#1. April 14 -
Quarantine and Dreamtime, they go with your Hair.It ended peacefully. The dolphins and mermaids are happy. Peace and quarantine have returned to Dreamtime Happy Hectares. Cut. Wrap.
--sorry, that's a different song. Still nice nice, though.*I have no idea what Australian Aborigines mean by what others who have no idea call Dreamtime. Phrases that appeal to me are Everywhen, World-dawn, and a complicated concept called Xghy that translates as Everything You See Around You Existed Even Before It Existed and is now Waking Up or Going Back to Sleep.
"Moonlight Becomes You", by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke for the film The Road to Morocco (1942).
As I look out my balcony at the vast stillness that is Naples, our quiet Dreamtime waiting for birth or rebirth (whichever comes first) a good example comes to mind. Yesterday morning the mermaids and dolphins were accosted by a loud and annoying vroom-vrooming!, a guy in a motorboat racing up and down along the Chiaia coast just off the breakwater between the Egg Castle and the Mergellina harbor. Like most owners of motorboats, he has no sense of seamanship and at this point is cruisin' for a bruisin' for, lo and behold, Numbie (so we don't have to call him Numb Nuts) looks up and there is a police helicopter (call him Cop-Chop) hovering right above him.
Cop-chop's bull-horn: What are you doing?
Numbie: I have to run my boat to keep the fuel lines from clogging.
Cop-chop: Even if you were permitted to do that, which you are not, you would have to be at least 300 meters from shore, which you are not. Cut your engine.
Numbie, however, has a better plan. Run for it! He starts to make a dash for the harbor. Cop-Chop comes lower until he is right on top of Numbie. Cop-Chop taps the gunner on the helmet. "Lock and load."
Cop-chop: I said stop the friggin' boat. Why the rush to get to your berth up there? Those blinking lights are a squad car waiting with your ticket and fine. You already have a 1,000 € fine. Want to try for 2 or 4? I like even numbers. Or shall we just take the whole boat. You still pay the fine. C'mon, pal. I can't hold Fang forever. [Fang is Cop-Chop's faithful Labrador Retriever cross-bred with a Doberman, giving him the virtues of both; he's a strong swimmer and a vicious killer. He is straining at the leash to jump down and perform blood-fu on Numbie's head.]
The rest of the day was standard quarantine fare. A report of relatively few fines handed out on the weekend. They checked 550 shops, gave three warnings, checked 2500 citizens in all the shops and fined 20 of them. There's an item on doctors and nurses at Cardarelli hospital warning people not to be fooled by the good weather. Stay home. Veterinarians are up at the zoo trying to keep the animals in good shape (image) and the marvelous sculpture in Maratea of Christ Rising has been flood-lit with the Italian national colors (image).
photo credits: left, Ciro Fusco; right, Anna Martino, both for la Repubbica
What people are asking is: What is going to happen to us as a people, a city, a culture? So, lines from Arthur O' Shaughnessy, (1844-1881), most remembered for his Ode, beginning with the words "We are the music makers, / And we are the dreamers of dreams". It contains these lines. I find them reassuring.
We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.
#2. April 15-
I owe this idea to friend Peter. He really has a lot of time. Look at the effort he put into the graphic. (No, I confess that my robot overlords really did that for me. What? I don't know. They just told me. You know, the way they do.) This is a very cool way to bust out and stroll around, and to hell with quarantine! Here's how it works. As you can see, that is me (or you, or any true friends of freedom or —from yesterday— "makers of music" and "dreamers of dreams") walking along the street. From my hand I am running the drone above me via the leash. (The elegance of the nomenclature actually lets the drone think that it —or he or she— is running me!) When the coppers stop me and say, "Hey, you! What are you doing?" Or, "Where in Sam Hill ('Samuele Collina' in Italian)* do you think you're going?!", you say, pointing up to the drone, "My drone is taking me 'walkies'." Then you start sniffing for a place to do what one normally does on 'walkies'. (Please note that until we get all the kinks worked out of this baby, you can't do both kinds of walkies, but at least you can pee.) The Quaranticops will nod approvingly and drive on. Man, I am so excited about this, I just wet myself!
* [ Samuele Collina does not use social media, but his cousin Pierluigi Collina is all over Facebook and is known as the "most charismatic referee in Italian 'football'. I rest my case. Controlling real humans runs in the family! ]
Legal or not, things are opening up a bit. An electronics shop here, a whatever shop there. Everyone I know says, "Sure,
so-and-so is open." You still have to wait outside at a proper "social distance" and enter one at a time, but it's open. There are already complaints: "Bookshops still closed in Campania," says a headline. "Come on, you let the newsstands open. They sell books, too. Why them and not us. You're killing us." Shops that sell children's clothing may open — on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. I once read a novel where the intrepid hero is threatened by the mastermind of all that is evil, the insidious Dr. Wuhan Fu, with the death of a thousand cuts. (If you remember that one, you sure read a lot of junk.)
Another: "A one-time lump-sum of 2000 €uros is a nice gesture, but it's not going to restart the economy."
Oh, there was a collision between one city bus and one private car on an otherwise deserted big wide-open square, Piazzale Tecchio, near the soccer stadium. Nothing else moving and these two hit each other. Great photo of a cop just staring at the two vehicles with a universal expression that says,"Aw, come on. Are you kidding?"
And so it goes.
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#3. April 16-
I Wandered Lonely as a Clown in Quarantine
- or the "Bliss of Solitude"
With that we recall the anniversary of William Wordsworth's best-known poem, the first stanza of which is:
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
The inspiration came to him from a walk in the Lake District in England in 1804. I note only the presence of "daffodils,* a silly sounding word, golden or not, fluttering or dancing or not, and a synonym in common usage of lily, a flowering plant symbolic in culture and literature in much of the world. They present such a great variety in appearance that most people will be happy if you just say, "Oh, that's a kind of lily." Yet "lily" itself is a synonym in common usage of narcissus, which starts to take on religious and mythological overtones, both joyful and sorrowful.
Thus, the daffodil, in terms of power to inspire is "outpoemed" perhaps only by the rose. (The two are often joined or conflated poetically: I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys, Song of Solomon 2:1); Lilies of death-pale hope, roses of passionate dreams. "The Travail of Passion", W.B. Yeats.) How beautiful and magnificent is the lily? "The lilies of the field... not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of these, (Luke:27-31). Yet, much later (about the time of Shakespeare) came ugly terms from the medieval belief that the liver was the seat of courage and if your liver was pale like the lily flower, it lacked blood and you would have no courage and be a "lily-livered coward." The lily (or whatever you call it) is all things to all people.
