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jeudi, décembre 29, 2005

Going Out in Style

The first background for J'Accuse was a lighthouse. The outlook was as yet unclear and the venture was into the unknown. The first conclusions are that the net and its people might be more technological and more prone to set out their thoughts on paper. The second, more bleak outlook is that the thinking waves are not much different. The nonconformist in me still does not feel at home, nor does the misanthropist to boot. The comedian enjoys it most of the time and the critic might find it relieving to vent his anger at the general feeling of ignorance.

Net rings, net cliques and net prejudices replace those in real life, and the saddest point of it all is that I find it reflected tenfold among my compatriots. So this, the last post for J'Accuse will be a bleak one. 150 readers a day and still nowhere to go. Still trying to understand what creates this impulse to write more, more, more. I will end the year with one of my favourite poems by Robert Louis Stevenson while wishing you all to "Choose Life", and remember... "You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake".

THE VAGABOND

Give to me the life I love,
Let the lave go by me,
Give the jolly heaven above
And the byway nigh me.
Bed in the bush with stars to see,
Bread I dip in the river -
There's the life for a man like me,
There's the life for ever.

Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o'er me;
Give the face of earth around
And the road before me.
Wealth I seek not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I seek, the heaven above
And the road below me.

Or let autumn fall on me
Where afield I linger,
Silencing the bird on tree,
Biting the blue finger.
White as meal the frosty field -
Warm the fireside haven -
Not to autumn will I yield,
Not to winter even!

Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o'er me;
Give the face of earth around,
And the road before me.
Wealth I ask not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I ask, the heaven above
And the road below me.

La Verite' Si Je Mens


"The Truth Shall Make Ye Fret" - (Terry Pratchett, The Truth)

The Queen of Nighttime Karaoke Performances has struck the Times in timely fashion on this inter-festive Thursday. Between booking a hotel in Paris for the Nuit de St Silvestre and leaving for a lightning half day trip to Trier I have to find some time for the commentary that has become a pleasant obligation. I do not have the time to do the usual full-text commentary due to the aforementioned chores and trips but I will not let this weekly (pleasant) appointment flitter by.

To begin with - the subject. Untruths and Libel. In what seems to be the first part of a promising and gripping series TGIL has decided to tackle head on the malicious spinning that both parties in our lovely Republic tend to use in their day-to-day work. In other words, Lorna is irked that the MLPN still to this day adopt practices of misinformation based on untruths that are knowingly uttered in the hope that the denial of such untruths will come so late in the day that aforesaid untruth will have passed its sell by date. (Apologies for the Bocca style sentence).

A little parenthesis is required here simply to state that the subject of Lorna's quest does exist and does form part of our irritating and pesky political forum. The practice of slander, unfounded accusation and mud-slinging was made notorious by a certain Harvard Doctor with his infamous statements of "Konvinzjoni Morali". A Moral Conviction that was meant to convey the feeling that the speaker did not need any facts to prove his allegations but that his pure moral conviction would suffice to make us all believe he was right. It was also a neat trick in an attempt to defy the hains of the law since you could always say "I said that I am convinced but it does not mean that I am right"... which would not work... but nice try.

Of course the Dame of the Socialist Grammaticals applies her objective stamp to the whole business and using her refined statistical skills that have been demonstrated elsewhere (the famous Thank God I am Lorna article) she concludes that the PN are the greater criminals in this mud slinging game. Why? I will start by quoting the poetess herself:

"Untruths also come in doses and the readers might be amazed at what a large range of shades exists between a truth and an untruth. This shows that life is not just a mathematical game and some truths may be more true than others while some untruths may vary from genuine mistakes to intentional, pre-meditated and timely fabrications."

As for shady truths, having given us this brilliant expose of the different shades of truth and mathematical dogma, Lorna proceeds to give us a statistical analysis that smacks of an intentional pre-meditated and timely fabrication all in one. Here is the analysis from the royal pen:

"The first point to note is that the party in government - the PN - has had 10 cases filed against it. It has also lost 10. The MLP has had 17 cases filed against it and lost 13. This means the PN has won none of the cases filed against it whereas the MLP won four."

Incredible isn't it? MLP has won libel cases. PN has not. Therefore PN is naughty and MLP is not. In the words of the virgin Mary... Come again? Is it possible that 10/10 is worse than 13/13? Forgetting the cases where MLP has won..... there are still 13 libel cases which the MLP lost. 13 where it was accused of libel and found guilty. In which case it is the party which was found to be perpetrating an untruth. The PN was found guilty in all ten cases where a libel was filed against its instruments of truth and unbias in the Dar Centrali. Last time I counted ten is less than 13 Lorna. 10 is all the fingers on your hands (f you are lucky enough not to be a blind butcher - a Pratchett (c) joke). 13 is all the fingers on your hands plus another three borrowed from the toesies on the end of your footies (keep your socks on this is hypothetical).

There is then the litte matter of her calculation that MLP have been fined less than PN for libel. A fact which can scarcely be corroborated by the figures (which is why Madame Bohemian Rhapsody fails to make any sort of simple division calculation - divide the fines by the number of successful libels). Then there are the non-numeric assertions that turn laughing gas into a superfluous discovery and threaten to throw thousands of comedians onto the dole....

"It-Torca, the General Workers' Union's weekly, is the only newspaper not to have had any libel cases filed against it by a politician since 1992. This seems to imply that it is the newspaper which gives the most accurate information and which has the most well-founded arguments."

There you go. It-Torca... serving unbiased information since 1992.

Unfortunately I am in a rush since I have a train to catch. Thankfully this article comes in installments. So I will be around next time in the New Year when Lorna will continue to thrill and enthuse. I take this opportunity to wish TGIL a Happy New Year and to tell her that her singing talents were greatly appreciated.

"Every effort was made to be as accurate as possible although space restrictions do not allow me to go into detail."


A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on.

-- (Terry Pratchett, The Truth)

mercredi, décembre 28, 2005

Mamma Mia!



Snow has fallen. Heavily. And my family and I are stuck in Metz while the French authorities conduct a massive search operation in order to find out where the hell they put the autoroutes. So our stay Chez les Blaises has been extended. No problem.... snowfights are a wonderful way to pass the time. And believe you me there is enough snow for an armageddon style warfare. Whatsmore we get to savour even more Lorraine delicacies... talk about look on the bright side.

Meanwhile it would seem that most of the Maltese blogosphere is now in Malta and enjoying a less white Christmas. The main hobby of bloggers visiting the isle seems to be the game of "Spot the Illiterate Colunist". TGIL was first sighted at some Chinese outlet and is reported to have delivered a passionate speech about the existence of UFO's and their influence on humanity. (I am Thank-God-Its-Lorna... take me to your leader). The climax of TGIL sightings occured in a karaoke bar last night - I received a long distance call from a fellow parkaed blogger who (via phone) granted me the pleasure of listening to TGIL screeching the finer notes of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. The Queen of Socialist Workers could not be heard clearly on our modest communication set-up... but I am sure that the spectacle must have been a great one to behold. Mamma Mia! ... really.

I am off to do some bobsleighing down the road... see you later...

mardi, décembre 27, 2005

Hang on a Second


It appears that the gradual slowdown of the Earth's rotation requires that 2005 is a leap year in "second" terms. What this means is that this year contains an extra second which will be added on the 31st December. To be more exact it will be appended onto the very last minute of the year. So the right second beforepressing play on "Auld Lang Syne" should read 23:59:60. (instead of 23:59:59).

For more scientific facts on this interesting second gained (or lost) go to this press release by RAS (the bigheads at the Royal Astronomical Society). Meanwhile the photo above is also related to the space-time continuum. It was taken yesterday as the snow fell on the Schengen monument marking the place where the three frontiers meet (and where the Shengen Agreement was signed). The eskimo in the photo is your's truly wrapped nice and cosy.

