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Newley's Notes

NN233: Dogs in restaurants

Sent as an email newsletter Wednesday, September 9. Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

👋 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.

Photo of the week, above: table for four, Hong Kong. Spotted on a recent evening.

🆕 If you missed it, my latest story on Facebook and India, out Thursday with my colleague Jeff Horwitz: Facebook, Under Pressure in India, Bans Politician for Hate Speech. It begins:

Facebook Inc. banned a member of India’s ruling party for violating its policies against hate speech, amid a growing political storm over its handling of extremist content on its platform.

The removal of the politician, T. Raja Singh, is an about-face for the company and one that will be politically tricky in India, its biggest market by number of users.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Facebook’s head of public policy in the country, Ankhi Das, had opposed banning Mr. Singh under Facebook’s “dangerous individual” prohibitions. In communications to Facebook staffers, she said punishing violations by politicians from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party could hurt the company’s business interests in the country.

And a re-cap of our previous stories on the topic, if you missed them:

🚨 Administrative note: There will be no NN next week. I’ll be back the week of September 20.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

📪 1) The U.S. presidential election is in 55 days. Many people are expected to submit their ballots by mail due to Covid–19. Here’s a rundown of how to vote by mail in every state.

👨‍💻 2) Silicon Valley tech firms are finding ways to help parents take care of their kids amid the pandemic. Childless workers say they’re being treated unfairly.

🌲 3) In Chicago, Amazon drivers are hanging their smartphones from trees near delivery stations to try to collect delivery orders faster.

🧘 4) Longread of the week: “The Eco–Yogi Slumlords of Brooklyn.”

🇸🇳 5) Senegal, “with a population of 16 million, has tackled COVID–19 aggressively and, so far, effectively. More than six months into the pandemic, the country has about 14,000 cases and 284 deaths.”

🎥 6) Netflix is making “The Three-Body Problem,” the popular trilogy of sci-fi books by China’s Cixin Liu’s, into an English-language series.

🙅‍♂️ 7) And speaking of Netflix, founder Reed Hastings is no fan of working from home. “Not being able to get together in person, particularly internationally, is a pure negative,” he told my WSJ colleague, Joe Flint, in an interview.

👏 8) Excellent Twitter thread: “Civil War generals as Muppets.”

🔉 9) Sounds of the Forest: “We are collecting the sounds of woodlands and forests from all around the world, creating a growing soundmap bringing together aural tones and textures from the world’s woodlands.”

🐕 10) Dog related video of the week: “Every morning at the same time a sweet stray angel visits this cafeteria to get her daily dose of love and food.”

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“Progress, not perfection, is what we should be asking of ourselves.” – Julia Cameron.

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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India Journalism Tech

Facebook, Under Pressure in India, Bans Politician for Hate Speech

That’s the headline on our newest story, out Thursday. It begins:

Facebook Inc. banned a member of India’s ruling party for violating its policies against hate speech, amid a growing political storm over its handling of extremist content on its platform.

The removal of the politician, T. Raja Singh, is an about-face for the company and one that will be politically tricky in India, its biggest market by number of users.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Facebook’s head of public policy in the country, Ankhi Das, had opposed banning Mr. Singh under Facebook’s “dangerous individual” prohibitions. In communications to Facebook staffers, she said punishing violations by politicians from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party could hurt the company’s business interests in the country.

Click through to read the rest.

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Newley's Notes

NN232: Extreme Zoomies

Sent as an email newsletter Tuesday, September 1. Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

👋 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.

Ginger napping

🐕 Photo of the week, above: Wednesday was National Dog Day. How can I not share this image of Ginger? As I noted on Instagram: Friday vibes.

🗞 Meanwhile: more on Facebook in India.

My latest, out Sunday with my colleague Jeff Horwitz: Facebook Executive Supported India’s Modi, Disparaged Opposition in Internal Messages. It begins:

A Facebook Inc. executive at the center of a political storm in India made internal postings over several years detailing her support for the now ruling Hindu nationalist party and disparaging its main rival, behavior some staff saw as conflicting with the company’s pledge to remain neutral in elections around the world.

In one of the messages, Ankhi Das, head of public policy in the country, posted the day before Narendra Modi swept to victory in India’s 2014 national elections: “We lit a fire to his social media campaign and the rest is of course history.”

The story has, like our previous piece (if you missed it: Facebook’s Hate-Speech Rules Collide With Indian Politics), has been picked up by many media outlets and shared widely online.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🦠 1) How Trump Sowed Covid Supply Chaos. ‘Try Getting It Yourselves.’ [WSJ]

🐖 2) Elon Musk’s Neuralink is neuroscience theater [MIT Technology Review]

📕 3) What Brings Elena Ferrante’s Worlds to Life? [New Yorker]

🔍 4) The Case of the Top Secret iPod [TidBITS]

🇨🇳 5) China makes its mark on the world of tattoos [Economist]

🌊 6) Jacques Cousteau’s Grandson Wants to Build the International Space Station of the Sea [Smithsonian]

🥮 7) Talented Italian Pastry Chef Incorporates Playful Dioramic Scenes Into His Beautiful Desserts [Laughing Squid]

🎸 8) 50 Reasons We Still Love Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited [Consequence of Sound] Thanks to my Dad for sharing this; I have had this album on repeat for about a month. I just can’t get enough of it. Timeless music for extraordinary times.

🐭 9) My new favorite YouTube channel: The Rat Review. In which someone…gives a pet named Theo snacks to “review.” Wheat Thins! Raspberries! Honey Nut Cheerios! Doritos Locos tacos!

👏 10) Dog-related video of the week: Professional zoomies [Reddit].

•••

📕 What I’m Reading

I have momentarily set aside Evan Osnos’s excellent “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China” for something a bit more escapist. I often read several books at once, so have turned to Stephen King’s “The Stand” – yes, it’s about survivors of a pandemic – and a fun yarn I picked up during a beach getaway in July: “Skinny Dip,” by the great Carl Hiassen. Loving both.

💡 Quote of the week:

“You are not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes.” – John Wooden

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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Newley's Notes

NN231: Dustin’s self-administered belly rubs

Sent as an email newsletter Wednesday, August 19. Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

👋 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.

📰 Photo of the week: I had a page one story out Friday with my colleague Jeff Horwitz. It’s about Facebook and hate speech in India.

The headline: Facebook’s Hate-Speech Rules Collide With Indian Politics. And the dek: “Company executive in vital market opposed move to ban controversial politician; some employees allege favoritism to ruling party.”

I shared some details in this Twitter thread.

The story was mentioned by the likes of the BBC, AP, Bloomberg, Reuters, and many news organizations in India.

🆕 And as we reported yesterday, lawmakers in India now want to question Facebook following our piece:

Opposition members of Parliament are acting following an article Friday in The Wall Street Journal that detailed what current and former Facebook employees said was a pattern of favoritism toward the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu hard-liners.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🦠 1) Covid–19-related longread of the week: “A Deadly Coronavirus Was Inevitable. Why Was No One Ready?” This is a deeply reported story by my colleagues Betsy McKay and Phred Dvorak that provides the backstory on the pandemic.

👉 2) Another revealing deep dive: “The Three Abductions of N.: How Corporate Kidnapping Works,” by David Yaffe-Bellany in the New York Times.

🇮🇳 3) On Kamala Harris and the Indian-American community: “When Democrats next week formally nominate the daughter of an Indian immigrant to be vice president, it’ll be perhaps the biggest leap yet in the Indian American community’s rapid ascent into a powerful political force,” Fadel Allassan writes at Axios.

📖 Related book, which I wrote about in this post and recommend highly: “The Other One Percent: Indians in America.”

📱 4) Bring on the TikTok ban, says author and Columbia University law professor Tim Wu. “China keeps a closed and censorial internet economy at home while its products enjoy full access to open markets abroad. The asymmetry is unfair and ought no longer be tolerated. ”

💵 5) And speaking of TikTok: “Oracle is a new entrant in the negotiations for TikTok, whose owner ByteDance Ltd. is facing a fall deadline from the Trump administration to divest itself of its U.S. operations,” my WSJ colleagues report.

🎧 6) “The Addictive Joy of Watching Someone Listen to Phil Collins.” “For almost a year, Tim and Fred Williams, twenty-one-year-old twins from Gary, Indiana, have made videos of themselves listening to famous songs, and then uploading the videos to their YouTube channel.”

👗 7) Interactive of the week, from the New York Times: “Sweatpants Forever: Even before the pandemic, the whole fashion industry had started to unravel. What happens now that no one has a reason to dress up?

📼 8) “You can now rent the world’s last Blockbuster for a ’90s-themed slumber party.” Seriously. It’s in Bend, Oregon, and listed on Airbnb here.

