Technology Investor 

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 Thursday, August 24, 2006: What a chart!

A baby company called Advanced Cell Technology (ACTC.OB) this week said it had developed a technique for establishing colonies of human embryonic stem cells from an early human embryo without destroying it. The hope is that President Bush might embrace this new method as meeting his principal objection to stem cell research. This breakthrough shows he has been right all along to wait for a better technique to turn up. But, according to the New York Times, Emily Lawrimore, a White House spokeswoman, suggested that the new procedure would not satisfy the objections of Mr. Bush, who vetoed legislation in July that would have expanded federally-financed embryonic stem cell research. Though Ms. Lawrimore called it encouraging that scientists were moving away from destroying embryos, she said: “Any use of human embryos for research purposes raises serious ethical questions. This technique does not resolve those concerns.”

The White House's objections only affect federal research monies. You and I can do anything we want so long as we don't use Federal funds. The problem is that so much federal monies are used for basic health science research in the U.S. that most researchers get into a situation where they can't even use their pencils in their labs because somehow the Government paid for them.

Some states (like California) are trying to encourage stem cell research with state money. But fed money is so pervasive it puts a whole dampener on things. Recently a talented researcher friend fled the U.S. (and MIT) for the friendlier clime of Singapore which is funding this important research and encouraging scientists to settle there. Personally I find the whole U.S. situation disturbing. There is potential here to help so many important diseases, like Alzheimer's.

Meantime, I bet ACTC's stock will skyrocket another point or two. Even at last night's $1.83, its market cap is only $48.2 million. To read more on its breakthrough,
click here.

My first 1031 exchange:
In the past when my syndicators sold our building, they simply sent me a nice check. And I paid tax on my delicious gains. Now my first syndicator is opting for a §1031 exchange -- the IRS's loophole for making real estate investors rich beyond their wildest dreams. The IRS says an exchange allows an investor to sell a property, to reinvest the proceeds in a new property and to defer all capital gain taxes -- forever, if you play your cards right. The exchange must be "properly structured" -- but that's not difficult. There are more §1031 lawyers than there are buildings in the U.S. The IRC §1031 (a)(1) states:

"No gain or loss shall be recognized on the exchange of property held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment, if such property is exchanged solely for property of like-kind which is to be held either for productive use in a trade or business or for investment."

There are timing rules. Best to sell your building with your new building tied up. The key is that the new building or buildings be a great investment. You don't want to exchange your great building for a dreky building or two -- just because you're going to save a few scheckels in taxes.

Buy low. Every property has a story and an illiquid market. My partner is looking to "steal" a house, presently on the market for $11 million. He wants to bid $8.2 million. But the more he looks at it, the more he falls in love with the house and wants to live there forever. (It's pretty spectacular.) Mistake. Never fall in love with a house, an investment or a business. Keep falling in love for spouses.

In real estate, the main determinant of how well you do on a deal is how much you paid. Low ball your bid and stay firm. Item: My friend bid $2 million on some acreage the seller was asking $2.5 million. The seller was "offended" by the low bid. My friend smiled and shut up. Nine months later, the "firm" buyer at $2.5 million had disappeared and the seller needed the money. My friend closed on the $2 million as fast as the lawyers could handle the paperwork.

My friend thinks the $8. 2 million house could actually be a great deal. He thinks if not sold under pressure (which is what's happening now), the house might actually fetch $10 million or $11 million in a year or two. You don't want to know what the monthly upkeep on this mansion is.

Congratulations to TiVo: They updated their software. Big plus: They now have an undelete button. The BIG key with TiVo-saved stuff remains: change the "Keep Until" option to "Keep until I delete." If you don't, TiVo may delete it before you get to watch it. And it may not be in the "Recently Deleted" bin. The second key is to move your favorite saved programs onto your PC's hard drive. Then use software called DirectShow Dump utility to convert your saved TiVo programs into a standard format which can be played on any PC. For more, click here.

Second request: You must watch this commercial.

I don't do this often. But you MUST go to, wait for it to load and then play the Sharapova commercial. The song is from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story. Remember, it was Maria who sung this song in West Side Story. And Sharapova's first name is.... Whoever put this commercial together is a creative genius.

Power Line adapters do work. On Tuesday I wrote about you can use power line adapters to move your home network (and thus your broadband Internet) to the farthest reaches of your home. Several readers said they'd tried these adapters in the past and they hadn't worked. True, the old ones didn't worked. But the new models, especially Netgear's XE104 (click here) apparently do work. I'm not reporting this out of first hand experience. I am reporting it based on several recent favorable reviews in the computer trade press.

Among the stupider products ever invented:

When cats walk or climb on your keyboard, they can enter random commands and data, damage your files, and even crash your computer. This can happen whether you are near the computer or have suddenly been called away from it. PawSense is a $19.95 software utility that helps protect your computer from cats. It quickly detects and blocks cat typing, and also helps train your cat to stay off the computer keyboard. PawSense constantly monitors keyboard activity. PawSense analyzes keypress timings and combinations to distinguish cat typing from human typing. If a cat gets on the keyboard, PawSense makes a sound that annoys cats. This teaches your cat that getting on the keyboard is bad even if humans aren't watching. To buy PawSense (though I can't imagine why you would want to), click here.

Bubba's wonderful trip to Paris:
Bubba, a furniture dealer from Arkansas, decided to expand the line of furniture in his store, so he decided to go to Paris to see what he could find.

After arriving in Paris he met with some manufacturers and selected a line that he thought would sell well back home in Arkansas. To celebrate the new acquisition, he decided to visit a small bistro and have a glass of wine. As he sat enjoying his wine, he noticed that the small place was quite crowded, and that the other chair at his table was the only vacant seat in the house.

Before long, a very beautiful young Parisian girl came to his table, asked him something in French (which he did not understand), and motioned toward the chair. He invited her to sit down. He tried to speak to her in English, but she did not speak his language so, after a couple of minutes of trying to communicate with her, he took a napkin and drew a picture of a wine glass and showed it to her. She nodded, and he ordered a glass of wine for her.

After a while, he took another napkin, and drew a picture of a plate with food on it, and she nodded. They left the bistro and found a quiet cafe that featured a small group playing romantic music.

They ordered dinner, after which he took another napkin and drew a picture of a couple dancing. She nodded, and they got up to dance. They danced until the cafe closed and the band was packing up.

Back at their table, the young lady took a napkin and drew a picture of a four-poster bed.

To this day, Bubba has no idea how she figured he was in the furniture business.

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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