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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, May 19, 2006: Inflation. The fear is that the Fed will clobber it, and the economy with hugely high interest rates and ultra-tight money. The stockmarket dislikes the fear of what might happen more than what's actually happening. The media is playing to the fears, perhaps exacerbating the fall. Today's Wall Street Journal writes:

But the lesson of the past 30 years is that the economic pain is far more severe the longer the Fed stays too accommodative and lets pricing pressures build. The consumer price index reading that triggered Wednesday's selloff is a lagging indicator, after all, the kind that tells you inflation is here only after it has already arrived. As Paul Volcker -- the man who finally broke the 1970s inflation -- once noted, the actual inflation data comes in months later but spot commodity prices are a real-time signal. Investors have finally begun to doubt the Fed's happy talk about a "pause" in raising interest rates or that inflationary pressures are "contained."

All of which suggests that Mr. Greenspan's successor as Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, is facing a rough passage. He's arrived at a Fed that has clearly made a mistake in letting inflation expectations build and has been very slow to admit it. The only questions now are the magnitude of that mistake and of the resulting financial casualties.

My friends don't think we've hit the bottom of this stockmarket draft. But few have a real clue. There is heavy short-selling among some hedge funds. They are picking their targets on three criteria:

1. The stock is "way overvalued." That means it's risen too fast in recent weeks.
2. The stock has broken through its 50-day moving average.
3. Even better, the stock has broken through both its 50 and 200-day moving average. The logic is that many investors who own these stocks automatically sell the stock when it breaks these moving averages. This worsens the decline, and hence makes more money for the short sellers. Here are some examples. The blue line is the 50-day moving average. The red line is the 200-day moving average.

Look at IBM, my first example. When you bust through both, you take a bit hit.

I bet it will be gruesome when the Bank of America falls below its two moving averages.

Cisco has passed through its 50-day moving average. Another point and a half and it will break through its 200-day moving average.

Many people are shorting the QQQQs. And you can see why:

My traders remain negative. They say there's been no "capitulation" -- bulls throwing in the towel; bulls saying "I've had enough. Sell. Sell. Sell."

Vonage is getting bad press over its "service." Skype and every phone company is targeting it. The fear is that if Vonage does a successful IPO, millions of other VoIP companies will emerge to offer serious competition to the existing telephone companies -- landline, wireless and cable TV providers. Personally, I use VoIP to make most of my long distance and international calls. But not all. The service is simply not that reliable. Quality suffers based on everything from the weather to traffic on the Internet. With VoIP your phone lines share the Internet. With normal dial-up landlines, you get a dedicated path from one end to the other of your conversation. Thus better more reliable service. Best idea: Keep a landline and a VoIP line. Use which works best at the time.

I like promotion.. But this...?

King Tut before he turned over in his tomb.

"Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" is opening next week at Chicago's Field Museum. Two hotels are have King Tut Packages -- room, breakfast and two exhibit ticket. Rates start at $555 a night. Now, for the best part, the Spa at Four Seasons is offering an Egyptian Golden Body Wrap. ."This luxurious treatment stimulates circulation, hydrates the skin and leaves a golden shimmer. It includes a gentle exfoliation consisting of Dead Sea salts infused with chamomile, an invigorating Vichy shower, a Golden Body Wrap, Dead Sea mud spread along the spine to purify and detoxify the body, stimulating massage techniques, and a golden powder to illuminate the complexion. It concludes with a refreshing glass of hibiscus tea. A 50-minute treatment is $145 and an 80-minute treatment is $195.

This month's greatest racket: Time Warner Cable regularly turns off my Scientific Atlanta cable box to "upgrade" its software. Often, it doesn't turn it back on. This means that my TiVo misses out on days of recording the programs I want. Manhattan Cable's response to my complaint? "Dump your TiVo. Rent a digital video recorder (TiVo look-alike) from us. We never turn this box off."

The summer may be bad for the stockmarket, but....

KANSAS CITY, KS—With spring in full swing and millions of potential organ donors entering the peak season for boating, hiking, and drowning accidents, the nation's transplanters are predicting a bumper crop in the upcoming harvest, which is welcome news to ailing patients in dire need of organs across America's liver-, lung-, and heartlands.

Transplanters harvest a big organ from 1997's record crop.

