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Last updated: Friday, April 18, 2014
Informazioni utili per l'italiano in California
What's New
Italian Recipes
Ricette Italiane
Languages
No English? No Italian?
How to register my shareware
You can register online, too!
Preempting the Mac
the article of mine that appeared in MacTech Magazine, January 1997.
Help my father
and win an almost free registration
Fab Links
Leverrier and Neptune
a letter I sent to Scientific American
Urban Legends and Italy, or Throwing Pasta Up On The Ceiling
Can you create urban legends, or eradicate them? If you are a smart Neapolitan psychiatrist, the answer is yes.
Exceptions Considered Not Harmful
A C++ virtuoso rebuttal to Joel Spolsky's take on exceptions.

My (old!) classic Macintosh software

CDIconKiller
damn those slow custom icons!
ChunkJoiner
concatenate files
Disk Charmer
erase, verify, copy disks; DiskCopy & DiskDup+ images
FaberQuencer
KeyQuencer extensions
Folder Icon Cleaner
erase, repair custom icons
Forward Delete
delete the character at the right of the insertion point
GW-Ada/Ed-Mac
optimizations to an Ada 83 interpreter
mallocfree
ANSI C memory allocator
MicroArchitecture Simulator
educational tool, based upon a book by Andrew S. Tanenbaum
QuickestMirror
download from the fastest site
RH Unabridged and Webster's Patches
bug fixes to the Random House dictionaries for the Mac
SetupPartitions
hard partition HDs formatted with early versions of Apple HD SC Setup

Other programs I wrote.


Unless otherwise stated:

  • my programs work under System 7 or later;
  • everything is 32 bit clean, 68040-cache friendly, virtual memory aware, PowerMac compatible (until you submit a bug report!);
  • you can launch my applications multiple times in a networking environment, as well as from a locked disk.
Nearly everything is built with the awesome MetroWerks CodeWarrior programming environment.
Oct 9, 2013
Our app for differential diagnosis in veterinary medicine, Small Animal DDx, is now ready for iPhone 5s and iOS 7.
Sep 27, 2012
Our app for differential diagnosis in veterinary medicine, Small Animal DDx, is now ready for iPhone 5 and iOS 6.
May 23, 2012
Think Differential. Our app for differential diagnosis in veterinary medicine, Small Animal DDx, now allows changes to the font size.
Feb 3, 2012
Our app for differential diagnosis in veterinary medicine, Small Animal DDx, now covers Oncology.
Dec 5, 2011
At long last, a free trial of the world’s first app for differential diagnosis in veterinary medicine, Small Animal DDx, is now available on the App Store.
Oct 19, 2011
Another long hiatus... my first iPhone/iPad/iPod touch (iOS) app, possibly the world’s first app for differential diagnosis in veterinary medicine, Small Animal DDx, is now available on the App Store. In order to deliver Small Animal DDx I teamed up with Dr. Andrea Vercelli, a leading VMD who provided the scientific content.
May 31, 2008
Long hiatus... Fabrizio has been playing with WordPress (and other things)...
July 9, 2006
Calcio: Italia Campione del Mondo!!!
July 4, 2006
Italia-Germania 2-0
May 9, 2006
Dagoberto Gilb, Special to the L.A. Times: Taco Bell Nation: Look around any of these fast-food franchises and you'll see the mosaic of people we've become. Maybe a little too portly. And way too ignorant of what a real chalupa is.

How's a Taco Bell chalupa not like a Taco Bell taco? It is a lot bigger, maybe by two. The beef one I bought had sour cream in it. But the shell, well, it is not corn like the taco's but is a thick, white flour pita bread that has been fried on the outside so that it keeps its U shape but isn't hard inside. The main filling in both is the meat, the beef, what would be picadillo on a Mexican food menu. I ate them both, and let me tell you unambiguously, reflecting my complete and utter surprise, how genuinely awful the meat was. It was spiced, if you'll excuse the expression, somewhere between very lousy chili and the worst jar of spaghetti meat sauce, only a lot less good. It was so bad it doesn't even matter for me to say I didn't like the taste of that chalupa shell much or that the taco's shell wasn't nearly as good as the cheapest generic grocery store tortilla chips, because those are complaints along the lines of griping that Wal-Mart doesn't have a fine enough selection of clothing.

I won't even bother to be polite and say that I liked the sour cream, you know, to think of something nice to say. Because it doesn't matter. Both the chalupa and taco were so sincerely awful, a food thinking so outside the bun, that I can't even praise the few chunks of tasteless, if still possibly a little healthy, tomato.

Putting that all aside—I know, but putting all that aside anyway—there is something uniquely American happening because of the Taco Bell phenomenon. The people working there describe exactly the diversity of the American culture, an economic accident where a Mexican national who speaks English poorly works with a nerdy white kid and a honey-talking black woman, where the manager, with two young children, might be named Jim or Ernesto or Tamiqua. And so what if this food's no more Mexican than a Big Mac is from Hamburg, Germany—and if they think they like Mexican food, and then they want to try tacos at real Mexican restaurants, they may learn that they like not only the food but Mexican people and Mexican culture. That is not how it has been in even the recent past. It represents a positive when other American people might come to understand how American Mexican Americans are—seeing that mom and her three sons talking, laughing, eating the same bad chalupas that they do and not knowing any better. It's an Oprah's Book Club bringing culture to the dinner table—OK, so maybe to the coffee table in front of the tube, or maybe through the driver's window and spilled onto the car seat.

Taco Bell's seasoned ground meat isn't picadillo because it isn't Mexican. The taco and its filling are American now. Like spaghetti that really isn't very Italian, like potatoes that are not only for the Irish, like French bread that isn't French, like a kosher dill pickle that isn't only Jewish anymore, a taco from Taco Bell is what food from Mexico has never become because of its variation and specialties in different regions not only on the other side but even on this, the American side: Burritos, huge in popularity and girth in California, are exotic in the borderlands of Texas, while breakfast tacos, craved by all who live in a city like San Antonio, go virtually unthought of from El Paso to Los Angeles.

Apr 14, 2006
Jerry Hirsch on the L.A. Times: California Olive Oil Tasters Flunk Test of Distinction

California's olive oil police have been pulled over.