*[from asphodel, a plant associated with death and the underworld, as In Tennyson: "Others in Elysian valleys dwell, Resting weary limbs at last on beds of asphodel."]
**[There is an error in this sign! Thanks to MK for sending me the image.]
All of those terms are in mythology connected with both death and birth, and it is still the Easter season in much of the Christian world, a season that acknowledges death but rejoices in rebirth. It is this daffy ambiguity (you mean 'daffy' comes from...? Yes...) that Naples is stuck in: where are we, exactly (or even approximately) in this endless, drawn-out process of how to proceed? Where are we going and how do we get there? Naples is also all things to all people. You will find what you came for, no matter what it is. Maybe more, and certainly different or unexpected. Wordsworth's sister spoke of the "bliss of solitude" in in her brother's poem (my subtitle for this entry, above). If that is what you want, you will find it right now in Naples. But that bliss is wearing very thin, perhaps in the light of these prosaic daily items.
- The owners of beach resorts will be required to set-up plexiglass dividers mounted on the usual wooden platforms they use. This is a sort of artificial "social distancing" to keep all those stray, lingering covid-viruses from drifting side to side and infecting patrons. The owners of the resort say they can't do this in time. "In time" means big-money time, almost here.
- At the Monaldi hospital on the Vomero hill, one head physician, four nurses, and one workman have been infected.The entire staff of the hospital has been quarantined.
- Non-covid! They spotted a blue shark (Prionace glauca) in the waters off Pozzuoli. It normally inhabits deep waters in the world's temperate and tropical oceans. It prefers cooler waters and migrates long distances, such as from New England to South America. It is listed as a "near threatened" species. It is non-aggressive and not a predator, but rather the prey of bigger and nastier sharks. I don't know what it wants here, but I hope it gets what it came for. Peace and quiet. The bliss of solitude. Welcome, my friend. The mermaid over there will be happy to sew you to a sheet.
- More covid. The owners of large motor yachts can stay aboard those things for months and maybe were out when the quarantine/lockdown hit. Maybe they didn't have to run a blockade to get out; they just never came in and are now enjoying themselves on the beaches of the Cilento coast (a nice stretch between the Gulfs of Salerno and Policastro before you leave the Campania region on the way south to Calabria. The coast guard is trying to track them down. The papers idiotically referred to the "irreducibili" — those who refuse to be 'reduced' (contained). It's a positive term, like calling them "stalwarts". So pin medals on them when you burn the boats.
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#4. April 17-
-...then they came for the turtles and I did not speak out because I was not a turtle. Then they came for me —and there was no one left to speak for me. (With respectful apologies to the memory of pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984.)Rome (AFP) - An Italian woman who took her pizza-sized turtle out for a walk has been fined 400 euros ($440) by the Roman police for breaking strict corona virus confinement rules. This leads naturally to a discussion of the animals you are allowed to take out for their health, to a discussion of service animals (such as guide dogs for the blind) and to so-called "emotional support animals" that provide you with peace of mind in stressful situations.
Service animals are working animals trained to assist the disabled. Such work includes physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual and other tasks. These may include pulling a wheelchair, retrieving dropped items, alerting a person to a sound, reminding a person to take medication, or pressing an elevator button. Service animals are not inevitably dogs but very often are. Dogs lead the blind, hear for the deaf, and even serve as psychiatric service dogs to detect the onset of psychiatric episodes, to remind the handler to take medicine, to provide safety checks or room searches, to turn on lights for those with post-traumatic stress disorder, to stop self-mutilation by persons with disassociative
identity disorders, to keeping disoriented individuals from danger, to assist the autistic, to distract from repetitive movements; they may even be trained to assist in case of a seizure by standing guard or going for help. Incredibly, some dogs can even predict a seizure and warn the person in advance to sit down or move to a safe place! They are amazing!
Moving to emotional support animal (ESA), while dogs are almost always admitted to modes of transportation around the world, the list is very long of other animals whose owners have tried to claim them as an ESA. This is a list of many, but not all, of them. Airlines, trains and buses — depending on where you are in the world — usually have the discretion to allow or disallow the animal. There have been law suits over this. On the list that follows, at least one of each of these animals has made it at least as far as the check-in. Then, it depends: peacocks, miniature pigs, kangaroos, ducks, snakes (non-venomous), squirrels, bearded dragons, marmosets, miniature horses, goats, parrots, small possums, goldfish (with bowl), Capuchins (they make better coffee than most flight attendants), tarantulas (!?) (maybe the tarantula is ok, but I don't want to sit next to someone who needs a tarantula!), hedgehogs, hamsters, ferrets, geese, donkeys, llamas, rats, rabbits, sheep, and turtles (it's about time!). (No bats. At least not yet.)
There is, so far, no category for GAQA (Get Around Quarantine Animals). The woman in Rome tried it and lost. We had one GAQA attempt with a goat. Failed. Dogs are clearly the credible go-to GAQA. They are in such demand that people here are renting their dogs out to those who want to go out for a walk. I don't know about cats. They probably are listed as ESA's, but the cat knows that you are really its ESH (Emotional Support Human). It deigns to let you feed it, but be quick about it. In Italy, as far I know, the only ESA is a dog. The general term is "cane da assistenza" including dogs specially trained to assist those with post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder.
Covid news is more of the "Hey, it's our turn now!": books shops, take-out pizza places, everyone is ready to go. Officially, it's still "Let's not be hasty and careless. We don't want to have to do this all over again.
- A large bust of San Gennaro by Lello Esposito (image, right), recently unveiled in the city, has just been moved to in front of the Cotugno hospital and will remain there for the duration of the crisis
- A TV journalist put his foot in it by complaining to an open mike while they were rolling, "Man, this is no good. There's no one here. Can't we round up a crowd or something?"
Animals at the zoo are quiet and happy and eating everything in sight. Not a single elephant has volunteered as an ESP (emotional support pachyderm) in downtown Naples. ("Is there a problem, officer? Jumbo, put the nice man down.")
