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Issue 338 – 07/12/19

This week’s highlights: Kanye’s Second Coming, Gamma Traps, and Sleep

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Issue 338

by David Wells – Nashville TN

Happy Friday Everyone,

A quick word of welcome to all the new subscribers that have come in over the past couple of weeks.  Fifteen on Friday will be off next week, so look for the next issue on 7/26.

Articles This Week:

What I’m Reading Now:
  • Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work In Half the Time – Scrum / Agile were originally efforts to improve software development efforts.  Their success in those arenas (often with exponential levels of improvement) has led to their application in other areas of management.

Best,

David


Food for Thought:

Top Read(s) of the Week:  Forbes – Kanye’s Second Coming: Inside The Billion-Dollar Yeezy Empire

Why It Matters:  Personally, Kanye is something of an enigma to me.  It may be tempting to write him off after the whole Taylor Swift / VMA thing years ago.  But I think you’d be under-estimating who he is and what he’s trying to accomplish.

Consider as well:

  1. TheAtlantic – Cancel Qatar  The tremendous competition and pure joy of watching the US Women win the World Cup this week stands in stark contrast to the corruption of the men’s game.  “The money for the next Men’s World Cup would be better invested in the women’s game.”
  2. VanityFair – “I Really Feel Most Comfortable in Prison”: A Hedge Fund Ex-Con Finds It’s Hard Coming Home to GreenwichChip Skowron pleaded guilty to securities fraud, lost his freedom, and found religion. But, as it turns out, federal prison is more forgiving than Connecticut high society.
  3. GQ – The Troubling Business of Bounty Hunting  You may not realize it, but bounty hunting is still alive and well in America in 2019. It’s fueled by old laws, loose guidelines, and not-great money. In order to get a closer look inside the world of “bail enforcement agents,” writer Jeff Winkler got licensed and spent months working as a BEA. What he found was a mess for pretty much everyone caught up in a broken system.
  4. NYMag – Instagram Accidentally Made Emoji Fun Again

Business/Economics:

Top Read of the Week:  WSJ – Markets Are Calm, Then Suddenly Go Crazy. Some Investors Think They Know Why.

Why It Matters:   This is behind the Wall Street Journal’s paywall – so it may be harder to access.  Another interesting example of the impact of this cycle’s round of financial product innovation.  Investors have noticed a force some call a ‘gamma trap,’ and use tools to estimate its size and direction in order to predict market moves.”

Consider as well:

  1. CNBC – McDonald’s US franchisees ask for a Southern-style chicken sandwich to compete with Chick-fil-A  “You may not have Chick Fil A’s in your market or to the degree they have them in the southeast, but they are coming,” the board said in the email. “And they don’t discount.”
  2. Longreads – The Man Who’s Going to Save Your Neighborhood Grocery Store  American food supplies are increasingly channeled through a handful of big companies: Amazon, Walmart, FreshDirect, Blue Apron. What do we lose when local supermarkets go under? A lot — and Kevin Kelley wants to stop that.
  3. II – Inside the Geeky, Quirky, and Wildly Successful World of Quant Shop Two Sigma.  Co-founders David Siegel and John Overdeck have earned Institutional Investor’s Lifetime Achievement Award for hedge fund management this year. Paul Tudor Jones and Tom Hill dish on the $60 billion quant powerhouse’s early days.
  4. Hustle – How Costco gained a cult following — by breaking every rule of retail  Costco has found immense success by prioritizing the interests of its customers and employees over those of its shareholders.

Culture/Tech/Science:

Top Read of the Week:  NYT – Justin Verlander: The Astros’ Ace and Sleep Guru

Why It Matters:  “One of the secrets to Verlander’s dominance at this age: a lot of sleep. He regularly gets nearly 50 percent more than the average American.”

Consider as well:

  1. Jalopnik – Peak SUV Isn’t Here Yet But It’s Coming Ever Faster. In 2014, there were 70 models, by 2023, there will be 149.
  2. Mel – The Oral History of the Super Soaker  A crazy tale of how a NASA engineer accidentally invented the greatest squirt gun ever made — and changed summertime forever
  3. Bloomberg – Cement Produces More Pollution Than All the Trucks in the World  There are greener ways to make it⁠, but customers are slow to embrace the change.
  4. Guardian – ‘We’re anti-influencer’: ice-cream truck makes Instagram ‘stars’ pay double  Joe Nicchi has had enough of self-proclaimed influencers wanting free cones for publicity. Now he’s the one going viral

Best Articles This Week – 06/07/19 Edition

This week’s highlights:  Life Auditing, Ad-Fraud, and Running

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Fifteen on Friday – Issue 335


Food for Thought:

Top Read(s) of the Week:  NYT – The Surprising Benefits of Relentlessly Auditing Your Life

Why It Matters:  “We tend to think that good marriages and happy families are born of love and care, not spreadsheets. But what if that’s wrong?”

Consider as well:

  1. TheAtlantic – The Adults Who Treat Reading Like Homework  Not sure I see the problem here – “No one’s making them try to read 100 books a year.”
  2. NewYorker – How Football Leaks Is Exposing Corruption in European Soccer  While Rui Pinto sits in jail, his revelations are bringing down the sport’s most famous teams and players.
  3. BecMin – Please Stop Buying Plastic Crap for Kids  Toys are notoriously hard to recycle. That means nearly every plastic toy ever manufactured now lives in a landfill somewhere. Take a moment to visualize that.
  4. LifeHacker – Create a ‘Noticing Wall’ for Your Kid

Business/Economics:

Top Read of the Week:  FastCo – How the No.1 most creative person in business this year led the FBI to its biggest ad-fraud bust ever

Why It Matters:   The complexity behind the scenes of online advertising is breath-taking.  Blend that with criminals trying to take advantage of the system and the software company trying to stop them and you’ve got a really interesting story.

Consider as well:

  1. VanityFair – Can J. Crew Find Itself—and Its Customers—Again?
  2. BusinessWeek – The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich  Thirty-two-year-old French economist Gabriel Zucman scours spreadsheets to find secret offshore accounts.
  3. II – Private Equity Drove Two Canadians Crazy.  At BlackRock, They’re Trying to Fix It.   The world’s largest asset manager closes in on a potentially seminal deal.
  4. Jalopnik – Pogo Stick Sharing Micro Mobility Startup Cangoroo Is Truly Beyond the Pale

Culture/Tech/Science:

Top Read of the Week:  Outside – One Man’s Pointless Attempt to Rule a Strava Segment

Why It Matters:   One writer sacrificed (not even close to) everything to get to the top of the leaderboard.

Consider as well:

  1. Verge – Metadata is the biggest little problem plaguing the music industry  It’s a crisis that has left, by some estimations, billions on the table unpaid to musicians
  2. GearPatrol – Counterpoint: In Praise of the One-Watch Collection  Not long ago I realized I am surrounded by collectors.
  3. Science – Researchers strapped video cameras on 16 cats and let them do their thing.
  4. NYT – Fish Cannons, Koi Herpes and Other Tools to Combat Invasive Carp  Researchers are experimenting with a Rube Goldberg-esque mix of tactics to control hearty, nonnative swimmers that re-engineer nutrient-rich Midwest waters.
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