Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday Mad Science: Hydro-Fracking, Chromebooks, and Martha Stewart!

Hydro-Fracking, Chromebooks, and Martha Stewart!  
Yup.  Not a bad week of news if you ask me.

We’ve talked before on this blog about the fact that America has recently developed technology that allows for the extraction of natural gas and oil from shale rock formations, and that with this technology, the U.S. is likely to be energy independent in the not-too-distant future.  That’s good for America because it reduces the country’s dependency on imports, in general, and will thereby reduce the trade deficit, and in a macro-sense, it’ll have the country--at least theoretically--less involved in overseas conflicts.  And it’s good for consumers globally because it’ll lower energy prices.
JUST as the world was writing off America as a declining power, the country now finds itself on the cusp of realizing one of its longstanding goals: energy independence...  By some estimates, the United States is on track to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer as early as 2017, start exporting more oil and gas than it imports by 2025, and achieve full energy self-sufficiency by 2030.
Outside the Middle East, declining global energy prices could have equally destabilizing effects. Russia rode its way out of the post-Soviet doldrums on a wave of rising revenues from oil and natural gas sales. Today, roughly half the country’s 83 regions could not stay afloat without federal aid, which President Vladimir V. Putin has been able to supply generously thanks to huge oil profits.
So, bottom line, I guess your real loser is the Russians.  Their economy hasn’t ever been on the world’s greatest footing, but if the international energy market really does collapse, it’s hard to see how they have anything other than a pretty bleak future.  And considering where they’re coming from, that’s really saying something.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo quietly conceded the 2016 Presidential race this week.  Rumors around New York had pitted him against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in 2016, but it doesn’t seem like that’s gonna happen now.  
Cuomo told supporters that he didn’t think he could beat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination, and that’s no doubt true, but even more than that, it seems like the governor’s stock has been dropping ever since Hurricane Sandy.  That’s just my personal opinion, but from what I’ve read, it seems like the governor’s been running around like a wild man ever since the storm struck--and that’s particularly unfortunate given the way Christie came off during the storm response in a state that’s right next door to New York.
The spire for the new World Trade Center went up this week.  The project had been postponed due to high winds or something earlier in the week, but the NYT put a picture of the new spire going up on its front page today.  
I haven’t been in the City since the spire went up, but even without it, the WTC building was already the tallest building in New York.  Still, it didn’t have anything like the commanding presence that the old Twin Towers used to have.  I could just barely see it from the Park when I rode into work in the mornings, and amidst a forest of skyscrapers, it could be hard to tell exactly which building was which.  That was never a problem before.

I took this picture of 1 World Trade Center last summer from Brooklyn.
The new spire is essentially a radio tower on top of the building, so maybe that’ll make it a little more visible, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.  Well, I’ll probably see it on Monday.  I have no idea when the next time I’ll get a chance to take some pictures of it will be.
I got my Chromebook back from Samsung this week--finally--and boy am I happy to have it back.  I don’t know exactly what went wrong with it, but the fine folks at Samsung replaced the motherboard and one of the other components, so here’s hoping that that’s the end of that.  
I bring it up because news broke this week that Acer and Asus are both readying new Chromebook models, which means, I think, that we can officially call this Chromebook experiment a success.  This news comes at the same time that the tech press has been reporting that sales of computers running Windows 8 are flat (to say the least) while businesses are reportedly trying just to move to Windows 7.  All of which has me wondering if computer makers aren’t getting into the Chromebook game as much to get away from Microsoft as they are to try out what is a new and--at best moderately--exciting concept in the Chromebook.  
I mean, it doesn’t seem like folks know quite what to make of the new concepts involved in WIndows 8, and while the same can be said of the Chromebook as well, the price point on the Chromebook at least makes experimentation with it a little more palatable.
For what it’s worth, I love my Chromebook--just as long as it’s not in the shop.
From PopWatch:
Remember a few days ago when Martha Stewart jokingly said she might want to begin online dating?
Well, the Internet took that and ran with it, and now, it seems, Stewart is 100% interested in meeting guys online. The Facebook page for the magazine Martha Stewart Living has just released two dueling photos of the domestic icon, and have announced fans can vote on which look they prefer. The winning image will be her actual profile picture.
Stewart ran this pair of photos on her Facebook page as part of a
readers' poll to find out which pic she should use for her dating profile.
I think I like the yellow, personally.
I don’t know, this seems like product placement to me.  Either Martha wants to get her name back out there in the public eye, and this is a cheap but effective--though ridiculous--way to do it, or she’s got some kind of backdoor marketing agreement with Match.Com to help them promote themselves using her image.  Or maybe both.  Regardless, it defies logic to think that she’s gonna wanna meet some “regular guy” via online dating.
And that’s all I’ve got this week, except to say that I took the day off today, so that I could go for a nice long bike ride with my beautiful bride.  We’ve also got tickets to see Iron Man 3 tonight, so I’ll be sure to let you know how that was.  
Sally’s actually excited about it!

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