Wednesday, 31 October 2007
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
Now I'm not going to do this for you. I'm simply going to give you the pairs of words and let you do the associating. Here goes (and I'll start with an easy one):
Borghezio - buttplug
Larry Craig - body snatchers
bars - pottery
circumcision - Paris Hilton
Ratzinger - very dark cave
fatwa - eucharist
heritage - dementia
Rupert Everett - soap
I'll be testing you in the weeks to come. Don't let me down.
Men who fold: 12 (48%)
Women who fold: 5 (20%)
Men who crumple: 3 (12%)
Women who crumple: 5 (20%)
None of the above: 0 (0%)
Until the rush of female voters (5) of the last few days, the first datum to be gleaned was either that more men than women visit the site or that men are more prepared than women to vote on such a delicate issue. The final difference, though, is trivially small (60% against 40%), so let's move on and see how they voted.
Well, an overwhelming majority of men do tend to fold, so no surprise there. It would be fascinating to track down the nationality/age/sexuality/political allegiances of the three male crumplers (you know who you are), but not really necessary. Twelve out of fifteen is conclusive enough for me. Obviously, it would be interesting now to know how many sheets they each fold at any one time, but there are limits to what a poll of this nature can achieve.
The most startling result for me is that women divide right down the middle, with five folders and five crumplers. This goes against all my previously conducted field research, to such an extent that I wonder if the poll has been, in some way, tampered with. In fact, the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that my poll, ground-breaking in its small way, has been deliberately skewed. Well, the truth will out. This tiny seed has been sown. Now let it grow.
If you think that the state of the world today has anything to do with some roundabout interpretation of Leviticus - congratulations, you're right. In fact, if you go to pretty much any epoch in the entire span of human history, even those that predate Christ, I bet you can find SOME evidence that backs up the idea that the End Times are at hand.
If you'd expand your hilariously myopic view of reality, you'd see that, among many other things:
1. Fires are extremely common in Southern California, even ones of this magnitude. I'll bet all of the past ones coincided with some sort of homosexual legislation, come to think of it. I bet they also coincided with a homosexual being discriminated against or being hurt in a hate crime. Which one is God punishing us for?
2. Homosexuals are everywhere. There is always SOME sort of Gay Agenda being enacted, be it anti-discrimination law or affirmative action, and this happens all across the nation - and indeed, the world. Why God would set San Diego on fire for a few days as a message to anyone regarding homosexuality implies that God is weak or stupid, or self-defeatist, none of which are possible.
3. Regarding the Coincidence post: Yes. Yes, it can be mere coincidence. That is exactly what it is. If you looked for the entire body of current events, you would see a whole hell of a lot that these fires coincided with beyond one or two points of political correctness. By whatever logic you arrived at your answers with, I could as easily blame these fires on the Red Sox winning the World Series. (God is omniscient, he can start the fires ahead of time to coincide with their coming back from a deficit against the Indians.)
Get over yourself. God isn't punishing anyone for anything, because he doesn't exist, and even if he did he wouldn't bother killing and evicting innocent people - in his own house no less! - with a poorly-aimed fire because somebody, somewhere, is marrying men to each other. Your beliefs are utterly senseless, and you're insane. Good day.
Percect, isn't it? Thank you, Anonymous.
Sunday, 28 October 2007
"Jai Clare’s stories are filled with the disaffected, those who kick against their everyday lives, who crave the mystic when seeking their spirituality, and who are desperate to be alone as much as they are desperate to be with someone. Whether in North Africa, Greece, or Britain her characters’ concerns remain the same. To find meaning in the universal and the personal, through transient sex or emotional depth. All told with a fluid intensity of prose that cuts to the heart of them, lays them bare to misfortune and fortune, and stands them waiting on the brink of discovery."
Want to know more? Click here.
Saturday, 27 October 2007
"Am I ever going to have a better relationship with my father?" another woman asks.
"No," Sylvia replies. "He's narcissistic. He has sociopathic tendencies. Forget it. There's a darkness there."
"Thank you, Sylvia," she says.
Sylvia seems to be psychically diagnosing a lot of people with narcissistic personality disorder today.
"Will you tell me exactly the time and place my father died?" the next woman asks.
"Ten years ago in Iowa," Sylvia says.
"Iowa?" says the woman, surprised.
"I'm the psychic," Sylvia snaps. "I'm telling you. Iowa."
"Thank you, Sylvia," the woman says, cowed.
The next woman asks, "What happened to my dog? Is she still alive?"
