jeudi, juin 30, 2005

When the Gods Came Down to Play

"Nel senso che la Sele�ao incanta, ma soprattutto vince, con un modulo tattico che nel Belpaese farebbe scomunicare, con la patente di eretico, qualsiasi allenatore. E invece Parreira, che ha dichiarato proprio oggi che lascer� la panchina dopo il Mondiale tedesco, schiera uno spavaldo, nello schema e negli interpreti, 4-2-2-2. Difesa a quattro puntellata (?) da Roque Junior, uno che in serie A faceva la riserva nel Siena. Poi due mediani (?) davanti alla difesa: Emerson, che da noi � apprezzato soprattutto per gli inserimenti offensivi, e Z� Roberto, ex ala sinistra, certo pi� portato a costruire gioco che a distruggerlo. Poi la coppia di talenti Ronaldinho-Kak�, dietro al diamante grezzo Robinho e ad Adriano, piazzato al centro dell'attacco.

La ricetta Brasile � semplice: tenere palla, farla girare, e poi affidarsi alla fantasia ed alla classe dei singoli. Se la palla ce l'hai tu, anche l'avversario pi� temibile diventa innocuo, e provate voi a togliere il pallone ai brasiliani, tutti dotati di tecnica invidiabile. E cos� anche una difesa sulla carta non proprio ermetica diventa una specie di cassaforte (quasi) inespugnabile. L'Argentina, che pure l'8 giugno, mica preistoria, aveva battuto i verdeoro 3-1 a Buenos Aires in una gara valida per le qualificazioni mondiali, vendicando la rocambolesca sconfitta patita nella finale di Coppa America, non riesce a reagire, e finisce per fare la figura dello sparring partner. Da non credere."

....because when Brasil beat Argentina 4-1 and they play the way they played, you begin to understand why there is nothing better than the beautiful game.

mercredi, juin 29, 2005

Non Sequitur #3

This is Luxembourg. In Luxembourg you can have a day of relative sunshine where you even plan to leave work early and get to the Lake in Remerschen in 30 mins for a quick dip.

Until, that is, the storm comes along. One huge rumble in the jungle of clouds and your dreams are shattered. Or wet. Wet dreams. Wet with the sudden torrential downpour that makes sure that any trip to the lake is definitely cancelled.

Thank God for the Confederations Cup Final! Go Brasil Go!

The True European

I was listening to WAKY radio on my way to work today. WAKY is a highly duh!mericanised radio in Luxembourg which gives us the best of CNN news every hour or so. It is the kind of radio that puts baseball and basketball at the top of its sports news and the only time you hear anything about Il Campionato, the Championship or La Liga is at the start of the year or at the end. It is a small wonder how it is still one of my preset stations in fact. What WAKY does have is a good music selection. It is definitely non-selective and plays German, Italian, French, English and (American) music in a balanced manner. This morning, for example, I enjoyed a humouristic Italian rap song about Federica, full of puns and double-entendres about the pleasures of masturbation. I wondered how many listeners in the good old Duchy could really understand that this Italian rapper was really glorifying the features of his five-fingered friend� "Federica la mano amica".

This set me thinking (in my own perverted serendipitous way of thinking) about the true European once again. I have written before about Europe's need to find itself in this time of crisis. More importantly I have referred to the need to define its base before setting off on a renewed project. The basic question remains the citizen. Who is the European citizen? What does he want to achieve? What tools does he need?

The Acquis Communautaire that is currently under crisis management was built on the foundation of peace and general well-being. The basic premise of the founding-fathers was that a group of nations that mutually benefit each other economically would no longer find any reason to enter into periodical blood-baths. Thus the common market. With the common market came the four freedoms � goods, services, persons and capital. The rights and freedoms which the European Community brought to its demos where economically oriented � the freedom to move for persons, for their capital, their goods and the services that they provide. Movement is what Europe was to be built on.

Which is why at times it is difficult to get the citizen to understand the basics of Europe and its Union. We have to picture the businessman on the move benefiting from Schengen while shifting his capital investments or his goods from one country to another. The proletariat could not feel the benefits Europe was bringing it. Who could explain in simple terms the ground-breaking decisions of the court relating to the Direct Effect of regulations? Was it not easier to describe the EU developments as some monster in Brussels always wanting more and giving less?

The people were most frustrated when things stopped working. By things I mean national economies and their slowdown. I mean employment levels. I mean cost of living. They then tried to put their finger on the culprits and found a mess of representation that they could not understand.

Back to the main question. How do we define today's European? Do we still need the movements as a basis? Can I be European and be lazy and not need to move? Do I need a European element to be able to fall under this immense project? What if I stay in my little village all my life? Can I still be European? Do we need to devise a sense of belonging? A sense of acceptance? A oneness? Or a plurality that accepts its collective goal? Once again another blog with many questions and no answers. However I do believe that asking the questions is a good start!
Id-dinja mistoqsija....

mardi, juin 28, 2005

Non Sequitur #2

The "Polish plumber" was the bogeyman threatening French jobs in France's referendum on the EU constitution. Poland is now wooing French tourists with this ad, which says: "I am staying at home, come in large numbers" .

I wonder when the Sicilian Carpenter advertising campaign will be launched in Malta!

lundi, juin 27, 2005

Malta's Volstead Act (16)

Malta's Minister for Social Solidarity (do we need a greater indication as to what model of Europe we would support? ... fisheries my arse) has let it be known that the Cabinet Social Policy Committee is studying a proposal to ban the consumption of alcohol by minors (under 18s). Ms Cristina informed the general public of this cunning government plan during the launching ofa Binge Drinking Awareness Campaign by Sedqa.

It appears that Malta placed 5th in alcohol and other drugs consumption in Europe among 16-year olds. The Times Editorial thunders that "Alcohol Abuse is omnipresent and must be addressed. The longer we take to address the problem the more difficult it will become to solve." I read on through the yada yada we have come to expect whenever the fact that the alcohol spirit is raising its ugly head over our vulnerable youngsters becomes apparent. What strikes me is the remedies that are being proposed. Education, legislation and suspension of licence for anyone caught selling alcohol to minors.

The Torquemadas are out in their droves again. When faced with a problem, our solution is always punish, punish and more punish. As world bible champions we find great comfort in fashioning the latest "Thou shalt not" rules. Read the editorial. It is an invitation to a crusade. Eradicate the little vermin and their access to alcohol.

Give me a break!!! Minister Cristina. While you and your Social Policy Committee are busy drafting the coolest prohibition act since Mr. Volstead pulled one on an unsuspecting American populace, the little towns of sin called Paceville and Bugibba are still sprouting an off-license at every corner. Take a stroll down St. George's Road between Spinola and Burger King and count the number of places from where alcohol is easily accessible. When I left Malta a year ago Paceville was still in the process of shedding useless bars in favour of night shops selling vodka and red bull by the bottle. When bars do open and want to be successful it is as specialised outlets wherein one can wreck one's liver at a cheap price. The Vodka Bar, the Shooters bar etc etc.

