mardi, octobre 31, 2006

Standby for Inaction

Esteemed (and less esteemed) readers of this blog are advised that due to an incredible fuck up in installing new hardware at 22 rue de bragance that would have allowed my Mac to speak to my TV and my stereo as well as to my Playstation but has instead resulted in a complete breakdown of commmunications, blogging shall be scarce today, tomorrow and Thursday (probably inexistent).

Readers are advised to limit their unassisted thinking time to the minimum and to avoid forming opinions at all costs unless supervised by a conceited adult like myself. Should they be assailed by a sudden need to think, a warm bath followed by grissini dipped in nutella and a hot chocolate is recommended. Do not exceed the daily stated dose. Remember that Objects in the Rear View Mirror generally tend to be Behind You and that Steps can go both Up and Down at the same time. Just like your luck, your humour and in the case of male readers ... like your favourite football team's fortunes.

Enjoy the break. Coz it is a break.

samedi, octobre 28, 2006

I.M. Jack - ninth edition

The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause. Mark Twain.
I.M. Jack - the news shortcut

1. Discount
Last minute October sales came for three teams - Lazio, Fiorentina and Juventus - all had their penalties reduced. As Serie A still struggles for an identity without its favourite team, AC Milan were the only team to have their penalty stay as it was.

2. Borat
The heat is on as the release date in Europe approaches. Controversy abounds including ridiculous accusations of fomenting anti-semitism. Does parody of anti-semitism cause anti-semitism? And did Hashet beget Japhet or did they just adopt him at a supermart?

3. Budget
Debate continued about Viagra and other machisms. Yesterday Governor Gonzi was busy explaining how the discount on the surcharge is another Good Thing brought to the World by the Nationalist Government. Like the Departure tax, the discounted surcharge was originally a PN measure. Sant is meanwhile still lost in viagristic vagaries.

4. Failure
The President of the US of A is still struggling to find a comfortable definition of Failure. His approach is basically to shift the goalposts by successive minimalist definitions of Success. He should learn some lessons from the PN spin masters. He should definitely steer away from Alfossa though. "Our mission in Irak has been like a Viagra to the people?" naah... definitely a no-go for the Mid-Terms.

5. Phosphorous
Israel admitted to using white phosphorous on troops - an action that is contrary to the Geneva Conventions. As we post there is still no mention of a US invasion to repristinate democracy and Human Rights in Tel Aviv.

6. Death
On a personal note we must excuse ourselves for the feeble blogging that might ensue in the next few days. Death always has this mind numbing existential effect on us.

7. Food
Kebabs have proven to be (as always) the valuable meal when all else is too time-consuming or expensive. Whether in Etain, Metz or Luxembourg always look out for a good Turk. And then they say that they should not join the EU.... Join? They practically feed us!

jeudi, octobre 26, 2006

In Vin a Veritas (TGIL)

Lorna has abandoned the field of political statistics to return to the intellectually laden fields of theatre. Her article this week is an ad for the presentation of a Vinaver play somewhere in Malta (does not say where). Apparently the French playwright's work has been translated to the vernacular by the Dame herself much to the surprise of university lecturer Richard Spiteri. Here are a few gems from her presentation:

Writers are made of the same fabric as we are. But they see things differently. That is why I enthusiastically await a Vinaver's version of reality. To see all through his eyes not yours or mine. But some may justly (rightly?) ask who he is. A Vinaver indeed. A Michel Vinaver. A contemporary French writer who has taken first France and, later, the world by storm. A creator of theatre who can only be described theatrically. A lecturer of la Sorbonne (Credit S101: la Sorbonne). His 1964 play Hôtel Iphigenie was turned into a TV film and one of the more recent plays by the same author include 11th September 2001 (actually the most recent play by Vinaver IS "11th September 2001" - and it premiered in LA in 2005).

Vinaver's life as an author leaves nothing to be desired. Also known as France's translator of Shakespeare and T.S. Eliot's Waste Land, his works have been translated, published, studied, applauded and criticised (one would add performed). His repute (as in ill repute?) nowadays is, beyond any doubt, an international one.


Especially appealing to Francophiles, this year I have taken the opportunity to delve deeper into the mystical French language as well as its psyche (The Mystique and Psyche of the French Language - I foresee a bestseller) through the Vinaver medium (is the fact that she delved deeper especially appealing to Francophiles?). When I told Richard Spiteri, a university lecturer, about my idea, (this comma is brought to you by Yellow Pages) I guess he thought I will never spend so many hours translating. However, I was more than pleased to show him he had highly underestimated my enthusiasm (do we ever?).

So, this year's work, which is a comedy, started off at the translation stage. A translation that included a transposition and adaptation of the environment from a French one to a Maltese one, to the point of including some Maltese (very) popular names on stage instead of the unfamiliar French ones. The humour, therefore, also starts off with the casting and the choice of characters' names. (Don't you just cringe at the thought? The creative pen of the Gramatically Challenged transforming a Jacques into a Zeppi and a Celine to an Eileen?)

The end-product is surprisingly Maltese. The actors will include Tony Ellul (main actor as well as director), Veronica Farrugia (main actress), Mariella Aquilina (Pamela, the mature journalist), Olivia-Anne Pace Marmara (Daphne, the not-so-less influential journalist), David Rizzo (the hamallu), Sarah Lee Zammit (the over-ambitious journalist trying to break through), Dorian Micallef (Magistrate Xuereb) and Joelene Penza (seemingly-idiotic-involuntarily-philosophic secretary). (There you go... the cheap jibe at Daphne... and for a minute I thought that Olivia-Ann and Sarah Lee were invented stage names!)

I don't know about you but I know where I am going to be on November 4th after 6. And that's definitely not watching Lorna Vassallo's Hamallisation of Vinaver's The Television Programme. Bet you she'll be expecting many a "Prosit tal-Programm" though!

mercredi, octobre 25, 2006



It was the shortest day of the year, which was convenient because it fitted neatly with the longest night. why I like Pratchett. A sentence out of Wintersmith, the latest book by the Master.

Lawrence Wenngrodd

The countdown to the greatest film this year has begun. Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan will be out on November 3rd. For the benefit of some curious fans here are a couple of articles that might satisfy your curiosity about the behind the scenes. The idea of Duh!mericans examining whether "victims" of "guerilla comedian" Sacha Baron Cohen can sue him for making them look like complete dorks is quite intriguing. This is particularly so when it is evident that every joke/gag is a fraud in a way and therefore it should not really be about detecting fraud or otherwise but whether you want to legalise humour of that kind or not....

"Borat tricked me!" from
"Behind the Schemes" from Newsweek
"Respek!" on
Borat on Wikipedia
Official Borat Homepage
Borat on Myspace

Grow Up

I found this article on the Telegraph thanks to Art & Literature Daily. It's an interesting read (it's interesting because I agree with what it says of course) and I suggest that you take some time and read it. Meanwhile here is the guide to Being an Adult that is found at the end of the article:

How to be an adult

Don't be affronted Being affronted (or offended, or complaining about 'inappropriateness') is no response for a grown-up. Only children believe the world should conform to their own view of it: a sort of magical thinking that can only lead to warfare, terrorism, unmanageable short-term debt and the Blair/Bush alliance.

Mistrust anything catchy, whether it's the Axis of Evil, advertising slogans, or blatant branding ('New Labour'). Catchiness exists to prevent thought and to disguise motive. Grown-ups can think for themselves.

