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 EST, Wednesday, September 19, 2007:
Yesterday was one of those days you can't predict but show you have to be invested. The Dow was up 2.5%. Most year's gains come from days like yesterday. Miss out a few big up days and you lose most of your year's gains. Timing is a fool's game.

For the Fed, yesterday's 50 basis point reduction was HUGE. They're clearly worried. And they said it:,

Developments in financial markets since the Committee’s last regular meeting have increased the uncertainty surrounding the economic outlook.

Likely repercussions from the 50 basis point drop: Higher oil, higher gold, lower dollar, higher exports, higher-priced imports.

Overseas stocks and investments look increasingly good.

If you're running a business, hoard cash for the rainy day that's coming.

There is increasing talk of an upcoming recession. Time magazine points out that real estate accounted for 46% of job gains from 2001 through mid-2006. I don't see a replacement industry. Stratfor, the excellent analysis firm writes this morning:

Geopolitical Diary: Recession Ho?

The U.S. Federal Reserve reduced the federal funds rate from 5.25 percent to 4.75 percent on Tuesday.

A half-point cut is not something the Federal Reserve does often or lightly, as it indicates a sharp change for the worse in the institution's assessment of the United States' economic health. And though making economic forecasts is often little more scientific than staring at pig entrails, the evidence is mounting that a global slowdown -- and perhaps even a recession -- could be in the works. The housing market continues to cool, while consumer confidence appears to be waffling. Add in the agony of the start of an election season in which half of the country's political elite has a vested interest in convincing voters that the gravy train is over (and it is his fault!) and a recession cannot be ruled out.

What to do when your landline phone goes kaput: Yesterday my main phone number went dead. People would call and hear ring, ring. But no answer and no me (which is worse). In order:

1. Reboot your phone system. Turn it off. Count to ten. Turn it on. Just like you do with a computer. Sometimes it works. It didn't work for me yesterday.

2. Call Verizon Repair. You speak to a machine. The only way to speak to a person is to scream "AGENT." Eventually the machine gets the message you want to speak to a real live human. Screaming the word "operator" doesn't work.

3. Report the problem. Tell the Verizon human (they do exist) you want all your incoming calls forwarded to another number -- that number might be a second landline if you have one, or your cell phone. You'll get your calls. The emergency has subsided.

4. Eventually your landline will be fixed. No check they gave you back the right number. Call 1-800-444-4444. That number will tell you the number you're calling from. It works from anywhere for any phone. Neat.

5. Once it's all solved and working, you need to pick your the erstwhile busted phone line and dial 73#. That will kill the call forwarding.

6. Along the way a repairman might visit, make sure you reward him handsomely and get his cell phone -- so he can help you next time you need him. There will be a next time. Trust me on this one.

More reasons to avoid flying: This year in air travel merits a place in the record books, says the New York Times. During the first eight months of 2007, a quarter of all domestic flights arrived late. Late flights also created a deluge of missed connections, and flight cancellations were higher than ever. In the three months ending Aug. 31, 52,840 domestic flights were canceled, according to That number compared with about 16,000 in the same period last year.

“About the only flight that took off on time this summer was the space shuttle,” said Joe Brancatelli, whose subscription business-travel Web site is

Hay fever season started August 24: Everyone in New York is coughing, sneezing and spluttering. Their eyes are red and swollen. Ditto for their noses. It's the hay fever season. Some pills work, .e.g Claritin. Personally I hate medication I don't "need." Here are my pet "cures":

1. Regularly wash my face with hot water and soap, and then plain cold water.
2. Do a couple of jumping jacks. Exercise usually stops hay fever, at least for me.
3. Get horizontal for a few minutes. A couch works wonders.
4. Crank my airconditioner up. Make the room colder.
5. Stay away from obvious irritants -- dust, pollen, etc.
6. Pray for the first frost.

The New York Times on-line is suddenly free: They have some gobblidigook reason about going to an advertising model. Who cares. For now, you can read everything for free. You don't even have to get the print edition. Check it out -- Good news: occasionally they get it right.

