"Come va?" When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Ignore them! "Only In Italy!"
Hmmm...Folks, we found out today it isn't quite difficult to obtain permission for burial in a Church basilica. We're going to try out for Saint Peter's. How about you?
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Rome - October 1, 2010 - An Italian trio are among the winners of this year's spoof Nobel prizes for improbable research for their study suggesting companies would be best promoting employees randomly rather than on merit.
Catania University's Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda and Cesare Garofalo took the IgNobel prize for management, one of ten awards handed out by real Nobel laureates at Harvard University on Thursday.
The awards' stated aim is to honor "achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think" and in the process "spur people's interest in science, medicine, and technology".
The Catania team did this with a work focusing on the implications of the so-called Peter Principle, developed in the 1960s by Canadian psychologist Laurence J. Peter. According to this, in hierarchical organizations people rise up until they are out of their depth and reach their level of "maximum incompetence".
Pluchino, Rapisarda and Garofalo used a game theory-like approach to look at alternative promotion strategies, and concluded that the best way to avoid the Peter Principle was to promote at random.
"It might appear paradoxical, but random promotions seem to give good results and increase the organization's efficiency," they said.
Although receiving a spoof Nobel might seem a backhanded compliment to some, the Italian team were delighted to get one.
"It may get a cheap laugh at first, but the IgNobel is quite a prestigious prize and lots of people take interest in it," the trio said at the ceremony attended by 2004 Nobel physics winner Frank Wilczek, among others.
"Let's hope it gives further visibility to our research so that it can reach a broader public outside the field of science".
Italy has a proud record at the spoof awards and Pluchino, Rapisarda and Garofalo are now the country's fourth IgNobel winners. Two years ago Massimiliano Zampini, an experimental psychologist from northern Italy, showed in a study that potato chips that sound crunchier, taste better too, winning a nutrition gong.
In 2000 a Pisa University team found that love was like obsessive-compulsive disorder and in 2003 a Rome group won for a work entitled Politicians' Uniquely Simple Personalities.
The Vatican also picked up a prize, for economics in 2005, for a study of "outsourcing prayer in India".
"Congratulazioni", you have a job in Italy, you pretend to enjoy it, and you want to get ahead in it. That means a promotion. Well, "buona fortuna". Being under the idea that you can receive a promotion based on merit is the same as going to the movies and staying in the lobby.
"Cavolo, I'll show them! I'll do my job as best I can."
Bravo! This should not need to be said, but all too often Italians ignore it. Try to live up to your current responsibilities without being under constant supervision and cornered like a Sicilian rat in a trap. A promotion will be out of the question but you could avoid being berated.
Italian boss: "Per favore, Vincenzo, itís not tough to drive a train. An eggplant can run those trains and it doesn't even have to be parmigiana!"
When it comes to finding a job and/or building a career in Italy, it's all about "clientelismo": It's a curse word in Italian politics which simply means the culture of looking after your friends and relatives, and therefore keeping outsiders and unknowns out of the loop. You will NEVER find a job without the contacts; you need to know the right local politician, or have the backing of a "famiglia importante".
Rome - October 1, 2010 - Premier Silvio Berlusconi's penchant for telling jokes stirred up a hornet's nest on Friday, with the opposition and Jewish groups blasting him for anti-Semitism and defaming religion and women.
The premier was caught making quips and telling jokes in a video filmed outside his Roman residence on September 29 and posted on the website of left-leaning daily La Repubblica.
The premier is also heard telling them that he "collects a story and a girl a day" and urging them to queue up so that when he next presents an electoral list "half of them will be women and all of them young".
"I'm more than enough to represent old people in the party, everyone else should be young".
In another video, filmed ahead of the Group of Eight (G8) summit which Italy hosted in the quake-hit city of L'Aquila, the premier tells a joke which targets Democratic Party Chairperson Rosy Bindi, the butt of his remarks several times in the past. The 'story' takes aim at Bindi's looks and ends with a half-spoken blasphemous word.
Berlusconi and the matronly Bindi first crossed swords in the looks department on a top TV talk show last December when, reacting to one of her arguments, he said: "I recognize you are increasingly more beautiful than you are intelligent."
Bindi replied: "I am not one of the women at your disposal, Prime Minister".
Berlusconi was embroiled in a series of sex scandals a year ago amid allegations he had also cast young, attractive women as candidates for office. He recently said his playboy days were over and described himself as a "play old".
The jokes stirred up opposition charges of chauvinism, blasphemy and calls for his resignation.
PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani said he was "amazed that a person capable of such vulgarities should be running a country like ours". Bindi stressed that "this time, before apologizing to me he should apologize to Catholics and the Church".
According to the House Whip for the opposition Italy of Values (IdV) party, Massimo Donadi, Berlusconi, who turned 74 on Wednesday, is "clearly affected by senile misogyny".
Amos Luzzatto, President of the Jewish Community in Venice and former head of the Jewish Community in Italy, blasted the joke as "the worst sort of anti-Semite stereotype".
Berlusconi rebuffed critics saying he had only repeated a joke circulating among parliamentarians over a year ago, offering apologies but saying that too much had been made of the incident.
Silvio's Joke (speaking to a group of ignorant "minchioni" who were listening while picking fleas off each other):
"A Jew tells a relative: at the time of the extermination camps, a fellow countryman asks our family to hide him and we do. We put him in the basement, take care of him and ask him to pay us on a daily basis."
The other fellow asks: "How much was it?"
"No, per day."
"We'll we're Jews...and he paid up because he had the money. So give me some peace."
"But here's a question for you: Do you think we should tell him that Hitler has died and the war is over?"
Berlusconi wraps up the joke by asking the "minchioni": "Cute, huh?"
This unamusing joke minute was brought to you by a man whose hair looks like it should have a tail on it.
"Si", we know. There is not a funny bone in any of his family and there hasn't been one since Julius Caesar.
Rome - October 1, 2010 - Italian researchers have completed the biggest-ever map of proteins in beer, paving the way for improvements in quality and taste.
A team from Milan's Politecnico University led by Pier Giorgio Righetti analyzed a lager.
"We wanted to explore the combination of proteins that survive fermentation," Righetti told a news agency.
The study, set for publication in the Journal of Proteome research, should help brewers make better beer because proteins are "key to quality and also play a major role in the formation of the head".
The team, also including the Politecnico's Elisa Fasoli and Milan University's Giancarlo Aldini, identified 20 barley proteins, 40 yeast proteins from the first brewing, two yeasts from the second brew and two proteins from maize.
"We didn't expect to find so many proteins," said Righetti, noting that "it is extremely difficult to pinpoint proteins if they are very diluted in fluids".
Hmmm...Is there any valid reason for the art of beer brewing to become a science? Not really. Believe it or not, many Italians drink it exclusively for the protein. Sure, we have to drink a case to equal a protein drink, but thatís the price good health demands. Si or no?
But could a country like Germany, where beer plays a major part in their culture, take seriously the analysis of a lager by a researcher with a name like Pier Giorgio? Si or no?
We've come up with a study for troubleshooting the effects of alcohol which should pave the way for improvements in farming. We're hoping the 'Journal of Southern Italy and Baccala' research will publish our findings soon.
Symptom: Cold and wet feet.
Symptom: Drink unusually tasteless and colorless.
Symptom: Tractor suddenly takes on colorful aspect and textures.
Symptom: Don't recognize farm animals, don't recognize barn you're in.
Symptom: Floor moving.