December 2008 Issue

readme:

Are we having fun yet?  Silly question.  Incidentally, before I forget, anyone wishing to truly understand the Global Financial Meltdown and, in particular, the finer techniques of getting people to buy things that don’t actually, y’know, exist, would profit (pardon the word) from a perusal of The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man by David Maurer, which I ran across a few years ago. Maurer, a linguist, spent much of the 1930s talking to con men all over the US, documenting in detail how their schemes, often extremely clever, worked. The book was originally published in 1940, just as the age of classic cons was coming to a close, but Maurer might be surprised to see how many of the methods he documented have their echoes in the high-finance flim-flammery afoot today.

Onward. Many thanks to all our readers who have lately subscribed or otherwise contributed to TWD.  Your support made all the difference when our 12-year old car recently broke down and required a hefty infusion of moolah to convince it to resume its creaking journey into epic decrepitude.  Anybody know where I can get a used horse, just in case?

As usual, the eighteen columns in this issue first appeared in newspapers (and were sent to subscribers) more than six months ago, so please take that fact into account when you spot weird references to then-current events.  I may not know the day of the week, but I do know the election is over.  Subscribers, of course, don’t experience this annoyance.

By the way, if you’re still looking for the perfect present for someone who has more than enough cat sweaters, I suggest The Complete New Yorker: Eighty Years of the Nation’s Greatest Magazine (Book & 8 DVD-ROMs), which used to cost about $100 but can now be had new for less than $20.  The interface can be a bit annoying, but the content more than makes up for any awkwardness.  I love this thing.  Lately I’ve been browsing issues from the early 1960s, and I’m amazed at how many cartoons I recognize.  (And now I get them).  The advertisements are also absolutely fascinating.  I had no idea that so many steamship lines were still running the New York to Southhampton route at that point.  It’s truly a window into a lost, and arguably better, world.

And now, since I see that my assistant, Miss Freedle, has the pool filled and the ring of fire blazing nicely, on with the show…

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