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jeudi, novembre 30, 2006

Postcard from Lux

Dear All,

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

Jacques Ooze

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

mercredi, novembre 29, 2006

The PET Nostradamus

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

mardi, novembre 28, 2006

A Fresh Brew


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

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

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

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


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

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

lundi, novembre 27, 2006

The Return of the Jack

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

***

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

***

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

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

vendredi, novembre 24, 2006

On the Mend

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

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

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

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

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

I leave you with the words of Dominique de Villepin:

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

jeudi, novembre 23, 2006

Sick (brb)

This blogger is down with a bout of gastric flu.

Be right back.

mardi, novembre 21, 2006

Mind the Gap

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


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


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

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

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

Yep. That's right 0.

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

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

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

I gave up on the intelligence gap ages ago.

Outlaw This

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From this week's Maltatoday:


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

----

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

dimanche, novembre 19, 2006

Say What? (again)

From today's Sunday Times Editorial:

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

Fat chance.

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

vendredi, novembre 17, 2006

Existential Question

From time to time we like to pose the question. To blog or not to blog. Are Maltese blogs useful? Why is there not the blogging frenzy that can be seen in countries like the US and France - and to a lesser extent in the UK and Italy? The nature of the blog is also put into question. What kind of blogs are we talking about? Opinion blogs like this one, Thermidor or Lanzarote? Journals of hobbies, pastimes and other personal delights? Literary gems like Immanuel or Pierre?

Some time ago J'accuse bit the bullet and expressed its displeasure at the state of the Malta Journalism Awards. We do not think we are lacking in respect in any way when we criticise the classification of Wired Temples as a journalistic blog. True, it provides a service to the internet community who want to track the mention of Malta and all things Maltese on the ethernet. Probably we are not completely correct when we say that it is not "journalism" of some kind. But does the award truly reflect an awareness of the blogging world? What does it tell us about the state of the blogosphere in Malta?

The reason for these reflections is not, as some will undoubtedly assume, some sour grape mentality at not having been considered. We hesitated to mention the fact that such "awards" in Malta are based on an in-house assessment and nominations by people who are probably not fully aware of the reality on the net. The in-house promotion is not to be underestimated nor criticised since it has to be examined on the basis of the Maltese reality. Look at the Maltamedia structure. I mention it because no one else will except in silent asides in private. The glaring absence of references to the "rest" of the Maltese reality in daily posts and blogrolls (save the gargantuan list of Maltese blogs) does say something about the mission to promote the shifting blogosphere. The loosely assembled network must be commended for carving its niche in a new medium taking advantage of the hiccuping attempts of the traditional heavyweights of Maltese communication since the introduction of pluralism. PN and MLP have a long way to go before establishing a credible presence on the net. What worries me is the sense of protectiveness that can be perceived from without. The insecurity that is demonstrated by the persistence in acting as though Maltamedia alone exists on the web.

Positive criticism this may be, though I am not sure it will be easy to swallow. Hell, we are here to discuss and provoke. The truth if I lie - that's our original motto here.

Which brings me back to the question. It was provoked once again when reading the results of the French Socialist's election. Coming so soon after the American midterms one could not resist comparing and contrasting. One point stood out. Blogs were crucial in opinion forming and in passing on the messages that needed to be passed on. True they were also involved in one of the dirtiest campaigns in American history. But citizen involvement it was. And blogs were (and still are in the limelight).

One thing that set me thinking is that it appears that blogs have more of a role in these two democratic systems because of the way they are structured. The politics of France and America allow more for the use of such a tool than that of say, Italy and Malta. It could be because of the adaptability of the citizens to the new forms of information. It could be because the mainstream media in the two countries have long ago settled comfortably in bed with blogs by appropriating them and challenging the private blogs with blogs of their own. Look at Le Monde. One of the first reviews of the Socialist election is a review of the blogs of the candidates and of other blogs. What people are saying does not come through only through dumbed down polls or the mouth of politicians. It is democracy in action. Bottom up.

Which does not bode well for Malta. By now a series of five or six articles have appeared over the last year advertising this or that blog. true we get that occasional hiccup of hits like J'accuse's 547 a couple of days ago. But the truth is that the "value" given to the content is still not big enough. I am speculating here. We do commit a few sins ourselves. We are (mostly) irregular and can be inconsistent. We do not always deal with Maltese politics with the same regularity as a French blogger would daily comment on goings on in the hexagon. But I still feel that part of the blame on the lack of attention paid to blogs in the long run is due to the fact that their potential effect on the system and mentality is either (a) not being sufficiently mined or (b) never will be able to happen because of the way politics work in our country.

Comment please. (and insults will be accepted)

Socialists go Pink

The French Socialists overwhelmingly voted for Segolene Royal to be their candidate for the Presidential elections next year. 60.6% of the Socialist voters opted for the woman whose name sounds like a product (Segolene Royal - now even stronger... warning may contain artifical additives) over Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Laurent Fabius. Notwithstanding what had appeared to be cracks in her policy arguments (see ideas on Iraq), she cruised to victory and now appears posed to face Sarkozy next year.

It is to be hoped that next year's battle will not focus on man vs woman but on sound policy arguments. Segolene has sufficient times to fill in the gaps that have tainted her run to victory.

One big positive for Segolene is her think-tank site called Desirs d'avenir - which fully recognises the role of interactive media like fora, blogging and updated news sites in the creation of a democratic campaign. Let's just say that for now J'accuse would vote for Segolene (even with the name that gives me the impression of a very strong glue).

Ferenc Puskas

From BBC SPORT:

Hungary and Real Madrid legend Ferenc Puskas has died at the age of 79.

From Wikipedia:

Ferenc Puskás Biró (born April 2, 1927, Budapest Hungary), also referred to as Puskás Ferenc or Purczeld Ferenc, is a Hungarian former footballer and coach. He played for Honvéd and Hungary before joining Real Madrid and going onto play for Spain. During the 1950s, in a Hungarian team that also included Zoltán Czibor, Sándor Kocsis, József Bozsik and Nándor Hidegkuti, he was captain of the legendary Mighty Magyars. After the 1956 Hungarian Revolution he moved to Spain where he became part of the legendary Real Madrid team that also included Alfredo Di Stéfano, Francisco Gento, Raymond Kopa and José Santamaria.

