the United States surged over six percentage points, while the majority of G7 nations reported shifts of less than two. Read more…


With its Joe Rogan Deal, Spotify is Moving Closer to Podcast Supremacy (Rolling Stone)

There’s no question that streaming businesses like Spotify have changed the way that we experience music and podcasts in the 21st century — making it far easier and cost-efficient to listen to content and counter piracy, while at the same time vastly reduce individual ownership, as well as reduce the compensation that most artists are able to receive from their work. Spotify’s monster $100 million deal for the exclusive rights to “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast represents a new strategy that could turn Spotify into “…the single biggest force in audio on the planet the same way Facebook became the single biggest force in social.” However, the company’s attempts to corner the podcasting and music market are generating a fair amount of criticism from the artists who produce its content: “Artists need tens of billions of streams to get the same money that Joe Rogan was just given for his show. What Spotify is saying basically is ‘We value this podcast more than we value any single artist on our platform,’” Read more…


Atmospheric Scientists Identify Cleanest Air on Earth in First-of-its-Kind Study (Phys.org)

What area of the planet has the cleanest air? A team of scientists at Colorado State University, led by Professor Sonia Kridenweis, set out to find the answer in a first-of-its-kind study. The team hypothesized that the air over the Southern Ocean, which encircles Antarctica, would have cleaner levels of aerosols (airborne particles) and microorganisms that reveal human influence elsewhere on the planet. According to the microbial samples that they collected, pollution and soil emissions are largely not traveling southward into the Southern Ocean, resulting in air that is pristine and unaltered. “Overall, it suggests that the SO is one of very few places on Earth that has been minimally affected by anthropogenic activities.” (This article was sent by a reader. To submit an article for consideration, email dpowell325@gmail.com) Read more…


Today I Discovered Japan's Flag Was Redesigned in 1999 and You Probably Didn't Even Notice (Lifehacker)

The flag of Japan is one of the most minimalist among the world’s nations, a simple red circle on a white field that is intended to represent the sun’s disc. But, as it turns out, even that simple design was changed just 21 years ago. Exactly who originally created the sun flag is unknown, although the design dates back to at least the 12th Century. The flag was officially adopted for merchant ships in 1870, and until 1999 remained basically the same. That year, the Japanese government decided to finally codify the flag and national anthem of the country, which had been technically off the books for centuries. The law changed the positioning of the disc ever so slightly, moving it ever so slightly toward the true center of the field. And while the official shade of red was never specified, older flags tend to have a lighter shade than the post-1999 flags. Just goes to show that sometimes the most familiar things in our lives have a history too. Read more…

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See you next week!
            - Greg
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