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Moron.com and other disasters
Ron Knowles gives a user's guide to surviving the collapse of fantasy.comland.
WHAT a way to wake up. A radio voice is advising insistently: "Don't panic ... Don't panic ... stockmarket crash ... blood on the floor."
Of course, I bloody well panic. I had my jocks and my jeans on in seconds and was legging down the street in no time, looking for a skyscraper ledge. But there are no skyscrapers in Kurrajong.
I hesitated outside my neighbour's house. His radio could be heard. There was another voice like someone speaking with a finger up one nostril. It was John Howard talking of "social happiness" and "human need". Clearly reality had been suspended. Now I was certain it was time to panic.
Then it occurred to me that the ABC was trying to pull some kind of War of the Worlds stunt, just as Orson Welles did in the US more than 60 years ago. He terrified Americans by broadcasting the H.G. Wells's fiction about invading aliens as reality. The Americans have had trouble distinguishing the two ever since.
But it turned out that the ABC was simply setting the scene for the day's share trading. Wall Street had melted like a Dali clock. Now it was the turn of our All Ordinaries. (How can something termed "ordinaries" be worth much, anyway? Why don't they call it the All Stupendous or the Mostly Sensational?)
Further reassuring news is conveyed by CNN, with pictures of a bunch of pimply faced teenage bed-wetters baying into their fry-your-brains phones. They are anxious traders, intones the voice-over. It is, says the newscaster, a "white-knuckle day". To the untrained observer it also seems to be a brown trouser day.
This is followed by a weedy-looking expert who describes himself as a "nervous bull" discussing "sound fundamentals" and "bottoming out". To the same untrained observer, he appears to be talking fundamental bull right out of his bottom.
None of this makes me feel any better. I turn to my wife. She gives me wonderfully contradictory advice: "Don't panic. Ring your broker."
"I was expecting your call," he lies. Hirsute Harry always lies. At 125 kilos, it's easier than standing up. "What's happened to those shares you recommended, Harry - you know moron.com which specialised in telling complete dummies how to invest in the stockmarket. A bargain at $2 a pop."
There is a long pause. I see my money swirling around helplessly in the grip of a giant vortex and disappearing into a black hole.
Harry's voice breaks in. "But wait. I haven't told you the good bit. The market's recovering. We're expecting a dead gorilla bounce. That's even better than a dead cat bounce. Moron.com is back up to 23 cents from an overnight 21c."
My panic subsides. I picture Harry, vast and hairy, knuckles brushing the carpet. "Don't worry about it. Come to my office and we'll have a laugh about it," I say. He accepts. I head for the railway station and the office.
As I get on the train I am talking loudly to myself. "Don't panic ... don't panic ... blood on the floor ... dead gorilla bounce". Passengers look sideways at me and move into the next carriage. I am alone, on my way to the city.
They have skyscrapers in the city. I work on the 27th floor.
Come in, Harry.
...spssssssssssss........................splat! 'Clearly reality had been suspended.'
Regards from Down Below
-- Pieter (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 18, 2000
OK. Now that reality is suspended, is there someone out who can tell what sound a 'dead cat bounce' makes?
-- Pieter (email@example.com), April 18, 2000.