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31 gennaio 2005, lunedì

Manhattan encounters - steam room (Incontri newyorkesi - bagno turco)
di vololibero alle 07:46:00 ~ 0 Commenti (Scrivi) ~ 0 Trackback
After swimming I have a little routine of spending some time in the steam room, stretching and relaxing.
Yesterday there were these two guys, sitting in the furthest corner from the entrance. Jewish, probably orthodox, speaking in Hebrew. And, more important, one of them *singing* in Hebrew. Ever listened to Jewish litanies live in a a steam room? Good, so you know how I felt.
Two indelible images.
The first is the singer, standing barefoot on a stool and checking the thermostat, a towel covering his shoulders, his long locks dangling down ... and his pale and fully exposed bum almost glowing in the dim light.
The second is this big and heavy framed guy, stark naked, standing and looking around, with his hands holding a folded towel over his groin ... and the Jewish lithanies coming right from behind him, as a soundtrack.

Dopo avere nuotato cerco sempre di farmi un po' di bagno turco. Mi rilasso, faccio un po' di stretching.
Ieri c'erano questi due tipi, ebrei, quasi sicuramente ortodossi. Parlavano tra di loro in ebraico, seri. E, cosa molto piu' importante, uno di loro *cantava* in ebraico. Vi e' mai capitato di ascoltare delle litanie religiose ebraiche live in un bagno turco? Bene, quindi sapete come mi sentivo.
Due immagini indelebili.
La prima e' di questo tipo, il cantante, per una volta silenzioso, in piedi su di uno sgabello mentre controlla il termostato, un asciugamano sulle spalle, i lunghi boccoli di capelli (che si fanno crescere al posto delle basette) dondolanti nell'aria umida ... ed il suo sedere pallidissimo ed in piena vista che quasi riluceva nella luce ovattata in cui eravamo immersi.
La seconda e' quest'altro tipo, alto e robusto, completamente nudo, in piedi, che guarda le altre persone sedute, le mani incrociate che tengono appoggiato sull'inguine un asciugamano tutto appallottolato ... e litanie in ebraico che emergono esattamente da dietro di lui, come una colonna sonora per la scena.

30 gennaio 2005, domenica

Wall with snow (Muro con neve)
di vololibero alle 08:31:00 ~ 0 Commenti (Scrivi) ~ 0 Trackback


29 gennaio 2005, sabato

Brown at the UN (Brown alle Nazioni Unite)
di vololibero alle 11:21:33 ~ 0 Commenti (Scrivi) ~ 0 Trackback

Tuesday I went to an event at the UN, a gathering of Brown University. The president was speaking. I had never been to the UN before.  It was a different social context. It sounded different, and so I went.
A few impressions.  Entering the UN is like getting to an airport, just in a less nice setting. The place is crying for money. Everything looks old, stuck in the sixties. And gray. The building is stuck in the middle of nowhere on the East River side of NY. Three impressive smoke stakes greet it on the southern side. A huge "pepsi cola" permanent ad greets it from across the river.
The people were the usual types that you find at these gathering, just a little bit more serious and older than average, due to the fact that the president was talking (and asking for money...). She is a good talker, without being impressive. She knows when to slip a lighter touch in the speech. And she is the the first black woman to become president of an Ivy League (if not the first woman, period). As my room-mate says: "only at Brown". Some of the people there simply loved her, expecially among the ones that work at Brown.
During the reception before the speech, the Brunonians (and the intruders like me ....) were mostly standing and scanning the crowd, trying to find somebody with a name tag with their same year of graduation (mine only had the name) The impression was that it was not that effective. Even though there were many people (a hundred something?), the ages were so scattered that you couldn't find more than a few people from your years at college. But the atmosphere was cheerful, the wine and the finger-food were good (the sushi, in particular), it was just for a couple of hours, and so nobody looked displeased. And there were good news. It sounds like Brown is actually doing well, and expanding. Maybe it's the coming of age of the little of the seven sisters.
One final note, about the men's room. You entered, and there was a first room with a couple of couches. Inside the room another door and, beyond that, the usual depressing American toilet.  Toilet diplomacy? A time capsule from the sixties? It could be the only place in the US where people don't talk to you during those private moments...

28 gennaio 2005, venerdì

Winter in NY (Inverno a NY)
di vololibero alle 07:24:07 ~ 0 Commenti (Scrivi) ~ 0 Trackback
Coldest day so far, this Winter.

Il giorno piu' freddo di quest'inverno finora.

