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Boeing’s Marketing Problem

When we published a survey on the MAX among pilots of the 737 model, most journalists and industry experts we contacted were surprised that we did not believe the MAX brand would ever take to the air again.

Most journalists were taking for granted that a recertified, improved MAX would soon be flying again. It is now clear it may never do so.

Even if it passed muster with the Federal Aviation Authority, how many passengers—and at what price—would board a MAX again? Yes, you guessed.

Wild as it may sound, the MAX may now be as good as scrap metal. And there is no easy solution:

  • If the MAX is deemed unworthy, the cascading costs of such a catastrophic scenario are beyond this author’s imagination, involving indemnity for airlines and massive losses for Boeing.
  • Yet Boeing is “too big to fail”. Sounds familiar? What do you do when, roughly, half the commercial air traffic in the world runs on the airplanes made by Boeing?

These are surely extreme scenarios with no ready-made solutions to address them.

One of the most enduring mysteries of this year is why, and how, did the just-fired Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg managed to hold on to his position. The aircraft maker has suffered the worst crisis in the 103-year-old company following two crashes caused by the MCAS stability device on Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that left 346 dead.

It was high time for Muilenburg to go. Yet Chairman Dave Calhoun has the unenviable task of figuring what to do with a clearly unreliable airplane, or one not many passengers will want to fly, and restoring confidence in the company.

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The Age of the Idols

It may not be easy to determine when man left prehistory behind. For the sake of argument, this house will posit that man began to distance himself from the other animals when he began to make idols in his own image and likeness. We do not know for sure what our oldest ancestors’ ideas on the divine were. But these primitive idols (from classical Greek εἴδωλον, “image”) attest to a belief in the supernatural.

An exhibition at Ca’ Loredan, in Venice, traces them to their origins in the Mediterranean belt of civilization —from the Iberian Peninsula to Sardinia and the Cyclades— as well as Mesopotamia and the Far East by way of Arabia and the Indus Valley. The assembled collection, curated by Annie Caubet, from the Louvre, will leave the visitor with a sense of awe.

The 100 artifacts tell the story of how idols, and ideas, evolved from the “Neolithic revolution” to the Bronze age. And we see how goddesses and supreme priestesses are displaced by male deities and holy men. Sounds familiar? It should. For it coincides with the heavenly rage of Zeus and the other Greek gods against their female counterparts, and the instances of revenge by mothers, lovers and daughters against their bearded lords. Why so much fury? Around that time, men had just discovered that women were not endowed with divine powers to create life, but that it was insemination which made them pregnant. Their former goddesses had turned out to be mere humans, angry men had found out.

To modern man, the exhibit is humbling too. As Ian Tattersall, a British-American paleoanthropologist and curator emeritus of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, has said, man in antiquity already had the sensibility we have today. There can be little doubt about it contemplating the statuettes at Ca’ Loredan, in their exquisite detail, harmony and refinement. And we may wonder if there has been an even more acute regression since the time the Greek deities declared war on their women. “Idols” today —like those seen on TV— are mere humans, in flesh and blood.

Idols: The Power of the Image runs through 20 January 2019. For more information:

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How to help Mexico after the earthquake

We list below organizations and community centers providing aid and support in Mexico after the earthquake.

You may donate clothes, water and food to the following organizations:

Red Cross MexicoOxfam MexicoSave the Children Mexico, and Direct Relief

UNICEF Mexico welcomes money donations.

Topos Mexico is a rescue brigade with a track record that dates back to the 1985 earthquake and is now taking donations.

Please also help by double-checking information before inadvertently helping to spread rumors or misinformation.