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mardi, décembre 26, 2006

New York, New York

The time has come to leave. And such. As Lorna would say. In 4 hours time the taxi to Lux airport will be the first step in my first adventure to the States. Unlike De Tocqueville I will not be on a democratic study trip. Instead I shall be devoting most of my time to epicurean pleasures... and who knows... maybe my attitude to all things American may take a positive turn.

Blogging will be down till around 5th January - barring any quick blogscapades when in the Big Apple. Allow me to wish all you readers a Happy New Year as from now. Looking forward to entertaining you in the forthcoming year.

A little note of thanks also goes to that entrepreneurial bunch who came up with a jolly set of Blog Awards and chose to 'shower' J'Accuse with the Pundit of the Year award. Thank you. It is appreciated, seriously, though we still doubt whether our blogosphere is large enough to be able to have so many varied awards that can smack a bit of "a little award for me, a little award for you" etc etc. Criticism always comes from this end of the blogosphere and I am glad to have been awarded something so that this does not sound like sour grapes. It's a beginning... and I hope we will be able to look back at the time when the Malta Blog Awards were in their youth and functioned as an encouraging pat on the back practically to all those people who were out there.

Thanks also go out to my friend Fausto (and fellow pundit indeed) for the nomination. A little slap on the hand to the award creators for not having thought of any award for that sarcastic genius Ajjut! Sharon better start blogging regularly to live up to her name for the Blogorrhea award.

There. Couldn't choose a worse way to end the year... criticising fellow bloggers. So I better end on a happy note....

... keep blogging.

That should do.

All the best and see you in 2007.

samedi, décembre 23, 2006

Just Practising


Hmm let me see...

A Merry Christmas and a Jolly New Year to All You Out there...
(naah... too common)

Festive and Season's Greetings to all readers
(jeez how layman)

All the Best to the Wonderful J'Accusers out there
(patronising... not the stuff that the most popular blog in Malta (probably) would be made of)

Wishing You All the Greatest of Things for the Coming Holidays
(aren't we all a happy bunch)

Thinking of Y'All this Christmas
(right)

May God Bless You All
Jacques-zinger

Ok. I'm really not good at this. And I really, really, really need to get hold of Melanie to wrap all the pressies.

Cheerio lads... as you can see blogging does not come easy over the Christmas rush...

so long... and thanks for all the fish.

vendredi, décembre 22, 2006

This is not a post

... and yet we could not let a day pass by without writing something in J'accuse.

P.S. Pre-Christmas is hectic isn't it?

jeudi, décembre 21, 2006

One Small Step for MLPN....

From Maltastar:

The basis of agreement between the Labour party and the Nationalist party is a step forward for democracy in Malta. This was stated by Labour’s deputy leader for party affairs, Dr Michael Falzon.
Dr Falzon told One News’ Matthew Carbone, that the discussions were held between him and Joe Saliba for the PN. The Labour deputy leader said that these discussions led to the two sides agreeing to three basic principles, namely that the votes which count for determining the outcome of the general elections would be the first count votes, secondly that there would be strict proportionality between the number of votes a party gets and the seats it is allocated in parliament and finally, that Gozo would remain one district but that this would not lead to the Malta electoral districts being changed for the next general election.

Thank you very much say all of us. What exactly does the strict proportionality principle entail? Does it in any way mean that if a party gets a number of votes across all districts that is above an MP threshold then it will also have a right to be represented in parliament? Does it Mr Falzon, does it?

Thank you very much messirs. You make us all proud.

mercredi, décembre 20, 2006

Show Me the Money


J'Accuse... party funding.

Here at J'accuse we have constantly commented on the fishiness of the party fund-raising affairs. Unfortunately our laziness in maths never led us to make the calculations that Hogan made last Sunday. And well done Hogan we say. Here is his reasoning regarding the PN's Lm300,000+ fund raiser on Republic Day:

Indeed, I hope no one for a minute is gullible enough to believe that the amount that was declared had been collected from Joe Citizen by the two political parties on the 13 December is a reflection of the truth. Take for example the collection at the PN premises, and for a wee second please turn to your calculator. At the Stamperija as we always used to call it, I noted eight phones. With eight phones and an average 15 phone calls an hour over a 12-hour period and pledges of Lm10 a call, the maximum amount one would collect works out to be Lm14,400. The PN insists it collected over Lm300,000. If that is the case, then only a miniscule amount originated from the general public by way of pledges on the phone. If the PN wanted to collect Lm100,000 alone from phone pledges in 12 hours it would have to have at least two phone calls a minute on every phone for 12 hours with pledges of Lm10 every time.

Now imagine we owned a company involved in dark deals - let us say we owned a chain of men who manage a string of women who solicit business on the trottoirs of Gzira. Let us also say that there is a company behind this chain of men who run this string of women (highly improbable but let us assume). Let us say that this company also prints a newspaper, has a travel agency and owns a TV (again not very probable). Let us say that this company obviously (and hypothetically) makes more dosh pimping than it does printing. So suddenly one day the CEO of Pimpin' Enterprises hits on a brainwave. A one-day telethon on 15th August - to fund raise for the general benefit of the Pimpin' Enterprises. And hey presto! Suddenly the ins section of the balance sheet perfectly balances the out.

In some countries this could be called a sad form of money laundering - a mechanism to bring illegally obtained funds into the market. In some countries the tax inspector would become ultra suspicious. You know... when you earn money... you pay tax on income or if you are a company some kind of company tax etc etc. If you do a telethon you just see the money roll in. No?

See where I am getting at? Not only do we not regulate party funding in Malta. We also do not ask where the money is coming from - whether the parties are busy soliciting for rich customers in exchange for services rendered (or promised). We do not question the obvious scams that are perpetuated every time Wenz and Fred need money. We do not even ask whether these parties pay tax like we do. No we take all this and more for granted.

So the parties get to swim in Dosh like they've won the lottery at least once a year. And how much dosh they have we will never know... "Dosh kemm ghandhom?"

And as in the case of electoral boundaries, the same parties who play the dirty game also get to write the rules. Which puts us in the position of the biggest fools in history - witnessing the scam, participating in it year after year (for those eedjits who still send in money)... and the worst bit... actually voting the pimps back to parliament on the first chance we get.

J'accuse will be organising Malta's First Internet-thon sometime in the new year. All donations will go to a good cause that improves the general well-being of an upright citizen like myself.

mardi, décembre 19, 2006

Missing Stats

While Time magazine announces that Internet users - bloggers, podcasters et al - have been voted Time Person of the Year, Malta's figures on Internet Access are conspicuous in their absence from the EUROSTAT charts. Malta has not submitted its statistics on access per 100 households in the years 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 inclusive. Why?

See here.

lundi, décembre 18, 2006

Life is Football

A little pause does no harm. Friday night's news came as a shock to all Juve fans (and non). Two young men ready to leap into the crazy world of professional football had their lives prematurely cut short. The senslessness of their cold deaths only adds to the mourning and sadness that surrounds the event. One does not blame their parents for asking questions and trying to find someone to blame. The editor of La Gazzetta rightly pointed out that this tragedy is closer to that of the boys playing football in the street, risking their limbs recovering stray balls from the traffic than to the world of money, shams and fixed matches. Too true.

I remember playing football with the bullies and arabs of Paceville in the patch of cement opposite Wembley's. In my time there was no two metre high fence and whenever the ball went into the busy St. George's road we would sprint after it nonchalantly zig zagging among moving cars driven by furious drivers. In Pembroke the odd piece of rust on the floor carried the additional risk of tetanus (hence the sprint to the clinic on a Sunday for the obligatory injection). I can name hundreds of other places that each carried the risk of their own.

We learnt to avoid these risks. We learnt to take preventive action. But nothing could overcome our passion for the game. Like life, football carries many risks... some of these are not immediately obvious to the onlooker... deaths on and off the pitch are not rare but it is important for the game to go on. Never shall we forget though. Alessio and Riccardo will be added to the hundreds of other names who died while playing or enjoying the game...

****
And it's soon Christmas. Which means errands galore. Which means that I am on holiday from today. Bills to be paid, goods and gifts to be bought and final farewells to be made to most of the Maltese community going back home. I am staying here... Christmas this year will be spent in Metz... then it's off to the Big Apple for a New Year in the New City.

More to come...

samedi, décembre 16, 2006

Lutto

No posts will be posted on J'accuse today as a sign of respect towards the two young footballers who died tragically at the Juventus training grounds of Vinovo yesterday.


In Memory of:
Alessio Ferramosca
Lorenzo Frison
1989 - 2006


vendredi, décembre 15, 2006

Suspenders

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From the Times:
The Nationalist Party said it will be suspending all political activities between Monday and January 7. It is the second year that the PN is doing so during the festive season. The party said it is also refraining from issuing political statements and from airing or printing political articles or programmes on its media.

