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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 Monday, May 15, 2006: The Mothers Day weekend was positively wonderful. Michael and Claire came in. We caught up on gossip and took family photo as presents for Grandpa's 90th birthday coming up next month. This morning I'm off to give a 12:30 luncheon talk at the River Centre in downtown St. Paul. Come by if you're in town.

What you learn from your kids: Life moves much faster today than it moved for you and I. This has good points: There are far more alternatives these days. This has bad points. You got to be on your toes making decisions fast. The overwhelming lesson is that old expression: when God closes a door, she opens a window. Lots of them. It's hard not to be envious. Make sure your kids know they're living in a truly wonderful world.

The presumption of "fair" pricing. I checked the local propane providers for our weekend home in upstate New York. The most expensive was 50% more than the cheapest. But he had provided our tank and delivered his expensive gas whenever he figured we needed it. For our new house, we're buying our own, bigger thousand gallon tank. We'll negotiate one delivery a year with competing vendors.

How people can be so stupid. Part 1:

The story begins:

"Late one afternoon in June, 2001, John W. Worley sat in a burgundy leather desk chair reading his e-mail. He was fifty-seven and burly, with glasses, a fringe of salt-and-pepper hair, and a bushy gray beard. A decorated Vietnam veteran and an ordained minister, he had a busy practice as a Christian psychotherapist, and, with his wife, Barbara, was the caretaker of a mansion on a historic estate in Groton, Massachusetts. He lived in a comfortable three-bedroom suite in the mansion, and saw patients in a ground-floor office with walls adorned with images of Jesus and framed military medals. Barbara had been his high-school sweetheart—he was the president of his class, and she was the homecoming queen—and they had four daughters and seven grandchildren, whose photos surrounded Worley at his desk. Worley scrolled through his in-box and opened an e-mail, addressed to “CEO/Owner.” The writer said that his name was Captain Joshua Mbote, and he offered an awkwardly phrased proposition: “With regards to your trustworthiness and reliability, I decided to seek your assistance in transferring some money out of South Africa into your country, for onward dispatch and investment.” Mbote explained that he had been chief of security for the Congolese President Laurent Kabila, who had secretly sent him to South Africa to buy weapons for a force of élite bodyguards. But Kabila had been assassinated before Mbote could complete the mission. “I quickly decided to stop all negotiations and divert the funds to my personal use, as it was a golden opportunity, and I could not return to my country due to my loyalty to the government of Laurent Kabila,” Mbote wrote. Now Mbote had fifty-five million American dollars, in cash, and he needed a discreet partner with an overseas bank account. That partner, of course, would be richly rewarded.

Mbote’s offer had the hallmarks of an advance-fee fraud, a swindle whose victims are asked to provide money, information, or services in exchange for a share of a promised fortune. Countless such e-mails, letters, and faxes are sent every year, with a broad variety of stories about how the money supposedly became available (unclaimed estate, corrupt executive, and dying Samaritan being only a few of the most popular). Worley, who had spent his adult life advocating self-knowledge and introspection, seemed particularly unlikely to be fooled. He had developed a psychological profiling tool designed to reveal a person’s “unique needs, desires and probable behavioral responses.” He promised users of the test, “The individual’s understanding of self will be greatly enhanced, increasing the potential for a fulfilled and balanced life.” And Worley was vigilant against temptation. Two weeks before the e-mail arrived, he had been the keynote speaker at his eldest granddaughter’s graduation from the First Assembly Christian Academy in Worcester, Massachusetts. He cautioned the students about Satan, telling them, “He’s going to be trying to destroy you every inch of the way."

For the whole story, which you must read, Click here.

How people can be so stupid. Part 2:
What ever happened to the fortune Michael Jackson Made? From this Sunday's New York Times:

SEATED in a $9,000-a-night luxury suite in the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai, Michael Jackson played the role of a wealthy pop star as he met with two senior executives of the Sony Corporation last December. From the opulent setting to Mr. Jackson's retinue of advisers, there was little indication that Sony's troops were paying a visit because they were concerned that he was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy proceedings.

The Burj Al Arab hotel, Dubai, UAE.

