Friday, November 20, 2015

Enjoying a Big Mac--in Latin!

A Latin translation of the ingredients of a Big Mac

Two All-Beef Patties
     duo isicia solum bubulae

Special Sauce
     embamma speciale





On a Sesame-Seed Bun
     in collyride cum seminibus sesami

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Why Diesel Deserves the Legion of Honor...

A faithful police dog named Diesel gave her life in the efforts to thwart a follow-on attack to the Paris Attack of November 13, 2015.

I feel the dog should be awarded the Legion of Honor. She was the only fatality of an impressive operation that stopped a terror cell poised to attack in a similar fashion.

The United States Government holds as official policy that animals cannot receive military awards.

And this rule was created after it had already happened on at least two occasions. Importantly, the rule excluding any future military awards to animals did not retroactively strip the awarded animals of their honors. It only stated that it should not ever happen again in the future. I disagree.

Sergeant Stubby

The first highly decorated dog in US Military History is Sergeant Stubby. He is thus called because he was apparently actually given rank in the fog of World War I. This animal was wounded numerous times in battle and was awarded in the field with the "Wound Stripe," the predecessor of the Purple Heart.


Chips was a dog who served in World War II and distinguished himself during the invasion of Sicily. For initiative, gallantry, and injury in combat, this dog was awarded in the field the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart.


Quite unofficially, a dog that served in Afghanistan and was injured in the line of duty was given a purple heart by a soldier who had earned two. Is that valid? Does that mean that the dog has a Purple Heart? I would say someone with two Purple Hearts can validly pass one to a worthy recipient.

At the end of the day, well trained animals like Diesel serve us humans with loyalty and distinction. And in the case of Diesel, they have served us unto their deaths.

This faithful police dog obeyed orders that day and rushed into the danger. This faithful police dog gave her life. She deserves the Legion of Honor from a grateful nation.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

"First of the Storm" - What Does the Self-Proclaimed Islamic State Mean By This Threat?

The self-proclaimed Islamic State, in a French communique taking credit for the Paris attacks, states that this is but the:

début de la tempête
"First of the Storm."

This is actually not a very good translation of the Arabic original. And I believe the Arabic original is where we really need to focus our interpretive energy to possibly determine their future planning.

The Arabic original of their threat is that [the Paris attacks are]:

أول الغيث (awwal al-ghayth)


A better English translation would be:

"First of the Heavy Rain."

But the important point in understanding their threat is that this phrase is a quote from a well-known Arab proverb:

أول الغيث قطرة (awwal al-ghayth qaTrah)

"The first (thing) of a heavy rain is a (single) raindrop."

This is a proverb roughly equivalent to, for instance, "Every journey must begin with the first step."

Native speakers of Arabic who hear "أول الغيث (awwal al-ghayth)" likely know the proverb and its true meaning. 

 The normal word in Arabic for "storm" is:



The fact that the communique does not use the normal word and instead quotes this proverb may be telling. The proverb is not focusing so much on the severity and intensity of the storm itself, but rather on the abundance of the raindrops.

If the Paris attack is but the first drop of a heavy rain shower, the communique seems not to be threatening more severe attacks. Rather, it is threatening abundant attacks, even small ones, all of which will add up to an "abundant rain."


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ciprian Calciu and Mariana Lăcrămioara Pop - May They Rest in Peace / Odihnească-se în pace

If you don't know Romanian you wouldn't have ever known about the lives of Ciprian Calciu and Mariana Lăcrămioara Pop, two Romanian citizens who died last night in the terrorist attacks in Paris. To honor their memory, I will describe them in English so that a wider world may know their story.

Ciprian Calciu (32 years old) came from Tulcea, a city near the Danube Delta in Romania. He was a graduate from the Henri Coandă Technical College.

Mariana Lăcrămioara Pop (29 years old) came from Baia Mare, a city in the North-West of Romania. She was a graduate of the Anghel Saligny Technical College. 

They had both moved to France seeking a better life and work opportunities. And there they met each other and fell in love. Ciprian was working as a mechanic for an elevator company; Mariana was working as a bartender. They have a son, one and half years old.

Last night, they went to an anniversary party with friends at the restaurant La Belle Équipe. Their son was at home, being cared for by Mariana's mother. Also at home was Mariana's eleven year old daughter from a previous marriage.

The two were enjoying the party together with their friends when terrorists from the self-proclaimed Islamic State burst in firing bullets into the space. Ciprian and Mariana, along with 17 other people, died in that attack.

They were two beautiful people working hard to build a life for themselves and their children. They did not deserve for their lives to be cut short by this senseless brutality.

France has declared itself to now be at war. And I believe we need to stand beside our oldest ally.

But in this moment, I just pray for Ciprian and Mariana in the words of our Orthodox tradition. And I invite you to pray for them and their loved ones, as well as all who have died and were injured in these attacks.

Veşnica Pomenire.
Memory Eternal.

în loc luminat, în loc cu verdeaţă, în loc de odihnă.
In a Place of Brightness, in a Place of Verdure, in a Place of Repose.

Odihnească-se în pace.
May They Rest in Peace.

Henri Co
Henri Coandă
Henri Coandă
Henri Coandă

Friday, November 13, 2015

Casus Foederis - Casus Belli : The Case for the Alliance - The Case for War

Article 5 of the NATO Treaty allows a member nation to claim that an armed attack against one member is an attack against all. This holds the implication that all members are bound to respond militarily if the offended member decided to choose that route.

This is known, in Latin as the Casus Foederis, Latin for "The Case for the Alliance." (Literally "The Case of the Alliance.")  The Alliance includes accepting responsibility to go to war if the Alliance is thus triggered into action.

