mercredi, août 31, 2005

Profile: Xitan


Felis Silvestris Catus


10 weeks

It has been almost one week since Xitan joined the group at 22, Rue De Bragance. She is here temporarily (like most of us) and brings colour and purring to the dull routine.

Her main occupation is currently to run after anything mobile. This is second only to climbing up or into anything climable. She is a brilliant purrer and can also make the sound of a squirrel (she already speaks a second language). She is a dedicated electrician and actively points out loose connections.

Devilish when active, angelic when tired she is definitely true to her name. Updates to follow.

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Xitan and the Great Balls of Fire

Non Sequitur #20

Lux Can Do It
Proof that small countries can still produce the stuff. Luxembourger Gilles Muller (pictured left) knocked out Andy Roddick (winner of the 2003 title) in the first round of the US Open at Flushing Meadows. Muller is the former world Junior Champion. Big things are promised for tennis in the Little Duchy!

Solidarjeta'. Dejjem... Kullimkien.

Poland will be commemorating the birth of the Solidarity movement 25 years ago. It was the only independent mass political movement to emerge inside the Soviet bloc. Read an interview with Lech Walesa here. The Solidarnosc movement led the way to the breaking down of the barriers and to the fall of communist Russia. The principle of solidarity found its way into the political mainstream and is also reflected in the papal encyclical "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis" by Polish Pope John Paul II in 1987.

It also found its way to Malta in the middle of the troublesome eighties. Adopted by a Nationalist party in what was then percieved as a struggle out of a socialist way of life, it represents for people like myself a time when one was still proud to take up the cause with the Nationalist party. Solidarity is at the roots of Christian Democracy... one of the building blocks of a better society which still understands the meaning of compassion. Real christian democracy which goes beyond the rhetoric and translates into action.

I still recall the stickers with the logo like the one above being distributed at PN mass meetings. It felt good to be part of a greater cause, a greater idea that would not only change the country but change the world. While we were attending school classes in clandestine garages and while our dads listened to the radio in the morning with trepidation wondering whether thugs or bombs had been set loose again we could not help but feel part of the electricity of the moment. Sometimes I wonder whether today's politicans lived through that era too. Sometimes I wonder whether they remember what we set out to build in those early days for modern Maltese politics. Sometimes I wonder if Solidarnosc reached Malta after all.

mardi, août 30, 2005

Jazz on Travel (Cheap'n'Cheerful Flights)

Caveat Bocca! While I was on holiday our favourite Saturday columnist decided to sneak in a tiny assault on supporters of cheap and cheerful flights (sic). Since I consider myself one of the standard bearers of this particular category I could not let this little piece entitled "Blues on Travel" go by without comment. So here's a bit of the Jazz on Travel for you....

Beck tells us that there is a difference between AirMalta's prices, MIA's charges and government taxes. Definitely. So? Us CNC's see overpricing in all departments.

MIA's charges for one. Low Airport charges are the reason for competitivity of the Low fare airlines. That is why you fly to Charleroi and not Zaventem with Ryanair. That is why Stanstead and not Heathrow. Low Fare airlines are given advantageous rates to be able to keep their prices erm.... low. Not that MIA does not know it. However for some reason unbeknownst to taxpayer (I know I know we pay to government and not to MIA) MIA decides the routes which will benefit from discounted airport charges. And thus we have the list Barcelona, Girona, and now Basle and Geneva. The criterion? Those places from where MIA thinks we can attract more tourism*. The real criterion? Those places where Airmalta would not get elbowed out from the market. Who is behind it? The government to whom we pay taxes and Airmalta who we sustain with our taxes.

Airmalta does not give two hoots about the consumer. It's rationale is survival as a flag carrier. It is not even aimed for profit. It is survival. Why? Because it is a hot political potato and cannot be privatised and cannot go wrong because otherwise the opposition in our sad dualist system will capitalise on any of these faults. Airmalta cannot benefit consumers because it is run to please government and not the people. Surprise surprise... government priorities and public needs are not always the same thing.

Oh for heaven's sake. Do we have to go into this? But anyway. Government is that sorry entity which decided that as soon as you make a choice to go on holiday you start with -Lm40 holiday money. You pay that to government to leave the country.

So Beck. Different Yes. But does that really solve the problem?

*Incidentally since when is an airport authority supposed to deal with the interest of incoming tourism for a nation? Isn't that the job of the MTA? I would have thought that the job of an airport authority would have been the maintenance of an efficient airport.

Andreas Grassi a.k.a Piano Man

It turns out that the mysterious piano man is Andreas Grassi, a young man disillusioned with society's refusal to allow him to enjoy his 15 minutes of fame. Read his story here.

