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One coffee for me too, George January 12, 2009

Posted by dorigo in humor, news, politics.
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Thank goodness he’s going.

George W. Bush, arguably the worst American President in the history of the United States, gave his last press release today. And he said he’s going to change life. Better late than never, one would be tempted to add.

I do not have much to say beyond what I have said in this column in the past. Bush junior has been utterly inadequate to sit in the oval office during the last eight difficult years. What a tragedy to have had him instead of Al Gore!  Fortunately, Barack Obama is going to take over, restoring hope that his great country will rise and lead the world in a better direction than the awful mess W has brought it.

According to the press release, George is planning to be bringing coffee to his wife. What can I say: a more adequate occupation, for sure. No milk on mine George, one cube of sugar. Will he be able to handle that ?

The Say of the Week: ID take that! January 7, 2009

Posted by dorigo in humor, religion, science.
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“Why do dogs do the squashiest, most unpleasant turds that hide in the grass and spread themselves in the indentations on the bottom of your shoe, but don’t start smelling until you get indoors and then render the place uninhabitable until you’ve left every window open for a month? Why, why, why?
Come on intelligent design people, the questions you have to answer have barely begun.”

(Mark Steel, What creationists really hate is that we emerged by accident.)

The Say of the Week January 1, 2009

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I once was in bed with my boyfriend, Ernie, when he asked me: “Why don’t you ever tell me when you are about to have an orgasm?”. I answered “Ernie, it’s because you are never there when it happens”.

(Bette Midler)

The Say of the Week December 16, 2008

Posted by dorigo in food, games, humor.
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“You must know what you want, or you will have to get what comes.”

(seen in the menu of a chinese restaurant)

The Say of the Week November 28, 2008

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This sentence has thre erors

(courtesy J.Wyss)

The say of the week November 13, 2008

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A Venezia alle 10 l’alta marea era a 104 centimetri, soprattutto nelle aree più basse del centro storico

(In Venice at 10AM the tide reached 104 cm, particularly in the lowest areas of the town center)

Il Corriere della Sera (today’s online version of the best-selling daily newspaper in Italy) – apparently, sea water levels are a more local phenomenon than I thought.

Nazi parodies: reality mimics fantasy October 23, 2008

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Do you remember the nazis going after John and Dan in the cult-movie “The Blues Brothers” ? I am sure you do. The duo of nazi leaders, after being charged by the Brothers with their car, spend the rest of the movie trying to get revenge, but eventually die in a surreal car accident (their car is seen falling down over Chicago after they fall off a highway bridge). In their last moments of life the deputy reveals the boss how he’s always loved him (right, the outing scene).

How can one not think back at that scene today, after hearing the outing of Stefan Petzner, the second-in-command of the BZOE ? Petzner and Joerg Heider (together in the picture below) had a secret relationship, and Heider is now dead in a car accident. John Landis would be laughing in his grave, were he dead.

It is all very amusing, although I did not cheer at the car accident in which Heider lost his life, as I do not laugh at the fact that the filo-nazi Austrian had gay inclinations. Anyway, I am happy to see that homosexuality does not know ideological barriers, which is one of the reasons why it is finally starting to be accepted in today’s society.

Presidential love October 15, 2008

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It is not a mystery that George W. and Silvio are good friends. And I have nothing against that – I do not like either of them, so the fact that they are very close to each other makes things simpler for me. Also, Berlusconi is a very good friend of Putin, so that makes it even easier. They collectively activate the same neurons in my brain, in the part which does the simplest love/hate classifications.

Mind you, I do not “hate” them. I cannot bring myself to hate a person I have never met. But I get close to that feeling with these new-age tyrants. In any case, I cannot help feeling sympathy for the duo when I see such a string of demonstrations of friendship as the display they recently put together. The number of kisses, hugs, and pats on the back they entertained themselves with was enormous, and the pictures below (which I stole from Repubblica’s site) are just a sampler.

Italy and the US have never been so close before… I wonder the US will allow Italy to build a military base in its territory, to reciprocate the US bases in italian soil. It would be a nice act with which GW could end his flying color 8-year presidency.

…No way, huh ? Well then, why not just putting italian-passport holders on a priority line with no immigration checks at US airports ? That’d be still something.

