Newley's Notes

NN210: Coronavirus Ticktock; Breaking: Markets Tumble; Kratu’s Swan Song

Sent as an email newsletter Monday, March 9.

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🚨 1) Breaking: Stock Markets Stay Sharply Lower As Trading Halt Lifts [WSJ]

“U.S. stocks careened on Monday, pushing major indexes closer to bear-market territory as a price war for oil and the fallout from the coronavirus frightened investors, who sought shelter in government bonds and propelled yields to unprecedented lows.”

🦠 2) Coronavirus longread of the week, by my colleagues: How It All Started: China’s Early Coronavirus Missteps [WSJ]

“China’s errors, dating back to the very first patients, were compounded by political leaders who dragged their feet to inform the public of the risks and to take decisive control measures ”

📈 3) Math-related coronavirus video of the week: Exponential growth and epidemics [YouTube/3Blue1Brown]

“A good time for a primer on exponential and logistic growth, no?”

❓ 4) Coronavirus-related AMA of the week: We are a team of medical experts following COVID–19’s progression closely. Ask Us Anything. [Reddit]

“News about the coronavirus outbreak that started in Wuhan, China, is changing rapidly. Our team of experts are here to break down what we know and how you can stay safe.”

🔮 Bonus coronavirus guide: Don’t Panic: The comprehensive Ars Technica guide to the coronavirus [Ars Technica]

“This is a fast-moving epidemic – we’ll update this guide at 3pm EDT every day.”

💻 Bonus WFH-related link: The Coronavirus Is Forcing Techies To Work From Home. Some May Never Go Back To The Office. [Buzzfeed News]

“As the coronavirus spreads in the United States and tech companies ask their workforces to do their jobs from home, some in the industry are looking at the outbreak as a test case for the long-gestating but never-arriving moment when working remotely will broadly replace working in person.”

📱 5) WhatsApp is so popular in Africa, even knock-off versions are used more often than Facebook [Quartz]

“…GB WhatsApp, the most widely used WhatsApp mod across major African markets, allows users operate multiple accounts, restore deleted messages and send and receive larger media files (up to 50 megabytes compared to 16 megabytes on WhatsApp). ”

📹 6) Before Clearview Became a Police Tool, It Was a Secret Plaything of the Rich [New York Times]

“Investors and clients of the facial recognition start-up freely used the app on dates and at parties – and to spy on the public.”

🍴 7) The economics of all-you-can-eat buffets [The Hustle]

“By nature, buffets attract the very customers they wish to avoid: Big eaters with insatiable appetites. Buffets seek to ‘fill the customer’s belly as cheaply and as quickly as possible.’ To do so, they employ a number of research-backed tricks to get people to eat less food…”

🧠 8) Study Shows Low Carb Diet May Prevent, Reverse Age-Related Effects Within the Brain [Stony Brook University News]

“’The bad news is that we see the first signs of brain aging much earlier than was previously thought. However, the good news is that we may be able to prevent or reverse these effects with diet, mitigating the impact of encroaching hypometabolism by exchanging glucose for ketones as fuel for neurons.’”

🗿 9) Truck Crashes Into an Easter Island Statue [New York Times]

“The truck rolled down a slope and hit an ahu, a ceremonial platform where one of the island’s famous statues was already on its side.”

🐶 10) Dog-related video of the week: Dog Still Not Sure What’s Going On, Continues to Have Good Time [Slate]

This is Kratu’s last year at Crufts before retirement, and he made it count, getting up to his old tricks of sniffing and hiding in tunnels and general waywardness before pulling off a spectacular heist right before our eyes.

💡 Quote of the week:

"Don’t stumble over something behind you.” – Unknown

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,


Newley's Notes

NN209: So…We Moved to Hong Kong!

👋 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.

🇭🇰 Big news on the personal front: Anasuya and I have moved here to Hong Kong!

Hi from HK!


It’s true!

Hong Kong!

Our three and a half years in India were extremely rewarding. Now it’s time for a new adventure. We are thrilled to be here.

😷 (What’s Hong Kong like, given the coronavirus? So far it’s similar to when I’ve visited before, except that 1) fewer folks seem to be out in public, so the streets are less crowded; 2) the vast majority of people are wearing face masks when they’re on the streets and especially on public transportation, though most people in bars and restaurants aren’t wearing them.)

✍️ As I mentioned on Twitter, I’ll be covering – much like I did from New Delhi – U.S. tech titans and their battles across Asia. It is a beat I have loved exploring from New Delhi and look forward to continuing to write about from this new perch.

🐕 Oh, and since I know many NN readers are fans of Ginger, our beloved New Delhi street dog, I will say this: fret not. She is also, of course, joining us here in HK soon. More on that soon!

On to this week’s NN…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🦠 1) The latest on the coronavirus from The WSJ today: Coronavirus Cases Mount as Second Person Dies in U.S.

Health officials are focused on a cluster of confirmed cases in Washington, including the two deaths. Those infections, and several others in states such as Oregon and California – many with no clear path to exposure – signal that there might be wider spread of the virus in some communities, with many cases still undiagnosed. New cases were also reported in New York, Florida and Rhode Island.

Other resources:

The CDC has a good overview of the virus.

And from The WSJ: How to Prepare for the Coronavirus:

“Public health experts advise staying calm and following the same precautions recommended for preventing flu or any other respiratory virus. Stick with the basics: Wash your hands, cover your coughs and sneezes, and stay at home from work or school when you’re sick.”

🗣️ 2) The Coronavirus and How Political Spin Has Worsened Epidemics [New Yorker]

"Throughout history, diseases have posed an unsparing test of political leaders and their fidelity to the facts. According to Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan, ’From the political to the purely mercenary, secrecy has almost always contributed to the further spread of a pandemic and hindered public health management.’”

🔮 3) On governments and Covid–19: The virus is coming [The Economist]

Officials will have to act when they do not have all the facts, because much about the virus is unknown. A broad guess is that 25–70% of the population of any infected country may catch the disease. China’s experience suggests that, of the cases that are detected, roughly 80% will be mild, 15% will need treatment in hospital and 5% will require intensive care.

➡️ 4) Absolutely riveting corporate story of the week, by my WSJ colleagues: SoftBank’s Rajeev Misra Used Campaign of Sabotage to Hobble Internal Rivals

His rise to the top of SoftBank Group Corp.’s $100 billion Vision Fund isn’t a traditional tale of corporate ladder-climbing. He succeeded, in part, by striking at two of his main rivals inside SoftBank with a dark-arts campaign of personal sabotage.

The tactics included planting negative news stories about them, concocting a shareholder campaign to pressure SoftBank to fire them and even attempting to lure one of them into a “honey trap” of sexual blackmail, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

📚 5) Freeman Dyson, Math Genius Turned Visionary Technologist, Dies at 96 [New York Times]

“‘Life begins at 55, the age at which I published my first book,’ he wrote in ‘From Eros to Gaia,’ one of the collections of his writings that appeared while he was a professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study – an august position for someone who finished school without a Ph.D. The lack of a doctorate was a badge of honor, he said.”

📼 6) Archivists Are Uploading Hundreds of Random VHS Tapes to the Internet [Vice]

“An organization called Vista Group recently uploaded dozens of VHS and cassette tapes from the 90s and early 2000s to the Internet Archive, and the content within is worth a retro-nostalgia trip back to a simpler, weirder, more wavy time.”

🎧 7) The Joy of Watching TV With Headphones On [WSJ]

“I’m not sure why I resisted this sonic refuge for so long. With advances in noise-cancelling tech and Bluetooth’s ease of connectivity with smart TVs, soundbars and streaming devices like Apple TV, headphoned TV fans don’t have to worry about intrusive noise.”

🌟 8) My Ex-Boyfriend’s New Girlfriend Is Lady Gaga [New York Times]

“How do you compare yourself with one of the most famous women in the world?”

🏖️ 9) Wacky internet gem of the week:

“Poolside FM was conceived one awfully rainy summer in the Highlands of Scotland – a virtual vacation, if you will. The audio and video streams are curated to inject a healthy dose of serotonin into your brain.”

🐶 10) Dog video of the week: Double H Canine Training Academy… Epic Service Dog Training Failure [YouTube]

💡 Quote of the week:

“How do you get good ideas? You have a lot of ideas and throw out the bad ones.” – Linus Pauling.

👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,


Newley's Notes

NN208: Thailand Mass Shooting — Beijing vs. Coronavirus — Brad Pitt: Underrated — Dogs, Sledding

Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday February 9.

👋 Hi, friends. Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.

📬 Not a subscriber yet? Get it here.

🚨 Recently out, some sad news from Thailand: A soldier yesterday (Saturday) went on shooting spree in Nakhon Ratchasima, a city northeast of Bangkok, killing more than 20 people and wounding dozens.

The latest from the AP:

A soldier with a grudge gunned down 26 people and wounded 57 in Thailand’s worst mass shooting before he was fatally shot inside a mall in the country’s northeast on Sunday, officials said.

“The deadly rampage has shocked Thailand, where gun violence isn’t uncommon but mass shootings are very rare,” my WSJ colleagues write.

⚠️ Note: There will be no NN next week. Look for the next edition in your inboxes the following Sunday. On to this week’s NN…

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🇨🇳 1) An important story about the coronavirus and political implications for Beijing: China’s Leader Wages a War on Two Fronts—Viral and Political [WSJ]

"China has quarantined entire cities, thrown up hospitals in days, and deployed military doctors and Communist Party members to the front lines, a massive effort Mr. Xi likens to a military campaign.

That effort is intended to beat the coronavirus outbreak, and also win a battle on a second front – against the most intense volleys of public rage since he took power in 2012."

📍 Bonus map, updated frequently: Coronavirus 2019-nCoV Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE

📡 2) Federal Agencies Use Cellphone Location Data for Immigration Enforcement [WSJ]

“The Trump administration has bought access to a commercial database that maps the movements of millions of cellphones in America and is using it for immigration and border enforcement, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.”

💲 3) Instagram brought in $20 billion in ad revenue last year, more than a quarter of Facebook’s earnings [The Verge]

“Instagram isn’t the biggest moneymaker for Facebook, but it certainly plays a major role in generating revenue for the social media company.”

🕵️‍♀️ 4) The time I sabotaged my editor with ransomware from the dark web [BloombergBusinessweek]

“A few weeks in, though, it occurred to me that if someone like me could pull off a digital heist, it would function as a sort of hacking Turing test, proof that cybercrime had advanced to the point where software-aided ignorance would be indistinguishable from true skill. As a journalist, I’ve spent years writing about people who do things that I, if called upon, couldn’t do myself. Here was my chance to be the man in the arena.”

✝️ 5) Longread of the week: Richard Rohr Reorders the Universe [New Yorker]

“The seventy-six-year-old Franciscan friar Richard Rohr believes that Christianity isn’t the only path to salvation.”

😟 6) “Devastating” Manufacturing Plant Fire Threatens Worldwide Vinyl Record Supply [Pitchfork]

“‘There are only TWO companies that make lacquers in the world, and the other, MDC in Japan, already had trouble keeping up with demand BEFORE this development.’”

🚫 7) I Quit Yale [New York Times]

“My parents, Russian immigrants who graciously embraced my career path, were able to help me financially in small ways – a car, my books. And James Franco was in my program. He smelled nice and only attended every other class.”

👨 8) Brad Pitt and the Beauty Trap [New York Times]

“Male stars face a double standard, too, and ever since he bared his chest in ‘Thelma & Louise,’ his work has been undervalued.

(Note: Overall I was underwhelmed by “Ad Astra,” but I found Pitt’s performance captivating.)

🧀 9) Map of the week: Cheese Map of Europe [Reddit/MapPorn]

❄️ 10) Dog video of the week: This is the best thing you’ll see today [Twitter/Akkivideos]

👏 Runner up: This is some serious Barkour…. [Twitter/Akkivideos]

💡 Quote of the week:

"If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” – George Orwell

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Newley's Notes

NN207: My Latest, on Music Streaming — Super Bowl Preview — Mapping the Coronavirus — Cooperative Dogs

Photo by Jeff Golenski on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter Sunday February 2.

👋 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.

🆕 🎧 My latest story, just out: Spotify, Apple Music Trail Little-Known Rival in Music-Obsessed India. It begins:

The most popular music streaming service in India, the world’s biggest untapped digital economy, isn’t from Spotify Technology SA or Apple Inc. Instead, it is a local rival little known outside the country.

Noida, India-based Gaana, named after the Hindi word for “song,” has used a hyperlocal approach and cut-rate pricing to beat the competition and attract 152 million monthly users. That is more than half of Spotify’s global user base, double Apple Music’s global count and far more than YouTube Music and Inc.’s music services.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

🏈 1) Special preview: Super Bowl LIV [Axios]

“The Super Bowl isn’t just a football game. It’s the halftime show; it’s the ads; it’s the seven-layer dip; it’s the fact that, for four hours on Sunday night, nobody is expected to be doing anything else.”


“With the Patriots absent for the first time since 2016, Super Bowl LIV feels like the dawn of a new era. Patrick Mahomes leads a pass-heavy Chiefs attack against the NFL’s best defense, while Jimmy Garoppolo leads a 49ers offense that has run the ball on 71 of its last 88 plays.”

Bonus links:

🦠 2) Interactive: Tracking the Coronavirus [WSJ]

“The coronavirus in two months has sickened thousands in China and reached more than a dozen countries

📹 3) Facial Recognition Is Only the Beginning [Public Books]

“…beyond any specific attributes of the technology, there is a particular group of actors that benefits from the idea that measuring and computationally analyzing the world affords access to knowledge – and those actors also have the power to enact and legitimize their knowledge claims.”

⚖️ 4) Mark Warner Takes on Big Tech and Russian Spies [Wired]

“…in Donald Trump’s Washington, Warner has evolved into Capitol Hill’s most reluctant and thoughtful tech critic, grilling Facebook, Twitter, and Google executives, lashing out in private and public over their intransigence, and pressing the companies to confront the role their platforms have played in undermining democracy.”

🛍️ 5) Russia’s Google Will Bring You Groceries in Just 15 Minutes [Bloomberg News]

“Russia’s largest technology company, Yandex NV, is getting groceries to Moscow homes within a quarter of an hour, free of charge. Its new online service, called Lavka, has spread small warehouses across the capital stocked with about 2,000 items and uses bike couriers to deliver orders.”

📚 6) In U.S., Library Visits Outpaced Trips to Movies in 2019 [Gallup]

“Visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far.”

✍️ 7) Author Mary Higgins Clark, ‘Queen of Suspense,’ dead at 92 [AP]

“Mary Higgins Clark, the tireless and long-reigning “Queen of Suspense” whose tales of women beating the odds made her one of the world’s most popular writers, died Friday at age 92.”

📊 8) Map of the week: Home Price-to-Income Ratios, 1980–2017 [Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies]

📱 9) Google Maps Hacks [Simon Weckert]

“99 second hand smartphones are transported in a handcart to generate virtual traffic jam in Google Maps.Through this activity, it is possible to turn a green street red which has an impact in the physical world by navigating cars on another route to avoid being stuck in traffic.”

🐶 10) Dog video of the week: Teamwork makes the dream work. [Twitter/@GillOshaughness]

💡 Quote of the week:

“Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.” – Albert Einstein

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Newley's Notes

NN206: Bezos in India — Oscar Noms — RIP Neil Peart — Clever Mutts

Photo by Thomas Griesbeck on Unsplash

Sent as an email newsletter Friday, January 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.

🙏🏻 Apologies for the tardiness of this week’s edition. There’s been a lot of news here in India this week. To wit, I’ve had three stories out in recent days:

On Monday: India Orders Antitrust Probe of Amazon and Walmart’s Flipkart. The lede:

India’s antitrust watchdog ordered a probe into whether Inc. and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart have violated competition laws, New Delhi’s latest move to try to rein in American tech giants that dominate its burgeoning internet economy.

Then on Tuesday: India Orders WhatsApp, Google to Save Data on Mob Attack. The lede:

An Indian court ordered Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp and Alphabet Inc.’s Google to preserve data connected to an attack on a university campus earlier this month in the latest attempt by authorities in the country to wrangle more control over the messaging and search giants.

And finally, on Wednesday: Amazon’s Bezos Pledges New $1 Billion India Investment Amid Pushback. TLDR: he promised to pour more funds in India – and also, understandably, played to the local audience:

On Wednesday, Mr. Bezos praised U.S.-India ties and said he believes the 21st century “is going to be the Indian century.” At the end of his talk, the executive, dressed in an indigo Nehru jacket, clasped his hands together and bowed before the crowd to great applause.

After touching down in New Delhi on Tuesday, Mr. Bezos posted a video on his Twitter account showing him paying tribute at a memorial to Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

⚠️ Editor’s note: I will be tied up over the coming days, so the next NN will land in your inbox the weekend of Feb. 1.

Here are ten items worth your time this week:

💬 1) Facebook Backs Off Controversial Plan to Sell Ads in WhatsApp [WSJ]

“Facebook Inc. is backing away from efforts to sell ads in WhatsApp, in a retreat from a controversial plan that drove the creators of the popular messaging service to resign more than 18 months ago, according to people familiar with the matter.”

♾️ 2) Does Consciousness Pervade the Universe? [Scientific American]

“Philosopher Philip Goff answers questions about ‘panpsychism’

🆕 3) The Verge Awards at CES 2020: welcome to the land of the concept [The Verge]

“Oh, what a difference 12 months makes. At last year’s CES, we found fewer concepts and more tangible products than ever before. Apparently this year, the exhibitors saw our reaction and felt they had to work overtime to correct it because if there was a theme to 2020’s CES, it was that CES is the land of the concept.”

⛔ 4) The Evil List [Slate]

“Which tech companies are really doing the most harm? Here are the 30 most dangerous, ranked by the people who know.”

😥 5) Neil Peart, Drummer and Lyricist for Rush, Dies at 67 [New York Times]

“Neil Peart, the pyrotechnical drummer and high-concept lyricist for the Canadian progressive-rock trio Rush, died on Tuesday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 67.”

🥁 Bonus: Neil Peart’s Essential Songs: Hear 10 Tracks.

📽️ 6) ‘Joker’ leads Oscar noms; ‘1917,’ ‘Irishman’ close behind [Associated Press]

“Female filmmakers were shut out, ‘Parasite’ made history and ‘Joker’ edged out ‘The Irishman,’ ‘1917’ and ‘Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood’ in Monday’s Oscar nominations.”

💊 7) 7 Biohacks to Master Before Worrying About Other Biohacks [The Atlantic]

“Unlike the biohacks that the other gurus are out there selling, these are all-natural. I call them – and I insist on the capitalization here – NATURAL BIOHACKS .”

🖊️ 8) Stamps, Scientific Charts, and Hand-Drawn Maps Occupy Every Inch of Travel Notebooks by José Naranja [Colossal]

“Author and artist José Naranja ensures he won’t forget any detail of his year-round travels across the globe through a meticulous and unique documentation process.”

🇯🇵 9) Why Japan is so successful at returning lost property [BBC News]

“Cultural norms, complex religious influences and friendly neighbourhood police officers make losing something in Japan no big deal.

🐕 10) Dog video of the week: I SEE YOU!!!!!! [Imgur]

💡 Quote of the week:

“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

👊 Fist bump from New Delhi,


Newley's Notes

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 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's Notes

NN202: Special Best-of-2019 Edition


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)


🖌️ 3) BEST ART







🐶 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,


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'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's Notes

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


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,