December 1, 2016 Last Updated 7:36 am

Is there a second act for the tablet? Advances in display technology may hold the key

Morning Brief: The price of oil – and of gas – continues to rise, and the media slowly begins to examine who this will benefit; stand for the national anthem if you plan on going to a movie, India’s Supreme Court rules

This new product reminds me very much of what we were seeing just prior to the launch of the iPad. The reMarkable promises to be a new tablet for reading, that also doubles as a writing tablet.

“We’re proud to introduce you to reMarkable, a breakthrough paper tablet for thinkers, readers, note takers, doodlers, idea people — for those of you who, like us, love the uninterrupted freedom from digital distraction that paper provides,” the company announced on its website blog yesterday.


Nate Hoffelder over at The Digital Reader has his doubts about the product, noting that the company appears to have more marketing people on board than engineers. My skepticism is derived from the fact that the company is discounting pre-orders while saying the expected shipping date is not until next August.

skiff-reader-390See the video for an explanation of what reMarkable can supposedly do. But I am reminded of early tablet prototypes that never made their way to market. The Skiff, for instance, was supposed to be the answer to the needs to newspapers to go digital. “The Skiff Reader’s big screen will showcase print media in compelling new ways,” said Gilbert Fuchsberg, president of Skiff, LLC back in January of 2010, days before Apple’s first iPad event. “This is consistent with Skiff’s focus on delivering enhanced reading experiences that engage consumers, publishers and advertisers.”

Enter the iPad, and exit the Skiff. But not before Rupert Murdoch decided to buy the company in the early summer of 2010, and investment about as wise as his purchase of MySpace or his $100 million investment in Theranos, the blood testing startup being investigated for criminal and civil offenses.

But the appearance of a new, monochrome eReader with some impressive claims only goes to show that the need for a digital solution to print remains very much a real issue. Many media reporters were quick to dismiss digital editions, along with the need for any tablets at all, then lay low until we began to see tablet sales fall off, then reclaim victory. But tablet sales have fallen for one good reason: what people did with tablets they began doing on their smartphones. Tablets and eReaders are still selling, though at a much slower pace, and people are still reading digitally. In other words, the market opened up by the Kindle and iPad has not disappeared.


The media has done a pretty horrible job of covering the topic of low oil – and hence gas – prices. The basic, accepted story has been that production remains high because a few countries want it that way and won’t play ball. The consequences of low oil prices have hit the Dakotas, and Venezuela. But it has most effected Russia. Low oil prices has been like a secret war, one where the tables are about to be turned.

Yet the media’s coverage has mostly been about the effect higher gas prices will have on consumers, with CNBC saying ‘don’t worry, be happy.’

Associated Press:

Wall Street Ends Mixed as Oil Prices Soar

In energy, OPEC members finalized a deal that will cut their oil output by 1.2 million barrels a day, about 4.5 percent, starting in January. Preliminary terms of the deal were announced in September. It is the first time in eight years that the cartel has agreed to cut production.

The price of United States crude surged $4.21, or 9.3 percent, to close at $49.44 a barrel in New York, the biggest one-day gain since February. Brent crude, the international benchmark, gained $4.09, or 8.8 percent, to $50.47 a barrel in London.

Crude dropped almost 4 percent Tuesday as investors felt a deal was becoming less likely.

Higher oil prices mean more revenue for companies that extract or sell oil, and energy companies made big gains on Wednesday. Exxon Mobil picked up $1.40, or 1.6 percent, to $87.30, as Chevron rose $2.22, or 2 percent, to $111.56.

Bloomberg, Leonid Bershidsky:

The OPEC Oil Deal Sells Fake News for Real Money

It’s hard to blame Russia for using its propaganda machine to help build a post-fact world when its economy depends on a post-fact market — the oil one. The market’s reaction to news from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries highlights its spurious mechanics.

Bloomberg News reported recently that Russia as a country made $6 billion just by talking to OPEC about cutting its oil output: News about the negotiations drove up the price. Now, Russia has agreed to a cut by 300,000 barrels per day by January “if technically possible.” It looks like a lot — a quarter of the total cut OPEC members have agreed among themselves — but then Russia’s output increased by 520,000 barrels a day between the end of August and the end of October, reaching an absolute record level. Russia has been making money on the increasing price while growing production — the best of both worlds thanks to some deft news manipulation and nothing else. Now, even if Russia cuts output by about 2.7 percent of the current level, as it has promised, it will still reap a profit if the price of crude holds at the current level — about 7 percent higher on Thursday morning than three days before.

I don’t even know what to say about something this ridiculous. Sounds like a law the new Trump administration and Congressional Republicans would think up.

The New York Times, Ellen Barry:

Indian Cinemas Must Play the National Anthem, Supreme Court Rules

India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered movie theaters to play the national anthem before each screening, asserting that doing so would instill “a sense of committed patriotism and nationalism” in Indians.

In an interim order, the bench said that the anthem must be accompanied by images of the Indian flag, and that all present in the hall must stand while it is played…

…The ruling comes slightly more than a month after a man in a wheelchair was struck and harassed by fellow theatergoers for not standing while the national anthem was being played in Panaji, in the western state of Goa.

The man, Salil Chaturvedi, who has played for India in international wheelchair tennis tournaments, complained to the theater’s management. A retelling of the episode was shared widely on social media.

“They didn’t even bother to look at my condition and turned aggressive,” he told The Indian Express. “I said they had no right to touch me, but they wouldn’t listen.”

Decades ago, Indian movie theaters routinely played the national anthem at the end of a movie, but the audience was often filing out by then, and the practice was discontinued.

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