EVOLUTION – THE VIEW FROM DC

Bush endorses ‘intelligent design’
Contends theory should be taught with evolution
By Ron Hutcheson, Knight Ridder | August 2, 2005

President Bush waded into the debate over evolution and ”intelligent design” yesterday, saying schools should teach both theories on the creation and complexity of life.

In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session with a small group of reporters, Bush essentially endorsed efforts by Christian conservatives to give intelligent design equal standing with the theory of evolution in the nation’s schools. . . .

Ah, that Republican leadership.

You may be pleased to know that our Secretary of Education holds the same view. Can our country’s competitive future be anything but bright?

EVOLUTION – THE VIEW FROM OKLAHOMA

Editorial
The New York Times
July 10, 2005
It’s All Happening at the Tulsa Zoo

Christian creationists won too much of a victory for their own good in Tulsa, where the local zoo was ordered to balance its evolution science exhibit with a display extolling the Genesis account of God’s creating the universe from nothing in six days. A determined creationist somehow talked three of the four zoo directors, including Mayor Bill LaFortune, into the addition by arguing that a statue of the elephant-headed god Ganesh at the elephant house amounted to an anti-Christian bias toward Hinduism.

After the inevitable backlash from bewildered taxpayers warning that Tulsa would be dismissed as a science backwater, the directors “clarified” their vote to say they intended no monopoly for the Adam and Eve tale but rather wanted “six or seven” creation myths afforded equal time. There was the rub: there are hundreds of creation tales properly honored by the world’s multifarious cultures, starting with the American Indian tribes around Tulsa.

You want creationism? How about the Cherokee buzzard that gouged the valleys and mountains? And why should Chinese-Americans tolerate neglect of P’an Ku and the cosmic egg at the zoo, or Norse descendants not speak up for Audhumla, the giant cow?

The futility of this exercise was emphatically made clear last week when a crowd of critics demanded reconsideration. With the speed of the Mayan jaguar sun god, zoo directors reversed themselves, realizing they had opened a Pandora’s box (which see). In stumbling upon so many worthy cosmogonies, Tulsa did us all a favor by underlining how truly singular the evolution explanation is, rooted firmly in scientific demonstration.

Second thoughts are a creative characteristic of Homo sapiens, and the Tulsa Zoo directors did well by theirs. They were fortunate to have Ganesh, known to true believers as the remover of obstacles and the god of harmony, on the grounds.

BOREALIS

Richard F: ‘The fact that Boeing is even willing to try using the electric motor is certainly encouraging. But the Reuters news account I read is singularly free of technical details. For example: How fast can the aircraft taxi on electric power? How much weight does the electric motor assembly add to the aircraft? These facts are vital to the viability of the project. If the motor can only provide enough power for ‘pushback’ from the gate, then it is really only valuable for a small amount of labor saving, while you have the weight contribution for the entire flight. Additional weight is what causes high fuel usage! Only if it can drive the airplane fast enough to taxi without all the other aircraft blowing their horns on the tarmac will the fuel saving on the ground more than compensate for the extra weight during the entire flight. Also, remember, the electric power to run this motor has to come from somewhere. Extension cord? Someone would have to unplug it. Batteries? Much too heavy. I’ve got it! Let’s get power where we always do – from the jet engine! (I’m being facetious – maybe the APU [auxiliary power unit, a small turbine engine in itself] might be sufficient.) Landing gear assemblies are complicated and expensive and only appear simple. Adding an electric motor to make them self-propelled is not as easy as it sounds. Unless the motor is capable of more than very slow speed taxiing, I think you’ll find that the expense and relatively marginal utility will relegate it to an ‘option’ on aircraft that make a lot of short flights to poorly staffed airports. None of which is to say I shouldn’t have bought the stock when you first recommended it at $3.’

☞ Thanks, Richard! I don’t think Boeing would have gone as far with this as they have if they hadn’t thought about these issues.

I, too, had first imagined a system of extension cords (vying for outlets with travelers waiting at the gate to recharge their cell phones). But as I understand it, the power will indeed come from the APU.

And might not the motor’s added weight be offset by not having to carry fuel to run the engines on the ground? Fuel is heavy, too.

The real problem as I see it is: how do you get the pilots to be able to hear the honking on the runway. The horns will have to be VERY loud, and that could raise environmental concerns.

Joseph Sermonsky: ‘Do you really believe it could go to $100?’

☞ Yep.

One of the problems people have in making rational decisions in the stock market is that they too often look at share price without asking, ‘how many shares?’ To the average person, a $100 stock sounds more expensive than a $3 stock. But that’s ridiculous. If the first company is divided into a million shares, it is selling for $100 million ($100 times a million shares). If the second is divided into 10 billion shares (like, say, Microsoft), it is selling for 300 times as much – $30 billion ($3 times 10 billion). (Or $280 billion for Microsoft’s 10.7 billion shares at $26 each.)

Share price is only what you get after guesstimating what the overall enterprise might be worth and then dividing by the number of shares it’s divided into.

So Joseph’s question really is: might the market value Borealis at $500 million?

It sounds like a staggeringly large number and in many senses is. But it’s still just the cost of a single ritzy hotel, say. Or two or three jumbo jets. If you had your choice between owning two or three jumbo jets, on the one hand, or a set of patented technologies that you thought just might have huge industrial ramifications across the globe in the decades to come – which would you choose?

Personally, I’d choose the jets. A $500 million bird in the hand is worth billions in the bush. Who of us needs more than $500 million? I’d sell two of the jets and use that cash to pay the cost of living in the third. Would that not be cool? Can you imagine the parties? And never having to be on standby for upgrades?

But say you were CEO of Microsoft, with $37 billion in cash to invest. Which would you choose: the jets or the technologies? Or say you were ‘Mr. Market’ as a whole, with trillions of dollars to invest – which would you choose?

My guess is that a lot of investors would go for the jets but a lot of others would gamble on the technologies. So that at a $500 million market valuation – $100 a share – you might have some people selling to take their bird in the hand but others buying to take their gamble on what could be an even bigger return.

Imagine, as I noted yesterday, Borealis someday becoming one-third as valuable as the Wrigley Gum company. I’m not saying I expect it. I’m not saying it will ever happen. But to me, it is at least conceivable. And that would put the share price of Borealis not at $100, but $1,000.

So yes, I think people may well gamble $100 a share in hope of $1,000.

Clearly, even at $10 or $20 a share, let alone $100, this is speculative. See yesterday’s caveats, and be particularly fearful of the ones I didn’t include. It’s the risks we don’t see coming that often bite the worst. (Here’s one I forgot: the company’s top scientists being killed in a car crash.) But I continue to think this is one amazing lottery ticket – and in some senses a better bet at $15 than it was at $3. At $3, we really had no idea if the company was real or could actually succeed at anything. Now, we know it managed to move an Air Canada 767 around the tarmac like a golf cart. That’s a hard thing to fake.

DAILY DELIVERY

I clicked the ‘Q-Page’ button at the bottom of this page just to see what it would do – and darned if it didn’t cause my column to be delivered to myself – free! – every morning at 6am. In case you want to receive it this way, too, it apparently requires just a single click. (What will they think of next?)

 

Comments are closed.