7-14-17: French President Welcomes Doughboys

This year’s celebration of Bastille Day, France’s national holiday, marks an important anniversary in the history of France and in the Franco-American relations. One hundred years ago, American president Woodrow Wilson committed American troops to the conflict primarily being fought on the European continent, later to be known as World War I. Ultimately, the Americans’ entry into the war proved to be a decisive factor leading to the signing of the armistice and the defeat of the Axis powers. In commemoration, the annual parade through Paris will be led by American servicemen wearing the uniforms of their compatriots one century before.


“Allegheny Gators”: N. America’s Largest Salamander

Gators in the Allegheny River? Not really gators, but slimy, flattened amphibians known as “Hellbenders” live in the rivers and streams throughout Appalachia. Hellbenders deserve attention and not simply for their slimy-ness. Because Hellbenders sit on the bottom of riverbeds and breath through their skin, they serve as good indicators of the overall health of a river system.

The following youtube clip shows the patience and care that is needed so as to not disturb their habitats, filmed in wild, wonderful West Virginia.

SCOTUS Rules 7-2: Trinity Lutheran v. Comer

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled this week that Trinity Lutheran Church of Cumberland, MO, is in fact eligible to receive grant monies from the state of Missouri for renovations of a playground owned by the church.



Translating Harry Potter from British English: Making the Translator Work

Celebrating twenty years since the release of the first Harry Potter novel, the following video sheds light on the difficult task presented to translators in translating the novel into other languages. Discussed are not only the linguistic sacrifices that must be made in the process of translation, but also the cultural adaptation in order to make the story suitable for a new audience. The novel (in English) is replete with assonance and alliteration, word play, and ironic twists of logic. Whether or not such features transfer into the new language/ linguaculture depend largely on the characteristics of the language’s phonetics and cultural resonances.

Pre-human Find in Moroccan Desert Forces a Rethinking of Human Evolution

Thanks to improvements in technology and science, experts now believe that skull fragments found in the Moroccan desert are 300,000 years old, rather than 95,000 years old. As such, the fragments would be the oldest evidence of homo sapien life, anywhere in the world. The implications of such a finding are revolutionary: East Africa would no longer be thought of as the birthplace of human kind, nor would it be believed that one such unique location exists. Rather, humans took form in multiple locations on the African continent. Further findings and implications of such paleoanthropologic work will be crucial to our understanding of humanity’s development.

NYT: Oldest Fossils of Homo Sapiens Found in Morocco, Altering History of Our Species

Perfect Game Pitched by H.S. Softball Star

On May 26, 2017, Cedar Grove (NJ) sophomore Mia Fiaeta achieved the rare (unparalleled?) feat of pitching a perfect game, striking out each of the 21 batters she faced in the seven-inning game. It remains unknown whether such a feat has been achieved by another pitcher, at any level, in men’s baseball or women’s softball, in any country, ever.


2017: 500 Years since The Reformation

In 2017, five hundred years have passed since the seminal moment in Western civilization: the Protestant Reformation. In 1517, Martin Luther, the cantankerous German theologian, authored his famous 95 theses against the Catholic Church and dogma, launching what would be an unending re-examination of faith, society, and power in societies of Western civilization.

Luther’s theses primarily focused on addressing what he saw as problematic elements in the Christian faith as practiced in his day. What resulted is a schism that has since birthed 45,000 unique denominations of Christianity worldwide. The centuries between Luther’s declarations and the present day have been anything but peaceful, a reality that Christians today must not forget. Nor should Luther’s anti-Semitism and inspirational influence on Germany in the twentieth century be forgotten.

Luther’s theses achieved a widespread readership due to the newly invented printing press, which ushered in an era of transnational interconnectedness and intellectual flourishing in European society. Moreover, his message facilitated a democratization of theology and an opening within the church of greater participation of laymen, and ultimately, laywomen. Five hundred years on, the spirit of Luther’s writings have become embedded within the fabric of Western societies: equal participation of the masses in societal institutions, a requisite tolerance for critiques of power, and a realization that the Protestant church is Reformed but always reforming to perfect its reflection of the Christian message in an ever-changing world.


2,000 Year Old Computer Evinces Innovation

In 1902, a shipwreck off an island in Greece was explored and a metal contraption was found and brought on land. The contraption contained two dozen intricately connected gears. For a century, scholars and engineers speculated on its original use without reaching a consensus.

Renewed interest in the twenty-first century has produced evidence-based arguments that the mechanism was used to calculate a prediction on the location of the celestial bodies at a give moment in future time. It is now believed that its complex system of complimentary gears represents humanity’s earliest mechanical calculating instrument, known as the Antikythera Mechanism, named after the location of the Greek shipwreck. Evidence of similar mechanization doesn’t appear within European society again until the 1600’s. As such, our appreciation continues to expand of the intellectual and technological advancements of Ancient Greece, and should compel society to consider the forces that led to such a lengthy interval of the absence of such technologies.


100 Top Employers of Ohioans in 2017

Hospital chains, universities, and retailers figure prominently in the list of Ohio’s top employers as measured by number of workers employed by the organization.


500 Years After Expulsion, A Synagogue Opens

Historians believe that Jews had been living in Sicily for 15 centuries, in fifty-one communities on the island. In 1492, Jews were expelled from Sicily. It is estimated that 35,000 people were expelled, and 5,000 others chose to remain in Sicily while accepting conversion to Catholicism. One church in Palermo’s historically Jewish quarter has offered an unused chapel to be dedicated as a synagogue. The synagogue is reported to be the first to open in Sicily. This one small action, centuries after the expulsion, deserves praise and careful study.