Tag Archives: Gabrielle Strandquist

It’s good to be the Pope


          Holy father, spiritual leader, vicar of Jesus Christ, and the effective voice of God on earth-all these and more are roles firmly associated with the bishop of Rome, leader of the worldwide Catholic Church.  While the role and purpose of the pope was traditionally intended to pertain to spiritual matters only, history reveals many papacies that were far from being a merely religious office.  Many a pope extended his religion-cloaked influence to heavily shape and control the political outcomes in Europe, all while partaking in many carnal indulgences. 

          From withholding or granting the papal blessing and investiture of newly crowned monarchs, to the use of the papal armies to form new regimes and territories, the papacies of the Roman Catholic Church have been incredibly influential over the political history of Europe and the world at large.  One such pope in particular glitters with a legacy of political regimes, turbulent wars, debauched habits, and the uncanny ability to get away with anything, seen in Rodrigo Borgias, known as Pope Alexander VI.  His unprecedented reign of Europe reached far beyond mere spiritual guidance, and under the deeply revered and unquestionable authority of our Holy Mother Church, he sought to carve out a path to wealth, security, and longevity for his reign.

          From the position of one of Rome’s youngest appointed Cardinals, Rodrigo schemed and ruthlessly bribed his path to papal heights, leading many to remark that he “bought the papacy”. Intelligent, diplomatically skillful, and ostentatiously charismatic, he took the common nepotistic practices of previous popes to new heights.  He carefully appointed his children and anyone else he found to be beneficial to his designs to positions of power and influence, which were acts in direct conflict to church law.

          One such move to secure his reign was seen in Rodrigo’s handling of the French King Charles.  In 1495 King Charles marched his armies of superior power through Milan, Florence, and finally Rome, intent on securing the kingdom of Naples for his own.  Upon reaching Rome Charles intended to procure the papal blessing for his planned usurpation of the crown of Naples.  In the face of this frightening invasion, every single one of Rodrigo’s Cardinals abandoned him, but Rodrigo insisted he would run from nothing and stay at his place in the Vatican.  In a skillful display of manipulation, Rodrigo wielded his power as the “voice of god” to persuade Charles to pass through Rome peacefully, and gave his blessing for the king’s intended actions.  King Charles was awed by his holiness’ portrayal of courage and piety and was pleased by Rodrigo’s seeming encouragement of his usurpation of Naples, and passed through Rome on to Naples quietly. 

          In the midst of his clever scheming, Rodrigo was well known for enjoying himself to the utmost.  In one instance, a fete was held at the home of Rodrigo’s son, known today as The Ballet of Chestnuts.  The pope and his children were joined by 50 prostitutes, who danced naked during the meal as entertainment.  After dinner, chestnuts were strewn across the floor, and the naked courtesans crept on hands and knees amongst them and picked them up in their hands, mouths, and other bodily orifices.  An orgy ensued, with prizes announced for those who could perform the act of sex with the courtesans the greatest number of times.

          The history of political influence from the Pope Alexander VI, is complex, turbulent, and dark.  From the appointing of secular kings, to the promoting of favorites to positions of power, to the partaking in any pleasures he so desired, Alexander IV was both known for far-reaching political influence and for his lecherous and carnal indulgences.  While his every move was propagated as guided by God in the interest of the Holy Church, the agendas of the Borgias pope, as well as many other popes, has been far from strictly spiritual.  From wealth and security to sexual indulgences and political power, the interests of Rome’s bishops are as unspiritual as they are true to humankind and it’s many self-serving desires.

















Sources Cited:

Rath, John R. Borgia. World Book Encyclopedia. 1994 edition. World Book Inc., 1917.

Wilde, Robert. The Borgias. www.about.com Guide. 2013.

www.assassinscreed.wikia. 2013.

commons.wikimedia.org. 2013.

stephenhicks.org. 2011.


Edited by:

Oren Paisner

Kyra Binaxas

Jessica Silvestri





60 years of stardom: The global spread of an Israeli staple.


          Since its invention in 14th century China, the firearm has seen a long and intensive evolutionary process.  Various countries and settlements have vied for the best technology and design.  One particular offering, the Israeli-designed UZI submachine gun, stands out from many others for both its superior design and reliability.  While the UZI enjoyed its status as a military staple in its country of origin, it soon made an impact far beyond its Israeli borders, permeating military, law-enforcement, and security markets across the world.

