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Article Archive: Fun

Pauper's grave retirement plan
04/22/23   Fun
"In an acknowledgement of the financial struggles many Canadians are facing, CIBC has announced a new investment plan to help customers scrape through lives of quiet desperation until they're ready to be unceremoniously rolled into a ditch and paved over." [humour]

5 small joys you can cut out of your life
04/24/22   Fun
"With home prices doubling in the last 5 years and increasingly divorced from the incomes of Canadians such that the real estate market has created a completely parallel universe devoid of anything resembling reality, it can be easy to think you can never afford a home. But with this handy list of 5 money saving tips, you can delude yourself into the belief that it's still possible, all while depriving yourself of what simple small joys remain in your life." [Satire]

Currency crisis
05/02/21   Fun
"There are various indicators showing that the U.S. could be headed for a currency crisis. One of them has paws." [video]

Down on the farm
01/24/20   Fun
"A stable of lesser known speculative manias including Japan's rabbit mania, poultry fever and the ostrich feather boom."

Mises vs. Marx
10/22/19   Fun
"Is history marching inevitably towards centrally planned socialism, as Karl Marx proclaimed? Or is the best path to continued progress and expanding prosperity liberal, democratic capitalism as recommended by Ludwig von Mises?"

Building a trading wall
03/11/19   Fun
"Look, obviously the move here is to build the hotel, no? Why shouldn't Aurora have a 40-story hotel in the middle of a field? With no windows? And made out of lead? Then just put your tower on the other side of it. Building your own tower is good, sure, but again you can get most of the same benefits just by blocking theirs."

52 things I learned in 2018
12/03/18   Fun
"When he took over the bookshop chain Waterstones, James Daunt gave individual store managers control over which books to stock and how to display them. Over seven years, returns dropped from 20-25% to just 4%."

Weird Al: Mission Statement
09/24/18   Fun
"Some 'Mandatory Fun'" [video]

Strategy, patience, and prognostication
11/06/17   Fun
"On East 83rd Street there's a squat brick walk-up that's a viable contender for the least fancy apartment building on Manhattan's Upper East Side. But for the past 25 years, Wall Street machers and captains of industry have marched up to its gray-carpeted third floor to learn the secrets of attack and defense from Lev Alburt, a three-time U.S. chess champion and one of the most prominent Soviet defectors of the 1970s. Alburt has long been giving atter-filled private lessons to New Yorkers from all walks of life, encouraging, cajoling, and reprimanding men and women as they attempt to learn the so-called game of kings."

Bank counselling
04/16/17   Fun
"Realistic expectations is the key to happiness." [video]

Dave Barry's 2016
01/02/17   Fun
"Yes, we've seen some weird years. But we've never seen one as weird as 2016. This was the Al Yankovic of years. If years were movies, 2016 would be 'Plan 9 From Outer Space.' If years were relatives, 2016 would be the uncle who shows up at your Thanksgiving dinner wearing his underpants on the outside."

David Mitchell on tax avoidance
05/15/15   Fun
"Comedian David Mitchell on talks about tax avoidance."

Daylight saving time
03/14/15   Fun
"Daylight saving time doesn't actually benefit anyone. Strangely, it's still a thing!" [video]

A mock economics talk
01/31/15   Fun
"Zach Weinersmith of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal gives a mock economics talk entitled 'Economic-con 2015: A Theory of Maximizing Social Welfare via Top-Decile Earners.'"

Is Bernanke a bad credit risk?
10/03/14   Fun
"Ben S. Bernanke said the mortgage market is so tight that even he is having a hard time refinancing his own home loan."

The board game of the alpha nerds
07/05/14   Fun
"If you've ever heard of Diplomacy, chances are you know it as 'the game that ruins friendships.' It's also likely you've never finished an entire game. That's because Diplomacy requires seven players and seven or eight hours to complete. Games played by postal mail, the way most played for the first 30 years of its existence, could take longer than a year to finish. Despite this, Diplomacy is one of the most popular strategic board games in history."

Congress reluctant to cut
06/20/14   Fun
"Escalating recent budgetary disputes with the White House over military spending, members of Congress signaled their hesitance Thursday to curtail funding for the M114 Armored Combat Vehicle, a midsize tank whose sole capability is spinning 360 degrees in place and then exploding."

How to fail your way to success
12/15/13   Fun
"Billionaires like to say passion is the secret of success. But what else could they say without sounding like total jerks? They can't say they are smarter than poor people. They can't say they work harder than poor people. They can't say they simply got lucky because that would ruin their images. So they say passion is the key because it sounds like an appropriately modest answer."

