Category Archives: Newley’s Notes

Newley’s Notes 88: Flipkart’s Boost, the “Platform Press,” Why Facebook is Bad for You

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Edition 88 of my email newsletter, Newley’s Notes, went out to my 128 subscribers yesterday.

You can read it here.

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

By the way, a programming note: I’m trying out a new-ish email newsletter platform called Revue. They offer some cool features, and make assembling the dispatches a bit easier than my old provider, TinyLetter. Stay tuned for more on that front.

Newley’s Notes 87: China vs. U.S. in India; Apple’s iPhone Plans; RIP Ashley :(

2017 04 09 NN

Edition 87 of my email newsletter, Newley’s Notes, went out to subscribers Thursday.

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.

Sorry to begin with some sad news, but even though it’s been a few weeks, it’s still top of mind…

WHAT I WROTE AT NEWLEY.COM

Ashley, 2008–2017 – Our beloved dog Ashley, whom we adopted in Bangkok in 2009, died last month. A and I are still recovering. We really miss her.

In the post linked to above, I shared the story of her sudden illness and posted some of my favorite photos from our nearly eight years with her. I still can’t believe she’s gone.

But: Onward and upward.

WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ:

Twitter Launches Leaner Service Aimed at India – The story begins:

Twitter Inc. launched a new version of its service in India tailored for users with slow and unreliable internet connections, hoping to encourage expansion in the South Asian market as growth stalls at home.

TLDR: Twitter wants to gain new users in emerging markets like India, where web connections are often patchy.

Amazon and Facebook Hit Unexpected Obstacle in India: China – A story about how Chinese tech firms like Alibaba and Tencent are backing Indian startups, which are themselves challenging U.S. tech titans.

Apple to Start Making iPhones in India Over Next Two Months – A scoop with my colleague Rajesh Roy that begins:

Apple Inc. will soon start assembling iPhones in India for the first time, say government officials familiar with its plans, boosting the company’s chances of gaining a foothold in the fast-growing market.

Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron Corp. will likely start making iPhone 6 and 6S models here in the next four-to-six weeks at its plant in Bangalore, said an official of the southern state of Karnataka where the tech hub is located. It will add Apple’s cheapest iPhone model, the SE, to its assembly line in about three months, the official said.

Apple is struggling to boost sales in India, and making its smartphones here would help bring down the cost of the devices here.

Uber Rival Grab Hits the Road in Myanmar – Grab, a ride-sharing startup focused on Southeast Asia, has launched in Myanmar.

5 ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) Care about the communal good? Stop trudging up escalators. Research suggests that the system, often used in public transportation, in which riders stand on one side while others walk on the other actually creates congestion and slows things down for everyone. We’d all be better off just standing two-abreast and riding up together in one group, it seems.

2) Why are Japan’s white-gloved rail system staff always pointing at stuff? The answer, according to an interesting explainer at Atlas Obscura, has to do with ritualized safety checks:

Known in Japanese as shisa kanko, pointing-and-calling works on the principle of associating one’s tasks with physical movements and vocalizations to prevent errors by “raising the consciousness levels of workers”—according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Japan. Rather than rely on a worker’s eyes or habit alone, each step in a given task is reinforced physically and audibly to ensure the step is both complete and accurate.

3) Musical find of the week: Radiooooo.com, where you can explore popular music by world geography and decade. E. P. Licursi has the back story on this “hit tune time machine” in The New Yorker.

4) “Which Tech CEO Would Make the Best Supervillain?” Zuck? Elon Musk? Travis Kalanick? Jeff Bezos? Larry Page? Bill Gates? Peter Thiel? Click here to read more and decide for yourself.

5) Wondering how to quit social media? Here’s a round-up of several new books to help you unplug and explore the world around you. Among the titles: “Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World,” “The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit,” and “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative.”

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 86: Alexander’s FML Day; The Wonders of Aging; On Owning Music; Tears as Signals

2017 03 20NN861

Edition 86 of my email newsletter, Newley’s Notes, went out to subscribers Saturday.

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.

After some cool winter months, the weather here in New Delhi has started to warm up.

Lows have been in the low-to-mid 60s Fahrenheit, with highs in the mid-80s (that’s about mid-teens to high 20s Celsius). Think: a long sleeve shirt in the morning and evenings, but enough heat to produce a tiny sweat on the brow in the afternoon.

One the one hand, it’s nice to not have to bundle up quite so much, but on the other hand, the days are starting to get toasty, hinting at the sweltering summer months ahead.

In case you can’t tell, after nearly a decade in tropical Southeast Asia, I am still enjoying the novelty of seasons here in India!

On to this week’s NN.

