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In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Cameron Caught Humming; NYC Library Superintendents; Singaporean Banana Commerce; Epic Hockey Hair

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Hi friends,

Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter in which I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

What I wrote at Newley.com

Single, Individually Wrapped Bananas for Sale in Singapore

I shared this on Twitter and Facebook, as well, but wanted to preserve it for posterity on my blog. As I wrote:

Spotted recently at a 7-Eleven here in the city-state: bananas, in individual plastic bags, bearing the words “single and available.”

The sunglasses.

The plastic bag, despite — as a colleague pointed out on Twitter — the fact that bananas are naturally individually wrapped.

The “tip” at the bottom about when best to consume bananas according to ripeness.

It’s all too much.

5 items that are worth your time this week:

1) “David Cameron is caught humming a jaunty little tune after announcing his resignation as UK prime minister.”

Must-see video. Remarkable. The phrase “fiddling while Rome burns” comes to mind.

2) New York libraries once hosted live-in superintendents – meaning they and their families grew up in the facilities:

In the early to mid twentieth century, the majority of the city’s libraries had live-in superintendents. Like the superintendents who still live in many of the city’s residential buildings, these caretakers both worked and lived in the buildings for which they were responsible. This meant that for decades, behind the stacks, meals were cooked, baths and showers were taken, and bedtime stories were read. And yes, families living in the city’s libraries typically did have access to the stacks at night—an added bonus if they happened to need a new bedtime book after hours.

The post contains some interesting images.

3) “20 of the Best iPhone Photos of 2016.”

There are some gorgeous photos here. My favorite is the fourth from the top. You’ll know it when you see their faces. (Via Patrick N.)

4) Chinese Lottery Winners Collect Prizes Dressed as Cartoon Characters to Protect Their Identity

Simply amazing. And practical! Who wants all those friends and family members hassling your for dough after you’ve struck it rich?

5) “2016 Minnesota State High School All Hockey Hair Team.”

Incredible video. I cannot believe teenagers wear their hair in such styles in modern America. (Thanks, Miles!)

Have a great week!

@Newley

P.S. If someone forwarded you this email, you can subscribe here.

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Newley's Notes

In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Grab v. Uber; Why England Lose; Illiberalism on the Rise; Amazonian Book Nerds; Awesome Fireworks Packaging

The latest edition of my email newsletter has gone out to subscribers. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox, sign up here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe!


Hi friends,

Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly* newsletter in which I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

*Okay, make that mostly weekly! I have been traveling and generally busy in recent weeks, and thus have missed sending these missives out on occasion. But I shall endeavor to do better.

What I wrote in The Wall Street Journal

Uber Rival Grab Gains Ground in Southeast Asia – a look at how Singapore-based Grab, an Uber competitor operating in six Southeast Asian countries, is doing in its battle with the U.S. behemoth. The story begins:

SINGAPORE—Uber Technologies Inc. is locked in major tussles with local rivals in China and India, but a homegrown upstart is also grabbing an advantage in the race for another Asia prize.

A startup called Grab is winning ride-hailing turf in Southeast Asia—home to 600 million people, almost double the population of the U.S. The startup serves more cities in the region than Uber and, according to mobile-app analytics firm App Annie, is beating the world’s most valuable startup in the race for users here.

Click through for a graphic and photos. There’s also a video online here; you may recognize the narrator’s voice.

Indian Internet Startups Face Money Crunch – The story begins:

Investors’ enthusiasm for Indian startups continues to wane.

Private-equity and venture-capital funds raised by Internet companies in the world’s second-most-populous country fell 56% to $528 million in the three months ended June 30.

That is a sharp drop from the $1.19 billion raised in the previous quarter and $1.3 billion a year earlier, according to a research report from Jefferies India.

What I wrote at Newley.com

Why You Shouldn’t be Surprised When England Lose – I posted this item a few hours before they kicked off against Iceland…and promptly lost. From the post:

Here’s why you shouldn’t be surprised that the England national team aren’t more successful than they are.

Are you ready?

Here it is:

They’re actually not a global footballing power.

(Between the loss and Brexit, “This has been the worst week to be English since the Second World War,” as one Briton told The WSJ.)

5 items that are worth your time this week:

1) Speaking of which, Englishman John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, reflects on Brexit:

The great sweep of economic history is a series of “rises” and “falls”—from the fall of Rome to the rise of China. The intriguing episodes that spark the “what ifs” of history come lower down—when a medium-size power suddenly reverses an inevitable-seeming trajectory. That’s what Britain did under Margaret Thatcher and her successors: a crumbling country unexpectedly overturning years of genteel decline to become Europe’s most cosmopolitan liberal entrepôt. My fear is this revival ended on June 23, 2016.

2) Meanwhile, Sohrab Ahmari’s recent “Illiberalism: The Worldwide Crisis” – written, as it happens, before Brexit even occurred – is worth a read. It begins:

According to the bland conventional wisdom, Americans frustrated by the failure of the establishment to address issues like immigration and economic inequality have turned to an unlikely pair of political outsiders, a New York developer-turned-reality-TV-star and a Vermont socialist, to set things right. This account is true as far as it goes, but it is also hopelessly parochial and inadequate to the scope of the changes afoot. Trumpism (and Bernie Sanders-ism) are but the American symptoms of a global phenomenon: the astonishing rise of illiberal movements of the far right and far left.

3) Amazon is said to be run by super-smart analytic types who live and die by spreadsheets. But here’s a look at a decidedly right-brained group within the tech titan: the Amazon Book Reviewers team.

4) “The History of Urbanization, 3700 BC – 2000 AD” is a video charting, in just over three minutes, the rise of global cities through the millennia. Very cool.

5) This amazing collection of photos of Fourth of July fireworks packaging makes me miss America so much.

Have a great week!

@Newley

P.S. If someone forwarded you this email, you can subscribe here.

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Newley's Notes

In This Weeks’s Newley’s Notes: Stand-Up Desk Benefits; ‘Brexit’ Explainer; ‘Blade Runner’ Typography; the Business of Guns

The latest edition of my email newsletter has gone out to subscribers. It’s pasted in below.

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Hi friends,

Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter in which I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

What I wrote in The Wall Street Journal

India Relaxes Foreign Direct Investment Rules. This is big news for Apple, which may now be able to open its own stores in the country.

What I wrote at Newley.com

IPhone 6 Touchscreen Problems? You’re Not Alone – I’ve encountered a beguiling problem. It is driving me nuts. Have you experienced something like this? Lemme know.

5 items that are worth your time this week:

1) Stand-up desks are supposed to be healthier than ones at which you sit. But a recent study shows another benefit: greater productivity. That’s probably because standing makes workers more active and thus more comfortable, so they concentrate better.

2) Everything you always wanted to know about “Brexit” – the potential exit of Britain from the EU, set for a vote on Thurs. – but were afraid to ask:

– The New York Times has an explainer.

– The argument for leaving, as articulated by The Telegraph, is:

Once we have left and are no longer subject to the free movement of labour, popular worries about immigration will become a matter for the British government and for Parliament. This does not mean there will be no immigration; quite the contrary. People will be welcome to come and work in the country and visitors and tourists will flock here as they always have.

But we will control our own borders; we will let in who we want to come and contribute to our economy. And if the country does not like the way the Government is conducting its immigration policy then it can turf it out. As things stand, there is nothing that can be done.

And the argument for remaining, by The Economist:

The liberal Leavers are peddling an illusion. On contact with the reality of Brexit, their plans will fall apart. If Britain leaves the EU, it is likely to end up poorer, less open and less innovative. Far from reclaiming its global outlook, it will become less influential and more parochial. And without Britain, all of Europe would be worse off.

Start with the economy. Even those voting Leave accept that there will be short-term damage… More important, Britain is unlikely to thrive in the longer run either. Almost half of its exports go to Europe. Access to the single market is vital for the City and to attract foreign direct investment. Yet to maintain that access, Britain will have to observe EU regulations, contribute to the budget and accept the free movement of people—the very things that Leave says it must avoid. To pretend otherwise is to mislead.

(Thanks to Jake for the last two links.)

3) The New York Times has a disturbing look at thousands of people suffering psychotic symptoms who have banded together online, claiming they are victims of a vast conspiracy. Isn’t the internet awesome?

4) This painstakingly researched piece on the typography in “Blade Runner,” one of my favorite movies, is exceptional.

There is even an examination of newspaper fonts in the movie. Headline: “FARMING THE OCEANS, THE MOON AND ANTARCTICA.” Dek: “World Wide Computer Linkup Planned.”

5) Post-Orlando #longread of the week: “Making a Killing: The business and politics of selling guns,” by The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos.

Have a great week!

@Newley

P.S. If someone forwarded you this email, you can subscribe here.

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Newley's Notes

In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Tech Stories from HK; Asian Godfathers; Ode to Trustafarians; Aging Goalkeepers; King Tut’s Meteoritic Dagger

The latest edition of my email newsletter has gone out to subscribers. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox, sign up here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe!


Hi friends,

Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter where I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

What I wrote in The Wall Street Journal

Singapore’s Grab App Can Now Hail Lyft Cars in U.S.:

The latest step in a global ride-sharing alliance between rivals of Uber Technologies Inc. went into effect Thursday, allowing users of a popular Southeast Asia-focused transportation app to begin making car bookings via Lyft Inc. in the U.S.

I also spent Thurs. and Fri. in Hong Kong attending The WSJ’s Converge tech conference. In addition to posing for creepy pics with humanoid robots, I wrote some stories. To wit:

Microsoft Not Building Driverless Car But Wants to Help With Tech:

Microsoft Corp. isn’t building its own self-driving car, but is bullish on helping others with related technology, a senior executive said.

Southeast Asia Startup Scene Is Sunny, Investors Say:

Venture capitalists and investors attending the Converge technology conference in Hong Kong on Friday expressed optimism about the future of startups in Southeast Asia, despite significant challenges.

What I wrote at Newley.com

Book Notes — ‘Asian Godfathers,’ by Joe Studwell – Probably the best book I’ve ever read on Southeast Asia. Highly recommended.

5 items that are worth your time this week:

1) An interesting thread on Quora sure to appeal to productivity nerdz: “What is the most powerful tip you’ve gained from reading a self-help book?”

2) “Why I Quit My Job to Travel the World”, by Joe Veix at The New Yorker, is an excellent send-up of “digital nomad” (or, perhaps more fittingly, “trustifarian”) culture. It opens:

On paper, my life seemed great. I had a dream job, a swanky apartment, and a loving girlfriend. But something was off. I couldn’t bear being chained to my desk in a stuffy office any longer. So I decided to quit and travel the world, bringing only my passport, a small backpack, and my enormous trust fund.

I also like:

As a citizen of the world, I rarely get lonely. Everywhere I go, I meet such diverse groups of people. In hostels, I’ve shared beers with friendly British and Australian twenty-somethings. In hotels, I’ve sipped wine with friendly British and Australian forty-somethings. We all became lifelong friends, despite the language barriers.

And:

Of course, this “no reservations” life style isn’t for everyone. In many ways, it’s harder than the old corporate grind. Many stores don’t accept my Centurion card. Sometimes it’s difficult to get even one bar of cell service, which makes Instagramming more gelato a real struggle.

3) The Onion has a nice take on the passing of The Greatest: “Dozens Of Social Issues Thankful They Never Had To Go Toe-To-Toe With Muhammad Ali.”

4) Video of the week: Mexcian club Pachuca’s 43-year-old (yes, 43-year-old!) goalkeeper, Oscar “El Conejo” Perez, pulls off a triple save against Monterrey in his side’s the Mexican league title-winning game. Did I mention he’s 43?

5) So, King Tut’s dagger was made out of a meteorite. Here’s the original paper.

Reader feedback

Remember Flyover Country, the app I mentioned last week that provides geographic details on the land you’re flying over? Reader Mechum P. writes to point out that it does, indeed, work outside the U.S. “Flyover Country works everywhere! but it can be slow to download your routes,” he says. Thanks for the feedback.

Have a great week!

@Newley

P.S. If someone forwarded you this email, you can subscribe here.

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Newley's Notes

In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Apple Stores in India; Subaru’s Memorable Marketing Campaign; Capybaras as Pets; Neanderthal stalagmite constructions

The latest edition of my email newsletter has gone out to subscribers. It’s pasted in below.

To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox, sign up here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe!


Hi friends,

Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter where I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

What I wrote in The Wall Street Journal

“Indian Ministries Divide on Apple’s Retail Vision” – India’s minister for commerce and industry said today she supports waiving rules that could block Apple Inc.’s retail stores. Apple wants its own shops in India for brand visibility; it’s still unclear if that will happen.

What I wrote at Newley.com

Book Notes — ‘The One Thing,’ by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan. For a while now, I’ve kept, on index cards, notes about many of the books I’ve read. I’ve decided to start sharing these notes as blog posts. Stay tuned for more.

5 items that are worth your time this week:

1) “How an Ad Campaign Made Lesbians Fall in Love with Subaru.” Fascinating. From the piece:

“When we did the research, we found pockets of the country like Northampton, Massachusetts, and Portland, Oregon, where the head of the household would be a single person—and often a women,” says Bennett. When Subaru marketers talked to these customers, they realized these women buying Subarus were lesbian.

And:

Many of them even felt an affinity with the name.

‘Subaru’ is the Japanese name for the Pleiades, a six-star constellation. When Kenji Kita, the CEO of Subaru’s parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries, chose the name in 1954, he chose it to represent how six Japanese companies had merged to form Fuji Heavy Industries. But in English, the constellation is also known as the Seven Sisters—the same name as a group of American women’s colleges.

2) Great idea for an app: You can consult Flyover Country while in the air to learn about interesting geologic formations below your plane. More info here. (Note: It’s unclear to me if this works just in the U.S., or elsewhere, as well.)

3) This is an incredible. A Swiss graphic designer spent some 1,000 hours recreating all of 1977’s “Star Wars Episodie IV – A New Hope” – in a single, 123-meter-long, scrollable infographic. #Dedication

4) It appears that Neanderthals built constructions out of stalagmites deep inside a cave in France some 176,000 years ago. But no one knows what they were for. For more, here’s the original paper.

5) I was researching capybaras – yes, you read that right; they’ve been in the news – and came across this amazing video of two people who have made pets of the huge rodents. Here’s a video of the pair, Romeo and Tuff’n, going shopping.

Have a great week!

@Newley

P.S. If someone forwarded you this email, you can subscribe here.