The man who it was claimed could play Swan Lake divinely can barely play a few Beatle's songs. The tabloids had blown the myth of the talented piano man to incredible proportions. Now they want the money they invested in psychological treatment of an unknown (110,000 pounds) back because he turns out to be ordinary: a gay, intelligent man who could no longer stand the rural life in a German town on the border with the Czech Republic.

The beauty of the story is how the tabloids' craving for a story to satiate the voyeurist appetite that exists today has backfired in their faces. The personal tragedy and sadness of an ordinary man is no longer enough for the storycrunchers. He had to be able to play the piano like Beethoven to be worth curing and investing money in. He had to be a superman to be worth talking about. He had to be a ubermensch to be worth saving.

Well... at least he is not black and did not come on a boat with a hundred others across the Mediterranean sea.

"In the future everybody will be famous for fifteen minutes" - Andy Warhol

Lessons in Jihadism

Whenever discussing a topic, whenever an argument (in the dialectic sense of the word) is taking place, it is paramount that the terms and tools of the discussion are understood by all. Modern discussions on the phenomenon of terrorism include key-words such as 'Islam', 'Jihad' and phrases like 'clash of civilisations'. At times different people might mean different things when using the same terms. One of the biggest problems is distinguishing the terrorist from the peace-loving Muslim. By their own declaration, terrorists are inspired by Muslim ideas and for us Westerners it is easy and tempting to reach the (illogical) conclusion: [Muslim=Terrorist Q.E.D].

I found this article on the International Herald Tribune which attempts to clarify the clouds and arrives at a reasonable suggestion on tackling the issue. I suggest it as a good read for keeping up to date.


Not too unrelated to this subject is the ongoing crossposting and commenting with Fausto following Daphne's article on the Lampedusan treatment of boat people. At the end of the day, I still do not understand what point Fausto is defending when he says that comparing the boat people's tragedy to Guernica is lame because boat people chose to get on the boat.

Here is my take or perspective with the hope that Fausto can clarify. The boat people's choice to get on the boat was a choice for a better life. In the sense that they choose to undertake the perilous journey out of desperation at the standard of life in the country that fate chose for them. If it can be described as a choice I would call it a Hobson's choice. For me Fausto's assessment of the boat people's choice is like saying Guernican inhabitants had nothing to complain about and Picasso was making a fuss. After all the citizens chose to live there did they not?

lundi, août 29, 2005

Collina di Viareggio

The Gazzetta carries the sad news that Pierluigi Collina (di Viareggio) has decided to call it a day with refereeing. The world famous bald head will no longer be gracing the green fields and the extension granted to him for international refereeing by FIFA will count for nought.

What is sad is the reason for his resignation. He had just concluded a sponsorship agreement with Opel. Unfortunately a minor club in serie A is also sponsored by the same company. The referees association headed by Tullio Lanese were insisting that Collina had a conflict of interest - Collina should either terminate his sponsorship or end up refereeing in Serie B. He chose to call it a day.

Collina stated that he would not have minded refereeing in Serie B but it was about much more than that. It was about believing in referees. In other words it was about believing that a referee could share the same sponsor as a football team and not feel an inclination to give that team a helping hand. He is right. But in the poisonous world of Italian football he could never win. I for one believe him... sponsor or no sponsor... how could you ever sympathise for a team that throws away a three goal margin in a Champions League Final and draws one all with Ascoli?

Full Up

From La Repubblica (29.08.05):

LAMPEDUSA - Duecento clandestini sono riusciti a sbarcare direttamente a terra, sulla spiaggia di Cala Pisana, a Lampedusa. Sul posto � intervenuta la Guardia di Finanza, che ha bloccato gli immigrati.

Ieri altri 100 extracomunitari erano giunti nell'isola con un barcone di 12 metri ed erano stati trasferiti nel centro di prima accoglienza, dove in questo momento si trovano oltre 500 persone, in una struttura che pu� contenerne al massimo 190.

Sempre ieri, sul litorale agrigentino, erano sbarcati altri 153 clandestini, mentre 39 erano stati intercettati al largo delle coste ragusane.

