Tuesday, December 15, 2009


I knew it! The Media got their facts wrong - again. The replica of the Duomo which Massimo Tartaglia, Prime Minister Berlusconi's assailant hurled at his face was neither metallic nor matrble; it was made of plastic. Even so, an object replicating a Gothic cathedral with its spires) pointed and sharp if thrown with great force can do considerable damage.

Tartaglia has apologized to Berlusconi. His apology was accepted. Why ever not? Berlusconi has never been nor will he ever be a vengeful man. He is not one to nurse grudges. Indeed, he is very generous towards his friends, wives, girlfriends and occasional mates for the night.

I have had more than my share of professional contacts with Berlusconi. I conducted a radio show "CIAO BABY" which was under the aegis of his Fouth Channel. Only jazz and ethnic music was played. Sponsors begged to participate commercially.

Berlusconi was a dream boss. He never interfered with my opinions which rarely wavered from the controversial, the hard hitting and the some times inflammatory.

Here are two examples off the top of my head of the many instances of non-interference with editorial content.

In a program on Brazil; songs  from Vinicius de Morais, Antonio "Tony" Carlos Jobim, Toquinho, Ellis Regina, Gaetano Veloso,to name but a few formed an integral part of the show. And then I uttered the statement which created a row.

"Brazil is a stunningly beautiful almost never ending land mass with a population of 100 million people, 99.9% are desperately poor and the remaining 1% are disgustingly rich. They also don't care about the plight of the 99.9%. Why they don't even see it! So why don't the poor rise up in revolt against this constant abuse and injustice? One word is the answer: CARNAVAL. Take away carnaval and the Brazilian people will initiate a revolution the likes of which the Reign of Terror in the French Revolution would seem like Trick or Treat."

The Brazilian Ambassador to the Quirinale, was a frequent guest at my Villa of the Saracen in Bellosguardo, Florence. He made a formal protest to the Chairman of the Board of Mediaset - Silvio Berlusconi. He also told me he was very hurt at my" betrayal."

"Brava Cara!. Keep up the controversy. Bene Bene. Every paper and television newscaster is yakking about your declarations.  I have visited Brazil. The misery is too awful. Certainly, you are not retracting any part of your statement, Ciao, again, Brava."

On the Anniversay of the bombing of Pearl Harbor I played swing music which was popular at the time both i Hawaii as well as in Manila. 'The Japanese bombed both cities on the same day. The American papers only singled out the naval air station of Pearl Harbor, because Manila was the capital of the American Empire, the Philippines their only colony

"As a Republic, America felt uncomfortable exposing the fact that it had a Pacific Empire in order to thwart Japan's hegemony there.  News can only be swept under the palm and coconut trees for so long and then the ugly truth comes out. On December 10th 1941, the Japanese invaded the Philippines, entering through its Northern island mass of Luzon. The Chief of the Armed Forces was a charismatic, handsome, tall, individualistic General "who took no crap from nobody" Douglas MacArthur. Back in the States, he was the country's most loved and popular hero so thousands of cats flew out of their bags."

The American Ambassador and the Japanese Ambassador not only sent letters of protest hand delivered by couriers to Silvio Berlusconi in Milan, it was CC. to me as well. Several hundred Americans,most of whom I knew as either friends and acquaintances, protested peacefully in front of the Piazza which housed Channel Four's radio and television studios.

"Stay away from the windows." my sound engineer warned me.

Berlusconi rang as I knew he would.

"Ciao Cara. Ho ricevuto le lettere.I have received their letters. You know what? I am going to ignore it. I shall reply a couple of weeks from today. Who knows, maybe I won't. I suppose few journalists would dare say anything. Indeed, they wouldn't even mention Pearl Harbor.  But there you are, you are you, and CIAO BABY has very high ratings! Even the prison population listens to you faithfully and regularly."

"Really Silvio, they're locked up for the love of God. What else can they do?"

" Don't you know that those in prison and in jails are sought after as highly prized audiences? I mean Radio Dimensione Suono, Rai Radio and Radio Montecarlo are in there trying to crack your ratings to no avail. They have no one even remotely similar to you. Keep it up."

How did this electronics engineer Massimo Tartaglia penetrate the wall of body guards? For one thing, Berlusconi likes being in the fray, he is a gregarious and social individual. When the attack took place, he was signing autographs.

I think he should rid himself of all those macho men and follow Muammar Ghadaffi's example.

" You should only trust women," said the Muslim Leader of Libya.

His bodyguards are all AMAZONS. What's more, most are Serbians.

Get well soon, Silvio. I like you, you have always been troppo simpatico to me.  It will  take more than a plastic replica of the Duomo used as a "shuriken" ( ninjas still use them because they are effective) to keep you down. He did manage to cut your unlined botoxed face, but it's a small matter. Cosmetic surgeons can patch you up like new. What are you rich for?

Will you ever be the same jolly, good-natured political seducer and womanizer that amuses me so?

Monday, December 14, 2009


Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was attacked by a mentally unstable man( or so says the Media) as he was on his way to his armor-plated limousine in Milan's Duomo after a political speech made to his supporters. He was struck in the face by a miniature metallic replica of the Duomo. According to a medical report from San Raffaele Hospital, he suffered two fractured front teeth, cuts on his lips which required 7 stitches, and lesions on his nose.

I don't have any statements to make. Just questions.

