“The Jewish parrot joke you published is a modified version of one Isaac Asimov included in his books Opus 200 and Isaac Asimov’s Treasury of Humor. It’s on page 242 of my hardcover copy of Opus 200.” — hss


“I bought some Hallmark cards today at 75% off. If I use them next year, that is a 300% annualized return (after-tax dollars). Good investment.” — Vann Roberts


“When it comes to tuxedos, you should always buy a used one. I got a great Ralph Lauren tux for $60.00 last year. Musicians, who always need tuxes to perform never buy new ones. (We are too poor) I have never had occasion to rent a tux but I bet it is the only thing that you can buy cheaper than you can rent for one night. I bought my first tux back in 1976 because all entering freshmen in the Indiana University School of Music were required to own a tux. Cost was $60.00 then too. Thus my average cost of clothing for 20 years was $3.00 per year (plus the cost of black shoes and socks and assuming all dividends were reinvested and no commissions paid).” — Robert Graham

But where, I wrote back, does one buy a used tux in one’s size? The thrift shop?

“Some places sell used tuxes and have a large selection. Most thrift stores seem to have tuxes too. I am thankful that people get fatter as they get older because most of the tuxes seem to be in great shape. People must have just outgrown them. I guess that it helps that tuxes are worn so seldom that they don’t look nearly as seedy as some of the suits that you see in 2nd hand stores.”

AN EASY $10,000

“Thank you for writing about the AOL Visa card and the prospect of borrowing a large sum interest free with their ‘convenience checks’ only to repay it every 7 weeks. Suspecting what you suggested (that they’d soon shut it down), I immediately rounded up one of those ubiquitous AOL disks, logged on, and signed up. I was almost in disbelief when, one week later, my account (with a 25K credit line) was established. Another week later, I had a set of convenience checks and made my first draw.

“While I liked your suggestion of just placing it in savings to earn a few extra dollars, I chose to be a bit more aggressive and placed it directly into my Internet trading account. Here we are, five and a half weeks later, and I’ve generated over $10K in trading profits with their money. Admittedly, I’ve made some well-timed trades and been the benefactor of a volatile market, but $10K? It sounds unbelievable, but I have the brokerage statements to prove it (and will gladly provide them). My strategies haven’t been anything too amazing, I typically trade in high-tech stocks (they’re more volatile), buy them when they appear cheap, and get out on a point or two, depending on the price of the stock and the percentage gain.

“In any case, I wanted to pass on a success story and wish you the best this holiday season. You’ve certainly helped to make this a wonderful Christmas for myself (sic) and my family.” — Seth

Of course, $10,000 beats the $160 or so in interest you might have gotten doing it my way. But bear in mind that if the market had gone against you, I might have helped you lose $10,000. Borrowing to speculate scares me — even interest free. (Gosh, I’m boring!)


“You don’t know me from Adam…..and vice versa i assure you….however, i need some help. So here it is. I have approximately $3,000 to invest or trade or something. now what i need to do is make about 25,000 somehow. in the next two years. i am a 45 year old woman who needs a break and this seemed like the most likely place for me to get one. A: i know absolutely nothing about stocks, trading or the likes. B: I am rather intelligent. C: I am more than willing to learn and D: i can charm the pants off of just about anyone. But i digress…. Please help me out here, Andy, turn me on to someone or something that can make my small, totally insignificant life a little happier and a whole lot more secure. Believe me, if you do this small favor for a close member of the ‘fellow man’ club you will be sleeping even better then i am sure you do now.” — Gloria

Unfortunately [I wrote back], there is no legal way to octuple your money in two years — let alone after taxes — that doesn’t involve enormous risk and isn’t essentially the same as going to Las Vegas. (Actually, if you learn to count cards at blackjack, you just might be able to do it — and pocket your $25,000 over a few weeks play before you become known as a card-counter and get kicked out.) Much better, if you can, would be to try to find some extra work you can do to earn an additional $15,000 or so a year, which could net you $25,000 after tax within your time frame. Sorry!

What’s sad and scary is that someone like this clearly does not have the funds to risk in the stock market, nor the knowledge and seasoning to go it successfully alone. When such people begin buying stocks, two clichéd images force themselves into mind: lambs being led off to Someplace Menacing, and a fat lady warming up her vocal chords to sing.


“dear sir marry christmas, pls send me info learn about stock thanks.” — sugianto

Short and sweet, no? I just can’t get these lambs and fat ladies out of my head.



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