mardi, janvier 31, 2006

J'ose [#3]

A Good Job (Vexatious Vexillology IV)

In these troubled times where every occupation is precarious and earning the quick euro or two is getting more and more difficult we dare to suggest a job with a steady income, constant clientele and possible lucrative spin-offs. The above photo and this news item were our inspiration.

The Job: Flag Vendor
Location: Gaza Strip
Start-up resources: Good stock of Flags, Internet Connection
Spin-offs: Petrol Jerry Cans, Burn-the-Infidel-Flag (c) lighters, Disposable Cameras for that Hot snapshot.

All you would have to do is sit and wait while monitoring the news for the latest act to which the arab world takes offence. Whether it's French banning veils, Americans breathing, Christians being Christian in their own country, or Danes deciding they can do something more than drink beer. Then bob's your uncle. Out with the flags, the jerry cans and the lighters and sell sell sell.

Of course the past is not a guarantee of the future and maybe one day the Muslim extremists might learn to react normally like the rest of the world by requesting a formal apology and rectification on the offending journal.

In which case you can always start a Vexillology Association.

lundi, janvier 30, 2006

Ma vuoi vedere che...

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Roma Caput Mundi?
The series of images below were taken during the Roma - Livorno match. The two teams are also indirectly representative of two political extremes in Italy. While the Roma Curva Sud is made up of predominantly fascist individuals, the entirety of the Livorno support is considered to be red - as in communist. Yesterday, some bright sparks among the Roma supporters decided to proudly display their colours. The panoply of propagandistic material displayed shows clearly that this is not the work of one or two individuals but the fruit of a group of sick minds getting together.

That it was an organised political assault in what should be the calm surroundings of sport was further demonstrated by the discovery of 6 molotov bombs by the police. Apparently the Roman ultras wanted to vindicate a friend of theirs who had lost his hand to a petard thrown by the Livornesi in the first leg. It would appear that once the molotovs had been used they also had a banner ready which would read "V'abbiamo bruciati tutti!" (We burnt you all).

Fortunately the banner of burning hate was not used. Others were though and they have triggered off the indignation of a nation that cannot seem to rid itself of politics in football. One banner read "God Mitt Uns" (God with Us) reproducing the writing on the belt of Nazi soldiers. The other one read "Lazio e Livorno: Stessi Iniziali Stesso Forno" (Lazio and Livorno, same intials same oven). Days after the commemoration of the Shoah the idiots of the Curva Sud were recalling the use of ovens for the burning of human beings.

Now - and here comes the "ma vuoi vedere che" bit. I smell that someone must blame Juve somewhere. Juve has its fair share of ultra supporters but whenever I hear news of the Drughi I notice that they tend to be on the receiving end of a beating and are comparatively a bunch of wannabe hooligans (which does not in any way condone their action). I am glad that the Juve ultras could not muster enough courage to attack a kindergarten school outing because that keeps my team out of trouble. Of course I would be even more glad should such extremities not exist at all.

But back to Roma. It turns out that the Stadio Olimpico was "diffidato" (carried a sort of first warning) because of an incident involving the throwing of a coin during a Roma-Lazio match. This should mean that the stadium should be suspended for the next match.

But guess who Rometta will play in the next match? No prizes for the winner. Next match scheduled at the Stadio Olimpico is Roma - Juventus (return leg of the match in which the giallorossi so effectively "outclassed" the bianconeri with a shining display of catenaccio and hit and run). So if justice were to be had the Olimpico would be banned for this hot event. Somehow I smell the conspiracy theorists squirming to the surface and shouting "it's not fair". And somehow somewhere deep down I hear someone coming up with the story of Moggi, Giraudo and Bettega creeping into the Olimpico last Sunday and holding up the offensive banner to ensure that the tanto amati tifosi would not be there to urge their team to an incredible defensive victory come next match.

Ma vuoi vedere che questi striscioni gli hanno fatti i Juventini?

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Cradle of civilisation? Ma fatemi il piacere!!!!
Forza ragazzi!

AGI Press

dimanche, janvier 29, 2006


I don't know about you but there is something about the baby floating on a river in a plastic bag story that moves me like nothing else. The luck that each and every one of us has of being delivered safely into this world can never be more heavily stated than in moments like these. The chances of survival for the little brazilian were scant. Yet the bag floated. The bag stuck to the wood. Her cries were heard by someone curious enough to be moved to bring her to shore. By someone curious enough to open the bag. By someone courageous enough to get her to a hospital.

On Friday, before leaving for my little snowy break, I watched the Italian news and the outrageous story of the 50 year old woman who had been locked in a bathroom for 30 years of her life by a family ashamed of her disability.

At La Bresse, in the Vosges, I chose not to ski but I went on a solo hike up the mountain on the racquet route. At one point I was alone up there surrounded by the muffled silence of snow and trees playing with the wind. It also takes pauses like these to appreciate the beauty of life.

There. Now let's get back to blogging.

vendredi, janvier 27, 2006


In the tradition of winter weekends I will once again absent myself from the keyboard for another two days. I am off to Metz to taste Mel's mum's cooking again and then tomorrow it will be Gerardmer again to continue my skiing practice. For those who could remotely be interested in my achievements on ice here is a little photocollection using my old camera (that's why the noise).

I'll be back Sunday night. So don't hold your breath.

Welcome to the Group of Bore

Euro 2008 Draw Results

Group C

Tennis anyone?

Non Sequitur #43

for a new beginning (restart)...

Non Sequitur #42

Nhar l-Għoti tal-Kostituzzjoni

Qum mill-ħedla li ’l qalbek mewtitlek,
Ġens ta’ ħila, ta’ għaqal, ta’ ġieħ;
Poplu Malti, ix-xemx telgħet, sejħitlek;
Aqbad triqtek lejn xefaq sabiħ.

Ma tħosshiex ġewwa sidrek il-mewġa
Ta’ demm ġdid li f’saħħitha ssaffik?
Ma tħosshiex tilgħab f’wiċċek il-fewġa
Tal-ħelsien li ħajja oħra tagħtik?

Dan hu l-jum u din is-siegħa;
Issir l-għaqda, isir il-patt;
’Kk ma taqbdux fil-ħarba tiegħu,
Dan iż-żmien ma jerġa’ qatt.

Kisser l-għodda ta’ l-għira ġellieda,
Iftaħ qalbek għall-kelma tas-sliem;
Għalenija, m’hemmx ifrem mir-rieda,
Iżda mqassma, tintilef fil-kliem.

Għandek mera fil-ljuni qalbiena
Illi tqabdu mal-Mislem magħdub;
Kienu ftit, u kien għadu bla ħniena,
Iżda rebħu bil-għaqda tal-qlub.

Dan hu l-jum u din is-siegħa...


Note: This post does not constitute an endorsement of the initiative of the Akkademja tal-Malti to put Dun Karm on the Euro. Evviva l-Mislem maghdub!

jeudi, janvier 26, 2006

Defni Fidjucja (sic)

In today's Malta Independent DCG analyses another survey gone weird. A recent survey indicated that a high percentage of the Maltese trust the government. Dahne argues that the problem in the survey is the language. In Maltese, she argues, the meaning of "to trust the government" is not the same as "to have faith in government". Unfortunately Daphne betrays a bit of lingusitic naivete when providing the Maltese translations to the two phrases. First of all she uses two words which have the same root (fidi - faith) and thus fails to show the Maltese distinction.

Secondly and more gravely (in the eyes of her critics) she falls in the trap of pepe' spelling. In fact the word "fiducja" (which is one of those ugly words of Italian origin so common among lawyers) is rendered "fidJucja" by Her Englishness. A petty mistake for sure but a heavy one commit by DCG. For you see DCG is seen as the typical Slimiza (Sliema girl) who has long foresaken her Maltese language for a language that resembles English.

It is a mistake that increases in weight when one remembers that in the not too distant past the word FIDUCJA was pasted on billboards across the country next to the homely face of Eddie Family Adami. It is a mistake that speaks volumes about the current frenzy of linguistic fervour surrounding the EURO. We could have two denominations - the EWRO for Zabbar and the South and the JUROW for Sliema, St Julians and Madliena.

So Daphne, I am afraid you will have to face a barrage of criticism on your spelling. Which is a pity really, because your argument made sense. But all too often in our country it's the sleaze that counts.

Warning: This is a post on a blog. This is not intended to be considered as journalism. Any similarity to journalism is purely unintentional and we regret the inconvenience caused.