🍁 9) Looks like an interesting documentary: “A Vermont Farmer.” Doug Densmore, a “third-generation maple syrup farmer to work the same sugarbush as his grandfather, runs what in Vermont is called a ‘bucket operation.’ Maple syrup is his only cash crop…” [Via Benedict Evans’s newsletter.]

🐕 10) Dog-related video of the week: “This Dog Scoots And ‘Sploots’ Every Morning.”

•••

📕 What I’m Reading

Still transfixed by Evan Osnos’s “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China.”

💡 Quote of the week:

“The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherf——- sh– out of it.” – Cheryl Strayed

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

Categories
Book Notes

NN230: Ginger arrives in Hong Kong!

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, August 9. Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

👋 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.

🚨 Let’s cut right to the chase: Ginger, our beloved dog, has just arrived here in Hong Kong after a spell in the U.S. following our move from India.

❤️ So the photo of the week, obviously: Gingy! In HK! More soon on the backstory, but didn’t want to bury the lede. The pack has been reunited.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

📱 1) Shot: Microsoft has been in talks to acquire TikTok from China’s Bytedance, as I wrote last week. And now, per a scoop Saturday from my WSJ colleagues Georgia Wells and Cara Lombardo, Twitter has had “preliminary talks about a potential combination” with TikTok.

📺 2) Chaser: On Friday I joined Parikshit Luthra on CNBC-TV18’s “The Global Eye,” a news show in India, to discuss the potential Microsoft-TikTok deal. You can find the segment on Twitter here and on my Instagram here.

🦠 3) Wired’s Steven Levy interviews Bill Gates about Covid–19, among other issues. “You have to admit there’s been trillions of dollars of economic damage done and a lot of debts, but the innovation pipeline on scaling up diagnostics, on new therapeutics, on vaccines is actually quite impressive,” Gates says. “And that makes me feel like, for the rich world, we should largely be able to end this thing by the end of 2021, and for the world at large by the end of 2022.

🤦‍♂️ 4) Fighting Excel is futile. Case in point: Scientists have had to rename 27 human genes because the program kept converting their names to dates. For example, “Membrane Associated Ring-CH-Type Finger 1,“ aka MARCH1, became ”1-Mar."

🔨 5) “We Quit Our Jobs to Build a Cabin – Everything Went Wrong,” write Bryan Schatz and Patrick Hutchison in Outside. “And it was awesome.”

✏️ 6) RIP Pete Hamill. From the AP’s obit: “Pete Hamill was one of [New York City’s] last great crusading columnists and links to journalism’s days of chattering typewriters and smoked-filled banter, an Irish-American both tough and sentimental who related to the underdog and mingled with the elite.”"

🎨 7) Japanese artist Tatsuya Tanaka creates tiny scenes with minature people…featuring everyday pandemic-related items like face masks and thermometers transformed into new objects.

🩸 8) High blood sugar – from stuff like sugar and processed foods – may make exercise less effective.

😲 9) Mind-bending Wikipedia article of the week: Recursive islands and lakes. Bonus: related video.

🍂 10) Dog-related video of the week: not new, but a classic worth revisiting: “I watched this a few times 🤣🤣.” Bonus video: The jealous brother.

•••

📕 What I’m Reading

Almost finished with Evan Osnos’s excellent “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China.”

Meanwhile I finally got around to typing up my notes for a title I read read a few months back: “Pandemics: A Very Short Introduction,” by Christian McMillen.

💡 Quote of the week:

“My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud.” – Henry Rollins

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

Categories
Book Notes

Book Notes: ‘Pandemics: A Very Short Introduction,’ by Christian McMillen

From time to time I share notes about the books I’ve been reading, or have revisited recently after many years.

These posts are meant to help me remember what I’ve learned, and to point out titles I think are worth consulting.

They’re neither formal book reviews nor comprehensive book summaries, but I hope you find them useful. For previous postings, see my Book Notes category.

Pandemics: A Very Short Introduction

Published: 2016
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 978–0199340071
Amazon link

Brief Summary

When it comes to pandemics – including Covid–19 – there’s nothing new under the sun.

My Three Key Takeaways

  1. I read this short (153-page) book, by University of Virginia historian Christian McMillen, earlier this year, as Covid–19 began spreading across the globe.

