Newley's Notes

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

2017 01 11galaxy

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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.


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.”


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


  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


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.


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