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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Bev's Blog

Beverley Oliver from Western Australia who blogs here is in Malta on a working holiday. Her first impressions of Malta: 'It is fabulous, so old, so crowded so ramshackle, so dusty, so steeped in history. I arrived Sunday night just on dark and was smitten.' Before her conference started, she found the time to visit Valletta which she found fascinating: 'It is an old, ancient--walled city built by the Knights. They built the city is such a way that tall buildings supply shade to narrow streets, and the streets run in long straight lines so the whole area gets the coastal breeze.' From Bev's Blog:

Early this morning-yes, 8am! I heaved myself and baggage onto a local Bentley bus (these also came with the knights, I think) and rumbled along with the locals for about an hour to a bay in the northwest corner of Malta called St Paul's Bay. Apparently he was shipwrecked here and lingered on to make many Christians before resuming his travels (why isn't there an Epistle to the Malteesers in the Bible?). Anyway this is package tourism deluxe and I am now staying at the Faulty Towers of Malta. Don' be fooled by those tab photos: my room wasn't ready for hours, no luggage brought up until several hours later. But these are minor annoyances; there is also no running water... So having had a dip in the pool between conference sessions of course. I am now sitting patiently waiting to have a shower. Even a wash would be good. I suspect these giant hotels are slapped up and who knows or cares, what works! Anyway, it does not really bother me-all part of the fun. I have a lovely balcony, a view of the Med, a nice room and so on...

Maltese culture in New York

Daniel Vella is an architect living in New York and the promoter of a museum known as La Cour des Boucliers located in the town of Piermont, New York. The museum, designed by Vella, is dedicated to the Crusades, the Order of St John and the history and culture of Malta. In this letter to The Times he is calling for the collaboration of other Malta based artists. From the Times:

The building is a work of art in progress. The facade has been created in the Norman-style architecture with details adapted from the houses at Mdina. The building is now being covered with cremo marble and travertine. Inside there are various halls with mosaic floors commemorating periods in Maltese history. The coffered ceilings consist of oil paintings of the coats-of-arms of the Maltese nobility and there are in addition 29 oil paintings of the emblems of the renaissance popes.

I am an architect and I have designed and financed the entire works and created all of the mosaics. These have been unveiled by prominent persons. Both President Emeritus Guido de Marco and President Emeritus Ugo Mifsud Bonnici have visited the museum. I have commissioned full-size portraits of the Grand Masters of the Order of St John. At present I have an excellent artist who has produced four paintings in four years for my collection meant to comprise over 70 portraits.

I am now seeking additional Maltese artists to speed up the results so that I can start to hold historical exhibitions. I will be in Malta until July 16 and I would like artists to personally contact me at the Grand Hotel, Mgarr, Gozo, where I am staying. I shall meet them so that I may commission the balance of the works accordingly.

The Great siege of Malta and the Knights of St John - Exhibition in Valletta

Torture committee on working visit

A delegation of the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) visited Malta last week to investigate the treatment of irregular immigrants in Malta. It was the Committee's fifth visit to Malta. From the Council of Europe website:

The main purpose of the visit was to follow up the implementation by the Maltese authorities of the recommendations made by the CPT concerning the detention centres for foreigners visited in January 2004. The delegation also sought information concerning the enquiry ordered by the prime Minister, Mr Lawrence GONZI, into incidents at Safi Barracks in January 2005.

In the course of the visit, the delegation held meetings with Tonio BORG, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice and Home Affairs, Judge Franco DE PASQUALE, who has been entrusted with the above-mentioned enquiry, and Brigadier Carmel Vassallo, Commander of the Armed Forces of Malta. In addition, it met a number of senior officials from the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs, as well as from the Armed Forces.

In the middle of immigration woes - Wired Temples

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Cleaning up

Martin left Innsbruck, Austria to live and work in Malta for at least a year. He has been staying in St Paul's Bay for over a month and has been consistently blogging here about his observations of Maltese society and his unusual discoveries around the island. In one post he draws comparisons with Ireland ( where he also lived) on the issue of litter and general cleanliness. He will be relieved to know that new legislation announced yesterday will introduce eco-wardens and hefty fines for littering as from January. From sefekht.com:

I keep drawing comparisons between Ireland and Malta, and I have another one today: Litter. Ireland s streets and countryside became so dirty and littered that at one point the business association put up adverts all over the country, but especially at the airports and seaports. They said, Welcome to Ireland. Sorry about the litter, and things like that. This embarrassment caused the Irish government to fast-track some legislation that had been in hibernation, which introduced new litter warden positions and powers, and they introduced a tax on plastic bags, which were so populous that some said that they were the symbol of Ireland. No tree was to be found without the plastic fruit caught in it s branches.

Malta desperately needs legislation and wardens with power. I would have to vote Malta the dirty streets capital of Europe. Not that I ve been all over Europe, but I was recently in a Czech town called Cesky Krumlow (which I can thoroughly recommend visiting), and the contrast is stunning between any place in Malta and that town. It s the cleanest place I ve ever been. There wasn t one item of litter to be seen. Not on the streets, not in the parks, not in the river. By contrast, Malta has dirty streets, dirty countryside, dirty seas...

Malta has so many qualities that it s sad to see poor government and lazy attitudes spoil what could be a much nicer place. Other ways that Malta is like Ireland in the early 80s: small expensive shops; poor services; unregulated building; lots of back door dealing; prominence of religion. But then there s also so much modernity too. There are places where the service is excellent. There are new cars on the streets. The internet connection is on a par with the UK (and better than Austria and Ireland). But, together, it s quite a mixture. You walk along broken footpaths, enter a very old shop with dusty food tins on the shelf, and have to jump out of the way of inattentive drivers.

First day in Malta; Maltese workmanship; Gozo and Mdina

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Maltese transgressions

Following last month's publication of his poetry book, KM, Immanuel Mifsud is now launching his long awaited collection of short stories, Kimika. The book will be launched this Thursday at the Razzett l-Antik in Valley Road, Qormi, at 7.30pm. Today's Malta Independent reports that the book is "bound to create a stir mainly because of its controversial content, which some readers may find too direct and objectionable". Mifsud has just got back from Ireland where he launched yet another collection of his poetry called Confidential Reports translated by Maurice Riordan. In this interview with Malta Today Immanuel explains the disturbing nature of Kimika:

That book is very different from km, mostly because it centres on Malta as I see it today. It is a scrutinous peep at private moments of a number of very different characters, some very private moments I would say. Sexual abuse of minors features in more than one story, substance abuse, murder and other criminal acts. Kimika is not the book I enjoyed writing most because it gives a grim portraiture of Maltese contemporary life. There are themes which so far have not featured in Maltese fiction. I had no intention to shock but it seems that the book is quite disturbing, so much so that the publishers that had originally decided to put the book in print had second thoughts just days before it had to be out for sale. Now thanks to Klabb Kotba Maltin, the book will hit the bookstores this summer. Despite the acerbity of some of the stories in that collection there is still room for humour and satire, particularly aimed at the media...

Immanuel Mifsud - from Wired Temples

Blogscape - Maltese blogging according to Mifsud

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Monday, June 27, 2005

The other Maltas

Our Republic does not hold exclusive rights on the name of Malta. There are other Maltas hundreds of miles away. Apart from the town of Malta in the Southern Austrian state of Carinthia which I plan to visit this Autumn, there are several others scattered around the United States:

Malta, Idaho - A city located in Cassia County, Idaho. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 177. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.7 km²..

Malta, Illinois - A village located in DeKalb County, Illinois. As of the 2000 census, the village had a total population of 969.

Malta, Montana - A city located in Phillips County, Montana. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 2,120. It is the county seat of Phillips County6.

Malta, New York - A town located in Saratoga County, New York. As of the 2000 census, the town had a total population of 13,005.

Malta, Ohio - A village located in Morgan County, Ohio. As of the 2000 census, the village had a total population of 696. It is on the west side of the Muskingum River, opposite McConnelsville, Ohio.

Malta Bend, Missouri - A town located in Saline County, Missouri. As of the 2000 census, the town had a total population of 249.

Malta Township, Minnesota - A township located in Big Stone County, Minnesota. As of the 2000 census, the township had a total population of 90.

Via the open resource Opentopia

Theories of life and death

20 year old Victoria is a student at the University of Malta and blogs at Vic-Tor-Eee-Yah. Her blogger profile states that she is easy-going and does'nt like to be judged or tested -"There is much more to me than what meets the eye. I always try to be friendly and unbiased in my thoughts." Inspired by the recent loss of her beloved grandmother - widow of former Maltese Finance Minister Guze Abela - she contemplates the 'concept of death' in her latest post:

I had a bad habit which I dont know how it developed, why or how it ended. I used to imagine my death scene. For example, I would be driving and my mind would run into an image where i swerved to the other side of the street and hit a tree. It happened quite often - say once a day. Then suddenly it never happened again. I never feared death. I was always into weird stuff and due to my father's work, I have grown in a surrounding where death was a normal event like anyother. Many of my extended family already left for the better world and I had to deal with death at a tender age. Death only affected me at the age of 18 where I created a phobia for driving. I already had two cousins who died at 18 in a traffic accident. I didnt want to be the third. In fact I started driving lessons pretty late and it took me ages to relax and drive. I still remember the day before my 19th birthday. I was sure that it was the last day of my life, then I turned 19 and I was soo relieved. lol. I laugh it off now because it is definately something unique to me - me and my crazy theories of life.Then I thought, am I the only one who thinks this way? Is there another fool that takes time to think on these ideas?

