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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 Wednesday, August 30, 2006: What can I report of great joy? I spent most of yesterday reading, thinking, researching, speaking, interviewing and then finally saying NO. Horribly time consuming and most depressing. Hardly a productive use of my time. But it is. I convince myself. There is a the One-in-a-Hundred Rule. One in a 100 investments you look at are worth jumping in. 99% are drek. You're making money by not losing it.

The good part of yesterday was playing tennis. I won. My tennis elbow stood up well. The big key is making sure you hit the ball in the racquet's sweet spot, which is not easy if you're playing on green clay. Bounces are irrational.

As the economy contracts, our best philosophy is "When in doubt, stay out." I can now get the equivalent of 5% triple tax-free by simply buying totally-safe muni bond floaters.

It's time to start looking for shorts, perhaps among retailers. Costco (COST) cut its outlook today. It said earnings for the fiscal fourth quarter would miss its own prior expectations as well as current average analyst estimates due to thinner-than-expected profit margins and an income-tax charge. This morning, in early trading, Costco is down by $3, or 6%. You can make money on 6%.

InSite Vision is moving back up:

They've submitted their drug to the FDA. It will be approved. They will find a big pharma marketing partner. Newton's first rule: Everything takes longer than it should. Newton's second rule: Don't tell your shareholders something will happen you have little control over. Silence is golden.

I'm great on cliches this morning.

Meantime, Hana Biosciences (HNAB) said today that FDA has accepted for review the company’s New Drug Application (NDA) for Zensana™ (ondansetron HCl) Oral Spray. Hana submitted an NDA for Zensana to seek approval for the prevention of chemotherapy, radiation, and post-operative associated nausea and vomiting. The acceptance of the filing means the FDA has made a threshold determination that the NDA is sufficiently complete to permit a substantive review. The FDA now has 10 months, but a ruling should come quicker.

Funny pricing on eBay: Some things are actually more expensive on eBay than in a normal retail store. Check. Check. Check.

China has 432 million mobile phone users: That's far and away the most for any country. They added 5.43 million new users in July. China Mobile is the world's largest operator. It has been adding 4.28 million subscribers a month on average this year. At the end of July, it had 278 million subscribers. It will hit 300 million by end of this year. It's been moving up.

The History Boys is great Broadway.

I won't spoil it for you. Make sure you see The History Boys, now playing to sell-out audiences. I saw it last night for the second time and loved it even more than the first time.

Good and bad businessmen. Good ones reply to emails. Bad ones don't. End of story.

Who killed the newspaper? My first job was a cub reporter on a newspaper. I know most are dying. But I'm sad, and nostalgic. From this week's Economist print edition (though I picked the story up from their Internet site):

The most useful bit of the media is disappearing. A cause for concern, but not for panic

“A GOOD newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself,” mused Arthur Miller in 1961. A decade later, two reporters from the Washington Post wrote a series of articles that brought down President Nixon and the status of print journalism soared. At their best, newspapers hold governments and companies to account. They usually set the news agenda for the rest of the media. But in the rich world newspapers are now an endangered species. The business of selling words to readers and selling readers to advertisers, which has sustained their role in society, is falling apart.

Of all the “old” media, newspapers have the most to lose from the Internet. Circulation has been falling in America, western Europe, Latin America, Australia and New Zealand for decades (elsewhere, sales are rising). But in the past few years the web has hastened the decline. In his book “The Vanishing Newspaper”, Philip Meyer calculates that the first quarter of 2043 will be the moment when newsprint dies in America as the last exhausted reader tosses aside the last crumpled edition. That sort of extrapolation would have produced a harrumph from a Beaverbrook or a Hearst, but even the most cynical news baron could not dismiss the way that ever more young people are getting their news online. Britons aged between 15 and 24 say they spend almost 30% less time reading national newspapers once they start using the web.

Advertising is following readers out of the door. The rush is almost unseemly, largely because the Internet is a seductive medium that supposedly matches buyers with sellers and proves to advertisers that their money is well spent. Classified ads, in particular, are quickly shifting online. Rupert Murdoch, the Beaverbrook of our age, once described them as the industry's rivers of gold — but, as he said last year, “Sometimes rivers dry up.” In Switzerland and the Netherlands newspapers have lost half their classified advertising to the Internet.

Newspapers have not yet started to shut down in large numbers, but it is only a matter of time. Over the next few decades half the rich world's general papers may fold. Jobs are already disappearing. According to the Newspaper Association of America, the number of people employed in the industry fell by 18% between 1990 and 2004. Tumbling shares of listed newspaper firms have prompted fury from investors. In 2005 a group of shareholders in Knight Ridder, the owner of several big American dailies, got the firm to sell its papers and thus end a 114-year history. This year Morgan Stanley, an investment bank, attacked the New York Times Company, the most august journalistic institution of all, because its share price had fallen by nearly half in four years.

Having ignored reality for years, newspapers are at last doing something. In order to cut costs, they are already spending less on journalism. Many are also trying to attract younger readers by shifting the mix of their stories towards entertainment, lifestyle and subjects that may seem more relevant to people's daily lives than international affairs and politics are. They are trying to create new businesses on- and offline. And they are investing in free daily papers, which do not use up any of their meager editorial resources on uncovering political corruption or corporate fraud. So far, this fit of activity looks unlikely to save many of them. Even if it does, it bodes ill for the public role of the Fourth Estate.