Thanksgod as Rita Law would say. Labour supporters will be asking themselves whether the Times will be limited to Lorna's exploits and whether Bocca's weekly rants count as political articles. Nationalist supporters will not be missing much. The others will be wondering whether the PN ever had any political activities in the true sense of the word. But then one can understand... a party that is busy collecting half a million liri from its voters (does anyone monitor this process? does Mr X the millionaire split some money between some of his followers who phone in to "donate" in their own name and thus avoid any scandals of party-funding by interest groups? do the party accolytes care how that money is spent?) can scarcely have time for politics.

In my time at SDM I had started issuing a journal called Politics Now! I remember that we had tried contacting various members of the PN intelligentia (among other people) to contribute with articles debating christian-democrat values. I also remember the scarcity of replies. As far as I know the PN does not need a moratorium on political articles... they have been absent for quite some time now.

A moratorium on useless propaganda that goes nowhere, a moratorium on mud slinging and name calling, a moratorium on mentioning Labour's dark ages... now that would be something. Until then we are all left in suspense....

jeudi, décembre 14, 2006

M O N E S T E R O L O

M O N E S T E R O L O
M O N E S T E R O L O

Ta' Qali Stadium
Premier League
Wednesday 13th December (anniversary of the Centenary Cup Final)
Valletta 2 - Floriana 1
Scorers: Sebastian Monesterolo (2), Adrian Mifsud (1)

Sena, wara sena...

mercredi, décembre 13, 2006

And now the News

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WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS REFERENCES TO IMMORAL AND INDECENT ACTS IN PUBLIC. SENSITIVE VIEWERS SHOULD NOT READ BEYOND POINT 4.

1. Commission Raps On
The European Commission is not satisfied with the answer given to it by the Maltese government regarding the departure tax. The Commission deems the existence of such a tax discriminatory. This led the Commission to send a letter of formal warning which is essentially a request by the Commission to a government to give reasons why a law or administrative action taken by that government should not be seen as infringing Community law. The government's reply to such letter was not satisfactory(I assume that the govt showed that it had reduced the tax) and this has led to the second step of procedure: the reasoned opinion. In a reasoned opinion the Commission formulates its case against the government - pointing out what it deems to be the areas of infringement and requesting the government to take action in order to rectify the situation (one can assume from the Commission's arguments that the Commission would request either that the tax is removed or that local travel is taxed equally). The government now has two months to rectify the situation and reply to the reasoned opinion. Failure to do so will imply an action in the European Court of Justice for failure to implement community law.

2. And on
It's not just air travel that's in trouble. The Commission does not find the situation regarding the Gozo Channel monopoly very amusing. Even this procedure is at the stage of reasoned opinion. Looks like a lot of work could be coming up at the Court come next season.

3. A Good Nationalist Article
Since someone seems to think that we only see bad things come out of the PN media columns allow me to say that Malcolm Mifsud's article on today's Indy seems to be a well-argued reposte to an interview by Michael Cohen. Well-argued, well-said and to top it all up not one word about Mintoff and the dark ages.

4. Republic
Speaking of which... happy Republic Day to all you enjoying a second public holiday in a week. Aren't we a spoilt nation?

5. What's Wrong with the Thong?
Reports from the Maltese courts regarding the Lap Dancer's Case read like a Carry On script. Carry On Blushing would be a good title... for the police force in this case. It would seem that the accusation is now down from prostitution to "performing immoral acts in public". The proof? Tight shorts (tighter than those of a gymnast), scanty dressing and dancing while scantily dressed. From the witness stand: "The fact that they were dancing means that were participating in immoral acts because of the way they were dressed." Tali-who? Or this one... "Our orders were to arrest anyone wearing a thong because that is immoral." have to remind Melanie about this one... next time we are in Malta I must go to the monti for those pancieri... I have no time for this tomfoolery. Ajjut! will surely be onto this one. As will Daphne... and of course I cannot wait for Lorna's take on the matter.

For all you song lovers out there... Sisqo's Thong Song followed by Jimmy Fallon's Spoof (please don't work that Thong!):


Sisqo Thong Song
This thing right here
Is lettin all the ladies know
What guys talk about
You know
The finer things in life
Hahaha
Check it out
Ooh dat dress so scandalous
And ya know another nigga couldn't handle it
See ya shakin that thang like who's da ish
With a look in ya eye so devilish
Uh
Ya like to dance at all the hip hop spots
And ya cruise to the crews like connect da dots
Not just urban she likes the pop
Cuz she was livin la vida loca
BRIDGE
She had dumps like a truck truck truck
Thighs like what what what
Baby move your butt butt butt
Uh
I think to sing it again
She had dumps like a truck truck truck
Thighs like what what what
All night long
Let me see that thong
CHORUS
I like it when the beat goes da na da na
Baby make your booty go da na da na
Girl I know you wanna show da na da na
That thong th thong thong thong
I like it when the beat goes da na da na
Baby make your booty go da na da na
Girl I know you wanna show da na da na
That thong th thong thong thong
That girl so scandalous
And I know another nigga couldn't handle it
And she shakin that thang like who's da ish
With a look in her eye so devilish
Uh
She like to dance at all the hip hop spots
And she cruise to the crews like connect da dots
Not just urban she likes the pop
Cuz she was livin la vida loca
BRIDGE
CHORUS (2x)
Whoaaa

Please don't Wear that Thong (Jimmy Fallon)
Ooh! That dress too small on you.
Looks like you put on another pound or two.
So you're shakin' that thing like you're all that
Take a look at yourself cuz' you're all fat
Uh.You like to eat at the ice cream shops
And you cruise to the mall for some dippin' dots
Not too much food cuz' your cheeks will pop
I really hate it when you bend over

Chorus:
She had a big ol' butt, butt, butt
Thighs like a truck, truck, truck
baby hide your gut, gut, gut,
I think I see her again
She had a big ol' butt, butt, butt
Thighs like a truck, truck, truck
like king kong
Please don't wear your thong,

and listen when i say so,
been watchin that booty grow.
show us some self control,
dont wear that thong thong thong.
sorry but i told you so,
been watchin that booty grow,
it showsoff ur belly rolls,
dont wear that thong thong thong

Ooh! Your butt's girgantuine
And u know another brotha' would stand for it
It's like a wreckin' ball
So big and round
If I get too close it might knock me down

Uh
It's hard to find a vacation spot
with a cruise you could lose cuz
the girl ain't hot
She' on the beach
And she should be stopped
Cuz' she was tryin' to tan all over

She had a big ol' butt, butt, butt
Thighs like a truck, truck, truck
baby hide your gut, gut, gut,
I think I see her again
She had a big ol' butt, butt, butt
Thighs like a truck, truck, truck
like king kong

Please don't wear your thong,
and listen when i say so,
been watchin that booty grow.
show us some self control,
dont wear that thong thong thong.

sorry but i told you so,
been watchin that booty grow,
it showsoff ur belly rolls,
dont wear that thong thong thong

The Other Bloggers

The self-centred presumptiousness of us bloggers often leads us to announce the (relative) death of the blogosphere whenever a dearth of posts afflicts the blogroll on our newsreader. J'accuse is (probably first) among these culprits of navel-gazing assessments and has often neglected the wider picture. A little stroll from blogroll to blogroll has revealed what should have been evident ages ago - while it is true that some blogs in our corner of the blogosphere do go through a moratorial period or a desolatory slump, there are others out there who go on blogging from day to day. It is impossible to list them all... human limits allows us only to update a blogroll from time to time.

The J'accuse list of clicks has long abandoned the encyclopaedic style of listing and the policy has recently switched to including those blogs that are regularly updated or perused. Still, I am sure that not many care about being included in this premium spot of blog space - the J'accuse blogroll - since, by Technorati standards J'accuse floats desultorily in the 200,000th rankings - a statistic that plants our conflated expectations back firmly to the ground.

So. Back to the new or the newly found. After a trawl of a few blogs I decided to point out six blogs that caught my eye. Two have been known to me before and had sadly slipped out of my sight only to bounce back gracefully. The list is of course subjective but still (for my tastes) enjoyable.

