Let me begin by saying that I remind myself from time to time that I am incredibly privileged to have you read this. To be able to communicate my thoughts to you and thousands of others each day in this space is an honor, and I want to acknowledge that regularly lest I forget the deepest truths. Thanks for clicking in today!

And a fine day it was on the markets. The Rule Breaker portfolio rebounded another 5.83%, putting it just ahead of the NOW 50, our Motley Fool index of today's 50 most relevant businesses. For the year, the BreakerPort stands at 6.70%, a sliver ahead of the NOW's gains of 6.35%.

Given that the NOW started trading at 2000 here in the year 2000, it should be a pretty easy index to keep track of for a long, long time. And I encourage you to bookmark this page to follow the NOW, or just do what I do and select it as an index to track on your My Fool page.

I was about to be on CNN yesterday during our regularly appointed Fool time (Tuesdays, around 11:30 a.m.) when the network came back from a commercial break and did a market recap. And you know what we heard about? How the Nasdaq had suffered its "fourth biggest point drop ever."


This isn't about CNN, as it happens everywhere, across all media it seems. If the financial media keep this up, as the market rises to ever-higher point totals over the long term, a 1% drop will represent increasingly huge point totals... and yet it'll still only be a lousy 1% drop. If the Nasdaq rises 10% annually from its close today, 20 years from now it will trade in the 32,000 range. A 1% drop will therefore represent a mammoth decline of 320 points!

In one day!!!!!! Aaaaaaaiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Those crazy, volatile markets.

And yet those who are actually educated on this viewpoint -- let's call them Fools -- will be pointing out the same basic mathematical lesson then that I am illustrating today. Call it:

Percentages, NOT points.

Points are facts. Percentages are context that give meaning to those facts. Points are letters; percentages are words, words that tell stories. Points are white noise; percentages are music. Et cetera.

Despite the simple obviousness (I want to write "obviosity" but Webster does not acknowledge the term) of this point, and despite my having titled a chapter of Rule Breakers, Rule Makers with that very phrase ("Percentages, NOT Points"), journalists continue to report the market's movements to their mass audiences WITHOUT this context. They must be in search of the almighty headline, the weighty lead. "The fourth largest point-loss in Nasdaq history" sounds like something REALLY IMPORTANT happened today that you NEED to tune in and worry about.

How many people are being thrown by these sophistical ramblings?

As long as we're on the soapbox on ways to save the financial world from the media, I would also like to place a ban on all trading-floor commentators who use the word "we" to describe the market's moves. As in: "We're presently trading flat, with the techs advancing." Or, "we're seeing profit-taking across the boards this morning." Or, perhaps most egregious, "We're down 175 right now, the third-worst point loss in market history."

Market commentators who use "we" are clearly too much tied up in the market itself. They are what they comment upon. Get outside. Take a breath of fresh air. You're more than the market.

Anyway, the result of their spasmodically frequent reports has been characterized by fellow Fool Bill Barker this way: "The thrust throughout [CNBC's coverage] is that today -- like every day! -- is a good day to completely rethink your whole portfolio."

Not a good thing to do, dear Fool.

Approximately one year ago, Bill Barker taped an entire day of CNBC and put the tape away without watching it... until last week. Bill's excellent series, which began with this Fool on the Hill installment published last Thursday (where he rises and shines with CNBC at 5:00 a.m.), will continue with installment number two tomorrow, entitled "Squawk Box." Keep your eyes peeled for Thursday's Fool on the Hill.

I've been on hiatus recently, attending to our groundbreaking Rule Breaker online seminar, working with many Fools to quest after new Rule Breakers. So I am just now returning to write this column after very infrequent contribution over the past month. (I'll be back again on Friday.) But I did want to point to a critically important discussion-board posting on Celera, which appeared Tuesday in Fool.com, a few hours shy of midnight. First, read it.

Assuming you have done so (that was required reading!), I want to thank the author for having the guts to post his sad story. And the way in which it was written was completely admirable, especially phrased as it was as a lesson to others -- which it will be. That post will live on in Fooldom for a long, long time, because it is a lesson about overconfidence, about greed (I don't mean to be too strong on this point), and most of all on how a winning hand can be played for a total loss.

Celera has risen three times in value from where we purchased it in December. If our correspondent globalstreamer had simply bought and held, he would have enjoyed an outstanding three-month return. Instead, the stock's rise became a reason to borrow lots of money against the value of his overall account in order to buy more and more of the stock. When you buy on margin, you buy stock with money that is not yours. When you buy on margin to purchase a volatile stock that can drop or rise in huge increments, you are courting disaster.

The Motley Fool continues to be emphatic about our belief that margin is only ever suitable for very aggressive, experienced investors who might use it in small amounts. What globalstreamer did was extremely unFoolish, as I expect he is the first to acknowledge. Fortunately, the mistake was made at the age of 27. As Tom and I go out across America and speak, we meet many people who don't start saving and investing until their late 40s! So the mistake can be undone, and all will be right with the world. Globalstreamer's lesson is one for all of us, and was offered in writing as a gift... a gift I would suggest should be passed on to anyone else you or I know who is treating the stock market like an all-or-nothing, your-future-on-the-line sports bet.

You can lose money even on the New York Yankees, even when they win it all. If you suddenly became convinced last postseason that the Yankees couldn't lose, and you bet increasing amounts of money with every win, you lost it all when the Yankees dropped a single playoff game (as they did) to the Red Sox, 13-1. It was the only game the Yankees lost (they swept Texas, and they swept the World Series). If you'd bought and held the Yankees, you won it all. If you played a single individual game for everything, you got blown out.

To globalstreamer and to all of us, Fool on.

-- David Gardner