Thursday, July 31, 2008

The government of majority

Wikipedia, in the Italian version, at the entry "partito politico" defines: "Un partito politico è un'associazione tra persone accomunate da una medesima finalità politica ovvero da una comune visione su questioni fondamentali dello gestione dello Stato e della società o anche solo su temi specifici e particolari" ("A political party is an association among people joined by an identical political aim, or even by a common vision on fundamental questions on the State and society managing or even only on definite and particular themes").
It is odd to notice that the English version, at the entry "political party" says something completely different: "A political party is a political organization that seeks to attain and maintain political power within government, usually by participating in electoral campaigns".

Italian constitution
Both of the two versions look enough correct to me, even if they start from two different points of view. The Italian version shows the need of citizens to participate to the government, through the vote. The English version is instead focused on the problem of control of power.

From Wikipedia definitions one could deduce that the task of a political party is to defend the interests of who votes for it.
It shouldn't work like that: a party's task, in my opinion, is to govern the Country.
And to govern, in a democracy (as the etymology of the word itself suggests: government of the people - the whole people, and not only the majority) means to work for everybody's interests, also of who didn't vote for it.

What's the need to vote for one party instead of another, if any winner would anyway do everybody's interest, then?
The answer is that it's not so obvious to decide which are the actions to do on a legislative/executive level to reach that goal. For example one typical interest of all the citizens is to increase the wealth of the State (and so, atleast on average, the wealth of the citizens). This is the goal of both Capitalism and Communism philosophies, but they want to obtain it in completely different ways.
The need to vote is to decide which way that goal should be obtained. Who votes shouldn't do it to promote its own interests, potentially opposite to other people's interests, but to contribute to the achivement of the whole community interests.

Then, there is the problem to define on one side the set of people that have the right of vote, and on another side the set of who is subject of the decisions of who wins the elections. Surprisingly the two sets are not the same.
For example it is obvious that underage people are subject to the laws although they don't have the right of vote. There's also an open discussion in Italy about the right of vote for the non-citizen immigrants, but it is unquestionable that the laws dictate also their rights/duties.
The distinction of the two sets is dangerous, because it shows that there is a set of people that decide how another set of people must behave, while those last people don't have any possibility to give their political point of view. In my examples it is not a problem for underage people because they are the children of who has the right of vote. But in the case of non-EU immigrants for example the thing is different. If the voters vote for their own interests and not for the common one, the immigrants are discriminated. Moreover there is the problem of the looser minorities. Since the majoritiy is the one who governs, in a democracy a vote aimed at the realization of the personal interests of the voters could discriminate not only the non-voters, but also the minoritarian groups of voters. Nazism warried to obtain the interests of who voted for it, also if this included also the extermination of the Jews.
Actually this cannot happen if there is a Constitution that prevent it, but this works only if also political power is submitted to Constitution. If instead the winner political party can change the Constitution, there is an obvious contraddiction.

The sense of this post is that, even if this looks to me obvious and necessary for a real Democracy, it seems that nor the elected people of the majority in Italian Parliament, nor their electors notice that those rules are not respected. And, by the way, not even in the minority.

And to pay the fee is the interest of the Country.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Good morning!

A new working day is gonna start. Still not completely awake, i go to open the door to the terrace/garden and i let the dogs out for any kind of answer to the call of Nature, and i put the coffeepot on. I go back to the bathroom and i finally get awake with some cold water on my face. When i go back in the kitchen the coffee is ready.

Today's breakfast
Some of my blogger friends know that i am under a diet, but the breakfast, it's known, is the most important meal of the day, so, there i am to set a healty plate to start the day in the best way.

Here it is my breakfast for today: one peach, a kiwi, some corn flakes, some yogurt, a cup of coffee (i like it black with no sugar) and a couple of toasted bread. Sometimes i add also a glass of fruit juice, a few of milk, a slice of cake or a couple of cookies.
Obviously the type of fruit depends upon the availability of the fridge and the season: cantaloup, plums, apricots are common variations. It will be more difficult to find some alternative during the winter.

Considering that since few times ago i couldn't swallow anything else than the cup of coffee, this is a big qualitative leap, isn't it?

