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The Week’s Best Articles – 07/28/17

This week’s highlights: The Masochist Marathon, the evolution of private equity, and how AI finally beat checkers.

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Fifteen on Friday – 07/28/17 – Issue 246

Food for Thought:

  1. Esquire – The Masochist’s Marathon.  Since 1986, the world’s top ultrarunners have fought to compete in the Barkley Marathons—an ever-shifting race designed by a madman to break their spirits that runs through 100 miles of hellish Appalachian Mountains, unmarked trails, and snake-riddled wilderness. So far, only fourteen people have ever completed it.
  2. TheAtlantic – Schools Are Missing What Matters About Learning.  Curiosity is underemphasized in the classroom, but research shows that it is one of the strongest markers of academic success.
  3. Medium – What is Bitcoin and should you invest in it?  Cryptocurrencies are inescapable in the news these days.  Maxwell Anderson has compiled an excellent primer here on what the fuss is all about.
  4. NYT – How My Son Picked Out My New ‘Best Friend’
  5. TheGuardian – Microsoft Paint to be killed off after 32 years.  A sad day indeed.

Business/Economics:

  1. Oaktree – There They Go Again…Again.  Howard Marks’ latest missive on what is going on in markets.  “Investors should choose their risk posture based on an assessment of what’s being offered in terms of absolute return, absolute risk, and thus absolute risk-adjusted return.  But today – on that famous other hand – investors generally don’t have the luxury of holding out for absolute returns and safety like they enjoyed in the past.”
  2. NYT – Economy Needs Workers, but Drug Tests Take a Toll
  3. CF – Every Great Investment Hurts
  4. TMM – Special Report on Private Equity: 7 ways PE firms are evolving
  5. WSJ – A Hot Investment Too Popular for Its Own Good.  It has proved startlingly easy for companies to cut the rates on their leveraged loans

Culture/Tech/Science:

  1. TheCut – I Have Money for the First Time Ever and I Feel Guilty About It
  2. TC – What it’s like to ship yourself overnight on Cabin’s sleep pod bus
  3. TM – 10,000 Hours With Claude Shannon: How A Genius Thinks, Works, and Lives.  We got up-close-and-personal with a genius for five years. Here are 12 things we learned.
  4. TheAtlantic – How Checkers Was Solved.  The story of a duel between two men, one who dies, and the nature of the quest to build artificial intelligence.
  5. FWF – A Whiskey Connoisseur’s Guide to Drinking on a Budget.  Don’t waste your time and money trying to nab bottles of Pappy and other “white whales.” Instead, regain your whiskey mojo by taking advantage of these loopholes.

The Week’s Best Articles – 07/14/17 Edition

This week’s highlights: The Fyre Festival Fiasco, Cult of the Big Green Egg, and the bacteria in your Water Bottle .

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Issue 244

A hot, humid Friday greeting from Nashville. A number of interesting articles in store this week – but the real highlights this week are 3 podcast episodes you should be listening to:

  • First – Malcolm Gladwell is back with Season 2 of Revisionist History.  Check out Episode 3, Miss Buchanan’s Period Of Adjustment.  Brown v Board of Education might be the most well-known Supreme Court decision, a major victory in the fight for civil rights. But in Topeka, the city where the case began, the ruling has left a bittersweet legacy.
  • Second – Patrick O’Shaughnessy’s interview of Leigh Drogan should be required listening for any student of the financial markets.  This is an inside look at what algorithmic / quantitative investing firms actually do and how it impacts markets.
  • Finally – Freakonomics Radio’s episode called “When Helping Hurts,” is a serious contemplation of when and how social programs hurt and help the most at-risk in society

Those are quick links to their websites, but are also an easy search in Apple’s Podcasts app for the 97.4% of Fifteen on Friday readers that carry an iPhone.

Food for Thought:

  1. VF – Fyre Festival – Anatomy of a Millennial Marketing Fiasco Waiting to Happen.  Billy McFarland sold elite millennials (and his investors) on an ultra-luxurious “Coachella in the Bahamas,” but the much-ridiculed fiasco that actually took place in April derailed the 25-year-old serial entrepreneur’s checkered bid for moguldom. Inside what could be the biggest scam of the year.
  2. NYT – How We Are Ruining America.  A thoughtful piece by David Brooks. “American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class. They play on the normal human fear of humiliation and exclusion. Their chief message is, “You are not welcome here.””
  3. Boston Globe – In defense of the white male.   Maybe one fine day we’ll learn to eschew labels, or at least see beyond them, and focus on the humanity we share
  4. NBJ – Nashville has greatest cost-of-living increase in the U.S.  This has been making the rounds big time this week.
  5. WashPo – At Tour de France, doping is always part of the story

Business/Economics:

  1. ME – Former Fed Gov Fisher – “You Look Like I Need a Drink”: Comments Before the National Association of Chain Drug Stores – Credit CD – “Fisher reminds us, after Churchill, “Americans always do the right thing – after they have tried everything else.”
  2. FC – Nest Founder: “I Wake Up In Cold Sweats Thinking, What Did We Bring To The World?”  Tony Fadell, one of the minds behind the iPod and the iPhone, mulls design’s unintended consequences.
  3. CIO – Seeking Higher Returns, Sweden’s AP Pension Pushes into Private Equity  The threshold for illiquid investments will now be 40% of their portfolios, scrapping a prior 5% limit on non-listed investments.
  4. NYT – E-Commerce as a Jobs Engine? One Economist’s Unorthodox View
  5. FS – The Real Estate Investing Rule To Follow: Buy Utility, Rent Luxury.  

Culture/Tech/Science:

  1. Fatherly – A Montessori Chores Chart Showing What Age To Give Your Kid Certain Chores
  2. CM – The Cult of the Big Green Egg
  3. FC – 3 Secrets Of People Who Always Get Job Offers
  4. NYP – You’ll never want to use a reusable water bottle again.  Water bottles harbor huge levels of bacteria.  In fact, researchers revealed that drinking from the average refillable bottle “can be many times worse than licking your dog’s toy.”
  5. Wired – A Math Genius Blooms Late and Conquers His Field
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