Does the president reflect the spirit of the country?

In book VIII of Plato’s Republic, Socrates and Glaucon are discussing a regime which has fallen from the ideal city. This regime, they assert, is now somewhere between an aristocracy and an oligarchy, as a result of faction in its ruling class. They continue to discuss the individual who embodies this regime, in particular, the spirit of the regime. This conversation got me thinking about our own president, and whether he embodies the spirit of our country. I asked myself, “Is it true?” And I believe the answer is “Yes”.

That’s not to say that he represents all of America. But the people who got him elected are certainly the will of the country at this moment. He speaks their language, and shares their values, at least, ostensibly. So in this sense I think he does embody the spirit of the country, or at least the spirit of those who elected him. This is unmistakable in the things he says, for example, things like  “America First” and “there were good people on both sides” (referring to the white nationalists and the counter-protesters).

And I think it’s always the case, that the president of the US embodies the spirit of the country, or at least, those who elected him or her.

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Steven Pinker gives a great explanation of irregular verbs

Here’s a great interview of Steven Pinker, where he gives an illuminating explanation of irregular verbs. He says that there is an “erosion of the stock of irregular verbs” in the generation-to-generation transmission of language. The irregulars that don’t get properly memorized by the next generation are converted into regular verbs using a simple algorithm, such as the -ed suffix for English verbs in the past tense. Thus our minds use two mechanisms for forming words: rule and memory. The tension between these two systems, he says, accounts for much of the quirkiness in language.

«Liban : Saad Hariri reçu à l’Elysée remercie Emmanuel Macron et veut s’exprimer à Beyrouth»

«Liban : Saad Hariri reçu à l’Elysée remercie Emmanuel Macron et veut s’exprimer à Beyrouth»

Lebanon: Saad Hariri received at the Elysée thanks Emmanuel Macron and wants to speak at Beirut.

Reçu par le président français, Emmanuel Macron, le premier ministre libanais démissionnaire a confirmé qu’il se rendrait à Beyrouth pour la fête nationale, mercredi.

Received by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, the resigned Lebanese prime minister confirmed that he would travel to Beirut for the national holiday, on Wednesday.

Emmanuel Macron a reçu Saad Hariri à l’Elysée, samedi 18 novembre à la mi-journée, en tant que premier ministre libanais – ce dernier se considère toujours comme tel malgré1 l’annonce surprise, quatorze jours plus tôt depuis2 Riyad, de sa démission. Il a annoncé vouloir se rendre à Beyrouth, le 22 novembre pour la fête nationale, et c’est là, après avoir parlé avec le président libanais, Michel Aoun, « qu’il fera connaître sa position sur tous les sujets ».

Emmanuel Macron received Saad Hariri at the Elysée, Saturday, November 18th in the afternoon, as Lebanese prime minister — the latter always considers himself as such despite the surprise announcement, fourteen days earlier from Riyadh, of his resignation. He announced that he wanted to travel to Beirut, on November 22, for the national holiday, and it is there, having spoken with the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, “that he will make known his position on all subjects.”

Dans la cour de l’Elysée, à l’issue de3 son entretien avec le chef de l’Etat puis d’un déjeuner « familial », Saad Hariri, qui était accompagné de sa femme et de son fils aîné, a tenu à4 remercier Emmanuel Macron qui, dans cette crise, « a fait preuve d’une amitié infaillible ». Et de rappeler que « la France a montré encore une fois la grandeur de son rôle dans le monde et la région. Elle prouve son attachement au Liban et à sa stabilité ».

In the courtyard of the Elysée, at the end of his interview with the head of state and a “family lunch”, Saad Hariri, who was accompanied by his wife and eldest son, strongly wanted to thank Emmanuel Macron who, in this crisis, “demonstrated an infallible friendship”. And to recall that “France has shown one more time the greatness of its role in the world and the region. It proves its attachment to Lebanon and its stability.”

Il était arrivé samedi matin depuis Riyad. Les deux autres enfants du couple, adolescents, sont restés en Arabie saoudite, où ils résident et sont scolarisés.

