Nov 132013
 
Venice seeks improvements in safety
(The Florentine/ November 7, 2013)
Gondolas operating in the Grand Canal will be equipped with GPS tracking systems, registration plates and reflective patches as part of a set of measures introduced to increase safety on the city’s canals.

The measures, which became effective on November 4, are part of the city council’s 26-point plan to reduce congestion and crashes. The move comes after a German tourist, Joachim Vogel, died in an accident on the Grand Canal in August 2013, when his gondola was involved in a collision with a waterbus near the Rialto Bridge.

The reform includes stricter regulations on passing as well as breathalyser and drugs tests for boat handlers.

All gondolas will sport a unique identification number and reflective patches to enable night-time visibility. All motor vehicles, gondolas and sculls must be equipped with GPS devices so that their speed and position can be tracked.

Boat owners must cover the costs for the installation of the new equipment.

http://www.theflorentine.net/articles/article-view.asp?issuetocId=8866&browse-by=News&level=National-News

 

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Nov 112013
 

Cher got the Academy award in the movie of the same name. The reality of seeing a full moon over one of the world’s great landmarks really does take the prize.

Dante Alighieri was baptized here in Florence, within a few steps of this moonlit Duomo, later to be banished beyond the city’s wall. Perhaps on nights like this he could view the city from a surrounding hill as so many do now from Piazzale Michelangelo. There under the glow of this same full moon’s light, Dante could see this same Duomo, this same beloved city, this home from which he was banished and a love for Beatrice, forever unrequited.

Photo: MOONSTRUCK</p>
<p>Cher got the Academy award in the movie of the same name. The reality of seeing a full moon over one of the world’s great landmarks really does take the prize.</p>
<p>Dante Alighieri was baptized here in Florence, within a few steps of this moonlit Duomo, later to be banished beyond the city’s wall. Perhaps on nights like this he could view the city from a surrounding hill as so many do now from Piazzale Michelangelo. There under the glow of this same full moon’s light, Dante could see this same Duomo, this same beloved city, this home from which he was banished and a love for Beatrice, forever unrequited. </p>
<p>Some forty years ago, I practiced dentistry in an office only steps away from the Duomo. The siren call of the future lured us away, back to California, to bear and raise the three blessings of our life. Still, in a real sense, we too have felt a banishment, a self-imposed, life-imposed exile, an unrequited love for the city of our youthful love, Florence.</p>
<p>Dante, deprived of ever returning to Florence was left to describe a journey into hell. "Lasciate ogne spernaza voi ch'entrate!"<br />
No, we did not abandon hope, and we have entered into another hopeful phase of life. Cynthia and I have but to write another chapter in a life blessed by love and now in the city we love, Florence.
Some forty years ago, I practiced dentistry in an office only steps away from the Duomo. The siren call of the future lured us away, back to California, to bear and raise the three blessings of our life. Still, in a real sense, we too have felt a banishment, a self-imposed, life-imposed exile, an unrequited love for the city of our youthful love, Florence.

Dante, deprived of ever returning to Florence was left to describe a journey into hell. “Lasciate ogne spernaza voi ch’entrate!” No, my wife and I did not abandon hope, and we have entered into another hopeful phase of life. Cynthia and I have but to write another chapter in a life blessed by love and now in the city we love, Florence.

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Nov 112013
 

In the early post war years, my early pre-worries ones, I heard the voice of God. Actually, I heard many voices. It, they, were spread across the airways. I know you heard them too.  One had only to walk into a movie theater or tune into the late night movie to experience the deep sonorous rumblings of John Huston, Orson Wells, or Charlton Hesston; the timbre of the spoken word right out of central casting. Those voices are now stilled by time, but there remains another source of paradise-invoking sounds, and it begins at 7:00 every morning in Florence.

