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Post of the Day
November 12, 1999

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Rule Breaker - Strategies

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Subject:  Taking a Break From The Fool
Author:  Absynthe

Friends, Romans, Countrymen:

I don't know a lot of you. I'm sure that you're all upstanding folks with powerful strong opinions regarding the stock market, capitalism, and tons of other subjects. So take this opinion in the spirit in which it was inspired. If I step on any toes, forgive me.

I've been involved with the computer industry for the past six years or so. During that time, I've worked extensively with MSFT products as well as other companies' wares. I've watched the cycles of competition, healthy and otherwise, play out in the business arena, the homeowner's arena, and the media. I watched this DoJ trial more than the O.J. trial. And when Jackson pronounced his findings I found myself more or less agreeing with his positions.

Then Monday hits on the Fool.

"If anything, I would think that people supporting the free market would want the existing rules of government enforced."

I expected the usual amount of (AAPL vs. MSFT) and (RHAT vs. MSFT) banter, but nowhere in the deepest corners of my soul did I expect Mr. Gardner to claim that this call was "unAmerican". If anything, I would think that people supporting the free market would want the existing rules of government enforced. But David instead chose to create some very convenient definitions of 'monopoly' (usually the one that best defended his position at the time and didn't address the issue at hand) and to substitute a defense of his position with the usual Foolish attitude. When called on this bluff, David tried the same tactics in a second post -- which was anointed as the Post of the Day. Slightly annoyed at this point, but tolerable. This is the Gardner's World, after all; we just live here.

But what tipped my scales from slight annoyance to outright disgust was the guest commentary on last night's Rule Maker portfolio. Instead of a coherent discussion about what these findings of fact actually mean, another well-meaning person entered the fray with another inappropriate metaphor for the scenario. I say 'inappropriate' because rather than analysis, it depended on portraying MSFT as the everyday working hero in the White Hat and the DoJ as the Black Hat in an effort to persuade people. No discussion of what happened or what will happen, just a 'MSFT good, guv'mint BAD' rant wrapped in yet another invalid metaphor (I'd analyze it myself, but I'm sure anyone with knowledge of the computer industry can do it).

Isn't this type of behavior exactly what the Motley Fool was created to debunk?!?

"I thought this place was to educate, first and foremost. Education begins with facts and discussion of said facts."

Rather than take an overly emotional view of a company and its stock, we as Fools are supposed to look at the cold hard facts (the financial statements, the management goals) and ignore the brayings of those who would tell you how to view the data (the persuasive arguments of the Wise, the scare tactics of the day-traders). I thought this place was to educate, first and foremost. Education begins with facts and discussion of said facts. Otherwise it is not a matter of who has the strongest opinion, but who has the loudest voice; and as long as the Fool is run by the Gardners... well, if there was any doubt who has the loudest voice, it was proven here this week.

So I'm leaving for a while -- not because my beliefs weren't espoused, but because I believe the forum for a decent discussion does not currently exist. I'm taking these bells off until the beginning of next year. I'll check back then and see if things have returned to normal. I suggest that anyone who feels likewise do the same. This constant psych contest gets old after a while, like talking with the kid who would disagree with you simply by saying, "Am not." There's no way to win, or even get the argument back on topic. The only option is to leave.

Goodbye for a While,
Absynthe