Tant biex taghrfu izzommu hin korrett....

lundi, décembre 26, 2005

dimanche, décembre 25, 2005

Milied Flimkien


[Edizzjoni Specjali ta' Sibtijiet Flimkien]

Stramba illum. Is-soltu inqum nofsni ghajjien minn lejla barra u inlesti ghall-ikla maratona tal-Milied. Imma din is-sena kollox lest. Kilna lejliet. Bhall-Francizi... ghamilna ir-reveillon. U jekk nara qatra ohra champagne jew pate de fois gras xi haga genetika tirribella u nibda nghajjat u nwerzaq ghal gbejna u kisra ftira bil-kunserva. Imma hadna gost. Hafna. Li tiekol tiekol. U mal-Francizi l-ikel bnin ma jonqosx. Stramba tpartat id-dundjan mal-maigret de canard ... imma fl-ahhar mill-ahhar xorta ghasfur u xorta tajjeb. U s-sauce divin. U d-dizerta Buche (christmas log) zur minn hawn specjalita' alsazjana. U mita l-prodotti ikunu home made minn omm it-tfajla tantl-ahjar.

Pero' imbaghad il-Hadd filghodu, Jum il-Milied, flok l-ikla kilna breakfast sinjura. Charcuterie zur minn hawn, gobon riha ta' kalzetti imma toghma ta' manna mill-genna, u Champagne (encore) sakemm f'mohhok kull m'ghandek bziezaq u alkohol fin. Jonqos biss in-nannu (alla jahfirlu) li kien tant jiehu pjacir jisma' il-kuncet tal-Vatikan u l-benedizzjoni ad urbis et orbis fuq l-Uno. Kuncerti li xi kultant ikunu imzewqa b'dak is-surmast inkredibbli li tieghu tfajt ir-ritratt fil-post tal-llum... Maestro Zubin Mehta. X'hin tonqos generazzjoni shiha mill-familja (ghalija telqu in-nanniet kollha) tun taret parti minn hajtek. Parti sabiha li tghozz biss fil-memorji sbieh. Bhal fi zmien il-Milied.

Ghalhekk ukoll iservi il-Milied... ghal memorji sbieh u mumenti ta' wens u serenita'. U muzika klassika u ferh sublimi fejn ghal mument kullhadd isir tfal. U champagne....


.... isss kieku niehu kisra ohra toast (gluten-free) bil-fois gras?


Hallejtkom... ha nerhulha lejn il-Petit Suisse ha ngawdu ftit mill-atmosfera hadra li Lussemburgu taf toffri... u illejla nattakaw il-Haruf!

Tislijiet u Xewqat Sbieh.

samedi, décembre 24, 2005

A Vintage Christmas Greeting


A Happy Christmas to all J'Accuse readers, critics and passers-by.



"Nativity with Saints Lawrence and Francis"
Michelangelo Merisi di Caravaggio



vendredi, décembre 23, 2005

Estrus


Daily Log. 0900hrs. 22, Rue de Bragance. 23.12.05. Morning broke quietly and coldly. Cat still in heat. Repetitive miaowing now entering the depths of the brain. Living on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Family contingent arriving at 1700 hrs.

The Italians have a word - "estro". It could mean a stroke of genius. Flavio tells me that it finds its roots in madness. As for Maltese, "l-estru" describes a fit or attack of passing madness. I have recently discovered the radix malorum. Estrus is the latin and scientific term for a mammalian cycle. All mammals barring humans and apes (who have a menstrual cycle instead) go through these cycles.

Cats too.

That means also Xitan. Yes, my dearest is suddenly a big girl. And believe you me... it is no cause for celebration. For two days I have withstood the symphony of noises alternating subtle demi-purrs with blood curling howls worthy of the mythical banshees. The meaning of the term "instinctive" has hit home like a hammer. It is instinctive for cats to miaow and howl. It is instinctive and therefore no amount of threats with rolled up newspapers will do. She just has to miaow.

Often. Regularly, and with a passion that only nature can grant.

Xitan visited the vet yesterday. She has now got all official injections and a Belgian passport (don't ask). This estrus thing is madness itself. I wonder if any of you knows the feeling of running up to a cat with a rolled up newspaper in hand and instead of finding a submissive cat fearing discipline one finds a sexually obsessed pussy squirming on the floor in a manner known only to the geishas of the Far East and the women from the Suleyman's Inner Harem.

If anyone knows of any solution that does not involve cats in sacks, large doses of rat poison or simulating sex in order to satisfy the feline's intimate instinctive desires, please, please do tell this poor man living on the verge of a nervous oestral attack.

Otherwise enjoy your Christmas preparations.

Picture above: Estrus : A giant fingerpainting by Max Singer

jeudi, décembre 22, 2005

The World On December 21st

Gay Knots and Manly Bells
Yesterday was a cool day for cool news. All over the UK people had warm feelings for all the gay couples who could finally tie the knot. From poofter to Mr. & Mr. in two decades, my oh my how far Brittania has come. Meanwhile the government of one of the Baltic States (I believe it is Latvia but I may be wrong) is preparing to constitutionally prevent the possibility of ever having gay marriages in that country. Poland has already taken this hard line and no prizes for guessing which way the Catholic Republic of the Med will be going. Incidentally since we are on the theme of matrimonial regimes... Malta is one of the only two countries in the world in which you cannot get a divorce (unless you are a Union and you fake a divorce from a political party). The other one? The Philippines.

Liar! Liar!
In what is fast becoming The Battle of the Liars, Saddam Hussein accused his gaolers of torture. "I have been beaten on every place of my body, and the signs are oll over my body." - where the former dictator's words. They are also the words used in the Easter Liturgy to describe the flagellation of Christ. Meanwhile the US of Duh! dismissed the claims as preposterous. Cry Wolf? In an unrelated incident two French Human Rights groups have lodged a lawsuit over alleged CIA prisoner flights landing in France. The lawsuit is aimed at obtaining more information from the authorities. Preposterous.

Tony Boo!
Mr. Blair has landed in Iraq for a surprise visit to the troops today. Fresh from congratulating Sir Elton John for his marriage he is now expected to congratulate the troops for, umm, err, doing their thing in Iraq.

Seal the Deal
The EU budget deal was cut (not exactly yesterday but I am operating in Holiday mode in case you have not noticed). Tony B is being hammered all over the UK for obtaining a budget which in pounds, shillings and pence pays the UK more than ever since it has reduced its net contribution to the EU... but who is counting? France retains its agricultural subsidies for a little longer. "Oh! Won't you PAY.... just a little bit longer!" Angie Merkel, the Woman with the Iron thingy was credited with brokering the final deal.

To Holland with Relief
Around 36 immigrants were sent to the Netherlands from Malta under the new burden-sharing agreement. Dank Je Wel!

Strike Out
New York Transport workers went on strike (virtually unheard of action in US of Duh!) and caused unprecedented havoc to the Big Apple, to its commuters and to its Christmas Craze. A Court ruled later in the day that aforesaid workers on aforesaid strike (for better working conditions and pay) will be fined $1 million a day if they were to continue the strike. State laws prevent transport workers from striking. it's the Economy stupid!

A Question of Sport

Juventus closed the first part of the season eight points above their closest rivals Internazionale. Valletta are still above Floriana and Hamrun. Luxembourg weather has been clement and Christmas decorations are in full swing.

I Can't Believe it's Not Santa!
And now for something completely different. Pope Bendy Xwhatever has shown the world that he has a fetish for retro. Yesterday Bendy rode the popemobile while wearing a camauro (see picture). The hat had been part of the papal wardrobe since the 12th century but had not been worn in public since 1963. Apparently the pope is intent on reviving some old wardrobe traditions of the papacy. Good for him. A bit of colour never hurt. Especially in these gay times of merriment and enjoyment.

That's All For Now... still waiting for the Times to publish Lorna's Christmas Treat

mercredi, décembre 21, 2005

Sena ta' Sport Nazzjonali

A Year of National Sport

Year after year Rugby has become the sport in which Malta's national team provides the biggest thrill and the most honourable results. Probably smitten by this sudden drift of attention, the national football team under the able guidance of Horst Heese performed admirably in the last two matches of the year - 1-1 draws with such able opponents as World Cup Qualifiers Croatia and the promising youth of Bulgaria. These last two results have allowed the team to move to a more reasonable placing in the FIFA world rankings. In fact we are still behind Cyprus (but getting closer) while we have leapfrogged the Far Oer (Faroe Islands) and left Luxembourg 20 places below us. Great.

