Friday, November 21, 2014

5 Things on a Friday: The New Dance is a Chicken Dance

If you came looking for the new Faith No More song, then I'm afraid you're bound to be disppointed.  But don't worry.  I've got something even better!

Let's do this.
“Ahead of an OPEC meeting in Vienna next week, there are some contradictory theories about why Saudi Arabia is content to keep oil cheap for the time being. One is that the Saudis want to nip the U.S. oil boom in the bud. American shale oil is more expensive to produce and needs high prices to remain competitive. As one analyst put it when the kingdom cut prices for U.S. customers earlier this month, ‘the Saudis have basically declared war on the U.S. oil producers.’
But there’s a competing narrative, or ‘conspiracy theory’ if you prefer, that the Saudis are waging war in cooperation with the United States, against their mutual enemies Russia and Iran.
The problem with this analysis is that there’s no “or” here.  The Saudis have the largest production capacity, and they are using it to control the market.  That’s it.  Oil production is their niche in the global economy.  They are using market power to defend their position.  That is not news, nor should it come as a surprise.  Nor, for that matter, is it the first time they’ve done it.  Their actions may well be the final proof of the success of American production—the market leader has had to take steps to bring its new competitor under control—but that’s still not telling us anything we didn’t already know.
The Saudis would ALSO like to punish the Iranians and marginalize the Iranian position in the global economy going forward.  They would ALSO like to punish Russia.  So what?  They have three reasons for taking one action, none of which are mutually exclusive.
What’s nice is that someone else’s market actions are generally beneficial for Americans—for once—without actually costing us anything.  Granted, domestic petroleum producers probably don’t love the drop in prices, but hey, it’s not that big a deal.  America still needs shale gas, and the well-heads are more-or-less adjacent to each other.  I doubt there’s anybody in this country who’s losing big because the Saudis have decided to take lower prices for their primary product.  I could be wrong, but even if I am, that’s the free market, right?  Besides, there’s little doubt that the drop in prices will have broadly beneficial effects, so at this point, I’m hoping that what we’ve seen is the new status quo.
“Tuesday night, New York City switched on its newest attraction, a mammoth digital billboard spanning nearly the length of a football field.
The screen, the largest in North America, stands eight stories high and features 24 million LED pixels that endow it with a resolution which bests even top of the line high-definition television sets.”
I haven’t seen this yet, but it might be worth a subway ride at lunch just to get a look.  I’ll have to wait until later in the year, though.  I do not want to fight the crowds at Times Square without a reason.
3.  China's Chicken Dance
I don't even know where to start with this...

If that's not enough to get you going, I don't know what to tell you.

“With the new Facebook Groups app, you can easily organize your groups so that the most used ones appear at the top of the launch page. It is also much easier to jump into a group and communicate and then jump over to another group. In the Facebook app itself, groups appear within your News Feed so communication is not as distinct as within the Groups app.”
I’m already using it, and I like it okay.  It is much easier to manage Group communications without a doubt, but there’s no PUSH notification system yet, so you still wind up popping into Facebook proper in order to see who responded to what.  That’s not a huge deal, but I’d vastly prefer Groups have its own PUSH notifications.  We use Groups to organize my triathlon club, and those conversations often happen in near real-time on practice days.  
By contrast, I’d just as soon pick my spots with the Facebook Newsfeed.  I mean, yeah, I love all of your baby pictures and the articles about your kid’s championship football team and the stuff from Army Times and Doctrine Man!—I really do love that stuff—but it can wait.  Whereas organizing tri practices is more along the lines of actually being important.  I don’t get paid for it, but I still think of it as “work”.
5. Google's moonshot that missed (Chicago Tribune)
The latest bad news for Google's dreams of putting a computer on every face came on Friday, when Reuters reported that the company no longer plans to release its smart glasses to the public in 2014. At this point, it has no official timetable for a consumer launch.
I’ve never used Glass, but I feel pretty good about saying that Google is missing the point with the current incarnation of its heads-up display.  They’re trying to market it as a smart visor for interacting with airports and cityscapes, and maybe it will be that eventually.  What it needs to be now, however, is a heads-up display that allows runners and cyclists to track pace, distance, and heart rate in real-time without breaking strike.  Why?  Because GPS watches are fine, but you still have to look down at your wrist to see how you’re performing, and that act by itself is detrimental to your stride.  
Nevertheless, I find myself doing it constantly.  
I don’t see any way around it.  The whole point of running with a heart rate monitor is to run a consistent and challenging workout without going above your target heart rate.  For me, that means keeping my heart rate between 140 and 145 beats per minute (bpm), which is tough to do without consistent, continuous feedback.  Granted, it’s not always important to be that exacting and precise, but sometimes it is, especially on longer runs.  You grow your aerobic capacity by running aerobically over time.  However, maintaining the right pace without sort of loafing along for hours at a time is easier said than done.
There’s a niche here, and Google could fill it.  I doubt they’d move many fitness glasses for $1500 a pair, but fitness wearables are all the rage, and fit folk tend to have money.  It seems like a win-win to me.

That's all I got.  Go Army!  Beat Fordham!

Have a good weekend.


  1. Is the the HUD you're looking for?