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -#5. April 18-
The Big Picture
If there is a big picture to all this, it can probably be summed up in the phrase "Be essential". But first, something amusing, at least to everyone in Italy, and that includes Naples. This happened in Venice but was instantly all over the nation: the video shows a couple kissing after their marriage, out in front of the courthouse. They're wearing masks because that is required, but they're having fun with it. They smooch right through the masks. The follow-up will be a video of them trying to maintain "social distance" while consummating their marriage doing that other thing that some scholars say is even more fun than kissing. Stay tuned.
Back to being essential. Businesses that have been declared essential — say, some industry or other— are already open. At work they maintain safety protocol, as much as possible, by masks and not crowding together. But some non-essential enterprises are, thus, still closed, but have found a loophole: make your non-essential business essential by declaring it to be in the chain of supply that feeds into the essential one, many links away at the top of the chain. To do that, naturally, you have to fill out a form, a request. But the government, facing a backlog of applications, has clarified Italy’s lockdown laws to say that companies need not wait for government approval to go ahead. Many such companies have reopened and happily comply with the mask and "social distancing" requirements in their places of work. One worker said, "I feel a lot safer here on the job than going shopping."
There have been a few breaks in the quarantine protocol here in Naples: reporters with mikes gathering around a politician, all pressed up against one another with their digital recorders, trying get sound bites. Not a mask among them. Not even the guy they were interviewing. Bad, bad. Yet, here's something good, good. If you are, say, a pro-bicycle racer, you just can't go out and train. Use the stationary bike you certainly have at home —OR— do something necessary and helpful: be a delivery person on your bike! (image, above). They showed a guy, a top-name bike rider turned cardio-vascular super-good Samaritan. Run into the pharmacy, run out, jump on the bike, then race like crazy to the market, buy the groceries, run out and back onto on the bike. And he was really moving! He was training and happy, and the people he delivered to were happy. Win-win.
Stats from the local hospitals are generally better. New cases? Yes, a few. Deaths? Yes, but down. Recoveries? Yes, up.
Yet here's a woman who says she has been waiting 19 days to get tested with a cotton nose plug — the easiest way. (Stick one in a nostril, let it soak up whatever is in there, take it out. Fast results. Nineteen days?)
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#6. April 19-
On a Smaller Scale
There are, of course, some good human interest items, but there are also some that bear keeping an eye on. Some, maybe both. (That last one has more to do with the image on the right. I'll get to it.) The best human interest story today comes from the Rizzoli hospital on the island of Ischia, where they have released their first "cured" covid-19 patient. He came in "positive" and now he is negative. Celebrations were in order (although you can't predict the future of even "cured" patients; that will take a lot of time and effort to properly "sequence" the virus (make a chart of the nucleotides), but for now he is fine. The staff gathered to welcome the 25-year-old young man on his way out. He thanked them for their love and their work. It was an emotional ceremony and a great send-off. At the moment there are 60 residents of the island who are infected with the virus. Two have died.
Still good. Some towns in the Campania region have declared that they are ready to open parks used by children. The hours will be limited. Children must be accompanied by family members or primary care givers. Volunteer "quarantine watchers" will also be present to see that protocols for mask and social distancing are followed. Twelve towns in the Campania region say they are ready for this.
Still good. In some small towns in Campania, a lot of cops have bicycles anyway. There is not that much ground to cover, and you keep on friendlier terms (you're on a first-name basis with a lot of the people anyway) if you can wave from a bike and not a squad car. Now some these "bike mounties" are delivering food and medicine as they pedal along.
There was a large crowd assembled for the funeral of the mayor of the town of Saviano, who died of covid-19. Rest in Peace.
This one bears keeping an eye on. In the region of Campania, if you arrive by train from an area that is known to have a high level of contagion, you will go into a two-week quarantine. This has nothing to do with people from other regions of Italy. There is a large network of narrow-gauge rail service, primarily the Circumvesuviana railway, with 90 stations or so, all of which are in the Campania region. Some of the stations still have "hot spots". The number of open stations has been greatly reduced, and the ones that are open are guarded. If you get off the train, they will check you for the presence of the virus. If you're clean, you can go if you have documents showing why you out wandering around in the first place. The constant message in all of this is: if you don't have to be out, stay home, and if you are not afraid of this thing, you aren't fearless, you're just stupid.
This is about the image (top right). First, I used to read comics. Everyone my age read comics when they were my age when I was that age — you know what I mean. I have spoken of this elsewhere. My own Jr. High School book reports would have been impossible but for the famous (or infamous) Classics Illustrated, a comic book series started in 1947. Number 1 in the series was The Three Musketeers. (That issue, in very fine condition, costs $225 on the internet these days. I paid 10 cents back then. I recall collecting most of the Classics Illustrated up to #100, Mutiny on the Bounty, when my tastes changed more in the direction of soft, living, non-collectibles who made you buy them stuff just for one lousy kiss. English teachers hated those comics. We loved them, and how fondly I recall the epistemological debates on whether, in lieu of actually reading the book, one should use these comics (which I favored) or a book called 100 Famous Plot Outlines, favored by my best friend, Steve. He is still my best friend, and we have not resolved that dispute to this day.The news today says that while they are waiting for Phase 2, to wit, the restart of the complete productive and social life of the nation, including the opening of book shops, we should note that comics have always been an integral part of publishing. One of the first comic books (alias "graphic novels") they hope to have out features on the cover the image you see above on the right. It is called "Something is Killing the Children" described as a "jewel of urban fantasy." "Did you wash your hands for 30 seconds, dear? That's nice. Here, let mommy tuck you in, dear. That's nice. Yes, I'll leave the night light on. Here, why don't you curl up with a good book? This looks good: Something is Killing the Children."
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Roof-running, the virus, and kids without gramps
That funeral I mentioned yesterday produced a mass of people, all of them except the deceased were living, breathing, and touching their faces, shaking hands and doing the two-cheek kisserino. Covid-19 had a field day. The town lit up the virus gizmos like a coronatree. The town is now a "red zone" and everyone who was there has to go into self-quarantine for 14-days. No one into town, no one out. They're not kidding!
From various major hospitals in Campania yesterday: In the last 24 hours there have been 41 new cases of contagion, the results of 2.893 exams from cotton nose plugs.
The cops have arrested two Chinese (on the east side of Naples—"Chinatown") for possession of 116,000 counterfeit masks (falsely branded) with intent to sell
O the humanity! ...wait, maybe I misread this. Phase 2 of the recovery will be very long (and things will never be the way they were). The Italian headline was this: ecco il piano dell’Anm sul metrò passeggeri dimezzati. /Here is the plan for rail-tram transport. What?! They're going to cut passengers in half?! This is going too far!