It leaves us some hope for the new year under a new coach. Something in the back of my mind tells me not to be too enthusiastic and just consider anything positive that comes along as a pleasant surprise.

Meanwhile Malta's Rugby team is due for a crucial qualifier in Belgium in April 2006. I expect all expats in the area to converge on the stadium and give their vocal contribution to the lads in black, white and red.

Forza Malta!

mardi, décembre 20, 2005

The Alternative Christmas Campaign


Attentive purveyors of this blog will have noticed the addition of another button in the Campaign area of the right column. The child's drawing of a Christmas tree is a pic that I have selected to represent this mini-campaign that I would like to share with fellow bloggers. Some time back in November I received an email from a friend inviting me to visit World Vision's Alternative Gift catalogue (thanks Lexi).

The catalogue is a list of really useful gifts for which people in need in different parts of the world would be very thankful. Costs of the gifts are quoted in sterling and vary from 5 to 2000. My personal favourites - the flock of sheep and herd of goats -hover between 80 and 90 sterling.

Now the idea is to urge families to make a little collection during their Christmas and New Years enormous lunches/suppers/ all day orgies of food and use the collected sum to buy a gift for someone who would also appreciate it. In other words extend your feast. I will not be the boring humbug and say that these are the real gifts. That is rubbish. All gifts can be appreciated but there are definitely people in this world for whom Christmas should come every day of the year.

It is simple. Follow these steps:

1. Collect money from mum, dad, bro, uncle, aunt, cousins, priest and the guest nobody knows but who took second helpings of everything.

2. Pocket the cash. (Relax... you are about to convert it to plastic)

3. Go to XE Converter and convert whatever currency you collected into the equivalent in sterling.

4. Log onto World Vision's Alternative Gift Catalogue and see what you can afford to buy using your plastic money (VISA etc).

5. NOW sing Merry Christmas Everyone.

Links for Bloggers Wishing to Participate in Campaign Promotion

Fellow bloggers. If you wish to promote this campaign here are all the appropriate links.

World Vision Site (and do your own logo)

Logo Links:


Feel free to link to this post as a guide.


Remember... it does not HAVE to be Christmas to make these donations... but it helps give you that warm feeling!

Egg Nog anyone?
Ho! Ho! Ho!

lundi, décembre 19, 2005

Forward Planning (and white flies)


The clock ticks and even the worst of Ebenezer's among us is drawn into the Christmas vortex. I drew the shortest straw this Christmas so I will be hosting my parents, my uncle and aunt and my bro over the holiday season. Mel's family will be coming over for the reveillon de noel which means that we will be cooking for 12 persons. No big deal really.

Only that the turkeys I have seen here are rather teeny and it is no use that Miracle Foods send me their Christmas advertising with recipe because I have no access to their King sized Dundjan here in Luxembourg. So I will have to venture into the unknown world of Gigot or even (God forbid) biche. Meanwhile I have to finish the Christmas shopping and the gifts. Well, it's quite an adventure. Besides I have to book a minibus for a drive to Paris over New Year's eve...

One thing for sure... it's looking different and it's looking like fun...

And now here's a little poem/non-haiku I wrote...

Why?
The White Fly
Like the Pie
in the Sky

Red Herring
White Elephant
Blue Whale
Yellow Submarine
Green Peas

Why the White?
Fly
like the Pie
in the Sky

Santa's Red Coke

I was watching some French TV channel yesterday and there was a trivia question about the origin of Santa's red colour. I wondered for a while whether it was the same as for poinsiettas and robin redbreasts - the blood of Christ. Apparently not. The answer was that Coca Cola in its early pioneering marketing days had commissioned a Santa design to sell its product and the resultant design created the Santa Claus (or Krissmiss Fader) we see today.

Or not. As in, I do remember reading about this many times. The Coke Santa myth has been uttered time and again and has become a sort of received wisdom to repeat at every Christmas party when all other subjects have been exhausted. This site claims that it is an urban legend and provides some comforting evidence that shows that this worldwide tradition (including Australia's surfing Santa) is not due to the Atlanta based magnates. I'd like to believe it's true. I'd like to have less dependence on opinon forming marketing and let free will and imagination reign supreme. I'd like to be set free of advertising cliches.

I'd like to teach the world to sing.... in perfect harmony....

Always...

dimanche, décembre 18, 2005

Inter-Metz-O


I am in Metz once again. Still contemplating many things and none. FNAC has been invaded and I have managed to exit with minor damages. This city is fast being adopted by myself... I somehow fit in very nicely... and I love the people remarking about my lovely accent (especially the shop assistants).

Christmas shopping and freezing conditions are optimal for meditating on where you are at in life. I never believed in pressies but it is one of the social obligations that I never really managed to wriggle out of. Meanwhiule I keep meeting kids. Most of Melanie's friends have them. Kids. And they are fascinating in their honesty and in their distinct inability to fully "conform" to the social mores.

Thus Benjamin believes that the toilet is the most fascinating part of the restaurant... particularly when the music is Enigma's Sadeness. Thomas is too eager to read anything that he can find and proceeds to demonstrate his Masters in Menu Deciphration. And then there's Theo. Theo who will endlessly repeat the word hamburger (it sounds strange to a French kid) and rejoice on every level change in Prince of Persia on his mum's mobile.

What they all have in common is their blatant honesty. They will tell you what they like and what they do not like without much qualms about politeness, social rules and political correctness. I miss their honesty when I am in the company of those who call themselves my friends. People living on hearsay, heardo and the latest hairdo. People building clichès about you and never knowing when to let go. The incessant race of bettering your neighbour. The false hellos, all is well and good bye. The "Kif Int?" generation which does not really care if you were dying of triple heart failure. The more time passes the more the masks of society are burdensome and irking.

The worst part is that having seen through this long ago I do not really care... I have stopped trying to play along to their amusing acts. Spades will always remain spades in my corner of the world. I just want to play....

Life.... If it's in the game...It's in the game.

INSERT COIN.

OFF TO DO MORE CHRISTMAS SHOPPING.

jeudi, décembre 15, 2005

La Juve Non è Dopata


For years now we have heard all haters of the glorious bianconeri repeat the litany ad infinitum. The Bohemian coach's accusations of doping and EPO had stuck to the team. The mud had been thrown and it the jealous supporters of such conspiracy experts as AS Roma supporters took up the theme with enthusiasm. For more than eight years we have had to hear the team that is unable to win more than one scudetto every twenty years (and others) accuse Juve of winning on the strength of drugs. The name of the great team that had won scudetto, coppa italia, coppa campioni and coppa intercontinentale was muddied by losers who had to invent faults in a team that is built on success.

Yesterday the Appeals Court absolved Juve staff members Agricola and Giraudo from the accusation of "fraud related to sports" and held that no proof had been made of the use of EPO. We will wait to see what Zeman has to say about this. Meanwhile rivals of the bianconeri will have to find something new to sing about...maybe another invention... like the refereeing favours or the penalties... you can never tell... they have to find something to keep them happy.

Here is what Tosatti had to say about the decision in an article in which he asks who will pay for all the damage caused gratuitously to the image of la Grande e Vecchia Signora:

"Negli anni in cui la Juve veniva accusata di aver somministrato l’epo, aver fatto un uso illecito di farmaci consentiti e di frode sportiva, nessuno dei tanti controlli cui eran stati sottoposti i suoi giocatori avevano dato esito positivo. La stessa commissione del Coni sollecitata da Agricola a giudicarlo l’aveva assolto. Su quale base giuridica poteva essere invece, condannato? Evidentemente i tre giudici d’appello (noti per la loro levatura professionale) sono stati ancora più severi, facendo letteralmente a pezzi le tesi dell’accusa. Bocciata per clamorosi errori di diritto (l’inapplicabilità della frode sportiva al caso in questione, per esempio) e di merito (nulla prova la somministrazione di epo)."


SIAMO NOI! SIAMO NOI!
I CAMPIONI DEL' ITALIA SIAMO NOI

Read more:
Corriere
Gazzetta
Sportinglife
CNN Sports Illustrated
Rai Sport

mercredi, décembre 14, 2005

Intellectual Honesty My Foot


Commenting on my last post in the "Democracy in America" series (no relation to De Tocqueville), the blogger who calls himself the Jacobin had this to say:

"The day that you devote one, but one, blog post to the manifest human rights abuses that take place - daily - in China, is the day that I gain some measure of respect for your intellectual honesty. Or is it that only the United States of duh is worthy of your contempt?"

The defender of the US of Duh has struck again. I am baffled. The fact that I do not criticise China makes my criticism of the US of Duh obsolete. Balderdash. The thing is that as criticisable and ridiculous as China is, it does not, for one second, pretend to be a Democratic Republic. China is light years away from being a model democracy where citizens (and animals) enjoy proper rights. Does that make Duh!merica any better? Should I even bother.

Anyway. The intervention by America's prime advocate in the Maltese blogosphere reminded me of another thing. China is bad. Really really bad. It's got all the qualities of Iraq under Saddam. Funnily enough Bushman forgot to invade it. it seems that the democracy exportation machine does not really work. So. Excuse the long post but this is one of my favourite emails I ever received ... in full.... a sort of 90's Father and Son.... "It's not time to invade China... just relax take it easy... pick on the small... the towelheads... they're an easy target to burn...."

Enjoy...

Daddy, why did we have to attack Iraq?

Q: Daddy, why did we have to attack Iraq?

A: Because they had weapons of mass destruction honey.

Q: But the inspectors didn't find any weapons of mass destruction.

A: That's because the Iraqis were hiding them.

Q: And that's why we invaded Iraq?

A: Yep. Invasions always work better than inspections.

Q: But after we invaded them, we STILL didn't find any weapons of mass destruction, did we?

A: That's because the weapons are so well hidden. Don't worry, we'll find something, probably right before the 2004 election.

Q: Why did Iraq want all those weapons of mass destruction?

A: To use them in a war, silly.

Q: I'm confused. If they had all those weapons that they planned to use in a war, then why didn't they use any of those weapons when we went to war with them?

A: Well, obviously they didn't want anyone to know they had those weapons, so they chose to die by the thousands rather than defend themselves.

Q: That doesn't make sense Daddy. Why would they choose to die if they had all those big weapons to fight us back with?

A: It's a different culture. It's not supposed to make sense.

Q: I don't know about you, but I don't think they had any of those weapons our government said they did.

A: Well, you know, it doesn't matter whether or not they had those weapons. We had another good reason to invade them anyway.

Q: And what was that?

A: Even if Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein was a cruel dictator, which is another good reason to invade another country.

Q: Why? What does a cruel dictator do that makes it OK to invade his country?

A: Well, for one thing, he tortured his own people.

Q: Kind of like what they do in China?

A: Don't go comparing China to Iraq. China is a good economic competitor, where millions of people work for slave wages in sweatshops to make U.S. corporations richer.

Q: So if a country lets its people be exploited for American corporate gain, it's a good country, even if that country tortures people?

A: Right.

Q: Why were people in Iraq being tortured?

A: For political crimes, mostly, like criticizing the government. People who criticized the government in Iraq were sent to prison and tortured.

Q: Isn't that exactly what happens in China?

A: I told you, China is different.

Q: What's the difference between China and Iraq?

A: Well, for one thing, Iraq was ruled by the Ba'ath party, while China is Communist.

Q: Didn't you once tell me Communists were bad?

A: No, just Cuban Communists are bad.

Q: How are the Cuban Communists bad?

A: Well, for one thing, people who criticize the government in Cuba are sent to prison and tortured.

Q: Like in Iraq?

A: Exactly.

Q: And like in China, too?

A: I told you, China's a good economic competitor. Cuba, on the other hand, is not.

Q: How come Cuba isn't a good economic competitor?

A: Well, you see, back in the early 1960s, our government passed some laws that made it illegal for Americans to trade or do any business with Cuba until they stopped being Communists and started being capitalists like us.

Q: But if we got rid of those laws, opened up trade with Cuba, and started doing business with them, wouldn't that help the Cubans become capitalists?

A: Don't be a smart-ass.

Q: I didn't think I was being one.

A: Well, anyway, they also don't have freedom of religion in Cuba.

Q: Kind of like China and the Falun Gong movement?

A: I told you, stop saying bad things about China. Anyway, Saddam Hussein came to power through a military coup, so he's not really a legitimate leader anyway.

Q: What's a military coup?

A: That's when a military general takes over the government of a country by force, instead of holding free elections like we do in the United States.

Q: Didn't the ruler of Pakistan come to power by a military coup?

A: You mean General Pervez Musharraf? Uh, yeah, he did, but Pakistan is our friend.

Q: Why is Pakistan our friend if their leader is illegitimate?

A: I never said Pervez Musharraf was illegitimate.

Q: Didn't you just say a military general who comes to power by forcibly overthrowing the legitimate government of a nation is an illegitimate leader?

A: Only Saddam Hussein. Pervez Musharraf is our friend, because he helped us invade Afghanistan.

Q: Why did we invade Afghanistan?

A: Because of what they did to us on September 11th.

Q: What did Afghanistan do to us on September 11th?

A: Well, on September 11th, nineteen men, fifteen of them Saudi Arabians, hijacked four airplanes and flew three of them into buildings, killing over 3,000 Americans.

Q: So how did Afghanistan figure into all that?

A: Afghanistan was where those bad men trained, under the oppressive rule of the Taliban.

Q: Aren't the Taliban those bad radical Islamics who chopped off people's heads and hands?

A: Yes, that's exactly who they were. Not only did they chop off people's heads and hands, but they oppressed women, too.

Q: Didn't the Bush administration give the Taliban 43 million dollars back in May of 2001?

A: Yes, but that money was a reward because they did such a good job fighting drugs.

Q: Fighting drugs?

A: Yes, the Taliban were very helpful in stopping people from growing opium poppies.

Q: How did they do such a good job?

A: Simple. If people were caught growing opium poppies, the Taliban would have their hands and heads cut off.

Q: So, when the Taliban cut off people's heads and hands for growing flowers, that was OK, but not if they cut people's heads and hands off for other reasons?

A: Yes. It's OK with us if radical Islamic fundamentalists cut off people's hands for growing flowers, but it's cruel if they cut off people's hands for stealing bread.

Q: Don't they also cut off people's hands and heads in Saudi Arabia?

A: That's different. Afghanistan was ruled by a tyrannical patriarchy that oppressed women and forced them to wear burqas whenever they were in public, with death by stoning as the penalty for women who did not comply.

Q: Don't Saudi women have to wear burqas in public, too?

A: No, Saudi women merely wear a traditional Islamic body covering.

Q: What's the difference?

A: The traditional Islamic covering worn by Saudi women is a modest yet fashionable garment that covers all of a woman's body except for her eyes and fingers. The burqa, on the other hand, is an evil tool of patriarchal oppression that covers all of a woman's body except for her eyes and fingers.

Q: It sounds like the same thing with a different name.

A: Now, don't go comparing Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis are our friends.

Q: But I thought you said 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11th were from Saudi Arabia.

A: Yes, but they trained in Afghanistan.

Q: Who trained them?

A: A very bad man named Osama bin Laden.

Q: Was he from Afghanistan?

A: Uh, no, he was from Saudi Arabia too. But he was a bad man, a very bad man.

Q: I seem to recall he was our friend once.

A: Only when we helped him and the mujahadeen repel the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan back in the 1980s.

Q: Who are the Soviets? Was that the Evil Communist Empire Ronald Reagan talked about?

A: There are no more Soviets. The Soviet Union broke up in 1990 or thereabouts, and now they have elections and capitalism like us. We call them Russians now.

Q: So the Soviets, I mean, the Russians, are now our friends?

A: Well, not really. You see, they were our friends for many years after they stopped being Soviets, but then they decided not to support our invasion of Iraq, so we're mad at them now. We're also mad at the French and the Germans because they didn't help us invade Iraq either.

