Who’s Alessandro Grasso?
They say life begins at 40. True for me!
That’s when I fell in love, between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, with the sweetest Italian gal. A woman with raven-black hair that initially, when I met her at the airport, I mistook for an Israeli.
I married her. For her sake I moved from Northern to Southern Italy, which is the exact opposite of what people expect.
I left my beloved town of Genoa and a not-really-beloved job in hardware support to reinvent my life, with a bit of courage, fear and trembling, to become a translator and seaside blogger.
At 4 I learned to read, and that was my last noteworthy achievement, as of today.
At 16 I remember I tested my IQ with a self-administered paper-and-pencil test obtaining a score of 137. To be honest, maybe I stretched the score a little, while drawing the line in the result graph, because the fact of being unable to reach 140 was already bad enough.
I went to the University and I half-heartedly tried to study and graduate in Physics, then I left.
Some of those who know me well say I had to become a philosopher, but I can’t stand the reality tunnels and unhealthy mental conditioning that afflict philosophers.
Some also said I had to become a priest, but the Holy Land gave a different oracle. :)
Independent sources accused me of being a “tuttologo”, i.e. a know-it-all, a pretend expert on any subject. I must reluctantly accept the charge.
The thing is, the more controversial a topic is, the more I feel compelled to dig it.
Particularly if there’s a widespread casual attitude toward a certain truth, where a herd effect prevails and almost no one tries to question it.
To me intellectual honesty is the most important objective: even more important than my faith.
Since we are on the subject, I’m a rebel by nature; hence, as a direct consequence, I’m a reactionary Catholic. Staunch. Also, a chronic sinner: the two aren’t mutually exclusive at all.
A Master in procrastination, among other things.
I “love” science the same way I imagine Megan Fox could be admired by a pimpled nerd who happens to be an ex-classmate and could only ever admire her from a distance.
I love God with the kind of desperate love a son could experience for a father that is trapped in a submerged vehicle after a car accident: your heart is thumping, you don’t know if he’ll emerge alive.
I’m a true optimist and I think Europe is doomed.
Blumudus is my teddy bear. I don’t know exactly since when, I must have been 4 or 5. Let’s say 5.
His occupation, companion bear.
Every night, after I fell asleep, the story goes he got back home (he climbed in the attic) to his (invisible) wife Mudanna.
Devoted to his duty and punctual: each and every day, when I woke up, he had already returned to his post! Loyal and attached to his master.
Also, a brown bear married to a white bear.
The character of Mudanna was a creation of my late mother, a wonderful woman (and also a sort of Catholic bleeding heart) with a mental attitude coherent with her job as a teacher: evidently through this imaginary white teddy bear she caught the opportunity to teach me about interracial marriage, for which I’m grateful.
No one ever saw Mudanna, just like no one ever saw the wife of Police Lieutenant Columbo.
What does Blumudus mean?
If you really want to know… But remember, you asked for it!
In my child mind things unfolded as follows. I already had had two plush toys, a dog and a small white bear, called respectively Blufi (onomatopoeic, describing the sound emitted by a puppy when you squeeze it) and Mudi (this is a pizmotality so I won’t explain it…)
The new teddy bear was meant to be the ultimate companion: I felt it. He had to represent a sort of synthesis of the two predecessors. Hence Blufi+Mudi.
To form Blu+mud+us I added the suffix -us, even if I probably didn’t even know there was such a thing as Latin: it sounded properly solemn.
After many years forgotten in a closet, this old teddy bear popped up during a major house overhaul. And he never left again.
My mother used to give voice to plush animals (but also, and mostly, to house cats) with a falsetto (high-pitched) voice.
It was a sort of entertainment for children, but more than that: an opportunity to let it go, to dare express thoughts you wouldn’t normally say aloud.
To me it was quite natural to choose Blumudus as my official spokesperson/personal website theme.
He’s a well-mannered teddy bear. His role is that of smoothing my otherwise harsh and cutting words, keeping me in contact with my cuddly inner child.
I must confess I feel a little responsible for him, in fact I can testify that while I write these very words he looks really worried.
He’s already quite old for his species, I’m imposing a significant burden on him…
OK, I’m dealing with serious topics here, plus I’m trying to build the image of a reliable professional translator… And I chose a teddy bear to make a first impression on people! Isn’t this theme a little too juvenile?
I think it’s an appropriate choice. We need to lighten up.
Oh, and another thing. I don’t think there will ever be too many cat pictures on the internet.
Blumudus isn’t a person, but he’s a character. He’s the only remnant of my childhood and my family.
Several years after my decision to put him in charge of my website (late 90s) I realized that the word Blumudus, to a native English speaker, sounds almost like blue mood!
Of course, if you are feeling blue, grabbing a teddy bear and holding it tight sounds appropriate!
A curious coincidence.
This is the phonetic transcription for a correct pronunciation (i.e. how Blumudus would be read by an Italian toddler, that would be me circa 1978):
And this is the transcription of the English idiom “blue mood”:
The “u” or “oo” sound in the Italian word is just shorter.
Blumudus isn’t a traditional media outlet or a magazine. It’s an island of freedom: no publisher or editor controls what I write.
Nowadays if you fork out enough cash, with some coordination with other groups sharing your goals, you can manipulate the news media, including “alternative” internet outlets.
Special interest groups are very effective in influencing public opinion and the political choices of elected officials.
It’s quite easy for a billionaire to invest a few millions creating or bankrolling popular magazines, thoughtful austere newspapers, “activist” groups, “fact-checking” websites…
A formidable firepower you can count on: literally thousands of people devoted to their assigned missions and fully funded to outgun any resistance. Large fleets with powerful aircraft carriers and battleships.
What about independent voices that try to stay afloat through the support of their readers, counting only on their ability to produce enticing, well-informed and useful content?
Small, isolated, lightly armed corvettes and patrol ships, some already on the brink of sinking; with no coordination and little visibility.
Often (more or less consciously) following the lead of the media behemoths.
It’s quite difficult to support oneself based on advertising revenue or worse, on readers’ paid subscriptions.
You just can’t compete with publishers and influence groups that can count on those same two possible sources of revenue with way bigger volumes, but they also have a brand recognition advantage, and often could press on and continue publishing even while losing money, because they’re not really selling information, they’re buying a yummy slice of public opinion.
The initial phase of Internet development was characterized by a sort of jolly, optimistic casual anarchy; this fueled a spirit of independence and collaboration, helping novel ideas emerge. Anyone in this open and democratic environment could leave a mark, depending on his/her abilities. Is this window of opportunity gradually closing?
We should cultivate and develop this spirit.
There are many small voices that are not willing to be bought. Real counter-information attempts.
Get the word out.
But more importantly, let’s learn how to distinguish and separate genuine original voices from the fools who jump on the bandwagon of today’s popular culture and pretend to be “alternative” railing against the system but at the same time supporting the same causes that ideologues, powerful tycoons, PC college professors and UN bureaucrats are pushing.
It’s astonishing to see how hard it is to come by a reliable source. Either you are in the mainstream, representing some special interest, or most of the time you end up peddling conspiracy theories, or in the most benign cases, scraping content and chasing keywords to shower passersby with junk ads.
It’s time to grow up.
Hat tip to those bloggers that have the stamina and resolve to write articles every evening, for years, sacrificing their work and family time, with passion, with no gratification other than some positive comments and a visit counter going up.
But this is not the way you bring about lasting, impactful content, notwithstanding the ramblings of enthusiasts who pretend to get free quality content and be spared the horrible sight of advertisements.
Spending some 100$ a year and a couple of hours a day to write down your thoughts, without a realistic expectation to get to improve your knowledge and properly research topics, is an activity that eventually will clash with your adult life, through time constraints and reality checks from your overworked spouse, trying to get by while juggling your daughter’s dentist appointment and your son’s hissy fits.
Eventually that nice niche blog with those oh-so-compelling stories will lay abandoned, its tiny affectionate group of fans will dwindle and fade away, while in the meantime the jolly army at Huffington Post will continue to serve billions of biased and dumbifying article views to an increasingly apathetic and homogenized public.
I know, I know. Sounds like tilting at windmills. Whatever.
If one thinks he’s got what it takes to try and give a meaningful contribution, he’s got to launch his small boat, designed to be nimble but sturdy, and brave the seas.
My goal, admittedly ambitious, would be to become a professional blogger, ideally one day abandoning translations (there are already lots of competent specialists in this field) and focusing on creating unique content.
If you believe that this counter-information project deserves to be supported, I’m asking you to consider rewarding my efforts with the kind of money you used to pay for subscription magazines you don’t buy anymore (because it’d be so 90s!). I’m talking in particular to those of you who already hide the ads.
Honestly I don’t know what to expect (I’m really not holding my breath). This is an experiment; if enough money came through this channel (I highly doubt it), I could tone down ads or even eliminate them; if instead it’s a trickle, close to nothing, I could nix the donation option.
Also you may find it interesting that in 2006 I outlined a creative new way to tackle the issue of supporting/donating to websites. Our startup didn’t even start and the project is still shelved, hoping that someday it could be revisited and given a try.
for any inquiry about this blog;
for translation jobs.
You can also find me here…
Using Twitter is my way of proving (some people I know) that I’m able to express myself in less than 140 characters… :-D