Non Sequitur #19


Only one humane, political work of art in the last fifty years has achieved real fame -- Picasso's Guernica, 1937. It is the last of the line of formal images of battle and suffering that runs from Uccello's Rout of San Romano through Tintoretto to Rubens, and thence to Goya's Third of May and Delacroix's Massacre at Chios. It was inspired by an act of war, the bombing of a Basque town during the Spanish Civil War. The destruction of Guernica was carried out by German aircraft, manned by German pilots, at the request of the Spanish Nationalist commander, General Emilio Mola. Because the Republican government of Spain had granted autonomy to the Basques, Guernica was the capital city of an independent republic. Its razing was taken up by the world press, beginning with The Times in London, as the arch-symbol of Fascist barbarity. Thus Picasso's painting shared the exemplary fame of the event, becoming as well known a memorial of catastrophe as Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade had been eighty years before. (source)

Where is the boat people's Guernica?

dimanche, août 28, 2005

Hobza u Sardina

Daphne's article in today's Independent really does bring some truths home about navel gazing Malta. It is not the first time that I point out that Malta still suffers from the centre-of-the world mentality that was inbuilt into our parents by the Mintoffian generation. In the efforts to build some semblance of a Din l-Art Helwa we might have gone a step too far. Nation building in Malta had the consequence of a dramatic hyperbole suitable for a peplum starring Toto' versus Maciste (as can be seen in that great peplum called Gensna) but not for the tiny island state that we are.

Daphne rightly points out the sad and sorry difference between the way Malta and Lampedusa respectively cope with the boat people. Suddenly the Mother that gave us her name is powerless to handle the waves of immigrants while the 5,500 persons on the rock of Lampedusa (farther from Italy than Malta) continue to tackle the issue with compassion and understanding that is either absent from our shores or lies silent while being out-shouted by the vociferous rabble. We have fallen victim of another heritage of Father Dom's era... the nanny state. We forget our Catholic upbringing and instead of pulling up our sleeves and coming up with solutions we find it easier to identify the latest drama, the latest problem and complain that the state is doing nothing about it. The momentum reaches its climax when the State itself starts to whinge and requests aid because this great Maritime Republic never foresaw the dangers that the sea surrounding it could carry.

Until now our poem writers and crafters of epics have been able to rewrite history in a way that the Maltese oppressed always comes out victorious. It is in our peplum that the termination of a contract for an army base becomes a day of Freedom and release as though the valiant Maltese patrol boats pushed away the last remnants of the NATO and British armies. That sad joke of Jum il-Helsien will remain one of the last bastions of Mintoff's nation building efforts that fit more with the carnival floats than with monumental efforts of great leaders.

Meanwhile (after a short parenthesis of terror until 1987) the army of our liberated isle could now concentrate its efforts on the courageous deeds of dealing with the coloured invader who attacked our shores in the hundreds armed with boats, salt water, hypoglycaemia, diarrhoea and a determination to survive. Can't you see it? In the not-too distant future... a memorial to the soldiers who kept Malta free on August 2005. Jum ir-Respinta ... when we sent them all back from where they came from. Mass, wreath laying ceremony at the foot of the Monument tar-Respinta complete with Brigadier throwing into the sea in the late afternoon.

Sic Transit Gloria Melitae. (Ave)

�The smell is awful. Sour and overpowering, it rises from two wooden boats and two rubber dinghies tied up in a far corner of the picturesque harbour on the Italian island of Lampedusa. In these small craft some 300 people arriving from North Africa in search of new lives in Europe have endured dangerous journeys at sea, crammed together without adequate water, food, shelter or toilets�.The terrible stench gives some idea of the ordeal they must have endured. �When they arrive they are suffering from nausea, vomiting, sunburn, dehydration, hypoglycaemia, diarrhoea,� says Dr Claudia Codesani from the charity Medicins Sans Frontieres. �They have been at sea for 17 hours or for as long as five or six days, and they are desperate to eat and drink. Everyone is shocked and frightened." (source)

samedi, août 27, 2005

The Economist

Good God... Thursday came and went and it slipped my mind. Well here is the piece de resistance from Poet Laureate turned Economist. Go Labour Go! Lorna for President, after all if the Czechs had Havel why can't we have our own destitute middle class poet?

As we ache for some panacea to clear our troublesome bowels the luddite shaman still insists on applying placebo quick-fix solutions. Being the destitute middle-class we all are (membership of which is on the rise lately) we cannot just wait for the day when changes are introduced to the free-of-charge medical service. Then, maybe, the new practitioner will manage to change our zeitgeist and so real cure suddenly appears - unless by then we become floor - rather than bed-ridden because the beds are sold at judicial auction to compensate for unpaid VAT refunds!
For the troublesome bowels I can recommend Lomotil or even Imossel. For the inventor of the term "luddite shaman" I can only recommend therapy. It's all here to behold. I'm off to change my zeitgeist.

PS On the way into Cannes (from Lyon) there is an exist called "Bocca"on the Autoroute. This is immediately followed by an exit to the village of "Grasse" home of perfume. Signs of the times perhaps?

