January 2021

You Just Lost The Game(stop)

This is an excerpt my most recent newsletter which you should go subscribe to right now. It’s free.

Now let me just preface this next bit by clarifying that I don’t have any idea what I’m talking really. I’m not an investor and I don’t understand the stock market beyond generally that it’s there to make rich people richer and fuck over poor people. Now I must admit that my hands aren’t entirely clean in that – I do own 2 full shares of Disney stock that my mother bought for me when I turned 10 and I think they are worth exactly the same today as they were then and I have no idea how to sell them even if I wanted to cash out and buy a coffee, but that’s my disclosure. Maybe some of you are in the same boat. Besides that noteworthy asset my understanding of stocks comes entirely from watching Billions.

That said I have an ace in the hole that most people don’t have access to. My son Ripley, who turns 11 this year, is a math genius. No really, he won some kind of math contest at his school in Tokyo and everyone was really impressed. Ask anyone. So he and I were talking about what’s going on with GameStop (he’s been actively interested in the Bitcoin news) and when I tried to explain sort of what I thought was happening he corrected me and explained it better, so I thought I’d relay that here for all of your benefit.

A: Buying stock: This is basic 101 stuff that probably everyone already knows. If a stock costs $10 and you buy 10 shares for $100, then the stock goes up to $15 dollars and you sell all 10 shares for $150 bucks, you just made $50 bucks. Similarly if the stock goes down to $8 and you sell all 10 shares for $80 then you just lost $20. Easy math here.

B: Shorting stock: This one always confused the fuck out of me but I think I have a handle on it now. If you think a stock is going to go down relatively quickly buying it would be a bad idea due to the reasons we just discussed in (A). BUT! There’s a way to bet against the stock, which is called shorting it. The way that works is this: Let’s say Jack owns stock in a company called Hills Inc and Jill thinks that Hills Inc is about to fall down and break it’s crown, so to speak. So what Jill does is “borrow” shares from Jack when they cost $10, then she waits some agreed upon time for the stock price to drop, buys them back at a lower price and returns them to Jack keeping the profit. So – using the same math as above, if the stock cost $10 when Jill “borrowed” 10 shares from Jack and sold it at that price she then has $100 in hand, and over the next few days it drops to $5, so she buys 10 shares back for $50 and then returns those 10 shares to Jack, keeping the extra $50 profit for herself. Jill successfully shorted the stock.

Now the trick is, that’s assuming it goes the way Jill wants it to. If instead the price climbs, Jill is in trouble. So, if she borrows 10 shares at $10 and sells them for $100, but over the following days the stock price doesn’t drop but instead rises, Jill still has to return 10 shares to Jack. So if the stock price rose to $12, Jill has to spend $120 to buy those same 10 shares, which ends up causing her to lose $20 in the deal.

Basically shorting a stock is a way to make money off a stock you don’t even own by betting against it. That said, in order to short a stock, you have to have some collateral being held incase things don’t go your way. Which is important for this next part.

Keep reading over on my newsletter archives, or better yet subscribe and have these emailed directly to you in the future!

Monthly Mystery Subscription

It’s been about 10 years now since I started dabbling with photography, getting pretty serious about in a year or two in. In that time I’ve had exhibitions in galleries and published a photobook which continues to sell to this day. I’ve also sold prints to a number of people whose support has meant the world to me. Anyone who has been following me for a while knows I’ve also experimented with several different physical “subscriptions” where I pick things (be they stuff or coffee or music) and mail them out on some regular basis to people who have the blind faith to give me money without having a completely concrete idea of what they are getting in return. There’s a bit of mystery and excitement there which I like, creating that anticipation and surprise.

I spent some time towards the end of 2020 revamping my photography website and and while I was doing that I thought it might be fun to play around again. I quietly announced a Monthly Mystery Subscription at the beginning of December and a few people signed up right away. The idea being, for a relatively small fee I’ll send each subscriber a photo (or 3, depending on subscription level) in the mail. These will be miniprints on instant film and part of a very small limited edition, signed and numbered. I’m sending out the first batch of prints this week and wanted to share a little more about it because it was a lot of fun to put together.

This is a little bit of a give away because the point is that people don’t know what they are getting until they open the package, but I’d leaked images of the prints before anyway so I don’t think it’s too much of a surprise blown. Going forward, the secret will be kept much better. Right now I’m doing editions of 10 photos only, that doesn’t mean that only 10 people can subscribe, it means that if 20 people subscribe half of them get one photo and half get another. This keeps the edition low and the value high, I hope. Speaking of that, I’m leaving the introductory pricing live for a few more days as there are a few spots left to fill out that initial 10 people. For the moment 1 print a month costs $10 and 3 prints a month is $25. Free shipping in Canada, $10 extra for anywhere else in the world. This is basically a brake even price because I think this is a fun thing to do, but realistically I’ll need to up those prices pretty soon, probably double. If you want to get in before I do that the discounted price will maintain as long as you keep subscribing. If the surprise isn’t your thing but you like the idea of the prints, I am making a few available individually in my shop.

As always, thanks for the support!