Puskás, with a powerful left-foot shot, was a prolific goalscorer throughout his career. He was top scorer in the Hungarian League on four occasions and in 1948 he was the top goal scorer in any European league. While playing with Real Madrid he won four Pichichis and scored seven goals in two European Cup finals. After retiring as a player he became a coach and in 1971 led Panathinaikos to the European Cup final. In 2001 the Népstadion in Budapest was renamed the Stadion Puskas Ferenc in his honour. He was also declared the best Hungarian player of the last 50 years by the Hungarian Football Federation in the UEFA Jubilee Awards in November 2003.
Football and quiz lovers alike will today mourn the passing away of one of the great legends of football. The team with the musical names of Ferenc Puskas, Zoltan Czibor, Sandor Kocsis, Jozsef Bozsic and Nandor Hidegkuti is inevitably mentioned as one of the greatest teams to have graced the pitches of the world. The English remember the Mighty Magyars mostly for the 6-3 drubbing they received at Wembley in 1953. The greatest disappointment for the man dubbed the Galloping Major must have been the 3-2 defeat to West Germany in the 1954 World Cup final when Puskas played although not fully fit. The Magyars would have to settle for the 1952 Olympic Gold they had conquered two years before.

Thank you Ferenc for your part in filling the annals of football with your heroic feats. I am sure that you have been given a hero's welcome up there where you have joined the stars that have left us recently like Giacinto Facchetti and George Best.

jeudi, novembre 16, 2006

Coffee Break

No, this will not be a long, Fausto-style break. It's just that instead of thinking for you today j'accuse will simply be telling you what it is thinking about. Complicated. Must be the weather. Anyways. We agreed with her article. Rather uncharacteristically we found his rather uninteresting. We thought that the whole ruckus about this is far-fetched. Once again we find him hilarous and his victims ridiculous. We find this absolutely unnecessary. We thought this had a good ending and we think this is worth reading. We know that it is uncoventional to hyperlink words like it, his, this and him... but then this is j'accuse... the truth if I lie.

Finally the secret will be out soon. This blog might be going places.... it's all in the title (in a way).

mercredi, novembre 15, 2006

Musical Interlude

Rage Against the Machine... Testify. Following neebother's dedication in his blog. This one goes out to all the Bush apologistas and to the ones who believe politics and the way we do it can change.

Ode to Laziness

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My friend Twanny used to blog at Triq il-Maqluba - a mosaical crossroads of cultures and ideas. His love of languages was always evident and the blog was a clear witness to this. His blog ended when he left Malta for Luxembourg to start a new phase in his adventures as a translator. We are still waiting for his new blog to kick off - another road, another destination. In the meantime we have been deprived of his occasional bursts of creativity such as his incredible Mosaics - poems written in three or more languages at one go. My post about Malta's record of laziness and dwarfism reminded the poet of a mosaic of his that he had written shortly before his departure for the Grand Duchy.

It is with great joy that J'Accuse plays host to this work by Twanny in the hope that his life as a sans-blog does not last forever and that he will find a new home on the blogosphere soon. Here it is (English translation follows):



Ad placitum

Għajjejt, tbażwart, inħxejt, the outside world can wait,
mon lit, le paradis, ma chambre une abîme noire,
hoy, yo soy el cansancio, in-ngħas, il-għażż, sommeil,
tout nu, non reggo più, il-lum jien nibqa' d-dar;

parapett, sigarett, café noir, donne-moi espoir,
my unsleepable brain, an ever-travelling train,
ħedla ta' nofsinhar, le nuvole vagar,
debajo de mis sábanas soy soberano rey.

Piccola grande gioia, questo dolce far niente,
far ventiquattro ore senza storie, senza gente,
jum mitluf, jum mirbuħ, ħa nerġa' nieħu r-ruħ;

j'ai envie de l'ennui, de mettre en pause la vie,
oír la noche inmensa, más inmensa sin ti,
let it roll, rest my soul, patience dans l'azur.

Antoine Cassar
Qrendi, 9 August 2006



Ad placitum

I'm tired, I'm knackered, I'm fucked, the outside world can wait, / my bed, paradise, my room a black abyss, / today, I am fatigue, drowsiness, lazyness, slumber, / stark naked, can't hold out, today I'll stay at home;

parapet, cigarette, café noir, give me hope, / my unsleepable brain, an ever-travelling train, / afternoon torpor, the clouds roving, / underneath my sheets I am the sovereign king.

Small great joy, this sweet doing nothing, / spend twenty-four hours without stories, without people, / a day lost, a day gained, I will pick up again;

I'm in the mood for ennui, for putting life on pause, / hearing the immense night, more immense without you, / let it roll, rest my soul, patience in the azure.



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mardi, novembre 14, 2006

Short, Lazy Buggers

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Picture: The Maltese dwarves at a party: (top to bottom) Lazy, Lazy, Lazy, Lazy, Lazy, Frengo and Lazy

There, we have it on black and white now. Maltese are the shortest and laziest among EU citizens. Why am I not surprised? Have you ever been to Amsterdam or any Dutch town for what that matters? If yes, did you not get the distinct feeling that you might have inadvertently chewed on a magic mushroom in the Shoarma shop and that you were now experiencing a Looking Glass experience where everybody was at least a foot taller than you?

And when it comes to laziness. Just move to a foreign country and try to explain to other people why you just have to park infront of your next destination and avoid any extra walking. How do you explain that jogging is just not an option when the weather outside is polar? Playstation vs Jog round the Park? Give me a break.

What gets at me is that this short & lazy label gives all the pretentious, snobbish bastards situated north of Tripoli point some excuse to snort down at us as though this was the ultimate answer to the existence of the Maltese. The bureaucratically desperate Luxembourger with his squishy squashy language and whose idea of a time out is a trip to Auchan will be giggling his arse off between a moien and a schweier. That really will be the limit.

All the other 24 will follow suit in a concerto of laughter and glee and have a great ball laughing at the "nains faineants" of the Med. But the truth is that the ones who should be laughing are il-Maltin. In fact while being short is nothing that we can control short of interbreeding with the taller races (which is where I am doing my bit by dating a six-footer), being lazy is a matter of perspective.

Laziness in Europe is equated with not wanting to work. With going against the work ethic. In fact the earlier you wake up, the longer you stay at work, the more extra hours you put in in cleaning your home, the more you walk to work across the Kirchberg bridge in sub-zero conditions, the more medals you should earn. And of course you should laugh at the Maltese who steals that extra half-hour in bed, drives to work in a heated car, parks in the parking and gets a lift straight to his office, skips the morning coffee conference at the canteen (shit coffee anyway), reads the papers and listens to music while working, and even manages to leave a little early (say six as against ten pee emm). The output on the workplace is the same. The quality too (if not better) but the appearances really lose out.

