Pax Romana


MEANING: (noun)

    1) A peace imposed by a powerful state on a weaker or vanquished state.
    2) An uneasy peace.

ETYMOLOGY: From Latin, literally Roman peace. After the state of peace during the life of the Roman Empire.

“The various inter-office rivalries reached such a fever pitch that a dictate came down from the head office strictly forbidding such behaviors, creating a sort of Pax Romana while actually solving nothing and creating many hard feelings.”

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Signs and Notices

On a ski lift in Taos, NM: ‘No jumping from the lift. Survivors will be prosecuted.’

Official sign near door: Door Alarmed. Handprinted sign nearby: Window frightened.

Road sign seen on the island of Cyprus. (translation of the Greek): ‘Caution: Road Slippery from Grapejuice’

A sign advertising a Company wide skiing race: Let’s see who can go downhill the fastest.

Sign in King’s Canyon in California. ‘Slow Parking Ahead’

A billboard seen next to the highway, travelling from Johannesburg International Airport into town. An Ad for BMW showing a photo of a BMW 328i convertible with the roof and all the windows down. The caption reads:’ Our hardware runs better without WINDOWS!!!’

Two signs found on top of one another in a country kitchen several years ago: Restrooms to the left. Please wait for the hostess to seat you.

Seen in a health food store. “Shoplifters will be beaten over the head with an organic carrot”

“Children left unattended will be towed at parents expense.”

I went to a little hole in the wall restaurant: the sign read: Women are not served here. You have to bring your own.

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Skydiving Blind

A blind man was describing his favorite sport, parachuting. When asked how this was accomplished, he said that things were all done for him: “I am placed in the door with my seeing eye dog and told when to jump. My hand is placed on my release ring for me and out I go with the dog.”

“But how do you know when you are going to land?” he was asked. “I have a very keen sense of smell, and I can smell the trees and grass when I am 300 feet from the ground” he answered.

“But how do you know when to lift your legs for the final arrival on the ground?” he was again asked. He quickly answered: “Oh, the dog’s leash goes slack.”

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Answering Machine Message 203

Despite the best efforts of the telephone company, you really DID reach 555-1234.
But that didn’t help much, did it?
You still have to talk to a machine.

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PRONUNCIATION: (HOH-guhn-moh-guhn)


    (noun) A person having or affecting high power.
    (adjective) Powerful; grand.

ETYMOLOGY: From Dutch hoogmogend (all powerful), from Hooge en Mogende (high and mighty), honorific for addressing States General (legislature) of the Netherlands. Earliest documented use: 1639.

“She’s all grand hogen-mogen one minute and a flirting flibbergib the next.” – Peter S. Beagle; Tamsin; Penguin; 1999.

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Vocabulary (October 19th)

The Medieval Latin word for a bell was “clocca.” So when a device was invented that rang a bell every hour, English speakers called it a “clock.” And when they noticed that a loose outer garment resembled a bell in shape, they called it a “cloak.”

A nagging ethical consideration can seem like a pebble stuck in your shoe: You can’t ignore it, and it won’t go away. So English adopted the Latin word for a small stone, “scrupus,” as “scruple,” meaning “a moral concern, a qualm.” And a person with rigidly heeded ethical principles was said to be “scrupulous.”

Our word “noon” comes from the Latin “nona” (nine). “Nona” referred to the 9th hour after sunrise (3 p.m.), not to 12 p.m., as it does today. The Romans considered the entire period before “nona” (3 p.m.) to be morning (“matinus” in Latin). That’s why the English word “matinee” refers to a performance before 3 p.m.

The ancient Romans compared the sharp pain of remembering and regretting past mistakes to a physical bite. So their word “remordere,” from “mordere” (to bite), meant “to bite again” and, metaphorically, “to feel the sharp pang of guilt or distress over past wrongs.” English adopted this Latin root as “remorse.”

The Romans threshed grain with a “tribulum,” a heavy board that was studded with sharp pieces of flint or iron and dragged over the grain to separate the seed from the chaff. An early Christian writer saw a similarity between the tribulum and the abrasive afflictions of life, so he called such a hardship a “tribulatio,” which became “tribulation” in English.

