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NN205: Best Books I Read in 2019; Suleimani Longread; German Expressions; Jenga-Playing Dogs

Photo by Emerson Peters on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter Tues., January 7.

👋 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.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

🌟 Recently posted on Newley.com: The 10 Best Books I Read in 2019.

TLDR: My pics include books about tech giants such as Airbnb, Uber and Google; titles on economic development and Indian billionaires; a true spy story from the Cold War; and a sprinkling of classic fiction…

What memorable books did you read last year? Hit reply and let me know.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🔮 1) A 2013 longread that’s been doing the rounds given recent events: The Shadow Commander [The New Yorker)]

“Qassem Suleimani is the Iranian operative who has been reshaping the Middle East. Now he’s directing Assad’s war in Syria.”

🔎 2) ‘Shattered’: Inside the secret battle to save America’s undercover spies in the digital age [Yahoo News]

“The OPM hack was a watershed moment, ushering in an era when big data and other digital tools may render methods of traditional human intelligence gathering extinct, say former officials.”

🗑️ 3) The Global Garbage Economy Begins (and Ends) in This Senegalese Dump [The Nation]

“How Dakar’s trash depot became a battleground for Chinese industry, the World Bank, and Senegalese organized labor.”

⌨️ 4) The Strange Life and Mysterious Death of a Virtuoso Coder [Wired]

“Jerold Haas was on the brink of blockchain riches. Then his body was found in the woods of southern Ohio.”

🇲🇳 5) This dad took his son to Mongolia just to get him off his phone [BBC News]

“How do you get a teen to put down their phone and talk to you? Jamie Clarke went all the way to Mongolia to find out.”

⏳ 6) Aging-related chart of the week: how life satisfaction changes with age [Danny Blanchflower/Twitter]

“I have a new paper available on request showing that happiness is U-shaped in age minimizing at around age fifty in 132 countries – here it is for Europe from 1.2 million observations.”

⚡ 7) Amid shut-off woes, a beacon of energy [Washington Post]

“A Native American tribe has insulated itself from California’s blackouts by creating a microgrid utility.

🧠 8) For the New Year, Say No to Negativity [WSJ]

“By recognizing it and overriding our innate responses, we can break destructive patterns, make smarter decisions, see the world more realistically and also exploit the benefits of this bias. Bad is stronger than good, but good can prevail if we know what we’re up against.”

🇩🇪 9) The power of naming: 10 German Expressions that don’t exist in English and their Wisdom [Leo Widrich]

“In German, certain words exist that describe some of our human experiences so accurately and precisely that I’ve marveled at how much helps us to express ourselves.”

🐕 10) Dog-related video of the week: A Jenga-playing canine [Steve Stewart-Williams/Twitter]

“Holy crap, this is incredible: A dog playing Jenga. Turn-taking, fine motor control, apparent understanding of the aim of the game. I would not have guessed a dog could do this.”

💡 Quote of the week:

“If you have good habits, time becomes your ally. You just need to be patient. You just need to let that compounding process work for you. But if you have bad habits, time becomes your enemy.” – James Clear

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Newley

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Newley's Notes

NN202: Special Best-of-2019 Edition

2019

Sent as an email newsletter December 17.

👋 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.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

For this week’s NN, I’ve put together a special best-of-the best-of–2019 lists. Read on for a meta-guide to top picks for books, music, TV shows, movies and more!

But first: a couple of my stories to share from yesterday (Monday):

🍲 – From the world of tech and food: Uber Is in Talks to Sell Its India Food-Delivery Business to a Rival. Uber could sell to Zomato, according to people familiar with the matter. A deal could be announced as early as this week.

🇮🇳 – And second, from the wider world of India politics, a story yesterday with my colleague Krishna Pokharel: Protests Over India’s New Citizenship Law Widen <– Watch this space. It’s a developing situation.

On to this week’s end-of–2019-themed NN!

Here are ten* items worth your time this week:

* Actually, way more than ten this week! 🙂

📚 1) BEST BOOKS (nonfiction and fiction)

🎶 2) BEST MUSIC

🖌️ 3) BEST ART

📷 4) BEST PHOTOGRAPHY

🎥 5) BEST MOVIES

📺 6) BEST TV SHOWS

🍴 7) BEST FOOD

📱 8) BEST TECH

🎧 9) BEST PODCASTS

🐶 10) BEST DOGS!