Minister Cristina. While you and the Social Policy Committee are busy prohibiting, no one is getting busy providing an ALTERNATIVE. What are we encouraging youngsters to do? In my youth it was the time of no to skateboarding (not that I liked it), no to music (not many concerts out there anyway), and definitely no theatre. Put yourself in a sixteen year olds shoes who has to choose between the fun of (a) the price of two cinema tickets, a small popcorn and a small coke at any cinema or (b) one bottle (BOTTLE) of vodka and a couple of cans of red bull. Add to this peer pressure and lack of sustainable alternatives and bingo� that's the spirit.

I'm not too sure but I get the impression that we are busy polishing the stick but there is no sign of the carrot. First we allow the creation of a world of temptation and inevitable inebriation, then at the same stroke we say don't touch, don't taste, don't swallow. Any ideas?

"Let me give you a little inside information about God. God likes to watch. He's a prankster. Think about it. He gives man instincts. He gives you this extraordinary gift, and then what does He do, I swear for His own amusement, his own private, cosmic gag reel, He sets the rules in opposition. It's the goof of all time. Look but don't touch. Touch, but don't taste. Taste, don't swallow. Ahaha. And while you're jumpin' from one foot to the next, what is he doing? He's laughin' His sick, fuckin' ass off. He's a tight-ass. He's a sadist. He's an absentee landlord. Worship that? Never."

Al Pacino, The Devil's Advocate

dimanche, juin 26, 2005

Who do you think you are kidding Antonio Tajani?

In the 1980�s the magnanimous Socialist government of Malta introduced a law entitled the Foreign Interference Act. This Ligi tal-Indhil Barrani prohibited any foreign politician from coming to our sacred isle and polluting our minds with �foreign ideas�. Just like in the comedy series �The League of Gentlemen�, we were not to be exposed to anything that was not �local�. The political parties stopped vying for the best barrani to come and teach us ignoramuses what was best for our country (of course Kim Il Sung, Tito and some other venerable beings would be let through anyway... theirs was not �indhil� (interference) but �investiment� (erm ... investment without an I)).

With the removal of this abominable (erm.. like undesireable but worse) piece of Mintoffian legislation the great luminaries of both parties returned to old habits of inviting interesting non-locals to teach us a lesson or two about life. Exit Flaminio Piccoli enter Joe Cocker. What a beautiful life!

Today the occasional visit to the isle of milk, honey and illegal immigrants (sic) is an everyday occurrence since we are now EU-ropeans. The flurry of EU Commissioners and EU-ticians before the referendum for membership was a clear indication that when it comes to foreign politicians we are great importers. This is not an entirely Maltese phenomenon. Not at all. The press in Mitteleuropa (as they would love to be called around here) regularly report on the exchange of politicians and other intelligentsia crossing borders and preaching to their neighbours.

Today�s Times reports of Signor Antonio Tajani of Forza Italia and EPP fame who crossed the straits and channel to tell us that �Malta�s Yes would send a strong signal to Europe�. As reported in the Times...

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Tajani and the Masses

Speaking during a conference on the EU Constitution organised at Le Meridiein Phoenicia by Nationalist MEPs Simon Busuttil and David Casa and chaired by Professor Joe Pirotta, Mr Tajani said that after the negative votes of France and The Netherlands, the vote of the Maltese parliament would bring a change in Europe.

It would be an important vote which would show that the French and Dutch votes were not against the Constitution but against Europe as it was today.

The EU was too bureaucratic and detached from citizens, and the people did not like this.

So. In practice, Antonio Tajani is telling us clearly that Europe would appreciate the YES of our parliament in favour of the Constitution. It would appreciate the YES from our Nationalist and Labourite MPs in Valletta that is. Because this would not be Malta�s YES. It would be the YES of Maltese Parliamentarians. The fact of the matter remains that this Europe seems to be made of two bodies... the politicians and the electorates. The politicians seem to be, in their majority, Junkerites - politicians who, when the people say NO, will just ask again until a YES comes round. Few, like Blair have read the signs on the wall (admittedly it was also in his earnesses interest), and noticed that this message from the electorate is not to be ignored.

Mr Tajani is of the old school it seems. The Maastricht school. Get the parliaments to vote YES, get the masses who voted NO to vote again and let�s get on with it. Malta will send a strong signal by voting YES says Signor Tajani.

Who do you think you are kidding Mr Tajani? B�min tahseb li qed titnejjek? Now, I am in favour of the Constitutional document per se. (or should I say of A constitutional document). Although I would agree that it would require a few amendments, I do agree that it is on the whole an acceptable document given the compromises out of which it arises. I do recognise however that the peoples of Europe have used the vote to signal their discontent with the state of affairs in the Old Continent�s major trading block. Now we are being told by Mr Tajani that a vote in our parliament will send a signal to Europe.

What signal? That the Maltese people are not troublesome? That, unlike the Dutch and French (and potentially many others) we are not irked by the etat de l�Europe? That the tiny spot in the Med has capitulated to the will of the political old-guard and is still willing to play along to Maastricht style games with the ram-the-agreement-down-their-throat system? No grazie Signor Tajani. I would have been more in favour of a postponement of the ratification. A symbolic one.

I would have preferred the Maltese government (and opposition) to have reached an agreement that showed that they too understood the pulse of the moment. That they would use this period of reflection like other States to reassess the State of the Union. Bide their time, come up with something constructive and participate in this new chance for the revitalised reconstruction of Europe. Hmm. Re-reading the paragraph I think I have been exposed to too much foreign thinking. I might need an Indhil Barrani pill or two.

PN and MLP agreeing to collaborate and participate in the building of a new, better, people�s Europe?

Who do I think I am kidding?


PS Neebother is up and running again! The Pygmy armed with a laptop is inflicting Nanotechnological blogs on the ethernet at

Non Sequitur #1

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It costs a little less than 300,000 Euros to buy a three bedroom house in Metz, France. This includes your own garden, your play room, your cellar and a garage.

For the same price you could buy a two bedroom apartment in Sliema, Malta. No parking, no greenery, no playroom, no cellar and if you are lucky it has "walking distance to the sea" written in its description.

jeudi, juin 23, 2005

She Stoops to Conquer

A few among us bloggers of the blogosfera have opted to use the blog as an opinion column of sorts. We do not form part of the journalistic reportage style of blog (at least not all the time) and neither do we indulge in self-chronicling activity of the Pepys sort. We stick instead to that most Maltese of fashions - the opinionist. This uncontrollable spill-over from the paper has allowed the proliferation of easily accessible opinions for those who are brave enough to tread (and have time enough to read) into the various private realms of thought.

This does not mean however that the original opinionists have vanished from the various journals and rags that adorn our island. The Becks (godblesshissould), Vassallos (raphael & lorna, jg), Caruana Galizias, Mallias, Roamers, etc invariably provide their ha�penny worth of ideas to the populace who can still afford that quarter of a lira to purchase one of the dailies. Whenever I read this kind of column I always wondered what were the criteria for accepting the columnist in the first place. Some like Beckgodblesshissoul (will stop this arse-licking as soon as I get over the number of hits I got following his mention), Raphael and Daphne fit to column writing like a glove. Others, hmm how shall I put this... others make me wonder whether the editor was on a drinking binge when their first application found its way from the in-tray to his desk.

You may have guessed. I have another bone to pick with her again. Punctually every Thursday Lorna �Robin�s Hood� Vassallo is regaling us with another diatribe against the forces of capitalism, money in general, the upper-classes and probably Darth Vader (oh... and the inferior This week the Dame of the Poor and Destitute has harrumphed oncemoretime against upper-class virtuosos and more particularly against the Order of the Knights of St. John for having refused her application to become a promise-to-geyser Dame purportedly because of her labourite roots.

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I will leave you to read the particulars here. I beg you however to set aside for a moment the fact that it is rather ironic, oxymoronic and moronic in the least that a full-fledged labourite should be seeking any title such as a knighthood - especially by filling an internet application form. Here is an excerpt from the ending (WARNING: this piece might contain spoilers, should you prefer to enjoy the article in its full entirety click HERE first)....

It is very rare that leftists fill in applications to become knights as such honours slip on a leftist's skin as water slips off a fish-skin - but curiosity did kill the cat in my case. Wanting to know what you needed to become a knight at this day and age... I discovered more than I should about the whole affair.

Well, speaking of exclusive clubs... and questioning what comes first: being titled or being rightist, I guess I'll never ask this again. Wish the honourable, honorary and honoured Grand Master knew of all this! Rome being so far away! Will the dear readers ever see me honoured with knighthood or is it that in my case knighthood is denied?

I will leave it up to Marlow from Goldsmith�s She Stoops to Conquer to provide the final quote:

�the difference of our birth, fortune, and education,
make an honourable connection impossible.�

Dies Irae

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Michelangelo's Dies Irae

I am not a translator. Nor am I an interpreter. Notwithstanding the fact that I work at the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg the continuing existence of my employment contract does not depend in any way upon any of these two jobs. I work in French (la langue de la Cour) and I have not yet had to depend on the law as written in my vernacular since no complicated case based upon conflicting terminology between the Melito-Semitic and the Hunno-Allemannic language has hit our Cabinet and its workload yet. There. That is my declaration of interest. I am not speaking out of personal interest in this particular post.

I am referring of course to the article entitled Utterly Pointless by DCG in today�s Indy. The pointless in the title refers to the probable scramble for new translating recruits in order to fulfill our obligations to Europe and ourselves within the project of continuously translating the community Acquis (god, hadn�t we taken a break from that word?). Daphne rightly assess the context of the need for translators as something brought about upon all parties involved for a political gain by the Maltese Republic. This gain means that we will need many many translators in Luxembourg and Brussels and that the pool of persons from where these translators are taken will be a loss for the (intelligent) human resources pool in Malta (brain drain - see previous posts elsewhere on the blogosphere).

Daphne is wrong, however, when she says that the translators will have to be paid for. The money comes from the EU and not directly from the Maltese government. The salary of EU civil servants is exclusively from the EU coffers and the Maltese contribution to that salary is considerably (very considerably) less and much much much less of a burden to the annual project of our Minister of Finance.

Now two things will be debated. Firstly is Maltese really deserving of being a language of the EU-25? Secondly, can we afford the brain drain? The distraction of arguments dividing the patriots and Maltese-lovers from the boody rest will definitely weaken the quality of the overall debate (as usual). The spin-off of this debate interests me more. In my quest of finding out how to define the new European citizen the language question remains an enigma. Does accepting oneself (and one�s culture) and opening up to others at the same time involve multilingualism or translation?

By the way. I love Maltese. I am eternally grateful to the almighty for having placed me on the isle where they speak that unintelligible language. I do think it wonderful that we speak that classical arabic that some insist on calling �semitic not arabic� (sad, sad). The question is ... is Daphne right? Are we wasting resources? I will sit back, popcorn and coke in hand... and anticipate that Daphne will face the ire of one or two of these modern day Knights of the Language. After all... isn�t the pen mightier than the sword?

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Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus,
cum vix justus sit securus?

mercredi, juin 22, 2005

Demos Inside

Have you ever noticed the sudden silence that pervades an office just as you turn off the computer and switch off the printer? The silence that is deafening and relaxing at the same time, like that plunge into the sea head first and as your body slows down after the impact there is that second or two of absence of noise. That same silence that is present in the countryside, the absence of that ubiquitous static that dominates our lives thanks to modern technology.

I would imagine a similar kind of silence were the big project called Europe to suddenly stop working. That barely perceptible but irritating background hum would suddenly vanish with one pop like an exploding bubble. The bureaucratic machinery of the uncontrolled masters would fade away like the white spot on my grandfather's television as it reluctantly vanished into the background. The headaches of summits and horse-trading and British vs Franco-German impasse would disappear as instantly as the disappearance of that static sound once the off-switch is pressed on a non-responsive radio with a faulty antenna.

The next few moments are filled with idyllic heaven. That long drawn sigh of relief that inevitably follows the surprise brought about by the sudden silence� the stretching of arms and the refocusing of the brain which finally manages to hear itself. The awakening of senses that had been numbed by the repetitive buzz (as irritating as that lone mosquito in a summer night of sweat, humidity and no electricity) brings about newfound joy and energy if but for a moment.

Then comes the realisation� that with no buzz, no communication, no vision, no sound, no information� no modern luxury. Unless you are Amish, you begin to recognise that One Great Step For Silence has meant A Few Hundred Steps Back from modernity. The opportunity cost of the silence is daunting. How long before the plug is put back in place? The return to the hum is almost preordained� destined even!

The European project is definitely having its moment of crisis. The moment where the hum is unbearable, where the static is driving us mad, where, due to the background noise we cannot understand exactly what brought us here in the first place. The problem is that if the plug is pulled we will soon notice the absence of all the commodities that are brought about by the hum. "What has Europe ever done for us?" And "The Cost of Non-Europe" will then become a reality again. The pre-ordained destiny of this Europe will return. This time however, before replacing the plug and getting the machinery going again it will be important to define why it is being done.

This time, the framers and drafters of the new Europe that is to rise like a phoenix from the ashes of this crisis must remember to strengthen the existential ratio of this project. They must, above all remember that this machine has a very important part without which the hum becomes a very useless exercise and nuisance. This Europe MK II must work with the latest processor� there must be a People Inside �.

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* for an interesting discussion on the new Europe after the Constitution go here.

mardi, juin 21, 2005

Do you like Fisheries?

