Category Archives: Newley’s Notes

Newley’s Notes 83: Varanasi Visit, Morning Routines, Micro-dosing, Non-Micro Pigs

2017 02 20 moon

Edition 83 of my email newsletter went out to subscribers last week. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox before I post them, enter your email address here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.


Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.

It’s been another busy week. I was down in Bangalore, a tech hub in Southern India, last week. I had some excellent meetings and some fascinating chats.

Then last weekend we took a trip to Varanasi, India’s holiest city. It is known for its ghats, or embankments along the Ganges, where people perform religious ceremodies and cremate the dead.

You may have seen some of my images or videos on Instagram or Twitter. I hope to post some here on Newley.com as well soon. It is a remarkable place.

On to this week’s dispatch:

WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ

Apple Is Set to Make in India, State Official Says. The story begins:

In a potential boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative, tech giant Apple Inc. is nearing a deal with Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron Corp. to start making products in the southern state of Karnataka, a senior state official said.

“The contractual agreement between the two companies is on the verge of being signed,” the Karnataka government official who has direct knowledge of the matter said.

The first phase of assembling iPhones will likely start as early as the end of March, and further expansion is expected over the next two to six months, the official said.

As I’ve mentioned before, Apple is keen to boost sales in India. Making devices locally would allow the company to open its own stores here, helping branding.

5 ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) “Inside Chefs’ Fridges, Europe.” That’s the name of a new book that shows how chefs organize their fridges, and what kind of (often exotic, naturally) goods they keep inside.

2) A website analyzing hundreds of peoples’ morning routines. I love this. There are 218 routines and counting described at MyMorningRoutine.com, with details like wakeup times, exercise regimens and more.

3) “I had no intention of owning a pig.” So begins this amusing tale from a guy took in what he thought was a miniature pig. Now it weighs 650 pounds.

4) How tiny doses of LSD improved a novelist’s life. In The New Yorker, Nathan Heller describes how Aelet Waldman was able to find relief from her severe mood swings via micro-doses of the drug. As much as anything, the story is a fantastic display of the adept use of details in storytelling.

5) HaterDater is an (apparently real) app that allows people to find one another not based not on their affinities, but on their dislikes. Among those shown in the demo: “Trump,” “paying extra for guacamole,” and “slow walkers.”

What’d I miss? Send me links, rants, raves, juicy news scoops and anything else! My email: n@newley.com

Thanks for reading.

Love,
Newley

Newley’s Notes 82: H1-Bs, Tim Cook on India, Filter Bubbles, Caffeine Bracelets

2017 02 05nn

Edition 82 of my email newsletter went out to subscribers Thursday. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox before I post them, enter your email address here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.


Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.

It’s been a busy week.

First off, earlier today a colleague and I recorded a Facebook Live video in which we discussed the ramifications of India’s new budget, presented yesterday.

Click here to check it out.

So far it’s been viewed more than 35,000 times.

Before we get going, an administrative note: There will be no Newley’s Notes next week. I’ll be back the week of Feb. 13, though. Try not to miss me.

Here we go:

WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ

What Tim Cook Said About Apple’s Big Plans for India. The story begins:

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook says India’s move to replace its largest-denomination bank notes with newly designed ones has presented a challenge in India, but the tech giant is still bullish on sales growth in the South Asian nation.

What the White House Said About Its Plans for H–1B Visas. The story begins:

Tighter restrictions on skilled worker visas to the U.S. could come via both executive action by President Donald Trump and via Congressional moves, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday.

Vodafone in Talks to Merge Indian Unit With Idea Cellular. The story begins:

Vodafone Group PLC’s India unit is in talks to merge with rival Idea Cellular Ltd., a move that would combine two of India’s three wireless biggest carriers and catapult the proposed company into the top ranks of the global telecommunications industry.

WHAT I WROTE AT NEWLEY.COM

‘Arrival’: Yes, It’s That Good. Some brief thoughts on this year’s hit alien invasion thriller.

Book Notes: ‘The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century,’ by George Friedman. An interesting read.

5 ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) “Ten Meter Tower.” That’s the name of a short New York Times film designed to “capture people facing a difficult situation, to make a portrait of humans in doubt.” Would you jump?

