The Punt: 'Tis the season to be snowed under by spam
WE are a sentimental lot here in The Punt.
And if there is one thing that touches us, it is batch-sent corporate Christmas greetings. Even more special than the standard generic cards, with photocopied signatures, are the lovingly crafted mass-generated emails -- some of which have even added our own individual names or inserted the word 'Christmas' instead of 'Holidays' (which was in the original Microsoft template).
We think that one would want to have a heart of stone to resist such thoughtfulness. Some extra-special correspondents even link to a 'virtual' Christmas card that bears the sender's corporate logos, marketing messages and traffic-gathering tools. Cynics suggest that this is shallow, cheap marketing that borders on spam. We most wholeheartedly disagree.
Nothing says 'Christmas' to us like an unaddressed, BCC'd email adorned with images that require a right-click to download and that may have a link through to a corporate website that boosts the sender's web traffic figures. And if we frequently receive the very same email again due to a charmingly eccentric glitch which determines that we are down in the sender's database twice, all the more cheer!
There are those who say that Ireland's marketers are a shallow, unoriginal bunch. But not us.
Ryanair: the cuddly airline
Michael Cawley doesn't do nice. As the Ryanair chief operating officer and deputy CEO prepares to relinquish his executive roles in March (he'll stay on as a non-executive director), he's been telling one aviation publication how he was always told never to use the word.
"At school, I was always told not to use the word 'nice' -- I prefer 'cuddly' or 'soft', much better," he told 'Anna Aero' when asked about Ryanair's new customer-friendly focus.
Mr Cawley was also asked about plans Ryanair might have for launching routes to Russia, but downplayed any expectations. "There's a history of a lot of Irish people working in Moscow over the last 25 years. But while we applied for the Dublin-Moscow rights, it does not mean we are about to launch it. There's work we'd have to do in order to ever get Moscow going," he said.
Perhaps surprisingly, Mr Cawley also said he doesn't want to see Alitalia fail. "At Rome, there is a growing sense that Alitalia is about to fail and we wouldn't want that because that would hit our feed," he said.
"And, frankly, we don't actually like it when other airlines go out of business -- it creates a situation where everyone thinks there is loads of opportunity and we end up with too much supply, that's exactly what happened in Budapest after Malev." Nice.
Best of friends, now and forever
Poor Jose. We all get grumpy and can end up throwing a tantrum from time to time. OK, Michael didn't invite you to the bailout exit party last week. Nor did your best friend Olli get to go.
It's upsetting not being wanted, especially when you think you've helped out a friend. A friend who had money problems, who did a bit too much splurging and didn't put anything away for a rainy day.
You sweep in, give out a few tips on reigning in the finances and put them on the right path again. Then you're told to stay away when they celebrate being back on their feet again.
And then Standard & Poor's dealt you another blow. We know the global ratings agency only announced its downgrade of the European Union yesterday, but the Punt thinks you might have had an inkling on Thursday night.
You just can't catch a break.
But it's Christmas Jose. The time for good cheer, especially among friends.
Put a smile on your face and tell us you didn't mean it. We'll put this unpleasant episode behind us.
We'll see you in the New Year, cap in hand.