"No dear," explained Selene, my shrink, whom I hurried to see in swift need of words to keep me afloat in my foundering traumatized state. "Yes, dear, 'dimezzato' means 'cut in half' but, in my professional opinion, it really refers to the passenger load and not to each individual passenger."
"Oh." I reached for my wallet."
"No, we're cool. Just leave the credit card and PIN number. See you next crisis. Here, I'll just hold on to the card for you."
Each tram (two long compartments joined by a circular flexi-joint in the middle) was designed to carry 800 passengers. They will now (and maybe forever) carry 400. There will be turnstiles at the entrances and masks and gloves on board. Similar plans are being drawn up for buses, the underground Metropolitana, and the cable cars. Buses with regular rubber tires will be drastically cut in number, saving those lines with the most traffic but with more of them. The goal: fewer passengers in each bus.
Roof-jogging (image above). I have run everywhere in Naples; streets, the beach, stairs, and into the back door of a stalled bus and out the front in a bad traffic jam. I have even juggled while running. When I jogged, locals still called it "footing". But I never ran on a roof. With the quarantine, there is no other place to work out, stretch, run. As you note in the image, those two persons have good space. That flat roof is typical. There are dozens of buildings like that in the immediate area.
Human interest: a citizenry with fewer and fewer elderly (and that is what the virus is doing) is not good for the young. Most families I know depend on grandma or grandpa to do many things: cook, clean, and take care of your kids. In modern families with two working parents, they are indispensable. Now they are being dispensed with. Nothing will change the nature of the Neapolitan family (or, generally, the Italian family) more than that — not even divorce (introduced in Italy in 1970 ) or the now common enough acceptance of the "blended" family, weirdly Dostoyevskian ("that's the second cousin of my second wife's niece. Her name? We have to wait until after the operation — Something-ex, I think. What am I, an anthropologist? How do I know?!)
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#8. April 21-
Three Important Persons
Today, there seem to me to be only two items of real importance in Italy and Naples, but they are monumentally important, so I'll concentrate on them. The first is a statement by the president of the Campania region, Vincenzo De Luca (image, right).
(A region in Italy is the next administrative level down from the top, approximately like a state in the U.S or Australia, and a province in Canada. This is generally called the first-level of administrative devolution. There is no real equivalent in the United Kingdom since that first level devolves to the countries that make up the U.K: England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland). So whatever your first-level is wherever you live, whoever is in charge of it is usually important in the political scheme of things. Such is the case with Vincenzo De Luca.The second item may not seem important, but it is, historically and for the future. It is the very difficult relationship between the government (also the church) and science. An important and respected
virologist Ilaria Capua has quit the Chamber of Deputies and will leave the country to live and work elsewhere.
1. De Luca's message was this:
As far as phase 2 goes [reopening the economy and returning the nation to normal], we need to act responsibly. An Italian region with a situation that is very disturbing, in epidemiological terms, such as Lombardy, Veneto, or Piedmont, can ruin the entire nation by acting irresponsibly. If these regions that still show high rates of infection race now to get ahead at all costs, we will close the borders of Campania and not allow persons from those areas into our region... It would be disastrous to open the economy up in a haphazard fashion only to have to close everything down again in two weeks. The nation, itself, cannot take another such period of isolation under quarantine.Short and clear. If you are in a hurry to make money, you pose a threat to the nation. We will not let you in. Can he do that? Well, that is the kind of issue that causes civil war, secession...all that. He can certainly threaten to do it, and he has just done that.
2. Virologist Ilaria Capua is best known for her research on influenza viruses and her efforts promoting open access to genetic information on emerging viruses as part of pre-pandemic preparedness efforts. She has led an international campaign promoting free access to genetic sequences derived from viruses with pandemic potential and has consistently provided information to open-source data banks — basically; here, if you need this information, take it. One observer described Capua as "belonging to a long tradition of scientists rebelling against established ideas...but also advocating a new outlook in which scientific cooperation is "enacted directly between scientists and not mediated by institutions." She's a gadfly. A trouble maker. In 2014 it was revealed that Capua had been the subject of a ten-year criminal investigation by Italian police [sub-text: on behalf of those out to get her.] The investigation led to an alleged conspiracy of scientists and pharmaceutical companies to increase the sales of vaccines by deliberately spreading viruses. Read that again. Deliberately spreading viruses! In many places, that is a capital offense. In Italy, it'll get you life. In July 2016 she was cleared of all charges. The judge said "there was evidence of fabrication of evidence against her." She resigned personally and passionately to the Chamber of Deputies. She has been arrested, vilified, threatened and can no longer do her job.
[This recalls 2012 when six scientists were convicted of manslaughter for advice they gave ahead of the deadly L'Aquila earthquake. It wasn't because they were guilty of "failure to predict an earthquake" (as the papers mis-framed it), but that their advice was "unjustifiably reassuring, leading some of the 309 victims of the earthquake, to stay in their homes. They each got six years. The conviction was overturned,]
Ilaria Capua will go elsewhere to work. In the past she has worked at the University of Florida in the U.S. and will likely return. She is frustrated by what she says is an anti-scientific attitude among politicians. “Italy lacks a culture in science-based policies,” she says. I hope she finds Florida and the U.S. more receptive to science. I remind her of the governor of Florida's recent inaction in the face of the corona outbreak. As a much lighter level, in 2015 James Inhofe, the Republican senator from Oklahoma (author of Global Warming, the Greatest Hoax) brought a snowball into the U.S. Congress to prove his point. Light in a way, but he wasn't kidding. So if you ask, Do politicians know anything about anything? Well, a lot of people have asked that question. At a much weightier level in the area of the state vs. science you might mention Galileo. Maybe another time.
I said two, but this is important as well. It's from Selene Salvi, just up the road. She says,
It's a good thing you avoid social media. A mad-house! When all this started you might have thought that people were finally going to understand how important competence is, especially in science. Now it's worse than ever. I know people are tired, and that it isn't easy to stay cooped up at home for such a long time, but now the conspiracy nuts have crawled out of the woodwork —it's all a plot by Big Pharma in league with the government (at least Jewish bankers can breathe a sigh of relief) to take total control of our lives. If you try to have a discussion with them, you are met with ignorance and charges that you are in the pay of "the strong and powerful" (don't I wish!).
