1. He played cards with Nixon and LBJ, he was Pablo Escobar's 'partner in grift', he charmed the talk shows and he was so skinny that he 'looked like the advance man for a famine.' He was the biggest name in poker in 1973, before professional poker was anything, and he was still the biggest name in poker in 2003, when it had started to be its current behemoth. Even I'd heard of Amarillo Slim.
2. I worry we've done Harriette Wilson before, just because her memoir starts:
I shall not say why and how I became, at the age of fifteen, the mistress of the Earl of Craven. Whether it was love, or the severity of my father, the depravity of my own heart, or the winning arts of the noble lord, which induced me to leave my paternal roof, and place myself under his protection, does not much signify; or if it does, I am not in the humour to gratify curiosity in this manner
Anyway, this old book review is fun. This one sticks it to people who are sniffy about her writing because she was a bit of a harlot.
3. In response to twitter: yes, I do know that there are professional mermaids: I have been inspired to dedicate a percentage of my earnings as a mermaid towards anti-Whaling Charities...
4. If religious people are right, then I am damned. They get the last laugh. Surely they can live with me finding the idea of conservadox judaism a little comical?
5. A decade ago I reviewed Philippe Legrain's Open World. Its central thesis has never left me and never not seemed right. In a nutshell:
A. Free trade in goods helps poor countries, but rich countries only apply it to goods they want to sell, not to goods that poor countries want to sell.
B. Free trade in money is a destabilising nightmare that does nothing to sensibly allocate goods or resources - it just makes paper profits and leaves a trail of destruction. It's the reason companies can legally do all this kind of tax-avoiding nonsense while they bleat 'free trade, free trade'.
Separate money and goods, people. They don't obey the same rules.