Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The unbearable lightness of the EU

Background to the story: in case you have been on the dark side of the moon in the last month, it happened that Hamas, a notorious arab palestinian terrorist organization, in the untouchable list of all the civilized countries, won the elections in the Palestine National Authority. Now, that by itself is not surprising, as Palestinians have a given calling to masochism and self-inflicted martyrdom (which doesn't mean they don't have their share of good reasons), but the point is that for the first time an official terrorist organization can rule by itself, and having been democratically elected a that (yes, with violences at the polls, but not enough to have the international obvservers put in doubt the "substantial" democraticity of the vote).

The reactions were immediate from the US, EU, Israel "We shall not give money to a terrorist group, even if democratically elected to guide a country, unless they cease to be a violent group and recognize the right of Israel to exist". It was the 25th January 2006.

Especially the german Angela Merkel appeared very determined on the point, and the general approach of the European Union, for a couple of weeks, that it would had been "unthinkable" for the EU to continue funding the Palestinian Authority if Hamas did not change its positions, led some commentors to dare and saying that the Europeans, finally, had an idea of foreign policy, at least on a single issue.

To be noted that the PNA lives on external aids as basically the do not produce anything. To make an example, just last year, the EU gave them 600 millions euros.. money that in part goes to help the needing "refugees" (question: can you call someone who has been born and lived for the last 50 years somewhere a refugee? When does the refugee status end, or it's a perpetual title that is passed from father to son?), but that for the most part disappears in officers' embezzlement and corruption and possibly, at least inpart, end up in the hands of the verious happy terrorists that lunch rockets on Isreal's civilians and send virgins-seeking "martyrs" to blast to pieces civilians in Iraq (everywhere), Spain (Atocha), United Kingdom (London).

So... yesterday, 27th of febraury, one month and 2 days after the elections, while Hamas has strongly refused both to curtail its freedom of action (meaning, to stop using terror as a political mean, even in principle) and to recognize Israel's right to existance, while it nominated as future prime minister Ismail Haniya (close associated with the late Sheikh Yassin, but considered a "pragmatist" just because he didn't expressely said that Israel should be wiped out), and while US asked the PNA to give back 50 millions dollars that were not going to be used before the Hamas' government started to rule, the EU decided to give them 140 millions euros, which Hamas was prompt to accept "as long as it is not restricted by any conditions or a swap with the rights of our Palestinian people"... Oh, thank you for the honor of accepting our money.

Ok, we knew that European Union was agonizing after the blow of the French and Dutch rejection of the (unreadable, 300 pages long) European Constituion and that it was mostly interested in funding the farmers with its budget than anything else. We knew that to think of a common, reasonable and stable approach to international matters by the 15, now 25, was as likely as for a lamb to start roaring, but... 33 days? Even Neville Chamberlein's opposition to Hitler's ambitions on the Sudeten did last longer than that. On the left, the newly proposed European Union flag, mourning-black stars on a proud surrender-white background.

Personal note: I really was a hugely euro-enthusiast back in the early 90s... then came the bombs over Belgrade, the Euro catastrophe (which could probably be avoided, but that caused the total impoverishment of the european middle class and of teh ones living on stable salaries), the cowardice shown over practically every important international matter, the total surrender to China social-dumping-derived minimal-price goods and, possibly worst than everything, the total lack of vision on the raising islamic problem that is crashing on us. That's it.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Monday, Monday, can't trust that day

Another week has started, and STILL it's raining. Sunday has been a bit of a stormy day in the family, hope things will develop in a better way over the day. There are actually several things so, where to start, where to start.


From here until April, it seems, I'll be around a lot. This coming Friday I shall be again in Berlin, for less than 48 hours. Then, if nothing else happens, I should be in London between the 20th and the 26th of March. Finally, Paris between the 17th and 23rd April. There's also an hypothesis of going back to Saint Petersburg (how I love that city, for so many reasons) in July, but... well, all to be seen yet.

