Proving yet again that my readers are smarter and funnier than I (I’m very proud of my readers), Scott Nicol writes: “Thanks for the heads up re Got my orders in. One thing I noticed was that Healthquick was offering gift certificates that were discounted 20%. You can give yourself an easy 20% discount by buying yourself a gift certificate, then buying what you really wanted with the gift certificate. If they didn’t think this offer through and program the web site to stop it, presumably you could also buy a gift certificate with your gift certificate. This gives you a 25% compounded rate of return (i.e. $80 buys $100 in gift certificates, $100 in gift certificates buys $125 in gift certificates, etc). Assuming an $80 initial investment, a market cap of $1B, and 1 minute to complete each transaction, in 74 minutes you could build up enough gift certificates to buy the company (and have almost $187M pocket change, tax free). Not bad for an hour and 14 minutes’ work.”

I tried this, but was only able to get half a billion dollars worth of gift certificates — and it took me almost the whole day!

(Actually, I tried this but rejected my credit card even before I could buy the first gift certificate — sensing my intent, perhaps? now that would be impressive technology — and I asked myself: Wait a minute. Is this how you really want to be spending your time? Trying to cop some cheap vitamins when THE FUTURE OF THE WHOLE GOVERNMENT IS AT STAKE AND YOU COULD BE OUT RAISING FUNDS FOR THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY? So I clicked the close box, and that, my friends, may be the only reason I do not now own, or at least half a billion dollars worth of dandruff shampoo.)

Loose ends from last week:


In writing about Prudential Friday, I quoted this line: “A friend? You want a friend? Get a dog. But I couldn’t remember the movie it came from. “The line was from the movie Wall Street,” writes Greg Bandy. “Michael Douglas as Gordon Gecko said it to Charlie Sheen’s character. According to a recent Business Week article, Al Dunlap (Chainsaw Al) often uses this line as well — maybe not as much anymore, though.”


In that same column I tried to trick you into clicking on a link to my book at Amazon, thereby to shake you down not only for the standard author royalty (which, astonishingly, is $20 on a $13 paperback), but also for the kickback Amazon gives its associate web sites (another $20 on each $13 paperback, which Amazon sells for $10.40 plus $3.95 shipping).

“Instead of Amazon for $14.35,” writes Larry, “I could buy your book at 1bookstreet for $12.60 or at for $5.45 (using a $10 off coupon).” [But did he?] “Yesterday, I borrowed it from the library and will read it to see if I want to buy it. I find your web site interesting and useful. I have used several of your links to save money. In fact, was one of the links and it pointed to the coupon.”

You see what a tough business this writing is? Here we’re talking about a devoted fan. But risk $5.45? Not so fast, buddy!

(Actually, Larry is a man after my own heart. A penny saved — not spent — is, for those of you with high incomes in high-tax states, fully two pre-tax pennies earned. Libraries are terrific.)

Meanwhile: “ is better than for computer/software stuff,” writes Joe Cherner. “Why? Because charges a minimum $10 for shipping while offers free shipping. Product prices are the same.”

And Vince Crisci: “Thought I’d pass on another excellent book buying site —”

And Ralph: “At the risk of seeing you rush out to short more, it might interest you to see”

Actually, I already noted in a column this past summer. The books there are so cheap that if Y2K shuts down the power supply, I plan to order tons of books from and burn them to power a steam engine to generate the electricity to power the computer to go on line and buy more books from Move over cold fusion (and Borealis): I think I’ve found the perpetual motion machine.


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