mercredi, avril 27, 2005

Amor Vincit Omnia

Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk everything, you risk even more.

Erica Mann Jong

Sometimes it is good to let other people say what you are thinking. So there you have it. My thoughts for today come from a feminist. It's nice to know that there are women in this world who share your train of thought.

dimanche, avril 24, 2005


And the wee man has finally kicked into the habit! I could not but share the news with with all of you. I came across (rather serendipously) a tentative, almost shy, blog by my man in Scotland better known as JBB. He recounts that he will take up blogging in order to avoid nights out boozing. Now that's as bad an excuse as I have ever heard. But whatever... anything to get Stan blogging on the WWW.

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This is a pic I guess the pygmy will like. Meanwhile all of ya... pop over and tell the wee man to keep it up. (if anything just because I know he will hate me for this!). I love the name... could it be Knee-Bother too? Who knows...

anyway for the umpteenth link...

looks like I've scooped Robert at Wired Temples on this one!

samedi, avril 23, 2005

It's the e-mail stoopid!

THE regular use of text messages and e-mails can lower the IQ more than twice as much as smoking marijuana. Or so scientists seem to be saying. How will we break this news to our politicians? Joe Saliba and Jason Micallef should be banned from using PCs. They risk total IQ annihilation.

I read this article in The Times and immediately began to understand all the recent memory lapses and lack of concentration I have at work. I must admit I feel vulnerable to this infomania business. Scary no? Well if you have any similar experiences and want to share them..... don't.

Just head off to Amsterdam and you know what to do there... no I don't mean piss!

This is a recent photo of me (about one hour recent). Don't I look sick of infomania?
Always better than nymphomania anyway!

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there ... for my fans and adulators...

PS (non-sequitur aside) Don't you just think that Norah Jones and Ray Charles (Here We Go Again) combined are magnificent?

vendredi, avril 22, 2005


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Just watched it. If you haven't...just go out there buy it, watch it, rent it, steal it or at least buy the book (which I can imagine is probably better than the picture).

Is Merlot really so bad?

"It's a Pinot Noir"
"Noir? Why is it white?"

jeudi, avril 21, 2005

Too much Pope will kill you�

Mark tells me he will not be blogging about the Pope. He finds the popularity of the subject irritating and is miffed by the non-believers are poking their nose in the affairs of the church. Funny. I cannot seem to think of anything else to blog about. It's just that this is not just about the church; not just about an absolutist head of a religious system. The new Benedictine Era is about so much more.

It's about Europe�
The new Constitutional Treaty is facing immense difficulties. K tells me that the most recent survey (following Chirac's TV antics) puts the Non ahead of the Oui at 52%. Although the result is far from definite, the perplexity and m�fiance with which the French are looking at this Treaty should provide food for thought. An article in today's Il Messaggero, analyses the undercurrents of this possible French refusal. The problem is that the French European vision was forged by De Gaulle and was intended to integrate Christian and illuminist tradition. The Gaullist idea was fashioned by first accepting Catholicism in the republic while at the same time adding to the roots of a France of Cathedrals and Saints the heritage of the universal rights of man. This cultural synthesis was discarded (or Giscarded, if you allow me) by Chirac's France. The lay state was imposed legislatively and through the denial of the Christian roots in the Treaty. The insistence of a European concept purely founded on positive rights left no place for tradition and common roots.
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Charles De Gaulle

The people do not seem to like this new Treaty. Its potential rejection poses an interesting question that might follow. A rejected treaty might be redefined. It might then be the time to ask the question whether we want a Europe that is exclusively a Europe of rights that places nations on an abstract level of equivalence or a Europe that recognises its traditions that also recognises the particular identities of the nations that form it?

Which brings us back to Benedict XVI. His Holiness will definitely not be sitting at the sidelines should the Treaty debate reopen. This will be an opportunity to stand against radical illuminism�an opportunity to reaffirm the limits of reason when it comes to the morality of man. Benedict XVI has already declared his willingness to renounce the guarantee to institutional rights given to the Church under article 52 of the Treaty � and I am sure he would be able to take home some results.

And Self-Interest?
Troilus commented on my Holy Smoke blog and worried about the self-interest attitude the new Pope might take. If I take that self-interest to mean a specific agenda � an agenda to fight for survival of the relevance of the Papacy in today's world then yes, there might be something to worry about. Here is a quote from an interview [la Repubblica] with Ratzinger when still Cardinal. In answer to a question about the relationship between law and morals his statement was not along the expected lines of morality creating law� rather the opposite�

"Il diritto crea la morale o una forma di morale, perch� la gente comunemente ritiene che quanto afferma il diritto sia anche moralmente lecito."