    My major takeaway: pandemics have long ravaged human populations, of course, and Covid–19 has several historical parallels.

    When cholera hit Europe in the 19th century, merchants rebelled against about trade restrictions. (See the conflict today between those who want to reopen economies and those who think strict lockdowns must continue for public health.)

    When the 1918 influenza swept through nations, authorities in the U.S. and U.K. downplayed its severity. (See how some world leaders this year reacted to Covid–19.)

  2. Whether it’s cholera, HIV, malaria or tuberculosis, poorer people and poorer countries are usually hit hardest. It makes sense: richer people can quarantine themselves and have access to the best medical care.

    (The coronavirus hasn’t run its full course anywhere, really, it seems. But news from places like Brazil and India – not to mention the U.S., the world’s richest nation – is worrying.)

  3. We have been largely complacent when faced with the possibility of another global pandemic, McMillen writes.

Some notable quotations (all emphasis mine)

  • From the end of the chapter on influenza:

    “The 1918 influenza was an event. Unlike malaria and tuberculosis – the perpetual pandemics – influenza comes and goes. In this way it is more like smallpox or plague. Of course these two diseases are no longer major global threats. Influenza is. When H5N1 appeared in humans in 1997 and the novel strain of H1N1 turned up in 2009, the world was reminded of the possibility of another 1918. It has not happened yet. We do not know when it will.

  • From the epilogue, in discussing the WHO’s “lackluster response” to Ebola:

    “…the WHO is, for better or worse, representative of a way of seeing things in the world of global health, and the leadership’s statement on lessons learned allows me to make a point: every single lesson it learned (or in one instance relearned) could have been gleaned from a look at the past. These lessons are not new; the history of epidemics and pandemics has been teaching them for centuries.”

Categories
Newley's Notes

NN229: Lola the Cheese-Stealing Husky

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, August 2. Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

👋 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.

Photo of the week, above: I love Hong Kong’s unique, and apparently disappearing, corner buildings, known for their rounded edges. I came across this one as the sun was going down and liked the lines and colors.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🤳 1) Microsoft was in advanced discussions to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations from China’s Bytedance, but in recent days has “paused negotiations,” my WSJ colleagues report, after President Trump’s statements that he wouldn’t support such a transaction. If a deal happened, Microsoft would get a massive and rapidly growing social media platform, while Bytedance would be able to exit a market where it faces a potential ban.

⚖️ 2) The chief executives from the “GAFA” tech powerhouses – Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon – faced a congressional antitrust hearing. The session “laid bare deep-rooted frustration with some of the country’s most successful companies, at a moment when Americans rely on them more than ever,” my WSJ colleague wrote. The Verge has videos and a blow-by-blow from the day.

🔍 3) And speaking of Google: The Markup studied more than 15,000 search queries on the service and discovered Google “devoted 41 percent of the first page of search results on mobile devices to its own properties and what it calls ‘direct answers,’ which are populated with information copied from other sources.”

🐦 4) Authorities arrested the alleged mastermind of the recent Twitter hack that compromised accounts from the likes of Joe Biden, Kanye West and Barack Obama: a 17-year-old in Tampa, Florida. Prosecutors say he used a spear phishing attack, tricking Twitter employees to turn over passwords by pretending to be a Twitter IT worker.

😔 5) RIP Wilford Brimley. The “portly actor with a walrus mustache who found his niche playing cantankerous coots in ‘Absence of Malice,’ ‘The Natural,’ ‘Cocoon’ and other films, died on Saturday at age 85,” the New York Times’s obit reads.

🌳 6) All the rage amid the pandemic: labyrinth making. “The labyrinth is a sure path for uncertain times,” Lars Howlett, who has a California-based labyrinth making business, tells Bloomberg CityLab. “It brings order out of a sense of chaos.”

💦 7) Here’s a look at the history of the popular Pocari Sweat sports drink, “Asia’s answer to Gatorade.” Yes, the “Sweat” refers to perspiration: it’s designed for maximum re-hydration during exercise.

🏆 ⚽ 8) My favorite Premier League team, Arsenal, came from behind to beat Chelsea and win the FA Cup on Saturday! I suffered immense cognitive dissonance watching the staggeringly good Christian Pulisic (An American! With skill a Brazilian would be jealous of! At the age of just 21! As a standout player for Chelsea! Who then had to come off injured!) dance his way through our defense to score the opener. But Arsenal rallied thanks mostly the the phenomenal Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front and the unflappable Dani Ceballos in midfield. Onward, manager Mikel Arteta!

