In a tender column for the Times, one-time Nixon speech writer and Wonder Years star Ben Stein tells of how the "wealth management division" of an investment bank came to his Beverly Hills home two years ago trying to get him to invest with "a genius (who) never lost money." That genius, of course, was Bernard Madoff. What the bank didn't realize of course was that while Madoff may very well have been a genius, Ben Stein is a supergenius and turned down the offer.

As he recounts:

They assured me that this genius had found a way to spot market inefficiencies and, indeed, to make money off a perfect hedge. I thanked them for their time and promptly looked up Bernard Madoff online. Nothing I saw was even a bit convincing that he had made a breakthrough in financial theory...I politely passed and went on my way, finding my own inventive ways to lose money on a colossal scale during these last 15 months...

Stein then goes on to point out the human flaw of people always ignoring what time has taught them and believing that there is a new way to "beat" the market. And then things start to feel a little fuzzy when he concludes by telling us that we are still the same good or bad person whether we lost a boat full of money or not.

As for Madoff, he remains under house arrest in his East 64th Street penthouse. He may be contemplating an insanity defense as angry investors hope to recover some of their money. A Swiss newspaper claims the Credit Suisse lost about $1 billion with Madoff, but a company spokesman said, "Credit Suisse did not actively recommend or sell products invested with Bernard Madoff. Furthermore, none of the funds of hedge funds offered by Credit Suisse contained holdings in Madoff funds." And a friend of Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, who apparently killed himself over his angst at losing $1.4 billion, said of Madoff, "Bernie should rot with the rats."