Bon anniversaire Joseph Antoine Ferdinand

On October 14, 1801, Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau was born in Brussels, Belgium, and he would become the mathematician and scientist that pioneered the use of fixed images to create the illusion of movement, the primitive forerunner of our cinema. The fabulous featured image of his invention in this posting has been reproduced from a Wikipedia article.

In 1829 he submitted his doctoral thesis where he discussed in a mere 27 pages the data on his experiments of the effects of color on the retina, the intersections of revolving curves, the distortion of revolving images and the reconstruction of distorted images through counter-revolving discs. On December 1832, he made a primitive stroboscopic device that gave the illusion of movement to the observing eye, which he initially named as the fantascope.  It basically consisted of two discs rotating in opposite directions; the front disc had several little windows carved out and the back disc had a series of images. Provided with the right spinning speed, an illusion of moving is recreated in our brains.

In a June 1833 article in the daily Le Figaro, his new stroboscopic device was re-named as the phénakistiscope, which is a compound derivation of the Greek Language; the word phenakisticos means “to deceive” and the word óps means “the eye” or “the face.” His critical invention is certainly to blame for the zillions of hours of enjoyable deception that Humankind has been enjoying in the glimmering light of a cinema or at home.

Coup de chapeau pour toi, génial inventeur et grand innovateur. Bon anniversaire!

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Eppur Cristoforo e arrivato

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Today is a special day for all the Americans (meaning all those persons born in the American continent and not just the USA) and especially for us Italian-Americans. On October 12, 1492, Cristoforo Colombo, a Genovese navigator at the service of the Spanish Crown, landed somewhere in the Abacos Islands of the Bahamas and claimed the land. For generations we have celebrated this day in schools of Uruguay and Argentina under the guise of the mendacious “Discovery of America” or the disgusting “Day of the Race.”

Precisely in Uruguay the genocide of the indigenous population by the European settlers was systematic with the last few members of the Charrúa tribe transported to Paris in the Nineteenth Century where they were paraded in the ultimate humiliation. Uruguayans pride themselves in the moniker of “charrúa” in the football competitions of the national team, a tragi-comic endurance of the name of an extinguished community. We must pause and ponder our collective guilt in their persecution and extermination.

However, the date is still the valid reminder that some hardy Spanish sailors did arrive in these coasts and started a colonization that with its illuminated and dark aspects has marked the inhabitants of this great continent for many past, present and future years. The European conquerors, with cruelty and determination, did bring a modicum of innovation to our countries when the Industrial Revolution changed the production of marketable goods for a more massive consumption and the rising of living standards.

We salute the valiant and gallant Cristoforo Colombo for his feat of exploring the fringes of the known world at the time; moreover we applaud his decision to renounce your Royal commission when he could not impede the pillage and assassination of natives. Moreover the dark complicity of many members of the Catholic Church hierarchy and priesthood must be emphasized by all the honest active Catholics in the continent. Would the economic and sociological development of the Americas have taken a more benign course without the European invasion and sacking of its natural resources?

Eduardo Galeano wrote in Las venas abiertas de America Latina that the present day power dynamics in Latin america has been enabled by the tragic Spanish conquest. He wrote his seminal book five decades ago, when the oligarchies and military dictatorships had all the levers of power in our countries, sidelining the rest to slow death by misery. In the past few decades there has been a slow democratization and empowerment of the middle classes that has pulled millions of Americans out of ignorance and squalor. Will this democratic process continue in favor of the more deprived segments of society?

We don’t have the answer to that question as these societies are still in constant flux .

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Happy birthday dear John

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Today we celebrate the birthday of one of the greatest musicians of our generation, John Lennon, co-founder of the Fab Four with Paul and George (Ringo came later). He had a very trying childhood as first his sailor father abruptly disappeared one day without leaving any traces and then his troubled mother absconded too: raised by a tender aunt, he managed to become an enlightened composer and gifted guitarist.

When he was five years old, his parents decided to separate for good and put him in a terribly hurtful bind when they confronted him with a question. “I’m leaving for New Zealand,” his father said.”Who do you want stay with? Me? Or your mother?” John candidly initially chose his father but when he was about to leave their flat in dreary Manchester, he broke out in tears and raced to embrace his mother. He stayed there. Can you imagine that if it weren’t for that totally fortuitous coup de coeur, we would have been deprived of the magic music of the Fab Four, changing our adolescence forever?

How many times have we cheered, laughed and even cried with his compositions?  He is an indissoluble part of our past and heritage. While we listen again to Imagine, let us raise a glass of wine, or a stout better still, tonight in honor of his unique life and legacy. We always have the impression that he never left us that tragic day in New York City but entered into a parallel realm of inspiration for all his sensitive, peace-loving admirers.

Cheers, mate!

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Don’t leave me alone.