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Category: Misc. (Page 2 of 171)

About a quarter of the time I take Ubers here in Delhi the driver asks me, when I get out, to give him a five-star rating. (Drivers must maintain a certain rating to ensure they can continue working on the platform.)

Usually I just nod my head and say “yeah okay,” and proceed to give them whatever score I would have given them anyway. 

The other day a driver did something different. 

As I was getting out of the car he said “sir” to get my attention, then pointed at his phone, where he had selected five stars in his rating for me

Then when he saw I was looking, he pressed submit.

When it came time for me to score him later, I also gave him a similar rating. 

He was a good driver indeed, but he also understood the law of reciprocity. He knew the difference between just saying something and actually taking action. And that I may well feel inclined to help him out too (since riders are also ranked). 


Alexis Sanchez just scored a panenka in the 98th minute to secure three points for #Arsenal and move into second place — after Arsenal gave up a foolish penalty just a few minutes earlier in stoppage time. 

Chelsea have a five point lead with a game in hand. 

But still. 
But still:
Could this be our year? 

UPDATE: Naturally, Chelsea won and the gap is back to eight points. As you were. 

Living in India has given me an entirely new perspective on user experience challenges to streaming music services in emerging markets, where connectivity is often weak.

Never mind on mobile: Even at home, on Wi-Fi, services from the big players — Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music — are often difficult to use.

This actually has me considering using…mp3s (!) again.

My Top 10 Posts from 2016

2016 12 30blogging

Here are the ten most popular posts from this year, measured by number of visits.

I will refrain from speculating on the reasons. Food, tech, weird animals, soccer — the Internet, I learned a long time ago, works in mysterious ways.

  1. Recommended: Decker Barbeque, Texas-Style BBQ in Singapore — A report from what is, if you ask me, the best purveyor of smoked meat products in the city-state.
  2. My iPhone Home Screen, Early 2016 — There have been some tweaks of late. Stay tuned for an update.
  3. Rise of the ‘Coyowolf’ — Part Wolf, Part Dog, Part Coyote — This one has drawn a lot of search engine traffic. I’m not sure why. People seem to really love coyowolves.
  4. Why You Shouldn’t be Surprised When England Lose — This was written, I must point out, just five hours before the team…lost to Iceland in the Euros.
  5. The 10 Must-Have Apps I Install on Every New Mac — You can’t go wrong with a top ten post for Mac geeks!
  6. By Me Yesterday: India’s Paytm Sees Surge in Usage After Demonetization — This was merely an excerpt from a story of mine. I suspect many folks have been looking up mobile payment services here in India of late.
  7. Single, Individually Wrapped Bananas for Sale in Singapore — Truly an amazing food product.
  8. IPhone 6 Touchscreen Problems? You’re Not Alone — This issue persisted for me. And I was forced to ditch my device. More soon on that. I am not pleased.
  9. By Me Last Week: Facebook Asia-Pac VP Dan Neary Talks Growth in the Region — A link to my story.
  10. Book Notes — ‘Deep Work,’ by Cal Newport — My thoughts on the popular treatise on the importance of uninterrupted, complex work.

Onward to 2017!

Post-Trump Election Tab Dump: What I’m Reading

  • ‘Deplorables’ Rise Up to Reshape America,” by The WSJ‘s Gerald F. Seib. (yesterday):

    In short, Mr. Trump and his followers have, in one dramatic stroke, transformed the GOP from a traditionally conservative party into an avowedly populist one.

  • The Voters Decide,” by Ben Thompson (March 2016). Politics “is just the latest industry to be transformed by the Internet,” he writes.
  • Democracy’s Destabilizer: TMI,” by Virginia Postrel. (Dec. 2015). References a 2014 book I have just begun reading, “The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium,” by Martin Gurri. Postrel writes:

    Information used to be scarce. Now it’s overwhelming. In his book “The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium,” Gurri considers the political implications of this change. He argues that the shift from information scarcity to abundance has destroyed the public’s established trust in institutional authorities, including media, science, religion, and government.

  • Has Election 2016 been a turning point for the influence of the news media?” (yesterday), by Pablo Bocskowski:

    “The stark contrast between editorial dynamics and electoral preferences might lead to two trends directly affecting the news media in the short-term future.”

  • 5 Reasons Why Trump will Win” (July 2015), by Michael Moore.
  • The Cycles of American History“, a 1986 book by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. on the “recurring struggle between pragmatism and idealism in the American soul.”
  • Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy” (2012), by by Chris Hayes. “A powerful and original argument that traces the roots of our present crisis of authority to an unlikely source: the meritocracy.
  • 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!”


    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. 

    Great Wall of China and South China Sea: Historical Parallels

    2016 07 01 South China Sea

    Highly recommended: The WSJ‘s Andrew Browne on parallels between China’s Great Wall, which was erected at a time of debate about the country’s role in the world, and their current claims in the South China Sea:

    Echoes of this history reverberate today in the South China Sea, where China is building massive fortifications — artificial islands dredged from the seabed — to help defend a “nine-dash line” claim that encircles almost the entire waterway and reaches almost 1,000 miles from China’s coastline.