🏍 9) Here’s a fun video about motorbike riders in Indonesia who take pride in modifying Vespas in creative ways. (Thanks, Dad!)

🧀 10) Dog-related video of the week: “This is Lola. She likes cheese.”

•••

📕 What I’m Reading

I continue to make my way through Evan Osnos’s 2014 book, “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China.” It is exceptional.

💡 Quote of the week:

“We make the moment as the moment is making us.” – Shinshu Roberts

•••

🤗 What’s new with you? Hit reply to send me tips, queries, random comments, and videos of dogs stealing bits of cheese.

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

Categories
Newley's Notes

NN228: Best Office Dog Ever

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, July 26. Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

👋 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.

Photo of the week, above: a watercolor I painted during a recent trip to the beach here in Hong Kong.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🛸 1) A secretive Pentagon program studying UFOs will in the next six months apparently make some of its findings public.

🚨 2) The Fairfax (Va.) County School Board voted to rename Springfield’s Robert E. Lee High School after John Lewis.

🦇 3) Covid–19-related story of the week: Has Southeast Asia largely been spared because similar viruses have been circulating for years, providing some innate immunity? (Thanks, Suzy!)

☀️ 4) Health-related story of the week: A new study shows that chemical ingredients used in many sunscreens show up in the blood “at concentrations far greater than the Food and Drug Administration’s safety threshold,” my WSJ colleague Jo Craven McGinty reports.

🎧 5) The New York Times is acquiring Serial Productions, the podcasting company that created “Serial,” aiming to “further the newspaper’s podcasting ambitions,” according to my WSJ colleague Benjamin Mullin.

🤑 6) Twitter is going to test some kind of subscription service.

🇫🇷 7) The city of Paris created a “cinema on the water,” a floating movie theater where viewers took in a film from boats on the Sein.

🛋 8) How “Gunsmoke” paved the way for ubiquitous grandma couches – you know, those velour sofas with repeating pastoral scenes. (Thanks, Anasuya!)

🌍 9) Zoom dot earth provides “near real-time satellite images” from around the world. Just search for a location or spin the globe and zoom in.

😂 10) Dog-related video of the week: “All offices should come with one of these.

•••

📕 What I’m Reading

I finished Jan Morris’s “Hong Kong” and have moved on to “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China,” Evan Osnos’s 2014 book.

💡 Quote of the week:

“He who fears death will never do anything worth of a man who is alive.” – Seneca

•••

🤗 What’s new with you? Hit reply to send me tips, queries, random comments, and videos of dogs boosting workers’ morale.

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

Categories
Newley's Notes

NN227: Blind pups jumping for joy

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, July 19. Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

👋 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.

Photo of the week, above: taken during a recent hike here in Hong Kong.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🔮 1) Longread of the week: “How Pandemics Wreak Havoc – and Open Minds,” by Lawrence Wright in the New Yorker. The piece’s subtitle: “The plague marked the end of the Middle Ages and the start of a great cultural renewal. Could the coronavirus, for all its destruction, offer a similar opportunity for radical change?

😷 + Bonus Covid–19-related WSJ link: “Face Masks Really Do Matter. The Scientific Evidence Is Growing.”

😔 2) RIP Rep. John Lewis: “Representative John Lewis, a son of sharecroppers and an apostle of nonviolence who was bloodied at Selma and across the Jim Crow South in the historic struggle for racial equality, and who then carried a mantle of moral authority into Congress, died on Friday. He was 80.”

🚨 3) Camouflage-adorned agents from Department of Homeland Security “rapid deployment teams” have been sweeping protesters off the streets of Portland, Oregon, sometimes ushering them into unmarked vans. "This is an attack on our democracy,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

🤑 4) Twitter suffered what is likely its worst hack ever: perpetrators took over prominent accounts, like those belonging to Barack Obama and Elon Musk, and posted messages related to a bitcoin scam.

🇨🇳 5) Shot: China and the U.S. are in a new cold war, despite hopes from some that tensions can be turned into a less potentially destructive “rivalry-partnership,” Niall Ferguson writes. “They know full well this is a Cold War,” he says of China, “because they started it.”

📱 6) Chaser: tech analyst Ben Thompson on “The TikTok War”: “… what makes TikTok so unique is that it is the culmination of two trends: one about humans and the Internet, and the other about China and ideology.”

