By Me Yesterday: Singapore’s Reviewing Airbnb-Related Regulations

The story begins:

Singapore is reviewing guidelines governing the kind of short-term rentals used by home sharing companies like Airbnb, underscoring the regulatory uncertainties the fast-growing startup faces as it expands abroad.

At question in wealthy, tightly controlled Singapore: Should home owners be allowed to rent out their residences for short periods of time, as Airbnb users typically do?

It’s a legal gray area that the San Francisco-based company — one of the world’s hottest startups, valued at $10 billion — has faced in various markets as it has expanded throughout Europe and Asia.

In Singapore, where Airbnb provides listings for hundreds of properties, the city-state’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, or URA, late last month began soliciting feedback from the public regarding existing regulations.

Everything You Need to Know about Personal Finance in 833 Words

For his last Sunday WSJ column, Brett Arends provides some simple rules on personal finance:

Smart money moves aren’t more complicated than you think. They’re simpler.

Cut through all the jargon and pontificating and technical stuff, and everything you really need to know about personal finance fits into less than 1,000 words—no more than three to four minutes.

Click through for his 23 tips.

Another Novel I Really Loved: Adam Johnson’s ‘Orphan Master’s Son’

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Back in September, I wrote I post called “A Novel I Really Loved: Adam Johnson’s ‘Parasites Like Us’”:

At the airport on my way to a recent beach getaway I picked up a copy of Adam Johnson‘s “Parasites Like Us.”

It is a remarkably good novel.

Though the book was published ten years ago, I hadn’t heard of it. (Johnson’s 2012 novel, “The Orphan Master’s Son,” won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. “Parasites Like Us” is his debut novel.)

Well, I recently got around to reading “The Orphan Master’s Son.” It, too, is exceptional.

Sam Sacks wrote in a WSJ review after the book was published:

Adam Johnson’s remarkable novel “The Orphan Master’s Son” is set in North Korea, an entire nation that has conformed to the fictions spun by a dictator and his inner circle. Mr. Johnson’s book is based on years of research (including a trip to North Korea that the regime carefully choreographed), and though experts on the region will know better than I, his depictions have the feel of eerie authenticity. Set during the recently ended reign of Kim Jong Il, the book is a work of high adventure, surreal coincidences and terrible violence, seeming to straddle the line between cinematic fantasy and brutal actuality.

Indeed, there is a Gabriel García Márquez-style magic realism about the book.

It’s very much worth reading, especially for those interested in North Korea.

An Album You Must Listen to: Sturgill Simpson’s ‘Metamodern Sounds In Country Music’

I first heard about Sturgill Simpson on the NPR “All Songs Considered” best of 2014 podcast.

You just have to listen to his album that came out this year, “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.” (It currently has 282 ratings on Amazon, 248 of which are five-stars.)

Here’s NPR’s take:

In case you need a clue as to where Simpson is coming from, the title comes in handy: Metamodern Sounds in Country Music nods to the genre-expanding Ray Charles classic Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, and tells you he’s going to fold country’s conventions over on themselves as if he’s trying to create some kind of musical space-time portal. He shows up on the cover in a photo that looks as if it had been pulled out of a Civil War-era locket, with long hair and untrimmed mustache. The background, of course, is outer space. Here’s a list of the jobs held by the eight people Simpson thanks in the album’s credits: molecular biologist, psychonaut, science-fiction author, astronomer, theoretical physicist, psychopharmacologist and computer programmer. The way Simpson is gunning, he’s going to freak some people out.

The funny thing is, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is absolutely country, from the roadhouse-ready “Life of Sin” to the lonesome-skyline blues of “Voices” to the revival-tent call-and-response stomp of “A Little Light.” The two covers on the album are of Buford Abner’s “Long White Line” (which appeared on both Charlie Moore & Bill Napier’s Truckin’ Favorites and Aaron Tippin’s In Overdrive) and When in Rome’s 1988 hit “The Promise,” which appeared in the closing credits to Napoleon Dynamite. Both would sound at home at the Ryman.

Embedded above and on YouTube here: “Life of Sin.”

I’ve also heard good things about his first album, “High Top Mountain,” but haven’t checked it out yet. I will soon, though.

What Does a News Homepage Mean in 2015?

Interesting stuff from Melody Joy Kramer and others: What could a home page mean for a news site in 2015?

