mardi, mai 31, 2005

Mi sento antropologo ...a modo mio

Ever since Mark criticised the cut-and-paste content of some of my blogs I had shied away from pasting entire pieces from the media and leaving them for comment. However Monsieur Plus Illumin� du Soleil cannot be right. It is one of the basic blog activites as best demonstrated by our friend Robert at Wired Temples. Going through todays The Times I could not help noting some interesting phrases (mainly on the French vote) and sharing them with you guys.
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*reproduced from CartoonArts International

Lord Kerr
Lord Kerr of Kinlochard former head of the British Diplomatic Service and one of the authors of the constitution, talking to The Times last week, said he believed that France had been entirely right in its conviction from the start that Europe should have one Presidency. "You can't say to the President of the United States 'go and talk to the Maltese'", he said.

With Diplomats like these...who needs savages? I'm sure the Dubya has interesting conversations with Tony B... who would want some Maltese bastard ruining the entente cordiale with the Yanks eh!! Mintoff's spectre hovers in a Banquo moment!

Jean-Claude Juncker (PM of our Grand Duchy)
Ratification of the constitution must continue even if a country rejects it in a referendum. Mr Juncker whose country is holding a referendum in July said that any country that votes "no" in a referendum must hold the referendum again, to get the "right answer".

Ok. We thought Alfred Sant was mad when analysing the Maltese referendum results. It seems like every country has its own crackpot with an original view on how democracy works. This distance between governors and governed is just what votes against the constitution are all about. The political servants of the people need a new reminder of what elections and referenda are all about. They need a reminder of where sovereignty lies. They need a reminder that, in this least evil of all systems, no matter how ignorant the electorate can be, it is imperative that its decisions reign supreme. Otherwise give me Idi Amin, Kim Il Jung, Pinochet or Mintoff any day of the week.

The European Trade Commissioner refuted reports that Tony Blair was keen for other countries to reject the constitution so that he did not have to hold a referendum in Britain. "I don't think he wants to get off the hook, as you put it. I think he would like the constitution to go through and, if there is a constitutional treaty to vote 'yes' for, he woulds like to see that ratified in Britain," he told the BBC.

Bollocks. Who do you think you are kidding Peter Mandelson? The moment the first ripples of the Non! echoed into 10 Downing Street I am sure Tony was throwing a private party of his own. The Netherlands will probably vote Nej too so by the time it is Brittania's turn she can sit calmly and claim that there is no longer anything to vote about. Tony B avoids another bashing at the polls (for the last elections cannot be seen as anything but a bashing for Labour who can only thank a twisted electoral system for their parliamentary majority).

Les voteurs en France

Patrick Leclaire, 52, an electricity worker employed by EDF, the state generator: The more President Chirac had told him to vote "yes", the greater had been his resolve to vote "no". He said: "He's like a travelling saleseman and he's got no credibility". He was worried that Europe would usher in a liberal economy through the back door, signifying privatisation and a loss of job security for EDF employees.

Jer�me Joinet, a 38 year old journalist said that he had been in favour of a "yes" at the beginning of the campaign and then changed to a "no". A few hours before voting he returned to a "yes". "I'm in favour of tax harmonisation and the constitution does nothing for that. But a "no" vote means going back 50 years and starting from scratch."

Christian Bounay, 50, a literature teacher in a local secondary had followed a similar path: from "yes" to "no" and back to "yes" again. "At first, I thought I'm pro-European andd so I'm going to approve the constitution. Then I read it and became very reticent about it. It's making economic-liberalism the official doctrine - and we can see all the damage the liberalism is producing now. But when I voted the weight of saying "no" was too great and the idea of voting the same way as Jean-Marie Le Pen was too much. The pressure was too intense and so I said "yes".

Gonzi and Sant take note. Patrick voted NO not to be like Chirac. Christian voted YES not to be like Le Pen. Is it just my impression or are European voters across the continent increasingly voting negatively? A vote has become defined by "who you are not voting for" rather than "what I am voting for". The electorate is faced with such bad choices that they choose the lesser of all evils. Give us a new project NOW! The Nationalists in Malta hooked onto this idea ages ago (remember the Ma Tistax Tafdah posters... which admittedly backfired... twice). Sant still fails to see what a winning argument the "Don't Vote for Him" is and continues to plod on in the realm of the unelectable. Harry V is also having a hard time shedding off the "Don't Vote Green Monsters" label. And yet we go on....

Last one from Tony B himself
Speaking from Tuscany, where he is on holiday, the prime Minister said while the debate over the constitution had been necessary, it did not reflect the concerns of ordinary people. "I think that underneath all this there is a more profound question which is about the future of Europe, and in particular the future of the European economy and how we deal with the modern questions of globalisation and technological change," he said. While institutional reform was important, voters were clearly more concerned with jobs, economic security, public services and welfare reform.

Eureka! With a bit of luck the Tuscan sun might inspire some brain cells in the young man from Downing Street.

That's the end of my quasi-anthropological survey of what is being said. Hope you enjoyed the trip. Incidentally most quotes were taken from today's and yesterday's editions of The Times.

dimanche, mai 29, 2005

C'est non... carr�ment

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*reproduced from CartoonArts International

Looks like the Nays have it in France. Deep analysis is promised. Is it back to the cosmetic board for La Constitution? Will this be the beginning of a real European project or the death bell for a Greater Europe? Will we get a real Constitution in place of the hodge podge Giscardisms?

Ask not for whom the bell tolls... it tolls for Chirac...
much more will follow.

vendredi, mai 27, 2005

50 good reasons to vote NON....