He had arrived Saturday morning from Riyadh. The two other children of the couple, adolescents, remained in Saudi Arabia, where they reside and go to school.

Médiation de la France

Mediation of France

« Ahlan wa sahlan ! Bienvenue à Paris Saad Hariri », avait tweeté M. Macron, en postant une vidéo tournée à l’Élysée. Un peu plus tôt, il s’était entretenu au téléphone avec M. Aoun, qui « l’a remercié pour l’action de la France en faveur du Liban », selon5 l’Élysée. Ancienne puissance6 mandataire du Liban, la France a joué les médiateurs et le président français a invité à Paris M. Hariri et sa famille afin8 de tenter de sortir de l’impasse née d’une démission apparemment imposée par les autorités saoudiennes.

“Ahlan wa sahlan [Hello!] Welcome to paris, Saad Hariri”, Emmanuel Macron had tweeted, posting a video shot at the Élysée. A little earlier, he had talked on the phone with Mr. Aoun, who “thanked him for the action of France in favor of Lebanon”, according to the Élysée. Former proxy power of Lebanon, France played the mediators and the French president invited Mr. Hariri and his family to Paris to try to break the impasse from a resignation apparently imposed by the Saudi authorities.

Le séjour prolongé de M. Hariri en Arabie saoudite et le fait qu’il ne soit pas revenu10 au Liban pour remettre11 par écrit sa démission au président, comme le veut la tradition, ont fait l’objet d’intenses spéculations. Le président Aoun l’avait qualifié d’« otage » de l’Arabie saoudite. Dans un tweet, M. Hariri avait affirmé que son séjour à Ryad visait simplement « à mener des consultations concernant l’avenir du Liban et ses relations avec ses voisins arabes ». « Tout ce qui se dit (…) sur mon séjour (…) n’est que rumeurs », avait-il ajouté.

The prolonged sojourn of Mr. Hariri in Saudi Arabia and the fact that he did not return to Lebanon to deliver by writing his resignation to the president, as tradition has it, have been the object of intense speculations. The president Aoun had called him a “hostage” to Saudi Arabia. In a tweet, Mr. Hariri had affirmed that his sojourn in Ryadh was simply “to consult on the future of Lebanon and its relations with its Arab neighbors.” “All that is said about my stay is only rumors,” he had added.

Si la crise13 est, au moins pour le moment, apaisée13 grâce à l’intervention du président français, qui a permis à toutes les parties de sauver la face15, elle est loin d’être résolue. En annonçant sa démission, M. Hariri avait invoqué la « mainmise » du Hezbollah – membre du gouvernement et soutenu par l’Iran – sur la vie politique au Liban, et des craintes pour sa vie, au moment où Ryad fulminait17 contre les ingérences18 prêtées au rival iranien dans la région.

If the crisis is, at least for the moment, appeased thanks to the intervention of the French president, who has permitted all the parties to save face, it is far from being resolved. In announcing his resignation, Mr. Hariri had invoked the domination of Hezbollah — a member of the government and supported by Iran — on the political life in Lebanon, and fears for his life, at the moment when Ryadh was fulminating against interference by the Iranian rival in the region.

« Protéger le Liban des crises régionales »

Protecting Lebanon from regional crises

La confirmation de sa démission, s’il n’obtient pas les garanties19 qu’il souhaite, ferait à nouveau remonter les tensions. « Le Liban a besoin d’un Etat fort pour faire vivre son modèle de coexistence communautaire et il est essentiel de protéger le Liban des crises régionales », souligne l’Elysée, qui évoque une possible réunion prochainement dans la capitale française du groupe international de soutien au Liban, qui réunit notamment les Etats-Unis, l’ONU, l’Union européenne et divers pays de la région – mais aucune date n’a été fixée.

The confirmation of his resignation, if he does not get the guarantees that he wants, would make tensions rise again. “Lebanon needs a strong state in order to live its model of community coexistence and it is essential to protect Lebanon from regional crises,” stresses the Elysée, which evokes a possible meeting soon in the French capital of the international support group in Lebanon, which includes notably the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and many countries of the region — but no date has been fixed.

