Multae Sententiae is Latin for "many thoughts". Free thinking leads to Enlightenment. Enlightenment leads to happiness...

Friday, February 24, 2006 CE


Which is the leap day in the leap year? Many would answer "February 29th". That answer is not correct. As surprising as it could be, the answer is "February 24th". How do we get this answer? The explanation is as follows:

The old Roman Calendar was a lunar calendar. After the addition of February and January, it had a length of 355 days. Every other year an extra month had to be added in order for the calendar to keep pace with the seasons. This month was called Mercedinus, later Intercalaris, and had a duration of 23 or 24 days (or other lengths also, as decided by the Pontifex Maximus). This "leap month" was added after February 23rd. The rest of the February days were placed after Mercedinus ended. This is how the tradition of adding leap days to adjust the calendars to the solar cycle started. Today, we repeat February 24th twice in order to make February a 29 day month every 4 years.

Sunday, February 05, 2006 CE

Where is the modern Prometheus? Who will bring us the fire of knowledge?

Prometheus, in Greek mythology, is the creator of man. He is not only the creator, but also the protector and mentor. He battled against Zeus, who was not interested in the development of human beings past the level of cavemen. In addition, Prometheus realized that man had a survival skill disadvantage compared to the rest of the animals, which had claws for defense; fur to protect them from cold and speed to hunt preys. In order to help humans, Prometheus did not hesitate in deceiving the greater gods. There are 2 stories that make him a famous mythological character. The one in which he makes Zeus believe that he will be getting a great meat meal and men end up getting it while Zeus got the bones and the one in which he steals the fire of the gods to bring light and warmth to humanity.

I relate the first story to social justice. Men, even being poor and hungry, had to offer sacrifices to the gods. Prometheus made them realize that they do not have to give everything, that they can keep sacrifices for themselves because they are products of their own effort. Nowadays, we live in the world of the few elites that concentrate power and wealth and the masses that work for them. Not only workers, but professionals also end up serving masters that decide on a salary, can fire them at will and do not hesitate in reducing benefits in the name of efficiency and productivity. This situation is especially bad in third world countries with capitalist economies, in which the law of free market becomes the “survival of the fittest”. The states with larger degrees of regulation of the economic activity have less unevenness and more social justice.

The second story has a more abstract meaning. In this case, fire and light represent knowledge. Dark are the places where ignorance, superstition and prejudice prevail. By stealing the fire that the gods wanted to keep from themselves, Prometheus gave humanity the best of the gifts, the gift of education. All humans have the potential to be enlightened, however, I see that education lags behind in the ranking of items in national budgets. Building a tank is more important than building a school for those states.

Now, we get to the point in which we can relate the 2 stories. It is easier for an elite, to preserve the present state of social injustice if the masses are uneducated. If you do not illuminate your surroundings with the fire of knowledge, how can you defend your rights? How can you be free of prejudice if you do not see more than your nose? How can you be free of superstition if you live in eternal fear? How can you protect yourself from the liars or the abusers?

The modern Prometheus is inside us. In some people, he is deeply buried below the weight of fear, ignorance and superstition, the triad of the unenlightened. Other people already possess the fire of the gods and they are doing the best they can to distribute it. What we need are more people committed for education and social justice to uncover those captive Prometheus that will assure us the freedom from that triad.
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