Non Sequitur #41

Prolific writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez has declared that 2005 as the first year in his life in which he has not written a single word. Among the problems listed by the Colombian author is his difficult relationship with the computer. Marquez is said to be enjoying his creative pause and expects the muses to pay him a visit soon in his home in Mexico City.

mercredi, janvier 25, 2006

Ownership (and the media)

This week's Maltatoday editorial spreads its peacock's tail with the poppycock about the free and independent media. The media with no strings attached. The editor tells us that the motivation to print certain stories lies in his newspaper's belief that it ought to be in the public domain. Good good. Vague but good. It is also good that the "independent media" now has its own custodians... a role that bloggers like myself and Vlad have taken on eagerly. Cuis custodiet ipsos custodies? The bloggers will. At least for now. And we will also bear the brunt of personal attacks when they come because some of us choose to blog without a pseudonym (and this is not a criticism though I prefer those who do not).

Back at the newspaper that defends all free comment and independent ideas we find another wonderful and encouraging paragraph in the editorial...

"This is the age of the independent media. A fair and incisive media can set the political agenda. Our country is crying out for a media which fairly, accurately, and firmly, probes political parties, politicians, the judiciary and persons appointed to political posts. Accountability and transparency are the hallmarks of a modern democracy. In probing, the media is fulfilling its duty to inform. During last week’s Int x’Tahseb interview the Prime Minister suggested that journalists too should declare their interests so as to assure readers listeners and audiences that there are no hidden agendas or conflicts of interest accusations surrounding the publishing of stories. This newspaper concurs with the prime minister’s suggestion and has no difficulty in extending such transparency to include media owners too."

There's hope yet. We'll wait then... and oh... if you wonder why John Dalli's pic sits on top of this article - I just thought the guy has been absent from the media for too long and that a bit of exposure would not hurt. Int x'tahseb?

mardi, janvier 24, 2006

J'ose [#2]

Vexatious Maltese Vexillology
The George Cross. So what if we remove it? What will take it's place... once again we will dare to suggest...

1. The Maltese Cross
Because it is the Maltese cross. Because a Maltese cross with black borders (or on a black background sitting in the corner of the red and white thing) is Maltese. Because it is identifiable. And because with all due respect to Twanny no one outside Malta knows what a Widnet il Bahar is.

2. The Maltese Islands
Because the iconic shape of the isles are identifiable with the Maltese. Because Cyprus already did it and they are not lucky enough to have Gozo in the deal.

3. The Maltese Temples
Or the sleeping lady. Because they too are Maltese. Because they remind us of the civilisation which we once were. Because they are cool.

4. The Crown from the Emblem of Malta
Replace the George Cross with the Crown of Towers that sits on the Emblem of the Republic (described as a mural crown with a sally port and eight turrets - five of which are visible - and denoting a city state). While we are at it throw in the palm and the olive at the centre of the flag.

5. A combination
On the 25th anniversary of independence a set of coins had been issued which included on the reverse an acknowledged symbol from each era of Maltese history. I would favour this coin to be reproduced at the center of the flag in the same manner as the Portuguese flag carries a complex coat of arms. The signs included the temples, the cippus stone, the sleeping lady, the towers of Wignacourt, and could.... surprise surprise include the George Cross... Unfortunately I cannot find a picture of these coins on the net.... help anyone?

Finally... once we are into change... do we need to stick to red and white? Can we throw in limestone and sea instead? It is soooo much more Maltese. Come to think of it I would steal the Presidential Flag (see picture above) if I could.

U naghmlu li rridu....

PS I feel the need to reiterate that the "j'ose" column need not be taken seriously. It is an attempt at proposing the surreal which like Dali and Di Chirico paintings, no matter how desirable are never achievable in real life.

Ownership - dominio (ex Gaius)

Sometimes, in reading the news and issues that are current, one can notice a subtle serendipital line that connects one item to another. It is normally casual and occurs without any premeditation whatsoever. I was intrigued over the past few days by the constant appearance of the concept of "ownership" in different areas and coming from different parts of the world. Law students learn from an early stage the difference between "ownership" and "possession" that is at the basis of many civil transactions. The ultimate owner of an object (or right) may not be the current possessor. A typical example is the contract of rent whereby the landlord is the owner but the tenant is by contract the current possessor of the tenement.

Anyways. The dangers of digressing are as multiple as the subject is wide. Property rights and ownership are also at the basis of political divisions. The ownership and management of property can be seen to be the root of differences between capitalism and communism. For a long time the distinguishing factor between the right and the left (those huddled close to the centre of course, and not the extremist right and left who both have state ownership in mind) would be their approach to the management of property for the generation of common good.

But now lets to the news and see the items that have this common thread:

1. Duh!mericans and Eminent Domain
The land of the free is transforming property ownership into a bet of the brave. The legal device of "eminent domain" is equivalent to the UK "compulsory purchase order" or that one time favourite of MLPN governments "expropriation". In very lay terms its origins lie in the balance between the usefulness of a property (normally land / building) for the state as against its usefulness to the current owner. An act of exproproriation by the state would normally be for the common good of the state such as for example expropriating land for the building of a highway. Under normal government fair compensation would be tendered to the person who loses property for the common good. In Malta, various Kazini were acquired by the MLP dangling the threat of expropriation before the owners' faces until they subsided to accept a pittance immediately rather than wait for the irrisory compensations that were meted out at the time. But then the Kazin Lejberista is a public good is it not? Well, in Duh! States, Judge Souter, one of the judges who recently backed the return of eminent domain to the fore of government prerogatives is risking losing a 200 year old farmhouse to some activists seeking to develop this property simply to teach him a lesson or two.... read more here.

2. God's Word is Copyrighted
Another form of ownership rights is that found in intellectual property rigts. The latest news is that some works supposedly (if you are a believer) inspired by the most supreme of intellects will henceforth be copyrighted. The Vatican has transferred copyright on papal texts to its own publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana. The Vatican also plans to charge rights on any papal texts of the past 50 years. It appears that reproducing papal words will now cost money and this will go to the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. The Vatican claims that this is being done in order to to protect papal works and ensure that the rules would be applied more rigorously. But surely libel laws and basic authorship rights would suffice? Maybe they should ask Hogan.

3. Evo Morales
Bolivians, particularly those of the indian kind, were elated to see Evo Morales inaugurated as the first indigenous indian to hold such a post in South America. This continues the swing to the left in most South American countries. Hot on Evo's agenda are various ownership issues. These include the ownership of the gas industry in Bolivia (which he wants to renationalise), the ownership of coca-fields (which he wants to keep and continue the fight against drug dealers in the process) and ownership of Bolivia's destiny (which he wants to wrestle away from Duh!merica). A bit of a Mintoff for the 2000's, Morales might even succeed where others have failed but he will need to rope in the support of fellow South Americans in the process. There is hope yet... el pueblo unido....

4. George's Cross
And finally to the hottest topic this side of the ewro. The blogosfera (Maltese blogosphere) has moved on from discussing the nomenclature of the eurocoin and shifted to another symbol of the Repubblika. Or maybe not. As in, it is a symbol but it remains disputable as to whether the Repubblika really wants it. Of course I am talking about Cross George. That medal of honour that we share with the Royal Ulster Constabulary. We also share it with this list of honourable gentlemen of course but there have only been two collective awards so we should be proud.

One thing that really irks me is the fact that, benevolent as he may have been, King G did not deem it fit to create an ad hoc award for a nation but simply gave us something that any individual could get. Sorry but I do not see that as gratitude. You want to impress me? For heaven's sake Harrod's carried the Royal Insignia for ages simply for providing the Germanic family with its favourite household items. We all know where those insignia went after Queen E stopped liking the Al Fayeds!

So the fact remains that the cross is George's and not ours, simply because we cannot claim exclusivity over it. So I COULD agree that a removal of the man on the horsey in a cross thingy is in order. But then begins the ugly business. I definitely want something on the flag. The red and white alone is so bland to the point of being pathetic (sorry Poland). Twanny worries me. He mentions cacti and maltese boats (dghajsa) and I begin to get nightmares of the first symbols of Mintoffs republika. Please please no carnival floats. I have a few ideas in mind but I will leave them for the second installment of the J'ose postings.

That's it... ownership and all.

lundi, janvier 23, 2006

Pass the Duchy (on the Left Hand Side)

Egad. It is happening. I have been a non-smoker for almost eight months now - ever since I kicked the habit with gusto watching that lovely Champion's league final. I smoked my last pack watching Liverpool down Milan in the most slapstick of finals I have ever seen. I still cannot decide whether it is Jerzy Dudek's dance or Bruce Grobelaar's shimmy that gave me most satisfaction. In truth it is the losses of Roma and Milan in the final that are most rewarding.

