What Next?


Investing: What Next?
    I have decided to read further about investing, and to delay any further personal investment moves until I can review my conclusions with expert investors. I remembered today what Michael Sivy has said about "oil and gas prices will rise over the coming decade. It takes a long time for increased demand to open new sources, and in the meantime, prices will be set by demand. Demand is liable to pick up, given recovery. Furthermore, the outputs of existing oil fields are likely to peak within the next five or six years. And any disruptions in oil supply could lead to temporary shortages. Oil is currently less than $30 a barrel. Strong demand or spot shortages will surely push prices above $30 a barrel." There may be cogent reasons why Fidelity's Energy Services Fund is going up... reasons that are beyond my trivial knowledge of this subject.

Interest, and Short-Term Bond Income
    I read today that Microsoft has received 9.41% interest income over the past year... and this, presumably, risk-free. We might not get as high a rate as Microsoft, but it's worth investigating just what interest rates one could get.
    Run as a business earning 9.41% on its book value, a corporation could show a p/e ratio of 11-to-1, a price-to-book ratio of 1, a dividend yield of, perhaps, 4%, and an after-inflation capital gains growth rate of 3% (assuming a 2.41% rate of inflation). The total capital gains growth rate would be 5.41%. The corporation wouldn't have to produce a product other than interest.

A Field of Dreams
    The ratbots that are guided through electrical impulses to the brain are rewarded through a minute electrode wired directly into the pleasure centers of their brains. Decades ago, it was discovered that rats, given the opportunity to stimulate the pleasure center directly, would kill themselves by activating their pleasure centers to the exclusion of food,  drink, and sleep. This was the ultimate addiction, and science fiction writers occasionally used this device. There is the potential for problems here that boggles the imagination. So far, the media don't seem to have picked up on this, and it's probably just as well You can imagine where this could lead.

Search Engines: Intelligence Amplifiers?
    The Internet, and particularly, search engines, seem to me to be intelligence amplifiers. We have at our fingertips the equivalent of a flock of research librarians available day or night to do our bidding. Add to that the international character of the searches and you can see why research is progressing as fast as it is. This may be a partial way that we can keep up with artificial intelligence if and when it arrives.
    Looking to the future, you can see how wearable and wireless computers might give us this capability in ubiquitous form, to be followed eventually by the ability to rely on computer-aided recall. Can't think of good-old-whatcha- may-call-him's name? Your facial recognition camera may identify him and whisper his name in your ear. Don't know how to find good-old-whatcha- may-call-him in this crowd? No problem. Just call him on your cell phone, and your differential GPS locators can guide you to each other.
    One of the gathering vexations of search engines is that they've begun selling search listing priorities to the highest bidder. The British Broadcasting Corporation has just launched a publicly supported search engine that won't compromise its results for baksheesh. It will also tilt its results to British sources to overcome the strong American bias of American search engines. (You can see what's coming: the "search engine wars". You could even imagine governments getting involved, since national prestige might be put on the line.) I can imagine that a next step in this escalation will be paid subscription services.