During the 1600s, a Latin scholar thought it would be a riot to refer to an unruly crowd as a “mobile vulgus,” a Latin term meaning “fickle rabble.” “Mobile vulgus” was soon abbreviated to “mobile” (then pronounced “mah-billy”) and eventually to “mob.” So today’s “flash mob,” convened largely with the use of cell phones and other mobile devices, is a mobile vulgus in more ways than one.

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Today in History (October 19th)

    Today is the 292nd day of the year with 73 to follow.
    Dilbert of the Day

1605: Birthdays: English physician and scholar Thomas Browne.

1781: Britain’s Lord Charles Cornwallis surrendered with more than 7,000 troops to Gen. George Washington at Yorktown, Va., effectively ending the American War of Independence.

1789: John Jay sworn in as first chief justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

1810: Birthdays: Abolitionist Cassius Marcellus Clay.

1812: Napoleon’s beaten French army began its long, disastrous retreat from Moscow.

1876: Birthdays: Baseball Hall of Fame member Mordecai Brown.

1895: Birthdays: Historian and city planner Lewis Mumford.

1920: Birthdays: Actor LaWanda Page.

1922: Birthdays: Newspaper columnist Jack Anderson.

1931: Birthdays: English spy novelist John Le Carre, born David Cornwell.

1937: Birthdays: Pop artist Peter Max.

1940: Birthdays: Actor Michael Gambon.

1945: Birthdays: Actor John Lithgow; Feminist Patricia Ireland; Singer Jeannie C. Riley.

1946: Birthdays: British writer Philip Pullman.

1956: Birthdays: U.S. political figure Grover Norquist.

1960: Birthdays: Singer Jennifer Holliday.

1962: Birthdays: Former heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield.

1965: Birthdays: Television personality Ty Pennington.

1966: Birthdays: Film director Jon Favreau.

1967: Birthdays: Amy Carter, daughter of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

1982: Carmaker John DeLorean was arrested in Los Angeles and charged in a $24 million cocaine scheme aimed at salvaging his bankrupt sports car company. He was tried and acquitted.

1987: The New York stock market suffered its biggest setback, with the Dow Jones industrial average diving 508 points in one session.

1994: More than 20 people were killed in a terrorist bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv, Israel.

2000: Independent counsel Robert Ray said in his final report about the White House travel office scandal that first lady Hillary Clinton gave factually false sworn testimony but he said he lacked evidence for criminal charges.

2003: Pope John Paul II beatified Mother Teresa before hundreds of thousands of pilgrims packed into St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, the last formal step to sainthood.

2005: A defiant Saddam Hussein pleaded innocent as he went on trial in Baghdad on charges of murder and torture during his reign as president of Iraq.

2008: Two weeks before the election, Colin Powell, a Republican and former secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration, endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president. Taliban insurgents pulled 30 men from a bus in Afghanistan and beheaded them, authorities reported.

2009: The U.S. government announced it would no longer prosecute those who use or sell marijuana for medicinal purposes if they were complying with state laws.

2010: At least 30 miners were reported dead with seven missing in a gas-leak accident in a coal mine in China. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his advisers met with Taliban leaders to discuss the end of their nine-year war.

2011: Thousands of Greek workers, angry over a new government austerity program that cuts salaries and pensions and authorizes layoffs, staged a 2-day general strike amid ongoing protests and riots across the country.

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Quotes (October 19th)

“Do not consider painful what is good for you.” – Euripides, Greek playwright

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“Nature never said to me: Do not be poor. Still less did she say: Be rich. Her cry to me was always: Be independent.” – Nicolas de Chamfort, writer (1741-1794)

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Today in History (October 16th)

    Today is the 289th day with 76 to follow.
    Dilbert of the Day

1701: Yale University was founded.

1758: Birthdays: Lexicographer Noah Webster.

1793: Convicted for treason, French Queen Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI, was beheaded on the Place de la Revolution.

1854: Birthdays: Oscar Wilde, Author.

1859: Abolitionist John Brown led a raid on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Va. He was convicted of treason and hanged.

1863: Birthdays: Austen Chamberlain, British statesman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

1868: America’s first department store, ZCMI, opened in Salt Lake City.