Trashcan
http://treshcan.blogspot.com - supersexy (her words, but the photo seems to confirm) XTINE is a reader of Holt and Eco. A personal kind of blog but I did find the language interesting enough to keep me reading.

intellectual debris
http://intellectualdebris.blogspot.com - interesting rantings of Zurrieqi Dejvid. Just got into Uni - once again I like his style and the humour... potentially worth tracking.

hsejjes innocenti
http://nadyahansen.blogspot.com - Yeah I know. We knew of this one before. Love the revamped look (how long has it been since I last visited?). Cool blog from a cool veteran... but please more info in the profile!

zetetiq
http://zetetiq.blogspot.com - Another "oldie" refound. Eclectically interesting - read anything from Spinoza, God, Condoms and conversations with people knocking on her door. I loved her TGIL style analysis of a KSU mailshot to students (Nov 22).

maltamalta
http://maltamalta.blog.com - If you want to know what kept me reading this blog just read his latest post called Supermarket. This is a blog by a peruvian living in Malta. Kinnie & Twistess but in reverse. I also found his perspective on Malta much more interesting than the usual paternalising stereotypical summaries we get of Calypso, holes in streets and all that. Thumbs up for Peru!

songs of innocence & experience
http://allaboutg.blogspot.com - She's in Frankfurt right now. I must admit that this kind of Blog name normally puts me off. The content - a very personal diary - is also not my favourite. Without wanting to sound negative I think I would want to add G back onto my list simply for her perseverance on the blogosphere. I am sure that there are many others who can compensate for the lack of appreciation that people like myself seem to have for this kind of blog. Way to go G!

malta9thermidor
http://malta9thermidor.blogspot.com - Ok. I'm kidding. How can you not have good old Fausto on your blogroll? I've just been told off by Majjistral because apparently I have not criticised Harry half as many times as he has criticised Tonio. tut tut. Frankl(in)y I do not see the point.

There. This was my little round of newly discovered and rediscovered blogs (with a bit of Majjistral thrown in for spice) . There is no doubt that the assessment is only my own from my own navel's point of view. Up to you to decide if it's worth it!

mardi, décembre 12, 2006

The Blogging Other

While the average number of daily visitors to J'Accuse is repristinated to around 200 (after the lull caused by the long absence), the other blogs still totter along with their average of 30 or so. So be it. I just thought that you might like to know what is going on elsewhere on my part of the blogosphere. Consider it a little advertorial for the less followed, but by no means less dear, of the set:

***

Kinnie & Twistees
The project is still moving on at full blast and has by now garnered a list of quiet admirers who prefer to comment on personal email rather than use the comment section. The original idea remains the contrast between life abroad and in Malta. I am still toying with a resurrection of the Sibtijiet Flimkien series that had already appeared in J'accuse. The standard postings commenting on life abroad and reminscing about Maltese parallels are regularly punctuated with installments from miniseries. First and foremost is the Folklor Urban ghas-Seklu 21 - a creative project that has no particular direction but is slowly taking shape. Join Momu on his adventures in the Maltese reality. A new series has been started today. Short translations from the Adventures of Nasr Eddin Hodja - a character from muslim tales... should be good fun.

A few links:

Folklor Urban ghas-Seklu XXI
I. Karawett

II. Kafé

Interludju

III. Kuluri

Stejjer ta' Nasr Eddin
I. L-Ghonja u l-Foqra

***
Il Bollettino della Sgi*a
Gakbu writes in to tell me that the dearth of stories over the last few months was mainly a metaphysical pause for reflection and recollection. In truth the main reason is that Bollettino fell far down on the last of Blogging and writing priorities ... much to the chagrin of some faithful readers. Some recent entires like L-Idjota and S.I.B point to a stuttering revival. Gakbu confirms that the Bollettino will try to maintain at least a once monthly appearance. Patience.

DDG:
Mhusc ghasc niecsa minn taghna l-chitba
Tahsbu li hi spariscsciet
Inchella dlonc tincabdu fil-gidba
U hemm tinfneu b'haphna inchuiet

***
Espresso.com.mt
Of course, Espresso is not a blog. It is an online paper. A J'accuse column appears weekly on the paper (Tuesdays) though this should not stop you from checking out the articles that are added daily to the budding e-paper.

***
Postform
Patrick (aka Pecklectrick - never got this right) constantly complains that the Lamppost campaign died out. Fausto makes a meal out of the fact that Postform fizzled out. The first lost its momentum with the relative calm coming from the forces that inspired its conception (Imperium et al). The second is unfortunately true. Postform the blog did not reach a steady level of contributions. We will have to archive it for now although we will not shun any possibility of a revival.

***
The Laughing Fit
This still remains the hobby away from the hobby. Every now and then I receive that attachment or read that story that is so funny to be shared. Rather than spam it around I just post it on the blog dedicated to humour. It's free, it takes up no space... so no harm done!

***

That's all folks... and yes... should you have any feedback regarding format, content or development of the blogs in question do not hesitate to drop me a line on jacques dot zammit at gmail dot com.

lundi, décembre 11, 2006

Mumble Mumble Mintoff Mumble

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Sometimes I wonder whether it is just my very personal fixation. Am I the only one to be bothered by the numerous PN contributions to the press reminding us of Mintoff, the MLP and the halcyon Macina days? Am I the only one to be particularly miffed at this paternalistic attititude by the people who should be more preoccupied by the problem of today's governance? The Americans have a new term: "bandwidth". Not the usual bandwidth we are used to. It is being applied to government and administration - to question whether an administration has suffient "bandwidth" to deal with the issues before it.

Whenever I see articles like Victor Scerri's in yesterday's Times I really begin to wonder. Incidentally VS is President of the PN clan - and he is basically writing to tell us why we should vote Gonzi and not Freddie. Here are some juicy, appetizing snippets of what has become run-of-the mill issue from the PN trash machine....

***
The 'perverse' election result of 25 years ago.
[Or why I am pervertedly fixated with the past and still cannot think up something new 25 years later - incidentally why is perverse in quotes?]

It is often said that history, being written by the victors, is a highly subjective recording of events as seen through the eyes of the writers. Being a Victor myself [But please note that the history has constantly been written and re-written and re-reminded by the losing side in this case - which is why we need the Victor pun] , I have taken it upon myself [ two myselfs - one sentence - god, lornism is contagious] to record what I remember from the days, when as a 16-year-old student, the political developments were unfolding which grasped my full attention [The lessons I was missing which let slip my shaky grammar] and sucked me into the world of politics [sucked?] , convincing me of the adage that for evil to triumph, all that is needed is for good men to do nothing. [Or for fixated men to write like this]

(...)

The election result of 1981 was the fruit of ten years of rule [He does not stop referring to a government elected democratically for ten years between 1971 to 1981 as some Junta that had taken the reigns of power from Borg Olivier with the use of guns] that should have been the bottom of the barrel, as far as democratic practices are concerned, but we were in for a nasty surprise. The five years and five months that followed dragged up the worst that any undemocratic regime could offer [Now. I might agree that 1981 to 1987 were not the brightest years in our history... in fact forget Might , I DO agree... but between that and "the worst any undemocratic regime could offer"... lie a couple of Kims, Saddam Husseins, Robert Mugabes and Augusto Pinochets to name a few] . This dark period of Maltese history, during which I progressed from the age of 16 to 21 [progressed from 16 to 21?] , saw people arrested for broadcasting, protesting against water cuts and for owning a cordless phone that allowed one to make a conversation from the sitting room instead of the kitchen! This was then considered to be a subversive tool to bring down governments. [I like this one. Had forgotten the good old "The Manic Dictator has no right to steal my Cordless" fundamental right].

(...)

The change did come, when on May 9, 1987, the election swept the Labour Party out of power, and the forward-looking [the irony of it all] Nationalist Party in. Twenty-five years later [He means 19], we have an infrastructure to be proud of, a vibrant and growing economy and we are proud members of the European Union. One final comment. One might ask what is the relevance of those days now? [No. We have actually given up asking Victor].The relevance lies in condemning those corrupt practices and the style, or lack of it, of government of the time [And who doesn't? And what happens when we do? Do we win a set of back issues of "In-Taghna"?.] We would do well to keep these facts firmly in mind, lest we ever forget which party is trying to win power again. [Lest we forget? Hmm. I know which party is trying to win power again. Actually, I can name two off the cuff... and yours is one of them!]

***

On a more serious notes. Before any Nationalist lackey decides that I am in any way supportive of the negative, dark, Darth Vader side of the Mintoffian era, particularly between 1981 and 1987... let me say that I am not. I too was active in the early days of the Nationalist revival. I too was an MZPN member - sitting on the same National Executive as our friend Vitor here. The difference between myself and Victor, David and other like minded churners of the Nationalist trash-spin is that I have moved on... and still expect the best for my country.

There is no denying, from my comfortably objective non-voter (!!!) point of view that Alfred Sant's incongruous band of spinners is no good alternative for the nation (quote this one too Aaron). People like myself look for vision when deciding who to vote for. I can see none in either of the MLPN. I am not sure I see a strong, concrete one in AD yet either. If I had the right to vote I would vote AD as a message for change.

