Monday, December 31, 2007

A Question of Direction

GOOG 2007: 691.48 Down 11.05

GOOG ended the day, and the year, precisely at 691.48, let it be so noted. It happened just that way, and the fact of the matter will not be disputed in these columns.

I watched the last 30 minutes of it, myself, and can testify that the official reports are true in every respect. For a while, I thought that we might end at 700 or better, but it was not to be. Toward the end, sellers who had been holding back, let go, with the result that 691.48 was achieved at the close.

Which is to say, precisely 15.84 points above where I sold 51 shares of GOOG, here recently. Of course, I'm sorry that the paper value of my remaining long position has temporarily been reduced.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Archive Moon

A while back, I wondered how long Google would keep people's stuff around. Somebody responded that Google would keep everybody's stuff until they died.

I thought about that. Google doesn't even know who I am. How are they going to know when I'm dead? Besides, that's not even a good idea. If we backtest it, we find that Google would have deleted The Trial and Metamorphosis when Kafka died. If Max Brod had done that, we wouldn't have had to study Kafka in school. But you get my point.

Google needs a better rule than that. Here's one: never delete anything. If you try to delete stuff based on page ranks or actual access, you might throw away something really great.

If you run out of space in Trenton, or the rest of the world, archive stuff to the moon.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Underestimation of GOOG

GOOG is underestimated by investors and traders.

It's underestimated because:
  • People don't understand GOOG's business.
  • People don't understand GOOG's intentions.
  • People don't understand GOOG's exellent ability.
  • People don't understand GOOG's inexorability.
  • People don't understand GOOG's price.

All this puts a little brake on GOOG's upward moving. It keeps GOOG from going too far too fast. It gives the rest of us guys a chance to get in for the ride.

Early this year, I began hearing people say that GOOG was seriously undervalued - Cramer, Noah Bernstein, Cody. At the end of April, I took a look and GOOG was going for 478 - the same level it had first achieved in January of 2006! I had owned 50 shares of GOOG since late 2004, but I was asleep at the switch. I fumbled around and, finally, the light bulb came on. I bought a ton of GOOG at 480. Right after that, it took off.

Because I could not stop for GOOG,
He kindly stopped for me....

Sunday, December 23, 2007

As It Is On Earth

The Egyptians, I believe, were responsible for the idea that civilization should model its earthly constructions after what could be seen in the sky - a notion they expressed in pyramids and that we have codified as "... on earth, as it is in heaven."

If we apply the concept, in reverse, to the Internet, then we can see how little has been accomplished, to date. If the Internet is to become the medium for all life and commerce, we must create it as a model of all the human institutions that have been established over the last few millenia. Whereas, now, social portals define roles as mere handles for buckets of arbitrary functions, the Internet To Be will have to define roles for all the positions and relationships that exist in the real world - doctors, lawyers and bottle washers. There will be a POTUS role that can only be granted by national election. Similarly, dogcatchers will have their functions spelled out, along with rules for accession to the role. This will be a task, not for computer scientists, but for social taxonomists. On the Internet, as it is on Earth will be their mantra.

Checking Stocks in Hato Rey

Back in the seventies, when I was not so young, but still stupid, I did some time in Puerto Rico. I worked there with a guy named Pitts, who had been stationed previously in Nepal. I remember, when Pitts got off the plane from Katmandu, I had to hold him down at the sight of so many women with so little on. I, on the other hand, a veteran of a year with such scenery, was more interested in checking my stocks every day. Mild-mannered types we were, but, on one occasion, I managed to become a party to a local dispute, in which I was cast as the Ugly American, with Pitts as my hapless sidekick.

We worked in downtown San Juan, near Fernandez-Juncos, but the local Merrill Lynch office was all the way out in Hato Rey, in a square-looking, six-story building with an attached five-level garage. There was a drive-through between the building and the garage that led to the garage entrance.

The modus of our operandi was to find a place to park in the garage and then go across to the Merrill Lynch office to watch the electronic tape or ask the clerk for quotations on our stocks. Back then, I owned things like Tri-State Motors and DPF&G, which was a company that leased mainframe computers to other companies in the hope of making a profit. It never did. I don't remember what Pitts owned. He was trying to parlay the extra pay he got for working overseas into instant wealth. Pitts wanted to be a millionaire.

Back then, we had a couple of government-gray GSA automobiles at our disposal, but we usually drove to the Merrill Lynch office in Pitt's car that he had shipped in from Katmandu. It was a fading yellow Mercedes Benz that he had paid $1100 for, used. We could never get lost in this car because the black smoke from the exhaust could be seen all over the island.

On this particular day, the Mercedes Benz had broken down about ten miles south of San Juan, on the road to Ponce. Pitts tried to hire somebody to tow the car to a Mercedes Benz dealer in Bayamon, but nobody wanted the job. He was desperate about it for a while, but eventually desperation gave way to sentimentality. In one of the GSA cars, I would take him out occasionally to visit the car. Every time we went there, there was a little less to see. First, the hubcaps disappeared, then the fenders and doors. After six months, nothing remained except an oil spot on the side of the road.

So, on this particular day, we had to take a GSA car to Hato Rey to check our stocks. We were a little late getting out there because Pitts wanted lechon for lunch and the bar-rest. we went to was crowded. By the time we got to Hato Rey, it was after one.

Pitts was afraid that the garage would be full when we got there, but I could see empty spaces on the top level. We drove through, but at the entrance to the garage, a chain had been put up to block entry.

We stopped in front of the chain, pondering what to do. Pitts noticed a Puerto Rican man leaning up against the side of the garage entrance. I beckoned the man to come over and I explained to him, in the best Spanish I could muster, that we parked in the garage every day. He replied that the garage was full. I said that, undoubtedly, it had been full at one point, but cars had left, and now there were several empty spaces that were plainly visible from the street. He said again that the garage was full.

I continued to reason with the man, but all he ever said was that the garage was full. I pointed to the government lettering on our car door, but he was not impressed. At some point, the tenor of the conversation turned toward invective and I began speaking in English, as I didn't know the Spanish equivalents of some of the words that I wanted to use. When I suggested that I would let the chain down myself, the man began shaking his finger at me, saying, "No! No!"

By that time, several cars had pulled in behind us. Pitts, who was beginning to look uncomfortable, suggested that we forget about checking our stocks today. But I was seized with moral dudgeon. I decided that an example should be made of the man. I told Pitts to wait in the car while I went to find the manager of the place. I took the keys with me, in case Pitts' courage deserted him.

I sauntered into the building and went in the first office I saw. After a little friendly banter, I asked the person there for the name of the building manager. She didn't know. Then I went up to the Merrill Lynch office and checked all our stocks. All in all, It took me about twenty minutes. Then I went back down the elevator, stopping at every floor.

Even before I got back outside, I could hear the horns blowing. I could see through a window that the line of cars stretched out of the drive-through and into the main thoroughfare of Hato Rey.

When I arrived back at the car, the horn blowing increased. A small group of pedestrians had gathered to watch. The Puerto Rican chain attendant was standing in front of the car, holding firmly to the chain with both hands.

I got into the car and said to Pitts, "How's it going?" Pitts gave me a look. He said that one of the pedestrians had come up to him and said, "Yanqui, go home!" He said again that we should forget about checking our stocks. I told him not to worry - I had checked everything.

There was nothing left to do, but get out of there. As I turned the car toward the exit, a great shout went up from the cars and the crowd. I looked in my rear-view mirror on the way out and saw the Puerto Rican man, pulling down the chain and waving all the cars into the garage. The pedestrians were waving their fists in the air and cheering.

After that, word began to circulate in the barrios that there had been a popular uprising in Hato Rey, in which the people had emerged victorious over the wicked government. It became known, far and wide, as El Grito de Hato Rey.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Aw, Mama - can this really be the end?

The Daily GOOG: up 7 to 696.69.

Numbers to conjure with. But tepid. What am I worried about? GOOG is following my playbook, here. Clearly, it's running on fumes, while everything else is going from 0 to 200 in nothing flat. A little dive into the icy waters would be bracing between Christmas and New Year's. Then I can get back on the right side of the field and shut up. I mean, last night, I woke up in a sweat from a nightmare. I dreamed I was related to ACCENTAM in a previous life.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I'm On My Way

In my blog, only public service ads appear, because Google is punishing me for using the word, "Google" in my blog title. That's OK, but I wanted to see how the process worked, so I set up another blog, without "Google" in the title, and signed up with AdSense.

