After growing up hard scrabble in New York City, serving over twenty years in the Rangers and in the Infantry, pulling three combat tours in Nam, I thought I never say that about myself… I’m naïve!
What led me to this realization in general is my training in the the Kosciusko County (Indiana) Reserve Academy.
This is a training academy for men and women who have volunteered to serve their communities as reserved police officers… in other words, taking the same risks as a full-time police officers but serving on their own time and often without pay.
The academy itself is conducted by dedicated, veteran police officers, who are state-certified law-enforcement trainers, and who conduct the academy on their own time.
You might ask why these reserve officers do this. Or, why the full-time officers dedicate hours to training when they could be spending it with their own families.
If you were to ask, you might receive many different answers. But, I believe one answer would be common to all these dedicated men and women… to keep their communities safe.
If you were to ask further, “Safe from what?” you would be suffering from the same degree of naiveté that I was, when I started this journey.
For years, I have been functioning in my community… commuting to work, going to school, going to the movies and restaurants… you can fill in your own blanks. For the most part, crime was invisible to me… never been assaulted… never witnessed a robbery… someone tried to mug me in Cincinnati once, but that didn’t work out too well for the poor SOB.
I have never had to obsess about my safety or that of my family… except of course on Chicago roads.
I guess, after a while, one can go into denial about the existence of a very real evil that hovers around all of us. What affords us that luxury, are the men and women serving our communities as police officers. Their very presence on our streets dissuades criminals from attacking. Fear of arrest and punishment reduces crime.
So, as I stated earlier, thanks to the dedication of the police, I have never had to live in fear of the evil that exists in and preys on our society.
An ironic aspect about police work is, a sign of success is when nothing seems to happen! Law enforcement is most effective when it’s invisible. Everyone is free to enjoy their lives without criminal, and often tragic, interruption.
That was the general basis of my naiveté.
This weekend, the reserve academy was conducting domestic and family violence training. As part of the lesson, the students watched the statement of Lisa Bianco to the police describing what her husband, Alan Matheney, had inflicted on her.
Watching this young woman’s testimony was worse than any Hollywood slasher-horror-murder movie you have ever seen. First, what she described was appalling – her often tearful recounting of beatings, strangulation, rape, confinement, kidnapping – the horrors that Matheney inflicted on this young woman seemed endless.
Secondly, every one of these atrocious acts were real. There was no room for denial here… no tension building up to some dramatic catharsis… “Thank God, this isn’t real!”
Matheney beat and raped this poor young woman and finally, to the shame of all of us, murdered her -beat her to death-in broad daylight in the middle of a peaceful Midwest community!
Had I not seen this, I could have hardly believed it!
Before hearing Lisa Bianco’s heartbreaking testimony, I would not have accepted that any human being could act as Matheney did.
That is one of many specific examples of my naiveté.
That is also a specific reason why I serve as a reserve police officer in my community.
The story of domestic violence in our community can be told through the tragedy of Lisa Bianco.
It’s still happening!
The following is the story of Lisa Bianco based on a 1989 New York Times article recounting her tragic death at the hands of Alan Matheney.
Lisa Bianco, 29 years old, fought Alan Matheney’s jealous attempts to control her. She read up on domestic-violence law, divorced him in 1985 and pursued every option available, from seeking protective orders and filing formal complaints to going into hiding and wearing wigs to disguise herself. Bianco, who was about a foot shorter than the six-foot-tall Matheney, endured hundreds.
“She lived in terror, looking over her shoulder for ten years,” said a friend, Patricia Vandermee. “She never felt safe. She hated to pick up the phone. That fear never stopped.”
The beatings continued after the divorce, friends say. “The harder she tried to get away from him, the more abuse she’d be subjected to,” said Theresa Hans, who grew up with Bianco. Matheney would terrorize Ms. Bianco, be arrested, post bond and return to abuse her again.
Shortly after the divorce, Matheney kidnapped his daughters, Brooke, now ten, and Amber, now six. Bianco filed a complaint against him, and he was arrested in North Carolina several weeks later. While out on bond for the kidnapping, Matheney accosted Bianco, bound her, raped and beat her in an effort to get her to drop the charges.
The next month, while out on bond for that attack, Matheney broke into her house, beat her and tried to strangle her. It was not until that attack, in February 1987, that his bond was revoked and he was confined to the St. Joseph County Jail.
In a plea agreement, the rape and assault charges were reduced to a single count of battery, while the kidnapping charge stood and Matheney was sentenced to eight years in prison, three of them suspended. He was to be released in August 1990.
Bianco planned to leave town and take another identity by then.
“She knew he would kill her,” Hans said. “There was no doubt in her mind.”
Bianco’s fears intensified in early January, when Matheney requested a pass to leave the prison for several hours in his mother’s custody. That pass was denied after Bianco, hearing of the request from his mother, asked the county prosecutor to intervene. Martha Matheney, reacting to her own son’s intimidation, did not warn Bianco of his second request.
