Monday, December 5, 2016


When a woman is referred to as a "loose" woman, a libertine, er... sexually liberated, sometimes she is referred to as a Jezebel. Have you ever been called a Jezebel? I haven't but I have been called a dog and worse. FYI, calling someone Jezebel is an insult, not a compliment. Anyway, the original Jezebel refers to a particular queen of Israel who was married to King Ahab, considered to be a candidate for the most evil of all Israel's kings.

Jezebel is identified in the Hebrew Book of Kings (1 Kings 16:31) as the daughter of Ithobaal I of Sidon and the wife of Ahab, King of Israel. She was Phoenician and a believer in Baal.

She induced her Jewish husband King Ahab to abandon the worship of God and encouraged the worship of Baal and Asherah instead. Jezebel persecuted the prophets, and fabricated evidence of blasphemy against an innocent landowner who refused to sell his property to King Ahab, causing the landowner to be put to death. For these transgressions against God and the people of Israel, Jezebel was thrown out of a window by members of her own court retinue, and her corpse was left to be eaten by stray dogs. Ew!

A comparison to Jezebel suggests that a person is a pagan or an apostate masquerading as a servant of God. By manipulation and/or seduction, Jezebel misled her subjects into sins of idolatry and sexual immorality. In particular, Jezebel is associated with promiscuity. From Wikipedia, I learned that "In modern usage, the name of Jezebel is sometimes used as a synonym for sexually promiscuous and/or controlling women, especially as a racist stereotype of Black women, the Jezebel stereotype."

That racist stereotype mentioned above? Never heard of it. Bogus Wikileaks opinion? You make the call.

Edit: Aha! Here is the article that assigns the Jezebel moniker to black women -- it's a freakin' opinion piece at the Jim Crow Online Museum at Ferris University! And just think, millions use Wikipedia every day.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Latin Words And Expressions

What do great men like Thomas Jefferson, Tom Cruise, Thomas Edison, Thomas Stone, TommyBoy, Tom Swift, Tom Brady, Tommy Chong, Tom Sawyer and Tom Hanks all have in common? Besides their names?

They all were proficient in Latin. Even though Latin is considered a dead language (no country officially speaks it but you'll hear Latin murmuring around my house), its influence upon other languages still makes it important. Latin words and expressions are present in virtually all the languages around the world, as well as on different scientific and academic fields.

From the Middle Ages until about the middle of the 20th century, Latin was a central part of a man’s schooling in the West. Along with logic and rhetoric, grammar (as Latin was then known) was included as part of the Trivium – the foundation of a medieval liberal arts education. From Latin, all scholarship flowed and it was truly the gateway to the life of the mind, as the bulk of scientific, religious, legal, and philosophical literature was written in the language until about the 16th century. To immerse oneself in classical and humanistic studies, Latin was a must.

Latin? You gotta be kidding!
Grammar schools in Europe and especially England during this time were Latin schools, and the first secondary school established in America by the Puritans was a Latin school as well. But beginning in the 14th century, writers started to use the vernacular in their works, which slowly chipped away at Latin’s central importance in education. This trend for English-language learning accelerated in the 19th century; schools shifted from turning out future clergymen to graduating businessmen who would take their place in an industrializing economy. An emphasis on the liberal arts slowly gave way to what was considered a more practical education in reading, writing, and arithmetic.

While Latin had been dying a slow death for hundreds of years, it still had a strong presence in schools until the middle of the 20th century. Beginning in the 1960s, college students demanded that the curriculum be more open, inclusive, and less Euro-centric. Among their suggested changes was eliminating Latin as a required course for all students. To quell student protests, universities began to slowly phase out the Latin requirement, and because colleges stopped requiring Latin, many high schools in America stopped offering Latin classes, too. Around the same time, the Catholic Church revised its liturgy and permitted priests to lead Mass in vernacular languages instead of Latin, thus eliminating one of the public’s last ties to the ancient language.

