Friday, July 30, 2021

Latin to be more widely taught in UK

Latin teaching is to be rolled out in state schools as the Department for Education launches a drive to ensure the subject is not "reserved for the privileged few".

A new £4 million Latin Excellence Programme will see thousands of state school pupils in deprived parts of the country offered lessons in the ancient language.

Latin is taught in just 2.7 per cent of state secondary schools, compared to 49 per cent of private schools, according to the British Council's latest report on language trends. 

Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, said: "We know Latin has a reputation as an elitist subject which is only reserved for the privileged few. But the subject can bring so many benefits to young people, so I want to put an end to that divide.

"There should be no difference in what pupils learn at state schools and independent schools, which is why we have a relentless focus on raising school standards and ensuring all pupils study a broad, ambitious curriculum."

Officials at the DfE believe Latin can help pupils learn modern foreign languages such as French, which has been in steep decline at state schools over the past decade. They also think it will benefit students more generally by broadening their horizons and could lead to improvements in subjects such as English and maths.

From next September, 40 state schools in England will be selected to take part in a four-year pilot of the programme, aimed at boosting uptake of Latin at GCSE. Staff at each school will be trained and given classroom resources to assist them in teaching Latin to children aged 11 to 16.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Theodore McCarrick is charged with sexual abuse

Theodore E. McCarrick, the former Roman Catholic cardinal expelled by Pope Francis after the church found him guilty of sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians over decades, was criminally charged on Wednesday with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy in 1974.

The criminal complaint makes Mr. McCarrick the highest-ranking Catholic official in the United States to face criminal charges in the sexual abuse crisis that has plagued the church for decades.

Mr. McCarrick, 91, the former archbishop of Washington, was charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person age 14 or over. He is expected to appear in Dedham District Court in Massachusetts for arraignment on Sept. 3.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

A Non-Catholic Defends Eucharistic Discipline

If you don’t agree with or abide by the teachings of the Catholic Church, you aren’t Catholic. Clinging to the label when the substance is gone is like cherishing wrapping paper after discarding the gift. 

Read the rest here.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Pope Francis Restricts Use of Traditional Roman Rite (Tridentine Mass)

Pope Francis has issued a motu proprio, "Traditionis Custodes," which effectively abrogates Pope Benedict XVI's motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum," by which the former pope had  liberated the ancient rite of the Latin Church. The new decree imposes sweeping restrictions on the use of the older liturgical rite and grants local bishops the authority to refuse to any priest the right to celebrate mass according to the old form. All priests must now secure permission to do so including those who have already been using the missal. For priests ordained after the publication of the new motu proprio (that is after today) permission to use the older rite is now reserved to the Apostolic See. 

There is no possible interpretation of this document that does not lead one to conclude it is meant as an attack on conservative Catholics and the sensus fidelium of the Roman Catholic Church as it existed for its first 1900 years or so. That a pope would attempt to effectively suppress the heart of the liturgical patrimony of the Western Church, is quite simply scandalous. What was sacred for most of two millennia is now suspect, and those attached to it are clearly not quite right.

There is no charity or love in this. Only calculated cruelty.


The full test of the motu proprio and the accompanying letter may be found here.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Miami's hot condo market just got very complicated

MIAMI – The tragic collapse of a residential tower spooked South Florida homebuyers and real estate investors alike into reassessing the risk of buying in the Miami-area condo market.

The market had been booming before Covid. Then it soared even higher as the work-from-anywhere culture took hold. But then in late June, scores of people were crushed to death in the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside.

Now, the market is focused on engineering inspection reports from older towers, which are required by the state to get recertified every 40 years. Insurers are also under scrutiny, as they hold the keys to new purchases in the market.

“No one in their right mind is going to buy a condo built before 2000 unless they have a safety certificate for the structure of the building, and it doesn’t exist today,” said Peter Zalewski, a South Florida condominium expert, consultant and analyst.

The Miami area has long been a tale of two condominium markets: those built before and after the year 2000, when strict new building codes born of damage from Hurricane Andrew went into effect. Now, after the tower disaster, the divide is suddenly even wider.

“Zoning was upgraded to the point where Miami Dade County zoning is probably some of the toughest in the state or the country, and as a result of that we were able to build again,” said Zalewski. “The thing is people weren’t aware of it prior to Champlain. Now, everybody knows about it, so there’ll be a great divide.”

While condo boards are rushing to send letters of assurance to owners, Zalewski said potential buyers cannot see inspection reports.

“No condo I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been here since 1993, has ever openly shared that information. There is a lack of transparency in the condo market here, by design, it is a sell-side market,” he said. “The condo association might put out the information right now. How did they find these engineers and why haven’t they shared them previously?”

Read the rest here.

I don't think this should be looked at as a purely Florida situation. Anyone looking at buying a condo, anywhere, should exercise their due diligence. Three things to look at for older buildings are the most recent structural integrity survey and how old it is, the current level of cash reserves held by the HOA to cover not just routine but also major repair expenses, and the annual HOA fees. In particular if the seller is unable or unwilling to provide the actual structural inspection report, or if there has not been one within a reasonable period of time, then I'd walk away. In Florida condo associations are not typically required to provide that to prospective buyers and in the past have rarely done so. I don't think that is going to fly anymore. 