There are many ways ofdoing so. There is the half-hearted way (for the ones who keep the party flag stashed in the drawer) : you can choose one of the unelectable dorks who the parties decide to pressure into running for election as your first choice (and thus giving your coveted number one to the party) and then give your number two to an AD guy. If there are sufficient dorks to split this kind of vote and sufficient AD number twos you will have an AD MP before you can say "alfossa".

For the more courageous among you, nothing beats the good old number one for AD. In any case Victor... my point is that we have had it up till here hearing about the heroics involved in watching people get arrested. We would like to know what you have done to continue the dream we shared in 1992. The dream of a better Malta. Of Solidarity always and everywhere. Of the Change that Continues.

Why don't you start by explaining why your government has done nothing to change the anomaly that disqualifies hundreds of people in Brussels and Luxembourg from voting come next election? Then maybe you can start lecturing me and others about undemocratic regimes.

Ta ta!

dimanche, décembre 10, 2006

Grazie Lazio!

We may not be in Serie A... but there are still ways to get extreme delight out of a match. Ledesma, Oddo, Mutarelli... sounded like music to my ears as I logged on to check the results of the two Sunday Derbies. The London one turned out to be a drab affair... but the Lazio debacle... ah...

Lille was great. Much to report about - and will do so as soon as I get some deserved rest from the holiday.

Incidentally. If you really do not know what happened in Lazio... then you should be informed that the wunder Rigetta lost by three goals to nil against arch-rivals Lazio. As far as real matches go, Juventus beat Verona to go top of Serie B.

vendredi, décembre 08, 2006

Weekend Break

This is your usual management note informing you that J'accuse will not be updated over the weekend. I am off to Lille for the weekend. Shopping and Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance beckon. Could someone water the plants while I am gone?

Meanwhile, spare a thought for those indian men... goodness gracious me!

jeudi, décembre 07, 2006

The Legendary (TGIL)

Thank you for sending me a copy of your book. I'll waste no time reading it. -
Moses Hadas

Lorna's column oon today's Times is devoted to an auto-crit of her first publication that is apparently entitled "Il-Ktejjeb tal-Hrejjef" (wrongly translated by the dame to "The Booklet of Legends" instead of what would have been a more appropriate "The Booklet of Tales"). Having probably given up hope that any book critic would one day review her collection of tales, the Dame embarks on a profound analysis of the purpose of the book, the message and the subtleties involved. The reason she gives for this self-indulgence is that some of those who purchased her booklet are "getting back to me with their comments". We are of course gifted with an early Christmas present. So here for you all is another confabulatory discombobulation of the first order by the Dame of the Gramatically Incorrect.

*****

Cultural Learnings of Booklet of Legends for
Make Benefit of Glorious Readers of the Trash Corner

Through My Eyes [The Inevitable First Person Returns to Haunt Us]

Some of those who had purchased my first publication Il-Ktejjeb tal-Hrejjef (The Booklet of Legends) are getting back to me with their comments [It's a miracle that they are not getting at her with blunt, heavy instruments]. This is the reason why I decided to reply to all at one go through this article. [And not because no one else seems to be talking about the little booklet of Legends/tales].

It seems as if there was actually some space for political satire in the Maltese market. [Sandwiched between the stand of the fake cds and the one selling pancieri for that oversized backside - Thank God She Noticed]. The same applies to all the caricatures that accompany the tale [So it is a tale - erm "the same applies" does not really fit here], credit going to young artist Mark Scicluna, exclusively inspired [Exclusively inspired? As in without any competition?] by the most recent political history of our Republic [The Most Recent, today the synonym / antonym book is not quite doing its job when looking for superlatives].

Why go some 400 years back? [Why Indeed?]

Temporal detachment leads to emotional detachment. [Of course. All roads lead to Rome and the Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions and Leeds United (sorry for the childish pun)]. Today's people speak impartially of yesterday's generations [I love to speak impartially about my Granny, God rest her soul], no matter how heinous, immorally unacceptable or detrimental [Detri-fuckin-mental?] their actions were [Nasty granny in her panciera heinously snogging grandpa under the fig tree on a summer's eve]. This brings about rational judgement [No it doesn't. You've already lost us. Don't give me this talk about rational judgement] usually supported by proof that is put together "only too late" [Ok. Now we are really on a different planet. What proof? Is it heinous?] and substantiated with knowledge only afforded by "hindsight" [Hindsight affords knowledge. How rich is hindsight?]. We, as subjective observers of our times [You as the most confusing writer in the history of English as it is bamboozled], are naturally hindered from such objectivity [That there is some kind of natural hindrance comes as no surprise] and shrouded in a thick [Hmm. Thick. Just the adjective I had in my mind] sense of denial of truth itself. [Right. Now read this paragraph again ignoring my comments. Does it make sense? Do you feel a sense of denial creeping on your brain?]

Therefore the détachement in time in Il-Ktejjeb tal-Hrejjef is done on purpose [Q.E.D. note the subtle accent on the "e" in détachement - le touch Francais de la Dame]. The more painful it is the better [In the case of her painful grasp of logical sentence construction, this must be magnificent]. The more unfit the adaptations of today's events to yesteryear's scenario the better [So basically if I get it.. .you write an anachronistic set of legends and then justify the ill-fitting result by grasping onto some possible shocking effect on the reader... wasn't your writing enough? Potevamo stupirvi con effetti speciali... invece scrive Lorna]. The more the presumptuous reader [ Yeah baby... tell them... presumptious bastards] denies it, the more the author confirms the above-mentioned sense of denial [She cannot lose can she? It's the Emperor's New Clothes all over... only its the Pemrepors Ewn Tholces and they're King Size Lorna Mould].

In Il-Ktejjeb tal-Hrejjef my/our story is made "his story" also known as "history". [ A prize of Lm100,000 to anyone who can decipher this sentence probably written in the code of Labourite Freemasons and Michael Jackosn]. The overwhelming sense of denial of nations en masse still occurs today [Do I sniff the scent of Alienation here? Matthew Dimech where are you when we need you?]. For those who may have wondered how nations live through times of misery, they ought to know that usually one is likely to find a people divided in two [mostly schizo's]: The critics, rebels or adversaries (most of the time ignored for a long time until proven right [Guess under which category TGIL falls?]) and the unconditional political/religious devotees [For those who are still having trouble of picturing this scenario just look at Malta under Mintoff].

Soon, we'll realise that we are like our forefathers. Like them, sometimes we've acted foolishly. They must have believed in witches and broomsticks; we believe in virtuosity and virgin politicians. [No. I believe in a good rest, good food and plenty of humour.. and I couldn't give two hoots if Alfred Sant is a virgin or not]. However, we could say that their means were limited [Whose means?]. At least, their means of communications were definitely much more limited [I guess it is the forefathers then]. However, that comes as no consolation. Rather, it may show we are the more pitiful as, with more means of communications and ways of verifying truth, we fall into the same trap of deceit [Yes. It is alienation. We let ourselves be decieved!]. In fact, the book attempts to build up somewhat of a "the emperor's new clothes" [See! I told you!] scenario where the more intelligent you are, the more you can understand it. The prouder you are, the more hindered you are from reading into it. That, at least, should put stupidity and pride on the same level. [A bit like what Lorna does every other week. - Incidentally she is building a defence from criticism... if you do not like the book then you are stupid and proud. If you like it then you are Lorna.]

Some commented on me being biased [In the words of the poet: It wasn't me]. Of course I am. At least I don't try to look that I'm not [to look that I'm not? Loverly]! I never purported to be what I'm not. I'm just amazed at their amazement at discovering the bias [And we are amazed that there was someone to be sufficiently amazed to make you amazed]. Don't they know everybody is? [Erm. I'll skip this one]

And as to leeway for interpretation, well, interpretation yes and how [I love this one. Yes and how?]. That's what it was all meant to be about. [The meaning of Life and all] I hope the debate and discussions the book triggers take much longer than the time one takes to read the book itself. [She would probably be better off hoping that any debate is triggered in the first place] The fact that some of the people who approached me on the subject either spoke about it at length or went on to speak about current politics [As in avoided the subject?] is satisfactory enough and shows that the primary goal has already been reached.

Is it real or fictitious? [Is it a bird, is it a plane?]

Some people also asked whether all characters were meant to represent real characters or if some were fictitious. Well, the female characters are the only totally fictitious ones. Unfortunately, we have no influential matriarchs involved in politics and were it not for the two fictitious females introduced at the last minute before publication, the book would have been too sexually biased. [Way to go. Give us a matriarch or two otherwise Hsejjes would be disappointed!]

