Mad Money’s Jim Cramer on bulls, bears, and Dante

CNBC’s Jim Cramer analogized Twitter’s recent earnings call to navigating Dante’s nine circles of hell. After hearing that, we did a little checking and discovered that Cramer frequently alludes to the great Italian poet of the 13th and 14th centuries. Earlier this fall, as ebola and other global crises brought the stock market to its biggest one-day dip in a long time, Cramer wondered if the long-running bull market had finally arrived at its “Dante moment” when investors would be like the dead souls in Dante’s Divine Comedy who encounter the signpost: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

Cramer also recently said of the stock of supercomputer and technical server maker Silicon Graphics (ticker: SGI): “I don’t need to go to that circle in Dante’s hell. That is one nasty stock.”

The Dante references are not new. Back in 2005, a profile of Cramer and his Mad Money TV show noted that “Mad Money… is not stock-picking for dummies. Mr. Cramer, always keen to analogize and edify, recently name-dropped Shakespeare, Melville, Dante and Wee Willie Keeler on his audience before slamming a buzzer that unleashed a flurry of roaring electronic bulls or bears to indicate a buy or sell.”

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Dan Brown’s Inferno, Bio-Plagues, Quarantine, and Ebola

One of the bits of incidental information we learned from Dan Brown’s 2013 novel, Inferno, is that the English-language word “quarantine” comes from the Italian word quaranta, meaning forty, which is the number of days ships were required to be isolated at sea outside the Venetian harbor before passengers and crew could go ashore during the 17th century Black Death/bubonic plague epidemic that ravaged Europe. Brown’s fictional character, Robert Langdon, remembers this bit of trivia while in Venice contemplating the new plague he believes is about to be unleashed upon the world owing to the biotech genius/bad guy Zobrist’s decision to try to save the planet from itself on his own.

With plagues, epidemics, virology, and quarantines in the news every day currently as a result of heightened awareness of the ebola virus, we were reminded of this bit of Dan Brown trivia. And while most experts believe that 21 days is appropriate for ebola quarantines, there are a few voices in the research community who have begun to suggest that something longer may be needed…if not the fully 40 days of a 17th century quarantine, then four weeks instead of three.

While there is no connection to ebola in Inferno, Brown does suggest many of the themes and issues that are being discussed in response to the ebola crisis today. For more on plagues and pandemics in thrillers, the UK’s Guardian offers a good list of books.

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Googling Dante

A Google Adventure Pome by Dan Burstein*

My Google Alerts are set to
Pick up news about
Dante Alighieri, that is
The Dante who is
Author of the Divine Comedy
Leading poet of the last Millennium
Thirteenth and Fourteenth Century
Philosopher…Humanist…Political scientist
Father of the Italian language
Thinker and presumptive model
Six hundred years later for
Rodin’s famous sculpture
Pre-Renaissance Renaissance Man
Pre-Luther Reformationist
Imaginer of Heaven and Hell
Florentine citizen, Florentine exile
Lover of Beatrice

My Dante is
Artistic inspirer to so many:
Chaucer Blake Liszt Joyce
Beckett Eliot Botticelli Longfellow
Milton Balzac Borges
Matthew Weiner who mapped
Season Six of
Mad Men to Dante’s Inferno and
Dan Brown whose last
Robert Langdon caper tried to do for
Dante what Brown did a decade ago for

Even though important new scholarship on
Dante is published regularly
Most of the hits I get from my
Google alerts are for other
Dantes Continue reading

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Digital Fortress, Dan Brown’s pre-Da Vinci Code novel, to be adapted for TV

Deadline Hollywood reports that Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress is about to become the basis for a new ABC TV series:

DigitalFortressAfter producing the blockbusters The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment is re-teaming with best-selling author Dan Brown to adapt another one of his books, this time for the small screen. Thriller Digital Fortressfrom Imagine TV and 20th Century Fox, where the company is based, has landed at ABC with a put pilot commitment…. Written by Josh Goldin and Rachel Abramowitz (Outlaw Country), Digital Fortress an international thriller set in the world of the NSA during a global threat. It’s described as a sexy cat-and-mouse game between a Snowden-esque character that is threatening to release all of the government’s secrets to the highest bidder and our female cryptographer and her elite team who are tasked to stop him.  Continue reading

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Secrets of Inferno makes the “staff picks” table at The Strand in New York City

imageWe are delighted to report this sighting of our book, Secrets of Inferno, on the “Staff Picks” table at The Strand, one of New York’s most wonderful and enduring independent bookstores.

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The Inferno movie is moving toward production

Dan Brown’s 2013 novel Inferno is moving rapidly from page to screen. Sony Pictures, actor Tom Hanks, and director Ron Howard have apparently all agreed to make their third Dan Brown/Robert Langdon adventure flick, following the box office successes of The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. Filming in Italy, where the first two-thirds of the book’s story is set (Florence and Venice), is scheduled to begin in April. For more info, see the report that recently appeared in Deadline.

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The Remix: Michelangelo, Dante, and Dan Brown

Even though the poet Dante Alighieri lived and wrote at least a century before the time that most scholars would designate as the beginning of the Renaissance, it is easy today to look back at Dante’s Divine Comedy and see the origins of Renaissance thinking. But how cognizant were the actual Renaissance geniuses of their debt to Dante? Dan Brown helps answer that question in his Inferno by having the fictional Professor Robert Langdon call our attention to one of Michelangelo’s lesser known roles: In addition to his better known roles as a painter, sculptor, and architect, Michelangelo was also a poet. He wrote a poem dedicated to Dante, which says in part, “Ne’er walked the earth a greater man than he.”

Dan Brown’s Langdon character calls this poem a virtual “blurb” from Michelangelo encouraging Renaissance Italians to read Dante. Langdon goes on to discuss ways that Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel paintings drew from Dante’s vision of hell, even when that vision was at odds with certain details in the Bible. Continue reading

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