    U.S. Adm. Harry Harris rails against the man-made islands as a “Great Wall of Sand.” Defense Secretary Ash Carter warns that China risks building a “Great Wall of self-isolation” through actions that have alarmed its neighbors.

    In a matter of days, a United Nations-backed court in The Hague is expected to rule on a challenge to China’s claim brought by the Philippines. The decision will address an issue that has preoccupied Chinese dynasties since antiquity: Where does China end?

    This has infuriated Chinese leaders; the presumptuousness of foreign jurists sitting in judgment upon what China regards as a matter of Chinese sovereignty is intolerable. Beijing has boycotted the proceedings.

    Yet there’s an even more fundamental issue at play, one that dominated the debate in the old Ming court and that has rumbled on ever since: How should China conduct its relations with the world?

    Image: Wikipedia.

    Norm Ornstein Explains the Rise of Donald Trump

    Norm Ornstein, of the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, explains the rise of Donald Trump:

    When you look at populism over the longer course of both American history and other countries that have suffered economic traumas as a result of financial collapse, you’re gonna get the emergence of some leaders who exploit nativism, protectionism, and isolationism. They’re components — sometimes greater, sometimes lesser — that are baked into the process. So you’ve got a bit of that.

    But if you forced me to pick one factor explaining what’s happened, I would say this is a self-inflicted wound by Republican leaders.

    Over many years, they’ve adopted strategies that have trivialized and delegitimized government. They were willing to play to a nativist element. And they tried to use, instead of stand up to, the apocalyptic visions and extremism of some cable television, talk radio, and other media outlets on the right.

    And add to that, they’ve delegitimized President Obama, but they’ve failed to succeed with any of the promises they’ve made to their rank and file voters, or Tea Party adherents. So when I looked at that, my view was, “what makes you think, after all of these failures, that you’re going to have a group of compliant people who are just going to fall in line behind an establishment figure?”

    Related post from last month: Michael Barone: ‘Trump Can’t Break the Republican Party.’.

    To which Mr. Ornstein might reply: It’s already broken, and that’s why Trump’s the Republican nominee.

    In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Singapore’s ‘Smart Nation;’ Trump on India; Conroy on SC Eats; Dog Hug Warnings

    The latest edition of my email newsletter has gone out to subscribers. 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 where I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

    What I wrote in The Wall Street Journal:

    Singapore Is Taking the ‘Smart City’ to a Whole New Level – I’m really proud of this story, which was months in the making.

    My colleague Jake Watts and I wrote about the Singapore government’s unprecedented effort to collect data and assist city planners in making the country run more smoothly. There are, as we note, some privacy concerns.

    We also worked with colleagues on this interactive feature, which includes three animated videos showing how some of the technologies work. You might recognize the narrator’s voice.

    The story has proven quite popular, spending some time among the most-read stories on over the last few days and attracting more than 50 comments on our site. As of this writing it has been liked and shared more than 9,000 times on Facebook, and has garnered more than 100 comments there.

    What Donald Trump Said About Indian Call Center Workers – At a rally in Delaware, the Republican front-runner described his experience calling his credit card company in what he said was a quest to investigate outsourcing.

    5 items that are worth your time this week:

    1) Dogs don’t like being hugged. I really hope this research is off-base, but it makes sense.

    2) Speaking of dogs: At a recent Atlanta Braves game, a dog in a hot dog costume ate a hot dog. I love it. (Via Patrick B.)

    3) “Why do thieves steal soap?”” An interesting look at the economics of theft, including fencing, market demand and retail value.

    4) Improbable quote of the week:

    “Now I hear millennials and people of all ages saying Crystal City is so cool,”

    Wait, is Crystal City, Virginia becoming…hip?

    5) Hunger-inducing quote of the week: Pat Conroy on South Carolina food – among the state’s many wonders:

    The subject of food is a serious one the length and breadth of this state. Our barbeque sauce is mustard-based and our peanuts are boiled and served in wet paper bags. An oyster roast in sight of a lowcountry river is an act of priest-like enjoyment and cause for a pagan-like joy. At a Charleston hospital during my Citadel years, I met a leper who told me he contracted leprosy when he killed and ate an armadillo. I’ve no idea if he was telling the truth or not, but I didn’t wish to shake his hand and armadillo meat shall never pass my lips – but that’s the kind of thing that turns up when you’re moseying around South Carolina and you don’t mind talking to strangers.

    (Thanks, Miles B.!)

    Reader feedback: Regarding the very strange upcoming flick “Swiss Army Man,” which I mentioned last week, Colin C. writes in to say: “I liked Swiss Army Man better when it was called Cast Away and starred Tom Hanks. That movie was delightful.”


    Have a great week!


    P.S. If someone forwarded you this email, you can subscribe here.

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