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Month: October 2017 (Page 1 of 2)

Starbucks Misspellings: Notable New One for the Collection


From a barista here in New Delhi today.

Backstory is here.

Truly the gift that keeps on giving.

🎇 Newley’s Notes 110: Delhi Diwali, Killer Kilonova, Pants on Trees


Edition 110 of my email newsletter went out earlier today.

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Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes. If you like this newsletter, please invite others to sign up.

First, a programming note: There will be no NN for the next couple of weeks. Normal programming will resume the week of November 6.

Meanwhile, this week we celebrated the Diwali holiday, or the festival of lights. In addition to candles, sweets and parties, there have been fireworks.

The use of such pyrotechnics has been in the public eye this year, because they are thought to contribute to Delhi’s already poor air quality. The Supreme Court even issued a temporary ban on the sale of firecrackers this year.

The city’s air pollution is caused by factors like farmers outside the city burning their fields this time of year, along with ever-present issues like car emissions, dust from construction sites and more.

When the temperatures drop in late fall, it means the pollutants can’t disperse as much as they normally would.

The result: On Friday mid-morning, the day after the nighttime Diwali celebrations, the PMI 2.5 reading hit hazardously high levels in the 900s. That’s astronomically high when you consider that the WHO says the reading should be kept below 10 as an annual average. Anything above 300 is considered unhealthy.

Fortunately, the air quality seems to have improved since Diwali night. It’s impossible to know if the firecracker ban had much of an effect since there are so many factors at play, but at least the general public seems to be more aware about the issue now.

✏️ What I Wrote at

Photo: the Most Laid-Back Delhi Street Dog Ever. This canine was seriously chilled out. The latest in my series of short posts documenting the metropolis’s quirky street pooches.

📲 5 Cool Tech-ish Reads This Week

  • 1. Scientists recorded two neutron stars colliding. The event, captured for the first time, occurred some 130 million light years away, creating a “telltale ripple through space-time,” writes Katia Moskvitch at Quanta Magazine. The event, as a WSJ colleague wrote, is called a “kilonova.”
  • 2. In other cool space-related news, Lego is coming out with a “Women of Space” set, featuring the astronauts Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, along with Margaret Hamilton, a computer scientist, and Nancy Grace Roman, an astronomer.
  • 3. What happens with robots take over manufacturing jobs?” The answer, as the New Yorker‘s Sheelah Kolhatkar writes in this #longread, is complicated.
  • 4. Interesting trend: Roaming bands of retirees are taking to camper vans and working seasonal warehouse jobs for Amazon, Wired reports.
  • 5. Cheatography is a new-to-me website that lets you make your own cheat-sheets. Some of the thousands on offer publicly span topics like history, search engine optimization, and coffee drinks.

💫 1 Silly Thing

💬 Quote of the week

“We were surrounded by these serene woods, and I thought it’d be fun to do something silly in that context.”

That’s from artist Peter Coffin, who adorns trees with blue jeans.

Thanks for reading, amigos. Please share this newsletter on Facebook or Twitter if you like it.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Photo: the Most Laid-Back Delhi Street Dog Ever

I have posted before about how now only are New Delhi street dogs clever and enterprising, but also totally unflappable. The often straight up sleep on busy sidewalks as people step over and around them amid this buzzing metropolis of 26 million.

But the mutt pictured above, which I encountered recently at the popular Khan Market, takes the cake. He was splayed out like this, paws in the air, dozing. Right in the middle of an entrance. Without a care in the world. In the middle of the day.

On Facebook, a friend speculated that the fellow was sleeping like this, with his belly exposed, to take advantage of air conditioning emanating from a shop on the left. That may well be the case.

Totally. Unflappable.

⚽ Newley’s Notes 109: #USMNTFail; New Oculus and Kindle; Sweet Slinky Tricks



Edition 109 of my email newsletter just went out.

To subscribe, simply enter your email address at this link. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.

Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes. If you like this newsletter, please invite others to sign up.

