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February 15, 2013     Post-Gazette
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February 15, 2013

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Page2 POST-GAZETTE, FEBRUARY 15, 2013 Stirpe Nostra by Prof. Edmund Turiello A weekly column highlighting some of the more interesting aspects of our ancestry.., our lineage.., our roots. THE Clay is said to be virtu- ally indestructible. Consid- ering the time frame re- ferred to herein, indestruc- tible is an appropriate refer- ence. The age of most clay can be counted in millions of years, whereas the baked and sun dried artifacts discovered in the mounds of Mesopotamia are at best five thousand years old; a mere blip in the passage of time. When properly baked, bricks or pottery can with- stand the forces of the ele- ments without any damage whatsoever. Jars that were made from different clay mixtures and varying de- grees of heat are found in the ruins of most ancient cities. Oh how fortunate are those persons who can read the ancient jars as we can read a newspaper; the texture of the clay that was used, the glaze, the shape of the object, its deco- ration and the probable method of baking, all tell a beautiful story to the trained eye. Even unbaked products made from good quality clay will last indefi- nitely if protected from ARCHIVES OF THE WORLD the disintegrating forces of nature. The rivers of ancient times contained no pollution as we know it. Much of the river clay was of a very good quality because it was washed clean by nature. Poor quality clay could be used for fine pottery or clay tablets only after being given additional washing by placing it in water and stir- ring. Small particles of wood, straw and leaves floated to the top and could be easily scooped off. Pebbles and sand sank to the bottom and were later discarded. A fundamental character- istic of clay or unbaked clay products is that they shrink when they are dry and they expand when they are moist. Libraries as we know them are rows of books on shelves. Libraries of ancient Mesopotamia were many sun dried clay tablets placed in kiln baked clay jars. Imagine for a moment the discovery of a jar that has been unearthed after two or three thousand years. The jar has retained its shape and size but the unbaked contents have expanded to distortion and removal of the contents is impossible without breaking the jar. Fortunately, the distorted tablets can be re-dried, brushed clean and can once again be made readable. The contents of the jars are much more valuable than the jars themselves. Fortu- nately also, is the fact that a carefully split jar can be re-glued with not too much loss in value. The history of the United States is recorded and safely stored in the National Archives in Washington, D.C.; any desired informa- tion can be obtained by go- ing to the proper vault, the proper shelf and the proper volume. It is my Conten- tion that the history of the civilized world is recorded and safely stored in the mounds of Mesopotamia. Any desired information can be obtained by going to the proper mound, the proper depth and the proper clay tablet, just be sure to bring along a sun hat and a long handled, pointed shovel. NEXT ISSUE: The Mounds of Mesopotamia Res Publica by David Trumbull The Legacy of President Washington "[I] am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire." -- George Washington, in 1796, announcing his intention to retire after two terms as President. Monday is WASI-IINGTON'S BIRTHDAY, a federal and state holiday to honor the hero of the Revolutionary War, the Fa- ther of His Country and the first President of the United States. Much has been said and written about Washington's character and his influence, for the good, on the founding, and maintaining in its first years, of our Republic. In par- ticular, it has been noted that Washington's decision to step down voluntarily, rather than serve as President for Life, revealed not merely his personal humility, but his deep trust in our Republican form of government. Washington was per- suaded that our Constitution, which he called "sacredly obli- gatory upon all" would always guarantee that we'd be a free people. And so shall we be, so long as the people hold our officials bound to their oaths to uphold the Constitution. Of the 43 men to serve as Chief Executive of the Union, only Washington is so singled out for honor with a federal holiday. That many persons now call the third Monday in FebruaxSr "Presidents Day" is an indicator of our lack of dis- crimination and devaluing of true accomplishment and fame. To put it in perspective, Catholics believe that each of the 265 popes was the Vicar of Christ on Earth, infallible in mat- ters of faith and morals and yet fewer than 80 have been added to the calendar of saints. No less erudite writer than Dante Alighieri placed some of the popes in Hell. "He who made the great refusal" in Canto 3 of Dante's Inferno is gen- eral considered to be Pope Celestine V. Celestine's abdica- tion of the Throne of Peter in 1294 was, in the view of Dante, an abdication of his responsibility to the Church and shirk- ing of his duty to God. It lead to the election of Pope Boniface VIII, in Dante's opinion, a very bad Pope. Washington's refusal to continue in office was anything but a shirking of duty. He knew that under our Constitution the President may change, but the People always are sover- eign. He fulfilled his responsibility to the People, first by his conduct as President, and, finally, with his Farewell ,Address. It is his treatise on how to maintain the free popular gov- ernment we enjoy as Americans. Every America should read and reflect on Washington's sage advice in that speech. CONSULATE GENERAL OF ITALY BOSTON 2013 GENERAL ELECTIONS The Consulate General of Italy informs that the elections to elect representatives to the Chamber of Deputies and to the Senate of the Republic will be held on February 24 and 25, 2013. Italian citizens residing in the United States and registered in A.I.R.E. (Registry of Italians Resident Abroad) and certain categories of Italian citizens, who are temporarily in the United States, may vote by mail in the February 24 and 25, 2013 elections. To all eligible Italian citizens residing in this jurisdiction, the Italian Consulate in Boston has mailed a voting package which contains the ballot forms and the instructions. In case you did not receive the above package, you should contact the Consulate in order to verify your electoral status and, if necessary, request a duplicate. The Consulate will be open to the public on Saturday, February 16 t" and Sunday, February 17 t", 2013 from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm for questions concerning the political elections only. Voters must return the ballots in the sealed envelope to the Consulate no later than 4:00 pm, Thursday, February 21, 2013. The Consulate General in Boston can be contacted for any clarifications at the following telephone number: 617-722-9220 (AIRE Office) or by fax 617- 722-9407 or by e-mail: For further information, please visit wll;ite: www. con s boston, este ri. it CONSOLA TO GENERALE D'ITALIA BOSTON ELEZIONI POLITICHE 2013 II Consolato Generale d'Italia in Boston comunica che il 24 e 25 febbraio 2013 si votera' per il rinnovo del Parlamento italiano. I cittadini italiani residenti all'estero ed iscritti all'A.I.R.E. (Anagrafe Italiani residenti all'estero) ed alcune categorie di connazionali temporaneamente all' estero possono partecipare alle elezioni del 24 e 25 febbraio 2013. II voto si esprime esclusivamente per corrispondenza. A ciascun elettore residente nella circoscrizione di Boston il Consolato ha inviato per posta un plico elettorale con le schede e le istruzioni. Chi non avesse ricevuto il plico elettorale puo' contattare il Consolato per verificare la sua posizione elettorale e richiedere eventualmente un duplicato. II Consolato sara' eccezionalmente aperto sabato 16 e domenica 17 febbraio 2013 dalle ore 10.00 am alle ore 1.00 pm per le sole questioni inerenti le prossime elezioni politiche. L'elettore dovra' spedire le schede votate al Consolato entro e non oltre le ore 4.00 pm di giovedi" 21 febbraio 2013. II Consolato Generale di Boston - che resta a completa disposizione per qualsiasi uiteriore informazione - puo' essere contattato ai seguenti recapiti: 617-722-9220 (telefono Ufficio AIRE), (fax) 617-722-9407 o a mezzo posta elettronica: Per maggiori informazioni si prega di visitare anche il seguente sito: