Categories
Movies

‘Parasite’ — Yes, It’s That Good. You Should Watch It

You may have heard some buzz about “Parasite,” the film released earlier this year by acclaimed South Korean director Bong Joon-ho that won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. It’s on many “Best films of 2019” lists.

I’m here to tell you: Yes, it’s that good.

You should watch it.

I loved one of Bong’s earlier films, the post-apocalyptic “Snowpiercer.”

“Parasite” is a comedic thriller about…well, lots of things. Class, wealth, society, family, fortune, secrets. Especially secrets.

Not only is the plot deliciously surprising, but the cinematography is gorgeous.

And unlike many modern films, it’s not inordinately long, running just over two hours, and is perfectly paced. Highly recommended. In theaters now.

Categories
Journalism Newley's Notes

NN201: Newest Page One Story — Podcast Appearance — 1 Billion Surveillance Cams — Bonus Puppy Content

2019 12 04wsjpage1

Sent as an email newsletter December 9, 2019.

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

Apologies for NN’s absence last week. After an enjoyable Thanksgiving…your faithful correspondent promptly fell ill. But I’m back now!

✍️ I’m proud to say I had another page one story (the second in a week’s time, following my piece on lending apps), this one out on Wednesday. The headline: U.S. Tech Giants Bet Big on India. Now It’s Changing the Rules.

And the first few grafs:

NEW DELHI – After Walmart Inc. sealed a $16 billion deal last year to buy India’s biggest domestic e-commerce startup, it got some bad news. India was changing its e-commerce regulations.

Foreign-owned online retailers would need to modify their supply chains and stop deep discounting. Those rules didn’t apply to Indian companies.

India, the world’s biggest untapped digital market, has suddenly become a much tougher slog for American and other international players.

It’s not just Walmart, but also the likes of Amazon, Google, and Facebook’s WhatsApp that are facing shifting regulatory sands.

Please give it a read.

📹 Meanwhile, my colleague Liza Lin and I had a story out Friday that has captured a lot of attention (it was even shared on Twitter by Marco Rubio. The headline: A World With a Billion Cameras Watching You Is Just Around the Corner. It begins:

As governments and companies invest more in security networks, hundreds of millions more surveillance cameras will be watching the world in 2021, mostly in China, according to a new report.

The report, from industry researcher IHS Markit, to be released Thursday, said the number of cameras used for surveillance would climb above 1 billion by the end of 2021. That would represent an almost 30% increase from the 770 million cameras today. China would continue to account for a little over half the total.

Fast-growing, populous nations such as India, Brazil and Indonesia would also help drive growth in the sector, the report said.

🎧 Other news: I was on the latest edition of the excellent Asia Matters podcast. In an episode called “What China’s ambitions tell us about tech in Asia,” I joined my ex-WSJ colleague Andrew Peaple and Julian Gewirtz of Harvard to share my perspective from India.

You can listen here, or search for “Asia Matters” on Spotify or in your favorite podcast app.

Okay – enough self-promotion. On to this week’s links…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

📈 1) Google Management Shuffle Points to Retreat From Alphabet Experiment [WSJ]

“Sundar Pichai’s appointment this week as chief executive of Google parent Alphabet Inc. effectively shifts the focus back on the company’s advertising profit machine and away from its “moonshots” and other potential new businesses.”

👓 2) Warby Parker Wants to Be the Warby Parker of Contacts [Bloomberg]

“At $440 for a year’s supply, the lenses will be slightly cheaper than many daily contacts but will be sold with what Warby says will be a much improved ordering process.”

⛺ 3) How Hipcamp Became the Airbnb of the Outdoors [New Yorker]

“Alyssa Ravasio, Hipcamp’s founder and C.E.O., is not a purist. For her, camping is a leisure activity, an escape valve, a business opportunity, a wealth-redistribution system, and a political strategy: an avenue to environmental awareness, engagement, even activism.”

🍎 4) Apple worth more than US stock index’s energy sector [Financial Times]

“Apple is now worth more than all large-cap US energy stocks put together.”

🧘 5) Buddhism scholars: Meditation apps are fueling tech addiction, not easing stress [Fast Company]

“…Buddhist apps, rather than curing the anxiety created by our smartphones, just make us more addicted to them and, in the end, even more stressed.”

🏎️ 6) These Guys Just Drove an E63 AMG Across America in a Record 27 Hours 25 Minutes [Road & Track]

“After leaving the Red Ball garage on the east side of Manhattan at 12:57 a.m. on November 10, it took Toman, Tabbutt and Chadwick 27 hours and 25 minutes to reach the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, in L.A.’s South Bay. In a car.”

💾 7) Version Museum [VersionMuseum]

“A visual history of your favorite technology.”

🗺️ 8) Map: The most common last name in every country [Reddit]

🏈 9) Sad/heartwarming dog-related story of the week: This college football player lost his parents before Senior Day, but he didn’t walk out alone [CBS News]

“A Michigan State University football player whose parents died before Senior Day walked out with his adopted dogs onto the field for the occasion.”

🐶 10) Dog-related video of the week: This is the most Indian photo bomb [Twitter: @Tim_Kimber]

💡 Quote of the week:

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” – Raymond Chandler

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Newley

Categories
India Journalism Tech

Silicon Valley-Backed App Lenders Use Phone Data to Hassle Borrowers

2019 12 03 wsj front page

That’s the headline on my most recent story, with my colleague Justin Scheck.

It was on the front page of Friday’s WSJ.

It begins:

NEW DELHI–Silicon Valley venture capital is funding a wave of fintech startups in India that use data from borrowers’ cellphones to collect on debts in ways that are illegal in both India and the U.S.