Well, I expected to wake up Wednesday morning to the news that the U.S. men’s national soccer team had qualified for the 2018 World Cup after beating or, at the very least, drawing with lowly Trinidad and Tobago. After all, we only needed a point, and a poor T&T side were bottom of the group and already disqualified.

Instead, disaster struck.

The U.S. lost 2-1, giving away two bad goals and generally not putting up much of a fight.

It was an insipid performance.

We are missing the World Cup for the first time since 1986. The only good thing to come out of the failed campaign was the emergence on the national stage of 19-year-old Christian Pulisic, already a legitimate star at Borussia Dortmund in Germany. He performed admirably. The rest of the team? Meh.

So, what happened? Was it poor coaching decisions by Bruce Arena? (He quit a few days later.)

Was it a lack of talent among players born in the 1990s?

Did U.S. soccer boss Sunil Gulati allow ex-coach Jurgen Klinsmann too much influence, then wait too long to fire him?

Was it simple arrogance — not preparaing sufficiently and playing like we’d already qualified?

Perhaps it was all those factors combined. I tend to agree with Michael Davies, who argued on the most recent Men in Blazers podcast that soccer is an immensely competitive game where small margins have huge effects, and that, crucially, teams in the CONCACAF region have gotten stronger thanks in part to the success of our increasingly popular MLS.

At least we’re in good company: Chile, the Netherlands, Ghana and Cameroon, among other sides that are better than ours, will also be missing out this summer in Russia.

📰 What I Wrote in The WSJ

Uber’s India Rival Raises $1.1 Billion From Tencent, SoftBank. We reported last week that talks were on. Ola says it’s in negotiations with additional investors for a further $1 billion.

✏️ What I Wrote at

“Blade Runner 2049”: Some Thoughts. TLDR: it’s awesome, but too long; an unexpected intermission — or “interval,” as they call it here in India — can really ruin the flow.

📲 5 Cool Tech-ish Reads This Week

  • 1. One reason for the rise in interracial marriage in the U.S.: online dating. People used to basically marry their neighbors. Now, according to researchers, “people are strongly connected to a relatively small group of neighbors and loosely connected to much more distant people.”
  • 2. Facebook’s Oculus is releasing a new virtual reality headset. The Oculus Go, which is wireless, will cost $199. That’s about half the original cost of the Oculus Rift. Cheaper VR devices could make the technology more prevalent.
  • 3. Good news for beach and pool-side e-book lovers: Amazon’s coming out with a waterproof Kindle. The new Oasis has a slightly larger screen than other models, an aluminum back, more storage, and costs $249.
  • 4. The seven top TED Talk hand gestures, in case of use for your next presentation, include the “Expand and Clasp,” “Measure the Loaf,” and “Pinch and Point”
  • 5. Travel pillows are ridiculous. They just don’t work, writes Kelly Conaboy in this Atlantic jeremiad.

💫 1 Silly Thing

  • 1. You have never seen anyone rock at Slinky like this. I guarantee it.

💬 Quote of the week

“Some customers cry during or after the experience. One man came in following the death of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, and wept as he tore apart the room to Linkin Park songs.”

Rage Ground, in Los Angeles, is an establishment where you can go to take out your anger, busting lamps, throwing shot glasses at walls, and more. L.A-based NN readers can book online here. Packages start at just $13.99 for five minutes.

Thanks for reading, amigos. Please share this newsletter on Facebook or Twitter if you like it.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


“Blade Runner 2049”: Some Thoughts

Given my fascination with the original 1982 Ridley Scott sci-fi classic, I wanted to share my take on “Blade Runner 2014,” which we watched yesterday.

First, the bad:

  • So, yes: it’s long. Like, 2 hours and 43 minutes long. That’s…just too long. It is a fantastic film, but does any movie really need to be nearly twice the ninety-minute length that was commonplace not so long ago? Probably not.
  • I am deeply ambivalent about the cinematic use of 3-D technology. It provided this film with some stunning, memorable shots — one of my favorites showed Robin Wright’s character from outside her office building on a rainy night — but on the whole I found it distracting. I always wonder: Is the cool thing I’m seeing in here in service of the plot, or is added just to show off the sweet tech?