With London, where I'll be for the ELSA ICM (International Council Meeting), I will get a step closer to my project of seeing all the principal European capitals. The original project was to do it within my 30th Birthday, but as it came and passed, I was still missing London, Stockholm and Madrid. In the picture, the countries I've visited in Europe, while I have to admit I've yet to get out of the old continent. But there are so many things to see in Europe still...


Yes, I did it again. Friday, as I expected, I didn't manage to open "The Singing Sword" and most of Saturday I hadn't time either. So it happened that I found myself on Saturday evening, around midnight, with the book next to me and, looking at it deep in the eyes, or pages, I said "OK, just the first chapter, just to see how it is". 4 hours and 230 pages later I finally went to sleep. With the 30 pages I managed to read yesterday I'm now more or less halfway through it and it's, again, not bad at all. Surprises, plot twists (even if I didn't so much like the very first, contained in the first pages, if you will read the book you will know what I mean) and a style that makes it a light and pleasing read. The colony is growing but experiencing the beginning of the problems that a failing administration brings with it. And an old enemy shows up again.

The Law and Order

Among the rest, there is a sentence that struck me in the book. One of the main characters (Caius Britannicus), describing the changes that the crumbling of the roman control and subsequent weakened police and justice system, says "Even among the normal people, the emphasis has moved from "Don't do it, or you shall be punished" to "Don't let yourself be caught in doing it".

It is another version of the "Broken Windows" theory (originally by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling) that Rudolph Giuliani used to describe the rationale of his "zero-tolerance" crime policy: "Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars."

In simpler words: if you let small crime be performed and have people believe that, no matter what, nothing shall be done, those small crimes will start to be performed routinely and the crime level will than escalate to the next higher level.

I find myself strongly agreeing with it (and after all, the success of Giuliani's policy in New york is undeniable), which is precisely why I get absolutely nuts when on TV such things as robberies in the tobacco-stores or bag-lifting cases (which are reported because the victim fell and was seriously injured or died) or car stealing are defined "micro-criminality" and reported in derogatory terms, giving a sense of "oh well, it doesn't really matter and nothing can be done anyway".

One of the (several) things that will probably cause the center-right coalition government losing the next election is precisely the fact they haven't done much at all, or at least nothing that is really perceived, regarding the "Law and Order" issues. Look at my city: beggars and Gypsies, usually busy with pickpocketing and bags-lifting, everywhere, rose-sellers literally pushing you to buy their stuff, side-street illegal vendors with their merchandise on the sidewalks making every street a third world bazaar, the number of "little" thievery cases raising so much that people feel it's pointless to go to the police anymore and litter that accumulates everywhere and the walls are everywhere covered with ugly graffiti, included in the most central and famous areas of the city.

Of course the fact that apparently 70% of the Roman citizens at the upcoming elections in April will vote again for the present mayor, who basically forfeited road maintenance (that are now simply to be ashamed of and with consequent higher number of incidents, especially among the scooters) and street control to organize the "White nights" and, now it seems, a movie festival says much about the mental state we are in. "Panem et Circenses" apparently is as true now as it was 20 centuries ago in the imperial Rome. Very sad.

Please, God, send us a Rudolph Giuliani for 10 years, we so much need that (and if you are that, have the real one become the next American president, if that's not too much to ask)...

Saturday, February 25, 2006


I'm in a wretched mood. It happens to the best of us, so figure if it doesn't happen to me. I guess an explanation is needed, tho, or you might think I get annoyed just randomly (which happens, obviously, too, but let's pretend it doesn't).

So, at the young age of 30 and after 25 years since last time, I am getting again my own room in my parents' new house. I shall let aside the irony of that happening when it's way too late for me to really enjoy that and when it's already two years I'm looking (and failing) for a little place for living on my own and maybe I shall write at another moment of the reasons why Italians do really stay home with their family more than probably anyone else in the world and that's not because our moms are the best cooks we'll ever find (well, that too) but... OK, I'm digressing.

