The 20 Best ‘Best of 2014′ Lists

  1. Best Books of 2014WSJ
  2. The books Quartz read in 2014 — Quartz
  3. The best books of 2014 — The Economist
  4. 10 best nonfiction books of 2014 — Stephen Carter at Bloomberg View
  5. The 10 Best Books of 2014NYT
  6. The Best Books of 2014 — Amazon
  7. The Best Book Covers of 2014NYT
  8. Longreads’ Best of 2014 — Longreads
  9. The Best Movies of 2014 — Richard Brody at The New Yorker
  10. Best movies of 2014 with behavioral economics themes — Cass Sunstein at Bloomberg View
  11. The 20 best movies of 2014 — A.V. Club
  12. The Best Movie Posters of 2014 — MUBI Notebook
  13. The 10 Best TV Shows of 2014 — Vulture
  14. Best TV Of 2014 — NPR
  15. Best albums of 2014 — Rateyourmusic.com
  16. The 100 Best Tracks of 2014 — Pitchfork
  17. Best iPhone photos of 2014 — iPhone Photography Awards
  18. Top physics breakthroughs of 2014 — Physics World
  19. The Best Tech Quotes of 2014 — Vauhini Vara at The New Yorker
  20. Embedded above and on YouTube here: Top 30 Goals World Cup 2014, by HeilRJ.

Aunt Cece and Her Pecan Pie Make Their WSJ Debut

2014 12 16 aunt cece

Longtime Newley.com readers will recall that I have blogged, in past years, about my Aunt Cece’s pecan pie.

I absolutely love it. And I make a point to bake one every Thanksgiving.

I’m happy to say that her fantastic dish figures in this story I wrote for WSJ Expat about connections that folks who live abroad feel to food from home:

American holidays and customs resonate strongly with me during this time of year, even amid the heat and sunshine of my adopted Southeast Asian home.

The nostalgia surprises me sometimes. Born in Oregon and raised in South Carolina, when I still lived in the U.S. I never really cared that much about Thanksgiving, for instance. Then I moved to Thailand in 2006. It was only there, surrounded by central Bangkok’s gray concrete buildings, with puttering tuk-tuks buzzing in my ears, that this most American of holidays firmly took root in my heart.

Perhaps it was homesickness mixing with a bit of sentimentality I didn’t know I had. The result was a hankering for down-home side dishes like deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, and—best of all—my Aunt Cece’s South Carolina pecan pie, not to mention cranberry sauce and my mother’s oyster pie. My wife—also an American—and I used these dishes to maintain a connection to home and celebrate with our close-knit group of friends since our relatives were so far away. We moved to Singapore in February and continue to celebrate American holidays here, in this similarly tropical city-state.

It turns out I’m not the only foreigner whose view on his or her home country’s holidays have changed over time, though not always in ways you’d expect.

Click through for photos, input from other expats, and — perhaps best of all — the recipe for Aunt Cece’s pie.

By Me Today: Uber’s Controversial ‘Surge Pricing’ in Sydney

Earlier today, I wrote:

Uber acted quickly Monday in an attempt to tamp down the latest controversy to hit the company, saying it is offering passengers free rides amid an unfolding siege at a Sydney café after complaints that rates had soared to exorbitant levels.

The reversal came just a short time after the ride-sharing app drew criticism on Twitter for saying it was raising prices to attract more drivers to the city’s central business district, where at least one gunman had taken hostages in a cafe and placed an Islamic flag in the window, sparking concerns a terrorist attack was under way.

The fare uptick was the result of an Uber policy called surge pricing, in which an algorithm charges customers more money during times of high demand — as was apparently the case in Sydney. Some users reported that the minimum fare had skyrocketed to $100 Australian dollars ($82) for a ride.

Click through for more. And for updates about the situation in Sydney, see our live blog.

Meanwhile, I neglected to mention that I recently wrote about Uber’s regulatory issues in Southeast Asia.

John Cassidy on the Business of Journalism: VC Funding and Online Subscriptions Show Promise

The New Yorker’s John Cassidy, who writes about economics and politics, on the current state of the business of journalism:

While many journalists have lost faith in the future of their trade, venture capitalists are taking the opposite view. Far from giving up on journalism, they are providing big chunks of funding to online news providers, such as BuzzFeed, Vice, and Vox. Some of what these publishers put out is mere click bait, but they also produce serious journalism, such as this story, from The Verge, a Vox site, which details how the N.Y.P.D. is using social media to lock up Harlem teens, and this interview that Vice scored with James Mitchell, the psychologist who helped the C.I.A. to develop its “enhanced interrogation”—i.e., torture—techniques.

