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Duck! The Sky is Falling in

Get out while there is still time.

The stock market will soon crash, so if you are in it, bail right now. As a matter-of-fact, the entire economy of the world is headed for a major meltdown.

What amazing skills do I have that enables me to make such a prediction?

I will tell you in a minute, but first, a couple of stories.

A friend of mine, a brilliant medical doctor, and I, went swimming one day. I confided to him that I thought the circulation in my legs was pretty bad and that I might have a serious cardiovascular problem. “I doubt it,” he said.

“How do you know?” I asked. “You haven’t even examined me.”

“Well,” he said, “I can see there is hair growing on your toes. If your circulation was that bad, you would have no hair on your toes.” He was, of course, right. In Italian, one would say this was an unovo di Columbo, a simple, obvious idea that doesn’t occur to the person who could use it the most.

I found that handy phrase, along with its explanation, in a book called “They Have a Word for It” by Howard Rheingold. Rheingold is a genius in language, computers and thought, a cross between Marshall McLuhan and Buckminster Fuller. Regrettably, the book is out of print but it will soon be reprinted. Check out Mr. Rheingold’s website at www.rheingold.com.

Let me give you another example of an unovo di Columbo. Lynn Mills is a friend of mine and she is married to another friend of mine, Jimmy Huston. They have two delightful little girls who could steal your heart in a heartbeat.

Lynn, who weighs less than 99 pounds even after a Thanksgiving dinner, teaches people how to drive Ferraris. Big macho guys, with cars that cost a quarter of a million dollars, come to her with their high-speed driving problems and this mother of two little girls, tells these characters how to become better drivers.

A while back, one of the Ferrari drivers was grousing that he went off the road when he was going 140 miles an hour. Lynn, without ever seeing him drive or being near his car, told him what his problem was.

Can you figure it out?

Lynn said to the guy, “Don’t look at the speedometer. Look at the road.”

Pretty simple, but oh so perceptive. A shining example of an unovo di Columbo.

Are you still with me? Because if you are, you’ve got to be wondering why I’m predicting the collapse of the stock market. What is my unovo di Columbo?

Remember:  an unovo di Columbo is an obvious idea that doesn’t occur to the person who could use it the most. So what obvious event has happened in the world that indicates the stock market is going to crash?

Higher interest rates? Global warming? Alan Greenspan’s natterings? The upcoming presidential election? A year ending in three zeroes? Wars? Rumor of Wars? China’s entry into world trade? Hemlines falling? Downsizing? Too many IPOs?

None of the above.

Think. Who is the smartest and richest man on the planet? Bill Gates. (Now you might not think he is the smartest man on the planet, but with his vast databases and his worldwide network of computers and the fact that he hires geniuses by the bushel, Gates is in a better position to be smarter than anyone else on earth.)

Besides this, what do we know about Mr. Gates? It’s obvious. He wants to be remembered as one of the good guys of the world. He’s giving away billions to charitable organizations this very instant. He can see the end coming. And he doesn’t want to be in charge when it happens.

Last week Bill Gates resigned as CEO of Microsoft and promoted his next in line, Steve Ballmer, to take the fall.

Run. The market is going to crash. Unovo di Columbo.

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