Brian Vesley: ‘I am interested in purchasing a reasonably priced copy of your book, The Invisible Bankers. As a result of the October 27 Wall Street Journal article describing how useful the New York Attorney General’s staff has found it, there are now huge premiums being asked.’

☞ Isn’t this why God invented libraries? But I couldn’t resist taking a look. I found a hardcover copy in fair condition (1982 retail price $12.95) for $315 via and three offered at Amazon ranging from $299.99 (in ‘acceptable’ condition) to $631.39 (‘good’). Ratty old paperback copies (originally $5.95) could be had for as low as $94.99. So I have a piece of advice for any of you who may have bought this book: SELL!

Quick, because hours later I found the price for the ‘acceptable’ one had dropped to $249.99 and a ‘good’ one had dropped to $299, and a ‘very good’ one was offered at $631.38.

Or instead of selling grabbing your $631.38 (a 15% compounded annual return on your 22-year investment), you could just leave it under a tree . . .


Gloria: ‘A website I love,, has become so popular that bookcrossing has been accepted as an entry in the Concise Oxford English Dictionary:


n. the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.

‘I practice bookcrossing a lot. I think books are one of the greatest things in the world, and people don’t read enough. For the past two years I have given books instead of candy on Halloween. It must be working, because the house hasn’t been egged yet. Bookcrossing can be practiced in a serendipitous way (by leaving the books ‘in the wild’), or in a planned way (by e-mailing fellow bookcrossers and organizing a trade). I did a search for your books, and you have been bookcrossed 17 times! That’s a few dollars you will not make, but you have to admit this is a great system for reading on the cheap.’


I went to the US Patent & Trademark web site and searched on Borealis Technical. Here is what I got – 35 issued patents, the latest of which, #6,825,575, appears to have been issued . . . yesterday.

I understand none of it, of course, but came closest to being able to make sense of this part:

Objects of the present invention are, therefore, to provide new and improved methods and apparatus for prime mover-generator systems and control over them, having one or more of the following capabilities, features, and/or characteristics:

A technical advantage of the present invention is that it provides new and improved methods and apparatus for prime mover generator systems and control over them. A further technical advantage is to provide a heat engine generator system in which the heat engine can be continuously operated over a wide load range without induction restriction, avoiding the need for engine throttling.

Another technical advantage of the present invention is that higher engine efficiency is obtained by avoiding engine operation in a near closed throttle mode. Further, the heat engine does not have to be turned on and off in response to demand, but rather the engine runs steadily. This avoids the fumes and pollution caused when a heat engine starts and prevents the loss of rotational energy that occurs from repeated stopping and starting.

A further technical advantage of the present invention is that it provides a heat engine generator system in which control is applied to the generator to electronically regulate the output of the system. Thus, control over the output of the system may be faster and more exact. Further, the load on the heat engine may be electrically manipulated to maintain a close to optimal run of the engine.

A still further technical advantage of the present invention is that it provides a method by which a generator may be operated periodically as a motor. This allows the heat engine operation, during power absorbing strokes, to be improved by a periodic transfer of power from the generator, acting as motor, back to the engine. Thus, the present invention provides a simple method by which an electrical machine may alternate between generator and motor operation without direct control intervention, and without need to synchronize controller operation to heat engine operation.

Other technical advantages of the present invention are set forth in or will be apparent from drawings and the description of the invention that follows, or may be learned from the practice of the invention.

It sounds as if something like this could – conceivably – have an application in automobiles. I assume it will not come to fruition (how many patents do?). But wouldn’t it be fun if we owned technology that someday made cars more fuel efficient?

There is a song in Pajama Game, the 1950s musical (not to out myself all over again), called ‘Seven and a Half Cents.’ It is sung by a starry-eyed young man who is imagining the implications of a proposed seven-and-a-half-cent an hour raise. ‘Seven-and-a-half cents,’ he concedes, in song, undaunted, ‘doesn’t buy a heck of a lot.’ Seven-and-a-half cents, indeed, ‘doesn’t buy a thing.’ ‘BUT! . . . give it to me every hour, forty hours every week – seven-and-a-half cents, I’ll be living like a king!’

He’s figured it out. He’s figured it out. With a pencil and a pad, he’s figured it out. ‘Only twenty years from today,’ he croons . . . ‘only twenty years from today, I can see it like a picture, only twenty short years from today . . . let’s see, 20 years at 52 weeks a year less two weeks vacation times 40 hours a week plus ten hours a month overtime at seven-and-a-half-cents an hour invested at 3% interest . . . why, that’s . . . that’s four thousand, two hundred seventy-two dollars and thirty-nine cents!!!’

I am paraphrasing from memory here (chicks and geese and ducks better scurry), but ‘that’s enough for me to buy . . .’ and then he lists, in song, all the amazing things he can buy for this phenomenal sum. (To put it in perspective, a dozen years of inflation later I was still able to buy a brand new Acapulco Blue 1967 Mustang with sports stripes for $2,411.)

Does he get the raise? Does he keep at it for those twenty years? Or do people stop wearing pajamas (I know I have). But the dream’s half the fun, and if each new car brought a $10 fee to license this fuel-efficient technology, well, ‘let’s see . . . ‘


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