As the race heats up for Sunday's vote here is an interesting link. A supporter of the Votez oui! has created a list of 50 reasons why to vote no. The reasons would be for a No vote against the French Constitution. Apparently many of the arguments used by the NON side against the European Constitution would equally apply to the French Constitution. No time to translate... but I'm sure you get the gist.

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Cinquante bonnes raisons de dire NON... � la constitution fran�aise.

1) La constitution de la 5e R�publique est ultralib�rale.

2) La constitution de la 5e R�publique n'interdit pas la peine de mort.

3) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne mentionne par explicitement les droits sociaux.

4) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ignore l'existence des services publics.

5) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne pr�voit pas de salaire minimum.

6) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne fixe pas une limite au temps de travail hebdomadaire.

7) La constitution de la 5e R�publique n'interdit pas la traite des �tres humains.

8) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne dit rien sur le clonage reproductif.

9) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne reconna�t pas le droit � avortement.

10) La constitution de la 5e R�publique est ultralib�rale.

11) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne fait pas r�f�rence � la R�volution fran�aise.

12) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne fait pas r�f�rence � quatorze si�cles de monarchie.

13) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne fait pas r�f�rence au pass� gallo-romain de la France.

14) Le mot � la�cit� � ne figure pas dans la constitution fran�aise.

15) Le mot � solidarit� � n'est pas cit� pas dans la devise de la R�publique.

16) Le mot � bleu � figure une fois dans la constitution fran�aise. C'est une constitution r�actionnaire.

17) Le mot � rouge � figure une fois dans la constitution fran�aise. C'est une constitution communiste.

18) Le mot � blanc � figure une fois dans la constitution fran�aise. C'est une constitution non align�e.

19) Le mot � arm�es � est cit� deux fois dans la constitution fran�aise. C'est une constitution militariste.

20) La constitution de la 5e R�publique est ultralib�rale.

21) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne d�finit pas les fronti�res du territoire fran�ais.

22) La constitution de la 5e R�publique autorise l'opting-out pour l'Alsace-Moselle (r�gime concordataire).

23) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne reconna�t pas l'exception culturelle bretonne.

24) La constitution de la 5e R�publique permet aux Corses de ne pas payer d'imp�t sur les successions.

25) La constitution de la 5e R�publique encourage le dumping social entre l'Auvergne et le Limousin.

26) La constitution de la 5e R�publique n'impose pas l'harmonisation fiscale entre la M�tropole et les d�partements et territoires d'Outre-mer.

27) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne lutte pas contre les paradis fiscaux aux marges du territoire national (Andorre, Monaco,�les anglo-normandes)

28) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne permet pas de lutter contre les d�localisations.

29) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne contre pas la d�ferlante du textile chinois.

30) La constitution de la 5e R�publique est ultralib�rale.

31) Le pr�ambule de la constitution de la 4e R�publique affirme � le devoir de travailler et le droit d'obtenir un emploi �, mais pas celui de recevoir un salaire. C'est un texte esclavagiste.

32) La constitution de la 5e R�publique inclut en filigrane la directive Bolkestein.

33) La constitution de la 5e R�publique n'interdit pas la corrida.

34) La constitution fran�aise ignore les produits bio et le tri s�lectif des ordures m�nag�res.

35) Les valeurs alter mondialistes ne sont pas pr�sentes dans la constitution fran�aise.

36) Le S�nat n'est pas �lu au suffrage universel (art. 24). C'est antid�mocratique.

37) Le Conseil constitutionnel peut censurer le Parlement (art. 62). C'est antid�mocratique.

38) La Cour des comptes ne peut �tre saisie par le citoyen (art. 47). C'est antid�mocratique.

39) Le Conseil �conomique et social (art. 69) n'a qu'un avis consultatif. C'est antid�mocratique.

40) La constitution de la 5e R�publique est ultralib�rale.

41) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne propose pas un grand projet pour la France.

42) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne fera pas avancer la France sociale.

43) La constitution de la 5e R�publique a �t� r�dig�e par un groupe de technocrates non �lus.

44) La constitution de la 5e R�publique ne peut �tre r�vis�e � l'initiative populaire.

45) La constitution de la 5e R�publique n'a pas �t� valid�e par l'Acad�mie fran�aise.

46) La constitution de la 5e R�publique est un recul social par rapport � celle de la 4e R�publique.

47) La constitution de la 4e R�publique est un recul d�mocratique par rapport � celle de la 3e R�publique.

48) La constitution de la 3e R�publique est un recul romantique par rapport � la celle de la 2e R�publique.

49) La constitution de la 2e R�publique est un recul moral par rapport � la constitution de la 1e R�publique.

50) La constitution de la 5e R�publique est ultralib�rale.

jeudi, mai 26, 2005

Ne Quid Nimis

    (nothing in excess)

    A situation that has often been documented among us bloggers is that of Writer's Blog. Recently I have been experiencing an opposite feeling. The week of technological deprivation in a Maltese farmhouse/villa had a negative effect on my crave for blogging. A welcome break that is true but now the subjects to blog about are whooshing around my head like a cluster of bees in search of honey. What to call this feeling? OVERBLOG? Combined with the insanabile cacoethes scribendi the overblog can cause choking sensations to the brain. The end result is probably that most of the bloggable material will fly off into the space of the unwritten. This blog is an attempt to catch up. Consider it snippets of larger, longer, more tedious blogs that never were.

