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Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Technology Investor. Auction Rate Securities. Auction Rate Preferreds.

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8:30 AM EST Monday, June 23, 2008: The next boom will be alternative energy, but not because of our wonderful government, which has delayed passing H.R. 6049 — “The Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008.” The Act extends for another eight years the investment tax credit for installing solar energy and extends for one year the production tax credit for producing wind power and for three years the credits for geothermal, wave energy and other renewables.

These critical tax credits for renewables are set to expire at the end of this fiscal year and, if they do, it will mean thousands of jobs lost and billions of dollars of investments not made. “Already clean energy projects in the U.S. are being put on hold,” said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Please send your congressperson a note saying it would be a seriously good thing for the country if we passed this Act.

Meanwhile yesterday's global energy summit in Saudi Arabia "ended largely in disagreement ..., with only a modest pledge of increased production by the Saudis and no resolution on what other practical steps should be taken to ease the crisis over soaring oil prices."

According to today's New York Times,

The Saudis, who considered the meeting a success because of the high attendance, announced a production increase of 200,000 barrels a day and an expansion of their output capacity if needed in coming years.

But news of the immediate production increase had already been absorbed by the world market for oil. Some experts had anticipated that the Saudis might announce a bigger increase.

Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil exporter, is the only country with the ability to significantly increase production quickly.

By Monday morning in Singapore, the first oil market to react to the Saudi news, oil cost $135.72 a barrel, up slightly from $135.47 in New York on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Economist this weekend came out with a special report on the future of energy -- i.e. alternative energy. It was positive and said the high price of oil would encourage alternatives. The Economist was most positive on wind power:

Wind power is no illusion. World capacity is growing at 30% a year and will exceed 100 gigawatts this year. Victor Abate, General Electric’s vice-president of renewables, is so convinced that by 2012 half of the new generating capacity built in America will be wind-powered that he is basing his business plan on that assumption.

Wind currently provides only about 1% of America’s electricity, but by 2020 that figure may have risen to 15%. The one part of the United States that has something approximating a proper free market in electricity, Texas, is also keener than any other state on deploying the turbines. In May, T. Boone Pickens, one of the state’s most famous oil tycoons, announced a deal with GE to build a one-gigawatt wind farm—the world’s largest—at a cost of $2 billion.

What was once a greener-than-thou toy has thus become a real business (GE alone expects to sell $6 billion-worth of turbines this year)—and one with many advantages. For example, as Lester Brown, the president of the Earth Policy Institute, a think-tank in Washington, DC, points out, a farmer in Iowa who gives up a tenth of a hectare (a quarter of an acre) of land to a turbine might earn $10,000 a year from it (about 3% of the value of the electricity it produces). Planted with maize, the same land would yield a mere $300-worth of bioethanol.

Moreover, wind farms can be built piecemeal, unlike most power stations. A half-finished coal-fired or nuclear power plant is a useless waste of money, but a half-finished wind farm is simply a wind farm half the size originally intended—and one that has been providing revenue since the first turbine was completed.

Watch your summer travel: From my friend and reader, Lucky Marr:

Hi Harry
Just a little tid-bit on travel today. It behooves anyone who booked early to check on their flights frequently before their travel date. I always book my leisure travel several months in advance and check the itinerary monthly. Since we booked in March, Phoenix/Portland Maine/Phoenix leaving July 15 returning Sept 30th on Delta, the flights have changed 5 times. One time they routed us via Cleveland, from Atlanta, with the Atlanta flight arriving in Cleveland two hours after the Cleveland-Portland flight had departed (true). Every time they change flights on you they also change your seat assignments, and not for the better. They seem to be switching to bigger aircraft and fewer of them.

Then there is the cost. Our early booking flight cost $637 roundtrip. To book the exact same flights today the cost is $2,193..
At the same time I booked out next January flights to Hawaii, on Hawaiian Airlines, and I have a feeling the increases may be even more dramatic by the time we fly.

Marriage saver: Men lose their hearing faster than women. Hence we battle over TV volume. The solution is the Sennheiser RS 110 headphones.

There are two ways of buying them -- with the charging cradle, for $76. Or without the charging cradle, which is Amazon's incorrect name for the gray wireless transmitter. You want them with the transmitter. You can use as many headphones as you want on with one transmitter. You can also be in bed and listen to a TV in another room. The headphones, by themselves, are called Sennheiser HDR 110. For the set with the transmitter, go to Amazon.

The tick season is on us. So is the season of B.S. remedies sent by email. The common nonsense remedy consists of putting alcohol or soap on the tick and watching it fall off. According to Snopes,

This (remedy) may also make matters worse by stimulating the creatures to release additional saliva or regurgitate their gut contents, acts that increase the chance of its transmitting a pathogen to its host (i.e. you).

In addition to their being repulsive-looking bugs that survive by latching onto warm-blooded victims to suck blood from them, there is another reason to regard ticks with horror: they can deliver a deadly payload of disease to those they are making a meal of. These arachnids feed by burrowing their heads into skin, a method that introduces their body fluids into their victims. If those fluids are disease-laden, those microbes will be passed to the ones being dined upon. However, it generally takes at least 12 to 24 hours of feeding before an infected tick can spread disease to its host, so speedy removal of these parasites is therefore key to avoiding tick-borne illness, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichia.

