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Logging ideas and thoughts

Monday, August 29, 2005

Ma del Trade Mark ve ne fregate?

Via di Ponte Galeria, a circa un chilometro dalla Raffineria di Roma è comparso da circa un mese (forse più?) questo grande manifesto di propaganda politica? Elettorale? Pre-elettorale?

- Mi chiedo: il nome di questo partito ha già avuto l’imprimatur del Vaticano, così come quello ormai defunto che si muoveva solo con la benedizione dei vescovi di tutta Italia?
- In fondo il Vaticano ci teneva tanto ad avere le radici europee in evidenza. Sarà soddisfatto delle sole radici italiane?
- Mi chiedo: e lo scudo crociato, che fine ha fatto? Forse è ritenuto controproducente dato che richiama le vecchie crociate contro l’Islam? Sarà un caso che questo tabellone sia installato proprio in coppa agli oleodotti?
- Mi chiedo e mi richiedo: chi aveva acquisito l’esclusiva del logo? Casini, Follini, De Mita, Mancino, Rosy Bindi, Cirino Pomicino, Mastella, Andreotti, etc.etc.?
- Ma che cavolo significa: “Per le autonomie”?
- E dove intende orientarci con tanta ampollosa sicurezza?
- Telefonando al numero chiaramente indicato non dimenticate di porre le domande a cui non so dare una risposta…e, ancor meno, importanza.

Vi prego. Fatemi sapere…altrimenti non ci dormo.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

The merry Managers from the Capitol Hill

Rome…This town means to many people the ultimate goal of their travelling experiences. Paris is beautiful indeed: the Tour Eiffel, Champs Elysées, the Louvre museum… Vienna fascinates the tourists with its imperial atmosphere, the Danube, the Belvedere museum…Prague! The jewel of Mitteleuropa! Berlin! Copenhagen! Stockolm! Breathtaking cities…
But Rome…oh Rome! A whole life would not be enough to visit all the monuments, the ‘palazzos’, the hidden courts, the more than 500 churches. Every stone in Rome lives the 2000 years history of this unique town.
From Piazza di Spagna and its famous Spanish Steps you walk through via Condotti, watching the most impressive displays of the fashion houses and of the jewelers. At the end of via Condotti, make a left. Via del Corso will take you directly to Piazza Venezia. There, you will be overwhelmed by a compelling question: how is it possible to watch simultaneously so many monuments and so many centuries of history?
To the left, a few hundred yards away, “the Colosseo”; then Forum Romanum; then the Traiano Column. In front of you stands the impressive monument to King Vittorio Emanuele II. To the right: Leon Battista Alberti’s Palazzo Venezia - dating back to 1400 - where Mussolini had installed the steering committee of the fascist government. A little further the Ara Coeli, i.e. the VIth century church with endless steps in front of it.
But just beside it: the Capitol complex. Michelangelo designed the square in front of the Palazzo Senatorio. Let’s disregard the museum at your right and let’s enter the main building.
Yes! Michelangelo was right! The best brains deserved the best treatment, better than any of the kings still reigning on the earth.
The brains happen to seat in the very place where Rome had been founded over 2000 years ago. All facilities, advisors, technical services are granted. The city Managers cannot but create, create, create new and original conditions for the welfare of the Roman population.
We do not believe that creativity is related to a specific political color. Nevertheless, in the particular case of Rome, the administration of the town has been constantly in the hands of center-leftists and, in some periods, even under communist control (Argan, Petroselli, Veltroni [??] ).
But, regardless of the political color, let’s go through the happenings recorded during the last years.

The Football World Championship is held in Italy in 1990.
In the years 1988-1989 plenty of money flows through the peninsula. Rome in particular - being the capital of the country – is flooded with money. Everybody is happy and the works are performed according to schedule. The results?
The brand new railway connecting Corso Francia/Via Flaminia with the Olympic Coliseum is realized in a record time digging a tunnel across Montemario. Surprise!
The trains cannot pass through the tunnel. Why? The carriages are too large compared to the tunnel width or, read it the other way, the tunnel is too narrow for the carriages. The start station of Corso Francia is still there. A few shops have been opened in the area but, obviously, no business is going on. Romans got a static monument to the human stupidity.

