Thank you God Almighty!

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon and Happy Sunday. Today we are going to be very frugal with our words as we want to parsimoniously savor these moments of exhilaration after successfully publishing our new book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague and watch it to become a sure, steady success. Here it is how a copy of it looks like in our everyday working station, where we have spent countless hours.

Even with all the dedicated work and inspiration of the Whole World, we would not have been able to achieve our laborious mission without the support of our living family members and the benign protection of all the departed ones, manifested in the spiritual counsel of a much Higher Authority.

In our stoically trekking years along the sand dunes of society’s indifference, we could count on You.

Thank you God Almighty for never letting go of our humble hand to guide us to the desired goal.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Alchemists’ legacy: European Porcelain technology

Goldmachertinktur. This German term means “tincture that makes gold”, which is the emblematic mission of the European Alchemists during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance; these entrepreneurial chemists, botanists and ,yes, physicians too, were eagerly trying to convert some basic metals like copper into the much sought-after gold. Contrary to the widely held belief now that they were societal outcasts hiding in dark cellars to ply their shameful trade away from prying eyes, they were the protégés of the nobility and clergy, united in their so sickening coveting of riches.

Note. This image was taken from Wikimedia Commons. It shows two of the oldest allegorical  symbols used by the Alchemists:

a) Raven or Black Crow: symbol of the departure from our physical world and our arrival, with an intermediary stage in Darkness, into our own world of Self-Enlightenment.

b) Ouroboros, the serpent that is eating its tail, is a symbol of the concept of Eternity and the Endless Return.

From Aurora Consurgens manuscript, Zurich exemplar – DOI=10.5076/e-codices-zbz-Ms-Rh-0172 – URL=http://www.e-codices.unifr.ch/fr/list/one/zbz/Ms-Rh-0172

The most important legacy of the Alchemists to our modern age has been the design of various experimental methods that could be reproduced by other parties, even if they turned out to be resoundingly failed attempts for the most part. They took distance from the citizenry’s magical thinking and the superstitious framework, prodded by the states’ authority and theological dogma, in order to plow the scientific pathways. In a series of articles, we will recount what we believe are the major contributions of Alchemists to our modern society; we invite our readers to suggest themes.

Porcelain is a ceramic that is made by heating special materials, including kaolin, at extremely high temperatures—1,200-1400 degrees Celsius’ invented by the Chinese approx. 2,000 years ago, it slowly evolved in Asia until reaching perfection. It became the chosen ornament for the European nobles’ tableware, eager to show off; many factories in the Old Continent tried to replicate the process but they failed.

Note. This image was taken form Wikimedia Commons.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saxonia_Museum_f%C3%BCr_saechsische_Vaterlandskunde_I_33.jpg

Johann Friedrich Bottger was born on February 4th , 1682 in Schleiz, Germany, and passed away in Dresden on March 13th , 1719 in the same country; he was the son of the town’s mint master (a very powerful public servant) and the daughter of a Magdeburg counsellor. When she became a widow, she re-married with the town’s major engineer, which explains his sophisticated education, a rarity in those times. When he was only 18 years old, he became an apprentice of Herr Zorn, a famous alchemist in Berlin, and he locked himself in a cave to experiment his many recipes.

A spy for King Frederick I of Prussia—a voracious hoarder of precious metals to fund the mercenary armies he used in his campaigns of annexation—whispered in his ear that there was “a young lad claiming that he had the philosopher’s stone”, he quickly ordered his detention; they did grab him, but Bottger managed to escape. However, they did not return him to Frederick I, but transferred to Dresden where he was imprisoned by the equally ruthless Augustus II, King of Saxony and Poland. Kept in “protective custody” in a dark dungeon, Bottger toiled tirelessly for years. After many failures, King Augustus II ordered him to join forces with a colleague.

Note. This image was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

By Martin Bernigeroth – Stich von M. Bernigeroth, Kupferstichkabinett Dresden, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=958111

Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus was born on April 10th, 1651, in Kieslingswalde, Germany and passed away on October 11th , 1708; he was a prolific mathematician, physicist, physician and philosopher. He is credited with inventing the Tschirnhaus transformation, a key mathematical equation still in use today. During his formation years, he travelled extensively in all of Europe, meeting John Collins, Espinoza, and Colbert amongst many others; he visited the Saint-Cloud soft paste porcelain factory in 1701, becoming a member of the Académie Royale des Sciences. In his 1678 philosophical treatise Medicina Mentis, he actively promoted the potentiating match of mathematics and physics.

