Monday, May 31, 2010

A Student's Prayer

Written by Miriam Medina

Everytime I have to study,
I pray the Lord I don't go nutty,
A computer may help to learn this junk,
But will it help me not to flunk?
So much to do,
So much to Cram
Yikes! There's mom and dad glaring
You better pass that exam..
No sympathy or pity for me at all...
No where to turn, but the study hall...
So dear Lord, please help me to pass tomorrow's test,
So mom and dad can stop nagging and I can finally have some rest...... Amen!

Frazzled Mimi

Written by Miriam Medina

To all the frazzled ladies, I dedicate this poem:

There was once a blogger named Mimi, who lived in a house far too narrow.
Where piles of history books and research papers filled rooms everywhere.....
Her two little dogs, buddy and T.J. both sweet and spoiled rotten, like a shadow, followed behind her as she walked about here and there.....
She griped and she grumbled, as she tripped and she stumbled, over more books left the night before by her chair.
She needed to write, looking for space on her desk, among the huge pile of mess, but there was as usual none to spare.....
Alas, she said, my dining room table, where I can write as much as I am able, a heavenly place for my soul to bare....."
On the counter there was still, the pile of unpaid bills, that made her so anxious to the point of despair...
She looked all around the apartment, and saw there was so much she needed and so much she hoped someday to repair....
The dogs began barking, as they heard someone knocking, the scowl on her face said "Beware."
Damn it! Its the landlord again, collecting this month's rent, giving him this time a check with a prayer......
This is the final straw, complaining as she closed the door, I've had more than my share to bare....
With her Pina Collada in hand, she decided to take a stand, smoothing tight rollers in her dark brown hair...
A doormat I'm not, As she threw down the pot, exclaiming : To hell with everyone, I am leaving all this and who cares.....

With her cocker spaniel and poodle, trailing behind her, she ran as fast as she could with bag in hand down the stairs...
Into her car, spinning wheels on the tar, she left never to be seen or heard of again anywhere....
Atta girl, Mimi.................

The End

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The Italian Niche: Rome, Italy and the Provinces, First Century B.C. (7)

(Continued from Page:6)

In this respect a very different picture is presented by Italy during this period. A vigorous and independent civilization grew up there, a distinct branch of the Hellenistic tree. We have seen already how Greek culture inundated Rome in the third century B.C., and how the next century gave it a Latin aspect. In the first century Roman culture finally ceased to be a thing borrowed from foreigners, and became truly national. This is shown most clearly by the literature. The Latin literature of this age is fresher and more direct than contemporary Greek literature. Among the poets we find such mighty geniuses as Catullus the lyric poet, Lucilius the satirist, and lucretius the poet and philosopher. These men created the metre and rhythm of latin poetry, and the poetic vocabulary. They did not invent new forms of verse, but they poured into the traditional forms the brilliance of their youthful genius. The same is true of prose, which was created mainly by Cicero. His predecessors were the great political orators of the past hundred and fifty years, the jurists who had forged the exact terminology of the civil law, and the historians who had celebrated the Roman state and its victorious arms. What they had done Cicero made use of. He proved the capacity latent in the Latin tongue for expressing shades of meaning as abstruse and elusive as those in which Greek philosophy is so rich. it is remarkaable that at this time the chief authors belong to the higher class of Romans and italians, and that the south Italians of humble origin who laid the foundations of Latin literature have no successors. Among the prominent men at Rome there are few who are not authors. Sulla writes 'Memoirs'; Caesar has left to us 'Commentaries,' describing his campaigns in Gaul and during the Civil war; Cicero was at once a statesman, an advocate, and a man of letters. Special attention was paid to history, as a handy weapon for political strife and party propaganda. I have spoken already of Sallust's Jugurthine War; his other extant work is a narrative of Catiline's conspiracy, equally brilliant in style, and equally devoid of either h istorical impartiality or scientific method.

Science kept pace with literature. it is true that the Romans paid little attention to the exact and minute discoveries of Greece in mathematics, medicine, physiology, astronomy, geography, and the natural sciences. But grammar, rhetoric, archaeology, jurisprudence, philosophy, the history of religion and law__all these became favourite subjects of study with educated Romans. The works of M. Terentius Varro submitted to a careful scrutiny the development of the national literature, religion, and public institutions; Cicero wrote a number of popular works on philosophy and rhetoric; and Lucretius expounded the doctrine of Epicurus in a poetic form. But perhaps the chief monument of Latin genius is the steady growth of that juristic literature in which the living Roman law is interpreted.

In the domain of art less was accomplished. Greek sculpture, Greek paintings, and the products of Greek art generally, abounded in italy and Rome; and much work was turned out at Rome by Greek artists. But Roman art was still unborn: it was a child of the empire. The Romans may have contributed something to the development of realistic portraiture; but this can hardly be called an original disco very; it was rather an advance along the path already trodden by the Hellenistic sculptors and painters. Roman architecture, too, showed no originality but contented itself with reproducing Hellenistic models.

The general aspect of life in Italy, and especially at Rome, was almost entirely Greek. Thus Greek was the language of fashionable society; or, at any rate, a knowledge of Greek was indispensable for a gentleman. This external aspect of life is well known to us from Cicero's Letters. It was a full life that was lived by the grandees of Roman society. Every self-respecting member of that body owned a splendid palace in Rome with a horde of domestic slaves and hundreds of clients; and he had two or three or more luxurious country houses, with parks and gardens; and many of these houses were built on the seashore. A brilliant social life went on there in town and country; there were banquets with music and dancing; new literary works were recited; lectures were delivered by philosophers or orators from Greece; or, if the party was small, gossip and scandal enlivened it. Women were not excluded__indeed they played a chief part on that stage. The tattle of these great people turned on romantic actions and love affairs, on marriages and still more on divorces. Politics were very fashionable. From time to time the thundercloud of civil war fills the sky. But no sooner has it passed by than the old life begins again with all its interests and follows the familiar round. The provincial towns tried to follow the example set by Rome. Of the life led by the lower classes at this time we know nothing; but it is unlikely that it was specially attractive.

Source of Information: A History of the Ancient World by M. Rostovtzeff; Volume II Rome (Translated from the Russian by J.D. Duff. Oxford at the Clarendon Press Published: 1927 Great Britain.

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The Italian Niche: Rome, Italy and the Provinces, First Century B.C. (6)

(Continue from Page: 5)

In the East the situation was far different. The war with Mithradates, the requisitions levied by Sulla and the democrats, the supremacy at sea of the Cilician and Cretan pirates, the domineering of the great tax-farming companies, the shameless finance of the Roman bankers, the presence in Greece of Pommpey's and Caesar's armies, the unconcealed pillage carried on b y Brutus and Cassius and then by Antony__all these causes had finally destroyed the prosperity of the richest districts in the East. The cities groaned under the burden of debt, and the debt rose steadily. The only country not utterly ruined was Egypt; and even Egypt had suffered severely from the continuous dynastic disputes of the first century, from the greed of her Roman patrons, who willingly advanced loans to the contending parties at exhoritant interest, and from the arbitrary rule of Antony and Cleopatra. It is no wonder that the East was enfeebled not only financially but morally as well. The best men had emigrated to Italy or to othe west. The temper of those who remained became more and more depressed; and men who despaired of the present and of any future on earth sought consolation in religion and in doctrines partly religious and partly philosophic, which hel out the possibility of a better life_beyond the grave.

This explains why interest in knowledge and scientific investigation, together with belief in the creative power of human reason, disappears almost entirely at this period. Men withdraw into themselves; they ponder over moral perfection and union with God; they try to lead a more intense inner life. Heading this movement with its motto of "Detachment from Life", the philosophic schools__Epicurean, Stoic, and Cynic__became more influential. They all taught the necessity of Self-concentration, of seeking satisfaction in oneself, of looking at the life of the world as something 'indifferent.' Their methods, indeed, were unlike. Epicureanism lays down a purely materialistic view of things; Stoicism connects the search for an inner life with religion: Cynicism devotes itself mainly to an unsparing criticism of mankind and society. The last great creative genius in science and literature whom the Greek world produced was Posidonius, a Syrian Greek from Apamea, who spent his whole life at Rhodes. A man of vast acquirements and keen intelligence, he was proficient in almost every department of knowledge. He was an excellent teacher of rhetoric; he was one of the best historians of his time and wrote on tides and volcanoes. As an ethnographer he was the first to study northern Europe, and our first scientific knowledge of the region is due to him. He was famous for his skill in mathematics and astronomy. With all this knowledge he combined a profound religious felling, and believed in spiritualism and astrology and the possibility of mystical apprehension. When one compares him with such a thoroughgoing rationalist as Polybius, one realizes the vast change that had passed over the East in the interval between them.