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From The Times (UK)

Malta. That island of fishermen, fishermen and erm... more fishermen. Do you like Fisheries Policies?

dimanche, juin 19, 2005

Crossed Lines - The Beck Effect

First of all, Happy Father's day to all the dads out there.

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I can't believe its not a pro-life poster!

One dad in particular was very nice to me and mentioned J'Accuse on The Times. I am talking of none other than the inspirational I.M. Beck. The link from his weekly column produced a previoulsy unseen surge of hits in J'Accuse. J'Accuse had 454 hits on Saturday 18th June (the average used to be 102). Not having much time to blog this weekend I would just like to holler a big thank you to Mr. Beck for the mention and for the opportunity to prove the possibility of the positive effects of the symbiotic workings between Blog and MSM.

Have to rush off to the Clausen for a brunch at an anglophilic cooking place called Maybe Not Bob's. Had to end this blog with a gastronomic slant... must be Beck's influence.

vendredi, juin 17, 2005

Blog Fatigue

Twanny (Triq il-Maqluba fame) is currently visiting the Grand Duchy as part of his tour of the heart of Europe. We have been hitting the streets of the wildest town this side of Nairobi almost every night in the company of Mark Vella (the wankellectual) and the discussion inevitably turns to Blogs and Blogging every other minute.

Yesterday, between one highly intellectual discussion about obscure bands like the Smiths and another about the Kuwait-France match of the 1982 World Cup, we discussed the recent dearth of blogging activity after the hurricane of hits and comments that hit us following the articles about the blogsofera on the MSM. Twanny mentioned a possible "Blog Fatigue". I like it. Blog Fatigue. I get Blog Fatigue when like arcibald I cannot stop bouncing from one blog to another in search of the latest posts. When like a blogoholic I search for new bloggers with interesting content.

More interesting is the question � who is reading our blogs? Are we reading ourselves? Is the blogsofera an exercise of collective navel-gazing by a restricted group or will the blogolution we have all been anticipating really happen? The statistics at hand paint a reassuring picture. Over the last 1,100 hits on J'Accuse 49% were from Malta. Belgium, the UK and Luxembourg also feature high on the list. I would say that around 55% of the hits would come from other bloggers� the ring clicking itself. This is intrinsically a good thing since it encourages debate and, through debate, improvement. However I continue to believe in the need to plug the blogosfera as much as possible and for this we need a portal. (click on The Good, the Blog and the Ugly for the beginning of an open project in this regard and place your comments there).

You may be asking what is my interest in all this? What do I expect to gain? Honestly, I am not sure� maybe a bit less unsure than in my first blog� the hunch is always there� something is happening and it is just round the corner� and I want to be there when it happens.

Meanwhile happy blogging over an eventful weekend and happy HTML, XML, RSS, SQL and whatever else has become common parlance in this day and age.


The Sound Race has been won by J'Accuse. In a private head-to-head race with Xifer, J'Accuse was the first to have streaming music on the site (Chi � lo Re?). (Strictly speaking music was first heard on Tgedwid). The first tune to be heard on J'Accuse was a midi file of "Bandiera Gialla" that was swiftly replaced by the Gozitan band The Tramps � "Inti Djamant". Childish games between wankellectuals and arrogant avvikoti. Isn't it another fun aspect of blog? Incidentally� has anyone seen Richard Marlowe?


Thermidor is down (or rather the host's pc). We wish Fausto a quick recovery. Throw away your PC and get on the MacWagon! Meanwhile Hazevi has gone rather serious. I was beginning to enjoy my companion in sarcasm� now I understand wwwitchie more when she says she misses the humorous bloggati.

jeudi, juin 16, 2005

Soundtrack #1: Gozitano

Siciliano (L.Dalla)

La lava in fiamme scende la collina
mi lavo i piedi, � domenica mattina
il sole picchia in testa come un assassino
la piazza � in festa, la festa del patrono
il mare scuote il letto, � un collare intorno al collo
satelliti nell�aria caduti tutti intorno
e tra un rosario e un lutto cittadino
mi siedo e aspetto di parlare con qualcuno
son siciliano... mezzo africano...
un po� norvegese... un po� americano

La prua della barca taglia in due il mare
ma il mare si riunisce e rimane sempre uguale
e tra un greco, un normanno, un bizantino
io son rimasto comunque siciliano
Carmelo � biondo e ha in bocca un orecchino
si sente gi� europeo, europeo palermitano
e tra le case ancora da finire
noi continuiamo, continuiamo a far l�amore
sono siciliano... un po� saraceno...
un po� finlandese... ma pi� catanese

Guardo fuori l�obl� c�� una luna d�argento
l�aereoplano si scuote nel vento, io lo so
che tra un po� atterrer� e qualcuno mi attende
e mi sorrider�, appena mi vede
Carmelo dorme ai piedi del vulcano
il vento che aveva tra i capelli adesso lucida le stelle
negli occhi ha un sogno metropolitano
e un vulcano piano piano che si accende
sono siciliano... nord-africano...
un po� norvegese... ma comunque siciliano

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Heard while driving to work. Replace Siciliano with Gozitano. Inspired by this blog by Erezija and gybexi's comment on the same blog. Provincialism � la carte? Know thyself and be European. This should be the people's starting block. Yep, I think Kundera is right.

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la festa del patrono (san gorg megalomartri)

mercredi, juin 15, 2005

Power to the People (Get Up, Stand Up)

Before leaving for Luxembourg, one of my odd jobs in Malta was the morning newspaper review at Campus FM. I would look forward to the task every week even though this meant waking up at unearthly hours and having to read also the Maltese language media (because of their content not because of their language). I sorely miss this time for giving my slant on the day's news to the (rather numerous) listeners of that wonderful radio of my Alma Mater. I have been intrigued over the past week or so about the developments on the EU Constitution ratification process. Events at home and abroad must force us to pose one question. What role for the people? Who is deciding?

I have prepared this longish collage of excerpts from articles or reports in our newspapers. The highlights are mine. (The brackets in red are mine too). The scrolling quotes (wow!) are obviously my addition and are not necessarily related to the piece to which they are attached. Consider them a provocation.

1. To ratify or not to ratify (Alfred Sant, TMI, June 14)

The process has only been conducted by the Malta Labour Party. It has been subjected, as expected, to a running campaign of misinformation by those who believed it provided another opportunity to destabilise Labour. Overall, it proved to be a very healthy democratic exercise, even if media reporting about it was skimpy at best� but that, too, was to be expected.

So maybe it would be a good idea to chronicle today, for the record, Labour�s internal debate about whether to vote for or against ratification of the EU�s constitutional treaty, as discussions developed in past weeks. The process was always projected to end with a general conference vote in secret, about the option to be adopted.