5 ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) Alexander’s day from hell, updated for the digital age. I love this humorous, updated New Yorker take on the classic 1972 children’s book, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” which begins:

I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and woke up with gum in my hair, so I Googled “how to get gum out of hair” and found a video but it had a thirty-second pre-roll spot and that made me mad so I went to tweet about it but Twitter was down. FML.

And later:

When we met my dad at Starbucks he said I couldn’t play with his laptop but I forgot. He also said don’t fool around with his phone but I think I FaceTimed Australia. My dad sighed and published a short piece on Medium about the challenges of raising kids in the digital age.

(Thanks for the tip, Miles B.!)

2) You should buy your music, not stream it. So argues Ted Gioia in an essay called “Why Music Ownership Matters.” Art “that can be embodied in a physical object generates more economic value than art than merely exists as an intangible,” he says.

Side note: I am interested in starting a vinyl record collection primarily because in a world of digital music, I miss a physical connection to my favorite artists.

3) What purpose does crying serve? A thought-provoking essay by Kevin Simler, who writes that tears have to do with dominance, submission, and friendship:

All of these observations support our initial bias toward studying tears as a behavior rather than a symptom. In particular, they’re a social behavior, something we evolved to do because of their effects on the people around us. In the language of biology, then: Tears are a signal.

4) Old age should be celebrated, not feared. Ninety-four-year old Harry Leslie Smith, writing in The Guardian, says:

I have been living on borrowed time since my birth in Barnsley all those years ago: I survived both the depression and the second world war. Even in advanced old age, because I walked free of those two events, I feel like a man who beat all the odds in a high-stakes casino. It’s why I’ve embraced each season of my life with both joy and wonderment because I know our time on Earth is a brief interlude between nonexistence.

And:

People should not look at their approaching golden years with dread or apprehension but as perhaps one of the most significant stages in their development as a human being, even during these turbulent times. For me, old age has been a renaissance despite the tragedies of losing my beloved wife and son. It’s why the greatest error anyone can make is to assume that, because an elderly person is in a wheelchair or speaks with quiet deliberation, they have nothing important to contribute to society. It is equally important to not say to yourself if you are in the bloom of youth: “I’d rather be dead than live like that.” As long as there is sentience and an ability to be loved and show love, there is purpose to existence.

5) Video: The BBC viral video family talks to The WSJ. I mentioned in last week’s NN that the viral video of Robert Kelly being interrupted by his kids during a BBC interview looked set to be an internet sensation. And boy was it ever.

In a hugely popular WSJ story, my colleague Alistair Gale caught up with the family at the center of it all, and the resultant video is well worth watching.

“She was in a hippity-hoppity mood that day because of the school party,” Mr. Kelly said of his daughter Marion, who famously sauntered into the room during his interview.

“He usually locks the door” during interviews, said his wife, Kim Jung-A. “It was chaos for me.”

Simply delightful.

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 85: Me Talking Trump and Visas; BBC’s Viral Classic; Barca: Amazing; Micro-meteorites

2017 03 13NN

Edition 85 of my email newsletter, Newley’s Notes, went out to subscribers Saturday.

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.

Apologies for the delay in sending this edition out. I missed a week, so this NN is even more action-packed than usual.

WHAT I WROTE IN THE WSJ:

I story I’d been working on for some time ran recently, and has provoked a strong response online, with more than 450 comments on The WSJ site, and more than 800 reactions, 230 shares and 150 comments on Facebook:

Indian Workers in U.S. Fear Trump H-1B Visa Crackdown.

TLDR: Foreign tech workers are concerned that under Pres. Trump, changes to the program might suddenly force them to pack up and leave the country. Many have put down roots in the U.S., buying homes and sending kids to school. I spoke with dozens of folks for this story. Please give it a read.

Other stories:

More on H-1B stuff: Indian Outsourcing Firms Look to Get Ahead of Immigration Curbs. The story begins:

Under pressure from President Donald Trump’s administration, Indian outsourcing firms are working behind the scenes to prevent potential immigration curbs in the U.S., their most important market.

India’s big IT services firms employ millions of people and contribute significantly to the Indian economy. And the U.S. is their biggest market, so a tightening of visa rules is a real threat to their business models.

Meanwhile a colleague and I on Fri. held a Facebook Live video chat on H-1B issues. We took questions from viewers and I discussed some of my recent stories. The video has been watched more than 85,000 times already.

And finally, in other news, I wrote this piece: Alibaba Raises Stake in India’s Crowded E-Commerce Market. It begins:

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is placing a big bet on India’s hotly contested e-commerce market, pouring $177 million more into Paytm as the Chinese tech titan chases growth beyond its shores.