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#9. April 22-
Easter Eggs and Social Strength
If you're interested in how people elsewhere are faring, this comes from Toronto, Ontario, Canada:
"Any 2 people who don't live together, who fail to keep 2 metres or 3 geese apart in a park, are subject to a $1,000 fine."
Your first question is "What in the hell is wrong with people in Toronto? They measure distance in geese? "Just 25 geese up the road, pal. Can't miss it." Ancillary questions might be, What if I have a super-sized goose, 6 feet bill to butt? How can I keep the geese from goose-stepping. I hate that. Do the geese themselves have to maintain social distancing? Wear masks? Where exactly do the geese fit in that song about the Twelve Days of Christmas? How does it work grammatically? Is it, Keep three goose-lengths apart, or Keep three geese-lengths apart? What about the verb 'to goose' — always popular, always tricky. Oh, are the geese then automatically emotional support animals (this link, above)?
Good news. The other day we had our first 24-hour period in the city of Naples in which there were no new cases of covid-19 infection and no deaths reported. Thus, updated for the city of Naples since the beginning of the emergency through April 19th, there were 833 cases of infection, of whom 52 died. There was also a period of four consecutive days with no deaths. Looking at the numbers for the region of Campania as a whole, on April 17 the region had registered 3,951 "positives" (cases of contagion) and 293 deaths. Projecting that trend, Campania should be out of the emergency by May 9. (It is not clear to me if "out of the emergency" necessarily means no new cases and no deaths at all and for how long.) The National Observatory for Regional Health cautions that such projections may vary greatly depending on the extent to which a given region has been infected. In short-speak, the "hotter" you are, the longer it will take." Sounds right and, at least to me, relatively hopeful.
Nine persons from the country of Georgia and one from the Czech Republic were fined for celebrating Orthodox Easter last Sunday in a small private ground-floor apartment in downtown Naples in violation of the quarantine restriction on assemblies. This has nothing to do with freedom of religion. Roman Catholics in Naples (there are a few) didn't go to church either last week. About the only person in the Cathedral of Naples was the archbishop. My housekeeper, Luba, is Eastern Roman Catholic (which adheres to the Orthodox liturgical calendar). She went to her daughter's home in Naples for Easter and just came back, so I've spent the last few hours learning about the spectacular Ukrainian colored Easter eggs called "Pyanska". I knew nothing about them and now I do. Besides, this is a good place to drop in this picture and mention the existence of a Pyanska Museum built in 2000 in the western Ukrainian city of Kolomyia.
Nor will the 5,000 Muslims in Naples have a normal Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, observed by Muslims as a month of fasting and prayer. This year it runs from April 23 to May 23 in the common Gregorian calendar. The president of the Islamic Community of Naples, imam Aki-Adnkronos, says "The situation in Italy and the rest of the world obliges us to stay home and follow the rules...Normally this is a time of togetherness and community for us. This year it is different. We will obey the laws of Italy. I have contacted the community via the internet. Stay home.
A meeting is in progress of a Campania Regional task force to evaluate the possibility of "reopening" the following at the beginning of next week: take-out fast-food places, book-shops, and those that sell paper products.
In spite of the 14 new "positives" yesterday, there is optimism and a show of amazing social strength going on. It has to do with the photo (shown, right) primarily with what people just call "Napul'è mille panari" (a play on "Napul'è mille colori" a popular song by Pino Daniele, who is no longer with us. The title of the original translates as "Naples is a thousand colors." In this version, it says "Naples is a thousand bread baskets." The sign says on this basket and many others in the city, "If you can, put something in; if you can't, take what you need." There is an earlier reference to the "basket trade" here. It's a convenient way to go shopping without having to go shopping. You lower the basket with money in it and the delivery guy on bicycle puts what you ordered plus your change in the basket and you haul it back up. Good service. But this is quite different. The baskets are probably put up by nearby shop-keepers with a few "seed" items in them so that people get the idea. They do. Give what you can. Take what you need. It's too bad that foreign tourists can't come in for a while and see this. If there is anything you should take home as an impression of what Naples is all about, a lot of it is generosity and kindness.
And the mayor of Naples seems upbeat: "We can forget international tourism this year. That's ok. We'll shoot for 2021. This year we have to change the way we move. More bicycles, a lot fewer cars, we'll open up walkways and pedestrian zones. Watch."
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Tough on Tourism
#10. April 23-
As the mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris, pointed out (item above), Naples can forget about tourism this summer. He
glossed over it a bit. Opening walkways and pedestrian zones may not quite cut it. It might be wise to look at an area of great concern: the tourist industry.
Take your choice. It's all closed.With over 60 million tourist arrivals a year Italy is the fifth most visited country in international tourism. Tourism is one of the nation's fastest growing and most profitable sectors, with an estimated annual revenue of €190 billion. Italy has more World Heritage Sites than any other country. Even the less famous economy of agriturismo (you pay them and they let run you the tractor for a while and pet the donkies, and the food is delicious) and the vast hotel industry are a big part of the wealth of the nation. If you break the nation into north, central, and south, the south consists of Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Abruzzo, and Molise. (Sicily is there, too, but is excluded here for purposes of this brief overview.) The city of Naples is the capital of Campania and is one of Italy's (and Europe's) top tourist cities. Naples is Italy's fourth-largest economy after Milan, Rome and Turin, and is the world's 103rd-largest urban economy by purchasing power with an estimated (in 2015) gross domestic product of over US$85 billion, equivalent to $30,000 per capita. Naples is a major cargo terminal, and the port of Naples is one of the Mediterranean's largest and busiest. If you close all of that down for the spring, summer and early autumn, that spells economic disaster for lot of people.
The European Tourism Manifesto alliance, the voice of the European travel and tourism sector, has called for urgent measures to limit the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the tourist sector. These measures include:
Temporary state aid for the tourism and travel sectors from national governments;
Fast and easy access to short- and medium-term loans to overcome liquidity shortages;
Protection of workers from unemployment and loss of income (by short-time work schemes, upskilling and reskilling);
Deferment of fiscal and social contributions;
Support action for the wider field of culture (arts and heritage).
In short, this is a very bad year. It can hurt and discourage you, but it doesn't have to kill you. Now is the time to use the great line from Dante, the final line of the Inferno: E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stelle / ("and thus we went up and saw the stars again")
(Inferno XXXIV, 139).
