“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding ” Leonardo Da Vinci ( 1452-1519)
The O.E.C.D. has published some amazing figures on literacy, semi literacy and numeracy for Italy and then for the sub regions including our own Puglia. Some 1,000 Italians were given tests lasting 50 minutes to discover their level of understanding of a simple piece of prose and some very basic maths. They then added in a test on computer knowledge. What they wanted to get to was an understanding of the capabilities of the population to be able to live in todays contemporary society and achieve ( get a good job) in it. Given to be a member of the O.E.C.D. a country has to be considered well developed, industrial and commanding an educated and prosperous population one would expect them to do well.
Well 36 million Italians based on the findings are considered unable to face the challenges presented by todays world. Italy has the highest level of illiteracy, the highest level of semi illiteracy and the highest level of computer illiteracy in the whole of the O.E.C.D list of countries. And apart from Spain who are close to them they are bottom by a country mile especially when it comes to computer literacy.
But what of Puglia ? Not good is the answer. Just under 9% of the population is considered illiterate and 38% are classed as semi illiterate and lacking basic numerical skills. One begins to see why our politicians are so keen to keep the polluting steel, coal and oil refining works going down here. This is all simple metal bashing and grunt work. Without it the workers would be unemployable in todays world. In a separate report Italy has been critiqued for spending over 18% of GDP on pensions ( the highest of any O.E.D.C. country) and next nothing on retraining the workforce to be ready for the 21st century.
Computers? Pugliese freeze in front of them and 58% of them have no idea how to even turn one on. Ah you say, as I did, but that’s ‘cos they are all old fogies isn’t it. Hmm. 25% of 15-24 year olds have no idea how to work one, almost 50% of 25-54 year olds would not be able to do anything on one. So no it isn’t. What it shows is the complete lack of compulsory computer education in the public school system here in Puglia.
Accessing Facebook is not a computer skill contrary to what many an Italian mother will tell you “oh yes my little cherub knows all about computers she is on Facebook all the time”.
And the report ? Well filed I guess at the Regional level in the pending box.
It’s a heady 18C at mid-day today with rain and wind. so my thoughts went immediately to an English seaside holiday as the weather is so reminiscent of one. What was the high spot well often it was having an ice cream cone or a Walls 99 despite the weather.
Now at least the Italians can claim success on that front even if most of them could no longer write the prices up nor enter the number sold onto a spreadsheet .
No one knows the full true history of the ice cream. The Persians were eating ice flavoured with fruit in 400 B.C. and Emperor Nero had a group of slaves that everytime he espied snow on the mountains around Rome were dispatched to run as fast as they could to grab as much ice as they could and run back. Now that’s a takeaway service.
But ice cream features milk and the first known use of milk was in China in the Tang dynasty . The dastardly clever Chinese discovered that by adding salt to ice you could lower the mixtures’ freezing point. Emperor Tang employed 94 ice cream making chefs to keep him supplied in the stuff. Wonder what he died of ?
Marco Polo probably bought it back from his travels and by 1664 milk flavoured ices were being sold on the streets of Naples and by 1671 it had got to Windsor Castle, where it showed up on the menu at a banquet for the Feast of St. George. Still, only the guests at King Charles II’s actual table got to enjoy “one plate of white strawberries and one plate of iced cream”; the rest of the rabble were left to marvel at it from afar.
The USA picked up the baton and the first ice cream shop opened in Manhattan in 1777. Improvements in refrigeration meant more and more could be developed but the break through we kids were all waiting for was again because of an Italian. Ice cream was still served in bowls and if you bought it from a street vendor he gave it to you in a small glass holder that you licked and gave back. A penny lick it was called and all very hygienic.
Then in 1896 an Italian immigrant one Italo Marciony ran out of glass plates and substituted a waffle cup he had made at home and was edible. The cone was born.
The rest as they say was history.