Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment
Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.
8:30 AM EST, Monday, May 7: Horrible
flu/cold all weekend. Doc said take azithromycin; you'll be better in a week.
Don't take it; you'll be better in seven days. Doctor humor is worse that dentist
humor. My best: Three dentists, each of different specialties, are staring seriously
into my mouth. I ask, "My mouth is a disaster?" After a long pause,
one replies: "No, Harry, it's an annuity."
How can I live forever? The New York Times interviewed two medical scientists
(Lenny Guarente and Robert N. Butler) about how the body ages and the research
on trying to extend our healthy life span. Sad answer from long article:
There are no magic bullets, except the obvious lead a healthy life (no smoking),
with decent exercise and restrict your calorie intake. Excerpt:
you identified genes that can extend health and life span?
genes we study counteract aging. First we studied yeast cells, and it took us
eight years to identify a gene called SIR2, which protects the cells from damage
during the aging process. Then we did a similar experiment in a more complex
critter, the roundworm, and what was remarkable is, we identified the same gene.
That told us that this type of gene is performing an antiaging function broadly
Do humans have
one gene in our genome, SIRT1, that would be a dead ringer for this one
the technical term is ortholog but we also have six other genes that
have a related sequence to this. Theyre called sirtuins, and theyre
all going to play a role, but I think the dead ringer is undoubtedly the most
important based on experiments that have been done.
a fairly radical concept: that these longevity genes have the power to keep
the body supercharged and maintaining its natural repair activities regardless
of age. Does that mean we could live, what, another 20, 30 years? Fifty?
GUARENTE: We think
the sirtuin genes are there to recognize lack of food or other stressful situations
and to spring into action to create a physiology that will promote longevity.
The evolutionary value is that in times of stress food scarcity, for
example this gene would slow down the aging process and keep you alive
longer, so that when times are better, you could reproduce.
But how long
would the gene work? Maybe it only operates temporarily?
GUARENTE: We can
gauge this by asking what happens in rodents on a calorie-restricted diet,
which mimics food scarcity and activates the SIR2 gene. Do they live forever?
No. They live up to 50 percent longer. So in a perfect world, one would
hope that we could live 50 percent longer than the current expected life span.
In our lifetimes,
could this happen?
GUARENTE: I think
one can expect perhaps another decade of robust health.
A lot of it comes down to our willingness in this country to make an investment
in the biology of aging. Historically, weve devoted our energies and money
to studying one disease at a time. At the same time, we have neglected targeting
the underlying risk factor of aging.
Are you saying
that aging itself leads to disease?
BUTLER: Why does
50 percent of all cancer occur after 65? Why does 80 percent occur after age
50? As we age, there are changes at the cellular molecular level that predispose
us to disease and disability. But so far, no government, no foundation, no corporation
anywhere in the world has fully embraced the importance of longevity science.
If we could target aging, that would have an impact on diseases.
What do you mean
down aging in the same way that calorie restriction slows down aging. Bob makes
an important point about diseases and aging. I believe that the two are intertwined
and experimentally this has been demonstrated by using modern strains of mice
that have been genetically altered to get specific diseases for example,
neurodegenerative diseases or cancer, or cardiovascular disease or diabetes
and to see whether calorie restriction will either postpone or prevent
these diseases. The general finding is that calorie restriction forestalls many
of these diseases. The hypothesis is that if one could activate the sirtuin
genes not by a calorie-restricted diet but pharmacologically then
this would have an impact on the diseases of aging.
How close are
we to such a drug being available?
maybe 15 years. I think the drugs that aim at sirtuins, for example, will be
tested initially for a particular disease, say, diabetes. And it will turn out
that the drugs have broader benefits than one initially imagined.
the stockmarket continue its run? One key is the Fed. If it raises
rates because of inflation fears, it will clobber the advance. But inflation
may be mixed.
Chart from May 5, Economist
Concludes the Economist in a story called "Stag
Add these mixed
signals on growth to the uncertainties about inflation and the chances are
that the Fed will simply do nothing for a good while yet. Unlike in fashion,
in central banking the underlying trend can take a while to spot.
I want Rupert Murdoch to own the Wall Street Journal. He might
spend some money on it. The Bancroft family has been sucking the Journal dry,
not investing for the future. In 2006, they paid themselves in dividends more
than 55% of the Journal's latest earnings. In 2005, they paid themselves
37% more than the company earned. I think Murdoch recognizes beefing
up the online version. I'd like to see information on shares on foreign markets,
e.g. Australia. Ironically, BusinessWeek has just announced a beefing-up of
its Company Insight Center, which is free and on BusinessWeek.com.
I checked it quickly out this morning. So far, I prefer the Wall Street Journal's
site for company material. BusinessWeek's is still in beta and looks it, too.
Internet Explorer 7. OK. I'm now willing to recommend you upgrade to
Microsoft's free Internet Explorer 7. It's stolen all the Firefox's neatest
features -- including multiple tabbed sites and thumbnails of the sites you
have open. One recommendation, when you're installing it, don't agree to installing
the anti-pfishing and Windows Defender software -- no matter how many times
it bugs you. You don't need these irksome add-ons. I'm also guessing my readers
are not stupid enough to open email attachments from unknown sources or click
on links in emails alerting you to free money or mistakes in PayPal account.
Windows Media files in QuickTime on your Apple Mac laptop or desktop.
This free Microsoft software will allow you to play Windows video on your Apple
A minister decided that a visual demonstration would add emphasis to his Sunday
Four worms were
placed into four separate jars. The first worm was put into a container of alcohol.
The second worm was put into a container of cigarette smoke. The third worm
was put into a container of chocolate syrup. The fourth worm was put into a
container of good clean soil. At the conclusion of the sermon, the Minister
reported the following results:
The first worm in alcohol - Dead.
The second worm in cigarette smoke - Dead .
Third worm in chocolate syrup - Dead.
Fourth worm in good clean soil - Alive.
So the Minister
asked the congregation - What can you learn from this demonstration?
Maxine was sitting
in the back, quickly raised her hand and said,
"As long as you drink, smoke and eat chocolate, you won't have worms!"
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 .
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