Interesting. Worrying. Normal people are weak, uninformed, irresponsible, and therefore construct their morals on the basis of a law and therefore on what political power dictates. Is our new Pope going to be influencing the political powers in an effort to get the right moral results?

From il Cardinale to il Cavaliere

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Silvio Berlusconi

So the Christian Democrats have done it. Silvio's government is down (Sorry, we are experiencing a temporary shutdown, the government should be up and running as soon as possible). Pier Ferdinando Casini has declared that either the new government is formed out of the same majority as the 2001 government or else it will be fresh elections. All is not quiet on the roman front. We shall see. We shall see.

mercredi, avril 20, 2005

Holy Smoke

It�s done. It�s Benedict XVI. I cannot resist joining the myriad comments, blogs and whatnot about our latest Papam. All is being said and much is being done. The oohs and aaahs reverberated around the Vatican Square (and must have also done so across the Catholic world) when the face of former Cardinal Ratzinger appeared at the balcony... the anointed one is German. Worse still he is the man who has been billed the Grand Inquisitor of Mother Rome. Another nickname of the man is �God�s Rottweiler�: many would deem it a fitting nickname for one who find�s homosexuality evil and other religions deficient.

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More interesting than these caricaturisations of the man are his philosophical observations. In his last sermon before he became Pope, Cardinal Ratzinger stated that "We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognise anything as definitive and has as its highest value one's own ego and one's own desires". Do you disagree? I don�t, and am glad that we have a Pope that might now try to tackle this new evil of the XXIst century. I spoke of emotional drain in an earlier blog. Another drain we need to follow closely is value drain - the same value drain that has made all of us electors of popes.

I laugh when I hear calls for democracy in the church. Now we have to hear the grumbles of all the people who wanted a pro-homosexual, pro-women, pro-abortion, pro-contraceptives pope. Incredible isn�t it? It�s like me getting miffed about some Ayatollah�s extremist position and hoping for a more Catholic Ayatollah next time round. I understood some time ago that the church and its leader(s) bear a huge responsibility in shepherding their flock. The positions the church takes are not intended to safeguard the strong sheep among us but the weakest. In this respect I can understand and almost condone the snail-like pace the Church has in what we call development.

Dogma. Catechism. Values. Heavy words. Responsibilities. The Church has its role. Its leader, no matter how we describe him, has an important (very important) role in today�s world. Someone has to be coming up with new ideas, inventing new pills, new clones, new discoveries - meanwhile on the other hand we also need the brakes, the conscience, the spiritual moral that keeps us aware of our responsibilities to each other and to future generations.

So, for what its worth, I am behind Benedict XVI. It�s an ugly world out there. God knows how we need a good pope.

Viel Glueck Benedict... you sure need it!

Io credo che a questo mondo
esista solo una grande chiesa
che passa da CHE GUEVARA
e arriva fino a MADRE TERESA
passando da MALCOLM X attraverso
Arriva da un prete in periferia
che va avanti nonostante il Vaticano*

- Jovanotti, Penso Positivo

* I believe that in this world
there is only one church
that passes through CHE GUEVARA
and finishes at MOTHER THERESA
passing through MALCOLM X
and arrives to a priest in the suburbs
who goes on working notwithstanding the Vatican

vendredi, avril 15, 2005

I can't wait .... for the weekend to begin

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Every morning on my way up to my second floor office at the Court of Justice I pass a sign on the elevator warning me not to use it in case of fire. It is incredible how we would ignore such signs in our everyday routine. They become inbuilt and stop being registered after a while having entered the part of the brain that runs and registers on automatic. I would ignore the sign too was it not in a language that is alien to me. Instead, since the words do not make immediate impact to me � they have to be processed each time before being shelved once more into the subconscious � I read them almost each time. The fact that the sign is placed just above the button for the elevator must have its effect too.

Well. Im Brandfall Aufzug Nicht Benutzen. Do not use the elevator in case of fire. Of course not. But does that "of course not" register in a moment of panic? What happens when the fumes choke, the flames burn and the adrenaline rushes? Do you have time to think of the nicht benutzen while hanging on to dear life? At which point do you chose the maximum risk of gravity and jump out of the sixth floor window?

