The Most Interesting Man

I don’t drink beer very often, but when I do …


That probably brings to mind the person who just retired this week as the pitch man for Dos Equis.  The ads almost always feature beautiful women draped on his shoulder, implying of course that if you drink that beer women will find you attractive.  Silly for sure, but iconic.

In tribute to him, I found the top 100 things he claimed … just for fun.  Knowing you don’t have time to read all 100, I have broken the list into bite size pieces for your enjoyment over the next few weeks. Enjoy!

  1.  He gave his father “the talk”
  2.  His passport requires no photograph
  3.  When he drives a car off the lot, its price increases in value
  4.  Once a rattlesnake bit him, after 5 days of excruciating pain, the snake finally died
  5.  His Cinco de Mayo party starts on the 8th of March
  6.  His feet don’t get blisters, but his shoes do
  7.  He once went to the psychic, to warn her
  8.  If he were to punch you in the face you would have to fight off a strong urge to thank him
  9. Whatever side of the tracks he’s currently on is the right side, even if he crosses the tracks he’ll still be on the right side
  10. He can speak Russian… in French
  11. He never says something tastes like chicken … not even chicken
  12. Superman has pajamas with his logo
  13. His tears can cure cancer, too bad he never cries
  14. The circus ran away to join him
  15. Bear hugs are what he gives bears
  16. He once brought a knife to a gunfight… just to even the odds
  17. When he meets the Pope, the Pope kisses his ring
  18. His friends call him by his name, his enemies don’t call him anything because they are all dead
  19. He has never waited 15 minutes after finishing a meal before returning to the pool
  20. If he were to visit the dark side of the moon, it wouldn’t be dark
  21. He once won a staring contest with his own reflection
  22. He can kill two stones with one bird
  23. His signature won a Pulitzer
  24. When a tree falls in a forest and no one is there, he hears it
  25. He once got pulled over for speeding, and the cop got the ticket
  26. The dark is afraid of him
  27. Sharks have a week dedicated to him
  28. His ten gallon hat holds twenty gallons
  29. No less than 25 Mexican folk songs have been written about his beard
  30. He once made a weeping willow laugh


gladiatorI have now concluded that politics and the news cycle have nothing to do with reality.  It is all about theater and spectacle.  It reminds me a bit about what I believe might have happened in the time of the ancient Romans when the Emperor used gladiators to keep the populace entertained … kind of like the TV wrestling matches except with a lot more physical harm to the participants.

According to Wikipedia, a gladiator (from the Latin: gladiator, “swordsman,” from gladius, “sword”) was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. Some gladiators were volunteers who risked their lives and their legal and social standing by appearing in the arena. Most were despised as slaves, schooled under harsh conditions, socially marginalized, and segregated even in death.  That seems to match up well with our presidential candidates now doesn’t it?

Irrespective of their origin, gladiators offered spectators an example of Rome’s martial ethics and, in fighting or dying well; they could inspire admiration and popular acclaim. They were celebrated in high and low art, and their value as entertainers was commemorated in precious and commonplace objects throughout the Roman world.  The movie Gladiator starring Russel Crow certainly lived up to this description.

The origin of gladiatorial combat is open to debate. When Susan, Stephen, and I visited Rome, the tour guide’s claim was that there were many factors leading to the practice.  Wealthy people would fund an event to gain favor with the people and the political leadership … kind of like attending Distributech where some of the booths had their own zip codes.  The funniest tidbit our guide shared as we toured the Coliseum was her answer to my question about how they funded the construction.  She explained that attending was almost always free, but there was a charge for going to the bathroom.

We saw the same when we visited Greece two years prior to that.  Paying to go funded a lot back then.  Maybe we should revisit this concept.  In the US, bathrooms are almost always free.  That was not the case in Europe.  Seems like the basic bodily functions might be the key to funding our economic recovery.  Just a thought.

The gladiator games lasted for nearly a thousand years, reaching their peak between the 1st century BC and the 2nd century AD. The games finally declined during the early 5th century after the adoption of Christianity as the state church of the Roman Empire in 380.  Perhaps we are now seeing the reemergence of the games.  The weapons have changed of course.  And, the pen is mightier than the sword for sure, but does a joust using words truly provide entertainment here?  Worse yet, what damage will it leave in its wake?  Lots of dead bodies I fear.