There was a lively TV talk last night, broadcast nation-wide, between the governor of the Campania region, Vincenzo De Luca (shown) and president of the Lombardy region, Attilio Fontana, each sitting in a TV studio in their respective capitals of Naples and Milan. I present some of their points in the first-person (called the "Lazy Narrator" in literary circles). These are not their exact words, but this is what they meant.
De Luca: I know that commercial supply lines are already viable and that they work. But I'm not interested in things. I'm talking about people, human beings. We have to use common sense here. We have been severe with these restrictions because we are the most densely populated area in Europe. We're like Singapore. You have to do this right or you'll have a slaughter on your hands. This is a terrible sickness. There is death all around us, and I say that strongly because I sense a growing tendency to minimize it all —oh, it's not all that bad, let's not overdo it. Well, it is that bad, and, yes, I know there is some medical opinion that perhaps the virus has become less aggressive. We can hope that is the case, but it's not a go-ahead to let our guard down. Remember, we are talking about the fate of our entire nation. In principle, of course I want the nation to open up, but that doesn't mean opening everything everywhere at the same time. There are places with almost no contagion and others where contagion is strong. We have to limit movement of persons between the two.
(Fontana's position was very legalistic but not at all incorrect.):
As a president of an Italian region, you are overstepping your authority. That position in not sustainable. If the fate of the nation is at stake —and I see your point— then that should be the job of the federal government, not yours.
- In more tangible news, home deliveries from pizzerias and other fast-food delivery places should start Monday. That is a substantial relief for those places. There will be thousands of persons back at work.
- The island of Ischia has had its third Covid-19 death, a 76-year-old woman, one of eight "positives" in a care-facility in the town of Serra Fontana. At the moment, there are 67 "positives" on the island. The mayor of Ischia let off some steam by at least putting his statement on record that "We depend on tourism, both from mainland Italy and from abroad. I fear an economic collapse in the wake of this health crisis."
- Light-hearted but not unimportant: Here's a statue of Diego Armando Maradona, the great Argentine soccer star who played for Naples in the 1980s. The statue is in Buenos Aires, and they have put a mask on him! The photo is making the rounds of Neapolitan social media. You know, kids, if Maradona says to wear the mask, wear the mask.
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#11. - Apr.24
Lazarus, come Forth!
The raising of Lazarus is a miracle of Jesus recounted in the Gospel of John in the New Testament (John 11:43). There are countless references to it in literature. Until yesterday, my favorite was a cynical pun in James Joyce's Ulysses, where Leopold Bloom, pondering the resurrection of the dead, says "Come forth, Lazzarus! And he came fifth and lost the job." [image: Vincent van Gogh - 1853-1890]
I want to add another literary reference. There are three parts to this;
(1) yet another RAI speaker, Vittorio Feltri, put his foot in it the other day (these guys have a mouthful of feet by now) when he said (on someone being shot in the town of Ostia, near Rome), "In Naples, Palermo, Reggio Calabria, you get kneecapped, no one notices, but up here...
blah... blah." Feltri has also said on other occasions: "Who wants to go to Campania,? What would you do, get a job parking cars illegally?" and "It's not that they [southerners] have an inferiority complex. Many times, they are inferior." Well, now he's being sued because the Italian constitution says "All citizens have equal social dignity." They'll nail him. And good for them.
(2) After Feltri's broadcast, the mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris released a video, saying: "I see we're not lacking the usual bursts of putrefied belches out of the mouths of certain pseudo-intellectuals. I would like to dedicate this song to those who hate Naples and the south.
(3) He cites the song (and my vote for new literary reference!) "Je so pass" [I'm crazy] by Pino Daniele (also mentioned above). It's sort of a "Leave me alone"-song. "I'm mad. I'm in a hurry. I know I'm a failure. Don't bother to tell me. I might start a revolution. Just like Masaniello. Maybe that's me, and I'm back. And you are really starting to piss me off." So, back to James Joyce, no matter what we do, it's never good enough for you. We still finish fifth. We still lose the job.
So, Easter, resurrection, this Lazarus of a city. Cautioned by the fact that there is no consensus among biblical scholars on what happened to Lazurus for the rest of his life, at least Naples is slowly making its way back.
(Here, I note with regret an additional number of "positives" in Campania. With 12 hospitals and clinics reporting from throughout the region, there were 53 new cases of contagion out of 2,623 tests. Thus the total of "positives" so far in the crisis rises to 4.238 out of 58,324 person tested. I find no accurate report of deaths, so this is a 'guesstimate'. The number of "positives" is 4,000 (very few compared to the rest of Italy) and the mortality rate is about 6% (the 1918 'Spanish Flu' was 2%). Thus, that gives you about 250 deaths from covid-19 in the Campania region. I appreciate more precise numbers if you have them. Thank you.)
In news that is not as sick, at least some establishments in Campania are set to open on Monday. That includes coffee bars, restaurants, pizza places, pastry shops, and ice-cream parlors, BUT (sorry) only for take-out. You are still at home, remember? Some light industry, including Whirlpool, the makers of home appliances should open in all of Italy. Whirlpool is an American multinational corporation with headquarters in the U.S.and has 70 manufacturing and technology research centers around the world. Fifteen of them are in Emea (gotcha! That is businessese for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.) There are six in Italy, with one in Naples. Those six should open on Monday.
It's Byronic Man!
The "Threatened Sting" - turns to a tingle
Lord George Gorden Byron 1788-1824
portrait of Byron by Thomas Phillips, c.1813
Byron in Canto 9 (st. 11) of Don Juan says
Death laughs at all you weep for -- look upon
This hourly dread of all, whose threatened sting
Turns life to terror...
The italics are Byron's. He wants you to understand that the sting is only a threat. What sting is that? —one of most quoted
passages in Christian scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 --"Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?*
*Christian scripture is obviously front-loaded for Resurrection, but there are a number of references in Hebrew
scripture, notably Dan. 12:1-3, "...many who sleep in the dust of death awaken and the righteous shine as stars..."
We can't say it didn't sting. Now it just tingles a bit. OK, maybe more than a little bit.
- On the Corona front we have good news that the 46-year-old nurse at the Cotugno hospital (the main one in Naples for Covid patients), who was the first among health-care personnel to catch the virus, has now tested positive and is ready to go back to work. First, he has to go home for two weeks under quarantine. "My goal?" he says, "get back to work." He has worked at the same hospital for 20 years.