These thoughts rushed to my mind on that fatal September 11th and came back during the reportage of the Paris Hotel tragedy. It's sad� even sadder when safety measures are not followed. Yes. That irritating Health and Safety Inspector. One look at and its gallery of farces in our small island and the flagrant violation of safety measures comes out in the open. Once again, we are so good as a people to aggregate into some temple of worship and collectively mourn loved ones who passed away showering eulogies upon their departed souls. If only that effort could have been channelled in prevention! Accepting regulation for what it is. Not condoning violations.

At least remember this one for now�. Im brandfall aufzug nicht benutzen.

Far from the Maddening Crowd?

I have to get at Massimo Farrugia again. Can someone please send the guy to a mass meeting or mass event? He seems obsessed with attendance to the point of distracting readers like me from the point of his articles. Dr Stefanova told a handful of journalists and reviewers over lunch at St James Cavalier� Here we go again. This time it is the naughty journalists who did not turn up. A handful is it? Tut tut. Where are the masses of luminaries when you need them. Please please please could the times buy Massimo a couple of tickets for the next Brighton Beach festival? I would not risk sending him to a party meeting in case he incurs the wrath of some leadership by criticising the attendance there!

People do not believe the government

People do not believe Tom Gonzi anymore because they realise he has deceived them. Says the MLP. It's a matter of belief once again. We are the poor electors who do not entrust our politicians with good government of our nation. No, we believe them. The next step will be to believe IN them. I believe in Alfred the Harvard Luminary and in Gonzi the inheriotrof unwanted property in BXL, I believe in Joseph Muscat (and not Mifsud.. thanks Mark) who first opposes entering the EU (over his dead body) and then becomes a dedicated Europhile MEP, I believe in the parties who bring me much good and I believe in their televisions and propaganda. Hell. If I go on believing so much I might even be entitled to a miracle!

We deserved to go out� but they are more ugly (sic) than Camilla

And now for something completely different. Sports. Juventus deserved to be outclassed and outshined by a defensive minded Liverpool on Wednesday. The performance was shameful to say the least. I am not ashamed to say that I shed a tear or two at the end of the match. However when you lose your will to win you do not deserve to win any more. So we will be left waiting another year having got our fair share of fun from this years' Champion's league. I am sure Mourinho's Chelsea will provide the right fodder for Milan not to win another of these Cups. Meanwhile back in the Delle Alpi the ousted team's fans must win the prize for most humorous banner exposed in European matches this year�

While the bianconeri supporters did have some shameful banners promising blood and revenge to the scousers (shame, shame, shame), the Champion of Banners was unfurled in the direction of the English supporters and even the scousers must have enjoyed the humour. There for all to see were inscribed the words "YOU ARE MORE UGLY THAN CAMILLA". English grammar must have posed some problems to the ultras but this did not reduce the value of this hilarious banner.

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Three thumbs up to the Juve humour� we will back next year� meanwhile �.they think it's all over� it is for us!

jeudi, avril 14, 2005

Students Ignore Political Debate

Also from the papers, Massimo Farrugia reports a political debate on campus at the UOM. As usual the Maltese journalist who has drawn the short straw and has to drive to campus, find a parking and report the usal banter from the three heads of political parties is probably bored by the time he sits down to write his article. Which explains that 'only' 150 students on campus becomes a negative headline while around 100 'kerchief waving freaks in a Kazin is conceived as a success.

I always hated press reporting of student affairs. It was biased against the student - a sort of resentment, as though students owe the world more than anyone else. Students have to carry the cursed stipend on their back like a burden every minute of their study (and plagiarise) life and HAVE to be interested in what Tom, Dick and Harry have to say when they come to campus. Shame on them for turning their attention to the wonderful hot-dogs being sold under the spring shade of the campus trees! Shame on them for not listening to the political creme de la creme who, as reported by a bored Farrugia, chose the usual tactic of long ramblings to avoid engaging the interested few in a debate as it should be.

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Harry Tom and Dick

Foreign politicians visiting Universities are more respectful in that respect. More ready to engage and discuss. See Blair and Clinton for example. Not exactly the stage managed apperances with caveats that we see in our Alma Mater.

And by the way Mr Farrugia (sorry if I picked on you) you might want to investigate why there were even those 150 students. You would probably find that they are the usual rent-a-mob by the political organisations on campus. The whisperings of "ejja ghax gej IL-KAP" [come along because our LEADER is coming] would have been going round campus from early morning to ensure that "ma naqghux ghan-nejk" [we do not give a bad impression] and that "nistaqsuhom ahna il-mistoqsijiet" [so that our side asks the questions].