    Chiara came second. Great. We had a whale of a time watching the results and clapped enthusiastically while waving the bicolour as the points poured out off the screen. Lovely. Majestic even. What I do not like is (un)Grace Borg's bad loser comments. Why should we be the whingers of the moment? Get the second place medal, clap our hands, come home to a euphoric airport-load of eurovision fanatics and that's that. Thank your lucky stars you did not win the bloody thing and force more money from ouor Culture coffers down the money guzzling monster's throat. Sad nul points goes to Alternattiva Demokratika (and MLP) for their congratulations to Chiara for her performance. Who cares? Do you get more votes for issuing a press release calling Chiara an Angel?

    Which reminds me. Naxxar Local Council seems to have issued a press release commending the Government stand on abortion. What is it with these organisations? Could anyone illuminate me as to what kind of relevance the stand of a Local Council of Bubaqra should have to the abortion debate. Should Local Councils be run like your average association � issuing press releases of congratulations? Leave that to the New SDM. It's all the young Christian Democrats seem to be able to do these days. Well done government for this, thank you government for that, thank you Jesus for this and well done AFM for soundly beating down a few good men.

    So. Christian Democrats and abortion. The entrenchment of anti-abortion law in the constitution is bound to be a legal conundrum. The critics of this move are being criticised in their turn as being pro-abortionists. The holier-than-thou crowd is out en masse once again polishing their crucifixes and preparing their bales of hay for the expurgation of the heathens from this our Catholic Land. They just don't get it do they? It is not a matter of being pro-abortion. I am anti-abortion. Very anti-abortion. Being anti-abortion I would have thought that a proper interpretation of the right to life (already in the constitution) should more than suffice in Din l-Art Helwa. However some sanctimonious freak in L-Omm li Taghtna Isimha seems to be intent in writing it in the big book as some specific no-no. This mistake has been made before � entrenching particular laws in the Constitution and thus rendering them unupdatable and consequently redundant and unable to read the signs of the times. Look at what happened with the Unfair Practices.

    Abortion should stay out. Out of the country. Out of its seas. More importantly� out of our constitution.

    Constitution d'Europe
    The frogs will soon be voting. Sunday next. They are still split in a very Maltese fashion down the bloody middle. On their vote will depend the Netherlands vote and the Irish vote. The Dutch have already pre-empted a sad result by saying that if No wins they will vote again. A bit like Berlusconi saying that the Champions league final should be replayed since Milan lost. Weird no? The said thing about these referenda is that the French voters are not voting about Europe. They vote about work, subsidies, immigration, Turkey's future membership and agriculture. C'est de la merde monsieur Chirac and I am not sure that you can get us out of it. La Repubblica carried an interesting article yesterday by Jurgen Habermas criticising the schizophrenic left's no to Europe. Ah La Gauche! (Apparently the German Left would like to create a German version of the Italian Ulivo � it's a matter of wait and see for Das Uliven). Not much can be said or foreseen about the forthcoming European votes. One interesting deduction though is the newfound interdependence of the European electorate. Eurosceptics may attack the project itself, but the very exercise at the bottom of it all has brought about a commonality of the demos that is sans pareil. In good or in bad Europe is really coming together.

    The Demos at Home

    Our very own electorate might be facing an interesting change in the way it elects its servants. The discussions regarding the revision of the electoral laws are underway with the usual (expectable) hiccups. I would place as a sine qua non the necessity of having an elected parliament that reflects the proportions of number one votes of the electorate (plus minimum national threshold). That way we avoid going down the British road and having a Blairite majority of the minority. Breaking up the Gozitan electoral district does not sound like a good idea to me. When will the Gozitans form their own party and elect some members to the palace to be able to squarely place their demands on the table and stop pandering to the latest lover who promises them the best fish of the catch? A new electoral system might (and I stress the might) give us a more representative Parliament. While it might be heady days for the first few governments it might help us to have a more realistic governing of our islands based on interests and needs rather than the opportunistic agendas that are the only thing the two behemoths seem to be able to churn out these days.

    Sliema Building
    It would seem that Sliema's oldest building is up (or should I say down?) for destruction. Sliema's only Baroque building might make way for a block of flats. Sliema residents are up in arms. A case of too little too late maybe? Excuse my cynical approach but I would have given up on Sliema ages ago. Let us concentrate on the rest. Maybe designate Sliema, Bugibba and St. Julians as the last playgrounds for the concrete thugs (who unwittingly lessen their own returns by spitting in the water they drink from) while really getting serious about the remaining 90% of the Maltese islands.

    A French intern at the Malta Independent is writing an article about the Maltese Blogosphere. We might be about to take off guys� get ready for more hits, more comments, more criticism. We might not be the "coward's escape route" (thanks Mona) after all. And oh� Aurelie� I was not serious about the frogs!

    Malta Trip
    I enjoyed my latest visit to Malta in the company of my cabinet colleagues. Again it inspired so much to say but I can only list a few of the things that come to mind.
    - Why do most museums close at 4.30? (that's for Heritage Malta)
    - While repaving Mdina� is it too much to spray the streets with water when the days work is done?
    - Can il-Kartell restaurant at Marsalforn get any better than it already is?
    - What the hell is so special about Riccardu's in the Citadella?
    - Why is Ghadira Bay so beautiful and the sea so clear now? What do we do to it by August to make it so repulsive?
    - Has Paceville reached its death-end?
    - Why do certain shops still insist on overcharging anyone who seems like a tourist?
    - I can't wait to be back!

mercredi, mai 25, 2005

Maltese Postcrime

In the past months we have been regaled with incredible feats by the Maltese police force. Our bobbies have started to solve crimes of the early and mid eighties with an incredible momentum. See this one in the Independent Soon all criminals of the decade of Michael Jackson, Madonna and Wham will be in jail.