Ignore celebrities, except when they are doing what they are celebrated for doing: acting, playing football et cetera. Skill does not confer moral, political or intellectual discrimination. (Except in the case of writers. Writers know everything and can lecture you with impunity.) If a celebrity is not celebrated for doing anything but being a celebrity, smile politely but pay no notice.

We should not assume that market forces will decide wisely. The market is rigged by manipulation and infantilisation.

Consider our own motivations. We may rail about being treated like children, ordered about, kept from the truth, nannied and exploited… but are we complicit in it? Could the reward actually be infantilisation itself?

Autonomy is the primary marker of being grown up. Babies, children and adolescents don't have any. We don't want to be in their boat.

Suspect administration Its purpose is to free the organisation to do what it's meant to do: but the triumph of the administrators - the lawyers, the accountants, the professional managers - means that too many organisations now believe that what they are meant to do is administer themselves. This is a profoundly infantile attitude.

Do not love yourself unconditionally. Such love is for babies and comes from their mothers. Ignore fashion, particularly in clothes. You don't want to look like a teenager for ever.

Never do business with a company offering 'solutions' as in 'ergonomic furniture solutions which minimise the postural strain associated with sitting' (chairs) and 'Post Office mailing solutions' (brown paper). The word suggests we have a problem, but since we are grown-ups, that is for us to decide.

Denounce relativism at every turn. Shouting 'not fair' is childish. Demanding respect without earning it is childish. Don't fear seriousness. Babies aren't allowed to be serious.

Watch our language. Is there really much difference between a six-year-old in a fright-wig and his father's waders shouting 'I'm the Mighty Wurgle-Burgle-Urgley-Goo' and an ostensible grown-up demanding to be called 'Tony Blair's Respect Tsar'?

Hide Grown-ups are not required to be perpetually accountable, while the instincts of government and big business, both of which are, almost by their nature, great infantilisers, are to keep an eye on everyone all the time.

Eat it up There is nothing more babyish than having dietary requirements.

Never vote for, do business with or be pleasant to anyone who uses the words 'ordinary people'.

mardi, octobre 24, 2006

Who's everybody?

Everyone is expecting me to pronounce my verdict on the budget.
- Saviour Balzan, Malta Today.

Ermmm.... Not. Damn. Should have left sleeping Hogan's lie. But really, who's everyone?

The End of an Era

The Indy announces the news that a 100-year old tradition will end next year. It appears that in reply to questionnaires sent out by the College, parents of children attending St. Aloysius' College felt that the system of Wednesday-Off Saturday-School was disrupting family life. Parents who had no choice but leave their children alone at home on Wednesday were not happy about this arrangement.

Having been an Aloysian for over seven years I am not impressed by this pussy-footing attitude. First of all whatever happened to the strictness of the Jesuit formation? That strictness that is resented all through your formative years but that is slowly (very slowly) appreciated afterwards. And what's all this business of the poor mummies and daddies who cannot leave little baby Anaximander at home?

For heaven's sake, Wednesday at home is what makes us different. It's what allows you to learn how to cook. It's that day for those adventures into the tunnels of Manoel Island, into Sacred Heart Convent grounds with Prof Edward Mallia running after you like a deranged australopithecus. It's how you get used to poring over every single item in the Times in the morning (when the Social & Personal Column provides the exact amount of reading until the chips are well fried). It's the first cigarette, the first porn, the first everything practically. And what will they punish the students with now? "Come in next Saturday" does not have the same feel as "Detention on Wednesday", does it?

I never thought I would ever be speaking about the loss of the stiff fibre that society was made of in my childhood. I always thought that that kind of stuff was reserved to the Conservative grandads reminescing a younger age. Well humbug to that. I think changing this 100-year old tradition is the worst thing the Jesuits could have done since the Inquisition. I think they should round up all the parents who answered in such a pussy-like fashion in the big hall, make them look up at the Knight which adorns the ceiling and then force them to choose... either SAC with Wednesday off, Saturday on or just send their bloomin' wusses to another school that will be glad to grovel and pander to their kiddy widdies needs. Like St. Edward's for example.

Non Sequitur #62

Sky TV

Ascolti tv, un successo per Sky: domenica dalle ore 15 alle 17 ha fatto il 13,77% di share, 2.033.000 spettatori. E' stata la quarta televisione (picco di share alle 16.52 con il 15,6%) e ha ottenuto il miglior risultato stagionale. Questa la serie A, che col posticipo serale, Milan-Palermo, ha fatto intorno all'8%. Con la serie B, sabato pomeriggio, Sky ha raccolto uno share altissimo, 16,13%, seconda tv dietro a Canale 5. Picco di ascolto alle 17.06 con il 17,99%. Grazie Juventus...

from La Repubblica

lundi, octobre 23, 2006

We Aten't Dead (yet)

Gybexi sniffed out the smell of dead people. It doesn't take much of a Sixth Sense to begin to worry that the various appearing/disappearing acts on the Maltese blogosphere could easily be depicted in a Thriller like movie (cue Xifer surfacing from the earth with a haggardly Crouchy look *make up of course* and approaching the camera). I guess I had got used to it by now. Some blogs are not meant for discussion, they are merely (maybe not the right word) personal diaries... read if you will. Others get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life (not the hedgerow) and tend to vanish for some time. Others still succumb to the need to get a better (or worse) life away from the daily meanderings on the keyboard. So?

Barring some dyspesic hiccups over the time between some bloggers I think that the blogosphere is as smooth as ever. Factor in the fact that none of us blog for a living, multiply it by the incredible fact that it exists at all and then divide it by a minimum reality check and hey presto... all of a sudden you feel good about the Maltese blogosphere.

There's loads out there who blog more often. I cannot keep track of the various newbies who have sprouted but I get the feeling that many more are trying their luck. At what? For now it is still the same as when it begun... at surviving... at having some form of interaction. We do not have an international exposure and nationally we are not exactly your Times of Malta. But we are there. Life is breathed into the Maltese blogosphere every day. My bloglines list gets and average of six to seven new posts daily. Not bad for a corpse. Of course it is not your Olympic athlete either...

Seeing that Halloween is round the corner... how about a Festival of Corpses? Feel free to submit your post... I'll try to give the thing a semblance of a Carnival notwithstanding my limited coordinating capabilites. So just send in (or add in the comments) your link to your post - preferably with a corpsy theme... let your imagination wander.... Twanny... we're waiting for your new blog...

Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y'awl's neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse's shell
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller

White Phosphorous (reprise)

from the international desk:
Does anyone remember the controversy that flared on the Maltese blogosphere (and other places) regarding the use of White Phosphorous by Duh!merican troops in Irak. The MK77 saga ended with a US admission. Almost a year has passed and now another member of the Alliance of Selective Democracy has admitted the use of White Phosphorous. From the BBC:

Israel has for the first time admitted it used controversial phosphorus shells during fighting against Hezbollah in Lebanon in July and August. (...) The Geneva Conventions ban the use of white phosphorus as an incendiary weapon
against civilian populations and in air attacks against military forces in civilian areas.

