The Week in Review -- June 11, 1999

The Markets

  6/4 Close 6/11 Close Change %Change
DJIA 10799.84 10490.51 -309.33 -2.86
S&P 500 1327.75 1293.77 -33.98 -2.56
Nasdaq 2478.29 2447.88 -30.41 -1.23

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It Was a Very Good Year
by Jerry Thomas (

Greetings, Fools.
So, as I pointed out in last week's Notes, it's been a year since I began writing for you these small weekly pieces, what you might call invitations to spend some time meditating on Foolish things. I give you some choice links, offer some miscellaneous thoughts, and indulge a few creative whims. You should know that most of these pieces are written at six in the morning by a mind that is not often happy about being conscious at that hour. The deadline pressures in this nearly instantaneous new medium require that what you see is usually not much more than a rough draft with a spell-check run through it. I am almost never pleased with the work I turn out; there is always something I've said that I wish I hadn't. There is always some phrase that is either too pompous or too muddled, and should not have been allowed to stand.

Still, I do find a sort of loopy satisfaction in what I've managed to accomplish. Even in my shortcomings I hope we can all discover a goofy sense of fun. Dunderheads can be charming, yes? For example, in reviewing my work of the past year, find that I frequently return to the same themes, among them:

  • Boy, that Internet thing sure is swell, isn't it?

  • Them Fool writers, they're really something, hey?

  • Wise bad. Fool good! Yes, Fool go-o-ood!

  • Hey, check out the Fool Community! Trust me, you'll like it!
And you know what? I don't think that's going to change. Whatever difficulties I have in composing my thoughts, and whatever primitive brain function is responsible for the inadequacy of my ability to form intelligible English sentences at this hour (8:10 a.m. PDT as I write this), the themes I return to are the ones I instinctively know should be emphasized the most. This medium is remarkable, the Fool does have a mission to reform the financial services industry, our writers are outstanding, and what is happening on our message boards still impresses me, even after the thousands of hours I have spent enjoying them. No apologies here.

How's this for a terrific slate of Fool writers: David Gardner, Louis Corrigan, Dale Wettlaufer, Jeff Fischer, Warren Gump. In recent days, all of them responded to the now-infamous "Amazon.bomb" piece that was the cover story in Barron's a couple of weeks ago. All of their contributions have been collected together in a single Fool Special that states the general bullish case for the prospects of (Nasdaq: AMZN) while indicting the stark inadequacy of the traditional financial media. Even if you disagree with the conclusions, you will find their analyses provocative. Indulge yourself in that, because an opinion you find wanting can enrich your own if it spurs you to reinforce your own point of view. You might even want to take a moment to voice your own views by responding to our latest Amazon Poll Question.

When I praise our online community, it is with good cause. I am endlessly amazed at the efforts people will make, with no prompting beyond the simple joy of contribution, to add to the experience of all who come to take part in our conversations. I can pluck an example almost at random from the thousands of message board posts made every day: Consider a post from our Living Below Your Means message board that became Thursday's Post of the Day, in which one Fool describes the pleasures -- and even the romance -- of a husband and wife working together to achieve their savings goals.

Then there's that other kind of contribution Fools make -- the kind where you pull out your wallet. Last year Fool readers and staff alike collected more than $200,000 for Share Our Strength, a non-profit organization dedicated to improve the lives of low-income families and individuals across America. You can read all about how the money is being used in our latest Fool Charity Drive Update.

I'm grateful that I've had this forum to express myself over the past year, and to use it as my own best channel for promoting to the Foolish cause. In a way, I suppose it says a lot about the company I work for that a person like me has been given this assignment. After all, I am not an investment professional. I have no financial background beyond a few undergraduate classes in business and economics. I have no special insights into investing beyond what any Fool can learn by studying these pages. That speaks for Foolishness right there, and the principle that anyone, from any walk of life, can grasp the fundamentals of investing and make something worthwhile from that knowledge. It's an idea that's so crazy it could only happen in an investment forum founded by a couple of English majors. Tom & Dave, I'm even beginning to think this whole Motley Fool thing is an idea that is almost nuts enough to work.

Tuesday's Foolish Four report by Ann Coleman (TMF AnnC) gives you a splendid introduction to the mysteries of stock fluctuation. Also check out Barbara Eisner Bayer's Thursday Rule Breaker recap, in which she offers a stylish approach on managing your own money.

Finally, let me give a special thanks to Heather Wilhelm (TMF NoClue), who as producer/editor for these weekly Notes has had to put up with 52 full weeks of creative tantrums and artistic neurosis from yours truly. Thanks for keeping me in line, Heather.

Until next week,
Fool on!


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