"No, honey," Sylvia says.The woman bursts into tears.
Read the whole thing. It's worth it. And if you'd like to buy one of the old fraud's inspirational books (titles include: Christmas in Heaven, Animals on the Other Side and, for only $14.95, God, Creation and Tools for Life), just click here.
He rose to the bait, though, when she mentioned recent criticism of his rock-star lifestyle, and came out with the old chestnut about how it wouldn't make any difference if he distributed his fabulous wealth among the deserving poor, it would just be a drop in the ocean, and why didn't his critics fuck off and do something useful with their lives. Obviously this morally complex issue has been discussed in depth with friends like Bono, Johnny Depp, er, David Bowie...
She also asked him what he thought about the recent Trevi fountain incident. He said the red was a beautiful red and wanted to know the name of the artist. When Bignardi explained that the dyer's hand, in this case, belonged to a right-wing activist with a criminal record for political violence, he said - wait for it - art is art, whatever. Oh God, he must have read my blog!
Friday, 26 October 2007
men nakid holding each others winky and sucking each others winkys.
Worryingly, this blog was the first site to appear, despite the fact that I've never - before now - used the word winky (or, for that matter, spelt naked with an 'i'). I'm followed by the blog of someone called The Jaded Skeptic, which looks rather interesting. And 47 other sites, none of which look remotely titillating. Clearly, a frustrating morning for our intrepid Googler.
Oh God, I remember now. Tinky Winky, the sexually ambiguous Teletubby. Why? Why?
And if you do, it'll be too late.
One. Rome's court of assizes decided that there was no case to be made against the murderer of Nicola Calipari, the Italian secret service agent who was shot while helping kidnapped journalist Giuliana Sgrena leave Iraq. Who was the murderer? An American soldier called Mario Lozano. Whatever the truth behind the events of that night (and without a trial it's unlikely we'll ever know what happened), it's hard not to see this as an act of capitulation to the United States government.
Two. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican's secretary of state, announced that people should 'stop it'. He was referring to Curzio Maltese's inquiry in la Repubblica into how much the Vatican costs the Italian state. The most recent instalment, published a few days ago, looked at the ora di religione, obligatory in all Italian state schools although not for students, who can, if they or their parents wish, opt out. This isn't as easy as it sounds. The hour of religion (i.e. catholicism) is always timetabled mid-morning, rather than at the start or end of the school day; those students who choose not to take part - some of them as young as six - are usually told to 'wait in the corridor'. Alternatives? There are no alternatives. Comparative religion? Stop it!
This is already bad enough, in a country which now has half a million children from other countries and cultures in its public educational system, not all of them catholic. What's worse is the way the teaching of the hour is financed. Religious teachers are chosen by the local bishop, side-stepping the time-consuming and exhausting obstacle race of national competitions all other teachers have to undergo. They're paid, though, by the state, and their salaries cost something like €1 billion a year; in terms of occult financing to the catholic church, this is second only to the otto per mille scam I've posted about before. Not only that - they have tenure in a country where a significant part of the teaching is conducted by precari, teachers, often in their forties or fifties, who struggle from short-term contract to short-term contract, their holidays unpaid, their pensions rights undermined, their chances of a mortgage or bank loan seriously restricted.
Finally, as salt in the wound, they're actually paid more than their equivalent non-religious teachers, as a result of laws passed more than 25 years ago, laws that are still being contested in Italian courts by their lay colleagues.
No wonder Bertone wants Maltese to shut up.
Thursday, 25 October 2007
Other people whose birthdays coincide with mine and the entire caboodle include Diana Dors, 'Weird' Al Jankovic and Ned Rorem. For a complete list (and further proof that astrology is a distinctly inexact, er, science) click here.
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
In Italy, an almost identical product in terms of active ingredients (paracetamol) is called, wait for it, Tachifludec. Apart from the middle syllable, the name tells you nothing except that the stuff inside the box is medicinal. It doesn't coax or comfort; it doesn't do anything but distinguish what's in this box from what might be in the one next to it. It is not, in other words, a publicist's dream. Granted, there's a silhouette of a mug on the front and a picture of half a lemon, but the general look is 1960s clinical; you can see that, whoever designed the box, their heart wasn't in it. Interestingly, neither the box nor the sachets inside have any information on how to use the stuff. For that you need to read the closely printed four-paged sheet of information inside, which I no longer seem to have. Even there, the how is lost in columns of what that might mean something to a specialist, but leave an everyday flu sufferer woefully uninformed.