A reminder of Baghdad

Sam and Jenna's European Adventures offers an "insight into the craziness" of the life of Sam and Jenna who are exploring Europe from their base in Echzell, Germany. In this piece, they describe their Malta visit:

We were only home for three days before heading to the Mediterranean island of Malta with a group of Sam’s friends from his old armor battalion. Malta is actually a group of islands located between the coasts of Italy and Africa. The islands themselves seemed very dry and Arabesque (see pics) and the guys who’d been to Iraq said both the landscape and architecture reminded them eerily of Baghdad. This is understandable because many world powers have at one time inhabited Malta and claimed it as their own, and the Arabs are no different. The Mediterranean was an amazing deep blue and (although it was a wee bit cold) we enjoying swimming in several areas.

We also did some cliff jumping and sun tanning, so both Sam and I were happy. The rock formations were breathtaking and we even got to take in a local festival. The friend who organized the trip, Brian, is actually Maltese and he and his family own some property there, so we had the added benefits of a free place to stay, someone who spoke the language, and who could take us to all the worthwhile sites--not to mention some stellar company. It was a relaxing trip and I think it was really nice for Sam to be able to spend some quality time with his long lost amigos...

Research on Malta

RoMWeb, the research on Malta website is a compilation of social science research on Malta. According to the now dormant site it aimed to do two things: to present a comprehensive, up-to-date bibliographic listing of scholarly research published since 1990 on the politics, society and economy of Malta & to make as much of this work as possible available in full-text viewable form. Charles Polidano goes on to explain: Plenty of work in these areas has been undertaken, by Maltese and non-Maltese scholars alike. But it is scattered across several disciplines and a wide range of publications. This means that much of it is immediately accessible only to specialists, even though its relevance extends well beyond narrow disciplinary boundaries. Moreover, researchers in Malta can find it difficult to gain access to work published abroad—and vice versa! Hence this website..

Listing by subject; Listing by author; Related links; What’s new; Further information

Sunday, June 26, 2005

An amazing day

Zaidman & Smith, travelling on the massive cruise liner Queen Elisabeth 2, stopped in Malta for a day earlier this week. From DanceMetaphor:

Valletta, Malta. The port was absolutely stunning, square sandstone buildings, brilliant sunshine and gorgeous blue water. We awoke early, arranged to meet up with some crew and caught a taxi into town. We ate in a cute little cafe, with cute maltese staff serving us. Quality food for the first time in weeks!! And then we met up with Francis the Mad Maltese Taxi driver. He took us in his mighty chariot.... a 1974 Datsun with vinyl bench seats, doors that flung open when turning right, no seat belts and 3 million kms on the clock!!! 50 minutes later we were in Golden Bay Beach. One of the only sandy beaches close to the ship.

Paul started squealing and jumping about when he saw the para-sailing and jet-skiing and there wasnt much stopping him. Off he went for his first ever jet-ski experience. You could hear his excitement from the beach, it was fantastic.We then hopped onto a 20 seater boat where the driver took us out of the bay and into another bay where we saw the most magnificent electric blue waters. We entered these fabulous limestone caves and took a dip in the clearest water I have ever seen. We moved onto these little alley ways of limestone with crystal clear, bright blue water and found another cave to swim in...

This is an amazing place, the QE2, it has gut wrenching lowes (literally) and exhilarating highs. Its a roller coaster ride, thats for sure. Our day in Malta will keep us inspired, happy and energized for the next few weeks. The next two days are at sea, then we are in Lisbon Portugal and then another sea day and back in sunny Southampton. After this cruise we do another short weekend cruise and then off to Norway again! Ahhh... we've been away nine weeks now... over the half way mark... its an amazing experience!!

Queen Elizabeth II berths in Malta's Grand Harbour

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Reading into the side of the Visual

Geof Huth from Schenectady in New York blogs at dbqp: visualizing poetics about visual poetry and personal experience. In this post he writes about Brian Whitener's poem:

In "Bull," the obscuring photo is dominated by a rusting metal pillar, with the word "MALTA" scratched into it. The photograph seems not quite in focus at any point (the depth of field apparently ending in front of the pillar itself), and the central point of the photograph is a bit overexposed, almost obscuring the name "MALTA" itself. The photograph disrupts the flow of the words and seems out of context.

What could the point be of Malta? a Mediterranean island, where they speak plenty of English and a language descended from Arabic but written in the Latin alphabet.* But if we read the visible part of the underlying poem, we learn that it consists of jarring bits of text. Sabine women, green ducks, and plastic windshields are all part of this poem, and their dissimilarity is the point. The poem itself gives us hints: "frequent essential know[ledge]" and "it is therefore impossible." The poem cannot tell us what to think because the world doesn't allow it...

Friday, June 24, 2005

Birds of Passage

Lou Drofenik born Zammit recently launched her first novel, Birds of Passage, to Maltese readers at Dar l-Emigrant. She emigrated to Australia in 1961 under the “Single Women Scheme” and has been living in Melbourne for the past 40 years. “It is a love story,” she told the Malta Independent on Sunday, “and the women are fictitious characters” but it gives the reader an opportunity to discover a bit more about Malta’s history and culture as it deals with complex migration experiences and describes what society was like in the late 19th century. The book is the result of ten years of graduate research on Maltese women. From MaltaTopics

The book BIRDS OF PASSAGE by Dr Lou Drofenik nee’ Zammit was launched at the Maltese Centre in Parkville on March 15. It is the story of five women who left Malta, a small island still gripped by the vicissitudes of the World War, to experience a new life in Australia. The book is a treasure-trove of aspects of social and political life in Malta at the time contrasted to life on the new continent. This is what the Consul General of Malta for Victoria Dr Clemente Zammit said in introducing the author:

To those who, as I did, knew Lou a long time ago in Malta, “Birds of Passage” is an apt description of her rather short-lived life on the island. I knew her as a child through my nanna Stella, who would later describe Lou and her sister Georgina as outstanding students, blessed with talents that belied their humble origins and that were beyond the reach of most of us coming from the same background.


In the kind of sheltered life we lived in those days – in the embrace of loving, tight-knit families – we were rather awed to learn in our teens that Lou and her sister were leaving the nest in search of discovery in a far away land. Little did it cross our minds that the move could well have been motivated by a desire, among others, for intellectual development. It seemed as if their leaving was an act of betrayal to a lifestyle in the shadow of the imposing basilica of St Helen in the village of Birkirkara. It was as if all of a sudden the narrow streets of the village had come to symbolize the drabness of social life in Malta still ravaged by the destruction of World War II...

Europe of misunderstandings

In this special feature on Cafe Babel states that "our linguistic diversity is one of our riches but, as the failure of the Brussels Summit shows, Europeans do not understand one another. The simplicity afforded by a single language is complicating the struggle for multiplicity." In this piece Lindsey Evans asks, Are you speaking my language?:

The Maltese start learning a foreign language aged 5, Finnish schools teach up to 4 different foreign languages, and 80% of Danes are fluent in another tongue. Then there’s the British… British kids lag behind in languages (EC) Multilingual communication is the oil that keeps the wheels of international co-operation turning, makes intercultural understanding possible and strengthens our sense of world citizenship. And it comes in pretty handy for global trade. People with language skills have better job prospects, better brain function and, if a poll of UK dating agencies is to be trusted, greater sex appeal and self-esteem. What better reason to become a polyglot?

Europe of misunderstandings - a selection of articles

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Martin Belam's Malta

Martin Belam who blogs at currybetdotnet is "a new media geek at the BBC writing about search, the web, the media, politics, transport, the BBC, Walthamstow, football, music, and other stuff...". He spent a week in Malta with his wife and friends a couple of months ago. He has just blogged about his first days in Malta:

Malta Day 1: Valletta's bus station is a massive roundabout, the centre-piece of which is the impressive Triton Fountain. It's always disappointing though to see old buildings scarred by racist and fascist graffiti, which was the case with the stairwells that you climbed to get up to the higher level of the city...Our favourite sight in Valletta? A poster advertising a 'Rabbit, Cat and Bonsai show' which has to be one of the oddest combinations imaginable. How do you come up with a show like that - "Hmmm, we've got rabbits. And we've got cats. What we are really missing to make this a marketing coup is to add tiny trees"?...

Malta Day 2: Here we visited St Agatha's Catacombs. These rock-cut tombs feature frescos from the 12th to the 15th century, although they have had their faces rubbed off by later Turkish invaders to the island. There is also an amazing surviving rock-cut painted Christian Altar from the 4th century. I did find it strange that in several places the bones of those buried there were simply left exposed as a tourist attraction...The courtyard with the entrance was also adjacent to a school, so we also had the fun of being abused through the window by some young Maltese kids - good to see juvenile delinquency alive and well - and they weren't even wearing hooded tops so we could easily identify them...

