Monday, September 26, 2011

Scheisshaus Market Analyst

With the current economic fiasco slowly unfolding around the world, what is needed is the perspective and understanding to hepl the uninitiated cut through all of the fog and misinformation surrounding the news with which we are inundated on a daily basis.  So this post is to offer just that - the quick and dirty truth to what is going on.

The First Rule to remember is this:  The daily ups and downs of "the market" have absolutely nothing to do with he economic health of the country or the world.  The stock markets or commodities markets are merely a vast money making machine used to "score" monies from the many (us) to the few (insiders) - period.  It has absolutely nothing to do with raising capital or any other honorable endeavour. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying or stupid or more likely both. This concept was more eloquently stated by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in this interview.   I know little of Mr. Cuban, but when a man is right, he's right.  I have know and understood this for some time, so it isn't an idea I stole from him.  It is only the fusillade of "business news" which overwhelms us every day which keep our common sense at bay and tries to keep us in the game.  Just think of the excitement around a "hot" craps table, which only serves to keep the other players putting down their chips to understand this media and Wall Street driven set up.

The Second Rule (or maybe corollary to the first) is this:   Once Upon A Time, businesses were run by people who cared about their long-term success, the first rule did not apply.  Stock prices (and thus the markets) were driven by a clear understanding of long term stable growth. Great investors got wealthy by picking, buying, and holding good, sound stocks and holding them long term. Stock prices were based on that expectation - not on whether they could be "flipped" in a day - or minute - for a quick profit.  As a result, the aggregate stock prices, reflected as "the market" was a relatively accurate reflection of the health of the business and industrial base - and the economy at large.  No Longer.

The Third Rule is:  Since the markets are now truly disconnected from the economy at large, they are able to assume any value. These values have no relationship to reality at all. As a result, over a period of years they have assumed astronomical values, as every trader was constantly on the prowl for someone to whom he could "flip" a stock for a quick turn.  Like a mad bidding war at an auction, the items were selling for many many times more than they were worth.  Now we find ourselves in a situation where we have a worldwide work of fiction in place of sound economies.  This is why the markets, and the economic news lurches from one crisis to another - because there is no truth to any of it, it is subject to the least rumour or hint or tease of information.

The Fourth Rule is:  Until the fiction of the current stock and investment market are replaced by sound economic forces, policies, and information, nothing else will matter.  That means that all of the crap you read about "euro-zone bailouts" or stimulus, or bull markets, or "opportunities" is just that - crap, feces, poop, choose your personal favorite fecal slang.  That is because until then, capital is just "chasing the flip" for lack of a better term.  And the misallocation of capital is the prime issue behind the funk we are in and until that is fixed, nothing else matters.  Think of this as a deathly sick hospital patient, whose treatment options are all but gone.  All that can be done is to "make them comfortable" and hope against hope that they will recover.  That's where we are now, in a worldwide, government-driven quest to "make us comfortable".  That's because that's all there is for them to do.  When the markets slow down and the prices and volumes stabilize, then and only then can any economic health begin to take hold.

Well, there you have it.  The First Four concepts in my version of Real Econ 101.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

New Series!!!

The whole point of a blog (or any writing really) is to say something that the writer feels needs to be said.  This blog started of with a focus on the liturgy and the Church.  Both good and important subjects - but there are other things that in fact, the author feels need to be said.  In the past I have rambled on about various subjects not Church related, but now I intend to focus more on some things and in a more organized and systematic fashion.  So allow me to introduce:  

The Scheisshaus Series!

A series of essays and observations on human nature, civilization, society, and life in todays world.
The name is a adaptation in German of "S**thouse Philosopher" a term of derision my father used to use years ago to describe an individual who holds forth on a subject about which he may or may not technically have any knowledge but desperately wants to be perceived as having such.  In my case, I have NO pretense about my expertise or qualifications and am in no way trying to come across as such.  I am just a man who observes things, thinks about them and then sometimes, comes up with something that simply needs to be said.

So stay tuned to these pages over the next few weeks.  Because this has been building up in my head for a while now, but the time wasn't there to hammer it all out.  But now I have been moved to start, and there is a backlog of "mental essays" that need to make it out onto the ether.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's All Just a Matter of Trust

Amid all the blathering on in the press and the political world about the ongoing budget / Debt Limit battle, the essence of the problem at hand is (predicably) overlooked completely.

Ther real problem has nothing to do with taxes, spending cuts, entitlements, etc. Those could all be dealt with with little problem. All it takes is the motivation to do so. The problem is that those in charge on both sides of the aisle have over the past generation condcuted an all out campaign to discount and demonize the other. And by all out, I mean ALL-OUT. The mantra has been "there is no terrible way to win, there is only - winning"* No lie or distortion was seen as to much. Nixon, with all his dirty tricks, was little league - or a T-Ball league - by comparison to the deceitful, lying pack of coyotes that run things in D.C. now.

