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The Air Force of the Knights Hospitaller (twitter.com)
212 points by apsec112 6 days ago | hide | past | web | 58 comments | favorite





I made me a script to load country data from Wikidata. And what do I see in the output? Weird numbers linked to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. It has zero land, two citizens but 13500 order members, 80000 volunteers, 42000 employees. And it has diplomatic relations with 108 countries—which, according to analysis by experts in whatever field this is, exhibit the signs that the order is indeed a de-facto recognized sovereign entity even though this recognition is not so firm as that of a full-blown state.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_Military_Order_of_Ma...

BTW, if we consider just the members and volunteers, the order would rank twelfth least-populous country, between Andorra and Antigua-and-Barbuda. And its population would be almost 1/5th that of the current population of Malta.


So yeah, if you ever contemplate the future Sovereign Chaebol of Samsung, I guess right here is the closest current political precedent.

Well, Samsung is already a defence contractor, they make autonomous sentry guns for the DMZ

Not just that: at least in the past, they produced artillery, helicopters and fighter jets.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanwha_Techwin

However, if the territory dispute breaks out, Hanwha may have to fight it out with Hyundai's tanks and artillery. Notably, the same Hyundai's division also produces most of South Korea's train cars and locomotives.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K1_88-Tank, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyundai_Rotem, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyundai_Wia


As I recall, Samsung, Hyundai and Daewoo are all subcontractors on the F-15K program, an f15 American jet with Korean electronics.

The citizens thing is really weird. On investigation, the cap is three max, so one slot remains.

They don't like to max this out; in that case they'd have to set up a three-way duel to the death whenever a higher-status person wanted to join.

My friend's dad is a Knight of Malta. I think he helps to build hospitals and assists with pilgrimages to Lourdes.

There is some recent controversy surrounding Malta in the Catholic world. To dive into that rabbit hole: https://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2017/01/a-note-on-sovereig...



This was a fun read. That old-timey secret orders of knights actually still exist is awesome. I'd totally want to be in such a secret cabal, except for the whole believing in religion aspect...

Not much of a secret, considering diplomatic relations with 108 countries; 80000 volunteers, 42000 employees, and 13500 order members proper.

> except for the whole believing in religion aspect...

I suspect this is not mandatory as long as the protocol is respected.


A lot of secular-minded people stay in religious organizations and communities for the perks. That said, I don't think groups like the Knights of Malta are recruiting.

Some would argue that it doesn't "still exist" but was disbanded with Napoleon's takeover of Malta in 1798 and that the "Sovereign Military Order of Malta" of 1947 was nothing but the result of some creative bookkeeping (with strong political backing)..

Its just that they are not secret. Never were. Like the freemasons - 100% in the open, but people go wild in conspiracy just because these guys' clubs keep up some funny rituals and have over time accumulated significant wealth.

I never realized there is so much interesting history behind the "Knights Hospitaller" which is kinda funny considering I've donated to a German branch of them in the past [0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe


The Johanniter are not really a branch, they are a protestant offshoot. Also, they are really young, founded in 1952.

There is also the Malteser in Germany, and that's the real branch.


You are mixing up Johanniter-Unfallhilfe and Johanniterorden. The Catholic counterpart to the Unfallhilfe is the Malteser-Hilfsdienst, founded in 1953. The St John's branch of the Order was established 1538.

I’m adding them to my country select option list. Ill assume Malta time zone.

Import your country list from Wikidata, and you'll get the Sovereign Military Order of Malta with all the rest.

Malta history is very entertaining. Much more than its almost nonexistent beaches :) . I was astonished when I discovered that they defended the island for several months with basically 3 biplanes. And whole siege is insane (same as Ottoman and French previously). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Malta_(World_War_II) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloster_Gladiator#Malta

The Maltese language is interesting: It's fundamentally a variety of Arabic with a lot of Romance language influence.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maltese_language

> Although the original vocabulary of the language was Siculo-Arabic, it has incorporated a large number of borrowings from Romance sources of influence (Sicilian, Italian, and French), and more recently Germanic ones (from English).[45]

> The historical source of modern Maltese vocabulary is 52% Italian/Sicilian, 32% Siculo-Arabic, and 6% English, with some of the remainder being French.[10][46] Today, most function words are Semitic. In this way, it is similar to English, which is a Germanic language that had large influence from Norman French. As a result of this, Romance language-speakers may easily be able to comprehend conceptual ideas expressed in Maltese, such as "Ġeografikament, l-Ewropa hi parti tas-superkontinent ta' l-Ewrasja" (Geographically, Europe is part of the Supercontinent of Eurasia), while not understanding a single word of a functional sentence such as "Ir-raġel qiegħed fid-dar" (The man is in the house), which would be easily understood by any Arabic speaker.


I also heard that modern Maltese is closest to Tunisian Arabic, which is interesting to a Tunisian like myself.

Folks might be interested in a previous HN article

"The Last True Knight of Malta" from the BBC

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18568638


This is fantastic. What do I have to do to get a Knights Hospitaller passport?

According to [1] first, you must become a member by invitation, and you need "undoubted Catholic morality and practice" and to show "merit over the years with regard to the Order of Malta, its institutions and its humanitarian works"

[1] https://www.orderofmalta.int/sovereign-order-of-malta/faq/


They only issue passports to people in charge of specific projects. Of about 13k members there are about 500 passports, almost entirely held by their diplomats or their governance members.

Also, they’re still an order of catholic knights :)


I though the same thing! ...Until I noticed this: https://www.orderofmalta.int/in-the-news/order-malta-worlds-...

...So, I'm guessing whatever the requirements, they might be a little tight. ;-)


There is so much more the KoM than meets the eye. For example, the relatively recent hubub between them and the papacy. The fact that so many heads of CIA and other countries intel agencies are KoM. That you don't have to be Catholic to join. The old connections to the templars and to masonry. It's permanent observer status at the UN. The connections of Elizabeth II to it (she was queen of Malta until 74)... the list goes on and on.

What's up with this new trend of writing long-ish form crap on Twitter?

Twitter thread author here!

Because, as others have said, you go where the people are, otherwise you're just howling into the void, and what's the point of doing it? If I only wrote on Medium, or for niche magazines, or newspapers, then there's a whole lot of people who would never discover interesting stuff.

So I do both, depending on when the mood takes me, or if the subject can work in a Twitter format (not everything can) or needs the full longform treatment. If it's the latter, then I stick it up on Medium.

Horses for courses and all that.


There is so much visual garbage on Twitter, please add links to a normal text if possible. Twitter is borderline unreadable and god forbid accidentally clicking anywhere on the page - everything just instantly closes and you get thrown somewhere randomly. Truly horrible UX/UI.

Sure - if someone pays me to!

I do this mostly for fun. So tbh the alternative here was "not tell people something interesting at all" rather than "write a longform piece about the Hospitallers".

I DO have plans for the latter. Eventually. But it requires lots of research and time, and I don't have a lot of either to spare these days.

That's something I would suggest that is always worth remembering, I would gently suggest. Writing isn't a free action. It takes time and mental energy/effort. I'd love it if we lived in a world where people would magically give me money to do that, just as I suspect artists and musicians would say the same, but that doesn't happen unfortunately!


I didn't propose to you doing anything for free or additionally inconvenience yourself. But in case if you don't have any preference for media type and if you already have a text you want to publish for free/ads, then it would be nice to duplicate it to other more sane platform, whatever - medium, lj (dreamwidth) or anything else. It was just a suggestion. And if, hypothetically, the only concern is that normal text need more time to be prepared - you can just dump all these tweets as is as a single post and it will still be more readable than in Twitter.

Why not just tweet a link to a blog post?

There is a certain immediacy and satisfaction to having bite-sized segments of your work praised and re-posted that not even Medium can fulfill.

That, and atrophied attention spans can only handle bite-sized readings at a time. If this thread was in blog form it would get a fraction of the viewership.


Gah, it was too wordy for Twitter, I scrolled to the end and back up to see that "They got an air force to circumvent Italy's limit of planes set after Italy lost WW2, but the allies/US had to circumvent because of the cold war".

That's 1 tweet. I fucking hate Twitter longforms, because my eyes have to keep hunting for the next part of the content...


If `a certain immediacy and satisfaction` is an incentive so important to dictate the medium, then the content is pedestrian, lacking substance and posted just for personal gain.

Because there is a big audience there to read it.

Fortunately this website exists: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1151832864494903296.html


This looks nice, but when you're combining a bunch of tweets it just helps you notice how choppy and disjointed the writing is— it still feels like a bunch of tweets stuck together.

Fortunately there is also the hyperlink. One can use Twitter to post said hyperlink to an article written on a webpage.

People are less likely to click through to another web page than to keep reading on the current one too.

So this is clickbait 2.0? Basically instead of incentivizing someone to click on a link to learn more, just shit out the 'more' in mediocre form right in your face.

You're rarely presented with more than 2-3 of a tweet thread at once, wouldn't really call it right in your face.

Yeah, I really don't get it. Scrolling with keyboard doesn't even work for me on the Twitter website.

You use Vi keybindings for it.

It's the same reason that people write slide decks instead of documents. Because it works.

Small chunks of information that piece together into a larger whole along a narrative timeline is the go-to document method of pretty much all of tech.


Slides work when there's like 20 of them which highlight important information. Not 200 slides each with a paragraph of text that sometimes connects with the previous statement and sometimes not.

The latter makes more sense as an blog post or article.


It's called a Tweetstorm, and @pmarca is generally held to have innovated the medium.

He hasn't posted on Twitter for some years now, so it's a stretch to call the format new...


Sentence-level data analytics?

Hear hear, this is an inefficient medium of information sharing. Its only purpose is for karma farming.

Twitter is where the adoring audience lives

It’s not a new trend at all, and it fills me with impotent nerdrage. Because sure, why wouldn’t you write a blog post in a form that encourages people to respond to individual paragraphs out of context? Makes total sense.

I think you mistyped, it's "idempotent nerdrage" otherwise it's not nerd enough

What's the difference>

EDIT: joke.

That was kind of the joke.

"After the Napoleonic wars no one really wanted to bring up the whole Malta thing with the British (the Putin's Russia of the era)"

lol what? Britain was the USA of its time, not Putin. As in, global dominant superpower.




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