An industry panel that for five years has certified the quality of California's olive oil -- discerning virgin from extra virgin oil -- has flunked an international taste test.

[...]

The lack of stringent U.S. regulations prompted the California Olive Oil Council in 2001 to use its own tasting panel. The group doesn't have enforcement powers, but signals its approval by issuing seals to products that meet international standards for extra virgin oil, prized by both home and professional chefs for salads, baking and entree preparation. However, the specially trained 22-member panel failed an annual test of its sensory skills last year. In January, the International Olive Oil Council pulled its formal recognition of the panel as a certifying body.

[...]

The oil also must undergo scrutiny by a panel of experts, who smell and taste it to make sure the oil isn't musty, rancid or otherwise unpleasant. That's where California's olive oil panel tripped up. The Madrid-based International Olive Oil Council, the primary international body for judging olive oil, sent the panel five oils, each labeled with a letter code. As a group, the panel had to correctly identify a defect or lack of defect in three of the five samples and rate the intensity of any defects on a standard international scale. The Californians didn't make the grade, although it isn't known by how much.

Apr 4, 2006
Remo Bodei will hold a conference tomorrow at the Italian Institute of Culture in Los Angeles. He is allegedly one of the foremost Italian philosophers. I have been debating whether attending is worth the half an hour drive (multiplied by two). The list of his interests contains way too much historicism for my tastes. Reading some of his articles hither and thither, I cannot help noticing that the coming of Sir Karl Raimund Popper during the Twentieth Century still has to appear on some people's radars. For example we read in La mancanza di senso storico (from the interview The meaning of history, June 30th, 1994):
[...] the disbelief, especially manifested by the younger generations, [...] in the ability of History of going toward a visible direction; that is, people no longer easily believe that the past can teach us something [...] In other words, up until History was believed to be oriented by Providence or a direction toward the better, and up until events were selectable somewhat easily because they were related to nearby issues, it was easier to believe that history had a meaning. Today as we are bombarded with centrifugal events, each of which seems to obey to rules that escape us, it is difficult to believe that the knowledge of the past or of the present can possibly help us find the way.

As Popper showed in The Poverty of Historicism, you will have a hard time finding a direction in History, if only because scientific and technological developments cannot be predicted in advance. Looks like backwards reasoning to me. Knowledge of the past (a.k.a. history, lowercase) can still help a lot, thank you very much. The real problem, as Amazon reviewer Mark J. Ross (Carbondale, Colorado, USA) points out:

I read this book, and several of Karl Popper's other books then available in English, while still a graduate student in anthropology at an American university. While neither my dissertation committee members nor even my fellow graduate students were much interested in my attempts to bring Popper's arguments to their attention, I found his work to be exhilarating for its clarity, courage, and fairmindedness. Thirty-plus years later, I still do.
Feb 16, 2006

Brendan I. Koerner: I Don't! Why people in Connecticut have cold feet.

This Valentine's Day, as candles flickered and tuxedoed garçons poured champagne, thousands of women gazed into their boyfriends' eyes and muse, "Maybe, just maybe, he's the one." A few of these love-struck fools were forced to make a decision by meal's end, when a diamond engagement ring was plopped into their glass of Grand Marnier.

To gauge their odds of receiving a Valentine's Day proposal, marriage-minded women could do a little number crunching. If the night's dinner was scheduled for a bistro in Connecticut, for example, all is basically lost; according to the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, the Nutmeg State had the nation's lowest marriage rate in 2004, at just 24.2 betrothals per 1,000 single women over the age of 15. The runners-up were also blue states: After Connecticut, the top marriage-phobic states are California (26.4 weddings per 1,000 single women), Pennsylvania (27.4), New Jersey (30.4), Massachusetts (30.4), and New York (30.6). Why is Connecticut the No. 1 state for people with cold feet?

The National Marriage Project:

It is now well known that there has been a weakening of marriage and the nuclear family in advanced, industrialized societies, especially since the 1960s. What is not well known is the surprising fact that the two nations which lead in this weakening are Sweden and the United States -- two nations which stand at almost opposite extremes in terms of their socioeconomic systems. Let us look at one telling statistical measure. Defining the nuclear family as a mother and father living together with their own biological children, a good measure of nuclear familism in a society is the percentage of children under the age of 18 who live with both biological parents. This percentage for the United States is 63, the lowest among Western industrialized nations. The second from lowest is Sweden, at 73!
Jan 18, 2006
The Meatrix: save your local family farms from the factory farms machine -- enter your ZIP code and find family farms near you. That will send you to the Eat Well Guide.
Jan 12, 2006
I am finishing Piano Notes : The World of the Pianist by Charles Rosen. It is an immensely enjoyable book, provided that you have some pianistic background. Some reviewers on Amazon seem to think that anyone could enjoy this book -- but it is so packed with details that only a pianist (or piano technician) can fully appreciate that I cannot imagine someone with no classical music background reading this book.
Sep 30, 2005
Survived the fires that burned more than 20,000 acres around here, so far. Scary. It's not over until it's over, the Los Angeles Times says at about 6PM:
The focus remained on the big Topanga Fire further west, which has burned about 20,655 acres and is about 20% contained, according to the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. No date was given for full containment by fire units from all over the state led by Los Angeles and Ventura County Fire Departments. More than 800 people were evacuated from the Topanga area, but officials said today that most are being allowed to return. Two areas, Lake Manor and Bell Canyon, remained under mandatory evacuation and voluntary evacuation was suggested for three other neighborhoods Mt. View Estates, Malibu Canyon and Old Agoura.
Fondazione Italia is a Los Angeles-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1998 for the purpose of promoting the study of the Italian language and culture throughout Southern California, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. Therefore, they deserve a link right away.
Sep 25, 2005
Giù le mani dai bambini (Hands off the children):
The aim of the campaign is to ensure complete and correct public awareness (teachers, parents, adolescents themselves, etc.) on the subject of abuses in the administration of psychopharmaceutical drugs to children and teenagers. With over 11 million children chronically dependent on amphetamines in the United States alone, this situation has now become a genuine medical emergency that is also affecting Italy.
Jul 11, 2005
Arizona School Will Not Use Textbooks:
TUCSON, Ariz. -- A high school in Vail will become the state's first all-wireless, all-laptop public school this fall. The 350 students at the school will not have traditional textbooks. Instead, they will use electronic and online articles as part of more traditional teacher lesson plans. Vail Unified School District's decision to go with an all-electronic school is rare, experts say. Often, cost, insecurity, ignorance and institutional constraints prevent schools from making the leap away from paper.
Emphasis mine. Unfortunately, this appalling remark has been pasted across a large number of newspapers. Jakob Nielsen in Writing for the Web warned that reading from computer screens is about 25% slower than reading from paper. A more recent paper set out to test this and other hypotheses: Reading Online or on Paper: Which is Faster?
In agreement with findings from previous studies, reading on paper was 10-30% faster than reading online.
Please note that 32% is the difference for text formatted as one column (very common on the web). Beata ignoranza.
Jun 8, 2005
Long hiatus... moving soon. I finally conceded and with a nice Yahoo special I purchased a domain: pianofab.com. For my web hosting needs I picked Pair Networks.
Feb 14, 2005
The Curse of Valentino is back. Almost.
Jan 9, 2005
Excellent: Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times tackles Crichton's State of Fear in his Being Set Free From Fear of the Future, I think without the benefit of having read Mullis' book first, especially the What happened to scientific method and The age of chicken little chapters. I may send him a note.
Floating Logos:
The Floating Logos project is inspired by signs perched high atop very tall poles so that they may be viewed from a long distance away. When standing next to these poles, the signs loom over us in such a way that we must crane our necks to see them. The elimination of the poles helps to accentuate the ominous feeling of being beneath these signs as well as serve to disconnect the signs from the ground and reality. The ground is purposefully left out of these images in order to emphasize the disconnect, but hints of terra firma are included in the forms of trees, wires, light poles, buildings and other land-based objects. The floating effect is intended to give the signs a supernatural quality that is meant to call attention to the hegemonic role consumerism and advertising play in our society.
Jan 8, 2005
Michael Crichton must have read Kary Mullis' Dancing Naked in the Mind Field. Hint: there are many other chapters in Mullis' book that could inspire another Crichton novel. We'll see.
Jan 1, 2005
Finished Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. As expected, Blade Runner (either one) is pathetic by comparison.
Dec 26, 2004
Terrifying earthquake and tsunami in South Asia: you can donate to the American Red Cross from the Amazon website.
Dec 21, 2004
Gravity May Lose Its Pull: When conventional physics couldn't explain why the Pioneer probes were acting strangely, one JPL scientist was determined to find the answer. The Pioneer Anomaly.
Dec 11, 2004
US Do Not Call Registry, to curb the telemarketers.
Dec 9, 2004
Just a random assortment of useful links: Google Zeitgeist: search patterns, trends, and surprises according to Google and YourDictionary.com: the last word in words and PressDisplay.
Dec 6, 2004
The Zoomquilt is totally insane. Salvador Dalí (and a number of other people) would be proud.
Dec 5, 2004
Great stuff from Steve Lopez on the Sunday Los Angeles Times: Out With the Old, In With the Fake.

I took my daughter to the Grove the other night and she loved it. She doesn't talk yet, but she looked like she wanted to say: "Daddy, I feel like I'm in Italy." It might have been the cobblestones, or the fountain, or maybe it was Maggiano's Little Italy restaurant. The developer of the sensationally popular Grove is a gent named Rick Caruso, who seems to be remaking half of Southern California as we speak. For the Disney-esque Grove, he says he was inspired by the Italian villas he visited as a boy, which leads me to believe he and I visited different parts of Italy.

[...]

As far as I can determine, a "lifestyle center" is a place where there might once have been a real cityscape that has been replaced by a sanitized one that resembles a movie set. To each his own, I guess. Some people, for instance, like to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas. Then you have wiseguys like me, who take pictures of the people taking pictures of the Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas.

[...]

The Grove does not merely lack soul and originality, it celebrates the death of both. But who can deny its success?

Nov 30, 2004
Finished Philip K. Dick's mindboggling Ubik. Remember: Ubik is only seconds away. Avoid prolonged use. Safe when taken as directed.
Odds and sods: The American-speaker's guide to Proper English. Pukka lingo, Blighty style.
Nov 28, 2004
Kevin Moss at Middlebury College authored a cool website about Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita.
Alfred Barkov's site about The Master and Margarita deserves a link as well.
I am glad to see that Tog is alive and well: Ten Most Wanted Design Bugs.
Nov 27, 2004
Finished Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five.

Rosewater said an interesting thing to Billy one time about a book that wasn't science fiction. He said that everything there was to know about life was in The Brothers Karamazov, by Feodor Dostoevsky. "But that isn't enough any more," said Rosewater.

One of these days I have to check out the The Original Los Angeles Farmers Market.
Nov 26, 2004
Per chi come me è cresciuto in Italia negli Anni Settanta: Pagine 70.
Just because I don't see why not, I have been investigating what CSS changes are necessary to render my website nicely on my new Dell Axim X50. After trying out some suggestions from A List Apart, Pocket-Sized Design: Taking Your Website to the Small Screen, and some degree of stumbling in the dark, I finally found a revealing discussion on HTMLDog, and especially their handheld media type test. It turns out that there is complete confusion among manufacturers on whether or not a PDA device constitutes a screen, CSS-wise. Some do not consider it a screen, so only the handheld-specific style sheets will be applied. Others, like Internet Explorer on my Dell Axim X50 with Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, apply both screen and handheld stylesheets. Which one is correct? Either way, it looks like CSS hacks once again are in order.
Nov 20, 2004
Listen: read Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions.

Kilgore Trout owned a parakeet named Bill. Like Dwayne Hoover, Trout was all alone at night, except for his pet. Trout, too, talked to his pet.

But while Dwayne babbled to his Labrador retriever about love, Trout sneered and muttered to his parakeet about the end of the world.

"Any time now," he would say. "And high time, too."