1. His attacker, Massimo Tartaglia is an electronics engineer, not an insignificant accomplishment. Again, the Media, owned and controlled by Berlusconi except for LA REPUBBLICA, whose major shareholder is his political and social adversary, tycoon Carlo de Benedetti; but in cases like attempts to injure or to kill a politicaL or financial Leader, the Media closes ranks.

You tend to read much the same thing in the same words, commas, and hyphens in all the newspapers, statements to the Press, twitters on the Internet,  and endless news on television. Boring.

The electronics engineer, Tartaglia was not out of work. His Papa owned the establishment where he was employed.

Is the company in the midst of a financial or union turmoil?
What is the history of this company?

2. I know several friends who are still seeing psychiatrists, even after 15 years or longer. I think even Roman Polanski has not ceased to see one for 30 years. Does this mean a priori that ALL the people I have cited above are mentally disturbed?

Am I missing a syllogism here somewhere that talking regularly to a shrink signifies mental illness?
Is there even a credible syllogism to be made here?

3. I happen to think that many of our present Leaders of the Ha! Ha! Free World are anything but all there. Why? Because they are only too human and what's more they are of an inferior quality else the real power brokers would never have allowed them access to the most powerful positions in their respective nations. By my sententious statement that they are inferior human beings, I mean that they lack: Conscience, Ethics, Courage, Integrity,Honesty, Compassion, Loyalty and Morality.

Just take a look at the Leaders of WW2.

One was a drunken manic-depressive(Oops! the euphemism today is a Bi-Polar disorder.) who had suffered heart attacks and a couple of strokes. All, while serving in office and thinking he and he alone was conducting a War. (Winston Churchill)

 Another was an opium addict, whose complications from a long term polio-myelitis certainly affected his brain and his day to day reasoning. The pain never left him so how could he function? Others suggested or pressured him into making unwise decisions for the country. His political beliefs tended to lean heavily to the Left. (Franklin Delano Roosevelt)

Yet another one was diagnosed with Parkinson's Syndrome as early as 1934. His doctors treated him with ever increasing doses of amphetamines mixed with cocaine injections and steroids. This concoctions create feelings of persecution alternating with sensations of immortality. ( Adolf Hitler)

And of course there was Uncle Joe Stalin. Roosevelt in his sick mind was so bowled over by dear old Uncle Joe he caved in to all his murderous demands. Stalin is probably the most perfect example the world has ever seen in the 20th century of a psychopath-sociopath.

None of these Leaders, so far as I know was ever seen by a psychiatrist. Only in the last 10 or 15 years have historians(thanks to the Internet) dared to write the evil secrets of these 4 men.

4. The attack on Berluscon is being blamed by his party and his cohorts on a climate of "Hate" swirling around Italy. Merde!  The conditions set up by Berlusconi and Bossi ( who is so xenophobic he makes Xenophon look like the late Senator Edward Moore Kennedy) created this negativity and nasty feelings.

5. There is no doubt that a state of tension exists between the people and its Leaders. This is palpable in
London,Edinburgh, Madrid, Rome, Milan, Paris, Berlin and Lisbon. Notice that I have deliberately left out the U. S. Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Well, don't gloat, they are in the same feces. The do-nothing- just- keep- spinning- Leaders have lied and lied and lied and the voters, the people have lost patience if not hope.

6. Where was the Secret Service, the CIRPE  assigned to protect Berlusconi? They claimed to have received reports that an exalted mad man might be on the loose looking to harm the Prime Minister.  Really??? So, where did the lot of you go? The most serious problem of all spies and security fellows is that they lack imagination. They are trapped inside the box.

7. The Electronics Engineer, Tartaglia had no criminal record not even a traffic ticket. Since he was close enough to do some damage to the PM: keep in mind that Berlusconi was hurt in the face, mouth and nose. Another centimeter or even less and he might have indeed lost an eye. Therefore, he was close enough to throw a dagger straight at his jugular or carotid artery. He did not. In his pockets police found another small replica of the Duomo and a small can of pepper spray.  A true martial arts Sifu/Sensei could have hurled the metallic statuette of  the Duomo as he would a shuriken with such force that he could have smashed his windpipe with little or no effort.

8. What kind of half-assed attack was this? A rehearsal?  Could Tartaglia possible be a mind control  asset? I hope I am very wrong on this one.

9. Indira Gandhi once told me during a brief moment of relaxation on her trip to Rome." Bella, I try not to worry because if someone truly wants to get me, they will, even if it takes them years to do so."

N. B. In his novel THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO by Alexandre Dumas (Pere),  Edmond Dantes, the protagonist, waited 20 long years before exacting revenge on every single individual who had wronged him and had participated in his unjust and reprehensible incarceration.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Giraffe Test

This test consists of 4 questions: Stop and Think about and decide on your answers before you scroll down:

Q1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?

The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door. This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.

2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?

Did you say, Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the refrigerator?

Wrong Answer.

Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.

3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals Attend .... Except one. Which animal does not attend?

Correct Answer : The Elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. You just put him in there.? This tests your memory. Okay, even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.

4. There is a river you must cross but it is used by crocodiles, and You do not have a boat. How do you manage it?

Correct Answer:? You jump into the river and swim across. Have you not been listening? All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting. This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.

According to Anderson Consulting Worldwide, around 90% of the Professionals they tested got all questions wrong, but many preschoolers got several correct answers. Anderson Consulting says this conclusively disproves the theory that most professionals have the brains of a four-year-old.

Incidentally my eight year old grandson Niccolo" who turned 8 in October, He's Scorpio answered all questions correctly and quickly.

