What a feisty little six-year-old we've become. Here we are, fighting full-fisted for pi�ata candy with cake-coated faces. Yes, we are young and unWise. Much like a relentless toddler, we've got so much adrenaline and drive that we can't spare a nap with so much left to do.

As David mentioned in Friday's column, most of the Fool employees got together over the weekend to wrap up Fool Spirit Week festivities. I say Fool employees to identify our cast of 350 because, in reality, we are all Fools. You. Me. That person reading over your shoulder. Fools all.

We took over the T.C. Williams High School auditorium in Alexandria, Virginia on Saturday morning. It was a powerful experience. We rediscovered vision, focus, and the fact that high school kids still stick chewed gum on the bottom of chairs. The goals we set go beyond the scope of this column. Just trust me when I say that the only thing in Fooldom more exciting than the present is the future. Ambition and prudence have never been so tantalizingly swirled. Not only do we want to be around long enough to prove our buy-and-hold mantra -- we also want to prove it to more of you. More of us. Again, Fools all.

Later that night we all took in a calypso-styled fest at the Alexandria Hilton. The pasta side station attracted a bit more attention than it deserved when a fire broke out. The efficient Hilton crew put it out in haste, but the ballroom-high blaze was impressive. As our own Chris Hill observed later on, the quickly controlled event was significant because not a single Fool panicked. Not a single Fool fled.

Can it be that, even in a social setting, we have been ingrained with the practice of dealing with a short-term blip rationally enough never to lose sight of the long-term picture? Can it be that we've been fortified to take the heat -- because we don't want to miss out on what happens next?

Sure, we have to break down the daily events. A moving picture consists of individual snapshots. Sure, it's several hundred thousand picture frames we're talking about here, but they bridge yesterday with tomorrow and make for a good popcorn-munching show.

So, we have to digest Henry Blodget's downgrade of eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) yesterday. The notable Merrill Lynch (NYSE: MER) sell-side analyst carries too big a stick to be ignored. He took almost a dozen Internet companies down a peg in the process, citing shakeouts and slowing industry growth. That's not breaking news, of course. But, does the fact that he's cautious about barnesandnoble.com (Nasdaq: BNBN) and its ability to thrive mean that Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) is poised to grow faster than the niche itself as it picks up market share of fallen peers. Nope? He downgraded that company two weeks ago.

Or, is this more? Is this the face of the Wise turning its collective back on the industry that proved to be such fertile underwriting soil over the past few years? Now that the supply of new-economy financing has dried up, it's no longer profitable to backslap the cash-flow negative. So, investment bankers move on to high-five the next batch of Wall Street darlings with all the sincerity of a homecoming queen's tiara-sparkled thank you wave.

The same banner of disingenuousness drapes over the out door and the in door of this equity financing ballroom. These downgrades seem to be tainted by the fact that they came too late. It wasn't until some of these companies, like Pets.com (Nasdaq: PETS), completely fell off the radar and had only a remote chance of finding secondary financing that it was given the kiss-off grade. It's like a drug dealer finally realizing that a junkie is out of money and driving away. The damage was done quite a few transactions ago, but now the cord is cut.

It's a shame. It's a crying shame, because lives and money are being squandered, and those enriched have long since fishtailed away. But, it's also why we're here. It's why we're growing. Because blurring the truth is too profitable to give up for some. Yet, for us, it's too powerful not to make clear.

Will the Wise be back eventually? Probably. Probably later than they should, yet again. The Wise saw the penne marinara ablaze and bolted. Typical. They missed out on all the fun of sticking it out beyond the short-term blip. The fools.

Related Links:

  • Rule Breaker, 8/4/00: Ode to Fools Upon Turning Six
  • Fool News, 8/7/00: Blodget Downgrades the Internet