Her nightmare came true March 4, officials say, when Alan Matheney got an eight-hour pass from a state prison near Indianapolis. His mother drove him to a small town near the Michigan border, where he broke into his former wife’s house.
He then chased Bianco into the street and, in front of the couple’s two young daughters and horrified neighbors, beat her to death with the butt of a shotgun as she pounded on a neighbor’s door for help.
(From “Inmate on Leave Held in Death of His Ex-Wife.” The New York Times. 12 March 1989. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/1989/03/12/us/inmate-on-leave-held-in-death-of-his-ex-wife.html>.)
Lisa Bianco’s death diminishes us, for we are part of mankind. Therefore, do not ask for whom her funeral bell tolls. It tolls for us. (based on John Donne, Meditation 17)
Vatican City, 7 March 2015 – Vatican sources today disclosed that a rare twelfth-century Latin manuscript was unearthed in the Vatican library thought to be in the handwriting of an unknown Pope, Papa Patricius Primus, or Pope Patrick I, who could be the first and only Irish Pope.
The manuscript is entitled in Latin, De bello adversus sapientiam tractus, which translates, A Treatise Concerning the War Against Wisdom. Pope Patrick condemns those who know a great deal about “things of the physical universe” but don’t have a clue about what they signify.
The manuscript focuses primarily on the conflict between those who believe the earth is flat and those who believe that the earth is spherical. Patrick praises the potential for discourse on the subject but points out that most of the actual debate has degenerated into name calling and accusations of heresy from both side of the issue.
The flat-earthers claim the authority of a literal reading of scripture and threaten to burn the round-earthers at the stake as heretics. The round-eathers dismiss their critics as ignorant, unsophisticated reactionaries. Both sides condemn their opponents to eternity in the deepest pits of Hell.
In order to place the debate in its proper context, Patrick attempts to remind his readers of the traditional difference between the concepts of scientia, knowledge of the physical world, and sapientia, wisdom or knowledge what things mean. Patrick argues that both are necessary to human learning.
Patrick reminds his readers that, as Augustine of Hippo has taught, there is no fault in being ignorant; it’s the state into which all humanity is born. However, to remain ignorant is a failing because it denies the full potential of human reason.
The goal of reason is progress in understanding the essential nature of the universe. This knowledge is called sapientia, wisdom. However, since human experience is limited by the physical senses, the only way to gain sapientia is through knowledge and a careful study of the physical world, scientia.
So, although knowledge of the physical world is necessary to wisdom, to believe that the essence of the physical world is merely self-referential is stultissimus, as Patrick terms it – just plain dumb.
On the other hand, pretending to understand what things mean without the slightest knowledge about what things are, or how they behave, isn’t too bright either.
Returning to the flat earth versus round earth debate, Patrick argues that is doesn’t matter what humans believe – in fact it doesn’t matter whether the earth is flat as a pancake or as round as a wealthy merchant at a banquet. All that matters is that the earth is beautiful and this reflects some greater truth about the universe. Although that greater truth is, according to Christians, the love of the creator, Patrick states that it is not necessary for anyone to arrive at that conclusion as long as they consistently seek understanding.
“To believe we fully know a thing,” Patrick states, “is like a death, because then we never question that presumed knowledge. Therefore, we cease to grow and at that point we begin to die intellectually. The first step towards wisdom is to doubt what one assumes to know.”
Officially, there is no record of any twelfth-century Pope called Patrick. According to the evidence of the manuscript, the writer used a script called later curialis or littera Romana which is consistent with documents produced by the papal curia in the late 11th – early 12th centuries. If the document and its writer can be authenticated, Pope Patrick may have reigned some time after Pope Paschal II, 1099 – 1118 and Pope Innocent II, 1130 – 1143.
According to a study recently released by the Ronald McDonald Institute for Advanced Science and Nutrition, humans on the planet have been getting bigger for the last hundred thousand years – and not by chance.
The findings describe a pattern of increasing body size that cannot be explained by random “drift”, but suggests bigger animals generally fare better.
In the past 142 thousand years, the average size of humans has increased by a factor of 150 with the growth curve rising rapidly since 1940, when McDonalds opened its first hamburger restaurant California. It appears that the explosion of different forms of nutrition from this source, like Super-Size Fries, Big Macs, Egg McMuffins, Chicken McNuggets, and McCafé Shakes has speeded humanity decisively towards realizing its evolutionary destiny.
And, this increase in size is perfectly consistent with evolution and natural selection.
Measured by volume, today’s human weighs two tenths more than its medieval counterpart and a third more than humans during the time of the Caesars.
The idea that natural selection might lead to animals gradually gaining weight is far from new. It is set out in a proposal known as “The Professor’s Rule,” after the lovable, bearded scientist-type character in a lab coat, who appeared in McDonald’s commercials. The rule postulates that population lineages tend to increase in body size over evolutionary time.