2) Find of the decade: an antique Ferrari in an L.A. apartment. “If Indiana Jones was a car guy, this would be the plot line for his next film.” What a car. And what a strange story.

3) Reminder: filter bubbles exist. With the momentous stories emerging from Washington, a reminder to visit our excellent WSJ interactive “Blue Feed, Red Feed.” It’ll give you a taste of how events are being viewed through filters on the left and the right.

4) Tool of the week: Facebook, without the addictive newsfeed. Speaking of the world’s biggest social network, with this Chrome extension, you can post items to the platform and check updates, but you won’t be sucked into the FB vortex.

5) Headline of the week: “I tried the caffeine bracelet that promises to be the next best thing to a coffee IV drip.”

NEWLEY’S NOTES SHOUTOUTS

More love for the shoelaces video, which I featured in NN80. Julie M. writes in to say:

I have to laugh b/c I had forgotten that I’d gotten the shoe-tying video from your Notes and sure enough, at my son’s bday party last night, I found myself tying many shoes and I did that trick and it worked!!

Took my brain a second each time, but it was awesome. Now if I could just teach them to do it themselves…

What’d I miss? Send me links, rants, raves, juicy news scoops and anything else! My email: n@newley.com

Thanks for reading.

Love,
Newley

Newley’s Notes 81: Trump and H-1Bs, Apple in India, Silicon Valley Preppers, Full-Auto Crossbows

2017 01 26NN

Edition 81 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, enter your email address here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief, and few people unsubscribe.


Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes.

WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ

Indian Outsourcing Firms Prep for Curbs on H–1B Visa Workers Under Trump. The story begins:

President-elect Donald Trump doesn’t take office in Washington until Friday, but he is already forcing firms in India’s mammoth $108 billion technology-outsourcing industry to rethink their hiring practices in the U.S., their largest market.

While Mr. Trump has chastised U.S. firms for offshoring American jobs, Indian outsourcing firms could be set to see renewed heat for doing the opposite—placing foreign workers in the U.S., mainly through a skilled-worker visa, known as the H–1B. Faced with the prospect of possible new curbs on those visas from a president who has pledged to ensure that Americans get their first pick of available jobs, outsourcers are ramping up hiring both on American college campuses and at home in India.

H–1B Visas: How Donald Trump Could Change America’s Skilled Worker Visa Rules. The story begins:

During his campaign, President Donald Trump assailed a skilled-worker visa program used to send foreigners to the U.S., and in his inaugural speech Friday he said the country would “follow two simple rules; buy American and hire American.”

Indian outsourcing firms are already preparing for potential changes to visa rules, which could present a challenge because they send thousands of workers to the U.S. every year via the H–1B program.

So how much, and how quickly, could Mr. Trump change the regulations?

A significant shakeup would likely need to be approved by Congress, though there are some steps Mr. Trump could take himself immediately, analysts say.

Apple Said to Be Near Deal to Manufacture Products in India. The story begins:

Apple Inc. is nearing a deal to manufacture its products in India, according to a senior government official, as the company seeks to boost its sales in a market that is home to more than 1.2 billion people.

A team of executives led by Priya Balasubramaniam, an Apple vice president, met with senior Indian government officials in New Delhi on Wednesday to discuss the firm’s proposals, the official said.

“It’s almost a done deal,” said the official, who has direct knowledge of the matter.

WHAT I WROTE AT NEWLEY.COM

Book Notes: The Innovator’s Dilemma, by Clayton Christensen. My notes from the 1997 business classic that gave rise to the term “disruptive innovation."

Is This Arsenal’s Year? Probably not. But still. One can hope, no?

The difference between saying something and actually doing it. Insprired by an interaction with an Uber driver here in New Delhi.

5 ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) A history professor analyzes the so-called “alt-right.” The Univeristy of Massachusetts Amherst’s Daniel Gordon says he discerns a “cluster of conservative principles that need to be understood if we wish to comprehend the terms of political debate that are going to endure in America for many years to come.”

Ignore the headline and read the whole thing. I haven’t had time to think too deeply about it, but it raises some interesting questions.