"It's just common sense and logic Nonna," he told me.


That was Confucius - Kung Fu Tzu's maxim.

Those clowns at Andersen Consulting and everywhere else this giraffe test would have been presented,
would have failed abysmally because their minds are too cluttered with rubbish.

They think Simplicity is bad. WRONG!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why Celebrate Columbus Day?

Why celebrate Columbus Day?

Americans first celebrated "Columbus Day" in New York City in 1792 to honor the 300th anniversary of the "discovery" of America. It has been celebrated annually since 1920 on or around October 12th.

Who was Columbus? According to Wikipedia It is commonly, although not universally, believed that Christopher Columbus was born between 25 August and 31 October 1451 in Genoa, part of modern Italy.[4] His father was Domenico Colombo, a middle-class wool weaver, who later also had a cheese stand where Christopher was a helper, working both in Genoa and Savona. His mother was Susanna Fontanarossa. Bartolomeo, Giovanni Pellegrino and Giacomo were his brothers.

He was a navigator, colonizer and explorer whose voyages across the Atlantic Ocean led to general European awareness of the American continents in the Western Hemisphere. With his four voyages of exploration and several attempts at establishing a settlement on the island of Hispaniola, all funded by Isabella I of Castile, he initiated the process ofSpanish colonization which foreshadowed general European colonization of the "New World."

Although he "discovered" a new world for the Europeans - he never reached continental America. The first European to do that is believed to be Lief Erikson (Norse) who, according to the Sagas of Icelanders, established a Norse settlement at Vinland in 1002 or 1003, which has been tentatively identified with the L'Anse aux Meadows Norse site on the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. By the way in 1964 the US government authorized October 9th to be celebrated as Lief Ericson Day - the date was not chosen because of any significant feat of Lief Ericson - but because that was the first day a ship from Norway came to the USA (after it was independent).

Back to Columbus. He never reached America. He discovered an island in the Bahamas (Caribbean). This island was inhabited by the Arawak. Since he had been searching for a shorter route to India ... he named these people "Indios".

Ok -- so as far as the Europeans were concerned he discovered a new world -- at a time when Europe was entering into its Colonization period. But what did he do with this discovery?

Columbus went back to the Bahamas 3 different times. According to the records - when he arrived he though the people were attractive and very generous. But Columbus was anxious to prove the worth of his discovery to his benefactors and supporters and was convinced there was gold there. Only there wasn't - so what did Columbus do? He tortured the "indios" to get them to tell him where the gold was -- by hanging, cutting off the hands of all males over 14 years old, taking the women as sex slaves for his men, feeding the babies to his dogs, etc. But no gold. So what did he do -- he brought back "slaves" to Europe.

At the time some historians believe the population of this area was around 3 million -- within 50 years of Columbus's "discovery", most of the Arawak had either been killed or died from disease. So should we celebrate this "achievement". This would be like asking the Turks to celebrate the birthday of Vlad the Impaler.

What do you think?

For more information regarding Columbus check out this video from Brass Checks TV: http://brasschecktv.com/page/142.html.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Humor of Misunderstanding

Which Way To The Restroom?

A rather old fashioned lady, always quite delicate and elegant, especially in her language, was planning a weeks holiday in Sydney with her husband, so she wrote to a particular camping ground and asked for a reservation.

She wanted to make sure that the camping ground was fully equipped, but didn't know quite how to ask about the toilet facilities. She just couldn't bring herself to write the word "toilet" in her letter.

After much thought, she finally came up with the old fashioned term "Bathroom closet" but when she wrote it down, she still thought she was being too forward, so she started all over again, rewrote the letter, and referred to the bathroom closet as the B.C.

"Does the camping ground have it's own B.C." is what she wrote.

Well, the camping ground owner wasn't a bit old fashioned, and he just couldn't figure out what the old lady was talking about, so he showed the letter around a few of the campers and the only thing they could come up with was that B.C. stood for Baptist Church, so he wrote the following reply.

Dear Madam,

I regret very much the delay in answering your letter, but I now take the pleasure of informing you that a B.C. is located nine miles north of our camping ground, and is capable of seating 250 people at one time.

I admit that it is quite a distance away if you are in the habit of going regularly but no doubt you will be pleased to know that a great number of campers go there and many take their lunches along and make a day of it. They usually arrive nice and early and stay quite late.

The last time my wife and I went was six years ago, and it was so crowded we had to stand up the whole time we were there. It may interest you to know that there is a special supper planned there to raise money to buy more seats so that everyone will be able to sit in comfort.

I would like to say that it pains me very much not to be able to go more regularly, but it is surely no lack of desire on my part, just that I am so busy most of the time.

As we grow older, it seems to be more of an effort to go, especially in the cold weather. If you decide to come down to our camping ground perhaps I could go with you the first time you go, sit with you and introduce you to all the other folks.

Remember, this is a very friendly community.

Monday, August 3, 2009


We are all aware that Venice is vanishing before our very eyes. Even the gorgeous pink and light rosee stones know that. Like writer Mary McCarthy, I find Venice a very feminine city as opposed to Florence which is truly masculine. This has nothing to do with the so called "nurturing" spirit of the female. Indeed, the Venetians plundered, pillaged, burnt, raped, and slaughtered with a ruthlessness and a viciousness that would have paled King Vladimir(Vlad) the Impaler. That is saying a great deal.

It was their arrogance which drove them during the epoch of ancient Rome to build stilts on mud and silt. True, the Lagoon was astonishingly beautiful. What is man good for if not to defy the Gods?