The local news does not easily report the number of covid-19 deaths, at least not on a daily basis. This is, I suppose, understandable. Emphasize recovery and life — go easy on death. "Johnson, I cut your story on the 'grim maw of nothingness that awaits us all.' Oh, you're fired."
- This sounds harsh, but they have it coming. I cited two large funeral assemblies (above) to say farewell to the mayor of Saviano. The cops have tracked down 54 of those in attendance and fined them for violating the quarantine and fined them (nicely calling it an "administrative sanction"!). Said coppers are also looking for the rest! Go ahead and run, you fiends! You can't hide forever. Come out with your hands in the air. Wash them first!
- This is more like it! There is a large black panther on the loose near Benevento near the town of Torrecuso in what is still rugged country. The mayor has posted warning notices all over. (These are called "praetorial boards" so you can improve your vocabulary while being devoured). No doubt the mayor had an underling do the physical posting — ("I'll be resting under the bed.") The word is out that the panther is not really big on tins of Kit-Kat Snacks. This is where you come in. Take one for the team.
- This is nuts cool! When the beaches open — and they will — how do you maintain social distancing? The beach itself in not that long. Answer? Floating bed/deck chairs, little floats that softly cradle you while you doze and while beach personnel run down to check if the kraken is really caged (image here).
What's more, my housekeeper has just returned from up on the Vomero hill and says, "There are a lot people". On the street, a cop might ask you to wear your mask. In the cable-car they ask you to sit in alternating seats. All very orderly. But there's an anticipatory tingle in the air.
#13 - April 26 -
Liberation Day and Quarantine
Saturday was Liberation Day (Festa della liberazione) in Italy, also known as the Anniversary of the Liberation of Italy
(Anniversario della liberazione d'Italia), Anniversary of the Resistance (Anniversario della Resistenza), or simply 25 April (25 aprile). It is a national Italian holiday commemorating the end of Nazi occupation during World War II and the victory of the Resistance in Italy. This is distinct from Republic Day (Festa della Repubblica), which takes place on 2 June, and distinct from National Unity and Armed Forces Day which commemorates the victory in World War I, a war event considered the completion of the process of the unification of Italy (which began in 1860). It is, however, distinct from National Unholiday, which, unlike Lewis Carrol's Unbirthday, does not exist, as contradictory as that may seem, which we celebrate on National Contradiction Day, which is pretty much every day.
This year the celebrations were subdued and socially distanced. The order of the day was "distance and masks." The song
of the day was Bella Ciao (Good-bye, beautiful)* —all day and, if you can... well, ok, just for a few seconds, you can take off the mask." Bella ciao is the popular song/anthym associated with the partisan resistance movement against (to use the Italian phrase) "nazifascismo" (Nazis being the Germans still in Italy in 1944/5 and those Italian fascists who supported the Germans, typically supporters of the Republic of Salò, a German puppet state set-up around Lake Garda.
[I note for linguistic precision that it doesn't take much to change "I got up early to slave in the rice paddies" (coming up, below) to "I got up early to go kill Nazis."] Also, the gender of the title and the lyrics assume that the speaker is a male singing to a woman: o-endings are male and a-endings are female and we all know that resistance fighters are men and they leave women at home when they go off to fight the baddies —also always men. Since all that is baloney I say we use the snappy neolofix -ex. Thus Bellex Ciao. This is where the image (just below) comes in.Most music historians agree that no matter when it was actually first sung, Bella Ciao was not identified as a "song of the resistance" until after the war was over. Some historians have called the song "the invention of a tradition." Nevertheless, the song has been translated into many languages and used in various "revolutionary" contexts around the world as far apart as South America and in the Middle East today. The song has no identified author or authors (unlike other anthems of a political or national nature — say, La Marseilles or The Internazionale). (It has even been a "sore winners" chant of soccer fans as a "bye-bye" to the losers whom they have just shellacked. Bella Ciao-skeptics have been known to sing (playing on the similarity of the word partigiano/resistance fighter) to a kind of cheese: "C'è parmigiano e mozzarella, diversi tipi di cheese, cheese, cheese...). The song is surrounded by mixed claims as to origin. So you play along with singing along because you don't know and maybe don't care.
Historians look for sources that might tell us bit more. Scholars of folk music converge for the antecedent of Bella Ciao on an Italian protest folk song (with similar lyrics) that originated in the hardships of the mondine, women who weeded the paddy fields in Italy's Po Valley from the late 19th century to the first half of the 20th century. They sang it to protest against harsh working conditions. There is a published version of that song from 1906; it comes from near Vercelli, Piedmont. There are at least two films and a number of scholarly articles and books about those women and their plight. The poster, above, is for Bitter Rice (Riso Amaro, a 1949 Italian film made by Lux Film, written and directed by Giuseppe De Santis. Produced by Dino De Laurentiis and starring Silvana Mangano and Vittorio Gassman. Bitter Rice was a commercial success in Europe and the United States. The Italian title of the film is a pun (lost in translation); the Italian word riso can mean either "rice" or "laughter", so the Italian title can be taken to mean either "bitter laughter" or "bitter rice". The story is based on the hard lives of the mondine (plural —the sing. is mondina. Although Bitter Rice did not win any awards, it was nominated for the 1950 Academy Award for Best Story and entered into the 1949 Cannes Film Festival.
All you can say with certainty is that the song is NOW identified with the Italian Resistance in WWII. Yesterday everyone was singing it all day in all 14 of the 12 keys, starting with an early morning TV appearance by a professional choir (image at the top of this entry), the members each presumably from his or her home to reinforce the idea of social distancing. They were joined electronically and sang "together", as you see in the image. (Music groups around the world do that now.) Later in the day, there was to be a live performance of Bella ciao by the mayor of Naples, Luigi de Magistris and others (aka "Hot Voice" Larry and his Tone-Deaf Gargoyles from Hell). If it happened, I'm happy I missed it. Imagine politicians socially distanced on different balconies of the Royal Palace, daringly introducing the musical novelty of "tonal distancing".
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#14. April 27 -
"Free at last!...Free at last..."
That phrase means "Hurry up slowly" in Latin. It reminds you of similar expressions, but ones that are not quite the
same. Certainly not "Haste makes waste. Nice rhyme but it misses the point. Maybe "Hurry up and wait," which I learned
in the army. Or "with all deliberate speed." Those two mean "Do what you have to as quickly as possible but do it
deliberately and cautiously so as to make sure you do it right." That is what "Festina lente" means.