The romantic appeal of savers
08/04/13   Fun
"The desire to attract a romantic partner often stimulates conspicuous consumption, but we find that people who chronically save are more romantically attractive than people who chronically spend."

A fresh perspective
06/02/13   Fun
"Economics Lecturer Number 14,000,006"

New cough medication
02/09/13   Fun
"It's a suppressant. Sometimes."

The guide to trading candy
10/28/12   Fun
"Everything you need to know to get ahead in candy trading."

21 reasons why you should never date an economist
10/27/12   Fun
"7. On average they are pretty mean."

Fiscal cliff
09/14/12   Fun
"'What will happen if we hit the fiscal cliff?' asks Merle Hazard, in an animated surf-style music video."

Open letter to Apple shareholders
01/06/12   Fun
"You see, one day a competitor will come along and cut our core product line out from underneath us. We will need all the cash we can muster to fend them off. When that cash is done, we will mortgage the company. The first several times we may be successful. However, as is always the case, eventually time will get the best of us and we will be unable to meet our creditors demands. We will go bankrupt. Our creditors will seize the equity and the shareholders will be left with nothing and having made zero return on their investment. To our original investors, who are truly dear to us, we can only hope that you have long since sold out to some greater fool. If not, please do so at your earliest convenience."

A year without fear
12/31/11   Fun
"My danger-avoidance lifestyle worked, and I enjoyed a long string of injury-free years. But I always had a nagging feeling that I was missing out. How can you know if the chance you didn't take was the one that would have enriched your life versus, for example, something that would have ended up with you chewing your own arm off to escape? Enrichment and arm-gnawing look roughly the same when viewed from the start."

The case against summer
09/03/11   Fun
"The logical argument contra summertime should be four words long: middle-age men in shorts. Q.E.D. Alas, shorts are being worn year-round by us graying porkers with legs as ugly as stump fences - if stump fences had hairy varicose veins. But there are plenty of other things wrong with summer, starting with the fact that it comes at the wrong time of year."

The heady thrill of having nothing to do
08/06/11   Fun
"My period of greatest creative output was during my corporate years, when every meeting felt like a play date with coma patients. I would sit in long meetings, pretending to pay attention while writing computer code in my mind and imagining the anatomically inspired nicknames I would assign to my boss after I won the lottery. Years later, when 'Dilbert' was in thousands of newspapers, people often asked me if I ever imagined being so lucky. I usually said no, because that's the answer people expected. The truth is that I imagined every bit of good fortune that has come my way. But in my imagination I also invented a belt that would allow me to fly and had special permission from Congress to urinate like a bird wherever I wanted. I wake up every morning disappointed that I have to wear pants and walk."

How to tax the rich
07/26/11   Fun
"Whenever I feel as if I'm on a path toward certain doom, which happens every time I pay attention to the news, I like to imagine that some lonely genius will come up with a clever solution to save the world. Imagination is a wonderful thing. I don't have much control over the big realities, such as the economy, but I'm an expert at programming my own delusions. I make no apology for that. A well-crafted delusion can be a delicious guilty pleasure. And best of all, it's totally free. As a public service, today I will teach you how to wrap yourself in a warm blanket of imagined solutions for the government's fiscal dilemma."

What bourbon street taught me
05/09/11   Fun
"I can't believe it - the goldbugs/silverbugs were right - The Dollar is dead. "Kid Dynamite," you ask, "WTF are you talking about? You've been saying that the Metal Heads are being a bit irrational in their declaration of the New Monetary Regime - what changed?" Indeed, I HAD been saying that, but then I did some empirical research - some feet-to-the-ground old fashioned channel checks in the most primal of places, one of the hardest hit cities in the country: Bourbon Street on New Orleans. What I found was shocking - The Dollar is NOT the currency of choice. Alas, the silverbugs weren't entirely correct, as silver was not the money of the future in New Orleans. Rather: beads were. I kid you not. Plastic beads."

Irish Setter Dad
04/26/11   Fun
"Whose children are going to succeed in life, Amy Chua's or mine? Her Lulu has that violin going for her - there's hardly a Silicon Valley billionaire, Wall Street plutocrat, senator, four-star general, or pope who isn't a violin virtuoso. And Sophia, who tickles the ivories, can always say, "Don't tell Mom I work for Goldman Sachs, she thinks I play piano in a house of ill repute." But my kids practice too, hour after hour every day. They practice being jerks. And since almost every boss I've ever had was a jerk, this gives them a leg up. Plus there's the cat in the microwave. That shows an inquisitive, experimental turn of mind. You can see how electronic cat-zapping could lead directly to the invention of something like Facebook."