You see. What the rest of the EU does not get is that what they call laziness is really a secret to a good laugh. Less stress, better time management and a philosophy based on the idea that "my body is my temple and I am not dragging this temple for a useless twenty minute jog when I could be sitting in the warmth of my house". What the EU will go on to forget is that while we are short and we are "lazy" (I prefer laid-back), we still top the list of the happiest people on the continent.

That should count for something should it not? You bunch of grumpy, clumsy, clanking, overworked good-for-nothings you. I'm off for a ciggy break - coz I've just decided I'll take up smoking again... health was never my thing and there's nothing more relaxing than a little puff for this short but happy lazy bugger!


PS. And does anyone remember the rule of thumb? You know what they say about short men? I guess now we know why our shores are full of women from the north every summer. :)

Sublime

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From La Gazzetta dello Sport (Lorenzo Astori):

E intanto mezza Italia è già lì che fa i conti per capire quando la Juve riuscirà ad arrivare in vetta. Impresa possibile già sabato prossimo, ma comunque dietro l’angolo. E sarà ben difficile che i bianconeri, una volta raggiunto il primo posto, possano rallentare il passo e farsi superare: quindi c’è la concreta possibilità che già ben prima di Natale un posto promozione sia già assegnato. Mai successo nella storia di questo campionato, ma non era nemmeno mai successo che ci fosse la Juve…

Non Sequitur #63

Record

Not something for the Guinness Book of Records but a record all the same. Yesterday, Monday November 13th 2006 was the day in which the highest number of visitors popped in for a visit to J'accuse.

547

You know what we say.... probably....

lundi, novembre 13, 2006

Cushion the Entire Planet


Welcome

Good morning and welcome to J'accuse - la verite' si je mens (the truth if I lie). If you are Maltese and you are reading this blog for the first time chances are that you have read one of Claire Bonello's articles on FM or Manic. Thanks for making the effort and typing in the address of what is probably Malta's most popular blog in your address bar. The last sentence contains an example of tongue-in cheek humour - something that is to be found in great supply in the posts on this blog.

I suggest a little walkthrough through this blog by clicking on previous postsin the section entitled "Hot of the Press" in the right column. To do the time travel thingy without the Delorean then go to the section entitled the "Bollagio" which is a not so smart reference to a vault in a famous film and which contains all the archives of J'accuse. You have material that goes back to 10th March 2005 which is when J'accuse first strated picking on politicians, haranguing columnists and being rude to all and sundry.

J'accuse is not the only blog I write. If you are well versed in Maltese take a look at Kinnie & Twistees a blog that is a bit about Malta and a bit about the rest of the world. In there you will find the series entitled "Folklor Urban ghas-Seklu 21" which has three installations (+ one interlude) entitled Karawett, Kafe' and Kuluri'83 respectively. If on the other hand it's spoofing of Vassalli Maltese that you are after then the chronicles of Gakbu Sfigho in Il Bollettino della Sfi*a are just for you. The Laughing Fit is a project aimed at propagating humour in its basest form. It began as an educational tool for those who keep missing the joke and developed into a collection of funny things suggested to me by readers of J'Accuse.

You may read more about me, my blogging and more on my homepage. Any comments you may have are welcome and may be added on this page by clicking on the word "Comments" at the beginning of this post just near the title.

You might like to know that I post every day or almost. That there are no rules as to the content except that nobody is spared. You might want to get to know every time something new is put up - in that case I suggest an "RSS reader" which is a thingy on the net that allows you to read posts from different blogs as soon as they are up. Nowadays with IE Explorer and always with Firefox you can click on the orange button in the address bar and add the particular blog to what is called your "RSS feed". For a less complicated system just add J'Accuse to your favourites and come back again daily!

There are other blogs out there. Many. I have a short list of some at the end of the column on the right. Enjoy the browsing and please do come back.


Thank You
Finally, a big thank you goes out to Claire for her double mention. I am flattered to be mentioned in the same article as Guze, Immanuel and Pierre. Not to mention Karl Schembri of course!


The idea of this blog is still evolving. It is basically there to "think so you don't have to" as the great vblog philosopher says. We like to put it this way...

"this has been j'accuse... it was either cushion the entire planet... or just your brain."

come again... if not, so long and thanks for the peep.

David and Lorniath

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It's a sad day for j'accuse when we resort to this sorry kind of title. We are aware of its sorriness however and that is a very very good start. Recognising the limits of (your) ignorance is what Lorna is all about. Spoofing her is what we are about. Engaging her in a political debate is either the stuff of losers or of budding politicians in search of an easy victory. Failing to convince the reader when writing an article in answer to a Lornism must fall under the category of "Give Up now".

Why on earth David Agius (a PN MP) decided to tackle Lorna and reply to her article of the 25th October is beyond me. For those of you who forget the article in question it is a piece of unfettered adulation for the Leader of Leaders - known in some circles as Alfossa (*cue rueful noises and boos), in others as Fredu Fredu (*cue waving of handkerchiefs andf throwing of underwear).

The radio deejay and host formerly known as davidagius (one word as per radio presenter) is now a politician with the right to have MP writ after his name. So His Honourable Self has taken over two weeks to reply to Lorna. A simple letter might have sufficed but one of the perks of being an MP is that of having an Opinion that is Valued. Well sort of. So a column he needs. And in this column David Agius regales us with an extensive repertoire of reasons why Nationalist vision is incredibly light years ahead the befuddled vision of the party of the Leader of Leaders.

NOT. Of course not. How do you think DA goes about replying to Lorna and her droolings over Alfred? By writing something smart? By telling us why Smart City is a good thing? By projecting us straight into the core mind of the PN plan for the next decade? Of course bloody not. We get the long litany of Old Socialist Nonos that any person who attended the Eddie Mass Meetings of the late eighties and early nineties had learnt to the heart. A bit like the Litany itself...

Prohibition on Chocolates... Labour's fault
No Tv's ... Labour's Fault
No pluralism ...Labour's Fault
Violence and thuggery ...Labour's Fault
Numerus Clausus ...Labour's Fault
Nationalist gits in the 21st century ...Labour's Fault
Friends with the Axis of Evil ...Labour's Fault
Faulty telephone system ...Labour's Fault
Faulty electrical system ...Labour's Fault
Ugly Airport ...Labour's Fault
The mess we are in today ...Labour's Fault

Ora Pro Nobis I say. So David. You pick on the easiest target available. You chose a non-contest. And you bloody well make a mess of it. You claim to speak about vision yet the only eyes you have are for the past. I know. Labour are not the best apple to choose out of the basket. I've known that for some time. That's why I have never voted them for as long as I have had my vote.