Unless they are already in jail.

Or dead.

Ah well. Guess we will have to wait some time before Precrime sets in!
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iBlog, di-English is bad

I currently have around 20 potential blogs on hold. They rest there in the back of my mind waiting for the right moment to spill onto the screen. The Malta trip supplied loads of potential blog entries. Death keeps jumping up and down, scythe in hand, doing his utmost to attract our attention. The political landscape is full of corns of blog waiting to be harvested - from referendum crazy Europe to Maltese electoral laws. I have not yet found time to put all these thoughts down.

Notwithstanding this dearth of time for bloggable material I could not help indulging in this newfound hobby of examining articles for wonderful samples of the English language. Fausto will understand.

So here goes... English as she is spake:

On serial killer Mangion
"He confessed with the police his involvement in the brutal killing." and "Mangion was arranged in court last week..."

...said the Archbishop
"Marriage between homosexuals would destruct the social set-up". Not content with such a ludicrous title, the article follows up with a literal translation of the words of our Archbishop... "Recognising a unity between homosexuals just as they are a matrimonial unity would confuse the people's profound aspirations in their most intimate identity, he concluded".

Two will do. Go in peace. Hope you like the clock that has been added on the site. Now you can also subscribe to this site by filling in the box at the bottom left hand corner... that way you only need to check in when something new is added.

So long, and thanks for the fish.

jeudi, mai 19, 2005


A quick blog from Malta. I got the news of the passing away fo Julian while at a bbq in Malta. I had to call a friend to make sure the news was true. It was shocking. Julian was to me another early inspiration who helped me to understand that in politics being different from the norm is not necessarily wrong.

He is now gone to that great place in the sky. It was a bit too early to leave us in my opinion. We could have had Julian over for a couple of years longer. But there is no meddling with the divine plan. All we can do is learn to enjoy the simple things in life more and do so in his memory. Thank you Julian... farewell... and hope you will be there to welcome us in the big campus in the sky.

vendredi, mai 13, 2005

Pythonesque... The Life of Europa

I had prepared a blog about the prohibition of hoods in a shopping complex called Bluewater in Kent, UK. The reason that you are not reading it is that was lost somewhere along the way. Do read the article on the Guardian and compare reactions to the hysteria about banning of veils in France.

However, not to leave the blog empty before I leave for Malta I decided to leave you with a lovely link... when promoting the idea of Europe can also be fun...

that is what has europe done (one word) dot org.

See you in Malta
or see you in blogland after the 21st (unless I decide to stay in and blog tonight)

jeudi, mai 12, 2005

She cannot be serious!

I do not know whether to laugh or cry. Serves me right for even going on to read to the end of this.
To start with, the specimen spoke of reasonable cost-of-living while making me (obviously and beyond any doubt a lady) pay my own meal while sipping a cold drink out of a straw as if it were hot enough to melt his mouth.
Chivalric days! Wake up Lorna! Its the XXIst century.... pay your meal?? If you nagged on as badly as you nag in the article I would feel entitled that you pay my lunch. A sort of compensation. But then I am only a gentleman.
And again...

The behaviour of people at places of entertainment has also changed. Men are not dumping glasses on girls anymore. Needless to say, girls are consciously relying on the few traditional men left to corral that free drink. And by traditional I mean those that can afford to be traditional. God bless those men that remain traditional at heart but that can't live up to it!

Amusing? Hardly. Some more... translating to the subtle political message behind all this demeaning feminist (does it deserve to be called feminist) crap....

We value the real worth of the enjoyment of a Saturday night on the financial aftermath it might leave on our savings. Nothing is taken for granted anymore. Not even nightlife. Apart from such poor fellows as stood at the other end of my table looking at my food, most of us are conscious that the government's bad economic performance is even affecting our emotional lives. As I walked out of the restaurant my goodbye was more of a farewell although my intentions were never a "see you soon". The PN follower hardly knew he had seemed too pathetic to be worth revisiting. Firstly because of his strange penniless company but mostly because of his na�vet� in trying to impress someone by justifying the government.

Being such a helpless and unconscious victim of bad politics a ballot paper in his hand is like diamonds in front of pigs. I always doubted what democracy is based on but after this dinner - or semi-dinner - I'm doubting it the more.

Remember Vassallo number One on the ballot ... tal-pilot!
So what will be Labour's next slogan... Ivvota Lejber u jigu lura l-Kavallieri?
Poor old men who are traditional and can't live up to it.
I'm off to dump a glass on a girl.

mercredi, mai 11, 2005

Romani Ite Domum

(and not Romanes Eunt Domus)... destination Melita
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Packed the bags. Emptied the fridge. Vacuumed the apartment. Washed all the clothes. All set then. I'm going home. Yep� sticking a middle finger up to the Luxembourger false start of a summer and heading down south to the cradle of civilisation for a week. Now, considering that I do not actually hit the Maltese ground before 11pm on Saturday all this enthusiasm might sound a tad bit premature. Trust me though, when you have been subjected to freak weather for so long you start to look forward to getting on the plane ride home. I mean apparently it snowed across the border last weekend. Snowed!

