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Month: August 2016

Indian Newspapers: So Punny

Newspapers here in India are serious about their puns and wordplay. Here, a sampling taken just from front pages yesterday!

Snapshot from Delhi: Enterprising Street Dog

Spotted recently in Connaught Place, downtown Delhi: an opportunistic street dog drinking pooled water, after a rainstorm, from atop a parked car. 

He looked at me as if to say, what’s so strange about this, and why the hell are you taking my picture? 

The Capybaras are Coming. Be Very Afraid

2016 08 25capybara


Capybaras, giant rodents native to South America, could become Florida’s next big invasive species, a biologist warned August 3 in Columbia, Mo., at the 53rd Annual Conference of the Animal Behavior Society.

“Capybaras have been introduced to northern Florida,” said Elizabeth Congdon of Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla. And there are enough similarities to nutria — large invasive rodents that have caused havoc in many states — to warrant a closer look at the South American newcomers.

Scary stuff indeed. Capybaras: cute and cuddly pets? Or the next nutria? Maybe both? We shall see.

Previously in capybara references: I mentioned in a Newley’s Note edition back in May that I’d been looking into the creatures.

I was researching capybaras – yes, you read that right; they’ve been in the news – and came across this amazing video of two people who have made pets of the huge rodents. Here’s a video of the pair, Romeo and Tuff’n, going shopping.

And of course there’s one of the best videos ever, which I think I mentioned in my very first NN: capybaras taking a dip in an onsen.

How to Achieve Musical Success, According to a Map from 1913

2016 08 23map

Atlas Obscura:

When it comes to finding success, practice does really make perfect.

That’s the message behind this 1913 allegorical map entitled “The Road to Success,” a drawing that turns the figurative journey towards artistic triumph into a cartographic depiction of an actual climb towards victory.

The map appeared first in an October 1913 edition of The Etude, a magazine covering musical topics that was also known as Presser’s Musical Magazine, named for its editor Theodore Presser.

I love it. Applicable to much in life, not just music. Click through for a bigger version. And beware bohemiansim!

In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: India’s Hike; Alibaba’s Expansion; Ugly McMansions, Gorgeous Goats

The latest edition of my email newsletter went out to subscribers on Wednesday. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox, sign up here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe!

Hi friends,

Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter in which I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

Anasuya and I are continuing to settle in nicely here in New Delhi. Between new jobs and seeing friends and family and getting the house set up, it’s been a whirlwind.

Not lost amid all of that, though, is this milestone: Seven years ago this week we adopted Ashley, our beloved Bangkok street dog.

(Ashley, by the way, is also loving India, especially our small yard, where she enjoys sunning herself and watching the birds and squirrels in the trees above.)

Here’s a blog post I wrote on the fifth anniversary of our adopting her.

What I wrote in The WSJ

India’s WhatsApp Rival Hike Valued at $1.4 Billion

The story begins:

Indian messaging app Hike Ltd. has raised $175 million in a fundraising round led by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Taiwanese electronics assembler Foxconn Technology Group.

The new investment values the homegrown app, a rival to Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp, at about $1.4 billion, Kavin Bharti Mittal, Hike’s founder and chief executive, said on Tuesday.

Alibaba Thinks Outside the China Box

Click through for a video. You may recognize the narrator’s voice.

The story begins:

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., its business maturing at home in China, is seeking out growth in India and Southeast Asia.

In India, the internet company in recent months has snapped up executives with experience in the country’s fast-growing, highly competitive e-commerce sector, a sign it could be planning an online-shopping push there. In Southeast Asia, Alibaba paid $1 billion in April for a controlling stake in Singapore-based e-commerce startup Lazada Group, its biggest overseas acquisition to date.

Apple Is Still Mulling Over Its Plans for India Stores, Government Says

The story begins:

India may have paved the way for Apple Inc. to open stores in the country, but a senior government official says the company hasn’t submitted any detailed plans yet — likely because of local-sourcing rules.

India’s government in June loosened foreign-direct investment restrictions in several sectors.

The government said foreign-owned single-brand retailers like Apple, which is keen to tap potential growth in the huge market, would have a three-year grace period from local-sourcing requirements. Such rules require firms buy at least 30% of their manufacturing materials from Indian vendors.

But since June, “we haven’t heard” anything about Apple’s plans, said a senior government official, declining to be identified.

Facebook Makes New Wi-Fi Push into India After Free Basics

The story begins:

Facebook Inc.’s controversial plan to get Indians online may have failed earlier this year, but the company says it is making a new push to expand internet access in the country, a key market for future user growth.

In the new effort, which Facebook is calling Express Wifi, the Menlo Park, Calif. company is working with internet service providers, or ISPs, and carriers to provide wireless hot spots in rural parts of the country, such as mom-and-pop shops, where users can get cheap access to the internet.

5 items that are worth your time this week:

1) “Superblocks: how Barcelona is taking city streets back from cars”

Interesting story in Vox, with images, illustrating how planners have used “superblocks” (or superilles) to make the city more pedestrian friendly.

2) “This Basically Anonymous Fund Manager Oversees $800 Billion”

Bloomberg profiles Gerry O’Reilly, who’s in charge of the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund.

“Index funds are often called ‘passive investments,’” Ben Steverman writes, “yet there’s nothing particularly passive about what O’Reilly and his Vanguard colleagues do all day.”

