That’s Gotta Hurt

What the market gives… the market takes away. Charts are fun, check out Citigroup vs. Google for the last 3 months. To be fair, if you stretch it out 6 months GOOG doesn’t look nearly as bad as Citi until you consider that the decline from the peak of GOOG over that time to today is the same 60% swing that Citi experienced. VMW has actually declined faster and at times with breath-stopping plunges over the same period of time. We saw this same behavior in 2001-02… if history is any guide I wouldn’t expect it to stop in the near term. We could watch GOOG get crushed down to 200 would be my back-of-the-napkin guess.

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Just Great, Now There Are 14 Sins

As if 7 mortal sins weren’t enough, the Vatican has decided to add 7 more.

First let me give you a little background on my dealings with the Catholic church. I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic (Jesuit) schools, which pretty much turned me off to religion most of my adult life. There is a certain duplicity to the Catholic church that I find hard to reconcile, such as their lax approach to pedophile priests until it started hurting their pocket book, but I also recognize the overwhelming majority of work that the church does is good and they help so many people while asking for little in return. So in the final equation I support the church in principle just not always in practice.

Interestingly, when you start having children you rethink your assumptions about religion and re-evaluate your own appetite for participation in the formal church. We have again been going to church and participating in our local church community (my wife is Catholic as well), and talking about the messages with my son, both to set a good example and prepare him to make his own decisions, eventually, about what role it will play in his life.

But in church yesterday I was struck again by my conflict with the church when in the part where you pray for specific things the speaker said “and we pray for those suffering from extreme climate change.” My first thought was “where?” because if you are going to suggest that storms in the northeast or tornados in the south are part of “extreme climate change” then you’ll also have to argue that weather IS climate, which is something that climatologists run away from whenever confronted by evidence that doesn’t fit their narrative, like snow cover over the U.S. is at a level not seen since the 1960′s and Antarctica isn’t cooperating.

Then there is this report today about 7 new sins moving up to big leagues, including one about DNA. Personally, I think we, as humans, should proceed very carefully when it comes to cloning science and research with embryonic stem cells given the moral arguments for and against (and to be clear, I’m not making a judgement about either. However, what the Vatican is doing is lumping all DNA research together irrespective of the fact that farmers for thousands of years have manipulated crops by cross-breeding, and in the last century this has been done in the lab.

More on point, imagine being a cancer researcher going to confession and saying “well I engineered anti-cancer cells in cows for humans that attack human melanoma,” or “I created a new type of wheat for Africa that is drought resistant.” Alleviating human suffering is virtuous so it doesn’t quite square having to go and ask for forgiveness for doing it.

“You offend God not only by stealing, blaspheming or coveting your neighbour’s wife, but also by ruining the environment, carrying out morally debatable scientific experiments, or allowing genetic manipulations which alter DNA or compromise embryos,” he said.

[From Seven new deadly sins: are you guilty? -Times Online]

Good Riddance Spitzer

NY Governor Eliot Spitzer resigns after prostitution habit revealed. It’s almost ironic that the governor of The Empire State would be dethroned by the Empire Club…

200803101317.jpg Spitzer’s comments about “politics never being about the person” are particularly outrageous given Spitzer’s political life has always been about Spitzer’s political ambitions. He used the office of AG to bully individuals, whether guilty or not, into settlements he likely couldn’t win in court, as populist stepping stones to the governor’s mansion and then to national office. The self-appointed “sheriff of Wall St.” was anything but in retrospect.

His first year as governor was marked by one scandal and controversy after another, now we have the definitive judgement that Spitzer has crossed the line from fame to infamy and will be remembered as one of the worst governors in the history of New York state.

It’s hard to have sympathy for anyone who’s fall from grace is self-inflicted, even more so considering Spitzer’s self-described piety. Pride cometh before the fall.

UPDATE: CNN gets props for the most benign opening paragraph in their story. “New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer is under investigation for allegedly meeting with a prostitute in a Washington hotel, two sources with knowledge of the investigation tell CNN.” Yeah, I’m sure the meeting was to talk about budget issues, parliamentary procedures or port security. He was caught up in an investigation of a prostitution business that transferred money across state lines and conspired to commit broad illegal activities.