Saturday, January 14, 2006

Forgot to link this...

Rocco posted an interesting piece on consistories.
And in today's news...
Jane Austen is being rebranded.
Jane Austen is to be relaunched as a romantic novelist in the style of Danielle Steel and Dame Barbara Cartland.
Her six novels are to be given glossy, pastel covers designed to appeal to women put off by the idea of reading a 19th century writer.
Mansfield Park, for example, features a couple in Regency evening dress linked by a shooting star, while Pride and Prejudice has a swallow, flowers and a bonneted beauty with her back to a whip-wielding dandy.
The editions will be subtitled "A Classic Romance", and quotes by celebrities will adorn the jackets. They will be piled high in airports and supermarkets from May.
Harriet Evans, the editor of the series, said: "Jane Austen is the fairy godmother of women's fiction and we want to take her back to her romantic roots."
The novels needed to look more relevant to women who read accessible modern fiction, she said.
But David Gildon, the pre-eminent bibliographer of Austen, feared "vulgarisation" of the classics. "I hope they are not trying to reduce them to the level of a Barbara Cartland," he said.
There was no need to reach a new audience, he said. "So many paperbacks are out there already and with all the TV and film adaptations you don't need to foist them on people's attention."
The new covers were designed by Ami Smithson, who has worked on commercial novels by authors such as Jane Green, Lisa Jewell, Adele Parks and Marian Keyes.
Miss Smithson said: "I enjoy commercial female fiction, which Jane Austen could be perceived as writing. So I took the lightest and brightest elements of those types of covers - I wanted them to seem like a covetable piece of period wrapping paper."
The Telegraph reports on Il Papa's much-commented on visits to his former apartment:
The Vatican, citadel of secrets and intrigue, has thrown up another little mystery: what has the Pope been doing on a spate of night-time missions to his old cardinal lodgings?
Over the past few weeks, the German pontiff has been seen sneaking back to his old room outside the Vatican walls three times, La Stampa reported yesterday.
At about 9pm a plain, dark car carrying 78-year-old Pope Benedict and his private secretary, Don Georg Gaenswein, swirls out of a side door of Vatican city. It then doubles round in the back streets before arriving at 1 Piazza Citta Leonina, a hall of residence for senior Church figures and the Pope's home as a cardinal for almost 24 years.
A Vatican security guard is always waiting in front of the apartments in a pedestrian zone tucked behind St Peter's Square. The Pope gets out of the car disguised in the plain black priest's robes he wore when he was the Catholic Church's senior theologian.
Wearing a black hat and with his head down, he opens the wooden door himself, as he did for all those years, and tiptoes inside followed by Don Georg.
"We shouldn't be surprised " wrote Marco Tossati, La Stampa's Vatican correspondent. "The calm existence he had before, and the most certainly more weighty one he has now are separated by just a few hundred metres; maybe the temptation is just too much even for the strong but delicate personality of Benedict XVI."
The Pope is already starting to gain a reputation for slightly eccentric behaviour and a penchant for disguise. At Christmas he delighted crowds by turning out in a red, fur-lined hat that used to be worn by popes in the Middle Ages to keep their heads warm. He has also been seen wearing red Prada shoes and pricey Serengeti sunglasses.
Discretion seems to be the catchword for the Pope's recent evening visits to the security of his old home. He does not even stop for a chat with his former room-mates, who La Stampa said, would be relieved that he no longer indulges in his old habit of playing Bach and Mozart a little too loudly.
There's also some Italian social commentary:
Italy's highest court has decided to ban the last verbal resort of the Italian elite when challenged by social inferiors only doing their job.
From now on, anyone who tries to avoid a speeding ticket or push past a difficult secretary to speak to the boss using the subtle threat, "Do you know who I am?" could be sued.
A judge in Rome's Court of Cassation this week ruled in favour of a Sicilian lawyer's organisation that disciplined one of its members for using the phrase to try to jump the queue for the photocopier.
Named only as Nicolò V, the lawyer, in a hurry and angry at a law graduate described as Concetta R for not moving aside to let him make his copies first, tried to threaten her with the class-ridden phrase: "Lei non sa chi sono io".
The woman complained of harassment to the lawyers' order of Caltagirone which found in her favour and the lawyer was duly disciplined.
Besides the hundreds of barons and countesses who still draw social respect from their title even under a republic, professionals such as doctors, lawyers and even journalists are called by their title.
"Usually the people who use this phrase are either out of touch with reality or they don't count at all," said Fulvio Sarzana, a Roman lawyer.
"Anybody who really is someone moves with a little more caution."
Gabriella Carlucci, a television presenter turned MP with Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party, was widely mocked for trying the magic line with a Roman traffic warden.
The official had stopped her silver Porsche after the last general election and was treated to the offending question.
Titles are a big deal here - anyone with a secondary (Masters) degree can call themselves 'Doctor,' whilst some professions have their associated titles. For example, one properly calls John Smith the architect 'Architect Smith'.
I couldn't help but laugh at this cartoon by Gianelli - The Pope address Cupid: 'If you don't want to be changed into a devil, be sure that they are a man and a woman.' That's a reference to some leftwing parties who are campaigning for same-sex civil unions.
This is animal cruelty.
The Times has a story about a bus fanatic who managed to 'borrow' three buses for jaunts before being apprehended.

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