But I digress. So I kicked the habit the same day Liverpool kicked ass. I had decided enough is enough a few days earlier when I almost collapsed with my lungs ablazing while playing a bit of footie with friends. My recovery from the limbo of smoking has not been as speedy as a Liverpool 1-2-3 knockout but it has been steady and unswavering. I have developed a distaste for all things tobacco and have not craved the damned shag (of the halfzware kind) for one instant.

The main problem now is that I have trouble staying in bars, pubs or restaurants in Luxembourg because, unlike Malta, Italy and Ireland, smoking in the Duchy is still allowed everywhere. And I have begun to hate the smell of it in the air. I do not enjoy a night at the pub because of the breathing and because of the lingering smell on my clothes. I would never have imagined that I would become such an intolerant person towards the habit.... but hey even Saint Paul saw the light. So....

The following news is why I am elated. It was reported among other interesting items like "Stabbed man critical" and "Learner driver caught". Finally, and hopefully soon, the public places of Luxembourg will be free from fumes...

"The Luxembourg government has decided to ban smoking in public places in Luxembourg. (...) The draft legislation is aimed at banning smoking in restaurants and bakeries, as well as in bistros which offer daily menus ("Menu du Jour" or "Plat de Jour"). Restaurant and Bistro owners can provide a completely separate area for smokers, if they so wish: this exception will cater for their customers who wish to smoke in restaurants, but without affecting the main food serving and eating area."

As you can see the ban is applied to the bare minimum - eateries. No pubs and no bars. The only effect will be probably like in the UK where the few snacks available in pubs vanish in order to allow smoking to remain (because smoking is banned only in places where food is prepared to be consumed - and this does not include Walker's crisps). Well, it is a good start. Though definitely not enough. I will only be happy when I can go to my pub and have a drink without having to look through the fumes to find my glass.

Picture: Musical Youth - eighties reggae band singers of the song Pass the dutchie on the left hand side - "dutchie" being an allusion to a marijuana joint (a.k.a. kutchie).

Vexatious Vexillology III

The carcass of the French warship "Clemenceau" is now in the Suez canal. This morning's France Info was all about the indignation of having to pay a backhander ("bakshish") of around €200,000 to the canal authorities to get the damn boat through. Once again the written news differs greatly from what is said on the radio and allegations of any backhanders are conveniently left out. The Supreme Court of India has prohibited the Clemenceau from entering Indian waters before 13th February. Great... a Valentine's Day present from La Republique to les petits paysans indiens in Gujarat.


On a separate Maritime note it was sad to see the whale stranded along the houses of Parliament in London. It was definitely a monumental whale that chose to go out in style, and it now transpires that its death could help save other whales.

vendredi, janvier 20, 2006

Off to a Ski-side Resort

The equipment has been purchased. Technological over-the-specs mask, ultra modern gloves, goretex suit à la mode in olive green and orange, ultra-sexy (and tight) vest and legwear for extra warmth and comfort, special socks and a hat. The Hotel is booked and soon the bags will be packed. That's it the blogger you all love to read will be absenting himself from the keyboard for his very first skiing weekend. We leave for a place called Gerardmer and it seems that the visit will coincide with that of most of the Maltese colony in Lux. So for two days this skiing resort in les Vosges will see the best of Maltese skiing. Cool runnings indeed. Who knows... it may never be too late for the Winter Olympics...

See you soon!

J'Ose! [#1]

J'ose! (I dare) is the new J'accuse section where we dare to imagine what would happen in an impossible alternative world in another leg of the trousers of time. Here goes the first one...

TV Ratings to be introduced in Malta

What if instead of the ratings being suggested by the Broadcasting Authority in its Family Viewing and Listening Policy of the we had these categories ?

B&B - Biased and boring - for those political programmes on the political channels

AOI - Abuse of Ignorance - for those programmes that treat you like the dickhead that you are

DS - downright stupid - for those programmes where the taxpayers' money is going to waste

AO - adverts only - for those programmes where adverts feature more than content

X - xarabank - for those programmes that are past their sell by date

PC - populist crap - for programmes which ride the horse of general ignorance instead of challenge it

TFH - trendy funny hamalli - for those programmes of the "hamallu u kburi" category with a bit of "jaqq jitkellmu l-ingliz bhal Defni" thrown in

OA - Opinionist asshole - for those Clyde Puli style programmes where they let a wannabe intellectual loose on the radio with abgry listeners phoning in

W- wankellectual - for those programmes

TGFP - too good for peasants - for the pay per view channels and the World Cup

Any suggestions?

jeudi, janvier 19, 2006

San Bastjan tal-fildiferru! (TGIL)

And back to TGIL. It's Lorna day though today we have been let down. I may not be in the mood but today's string of "statistics" and analysis of libel cases intended to portray Dr Sant as the unlibelable and Dr EFA as the sleaze master in politics are not half as exciting as Lorna's usual forays into subjects various. Be that as it may a few bloomers do flower in the article and the first paragraph immediately presents us with Lornisms of the prettiest kind:

"In my last article I dealt with libel cases since 1992, most of which were decided cases. I discussed the success rate of each of the two main political parties at libel cases and how much their verbal inaccuracies or otherwise cost them, with a bracket on who sued whom. Facts spring out so naturally that no further comments are needed for the "average reader", mentioned so many times during libel cases."

Don't you just love the phrase "verbal inaccuracies or otherwise"? Doesn't the thought of "Look who's talking" spring to your mind so naturally? Don't you just love the floweriness of her descriptions? Take her picture of libel cases: "These are always flashy and interesting and not easily forgotten." Last I heard, an enterprising individual was tying the dossier of a libel case onto the ceiling of a nightclub…

This biblical review undertaken by the Grammar Dame commences "as early as 1992". Really? … as early as that? She makes the date sound as vintage as Colombus' 1492. She insists on having the MLP sound as some kind of victor in this tête-à-tête because they lost 13 cases while PN lost 10. Incredible – what politics can do to perspective.

The crux and point of her whole epic saga on libel is explained in her descriptions of the Hero. Alfred the Kind and Martyr: "The man seems to be the local political St Sebastian, shot at by too many arrows but never actually being killed by them. Worth mentioning is another ongoing and, therefore, undecided case concerning Dr Sant's arrival at the counting hall on EU referendum day.Dr Sant also stands out as a man quite capable of watching his words. Two cases were filed against him personally." Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus.

"Libel cases are becoming more and more popular." Get your libel case here now!

I must protest. This is not fair. We wait for over two weeks for Lorna to provide us with her dose of knowledge wisdom and razzle-dazzle and all we get is a set of statistics. I cannot wait till she reverts to her usual self. Can someone please take her out to lunch? Can some voluntary organisation stop her at Valletta Gate and ask her for money? Quick…before it's too late and all that talent goes to waste.

And let's hope that Hogan doesn't get too excited with all this mention of libel.

Picture: Alfred Sant get's an arrow too many!

Title translation: St Sebastian is made of gauzewire (not sure if it is gauze-wire but some kind of wire anyway). A phrase sung (sillily) by supporters of St George in Qormi, making fun of St Sebastian (patron of their rivals). The full song goes "Ram u Hadid..... San Bastjan tal-fildiferru" and is thought to originate in appreciations of the works used to make titular statues. Has degenerated further into graphic descriptions of other patron saints - e.g. "Santa Liena mara-ragel".

Flashback to the Halcyon Days

Good morning. A quick post before I delve into Lorna's meanderings which are back today after the holidays (with some advice about Libel which I am sure will please Hogan). For now I will just ask those of you who possessed some form of rudimentary computer (like a Commodore, and Amstrad or a BBC) in the 1980's to think back to the text-based adventure games. In these games the only "graphics" would be words which described the surroundings of your character and you would type in basic commands in the hope that these would get you to the next scenario.

"You are standing in a room. There are four chairs, a mirror and a box." Would be a standard scenario. It would have people like Eddie Aquilina racing with joy. You would then type things like "LOOK" or "SIT" or "OPEN BOX" and hope that the string of words that you just typed are understandable to the program. It would then reply with further descriptions based on your command (if you were successful) or contrive to be frustratingly stupid and limited. It was thus that the nine year olds of the eighties would wait till mummy left the room and then type "FUCK YOU" and giggle... waiting for the inevitable reply of "I do not know what a FUCK YOU is". Lovely isn't it. But if you did manage to get to the end of the text-adventure you could be lucky enough to convince your mum or dad to spend another five or six pounds to get you another one (no downloading in the eighties eh Ed?).

Anyways. defectiveyeti - which is a great blog in its own right - has come up with a faked text-based adventure. In it they imagine the main character George DoubleDuh Bush during his presidency. Read it here for a good laugh. And before gybexi gets his balls in a twist, yes, I did discover it on boingboing!

mercredi, janvier 18, 2006

We Do Not Exist

Surfing through Boing Boing! I came across an interesting link to an article in - an online/offline magazine dedicated to the general world of advertising. The author, a certain Simon Dumenco, treats a very interesting question that has been consciously or subconsciously discussed in this corner of the blogosphere - namely the nature of a Blogger.

We blog, therefore we are... not. Dumenco's line is that a blogger is simply a writer who has been placed in a false category for the convenience of current times. He argues that there is nothing to differentiate the blogger from any other writer except the fact that bloggers are a bunch of ego-centred brats who like the idea of being "different" and "the alternative". I would love someone to take on this argument, and in turn argue that the awareness of a "self" can be a defining moment in the construction of an "other". In other words the fact that bloggers recognise themselves as a category can be sufficient to create an autochthonous being in the world of media and communication.

In any case... do read the article, as a blogger it is a duty you have to question your existence. No... not to question MY existence.... that is another kettle of fish.

PS. A former post about Blogging and this one and anger provoked by blogs and what happens when you are mentioned in the MSM and on blog fatigue and early meanderings about being a blogger.

Vlad was right. The Economist and The Financial Times were wrongly classified as duh!merican. Which leaves the IHT as the only readable paper from duh!states.

mardi, janvier 17, 2006

Don't Blame it on the Sunshine

Hogan Has Answered
Last Sunday's Maltatoday is online and us expats who do not have the luxury to chew through Hogan's columns during Sunday breakfast can now sample the next episode in the "Notaries and Political Credibility" melodrama. Unlike Vlad at Fool's Cap we do not have the venerable Times under a microscope but the volcanic maltatoday and its People Politics. The reactions in the printed media to the hodgepodge of fries and slander that appeared last Sunday have provoked a further response from Hogan. He does so in two separate articles. The Editorial (by Saviour Balzan) and the Opinion (by Saviour Balzan).

Obviously J'Accuse cannot claim any hand in the provocation because it is evidently an unread orphaned blog. I thank the two blog readers who either directly or indirectly implied that I.M.Beck's Saturday piece was inspired by yours truly but I am sure that Bocca could have arrived at the same conclusions without needing to peek at this little corner of the net.

Meanwhile in the Hogan rant and rave we find once again the "I am right and you are ALL wrong" reasoning that so benefits Maltese society. Dismissing with one swish any argument coming from legal quarters Hogan insists that the subject is political credibility and not legality. We must agree to disagree. Firstly because it is a FACT that a Notary cannot refuse his client. Secondly because it is an OPINION whether you will count his political role when assessing his credibility. Some would say that Mangion should have taken a step back from his role in MLP on this issue. Others would say that there are ways in which a Notary refuses a contract.

Hogan chooses to confuse issues. While answering I.M. Beck he describes previous involvements of Mangion with shady characters (again dropping links and testing serendipity like no other would dare). Philosophically speaking he has decided to solve the present argument on a present set of facts by including arguments and insinuations which are not at all relevant for an objective evaluation. No matter how many friends of ill repute Mangion might have this has no bearing whatsoever on the Pender Place deal. But relevance is not Hogan's forte (remember Peralta the Freemason?). Bubble bubble toil and trouble, slander much and then see double!

It's the Law Stupid.
I hate people who dismiss lawyer's arguments just because, these arguments are coming from lawyers. It is all too easy. I find it even more despicable when these people then try to talk of the law as though it is their bread and butter. Listen to this line from Hogan:

"This is not the first libel for damages and it will not be the last.Dom Mintoff, Gino Cauchi, Mark Sammut and Bertu Mizzi have all libelled MaltaToday await in earnest their pound of flesh."

Spot the error. If you cannot... I suggest you dial a lawyer. (As for the grammar dial-a-Lorna - I am sure she understood).

Further on in the opinion piece, again in his conversation with IM Beck, Hogan once again attempts a metaphor - a simile - a comparison. He asks Bocca:

"Just imagine dear Andrew, if tomorrow morning we read in one of those exciting dailies that you, as defender of the tobacco industry, were to act as a lawyer to Dr Mario Spiteri, anti-smoking crusader at the head of the Health Promotion Unit. The situation would be certainly farcical, hardly damning maybe."

Apart from Bocca's horrible horrible habit of defending the spinners of kill, there is absolutely no liasion (nexus, link) with the notary story. Why? Because, dear Hogan, Bocca is a lawyer (advocate, attorney) and being a man of such an old and kind profession, he can (actually must) refuse a client on the basis of conflict of interest. Why? Because the lawyer acts in the interest of the client and NOT of the public. He is NOT a public officer but a servant of his retainer. Get it? Guess not. But we enjoy pointing it out anyway.

Hogan's Crusade
Having said all this I must reiterate (lest, once again people misunderstand my intentions) that I sympathise with the crusade against all things partisan in our little corner of the Med. I too find it disgusting that George Pullicino finds no time for Maltatoday and that Tonio Borg finds time on live radio to laugh about writing off debts owed to government. I would love to see investigative journalism getting a strong foothold in Malta and baring one or two ugly truths. Really. But this is not what we have been offered. The sleaze-slinging, chip-on-the-shoulder article I highlighted last week is far from our (possibly common) Utopia. I will not try to teach Hogan (or any other Hero) journalism.... but I guess it's time he left law to the lawyers.

Meanwhile don't blame it on the sunshine...
don't blame it on the moonlight...
just blame it on the boogie!

Do you read me Matthew? :)

Il-Kazz m'Hux Opinjoni

The fluttering paroxysm of ideas that has hit the opinion and letter pages of Malta's papers since the unfortunate death of a young girl at a New Year's Eve Party was to be expected. This man inadvertently started a discussion on the role of humour in serious events and as a modern replacement of the fable with a moral ending - see his daring post here.

Nanny government (socialist or fascist?) will soon confiscate all forms of alcohol while it assesses whether it is at fault for not putting up a warning sign saying "Danger: Jumping from Great Heights While Inebriated Can Be Damaging to Your Health". It will continue to ignore the real needs of regulation in parties where making a quick buck still involves having a good connection in the ministry to get the right place, charging sky high for tickets, slushing people with watered down booze (that still gets them drunk) and denying responsibility for anything that happens before, during or after the performance.

Death's scythe is not selective. It does not only turn up uninvited at New Year's Eve parties. It turns up at Festa Preparations when Ganni plays around with fire one time too many. It swings suddenly into view when Mary takes to the wheel after an extra shift at work for that tad bit more of salary. It cuts the life cord unexpectedly when the electrician's tester goes faulty and he sticks it into the wrong electrical socket by mistake. The moral is that no amount of moralising and legalising and prohibition will prevent the Grim Reaper from playing his nasty jokes. Caution caution caution should be the motto, but all too often it is thrown to the wind.

Meanwhile we will have to suffer (again) all the nasty stories about this new generation who just drink drink drink, get high on drugs, walk around naked and (occasionally) jump off high walls. Little do we notice the irony of it all.... Some people saw it all from much before and wrote a damn good song about it ... if you have not heard it yet just rush to and download the song "Generazzjoni ta' Meqrudin". I am reproducing the lyrics below without their kind permission. But then I'm sure they don't mind....

Generazzjoni ta' Meqrudin
Kemm trid toqghod attent meta tmur Paceville
Zomm it-tazza sew f'idek
Ma jmurx xi kurnut jitfaghlek xi joint fid-drink
U int cuc ma tindunax!

Jistahbew fid-dlamijiet
Vampiri tal-barijiet

Go xi rock concert hemm go rokna mitluqin
Jittaqbu bil-haxixa

F'xi party jkunu qed jissniffjaw l-ekstazi
U jitkghabru ma l-art
Tarhom b'ghajnejhom homor nar
Hara mejta jsuqu d-dar

Ghazzenin, mahmugin
Skoss drugati u imdamdmin
Qatta zghazagh bla valuri
U imhawdin

Ghajjenin, Biss tajbin
Biex jintelqu u jahlu l-hin
"X'qed jghidulna x'wahda din?
Generazzjoni ta' meqrudin!"

Trid tahrab minnhom dawk iz-zibel ta' tfajliet
Ta' nofs sidirhom barra
Ja mghazzda jgieghluk taghmel hafna affarijiet
Illi mhux suppost

Jaghmlu s-sex qabel iz-zwieg
X'arukaza 'a qatta hmieg!

Ghazzenin, mahmugin
Skoss drugati u imdamdmid
Qatta zghazagh bla valuri
U imhawdin

Ghajjenin, Biss tajbin
Biex jintelqu u jahlu l-hin
"X'qed jghidulna x'wahda din?
Generazzjoni ta' meqrudin!"

La la la, la la la, la la la…
Tarhom b'ghajnejhom homor nar
Hara mejta jsuqu d-dar

Ghazzenin, mahmugin
Skoss drugati u imdamdmid
Qatta zaghzagh bla valuri
U imhawdin

Hawn ha nahtaf l-okkazjoni
U nghid 'il-kazz mhux opinjoni'

"X'qed jighdulna x'wahda din?
Generazzjoni ta' meqrudin!"

Duh! New International Law

Image: The (Not So Dead) Bin Hidin' (TAFKA BIN LADEN)

A few days after killing 18 civilians on the Pakistan-Afghani border (and incurring the wrath of Pakistanis in the process), Duh!merican counter-terrorism leader Henry Crumpton stated that he believed that Osama Bin Laden and his number two Al Zawahiri were living in that region. But of course.

The attack on the Pakistani village was confirmed by Duh!Media and attributed to the CIA. No official confirmation has been forthcoming. But the 18 people are still dead.

In the meantime I assume that top lawyers close to Bush House (not the Beeb's but the White Bush House) are formulating a new Theory of International Law. This is outlined hereunder:

The Moving Target
The new theory is based on the "Postulate of the Moving Target" wherein a sovereign nation /organisation ruled by a renegade government can unilaterally identify an Axis of Evil and a list of personalities therein who are thereafter nominated as Targets.

The Liberty to Pursue
The second axiom is that of "Liberty to Pursue" which is based on any assumption of the whereabouts of the aforementioned target and does not in any way equate with "reasonable suspicion" found in most criminal jurisdictions. The lawyers (or should I say attorneys?) have found a bit of a legal knot as they try to adapt the international "right of hot pursuit into high seas" into a similar right of "random pursuit upon legal whim into foreign jurisdiction".

The Divine Right to Bomb
Finally the third corollary of the new theory is the right to disperse bombs (and chemical weapons) upon civilians and suspects alike once a mere suspicion of the presence of moving target has been confirmed and the liberty to pursue has been activated.

Such a theory will allow states/organisations to violate other jurisdiction's territory, commit acts of violence within such territory, ignore any problems of so called "collateral damage" and ignore all other duties and obligations under international law.

There is one glitch though. This new theory of Target-Pursue-Bomb sounds a bit like someone who wakes up one morning and decides that the best way to hit his enemy is to get on a plane, hijack it and drive it into a high rise building... a nasty thought indeed!

lundi, janvier 16, 2006

A J'Accuse Website Review
As I.M. Beck tends to say, the Maltese radical right can be quite revolting. There are some individuals however whose ideas verge on the rightist while they labour under some illusion that they are centrist. I do not mind another individual having ideas different to mine nor do I mind the fact that sometimes it is evident that our ideas are so different that like parallel lines they will run on eternally and never meet. What I do look out for is people to have an interesting clash of ideas with without descending into the offensive, the personal and the banale. Hence Fausto (right?) and Mark (somewhere on the left) and others.

And it is Fausto who first flagged the new blog called The first thing that struck me was the Friends of Israel badge. It struck me as a pity for it throws a lense on whatever is said. It transforms potential debate into veritable propaganda. Because a friend of Israel will incessantly see faults in Arab nations and never believe that Zion is in the wrong. So loads of minus points on bias. Then again there is the reference to "The Clash of Civilisations on Your Desk". Credit where credit is due... at least we know where the three contributors are coming from.

Unfortunately the contributors are anonymous (like our friend Fausto). It would seem that the choice of anonymity was not exactly an easy one and that they were forced to do so because of their positions as employees of the State. Hard luck. Graphics wise I am sure that the site will improve from its current yellow blue basics in time and possibly long posts will be paragraphed. All in all I promise to maintain a curious interest in the writings of Deepdiver, Miles Melitensis and White Knight.

I cannot not comment on some issues of presentation. Take this as constructive criticism. Deepdiver ok. I read the bio and see where he is coming from. My dirty mind does worry about sexual implications but then it is me and my ramblings and tendency to like cheap dirty jokes. But Miles Melitensis and White Knight. Miles the latin for soldier. There you are - the right and militancy. If that is not enough you get a Knight... and he is (surprise, surprise) White. Explanations are given for each moniker in the FAQ section but first impressions are painful. What I am getting at is the fact that while the writings of the three individuals seem to be an honest attempt at reasoning out international relations from an intelligent perspective (albeit one which I do not fancy much), they have unfortunately thrown in a few clichè symbols that tend to inevitably water down anything they have to say.

And then they chose a Watchtower for their symbol... reminds me of that Jehovah's Witness magazine....

What next fire and brimstone?

J'Accuse Verdicts: 2.5/5
readability: Malta Independent ***
content : Subversive Journal **
openness to discussion : still to see but looks good ****
visual impact : not Dickie England's Love Monument but very Paceville Church *
Gets added to our blogroll! Hurrah!

Vexatious Vexillology II (J'Accuse)

Much as I have come to like France and the French ever since my stay in Luxembourg I still find much to say about many of their practices and politics. Take my recent rant about the media skewering of the facts of the boat incident involving a Maltese flagged ship. I was angry at the fact that the French journalists seemed more intent on the (irrelevant) fact of the Maltese flag being involved than on the crash at sea itself. Their intention to depict the Maltese sea-going flag in a bad light is ever-so evident. I wonder what our friends at Le Monde and Liberation are going to make out of this....

BBC (yep les rosbifs) reports that the Clemencau (a decommissioned French warship) has been granted transit through Egypt. Egypt is satisfied that it does not pose a threat to any environmental hazard.... to Egypt. Greenpeace (not a big fan of France - remember the Rainbow Warrior) says that the ship is carrying hundreds of tonnes of asbestos and should not be allowed to reach its destination - an Indian scrapyard.

Workers in Gujarat scrapyard will have a serious health hazard in their hands when it comes to scrapping the glorious Clemencau. For the effects of working with asbestos read this article. While France claims to have removed 15 tonnes of asbestos, Greenpeace claims that hundreds more remain. An Indian Court Commission has recommended that the boat does not enter Indian Waters. A Court ruling is expected.

A case of leur drapeau, leur bateau, leur Clemencau, leur merde I guess.

samedi, janvier 14, 2006

We Are Not Alone

"The press is like the air, a chartered libertine" - William Pitt

It seems that Maltatoday's flirting with fried potatoes has attracted someone elses attention.... from today's Times (further comments later - am in a rush to travel to France for another weekend.) I.M. Beck writes...

Get real

I sometimes enjoy a read through MaltaToday of a Sunday, though I have to admit that it sometimes irritates me no end, which is not a bad thing in a newspaper. Imagine how boring life would be if I agreed with everything I read or if everyone agreed with everything I write.

Last Sunday's edition, though, made me think a bit about the grasp on reality that the chaps responsible for the paper have. That's not to say that they go around with flowers in their hair behaving like Flower Children of the 1960s but more a reflection on the corporate ingenuousness that is sometimes in evidence.

A story on the front page put me in this frame of mind - basically, the piece talked about how Parliamentary Secretary Tony Abela's name is still linked with a bloke with whom people like Dr Abela should not be linked. Apparently, the two protagonists had been shareholders together in a couple of enterprises quite a few years ago and when the other bloke got into some spot of bother with the law, Dr Abela disengaged.

MaltaToday's grand scoop, duly exposed on the front page, was that the relevant data on the company at the MFSA still showed the two people concerned to be involved with it. At first glance, a layman might think that this was pretty damning evidence, but to people who know about these things, and the people at MaltaToday are people who know or should know about these things, all the evidence really means, in itself, is that no one has actually got around to putting the relevant paperwork through.

I'm not acting as Dr Abela's defence counsel as he is perfectly capable of doing this for himself, but I'm simply pointing out that if you're going to trumpet a scoop from your high horse, you need to have something a tad more substantial than evidence of simple administrative negligence.

