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Comment Re:It's an excellent musem (Score 2) 93

I was surprised when I visited there many years ago that it's located on the famed Wilshire Blvd, near the prestigious Rodeo Drive. Contrary to conventional belief, my theory is that sabre-toothed tigers were attracted there not by prey that was already stuck in the tar, but by luxury handbags.

Comment Beware of speculation (Score 2) 258

Although Amazon is a great business, it's a terrible stock. The reason is that its stock price is sky high. Compare Amazon's key statistics with those of Wal-Mart. Compare the "Valuation Measures" of the two, and you'll see two quite different stories.

Although the two businesses may seem quite different - notably by Wal-Mart being primarily a brick-and-mortar and Amazon being online - I believe there are more similarities than differences: both are retailers that operate on a massive scale, with highly efficient distribution, and sell to customers at the lowest possible price. And of course, Wal-Mart even sells online, with delivery to home or pickup at the nearest store.

Investors are taking on faith that Amazon's growth in revenue will eventually turn into growth in profits. The author of the linked article seems to believe it, and suggests that those of us who are skeptical just don't get it. However, he admits in the article:

Part of this problem comes from the limited visibility into the dynamics of its business finances. Why doesn't Amazon break out more detail in its financial reporting to help the external world understand all these intricacies? How many subscribers to Amazon Prime, how many Kindles have sold, what's the net income from different lines of business, how much of its asset base investment is for fulfillment centers versus technology infrastructure for AWS?

There may be solid business reasons why Amazon doesn't provide that, but from an investment point of view, a stock with a high valuation whose financials can't be fully understood is the very model of "speculation", as defined by Benjamin Graham, the dean of value investors. Those who invest in Amazon may eventually be rewarded, but the stock market has legions of less-speculative investment opportunities that offer a far better risk/reward ratio. There's no reason for any "intelligent investor" to be involved.

[Disclosure: I have no position in either Amazon or Wal-Mart]

Comment Extreme weather conditions (Score 1) 722

I wonder how these things do under extreme weather conditions, such as ice and snow? Do they still do better than humans?

Years ago, I suddenly hit a patch of black ice and I instinctively steered the wrong way, which only made it worse. I ended up doing a 180 and going over a curb. There wasn't much damage to me or the car, but I was very lucky - a large industrial truck was only about 10 seconds away.

In principle, steering wrong on ice is the sort of mistake that a well-programmed computer wouldn't make. I assume they're trying to account for all situations, but I've never actually seen any coverage about that.

Comment Re:Canon. (Score 1) 381

I had an Epson a few years ago that cost about as much as two of its cartridges. It refused to print in black when one of the color cartridges ran out. There's simply no excuse for that. Although I liked Epson in the old dot-matrix days, that's when I decided never to buy anything Epson ever again.

Comment Oh, Brother! - another ink scam (Score 1) 381

After becoming disgusted with the price of inkjet cartridges, I bought a brother MFC-9320CW, which is a very capable multi-function color laser printer. The current cost is about $800 which seems moderate for all it can do. However, I found that I immediately had to buy $150 of replacement cartridges for it because it comes with "teaser" cartridges that don't only work for a ridiculously short time. And the replacement cartridges didn't last long either.

I wasn't happy about that, but I soon discovered that the cartridges have a "flag gear" on them that the printer uses to prevent you from using all the ink in the cartridge - it simply refuses to print. But you can reset the flag gear about three times before the cartridge is truly empty. (Search for "TN-210" on YouTube to see a video about resetting the flag gears - it only takes a couple of minutes once you get good at it.)

The teaser cartridges don't come with flag gears, but those can be bought separately for about $3 per cartridge. You can also buy a cartridge refill kit for about $30 that will refill two blacks and one each of the three colors. This is a bit of trouble (and mess), but it does work. (I never had any luck refilling inkjet cartridges.)

The printer is such a tank that I suspect that Brother loses money on the printer itself. So, if you like to beat the system and don't mind a little trouble (and mess), the method here would be:
- buy the printer at the typical loss-leader price
- buy flag gears for the teaser cartridges and learn how to install/reset them via YouTube
- buy refill kits to refill the teaser cartridges and keep refilling them as shown on YouTube

Alternatively, you could by third-party used cartridges. Resetting the flag gear still would be an essential skill, though.

Comment The Time Bandits test (Score 2) 401

From Time Bandits:

Kevin: Yes, why does there have to be evil?
Supreme Being: I think it has something to do with free will.

Yet the questions in the article didn't seem to cover the subject of "evil". Can a phone with supposed free will do evil, or is it just infected with a bug or virus? Here's Jessica Rabbit's take:

I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way.

Like many cartoon characters, Jessica evidently is sentient, yet she lacks free will. Silly wabbit.

Comment Re:What purpose does HFT serve? (Score 1) 321

Like all forms of mechanical trading, it serves the useful purpose of distracting folks from Value Investing. Since Value Investing wouldn't work if all investors practiced it faithfully, all such distractions are a good thing for us Value Investors. I'm all in favor of it.

It's notable that none of the world's most successful investors use this trading technique or any other. See Warren Buffet's classic article The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville for details.

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