And:

In addition, online journalism is thriving at many publications that are still widely regarded as “old media.” At the New York Times and other major newspapers, digital subscriptions are rising steadily. To be sure, the revenues from this source haven’t fully replaced all the lost revenues from print subscriptions and print advertising: in some parts of the industry, this may well never happen. But subscription-based journalism (encompassing digital and print) is rapidly becoming financially viable, at least for national publications. And that really is good news. Advertising-funded journalists are beholden to advertisers, page-view metrics, and social-media algorithms. Subscription-funded journalists are beholden to readers.

And:

The rise of online subscriptions isn’t confined to the Times. According to figures from the Alliance for Audited Media, the Wall Street Journal now has more than nine hundred thousand digital subscribers. (Its total circulation is close to 2.3 million.) The Financial Times, which helped to pioneer the metered-paywall model, which allows readers to read a certain number of stories a month before being charged, has gone further in this direction than any other major newspaper. According to Rachel Taube, a spokeswoman for the paper, it now has 476,000 digital subscribers, compared with 217,171 print subscribers. Although it is still known as the Pink ’Un, a reference to the pink paper it is printed on, it is now predominantly a digital publication.

And:

Of course, none of this means that journalism is out of the woods. Regional newspapers, which by definition have smaller markets than national ones, have been hit particularly hard by the decline in print advertising. Magazines, especially small ones, such as The New Republic, also face major challenges, which I’ll discuss in an upcoming post. Throughout the industry, job cuts and efforts to restrict wages and benefits will probably continue. Unless publishers can find a way to expand digital advertising and supplement the money they get from subscriptions, keeping costs in line with revenues will always be a demanding task. That means funding big, time-consuming investigative projects will continue to be a problem. But the argument that newspapers are dinosaurs, destined to be replaced by nimbler online competitors, looks a good deal less convincing than it did a few years ago. And considering where we have been, that qualifies as good news.

Read the whole thing. And subscribe to The WSJ here! :-)

Back from the Philippines — Here are Some Pics as Part of Manila Prepared for Typhoon Hagupit

2014 12 10 hagupit tracker

I’m back in Singapore after my trip to the Philippines.

Thankfully, typhoon Hagupit turned out to be less severe than many feared:

The people of southern Luzon expressed relief Sunday night as Typhoon Hagupit, which they had feared might be a repeat of last year’s deadly supertyphoon, largely spared their region.

Just two days earlier, forecasters had warned of a crippling direct hit on the populous region.

“We’re happy, because we were afraid it would be like Yolanda,” said Jennifer Amonuevo, one of 650 people in Legazpi Port Elementary School in Legazpi City. “Yolanda” is how locals refer to last year’s Supertyphoon Haiyan.

2014 12 10 baseco

Meanwhile farther to the north of the country, I spent much of Sunday, before the storm arrived, at an evacuation center in the Baseco compound of Manila’s port area.

It’s a fascinating place: full of narrow roads, tiny homes, various shops. And it’s buzzing with activity: food vendors, children running about, pickup basketball games, people coming and going to work.

Due to its location next to Manila Bay — it’s the triangle highlighted in the second map above — it’s vulnerable to storms.

Thankfully, though, the typhoon didn’t make its way north and pummel Manila, as some thought it might.

Here are some iPhone pics from the day — many of which I Tweeted and posted to Instagram — as some in the community took shelter in a large building that is also used as an elementary school.

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The evacuation center

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Smiles all around

No shortage of laughs among kids at the Baseco evac center here in Manila. #RubyPH #Hagupit

A video posted by Newley Purnell (@newley) on


And more smiles

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Inside the shelter

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Getting settled

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Playing ball

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View from the evacuation center looking out toward the water

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Preparing for the worst

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My ride out of Baseco

Had never ridden in a sidecar-like contraption like this before. #Manila

A video posted by Newley Purnell (@newley) on


Video from inside

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And, finally, rains hitting Manila on Monday. (I took this pic from a standard taxi, not a sidecar!)

The storm ultimately killed 11 and injured 480, according to local media.

Any loss of life is sad, of course. But compared to the 6,300 or so who perished during Typhoon Haiyan just over a year ago, Hagupit was obviously far less destructive.

I’m in the Philippines Helping Cover Typhoon Hagupit/Ruby — Here’s How to Follow My Dispatches

I arrived in Manila early this morning; the weather has remained calm here.

Here’s our latest story, just up:

Typhoon Hagupit made landfall late Saturday, with its eye passing over the town of Dolores in the coastal area of Eastern Samar, a central Philippine province that has yet to fully recover from the devastation wrought last year by supertyphoon Haiyan.

It was too early to know the extent of damage to Dolores.

“It’s now in God’s hands,” Interior and Local Governments Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who is in Eastern Samar’s capital of Borongan City to oversee disaster response actions, told a radio station earlier about what is ahead for the Philippines.

The typhoon, locally referred to as Ruby, has days to make its might felt, as it moves up from the midsection to provinces just south of Manila.

For images and other dispatches, follow me on Twitter; I posted some photos from the city today.

You can also subscribe to my public Facebook updates.

Stay tuned.