You are currently browsing the Breaching The Web blog archives for October, 2003.

Vice Squad

October 29th, 2003

The Dallas-based Vice Fund invests in vice-related industries — gambling, tobacco, alcohol and defense industries. It’s been in operation for a year, and has done quite well. According to the Dallas Observer, the Vice Fund has returned 17.2 percent, beating the S&P 500 index (14.7 percent) and Dow Jones industrials (13.1 percent).

Apparently, vice (if not crime) does pay — at least for investors.

Organizational Learning

October 17th, 2003

Recent news reports of Pope John Paul II’s failing health has lead me to wonder if the Pope can retire. I have no opinion on whether this particular Pope should retire, nor do I much care about Vatican politics and speculation on who the next Pope may be. However, I am always curious about how organizations work and how rules are set up, and canon law always provides fodder for interesting intellectual exercises. So I’ve been wondering — Can the Pope retire?

Back in May, the BBC ran a story about the possibility that John Paul II might abdicate:

A few popes have abdicated in previous centuries. The last to do so voluntarily was Celestine V in 1294.

Under modern canon law, a pope is allowed to resign.

But John Wilkins, editor of Catholic newspaper, The Tablet, said: “He would say that it is a job given to him by God, and he has no right to lay it down.”

It’s this last bit that interests me. If the Pope truly is called by god, then would retirement be a rejection of that call? I’m also intrigued by the fact that canon law provides no way to remove a Pope who has become incapacitated — if the Pope were in a coma, he would still be Pope until he died. The capacties of modern medicine have outstriped the capacities of canon law.

Related:
More about Celestine V
Pope Pius VII’s conditional abdication

The color of money

October 10th, 2003

The new, colorful US $20 bill is out.

It will be interesting to see how the public reacts to this. I can’t quite overcome my gut feeling that colorful money is fake money — I’m waiting from someone from the U.S. Bureau of Engraving to pop out of the woodwork and say “Oops — we made a mistake. That $20 bill in your hand isn’t real money. It was intended for a board game manufacturer and got mixed into the money we sent to Fed banks by mistake.”