What I really need to see is why I should choose that other apple that has begun to rot. Why my vote should go for the likes of you and that merry band of deejays turned opinionists. Why I should even consider voting for a party that in its eight years in power since the last switch has done nothing to prevent the hundreds like myself who now work for the European institutions from losing their vote come election day.

Incidentally the PN has to stop trumpeting inevitable events as being an achievement. The fact that an island of our size cannot compete in certain industries like salt and caper packaging is not difficult to understand. Even to someone like myself without any degree in economics or radio programming. That in today's world a strong investment in IT knowledge is a must is a fact that has long been known in Baglaore, Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi... so this particular citizen will not be jumping up and down waving a 'kerchief with David's face on because our University decided to be prepared to churn out new IT specialists.

For heaven's sake people. Stop treating the electorate like they are idiots. After 20 years of plastic politics we can see right through the MLPN average politician facade. That odd article in the Times. That odd intervention at a pizza convention. That odd brillantine smile in the photo-op with party leader. They are not inspiring. They just serve to have our stomach churn in revolt. Take note Aaron Farrugia. This is what politics should NOT be about....

As for Lorna. Do us a favour David, and leave the Dame alone. She is fully capable of damaging herself without any help. Thank you.

samedi, novembre 11, 2006

XXXI

Thirty one years ago today Messrs Anthony and Myriam Zammit were celebrating the birth of a newborn son. Apparently the baby was the missing link in the Darwinian theory of evolution since the lack of proportion between limbs and torso as well as the general pelosity of the screaming infant attested to the relationship between homo sapiens and the ape ancestors. In the words of the doctors (and grandma) he looked like a chimp.

Needless to say, the missing link was later baptised Jacques Rene' Nicholas Marcel Zammit at the Gozo Cathedral much to the joy of the extended Zammit and Agius families in Gozo.

Tempus fuggit, man.

vendredi, novembre 10, 2006

Lest We Forget

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Aftermath
Siegfried Sassoon

HAVE you forgotten yet?...
For the world's events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you're a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same-and War's a bloody game...

Have you forgotten yet?...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you'll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz--
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench-
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, 'Is it all going to happen again?'

Do you remember that hour of din before the attack--
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads-those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?...
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you'll never forget.

Siegfried Sassoon, 1920

Zeus, Foie Gras and other things

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A conversation over dinner yesterday sidetracked into the realm of Greek myths and fables. My Greek friend was obviously much better versed in the matter than myself and never confused the Greek names of the deities with their Roman counterparts. Part of my childhood was spent reading various of the love stories, martial exploits and heroic wanders to be found in the Greek mythology, the Arabian nights and anything similar that I might encounter. I could list the names of various deities just as quickly as I could identify the disonaurs from the different periods.

I wonder whether today's children are still tried by Jason, the Minotaur, Demeter and Proserpina, Zeus and this sexual fantasies, Hades and Cerebrus, playful pan and the Argonauts. I wonder whether the interest in dinosaurs is as intense as it was in the eighties when the gretaest question for an eight year old amounted to whether Tyrranosaurus Rex could really outdo a Brontosaurus and how many days it would take for the carcass to be devoured. Yesterday I discovered that behind each name in Greek mythology lies a meaning. So much to learn. So little time.

The culinary experience yesterday was magnificent. We went to a place called "Les Plats Canailles de La Bleue Maison" in Habay-La-Neuve (Belgium). Yesterday was a special menu which I will share with you in a moment. The ambience was amazing, the food divine and the company exquisite. Yes, you guess right... it was a great evening.


La Carte
Un apéritif ma foi … très canaille et ses amuse-bouches

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Un duo de foie gras de canard :
L’un nature à la fleur de sel
L’autre fourré d’une compote de mangue, coulis de mangue infusé au thym
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Une rencontre de produits fermiers …
Un magret de canette rôti et du boudin noir au saindoux, rettich aux gésiers confits, gros champignon de Paris farci d’une purée de pomme de terre au Beaufort, sauce fine aux essences de mandarine.
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« Reblochonnade » aux pommes de terre « Charlotte », crème fleurette et ventrêche, salade de chicon à l’huile de noisette et noisettes grillées.
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Sur une ganache au chocolat noir, un sablé aux épices et banane caramélisée flambée au rhum, glace rhum-raisin.
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Moka et ses mignardises

jeudi, novembre 09, 2006

It's the Demos, Stupid


Donald Ducks Out
The first victim of the undoing of the Bush Administration is Donald "Seek the WMDs" Rumsfeld. And we are grateful to God the ever merciful for that. The man whose arrogance had no limits and who became famous for denying the undeniable and defending the undefendable was asked to step down by Supremo Duh!bya. A general increase in worldwide happiness was registered on the Smiley Scale at the moment of the announcement. This was followed by a sharp dip as Duh!bya announced that Mr Gates from his daddy's administration will be stepping into Donald's shoes. Microsoft were quick to issue a press release announcing that any similarity between the name of the new Defense Sec and Bill G is purely fortuitous. Bill G is involved in aggressive marketing tactics, Bob Gates will be involved in just being aggressive.

Full House (and Senate)
Yep. They've done it. The Americans (note the change in reference as promised) have voted in the Democrats... both Senate and House now have Democrat majorities. The future looks bright. At least for now while we are still gloating on this, the first of Bush's defeats and hopefully not the last. Madame Pelosi, leader of the House, is to be congratulated on her optimism regarding bipartisan cooperation. The hunch is that Congress will be transformed into a battleground for the next two years - a witness to the excessive polarisation provoked by Bush's administration. At least I am happy that my first visit to the US will be to one run by a democrat Congress.

Demokristjani
Another interesting article by Ranier. Christian Democracy remains the ideology I can associate closest with. I find myself on the left side of the CD spectrum which can be as varied as an italian parliament. The role of the Christian Democrat politic in today's world was already being questioned after the fall of the Berlin Wall - and of its greatest enemy. The last fifteen years have been a long period of soul searching for the movement. I do not think that we have come to a stage where it is sufficiently redefined to discover its purpose in post 9/11 days. I definitely believe that it should be above petty reformations around militant catholic structures. The christian democrat vision is about the value of humanity and the human being. It is about building a healthy society to grow up and develop the human potential. It is about a tolerance based on a respect of a number of truths that are self-evident - the truths of natural law and natural rights. These truths should be able to transcend the tight-jackets of "civilisations", "cultures" and "races". It's a long way to go. But the donkey in every christian democrat knows that we can get there.

