Archive for September, 2006

28th September
2006
written by simplelight

“In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, love.”

- St. Augustine

19th September
2006
written by simplelight

A week ago Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech at the University of Regensberg in Germany. He touched briefly on the question of whether there is an underlying intellectual strain in Islam which promotes violence. Talking to people around me, I have been stunned at the intensity of feeling on the topic given that no one I have spoken to has read either the Qur’an or the actual speech.

Robert Louis Wilken gives a good background on the now infamous Byzantine emperor, Manuel II 

Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things, writing about the outcry, summarized the speech as follows:

It was a considered reflection on the inseparable linkage of faith and reason in the Christian understanding, an incisive critique of Christian thinkers who press for separating faith and reason in the name of “de-Hellenizing” Christianity, and a stirring call for Christians to celebrate the achievements of modernity and secure those achievements by grounding them in theological and philosophical truth.

Below is the full text of the speech so that you can judge for yourselves whether the reaction was justified:

Your Eminences, Your Magnificences, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a moving experience for me to be back again in the university and to be able once again to give a lecture at this podium.

(more…)

18th September
2006
written by simplelight

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange recently introduced housing futures and options. This is a long overdue idea and I look forward to the day when it is accessible to individual investors who don’t have membership on the exchange. The derivatives are based on the S&P Case Shiller Home Price Index, which tracks housing prices in ten major US cities. Interestingly enough, you can buy housing futures for 2007 at a considerable discount to today’s price.

11th September
2006
written by simplelight

If you don’t believe that high management fees represent a massive transfer of wealth from the public to the investment bankers who charge the fees then consider the following: You leave college at the age of 21 with a hard-earned engineering degree and your head full of Maxwell’s equations, the Church-Turing thesis and Graham’s Law of Diffusion. Your starting salary is $75,000 per year, grows with inflation, and you dutifully save 5% each year until you retire at the age of 65. By the age of 78 you will have $1,500,000 if you invest in mutual funds which return 7% (a conservative, long-term equity return) and charge you a fee of 2%.

If, instead, you bought a low-cost index fund which returned an identical 7% but only levied an annual fee of 0.2%, you would have $3,000,000 at the age of 78. And your mutual fund manager’s trust fund kid wouldn’t be driving past you in a Ferrari.

5th September
2006
written by simplelight

A scientist, Rupert Sheldrake, is claiming that he has proof of telephone telepathy. Maybe I’ve read too many fantasy books lately but the idea of telepathy has always resonated with me.