Meanwhile, in the Dark Continent, spare a thought for the UN envoy Mr Pronk who is being expelled from Sudan after comments on his blog:

"Morale in the government army in north Darfur has gone down," he wrote. "Some
generals have been sacked; soldiers have refused to fight."

and now for something completely different:
We note with interest that Schumi the Terrible did not win his last Championship. Insofar as hated rivals go we also note that Rigetta slipped away from the head of the Campionato while the indestructible Inter were also held to a draw allowing the glorious Mafia Army to catch up after a deserved victory in San Siro against the devils. Palermo, Catania and Fiorentina... teams really worth watching in this year's campionato until the return of the Greatest Team Ever. Back home Valletta march on as an old derby ended in a stalemate which means that Floriana will be savouring the bottom berths while the City enjoys this revival. They think it's all over?

dimanche, octobre 22, 2006

I.M. Jack - eighth edition

i.m. jack - last week in perspective

Welcome to a late Sunday night edition of i.m. jack. It was budget week and so in complete agreement with Daphne we will talk of better, more interesting things. Like blogs. Fausto is right. Daphne is wrong. There are no far-right bloggers. Our freakiness has not taken us that far. We blog... they forage. Anyways... here is the week in brief:

1. Admission
As the week came to a close we also got the first signs of admission that all is not well on the Iraq front. We even heard someone in the top brass of the Duh!merican Multinational Invasion Forces admit that Duh! States have been stupid and arrogant in their approach to Iraq. Meanwhile in his usual shifting the posts routin non-nobel prize winner Dubya Bush redefined the goals for Iraq for the millionth time. Next month he is expected to announce that the Duh!Merican invasion will be deemed to have succeeded if the Iraqi capital is Baghdad. Next month we will be hoping that the Duh!Merican nation starts to prove it is not so Duh!merican after all.

2. Revising Superlatives
Hats off, mourning and all regarding 9/11 and all that - do you remember how positively awed we were by the efficiency of the Duh!merican recovery? Do you recall how fast Ground Zero was cleared and how we had the announcements that something bigger was to be built in its stead? The duh1 culture of great, big and fast was in full swing. The first reaction would be to rebuild bigger and better. This culture is to be revised after the latest discovery of human remains at a building site on Ground Zero. The duh!nizens are waking up to the reality of imperfection. Of human flaws. There's nothing wrong in the mistake. There's nothing wrong in admitting that the crews that worked day and night might have missed something out. We know that. We live in Europe - the continent where the only superlatives relate to good food, good time and good living. The duh!mericans would do well to lift a page out of our book and get a bit of Normality Inc. in their lives.

3. Sino-Korean Relations
It seems that China will begin putting pressure on renegade leader Kim Bang Boom of Korea. The leader, formerly much loved in the Socialist Republic of Malta, is expected to bow down to pressure from Beijing failing any appearance by His Domness to placate him.

4. Red Barons
Schumacher, the second evil German with that name after Harald, will bow out of formula one tonight. I am hoping he will bow out losing. Could never stand the chap. i am also hoping that Massa will do well next year.. so you see... it has nothing to do with Ferrari.

5. Juventus
6th win on the trot. Breathing positive air. At this rate they'll be topping Serie A by Xmas.

6. Food
This short roundup ends with a pointer which might be a repetition but hell I am in hurry. Mousel Canteen in Luxembourg. Jarret de porc, feves and all... a divinity. Dedicated to Hubewt "Wasputin" Dalli who insisted on ordering Boffewding in the establishment.

samedi, octobre 21, 2006

Flights of Convenience

In case you missed it, here's my letter to the Times:

It does not take much to notice that the airports served by Air Malta (the public service carrier) leave a gaping hole in the middle of Europe. Just about in the middle of that hole lies the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, host to three of the European institutions and a community of 200 plus Maltese.

Thanks to the archaic electoral laws of our country these 200 plus workers will in all probability not be eligible to vote in the next general election. I am not sure that the latter is an inconvenience but insofar as inconveniences are concerned I would like to share a few statistics with readers.

These relate to the time it takes to get to the airports served by Air Malta (add three hours of flight and approximately three hours of waiting/check-in and airport connections to each) from Luxembourg.

It takes you three hours to get to Brussels Airport, four hours to get to Paris and four hours to get to Frankfurt. On a normal trip to Malta via Brussels one would have to leave Luxembourg train station at two in the afternoon to land in Malta International Airport at 11 p.m. (that's nine hours later).

I am glad to note that it is not my predisposition to be a dissatisfied (non)-voter that leads me to remark that the service lies between the unsatisfactory and the non-existent. A number of letters have already appeared in this newspaper lamenting the lack of direct flights provided by Air Malta. I would venture further.

Should any of the planners at the national airline deem the trip to be non-cost effective (which should not really be a consideration in these days of Public Service Carriage) I would suggest that the government issues a new call for LCCs to serve a Frankfurt-Hahn or Metz-Nancy (both one and a half hours away from Luxembourg) to Malta route.

That way we could all "spread our wings and fly".

and here is one by Peter Xuereb on the same matter:

Given that "in a recent interview, MTA chairman Sam Mifsud said that he did not believe the drop in the number of visitors had anything to do with the Maltese product but rather with the fact that the number of flights to the island had gone down, taking away prospective tourists from large markets such as Germany" (Malta Well Liked By Winter Tourists, October 10), it is most surprising that no mention has yet been made of a Ryanair Malta - Frankfurt (Hahn) connection (Ryanair Wants More Routes, October 5). This route would provide prospective German tourists with a low cost/high volume alternative; the Maltese with access to another low-cost hub in Europe; and would directly cover the Luxembourg area, which is evidently underserved (Stranded In Luxembourg, October 2).

Should competition with Air Malta be a major concern, it should be pointed out that, despite its name, Hahn is situated over 130 km (by road) to the west of the city of Frankfurt - which renders the routes in question significantly different.

I'm loving it.

I.M. Jack will not be appearing today since I have just returned from Metz and will be off to the cinema in a few minutes. It will be posted tomorrow.

vendredi, octobre 20, 2006

Public Service Carrier

“Air Malta is ready to compete against low-cost carriers as long as they compete on a level playing field.” - Investment Industry and Information Technology Minister Austin Gatt.

The referee calls the shots. The referee sets out the rules. In this case the rule is that the LCCs have to play with a handicap. What we need to understand is how denying access to all routes for LCCs is considered a "level playing field". What we really need to know is why Air Malta benefits from the description of being a Public Service Carrier - supposedly at the service of the Maltese travelling public, serving routes where the Maltese want to travel - when 80% of the tickets sold in its last marketing campaign were sold abroad. That means that only one out of every five persons travelling on Air Malta is a Maltese Citizen using this Public Service. We will have to just sit and hope that by June 2007 - the date set by the magnanimous PN government for the cutback on the departure tax - these statistics will shift in favour of better use of the public service by the public it is deemed to serve. There are too many contradictions in the current policy.


Public Service Carrier: This concept encompasses the view that the carrier actually provides a service that would otherwise not be provided since it is not commercially viable. It allows a level of protectionism in favour of the carrier in order to allow it to minimise the damages of its operating in an otherwise unprofitable market.

Level Playing Field: A market condition that ensures that all participants are subject to the same rules.

Low Cost Carrier: Airline operating on low costs. This is generally thanks to a special modus operandi like out-sourcing of services, cutdowns on free inflight service and special ticketing systems (such as non-paper tickets).

Label the Nations Day

I thought of a game today. Picture those little warning labels or mini-instruction signs you see on products everywhere. Now think of one particular one and then link it to a country of your choice. Hey Presto... it's "Label the Nation". So J'accuse declares today a "Label the Nation" Day and readers are invited to submit their suggestions. I promise to make a post with all the ideas once we have a good number. Incidentally I am told that the Comments link does not always work in all browsers (Firefox for example - thanks Gary). While we are working on solving the problem I found a roundabout way of posting Comments. You basically link on the Post Title in the archives (Hot Off the Press) section - then you should be able to post comments. Also in a magnanimous move I will also start allowing anonymous comments again. Remember "Stupid is what stupid does".