Non Sequitur #18

Malta Hanina. Hobza u Sardina.

vendredi, août 26, 2005

Wisq Sabiha

Lil Duminku ma kontx nafu. Jekk kellimtu hames darbiet hafna. Erba' drabi minnhom x'iktarx kont qed nordna xi pizza jew platt hut l-Arzella. Ghalija Duminku ma kienx it-Tramps. Duminku kien Duminku ta' l-Arzella. Kien wiehed mill-persunaggi li jimlew is-sjuf ta' Marsalforn... bhal Censu tal-Baxan, Pawlu tal-Lingi, Joey tal-Kartell u hafna ohrajn.

Lil Duminku niftakru bhal sid ir-restorant li kien jinstab fl-ahhar tal-mixja taghna iz-zaghzagh mill-Kartell sal-Menqa li konna nimxu filwaqt li niddiskutu il-calciomercato, in-nisa u l-ghawm. Niftakru jaqbad il-kitarra f'idu waqt il-Friday Fish Nights meta il-Menqa ta' Marsalforn kienet tkun mimlija kummerc u pjacir - is-shana tas-sajf u l-ilwien tad-dwal madwar l-erba ristoranti li iktar milli jikkonkorru ghal klienti kienu jaqsmuhom bl-indaqs ghax in-nuqqas t spazju ma kienx jippermetti mod iehor. Ghax nghiduha kif inhi, bejn l-Oddissey u il-Mermaid u l-Arzella ma kienx hemm bahar jaqsam. Menu kwazi l-istess... veduta tal-menqa l-istess u servizz identiku.

Hlief meta Duminku kien jaqbad il-kitarra. F'dawn il-waqtiet il-klijenti tal-Arzella forsi kienu jisimghu lill-leggenda izolana tkanta ftit iktar fil-vicin. U forsi meta kien jerhilha ikanta dwar ix-xemx wisq sabiha kienu jaraw dik it-tbissima ferriegha u l-ghajnejn ileqqu bil-gost tal-muzika.

Illum iz-zghazagh m'ghadhomx jimxu l-istess bicca mill-Kartell sal-Menqa bhal ma konna naghmlu ahna. L-Arzella ukoll mexa 'l fuq. Duminku issa halliena...

Il-memorji hemm ghadhom u bhax-Xemx Wisq Sabiha jergghu l'ura sikwit sabiex igeddulna t-tifkiriet ta' l-imghoddi.

Grazzi Dominic, u l-ghomor lil familtu u kull min kien jafu sewwa.

* J'Accuse returns with this Maltese post following the passing away of the Gozitan singer Dominic Grech. Normal English service will be resumed tomorrow.

mercredi, août 17, 2005

Et in Carthago Ego

I am back for a fleeting moment. Just enough time to say ta ta like my friend Fausto. Following a quick visit to the South of France (Antibes) over the Ferragosto weekend I am back at work but only to be able to plant my leave application for one week in Djerba. So off I go armed with books and sun-tan lotion. I do not expect to be blogging much unless some good internet facilities exist in the hotel...otherwise see you in September.

Don't miss me much... I promise to be back with more!

Over and out as J'Accuse joins the August snooze.

vendredi, août 12, 2005

Who are the Greens?

Harry Vassallo continues to talk about recent political developments and explains why Malta will not see a coalition in the near future. I agree with Harry on many points (I guess it is evident by now). Where Harry and I do not see eye to eye is on the Green issue. By this I do not only mean that I am not a Green. In a wider sense I am referring to the manner in which Harry labels all people who are dissatisfied with the MLPN monopoly as automatically being Greens. Look at these paragraphs from Harry's article in the Times today:

Being in politics and not being power hungry is a superb political action in itself. Our refusal to be co-opted to Parliament in the 2003 pre-election negotiations is invaluable in evidence of our good faith and our firm commitment in favour of authentic democracy. No other political party can lay claim to anything like it. Whenever we have taken up the burden of responsibility in local council or in crucial historical moments we have borne it well. When the time comes we will again.

In Malta we can give the country a Parliament. We can create the mental distinctions still largely absent between Parliament and government, government and the state. We can give the Maltese ownership of their country's institutions and give Maltese governments the humility they need to acquire in relation to ordinary citizens. If we achieve only that in five years we will have earned every cent of public money we may have received. The system can begin to work and the anti-system to retreat.

This is our vision of Malta's political development. We know that it is not yet shared by the vast majority of our compatriots and by none of our political adversaries. We know that they are currently proposing an impossible electoral threshold to perpetuate the status quo. They can retard the country's political development, they cannot avoid the future indefinitely.