Photo: Before there was a John Huston</p>
<p>In the early post war years, my early pre-worries ones, I heard the voice of God. Actually, I heard many voices. It, they, were spread across the airways. I know you heard them too.  One had only to walk into a movie theater or tune into the late night movie to experience the deep sonorous rumblings of John Huston, Orson Wells, or Charlton Hesston, the timbre of the spoken word right out of central casting. </p>
<p>Those voices are now stilled by time, but there remains another source of paradise-invoking sounds, and it begins at 7:00 every morning in Florence. As if by seniority, or perhaps by lowest octave, the bells of the Duomo’s Campanile di Giotto slowly begin to shake off their slumber and tune to each other in succession, as if in a choir. There are seven bells in all, each with its own name and pitched to a specific tone. They are: Campanone ("biggest bell") note A2, La Misericordia ("mercy bell") note C3, Apostolica: 1957, note D3, Annunziata: note E3, Mater Dei ("God's Mother bell"), note G3, L'Assunta, note A3, L'Immacolata, note B3.</p>
<p>Their seniority now properly respected, the rest of the city’s bells and pigeons now arise as one to greet the dawn, and I to toast this ageless performance with the day’s first cappuccino.

As if by seniority, or perhaps by lowest octave, the bells of the Duomo’s Campanile di Giotto slowly begin to shake off their slumber and tune to each other in succession. There are seven bells in all, each with its own name and pitched to a specific tone. They are: Campanone (“biggest bell”) note A2, La Misericordia (“mercy bell”) note C3, Apostolica: note D3, Annunziata: note E3, Mater Dei (“God’s Mother bell”), note G3, L’Assunta, note A3, L’Immacolata, note B3.

Their seniority now properly respected, the rest of the city’s bells and pigeons arise as one to greet the dawn, and I to toast this ageless performance with the day’s first cappuccino.

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Nov 112013
 
18 Oct 2013 Out a window of my Florence apartment, a harvest moon, slyly peering through a Turneresque swirl,  hangs suspended on the western horizon above the cypress trees and olive branches of Bellosquardo, a reveler reluctant to leave in this predawn darkness, the Duomo’s unrequited suitor; reluctant to share her charms once again with the stirring multitude. But then, who could resist her, this brightly lit jewel, so beautifully framed in the opposite window? Who would leave her and this romantic hamlet over which she presides but to answer to the urgencies of another day’s, another life’s promises?
 Photo: 18 Oct 2013<br />
Out a window of my apartment, a harvest moon, slyly peering through a Turneresque swirl,  hangs suspended on the western horizon above the cypress trees and olive branches of Bellosquardo, a reveler reluctant to leave in this predawn darkness, the Duomo's unrequited suitor; reluctant to share her charms once again with the stirring multitude. But then, who could resist her, this brightly lit jewel, so beautifully framed in the opposite window? Who would leave her and this romantic hamlet over which she presides but to answer to the urgencies of another day's, another life's promises?
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Nov 112013
 

 Lunedi, 14 Oct. 2013 Florence, Attic apt., Via Della Vigna Nuova, 24

A pastel veil slowly lifts over the Duomo as the first motor scooter whirs down the narrow cobbled street far below my attic aerie, perched precariously over the terracotta roof tiles of Florence.

Photo: Lunedi, 14 Oct 13<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Florence, Attic apt., Via Della Vigna Nuova, 24</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>'By the dawns early...Vespa"</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>A pastel veil slowly lifts over the Duomo as the first motor scooter whirs down the narrow cobbled street far below my attic aerie, perched precariously over the terracotta roof tiles of Florence.</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>A lone bell releases a few tentative gongs in the predawn light, as if to confirm its companions have not fled the surrounding nesting campanili.</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>An answering gong in the distance, then another, now the bells of ten others suddenly rise in answer like so many startled pigeons in the piazza. Si, siamo qui. Yes, we are here, still here, still marking the passage of another day, of another year, of another life, of another century.</p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>The golden orb and cross at the very top of the Duomo, the very top of the city, is touched by a rose extended through the hand of the rising sun. A hushed interlude. Like children stirring, small bells begin to chatter; now the elder bells begin again to encourage the slumbering mortals to awake. They seem to be saying. </p><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Morning has broken, like the first morning.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning,<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.

A lone bell releases a few tentative gongs in the predawn light, as if to confirm its companions have not fled the surrounding nesting campanili.
An answering gong in the distance, then another, now the bells of ten others suddenly rise in answer like so many startled pigeons in the piazza below. Si, siamo qui.