To be continued: Page: 7

Source of Information: A History of the Ancient World by M. Rostovtzeff; Volume II Rome (Translated from the Russian by J.D. Duff. Oxford at the Clarendon Press Published: 1927 Great Britain.
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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Italian Niche: Rome, Italy and the Provinces, First Century B.C. (5)

(Continue from Page: 4)

It has been asserted that the smallholders were swallowed up by the great landlords, because the former mainly grew corn, which constantly fell in price because of the vast import of cheap corn from the provinces. It is certain that they were swallowed up; but this was not caused by the import of corn but by other causes___the flow of money to Italy, the eagerness of rich men to invest their capital in land, their willingness to buy land at any price, and the heartless confiscations by which the leaders of revolutionary armies flooded the land market. In fact, if the civil wars brought ruin in their train, the victims were generally men of moderate or small means. Almost all the individuals of whom we know certainly that they were ruined by civil war belong to the class of fairly well-to-do farmers. Virgil lost his estate; and he was a small landowner at Mantua in north Italy. Horace, as a partisan of Brutus and Cassius, forfeited his property, which consisted of land near Venusia, on the borders of Lucania and Apulia. Many no doubt were thus ruined and forced to take up their residence in the towns, others became tenants of the fields they had owned, and others were forced to emigrate to the Eastern or Western provinces. They were joined there by all who thought it better to sell land in Italy and seek their luck in foreign parts, where they hoped to find a good investment for their capital and labour.

The flow of capital to italy explains also the expansion of industry there in tyhe second and first centuries B.C. Some kinds of manufacture had flourished from very early times. Etruria had always exported a large quantity of bronze articles; as early as the fourth century the local pottery of South Italy had driven out vessels exported from Attica; and these manufactures were now largely developed. Capua became one of the chief centres for the production and export of bronze and copper vessels. Capua first, and Arretium in north Italy later, supplied all the West with earthenware. In the first century a great manufacture of earthenware lamps was started in north italy. The fine fleeces of Apulia had long been famous and now became known all over the world, while an excellent wool for coarser fabrics was supplied by the flocks of north Italy.

The provinces, however, were in a much less flourishing economic condition. In the West, Africa produced corn on the vast estates of the Roman nobles, but produced hardly anything else; Spain was slowly recovering from fierce and continuous wars, from the time of Viriathus to Sertorius, and from the time of Sertorius to the conflict between Caesar and Pompey; Gaul was first ruined by the invasion of the Cimbri and Teutones and then weighed down by Caesar's campaigns in the centre and north of the country. Yet even there the influence of Italy, so near and so prosperous, was felt. The whole of Italy had now become Latinized. The language of Pompeii was Oscan before the Social war; at the time of Sulla's death Latin had driven Oscan out. In Cisalpine Gaul the Celtic tongue died out without leaving a trace behind: every one spoke and wrote Latin. Virgil, the greatest of the Latin poets, was a native of Mantua: his rival, Horace, was born at Venusia in south italy. Latinized herself, Italy began to diffuse the same influence among the Western provinces. Latin culture and Latin town-life took root there.

In the first century the planting of Roman colonies and the immigration of italians turned southern Spain and southern Gaul into something like districts of italy. These Italians took with them some of their native capital and their native capacity for business. The settlers took a lively interest in the economic life of these countries and paved the way for future prosperity.

To be continued: Page: 6

Source of Information: A History of the Ancient World by M. Rostovtzeff; Volume II Rome (Translated from the Russian by J.D. Duff. Oxford at the Clarendon Press Published: 1927 Great Britain.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Italian Niche: Rome, Italy and the Provinces, First Century B.C. (4)

The class of knights also grew richer, and a number of new families were added to it. The title of equites was no longer restricted to the eighteen centuries of knights, who were entered on the roll of citizens for mounted service: it was now enjoyed by all enfranchised citizens, whose property was valued at not less than 400,000 sesterces. The number of persons so qualified had risen enormously. By collecting the taxes in the provinces, by taking leases of public land, by lending money in Italy and abroad, by supplying and transporting armies, by building ships of war and transports, by buying up spoils of war, especially live stock and slaves, by purchasing confiscated land and other p roperty in Italy during the massacres and proscriptions__by all these means great numbers of enterprising and unscrupulous people, whose parents were in many cases still slaves, had made their fortunes.

This lately acquired wealth was invested in all kinds of enterprises_trade, industry, tax-farming__but chiefly in land both at home and abroad. Cicero's friend Atticus may be taken as a normal type of a rich and respected Knight who had given up specualtion. His fortune was mainly invested in land situated in Epirus, and he raised live stock there on a large scale. As a man of culture and lover of literature, he put some of his money into a publishing business. He was Cicero's publisher. Sulla's freedman Chrysogonus, who grew rich out of the proscription, and whom Cicero has pilloried, may serve as a specimen of the dishonest and rapacious specualtor.

Rome at this period was a vast centre of business and served as an exchange for the whole world. Immense bargains were concluded in the forum, e.g. for the Roman corn-supply of the great companies, which contracted for the collection of taxes or the cultivation of state domains, were bought and sold there. Many Roman citizens, especially from south Italy, spent their lives abroad__in Greece or Asia Minor, Africa or Gaul. They carried on commerce of all kinds, with special attention to money-lending and the slave trade. Every large centre of trade and industry in these provinces included a number of Roman citizens, who were untied in a corporation of their own and played an important part in the business life of the place. I have mentioned already how Mithradates massacred about 80,000 of these Roman traders with their clerks and slaves in Asia Minor and Greece.

The flow of capital from the East to Rome and Italy raised the wealth of peninsula to an extraordinary height, which was not affected even by the horrors of Civil war. M. Terentius Varro, born at Reate in the Sabine country, a friend of Cicero and also intimate with Caesar, wrote a treatise o n agriculture, a serious and scientific work, for Roman landlords and capitalists; and in it he gives a rose-coloured description of italy as the most fertile and best-cultivated country in the world. Now as earlier, this was due chiefly to the scientific farming of the nobles, Roman and Italian. The system was the same as that of earlier times. Most of the work was done by slaves. More and mroe attention was given to the culture of the vine and olive, to growing fruit and vegetables, to poultry, and to stock-breeding. To these subjects most of Varro's treatise is devoted. The fall of Carthage and the ruined state of the East (of which more will be said below) made Italy the chief producer of wine and oil for the western market. Improved methods applied to vines and olive groves made it possible even to export wine and oil to the East, which had once supplied the whole world with these commodities. Money was made also out of small allotments whose principal produce was grain. The thriving towns of Italy with a constantly rising population demanded an immense amount of corn. Corn imported from the provinces could not compete with the native product except in seaport towns, because the cost of carriage by land was excessive.

To be continued: (5)

Source of Information: A History of the Ancient World by M. Rostovtzeff; Volume II Rome (Translated from the Russian by J.D. Duff. Oxford at the Clarendon Press Published: 1927 Great Britain.

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The Italian Niche: Rome, Italy and the Provinces, First Century B.C. (3)

(Continued from Page: 2)

Thus the first century B.C. was an epoch of transition, when the old city-state was breaking up and degenerating into the rule of two privileged classes, the senators and knights, and when a new system of monarchy was growing up. The conception of a family of free and independent states__the conception which the Greeks fought for and which lay at the root of the Roman constitution in the fourth and third centuries B.C.__now gradually gave way to the ancient Eastern notion of a single world-wide state, possessing a uniform culture and ruled over by one man.

During this century the changes in the social and economic life of Italy were not less profound than the change in politics. The rural population in particular suffered greatly from civil war. The policy by which the Gracchi sought to revive the old system of small landholders was attempted more than once during these wars; but it proved a failure. Repeated distributions of land among the discharged soldiers did nothing to restore the old state of things, though Marius and Sulla, Pompey and Caesar, Antony and Octavian, all carried through extensive measures for this purpose. New landholders were created by hundreds of thousands, and as many were evicted from their holdings to satisfy the needs of the new-comers. We hear little of the way in which the country-side was affected by these tremendous upheavals; but we know enough to justify the belief that they made no radical alteration in Italian agriculture. Many of the veterans, unaccustomed to peaceful labour, went bankrupt, and their land passed into the hands of capitalists. Others held on to their allotments and either displaced or became part of the old landowning middle class who took the lead in the provincial towns. At all events, the award of land to veterans did nothing to stop the growth of large estates.

For this period, far more than for earlier times, we have plenty of evidence about the immense estates owned by the ruling aristocracy in Italy and the provinces__estates which were c ultivated by slaves or by tenants who might be called serfs. I have spoken already of Sulla and his forty thousand freedmen. Pompey's family owned such vast estates in Picenum that he could recruit a whole army among his own clients and freedmen to s upport Sulla against the democrats; and Domitius Ahenobarbus, one of the senatorial generals, did the same, when Caesar invaded Italy after his rupture with Pompey. Pompey was not boasting when he said, on the eve of the war with Caesar, that he had only to stamp his foot and legions would grow out of the ground. He was thinking not only of his veterans and their sons, who were now his clients, but of the multitude of tenants upon his great Italian estates. Cicero, though never reckoned a very richy man, possessed villas and estates in many parts of italy; and yet he disapproved of land in general as an investment. It is true that land did not remain long in the same hands: changing with the changes in politics, it passed from one owner to another. But it tended on the whole to become the monopoly of a few wealthy capitalists.

During the civil wars great fortunes became commoner: every spasm of the conflict gave birth to new millionaires. Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Caesar, Antony, and Octavian__all these not only became immensely rich themselves but also enriched a vast number of their adherents, some of whom were clever enough to stick to their money. Anarchy in the provinces and inefficiency in the central government increased the opp[ortunities of provincial governors to feather their own nests at the cost of their subjects. And lastly the conquest of the East by Pompey and of Gaul by Caesar enriched the generals and the officers. On the whole, the senatorial class grew richer than poorer during the Civil wars, and the number of great capitalists belonging to this class grew larger.

To be continued: (4)

Source of Information: A History of the Ancient World by M. Rostovtzeff; Volume II Rome (Translated from the Russian by J.D. Duff. Oxford at the Clarendon Press Published: 1927 Great Britain.

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The Italian Niche: Rome, Italy and the Provinces, First Century B.C. (2)

(Continue from page: 1)

The scandalous condition of the provinces provided the democratic leaders and also all ambitious aspirants to power with an effective weapon against the Senate and senatorial government. Nevertheless, neither the triumph of the democratic party, nor the temporary success of individual political leaders, brought about any real change. The democratic leaders and their opponents were alike absolutely dependent upon the army; and the army now consisted of professional soldiers, who sought by military service to satisfy their greed, first for booty and plunder, and then, when their time of service had expired, for allotments of land. Experience proved that it was impossible to use the army in order to carry out a definite political programme. The army supported Marius the democrat, and it supported Sulla the aristocrat. About politics it cared little; but money and land it insisted on having. The two requirements could only be supplied by constant wars and the annexation of province after province. Thus Sulla and Pompey and Caesar and Anthony and Octavian were all forced to carry on an imperialistic policy and to extend unceasingly the limits of the state; and they found s upport for this policy, without regard to their political objects, among the class of knights and among the senators themselves.

The enormous growth of the state further increased the importance of the army. Without the army the Roman state would have broken up at once. But the army would obey no leader, unless he made them sure of victory and allotments of land. This was clearly seen by all the chief actors on the political stage. Pompey alone tried to avoid this logical conclusion: he wished to make a compromise between the cosntitution and a monarchy; he wished to rule as the first Roman citizen, and yet to enjoy the confidence of the people. But he failed and became in the end a tool of the constitution against which he was fighting: he was forced to defend the Senate against Caesar, a more consistent aspirant to autocracy basded upon the sword. Caesar frankly confessed that he owed his power to the army; and the army was the weapon with which Antony and Octavian struck down the last attempt of the Senate to reasssert itself. Antony and Octavian alike founded their pretensions to supreme power on military force alone. The military weakness of Antony and his inability to get recruits from Italy settled the dispute for primacy in favour of Octavian.

This same growth of the state, with the annexation of ever new provinces and the increasing number of tributary kings, made it more and more obvious that the Senate was incapable of deali ng with a problem which was now forcing itself to the front__the problem of government for a world-wide state. The material well-being of Rome depended on the prosperity of the provinces: and italy, tax-free herself except for a small revenue derived from customs, looked to the provinces mainly for support. But the provinces, drained dry by senators and knights, and treated by the leaders of civil war merely as a source from which to draw money, became steadily less prosperous: the economic development of the West was stopped, and the East was beggared. All this was well known to the chief men at Rome. The central point of Sulla's reforms was this very question, how the state could be governed; and to Caesar the same problem was of primary importance. But the question was insoluble, if the old order and the ancient constitution of Rome as a city-state were preserved. Here, too, the only possible expedient was to adopt some new form of constitution; and the only possible form, owing partly to the excessive importance of the army and its leaders and partly to the unwillingness of italy and the Roman citizens to resign their dominant position in the state, was a constitution based on the militarty power of an individual___in other words, a system of monarchy was inevitable.

To be continued: (3)

Source of Information: A History of the Ancient World by M. Rostovtzeff; Volume II Rome (Translated from the Russian by J.D. Duff. Oxford at the Clarendon Press Published: 1927 Great Britain.

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The Italian Niche: Rome, Italy and the Provinces, First Century B.C. (1)

The senatorial system of government was attacked by a succession of revolutionary politicans with a definite programme, which was, to transfer all power to the popular assembly, to redistribute the land, and to extend the limits of the franchise. Of this programme the last item only was realized to some extent, and that after a cruel war: the whole of Italy was admitted to the body of Roman citizens. The other two points led to a long political conflict, in the heat of which their real meaning was forgotten. Rome was divided into two camps__the partisans of the Senate, and its enemies. Meantime the need of constitutional reform grew with the growth of the state. The cautious foreign policy of the Senate, which shrank from the annexation of more provinces, gave place first, in the second century B.C., to the selfish policy of the great landowners, and then, in the next century, to a frankly imperialistic policy, which was carried out both by the Senate and by the enemies of the Senate, including the class of business men who were known as "knights".

The two highest classes of Roman society, the senators and knights, were supreme ibn the provinces. The former governed the provinces with almost unlimited powers and were sometimes guilty of scandalous misconduct. The speeches of Cicero against Verres, the governor of Sicily, describe such a case in vi vid colours. The knights' chief business in the provinces was to collect the taxes and dues, which the Senate had let out to them through the agency of the censors. By collusion with the governor, by bribing him, by presenting him with shares in the joint-stock companies which were formed for the collection of taxes, the knights found it feasible to oppress the provincials and squeeze the last drop of jice out of them. It was useless to send complaints to Rome. Occasionally, as in the case of Verres, a skilfuyl advocate was willing to plead for the provincials, if he could thereby crush a political adversary or improve his own prospects of advancement. Bu in most cases the j uries, being composed of sentors or knights or both together, returned a verdict in favour of those who paid them most.

Another scandal of provincial government consisted in the exstensive financial operations of capitalists who lent money often at usurious rates of interest. The loans were advanced chiefly to the cities of the East, w hich needed them in order to satisfy the greed of tax-farmers and governors. At the beginning of the civil wars these cities were already hopelessly involved, and each aspirant to supremacy at Rome laid them under contributions which they could not pay. Their difficulties were taken advantage of by the Roman bankers and capitalist, both sentors and knights. They were ready to find money but demanded exorbitant interest and all the property of the city as security. If the city was unable to pay, the creditor was backed up by the power of Rome and demande4d his money with the help of armed force. The tributary kings were treated no better. The real purpose of many military operations carried our by the Romans in Asia Minor was to enforce the payment of debt. To take a share in the business of tax-farmers and moneylenders was so much a matter of course, that men of the highest character, Cicero, for instance, a man of unstained reputation and an excellent provincial governor, did not scruple to engage in it. Brutus, the murderer of Caesar, invested his money in loans to cities and charged interest at 48 per cent.

To be continued: (2)

Source of Information: A History of the Ancient World by M. Rostovtzeff; Volume II Rome (Translated from the Russian by J.D. Duff. Oxford at the Clarendon Press Published: 1927 Great Britain.

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You're the Writer: (2)

History Finally Uncovered
By John J. Burkard Red Hook Area Historic Researcher

When I was a lad, (I'm now 75) quite some time ago, I remembered a bronze plaque that adorned the wall of the Todd Shipyards building in Red Hook Brooklyn. This historic treasure proclaimed an event that transpired August 27, 1776 and marked the end of Red Hook Lane an old Indian trail used by the American Colonists. The marker had been missing for over 50 years, and mentioned the heroic soldiers stationed at a redoubt type of entrenchment called Fort Defiance, located at the end of this Red Hook Lane.

It went on to speak about these brave soldiers and how on that fateful day they did turn their cannons upon a British man-o-war vessel attempting entrance to the East River. But their assault, coupled with the elements of weather forced this frigate the HMS Roebuck to turn back to the anchored British fleet off Gravesend Bay. It was under the command of Lord Viceroy Admiral Howe, whose brother General Howe led the land based British troops, and history tells us, "the failure of this ship to gain access to the waterway was a major turning point in the Battle Of Brooklyn".

As a result, George Washington was able two days later to evacuate His entire Army successfully to the shores of Manhattan. Had the Roebuck gained access, they would have effectfully cut off this withdrawal by surrounding the American Army on all sides of the field of battle, and the results would have been catastrophic.

I attended grade school in Red Hook, and I have lived in the neighborhood all my life, so it seemed only natural when I retired 14 years ago I should set out on a quest to locate this historic marker that, as a youngster I admired and proudly looked upon and, cherished, the story of how important Red Hook was, to bring a sense of pride and joy to my neighborhood.

You see, I've always wondered why this neighborhood history, so critical to the birth of our nation was never taught in our local schools, certainly not when I attended, there was two public schools, and one parochial school. History not taught by the teachers, not listed in the history books, never was it spoke of, not a soul would relate this story to the children, that Red Hook Brooklyn could indeed be considered responsible for allowing the American Army to withdraw and regroup, and go on to defeat the British Army. It could be safely said that the happenings I speak about did indeed contributed to the birth of our Nation.

I have learned a great deal in my 14 years as a history buff, some pleasant, some not so pleasant. For instance, I found that many historians interpret the facts to conform to their own versions of the events. I learned also, some neighborhoods have been overlooked, to give recognition to others. and It is my wish in future writings to this site to explain and give examples of this deliberate but obvious omission.

Why was Red Hook neglected? why did not those responsible impart to the neighborhood school children that needed sense of pride? the ability to be proud of their community and its importance in the role of the making of America.