Worse yet, these events aren’t free.  They are terribly costly.  I have to stop … got to go …


Eye in the Sky

eyeintheskyI was scanning the Wall Street Journal as I do most mornings and this movie announcement struck me as interesting and a strange parallel to where we are in the energy industry on a host of levels. At first, it would appear to be just another movie about our battle with terrorists … but, I see it is the much bigger set of questions it raises. Since it hasn’t been released, it is hard to know whether the trailer represents the fullness of what it portends. Take a look for yourself and decide: Click here to view the trailer.

newtThe line in the trailer I believe will prove profound is There is a lot more at stake than what you see in this image.” Even without seeing the movie, it reminds me of the child “Newt” in the movie Aliens who when interviewed by Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) wants to go back to her hiding place. Ripley assures her “These people are here to protect you. They are soldiers.” To which Newt responds, “It won’t make any difference.” This movie is all about underestimating your enemy. Eye in the Sky appears to be more about the moral and political questions raised by modern warfare using drones and surgical weapons.

I scanned some of the reviews of the film and believe I am on target with my recommendation for those in the energy industry to see it, and for the reasons mentioned. Forget about the acting abilities and even the plot details. Think about the basic moral and political questions it raises here.

For example, when do optics matter more than long-term strategy? Is there such a thing as acceptable collateral damage, especially when it is a small girl we are talking about? Does our modern wealth of electronics and video imaging capability raise a new set of questions we frankly have not thought through?

If I haven’t been provocative enough, think specifically about the new world of personal information we are witnessing. We can’t stop the ever-increasing levels of the Internet of Things, which is making so much about us evident, available, quantifiable, and potentially valuable for creative solutions. However, have we thought through this new world of potential moral hazards?

I don’t think so. Very scary. But, it is a new world where we need to make a difference for the good, while we thoughtfully consider how to minimize collateral damage.

If You Will


Have you heard people use this phrase recently? It is normally said to politely invite a listener or reader to consider something that is unusual or fanciful. The basic idea here is to soften the potential harshness of the way the conversation might otherwise sound. How gracious!

Contrast this with the news we hear each day. It seems that this form of political correctness has lost its favor with the average American. In fact, “telling it like it is” now trumps diplomacy and grace … pun intended. Today, it seems that bluster and shock therapy have taken center stage. And, if I accidentally or deliberately made you uncomfortable … well … I am not even sorry anymore.

This kind of reminds me of a Lucy phrase in the Charlie Brown series: If you can’t be right, be wrong at the top of your voice!” Ironically, some people seem to be able to get away with it. And, this reminded me of another phrase: “We can win the battle but lose the war.” Boy, we are in just such a potential place right now …

That raised my curiosity, and I researched where that phrase came from, which proved quite interesting. According to Wikipedia, it emanates from what is called a Pyrrhic victory. It is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has been victorious in some way. However, the heavy toll negates any sense of achievement or profit. Another term for this would be “hollow victory.”

The phrase Pyrrhic victory is named after king Pyrrhus of Epirus, whose army suffered irreplaceable casualties in defeating the Romans at Heraclea in 280 BC and Asculum in 279 BC during the Pyrrhic War. After the latter battle the armies separated; and Pyrrhus lamented that what gave him joy in his victory would utterly undo him because he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him. There were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war.

The term is used as an analogy in fields such as business, politics, and sports to describe struggles that end up ruining the victor. Some recent actions on the subject of feed-in tariffs and solar incentives seem squarely in the spotlight here. Yes, the industry has to realign incentives and rates to reflect the realities of where the solar economics seem to be right now, but I do fear we are headed for a Pyrrhic victory.


Uber DR Power

ID-10043682I am certainly glad I am not a taxicab company right now.  The whole idea of Uber cutting me out of the transportation business would make me a bit crazy.  And, even if I chose to copy them, the disruption to my business would be devastating … too much change and way too quickly.

Why do conventional players in the power industry not think this is going to happen to them?  Why don’t I hear people wondering how to tap into this newfound source of low cost and flexible time and talent?  I guess, when you are the incumbent, it is pretty easy to rely on denial as your first line of defense.

I love the quip: “Denial is not a river in Egypt.”  It is also attributed to Mark Twain. It has an allure for sure, but what I notice is that it promotes intellectual laziness and that can never be a good thing for our long-term wellbeing.

Yes, I agree with the phrase don’t sweat the small stuff, but I fear the Uber business model is not small stuff.

What if there was a secondary market of people willing to do seemingly draconian things in their own life who could then sell their demand response to others who otherwise were under contractual requirements to respond to DR signals? Might this deepen the resource?  Might this lower the overall costs for all market participants?

Oh, that’s right; I forgot … not everyone wants lower prices for DR in the markets. Traditional taxicab companies tried to sue to stop Uber around the world and here at home.  Seems like that almost always backfires.  Embracing changes like Uber are very scary and highly disruptive.

You be the judge. Doing nothing can be a very bad decision. It is taking a position … right in the middle of the road of change. You are almost sure to get run over by someone going in either direction.