To Critique or not to Critique

The lifting of all obstacles to anonymous commenting on J'accuse has allowed the good old "anonymous" to return. This time I will enjoy his/her presence - whoever he or she may be. I did notice that others too who would have found creating a Blogger ID too tedious now manage to post comments at ease. Good Good. The more comments the better the discussion.

Two particular comments intrigued me this week. They both came in yesterday and both caused me to giggle uncontrollably. The reason the two comments were written is partially as a reaction to the unmitigated provocation that this blog tends to generate when criticising this or that website or article. Our TGIL posts have become stuff of legend and an appointment that is eagerly anticipated by many of our esteemed purveyors of all that is J'Accuse. We do not reserve the prickly pen of painful criticism solely for the Dame of the Gramatically Unconstructive - rather we have spread our blogging wings and flown over Hogan's, Di-ve's and other budding blunderers of this world.

So enjoy these two gems from the commenting world. I thought I should share them with you since they are posted on previous posts which have been relegated into the Bellagio Vault. I shall be breaking one of the laws of chivalry by speaking about the Knights before the Dames.

First the Knights
Offending Post: Up the Knights!
Comment by: Matthew Paris (author to Mdina Knights portal write-ups)
Comment:

I will not retaliate to your unconstructive and inept criticism to my articles, I will simply limit myself to write that, your serious of write-up’s related to Mdina Knights FC, has substantiated my call that, indeed MKFC did manage to attract a considerable amount of Media coverage and a larger amount of followers – which do also include a number of lone Maltesers based abroad.

Dr. Jekyll – I value your comments:)
Matthew Paris – Author to Mdina Knights FC portal write-ups
I like this comment. Firstly because Mr Paris understood the jesting spirit with which the offending post was penned. Secondly because the very subject of the jest - overuse of bombastic, badly placed words to express basic ideas - is also present in the comment itself. And I have a strong suspicion that Mr Paris is an individual who has fully understood the humorous side of it all and is pulling his own leg there. Any doubt that I harboured quickly vanished with the last part of the comment... "Dr. Jekyll.... I value your comments" adorned with smiley.

Well done Matthew and well done once again MKFC. Just polish up the web site language. You need simple English... after all the game is about the pitch and not the prose. Otherwise I am sure your club will go a long way and - as I have already said - you have been adopted by J'accuse as its mascot team for which we have loads of sympathy and support.

And oh... if you have time... do change that horrendous badge.

Then the Dames
Offending Post: In Vin a Veritas (TGIL)
Comment by: Anonymous (but the comment is peppered with clues about the identity)
Comment:
I can never get myself to understand how someone can critique something without even watching it. That is the problem, we ignorant human beings think that we can judge anything at face-value, without delving into the subject matter and trying to understand the why and how of certain happenings. Well i'm sorry that you are so unaware of your own ignorance, for he who judges a piece of work he has not seen, must be ignorant.
Good Lord. "I" and "myself" in the first five words of the sentence. Then we use the word "critique". See what dictionary.com has to say about usage of the word as a verb:

Critique has been used as a verb meaning “to review or discuss critically” since the 18th century, but lately this usage has gained much wider currency, in part because the verb criticize, once neutral between praise and censure, is now mainly used in a negative sense. But this use of critique is still regarded by many as pretentious jargon, although resistance appears to be weakening.
Well, well. Someone who speaks alot about "I myself" and uses "pretentious jargon". As for any remaining doubts to the authorship I also noted the invitation to "delve deeper into the subject matter". Which reminded me a lot of "Especially appealing to Francophiles, this year I have taken the opportunity to delve deeper into the mystical French language as well as its psyche": which is a phrase taken from the article by Lorna that was being criticised in this post, which post was being attacked by Anonymous.

That's three wiches in the last sentence, and speaking of wiches we must come to the message left by not-so-Anonymous. Basically I am being berated for criticising (I'd love to say critiquing) without seeing. Ignorance I must confess. Ignorance of the play in its Maltese form. Ignorance of the play with abridged Maltese names as translated by the Gramatically Challenged. But ignorant of the article penned by the Dame to promote the play I am not. And that, my dear, was the subject of my post. And that was what was so visciously dissected much to the amusement of the onlookers in this 21st century version of the Pan Circenses. I did not "critique" the play but its promotion. What I did say is that based on the presentation of the play in Lorna's article, I would rather be seen in an MLPN General Conference front seat waving a handkerchief than subject myself to the bastardisation by the Gramatically Inept of a French play.

Ignorantia grammaticae neminem excusat, Lorna. And that counts for you too Anonymous. :)

And finally
Thank you to Andre who implied in one of his comments that this blog comes up with a "classic quote" every now and then. See Anonymous... I got some fans too!

To conclude. Just keep commenting. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. We like them all.

mercredi, novembre 08, 2006

Democrats in the House



This may well be the last post to refer to Duh!mericans in that way. It appears that the Democrats have definitely seized control of the House. The White House has conceded the new Democrat majority in the house. The Senate was still too close a call around an hour ago. It appears that the Democrats are counting on the states of Virginia and Montana in order to obtain that necessary six target Senate seats (four are already in).

One little anecdote encountered in the little hours of the morning (around 2am). The Governor of Ohio turned up at the polling booth without his voting document. He was turned away by the zealous voting officials and was later interviewed by bemused journalists. He would not stop smiling about the "logistical" problem while we could hear his wife shouting in the background "I asked him this morning if he had his card". Behind every great man lies.... a whinger right?

Go the Donkeys!

Urban Folklore

The third installment in the series Folklor Urban ghas-Seklu 21 is here. For those of you well versed in the vernacular (the vernacular being il-Malti) do pop over to Kinnie & Twistees and tell me what you think. Trust me... all opinions are welcome. Even when some tell me that my Maltese efforts are best kept to il Bollettino. Incidentally there's a new short story there too.

Meanwhile, back in the city, the Duh!mericans are off to vote. I promise to shed off the Duh! moniker if the Democrats win both Senate and House. That's a deal. The biggest news on the Duh!merican pages seems to be... Britney Spears files for divorce. Way to go!