All in all, the internal discussion within Labour regarding the constitutional treaty has been a rewarding experience. The usual attempts were made to try and present a sombre and melodramatic picture of events in the Labour camp � because as in all other European parties, contrasting views were held and expressed about the whole issue. No doubt, we will have more of such media circuses, run by �hidden� coordinators who have become very recognisable and predictable.

Beyond their antics however (whose antics?), Labour has done a big service to this country by showing how a deep political discussion can be held within a framework that respects realities, while providing the space for intelligent and meaningful debate. That this has happened around a �hot� European issue confirms how right the electorate was in June last year, to give its thumbs up to Labour�s candidates in the national election for the European Parliament.

Democracy is the name we give the people whenever we need them. - Marquis de Flers Robert

2. Anti-Constitution Motion (KMB, TOM, June 14)

Former Labour leader Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici yesterday published the motion he will be presenting at the MLP general conference on June 30.

The motion states that the Malta Labour Party should not vote in favour of the ratification of the EU Constitution because this would override the national Constitution (right); it renews the negative aspects of the accession treaty negotiated by a Nationalist government; and it leaves out the declaration on neutrality and the concept that Gozo is a region. The motion also states that the European Constitution increases the hold the EU has on its member states and binds them to follow its anti-social economic policies and commercial policies based on globalisation and the exploitation of workers. It also increases social injustice and imposes the assistance to EU states that are attacked militarily. The MLP, the motion says, should work with progressive forces to draft a new European Constitution that safeguards independence and sovereignty, encourages cooperation across the board and ensures sustainable development, as well as having as its main aim peace based on neutrality and the reduction of weapons, including those of mass destruction.

So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men. Voltaire

3. Love of Labour (Anna Mallia, Maltatoday, June 12)

Nowadays, I hardly recognise any difference between the two major political parties and this has found its peak in the marital way in which they are handling the issue of the ratification of the European Constitution. That the Nationalist Party ratifies the EU Constitution came as no surprise although I would have wished for the people to be consulted by calling a referendum. But for the opposition party to join forces with the Nationalists in the eulogy to the EU Constitution for no reward and for no apparent reason whatsoever, that was a big slap in my face and in the face of many other labourites. Not only that, but the way the issue is being handled or rather mishandled.

The stacking which has taken place in all the layers of the party is very antidemocratic. The chorus of branches from within the party all in praise of the EU Constitution does not hold well. First we had the approval of the parliamentary group, but with reservations! (sic), then we had the applause of the youths section and now we had the acclamation of the veterans section. What makes this undemocratic is that by and large many of the delegates are members in these groups, and therefore it stands to reason that their vote in the general conference has already been captured by the yes group of the Labour Party.

A truly democratic process would have entailed the total freedom given to the delegates to have a secret vote on the issue of the ratification of the Constitution without any declarations by any of the groups within the party. Such declarations have already influenced the vote of the majority of the delegates. The party knows that Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici has the support of 30 per cent of the delegates and should the yes vote exceed 70 per cent, if I was in Mifsud Bonnici�s shoes I would ask for a recount since it is inconceivable that the majority of delegates would vote for a flagrant breach of the Maltese Constitution or for Labour to vote with the Nationalists.

Article 2. All power in the USSR belongs to the people. The people exercise state power through Soviets of People's Deputies, which constitute the political foundation of the USSR. All other state bodies are under the control of, and accountable to, the Soviets of People's Deputies.

4. European Reactions (Reuters � in TOM, June 15)

"I think it would be sensible if we agreed, in view of the no votes in France and Holland... that we should have this pause for reflection over several months so that we can give Europe the debate it needs and then the direction it needs," Mr Blair told reporters. It is unclear how many of the 13 countries that have not yet ratified or rejected the charter will go on with the process with polls showing dwindling public support. The treaty set a non-binding deadline of October 2006.

France and Germany have insisted so far that ratification should go on, but new French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Paris was ill-placed to teach others lessons and each country should decide for itself. EU president Luxembourg disclosed for the first time yesterday it was considering some sort of breathing space rather than face more referendum defeats.

"If we rush ahead now, it may be that the decisions taken, however democratically, may make the situation more complicated," Luxembourg's junior foreign minister, Nicolas Schmit, told a European Parliament committee." We don't want to send a signal that the ratification process is halted, but maybe suspended, maybe slowed down."

The most effective way to restrict democracy is to transfer decision-making from the public arena to unaccountable institutions: kings and princes, priestly castes, military juntas, party dictatorships, or modern corporations. � Noam Chomsky

5. People Power (Joe Vella Bonnici, TOM, June 14)

Some commentators have remarked that the "no" voters were a pot pourri of disillusioned people who were blinded by their emotions, prejudices and short sightedness. Is it not the very essence of liberalism that individuals should seek to maximise their own "utility" or, in simpler language, their self interest? This, in the belief that only then will society be able to maximise its own prosperity and ensure the highest degree of participation of its citizens in the democratic process.

It is political arrogance and elitism that assumes that all those that do not share the same views are ill-informed or plain wrong and must be re-educated to change their minds. These political manipulators often exploit the reach of the mass media for their own purposes. It is becoming customary for EU political leaders to cry wolf and make alarmist statements whenever citizens in EU countries are to vote on some important issue. The former President of the EU Commission, Romano Prodi, claimed that a "no" vote would lead to the end of Europe.


It is expected that the Maltese Parliament will still go ahead with the ratification process. For the sake of democracy, this should not be just a rubber stamping exercise. The general public looks forward to a healthy debate that will address the situation now emerging in the EU, assess the consequences for our country and what, if the proposed EU Constitution is ever adopted, will it mean for our people. It seems to me that the underlying conditions for a healthy debate on this issue are missing. The government side, oversensitive to local electoral issues, has still to express some resentment, or even reservation, for anything which is EU labelled. The opposition on this matter is overburdened by it recent past.

In other circumstances, even Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici's contribution to the debate would have been welcome. As things stand, he is just like many of us, a fiddler on the roof.

Everybody's for democracy in principle. It's only in practice that the thing gives rise to stiff objections. - M. Greenfield

6. Europe at the Crossroads (Josef Bonnici, TOM, June 12)

No one knows yet what will happen next but it is clear that, without the ratification of the EU Constitution there is no longer in place a common strategy concerning the way in which Europe should move forward. And the fear expressed by some is that not to move forward, is to risk slipping backward.

The outcome of the French and Dutch referenda is clear-cut but the reasons behind the negative vote are much less so. Various local and broader issues appear to have influenced voters.

In many cases, these issues did not really have much to do with the Constitution. For example, it has been widely reported that many of the 'no' votes in the Netherlands were linked to widespread unease at the way in which the number of immigrants, in the principal Dutch cities, has increased and at the manifest problems in the integration of these immigrants into Dutch society.


However, there were also many subscribers to the views of a certain segment of the left who are in favour of greater European integration and of an EU Constitution, but they want one which, to use their own terminology, is "less liberal".

Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country. � Hermann Goering

7. Times Online Poll (Roseanne Zammit, TOM, June 9)

Over half of the respondents to an online poll by The Times think Mata should not proceed with the ratification of the EU Constitution or call a referendum.

Asked whether the ratification of the EU Constitution in Malta should continue as planned despite the no French and Dutch votes, 42.65 per cent said it should, 20.89 per cent felt it should not and 36.26 per cent called for a referendum.


A respondent who believes the process should be stopped said the Maltese government was about to ratify a document that will override the country's Constitution in many key aspects. "Potentially, the Constitution represents a much bigger loss of national sovereignty than EU accession. Yet, there have been no attempts here to explain the Constitution to the people and Parliament will ratify it as a matter of course.

"The Maltese voted to join the EU in its present format, not as the superstate envisaged in the Constitution. Thanks to the French and the Dutch, the Constitution is now dead."

Another asked why there was such a hurry to ratify the Constitution. "We should take stock of the real reasons behind the no vote in France and the Netherlands and act accordingly."

One entry said it was now very clear that EU citizens were far from happy with the route EU leaders mapped out for its future. "Europe has lost its competitiveness in a maze of over-regulation. Individual initiative and entrepreneurship have been stifled.

"There are more people making and enforcing draconian rules and collecting taxes than there are people actually producing that which creates wealth, namely goods and services. Soon it will become more profitable to do nothing.

"Ironically, the majority of immigrants in France and the Netherlands voted against. Their reasoning was that a common EU Constitution would result in a strong fortress Europe and shut out immigrants from Third World countries.

"The EU is indeed gravely ill. Euthanasia is one solution."

Among those who called for a referendum one argued: "I think the Prime Minister is a coward not to call a referendum. He called a referendum for entry in the EU, why not now? Because he knows he will lose?

"I think that in Malta we should accept this idea of a referendum and not just let 65 odd people decide for us. Mickey Mouse country."

Another said: "A referendum should have been called for as happened in other countries... Just because the government is elected by a simple majority does not mean that during its term of office it can act in a godlike fashion and the majority will agree to whatever it chooses to do.

"A new Constitution is a very important issue that should be agreed upon by the people."

We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people. - JFK

mardi, juin 14, 2005

Smooth Criminal

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They will blog about it. They will sing again. The Weird King of Pop is "free". I could not help mulling about juries and jury systems last night when I first read the news. Then I remembered that not so long ago I welcomed the result of another jury with open arms. It is not that I believe MJ to be guilty or not guilty, it is just that I could not help wondering how the NOT GUILTY on all counts came to be. Have I fallen foul of the media trap which crucified MJ long before the crucifix was erected?

Not for me to decide. I was not there (thankfully) and I did not follow the evidence or the proceedings. However something tells me this is not the last time that Jacko has his brush with the law. This time he fought the law and he won. Thus ends another chapter in HIStory.

The main losers following this battle seem to be the airwaves. Suddenly it is trendy to play Jackos numerous hits. It baffles me because it seems like the music was on trial too. After "the day the music died" and "the day the music joined the army" it would seem that we would have a "day the music went behind bars ". Ah.. imagine Jacko's version of Jailhouse Rock!

That is why this morning I showered to the sound of "Thriller", dressed to the sound of "I'm Bad", looked for my keys to the tune of "The way you make me feel" and drove to work hearing "You are not alone".

Funny.... no one was playing Smooth Criminal.

samedi, juin 11, 2005

Parricidal Jury

I've got Vlad to thank for this tip. We tend to pick on Di-ve very often for their atrocious failure to command the basics of the English lingo. This time the venerable Times of Malta has joined the fray of journalistic howlers and from no lesser source than the Editorial. Here is the text... (no formatting I am working in Safari!) before I rush out for some camping disasters somewhere in Contrexville (nord de la France)... see you all on Sunday night and avoid parricidal juries.

A good system of justice
In a disturbing example of patricide, a jury panel last week returned a 7-2 not guilty verdict and cleared the son of murdering his father. It does not say anything for the victim that his entire family greeted the verdict with relief and applause. Public opinion, shocked by the evidence given in court by the family, fully endorsed the jury's decision. Still, it needs to be remarked, in case anybody concludes that he can get away with murder, that it is intrinsically wrong to take life.

vendredi, juin 10, 2005

The New Salem Witchhunt

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Following the revolt of the elite liberals, the bohemian bourgeouis and the wankellectual plebs we expect the witchhunt in the next few days headed by Gift of Life Inquisitors and Tonio Borgemada.

Burn! Wankellectual Burn!

Meanwhile... there are worse things than IVF in this world Mrs Camilleri...

It's life Sonia but not as we know it!

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jeudi, juin 09, 2005

Net Libel & Maltafly

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Norman Lowell fined for contempt of court [09/06/2005]
Norman Lowell was fined Lm30 for contempt of court. Mr Lowell did not turn up for a hearing relating to an article published in Maltafly and the beginning of a new case related to racial comments passed during a public meeting. [Times of Malta, Breaking News]

Stormin' Norman has been arraigned in court for racial comments as well as for an article published in Maltafly. He has been fined a miserly Lm30 for not turning up in court. I am convinced he is dying to be put behind bars and thus raise his cause for martyrdom. All those sorry men and women who look up to this man would then be definitely hypnotised by his calls for action - it is the last cherry he needs in order to be able to write his own Mein Kampf from behind the imaginary iron curtain.

I wonder whether he is allowed to choose his jail companions if he ever ends up there. Or whether he will be served up with a couple of violent specimen of the kind he occasionally attacks in his frequent exercises in oratorial comedy.

Norm, you've made us laugh, you've shaken whatever you have to shake. Now go home and paint... you are not a politician.

mercredi, juin 08, 2005

(M)ore (L)ovely (P)eople

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BRIAN:Are you the Judean People's Front?
REG: Fuck off!
BRIAN: What?
REG: Judean People's Front. We're the People's Front of Judea! Judean People's Front. Cawk.
BRIAN: Can I...join your group?
REG: No. Piss off.
BRIAN: I didn't want to sell this stuff. It's only a job. I hate the Romans as much as anybody.
PEOPLE'S FRONT OF JUDEA: hhhh. Shhhh. Shhh. Shh. Shhhh.
JUDITH: Are you sure?
BRIAN: Oh, dead sure. I hate the Romans already.
REG: Listen. If you really wanted to join the P.F.J., you'dhave to really hate the Romans.
BRIAN: I do!
REG: Oh, yeah? How much?
BRIAN: A lot!
REG: Right. You're in. Listen. The only people we hate more than the Romans are the fucking Judean People's Front.
P.F.J.: Yeah...
JUDITH: Splitters.
P.F.J.: Splitters...
FRANCIS: And the Judean Popular People's Front.
P.F.J.: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
LORETTA: And the People's Front of Judea.
P.F.J.: Yeah. Splitters. Splitters...
REG: What?
LORETTA: The People's Front of Judea. Splitters.
REG: We're the People's Front of Judea!
LORETTA: Oh. I thought we were the Popular Front.
REG: People's Front! C-huh.
FRANCIS: Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?
REG: He's over there.
P.F.J.: Splitter!

