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Newley's Notes

NN258: Confident Canines

Hong Kong license plate: sadness

Sent as an email newsletter April 11, 2021. Join my email list to get future editions.

👋 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.

Image of the week, above: a personalized license plate spotted here in Hong Kong.

😔 Insert “mood: 2021” joke here.

(Once again, kudos to Anasuya for the snapshot!) Pair with: “No drama,” spotted last year.

Here are 10 items worth your time this week:

1) 📦 “Amazon employees in Alabama voted not to unionize, handing the tech giant a victory in its biggest battle yet against labor-organizing efforts that fueled national debate over working conditions at one of the nation’s largest employers,” my colleague Sebastian Herrera reports.

2) 🧠 How will we remember the pandemic? Through anecdotes and stories, writes Melissa Fay Greene at The Atlantic. “The process of crafting these stories will help determine our resilience and well-being. How we tell our stories can transform how we move forward from hard times.”

3) 🇬🇧 Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, died at age 99. They were married for 73 years.

4) 💰 China has created its own digital currency, a “a re-imagination of money that could shake a pillar of American power.” Fascinating story by my colleague James T. Areddy.

5) 🌏 The U.S. National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2040 report, released every four years, is out. Institutions may face “cascading global challenges,” such as “climate change, disease, financial crises and ever-advancing technology,” VOA reports.

6) 🧰 Data-driven WSJ deep dive: “Where Can You Find a New Job? Try These U.S. Cities.” Hint: Think “Silicon Slopes…”

7) 🧙‍♂️ A made-for-TV film based on Tolkien’s “The Fellowship of the Ring,” released in the Soviet Union in 1991, was long forgotten. Now it’s enjoying a new life on YouTube.

8) 🎧 Podcast of the week: Economist Tyler Cowen speaks with poet – and former General Foods executive – Dana Gioia on topics ranging from Jell-O marketing techniques to poetry, art, literature, Catholicism – and that sandbox in Brian Wilson’s house.

9) 🤑 Longread of the week, in Bloomberg Businessweek: “Bill Hwang Had $20 Billion, Then Lost It All in Two Days.

10) 🌋 Mesmerizing timelapse video of the week: 18 days of Icelandic volcano eruptions packed into 5 minutes.

•••

🦴 Dog-related video of the week: “This Is Called Trust.”

•••

📖 What I’ve been reading:

After reading Steven Pressfield’s excellent “The War of Art,” I turned to a journalistic classic: Janet Malcolm’s 1990 book “The Journalist and the Murderer,” which was originally serialized in the New Yorker.

It’s about a fraud lawsuit Jeffrey MacDonald – who was convicted of murdering his wife and children – brought against Joe McGinniss, who wrote a bestselling book about the case, “Fatal Vision.” Malcolm – who was herself sued by the subject of a profile – explores topics such as journalistic ethics, psychology, and truth. Highly recommended.

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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Newley's Notes

NN257: Microphone-Munching Mongrels

KitKat pop-up in HK

KitKat pop-up in HK

Sent as an email newsletter April 5, 2021. Enter your email address to get future editions.

👋 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.

🐰 I hope you had a restful Easter, friends.

🍫 Image of the week, above, amid a chocolate-centric holiday: There is a new KitKat popup store here in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay shopping district.

Special “limited edition” flavors for sale include matcha, ruby chocolate, and yuzu. Open until May 2. Find more info here. (Well spotted and photographed, Anasuya!)

Here are 10 items worth your time this week:

1) 🗞 My latest, an exclusive that went online Friday and was in Saturday’s print WSJ: Facebook Staff Fret Over China’s Ads Portraying Happy Muslims in Xinjiang. The story begins:

HONG KONG – Facebook Inc. is blocked in China, but Beijing is a big user of the platform to spread its political views to hundreds of millions of people overseas, sometimes via advertisements.

Now, some Facebook staff are raising concerns on internal message boards and in other employee discussions that the company is being used as a conduit for state propaganda, highlighting sponsored posts from Chinese organizations that purport to show Muslim ethnic minority Uyghurs thriving in China’s Xinjiang region, according to people familiar with the matter.

🧵 I wrote more in this Twitter thread.

2) ✈️ People in America are traveling again as the vaccine roll-out continues. On Friday the TSA screened the highest number of people – more than 1.5 million – since the Covid–19 pandemic began.

3) 🔍 Video cameras, facial recognition, license plate readers, cell tower records: “How America’s surveillance networks helped the FBI catch the Capitol mob.”

4) 🏠 U.S. housing boom 2.0? "Limited housing supply, low rates, a global reach for yield, and what we’re calling the institutionalization of real-estate investors has set the stage for another speculative investor-driven home price bubble.” Smart story by my colleague Ryan Dezember.

5) 🪙 Two fascinating archeology stories caught my eye this week. The first: Arabian coins from the 17th century found in New England could provide a hint as to the fate of pirate Henry Every.

6) 🦜 …and the second: mummified parrots found in Chile show how people during the 12th and 15th centuries ferried goods – via llama – from the Amazon jungle through the Andes to the Atacama Desert.

7) 🎧 Hua Hsu in the New Yorker on the growing popularity of podcasts by professional athletes: “If athlete-driven podcasts were once shoestring affairs, they’ve now been absorbed into the sports-media economy.”

8) ❓Reddit thread full of interesting tips: “What is the most effective psychological ‘trick’ you use?”

9) 🏀 Buzzer-beater of the week: Jalen Suggs’s bank shot from just inside mid-court, sending Gonzaga past UCLA and into the NCAA final.

10) 🛰 See a satellite tonight: “No telescope required. Click to search for viewing times at your location.”

•••

🦴 Dog-related video of the week: “A dog in Russia grabbed the reporter’s microphone and ran away during a live broadcast.” (Bonus, related video: “Interviewing Pets With a Mini Microphone Compilation.”)

•••

📖 What I’ve been reading:

I finished Yuval Noah Harari’s “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow” and then turned to the Steven Pressfield classic “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles,” which I enjoyed. Searching for my next nonfiction read…

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“The happiness of those who want to be popular depends on others; the happiness of those who seek pleasure fluctuates with moods outside their control; but the happiness of the wise grows out of their own free acts.” – Marcus Aurelius

•••

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

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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NN256: Savvy Street Dogs

Sichuan soup

Sent as an email newsletter March 29, 2021. Sign up to receive future dispatches in your inbox.

👋 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.

🥢 Image of the week, above: a delectable Sichuan soup we had with a friend on Saturday. I’d never had it before. It’s called suan cai yu and it is fantastic: poached fish, pickled greens, and chilis. More on the dish is here.

Here are 10 items worth your time this week:

1) 🚢 A massive, 1,300-foot container ship got stuck in the Suez Canal, snarling global shipping traffic. Here’s a high-res image taken from space.

👉 The incident has spawned many, many jokes. There’s IsTheShipStillStuck dot com, for all the latest news. There’s a parody dating app (“Meet other singles stuck in the Suez Canal”). And there’s even a website that lets you drag the ship to different locations on a global map.

🚨 Oh, and the very latest: The ship now appears to be nearly free.

2) 🦠 Good news on the vaccine front from the U.S.: more doses are on the way. Manufacturers have been boosting production; one estimate says they’ll hit 132 million doses in March, up from fewer than 50 million last month, my colleague Peter Loftus reports.

3) 💉 Speaking of vaccines: Hong Kong in recent weeks began offering shots to people over the age of 30 – and also suffered a new cluster of infections, requiring some people to quarantine in government facilities. For a description of what it’s all been like, read this essay by Ben Kostrzewa, a trade attorney here in the city, featuring some striking images of his lodgings: “From Quarantine to Vaccine in a Week.”

4) 💻 File under “effects of the pandemic”: overwork. “Employees say work-life boundaries blurred, then vanished,” my colleague Chip Cutter reports, “as waking life came to mean ‘always on’ at work.”

5) 🇨🇳 In geopolitical takes: When it comes to Taiwan, historian and author Niall Ferguson sees only trouble ahead for the U.S. and China. “While America’s multitasking foxes have been adding to their laundry list of grievances, the Chinese hedgehog has steadily been building its capacity to take over Taiwan,” he writes.

6) 🏀 Longread of the week: “Kobe Bryant’s Tragic Flight,” by Jeff Wise in Vanity Fair.

7) 🎨 You can now search more than 480,000 of the Louvre’s works via the museum’s website.

8) 🐳 Sign of the apocalypse, 2021 edition: “Humpback whales are organizing in huge numbers, and no one knows why.”

9) 🦐 Sentence of the week, continuing the maritime theme: “This is not General Mills’ first shrimp rodeo.”

10) 🦄 Feel-good dog-related story of the week, from Kenansville, North Carolina: Sisu (who kind of looks like our Ginger) finally got his purple unicorn toy. (Thanks, PB!)

•••

🦴 Dog-related video of the week: “Two strong independent Doggos who don’t need no Hooman for backrubs.”

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“The secret of happiness is something to do. — John Burroughs

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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Newley's Notes

NN255: Office pups transporting pens

Sent as an email newsletter March 21, 2021. Sign up to receive future dispatches in your inbox.

👋 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.

🍫 Image of the week, above: Yes, that is a gin and tonic-flavored Easter egg I spotted in a Marks and Spencer grocery store here in Hong Kong. It’s a new product, apparently. The Easter confection 2021 demands!

My latest at Newley.com

🐦 I mentioned, in NN249 last month, that we’d recently been on a birding trip here in Hong Kong. I have more details in a just-published blog post: Birdwatching in Hong Kong’s Mai Po Nature Reserve.

Here are 10 items worth your time this week:

1) 👉 A man killed eight people in three spas in the Atlanta area Tuesday, including six women of Asian descent. The shootings have mobilized “Asian-Americans who have seen their communities victimized by hate crimes over the past year, even if police haven’t determined whether the shooting belongs in that category,” my colleagues Valerie Bauerlein, Esther Fung and Cameron McWhirter report.

2) 🎬 Oscar nominations are out. “Mank” – a black and white Netflix film, starring Gary Oldman, about Herman J. Mankiewicz and the filming of “Citizen Kane” (trailer here) – got ten. Last year was, as the AP put it, “a pandemic year that shuttered movie theaters and upended the movie business.”

3) 🌁 RIP Silicon Valley? Tim O’Reilly points out four challenges the region faces, beyond Covid–19: the life sciences revolution, looming tech regulation, climate change, and the “end of the betting economy.”

4) 🌏 Excellent piece by Anna Rasshivkina, Cengiz Yar and Devi Lockwood at Rest of World: “From a florist in Tehran to a chef in Bangkok, meet nine workers who turned their homes into makeshift offices during the pandemic.”

5) 📱 Ryan Mac and Craig Silverman, reporting for Buzzfeed News: “Facebook Is Building An Instagram For Kids Under The Age Of 13.”

6) 🤯 Astounding: Watch a TikToker make an elaborate video in mere seconds.

7) 🎵 What’s going on with musical genres? “As record stores close and streaming algorithms dominate, the identities that music fandom supplies are in flux,” Amanda Petrusich writes in the New Yorker.

8) 💻 Tool of the week: Zoom Escaper, which lets you “escape Zoom meetings and other videoconferencing scenarios” by allowing you to “self-sabotage your audio stream, making your presence unbearable to others.”

9) 👏 The award for walrus impression of the week goes to the guy interviewed at the beginning of this RTE News report.

10) 👩‍🎨 Museo is a “visual search engine that connects you with the Art Institute of Chicago, the Rijksmuseum, the Harvard Art Museums, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the New York Public Library Digital Collection.” All images are in the public domain.

•••

🦴 Dog-related video of the week: “This is Minnie. She’s the Executive Pen Transporter for this office. As you can see, she takes her job very seriously. 13/10”

•••

📕 What I’m Reading

I’m still working my way through Yuval Noah Harari’s thought-provoking “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.”

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.” – Coco Chanel

•••

🤗 What’s new with you? Hit reply to send me tips, queries, random comments, and videos of dogs helping with office tasks.

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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Newley's Notes

NN254: Leaping Labradors

Sent as an email newsletter March 14, 2021. Sign up to receive future dispatches in your inbox.

👋 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.

Image of the week, above: “EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS,” by Beeple. (More on this below…)

🗞 My latest in The WSJ:

My newest story, out Wednesday with my colleague Drew FitzGerald:

Facebook Drops Plan to Run Fiber Cable to Hong Kong Amid U.S. Pressure. The story begins:

A Facebook Inc. consortium withdrew its bid to build a new internet conduit between California and Hong Kong after months of pressure from U.S. national-security officials, the latest sign of a deepening rift between the two governments.

Click through for more.

Here are 10 items worth your time this week:

1) 🎨 Art-meets-tech story of the week: Beeple – the digital artist I mentioned a couple weeks ago – sold an NFT of his work for $69 million in an auction at Christie’s. That’s the third highest price tag for any living artist’s work.

2) 💰 …Wait, sold a what? NFT stands for non-fungible token; it’s a kind of digital certificate of authenticity based on a blockchain. For an explanation, check out this episode of Planet Money’s Indicator podcast, and this episode of our Tech News Briefing podcast.

3) 📷 “More than 100 employees at security camera startup Verkada Inc. could peer through the cameras of its thousands of customers, including global corporations, schools and police departments, according to three former employees aware of the company’s security protocols,” Bloomberg News’s William Turton and Ryan Gallagher report.

4) 🇲🇽 Mexico is set to pass a bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, which would make it one of the world’s biggest regulated markets for the drug.

5) 🎵 RIP Lou Ottens, the Philips engineer who invented the cassette tape in the early 1960s. He was 94.

6) 🗺 From Singapore to Paris to the U.S. Virgin Islands, this New York Times interactive shows how people in global tourists destinations have been dealing with the pandemic, one year on.

7) 👏 Twenty-five-year-old Truman Cheng, a graduate student here in Hong Kong, successfully proposed a unique new Lego set: Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

8) 🐻 Sentence of the week, in Hollywood Reporter: “Universal is behind Cocaine Bear, which is based on an untitled spec written by Jimmy Warden, inspired by events that took place in Kentucky in 1985.”

9) 🗣 An excellent resource, with tons of links to new services and apps: “How to learn a language (and stick at it),” by University of Leeds lecturer John Gallagher.

10) 🎳 This is the coolest drone video shot inside a bowling alley that you will ever see. Here’s the backstory.

•••

🐶 Dog-related video of the week: A classic from 2014 that is worth revisiting. “Run Walter, RUN!!”

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“There is no better teacher than history in determining the future…There are answers worth billions of dollars in a $30 history book.” – Charles T. Munger

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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Newley's Notes

NN253: Snack-Savvy Shepherds

Sent as an email newsletter March 7, 2021. Sign up to receive future dispatches in your inbox.

👋 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.

🖌️ Image of the week, above: a recent weekend watercolor. As my dad always says: “Just let go and paint!”

My latest in The WSJ:

👉 I had an exclusive, out Friday, with my colleague Jeff Horwitz.

The headline: India Threatens Jail for Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter Employees.

The story begins:

“India’s government has threatened to jail employees of Facebook Inc., its WhatsApp unit and Twitter Inc. as it seeks to quash political protests and gain far-reaching powers over discourse on foreign-owned tech platforms, people familiar with the warnings say.”

Click through to read the rest.

Here are 10 items worth your time this week:

1) 🔍 “Google plans to stop selling ads based on individuals’ browsing across multiple websites,” my colleagues Sam Schechner and Keach Hagey, reported, “a change that could hasten upheaval in the digital advertising industry.”

2) 🚀 Nasa’s Perseverance rover has been sending back some incredible images from Mars.

3) 🍎 In Covid-hit New York, residents are showing their pride in the city, helping out the local economy, and making a fashion statement by purchasing merchandise from local businesses. Here’s a gallery.

4) 🎬 Golden Globes roundup: “Nomadland” and “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” won for best drama and best comedy, respectively. “The Crown” was a big winner of TV prizes.

5) ✉️ Tech-related longread of the week, from Cal Newport (whose books “Deep Work” and “Digital Minimalism” I recommend) in The New Yorker: “E-mail Is Making Us Miserable.” (Note: But not Newley’s Notes, right?!)

6) 💻 Zoom meetings wearing you out? Stanford researchers explain four reasons for the fatigue, and offer four ways to beat it.

7) 🤖 “The future is already here,” William Gibson once wrote. “It’s just not evenly distributed.” Case in point: Some U.S. states are passing laws that allow robots to be legal “pedestrians” on sidewalks.

8) File under: life in 2021. The $24.99 Fisher-Price My Home Office set comes with “a pretend laptop, 4 fabric apps to attach to the computer screen, a wood smartphone and headset for all those important business calls, and a to-go cup for kids to sip their favorite beverage.”

9) 🌏 Pretty cool: Disney’s newest animated film, “Raya and the Last Dragon,” just out, features Disney’s “first Southeast Asian heroine.” (Watch the trailer here.)

10) 🐀 Capybara-related video of the week: “When you try to eat the chillest animal on earth.” Best comment: “He’s so chill because he knows he’s too chunky to get eaten by that bird.”

•••

🐶 Dog-related video of the week: “i know a snack when i hear one.”

•••

📕 What I’m Reading

Having enjoyed Yuval Noah Harari’s 2014 book “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” (my book notes here), I’ve turned to his subsequent book, “Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.”

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all.” – Michelangelo

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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Newley's Notes

NN252: Goldens and Grannies

Sent as an email newsletter February 28, 2021. Sign up to receive future dispatches in your inbox.

👋 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, above: It seems hard to believe, but coronavirus infections in the U.S. are plummeting.

Dr. Marty Makary, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, writes in The WSJ that the decline is down to 1) increasing numbers of people having built up natural immunity because they were infected earlier, and 2) vaccines becoming widespread.

⭐ “At the current trajectory, I expect Covid will be mostly gone by April, allowing Americans to resume normal life,” Makary writes.

I hope he’s right.

💉 Meanwhile, the latest vaccine stats: about half of people in the U.S. who are over the age of 65 have gotten a vaccine, and almost 20% of the population overall has gotten a first dose.

My latest in The WSJ:

✍️ I had two stories out this week, both about tech in India.

🐦 The first is an analytical look at Twitter’s new challenges in India, where the San Francisco firm faced a standoff with New Delhi over Twitter accounts posting material critical of the government. India is Twitter’s fastest growing market, according to analysts, and yet it’s never had so stiff a test there.

🇮🇳 The second story is about sweeping new rules the government is imposing on the likes of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Netflix. The goal, authorities say: to make these U.S. tech titans accountable for problematic content in India.

👉 The big picture: the trend is clear. India continues to try to increase its control of Big Tech, a phenomenon I wrote about in a page one story in December 2019, when it was first emerging.

Here are 10 items worth your time this week:

1) 🇺🇸 For all of the potential good news about falling rates of infection – see above – the U.S. passed a sad milestone during a pandemic full of sad milestones: More than 500,000 people in America have now died from the coronavirus. Globally, more than 2.5 million have perished. Reuters has a graphic illustrating the scale of the death toll.

2) ✈️ Boeing told some carriers to ground its wide-body 777 jets after an engine in a United flight from Denver to Honolulu failed after takeoff. The plane returned to Denver, with no injuries. Check out a video of the ailing engine shot by a passenger.

3) 🇸🇦 An unclassified report from the U.S.’s Office of the Director of National Intelligence says Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman approved the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

4) 🇭🇰 The stark headline on an important story by my colleague Wenxin Fan: China’s Campaign to Crush Democracy in Hong Kong Is Working.

5) 📖 RIP Lawrence Ferlinghetti, “a poet, publisher and political iconoclast who inspired and nurtured generations of San Francisco artists and writers from City Lights, his famed bookstore.” He was 101.

6) 📷 File under: Everything old is new again. An up and coming photography app called Dispo replicates the experience of…a disposable camera. There’s a viewfinder and no editing; images “develop” and appear the next day.

7) 🎨 Art-meets-tech story of the week: Digital artist Mike Winkelmann – a father of two in Charleston, S.C. who goes by the name Beeple – makes millions auctioning his otherworldly creations online, Mickey Rapkin reports in Esquire. See Beeple’s work here.

8) 🎥 New-to-me tool of the week: JustWatch, a search engine for content across a multitude of streaming platforms. Want to know where to find a particular show or flick you’ve heard about? Check out JustWatch’s website or app. (Via Jordan Calhoun on a recent episode of the excellent Cool Tools podcast.)

9) 🦇 Heartwarming story of the week: Statler is a 33-year-old fruit bat who cuddles his human minders. (Thanks, Caitlin C.!)

10) 💅 Canine fashionistas (or, more accurately, their owners, who dress them up in adorable duds) are taking over Instagram – and powering pet clothing sales, the FT’s Kate Finnigan reports. Case in point: Tika the Iggy.

•••

🐶 Dog-related video of the week: “5 months old puppy makes his 100 years old granny very happy.”

•••

📕 What I’m Reading

I’ve just finished Martin Gurri’s “The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium.” If you’re interested in the media studies, government, science, sociology, or just the world at large, it’s worth a read.

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” – Mark Twain

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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NN251: Sweet Spaniels

Ramen Pringles

Sent as an email newsletter February 21, 2021. Sign up to receive future dispatches in your inbox.

👋 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.

🍜 Image of the week, above, spotted recently in a 7-Eleven here in Hong Kong: Miso-flavored Pringles chips. I haven’t tried them. Yet. I mean, that sounds like an amazing combination!

Here are 10 items worth your time this week:

1) ❄️ Severe winter weather forced parts of the Texas power grid offline for days. What happened? The single-digit temps prompted huge demand for electricity, but many power plants were shut down because they couldn’t safely operate in such cold. That left millions of people (including Texas Senator Ted Cruz) without juice for days.

2) 🦠 “World Health Organization investigators are honing their search for animals that could have spread the new coronavirus to humans, identifying two – ferret badgers and rabbits – that can carry the virus and were sold at a Chinese market where many early cases emerged,” my colleagues Betsy McKay, Jeremy Page and Drew Hinshaw report.

3) 🚀 After a nearly seven-month journey over 293 million miles, NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance touched down on the red planet, marking “the most elaborate and challenging feat in the annals of robotic spaceflight,” Reuters reported.

4) 🗞 Local journalism-related read of the week: “Corruption is flourishing in the rural corners of South Carolina as newspapers fold or shrink coverage amid a financially crippling pandemic,” Glenn Smith and Tony Bartelme report in The Post and Courier. Read more from a special report on public corruption in the state.

5) 🥾 Forget 10,000 steps. Focus instead on 120 minutes in nature every week. Spending time outside, called “forest bathing” in Japan, is linked to “lower blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones and decreased anxiety, depression and fatigue,” my colleague Betsy Morris reports.

6) 🔘 Control Panel is a photoblog dedicated to “dials, toggles, buttons, and bulbs.”

7) 😂 💀 The laughing/crying emoji is for old people, according to Gen Z internet observers. The skull – aka “I’m dead” or “I’m dying” – is much cooler.

8) 👽 Kickstarter product of the week (assuming it’s real), dedicated to Covid–19 prevention and personal privacy: Blanc, “the only full-face modular mask.” Click through for must-see pics.

9) 🌍 Shot: This week’s antidote to a world in which we can’t travel: WindowSwap. Click a button to see the view from a window somewhere else in the world.

10) 🍺 Chaser: I Miss My Bar lets you re-create the sounds of your favorite watering hole.

•••

Dog-related video of the week: “So gentle.”

•••

📕 What I’m Reading

I’m working my way through, and very much enjoying, Martin Gurri’The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium.”

•••

💡 Quote of the Week

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

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NN250: Protective Pooches

Ginger Happy Valentine's Day

Sent as an email newsletter February 14, 2021. Sign up to receive future dispatches in your inbox.

👋 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.

♥️ Image of the week, above: Ginger (and her owners) are wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day from Hong Kong!

📆 Administrative note: this is the 250th edition of NN.

Yes: the 250th! I sent the very first NN in February, 2015. (Among items in that dispatch: my newfound love for country musician Sturgill Simpson, the death of New York Times media critic David Carr, and a WSJ column with simple rules for personal finance.)

Here’s to another 250, and another five years. Thank you for reading!

Here are 10 items worth your time this week:

1) ☎️ Everyone seems to be talking about Clubhouse, the invite-only audio chat app. The San Franisco-based service has been big among Silicon Valley elite for some time, but more recently gained traction around the world. This week China’s censors appeared to shut it down following vigorous debate about political issues.

2) 😷 Is Covid–19 here to stay? We might need to start thinking of it as an endemic disease, my colleagues Daniela Hernandez and Drew Hinshaw write. A telling quote:

“Going through the five phases of grief, we need to come to the acceptance phase that our lives are not going to be the same,” said Thomas Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I don’t think the world has really absorbed the fact that these are long-term changes.”

3) 🦠 Related longread of the week: Atul Gawande, in The New Yorker, reporting on Ward County, North Dakota: “Inside the Worst-Hit County in the Worst-Hit State in the Worst-Hit Country.”

4) ⚡ Elon Musk’s Tesla bought $1.5 billion of bitcoin, sending the cryptocurrency soaring.

5) 🏈 🐐 Tom Brady, at age 43, won the Super Bowl with his Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “He prevailed not through any great flourish of athleticism but by making sound decisions and avoiding mistakes,” wrote the Financial Times’s Joshua Chaffin “It was a vintage, old man performance that this old man could appreciate.”

6) 💻 Another item to file under: how Covid–19 is changing work. Salesforce – San Francisco’s biggest private employer, with some 54,000 staff around the world – anticipates most of its employees will “work remotely part or full time after the pandemic” and that the company will “reduce its real-estate footprint as a result,” my WSJ colleague Katherine Bindley reported.

7) 🔭 Want to feel insignificant? There is now a 10 trillion pixel map of the sky, complete with a billion galaxies.

8) 🍕 Pizza-related quote of the week: “Pizza was the perfect food for the pandemic, but I think it’s also the perfect food for all time." That’s from the chief executive of Domino’s, in a New York Times story about a boom in sales amid Covid–19.

9) 🐱 Zoom-related quote of the week, from a Texas lawyer who inadvertently appeared as a feline in proceedings on a Zoom call: “I’m here live, I’m not a cat.” Enjoy the video.

10) 🌍 An antidote to a world in which we can’t travel: City Guesser. Click the video, try to determine the place.

•••

🐕 😭 Dog-related video of the week: “No one can stop dog from protecting its owner.”

•••

📕 What I’m Reading

I’ve just picked up “The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium,” a 2014 book by a former media analyst for the CIA, Martin Gurri. The upshot of the work, which portended the rise of Trump, Brexit and other trends: The internet and social media have triggered an explosion of information, undermining elites, top firms, and global institutions.

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“You can have it all. Just not all at once.” – Oprah Winfrey

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley

Categories
Newley's Notes

NN249: Contrite Canines

Mai Po Nature Reserve

Sent as an email newsletter February 7, 2021. Sign up to receive future dispatches in your inbox.

👋 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.

Image of the week, above: on a walk Saturday through Hong Kong’s Mai Po Nature Reserve. More on this soon!

🐦 TLDR: we saw a ton of birds, including two spoonbills. And the weather was amazing.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

1) 🇲🇲 Myanmar’s military on Monday staged a coup, marking “a major blow to the country’s transition from military rule to democracy, which began about a decade ago,” my colleagues Niharika Mandhana, Feliz Solomon and Sabrina Siddiqui wrote…

2) 💬 …and I pitched in with an exclusive about Facebook removing a Myanmar military television network page from its platform. Facebook banned the network in 2018 as part of a wider crackdown, but it reappeared. From the story:

After The Wall Street Journal asked Monday why the Myawaddy page was operational given its earlier ban, Facebook removed it and it now displays a message saying “This Page Isn’t Available.”

3) 💻 And more on Facebook in Myanmar: it was blocked on Thursday, as I wrote, after some people took to the platform to challenge the coup.

🚨 Meanwhile, the latest on the situation as of today (Sunday): tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Yangon, the country’s largest city, my colleague Niharika Mandhana wrote.

4) 🐦 Elsewhere, on another topic, my colleague Rajesh Roy and I had a story out Wednesday about Twitter in India. The lede:

India threatened to punish Twitter if it doesn’t comply with a government request to restore a block on accounts connected to tweets about farmers’ protests that the government says are inflammatory.

5) 🛒 And hey: How about Jeff Bezos saying he’ll step down as Amazon chief executive to become executive chairman? Andy Jassy, the head of Amazon’s massive AWS cloud business, will take over later this year.

👉 The company’s success has been without parallel, but “The walls of [Bezos’] highly compartmentalized empire have been crumbling for some time,” writes Bloomberg’s Brad Stone, author of the excellent book about Bezos and Amazon, “The Everything Store.” “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to be Jeff Bezos (at least by Bezos’s standards),” Stone writes.

6) 🦠 File under: heartbreaking: This WSJ story on Covid–19’s toll on essential workers – delivery drivers, grocery workers – contains one of the hardest-hitting ledes you’ll ever read.

7) 🗣 Invitation-only group voice chat app Clubhouse is all the rage among tech types. It is, writes Will Oremus at OneZero, the opposite of the flat, open Twitter: it’s “hierarchical and closed — more oligarchic than democratic.”

8) 👏 Longread of the week: “Louis Theroux’s Weird America,” by Anna Russell in the New Yorker.

🎧 I love Theroux’s work, including his pandemic-inspired podcast, “Grounded with Louis Theroux.” (Don’t miss his episodes with Boy George, Watford FC’s Troy Deeney, and actress Leah Remini.)

9) 👕 An interesting quantified self-meets-fashion project from digital consultant Olof Hoverfält: “Why I’ve tracked every single piece of clothing I’ve worn for three years.

10) 💯 A roundup of life tips from the Metafilter community: “What do you always recommend to people?

•••

🐕 Dog-related video of the week: “The you on social media vs. The you in real life.

•••

📕 What I’m Reading

I’m a day or two away from finishing “Facebook: The Inside Story," a 500-page-plus look at the history and future of the world’s biggest social media platform. It has been an enlightening read.

For fiction, I’ve been delving into a Dan Brown’s first novel, the 1998 thriller “Digital Fortress.” What pacing!

•••

💡 Quote of the week:

“The enemy is a very good teacher.” – The Dalai Lama

•••

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,

Newley