Monday, November 21, 2005

Before I retire...

Some interesting things on ANSA...
This article says a lot about Italy:
(ANSA) - Rome, November 20 - Using contacts remains the main way to find a job in Italy, according to a survey released on Sunday .
The poll of 100,000 private firms by the Union of Italian Chambers of Commerce (Unioncamere) found that almost 43% were in the habit of hiring people they knew while 39.4% admitted to hiring on the basis of 'recommendations' from friends and relatives .
Only 7% of companies said they used job agencies and only 17% said they recruited by advertising job vacancies .
Another recent survey found that most young people in Italy think that pulling strings or using contacts is a necessary evil, particularly when it comes to finding a job .
The study, carried out by the Eures research agency, said the age-old practice of 'raccomandazioni' (recommendations) was not only still alive and kicking but was getting stronger in the south, where unemployment levels are particularly high .

Shock-absorbers for David:
(ANSA - Florence, November 21 - Michelangelo's statue of David could in the future be placed on a shock-absorbing trolley to prevent it crashing down in the event of an earthquake .
The system, a complex collection of wheels, runners and shock absorbers, would allow the masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture to move a few centimetres in any direction without coming under strain .
Authorities have long been concerned about the stability of the statue, whose ankles are allegedly too thin to support its 5,572 kilograms safely. There are visible cracks in the left ankle and in the carved tree stump which bears part of the statue's weight .

And the whole of this article on the abortion controversy in Italy deserves careful reading.
In the Correra della Sera English page, there's news of a plan to cope with Venice's flooding problems:
VENICE – The idea is simple: to bloat the subsurface of Venice and lift the city, defending it from high water. How? By injecting seawater 700 metres underground. The effect would be to raise the city by 30 centimetres over ten years. It is not an alternative to the Moses barrier system currently under construction, since 30 extra centimetres is not enough for the worst high water events. The proposal is complementary and would protect the city from moderately high tides, ensuring increased protection against predicted rises in sea level in the future.
Professor Gambolati has been studying the subsurface of the upper Adriatic since 1972. “Seven hundred metres underground, there are sand formations that are 100% water-saturated. They will expand if more water is injected, creating an increase in volume and raising the surface level”. The choice of depth depends on the fact that the 150 metre-thick sand formation, which is not perfectly horizontal and lies at a depth of 550-600 to 750 metres, lies under a 20-25 metre-thick layer of impermeable clay. This means the water cannot escape. The layer contains salt, not fresh, water so there is no risk of pollution.
“The project would cost 100 million euros at most”, Professor Gambolati assures, “I can categorically rule out any damage to buildings from this procedure. The historic centre of Venice has sunk 13 centimetres since the early 20th century, in an anything but uniform manner, but absolutely nothing has happened”. Now a pilot project costing 15 million euros has been presented to verify the hypothesis on a one square kilometre model by observing how the surface level rises over three years.
Michele Jamiolkowski, professor of geotechnical engineering at the Polytechnic of Turin, disagrees. An expert on the Venetian lagoon, Professor Jamiolkowski has also chaired the committee that stabilised the Leaning Tower of Pisa and drafted an expert opinion on water injection for the Venice-based CORILA consortium. “This idea is science fiction. I set no limits to research but it is too difficult, time-consuming and expensive to find out what the subsurface of Venice is like that far underground. And it’s highly unlikely that the sequence of soil strata will permit an operation of this kind. There is a further danger that lifting, the mechanics of which is completely different from subsidence, will not be uniform, causing permanent damage to the whole of the built environment”.

Also from the Corriere, this wonderful picture of St Peter's. The view is from the Pincian Hill, and the unusual sunset is due to the frosty air conditions.
Speaking of the weather...
I put on my overcoat today for the first time since last winter and was pleased to find stuff I had left in the pockets - a €2.00 coin (used to tip the waiter at lunch), a black pen (where do my red pens keep vanishing to?) and a little booklet issued by the Vatican Bookshop with the Latin and vernacular names of all the dioceses in the world. Why do I keep buying things like that?
(PS One of the best Latin place names in the world - Petricula, better known as Little Rock.)

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