By all accounts, there have been no visitors to this new, entrepreneurial blog of mine. And yet, my wife has informed me that, last month, 49 cents was deposited in our checking account from Google, Inc.

I have no idea what this payment is for. Google pays by the click and by the number of impressions. But they don't say how much they pay. They do say that they won't send you any payments at all until you have a balance of $100 or more.

So, I'm puzzled about this 49 cents. But I'm not sentimental about it - you won't find me framing it on my wall. No siree. As soon as I think of something it will buy, I'm going to spend it.

Google Ex Machina

People don't appreciate the extent to which Google is a machine.

The human beings, at Google, are there to build the machine. The machine is there to run the company. Because of this, progress at Google is deterministic and predictable. It's mechanical.

Larry and Sergey are needed to feed the machine. The machine eats the effluence of deals. And grows in scale. Eyeballs in, greenbacks out.

I'm sure that Larry and Sergey know, to a gnat's bristle, what the earnings are going to be in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Eventually, the machine will be built and the people will no longer be needed. Even Larry and Sergey, in time, will be dismissed. The machine will be smart enough then to make its own deals.

The View From Here

So the U.S. OKs DoubleClick. Sounds good, but don't forget Europe is still pondering the matter, and they like to be tougher than the FTC.

Yeah, but Europe is tough like the guy who throws a few extra rabbit punches in, after you're on the floor. If the U.S. had found problems, Europe would have found a few more. But, with the FTC extending the glad hand, Europe will likely do no more than grump and snort.

So, it comes down to execution. But don't worry - Larry and Sergey are in the sweet spot. They have been anointed. They can't miss.

GOOG Fine, Me Boring

GOOG: up 12.32 today, on news that the FTC has approved the DoubleClick acquisition.

I'm tired of hearing myself blog about selling GOOG and holding cash. I should be happy now that GOOG has cleared an important hurdle on its way to world domination. Instead I'm fretting about missing out on 51 shares worth of the fun. I did this whole dreary scene before. I should have learned my lesson. The culpa is all mea.

The only guy more bummed than me is Adam Oliensis, who wrote on TSC today, with charts and algebra, about an intricate calendar spread put he was laying out to catch RIMM when it fell off its hundred dollar perch, after reporting earnings, this evening. RIMM to Oliensis: Drop Dead. But his chagrin is no consolation to me.

Cramer recommends trading around core positions. He says, schnitzeling a little off the top, gives you something to feel good about, regardless of what happens. I say, it gives you something to feel bad about, either way. Maybe Cramer needs to feel good about something. I need to not feel bad about anything. Oink.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lazy Day Replay

GOOG yesterday: 673.35
GOOG today : 677.37

See "GOOG Boring", 12/14/2007.

You see, when I do something, I expect an immediate response. When I sell a stock that I intend to buy back at a lower price, I expect a swift decline to my target level, so as not to draw out the transaction unduly. It's the oinker in me.

GOOG, accustomed to messiness in the marketplace, is showing signs of going the other way, first. Note that I say "first". I fully expect GOOG, by and by, after it's knocked up against 700 a couple more times, to fulfill its technical destiny by checking the lower 600's again. It's the realist in me. The hopeful realist.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I did it again. After reading a long article by Doug Kass, I decided that I didn't have enough cash, so I sold 51 shares of GOOG a few minutes ago. For 675.63.

This is the same lot of shares (plus three) that I sold a while back for 650 and then bought back for 628.50.

Right now, the Dow is down 131 and the S&P 500 is down 16, but there is no panic. Griffeth and Herera are talking about how everybody is buying toys for Christmas. With their houses.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fiscal Report

Since I made the grievous error, on September 17, of selling everything (except GOOG) for cash, right before the Fed lit a 50 point fire under the market, it has been easy to assume, what with the rallying going on, that I have been falling further and further behind where my coffers would be if, instead, I had gone on a long bus ride.

Today, however, I did the math and learned that I am $165.86 ahead of where I would have been, if inaction had continued to be my investment strategy. Actually, I am better off because my cash has been increasing in value at a slowly diminishing, but still positive, rate of interest.

Accordingly, I am going to stop beating myself up about this, and will instead turn my thoughts to tidings of comfort and joy, in keeping with the season. Charity begins with a clean balance sheet.

The Internet is an idiot savant. We'll probably never teach it how to talk. We have to learn how to talk to it. Right now, we say unconnected words and phrases, and it brings us everything about that. Out of this will come a set of simple verbs and adjectives, some we've never thought of before. And that will be it, most likely. But it will be all we need.