Last September, I went to Chicago for a conference. On the third day of the conference, I slipped away to my friend Max’s apartment on a mission. The mission was to gather together a lot of very smart people who don’t work in news — and ask them to design a new news homepage.

By news homepage, I mean any way for a user to first encounter content. A push notification could very well be the new news homepage. (Related: Ways to think about push notifications.) An app is a news homepage. An article or a newsletter is a news homepage. If you listen to the news, Overcast or Soundcloud or the iTunes store may be your homepage. Homepage, to me, is simply a shortened version of any of these things. You can substitute any of the words I mentioned for homepage below.

Click through for their 64 ideas.

My Favorite Artist at Art Stage Singapore: Yang Yongliang

In my post a couple of weeks ago about Art Stage Singapore, the annual Asia-focused exhibition held here, I promised to post some more photos.

Here goes.

I really, really enjoyed walking around the space and taking in all the varied works. These iPhone snapshots are meant to show a sampling of what was on display.

For a bit of context, here’s a WSJ story (not by me) providing an overview of this year’s exhibition. And here’s one from last year.

There’s also a story about Art Stage Singapore from ArtNews and a post with a bunch of images Hanoi Grapevine.

I was most struck by the works shown here at the top. They were highly realistic, incredibly detailed, and oddly futuristic.

I didn’t note the artist’s name at the time, but learned later — thanks to Instagram user Harsha — that they were done by Chinese artist Yang Yongliang.

Of course, I should have known — I tweeted about and linked to some of his artwork in this link round-up in early 2013.

I loved seeing the pieces in person. Here’s a video with more about him.

The rest of the photos show other artwork that caught my eye.

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By Me Yesterday: Google Street View Comes to Bangladesh

It begins:

The newest country available on Google Street View: Bangladesh.

The tech titan on Thursday unveiled 360-degree panoramic images of streets around the teeming capital, Dhaka, the port city of Chittagong and dozens of other locations in the densely populated country sandwiched between India and Myanmar.

Bangladesh, home to some 150 million people, is the 65th nation for which the Google Maps feature is available.

By Me Yesterday: China’s Renren Invests in U.S. Startup FiscalNote

The story begins:

Renren has led a $10 million investment in a Washington, D.C.-based startup that uses big data to forecast legislation, the latest move by the Chinese social network to fund innovative companies that could further the company’s growth.

FiscalNote, founded in 2013, uses data-mining software and artificial intelligence to predict legislators’ votes and the success or failure of bills. Among its clients, the company says, are JP Morgan Chase, software firm VMWare, and ride sharing company Uber, which has faced some notable regulatory hurdles of late.

“I see them as a disruptive company because the space they’re going after is huge,” Renren Chief Executive Joe Chen told The Wall Street Journal. “I think just from a pure business point they’re going to be tremendous going forward,” he said.

10 Links

  1. How, and Why, Apple Overtook Microsoft — Jim Stewart at the NYT
  2. The Not-So-Crazy Plan to Build an Ice-Skating Highway Through EdmontonWired
  3. Bitcoin and the Digital-Currency Revolution — Michael Casey and Paul Vigna at The WSJ
  4. How to approach your own career like an entrepreneur — Erika Fry at Fortune
  5. The Jet Set Life of Karl Lagerfeld’s Favorite Male Model — for NowThe NYT Magazine
  6. Thaksin times: Thailand’s coup-makers punish two former prime ministersThe Economist
  7. A Progress Report on Jeff Bezos Transforming the Washington Post — PBS MediaShift
  8. Ecuador Takes a $3.8m Punt on the Super BowlWSJ Frontiers
  9. Being There: Ambient Loops from Famous Sci-Fi TV and Movies — Red Bull Music Academy
  10. Embedded above, on YouTube here, and related to link number nine: “Blade Runner Ambient Deckard’s Apartment Sound for 12 Hours”

(Previous link round-ups are available via the links tag.)

By Me Today: Facebook Denies ‘Lizard Squad’ Hacking Claim

The story begins:

Facebook Inc. on Tuesday denied being the victim of a hacking attack and said its site and photo-sharing app Instagram had suffered an outage after it introduced a configuration change.

The disruption “was not the result of a third party attack but instead occurred after we introduced a change that affected our configuration systems,” a Facebook spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal. “We moved quickly to fix the problem, and both services are back to 100% for everyone.”