What do you like to eat for breakfast?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chagrin d'école

Who would ever believe? Daniel Pennac, the teacher, when he was a boy he was a dunce.

But not a dunce-genius, like Einstein, who was bad at school because he had in mind something more important and creative. A dunce because he was not capable of understanding.
The self-analysis a posteriori of this experience helps the teacher Pennac to find out the dunce-saver teaching method. That, in fact, doesn't look like a great revelation. One needs only to identify in the dunce and find a stimulus for him, since he, alone, obviously cannot find any.
The problem is that as one understands less, the more he keeps on not understanding. He is not helped by school to comprehend subjects, but instead accused of not committing himself, or even to do it on purpose.

Daniel Pennac
The student for sure doesn't do it on purpose (he's no fool!). Instead he tries to find the way to understand, but, if not well driven, his path will be crowned with such failures to make him believe to be too stupid to do this. And this presumed stupidity discourages him to the point to give up trying to learn.
For the teacher, the epitome of the student is the intelligent young man that grasps subjects all of the sudden, asks interesting questions, and, enthused by the lesson, studies and prepares for the next one. The real function of school, instead, shouldn't be applied only to that student, but most of all to the dunce. The one that doesn't study because he didn't even understand how to study. In a school where the teacher feels rewarded by the easy success with the intelligent student, there is no space for the dunce, who will then feel excluded. He, himself, should instead be the one that needs school more!
The process of intellectual growth consists (also) in accepting the rules. But passively accepting the rules doesn't mean growing at all! So, an educative method based on the imposition of rules is doomed to fail. And for this, Pennac says, we need a thing that sounds almost like a blasphemy, in pedagogical environment: love.

In my school career i was very good in some subjects. I could say that on my behalf, the epitome mentioned above could be applied. But in other subjects i was terrible, and the reasons were exactly the ones described by Pennac in his book. If i had some teachers that showed me the way for History and Literature i could have an easier school-life. Nowadays i like those subjects. I can understand them! But at those times i didn't know i could. And i didn't know because nobody ever told me.
I can remember now the Italian and Latin teacher, and the English one (i was very good in Latin language and i had a good property og language in English, but Italian, Latin or English Literature!!!). I remember also the teacher of History and Philosophy. What a pain!
This last, in particular, was completely hopeless in teaching (upon Pennac's measure), but her enthusiasm for the subjects she taught could almost be touched in any of her lessons.
I couldn't understand, neither History nor Philosophy. Then, on a good day, i had a test about the philosopher Pascal (of which now i've completely forgotten). I remember that that day, instead of trying to repeat the lesson like a parrot, i decided to strongly support my own point of view (i always had a silent one), unfortunately it was never the orthodox one). Even though i would have a bad valuation, it was worth making use of my pride. I remember the surprised and incredulous expression of the teacher discovering my critical mind. In the beginning she looked almost condemning of my "arrogance", but then with the test going on, her belief that i was dumb begun to disintegrate. I remember that she asked The Nerd of the class to participate, and then it came out a discussion between me and him, under the disbelieving eyes of the rest of my classmates. It was the first good valuation in Philosophy. The first of a long list.
This episode for sure helped me in the average valuation for Philosophy, but it didn't modify anything in my results on Italian, Latin and English Literature or History. In those subjects i continued to be the usual dunce. It helped me, instead, to grow my self-esteem. I understood that if i wanted, i could make it.
But the English teacher, the Italian and Latin one, and even the the History and Philosophy teacher were so obtuse! My success in Philosophy clearly showed, in their mind, that i was a dunce because i didn't study enough. I did it on purpose! Not worthy enough for them to consider the idea of helping me!

It would have been nice to have a teacher like Pennac.

"Diario di scuola" ["Chagrin d'école"] is essentially the description of the educational method, applicable to the role of a teacher, but in my opinion also to the one of a parent. Sometimes the flow of the book becomes too much simplified: i don't believe that the teaching world could clearly be divided in goods and bads, and i don't even believe that "dunceness" is so easily definable. School and, in general, the young world is more complex than how Pennac shows. Anyway, in my opinion it's a book that is worth reading. The former dunces can stop to feel alone in their dunceness and discover that it is an experience common also to other people. Parents and teachers can be driven in the difficult task to help the dunce. Everybody else can see that they have been only a little bit more lucky not to suffer such a condition.