Tour De Gall
03/08/11   Fun
"Twenty minutes later, possibly under their own steam, the snails arrive. Vesuvian, they bubble and smoke in a magma of astringent garlic butter and parsley. We grasp them with the spring-loaded specula and gingerly unwind the dark gastropods, curling like dinosaur boogers. They go on and on, expanding onto the plate as if they were alien. We have to cut them in half, which is just wrong. The rule with snails is: Don't eat one you couldn't get up your nose."

Lewis on the financial crisis
02/15/11   Fun
"Wall Street leaders now understand that they made a mistake, one born of their innocent and trusting nature. They trusted ordinary Americans to behave more responsibly than they themselves ever would, and these ordinary Americans betrayed their trust. Amazingly, these ordinary Americans don't even appear to feel guilty for their actions. Like wild animals that have lost their fear of humans, they continue to wander down from the hills to rummage through our garbage cans for sustenance."

How to Tax the Rich
01/30/11   Fun
"The president was too polite to mention it during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, but here's a quick summary of the problem: The U.S. is broke. The hole is too big to plug with cost cutting or economic growth alone. Rich people have money. No one else does. Rich people have enough clout to block higher taxes on themselves, and they will. Likely outcome: Your next home will be the box that your laser printer came in. I hope that you kept it."

Disassembling, Reassembling Hoover Dam
01/09/11   Fun
"Systematically tearing down such a massive edifice will create at least 25,000 jobs over the next five years. And then reassembling it, using all the same pieces in the exact same configuration, will employ another 25,000 workers. America is back"

Goldman Pitch vs Nigerian Scam
01/07/11   Fun
"Of course, unlike Nigerian email scams, the solicitation came from a Goldman money manager rather than a random stranger. And Goldman isn't offering a scam but an investment opportunity so hot that the investment bank had to stop taking orders, as our colleagues reported this afternoon. But we couldn't help note some similar language used by Goldman and purported Nigerian princes. Read and compare"

Public Pension Parody
12/07/10   Fun
"Thousands of retired government employees are getting pensions of over $100,00 per year, and taxpayers have to pay for them. See how it happened..."

What we should be afraid of
06/23/10   Fun
Just when I was about to go back into the water again ...

Betting on the bad guys
06/06/10   Fun
"When I heard that BP was destroying a big portion of Earth, with no serious discussion of cutting their dividend, I had two thoughts: 1) I hate them, and 2) This would be an excellent time to buy their stock. And so I did. Although I should have waited a week. People ask me how it feels to take the side of moral bankruptcy. Answer: Pretty good! Thanks for asking. How's it feel to be a disgruntled victim?"

The running of the stockbrokers
05/21/10   Fun
"Europe, 2010, a tradition is born..."

Stop your spaniel eating the milkman
03/14/10   Fun
"As we know, one man once got on one plane in a pair of exploding hiking boots and as a result everyone else in the entire world is now forced to strip naked at airports and hand over their toiletries to a man in a high-visibility jacket. In other words, the behaviour of one man has skewed the concept of everyday life for everyone else. And we are seeing this all the time."

Money just a shared illusion
02/17/10   Fun
"The U.S. economy ceased to function this week after unexpected existential remarks by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke shocked Americans into realizing that money is, in fact, just a meaningless and intangible social construct."

Efficient markets theory disproved
02/01/10   Fun
"But I'm a connoisseur of economic irrationality. And so I bent down and picked up the paper. On one side, the grim visage of Queen Elizabeth. On the other, Charles Darwin. It was a 10 pound note, worth about $16.25. Just lying on the floor, unmolested by Nobel Prize-winning economists, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and financial journalists."

What bacon intake says about the economy
12/26/09   Fun
"Enough with the op-eds on the stimulus package. Stop with the hand-wringing over Wall Street compensation. Will Detroit exist in 10 years? Who cares? Bacon!"

The economist's guide to happiness
12/20/09   Fun
"Spend less time with your children. Don.t underestimate the benefits of a divorce. Never serve dog food at a dinner party. These are some of the unexpected revelations to have emerged from an unlikely combination: happiness, and economists."

Picking (up) winners without placing a bet
12/14/09   Fun
"For the past 10 years, Jesus Leonardo has been cleaning up at an OTB parlor in Midtown Manhattan, cashing in, by his own count, nearly half a million dollars' worth of winning tickets from wagers on thoroughbred races across the country. During his glorious run, Mr. Leonardo, 57, has not placed a single bet."