The restaurant had artwork on display for sale, much of which depicted semi-naked women with 80's hair-do's done in a vibrant colour style aping charcoals. One in particular spawned the comment "She's got Tina Turner eyes" which became a catch-phrase for the rest of the holiday, and is now firmly on my list of titles for future m-orchestra tracks. They also had a really strange muzak selection in the background, which featured bland cover versions of a selection of dance and house tracks reproduced badly on cheap(er) keyboards, and an astonishing rendition of "Girlfriend In A Coma". Why on earth would you pick "Girlfriend In A Coma" as a track to make into a muzak version?...

Malta Day 3: At one point the bus got completely stuck going forwards and had to execute an insanely difficult reversing manoeuvre. Vittoriosa, although we didn't get to stop off in it, looked an interesting, if sad place. It was the site of Malta's dockyards, but many of the buildings and warehouses by the shipyard seemed desolated and beaten-up. It suggested that at one time it had been magnificant, but the disrepair was tragic to see...

Malta Day 4: A trip to Gozo

Shopping

The new anonymous malta blogger is unhappy with local shops and prefers to opt for online shopping. From Why are Maltese shops so terrible?:

Go to buy something, you'll find it's been lying there for ages. It's either something lying in a shop window, gaining dust and becoming yellow due to the sunshine (and we have a lot of that), or it's old technology still being sold at yesterday's prices. I mean you can shop online and get a cheaper deal within the EU... Even if you want to buy a DVD, it's often cheaper to get it from websites like Amazon.co.uk than to get it from D'Amato or Exotique. The prices are often twice as expensive at the local shops I mentioned, and you can't find anything different from standard hollywood fare and little else. Try to get a tv show dvd box set. You will get strange looks...

Sun, sand, beaches and studying

Candice is trying to concentrate on her medical studies:

In retrospect, this year has been a rollercoaster...mentally, emotionally... moving miles across the Atlantic and landing here. Malta. The island of sun, sand, and beaches, beaches, beaches. But I'm here to study, study, study... something that I painfully must admit, I did not do this year. I don't know how I managed to pass... that is if I managed to pass. I guess I'll find out in July. At least I know how much I'm gonna have to work next year if I ever want to step foot in a hospital in scrubs with scalpel in hand...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Exploring referendum results

A new Eurobarometer survey just published explores the results of the French and Dutch referenda on the European Constitution in an attempt to throw some light on why citizens voted as they did. The citizens of France and the Netherlands rejected the EU's new proposed Constitution - 54.8% against in France on 29 May, and 61.6% against in the Netherlands on 1 June. The failed referenda are widely seen as a turning point in the European construction process, which is also held up by disagreements over the Union's budget for the 2007-2013 period. This new survey demonstrates that the public across Europe tends to increasingly identify the Union with too much economic liberalism, and there is also a perceptible dissatisfaction with Brussels and a growing resentment to the EU's enlargement.

According to Eurobarometer, the majority of those who supported the Constitution were aged 55 or older (54% of all voters in France and 48% of all voters in the Netherlands). Among those who voted Yes, the most often cited spontaneous explanation was that the Constitution is "essential in order to pursue the European construction (France: 39%, Netherlands: 24%)

Among those who voted No, the relative majority of French citizens cited their fear of the Constitution's harmful effect on employment (31%) and the current status of their country's economy and the labour market (26%). Many French voters who chose Non also thought that the Constitution was "too liberal" (19%) or not "social" enough (16%). Among the Nee voters in Holland, the relative majority cited "lack of information" (32%) and they also cited their fear of a loss of national sovereignty (19%) or complained about the cost of Europe for taxpayers (13%)

In the Eurobarometer samples, 88% of the French and 82% of the Dutch respondents voiced their conviction that EU membership was a good thing. At the same time, while the French (along with the Spanish) widely support the notion of a Constitution for Europe being essential for European construction, the Dutch are far less convinced and most of them disagree

Overall, opinions on the European institutions are fairly negative: while 53% of the French saw them in a positive light, 61% of the Dutch respondents saw them in a negative light. Elsewhere in the EU, public support for the Constitution is on the wane too. In Portugal, a recent poll showed that 49.2% of the citizens would vote against the Constitution. Popular support for the Yes camp is decreasing in Luxembourg and Denmark. Both countries aim to hold a referendum on the issue in July and September, respectively. Some 57% of the public in Poland would support the Constitution, down from over 60% in May. Recent surveys in the Czech Republic and Ireland also show a slump in public support.


Read the Flash Eurobarometer reports: "The European Constitution : post-referendum survey in the Netherlands" (pdf – 829Kb) and "The European Constitution : post-referendum survey in France" (pdf – 555Kb); In Europe, division between old and new - Judy Dempsey for the International Herald Tribune writes that "Many West Europeans did not really absorb enlargement last year. Now, they are keenly aware of it, and fear the EU may be aggravating the threats of globalization by opening borders to cheaper labor and cheaper products."; Two visions for Europe; Immanuel Wallerstein on the ambiguous French 'No' to the European Constitution; From Wired Temples: A Pro-European NO?; Europe, Malta and the Labour Party; Alfred Sant writes To ratify or not to ratify; What the Maltese think about the EU: interview with the Malta Independent on Sunday about the results of the Eurobarometer report on Malta.

Top Ten Euro-cliches for journalists from Observer Blog - 'Malta is too plucky for words'

WoWonderland

A Maltese Smiths fan living in England blogs at WaWeasill in WoWonderland. He writes "Insib kull skuza biex ma nahdimx u biex ma naghmilx attivita' fizika. Sibt xoghol barra mill-Blata, kif isibuha xi nies, hekk kif kont ghadni kif niggradwa mill-Universita'. From his latest post:

..Dalghodu kont qed nikkorrispondi bl-e-mejl ma' Jurgen. Semmejna l-Grand Prix li saret fl-Amerka l-Hadd li ghadda, u l-farsa li nqalghet meta spiccaw telqu sitt karozzi biss minn 'l fuq minn ghoxrin karozza, minhabba li r-roti li kienu qed juzaw dawk il-karozzi li spiccaw ma hadux sehem, kellhom difett. Il-Ferrari ma ridux li tinbidel dawra minnhom biex inaqqsu l-velocita, u b'hekk perezz li lanqas riedu li jinbiddlu r-roti Michelin, spiccaw telqu dawk is-sitt karozzi li kellhom ir-roti tal-Bridgestone. Jurgen iccajta illi Xarabank kienu qed jahsbuha jaghmlux il-programm li jmiss dwar din il-grajja, pero rega' bdielhom ghax ma tantx kienu jgawdu vantagg politiku l-PN minn programm bhal dak. Allura hsibt x'kien jigri kieku t-tellieqa kienet fl-Ewropa. Missier Malta Ewropeja kien jezercita l-influenza fuq shabu l-Ewropej, Gonzi kien jirretifika l-istatut minghajr mistoqsijiet ta' xejn, u Tonio Borg, f'isem id-drittijiet umani kien idahhal ligi fil-kostituzjoni sabiex jissalvagwardja hajjet ix-xufiera - u tas-sigar li gew maqtula biex isiru dawk ir-roti, zied Jurgen.

The engine that rules the world

John Naughton, the Observer’s internet columnist, says that Google ( to whom we are grateful for Blogger) is set on global domination. From this week's Spectator:

Google’s business plan, like Microsoft’s, can be summarised in two words: world domination. In 1975 Bill Gates set out his vision of ‘a computer on every desk and every one running Microsoft software’. Si monumentum requiris, circumspice (as Christopher Wren might have said). Google’s declared mission is ‘to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’. By this the company means all the world’s information. At the moment, for example, it is funding a massive project to digitise the entire text of the books in some of the world’s greatest libraries. When complete, a search will enable online perusal of any text that is out of copyright and selective browsing of copyrighted works (something that worries some academic publishers). In a networked world, Google’s role as the gateway to online information could give it tremendous power. We all know what power does to those who wield it. And if we don’t, a Google search for ‘power, acton, corrupt’ will find 205,000 relevant pages in 0.34 seconds.

Fighting AIDS with generic drugs

According to the World Health Organisation, generic drugs are "key to uphill AIDS fight". Ben Hirschler reports for Reuters from Malta:

Generic drugs hold the key to AIDS treatment in the developing world, although a target of getting 3 million people on therapy by the end of 2005 may now be out of reach, according to the World Health Organization. Hans Hogerzeil, its director of medicines policy and standards, said around half of those on AIDS drugs in poor countries were taking generic tablets, most of them made in India. Speaking at a pharmaceuticals conference in Malta, he urged the United States to work with the world health body to include more generics in its AIDS treatment programs, which currently mainly use more expensive branded medicines...