No worries. I just wanted to give advance warning of my upcoming visit to all the blog community in case anyone would be interested in meeting over a beer or gluten-free drink next week. I can be contacted on 7975 1111 between May 14th and May 20th.

Constitutional Wisdom
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Napoleon once said that a constitution should be short and obscure. I am not sure whether he was talking about himself there but I understand what the little frog was getting at. Giscard's meisterwerk achieves more of an uncompromising compromise in what must be one of the greatest political oxymorons of all time. The irony is that people are being asked (in some countries) whether they agree with it or not. The French are taking it quite seriously and currently seem to swing towards the oui very gracefully.

Sant's minions also have decided to vote in favour of the Constitution. The patronising Nationalists are very happy, especially
David from MEP-land. Some hardcore Labourites are not happy about the way Sant goes about deciding this stuff in his very own manner of secluded non-consultation (see Mr Seychell's rant in today's Times). Wunderbar.

I think it's time the parties break down into more rational sections. A Thatcherite party under a Sant-Gatt partnership, a Quasi-Communist Revived Socialist under old style Labourites, an Opportunist Poll-led Nationalist Partit under (fill-in-blank with favourite nationalist), an ultra-Catholic Christian Democrat party under Dr Tonio Borg, a Liberal Non-aligned BR Movement under no-one. Oh yes� and AD under Harry.
wwwwwwwwwwweeelease wodwick!

Not too serious as a blog. But who said I have to be serious every time? More like Punch and less like Spectator today. Must be the Malta Fever taking over. Once again� I can't wait for the weekend to begin.

lundi, mai 09, 2005

Libiam! Libiam nei lieti calici!

Having kicked off with a couple of lists yesterday I have come up with another list. This time it is a list of drinks to order when at the bar. The order is no indication of preference although AVERNA does come a top first. Each drink depends on your mood and time of the day... so here we go... my ten best...
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1. Averna or Cynar.
As already described, nice on the stomach, love the taste and alcohol content is sufficient. Also look out for Picon... another bitter with oranges thrown in to boot.

2. That good glass of red wine.
For that evening meal or just when you are home for work.

3. Gin & Tonic.
Nights out without too much punch. The Gin has to be Gordon's. There is no other. Beware the mood swing though this does not work on yours truly.

4. Negroni.
At a wedding or party nothing beats the good old mix of Gin, Campari, Martini *rosso and Tonic/Lemonade. Easy though, it can be a real knockout.

5. Caipirinha / Mojito
For those lovely summer nights you have to give it to the brasilians. Cachacha all the way or a minty surprise.

6. Port
Sublime in the winter months.

7. Limoncello
Sublime after meals.

6. Creamy Espresso
Nothing beats this one when you really are in the mood for a feel good, feel alive drink.

7. Kinnie
Taste first. Can soft drinks get any better? Give me the bitter sweet any day.

8. Coke
Some meals shout out for coke. I know most people will think it is heresy but I do find the beverage a good accompaniment to certain fatty meals.

9. Green Tea with Mint
Relaxing. A good competitor for Camomille.

10. San Pellegrino Fizzy Water
When all else fails... this is the ultimate thirst quencher.

Outsider: Pina Colada

There... a useless blog if ever there was one. Many might wonder about the absence of whisky or beer from this list. Of course... it's gluten free!


dimanche, mai 08, 2005

Fumata Bianconera: Habemus Scudetto

Just woke up from a deep slumber which was necessary to wash off the copious amounts of Averna consumed during the match (a miraculous drink... good for an uneasy stomach, bitterly smooth on the palate and still with enough alcohol in it to go with the rhythm of the match). I blogged this post earlier under a different title (Juventus) with just one sentence.

I had to change the title of course since I am a fan of striscioni (banners put up by supporters). Notwithstanding all scaramanzia (superstition), the Juve fans put up the poster "FUMATA BIANCONERA: HABEMUS SCUDETTO" at the end of the match.... a clear allusion to the recent papal vote. Let's hope it turns out to be true... otherwise fup will never stop bitching.

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We won! Thanks to all for moral support... I'm in ecstasy!

Insanabile Cacoethes Scribendi

I was never warned that the blogging business also comes along with an insanabile cacoethes scribendi (an incurable urge to write). Like the tabloid editor, desperate to fill every last inch of the column, your average blogger is addicted to the filling in of his daily journal. The term �feed� I believe is used in those sites where you can track whether the blogs you follow have been updated (I�ve started to use newsgator but am still very green about it all). However feeding is just the right term. Like that famished pet dog that is always at your feet wanting more, your blog could turn out to be the worst drain to your attention since the dreaded tamagochi craze when people went around feeding electronic pets.

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Insanabile Cacoethes Scribendi - Juvenal

Now this is not to say that a blog is not intellectually more rewarding however the opposite of writer�s blog could be writer�s logorrhea where any amount of words are spat onto the page in an effort to fill. Just a bit of silliness really. Now I have found no cure for this urge except maybe to sit down and write and later discard without ever publishing. I never manage myself... my ego is too great to be able to discard any work no matter how much I can bring myself to admit it is worthless.

Today�s cacoethes scribendi is however attributable to a different matter altogether. It is a mental diversion. I originally wanted to blog about passion in all its different forms. I even researched the subect (sad as it may sound I am researching for a blog). Thing is, I cannot concentrate for a most banale of reasons (for some). Today, at 1500 hours GMT in the Stadio San Siro AC Berlusconi faces Juventus Turin as they are affectionately known this side of the Alps. What would seem to be a trivial occasion to many assumes monumental importance to people like myself. One reason may be the fact that I have psyched myself up for this moment through the whole season. The stage is set, the two giants will play before the bald arbiter and there can only be one victor. If not today the victor will be announced in the playoffs to be played on the 14th and 18th June. Poor heart. Poor heart.