There was another story, on the same front page, that lambasted Dr Carmel Mangion, a notary by trade and also a deputy leader of the jolly old Labour Party, for acting as the notary receiving the deed in connection with the purchase of Pender Place by clients of his.

Now, there's nothing - absolutely nothing - wrong with Dr Mangion acting as a notary in his professional capacity in connection with this deal, notwithstanding that the MLP machine has seen fit to dump on it quite a bit. Notaries, without wishing to diminish their professional standing, are not financial or business advisers but simply recorders of property transactions and, as such, then, there was, equally simply, no conflict of interest whatsoever on Dr Mangion's part.

Just to add some aroma to the non-smell that it was trying to report on, MaltaToday added a comment that this was tantamount to lawyers being holier than thou in Parliament when passing laws prohibiting people from doing things and then spending their working days defending people caught doing the same things that had just been prohibited.

With all due respect, which is what one says when one is being rude, this is tosh. The rule of law is based on people being given the right to a full and proper defence by counsel of their choice and the fact that a lawyer may not actually be in favour of murder or drug-dealing or whatever does not preclude him or her from acting as defence counsel.

Can't say I don't agree! Ta-ta and bon weekend.
The Orphan.

vendredi, janvier 13, 2006

And it's supposed to be funny....

I can't believe I had not read it yet. You know the thing with me and humour... I find it irresistible... and I cannot describe how angry I was that it took me so long to discover this blonde joke....

...whatsmore it is supposed to be funny.

PS. On a less funny note... Bollettino's been updated. Again.

Happy but Slow

"A report" (I apologise for the vagueness but that's the Times of Malta for you) issued yesterday by the European Commission shows that Malta is, how shall I put it, lagging behind in matters of innovation.

"The analysis compares member states on the transformation of innovation assets such as education and investment in innovation, into innovation return, such as firm turnover coming from new products, employment in high tech sectors, patents and other innovation measures."

In fact Malta ended up last (that is 25th) in the league table of innovative countries and - hear this - it is calculated that it will take Malta 50 years to catch up. From top of the world (happiness) to last in Europe (innovation) in 48 hours. Somehow I can already sense the response that we are all happy as it is.

Thank God carnival is round the corner.

PS. For the curious among you the Scoreboard can be found here.

jeudi, janvier 12, 2006

Sibtijiet Flimkien (Epizodju flash sportiv)

Image hosted by

Kemm ilni l-Lussemburgu il-genituri tieghi gew jarawni tlett darbiet. L-gharfien dwar il-Luxemburgensia ta' missieri (bhal ta' hafna minna) ma jmurx oltre id-duka u xi timijiet tal-futbol illi issemmew tul l-istorja kalcistika. Il-pa dejjem kien akkanit ta' l-istatistika tal-futbol però kulltant johrog b'wahda li ma nkunx cert minnha. Bhal meta qalli li jiftakar tim tal-futbol lussemburgiz li gie izur pajjizna "those thirty odd years ago". Qalli kellhom isimhom jispicca bil-"ange".... u hemm waqa' l-ass. Ghax ghal min ma jafx go dan il-pajjiz 99.9% tal-villagini ghandhom isem jispicca bil-"ange" fosthom Dudelange, Puttelange, Mondercange, u x'naf jien. Ergo kienet se tkun difficli il-konferma.

Izda illum is-serendipità ghogobha taghti daqqa t'id u spiccajt fuq dan is-sit fejn sibt is-segwenti informazzjoni (innutaw li r-return leg intlaghab gol famuzissimu ground "Tower Road") .

X'ma jiftakarx missieri... laghbulu kontra l-benjamini....u ghaddew is-Sliema!

Spielbericht Hinspiel:
18.09.1968 / ??.00 Uhr / Stade Municipal / Rümelingen

US Rümelingen - Sliema Wanderers 2- 1 (1- 0)

Tore: 21' Leszczynski 1- 0, 49' Leszczynski 2- 0.

Spielbericht Rückspiel:
29.09.1968 / ??.00 Uhr / Tower Road / Sliema /

Sliema Wanderers - US Rümelingen 1- 0 (0- 0)

Morning Brews & News

Reading news while sipping your tea is one of the few pleasures that an early reveille can give you. When the tea is an Earl Grey it gives the whole do the same tinge as a breakfast at a gentleman's club. I for one am prone to prefer the PG Tips thick brew with a dollop of thick milk in worker's thermos style (a preference that I share with Gary R here in Luxembourg). My love for workman's tea stops only at the terrible prospect of drinking it out of a coke bottle - a service offered by an enterprising bar (probably called "Friend to All") or kiosk in the limits of Paola.

The news is nowadays easily accessible on the net and a quick surf through the links on the right column of J'Accuse brings the latest developments to your immediate notice. The thing is that while Sharon and the European Consitution's definite demise (according to Netherlands Foreing Minister Bot) seem to dominate the headlines, my morning attention is guided more by the stomach than anything else. It was therefore inevitable that the IHT article whose headline included the words "focaccia" and "Big Mac" would take pride of place among "Interesting News to read while sipping the brew".

Apparently, McD was forced to shut down because visitors and locals in the village of Altamura (Italy) preferred good old focaccias to Big Macs. Baker DiGesu' might have needed some divine intervention but eventually the duh!merican behemoth had to lift stall, arches and all, and leave the village in peace. Fortunately for lovers of duh!culture, Altamuran resilience to the Big Mac was not due to anti-americanism (as Liberation tried to picture it) but to a culturally enhanced palate and a taste for the good, the genuine and the food that resembles what mamma does best.

So with that lovely story full of romance, wheat and a duh!merican defeat at the hands of the warriors of pasta, pizza and focaccia the day has a new savour to me (albeit too full of gluten for my taste). There is some hope in this world.

Now to read the local (Luxembourg) news which, as Majistral (one J I noticed) seems so eager to point out, is never much more exciting beyond the average "man runs over two chickens" bit. All this eagerness because Dave (as Fausto calls him) seemed to revel in the fact that Malta might not really be so happy because so much of its wankellectual fold has called it quits and upped and away to pastures new. The question is .... in this, our very own saga of local vs. international... who's the Big Mac?

A very good day to you all.

mercredi, janvier 11, 2006

Hogan's Heroes Again

Maltatoday has finally posted last Sunday's edition. I do not know why I keep hoping for this paper to do it's bit. In a way the rag run by Grumpy Balzan was a ray of light for those who awaited the politics of difference and change. Unfortunately it has not lived up to our expectations. It turns out to be more of an English version of a Labourite rant and groan with a lunge at Where's Everybody thrown in every now and then. Now of course the expectations were mine and it could very well be that Hogan had this kind of paper in mind all along.

What is missing from Maltatoday? Real opinion articles. The ones with constructive assessment and ideas. In their place we are regaled with Malta's version of pink journalism. Having no David Beckham's to haunt we stick to politicians (again). Maltatoday specialises in Minister's aides, Minister's cousins, friends of friends, speculations and conspiracies. A Labour mind for sure! It is more like Malta's Private Eye than anything else. Obviously my rant about their ranting is only just that ... a question of taste. Anybody would be justified to tell me to stop reading it if I do not like it. And I would agree. But it is such a pity. So much potential - so much space and so much GIGO.

This week we are regaled with the headliner about Notary Mangion. The poor man is guilty of having been the notary in the transaction that saw Pender Place being sold off. The very transaction that his own party criticised. Now everybody who reads this blog would know that I am not exactly a Labourite but I still find this criticism excessive. Notary Mangion has to be differentiated from Labour MP Mangion. A notary is a public officer and in the case of a sale performs his duty as such. He is supra partes and, unlike a lawyer, does not take a side in the transaction. He is the officer of government who records the transaction - representing the general public in the process. Forgive me but I do not see how Charles Mangion performing his duty (if not obligation) as a Notary could conflict with his political opinion about the sale. It is not a subtlety ... it is clear. But Maltatoday plays on the issue taking advantage of general misconceptions instead of helping to clear them. (Balzan actually misguides readers by claiming that Mangion served as notary for the buyers in the sale)

And then there is the Bondi chip. That Hogan Balzan does not like my compatriot (yep, another Gozitan) is not an unknown fact. That he takes any opportunity to hound Lou is also obvious. Now he berates Lou for accepting to host the Eurovision after spending years criticising it. For heaven's sake! I do not think that there could be anyone better than Lou (or anyone with a sense of humour and the right perspective on the competition) to host the damn show. By Hogan's reasoning Terry Wogan should have stopped commenting ages ago. But then it is not about the Eurovision is it? Surely it is another rant about Where's Everybody and the money that keeps rolling in.

