Michael Burns: “You might have pointed out that Fidelity Select Biotechnology (FBIOX) carries a 3% front-end load for most people, although it is waived for some institutional retirement plans. A no-load alternative: Rydex Biotechnology Adv (RYOAX). It’s not rated by Morningstar (whereas FBIOX has a 5 star rating), but over its lifetime it has been comparable to FBIOX.”

Chuck Smith: “Reading Dana Dlott’s biotech column made me think of the Fortune article by Warren Buffett that went out with the 1999 Berkshire Hathaway annual report. He discusses how surely the automobile and airline industries were going to make many investors rich in the last century.”

LJ.Kutten: “Dana writes of ‘A young man who is sculpturing molecules to become artificial viruses that can attack particular cancer cells.’ Soon to be followed by the young man who is sculpting virulent forms for cancers to be spread by the common cold. I have great qualms about biotech and DNA manipulation. The only reason there is not rampant nuclear blackmail by individuals is that the powers that be have made it extremely difficult to get the one necessary material, fissionable material. Will we be able to say the same about biological blackmail?”

Chris Williams:Root beer is very good stuff. One of its advantages for people nearing middle age, is the lack of caffeine found in Pepsi or Coke –that does acidy things to one’s stomach. Root beer was originally brewed tea-like from the root of the sassafras tree or sarsaparilla root. Now it’s apparently standard to just buy sassafras extract, add sugar and yeast, seal the bottle and wait for it to carbonate itself. This is particularly important because sassafrole, from sassafras, is a carcinogen and the extracts have the sassafrole extracted.”

Dan Hachigian: “Cheaper than the $79.95 Amex Credit Aware program you mentioned is econsumer.equifax.com.” It’s $39.95/annually and e-mail notification within 24 hours of changes posting to your credit file, and 6 annual credit reports.”

☞ And for $8.50, you can get an immediate look at your credit file.

Mark Centuori: “SEVENTY-NINE NINETY-FIVE!!! ‘Not a great deal’ sure is an understatement. We know you’re not siphoning cheap vodka anymore [actually, I am! don’t tell Charles!], but I can’t see any justification for paying this much for such a ‘service.’ I’d imagine that the real damage would already have been done by the time American Express gets a report out to a possible victim. No one should wait for trouble before requesting copies of their credit reports. Get them via the cheapest option offered by each credit bureau. (Also, promptly review the detail of monthly credit card bills.) Before I moved from New Jersey to Seattle about a year ago, I made three quick, toll-free calls to the credit bureaus and got the reports for free in less than a week. New Jersey had recently enacted a law requiring free reports to residents that requested them. And the neat thing is that if you divulge something new while making the request, it’ll already be in the report when you get it. Check out Consumer Reports’ take on the subject here.

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