All the male characters, on the other hand, are inspired by a real, current key player in the Maltese political scenario. The characteristics of the character [ehe], the relationship with the other characters and the narration should readily reveal to the knowledgeable reader and current affairs enthusiast the identity of the politician "the way I see him", that is, "through my eyes". [Let me see. There must definitely be a superhero who is the messiah, the saviour and the toupeed musketeer all in one. And his name will be some kind of anagram for A L F R E D.]

Criticism is one of the aims.

One cheeky [I want to be cheeky too!] person who commented on the book asked if I'd mind too much criticism. I don't really know why he sincerely thought this would put me down [Duh! He should have known better]. But, out of mere respect, my answer was that "criticism is one of the aims" [The Oracle at Delphi is known to have emitted less vague pronouncements]. If I didn't expect any criticism, I wouldn't have invested in the book at all.

However, first and foremost, the first aim is political education through satire. On the book I mention an author's name. And that is Francois Rabelais [Here begins the usual name-dropping witnessed last time with Vinaver].

Those who've read some of his lines [ Like for example from a book fo quotes] would know what education through ridicule of the political élite means. [This is offensive. Why read Rabelais when you could log on to J'Accuse daily?] The unconditional acceptance of the allegedly corrupt political behaviour of our times will be tested at the next general election [By being given a choice between the allegedly corrupt and the potentially equally corrupt]. That will be a national thermometer that will gauge a hotchpotch [I prefer the HODGEPODGE spelling] of excessive tolerance [She means tolerating the intolerable], a sense of denial and unconditional partisanship on the one side and unshackled political thinking on the other [Being a nashinalist is being unconditionally partisan, being a lejberist is being an unshackled political thinker].

People grumble for reform but, to quote Francois Rabelais himself, applying it to political change "I have known many who could not when they would, for they had not done it when they could".

[And to quote J'accuse: "We have read one who could not when she would, for she had done disastrously when she did"].
Evil Scotsman (Parental Advisory)

Dedicated to Neebother and his musical interludes.

mercredi, décembre 06, 2006

Azul (muzajk iehor)

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While we are still waiting patiently for Antoine Cassar's return to the blogosphere with the follow up to Maqluba, J'accuse is glad to host his latest muzajk - a multilingual poetic creation. We share the emotion that is expressed in this one - the saudade, or longing for that blue, blue sea that is far away. So here it is... entitled "Azul"

Azul

Azul, te quiero azul, azul como la mar
tal-Qrendi. Vieni, scendi, porte-moi sur les ondes,
entre acianos marinos, lejl u nhar, near and far,
take me down, let me drown, sa għerq iż-żerq tal-fond...

Blanc et noir? J'en ai marre! Ô qu'on me laisse choir!
Azul. Not grey, nor blond, no soggy northern pond,
saphir, kaħlani nir, tout être, ne rien avoir,
in quel regno di quiete my subprimordial bond.

Azul, azul del sur, blu dipinto di blu,
la mer, cette grande lumière, toi la vague, moi l'île nue…

O to be who I was, who I was to be me!
O for my wretched soul to dissolve into the sea!

Familja, meta mmut, la tixtħunix fit-tebut:
remmduni, u xerrduni fil-baħar ta' Ħaġar Qim.



Luxembourg, 1 December 2006


Blue

Blue, I want you blue, blue like the sea / of Qrendi. Come, descend, take me on the waves, / among marine cornflowers, night and day, near and far, / take me down, let me drown, to the root of the blue of the deep…

White and black? I've had enough! O may one let me fall! / Blue. Not grey, nor blond, no soggy northern pond, / sapphire, indigo blue, to be all, to have nothing, / in that realm of silence my subprimordial bond.

Blue, blue of the south, blue painted blue, / the sea, that great light, you the wave, I the naked isle...

O to be who I was, who I was to be me! / O for my wretched soul to dissolve into the sea!

Family, when I die, throw me not into the coffin: / make me ash, and scatter me in the sea of Ħaġar Qim.

Leaks

BBCN News covers this leak first obtained by ABC News:

The Iraq Study Group, a US cross-party body charged with reviewing policy on Iraq, is due to issue its long-awaited report. Below are key quotes from the report's executive summary, as seen by US broadcaster ABC.

Useful? Dunno. But much more interesting than the faffle provided by the MLPN media.

V is for Victory

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A reluctant Scipio Africanus before the destruction of Carthage

So tell me again. How do you win a war? Scipio Africanus had it easy. His idea of winning the war was razing Carthage to the ground and spreading salt over its fields so nothing could grow again. Before he got the pleasure of doing this, a certain Senator named Cato used to end all his speeches with the phrase "Ceterum censeo Cartaginem esse delendam" ("I also think that Carthage must be destroyed") after a visit of his to Carthage (see Axis of Evil).

When the Romans, bidding to rid themselves once and for all of the Carthaginian threat, required a casus belli (excuse for war – see WMDs) they created near-impossible demands for the Carthaginians – such as that Carthage be destroyed and re-assembled away from the sea. Probably the senate had had enough of hearing Cato call for Carthaginian destruction after every speech (see Bushisms). (Can you imagine – I support the increase of tax to five sestertii, and by the way I think Carthage must be destroyed).

So yes, they made abominable requests that would be unacceptable to the jolly band of Carthaginians (see valorous Maghrebins). So it meant war. War meant three years of siege of the city and in the final months ended up in street warfare for complete control. Here is Scipio Africanus' victorious To Do List:

1. Sack City
2. Burn & Destroy City
3. Enslave all Carthaginians
4. Sow salt in ground.

Clear no? I mean, it did take them three years but they knew where they stood at the end of it (149 BC).

Let us all then thank God for Bob Gates – the incumbent Defence Secretary – who seems to be quite certain that the US is not winning the war. Today we (and Bush) should be hearing from the Independent Report ( Cross-Party, Iraq Study Group) on the War in Iraq. For the sake of future history books let us hope that we have a clear answer on who is winning.
So far as we can see there are only losers out there… many.


Scipio looked over the city which had flourished for over seven hundred years since its foundation, which had ruled over such extensive territories, islands,and seas, and been as rich in arms, fleets, elephants, and money as the greatest empires, but which had surpassed them in daring and high courage, since though deprived of all its arms and ships it had yet withstood a great siege and famine for three years, and was now coming to an end in total destruction; and he is said to have wept and openly lamented the fate of his enemy. After meditating a long time on the fact that not only individuals but cities, nations, and empires must all inevitably come to an end, and on fate of Troy, that once glorious city, on the fall of the Assyrian, Median, and Persian empires, and on the more recent destruction of the brilliant empire of the Macedonians, deliberately or subconsciously he quoted the words of Hector from Homer--'The day shall come when sacred Troy shall fall, and King Priam and all his warrior people with him.' And when Polybius, who was with him, asked him what he meant, he turned and took him by the hand, saying: 'This is a glorious moment, Polybius; and yet I am seized with fear and foreboding that some day the same fate will befall my own country.


Post Scriptum: After writing this post I came across this excellent article by former world chess champion Gary Kasparov. Ceterum censeo Cartaginem esse delendam.

The Alien Nation


This article (Forget Alienation - maltastar links always end up in main page) in Maltastar is deeply disturbing. I must confess that I do not know who Matthew Dimech is, but after reading this paragraph:

If we conceive that the ‘triumphs’ of neo-liberalism derive from a deconstruction of the divisions between what is authentic and inauthentic, then it should be comfortable to take on the proposition that the fruits of deconstructing authenticity have been to render critical political thought obsolete in a society of simulation, where images constitute reality instead of representing it.
… I am not sure I want to. Not because I agree or disagree with the content of course. No. The reason I would be scared to meet Mr Dimech is simply that I cannot conceive of anyone who could sit down at his pc and decide that such GIGO would be remotely interesting to any reader. Half the article he writes is taken up by quotes from Baudrillard and Boltanski. The words in the article include "simulacrum", "creditable" (wrongly used), "conceptualised alienation", "legitimizing unlimited accumulation", "dominance of the spectacle", and of course the whole paragraph that I have reproduced.

J'accuse identifies in this meisterwork a typical example of the "Stunning Method" that is quite a common appearance among the Maltese media. The pioneers of the style include Lorna V and Desmond ZM… they will stun you with verbose crap and long-winded sentences until you have absolutely no idea what they are on about. Like the python they hope to crush you with their sentences before going for the kill.

Dimech has added a twist of his own and adopts the technical languages of what sounds and smells like proto-commie linguistics (see? I can do it too) to tell us something that (maybe) points to disappearance of alienation in favour of transparency. The problem is that after reading the three paragraphs of his comment I feel more alienated than ever.

mardi, décembre 05, 2006

Leaky Politics

Leaks have an important part to play in politics. A good politician knows how to place a well-timed leak to boost his position. Fans of the Yes Minister! series will definitely understand what I am talking about. Sometimes a leak is a form of telling the public some good news in advance. Like a probable cut in taxes. Sometimes someone leaks information about another party's possible sinister plans. This too can be productive in a way - forcing the hand of the other party to deny the plans and possibly abandon them.

