George, We Hardly Knew Ye
The Week in Review -- November 13, 1998
by Jerry Thomas (

Greetings, Fools.

Perhaps, like me, you have had the pleasure of meeting George Runkle (aka TMF Runkle). If you have, you might have been impressed, as I was, with his demeanor, which is remarkably unassuming. An engineer by trade, he's not given to demonstrative displays of emotion. He's what you might call, "reserved." In fact, it is hard to reconcile the fact that George is present in the same universe that also allows for the existence of Dennis Rodman, day-glo paint, and Mariah Carey's voice. I mean, when you talk to him, you get the idea that he is the kind of guy who arranges his sock drawer according to the Dewey decimal system.

It began with a few offhand remarks on our Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) message board. George wrote a post, a dead-on lampoon of your all-too average Wall Street investment newsletter, which became Tuesday's already-legendary Post of the Day. In it, George invents a fictitious investment firm -- Hype & Hysteria Investment Advisors -- that is more interested in dazzling its customers with mumbling jargon than in maximizing their customers' returns. That post drew such a huge response that it spawned its own message board -- Hype, Hysteria, and Runkle -- which has Fools from everywhere expanding on George's droll joke, and building HHIA's duplicity to mythic proportions. Only three days old, that board already has over 400 posts. One post contributed by the Fool who goes by the screen name "AlphaWolf" styled itself as an HHIA press release. Appearing on the day after K-tel International (Nasdaq: KTEL) shares doubled on news of a deal with Playboy Enterprises (NYSE: PLA), the post read:

Today, AlphaWolf, former CEO of the Department of Redundancy Department for H&H Investment, issued a strong buy for KTEL as of yesterday morning. "We recommend that you should have bought KTEL early in the day and sold it by market close as part of our short-term buy and hold market timing investment strategy."

And that's just one contribution. If you're as crazy as George is, you might want to begin at Post #1 and read it all the way through to the end. All in all, this is the biggest message board stunt to hit Fooldom since the Zeigletics hoax that, way back in 1994, helped form the nascent personality of your favorite online financial site, The Motley Fool.

The Fool Portfolio, meanwhile, is remaking itself. Or perhaps that is stating the case too strongly. Over the course of the eons of portfolio management, an earnest Fool, if he is attentive, will learn some lessons along the way. In this case, the Fool is TMF co-founder David Gardner, and he has been codifying those lessons in preparation for the release of the next Fool Book, which David writes with his brother Tom: Rule Makers, Rule Breakers. David is scribbling the Rule Breaker side of that opus, and this week he began explaining his six principles for this perhaps most aggressive approach to Foolish investing. What are they? Nothing less than The Rules for Breaking the Rules. The first two of these dicta are presented in Monday's and Wednesday's Fool Portfolio reports, and those who follow our real-money online portfolios will want to examine them closely.

It was business as usual this week in our news department. In Tuesday evening's Fool on the Hill, Dale Wettlaufer discusses the challenges facing the insurance industry and actually makes lucid this sometimes arcane topic. One Fool reader who works in the industry sent us a note saying, in part, "Your piece on the insurance industry contains the best, succinct analysis and explanation of the industry's economic base I have ever seen." Am I going to argue with that? Nevah!

A few quick takes before I run along: Wednesday's Fool Workshop spells out its Ground Rules for Beating the S&P -- just one more addition to the burgeoning pile of screening methodology that emerges from that laboratory every day. And speaking of every day, why not begin yours with Breakfast with the Fool? It is, after all, the most important meal of the day, and this, along with toast, juice, and hot cereal, makes for a hearty meal. Finally, if you're looking for a place to begin your research on Internet companies, one place to begin is in our new collection of Internet Interviews, which contains information direct from the executives who run the corporations that are creating the future.

Until next week,
Fool on!



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