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The Week’s Best Articles – 08/04/17

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

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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

Business/Economics:

  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.

Culture/Tech/Science:

  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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