Q: So the French and Germans are evil, too?

A: Not exactly evil, but just bad enough that we had to rename French fries and French toast to Freedom Fries and Freedom Toast.

Q: Do we always rename foods whenever another country doesn't do what we want them to do?

A: No, we just do that to our friends. Our enemies, we invade.

Q: But wasn't Iraq one of our friends back in the 1980s?

A: Well, yeah. For a while.

Q: Was Saddam Hussein ruler of Iraq back then?

A: Yes, but at the time he was fighting against Iran, which made him our friend, temporarily.

Q: Why did that make him our friend?

A: Because at that time, Iran was our enemy.

Q: Isn't that when he gassed the Kurds?

A: Yeah, but since he was fighting against Iran at the time, we looked the other way, to show him we were his friend.

Q: So anyone who fights against one of our enemies automatically becomes our friend?

A: Most of the time, yes.

Q: And anyone who fights against one of our friends is automatically an enemy?

A: Sometimes that's true, too. However, if American corporations can profit by selling weapons to both sides at the same time, all the better.

Q: Why?

A: Because war is good for the economy, which means war is good for America. Also, since God is on America's side, anyone who opposes war is a godless un-American Communist. Do you understand now why we attacked Iraq?

Q: I think so. We attacked them because God wanted us to, right?

A: Yes.

Q: But how did we know God wanted us to attack Iraq?

A: Well, you see, God personally speaks to George W. Bush and tells him what to do.

Q: So basically, what you're saying is that we attacked Iraq because George W. Bush hears voices in his head?

A. Yes! You finally understand how the world works. Now close your eyes, make yourself comfortable, and go to sleep. Good night.

Q: Good night, Daddy.

Encore Plus Democracy in America

The Stage: the Council of Europe
The Theme: Report on Allegations regarding secret detention centres in Europe
The Rapporteur: Dick Marty, Swiss Senator

From the Council of Europe page:

"Information gathered to date has “reinforced the credibility of allegations concerning the transfer and temporary detention of individuals, without any judicial involvement, in European countries”, according to Dick Marty, the Swiss parliamentarian looking into allegations of secret detention centres. In a statement today to PACE’s Legal Affairs Committee, Mr Marty said legal proceedings in certain countries “seemed to indicate that individuals had been abducted and transferred to other countries without respect for legal standards”, although he said it was too early to assert there had been complicity of member states in illegal actions. He noted that the allegations had never formally been denied by the US."

From the BBC:

"In his statement, Mr Marty said it was "still too early to assert that there had been any involvement or complicity of member states in illegal actions." But, he warned, if the allegations proved correct any European states involved "would stand accused of having seriously breached their human rights obligations to the Council of Europe"."

***

The EU has not initiated any investigation of its own though it has warned that any of its states found with secret detention centres on its territory will have its voting rights suspended. Funny isn't it. The main instigator of all this damage is that great democracy across the ocean. It seems that the only one whose hands will not be slapped will remain the great law abiding US of Duh.

Remember the playground chaos as a child? Remember all the mothers rushing to the action and your mum getting "medieval on your ass" for having joined the general fun in torturing Johnny? Remember your anger when you noticed that Alex got away with it because his mum was "too relaxed" to do anything about it. And remember how your anger doubled when you pointed out this failure to punish to your mum and she answered "Yes, but Alex is not my son."

Seems like US of Duh will be getting away with this too.

Whose sons are they?

mardi, décembre 13, 2005

Inika Tnejn?


It is not often that I blog about work related matters. I keep my job as far away from the blogging world as possible. This time I could not resist a little tweak to the rule particularly since no ethical obligations will be broken. A week ago I blogged about the funny names that appeared in the UOM graduation lists. The name that seemed to tickle most people's funny bone most was "Inika", especially since it sounds like a conjugated rude verb in Maltese that would mean "he screws her".

Which brings me back to the ECJ. Running through the list of cases waiting for an audience I came across a name that I had already seen before. A Finnish case that now takes on a new perspective. Ladies and Gentlemens I present you case number 50 of 2005 (still not published, so its no use looking for it now you geeks!):

C-50/05 NIKULA

Imperatively yours.


NB: The above photo is in no way related to the case before the court. It pictures Finnish pole vaulter... hold it... "Pentti Nikula" who held the world pole vaulting record for 10 months between '62 and '63 at 4.94m only to be broken by Brian Sternberg of the US. Obviously the current record is held by the pole vaulting God Sergey Bubka at 6.14m.

Res Publica

"In a republic this rule ought to be observed: that the majority should not have the predominant power." Marcus Tullius Cicero
Thirty-one years later, even the Republic begins to feel old. Today the state of which I am a citizen commemorates its transition between consitutional monarchy and republic. Barring any great moves from the island where time stood still, I will still be a ctizen of this state for a few more years.

31 odd years ago Prime Minister Mintoff performed some admirable legal acrobatics and using a wonderful supremacy clause in our Independence Constitution put Malta in legal limbo for a couple of hours until the Republican Constitution came into being.

Queen Elizabeth as Monarch of the Maltese Islands did nothing to stop this transition (and in doing so violated her consitutional duty to serve and protect the very same constitution). She was fittingly dispatched to sender and vanished from the face of this isle only to return every now and to inspect the newly resurfaced roads.

Five years later the Dom would invent another great celebration by celebrating the end of a contract with NATO and deciding this would be called Freedom Day. The carnival of Public Holidays had begun.

I am fully aware that this kind of presentation can provide hours of discussion among the acolytes of Independence and the servants of the Republic. In truth I couldn't give a toss. Whatever government I have is meant to serve me. And serving me it ain't.

Happy Republic Day. For what it is worth.

Tookie


Around this time on the greatest democracy on earth, a man universally known as Tookie, a criminal paying for his crimes, a human being paying for his earthly sins is breathing his final breath. Governor Schwarzenegger failed to provide the necessary clemency. Tookie will die a compassionate death by lethal injection followed by 15 minutes of suffering. Requiescat in pacem. The fight to abolish the death penalty continues.

E pluribus unum.

lundi, décembre 12, 2005

I Want to Be Guze Stagno



shit
fuck
dick
cunt
zobb
liba
qahba
kelba
zobb
beatles
luigi
tenco
imagine
xtruppaw
rebel
hero
yeah
rock
roll
yeah


...there that should do it.... now I have to find myself a new idol!


"Then there was the release of Abstrass’ debut CD (better late than never, eh, guys?) and the explosion of the Maltese blog scene, which gave plenty of Guzé Stagno wannabes the chance to show us how witty and clever they are." - The Man Himself.

Nobel Speech for Bush

In his Nobel Prize acceptance Lecture, Harold Pinter proposes a speech for George Bush. Pinter volunteers to write the speech himself. Here it is in all its brief beauty (remember Bush is speaking):

"God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it."

© THE NOBEL FOUNDATION 2005

See also: Postform

Non Sequitur #40





"The quickest way to a man's heart really is through his stomach, because then you don't have to chop through that pesky rib cage."



dimanche, décembre 11, 2005

Selling Gozo


Between a visit to Lille's Wazeem market (or should I say Suq?) and another to one of the largest bookshops in Europe I shoot a quick glance over the Times articles. I loved Lino Spiteri's intervention in Wide Angle today. Sad to hear that the Imgarr Hotel has to go... looking forward to some politician taking on Lino's tips about the future sustainability of tourism in Gozo:

Here is the extract that I liked from his article:

Nor, one should think, is it essential to enable much-needed promotion of direct holidays in Gozo.

Having landed in Malta and cleared immigration, preferably through a dedicated Gozo channel, one can get to Marfa comfortably in a taxi at the very reasonable official tariff rate in under an hour and make an easy trip across the Channel to Gozo. Decent assistance with double baggage handling can and should be rovided.

Funds should not go into costly subsidies for the few when the money can be used more imaginatively to better general effect.

It is not a helicopter or fixed-wing service, or a golf course, that will make or break tourism in Gozo. It is the ability to preserve the natural beauty of the island, to upgrade its deteriorating road network, to review the surrounding ghastliness, including the hideous enclosing wall that insults the historic majesty of the Ggantija Temples.

