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Newley's Notes

NN235: Golden Retriever Snuggles

Shiba inu in a raincoat

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, October 4. 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: Out and about in rainy Hong Kong.

Yes, that’s what appeared to be a shiba inu clad in a red raincoat and boots. (Unclear if it was one of the two I spotted a few weeks back, dining with their owners.)

Hashtag: #ShibaLife.

✍️ In other news: The headline on my latest story, out Thursday with my colleague Natasha Khan: Hong Kong’s Leader Says Stability Has Been Restored, With City Under Heavy Police Presence.

The lede:

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said stability had been restored in Hong Kong three months after Beijing imposed national-security legislation, as thousands of police officers fanned out to pre-empt any protests that might disrupt Thursday’s celebration of China’s National Day.

And:

“Stable and happy is what the Hong Kong government imagines us to be,” said a man in his 20s who identified himself as Mr. Wong, standing near police officers in a shopping district where some demonstrators had appeared. “But we are still so angry.” He said Mrs. Lam only wants what China’s Communist Party wants, not the city’s people.

🚨 Administrative note: There will be no NN next week. I’ll be back the week of October 18.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🇺🇸 1) What a week for news. First up, there’s one story dominating headlines these last few days: President Trump has Covid–19.

The latest from my WSJ colleagues Catherine Lucey and Rebecca Ballhaus yesterday (Saturday):

“President Trump had a fever and rapidly dropping blood-oxygen levels on Friday morning, but his condition has since improved, the White House chief of staff said late Saturday…”

Related reads:

👉 My colleague Andrew Restuccia reports on what working conditions have been like inside the White House:

“The president’s attitude about the virus is reflected in the culture at the White House and his re-election campaign, where few staffers regularly wear masks and there is little social distancing, according to people familiar with the matter.”

⏳ And the Washington Post has the ticktock, beginning last weekend with a White House Rose Garden ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee:

"Spirits were high. Finally, Trump was steering the national discussion away from the coronavirus pandemic — which had already killed more than 200,000 people in the United States and was still raging — to more favorable terrain, a possible conservative realignment of the Supreme Court.

Attendees were so confident that the contagion would not invade their seemingly safe space at the White House that, according to Jenkins, after guests tested negative that day they were instructed they no longer needed to cover their faces."

💰 2) And another big news item this week: The New York Times reported that in 2016 and 2017 Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes. “His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes,” wrote Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire.

🗣 3) And there’s been more news this week, of course: the Trump-Biden debate. “This was maybe the worst presidential debate in American history,” NPR’s Domenico Montanaro wrote. “Trump doesn’t play by anyone’s rules, even those he’s agreed to beforehand. He’s prided himself on that. But even by his standards, what Trump did Tuesday night crossed many lines.”

📺 PBS has a video re-cap of the event.

🇮🇹 4) Meanwhile, outside the Beltway: Italians have long been resistant to e-commerce, opting to pay cash and shop in actual stores. Then the pandemic hit. Amazon is capitalizing. Not everyone is happy about it.

☢ 5) Researchers are MIT and a sister company may be just three our four years away from completing the construction of what scientists have long dreamed of: a small nuclear fusion reactor. Testing would then be needed, but this kind of reactor, unlike a conventional fission one, could – repeat: could – produce electricity without as much radioactive waste.

👟 6) The latest trend in casual footwear is…the Grateful Dead. Recent collaborations include officially licensed tie-dyed Crocs and fake fur Nikes, my colleague Jacob Gallagher writes. Some are selling for more than $700 on resale websites.

🇪🇬 7) Egypt has just put on display 59 wooden sarcophagi – many painted, bearing hieroglyphics, and containing mummies – that are more than 2,500 years old.

🏃‍♂️ 8) 2020 has been a tough year, Hong Kong resident Iain Marlow writes for Bloomberg CityLab, but the place offers a special benefit even amid a pandemic: a vast network of trails for running and hiking. Marlowe has been putting them to good use, as have I.

🧠 9) Author Ryan Holiday shares a useful roundup of tips, tricks and advice: “33 Things I Stole From People Smarter Than Me.”

🐶 10) Dog-related video of the week: “I think I’ll just – plop

•••

📕 What I’m Reading

I finished Evan Osnos’s excellent “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China” – a Book Notes blog post is coming soon – and have moved on to something yet closer to home. I’ve just started Jeffrey Wasserstrom’s “Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink,” about the city’s protest movement.

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” – Philip K. Dick

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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Newley's Notes

NN234: Water dogs vs. herding dogs

mango mochi

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, September 27. 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 snack for the ages. Yes, that’s mango mochi – you read that right – a specialty on Cheung Chau, a small outlying island here in Hong Kong. And the answer is yes: mango mochi is every bit as tasty as it sounds.