Polish Courts Defy European Union Sparking Speculation Over Its Future

Poland's membership of the EU was plunged into uncertainty on Wednesday after its judges defied a European court order to reverse some of its controversial judicial reforms.

Stanisław Piotrowicz, a senior Polish judge, said that interim measures by the EU’s highest court, which ordered Warsaw to suspend the reforms, were “not in line” with the Polish constitution.

The defiant ruling is the first of two verdicts due to be issued this week by Polish judges which appear to question a fundamental requirement of EU membership: that EU law takes precedence over national laws.

The ruling prompted Guy Verhofstadt, a prominent MEP and former chief Brexit coordinator, to warn that Poland’s eurosceptic government was trying to drag the country out of the bloc.

“Against the wishes of the vast majority of Polish people who want an EU future, the populist governing PiS [Law and Justice] party is determined to take Poland out of the EU,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Will anyone act to stop them before it is too late?” he added, and claimed that the rule of law in Poland was breaking down.  

The Polish ruling came after the European Court of Justice [ECJ] issued an interim order for Warsaw to suspend its “disciplinary chamber” of the Supreme Court, which was part of measures to overhaul the Polish legal system.

Under the Polish reforms, which came into effect in February 2020, the disciplinary chamber has powers to strip judges of immunity and cut their salaries. The reforms also prevent judges from referring certain points of law to the ECJ.

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party, a right-wing populist and eurosceptic movement, has clashed with Brussels for years over the hugely contentious reforms.

Read the rest here. (paywall)

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

BITCOIN ‘Black Swan’ author Nassim Taleb says bitcoin is worth zero and fails as a currency and a hedge

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has reversed his stance on bitcoin.

The author of “The Black Swan” said in a recent paper that the largest cryptocurrency by market cap has failed to satisfy the notions of it as a currency without government, as a hedge against inflation and as a safe haven investment.

“Few assets in financial history have been more fragile than bitcoin,” he said.

Taleb had previously spoken more favorably on bitcoin, particularly on its potential to help people circumvent capital controls in markets that rely on them to manage their exchange rates. He called it “the first organic currency” in the foreword of “The Bitcoin Standard” in 2018 and “an insurance policy” against government control over currency.

In his recent paper, “Bitcoin, Currencies, and Fragility,” published in late June, Taleb, a probability researcher and former longtime quantitative trader, says bitcoin is worth “exactly zero” partly because it requires a sustained amount of interest to maintain it.

By contrast, “gold and other precious metals are largely maintenance free, do not degrade over an historical horizon, and do not require maintenance to refresh their physical properties over time,” he said.

Read the rest here.

Beating one of my favorite dead horses.

Monday, July 12, 2021

New York's Gilded Age Glory

A look back at some of the lost Gilded Age architecture of New York's upper east side.

Saturday, July 03, 2021

The case against indexing

To critics of the $11 trillion passive boom, active management is the original form of ethical investing — and time is running out to save it from the indexing onslaught.

“On a societal basis, it’s potentially disastrous,” says Michael Green, chief strategist at Simplify Asset Management, referring to the passive frenzy. “There’s an impending crisis that requires people to make changes.”

Fifty years since the first fund was created to mimic the moves of an entire market, naysayers fear the industry is now so big it threatens the capitalist social order.

Yes, it lowered costs, brought investing to the masses and improved returns for many. But the dark side according to the critics: It’s funneling money to undeserving businesses, distorting price discovery and intensifying volatility.

“Markets are ultimately not about funding someone else’s retirement but instead about allocating capital efficiently within an economy and creating the signals that encourage investment in the better companies,” says Green.

Read More: ‘Anarchist’ Mac McQuown Started an Index Revolution 50 Years Ago

His fears over the demise of stock picking are shared by a vocal contingent in full knowledge they’re likely fighting a losing battle.

Inigo Fraser Jenkins, head of global quantitative strategy at Sanford C. Bernstein, once declared passive investing to be worse than Marxism. Michael Burry of “The Big Short” fame tweeted that “passive investing’s IQ drain” is fueling a stock bubble. Yves Choueifaty, a Frenchman known for his $10 billion “anti-benchmark” strategies, once called it “completely toxic.”

Read the rest here.

FTR I'm not buying it. Whatever downsides there may be to indexing are completely outweighed by its advantages.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Use of Latin is severely limited in St. Peter's Basilica

VATICAN CITY, June 30, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The Vatican has moved to ban Latin, the traditional language of the Catholic Church, from the celebration of most Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The traditional blog broke the news and posted a picture of a note sent by Msgr. Franco Camaldo, who wrote on behalf of the Cardinal Archpriest of the Vatican, Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, O.F.M., who was appointed by Pope Francis earlier this year.

Camaldo wrote that the new rules coming into force are the result of the June 9 Vatican Chapter meeting and were based on what was “proposed” at the meeting, combined with “mature reflection.”

As of June 29, wrote Camaldo, the Eucharistic celebrations would follow the procedure already in use in “papal celebrations.” That is to say Mass would be celebrated only in “Italian,” with the readings and prayers of the faithful permitted to be said in “various modern languages.”

Latin would only be permitted in the “fixed parts” of the Mass, the “Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Pater and Agnus.”

The new rules will apply to the recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours, as well, as the note states that such recitation “may also be celebrated in Italian,” although keeping the Gregorian melody. Some Latin will be retained, but only for the “Hymn, Antiphon, Benedictus, Magnificat and Pater.”

Read the rest here.