Rich Karlgaard: Tony Blair. He’s been a leader of faith and a friend to America. He pulled his Labour Party out of the socialist ditch. Think of him as a Bill Clinton with ethics. Blair’s been Britain’s prime minister since 1997; thus, in the U.K., there’s Blair fatigue–especially in the press. Too bad. Expect Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to succeed Blair during the next year or two. But Blair is no lame duck. He’s going out with a bang, fighting to his last political breath the Franco-German vision of Europe.
• Dassault’s Falcon 7X. This column throws its share of spitballs at France, but I stand in awe of French jetmaker Dassault Aviation. The new $40 million Falcon 7X just might be the coolest business jet ever made. Designed on 3-D computers, the first model flew in May, a masterpiece of fit and finish. Nearly as big as the Gulfstream G5, the 7X flies high, fast and long–6,559 miles between fuel stops. It can also drop into smaller airports the way a midsize Citation can. One of the richest, smartest guys I know in Silicon Valley, a jet pilot himself, told me the versatile 7X was the best bizjet he’d ever seen.
• FORBES Investor Cruises. Back in 2000 the world’s top business magazine hooked up with Crystal Cruises, the world’s top cruise line, to produce investor cruises. A typical FORBES cruise lasts 11 days: 8 days spent in different ports–on last month’s cruise we toured Amsterdam, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm–and 3 days cruising at sea. At sea we pack in full days of investment seminars. Our goal is to deliver such good financial advice that the cruise pays for itself. Parts of the cruise might even be tax deductible–but check with your tax preparer! Go to investmentcruise.com for more information.
• Ralph Bloch and James Stack. Stock market technical analysts practice a dark art. They’re good only for predicting the past. Well, that’s always been my view. But Bloch, chief market technician at Raymond James, and Stack, president of InvesTech Research, make one think twice. They say, “Heck, yes–you can time the market if you know the patterns to look for.” After listening to both Bloch and Stack on the recent FORBES cruise, I promise to look at technical analysis with a fresh eye. At least their analyses. Eye-popping is Bloch’s claim that he’s made 40 times his money since 1990. Bloch can be found at raymondjames.com/bloch.htm; Stack at investech.com.
• MBT shoes. Maybe you’ve seen ads for these ugly clodhoppers from Switzerland. Let me tell you, they’re works of art if you spend hours walking or standing on hard surfaces.
• Mephisto Cool Air loafers. I’m sorry to mention two French products in one year’s list. But if you want to look cool while treating your feet to bliss, get a pair. They look perfect with Tommy Bahama clothes. You’ll even walk gracefully with several margaritas on board.
• Red Stripe beer. This Jamaican beer goes down like ice cream on a hot day. After number three you’ll hum Bob Marley tunes. The publisher of the world’s top business magazine leapt off a 55-foot cliff into water after his fourth Red Stripe. Cracked his L1 vertebra and walked like a duck for two months.
• Hybrid bicycles. Basically, a mountain bike with skinny tires. With 24 gears and padded seats, hybrids are good for 20-minute fitness rides, long tours and family outings. Trek, Bianchi and others sell superb hybrids for less than $500.
• Realclearpolitics.com. I’ve written about this illuminating source of political and economic commentary. It’s become even better and this year joins my list. Each day the editors post the day’s best columns, editorials and opinion pieces–with all views represented. The balance, however, tilts toward pro-growth, pro-family, pro-defense pieces–a good reason to like this Web site.
• Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford University commencement speech. A year ago the CEO of Apple and Pixar faced death from pancreatic cancer. Luckily his cancer turned out to be a rare, treatable form. The scare seems to have changed Jobs–always before the dark genius–in a redemptive way. For a most inspiring speech, go to news-service.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html.