Blogs are in the news big time in the Duh!S. It appears that the duh!mericans are in the midst of one of the worst sleaze campaigns ever... and the major blame lies on the manipulation of blogs by both sides. Maybe in this case we should be thanking our lucky stars that the MLPN confederation has not heard much of our blogosphere.

Finally allow me to say that there is the faintest hope that J'Accuse might feature regularly on a weekly paper. Nuff said. We'll wait for the powers that be to decide.

Bonne nuit.

mardi, novembre 07, 2006

Up the Knights!

They still have a badge that would look better on a cheap bottle of plonk than on a football kit (read gear if you never went to SAC). They still stuck to a name that is more deserving of hockey or basketball than of good old footballing tradition. I would have stuck with Università Mdina but that is a personal opinion. Well the latest addition to the MFA has a new funky website which can be found here.

Graphically it's a very good website. Just what it takes for a football club for the 21st century. The music is a bit worrying. You'd expect Clyde Puli to start blabbering away any moment. It might be taking the Mdina and Knight idea a tad bit too far. Then there's the English. They take a page or two out of the Di-ve Guide to Battered Language. Which means... wait for it... a TGIL style J'accuse special (usual rules apply):

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Founding Members
Mdina Knights FC - an idea sprung up by the founding members Sean Buhagiar; Gilbert Camilleri; Keith Galea; and Matthew Paris. Their flair for sports and their ambition to intrude within the administrative side of local football [intruders eh. Now now.], has cast out [Creative language - you can feel them bursting on the scene] a football club which represents Malta's former Capital city. Their struggle to erect a professional structure has materialised [you see my MK friends - the materialisation seems to refer to the struggle and not to the professional structure - the struggle to grasp the basics of grammar goes on though], prove [yep. Prove of this is that you have no idea that it should be Proof] of this is the overwhelming support by commercial affiliates and the hefty [as in hefty fine - with all its negative implications to boot] amount of subscribing members, which in turn translates in a fortified [see? I told you they had wine in mind] vote in favour for such initiative.

Club's Ambitions
The club has embarked in [that's ON folks] an ambitious project to instigate a professional outlook [find a professional outlook and instigate it... probably using a knight's sword... or something] by installing the appropriate corporate structure and a statute, which governs the members behaviour. The committee reckons that mounting a decent environment between policy-setters and makers is of paramount importance [and there we were thinking that they would be playing football]. Such rapport would ignite motivation [fire up the passion ... a Lornesque alternative] and hence inspire all the key stakeholders to perform with due diligence and enthusiasm [elation that has been vetted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers].

Corporate Structure
The club's corporate structure, utilises [note: whatever happened to USES?] a flattened approach [this really took the wind out of their sails] which seeks to endeavour [to endeavour: to try - hmmm to seek to try] a less bureaucratic approach [yes yes. Now try less bombastic] and hence venerate a more dynamic set-up[ Oh! More Dynamic Set-Up we adore you and have brought thee our gifts] whereby individual creativity [and grammatical creativity] is highly fostered. Each committee member is entrusted with a vast portfolio [Minister? give me a break. A vast portfolio!]. The club's Secretary and the Treasurer will both be assisted by an Assistant Secretary and Assistant Treasurer respectively . The other functional areas include the PRO department which entangles the club's image [Fatal fatal: Entangles, confuses even!... ] with its dependants and third party stakeholders [does the club hold some stake in a third party?]; The Team Manager will seek to engage [Oh Mia Patria... from ingaggiare to enroll] the best football team members and is repsonsible for a good rapport between the coach and the Club; The last but not least is the Team Co-ordinator which [They ran out of personnel with vast portfolio's at that point and the TC is actually an inanimate object] will be responsible to co-ordinate player's issues with top management [To understand top management please refer to flattened (less bureaucratic) approach].

***

Thankfully these guys will be in the business of kicking balls and scoring goals. With Nader Toutoungi and Ayrton Buhagiar they have many a milestone to look forward to. It will not be the Booker Prize but they did kick six goals past Ta' Xbiex two days ago and also won the derby against Attard. Pity for the slip up against Sirens. We will look forward to other results by the Knights as they have been adopted as the mascot team by J'Accuse... if not for the goals at least for the kind of football reporting that Lorna can only dream of:

Sirens FC tampered Mdina Knights FC positive run in the third(3rd) division league played on Thursday 19 th October at 20.00hrs at the Centenary Stadium. The squad devoid of players such as James Vella suspended, Mauro Vassallo and Joseph Debono declared unfit, struggled a great deal in the opening minutes of the first half. As time ticked off, MKFC grew bolder and managed to counter the fierce opposition through diverse initiatives by MKFC midfield players. MKFC did also manage to hit the upright through a fine shot by midfield player Aytron Buhagiar. The deadly goal was scored by Sirens, from a dead-ball situation, which alas condemned MKFC to the first ill-positive result in the third division league.

I was about to say that people should stop B.Comm graduates from writing anything that does not involve numbers. But then Lorna is in possession of a Law Degree. So I guess it takes all sorts!

Factually Speaking

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Tuesday is the day I get to check out Maltatoday. Unfortunately the new paper in Maltese called Illum! does not seem to have its own website yet so we have to make do with what Hogan's Heroes give us in their English travails. My pick of the day is Anna Mallia's rant about the red carpet treatment given to Ryanair for its maiden voyage to Malta. The Madam is right when she disapproves of the song and dance being made as though we had never seen a plane before. She is also right to criticise the MIA and Government for their part in this charade. Definitely not something to make us proud... especially since we are still at the stage that the cheapest flights are still on the wrong side of €70 taxes included.

But here is the part where I find Madame's logic slightly weak:

And speaking of subsidies I cannot understand how Ryanair is operating without the official permit from Brussels. This is because if the government is subsidising Ryanair, it had to apply for permission from Brussels and I am informed that such permission has not been granted yet. The confusion that exists regarding enforcement of EU regulations is baffling and it seems that rules in the EU are there for the weak and not for the strong as otherwise how can one explain how this airline can get subsidy from the government without the government having the authorisation to do from Brussels? And how much money from our taxes are we giving Ryanair or is this too much to ask?

Where do I begin? (as Andy Williams/ Shirley Bassey would sing). Ok. Let's go for the paternalistic runthrough. Back to front helps for greater clarity.

