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Head slapper

Hold your palm open and position it about two feet in front of your face.

Now, with an single, powerful movement - one that reflects a sharp frustration, one that expresses the delicate sentiments of a Marine drill sergeant yelling in your face, "What were you thinking!" - propel your hand in an arcing motion directly onto the furrowed, worried-about-retirement surface of your forehead.

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Because you weren't listening to Jim Tyson last March.

Or maybe it was just me whose attention wandered. The above was certainly my response (Mrs. McCormick being unable to find something more durable to place in my palm) when Mr. Tyson reminded me about the last time he wrote about Internet stocks. He had noted a company called CMG Information Service (CMGI) as a possible bright star in cyberspace.

Back then, its stock traded at about $15. Now - $180. Ouch!

Prepare palm for launch.

Not that we're in the business of recommending stocks. We leave that to the trained professionals. But Jim excels at finding people who know the right stuff.

And this week, he's at it again, polling the smart folks about which Net stocks have legs and which could stumble.

The analysts he quotes voice strong skepticism about the high-flier Net firms. But, curiously, such skepticism has been consistent and consistently wrong for the last year - as companies like CMGI doubled, quadrupled, etc.

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Which sounds like a stock-market message: The impact of the the Net may well equal the hype.

One expert observer likens the Internet to the discovery of fire - an exaggeration, but also an apt indication of the revolutionary change, unprecedented in scope, that the Internet brings to business. A true hot spot.

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