BUT... Time moves on, and sooner or later the game is up. Or rather NOW the game is up. NOW we need leadership, NOW we need men who, in spite of their differences, can trust each other to make a deal work. But those men (and women) are long gone. The Honor that the old ones carried is gone - for good - and the newcomers, some of whom still have Honor, are kept as far away from any real power as possible. So, the leadership, being small, deceitful, selfish men, the current batch of selfish idiots lack the abuility to fix themselves and the situation.


So like the mutinous crew on a ship of old, they threw the Captain overboard so that they could enjoy the power. But now they have discovered that the Captain was the only one who could navigate, and they are lost at see. The bright young scrawny kid swabbing the deck has some idea how to navigate, and could save them, but to put him in charge would make them all seem like the weak, bombastic, selfish fools that they are. Better, think they, to remain lost and die at sea with your ego intact, deep in denial, than to have accept your own miserable failure.

God Help Us All...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Oldie But Goodie...

Several Years Ago, I became dismayed by the almost pathological fixation that the traditionalist community had with the externals of the Mass. I wrote a post about it, Clowns to the Left of Me, Kooks to the Right wherein I vented my spleen on such pettiness and the perpetrators thereof.

Of course, over the years, little has changed in that regard, at least on the part of the "old hands". Interestingly enough, the newbies, those who only recently (often post Summorum Pontificum) began to experience the Extraordinary Form don't seem nearly as obsessive about vestments, or who the music arrangement was by, etc. They are more than happy to appreciate the holiness and beauty just as it is - to take it as it comes and thank God for it.

That is a GOOD thing. Yes, the externals matter - look at a gothic cathedral - but they are only useful to expand on the beauty of the truth of The Mass. When the externals become THE important part, you have lost the meaning - period.

This all comes to mind because of the comments on a post by The Great Father Z. wherein he asked about the presence or absence of music in a Low Mass. In my opinion, it has no place at all, but I accept that other opinions vary, and I respect that. What galls is the implication by so many that a Mass without Music is somehow lacking.


If anyone thinks that is somehow inadequate because there is no singing, then maybe they have an understanding of the Church, and of Catholicism, that needs serious help.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Recent economic news about the problem brewing of a "Lost Generation" prompts me to write on a subject which I have been contemplating for some time now - or is at least closely related thereto. The problem, as described in some detail here and here, that the older generation of workers in this country isn't going anywhere - thus "plugging the system" and not leaving any job openings for the youngest (entry level) generation.

It is time to examine the whole concept of retirement - or at least the modern version. It is obviously understandable that as we age, our abilities change, especially in more physical endeavors. Yet that would seem to lead on toward changing jobs over a lifetime - not quitting entirely. But what has developed in the US (at least) is the idea that, in the middle of a productive life, one should just give up and enjoy 100% leisure for the remaining part of your life. Worse yet, given modern life spans and pension plans, that may amount to 25% or more of a productive life. This leads to things like the "30 and out" process I see among some colleagues, wherein, having finished college at - say - age 22, they put in their 30 years and at the ripe old age of 52 years old, retire and spend the next 30-plus years doing nothing other than "killing time" and playing.

Any objective reading of the situation has to show the insanity and absurdity of such an arrangement. First, in many fields, the 50-some years old are the best, most educated, valuable part of a work force. To take a 55 year old engineer, or manager, or teacher, etc. and put them "out to pasture" is to discard 15 years of their most knowledgable, productive time. To be replaced by a 20-something "greenhorn" who will need years of learning to be as productive as the old-timer they replaced.

Economically speaking, a society - or civilization - cannot succeed where one fourth of the productive value of each (or most) member is simply discarded. It unsustainable - period. THe only reason is has worked out this way for the past two generations is that they have been the beneficiaries of the unbelievable economic growth and thrift which was produced by their ancestors in the past 100 years. They are the ones who have been standing on the shoulders of giants. But as the markets tank and the economy stagnates that model simply no longer works. This system will have to be discarded - sooner rather than later. And when, here in the United States, millions of "baby boomers" are facing the reality that they may actually have to work years longer than they thought, sooner may actually be now.

The tantalizing side story is centered around the fact that the "boomers" are completely oblivious to the fact that they ARE "standing on the shoulders of giants". They think THEY did it all! And more than anything, that reality, which they by-and-large refuse to face is about to be thrust upon them - aggressively - by the generation under 40 who are about to refuse to "pay the freight" for their insanely wealthy parent's generation. I may be wrong - and I hope that I am - but this is going to get ugly.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Town Where I Work

Yesterday, I was broke - dead flat broke. Yes I had a bit of money in the bank, but none to spare, and certainly no cash to spare. But it was Tuesday, the day of my bi-weekly trip with my boss to get spaghetti at the eatery a few hundred feet up the street. My lack of cash for the $5.25 lunch special of salad, spaghetti, and garlic bread, combined with the availability of some two-day-old leftovers prompted me to beg off and eat in my office. I never mentioned my impecunious state to my boss, or he would have insisted on buying my lunch, and I'd look like a beggar - something that I did not want.

So I ate my lunch - happily. But then, around 2:00, I got the need for a cold drink and caffeine dose, so I scraped around in my car, desk, and pockets, and came up with the princely sum of $1.38. Not quite enough for the big iced tea I wanted ($1.50 including tax) but I decided to go up the street (to the same eatery) and see if thay let me owe them the 12 cents.

Now this place is small, old, unpretentious as they come, and has a general air of happy-to-get-by comfort. Hard-working waitresses and cooks, healthy portions of good food. So, I went in, and immediately they got my tea. I met the waitress at the register, and sheepishly handed over my four quarters, two dimes, two nickels and eight pennies, explaining that it was all I had. She waved me off thoughtlessly as if to say "don't even worry about that". Then she inqured as to my absence from the "ritual" spaghetti lunch and I explained that I was broke.

At that point she became upset, as did the other waitress who overheard the conversation, and said "Don't you EVER skip a meal here because of that!! We know you are good for it and know you'll pay us when you can." The manager heard the conversation and affirmed the statement.

I love the town where I work. It is basic, blue-collar, honest, and true. It's funny how hard working honest people without a lot of money are wiling to help out when needed. That's the way I was taught to be. I am saddened by the fact that the world is corrupt and so different than that ideal, but I am even more heartened by the fact that that ideal is out there, still surviving, in places like the town where I work.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Brick by Brick (or... God is pretty bright!)

Looking at the way The Church is changing, and reflecting on how it is all unfolding, gives me cause to see clearly the hand of God in all the various facets of the situation as it exists now.

Most every day Catholics have been isolated (intentionally or not) from their heritage for 40 years. For years, the frame of reference has stopped at about 1964 - as if to discount everything before then. This attitude has permeated everything and most everyone. Think of the way the term "the council" is used! It (Vatican 2) is referred to as "The Council" - implying that said council constitues some sort of Omniscient and Omnipotent Force which exists as a prima facie Magisterium in and of itself. The typical context brings to mind once popular bumper-sticker cliche - "Jesus Said it, I Believe it, That Settles it". Substitute "The Council" for Jesus, and you get the idea.

But now, The Church is in the process of a renaissance. An awakening to the idea that we, as 21st century Catholics, are just the latest generation. The latest of hundreds. That we are the heirs to a tradition spanning many centuries. The being Catholic means something. And that that heritage carries with it the responsibility of treasuring it and passing it on.

There are numerous aspects of this unfolding as we watch:

Summorum Pontificum has awakened - even in the non-traditional - a certain awareness of tradition. Even those uninterested see it in the news (both secualar and Catholic) and bit-by-bit become aware of it's significance. And they get to see what Mass should look (and sound) like.

The Holy Father, with his kind and pointed guidance and example, is constantly reminding us of who we are. And I believe that his example of leadership, and selection of Bishops has over the past few years allowed Priests to explore more confidently (and thus rediscover) a more Catholic way of celebrating the sacraments. Slowly, the cabinet doors are opening and vestments and prayers and thuribles nearly forgotten are seeing the light of day.

The new (corrected) translation is coming up in only a few months. And the dignified prayers therein will also, slowly, permeate the way people experience Catholicism. Lex Orandi Lex Credendi indeed!

NOW, back to my first point... Any of the changes mentioned above, happening at any other time, would have been a flop. Summorum Pontificum would have been in the dead-letter file (just like Ecclesia Dei Adflicta). The Papal trend toward tradition (if even allowed by the likes of Piero Marini) would have been ignored completely as the eccentricities of "some old man in Rome". The new translation would have been killed in the womb by the likes of those who tried so hard (and unsuccessfully) to kill it by infanticide.

BUT, THAT DID NOT HAPPEN! God Himself has seen that each step is happening at EXACTLY the right time and in EXACTLY the right order.

The Extraordinary form is attracting people who never even heard of it, and is being experienced (even unintentionally) by those who looked upon it as something akin to snake-handling. The slow trend to more traditional practices is becoming "normalized". And the new translation is not only being seen for what it is (the chance to hear and say the prayers of the mass as intended), but seen as an opportunity to connect up to our catholic foundations!!!

I Thank God it's all happening. And I Thank God I am here to see it.

Extraordinary Mass Number Five

Several Months ago, I blogged about the beauty of the Low Mass, based on my experience at that time. Well, Sunday Last (9 January) I was able to again experience the EF in is High Mass form.
For Days thereafter, one word kept going through my head:


I have been around for many years, and seen many things in this world, but I can honestly say that Mass was the first thing I have seen that truly rated that adjective.


Now I understand the meaning of the phrase "The most beautiful thing this side of heaven".


Now I understand why Catholic churches evolved into the form they traditionally assume - the magnificent High Altar, the stained glass, the pipe organ, the choir in the loft, the inspired architecture. They evolved that way because it's the only earthly venue worthy of The Mass.


And, sadly, now I understand why the modernists and the reformers were so committed to emasculating The Mass as it was meant to be. How on earth could they otherwise convince people to rebel and wander off? How do you keep them focused on earthly things when they have peeked through the door and seen a bit of heaven??? They HAD to make it less moving - less heavenly - otherwise there would be no way to lead the faithful to believe that The Church was "just another denomination" and therefore not all that special, and therefore able to be rejected or at the very least ignored.