The Shy Saint Hesitates Whether or Not to Apparate
The Times of Malta carries an article today with a title worthy of theonion.com – that famous online satirical paper that gave us great articles like God Wondering Whatever Happened To That Planet Where He Made All Those Monkeys. The Times article penned by Chris Peregin carried the title: Vatican wants to clamp down on fake apparitions*. Now that’s a good one for the papers. I can imagine the Vatican missive straight to heaven being opened by a perplexed Saint Peter. Benedict calls upon Peter to hold the saints and holies in reign and make sure that they are up to no tricks by conjuring a fake apparition here and a false appearance there.
Saint Demetrius is quickly told off, asked not to importune old women with a weak heart and requested to stop his habit of sudden appearances astride a horse with hooves cutting through the air. Henceforth stigmata will only be considered real if they come with the heavenly seal (vera kopja awtentikata) and women out in fields picking potatoes who hear strange messages in the air will be examined for dehydration and UV exposure before being allowed to rush to collect funds for the next sanctuary. TWFKAOL (you work that out… j’accuse stops at initials) was heard muttering that the new rules might restrict her travel plans to the south of France this summer while being slightly relieved of having to avoid Medjugorgje since the trips had begun to be stressful.
Taking advantage of the celebrations in his honour this year, the Saint formerly known as Saul of Tarsus is believed to be attending incognito a course in Digital Media Studies at the University of Hull under the auspices of Maltese blogger Toni Sant. Saul is intent on switching his new wave evangelisation programme to twitter. Twittervangelisation is expected to start in haste – and the heavenly cherubins are being enrolled to start a massive campaign under the supervision of “Heaven 2.0” CEO Steve Jobs who is expected to take up his post any time soon (this millenium – better later than sooner we guess).
It is rumoured that Pope Benedict’s special consultant on apparitions is J.K. Rowling – an expert in the magickal arts, particularly those of apparating, disapparating and expelliarimus as well as a dabbler in the art of plagiarising ideas from great authors. Nihil Obstat of course.
This has been j’accuse with tongue stuck firmly in cheek. Having irreverent thoughts so you don’t have to!
* In case you are wondering why I often do not link to Times articles it is because the link becomes redundant after a month or so and you would have to pay to read the archived article (and I’m in a grumpy mood).
the gastric flu did not spare the computer
The winds that are blowing across the Duchy are reported to be reaching 110km/h and the heavy rainfall is predicted to reach 25 litres per square meter so I guess I should consider myself lucky to have been confined in my apartment thanks to an attack of gastric flu. The last four days have not been nice but I think that the worst is past and that I should be up and running at work by tomorrow. A roundup is on the agenda seeing how I have been M.I.A for an age in blogging terms.
The freak weather is in the news everywhere. I have been entertained by the various BBC Radio Stations throughout my convalescence and all phone-ins are in true Brit styke talking about the weather. Albion is soaked in heavy rain and freezing. This is not good news for the samba and pizza party that will take place at the Emirates Stadium (sold out) tonight. Less flair and catenaccio and more waterpolo will be expected. Elsewhere and poles apart Australia experienced schizophrenic phenomenon as Melbourne melted to incredible fires (suspected arson) and North-East Australia sunk under floods. I am told that even Malta has experienced a cold spell so the home country has not been spared. The scenes outsie are amazing… whirls of snow that cannot settle because of the strong winds… I never thought I’d say this but thank god for gastric flu.
Just to be clear I was not supporting Joseph Chetchuti for the Eurovision. I did not really support anyone but was using Chetcuti’s antics to point out this pathetic fallacy of our society where everybody thinks he has a god given right to do anything for the public and in the public’s face. Claire Bonello, Matthew Vella (Matthew manages to express my thoughts perfectly) and David Friggieri all took a different angle on the whole business of divos and divas in Maltese society. David seems to think that if we were to regulate kitsch we would end up without Festas… might be true but then again we don’t need to go to extremes either and I believe the main complaint is that there is no concept of self-moderation. I mean that in the sense that I would definitely never consider of running for the Eurovision “singing” some song because I am aware of my own limits. That is the difference. What is needed is not some kafkesque Board of Kitsch Censorship but a general lift in standards (and taste). This is not an appeal for another Board to ban another Stitching (what a farce indeed!) but a search for the real standards of Maltese society.
Which brings me to the political scene. Anybody can be a politician. It’s a basic right in a democracy. Unless you are a criminal or a non-Maltese national then you are free to run for Malta’s Parliament. Same applies for the EP (only you can be an EU national too in that case). Many, many people however mistake that to mean that any Tom, Dick or Harry has the stuff it takes to be a good politician. Democracy being what it is even clowns can be elected to parliament. Given a good marketing campaign you WILL elect clowns to parliament (vide Victoria Local Council vs. Patrick il-Hanfusa). You do not need to be a clown though. Being vaguely popular for some totally unpolitical reason suffices. You can be a D.J., a highfalutin’ journalist with a chip on your shoulder or even a jack-of-all trades and master of none. Political acumen does not come into it. You just have to convince (read “fool”) enough of the people that you are the man or woman for the job. Like the Eurovision, like low cost airlines bluffs, the choice is firmly in the hands of the demos. We cannot complain if we keep getting politicians we do not like as our very own representatives.
Liberal with the Word Liberal
As if Emmy and John were not enough now we have the Nats and Labourites arguing as to what exactly is a liberal. There is not and cannot be a definition of a liberal. Think about it for a second. Both Mussolini and Lenin thought they were liberals (at least in the beginning of their career). Liberalism is not easily defined because it can fit in different categories of politics and in its strict sense the word liberal can be much more easily used to describe a policy than a political movement. Which is why the whole controversy on who is or is not a liberal is almost a lilliptuian argument on which side to break the egg. A word of advice from the old J’accuse: ignore the marketing labels… concentrate on who is saying what and look for real commitments, not vague promises.
This article and accompanying toon appear in today’s edition of The Malta Independent on Sunday.
The investigations on the miraculous landing of the United Airlines flight in the river Hudson have just concluded beyond any doubt that the accident was caused by both plane’s engines hitting birds upon take off. With the engines debilitated the experience pilot, Captain Sullenberger, had to think quick and take action in less than a minute. We have all been in situations sometime in our life when panic takes over, the brain goes into overdrive and we try all kind of irrational solutions and say all kind of irrational things. In moments of heightened tension most of us could come up with a load of gibberish at most.
Not Captain Sullenberger. The tapes of his (very short) conversation with the control tower have been released and you would have a hard time believing that this is a Captain flying an engineless plane with his landing options vanishing within 20 seconds of noticing how bad the damage is. There is a part of the conversation that is unforgettable. If there is a prize for quote of the year this one has to win it. It’s the point where the control tower guy is still shooting landingstrip options on both sides of the Hudson (last option is a landing strip in New Jersey). Captian Sully cooly dismisses each option as impossible given the condition of the plane and then informs Mr Control Tower that he may have to land in the Hudson. “Can you repeat that?” is the baffled answer of Control Tower man.. and the last words (thankfully only for the purposes of the conversation) of Captain Sully is “We’ll be in the Hudson”.
Not Only in Malta
It’s not just Malta that gets its fair share of freak sideshows when election campaigns arrive. Check out Mr Van de Camp on this Dutch program that is strangely similar to Italy’s “Le Iene”. (English Subtitles)
Ryanair’s inauguration of its latest flight out of Malta is in the news today (Malta-Trapani). Also in the news was Ryanair’s increible offer of one million seats at €5. People still question whether this policy of Ryanair’s is reasonable (not sure there). They also wonder whether Ryanair should be more clear about the fact that €5 does not include taxes and whatsnot (they should). Commenting on an online newspaper someone also commented:
By no stretch of the imagination can the € 5 cover all the Government and Airport Taxes. This goes to show that Ryanair is being aided and abetted to act in breach of competition laws and being given an unfair advantage over legacy carriers like Air Malta who have to collect and pay Government and Airport taxes making their air fares artificially inflated.
The usual rant you would say. His is not the full picture though. Ryanair’s is a commercial gamble – it has not got much to do with breach of competition of laws as it has with the defiance of costs, supply and demand. To an ignoramus like me the reason Ryanair can afford cheap flights is precisely because it cannot. Nobody can really. They are underpriced because Ryanair is gambling on slicing into huge parts of the market. It tries to get customers dependent on the “cheap” idea then runs up the ‘collateral damage’ – or extra costs.
There’s the amount of luggage, the weight of the luggage, the price of food on board, the transport to and from the airports of choice and more. Contrary to popular perception, Ryanair is not “doing well”. Rather it’s recent losses inspired newspaper titles such as “Ryanair got it wrong”. Their Shannon base in Ireland is about to have 400 jobs cut off in order to minimise losses.
The latest setback for Ryanair was during negotiations to order 400 new planes. It tried the usual tactic of bullying with numbers trying to provoke a price war between Airbus and Boeing. Airbus’ answer was simply:
We are not in discussions with Ryanair about aircraft. That is on the record. We don’t have plans to enter a sales campaign with Ryanair, which would be very expensive and very time-consuming.
Clearly Airbus sees this as nothing more than a ploy to negotiate with Boeing, and acknowledging Ryanair was likely never going to place an order with the company. The outlook is not so bad for the airline of the Harp. Despite gross incompetence over the past year with regard to hedging contracts for the price of fuel Ryanair is expected to recover though their plan for transatlantic flights might have to be shelved for now.
Next time you are on a Ryanair flight with your knees rammed firmly into the neck of the passenger seated in front of you do bear in mind that your “cheap” trip is a result of a gambit that relies on numbers, numbers and more numbers. When you realise that the costs for your flight plus collaterals cost you much more than that €5 ad you saw don’t complain… just go “baaaaa”
After all the choice is yours… and that’s what matters really.