The startups are providing much-needed credit in India, where consumer lending has been limited by a lack of credit scores and by banks that are reluctant to make personal loans. While the newcomers’ tactics are illegal, they are ignored by Indian regulators who want to encourage lending, according to analysts and company insiders. The startups also use personal data to make lending decisions.

It is the latest example of Silicon Valley pushing legal and ethical boundaries in a global race for customers and profit. Lured by the promise of massive populations of people who are just beginning to transact online, tech companies are moving into banking in emerging markets, where cultural norms are complex, regulations are often weak, and many consumers lack credit histories or even official identification.

2019 12 03Silicon Valley Backed Fintech Apps Use Phone Data to Harass Borrowers

I also discussed the story on our What’s News podcast. You can listen on Spotify here or search your favorite podcast app for WSJ What’s News.

Categories
India Journalism Tech

India’s Paytm Secures $1 Billion Investment From SoftBank, Ant Financial

2019 11 26paytm

That’s the headline on my newest story, out yesterday. It begins:

NEW DELHI—The parent company of popular Indian mobile-payments startup Paytm said it has secured $1 billion in fresh funds from Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. and China’s Ant Financial Services Group, giving it more firepower in a fast-growing but crowded market.

The investment values the parent company, One97 Communications Ltd., at $16 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter, making it one of Asia’s most valuable startups.

The Noida, India-based company makes a smartphone app that allows users to pay for goods and services such as groceries, auto rickshaw rides, movie tickets and electricity bills. It also has an e-commerce platform and offers financial products such as mutual funds and savings accounts.

The investment is a “reaffirmation of our commitment” to provide “new age financial services,” founder and Chief Executive Vijay Shekhar Sharma said in a statement Monday in India.

Click through to read the rest.

Categories
Newley's Notes

NN200: Elon’s Cybertruck Fail — Dems Get Facebook Guru — Delhi’s Jungle Prince — Puppies on the Prowl

2019 11 26fireworks

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter November 24, 2019

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

Two. Hundred.

Two hundred!

🏆 This is the two hundredth edition of Newley’s notes. I can hardly believe it. The first one went out on February 15, 2015 – four years and nine months ago. As I described it then:

This is a regular email newsletter where I’ll share my stories, blog posts, and various links about technology,
journalism, culture and more.

The formatting has changed slightly, but NN is still pretty much that!

Thanks for reading, friends. I always relish your feedback, whether it’s just your latest news or suggestions on items to feature in upcoming editions.

On to this week’s links…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

⚾ 1) Tesla Unveiled a Bulletproof Pickup. Then the Window Broke [WSJ]

“But when it came to demonstrating the Cybertruck’s toughness, things went ominously off script. Mr. Musk asked his head of design to throw a small metal ball at the vehicle’s side window. The resulting crack of the window surprised the audience, including Mr. Musk. ‘Oh my f-ing god,’ Tesla’s chief said. ‘Maybe that was a little too hard.’”

🤔 Related, speculative Twitter thread: “Have you noticed that Elon Musk is driving development of at least 4 technologies needed for easier living in a failed state?” [@futurepundit]

🧙‍♂️ 2) How a Facebook Employee Helped Trump Win – But Switched Sides for 2020 [WSJ]

“After the 2016 presidential election, Republican Party officials credited Facebook Inc. with helping Donald Trump win the White House. One senior official singled out a then–28-year-old Facebook employee embedded with the Trump campaign, calling him an ‘MVP.’ Now that key player is working for the other side…

👑 3) India-related longread of the week: The Jungle Prince of Delhi [New York Times]

“For 40 years, journalists chronicled the eccentric royal family of Oudh, deposed aristocrats who lived in a ruined palace in the Indian capital. It was a tragic, astonishing story. But was it true?

📹 4) This Japanese hotel room costs $1 a night. The catch? You have to livestream your stay [CNN]

“And while the $1 rooms are clearly a loss leader, Inoue is thinking beyond the cost of a single night’s stay. The YouTube channel has already passed 1,000 subscribers. Once it accumulates more than 4,000 view hours, he will be able to put ads on the channel and monetize it.”

☎️ 5) Dial Up! How the Hmong diaspora uses the world’s most boring technology to make something weird and wonderful [The Verge]

“The shows weren’t the traditional kinds you’d find by tuning to an AM or FM band; they were operated independently from media companies by ordinary Hmong citizens, aired live all-day, every day and were free to call into for as long as you’d like. They used free conference call software to do it, a network that is still in place to this day.”

🌐 6) Firefox’s fight for the future of the web [The Guardian]

“In the early days, we thought all companies and social networks cared about us and cared for us…And increasingly it has become clear that, no, you need someone looking out for you.”

🔱 7) Exclusive: This 7,000-year-old woman was among Sweden’s last hunter-gatherers [National Geographic]

“Her real name was likely last uttered some 7,000 years ago in the fertile marshes and forests of what is now southwest Sweden. But while that name is forgotten to history, a team led by archaeologist and artist Oscar Nilsson was able to breathe life into her remarkable burial with a reconstruction that will be unveiled at Sweden’s Trelleborg Museum on November 17.”

🎧 8) An Oral History of LimeWire: The Little App That Changed the Music Industry Forever [Mel Magazine]

“LimeWire was by no means an overnight success. But with a team of dedicated engineers, the software slowly grew into a file-sharing behemoth.”

🐎 9) A thread of rating every horse emoji: [Jelena Woehr/Horse Girl Autumn on Twitter]

🏃‍♂️ 10) Dog-related video of the week: run for ur lives! [Reddit/aww]

💡 Quote of the week:

“The true price of anything you do is the amount of time you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

What’s new with you? Hit reply to share your news or just say hi.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Newley