Bad investment ideas for 2010
12/14/09   Fun
"I always did like the Grinch a lot better before those meddling Whoville residents swelled up his heart. In tribute to that (ig)noble creature, I offer Bad Investment Ideas for 2010. Unlike all those sappy happy Best Investment Ideas pieces from my fellow Morningstar analysts that congest your inbox and befoul your spirits, this article delivers recommendations that would warm the Grinch's soul, if he had one. Ideas that, if implemented, would lead to wonderfully empty space under next year's Christmas trees."

Capitalist pigs and global warming
12/14/09   Fun
"Dear Secretary of State, My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a check for 3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the 'not rearing pigs' business. In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear?"

Chinese chocolate mystery
12/05/09   Fun
"Last week, at the end of one of my dispatches from China, I asked readers to help me understand why I couldn't find a chocolate bar in the world's most populous country. I wasn't implying there was no chocolate in China, but I was surprised that after five days in offices, factories, hotels, restaurants, transit hubs, roadside rest stops, ferry terminals, and street markets I had yet to come across a Hershey's bar or the Chinese equivalent."

Investors will buy anything
11/19/09   Fun
"If you thought those double and triple leveraged ETFs were pushing the envelope, how about an ETF that provides a 100-times leveraged play on the technology-heavy Nasdaq exchange? Let me warn you upfront that the following concerns an Onion-style parody, but it's nevertheless swept through the blogosphere. The scary part is that not only did many people actually believe this product was launched last Friday (the 13th, fittingly) but some even indicated an interest in buying such a product."

The economics of pinball
11/19/09   Fun
"Video games competed by adding levels of play with increasing difficulty. Any new player could quickly get chops on a new game because the low levels were easy. This ensured that new players were drawn in easily, but still they were continually challenged because the higher levels got harder and harder. By contrast, the physical nature of pinball, its main attraction to hardcore players, meant that there was no way to have it both ways. Eventually, to keep the pinballers playing, the games became so advanced that entry-level players faced an impossible barrier. High-schoolers in 1986 were either dropouts or professionals in 1992 and without inflow of new players that year essentially marked the end of pinball."

Squawking hawks
11/13/09   Fun
"A once-endangered species is staging a robust comeback: the deficit hawk. Hunted nearly to death during the Bush years, many varieties not seen in Washington in a decade are now perching on branches and dropping their wisdom. Look, there's the puff-chested congressional peacock hawk, frequently seen strutting about Sunday-morning-TV-show sets complaining about pork while emitting loud honks on the receipt of stimulus funds. The furrowed-brow warbler hawk (natural habitat: the op-ed pages) loathes deficit spending for the purpose of eliminating social injustice but loves it when the spending is used to finance military actions abroad. The blue-bellied partisan hawk nests in think tanks; it goes mute when members of its own party run the show but squawks loudly when opponents run up debt. On Nov. 3, birders sighted the rare skinny parrot hawk, which repeats back calls about fiscal probity. Said President Barack Obama on that date: 'The government is going to have to get serious about reducing our debt levels.'"

Against apple picking
10/26/09   Fun
"Apple picking is a cherished rite of fall, a wholesome and fun family outing, a throwback to a simpler time when people weren't so disconnected from the production of their sustenance. I look forward to it every year. It's also a wasteful scam."

Obama fails to win Nobel prize in economics
10/12/09   Fun
"While few observers think Obama has done anything for world peace in the nearly nine months he's been in office, the same clearly can't be said for economics. The president has worked tirelessly since even before his inauguration to wrest control of the U.S. economy from failed free markets, and the evil CEOs who profit from them, and to turn it over to wise, fair and benevolent bureaucrats."

Foreclosed homes threatened by hurricane
09/10/09   Fun
"In what forecasters are predicting will be the largest, most devastating disaster to hit Florida since the national economy collapsed, a Category 5 hurricane neared the Gulf coast this week, threatening thousands of repossessed and long deserted homes. According to meteorologists, the incoming tropical storm could leave as many as 3 million residents every bit as homeless as they've been for the past year or so."

The cupcake bubble
09/04/09   Fun
"In recent years, the response to a popped economic bubble has been to create a new one. The pierced dot-com/telecommunications bubble paved the way for the housing/credit bubble. That punctured bubble may be giving way to an alternative energy bubble. But I've got my eyes on a smaller, but no less revealing, one: the Cupcake Bubble."

Flipping out
08/12/09   Fun
"Yet recent research into coin flips has discovered that the laws of mechanics determine the outcome of coin tosses: The startling finding is they aren't random. Instead, for natural flips, the chance of a coin coming up on the same side as it started is about 51 percent. Heads facing up predicts heads; tails facing up predicts tails."

