Notes from a Fool
The Week in Review -- July 2, 1998
by Jerry Thomas (

Greetings, Fools.

Two-hundred and twenty-two years ago this weekend the United States of America declared its independence from Great Britain. On the whole, I think this was a good thing. For starters, George Washington's picture looks a heck of a lot better on money than Queen Elizabeth's ever did, and besides, if God had meant us to drive on the left side of the road, he wouldn't have invented the Chevy.

Our friends at Fool UK might be miffed at me to say so, but let's face it -- we Americans would be saddled with a whole lot of unpleasant cultural baggage if we were still wriggling under George III's thumb. Remember, it took an English brain to think up the Spice Girls, and it is only through the rectitude of our forefathers that we can blame that music on somebody else. Check out this point-by-point cultural comparison, and see if you don't agree with me that America has the edge:

        UK                      USA 
 Prince Charles           Duke Ellington 
 Boiled radishes          T-bone steak 
 Sir Isaac Newton         Bill Nye, the Science Guy 
 The Royal Albert Hall    Lollapalooza 
 Wallace & Grommit        Beavis & Butthead 
 British Petroleum        Jerry Lewis's hair 
 Ringo                    Elvis 
 Cricket                  Paintball 
 Bond                     Matlock 
 Gielgud                  Danza 
 Virgin Atlantic          Union Pacific 
 Guinness Stout           Bud Light 
 Masterpiece Theatre      Hee Haw
See? For every William Shakespeare they toss at us, we've got six Tom Clancys to throw back in their faces. Think about that this weekend while you pause reverently as the parade goes by.

You might also want to spend part of this weekend thinking about a form of independence that hits closer to home. Like any good Fool, I'm speaking of your financial independence. Take some time to consider what life would be like if you were totally free from Wise underperformance. Or if you were able to declare your independence from consumer debt. Better still, let our own David Wolpe (TMF Dbunk) guide you to financial freedom with his Foolish Declaration of Financial Independence. If you're new to the Fool, this is a good place to start, because David will lead you to many of the places on our site that will help you take the reins of your financial destiny.

This week was an eventful one for the Fool Portfolio as two trades were announced: the sale of its S&P500-tracking Spiders and the purchase of a new position in Starbucks Corp. (Nasdaq: SBUX). Starbucks, a company that made its name by selling overpriced cups of hot water in small cafes with uncomfortable seating, is one of those great consumer brand names that have outperformed its competitors with uncanny consistency. For the Foolish rationale behind this purchase, you'll want to study the Starbucks Buy Report by clicking here.

The Fool Portfolio also saw its Internet-related stocks continue to surge. Fool Port holding (Nasdaq: AMZN) saw its share price rise $14 in Wednesday's trading alone. In such frenzied action, keeping one's wits close at hand is a challenge in itself, even if you don't have a financial stake in the outcome. Fortunately, to help make sense of it all, we now can offer you Nico Detourn's (TMF Nico) Internet Stock Update. Nico's perceptive examination of this cyberspace whirlwind will do much for your understanding of the companies that are shaping this strange new medium. And after reading the update, you can exchange thoughts with Nico on our website at Nico's Internet Nook.

For pure fun, you'll want to check out our latest Dueling Fools feature. This week's spat looks at the troubles that plague Planet Hollywood (NYSE: PHL). Co-owner Bruce Willis faces some larger difficulties there than the killer asteroids from outer space that pester him in his latest flick, but Rick Munarriz (TMF Edible) thinks Bruno is up to the challenge. Fool Bill Barker objects to Rick's assessment, and expects a disaster at the box office if not on the screen. And if that happens, well, then Armageddon outta there.

Anyway, that's all the ink that's fit to flow from my pen today, Fools. (Who am I kidding? I'm typing this on a keyboard. Yeesh.) Take a good, long, easy weekend. Undo your belt a few notches, let yourself put your feet on the furniture, and spend at least a few minutes having fun with your friends at The Fool. Make sure your coals are glowing before you put your steaks on, and always be careful with firecrackers. Above all, be sure you don't shatter any eardrums when you hit those high notes in the National Anthem.

Until next week,
Fool on!


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