So here are my ideas to set the ball rolling:

May Contain Traces of Nuts
United States of America
Keep Refrigerated
This Side Up
No Animals Have Been Harmed in the Production of this Film
Parental Advisory: Explicit Content
May Contain Small Parts
Remember: Objects in the Mirror are actually Behind You
May Cause Drowsiness
Danger Explosives
North Korea
Handle With Care

jeudi, octobre 19, 2006

Some Serious Nonsense

Luxembourg is hoping that the joint Benelux bid for the 2018 World Cup will put the Grand Duchy on the map. Some countries really have to strive to get some publicity. Others spend dollops of public money on branding and advertising campaigns on international networks like CNN then try to retract the campaign only to find that they cannot. Others decide that the best way to get everyone's attention is by developing a nuclear bomb and not keeping mum about it. Then there are those countries that just never go away no matter how much you wish they would vanish for a while...

One country that will probably be the star of November is Kazakhstan. It's still October and we are almost a month away from Borat's new movie but the Kazakh government is already in the news. First we had the great spelling mistake in the banknotes issued by the Kazakh central bank. More than spelling it was a typographical error as to the proper representation of the letter K. Apparently the one on the notes is reminescent of the USSR.

Then there is the reaction to Borat's guide to America (Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan). The Kazakh tob nobs did not cut too good a figure when they issued an official complaint. Now the Deputy Foreign Minister has done a little bit of backtracking and invited Sacha Baron Cohen over while going so far as saying: "We must have a sense of humour and respect the creative freedom of others." That's two points to Kazakhstan and nul points to the MLP machine that reacted to Tanti Burlesque's cartoons.

Unfortunately Otau - Kazakhstan's largest chain of cinemas - will not show the Borat movie. They consider the movie "offensive, a complete lie and nonsense". Mr Sultanov the distribution manager concluded his justification of the movie shutout with these words:

It's a shame that probably some Americans will probably believe what they see there.

Which makes me wonder. Who is the daftest? The insulted Kazakh or the gullible Duh!merican. They just won't vanish will they? And yet... hope springs eternal.

BBC on Kazakh Banknotes
BBC on Borat and Kazakhstan


There's a thing I have with travelling to Malta. So little time and so many places to visit, so much food to try and so many people to meet. It normally means that blogging is kept to a bare minimum - or to none at all by the standards of my last visit. I try to keep mental notes about all the things I have seen and would have loved to blog about. In the end the mental unpacking is unsatisfactory to say the least. It's just as bad as unpacking a suitcase - I am never that good at it. As I type there are still the little remnants of my last unpacking venture spread on my spare bed. They are disassembled there - bits of wires and chargers, packets of twistees, magazines, t-shirts and other odd flotsam and jetsam that washed off the edge of the jam-packed suitcase and onto my bed. Anyways. Here is a little mental run-through of all that I remember (more or less).

#1 the Wet Toothbrush
A useful item never to be forgotten. The toothbrush is normally packed last since it HAS to be used before the 10 hour journey back home. The only problem is that it stays humid wrapped in its plastic bag till you unpack it to its designated place in your bathroom. In a way it reminds me of Air Malta. Notwithstanding all the criticisms aimed at travelling in and out of Malta, the national carrier remains the most economic way of getting to the island, even if this means leaving Luxembourg six hours before take off. I was pleasantly surprised by the new inflight movie. We got to see "Cheaper by the Dozen" - not normally my choice of flick but still kills off part of the three hour trip. For the price you pay you still get an inflight meal and free-flowing Kinnie. The efficiency of the staff, the quick check-in (Flypass helps) and the drink lead to what always turns out to be a positive flight experience. In my book all that Air Malta needs is to concentrate on what it can do well and free the space for all the rest that is unreachable due to a variety of considerations. Government backed protectivism should not be so tight and if it cannot reach areas like Central Europe (read Luxembourg) it should allow other airlines - like Ryanair - to fill the gap (read Frankfurt Hahn). Otherwise thumbs up for the carrier with the Maltese Cross.

#2 Alka Seltzer
Always in my suitcase. Always first out and back into the Medicine Box. The best remedy for a good night out. Which is what the Notte Bianca promised to be. I could not get there from the start since I had a wedding to go to before. When I did arrive in Valletta around one in in the morning I parked at MCP and walked into the City. There was an interesting buzz in the air. The psychedelically lit gate was ok, the terramaxka playing away under the gate was promising. Throngs of people walked all along Republic Street with no apparent direction. Something was definitely happening at the Opera House since some bloke on the tannoy kept warning people that there was too much crowding and pushing. That is all I saw. I only made it to McDonalds before I was assailed by a negroni aftershock. My fifth one had been too much and I was damned if I would walk any more. So my report has to rely on word of mouth. Such as my parent's account on the goings-on till around 11.30 pm. It seems that the shops that were closed at 1am were also closed earlier on. The long queue outside Castille was also a permanent fixture on the night. Restaurants failed to join the fun and stopped serving food quite early in the night. You get the impression that everyone was just out there to see if it would really happen. Yes people did go to Valletta. Yes people were willing to stay up all night. Only the commercial part of the deal fell through since the businessmen did not feel it necessary to take any risks. Which is a pity. Going to Valletta was like chasing the White Rabbit down some hole.... Better luck next time.

#3 Gluten Free Food
Always part of my suitcase in case I get stuck in some hell hole and some genius decides that everyone can eat sandwiches to make up for the delay. Food is always important and I was looking forward to taking Melanie to the Blue Elephant - supposedly a sans pareil of Thai Cuisine. It's a lovely restaurant. Hat's off to the decorator. You practically have to stop the friendly staff from giving you a free massage as soon as you enter, such is their eagerness to please. Their entrées are an undescribable feast of taste - from the satays to the dim sim to the prawns in rice crackers. Not your run of the mill entry stuff. The mains though? They're good. Just plain good. Nothing extraordinary. A prawn curry will get you six miserly prawns the size of your pinky (I asked and was told that the Chef's orders are a military six per portion). I will not even discuss the duck on a bed of seaweed. Or maybe I will. The duck was passable, the seaweed drowned in a common take-awayish sauce and the accompanying rice was pitiable. Blue Elephant indeed. It may be good to impress, but when I am eating my stomach tends to be more interested in the contents of my plate than in the flora and fauna of the immediate surroundings. Really, if the management at the Blue Elephant want to see what eating good Oriental is like then I would gladly host them to a night out in Luxembourg at the exquisite TAKOBO. Honest. And once we are on the subject of food - whoever thought that sushi is a good take away item should think again. Unless eaten fresh sushi is not sushi. It becomes a rubbery thingy that is only acceptable if drowned in copious amounts of Soy Sauce. Never, ever be tempted to buy those thingys packed in fridges at your supermarket... do you hear me Arkadia and Marks & Sparks?

That's all for now... unpacking is taking its toll on my work rate - maybe more later if I am in the mood.

mercredi, octobre 18, 2006


"Ahna m'ghandna l-ebda ideologija jew klassi. Il-bidu u tmiem ta' kull mizura taghna huwa l-bniedem." - Lawrence Gonzi, PM

Hey Man. It's budget time. Tuned in to Radio Malta 2. Just hearing the intro. Clichés and counter-clichés abound. Sounds like a cool song and dance though. Somewhere deep down there is a concern about the future... education, environment and economy. Well... it's time to listen... will criticise later. Will it be a budget deal?

The PM seems to be determined to outline a Sound Future (Gejjieni fis-Sod). Sound indeed... I wonder what tune it will have.