And that's the other difference. Chemists' in England are, essentially, supermarkets. In Italy they're more like designer boutiques. No other kind of Italian retail outlet has quite the same aura of wealth. My local chemist's, until recently lined in sumptuous prestige hardwoods with satin glass shelves in eau-de-nil and touches of burnished aluminium here and there, has just been made over. All surfaces are now protected by heavyweight slabs of marble, it has a multi-layered false ceiling Borromini might have designed, and bullet-proof automatic doors that slide open with an affluent hiss the minute you approach them. Money's been thrown at it, and thrown again, until it won't stick any more. In the heart of this shrine to conspicuous expenditure, like serving vestals, are the chemists in their starched white coats, their voices low, their origami skills exquisitely honed as they take the box of Tachifludec and wrap it in a pre-cut rectangle of paper, and fold in both ends, and apply just a touch of sellotape. Voilà.
Sunday, 21 October 2007
The event that triggered this post is the news that Clemente Mastella, Italy's minister of justice, is being investigated for a series of crimes, including the abuse of his office and membership of secret associations (read: masonic lodges), in connection with an inquiry into the activities of one of his chums, a certain Antonio Saladino, a powerful entrepreneur, connected to the world of politics, the church and, it's said, organised crime, as well as being ex-owner of a temping agency called Why Not. Why not indeed?
In a normal country a minister of justice who found himself under investigation would, at the very least, remove himself until the investigation was concluded. But Italy isn't a normal country. Mastella's first reaction was to attempt to remove not himself, but the investigating magistrate, Luigi De Magistris. In a normal country, De Magistris would have sought redress within the structure, and probably found it. In Italy, he went on prime-time television to defend his position. In a normal country, this would have been seen as inappropriate. In Italy, it's absorbed into political discussions of a Byzantine complexity as to how long the Prodi government can survive. Because, of course, if Mastella goes, or is forced to go, he'll take his 1.4% (yes, that's right - 1.4%) with him and the government will fall. At this point, his innocence or guilt is irrelevant. In a normal country, a man whose party contrives to win 1.4% of the popular vote and whose attitude towards the morality of the state and its representatives is notoriously elastic, would not be minister of justice in the first place.
In Italy, he is. In the meantime, De Magistris has been taken off the case.
Saturday, 20 October 2007
And I think it looks fabulous.
Thursday, 18 October 2007
Probably gave out straight 'A's in rubber technology.
I got my copy today. Naturally, the first thing I did was read my own story. Now I’ll read yours… See you at the party!
This was his response:
Ah, sadly I can’t read your story as you attended Cambridge and I have a single-person boycott against all Oxbridge literary output (too much of it, too easily published), but nevermind, enjoy the party.
I would have left it at that, but someone called Tom interceded on my behalf:
Kennedy, will you please control your vituperative urges. Wait until you’ve met him before you insult him …OK, maybe if he was from Oxford. But Cambridge is fine.
Kingfelix, now revealed as Jason Kennedy, replied:
I did not insult him, I rebuffed him.
At this point, foolishly, I commented:
Your loss, boyo.
To which Kingfelix responded:
Of course, those of us who did not attend Cambridge are always incurring losses of one sort or another.
As far as I was concerned, that was the last of it. But I was unwise enough to mention, in a post about the NW15 launch, that I’d enjoyed Tod Hartman’s piece in the anthology. Kennedy, ruffled, rose to what he presumably saw as bait and intervened:
The boy's reading was excruciating and his story has less jokes and of a lower quality than my own story.
Ah, but he works at Cambridge!
Once again, the wisest policy seemed to be to ignore this. Kennedy’s issues with Cambridge and apparent conviction that praise of anyone else’s work automatically implied unfavourable criticism of his were outside my remit. Nonetheless, I continued to visit his blog every now and again, and enjoyed his posts in much the same way I enjoy John Fowles’ journals, for their self-effacing wisdom and intellectual modesty. And what should I find there a few days ago but news that his story from NW15 is about to be translated into Chinese? I click on comments with the intention of congratulating my fellow-contributor and find this:
I thought the fact my story is about work, rather than the gay scene in Tuscany as experienced by a Cambridge man… (yes, it is tough to accept that such a story and author profile has an easier time reaching market, but there you go).
It isn’t quite a sentence (just as nevermind isn’t quite a word and less jokes isn’t quite grammar), but the gist of it is clear enough. He’s referring to me. And now I’m beginning to get irritated. My first thought is that, if he had been to Cambridge, he would probably have known that Rome, the setting of my story (which you can read by clicking on Entertaining Friends here, by the way), isn’t in Tuscany but Lazio, an altogether less glamorous (as in Cambridge-y) region. My second thought is that no one who has been to Cambridge in the last half-century would refer to himself as a Cambridge man. My final thought is that the person who wrote this knows nothing about me, has no intention of finding out anything about me because that might shake his convictions, and that these convictions are, essentially, racist because rooted in ignorance of the worst, most wilful kind. It’s the kind of mindset that assumes Africans have rhythm, or that Jews are scheming and mendacious. It assumes that someone who has been to Cambridge has floated to success on a cloud of privilege. In my case, it assumes wrongly.
Kennedy was born in Tamworth, the son of an engineer. (You see, unlike him, I’ve done my homework.) I was born, just down the road, in Lichfield, the son of a quantity surveyor. I went to a series of state schools and then, with no assistance from my last comprehensive, won a scholarship to Cambridge, which I attended on a full grant. Cambridge may have been, and may still be, a bastion of privilege, but it never made me feel that I wasn’t entirely within my rights to be there. Since then, I’ve travelled and cobbled together a living in a variety of ways, much as Kennedy seems to have done. I’ve been writing throughout this time and now, a week away from my 54th birthday, I’m about to publish a novel, the sixth I’ve written over a twenty-five year period.
I found my first agent after sending a manuscript, blind, to Cape. The editor who read it (Neil Belton, not a Cambridge connection) turned it down after 18 months, but recommended I get in touch with AP Watt, literary agents. They tried, unsuccessfully, to sell it and, soon after, we parted company. I entered a short story competition organised by the Independent of Sunday and Bloomsbury and was among the winners, without any mention being made of my degree or its origin. My second agent (Malcolm Imrie, not a Cambridge connection) worked hard to sell a novel, but was unsuccessful. My third (Isobel Dixon, not a Cambridge connection, although she lives there) was more successful, selling a novel of mine to an editor at Picador (Sam Humphreys, not a Cambridge connection).
As far as I know, the only use (in the vulgar, self-aggrandising sense Kennedy intends) that my degree has been to me is to facilitate entry into the staff room of one or two cowboy language schools – hardly a glittering prize.
Kennedy might not like my story for a number of reasons. He might have problems with what he refers to as the ‘gay scene’; he might see Italy as irredeemably fey and bourgeois when compared with the grittiness of Guatemala. He might assume my short story is an autofiction, as the French say, and that I and the narrator are one, and equally despicable. But to dismiss my work and me, out of hand, as ‘such a story and author profile’ in the public space of his blog, and to do so without even having the courtesy to name me, is indefensible.
Tuesday, 16 October 2007
MediaWatchWatch was set up in January 2005 in reaction to the religious campaign against the BBC's broadcasting of Jerry Springer: the Opera.
We keep an eye on those groups and individuals who, in order to protect their beliefs from offence, seek to limit freedom of expression. And we make fun of them.
If you have any information, email The Monitor.
Monday, 15 October 2007
I'll be posting photos over the next few days. In the meantime, this is a pre-party shot of the living room.
Mgr Stenico admits inviting a man whom he met on a gay website to his office, across the piazza from Saint Peter’s Basilica, after expressing an attraction to sado-masochism. What he did not know was that the young man was working for a TV investigation on homosexuality among Catholic priests and went to the tryst with a concealed video camera. The footage was shown this month by La 7, the national TV channel.
It shows the young man entering the lift to Mgr Stenico’s office and then speaking with the priest in his office. The faces and voices are heavily disguised to respect privacy laws but with the help of subtitles the topics being discussed are obvious.
Mgr Stenico asks the man, “Do you like me?” and tells him that he is very good-looking. When the young man expresses fears that having sex would be “a sin in the eyes of the Church”, the priest replies: “I do not feel it would be sinful.” Drawn on the subject of sado-masochistic sex, the monsignor says that these are “inner choices, the psychological basis of a personality”. The young man continues to raise moral and religious objections to actually having sex, until the priest becomes irritated, says that he has no time left and takes him back to the lift. On parting, the Monsignor tells him that he is “really tasty” and that he can telephone him or send him a message.
One of the most amusing aspects of the whole story (and there are so many: I must find out what 'really tasty' - a detail omitted from Italian reports - is the translation of,) is Stenico's claim that gay men prey on priests. This is rather like saying that hedgehogs seek out busy roads, or rats, traps.
Oddly enough, Stenico's website, in which he discusses, among other things, the vocation of marriage, is currently unavailable. I suspect the Vatican is more efficient than the GOP at making sure this kind of story will not run and run.
Friday, 12 October 2007
We all have to sign a petition to force Google to remove from their websites lists the website:
This site is devoted to anti-Semitism, hate of Jews and so, with false articles and researches.....It is one of the first website appearing when searching Jew on Google!
To force Google to remove this website, we need to gather at least 500,000 signatures.
We already got 272,000 signatures. We need 200,000 more!
Please sign the petition at: www.petitiononline.com
I haven't clicked on the site, which sounds not that dissimilar to the numerous hate-fests that riddle the web, directed at pretty much any definable minority from Roma to gays to liberals and visited, one imagines, by people who already share the views expressed and enjoy the sizzle of seeing them on their screens and of feeling they belong to their own grubby little tribe.
Certainly, it makes me uncomfortable to think that it should appear so quickly on Google searches. But it makes me even more uncomfortable to find out that half a million people can render a site effectively invisible by forcing Google to take it off their listings. Censorship is a double-edged weapon and I'd be very worried if, having used it to remove this undoubtedly loathsome site from circulation, it were then used against, say, Joe.My.God or any of a thousand other sites or blogs that represent ideas unacceptable to large swathes of the public. It surely wouldn't be difficult to find 500,000 rabid homophobes only to happy to sign that kind of petition.
In the long run, it seems preferable to let the ranters rant than to lose the chance to express our own opinions and beliefs without being hounded into obscurity.
Thursday, 11 October 2007
An Alabama minister who died in June of "accidental mechanical asphyxia" was found hogtied and wearing two complete wet suits, including a face mask, diving gloves and slippers, rubberized underwear, and a head mask, according to an autopsy report. Investigators determined that Rev. Gary Aldridge's death was not caused by foul play and that the 51-year-old pastor of Montgomery's Thorington Road Baptist Church was alone in his home at the time he died (while apparently in the midst of some autoerotic undertaking). While the Montgomery Advertiser, which first obtained the autopsy records, reported on Aldridge's two wet suits, the family newspaper chose not to mention what police discovered (see Personal effects, page 4) inside the minister's rubber briefs. Aldridge served as the church's pastor for 16 years.
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
You can do it, you know you can. No one need ever know it's you.
Monday, 8 October 2007
Why let the government censor you when you can do it yourself?
That'll be 'authentic' as in spaghetti alla carbonara... with cream? Oh dear.
María de Jesús González was a practical woman. A very poor single mother, the 28-year-old's home was a shack on a mountain near the town of Ocotal in Nicaragua. She made the best of it. The shack was spotless, the children scrubbed. She earned money by washing clothes in the river and making and selling tortillas.No abortion isn't the only thing the sex-obsessed geriatrics in the Vatican would like about Nicaragua. It's also the only country in Latin America with a law that prohibits gay sex. Article 204 of the Constitution imposes sentences of up to three years for sodomy. But you don't have to buttfuck to get into trouble; all you need to do is say you're gay and happy and you can be arrested. Oddly enough, according to Nicaraguan activist, Don Pato:
That wasn't quite enough to feed her four young children and her elderly mother, so every few months González caught a bus to Managua, the capital, and slaved for a week washing and ironing clothes. The pay was three times better, about £2.60 a day, and by staying with two aunts she cut her costs. She would return to her hamlet with a little nest-egg in her purse. She bought herself one treat - a pair of red shoes - but she would leave them with her family in Managua, as they were no good on the mountain trails she had to go up to get home.
Article 204 is used as a tool to institutionalize child abuse where the many poor children and parents in this country dare not accuse the perpetrator. To accuse anyone a priest, teacher or not so wealthy land owners of male on male contact can equate to justifiable homicide in this place, and the accusing person can end up jail for libel. Nicaragua has the highest rate of underage sex abuse anywhere in Latin America.
Two laws, in other words, that strike directly at the poorest and most defenceless. As Tony Blair so famously said: I wonder what Jesus would have done.
Sunday, 7 October 2007
While they were there they had a closer look at the documentation surrounding a recent appointment. Maria Rosaria Guarini, daughter of La Sapienza's dean, Renato Guarini, became a researcher early last year after winning a concorso (competition) for the post. The specific subject she chose to present for the exam was Estimo (Estimation), taught by Professor Di Paola (sound familiar?). The first part of the exam was conducted in the Professor's private study, conveniently situated in the same building as the offices of CPC. Later parts were held in the Faculty of Architecture, where Ms Guarini, already an employee at La Sapienza, gallantly fought for the post against two other candidates, one of whom had failed to attach a list of publications to his application, while the other 'declared but failed to present three publications'. The only person to show up for the final written and oral exams was Maria Rosaria Guarini. It took a month and six meetings to give her the post, despite her failure to publish anything at all. Her sister, Paola, has been teaching at the university since October 2006 - officially; unofficially she'd been teaching for some time before that on a tecnico-amminstrativo contract. Her partner, a geologist, also teaches at La Sapienza. As Italians caught with their snouts in the truffle sack so often say: Tengo famiglia (I have a family to support)
The cherry on the cake? The deputy dean and head of the faculty of medicine, a certain Luigi Frati, whose votes were decisive in Guarini's election as dean, has also been investigated for nepotism. His wife and two children all work, you guessed it, in his faculty.
Friday, 5 October 2007
This is an administrative decision, proving once again that there are two battles to be fought. The most visible is for academic status, although that's not worth a great deal in the humanities faculties of Italy, where full professors are often unpublished (or as good as: look up S. Nuccorini in any reputable citation index) and, mercifully, unsung, except by themselves. The most irritating is the one for basic workers' rights, routinely denied us by ignorant and servile university administrations.
For details of the other awards, click here.
For my initial, over-excited, reaction to this extraordinary device, click here.
Thursday, 4 October 2007
It would be nice to think that all this free money is spent on good works. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case. The 2005 campaign (created by Saatchi and Saatchi, friends to the wise and good) showed images of the tsunami and its devastating effects. The price of the campaign? Nine million euros. The amount of aid provided by the Vatican to tsunami victims? Three million euros. In percentage terms, the Union of Jewish Communities gave twenty terms as much, despite the fact that there are no Jewish communities in the areas affected. The amount of otto per mille money actually spent on charitable works by the catholic church amounts to no more than 20% of the total. The rest of it goes on, well, other things. I'll leave you to decide what these might be, but they certainly aren't priests' wages: these have halved since 1999; the amount of tax money the church has received in these years has quintupled.
Livia Turco, ex-minister for solidarity, once suggested that the otto per mille money assigned by taxpayers to the state (around 8% of the total) be used directly to combat infant poverty, imagining the Holy See would be only to keen to back her. She couldn't have been more wrong. The Vatican peevishly accused the state of 'unfair competition' and the idea was dropped. Infant poverty is clearly Vatican business. Under Berlusconi, the state's portion was used to finance the war in Iraq and, get this, the restoration of churches. Catholic churches, naturally.
The response to Maltese's articles was immediate. Vatican house organ Avvenire called them 'one of the most colossal operations of disinformation of recent times' - unlike, presumably, the Vatican's tsunami campaign - and, for good measure, 'indecent': a common ploy when anyone dares to criticise the church, as though decency were a spiritual rather than social value. Unlike his papal predecessors, who let their underlings do the dirty work, Eggs Benedict threw one of his usual hissy fits, insisting that the catholic church doesn't ask for or expect financial favours. I'm sorry? Say that again? Even the EU begs to differ.
*Otto per mille. Italian tax payers can devolve 0.8% of the tax they pay to a religious body of their choice, or to the state. Most of the people who bother (40.86% of taxpayers) devolve it to the Vatican. The percentage of tax that isn’t assigned to anyone is divided up in the same proportions as that which is, although some churches - such as the Waldensians - refuse it. The Vatican, in other words, gets a substantial slice of revenue from people who don’t want to give it to the catholic church.
Interesting though that the Independent should consider the findings of Professors Ernst and Canter to be 'controversial'. Next thing we'll be reading that doubts about the credibility of the virgin birth or the transformation of Hyacinth, son of Amyclas, into a spring bulb are 'controversial' as well. The only thing that doesn't appear to be controversial any longer is the weight given to superstition in daily discourse. Italian news programmes talk regularly about miracles as though they'd actually taken place, which is at least as worrying as the presence of herbal 'medicines' on chemists' shelves.
Tuesday, 2 October 2007
Monday, 1 October 2007
But the pièce de résistance has to be the second paragraph. The semi-colon is presumably there to lend gravitas to its surroundings - it certainly serves no grammatical purpose. Unfortunately, it comes immediately after pallet, as in:
a) a narrow mattress filled with straw;
b) a hard, narrow bed;
c) a flat wooden or metal platform on which goods are stored.
How sophisticated is that? Nice one, Trevor.
Next thing you know he'll be wearing Prada.