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December 7, 2012     Post-Gazette
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December 7, 2012

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Page 2 POST-GAZETTE, DECEMBER 7, 2012 by Prof. Edmund Nostra Turiello A weekly column highlighting some of the more interesting aspects of our ancestry.., our lineage.., our roots. THE VIGILS OF OLD ROME PART III During this time in old Rome, serious fires were everyday occurrences. Wealthy persons had much to lose, consequently they kept trained slaves to watch over their personal trea- sures as well as their real estate. The poor tenement dweller lived in constant fear of being roasted alive (actu- ally roasted dead) in the middle of the night. For what it was worth, the only com- pensating factor was that the poor had little or noth- ing to lose and were able to quickly clear out all of their meager belongings. The wealthy certainly could not stuff all of their posses- sions into one bundle. They had their statues, curios, art objects of every description and also their furniture. If you think that things were bad, there's more. Normally darkness fell over the city like a great sin- ister and menacing shadow. Residents hurried home to barricade themselves inside, shops were closed, flower pots were taken in from the window sills, shutters were locked and doors were bolted. Wealthy persons went out with reluctance and were accompanied by their slaves who carried torches to light the way and protect their masters. Squads of "Vigils" patrolled each sector but the same problem prevailed then as it does today; too much to do and too few to do it. Ordinary people were very reluctant to venture out at night, and it was said that "only fools did so without first making out their wills." Additional research seems to indicate that this was the case in the areas away from the main streets. At the crack of dawn each day, things really started to happen. The shops (tabernae) were crowded soon after the doors were unbolted. Street vendors and hawkers sold or bartered their wares, barber chairs were already placed in the middle of the sidewalks and razors were being stropped in anticipation of the first victims. Young students and their teachers took their places under some conve- nient awning or shelter (the little red schoolhouse was still a way off), gold dust beaters and blacksmiths pounded their mallets and the pungent aroma of the piping hot "salciccia" was everywhere. A whole mass of humanity shouted, thrust and squeezed their way through the narrow streets. The pick pockets and cheap feel artists loved every minute of it. This is probably the place and time that gave birth to the famous "pizzico Romano." NEXT WEEK: The Vigils of Old Rome, PartW Greater Boston's Affordabte Private Cemetery Traditional Burial Plot (for 2) Startin00 at $1500 MIC00LCE00TERY COMMUNITYMAUSOLEUMS CREMATORY GARDENCOLUMBARIUMS 500 Conterbury St. 617.524.1036 Boston, MA 02131 Serving the Italian community for over 100 years/ ..... 00%rk in Progress MBTA PUBLIC INFORMATION MEETING REHABILITATION- ACCESSIBILITY IMPROVEMENTS Meeting Wednesday, December 12, 2012 Date: 5:30 - 7:00 PM Meeting 100 Cambridge Street, Location: 2nd Floor, Conference Rooms B,C,D Boston MA Agenda: MBTA project team will discuss the rehabilitation work and accessibility improvements for Government Center Station and the surrounding plaza area, as well as details of the station closure during construction. This meeting space is accessible to people with disabilities. If you need a reasonable accommodation (such as American Sign Language Interpreters, assistive listening devices, handouts in alternate formats, etc.) and/or language assistance to fully participate, please contact John Romano at MassDOT at 857-368-8905 or john.romano @ dot.state.raN.US before December 5th. Such accommodations will be provided free of charge. Res i',Jt ,I ca by David Trumbull Further on Massachusetts Ballot Question 2 On November 6, 2012, the voters of Massachusetts re- jected, by 51%, a ballot ques- tion that would have legal- ized physician-prescribed suicide. Question 2 was vig- orously opposed by the Catholic Church and others who believe that suicide is never the answer. Groups representing the medical profession and advocates for the disabled also opposed. Question 2 illustrated a couple of the reasons why enacting law by popular ini- tiative is inferior, as a pro- cess, to enacting bills in the legislature. The choices on a public policy question may be prop- erly framed as "no" and "yes, under such-and-such terms." Say a bill is filed in the legislature to legalize physician-prescribed sui- cide. Some legislators will be opposed. Others may be open to the idea; for them the job is to work out under what circumstances, and subject to what restraints, it will be legal. Through this process the legislature de- cides both what is to be done and the manner in which it will be done. When a bill is introduced in the legislature amendments may be of- fered; some may be accepted. Bills approved by the legis- lature have been, in many cases, improved by this sys- tem of debate and delibera- tion. On the other hand, a ballot question may be an- swered in just one of two ways, "no" or "yes." A com- plex policy question is re- duced to a single solution, written by the proponents of the initiative, with no abil- ity to improve it by amend- ments prior to passage. That leads to the second flaw in use of the initiative to enact policy. A complex policy question is put to vot- ers who, in most cases, will have given very little, if any, thought to it until shortly before the election. This is especially so considering that ballot questions gener- ate much less press and pub- lic interest than "top of the ticket" races for President and Senator. Unlike our elected representatives who vote on a bill after hearings, debate, and deliberation, vot- ers deciding a ballot ques- tion will, in'many cases, be informed, if at all, by "sound bite" advertisements on ra- dio and television. Polls several weeks out from the election showed the public quite favorable to Question 2. Opponents of physician-prescribed sui- cide could not reasonably expect, in the brief window of public interest, to per- suade voters that not only religious teaching, but also reason and natural law, dic- tate that physicians should not be angels of death. Therefore the opponents, wisely, crafted their public campaign around what they characterized as flaws in the proposal. This had the ad- vantage of persuading some voters, who might not op- pose physician-assisted sui- cide in all cases, to oppose this particular proposal. However, that left the under- lying question not only un- answered, but un-debated. Physician-prescribed sui- cide is, literally, a question of life and death. Such ques- tions require sober reflec- tion, sound education, and serious evaluation. A simple "yes" or "no" ballot question with most of the discussion consisting of little more than "sound bites" is no way to deliberate over, let alone settle, such a policy issue. Cross St00'ee On Friday, December 7 a from 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm, the North End Beautification Com- mittee will be holding a holiday tree light- ing ceremony at the corner of Cross and Hanover Streets. All are welcomeT Hot chocolate and cook- ies will be served and Santa Claus will be making a visit as well! 00hting _'" The North End Beautification Committee is a community-based volunteer organiza- tion with a mission to preserve, maintain and enhance the aesthetic integrity of the historic North End neighborhood with the hope to enrich its beautifica- tion through creative and innovative enhancements. IV2012