I will close on a happy note, this summer August 27th on the 229th anniversary of this historic moment, a new plaque will be unveiled in a beautiful newly constructed waterfront park and garden at the foot of Conover Street in Red Hook. This will be like a dream come true for myself, the achievement of my intended goal to bring deserved recognition to my neighborhood.

John J. Burkard, Red Hook Area Historic Researcher

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Terms & Processes Used in Interpretation of Music: A-C

"To appreciate music requires merely a receptive temperament. Obviously, the more one understands of the technique whereby certain harmonious results are produced, the greater will be the enjoyment of those results. " Author Unknown



In music, the repetition of a theme in such a manner that each note is increased to double its original value. Augmentation occurs most frequently in the fugue, but also has its value in the free style of writing. For augmentation of intervals, see INTERVAL.



The deepest or lowest part in a musical composition, and the deepest or lowest tone in a chord. It is next to the upper part in the independence and originality of the melodic design, and in respect to harmony it is the most important part, containing more frequently the fundamental notes of the chords; on it, moreover, is formed the effective musical figure known as organ-point. Bass or Basso.__The lowest male voice, generally with a compass of F to d, all in the chest register. Bass. The name of an old bow instrument with five or six strings.


The name of a short staff presented to a field-marshal in foreign armies as a symbol of his newly bestowed authority. It is also the name of the long staff carried by the drum-major of an infantry regiment, of a policeman's stick or club, and of the rod wielded by the conductor of an orchestra.


The motion of the hand and arm, or baton, by which the conductor of a chorus or orchestra indicates the time and rhythm of a musical composition, and insures perfect unanimity of performance on the part of the singers or players. In ancient times the leader used his foot to mark the time, and this person, called by the Greeks coryphaeus, and by the Romans pedicularius, wore sandals of wood or metal to make his beat more emphatic. Leaders who marked the time by clapping their hands were called manaductores. The etiquette of modern musical performance demands that the conductor shall perform his task as inaudibly and inconspicuously as possible; but this refinement is of recent date; for Rousseau, in 1768, writing of the Paris Opera, declares that the listener is "shocked by the continual and disagreeable noise made by him who beats the measure."

With the Greeks the up beat (arsis) indicated the accented, and the down beat (thesis) the unaccented, part of the measure. In modern time beating this is reversed. The first note or count of the measure, which has always the strongest accent, is marked by a downward motion of the hand or baton. In duple time, with two beats to the measure, t his down beat is followed by an upward beat on the unaccented count. In triple time, with one strong and two weak beats, the first beat is down, the second to the right, and the third upward. In quadruple time, with four beats, the usual order is down, to the left, to the right, and up.



No one who is at all familiar with music has any difficulty in naming the instrument or class of instruments from which a given tone proceeds. "The same note" may be sounded, e.g. on piano, organ, violin, and harp. We recognize it as "the same" in every case; and yet it "sounds different," so that we can say, "This is the note of a pipe, this of a struck, or bowed, or plucked string." The criterion of difference, in such cases, is termed clang tint, or clang color, or timbre. The note of a musical instrument is not a pure tone, but a mixture of tones. Strongest of the 'partial' tones is the fundamental, the lowest constituent tone; this dominates and gives name to the whole tonal mass, so that the a of the above-named instruments is named a and sounds as a in virtue of its fundamental__a pure tone of (say) 440 vibrations in the one second. Besides the fundamental, the note contains a number of higher partials or overtones. If we represent the pitch-number of the fundamental by 1, then the pitch-numbers of the overtones stand to it in the ratios 2, 3, 4, etc.; hence a perfect musical note would contain the vibration-ratios 1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7.....the overtones decreasing in intensity with their height, until they finally became inaudible. The primary reason that differences of clang tint obtain is that the various musical instruments favor certain overtones, and suppress others (Helmholtz); in some cases, e.g., the resonance chamber of the instrument reinforces only the odd-numbered partials, 3, 5, etc. (clarinet); in others, a particular overtone is killed by the striking of a string at a certain fraction of its length (in most modern pianos, the sixth overtone or seventh partial is thus suppressed); in others, again, the low overtones are weak and the high are strong (bassoon, harmonium). A practiced ear is sensible of these differences as such, and can analyze the note into its tonal components. For most hearers, however, the differences exist merely as differences in the 'coloring' of the fundamental.

There are two further constituents of clang tint: (1) Different musical tones are accompanied by characteristic noises in wind instruments, by the rush or hiss of the air: in string instruments, by a scrape scrape or thud or pluck. (2) Different musical tones begin and end in characteristic ways; the clangs of the zither are dry and short, those of the organ full and sustained; the oboe is flexible, the bombardon or bass tuba lumbers into the orchestral complex, etc. Finally, there are many secondary criteria for the recognition of musical tones; the range within which the fundamental falls, the intensity of the clang, the peculiar melodic task set to a sequence of tones, etc.

Consult: Helmholtz, Sensations of Tone (Eng. trans., London, 1895); Stumpf, Tonpsychologie (Leipzig, 1890); Titchener, Experimental Psychology (New York, 1901). See INSTRUMENTATION.


An instrument of the harpsichord family, and an important step in the evolution of the pianoforte. Its history previous to the fifteenth century is unknown. The clavichord was shaped like the square pianoforte, having a keyboard of white and black keys, and strings of brass wire set in vibration by the action of tangents or 'jacks' covered with metal. Its tone, though weak, was delicate, and unlike the harpsichord, or spinet, in which the strings were plucked or twanged by quills or pieces of hard leather, it responded to the gradations of the player's touch. The clavichord was used in Germany until the beginning of the nineteenth century. Bach preferred it to the pianoforte of his day, and wrote an essay for his son, Versuch uber die wahre Art Klavier zu spielen, for this instrument. Mozart used the clavichord in composition, and Beethoven preferred it to other keyed instruments; for upon it, he said, "one could best control tone and expressive interpretation." See HARPSICHORD; SPINET.

To be continued:

To Contact: or

You're the Writer: (1)

This section has been created for those who would like to be part of the "Mimi Speaks" writing team. I welcome contributions of articles related to New York City, New York State and American history. Share with my readers your opinions, memoirs, neighborhood and immigration stories, historical events, as well as other pertinent subject matter. All contributors will be given proper credit and listed accordingly. John J. Burkard , historian of the Red Hook area of Brooklyn, New York has been a frequent contributor to's writing team. I will be posting some of his articles on my blog. Welcome aboard John.

"The Melting Pot!" by J.J. Burkard Red Hook historian Brooklyn, New York

Melting Pot was the name everyone called our great metropolis New York City. In part because of Ellis Island being the main immigration center for the entire country. Most of us old timers at least have heard of Emma Lazarus and her beautiful poem The Great Colossus, " Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Huddled Masses Yearning to be Free" etc. With those immortal words spoken by the statue herself, concluding -”I Lift My Lamp beside the Golden Door."

Although today it's hard to imagine even the average high school student being aware of this poem, since we seem to have lost the idea about teaching history related subjects in our school system today.

All nationalities, taking strong measures to economize and amass their life savings to become part of the greatest nation on this planet. They came and still are coming, these men and women of different cultural and genetic make-up, bringing with them their academic knowledge, talents and every working skill imaginable, from laborers to qualified engineers, doctors, lawyers and many other numerous professions.

Isn’t it funny, how most immigrants seeking citizenship approval are required to know more about the United States history, than your average grade school, high school, and yes even your college students? I should not use the word funny, because it is sad, really sad but true, the way our school systems across America have let us down.

Nonetheless, getting back to the melting pot, my question has always been "when do they begin to melt? Assimilate? Become Americans once and for all. It seems to me there is an abundance of cliques and clubs forming made up of every nationality in the world. We have Irish Americans, Black Americans, Italian Americans, Jewish Americans, Polish Americans, Greek Americans, Oriental Americans, (Chinese-Japanese- Korean- and the list is endless. They merge together usually in one neighborhood, effectively eliminating anyone who doesn't meet the nationality requirements. This is not what America was intended to be by our founding fathers.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I think people have a right to cherish their homeland, their precious memories of growing up there. And by all means, have your parades to celebrate this heritage; no one should be prevented from enjoying those fond memories.

But with those memories should be the memory of why they came to our countries’ shore in the first place. For the opportunity that was not available to them in their parent homeland. We are or should be Americans first, anything else second. It seems to take too long for our citizens to emotionally feel this way, to really melt in this great melting pot.

Perhaps that may be one of the problems with America, no one it seems calls themselves American. But then again what do we call ourselves? "What nationality are you, the question was asked: the answer- "I'm an American." Oh!, are you South American? North American? Central American? You see, this could be our problem, maybe we could use a new name for our country? After all it's pretty hard to reply - " I'm a United States Of American"

Of course I'm being somewhat facetious, but it would be nice if we could just try to put America first, and our origin second, after all most of our for-fathers left the shores of their former homeland to seek out the opportunities not available to them where they emigrated from. We must never forget this. And while we could use a lot of improvements in this great country, The United States is still the land of opportunity for all peoples, and all are welcome to pursue this opportunity when they arrive here.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wisdom: Thoughts From the Indian Masters (3)

"We know now that toleration is not sufficient toward another religion; we must accept it. Thus it is not a question of subtraction, it is a question of addition. The truth is the result of all these different sides added together. Each religion represents one side, the fullness being the addition of all these."