Then there are his wonderful asides in editorials... look at this one about Magistrate Peralta...

"And in 1992, a protest at Ta’ Cenc hotel blocked His Excellency Richard Cachia Caruana from entering Ta’ Cenc and this led Magistrate Peralta, then just revealed in the press to be a freemason and now serving as a judge in Kosovo, to kick me off together with many others to Kordin for 24 hours."

Someone please tell me what the fact that Peralta was a freemason or that he serves as a judge in Kosovo have to do with his decision to jail protesters in 1992? Non sequitur? Or simply chips chips and more chips? Still having doubts that these are chips on the Hogan Shoulder? Read this comment about Joanna Drake...

"This time with Dr Joanna Drake who extols her dedication to the European Union cause and her consistency on Europe, as if the European Union were the equivalent of God and all the rest Beelzebub.What she does not say is that really and truly her decision to try her luck first as a member of parliament in Brussels on a Nationalist ticket, and later as the head of the European Commission’s delegation to Malta was first catalysed by the salary, then the salary and the lastly the salary."

So effing what Saviour? Where does that bring us? To understand that someone's motivation for getting a job is the salary it entails? Again, I am the last person to defend Nationalist MEPs (even potential ones) but a line has to be drawn. This kind of statement is the kind that makes me wonder where all the happy Maltese people are. This is more like it... "ara x'paga ghandu hey"... "ara kemm qed jaqla flus dak"... "dazgur u jien inhallas it-taxxi"... "ara x'ipappiha"..... Happy indeed.

Allow me to paraphrase Hogan himself to conclude:
"Dear Saviour, all the arguments that come to your mind are uttered under the false premise that the people listening to what you have to say are cretins. Welcome to the New Year folks! And guess what? This is just the beginning. "

Olympus E-500

There you have it. I forgot to mention that I have finally purchased my camera. It is a digital SLR that goes by the brand of Olympus E-500. Thank you to all those who sent in suggestions. I am very pleased with the camera and early experiments show that the right choice was definitely made.

Not much to blog about today but I did think of putting up a list of websites that are either useful or interesting. I like the idea and so here it is. Meanwhile remember... Bollettino is back up and running so scoot along to the site if you can understand Maltese...

The Useful

Google : just because
Blogger : we wouldn't be here without it
Flickr : for the photo enthusiast : more than just words
Gmail : because these days we do not send files but filing cabinets
Yahoo :especially sport section
Bloglines : follow the latest blog and news updates (not so efficient but still looking for something better)

The Interesting

Cafebabel : an interesting experiment that seems to be working
Opendemocracy : a reference point
Boing! Boing! : cool if you are into gadgets
Wired Magazine : gadgety too
Wallpaper* : design thingy
The Yahoo Office : when you are bored
Ebaumsworld : more of the bored pages
Il Bollettino della Sfiga : the gold standard of Maltese blogging - spoofing Vassalli since 1999

And finally a big shout goes to A.D. who reads this blog sometimes and disapproved of the absence of an updated FHM calendar in my bathroom at home.... cool chicks rock!

mardi, janvier 10, 2006

What's behind the smile? (ferhanin)

From the Guardian (G2): "According to the World Database of Happiness, compiled by Professor Ruut Veenhoven, of Rotterdam's Erasmus University, the 400,000 residents of this rocky Mediterranean archipelago are the most likely to describe themselves as happy - 74% did so - with Denmark, Switzerland and Colombia close behind. (The US is at 16, the UK at 21; Zimbabwe, Moldova and Ukraine came last.) "

Like other English dailies today, the Guardian reported the results of Professor Veenhoven's study about the Happy People of Europe. It turn's out that over 74% of the Maltese people are likely to describe themselves as happy. Wow!

The Gonzi government will shortly produce a spin based on this incredible statistic (surely) while Alfred Sant will probably claim that the Dutch Professor is probably receiving a backhander for this wonderful info. Tony Zarb is probably planning something militant against the offensive academic.

But the question remains... Happy about what? I mean - if I asked you if you were happy now would you say yes? Isn't it in our culture to shrug off adversity and say yes? Does that make us really happy? Or would it be more a question of satisfaction. In Maltese the questions would be different: "Int Ferhan?" as against "Int Kuntent?". Somehow I believe something got lost in translation. Not that we have no reason to be happy as a people but rather because the reporting of these results seems to be describing Malta as some kind of sunny paradise where all and sundry are happy happy people.

And I have my doubts. About being content and not about their being happy. Because at some point everyone can be ferhan about something (happy as in joy) but reaching the form of happiness that is contentment is another thing. And as far as I can tell as a people we stopped being kuntenti ages ago. Sometime after Il-Bidla tkompli.... (the Change Continues - a government slogan of the early nineties).

But then again I may be wrong.... and it is not an ignorant bliss that has hit our island but a veritable happiness. A happiness that us expats who rushed off to Brussels, Luxembourg and other lesser known bases will regret losing.

Whichever way we have a new smile after the Mona Lisa's to decipher. So tell me....

... what is everybody so bloody happy about?

"Grey Wolf" to be Released

I was almost seven years old when the news of the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II rocked the world. Mehmet Ali Agca was convicted for the attempt shortly after. The event is an indelible memory in my mind because at the time Mrs Seychell - my Grade Two teacher at St. Benild - had encouraged us to start a scrapbook with newspaper cuttings. I still have it. Under each cutting we would scrawl a short sentence describing the news item. Two items stick to my mind - the assassination attempt and the child called Alberto who fell into a well and was kept alive for days while being fed through a pipe.

The latest news now is that Agca will be released. He has served enough time for good-behaviour. His relationship with the late Pope is known to all and few would doubt that John Paul would be happy for Agca's release. Others might not be so enthusiastic though. The motivation for the attempt is still a question mark. Investigators are quite convinced that it was a Soviet plan to get rid of the pope who would in fact be a great instrument in the downfall of the Soviet Union. Conspiracy theories abound. Below I reproduce some of the biggest question marks that remain. They are taken from today's Times.

From scrap book to blog... it's been one hell of a ride.

1 Who organised the murder attempt? Was it the KGB? Or the GRU, Soviet military intelligence? Did Sergei Antonov, the Bulgarian manager of Balkan Air’s office in Rome, direct the operation as prosecutors alleged? (He was acquitted)

2 Did Ali Agca act alone? Investigators say there were at least six shots, but Agca said he fired two. Photographs of the scene suggest that at least one of Agca’s fellow “Grey Wolves”, Oral Celik, was also in the square

3 Were there Soviet agents in the Vatican? There are persistent reports that agents of the KGB, the Polish secret service and the Stasi, the East German security service, had infiltrated the Pope’s entourage

4 Where did Agca get the gun, a .22 Browning? He claimed under interrogation to have got it from a “student” in Sofia in the summer of 1980

5 What happened to Emanuela Orlandi, kidnapped in 1983 at the age of 15 to force Italy to hand over Agca in exchange? Is she dead? Living in Italy under an assumed name? Living in Turkey?

6 Why is Agca obssessed with the Third Secret of Fatima, which allegedly foretold of a world conflagration, perhaps between Christianity and Islam? Why did John Paul donate the bullet extracted from his abdomen to the Fatima shrine in Portugal?

lundi, janvier 09, 2006

Vexatious Vexillology

Gybexi has already blogged about this one. Not about vexillology. Nor about being vexatious... though I think he could be if he put his mind to it. No. What I am referring to is the incident in International Waters (the English Channel side) between the "Sichem Pandora" and the "Kleine-Familie". In case you are wondering we are talking of ships. The first is a Maltese registered chemical transporter (chimiquier), the second is a French registered fishing vessel. It would seem that the Sichem Pandora was the cause of the sinking of the Kleine-Familie (today the procureur de Cherbourg confirmed this theory after examining paint traces on the Sichem) and the subsequent loss of five French sailors.

Now I am sure that all readers are aware that ever since the Erika incident the French don't hold the Maltese Maritime Flag much to heart. Even though French justice acquitted the Maltese government of all responsibility, the general feeling in the hexagon is that Maltese ships are always up to no good.

Which brings me back to the Sichem Pandora. Right now all proof seems to indicate that the captain and crew of Sichem Pandora are guilty of some seriously illegal hit and run on the high seas. If the proof stands then they are guilty as hell of ramming the Kleine-Familie, its sinking and the deaths of five sailors. There is no way out of that.