Malta can become a ‘pharmaceutical Silicon Valley’

Economist survey on pharmaceuticals.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Scream

Media students at the University of Malta produce an annual magazine called Scream featuring an assortment of Malta related articles. The project is undertaken with the supervision of the energetic cartoonist and lecturer Gorg Mallia. Eleonora Rose Abela blogs about Scream 2005:

Finally, after 7 months of hard work, meetings, coming up with concepts and generating ideas, the SCREAM 2005 magazine is out!!! This magazine is produced by 3rd and 4th year University of Malta students taking Printing Processes as a credit, lectured by Dr. Gorg Mallia. The whole class (around 70 students) was divided into 3 teams: Editorial, Advertising and Production. I was in the Production team (obviously :P ) and I have to say that I had the pleasure to work with such a team of talented students!! am delighted with the way the SCREAM 2005 turned out...being waaaay modern and different from the past 10 editions! ...

Gorg Mallia Links

No problem in Addis

Thea Demanuele currently working in Ethiopia is surprised to meet someone in the middle of Addis Ababa who happens to be familiar with Malta. From Thea keeps painting the planet:

This guy turns out to be a university student who is also a volunteer with a missionary, where Maltese come down to do missionary work. He is also very good friends with a well known Maltese lawyer who started a project in Ethiopia called ‘Ethiopia OK’, thus this guy comes down to Ethiopia every now and then with some Maltese to work on this project!!! I was amazed! I thought I was the only Maltese in Ethiopia (he he ironically enough, the guy told me that the lawyer also thought he was the only Maltese in Ethiopia)!! ...

The order of Malta in Ethiopia

Brad Pitt fir-Rotunda

Brad Pitt recently made an unannounced visit to Malta to attend a friend's wedding which took place in Mosta's Rotunda Church. Kullhadd reports:

Iz-zjara ta’ Brad Pitt inzammet mistura. Ma nghatat l-ebda pubblicità, tant li wahdiet kienu dawk il-mistednin li attendew ghac-cerimonja taz-zwieg fir-Rotunda, li kienu konxji tal-prezenza tieghu. Id-dhul fir-Rotunda waqt ic-cerimonja taz-zwieg kien ikkontrollat. Brad Pitt kellu jkun ix-xhud ta’ l-gharus - l-attur-kantant Ingliz Matthew Marsden li propju ftit tal-gimghat ilu, izzewweg lil tfajla mill-Mosta. Matthew Marsden iltaqa’ mat-tfajla Mostija waqt li kien hawn Malta ghall-gbid tal-film "Helen of Troy", li fih kellu parti ewlenija. Matthew Marsden kien iltaqa’ mat-tfajla Mostija propju waqt il-gbid ta’ dan il-film meta t-tfajla kienet hadet parti bhala zeffiena fost il-hafna extras Maltin li kienu hadu sehem fl-istess film...

Brad Pitt's trial of the soul - Wired Temples

Loving the English

This article titled Why the Maltese love the English was published by This is Lancashire last month. It argues that "in Malta everybody is helpful, even more so if you are English". Via Maltavista.net:

..Malta's history is entwined with its present. From the stories passed down about the famous battling Knights of St John to the modern Malta Experience state of the art museum and exhibition centre. The centuries-old ramparts of Valetta overlooking the Grand Harbour seem to go on and on. More extensions were added before each battle. If there had been any more warfare the whole island would have been encircled in stone! Even the famous orange bus fleet is being extended with a little help from traditional coachbuilding experts using modern chassis. There are very few beaches on the islands but they make up for this with fine hotels culture galore huge dollops of history more sun on most days than we see throughout July and . . . they drive on the left.

Pakdilpur founded by Maltese Capuchins

Sanil Michael SCJ , blogging from India, writes about Pakdilpur - the oldest parish in the diocese of Jhansi founded by Maltese Capuchin fathers. He gives an account of the history and the present day realities of the surrounding areas. From Sanil Michael SCJ:

If you remember well what happened in Utter Predesh in 1994, the demolition of Babri Masjit, and the killing of Muslims and Hindus and the river of blood that was shed... And the role-played by Rani Lekshimi Bhai and the fight against British are unforgettable part of the Indian History. The fort still remains there with it all proud and beauty. And to this place where we went for our summer village program... the next day we reached the Bishop’s house and in the evening we left for Pakdilpur – where we were assigned to live by the Bishop..

Pakdilpur is the oldest parish in the diocese of Jhansi. And it was began in the early 19s and still it remains, as it was build by the Malta fathers. In the early years of 20th century there came a group of Capuchin fathers from Malta and they started this entire diocese and this mission. Actually it was place was a jungle and there was a very big forest and only there was advisees (tribal people) living in it..

..And when the Malta fathers came they bought thousand acres of land and made use of cultivation and then they brought Christian people from a different place and actually according to the Bishop these were Christian orphans from a distant place. There are 26 Christian families in the village and they do not like to make any contact with other tribes or other people outside of their village...

Monday, June 20, 2005

In Malta with Ben and Jess

Ben and Jessica have set up a blog to record their adventures in Malta. They find something 'strange and new' each day and they invite readers "to stay tuned as the picture of Malta becomes clearer". In this post they review Malta's public transport:

The bus system here is actually really easy to use. We hopped on one of the orange and white Maltese icons on our very first day and got around easily for the first two weeks. All the buses (except for a couple of routes) go to and from Valletta, the nation’s capital. Right outside Valletta there’s a big round-about with the gigantic Triton Fountain in the middle where all the buses stop. If you need to get to the other side of the island, just hop on any bus, it’ll take you to Valletta, then hop off and ask somebody which bus goes to the other side, then hop on and you’re there. Way better than the VTA back home. It’s a simple matrix..

He was right. People just sort of form a congregation near the spot they expect the bus to stop. When the right route number comes along, someone sticks out their thumb like a hitch-hiker, and the bus slows down for the most part. But unless there’s more than two people getting on or off (or if the one person could be as old as two), don’t expect the ride to come to a full and complete stop.

Once you get on the bus, you’ll pay the driver the incredibly reasonable fare of 20 Maltese cents. You’ll see the name of the bus somewhere near the front, or maybe it’s the name of the driver. You’ll also see a picture or shadow-box of the Virgin Mary and a sticker of some other favorite saint, and everyone crosses themselves when you enter the freeway (although we’ll soon be discussing the Maltese version of a freeway). You’ll notice that nowhere in my narrative thus far have I said that the door closed. It never does. Maybe that has something to do with everyone crossing themselves...

Malta Public Transport

The Maltese bus system according to Shan's travel blog - Wired Temples

Europe, Malta and the Labour Party

The editorial of the Malta Independent on Sunday today calls on Labour Party delegates to vote NO at the forthcoming MLP Conference that will decide the party's policy on the ratification of the European Constitution. The decision by the pro-European paper to call for a NO vote is unexpected and will surely raise some eyebrows. Is the paper reflecting the growing cynicism towards the European project that is currently sweeping popular sentiment across Europe? Or is the paper's editor getting his own back on the Labour Party's administration (which is calling for a YES vote) over an article published last Sunday by the party's official newspaper? Whichever reason, the editorial makes a number of pertinent points that deserve 'a pause for reflection' as called for by Europe's leaders - a call from which the Maltese authorities seem immune. From today's TMIS editorial:

..the Labour delegates’ vote is the only way a section of the Maltese population will get to vote on such an important treaty. They will be the only Maltese allowed to do so, since this government of ours has decided there is no need for a referendum. It is amazing that just when Denmark, Ireland and the Czech Republic, followed by Sweden, Finland and Portugal on Friday, decided to postpone their vote, the Maltese papers had the Prime Minister saying, also on Friday, that Malta will ratify the treaty in July. What’s the rush? It is even more amazing that the leadership of the Labour Party is joining in this attempt to force the treaty down the throats of the Maltese..

This is one reason why the delegates of the Labour Party should vote against ratification: to join the many millions in Europe who are complaining that Europe is not delivering what it promised them, and us: a better standard of living, and an economy that can grow and grow, instead of wallowing in recession; who are complaining that the real EU is not the EU it should be; that Europe spends far too much time on regulation, and very little time in alleviating poverty.

If the Labour delegates vote Yes, they would be among the very few in Europe who seem satisfied with the way Europe is being governed – sad for the delegates of a party which, up until two years ago, was steadfast against accession. A No vote is also a vote in favour of Malta... for it is by voting in favour of ratification at a time when everybody else is consigning the treaty to the deepest oblivion, that we are turning Malta into a figure of fun Europe-wide...

To ratify or not to ratify - Wired Temples

EU scraps timetable for ratifying Constitution - Guardian

Marsa's Roman Port

Raphael Vassallo writes on today's Malta Independent on Sunday that no public enquiry has been held into recent infrastructural works he calls " the rape of Marsa’s Roman port". He writes that 'so far, no legal action has been taken against the Works Division for causing what has been described as “extensive” and “possibly irreversible” damage to a highly sensitive archaeological site... namely, the remains of Marsa’s ancient Roman port..' From TMIS:

“The Marsa site is one of very few sites known in Malta to contain substantial archaeological remains related to maritime and commercial activity from the Roman period. It also contains deposits that accumulated in the area by alluvial action from land and also by marine action. Both deposits contain substantial information about Malta’s ancient environment and climate... “The Marsa Roman harbour is also important as it is one of the few ancient harbours in the Mediterranean that still contain structural and environmental deposits, and therefore it is also significant on an international level vis-à-vis other Roman ports in the Mediterranean.”