Mais du propre aveu20 de la diplomatie française, s’il faut préserver le pays du cèdre des tensions régionales, « il faut aussi tenter de les résoudre21 », aussi bien en Syrie qu’au Yémen, et entre l’Iran et l’Arabie saoudite. Jeudi, le chef de la diplomatie saoudienne s’en est violemment pris au Hezbollah. « C’est une organisation terroriste de première catégorie », a-t-il soutenu, l’accusant d’avoir « pris en otage l’État au Liban et d’être devenu un instrument aux mains » de l’Iran. A ses côtés, le ministre français des affaires étrangères, Jean-Yves Le Drian, en visite à Riyad, a déclaré que la France était « inquiète » de la « tentation hégémonique » de l’Iran au Proche-Orient, s’attirant les foudres22 du porte-parole23 de la diplomatie iranienne.

But by French diplomacy’s own admission, if one must preserve Lebanon from regional tensions, “it is also necessary to try to resolve them”, in Syria as well as in Yemen, and between Iran and Saudi Arabia. On Thursday, the head of Saudi diplomacy strongly denounced Hezbollah. “It’s a terrorist organization of the first category”, he said, accusing them of having “taken hostage the state of Lebanon and of becoming an instrument in the hands” of Iran. At his side, the French minister of foreign affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, visiting Ryadh, declared that France was “worried” about Iran’s hegemonic temptation in the Middle East, attracting the wrath of the spokesman of Iranian diplomacy.

1 malgré: despite
2 The word “depuis” can also mean “from”.
3 à l’issue de: after (“at the end of”)
4 a tenu à: in this instance, “strongly/really wanted to”
5 selon: according to
6 la puissance: power
7 le mandataire: proxy
8 afin (à +‎ fin): to, so that
9 le séjour: sojourn, visit, stay
10 revenir: to come back, return
11 remettre: here, “to hand over, deliver”
12 le/la otage: hostage
13 la crise: crisis
14 apaiser: mollify; to appease, pacify, calm
15 sauver la face: to save face
16 loin (+ de): far, distant (from)
17 fulminer: to fulminate
18 ingérence: interference
19 la garantie: guarantee
20 l’aveu (m.): confession, admission
21 résoudre: to resolve
22 le foudre: lightning (literal), anger (figurative)
23 le/la porte-parole: spokesperson

Wonderful versus Wondrous

The difference between these two words is a little tricky. They are largely synonymous, but wondrous is used in more poetic and emotional situations. I think this difference is captured well by the two definitions that Merriam-Webster gives for English language learners (you have to scroll down on their page to see them).


wondrous (adj.)

causing wonder or amazement: very beautiful or impressive

wonderful (adj.)

extremely good

The Burning Bush (Ex. 3:1-4:17)

3:1 וּמֹשֶׁ֗ה הָיָ֥ה רֹעֶ֛ה אֶת־צֹ֛אן יִתְר֥וֹ חֹתְנ֖וֹ כֹּהֵ֣ן מִדְיָ֑ן וַיִּנְהַ֤ג אֶת־הַצֹּאן֙ אַחַ֣ר הַמִּדְבָּ֔ר וַיָּבֹ֛א אֶל־הַ֥ר הָאֱלֹהִ֖ים חֹרֵֽבָה׃

Moses was tending the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock behind the desert, and he came to the mountain of God, to Horeb.

חֹתֵן: father-in-law

3:2 וַ֠יֵּרָא מַלְאַ֨ךְ יְהֹוָ֥ה אֵלָ֛יו בְּלַבַּת־אֵ֖שׁ מִתּ֣וֹךְ הַסְּנֶ֑ה וַיַּ֗רְא וְהִנֵּ֤ה הַסְּנֶה֙ בֹּעֵ֣ר בָּאֵ֔שׁ וְהַסְּנֶ֖ה אֵינֶ֥נּוּ אֻכָּֽל׃

And there appeared to him a messenger of God in a flame of fire, from the midst of the bush, and he saw, and behold, the bush was burning with the fire, and the bush was not consumed.