Angels on a pinhead. Intel's new chips will be faster, use less energy, have better graphics and memory-control and will use as many as eight processing cores. Intel is making its chips smaller. The 32-nanometer chips, due out in 2009, will use transistors so small that more than 4 million of them could fit on the head of a pin. Yes, you just learned another piece of irrelevant information. Ain't this column wonderful?

Why Iraq is so hard: This past weekend one of our ex-doorman, Marbin Maradiaga, died in a car accident. Marbin had worked for our building in 2004 until he was asked to go to Iraq with the Army Reserves. Our building's manager talked to Marbin when he came back from Iraq. Marbin told of a raid they made one night. "There was a young Iraq male about nineteen that always pretended to be their friend and joked with them all the time. So one night we thought we would pull a joke on him and raided his house. We found the largest stash of weapons and explosives that we had found anywhere the whole year Marbin was in Iraq."

Disgruntled Belgian Tries to Sell His Country. Fed up with a flap between Belgium's powerful Flemish and Walloon political blocs, a Belgian teacher decided to post an advertisement offering to sell the entire country on eBay. The Associated Press reported that Gerrit Six posted the ad Saturday, dutifully pointing out that the country was coming secondhand and mentioning to potential buyers the more than $300 billion in national debt they would have to take on. But Mr. Six touted Belgium's art nouveau architecture in the ad, as well as its status as the headquarters of NATO and the EU and its world class beers. He also offered free delivery. Mr. Six said the ad was a protest against the political gridlock the country has faced since June 10 elections. Following that vote, efforts to cobble together a coalition have been frustrated as demands for more autonomy from Belgium's Dutch-speaking Flemish population have been opposed the nation's French-speaking Walloons. The controversy has prompted some to worry that the kingdom may be heading toward a breakup. While eBay Belgium at first welcomed the listing, they took it down Tuesday, after receiving a bid for 10 million euros for the country.

Born in the U.S. of A
Morris was working as a handyman for a synagogue and asked for a raise. He was turned down. So, Morris resigned.

He then went over to the Catholic Church to seek gainful employment. There, the Priest asked him, "Where was Jesus born?"

Morris answered, "Pittsburgh." The Priest then told Morris that he could not have the job.

He went over to the Baptist church, and the minister said Morris could have the job if he could answer one question, "Where was Jesus born?"

"Philadelphia," Morris answered.

He was tossed out.

Walking away, he ran into the Rabbi. "Morris," the Rabbi said. "I'm so glad I ran into you. I took your request for a raise to our Board and they voted unanimously to approve your raise. Please come back."

"I will come back," Morris said, "but only if you answer a question for me. Where was Jesus born?"

"Bethlehem," said the Rabbi.

Cried Morris: "I KNEW it was in Pennsylvania!!!"

The Syrian Air Force:
The captain of a Syrian Air Force transport flying over the Mediterranean sends out a MAYDAY message:

"This is Syrian Air Force # 174 announcing we have lost one engine and want to land at any airport in the Middle East OTHER than Israel!"

No answer.

A while later he announces, "This is Syrian Air Force # 174 again. We have now lost two engines and need to land at any airport in the Middle East OTHER than Israel!"


A short while later the captain announces, "This is Syrian Air Force #174. We are desperate. We have now lost THREE engines an urgently ask permission to land at any airport in the Middle East OTHER than Israel!"

Still no answer.

Finally the captain calls out, "Help! This is Syrian Air Force #174. We have only one engine left and it is rapidly failing. Unless we can land we are going to crash. We need permission to land at ANY airport in the Middle East INCLUDING Israel!"

Shortly thereafter, a voice is heard in the Syrian cockpit:

"Shalom Syrian Air Force # 174. This is Tel Aviv approach control. We would like to help."

"Allah be praised," says the Syrian pilot. "Please give me instructions."

"Do you speak Hebrew?"


"OK, then repeat after me: Yisgadal Viyiskadash Shimay Rabbah......"

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.
Go back.