Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

Last week someone forwarded me the e-story of a vacationing family thrown together with Sen. John McCain and his family at a luxury resort on Turtle Island, Fiji. McCain comes off as overbearing, tedious and a lecherous pig—a boor, bore and boar.

The piece is so explicit—written with such outrage and so filled with detail—that its truth seems self-evident.

Or, is it the work of a master fiction writer out to spread a rumor and help scuttle John McCain's campaign?

Welcome to a discussion about rumors and smears—and what to do if you're the spreader, the smearee or the smearer.

My wife, Peggy, and I are hooked on watching the Philadelphia Eagles on television every week during football season. It's a fun few hours.

A very successful businessman I know has been a New York Giants season ticket holder for more than 35 years. Even though he moved to another city, he's hung onto his seats, giving them to family or selling them through his broker at a fat profit when he can't attend a game.

Recently my friend got a bill from the Giants for $40,000--a one-time payment for two "personal seat licenses," giving him the right to buy season tickets for those seats in perpetuity. The money is needed, claims management, to help finance the new $1.6 billion stadium, even though many fans are feeling more like bankers than ticket holders.

Is it smart business to screw somebody who's been a loyal customer for 35 years?

Believe it or not, in some cases the answer is yes.

In May, my wife, Peggy, and I went to Normandy for a three-day total immersion into D-Day and World War II. The biggest town in the area is Caen (pronounced caw, with the “n” silent), and we stayed at the Best Western Moderne, a fine little hotel centrally situated and a bargain next to what we paid in Paris. Caen was blown to bits during the Allied invasion, much of it reduced to rubble. In the hotel window were a couple of photographs of the old Moderne before the war. I remembered a story about World War II told to me many years

The idea that Microsoft, Intel, Google and IBM have banded together to figure out how to deal with the information overload they made—the glut of e-mail, instant messaging and cell phoning that we’re all drowning

As readers of last Thursday’s edition may remember, my wife Peggy and I are back from Normandy and a three-day immersion in World War II and D-Day—a journey I have wanted to take for five decades. I wish I had a week. Coming home to the story of General Petraeus appointing the new crop of Army generals was unsettling. In World War II, America’s top generals in Europe were world-class—George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton Jr. and Omar N. Bradley to name four. Every now and again, fantastic images cross my brain. For example, if we could bring J.S. Bach back

Whenever things go wrong and I get depressed, my wife Peggy says, “Cheer up, nobody is shooting at us.” I used to know Francey Smith, who ran the Bloomingdale’s catalog for years. She was a marketing genius who combined database wizardry with great merchandising savvy. She was one of the best in the world at what she did. Now the Bloomingdale’s catalog, which has been around since 1886, is being killed off by Macy’s. It has an active file of 472,609 12-month mail-order buying households. A ballpark estimate would be that each household has an average of four people, which means a total of

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