Other necessary conditions include a commitment to keep prices serious and give value for money, to make focused promotion, highlighting the uniqueness of the island's attractions, including a strong cultural calendar.

Gozo is a story which can be told over and over again without ever becoming boring. Provided all the original pages are in it, and that whatever is added to them compliments the running theme, rather than interrupting or distorting it.

samedi, décembre 10, 2005

Bruges la Belle

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Georges Rodenbach would call it La Morte but for me it will remain toujours La Belle. Been to Bruges for the day. It is still as magnificent as ever. Even more when it presents itself under a winter sun and choc a bloc with christmas shoppers. Had time to visit the mythical fritures under the belfroi and passed by the Old College which still looks as nerdified as ever. Visited the Ice Palace before I left and had time to take a look at the New Theatre which was still under construction when I studied there. Pictures will be posted on Flickr when I am back in cold Luxembourg.

Tonight it's Lille and the Vieille Ville while the LOSC equipe is away in Lens for the local derby. Off to hear some Chti.

vendredi, décembre 09, 2005

A Lille Break


Following last week's escapade in the Cosmopolitan City of Gentlemen this weekend sees me running off on another weekend break. This time the locus vacationem is Lille, a city in the North East of France close to Flanders Fields and Dunquerque. Notwithstanding the bellic implications I plan to wage no war... it is planned to be just the type of holiday where no plans and no ideas are preconceived. Will be staying at a friend of M's and I am sure it will be fun.

I am not sure whether I will have time to hook onto the net so expect another unprolific weekend from the fresh cheese site.

A bien tôt!

In this life one thing counts! (TGIL)


So here it is. The Lorna Crit. Ironically this post gets put up one day late because I was busy organising my personal accounts and confirming my suspicion that the IOU's outnumber the They-O-Me's as per usual. I must say that yesterday's TGIL contribution to the Times was particularly illuminating – in the sense that it lit up my morning just like the Christmas lights in Republic Street light up your shopping experience. The general "lorna gloom and doom" theme resonates throughout the article and festive context is manipulated to perfection by the author in a Dickensian fashion.

John Maynard Keynes turns in his grave and the Circular Flow of Money (and Income) turns on its head as the Dame of Grammatical Virtuosities turns her attention to Marco and Micro Economics. I will not say more by way of introduction otherwise the commentary runs too long. Enjoy it while it lasts. Let's just hope that no one asks TGIL "A penny for your thoughts".

***
Christmas Politics by Lorna Vassallo (TGIL)

Too many people were walking in the same direction along Republic Street on November 24. (Was it a one way street? Had all the shops closed? Ah no… it was the cost of living protest!) Workers and their supporters (the unemployed of course!) came to the fore. To me, the extent of the flow of protesters seemed beyond expectation. (To me, this sentence is beyond explanation – a bit like exceedingly warm)

Is this not a country where political discrimination has become obsolete? Workers harbouring various political opinions (Schizophrenic Workers of the World Unite/Disband/Tie your Shoelaces!) are psychologically cornered (Coerced?) into either preaching or hiding them. If you are a worker (ah! If you are one of the select few) and this is the government you voted for you are intended to spend the whole five-year period reminding everyone about it as if this were a mantra to keep the government's misdeeds at a distance (I voted PN… Papé Satan Aleppe!). If this is not "your" government you pray to God the Almighty until "your" government is returned to power (Or your read TGIL with a passion)..

The issue that attracted the crowds to Valletta was the increasing amount of liri and cents that slipped out of the workers' pockets. (Yes. Apparently unbeknownst to the blue collar elite, rumour has it that a GWU circular pointed out that excessive amounts of coins and pounds had slipped out of shoppers pockets so a protest would be the fake excuse to enter Republic Street and rummage around the floor looking for the lost coins!)

That day, perhaps, the protesters were less conscious of where they were heading than they believed to be. (Another inarticulate sentence brought to you by TGIL). However, on the other end of the island (Mtarfa?), frost-bitten BMW drivers (Frostie the Driver) waited on Her Majesty and other honourable men. The cars, blessed by royal DNA, have been auctioned at a philanthropic sale (A Philanthropic Sale? Philo Anthropos…. A sale in favour of man) where demand has been high despite the fact that some of the DNA deposited on the car seats came from leaders who have for long lost the human rights page on their agenda. (Watch that BMW… it might have carried a dictator)

Money travels in circles in this country, (when it is not slipping out of shoppers pockets of course) just like anywhere else (Except Zimbutoo where they have special transport for the heavy coins… so their money travels on buffalo driven carts).. But here it seems to change speed and mood, depending upon the part of the trip it's taking (Watch the mastery of personification).. It is stealthily, cheatingly slipped (Incredible. The passive verb "slipped" is transformed into an active verb meaning stolen) out of taxpayer's pockets by the government in an Oliver Twist style (especially when sugared by ear-to-ear smiles by politicians). The small change from different directions is channelled to a much larger pool which flows on, reaching much bigger sums along the trail and clamorously falling into certain pockets in a way that they are definitely aware of it ending up there. (Hmmm. The nickel trail. It takes a literary genius to use ninety words in order to tell us "The government is stealing your money and giving it to some people").

And then? (Yes. And then?) The next step has repeatedly been for the monies to be pompously put back into the economy by way of philanthropy. (Philanthropy… the latest evil. For a second I thought she would be talking of blue-eyed boys. But no. It's another crusade against those dreaded philanthropists – remember her city gate beggars article?) This, in an impressive amount when compared to individual gains but fractional when compared to the government's spending power. Admittedly, in such circumstances, few citizens are lucid enough to realise that the monies taken from their pockets could have remained there (The exact location of THERE is being studied by a panel of economists, nuclear physicists and gynaecologists) in the first place. A smaller few are conscious of the fact that such money could have been passed on to the needy directly before first passing into the public domain. (As in private donations) Yet, a smaller minority (at this point, and in this country, "a smaller minority" means Lorna and her cat) are able to compare the extent of the amount of money filtered with the amount of money donated and that these were the same pounds and shillings (and not pence… the pence slipped out of the pockets in Republic Street and have been swallowed whole by Tony Zarb! Burp!). Rather inspired by an ecclesiastical sense of servitude (a what?) towards social honchos (I am a social honcho…come out with your pants down), a substantial part of the population even hails political leaders as some god-sent blessing.

What remains questionable in my mind (ouch!), however, is the raison d'etre of such money filtering. (If you are finding it difficult to follow just don't) However, so much accent has been made on the giving itself lately that the raison d'etre may well be the giving itself rather than the delivery of the much desired cash to the right, needy pockets. (And the Times still publish her after this kind of sentence!) Is giving a means or an end? (Does Lorna mean anything?) And if it is a means to an end, which end? (Una donna un perché) And once an end is achieved, does the money move on to reach the ultimate albeit secondary end? (Id-dinja mistoqsija….Ultimate albeit secondary…. Albeit secondary????)

All along it seems it has become a trend for a Nationalist government to pompously give as gift and/or a concession what should be given as of right. (I agree) It's all about illusion. (Or Grammar) It is only lately that the government, victim of its own past successes in illusionary skills, has accepted that the public is regarding some of its manoeuvres as unacceptable no matter how pre-conditioned into gullibility the people may be. (Gonzo the Magician revises his act)

In a country where a decent citizen's pay is stuck at a shameful level while unemployment is exuberant (Here it is… another one for Sharon… can we really say that unemployment is exuberant?), the government is giving away tons of marigolds (Marigolds?) which will hardly ever be replaced. GHOGM over and done with, all government departments were instructed not to organise any Christmas drinks as a measure of restraining the festivities budget (a measure which methinks is repeated yearly).