This is not poverty


Poverty in Luxembourg: STATEC has just released figures on poverty in Luxembourg (today is World Day Against Poverty). In 2005, 13% of the Luxembourg population was affected by poverty; in 2004 only 12.3% were affected. The poverty threshold in Luxembourg is fixed at 1,423 Euros/month income for a single-person household.
For the record €1423 is equivalent to Lm612.95. And just when you begin to justify the high threshold with cost of living you begin to think... Why are most essential items practically the same price in Luxembourg as in Malta? Why does petrol cost less than in Malta? Why does a night out in a restaurant in Malta cost practically more than the equivalent in Luxembourg? Why are the roads in Luxembourg so damn near-perfect while the poor Maltese is constantly taxed for the upkeep of potholes? Why does furnishing an apartment in Luxembourg not cost an eye and a tooth like in Malta? Free health service? - think Caisse Maladie.

Meanwhile it is expected that in today's budget the magnanimous government will compensate cost of living expenses with an additional Lm2.25. That solves the travelling problems then doesn't it?

from the suitcase #1:
Unpacking my thoughts from Malta I remember the news item on the radios last Monday. Some geezer at MZPN was angry that some other labour geezer had suggested that we are getting less tourists because our cigarettes were too expensive. Fair's fair I say. What really miffed me was the "Demand for an Apology" issued by the Mullahs at MZPN. What is that exactly? Apologise or have a blue-eyed fatwah issued by the towers of the blue party line? What ever happened to disagreeing? What happened to pointing out that what the other side said is a load of bollocks and that's that? Can someone please explain what they will get out of requesting an apology? From Islamic Cartoons to Tanti Burlesque to MZPNag... the comedy continues.

This is not J'Accuse

The Prime Minister has said that today's budget will not be an attempt to "buy" votes but rather the product of a government that has succeeded to boost the country's finances.
- The Times of Malta, Wednesday 18th October (Budget Day)

World's Greatest Ingredients?

Ingredients: Rice & Maize, Edible Vegetable Oil, Bacon Flavour, Whey Powder, Paprika

Now what on earth could that be? Gourmand sharpshooters should try their luck in the comment box. By the way, I'm back to cold (apparently) Luxembourg.

Coming soon: Why Air Malta could be better than what it is all painted out to be. Why the Sunday Times crossword should be online. Why Blue Elephants can turn out to be White. Why rainstorms are still something to speak about in the Maltese Islands. What White Nights and White Knights have in common. Why the culture of "demanding an apology" has found its own fanatical base of fools in Malta. Why shopping in Sliema is funky. Why Paceville parking remains the 21st century oxymoron par excellence notwithstanding the St. Julian's council efforts. Why building regulations are as effective as a Hunting Directive without enforcement. Why it's not a sushi if it's been in the fridge. And lots more tell me why.

*Picture: Model & Actress Amber Valletta or my idea of a Notte Bianca (nuit blanche)... and don't tell me I did not get your attention (N.B. All feminist comments will be arbitrarily deleted)

vendredi, octobre 13, 2006

Weekend Trip II

You have reached J'accuse - la verité si je mens - unofficially Malta's most popular blog and specialist in extreme sports like navel-gazing and cave painting. The author of this blog is temporarily absent. Normal blogging will resume on Monday morning. Blogging might continue haphazardly from the Malta base.

Do not break glass. We would prefer that you read back issues of J'accuse by browsing through the handy column on the right. If you are using Internet Explorer you will notice that the bloody column has slipped down. That is because we are sufficiently technologically challenged not to know how to fix this mess even though it has happened before. Do not panic. Use the even handier scroll bar that is even more to the right than the right column and scroll down to the section that says Hot Off the Press. Actually the problem has been fixed. Ok. Partially fixed. We never said we would become technological geniuses overnight did we?

J'accuse regrets to inform its esteemed readers that the Complaints Board will also be on holiday and that if they (the readers, not the board) have any complaints they should just grin and bear it. Why not try a little game over at We find the table tennis really groovy. If you really think you have a brain runnning between your ears then why not try this ultra cool logical game called Samorost? No links provided. Just search Samorost on google. Or should that just be "google samorost"?

Fool's Cap is back. Another one lamenting that he has slipped off various blogrolls after doing the vanishing trick for some months. As far as J'Accuse is concerned what counts for goosy faust counts for the gander fool... once proof of more regular blogging is seen it is added to the evergrowing blogroll on these pages - and I know you don't care but we love our delusions of grandeur. Vlad is still afflicted by a strong dose of logorrhea but hey, it's amusing. Also check out young politician Aaron Farrugia - an example of budding young idealist politicians who still work from within the establishment. Good luck to him too.

Is it just my impression or does the weather report REALLY announce lousy weather for the weekend in Malta? Bloody Effin Typical innit? Anyways, it will only mean that I will have to spend my spare time in the shelter of restaurants and bars drinking Kinnie and sampling the latest gastronomic developments on the island. Now... I wonder whether my spare tire is sufficiently inflated...

See you guys soon.

jeudi, octobre 12, 2006


On Saturday 14th October another of the bastions of celibacy of the class of '99 succumbs to the trap of conjugal life. I have received a summons to witness the event of the tying of chains with subsequent reception at a Qormi Palazzo. I shall be there to pay my respects at both the religious ceremony as well as at the part where much alcohol is imbibed and food eaten in order to drown the sorrow that another of the sheep is lost.

Unmarried men from the class of '99 are a dying race. I like to think of myself as a breed on the verge of extinction. Hell... we will probably pass through the same rites of passage at some point. Until now I treat it like studying... better left delayed and panic when it actually arrives.

So from tomorrow I will be spending five quick days back home. Can't say I'm not looking forward but I never really liked short trips... they're as cruel as tasters.

This post is dedicated to Andrew Joseph Zammit, known in some circles as YSZ (read whyisit really fast).


Andrew "YSZ" Zammit (Bachelor)
Born 03.06.1975
Celibate until 14.10.2006
May his bachelor soul rest in peace in the Valhalla of
misplaced underwear, dirty linen and one-night stands.

Schembri Schembri

The first victory since 1982 (I was seven then, I am thirty now) and only the third since 1975 (the year I was born) in UEFA qualifications. I cannot believe it. I got home from Marouilles (provincia di Metz) half-dead and only switched on the computer with a faint flicker of hope that accompanies the viewing of every result of the national team. The UEFA website title did not help: "Hungary Win Ends Malta Famine" does not betray a perfect grasp of English... let alone give any clue about the final result.

But we bloody well won. I feel like we won the World Cup. Don't give me a draw with Croatia (although in some quarters tonight some would have loved at least a draw with the men from Zagreb). To hell with a draw with Bojinov's Bulgaria. No, no. I don't care if the Hungary side is a shadow of the once mighty Magyars of Puskas and Masopust. We beat them. Two goals to nil. Schembri scored, Mifsud shone and Gilbert Agius provided the assists.

Carcade anyone?