Anyway, I spent today looking for the furniture for my new bedroom, walked for hours in these megastores where they put on display hundreds and hundreds of rooms, seen several interesting things, finally found a solution that would be optimal, we (oh yeah, I was with my parents, it was ages I didn't o out with both of them and it was a good excuse to do it) went to take a few measures at the new house and found out the A/C is in the way and I can't arrange the furniture... actually, that I can't get them at all given they are a composite set that has to be placed in a given way or nothing.

The whole saturday afternoon wasted, and I actually haven't slept well either, due the fact the wine at the VCN-Rome Happy Hour was... well, let's say pretty bad and there is nothing like bad wine, even in small quantities, for having a bad night. If you add that yesterday before the night out I went to gym where my usual aerobox trainer was absent and the substitute gave us 55 very exhausting minutes of jumps, kicks and punches.

Annoyed and exhausted and with a wretched mood. Beware.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Books III - The Singing Sword

Yep, I finished the "Skystone". 535 pages in less than 6 days is not such a good average, but after all they were mostly work days, followed by gym and everything so the time was what it was. I actually found myself yesterday night reading at 1 am and parting with the book, with great disappointment, when there were less than 75 pages to the end realizing it was already too late.

So, yep, I liked it, even if the Romans of Rome don't come out so nicely in the second half of the book. So we have now a small but pretty active roman-britannic colony between Bath and Exeter, Stones falling from the sky, no knights, no Excalibur and the declining (sigh) Roman Empire. I brought with me to the office "The singing sword" (as you can see, in italian, "La spada che canta") even if I doubt I shall have the time to open it today.

Week-end Prospective (and Liesbeth)

Lunch break is over, there's gym after work, then a Nova Roma meeting at 7.30 near S. Andrea della Valle and finally, to close the day, the VCN-Rome Happy Hour, this time near Piazza Navona.

Considering I've ended up sleeping less than 5 hours tonight (and not even that well, I know I had strange dreams and for once I remember bits of them when ususally I don't remember anything of them), that it's raining again and everything, I'm not so much eager as I usually am to go to the Happy Hour thing, but I hope my mood will change with the phisical effort at the gym as it usually does, maybe helped by a good long sauna. Not to mention there's the possibility that a few of the people I exchanged mails over the last two weeks will be there and I'm curious about them.

Liesbeth will not be there, anyway. Oh, right, who's Liesbeth? She's a quite nice (and pretty, i shall add, in a very flamish way, if you have ever seen the flamish painters' works) who I met thro the VCN mailing list and who, after a first meeting to go and see Oliver Twist in original version (have to say, I did understand less than one third of the movie, mostly in strict cockney accent), befriended. She has just finished working at the European Commission's delegation and is now going to start another intern period at WFP and then at the IFAD. Quite a smart girl, as I said. And before you people wonder, no. What no? You know what. So anyway, she shall not be there as she will be in Perugia for.. personal reasons (see, I told you, no) and I'm somewhat disappointed, as I kinda enjoy her company and is quite a while I so not see her. But, apparently, I shall soon on sunday as I volounteered to help her moving to her new flat.

So, Liesbeth in Perugia, Susanne (Susanne who? Gee, since when you are not in touch with me, my friend?) at some SPD political seminar around Brandenburg for the week-end... it promises to be a grey week-end indeed, just as much as the sky is right now and, so weather forecasts say, will be at least for another couple of days.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Like Tears in the Rain

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I watched sea beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate.
All those moments will be lost in time
Like tears in rain.
Time... to die."

I recieved a mail asking me why the name of the Blog. It's a quote from one of Blade Runner's last scenes. I first saw Blade Runner when I was a kid and it impressed me hugel. I remember learning those lines above by heart. In italian. Then came thw time when I was able to listen and understand those lines in english, and they seemed, sounded, even better.

Untill now, they are, I think, one of the best expressed way to represent our mortality. Our experiences, everything we have been, will be lost one day, and will not matter much, but yet, a tear will always retain a little of the being who cried it, will it not?