Italian Universities and Research Institutes save Banks. Who will save italian research ? October 10, 2008

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(This post is partially flawed by a wrong interpretation of the faulty italian in the decree it mentions. I do not take it off since I still subscribe to most of what I wrote below. See note at bottom).

Italian credit institutes are not immune to the huge financial crisis we are witnessing throughout the world markets. The first ones are already yielding to the pressure (Unicredit for instance), and many will follow suit. Of course, the italian government must throw a life jacket to these benefactors. The problem, however, is that there is no money to spend in Italy’s budget. What is Berlusconi’s finance minister, Giulio Tremonti, going to do ? Will Giulio manage to save the sinking banks ?

Worry not. Banks will be saved. If that means burning a few billion euros and paralyzing a few Universities and research institutes, hitting their ordinary administration with unforeseen cuts that impinge on the flesh of their budget, the part which goes to pay salaries and bills, too bad. After the invention of the concept of “creative finance”, minister Tremonti will now appeal to the concept of “creative research”, whereby experiments will be built with scavenged scrap metal pieces and computing will be performed on private-owned cell phones. Did you know that the computing power of the hundred million cell phones owned by italian citizens would be enough to manage a medium-sized particle physics experiment ? Let’s release that potential!

Unfortunately, there is little to laugh about. It is all written down in a document issued yesterday, the Decreto Ministeriale number 155 titled “Misure urgenti per garantire la stabilita’ del sistema creditizio e la  continuita’ nell’erogazione del credito alle imprese e ai consumatori, nell’attuale situazione di crisi dei mercati finanziari internazionali” (urgent measures to guarantee the stability of the credit system and the continuity of supply of credit to businesses and consumers, in the present situation of crisis of international finance markets). Here are the salient parts:

Art. 1: 1.The minister of Economy and Finances is authorized, even in dispensation from accounting rules of the State, to subscribe or guarantee capital increases decided by italian banks which present a situation of patrimonial inadequacy certified by the Banca d’Italia. […] 7. With a decree by the President of the Council of Ministers […] the resources to fund the operations are identified […]: a linear reduction of financiary allotment […] of the ordinary fund to Universities; of resources allotted to research […].

At least, these cuts to Universities and research institutes are motivated by an international crisis. The 132,000 layoffs in the public school system, recently passed by another decree, are instead motivated just by the will of Berlusconi’s government to reduce taxes -particularly to those who suffer the most: those poor souls who, earning several hundred thousand euros a year, see their income heavily curtailed. Berlusconi is a real Robin Hood: an upside-down one. He now steals from Universities to fund banks: he’s just amazing. I wonder if his next move will be to close public hospitals to fund an increase of troops in Afghanistan – but I fear reality will continue to outdo fantasy.

UPDATE: Ok, this will remain as an example of how the current state of affairs in italian politics has made us all a bit paranoid. Indeed, after a commenter below pointed it out, I found out that the bureaucratical language of the decree leaves room to two opposite interpretations: the first is that the funds to University and research are excluded from the curtailing, the second, as I reported naively, is that they are part of the pool of funds which will be cut.

I now believe the “correct” reading is the one which excludes University and research funds, along with a list of others, from being reduced to increase bank capitals. A sigh of relief.

Not a Say of the Week but… October 10, 2008

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I cannot log this in as a Say of the Week because it is a bit over the top, but I thought I’d record it here anyways, since it was well worth a sound laugh as I read it:

Bella donna, ma che tariffe!“.

Translating this is taking some of the punch away, at least for someone with a mediocre lexicon such as myself. I need to try anyways for you spoiled English monoglots:

“Beautiful woman, but what fees!”.

It is the ironic comment pronounced by Sabina Guzzanti, an italian comedian who had personally attacked the minister for equal opportunities, Mara Carfagna, during a show. Guzzanti had lingered on the topic of the sexual encounter between the ex-cover girl and the italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, which had allegedly fruited Carfagna a seat in the italian parliament. In response, Carfagna sued Guzzanti yesterday, asking for a million euro as a compensation for the defamatory remarks. The fees Guzzanti alludes to are of course the parliament seat itself and the million euros.