2) Trump will put American institutions to the test, but they will survive, Francis Fukuyama argues. He writes:

Americans believe deeply in the legitimacy of their constitutional system, in large measure because its checks and balances were designed to provide safeguards against tyranny and the excessive concentration of executive power. But that system in many ways has never been challenged by a leader who sets out to undermine its existing norms and rules. So we are embarked in a great natural experiment that will show whether the United States is a nation of laws or a nation of men.

3) Why do movie villains often have British accents? I’m not sure this piece answers the question, but it’s a thought-provoking look at perceptions and speech.

4) Rich people in Silicon Valley are girding for the apocalypse. Fun New Yorker story by Evan Osnos that will not surprise fans of the show “Doomsday Preppers.”

5) And finally, just because: This dude created crossbow that fires in full automatic mode. #Ingenuity.

NEWLEY’S NOTES SHOUTOUTS

– Thanks to longtime pal Wendy H., who last week tweeted:

“Anytime I learn a new use for square knots AND for viewing YouTube, I’m happy. Sign up for @Newley ’s Notes: http://www.tinyletter.com/newley

What’d I miss? Send me links, rants, raves, and anything else! My email: n@newley.com

Thanks for reading.

Love,
Newley

Amazon India Doormat Flap; Assessing the G.A.N.; You’re Tying Your Shoelaces Wrong — This Week’s Newley’s Notes

2017 01 19mountains

Edition 80 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, enter your email address 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 in which I share links to my stories and various items I think are worth highlighting.

WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ

Amazon Yanks Indian-Flag Doormats as New Delhi Threatens Punishment. The story begins:

Amazon.com Inc. pulled doormats emblazoned with the Indian flag from its Canadian website after the South Asian nation’s foreign minister threatened to oust the Seattle company’s employees.

“This is unacceptable,” Sushma Swaraj, India’s foreign minister, wrote on Twitter Wednesday in response to a posting from a user showing an image of the doormats for sale.

Ms. Swaraj, who has 7 million followers on the platform, called on Amazon to remove the “insulting” products and threatened to rescind visas for Amazon’s foreign staff in India if action wasn’t taken.

India a key market for Amazon’s future growth. The company does not want to anger consumers – or public officials – here.

WHAT I WROTE AT NEWLEY.COM

Book Notes: The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.

My notes from an excellent book about Jeff Bezos and the rise of his powerful, controversial company.

On Austin Tice, Syria, and Risks Freelancers Take.

Musings on a long story in Texas Monthly about Tice’s mysterious disappearance while reporting in Syria, and how dangerous being a freelancer in a conflict zone can be.

FIVE ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) Cool: weed helps chronic pain. Not cool: it’s totally bad for your lungs. Those are among the conclusions of a lengthy U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report that examined over 10,000 studies, according to Quartz. The full study is here.

2) What is, truly, the G.A.N.? That’s Great American Novel, of course. Literary Hub has a survey of the contenders, from “The Great Gatsby” and “Moby Dick” to works by Toni Morrison and Jonathan Franzen.

3) Sick of those “Best 30 Under 30 Lists”? At NewYorker.com, Bess Kalb gives us “A Selection of the 30 Most Disappointing Under 30.”

Sample: “Joanna Feldman, twenty-two: Misquoted E. E. Cummings in her rib-cage tattoo.”

4) This simple shoelace-tying trick will change your life. Basically, if your shoes ever come undone, you’re doing your granny knots wrong. Take it away, Dr. Shoelace. And don’t miss the video. You will never again resort to double knots.

5) I love this concept: Astronaut.io is a website that provides a stream of YouTube videos that “have almost zero previous views.”

“Today, you are an Astronaut,” the site says. “You are floating in inner space 100 miles above the surface of Earth. You peer through your window and this is what you see. You are people watching. These are fleeting moments.

Thanks for reading.

Love,
Newley

Google CEO in India; My SE Asia Travel Tips; Print Books Will Never Die — This Week’s Newley’s Notes

2017 01 11galaxy

Edition 78 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 on Newley.com, enter your email address 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 in which I share links to my stories and various items I think are worth highlighting.

WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ

Google Turns Focus to India’s Small Businesses Amid Search for Users – Chief Executive Sundar Pichai was in town and announced some new initiatives for small companies:

NEW DELHI— Alphabet Inc.’s Google is ramping up its efforts to get India’s small businesses online, the latest step in its quest to win new users in the populous nation.

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai said on Wednesday that the Mountain View, Calif., company will launch this year a tool that allows owners of small businesses that are now offline to create mobile-friendly websites free of charge.

Google’s Sundar Pichai’s Advice to Indian Students: Loosen Up. The Chennai native had this to say:

Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has some straightforward life advice for students at his alma mater: loosen up and have some fun.

The India-born Mr. Pichai, speaking Thursday at the elite Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur outside Kolkata, told university students who asked how they could emulate his success to pursue their passions, take risks, and be creative.

That is unconventional advice in a country where parents often pressure their children from a young age to study hard so they can secure steady employment.

H–1B Visas: U.S. Lawmaker Re-Introduces Bill to Tighten Rules. The story begins:

A prominent Republican lawmaker is taking another shot at tightening U.S. rules for high-skilled worker visas ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration as president later this month.

Rep. Darrell Issa, one of the highest-profile Republicans in Congress and a supporter of Mr. Trump, said Wednesday in a statement on his website that he is reintroducing a bill designed to “stop the outsourcing of American jobs” and ensure laws are not “abused to allow companies to outsource and hire cheap foreign labor from abroad.”

WHAT I WROTE AT NEWLEY.COM

My Top 10 Southeast Asia Travel Tips. I’d been working on this post for some time, and am happy to finally publish it.

tl;dr:

  1. Don’t rush
  2. For longer trips, use Bangkok as a Base
  3. Next, Look Beyond Thailand to Cambodia, Laos, and Especially Vietnam
  4. More Destinations: Myanmar and Borneo
  5. Eat Liberally
  6. Disconnect
  7. If You Must, SIM Cards are Wi-Fi Widely Available
  8. Don’t Overpack, But Bring the Right Stuff
  9. Ask Friends of Friends for Advice
  10. Do Your Own Research

FIVE ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) Everyday Authoritarianism is Boring and Tolerable. That’s the title of an interesting blog post from Cornell political science professor Tom Pepinsky, who studies Southeast Asia.

“The mental image that most American harbor of what actual authoritarianism looks like is fantastical and cartoonish…The reality is that everyday life under the kinds of authoritarianism that exist today is very familiar to most Americans. You go to work, you eat your lunch, you go home to your family.”

Worth a read.

2) Print books are still going strong. Sales rose in 2016, the third consecutive year of growth, while e-book sales are trending downward.

Thesis: print is a pretty damned good technology; e-books work for some formats, but not all.

(I primarily use my Kindle for downloading samples, and if I want to buy a title, I’ll order the print version. I prefer reading paper books, marking them up with notes, and keeping them on our bookshelves for consulting later. Call me old fashioned)

3) Even a little exercise is better than none. A study shows similar health benefits for those who work out just a few days a week compared to those who do so regularly.

4) “I’ve left Twitter. It is unusable for anyone but trolls, robots and dictators.” Seattle writter Lindy West in a Guardian essay says she once found the service useful, but has quit due to vile tweets from trolls. A notable passage:

On 29 December, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted: “What’s the most important thing you want to see Twitter improve or create in 2017?” One user responded: “Comprehensive plan for getting rid of the Nazis.”

“We’ve been working on our policies and controls,” Dorsey replied. “What’s the next most critical thing?” Oh, what’s our second-highest priority after Nazis? I’d say No 2 is also Nazis. And No 3. In fact, you can just go ahead and slide “Nazis” into the top 100 spots. Get back to me when your website isn’t a roiling rat-king of Nazis. Nazis are bad, you see?

5) Photos of the week: These fascinating images of family’s home in Norway, within the Arctic circle, build under a geodesic dome.

Thanks for reading.

Love,
Newley

In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Addicted to ‘The OA,’ Why 401(k)s Suck; Snowden Revisited

2017 01 04sky

Edition 78 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 on Newley.com, enter your email address 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 in which I share links to my stories and various items I think are worth highlighting.

So, okay, first off: With some downtime last week, I started watching “The OA,” a new sci-fi series from Netflix that began last month.

Do you know this show?

It’s totally creepy and weird, there are cliff-hangers and plot twists even from the first episode, and it’s totally compelling. I’m only a few episodes in and really loving it.

I would provide more links to further reading about the show but I don’t want to subject myself to any potential spoilers. Highly recommended!

On to this week’s edition.

WHAT I WROTE AT NEWLEY.COM

My Top 10 Posts from 2016 – A re-cap of my most-clicked posts, from Singaporean barbecue to my iPhone home screen to “coyowolves.”

The Best Books I Read in 2016 – a treatise on the importance of “deep work,” and a book on Southeast Asia’s tycoons.

Are Uncontacted Tribes Increasingly Emerging from the Wilderness? – A post prompted by watching another program on Netflix, a documentary about uncontacted people in the Amazon.

FIVE ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) Dave Barry reviews 2016. His re-cap of what was a highly memorable year is laugh out loud funny.

2) Is Edward Snowden a whistle-blower or a tool of Russian intelligence? Edward Jay Epstein, author of the new Knopf book “How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft,” says Snowden has consistently lied following his disclosure of NSA secrets.

3) 401(k)s don’t work. So say…the people who originally championed them. The nut from a WSJ story today:

Many early backers of the 401(k) now say they have regrets about how their creation turned out despite its emergence as the dominant way most Americans save. Some say it wasn’t designed to be a primary retirement tool and acknowledge they used forecasts that were too optimistic to sell the plan in its early days.

Others say the proliferation of 401(k) plans has exposed workers to big drops in the stock market and high fees from Wall Street money managers while making it easier for companies to shed guaranteed retiree payouts.

4) Thread of the week: “Physicians of Reddit: What’s the worst injury you’ve seen at a routine check-up?” Not for the squeamish.

5) “Your Life in Weeks.” That’s the title of this timeless post on the always-excellent blog “Wait But Why” about the preciousness of time.

Thanks for reading.

Love,
Newley

Newley’s Notes 77: Uber in India; Apple Scoop; OMGWTF: New ‘Bladerunner’?

Sunset 433626 1280

Edition 77 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 on Newley.com, enter your email address 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 in which I share links to my stories and various items I think are worth highlighting.

I hope you had an enjoyable holiday period. Best wishes for a happy new year.

My apologies: This week’s Newley’s Notes is a couple of days late due to holiday travel.

A and I just returned to Delhi after an excellent stay at Neemrana Fort Palace, about three hours by car south of here.

It’s a 15th century fort that’s been turned into a hotel. It’s quiet, the countryside is beautiful, and there’s even a fascinating stepwell nearby. I highly recommended it for a quick getaway from Delhi.

Okay. On to this week’s edition.

WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ

Uber’s Drive Into India Relies on Raw Recruits – This is a story I’d been working on for some time, and I was happy with how it turned out. It begins:

NEW DELHI—How do you train a million new Uber drivers in a country where most people have never driven a car, tapped on a smartphone or even used an online map?

Uber Technologies Inc. faces that daunting task as it tries to avoid its fate in China, where it decided this year to sell its business to homegrown champion Didi Chuxing Technology Co.

The $68 billion San Francisco startup has plenty of cash and cutting-edge technology to bring to its battle in India. Also, the country hasn’t thrown up the kind of regulatory hurdles that have hindered Uber’s growth in other regions. So the company’s ability to find and teach new drivers could decide whether Uber can dominate this fast-growing market.

Click through for the rest of the piece, along with a video narrated by yours truly.

I also wrote a sidebar titled “5 Ways Uber Is Tweaking Its Strategy in India.”. These localizations include accepting cash payments, going app-less, using motorbikes and more.

Apple Is Discussing Manufacturing in India, Government Officials Say – A scoop with a colleague that was followed by Reuters and picked up by many outlets.

It begins:

NEW DELHI— Apple Inc. is discussing with the Indian government the possibility of manufacturing its products in the country, according to two senior government officials, as the company seeks to expand its sales and presence in the South Asian nation.

In a letter to the government last month, the Cupertino, Calif., firm outlined its plans and sought financial incentives to move ahead, the officials told The Wall Street Journal. Senior Trade Ministry authorities in recent weeks met to discuss the matter.