Cheung Chau makes for a fun day trip or weekend getaway if you live, as we do, in a more bustling part of HK. (With the pandemic making travel difficult, I feel fortunate to be here, a city with many sights to see and countless hiking trails to explore, especially as we’re still new to the place.)

The island was once a simple fishing village but is now a popular tourist destination thanks to its beaches, seafood and street food (did I mention the mango mochi?), and growing numbers of boutiques. Its narrow streets can’t accommodate cars, so people get around on foot or bike.

📸 See my Instagram feed for a few images from a recent visit – there are short, easy hikes, beautifully maintained houses, a Taoist temple built in the 18th century, and the most diminutive ambulances you will ever see.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🦠 1) My colleagues Tim Martin and Dasl Yoon had a story out Friday about Covid–19 that’s worth a read. “South Korea appears to have cracked the code for managing the coronavirus,” they write. The country has blended “technology and testing like no other country, centralized control and communication—and a constant fear of failure.”

🇺🇸 2) Shot: Joe Biden leads President Trump 53 percent to 43 percent among registered voters in a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. Among likely voters, Biden leads 49 percent to 43 percent.

❓ 3) Chaser: Longread of the week. What happens if President Trump loses – or it’s a standoff like Bush vs. Gore in 2000 – and Trump doesn’t concede? The prospects are grim, Barton Gellman writes in The Atlantic. “We are not prepared for this at all,” Julian Zelizer, a historian at Prince­ton, is quoted as saying. “We talk about it, some worry about it, and we imagine what it would be. But few people have actual answers to what happens if the machinery of democracy is used to prevent a legitimate resolution to the election.”

📕 4) A lot of people, apparently, can’t stand Goodreads but its ubiquity makes it hard to escape. Can a new service called The Story Graph succeed where Goodreads has failed?

👷‍♂️ 5) Ask Reddit: “What’s an industry secret in the field you work in?”

🐕 6) Researchers in Finland have trained dogs to sniff out Covid–19, and the canines are now being deployed in a trial run at Helsinki airport to identify passengers who might be infected.

🔉 7) The BBC has released a collection of 16,000 sound effects, ranging from acetylene torches to yacht sounds, that are available for personal or educational purposes.

🔍 8) Newspaper Navigator is a cool new project that lets you search more that 1.5 million historic newspaper photos from 1900 through 1963. You can search by state, year, and keyword.

👏 9) The finalists for this year’s Comedy Wildlife Photography awards have been announced.

🐶 10) Dog-related video of the week: “A water dog and a herding dog run into a lake…”

•••

📺 What I’m watching

The Cohen Brothers’ movies are some of my favorite films of all time, but I had never seen their first, 1984’s “Blood Simple.” I recently decided it was time to give it a watch.

Right the beginning you can see in it what would become their hallmarks: Hitchcockian plot twists, dark humor, the themes of right and wrong, loyalty and betrayal, and the sense that in this world – or in Texas, in the case of this film – it’s everyone for himself or herself. Also features Frances McDormand in her cinematic debut, and it was Barry Sonnenfeld’s first cinematographic effort.

•••

💡 Quote of the week:
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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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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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
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

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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

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Newley's Notes

NN225: Pint-Sized Dogs Hauling Huge Sticks

Sent as an email newsletter (sign up here) Monday, June 29.

👋 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.

Chart of the week: The Covid–19 curve in the U.S…is not flattening. Source: the CDC. Read on…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

📈 1) Covid–19 cases are surging in the U.S. “Across the South and large parts of the West, cases are soaring, hospitalizations are spiking, and a greater portion of tests is coming back positive,” Robinson Meyer and Alexis Madrigal write in The Atlantic.

🦠 2) The New York Times has an interactive showing how the coronavirus spread in the U.S.

👉 3) The last state flag in the U.S. to feature a Confederate emblem – Mississippi’s – has come down.

💬 4) How people of color, women and LGBTQ individuals are discriminated against in the tech sector.

💸 5) Facebook has an advertising boycott on its hands.

📱 6) Republican politicians are increasingly joining a social network called Parler.

🦅 7) Why can geese fly so high – as in, over Mt. Everest? They have lungs inherited from dinosaurs.

🇬🇧 8) There’s more to the area around Stonehenge than meets the eye. As in, a bunch of shafts dug in the earth forming a circle about a mile in diameter. This is fascinating.

🎸 9) The best books about Bob Dylan.

👏 10) Dog-related video of the week: it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, as the saying goes. It’s the size of fight in the dog. Make way for the King.

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

"For superforecasters, beliefs are hypotheses to be tested, not treasures to be guarded.” – Philip Tetlock

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley