Friday, October 3, 2014

Five Things on a Friday: Taking a Bite out of Apple

It’s been an interesting news week.  The world is changing, hopefully for the better, though I suppose we won’t have enough perspective on it to make any meaningful judgements for a while.  
I tell people all the time that the past is past, we are where we are now, and we can either deal with it realisticaly and move forward or else stay stuck in a fantasy of our own imaginings and regrets.  One of these options is clearly better than the other, but I suppose your mileage may vary as to which is which.
“For distance runs, we rarely need more than occasional water stops and, if the run will last longer than a couple hours, a gel or two. For harder workouts, however, we’ll need a recovery plan.”

Finding the right pace for workouts is by far the hardest part of being a triathlete for me.  My body remembers how to go fast, and years spent in the pool honing my mid-distance form has ingrained a certain effort level in my workouts.  As I’ve gotten older, however, the recovery required for those old-style uptempo workouts is harder and harder to manage, to the point where going out to “just do it” tends to result in injury.  
I need to slow down, but man, I am not good at it.

Me and Sally after the Charles Island Sprint Triathlon, Summer 2013.
In that sense, my recent stay in the hospital was a blessing.  After being in the hospital for a week, I tried to come back too fast and wound up getting exhausted.  The good news is that I’m not such an amazingly stubborn asshole that I insisted on pushing it to the point of winding up back in the hospital.  The bad news is that I’ve still had to back off quite a bit.  I’ve been doing short runs at 9:30/mile pace—or even slower—and I feel great.  That is a blessing.  On Sunday, I put in a four-mile run at exactly 9:30/mile, and I can’t help feeling like this is what I need, a lot more long, slow runs to slowly build aerobic fitness.  Granted, that’s not always the most exciting way to work out, but what can you do?  I bought a new Garmin GPS watch with heart rate monitor this week, and like it or not, I am going to have to make copious use of the damned thing.
I also need to slow down in the pool.  I usual swim twice per week, and because I can, I tend to do uptempo intervals in the water.  That’s fine.  But if this article is correct, then I need to rest something like three or four days between high-intensity interval sessions.  Swimming like I have been will leave me with absolutely no time to do anything fast besides swimming.  Since that’s obviously not going to help over the long term, I need to slow down in the water and find some time to work in a little speed work in the other disciplines, too.
“Apple's international operations have been based in Cork, Ireland since 1980. The company employs 4,000 people in Ireland. Other major companies headquartered in Ireland include Amazon, Facebook, PayPal and Twitter -- it's a popular base because of the friendly corporate tax rate of 12.5 percent.