An Apple spokeswoman didn’t respond to requests for comment.

I’ve written, as you’ll recall, about Apple in India before. It’s a huge market for the firm’s potential future growth.

FIVE ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) Wait, there’s a new “Bladerunner” coming? How did I miss this news?

Longtime readers will know the 1982 Ridley Scott sci-fi classic is one of my favorite films.

Well, “Bladerunner 2049” will be here in October. The trailer’s on YouTube here. Wikipedia sums up the plot this way:

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

The trailer: meh. The idea of “Bladerunner” returning? A slightly more optimistic meh. I feel like I should be excited about this.

2) An analysis by Quartz of 36 best books of the year lists shows the title most mentioned has been Colson Whitehead’s novel “The Underground Railroad.”

I haven’t read it. Have you?

3) Jerry Lewis is a tough guy to interview.

In this seven-minute video, the famed, 90-year-old comedian had a remarkably cranky exchange with The Hollywood Reporter.

His mocking laugh is my favorite part.

4) If the less-than-robust Mosul Dam breaks, a million and a half people could perish.

That’s the thrust of this illuminating piece by Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker.

5) Was 2016 an especially bad year for celebrity deaths?

This week brought us news of George Michael’s death. Then Carrie Fisher. Then Carrie Fischer’s mom.

Snopes.com answers the question.

6) SPECIAL BONUS LINK: DESPITE WHAT YOU THINK, THE WORLD IS GETTING BETTER. There was a lot of bad news in 2016, but these six charts serve as a reminder that the world is, in the aggregate, improving.

Over the last century, extreme poverty and child mortality are down drastically, while democracy, education, literacy, and vaccinations have flourished. More info here.

Thanks for reading. Happy 2017!

Love,
Newley

This Week’s Newley’s Notes: ‘Demonitization’ Back Story; Your Brain on Running; Striking Images from the Philippines

Newleys notes

Edition 75 of my email newsletter went out to subscribers on Monday. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox before I post them here, enter your email address 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 weekly newsletter in which I share links to my stories and various items that catch my eye.

WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ

NEW DELHI—Early last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi summoned his cabinet to a room in India’s capital, told them to leave their cellphones outside and delivered a shocker: He was about to go on national television to declare that almost 90% of the country’s paper money would no longer be legal tender.

The move, prepared in secret by Mr. Modi and his advisers, kicked off a radical experiment in government control and instantly put India at the forefront of a nascent global campaign against cash. The European Central Bank has said it would stop printing the €500 note in 2018. Canada and Singapore have phased out their large-denomination bills. The Philippines, Denmark and others are tweaking regulations to nudge citizens to switch to electronic payments.

But no one has gone as far as Mr. Modi. Aiming to cut back tax dodging, terrorism and government corruption, he made India’s largest bank note and one of its most commonly used ones—the functional equivalents of America’s $100 and $20 bills—unusable overnight.

I also pitched in with a sidebar about some early winners in all of this: mobile payment companies.

“If we continue at this pace, within a month or two we will have made more progress than since our inception” in 2009, the founder of one such firm, MobiKwik, told me.

For more on demonetization, as the government’s move has been labeled, a reminder that a colleague and I did a Facebook Live video not long ago, which you can find online here.

  • Facebook at 30,000 Feet? Not Above India – A story with a colleague on why, despite boasting one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets, India is still blocking passengers from using Wi-Fi in flight. It begins:

As more airlines roll out in-flight internet and regulators loosen rules governing wireless devices on planes, one country is a holdout in continuing to prohibit passengers from using Wi-Fi on board: India.

Home to the fastest-growing major air-travel market and a galloping economy, India hasn’t consented to the use of onboard Wi-Fi in its airspace due to security concerns.

Carriers including Emirates Airline, Jet Airways (India) Ltd. and Indian associates of Singapore Airlines and Malaysia’s AirAsia Bhd. say they are eager to offer Wi-Fi if only the government would allow it. Some have been lobbying New Delhi to change the law, according to aviation and tech industry executives.

FIVE ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) A remarkable, highly graphic collection of photos from Duterte’s war on drugs in the Philippines. Simply evastating: Photographer Daniel Berehulak captured for the NYT 57 killings in 35 days. A reminder of the power of visual journalism.

