It was an interesting week.
On Tuesday, I started buying silver again. I didn't buy any gold this week. On Thursday, the slaughter in the precious metals complex stopped. We found an intermediate bottom.
I am in amazement. Some of the most worthless instruments on the planet, the US dollar and US bonds (both of which are debt instruments) are still being bought and referred to as "safe havens." These items are of course- promoted by bankers. Items of value, with limited supply and no counter party risk, were being sold as though they are worthless. When the banking elite have been shaping your perception all of your life- does it not in fact become reality? I think so, at least until the whole paper ponzi scheme crashes which I think is imminent. By imminent- I mean soon.
I have a love- hate relationship with Facebook. For many years, I avoided FB like the plague. I saw no real value to it. However, my father of all people, had it. Since he lived in the boondocks two years ago, I figured it might be a reasonable way to communicate with him. As it turns out, dad left the boondocks and is now living 100 miles east of me. I have never used FB to communicate with him. Maybe once.
Facebook reminds me of high school- in between classes. That's when you made plans with friends, figured out who was doing who, and got a glimpse of everyone else. Maybe some gossip. Facebook is regressive. The people in my life, that are no longer in my life, are no longer in my life for a reason. I am not particularly curious about many of those folks- at least not those who were never really friends to begin with. I am not the least bit interested in hearing someone brag about their kids, their recent cruise, or how smart or successful they think they are. All of that self initiated back patting- I find quite narcissistic. I absolutely detest FB's relationship thingy. That is truly a childish feature and really not anybody's business. I do use FB to find pictures of people in the news. It's a great locating and picture obtaining device. I also use it to keep in touch with "real friends." These are people who I miss, who for reasons related to love and work, have drifted away. I am cool with that.
Facebook as an investment is an entirely different story. It has no real means to generate a lot of revenue. There are no barriers to entry or competition even if it does find a way to separate people from their money. Never have I seen anything so over hyped as this thing. Like it's some necessary or useful element of our lives. Facebook is completely disposable. At it's IPO issue price of 38 bucks, I figure it was over priced, given it's earnings, by about 35 bucks. Really. I think FB will become one of the greatest wastes of money ever. Our version of Holland's tulip bulb craze. Twitter is more promising.
Last item. I had dinner with my cousin-in-law, Jason, this week. I love Jason. Jason spends his time trying to help others. I admire that mainly because that is what I like to do. Helping others does not mean making money by exploiting them either. I work with the un-exploitable. In my past life we used to call them judgement proof kinds of people- if you know what I mean.
At any rate, Jason brought up the topic of human pain and suffering in sort of a religious context. Why does a power greater than myself find pain and suffering necessary? That is something I have often thought about. I thought about it more- after we parted company mid week.
I have always viewed pain and suffering as teaching tools. In other words, we learn from pain and suffering. We learn from human anguish. We don't learn so much from life when it is going smoothly. In fact, when we are happy we think that is the way life is supposed to be. Of course that is bullshit. Life is just life. We should be enjoying all of it. I don't learn much of anything when life is going smoothly. Mostly I feel gratitude which is not something I feel when things are going badly. But I cannot find gratitude without the existence of pain and suffering. They are necessary. Life delivers depressed people. People who are born with illness and disease. People who die way too young. People born to some crack addict on state assistance. So we know that we don't all get the same shot. Is life somehow that unfair? And if it is, why?
I don't believe life is unfair. In fact, I don't think life has a damn thing to do with what is fair or unfair. Rather, I believe we all have a journey that never ends. That this life is just a segment of a much larger, much longer journey. There is a real danger to thinking that you know it all. Or what is tangible here is the only truth. That somehow our very limited perceptions are always correct. The truth is- until we die- we don't know the truth. We don't even get a glimpse of it. So we speculate, we set up religious and atheist camps, we fear. We wonder why people are forced to suffer, to wither away, to die. We observe all of that pain and suffering. We find ways to mitigate it. We work very hard to avoid it. We consider euthansia. We hope that when we go- we go quickly. And from all of that intense pain and suffering- we learn. We learn about the human experience. We learn to be compassionate and caring, or not. We learn to be loving and strong- or not. We learn to be grateful and forgiving- or not. We become role models for others or we do not. Others will be watching and they will learn from us. Either how to, or how not to, deal with pain and suffering. From all of that intense emotion we either grow- or we do not.
I have learned far more in life from pain and suffering than I ever have when things were going well and I was happy. Pain and suffering are opportunities for growth. You grow when you can embrace that concept. I don't think most people get that. Some folks see life as some miserable chore. They don't really believe in God yet they blame God when things go poorly. They act and behave as though they have no responsibility. That is their journey. I am very grateful for the journey that I am on. And having said all of that...
I am reminded of Father Des, who while delivering a sermon in a complete alcoholic blackout shortly after rotator cuff surgery, stated that there is no pain in the world that cannot be cured with vicodin and wine. A sermon which he was reminded of days later while waiting to check out in a grocery store line by someone in attendance that previous Sunday. Father Des was completely humiliated. He learned, through emotional pain, to quit drinking that day. We found each other because of that incident and a couple of other divinely fortuitous acts. Des found the courage to tell me that story which I of course dutifully laughed about- as he spoke of it in the gravest sense. I think that pissed him off. Father Des passed away quickly in the middle of a Wednesday mass a month or so later. The kind of death we all hope for. I learned a lot from Des. In fact, from all of that pain and suffering, I learned how to be truly happy. From that comes this.