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Of mice and mutual funds: Just where is the bad news?

August 06, 1998

Tim RowlandThe bad news is that the stock market was off 300 points in a single day, but the good news is that we can clone mice. Or, depending on your perspective, the good news is that the stock market was off 300 points in a single day and the bad news is we can clone mice.

I consider myself to be firmly in the latter category. I can think of nothing more pleasing than the sight of a Wall Street cellular-phone-squawking calculator head pulling out what insignificant strands are left of his hair over something that to most of us isn't going to matter for another 30 years.

So his year-end bonus will come in a quarter of a mil light. Poor baby.

I'm far more concerned about the mice. Unless you own stock in D-Con, I can't imagine why you would view this as a positive event. What's next, cloning cockroaches? Yippee. We spent 3 percent of our gross national product trying to eradicate mice and now scientists are making more.

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I remember the old second-grade poem:

If you build a better mousetrap

And put it in your house

Before long Mother Nature

Will build a better mouse.

Mother nature? Humph. Try two eggheads from Hawaii. The upside is that mice is one of the few remaining cards men still hold over women. Because even the most domineering, Harvard-educated, steel-minded, in-control-of-her-life-and-many-others' woman will still shriek like a subpoenaed White House lawyer if she sees a mouse scurry across the floor. Even in the most sophisticated board rooms you will still occasionally hear a blue-suited, hair-up, she-exec saying "...and with the liquidation of these fixed assets quarterly earnings can be expected to stabilize provided we terminate substantial personal resources in sector AAAIIIIEEEEEE!!!"

Until women can conquer the Mouse Paradigm, men still have a chance.

So needless to say, I personally have been quite juiced over the travails of mice and businessmen. So much so, in fact, that I decided that as a sort of cherry to top off the sundae, I would take in the National-South Mountain Little League game at the Jeremy Smith Memorial Tournament in Boonsboro.

After watching the ABC special, it was apparent that Little League is where the good action is. But I have to say, it was a disappointment. Here is a sampling of some things I saw (it's a little raw, so if you are the sensitive type, skip to the end of the column):

-- I saw parents, cheering not only their own kids, but other kids on the team and kids on the opposing team when they happened to make a good play.

-- I noticed all the time and attention the hosts had lavished on the emerald fields - the patriotic bunting, and the luscious concession cookery.

-- I overheard two umpires talking about how much they loved the kids.

-- I saw a coach conferring with a parent about how many pitches his boy could safely make.

Yes, it was real sicko stuff. Rampant sportsmanship was breaking out everywhere. As I turned in disgust to leave, people were pleading with me to give Little League another chance. They said I had just caught the sport on an off-day. That a parental eruption could come at any time.

But I am the once bitten twice shy type. If I want this type of risk I'll invest in mouse futures in the stock market.

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