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Month: October 2016

In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Apple’s Newest Gadgets; Frontline on the election; Super-Sophisticated Poker Cheating

Newleys notes

Edition 71 of my email newsletter went out to subscribers today. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox before I post them here, sign up at this link. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe.

Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.

Reader M chastised me a few weeks ago when I said the weather here in Delhi seemed to have turned the corner, with temps starting to dip ever so slightly.

No, he said, it’s still hot here!

Well, I can say for sure this time: It really is cooling off! The other night the mercury dropped…wait for it…under 80 degrees Fahrenheit, or to about 26 Celsius. Bring it on! I am so looking forward to a real fall after a decade in steamy lowland Southeast Asia.

One programming note: Due to travel there will be no NN next week. I’ll rap at you again the week of Nov. 7 (when it will be even cooler!).


1) Apple announced new laptops and a TV app. The Verge has a good rundown of the newest products. I can’t decide if it’s cool or gimmicky, but the MacBook Pro’s so-called Touch Bar – a touchable strip above the keyboard – is interesting. As for the TV app: It’s too bad, though predictable since Apple wants to sell you its own content, that it lacks Netflix and Amazon Video.

2) Frontline’s two-hour-long presidential election show is available on YouTube. It’s called “The Choice 2016.” This has been a campaign for the history books; this show looks up to the task of putting things in perspective.

3) Scientists have identified the ten most relaxing songs ever. Number one, called “Weightless,” was made with input from sound therapists. Here’s more on that one, and the rest of the list.

4) And in other music news: a Green Day fan got up on stage, grabbed a guitar, and killed it on “When I Come Around.” Apparently the guy was holding a sign at a concert in Chicago that said “I Can Play Every Song on ’Dookie,” a Green Day album. Front man Billie Joe Armstrong pulled him from the crowd, and the rest is history. Check out the video here.

5) Beware high-end poker cheating devices. Crazy story about a guy who sourced from China a sophisticated, $1,500 device inserted into a smartphone that can be used to read cards surreptitiously.

Thanks for reading. If you like NN, please forward it to a friend. Any feedback? Hit me up.

– Newley

Delhi Snapshot: Sidewalk Fruit Vendor

Spotted yesterday near Connaught Place.

Amazing Video: Hippo Devouring a Watermelon in One Bite

This Vine, embedded above and online here, is mesmerizing. I saw it posted to Twitter recently.

There’s a slightly longer version, with an alternate — and more frightening, given how close the camera is to the creature’s maw — view on YouTube here.

And then there’s the original video, which includes a bit more footage before the chomping occurs.

It comes from the Nagasaki Bio Park in Japan, according to this this UPI story from April, and its description reads “Learn how hippopotamus eat whole watermelon!”


Quote of the Week: David Letterman Visits India

David letterman india

“You talk about the energy of New York City — India makes New York City look like nap time.”

That’s from an in-depth New York Times story this week on what the late-night icon has been up to since retirement (beyond growing an impressive beard).

Letterman apparently traveled here to world’s second-most-populous country to film a TV series on global warming called “Years of Living Dangerously.” He continued:

“The first day was very depressing. You smell what you think might be furniture burning, and it never leaves.”

“And then,” he added, “one day it would be exhilarating. What never seemed to waver was their optimism. The fact that there’s 1.2 billion people is, to them, an asset, where we would think, oh my God, what are we going to do?”

Here’s more info on the series. The show airs on National Geographic Channel later this month.

In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Thai King Dies; iPhone 7 Photography; Galactic Revelation; Lil Wayne

Newleys notes

Edition 69 of my email newsletter went out to subscribers Sunday. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox before I post them here, sign up at this link. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe.

Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.

A huge story this week here in Asia has been the death of Thailand’s king, Bhumibol Adulyadej (an issue I’ve been following closely given the years we lived in Bangkok). Some of our WSJ stories have looked at the potential economic impact on Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy, which has already been struggling; and the beginning of the funeral process:

Tens of thousands of people, many dressed in black and weeping, knelt in the streets of Thailand’s capital Friday as a convoy carried the body of King Bhumibol Adulyadej to the city’s Grand Palace from the hospital where he died the day before.

It was the beginning of a funeral process that could take months or even years to complete. The government has declared a one-year mourning period for King Bhumibol, who was 88 and reigned for 70 years.

In the short term, 64-year-old Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn will become the country’s next monarch after he has taken time to grieve for his father, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has said.

As for the crown prince, the BBC is reporting today that government officials say he wants his coronation to be held off for a year or more.

“He said at this time everyone is sad, he is still sad, so every side should wait until we pass this sad time.”


1) The new iPhone 7 takes some pretty badass photos. As this detailed blog post points out, the gadget’s dual-camera system allows for “Portrait Mode,” which is Apple-speak for depth effect. That’s he ability to achieve the kind of depth of field usually only possible with fancier cameras.