What DOES irk me is the way the French media insist on reporting the incident by referring to it as "the incident of the Maltese vessel". The French journalists are hitching a cheap ride on the unfounded notoriety of Maltese ships among French society to sensationalise the story even more. No matter how you read the story it seems that the fact that the ship is registered in Malta has something o do with the criminally negligent action of the captain and crew. In truth the only link with Malta in this case is that the action against the captain and crew has to be taken in Maltese courts - since they are the courts of jurisdiction (action occurred in High Seas).

I am literally pissed off at this cheap slandering of my country. Malta had absolutely no control over the acts of the captain and crew. Imagine reading a news report of a negligent car driver who ran over some pedestrians... but instead of the usual headline it would read something like this "Italian Registered Car Causes Three Deaths". You would never read that would you? It would be more like "Libyan Man Arraigned in Court for Dangerous Driving" (as we saw recently in the New Year's Paceville driving frenzy).

Somehow the French have not got over the fact that Malta was not to blame for Erika. They rarely ever mention RINA - the Italian certifying agency that gave Erika the go ahead. They hardly ever mention the fact that Erika was refused entry into French ports and was left to its fate. Selective journalism is not just a Maltese trait. Oh No Siree... it's a flag flown by journalists of all nations....

Le Monde
France Info
(Curiously the written article on France Info does not emphasise the Maltese link like the Radio Version)

Nigel of Albion

Another reason why the beautiful game can be so great. Lowly Burton Albion held Manchester United to a goalless draw in an FA Cup fixture. The team, nicknamed the Brewers, are coached by Nigel Clough - son of the legendary (and sadly departed) Brian Clough. My favourite game on my Commodore 64 was Brian Clough's Football Fortunes. No managerial game today can equal the anticipation with which game players would watch the tickertape type out the latest results...

... anyone want to buy John Barnes? I'll trade him for Jan Molby!

Sibtijiet Flimkien (l-10 ep.)

Hsibijet Fis-Sena l-Gdida

Erba' Taht iz-Zero
Is-sewqa lejn l-gholja ta' Kirchberg dalghodu kienet wahda imsebbha bil-gmiel li taf toffri biss xitwa nordika (jekk tista' issejjah id-dukat pajjiz nordiku). It-temperatura kienet timmarka erba' gradi taht iz-zero izda ma kienx hemm ghalfejn titwila lejn it-termometru biex tinduna li barra kien il-bard. L-ispettaklu viziv li toffri ghodwa xitwija, anki gewwa belt, huwa indeskrivibbli. Sabiha wisq il-loghba tac-cpar bajdani li jostor kull xena sa l-ahhar mument imbaghad fl-ahhar minuta jurik dehra ohra ta' silg fiddien li jiddekora kull ma huwa wieqaf... mill-frieghi tas-sigar li donnhom ghazlu s-silg biex jghattu l-ghera taghhom sal-pilastri tad-dwal tat-traffiku illi jitilfu d-dehra dixxiplinuza taghhom u ghal dan iz-zmien jidhru iktar qishom dwal ta' sigra tal-milied.

Fuq il-windscreen iffurmaw ruhhom capep ta' silg illi fihom stajt tara l-meravilji geometrici tan-natura bid-dizinni imtennija ghal darba tnejn u mija sakemm jiffurmaw forom mill-isbah illi lanqas l-aqwa kalejdoskopju uman ma jista' jlahhaq maghhom. U l-aqwa parti tibqa' meta tasal fuq il-pont li jghaqqad l-belt mal-parti tal-istituzzjonijiet. Dak li-istess pont tas-suwicidi illi jekk tarah minn taht, minn gewwa l-Grund jidher il-boghod, il-boghod. GHax is-soltu mill-bidu tal-pont tilmah il-bini kollu istituzzjonali li jsejjahlek ghax-xoghol bhall dik il-mishuta qampiena ta' bejn il-lezzjonijiet f'San Alwigi. Izda illum bahh. Tant kien hemm cpar li kien qisu bhal donnu nizlu l-aljeni u ghosfru l-bini kollu f'hakka t'ghajn. U tersaq bil-mod fuq il-pont b'dak il-limitu ta sewqan tal-hamsin kilometru u bil-mod l-mod jibdew jidhru... is-sigar, is-silg u fl-ahhar it-torrijiet. U l-holma xitwija li kien ser ikollok forced leave (u mhux "leaf" jekk joghgobkom) sakemm jergghu jinstabu l-officini toghsfor b'hasda bhal dik li kellek meta ftaht il-bieb u hadt l-ewwel nifs ta' arja kiesha.

Colin Cauchi, Mario Meli et al
Nhar il-Hadd li ghadda qattajtha go Metz. Kont diga tlift ir-rebha sublimi tal-Juventus go Palermo. U tlift il-loghob kollu ta' wara nofsinhar, izda pattejt ghax kilt dundjan divin imsajjar biz-zebbug ghand omm it-tfajla. Jiena u nsuq lura lejn Lussemburgu bil-ghan wahdani li nilhaq Serie A fuq il Canale 5 u nara l-goals kollha irnexxieli b'miraklu naqbad ir-Rai fil-karozza. U tkexkixt bil-gost. Ghax bhal dak il-hoss m'hemmx. Sabih wisq. Ifakkrek f'elf harga tal-familja. Ifakkrek f'kemm thobb lil missierek ghax fost l-ohrajn ghalmek thobb x'inhu importanti fil-hajja. Bhall futbol per ezempju. (Anki ghallimni ma nzommx ma timijiet bhal ma jzomm hu... bhall Inter jew Chelsea... ghax wiehed dam hamsin sena sakemm rebah league u l-iehor "on the way"). Izda fuq kollox ftakart f'hag'ohra li kienet harbitli ghall mument mill-memorji kurrenti (RAM) u dahlitli fil-qiegh nett tal-menti.

Ghax ftakart f'meta l-Pa kien iqajjimna fis-sitta nieqes hamsa. Konna nisimghu il-hoss tas-serduk fuq Radju Malta u sakemm ninhaslu u nibdew nilbsu l-unifromi ikunu inqraw il-"Grajjiet Ewlenin" u inkunu wasalna ghar-rokna sportiva ma Mario Meli, Colin Cauchi, Henry Calleja et al. U l-isbah jum kien ikun il-Hamis filghodu. L-ghada tat-Tazza tac-Champions. Kont nehda nisma lill-kummentaturi Maltin jissieltu mal-pronuncja tat-timijiet kontinentali. Ghax mit-taljani ftit kien hemm cans jithawdu - hlief forsi xi wiehed bhal missieri li jiffissa li mhux "Udinese" imma "UNdinese". Imma meta tismaghhom jithabtu mar-Real Madrid... marija marelli.... dlonk il-merengues isiru "ree-uhl mudd- rid" (pronuncja fonetika ingliza), it-tazza issir tac-chumppjins, il-ballun isir ballum u ma nghidilkhomx x'kien jigri fil-kaz tal- Bronbyrnes, Panathinaikos u Steaua Bucharest.

Kien zmien iehor meta kont niftakar kull score ma' l-ewwel darba li nisimghu. Kont inkun kapaci nghid l-ewwel hames pozizzjonijiet ta' kull klassifika importanti fl-Ewropa ( u fil-kaz tat-taljani anki kemm skurjaw goals u kemm qalghu). U dan minghajr l-internet. Kellna biss lil Mario Meli, Colin Cauchi et al. Xi kulltant sabih tikkuntenta bil-ftit ghax iktar gost. U jekk ghadkom ma qrajtuhx aqbdu Fever Pitch ta' Nick Hornby u tifhmuni.

Ewro Fever
Mhux fil-futbol imma fil-munita. Qabduha kollha dwar il-munita. Jien qrajt ir-rapport. Qrajt lit-Twanny ukoll. Ghadni opinjoni però ghal ragunijiet legali se jkollil inzommha ghalija. Però xtaqt nitfa t-tuppens tieghi (jew two cents jew zewg centezmi). Xtaqt nipproponi li bil-Malti insemmuwa "il-Marelli" .... Immaginaw il-konverzazzjoni....

M. Kemm il-marelli tiswa dik il-karozza?
T. Hafna marelli.

M. Islifni sitt marelli jekk joghgbok.
T. Mela hsibtni qed nahra il-marelli?

M. U l-Ministru tal-Finanzi?
T. Dak mohhu biss fil-marelli.

Il-Gimgha t-tajba.