Now the good:

  • It is a story about what it means to be human and the nature of memories. It is deeply empathetic.
  • The audio is incredible. The eerie synthesizers in the initial “Blade Runner” are one of my favorite elements. Here, there are compelling uses of what seem to be monks chanting and other interesting stuff.
  • Ryan Gossling is excellent. He plays a replicant, so his emotions are often under the surface, but there are human rumblings throughout. Harrison Ford is also fantastic. As is Robin Wright.

Now: A warning for those seeing the movie in India and hoping for a pure cinematic experience:

Don’t get your hopes up.

Warning: somewhat crotchedy rant ahead:

We saw the film mid-day yesterday at the high-end PVR Director’s Cut theater, which has huge, comfy, reclining seats, food and drink service, and excellent sound and visuals.

The lobby is decked out in classic movie posters and the establishment seems to bill itself as a mecca for movie purists.

But at what felt like halfway through the film, at one of the most crucial parts — a quiet and contemplative scene — the movie suddenly shut off.

As the lights came on and the audience began murmuring, I thought: Jesus, has the projector broken?

Nope, it was an (unannounced) intermission. During which commercials were shown.

As people got up to go the bathroom and hit the concession stand, we were treated to perhaps ten minutes of blaring ads for items like pregnancy tests and window blinds.

Then the lights went down and it was back to the film, but about 5 seconds earlier, so we viewed a particularly emotional segment a second time.

“But, the movie isn’t supposed to have an intermission,” I said, during the break, to a guy outside the theater who seemed to be the manager.

He sympathized, saying it is common practice for films over two hours long to have such commercial-filled breaks in India.

Moreover, as apparently mandated in the country, every time a character was shown smoking during the movie, the phrase “smoking kills” appeared in the lower right portion of the screen.

I think a sex scene may also have been edited, but I’m not sure.

On the bright side, as I noted on Twitter, there was something oddly fitting about having a film about the apocalyptic future and powerful government controls broken up by crass commerical messages and mandated health warnings.


🌌 Newley’s Notes 108: Google’s New Gadgets; Fake News Consequences; Creepy Owls


Edition 108 of my email newsletter went out yesterday.

To subscribe, simply enter your email address at this link. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.

Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes. If you like this newsletter, please invite others to sign up.

Well, the temperature is dropping ever so slightly here in New Delhi as we inch toward Diwali, which is just under two weeks away. The festival period typically ushers in cooler temps. Bring it on, I say!

Diwali is also a time when the country’s big e-commerce sites unleash huge advertising campaigns and launch mammoth sales as they battle each other to gain new users. For a flavor of the branding and deals, check out the home pages of, and

Customers certainly benefit when well-funded online shopping sites go head to head, trying to out-duel one another by slashing prices. At stake, they reckon, is users’ loyalty in the years ahead, as more and more folks start buying stuff online in this country of 1.3 billion.

📰 What I Wrote in The WSJ

Uber’s Indian Rival in Talks to Raise Up to $2 Billion

TLDR: Ola could receive the funds from SoftBank and perhaps one or more other investors. The money would give Ola fresh ammo to battle Uber here. (A trend similar to what’s happening in e-commerce is happening in ride-hailing.)

✏️ What I Wrote at

Warren Buffett’s System for Sharpening Your Career Focus — a simple exercise for determining what’s most important.

Video: Why Did the New Delhi Street Dog Cross the Road? — You tell me: Am I anthropomorphizing here?

📲 5 Cool Tech-ish Reads This Week

  • 1. Google launched some new gadgets. Among them: two new smartphones (the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL), a new laptop (the Pixelbook), new VR headset (the Daydream View). wireless headphones (Pixel Buds), and new connected home devices.

Perhaps most frightening, at least to me, is the new Google Clips camera, which, The Verge says, “takes pictures for you, using machine learning to recognize and learn faces and look for interesting moments to record.”

  • 2. Speaking of machine learning and the years ahead,, Cathy O’Neil writes that there are four kinds of futurist.

