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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.

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8:30 AM EST Friday, April 7, 2006: The BIG news is the precious metal boom. Gold touched $600 an ounce yesterday for the first time in 25 years and silver hit a 22-year high. Among the reasons are the growing wealth in China and India, both big buyers of gold jewelry; persistently high oil prices; investors looking for better returns; and concerns about a resurgence of inflation. Also, statements by officials in Zimbabwe, a gold-producing nation, that it might seek to take control of foreign-owned mines have stoked concerns about supply disruptions.

Some analysts, according to a story in today's New York Times, said speculative buying might be the biggest contributor to the recent surge in prices. "It's feeding off itself," said Jessica Cross, chief executive of Virtual Metals, a research firm in London. "There are vast walls of money going into all the commodities, and gold and silver are benefiting."

Jay R. Feuerstein, president of Xenon Capital Management, a futures firm in Chicago, said that by the standards of the late 1970's and early 80's, when gold prices surpassed $800 an ounce, the metal remains cheap. Adjusted for inflation, today's $600 would be substantially less than the price then. Other specialists suggest that the price has risen in part because gold, in particular, has become easier to buy through new mutual and exchange-traded funds that specialize in metals.

So I look at this look and rub my hands together. After all, I have a significant investment in a commodities fund, called Strategic Commodities Fund. And it's done well -- up 26% last year. But, this year, Oiy! "We had a horrible February. Down 6%." So, I called and asked, "How come. We have a commodities boom and you're down?"

Well, we had a horrible February and of course, we have a broad bundle of commodities -- diversification is good and bad. But the good news is that of last night the Fund was up, ever so slightly on the year so far -- 0.16% -- and we have the rest of the year to go.

Life is wonderful, if volatile, again.

Don't rebuke me for not owning buckets of gold. I don't like gambling. And gold, ikn my brain, has always been a gamble, not an "investment."

Why I love takeovers: A company called (wwww) bought the hoster of this web site. Their president, Jeffrey Stibel, sent me a note saying how my service would improve, ya de ya, etc. He lied. This morning we had a "hardware failure," "a network outage," "a software problem in a major router" or "gateway software." Depending on who I spoke with. That was it. No real specifics. No real explanation. No estimated time of repair. No nothing. I'm writing this column, not having any idea when anyone might read it. I'm disgusted.

No one in their right mind would buy shares of The company is hemorrhaging money like there was no tomorrow. It looks like a great short, though playing with stocks this thinly capitalized ($88 million) and with so few shares outstanding (15.30 million) is not my cuppa tea.

Make the type bigger: If you hold down the Control key on your keyboard and turn the small wheel in the middle of your mouse (called the scrollwheel), your print size will change. It will get larger or smaller - depending on which way you turn the wheel. Useful.

Being engaged: The Innocence Project uses DNA evidence to get innocent people out of prison. So far, it's gotten 175 out.

I carefully pick my causes to be engaged with. The Innocence Project is one of them. Most of its clients are poor, forgotten, and have used up all of their legal avenues for relief. They pray that biological evidence from their cases still exists and can be subjected to DNA testing.

The good news is that DNA testing is changing our criminal justice system. The bad news is that many people are still wrongly convicted because of bad identification, lousy fingerprinting, etc. etc. Innocence is working with legislatures -- state and federal -- to beef up our entire criminal seeking/justice system, making sure that we put the right criminals behind and keep the innocent ones out.

Last night, I hosted a soiree of Innocence supporters at my house. The two founders, Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck, were there. But the "star" of the evening was David Shepard. Here's his story:

David Shepard was convicted in 1984 of rape, robbery, weapons violations, and terrorist threats. The convictions stemmed from a 1983 incident involving the abduction of a woman from a parking lot. Two men forced the woman into the back seat of her car, where she was pinned down by one assailant while the other drove to a residential area. Both men proceeded to rape her. They forced her out of the car and stole her car. Shepard was the only person arrested for this crime.

The prosecution relied on the victim's identification of Shepard. He is black. During the attack, one of the assailants had called the other Dave. Items from the victim's car and purse were found near Newark airport, where Shepard worked. In 1992, Shepard filed for access to the evidence for DNA testing. The prosecution cooperated. DNA testing took place on samples of the victim's underwear. Two profiles were found, neither of which matched Shepard. Based on the results of DNA testing, the court ordered a new trial. The prosecution did not retry Shepard. He was released in May 1994 after having served ten years in prison. He has not received on nickel from New Jersey for his lost ten years.

Police are under enormous pressure to solve crimes, to convict someone, anyone. Dave Shepard got caught in that awful loop. You and I could, too. For more on the Innocence Project, click here.

Technology breakthrough: A British company is developing computer chips that store music in women's breast implants. This is a major breakthrough. Women are always complaining about men staring at their breasts without listening to them.

Another silly old people joke:
After his exam the doctor said to the elderly man, "You appear to be in good health. Do you have any medical concerns you would like to ask me about?"

"In fact, I do," said the old man. "After I have sex I am usually hot and sweaty, and then, after I have sex with her the second time, I am usually cold and chilly."

After examining his elderly wife, the doctor said, "Everything appears to be fine. Do you have any medical concerns that you would like to discuss with me?"

The lady replied that she had no questions or concerns.

The doctor then said to her: "Your husband had an unusual concern. He claims that he is usually hot and sweaty after having sex with you the first time, and then cold and chilly after the second time. Do you know why?"

"Oh that crazy old fart," she replied. "That's because the first time is usually in August and the second time is in January."

Harry Newton

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. Thus I cannot endorse any, though some look mighty 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 Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
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