In their paper, Queiroz and Agathopoulos wrote: “By 1682, he studied theoretically the envelope of light beams emitted from a point source after reflection on a parabolic surface…as a preliminary step towards the development of large burning lens and mirrors…The use of such equipment allowed him to reach temperatures within 1,500-2,000 degrees Celsius, higher than he could achieve in contemporary combustion furnaces…The method was welcome in laboratory research because the sample could be easily observed and many trials could run in a short time.” Believing that porcelain was in fact “a glass” he mixed clay and fusible materials (flux) Finally he could create “some kind of porcelain”, which he presented to Augustus II. The King decided to build a factory in Meissen and ordered Bottger to join the team. Afraid that he would end up dead like many other adventurous entrepreneurs like him, Bottger finally relented to the King’s wish and teamed up with Tschirnhaus.

The big breakthrough in the production of porcelain came in 1708 when two critical shipments of minerals arrived at the factory:

  1. Kaolin—a fine, pure white clay that had been discovered earlier by Ohain and Bartholomai, a physician that liked to dabble in Botanics.
  2. White Alabaster—mixed with two clays and silica, it was particularly useful.

After more experimentation, two more components were assigned to the mixture:

  1. China Stone—a volcanic residue.
  2. Quartz—at 20% concentration.

When the four ingredients were mixed together at high temperature, porcelain arose.

Tschirnhaus passed away 1708 and his disciple Bottger took over the operations, until he could present a “piece of porcelain” to Augustus II in 1709. Even though, Bottger was suspiciously credited with its  discovery, the same Bottger found a piece of perfect porcelain in Tschirnhaus’ house, after it had been vandalized. Fearing for the safety of the team that invented porcelain, the King decided to build a factory in Meissen with security measures. But eventually someone stole the recipe and fled.

A mathematician/philosopher and a wunderkind/alchemist discovered the porcelain.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Apple Edition of our book just went Live

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. The Apple Edition of our book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague just went live; you can purchase it the Apple Books store at a measly price of U$ 9.99 (what a bargain )

We hope you enjoy reading it and, of course, we are receptive to any critique and suggestions. If nonetheless you happen to like, please write a nice review.

Thank you very much. Arrivederci.

 

Are booster shots for COVID 19 vaccines necessary right now?

Rationing of Health Care Resources is that miserable member of the Public Health family that is always pushed to the kiddies’ table in the bacchanal feast of American Health Care delivery , never to be mentioned in the polite conversation of its policymakers, physicians, wonks, etc. Le Sans Nom. Unlike the United Kingdom, where the criteria for use of scarce resources like kidney dialysis are way up front and totally assumed, in the USA we tend to tiptoe around this issue in a hypocritical, yet popular dance. We discussed this issue at length in our Columbia University Doctoral thesis.

Note. This reproduction of John Raphael Smith‘s picture of Edward Jenner, the English inventor of the modern vaccination techniques, was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edward_Jenner.jpg

On September 20, 2021, Ariana Eunjung Chua and Meryl Kornfeld wrote in the Washington Post that: “Kristen Solana Walkinshaw, a physician on the coronavirus triage committee at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, found her team making one of the most agonizing decisions of their careers…Four patients needed continuous kidney dialysis, her colleague explained, but only two could be made available. How should I choose?”

The recent surge of the Delta variant affecting the scandalously high number of unvaccinated people that need immediate hospitalizations in the USA, has made the issue of the booster shots for the mRNA vaccines for Covid 19 much more relevant. Boosting might be eventually necessary in the general population that has already gotten the two-dosages of the mRNA mediated -vaccines due to the waning immune responses and the potential inefficacy of vaccines against newly surging variants.

On September 17, 2021, a scientific panel of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that the booster shots for the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine (Moderna has not yet submitted all the needed documentation) should be given to persons older than 65 years old, the immunocompromised and those with direct exposure to sever cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection only. The rest has to keep waiting. After Dr, Fauci publicly announced that there might be a need for a third booster shot , imprudently kowtowing to the undiplomatic move by the Biden administration to start offering them after September 20, this issue turned vitriolically political. How can Father-Knows-Best-Joe, who claimed in is campaign rallies that he would always follow science once he was in government, dared to put his chariot of convenience in front of the Faulkerian horse of tasking? Did you start lying, Papa Joe?

On September 13, 2021, an article in the Financial Times reported that: “two top scientists who recently announced their retirement form the US drug watchdog  have criticised the policy of giving most people Covid 19-booster vaccinations, just days before the Biden administration plans to start doing so. Philip Krause and Marion Gruber, who resigned from the Drug and Food Administration two weeks ago, are among the authors of a scathing critique of widespread booster shots…”

Those two scientists joined a large group of colleagues that, in an Overview article of The Lancet on September 13, 2021, to make the point that the available scientific data so far does not justify the use of booster shots, except in special circumstances. They propose to use the available resources to boost the public vaccination drive for millions of people in the USA and elsewhere that have yet not had their first shot. They show their open disgust at the maladroit move of politicians to soil their turf.

In a personal level, let us confess that after being fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine since February, we will take advantage of that opportunity due to our age. Our immunity might still be good and not a cause of concern….We follow Social Distancing guidelines…Mmm… However….

En tout cas.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Always a good time for pasta and meatballs

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Yesterday we prepared a classic Italian dish that, in spite of its commonality and wide diffusion, remains one of the most appetizing dishes for the family table: pasta with meatballs. We prepared a tomato sauce with pistacchios, walnuts and plenty of oregano, basil and pepper; in the end, we added some of the leftover Salsa Bechamela from the fabulous Cavalieri Templari dish.

Like True Love, you never tire of enjoying its fulfilling and exciting company in your surroundings.

We served a good portion for you. Would you care us to join us for a little bacchanal plus chatting?

Buon appetito!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

Celebrating the Day of Atonement

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. For all of us, who either profess the Jewish faith or have dear relatives and friends who do, today is the Holiest Day of the year: the Yom Kippur or the Day of  Atonement. Right now millions of Jews have congregated in the synagogues (or wherever they can) since yesterday evening to renew their bond with God Almighty by praying and fasting together all day long.

In the above picture, you can see our son Gian Luca ready to pray in the Western Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall) of Jerusalem, when he visited Israel thanks to the Birthright Israel Program.

G’mar chatima tova!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

Buona domenica con una gnocchiatta ed tono alla Cavalieri Templari

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good evening and Happy Sunday to you all. Today we decided to prepare a saucy pasta with two superb Yellowfin Tuna steaks that we purchased yesterday in our magnificent Whole Foods store.

When we spotted that offer in the Fresh Fish section, we decided to pair it with a Bechamel sauce with plenty of walnuts, pistacchios and dates. Why? Because, in honor of the great variety and sophistication at reasonable prices of that store, we wanted to give it a signature Byzantine flair. 

Looking at that pair of tuna fillets riding together, an image of the Knights Templars burst forth.

Note. This image was taken from Wikimedia Commons. By JoJan – Own work – own photo, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10992800

It is not in the official History books but it t was popular knowledge at the time that when these defenders of the Christian faith roamed in the Holy Land, oftentimes two chevaliers sat together, one behind the other one, so the one in the back could use the bow and arrows, something the Huns invented a few centuries before. Why has it been camouflaged? Surely because the Roman Curia and the Pope frowned on that skill learned from the barbarians that almost conquered Europe.

This is how the tuna steaks turned out to look like , after 10 minutes of grilling in our air fryer.

Now it is time to prepare the Salsa Bechamela with all the added ingredients: nutmeg, pistacchios, walnuts, dates and some parmesan cheese to solidify the flavor with a pinch of saltiness. 

Now we prepare the gnocchi separately and, once they had boiled we gently dump them in La Bestia, together with the Yellowfin Tuna steaks and the Bechamela sauce. Voilà!

Buon appetito!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

 

Our new podcast “Parlez moi d’Amour” is Live

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Our podcast Parlez moi d’Amour is now live at anchor.fm/dr-mario-o-laplume.

This is our first live recording and it is full of mistakes, repetitions (the expression as a matter of fact was excessively used all along) and other snafus that you, our loyal readers and now listeners, will certainly point to us along the way. Sadly, we added the marvelous song Parlez moi d’Amour sung by none other than Juliette Greco to it, but Spotify has failed to approve it in a reasonable time span.

 

This is the picture of our brand new Fifine microphone, set to the right of our laptop.

Enjoy the recording and please let us know if you want any changes or additions to our chats; we are now preparing one about the Incertitude we’re living thorough and we do not have a title for it.

Dear audience, do you have any suggestions about the title and/or the associated music?

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

Thank you, Le Magnifique

“The public is always right, even when it is wrong” Jean Paul Belmondo.

On September 6, 2021, Jean-Paul Belmondo passed away at 88 years old surrounded by his loved ones, in his home in Saint Germain des Prés. in the outskirts of Paris, France. He was a gifted actor that played in almost 80 films and delighted us with his unabashed and swaggering smile; in the past few years he kept a low profile after having  had a Cerebrovascular accident in the year 2001.

The son of a famous sculptor and a theatre actress, initially he practiced a lot of sports, like football and boxing; in a fight he got a big blow to this nose that he never got fixed. His visual trademark.

When he was a young aspiring actor in Drama School, he was curtly told by an instructor that he was too ugly to look at and that, lacking theatre skills, he would never become a serious actor. Doing morning exercises, he was spotted in a park in Saint Germain des Prés by the film director Jean-Luc Godard who offered him a screening test for his upcoming film, His first role in Godard’s  A bout de Souffle, was the official launch of what would later be known as the Nouvelle Vague. In fact Gian Luca, our filmmaker son, plastered our writing space with film posters and to our right, we displayed the one of that great film, source of inspiration of our writings. Here is a screenshot of it.

Belmondo had the spontaneous attitude of a cool guy in front of the camera, which rendered him credible. He had two separate film careers: the art cinema and the commercial venues. He was well known in the 70s and 80s for starring in farcical versions of the super-hero saga, which made us gasp with his amazing acrobatic stunts as he insisted on doing them himself.  A famous scene shows him laboriously walking, with extended legs, without any security measures, on the roof of a racing Paris commuter train at 70 km/hour. It was his body standing there, without any stunt help or editing.  We also laughed with his politically incorrect impertinent jokes ready to shoot at the sleeve (even women did) One of the very best was Le Magnifique, co-starred with the gorgeous Jacqueline Bisset.

Note. This reproduction was taken from Wikimedia Commons. http://www.affichescinema.com, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8589500

We were, and still are, moved by Le Professionnel, a rather mediocre movie that has the rapturous musical score of Ennio Morricone and the participation of a very young and slim Gerard Dépardieu. In fact, at his funeral in Les Invalides, they used the melancholic notes of Chi mai to honour him.

The 20 Heures newscast of France 2 had a special program that day where many of his colleagues and friends remembered him. One of the most affected by his passing was Alain Delon, who had been the “nominal competitor” in the screen but actually a very good friend outside it; they both starred in Borsalino, one of the most tender, fun movies about the Mafia. It was done with allure.

One of his longstanding friends (sorry but we cannot remember his name) narrated how he had accompanied him to a posh Rehabilitation Center to cure the motor and verbal ACV sequelae. Looking at the garden from his suite balcony, they say many disabled patients being aided by nurses to do their exercises, walk around, being wheeled around, etc. Initially Belmondo told him that he should take him back right away to his home because he would die of anguish in there. He calmed him and convinced him to give it a try. He did. And with so much enthusiasm that the actor was an enthusiastic cheerleader that supported and cheered the progress of other patients.

Belmondo slowly recovered his speech capabilities and was able to walk only with the aid of a cane. He received many honors, including an Honorary César statuette for his acting career in 2017. In these times of generalized human despair, we need more than ever his exemplary love of Dear Life.

On September 9, 2021, all the French authorities, including Président Macron, honored Belmondo with a funeral in the Cour des Invalides, the big esplanade for the fallen French soldiers and sailors; in an adjacent buildings lie the mortal remains of Napoléon Bonaparte , another French treasure.

Countless times you made us dream with your performances that flew us off away, far from routine.

Merci beaucoup Monsieur Le Magnifique!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Parrot-like carelessly repeating False Info

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning to you. In this era of digitalized information sources for millions of citizens, a cliché gets transmitted through multiple platforms, without checking the veracity of its content or source. While we are preparing our first podcast ( we had some trial runs with audio of previous blogs) we heard again a false attribution of the following sentence (very catch indeed) to Benito Mussolini.

É meglio vivere un giorno da leone che cent’anni da pecora”

(Better to live a day like a lion than a hundred years like a sheep)

The latest insult to our cultural baggage came from a cavalier Ms. Jessica Bossi ( a rather talented and beautiful lady, may we confess) in the program of Jorge Lanata in Radio Mitre of Buenos Aires.

Dear Jessica, that was not invented by Il Duce, who had a very limited mindset, like all fascists. It was a graffitti painted with bleach on a crumbled countryside wall by an anonymous Italian soldier, after the Battle of the Piave, where our dear ancestors fought and defeated the Austrian Army in 1918. This misattribution was also pronounced by a former American President in many of his rallies.

In our new book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague we discuss these dangerous foibles. Once someone in the global media utters a false message, it might be immediately picked up by other outlets, without ever checking it up, and gets repeated by an never-ending lineup of parrots.

Note. This image was taken from Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Parrot.red.macaw.1.arp.750pix.jpg

In our novel Madame D.C. – Three Voyages, we pay special attention to that battle because one of the important secondary character, an eel-man, helps the Austrian dragoons cross the River.  In fair exchange for being saved from drowning, they must stay camping at the shores of the Piave River and ready to help any person in distress there; only then can they cross into “the other world.”

É vabbuo!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.