3) “McMansions 101: What Makes a McMansion Bad Architecture?”

An explanation, in architectural terms, of why McMansions are ugly.

4) “Baton Rouge 2016 Flood: Man saves woman and dog from sinking car.”

Remarkable video. But pretty heavy. Do you need a chaser? Here you go…

5) “These may be the most magnificent portraits of goats and sheep you’ll ever see”


Have a great week, and let me know what’s new in your world.


P.S. Know someone who’d like this newsletter? Please forward it along.

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2016 08 08 indiatweet

More on this in future posts, but…A and I moved to India! I’m penning this post from New Delhi, our new home after two and a half years in Singapore.

Above is a Tweet I posted sharing the news. Below is the Newley Notes missive in which I explain a bit more.

I’m very excited about this new adventure. Expect more posts on India, tech, and life in the world’s second-most-populous nation.

Hi friends,

Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly (most of the time) newsletter in which I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

This is a special edition: it’s the first one I’m penning from New Delhi, our new home!

Anasuya and I moved here from Singapore about a week and a half ago — hence the weeks-long Newley’s Notes absence — and are settling in well so far.

I’ll be working out of the WSJ bureau here in the capital of the world’s second-most-populous country. I’m so, so excited to be in this vibrant, dynamic nation, and to be able to focus more on tech developments here. And having family and friends nearby is a huge bonus.

It’s an exciting time for India, a country of 1.3 billion where people are increasingly coming online for the first time, many on low-cost smartphones.

How is technology changing their lives? Is it improving them? What are some of the world’s biggest tech firms — Facebook, Google, Amazon, Uber — doing to win here? How are local startups innovating? These are questions I hope to answer in my stories.

On to this week’s edition.

What I wrote in The WSJ

Grab, an Uber Rival in Southeast Asia, Is Set to Raise $1 Billion

The story, which I wrote with two exceptional colleagues in Hong Kong, begins:

As Uber Technologies Inc. turns away from China, a competitor is raising funds to cement its dominance in Southeast Asia and fend off the tech titan based in San Francisco.

Uber’s decision to sell its China business to Didi Chuxing Technology Co. is giving Singapore-based Grab renewed confidence it can take on Uber and win on its home turf. Grab says it has captured much of Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing market with more than half of private-car rides in the region.

Valued at $1.6 billion in its previous funding round, Grab is planning to raise about $1 billion in fresh capital from investors including Didi and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.,a person familiar with the situation said Wednesday. The first chunk of that fundraising, a $600 million dose, is expected to be completed this week, the person said.

How Uber Plans to Avoid Getting Didi-ed in India

The story begins:

Uber is upping its game in India following its retreat from China.

The San Francisco ride-hailing company earlier this week gave up its costly battle for users in China, selling its business there to homegrown rival Didi Chuxing Technology Co…

What I wrote at

Three additions to my “book notes” series of posts, in which I share notes from my readings.

Book Notes — ‘Never Eat Alone,’ by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz

Brief recap: A popular book about the power of networking. I didn’t find it revelatory, but appreciate the central theme, which is common sense: that you should help friends just to help them, not because you expect something in return. In other words, as the author writes, networking can be a huge advantage – but don’t keep score.

Book Notes — ‘Deep Work,’ by Cal Newport

Brief recap: Newport, an assistant professor of computer science at Georgetown University, argues that knowledge workers must devote themselves entirely to the most sophisticated and valuable contributions they can make – they must concentrate on what he calls “deep work.” Common sense, yes, but the book provides some compelling insights and plenty of practical tips. Highly recommended.

Book Notes — ‘Den of Thieves,’ by James B. Stewart

Brief recap: An absolute classic. Pulitzer-prize winning Jim Stewart tells, though in-depth reporting and riveting storytelling, the story of the insider trading scandals that rocked Wall Street in the 1980s.

5 items that are worth your time this week:

1) Nice Cargo Shorts! You’re Sleeping on the Sofa

A lighthearted WSJ story out of New York that blew up online — we’re talking 83,000 Facebook shares and 600 comments. The nut graf:

Relationships around the country are being tested by cargo shorts, loosely cut shorts with large pockets sewn onto the sides. Men who love them say they’re comfortable and practical for summer. Detractors​ say they’ve been out of style for years, deriding them as bulky, uncool and just flat-out ugly.

2) After you’ve read that, check out this hilarious Vice piece, in which the author unpacks the WSJ story.

3) When LBJ Ordered Pants From the White House

Speaking of clothing, this is not new, but new to me. Visit the link and scroll down to the hear the remarkble audio of a phone call Lyndon Johnson made to the Haggar clothing company in Dallas in 1964. Audio is possibly NSFW, given graphic anatomical descriptions — not to mention audible burping.

4) America Seen From Abroad: Arrogant, Nice, Tech-Savvy, Free

I love this. The AP asked people all over the world for their impressions of Americans.

One of my favorites:

— “America? Uhh, that’s a huge country. Burgers, the American dream, choppers, … Elvis, cowboys. We dream of America and they dream about Europe. But one thing for sure, they cannot make beer.” — Knut Braaten, 43, handyman, Oslo, Norway.

5) App of the week: Prisma, which turns “every photo into art.” It’s like Instagram, but it makes your pics way cooler.

Have a great week, and let me know what’s new in your world.


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