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The Week’s Best Reads – 12/22/17

This week’s highlights:  Rockefeller’s Art Collection, Tech 10 Years into the Future, The Making of Ed Sheeran’s Biggest Track.


Fifteen on Friday – 12/22/17 – Issue 266

Happy Holidays Everyone!   A quick public service announcement – this will be the final Fifteen on Friday of 2017 – we will return the first weekend in January.

Until then, I hope you enjoy time with friends and family – and maybe find some time to read something interesting.

All the best,

Food for Thought:

  1. VF – David Rockefeller and the Largest Art Auction of All Time  In March, David Rockefeller, the last surviving grandchild of robber baron John D. Rockefeller, died at the age of 101. As Christie’s prepares to auction his massive and prestigious collection, Vanity Fair looks into the collection’s origins.
  2. NYT – My Year of No Shopping.  Author and Nashvillian Ann Patchett reflects on a year outside the consumer culture.
  3. LifeHacker – Teach Kids to Nickname the Fears That Won’t Go Away.  
  4. WashPo – The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas toy for kids, or a mind game for adults?
  5. NYM – For the Good of Society — and Traffic! — Delete Your Map App


  1. TBP – Interview with Jeff Sherman of Doubleline
  2. A16Z – 10 Year Futures (vs. What’s Happening Now) Andreessen Horowitz’ Benedict Evans reflects on mobile, Google / Apple / Facebook / Amazon, innovation, machine learning, computer vision, autonomous cars, mixed reality and crypto-currencies – and more, in this keynote delivered at the most recent annual a16z Summit.
  3. CF – How To Read Financial News
  4. The Games They Will Play.  Now that tax reform has officially passed, here are a number of law professors discussing all the different ways to leverage the loopholes in the bill.
  5. Bloomberg – Subprime Auto Defaults Are Soaring, and PE Firms Have No Way Out – Credit DH – 


  1. NYT – ‘Shape of You’: Making 2017’s Biggest Track.  Ed Sheeran and the other writers/producers discuss How Shape of You came to be in the studio – arguably one of the biggest pop hits of 2017 and the most streamed song ever on Spotify.
  2. RoadandTrack – The Only McLaren F1 Technician in North America In a secret location in a windowless warehouse, Kevin Hines of McLaren Philadelphia is the only person in the US certified to work on your F1.
  3. Medium – This Is Exactly How You Should Train Yourself To Be Smarter
  4. NYT – Christie’s Just Set Another Auction Record, for Handbag Sales
  5. RollingStone – Magic Leap: Founder of Secretive Start-Up Unveils Mixed-Reality GogglesMagic Leap is arguably the most successful startup that the average person has not heard of.  Having raised billions, ML disclosed a little more this week about its hopefully ground-breaking mixed-reality goggles.

The Week’s Best Reads – 12/15/17

This week’s highlights:  The Numbers King, Disney’s Strategic Move, and AI’s dominance of chess.


Fifteen on Friday – 12/15/17 – Issue 265

Food for Thought:

  1. VN – I Made My Shed the Top Rated Restaurant On TripAdvisor.  A laugh out loud tale of how one man manipulated the review website, TripAdvisor, and turned his storage shed into a highly exclusive, top-rated restaurant.
  2. New Yorker – Jim Simons, the Numbers King.  Algorithms made him a Wall Street billionaire. His new research center helps scientists mine data for the common good.
  3. AP – Chronicler of Islamic State ‘killing machine’ goes public
  4. CBR – Never mind the 1 percent – Let’s talk about the 0.01 percent
  5. NYT – Kelly Ripa and Ryan Seacrest Specialize in Small Talk and Big Ratings. “Before he joined her on “Live,” Ms. Ripa let him in on a secret to the show’s success. As Mr. Seacrest recalled it, she told him, via FaceTime, “I want to manage your expectations. It’s a local television show that’s broadcast across the country.”


  1. Stratechery – Disney and Fox  “I have been writing for years that Netflix’s status as an aggregator was positioning the company to dominate entertainment, and it was only eight months ago that I despaired of Disney and the other entertainment companies ever figuring out how to fight back. What has been so impressive over the last few months is the extent and speed with which Disney has seemingly figured it out — and acted accordingly.”
  2. Bloomberg – Retailers Still Haven’t Caught Up to Millennials  The children of baby boomers don’t seek personal fulfillment through shopping.
  3. NYT – From Bezos to Walton, Big Investors Back Fund for ‘Flyover’ Start-Ups
  4. NYT – Can Marriott Keep Starwood’s  Culture of Cool, and Its Customers? For the Marriott-Starwood combination to succeed, top-tier loyalty program members like our writer must not flee. Here’s what would keep him in the fold.
  5. Economist – The beast of Bentonville battles Amazon, the king of the e-commerce jungle.  Walmart is probably the most formidable adversary Amazon has ever faced. Disrupting the music, book and media industries, each known for their Corinthian spirit and long lunches, was child’s play compared with taking on Walmart, with its fanatical commitment to low prices.


  1. TheAtlantic – A New Kind of Soft Battery, Inspired by the Electric Eel  The animals inspired the design of the very first battery. Two centuries later, they’re at it again.
  2. ChessNews – The future is here – AlphaZero learns chess  Imagine this: you tell a computer system how the pieces move — nothing more. Then you tell it to learn to play the game. And a day later — yes, just 24 hours — it has figured it out to the level that beats the strongest programs in the world convincingly!
  3. Washingtonian – Spies, Dossiers, and the Insane Lengths Restaurants Go to Track and Influence Food Critics
  4. DB – How George Clooney Gave His 14 Best Pals a Million Bucks Each
  5. NYP – Inside the incredible NYC house made out of shipping containers
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