They are: People who are down with “the Singularity” — when humans and machines will one day merge, the theory goes — and aren’t worried about the future; those who believe in the Singularity and are concerned; “technoutopianists,” who are often selling a corporate vision; and those who fret about how new tech threatens “the very concept of social mobility.”

A key point: How you view the future may depend on how your favorite futurist views it.

  • 3. Museums seem to be catering to Instagram users. The likes of The Museum of Ice Cream in New York and the Renwick Gallery at the Smithsonian in Washington are proving extremely popular selfie backdrops, Wired reports.
  • 4. Fake news has real consequences. In this excellent New York Times story, Caitlin Dickerson shows how rural Twin Falls, Idaho was roiled by baseless rumors about Muslim refugees. A sobering reminder that viral news spread on Facebook can seriously affect peoples’ lives.
  • 5. THE NEW BLADERUNNER IS OUT! We’re off to see it tomorrow. If you’ve yet to take it in and want to brush up on the storylines, Vox has a guide to the various versions of the original 1982 film.

Meanwhile The WSJ’s Joe Morgenstern has a positive review, writing: “Daring in its own right, this broodingly sumptuous saga explores the primacy of feelings, the nature of memories and the essence of being human, framed as the difference between being manufactured or born.”

💫 1 Silly Thing

  • 1. Weirdest. Owl Video. Ever: Who knew the birds could…run?. (The responses to the Tweet are pretty funny, too.)

💬 Quote of the week

“It seems that with this kind of shoes which are basically just leather socks, the way that you walk is a very natural one.”

In this video, a guy decked out in medieval garb shows how the way we walk has, he says, changed over time.

Thanks for reading, amigos. Please share this newsletter on Facebook or Twitter if you like it.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Video: Why Did the New Delhi Street Dog Cross the Road?


Here’s a video I captured recently of a street dog near New Delhi’s busy Connaught Place.

The pooch caught my eye because he or she seemed to be waiting patiently near a curb. When the traffic stopped, sure enough, the canine sauntered across the street. I was interrupted by a call and the video shut off prematurely, but I can confirm his or her journey continued safely to the median.

I jokingly said on Twitter and Instagram that the dog looked both ways before crossing. That may be a stretch, but it clearly stood still until there were no vehicles approaching. Or maybe I’m anthropomorphizing?

I wonder how many household pet dogs would do the same. Street dogs the world over don’t survive long unless they’ve got their wits about them.

Previous posts on New Delhi’s street dogs:

By Me Today: India’s Ola in Talks to Raise Up to $2 Billion


The story begins:

NEW DELHI—Uber Technologies Inc.’s rival in India, Ola, is in talks to raise as much as $2 billion, a cash injection that would provide added fuel to fight the San Francisco ride-hailing giant in the world’s second-most-populous country.

ANI Technologies Pvt.’s Ola, based in Bangalore, is in discussions to receive the funds from Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. and possibly one or more other backers, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Ola, which launched in 2011—two years before Uber’s arrival in India—is locked in a tight battle with the U.S. firm for control of the Indian market, which could prove lucrative as millions of people join the internet economy via inexpensive smartphones.

Click through to read the rest.

Warren Buffett’s System for Sharpening Your Career Focus

Image result for warren buffett

James Clear shares an interesting anecdote, reportedly based on advice legendary investor Warren Buffet (pictured above) gave to his personal pilot, Mike Flint.

If you don’t want to click through, here’s the TLDR for how the Oracle of Omaha said to focus on what’s most important in your work:

  1. List your top 25 career goals
  2. Circle the 5 most important
  3. The key: Avoid the other 20 “goals” until you’ve accomplished the first 5

That’s it. Do what’s important until the big stuff is taken care of.

I like it. 

Related: my Book Notes entry from last year on “The One Thing,” By Gary Keller with Jay Papasan:

Brief re-cap: This is a short book with a simple thesis: In every job, there is one single activity that you should focus on that will improve your value to your company or your customers. You should focus on that, above all else, even if it means neglecting other responsibilities, the authors argue.

‘Slow Down. Puppies Ahead.’

Spotted here in Delhi. Not sure if this is officially sanctioned signage, but I support the effort. 🐕

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