Proliferation of the Labourite Masses: The Battle of the Acronyms

Alfred Sant has dismissed the new project by Anna Mallia and Alex Sciberras Trigona as a gimmick (more to follow). This is just a few days after Sant's declaration to James Debono that Nothing's Gonna Stop Labour now. What now? It has always been my hope that Maltese Political Parties multiply to the point of insignificance - mainly because I think that Malta should be run more as a city-state than as a state itself. This blog is not aimed at being that serious though. I am more intrigued by the choice of name of the Moviment Laburista Popolari. Why oh why did it have to have the same initials as MLP?

Or at least try to.

Because it doesn't.

Because in Maltese it is Partit Laburista (PL) and Moviment Laburista Popolari (MLP), while in English it is Malta Labour Party (MLP) and Popular Labour Movement (PLM). Which leads me to ask why are PN always PN? I do recall the Times referring to them as NP for some time. (Cool that one ...NP - Notary Public, PL - Prokuratur Legali, what's next LLD - Labour Leftist Democrats?). Back to the point however. Why try to confuse the already confused? The electoral masses are not the brightest of folk as it stands... do we really need a future ballot with MLP and MLP Mk2?

Then there is this bit about the Popular Movement. Don't movements usually turn up in big numbers? One woman in a white dress (what's so bad about wearing a white dress I ask orizzont?) is not exactly big. As for Popular... how popular can you get when you keep the Movement's main members and reasons to exist a secret? The Labourite part I do not understand either. So long as it is anti-EU it cannot be Labourite. That's that. It's a contradiction in terms like "fair representation in Maltese Parliament".

So now Labour has a split. Or at least a splinter. Why is it that labourites always have more guts when it comes to bringing differences of opinion to light? When will we see the split I asked for ages ago in a previous blog... when will the Catholic Heralds & Righteous Illuminati Sect and Tennis Society be formed to put forward Christian Fundamental issues and splinter from the PN? Why hasn't Johnny Cash formed his Movement Of Nationalist Exemplary Youth to put the right-of-centre and liberalists on the political map? How long till we have God's Adopted Youth on our ballot?

I wonder. We are not exactly witnessing a Boffa-Mintoff style debacle but I still think it is a good start. Or it would have been. Had we not seen the bloody acronym game begin.

REG: Right. That's the motion to get on with it, passed with, uh, one abstention. I now propose that we go without further ado. May I have a seconder for...
FRANCIS: Let's just go.
REG:Yeah, all right.

mardi, juin 07, 2005

Serial Accusation

They've done it again.
No further comment. Just click on the title of this blog.
Di-ve. please please please get a proof reader.

lundi, juin 06, 2005

Blog Ergo Sum� On the meaning of Blog

So here it is. Everyone is blogging about the article now. A bout of existentialism has attacked the Maltese blogosphere. Shall we split into factions? Will we become the partisans on the web and mimic Maltese society IRL? Why do we blog? Do blogs need newspaper articles to promote us ? What is there to promote? Are we really just sons and daughters of the latest trend ? Do we really not care about who reads our blog ? Or do we really crave for the 15 minutes of blog fame ?

Blogging Elan
I agree. I disagree. I am not sure. What I do know is that blogging has become an enjoyable experience. Tinkering with your blog page for those additional gadgets assumes equal importance to the need to feed the blog or the insanabile cacoethes scribendi that hits you like a fever every time you see something bloggable. Yes, you do hope that more and more people are accessing your particular corner of the world where you shout out your latest opinion on anything under the sun. (Incidentally Arcibald, the answer is yes, the newspaper article did have an upward effect on daily logs (noticeable over the past two days with a 160% increase in loggers).

Elitisms � The Three Estates and More
Will our blogosfera have its own bourgeoisie? Mark has divided his links into the Elite Liberals (monopolising the un-monopoliseable � since when can you have a category called liberals?) and the BR while others like Fausto and Kenneth muse about the possibility of categorisation. Can I be a bohemian liberal? What to do with the pages created for a week of fun? How do we separate the trendists from the serious honest-to-God bloggers? I instinctively refuse categorisation, especially if there is no commonly agreed purpose. We will probably soon have team blogs as more and more people like Arcibald start to worry about the need to maintain a blog daily. Where are all the females by the way? I see maltagirl and Sharon� but does the buck stop there?

Portal � Enquire Within Upon Blogging
The British blogosphere has its own portal � We might soon be having one. A mixture of Wired Temples, About Malta and an online forum. It's just something that is waiting to be done. We'll see.

Dead Bloggers Society
Winifred Clara Boggs (Miss) has not blogged for ages. Leggendi Urbani was a one week wonder. Justin blogged once and then vanished into some whisky vat far away in Scotland. When is a blog really dead? Or rather when is a blog really a blog? At what level of consistency does it deserve the tag of a true blog? Statistically the average duration of a blog is 126 days (almost four months) Should we have a badge for blogs � 126daysandstillgoing?

This blog is more about posing questions than finding answers. I don't even think we need to find an answer anyway� just enjoy the experience. It is young, it is free and it is available� ah� if only I had met more females of the same description :).

Gaudeamus Igitur

vendredi, juin 03, 2005

Raphael Axiak

La legge � uguale per tutti. This maxim is to be found in all courts of law in Italy. It is a clear reminder that the backbone of society depends on the equality of all before the law - justice is always portrayed as blind in order not to distinguish between the persons appearing before her. Justitia omnibus - justice for all.

I have followed with trepidation the trial by jury of Raphael Axiak, the gentle giant from Gozo who I barely knew. My brief encounters with Raphael were almost always at La Grotta where he worked along with my brother for some time. Although gifted with a giant and portly frame, Raphael never abused of it and the little we spoke immediately betrayed his gentle nature.

It was with shock that we first heard of the horrible events which Raphael and his family went through and which culminated with the death of his father. It was with trepidation that we followed the trial by jury while hoping that the justice being dispensed considered the particular situations which destiny had fashioned in such an unfortunate manner for Raphael and his close relatives. It is with jubilation and relief that I read about the verdict this morning. A 7-2 not guilty.

Raphael can now try to begin a new life and find the closure necessary from such unfortunate events. My little island of Gozo must continue to question how certain events that transpired from the witness stand could take place in such a close knit society. Can people like Raphael, his siblings, his mother, his aunt continue to suffer for so long in silence? Is there really no one to turn to in moments like these? I'd like to believe that Gozo is not an island of omert�... sadly I am not so sure.

Numquam se minus solum quam cum solus esset - Cicero
(You are never so little alone as when you are alone.)

jeudi, juin 02, 2005

Well... I'll be beggared!