Common Latin Words

alibi: elsewhere alter: another bellum: war bonus: good borealis: northern corpus: body derma: skin dies: day domus: home/house ego: I/me erectus: upright gens: family homo: human malus: bad magnus: great nemo: nobody omnis: everything pax: peace primus: first qui: who rex: king sapiens: wise terra: earth tempus: time virtus: virtue vivo: live vox: voice

Latin/Greek Numeral Prefixes

semi: half uni: one duo, bi: two tri, tris: three quadri, tetra: four penta: five hexa: six hepta: seven octo: eight ennea: nine deca: ten

Other Latin/Greek Prefixes

ad: towards ambi: both endo: within extra: in addition to exo: outside hyper: over hypo: under infra: below inter: between intro: within iso: equal liber: free macro: large micro: small mono: single multi: many omni: all proto: first poli: many tele: distant trans: across

General Latin Expressions

a priori: from the former. If you think something a priori, you are conceiving it before seeing the facts. Presupposing.

ad hoc: to this. Ad hoc refers to something that was creating for a specific purpose or situation. An ad hoc political committee, for instance, is formed for one specific case.

ad infinitum: to infinity. Something that goes ad infinitum keeps going forever. You could say that your wife hassles you ad infinitum, for example.

ad valorem: to the value. This expressed is used when something is related to the value of an object or transaction, like an ad valorem tax which is proportional to the value of the product.

ceteris paribus: other things being equal. This expressions if often used in economics where, in order to impact of something on the economy (e.g., inflation or unemployment), you need to hold other variables fixed.

de facto: common in practice, but not established by law. For example, English is the de facto official language of the United States.

Famous Latin couple, Lucy & Desi.
honoris causa: for the sake of the honor: This is an honorary degree where an academic institution grants a doctorate to someone without the formal requirements (exams and the like). Usually the person receiving the degree has connections with the University or has made important achievements in a certain field.

in toto: entirely.

mutatis mutandis: with necessary changes. This expression is used to express agreement to something that, however, still need to be changed or amended.

per se: by itself. If something exists per se, for instance, it exists by itself, regardless of external factors.

sic: thus. Sic is usually used in newspapers or other publications (placed within square brackets [sic]) to indicate that the spelling error or unusual phrase on a quotation was reproduced as it was in the source, and therefore it is not an editorial error.

vice versa: the other way around. If you write “John loves Mary, and vice versa,” it means that Mary also loves John.

Q.E.D. (Quod erat demonstrandum): which was to be demonstrated. This Latin abbreviation is often used at the end of mathematical theorems in order to demonstrate that proof is complete. Legal Latin Expressions

bona fide: good faith. In contract law, for instance, parties must always act in good faith if they are to respect the obligations.

de jure: by law. Some states are currently working on legislation that would make English the de jure official language of the United States.

dictum (plural dicta): a statement that forms part of the judgment of a court.

obiter dicta: a judge’s opinion offered in the course of a judgment but having no legal force.

ex parte: from, by, or for one party in a dispute. An ex parte decision is one decided by a judge without requiring all of the parties to the controversy to be present.

Et tu, Brutus? Rhome city council meeting.
habeas corpus: (we command that) you bring forth the body. In this case, the “body” (corpus) refers to a living person who is being held in prison. The phrase has nothing to do with producing the corpse of an allegedly-murdered person.

ipso facto: by the fact itself. Parents who have deliberately mistreated their child are ipso facto unfit custodians.

mens rea: guilty mind. The U.S. legal system requires that when a crime is committed, the perpetrator must have the intention to commit the crime. For example, a driver who strikes and kills a pedestrian because of faulty brakes is guilty of manslaughter, but not of murder. There was no intent to kill so the mind was not guilty. On the other hand, the wife who repeatedly runs over her husband with her SUV is guilty of murder because of her mens rea.

pro bono: (the original phrase is pro bono publico) for the public good. Sometimes high-priced lawyers come forward to defend suspects who would otherwise have to take their chances with someone from the Public Defender’s office. They work on the case pro bono, i.e., they don’t charge a fee.

prima facie: by first instance – this refers cases with sufficient evidence to warrant going forward with an arraignment.

quid pro quo: something for something. For example, the ADAs (assistant district attorneys) make deals with criminals, giving them shorter sentences in exchange for information that will enable them to convict other criminals. Another example of quid pro quo might occur between two lawyers, each of whom gives up some advantage to gain another.