But when the leak itself becomes the story then there is no story. It is just pique. What value can be ascribed to the fact that the nationalist press has access to the agenda for the next Labour meeting have to the general public? That the two parties are still engaged in dirty handed games? What else? I'm sorry, I may be naive but I just don't get it.

Now, when Britney Spears' ex-husband threatens to leak sordid details about their private life.... that's another story.

To see more about the political leaks click here.

lundi, décembre 04, 2006

Non Sequitur #65

Golden Jubilee

In March 2007 two 50 year commemorations will take place. Both will be celebrated albeit by two very different sets of peoples. The first is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome - the EU turns 50. This will take place on the 25th of March. Fifteen days before, on the 10th, the notorious O.B.L. will also turn fifty. Osama Bin Laden, the world's most wanted man turns fifty that day.

On a minor note, 10th March also happens to be (rather coincidentally) J'accuse's birthday.

Hype, Habit and Breasts

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Meanwhile, the rest of the world - people who may be hearing the words
"blog", "wiki" and "podcast" for the first time - will begin to use these new media as they become simple and ubiquitous, just as e-mail became truly simple and ubiquitous when Hotmail made it so in 1997. Slowly but surely, these technologically unpretentious people will spend less time vegetating in front of the box and instead become their own television and radio programmers, listening to and watching their chosen entertainment on their iPods and other screens as they please. They will gradually lose interest inthe mass media and defect to "personal" media.

- Andreas Kluth, When the hype dies down
- The World in 2007, Economist Publication

The New Year is round the corner. Soon your favourite publication will be thrilling you with lists of highlights of the past year and even more lists about what to expect from the next. The Economist's annual "The World in..." publication has been a regular purchase of mine since around 1996. It is a highly recommendable assessment of current trends and political and social developments that includes "prophetic" projections of what to expect from the year ahead.

This year's edition includes interesting arguments about the authority vacuum in the world, the ever-increasing importance of the climate change question and the temporary crisis of democracy. The above quote is from one of the articles that deals with the development of the web phenomenon. It should come as no surprise to regular J'Accuse readers that I am in agreement with the general gist of the writer. J'accuse would add that the defection away from the mass media in Malta will be much more gradual than elsewhere notwithstanding the efforts of such projects as espresso. As we have already said... old habits die hard.

***

Speaking of habit, J'accuse notes the appointment of the new archbishop. Unlike most others we do not have much to say about this event. Unfortunately it means one less Gozitan at the helm of a leading institution on the islands. Gone are the days when being a big-head required a bit of Gozitan DNA. On a more serious note, we were more interested in Cardinal Hummes of Sao Paolo and his declarations regarding celibacy. The Brasilian Cardinal returned from the Vatican discussions and immediately proclaimed to his flock that celibacy is not a dogma, that it is more like a form of discipline imposed by the church. He reminded everyone that some of Jesus' closest associates were married (like Andrew and Peter). We like the way this guy thinks...

***

Victor Galea, Secretary General of the Green Party, was one of the first to congratulate Fr Paul on his appointment as Archbishop. J'accuse has often commented on this weird habit in Maltese politics. A bit like the Local Council of Bubaqra announcing its position on abortion. Or the Curia commenting on the election of a party leader. What is the point? true, the church is a social participant with its own role in society. But why should it be so important for AD or any other party to publicly congratulate the new prelate (is he a prelate?)? A private letter would have done no? My guess is that AD are trying to shed off the green commie anti-church image that was cast on them from the PN quarters - read the abortion issue pre-EU elections. If so this is a rather naff way of going about it. Anyways, at least now I know the name of the Sec-Gen of the Greens.

***

And now for the picture.

It would seem that Malta has not yet ratified the Maternity Convention. Shame. Especially after all those Breast is Best posters.

Please note that I refrained from low jokes about bunches of tits being able to pass such a law without any trouble.



dimanche, décembre 03, 2006

When the wind turns

"Noi aiutati? Mai, anzi.... Sono tutte dicerie di qualche invidioso perchè stiamo dando fastidio a qualche altra squadra. Noi cerchiamo di lottare sul campo e vincere con nostri mezzi, senza aiuti. Secondo me gli arbitri si stanno comportando abbastanza bene".

Parola di uomo vero. It seems that what's good for the goose is not good for the gander. Checca Totti seems to be convinced that the refereeing that, among other things, gave Rigetta two penalties to overturn a 1-0 deficit versus Atalanta is just good refereeing. This from the team that thrived on conspiracy theories and loves to act as the martyr when things are going wrong. Ah well... what goes around will come around.

PS. I also think that a player who decides to turn his back on the national team should be banned from the team for life... whether he is a Brasilian superstar, Pavel Nedved or someone who only dreams of winning the Golden Ball.

samedi, décembre 02, 2006

Stir It Up

What's brewing in the paper. Statements from today's Times.
Floriana is just Valletta's suburb, nothing more. (local?)

Where are the champions of Maltese language? (abroad?)

It's very positive that new airlines are showing an interest in starting the service as this means there is a wider mix. (Flight of fancy?)

Last moth was one of the sunniest Novembers in the last 80 years. (why move to Luxembourg?)

Lawyer's role is no joking matter. (who's laughing?)

It is to be hoped that the political parties, now that election season is over the horizon, will not fall victim to the temptation to pander to the whims of the hunting lobby. (wishful thinking?)

***

Suave molecules of Mocha stir up your blood, without causing excess heat; the organ of thought receives from it a feeling of sympathy; work becomes easier and you will sit down without distress to your principal repast which will restore your body and afford you a calm, delicious night. (Prince Talleyrand)

vendredi, décembre 01, 2006

Non Sequitur #64

Folding Paper

It's not a scientific rule, it's more "accepted wisdom". You cannot keep folding a piece of paper in half for more than (insert number between seven and ten) times. The most common claim is seven times. It would seem that some American student solved this problem of "common knowledge" and has succeeded in folding a paper for 12 times. To do it, she needed 1.2 km of bog paper. Which proves that given enough time on a toilet, provided that there is a sufficient amount of toilet paper and patience... anything can be solved.

Other's prefer to quote Spanish poet Juan Ramon Jimenez as an example of pereseverance against all odds: "If they give you ruled paper, then write the other way".

The Ideal Salary

Here's one for ajjut! The Office series. It's a suggestion for your next job interview. If you are being interviewed and the potential employer decides to ask you that corny questin: "How much would you expect to earn?" do not look confused and uncomfortable. Instead adopt your best charitable look that says "I'm here to learn and do not need much money" and then suggest the following salary agreement to your employer.

On the first day you will receive 1 cent. On the next day this will double to 2 cents. The doubling will only go on for 30 days and then it will stop and you will be paid a monthly rate fixed at the value reached on the 30th day. Nothing much no? A few cents out of the employers pocket and everybody's happy.

Right.

Now take some time to actually work it out. Whether it's Euro Cents, Maltese Cents or American Cents makes little difference. I am sure you would agree with me that you have struck the right deal. All you need to do is find a potential employer who is gullible enough to sign up to the contract.

jeudi, novembre 30, 2006

Postcard from Lux

Dear All,

Got a visit from my brother.
Busy shopping and generally enjoying myself.
Back as soon as I can.
Wish you were here.

Jacques Ooze

P.S. Don't forget to check espresso every now and then.

mercredi, novembre 29, 2006

The PET Nostradamus

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P.E.T is a "special" kind of plastic. It is meant to be environment-friendly. When the industry calls something like PET environment-friendly you should most probably consider it a euphemism. In this case calling it environment-friendly is equivalent to calling the "lethal injection" (as against the electric chair) humane. In Malta we already have products that are packaged in PET - water bottles. Your average San Michel and Elan bottle is produced in PET. Until now we have been spared the plastic Coke, Pepsi and whatsnot bottles.

The reason why you cannot buy your 2 litre plastic bottle of Coke from Hamrun yet is a Legal Notice issued by our Government in 1998 (L.N. 158 of 1998). It might seem to be a very environment-friendly law by an environment-conscious governments. It prohibits the sale of soft drinks in anything but reusable glass. Some of you might remember Spark Cola that was marketed in plastic (not even PET) around the year 2000. Its importers/producers tried to argue that it did not fall under the LN because it was an energy drink. Why was it an energy drink? Because it contained sugar. You can guess that they did not win the argument.