Mommy I'm bored
08/07/09   Fun
"My 9-year-old daughter does not go to camp until later this month. That's when her drama camp begins. But the plot has already thickened in my house with a steady chorus of: Mommy, I'm Bored! Here's what we're doing to cure the summer blues"

Bashing Goldman Sachs
07/31/09   Fun
"America stands at a crossroads, and Goldman Sachs now owns both of them. In choosing which road to take, ordinary Americans must not be distracted by unproductive resentment toward the toll-takers. To that end we at Goldman Sachs would like to dispel several false and insidious rumors."

The 15 creepiest vintage ads
07/02/09   Fun
"What do murder, pedophilia, suicide and a baby tiger have in common? They have all been used to sell stuff in these amazingly disturbing vintage ads"

5 popular laws that don't work
04/07/09   Fun
"Really, is it ever possible to be too safe? Especially when it's our children at stake? Actually, yes. Especially when the rule or law intended to make us safe is so poorly thought-out that it either does nothing but suck up public money, or creates a ripple effect of unintended side effects."

The new f***ing Citibank
03/06/09   Fun
"After Citibank becomes nationalized, expect to see commercials like this." [Warning: Harsh Language.]

The no-stats all-star
02/16/09   Fun
"Here we have a basketball mystery: a player is widely regarded inside the N.B.A. as, at best, a replaceable cog in a machine driven by superstars. And yet every team he has ever played on has acquired some magical ability to win."

Oh No, Timmy!
02/10/09   Fun
"And by Timmie, I presume you mean Tim Geithner, Treasury Secretary? . . . "

21 dumbest moments in business 2008
12/29/08   Fun
"We don't know whether to laugh or cry. Our annual list of the year's most laughable moves proves that, even in moments of crisis, stupidity lives on."

The south sea bubble of 1720
12/26/08   Fun
Bird and Fortune on the South Sea Bubble.

Gable's favourites from 2008
12/26/08   Fun
"Globe cartoonist shares his favourites from 2008"

'Dilbert' on how to save your career
12/13/08   Fun
"I'm drawing a series right now where he gets laid off and he has to go through a really tough bunch of interviews to try and get another job. At one point he is asked whether he would take a bullet for a prospective employer and they make him go to a firing range to prove it."

Funny money
12/01/08   Fun
"I enjoy looking at political cartoons and in recent weeks they have certainly taken on a financial focus"

Hank, let me help you help this great country
11/20/08   Fun
"By giving money to bankers who have made many stupid loans you have made life harder for bankers who have never made stupid loans. By aiding the dumb banks you prevent the smart ones from replacing them. It may be that just now smart bankers are the last thing we need -- but one day they may come in handy, and so we should do what we can to keep them from getting discouraged. Here's where I come in: I'm not a banker of any kind, but a mere writer. My little literary enterprise can absorb many billions of taxpayer dollars without consequence to the banking industry, or even to U.S. gross domestic literary output. If anything, other writers would have an opportunity to write more, as I, busy managing my new pile of cash, will naturally have no time to write."

Bonus jackpot can be yours in 5 easy steps
11/10/08   Fun
"If even the steelworkers union can parse the Wall Street doublespeak, the doublespeak has lost its power to persuade. Too many people know too many things. The problem of how to get paid on Wall Street must be radically reframed."

Credit crunch humour
10/23/08   Fun
"I went to buy a toaster and it came with a bank . . . "

I won't give Goldman my $200 Million lottery win
09/25/08   Fun
"Tomorrow's Europe-wide lottery offers a tax-free, lump-sum jackpot worth about $200 million. When I hand over my winning ticket, though, I will face a dilemma: Where do I stash my luck-gotten gains?"

Mad TV - Free Credit Card
09/06/08   Fun
A skit on the perils of credit from Mad TV

These Olympics are unreal
08/25/08   Fun
"These Olympics are unreal. And that's not a good thing exactly how we planned it."

Dazzling dandelions foment new commodities craze
08/22/08   Fun
"Commodities speculators have a new darling: dandelions. Each day brings a new Wall Street report touting dandelion leaves and flowers for use as both feed for livestock and fuel for vehicles." [Drink some dandelion wine while soaking in the silliness.]

A glossary of incompetence
08/19/08   Fun
"The "Peter Principle" states that "in a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence; the cream rises until it sours." People who show competence are promoted whether or not they are qualified to perform competently at the next level. Eventually they go beyond their limits, become incompetent, and stop getting promoted. Macbeth, a success as a military commander, rose to become an incompetent king. Which is to say, "nothing fails like success."" [An oldie but a goodie.]