          After the Israeli Independence War in 1949, the Israeli Defense Force was in search of an improved standard-issue rifle.  Two separate weapons engineers competed for the winning model, resulting in the first edition of the UZI.  The UZI was designed by Uziel Gal, and the model rapidly became loved for its low assembly cost, small number of parts, and above all, its surprising accuracy.  After extensive field testing, it began to emerge in 1954.  It did not stay exclusive to Israel for long, catching the eye of many international firearms communities.  In the 1960s, the UZI was licensed to be produced by Fabrique Nationale d’Herstal, the largest exporter of  military arms in Europe.

          During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli forces soundly defeated the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, taking control of the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.  Under the military brilliance of the Israeli Defense Force, the UZI was solidly put on the map for both the IDF and the world at large.  It was in this war that the UZI first showcased its close-range firepower and its ability to withstand the most adverse of conditions.  From that time on, the world took greater notice of the weapon and its capabilities, and it was eventually exported to 90 separate countries.

           Today, with its 60 plus years in history as one of the most accurate and reliable submachine guns ever seen, the UZI has made its mark far beyond Israel or even Europe, but across the globe at large.  It has been idealized in action movies and created a stir due to its presence at the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.  More importantly, the UZI has remained an international staple from the superiority of its design and performance, continuing to set the bar for what high gun-quality should be.  











Sources Cited:

Israeli Weapons Industries. 2005.

CampCo Inc. 2013.

vBulletin Solutions, Inc. Suarez International USA, Inc. 2013.

18dao.net. November 9th, 2009.

The Specialists Ltd. 2011.

McNab, Chris. The UZI Submachine Gun. Osprey Publishing, November 22, 2011.

McManners, Hugh. Ultimate Special Forces. New York, DK Publishing. 2003.



Edited by:


Oren Paisner

Kyra Binaxas


Shooting ourselves in the foot: Detrimental effects on all, from the mistreatment of some.


          Prosperity and wealth, health and longevity, education and status–these are things universally pursued and desired.  The efforts to improve a society’s development in areas such as power, wealth, and prestige is a continuous and often obscure process.  There are a great many facets of development that factor into why a country is or is not continuing to grow and improve as a whole.  Some of the obstacles to a people’s improvement are issues such as a higher population growth than can be supported by the current wealth of the country and harsh economic habitations which inhibit the ability to flourish without great struggle.  One issue in particular is insidiously stifling due to its often-overlooked and self-inflicted existence, which is the issue of gender inequality, seen distinctly in the suppression and inferior treatment of women.

     The ill-effects of unequal treatment of women show themselves in different forms.  One rather obvious, yet overlooked fact, is that women make up almost half of the world’s population.  For every 100 women there are 101 men, which logically reveals that hurting women’s chances of success hurts half of humankind.  According to studies conducted by the UN, there is not a single country in existence where the treatment of women has been equal to that of men.  The inferior treatment of women is manifested in different areas, including the difficulty or complete illegality for women to establish and improve their economic situations, political voices, work-force presence, and physical health.

          An 18 year old girl named Nita, living in 1996 Kosovo, was captured and raped for several days by members of an invading Serbian militia.  Later tossed to the side of the road, she joined thousands of others fleeing the Serbs.  Desperate to reconnect with her family and former life, she accepted the offered assistance of a man who earned her trust, only to later ship her to Italy where she was sold into human trafficking.  She worked as a prostitute for 6 years, but unlike most in her situation, she had a break in her circumstances and was able to escape her owners.  Nita, pregnant for a second time, was eventually reunited with her husband.  On learning of her fate for the past 6 years, her husband threw her out of his home and back onto the streets.

          Nita’s fate is just one of millions of women who are at best overlooked, at worst oppressed and abused.  History reveals that women are viewed by many societies to have a lesser value than men, and are treated accordingly.  Restricted from education, proper healthcare, and a place in the professional workforce, the life that so many women are subjected to has lead to ignorance and poverty, the rapid spread of disease, and a higher population growth than that which many communities can sustain.  In developed countries where many women have a chance to expand their lifestyles beyond a mere breeding machine, the population growth is accordingly much lower than in most developing countries.