Let’s cross Rome. The Ostiense railway station is an important one but in no way comparable with the central Termini station. Anyhow, some of the merry brains of the Capitol decided to move the Air Terminal from Termini station to Ostiense. The construction of an impressive new building was started, modern and functional. A true shopping mall was realized too. Bus and trains, subway etc. were reorganized to serve this new center. But, but…Travelers leaving the airport, or the other way to the airport, were not happy with that. They still preferred to take to Termini by train, by bus, by taxi, by own car. Termini… not Ostiense. It is clear that if ever a feasibility study was made prior to deciding the huge investment, this study was not performed with the brain. It was performed – as we say in Rome – co’li piedi (with the feet). Once more the merry Administrators from the Capitol Hill had shown their skill. The unused Air Terminal has been closed down one or two years after its inauguration.

Back to the North of the town: the first surface metropolitan line from piazza Mancini (a few hundred yards away from the Olympic Coliseum) to Piazzale Flaminio. The head station of the surface metropolitan line should be just in front of the Roma Nord Railway Station and have immediate access to the A line of the subway system. Well! This is a very nice project indeed. It could solve, at least partly, the problems of the transportation to the football stadium.
The very first problems arise. Yes. We are dealing with a surface metropolitan line. This is true; but what about the road crossings in a narrow street as the via Flaminia is? Yes the traffic lights must be kept. No priority can be given to the convoys. The cars shall keep their own rights unchanged.
Surely, this is a shortcoming, but you can still see the advantages: we can disembark just in front of the Railway Station and beside the Underground entrance. Is this not a big advantage?
Yes. But how it happens that the electric line in front of the station has been installed at an elevation where it interferes with the top of the carriages? We solve it. Go and modify it! It costs some more money, but you can see it: now it is finished. The commissioning phase shall start as soon as possible!
What? Don’t you care to get the approval of the fire brigade? Let’s have a look. No! No! No! You cannot locate the end station just in front of the only entrance to the railway station. It blocks completely the access! Imagine a fire breaks out or an accident occurs in the hall of the station. The holding convoys would block the trucks of the fire brigade out! Move the end station of this damned Surface Metropolitan Line at least hundred meters away!
Somebody could ask why, only ten years later, the “best brains” of Capitol Hill have authorized the installation of a kind of “third world market” just in the very place where the end station of the surface metropolitan line should have been! Doesn’t the fire brigade any longer need access to the Roma Nord Railway station in case any accident occurs? By the way, the pavement in front of the station has been remade several times. First time in order to remove the unused tracks. Than, to improve quality and appearance to honor in the due way the arrival of the ‘vu’ cumprà?’
The sad surface metropolitan line is since operated as a plain streetcar.
I forgot! A difference exists when compared with a streetcar: the investment cost has been at least three times higher!

The railway Roma Nord (to Primaporta; Civitacastellana; Viterbo). Yes. For the World Championship it must be modified to constitute a true branch of the Roman Metropolitan Transportation System. At least just to Prima Porta, the train stations shall be brand new, modern and functional.
What about the old ones? Small, dirty, ugly buildings from the thirties; nobody suggests to carry out a maquillage and an expansion of the existing buildings. No. They shall remain as they are, old and dirty, to witness how terrible and poor was the architecture under the fascist regime. Obviously, being the buildings occupied by clandestine immigration, they look now even more dirty and ugly.
But now, let’s see what was the result of the investments for the new stations! Steel, corrugated plates, fiberglass, plastics or similar material were used. Cheap solutions constituting the evidence of robberies and of bakschisch paid to the right persons. Everything is now in pieces. No maintenance at all. The dust of the “red rocks” in the area, accumulated through the years on all the surfaces, was never washed away. Graffiti of a quality equivalent to shit sprays cover all the surfaces. A real shame!

The railway Roma Nord -Yes for the Holy Year 2000 brand new train stations must be built, equipped with elevators, escalators etc. Wonderful. But what about the existing stations? They are still there. The 10 years old are spoiled as described above. The transparent look of the walkways sheds is just a sad memory. The buildings from the thirties have known several waves of immigrants. The new stations are in operation, but the lack of maintenance and the patterns left by the vandals becomes more and more evident.

The railway Roma Nord – Montebello. What a charming name for a train station! It’s a pity that this station, once in operation, will identify also the entrance to the largest cemetery in Rome. Obviously, I have nothing against dead people. But, imagine the people disembarking in the late afternoon, alive but tired from a whole working day, to pick up their car parked in the Montebello Commuter Parking Lot. They would surely appreciate a more lively welcome!
Summarizing: by the Holy Year 2000 the commuter parking lot and the Montebello station should be ready.
Well! The station was ready by the end of year 2002! Of the commuter parking lot no trace exists as of today (2005). Obviously, in the mean time, no maintenance of the station building was carried out. Graffiti, and probably clandestine immigration, have taken care of the appearance.
Why? Somebody says that the farmer who sold the ground for the station never got paid for it. Obviously, when requested to sell the ground necessary to the commuter parking lot, his position was: “No money? You are not going to see any camel!”

The subway and the Holy Year – Starting with the Termini railway station, where a very nice expansion and refurbishing work has been completed in due time, many other stations have been selected for a maquillage and an improvement of the facilities. Mosaics of different artists have been installed on the walls of many subway stations. Automatic ticket dispensers have been installed in all the stations where still missing. Automatic displays, giving information on train arrival or delays, have been installed too.
In particular, the subway station of Piazzale Flaminio – i.e. the one beside the Roma Nord Railway Station – deserved particular attention since underground water increasingly sieved through the walls and created a kind of small waterfall directly on the track of the southbound convoys. The “brains” did not forget this important item. Works have been going on for a while. Finally one day I boarded a train in the Flaminia station. No falling water noise. Oh, how wonderful! The problem was solved. Later on I saw that a notice to the voyagers explained that the Firm XXXX had studied and eliminated the noxious phenomenon. It was a pity to ascertain that a few months later the water had began flowing again some twenty meters ahead!

Reverting to the Termini Station – Just in front of the station, a strange monument, some thirty meters high, similar to a missile, pure stainless steel, made its appearance. None of us understood the meaning of the sculpture. Probably the Mayor had wanted to repeat the exploit of his grandfather who at the end of 1800 or early 1900 (I don’t remember) had created an impressive Naiads fountain a few yards away (Repubblica square) from the missilelike sculpture!
Let me say that I prefer the Naiads fountain.

Rest rooms and elevators – The Holy Year 2000 should be recalled as the year of love. Love towards all, but specially love for those who bear a physical handicap making the use of wheelchair compulsory for them.
The “best brains” obviously thought of them and planned the installation of facilities accessible even by the handicap bearers. In the most strategic areas of the town several rest rooms have been installed underground with access by elevator. What a pity! The supervising authority because of lack of safety has approved not a single installation.

Are you kidding? The virtuous car drivers, i.e. those driving with at least two passengers on board, got a reward! Similarly to what already done in the States, the “brains” introduced – luckily only at an experimental stage - the fast lane on the Cristoforo Colombo avenue. Probably, the “best brains” were too busy with the many inventions of this splendid era. They clearly marked with yellow paint the outer lane, i.e. the slow one. This was not only the slow one but also the one meant to yield for all the cars from the central/faster lanes moving to make a right!
Our motto is “being smart”: the more virtuous you are the slower you have to drive.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Sunday, August 14, 2005

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