Ancient Observatories: Chaco Canyon.
Not far from Arizona's Kitt Peak Observatory, on a remote high plateau in northwestern New Mexico, the desert wind whistles through the shallow 10-mile canyon that was once home to a mysterious people. From approximately 850 to 1150 A.D., the Chacoans built a vast and well-organized stone city, where they studied the movements of sun and stars. And then they disappeared.
I visited Chaco just last year.
Nov 17, 2004
Finally read some Philip K. Dick. I can already recommend his The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Ambientato in un futuro in cui la temperatura terrestre è aumentata a dismisura, in esso si parla della "E Therapy" applicata da un certo Dr. Denkmal ad Eichenwald in Germania. Questa terapia (previo pagamento di lauta somma) consiste nell'accelerazione del naturale processo evolutivo in modo da rendere l'individuo più competitivo -- ed è resa naturalmente possibile dalla scoperta della ghiandola che lo regola: "Kresy's Gland". Come l'avranno tradotto in italiano?
Nov 14, 2004
Well, Skype had probably nothing to do with those reboots. My hard drive died not too long afterward. So it goes.
Sep 7, 2004
Another correction: my PC started to spontaneously reboot, and after a short panic session I managed to uninstall Skype, and the reboots went away. Definitely not ready for prime time.
Sep 5, 2004
The Los Angeles Chapter of the Piano Technicians Guild now has a website!
Sep 3, 2004
Correction: the Purple Card rates appear to be cheaper than Skype's rates. Hmmm...
Sep 2, 2004
What Clay Shirky predicted a while ago has finally happened: Skype is here.
Aug 12, 2004
The news of the day: the Veneto region moves to celebrate the anniversary of Baldassare Galuppi's birth. Galuppi, born in Burano and therefore dubbed "Il Buranello", will be 300 years old on this day in 2006.
Aug 1, 2004
Languagehat sends this interesting Agoura Hills FAQ.
Jul 31, 2004
The Secret Life of Newt Gingrich: Former speaker of the House by day, Amazon.com super reviewer by night.
Jul 29, 2004

Mini-discussion at work regarding the use of cannot vs. can not. As Languagehat points out:

[...] This is appalling for two quite distinct reasons: from a copy-editing point of view because it implies that cannot and can not are interchangeable, and from a lexicographical point of view because it's a lousy definition. The definition of cannot should be either "the negative form of can" (as the AHD has it) or a periphrasis like "is not able to." The only context in which can not, two words, occurs is as an emphatic alternative: "You can do it, or you can not do it." In that case, it is clearly two separately spoken words, with the not given special emphasis, and equally clearly it means something very different from cannot, namely "have the option of not (doing something)." The only acceptable form for the unabbreviated negative of can (or, if you prefer, for the expansion of can't) is cannot, one word. People are always trying to put a space in there, and we poor overworked editors need some backup; help us out, Webster's!

For those who may be thinking "But aren't you one of those anything-goes descriptivists?": sure, when it comes to speech, and written forms that accurately reflect a chosen form of speech. If ain't is part of your natural vocabulary, you should say and write it fearlessly, and you have my full support. But this is different. Nobody says can not (two distinct spoken words) except in the rare context I mentioned above; the negative of can is pronounced as one word, k@NOT or KAnot, and therefore it is a crime against accurate representation of spoken English as well as against the rules of written style to write can not.

We cannot go more fully into the point in a digression like this.

The New York Public Library Writer's Guide to Style and Usage, p.43 concurs.

Interestingly, other engineers have been debating the issue with the same outcome.

Jul 21, 2004
Mark Bernstein: Throwing Stuff Out Is Obsolete.
It often costs more to decide to throw something away than to save it forever.
Of course we are talking about hard drive storage.
Jul 5, 2004
Andy Hertzfeld, a member of the original Macintosh team, created Folklore, collecting stories from the folks who contributed to create the Apple Macintosh. Some of my current favorites are Hungarian, referring to the insanity dubbed Hungarian Notation; and -2000 Lines of Code, referring to absurd management practices.
Jul 4, 2004
Independence Day here in the US. To celebrate, Fifty-nine Deceits in Fahrenheit 9/11.
Jul 3, 2004
Christopher Hitchens: Unfairenheit 9/11 -- The lies of Michael Moore.
To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of "dissenting" bravery.
Jun 12, 2004
The Apostrophe Protection Society. Lovely.
Jun 6, 2004
Super Size Me is a must-see movie!
The story of a man (Morgan Spurlock) who decides to undergo an experiment in the name of science: For one month (30 days), he will eat nothing but McDonald's for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If it's not sold over a McDonald's counter, he can't eat it. He must eat every item on the menu at least once... and see the results. We all know, to some extent, what the results will be, but they are shocking nonetheless.
Apr 25, 2004
Thomas S. Garlinghouse: The Left's War on the Family:

Conservatives have long advocated the importance of strong families and deplored efforts, by socialists, feminists, and government bureaucrats, to weaken familial ties. Indeed, for many conservatives, the family -- the traditional, "nuclear" family -- is the fundamental cornerstone of society, an absolutely indispensable form of social organization.

[...]

Leftists, by contrast, have long taken a decidedly jaundiced view of the traditional family. To them, a household consisting of an adult male and female -- united in matrimony -- and their offspring is an antiquated, repressive institution standing in the way of constructing a "better," more egalitarian world.

The famous 19th century socialist Robert Owen included the family, along with marriage and private property, in his "triumvirate of evil," which, he asserted, has "cursed the world ever since the creation of man."

From The American Thinker.
Mar 16, 2004
Good stuff: How NOT to Build an Aircraft Carrier:
France is considering joining with Britain to buy a new carrier of British design. Actually, the French had planned to built a second nuclear powered carrier, but they are having so many problems with the first one that they are quite reluctant about building a second like the troubled "Charles de Gaulle".
Mar 11, 2004
Madrid, Spain: Terror Blasts Kill at Least 192. El Mundo: Comunicado íntegro de Abu Hafs- Al Masri. The world is a very dangerous place.
Mar 10, 2004
Gal Luft & Anne Korin on Commentary Magazine: The Sino-Saudi Connection. The world is a dangerous place.
Feb 28, 2004
In a doomed attempt to fend off the Atkins craze, let me dig up Corby Kummer's Pasta:
An inquiry into a few fundamental questions: How did spaghetti and meatballs, a dish no Italian recognizes, become so popular here? What makes some brands of pasta much better than others? What's so special about fresh pasta? What do Italians know about cooking pasta that Americans don't?
Feb 15, 2004
Il Pirata non c'è più. Qualche volta penso di essermene andato troppo tardi... invece me ne sono andato troppo presto. Essendomi perso le sue grandi imprese, rimangono solo la nostalgia e la tristezza.
Feb 11, 2004
Clay Shirky: Customer-owned Networks: ZapMail and the Telecommunications Industry.
  1. Scrap the existing network, which relies on pricey hardware switches and voice-specific protocols like Time Division Multiplexing (TDM).
  2. Replace it with a network that runs on inexpensive software switches and Internet Protocol (IP). This new network will cost less to build and be much cheaper to run.
  3. "Preserve the revenue stream" by continuing to charge the prices from the old, expensive network.

This will not work, because the customers don't need to wait for the telephone companies to offer services based on IP. The customers already have access to an IP network -- it's called the internet. And like the fax machine, they are going to buy devices that enable the services they want on top of this network, without additional involvement by the telephone companies.

Two cheap consumer devices loom large on this front, devices that create enormous value for the owners while generating little revenue for the phone companies. The first is WiFi access points, which allow the effortless sharing of broadband connections, and the second is VoIP converters, which provide the ability to route phone calls over the internet from a regular phone.

More than one year old, but still an excellent read. Especially after Sprint let me know that they are raising my rates by 10%.
Feb 4, 2004
Tog is back with a vengeance. Let's hope he's right, although it is way too late now.
Jan 16, 2004
G. Zibordi underlines how inexpensive electronics is in the US compared to Europe:
I bought a Toshiba laptop latest model etc... at J&R in New York City for US$1,890. This weekend I saw it at a Media World store in Northern Italy for €2,690. Using the current exchange rate (1.27) that is €2,690 in Italy versus €1,400 in NYC for the exact same laptop manufactured in Japan (!) Same for the Handspring Treo 600, one of the latest smartphones, almost a PC: US$580 in NYC and about €890 in Modena. That is €430 versus 890. For electronics the difference is around 60-70%. Sales tax is 4% in NYC and VAT is 19% in Italy so that does not explain the difference.
He quotes:
Excess capacity has discouraged foreign producers from trying to raise prices in the U.S., even though their costs are rising in dollar terms, and they would rather see their margins shrink than surrender market share. For instance, because of the price war in the U.S. car market, German auto makers now sell some high-end models in the U.S. for far less than they fetch in Europe, according to a study by Ferdinand Dudenhoffer, managing director of the Center for Automotive Research in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. For example, Volkswagen AG's luxury Audi A8L with a V8 engine lists for $68,500 in the U.S., a third less than its dollar-equivalent price in Europe.
Jan 11, 2004
Heading to the Palm Springs International Film Festival today.
Jan 8, 2004

I just finished reading a rather astonishing book; it will be no surprise to learn that it is virtually unknown to the most. Ironically, I picked it up at David Kaye Books & Memorabilia in the otherwise God-forsaken San Fernando Valley.

The book even lacks an ISBN number, owing its single printing to the Rutgers University Press, so you will have to find Donald Heiney's America in Modern Italian Literature on BookFinder.com or find its LCCN=64024738 in the Library of Congress Catalog. This is an incredible tour de force that should be mandatory reading in Italian schools the year before the Maturità.

From the flap jacket:
Mr. Heiney's book is not only a definitive study of the Italian myth of America but also a detailed examination of the manner in which certain modern Italian writers express this myth in their work. [...] The result, the first full-length work in its field, is a brilliant study in comparative literature, one that reveals much about the nature of the two cultures, their interrelation, and the differences between them.
Jan 6, 2004
Happy New Year with a little Piedmontese pride from The Wine Club newsletter:
Wine Spectator has rated the 2000 vintage in Piedmont a perfect 100 points. This is the first time the Spectator has awarded a perfect 100 points to any vintage anywhere.
Dec 8, 2003
OnlineConversion: Convert just about anything to anything else.
Nov 27, 2003
Shankar Vedantam on the Washington Post, Tuesday, January 14, 2003: More US Kids Receiving Psychiatric Drugs, Question of 'Why' Still Unanswered:

The number of American children being treated with psychiatric drugs has grown sharply in the past 15 years, tripling from 1987 to 1996 and showing no sign of slowing.

A newly published study, the most comprehensive to date, found that by 1996, more than 6 percent of children were taking drugs such as Prozac, Ritalin and Risperdal, and the researchers said the trajectory continued to rise through 2000.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Nov 25, 2003
Dave Kopel and Eugene Volokh: Loaded Guns Can Be Good for Kids.
Nov 22, 2003
New York City signs, from 14th Street to 42nd Street.
Nov 20, 2003
The White House Tapes:
Three of America's most compelling presidents - Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon - bugged their White House offices and tapped their telephones. They left behind thousands of secretly recorded conversations, from momentous to mundane.
Nov 18, 2003
El Silbo Gomero: En este ámbito geográfico, el silbo gomero es un medio de comunicación especial, que permite enviar mensajes sencillos de un lugar a otro, a condición de que llegue el sonido. Esta curiosa forma de comunicación tiene origen prehispánico y no constituye una lengua en el sentido técnico de la palabra, sino una modalidad de habla que deletrea las sílabas mediante el silbo, con la ayuda de las dedos introducidos en la boca.
Nov 14, 2003
Stuart Langridge: The tyranny of tabbed browsing.
Interestingly, Stuart agrees with me about The Matrix Revolutions. Oh, well... almost ten bucks down the drain.
Nov 12, 2003
Bomb at Italian Base in Iraq Kills 25: A suicide truck bomber attacked the headquarters of Italy's paramilitary police in the southern city of Nasiriyah on Wednesday, killing 25 people - including 17 Italians - and possibly trapping others in the debris.
Nov 8, 2003
Saw The Matrix Revolutions: what a piece of junk. The Matrix Reloaded was already pretty bad compared to The Matrix, but this is as appalling as a Star Wars prequel.
Nov 7, 2003
The Political Compass. The old one-dimensional categories of 'right' and 'left' , established for the seating arrangement of the French National Assembly of 1789, are overly simplistic for today's complex political landscape.
Nov 3, 2003
The Soul of a Pedicab Driver, by Carl Etnier.
Nov 2, 2003
Victor Davis Hanson: Why History Has No End.