That the area was potentially rich in historical remains has long been known by the authorities. According to the Museum Annual Reports, five Roman tombs were found in 1947 “in the field opposite the Civil Abattoir at Marsa.” That is, within 20 metres to the east of the Roman remains in question. MEPA’s spokesperson continues: “This implies that the area was one of intense activity. It also included burial sites and most probably a settlement, the location of which is still unknown. The remains that were recently re-discovered near the Marsa Canal had already been discovered on 24 January 1956, while government workers were digging trenches for the laying of foundations of the Government Technical College at Marsa.” The Museum Annual Report for 1955–1956 also states: “Systematic excavations will, however, be necessary to obtain detailed information about these remains...

Malta History; Malta Roman Times; Malta history links

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Notes from Blighty - 'These are the things we'd alte'

The Sawpit is a blog edited by Ralph DeMarco with contributions by Chris Cobb and John Scott Lucas. Chris Cobb is a graphic designer and writer based in London. This week he posted this piece about Malta:

Malta is roughly twice the size of a major metropolitan city, say Washington, DC., scattered in towns and villages. It has a sun-scoured, hilly, Holy Land feel about it; the colors run the spectrum from eggshell to egg nog, all to do with the native rock, a kind of lithified mud typically formed in a river estuary. All the buildings are made from it. It bleaches in the sun to a blinding whiteness. It was pushed up out of the sea by volcanic activity and has been in a headlong rush to return, in a geological sense, ever since. Waves are eating its sandstone hem like mice..

It is a very Catholic island but they must let down their guard for the tourists who make up 40% of their annual income. Mediterranean toplessness is tolerated provided it is surreptitious. Were it not for the sea breeze the island would suffocate in its own exhaust. Many of its buses are British Leylands and Bedfords going back to the fifties and sixties and Malta bears the stigma of the true third world nation: if you abolished public transport the air would be cleaner. But in the end it is a Mediterranean climate, the natives are friendly, the beer is cheap and you can roll off a rock and dive among the fishes...

So the people may be heard

Former President of Malta Guido De Marco, who is now chairman of the Commonwealth Foundation, talks to Steve Mallia of The Times. Professor De Marco says that civil society's voice "is sometimes not heard at all or is heard as a murmur". From today's Times:

That is not to say he finds all aspects of civil society attractive. In a direct reference to the scenario in Malta, Prof. de Marco expressed concern that at times civil society reflected people whose unpreparedness led them unwisely to pontificate on issues. He also warned the Maltese to avoid provincialism, which was so obvious in debates on topics like the Eurovision Song Contest.

But there is no doubt in his mind that civil society can express itself. "If you look at the recent referendums on the EU Constitution in France and Holland, you notice that while representative society - parliaments, governments - were speaking with one voice, civil society was speaking with another. I think both have to be taken into account and this is what makes the Commonwealth Foundation relevant in its quest to give a voice to civil society."

Prof. de Marco does not accept the idea that the Commonwealth itself is a remnant of an empire dying a slow death and stresses the importance the need for it to provide a bond of friendship, common ideas and ideals. "The Commonwealth is a positive force. Its strength lies in the fact that it has few rules but they are felt."..

While he urges a cautious approach to avoid being over-run by illegal immigrants, he says an inhuman approach towards them is not acceptable...It is a question of striking the right balance and seeking the right balance is easier said than done. "Whatever is done should be done within the framework of the EU and our Mediterranean belongingness. These illegal immigrants have lost their sense of state and people have lost their sense of future. It is here where we have to galvanise public opinion. If we manage to do this, something may be done. As things stand today, there is a lot of talk from the international community but few tangible facts."...

Miriam Dunn interviews President Guido de Marco - Malta Today 2001

The Road to Europe - MaltaMedia special feature - President Guido Demarco addresses a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Valletta after signing the 2003 Act to provide for Malta's Accession to the EU - Audio webcast

Diminishing land

New blog Oht il-Gherf by Malta based Tsuchiko starts off with a critique of the Maltese planning authorities over the Kalkara valley controversy. From Oht il-Gherf:

The Kalkara valley dispute has been going on for years now. But MEPA is still resolute on proceeding with the rape of such a jewel. i've been trying to understand the logic but i realized they just don't have any. how can they preach about sustainable development when they really don't know the meaning of such a phrase? how can they come up with a programme to safeguard Malta's diminishing land resource, when all they do is give permits to build in areas such as the Kalkara Valley? I'm not the only one to be disappointed by the way things are heading, thousands of Maltese protest, write letters to the local newspapers, become part of NGOs....some even start blogging....just to make their voice heard, but do things really change? oh yes they do....but only for the worse. i think it's high time for MEPA to recheck its priorities and listen to the voices....

Compulsive reading

I.M. Beck, in his weekly column for The Times, writes about the world of blogging and singles out fellow blogger Jacques Rene Zammit. From today's Times:

A phenomenon that has hit us recently in the context of the propagation of ideas is the blog, a sort of online diary posted onto the net by anyone who can string a few words together.
You can read about virtually anything in the blogosphere and I have found a number of blogs to be compulsive reading, which is moderately surprising since I had originally been of the idea that the mental meanderings of others were not going to be of interest to anyone but themselves. Looking back on the last sentence, I find it arrogant in the extreme, because this column is, frankly, nothing more than a blog off the net.


One blog that I found illuminating is to be found at akkuza.blogspot.com. It is written by a young chap who starts out by telling us that he has been described as arrogant and rude. He goes on to prove or disprove this description and it is an exercise that repays the effort made to have a surf over to the site to see which of these two aims he actually achieves.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Priceless Maltese falcon!

The news about the lack of interpreters for the Maltese language in the European Union has reached Los Angeles , California and has triggered this comic response. From Red Satellites:

Today brought forth the sublime, which is why I love waking up in the morning. Not a day goes by, that I don't come across an article that makes me: 1) peal with laughter, or 2) shake with rage, or 3) stare in disbelief. Every once in awhile, a report manages to generate all three reactions from me (Howard Dean comes to mind). But this one today? Why I do believe, I blew out my coffee in merriment!...

Malta, the smallest member with a population of 400,000, held a competition for Maltese interpreters, but none was found up to EU standards. The EU sufficed with freelancers while it set up training courses on Malta.


No, freelancers aren't free, so YES the European Union had to hire and PAY FOREIGNERS to speak Maltese until someone from Malta is capable. Is that ripe? It's priceless- just like the bird.

In memory of Karin Grech

Murad M. Khan MD, MRCPsych. from the Aga University in Karachi, Pakistan served as a medical doctor in Malta in the late seventies during the dispute between Maltese doctors and the Government of the day. He was on duty on the night of the murder of young Karin Grech, an event which remained imprinted on his memory. In this piece he recalls the event that had a lasting and "profound effect" on him:

In Pakistan when I found out that Malta required doctors I was unaware of any problem on the island nor did I know the background to it. I only wanted to get out of Pakistan before the Army caught hold of me, put me in uniform and post me on some outpost on the foothills of the Himalayas! So when the opportunity to work in Malta came along I grabbed it with both hands.

Karin Grech was fifteen years old. She was the daughter of the Professor Grech- head of the department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at St. Luke's Hospital and one of the few doctors who retained his position at the hospital. Karin had been studying in England but had come home for her Christmas vacations. A few days before Christmas someone sent her father a parcel bomb. Karin happened to open it. In the middle of the ward round on the surgical floor we were told to rush down to the casualty..…..Sitting alone in my room that night, going over the events of the day, I tried desperately to make sense of what I had witnessed. Try as I might, I could not. I was confused, angry, sad, depressed and numb. And I cried..

.. it was fate that had taken me from Pakistan, brought me to Malta and made me rush down to the casualty ward of St. Lukes Hospital on that fateful day. Surely it couldn't have happened all by chance or mere coincidence? But what was the moral, what was the lesson in this for me? Indeed, was there one?

Today, as I practice psychiatry in Pakistan, dealing with human suffering of a somewhat different kind, the time I spent in Malta seems a distant past. Yet I am frequently reminded of my brief, but fateful encounter with the brave young Maltese girl who in her death gave me a lesson for life.

This link comes via Chronic Chronicles of a Chronie

Justice must be done - from Maltastar

From Cytherea to Malta

Visual designer and writer Michael DeLuca from Massachusetts blogs here. The story he is working on takes place on a desert isle in the Mediterranean with features as follows:

..Alonso's ship was bound from Tunis to Naples, en route from a failed attempt to marry off Ferdinand. So likely the isle is located either in the Tyrrhenian Sea or in the Strait of Sicily...which would be a hell of a long way for Polyphemus to float, since his island is somewhere west of Cytherea, in the Ionian Isles on the west coast of Greece. But we've got Poseidon intervening here, as well as Setebos. If it took Odysseus 10 years to get from Troy to Ithaca, it can take Polyphemus three days to get from Cytherea to Malta.