But there are too many millions of humanity who visit Venice. It is a city of 50,000 people and they cannot cope in any way, shape or form.

Mayor Massimo Cacciari, a philosopher, linguist(he speaks Latin, German, ancient Greek, Arabic and Persian) has turned into the Lee Kuan Yew of the Adriatic. Bravo for him!

Woe to those who discard anything on the street. it is punishable by a heavy fine.
Entering any fountain to cool off one's toesies is VERBOTEN. That too will earn one a sizeable fine.

Never, never feed the pigeons or doves. They are carriers of meningitis and other horrible maladies. The city of Venice has embarked on a vast extermination campaign. Do not be deceived by their sweet cu-cu-rru-cu-cus - these birds are deadly. It's either they or us.

Even God may not be in a condition to help you if you jump into the Lagoon or into one of it's canals. Not only is it dangerous because of the vaporettos(water taxis) but some of the waters are still polluted with petrol and other chemicals plus the E coli and strep and staph which abound in the jade green waters. So, on top of a debilitating illness, you will be faced with a fine of 3,000 Euros.

Tourists on tour buses must be armed with their own toilet paper or else they will be charged for their use on the public toilets.

Restaurants will not allow a tourist to use its facilities unless they buy a cup of espresso or caffe latte. Minimum cost is 13 Euros. We prefer nice tourists who spend beaucoup loot not beggars.

Gondoleers may NOT sing O Sole Mio, Turna Surriento, Funiculi, Funicula or other Neapolitan songs requested by their clients. This is La Serenissima - Venice, for Criminy's sake!!!

They must also not solicit clients. They exist to give the city a unique color, not necessarily to ferry noisy and drunken tourists through the canals and caletas.It is expensive to hire a Gondola. It has always been thus. Prices
will go up by 30% to avoid the hoi polloi.

UNESCO declared Venice a treasure of humanity. Ahime! Some members of Humanity don't treasure Venice as they should. The presence of the Italian Army is to ensure that it does.

Moroccan and Senegalese sidewalk vendors cannot display and hawk their wares in Piazza San Marco under pain of heavy fines and/or jail if the offenses are recidivist. The vendors will have their very own market place farther away from Canareggio. I am all for free enterprise but please don't let your wares clash with the aesthetics of the place. Piazza San Marco is sacred. Hai capito?

Mayor Cacciari has called in the Army to assist him in implementing these rules. Tourists, rich and poor are miffed.
"Don't come to Venice," he says rather tartly.

I have some other rules to suggest to Mayor Cacciari.

There should be a Venetian Visitor's tax on every living soul who comes to Venice. The super rich;we know straight away who they are because they head for the Hotel Cipriani, the Gritti, Danieli, Excelsior in the Lido, the Monaco etc. must pay a minimum tax of 500 Euros which is automatically tacked on their hotel bill.

Every tourist on a bus should pay 30 Euros each, no ifs or buts. I think it should be included in the price of the ticket. Private jets should pay a special landing tax, to be determined by the modern day Doges of the city. The rich can be notoriously miserly. I know this for a fact. I have witnessed it many times within members of my own clan. Well, they are going to have to lump it if they wish to luxuriate in the enchantment and sorcery of Venice.

Passengers on trains and airplanes should do their part as well. Since the Italian State Railroad has raised the prices of tickets to Venice this should be studied carefully. In any case, foreigners should pay more than Italians. Few Italians go to Venice in the spring and summer because they have their own homes by the sea or in the countryside.

Ah! yes. The Casino in Venice. There should be a surcharge for gambling. Another one when a high roller wins. What is one rich for? I have never heard of anyone with the ability to take his liquidity with him. So, cough up.

What's that? The rich will all troop to Montecarlo ? Merde! Let them. Montecarlo is beautiful BUT would you dare compare it to the Laguna, the shimmering Palazzos at night, the sorcery? the magic? the emotions and fierce passions of Venice? Get real.

I have splendid memories of Venice. One is lying on the floor of a majestic gondola which reminded me of a Viking ship because its sail was in red and white stripes. My companion and cavalier, Baron Philippe de Rothschild and I lay swaddled in furs against the night chill. He recited/declaimed the quatrains of Omar Khayam, the Ghazals of Hafiz and the Mathnawis of Rumi.

Count Vittorio Cini was perhaps Venice's greatest benefactor in the 20th century. We became deeply infatuated with each other. Our love affair lasted until he died, although it never degenerated into sex.

"Young beautiful bodies belong together," he told me.

He was 90 and looked 50. I was almost 33. Nearly two meters tall, sharp and dark golden eyes, the eyes of a raptor. His skin was a mixture of cream and strawberries for he loved sailing on the Adriatic. He had a marriage of sorts to a fascinating woman who could almost be called an explorer. His two daughters reminded me of King Lear's Goneril and Regan.

Come September La Serenissima holds its Regatta. On that occasion Vittorio's yacht flew my clan's royal colors high on the mast. I was transported back to 17th and 18th century Venice. I smiled and kissed his hand. One could show admiration, love and respect to a 90 year old Titan.
Count Cini's myriad industries in Mestre and elswhere in the Veneo had been partly responsible for the "acqua alta" the annual flooding of the Piazza di San Marco. how does one scold a personage of Vittorio's calibre? Doubtless he knew which is why the Cini Foundation is very engage in all artistic and social matters pertaining to Venice.