After wiping the floor with Fukuyama (no problem with that), VDH rants about the European Union hubris, ironically with an amazing display of hubris of his own; here is just one example:

No less utopian is the E.U.'s assumption, contrary to all economic reason, that a 35-hour workweek, retirement at 55, ever-longer vacations, extensive welfare benefits, and massive economic regulation can go together with swelling prosperity.

It does not occur to him that, contrary to his view of the E.U. as a behemoth inflicting its whims on its subjects, that is exactly the will of the European people. The right not to spend one's life at work, to retire early, to go on vacation, to have a family (and so on) is a political right -- it is contrary to the economic reason of those in the top income bracket, and perhaps not even that. That some supposed economic reasons should drive politics, now that's dangerous thinking.

Via Vinod.
Nov 1, 2003
After much collective dancing, the first rain of the year today. I am not going to get (literally) burned this year.
Oct 31, 2003
Welcome to the new Crap OS X. Bye-Bye Data: Glitch in Panther:

Mac users are roaring in rage because of a nasty installment glitch that erases data on external hard drives. After upgrading to Mac OS X 10.3, better known as Panther, they are finding external FireWire drives are no longer recognized by the host machine. In many cases, all the data the drives stores are also gone.

The glitch is particularly troubling because many Mac users backed up their files to an external FireWire drive before installing the Panther upgrade. In some cases, the glitch erased files on the main machine and the external backup.

"Panther has managed not only to lose my iTunes Library and my iPhoto Library, but also their backups kept on -- you guessed it -- my external FireWire hard disk," reported John Irvine on Apple's discussion forums. "I've lost ALL of my baby pictures for my two small children. My children's BABY PICTURES.... I'm astonished.... It's a monster."

It boggles the mind to think about the amounts of important data entrusted to unreliable, mediocre devices by the average consumer.

Via Wired News.
Oct 29, 2003
Major find: the Language Corner on the Columbia Journalism Review. Evan Jenkins even sounds like Fowler!
Oct 27, 2003 Satellite view of California burning
Now this is a useful link: Los Angeles City Traffic Conditions. A good companion to SigAlert Los Angeles.
California Fires Threaten 30,000 More Homes: it gets uglier and uglier. There was a light drizzle of ashes this afternoon in Calabasas. The sun was red behind the billows of smoke.
A 90,000-acre wildfire that straddles the Los Angeles-Ventura county line began moving slowly toward million-dollar mansions in a gated community in Los Angeles. California Department of Forestry Battalion Chief Thomas Foley said that in a "worst-case scenario," the blaze could spread all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
That's just what I wanted to hear, since I am just about between the fires and the Pacific.
Oct 26, 2003
Google as Big Brother.
Oct 25, 2003
California Fire Destroys More Than 200 Homes: we were able to smell it late this afternoon. Eerie reddish clouds toward Simi Valley. We are safe for now.
Oct 23, 2003
Interestingly, I was not alone in suffering the utter disregard of major cycling events from the local televisions. My spies in the UK tell me that after the cycling world championship was four hours or so into the race, the broadcast was interrupted to show the bloody women's football. They finally resumed broadcasting the race at the last 10 kilometers. Unbelievable.
Oct 22, 2003
Exceptions Considered Not Harmful: a C++ virtuoso rebuttal to Joel Spolsky's take on exceptions.
Oct 21, 2003
Dumb American Trends: Friendster
I don't know, maybe it's the lack of decent pubs in the suburbs, but only Americans would need to invent such an absurd way to meet people.
That's what happens when you've been Bowling Alone for a while.
Oct 20, 2003
Lileks Matchbook: for our matchless friends.
Oct 19, 2003
Type in Stockholm: signage coming from the folks at Typographica, a journal of typography. Via What do I know.
Oct 18, 2003
Vagabonding: the solo, one year, round-the-world journey of Mike Pugh, an optimist from Chicago, USA.
Oct 16, 2003
Andrew Welch: Bad Boys Get Spanked:

Gray Davis is a uniquely loathsome politician who failed to grasp, in nearly three decades suckling the public teat, how his bloodless personality, lack of demonstrable core beliefs, and brazen willingness to auction his own ass to the highest bidder made a bad state crisis worse, and focused voters' wrath quite specifically onto his pale robot shoulders.

[...] were it not for the little problem of the current state budget relying on $14 billion in borrowing, some of which has already been ruled preliminarily unconstitutional. Gray Davis and the legislature took a bountiful dotcom-era budget surplus, spun it into an annual structural deficit of around $8 billion, and reacted to the subsequent voter outrage by steamrolling tons of new expensive laws and rejecting any connection whatsoever between this kind of legislative promiscuity and the fundamental crisis at hand.

Wow. Read the whole thing.
Andrew Welch: California Latinos confound predictions:
Exit polls showed that Schwarzenegger got 30 percent of California's Latino vote, more than any Republican candidate in a decade.
Oct 14, 2003
The Annals of Improbable Research have announced the Ig Nobel Prize winners for this year.
Oct 13, 2003 Heitz Cellars Grignolino Port 2000 label
Sipping 1999 Grignolino Port from the fine folks at Heitz Cellars. I bet the 2000 is good too.
Downside is still around. Time for a reality check.
Just how much are your mutual Fund Expenses?
British Pathe has millions of images archived online.
Oct 12, 2003
Against my principles, I saw a tempting banner and I clicked on it. Emode had a free IQ test for me. I randomly clicked on the radio buttons for a while, supplied a disposable email address from Mailinator, and waited for the response. My monkey-typing earned a respectable IQ of 102. Their short summary is worth quoting in full:

This number is the result of a formula based on how many questions you answered correctly on Emode's Ultimate IQ test. Your IQ score is scientifically accurate; to read more about the science behind our IQ test, click here.