We will say, "It's Sunday." And it will say, "Amen."

Friday, December 14, 2007

GOOG Boring

GOOG: 689.96

GOOG was just lying out in the noonday sun, today. Gone south for the winter. Mailing it in. Don't write home about it, OK?

The first time it came through here, down from 747, it didn't waste any time trying to figure out if it was going to be 691.83 or 691.84. No time to say hello, good-bye. It didn't feel good, but it took your breath away. That big whooshing sound. All the mo-mo boys out the window. So long, 747. Hello, zero. At least, that's what it felt like.

But this time. I don't know. Thrill me or kill me, but don't just sit there.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Beyond GOOG and Evil

See no evil,
Hear no evil,
Speak no evil

Note, in this familiar saying, there is no "Do no evil." It took the Google brothers to think that one up. And it's made them look like monkeys, ever since.

Forget holding China to the Boy Scout Code, here's where the motto comes in.

Larry and Sergey don't care about money. All they want to do is build the 'net that everybody really needs. That 'net will be a palpable, all-encompassing presence, and supremely intelligent about everything. The 'net we have now doesn't achieve the intelligence of a chicken.

The 'net we need cannot be created by a normal corporation, because normal, profit-seeking corporations exist for the love of money and that's the root of all evil. The only reason Sergey and Larry need the money is to build the 'net. They are the right people for the job. By virtue of their vision, they have pulled Excalibur from the stone. It's their manifest destiny.

Soon, as evidence of its divine right, Google will become a natural monopoly. It will float free of all competition. This is actually a prerequisite for taking the next step because there can only be one 'net. In the service of its mission, Google will become a singularity in world history. And it will do no evil. Because it can't.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Gentlemen Programmers

I have not been a fan of Open Source. It smacks of Gentlemen Programmers, creating great software for free. I don't buy that.

On the other hand, commercial competition - writing software for money - has gotten us where we are today: tons of stupefyingly redundant software, as the same functions are built by different concerns, requiring other software to emulate their actions so everything seems to be a single interface. Every office needs its own Directory and data repository.

Blumen's Law states: We Only Need One of Everything.

But to get to this stage, we have to solve the problem of funding. Amazingly, Google has solved the problem of funding: everything is free because it pays for itself. Google promises to build the 'net by popular debate and referendum, and pay for everything out of its ample coffers.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tell me where it hurts, and I'll tell you who to call

Here's something to think about.

Right now, the Internet is like, there's not just one airport in each town to fly out of, but every airline has its own airports, so when you want to fly somewhere, you have to find out what airlines are going there, so you'll know which airport to go to. And the airports are all laid out differently, so you never know where the restrooms are.

I got started thinking about this tonight, because I wanted to write something about this Yahoo! GOOG Message Board thing. And then I thought, it's not just the Yahoo! Board. Every big portal must have a message board place and there ought to be a GOOG message board in every one of them. My only experience has been with the Yahoo! GOOG Message Board. Clearly, my experience needed broadening.

I decided to seek out the Google GOOG Message Board. That's where I ought to be, anyway - the sheer inappropriateness of having to go to Yahoo! to find a GOOG message board has always been a source of constant irritation to me.

I went to and looked for message boards. They weren't listed as a category. So I figured it would either be under Finance or Groups. I looked in both places, but there was no message board section in either one. Finally, I googled: "GOOG Message Board". I got no hits. I gave up.

I have a feeling that there really is a Google GOOG Message Board, but Google can't find it.

It's not a big thing. Just something that Larry and Sergey can think about when they're kicking back in their hot tub.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

With or Without Sunday

It's Sunday, again.

Someday, when Google is more firmly entrenched in world action, we will have more options with respect to the calendar. Why should we have a Sunday every week? One every couple of months would do me. In GoogleWorld, you will be able to organize the calendar to suit yourself. If you want a month of Sundays, to increase your piety, then you will have it, while the heathen will be able to abolish Sunday from their reckonings altogether. This will introduce a new variable into human affairs - time allocation. If you want every day to be Sunday, you will have to attend churches that are also having Sunday, at that time, unless you want to sit by yourself for a few hours of meditation. If this seems awkward to you, don't worry - GoogleWorld will sort everything out and the preachers who have Sunday every day will make more money than those who adhere to the old ways.