Nation demands new bubble
07/15/08   Fun
"A panel of top business leaders testified before Congress about the worsening recession Monday, demanding the government provide Americans with a new irresponsible and largely illusory economic bubble in which to invest. "What America needs right now is not more talk and long-term strategy, but a concrete way to create more imaginary wealth in the very immediate future," said Thomas Jenkins, CFO of the Boston-area Jenkins Financial Group, a bubble-based investment firm. "We are in a crisis, and that crisis demands an unviable short-term solution.""

Welcome to the nanny state nation
07/13/08   Fun
"Even if we don't particularly like something we should be wary of banning it because every ban is backed up by the force of law. Plus, would you want to live in a nation that bans everything that offends someone?"

How your taxes turn into manure
04/16/08   Fun
"But it's also time to file your federal tax return. Yes, this is a pesky chore, but remember that paying taxes is not a ''one-way street.'' When you send your money to the government, the government, in return, provides you with vital services, such as not putting you in prison. The government also uses your money to pay for programs that benefit all Americans, such as the Catfish Genome Project."

The Long Johns: Subprime
11/04/07   Fun
A fun introduction to Mr. Market. [video]

The Long Johns: Meeting the adviser
11/04/07   Fun
Northern Rock + Comedy = Priceless [video]

Hedge-fund guy atones for his subprime bond sins
08/16/07   Fun
"Dear investor, we'd like to take this opportunity to update you on the recent performance of our hedge fund, Short-Term Capital Mismanagement LLP. As you know, market selection for the entire fund is guided by a proprietary investing tool we like to call "a dartboard." Once the asset classes are decided, individual security selections are generated by digitizing our unique hexagonal cuboid models. Unfortunately, it transpires that our hexagonal cuboids are not as unique as we thought. Hundreds of other hedge funds possess identical dice. The technical term for this is a "crowded trade." You may also see it referred to as "climbing on a bandwagon already headed for the wall.""

If hedge funds kept cows
02/10/07   Fun
"A famous series of jokes attempts to define political systems. In communism, for example, you have two cows, your commune seizes them and charges you for milk. In a democracy, you have two cows, the cows outvote you 2-1 to ban all meat and dairy products, and you go bankrupt and starve to death. Similar thinking can be applied to financial markets. Here, then, is the world of money recast in bovine terms."

101 dumbest moments in business
01/23/07   Fun
"Business 2.0 Magazine's 7th annual look at the year in bungled layoffs, customer-service snafus, and other corporate madness."

Fear of flying
09/13/06   Fun
"Your life-jacket can be found under your seat, but please do not remove it now. In fact, do not bother to look for it at all. In the event of a landing on water, an unprecedented miracle will have occurred, because in the history of aviation the number of wide-bodied aircraft that have made successful landings on water is zero. This aircraft is equipped with inflatable slides that detach to form life rafts, not that it makes any difference. Please remove high-heeled shoes before using the slides. We might as well add that space helmets and anti-gravity belts should also be removed, since even to mention the use of the slides as rafts is to enter the realm of science fiction."

Stolen lunches? Substitute cat food for tuna
08/28/06   Fun
"Someone stole my lunch from the office refrigerator the other day. It was a really good lunch - leftovers from dinner the night before accompanied by caramel flan, yogurt, a peach and delicate French cookies from a previous brown bag seminar. Now, it could have been nicked accidentally. Or maybe someone was really hungry and needed the food. Either way, I was annoyed, and after taking an informal survey, it turns out I'm hardly the only victim."

Detroit sold for scrap
05/10/06   Fun
"The decision to demolish and cull Detroit for scrap was approved last month by a 6-3 City Council vote after a cost-benefit analysis revealed that, as a functioning urban area, it held a negative cash value."

The happiness business
02/17/06   Fun
"What matters to your sense of well-being, happiometricians conclude, is not your absolute circumstances but how you stack up against the neighbors. Even a millionaire will feel miserable in the company of billionaires, poor sod. I field-tested all this by reading a slew of academic papers on the subject. I found myself feeling a lot happier when I imbibed a rather expensive bottle of wine along with the papers, suggesting one empirically proven instance where wealth did improve one's sense of well-being. Indeed, the longer I continued the experiment, the happier I felt."

101 dumbest moments in business
01/28/06   Fun
"From notorious former mental institutions being converted into high-end condos, to candy bars with curious names, see the top examples of shenanigans, skullduggery, and just plain stupidity of the year."

Life without a paycheck
08/14/05   Fun
"And look at your own life. Haven't you dreamed, at least once, of setting out on your own path while you're still young enough to enjoy it?"

What's love worth? Try $100k
02/11/05   Fun
"A Valentine's Day flash from economists: If you want to be happy, don't get rich. Get married."