And so this blog, maybe to retain a bit of my thoughts, over the time, before they get lost forever.

The "demo-giudo-pluto-massonico" plot

Two airliners with hundreds of innocent people on board is hijacked and piloted by arabs and used as a missile against two skyscrapers full of equally innocent people? It's an american-israelian plot to create a worldwide anti-islamic resentment.

An european movie director descendant of one of the most famous european painters of all time makes a movie depicting the condition of the women in the most closed muslim societies and is therefore slaughtered , his throath slit from side to side after he recieved 8 bullets? It's maybe not an american-israelian plot, but they wouldn't have minded.

A Danish newspaper publish some cartoons depicting the-one-that-shall-not-be-pictured? It's a american-israelian plot, supported by the western democracies, in order to purposefully insult the islam religion.

Some arabs kill the guards of one of the most importat Shiite Mosquee and blow it up? It's obviously an american-israelian plot, backed up by the western democracies as well to ignite a violent feud between shiites and sunnites of the world.

These, and others, pearls of wiseness come from the now worldwide famous enlightened leader of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Now, besides the demagogy and the obvious, for everyone with a minimal of logic, fact that if there is anything the US would not like to see in Iraq is a civil war when they are trying to consolidate a government rapresenting all the Iraqi factions to start the pull out, Mr. Ahmadinejad should be informed that there is an illustrious precedent in blaming everything bad in the world on a plot directed by democracies, the international wealthy elites and the jews.

Known as the "complotto demo-giudo-pluto-massonico" plot (to which "masso-" is for including the Free Masons in the worldwide plot against Italy, its destinies and him personally), that was one of the favourite scapegoats used by Benito Mussolini for the many troubles of the Italian Kingdom he governed. A fascist european leader and an islam integralist arab one apparently using the same arguments. Interesting, isn't it?

But actually, maybe there is some resemblance between the two, don't you think?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Books II - The Skystone

Page 279 of the Skystone. I keep having quite a good opinion of the book. The translator doesn't make it justice and the editor should be fired for having allowed several typos and repetitions to make it to the published version, but anyway.

It's also pretty shallow when it comes to some sex-depicting scene, but they are few of those and far between. I think that one of the reasons that I am so partial to the book is that it promises to put together ancient romans and the King Arthur saga... who could someone like me resist?

Online Communities

There are two online communities I invest most of my net-dedicated time and since I just happened to be involved in a discussion in one of those, why not?


Nova Roma is an interesting community. Born about 10 years ago in the closing days of the micronations age (those, to be understood, that saw the raise of mighty entities like Sealand), it is now hard to define exactly what it is. The Wikipedia page, which I believe written by other Nova Romans, says it's something created "to study and restore ancient Roman culture. It works as a virtual independent country, with its own constitution, law, government, senate and university. Its government and law system is based on that of the Roman Republic, but, of course, updated to current days.". It's indeed a quite weird mix of people, from the recreationist to the philologist, from the sincere utopian to the real classicist passing thro a good number of curious people with much time in their hands.

It's interesting actually, it can help in learning new things about the classic world and, most than anything, accrue your rethorical skills as one of the most popular thing is discussing: about everything, the internal regulations, religion, personal feuds...

In truth, the scope of the association is vague and that helps that wide range of people with so many different interests to come together, as everyone has his own perception of Nova Roma and of course that also create the frequent struggles as everyone try to defends and bring forward his own vision. If you have ever lived in a condo, and an italian one especially, try to imagine a worldwide standing owners' meeting were people communicate via email and you shall have an idea. Sounds as a nightmare? It may be :)


VCN-Rome is a totally different thing. Initiated by Volunteers, Interns, and Consultants of the Rome based International Organizations, its purpose is to help newcomers integrate into Roman life and exchange valuable information on housing, social and cultural events, and jobs in development cooperation.

