Newley’s Notes 138: The. World. Cup!; RIP Tony Bourdain; Japanese Mini-Truck Gardening

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Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes.

So, can you believe the World Cup begins on Thursday? I am nearly giddy with excitement, as I always am when the world’s most popular sporting event rolls around every four years.

Passion! Bravery! Physical skill! Cheating! Subterfuge! National pride! Abject disappointment!

The month-long tournament has all of these, and more. The world today feels increasingly fragmented, destabilized and disjointed; the competition, though, is one of the few truly global events anymore that the vast majority of the world watches and cares about.

Sadly, as you probably know, the U.S. won’t be participating, having failed to qualify for the first time in more than three decades, however. For a post-mortem on this disaster, I suggest this longread from Andrew Helms and Matt Pentz in The Ringer: Own Goal: The Inside Story of How the USMNT Missed the 2018 World Cup.

On a happier note, here’s something decidedly up-beat to consume: a “mixtape” video on YouTube by Beats (yes, Beats) featuring Brazil’s Neymar, Germany’s Mesut Ozil, England’s Harry Kane and more. My favorite part: the cameo by France’s Patrice “I Love This Game” Evra.

With no U.S. to root for, I will be cheering on Egypt. Not just because of their supremely gifted and lovable striker Mohamed Salah, but for their veteran goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, who at age 45 will be the World Cup’s oldest-ever player. More on goalkeeping below…

Meanwhile, a World Cup-related hobby of mine: Watching from afar as the British media and pundits talk up up England’s chances of victory, then subsequently blame factors supposedly beyond England’s control when the team inevitably crashes out. (I’m betting that this year’s excuse will be that the players are inordinately consumumed with, and have been derailed by, criticism on social media.)

For more on this, see my 2016 blog post, Why You Shouldn’t be Surprised When England Lose. I penned that just hours before England took the field against Iceland in the Euros. Looking back, my only regret in the piece is that I said I expected them to win that game. They lost, of course.

And finally, a new blog post at Loris Karius and the Existential Pain of Goalkeeping. Contains a requisite Albert Camus quote. A subject so close to my heart it has taken me something like two weeks to hit the publish button on this.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🖥️ 1) Microsoft Is Buying GitHub for $7.5 Billion in Stock [WSJ] — Satya Nadella wants to expand beyond Micrsosft’s older products and focus on new tech like cloud computing. GitHub, which allows developers to post and collaborate on code, fits the bill. In a similar deal, you’ll recall Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $27 billion in 2016. (Among the winners in the GitHub deal: prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which is getting $1 billion back on its $100 million investment in the startup in 2012.)

🔍 2) Facebook Gave Device Makers Deep Access to Data on Users and Friends [New York Times] — Facebook permitted makers like Apple and Samsung “access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders,” the Times reports.

🔫 3) Google Renounces AI Weapons; Will Still Work With Military [Bloomberg] — After unrest among staff, Google “pledged not to use its powerful artificial intelligence for weapons, illegal surveillance and technologies that cause ‘overall harm,'” but will keep working with the military, Mark Bergen reports.

📱4) Apple iOS 12: the biggest new features coming to the iPhone [The Verge] — Among the tweaks to Apple’s newest mobile operating system, writes Chris Welch, are Screen Time (reveals how much time you’re spending on your device); grouped notifications (to try to tame alert chaos); Group FaceTime (for video-calling with friends); and Memoji (a Bitmoji-like feature that lets you craft an emoji that looks like you).

📺 5) Amazon Scores Rights Deal for English Premier League Soccer [WSJ] — The deal allows the Seattle giant to stream in the UK 20 matches a season on Amazon Prime. “But the move represents a significant boost to Amazon’s so-far modest foray into live sporting events,” my WSJ colleagues write.

🍴 6) Anthony Bourdain loved Asia without fetishizing it. And Asia loved him back [Quartz] — “Anthony Bourdain was, in many ways, the US’s top ambassador to Asia,” Anne Quito writes. RIP.

🍔 7) The Ultimate Guide to Regional Beach Food in America [Eater] — Sadly, the shrimpburgers at Beaufort, S.C.’s Shrimp Shack appear not to have made this otherwise fine list.

🔑 8) Web surfing #ProTips of the week: 27 Incredibly Useful Things You Didn’t Know Chrome Could Do Shift-Control-T to re-open a recently closed tab, which I discovered a few months back, is a game changer. (Thanks, Mech!)

🌿 9) Gorgeous Japanese thing of the week: The Japanese Mini Truck Garden Contest is a Whole New Genre in Landscaping [Spoon & Tamago] — Every year the Japan Federation of Landscape Contractors puts on a contest in which landscapers build (super cool) mini-gardens in the backs of pickup trucks. Click through for pics; more images here and here.

🍉 10) Silly dog of the week: This very good boy eats watermelon in a spectacularly gentle fashion [Twitter video].

🔥 Quote of the week:

“Maybe you’ve seen people doing this in public and thought, what is that person doing with those bonded sheets of paper. FYI, it’s called reading a goddamned book.”

That’s from an excellent video by The Onion called Increase Your Cognitive Ability By Reading A Fucking Book For Once.

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👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Published by Newley

Hi. I'm Newley Purnell. I cover technology and business for The Wall Street Journal, based in New Delhi. I use this site to share my stories and often blog about the books I read, tech trends, sports, travel, and our dog Ginger. Join the growing group of readers who get my weekly email newsletter.

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