During the test, you answered four different types of questions -- mathematical, visual-spatial, linguistic and logical. We were able to analyze how you did on each set of those questions, which reveals the way your brain processes information.

We also compared your answers with others who have taken the test, and according to the sorts of questions you got correct, we can tell your Intellectual Type is a Precision Processor.

This means you're exceptionally good at discovering quick solutions to problems, especially ones that involve math or logic. You're also resourceful and able to think on your feet. And that's just some of what we know about you from your test results.

Sadly, Bettini did not make it. Astarloa (Spain) won a well-deserved victory. My dad did the live reporting on the phone. I then realized that the live websites were behind by a couple of kilometers!
This is really painful: in the God-forsaken US of A, of the hundreds of satellite TV channels not a single one is showing the Cycling World Championship taking place in Hamilton, Canada. I am following a text-only summary on Eurosport and KataWeb Sport.
Michael Schumacher wins for the sixth time on a Ferrari. In this day of victory, the Ferrari website displays a blank, black page in my browser.
Oct 11, 2003
A few clicks and I am back in Turin: Il Giornale della Musica. Noteworthy in the October 2003 issue:
Dynamic and Deutsche Grammophon are reissuing recordings by Dino Ciani, who prematurely died in 1974. Dynamic published a 6-CD collection titled Dino Ciani: a tribute, a heterogeneous but well-chosen collection of recordings dating back to 1965-68, and the complete Beethoven Sonatas recorded live in Turin; while Deutsche Grammophon collects in 6 CDs all the recordings by the pianist in their possession.
Paolo Valdemarin noticed a resurgence of the Austrian Empire.
The Southern Word is a riot. Improve your knowledge of some variants of US English.
Believe it or not, this is very important: The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!) from Joel Spolsky:
When I discovered that the popular web development tool PHP has almost complete ignorance of character encoding issues, blithely using 8 bits for characters, making it darn near impossible to develop good international web applications, I thought, enough is enough.
Somehow I always forget to link to my friend Duncan Wilcox. His company, focuseek, came out with an intriguing searchbox.
Oct 10, 2003
Today is the World Day against the Death Penalty, as organized by the World Coalition against the Death Penalty. (Incidentally, these people could use a spelling and grammar checking tool.) Interestingly, Hands off Cain does not participate because they disagree with the charter, but only on the Italian version of their website.
Yesterday was one of those days -- you spend almost 12 hours at work, mostly putting out fires, and when you leave it's dark and cold. (OK, I'm in California, so that translates to mildly cool.) But then you get in the car, and on KUSC the Aria from the Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach is playing. You listen to the aria while hoping it is the beginning. It is the beginning. The pianist is playing the repeats, with embellishments. It does sound fantastic, and it is: András Schiff in a live recording released on the ECM label.
Oct 9, 2003
A picture is worth a thousand words: Who voted to recall Davis, broken down by precinct. Via What do I know.
Loophole being closed: you may buy US Government Savings Bonds with a credit card (and collect those perks) only until the end of the month. Seen in Kiplinger's magazine.
Oct 8, 2003
California has a European governor!
Oct 7, 2003
Museo Castello del Buonconsiglio: Rifiorir d'antichi suoni -- tre secoli di pianoforti. Until the end of October, but I'm afraid I'm going to miss it. I live a few thousand miles too far.
Oct 6, 2003
From the web archives, as a memento to those wondering why Gray Davis is being recalled: EGray: Government favors at auction prices.
Oct 5, 2003
The wireless revolution never ceases to amaze: the Neuros MP3 digital audio computer.
Oct 4, 2003
Wired: Why Stock Options Still Rule.
Oct 3, 2003
Quiz: Programming Language Inventor or Serial Killer? Found via What do I know.
BBC News: Coffee cleared in chemical court. Thank goodness, I am heading toward my Gaggia Syncrony right now.
Oct 2, 2003
My Sardinian friends tell me that the Tenores de Oniferi will perform at the Italian Institute of Culture in Los Angeles on the 28th later this month.
After the recent US blackout in August and Italian blackout in September it is a good idea to visit Roberto Vacca's website and reread The Coming Dark Age. While you are there you may find lots of other interesting stuff.
Oct 1, 2003
Who killed Apple Computer?

Although we successfully forced personal computing to move to the graphical interface, since then fundamental innovation in personal computing has ground to a stop. The operating system most computers users work with every day is stuck in 1993, with very little fundamental improvement in the last decade. The applications on users' desktops, bloated beasts like Word and PowerPoint, haven't substantially improved in years.

Why? Because they don't have to change. Because there's no effective competition. Because Apple failed.

Those of us who use Windows every day at work are reminded constantly of our company's failure. Unfortunately, the rest of the world is being punished along with us.

Yet no one takes responsibility for what happened. In fact, most of us who were at Apple at the time claim passionately that the company's collapse wasn't our fault.

Sep 30, 2003
Investigations and speculations: the Mysterious Earth Blog.
Mar 29, 2003
New: Informazioni utili per l'italiano in California
We are off by one week with Europe on Daylight Saving Time. Interestingly, we were off by a lot more but Ronald Reagan fixed it.

As a California resident, I just hope somebody will extend it to at least the whole of March, if not to the whole year.

There are more serious disconnects with Europe, though: Robert Kagan's Of Paradise and Power: America vs. Europe in the New World Order begins like this:
It is time to stop pretending that Europeans and Americans share a common view of the world, or even that they occupy the same world.
Nov 28, 2002
Happy Thanksgiving!
I am reading Bernard Lewis' Islam and the West. Written in 1992, yet very current.
Oct 12, 2002
Another hiatus... I have a new job at the cool Ixia in Calabasas, CA.
Jul 23, 2002
Quick question: who invented the telephone? ... Wrong! The U.S. Congress recently passed a resolution finally acknowledging Antonio Meucci as the true inventor of the telephone:
HONORING THE LIFE AND ACHIEVEMENTS OF 19TH CENTURY ITALIAN-AMERICAN INVENTOR ANTONIO MEUCCI -- (House of Representatives - June 11, 2002)

[...]

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the life and achievements of Antonio Meucci should be recognized, and his work in the invention of the telephone should be acknowledged. [...]

