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The pages of this website will introduce you to dr Giuseppe Insana: to his thoughts, to his words and to the products of his actions...
The Author is on a multi-threaded path towards eclecticism: towards cultivating himself and blossoming in all possible directions, endeavours, arts, knowledge fields, skills...
Explore freely and enjoy your journey... into me
You can download my CV in pdf format.
My email address is... (simply apply minimal coding knowledge or rebus-solving & variable manipulation skill to obtain it):
$surname = 'insana'; $my_email = $surname . '@' . $surname . '.net'
if your allegiance lies with perl...
surname = 'insana' my_email = surname + '@' + surname + '.net'
if you are more of a python persuasion
From this page you can get my current pgp/gpg key (as an ascii key text block that you can copy&paste into your key manager).
You could also retrieve (to double check there has been no web-spoofing or MITM attack) my key using the WWW Based PGP 5.0 Key Server System or MIT PGP Public Key Server or PGP global directory verified key service (searching for strings "Giuseppe Insana" or "0xCD84801E"): e.g. pgp.net search, pgp.mit.edu search
Note that in 2017, after 19 years of faithful use, I adopted a new key. If you have my old key, you can check this key transition statement to facilitate your trust of my new key. That statement is signed by both the old and the new key.
My current key and subkeys ids (get the ascii armoured key text block here):
uid Dr Giuseppe Insana (http://insana.net) pub 4096R/A555ADDDCD84801E 2016-04-11 sub 4096R/A4F3BB5FCCCC83BC 2017-04-11 sub 4096g/05D4B08DFFE1A55F 2017-04-11 fingerprint = A4C3 E3AC 7716 5C89 EAD3 AAA4 A555 ADDD CD84 801E
This website could be perceived like a book, organized in several different chapters, talking about many arguments and also referring to many other books. And like every book it has a beginning. In this case, the beginning it's actually about books...
I learned to read and write at the age of 4 and, since then, books have been my trusted companions, secret confessors, fountains of knowledge, windows into other worlds, wings to fly with.
I remember one of my earliest disappointments, from the time I was in kindergarden. I was very proud of my brand new self-acquired skill - writing - and invited all the other kids to simply ask and I would write for them whatever word they wanted. I could write just ANY word...
Oh, they were so happy and started queueing to have one "written word" all for themselves... but nearly all the kids, invariably, wanted the same word written by yours truly: CACCA (= POOP)!
I was so sad! What was the point of holding the ability to write JUST ANY word and being requested only one and the same all the time? Can you imagine what those wise and learned scribes in ancient Egypt felt, after a lifetime of mastering their art, when the pharaoh's sons invariably asked them to draw little excrement glyphs (1), again and again?
(1: that hieroglyph is encoded in Unicode as 𓄽 [Gardiner's sign F52], but was possibly drawn by the poor scribe in Arale manga style... as in the poop emoji 💩)
Il vento mi risveglia: impaziente di leggere gira le pagine.
The wind awakens me: he cannot wait to read on and so turns the pages.
Another primeval and eternal love, from the early beginning of my life: the deep blue immensity, the unbounded horizon, the uncharted depth: the SEA.
First it was swimming, one of my first self-taught skills, starting by simply flapping hands and legs on the shoreline, before plunging in.
Soon after came freediving and the "aquatic sofa" (sitting or laying down on the sea floor by expelling all breath to really "sink".. I could sit easily even at a depth of 3,1m).
Snorkelling of course followed suit, and with it the constant exploration, daring everytime a little more into the unknown. Much later I learned windsurf and sailing. In any case, anything connected to the sea strongly resonates with me, and I feel the Sea as a stern but just Father to me, strong and powerful, deep and wise, feared and loved.
The father immense blue, dauntingly welcoming Gliding under the waves, golden rays become his friends
onde al tramonto rimbocca le sirene il mare lenzuolo
sopra lo scoglio osservo immenso mare colpir la roccia
One of my first fascinations was reading about ancient civilizations: their writing system, their mythology (one of my favourite book series was "Gods and heroes of ancient X", with X being Egypt, China, Scandinavia, Greece..), their art and architecture (incredible was discovering about the Maya on a book based on the story and illustrations of Stephens and Catherwood), their history...
I avidly started absorbing countless pieces of knowledge about ancient inventions, number systems, clothing styles, weaponry... and anything which was so mysterious and oh so appealing
Labyrinths: (to be continued)
As a child I learned to play tons of games: card games, social boardgames and strategic jewels like checkers and chess.
Unfortunately, it was only very late in my life that I was introduced to WeiQi, the most beautiful and deep of all strategic games. The most ancient strategy board game and the most elegant! I probably would be able to become a better player had I started playing at a tender age.
Even after I discovered videogames, I never lost the love for the physical games and all the features they have which could never be replicated by a videogame: the presence next to you of the other (a single opponent or a group of friends), the texture of the cardboard or of the wooden board, the feeling of the dice (or counters or pieces) in the hand, the sound pieces make when placed on a board, the smell of wood, holding your breath during a dice roll, feeling your heart pounding as the opponent's hand initiates the move she has planned, the move you feared she would do...
A special category of games I played for many many years is that of Role Playing Games, games in which players assume and act a role in a coherent and evolving narrative that they help shaping.
In fact I even designed some RPG and created them as both table top rulesets and coded them as playable MUSH: online multiplayer Role Playing Games, from which modern MMORPGs ultimately descend.
In later years I have also designed strategic boardgames and videogames, many of which got developed and published.
A part for some limited time during childhood playing "ancient" (80s) coin-ops ("Vanguard", "Ghosts'n'Goblins", "Golden Axe" "Double Dragon", "Dragon's Lair", "Star Wars") in some arcades, most of my videogame time has been on computers I owned, starting with the legendary and unforgettable C=64 (Commodore CBM 64), progressing to Amiga 500 and subsequently across a long series of PC to finally arrive to recent Android smartphones.
I've never owned nor wanted to own a console as I always felt videogames were only a small part of the fascination I have with computer devices. That's not to say I haven't played my share of console games ("Tekken" in primis), but always through (incredibly good) console emulators.
One of the first memory of managing to play on historical office IBM PC must be the long hours playing Sopwith on a long persistence green phosphor CGA monitor...
My all-time favourite videogames: [TODO]
For games I designed see Retaliation game series.
My first computer has been the glorious Commodore CBM C64. I bought it by myself when I was 9 years old by first raising the necessary capital. After having more or less failed to convince my parents that it would have been a great help for study, family finances, cooking recipes and such.. I did the tour of all the friends and relatives that I knew would usually buy me presents and delivered to each a speech which more or less ran like this: "come xmas please do not buy me any present.. instead please give me a little money which I will use to purchase a computer". My fundraising idea turned out very successful and I hence had the chance to start
playing videogames :D ehm.. using the computer productively.
I never got the chance to prove how useful it could have been for mom's recipes or dad's expenses' accounting, and indeed I played tons of videogames, but most importantly I found out since day one that not only the computer could load and run an apparently infinite variety of software.. but that you could actually program the computer, teaching it anything you wanted it to do and immediately see the results. I wolfed down the Basic programming manual, I got myself specialized magazines teaching about c64 programming and I fell in love with this new amazing world of CODING!
I started coding everything that I could imagine.. and my imagination was already so wide.. I became a hacker and learned how to break software copy protections or personalize the games I liked the most. I passed entire floppies sector by sector with the disk editor multiple times to break encryptions (looking for readable strings after trying multiple combinations of a reversible crypto function).
I even coded viruses, from funny harmless ones to others that would basically crash the 1541 floppy disk drive... I ran as a little pirate overseeing sourcing and distribution of thousands of games to the ever more growing network of c64 users. I coded solutions for tower of hanoi, crypto algorithms, labyrinths designers, shoot'em up games, musical and graphical intros.. and in the end I even created a kind of graphical desktop environment - yes, for C64! - which was showing a kind of desk (replete with drawers to boot) and a hand which was moved by the joystick to access files and programs...
After that there was no more stopping. I moved from C64 to an Amiga, then to a long list of msdos computers (086, 286, 386, 486.. pentium etc etc) since the time of those with the evil green phosphors monitor light persistence, perforated paper printers and huge heavy keyboards.. until I learned to assemble my own PCs out of the chosen components.
A major turning point was the discovery of the unix environment, which coincided with the beginning of my university time.
(to be continued: hp-ux, corewars, genetic algorithms, alife, lex, mush, covariation and molecular modelling, bioinfo human variation and genomic analyses, computational linguistics, inference engines, machine learning, deep learning...) hp-ux sysadmin
My photos can be subdivived in the following categories (clicking will open a slideshow gallery):
I started playing drums and percussions at the age of 12. I've played in philharmonic ensembles, rock bands and latin american percussion groups.
My drumming style can be described as a House-Metal fusion, combining a back-echoing snaredrum with double-pedal bassdrum play, spray-spiced with frequent use of the splash and mini-rolls on the hihat.
Bands in which I've played and performed for several years:
You can listen to me drumming in these two songs, recorded in January 2002 with White Funeral Tea:
While playing drums in Vento dei Sogni, I was sometimes switching places with the singer for a couple of Rage Against the Machine covers. Quite a feeling to sing/scream Bullet in your head on a stage at various gigs!
Derivative of mypoerty writing, playing a lot with alliterative rhythmic verses.
Mainly electronic music (Rave, Acid, House) with a particular focus on (surprise surprise) the rhythms. Furthermore I experimented with programmatic music composition, in pieces created by what I termed "fractal music".
In 2004 I started learning to play the Violin and in 2019 I started learning to play Guitar. I am at a level let's say even less than beginner in both ;)
After the infusions of knowledge and science at an early age (akin to when Achilles was dipped into the Styx) gave me effective immunization against the dangerous, insidious (and often hid-eous and even vic-ious) memetic infection commonly known as religion, I discovered that there were many diverse avenues of critical thought, many different ways to reason about the world, and expecially.. to reason about reasoning!
Many have been the theories and -isms that I have explored, approaching each of them with sharper discernment borne of the previously studied ones. In particular, I often used a method learned in the study of one of those schools of thought, which I still hold very dear: that of the sophists. (to be continued)
One important instrument to hone your mental path finding abilities and to do philosophy is travelling: exploring, meeting people and communicating with them. Observing. Learning and Feeling.
And still keeping in mind that ....
The further you travel, The less you know. This is why the Sage Knows without budging, Identifies without looking, Does without trying. (DDJ47) 其 出 彌 遠, 其 之 彌 少。 是 以 聖 人 不 行 而 知, 不 見 而 名, 不 為 而 成。
Ci alziamo da terra, la sfida e' conclusa; il sole ha scaldato le pedine nere.
We stand up from the floor, the sun has warmed the black stones after a game of Go.
Omnibelir is one who decides to live his life to the fullest, trying to use the little time of his life to achieve EVERYTHING.
He aims towards Virtue, Quality, Areté, Dharma.
A passage from "Zen and the Art of motorcycle maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig:
``What moves the Greek warrior to deeds of heroism,'' Kitto comments, ``is not a sense of duty as we understand it... duty towards others: it is rather duty towards himself. He strives after that which we translate `virtue' but is in Greek areté, `excellence' -- we shall have much to say about areté. It runs through Greek life.''
Kitto had more to say about this areté of the ancient Greeks. ``When we meet areté in Plato,'' he said, ``we translate it `virtue' and consequently miss all the flavour of it. `Virtue,' at least in modern English, is almost entirely a moral word; areté, on the other hand, is used indifferently in all the categories, and simply means excellence.
Thus the hero of the Odyssey is a great fighter, a wily schemer, a ready speaker, a man of stout heart and broad wisdom who knows that he must endure without too much complaining what the gods send; and he can both build and sail a boat, drive a furrow as straight as anyone, beat a young braggart at throwing the discus, challenge the Pheacian youth at boxing, wrestling or running; flay, skin, cut up and cook an ox, and be moved to tears by a song. He is in fact an excellent all-rounder; he has surpassing areté.
Areté implies a respect for the wholeness or oneness of life, and a consequent dislike of specialization. It implies a contempt for efficiency... or rather a much higher idea of efficiency, an efficiency which exists not in one department of life but in life itself.''
The mind sails to Bladerunner, where Roy encounters his Maker:
Tyrell: You were made as well as we could make you.
Roy: But not to last.
Tyrell: The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And you have burned so very very brightly, Roy. Look at you. You're the prodigal son. You're quite a prize!
Everything is important.
The society we live in runs in the opposite direction. From thousands of years people are channeled into specialization. The goal of maximum efficiency in fields increasingly narrow. Scientists who dedicate their lives to study one single equation, one single protein, one single illness. Lawyers, farmers, blacksmiths, pilots, athletes...
The focus, the stress, the importance is in walking the opposite direction. Running against the flux, towards eclecticism, fleeing specialization.
People are nowadays judged/valued by what they produce, by how much they earn.
"Warm bodies, I sense, are not machines that can only make money" (Live)
Success (in our weltanschauung) is not rising the social ladder. Because our rules are not the rules of this society. Success is the desire for areté and the application of that desire. Success is Blossoming. Is becoming aware of our potential, and Living instead of Surviving.
There is no limit to the realization of human potential, other than those limits which we ourselves set, or allow others to set in our name. (Time of Blossoming, Suiteki: Rosenthal: Wisbey)
Omnibelir Philosophy = Greek Areté + Zen Blossoming
Omnibelir is being a 君子 [Jūn zǐ] (Chün tzu) instead of a 小人 [Xiǎo rén] (Hsiao Jen).
It is being a Vir instead of an Homuncio.
It is being an Aristos in a world of little greedy narrowminded prejudice-driven tvzombie supermarketslaves conformist people.
Oscar Wilde in his masterpiece "The picture of Dorian Gray" speaking with the words of Lord Henry Wotton:
All influence is immoral -- immoral from the scientific point of view.
To influence a person is to give him one's own soul.
He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with his natural passions.
His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of some one else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him.
The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly -- that is what each of us is here for.
People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one's self.
The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion -- these are the two things that govern us.
And yet -- I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and completely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream -- I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of mediaevalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal -- to something finer, richer than the Hellenic ideal, it may be.
But the bravest man amongst us is afraid of himself.
Kendo: started learning in 1997, in Verona, then in Cambridge
Fencing: started learning Épée and Sabre in 2016
I started using web browsers since basically the first one, NCSA Mosaic, in 1993, and then Netscape Navigator. At that time we were even using things like Gopher... we were really the piooners of an almost untrodden (and definitely untrolled) cyberspace...
Before the end of 1995 I was already designing, programming and managing my own online environments (both for multiuser gaming and as chatrooms for scientific meetings) and of course had already created my own webpage and those of some projects... but it wasn't until 1997 that I started developing websites on commission, and to be paid for it.
Some of the websites I designed:
I am the proud owner of two masterpieces of espresso art and object design: La Pavoni Professional direct hand lever machine and La Marzocco Linea Classic two groups machine.
Enemy Mine @ Forgotten Empires (open in new page)
Website mirror for Retaliation Game Series (open in new page)
Fascinated by blades and melee weapons since I was a child (maybe that old scimitar hanging near the entrance door played a role shaping this preference?), it was only later in life that I took upon myself the beautiful burden of learning how to craft them.
In particular I wanted to learn the skills of metalwork artisans of the very ancient past, and hence I started a journey into bronze age crafts. A whole new world of knowledge (some easily available and some jealously guarded as trade secrets by the last keepers of these almost lost arts) opened in front of me, alluring and dangerous, apparently deceptively simple and yet so vast, fathomless, daunting.
The concepts and skills required for creating any single artifact are so numerous... and furthermore it is very easy to get sidetracked while climbing the steep learning cliffs. Metallurgy, archeology, two-dimensional style design, three-dimensional functional design, mass optimization, model carving, flask building, furnace design, furnace masonwork and assembly, sourcing all the needed tools, materials and components, safety of the workplace, casting design, mould making, metal casting, annealing and edge hardening, wood curing, hilting, riveting, engraving, burnishing, polishing, sharpening... it actually never ends, as each skill clamors to be learned in depth, experimented and properly understood, not just cursorily used en passant.(Work in progress...)
Like the aviator in the Little Prince story, I never learned to draw when I was a child.
In fact I spent most of my life thinking of my hands as being totally unable to create by themselves things of beauty. Similarly to what happens in that incredible story, I also got stimulated, encouraged and awoken by the insistent requests of small children (in this case my own) who wouldn't take "sorry I cannot draw" for an answer when requested to draw a lion, a dinosaur, a car, an octopus or a waterfall...
So I accepted the new challenge and put my best efforts at trying to eventually learn how to make an almost acceptably looking drawing... to make those fingers cooperate in order to hold a pencil or a brush - not just able to wave a pointer on a computer screen... to try and leave coordinated and interesting looking marks on a sheet of paper.
Luckily for me I could transfer lots of previously learned skills about visual arts (from photography, computer graphics, design...): provided with an already trained eye and mind, I now "simply" (!) had to educate my hand...
Together with my recent endeavours on watercolours, this section will host pictures of my earlier carvings (briar root pipes).
In the spring of 2018, my kids and I assembled our first mini robot, using a smartphone as its "brain" and adding to the recipe a breadboard, wheels and continuous servos for the robot's motion (an audio cable routes PWM commands from the phone to the servos).
This "androbot" can be controlled from a desktop or, even more conveniently, from another smartphone, using a simple webpage which shows the robot's camera stream and contains buttons for issuing commands.
Following are some pictures of the initial prototype circuitry, the miniaturized version, and two successive versions of the robot (the first one proved to be unstable).
The second version employs a little trick (a small periscope) to allow the robot to transmit images to the remote controller even though the phone is horizontal to the ground.