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The Five Dumbest Things on Wall Street This Week

Arnold 'Partner'
Legal greens fees?

3. No, It's the Other Guy Who'll Be Playing Golf Now

And the winner of this week's award for Best Mistake in a Press Release goes to Bear Stearns (BSC), which confirmed our theory that somewhere out there, a lawyer is playing golf while billing his client $350 an hour.

In Thursday's announcement of who will succeed Mark E. Lehman as general counsel, Bear Stearns reported the hiring of Michael Solender, who previously was a partner at the esteemed law firm Arnold & Porter.

Except that's not exactly what Bear Stearns said. In fact, the firm noted that Solender had been a partner at "Arnold & Palmer" -- confusing the 57-year-old law firm with the 74-year-old golfer.

Of course, as much as we loathe playing golf, at least it's not as unpleasant as practicing law. So maybe we should let Solender have his fun.

4. A Comedy of Arrows

We at the Five Dumbest Things Research Lab know better than to try to run a publicly traded company.

Which is part of the reason why we politely request company presidents not to try to write witty market commentary.

OK, we'll settle for just one president: Patrick Byrne, head of online closeout retailer Overstock.com (OSTK).

Overwritten
Let alone, Overstock.com

When Overstock.com reported results this week, Byrne wrote a chatty letter discussing the company's results.

He called the letter a use of a "more colloquial style."

We call it a mess.

One thing they taught us in the journalism racket is that sports metaphors get tiresome pretty quickly, unless you're working in the sports section.

Forget those metaphors about a company being on the ropes. Or some new venture being a Hail Mary pass (a metaphor wrapped in a metaphor there). Or some sort of horse race between two competing technologies.

So what does Byrne do in his letter? Why, he employs not one sports metaphor, not two sports metaphors, but three of them.

Running a business is like shooting an arrow. The fourth quarter was a boxing match. And as Team Overstock's player/coach, Byrne is occasionally required to bench, trade or cut his teammates.

Yo, Patrick! Writingwise, it's time for you to head to the showers!

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