So. Having abdicated from my passion duties due to my passion for il calcio I shall satisfy my urge to write and fill by doing something which is normally found in many Sunday papers. A list. Two lists actually. The first is a list of the books that I am currently reading (all at once yes, for I am unable to stick to the normal finish one and start another routine - since I read at night it is probably a parallel to the zapper infront of tv... selecting the best program to suit my needs at the particular moment). The second is a list of books that I open and refer to randomly since they are not meant to be read at one go and contain dips of wisdom here and there. So here we go...

Open Book
Dublin - Edward Rutherford
From the author of London, Sarum and comes another intriguing historic novel. If you�d love to learn about the history of these cities without going too much into the technical, rutherford�s books are just the right pill. I cannot wait for the day he writes The Three Cities (an account of the Three Cities and eventually Valletta) myself. Who will write to the guy?

La Mysterieuse Flame de la Reine Loana - Umberto Eco
Just started this one (in French). Looks like he is back to his best. Although I liked Baudolino and dredged through L�Isola del Giorno Prima, this new one seems to be just the ticket. Run to the stores and buy your copy ... preferably in Italian original but the French version is cool too.

The Motorcycle Diaries - Ernesto Che Guevara
A very good friend of mine just gave me this one. Also just started. Looks good. Have not seen the film and will not before I finish the book.

Quicksilver - Neal Stephenson
First book of a trilogy. The guys knowledge range is encyclopaedic. Problem is I keep losing the plot. The book is full of interesting facts and descriptions of life in another time (the period when alchemical discovery begins to split from real science and the period of the great mercantile wars). It is brilliant in its depth of research and information, I find it weak in its storyline (which is why I can never seem to get through the whole book). Has anyone else read it? Have you encountered the same problems?

Monsieur Rene - Peter Ustinov
A book that I bought from some second hand shop. Yes I did buy it because of the name, and because of the author who I loved as an actor. Mildly entertaining. An interesting scene is one where the author describes sex between two characters in their second youth. Humorous and touching.As for the story it�s ok, nothing special but Ustinov�s style and descriptions can make up for the cliche plot.

Open Reference
Giulietta e �na Zoccola (Tempi Supplementari) - Cristiano Militello
An overview of the best banners that have appeared recently in Italian football stadia. A must buy.

1515 et Les Grands Dates de l�Histoire de France - ed. A. Corbin
Not 1066 and all that. An extremely interesting collection of essays on the different events that make up the history of France. It is an auto-critique of the French by the French. Taking as its point of reference a popular history textbook of the 30�s, the book reexamines the myths created in order to create a popular idea of La France and contrasts them with what really happened. Read about the founding of Marseilles, Pepin Le Bref , Jean d�Arc, and much much more.

The Book of the Samurai - Hagakure
Bought this one after seeing Ghost Dog. Not bad. Has some insightful information but can be quite a disappointment sometimes.

The Art of Travel - Alain de Botton
Interesting analysis of the why and because of tourism from a personal and almost spiritual point of view.

101 experiences de philosophie quotidien - Roger Pol-Droit
101 exercises using little more than your work desk or your telephone. Little challenges which help you discover new perspectives.

Factoid of the Day
1906: In 1906 a spareggio was necessary between Milan and Juventus and this was played in Torino by reason of the better goal difference of the Turin side. Thematch ended in a no-score draw. The Federation decided that a rematch would be played at the neutral stadium of US Milanese (another team from Milan at the time). Juventus did not accept the decision and did not turn up at the stadium. Milan won by default.

You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.

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The French Poster for Fight Club

I have just finished doing what I had not found time to do for a very long time. I just finished watching Fight Club. I had stupidly shunned the movie believing (from the title) that it was yet another silly movie excuse to film people fighting. Little had I known that the film is about much more than that. My mind is still reeling from the movie so I will not be able to make much sense of it at this point [and in the back of my mind there is a little monitor warning me that I have already used the dreaded word "movie" twice instead of the more homely "film"].

So. What do I make of it? The political non-messages are endless. The egalitarianisation of the individual through the shunning of commerce, career and what we call life has an interesting twist. Is it the recycled story of communism/fascism? Maybe, but an intriguing way of looking at it nonetheless. Could the way we fill in the gap between our first and last breath be any more different? Any more useful?

Could we really become beautiful and uniques snowflakes? I'm knackered and cannot think much. One thing though, I think that Brad Pitt (in this case) and Nicole Kidman (she springs to mind from the Interpreter -goodish film) should have obligatory subtitles. Do people just get jobs in Hollywood because they are stunning? What ever happened to clarity of dialogue?

So. I am not a beautiful and unique snowflake and I will never have a major Hollywood part unless I learn to mumble incomprehensibly and... oh yes... unless a miracle happens and I become drop-dead-handsome.

