And while the Cardinals are jamming in the Sistine Chapel, the Holy See has made sure that outsiders will not see or hear anything. They have installed a special jamming device in the inner sanctum. But not to worry. The whole shebang is apparently so boring that officials have not only issued a press gag order, they have also effectively muzzled the chatterboxes even within their own august company:
Today cardinals participating in closed-door deliberations ahead of the conclave adopted a five minute rule to limit the length of speeches. So far, 51 cardinals from five continents have addressed the group.
At least one participant reportedly expressed his frustration with some of the speeches.
"No matter how brilliant you may think your speech is, do we really need it?" (a soon-to-be-muzzled) Nigerian Cardinal John Oneiyekan told the National Catholic Reporter.
Meanwhile, since that other Sequester is predicted to engender miserable long lines at TSA-depleted airports, the TSA has finally decided to just admit defeat. You are now invited to bring your small knives onto planes, as well as those other travel essentials -- hockey sticks and toy baseball bats, pool cues and golf clubs. Flight attendants are said to be ticked off because space on planes is so limited to begin with. Just imagine how hard it will be to practice your drives and line up your billiards shots in those crappy cramped aisles in business class.
So thank god that shaving in airplane bathrooms will still be impossible, due to the continuing ban on razors. Ditto for box cutters. In the best tradition of Newspeak, TSA has provided a perfectly cogent, clear and sensible explanation of its thinking processes for you:
TSA continues to evolve and strengthen its multi-layered approach to aviation security – through better technology, expanded data analysis capabilities and an enhanced understanding of current intelligence. The decision to permit certain items in carry-on luggage was made as part of TSA’s overall risk-based security approach and aligns TSA with International Civil Aviation Organization Standards and our European counterparts.If it's more luxuriously spacey travel that you crave, reservations will soon be accepted for the maiden voyage of the Titanic II, brainchild of Australian billionaire Clive Palmer. Rest assured that class divisions will prevail as the Chinese-manufactured exact replica of the ill-fated luxury liner sets sail. According to The Guardian,
Palmer's current plans seem aimed at creating an Edwardian theme park on the waves where passengers will have the option of wearing period dress. In an odd move, Palmer aims to replicate the class structure of the Titanic – right down to the steerage class inhabited by poor immigrants on their way to a new life in America.
But then you realise that Palmer – who is the son of Australian silent movie star George Palmer – appears to be in love with James Cameron's movie Titanic as much as the historical ship. Instead of talking about the Titanic disaster, with its class-ridden horrors as the rich saved themselves and the poor drowned, Palmer speaks of Titanic II as a symbol of love and togetherness as if Cameron's doomed movie lovers Rose and Jack were real people.
"Titanic II is an opportunity for people all over the glove to come together with an idea. That idea of course is one of love and understanding. It emphasises the things that we have got in common, rather than our differences. A family, you know, someone to fall in love with in our lives as we travel together through time," he said.Just like in the movie, first class passengers will be encouraged to go slumming in third class, but only if they first purchase a special golden ticket. They can even mingle in Second Class amongst the dwindling middle. But the steerage peasants, in fantasy as in reality, will not be allowed to bother the plutocrats. And now as then, they will remain huddled, since Titanic II will provide only narrow, hard single occupany bunks.
Update: via Jim Romanesko, via Barry Blitt, comes this New Yorker cover of Joe Ratzinger lolling in the entitled hammock of ecclesiastical retirement:
Look closely at the placement of Joey's right hand, advises an astute tipster. He seems to be holding on to something other than his copy of L'Osservatore Romano, no? Asked for comment, Blitt remarked: "Oy vey!"