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The Evolution of Rod Blagojevich's Favorite Phrase

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Back in 1967, tough-talking Chicago journalist Mike Royko concocted a new slogan for the City of Strong Shoulders—"Ubi Est Mea," or: "Where's mine?"

Although Mike's phrase has had a good run, I think it's time the Windy City got a new Latin M.O., inspired by Illinois' favorite windbag, Governor Rod Blagojevich.

"Carpe Momento," or: "Seize the moment."

A look back at Blago's political career reveals a certain fondness for these rather tragically clichéd words—not only did he employ them during his State of the State Address in 2004, 2005 and 2007, but also on myriad occasions throughout his political career: from urging action in restricting gun sales to fixing the city's crumbling transit system.

My personal favorite utterance, however, occurred in 2003, when Blago pledged to tackle state corruption: "We have to seize this moment and enact meaningful ethics reform," Blagojevich said. "After all we've been through, we cannot expect the people just instinctively to trust their government."

Truer—or more ironic—words were never spoken.

According to recent events, it seems the only carpe dieming the Gov. has been up to has involved seizing the moment to ask "Ubi Est Mea?"

Before we close the book on Royko's words of wicked wisdom, let's take a look back at the history of Blago's favored phrase: from its blissful conception, to its rather more spotted current state.

Carpe Diem

Once upon a time, before "seize the moment" adorned posters plastered with frolicking kittens and parachutes and the like, people actually used the original Latin words—and a bigger increment of time: "Carpe Diem," or: "Seize the day." The phrase came courtesy of poet Horativs Flaccvs, and basically means: Life is short; enjoy it. Blago could take a scroll from Horace's book at this point in time—at least with regard to his governorship.

"Seize the moment of excited curiosity on any subject to solve your doubts; for if you let it pass, the desire may never return, and you may remain in ignorance."

In 1833, US Attorney General William Wirt shared this sentiment with Mr. H.W. Miller, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who was after some advice on the mysteries of success. At this junction, the meaning of "Carpe Diem" drifts a bit farther away from fun and spontaneity, and closer to the smashing of noses to grindstones.

"Seize the Day"

Published in 1956 by Saul Bellow, this novella tells the tale of Tommy Wilhelm, a man on the hunt for the elusive American Dream. The phrase acquires an even stronger taste of shoe leather here—smacking of utter boot-strappery.

So many deeds cry out to be done,
And always urgently;
The world rolls on,
Time presses.
Ten thousand years are too long,
Seize the day, seize the hour!

Mao Zedong's famous poem, "Reply to Comrade Guo Moruo," penned in 1961, added a decidedly warlike edge to the phrase as it boosted Communism. It also inspired the next usage on our list"¦

Seize the Moment: America's Challenge in a One-Superpower World


Nixon's book, published in 1992, is all about America's future: how the US should handle the end of the Cold War, the fall of Communism, etc, etc. More importantly, it cemented the term in the political realm—especially since old Tricky Dick had made good use of it in the past, particularly in his 1971 State of the Union Address. Guess Nixon and Blago have more in common than the specter of impeachment.

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Richard Bouhet // Getty
4 Expert Tips on How to Get the Most Out of August's Total Solar Eclipse
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Richard Bouhet // Getty

As you might have heard, there’s a total solar eclipse crossing the U.S. on August 21. It’s the first total solar eclipse in the country since 1979, and the first coast-to-coast event since June 8, 1918, when eclipse coverage pushed World War I off the front page of national newspapers. Americans are just as excited today: Thousands are hitting the road to stake out prime spots for watching the last cross-country total solar eclipse until 2045. We’ve asked experts for tips on getting the most out of this celestial spectacle.


To see the partial phases of the eclipse, you will need eclipse glasses because—surprise!—staring directly at the sun for even a minute or two will permanently damage your retinas. Make sure the glasses you buy meet the ISO 12312-2 safety standards. As eclipse frenzy nears its peak, shady retailers are selling knock-off glasses that will not adequately protect your eyes. The American Astronomical Society keeps a list of reputable vendors, but as a rule, if you can see anything other than the sun through your glasses, they might be bogus. There’s no need to splurge, however: You can order safe paper specs in bulk for as little as 90 cents each. In a pinch, you and your friends can take turns watching the partial phases through a shared pair of glasses. As eclipse chaser and author Kate Russo points out, “you only need to view occasionally—no need to sit and stare with them on the whole time.”