Until then, it is Sunday, whether I feel pious or not, and so, lacking inspiration, I tuned into The Prairie Home Companion this morning for a dose of Lutheranism. I am perversely attracted to Lutheranism. Modern religions, in which every thing is allowed, are not interesting to me. In those systems, transgression becomes an empty concept. Lutheranism gives transgression a bad name, and that makes it interesting.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I have been released

The words every prospective juror wants to hear, coming over my phone tonight, just after seven. My services are no longer required. Yippee.

In retrospect, it wasn't all that bad. One day of unrelenting boredom is not without its benefits. Under those circumstances, meditation becomes compulsory. While the statutory drama unfolds in the roundabout, you are left alone with your thoughts. When that fails, you become engrossed with the hair on the head, directly in front of you. Then you start counting the heads in the courtroom, including those of the judge, the lawyers and everybody else. Then you start thinking about all the things that you can do with the thirty dollars you're going to get. Then you get an uncontrollable urge to stand up, right then, and say, "Penguin dust!" to the prosecuting attorney. Then your thoughts become disordered and you become convinced that you have early onset Alzheimer's, except that you can't remember the name. Then you really get shook. Then, finally, you remember GOOG, and a feeling of joy and peace comes over you, in keeping with the season. Slowly, the profit motive returns, along with other vital signs, and you start thinking about how many jury days it would take to buy another 100 shares of GOOG....

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

There must be some way out of here

Jury duty is bumming me out. I spent ten hours at the County Courthouse, yesterday. I came away feeling sorry for the judge, the lawyers, the bailiffs and everybody else who has to do that for a living.

I was empaneled, along with 55 other people, to be voir dired for a case. I first learned the term, voir dire, from Lenny Bruce, when, in 1965, he testified in his own behalf in a famous concert at Berkeley. So, I would have thought that 55 was a lot of people to voir dire 12 peers of the realm, and I guess the lawyers thought so, too, because they stopped questioning individuals right before they got to me. So I didn't get to tell them who, in my immediate family, had ever been arrested.

Around 6:00 PM, I was rejected and released, with the Judge's personal instruction to call on Tuesday evening to see about doing it all again on Wednesday. He didn't look any happier about it than I did.

When I got home, I looked up GOOG on Yahoo! and saw that it was down 11. I didn't want to know that. At that point, I was too tired to see what my cash had done, so I ate something and went to bed.

Today, was a normal day. I went to work, and was able to check on GOOG, from time to time, to see what it was doing. It wasn't doing much. Since it gave back the 700 marker a couple of weeks ago, all the helium has gone out of the stock. A dive, all the way to 616, was required to rout the buggers, but they're all gone now, and GOOG has settled down for a long winter's nap.

A little while ago, I called to see about Wednesday and was let off. However, the recorded message made it clear that all we prospective peers would remain at risk of selection until further notice, or Saturday, whichever came first.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

American Justice

It's Sunday and I'm contemplating jury duty, tomorrow. I've never sued anybody and nobody has ever sued me. I've never been arrested. I've been lucky.

So, my only contact with American justice has been as a prospective juror. I've been called a couple of times before, and have served once. My observation is that the process was slow and boring, but the System, generally, worked. I know that it doesn't work for everybody, all the time, but the amazing thing is that it works even some of the time.

I'll be behind the moon for awhile, unable to check on GOOG's progress, but I am confident that the mostly hopeful herd on the Google message board will continue to levitate the stock with their thoughts alone.

I'll be taking a couple of books with me:

"Indian Summer" by Alex von Tunzlemann, about the time in 1947 when Britain quit India, under the guidance of Lord Mountbatten. Von Tunzlemann is a young woman historian with a wicked sense of humor. For starters, she explains that Mountbatten was known as Dickie to his friends, but as Lord Mountbatten to absolutely everybody else. Then she calls him Dickie for the rest of the book. A good read, so far.

And then: "The Google Story". I am determined to improve myself by reading it.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

GOOG Watch, or What Now, Baby Blue?

I commanded it to rise.
It didn't rise.
I complimented the lightness of its being.
It didn't hear.

And yet it hangs, way up
In the middle of the air, like a dancing sun
Drawing crazy patterns on my charts.

How do you like your blueeyed boy now
Mr. Jim?