From the other pitches:

  • My new pet hate Portugal had their come-uppance losing to that drab team called Poland. - the irony of it all? Both goals were scored by... wait for it.... EUZEBIUSZ SMOLAREK.
  • David Trezeguet was voted the player that most Frenchies would not want on the national squad. He responded in his usual fashion - two goals against the Far Oer.
  • Mighty Eng-er-land fell to Croatia, the team held to a draw recently by the valiant Maltese (yep, today they are valiant). The other team to draw recently in Malta (Bulgaria) came over to Luxembourg and meted out a narrow 1-0 defeat to this great footballing nation.
  • The question remains. Come March... will we beat Moldova?
And finally...
FORZA MALTA (Benny u Tonia)
tradotta bin-nejk mill-istudenti kors tal-ligi (Ultras Universita' 1993-1999)

Forza Malta nghajtu lkoll
Force Malta we say all

B'vuci soda nghajtu gowl
With a strong voice we say goal

Meta nilghabu go Ta' Qali
When we play in "it falls me"

Progress kbir ghamel it-tim
Progress big it made the team

B'kowc barrani imhejjijin
With a foreign coach we're spleen

Issa zgur l'ghandna tim qawwi
Now for sure we have a rough team

Mel'ejjew ilkoll flimkien
So come on all you together

Issapportjaw 'il dan it-tim
Come support this very team

It-tim li huwa ta' kullhadd
The team that is of everyone

Id-dinja kollha taf illum
All the world knows today

Kullhadd tghallem il-ballun
Everyone Learns the ball

mercredi, octobre 11, 2006

Breaking News

From :

11-OCT-06 Ten killed in French train crash

At least 10 people have been killed and about 20 injured in a train collision in north-east France, emergency workers have said. A passenger train collided with a goods train in Zoufftgen, close to the border with Luxembourg, the state-owned rail company SNCF said. The crash happened shortly before noon local time, in the region of Moselle. The passenger train had been travelling from Luxembourg.

According to Le Monde, the passenger train was a TER that had left Luxembourg in the direction of Nancy via Metz. The time of the crash was around 11.30 as the passenger train collided with a goods train - apparently due to the fact that only one rail was in operation due to works and therefore the trains ended up in a head-to-head position.

More to follow.

*Acknowledgements: Gary Roberts for the email with the news.
** Image created using Zefrank's Scribbler

Forza Malta!

No, I am not referring to the match tonight against Hungary. Of course I will be hoping for a win against the Magyras... too. The title refers to another National Team - the female football team. They have been drawn to play in Luxembourg in November. Poor gals... hope they get their parkas. Anyways, here's the lowdown from

The Maltese women's national team was drawn with Slovakia, Luxembourg and Lithuania in Group 3 of the newly-introduced preliminary round of the UEFA Women's Championship 2009. The draw was held in Nyon on Monday. The four teams will be playing in a mini-tournament to be held in Luxembourg between November 18 and 23. The winners of the group will join the top 25 countries in the main group stage.

mardi, octobre 10, 2006

Cheap'N'Cheerful Slash?

From Maltastar:

The airport departure tax is to be slashed from Lm20 to Lm5 by August 2007, according to an internal budget document seen exclusively by A Lm2 million increase in revenues from the same tax in 2006 will make it possible for government to reduce the tax substantially, sources at the Economic Policy Division at the Ministry of Finance told this e-newspaper.
I know a good leak when I see one. The interesting part of this article is the one that states that the Fenech Adami government had increased the departure tax from Lm4 to Lm10 in 1998 and the Gonzi government had doubled this figure to Lm20 in 2005. And now what the PN takes the PN will give back... and we are all supposed to stand up and applaud. But it has been 8 years of more expensive flying... who's giving any of that back eh? Now which Minister should I ask, I wonder?

YouTube Sold


Google is buying video-sharing website YouTube for $1.65bn (£883m) in shares after a weekend of speculation that a deal was in the offing. The two companies will continue to operate independently, Google said as it announced the news on Monday. YouTube, launched in February 2005, has grown quickly into one of the most popular websites on the internet. It has 100 million videos viewed every day and an estimated 72 million individual visitors each month.
End of a myth or beginning of an era? My bet is that Youtube will stay very much as it is with better integration with Google and probably with Blogger too.
Google Buys Out YouTube

A message from Chad and Steve - the YouTube founders.

lundi, octobre 09, 2006


Tuttosport Sponsorship for Massimo Cremona

When I was young, in the halcyon days of Sanga and Soldini, a trip to Tutto Sport in Strada Zekka Valletta would mean a stocking up in the 'latest' (read affordably latest) sporting gear on display. It was thus that in the days of the LA Olympics when branded advertising was beginning to really hook on into the footballing world that my parents bought me a new pair of runners cum football shoes that were not of the sanga-soldini variety. Unfortunately the various Adidas, Nike and Reebok were still far beyond the reach of the lower middle class family in Mintoff's Malta and so the "coolness" of the make was limited to its not being a Sanga. I remember my "3A Antonini" shoes with a certain affection. Ever the fan of the conspicuous and non-conformist, they were bright red - a novelty in those days when Marco Simone was still unheard of.

Anyways, I digress from the scope of this post. An article on today's Times (the English version) was the reason of this sudden flashback to those outings in Valletta for the purchase of the Red Devil kit, the 3A shoes and the football socks that could have been tights. Danny Baker's regular column "The Game" today features an item about World Subbuteo Champion Massimo Cremona (Maltese) who is apparently sponsored by TuttoSport Ltd. I do know that Mr Cremona plies his subbuteo skills with a Perugia team and is the first Maltese to be paid to flick dolls at balls with his finger. It would seem that TuttoSport provide the ERREA tracksuit for Cremona to play in. Cool. Here's the full Baker lowdown on the story:

By a tremendous turn of events two of my best friends are playing each other on the international stage this week. By this I mean that one of them is half Hungarian and one of them is fully Maltese and these two mighty nations will come face to face in a Euro 2008 group match on Wednesday. While nobody could sanely claim this pairing is The Tie Of The Round to hear Grollner (Hungary) and Micalef (Malta) jousting over the weekend you’d think that this obscure basement tussle in group C was some sort of Old Firm fixture. From all their chest-butting, though, one titbit of information has emerged and, in my book, given Micalef the edge. Did you know that the generally acknowledged Table Football King Of The World comes from Malta? Well he does, even if he has temporarily lost his official crown after a recent controversial Golden Goal match in Germany. His name is Massimo Cremona and, upon searching online, I see that this week it was announced that Tutto Sport Ltd have agreed to continue his kit sponsorship for another season.

I wonder what kind of deal that is? What is a table football kit like? Is it a full suit or do they just wash and iron the one top between tournaments? If so, then I now realise my mother was my “kit sponsor” when I was at school. I’m perfectly sure Massimo will be there when these two sleeping giants of the world scene do battle in midweek. Perhaps he will be secretly coaching his Maltese brethren about wild, continual overhead kicks and playing off the advertising hoardings. Let’s hope he’s in his working clothes so we can see just what Tutto Sport are getting for their money. Now then, Malta v Hungary . . . will that be Sky Sports 2 or BBC One?

*Photo: Massimo Cremona (right) and TuttoSport representative - the same guy who sold me the 3A shoes back in 1984.
** While researching 3A Antonini on Internet I discovered that the company went on to develop the world famous Lumberjack brand and I also discovered this 80's advert featuring Enrico Montesano which I do not remember seeing.

samedi, octobre 07, 2006

I.M. Jack - seventh edition

I.M. Jack - the weekly round-up on j'accuse

1. Bland
The week passed by without any great ground shaking moments being reported on j'accuse. Apart from some Ministerial breakthrough (Fausto is still labouring to deny any responsibility of that Rural Minister) with regarding to the use of wind and the government proving to be the usual whimp when faced with such graceful democratic lobbyists as the hunting confraternity there does not seem to be much to report from the j'accuse pages. Apologies for such blandness our mind was elsewhere and we are sure that there were more newsworthy items on show. But hey... we did not miss out on George's externation about animals and their rights. Vote George Get Orwell? Is that good Faust?

