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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Technology Investor. Harry Newton Previous Columns
9:00 AM EDT, Thursday, September 10, 2009: I nibbled at some American Express (AXP). And I like BHP Billiton (BHP). STEC is up so strongly, I'd take some profits. BYDDF, a leading Chinese maker or electric cars and one of Buffett's investments continues to rise.

But I'm bereft of more investment ideas, since I've been playing and watching tennis. My best news is that I'm down to 175 lbs, which is pretty good for a 6' 1", 67-year old. I feel the best I've felt in years.

Federer is magic. Pity about Melanie.

Seeking Alpha is a useful site: Which sites do you visit each morning? Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance, the New York Times business and personal finance sections, . Add to those sites SeekingAlpha. For one, it's much more investment focussed and second, it's much broader, with many more articles. It relies on unpaid contributors, many of whom hold positions in the stocks the contributors are touting. For the site, click here.

Universal health-care is going to happen: That much I'm certain. As to what the details will be and how it's going to be paid for remains way uncertain. Obama laid out his overriding principles last night. His speech is worth reading. Several points I found interesting:

Now, even if we provide these affordable options, there may be those – particularly the young and healthy – who still want to take the risk and go without coverage. There may still be companies that refuse to do right by their workers. The problem is, such irresponsible behavior costs all the rest of us money. If there are affordable options and people still don't sign up for health insurance, it means we pay for those people's expensive emergency room visits. If some businesses don't provide workers health care, it forces the rest of us to pick up the tab when their workers get sick, and gives those businesses an unfair advantage over their competitors. And unless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek – especially requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions – just can't be achieved.

That's why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance – just as most states require you to carry auto insurance. Likewise, businesses will be required to either offer their workers health care, or chip in to help cover the cost of their workers. There will be a hardship waiver for those individuals who still cannot afford coverage, and 95% of all small businesses, because of their size and narrow profit margin, would be exempt from these requirements. But we cannot have large businesses and individuals who can afford coverage game the system by avoiding responsibility to themselves or their employees. Improving our health care system only works if everybody does their part.

While there remain some significant details to be ironed out, I believe a broad consensus exists for the aspects of the plan I just outlined: consumer protections for those with insurance, an exchange that allows individuals and small businesses to purchase affordable coverage, and a requirement that people who can afford insurance get insurance.

For the entire speech, click here.

Logical words on credit cards: Don't buy things you can't afford. If we all followed that simply philosophy, half our banks would not be enjoying outrageous credit card fees and would be broke. Reader Charlie McChesney writes:


I am sure you already automatically pay your credit cards via an automated electronic funds transfer payment debited from your bank account by the credit card company. Since you probably already do this and I presume that you were only making a rhetorical point re: the $40 late fee on your LLBean Visa card. We use this auto pay feature for all our credit cards, electric, sewer and gas bills and are very happy with it, plus it saves a check, a $0.44 stamp and, most important, the aggravation of remembering to send each payment. Many times my wife and I agree that one of the best innovations vis-a-vis credit card operations was the auto payment feature. Our bank account is debited on the payment date for the full payment and we do nothing except watch the bank statement and credit card statements to make sure they agree, so far no foul ups on the credit card companies part, no late fee and no interest.

On another note, NO ONE should have or use a credit card if they cannot pay the 'FULL amount each month on time and in full!!! It is absolutely ridiculous for anyone to EVER pay the exorbitant and usurious interest rates and fees that the credit card companies charge. If you cannot pay the full amount each month, you don't need the item or service you are purchasing.

How I use Internet browsers: I have three loaded on my Windows laptop. All three let me keep many sites open simultaneously. Comments:

1. Google Chrome. These days it's my main browser. It's fast and reliable. It has an easy history. It shows which sites I recently closed. When you open it, it remembers the sites you were visiting and opens those.

2. Mozilla Firefox. Its enormous virtue are the hundreds of add-ons. I like three -- ScreenGrab!, Showcase and MeasureIt.

3. Microsoft's Internet Explorer. It has no redeeming feature. I use it only occasionally -- usually just to quickly visit one site. The others take longer to load, because I've asked them to remember, visit and load 20-30 sites.

I don't use Apple's Safari because it clutters my PC laptop with too much extraneous Apple software. .

The Pronto 2-in-1 stick vacuum. Put this $94 cordless vacuum in your pantry or the corner of your kitchen. When you drop stuff, lift the vacuum out of its charging cradle, run it across the floor and drop it back in. It's well designed, and works well. Worth every penny. has it. Click here.

Don't say you never learned anything useful from me.

2009 U.S. Open Tennis Schedule: TV coverage of the US Open is around the clock -- presently on ESPN2, ESPN2HD and the Tennis Channel, and then later on CBS. The full schedule is at Here's today. Make sure you watch it in high def -- which is often on a different channel. For example, our low def Tennis Channel is 455. Our high def Tennis Channel is 465.

Last night on Broadway: We took some visiting friends to see God of Carnage, a wonderful play last night.

The play features James Gandolfini (of Sopranos fame), Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis. For tickets,(it's now playing on Monday nights), click here. But frankly, it's a lot cheaper to buy tickets at the box office, which opens at 10 AM.

After the play we took our friends to see the "new" Broadway, much of which is now closed to cars and which features chairs and tables..

This is them and my wife last night. Broadway is now a testimony to LCD huge-screen technology.

Stand them among the lights and the tourists (few of whom are speaking English) and it makes you wonder whatever happened to our recession.

Note to Harry: Garbage tins don't make for an attractive backdrop. Check. Check. Check.

The logic of plumbing. Discovering a leak in the bathroom, the lawyer called his plumber who fixed it in minutes. The bill was substantial -- so substantial that the lawyer called to complain. "You weren't here for more than ten minutes. I don't charge that much for an hour."

Replied the plumber sympathetically, "I didn't either, when I was a lawyer."

This column is about my personal search for the perfect investment. I don't give investment advice. For that you have to be registered with regulatory authorities, which I am not. I am a reporter and an investor. I make my daily column -- Monday through Friday -- freely available for three reasons: Writing is good for sorting things out in my brain. Second, the column is research for a book I'm writing called "In Search of the Perfect Investment." Third, I encourage my readers to send me their ideas, concerns and experiences. That way we can all learn together. My email address is . You can't click on my email address. You have to re-type it . This protects me from software scanning the Internet for email addresses to spam. I have no role in choosing the Google ads on this site. Thus I cannot endorse, though some look interesting. If you click on a link, Google may send me money. Please note I'm not suggesting you do. That money, if there is any, may help pay Michael's business school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.