I joined a few months ago and I have to say I gained a given popularity there by simply replying to the questions that people ask there (at least, the one I am confident about, but given that they are mostly about places in Rome and light legal issues...). It's fun, I get to learn a new thing or two now and then, but, especially, it makes me meet interesting people thro the occasional Happy Hour (actually, there is a fixed one every 2 fridays) and movie in original version. It also gives me a chance of, in a given way, be part of that international working community of which I'd love to be a part of but that I have so little chances of joining... annoying.

Unpredictable events

Yesterday, I could have killed someone. No, obviously not intentionally. I was driving on my scooter going back home from gym, it was raining and, as the traffic lamp on the corner between via Torino and via Nazionale went green I turned right, did let an old woman who was late crossin gover the zebra lines pass, accelerated slightly and... crashed against someone. I didn't see him crossing and for that matter no one did. As far as I can tell, he was lying in the middle of the street, out of the crossing line, in a dark spot of the street and a bottle of beer rolling away and his heavy breath suggested he was more than a bit drunk. And a gipsy.

Now, that he was a gipsy wouldn't had mattered really if 30 seconds later I wouldn't had found myself surrounded by a dozen other pretty menacing gipsies (where they did come from, I have no idea... one moment no one was around, the moment later they were all around me). Good for me I was too busy calling an ambulance and the police to actually think about anything else and that two other scooter drivers who were behind me at the moment of the impact stayed to be witnesses of what happened and possibly to avoid me being lynched on the spot.

Anyway, the ambulance came (actually, two of them as the first to arrive was not the one I had called, but just one passing by), took the guy and brought him I do not know where without even identifying him. A good 10 minutes later (and a good half a hour after the incident, with the police station being no more than 500 meters away) the city police came, took my version, the one of the two witnesses (who, good for me, confirmed that the lamp was green, that they hadn't seen anyone cross either, that I had hit the break, that the beer bottle rolling was the one of the victim and that I tried immediatly to help him) and that was it, considering the other gipsies who were with the one I collided against disappeared as soon as the police arrived. So I do not even know the name of the person.

Now, I know it was probably not my fault (besides anything else, I was going so slowly not even the plastic forward of my scooter broke), I know that I did all I could afterwards and here I am wondering if I did hurt him for real and what's going to happen now because despite everything, i know I could have huge troubles out of this. The police quite calmly said that I could have gone asking in 20 days (TWENTY!) at the station if a charge against me had been filed and that anyway the report abou tteh incident would had been ready in 90 (NINETY!!!) days.

But that's not the main point. The main point is... I'd like to know if I did hurt him for real and I shall stay with this doubt for weeks, possibly months. Three cheers for italian bureocracy.

And today is a grey day and is raining again.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The case of David Irving

So, as I said, that's one of the things occupying my thoughts these days. And yes, probably there could be more interesting and important matters, but bear with me, will you?

David Irving is an historian. An english historian who denies that the Holocaust ever happened. Questionable, yes, racist, yes, anti-semitic, of course, someone most of the people wouldn't even give a greeting to, but fundamentally a writer, someone who has his own thoughts about something and puts them down on paper, finding someone interested in publishing that.

So what's the matter? If you do not know, and you didn't care of checking the link in my previous post, this nice fellow, aged 67, went to Austria where, substantially for his opinions, has been arrested, put to trial and sentenced to 3 years of prison without possibility of release on parole (to be noted that in Italy, for your first sentence, you are released on parole for *almost* everything except murder, kidnapping and drug dealing).

Now my question and my problem is, can we really consider that fair? We westerners make ourselves (often just nominally) the defenders of basic freedoms like teh one of opinion, thought, press, and then we jail someone because we don't like what he writes? I don't think so. Not to mention that putting him to jail is counterproductive as he will become a martyr for some people, a pity-case for others (honestly, a 67 years old pretty dignified looking guy jailed for 3 years for having written a book?) and generally do nothing good as his books are still printed and sold in the countries where it is perfectly legal to do that.