Famous Latin Phrases

divide et impera: Divide and reign. It was a theory proposed by Niccolò Machiavelli and used previously by the Roman Senate to dominate the Mediterranean.

alea jacta est: the die is cast: This famous phrase was said by Julius Caesar upon crossing the Rubicon. Caesar was violating a law of the Roman Empire, hence why he was playing with luck.

veni vidi vici: I came, I saw, I conquered. Another phrase said by Julius Caesar, this time upon the victory over Pharnaces, king of Pontus.

cogito ergo sum: I think, therefore I am. This phrase was originally said in French by René Descartes, and it represents a corner-stone of the Western philosophy. The Latin translation is more widely used, though.

carpe diem: seize the day. This phrase comes from a poem by Horace. The phrase was made famous when it was used on the movie Dead Poets Society.

deus ex machina: God out of a machine. In ancient Greece when a plot was complicated or tangled, the play writers would just insert a God in the final act in order to solve all the problems. Usually a crane machine was used to drop the actor on stage, hence the name.

homo homini lupus: man is a wolf to men. This phrase was originally said by Plato, but other philosophers also used it, including Bacon and Hobbes. The meaning is straight forward.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Armor of Achilles

According to legend, Achilles’ mother Thetis begged the god Hephaestus to provide replacement armor for her son before he was to fight Hector at Troy. In response, the god gave her the finest armor ever made, including a magnificent shield, which was said to be impregnable except for the feet which were not protected by armor back in those days.

The shield in particular was said to have been of immaculate quality and was described by Homer himself as “a round shield depicting the earth, the sea, the sky, the sun and the moon, the constellations, and several images of farming, dancing, and harvesting”. Achilles' armor was the object of a feud between Odysseus and Telamonian Ajax (Ajax the greater). They competed for it by giving speeches to their Trojan prisoners on who was the bravest. The men came to a consensus in favor of Odysseus. Furious, Ajax cursed Odysseus, which earned the ire of Athena.

Athena made Ajax so mad with grief and anguish that he began killing sheep, thinking they were his comrades. When Athena lifted his madness, Ajax was left so ashamed that he committed suicide.

Odysseus eventually gave the armor to Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles. The armor was kept by him until his death when it was lost to antiquity.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Plato and the Logos

Logos is the Greek term translated as “word,” “speech,” “principle,” or “thought.” In Greek philosophy, it also referred to a universal, divine reason or the mind of God.

Plato suggested that beyond our perceived reality exists a world of “perfect” forms. That is, whatever you see is suggestive of some idea that already exists. Everything we see is just a shade, an imitation of how things truly are. To learn more about these ideas, read about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, which is a sort of the ‘Matrix‘ in its ancient version.

So, by studying philosophy, Plato said, we have a chance of catching a glimpse of how things truly are and discovering the perfect forms of everything we perceive. As you can see, the notion that we all live in a massive illusion has been around for a long time.

In addition to Plato's belief in perfect "forms," being a monist, he believed everything was derived from a single substance. This means (according to Plato) that everything – from stars in the sky to the dust under your bed – consists of the same basic material, but in different forms (there's that word again). Considering the existence of atoms and molecules and subatomic particles, as well as string theory, Plato may have been on mark.

Happy Thanksgiving

This is the same photo I used last year to convey my Thanksgiving wishes to the public at large. Cats & dogs, Indians & pilgrims. I forget why I thought it was so funny. Anyway, another year passed and it's time to put up with the family for a few hours. Many people are foregoing the family meal this year because Democrats are still too angry about President Trump being elected over Hateful Hillary. Well, those folks are poor losers and truth is, there's not much they can do about it. Foment revolution, I guess, but they've been doing that in any case.

I'd like to think that this year's Thanksgiving will serve to begin unification of a country fragmented by progressive politics. I would suggest that if you don't like your president, then you may move to someplace where you would like the president. Perhaps Germany. Angela Merkel might be more to your liking. Can you speak German? Wie geht's? Maybe you would like Mexico or Canada. They are right next door and spoken English is fairly common.

This year, I'm going to cook a turkey roll for myself and the cats. In addition, I'll have some reconstituted potatoes and dressing (ah, I forgot the dressing). Add a can of green beans and a raspberry lemonade and life is good. I hope your day works out for you and that all those parents and grandparents with the screaming kids get to take a nap this afternoon during the ball game.