In future, as newspapers fade and change, will politicians therefore burgle their opponents' offices with impunity, and corporate villains whoop as they trample over their victims? Journalism schools and think-tanks, especially in America, are worried about the effect of a crumbling Fourth Estate. Are today's news organizations“up to the task of sustaining the informed citizenry on which democracy depends?” asked a recent report about newspapers from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a charitable research foundation.

Nobody should relish the demise of once-great titles. But the decline of newspapers will not be as harmful to society as some fear. Democracy, remember, has already survived the huge television-led decline in circulation since the 1950s. It has survived as readers have shunned papers and papers have shunned what was in stuffier times thought of as serious news. And it will surely survive the decline to come.

That is partly because a few titles that invest in the kind of investigative stories which often benefit society the most are in a good position to survive, as long as their owners do a competent job of adjusting to changing circumstances. Publications like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal should be able to put up the price of their journalism to compensate for advertising revenues lost to the Internet — especially as they cater to a more global readership. As with many industries, it is those in the middle — neither highbrow, nor entertainingly populist — that are likeliest to fall by the wayside.

The usefulness of the press goes much wider than investigating abuses or even spreading general news; it lies in holding governments to account — trying them in the court of public opinion. The Internet has expanded this court. Anyone looking for information has never been better equipped. People no longer have to trust a handful of national papers or, worse, their local city paper. News-aggregation sites such as Google News draw together sources from around the world. The website of Britain's Guardian now has nearly half as many readers in America as it does at home.

In addition, a new force of “citizen” journalists and bloggers is itching to hold politicians to account. The web has opened the closed world of professional editors and reporters to anyone with a keyboard and an Internet connection. Several companies have been chastened by amateur postings — of flames erupting from Dell's laptops or of cable-TV repairmen asleep on the sofa. Each blogger is capable of bias and slander, but, taken as a group, bloggers offer the searcher after truth boundless material to chew over. Of course, the Internet panders to closed minds; but so has much of the press.

For hard-news reporting — as opposed to comment — the results of net journalism have admittedly been limited. Most bloggers operate from their armchairs, not the frontline, and citizen journalists tend to stick to local matters. But it is still early days. New online models will spring up as papers retreat. One non-profit group, NewAssignment.Net, plans to combine the work of amateurs and professionals to produce investigative stories on the Internet. Aptly, $10,000 of cash for the project has come from Craig Newmark, of Craigslist, a group of free classified-advertisement websites that has probably done more than anything to destroy newspapers' income.

In future, argues Carnegie, some high-quality journalism will also be backed by non-profit organizations. Already, a few respected news organizations sustain themselves that way — including the Guardian, the Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio. An elite group of serious newspapers available everywhere online, independent journalism backed by charities, thousands of fired-up bloggers and well-informed citizen journalists: there is every sign that Arthur Miller's national conversation will be louder than ever.

Charming place:
TEHRAN, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Police in Tehran have been ordering Iranian women to cover up, stopping those they perceive as "badly veiled." The crackdown followed the 2005 election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hadi Ghaemi of Human Rights Watch said the penalty for violating a code that requires the complete covering of women's heads and bodies in public depends on the officers involved and the women's political connections. "The person could end up in jail depending on their relationship with the authorities," he said. "Generally, the imposition of strict Islamic codes has been increasing under Ahmadinejad."

The government has also been cracking down on a law banning Iranians from owning satellite dishes.

The US Tennis Open is on. But it's raining in New York. Today we're meant to see Nadal, Federer, Sharapova and others play. But, who knows. The skies look as though they're about to open up, again. For today's Schedule of Play, click here.

US Tennis Open 2006 -- TV Schedule for August
All times are Eastern Standard
Wednesday August 30
11:00am - 5:00am
Men's Early / Women's 2nd USA
Wednesday August 30
7:00pm - 11:00pm
Men's Early / Women's 2nd USA
Thursday August 31
2:00 am - 4:00 am
Match of the day (taped) USA
Thursday August 31
11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Second round USA
Thursday August 31
7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Second round USA
CBS Sports also runs highlights from 12:37am to 1:07 am each evening
For the entire US Open TV schedule (including September), click here. Easiest: Tell your TiVo to record "Tennis."

This is the absolute worst pun ever:
A Russian scientist and a Czechoslovakian scientist had spent their lives studying the grizzly bear.

Each year they petitioned their respective governments to allow them to go to Yellowstone to study the bears. Finally, their request was granted, and they immediately flew to Yellowstone.

They reported to the ranger station and were told that it was the grizzly mating season and it was too dangerous to go out and study the animals. They pleaded that this was their only chance, and finally the ranger relented. The Russian and the Czech were given portable phones and told to report in every day.

For several days they called in, and then nothing was heard from the two scientists.

The rangers mounted a search party & found the camp completely ravaged, with no sign of the missing men.Following the trails of a male and a female bear, they finally caught up with the female.

Fearing an international incident, they decided they must kill the animal to find out if she had eaten the scientist.

They killed the female and opened the stomach to find the remains of the Russian scientist.

One ranger turned to the other and said, "You know what this means, don't you ?"

The other ranger nodded and responded......

"I guess that means the Czech is in the male."

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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