Yes it is sad that students are not as interested in Maltese politics. But given the state of the subject... who could blame them?

mercredi, avril 13, 2005


My friend Karl Schembri writes in the Malta Today that the University of Malta is to clamp down on plagiarism. "The university's quality assurance committee is planning to acquire a license to install a plagiarism prevention package on campus so that lecturers could leave the policing for computers and focus more on teaching".

I did not need the short time lecturing at the UOM to note the extent of plagiarism on campus. My experience as a student had already exposed me to the curse and I must confess that one or two late assignments must have been handed in with a little less of my work and a little more of a fellow students'. Not more than that though� and only in the hour of need when the amount of assignments multiplied by the amount of lectures and amount of nights out getting drunk flew totally out of control. Come to think of it I was never proud of these assignments and felt like I was cheating myself. I do not want to seem to be playing the part of a saint � really, assignments were the few areas where you could discipline yourself into learning something out of reading and research without much help from the lecturer involved.

As a lecturer the funniest incident was when I had two assignments submitted to me and discovered that their content was completely lifted from a set of EU Law notes I had written (or abbreviated) myself a few years before.

I have my doubts about this mechanical system about to be introduced. Who will input all assignments for checking? What will happen in areas such as law where areas of reference are still not in electronic form and mostly lie in the tomes of Manzini and Antolisei? The urge to plagiarise also has its roots in excess pressure and more importantly in not having been pointed out the right way to do stuff. Pro-Rector Farrugia would be well advised to further pursue his idea of course work on research methods, referencing and use of citation. I would not stop at Fresher's Week though. All too often sixth year law students sit down to write their thesis with not a clue in mind about how to cite.

To conclude I remember very well one of the quotes on the opening pages of my LL.D. thesis� "to bring Montaigne to my defence ...I quote others only to better express myself".

samedi, avril 09, 2005

Shake, Rattle and Roll


Yesterday�s blog was quilled in a hurry while the Papal funeral was reaching its conclusion. I penned it while the whole ceremony was in full swing and all the attendees listed in the blog where making their presence felt (by being there). It is for this reason that poor Prince Charles was at a disadvantage. He could not have read my blog in time. Bonnie Charlie could not have been forewarned of the presence of the archenemy of democracy in the midst of the eminent crowds. �I have sent you, a lamb among the wolves� is I believe the quote oft repeated in that meistermovie �The Devil�s Advocate�.

And lamb he was. Apparently the soon-to-be-wed Prince was sprung upon by the devilish Bobbie Mugabe and, caught unawares, could not refuse the bugger a handshake. Of course not. It would be ungentlemanly. Unprincely even. We are to believe that the Prince did not have sufficient time to recognise the fiend. One quick look at the photos on BBC and all is understood...

I can picture it happening. Prince C intent on understanding the Roman Catholic rites of mass in order not to be impolite (although deep down he is having wicked thoughs about his prima notte with Camilla Parkyour Bowels) and in order to follow all protocol as per the book. Meanwhile Robert the Zimbabwean Saviour Mugabe has been placed �strategically� by the Vatican protocol to the left of the polite prince.

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Observation #1: Since Mugabe is to the left of Prince C, and exactly to the left, he is definitely outside his line of vision - in fact we can say that Prince C�s view is impaired by a large satellite immediately to the left of his head a.k.a. the left earlobe.

Observation #2: Prince Charles could not have read my blog giving him (should that H be capital or is it just for Jesus?) adequate warning of Mugabe�s presence. He was not fore-warned. Pre- before and -monitio warned, which itself derives from munire - to arm. Interesting, fore-armed as in Maltese... bniedem avzat nofsu armat. We obviously believe that we must have got the saying from the Romans but I am sure that it was really a Scipio Renatus Zammitellus who came up with the saying for the first time. Anyway... ma kienx jaf miskin!

So, when at a strategic moment, the macchiavellian [It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both] bespectacled leader of the democratic dictatorship snuck out from behind an ear lobe and presented one of his limbs to the unwarned Prince of the Kingdom of liberty and tea, aforesaid Prince could do nowt but shake the dark paw sturdily as commanded by a centuries old etiquette.

With Friends Like These
Poor Prince. He has to marry without his mummy and shakes hands with a monster. Where is the Royal Navy when you most need it? At least he still has a right to any dead whale that is washed onto the shores of Cornwall. He could probably marry it if he wanted to. Meanwhile the furore on the handshake is bound to go on. Do keep an eye on The Spectator (my favourite conservative journal) and less of an eye on the daily rags.