As to how to remove a tick:

+ With tweezers, grasp the parasite close to the skin and pull it straight out.

+ If you must use your fingers rather than tweezers for this operation, cover them with a tissue during the procedure and wash them after the tick has been dispatched.

+ Do not twist or jerk the tick; this could cause the creature's head to separate from its body, leaving its mouthparts lodged in your skin.

+ Wash the bite with antiseptic and place the tick inside a plastic container marked with the date in case it is later needed for verification of illness.

+ Nail polish and petroleum jelly are not good ideas for tick removal because the tick has enough air to complete its feeding before dropping off.

To reduce your chances of becoming a tick's dinner:

  • Avoid tick-prone areas whenever possible.
  • When in areas where ticks may be present, wear clothing that covers the arms and legs, with cuffs fastened and pants tucked into boots and socks.
  • Use a tick repellent that contains DEET and reapply it every 1-2 hours for maximum protection.

After any outdoor excursion into areas where ticks are commonly found, adults should check themselves and their children. Your four-legged friends should be checked for ticks too, because dogs and cats can also be felled by the diseases spread by these blood-sucking

Wimbledon starts today. Here is the TV schedule. All times listed are Eastern Standard Time (L) = Live (T) = Taped

Monday, June 23 7:00 am - 5:00 pm Early rounds ESPN2 (L)
Monday, June 23 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm Early rounds ESPN2 (L)
Tuesday, June 24 7:00 am - 5:30 pm Early rounds ESPN2 (L)
Tuesday, June 24 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm Early rounds Tennis Channel (T)
Wednesday, June 25 7:00 am - 5:30 pm Early rounds ESPN2 (L)
Wednesday, June 25 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm Early rounds Tennis Channel (T)
Thursday, June 26 7:00 am - 5:00 pm Early rounds ESPN2 (L)
Thursday, June 26 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm Early rounds Tennis Channel (T)
Friday, June 27 7:00 am - 5:30 pm Early rounds ESPN2 (L)
Friday, June 27 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm Early rounds Tennis Channel (T)
Saturday, June 28 7:00 am - 12:00 pm Early rounds ESPN2 (L)
Saturday, June 28 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm Early rounds NBC (L)
Saturday, June 28 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm Early rounds Tennis Channel (T)
Sunday, June 29 7:00 am - 12:00 pm Early rounds ESPN2 (T)
Sunday, June 29 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm Early rounds NBC (T)
Sunday, June 29 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm Early rounds Tennis Channel (T)
Monday, June 30 7:00 am - 10:00 am Early rounds ESPN2 (L)
Monday, June 30 10:00 am - 1:00 pm Early rounds NBC (L)
Monday, June 30 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm Early rounds ESPN2 (L)
Monday, June 30 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm Early rounds Tennis Channel (T)
Tuesday, July 1 7:00 am - 10:00 am Quarterfinals (Ladies') ESPN2 (L)
Tuesday, July 1 10:00 am - 1:00 pm Quarterfinals (Ladies') NBC (L)
Tuesday, July 1 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm Quarterfinals (Ladies') ESPN2 (L)
Tuesday, July 1 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm Quarterfinals (Ladies') Tennis Channel (T)
Wednesday, July 2 7:00 am - 10:00 am Quarterfinals (Gentlemen's) ESPN2 (L)
Wednesday, July 2 10:00 am - 1:00 pm Quarterfinals (Gentlemen's) NBC (L)
Wednesday, July 2 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm Quarterfinals (Gentlemen's) ESPN2 (L)
Wednesday, July 2 7:00 pm - 11:00 pm Quarterfinals (Gentlemen's) Tennis Channel (T)
Thursday, July 3 7:00 am - 12:00 pm Semifinals (Ladies') ESPN2 (L)
Thursday, July 3 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm Semifinals (Ladies') NBC (L)
Thursday, July 3 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm Semifinals (Ladies') Tennis Channel (T)
Friday, July 4 7:00 am - 12:00 pm Semifinals (Gentlemen's) ESPN2 (L)
Friday, July 4 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm Semifinals (Gentlemen's) NBC (L)
Saturday, July 5 9:00 am - 2:00 pm Semifinals (Gentlemen's) ESPN2 (L)
Saturday, July 5 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm Semifinals (Gentlemen's) NBC (L)
Sunday, July 6 9:00 am - 3:00 pm Semifinals (Gentlemen's) NBC (L)
Sunday, July 6 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm Semifinals (Gentlemen's) ESPN2 (L)

George Carlin is dead at 71. He was the best. Irreverent, funny, audacious and always pushing the envelope.

I loved his hippy-dippy weatherman Al Sleet. “The weather was dominated by a large Canadian low, which is not to be confused with a Mexican high. Tonight’s forecast . . . dark, continued mostly dark tonight turning to widely scattered light in the morning.

This morning's New York Times obit ends:

Although some criticized parts of his later work as too contentious, Mr. Carlin defended the material, insisting that his comedy had always been driven by an intolerance for the shortcomings of humanity and society. “Scratch any cynic,” he said, “and you’ll find a disappointed idealist.”

Still, when pushed to explain the pessimism and overt spleen that had crept into his act, he quickly reaffirmed the zeal that inspired his lists of complaints and grievances. “I don’t have pet peeves,” he said, correcting the interviewer. And with a mischievous glint in his eyes, he added, “I have major, psychotic hatreds.”

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.

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