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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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2015 Media Picks: My Favorite Book, Album, Movie, TV Show — and Goal and Save

2016-01-04harrisjpgBook: “Waking Up”

I read a lot of really great books this year, most of which were published prior to 2015.

The one that comes closest to qualifying for this list, however, since it was published in late 2014, is Sam Harris’s Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion.

Harris, a neuroscientist, illustrates that our perception of the world quite literally dictates the quality of our lives. He discusses eastern and western religions, consciousness, the illusion of the self, meditation, gurus, and psychedelic  drugs.

“Our minds are all we have,” he writes early on in the book. “They are all we have ever had. And they are all we can offer others.”

Highly recommended.

Album: “Meamodern Sounds in Country Music”

2016-01-04_sturgillAgain, I’m kind of cheating here. Sturgill Simpson’s “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music” came out in mid-2014. But it’s too good to ignore. I blogged about it back in February.

Unfortunately, it’s not available on Spotify — my current pick for music streaming given Rdio’s demise and my brief but ultimaely ill-fated dalliance with Apple Music — but you can listen to it on Amazon or YouTube.

Movie: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

2016-01-04SWSerious “Star Wars” nerds may have their quibbles. But as a casual fan — as in, I like the movies, I really do, but I don’t live or die by them — I found “The Force Awakens” to be thrilling and fun.

It’s great to have the crew back again.

TV show: “Fargo”

2016-01-04fargoHoly shit, “Fargo.”

Season one was fantastic. And so was season two, which just concluded.

It seems crazy, the idea of replicating, for TV, the setting (mostly) for one of the finest films ever made. But it works. And there’s more to come!

Goal: Messi vs. Athetic Bilbao

Okay, so a goal represents the greatest achievement in the world’s greatest game (except for saving a penalty), and isn’t a piece of media, exactly. But it kind of is, when it’s reproduced. Like it is here. I don’t care.

THAT MESSI GOAL against Atheltic Bilbao, which I mentioned back in June, was outrageous:

Save: David De Gea vs. Everton

Again, we have to go back to late 2014, but it’s worth it.

As I blogged at the time, De Gea was exceptional against Everton. The save he pulls off at the one minute mark here is just…I’m speechless.

What a year.

The 20 Best ‘Best of 2014’ Lists

  1. Best Books of 2014WSJ
  2. The books Quartz read in 2014 — Quartz
  3. The best books of 2014 — The Economist
  4. 10 best nonfiction books of 2014 — Stephen Carter at Bloomberg View
  5. The 10 Best Books of 2014NYT
  6. The Best Books of 2014 — Amazon
  7. The Best Book Covers of 2014NYT
  8. Longreads’ Best of 2014 — Longreads
  9. The Best Movies of 2014 — Richard Brody at The New Yorker
  10. Best movies of 2014 with behavioral economics themes — Cass Sunstein at Bloomberg View
  11. The 20 best movies of 2014 — A.V. Club
  12. The Best Movie Posters of 2014 — MUBI Notebook
  13. The 10 Best TV Shows of 2014 — Vulture
  14. Best TV Of 2014 — NPR
  15. Best albums of 2014 — Rateyourmusic.com
  16. The 100 Best Tracks of 2014 — Pitchfork
  17. Best iPhone photos of 2014 — iPhone Photography Awards
  18. Top physics breakthroughs of 2014 — Physics World
  19. The Best Tech Quotes of 2014 — Vauhini Vara at The New Yorker
  20. Embedded above and on YouTube here: Top 30 Goals World Cup 2014, by HeilRJ.

Some favorite albums, books, TV shows, movies, and in-depth stories from 2013

Here’s a look back at some of my favorites from last year.

Albums

My pick: “Modern Vampires of the City,” by Vampire Weekend.

Here’s “Obvious Bicycle“:

And “Diane Young“:

Runner-up album:

Beta Love,” by Ra Ra Riot. Here’s the title track.

Honorable mentions: Sky Ferreira’s “Night Time, My Time,” Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” and Lorde’s “Pure Heroine.”

Books

Of the books I read last year, two stand out, not least because they were written by pals.

First: Matt Gross’s “The Turk Who Loved Apples: And Other Tales of Losing My Way Around the World.”

2014 01 08 turk who loved apples

This may not come as a surprise, since I’ve written about Matt’s work before.

The New York Times called the book “a joyful meditation on the spontaneity and unpredictability of the traveling life,” and said:

Gross ruminates on the loneliness of the road, the evanescent friendships that occasionally blossom into something deeper, the pleasures of wandering through cities without a map. Now settled in Brooklyn with his wife and daughters, he leaves little doubt that all his years of near-constant travel have only whetted his appetite for more. “The world,” he writes, has become “a massively expanding network of tiny points where anything at all could happen, and within each point another infinite web of possibilities.”

Worth checking out.

And second: “The Accidental Playground: Brooklyn Waterfront Narratives of the Undesigned and Unplanned,” by Dan Campo.

2014 01 08 accidental playground

The Times included the book in a piece called “Suggested Reading for de Blasio,” and wrote:

Daniel Campo, a former New York City planner, considers the serendipitous development of Williamsburg and concludes: “In contrast to urban space produced through conventional planning and design, the accidental playground that evolved on the North Brooklyn waterfront generated vitality through immediate and largely unmeditated action. The waterfront was there for the claiming, and people went out and did just that without asking for permission, holding meetings or making plans.”

Indeed, it’s worth a read.

TV shows

2014 01 09 breaking bad

There can be only one.

Movies

I haven’t yet seen many of the year’s most talked-about films, but I liked “Gravity” and “This is the End.” 2013 films I still intend to watch: “12 Years a Slave,” “The Act of Killing,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and “Computer Chess.”

Stories

And finally, here are some in-depth stories, blog posts, reviews, and other pieces of writing I liked this year:

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