Notes from a Fool
The Week in Review -- June 26, 1998
by Jerry Thomas ([email protected])
This is the week that Forbes magazine published its annual roll call of billionaires, and once again, my name isn't on it. This is getting tedious. Bill "Pocket Protector" Gates tops the list with a net worth in the neighborhood of $51 billion, not counting the six nickels at the bottom of his sock drawer. Meanwhile, at the Brunei 7-11, where the Sultan buys his Slurpees, there's a little dish next to the cash register with a sign on it that says, "Take a Krugerrand, leave a Krugerrand." At number two, the Sultan of Brunei is a relative piker with a mere $36 billion -- still enough to get him any room he wants at the local Quality Inn, with clean towels, to boot -- but when he visits Bill's house, he still has to make his own breakfast.
Obviously, my jealousy of Mr. Gates is showing. I can't help it. It's just that you'd think that with the law of averages, out of fifty-one billion dollars, at least a couple of those dollars would belong to me. But noooo. The money just sits there, in a pile, mocking me, every last dime of it. "We aren't yours," it taunts. "Not even a bit of us. We all belong to Mr. Gates.".
I'm trying to keep my envy in check, but I'm not the only one bothered by Mr. Gates's billions. There's this obscure government group known as the Department of Justice that is giving Bill's Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) fits. Microsoft is a monopoly, says the D of J, and therefore must be stopped, lest it claim what little money is left in the world for the rest of us. Sympathies seem to be evenly split, with some siding with Gates, and the others backing Reno's Warriors. This week, the Fool's Finest trotted out their own opinions to examine the issue, with Louis Corrigan (TMF Seymor) and Rick Munarriz (TMF Edible) siding with the DOJ, and Yi-Hsin Chang (TMF Puck) and Brian Graney (TMF Panic) siding with Darth -- er, Gates. It's a special Foolish Microsoft Opinion feature, and you aren't likely to find a more cogent examination of the Microsoft imbroglio.
This is also the week that saw the split of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. I'm sure that readers everywhere are shaken by this disturbing news, but be of good cheer. Karma still rules the universe, and decrees that for every split that happens in this earthly realm, there must also be a union to counterbalance it. And so, the forces of time and space called upon AT&T (NYSE: T) to seek the hand of Tele-Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: TCOMA). The market rated it a good match for TCI, which rallied on the news, but it wondered if perhaps AT&T was marrying beneath itself. Shares of T swooned this week after the announcement. Fortunately the Fool's Dale Wettlaufer was there to observe the nuptials, and explained it all for you in Wednesday's Lunchtime News.
When it was suggested to me earlier this week that I use these notes to plug this week's Dueling Fools feature on Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), I balked. Aren't there enough Viagra jokes out there already? I asked. Isn't this topic dangerous in my hands, considering my total lack of restraint when it comes to lunging headlong for the easy one-liner? And hasn't Jay Leno already beaten this one to death? I mean, Pfizer is even the subject of the latest Polling All Fools question at our website, for crying out loud. In the Dueling Fools piece, Fool Paul Larson (TMF Parlay) likes Pfizer's chances, while the omnipresent Louis Corrigan demurs. And, demonstrating remarkable restraint, I made it through this entire paragraph without being naughty.
Finally, I want to make mention of one of the burgeoning communities at our website. One never knows where people might choose to congregate, or what issue they might take up as their cause. But if Barbara Eisner Bayer (TMF Venus) is behind it, it's probably going to be popular.
I'm talking, of course, of the Women & Investing message folder. Women have special challenges when it comes to money, which Barbara explains better than I ever could in Thursday's Fool Portfolio Recap. The W&I folder draws lively people to an entertaining discussion, which Venus leads with aplomb. She may be a Barbie, but managing money certainly isn't beyond her ken. Pay her a visit -- you'll learn and have fun.
Until next week,
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