Swami Vivekananda
"Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man."
Mahatma Gandhi
"A mind that is burdened with the past is a sorrowful mind."
"We would rather cling to the known than face the unknown___the known being our house, our furniture, our family, our character, our work, our knowledge, our fame, our loneliness, our gods___that little thing that moves around incessantly within itself, with its own limited embittered existence."

El Rincón Borinqueña : Island Disasters

"Earthquake History of Puerto Rico"

Speaking of earthquakes I just received notice from Dr. Ana Maria Tekina-eiru Maynard of the PRF Dance Organization that this early Sunday Morning an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 struck Puerto Rico on May 16, 2010 at 1:16 am. on the Western Side of the Island northeast of Mayaguez. It was felt widespread. At the time of the report there were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries, but they are waiting for daylight.

El Nuevo Dia - for full report and updates directly from the Island

To read more about earthquake history in Puerto Rico:

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thoughts of an Italian Writer: (4b)

Dr. Antonio Castaldo for IESUS European Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Thanks to the permission of the Fire Brigade of Latina, on the spot, and the assistance of the team leader Giovanni Rosato and Fire Department, Pine and Cosimo Giordano Merola we entered the devastated center of the city of Onna, once lived, now rubble. Everything collapsed. A slice of free garden, with paths and bushes of colorful tulips, testifies for a moment the serenity the beauty and simplicity of life of small towns here in the Italian province of Abruzzo has been shaken to death and wounded by the earthquake of April 6, 2009. At San Gregorio I know Grandfather Ivo, a retired man of age 63.The night of the earthquake he immediately left the house, and upon perceiving the tragedy he immediately participated in first aid. A strong smell of gas filled the village and he knew where the key input of local distribution was and rushed to close it to avoid risk of fires and explosions. The church, completely collapsed offers the light of day, the gilded stucco of a corner stood with difficulty. Grandfather Ivo promised his grandchild that the church will be completely rebuilt because "I grew up in a town with a central church, so it will be also for my grandson." In the tent city of San Martino I met someone from San Gregorio. This is Antonella Gatti, age 50, married. Antonella tells me that her husband went down suddenly into the street that night helping the first rescuers to pull out some of the dead from the rubble. In fact, even an orphanage in San Gregorio, with nuns and babies have succumbed to the earthquake. Antonella then remembers also the eighty earthquakes to Naples and she a former Eastern student now relives the drama in her own home. And today's students, those of Aquila, who livened up the city, now seem shadows and ghosts in eternal custody of the debris murderers who have designed their fate under the blows of nature's unrelenting and, in several cases, under the fault of insatiable men. We drove over the ghostly city of Aquila, together in silence we and the heavy machinery to dig and remove stones and desolation where once there was life.

Now that the state is intervening, with laws and economic benefits, with homes and long- term care, hopefully there will be a rapid and rational reconstruction. We wish as soon as possible the wounded Aquila, is fully recovered, for you to immediately make a rapid flight returning to contemplate the Abruzzi redeemed from pain today.

Dr. Antonio Castaldo

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Return to: Table of Contents: #12b Thoughts of an Italian Writer

Thoughts of an Italian Writer: (4a)

Dr. Antonio Castaldo for IESUS European Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences.

"The Earthquake in Abruzzo, Voices of Hope"

(Continue from (4)

A couple of miles downstream, precisely Poggio Picenze, is located on the field assembled and managed by the Civil Protection of Regione Campania present with men and equipment, personnel, health facilities and even a toy library.

But it is from the Campo di San Martino, who begin to know the varied humanity among quake survivors and relief workers, civilian and military, secular and religious needs and to exchange support, comfort and pain, loss and hope. In the personal memories of young people, hand in a tragic and supportive context, I preserve a month's work in the reconstruction of Friuli, in an international field, for reconstruction after the earthquake of 1976. Then fear for their loved ones in the distance, for the work in Emilia Romagna, cleared in a long night's journey home surpassing columns of motor vehicles and rescue workers on the highway heading south.

The Campo di San Martino, looks a bit, I immediately know Martino. The immediate empathy interjects into the narrative: "I'm here but in my heart the years of children, those who lived, up to the middle schools to Nomadelfia near the community of Don Zeno. I am a spiritual son of Norina and her teaching I took yesterday, Good Friday, some girls at my house, after approval of the Fire Brigade, to be able to take a shower. After the first days of continuous intervention in the field. I myself am breathing in the first few hours of rest. However, life is hard, we go forward with so many sacrifices, but the lessons of "Mamma Norina" help us to orient and know how to behave. I have two daughters who live outside, so between today and tomorrow I will be able to spend a few days with them." To Martin, I see that child from a photo printed on the 1959 book that was given to me, written by his "Mother of Vocation" Norina, a gift in return, as he moved, my documentary on the "Festa dei Gigli of Brusciano" wishing him a moment of calm after so much suffering. The extraordinary experience which refers to Martino comes from the "revolutionary" existence of the evangelical inspiration of the Community of Nomadelfia, founded by Don Zeno Saltini together all'Opera Piccoli Apostoli, in the thirties in the province of Modena. Today Momadelfia, which means "where the fraternity is the law" is located in the area of Grosseto.

The emotions are incurred and they are multiplied, like in the night of Holy Saturday, during the Mass officiated by Father Benjamin Dasan Kuzhyar, under the tent that serves as a dining hall during the day. The priest invites “whoever desires,” to his side close to the temporary altar for the biblical readings. There arrives a sailor, then a volunteer of the Civil Defense, then a young man of his parish. I too would like to launch in reading to say "I am too at your side." Father Benjamin is of Indian origin and I wanted to know the genesis of his vocation thinking about the varied social and religious panorama of his homeland. The priest told me of his renunciation to life as a skilled watchmaker, but being the son of a building constructor of churches has left the sign and indicated to the young Benjamin the way to follow. Now, as pastor of seven churches, he finds himself with all its places of worship in a tent useless, celebrating the mass for the evacuees and the volunteers of Campo di San Martino di Licenze. In the Holy night, when the religious rite was concluded, Mayor Domenico Panone and his Deputy Mayor Giuseppe Calvisi, of the City of Barisciano, spoke thanking all the volunteers who came from all over Italy with the Civil Defense to the rescue of Abruzzo and their small country, Barisciano with its surroundings. To them, in parting, greetings were conveyed from the Mayor of Brusciano Angelo Antonio Romano, Vice Mayor Vincenzo Cerciello, the Prime Minister Antonio Di Palma and the entire community of Brusciano with the promise of success and concrete aid.

Easter Sunday where at the village of Onna is most filled with mourning, has lost a third of its 350 inhabitants and 75% of its built heritage. I know Tonino, a 69 year old farmer, the only one you can see from a distance while handling the animals. Hens scratch free. Firefighters working through the rubble. Tonino talks about his distrust of the gamekeeper who fined him several times about irregular pathways of activated water for the watering of his land. Recalling ideological atmosphere of the early twentieth century as told in "Fontamara," the novel by Ignazio Silone. Then, about water, Tonino invites me to look at the crack that was opened by the earthquake at the riverbank Aterno, about a mile from the village. We are on the left bank of Aterno and on the spot I could see the rift that has opened. Its awesome, it zigzagged for a hundred yards wide in some places about 15 inches, like a snake goes to the river and then gets lost somewhere, imagine leaving a dark, unfathomable, mysterious depths.

To be continued: Earthquake in Abruzzo (4b)

Thoughts of an Italian Writer: (4)

by Dr. Antonio Castaldo for IESUS European Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences.

"The Earthquake in Abruzzo, Voices of Hope"

First homes deliver in Abruzzo their wounded. The tent camps are emptied. The shocks return. Memory recalls the first days of the tragedy. But hope does not surrender.

* * * *

The earthquake of April 6, 2009 in Abruzzo has claimed 299 victims, among which were 20 children, leaving 80,000 people in the street, destitute to live in 100 tent camps set up by the Civil Defense. The area around Aquila with that shake, of magnitude 5,8 Richter, suffered a deformation of 650 square kilometers as reported by the CNR processing data from the European satellite Envisat.

The heritage building that was saved from the earthquake is now the subject of site inspections to verify its usefulness and allow the return home of the more fortunate people. A state funeral for 205 of the 299 victims were officiated by the secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone e dal Vescovo dell' Aquila, Giuseppe Molinari at the Barracks of the Guard of Finance to Coppito, on April 10, with a distraught crowd of 1,600 families and 5,000 people.

Pope Benedetto XVI has granted his Secretary of State, the dispensing of the holy oil because the funeral ceremony coincided with Good Friday. His Holiness also sent his personal secretary Georg Gaenswein, with instructions to read a message at the beginning of the ceremony.

