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The Write Way

Friday 16 March 2012

"Greedy Gravy!"


Most of us know when enough is enough, don't we?

Well, you and I know this, but for some of our fellows, it seems that the notion of satiety is quite foreign, and I present as evidence for this claim the headline I heard on a news broadcast last week about a chappie who'd embezzled money to support his lavish lifestyle.

"So what?" I hear you mutter, "People embezzle money all the time."

And so they do, dear reader, and so they do, but not on a scale like this, for our jolly embezzler didn't just fiddle the books for a few hundred dollars. Not even for a few thousand ... nor a few million. This character embezzled the staggering sum of $7 billion!

Yep ... that's billion with a "b."

And he did it "to fund his billionaire lifestyle."

Now, pardon me for asking, but just why would any normal human being require a "billionaire lifestyle?"

I mean, how many meals can one person eat in a given day? How many cars do you need to get you from A to B? How many "best friends" does one individual require to tell him he's wonderful?

The answer, to all of the above, is obviously ... "lots."

But, hang on a tick. Let's just think about this for a moment, because we are talking about 7 billion, remember? And one billion is a thousand million ... that's a lot of flash dinners out, whichever way you look at it.

I know I've used this example before, but we do have to try to get our tiny minds around these figures so we can appreciate the enormity of this whole thing, so gird up your loins, sharpen your pencils and let's go ...

Just imagine that you have been locked in a vault and a good fairy has told you that you can keep every dollar note you initial, (we're assuming that you initial one note every second and that you don't need to eat, sleep or take comfort breaks). Do you know how long it would take you to make a million dollars?

Twelve days of non-stop effort would earn you a million dollars. 

120 days would give you $10 million.

1200 days - $100 million. That's over three years to get a paltry $100 million ... Still a long way to go ...

After 31.7 years, you'd be a billionaire.

Nearly 31 years ... times seven.

That's a lot of money. But he did pay $10 million for his mansion and $6 million for his yacht ...

I don't know about you, but if I had access to $7 billion, I could think of lots better things to do with the money than fritter it away on a house and a boat!

How can these people sleep at nights?

You'd think they'd be nervous wrecks, waiting to be found out. But they're a different breed from the rest of us, as this news report illustrates:

Several key witnesses, including the prosecution’s star... — the former chief financial officer — told jurors he and Stanford were constantly falsifying bank records, annual reports and other documents to hide a scam that lasted 20 years. (Read all the gory details in this week's Little Something Extra.)

Twenty years!

But our villain is getting his comeuppance (as we hope all villains do) having been convicted earlier this month of embezzling and sentenced to 230 years in prison.

I know ... it's what you might call over-kill, isn't it? But I suppose it makes the victims feel better. And the Greedy-Gravy gets his just deserts!

That word embezzle is an odd one, isn't it? It means "to appropriate fraudulently to one's own use, as money or property entrusted to one's care; to steal money from an employer," and it comes from an Anglo-French word embeseiller meaning 'to destroy, make away with.'

First thing one morning, a robber broke into the bank, and pointed his guns at the cashier said,

'Give me all your money, or you'll be GEOGRAPHY!'

The cashier laughed and said, 'Don't you mean 'HISTORY?'

The robber glared at her, 'Don't change the subject.'


It's a sad commentary on our society that we have a word specifically for stealing money that's been entrusted to our care, but we have an inordinate number of words to describe all types of stealing, as this week's quiz illustrates!

This week's quiz:

I know that none of us has any first-hand experience with stealing, but purely as an intellectual exercise ... do that thing you do:

pilfer, defalcate, poach, abscond, defraud, peculate, abduct, swindle, plagiarise, blackmail

1. to cheat (a person, business, etc.) out of money or other assets

2. to steal or take dishonestly (money, especially public funds, or property entrusted to one's care)

3. o depart in a sudden and secret manner, especially to avoid capture and legal prosecution

4. to steal, especially in small quantities

5. to extort money from (a person) by the use of threats

6. misappropriate money or funds held by an official, trustee, or other fiduciary

7. to take and use ideas, passages, etc., from (another's work)

8. to deprive of a right, money, or property by fraud

9. to carry off or lead away (a person) illegally and in secret or by force, especially to kidnap

10. to trespass, especially on another's game preserve, in order to steal animals or to hunt; to take fish illegally

At a dinner given by the CEO of a major financial institution, a distinguished diplomat complained to his host that the chief financial officer, who had been sitting on his left, had stolen
his watch.

"Ah, he shouldn't have done that," said the CEO, in tones of annoyance. "I'll get it back for you."

Sure enough, toward the end of the evening the watch was returned to its owner.

"And what did he say?" asked the diplomat.

"Shh," cautioned the host, glancing anxiously about him, "he doesn't know I got it back."


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Never-Ending Story

An Ape that wants to play Hamlet after being type-cast as King Kong, a talking anvil and that rottweiller ... Dr Morgenes is still caught in the nightmare that is the casting couch. Help him find a plot!  Just click on the Comments button at the end of the entry to add your contribution. If you have friends who fancy themselves as writers, invite them to contribute (just forward this newsletter in its entirety to them). Or click here to revive the cast at Twitter:

Last week's quiz:

rime, nadir, aphelion, diurnal, anabatic, syzygy, katabatic, hydrosphere, anemometer, troposphere

1. wind that's created by air flowing uphill - ANABATIC

2. wind that's created by air flowing downhill - KATABATIC

3. instrument for measuring the force of wind - ANEMOMETER

4. the point of the earth's orbit that's furthest from the sun - APHELION

5. the rapid freezing of really cold water droplets as they touch an exposed object, forming a white opaque skin of ice - RIME

6. the lowest layer of the earth's atmosphere - TROPOSPHERE

7. the points in the moon's orbit about the earth at which the moon is new or full - SYZYGY

8. the water part of the earth's surface - HYDROSPHERE

9. a point on the celestial sphere directly below the observer, diametrically opposite the zenith - NADIR

10. relating to or occurring in a 24-hour period; daily - DIURNAL

A man accused of theft was appearing before the Judge.

"Your Honour," his lawyer said, "I feel it is very unfair for my client to be accused of theft. He arrived in this city only a few days ago and barely knows his way around. What's more, he is only able to speak a few words of English."

The judge looked sternly at the defendant and asked, "How much English do you speak?"

The defendant looked up and replied, "Give me your wallet!"

A Little Something Extra

Read all the gory details of the grand scam here

Oxymoron of the week: Financial humour

Word of the week: Purloin (vb) to take dishonestly; steal; filch; pilfer.

Now here's a word that deserves more prominence!

It has nothing to do with a nice juicy steak, but comes from an Anglo-French word purloigner meaning 'to put off, remove.'

And a Latin phrase this week that authorities don't want to have to use about our embezzler ...

Abiit, excessit, evasit, erupit

AH-bee-eet acks-SAY-seet ay-WAY-seet ay-ROOP-eet]

(He has left, absconded, escaped and disappeared)

Did you know that you can have your very own Latin reminders? How about undies proclaiming, Bene est rex esse? (It's good to be king) Or a shopping bag that warns, Emptrix nata sum (Born to shop)? Click here for these and more: 

Kind regards,


Did you know that you can have your very own Latin reminders? How about undies proclaiming, Bene est rex esse? (It's good to be king) Or a shopping bag that warns, Emptrix nata sum (Born to shop)? Click here for these and more: 

Kind regards,


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