Once again, a four-day stay of foreign dignitaries in Malta was worth a budget running into millions while fellow Maltese who work year in, year out in government's departments are invited to remain ascetic (ascetic… jeeezus… did you hear of the Director of Trade who shaved his head and started wrapping himself in an orange towel while consuming minute quantities of boiled rice?). The same government employees and other flagellated workers (one flagellum, two flagella three flagella four… whipped haddiema tal-gvern!) are even expected to fathom the importance of others' over-indulgence at their expense (fathom the unfathomable). This happens as the government itself declares, via a parliamentary question, an expense of Lm200 daily on restaurants and hotels for its ministries and blue-eyed boys. (there they are… thought they would never come into the equation).

All of the government's movements give rise to suspicion. And now it's time for such suspicion to be stirred in the simplest of minds or the most brainwashed. (Let us brainwash the brainwashed MLP Good PN Bad) Expecting thanks and applause from citizens for charitable moves is quite an unacceptable sensational stunt in a democracy (I think that you have to bear in mind what was written previously when you read this last sentence). Choosing tender times such as Christmas days adds yet another spice of irony. (Choose a tender turkey.. it's good, it's festive and it does not let your money slip away).

What the public should do is weigh what is given or should be given as of right against what is donated as gift or conceded. It's quite true that the object of charity and knowing where one's money is going makes one feel better when giving up one's savings in favour of others.
Taxes lack such knowledge of their final destination (Talk about stupid taxes) and tax-paying seems rather like throwing savings into a bottomless pit (or some familiar bottomless pothole in one of our streets below queen standards)( Sublime- the last bracket was hers not mine)). There was a time when the government was rendering services without making a show of its political achievements. Now everything is blown up to look much bigger with the most vulnerable and those likely to be impressed being the central targets (hmm Target the impressionable. Her tactic on the other hand is to confound you with ungrammatical English before delivering the final blow).

Isn't it time to revise what rights citizens enjoy (reintroduce the death sentence while you are at it!) and the raison d'etre of collecting taxes?(Revise the raison d'être of collecting taxes? Now let me see... what reason should be given for the collection of taxes?)

***
I cannot believe it. This ramble was all about the government spending money on charities after it collected taxes. In essence Lorna is telling us that it is not right for government to tax us if it is then spending it on charities and making it sound like an achievement. As an aside we are told that Government Employees cannot have their whisky and pastizzi party as a sign of austerity while the dignitaries where allowed to wine and dine the night away. She hates BMWs with a faulty DNA and understands that workers can be schizophrenic about politics.

It is getting tiring… Can someone really tell me why the Times Editor lets this kind of stuff through?

Wilted Revolutionary


"Under a scorching sun, even determined revolutionaries eventually wilt"

Ubi Thermidor?

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Illustrations on the Theme of the Sun
:
Tiphareth, from the Sephiroth (Top)
Anahata, from the Upanishads (Middle)
Akhenaton, (Egyptian) (Below)

jeudi, décembre 08, 2005

of War and Crime

A shocking piece of news in today's Independent (UK). Two civilians and a soldier have been accused of crimes and tried in court. This would not be shocking news were it not that the 'crimes' that they are accused of were really acts of defiance against the war.

- Maya Evans, 25, convicted for reading out names of 97 British soldiers killed in Iraq at unauthorised protest.

- Douglas Barker, 72, threatened with jail for withholding part of his tax payment in protest at the Iraq conflict.

- Malcolm Kendall-Smith, a 37-year-old RAF medical officer, facing court-martial for refusing to serve in Iraq.

Just in case you were wondering, the 'unauthorised protest' was in violation of a 1km no-go zone around Westminster. The law in question was actually enacted with the aim of getting rid of a seasoned heckler. Unfortunately Maya fell foul of the law while reading the list of soldier's names by the Cenotaph (monument to the Unknown Soldier). Mr. Barker calculated that 10% of his tax would go to military expenditure. So he set it aside and told the Inland Revenue that he would be sending it to a foundation that helps children in Iraq.

As for Malcolm Kendall-Smith you may be forgiven for thinking that he is a coward in the guise of a conscientious objector. Not. He had already completed two tours of Iraq but after studying the legal position, including the advice of Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, he concluded the war was unlawful and he should not return.

British Justice delivered the following decisions:

Maya Evans: guilty of breaching Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005; conditionally discharged and ordered to pay £100 costs.

Douglas Barker: Magistrates imposed a liability order, which means he has to pay the outstanding amount or bailiffs will become involved. Hilary Light, the chairwoman of the bench, said: "Whatever this court may feel, our jurisdiction is laid down and we can't say where money can go to. We are therefore going to make the liability order.'' No time limit was given.

The third case is still pending trial:

Flt Lt Kendall-Smith faces five charges of disobeying lawful orders under the RAF Act 1955. The court martial will begin on 15 March. His lawyer is basing the defence on the fact that it is not unlawful to refuse to participate in a war that is itself unlawful under international law.

Coming Soon... Lornomics


"The next step has repeatedly been for the monies to be pompously put back into the economy by way of philantropy". - Lorna Vassallo

She has redefined the term grammar. She has set new standards for narcissism. She has given meaning to the Thursday Newspaper.

It's now time for her to try her hand at the Political Economics of Christmas. In this early new version of a Christmas Carol the Dame of the Grammatically Incorrect continues the Dickensian tale of economic woes of a people suppressed under the Nationalist hammer.

Read how you could potentially find money all over the place as it slips out of pockets. Read about sugar politicians that rival the Oompa Loompas. Read the word pompously at least twice in the same text. Find out about the government and its flagellated workers.

It's a reading for the "simplest of minds or the most brainwashed" alike.

It's out now... Christmas Politics by Lorna Vassallo.

Nota Bene: The usual crit service will be posted later on today.

mercredi, décembre 07, 2005

Farewell Punch (and Judy)


David Cameron is the new leader of the Conservative Party in the UK. Our own, Maltese, Times dedicated its editorial to this new appointment - which only goes to show that somebody at Strickland House still labours (or conserves) under the illusion that The Times of Malta is an independent conservative establishment of its own right.

But back to young David (I am ready to wager that it will become Dave soon). At 39 he is young indeed and has already (like Blair in his time) begun to draw comparisons to that myth called William Pitt the Younger. What I like about Dave is his intention to break with the past... which does take some guts when you are head of a party called Conservative. Reading today's Times (the original) we could hear about the person without experience who was elected to head the party. As always we hear the idealistic story, the one the person sets out with before facing the realities of politics. It is pleasant to hear but one cannot help but ask "How long will this idyllic wishing last?".

I loved the Punch and Judy politics quip. It is an ideal that I share with a passion. Here is what Cameron said:

"And, in a swift illustration of his determination to reclaim the centre ground for the Conservatives, he broke with the legacy of Thatcherism, declaring that there was such a thing as society, and promised a new style of politics that would mean the Tories backing the Government if they thought it was right for the country. He told his party to stop grumbling and to accept modern Britain as it was. With the authority of his massive victory behind him, Mr Cameron prepared to lay down the law to MPs, saying that he wanted an end to “Punch and Judy politics — the name-calling, backbiting, point scoring and finger pointing.”

Apart from the beautiful middle-finger to grammatical convention by the Times contributor who starts a sentence, nay, a paragraph, with the word "And", this Grand Plan of Cameron cannot but be appreciated. Stop the bickering and become real, mature, responsible politicians. The joke (and irony) is on us. On the electors of democratic governments worldwide. Because (yes I start sentences with Because too) you see, we are now come to a point where electoral promises and promising politicians are simply what they were meant to be in the first place. They should not be promising us what they are meant to be doing all along...

There is such a thing as society indeed.... good luck David!

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mardi, décembre 06, 2005

Era to Go Up In Smoke

Speaking in Palermo at the IVth National Conference against drugs, the executive director of the UN Office against Drug & Crime (Antonio Maria Costa) reveled for the first time that the Netherlands has finally succumbed to international pressure and will be closing its infamous Coffee Shop businesses in the immediate future. Mr Costa said that coffee shops violate international conventions and reiterated that their supplies take place through illegal channels. The Netherlands had already begun to see a decline in the business but this new EU inspired measure will definitely be the final stroke.

read more on this here at La Repubblica.

Non Sequitur #39

from The Times of Malta:

"I was informed the letter had not been sent earlier because Tony Zarb could not find a good quality fax machine in Brussels (where he is attending a trade unions' meeting) (...) " Dr Gatt said.

