The wizard was pecking away at his keyboard when I walked in with your email. I believe he heard me come into the room but he didn’t look up because the wizard has to look at the keys when he types.
When I read him your subject line, “I’ve been thinking… dangerous pastime, don’t you think?” he kept staring at the keyboard and typing while he answered me.
“A dangerous pastime, indeed, Indy. What dangerous thoughts have you been thinking today?”
I cleared my throat and said, “Dear Indy,” so he would realize I was reading an email.
“If this was written to you, then why are you reading it to me?”
Instead of answering him, I just read him your opening line about the super bands of the late sixties and seventies and he said, “I never really thought about that, but the writer is obviously right. Who sent this to you?”
“Hugh Benham,” I answered.
“Then this will be a Pendulum question.” He nodded his head as he spoke, still without looking up.
Hugh, I read your question to the wizard, “How does Sears-Roebuck differ from Amazon? Same premise, no?”
That’s when he stopped typing. “I’ve always liked Hugh Benham,” he said. “Make yourself comfortable, Indy.”
I hopped onto the chair where Princess Pennie usually sits and laid my chin down on my paws. The wizard said, “Richard Sears was circling the drain in 1896 when Julius Rosenwald stepped in and saved him from his inability to fulfill orders fast enough. But Jeff Bezos has the abilities of both of those men, so…”
“What do you mean?” I interrupted, “The abilities of both of those men?”
“Sears was a visionary who used the railroad as his internet, but Rosenwald was a king of operational excellence who knew how to spool up processing and delivery so that customers never got frustrated. Bezos has the abilities of both Richard Sears and Julius Rosenwald.”
“Thank you,” I said.
Then the wizard took off in a direction I didn’t anticipate. “When I say Richard Sears used the railroad as his internet, it’s also true that the railroad became the internet.”
I raised an eyebrow to let the wizard know I was intrigued.
“When the fiber-optic lines that form the backbone of the internet were being laid down, the quickest way to get permission to bury these cables was to lay them in the rights-of-way owned by the railroads. Badda-bing, badda-bang, badda-boom, nationwide internet. As an example, The Southern Pacific Railroad took advantage of their pre-existing infrastructure to form Sprint, which is an acronym for Southern Pacific Internal Network and Telephone, later branded as Southern Pacific Telecommunications, then rebranded as Qwest in 2000 and acquired by CenturyLink in 2010, at which time…”
Hugh, I don’t know how long I was asleep but when I woke up, the wizard was circling the airport for a landing.
“…so please let Hugh Benham know that while I definitely agree with his assessment, I remain a little bit worried that Amazon is going to slip into the same frame-of-reference that caused Sears to fall behind the times. But then again, Sears-Roebuck was a huge force in America for 100 years, so we can’t really say they were a failure. Now I really must get back to my writing, Indy.”
So I hopped off the chair and went outside to pee.
Toilets were not designed with dogs in mind.