And another one... can we really allow an EU country to close in jail an EU citizen for having done something that in his country is perfectly legal? Would an italian court prosecute a dutch Marjiuana user who did use of that in Amsterdam, where that's legal? Or a German court prosecute a Swiss doctor for having practiced euthanasy in Switzerland, within the law? Of course not. And you think that the Dutch and Swiss government would just sit, arms crossed? No, obviously they'd be pretty vocal about that. The British government is, apparently, doing absolutely nothing about it.

The most ironic thing is that we give some absolutely authoritarian and fanatic people like Iran's president the excuse us to call us hipocritical. In a speech of a few days ago he said that we weserners are hipocrits who wave around teh banner of free speech when it comes to the cartoons' case, yet as soon as the subject becomes the holocaust, we change our mind. It's sad to notice that he could appear as right.

My ending thought, but I'm still debating with myself, is that the guy should be set free. And free to keep writing. And obviously, free of being proved wrong by all the other historians, and they are the absolute majority, who believe and can prove teh Holocaust happened.

Free to be a pariah of the historians' society, but free.

Books I - The Skystone

The Skystone

A few weeks ago I went to my usual bookshop browsing around as I often do and, mostly because I did like the cover and I felt like wasting 6 euros, I got Skystone by Jack Whyte (if you follow the link, I have to say that th eitalian version I got has a different cover).

The book then laid, as many others I buy to forget shortly after, around the house untill my recent travel to Berlin an deven then, it stayed forgotten in the trolley untill my return flight where, for lack of anything else to do, I took it out and started reading. In the two hours of the flight I read 180 pages of it! It's probably not a masterpiece of the world literature, but the fact that it's full of ancient romans and it's reasonably well written, with several side plots and interweaved stories, is making me devour it.

So, I ended up going back to my bookshop yesterday and buy the 3 other (out 8) books of the series (The Camulod chronicles) published in that edition. It was since the time of O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin books I didn't methodically mass buy a whole series (to be said, I still miss a few of that one, but it's not my fault if they are yet to be translated in italian and if I'd lose myself in nautical english terminology had I to buy the original versions).

So, it's true I'm only at page 230 of the first book, but I'd definitely suggest people to get a hold of that one, and I hope the rest will be as good.

The start of the journey

"And the road goes ever on..."

Yes, I capitualted and started a blog.

Capitulated to the fact I'm often unable to keep up with my mails and my friends, with my own thoughts and books. Also to the slightly narcisistic wish of communicating myself and my thoughts to the world, even if of course it's pretty obvious that the world at large would not only care nothing at all about it, but that it will indeed ingore of this island in the infinite arcipelagus of the blogs lost in the infinite internet ocean.

Yet, who cares? Knowing myself, there are quite some chances that this will be the first and only post I will ever add, or that I shall abandon this effort very quickly. But maybe not. It's like a journey, in a way... no, not the ones of today, marked by the plane take off time for teh start and teh landing time for the end, but the good old XIX century journeys, Goethe and Byron style, where you vaguely knew where you were going, but had no real idea about if, how and when you would have reached your destination and if you would had make it alive there.

And so, we start, in a grey and rainy day of febraury, and on a tuesday at that, despite the good old proverb "Di venere e di marte non si sposa e non si parte e non si da inizio all'arte" (which means, "In the day of venus -friday- and mars -tuesday- one doesn't get married, doesn't start a travel and doesn't start a work"). But then again I've never really cared much about it... after all, I've just returned froma week-end in berlin to see my girlfriend and I started the travel not only on an any friday, but on a friday 17, most terrible of all dates possible (and of course, being febraury what it is, we'll have another friday 17 next month).

There are several things taking my attention these days. The ongoing "Danish Mohammed cartoon" struggle all around the world and the recent developements hitting directly my country, the historian David Irving sentenced to 3 years in jail in Austria for his books published in UK.

Yet I will maybe get back about those later today or when I will have time.