2) There are way more galaxies in our universe than previously believed. Bad news, if you’re already feeling cosmically insignificant: As The Guardian reports: “There are a dizzying 2 trillion galaxies in the universe, up to 20 times more than previously thought, astronomers reported on Thursday.” (I like this comment on story: "They’ll have to change the Monty Python Universe song again! <–video NSFW: galactically graphic depiction.)

3) "Was was the worst year in history? Slate posed that question to several authors and academics. 1914, the year World War I began, gets a lot of votes.

4) Lil Wayne gave an amazing interview to the NYT. My favorite of the rapper’s responses:

With this book, were you worried about revisiting a difficult time?

I haven’t read it, and I don’t plan on reading it. I’m not one of those people who revisit things. I don’t remember [expletive]. I could meet the president and forget it. Of course I thought it was because I smoke too much. But somebody told me: “The reason why you don’t remember things is that it’s not the same for you as it is everybody else. Because you are it.”

5) A guy put together a map of global airport WiFi passwords. It’s pretty impressive.

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

— Newley

In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Google’s Internet Bikes; James Paan; Bradley to Swansea; Trump Fallout

Newleys notes

Edition 68 of my email newsletter went out to subscribers yesterday. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox before I post them here, sign up at this link. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe.

Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.

Story of the week, and story of next week – and weeks to come, I’m sure: Donald Trump.

Here’s the very NSFW audio, and a piece on how it surfaced. Here’s a list of the Republican leaders who have jumped ship, and when they did so. Will he quit? Trump tells the The WSJ “I never, ever give up.". And finally, from a WSJ colleague, the fallout:

A divided Republican Party descended into turmoil, as a startling chorus of GOP candidates and officials repudiated their own presidential candidate and scrambled to find personal paths to political survival just a month before Election Day.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Saturday told party officials to redirect funds away from nominee Donald Trump to down-ballot candidates, according to an official informed of the decision. In practical terms, the party will be working to mobilize voters who support GOP House and Senate candidates regardless of their position on the presidential race.

What I wrote in The WSJ

James Bond Actor Pierce Brosnan Stars in Ad for Indian Pan Masala

Sometimes you have to hunt hard for stories. Sometimes they find you:

Pierce Brosnan is the new face of Pan Bahar, an Indian brand of “paan masala,” a concoction of areca nut, a stimulant, and spices often chewed along with tobacco or betel leaf by millions in South Asians.

The debonair actor, a former James Bond, is appearing as a pitchman for the mixture, which carries a government-mandated warning declaring that it is “injurious to health.” The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies the areca nut as carcinogenic to humans.

A front-page ad in the Times of India on Friday featured a photo of a bearded Mr. Brosnan in a tuxedo holding a container of Pan Bahar above the slogan “Class never goes out of style.”

How Google’s Bicycle-Riding Internet Tutors Are Getting Rural Indian Women Online

For this story, I traveled to a village outside Jaipur, India. Click through for photos. The story begins:

The internet fails to reach millions of women in the small towns and villages of India, so Google is trying to deliver it to them — by bicycle.

The Alphabet Inc. unit has built an army of thousands of female trainers and sent them to the far corners of the Subcontinent on two-wheelers, hoping to give rural woman their first taste of the web. Each bike has a box full of connected smartphones and tablets for women to try and train on.

The idea is to give people who have never even sent an email a better understanding of how being connected could improve their lives. Families that can afford to be online often chose not to be because they do not see the value. Meanwhile women are sometimes blocked by their families from new technology.

5 items that are worth your time this week:

1) Email newsletter of the week: Sunday New York Times Digest

I’ve mentioned many times how much I love email newsletters, like the one summing up stories in every New Yorker issue.

Here’s a similar one – it’s not new, but it’s new to me – that provides a round-up of what’s in every edition of the Sunday New York Times.

2) “In a wealthy Virginia suburb, their cars are their beds.”

The Washington Post profiles people in Fairfax County whose only homes are their cars.

3) Huge news for U.S. soccer: Bob Bradley, former men’s national team coach, is the new manager of English Premier League club Swansea. Sports Illustrated has the story. Here’s more from The Guardian about what Bradley had to say, not long after joining Swansea, about current U.S. coach Jürgen Klinsmann.

4) “The Opposite of a Muse.”

That’s the title of a New Yorker story about Isabelle Mège, a woman in Paris who for 16 years has been gotten well-known photographers to take photos of her.

5) Here’s a fun, informative, two-minute video on the benefits of meditation.

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


Delhi Snapshot: Carrying Goods at Night 

Snapped last night in New Delhi’s Nizamuddin East neighborhood. 

Video: The Things You See in New Delhi Traffic

Traffic here in New Delhi is often many things: chaotic, congested, beguiling. 

It is never, however, boring. 

Here’s a video I recorded one recent night on the way home from work. 

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