2. Bogroll
Fausto's return admittedly breathes some discursive life in an otherwise laid-back blogosphere. The neo-con blogger was not pleased to discover the omission of his blog from the j'accuse blogroll. We reassure readers that inclusion or otherwise from the new blogroll has nothing to do with any petty vendettas relating to arguments currently on the go. Not very lawyerlike that would be. Rather. Nope we have chosen to use the bogroll (not a typo medears - just a joke - I kid I kid in a burlesque fashion geddit) to pinpoint those blogs that we like to peruse for their content. And blogs will be added as soon as they show a little sign of life (that's like more than two posts a week in my book). Pierre J Mejlak and Xifer are exceptions. Coz they're my friends that's why. I don't know who Fausto is so he does not get that privilege.

3. EU Affairs
Yep. Those Units. When I commented that one of them should be told what's going on we never said which one. True there was a link to a random one - to give the general idea. But basically we did use the plural. Because we assume that every ministry has its unit... and someone somewhere must be in charge of telling some minister in the list Fausto was so kind to publish as an aide memoire that the hunters are going unpunished. So thank you for the Aide Memoire AND for the Prosy Points but I guess it was a tad bit too defensive reaction - and it still does not explain how the cowboys still have their way.

4. Cowboys
And as for Claire - I stand by what I said. She stood up to the authority. She does not write articles about protecting the poor and fighting barons with one pen and sign warrants of seizure in the name of the rich with the other. She stood up to him by calling a spade a spade and the mere fact that she charged him in court is a lot more than many others who build their career on a good network and not stepping on other's toes would do. See what I mean Fausto? Yep. In Malta even getting as far as being able to drop charges and be the one to decide when to stop can be a hard thing to do. Besides, Polidano apologised. Which is something that can be difficult to draw out of someone... ask the labour posse about Tanti Burlo for example.

5. Rush
No time to finish since I am due in Etain(France) in an hour or so. Got to go. Will be a superb nosh up with Mel's grandma cooking some of the best Alsatian choucroute to be found. Hope you enjoy today's show that is dedicated to Grumpy Fausto who we all love as our very own neocon on the blogosphere.

6. Where Links means Right
All links today lead you to Fausto. Just in case he was worrying that we had any qualms linking to a blog that tends to disagree with us. We love it. Seriously. Keep up the barrage. It reminds us that we are alive and not alone!

vendredi, octobre 06, 2006

The Morning News

I've been on holiday the last two days and waking up exactly at the time the Times is published online means that I can read it while having breakfast. Today's news was quite interesting. I note that Polidano has apologised to Claire Bonello for the slapping incident. The apology led to both parties dropping charges against each other for insults/violence. That's one story that will slowly disappear from the papers though I am sure Claire is has now become a reference point for this and the poster-carrying incident. A reference point of standing-up to the establishment when you do not agree - and that is the point Fausto will not understand. It may be about self-interest sometimes (though not all of the time) but it still takes a step forward to start doing and stop the arse-licking careerism that goes on.

I wonder whether the EU Affairs, Policy Development and Programme Implementation units in Malta are aware of the directive given to police not to charge hunters for now. I'm not sure that such units have much power since they prepare dossiers for ministers to be informed about their respective area's achievement within the EU acquis. Someone should be drawing somebody's attention here. What we have is a transposed EU Directive that is being neutered by the inactivity of the strong arm of the law.

What this boils down to is that Police can report an individual breaking the law but they will not arraign him until further notice. Why? Because the hunters are a-protesting and the Prime Minister is busy a-negotiating and the Police do not want to take them to court on some charge that might not exist in the near future. Which says much about the police's faith in the firmness of our government during negotations with a pastime lobby group. Whiuch says much about the optimism of the pastimers that their will be done (with apologies to Lorna). Which says much about the state of politics in our country - still pressure driven.

From the Wizards of Lobby to the Whirlwind of Xlendi. This bit of news about a man reportedly lifted by a whirlwind in Xlendi took me by surprise. Is the weather really that bad? Here we are having sunny bouts... I cannot believe it!

And finally I like Fantasy Football... where you dream that you are managing the greatest club on earth and buy and sell players at your whim. It's a great feeling to be able to imagine that you are doing something you could never have done otherwise. And when I read Vassallo's budget article I could not help reading that this was a Fantasy Budget. Such a pity that while someone so competent is limited to Fantasy Planning, those in charge of the real game do not seem to have much of a clue how to play it.... Which is how I felt about Capello's Juve in the Champions league when compared to my Trophy Machine in the Playstation.


jeudi, octobre 05, 2006

Will'r'Us (TGIL)

It's that Thursday again. Dame Lorna is concluding her peripatetic democratic meanderings which lead to nowhere. Thankfully she sums up her thoughts in a majestic first sentence that contains all of the trademark styles that she has accustomed us to. (Hmm must remember never to end a sentence in a preposition.... preposterous really).

So today we will once again limit ourselves to quoting the offending sentence in full while hoping that she will return to more colourful topics in two weeks' time.

The last two articles in this series have focused upon politically irrelevant but determining factors in the way the single transferable vote system is implemented locally.
Irrelevant but determining. Way to go Lorna. The will of the people is behind you. We will you to go on and on!

Premio Sandro Ciotti

The second Premio Sandro Ciotti is up for grabs. It is awarded to the best 'striscione' (slogan-carrying banner in a stadium) in Italy over the past year. Many anti-Moggi posters will be vying for the prize but my personal favourite comes from the south. I liked many of the Palermitan candidates for the prize but the one pictured above perfectly captures the collective surprise of a city with no great expectations finding itself perched on top of Serie A.

The banner translates: "Bloody Hell, We're First!"

Probably the best

Probably ...

dedicated to the neo-con Majistral
and remember... j'accuse... probably the best blog in the maltese blogosphere

mercredi, octobre 04, 2006

The Animal Right

From comes a quote for the day:

In a message to commemorate World Animals' Day celebrated on Wednesday, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Environment George Pullicino said that the well-being of animals is central to the government's work.
"Somehow it seemed as though the farm had grown richer without making the animals themselves any richer— except, of course, for the pigs and the dogs." - George Orwell, Animal Farm.

The answer my friend...

... is blowing in the wind. Di-ve reports that the call for expressions of interest for the development of an offshore windfarm has closed. This 105 milllion euro investment is expected to generate 10% of the electricity of the Maltese islands in the future. Talk about a breath of fresh air! Obviously expect the pea-brained "environmentalists" to object to the new development because of the danger it poses to birds. We have already heard that one. I think that a bird that does not see an enormous fan the size of two houses and gets hit by it deserved to die. Cynical. But hey... we're talking wind-power here. Now that's what I call an environmental measure George.

Maybe now you might even get some kind posters instead of the usual environmentalist trash eh? Who knows.... Vote George, Get Wind.

Hmmm... Maybe not after all.

mardi, octobre 03, 2006

At Her Majesty's Pleasure

The latest fuss to be kicked up by those sleuths at Maltatoday relates to the British Chevening Scholarships that are annually awarded to a select few. The Scholarships are funded by UK Government money and are offered in over 150 countries worldwide. 2,300 scholarships are awarded each year for postgraduate studies and research in UK Institutions of Higher Education. Chevening Scholar Anna Mallia kicked off the ruckus in an article that pointed out that most of the Maltese Chevening Scholarships were going to "connected" people. The article implied that the Zahra's, Camilleri Demarcos and other supposed noble families had undeservedly been awarded the Scholarship.

In a rush of uncontrolled socialism, the Sunday rag is now berating the British High Commission for supporting the well to do who could very well pay their own way through a scholarship and ignoring the lower strata of society. The "circle of friends" argument is out again. That argument that is so often abused of to let off the steam generated by envy and the "I want to be rich too" part of the population.