But back to the Legal Notice. The real reason for its existence is the protection of local soft drink producers. You see, the seemingly environment-friendly law masks a protectionist measure in favour of Messrs Farsons and Coca-Cola. By outlawing PET bottles government effectively outlawed parallel importation of crates of Coke from Sicily. What we have is a measure with positive environmental effects but with purely economic intentions.

Now, I am completely in favour of keeping PET out of the country. I would love to see LN 158 of 1998 to live long and prosper. I personally do not care about the original underlying protective intentions. In my mind I see Malta avoiding a mountain of plastic waste (PET just takes less long to vanish) by keeping PET out. Unfortunately PET bottles are one of the negative reasons for joining the European Union. The imperatives of the common market dictate that regulating packaging to the detriment of potential importation is disciminatory and therefore prohibited. Which is why Malta had to negotiate a transition period for Legal Notice 158 to be phased out - and for PET soft drinks to be phased in. Which is why by the end of next year you can buy your Pepsi Max in plastic bottles.

Which is sad. Which is unavoidable. Unfortunately the arguments of environmental harm do not convince the ECJ. Denmark failed to convince the ECJ of the impact that allowing aluminium cans into its market would have on its enviornment while arguing lack of space. Malta's lack of disposal space also failed to hit the right note with the Commission at negotiation stage. So we are phasing PET in.

Simon Busuttil tells us that this transition period is also good for our local industry to prepare to be competitive (read to be able to produce its fair share of PET soft drinks). He tells us that it is calculated that we will be seeing an influx of around 80 million PET bottles annually. So he tells us that we should be getting ready for recycle and reuse. In his words...


So by the time the ban on soft drinks in plastic bottles is lifted in a year's time, we should be implementing a sound waste management strategy to deal effectively with the waste that will come with it. This is crucial if we are to continue promoting environment-friendly methods, such as the refilling of containers, and limiting both glass and plastic from our waste stream. The brutal truth is that, even after we dispose of it, our waste remains ours. And that means we have to foot the bill.

Now I do not know whether to read this as a promise from a Nationalist MEP or a warning from a politician to his party in government. Is Simon being prophetic and telling us what we will definitely have or is he informing the government that in a years time it might have another expensive and dirty problem on its hands?

In French (and it would seem in Italian) the word PET means "fart". A fart is essentially noxious, foul-smelling air emitted at the terminal end of consumption. Weird really. Language can be wonderful sometimes.

mardi, novembre 28, 2006

A Fresh Brew


I am pleased to announce the launching of Espresso a bilingual paper from Malta. The idea behind the paper is to promote alternative ideas and ways of thinking - to give free space to individuals who want to express themselves. In the words of Claire Bonello ("Letting the Bastards Speak"):

I agree with sieving out libellous material and needlessly insulting comments but do local editors have to be so terribly cautious? Even when the end result of their editing are bland, no-interest pseudo opinion pieces? As for not being able to criticise newspaper proprietors and big advertisers, does this mean that the freedom of the press in Malta boils down to the freedom of being able to own your own newspaper? Sadly, that’s the way things are turning out on the home front. If you’re irked by this state of affairs and want to get your message across, send in your contributions and articles to “espresso”. As long as it’s short, sharp and pick-me-up like its coffee namesake, it will be published without over-zealous corrections and the insertion of polite euphemisms. We can afford a little more directness in Malta.
J'accuse will have a weekly column on espresso. The first goes out today - called the alternative media. The word alternative is not casual or coincidental. It is there for a reason. Espresso will also be a vehicle for the thoughts of alternattiva demokratika's exponents. In truth, anyone can write. Anyone can contribute with an article about anything under the sun. The editorial board has promised minimised editing - so long as it is "short, sharp and pick-me-up". So if, like me, you are not a member or affiliate of AD you are still free to contribute your ideas to a paper that hopes to be another contribution to changing the way the nation thinks.

Finally, a nod is due here to Ian Meli who has set up the site notwithstanding all the constraints and limits that he had to cope with. It is still not a finished product but the content and design will evolve as time passes. So get clicking to Espresso... and start typing too!

Meanwhile Gakbu Sfigho has sent in his own advert for the magazine:


IRRICORRU IRRICORRU IRRICORRU
IDHLU GEUUA IS-SIT ESPRESSO.COM.MT PHEIN IL-LIBERTA' TAL-HSIEB U L-ESPRESSIONI HIA MGHOZZA DACS MITCLA DEHEB. CHED ISCOMMU IR-RIHA TA' IDEAT? CHED ISCOMMU L-AROMA TAL-ARTICOLI IRRACMATI BI HSIEB HIELES? MELA SC'IL CANNA CHED TISTENNEU? IDHLU ISSA GO ESPRESSO.COM.MT U ZGUR MA JISGHOBICHOMSC.

espresso.com.mt
bollettin mahsub u mitbugh phuch l-eteru
imtella' minn geuua melita
taiieb ghat tphal u ghal chbar
u int... sc'cafe' thobb tiscrobb?

lundi, novembre 27, 2006

The Return of the Jack

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And I am back. Apologies for the unannounced absence. Thing is I have been sick first and busy later. This, coupled with some social events over the weekend, prevented me from getting anything more than a fleeting glance at what's going on in the blogosphere. You can stop worrying now... j'accuse is healthy, ready to go and as bloghorreic as ever thanks to the pause that was also a tad bit refreshing.

***

Over the weekend I was glad to host Ranier Fsadni over at Rue de Bragance for a drink and a chat. And chat we did. I can say that the experience was a pleasant one and we exchanged a few ideas about the usefulness of blogs for experienced pundits like himself. I failed to convince Ranier to get his own blog going due to a number of reasons that I cannot list here (simply because they would need a blog of their own). On the other hand it is nice to know that our little, disorganised contribution to the world of ideas is being read by the aforementioned pundits. A step forward I would say. (I know I will not be getting a "Hear! Hear" from this particular blogger who has now labelled me a list-watcher). One of the things Ranier seems to dislike is disjointed columns that shift from one topic to another. Like this one today. Sorry Ranier.

***

I draw some inspiration from today's Times news items. A quick ramble is what I shall do. Not of the kind that these people would prohibit with the use of menace and a load of lead pellets. Malta' equivalent of the foxhunt fraternity are threatening to go out en masse once again. Lovely. Now they are being "intimidated" by the police whenever the force decides to verify if they are pursuing their hobby (namur) within the limits of the law. Obviously if it were up to the sharpshooters among them such limits would obviously be non-existent and barbaric cullings of all things volatile will persevere perversely till kingdom come.

The police on the other hand are having a few intimidatory problems of their own, as it turns out in this episode of cowboy show at Hal-Balzan. The orizzont correspondent asks whether lone sherriffs posted in police stations at night time should be armed in case some berserk drunkard like the 24 year old Furjaniz turns up armed with lead pipe and kitchen knife. A good question indeed. Armed police can also overreact as happened in Queens New York last week. Quid Juris? I am not sure which side to lean to.

Interestingly from the political pages we have Alfred Sant shouting that inflation is killing the country just as "No New Taxes" Gonzi announces that new reductions in the surcharge will be forthcoming. Not so surcharge, not so inflationary then. What arms for the citizen for legitmate self-defence in these circumstances I ask?

Spare a thought for the Gozitan farmer and his sad sad story where he ends up getting a ticket for driving his tractor one-way up a Sliema road. Pity that said tractor never leaves the diamond isle and has never ventured beyond the green green grass of Marsalforn. I think I recognise Joseph Micallef though. He's the guy who used to shoo away a much younger J'accuse from his fields of beans in Easter. Still. He deserves better than fines for non-existent contraventions. At least the Gozitan's have the decency to see that you are sitting in their restaurant when they present you with the legendary hefty bill. How would the warden like to receive a bill for a nof tuzzana gbejniet he never sniffed... let alone consumed?

I also read that Smart supermarket is celebrating its 25th Anniversary. Probably the best year for the celebration. So much free publicity and all that... Smartmalta indeed.

Finally in the sports pages I could not be happier about City's wonderful victory over ir-Rahal. Way to go boys!

***

And from the blogosphere, gybexi points us to an interesting song by Brikkuni (he describes them as an underground Maltese band). Expect a special edition of the song to feature in Muzika Mod Iehor where you can distinctly hearToni sipping a glass of wine in the background of the recording as he discovers this new Maltese band. By the way. I should also thank Gybexi for starting to post the video clips of Ahna Ahna Jew M'Ahniex on the net.

***

This has been the return of j'accuse - "bigger, bolder and rougher and tougher"*

*Now where did you hear those lyrics before? (come on, all you rave junkies)

vendredi, novembre 24, 2006

On the Mend

Drug users are just about the only minority in Malta who do not complain on a regular basis and who do not regularly threaten the government of some block boycott come voting day. Someone at Dar Centrali must be thanking heavens for that after the headline in today's Times. Apparently after another damning European Study, the conclusion is that the street price for drugs in Malta is the most expensive in Europe. Which should be a positive thing. Which is why I do not understand the slapping of a title with negative connotations. I would have gone with "Maltese Cannot Afford to Be Junkies".