💡 Quote of the week:

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” – Søren Kierkegaard

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Newley

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Journalism Newley's Notes

NN201: Newest Page One Story — Podcast Appearance — 1 Billion Surveillance Cams — Bonus Puppy Content

2019 12 04wsjpage1

Sent as an email newsletter December 9, 2019.

👋 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.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

Apologies for NN’s absence last week. After an enjoyable Thanksgiving…your faithful correspondent promptly fell ill. But I’m back now!

✍️ I’m proud to say I had another page one story (the second in a week’s time, following my piece on lending apps), this one out on Wednesday. The headline: U.S. Tech Giants Bet Big on India. Now It’s Changing the Rules.

And the first few grafs:

NEW DELHI – After Walmart Inc. sealed a $16 billion deal last year to buy India’s biggest domestic e-commerce startup, it got some bad news. India was changing its e-commerce regulations.

Foreign-owned online retailers would need to modify their supply chains and stop deep discounting. Those rules didn’t apply to Indian companies.

India, the world’s biggest untapped digital market, has suddenly become a much tougher slog for American and other international players.

It’s not just Walmart, but also the likes of Amazon, Google, and Facebook’s WhatsApp that are facing shifting regulatory sands.

Please give it a read.

📹 Meanwhile, my colleague Liza Lin and I had a story out Friday that has captured a lot of attention (it was even shared on Twitter by Marco Rubio. The headline: A World With a Billion Cameras Watching You Is Just Around the Corner. It begins:

As governments and companies invest more in security networks, hundreds of millions more surveillance cameras will be watching the world in 2021, mostly in China, according to a new report.

The report, from industry researcher IHS Markit, to be released Thursday, said the number of cameras used for surveillance would climb above 1 billion by the end of 2021. That would represent an almost 30% increase from the 770 million cameras today. China would continue to account for a little over half the total.

Fast-growing, populous nations such as India, Brazil and Indonesia would also help drive growth in the sector, the report said.

🎧 Other news: I was on the latest edition of the excellent Asia Matters podcast. In an episode called “What China’s ambitions tell us about tech in Asia,” I joined my ex-WSJ colleague Andrew Peaple and Julian Gewirtz of Harvard to share my perspective from India.

You can listen here, or search for “Asia Matters” on Spotify or in your favorite podcast app.

Okay – enough self-promotion. On to this week’s links…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

📈 1) Google Management Shuffle Points to Retreat From Alphabet Experiment [WSJ]

“Sundar Pichai’s appointment this week as chief executive of Google parent Alphabet Inc. effectively shifts the focus back on the company’s advertising profit machine and away from its “moonshots” and other potential new businesses.”

👓 2) Warby Parker Wants to Be the Warby Parker of Contacts [Bloomberg]

“At $440 for a year’s supply, the lenses will be slightly cheaper than many daily contacts but will be sold with what Warby says will be a much improved ordering process.”

⛺ 3) How Hipcamp Became the Airbnb of the Outdoors [New Yorker]

“Alyssa Ravasio, Hipcamp’s founder and C.E.O., is not a purist. For her, camping is a leisure activity, an escape valve, a business opportunity, a wealth-redistribution system, and a political strategy: an avenue to environmental awareness, engagement, even activism.”

🍎 4) Apple worth more than US stock index’s energy sector [Financial Times]

“Apple is now worth more than all large-cap US energy stocks put together.”

🧘 5) Buddhism scholars: Meditation apps are fueling tech addiction, not easing stress [Fast Company]

“…Buddhist apps, rather than curing the anxiety created by our smartphones, just make us more addicted to them and, in the end, even more stressed.”

🏎️ 6) These Guys Just Drove an E63 AMG Across America in a Record 27 Hours 25 Minutes [Road & Track]

“After leaving the Red Ball garage on the east side of Manhattan at 12:57 a.m. on November 10, it took Toman, Tabbutt and Chadwick 27 hours and 25 minutes to reach the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, in L.A.’s South Bay. In a car.”