1869: The Cardiff Giant hoax — an elaborate prank to prove the existence of a petrified giant in Wales — was discovered.

1875: Brigham Young University was founded in Provo, Utah.

1886: Birthdays: David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister.

1888: Birthdays: Playwright Eugene O’Neill.

1890: Birthdays: Irish revolutionist Michael Collins.

1898: Birthdays: Supreme Court Justice William Orville Douglas.

1900: Birthdays: Baseball Hall of Fame member Goose Goslin.

1916: The nation’s first birth control clinic was opened in New York by Margaret Sanger and two other women.

1923: Birthdays: Orchestra leader and songwriter Bert Kaempfert; Actor Linda Darnell.

1925: Birthdays: Actor Angela Lansbury.

1927: Birthdays: German novelist Gunter Grass.

1938: Birthdays: Actor Nico.

1940: Birthdays: Actor Barry Corbin; Basketball Hall of Fame member Dave DeBusschere.

1946: At Nuremberg, Germany, 10 high-ranking Nazi officials were executed by hanging for World War II war crimes. Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo and chief of the German air force, was to have been among them but he committed suicide in his cell the night before. Birthdays: Actor Suzanne Somers.

1947: Birthdays: Grateful Dead co-founder Bob Weir; Film director David Zucker.

1958: Birthdays: Actor Tim Robbins.

1962: President John F. Kennedy was informed that reconnaissance photographs, collected by a U-2 spy plane two days earlier, had revealed the presence of missile bases in Cuba. This would mark the start of the most fraught 13 days of the 20th Century, the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Birthdays: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Flea (born Michael Balzary) (Red Hot Chili Peppers).

1964: China detonated its first atomic bomb.

1972: A light plane carrying House Democratic leader Hale Boggs of Louisiana and three other men was reported missing in Alaska. The plane was never found.

1973: North Vietnamese diplomat Le Duc Tho and Henry Kissinger, U.S. national security adviser, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their Paris negotiations that led to a Vietnam War cease-fire agreement. Le Duc Tho refused to accept the award, saying “peace has not yet been established.”

1975: Birthdays: Actor Kellie Martin.

1977: Birthdays: Musician John Mayer.

1978: Karol Jozef Wojtyla was elected pope and took the name John Paul II.

1984: Black Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa won the Nobel Peace Prize for his struggle against apartheid.

1991: George Hennard killed 22 people and then took his own life after driving his pickup truck through the front window of Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas.

1998: Protestant David Trimble and Roman Catholic John Hume, political leaders in Northern Ireland, were named winners of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize for their work toward bringing peace to Ulster.

2003: The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed a resolution endorsing a U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq.

2004: The World Health Organization said smoke from home stoves and fires in developing countries had become a major cause of death and disease.

2005: Louisiana state officials were investigating the possibility of euthanasia in 215 deaths at 19 New Orleans hospitals and nursing homes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

2006: U.S. intelligence officials confirmed an underground explosion in North Korea a week before was the test of a nuclear device. The explosive yield was reported less than 1 kiloton of conventional explosives.

2008: A Gallup poll gave Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama a 6-percentage-point nationwide lead over Republican nominee John McCain with less than a month before the election.

2009: U.S President Barack Obama’s approval rating slipped for the third consecutive month, from 54 percent in July to 45 percent in October, a Harris Poll indicated.

2010: France was rocked by another day of massive protests against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to raise the retirement age. Estimates of the number of demonstrators in Paris and 200 other cities neared 3 million.

2011: The U.N. human rights commissioner, branding the Assad regime in Syria as one of ruthless repression and killings, called on the international community to take steps to prevent a civil war in the nation. At least 20 inmates were killed in a riot at a prison in Matamoros, Mexico, started by a fight between two convicts. British race car driver Don Wheldon, 33-year-old two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, died after a 15-car pileup at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

2012: The U.S. Supreme Court refused to block early voting in Ohio. The rejection, a victory for Democrats, meant all Ohio voters, not just the military, would be allowed to vote early on the weekend and Monday before Election Day.

2013: After weeks of bickering, the U.S. House and Senate approved legislation ending a partial government shutdown that lasted 16 days.

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