          While it is easy to get caught up in the many other factors inhibiting or advancing a country’s development, it should not be forgotten that the unequal treatment of women in society has deep and lasting damage on a community as a whole.  To promote competitiveness as a country in areas such as education, technological advancements, a sustainable population, and the health of its members, it behooves every community to consider the implications and damage they inflict on themselves by overlooking and mismanaging this valid issue.  To truly begin to excel and improve in development, every society must firmly suspend the tolerance of gender inequalities and seek to improve each and every member of their community. 












Sources Cited:

Rubenstein, James. The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography. Pearson Education Inc. 2014

The Central Intelligence Ageny of the United States. The World Fact Book. Central Intelligence Agency. 2013.

Wikimedia Commons. Discrepancy In Education. WomanStats. May 12, 2011.

Women for Women International. 2013.

O’Brien, Sean. www.womenpriests.org. 2013.

womenmed.wordpress.com. 2013.

Moorehead, Caroline. “Women and Children For Sale”. www.nybooks.com. October 11, 2007.


Edited by:

Alex Bullen

Shae Kovolchick

Kyra Binaxas

Nathan Lee


For the love of water: A sign of the times in a region’s development.


          The small town of Longmont CO, nestled beneath the Rocky Mountains, benefits from a high-elevation water source.  Longmont’s water is principally derived from snowfall high in the Rockies, which melts and finds its way to the Saint Vrain Creek, a 32 mile long river formed from the North and South Saint Vrain creeks in Lyons, Colorado.  As the primary source of water for both Longmont and Colorado at large, the data of annual snowfall is closely monitored to help predict the availability of water for the state in the coming year.  While water, in its most basic sense, is certainly essential to human health and survival, it is also one of the principal sources of low-cost energy available in Longmont, and is sometimes known as hydroelectric powerStudying a region’s energy resource implementations, as well as the resources availability and quality, is one of many fundamental methods by which to measure a region’s development.

          The ways in which energy resources a
re utilized in a given region can tell much about its levels of development.  If a country is seen spending the majority of its energy resources on improving basic human necessities such as medical care, sufficient nutritional intake, and access to clean water, it is marked as a developing country.  If, however, a country spends its energy resources in ways such as advancing its various industries, increasing food production, and the transportation of both people and manufactured goods across inter and intraregional distances, it is a sign of a developed country.  Often, when a country demands a higher use of energy than that which it can reproduce, it is also indicative of a developed country. 

          Hydroelectric power is currently a leading source of renewable energy, and the most popular source for electricity after coal.  While many developing countries rely heavily upon this low-cost source of energy, the majority of developed areas do not utilize water as a main energy source and continue to rely upon non-renewable sources.     Interestingly, while the world’s energy uses are divided roughly in half between developed and developing countries, the population in a developed country is only about one third the population of a developing country.  Since developed areas of the world continue to consume the greatest quantities of energy, and consume it largely from non-renewable sources, it follows that eventually developed countries must begin to look more seriously into renewable energy in order to support their continued development. 

            As in other facets of energy resources, the monitoring of water’s quantity and usage not only tells where a country’s development levels are, but where they may be in future.  If the unsustainable use of resources is allowed to continue unchecked for too long, the effects will catch up with the community.  In the developed region of Colorado, Longmont has access to a clean and high-quality supply of water from its proximity to its neighboring mountain range. This makes it an ideal place to advance its usage of hydroelectric power and to leave behind its reliance on non-renewable energy.  This can only strengthen the area’s potential for greater development, and will promote its longevity and health as a community. 













Works Cited

Rubenstein, James. The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography. Pearson Education, Inc. 2014.

Pereira, Luis. Coping with Water Scarcity: Addressing the Challenges. Springer. 2009.

City of Longmont, Official Government Website. City of Longmont Civic Center. 2002.

Institute for Energy Resource. World Energy Consumption by Source, 2012. BP Statistical Review of World Energy. 2013.

Wikimedia Commons. Human Development Reports. March 18, 2013.

jared-lee.com. August 24, 2011.


Edited by:

Emily Flora

Kyra Binaxas

Jessica Silvestri





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