Warda Bajda

Hedda at Warda Bajda blogs in Maltese because "Sempliċi: il-lingwa tiegħi. Dik għallmuni ommi u missieri, u dik addottajt allura". From a recent post:

Xiħadd qalli li n-nisa tas-sajjieda Katalani għandhom użanza - jew kellhom għallinqas - li qabel l-istaġun tas-sajd jinżlu ħdejn il-baħar, jgħollu d-dublett u jikxfu bejn saqajhom u kienu jemmnu li minħabba f'hekk il-baħar jikkalma. Ma nafx hijiex vera din, jew blajthiex, imma affaxxinatni. Qishom is-sħaħar li jiltaqgħu ma' Macbeth fil-verżjoni ta' Polanski.

Illum, jien u nħares lejn il-baħar ftakart f'dil-biċċa, u bejni u bejn ruħi għidt: kif in-nisa tas-sajjieda Maltin ma kinux jagħmlu hekk ukoll? Jew xiħaġa simili? Għandikun il-Maltin kienu l-aktar nies bla spirtu fil-Mediterran kollu. La għandhom għanjiet folk - ħlief dawk tal-Greenfields (jekk tista' ssejħilhom folk) - la żfin tradizzjonali ... xejn.Issa jew intilef kollox, jew inkella tant kien poplu stupidu dan, tant kien moħħu biss biex ikampa minn jum għal ieħor, li ma kienx jaħseb dwar dawn l-affarijiet...

With a Capital "V"

Pica is a student nurse who came to Malta from Canada for good when she was seven. In one of her first blog posts she wrote that Malta is pretty mad since everyone "knows everyone else's family and their history and their business". In this post she describes her day in Valletta. From Nurse Life:

so today I had a day off and decided to go to our one and only capital city Valletta. I love valletta, its where I want to live, it is where i feel like i belong. it is such wonderful city, oozing with character...its what a city should be...very inspirational.therefore this morning i decided to roam the streets of valletta by myself. I got hungry and bought myself a baguette from Jus Cafe and went walking down to the ID card area to overlook the sea.

There are many moments in my life where i miss canada and i start to think about how life would be if i were still there. This wasnt one of them. having finished my baguette, i began to walk up to the more metropolitan part of the city. on my way up, i witnessed this couple fighting quite vociferously. i stopped to watch, as other locals did. however, on my arrival, one of the spectators told the angry couple to stop it, because foreigners were watching. i looked around for these foreigners and i found everyone looking at me. i guess i was the foreigner...

Nurse Pica trying to figure out life

Valletta - Wired Temples

Around Valletta with Robert J Eakin

A day in Valletta with MaltaGirl

Malta's charm

The Expat Telegraph online introduces a Mentor for Malta section:

Claire Bonello says Malta's charm lies in its laid-back atmosphere. Though the frenetic rat-race ethic is creeping into the local mindset, this is still a sunny haven where you can stroll about, exchanging pleasantries with the friendly neighbourhood fruit vendor before taking a dip in the Med.

Everybody speaks English but Maltese lawyers plead before the courts using an Italianate jargon. The Civil Service is based on the Westminster model and the antique mailboxes which are still in use are a bright red with the initials of an English monarch impressed upon them. All this against a background of golden limestone buildings and prehistoric temples older than Stonehenge. Malta has always been a cultural melting pot. If you want to let the siesta mentality take over, it can also be a peaceful retreat in a welcoming atmosphere where the crime rate is practically nil..

Although Malta is over-developed there are still a few pockets of peaceful countryside such as Bidnija, Rabat, Mgarr and Gozo where you can find lovely old-fashioned farmhouses surrounded by gnarled olive trees and curved carobs. There is currently a movement promoting the revival of the lost art of olive-oil pressing and production in Malta where olive tree growers are given a subsidy for each tree. It's not exactly a "Year in Provence", but it's close..

Besides the official sources of job vacancies, there's the unofficial system where vacancies are advertised by word of mouth. A chat with a friendly Maltese neighbour may very well reveal an opening and head-hunting takes place via the "friend of a friend" network. This almost invariably works to your advantage..

The Marsa Club is the equivalent of a country club and it hosts the only golf course on the island. Another golf course was proposed in Rabat but this lead to the mother of all battles between pro-golfers and environmentalists, and the planning application was turned down. Actually fierce debates and controversies are our favourite national pastime. More often than not, we're arguing about politics, but football fever can be just as debilitating. At present, controversy rages on as to how the site of the Royal Opera House which was gutted in the Second World War should be redeveloped. There's drama onstage too...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Karnival tal-Bloggijiet

The first Maltese Blog Carnival hosted by MaltaGirl was a success. It sets the pace for more carnivals in the near future with even better participation by members of the Maltese blogosphere. My post about Julian Manduca is on the list. From Diverse Ramblings:

This first Karnival is a chance to show off a post that you are particularly proud of, or enjoyed writing, or are pleased with the way it turned out, or with the response it provoked. Maybe it was a thoughtful analysis of a political situation, a critical review of a CD, a hilarious account of an adventure, or a piece of writing raw with emotion..

The response has been great, thank-you to all who submitted posts. I hope you enjoy reading what has turned out to be a very diverse collection of writings. Linguistics, politics, adventures, it’s all here – read on… The contributors: Fausto Majistral, Bertu ta' l-Anġli, Gakbu Sfigo, Twanny Cassar, Jacques René Zammit, Mark Vella, Kenneth, Sharon Spiteri, Pierre Mejlak, Immanuel Mifsud, Robert Micallef, Archibald, Toni Sant, Lena, and MaltaGirl.

To ratify or not to ratify

Faced with pressures from within as well as with unkind external developments, Labour leader Alfred Sant has just published an essay which provides a comprehensive inside view of the MLP debate on the European Constitution. He writes that "the internal discussion within Labour regarding the constitutional treaty has been a rewarding experience". The essay includes a summary of the different trends emerging in the debate. From the Malta Independent:

Indeed, as the assemblies started meeting, three different trends emerged among delegates. I give away no secrets by saying what they were. The first trend reflected the parliamentary group’s conclusions, both on grounds of substance and on the grounds that MPs were in a better position than most to decide about such a complex matter. Another trend believed it was wrong to vote for the treaty, as this would give support to the PN which never backed anything Labour proposed or desired, and also because the treaty contradicted what Labour stood for up to the 2003 election. Thirdly, there were those who believed that the matter has to be gotten out of the way; European matters should no longer remain a controversial issue so that socialists can concentrate on how to tackle the ongoing economic and social crisis..

In the past two weeks, the developments in France and Holland have complicated the discussion. Negative votes in the referenda organised in these two countries always were on the cards. The strength of the “no” vote caused some surprise. Many believe that the EU constitutional treaty is dead in the water. However, it has frequently been the case that matters considered dead in the EU somehow survive and revive. Do not rule out that this could happen once again. In which case, there will be no point in repeating the process of debating and counter-debating the same points two to three years down the line. Best get the whole matter out of the way now, and then go back to the bread and butter issues that rack the future of this country...

Leadership for the future - Wired Temples

Tony Blair urges EU Constitution 'pause' - BBC

Public Opinion and the European Constitution

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Blogging and provincialism

David Friggieri in Brussels has set up a blog called Lanzarote after reading Joshua Chaffin's article 'In a huff at the arrival of high society' published by the Financial Times. In this post he takes the cue from Milan Kundera's observations in his new book Le Rideau to comment on the cultural importance of blogging. From Lanzarote:

..This reminded me of something Mark Vella had written some time ago in a review of Immanuel Mifsud's literature: In one of his more insightful critical contributions, Alfred Sant once remarked that a new Maltese literature could only appear by means of a generation of writers that had not experienced the traditional "closed" society. It is, of course, absurd to say that the loose format of blogs were what Kundera (or Sant) had in mind when they spoke of literature. But to me it seems undeniable that several Maltese blogs are the freshest, most un-provincial, reading material about Malta (or simply by Maltese) at the moment. And I do think that those who have left "the traditional closed society" (after having lived it and known it well) simply have the advantage of feeling free(r). Blogging may prove to be more important culturally in Malta than in other places.


Culture in the Age of Blogging - Terry Teachout

Is the blogging world fair?

Malta and Turkey rank highest on religion in Europe

Two special Eurobarometer reports have just been published by the European Commission entitled 'Europeans, science and technology' and 'Values, science and technology'. The main objective of the 'Europeans, science and technology' poll was to gather Europeans’ general attitudes towards science and technology. It analysed European citizens’ interest in and knowledge and image of science and technology as well as their attitudes towards these domains.

