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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 Friday, May 9, 2008:
You'll love this: I was overwhelmed yesterday by people asking for a list of my brokers' and my friends' stocks recommendations. Everyone figured this was an absolutely surefire way to make money. Namely: short all the lousy recommendations.

The sad part is that the bulk of the recommendations -- stocks like Sirius Satellite Radio and Qwest the phone company -- are all so low already. But these two (the last recommendations I remember) have nicely fallen.

Now the question is: How do I get on phone lists so more brokers can cold call me with their hot recommendations? Anyone got any ideas?

Not all recommendations suck. Reader Captain Bill Ludwick of Toledo, Ohio, says his credit union CDs are still paying 6.375% and are beating the S&P 500. I'm guessing he's picking his credit unions carefully.

Oil keeps going up. It hit $125.59. And long-term, it will keep going up. But this present boom smells like it needs to pull back a little, if only temporarily. Don't buy until they pull back. Look at the two easiest-to-play oil ETFs:

Fred Hickey's latest newsletter. He's seriously bearish. One major point: The Labor Department's April monthly survey of employment actually tallied to a loss of 287,000 jobs but the BLS (Bureau of Lies and Shenanigans). But BLS's computer model simply added 267,000. That came up with a net 20,000 loss, which everybody on BubbleVision raved about. It showed a much better economy.

Hickey's strategy "rebuild his precious metals positions on dips and rebuild tech stock put options. Targets for put options include Texas Instruments, Intel, SAP, Google, RIMM, Amazon, SanDisk, NetLogic Microsystems, ASML, KLA-Tencor, Lam Research and "others than my overpriced and vulnerable."

Check your junk mail box: I turned off Outlook's junk mail box because I couldn't train it. But the cursed thing still keeps dropping critical emails into it. I've now trained myself to check it regularly.

Costco is a cheap place to buy drugs. You don't have to be a paying member to buy their drugs. Generic drugs are also cheaper. I'm on Prilosec. The generic Omeprazole are 30% cheaper.

Mother's Day is Sunday. Though it's clearly commercial hype, mothers actually get annoyed if they're neglected. I have this on good authority.

You can send these flowers to your mother in China via

Comparative costs. My car's brake job cost $970 and a week. My bicycle's brake job cost $43.33 and ten minutes. It's a lot more fun, faster and far cheaper to beetle round New York City on a bicycle. You don't want to hear what parking here costs.

Credit default swaps (CDSs) hurt A.I.G. They dropped $9.11 billion in value in A.I.G.'s first quarter. Buffett called them "financial weapons on mass destruction." Wikipedia says

A CDS is a credit derivative between two counterparties, whereby one makes periodic payments to the other and receives the promise of a payoff if a third party defaults. The former party receives credit protection and is said to be the "buyer" whilst the other party provides credit protection and is said to be the "seller". The third party is known as the "reference entity."

When a credit event in the reference entity is triggered, the protection seller either takes delivery of the defaulted bond for the par value (physical settlement) or pays the protection buyer the difference between the par value and Recovery amount of the bond (cash settlement). Simply, the risk of default is transferred from the holder of the fixed income security to the seller of the swap.

Wall Street's business is inventing new financial products to sell. Sometimes the products fly. Sometimes they crash and burn (e.g. auction rate securities) Credit default swaps were only invented in 1995. My rule is simple: If I can't understand what they're selling me, I say no. That's an extension of my "When in doubt, stay out" rule. I still have no idea what a CDS actually is.

Stay away from Windows XP SP3. Turn off your automatic updates. Computerworld today reported that Windows XP Service Pack 3 sent some PCs into an endless series of reboots. A reader, Peter Zhu, who did update, says it works fine for him, but he notices no difference in performance or anything else. I wrote about this yesterday.

Another wonderful statistic: Twenty percent of Americans admit that they spend less time having sex because they are online, according to a survey conducted by advertising agency JWT.

Say what?

That was the reaction of the editors at Laptop Magazine, but it turns out many would choose to spend time with their connected gadgets rather than engage in sexual activity. Take Paul. He admits that he chose his new, just out-of-the-box BlackBerry Pearl over having sex with his girlfriend who was clad in black lingerie. “At the time, the sex had to wait. The BlackBerry was all that was on my mind,” he said. Turning down a sexual experience to spend time with a gadget or on the Net seems crazy, but certainly not unheard of.

This begs the question: What gadgets make us give up the big O? The laptop editors looked at some of today’s hottest hardware and assessed their sexual fulfillment. In their opinion, no device is worth giving up the ultimate pleasure, but they found eight that made us think twice. Top of the list was the Apple iPhone. The rest were Amazon Kindle, BlackBerry Curve, MacBook Air, Nintendo DS, Slacker Portable, ASUS Eee PC and Dash Express. For more of this nonsense, see Laptop Magazine.

Favorite old fart bumper stickers:

Another happy ending.
Background: New Zealand is the land where the men are men, and the sheep are scared.

A New Zealander was washed up on a beach after a terrible shipwreck. Only a sheep and a sheepdog were washed up with him.

Looking around, he realized that they were stranded on a deserted island. After being there a while, he got into the habit of taking his two animal companions to the beach every evening to watch the sun set.

One particular evening, the sky was a fiery red with beautiful cirrus clouds, the breeze was warm and gentle - a perfect night for romance.

As they sat there, the sheep started looking better and better to the lonely New Zealander. Soon, he leaned over to the sheep and... put his arm around it.

But the sheepdog, ever protective of the sheep, growled fiercely until the man took his arm from around the sheep..

After that, the three of them continued to enjoy the sunsets together but there was no more cuddling.

A few weeks passed by and, lo and behold, there was another shipwreck. The only survivor was a beautiful young woman, the most beautiful woman the man had ever seen... She was in a pretty bad way when he rescued her and he slowly nursed her back to health.

When the young maiden was well enough, he introduced her to their evening beach ritual. It was another beautiful sky, cirrus clouds, a warm and gentle breeze - perfect for a night of romance.

Pretty soon, the New Zealander started to get 'those feelings' again. He fought the urges as long as he could but he finally gave in and, realizing he now had the opportunity, leaned over to the young woman cautiously and whispered in her ear,

'Would you mind taking the dog for a walk?'

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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