💾 7) Version Museum [VersionMuseum]

“A visual history of your favorite technology.”

🗺️ 8) Map: The most common last name in every country [Reddit]

🏈 9) Sad/heartwarming dog-related story of the week: This college football player lost his parents before Senior Day, but he didn’t walk out alone [CBS News]

“A Michigan State University football player whose parents died before Senior Day walked out with his adopted dogs onto the field for the occasion.”

🐶 10) Dog-related video of the week: This is the most Indian photo bomb [Twitter: @Tim_Kimber]

💡 Quote of the week:

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” – Raymond Chandler

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Newley

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Newley's Notes

NN200: Elon’s Cybertruck Fail — Dems Get Facebook Guru — Delhi’s Jungle Prince — Puppies on the Prowl

2019 11 26fireworks

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter November 24, 2019

👋 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.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

Two. Hundred.

Two hundred!

🏆 This is the two hundredth edition of Newley’s notes. I can hardly believe it. The first one went out on February 15, 2015 – four years and nine months ago. As I described it then:

This is a regular email newsletter where I’ll share my stories, blog posts, and various links about technology,
journalism, culture and more.

The formatting has changed slightly, but NN is still pretty much that!

Thanks for reading, friends. I always relish your feedback, whether it’s just your latest news or suggestions on items to feature in upcoming editions.

On to this week’s links…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

⚾ 1) Tesla Unveiled a Bulletproof Pickup. Then the Window Broke [WSJ]

“But when it came to demonstrating the Cybertruck’s toughness, things went ominously off script. Mr. Musk asked his head of design to throw a small metal ball at the vehicle’s side window. The resulting crack of the window surprised the audience, including Mr. Musk. ‘Oh my f-ing god,’ Tesla’s chief said. ‘Maybe that was a little too hard.’”

🤔 Related, speculative Twitter thread: “Have you noticed that Elon Musk is driving development of at least 4 technologies needed for easier living in a failed state?” [@futurepundit]

🧙‍♂️ 2) How a Facebook Employee Helped Trump Win – But Switched Sides for 2020 [WSJ]

“After the 2016 presidential election, Republican Party officials credited Facebook Inc. with helping Donald Trump win the White House. One senior official singled out a then–28-year-old Facebook employee embedded with the Trump campaign, calling him an ‘MVP.’ Now that key player is working for the other side…

👑 3) India-related longread of the week: The Jungle Prince of Delhi [New York Times]

“For 40 years, journalists chronicled the eccentric royal family of Oudh, deposed aristocrats who lived in a ruined palace in the Indian capital. It was a tragic, astonishing story. But was it true?

📹 4) This Japanese hotel room costs $1 a night. The catch? You have to livestream your stay [CNN]

“And while the $1 rooms are clearly a loss leader, Inoue is thinking beyond the cost of a single night’s stay. The YouTube channel has already passed 1,000 subscribers. Once it accumulates more than 4,000 view hours, he will be able to put ads on the channel and monetize it.”

☎️ 5) Dial Up! How the Hmong diaspora uses the world’s most boring technology to make something weird and wonderful [The Verge]

“The shows weren’t the traditional kinds you’d find by tuning to an AM or FM band; they were operated independently from media companies by ordinary Hmong citizens, aired live all-day, every day and were free to call into for as long as you’d like. They used free conference call software to do it, a network that is still in place to this day.”

🌐 6) Firefox’s fight for the future of the web [The Guardian]

“In the early days, we thought all companies and social networks cared about us and cared for us…And increasingly it has become clear that, no, you need someone looking out for you.”

🔱 7) Exclusive: This 7,000-year-old woman was among Sweden’s last hunter-gatherers [National Geographic]

“Her real name was likely last uttered some 7,000 years ago in the fertile marshes and forests of what is now southwest Sweden. But while that name is forgotten to history, a team led by archaeologist and artist Oscar Nilsson was able to breathe life into her remarkable burial with a reconstruction that will be unveiled at Sweden’s Trelleborg Museum on November 17.”

