Saddam Hussein

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 dennyhatch.com.

I just finished a splendid book, "The Forger's Spell" by Edward Dolnick, about how a mediocre painter named Han Van Meegeren painted a series of "Vermeers" in the 1930s and 1940s and conned the European art establishment into believing they were real. One of his forgeries was the crown jewel in the collection of the world's greatest art thief, Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering. It was a delicious hoax.

When I put the book down and started looking for news stories to pin this column to, I found August was an extraordinary month for hoaxes, fakes, scams, scandals and pranks. Let's start with Wine Spectator.

Thomas Matthews, Executive Editor of Wine Spectator, is pissed. For starters:

Wine Spectator learned yesterday that, for the first time in the 27-year history of our Restaurant Awards program, a fictitious restaurant has entered its wine list for judging. To orchestrate his publicity-seeking scam, Robin Goldstein created a fictitious restaurant in Milan, Italy, called Osteria L'Intrepido, and then submitted a menu and wine list to Wine Spectator's Restaurant Awards as a new entry in 2008. The wine list earned an Award of Excellence, the most basic of our three award levels. Goldstein revealed his elaborate hoax at a meeting in Oregon last week. He is now crowing about the fraud on his own Web site. The story has been picked up in the blogosphere, and now Wine Spectator would like to set forth the actual facts of the matter.

"Facts of the matter?"

Mr. Matthews, you were bamboozled. Hornswoggled. Thimblerigged. Flimflammed. Your awards program is a deeply flawed business model.

Gotcha!

Yahoo! has been instructed not to filter my e-mail for spam. I want to see everything. What are the new trends? How many millions does Mme. Obi-Wan Kenobi want to transfer into my bank account from Darfur? What is the current method of spelling V*I-A*grA? “One mathematically minded blogger who looked into it,” wrote Michael Specter in the Aug. 6, 2007, New Yorker, “found that there are 600,426,974,379,824, 381,952 ways to spell Viagra.” Specter’s 4,600-word article is almost the last word on spam—a monumental discourse on the history, arithmetic (amount of spam and the ROI needed to make a profit), how it works and

I am tired of PC. Not personal computers. I mean political correctness. When I read last Friday’s op-ed piece by Wall Street Journal editorial board member Stephen Moore about the Independence Institute bash in Colorado where there was “a whole lot of drinking, smoking and shooting, but thankfully not in that order,” I wanted to applaud. My favorite passages: These people are just dog tired of having the government tell them what to do: Buckle your seat belt, wear your bike helmet, don’t smoke, don’t shoot, teach your 8-year-olds to wear condoms—and, most of all, stop complaining and pay your taxes... There was a

Dadaism was a wacko cultural movement dreamed up by artists, writers and musicians. First announced in neutral Zurich on Bastille Day, July 14, 1916, in the middle of World War I, it was the “reaction to what many of these artists saw as nothing more than an insane spectacle of collective homicide.” Dadaism quickly spread across Europe and came to New York, its main proponents being avant-garde photographer Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, whose iconic “Nude Descending Staircase” is featured in every art history course that deals with the modern era. The basic tenet of the Dada art, music and literature was screaming, wrenching, fingernails-on-the-blackboard

If the Iraq War is considered a business model, it is unraveling—just like General Motors (and Ford and DaimlerChrysler). A number of knowledgeable experts have declared our Iraq incursion not to be winnable. It does not take a language scholar to read between the lines of General Abizaid’s and General Pace’s testimony to see that the Pentagon is beginning to agree. That’s because no one has a clue about how to deal with three 800-pound guerrillas. The three 800-pound guerillas are al Qaeda plus Sunni and Shi’a murderers that are turning Baghdad into a scene reminiscent of Michelangelo’s “Last Judgment” on the altar wall of the

Another shameful chapter in The New York Times story comes to an end Nov. 17, 2005: Vol. 1, Issue No. 49 IN THE NEWS Judy Miller Fights Back with Letters to Dowd and Calame NEW YORK--Judith Miller will not go gently into that good night. Her public relations offensive, which had already taken her to CNN with Larry King and to National Public Radio and elsewhere, now includes angry published letters to two of her antagonists, former colleague Maureen Dowd and New York Times Public Editor Barney Calame. --Joe Strupp, Editor & Publisher, Nov. 13, 2005 For us news junkies, the professional demise

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