Thursday, November 6, 2008

Watching change

Spent last night with some friends at an alleged election night party that turned out to be a dark, loud, third rate rock concert directed at the binge drinking crowd. Had a pair of lousy g&ts and came home early only to find nothing of use on the computer. So I set the alarm for 5am because I knew that CA polls would be closing about then. Arrived on line just in time to hear McCain's concession speech. Found it heartfelt and sympathetic and he sounded like he really meant it. Then Obama's speech (in front of 125K crowd! How does he do it!!) which left most of us in tears. Missing only Al Franken victory, Ted Stevens repudiation, and Prop 8 failure. I was hoping we were going to see the end of the Abortion/Gay Marriage/Creationist distraction game but not yet. Dawn broke on a sparkling bright, shiny day where all's right with the world.
I'm not sure Americans know how much the people in the rest of the world cared about this election. Most countries I've visited love Americans even if they hate our government. And they really wanted to like us again. In my travels over the last two years, the third question asked of me, after where do you come from and how do you like Italy, is how we get rid of George Bush? And since January, I am nearly always the expert of choice: Hillary or Obama? I always said I don't care, any Democrat will do, but now I am really pleased that it is Obama because of his incredible "presidential temperment". The man seems unflappable! And I think the next four years will have molto flaps. I have heard many black Americans saying "I am so grateful I lived to see this!' Me too.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Italy bits: Berlusconi has released a CD of himself singing traditional Italian songs just in time for Christmas.
The Education Minister has introduced a set of new regulations to "improve" the schools and the students (high school level and college) have gone on strike and occupied the schools. They are milling about in front all of them and there are bedsheet sized signs hanging like wash from all the windows. This week and last there were huge demonstrations in all the major cities which included a sit down on the rail lines in Milan and a punch up between them and some hard line conservatives (read Neo Facisti) and the cops in Rome which drew the unions into the fray and last Thursday they called a general strike. I couldn't tell.
To endear himself with the aforementioned students, Il Cavaliere (Mr. B) went to a private school where there was no strike since they aren't affected, and told them "I only sleep three hours a night and I can still make love for three hours! You should be like me when you are 70 years old!" I'm sure they were impressed. (If it takes three hours, you're doing it wrong.) He won the election last April with enough members that they have passed the law excluding him and the top five members of the government from prosecution, saving him from any continuation of his trial for corruption. Interesting that he seems to have run for office to keep himself OUT of jail. Here you get three shots at a “get out of jail free card” and never see jail before the appeals are completed and never at all if the sentence is less than three years since the jails are completely full. Not because they catch and imprison a lot of criminals but because they don’t build any new ones. Life usually means 10 or so depending on your pull.
Lastly, November is white truffle month and there are festivals celebrating them all over. They are the food of the gods.