Issa Daqshekk.

lundi, décembre 05, 2005

CHOGM...going...gone

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Sign on MLP Centre in Valletta that read "WELCOME ALL HEADS OF STATES CHOGM. THANK YOU FOR MAKING OUR GOVERNMENT UPGRADING SOME OF OUR ROADS AFTER 18 YEARS. PLEASE COME EVERY MONTH."

CHOGM has come, gone and been battered by the general public. Daphne was right when she wrote about the inappropriateness of the organisers projecting a Malta-centred vision of CHOGM. CHOGM was not about showcasing Malta to the rest of the Commonwealth. It was that too, but it was also about outlining possible areas of cooperation and maximising the Commonwealth's potential. I was glad to receive the above pic of the Labour party's facade and the infamous chalkboard which showed the above words throughout CHOGM. I sympathise with the subject of the message but the Board's English might be evidence of some hidden "literary" helping hand. (TGIL chalkwork?).

Meanwhile the Maltese nation is left to enjoy the fruits of the labour (or the PN in this case) and will commute on partially resurfaced streets until these too return to normality. Stagno, that literary wave of enlightenment, has already pointed out that large chunks of the road to Castille are falling off. Lanzita reads some Houellebecqian undercurrents (yawn!) in such statements. Persons of a less wankellectual disposition were meanwhile heading to some tent somewhere where BMW Malta was busy auctioning off 59 (fifty-nine) BMWs to the poor and destitute Maltese who complain about the price of fuel and budgetary hikes. Not that budget but the one of the week before. Snicker snicker. (Ha fatto la battuta Zrinzo Azzopardi!)

BMW (Malta) had of course not expected any of these to be snatched up. In fact they had booked transport to resend the unsold beemers (as an old colleague in Lux used to say) back to whichever petrol guzzling economy they came from. Instead in two hours and fourty-five minutes a maximum of 59 individuals had spent a total amount of Lm1,979,900. Eat your heart out Tony Zarb! ".. bids flew in ranging from Lm33,000 to Lm 44,000 for the luxury cars."

Now ok. We raised Lm600,000 for l-IStrina. Good. But I have a few questions for you people out there:

1. Does Malta have the same economic divide as Brasil?
2. Do these people know that CHOGM roads do not last forever?
3. How many Maltese living beyond their means?
4. Should bank loans be more heavily scrutinised?
5. Are we close to the bursting of the bubble? Whose loans will be called in first?
6. 59 f*ing beamers. Five Nine. In the year of the petrol budget.

I'll be beggared. Well. I am back. London was fantastic. Food there is always exquisite. From the Chinatown haunts to the Pub delicacies. The weather is mild. The "We Will Rock You" musical at Dominion Theatre is not a must go but very enjoyable and the Ben Elton script is funny (though not riotously so). I am still reeling from the extent of courtesy shown by any individual who is asked questions. No wonder London can attract so many visitors. It is not the London Eye or the London Hedgehog. It's the "Yes, love, no love and Are you allright love?" that does the trick.

Loan, anyone?

dimanche, décembre 04, 2005

Mind the Gap


J'Accuse has not vanished from the blogosphere. Nor is it participating in the unplanned and uncontrolled lull in the blogosphere. The author has only just returned from a whirlwind consumerist visit to Central London. Normal blogging service will be resumed tomorrow.

Meanwhile:
- happy birthday to gybexi
- well graduated and thanks for the carnival to maltagirl
- well done to London Underground for the opening of DLR extension to London City Airport
- Luxembourg the most drab and cold city in Europe - it makes a visit to London feel like a summer holiday
- Pub lunches (at the Brewmaster) definitively prove that Brit food can kick bottom.
- Nothing beats English courtesy.

This is Luxembourg Station change here for the Freezing Line.

Mind the Gap.

jeudi, décembre 01, 2005

Name Game - Mi chiamo Ayeye Bratsov

Wang looks out for Wang while Wang went off to the loo

Recipient: "the semantic role of the animate entity that is passively involved in the happening denoted by the verb in the clause".

And in the case of the graduation ceremonies in Malta the number of animate entities is quite considerable. Semantically speaking the most interesting part of the lists that are annually published in the Times (and now the Indy) of all graduands is the number of funny names you can find. Just as I am sure someone had an uninformed giggle about "Jacques René" the first time they saw it (not knowing that Chirac shares both name and second name), I enjoy a giggle or two while surveying the list of newly degreed that grace the island. So here goes my very best from today:

Dip. Management Studies (manage this):
Rita Borg Saywell (surnames count too)
Stasianne Galea (I'm in Extasienne!)
Romona Grech (my Romona! My Romona!)
January Mercieca (any guesses for her birthmonth?)
Semon Montagno Bozzone (not Maltese I know... but Montagno Bozzone!)

Dip. Social Studies (socialise it):
Maronia Camilleri (yes. Maronia)

B.A. Religious Studies (amen):
Annunzjata Micallef (could she have graduated in anything else)

B.Sc. (Hons) (space oddities):
Erica-Jo Bonnici (yee-ha)

B.Comm. (I just love to pick on these):
Charisse Cuschieri (ermmm what?)
Oriana Fenech (Malta's answer to Fallaci)
Claudia Sghendo (must be me but I thought this surname was fictitious)

Jiang Jun Wang
Jiemin Wang
Yang Wang
Yi Wang
Yilun Wang

Ok. I know the last four are chinese names. Look closely. Remove the Wangs. So we have Jiang Jiemin and Yin and Yang graduating. Is someone pulling our non-oriental leg? Incidentally... do you know why they have not got too many telephones in china? Because there are so many Wings and so many Wongs that someone might Wing the Wong Numba!

Postgraduate Dip. Geront. & Geriat. (batteries not included):
Ebenezer Ajiwe
Willy Gatore
Olabisi Olorundare
I love African names. Seriously. The favourite remains Doctor Khumalo.

B.A. (Hons). Social Work:
Check out this sequence:
Ilona Conti
Sandra Drago
Glenda Duca
Wow. Conti Drago Duca. That's what I call going medieval on our ass!

B.Comm (Hons) (honourable gits):
Dale Azzopardi (and the deltones)
Rodianne Camilleri (another of the burger king names)

Others:
Inika Camilleri (no. seriously. Inika Camilleri. As in Jiena Innika, Inti Tnika, Hu Inika)
Rouvin Zammit (a zammit Worse off than me!)
Stephanie Whelpdale (as in beat Mr. Azzopardi)
Lorenza Gatt (destined to govern with an iron fist)
M'Concetta Grima (M'fhimtx)
Olivianne Caruna (olivia and anne duh!)
Chanel Cassar (poor thing... call me smelly)
Charles Tanti Rigos (sounds like a programme for Macintosh)
Melisande Aquilina (hmm)
Goline Attard (suggestive. And I will stop there for the younger audience)
Simitrio Pianciamore (ok.)
Charlene Spiteri (the texas frontgirl graduates in PGCE)
Amanda-Jane De Giovanni (a friend fo Erica-Jo)

Finally... graduating with an Honourable Bachelor of Accountancy (what else?)...

MARK SPENCER

Note: Any semblance to real persons is purely the fault of irresponsible parents. The author waives any responsibility.

Laurel & Bush

“Unlike past wars, victory in Iraq will not come in the form of an enemy’s surrender. There will not be a signing ceremony on the deck of a battleship.”

Of course not. Mr Bush has once again reiterated his Iraq strategy... he will not settle for anything less than victory. The same victory he declared over a year ago? The US opposition is now disgusted at Bush's entrenchment in this ridiculous policy. His attempts at proving that Iraq is not a new Vietnam have become more and more ridiculous. Now we have him rewriting the rules of the game. In practice he is saying "I will come back when I have won... and that is when I say that I have won!". He will decide what is a victory.

Bush is the kind of person who believes that if he repeats it long enough he will convince people that he is responsible for the sun rising in the morning. Better not give him too many ideas otherwise he might be invading Malta after the next solar eclipse...

Read about Bush today:
Independent
Times