It is a pity that the sweet tongued Prince Consort was not present instead. I am sure that he would have dealt with the matter with much greater aplomb and when the smiling teeth of Bobby Mugabe would have shone into his face while the extended limb hung expectantly I would have given my life to be able to hear what Philip would come up with.

Moral of the Story
The moral is obvious: World Leaders and puppet Princes should read my blog. It is full of friendly advice. Mugabe, if you are reading this, may I just tell you that you are a downright asshole. Now that I have signed my death warrant I will sign off.

Look out for more prophecies on J�Accuse!

Bilhaqq: Sharon stop stealing ideas. I told you about Mugabe. I told you about the handshake. It is my scoop. I am the praemonitor. I am the one. I am. I am. Iam. :P

  • Prince Charles is about to marry Camilla Parker Bowles today. Aptly so, since he is Prince of Wales.
  • Robert the Saint Mugabe could attend the Vatican ceremony yesterday since the Citta' del Vaticano is not an EU state and therefore falls outside the EU ban on Mugabe. Italy had to allow Mugabe to travel through its Airports because of an agreement with the Vatican stipulating that travellers to the Vatican do not fall under EU laws and are considered as having landed in a Vatican airport.
  • The Vatican still considers the Royal Family and their religion as a heresy. In the words of the indignant journalists at The Spectator, the church views Anglican Bishops as nothing more than "old men in skirts".
  • George Bush has not been reported as having made any gaffes yesterday. Hmm. Hmm. Hmm.

vendredi, avril 08, 2005

Webwhingers & Funeral Attendance List

Of webwhingers
As I write the square infront of St Peter's is choc-a-bloc with people attending the funeral of the Great Pope. Further to my earlier comment on mass bursts of em0tion and empathy, I have discovered another phenomenon - webwhingers. I shall add this term to my web dictionary project . What is a webwhinger ? Let me attempt a definition:

webwhinger (n.) : internaut who abuses of his right of expression in order to constantly complain about events/phenomena that occur. Example: the blogs complaining about the blogs that mention the Pope, culminating in the statement "What's all this fuss about the Pope?" see also killjoy, non-conformist, quasi-wankellectual, misanthropist.

That's it - with newspapers at most you could expect to be sitting next to an old humbug who would mutter some incomprehensible nonsense regarding the latest content of his predilected journal. Now with blogs you could be honestly trying to discover other peoples thoughts and ideas and instead you come across an incessant whinge. Whinge whinge whinge. This blog could itself be considered a webwhinge against webwhingers. Unavoidably so.

Where's Everybody?
And now to the funeral. It is the first time that a President of the USA has attended a pope's funeral. Reliable sources claim : (a) it is the first time that the President understood what a Pope is, (b) it is the first time that that a President shows mild interest in going to any country that does not produce oil in large quantities (at least not the one useful for moving heavy vehicles), or (c) it may also be possible that Dubya is convinced that this is some publicity stunt following a complex anti-drug battle against combined Colombian and Mafia warlords and believes that he is going to oversee the burial of the dope in Rome.

Thank God other countries elect respectable leaders. Like Robert Mugabe for instance. He too is at the funeral and has shaken hands with some white cardinals. Anyway, the list of official invitees is found below. It may come in useful for those trivia quizes where you are asked for the name of head of so and so State. Speaking of small countries Luxembourg is represented in full force with Grand Duke, Duchess and PM... Malta too is represented but does not figure on this list (source Sky News).