Our family's ties go back to the 18th century when the Hapsburgs ruled Venice and the surrounding areas. One of my ancestors donated what today would amount to $8 million U.S. to build new locks, closures and fortify existing ones. This took place in 1846. The commemorative plaque is still in place. When Venice had its cataclysmic flood in 1966, historians angrily denounced the fact that the locks had not been maintained since 1846, when Count Mikal von Vacani had donated the famous sum of money. Indeed, the Italian authorities had not spent a cent since then.

The Moses project to save what's left of Venice has seen a series of stops and starts. Governments are notoriously slow in disbursing funds. N. B. The monies have been allocated from the EU and private financiers. If all goes well, Moses should be completed by 2012. I have my doubts as do most Venetians.If anything can go awry it inevitably will. Hope is the last thing one loses. The Venetians will die first before their La Serenissima vanishes from the face of the earth.

Let's face it. Venice does not have a particularly positive karma. Yet they have managed to create vast fortunes through their ruthless and pitiless nature hidden under a deadly charm. Most of their treasures such as the lions of San Marco were plundered from Byzantium. Later, their wealthy nobility commissioned artists like Titian, Bellini, Tintoretto, and Canaletto. Their banks granted loans to the entire world in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries at high rates of interest.

Lest we forget Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. A superb psychological study of human nature; the wealthy shipowners who took shuddering risks, the brilliant women of Venice and its ruthless moneylenders. One of them was Shylock, a Jew. The play is hardly performed these days except in Venice. Some individuals, elsewhere in the world fear being termed anti-semitic. Not so the sophisticated Venetians. It's part of their history. Some of the most illustrious families are Sephardic Judean in origin. Most of all they consider themselves Venetian.

They forked up money to merchants in Arabia, Istanbul, Peking, Delhi, Lebanon and Scotland. Tis said that British royalty intermarried with many of these royal Venetian bankers, centuries ago because their wealth, exquisite manners, good looks and penises dazzled them.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Stove of the future?

Showy chefs can demonstrate their uncanny dexterity with Rendezvous, a table that doubles as a rangetop.

This design concept uses new technology that's just about ready for the mass market: induction electronics, arranged in random cooking zones.

No plugging in for you — just place a blender or electronic frying pan on its surface and it magically soaks up the electricity, cooking in no time.

Its slide-out drawers can be warming trays or refrigeration units. And check out those radical controls embedded in the side. Once you're done cooking or mixing, it's ready to perform its other function as a spacey-looking kitchen table.

Follow the link below to take a look at more pictures of this table/cooktop of the future from Electrolux Global Design at http://dvice.com/archives/2009/05/electrolux-indu.php

For more cool kitchen ideas that will be appearing in stores in the near future - check out the 9 new products selected in the electrolux design competition by visiting

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Why Mistakes are Good when Learning English

Fail Faster, Succeed Sooner

When you use Listen and Answer in English, do you make mistakes? Probably you do.

Is it bad to make mistakes when you speak?

No. Its not bad. Its not bad to make mistakes-- its only bad to think about grammar rules.

To speak English easily, you must make a lot of mistakes. You MUST. In fact, the more mistakes you make, the faster you will improve.

The most important thing is that you MUST feel relaxed when speaking.

Make mistakes. Have fun. Don't think about grammar rules-- just communicate quickly.

You must feel relaxed. You must have fun with the language. When you do that, you will improve very quickly.

Soon, you will be making fewer mistakes! You improve automatically.

Speed is more important than perfection. That's right -- focus on being fast. Focus on understand faster and faster.

Listen to songs in English -- sing a long. Read my blogs out loud.

Smile! Laugh! Practice frequently.

You will be suprised how much better you will get ... and faster.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Startling Italian Research

Pollution Changes DNA in Three Days

Polluted air may devastate human DNA to the point of reprogramming genes in just three days, leaving people vulnerable to lung cancer and other diseases, according to a new Italian study.

The researchers, who discovered rapid DNA damage in Italian steel workers who breathed polluted foundry air, say it might happen to anyone living in a large city.

The study examined 63 healthy people who were exposed routinely to particulate matter while they worked in a steel mill in Brescia, Italy, and. The air around steel foundries usually has about 10 times more particulate matter than normal air, and a larger percentage of the particles are metals.

During the work week, two blood DNA samples were taken from the workers, one sample on the first day of the week before they were heavily exposed to the foundry air, and the other sample after several days on the job. A comparison of the samples showed changes in four genes that are believed to suppress tumors.

The workers’ DNA was damaged to the point that the rate of a body process called “methylation” was slowed, the researchers said. Methylation is a normal, ongoing biological process in which genes are organized into different groups. The slowing of methylation in the workers meant that fewer groups and therefore fewer genes were expressed and made into proteins, which is vital to the regular maintenance of the body. Such a reduction also has been observed in the DNA of lung cancer patients.

Study leader Andrea Baccarelli of the University of Milan said previous research has demonstrated that older people in Boston had DNA damage from particulate matter. However, Baccarelli said, “Our results need to be confirmed in air pollution studies before they can be extended to the general population.”

On a hopeful note, the research team raised the possibility that methylation damage can be ameliorated with folic acid, a vitamin found in many foods. “We found that subjects with higher intakes of methyl nutrients were protected from some of the cardiac effects of particulate matter,” Baccarelli said.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Berlusconi says he is World's Most Popular Leader

Article from: Reuters (May 2, 2009)

ITALIAN Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has compared himself to Jesus Christ and Napoleon, boasted today that he was the world's most popular leader.

