The Air Force of the Knights Hospitaller


212 points | by apsec112 181 days ago


  • aasasd 180 days ago

    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.

    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.

    • aasasd 180 days ago

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

    • idoh 180 days ago

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

      • jessaustin 180 days ago

        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.

    • jabv 180 days ago

      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:

      • mothsonasloth 181 days ago
        • mrandish 181 days ago

          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...

          • aasasd 180 days ago

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

            • Hoasi 180 days ago

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

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

              • subpixel 180 days ago

                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.

              • jascii 180 days ago

                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)..

                • pergadad 180 days ago

                  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.

                • freeflight 181 days ago

                  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].


                  • Tomte 181 days ago

                    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.

                    • HarryHirsch 181 days ago

                      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.

                  • quickthrower2 181 days ago

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

                    • aasasd 180 days ago

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

                    • Yizahi 181 days ago

                      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).

                      • msla 181 days ago

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


                        > 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.

                        • Cyph0n 180 days ago

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

                      • emmelaich 181 days ago

                        Folks might be interested in a previous HN article

                        "The Last True Knight of Malta" from the BBC


                        • iandanforth 181 days ago

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

                          • michaelt 181 days ago

                            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"


                            • arkades 181 days ago

                              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 :)

                              • mxuribe 181 days ago

                                I though the same thing! ...Until I noticed this:

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

                              • decebalus1 181 days ago

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

                                • garius 181 days ago

                                  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.

                                  • Yizahi 181 days ago

                                    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.

                                    • garius 180 days ago

                                      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!

                                      • Yizahi 180 days ago

                                        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.

                                    • subpixel 180 days ago

                                      Why not just tweet a link to a blog post?

                                      • netsharc 180 days ago

                                        Whatever the reason, you're a horrible person and you should be ashamed for using Twitter for an essay.

                                        Of course some others will think "Hey, that man used it effectively, I think I'll do the same!", so you've contributed to the horribleness of the Internet. Shame! Shame!

                                      • Apocryphon 181 days ago

                                        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.

                                        • netsharc 180 days ago

                                          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...

                                          • decebalus1 180 days ago

                                            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.

                                          • bcraven 181 days ago

                                            Because there is a big audience there to read it.

                                            Fortunately this website exists:

                                            • Rebelgecko 181 days ago

                                              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.

                                              • decebalus1 181 days ago

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

                                                • rtkwe 181 days ago

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

                                                  • decebalus1 180 days ago

                                                    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.

                                                    • rtkwe 180 days ago

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

                                              • Marsymars 181 days ago

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

                                                • kick 180 days ago

                                                  You use Vi keybindings for it.

                                                • 1MoreThing 181 days ago

                                                  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.

                                                  • dmix 181 days ago

                                                    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.

                                                  • samatman 181 days ago

                                                    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...

                                                    • walterbell 181 days ago

                                                      Sentence-level data analytics?

                                                      • mothsonasloth 181 days ago

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

                                                        • nmeofthestate 181 days ago

                                                          Twitter is where the adoring audience lives

                                                          • wrs 181 days ago

                                                            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.

                                                            • m3chars 181 days ago

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

                                                        • arminiusreturns 180 days ago

                                                          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.

                                                          • afterburner 180 days ago

                                                            "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.

                                                            • rapedByDicks 180 days ago

                                                              This penis of a twitter account is so fucking useless it's embarassing. What a fucking faggot.

                                                              It's surprising how easy it is to hate someone inside of 140 characters.