Yes, we are here, still here, still marking the passage of another day, of another year, of another life, of another age.

The golden orb and cross at the very top of the Duomo, the very top of the city, glows as if in response to a rose extended by the hand of the rising sun.

A hushed interlude. Like children stirring, small bells begin to chatter; now the elder bells begin again to encourage the slumbering mortals to awake. They seem to be saying.

Morning has broken, like the first morning.

Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.

Praise for the singing, praise for the morning,

Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.

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Oct 092013
 

Piazzl. Michl, Us twoFlorence, Italy, Wednesday, I think

I hurry in the early predawn darkness, my early pre consciousness, to capture the muses, the amuses, before their fireflies of impressions are extinguished by light, by time, by full consciousness of realty. There is an additional, unanticipated urgency; the clusters of cellphones and tablets have not yet discovered our escape from their ever present monitoring. Their habituated electronic surveillance slept while my wife and I snuck out of Monterey, California and arrived here, home, in Florence, Italy. Home, though we have not lived here for over forty years.

“Home” it would seem, is not just the physical place where, as nature would have it, you were dropped off, but also the “home” of the very cultural family into which you were born. Oh yes, I know classical Greece is recognized as the foundation of western society, but I’m talking about the elegant architecture, art, and literature that the Renaissance built upon that foundation. And where better to appreciate it in one compact jewel of a city, than Florence.

“You’re leaving, for a year, to Florence?” Our elder friends, that is to say our contemporaries, express in shock, then incredulity, then wistful admiration as we explain our intent to recapture our youth. Cynthia and I were newlyweds when we first stayed in Florence. And why shouldn’t we expect to revisit our own youth, our own history? In Florence, we can retrace our steps on the very cobble streets previously trod by Dante, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. We can revisit their youth, their early works, even the very houses they lived in, and the studios churches and palaces they decorated which we all can revisit.

“Florence hasn’t changed much in 400 years; I don’t expect much change has happened in forty.” Our friends seemed satisfied with our optimism.

Below our windows, the street sweepers are cleaning up after another night of communal revelry here in Piazza Santo Spirito, in the “Oltrano”, the “other side” of the Arno River. It is just a few strides from the Ponte Vecchio. Communal is indeed the right word to describe the feel for the entire Centro Historico, for this charming city is administered as the Commune di Firenze.

How “real” is it, really, to wake up on the first day of the rest of your life, and find yourself really here in Florence, again, for the first time, to have as the first evening’s walk the overriding memory of a buzz, of buzzes, a swarm of motor scooters. They descend upon the hapless pedestrian in the cross walk, the cross hairs of a determined mass of worker bees intent on their assigned destinations.

 “The bells! The bells!” No longer just the image of Lon Chaney, hands over his ears as Quasi Moto, that less than human, tormented creature, but rather a “Molto Moto”, a very human, very cherished experience of the peeling of bells throughout the city, yet seemingly intimate to the neighborhood. The bells of the innumerable campanili seem to be sonorously pitched to a deep, heart-longing tone, as if by some heavenly edict.

My bride and I lived in Florence some 42 years ago. Cynthia had visited here with her sister about four years later. Her message to me back in the states at the time was, “If you could see what I see now, you would drop everything you are doing and join me here in Florence.”

 And that goes ditto, from me to you. Ciao! 

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Nov 162013
 

    The “Up Front” commentary by AW&ST Senior Business Editor Joseph Anselmo (April 2,2012) got this senior citizen to thinking: Was the “space business” ever really meant to be a place for “we” to stay in? Growing up in Southern California during the halcyon days of the aerospace industry, my friends and I were raised on the “Promise of Tomorrow” as portrayed in the newly constructed Disneyland, and on the Sputnik-induced fear as spoofed in the movie “The Russian’s are coming”.

In those days, going into space was called the “Space Race”, not going into the “Business of Space”.  To win the space race against the Russians, there was a plan. Goals were set, objectives were achieved, and national pride was bolstered by being first on the moon. Mission accomplished. But what about the “business” of space?

Maintaining a manned presence in space never really had a business plan, certainly not in the sense that your local banker would expect if you came in for a loan. Rather, the public was assured of the “promise” of tomorrow’s unimagined benefits such as new technologies, new materials, perhaps even new or improved medicines manufactured in the weightlessness of space. All this to be achieved as our nation “invested” more and more into an hopeful results that lay just over the horizon.

Well, the public has since learned that government investment means spending our tax dollars, and that  hope is not a plan you can count on, certainly not in the costly business of space.

Charles Dusenbury

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Nov 162013
 

 

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Mr. Holman Jenkins asserted that America would not be safer by preventing the participation of the Chinese telecom company Huawei. Thankfully, some of those politicians more in the know about such matters are speaking up.

It is reassuring that elected representatives in both houses are willing to go public about the ongoing threats to national security and industrial technology theft by the Chinese intelligence community (WSJOpinion, Huawei: “More Than a Business Threat”, 7/20/2012). Senator Kyl, and Representatives Wolf and Myrick point out that the U.S, along with other countries has blocked Huawei Technologies from participating in their broadband networks. Hinting at some larger truths, the authors wrote, “We cannot here describe classified material relating to Huawei…”

Well actually, there are more than hints available for anyone who would care to read the publicly available “U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission” 2011 Report to Congress (http://www.uscc.gov/annual_report/2011/).

Page 365 of the report raises some serious concerns of how “China is using intelligence organizations in quasiofficial (track two) policy and academic exchanges.” Commissioners Ms. Bartholomew and Dr. Wortzel suggest there should be more study about the relationship, for instance, between the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William Owens (USN-ret) and the China Association for International Friendly Contact (CAIFC). The report states that CAIFC is part of the intelligence gathering activities of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It is reported that Adm. Owens started consulting for Huawei in 2009 and through the company he founded, Amerilink Telecom, is helping Huawei to enter the U.S. telecommunications market. These excerpts are but a small tip of the Titanic sized Congressional Commission’s annual report of the dangers our nation’s ship of state faces on the global sea of trade and commerce.

Perhaps every Huawei communications and software product should have a warning label:  This product may damage national security as well as political and business reputations.

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Nov 142013
 

HillaryA published Wall Street Journal Letter*

Bret Stephens’ “The Kissinger Question: Does America need a foreign policy? Obama thinks not.” (Opinion, May 14, 2013) proves Einstein’s “Theory of Relativity”. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, our nation’s foreign policy was advanced and evaluated relative to the position and actions of the Soviets.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, many nations were left without feeling any politically or geographically compelling center of mass around which to orbit. Thus freed from being, quite literally satellite nations, there seems now that any net cast from our own ship of state will not gather them into consistently following our own national aims.

Further drawing on Einstein’s theories, a critical mass of global politics may well have been reached with a resultant mega sociopolitical explosion. Long suppressed and contained political energies of national alliances have been propelled outward, flinging nations and even the factions within nations into a broadening universe of chaos. It is little wonder that our populace has covered its collective ears from this eruptive sound and withdrawn farther from supporting international involvement.

“Does America need a foreign policy?” The additional questions should be, “Relative to what?” After all, “What difference at this point does it make?”

* http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324082604578487330260456800.html?KEYWORDS=dusenbury

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Dec 042012
 

  The swift hand of Chinese justice has accused, tried, and convicted for murder the wife of a man who had had the summit of China’s leadership within his grasp. Soon we shall hear more about the whistle blower in the Gu Kailai murder case, Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun.  It would appear that Mr. Wang, as so many before him, will go into what one might call the Chinese version of the witness protection program.

In the United States, an insider of extraordinary value in the prosecution of a major criminal case may be given personal protection by the government. In Wang Lijun’s case, he is expected to be tried for treason for the “unauthorized” visit to the American consulate. Thus Mr. Wang will be silenced and the state will have protection from a witness who might otherwise reveal further embarrassing details regarding possible crimes and misdemeanors in high places.

The Chinese leadership proudly points to the historic arrival of China’s economic miracle. The Chinese citizenship awaits the long-overdue arrival of the miracle of true human rights.

Charles Dusenbury

 

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