Our Money to Ryanair?
Not really. We are not giving them anything. At least not you and me. Directly. That's because the subsidy comes in the form of a discount on taxes. The discount is the discount you and me enjoy (there's more of you and less of me in that sentence). So you see, we do not give. We actually give less (taxes). What Anna must mean is how much of the unjust tax are we not paying to the Government so that Ryanair can come to Malta. Which is not really something to gripe about. Is it?

Confusion in the EU: David & Goliath
The law on State & Aid and Subsidies is actually quite objective. It has absolutely nowt to do with the Big, the Small or the Ugly. The fact that a government (like Malta) creates beneficial incentives in order to attract airlines to serve "underserved routes" is all fair game. Once the government can prove that this is done in the "general economic interest" and for the "public good" there is no problem. Really Anna. Cross my heart. It is useless to come up with Labourite class conspiracy theories about some non-existent European barons who would have some huge pile of money coming to them through the profits of a Malta - Pisa route! If you want to really pick on logic please ask the guys that count why Air Malta is still protected on other routes that are underserved and why the same that applies for Luton and Pisa does not apply for Metz, Frankfurt-Hahn and Dublin.

Commission Permission
Another myth. The Commission does not have a form called "Application for Permission to Subsidise Underserved Routes through Tax Incentives". Nor any other form of similar nomenclature. The truth is that countries are free to do what they please so long as they do not violate EU law. EU law allows subsidies in situations roughly described above. What the Commission will verify is that the right conditions allowing for such subsidies to be in place subsist. Substantially. That is different from "obtaining permission". Essentially it is assumed that whenever going about their governing, states will act within the limits of EU law. If they do not they can accept an Action before the Court (that's where I work guys!) by the Commission asking for them to desist from the illegal situation. Basically government is hoping that all its act is in order and that the Commission finds no flaw in its subsidy system because it is conform to all EU requirements.

***

Now we all know that low cost airlines are very much top of the agenda of this blog. I am surprised that the bigger picture is not being seen so clearly by so many. It is not a matter of facilitating Ryanair. It is a matter of obtaining a level playing field at reasonably competitive prices in order to attract as many airlines as possible to the different routes available to Malta. In most cases the main problem will be the frequency of flights per destination. I would expect certain "holiday" destinations not to have more than two/three times weekly flights. On the other hand - Brussels, Strasbourg, Luxembourg, London, Rome, Paris, Frankfurt should all have more regular flights. I do not have the statistics to prove why... it is just a hunch. But then the statistics do not seem to exist anywhere - not even those that determine the importance of Pisa and Luton. So let's begin by asking what the Maltese Islands need as air links. Then we create the proper package that would attract the right role players. I think that would create a good enough basis for a proper plan fro Tourism (and travel outwards).

Why not Anna?


How long does it last?
Can love be measured by the hours in a day?
I have no answers now but this much I can say
I know Ill need her till the stars all burn away
And she'll be there

lundi, novembre 06, 2006

G.U.I.L.T.Y


"He should suffer the death penalty by hanging".

The trial of Saddam Hussein has ended with a condemnation for the former dictator. None of his courtroom theatrics have spared him the final judgement. He had often declared a preference for the more honourable death by firing squad but this too was denied. He will hang like a criminal - his life taken by others. The hanging wil be a final act that proves that the moustachoed leader controls nothing now... not even his own life.

The debate has begun now between the US and the EU regarding the punishment itself. The EU block does not favour capital punishment and argues for lifetime prison sentences. The US has an altogether different opinion of the death penalty. Probably Bush's men believe that part of the "Democracy for Export" package is in fact the introduction of the death penalty - Duh!merican Democracy has not ceased to amaze people since De Tocqueville toured the States a couple of centuries back.

Now it is the turn of the Iraqi's to be amazed. I doubt that many of them believe that their troubles will be over the moment the neckbone cracks and the Rais breathes his last breath. On the other hand, if they are lucky enough and with a couple of well timed appeals they will probably have the noose around the Rais' neck just in time for the Presidential elections.

Allahuakbar... and please do find time to Bless America.

dimanche, novembre 05, 2006

Furia: Cavallo del West

Firefoxy

Yesterday was the limit. After Kenneth posted his comment on my Gadget post I tried replying. I wanted to tell Kenneth that I had watched the Borat film and that it was good. I wanted to crack a stale joke about his second post scriptum which reminded me of Playstation. But I could not. My Blog would not let me post comments. I tried using Camino, Safari, Firefox and ultimately even IE - all to no avail (aside - what's an "avail" anyway?). So having enough spare time this morning I revised the whole J'accuse script and guess what... it seems to be working.

Ladies and Gentlemen, comments may now be left at your leisure. The blog no longer rules... and I am back in command. I have this nagging feeling that this month no great technological enterprises should be begun. Until now I have only had a run of bad luck with all things technological so I will wait for a few days for the dark technological jinx to pass. Meanwhile let me end this technical note with a few reading and viewing suggestions:

At the cinema:
Watch Borat's film with a long-winded name. It's a great laugh that exposes Duh!merica's finest moments. It's out in Luxembourg so it should be out in Malta soon. I expect some protests by the anti-penis league when people find out that there are one or two penises that are visible in the film. No tits though... but that does not meant that you should not go watch... it's wildly entertaining and offers some cringeworthy moments when some of Borat's interlocutors bring out the best (or worst) of themselves. Jagshemash.

On DVD:
I belatedly watched Benigni's La Tigre e la Neve... another great film by the master. Buy, rent and enjoy.

On Hardbound Books:
Wintersmith by Pratchett. It's a Pratchett book for heaven's sake... do you need to know anything else before you go out and buy it?

On Softer Books:
"The Religon". A gripping book that's full of shit (literally). It's based around the Great Siege of Malta but gives itself the licence to wander in and out of the historical thread. Story's cool. In war there are no winners or losers - even more so in a war between two fanatical regimes who think they are right and divinely inspired. Take Bush vs Saddam/Osama, replace them with Knights of St John vs Janissaries and Ottomans and you get the ticket. I will not spoil any parts of the story like some reviewer for Lifestyle magazine managed to do... Buy it. Oh yes, the author is a crazy looking guy called Tim Willocks.