Early estimates from the United Organ Farmers Of America project a 12,000-ton yield from Ohio alone, the nation's Pancreas State, which leads the rest of the country in production of the digestive organ. Likewise, after a prolonged and crippling drought, the area of the nation's midsection nicknamed "America's Spleenbasket" appears poised to have a record season of alcohol-related deaths.

"All signs seem to indicate this will be a truly bountiful year for hearts and small intestines," said third-generation heart surgeon Dr. Thomas Menard, who presides over a five-acre hospital outside Lawrence, KS. "If these intermittent rain showers are sustained through the high-school prom and graduation months, we're likely to see a windfall of perennial car crashes."

"I've already got a large number of vegetables in the intensive-care unit that could be ready for harvesting in as little as two weeks," Menard added. "It's a really good yield this year."

"The recent heat wave here in Texas will really boost our already bursting reservoir," said Amarillo resident Edward Carey, a hepatitis C sufferer awaiting a new liver. "Usually we don't get too many livers in these parts, but with the high-school football preseason starting up, the number of vibrant young athletes dying of sunstroke should really turn our luck around."

A groundskeeper who fell under his riding mower provides one of the season's earliest sets of lungs.

Some ailing Americans, like David Braschi, a Los Angeles resident who suffers from urethral stricture disease, have been hoping for an abundant organ harvest for months. "It's been a long time since I've had a good bladder," Braschi said. "But if what I hear about seasonal spikes in gang violence is true, I should be able to get one I'm happy with by July."

The Da Vinci Code movie opens today: No movie in recent times has been more hyped. Someone called A. O. Scott wrote a review of the movie in yesterday's New York Times. You will enjoy reading this. The headline on the review is:A 'Da Vinci Code' That Takes Longer to Watch Than Read.

CANNES, France, May 17 — It seems you can't open a movie these days without provoking some kind of culture war skirmish, at least in the conflict-hungry media. Recent history — "The Passion of the Christ," "The Chronicles of Narnia" — suggests that such controversy, especially if religion is involved, can be very good business. "The Da Vinci Code," Ron Howard's adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling primer on how not to write an English sentence, arrives trailing more than its share of theological and historical disputation.

The arguments about the movie and the book that inspired it have not been going on for millennia — it only feels that way — but part of Columbia Pictures' ingenious marketing strategy has been to encourage months of debate and speculation while not allowing anyone to see the picture until the very last minute. Thus we have had a flood of think pieces on everything from Jesus and Mary Magdalene's prenuptial agreement to the secret recipes of Opus Dei, and vexed, urgent questions have been raised: Is Christianity a conspiracy? Is "The Da Vinci Code" a dangerous, anti-Christian hoax? What's up with Tom Hanks's hair?

Luckily I lack the learning to address the first two questions. As for the third, well, it's long, and so is the movie. "The Da Vinci Code," which opened the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday, is one of the few screen versions of a book that may take longer to watch than to read. (Curiously enough Mr. Howard accomplished a similar feat with "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" a few years back.)

To their credit the director and his screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman (who collaborated with Mr. Howard on "Cinderella Man" and "A Beautiful Mind"), have streamlined Mr. Brown's story and refrained from trying to capture his, um, prose style. "Almost inconceivably, the gun into which she was now staring was clutched in the pale hand of an enormous albino with long white hair." Such language — note the exquisite "almost" and the fastidious tucking of the "which" after the preposition — can live only on the page.

Audrey Tautou and Tom Hanks run through the Louvre (and toward a body) in "The Da Vinci Code," directed by Ron Howard and based on Dan Brown's best-selling novel.

To be fair, though, Mr. Goldsman conjures up some pretty ripe dialogue all on his own. "Your God does not forgive murderers," Audrey Tautou hisses to Paul Bettany (who play a less than enormous, short-haired albino). "He burns them!"

Theology aside, this remark can serve as a reminder that "The Da Vinci Code" is above all a murder mystery. And as such, once it gets going, Mr. Howard's movie has its pleasures. He and Mr. Goldsman have deftly rearranged some elements of the plot (I'm going to be careful here not to spoil anything), unkinking a few over-elaborate twists and introducing others that keep the action moving along.

Hans Zimmer's appropriately overwrought score, pop-romantic with some liturgical decoration, glides us through scenes that might otherwise be talky and inert. The movie does, however, take a while to accelerate, popping the clutch and leaving rubber on the road as it tries to establish who is who, what they're doing and why.