There were present Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Republic; Silvio Berlusconi, President of the Council; Renato Schifani and Gianfranco Fini, respectively President of the Senate and President of the Chamber of the Deputies: Roberto Maroni, Minister of the Interior and the Undersecretary Gianni Letta and Paolo Bonaiuti. From the opposition there were present Dario Franceschini, Piero Fassino, Paolo Ferrero, Rosy Bindi, Franco Marini, Paolo Cento and Lorenzo Cesa.

For seven dead Muslims Islamic rites were officiated by the imam, Mohammed Nour Dachan, president of the Union of Islamic Communities and organizations in Italy.

This is the picture from a distance shown by the media. Then there is the daily truth that can be perceived and told by going directly on the place. And so, in the final days of the Holy Week I visited the earthquake-stricken areas following a troop of volunteers from the European Operators Police in Campania, the Regional President General Giovanni Cimmino. On the spot of the disaster between the first rescuers to intervene the operators of AEOP Abruzzo Region with the President Nino Pezzi and the "consecration" mass media, for exposure in the cover of the immediate special issue of Panorama, the AEOP operator Rosario Zuccarello 31 years during the intervention of Onna to the first light of the day after the night of the earthquake.

At 15 kilometers from Aquila, 900 meters above sea level, there is the Campo di San Martino, a village which, together with two others, Petogna and Villa, complete the territory of the Municipality of Barisciano near Poggio Picenze. To San Martino there is the Civil Defense Mobile Column of the Piedmont Region and the coordination of the Province of Alessandria. Heading the field is Marco Bologna with the help of Claudio Fantino. To San Martino, coming from Brindisi, there is also Battalion San Marco of the Navy, with the Captain of Vessel, SAN, Andrea Tortora under the command of the Presidio Advanced Healthcare Service also includes Psychologic Support provided by the Sub-Lieutenant of Vessel Giuseppe Frassica.

To be continued: Earthquake in Abruzzo (4a)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

El Rincón Borinqueña: Essay Collection (1)

Professor Manuel Hernandez Essays Collection: Manuel Hernandez is a professional staff development specialist and works full-time for the Department of Education in Puerto Rico. He is also a culturally relevant text consultant and has given workshops throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and Mexico. He also writes freelance; his commentary essays have appeared in numerous newspapers and site in Puerto Rico and in cities in the United States.

For the last fifteen years, Professor Manuel Hernandez has been a leader in the field of education. He specializes in the area of culturally related texts and their ability to increase academic success.

Some of the areas of expertise are:

· Develop cultural awareness of educators to increase potential academic success (read essays 36, 60 ,66 ,67 and 109)
· Foster strategies that will boost Latino parent involvement (read essays 79 and 80)
· Present a vision on the diversity of Latino education and its development, progress and assertiveness (read essays 72, 86, 108, 114 and 115)
· Strengthen reading and writing skills by using Latino/a literature as a bridge to the American and British classics (read essays 8, 12, 13, 21 and 36)
· Improving literacy in the English Classroom (74, 75, 114 and 115)

· How to write and publish a textbook (

· Latinos and educational reform ( read essays 31, 32, 33 and 35)

Contact Manuel Hernandez at

Address: Calle Laurel #255
Urb. Fajardo Gardens
Fajardo, Puerto Rico 00738
I have selected a few essays from his collection to post here.


Essay #1: "To Be or Not to Be Puerto Rican" By Manuel Hernandez

To be or not to be, that is the Puerto Rican question. The recent victory by Fernando Ferrer as a political candidate to one of the most important mayoral positions in the United States has refueled the on-going local debate. Shakespearean Puerto Ricans have once again brought up the dilemma of who is and who is not Puerto Rican. With the United States 2000 Census revealing parallel numbers between Puerto Ricans born on the Island and Boricuas born, raised or living on the Mainland, the debate continues in all means of communication on The Island. Even with recent demonstrations of brotherhood and camaraderie in public demonstrations by Marc Anthony and Chayanne, the issue takes center-stage in daily discussions on the Island.

In his record-breaking concert in Madison Square Garden, Marc Anthony stated that he was a Puerto Rican and an American at the same time. One of the founders of the Nuyorican poetry movement, Sandra Maria Esteves, states in her poem “Here” that she is “two parts a person, boricua/spic, past and present, alive and oppressed”. Jennifer Lopez has broken all paradigms and proudly displays the colors of the Puerto Rican flag in her never-ending videos on MTV and on interviews in international television. United States Ricans have a way of intertwining their dual identities and are not apprehensive about being bilingual and bicultural, but on the Island academics and scholars have perpetuated the discussions on who and who is not and have made it part of their everyday rice and beans.
With tens of thousands of United States Ricans coming back to their homeland to retire and settle down, the situation will only develop into heights yet unknown to Boricuas-kind. The best-selling Puerto Rican author, Esmeralda Santiago, came back to Puerto Rico after thirteen years and was disappointed when her Puerto Rican heritage was constantly questioned:“How can puertorriqueños who have never left the Island accuse us when they allow the American contamination I was seeing all around? There were McDonald’s, Pizza Huts, and so on. I used to think that this was not our culture (Puerto Rican Voices in English, p.163).” Questions about Santiago’s identity came back to haunt her again after she titled her best-selling 1993 memoir When I Was Puerto Rican.

Literary discourse specialists in colleges on the Island were disturbed by the past tense of the verb to be in the title. Twelve years later and with widespread national acclaim, her local critics have eased the critical tone and now proudly invite her to speak at conferences today in the same arenas where she was questioned in the past.

In Francois Grosjean’s Life with Two Languages, he defines code switching as “the alternate use of two or more languages in the same utterance or conversation”(145). If the use of two languages has been recognized by linguists and academics as a practice with a high degree of competence, how about dual identities? For once and for all, Island Puerto Ricans should understand that it is possible to be born elsewhere and still be a Puerto Rican. An American born on the Island or in any other parts of the world would definitely consider him/herself an American. Jews will always be Jews no matter where they were born, raised or presently reside.

Mariposa, a young New York-Puerto Rican poet sums it up in the second and third stanzas in “Ode to the DiaspoRican”:

Some people say that I’m not the real thing
Boricua, that is
cause I wasn’t born on the enchanted island
cause I was born on the mainland
north of Spanish Harlem
cause I was born in the Bronx…
some people think that I’m not bonafide
cause my playground was a concrete jungle
cause my Río Grande de Loiza was the Bronx River
cause my Fajardo was City Island
my Luquillo Orchard Beach
and summer nights were filled with city noises
instead of coquis
and Puerto Rico
was just some paradise
that we only saw in pictures.

What does it mean to live in between
What does it take to realize
that being Boricua
is a state of mind
a state of heart
a state of soul…

Please view comment from :
Francois Grosjean
Professor Emeritus
Universite de Neuchatel, Avenue du 1er-Mars 26,
CH-2000 Neuchatel, Suisse/Switzerland
Web site:

Wisdom: Thoughts From the Indian Masters (2)

We are always comparing what we are with what we should be. This measuring ourselves all the time against something or someone is one of the primary causes of conflict. Now why is there any comparison at all? If you do not compare yourself with another, you will be what you really are.

The absurb denial of the truth is natural in man. Man does not want to be, but to appear to be. He does not want to see what he is, but tries only to see himself as the person other people take him for, when they talk about him.
Svami Prajnanpad
This craving for positions for prestige, for power to be recognized by society as being outstanding in some way, is a wish to dominate others and this wish to dominate is a form of aggression. And what is the reason for this aggressiveness? It is fear isn't it?
As an individual, a specific entity, you have physical, mental, and nervous limits, among others. If you know your own limits and try to stay within these limits, you are free.
Svami Prajnanpad

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Table of Contents (2)
A.) Getting To Know Mimi (B.) N.Y.C. History (C.) Italian Harlem(D.) Spanish Harlem (E.) Black Harlem (F.) New York State
(G.) Tenement Living: Social Issues Of Urban Life
(Poverty, Crime&Vice, Homelessness, Group Conflicts, Diseases, Gays&Lesbians: Gender Identity, Domestic Violence, Drug&Alcohol Abuse, Police Brutality )
Table of Contents (3)
(H.) Chit-Chat Over Coffee Swirls

Table of Contents (4)
(I.) Jewish Knowledge (J.) Self-Improvement (K.) Historical Facts On England & United States

Table of Contents (5)
(L.) Miscellaneous (M.) Timetables (N.) Ethnic Groups (O.) Legal Talk(P.) Entertainment: Backward Glances (Q.) Immigration

Table of Contents (6)
(R.) Women__Bio Sketches, Feminine Fancies, Recipes, Kitchen Talk.(S.) Worship

Table of Contents (7)
(T.) A Little Taste of History, (U.) U.S. History-Transportation, (V) U.S. History-Panics, Economic Depressions, Business Matters

Table of Contents (8)
(W) El Rincón En Español (The Spanish Corner: )
This section is dedicated to articles of historical facts, poetry, self-improvement, human interest stories etc. written in Spanish.