The NATO treaty members were triggered to war only once, so far. The United States invoked Article 5 after the 9/11 attacks. And NATO members dutifully participated in a number of military actions in Afghanistan as a result.

As I write this post, we are watching the death toll in the Paris attacks grow by the minute. And the fact is, France has every right, just as the USA did, to invoke Article 5 at this moment. They have been grievously attacked by an entity that calls itself a State. (I'm assuming, but I'm right, that this attack will eventually be deemed ISIS related.)

The term Casus Belli is Latin for "The Case for War." (Literally "The Case of the War.") This refers to an event that is used as a pretense for embarking on a war. Julius Caesar used the migration of the Helvetian people as a Casus Belli to invade and conquer Gaul. The United States of America used the explosion of the USS Maine as a Casus Belli to start to the Spanish-American War. (Granted, it is not at all clear that Spain had anything to do with the destruction of that ship.)

The fact is, the events of this day may very well be both a Casus Belli for France and a Casus Foederis. History may look upon today as a crucial juncture in the flow of this war.

We Americans must never forget the significant assistance France rendered us in our War of Independence. Did we repay that in WWI? Certainly. Did we repay that in WWII? Certainly. Is our debt to them cancelled? Never. We are friends forever. However they choose to respond to this attack, we must stand beside them.



Monday, November 9, 2015

To Kill or Not to Kill—Baby Hitler

Jeb Bush on the campaign trail took the bait on a ludicrous question and today responded to whether or not, could he go back in time to do so, would he kill "Baby Hitler."

His response, which I rather doubt his handlers had previously anticipated and coached him on, was, "Hell, yeah, I would! You gotta step up, man!"

The proper answer, in case you're wondering, and I write this fully knowing I may forever turn off a significant percentage of potential readers of this blog or of my books, is:

"Of course not."

Here's why.

If, by the phrase, "Baby Hitler," you mean the Baby who brutally committed genocide, well there's no such thing. 

The Baby—who eventually grew up to become the man who committed murderous genocide—was an innocent. It had not committed any genocide.

If one believes that the taking of innocent life is justified if it effects some change in the time continuum that prevents worse evils, then where will we accept that a line should be drawn?

If our time machine could only drop us off ten years before Baby Hitler's birth, is the murder of his mother then justified?

Now, don't get me wrong, I firmly believe that the efforts of German Lutheran Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who participated in an attempt to assassinate Adolph Hitler, were fully justifiable.  And I myself worked for four years at the NSA after 9/11, fully knowing that intelligence I produced was intended to result at times in the deaths of our adversaries.

I am a devotee of my Lord who told me to "turn the other cheek" (Matt 5:39), but I also hold that the Just War Doctrine absolves those who struggled and died to stop the Nazis. I hope and pray it absolves me of my actions.  

For the killing of "Baby Hitler" to be morally justifiable,  it would have to satisfy all the criteria of a "Just War." Even though I am not a Roman Catholic, I find the definition of a Just War as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church to be an authority on the topic (Paragraph 2309):

* the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

Right here, the defense of killing Baby Hitler already falls short. "Inflicted" is a past tense verb. The damage has not happened. 

* all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

Such as Neville Chamberlain not proclaiming "Peace for our Time" with his policy of Appeasement?

* there must be serious prospects of success;

One can never know whether Hitler created the times or the times created a Hitler.  Kill that baby and maybe it just means another thug leads the Nazis.

* the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated (the power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition).

And here, finally, is the deepest Caveat of all. We simply can never know what world we would live in today if a Time Machine allowed someone to kill "Baby Hitler." Hitler may have been the dullest thug of all the potential murderous tyrants who could have seized Europe in the 1930's. Or the brightest. But we don't know. And all of the above is why killing "Baby Hitler" can not be justified morally.

And so, as we approach Veterans' Day. God bless the sacrifice and service of those who need not ever second guess the violence they had to inflict in order to oppose the evil of the Nazis.

Requiescant in pace.

Dona nobis pacem.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Taste of Champagne!

Check out the Etsy of enormously creative people I have met through my Crossfit Gym. Handmade, one of a kind items made by Ruth Champagne and her daughter Tori.

They make fun things such as holiday-themed glass sets and personalized t-shirts.

Ruthie is a treasure and a bundle of energy, who makes surprisingly intricate balloon art for children at events of our gym.

God Speed, Taste of Champagne!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Milo of Croton--A Model for Crossfit...

Making the rounds in Crossfit Circles for a number of years has been the story of Milo of Croton picking up a bull calf at infancy and then picking it up every day until it was fully grown, an apparent lesson in the ability to incrementally increase weight lifts until they are extraordinary.

Milo of Croton is essentially an ancient Greek Paul Bunyan. He is very probably an historical person around whom incredible tales of physical prowess collected.

Very interesting to me is the story of how he met his demise. Milo reportedly came upon a tree trunk split into wedges. When he inserted his hands to split them, they somehow shifted and crushed his hands, trapping him. Unable to escape, he died, devoured by wolves.

It's the ultimate tale of hubris followed by dike, judgment.

There was very likely a great athlete named Milo from Croton. However he met his end, rest eternal upon his soul. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Made in Wisconsin: Al Molinaro

This day, we mourn the loss of a treasure from Wisconsin.

Actor Al Molinaro, born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on June 24, 1919, passed away today in a Wisconsin hospital, October 29, 2015. He was 96 years old. 

Like him, I was born in Wisconsin. I hope and pray I die there like he did.

He was an actor of note, but best known for playing the owner of Arnold's on the show Happy Days for many years.

Rest in peace, Al. Memory Eternal. Resquiescas in pace.


Halloween Costume 2015

I used my beard as an accessory, combined with other items, to dress up as "Moses" today. If there is a "Individual Male Faculty" category in the costume contest, I think I have a good chance to win!