Our greatest challenge is not a discussion on coalitions but to communicate our vision, to create the political culture that will allow citizens to choose a decent and better future for themselves rather than just choose which of our adversaries will rule over them. The next government will be just like the rest, whichever party wins the election. The time is ripe to begin a much greater change. It will take time, so the sooner we start the sooner we will enjoy its fruits. Not all of us will go for it, certainly some of us, many of us, those of us who can already make out the music.

Great stuff. I could not agree more. The only problem is that Harry seems to think that all people who think that way are automatically Green. Wrong. Harry and I and many other thousands now have a common platform. The platform for change. A Reformist platform with a capital R. We do not like the status quo and we have a vision of a better future. I am prepared wholeheartedly to support that platform... but that will never mean that I am a Green. I am currently 'lending' my vote to the Greens for a greater cause than Green politics themselves. As I have said once and will go on repeating... we aim for the same result and if another party could satisfy this cause of mine I will gladly back it.

So not so fast Harry... we are not as Green as you seem to think!

Non Sequitur #17

Rivals Share Derby Honours

Thursday, August 11, 2005

CHRISTIAN CASSAR took just 100 seconds to break the deadlock as he smashed home a stunning 30-metre free kick but IAN ZAMMIT drew level just before the interval. But these goals hardly tell the story of a remarkable match.

Never mind one point, both teams were upset not to snatch three points after a game of countless chances. But at the end the derby produced some comfortable (sic) for both sides after suffering defeats in their opening premier league matches. Continue here.

... can't wait for the return leg.

jeudi, août 11, 2005

Hablas Espanol?

Malta International Airport has identified Madrid, Barcelona, Girona and Lisbon as appropriate points from which to increase tourism to Malta. The Ryanair saga continues as the cheapest airline slammed the Maltese protective policies a joke. For those of you who are not following the issue closely, what is happening is that the MIA will pinpoint the so-called "underserved routes" then a call will be made for airlines to provide transport to Malta on such routes. These airlines will benefit from lesser airport fees and such benefits should pass on to the consumer - the persons flying to such underserved routes (more likely to be from).

Where does the Maltese traveller figure in all this? Well, he or she still pays that wonderful departure tax. Secondly, in calculating the "underserved route" the only consideration is places from which we do not get enough tourism (according to MIA). Nobody asks.... Where do the Maltese want to fly cheaply to today? Nope. The institutions paid for by YOUR tax money are busy making decisions about cheaper flights for other people (mainly all the Spanish who want to fly to Malta for a bit of sun - stop laughing) while makng your flights more difficult.

Here is what Ryanair had to say about this protective polcy planning...

Of the four earmarked destinations, Ryanair currently flies only to Girona, Mr Cawley (Ryanair chef operating officer) said. "We are working on the possible introduction of the Girona route but the routes offered are anything but ideal for Ryanair." He accused the Maltese air authorities of behaving as though they were still living in the 1960s and said they had failed to take on board the open skies phenomenon that was revolutionising air travel. It was evident, he said, that MIA and the government were doing their utmost to protect existing airlines.
Espanol anyone?

* Doubts have been shed on Ryanair's capability of fulfilling their promise of flying in 1 million passengers to tourism dry Malta. Here is one interesting statistic: Last month Ryanair flew their 10 millionth passenger into Glasgow Prestwick since 1994. Since 1999 they fly 2 million passengers per annum into Glasgow. Mui

Current Gore

Time magazine (and online) reports on Al Gore's return to the public eye with his project Current TV. Launched on the 1st August 2005 here is how CNN described the new station:

Based on material previewed on its Web site, Current at first glance seems like a hipper, more irreverent version of traditional television newsmagazines.

Most of its programming will be in "pods," roughly two to seven minutes long, covering topics like jobs, technology, spirituality and current events. An Internet-like on-screen progress bar will show the pod's length.

Its short films include a profile of a hang glider and a piece on working in a fish market. One contributor talked about what it was like to have his phone number on a hacked Internet list of Paris Hilton's cell phone contacts, saying that dealing with curiosity seekers was like "hosting your own radio call-in show."

Every half-hour, Current promises a news update using data from Google on news stories most frequently searched for on the Web.
My attraction to the story is based in the interest at seeing traditional media react to the internet revolution - and more particularly to the blog phenomenon. Al Gore's Current TV is testing the waters of a more interactive TV where viewers and producers could mix. The punishment for insufficient interactivity is the setting up of a rival... more open channel... as Gore has already seen with Rise Up Network (see Time article).

mercredi, août 10, 2005

A Profoundly Human Blogosphere?