Sony was worried because Mr. Jackson was the company's partner in a lucrative music publishing business that included songs by the Beatles and other musicians. If Mr. Jackson became insolvent, his 50 percent share of that $1 billion business would be up for grabs to the highest bidder, leaving Sony to confront the uncomfortable possibility that it would be forced into a new, unpredictable partnership not of its own choosing.

With the waters of the Persian Gulf and a teeming, prosperous emirate splayed out far beneath them, the group got down to business. According to those who attended the meeting and requested anonymity because confidential financial matters were discussed, Mr. Jackson was pensive and cooperative, seemingly well aware of the gravity of his situation despite the grandeur of his surroundings. He only chirped up occasionally to remark on what a wonderful investment the catalog had been.

After listening to Mr. Jackson, Robert S. Wiesenthal, a senior Sony executive, eventually proposed that Sony would help the singer find a bank to lend him more than $300 million to pay off his debts. In exchange, Mr. Jackson would possibly forfeit a portion of his half of the Beatles catalog.

Just last month, Mr. Jackson — still swamped in debt, with his musical career in stasis and his personal life limned by scandal — agreed to that financial overhaul. It is likely to strip him of about half of his remaining stake in the catalog, which he has relied on as a financial lifeline for about a decade. According to executives involved in the restructuring talks, Mr. Jackson used the catalog, as well as copyrights to his own songs, as collateral for roughly $270 million in bank loans he took out to fund a spending spree that includes upkeep for his sprawling California ranch, Neverland, and other exotic luxuries.

For the full story, click here.

Is GM worth $40? I thought GM was going to $15. So far, I've been wrong. Now there is talk of it going to $40. Here's its recent price chart:

Cramer believes it's going to $40. (This is not a game I'm playing, however.) His logic:

People don't believe General Motors can do it. The skeptics just won't relent. That Bank of America sell rating reiteration was beyond stupid. Here's the deal: I think that when we look back at this era, Kirk Kerkorian's representative Jerome York is going to be perceived as the man who did it again. I know many people continued to bet against him when he came on board with IBM. Back when I was running my hedge fund, we had the opportunity to talk to the guy, and we covered our short and went long after the meeting. Then he figured out how to fix Chrysler and sold it for a fortune.

Now he is in the mix with GM. Don't forget, the cars aren't the problem; that's a Ford (F:NYSE - news - research - Cramer's Take) issue. GM's cars sell. The balance sheet, long a horror, is now good. The GMAC offload gives GM a chance to get a credit upgrade, which allows it to lower its borrowing costs.

Most important, that "No. 1" carmaker mantra is history. That's really important, because it is much better to be a large company that is profitable than to be the largest company that is losing money.

That's where York comes in. Chrysler and IBM were all about trying to be the largest, damn the profitability. York, no egomaniac, rightsized those firms. That's what's happening to GM.

I reiterate that when everyone else figures this stuff out, the stock will be at $40.

The price of flash memory is plummeting. I just bought a 2 gig card for my Canon SD-450. I paid what I paid a year ago for a 512 meg card -- less than $50. My camera will now take 1378 photos per card, up from 355. Enough for an entire round the world trip. Amazing.

Wonder what this means for Whole Foods? (Probably not bad for results, but not good for its stock price.)

Don't boil water in a microwave oven: It can become "superheated" and explode when moved.

Raunchy but wonderful.
A little boy goes to his dad and asks, "What are Politics?"

Dad says, "Well son, let me try to explain it this way:

1. I'm the head of the family, so call me The President.
2. Your mother is the administrator of the money, so we call her the Government.
3. We're here to take care of your needs, so we'll call you the People.
4. The nanny, we'll consider her the Working Class.
5. And your baby brother, we'll call him the Future.
"Now, think about that and see if it makes sense."

So, the little boy goes off to bed thinking about what Dad has said. Later that night, he hears his baby brother crying, so he gets up to check on him. He finds that the baby has soiled his diaper.

So, the little boy goes to his parent's room and finds his mother sound asleep. Not wanting to wake her, he goes to the nanny's room. Finding the door locked, He looks in the keyhole and finds his father in bed with the Nanny. He gives up and goes back to bed.

The next morning, the little boy says to his father, "Dad, I think I understand the concept of politics now."

The father says, "Good, son, tell me in your own words what you think politics is all about."

The little boy replies, "The President is screwing the Working Class, while the Government is sound asleep. The People are being ignored and the Future is in deep shit."

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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