There are plenty of urban legends about “alternative” ways to protect your eyes while watching a solar eclipse: smoked glass, CDs, several pairs of sunglasses stacked on top of each other. None works. If you’re feeling crafty, or don’t have a pair of safe eclipse glasses, you can use a pinhole projector to indirectly watch the eclipse. NASA produced a how-to video to walk you through it.


Bryan Brewer, who published a guidebook for solar eclipses, tells Mental Floss the difference between seeing a partial solar eclipse and a total solar eclipse is “like the difference between standing right outside the arena and being inside watching the game.”

During totality, observers can take off their glasses and look up at the blocked-out sun—and around at their eerily twilit surroundings. Kate Russo’s advice: Don’t just stare at the sun. “You need to make sure you look above you, and around you as well so you can notice the changes that are happening,” she says. For a brief moment, stars will appear next to the sun and animals will begin their nighttime routines. Once you’ve taken in the scenery, you can use a telescope or a pair of binoculars to get a close look at the tendrils of flame that make up the sun’s corona.

Only a 70-mile-wide band of the country stretching from Oregon to South Carolina will experience the total eclipse. Rooms in the path of totality are reportedly going for as much as $1000 a night, and news outlets across the country have raised the specter of traffic armageddon. But if you can find a ride and a room, you'll be in good shape for witnessing the spectacle.


Your eyes need half an hour to fully adjust to darkness, but the total eclipse will last less than three minutes. If you’ve just been staring at the sun through the partial phases of the eclipse, your view of the corona during totality will be obscured by lousy night vision and annoying green afterimages. Eclipse chaser James McClean—who has trekked from Svalbard to Java to watch the moon blot out the sun—made this rookie mistake during one of his early eclipse sightings in Egypt in 2006. After watching the partial phases, with stray beams of sunlight reflecting into his eyes from the glittering sand and sea, McClean was snowblind throughout the totality.

Now he swears by a new method: blindfolding himself throughout the first phases of the eclipse to maximize his experience of the totality. He says he doesn’t mind “skipping the previews if it means getting a better view of the film.” Afterward, he pops on some eye protection to see the partial phases of the eclipse as the moon pulls away from the sun. If you do blindfold yourself, just remember to set an alarm for the time when the total eclipse begins so you don’t miss its cross-country journey. You'll have to wait 28 years for your next chance.

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Pop Culture
IKEA Publishes Instructions for Turning Rugs Into Game of Thrones Capes
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Game of Thrones is one of the most expensive TV shows ever produced, but even the crew of the hit HBO series isn’t above using an humble IKEA hack behind the scenes. According to Mashable, the fur capes won by Jon Snow and other members of the Night’s Watch on the show are actually sheepskin rugs sold by the home goods chain.

The story behind the iconic garment was first revealed by head costume designer Michele Clapton at a presentation at Los Angeles’s Getty Museum in 2016. “[It’s] a bit of a trick,” she said at Designing the Middle Ages: The Costumes of GoT. “We take anything we can.”

Not one to dissuade customers from modifying its products, IKEA recently released a cape-making guide in the style of its visual furniture assembly instructions. To start you’ll need one of their Skold rugs, which can be bought online for $79. Using a pair of scissors cut a slit in the material and make a hole where your head will go. Slip it on and you’ll look ready for your Game of Thrones debut.

The costume team makes a few more changes to the rugs used on screen, like shaving them, adding leather straps, and waxing and “frosting” the fur to give it a weather-worn effect. Modern elements are used to make a variety of the medieval props used in Game of Thrones. The swords, for example, are made from aircraft aluminum, not steel. For more production design insights, check out these behind-the-scenes secrets of Game of Thrones weapons artists.

[h/t Mashable]


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