Today is a holiday.
But just in case you came here from force of habit, let me tell you why last week’s House and Senate votes – which put us on the cusp of allowing gays and lesbians to die for their country (and to translate Arabic chatter) – are relevant to remembering our fallen heroes.
The people we honor today died to keep us free.
All of us.
The original – and truly revolutionary – notion being, in its purest form (which we have yet fully to perfect), that we are all born equally deserving of opportunity and respect, even if we’re black or white, Catholic or Hindu, tall or short, male or female, gay, straight, or transgender.
That last – transgender – seems particularly foreign to most people, who have no transgender relatives, pals, or co-workers. But once you do have a few, guess what? Some are lovely and funny and you’re really happy to see them. Some are obnoxious and boring and you’d just as soon they sat at a different table. Just as with any other category of people.
Anyway, tomorrow is the start of Gay Pride month. Here is how the President set the frame:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 28, 2010
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
As Americans, it is our birthright that all people are created equal and deserve the same rights, privileges, and opportunities. Since our earliest days of independence, our Nation has striven to fulfill that promise. An important chapter in our great, unfinished story is the movement for fairness and equality on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. This month, as we recognize the immeasurable contributions of LGBT Americans, we renew our commitment to the struggle for equal rights for LGBT Americans and to ending prejudice and injustice wherever it exists.
LGBT Americans have enriched and strengthened the fabric of our national life. From business leaders and professors to athletes and first responders, LGBT individuals have achieved success and prominence in every discipline. They are our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters, and our friends and neighbors. Across my Administration, openly LGBT employees are serving at every level. Thanks to those who came before us — the brave men and women who marched, stood up to injustice, and brought change through acts of compassion or defiance — we have made enormous progress and continue to strive for a more perfect union.
My Administration has advanced our journey by signing into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which strengthens Federal protections against crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation. We renewed the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides life-saving medical services and support to Americans living with HIV/AIDS, and finally eliminated the HIV entry ban. I also signed a Presidential Memorandum directing hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds to give LGBT patients the compassion and security they deserve in their time of need, including the ability to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions.
In other areas, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a series of proposals to ensure core housing programs are open to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. HUD also announced the first-ever national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of housing. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services has created a National Resource Center for LGBT Elders.
Much work remains to fulfill our Nation’s promise of equal justice under law for LGBT Americans. That is why we must give committed gay couples the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple, and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. We must protect the rights of LGBT families by securing their adoption rights, ending employment discrimination against LGBT Americans, and ensuring Federal employees receive equal benefits. We must create safer schools so all our children may learn in a supportive environment. I am also committed to ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” so patriotic LGBT Americans can serve openly in our military, and I am working with the Congress and our military leadership to accomplish that goal.
As we honor the LGBT Americans who have given so much to our Nation, let us remember that if one of us is unable to realize full equality, we all fall short of our founding principles. Our Nation draws its strength from our diversity, with each of us contributing to the greater whole. By affirming these rights and values, each American benefits from the further advancement of liberty and justice for all.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2010 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.
NBIX THE OPPOSITE OF BOREF
As you know, I like both these $4 stocks – albeit only with money you can truly afford to lose. The difference (in my mind, which shrinks with every passing year) is that BOREF is a lottery ticket whose odds are 2 out of 3 of total loss – but 1 chance in 3 of an eventual 25-fold gain . . . high risk, sky-high return . . . whereas with NBIX the odds of losing it all may be just 1 in 3, with a 2 out of 3 chance of a triple or quintuple.
Note that if these pulled-out-of-the-air odds are fair estimates (which there is no way of knowing), that still leaves nearly 1 chance in 4 that both will fail. So even if both are smart bets to take with money you can truly afford to lose, you really might lose that money.
Borealis has a whole portfolio of patents and a frozen wasteland of alleged Arctic mineral wealth. But looking only at its WheelTug business, there’s growing reason to think the technology can be successfully commercialized. One can easily see how that success, if realized, could make Borealis worth $500 million, 25 times its current $20 million valuation (5 million shares at $4 each). Indeed, one could start dreaming much bigger – dreaming is basically what Borealis management has been doing for the 11 years I’ve been reading its projections – but I’m happy to start with a 25-fold gain.
As to the downside, I’ll admit that, in my heart of hearts, I assume there will always be some value, and some hope in this speculation. So maybe you really wouldn’t lose everything if you went to sell your 200 shares – some fresh speculator might be willing to pay a few bucks for the dream just as you are finally giving up.
But the downside is certainly real. For one thing, it appears there are powerful players out there not keen to see WheelTug succeed, whether because they hope to reap the profits themselves (did Antonio Meucci or Elisha Gray want to see Alexander Graham Bell succeed?), or because they hate not having come up with the solution themselves, or perhaps even because – by extending the life of aircraft engines and decreasing the number of incidents of ‘foreign object debris damage’ – fewer aircraft might be sold and fewer invoices sent for repair. For another, WheelTug just might not work.
By contrast, with NBIX, big players do want to see success, and will likely be bidding for the right to market its drug. That’s how the business works. Small companies develop drugs which are then sold in partnership with giant drug companies.
There’s still the chance NBIX will not succeed in Phase III trials – but the phase II data were so good, my guru thinks the chance of that is low.
And there’s the chance some miracle will emerge from left field that cures endometriosis – but, given all the FDA hurdles new drugs and therapies are required to clear, NBIX would likely at least have a decent head start.
So maybe the chance of total loss is even less than 1 in 3. (Who knows?) As for the upside, what I like . . .[famous last words ON] is what might be called the ‘inevitability edge.'[OFF] By which I mean the market’s tendency not to focus on the inevitable until it is really on the verge of happening.
(Which is the opposite of the market’s tendency to get carried away with unlikely hopes – like the hope that all those dot com’s in 2000 could have become Amazon and eBay, so all of them were worth 70 times hoped-for earnings).
This is a very human characteristic . . . to ignore global warming, to put off saving for retirement (even though warming and aging are all but inevitable) . . . or, as I hope is the case with NBIX, to take a bird in the hand instead of two in the bush even when the two in the bush have little chains on their ankles and can’t fly away. There’s always the chance someone might come along in the middle of the night and saw off their chains. There’s always the chance the housing bubble might never have burst and the shares of related companies might never have plunged. But really, anyone betting against the housing stocks that have since crashed was profiting from the inevitability edge.
It’s these two conflicting irrationalities – a market that errs on the side of blind enthusiasm or a market that won’t accept something as real until it’s three feet away – that can provide opportunity, whether it be buying puts on unrealistic hopes, or – I hope – waiting patiently as NBIX gets approval for its drug, which seems all but inevitable, and then watching women choose to take a pill at home instead of having to go to the doctor for a painful injection, which seems likely, too. From there you can just do the math, and the profits justify a much higher valuation for NBIX.
But NBIX was $70 four years ago, so there are an awful lot of investors who hate it for all the money they lost as it fell to $2. And 2012, or whenever the profits might start flowing, is still quite a ways off, and there are other more immediate opportunities . . . so, well, if NBIX is undervalued at $4, this may help explain why.