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Everyone has seen Man Ray's iconic photograph, "Le Violon d'Ingres," which shows a nude woman photographed from the back and ornamented at the waist with F-holes like those of a violin. But few know much about the woman in the picture.

Let's forget hearts and minds for the moment, retail's also a battle for minutes and seconds -- and it's a fight the industry is losing.

The fixes that don't fix things are the scariest of breakdowns.

It wasn't even a week ago that euro-zone finance ministers pledged 100 billion euros, or $125 billion, to bailout Spanish banks. The move calmed the market, for 13 minutes, and then the effort was derided as maybe half of what was needed to backstop the country's banks, which bet big time on real estate.

Price promotions are most often described as a drug -- just its shoppers getting the high and retailers getting the addiction.

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