27 gennaio 2005, giovedì

A turning point? (Un punto di svolta?)
di vololibero alle 08:50:39 ~ 0 Commenti (Scrivi) ~ 0 Trackback

Yesterday, the man behind the legal memo that justified the use of torture by the Government, became the nation's 80th attorney general. The Senate voted strictly along party lines, with all the Democrats opposed, and all the Republicans in favor.
I think that yesterday, without truly realizing it, we have passed a line. The professional and personal qualities of Alberto Gonzales are irrelevant in this context. They are completely secondary compared to the fact that he, and his appointment to that position, are a symbol. With yesterday's decision this country has said that the new approach to torture (and unlimited detention without being charged, and other things) was not a mistake. It was intentional and it gets reconfirmed. The person that devised the legal memo that justifies it just got promoted to the highest position, attorney general.
There are no consequences for now. This government will keep doing what it was already doing, and so the rest of the world.
But I'm sure that there will be long term consequences. A taboo has been broken. Something never did before has been done. It will now be much easier to do it again.
There are things that should never be done, not because of their intrinsic value, but because they move the bar and change the rules of the game.
Yesterday the game has changed.
This is really an Administration incapable of grasping the future. For all its talking about it and its grandiose plans.

Frozen car (Macchina congelata)
di vololibero alle 07:40:00 ~ 0 Commenti (Scrivi) ~ 0 Trackback

One more picture from the snow storm.

Ancora un'altra foto scattata dopo la tormenta di neve.

26 gennaio 2005, mercoledì

Frozen garbage (Spazzatura congelata)
di vololibero alle 10:53:34 ~ 0 Commenti (Scrivi) ~ 0 Trackback

Another picture from the snow storm.

Un'altra foto scattata dopo la tormenta di neve.

More on Ten years later (Ancora su Dieci anni dopo)
di vololibero alle 09:02:51 ~ 0 Commenti (Scrivi) ~ 0 Trackback

I have updated my original post and added two mirror links to the article. They work, for now, but may not work in the future. Here is a third one.

Ho modificato il mio post iniziale ed aggiunto due link ad altri siti che ospitano l'articolo. Non so quanto a lungo rimarranno disponibili, ma per ora funzionano. Questo e' un terzo.

25 gennaio 2005, martedì

Compassion, personal interest, and ideology (Compassione, interesse personale, ed ideologia)
di vololibero alle 08:58:48 ~ 0 Commenti (Scrivi) ~ 0 Trackback

From today's NYTimes: Two of the city's subway lines - the A and the C - have been crippled and may not return to normal capacity for three to five years after a fire Sunday afternoon in a Lower Manhattan transit control room that was started by a homeless person trying to keep warm, officials said yesterday.
........... The A line will run roughly one-third the normal number of trains - meaning that riders who used to wait six minutes for a train might now have to wait 18 minutes - while the C train will cease to exist as a separate line, at least for the time being. The C will be replaced by the V in Brooklyn. Long waits and erratic service are likely to be the norm on the two lines, which have a combined ridership of 580,000 each weekday. ..........

This news highlights so many things.  First, the most important web is not internet, but the web of our interconnected lives and of the real world in which we live.  Internet is quickly growing in importance, but it's still far far less important.
Second, because everything is interconnected, the idea (and ideology) that everybody is fully accountable for his/her life - and that if he/she runs into problems, well, they are his/her problems - this idea simply gets crushed by real life, regularly. How much would have cost to help that homeless person? What will the cost of having the A and C lines crippled for 3 to 5 years, be for NY?

Una notizia dal NYTimes di oggi. Le linee A e C della metropolitana sono state danneggiate da un fuoco acceso da un homeless, uno dei mendicanti senza casa che vagano per NY. Le due linee trasportano, normalmente, 580.000 persone al giorno. Funzioneranno in modo parziale per i prossimi 3 / 5 anni, con tempi di attesa tre volte piu' lunghi del normale. La linea C per ora viene rimpiazzata dalla V in Brooklyn...
La notizia evidenzia parecchie cose.
Primo, la rete piu' importante non e' internet, ma quella delle interazioni tra persone, e tra queste ed il mondo in cui ci muoviamo. Internet diventa sempre piu' importante, ma e' ancora molto molto secondaria rispetto all'altra.
Secondo, poiche' tutto e' interconnesso, l'idea (ed ideologia) che ognuno e' completamente responsabile per la propria vita - e che se finisci nei guai, beh, sono i tuoi guai - quest'idea viene regolarmente demolita dalla vita reale. Quanto sarebbe costato aiutare quel mendicante? Quanto costera' alla citta' il fatto che per 3/5 anni due delle piu' importanti linee della metro funzioneranno solo in modo parziale?

24 gennaio 2005, lunedì

Snow storm (Tormenta di neve)
di vololibero alle 09:01:21 ~ 0 Commenti (Scrivi) ~ 0 Trackback
A picture from the snow storm.

Una foto scattata ieri, alla fine della tormenta di neve.