Following her woeful attack on boyfriends who do not dump glasses on girls any more Lorna Doom is back with another politically incorrect article. This time Lorna V is incensed at the new beggars in City Gate who apparently are making up for the dearth of donation-inspiring activites in poor Malta. Lorna's efforts to expose our island's new levels of poverty are commendable. First men stop buying drinks for girls, now we will not have the Maratona tal-Kerygma. My problem with all this is that Lorna is not really angry that Maltese Charity seems to be drying up but rather that the government with the PM as Finance Minister is not coughing up enough money itself. Brilliant. Next week we will hear about all the kids on the beach who have been deprived of an ice-cream because of this country's limping/faltering/sagging/sad/sick economy.

Here are some pearls of wisdom from Lorna V (my highlights in red and my comments in brackets):
Philanthropic organisations are trying to sustain the destitute themselves (duh! philanthropist) by some weird kind of "institutionalised begging network". On a daily basis philanthropists are surely to appear out of nowhere (boo! I want your money) at Valletta city's Main Gate as soon as a newcomer steps under the arches. Well, it is usually a multiple of them (a philanthropist squared), working in groups to tackle the heavy inflow of pedestrians and not letting anyone pass by unmolested. They jut out a hand as cold as charity (the freezing arm of benevolence) at you - in itself proof of a day-long toil (I still don't get it... whose side is she on?) - asking for money. There seems to be a kind of understanding that, although begging to raise money for yourself is still considered as degrading, begging on behalf of others is not! Therefore, we all beg in an I-beg-for-you-you-beg-for-me (should I beg her to stop?) manner. So institutionalised has begging become that some registered "beggars-for-others", with cards on their chest, are actually dictating the amount of alms to be given to them!

It seems as if a beggar mania as contagious as Sars (this beats the famous SNAP lyric "I'm as serious as cancer") has taken over all over the place. Beggars of all shapes and sizes (what? you mean fat beggars?). As a direct reaction to all this, another phenomenon is gaining ground. A horde of impostors posing as money collectors for charitable institutions are starting to knock on doors and telling tales (the impostor bard) that would otherwise deserve mercy and which eventually result in the handing over of money (sounds more and more like Dick Turpin). Warnings have been issued by TV programme Tista' Tkun Int, Radio programme M'intix Wahdek and Fr Hilary Tagliaferro of the Millennium chapel who all issued declarations to disassociate themselves from people who were collecting aid fraudulently using these initiatives' name. It seems some needy are opting to beg as a profession!

Well... beggars at City Gates as a problem to society... where did I hear this before? Ah I know...

This is what Lorna must have seen... (with apologies to Monty Python)

--[A number of beggars sit by the side of the road begging. All seemsick apart from the one at the end. (The X-leper). They are pleadingfor money from a man riding a donkey.]]
BEGGAR 1 Spare a sheckle...
BEGGAR 2 God bless you, sir.
LEPER1 Alms for a leper.
LEPER2 Alms for a leper.
EX-LEPER Alms for an ex-leper. Bloody donkey owners. All the same aren'tthey. Never have any change. Oh, here's a touch.--[Brian and his mum walk along the street.] Spare a talent for an oldex-leper.
MRS. COHEN Buzz off.
EX-LEPER [Still following] Spare a talent for an old ex-leper.
MRS. COHEN A talent? That's more than he earns in a month.
EX-LEPER Half a talent then.
MRS. COHEN Now go away.
EX-LEPER Come on, bignose. Let's haggle.
EX-LEPER All right. Cut the haggling . Say you open at one sheckle, I start attwo thousand, we close about eighteen hundred.
EX-LEPER Seventeen-fifty?
MRS. COHEN Go away.
EX-LEPER Seventeen-fourty.
MRS. COHEN Look. Will you leave him alone.
EX-LEPER All right... two shekels. Just two. Isn't this fun, eh?
MRS. COHEN Look. He's not giving you any money, so piss off.
EX-LEPER All right, sir. My final offer: Half a sheckle for an old ex-leper.
BRIAN Did you say EX-leper?
EX-LEPER That's right, sir. 16 years behind the bell, and proud of it, sir.
BRIAN Well what happened?
EX-LEPER Oh, cured sir.
BRIAN Cured?
EX-LEPER Yes, a bloody miracle sir, God bless you.
BRIAN Well who cured you?
EX-LEPER Jesus did, sir. I was hopping along, minding my own business. All of asudden, up he comes, cures me. One minute I'm a leper with a trade,next minute my livelihood gone, not so much as a buy yourleave... You're cured, mate. Bloody do-gooder.
BRIAN Well, why don't you go and tell him that you want to be a leper again.
EX-LEPER Ah, I could do that, sir. Yeah, yeah. I could do that I suppose. WhatI was thinking was I was going to ask him if he could make me a bitlame in one leg during the middle of the week. Y'know, something beggable, but not leprosy, which is a pain in the arse to be blunt,excuse my french sir, but...
MRS. COHEN Brian. Come and clean your room out.
BRIAN There you are.
EX-LEPER Thank you, sir, thank... Half a dinari for me bloody life story?
BRIAN There's no pleasing some people.
EX-LEPER That's just what Jesus said, sir.
--[The ex-leper hops off, back to the road]

What has the government ever done for us? Will somebody throw Lorna a dinar? Damn... more than three paragraphs, but sure was worth it!

mercredi, juin 01, 2005

iDiot - technocratic reflections on technological limitations

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So. The ideal blog has three short paragraphs. There is such a thing as an 'A-list' blog which seems to be a very, very popular blog that somehow stops being personal and becomes very, very public. Apparently nowadays the most important thing in your resum� is your blog. Soon you might not be anybody without a blog. The aboutmalta list of maltese blogs now runs into two pages even though the Next 50 tag is deceiving since there are no more than 20 on the second page. The raison d'�tre of blogs, bloggers and blogging is still under scrutiny but then so is our very own existence so nothing new there.

People have begun to be sacked for blogging about their work in a negative way. There is a technical word for that but it slips my mind. I have not managed to retain that piece of trivia yet. I still believe that blogging needs coverage by traditional media to 'take off' Sharon. It may exist on the ether but it is promotion (or should I say syndication) that will give it a face for the masses. The revolution of thought requires an audience. Incidentally it is not I alone who says this (I love the grammar in this one) but also the Economist, the Guardian, Blog Reviews world and net over.

Meanwhile (and this is my third paragraph so I have to wind up (or down)), I have been trying to understand the gadgetries and gimmicks that exist out there for us to peruse and use. Got stuck on a site called technorati and gazed in awe for over twenty minutes without really knowing what the hell was going on. Who is syndication and why do I need him? Is RSS really that simple? Does blogger RSS for me? Is that a form of syndication? Is that also associazione a delinquere? The blog, like the haiku, must be short and concise to be effective. Like me.