Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Time to Sell Google?

According to Winds of Change, it might be time to short Google:

Google got a lot of publicity from their latest RE<C renewable energy initiative, but my first reaction upon hearing it was "short the stock." Companies are not good at everything; indeed, they tend to be good only in rather narrow spheres. When you start hearing a company claim otherwise, be cautious. If their claims seem unbelievable or are explicitly based on nothing (except ego or "we have a lot of smart people here") - run. The last company to sell that line was Enron.

I'm worried about a different aspect: Why don't they mention nuclear energy? I've looked at their press release and the web site describing this initiative but saw nothing about nukes. After all, nukes are even closer to competing with coal, and they're likely to retain any advantage even if the population grows. (BTW, when they say “cheaper than coal,” are they including the cost of the land occupied by solar collectors?) They don't even criticize nuclear, leaving that to fans. Are there debates behind the scenes we don't know about?

It's possible to make a case that nuclear energy “isn't necessary.” If Google rejects nuclear energy on that ground, it's as though they had a mouse infestation problem and controlled it by acquiring brown cats, yellow cats, and gray cats. (Black cats aren't necessary.) Black cats might not be necessary to control mice, but if they're excluded, one might wonder what other superstitions are being taken seriously.

But wait, there's more. At the “Googleplex” of company restaurants, we find the following:

They took me to Pure Ingredient Cafe, which, in the words of the Google Cafe Map, is "a journey towards pure, clean, additive and chemical free food and beverage." Like the other cafes I visited, Pure Ingredient was a smallish cafeteria open to any Googler who felt like stopping in for a bite. It was the day before Thanksgiving, the trays sparkled in the bright colors of the Google logo and a line of hungry cyberproles formed just after noon.

I'd be really dubious about investing in a supposed tech firm where people can use the phrase “chemical free food” without laughing. It would be like voting for a Creationist.

In possibly related news, Scientific American ran an article on raising smart kids. It's very important to prevent them from believing that having brains excuses one from using them.

On the other hand, given my recent track record, it might turn out that Google has a nuclear-research arm after all and the “chemical free food” is only served to journalists.


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