The conservative premier, in his third term in office, said opinion poll findings in his possession showed his popularity at just over 75 per cent, making him far more popular than US President Barack Obama - or any other head of government.

"The opinion polls I know say that he (Obama) is at 59 per cent. Only (Brazilian President Luiz Inacio) Lula tops 60 per cent - he is at 64 per cent. So mine is a record high," he said in Naples where he attended a May Day concert.

On his way out of the concert hall, the 72-year-old Mr Berlusconi - who has proclaimed himself the Jesus Christ of Italian politics and once said he was second only to Napoleon, except taller - was heckled by protesters who shouted "go away!".

Commentators agree Mr Berlusconi enjoys high popularity ratings despite the economic crisis - the International Monetary Fund expects Italy's economy to contract by 4.4 per cent this year - although perhaps not as high as he claims.

A poll published last month by left-leaning La Repubblica daily said support for Mr Berlusconi stood at 56 per cent and had risen in April for the first time since October thanks to his hands-on response to a deadly earthquake.

Mr Berlusconi, who regularly complains of unfair treatment by the media despite directly or indirectly controlling 90 percent of Italy's television, put his own popularity at 75.1 per cent.

"These are independent surveys, but they are not promptly published," he said.

By the way - more than 100 million people have now seen Susan Boyle's video. That's more than all the Italians in Italy -- so who is really the most popular?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Don't judge a Book by its Cover

The phrase "don't judge a book by its cover" rarely refers to books at all - and is usually used to advise the listener to keep an open mind about people, places, things and of course books - in short it can be used to describe anything. Basically, the phrase is used to suggest that despite appearances or specifically, first impressions - if you look further you will find something of greater value.

The most recent example is Susan Boyle. Shown in the picture above - she recently appeared on British Television. When she came out - most people were very skeptical - but when she began to sing she surprised everybody with her beautiful voice. For Italians - familiar with San Remo - the British show gives a chance to pure amateurs to appear - but that day, most had not been too impressive and when they first saw Susan Boyle - they did not think she would be impressive either.

But in the case of Susan Boyle ... her performance was way beyond her looks. To see her performance and the crowd reaction - go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxPZh4AnWyk

If you liked that performance and want to hear another song by Susan Boyle then check out her version of Cry Me A River at http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2009/04/16/exclusive-susan-boyle-s-first-ever-song-release-revealed-listen-to-it-here-86908-21283564/

Hopefully, now you better understand the saying "don't judge a book by its cover".

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Paolo Bacigalupi - Author

If you like sci-fi - with an emphasis on ecological themes - then you might be interested in reading the works of Paulo Bacigalupi.

"Paolo Bacigalupi is one of the most exciting of the new breed of short story writers, one whose ecological focus, unflinching penchant for hard truth, and exacting prose is garnering attention inside and outside of the genre."

He is a four-time Hugo Award Nominee, a Nebula Nominee, and the winner of the Theodore Sturgeon Award for best science fiction short story of the year. His novel THE WINDUP GIRL will be released this fall from Night Shade Books.

To read a very interesting interview regarding his views on what he thinks the future will be like and and what we can do to change it - go to: http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/2665/73/

To learn more about this author and to learn more about some of his award winning short stories visit his web site at: http://windupstories.com/pumpsix/

Friday, April 10, 2009

Venice to Use Algae for 50% of Its Electricity

The city of Venice has announced a plan to utilize algae in a different way than we're used to hearing about. The Italian city plans to produce 50 percent of its electricity needs from an algae-based power plant instead of fossil fuels.

“Sargassum muticum” and “Undaria pinnatifida” are the names of two kinds of algae brought by the ships coming from Japan and the Sargassi sea. The algea grows over the seaport of Venice, causing problems for gondolas and ferry boats.

But today it could be turned into a resource.
Italy recently announced a 200 million euro eco-friendly project to harvest the prolific seaweed that lines Venice’s canals and transform it into emissions-free energy. The idea is to set up a power plant fuelled by algae, the first facility of its kind in Italy.

The plant, to be built in collaboration with renewable energy services company Enalg, will be operative in two years and will produce 40 megawatts of electricity, equivalent to half of the energy required by the entire city centre of Venice.

The algae will be cultivated in laboratories and put in plastic cylinders where water, carbon dioxide, and sunshine can trigger photosynthesis. The resulting biomass will be treated further to produce a fuel to turn turbines. The carbon dioxide produced in the process will be fed back to the algae, resulting in zero emissions from the plant. “Venice could represent the beginning of a global revolution of energy and renewable resources. Our goals are to achieve the energetic self-sufficiency for the seaport and to reduce CO2 emissions, including those one produced by the docked ships”, says the president of the seaport of Venice Authority, Paolo Costa.

The idea sounds good and seems to open great possibilities for zero emission energy production; Venice could represent the first step of a real innovative evolution even if there are still some doubts about the huge amount of money required for this project and the authorization needed to built the plant.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Italian Designers to be Replaced by Elephants?

Italian designers better watch out!

The designs on the silk sun dresses shown above are based on paintings made by elephants - I kid you not.

Everybody knows elephants are smart - but did you know they can also paint? If you don't believe me then check out this video -- it's amazing.


The idea behind the dresses is to bring awareness and attention to the Asian Elephant & Conservation Project.

