What is Fifteen on Friday?

Fifteen on Friday (Fof) is a weekly newsletter that is delivered every Friday afternoon directly to your inbox.  Almost 4.5 years ago (227 weekly issues later), I started sending around a weekly round up of what I thought was the most interesting stuff from the web.  As an investor, strategist, and entrepreneur – I read broadly and consider deeply what is moving and changing in the world.  FoF is what struck me this week as most interesting and relevant.

There is not one core subject matter that we cover here.  Knowledge and wisdom is inherently cross-disciplinary in nature.  Below you’ll find my take on the world of arts, culture, business, science and technology.  Hopefully you’ll see something interesting, perplexing, concerning, or entertaining!

The Week’s Best Articles – 08/11/17

This week’s highlights: Cheaper healthcare, Brands strike back, and the importance of body language.


Fifteen on Friday – 08/11/17 – Issue 248

Food for Thought:

  1. NYT – On Health Care, Who Needs Congress?  Regardless of whether Congress enacts health care reform, the private sector isn’t waiting.
  2. WashPo – Rise of the machinesCredit DH – Robots are increasingly being deployed to fill jobs for which there aren’t enough qualified applicants.
  3. GuardianUK – How the middle class hoards wealth and opportunity for itself.  This is thought provoking – “American society is dominated by an elite 20% that ruthlessly protects its own interests”
  4. Medium – I stopped checking Facebook for a year, without deleting the app. Here’s what I learned.  The habit to break isn’t Facebook, but something else.
  5. USA Today – I invested early in Google and Facebook. Now they terrify me. – Credit JC – ‘Brain hacking’ Internet monopolies menace public health, democracy, writes Roger McNamee


  1. NYT – Despite S.E.C. Warning, Wave of Initial Coin Offerings Grows  46 new coin offerings have been announced and an additional 204 are moving toward fund-raising, according to data from Tokendata.io.
  2. Bloomberg – Americans Are Dying Younger, Saving Corporations Billions.  Life expectancy gains have stalled. The grim silver lining? Lower pension costs
  3. NYT – The Potential and Peril of Giving a Brand a Human Face
  4. WSJ – Brands Strike Back: Seven Strategies to Loosen Amazon’s Grip Some give local stores first dibs on new products; others seek to enforce minimum advertised prices.
  5. Engadget – All Apple had to do to sell iPads was make them cheaper.  It turns out Apple’s customers just wanted a plain old iPad for not a lot of cash.


  1. NYT – He Can Hit a Golf Ball 445 Yards. Can He Become a Golfer?  For long-drive champion Jamie Sadlowski, turning lightning-strike drives into consistent birdies is the key to earning a spot on the PGA Tour.
  2. WSJ – The Men Who Trade ISIS Loot.  The middlemen who buy and sell antiquities looted by Islamic State from Syria and Iraq explain how the smuggling supply chain works.
  3. TED Talks – This is What Happens When You Reply to Spam Email.  
  4. CNET – Firefox Fights Back.  Inside Mozilla, CEO Chris Beard and his team are preparing to outmaneuver Google’s Chrome browser. The battle begins in November, with their release of Firefox 57.
  5. BI – Body language is more important than you think — and it can even outweigh your IQ

The Week’s Best Articles – 08/04/17

This week’s highlights: Smartphones, Palantir, and 100-year old Pyrex.


Fifteen on Friday – 08/04/17 – Issue 247

One of life’s true joys in my opinion is when someone who is an expert at a particular field explains to you what is actually going on in something that you observe.  In that experience, it is as if something that you thought was two dimensional suddenly has a third dimension added to it.  I had that experience this week listening to several episodes of podcast, Switched on Pop – “A podcast breaking down how popular music works.”

We all know and experience songs that we love on the radio that stick in our heads and become part of the cultural zeitgeist.  Song writer, Charlie Harding, and Nate Sloan, PhD candidate in musicology, turn their learned ears to chart-toppers and explain why they do or don’t work.  This is the magic of a great podcast at its best.

Food for Thought:

  1. The Atlantic – Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?  I am almost didn’t include any more articles in this section – this one is that important.  This is simply a must read – whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt/uncle – the impact of unfettered technology on kids is really staggering.  “More comfortable online than out partying, post-Millennials are safer, physically, than adolescents have ever been. But they’re on the brink of a mental-health crisis.”
  2. First Things – Dress Up – What we Lost in the Casual Revolution  “At the end of the twentieth century, dress underwent another great change; call it the “Tailored Renunciation” or the “Casual Revolution.” Underlying it is not the triumph of one class but rather the loss among all classes of a sense of occasion”
  3. NYT – Want to Be Happy? Buy More Takeout and Hire a Maid, Study Suggests
  4. TM – Infographic: How to Win Friends & Influence People.  It’s not rocket science, but Dale Carnegie’s classic still holds up.
  5. NYMag – Why You Feel Richer or Poorer Than You Really Are


  1. TheGuardian – Palantir: the ‘special ops’ tech giant that wields as much real-world power as Google  Peter Thiel’s CIA-backed, data-mining firm honed its ‘crime predicting’ techniques against insurgents in Iraq. The same methods are now being sold to police departments. Will they inflame already tense relations between the public and the police?
  2. ZH – P&G Slashed Digital Ad Spending, This Is What Happened Next
  3. Economist – America’s uncompetitive markets harm its economy  New research suggests that too little competition deters investment
  4. CIO – New Workers Must Save 20% of Income to Match Baby Boomers’ Retirement.  Report finds new workers face “hostile economic environment.”
  5. NYT – The Secret Life of the City Banana – Credit AM –  Millions of bananas arrive every week in New York City. It takes a lot to get them from the boat to the bodega.


  1. Deadspin – The Chris Paul Problem Is An Analytics Problem
  2. NPR – Does Your Family’s Century-Old Pyrex Still Rule The Kitchen?
  3. BH – How to Be a “Great Student” and Learn Absolutely Nothing At All. If I wanted to find the smartest kids on the planet, where would I look?
  4. Bloomberg – Driving Tesla’s Model 3 Changes Everything  We took one out for a spin, and have little doubt the age of electric cars has arrived.
  5. Economist – How to make soldiers’ brains better at noticing threats  “In a project paid for in part by IARPA, the team have stimulated the brains of more than 1,000 volunteers using a 9V battery connected to electrodes on the scalp. After half an hour of stimulation, volunteers spot in test photographs 13% threats.”
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