In late 2007, in the midst of that presidential election cycle, I was a 21-year-old private in the U.S. Army. While Hillary Clinton and…
Scientists stimulated a part of the brain that’s associated with detecting and responding to problems, then tinkered with it to reduce people’s beliefs in God.
Is this a good or a bad news?
When I gathered up enough despair for finding a smart idea to write about, I just stumbled upon some surprising subject that put me into an unexpected direction.
When I am able to take the time to reflect upon this kind of unexpectedness I realize that this is the rule and not the exception.
One of a few surprises of these days was the answer for this simple question:
What should every person be knowledgeable about or be proficient in by the age of 20?
Let me analyse, first, this question. It sounds mature, with a concern that casts the shadow of time running out for somebody too close to that milestone. There is a contrast between the preciseness of the question and the fuzziness that should stay behind that question. It looks like a parent who is looking for an objective answer, maybe a cool one. Or behind the question is somebody who knows – generally speaking – the colour of the answer and is waiting for the occasion to say “I told you…”
Now, when I write these lines, I suddenly have the revelation that the person behind the question might be me. I was looking for a neat pattern for what should be, do and have a person at 20. It is a metaphysic knowledge. I am long done for that milestone and the answer that I found puts me in a discomfortable position of being wrong at fifty, forget the twenty.
Now, one of the answers I prefer (taken from Quora):
- How to cook 10 good meals
- How to dress like an adult and not a teenager
- How to get enough sleep on a daily basis
- How to manage your tasks, projects, and calendars so that you never miss a date or forget anything important.
- How to read 100 pages in a day with the same comprehension you would experience if they were spoken to you.
- How to relate to the opposite sex without objectifying them or being afraid of them.
- How to break arbitrary addictions: soda, Facebook, TV, video games, tobacco
- How to pay bills on time and not spend more than you can afford
- How to be comfortable in your own skin, without the constant need of affirmation, showing off, sounding smart, whatever.
I told you …
- What I love: Quora(inbusinessandlife.com)
- Smaller web encyclopedias can be more authoritative than Wikipedia(teleread.com)
- 25 Habits That Will Make You Smarter(time.com)
- 8 tricks for remembering everything you read(businessinsider.com)
Each evening, after 19h, during the second shift, I was waiting for the sound of his steps. He was a small-to-medium-built man with a dark complexion. His slightly swinging gait gave him a certain stateliness. The Mondays were the only days when his black beard, freshly shaved, was allowing his face to be seen. Despite the lack of high-level formal education, he was a very knowledgeable man with a rare skill: he knew to ask questions and to look for new questions from the answers he had got. I think his formal training was in vocational school only. He was a very smart guy and an avid reader. Every single engineer in the Company (quite more than a hundred) knew him well and few of them really appreciated his friendship, me included.
I have many memories with and about him: his uniques accomplishments, our discussions during the last hours of the evening shifts – when the production process allowed us to chat – and so on. What pushes me, now, to write about him is a story from a revolute era, when the Berlin Wall was still to fall in a couple of years, that links perfectly with present day when some other Walls are still to be built.
The only character in all the articles, in the very few newspapers, was the Leader (of the Party and the country). My friend, one day, took his time, despite nausea that it provokes, to count all the places where the Leader’s name was printed in the Party’s newspaper, a slim 8 pages.
In that memorable evening, he arrived with the Party’s newspaper in his hand, thrown it on one table and said to me “His … name is mentioned here for two hundred times.” After a long moment of silence, filled up with despair, he added “It might be worse than now but has to be somebody with a fucking different name.”
By the way: we have an election here on 19 October, isn’t it?
I have to confess: I am an Internet wanderer. Even the worst one: within Wikipedia.
I should do a few series of posts on this theme, only chaining all the links passed through in one single day (that should be a performance rate) could give a glimpse on the amount of information and diversity covered by.
During one of these wanders I land on the YouTube for some elevated musical background and I saw the name of Riccardo Muti as director of the concert that I had just chosen. I didn’t recognize his name (shame on me!) but the name Muti told me something (the Italian actress Ornella Muti).
Eventually I learned about his art, carrier and life: from a couple of unusual of his actions. I really think that “unusual” is not the best word. There is the normality expressed in a different way.
The first of these acts was, as described by Wikipedia’s page about him:
On the night of 12 March 2011, Rome‘s Teatro dell’Opera staged the first in a series of scheduled performances of Verdi‘s opera Nabucco, conducted by Muti. After the end of the chorus “Va, pensiero“, which contains the lyrics “Oh mia patria, sì bella e perduta” (“Oh my country, so beautiful and so lost”), the audience applauded “heartily”. Conductor Muti, breaking with opera protocol and the strict conventions of composer Verdi[…] himself, turned to the audience and delivered a small speech, referring to the severe budget cuts announced by the Berlusconi government[…] which would particularly affect the funding of the arts. Muti spoke of the need to keep culture alive in Italy, prompted, as he later stated, by the belief that “killing culture in a country like Italy is a crime against society. Culture is the spiritual glue that holds a people together.”[…] Muti then invited the audience to participate in an encore of the “Va, pensiero” chorus – the invitation and the encore also a break from tradition for an opera performance[…] The opera audience stood up and sang along with the on-stage chorus.[…] Muti recalls that “80 percent of the audience knew the lyrics” and sang along, while “some members of the chorus were in tears”[…]
On 18 March, the performance of Nabucco was repeated in front of Italian president Giorgio Napolitano and prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Muti, who had stated that it had been the first time in his life that he conducted chorus and audience together and also the last,[…] on that occasion conducted the Verdi opera in the “orthodox” manner.[…]
Now I would make a short digression.
Since a while I live in North America and, among the many things that give the color and landscape of day by day living, is the game of hokey (you know that amazing and fierce fight on ice, with the sole attribute of the skill a weird stick). After a few Stanley Cup Plays-off you may catch the virus, or, at least, began to understand the syndrome. That is about the culture of belonging, about the community, ultimately about the clan.
Those who live in the light and shadow of sport(s) – doesn’t matter the specific – know what this means.
End of the digression.
Maestro Riccardo Muti was named conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 2010.
The local team in NHL is the famed Chicago Blackhawks and that was running in plays-off (for Lord Stanley Cup) season of 2013. To show the support for the team’s fight “Muti created an orchestral version of the Blackhawks’ goal song, Chelsea Dagger. In a YouTube video posted on the CSO’s official channel, Muti led the CSO while wearing a customized #19 Blackhawks sweater—a tribute to Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, who wears #19 [from wikipedia]“.
Eventually the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.
- Rare encore: Muti conducts audience (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Maestro Muti’s Macbeth, minus the theatrics (chicagoreader.com)
- Music Speaks to a Nation (ergonom3.wordpress.com)
- “Va, Pensiero” Five Ways (uncouthreflections.com)
- Muti University: Full-time Maestro, Part-time Professor (operachic.typepad.com)
- Muti conducts ‘Requiem’ for WWI 100th anniversary (miamiherald.com)