3:3 וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֔ה אָסֻֽרָה־נָּ֣א וְאֶרְאֶ֔ה אֶת־הַמַּרְאֶ֥ה הַגָּדֹ֖ל הַזֶּ֑ה מַדּ֖וּעַ לֹא־יִבְעַ֥ר הַסְּנֶֽה׃

And Moses said, “I will turn aside and see this great vision, why the bush is not burnt.”

3:4 וַיַּ֥רְא יְהוָ֖ה כִּ֣י סָ֣ר לִרְא֑וֹת וַיִּקְרָא֩ אֵלָ֨יו אֱלֹהִ֜ים מִתּ֣וֹךְ הַסְּנֶ֗ה וַיֹּ֛אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֥ה מֹשֶׁ֖ה וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הִנֵּֽנִי׃

And God saw that he turned aside to see, and God called out to him from the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses,” and Moses said, “Here I am.”

3:5 וַיֹּ֖אמֶר אַל־תִּקְרַ֣ב הֲלֹ֑ם שַׁל־נְעָלֶ֙יךָ֙ מֵעַ֣ל רַגְלֶ֔יךָ כִּ֣י הַמָּק֗וֹם אֲשֶׁ֤ר אַתָּה֙ עוֹמֵ֣ד עָלָ֔יו אַדְמַת־קֹ֖דֶשׁ הֽוּא׃

And he said, “Come not near hither, cast your shoes off your feet, since the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

  1. נָשַׁל: cast off, put off
  2. נַעַל: shoe

3:6 וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אָנֹכִי֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י אָבִ֔יךָ אֱלֹהֵ֧י אַבְרָהָ֛ם אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִצְחָ֖ק וֵאלֹהֵ֣י יַעֲקֹ֑ב וַיַּסְתֵּ֤ר מֹשֶׁה֙ פָּנָ֔יו כִּ֣י יָרֵ֔א מֵהַבִּ֖יט אֶל־הָאֱלֹהִֽים׃

And he said, “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face because he was afraid of looking at God.

  1. סָתַר: to hide, conceal
  2. נָבַט: to look

3:7 וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוָ֔ה רָאֹ֥ה רָאִ֛יתִי אֶת־עֳנִ֥י עַמִּ֖י אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּמִצְרָ֑יִם וְאֶת־צַעֲקָתָ֤ם שָׁמַ֙עְתִּי֙ מִפְּנֵ֣י נֹֽגְשָׂ֔יו כִּ֥י יָדַ֖עְתִּי אֶת־מַכְאֹבָֽיו׃

And God said, “I have certainly seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and I have heard their cry from

מַכְאֹב: pain

Black cherry (prunus serotina)

Sources: Morton ArboretumGateway Green, Wikipedia

As you can see in the second picture, this tree has scaly bark with upturned edges. The bark’s color is dark gray to black. This tree has simple, alternating leaves which are ovular and finely toothed. It produces small, white flowers and pea-sized cherries, both in elongated clusters. The fruit ripens to a color that is purple-black. The leaves turn yellow and orange in the fall. The tree is large, reaching a mature height of 50-60 feet. It is native to the Chicago region, and it is planted in residential areas and parks.

The black cherry has some enemies, such as the black knot fungal disease and the eastern tent caterpillar. It also attracts wildlife, such as cavity-nesting birds, insect pollinators, songbirds and small mammals.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1024px-prunusserotinabark

Is the adjective “biblical” capitalized?

I had a question just now as I was going to sleep — should the adjective “biblical” (or “Biblical”) be capitalized?

Turns out, it is a proper adjective (yes, a grammatical category, unfortunately) and proper adjectives often are capitalized (e.g. Russian, Chinese, Manchurian).

But in this case it is not. Because some proper adjectives lose their capitalization over time, by convention or by other means.

Most commonly, the adjective “biblical” is not capitalized. There’s more about this on a StackExchange question which asks the very same thing.

The things I feel compelled to write down.