Newley's Notes

NN225: Pint-Sized Dogs Hauling Huge Sticks

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

๐Ÿ‘‹ 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:

๐Ÿ“ˆ 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.

๐Ÿฆ  2) The New York Times has an interactive showing how the coronavirus spread in the U.S.

๐Ÿ‘‰ 3) The last state flag in the U.S. to feature a Confederate emblem – Mississippi’s – has come down.

๐Ÿ’ฌ 4) How people of color, women and LGBTQ individuals are discriminated against in the tech sector.

๐Ÿ’ธ 5) Facebook has an advertising boycott on its hands.

๐Ÿ“ฑ 6) Republican politicians are increasingly joining a social network called Parler.

๐Ÿฆ… 7) Why can geese fly so high – as in, over Mt. Everest? They have lungs inherited from dinosaurs.

๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง 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.

๐ŸŽธ 9) The best books about Bob Dylan.

๐Ÿ‘ 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.


๐Ÿ’ก Quote of the week:

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


๐Ÿ‘Š Fist bump from Hong Kong,


Newley's Notes

NN224: Golden Retriever Zoomies

Sent as an email newsletter (sign up here) Sunday, June 21.

๐Ÿ‘‹ 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.

๐Ÿ“ธ Image of the week: โ†‘ Anasuya and I recently took the tram up to Victoria Peak, which offers this majestic view of Victoria Harbor and the cityโ€™s skyscrapers below.

๐Ÿ’ฏ I’ve been to the place a couple times before over the years. Some tourist sites get old after a while. This one never does.


Here are ten items worth your time this week:

๐Ÿฆ  1) Six months after the coronavirus began spreading around the world, it’s becoming clear how Covid–19 is transmitted. Infections donโ€™t seem to happen via surfaces or from quick encounters outside. Instead, they appear to be caused by close, prolonged interactions with infected people, my WSJ colleagues report.

โšก 2) “I am hard-pressed to identify any significant Trump decision during my White House tenure that wasnโ€™t driven by re-election calculations.” That’s just one of many memorable passages in an essay adapted from former U.S. ambassador to the U.N John Bolton’s new book.

โญ 3) PespiCo is retiring the Aunt Jemima brand, while Mars is changing Uncle Ben’s, examples of companies confronting systemic racism, my WSJ colleagues report.

๐Ÿ“† 4) Jelani Cobb, writing in the New Yorker, on the lesson of Juneteenth: “In honoring that moment, we should recognize a moral at the heart of that day in Galveston and in the entirety of American life: there is a vast chasm between the concept of freedom inscribed on paper and the reality of freedom in our lives.”

๐Ÿ‘‰ 5) The Washington Post has a map showing where Confederate monuments have been taken down in recent years, and where they remain.

๐Ÿ”ฎ 6) What if, instead of using Google – which is free, but makes money by selling ads based on data about you – you could pay for access to a search engine that runs no ads and collects no information about you? A Google veteran has started just that kind of company, a search service called Neeva.

๐ŸšŒ 7) In 1992, as readers of Jon Krakauer’s excellent book “Into The Wild” will recall, a young man named Chris McCandless died inside an abandoned bus in rural Alaska. This week authorities removed it, using a helicopter. The reason: Tourists trying to reach it kept dying, or requiring rescues.

๐Ÿ  8) Covid–19 shows why suburbs make good places to live, Ian Bogost writes in The Atlantic. “There was always comfort to be found in a big house on a plot of land thatโ€™s your own.”

๐ŸŽผ 9) Barcelonaโ€™s Liceu opera house can’t open for humans yet, so it’s playing a concert tomorrow (Monday) – for 2,292 plants. People won’t be allowed inside, but the event will be livestreamed.

๐Ÿ• 10) Dog-related video of the week – Question: What do you call a Golden Retriever doing a zoomie followed by a back-scratching slide down a grassy hill? Answer: awesome.


๐Ÿ’ก Quote of the week:

โ€œThe first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.โ€ – Richard Feynman


๐Ÿค— What’s new with you? Hit reply to send me tips, queries, random comments, and videos of silly Goldens.

๐Ÿ‘Š Fist bump from Hong Kong,


Newley's Notes

NN223: Howlin’ Huskies

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, June 14.

๐Ÿ‘‹ 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.

๐Ÿ’ฏ The weather has been gorgeous – okay: steamy, but gorgeous! – here in Hong Kong these last few days. Above is a photo I took from Central, in the middle of the city’s business district. How about that blue sky?


Here are ten items worth your time this week:

โ†’ 1) Confederate monuments in the U.S., controversial for decades, are now starting to fall. โ€œIt feels to me, with Confederate symbols, a bit like the gay marriage debate, where it seemed impossible, impossible, impossible, and then all of a sudden there was a huge shift in public opinion on it,โ€ Don Taylor, a Duke University professor of public policy, told my WSJ colleagues.

๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ 2) Here’s a comprehensive interactive feature from The New York Times showing how Black Lives Matter protests have spread from big U.S. cities to smaller towns across the country.

๐Ÿ“ 3) An unexpectedly popular online tool for organizing George Floyd protests and sharing resources: not Twitter or Facebook, but Google Docs.

๐Ÿ” 4) Peter Weinberg, a 49 year old living in Bethesda, Maryland, was misidentified as the guy who assaulted children putting up posters supporting the George Floyd protests. An online mob quickly came after him.

โœˆ๏ธ 5) The International Air Transport Association has a clickable world map showing the status of countries’ travel regulations.

๐ŸŒŠ 6) Kathy Sullivan, who in 1984 became the first American woman to walk in space, has achieved a new milestone. She’s now the first woman to visit the deepest known point in the ocean.

๐ŸŽป 7) Proof that there is virtually no content too niche to find an audience online: Musicians are posting on Instagram videos of themselves practicing their orchestal instruments – and drawing big audiences. Bonus points: the headline contains the word “bassoonfluencers.”

๐ŸŒ‰ 8) The Golden Gate bridge, thanks to wind passing through new railings, now makes an eerie humming sound that can be heard from some distance. A 1000% San Francisco story.

๐Ÿš˜ 9) Here’s a fun video review of a tiny, inexpensive Chinese electric car by an editor at car blog Jalopnik. Jason Torchinsky ordered (via Alibaba!) to his house in the U.S. what he says is the world’s cheapest EV. The Changli set him back around $1200, with batteries included, and includes a 1.1 horsepower motor. (Thanks, Mike S.!)

๐Ÿ• 10) Dog-related video of the week: Two beautiful, howling huskies who would like to go for a walk. “Wait for the raras.”


๐Ÿ’ก Quote of the week:

โ€œFinish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.โ€ – Ralph Waldo Emerson


๐Ÿ‘Š Fist bump from Hong Kong,


Newley's Notes

NN222: Looking Back at a Historic Week

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, June 7.

๐Ÿ‘‹ 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.

When the previous NN went out one week ago, protests over George Floyd’s death were only beginning to spread beyond Minneapolis.

๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ Now they are not just a national phenomenon. They’ve gone global, stretching from Europe to Australia.

There have been many peaceful protests in the U.S., in big cities and in small towns. There has also been some violence and looting.

And perhaps most telling, there have been more incidents of alleged police brutalityas a result of people protesting against police brutality.

President Trump’s forceful removal of peaceful protesters before he walked to a church to pose for photos Monday, it seems to me, could prove a defining moment.

While we’re still five months out from the presidential election, a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found two thirds of 1,062 adults surveyed said Trump has “mostly increased tensions” in the wake of Floyd’s death.

๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ If the election were held today, 50% of those surveyed said they’d vote for Former Vice President Joe Biden, compared to 43% for Trump.

Oh, and there’s also the Covid–19 pandemic, the severe economic challenges it has ushered in, and Hong Kong caught in the middle of China-U.S. tensions.

๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Speaking of Hong Kong: I had a story out Wednesday about a survey showing the vast majority of U.S. firms are concerned about China’s new national security laws for the city.

What will the coming months bring?