One of the items on my To Blog list was the IHT editorial which commented on the State of the Blogosphere report that has already been mentioned on J'Accuse. Here are two paragraphs from the article in question:

If the blogosphere continues to expand at this rate, every person who has Internet access will be a blogger before long, if not an actual reader of blogs. The conventional media have often discussed the growing impact of blogging on the coverage of news. Perhaps the strongest indicator of the importance of blogdom isn't those discussions themselves, but the extent to which media outlets are creating blogs - or bloglike manifestations - of their own.

(...) It's natural enough to think of the growth of the blogosphere as a merely technical phenomenon. But it's also a profoundly human phenomenon, a way of expanding and, in some sense, reifying the ephemeral daily conversation that humans engage in. Every day the blogosphere captures a little more of the strange immediacy of the life that is passing before us. Think of it as the global thought bubble of a single voluble species.
The media hooks on to the phenomenon. The phenomenon continues to be defined or to escape a single definition. The August Shrink might be a phase but it seems that blogging is not a temporary phenomenon after all.

Blog A Diem!

* Check out Dante Chinni's article on "Journalim's Fear and Loathing of Blogging" on the Christian Science Monitor.

mardi, août 09, 2005

Airwolf: shootez le chopper!

The next time a Frenchman writes one of those letters of condemnation about our island's regime of hunters spare a thought or two for this man.

An 81-year-old Frenchman has been given a one-year suspended jail sentence for firing a hunting rifle at helicopters dropping water on a forest blaze. David Thiel opened fire on 21 July when the low-flying helicopters disturbed his afternoon nap near Grasse in the south of France, court sources said.

Source: BBC News

lundi, août 08, 2005

Non Sequitur #16

Le monde est une livre et ceux qui ne voyagent pas n'en lisent qu'une page.
- St. Augustine of Hippo

On the 1st August 2005 the tax on travelling continued to increase in the Republic of Malta.

London and Egypt both suffered a decrease in tourism in the light of the recent bombings.

The UK Foreign Office website warns of the continuing high threat of terrorism in Saudi Arabia. The FO only warns against travelling in situations of extreme and imminent danger according to recently revised internal rules.

Israel's National Security Council counter terrorism headquarters today issued a travel warning to Israelis travelling to Turkey. The warning comes in the wake of three Israeli cruise liners having been diverted to Cyprus from Turkey on Friday because of a security threat. The ships carried over 2,000 people.

Insurances tend to issue their own lists of risk prone areas. For an example see here and here.

In a world full of risks your passport is just another stamp and photo album.

Wish You Were Here


The last six days have been busy shuffling the parents and the godmother around the jewels of the North East of France (plus Lyon). Lorraine, Bourgogne and now the farthest south... Lyon... le capital de foot Fran�ais. I finally find some time to blog and reduce the ever increasing withdrawal symptoms. The azerty keyboard does not help at all. I am in the middle of Brasserie La Republique... a very kitsch pub en plein milieu de Lyon. All cities in the abovementioned itinerary are incredible... ETAP overnight sleep hotels help you save the money to spend on good eating. The Sfigho side of the family caught up and three_quarters of the company have been afflicted by a stomach bug.

Once again the J'Accuse forma mentis is intensively in blog mode. Too much to say and comment about to fit in this tiny intervention. I bought a blog carnet... much like Hemingway's original which is for sale in many libraires here. I will use it from now on to take note of anything bloggable when access to a mac is temporarily unavailable. Since I cannot stand typing on this infernal frenchy keyboard I will just conclude this tiny blog with an affiche... a list of things to be commented upon following my five hour drive back to the grand duchy. In the meantime thank you Robert and Fausto for your reactions on the blogosphere and the rest of you.... keep blogging alive!

To Blog List:

- International Herald Tribune editoriql on Blogging (last weekends edition)

- Bloggers of the past; Travellers and their notes on travel; book purchased in Dijon (7th edition published in 1864 originally published c.1792) includes four chapters about a frenchman's visit to Malta.

- Moet et Chandon, champagne cellars, chalk and Maltese potential

- transport and parking... where we could learn

- the Maltese Knights... they're everywhere

- Al Gore and the new media

- How Mark Vella can be useful.

All that and more in the forthcoming editions of J'Accuse.

I apologise for thebabsence of hyperlinks but this internet caf� system is not very collaborative. I will add them when back home. Also any typos are due to the AZERTY keyboard.

So long... off to eat a Gallette au Sarrazin!

Wish you were here.

jeudi, août 04, 2005

Guess Who?

"But, inspite of oscillating between dismissal and resignation, the minister shamelessly sticks to his seat of power waiving responsibility by simply stating he hasn't got anything to do with it."

