Saturday, December 08, 2012

"Dreaming of Dad having to do Christmas retail." Courtesy L.
Friday, December 07, 2012

Street View study for an "LA picture" I hope to shoot next spring.  Possibly credible as an autonomous work.
"Amazon disclosed in October 2011 that the IRS wanted $1.5 billion in unpaid taxes. It has declined to say exactly what transactions the charge relates to but said it was linked to 'transfer pricing with our foreign subsidiaries' over a seven-year period from 2005."

Q:  What will the balance sheet look like with even .75 billion removed from it?

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Tonight's soundtrack: "...various keyboards, mellotron, flutes and strings..."


Christopher Brayshaw, La Cinega, 2011

Three theses:

1. The demand that a work of representational art -- a painting or photograph -- resemble something confuses the work's ostensible subject(s) with the work's own autonomy as a thing-in-the-world.

2.  There is no such thing as a single "subject" in painting or photography.  The tree's scarred trunk is no more the subject of my picture than the little green leaf in the foreground, or the rock and the nail and the weeds, or the cracked pavement beside the trunk, or the window's reflection in the deep shadow below the brickwork, or the security gate's beautiful iron curlicues, or the deeply slanted space at upper left.  All of these things are equal.  All of them have meaning.

3. If ever in doubt about one of my pictures, it's probably a self-portrait.  Even the reenactments.
Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Jeffrey B. quoted in Fortune magazine's "CEO of the Year" profile: "Your margin is my opportunity."

Well, maybe.  Definitely true if margin equals profit.  But margin actually equals gross, not net, profit.  So out of margin comes every possible kind of expense: Xmas decorations for the front window, new sign, cloud computing facilities, trash bags, courier charges, conveyer belts for the warehouse, etc.  These expenses don't go away, and they scale over time, especially if building a national or international brand.  The bigger the enterprise gets, the bigger its investments in, for example, cloud computing and warehousing.

Capex has to be paid somehow.  You can either do it out of margin or you can do it with cheques written by venture capitalists.  As Fortune's article makes clear, Jeffrey's disruptive/transformative seat at the prom has been paid by two sources: vendors (who are now fed up with their position as parents endlessly doling out money for their ungainly offspring's whims; the Random/Penguin merger is a late, and in my view long overdue attempt to create an entity big enough to dictate terms (discounts, dating of invoices, returnability) to Jeffrey, instead of the other way around), and VC funding.

Some questions.  The buy side guys think I'm doomed, but I've spent my whole life being misunderestimated by almost every condescending "professional" I've ever met.  So, in order:

1.  What return do VCs typically require from a technology investment?

2.  What timeframe do VCs typically require for payback?

3.  How long will this payback take with a 1.8% net margin?  (Jeffrey's statistic, plucked from his 10Ks, not mine).

4.  What is's current PE?  (again, derived from the 10K and public sources like Yahoo & Google Finance).

5.  Has any company in the history of finance and investment sustained a triple-digit PE over the medium- to long-term?

5a.  Is there money in the bank?

5b.  How much of it belongs to suppliers?

6.  What will happen when (not if) generous vendor terms and VC funding decouple from the train?

Food for thought for Mr. CEO of the Year.  And an interesting forensic accounting problem/thought experiment for the rest of us.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Between the Time and the Tides
Monday, December 03, 2012

"She never stopped role playing a friendly looter, and everything she did was scrupulously game-legal. Which made the people who melted down and started screaming 'faggot' even funnier.

One furious player followed her home through a portal, but since a tamer's house is a menagerie of murder, it was like a gritty reboot of a Disney musical number: Every single thing in her house could move, and each one of them wanted to kill him. He ended up hiding in her shed and traded everything, including his character's pants, to be saved. Which is weird, because normally when you take off your pants to pay someone for release it's a lot more fun."
Sunday, December 02, 2012

Another kindred spirit takes a stab -- [WHEEZY RUSTY LAUGHTER] -- at Haddonfield, thirty-odd years on.

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