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Off-Balance Sheet: What Does Boeing Have Against Jamming?


Is Phish really a threat to society?


Relax, it's only money.

Here in the 'Ville we like to keep things smart, but we also love to laugh. All work and no know how it goes. With that in mind we proudly introduce The "Off-Balance Sheet," a place where Minyans can experience humorous takes on the world of finance, personal stories from our Professors and Minyans and all the other stuff that makes life worth living. So take a break from the flickering ticks and dive in.

Boeing Co.
(BA) is offering to install advanced anti-jamming technology on some future commercial satellites for the first time, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

"Some of our customers are looking for technology to potentially reduce the threat of jamming," said Craig Cooning, deputy general manager of Boeing's Space and Intelligence Systems unit. "Inevitably, we're going to see more jamming in the future."

"The threat of jamming?" Does this mean jamming will be blocked on satellite radio, like XM (XMSR) and Sirius (SIRI)? If so, will Boeing's anti-jamming technology spread to other media delivery formats, like mp3 and compact discs? Perhaps the deeper question at hand is why Boeing is leading the charge against jamming? Is legendary jam band Phish dangerous to society? Is the String Cheese Incident just a homegrown al-Qaeda in tie-dye? What will this mean for the annual Jammy Awards? Or the Bonnaroo festival? Or for Ratdog fans?

In 1984, the Kevin Bacon vehicle "Footloose" was released. It told the story of Ren, a teenager who moves to a small town that has banned dancing and rock music, and was loosely based on events that took place in the tiny, rural farming community of Elmore City, Oklahoma. Didn't we learn anything from Footloose? Were we not made aware of the dangers associated with prohibiting free expression in American society? Jam bands may not be to everyone's individual taste; the Zen Tricksters aren't on my iPod, but I can't fathom the idea of denying somebody else their own personal pleasures. Take a look at the graphic below. Do we really want our country to become the next Cuba?

Isn't Happy Better Than Angry?

Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead once described jamming as "intuitive improvisational music." Jam bands play upbeat, happy music for upbeat, happy neo-hippies. Does this seem to be any more of a "threat" than, say, the dark, satanic stylings of Norwegian death metal band Mayhem? Allow me to present a portion of the lyrics from Mayhem's "Witching Hour":

Unveil the pentagram,
And feel the demon's lust,
Come watch the holy men,
Who look on in disgust,
Come taste blood,
And feel the heat of satan's breath,
Look in the sky's and see,
The warriors of death,
All hell breaks loose,
Hell's breaking loose,
Witching hour.

And those are the tamest Mayhem lyrics I was able to find. Everything else was so profoundly horrific and sacrilegious, I was unable to sufficiently clean it up for public consumption, even after extremely heavy editing.

What Do The Experts Say?

Enough about jam bands, death metal, and Boeing's misguided plans to rid the world of jamming. I scheduled an appointment with Minyanville's own Kevin Depew for his perspective on Boeing. After waiting patiently at Kevin's desk for the better part of two hours, one of the other staffers on the editorial desk finally tracked him down at an OTB parlor down the street from the office.

Sorry I'm late. You wanted to talk about bowling?

No, Boeing. Apparently, they're offering anti-jamming technology for the first time, and-

I thought they had a guy to take care of that.

A guy to take care of what?

You know, you press a button at the scorer's table and some guy comes down and unjams the ball or the pins or whatever.

No, I'm talking about Boeing. The aerospace company.

Boeing? Why would they be involved? Each alley has a person that deals with it when your ball gets jammed.

Forget bowling. Pretend bowling doesn't even exist.

That's exactly my point, Justin. Bowling peaked 30 years ago. Boeing should stick to making airplanes and satellites.

Satellites-that's it. Good. Hold that thought. Hold it for just one second so I can ask a question about satellites. Satellites. Satellites.

Okay…satellites. What of 'em?

Alright, the Wall Street Journal this morning said Boeing-that's Boeing, not bowling- is going to offer anti-jamming technology for the first time on commercial satellites they make. My question is this: is that a big deal in terms of owning the company's stock, or is it much ado about nothing?

Actually, it is kind of noteworthy. Boeing acquired Hughes back in 2000, which was then the world's largest commercial satellite company. One of the reasons for the acquisition was to lessen the impact of cyclical ups and downs in the company's airliner business.

Got it.

Now, the problem for Boeing since the Hughes acquisition-problem being a relative issue since the stock is up 48% since then-is that the commercial satellite program pretty much failed to live up to expectations and was largely abandoned. It hasn't mattered only because the airline and defense segments have been so strong, but the fact that Boeing is working on commercial satellite differentiators like anti-jamming technology is, I think, pretty telling. Perhaps management sees a cyclical downturn coming in the commercial aviation segment.

Uh…I don't…I…I'm not sure what to say.

I'm sorry, was that answer too convoluted?

No, no, that's just it. It wasn't convoluted at all. I…uh…I guess I just didn't expect to get an intelligible answer from you for some reason, you know, based on our previous conversations.

Tomato and cardboard hairdryer, whisker paperclip.

I'm sorry?

It's those damn squirrels again…they won't give me a moment's worth of peace. Eyelid chinstrap, yes cantaloupe. Bless you.

I didn't sneeze.

Bo and Luke Duke.


You heard me, looney tunes. Riding mower, orange juice electric.

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