Interview with a Pioneer: William A. Norcross MD

This month we are joined by very special guest, Dr. William Norcross, MD, whose accomplishments include establishing the UCSD PACE Program to help physicians mental health, as well as being the educational mentor of RateFast’s own Dr. John Alchemy, MD!

We speak with William about the mental health of doctors is a crisis all its own, compounded by the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also discuss ways that you can help your fellow physicians (and other people in general!) and briefly discuss the Ursinus College William A. Norcross MD ’70 Fund

If you’re a workers’ compensation provider, adjuster, or case manager check out RateFast Express: the service that writes your impairment reports for you!

Continue reading Interview with a Pioneer: William A. Norcross MD

Contributing to the Future of Medicine: The Ursinus College William A. Norcross, M.D. ’70 Fund

Physicians, often deservedly, are looked at by the public as people who have an almost bottomless capacity to help people. This was put to test during the coronavirus pandemic, where healthcare workers put everything they had and more into their jobs in order to try and save the lives of people during the worst pandemic of our lifetime.

In reality, healthcare professionals are flesh and bone human beings, subject to the same physical and mental constraints as anyone else. Many in the field make it part of their job to obscure that fact for the sake of their patients… and often their peers.

But what happens when a physician needs help? When they’re struggling with depression, or even substance abuse (Dr. House, anyone?)? Worst of all, what conditions lead to a doctor deciding to take their own life?
Continue reading Contributing to the Future of Medicine: The Ursinus College William A. Norcross, M.D. ’70 Fund

The Cost of Shivered Timbers: Pirates and Workers’ Compensation

Sometimes you hear a fact that’s surprising, even though it makes complete sense. The pirates of history having workers’ comp, for example.

At first it seems a bit backwards. Pirates with their reputation of being famously nationless, prone to mutiny and marooning crew members, not to mention being generally reckless.

But examining each of these points actually stands to justify workers’ compensation on the seven seas.
Continue reading The Cost of Shivered Timbers: Pirates and Workers’ Compensation

RateFast Podcast: The Gates of Hell Pt. II – Raising Inferno

Part II of our trip to hell and back!

Historian of Italian art and owner of Tuscan Tour Guide,  Paul Costa, brings us into the life and times of Dante Alighieri, his influence and how he saw the world around him.

But why Dante? What does this have to do with workers’ compensation? We will arrive at the answer at the end of our series. To get there, we must go through Inferno itself. See you in hell.

If you’re a workers’ compensation provider, adjuster, or case manager check out RateFast Express: the service that writes your impairment reports for you!


RateFast Podcast: The Gates of Hell Pt. II – Raising Inferno

Corey Oleson (Host): Welcome back to the California Work Comp report. We are here for part two of our series on the gates of Hell in which historian of Italian art Paul Costa tells me, Cory Oleson, and you, the listener, about Dante Alighieri, and the condition of the 14th century Florence, which drove him to write his most famous poem, The Inferno.

Paul: Dante was born from a family that was extremely Guelph. They love the Pope, they loved everything about him. They went to church, they were extremely Catholic at this time. So just let me just get two more things. And we’ll get back to Dante because Dante has a lot to say about the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope.

That was 1240s. So there’s a big fight. 1250s is a big fight between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. And Florence. And when you when the city was won over by the Guelphs, every single Ghibelline was exiled physically out of Florence. Yeah, so it’s like saying, if, if our current president is a Democrat, yeah, the Republicans have to leave America. And when the next president is a Republican, then all the democratic vice versa. So it’s crazy. Like there were there was a lot of movement as well. Because when you get kicked out of your city, well, where the hell do you go? You got to sell your house, you got to buy another house, but I don’t want to go to Luke, I don’t want to go to Pisa, I don’t want to go to Sienna, I hate those towns. You know, it’s like saying, like, I’m from New York originally. I the last place I live is in Boston with the Red Sox fans. I’m a Yankee fan. So you don’t want to go where you don’t feel at home. And if you’re not part of that Ghibelline party that’s winning right now, then you’re exiled. And then if they have wars, the Florentines were having wars among themselves to gain control again as Guelphs. So this goes back and forth quite a bit.

Cory: Also, I mean, property is a, you know, it’s a luxury. And when somebody says, you can’t have your property anymore, people will be violent when exiled out of these places. Just to add to what you’re saying, Paul, like when people get exiled out of these places, it’s not like the boot and then they turn around and walk out. But to your point, they get very angry and fight back. You know, a lot of people do move.

Paul: It’s also very, you get very angry because you’re fighting with your own kind. You’re all Florentines, you’re all part of unions. You’re all part of the guild and you’re paying taxes and you want your city to be better than the other surrounding cities. Because before it’s really I mean any even today any city truly hates or dislikes or has it out with the other surrounding cities, so far started out with again, Lucca, Pisa, Siena, Bologna, but forest and care about Seville, it’s too far. It’s insane. You follow me? You always hate the local football team from your rival high school because they’re local to you. Not with a school that’s across the country. Exactly. When not the country, the only another, you know, that team around there. It’s coming all together. But in 1250, smack in the middle of the 1200s, something major happens. The guilds start getting some executive power alongside with the aristocrats. And the aristocrats are losing their crap right now. Because, you have these dirty people that work.

Cory: The workers are rising.

Paul: Yeah. And they’re getting executive power alongside with them. So now the aristocrats are getting a little antsy. They’re going, What the Hell is going on here? To the point where – I don’t know if you know this, if you’ve been to Tuscany, but the more money you had, the higher your house was. So it was like New York City during the skyscraper.

Cory: That symbolically I have to get up and to see a greater sort of Vista, you know, right to feel taller to have more power.

Paul: You put yourself on a pedestal right when you’re employing, right, so the more money you have, the higher your house has to be. So Florence, it’s was truly like a modern New York City with all the skyscrapers coming up everywhere. Yeah. And then in total, in total 50. When the guilds and these the merchant class was starting to get some executive power, they passed a law that every single house had to be lower than the highest political building. So now, you have the Bargello. The Bargello is a block away from the main square and Florence, in the Bargello was where the politicians worked, and the Bargello had a bell tower. And every house had to be lower than that bell tower. Imagine people in New York City having to chop their skyscraper.

Cory: Oh, well, yeah, let me in here in Philadelphia. I didn’t know this but, for a very, very long time, none of the buildings in Philadelphia were allowed to be taller than City Hall, which is the largest, I think it’s the largest masonry building, I think in this on the western hemisphere. And maybe in the world, but it’s got a very, very, very tall clock tower, but it is not skyscraper tall. You know? So I can imagine.

Paul: Right? Yeah. These rich people saying, we let these guilds come in, we’ve had them, you know, be part of our society. And now they’re passing laws, and they make us look like fools, because now we literally have to chop our house. Because if we don’t chop our house, we’re gonna have to go to war with them. And I don’t want to go to war. So to make a long story short, yeah, 100s of houses were chopped by their owners, because that was the new law that was passed, which leads me into the subsequent thing that’s going on. The biggest thing that happened in the 1200s, I think, in Europe 1252 Florence coins, the first gold coin for Europe called the gold florin. And if you’re ballsy enough, if you’re rich enough, if you’re big enough, and if you’re wealthy enough to be able to coin a gold monetary unit for your town, and now everybody across Europe is going to accept it, including Northern Africa, all of Northern Africa was accepting, the Middle East was accepting the florin. All of that is huge.

Cory: Oh, I was gonna say a real quick one. You can’t say no to a gold coin, because it’s a gold coin. I heard I heard something it you know, that’s like, if you see that, and you already know what gold is, which I’m sure most of like the trading world did at that point. You know, we’re going back, you know, talking about oil. Exactly, exactly. Yeah, if you see a gold coin, it just like, you can’t argue with the fact that this is currency, even if like your understanding of like fiat currency, it isn’t.

Paul: It’s, it’s like anybody could grab a piece of gold and make a coin out of it, or make two coins or three coins. But when you start making a little currency out of it, where everybody is using it, and you have all these aristocratic families in Florence, and Florence is being flooded in by merchants and pilgrims going to Rome. There’s a lot of richness in Florence, true richness, which leads into greed. And loan sharks, which is awesome. I mean, awesome, quote, unquote. But it makes everything a lot more interesting, isn’t it? Yes, because when you when we’re talking about Dante coming up shortly with Inferno? Well, if you have a city coining of gold florin, and we have the richest city in Europe, you know, ruling everything and that florin was truly like the US dollar in the 1980s. You could, I don’t know how old you are, Cory. But in the 1980s, the US Dollar was accepted everywhere across the globe. Now not so much because there’s other currencies, including the Euro that are stronger.

Cory: Yeah. We expect that to change very soon. I’m sure. We’ll see.

Paul: People have been saying that since 2000, when the Euro came out. So the gold florin is into play. People are getting rich people getting richer, which leads people to be loan sharks because now people need money on bigger houses. There’s a lot of greed going around. But that greed shows up in the fourth circle of hell, and Dante, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and us being a loan shark shows up three circles later in the seventh circle of Hell. So and Dante is born 12 years after the Florin was was coined. So Dante when Dante was zero, when he was just born, the gold florin been around for 13 years here. He was a new coin, it was still building up, Florence is doing well. You have this this Guelph family, that’s very religious, Dante eventually gets married as three kids, he falls in love with a girl called Beatrice at nine years old, which she never, never even. And he was lucky if you spoke to her maybe two or three times. It was like a platonic love that he had with this girl. He had, he never mentioned his wife and all of his writings, but he mentions Beatrice everywhere. So yeah, I have a little mental patient going on as well, with this guy called Dante, he’s got his own things going on.

Cory: We’re gonna get into this a little more next week, but it will become apparent that there’s a bit going on inside.

Paul: Absolutely. Because the first thing I want to talk about in the next podcast is why in the world did Dante write it? Right? Why did you write the Divine Comedy? And how did you get all those ideas that we still talk about 700 years later, but we’ll get into that next week.

What I like to talk about is Dante and how he actually learned to write because he wrote quite a bit. He studied philosophy and we know he studied – don’t forget, no schools anywhere. There’s no printing press. Most people are illiterate. Dante, he is born from a very religious family. And he decides, and we don’t know how, because we have no records of this. But he ends up studying Greek and Latin and philosophy in the church that I mentioned before in Santa Maria Novella The Dominican church. Yes, that was built in 1220. So Dante is what 20 years old, maybe 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 years old. And he’s studying at a brand new church called Santa Maria Novella. And he’s studying this philosophy. And the philosophy always goes back to St. Augustine, not Florida, but the legit St. Augustine.

St. Augustine lived in the year 350. And he’s from Algeria. Algeria, is on the north coast of Africa next to Morocco. So, you have a guy from the year 350, who wrote a lot of a lot of philosophy, philosophical stuff. And one of his main theories was that you have to visit Hell when you’re alive in order to understand that and then not go there when you die. So that’s kind of neat. Like to understand the consequence. So go to Hell, live Hell while you’re here on Earth, so that when you do die, you don’t live it physically, for the rest of eternity, or psychologically for the rest of eternity. So, Dante is learning how to read Greek, how to write Greek, how to read, learn how to write Latin, he’s learning about philosophy, but he’s also talking in what we would call Italian. They didn’t call it Italian back then, when Dante was alive.

Yes, the poor people, the dirty people. The aristocrats spoke Latin. And the plebs, the locals, the merchants, the farmers. Well, they spoke that vulgar language.

Cory: Okay, so the common tongue, I guess, or the, the commoners tongue, I guess.

Paul: But I mean, the aristocrats must have spoken the common tongue as well. But when they meet among themselves, and they speak a better language, you know, it’s like it’s like going to a baseball game and speaking a lot of lingo with your with the guys that you’re at the stadium with, and then going to the courthouse because you’re a lawyer, and you’re not speaking like it did last night at the at the ballgame. So we have different ways of speaking, depending on where we are and who we’re with. So he’s out at this point. He’s about 25 years old, and he knows he wants to get into politics, but you can’t become a politician unless you’re part of the guild. And he’s like, what? I’m not part of a guild. So where the hell what guild? Do I become part of? Well, he thought it through and he said, Well, the only guild that sells books, quote unquote, books, because there’s no books back then there’s manuscripts as we said before, but the only the only guild that was legally authorized to sell manuscripts was the pharmacy and physicians guild. Or the apothecary guild.

Cory: So it was important for the doctors to write?

Paul: Yes, we as doctors wrote quite a bit back then. Right? Because then take a note on on what to do and how to help people now. We can’t call them doctors. That was I knew I knew you were I were gonna say the word doctor. Yeah, we can use the word doctor in the 1200s for a reason. There was no such thing. There were there were physicians. The huge difference. So you had the pharmacy and the physicians and they had their own guild called the apothecary guild. And it becomes part of it, not because he’s a doctor, not because it’s a physician, not because he’s a pharmacist, because he reads and writes a lot. And he wants to have access with those books and those manuscripts. So he said, or, I’ll join that guild. As long as important a guild it doesn’t matter which guild them in, then I could become a politician. Which was key, because it would become a politician, you had to be part of the guild. So he became he joined the apothecary guild because they sold books and he thought there was a good link between his lifestyle and joining a guild.

The cool thing about what’s going on now in the late 1200s, is that you have a very important influential person called Dante rolling around Florence, and he knows he’s known to the politicians, people know that he wants to become a political officer. The political offices, they’re only lasted two months, 60 days. So you know, 60 days to get a lot of things done as quickly as you possibly could. While that’s happening in the late 1200s, the Duomo starts getting built. Now, when I say that it may not sound like much to sway a Senate, but the Duomo, one is built as the largest church on planet Earth. When the Florentines take it upon themselves to say let’s build a church, and well while we’re at it, let’s build the biggest in the world. So now, everybody’s head off, you know, and the Pope could get pissed off at us because they’ll have a small rinky dinky church built by constantly the year 300. While all this stuff is going on, that’s the religious side of it.

Because don’t forget we have the gold Florin going on. We have a lot of rich people that could contribute to the to the, to the to the construction of biggest church in the world. But the political side has to kick in as well. You just can’t have the biggest church in the world with small rinky dinky political building. So they decided to build the Palazzo Vecchio that’s still in Florence and still to this day is still the mayor’s office, still City Hall. It was 1299. The Duomo starts in 1296. So we’re rounding off the 1300. But there’s a lot of the Mason guild must have been like, how do we handle all this work? We got to build a political building and a religious building stone workers and we need this ever we need so much, you know, come together at the same time to build now that the miniatures are in town and the Medicis are becoming bankers and there’s so much money going around. It’s an awesome time and to think about in the year 1300.

So June 15, the year 1300, Dante becomes friar of Florence, he’s the highest rank in Florence. And he’s got those 60 days to do whatever the heck he wants. With all that info in his head with it with the philosophy that I mentioned before, and the studying in the churches and stuff like that.

Cory: Physicians texts, yeah.

Paul: He’s got so much under his belt right now. And he has to figure out what to do in this in this short period of time, with all the information his head but he also is also the year 1300 that I mentioned before, and Pope Boniface VIII all of a sudden comes up with this brilliant idea, brand new idea. He comes up with this word called Jubilee. And the first Jubilee was in the year 1300, while Dante was prior, so Dante in the year 1300 has to take it upon himself to go, don’t forget, he’s at Guelph he’s extremely religious. He wants to get down to the Vatican. And don’t forget, this is the old St. Peter’s Basilica that was built by Constantine in the year in the three hundreds. It’s not the new St. Peter’s that we all go see with the Sistine Chapel and stuff like that.

Cory: It kind of needs an update a little bit. Especially with the new Florentine. What was it called again? The Duomo?

Paul: Duomo? Yes. Think about the whole dynamics right? So you got Lawrence, he’s he’s in a town that’s building the biggest church in on planet Earth. But he doesn’t want to go pay respects to the Pope who started the Jubilee. But he has a little issue with this. Because the Jubilee was meant to quicken your way to Heaven when you die. If you if you become a pilgrim, and you do a pilgrimage to the St. Peter’s Basilica, and to Rome and the 1300, I will forgive your sins as Pope Boniface St. Eighth and I will make sure that you go to Heaven quicker and stay less time in Purgatory.

Cory: So if you put a couple of guns in if you wait…

Paul: Okay, so hear me out that was so you jumped the gun, but let’s get rid of that collection plate if you simply as Pope because he this pope is quite obnoxious, he declared religious and secular supremacy above all and everybody, so he’s actually stepping on a Holy Roman emperor’s toes right now. He’s saying I am more important than you and without me you’re a loser and you’re a nobody. So Pope Boniface VIII was was quite self centered, quite narcissistic, and declares his supremacy over everybody then says, Well, I’m going to quicken your chances to get to Heaven if you come on as Jubilee pilgrimage to Rome.

So forget about the collection plate. If millions of people are going to get up and get on their donkeys or simply walk to Rome from France, Germany, England, Spain, Portugal, I don’t care where you’re coming from. And all the roads still lead to Rome. Thanks for the Romans. Everybody’s going to Rome well, you need to sleep when you get there. You got to eat when you get there. Yeah, maybe your mind will souvenir no magnets put in your refrigerator when you go back home, oh, no, I wasn’t a jubilee in the year 1300s. So money is gonna go round regardless, and that’s where Dante had a huge issue with Pope Boniface the eighth saying he’s not doing it to save your soul. He’s doing it because he wants all that cash because I’m not gonna say half of Rome was owned by the Vatican. But the whole outside area of where St. Peter’s Basilica is today is still all owned by the Vatican.

So there were plenty of places where you can rent a bed and breakfast in Rome or a restaurant and have a nice, you know, a nice meal in Rome while you’re there. The Jubilee. I know that money’s going straight to the to the church and to the Vatican, and to Pope Boniface VIII pocket. So, and that’s what Dante declares as simony. You’re selling something religious, that’s not tangible. So you’re selling heaven, you’re selling forgiveness. So Simon actually has a huge issue with Pope Boniface VIII, which we ended up meeting and we’ll talk about next week, when we talk about Inferno and how it’s kind of neat how it all intertwines in the year 1300, because everything’s leading up, so to corruption and evil doings on behalf of the church as well. Which leads me to two more things. Corey, if I have more time?

Cory: Oh, please, please.

Paul: Dante is infatuated with Aristotle and his ethics. And I don’t know if the listeners know about Aristotle’s ethics, but it’s huge. If you just Google Aristotle, ethics, there’s books and books and books and books on Aristotle.

Cory: He again, ethics is Aristotle’s kind of concept. Am I right? Like, isn’t that? I mean, he wrote the book on ethics.

Paul: Awesome. He did write a book on it and but so did his teacher, Socrates. And so did his teacher Plato. Oh, yeah. But ourselves. Just to make it really simple. He gives it a different twist than his his previous to Greek writers. His study is out of one word eudaimonia. This is a Greek word and eudaimonia Unfortunately, for us, English speaking people, is incorrectly translated, because sometimes it’s difficult to translate from foreign languages to English. 99% of the books in the world written in English, translate eudaimonia, which is Aristotle’s whole concept of life as the word happiness, and it’s really not happiness, he doesn’t focus or mean, happy, or how can somebody be happy. Eudaimonia is really focusing on how to have a good soul. And if you have a good soul, then that will lead you to be happy. So it’s really about having a good soul. So how do people get to have you eudaimonia? That’s the key question that Dante was hammered with, while he was studying in Santa Maria Novella, not far from his house in Florence.

Cory: Just as Siddhartha you know, Siddhartha would meditate on the feeling of enlightenment, or the you know, experience of it.

Paul: You got it. So, when you get into eudaimonia, and Aristotle’s theories about eudaimonia was quite simple. You need constant habitual virtuous deeds and actions. I’m gonna say that one more time because it may be it may sound easy but it’s actually not. So to get eudaimonia, to have a good soul, all you need, and that says, quote, unquote, all you all you really need to do is to have constant and habitual virtuous deeds and actions. So you just got to be a good guy, you have to be a good person. And if you’re a good person, and you constantly have those good deeds and actions that will have that will make you have a good soul, which in turn will make you happy will make you happy. Yes. Now, all those things that may that that should be habitual, are the virtues. So there goes courage, wisdom, justice, all the all the good things that we should do.

Cory: All the life skills that we see in school.

Paul: It’s not easy to be virtuous. In today’s world, because anybody’s world.

Cory: Yes. Because Because similar to you know, people’s people’s need to be tied to the Divine when you know, when a new coin rolls into town or something, then they can get a little loose.

Paul: Absolutely. But Aristotle is pretty simple about it. And Don, and I say Aristotle, but when I say Aristotle, then you’re going to think Dante because Dante thinks exactly like Aristotle. So he loves his Eudaimonia good soul, you know, habitual virtuous deeds, actions, philosophy here.

Cory: Yeah. And the money and the corruption are a temptation. It’s outlined in the Bible.

Paul: Now, you hit it on the head, those are the basics. So, if you’re virtuous, and I don’t know what’s let’s use justice as one of the virtues. Okay, so everybody should have should be just in their decisions. Well, that’s the virtue. If you have a deficiency in justice, you’re discriminating and begins, if you have an excess in justice, you’re favoring somebody, you follow me?

Cory: Yeah. Because it’s a balance, you need to stay –

Paul: There and there goes stood up the there goes the Greek, you know, counterbalancing, everything right? Everything’s got to be balanced properly. So in the middle, you have justice deficiency. Deficiency is depriving somebody from something and discriminating somebody or somebody, and the excess is favoring somebody so, but it’s not always the same, because we have 1000s of decisions to make on a daily basis in our brains. And you have to make a conscious decision of which is a good decision. And which is a bad decision upon the, on the moment that it arrives, right? Because it could change, you know, I had a different day than you did. Cory, right? You’re really who’s it’s so we had different conversations with different people and different things happen to us. And maybe we had to both be just at a certain point, but you have to make the right decision at the right time with the right people at the right moment.

Cory: And the key word there being you know, or rather kind of hearkening back to what you said a minute ago, a conscious decision.

Paul: You have to be aware of it, but so you have to be conscious of it. And you have to be aware that you can be screwing it up. Yeah, maybe you were, you’re cutting somebody short, or you’re favoring somebody? And those are the vices, which is what Dante focuses on his entire Inferno. So there goes lust and greed and anger and violence and fraud. All those are deficiencies are access to virtues.

Cory: From…?

Paul: Aristotle, Aristotle, but what they’re doing is saying, Okay, I’m Catholic, I go to church, I’m a Guelph I like, I like to figure a pope, I hate the current pope because he’s selling your tickets to Heaven in reality, I don’t like the Jubilee. I don’t like a lot of things that are going on. I don’t like that there’s a lot of French Pope’s getting involved in our Italian side of things, which I’m going to end the podcast in a few minutes with. But Dante is saying what Aristotle wrote about, what over 1500 years before Dante was even born as a non Christian. Dante says, Aristotle had it right. I mean, regardless of what your religion is, this is all you eudaimonia is what everybody should achieve and go for an aim for because who wants to focus on Western greed and anger and violence, for crying out loud?

Cory: You don’t have to focus on a constant fear of God, if you’re living, you know, if you’re electing to live the way that –

Paul: No, but you can go into God. So you said God meant it to be your God, because there’s nothing to do with God. It’s got to be about being happy, having a good soul, regardless of what’s going to happen to us afterwards. Yeah, why not be a good person and be complete inside your heart? See the conversation had nothing to do with God?

Cory: Okay. Okay. That’s it. That’s interesting, because even in the context of Dante is, you know, sort of religious nature.

Paul: Well, it gets into Catholicism. Absolutely. But he’s focusing on something that was written by a guy who didn’t believe in God. Aristotle had gods, he had all those gods in ancient Greece. Right. So, to conclude tonight’s podcast, it’s kind of neat to see Dante focusing on on people that were born 1000s of years before him hating the current pope, even though he’s a Guelph and he’s a he’s a true Catholic. I mean, he loves the church, and he loves the idea. Yeah, and Dante believes, again, that the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope, certainly, you know, church and state should coexist together, but it’s extremely difficult when you got a pope who’s who’s declaring supremacy over everything in the world.

Cory: And he’s experiencing, I’m sure insane amounts of cognitive dissonance. I mean, you know, we, absolutely the lack of distractions probably meant, you know, people’s convictions back then, or at least, you know, those who hurt somebody like Dante, you know, you know, his conviction is just completely unflappable. And so, like, the fact that you’re seeing this thing that you know, represents a Dante he kind of irrespective of the, the ethics thing and everything, I mean, he was a raised Catholic his entire life he you know, you do believe that there is like this, or you know, at least up till a certain point you believe that there is a light that shines like right into the pope that is God talking. And then suddenly this this, this happens, which just flips your entire you know, universe you know, reaching all the way out to the heavens are completely on its head and you have to it probably felt like Hell.

Paul: It did for most yet at this point, with the Jubilee going on hating every minute of it. Yeah, but according to him this bad Pope was Collective’s cashing in and all these pilgrims as a politician in Florence trying to do the right thing. And then you have these aristocrats who really don’t care about anything but cash and then he thinks that all these gold florins that were swinging around Florence was was doing a bad it was a bad thing in reality because where there’s money there’s greed and greed that there’s no good life. The it all comes to a conclusion the year after in 1301 when obviously he served as 60 days prior so that’s all done with the Jubilee is over with because it only lasts. You know that one year the year 1300.

When the Pope is still Pope manifest the eighth exiles all the graphs from Florence, the Pope, who is head of the Guelphs is exiling the Guelph his own people out of Florida because of some I can’t get into because it’s gonna take me another three hours to talk about it. but Sure, sure, getting angry with the Guelph in Florida, so he exiles him. So what we have now is a subdivision of the Guelph so you got the white grouse and the black Wolf’s so the Pope is a black Guelph and Dante says well I hate him. So I’m going to be a black wolf I’m going to be a white Guelph and all the white groups were exiled out of Florence. So Dante loses his house, he physically loses the opportunity to sell, cash in on the house that he owned and foreigners buy a house somewhere else. So he literally gets kicked in the rear and out of Florence gone.

So Dante obviously has like a personal vendetta out for Boniface VIII now because he literally lost cash. Yes, his own home, he lost his his residency for crying out loud, get the hell out of Florence. So that was the end of it. Boniface VIII was on Dante’s shit list. That’s for sure. That’s the least I could say about that. Yeah. Now, Dante’s out of floors, he’s pissed off at the church, he’s pissed off at the Pope. He’s got all this information with his head with Eudaimonia and Aristotle and the ethics and the money coming in the biggest church in the world called the Duomo being built. The marriages are in Florence. And they’re they’re feeding this this this evil, greedy cycle of loan sharking and usury. And then it all goes even worse, when in 1309. The papacy is brought out of Florence and is brought to France, a French Pope was elected in 1309. And the French Pope simply said, Well, I’m Pope and I’m French. And what the heck am I doing in Italy? Let’s move the papacy to my town.

So he literally got up and moved to Avignon France, and the papacy stayed in Avignon France for about 70 years and guess what all the Pope’s that were elected in France happened to be? They were all French.

So you see how it’s not about church anymore, it’s not about good ethics anymore it’s about greed, it’s about me myself and I let’s bring the papacy to France and elect French Pope’s and keep the money in France now. Not in Italy. Yes, it was. It was a great time for chaos. Yeah, it was It was chaotic. It was crazy. But that schism because that’s what a schism is as a division right? So that that that schism in the church, but leaving the papacy in Rome and bringing it to France? Yes, is the biggest sin that Dante believes could exist on planet Earth on behalf of a human being. So the people who cause schisms and divisions because God wanted it one way, but you screwed it up and you divided it, yes, doesn’t make puts people who create divisions and schisms in the deepest, darkest circle of Hell and the nine, I’m sorry, the eight circle in the ninth ditch all the way like close to Lucifer.

Cory: Just, it’s close to him as you could get, essentially.

Paul: There is nothing worse than dividing what God intended to be together. So it’s kind of neat how you have all this chaos that leads up from 1192 when the guilds were built as we began the evening, all the way through the biggest church in the world and the guilds with the executive power and so on and so forth, all the way down to a huge decline with this idea that the church should be one should be together, should be helping each other. It all blew up in In Dante’s lifetime, and he truly hated every minute of it, because as a good Catholic boy, he wanted everything to go well. And it didn’t happen.

Cory: And it didn’t happen. And it wasn’t just it wasn’t just him that, you know, that was a feeling this way, either.

Paul: No, but he was the ballsiest one, the gutsiest one. One day decided on his exile with no money, having lost the money from his house that he had, you know, he would have sold before he got exiled from the Pope. He says, I’m gonna get, I’m gonna get my vengeance. And it’s not gonna be a physical vengeance. It’s gonna be a psychological vengeance, because I’m gonna write a poem. It’s gonna be a pretty long poem. Yes, I’m gonna write a poem. And I’m gonna call it in Inferno, and I’m gonna follow it up with purgatory. I’m gonna end it with paradise. So on that note, I would say that we should continue this conversation in our next podcast, Cory.

Cory: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Paul Costa, thank you so much for kind of setting the scene for you know, the Inferno, Dante, Elite Series Inferno. And yeah, and yes, it’s kind of, you know, we I learned a lot today. And it’s, it’s, you know, fascinating to kind of look and what I was saying earlier to learn about that world, of which there were few dots to connect. And yeah, so we so what we have now is we’ve gone through and established that all of the cantos of Hell, in the forthcoming episode about Inferno are in regards to the eudaimonia.

Paul: The coolest part of all this podcast, and my life is that people will listen to this podcast one day and they will reach out to me and maybe go to my website at And say, I heard your podcast, I’m coming to Florence with my wife and my kids bring me around, I want to see Dante’s house. I want to see where Dante studied, I want to see the Duomo, walk me around and show me what you spoke about during those podcasts that I enjoyed. And I’m not here to become a millionaire, obviously. But I love sharing all this information with everybody.

Cory: There’s a there’s an additional Canto in Hell for the people that go to Italy and they don’t contact Paul about. We’ll make sure we add it to Dante’s Inferno. Absolutely, absolutely. So yeah, an appendix. Well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast and we very much look forward to these next few episodes that we’ll be doing on Dante’s Inferno and how we’re going to bring that back into the realm of Workers Compensation and maybe have a whole new perspective on things. So once again, thank you again, Paul, for coming on the podcast.

Paul: Thank you, Cory. Thanks for having me. Have a great night. You too.

Cory: Thanks for listening. For more about Dante, legal theory, the inferno, the gates of hell and what all this means to workers compensation, visit our blog at And for more about RateFast, the service that rates your workers compensation impairment reports for you, visit our website at

RateFast Podcast: 8 Crucial Points for Great Work Comp

They say that about 80% of the job only requires 20% of the work. Matter of fact, doing the job right will help eliminate a lot of the work where bad habits are developed. That’s why in this episode, Dr. John Alchemy schools Cory Oleson on the 8 crucial points for great work comp.

If you’re a workers’ compensation provider, adjuster, or case manager check out RateFast Express: the service that writes your impairment reports for you!

Highlight, Bold, Underscore: 8 Work Comp Points that Make All the Difference

We’ve spoken at length about the pure lack of educational material for doctors writing impairment ratings in California workers’ compensation.  

Workers’ comp professionals who are learning the work comp rules by themselves have to determine for themselves what is and what aren’t crucial points in the work comp process. While we can definitely make the argument that everything is a crucial point in workers’ compensation, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do so.  

They say that 20% of the work often covers 80% of the job, so we’ve put together this list of the 8 crucial points to remember throughout the course of your workers’ comp claim. 
Continue reading Highlight, Bold, Underscore: 8 Work Comp Points that Make All the Difference

RateFast Podcast – The Gates of Hell Pt. I – Dante’s Florence

This is a special series, and a bit of a change from our usual workers’ compensation programming.

Historian of Italian art and owner of Tuscan Tour GuidePaul Costa, takes us on a trip to the dark ages, to get a glimpse of what life was like in late 13th century Florence and surrounding cities.

Paul illustrates the factors that imposed upon the daily life of the common people during this time. We examine the conditions that set the stage in the mind of one Dante Alighieri, who would go on to create one of the most significant literary works in history: Inferno.

But why Dante? What does this have to do with workers’ compensation? We will arrive at the answer at the end of our series. To get there, we must go through Inferno itself. See you in hell.

If you’re a workers’ compensation provider, adjuster, or case manager check out RateFast Express: the service that writes your impairment reports for you!


RateFast Podcast: The Gates of Hell Pt. I – Dante’s Florence

Cory Oleson (Host): And we are back in the studio today. And usually we have Dr. John Alchemy as a guest on the California Work Comp report podcast. But today we actually have no John and we have a very special guest to introduce, Italian art historian, Paul Costa. How are you doing today, Paul?

Paul Costa: Hi, Cory. How are you doing?

Cory: Well, we are doing something very different with a California Work Comp report podcast. And we are taking a trip through Italy. And visiting through time and space and visiting not only Italy of the 13th century, we are visiting Italy of the 13th century, and eventually we will be visiting Hell, itself. Today, Paul is going to speak to us about some backstory on Dante Alighieri. And what the kind of climate of, of 1300s or 1200s Italy was like, and before we get into the weeds, Paul, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you know so much about all of everything we’re about to hear.

Paul: Well, of course, to be blunt, very honest with you, I just make it all up as I go.

Cory: Wonderful. That’s what we do, too.

Paul: It’s never the same.

Cory: No doctor is actually learning anything listening to this, because it’s all lies. No, I’m kidding.

Paul: All joking aside, it really fell into all it fell into my plate. I nothing. None of this was planned, as I’m sure many of you are doing things in your life that you didn’t plan as a child. I was born in New York, Italian immigrant parents. They they felt a little uneasy in the 1980s in New York. So at that point, I was alive with my brother, and we moved as a family to Tuscany. And this is where the magic happened because nobody knew what was actually happening to all of us. But things went sour for my parents in the 80s. And we went back to New York City, where I finished my college degree there and so on and so forth.

But the college degree was in Italian Renaissance art history. So it had everything to do with what I had lived and seen through my childhood while I was in Tuscany, and Florence and Pisa and so on, Janine Yano and Sienna.

Cory: So all the places that I as a very small as a person with a vested but small interest in art history myself, it’s somebody somewhere where I’d love to just go around and see everything huge fan of Bernini’s work.

Paul: And it’s kind of it all does truly fit in it. It’s a place where I think most people in the world have on their bucket list. Tuscany is one of the places to go to it is you know, you have Rome and Venice, but not everybody knows about the details of Florence. And when you do get there and you do take a tour of it, you start understanding that Rome became Rome because of Florence and because of the influence that emanated from that from that very potent city, extremely rich. It was it was Poland for a reason. There were streets that that went through Tuscany, which made farmers quite wealthy, made merchants quite wealthy. But we’ll get into that shortly. What I just wanted to conclude about myself is that I gave up the states again, and moved back to Italy by myself as an adult, I guess. But at that point, I had my master’s degree in Italian Renaissance art history, and we’re about 20 years ago, I opened up my own company in Florence called Tuscany tour guide. And I organize tours throughout all of Italy. And I try to tie in all those dots that we all know about, we all learned about in middle school in high school and some college classes.

But I tie in the world not being flat, and the world being round and Galileo and Columbus and the Pope’s and the metal, cheese and Venice. And I tie in the biggest church in the world with St. Peter’s Basilica, because it wasn’t always St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and the Vatican. So I tried to tie in all these dots, and most of my customers come away quite content, not necessarily of what they learned about Florence. But I’ve connected all these dots that they’ve always had in their heads, it just never, they never knew how to put them in a straight line. So that was that that’s what really got me going. I really love doing that.

Cory: Absolutely. There’s so many names that we recognize, and then, you know, these historical figures that we recognize, and then when you especially, you know, I want to say especially when you take a tour through an area, people, like you say, well connect those dots and make people realize that that a lot of these people knew each other and existed in the same space and time as each other. And we’re in many ways influencing each other. And, and were part of, you know, what I would like to consider a scene of sorts, or you know, it community or, you know, something in artistic milieu of the time.

Paul: Especially when you enter the Renaissance, absolutely, yeah, the middle ages can be a little too long, they’re a Middle Ages are 800 years long, so that not too many people overlapped. As much as we actually talk about all the people in the Renaissance, which were only 200 years. So Leonardo and Michelangelo did hang out, you know, in a hole, and Michelangelo, a whole bunch of Popes did hang out, and they knew each other. So it was just a short 200 years. And in those 200 years, you have all the names that we know, you have Columbus and Galileo and they were all there in the same part of Italy pretty much so they do intertwine very easily. Well, when you talk about the Middle Ages, it’s a little bit more difficult, just because they’re 800 years long.

Cory: Absolutely. And even though the dots are a little more kind of spaced apart there, you know, there are, you know, the dots that do a shine out of that era shine bright. And, you know, I was thinking right before the podcast how you know, it, there aren’t too crazy many contemporaries that have Dante that one can just point out and say, you know, the way that the way that you could kind of point out that contemporaries of the, you know, the Renaissance age, are there such thing?

Paul: No, not at all. Yeah, absolutely. Right about that. And that’s, that’s, that was something that was one of the reasons why I wanted to start off where I am going to start off, which is 1192. Because 1192 doesn’t mean anything to anybody, pretty much.

Cory: Yeah. Christ as well may have been alive, or may as well. You know, anything from you know,

AD or zero or what have you to basically the 1500s, the invention of the Gutenberg Press, you know, it’s all it’s all sort of a blur, a single thing.

Paul: In many dots, as you said, so and yeah, it depends on who you talk to as well. If I say 1192 to an American, the 1492 will pop into their head because 92 is that magical number.

Cory: Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. And it’s what and it’s what popped into my head.

Paul: So let’s start off with 1192. Chaps, let’s take a trip back. We’re going 300 years free, Columbus, the world is not flat, not to Columbus, not to the Spaniards, not to the Pope, not to anybody. What we do have some issues in regards to what rotates around what so we the center of the universe, and the sun rotates around us or vice versa.

Cory: The Centric model or the or the heliocentric model is the Earth revolves around the Sun and the planet, right, but the ascension, which is you know, about around God, and that’s it.

Paul: So if we go back to 1192, the thing that interests me and us tonight is really what started off Florence. And what made it come out of the middle ages because the Middle Ages go from roughly the year 500. So when the Roman Empire fell 476 to be exact, so when the Romans fall in his normal Roman Empire, it all goes down down the to the Middle Ages begin and there is a huge decline in many aspects are no more bathhouses, no more awkward ducks no more coliseums being used while it’s because there’s a lack of taxes really coming in. So the Emperor, so all the city states and feudal city states all start in the year 500. It goes to 600, 700, 809, 900, 1011, 1092 where they don’t know it, obviously, but 650 700 years into it, we’re starting they’re starting to get out of the Middle Ages.

So money’s rolling around, people have a few extra bucks in their pocket. Now, I’m not saying people are doing well, but people do have extra time on their hands. Because as you’re making money that is allowing you not to work so much. And with that extra time, in your daily routine, you can have some fun, you can go out to dinner, you can go to the movies.

Cory: You can take a you know, burn the end of a stick and draw something with it. Right?

Paul: They were doing that. So, yes and no, the church was doing quite well, in the Middle Ages. And they obviously wanted to promote the church in Jesus and Catholicism to be specific. And to say that, we need to keep in mind two things, as I’m talking throughout tonight, that there are no schools, there’s no such thing as a school. Throughout this entire podcast. Nobody went to school, if you were learning something, you were a monk or a fry or a priest in mystery, or you were getting home schooled, which means you have a lot of money.

Yes, yes. So there’s no printing press. You mentioned Gutenberg before. So 1190 to 1200. Let’s say it’s just rounded up to 1200. There’s no schools in Florida, there’s no schools in Italy. There’s no schools in Europe, because I’m just going to blow it up from Florence to Italy to Europe, because everything is going to revolve around Florence tonight. No schools, no printing press, if you want to book we can’t even call it a book, we got to call it a manuscript. Right? So yeah, and the word manuscripts comes from mono, right? So hands, because somebody is physically copying it one page at a time.

Cory: One word, if you get a copy of the Bible, it was written from a by a by a priest or a friar or something like that, who meticulously copied from another copy of the Bible. I’m sure there was a, I’m sure there was a point where some of these guys could just write the book from memory.

Paul: Not only that, I mean, it was it was pop culture. I mean, I don’t want to make the Bible not as important or religious as it should be. But the Bible was the only book circulating. That was manuscripted quite a few times. And as we know, later on in the 1500s, when Gutenberg does have the printing press, the first book that was printed was the Bible. So if it’s the only books or only book circulating only manuscript circulating, people knew quite a bit about it, and the Middle Ages not being a great time to be around, people will looking for hope. And here’s my maybe my first question for you Cory. But if you’re looking for hope, who do you turn to?

Cory: Well, all good times, well, oftentimes, it will be an authority figure who will sort of be reassuring thing, and that authority figure could, could come in the form of a god or if you will, you know, something, something that multiple, that your community can agree upon, is something out, outside and more powerful, whose ways are deliberate, and that you can attribute that deliberation to, in order to explain this kind of tedious, correct lifestyles?

Paul: Yeah, exactly. So you hit it right on the head. So you’re going to the gods, the Greeks wanted the gods, the Macedonian, gods, the Egyptian gods, the Romans after the gods, and we go to Gods before the most of us go to some sort of God.

Cory: Our Gods might, you know, have take a little more of a terrestrial flavor nowadays.

Paul: Sure, absolutely. I mean, things do evolve, right? And then you get God on Earth, which changed things, because not too many gods send their son to Earth, in a human flesh form as the Christians believe with Jesus Christ.

Cory: Absolutely. How do you how do you interpret that?

Paul: So there goes the Bible, you got it. When you don’t have the answers, you turn to the Bible, and the Bible will help you and God will help you. So no schools ended the Middle Ages, no printing press, the book that everybody knows about is the Bible, not because they were reading it, or because they were having a monk, have them copy it. It’s just because everybody was looking for hope in the Middle Ages, and most not all, most were going to church, if not on a daily basis, definitely on a weekly basis. So the homilies were very different than what they are today. Most churches today, most Christian churches focus on the New Testament during the homily, where in the in the Middle Ages, they focused on the Old Testament as well. So people knew about Old Testament figures and New Testament figures. Because you can’t you don’t get the new unless you read the old.

Yeah, so people were illiterate. But what that illiteracy, and that’s this is where I just love children, I have to have my own and they still blow me away because they’re six and eight years old, and they’re learning how to read. And when I open the book, and I still read to them before we go to bed at night, sometimes I’m reading and I’m assuming my eight year old is following the words with me, but she’s not she’s actually looking at the pictures. It’s, it’s quite amazing how they’re still focusing on pictures, because that’s what she has been doing for the first eight years of her life.

Cory: Sure, sure. It’s a symbolic representation of reality, looking at looking at a picture. So you’ve got this. It’s more recognizable, if you will.

Paul: Absolutely. So if there goes the saying a picture says 1000 words, right? And if you do have an illiterate Europe, which is what we’re talking about tonight, so there’s no schools, no printing presses, let’s say 98% of Europe is illiterate. Well, how do you teach that people are not stupid people have never been stupid. It’s just the matter of how to teach these people something that they should know. And I want them to know, and I’m the priest talking right now. So I taught during the homily I taught, I speak about Moses, and can enable and Abraham and all the Old Testament guys, and then and stories.

And then we move into the New Testament, and we go to all the saints. So we go from prophets to saints, but they’re going to forget these stories. And I know that as a priest, as a friar, as a monk, they’re all going to forget, because we have, we drink our wine, we eat our meals, we have our wives and children, and we have to go far. And we have to go make jewelry, we have to go make houses make furniture, everybody has their own job who sews, so everybody has jobs. And we forget about all the stories because there are quite a few stories in the Bible. And there go along the images that you mentioned that you got a piece of charcoal maybe and scribble something, well, they were very advanced in the Middle Ages, right, because the church did not want you to forget these scenes and stories. So we had wonderful, we have wonderful paintings and frescoes in the churches that still around all of Europe, all done during the Middle Ages.

Cory: And when I when I talked about the charcoal on a stick thing, the there have been, Greece had already happened by the, you know, like the, it was a more of a more of a, say, illustrating that there was a little more time for leisure for the person to to do. But to your point about the fact that you know just just injecting this in here, to your point about people listening to the a sermon, and the priest wants him to remember it. But you know, they’ve got to do this. You know, they’ve got to do their other things and they kind of forget and everything like that, you know, it’s weird. You know, I were doing a podcast, I listened to podcasts, I listened to podcasts about things that I’ve invested in and things like that, and they come out on a weekly basis. And I don’t remember the last week’s one by the next week. So by the time the next week’s episode comes out, so we’re not you know, it just another illustration of how we’re not that different.

Paul: We are overloaded and routed out. We’re bombarded today’s world is bombarded with with with everything with news that has never silence, right even a supermarket. There’s always music around and there’s always noise, white noise, but there’s always noise.

Cory: In fact, we’ll have to people people will have to do things to escape this silence when it’s actually there now yeah, of course.

Paul: Yeah. So back then you take away rubber soled shoes, no sneakers you take away on glasses, you take away plastic from the world. You take away TVs and radios and podcasts and everything. Yeah. How do you tell time on a rainy day? Exactly. When we get to Florence and I hope I hope some of the listeners do come to Florence and do contact me because it’s kind of neat to to physically be in Florence and one of my questions is we’ll have to do a tour with me they’ll know the answer. But if you do if you take a tour with me my when we get to the Duomo, which used to be the biggest church built on planet Earth and Florida next to get the bell tower. And my question is what was the use of the bell tower? Why were there bells on this tower?

And many people get it some people don’t get it. But then I follow it up with how do people know what time it was back then? Exactly. Take the wheel clocks in the world. You take all the digital clocks in the world that analog clocks in the world take everything away. But how the heck do you tell time? So sundial, great, so you have sundial in your in your pocket? You take it out as a sundial on a wall somewhere and you look for it. But let’s make it 11pm on a rainy Sunday night. What time is it? And there we go there goes the bonus you know the people listen the bells back then, and the church was in charge of ringing the bells appropriately every 15 minutes to tell the world where the town for that matter what time it was. So there were, we think that life is easy today. And it is we have a lot of cool things that make our lives a lot easier. But back then, they had some cool ingenious things as well. It doesn’t necessarily mean that just because modern life is nice that it was just squatted back then.

Cory: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Right. Absolutely.

Paul: And the more and more of the most important things actually, if not, not to say the most almost in the in the late 1200s. What many people are doing are using one main drag called the via Francigena, which was a pilgrimage road that led everybody from Canterbury up in England, all the way down through France to Rome, and that road pass through Lucca and Sienna in Tuscany, so not necessarily in Florence. Yeah, but what’s happening, nonetheless. Well, yeah, if anybody’s done the El Camino, go to Santiago de Compostela. Sometimes it’s not that exciting. By the way, there’s I mean, think about 1200 Nothing’s paved. So that’s dirt roads everywhere. It’s dusty all the time, people wearing lots of leather because that protects you from your horse, the saddles and stuff like that.

So people aren’t differentiation and differentiation. His main purpose was pilgrimage. Go to the Vatican, go to Rome, betters your chances of getting to heaven and getting rid of this terrible life that we have, and looking forward to a better life. The French version is roughly about what 20 miles from Florence. So there was a lot of knock off people that and money that was going into Florence indirectly through this Via Francigena that was going through Lucca, which is about 20, 25 miles from Florence said that in the late 1100s. Or there’s some money coming into Florence, farmers are flocking into Florence, merchants from the outskirts of Florence are all moving literally they just did they’re ditching their houses in the outskirts and they’re all moving. Inside the city walls of Florence.

Cory: People go where the money goes, happen in the gold rush, that happened in there. Well, I’m thinking of all the California ones I was gonna say the gold rush the Dust Bowl.

Paul: I mean, that’s the way we are we relocate. Right? I got a better job in California. I’m moving I got a better job in LA. I’m going. Let’s go. So it happened back then as well. Yep. It just happened on a smaller scale because there’s no trains, planes or automobiles, right, so donkeys. Exactly, exactly. From the outskirts to the to the downtown areas of Florence. Within the walls, you pay taxes within those walls, you’re protected by those walls, now you’re part of a bigger entity, while in alignment, because the 1192. Again, these guilds were built that were created. guilds are like modern day unions, and 1192, between 1192 and 1197. So in five years, eight major guilds were built and created. So the eight major unions were created. And then 13, subsequent minor ones were as well, coming up in the 1200s, then, but those eight major guilds pretty much changed the history of the world because those guilds obliged and mandated that if you worked in any field of work in Florence, you had to be part of a guild, being part of a guild is pretty simple. If you think about how it all works, you got to pay your dues, and everybody pays taxes, and the more taxes you paid, the happier the government is, and the happier the government is, the happier the people are.

Cory: You know, that just it’s just so simple. And it just makes so much sense. You know, it’s a win win.

Paul: You keep it under in a small scale. Cory it works. Yeah. So that’s how I’m Rome worked that way as well. So when from Rome, to outskirts of Rome to all of Italy, to all of France, and it just has expanded, expanding, expand, expanding, and then the Emperor has people you know, shipped out to different parts of Europe and the Empire to collect more taxes and you become one of us, so we kill you, you know, it so the taxes is really what makes everything roll. Well, you give people coliseums and, and water. You build aqueducts, it’s great when it all works, and people believe in it.

Cory: I guarantee you people are still complaining, but yes, I do agree with you.

Paul: They will always. Yeah, yeah. We’re never happy.

Cory: Exactly. If there if there weren’t taxes, and people will be complaining about the lack of coliseums.

Paul: So Exactly, yes. So now in the 1200s. What we have are we have safe city. None of it is paved. We have lots of housing, a lot of housing. A lot of farmers moving in. There’s a lot of farm farmland outside Florence and rival cities like Lucca and Pisa and Sienna that dislike us in forests. But nevertheless, there’s there’s a lot of movement going on people are relocating. So yeah, we have these eight major guilds that are making money go round in Florence, and only in Florence. And then shortly after that, well, while that’s happening in the 1190s, St. Dominic, well, let’s not call them a saint yet, but this guy called Dominic is alive. He’s in Bologna, and Bologna is only an hour north of Florence. Not even less than an hour drive north of Florence. So you had this guy called Dominic, and 100 years later, you gonna have a guy called Francis, not far from Florence as well. So you have, eventually, the Dominicans and the Franciscans, St. Dominic in St. Francis.

Yeah, that’s where it all comes from. So you got Dominic up in Bologna. And he’s, you know, he becomes a saint. He dies in 1220. And people loved his interpretation of the Bible. And the way he saw the world, which was slightly different than other saints. So in 1220, we have one of the biggest churches being built in florists now, which is Santa Maria Novella. And it’s a Dominican church dedicated to St. Dominic, who had just died that year. So his order becomes quite big and followed by quite a few people. That’s actually the name of the train station. For many of you have been to Florence. You know, the name of the train station in Florence is Santa Maria Novella. And that’s because it’s right across the street from the church of Santa Maria Novella, which is exactly where where the Dominicans founded their order in their church, Florence.

Cory: Beginning the day that St. Dominic died.

Paul: Not too far out, though. He died in 1220. And the church and forces was remodeled in 1220. That’s the base their order around St. Dominic’s. So that’s kind of neat. So you have these churches building up, the executive power in Florence. So I thought I spoke about guilds before. So those guilds, you can’t work unless you’re part of a guild or part of a union union pays taxes tied, the government is happy the government gives things back to the people. That’s kind of cool. It is a school system that works quite well.

There’s a default there’s, there’s automatically off the start a problem. The executive power and forums is run by the aristocrats. When you automatically have these filthy rich families running the show for themselves. Ultimately, people can pay all the taxes they want, they could care less they’re gonna do whatever they want for their own benefit. And if you’re familiar with Florence, and I’m sure many people that are listening have been, there is no Palazzo Vecchio in the 1200s. There is no main square that you see next to you fit together. As a matter of fact, there is no Uffizi gallery. And there is no metacheese in Florence yet when the Dominican church of Santa Maria Novella is being built, and the this influx of people is coming into Florence. So no Palazzo Vecchio no metacheese, no Uffizi gallery, there’s no David. No, Michelangelo, the world is still round, though people, okay. People think that, you know, it was flat, but it wasn’t. I’ve never heard it.

Cory: I’ve never heard a flat-earther accuse any other planet of being flat either. Let’s talk about that. No, I’m kidding.

Paul: We’ll get there shortly. But there’s a reason why this word came out because it was really all made up. Because we could go back BC to Plato and Socrates and Aristotle, and they wrote about the world being round they had, they couldn’t prove it – and Pythagoras that came up the Pythagorean theorem. As a mathematician in Greece, he also had a very good sense of, you know, the world ain’t flat, a world can’t be flat because of this.

Cory: Absolutely. And I think I think that, you know, we have a perception, as we talked about before, our brains are, our brains are toast, like we’re scrambled, we, you know, we spend all day sort of escaping reality to look into something that, you know, gives us the chemicals that makes us want to escape reality. Back in the day before you had any of those things, you know, you looked up and you noticed, little things like that, you know, certain angles were different or certain something, you know, was different. And if you’re kind of working with math, you’re beginning to immerse yourself in that and apply that to the world around you. Because you’re realizing that math isn’t a human creation. It’s a human interpretation of natural systems. And so you look at the sky and then you say, Oh, the things are going sort of caddy-whompus we must be on a ball. So I know and I just can’t I also can’t think that there’s like a point at which somebody stepped in and then said, you know, no, this is flat. Kind of makes the whole premise kind of ridiculous.

Paul: But yeah, I was gonna talk about this later on, but let’s get it. Let’s get it off the table. Let’s talk about it right now. So it goes from Plato to Aristotle to Pythagoras all BC then you have Pliny the Elder Pliny the Elder, what great beer by the way. He wrote a lot. The year 77, literally the year 77, not 1977. He actually wrote about there being a southern and a northern hemisphere. So that’s pretty cool as well, we’re almost 2000 years ago, writing about Northern southern hemisphere. What they didn’t understand back then was that maybe the people in the southern hemisphere would fall. That’s fine. Nobody lives in the southern hemisphere.

Cory: And we’ve never seen anybody from the southern hemisphere!

Paul: So that was, that’s exactly because we live in Europe, and nobody lives anywhere outside of Europe is we don’t I think, but you’re right, exact. So if we jump to the year 400, we have Macrobius. And he studied St. Augustine, which I’m going to get into shortly. But he divides the world north and southern hemisphere, northern southern hemisphere as well. And he has a little proof he goes into it.

And 100 years later, we have another, two other guys which are very important to this podcast and to the next one as well. Isidore of Seville, he actually made, it’s called a T and O mat. So if you Google T and O, the two letters T and O, you’ll get this this orbis terrarium. It’s like a round, obviously, an orb divided into three. So we have three continents, it’s it’s a ball divided into three, and there’s only water in the southern hemisphere. So we have a guy in the year 500, who writes about that, and he’s pretty darn sure about this. 250 years later in the year 750, we have a monk up in the UK monk, monk Beatty, who also is beyond convinced that it’s we’re in a sphere, we’re in a ball. And he explains it very simply put, there’s longer days in the year, and it’s shorter days in the year and something’s gotta give. So why do we have these longer and short days? And he also attributes it with Southern Hemisphere, northern hemisphere, and so on and so forth. These people are going to come back up in our next podcast. And part two very important guys is endorphin, Seville and monk Beatty. So to end that, so everybody knows even in the middle ages. So we’re an item of the year 750. And a monk from the UK says that the world is round.

And now I’m in 1200’s Florence, so I was done. They knew that the world was round. And the people in the guilds in Florence to the world was round, well, sorry, the pope for crying out loud, whoever the Pope was, at that time, to jump and make everybody understand how in the world we get this, this idea that the world is flat. It was a literary movement that happened in the 18, late 1800s.

Cory: I was gonna say it’s got to be some sort of, you know, something similar to what we have today. And I’m not going to elaborate on that. But but it’s because you got to think if you approach somebody who didn’t really have that much of an opinion of or that just had their own stuff going on. And you said the world is a sphere, they would be like, what you know, or great, or you know, what have you it wasn’t? It just doesn’t seem like a historically, it’s like something that a normal person would have so much conviction about that they have to, like rewrite history in a way to where people in 2022 think that there was an idea that before people sort of marker, an arbitrary marker for when people will began became smart in history or something.

Paul: Yeah, well, yes. Because there’s a lot of the what happens now is that people want to make a conspiracy against another person saying, you guys thought that beyond the horizon, there was nothing and people fell over it. And that was, that was never the case. People know exactly what because we were around. But the literary movement that was quite big in the late 1800s. And there’s there’s a few big names. I mean, Washington, Irving is one of them in the late 1800s. There’s some French authors, some British authors and some US authors. But keep in mind, the French, British and US authors that are mentioning that some of you may even know they’re all Protestants, and they were anti Roman Catholic. So what they wanted to promote, and the conspiracy that they wanted to start off by, by doing it by writing all of these things in their in their books, was that the Roman Catholic Church strived to make people ignorant. And during the Middle Ages, that was, that was the writing.

Cory: And it is our it is our it is our personal responsibility, you know, to make sure the world knows that it’s flat. Well, that’s, that is wild. I didn’t know that that was a Protestant creation.

Paul: It was it was a Protestant creation, because they, I mean, it was just a huge clash between the Roman Catholics and the Protestants. And in the 1800s, these Protestants wanted to come up with some sort of way to make the Roman Catholic Church look really bad. And they said they did it by saying, the Roman Catholic Church spread and strived to make people ignorant during the Middle Ages by telling him that the world was flat, but it was literally, it was literally a literary movement in the 1800s. So it was something completely if you go pre 18 pre 1820, 1830. Nobody ever mentioned that the flat worlds there’s no mention a flat world anywhere.

Cory: Exactly. Yeah. Because I mean, who would be fine, who wouldn’t be? That’s, that’s great. That’s a wonderful little tidbit of history. That’s, that’s good to know.

Paul: It’s good to know, for the second podcast coming up. Because when we do talk about Dante’s Inferno, and how it’s laid out, and what it looks like, it’s round. So Dante made Inferno and the universe and our world round, hell is in the middle of the world, because it’s round, like a like a, like a like a soccer ball. So in the soccer ball, there’s Lucifer, so it’s round. So it’s kind of neat. How many people sit. But how did Dante in the 1200s, how did he come up with that idea that the world was round? Well, the world was round people world was round, we knew it for only became flat in the 1800s in the late 1800s.

So let’s move on. Because I want to get to the mid 1200s, which, which is where a lot of chaos starts happening. You have these guilds that are moving ahead, everybody’s paying their taxes, you have the eight major was that I mentioned, you mentioned to you before, and don’t forget, if you cannot work, unless you’re part of one. That means it’s illegal to work and not be part of the guild and not pay taxes and your dues. So that was kind of cool. But the guilds were really led by the merchants, because remember, I told you before the executive power was, was in the hands of the aristocrats. Exactly. Yeah. In the in the Merchant cash. Yeah. aristocrats of cash. So they really don’t care about about working and being part of a guild, but the merchants do, because the merchants said, in order for us to have power, we have to be part of these guilds. Yeah, so it now we have like this fight between the aristocrats passing the laws and Florence, and everybody who was part of these guilds, who was against the aristocrats passing the laws, but you can’t just get angry at the people passing the laws, because they’re gonna screw you. So you got to find a right way to fight them. Yeah, and make things go your way. And then things get even a little bit more crazy, because now we have to get into the Ghibellines and the Guelphs, and there are two movements like Republicans and Democrats, right. So you have the Holy Roman Emperor, who was state driven, who believed in let’s say, I don’t know, capitalism, everything comes together under my control. That was the Holy Roman Emperor. And most of them were French or German, versus the Pope and the Pope. Were the Guelphs. So yeah, if you like the Pope, you got to be a wealth. And if you like capitalism, and you like everything coming together, then you got to be a Ghibelline.

Cory: So this divide between church and state would not affect Italy’s history in Italy in the future in any way. Sorry, I’m jumping ahead. I got excited.

Paul: No, but that’s cool, though. Because what you have to understand is that you can believe in capitalism, but believe in Christ.

Cory: Well, this is yeah, here’s another another interesting thing, too, is that, you know, this, you know, we speak about we’re talking about capitalism right now, but as a sort of, capitalism, the way that it’s not capitalism, the way that we think of it in terms of, you know, we have this perspective today of this like globalized economy, and it being this sort of ideology that we live inside of, and then it was something you know, it was an ideology that was was in conflict with a religious ideology, which is, yeah, something that lorded over the land for so long, because prior to this wealth and influence that we’re talking about. You know, prior to all of this, the church had all the power because the thing that you the power comes from the word and the belief in the faith. And once money starts getting mixed into things, then, you know, faith can be a little secondary.

Paul: Or that point when when the money comes into play, like you said, I don’t know if you notice, but, Charlemagne is the first Holy Roman Emperor, right. And he’s, he’s literally in the year 800, flat, like perfect on the year 800 on the dot. But you could only become the Holy Roman Emperor, if your crown that by the Pope. Ah, so you understand very well that the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor are really buddies that you have to be fun, because you cannot become a Holy Roman Emperor unless the pope crowns you that the Vatican. And by the way, when I say that, again, I know what’s popping into most people’s heads right now that are listening to us. They’re thinking St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, right? And that’s not there. In this conversation that we’re having. And they didn’t even know.

We’ve been jumping around history so much. So the Romans built coliseums and aqueducts and stuff like that, but the Romans built roads. So and you know, the same to all roads lead to Rome. Yes, Rome. So there, there were roads, there were tons of roads and they were well paved with Cobblestone and they were, they were they were pitched in the right way so that rainwater wouldn’t get into it and ruin all our water like our potholes today, here in the Northeast. They paved roads that are still there today, and we can pave a road today that will last 50 years for crying out loud. So they had roads. They, they had things that worked hand in hand and coexisted together, and Dante believed this as well. I believe in the big picture, but I also liked to go to church and I like to believe in the Pope.

Cory: Stay tuned for part two of our series where Dante Alighieri makes his entrance into our four part series on Dante, the inferno and Rodin’s gates of hell. For more information about Paul Costa and experiencing one of his magnificent tours firsthand, visit There will be a link in the description of this podcast. And for more on this series, visit our blog at and give rate fast expresses spin and

Medical Sham Peer Review: A Guide to Identifying and Stopping this Predatory and Illegal Behavior

 Every human institution has the potential for corruption, this includes the medical field.  

Corruption usually happens when there’s an element introduced to the system that allows for bad actors to exploit power, namely, the ability to operate under “confidentiality” without accountability or the option for an appeal. A particularly excellent example of this situation in the medical field is something known as “Sham Peer Review”.    

This blog article will discuss sham peer review, its causes, its far reaching consequences, and what to do if you’re a medical professional who feels as though this is happening to you.   

Continue reading Medical Sham Peer Review: A Guide to Identifying and Stopping this Predatory and Illegal Behavior