Ben Stein's funny money
10/14/04   Fun
"Ben Stein (he of "Win Ben Stein's Money," on Comedy Central) and Phil DeMuth have written Yes, You Can Time the Market! They demonstrate that investors who move in and out of the market based on such simple criteria as price-earnings ratios and dividend yields will do better than the dollar-cost averager who dutifully invests a fixed amount in stocks month after month, year after year. Their numbers make perfect sense. Their advice to you does not."

Apprentice to a hoax
09/08/04   Fun
""A schoolboy's dream... a competitor's challenge. Donald J. Trump is the very definition of the American success story, continually setting the standards of excellence...." It's times like this that I wonder whether the TV-addled American public doesn't deserve every fleecing it gets at the hands of the world's biggest snake-oil peddlers."

How 51 gorillas can make you seriously rich
08/24/04   Fun
"Given this strong motivation to succeed, it is astonishing how bad most business books are. Many appear to be little more than expanded PowerPoint presentations, with bullet points and sidebars setting out unrelated examples or unconnected thoughts. Some read like an extended paragraph from a consultant's report (and, indeed, many consultancies encourage their stars to write books around a single idea and lots of examples from the clientele). Few business books are written by a single author; lots require a whole support team of researchers. And all too many have meaningless diagrams."

Buffett buys Krispy Kreme
04/01/04   Fun
"Asked by a passerby what prompted him to make the purchase, Buffett winked and smiled wryly. "A man cannot live on DQ Blizzards alone." Mmmmmm.... donuts."

Statistics and sport
03/25/04   Fun
"Statistics changed baseball. It may change other sports too"

Death, taxes, airline food
03/21/04   Fun
"April 15 is lurking around the corner, so if you haven't yet filed your federal tax return, it's time to set aside a few hours, gather together your financial records, and flee the country."

Federal deficit: Meet the other white meat
03/11/04   Fun
"They're being total slime-weasels. They're spending MORE. They're pandering their brains out. The Republicans just added a hugely expensive new drug benefit for senior citizens, which the Democrats have bitterly criticized because it isn't expensive ENOUGH."

Toss out the toss-up
03/02/04   Fun
"Their preliminary data suggest that a coin will land the same way it started about 51 percent of the time. It would take about 10,000 tosses before a casual observer would become aware of such a small bias, Diaconis says. "Maybe that's why society hasn't noticed this before," he says."

Cow wanders into bank
02/06/04   Fun
"A Friesian cow took a detour from a wedding where she was meant to be a guest of honor, wandering into a German bank where she was caught on security cameras sidling up to the tellers."

January, hemlines and the Super Bowl
01/07/04   Fun
"Watching how the first five trading days go is really just a truncated version of something called the January barometer. Look at the S&P 500 since 1950, and you'll see that January has predicted the markets' performance for the year all but eleven times. (Last year was one of the misses.) Stunning right? Hang on."

Beat it boss, I'm playing a game
11/12/03   Fun
"Rejoice, my fellow corporate drones, you need no longer hide behind your monitor at work as you sneak in a game of solitaire!"

Ask not what telemarketers can do to you
09/02/03   Fun
"So what does the public care about right now? Telemarketers. The public hates them. It hates them even more than it hates France, low-flow toilets or ''customer service.''"

Living in a state of disrepair: California
08/25/03   Fun
"To make matters worse, Gray lost the state budget surplus. California had this gigantic surplus, billions and billions of dollars, and now it's gone. They've looked everywhere, but nobody can find it. It is the Weapon of Mass Destruction of budget surpluses. So now Gray is spectacularly unpopular. Everybody despises him. When he tries to get into the governor's house, his own dog attacks him. When he calls for his security personnel, they side with the dog."

More economic sophisms
08/12/03   Fun
"Special-interest-group pleading often tries to hide behind supposedly economic arguments. It is important to debunk such arguments as they arise, so that the interest-group politics can be seen for what it is."

Nothing like public humiliation
08/10/03   Fun
"This month's 8-K was a show stopper. Edward Wolfe, a Bear Stearns analyst who has a sell rating on Expeditors stock ("underperform," whatever), managed to get himself into a bit of a snit over Expeditors' failure to respond to his emails and requests for a visit. The entire response absolutely has to be read to believed. And keep in mind, this is in a federal filing, not some company press release."

Blue food blues
06/19/03   Fun
"'Simply put, they're not what a potato is supposed to be.' This is how H.J. Heinz pitched Funky Fries -- the weird chocolate-flavored and blue-colored fries -- to the world last year."