The underlying objective of the 'Values, science and technology' poll was to gather Europeans’ views on social values and ethics as well as citizens’ perceptions of actors involved in science and technology as well as the decision-making procedure. The final objective was to assess the perceived influence of ethics on science and technology in the future. The studies cover the populations of the EU member states, of the candidate countries (Bulgaria, Romania Croatia and Turkey) and the three EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) - a total of 570 million people. From today's Times of Malta:

Belief in God and in the dignity of unborn human life is more widespread in Malta than in any other European Union country, according to a survey published yesterday in Brussels. Ninety-five per cent of the Maltese believe that "there is a God" and a further three per cent believe that "there is some sort of spirit or life force". Only two per cent think there is no God. Other predominantly Christian populations, in Cyprus and Greece, also demonstrate high belief in the existence of God. Only in Turkey, an EU candidate and mainly Muslim country, is the belief in God as strong as it is in Malta, with 95 per cent declaring they are believers.

The survey, which forms part of a new Eurobarometer study on social values and ethics, was conducted in Malta between January and February by Misco on behalf of the European Commission. A total of 500 people, selected randomly, took part in one-to-one interviews. "Roman Catholicism is the official religion of Malta and 95 per cent of Maltese respondents confirm that they believe in a God," the study notes..

This result is also closely related to a question in the survey regarding the importance of protecting the dignity of unborn human beings. On this subject Malta also ranks first. In an effort to gauge the strength of values, respondents were asked to state how important they deem that the protection of the dignity of any human unborn life will be in 10 years' time. Seventy-four per cent of the Maltese answered it would be very important while another 22 per cent answered fairly important. In general, only 53 per cent of EU citizens felt the same way as the Maltese. Eurobarometer notes that the results in Malta, Greece and Ireland stand out, with over seven in 10 respondents foreseeing that it will be very important...

Social Values, Science and Technology - Full Report (pdf) - 336 pages

Brad Pitt's trial of the soul

Writirng for Libertas - A forum for conservative thought on film - Daniel Crandall says he had to laugh at Brad Pitt’s account of his preparations in Malta to play Achilles in Troy:

There were times when Jen would look at me like I’m out of my mind. Malta
is just a big rock island, and I lived up in this 300-year-old stone house on a
mountain. I didn’t run the air conditioner or anything; I wanted to feel those
100-degree nights. […] We do give up our lives for a while, doing a movie like
this. It’s not necessarily fun. But I’m not a big proponent of happiness. I
think it’s highly overrated.

Brad Pitt’s version of existential self-confrontation: living in a mountaintop villa overlooking the Mediterranean (without air-conditioning: whatever doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger) while waiting to be paid $20 million to appear in a motion picture.

Brad Pitt - Malta Movie Map

English Forums - Thread: Brad Pitt in Malta

Monday, June 13, 2005

The potential of digital communities

Toni Sant is back home from Italy after attending the 2005 Digital Communities conference. In his latest post he writes that he has "been fascinated with the relationship between the natural space of our small nation and its mediated social presence on the Internet from the perspective of its Internet-using inhabitants, the Maltese living in diaspora, and some of the tourists who visit the Maltese Islands". Thanks to his blog, we get a taste of his forward looking presentation about his ground breaking work. From Toni Sant's blog:

For the 2005 Digital Communities conference in Italy, I had planned to present a paper entitled Where is Malta? (Re)Mapping a Small Island Nation on the Internet. My intention was to follow-up on a similar study, Dealing with Malta's Image on the Internet, which I began back in 1996, when I started my post-graduate studies at New York University... After reading about this year's Prix Ars Electronica awards in the Best Digital Communities category I decided to alter the tone and scope of my presentation at the 2005 Digital Communities conference. Instead of the planned academic paper, I chose to give a position paper about the read/write effect on Malta of what is being called Web 2.0.

What follows is a brief excerpt from the presentation I gave in a seminar room adorned with ex-voto frescoes at the
Universita' degli Studi del Sannio in Benevento just a few days ago. I reproduce these fragments here to give you, my blog readers, a sense of what's going through my head as Immanuel Mifsud and Sharon Spiteri prepare to launch Tabellina, and in the aftermath of all the attention the Maltese blogosphere received in the popular press last week. Please keep in mind that the text presented here has been slightly amended/abridged for practical purposes.

I believe Malta is currently witnessing a silent revolution through a
growing number of Internet users who are coming to realize that they can have
their voices heard without a controlling intermediary. This major paradigm shift
is silent because those most active in it are yet to realize the true potential
of digital communities and still see themselves as isolated individuals...

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Athena's thoughts on Malta's Heritage

An expert's opinion on the current state of Malta's heritage - Athena in Cambridge reviews the state of Malta's temples and heritage sites while stressing the role of education and culture. She concludes that "we're getting there and the situation is not so bleak." From Rites of Passage:

I owe this post to Jacques and MaltaGirl, who gently reminded me that I should address this topic. First, I will address a couple of misconceptions. MaltaGirl asks if in their original form temples were more like earthen mounds. The answer is no. Earthen mounds (aka barrows) are found in Britain and much of Atlantic Europe. The Maltese temples are entirely stone built and have always been "exposed", in that they were always meant to be visible. Their very physicality was as important as the rituals conducted within. For plenty of good pictures see Daniel Cilia's excellent website..

The management and presentation of heritage is in the hands of Heritage Malta. HM is doing a fantastic job and its dedicated team deserves highest praise. However, HM has far too many sites and museums to deal with, not enough staff and a pathetically small budget which keeps shrinking. Preserving and presenting heritage costs a heck of a lot of money and institutional support is essential. But how can HM function properly without getting sufficient backing? Politicians are not interested in heritage, despite pathetic attempts at paying lip service. The truth is, heritage does not gain you votes and Maltese politics are all about votes..

Heritage Malta is on the right track. For example, few people might be aware that one can observe the solstice and equinox at Mnajdra. In my early undergrad days, we would go with one of the curators to experience this. Thankfully, Heritage Malta has now started offering this experience to a wider audience. The event is advertized well in advance and HM staff offer an excellent guided tour of the site, an explanation of the astronomical debate and, on top of that, people get to enjoy the solstice/equinox...

The Maltese Blogosphere - For Athena, "it all started with Wired Temples..."

Following the 'old lady'

You can find Maltese Juventus fans almost everywhere. Ryan Agius is one of the most dedicated fans of the Northern Italian football club known as the 'Old Lady'. He reviews the season for the international site goal.com:

Hi, I am a 21 year old, Maltese Juventus fan. First of all I would like to congratulate you for the marvellous website. It is EXTREMELY balanced (i.e gives reviews of all the important European leagues) and very informative. During my free time it is always my pleasure to log into your site. My favourite part is the Serie A team of the week...even though I do not always agree! Anyway...as I already stated I am a fan of The Old Lady - Juventus! According to me this was one of the most interesting seasons of the past 10 years.

There was a very good fight between Juve and Milan for the sudetto. Moreover there is a very interesting fight going on when it comes to the relegation zone. I really wished that Roma fell into serie B so that there would be players such as Cassano, Totti , Montella, Chivu and many others available to other teams in serie A. I really doubt these players would have played in serie B! ...

Fumata Bianconera: Habemus Scudetto - Jacques Rene' Zammit

Juventus Club (Malta) recognised as Juventus Club Doc - MaltaMedia

When Marsa FC played Juventus in the UEFA Cup

aboutmalta soccer links edited by Antoine Busuttil

Promoting the archipelago

From the MaltaMedia network:

The May edition of the prestigious travel magazine Conde Nast Traveller includes a 30-page dossier about the Maltese Islands penned by writer Gian Mario Marras. The special feature is divided into three segments. The first deals with the art and nature found in our archipelago. Another section highlights the geographical, historical and cultural significance of our Islands. The third section focuses on Malta’s links with the Mediterranean Sea.

Meanwhile, a nine-page full-colour spread about Malta, entitled ‘Malta: Un Isola non Isolata’ (an island which is not isolated) was recently published in Qui Touring magazine. The magazine, which is the official publication of the Touring Club Italiano is distributed to the Club’s 500,000 members. The feature was accompanied by breathtaking photos of the Maltese Islands...

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The light at the end of the tunnel

Il-Merill Merill Kwiet kwiet, a latecomer to literature, the Smiths and blogging, is woken up on Saturday morning by the persistent postman:

Hekk kif wasalt fix-xifer li nigbed tnejn a la z-ziju Pawl nisma lill-Salvina tal-helu tghajjat:"Hawn tal-pusta. Hawn tal-pusta!!!". Kif smajt hekk tirt minn fuq is-saqqu, ilbist it-tlett kwarti tal-lejl ta'qabel, u bix-xaham joqmos fuq zaqqi irhejtilha ghal bieb ta'barra herqan li niffirma dik l-ittra rregistrata. fil-ftit sekondi li haditli l-girja minn kamarti ghal kuridur li jinfed Triq Vitale pruvajt nahseb min seta kien......Chiara l-Modeniza? Daniela t-Toriniza, Stefanie jew Petra (il-Germanizi). Fost babuljata internazzjonali ftaht il-bieb u tqanzaht biex inhares f'idejn il-pustier taht xemx tghammxek. Minn gol-barzakka harget l-ittra ndurata bil-fantaziji tas-Sibt "filghodu". Il-habib tieghi Ministeru Tat-Trasport Pubbliku rega' sejjahli. Kellu bzonn ghaxar liri talli pparkjajt quddiem il-Kavallier ta' San Gakbu.