On Tape:
Dug out some old tapes from my early "rave" period. Recordings from Radio Agrigento Centrale and other Italian stations back in the days when Radio 101 was just a nightmare in the making. Dj's Albertino, Molella and Zappala. I particularly cherish the rave mix of "Furia Cavallo del West" - the irony of the fast beat mixing with the lyrics "furia cavallo del west che beve solo cafe" always made me chuckle. Not to mention "che lava i denti col seltz". Only for the intiated. But hey... some people like Morrissey :)

Here's the lyrics for your delectation:

Furia Cavallo del West
authors: Albertelli - De Angelis
sung by: Mal

Furia a cavallo del west
che va piu' forte di un jet
quando fa il pieno di fieno
se no non sta in pie'

Furia a cavallo del west
che beve solo caffe'
per mantenere il suo pelo
il piu' nero che c'e'
io vorrei salire con te
e con te mezz'ora sarei
il capo dei banditi
prima io son piccolo io
tocca a me giocare con te
sono lo sceriffo io
tu sta zitto sono il capo dei banditi
sono lo sceriffo io
ma su Furia si sta anche in tre

Furia a cavallo del west
che lava i denti col seltz
per poi sorridere bene in fondo e' sul set
viva la Furia del west
cintura di karate'
per sgominare la banda
piu' in gamba che c'e'
io vorrei salire con te
e con te mezz'ora sarei
il capo dei Moicani
prima io son piccolo io
tocca a me giocare con te
sono Davy Crockett io
tu sta zitto sono il capo dei Moicani
sono davy crockett io
ma su Furia si sta anche in tre

Furia a cavallo del west
che va piu' forte di un jet
quando fa il pieno di fieno
se no non sta in pie'

Furia a cavallo del west
che beve solo caffe'
per mantenere il suo pelo
ilpiu' nero che c'e'

Furia a cavallo del west
che lava i denti col seltz
per poi sorridere bene in fondo e' sul set
viva la Furia del west
cintura di karate'
per sgominare la banda
piu' in gamba che c'e'

Furia a cavallo del west
che va piu' forte di un jet
quando fa il pieno di fieno
se no non sta in pie'

Furia a cavallo del west
che beve solo caffe'
per mantenere il suo pelo
il piu' nero che c'e'

samedi, novembre 04, 2006

Gadget


If it's a gadget I want it. I am a victim of the twenty-first century's dawn where gadgets are the vogue, where private videos are viewed by thousands online and where the Guinness book of records is no longer sufficient to catch up with the weird, the crazy and the fantastical. There's the man who took a photo of himself every day for six years and pasted it all together. There's people making all kinds of crazy shapes with pumpkins. There's the bunny that opens letters for its master and the cat that squeezes into a vase. There's Israeli soldiers nullifying the meaning of human shield and there's Americans who still think that Throwing a Jew down a Well is a good thing.

Crazy times indeed. "May you live in interesting times" is an ancient Chinese curse and there is no doubt that we live in interesting times indeed. My EyeTV package was returned to sender after the chronicled troubles it gave me. Instead I have bought a Griffin Ipod Transmitter that allows my iPod to speak to my car radio and suddenly gives me access to a driving choice of 500 songs. The sudden rush of commercial fancy also means that I have a new flat screen TV courtesy of Samsung - 102cm - you should see Fifa 2007 on this baby. Clothing and apparel are not spared the sudden consumeristic viral attacks... I have now got a jogging top that allows my skin to breathe while keeping me warm and a pair of goretex running shoes that will allow me to jog in the snow if ever I am crazy enough to do that.

So I am happy with my new toys. Now someone has to invent a way how to prevent Melanie's lip gloss leaving that melony taste on my coke cans after she takes a sip... he has a guaranteed buyer in this 21st Century Commodities Sucker.

So no I.M. Jack this week. Because Jack is too happy with his toys. And to think that my birthday is only next week!

P.S. For the Paradise of Gadgets and weird stuff never miss a daily post on Boing!Boing!

vendredi, novembre 03, 2006

Repristinated

Reprise
Esteemed readers are advised that following the unavoidable hiatus, normal service has been repristinated at J'Accuse. Service will also resume in other blogs such as Kinnie&Twistees, the Laughing Fit and last but not least (we are informed) at il Bollettino della Sfiga. We do not apologise for any inconvenience caused to those 124 persons who seem to have logged on daily in our absence. We told you we would not be here till Thursday... didn't you believe us?

***
Refill
As promised in an earlier post that I am not bothered to look up, I will not be pressing my brain cells to remember all things bloggable in my absence. Such matters will be confined to the Lost & Never to Be Retrieved Section. I must say that I am definitely worried about the withdrawal symptoms that still afflict me when I am unable to blog - even about the most trivial of matters. I might seek professional help, but then that would mean that I would return to being a Non-Blogger... and that was a painful enough thing to write... let alone to be.

***
Dramatis Personae
The blogrolls on the Maltese Blogosphere are evolving. In the beginning they were simply lists of all who exist. Then came sophistication and with it pull-down menus, the various classifications and the first omissions appeared (or disappeared) as the expansion continued. The recent contractions meant that they were refined. Some bloggers chose to list those who they read, others those who they like, others still choose not to list. Interesting. I am flattered to be still included in Robert's list of ten blogs he reads... notwithstanding my conscientious objection to his blogs' nomination for the journalism awards. Ever the impartial observer Robert chose to ignore my wild meanderings and braved the storm by either ignoring its existence or taking advantage of the fact that after all this blog might very well be my very own personal tea cup. Then again Fausto's appeal for my swift return would also have been interesting, had their not been a not so subtle inference to be made - that J'accuse is one of the few blogs that provides constant (but not necessarily quality) reading. So be it. I just love the blogosphere.

***
Is anybody out there?
Which is about the time where J'Accuse lazily asks readers who have a blog of their own and which is not in our blogroll to point it out - either privately at jacques dot zammit at gmail do com or by leaving a comment. If you are using Firefox, I still have not figured out why the comments feature is disfunctional. Remember that clicking on the particular post title in the Hot Off the Press setion will help you in leaving a word or two in the comments box.

***
Food
Somehow the bocca style posts always require an end piece about food. I could talk to you about the incredible stomach aches I have had over the last two days that kept me away from food... but I can hear you all shouting at me to spare you the details. So instead I will tell you that should you ever come across a Bergamot Tea Jam (gelee de The au bergamot) buy it. It's heavenly when spread on the right piece of toast over a thin film of butter.

***
So there you have it. We are up and running. And in case you were wondering, the marvelous piece of technology that caused the hiatus has been returned to vendor with all of the 319 euros that were originally dispensed returning to my pocket. No worries. Since I am on holiday all of the money has been spent at the Factory Discount Stores in Zweibrucken (which is near Saarbrucken, which is in Germany,). I am now fully equipped to jog in the snow. But that is another story....

God... it sure feels great to be back.