I am typing in short bursts since I still cannot sit at a screen for more than four minutes. Anyways. I read Lorna's article yesterday. Setting aside the language for a moment, I believe she has yet to come up with a more ridiculous suggestion than this last one. Suspending the elections every time some politician decides to play the name game on the eve of an election? Where does she live? That's all MLPN need. An excuse to call off the game when something seems to be going wrong. Reminds me of the kid who owned the football at school. He would grab the ball and decide that the game is over as soon as his team was losing. "Il-loghba hazina..." Incidentally, a big hello to Adrian Caruana Anastasi if he ever comes across the blog... wonder whether you still have that heavy brown football!

Harry's article today might seem rather heavy and legalistic for the lay reader but trust me, it is just as important as Al Gore's documentary - and it might also have some groundbreaking consequences (Vote Harry, Get Action). I once almost wrote a thesis about the actio popularis, instead I chose to write about the role of the ECJ in creating a European Constitution. Looks like the two ends might be about to meet. As usual my current employment precludes me from further comment.

Michael Carabott, writing in the Indy, reports that the Economist has classified Malta as a "true democracy" - placing itself among the 28 pure democracies in the world and actually ranking above the UK and USA. The true democracy tag owes much to both government and opposition. I wonder if the compilers are aware of the sense of frustration that this "true democracy" provokes among those who feel that they are badly represented by the feeble options that are offered to them come election day.

Finally, I cannot close this haphazardly assembled post without mentioning the sad passing away of one of the greatest French actors of all time. Philippe Noiret has died at the age of 76. He will not just be remembered by his home nation but by all of us. Those among you, who like me, consider themselves amateur film enthusiasts (as in not steeped in cinemtographic knowledge) will surely remember the actor who portrayed Pablo Neruda, the exiled Chilean poet in Il Postino. Others will surely shoot off a long list from among the 115 films in which he starred. His first and last love remained the theatre.

I leave you with the words of Dominique de Villepin:

"Through his voice, his allure, his panache, Philippe Noiret knew how to seize and express something within the French soul. The silhouette and the voice, so tender and familiar, will be missed by all".
PS. On the mend... but not yet fully recovered. Thank you for the wishes of speedy recovery.

jeudi, novembre 23, 2006

Sick (brb)

This blogger is down with a bout of gastric flu.

Be right back.

mardi, novembre 21, 2006

Mind the Gap

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The World Economic Forum has published the Global Gender Gap report 2006.


The Global Gender Gap Report 2006 covers all current and candidate European
Union countries, 20 from Latin America and the Caribbean, over 20 from sub-Saharan Africa and 10 from the Arab world. Together, the 115 economies cover over 90% of the world’s population. The index mainly uses publicly available "hard data" indicators drawn from international organizations and some qualitative information from the Forum’s own Executive Opinion Survey. The Global Gender Gap Report 2006 includes an innovative new methodology including detailed profiles of each economy that provide insight into the economic, legal and social aspects of the gender gap. The Report measures the size of the gender gap in four critical areas of inequality between men and women: 1. Economic participation and opportunity – outcomes on salaries, participation levels and access to high-skilled employment 2. Educational attainment – outcomes on access to basic and higher level education 3. Political empowerment – outcomes on representation in decision-making structures 4. Health and survival – outcomes on life expectancy and sex ratio.


And now Malta. Where do we stand in all this? A list of 115 countries. Well we are 70th. One step behind France and (luckily for our politicians) 11 above Italy which places a miserable 81st. Other countries above us? Try China, Ghana, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and... hold your breath here... Kazakhstan.

Yes, the home of Borat (women an ploughs yes) is fourty places above us in 30th place. In the 29th there is the US of A... leaving a sweet combination. Obviously the first five places go to Norway, Finland, Iceland, Germany and Sweden. The worst perfomers in the EU were Greece, France, Malta, Italy and Cyprus.

Sadly for Marie Louise Coleiro the item that stands out on the Malta Country Profile is the one entitled Female Genital Mutilation. Guess what the score is?

Yep. That's right 0.

On the other hand we still score lowly in legislation punishing violence on women. 0,67 - where 0 is bad and 1 is good. We also cheat because we claim to have had 13 years out of the last fifty with a female head of state. A white lie of course because on paper Agatha Barabara's presidential years were just so. No need to comment on the influential levels of the Presidential post of course.

On the equality to inequality scale we score 0,652. Which is more than zero but still far from the ideal state of 1.

So what you may say? Well I say (again) that while opposition MP's are busy about laws against vaginal mutilation and government ministers take on the crusade against that windmill called abortion in the constitution we might be spending our time much more usefully thinking how to bridge that gap. The gender one I mean.

I gave up on the intelligence gap ages ago.

Outlaw This

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From this week's Maltatoday:


Labour MP Marie Louise Coleiro is calling on the government to outlaw the practice of female genital mutilation in Malta, in a bid to protect migrant women who could be subjected to the brutal practice.

Sometimes I cannot believe what I am reading in the papers. A week or so ago we had David Agius faking a dispute with Lorna only to churn up a litany of have-heards that we usually hear from the mouths (or read from the pens) of the has-beens. Now we have another example of the sorry state of politics in Malta. Marie Louise Coleiro call on government to outlaw female genital mutilation is as effective and useful to Maltese politics as if I were to call for an introduction of an age limit for snowboarding or a limit to the number of nuclear bombs Malta might produce.

What we have here, ladies and gentlemen of the ever-dwindling reasonable electorate, is another case of the Uselessly Controversial Topic being bandied around by a politician in the hope that the cause she is championing makes her look like a genuine social carer and potential saint and makes any opponents or naysayers look like the devil incarnate.

For let's face it. Saying that you disagree with Coleiro's suggestion could easily get you branded as a vaginal mutilator of some sort. Before you know it l-Orizzont would be headlining "Jack lo Squartatore" and other such clichés. It's a bit like the crusade to include an anti-abortion clause in the constitution. Notwithstanding the futility of the exercise by Minister Borg we still have whole debates about the matter - which inevitably digress to witchhunts aimed at the pro-abortionist baby-eaters even if they do not exist.

The thing is I am sure that no-one in Malta condones female genital mutilation (or male for what that matters). What also seems to be sure is the fact that there is no known record of female genital mutilation on the islands. Colerio's worry seems to be based on some ill-advised logic of the sort:


We get many immigrants to Malta.
Some immigrants are Somalis.
Some Somalis practice female genital mutilation.
Therefore female genital mutilation should be made illegal in Malta.

You could almost be convinced for a moment. You can almost feel the Female Genital Mutilation (Prevention) Act being drafted in some blue-eyed law firm somewhere in the capital. You could hear the drafter wonder whether section 7(3)(b) should include a reference to labial piercing without consent - and attempting to legally qualify instances of self-mutilation while under the influence.

Then reality hits you. Why the hell are our politicians busy suggesting laws about the hypothetical and the probable when the actual is still not being solved. I'd like to see a law that outlaws hunting and cruelty to animals and makes non-implementation a crime. I'd like to see a law that makes dumping by contractors punishable by putting them out of business. I'd love to see a law that makes political party funding illegal except through agreed systems. I'd love to see a ban on the taxi monopoly. I'd love to have better public procurement laws that ensure that roads do not have to be resurfaced every so often.

I'd like many things. But most of all I'd like to have less politicians talking about Somali Vaginas and Plastic Foetuses.... Actually, why don't we outlaw them too?

----

* Poster: anti-Female Genital Mutilation poster. NGO's like Amnesty International and UNICEF regularly combat FGM. Support Amnesty to support anti-FGM action in the countries where it DOES happen and we MUST be doing something about it.

dimanche, novembre 19, 2006

Say What? (again)

From today's Sunday Times Editorial:

There are clear signs that Malta is becoming an affluent society. This should sound like music to the government's ears, which is probably quick to equate affluence with the rise in the number of mobile phones, the growing number of Maltese who travel abroad, higher sales of air-conditioners and other household appliances, more cars on the road (in both cases contributing to higher fuel bills), and other signs of well-being...
The growing number of Maltese who travel abroad? Last time we checked the sell-out of Ryanair tickets was attributable in the greater part to incoming travel. Ditto most other airlines. Granted, the editorial is assuming that the government will be quick to equate affluence to these factors. Still... to imply that more Maltese are travelling when we are far from an ideal situation... that's a tall order.

Fat chance.

P.S. I'm busy cleaning the flat. So I.M. Jack can wait.