Technology Investor 

Harry Newton's In Search of The Perfect Investment Newton's In Search Of The Perfect Investment. Technology Investor.

Previous Columns
8:30 AM Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2005: The Pilgrims who sailed to this country aboard the Mayflower were originally members of the English Separatist Church (a Puritan sect). They had earlier fled their home in England and sailed to Holland (The Netherlands) to escape religious persecution. There, they enjoyed more religious tolerance, but they eventually became disenchanted with the Dutch way of life, thinking it ungodly. Seeking a better life, the Separatists negotiated with a London stock company to finance a pilgrimage to America. Most of those making the trip aboard the Mayflower were non-Separatists, but were hired to protect the company's interests. Only about one-third of the original colonists were Separatists.

The Mayflower

The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating. At the beginning of the following fall, they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast -- including 91 Indians who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives. The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival than a true "thanksgiving" observance. It lasted three days.

Governor William Bradford sent "four men fowling" after wild ducks and geese. It is not certain that wild turkey was part of their feast. However, it is certain that they had venison. The term "turkey" was used by the Pilgrims to mean any sort of wild fowl.

Another modern staple at almost every Thanksgiving table is pumpkin pie. But it is unlikely that the first feast included that treat. The supply of flour had been long diminished, so there was no bread or pastries of any kind. However, they did eat boiled pumpkin, and they produced a type of fried bread from their corn crop. There was also no milk, cider, potatoes, or butter. There was no domestic cattle for dairy products, and the newly-discovered potato was still considered by many Europeans to be poisonous. But the feast did include fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums.

This "thanksgiving" feast was not repeated the following year. But in 1623, during a severe drought, the pilgrims gathered in a prayer service, praying for rain. When a long, steady rain followed the very next day, Governor Bradford proclaimed another day of Thanksgiving, again inviting their Indian friends. It wasn't until June of 1676 that another Day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed.

On June 20, 1676, the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts, held a meeting to determine how best to express thanks for the good fortune that had seen their community securely established. By unanimous vote they instructed Edward Rawson, the clerk, to proclaim June 29 as a day of thanksgiving. It is notable that this thanksgiving celebration probably did not include the Indians, as the celebration was meant partly to be in recognition of the colonists' recent victory over the "heathen natives."

October of 1777 marked the first time that all 13 colonies joined in a thanksgiving celebration. It also commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga. But it was a one-time affair. George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, although some were opposed to it. There was discord among the colonies, many feeling the hardships of a few Pilgrims did not warrant a national holiday. And later, President Thomas Jefferson scoffed at the idea of having a day of thanksgiving.

It was Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, whose efforts eventually led to what we recognize as Thanksgiving. Hale wrote many editorials championing her cause in her Boston Ladies' Magazine, and later, in Godey's Lady's Book. Finally, after a 40-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale's obsession became a reality when, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving was proclaimed by every president after Lincoln. The date was changed a couple of times, most recently by Franklin Roosevelt, who set it up one week to the next-to-last Thursday in order to create a longer Christmas shopping season. Public uproar against this decision caused the president to move Thanksgiving back to its original date two years later. And in 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November. (This history from the web site

What I shall give thanks about today:
+ A healthy, happy family.
+ A nice collection of healthy, happy, interesting friends.
+ Living in America and being a proud American.

Many of my friends are depressed about Iraq, its cost in lives and money. It doesn't please me. But our most endearing quality, as Americans, is our incredible generosity. We're always saving the world from something. Sometimes our "saves" are spectacularly successful -- as they were with Hitler and communism. Sometimes, they come up short. But we never stop trying to make the world a better place. And that's something to give serious thanks about. Make sure your kids know.

A Hint That Fed's Rate Increases May End Soon. Good news. From yesterday morning's New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 - The Federal Reserve offered its first hint on Tuesday that its long series of interest rate increases could be drawing to an end. Some analysts said the minutes confirmed that the Fed was closing in on a "neutral" rate that neither stokes inflation nor slows economic growth.

In minutes from the Fed's Nov. 1 meeting, which were released on Tuesday (i.e yesterday), policy makers said that they would soon have to change the advance guidance about rate increases that they have been providing since the spring of 2004. In that guidance, the Fed has consistently said that it would seek to raise the overnight federal funds rate at a "measured" pace - which investors have understood to be a quarter-point increase at each policy meeting.

According to the minutes, which are an edited summary of discussions at the Federal Open Market Committee, policy makers agreed that their statement about the outlook on rates "would have to be changed before long." But officials also agreed that they could stick to their existing emphasis "for this meeting."...

The central bank has raised the federal funds rate 12 times since June 2004, to 4 percent from 1 percent....

A Thanksgiving Story
An elderly man in Phoenix calls his son in New York and says, "I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; forty-five years of misery is enough."

"Pop, what are you talking about!" the son screams.

"We can't stand the sight of each other any longer," the old man says. "We're sick and tired of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her." He hangs up.

Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone. "Like Heck they're getting a divorce," she shouts. "I'll take care of this."

She calls Phoenix immediately, and screams at the old man, "You are NOT getting divorced! Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don't do a single thing. DO YOU HEAR ME?" She hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife. "They're coming for Thanksgiving and -- for the first time -- paying their own way."

The First Jewish President of the United States
The first Jewish President of the United States calls his mother in Queens and invites her to come down for Thanksgiving. She says, "I'd like to, but it's so much trouble. I mean, I have to get a cab to the airport and I hate waiting on Queens Blvd..."

He replies, "Mom! I'm the President! You won't need a cab. I'll send a limousine for you!"

His mother replies, "I know, but then I'll have to get my ticket at the airport and try to get a seat on the plane, and I hate to sit in the middle... it's just too much trouble."

He replies, "Mom! I'm the President of the United States! I'll send Air Force One for you - it's my private jet!"

To which she replies, "Oh, well, but then when we land, I'll have to carry my luggage through the airport and try to get a cab... it's really too much trouble."

He replies, "Mom! I'm the President! I'll send a helicopter for you! You won't have to lift a finger."

She answers, "Yes, that's nice... but, you know, I still need a hotel room, and the rooms are so expensive and I really don't like the rooms..."

Exasperated, he answers, "Mom! I'm the President! You'll stay at the White House and sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom."

She responds, "Well...all right...I guess I'll come."

The next day, she's on the phone with her friend Betty," what's new?"

Sylvia: "I'm visiting my son for Thanksgiving!"

Betty: "The doctor?"

Sylvia: "No ... the other one."

Stocks and I are coming back: The family are in for Thanksgiving. I'll be back on Friday. USA Today has a piece on today "Stage is set for big market comeback."Says the newspaper, "Stocks, dormant most of the year, are suddenly streaking higher and look poised to shed their underachieving label (for 2005)." Cross your fingers. If you want to read USA Today's piece, Click here.

Recent column highlights:
+ Dumb reasons we hold losing stocks. Click here.
+ How my private equity fund is doing. Click here.
+ Blackstone private equity funds. Click here.
+ Manhattan Pharmaceuticals: Click here.
+ NovaDel Biosciences appeals. Click here.
+ Hana Biosciences appeals. Click here.
+ All turned on by biotech. Click here.
+ Steve Jobs Commencement Address. The text is available: Click here. The full audio is available. Click here.
+ The March of the Penguins, an exquisite movie. Click here.
+ When to sell stocks. Click here.

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. That money will help pay Claire's law school tuition. Read more about Google AdSense, click here and here.
Go back.