On to this week’s NN.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

๐Ÿ“น 1) How, exactly, did George Floyd die at the hands of Derek Chauvin? The New York Times has a chilling, illuminating recreation based on security camera footage and other sources. LINK

๐Ÿ”ฎ 2) Why has the Black Lives Matter movement coalesced with such force now? It’s had time to build steam following its emergence seven years ago; Floyd’s death was egregious; Covid–19 has highlighted racial disparities; and lockdowns mean people have been glued to their screens, The New York Times Magazine’s Jenna Wortham writes. LINK

โš ๏ธ 3) Journalists are getting hit by police violence. Online investigations outfit Bellingcat has noted more than 140 incidents so far. (My WSJ colleague Tyler Blint-Welsh said on Twitter NYPD officers struck him the face with their shields; he injured his ankle and his glasses were broken.) LINK

๐Ÿ—ฏ๏ธ 4) Additional criticism of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook for not taking action against Pres. Trump’s “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” post: more than 140 scientists who have received funds from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative sent Zuckerberg a letter saying misinformation and “divisive language” conflicts with their goal to improve the world. LINK

๐Ÿ–Š๏ธ 5) Former defense secretary Jim Mattis said President Trump is fanning the flames of division. "Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people – does not even pretend to try,โ€ Mattis said in a statement. LINK

๐Ÿ‘‰ 6) Joe Biden officially secured the Democratic nomination. LINK

๐Ÿ“Œ 7) The last person receiving a Civil War pension passed away at the age of 90 in Wilkesboro, N.C. LINK

๐Ÿ›ฐ๏ธ 8) Legendary German electronic band Kraftwerk played a show featuring a special guest: an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. LINK

๐ŸฆŠ 9) As they move from forests into the cities, rural red foxes in the U.K. appear to be…turning themselves into dog-like creatures (aka “self domesticating”). LINK

๐Ÿ• 10) Dog-related video of the week: “Shelter Dog Can’t Stop Jumping For Joy.” LINK.

๐Ÿ’ก Quote of the week:

โ€œWhenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?โ€ – Marcus Aurelius

๐Ÿ‘Š Fist bump from Hong Kong,


Newley's Notes

NN221: On Hong Kong, Singapore, and Covidโ€“19

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, May 31, 2020

๐Ÿ‘‹ 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.

Coronavirus Doesnโ€™t Have to Be So Deadly. Just Look at Hong Kong and Singapore.

๐Ÿ˜ท That’s the headline on a story out earlier this week that I wrote with my colleague Feliz Solomon.

It begins:

Hong Kong and Singapore reported their first cases of the novel coronavirus in January. Four months later, the densely packed Asian metropolises, with a combined population of about 13 million, have seen 27 fatalities between them.

Just 0.4% of those with confirmed infections have died in Hong Kong. In Singapore – less than 0.1%. If the U.S. had a similar fatality rate as the average of the two, its death toll would now stand at about 4,100, rather than 98,000 and growing.

โ€œWhen you overwhelm health systems a lot more people die,โ€ one Hong Kong-based doctor told me. Hong and Singapore “didnโ€™t let the epidemic run wild,” he said.

๐Ÿ”‘ The secret to their success, our reporting showed: wide testing, aggressive quarantining, and keeping infections away from older, more vulnerable people. Possible lessons for the future considering the pandemic could come back in waves.

On to this week’s NN.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

๐Ÿ’ฌ 1) Twitter shielded from public view a tweet from President Trump for violating its rules on glorifying violence. He called demonstrators clashing with police over the death of George Floyd “thugs” and said, โ€œWhen the looting starts, the shooting starts.โ€ By me and my colleague Andrew Restuccia: LINK

๐Ÿšจ 2) …Meanwhile unrest spread from Minneapolis to several cities: Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and many more. LINK

๐Ÿ“ˆ 3) Facebook largely shelved research showing its service exacerbates polarization, my colleagues Jeff Horwitz and Deepa Seetharaman reported in a page one story. LINK

โœจ 4) Discovery of the week: No big deal, just a Roman mosaic under a vineyard in Northern Italy that dates to around the 4th century. VIDEO

๐Ÿด 5) Will U.S. government experts overseeing dietary guidelines finally recognize the mountains of evidence showing the benefits of a low-carb diet? A committee will soon issue an advisory report on recommendations for the next five years. LINK

๐ŸŒŸ 6) Longread of the week: GQ on the brilliant actor Steve Buscemi, who among other travails lost his wife of more than three decades last year. (And yes, you’re saying his name wrong.) LINK

๐Ÿ˜Ž 7) Soviet-era control rooms: Who knew those analog dials and switches could be so beautiful? LINK

๐ŸŽง 8) Here are 150 educational podcasts, ranging from philosophy to art to history and more. LINK

๐Ÿ‘ƒ 9) Dog-related science story of the week: Specially trained pooches in Finland learned to detect the “previously unknown odor signature” of Covid–19 in urine samples from patients. LINK

๐ŸŽป 10) Dog-related video of the week: “Decided to play a tune to welcome a new pup and well, we think he liked it.” LINK

๐Ÿ’ก Quote of the week:

“Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him.” โ€” Epictetus

What’s new with you? Hit reply to send me tips, queries, random comments, and videos of dogs “singing” along with their violinist owners.

๐Ÿ‘Š Fist bump from Hong Kong,


Newley's Notes

NN220: New Hong Kong Protests; Service Dog Cuddles Donald Duck

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, May 24.

๐Ÿ‘‹ 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.

A Deeper Look at Mukesh Ambani’s Digital Vision

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ I’ve mentioned in previous editions of NN India’s Jio Platforms, the upstart mobile operator and digital services firm controlled by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani.

To recap: Jio has raised a ton of money recently from the likes of Facebook and other big American investors keen to get a piece of business in the world’s biggest untapped internet economy.

๐Ÿ†• On Wednesday I had a story out with a deeper look at Mr. Ambani’s vision, and why companies are plowing funds into Jio. The hedline: Inside Facebook and Private Equity’s $8.8 Billion Bet on India’s Richest Man.

Click through for details on how talks with Facebook came out, which executives were involved, and how Mr. Ambani has privately described his vision for Jio.

๐ŸŽง I joined my colleague Kateri Jochum to discuss the story on an episode of The WSJ’s Tech News Briefing podcast, which you can listen to here or in your favorite podcast app.

Oh, and an addendum: on Friday Jio said it is raising yet more money – a cool $1.5 billion – from U.S. private equity heavyweight KKR. That brings the total to more than $10 billion…

On to this week’s NN.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ 1) China on Thursday indicated it will implement new national security laws here in Hong Kong, which in a story my colleagues describe as “a blow to the territoryโ€™s autonomy as Beijing seeks to stamp out widespread pro-democracy protests that have challenged leader Xi Jinping.”

Some U.S. senators have pledged new rules that would target Chinese officials with sanctions. Beijing on Friday said it plans to allow mainland state security agencies to operate in HK. Markets in HK have fallen. And today there were fresh protests. LINK 1: new laws. LINK 2: security agencies. LINK 3: markets. LINK 4: fresh protests

๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ 2) Francis Fukuyama, in an essay out last week about China, writes: “The starting point is to recognize that we are dealing with an aspiring totalitarian country like the mid–20th century Soviet Union, and not with some kind of generic ‘authoritarian capitalist’ regime.” LINK

๐ŸŽฅ 3) Facebook acquired Giphy, the platform for making animated images, and will integrate the service into Instagram. Axios put the price at about $400 million. LINK

๐ŸŽ™๏ธ 4) Big news in the world of podcasting: comedian Joe Rogan, whose podcast is one of the world’s most popular, is joining Spotify in an exclusive deal, meaning his episodes eventually will be available only on their service. LINK

๐Ÿณ 5) Here’s an in-depth look at the cookbook author Alison Roman, her remarks about Marie Kondo and Chrissy Teigen, whiteness, and the popularization of “exotic” ingredients. LINK

๐Ÿƒโ€โ™‚๏ธ 6) Another good longread: On the legacy of Jim Fixx, who authored a mammoth 1977 bestseller that helped popularize recreational running – but who also battled inner demons before famously dying while out for a jog. LINK

๐Ÿง  7) How a graduate student solved a decades-old math problem in less than a week, helping gain a tenure track job offer at MIT just over a year after earning her doctorate. LINK

โ˜• 8) Twitter thread of funny images: “Angela Lansbury as teapots.” LINK

๐Ÿ“บ 9) If you enjoyed the Bookcase Credibility Twitter account, you may also like @RateMySkypeRoom. LINK

๐Ÿฆ† 10) Dog-related video of the week: A service dog meets Donald Duck.

๐Ÿ’ก Quote of the week:

“Life isnโ€™t about finding yourself or finding anything, life is about creating yourself.” – Bob Dylan

What’s new with you? Hit reply to send me tips, queries, random comments, and videos of good boys snuggling Disney characters.

๐Ÿ‘Š Fist bump from Hong Kong,


Newley's Notes

NN219: Will Covid-19 Kill Universities? Also: Hugs from Puppies

nighttime sky
Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, May 17.

๐Ÿ‘‹ 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.

A setback in Hong Kong’s Covid–19 Battle

๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Hong Kong almost made it to the 28-day milestone of two full quarantine periods without a new local Covid–19 case. But as my colleague Joyu Wang and I wrote Wednesday:

After 23 days without a locally transmitted coronavirus case and with much of the city returning to normal life, health officials here are investigating how a 66-year-old woman and her granddaughter tested positive.

The test results, announced Wednesday, illustrate the continuing challenges for authorities world-wide in eliminating the disease even in places that were successful with containment earlier on.

Still, of course, Hong Kong has recorded just over 1,000 Covid–19 infections and four deaths deaths. It remains a model for many places.

14 photos from our first few months here in HK

๐Ÿ“ท This city, as I wrote in a recent blog post, is a photographer’s dream. I’ve had my iPhone out, snapping away like crazy, during our first few months here. Yesterday I posted a round up of 14 of my favorite photos so far. Click through to check ’em out.

On to this week’s NN.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

๐ŸŽ“ 1) After years of talk about online education “disrupting” in-person universities, will Covid–19 hasten the end of such institutions? Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, thinks so. “There’s this horrific awakening being delivered via Zoom of just how substandard and overpriced education is at every level,” he says. He sees name brand universities partnering with big tech firms to expand their reach. MIT + Google? Microsoft + Berkeley? Link

๐ŸŒ 2) Bay Area tech titans like Facebook, Twitter and Google have told much of their staff they no longer need to come in to the office amid the pandemic. Faced with sky-high rents, some techies are considering leaving San Francisco altogether, Sarah Frier reports in Bloomberg Businessweeek. “It makes no sense paying Bay Area rent if we can earn our salary living elsewhere,” one worker told her. I’m fascinated to see how this all plays out, in SF and in other metropolises where living costs are astronomically high. Link

๐Ÿ” 3) Google is increasingly in the spotlight. There were two important WSJ stories out Friday about Google. First, on antitrust: the Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general are “likely to file antitrust lawsuits” and “well into planning for litigation,” says one scoop. The second is an in-depth investigation showing how people and firms are using dubious copyright complaints to scrub Google of unflattering but lawful material. Link 1 + Link 2

๐Ÿ›ธ 4) New details continue to emerge about Navy pilots reporting seeing unidentified aerial vehicles. The backstory: a December 2017 New York Times piece revealed a secret Defense Department program studying UFOs, while other subsequent stories have featured aviators speaking about their experiences. The Department of Defense has even officially released videos of the encounters. Link

๐Ÿคณ 5) Depressing story of the week: “mumfluencers” – Instagram micro-celebrities whose online personas revolve around their seemingly perfect families – and their meltdowns. Link

๐Ÿฅก 6) Art critic Jerry Saltz has a thought provoking essay about about food and coping mechanisms amid Covid–19. Link

๐ŸŽ๏ธ 7) With U.S. highways mostly empty as people stay at home, people are setting new records for the Cannonball Run, shaving hours off the drive from New York to California to make it in about 26 hours. File under: unexpected Covid–19 outcomes. Link

๐Ÿค™ 8) Nightclubs in Germany are closed, but party-goers created a unique solution: a drive-in rave. Video

๐ŸŒˆ ๐ŸŒˆ 9) RIP “Double Rainbow Guy,” aka Yosemitebear. Paul L. Vasquez, whose 2010 video became a viral hit, died at age 57. Link + Video

๐Ÿ’• 10) Dog-related video of the week: “When a dog loves a woman.” Video

๐Ÿ’ก Quote of the week:

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” – Blaise Pascal

๐Ÿ‘Š Fist bump from Hong Kong,


Newley's Notes

NN218: Good News Amid the Pandemic; Also: Dog Welcomes Owner Back from Hospital

Overhead view of pattern
Photo by Caroline Grondin on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, May 10, 2020.

๐Ÿ‘‹ Hi friends,

India’s Jio Raises Even More Money

๐Ÿ’ธ Remember a couple weeks ago when I wrote about India’s Jio – part of Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance empire – getting a big $5.7 billion investment from Facebook?

Well, Jio execs have continued to raise funds to try to trim the debt they’ve accrued building out their huge 4G network.

Over the last week the company raised $750 million and $1.5 billion from two private equity firms in the U.S., Silver Lake and Vista Equity.

These new investors are betting, like Facebook, that they can get a piece of a huge digital platform in India that is growing to comprise not just mobile connections, but music, video, payments, and even – as the Facebook deal to link up WhatsApp with grocery shops shows – e-commerce. (You can bet Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart have taken note.)

The bigger trend, which I’ve written about over the years: India’s internet economy is still poised for massive growth as hundreds of millions of people start to consume online. Global investors want a piece of that.

On to this week’s links, where we have – I am happy to say – GOOD NEWS. The Covid–19 situation remains, especially in the U.S., troubling. But there is positive news out there. Read on.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

๐Ÿ’ช 1) Some interesting new consumer technologies are emerging amid the pandemic, from realtime audio chat apps (Clubhouse) to a boom in video conferencing (Zoom, etc). But don’t forget that the key to all of this – the key to our connectivity – has withstood mammoth pressures: the internet. It’s kept running throughout. Thank god.

๐Ÿฆ™ 2) Maybe, just maybe, llamas can help us fight Covid–19.

๐Ÿšถโ€โ™€๏ธ 3) Seattle is permanently making about 20 miles of streets off-limits to most vehicle traffic, after earlier closing them down to let people walk and bike with sufficient physical distance. File under: how the coronavirus is changing cities.

๐ŸŽผ 4) More than 100 people from Juilliard’s community of students, alumni and artists, even while locked down, came together to create an online performance called “Bolero Juilliard”.

๐Ÿ‘ 5) An Adoption, a Pandemic and an Evacuation. That’s the headline on a powerful, beautifully written story about love and hope by The New York Times’s Maria Abi-Habib. If you read just one story this week, make it this one.

โ™Ÿ๏ธ 6) People stuck inside, combined with the suspension of sports, are powering a “modern chess boom,” my WSJ colleagues report. Among those getting in on the game are Arnold Schwarzenegger, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Joe Biden.

๐Ÿ˜Ž 7) People are creating cool online diversions. One I’ve been enjoying, given our locked-down world in which international travel is verboten: a website called Drive & Listen. Select a city to see video filmed while driving around in that location – while simultaneously hearing the sounds playing on local FM radio in real-time. Mesmerizing. I have grooved to Bob Marley on Melodia FM while virtually cruising around Barcelona, enjoyed some B–52s while taking a tour through sunny Los Angeles, and more. (Note: the website works better on desktop computers than on mobile devices.) BONUS LINK: Point-of-view video from a train zooming though Switzerland, with a techno music soundtrack.

๐Ÿ˜‚ 8) Shot: Comedy persists even amid the pandemic! Steve Carell is in a new Netflix sitcom called “Space Force,” and the trailer is excellent. It’s out May 29.

๐Ÿ“• 9) Chaser: And high brow humor, too! My new favorite Twitter account is Bookcase Credibility (@BCredibility), which analyzes the way books and bookshelves appear behind experts being interviewed over video.

๐Ÿ• 10) Dog-related video of the week: this pup’s owner was in the hospital for five weeks. When he returned, the dog didn’t recognize him…until he did.

