Newley's Notes

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.

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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.


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.


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:

Thanks for reading.


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