🎧 8) An Oral History of LimeWire: The Little App That Changed the Music Industry Forever [Mel Magazine]

“LimeWire was by no means an overnight success. But with a team of dedicated engineers, the software slowly grew into a file-sharing behemoth.”

🐎 9) A thread of rating every horse emoji: [Jelena Woehr/Horse Girl Autumn on Twitter]

🏃‍♂️ 10) Dog-related video of the week: run for ur lives! [Reddit/aww]

💡 Quote of the week:

“The true price of anything you do is the amount of time you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

What’s new with you? Hit reply to share your news or just say hi.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Newley

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Newley's Notes

NN199: Google in the Spotlight; Hong Kong Twitter Tips; Busting ‘Ballers’ on Insta; Playful Puppies

Google

Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

👋 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.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

💕 We just celebrated our second anniversary with Ginger! I posted a few recent pics – and a special video showing her patented Ginger Pounce ™️ in action – in this blog post:

Two Years with Our Adopted New Delhi Street Dog, Ginger

🇭🇰 ⚠️ Other news: Unrest in Hong Kong appears to be escalating. The latest today from my colleagues on the ground, out just now:

"Protesters shot a police officer in the leg with an arrow, started a large fire, and blocked a key tunnel, pushing back police firing water cannons and tear gas near a fortified university as tensions flared following one of the most violent weeks in more than five months of antigovernment protests.

Late Sunday, police warned protesters to evacuate the area around Hong Kong Polytechnic University immediately, after protesters vandalized facilities, threw bricks and hurled Molotov cocktails. ‘Police are now planning for the next round of operation,’ the police said in a statement."

🐦 Meanwhile, a friend is passing through Hong Kong on a trip now and I shared with him some journalists I recommend following on Twitter for real-time updates. Very much worth your time, if you’re on the platform and keen to know the latest:

On to this week’s links…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🔎 1) Shot: An important story by my colleagues based on more than 100 interviews and WSJ testing: How Google Interferes With Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results [WSJ]

“Over time, Google has increasingly re-engineered and interfered with search results to a far greater degree than the company and its executives have acknowledged, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.”

💊 2) …and chaser: Google’s ‘Project Nightingale’ Gathers Personal Health Data on Millions of Americans [WSJ]

“Google is engaged with one of the U.S.’s largest health-care systems on a project to collect and crunch the detailed personal-health information of millions of people across 21 states.”

🇨🇳 3) ‘Absolutely No Mercy’: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims [New York Times]

“More than 400 pages of internal Chinese documents provide an unprecedented inside look at the crackdown on ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region.”

🗳️ 4) Why the Impeachment Fight Is Even Scarier Than You Think [Politico Magazine]

“Political scientists have a term for what the United States is witnessing right now. It’s called ‘regime cleavage,’ a division within the population marked by conflict about the foundations of the governing system itself – in the American case, our constitutional democracy. In societies facing a regime cleavage, a growing number of citizens and officials believe that norms, institutions and laws may be ignored, subverted or replaced. ”

🆕 5) Moto Razr 2019 is official: A foldable smartphone with no display crease [Ars Technica]

“One of the most iconic flip phones ever is rebooted as a $1,500 foldable smartphone. ”

🔮 6) The Myth and Magic of Generating New Ideas [New Yorker]

“A mathematician on how to get the mind into motion.”

💸 7) On the Internet, No One Knows You’re Not Rich. Except This Account [New York Times]

“In February, an Instagram account called @BallerBusters cropped up and began wreaking havoc on the flashy Instagram entrepreneur community.”

📦 8) The everything town in the middle of nowhere [Wired]

“How the tiny town of Roundup, Montana, became a hub in Amazon’s supply chain”

🚃 9) I am railing: Sir Rod Stewart reveals his epic model railway city [BBC News]

“In between making music and playing live, Sir Rod has been working on a massive, intricate model of a US city for the past 23 years. He unveiled it as part of an interview with Railway Modeller magazine.”

🐶 10) Dog video of the week: My dad who didn’t want a dog right after my family got a new puppy [Reddit]

💡 Quote of the week:

“What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” – Gretchen Rubin (Thanks, Anasuya!)

What’s new with you? Hit reply to share your news or just say hi.

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,

Newley