Briefly stated: An old man (Jean-Pierre Marielle) is killed after hours in the Louvre, shot in the stomach, almost inconceivably, by a hooded assailant. Meanwhile Robert Langdon (Mr. Hanks), a professor of religious symbology at Harvard, is delivering a lecture and signing books for fans. He is summoned to the crime scene by Bezu Fache (Jean Reno), a French policemen who seems very grouchy, perhaps because his department has cut back on its shaving cream budget.

Soon Langdon is joined by Sophie Neveu, a police cryptographer and also — Bezu Fache! — the murder victim's granddaughter. Grandpa, it seems, knew some very important secrets, which if they were ever revealed might shake the foundations of Western Christianity, in particular the Roman Catholic Church, one of whose bishops, the portly Aringarosa (Alfred Molina) is at this very moment flying on an airplane. Meanwhile the albino monk, whose name is Silas and who may be the first character in the history of motion pictures to speak Latin into a cellphone, flagellates himself, smashes the floor of a church and kills a nun.

A chase, as Bezu's American colleagues might put it, ensues. It skids through the nighttime streets of Paris and eventually to London the next morning, with side trips to a Roman castle and a chateau in the French countryside. Along the way the film pauses to admire various knickknacks and art works, and to flash back, in desaturated color, to traumatic events in the childhoods of various characters (Langdon falls down a well; Sophie's parents are killed in a car accident; Silas stabs his abusive father).

There are also glances further back into history, to Constantine's conversion, to the suppression of the Knights Templar and to that time in London when people walked around wearing powdered wigs.

Through it all Mr. Hanks and Ms. Tautou stand around looking puzzled, leaving their reservoirs of charm scrupulously untapped. Mr. Hanks twists his mouth in what appears to be an expression of professorial skepticism and otherwise coasts on his easy, subdued geniality. Ms. Tautou, determined to ensure that her name will never again come up in an Internet search for the word "gamine," affects a look of worried fatigue.

In spite of some talk (a good deal less than in the book) about the divine feminine, chalices and blades, and the spiritual power of sexual connection, not even a glimmer of eroticism flickers between the two stars. Perhaps it's just as well. When a cryptographer and a symbologist get together, it usually ends in tears.

But thank the deity of your choice for Ian McKellen, who shows up just in time to give "The Da Vinci Code" a jolt of mischievous life. He plays a wealthy and eccentric British scholar named Leigh Teabing. (I will give Mr. Brown this much: he's good at names. If I ever have twins or French poodles, I'm calling them Bezu and Teabing for sure.)

Hobbling around on two canes, growling at his manservant, Remy (Jean-Yves Berteloot), Teabing is twinkly and avuncular one moment, barking mad the next. Sir Ian, rattling on about Italian paintings and medieval statues, seems to be having the time of his life, and his high spirits serve as something of a rebuke to the filmmakers, who should be having and providing a lot more fun.

Teabing, who strolls out of English detective fiction by way of a Tintin comic, is a marvelously absurd creature, and Sir Ian, in the best tradition of British actors slumming and hamming through American movies, gives a performance in which high conviction is indistinguishable from high camp. A little more of this — a more acute sense of its own ridiculousness — would have given "The Da Vinci Code" some of the lightness of an old-fashioned, jet-setting Euro-thriller.

But of course movies of that ilk rarely deal with issues like the divinity of Jesus or the search for the Holy Grail. In the cinema such matters are best left to Monty Python. In any case Mr. Howard and Mr. Goldsman handle the supposedly provocative material in Mr. Brown's book with kid gloves, settling on an utterly safe set of conclusions about faith and its history, presented with the usual dull sententiousness.

So I certainly can't support any calls for boycotting or protesting this busy, trivial, inoffensive film. Which is not to say I'm recommending you go see it.

The above semi-nonsense comes from The Onion, which bills itself as "America's finest news service." Click here.

Bird flu hits Florida trailer park.
Wreaks havoc..

Somebody really bored with too much time on their hands set this photo up.

Will Ferrell (as Bush) on Global Warming:
You'll love this short video by comedian Will Ferrell. Click here.

Women who are hard to find
Boudreaux and Thibodeaux are out fishing and sipping beer while discussing football and NASCAR.

All of a sudden Thibodeaux turns to Boudreaux and says, "I think I'm gonna divorce my wife... she hasn't spoken to me in over six months."

Boudreaux sips his beer and replies, "You better think it over... women like that are hard to find."

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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