🇮🇳 7) Google is investing $4.5 billion in Jio Platforms, the telco and digital services firm that’s part of the Reliance Industries conglomerate run by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani. Google follows investors like Facebook, Silver Lake, KKR, General Atlantic and more that are pouring cash into Jio, aiming for a piece of India’s burgeoning internet economy.

⛺ 8) Not new, but new to me: Steve Wallis, an affable guy in Alberta, Canada, has become a YouTube sensation thanks to his offbeat camping videos. I especially like his “stealth camping” trips.

👟 9) Just plain awesome: Wheelies parkour. (Via my pal Lee LeFever’s Ready for Rain newsletter, which I recommend highly.)

🐕 10) Dog-related video of the week: “Cute blind pup recognizing owner…Cutest thing I´ve ever seen.”

•••

📕 What I’m Reading

I’m almost finished with “Hong Kong,” a portrait of the city and its peoples by the great Jan Morris. It’s a bit dated now, having been written before the British handover in 1997, but clearly conveys the fascinating history of the place.

💡 Quote of the week:

"The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” – John Maxwell

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

Categories
Hong Kong Journalism Newley's Notes Tech

NN226: Scoop — WhatsApp, Tech Giants Stand Firm in Hong Kong

Sent as an email newsletter (sign up here) Thurs., July 9.

👋 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.

This week’s NN is late. I’d meant to send it Monday evening, but then this happened. See image above.

🚨 I got the exclusive that WhatsApp – quickly followed by Facebook, then Twitter and Google – was suspending its processing of requests for user data from Hong Kong.

WhatsApp and its tech peers were prompted to do so by China’s imposition here in the city of a wide-ranging new national security law.

I’m proud to say we had the news for our subscribers before anyone else, and it was followed by outlets around the world.

🗞 The story also ran on the front page of Tuesday’s WSJ:

🎧 I was on our The Journal podcast to talk about the story (listen here), and I was also on our Tech News Briefing show (listen here).

The Journal podcast

For more on China, Hong Kong, and the new law, read on…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🇨🇳 1) What’s Hong Kong’s new national security law all about? “Experts say its provisions fundamentally alter the legal landscape in Hong Kong, carving out space within the city’s Western-style rule-of-law system for mainland Chinese methods of enforcing Communist Party control,” my colleague Chun Han Wong reports.

⏲️ 2) Things are happening fast here in HK, my colleague Dan Strumpf wrote in a story out Wednesday about the inauguration of a new home for China’s security agents:

“First the construction signs went up, then a flagpole appeared and police officers started to swarm the streets. Within hours, a skyscraper hotel in a cozy neighborhood of bars, apartments and boutiques was transformed into something new: the headquarters of Beijing’s powerful new security agency for the city.”

🧙‍♂️ 3) And in non-China/Hong Kong news: “How J. K. Rowling Became Voldemort”:

“Younger Millennials – those born around 1990, the same time as Harry Potter’s lead actors Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson – feel just as strongly about transgender rights. To many of them, it is the social-justice cause, their generation’s revolutionary idea.”

✍️ 4) “In an era that fetishizes form,” Joyce Carol Oates “has become America’s preëminent fiction writer by doing everything you’re not supposed to do.”

🚷 5) A Japanese city has passed a draft ordinance aimed at stopping people from using their smartphones while walking.

💬 6) Social media first brought about “context collapse” (people talk to everyone all at once, rather than distinct people or groups), and now, writes Nicolas Carr, it has created something more serious: “content collapse.” “A presidential candidate’s policy announcement is given equal weight to a snapshot of your niece’s hamster and a video of the latest Kardashian contouring,” he says.

⏳ 7) Shot: “Back to the Future” was released 35 years ago last week. Here are 30 facts about the great film, one of which – you’re telling me they started filming with Eric Stoltz instead of Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly?! – I find mind-blowing.

🎹 8) Chaser: The Nostalgia Machine is a website where you enter a year, click a button, and jam to some sweet tunes from yesteryear.

✏️ 9) Gary Larson, creator of “The Far Side,” has started cartooning again (this time on a tablet).

🐶 10) Dog-related video of the week: You rang? (Thanks, Anasuya!)

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“If your choices are beautiful, so too will you be.” – Epictetus

•••

🤗 What’s new with you? Hit reply to send me tips, queries, random comments, and videos of adorably attentive pups.

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley