CEO of Ryanair

Spare a thought for Michael O’Leary, Chief Executive of Ryanair airlines.

Arriving in a hotel in Dublin, he went to the bar and asked for a pint of draught Guinness. The barman nodded and said, “That will be one Euro please, Mr. O’Leary.”

Somewhat taken aback, O’Leary replied, “That’s very cheap,” and handed over his money.

“Well, we try to stay ahead of the competition”, said the barman. “And we are serving free pints every Wednesday evening from 6 until 8. We have the cheapest beer in Ireland”

“That is remarkable value,” Michael comments

“I see you don’t seem to have a glass, so you’ll probably need one of ours. That will be 3 euros please.”

O’Leary scowled, but paid up. He took his drink and walked towards a seat.

“Ah, you want to sit down?” said the barman. “That’ll be an extra 2 euros. – You could have pre-book the seat, and it would have only cost you a Euro.”

“I think you may to be too big for the seat sir, can I ask you to sit
in this frame please?”

Michael attempts to sit down but the frame is too small and when he can’t squeeze in he complains “Nobody would fit in that little frame”.

“I’m afraid if you can’t fit in the frame you’ll have to pay an extra
charge of 4 euros for your seat sir”

O’Leary swore to himself, but paid up. “I see that you have brought your laptop with you” added the barman. “And since that wasn’t pre-booked either, that will be another 3 euros.”

O’Leary was so annoyed that he walked back to the bar, slammed his drink on the counter, and yelled, “This is ridiculous, I want to speak to the manager.”

“Do you know exactly who I am?”

“Of course I do Mr. O’Leary,”

“I’ve had enough, What sort of Hotel is this? I come in for a quiet
drink and you treat me like this. I insist on speaking to a manager now!”

“Here is his E mail address, or if you wish, you can contact him
between 9 and 9.10 every morning, Monday to Tuesday at this free phone number. Calls are free, until they are answered, then there is a talking charge of only 10 cent per second”

“I will never use this bar again”

“OK sir, but remember, we are the only hotel in Ireland selling pints for one Euro”.

Child Custody

A seven-year-old boy was at the centre of a courtroom drama today when he challenged a court ruling over who should have custody of him.

The boy has a history of being beaten by his parents and the judge
initially awarded custody to his aunt, in keeping with child custody law requiring that family unity be maintained where possible.

The boy surprised the court when he proclaimed that his aunt beat him more than his parents and he adamantly refused to live with her.

When the judge then suggested that he live with his grandparents, the boy cried out that they also beat him.

After considering the remainder of the immediate family and learning that domestic violence was apparently a way of life among them, the judge took the unprecedented step of allowing the boy to propose who should have custody of him.

After two recesses to check legal references and confer with child
welfare officials, the judge granted temporary custody to the England Football Team, whom the boy firmly believes, are not capable of beating anyone.

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Iran and Britain’s dislocation from reality

Anyone who remains blissfully unaware of what passes in Britain for debate about Iran might like to listen here to Wednesday evening’s edition of BBC Radio Four’s The Moral Maze, on which I am a regular panellist.

The show – whose somewhat misunderstood purpose is not so much to discuss an issue in the round as test individual arguments to destruction – featured two particularly illuminating contributions by Professor Michael Clarke, Director-General of the prestigious Royal United Services Institute, and Dr David Rodin, Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, University of Oxford.

Prof Clarke, who by virtue of his position is one of Britain’s top military analysts, blithely asserted that Iran would not pass the nuclear threshold for another three to four years. On what evidential basis does he put this point so much further down the line than US or Israeli estimates? And anyway, the real point about the dilemma of whether or when to attack Iran is surely not when it might go nuclear, but at what point it becomes impossible to stop it from going nuclear.

Read more….

The real reform to Child Benefit

The British government is currently tearing itself apartover its proposal to cut Child Benefit for households where the wage-earnerbrings in more than £42,745 per year. Apparently, this is dividing the Prime Minister,David Cameron, from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.

Osborne wants to cut the benefit because a it will reducepublic spending and b it hits higher earners, thus fulfilling the Cameroons’political imperative to be seen to ‘fair’ in spreading the pain of austerity tothe better-off (you may think this is a cynical and self-defeating gimmick borrowedfrom the politics of envy in order to suck up spinelessly to the left, but there it is).

The Prime Minister, however, is queasy – as well he should be– about a further punishing the not-so-wealthy middle-class who already shouldera disproportionate burden of taxation, and b punishing stay-at-home mothers, sincetwo-earner couples whose separate incomes individually fall below the proposed ChildBenefit cut-off will still get the wretched benefit, even though their joint incomeis far above that of the couple whose sole salary happens to be above the cut-off limit.

Read more….

The civil servants are the masters now – and our democracy suffers

Islamist fanatics want rule by the sharia, their version of the law of God. They reject what they call “man-made” laws – the laws by which most nations live. For the same reason, Islamists reject democracy. It is a sham, they say, and an offence against God.

Those who support the untrammelled power of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) are the secular equivalent. They think that the European Convention on Human Rights and the Strasbourg court which enforces it are sacred. They believe these rights should be forced upon people everywhere, regardless of how anyone votes. Human rights are their sharia.

In Iran, the Guardian Council of senior clergy makes the final decision about whether anything passed by the parliament is compatible with Islamic law. In Europe, the ECHR has the same absolute authority over the decisions of all the member parliaments, including our own. True, its punishments do not (yet) involve stoning or the cutting off of hands, but the principle is the same: “We,” says the priesthood of human rights lawyers, “are in possession of the truth: no other power may stand against us.”

Read more….

Gay marriage: this is a battle the Churches will lose – and it will be a messy business

Dr Rowan Williams is getting out in the nick of time. Let’s be clear about this: the Churches will lose their fight against gay marriage becoming part of the law of the land – and it’ll be a messy business. This week various bishops have pointed out, quite correctly, that giving heterosexual and same-sex marriages the same legal status means redefining a concept that lies at the heart of religious life. Admittedly, there’s a clause in the Coalition’s “consultation” that bans gay church weddings, but that doesn’t represent any sort of solution.

Take the case of the Church of England. Lots of trendy clergy will ask to solemnise gay weddings. Happy couple, beaming vicar, chirpy guests, organist belting out show tunes – who’s going to call the police? Not the bishop, who’ll be terrified of being grilled by the right-on BBC.

For Roman Catholics the prospect is a very bleak one. Even if a liberal priest wanted to do the honours, he’d incur automatic excommunication and be out of a job. The “wedding” would be a parody of the sacrament. So a legal ban would save a lot of awkwardness.

Read more….

Francis Maude: My brother’s Aids death transformed my views on gay marriage

Mr Maude caused controversy in Conservative circles last week when he said Tory voters had to accept gay marriage if the party was to shake off its “backward looking” image.

The minister’s older brother, Charles, died from the disease in 1993, at the age of 42, never having admitted to his parents he was homosexual.

Five years earlier Mr Maude, who had long suspected his brother was gay, voted for Section 28, which banned what many in the Conservative party regarded as attempts by schools and local authorities to promote homosexuality as an acceptable family relationship.

But in an interview Mr Maude now states that the law “did not make it any easier for gay men like my brother to enter into a relationship and to be open about it. I deeply regret that. It’s one reason I support gay marriage, which is a deeply conservative idea. It’s part of the glue of people making a deep commitment to each other.”

He now says of his previous support for Section 28: “In hindsight, it was very wrong — very wrong. It was a legislative provision that came out of honourable motives. It took me some time to realise what an emblem of intolerance Section 28 had become for gay people.

Read more….