"This the minister himself declared in Parliament in answer to a question by PN whip and MP Mario Galea. "

"Moreover, the millions of liri owed to private citizens whose lands were expropriated years and years ago can also be attributed to Mr Mugliett."*

"Such lists of creditors is an ever-increasing one.."**

"The sum paid to the foreign consultants does come across as quite some pocket money when we consider the Lm2 million in subsidies that was promised to bus owners."

"No one has to be fed as to the onus probandi (burden of proof) in a court case. Yet, the minister slips indifferently away from any political shame fully supported by a yet politically and ethically indifferent PM, at least in the eyes of the public."

"All we should do is to be happy with our new roads... A lot of twisting and turning of truth itself keeps ministers glued to their seats, lifting them so divinely above condemnation and ordaining them with divine infallibility."

I'm off (see A.W.O.L) ... sorry no time to comment.

If, like me you, thought that the link on the Times was hidden.... here it is again.

Stay glued to your seats do not slip indifferently and try to quit oscillating. This Luxembourger cheese is over and out.

*Mintoff expropriat Mugliett Pagat.
** Nobel prize in Mathematics.

mercredi, août 03, 2005


This blogger has gone absent without leave. E.T.D from Luxembourg on Thursday 4th August at approx. 1030 hours direction Rheims. The tour of three cities will also include Dijon and Lyon. From Champagne to Mustard to the second largest city in France. Barring any random blogs from cybercafes along the way, normal blogging order will be resumed on the 9th of August (evening).

Enoy the great lyrics from the B-Boys while I am away. Meanwhile any suggestions for a reform of my Blogroll will be read and possibly even followed.

(Beastie Boys/Dust Bros.)

DJ Hurricane...
When Mike D's in the house what you gonna' do
I go A.W.O.L.
Adrock's in the house what you gonna' do
I go A.W.O.L.
When MCA's in the house what you gonna' do
I go A.W.O.L.
When Hurricane's in the house what you gonna' do
He goes A.W.O.L.
St. James in the house what you gonna' do
Home-1 what you gonna' do
Got busy in the house what you gonna' do
Dust Brothers in the house what you gonna' do
Mario G. in the house what you gonna' do
Lou Gains in the house what you gonna' do
Hollis Crew what you gonna' do
John Mish in the house what you gonn'a do
Killa Cutty in the house what you gonna' do
Jazzy J. in the house
Bad Brains in the house
Richard Consen's in the house...
yo Good night Amsterdamn
"Now I want you all to break this down..."

To all the girls, all the girls..
"You liked it, some of it's..."

Non Sequitur #15

You are not alone...

The latest State of the Blogosphere survey (August 2005) has been reported on BBC News here. According to the latest statistics one blog is created every second. That means that as this Non Sequitur is typed at least 300 new blogs will have been added to the Blogosphere.

As every report is published, the definition of Blogs develops. Here is how BBC Online described them this time:

Blogs, the homepages of the 21st Century, are free and easy to set up and use. They are popular with people who want to share thoughts online.

They allow for the instant publication of ideas and for interactive conversations, through comments, with friends or strangers.

13% of all Blogs are updated weekly while 55% of Blogs survive beyond the fatal three-month threshold.

Blogs have played a part in highlighting issues that journalists have not covered. They have also proved to be a valuable communication channel for journalists in repressed countries who have no other publishing means.

They have recently shown how they can also complement and enhance mainstream press in coverage of events, such as the recent London terror attacks.

Till the next Technorati survey... this has been Non Sequitur reporting from hyperspace.

Illustration taken from Sifry's Alerts.
The State of the Blogosphere report has been the subject of an earlier post in J'Accuse.
The metaphor of the Big Bang is very convenient when examining the blogosphere.

mardi, août 02, 2005

Non Sequitur #14

It seems that the end of the thong is nigh. As reported in the venerable Sunday Times (de Londre), UK sales of thongs have fallen by 17%. In Harvey Nichols stores the decrease is around 43%. The thong used to be associated with dancing girls, Brazilian Beach Babes and questionable romantic gifts. In 1997, however, it won fashion respectability when a Gucci model wore one on the catwalk.

The change in fashion was marked earlier this year by Elle Macpherson, 41, the Australian model, who launched her �afterwear�. She said: �G-strings are uncomfortable. Girls want real knickers now.� Figures from Gossard, the underwear manufacturer, show that sales of tight �boy shorts� that cover the buttocks have risen by 172% in the past five years.

Eds. note: Looks like we have to get used to seeing tight "boy shorts" now (and I am not complaining). At least one member of the Beckham family will be an unhappy man. And I am not pointing fingers... P.S. I enjoyed researching the hyperlinks on this NS :)

Why JK Rowling is not so smart.