Now let me be clear about one thing. I never benefited from the Chevening Scholarship. The only scholarship I ever got was the Bruges scholarship awarded by the government of the Republic. I also do not hail from a family that can be considered - in the minds of some - as part of some elite caste in Malta. But I still disagree with all this ruckus.

I do not disagree because I don't agree with the facts. Call a spade a spade. The list of awardees does look like a mini-sons of who's who in Malta list. I disagree because I do not expect otherwise. For heaven's sake it's the Brits we are talking about. It's our former colonisers who always got through their relations with the colonies by creating an elite of the favoured. That very same elite that can be counted on because of a sound upbringing.

Remember how Rhodes Scholar Dominic Mintoff repaid the Brits for his scholarship in a socialist branch of an English University? If you were the High Commissioner forking out the dosh to subsidise the stay in the UK of a Maltese Citizen (at her Majesty's Pleasure) who would you pick on hindsight? A Borg Olivier or a Mintoff? A Gonzi or a Sant?

My point is that the scholarship is a British scholarship. So even if behind the front of clear conditions for admission there lie a web of shennanigans based on connection and a favoured (if but perceived) elite, who are we to complain? It's their money. It's still got the Queen's Head on and so she can bloody well choose who she likes for her scholarship awards. Tough shit Elaine Bonello.

Now if this were a discussion about Maltese funded scholarships with Maltese funded money and if we had the same list being sent abroad... THEN trust me if I say that even J'accuse will have its penny's worth of arguments thrown in.

Otherwise... Quod Regina Placquit....

Back to School

The doors at Tal-Qroqq opened yesterday. Listening to the Bay Radio news I hear an interview with new KSU President David Ciliberti. It would seem that the most important item on his agenda for this new year at University is the visit of President Eddie Fenech Adami who will talk about yesterday's students and tomorrow's students.

Every year the atmosphere at our University looks more like a school and less like an alma mater that allows independent development of thought in a good environment. I cannot see the rebels of our generation - the leftist SDM, the commie Graffiti, the weird anthropologists and the surprisingly activist MKSU are all gone. Instead there is a campus full of apologetic arse-lickers that do not bode well for the future. Even Graffitti tend to sound like they are into radical change just for the fashionable aspect of having El Che wrapped around their neck rather than for the chain around Castille type protest.

I had attended a Graffiti inspired protest at the visit of Li Peng to Malta. I doubt whether any of the current generation would even begin to consider such a manifestation - and be bothered by the great police action we would get. The most hussle and tussle the new generation seems to like is the one at the bar fighting for a drink or head banging infront of some group.

We liked the drinks and the odd rock concert too. But we also had a common feeling that we wanted to change the world. We ran protests that never made the headlines but were effective. Like the spontaneous corner meeting in 1993 by the hundred or so law students against the inadequacies of the BA Legal & Humanistic course that had just opened. Like the ongoing efforts made by the few hundred active students to try to convince the rest that sitting back and accepting all that is thrown at them is not the best way to get a tertiary education.

The new University generations are being accused of being 'softer' all over Europe. Maybe they have been dulled up by their playstations, mp3 players and iPods. Maybe. Maybe it is the failure of our generation to really get things started. The failure of my generation to set a durable mind-set of not allowing intervention by the bigger parties into student politics. We managed to keep them out ourselves (notwithstanding the general perception of the greater public) - unfortunately once we left they crept back in ... finding new volunteers who were prepared to toe the line like those who had come before us.

One final word. Opening day at University carries many memories. I recall the great bonfire bonanza I had helped organize in 1994 with a budding Beangrowers act featuring on the list. It included all organisations (at the time I had to battle with the SDM executive to convince them that Student's Day would be for everyone - the wishy-washy communists at Graffiti included!). I remember the older generation who had still carried on the tradition of the 5th October Sangria-like concoction (I seem to remember Renzo preparing it). The one I remember most at the beginning of my early years at Uni is Julian Manduca - choppy.

My thoughts on Student's Day this year go out to Choppy. A model student activist if ever there was one.

* Student's Day in Malta is officially celebrated on 5th October. Among other things it commemorates the night when thugs attacked University. Don't expect EFA to forget this particular episode when talking about yesterday's students.

lundi, octobre 02, 2006

I.M. Jack - sixth edition

I.M. Jack - the weekly round up on j'accuse

1. Timegames
The MLPN pre-electoral warm up meant the early drawing of the battlelines. PM Gonzi revelled in the possibility of re-equating New Labour to Old Methods after Jason Micallef's faux pas added onto earlier explosive statements by girl about Gozo Justyne Caruana. Labour's reply came in the form of maltastar's hypocritical indignation at an innocuous cartoon in the Times by Maurice Tanti Burlò. The stirring up of hornet's nests and accusations meant that once more the issue of real politics could be skirted. Labour leader Alfred "Alfossa" Sant hinted at some true money talk when he warned the public to beware false promises in the upcoming budget.

2. Rubentus?
The dirty trap that was laid for Italian football's Old Lady slowly came to the surface. Inter is now under accusation for having spied on the team and may end up charged with "slealtà sportiva". The race is now on for the next pretenders to the throne that the Old Lady fully deserved on the pitch. It is expected that the Rigetta team will soon be making itself heard with some excuses for the paper scudetto that will probably be doing the musical chairs round until it ends up on the shirts of some lowly team like Akragas.

3. Working Ladies
Archbishop Joseph seems to have suggested that women should be paid to stay at home. The notion of "career women" versus "housewife" is still top priority in the Maltese church which seems to be oblivious of the advent of both the 20th and 21st centuries. The battle is on for the "pros" and "cons" and feminists vs chauvinist pigs. Much to be enjoyed. Sadly it will all be useless because women are just as busy as men in the modern race to keep up with the joneses. And if that means that little Brooklyn, Joelene and Gerald-Adalbert have to be left with nannu and nanna until we can afford the new Dolby Surround Microwave Cooker then so be it. General Public 2 - Archbishop's Curia 0 (attendance: insignificant, weather: fair, women & children half price).

4. SmartCity
This promises to be the confusing issue for next election. The one that is mentioned by MLP as the biggest disgrace to hit Malta since Mater Dejn and that is mentioned by PN as the greatest gift from God since Karmni Grima saw Our Lady with the rosary beads (what a cliché apparition). Harry Vassallo will go on ranting that the smartest thing in Malta remains unelected and will probably raise the wager to Elect 100 AD members or nothing.

5. Journalism Awards
As the debate peters out on the Maltese blogosphere we have been regaled with an incongruent nomination. The disappearance of any semblance of debate (controversial or otherwise) on the blogosphere as well as the glaring absence of onlookers contradict the nomination of a Maltese blog as being the champion of e-journalism. The other nominees are also risible suggestions - vide Mona's Moans on the Net. Where oh where doth real journalism lie? And if not journalism - at least a provocative site worthy of one or two comments.

6. Most Popular
Meanwhile in the neverland of hyperimagination J'Accuse proclaimed itself (carlsberg style) probably the most popular blog on the Maltese blogosphere. The tag will soon be added as the official slogan for the coming season. Provocation? yes. But mainly a challenge to figure out how to hang the bloody sentence at the end of the title. Hark... dost thou here mine trumpet a-blowin'?

7. Food
Maastricht and Aachen. Top advice for the weekend is a tiny Japanese shop in Maastricht off Onze Lieve Vrouwen Plein. The name of the resto? Tai-i-Chi. Supreme sushi and heavenly Pad Thai. A must for all lovers of the food from the Land of the Rising Sun.