2) Tweetstorm: America’s institutions are screwed, Russia is hitting us hard with disinformation and leaks, but we’ll prevail. That’s the TLDR version of a super-long series of tweets from business analyst Eric Garland that everyone’s talking about on Twitter today.

3) Best Book of 2016, according to a bunch of academics, executives and others Bloomberg polled: “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis,” by J. D. Vance. I haven’t read it yet, but intend to.

4) Why running seems to be good for your brain. In short, aerobic exercise appears to boost the production of cells in the hippocampus, writes Melissa Dahl at NYMag.com:

Not so many years ago, the brightest minds in neuroscience thought that our brains got a set amount of neurons, and that by adulthood, no new neurons would be birthed. But this turned out not to be true. Studies in animal models have shown that new neurons are produced in the brain throughout the lifespan, and, so far, only one activity is known to trigger the birth of those new neurons: vigorous aerobic exercise, said Karen Postal, president of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology. “That’s it,” she said. “That’s the only trigger that we know about.”

5) Coolest market find ever: a piece of amber containing feathers from a dinosaur’s tail. NPR has the details:

In 2015, Lida Xing was visiting a market in northern Myanmar when a salesman brought out a piece of amber about the size of a pink rubber eraser. Inside, he could see a couple of ancient ants and a fuzzy brown tuft that the salesman said was a plant.

As soon as Xing saw it, he knew it wasn’t a plant. It was the delicate, feathered tail of a tiny dinosaur.

“I have studied paleontology for more than 10 years and have been interested in dinosaurs for more than 30 years. But I never expected we could find a dinosaur in amber. This may be the coolest find in my life,” says Xing,

Thanks for reading.

Love,
Newley

In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Our India ‘Demonetization’ Video; Best Books and Albums of 2016; Chapecoense’s Final Flight

Newleys notes

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Hi friends, thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter where I share my stories and links to items that catch my eye.

WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ

Morgan Stanley Fund Cuts Valuation of Its Holding in India’s Flipkart. The story begins:

A Morgan Stanley investment fund has reduced the valuation of its holding in Flipkart Internet Pvt. by 38%, as India’s leading e-commerce firm faces increased competition from U.S. rival Amazon.com Inc. and others.

In a U.S. regulatory filing this week, the Morgan Stanley Select Dimensions Investment Series fund said for the quarter ended Sept. 30, it held 1,969 Flipkart shares, which it valued at $102,644, or $52.13 a share.

Meanwhile, on a separate topic, a colleague and I recorded a Facebook Live video on India’s “demonetization,” the government’s move to eliminate its biggest-denomination bills. Watch it on the WSJ Facebook page here; the video has been viewed more than 65,000 times.

WHAT I WROTE AT NEWLEY.COM

Top Lesser-Known (but Good) Sci-Fi Movies of 2016

On the Importance of Reading Books to Understand the World

Why We Gain Weight Over the Holidays

FIVE ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) Can a lowly reporter become an Instagram star? Bloomberg’s Max Chafkin embarked on a humorous quest to become an “influencer,” commanding cash for his posts:

The plan, which I worked out with my editor and a slightly confused Bloomberg Businessweek lawyer, was this: With Saynt’s company advising me, I would go undercover for a month, attempting to turn my schlubby @mchafkin profile into that of a full-fledged influencer. I would do everything possible within legal bounds to amass as many followers as I could. My niche would be men’s fashion, a fast-growing category in which I clearly had no experience. The ultimate goal: to persuade someone, somewhere, to pay me cash money for my influence.

2) People are really into boring video games in which they drive tractors and trucks. A look at why people play games with titles like “Farming Simulator 17” and “American Truck Simulator.”

3) Meta-list: Best Books of 2016. Jason Kottke has a round-up of the year’s top releases.

4) The 100 best albums of 2016. A list compiled by music writer Ted Gioia.

5) The story behind Chapecoense’s tragic final flight. This heartbreaking WSJ story explains how the Brazilian championship contenders came to be flying on the charter plane headed to Colombia, and why it went down.

Thanks for reading.

Love,
Newley

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