Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Paradox

I'm seated alone in a big light grey couch, in front of an unlit fireplace and a led tv above it, in a luxurious cabin in the wood between mountains, with the front wall made almost only by glass.  Depressed by the recent news about the attacks in Paris, reflecting on the nature of humankind i stay there, motionless for some time in the little light dawn is spreading around. With a sight I turn on the tv without really watching it, but in a few minutes a new special edition of the news starts and with some trepidation i give it some attention.
But it is not about Paris, it is not about more death, alien spaceships are quickly approaching earth.

I'm now on a hill, near the city the alien spaceships decided to approach and with the few others that have the ability to fly on our own we start to fly toward the the city.
From the long sharp ships a couple little (in comparison to the ships) vehicles depart.
They are something halfway between advertising balloons and airships and are en route to the city center, where a lot of skyscraper and narrow streets, just a few meters larger than those vehicles are, dominate the city-scape.
I arrive flying in the city just as one of those airships gets trapped in one of the streets. The vehicle is so soft that not even a window of the building it touch is broken, but still the airship comes to a stop.

A couple aliens, very human-like but still different enough to feel alien, exit the airship and enter the otherwise unoccupied and a little run down building through one of the window.
I've entered the building, probably from an open window on the upper levels as I'm now going downstairs to reach the aliens. Suddenly i stop and sit on the stairs and start crying big fat tears, silently sobbing and gulping down each breath.
After a while one of the aliens, a male if you stick to human standards, reach me from the lower floors. He stops and looks at me, before having to answer some communication device and i someway know he is speaking to his father (that is also his commander) that is bothering him for some reason or another. I see/feel/know how annoyed he is by his strict father. Someway he dismiss him and look back at me, wondering and silently asking why I'm crying.
Between sobs i answer that I'm so happy, happy and relieved that i could meet them, that i was always sure that aliens existed but that i thought i would never be able to meet them, I try to explain him the Fermi Paradox. And i keep crying, even if we are now smiling at each other.

A. N.
This is mostly a dream i had just one or two days after the attacks in Paris in November 2015 that i had to write down and now found on my pc.
If you want to know how the alien looked like they were a gentler, less animalesque version of the Thundercats, basically humans with something feline in them.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

The Tablecloth Game

It is late summer and the night starts to fall a little earlier each day so there is already some darkness, enough for mystery but not enough for real fear. At the outdoor table a family of four seat: Mum, Dad, the Kid and his Sister.

The end of dinner is approaching and with it the Kid is becoming restless, both for what he hope would happen and for trying to hide its excitement. In a few minutes they could play the Tablecloth Game, their game, only him and his Dad, neither his Sister nor even Mum could play it as only the two of them knew the rules. The first and most important is surprise: it all started as a Dad prank and it have to simulate one now.
At last dinner ends. Mum starts to bring dishes and cutlery away from the outdoor table and Sister is quietly looking around as if searching for someone or something hidden that is calling her, only her. Perfect setup for the Tablecloth Game. Dad takes the pink tablecloth and shake it outside the balcony to toss away the crumbs and, come on, oh come on, yes! Dad does not fold it but with a mischievous smile approaches the Kid that is faking indifference with all of his strength.

So it starts, Dad quickly covers the Kid with the tablecloth and kidnaps him in its arms, spins a few times around and goes downstairs into the garden. He spins around a few more times and walks away trying to distracts the now ghost masquerading Kid with a little tickling. The walk last less than a minute, but under the tablecloth it is much longer and borderline scary.
Then Dad stops and gently puts down the Kid on his feet and ask "Where are we ?"
This is their Game, a little scary blind trip into the garden and then the wonder and little scare of not knowing where he is.

But today the Kid knows the answer, today he knows. Under the tablecloth, today he noticed something, or, to be precise, the lack of something.  There was no rose smell, so they should have turned right after coming down the stairs.  Then, then there was the metallic sound when he was put down and Dad's arms are circling his legs and not his shoulder. He knows.
Many would say that it is not a nice place, someone (Mum will never know, obviously) may even say that it was highly unhygienic, but at the moment it is better than  a throne, a throne on top of the world, just because today HE KNOWS.
Raising the tablecloth over his head, and, if he is lucky it would cover his Dad head he cried "I'm over the garbage can! We are at the garbage can!"
And indeed they were.

Dad, freeing himself from the tablecloth strengthen his hold on the Kid legs and bring him to the floor. The Kid just run away, going back to the stairs and back into the balcony (disrupting his Sister meticulous scan of the neighborhood) and through the door to find Mum to let her know about his success. It would be a long time before he would be able to calm down and go to sleep... something Mum probably would be speaking about to Dad later, with a little glare and a not so little smile.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Interesting in translation vol. 4: Smarter than me

Something i came up a few days ago, originally in italian. Let see if it works in english too... you tell me.

Smarter than me

It was said it would be updated
but it wasn't. On the contrary, I lose it.
We are speaking about Facebook,
something worth a withdrawal crisis!
But maybe it's just that:
my cellphone is,
really, a smartphone.

The original italian:

Lui e' piu' furbo di me

Dice che lo aggiorna,
ma poi non lo fa, anzi resto senza.
Parliamo di Facebook,
roba da crisi d'astinenza!
O forse semplicemente
il mio cellulare lo e',
smartphone veramente.

And now some observation:
The biggest issue was the gender. A phone, being an inanimate object require neutral gender pronouns in english, immediately giving away that we are speaking about an object while in italian, not having a formal neutral gender, the inanimate nature of the subject can't be noticed until the final reveal).
In italian there are a couple rhymes too (senza/astinenza and semplicemente/veramente), something i will not touch in english as my pronunciation is something horrible, practically it is only a written language to me... and it seems there are no good rules to sort out how a written world should be spoken in english ;-)

Sunday, 20 March 2016

The new ward

After a few silent months of absence silly inspiration struck and so here we have "The New Ward".  Obviously whatever you recognize is owned by JKR ;-)

She wouldn't tolerate this anymore. She already spent hundreds of pounds in repairs in less than a couple years and could not, well, would not face such expenses again, especially as she wasn't the one responsible for the damage. Yes, yes, in the end she was always refunded but it was a matter of pride and principle now.

And this is the reason she is spending another Sunday in her office in the Department of Mysteries, hidden between old books and sheets of parchment full of notes and diagrams.  Harry and Ron already got preoccupied and tried to get her to spend her Sundays in a better way, "Just sleeping them out would be better" was Ron tactful input to that discussion. She assured them that she needed to do it, that she can't let her Dad gift get ruined as she promised she would not repair it by magic and tinkering too much with it the muggle way would ruin it in the end.

But today would probably be the last Sunday she will spend in this project as the results of her test run of last night were finally a success.
She used a mild disillusion charm on herself and tried her new ward while walking up and down some of the darkest and most drunkard laden streets of London (just don't let Harry and Ron knew about this or she would not hear the end of it) and no one ever got in contact with her, even when she started running straight toward the most drunk of them, they just got more alert, looked straight at her and then moved out of her way.

Yes, the new ward was ready, it was a portable ward combining a couple common charms, a little tweaked Notice Me Not (that now could be really called Notice Me Now) and a wide spectrum sobering charm good against most of the attention lowering causes like sleep, alcohol and drugs. The nature of magic itself would take care of the other main attention thief, no cellphone would work when hit by the ward, at least until it would stay in the affected area.

It was good enough she decided, now she could go home and finally apply it on its intended target. No, no one will ever bump on her car anymore. She may even end up publishing something abut her new Wake Up And Look At Me ward.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Randomly stumbling on 700 years old poetry

This morning i found myself re-reading one of the most famous sonnet by Dante Alighieri: "Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare" (So gentle and virtuous she appears). I say re-reading as it is one of his work that every italian students has to read if not even memorize at least one (if not more) times in his/her school life.
This sonnet is part of La Vita Nova (The New Life... i just realized now that i went for a few years to a very modern looking gym called New Life!).

Dante and beatrice.jpg
"Dante and Beatrice" by Henry Holiday - Unknown. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Tanto gentile e tanto onesta pare
La donna mia quand'ella altrui saluta
Ch'ogne lingua deven tremando muta,
E li occhi no l'ardiscon di guardare.
Ella si va, sentendosi laudare,
Benignamente d'umilta' vestuta;
E par che sia una cosa venuta
Da cielo in terra a miracol mostrare.

Mostrasi si' piacente a chi la mira,
Che da' per li occhi una dolcezza al core,
Che 'ntender non la puo' chi no la prova;
E par che de la sua labbia si mova
Uno spirito soave pien d'amore,
Che va dicendo a l'anima: "Sospira."
   So gentle and virtuous she appears,
My lady, when greeting other people
That every tongue tremblingly grows silent,
And eyes do not dare gaze upon her.
She passes by, hearing herself praised,
Graciously clothed with humility,
And she appears to be a creature who has come
From heaven to earth to show forth a miracle.

She shows herself so pleasing to her beholders,
That she gives through the eyes a sweetness to the heart,
Which no one can understand who does not feel it;
And it appears that from her lip moves
A tender spirit full of love,
Which says again and again to the soul: "Sigh."

Translation by Luciano Rebay

This time I've taken a little time to read it a few times, to think a little about it and to reminisces about those school times and these are the results:
  • This is one of the defining poem of Dante's obsession with Beatrice Portinari (the woman that will intercede and guide him in the Commedia) and with love as an almost pure spiritual/platonic thing (damning lesser men for centuries...)
  • The language is so readable by modern italians and it was written some 720 years ago!
  • I feel giddy and guilty because when studying it at school i wrote a parody of it (or at least of the first lines), playing on the meaning of onesta/virtuous pare/appears ;-)
  • This girl (Dante himself met her only two times, once when they were nine years old and once when they were eighteen) does not even (or can't) be described in her physical appearance, she is too beautiful for words and/or her beauty is not corporeal.
  • In the end Dante married (they were betrothed when he was twelve) another woman: Gemma di Manetto Donati, a woman he never mentioned in his works and that bore him at least two sons and a daughter (that became a nun choosing Beatrice as her name...)
I even just discovered today is World Poetry Day..