Useful/less Quotes from the Flick
  • On a large enough time line, the survival rate for everyone will drop to zero.
  • This was freedom. Losing all hope was freedom.
  • One minute was enough, Tyler said, a person had to work hard for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection.
  • You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you're satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you've got your sofa issue handled. Then the right set of dishes. Then the perfect bed. The drapes. The rug. Then you're trapped in your lovely nest, and the things you used to own, now they own you.
  • May I never be complete. May I never be content. May I never be perfect. Deliver me, Tyler, from being perfect and complete.
  • I wanted to burn the Louvre. I'd do the Elgin Marbles with a sledgehammer and wipe my ass with the Mona Lisa. This is my world, now. This is my world, my world, and those ancient people are dead.
  • You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile.
  • I am the all-singing, all-dancing crap of this world.... I am the toxic waste by-product of God's creation.
  • You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.
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a snowflake. not so beautiful but definitely unique.

vendredi, mai 06, 2005

Ludendo Castigat Mores

The Italian comedian Beppe Grillo is now also part of the blogosphere. Grillo was an early inspiration for my understanding of politics. With Grillo you learn that conforming to normal ways of politicians does not necessarily get you anywhere. You learn that there are many things that remain unsaid in mainstream politics. It was probably through watching Grillo that I got my first insights that 'politicians are all the same' and that sometimes the political class is more interested in power than in progress. When Grillo vanished from the tv screens we lost a valuable source of insights. His blog might be a welcome breath of fresh air.

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The Eco-comedian-politician Beppe Grillo

jeudi, mai 05, 2005

Guida pe' magnaccioni

Not much to blog about today given that I have spent the whole of this Public Holiday in Luxembourg Spring Cleaning. It has to be written with a capital S and capital C since it is a BIG DEAL in casa Zammit. The occasion for such zeal is the fact that I am now sole tenant of 22, Rue De Bragance and a bit of personalisation is due.

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Instead of the usual banter and pompous pontification I shall regale readers with a short guide to good places I have visited in Rome where you can down your choiciest cibo Romano with that good red wine.

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Pride of place goes to Sha-Bar in via Pietro Borsieri. Run by my childhood friend Helmut, lovers of life will definitely enjoy the experience for apart from the atmosphere the host will ensure that all is well at all times. Maltese would be more than welcome since Helmut knows us all inside out. So here is the site to find out how to get there and for a taster of menu, wine list et al. Incidentally if you are catching a taxi there you would be well advised to give the following direction... Vicino a Piazza Mazzini alla fine di Via Poma si trova Via Pietro Borsieri (which is the road where Sha-Bar is so delicately placed).

Il Brillo Parlante
For a good gastronomic experience in the centre of the city Il Brillo is definitely not to be missed. The food is fantastic, the choice of wine is great and the ambience magnificent. While waiting for a table upstairs, the barman can conjure up something fantastic using just champagne and strawberries... divine. Getting there could not be easier... start from Piazza del Popolo walk up Via del Babuino (on the way to Piazza di Spagna) and the restaurant is found on the first turning to the right. If you decide to walk up Via del Corso it is obviously the first turning on the left.

No website for this one. That's because its as crude as it gets. Just get to Piazza Flaminio and then walk towards the lungotevere. There, just off the bridge, you will see a kiosk. Just like those many kiosks set up around Malta selling pastizzi etc. This guys rules though. For the ultimate taste of heaven try the spiedini d'abbachio. They melt in your mouth. Order around fifty for you just will not stop.

Got more but got no time. The duster and pledge await.
Alla prossima.

mercredi, mai 04, 2005

Ad Maiorem Popoli Comoditatem

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The Porte des Bombes as reproduced in Times of Malta


To provide for the preservation of the area outside Porte des Bombes.
(5th July, 1933)*
Enacted by ACT XX of 1933, as amended by Acts
XIII of 1983 and XXIV of 1995.

1. This Act may by cited as the Porte des Bombes Area (Preservation) Act.

2. In this Act -"the area outside Porte des Bombes" � means the whole public space between Pieta Creek, Porte des Bombes and the public gardens at Blata l-Bajda, Marsa, shown in red on the plan which, after the introduction of this Act, was laid on the table of the Senate and of the Legislative Assembly and a copy whereof, signed by the Governor, the Chief Clerk of the Legislative Assembly is hereby ordered to attach to the fair copy of this Act which, in terms of section 52 of the Malta
Constitution Letters Patent, 1921, he is required to cause to be enrolled on record in the Office of the Registrar of Courts.

3. The area outside Porte des Bombes is hereby declared to be a non-building area and excluded from commerce, and any deed of conveyance of any part of such area or of any real right over such area which any Government Administration may make in favour of any third party shall be null.

4. (1) The right of action for a declaration of nullity in respect of any transfer made in contravention of this Act shall appertain indistinctly to any person and he shall not be required to show any private interest in support of his action. (2) No fee shall be charged by the Registrar of Courts in respect of the filing by the plaintiff of any judicial act in connection with the exercise of the said action or of the service of any such act, and no registry fee shall be levied in respect of any decision on such action.

5. It shall likewise be competent to any person, in the public interest, to bring an action for the demolition of any building or other structure erected by any person, or by the Government, on the area outside Porte des Bombes.

6. In any action under sections 4 and 5 the court shall, in allowing the claim, order the defendant to pay to the plaintiff a sum not less than fifty liri nor exceeding five hundred liri: Provided that such sum shall be awarded to that plaintiff only who shall first have brought with success the proper action under this Act.

*See Government Notice No. 218 of the 19th of June, 1933 and Act No. V of 1927 omitted under the Malta Statute Law Revision Ordinance, 1936, and the Statute Law Revision Act, 1980.
�See the Porte des Bombes Area (Exemption) Act, (Chapter 119) exempting a specified site from the provisions of this Act.