If you would like to learn more about this group, see more examples of paintings by elephants or find out where you can buy a super sun dress designed by an elephant - then check out their web site at: http://www.elephantart.com/catalog/splash.php

P.S. To read a true story about how an elephant saved my daughter click on this link:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pizza-making Vending Machning Serves Fresh Pies in Three Minutes

Let's play some word association. If I say "pizza vending machine," what's the first thing that pops into your mind? Fast, maybe, but probably not delicious or fresh.

Claudio Torghele, inventor of the "Let's Pizza" vending machine, wants his automated chef to be all three. It can churn out one of four different pies in only three minutes, but it's not just warming up frozen pizza. It'll prepare fresh dough, shape it, sauce it, top it and cook it, sliding a full pie out of a slot — all for just shy of five bucks.

Torghele has plans to bring the vending machine to the United States as well as spread it around Europe, though right now it's slugging it out in a shopping mall in Trentino, Italy. As someone who lives with a dozen awesome pizzerias within easy walking distance, I'd pass right by one of these on the street. In a mall, though? Sure, I'd try it out.

Author's Note: this article was reprinted from DVICE.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Louisiana Road Sign

Here's one reason why it helps to be able to read English when visiting America.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Importance of Pronunciation

As the following video clearly shows - correct pronunciation is important when learning English. Steve Martin (one of America's favorite comedians) stars in the newly made Pink Panther movie. In this video - he is playing a Frenchman who is going to America - and wants to practice his English before he goes. The video is pretty funny - because of the troubles he has correctly pronouncing the English words.

This is why I stress correct pronunciation in my classes and urge you to listen to English songs or even to sing along - as it is a great way to learn how to pronounce English words correctly.



Thursday, March 26, 2009

Miniatur Wunderland

To see a video clip (in English) of the largest model railroad in the world, click on the link below.

It is simply amazing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


1. Learn and memorize Phrases.

That is the most important step. We might be related to Primates but remember we do not learn a language by learning it one word at a time. Our cuckatoo Fray Paco memorized entire phrases and sentences. Lest you forget, the gray and yellow crested cockatoos or kakatua as they are known in Indonesia are capable of cognitive thought.

2. Don't study Grammar.

That comes later. First concentrate on the phrases such as "I am tired." "I am happy". "This is a lovely day." "This is a great pesto." " The wine is very good."
There are many people out there who have an expert's knowledge of English where Grammar is concerned but are incapaple of conversing in English.

You need to communicate. Everyone does - or should.

3. Concentrate on listening to the correct pronunciation. Avoid saying "eat" for "it". You are risking to be misunderstood. If this happens don't let your feelings of embarassment last long. Don't give up. Develop an attitude. Onward!

4. Repeat words, phrases and sentences many times. Especially those words which give you a bit of trouble such as "This" "That" "Those" Them" "They" and the all important "THE." Again, don't lose heart, repeat them 25 times until you get it right. Until it becomes a habit. Never forget: the"H" is ALWAYS pronounced in English. "Hotel" How" "House" Here" "Happy" " Henry" ' Hurrah." Other difficult words are "Three" Thorough" Thought" "Thrice" "Thirty."

5.Concentrate on phrases and sentences as well as stories with a point of view. The classics are wonderful but only after you have mastered the everyday use of English.

6. Use only English materials such as CD'd, DVD's videso and movies, which you can download through your PC or Mac. Read comic books and magazines like Batman, The Simpsons, Vanity Fair and the National Geographic, The Times of London and the International Herald Tribune.

Read my various blogs since I will place homework there for the various classes particularly in my English for Italians.

Watch for my communiques. From time to time I shall send emails to each of you to exchange points of view.

7. Always have an important dictionary handy. The pocketbooks are useless. Try to obtain the Zanganelli dictionary in Englisn and Italian. You can find waycool computer dictionaries that fit in the palm of your hand. Sharp has one that seems to assist my alumni and alumnae very well.

8. Write down the phonetic pronunciation of words. I always try to give you the correct pronunciation by writing on the board or spelling the way certain words are pronounced. Example: "Walk" is phonetically pronounced "wok" " Talk" idem. The "L" is always silent.

9. Use, Listen, and write stories of your own. Even if they are paragraphs of your work, your trips or your troubles. Again concentrate on the words, not the grammar.

10. Keep a consistent and constant attitude. You are not going to have a command of any language much less one so rich, varied and everchanging as English in 40 hours of classes. Keep at it.I repeat, do not give up!

My classes are deep immersion. Six hours a week divided into three hours each. It is a ball for me to teach them. So far, none of my students fidget or yawn during my classes.

11. I have compiled a small dictionary of American and British slang, including a compendium of my own personal dictionary based on my inventions and creations out of many foreign words or English words.

Let's get to it and enjoy ourselves.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Remember that, when the 17th of March comes around.

In addition to Columbus Day, the 12th of October, the world has Saint Patrick, San Patrizio. Two portentous celebrations. The consequences of these daring and spiritual acts by both men of Italian descent became catastrophic throughout the centuries for the autonomous peoples of Ireland and America respectively.

Patrick was blameless, which is why he became a Saint.

Columbus is another story. I think he personally felt a need to convert the Indians to Christianity but did not protest too muc when the unfortunate natives became indentured servants or slaves.

Patrick's father was Calpurnius and his mother Cesenna. They lived in Roman Britania. Patrick was captured by Irish pirates, sold into slavery and taken to Ireland where he spent seven long years before he escaped back to Britania. It takes a Christlike man to forgive his former savage captors and choose to return to their boggy lands and attempt to imbue them with Christian love - to civilize them.

