Peter Gosselin’s recent L.A. Times review of books on the New Economy had this terrific anecdote (first reported in Maggie Mahar’s Bull! A History of the Boom, 1982-1999) that, for me, perfectly summarizes the whole dot-com era. (Since it’s more than a week old and you have to subscribe to something like five different services to get to it, I’m not going to bother with a link.)

San Jose resident Kathy Rubino… learned how deeply the market’s influence had penetrated American society when she awoke one morning, popped on CNBC and recepived an obscene phone call.

As the caller panted lurid remarks, the network’s Joe Kernen warned of falling stock prices. “Suddenly,” Mahar writes, “the obscene caller interrupted himself. ‘Is that Kernen…?’ he asked.

“Rubino, stunned, off balance– and still groggy– found herself answering him: ‘The market has taken a plunge….’

‘Jesus,’ the anonymous caller responded, ‘any word on Cisco?'”

Ah, the roaring nineties….