This resolution expresses the sense of the House of Representatives in honoring the life and achievements of the 19th century Italian-American inventor, Antonio Meucci. We have all grown up believing that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. However, history must be rewritten if justice is to be done to recognize Meucci as the true inventor of the telephone.

The resolution was submitted by Rep. Vito Fossella.

Italian telecommunications engineer Basilio Catania thoroughly documented Meucci's achievements in his books.

But the true inventor of the telephone might as well be Innocenzo Manzetti from Aosta...

Jul 17, 2002
Once in a while it's good to reread D. J. Bernstein's remarks about the software user's rights:
In the United States, once you own a copy of a program, you can back it up, compile it, run it, and even modify it as necessary, without permission from the copyright holder. [...] Microsoft hates this. Of course, Microsoft could restrict your rights by demanding that you sign a contract before you get a copy of Windows, but this would not do wonders for Windows sales. So Microsoft puts a "license" on all of its software and pretends that you don't have the right to use the software unless you agree to the "license". [...] The problem with Microsoft's license is that it's unenforceable. You can simply ignore it.
Jul 9, 2002
How many Italian researchers work outside Italy? Are they willing to return to their home country? An extensive survey, based on answers from hundreds of Italians in academia:

CENSIS: Inquiry on the brain drain phenomenon (in Italian only)

As an aside: Urban Legends Reference Pages.
Jul 7, 2002
I booted the PC this morning and the TV was showing the movie Being John Malkovich.

Malkovich Malkovich

Jul 4, 2002
Shooting at LAX airport.
To celebrate becoming once again the #1 Fabrizio on earth according to Google, a fun story: Top of the Heap.

I almost forgot: David F. Gallagher, the author, will want a link to his website. :-)

For those like me, who make a living writing and maintaining source code:

How To Write Unmaintainable Code.

May 6, 2002
Warren Buffett: Nuclear attack on the US 'virtually a certainty'
May 4, 2002
Science Fiction... one of my all-time favorites is Isaac Asimov's The End of Eternity. Quite expensive these days, but well worth it.
May 3, 2002
CNN: Snipe Hunting in Afghanistan
Apr 30, 2002
I just finished reading Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle... a little disappointing.

Perhaps I was expecting an ending as good as the one in The World of Null-A by Alfred Van Vogt.

I know of another book imagining a world where the Axis won WWII: L'Asse Pigliatutto by Lucio Ceva, published in Italy by Mondadori in 1973 apparently.

(There is a pun in the Italian title: "Asse" means both "Axis" and "Ace", as in a card game where the ace "takes all".)

I saw it being recommended by Marcello De Cecco in his L'Economia di Lucignolo.

Apr 22, 2002
Samuel P. Huntington's views in an article on the Atlantic Monthly. In case you do not have the book at hand.
Apr 21, 2002
I am reading Samuel P. Huntington's The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. Immensely interesting.
Apr 20, 2002
Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential is an awesome book I received as a gift. Highly recommended, not for puritans.
Sep 23, 2001
Awesome article on the Sunday Times by Bryan Appleyard:

The USA saved Europe from the Nazis, defeated communism and keeps the West rich. Why has it become the land of the loathed?

Sep 21, 2001
Transcript of George W. Bush's speech.
Sep 18, 2001
As we say in Italy, Stephen Hawking drank his own brain. He is watching too much bad sci-fi and actually believing it. Oh, boy.
Sep 16, 2001
Asbestos Could Have Saved WTC Lives (Steven Milloy, FOX News).
May 22, 2001: in Bush's Faustian Deal With the Taliban Robert Scheer says that a $43 million gift makes the U.S. the main sponsor of the Taliban regime.

A Google search about the issue, however, produces Shameless leftist lies pushed by The Nation (Brian Carnell of LeftWatch).

I could not find an answer, retraction or correction on Robert Scheer's website.

Sep 14, 2001
A modern Cassandra: a former CIA operative explained why the terrorist Usama bin Laden had little to fear from American intelligence:

The Counterterrorist Myth (The Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2001).

Also, check out the Atlantic Flashbacks: The Triumph of Terrorism and Coming to Grips With Jihad.

Sep 11, 2001
Unprecedented attack on the US

A phone call woke me up this morning. My mom called from Italy while the first of the World Trade Center twin towers was collapsing. My dad added that the Pentagon was also being attacked. It sounded like a horrible nightmare but the images on TV were all too real. I saw the second tower crumbling right before my eyes, and for a good two minutes, the newsmoron on KTLA said we were watching the scene taped earlier. The other people in the studio also did not seem to notice... finally there was an embarrassing silence, followed with the admission that well, that was actually live, that the twin towers were no more.

A friend of mine who lives and works in Manhattan just happens to be traveling in Europe right now. I know somebody who called in sick and stayed in Brooklyn, otherwise he would have been stranded in Manhattan today.

The death toll is going to be staggering. There is no doubt the US will react.

scripting.com is covering the tragedy with links to online newspapers, magazines and weblogs.

According to the Corriere della Sera of Milan, Lucio Caputo, president of the Food and Wine Institute in New York City, barely made it from the 76th floor of the WTC (in Italian). He rushed down the stairs and finally reached the basement where his car was parked. He stopped about 200 yards from the WTC and he saw the skyscraper collapse while he was calling his wife.

Sep 10, 2001
Jacques Vallée (The Four Elements of Financial Alchemy):
In Europe, where most countries have paternalistic governments, ossified corporations, and an extensive social support network designed to stifle labor unrest, young people actually plan their lives in terms of the career privileges or class advantages they may gain later, a tremendous waste of creativity and productive energy. The clever ones go into government bureaucracies, which take care of them for life and allow them to change or subvert the rules they don't like.
His book is not about Europe, though... it is about managing your own finances. It is interesting to see how the author retraces his steps as a (rather successful) European immigrant to the USA; as a matter of fact, he specifically refers to situations and financial products typical of the US. I liked the approach and I learned a few things, but I admit I expected more from this book. (Anybody familiar with Vallée's earlier works has high expectations from any book of his, I think.) In particular, I was expecting a more thorough treatment of index funds; in particular, why in most cases it is more convenient to buy an index fund.
What was new...