I can imagine how fiercely the Druids must have resisted his efforts. He must have known and endured every kind of suffering. In the end, this Jesus-like endurance and unchanging faith gave the Irish their strength to fight the British continuously for centuries. It wasn't a war about religion. It seldom is. Their struggle was political. It is usually all about politics.
Therefore, I think Italians should also remember Saint Patrick because he was one of them.

Hurrah! Down a wonderful mug of Guinness stout or sip a superb Irish whiskey.

Perhaps the Italians should join the celebration.

To learn more about St. Patrick go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


If you would like to test my sententious statement about Englisb being the lingua franca of the world, I suggest you do the following. Pretend to get "lost" in Shanghai, find a pavement stuffed with people. They will be going in different directions but, as in a two lane traffic road the Shanghailanders will do the same. Ready? Get set. Turn around slowly, very slowly, taking care not to stretch your arms and bump against people who are all hustle and bustle.

"I am looking for Nanjing Dong Loo,"( Nanjing Road) you say as loudly as your vocal cords will permit. You need to project you voice because the sounds of traffic and humans are LOUD.

Dozens of men, women and children will reply in a tris- trice."Madam, you are on Nanjing Road. Perhaps you are searching for a particular street corner?"

You'll find yourself staring at them wide eyed and open mouthed. To be sure,many of their inflections are typically Chinese but their pronunciation is by and large correct. People are just delighted to practice their English with anyone who speaks the language.Any opportunity is a good one for the gregarious people of Shanghai.

KL - Kuala Lumpur is another such place. But then, the English ruled over Malaysia when they called it Malaya which is not altogether wrong. The lovely brown -skinned people come from the Malay race as do Indonesians and Filipinos.

Shanghai is exceptional because almost everyone speaks English and many of them sacrifice a part of their hard earned money to have private lessons with native English speakers such as I.
American movies shown in English without subtitles used to be standing room only.Now words like reservations and advance booking has entered their vocabulary.

It is difficult nowadays to hear English spoken well on the streets of London. Professor Higgins of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady fame would be revolted at how the language is not only mangled if spoken at all, but how London has turned into a babel of languages.

Italians are the worst offenders in the little knowledge they possess regarding their verbal, conversational and reading skills in English. I would venture to say that their English language skills and comprehension is quite low.

It isn't entirely their fault. Until the year 2007, English as a subject matter wasn't even taught in the public or private schools. Now children attending pre-school are lucky to have English lessons but only for an hour a week. That is hardly enough to enable any child to have a command of English anytime soon. That will not assure them a good position in the services industries, tourism, marketing, electronics, engineering, certainly not in banking, finance, economics and research. And let us not even mention those who are in the legal profession. Familiarity of legal and juridical terms would be of great assistance to them in International Law, Corporate Law or in abuses regarding Human Rights.


You must not be afraid or ashamed of making mistakes. We all make them in learning a new language. Just throw yourself in the melee, so to speak.

There are many schools throughout Liguria which charge thousands of Euros for courses in English. I have yet to meet one student who can hold a proper conversation in English after years of wasting their time and having their pockets cleaned out.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009



"I thought you said the King had a weak spot for drop dead gorgeous girls," hissed Gina.

"Well, yes he does," replied Nina, not knowing what would happen to them next.

"You ding-a-lings! You bimbos. You have upset his punctilious Majesty," shrilled Mina, Head of King Engly's Security, for the King trusted only women to advise him and protect him.

"Get yourselves off to our nunnery where the lot of you will be taught English pronunciation, enunciation and conjugation eight hours a day, seven days a week. I shall escort you myself before His Majesty in six months time."

"My pretties, if anyone of you dares to say 'ouse, 'otel, de girel, dis n dat, tree instead of three, and ringginge, I shall cast my famous language spells and turn you all into repulsive hags without an aye or a bye. I have spoken. All those who engage in English Manglish will not be tolerated."

Taken from the book "THE ADVENTURES OF NICCOLO".

Hello. Welcome to my English Salon. I hope you enjoy your visit. I promise you, mad King Engly would never have the balls umm ... I mean courage to show up here, not unless Niccolo summons him, which he would never do because his grandmother - that would be yours truly, would place him on an indefinite timeout.

English is a language, which is easy to learn badly and pronounce atrociously. The mediocre and banal teachers of English I encounter; are legion - trust me. They have all been unceremoniously banished to King Engly's realm.

I know, the world needs Love, not yet more ugly men and women but there you are. Che ci vuoi fare?

English is without a doubt the richest modern language in the world. Arabic, Russian and Mandarin are second to none, but they are not as fluid as English. By that I mean that English is evolving continuously. Almost every language in the world has been used and is now in our English lexicon.

Here are just a few examples:

Amore - Love. It's from ancient Latin.

To run amok - comes from Indonesian Bahasa and means exactly the same as in its original usage - amok.

Boondocks - it means some God forsaken place, far, far away. The original word came from Tagalog Filipino, bundoks which means far away hills.

Baby - the French bebe.

Finito. Halas. We won't discuss it again. Finito is Italian for it is finished. Halas is Arabic for the end.

Pajamas - comes to us from India to describe clothes worn at night.

Hasta la vista, baby -- comes to us from Arnold Schwarzenegger (Austria)

To see more English words of foreign origin visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Lists_of_English_words_of_foreign_origin

I shall give you more examples as I initiate the lessons which I hope will not only be great fun but will give you the tools necessary to become proficient in English, the Lingua Franca of the 21st century.

Ciao Carissimi!

Tanti baci!

Isabella Vacani