Table of Contents (9)
(X) So Mr. President, What Did You Do During Your Term in Office....? (The Series)

Table of Contents (10)
(Y) Brusciano, Italy News/Events: Dr. Antonio Castaldo, Journalist
(Articles in Italian and English)

Table of Contents (11)
(Z) The Italian Niche
Table of Contents (12a)
Pensieri di uno scrittore italiano: dott. Antonio Castaldo
Table of Contents (12b)
Thoughts of an Italian Writer : Dr. Antonio Castaldo
Table of Contents (13)
I) "El Rincón Borinqueña"

Table of Contents (14)
II) Arts and Entertainment

Table of Contents (15)
III) Architecture
Table of Contents (16)
IV Education
Table of Contents (17)
V Wisdom: Thoughts From the Indian Masters
(Feel free to express your comments or ask questions regarding: "" which will be reviewed before posting. Thank You..

************ .
Contact: or miriam@thehistorybox

Columbia University (2)

Upon President Barnard's death, in 1889,the Hon. Seth Low was elected as his successor. He found several flourishing but loosely connected schools, whose work he correlated, reorganized, and consolidated. In 1891 the College of Physicians and Surgeons surrendered its charter and became an integral part of Columbia College. In 1890 the School of Philosophy was established, taking charge of the advanced work in philosophy, psychology, education, ancient and modern languages and literature.

In 1892 departments of mathematics, mechanics, physics, mineralogy, chemistry, etc., combined to form the School of Pure Science. The several schools of engineering were in 1896 organized into the School of Applied Sciences. In the same year the name "Columbia University" was adopted to designate the institution as a whole, and the name "Columbia College" was restricted to the undergraduate department. In 1898 Teachers College (q.v.) became affiliated with Columbia, and in 1900 Barnard College became a part of the university. On President Low's resignation in 1901, Professor Nicholas Murray Butler was elected to succeed him.

Columbia University at present comprises the following schools and colleges: (1) Columbia College. The college confers the degree of B.A. and offers a wide range of subjects, mostly elective. Its students register under any of the university faculties in their fourth year, thus practically shortening the college course, in the case of students who take up professional courses, to three years. In 1902, the date for all the statistics of attendance quoted, the number of students in the college was 492. The college offers 72 scholarships of the value of $150, and a number of prizes. (2) Barnard College. This is an undergraduate school for women,
and its management is vested in a separate board of trustees. It offers courses leading to the B.A. degree. Graduates of Barnard College are admitted to the university as candidates for the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees; but the professional schools of Columbia University, except Teachers College, are as yet not open to women. Barnard College has an attendance of 339. (3) The School of Law, which offers courses covering a period of three years and leading to the degree of LL.B. On certain specified conditions its students may also earn the LL.M. and A.M. degrees.

Twenty scholarships are available for students; its attendance is 400. (4) The College of Physicians and Surgeons. With this are connected Vanderbilt Clinic, one of the finest hospitals in the world, and the Sloane Maternity Hospital. It confers the M.D. degree, and under special conditions its students also may earn the M.A. degree. It has an attendance of 809 students. (5) The Schools of Political Science, Philosophy, and Pure Science. These have charge of the graduate courses in the departments of mathematics, natural sciences, public law, history,. literature, philosophy, psychology, anthropology, and education. Their courses lead to the A.M. and Ph.D. degrees. The student registration is 508. (6) The School of Applied Science, which is composed of the schools of Chemistry, Mines and Engineering, and offers courses covering periods of four years, leading to the degrees of E.M., Met.E., B.S., C.E., E.E., and Mech.E., also graduate courses leading to the A.M. and Ph.D. The total attendance is 626.

(7) the courses in fine arts, comprising the course in architecture, leading to the degree of B.S., and the courses in music, were placed in 1902 under the administrative control of the president of the university. (8) Teachers College, one of the leading schools for the training of teachers in the world, offers courses leading to the B.S. degree and to the several Teachers College diplomas. It is open to men and women on equal terms. It constitutes a separate corporation. It has an attendance of 634 students. (9) The Summer School of the university, designed especially for teachers, was organized in 1900 and has become a permanent feature. The attendance in 1902 was 643.

The government of the university is divided between a board of 24 trustees, of which the President is a member, having charge of the financial affairs of the institution; the University Council, composed of the President, the Dean, and a delegate from each school or college, to whose care are confided the educational interests of the university, subject to the reserved power of control of the trustees and the several faculties in charge of the respective schools. The total valuation of the university property and endowments is about $20,000,000. The receipts of the university in 1901 were $836,108.56. and the expenses $844,329.85. The library numbers about 315,000 volumes, including the Avery Architectural Library and the famous Phoenix collection, but exclusive of unbound pamphlets.

A number of societies make it the depository of their rare collections of books. In 1897 Columbia University removed to its new buildings on Morningside Heights. The principal buildings, grouped around the library, the gift of ex-President Low, are the Havemeyer, Fayerweather, and Schermerhorn Halls, and the Engineering Building and Earl Hall. The gymnasium is part of the building of the Alumni Memorial Hall. Barnard College and Teachers College occupy buildings of their own outside of the campus. Earl Hall represents the religious interests of the university.

Columbia University is intimately connected with many of the educational institutions of New York. Lectures are delivered by Columbia professors at the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and at Cooper Union. Students of botany are permitted to pursue lines of research at the New York Botanical Garden, where courses in special investigation are conducted by Columbia University professors. The university offers free tuition to students in the several theological seminaries in New York and its vicinity, and these institutions reciprocate the privilege. The university also offers 26 fellowships, ranging from $500 to $1300 a year, and 34 graduate scholarships of the value of $150 each.

The total number of students attending the university is 3632. Under the auspices of the Columbia University Press, established in 1893, are published a large number of works, monographs, and serial studies, written by professors and post-graduate students, and exhibiting the results of original research in various of the university departments. There are also published the Political Science Quarterly, and the Columbia University Quarterly, formerly the Columbia Bulletin. The presidents of the University have been: Samuel Johnson, D.D. (1754-63); Myles Cooper, S.T.D., LL.D. (1763-76). William S. Johnson, LL.D. (1787-1800); Charles H. Wharton, S.T.D. (1801-11); William Harris, S.T.D. (1811-29); William A. Duer, LL.D. (1829-42); Nathaniel F. Moore, LL.D. (1842-49); Charles King, LL.D. (1849-64); Frederick A.P. Barnard, S.T.D., LL.D. (1864-89); Seth Low, LL.D. (1890-1902); Nicholas Murray Butler, Ph.D., LL.D. (1902---).

CONSULT: George H. Moore, The Origin and Early History of Columbia College (New York, 1890); John B. Pine, Charter, Acts, and Official Documents of Columbia College (New York, 1895); Brander Matthews, American Universities (New York, 1895); N.F. Moore, An Historical Sketch of Columbia College; J. Howard Van Amringe, Universities and their Sons (Boston, 1898); Circular of Information No. 3, 1900, Bureau of Education (Washington, D.C., 1900).

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Columbia University (1)

One of the oldest educational institutions in the United States, situated in New York City. The first step toward its foundation was the authorization in 1746 by the Colonial Assembly of public lotteries for the establishment of a college in the Province of New York. The proceeds, amounting in 1751 to £3443 18s., were vested in a board of ten trustees, of whom seven were members of the Church of England.

The preponderating English influence thus represented, and the application of the trustees for a royal charter, excited much opposition in New York, where it was thought that the college should be entirely an American institution. Nevertheless, a charter for "King's College" was obtained from George II. in 1754, and the management of this college was vested in a corporation composed of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Governor of the Province, and other crown officers ex officio, the rector of Trinity Church, the ministers of the Dutch Reformed churches, and twenty-four gentlemen of New York.

In the following year Trinity Church conveyed a considerable plot of land to the college on condition that its presidents should always be members of the Church of England, and that the Church Liturgy should be read in the college mornings and evenings. Dr. Samuel Johnson, of Connecticut, was installed as the first president; and in 1756 the erection of a college building was begun near what is now West Broadway and Murray Street. In 1764 Dr. Johnson was succeeded by the Rev. Myles Cooper. Under President Cooper the college prospered, and a medical department was founded in 1767; but President Cooper was a Royalist, and becoming involved in 1774 in a political controversy with Alexander Hamilton, then still an undergraduate, was presently mobbed at his house, and soon after sailed for England.

In 1776 the college buildings were seized by the Committee of Safety for hospital purposes, and the college exercises were practically suspended until 1784, when the institution reopened as Columbia College, under a State charter, vesting its control largely in political officers. This, however, proved unsatisfactory; and in 1787 a new charter was granted similar to the original one except as to the denominational clause, and the management of the institution was vested in a self-perpetuating board of twenty-four trustees. About this time the income of the college was £1330, while its faculty numbered six, three giving instruction in medicine and three in the arts. New life was given to the institution in 1792 by a grant from the State of £7900 outright and of £750 for seven years. The faculty was enlarged, and Mr. James Kent, afterwards the famous Chancellor Kent, was elected to a professorship of law. But the State refused further funds in 1799, and the college suffered seriously in consequence. In 1813 the medical school was incorporated with the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

In 1814 the Legislature granted the college a strip of land known as the Hosack Botanical Garden, extending from Forty-seventh to Fifty-first Street, and from Fifth Avenue to nearly Sixth Avenue, as a reimbursement for lands in New Hampshire belonging to the college which were ceded by the State on the settlement of the New Hampshire grants. For many years this property yielded no income; but at present it is an important source of revenue. In 1823 Professor Kent was reappointed to the chair of law and delivered his famous lectures, which were, in 1826 published as Kent's Commentaries. In 1830 the contemplated establishment of a rival institution in the city of New York spurred on the board of trustees to new activity. The full course was enlarged, and scientific and literary courses were instituted, designed for special students.