Here it is:
Albania: President Alfred Moisiu, former presidents Sali Berisha and Rexhep Meidani, Prime Minister Fatos Nano Arab League: Secretary General Amr MussaArgentina: Vice President Daniel Scioli, Foreign Minister Rafael Bielsa Armenia: Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan Austria: President Heinz Fischer, Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel Australia: Governor General Michael Jeffe Bangladesh: Food and Disaster Management Minister Chowdhury Kamal Ibne YusufBelgium: Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt Bosnia: Chairman of the state presidency, Borisav Paravac Bolivia: President Carlos Mesa, Foreign Minister Juan Ignacio Siles Bosnia: Chairman of the presidency Borislav Paravac Brazil: President Luiz Inacio Lula da SilvaBritain: Prime Minister Tony BlairBulgaria: President Georgi Parvanov Cameroon: President Paul BiyaCanada: Prime Minister Paul MartinChile: Foreign Minister Ignacio WalkerColombia: Vice President Francisco SantosCosta Rica: President Abel Pacheco, Foreign Minister Roberto TovarCroatia: President Stipe Mesic, Prime Minister Ivo SanaderCuba: National Assembly President Ricardo AlarconCyprus: President Tassos PapadopoulosCzech Republic: President Vaclav Klaus, Foreign Minister Cyril SvobodaDemocratic Republic of Congo: President Joseph Kabila, Vice President Jean-Pierre BembaDenmark: Prime Minister Anders Fogh RasmussenEcuador: President Lucio Gutierrez, Foreign Minister Patricio ZuquilandaEgypt: Culture Minister Farouk HosniEl Salvador: Foreign Minister Francisco LaineEstonia: President Arnold Ruutel Equatorial Guinea: President Teodoro Obiang Ngue European Union: Commission President Jose Manuel BarrosoFinland: Prime Minister Matti VanhanenFrance: President Jacques ChiracGermany: Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, President Horst Koehler Ghana: President John Kufu Greece: President Karolos PapouliasGuatamala: Vice President Eduardo Stein, Foreign Minister Jorge BrizHaiti: Prime Minister Gerard LatortueHonduras: President Ricardo MaduroHungary: President Ferenc Madl, Prime Minister Ferenc GyurcsanyIndia: Vice President Bhairon Singh ShekawatIndonesia: Welfare Minister Alwi Shihab, Religious Affairs Minister Maftuh Basyuni, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Minister Freddy Numberi Iran: President Mohammad KhatamiIreland: President Mary McAleese, Prime Minister Bertie AhernIsrael: President Moshe Katsav, Foreign Minister Silvan ShalomItaly: President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Japan: Former Foreign Minister Yoriko KawaguchiKenya: Foreign Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere, Local Government Minister Musikari Kombo Kosovo: President Ibrahim RugovaLatvia: President Vaira Vike-FreibergaLebanon: President Emile Lahoud, Prime Minister Omar Karami, Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri Lesotho: Foreign Minister Monyane Molelek Lithuania: President Valdas AdamkusLuxembourg: Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker Macedonia: President Branko CrvenkovskiMalaysia: Minister In Charge of the Civil Service Bernard Dompok, Minister In Charge of Religious Affairs Abdullah Mohamad Zin Mauritius: Prime Minister Paul BerengerMexico: President Vicente Fox Montenegro: President Filip VujanovicMozambique: President Armando GuebuzaNATO: Secretary General Jaap de Hoop SchefferNetherlands: Prime Minister Jan Peter BalkenendeNicaragua: President Enrique BolanoNorway: Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik Palestinian Authority: Prime Minister Ahmed QureiPanama: First Lady Vivian Fernandez de Torrijos, wife of President Martin Torrijo Pakistan: Religious Affairs Minister Mohammad Ejaz ul Haq Paraguay: Vice President Luis Castiglioni Peru: Parliament speaker Antero Flores Araoz, Foreign Minister Manuel Rodriguez, Justice Minister Eduardo Salhua Philippines: President Gloria Arroyo Poland: President Aleksander Kwasniewski, former president Lech Walesa, Prime Minister Marek Belka Portugal: President Jorge Sampaio, Foreign Minister Diogo Freitas do Amaral Romania: President Traian Basescu, Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu, former king MichaelRussia: Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov Senegal: President Abdoulaye Wad Serbia: President Boris TadicSerbia-Montenegro: President Svetozar Marovic, Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic Seychelles: Ambassador to France and Italy Callixte d'OffaySingapore: Deputy Prime Minister Professor S JayakumarSlovenia: President Janez Drnovsek, Prime Minister Janez JansaSlovakia: President Ivan Gasparovic, Parliament Chairman Pavol HrusovskySouth Africa: Deputy President Jacob ZumaSpain: Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez ZapateroForeign Minister Miguel Angel MoratinosSri Lanka: Prime Minister Mahinda RajapakseSweden: Prime Minister Goeran PerssonSwitzerland: President Samuel SchmidSyria: President Bashar al-Assad Taiwan: President Chen Shui-bian, Foreign Minister Chen Tan-sunTurkey: Prime Minister Tayyip ErdoganUkraine: President Viktor YushchenkoUnited States: President George W. Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton Uganda: Vice President Gilbert BukenyaUnited Nations: Secretary General Kofi Annan Uruguay: First Lady Maria Auxiliadora Delgado de VasqueVenezuela: Foreign Minister Ali RodriguezZimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe

Royals and Heads Of State
Australia: Governor-General Michael JefferyBelgium: King Albert II and Queen Paola Britain: Prince Charles Jordan: King Abdullah II Lesotho: King Letsie IIILuxembourg: Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa New Zealand: Governor-General Silvia CartwrightNorway: Queen SonjaSpain: King Juan Carlos and Queen SofiaSweden: King Carl XVI Gustav and Queen Silvia

