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

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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.”

Business/Economics:

  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.

Culture/Tech/Science:

  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