In this Columbia would seem to have anticipated its future development as a university. But the time for such a project was not ripe, and the special courses were discontinued in 1843, though their major subjects were continued in its full course. In 1857, owing to the rapid growth of the city, the college was removed to the site bounded by Forty-ninth and Fiftieth Streets and Madison and Fourth Avenues, and a postgraduate course, combining all the features of a university, was projected as part of a general plan of expansion. In 1858 a law school was established. Beginning with 35 students, it had an attendance of 171 in 1864. In 1860 a nominal union was effected with the College of Physicians and Surgeons. To meet the increasing need of mining and other engineers, Columbia College established, in 1864, the School of Mines and Metallurgy.

Dr. Frederick A.P. Barnard succeeded President King in 1864 and a new era of progress began. Dr. Barnard was a friend of classical learning, but he held that a system of education not supported by popular sanction can never be made an efficient instrument of culture; and when the attendance at the college fell to 116 in 1872, the fact was attributed by him to the rigidity of the college curriculum. In 1880 the School of Political Science was established, and in 1881 a department of architecture was instituted in the School of Mines. In 1883 a course of study under the general supervision of the college faculty was designed for women, and in 1887 women were authorized to receive the degree of B.A., but this practice was discontinued on the establishment of Barnard College (q.v.) for women in 1889.

When President Barnard entered upon his duties as president, Columbia College consisted of the college, an inchoate School of Mines, the Law School, and a nominally associated Medical School. Twenty-five years later, at the close of President Barnard's administration, Columbia College comprised the college, the School of Law, the School of Political Science, and the School of Mines and Metallurgy, including the Schools of Civil and Sanitary Engineering, Applied Chemistry, and Architecture. The university had increased greatly in size, and the elective system had been largely introduced.

To be continued: Page: 2

BIBLIOGRAPHY: From My collection of books, The New International Encyclopedia; Dodd, Mead and Company-New York Copyright: 1902-1905 21 Volumes

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Brusciano, Italy News/Events (23) English

Topic: "Delivered work on redeveloping and securing the viability of the access ramps to highway 162. Local authorities, administrators and technicians attending the ceremony ended it with an auspicious toast, pastries and fireworks provided by an exultant and excited Alderman Mimmo Esposito."

An atmosphere of festivity and of gratifying institutional synergy has accompanied the delivery of the "work of Redeveloping and securing the viability of the access ramps to highway 162 of Castello di Cisterna. This morning, October 29, 2009, the area of the event radiated with the tam tam of fireworks as in the more traditional folk festivities that enliven the local communities of Southern Italy. The celebration belongs to all the citizens of the towns of Pomigliano D'Arco, Castello di Cisterna, Marigliano, Mariglianella, San Vitaliano, and Brusciano, those who served more, can now draw a sigh of relief and, after a three year period of frustrating expectations, can applaud to the concreteness of the work."

The cheering and excited Alderman Mimmo Esposito, who has the responsibility toward roads and the Municipal Police of the City of Brusciano, shared a positive morning with various political, technical and institutional representatives that were present: the town of Castello di Cisterna, the extraordinary commissioner Dr. Antonio Scozzese, the Commander of the Municipal Police Maria Rosaria Petrillo and the Engineer of the Technical Office Tommaso Zerella; for the City of Brusciano, the Mayor Dr. Angelo Antonio Romano, Assessor of Public Works Eng. Angelo Maione, the Assessor for Budget and Finance Dr. Carmine Guarino, the Assessor for Sports and Entertainment Francesco Maione Arch and City Councilors Nicola Di Maio, Giuseppe Cristiani and Vincenzo Cerciello and the Municipal Police Commander Capt. Louis Ciccone; for the Consortium ASI of Naples, the engineer Antonello Calderoni and for the firm Edrevea SpA in Naples, the Engineer D'Aniello.

The unblocking of that road line means alleviating local mobility especially for users in Brusciano. Also improved are the traffic needs for general emergency services: Ambulance, Fire Department and the same Law Enforcement and Public Safety.

Alderman Mimmo Esposito said: "Today is a day of great satisfaction for me, for the Mayor Dr. Angelo Antonio Romano and the entire administration. To be able to see with the eyes not only our fellow citizens but all users of the area of Agro-Pomiglianese-Nolano at last the starting of the work on the ramps. Working in silence, with tenacity, stubbornness, no posters, or other events, we have kept our promise to the people." Thanks-concluded Alderman Esposito-the Prefect of Naples, the Consorzio ASI, the Government Commissioner of Reclamation and all local institutional participants at the table of the prefecture. The commitment of the Communal Administration of Brusciano does not end here, but already has in program other goals". The ceremony of the work was concluded with an auspicious toast, pastries and fireworks provided by an exultant and excited Alderman Mimmo Esposito.

Translation from Italian into English by Miriam Medina

Press Release October 29, 2009
Responsible for this press release: Dr. Antonio Castaldo Tel. 081.5218249 e-mails:

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Brusciano, Italy News/Events (23) Italian

Topic: "Consegnati i lavori per la riqualificazione e messa in sicurezza della viabilità delle rampe di accesso alla strada statale 162. Enti locali, amministratori e tecnici alla cerimonia di consegna conclusa con brindisi augurale, pasticcini e fuochi d’artificio offerti da un esultante ed emozionato Assessore Mimmo Esposito. "

Un clima di festa e di gratificante sinergia istituzionale ha accompagnato la consegna dei “Lavori di riqualificazione e messa in sicurezza della viabilità” delle rampe di accesso alla Statale 162 di Castello di Cisterna. Questa mattina, 29 ottobre 2009, l’evento si è irradiato per la zona con il tam tam dei fuochi d’artificio come nelle più tradizionali feste popolari che animano le comunità locali del Meridione d’Italia.E la festa è di tutti i cittadini dei Comuni di Pomigliano D’Arco, Castello di Cisterna, Marigliano, Mariglianella, San Vitaliano e Brusciano, quelli più serviti, che ora possono tirare un sospiro di sollievo e, dopo un triennio di frustanti attese, applaudire così alla concretezza dei lavori.

L’esultante ed emozionato Assessore Mimmo Esposito, con delega alla Viabilità e alla Polizia Municipale del Comune di Brusciano, ha condiviso la positiva mattinata con i vari rappresentanti politici, tecnici ed istituzionali presenti: per il Comune di castello di Cisterna, il Commissario Straordinario dott. Antonio Scozzese, il Comandante della Polizia Municipale Maria Rosaria Petrillo e l’Ingegnere dell’Ufficio Tecnico Tommaso Zerella; per il Comune di Brusciano, il Sindaco dott. Angelo Antonio Romano, l’Assessore ai Lavori Pubblici Ing. Angelo Maione, l’Assessore al Bilancio e Finanza Dott. Carmine Guarino, l’Assessore allo Sport e Spettacolo Arch. Francesco Maione ed i Consiglieri comunali Nicola Di Maio, Giuseppe Cristiani e Vincenzo Cerciello ed il Comandante di Polizia Municipale Cap. Luigi Ciccone; per il Consorzio ASI di Napoli, l’Ingegnere Antonello Calderoni e per la ditta Edrevea SpA di Napoli, l’Ingegnere D’Aniello.

Lo sblocco di quel tratto viario significa alleviare la mobilità locale soprattutto per gli utenti residenti in Brusciano. Inoltre vengono migliorate anche le esigenze di viabilità per i generali servizi di emergenza: ambulanze, mezzi dei Vigili del Fuoco e le stesse Forze dell’Ordine e di Pubblica Sicurezza.

L’Assessore Mimmo Esposito ha dichiarato: “Oggi è un giorno di grande soddisfazione per me, per il Sindaco Angelo Antonio Romano e per l’intera Amministrazione Comunale. Poter fare constatare con gli occhi, non solo ai nostri concittadini ma a tutti gli utenti della zona dell’Agro Pomiglianese-Nolano, finalmente l’inizio dei lavori sulle rampe. Lavorando in silenzio, con tenacia, caparbietà, senza manifesti, manifestazioni o altro, abbiamo mantenuto il nostro impegno preso con la popolazione. L’impegno per noi non è una sterile parola ma è la concretizzazione, la realizzazione ed il mantenimento della parola assunta davanti ai cittadini. Ringrazio -ha concluso l’Assessore Esposito- il Prefetto di Napoli, il Consorzio ASI, il Commissario di Governo delle Bonifiche e tutti gli Enti locali partecipanti al tavolo istituzionale della Prefettura. L’impegno dell’Amministrazione Comunale di Brusciano non si ferma qui ma ha già in programma altre mete”. La cerimonia dei lavori si è conclusa con un brindisi augurale, pasticcini e fuochi d’artificio offerti dall’esultante ed emozionato Assessore Mimmo Esposito.

COMUNICATO STAMPA del 29 Ottobre 2009
Responsabile Antonio Castaldo Tel. 081.5218249

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