Religious leaders
Metropolitan Kirill, Russian Orthodox Church Archbishop Christodoulos, Greek Orthodox ChurchLebanese Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah SfeirEcumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew INorwegian Bishop Finn Wagle of the Protestant state church Spiritual head of the Anglican Church, Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan WilliamsChief Rabbinate Director-General Oded VinerTurkey's Armenian Patriarch Mesrob IIRomania's Orthodox patriarch TeoctistBulgaria's Orthodox Rousse Bishop Neofit and Vidin Bishop DomitianSwedish Lutheran archbishop, KG Hammar Head of Uganda's Catholic Church, Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala Albanian religious leaders: Selim Muca of the (Sunni) Muslim community, Rrok Mirdita, the Catholic Archbishop, Haxhi Dede Reshat Bardhi of the (Shi'ite) Bektashi Muslim sect and Orthodox Archbishop Anastasios of the Orthodox community Mesrob II, the Armenian Orthodox Archbishop of Istanbul Metropolitan Kirill, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Foreign Church Relations Department, of the Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the Orthodox Church Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Am Catholicos Karekin II, spiritual leader of Armenia's orthodox Apostolic Church

Reliable sources also relate that each of the abovementioned will receive a special "The Pope's Funeral: I was there" t-shirt in white after the performance. Mr Mugabe is know to have expressed a preference for a black t-shirt with gold lettering. Mr Bush will have a t-shirt with a photo of the late Pope instead.
venerably yours

Post Scriptum
Since my new hobby of statcountering has begun yesterday was the first day this page was loaded over a hundred times. Also check out zenutrio a cool site in spanish. I discovered it when I started getting many Spaniards logging onto my blog and I checked out the referral! Thanks again dugongo!

mercredi, avril 06, 2005

Homo Sapiens Non Urinat In Ventum (reprise)

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Dedicated to Gybexi. This should clear your doubts about Ventum!
Apologies for the delay.

Ludendo Castigat Mores

mardi, avril 05, 2005

Emotional Drain

Your intellect may be confused but your emotions will never lie to you.

In science emotions are described as the language of a person's internal state of being. Love, hate, courage, fear, joy, sadness and pleasure also count among what makes us human.
Andy Warhol is reported to have said that "In the 60s people forgot what emotions are all about and never seem to have remembered." I wonder.

empathy an emotion? At least does it involve a display of emotions? Do massive outpourings of grief and solidarity reflect an emotional attachment? Are the millions converging on Rome to mourn the Great Pope free of emotions? What about the Diana era? What about the Tsunami solidarity campaigns? Reading last Saturday's Books and Art supplement with the Times (of London) I was interested in a book critic's evaluation of the quasi-morbid fascination of readers in Dave Pelzer type books where the author provides an autobiography of his suffering. It seems these books are the genre that is most in demand apart from the Da Vinci Code/Rule of Four kind of books. While the Langdon books have been analysed as being popular because of their tickling the newfound interest in esoteric mysticism, the autobiographies of suffering reflect a new kind of voyeurism.

My wonder is whether people nowadays can only empathise for popular images. Empathy is almost a trend, a fashion. Who will you care for today? From the collective feelings of mourning (see 9/11, Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Tsunami Sufferings, Deaths of Great Men and Women) to strong stands of solidarity. Tonight
Juventus and Liverpool meet for the first time since Heysel in 1985. The big match will be preceded by a grand show of commemoration, solidarity and newfound friendship. Another occasion of public empathy. The Liverpool side will also include a few "We are sorry" banners (Memoria e Amicizia) before moving on to a collective chorus of "You'll never walk alone" probably joined by the Turin fans in a sudden transport of collective emotional passion.

At home � Malta that is � we are facing a new accusation. Not content with being declared insensitive to the myriad calls against our passion for hunting, we are now entering a new dimension of international villainy. The recent tragedy with Chinese immigrants involving visas and powerboats has elevated us to the plane of organised smugglers. Yet, the same communities who do not hesitate in public displays of solidarity and support have not lifted a finger to provoke the authorities-that-be out of their frustrating inertia. Feeling sorry is fine� doing something about it when it is close to home... ah well that is another thing.
Anna Mallia hit the nail on the head in MaltaToday when she said that the Chinese Immigrants dying could be equalled to many Terry Schiavos being led to their doom. Meanwhile, hunters went on rampage last weekend in the off-season (insufficient policing), the police have only just confiscated the powerboats used to smuggle humans to Italy and the Illegal Immigrant Question remains the rebus that it has always been.