It's a rhetorical expression and, technically, a paradox, an oxymoron. Combining opposites like that makes you stop and think about the deeper truth involved, and there is one of those here. Augustus Caesar knew this. Roman historian Suetonius (c. 69 – c. 122 AD) in De Vita Caesarum / The Twelve Caesars, says Augustus deplored rashness in a military commander and that festina lente was one of his favorite expressions. "Hasten slowly" [said Augustus] ... "Better a safe commander than a bold one... That which has been done well has been done quickly enough." A synonym for "rash" is "foolhardy," foolish and bold. In short, if you drive a fast car, make sure the brakes work.
In the Middle Ages there were symbols that combined animals as icons of festina lente: a hare in a snail shell; a tortoise with a sail mounted on the shell (image, left), and perhaps most recognizably, a dolphin entwined around an anchor (image, center), an emblem of the University of Salamanca, Spain. Farther afield: In physics, the "Festina Lente Limit" refers to the Strong Confinement Limit, which is a mode of an atom laser in which the frequency of emission of the Bose–Einstein condensate is less than the confinement frequency of the trap, generally shown as γ < ω. (But you knew that. Excuse me.) And Goethe refers to both the proverb and Augustus' adoption of it in his poem Hermann und Dorothea (the German rendition itself rhymes—"Eile mit Weile"/ Hurry but take a while). Wonderfully, Festina lente is also the name of a pedestrian bridge (image, right) over the Miljacka River in Sarajevo. The bridge is 38 meters long and features an unusual looping in the middle, suggesting "Hey, what's the hurry? Enjoy the view." It was opened in 2012.
Now there is a city, Festinap Lente ("nap" as in Napoli or "take a nap").
That is what Naples did for many, many weeks. The president of the Campania region, Vincenzo De Luca (at entries #8 and #10 above this one) was obsessive about it. Today is Monday, the day of the restart. Has it paid off? Yes, but life will not be the same because restarting does not mean, God forbid, going back to the way things were. For the rest of my life here I expect to see masks for a while and people not crowded together maybe ever again. One can hope.
It was perfect. De Luca was on TV Sunday morning and expressed a bit of exasperation. "People keep asking me, 'Well, now we can open the movidas again, right?' A movida (from Spanish) is a sex-drugs-&-rock'n'rolleria for the 18-25 demographic; that is, young enough to do all that stuff, but not old enough to think. De Luca said —these are his exact words; "Are you people crazy? Have you been drinking your brains away for the last few weeks?" He then explained things for the umpteenth time. Slowly but surely is still what we are going to do."
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#15 - April 28
A Return to Normalcy
Yesterday, Monday, was the first day in many weeks when Giuseppe Citadino (Joe Citizen) was free to wander around a bit outside. Seclusion, however, has changed people a lot. No, you don't have to wear a face mask if you're walking around by yourself on the street, but they're obligatory if want you to go into a store and buy something. There, you wait to enter — one at a time, and you can go in when someone leaves. You have to wear a mask if you ride public transport and you can't sit next to another person. I just looked out and there were a few persons out there, but they looked a bit like free-range zombies. Not very enthusiastic. My mask (image, right) sure keeps the wierdos away.
Papers and TV were overselling how normal everything is becoming, but it's clear that no one believes it, at least not yet. The emphasis in the media has shifted from covid, covid, covid to more like covid, normal, normal. You see how bad some normal news used to be. You might get the regular almost perfunctory report that the number of new cases is very small (and getting smaller) and the number of "cured" is increasing. Of course that is good, but then it turns "normal" and ugly, just like the bad old days.
It may be that some people have decided that they don't really mind staying at home that much. If possible, we are now more aware of the internet than before, when we all ran into trees, cars and one another because we couldn't take our eyes off our smart-phones. Kids who cannot yet return to school can appreciate things they might never have been able to. The National Archaeological Museum of Naples (the Italian acronym is MANN) is said to be the most "social" museum in Italy, primarily from its presence on Facebook. Go to Facebook, search MANN. The museum has announced it will reopen, physically, in June.
- A policeman was killed trying to stop a bank robbery. He was at the wheel of his squad car, jumped out and was run down by the crooks in their getaway car. The agent was 37 and leaves behind a wife and two children. Two of the crooks were apprehended and are under guard in a hospital. The search is on for a third accomplice.
mayor (left) & president, the happy couple
- The crisis generates some almost-humor. The mayor, Luigi de Magistris enjoys irritating everyone, including the president of the region, Vinzenzo De Luca. Now that the pizzerias are open to deliver to your home, De Magristris tried to explain to De Luca on TV that you just can't have the ovens on for a few hours a day: "Sure, I'll eat it if that's all they've got. But yeast takes a long time to prepare. Even in wartime we didn't close down the ovens like this. You don't even know how to prepare yeast. What a mad-house." image - la Repubblica
The crisis has also generated some serious problems. While it's true that a lot of school-kids can watch internet programs about archaeology, here's a report about "Forgotten Children." Pediatricians and psychologists have written open letters to the government saying that there are 10 million very young children in Italy who must be allowed to return to schools, to teachers and friends. This, they say, has become a major issue of "the rights of minors". They advocate copying the models of schools in some northern countries that have not closed their schools for the entire summer. In Italy, it will be months before schools are open on a normal basis.
This problem did not start with the covid crisis, but there is ample documentation that abuse of wives and children increased
when domestic bullies were at home all day (because of the crisis). The entry here from a few weeks ago spends some time on that issue. The general news today simply cited an agonizing number of recent incidents of wives being battered by
their husbands (often in front of their children) and of children being beaten by the bully husband with the wife helpless to stop it. The news doesn't make a "covid connection". It's just a reminder that this is some of the "normalcy" we are returning to. The cops got distress calls from neighbors, and the offenders were habitual domestic bullies, charged and even arrested going way back before the covid crisis. The papers, too, are returning to normal.
This one I just like. You will note here that the craft of making genuine Neopolitan pizza has been added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. To commemorate that addition, the Italian mint has issued a €5 coin with Pulcinella and a margherita pizza (in color!), A spokesman said "this a good answer to those who insist on offending the south with comments such as "no more pizzas or mandolins."
Big event of my day: I got two free masks from the city.
END OF MISC. p. 77