Dr. I. M. Stout, a senior fellow and researcher from Ronald McDonald University, set out to give The Professor’s Rule its most thorough test yet – in the increasingly vast realm of humanity.
He enlisted the help of graduate students, undergraduates, high school interns, and long-haul truck drivers to scour the scientific record for the application of cholesterol-laden foods and trans-fatty acids as they correlate to body size and discovered that there is an unmistakable relationship that seems to be linear. In other words, the more a human eats the larger the human becomes.
But, Dr. Stout argues, this is not a bad thing as many try to portray it. It is actually speeding up the natural evolutionary path of humanity.
“The degrees of increase in both mean and maximum body size just aren’t well explained by neutral drift,” said Dr. Hungry. “It appears that it is connected to active evolutionary process of consuming large amounts of high fat foods that promotes larger sizes.”
As for what those benefits of extra bulk might be, the researchers cannot be sure – but larger species likely took advantage of being able to move slower, waddle better, and eat ever larger helpings of food.
“Big is better,” winked Dr. Stout as he faced a Bacon McDouble.
De Re Gabiniana – The Gabinian Affair – is the first novel in the Gaius Marius Chronicle, the memoir of a retired Roman soldier, Gaius Marius Insubrecus, a legionary who fought with Caesar throughout his Gallic campaigns and the Roman civil wars, and who then supported Caesar’s son and heir, Octavius, in his struggle against Caesar’s murderers and finally against Antonius and Cleopatra.
The Gabinian Affair recounts the events leading up to Insubrecus’ decision to join the Roman Tenth Legion immediately before Caesar’s Helvetian campaign. The narrative recreates a colorful and culturally complex portrait of ancient northern Italy, the Po Valley and the city of Mediolanum, whose Celtic population is struggling with its own identity after more than a hundred years of Roman rule.
Gaius Marius Insubrecus is the younger son of a Romanized Gallic farmer and a Roman mother, Valeria, who has great ambitions for the success of her son in the Roman world. Through the well-meaning machinations of his mother, Gai is thrust into the maelstrom of Roman politics, corruption and murderous vengeance of the late Republic.
Gai finds himself the ward of an ambitious Roman senator, Aulus Gabinius, with whose daughter, Gabi, he falls hopelessly in love as only a sixteen-year-old boy can. Gai is helped by his mentor, Quintus Macro, an injured Roman soldier, who manages the Gabinius estate, and by Rubia, the madam of a back-street lupinarium in Mediolanum .
Meanwhile, the influence of Gaius Iulius Caesar, the Consul of the Roman Republic, under whose patronage Gai’s family lives, casts a faint but unmistakable influence over the events of Gai’s life.
Readers are invited to conduct pre-publication reviews of the novel.
The task is simple… just read the novel and provide the author with your observations and comments.
Those who are interested should contact the author through this website. You will receive a copy of the manuscript and a short questionnaire through email.
Two scientific teams, one in Canada and the other in Britain, studied Pacific herring in Bamfield, British Columbia, and Atlantic herring in Oban, Scotland. Both the Atlantic and Pacific male herring create a mysterious low-frequency, rumbling underwater noise by releasing a high-pressure stream of gas from their anuses. The release is always accompanied by a fine stream of bubbles.
Researchers suspect herring hear the bubbles as they’re expelled, helping the fish decide which fish should be invited into the more refined schools and other fishy social gatherings. It may also have some relationship to herring mating rituals. The researchers named the phenomenon Fast Repetitive Tick, or FRT. Scientists say, unlike the human version, these FRTs are thought to bring the fish closer together.
According to Dr. Penny Arcade of Canadian Advanced Study of Herring (CASH), FRT phenomenon may help humanity understand itself and its biological origins better.
“It’s generally accepted that all life on earth originated in the oceans,” Arcade asserts. “Perhaps the propensity of males of the human species to establish predominance by farting has its source in primitive communications strategies.”
Arcade points out that the FRT of the herring seems to have some connection with the social hierarchy of herring schools, the dominant males blowing off the most frequent and forceful FRTs.
“Think of it!” Arcade points out. “These behaviors can still be seen in modern human males, especially in pubs, locker rooms and chili parlors.”
Not everyone in the scientific community embraces the conclusions of the FRT study. Sawyer Tooshie, a graduate student at Walter Mellon Patch University, not only doubts that Herring FRT, but also that it has anything to do with modern human behavior.
“I reviewed the entire study.” Tooshie states. “The conclusions ignore totally the behaviors of the female herring, who seem strangely tolerant of the male FRT. Could you imagine such behavior among human females? One good toot during a lecture or a classical concert, and every woman in the place is heading for the exit. The whole thing smells!”
On a related issue, the Massachusetts Institute for Climate Change, noting that herring tend to school in cold waters near the Arctic Circle, has recently issued a statement relating global warming and the dramatic reduction of the northern ice pack to Herring methane.