๐Ÿ’ก Quote of the week:

“If youโ€™re efficient, youโ€™re doing it the wrong way. The right way is the hard way.” – Jerry Seinfeld.

๐Ÿ‘Š Fist bump from Hong Kong,


Newley's Notes

NN217: How Long will the Pandemic Last? Also: Vibin’ Shibas

mountains and nighttime sky
Photo by brandon siu on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, May 3, 2020.

๐Ÿ‘‹ 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.

๐Ÿ“ฌ Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

New podcast interview

๐Ÿฏ I was on Princeton University’s Policy Punchline podcast to talk all things tech in India with Tiger Gao, a Princeton junior.

The podcast series, if you’ve never heard it, features hour-long discussions with journalists, scholars, entrepreneurs and more on a variety of policy related issues. We recorded this episode before Facebook’s big $5.7 billion investment in Jio, which I mentioned in last week’s NN, but we touched on many related topics in this wide-ranging discussion. Thanks, Tiger and team, for having me on!

๐ŸŽง You can listen on Soundcloud here, or look up Policy Punchline in your podcast app of choice.

Pandemic reading and listening resources: a follow up to a follow up

๐Ÿ“– In NN 213 I mentioned some good books about pandemics, and reader James B. wrote in to share one I’d missed: “The Great Influenza,” about the illness that swept the world in 1918.

Thanks to another reader, Chris E., who tells me that the author of that book, John Barry, was recently on Peter Attia’s podcast. It’s a fascinating episode. (I like Attia’s podcast a lot, but hadn’t heard this episode. He’s a doctor who specializes in longevity, and often has very smart people on to talk about their fields of expertise.) Thanks, Chris. E.!

On to this week’s NN.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

โŒ› 1) How long will coronavirus pandemic last? Perhaps as long as two years, according to a new report from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. And the pandemic won’t be stopped until 60–70% of the world’s population is immune.

“The virus caught the global community off guard, and its future course is still highly unpredictable,” the authors write. (You can read the report here.)

๐Ÿ˜ท 2) Now that some lockdowns around the world are lifting, here’s a good question: should you wear a face mask when exercising outside? The answer: If you can bear it, it’s probably a good idea.

๐Ÿ”ป 3) Even as U.S. gross domestic product falls – with more contraction likely to come – tech giants’ stocks are climbing. “Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook now make up more than 20 percent of the value of the entire S&P 500 – a level thatโ€™s higher than it was even during the dot-com boom,” the New York Times reports. Why? They have a ton of cash on hand, and are more reliant on digital operations than physical ones.

๐Ÿฆ  4) Here’s a graphical guide to the more than 90 vaccines being developed to fight SARS-CoV–2.

๐Ÿ˜• 5) Here’s a good overview of why the pandemic can feel so confusing, ranging from factors like the virus and the disease to research and messaging.

๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ 6) The British Museum has put more than 1.9 million photos from its collection online. View the images here.

๐Ÿ’ฌ 7) On his 68th birthday, tech author and all-around big picture thinker Kevin Kelly provides “68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice.”

๐Ÿ’„ 8) Who needs makeup when you’ve got Snapchat and Instagram filters?

๐Ÿ• 9) Indian street dogs seem to be becoming popular pets in India’s tech hub of Bangalore. Many of the dogs shown in that piece look just like Ginger.

๐ŸŽต 10) Dog-related video of the week: “straight vibinโ€™ #shiba.” [TikTok/@paula_the_koala]

๐Ÿ’ก Quote of the week:

โ€œTime misspent in youth is sometimes all the freedom one ever has.โ€ – Anita Brookner

๐Ÿ‘Š Fist bump from Hong Kong,


Newley's Notes

NN216: Facebook Bets $5.7 Billion on India; Dogs on Diving Boards

Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday, April 26, 2020.

๐Ÿ‘‹ 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.

๐Ÿ“ฌ Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

A big – and, for once, non-coronavirus related – story for this week on my radar: Facebook and India.

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ Faithful NN readers may recall that two years ago I wrote a page one story that began: “Indiaโ€™s richest man is catapulting hundreds of millions of poor people straight into the mobile internet age.”

The billionaire: Mukesh Ambani. His company: Reliance Jio. The product: inexpensive 4G mobile access, which had been nonexistent before.