5 ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) What will surely become of the most viral videos of all time was recorded yesterday. Yes, I’m referring to the kids interrupting the guy giving the BBC interview.. <– Give it a watch if you’re one of the few people who hasn’t seen it yet.

In my view, the video was an instant hit because it involved these key elements:

  • A live TV #fail. Who doesn’t love one of those?
  • A gif-able, funny, toddler strut
  • The woman, apparently his wife, rushing in frantically
  • The older kid yelping when run over by the younger kid
  • The crawling door close
  • The guy — the telegenic Robert E. Kelly, a professor at a university in S. Korea — trying to maintain a straight face
  • Brevity — all of this happened within 45 seconds!

2) Barcelona staged one of the most amazing comebacks ever seen on a football field. Down 4-0 in the first leg of a Champions League round of 16 game, the Spanish side came back to beat Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 Wednesday, scoring three goals in the final seven minutes.

Here’ the NYT write-up. And The Guardian has a good roundup of the celebrations and reaction online.

3) Project Stardust: A well known jazz musician in Norway has pioneered, in a new book, methods for collecting cosmic dust in places like rooftops. Click through for the context.

Here’s more on the book and the man, Jon Larsen.

4) India PM Narendra Modi: MicroManager-in-Chief. My very talented WSJ colleagues here in New Delhi have written a fascinating deep dive with behind-the-scenes details on how the most powerful Indian leader in a generation goes about governing.

Highly recommended for those interested in India and South Asian politics.

5) “Jimmy Buffett Launching Margaritaville Retirement Homes.” That’s the headline on this Hollywood Reporter story:

According to the website for Latitude Margaritavile, the first of the communities is being planned in Daytona Beach, Fla., and it promises that the party will continue well into the golden years.

Amazing.

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 84: Neemrana Trip, Trappist-1 Discovery, Brian Eno on Music

2017 03 05NN84

Edition 84 of my email newsletter, Newley’s Notes, went out to subscribers the week before last. (I’ve been delayed in posting it here.) It’s 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 AT NEWLEY.COM

Trip Report: Three-Day Getaway to Neemrana Fort Palace — I finally got around to posting some images from this late December sojourn. Included here: pics of the 15th-century-fort-turned-hotel in which we stayed, and a badass step well. Wait, what’s a step well? Click through to find out.

5 ITEMS THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME THIS WEEK:

1) Why the Trappist-1 discovery could aid our search for extraterrestrial life. You may have seen the news that seven earth-sized planets were discovered orbiting a star 40 light years away. Why is this important? As a colleague wrote in The WSJ:

Called Trappist-1, the dwarf star, located about 40 light years away from Earth in the constellation Aquarius, is so small that it is barely bigger than Jupiter, the largest planet in our own solar system. Yet it is home to the largest collection of Earth-sized planets found in the galaxy so far, the scientists said.

There’s more from Akshat Rathi in Quartz:

Trappist-1 is an ultra-cool dwarf that’s barely bigger than Jupiter—a type of star much more common in our galaxy than sun-like stars. Now that we’ve found so many Earth-like planets circling among the first few ultra-cool dwarfs observed closely, including Trappist-1, it means we should probably start focusing efforts on these types of star systems. And since there’s so many of them out there, the Trappist-1 discovery raises the possibility that finding more such solar systems may prove to be nothing out of the ordinary.

In other words, the discovery provides a road map for our future searching.

Also, I would be remiss if I failed to note this delightfully geeky detail: the scientists involved set up a domain name for the star: Trappist.one.

2) Brian Eno talks ambient music in this interesting Pitchfork interview. Eno’s 1978 album “Music for Airports” is perhaps the album I have listened to more than any other, as I find it the perfect soundtrack for working. I like this quote:

I really think that for us, who all grew up listening primarily to recorded music, we tend to forget that until about 120 years ago ephemeral experience was the only one people had. I remember reading about a huge fan of Beethoven who lived to the age of 86 in the era before recordings, and the great triumph of his life was that he’d managed to hear the Fifth Symphony six times. That’s pretty amazing. They would have been spread over many years, so there would have been no way of reliably comparing those performances.

3) “What’re the best-designed things you’ve ever used?” That’s the title of this wide-ranging discussion on Hacker News, touching on products from Casio wrist watches to simple microwave ovens to pencils to alarm clock apps.

4) The bigger they are the harder they fall, goalkeeping edition: “Sutton United goalkeeper Wayne Shaw resigns ‘in tears’ after pie stunt amid gambling commission investigation.”

The feel-good story about the rotund, 40-something backup goalkeeper for Sutton United, which made a surprising run in the FA Cup, has reached a ridiculous conclusion.

5) Video of the week: the U.S. Navy launches trucks off an aircraft carrier.

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 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