The Week in Review -- August 6, 1999

The Markets

  7/30 Close 8/6 Close Change %Change
DJIA 10,655.15 10,714.03 +58.88 +0.55
S&P 500 1,328.72 1,300.29 -28.43 -2.14
Nasdaq 2,638.49 2,547.97 -90.52 -3.43

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Knowing Me, Knowing You
by Jerry Thomas (

Greetings, Fools.

Let me start with a confession. I've been writing these Notes every week for over a year now, and I still have no idea what my typical reader is like. A writer is supposed to know his audience, and I really don't.

But maybe that's a good thing. Maybe if I keep my focus on things that interest me, and on ideas that I find compelling myself, the rest of you will be urged to join me as I compose this little meditation each week. In other words, having only myself, I am my own best measure of what will appeal to the rest of you. And with that as my guide, let me direct your attention to something new at the Fool: News World.

Change is good. The Lunchtime and the Evening News are gone. And that only seems right � this growing, mercurial new medium, cyberspace, demands flexibility, and neat little packages of stuff aren't always the best way to organize your daily examination of the events that shape, from moment to moment, the world around you. Instead, News World now brings you a steady stream of Foolish commentary throughout the day. The Fool Plate Special is still there, and so is Fool on the Hill. The difference is that with News World, you get a wider array of choices � we'll be covering more stories, and in greater depth, than before. Moreover, with the new format you get to decide what is most important to you, not us. You know yourself best, so your own selection of material will suit you better than any one-size-fits-all grab bag we might happen to put together.

Along with this unveiling of the new this week, we had a bit of celebration of the old. The Motley Fool first went online in August of 1994. Suddenly it's five years later, and what started with three guys in an outbuilding behind David Gardner's house is suddenly a company of nearly 200 employees with a global audience. David's Rule Breaker Portfolio report on Wednesday makes for a good State of the Union Address, looking back on The Motley Fool's growth, as well as its plans for the future. It also sizes up the performance of the Rule Breaker Portfolio, which celebrated its fifth birthday this week, too. I had a chance to do my own celebrating as well � let me invite you to read the Fool Anniversary Special I was honored to write for the occasion.

Like I said, I don't know you, my reader, very well � and by you, I mean you in particular, the person reading these words at this very moment. Maybe you're the Ideal Fool, who never casts a worried glance at the CNBC stock ticker, who always keeps his eye on the horizon and the long term, and who isn't bothered by the flux and fretting of the markets from day to day. In that case, you weren't at all bothered by the stomach-churning volatility of the week just past, when all the indexes played roller coaster games and conducted bizarre experiments with financial vertigo. You know what? I'm not even going to look up the numbers: all I know is, prices were all over the place, with Internet stocks behaving in a particularly distressing manner. Ideal Fools, with their firmly set jaws and their swept-back hair, were bothered not in the least. They were busy reading Monday's Rule Breaker report by Jeff Fischer (TMF Jeff), or Wednesday's Fool on the Hill perspective from Warren Gump (TMF Gump). Are you Fool enough to celebrate when the markets drop? Perhaps these twin pieces will bring you closer to that high standard.

There were lots of things I enjoyed as I made my rounds through the Fool this week, and let me mention just two more before I move on. First there was Yi-Hsin Chang's consideration of marketing for the new film, The Blair Witch Project. I haven't seen this movie, but I suppose I'll have to go, if only to find out what everyone is talking about. It was twenty years before I got around to seeing The Exorcist after it came out, and for two decades I was forced to return a blank stare whenever anybody mentioned 360-degree head spins and flying pea soup. I'm not about to let that happen to me again, no sir.

Then there was the less supernatural but still quite practical Foolish Four Report, which came Wednesday from Barbara Eisner Bayer (TMF Venus). In it, Barbara tells you how to "divorce" your full service broker when that spark of romance leaves your relationship. Heart-rending as it might be, sometimes we must come to realize that some partnerships were just not meant to last. As we dab our eyes, it's best to make a clean break and move on. Barbara's piece will help you through the break-up.

So, as we put the lid on yet another Notes from a Fool, and as we step into our sixth year of online Folly, why don't we resolve to get to know each other a little better? You can always find me roaming around the Fool Community, especially the Cheeze-O-Rama Message Board, the link for which you'll find below.

Until next week,
Fool on!


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