Jio has continued to grow since that piece came out, unveiling new products aimed at consumers in rural India, where most of the country’s population lives.

๐Ÿ†• On Wednesday news emerged that another very rich man – Mark Zuckerberg – was plowing $5.7 billion into Ambani’s firm.

My colleague and I called it, in our story about the deal, “a massive expansion of the social media giantโ€™s commitment to a promising market where it has faced difficulties.”

About those difficulties: Facebook suffered a high profile setback when its Free Basics campaign was shut down on net neutrality grounds in 2016. And Facebook’s WhatsApp – which has a mammoth 400 million users in India – has been waiting for more than two years for permission to completely roll out its digital payments service.

In a subsequent piece, also out Wednesday, I wrote that the deal “could create a new kind of animal in the worldโ€™s biggest untapped digital market: a social media behemoth wedded to a mobile infrastructure titan – both coveting e-commerce.”

๐Ÿค” How would Facebook and Jio work together? One example the companies gave is that WhatsApp users could tap into the platform to buy items from neighborhood mom and pop shops, which Jio has been connecting via point of service machines. Other potential collaborations are less clear.

So: Facebook/WhatsApp gets to use Jio’s on-the-ground presence in rural India, access to its expertise in tapping the roughly half a billion people who have still yet to get online in the country, and partners with an Indian billionaire in a place it has faced regulatory hurdles.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Jio gets a big cash infusion, and perhaps tie-ins with WhatsApp to expand its e-commerce projects.

Will it work? As they say, stay tuned.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

๐Ÿฆ  1) When should U.S. states begin to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? New projections provide a simple answer: The earlier they locked down, the earlier they can safely resume normal life. And yet Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee – not among those states that acted quickly to enact restrictions – plan to ease lockdowns as early as this week.

๐Ÿงช 2) Bill Gates says the coronavirus pandemic will produce massive global innovation, just like World War II did. Think treatments, vaccines, testing, contact tracing. “Melinda and I grew up learning that World War II was the defining moment of our parentsโ€™ generation,” he writes. “In a similar way, the COVID–19 pandemic – the first modern pandemic – will define this era.”

๐ŸŒ† 3) Will major cities still be worth living in after the coronavirus? Some people who can afford to are accelerating their plans to leave New York City, a WSJ colleague reports. โ€œThis could go on for six months, 12 months,“ said one resident who is ditching Manhattan. ”And who knows what the city could look like after.โ€

๐Ÿ–Œ๏ธ 4) The coronavirus pandemic will inspire a lot of art. What kinds of themes will writers and directors explore? Think economic inequality and marginalized communities, death’s inevitability – and perhaps the end of the superhero.

๐Ÿ’ป 5) One unexpected result of the pandemic: Zoom is giving us new glimpses into our colleagues’ lives. We should just roll with it, The New Yorker’s Naomi Fry writes.

๐Ÿ†’ 6) And speaking of Zoom: With so many people stuck at home, folks have been creating fun backgrounds for videocalls. There’s ZoomerBackgrounds (my fave is “guy looking back at me”, aka the Distracted Boyfriend meme), and even is getting in on the act (I’m partial to Tatooine). There are some good ones from The Met museum, as well.

โณ 7) Former Wall Street Journal global economics editor Neil King says a cancer diagnosis in past years has prepared him for the coronavirus. “I have seen the beauty of life on the six-month plan, which goes something like this: Be confident in the span you know you have; extract from it all you can; look no further,” he writes.

โœˆ๏ธ 8) A family in Australia had their trip to Europe cancelled by the coronavirus. But they decided to simulate the 15-hour flight…from the comfort of their living room. They “screened” their luggage and even ate “in-flight” meals.

๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต 9) Here’s an interesting travelogue from an eight day walk along the eastern coast of Japan’s Kii Peninsula.

๐Ÿ• 10) Dog video of the week: Doggoโ€™s just trying to help.

๐Ÿ’ก Quote of the week:

โ€œWe learn from history that we do not learn from history.โ€ – Georg Hegel.

๐Ÿ‘Š Fist bump from Hong Kong,