What is Fifteen on Friday?

From business to culture, technology to design, finance to entertainment, each week Fifteen on Friday sources the most thought-provoking articles to help us all live life well and well-informed.  Enjoy.

Issue 338 – 07/12/19

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


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.



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


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.


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 – 07/05/19

This week’s highlights: Star Wars, Walmart vs. Amazon, and Adjunct Professor Poverty?

silver macbook pro

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Issue 338

by David Wells – Nashville TN
From business to culture, technology to design, finance to entertainment, each week Fifteen on Friday sources the most thought-provoking articles to help us all live life well and well-informed.  Enjoy.

Food for Thought:

Top Read(s) of the Week:  VF – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, The Ultimate Preview

Why It Matters:  I was admittedly hesitant to read this month’s cover article of Vanity Fair  fearing spoilers.   When I finally decided to risk it, I very much enjoyed this reflection on Star Wars, its cinematography and broader place in our cultural landscape.  No spoilers that I detected…

“After four decades, Star Wars is drawing to its epic conclusion. Lev Grossman goes behind the scenes with director J.J. Abrams and the cast for the inside scoop on The Rise of Skywalker.”

Consider as well:  

  1. Bloomberg – The Hotel Hackers Are Hiding in the Remote Control Curtains  Back doors to your personal data can be found in everything from smart fish tanks to Wi-Fi pineapples.
  2. NYT – Do Hand Dryers Hurt Kids’ Hearing? This 13-Year-Old Studied It  Nora Keegan noticed that dryers tended to be closer to children’s ears. So she set out on a study that was eventually published in a medical journal in Canada.
  3.  BecMin – This Is What Death Cleaning Taught Me About Life   “Do not ever imagine that anyone will wish—or be able—to schedule time off to take care of what you didn’t bother to take care of yourself. No matter how much they love you, don’t leave this burden to them.”
  4. NYT – How the U.S. Beat England to Reach the World Cup FinalGame time is Sunday at 11 ET / 10 CT – Tune in live or set your DVR


Top Read of the Week:  Recode – Inside the conflict at Walmart that’s threatening its high-stakes race with Amazon 

Why It Matters:   Walmart bought Jet.com to compete with Amazon, but Jet founder Marc Lore is feeling the heat as e-commerce losses surpass $1 billion.

Consider as well:

  1. NYT – Apple Watch Hasn’t Crushed the Swiss. Not Yet.
  2. Bloomberg – Can Goldman’s Trading ‘Rainmaker’ Bring Back the Glory Days?
  3. Vox – CEOs made 287 times more money last year than their workers did  Companies have finally started reporting CEO-worker pay ratios.
  4. HBR – When Having Too Many Experts on the Board Backfires


Top Read of the Week:  Splinter – The Revenge of the Poverty-Stricken College Professors Is Underway in Florida. And It’s Big.

Why It Matters:   If I had to guess at the most common misconception about where the average person thinks that runaway college tuition inflation is landing, most people would say in professor’s pockets.   As this article highlights, the use of adjuncts is an expanding phenomena at universities often times at poverty level wages.  This is obviously a multi-faceted issue and probably warrants greater transparency out of Phd programs in certain disciplines about the reality of getting a tenure-track seat.

Consider as well:

  1. Engadget – Apple’s new iOS 13 feature corrects your gaze during video calls.  Finally!
  2. 538 – KD And Kyrie Were The Final Pieces Of Brooklyn’s Brilliant Rebuild
  3. NYT – What’s It Like to Live in Barcelona’s Most Famous Gaudí Home? A Bit Inconvenient
  4. NYT – A Unicorn Lost in the Valley, Evernote Blows Up the ‘Fail Fast’ Gospel


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