Corporate Babble
05/26/03   Fun
"The first was a recall notice released by Ford, which informed the world of potential steering problems with some of its pick-up trucks and Expeditions. How's this for a diagnosis? "In the small number of these vehicles in which the intermediate steering shaft yoke was not properly installed, the result ultimately may be a disconnection of the intermediate steering shaft from the steering gear." The Babbler assumes that means the steering wheel has all the responsiveness of the free-spinning ones mounted on those little kiddie cars outside of grocery stores. But don't worry; it's only a "high-mileage durability issue.""

Anyone can be fooler of the world
04/21/03   Fun
"HG Wells came up with the idea first: invent a fancy machine, step inside, press a few buttons and before you ask what the time is, you're drinking tea with the ancestors."

'Time-Traveler' busted for insider trading
04/18/03   Fun
"But the fact is, with an initial investment of only $800, in two weeks' time he had a portfolio valued at over $350 million. Every trade he made capitalized on unexpected business developments, which simply can't be pure luck."

Want a little something EGTRRA?
04/11/03   Fun
"It's tax time. I know this because I'm staring at documents that make no sense to me, no matter how many beers I drink."

The idiot's guide to derivatives
03/09/03   Fun
"Ismail is a successful mule trader in Peshawar. Every year Ismail delivers 30 mules to the Kabul Mule Market and gets $40 per mule. This year however, the Khyber Pass is full of warlord militias, so Ismail is not sure he can drive his mules to market without losing a mule here and there. Also, the demand for mules in Kabul seems to be dropping. Maybe he'll only be able to sell 20 mules, or, God forbid, 15, and then be forced to feed and water the rest of them on a money-losing trek back home. In other words, it's a scary market and Ismail is worried about feeding his family. What Ismail needs is to limit his risk with an Enron derivatives package."

Global Century Investments
02/01/03   Fun
"Thank you. At Global Century, we like to be completely upfront with our clients. That's why, in our prospectus, we clearly state that our investment advice is often self-interested or deceitful, and may work to our client's disadvantage. We think.. you deserve to know that."

Hi, I'm SoloTrek -- fly me!
01/13/03   Fun
"Strap-on personal helicopter hits the auction block, but buyer must promise not to use it." Who said companies 'for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage, but nobody to know what it is' went out of style in the 1700s...

Fellowship of the Zing
01/13/03   Fun
"The SEC's new accounting board would never cut it in Middle Earth."

Econ 101: supply, demand and prayer
01/01/03   Fun
"The U.S. economy is in trouble, as evidenced by the new Merrill Lynch slogan: 'Please Buy Stocks Or Our Children Will Starve.'"

Getting to the bottom of 2002
01/01/03   Fun
"We were also wary of the stock market. One day it was up; the next day it was down; the next day it was way down. And as we watched our 401K plans decline from a retirement villa in France to a refrigerator carton in an alley, we heard the uncea sing babble of the financial ''experts,'' the ones who have never yet failed to be wrong, speculating endlessly on whether the market had bottomed out"

The new vocabulary
12/29/02   Fun
"Here are 33 handy excuses for saving too little or making foolish investments, plus translations for what each excuse really means."

Casino research
11/14/02   Fun
"It was an odd roulette wheel. Labeled "S&P," it had 500 slots. There were others nearby that were even larger. It was a strange casino I was in. But, hey, here to play, right? I moved my chip toward Red 19 -- an old favorite play of mine."

A patently absurd invention?
10/25/02   Fun
"Inventors have been registering bright ideas with the UK Patent Office for 150 years. While the flush toilet, computer and aspirin have proved invaluable, the same cannot be said of every innovation."

My pro forma life
08/25/02   Fun
"On a pro forma basis, I'm having an outstanding year. In calendar 2002 I've gone to the gym on a regular basis and expect this trend to continue and to have a material impact on my health going forward. Year-to-date, my health has improved by a solid 15 percent on an annualized basis."

McDonald's to begin accepting Nortel shares
05/08/02   Fun
"'Sure, my grandchildren's inheritance is still pretty much right out the window, but, at least I'll be able to take them down to the local McDonald's for a quarter-pounder every now and then. That'll be a welcome change from my daily routine of cat food,' said McMorgan, a retired mill worker."

Media should bring back our beloved bubble
03/01/02   Fun
"Do these things, and we're on our way. But don't be discouraged if it doesn't happen all at once. Remember, the Internet Bubble wasn't built in a day. It took, like, a week."

The 5 dumbest things on Wall Street this week
02/17/02   Fun
"Remember last week when we said if you want your employees to despise you, the best way to do it is to take away their coffee? Well, we've obviously underestimated the ingenuity of America's executives."

How enron works
02/05/02   Fun
"Here's how Enron works. It's really quite simple. Ismail is a successful mule trader in Peshawar. Every year Ismail delivers 30 mules to the Kabul Mule Market and gets $40 per mule."

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