Mark is busy analysing Malta's brain drain �whether it is one and whether it is happening. Rightly so. Maybe it is time we start to examine whether our archi-catholic state is also suffering an even worse drain, an emotional one.

These days, it seems, it is getting harder and harder to say I love you.

I love you
Is all that you can�t say
Years gone by and still
Words don�t come easily
Like I love you
I love you

lundi, avril 04, 2005

To Die with the Serenity of Saints

"It is love which converts hearts and gives peace.

"To all humanity, which today seems so lost and dominated by the power of evil, selfishness and fear, our resurrected Lord gives us his love which forgives, reconciles and reopens the soul to hope."

John Paul the Great

vendredi, avril 01, 2005

Death Becomes Us....

Reading today�s news one cannot but imagine that the grim reaper has been craving for a bit of headline news and, not being content with deaths of multitudes which remain anonymous and ironically less effective, has focused on individuals or issues worth of note. In Pratchett�s books the grim reaper is a philosophical quasi-human character with a stakanovistic approach to his work. His conversations with persons who have just passed away are brimming with irony and framed with a weird sort of compassion-cum-lack-of-understanding of the human race. His pronouncements are always in block capitals so as to emphasise the eerie emptiness of speaking to the last being before moving on to another place (which is never revealed incidentally).

Here is an extract from Mort, the book where Death meets his apprentice:

- "My granny says that dying is like going to sleep," Mort added, a shade

and here in Feet of Clay Death clarifies his job description:


one last one from The Last Continent where Death explains a popular saying relating to the moments before we die:


Ironic, compassionate, examining, whatever this character at the doors of afterlife does the human race seems to always have been convinced that something will meet our soul once it leaves the material world. From Hades� dog to St. Pete at the doors we have always assumed the existence of a guide who shepherds us to the place of our just desserts. In my case I�d love to meet Pratchett�s death... please.

The Great Communicator is going

Johannes Paulus II, Karol to friends, has high fever. The last few months must have been pure agony for the pope with pipes being inserted all over the place in an effort to keep the old wise man alive for a little longer. I respect the man though I do not agree with his excessive conservatism I also see where he comes from and I understand that the Church is built on values that one cannot (and probably must not) change overnight.

It is because of that that I sit on the outside porch of the establishment gazing inwards occasionally with awe at its magnificence and noting sadly certain shuffling of feet in some areas such as contraceptives and women priests that keep me outside. The over 1 billion believers around the globe have had one shepherd since 1978 and that is JP the Great Communicator. You cannot hate the man. You cannot even begin considering it. His travels around the globe made the papacy a truly global experience. He has been a guide and model for many and he wielded the olive branch as though it was the strongest sword of all.

I speak of him in the past. I know, he is not passed away yet although many would agree that it would be for the best for the man. He is my pope, the pope my generation has known - the only one (his predecessors died when I was three). My first school project was about the Papal Shooting by Mehmet Ali Agca, I still remember cutting out the stroy from The Times and writing a one liner caption underneath it in my scrap book. He was definitely one of the pushing factors behind Solidarnosc and the beginning of the end of the East-West divide. He was a goalkeeper, a skier and I am quite sure quite a handsome popular young man in his youth.

It seems you are on the way out (or in) JP. We owe much to this great Pope and even greater Man. I am sure that the ushers in this afterlife will have no difficulty moving you to that Very Important Pope place that you deserve. May there be enough ski slopes in heaven to give you the pleasure that you deserve!

Terry Schiavo

Another visit of death would have been to the bedside of Terry Schiavo. The woman who has been in a coma since 1990 was at the centre of yet another debate on euthanasia. Assisted death, sounds a bit like Mort or the Death of Rats, both assistants of the fictitious characters. Did she want to die? Would she have chosen to die of starvation after 13 days? I do not know. I am not sure about humankind�s control over life and death. Life support suddenly switches to death express, I would definitely not like to be the man pulling the plug, head mask or no head mask I would still feel like an executioner.

Maybe such stuff is best left to professionals... death himself for instance.

Apologies for the morbid blog. I could not help it. But I will leave you with a humorous quote, from Maskerade another Pratchett masterpiece. This time Death is away (always an indication of death of a minor personality in the books) so the Death of Rats steps in:

- "But I don't believe in reincarnation!" he protested.
- And this, Mr Pounder understood with absolute rodent clarity, meant:
Reincarnation believes in you.