But despite that already relatively low rate, Apple pays less than 2 percent in tax there. As 
uncovered by a US Senate investigation in 2013, the company has secured that lower rate by channeling overseas sales through subsidiaries. That investigation found the company's Ireland-based subsidiary could be holding a whopping 60 percent of Apple's profits to avoid bringing that money back to the US, where it would be hit with much higher taxes. Yet despite all that money sloshing around, the subsidiary is allowed to claim itself as a non-taxing resident of Ireland.”
I shouldn't be mad at Apple.
They fixed my wife's iPhone
for free yesterday.
The EU claims this is official state aidgiving Apple preferential treatment over other companies and an unfair advantage in the marketplace.  Still, it seems like this kind of preferential treatment has become pretty common.  To put it bluntly, the Irish government appears willing tolerate just about anything that will generate a few thousand decent jobs within its borders.
Decent jobs are only one part of the current economic picture.  This issue otax revenue is also a huge problem.  
The First World governments are drowning in debt at the same time that wealth has become concentrated at near-historic levels.  The developed world’s economy is growing, but neither the people nor their governments are benefiting.  Meanwhile, Western governments need vast amounts of wealth to fight the forces of chaos that are even now threatening to swamp the civilized world.  This is a destructive cycle, but the political will does not yet exist in any Western country to redress the balance.  Indeed, even the East seems to be moving in the direction of more wealth concentration rather than a more egalitarian society.  That’s striking considering that the East’s superpower is an ostensibly Communist nation with a very long history of successful merit-based bureaucratic government.
One assumes that eventually the voters of the Western democracies will simply vote themselves into the possession of other peoples’ money.  Indeed, perhaps it is this kind of thinking that’s influencing the EU’s move.  It’s certainly true that the European economy is in worse shape than are the American or Asian economies, and European populations don’t have the kind of visceral aversion to Socialism and populist re-appropriation that Americans do.  If the European Union simply seizes Apple’s cash horde, what then?  It’s hard to see how Apple would have much standing for redress, and having expatriated itself from America for the explicit purpose of avoiding American taxes, I can’t see American politicians fighting for Apple’s right to continue avoiding taxes elsewhere.
This could be an interesting issue.  If I was a betting man, I’d probably put my money on Apple’s lawyers, but I personally hope it develops a little.  A bit of panic in Ireland could go a long way towards creating a climate of constructive change both here and abroad.
“In a first deal of its kind, Netflix and the Weinstein Company said Monday that they planned to release next year’s sequel to the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonsimultaneously across the globe on Netflix and a select number of IMAX theaters, Emily Steel and Brooks Barnes report.”
The movie industry has been headed towards a video-on-demand model for some time now, and I guess Netflix got tired of waiting and decided to go ahead and kick off the revolution.  If this works—and I expect it will—we’re probably only a decade away from being able to see pretty much everything on the day it’s released right in our own living rooms.  In fact, many independent movies have already gone to this model—and found much bigger audiences because of it.  It would be nice to see a studio model develop that supports better, smaller movies as well.  The challenge then becomes figuring out what’s worth your time, but that’s a challenge the next generation can handle.
A sequel!
Of course, Netflix exec’s are saying that people will still go to movie theaters, that the experience of seeing something on the big screen is to movie viewing what seeing a football or basketball game is in-person rather than on your TV at home.  I don’t know if I buy that.  Being in a crowd at a game is an electric experience that fills a stadium with energy.  You can feel it, and oftentimes the audience has an impact on the action on the field.  The same could be said of seeing a play in a theater.  But watching TV or a movie is static.  The action is pre-recorded; the audience is entirely passive regardless of how loud and boisterous it becomes.  This is why people don’t clap at the end of a movie.  The performers can’t hear us, so what’s the point? 
Look, I like seeing things on the big screen.  I think it’s a more-immersive experience than watching TV at home.  However, it’s alsless comfortable, and the food is muchmore more expensive, and I think that this is one of those times when the economics of the thing will reign supreme.  Sitting around with a bunch of strangers in a less-than-comfortable setting simply so you can see larger, louder images is kind of niche pleasure.  It’s fun when you’re a teenager, and all of your friends are at the movies, but for everyone else, it’s kind of a pain in the ass.
Beside which, what are Netflix exec’s supposed to say?  That they’re trying to kill the theater business once and for all?  They can’t say that, even if it’s true.  
That headline pretty much says it all, though the article makes it sound like the U.S. won’t pass either Russia or Saudi Arabia for about another decade—if it ever actually does at all.  Nevertheless, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies coupled to historically high oil prices have made previously uneconomic fields economic again, leading to lots and lots of domestic production.  This has still not ended U.S. involvement in the Middle East, however, so I guess the upshot of all this is simply an increase in supply rather than a fundamental change to the world’s geo-political and economic structures.  
Too bad, that.
5. There’s lots to do this weekend.
 -- Ball State visits Army on Saturday.  The game is on CBS Sports starting at noon.  Army could use your support.
#BALLvsARMY at noon on CBS Sports
 -- After weeks of garbage at the movies, it looks like Gone Girl is finally gonna give us something worth seeing.  I doubt I’ll see it in a theater, but it feels like it’s been a long drought of crappy movies since Guardians of the Galaxy premiered.  If Gone Girl ends the late-summer cinema doldrums, it’ll make me happy.
 -- Several of my friends are throwing parties.  It seems clear that we’re not going to be able to make it to all of them, but I’m not looking forward to disappointing anyone.
 -- Finally, it’s October, which means that you probably need to go buy a pumpkin.  That makes me happy.  Gettiing the family pumpkin has become one of my favorite traditions.  It’s a little like getting a Christmas tree, but with better weather and an utter lack of other, more commercial pressures interfering with the joy of a family outing.
Tri Club practice tomorrow consists of a short swim and a short, slow run.  I plan to do 200 x Swim/Kick/IM/Pull/Swim (SKIPS), followed by a 4-miler at 9:30/mile pace.  Blazing fast that is not.  Still, my friend Ben says he might join me, and I hope that he does.  That at least ought to make the run go by a little faster.
After that, it’s football time.

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