And what about you? Were you dunces or nerds? Or, like me, "so and so"?

By Pennac i've already read (twice!) the whole hexalogy (in the original language it was an eptalogy) of di Benjamin Malaussène: "Il paradiso degli orchi" ["Au bonheur des ogres"], "La fata Carabina" ["La fée carabine"], "La Prosivendola" ["La petite marchande de prose"], "Signor Malaussène" ["Monsieur Malaussène"], "Ultime notizie dalla famiglia" ["Monsieur Malaussène au théâtre" and "Des Chretiens et des maures"], "La passione secondo Thérèse" ["Aux fruits de la passion"].
Moreover i read also "Signori Bambini" ["Messieurs les enfants"], and the comics "Gli Esuberati" ["La débauche"].

I liked everything that i've read by this author.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Today there is the demonstration against the "processes lock" law by Berlusconi at 6:00pm, Piazza Navona, Rome. Too bad not being able to be there.
Besides the promoters, Furio Colombo, Paolo Flores d'Arcais, Francesco "Pancho" Pardi, also Antonio di Pietro, Dario Fo, Andrea Camilleri, Margherita Hack, Sabina Guzzanti, Ascanio Celestini, Moni Ovadia, Rita Borsellino, Marco Travaglio, Dacia Maraini, Gianni Vattimo will participate.


Even George W. Bush looks like he understood the real nature of The Dwarf!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Grandpa Gino's apricots

I read some place that visual memory, in human beings, is more persistent than the one coming from the other senses.
The colors of summer in my grandparents' garden, for example, are still alive in my mind, after more than thirty years.
One detail, in that garden, almost summarizes my childhood: the apricot tree.
An ancient, huge tree, that matched in similar size a fig tree at the opposite end.
Grandpa's apricot tree used to produce tons of fruits that matured all contemporarily in few days, and in those days incredible amounts of fruit were shared with relatives, friends and neighbors because in those times, nothing was to be wasted. The excess that still remained after the distribution was transformed by my mother and the other women in the family into so much jam that one could swim in it, and came into good use for the rest of the year.
The picture of that fruit is really evocative to me, but i thought i had forgotten its taste. It's been awhile that i've eaten apricots that taste like apricots. Possibly around thirty years since the ones i eat now are bought only at the supermarket. They don't taste like anything because, for commercial reasons, they had been picked still green and matured on the shelves.
The other day i bit into an apricot bought at the GAS i was speaking about in the previous post. All of a sudden my memory flew to grandparents' garden with myself, knees all dirty and greasy, playing with my brother as if it happened yesterday.

Here, our second shopping list at the GAS:
  • 1kg [2lb and 3.27oz] homemade bread loaf with walnuts - 3.95€
  • 1kg bread loaf with spelt, pumpkin seeds and oats - 3.95€
  • 1kg "Pugliese" bread loaf, with flour 0 and wheat bran - 3.10€
  • 1kg "Tranvai" bread loaf, with flour 0, rasins and apricot - 2.50€
  • 500g [1lb and 1.63oz] organic apricots - 2.10€
  • 1kg organic nectarines - 3.40€
  • 1kg five grain cereal - 3.55€
  • 1l [2.11pt] dish detergent - 1.50€
  • 1.470kg [3lb and 3.85oz] cantaloupe - 4.70€
Total: 28.75€

In particular, beneath the apricots, the cantaloupe and the loaves are very good.
This time the shopping was ordered in advance, and i collected it in another place, convenient because of the close proximity to our home (even if still reachable only by car). Unfortunately this is only a pick-up location, and dry and surplus products are not available to buy with no reservation.
The waste of packaging was almost nothing: one (parcially broken) carton box, saved from some product supply, two used paper bags for the bread, one used plastic bag for the apricots and one for the cereals, one used plastic bottle for the detergent, to be returned. Peaches and cantaloupe with no packaging.