While on holiday in Positano around three years ago, Tufigno and I came across an american gal who was living at the same hostel as us. Like most americans on holiday she was eager to share her experiences with all the hostel, whether we were interested or not. So one night, while we prepared for a game of briscola on the terrace overlooking the stupendous bay/town we were regaled with Amerigals tale about how the Potter books got adapted for in-duh-viduals in the US of A because certain names did not hit a cord. So Snape (a name that should sub-consciously trigger ideas of evil) had his name changed to something like Mr Bad. Furthermore, if Amerigal is to be believed, the laws of Quidditch were also altered so that Amerikids would not confuse it with hockey. Duh!

But that is not why I am blogging today. No. Today I found a gem of a quote on a site that topped Time Magazine's 50 Coolest Websites of 2005. The site is called Overheard in New York and consists of anybody submitting conversations overheard in NY to the site editors. Go there for some hilarious stuff... but here is the one concerning Rowling:

Guy: What book is that?
Girl: The new Harry Potter; it's the 6th of his 7 years at school.
Guy: 7? Shit. If that author was smart, she would have made high school 10 years.
Girl: Huh?
Guy: Yeah. And that bitch was homeless when she wrote those books.

--F train

Funny eh?

lundi, août 01, 2005

Have you heard the News Today?

The Maltese Blogosphere - August Shrink or The Hyperlink Misers?

Ever since its integration into the MaltaMedia Online Network blogs (as far as I know there are three plus the cartoon), Wired Temples seems to have taken on a policy of not commenting further on Maltese Blogs and concentrating on those kitsch Blogs about Malta by the occasional tourist from Upper Westphalia. Cross-referencing among Blogs keeps the blogosphere alive. The latest example of suppressed referencing is found in Tabellina (Think Journalism). A good article by Rebecca Cefai refers to Blogs being quoted by journalists (like with our anonymous friend Bocca :) ) and to Blogs getting reactions from irked columnists (read Lorna reacting to J'Accuse). Either Rebecca or the Tabellina editors chose not to refer to my blog as the example in question. Now my blog was not the only one to be mentioned in mainstream media so that is understandable however Lorna's answer to J'Accuse was the first documented reply to a blog so the omission of the reference in that case is less explicable.

I do not have statistics at hand but this reticence on hyperlinking other blogs has come at the same time as a general slowdown in posting in August to give the impression that the Maltese blogosphere is shrinking for the time being after the first big-bang. While that sans-pareil of opinion columnists J.G. Vassallo has also acknowledged the power of blogging, the Maltese blogosphere slowdown seems to be caused mainly by a realignment away from the original position of active and open engagement the original agora seemed to have. Which would be a pity.

Having said this, the page hits on J'Accuse have not witnessed any change in frequency since this slowdown has happened. Which might also mean that the hyperlinks were not effective in that sense. But that is not my point. My point is that the engagement and discussion was and is necessary for the development of the community. Navel gazing does not help. Otherwise we could all end up writing Prosy Points.

EU Commission examining Maltese Departure Tax

No comment

Nuttles Simplified Dictionary

Mr Thank-You-Government gives us a new article today. What is a decision? notwithstanding all my slagging I do think that Mr Frank Salt is doing us a service by simplifying what politics is all about. In the twisted world of Maltese politics, a column like Frank Salt's ends up inadvertently sounding like Utopia. Carry on Frank! But no more thank-yous... pretty please.

Times Editorial - Electoral Disquisitions

The Editorial starts off with that Saltish comment that the agreement between the two parties on the electoral changes marks a change in the political climate. While anyone in their right mind would smell the stink of agreement a mile away the Times expresses satisfaction. Had the Times known of Andreotti's historic kiss with Signor Riina the headline would probably have been "Progress Made between Government and Mafia". The huff over Gozo continues. As I said in a comment I made in one of Fausto's posts I am not concerned about the breakup of Gozo (which I tried to argue is actually a good thing for the island) but for the farce of MLPN when reaching this kind of agreements. More like buddies in agreement they are buddies in crime.

The concluding three paragraphs of the editorial however do deserve a mention (although no direct reference to a fair threshold is made therein):

"The objective should therefore be to make the electoral boundaries irrelevant for the strength of the parties in the House and necessary only for the delineation of constituencies.

Other issues also need to be settled, such as guaranteeing the right to vote to the growing number of Maltese who are working or studying abroad.

The agreement reached within the Electoral Commission on the electoral boundaries was clearly a step in the right direction. But it must only be seen as a first step towards the realisation of the ultimate goal of an electoral system which everyone can have confidence in."

And by everyone we mean EVERYONE!