The Porte des Bombes Act is a clear indication of the significance of this monument to the Maltese people. Much before the advent of UNESCO Heritage Sites, the Maltese self-government was enacting legislation intended to protect the area. Il-Bombi as it is affectionately known, is our Arc de Triomphe, our Tour Eiffel, our Colosseo, in its own way. The inscription on the Arch decries "For the greater comfort of the people". Much more eloquent than the Amsterdam Arch with the witty aphorism but a description that befits an Arch placed there to serve the people.

And it is the sons of the sons of the very people who it was intended to serve who were forced to wake up to the humiliating attack on this monument. Some cave-dwelling cunt decided to daub oil across the face of this very monument. The arch that is there for the people was defaced by a part of the people. Il-Bombi does not seem to have been the only target of the desp-oil-er but it is the most significant one of them all. It is an insult. A spit in the face of the people. It is not a political protest. It cannot be. Political protests are intelligent and most times constructive � even when you disagree with them. This is the basest form of expression of disagreement and the perpetrators should be hung, drawn, quartered and preferably daubed in oil and burnt.

But everyone knows that. It is ironic that the law protecting the Bombes is the only one in Malta that allows for an actio popularis. Articles 4 and 5 allow any person to act in the interest of protecting the monument. It could be one person or a group of persons (a collective action). The patrimonial value of the monument could not be more evident than in this exceptional case under Maltese law. You do not need to demonstrate a personal interest, a lien, with the Porte des Bombes. Anyone. Anyone can defend it.

The question is�. Will we?

If civilisation has got the better of barbarism when barbarism had the world to itself, it is too much to profess to be afraid lest barbarism, after having been fairly got under, should revive and conquer civilisation. A civilisation that can thus succumb to its vanquished enemy, must first have become so degenerate, that neither its appointed priests and teachers, nor anybody else, has the capacity, or will take the trouble, to stand up for it. If this be so, the sooner such a civilisation receives notice to quit the better. It can only go on from bad to worse, until destroyed and regenerated (like the Western Empire) by energetic barbarians.
- John Stuart Mill

mardi, mai 03, 2005

Rome Springs Eternal

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Piazza di Spagna in Flower

My absence from the ether is due to an escapade to the eternal city for a prolonged weekend. To be honest living in Luxembourg is not half as bad as the impression that is normally given by us denizens of the Duchy. Wet, grey and excessively organised does of course have its downside but I do find that you can get used to it and strange as it may seem I even tend to refer to my flat on the park as home. For yesterday's homecoming both the Duchy and the Royaume up north reserved a nice surprise of sun and green transforming the three hour train ride from Brussels into a pleasant experience that was not even spoilt by the usual loud brats who invariably hop onto the train at Namur/Naamen.

Back to La Citt� Eterna. Vecchia Roma was bursting with life and colour. Tourists in their thousands as well as the invasion of communists and reds and sindacalisti on their way to the Festa di Primo Maggio. A lovely mesh of in-duh-viduals in their own right zooming from one sunlit terrazzo to another. One thing you see in Rome (and Naples) is the look in tourists eyes� tired from adventuring through the maze of public transport, exhausted from their negotiations with the latest waiter who will force feed them what he is SURE they will like from his menu, and knackered by the sweltering sun, they resort to mini-espresso breaks. Now your average tourist (especially those hailing from this area) is used to his 'espresso' as being that soup-like serving which is a little less than an americain (yep the French had the audacity to describe a type of coffee as American). They are definitely NOT prepared for the compressed punch of caffeine that is the Roman espresso. So tired they are� but suddenly driven to overdrive with eyes wide open and bloodshot. (Ma n'do vai? Se l'espresso non ce l'hai?)
Roma, Roma, Roma,
chi nasce qua non t�abbandona.
Roma, Roma, Roma,
chi vi� da fori se �nnamora.
Roma citt� eterna,
oma citt� aperta,
Roma cos� antica,
Roma cos� moderna.
Sotto la coperta delle mejo stelle,
noi la stessa madre ma con diversa pelle.
Le cose belle non le tiene sotto il letto,
le porta sopra al petto come uno scudetto.
Fatto e detto nel 2000 in un momento,
Roma sempre dentro e fuori dal tempo.
Noi colla barba bianca, il passo pi� stanco,
morto un Papa infondo se ne fa un altro.
Un altro sindaco al comando mi raccomando,
qui ciascuno � pagina di un libro eterno

-Er Piotta

Disorganisation is paramount (and I was shocked to note my sudden distaste of chaos� am I being Luxembourgified?) but everything still manages to happen in the way only disorganised chaos can make it happen. More effective than that was the beauty of the spring air in the south. You could feel the slow Mediterranean pulse starting to increase its beat along with the cool breezes of the night. The long thaw of early spring was over and the rites of spring have revived the spirit of fun, food and frolic. The 1st May celebration was also that in Rome. No doubt about it. The beat goes on� the Mediterranean days with the cricket and the dryness are on their way� the nights of wine and dancing are also shooting into the picture. That is where saudade begins, that is where all attempts at justifying living in the Duchy ends�. That is when I am glad that come 14th May I will be landing in Malta for what I hope will be a week of breathing in all that is wonderful about out land and our people.

Meanwhile� I will kill time here� really really really trying to understand whether a country bursting in green, a park in flower, birds in the air and the daily sun-or-rain gamble can ever really become a second home.

Until now I remain convinced�

give to me the bumpy roads,
the shabby transport system,
give to me
the drive-as-you please,
the minister and missing gas cistern
give to me a ride by the sea,
il- front, tal-pep� and the hilton tower
far from the duchy as far as can be
away from this spring of shower!!

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Euclide Train Station