The Smiths by Wikipedia

Europe

On Europe, Jürgen Habermas propagates "Core Europe" as the best means of accelerating the EU; Margot Wallstrom's Plan D for the European Constitution; From Sign and Sight, André Glucksmann on how the French no is the manifestation of a movement that cuts to the heart of Europe; CUNY's John Brenkman on how EU leaders must inspire their citizens with their vision of a democratic Europe; Timothy Garton Ash on Decadent Europe; From Der Spiegel, an article on Europe's atomic anachronism; From TLS, a review of books on the battle of the European Constitution; From The Globalist, an excerpt from Perpetual Power: Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century, and on the confessions of a Euroskeptic: Don't write off Europe; Frank Furedi on why the French people's rejection of the EU Constitution represents a positive political event; Harvard's Glyn Morgan on why Euroskeptics should be careful what they wish for: Without the EU, Europeans can kiss goodbye to security and prosperity; From TNR, why the French vote was good for Europe, and bad for America; The borders are closing: Et tu, Holland? Europe's suddenly a lot like Canada; And Bernard-Henri Levy is left aghast.

Racing Horse Kohima

India's Web Newswire reports on a racing horse named "Kohima":

Horse Racing is a popular sport in Malta, a beautiful Mediterranean Island in Europe and a popular tourist destination. Many bet their money on "kohima", an Irish racing horse ridden by a female jockey Sarah Borg. It's yet to be known if the capital of Nagaland, Kohima inspired the name of that horse, but it is clear that the horse has qualities like toughness associated with Nagas. Giving Kohima company in the race course are other horses with interesting names like Beauty Number, Swing Dancer, One For The Moon, Coffeeshop CF, Goldbowler and so on. Since horse racing is still to catch up in our part of the world, watching "kohima" perform on TV won't be possible. We can only wish Kohima best of luck and that the horse wins many more races.

Horse racing Maltese style - Wired Temples

Friday, June 10, 2005

A Rabatish Sheep in Austria

A Rabatish Sheep in Austria is a blog kept by a Maltese IT graduate who is currently following a PhD in Austria. It is regularly updated with photos and short postings. He says that "an image is worth a thousand words and ...hope that a thousand images will describe better my time here in Innsbruck.. " In this other dormant blog he shares with friends, he stated that he missed the Maltese Sun but " definitely not missing road conditions, politics, humidity, carelessness etc". In another post he wrote about a visit to Ireland:

You know I always planned to get back to my home country once finished the work here but I have just been in Ireland and loved the place immediately. People are very nice (and I can understand the language at least) and place is also really cool (not mentioning girls :). People drive on the left too and this thing made me feel a bit home. There are no houses, rather, I would call them cottages and they're very nice. The only thing is that most of the time, it is dull and raining, and being crazy about swimming, that doesn't help at all. I don't know, but it was the first time I felt I could live in some place elsewhere than my country. Maybe I should try to go to England too to get an idea of the place :)

Squawk Blog

Billy Finlay writes about his visit to Malta:

Since my last few posts I've finished my exams as you read - and been to Malta! Woo! It was fun! A really nice country, with great weather and lots of interesting stuff to do. If there is anyone reading that likes a sort of partying holiday - Malta aint for you but if you like a slow, interesting and non-overly tourist based holiday then Malta is for you. Most of the island is quite old and a lot of history is based around it - so if you do go on any trips, there is a lot of history involved!...

Malta pictures - Billy's Gallery

Miscellaneous blogs (2)

The Flo(w) Zone - Florinda, student and sales assistant from Mdina
Malta News - The unofficial weblog for Malta news
Festi Maltin - Benji in Birzebbugia, with links to Maltese band clubs
Higher education - Speeches delivered by Anthony Fisher Camilleri
The life of an aspiring film-maker - Martin Bonnici from Mosta
Oh! Sunny Days... - Tiz from Zabbar photo blog
Roderick Hodgson - Student, Web Designer and Pirate
shalalbooboon - Hazevi, with a penchant for self-destruction
The Headless Children - Emerson Vella, music enthusiast from Hamrun
Claude's Online Confessionary - From Birkirkara, winner of the President's Award
Novagia - Christopher Farrugia from Rabat
The Mole Movement - Justin Camilleri, an actor from St Julian's
Geraldine Spiteri - A Maltese Lawyer
Xwajten's quasi Utopia - Needs a long break
Jake's Music Log - For Those Who Love Good Music
Silleke - Sylvia from Overijssel, Netherlands Malta Photos
Party Boy - Eman Gatt from Luqa with Malta Photos
Geleger's little space in cyberspace - David Kelleher studying in the UK

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Beachhutman's Malta memories

George Edwards is an artist living in the United Kingdom whose ideal home is Malta or Spain. He blogs at The Beachhutman and recently posted an entry about selling the "Malta Independence papers to a collector for a good price". Earlier, he wrote about the time he lived in Malta as a teenager:

As a kid I never went to sleep at the "Right" time. I know that around the age of eight, when we lived in New Zealand, I would toss and turn for hours. The memories came back to me. I would still be awake when my parents went to bed. I seem to remember as I got a bit older the little radio came to my aid, keeping me from boredom until late at night. As a teenager I do remember having to read until the small hours every night.

We were living in Malta, and I would often get up and go through to my own "loiinge",(we had a villa) and fiddling with hobbies, or listening to the World Service. I never seem to have been able to drop off easilyThis wakefullness went on through all the changes of home. I remember getting up in the night when we lived in Sliema, and going out onto my balcony to watch the passing traffic, and I remember reading a book a night in bed. I think college broke the pattern...

In another post he writes: "The last pocket held a list of the times I was truly happy and relaxed. It was a really short list. I had to squint, and only found there the times I spent on a sun lounger as a teenager, on the balcony in Malta, overlooking the sea, good book in one hand, coke in the other, getting tanned and looking fit."

From Portugal to Malta

Sónia Alexandra Ramalho from Portugal who blogs at Detalhes de Mim is impressed by what she sees in Malta:

O que da misturar arabe, ingles e italiano? A resposta e Malta, uma ilha perdida no meio do Mediterraneo. Foi preciso vir tao longe para fazer a tal tatuagem que ja andava a planear ha uns tempos... mas esta nao e a unica marca que vou levar comigo. E impossivel ficar indiferente as linhas da cidade de Valleta, ao silencio das ruas de Medina e Rabat, a construcao mais antiga do mundo (Limestone), aos gatos malteses, aos autocarros coloridos, aos olhos protectores de Osiris - que decoram os barcos locais - e as varandas deste pais arido, que recem-entrado na UE, que ainda anda a fazer contas de cabeca para converter as libras em euros e que faz lembrar Marrocos e os paises arabes pela cor das casas. As 170 fotos que ja tenho vao ajudar a ilustrar todas estas recordacoes. Amanha estou de regresso. Saha para Malta.

Respeitinho é muito bonito!!!

A Maltese cat

What they say about Wired Temples - Clips from Blogosphere

The aboutmalta.com July 2005 newsletter written by Toni Sant:

Wired Temples, a most interesting blog about Malta on the web has now been integrated into the MaltaMedia Online Network. Robert Micallef, creator/editor, is also aboutmalta'com contributing editor for our section on Maltese blogs. Robert is relatively new to the MaltaMedia Online Network, but he is quickly becoming an important part of our team.

Athena, a researcher at Cambridge University, UK:

As I was browsing some of my favourite blogs I noticed that once again Wired Temples has nominated one of my posts as the top monthly posts. I love Wired Temples, it's a good way of keeping up with back home and all the madness, plus I admire Robert's diligence and dedication.

Lori Hein, an author from Boston, United States:

A warm hello to Robert Micallef, a Maltese economist who found my blog and enjoyed a November post about horse racing in Marsa, Malta Robert's father's hometown. Robert's blog, Wired Temples, is about all things Maltese. Check it out. One of the joys of publishing this blog is "meeting" people from around the world... I continue to be amazed at the combined power of words, pictures, travel and the Internet to bring people together. Thanks for letting me share my stories with you.

From the blog by Toni Sant based at the University of Hull, Scarborough, UK:

Take in the first instance what is by far the most active blog of all Maltese blogs: Wired Temples. This blog belongs to an old schoolmate of mine... Robert's blog is a very ambitious blog, but it is quite refreshing to see someone so committed to blogging daily about things that are neither too personal nor of little interest to a larger public.

Richard Marlowe, working with the BBC in London:

Wired Temples has become addictive reading for me and a way of following feelings and stories that abound in Malta - it's written by a guy who's there on the spot and who has a solid and, in my opinion, quite credible opinion of his own.

Malta 9, Thermidor:

Nice to see there's Robert Micallef running a blog called Wired Temples. Micallef ran as a candidate for MEP last June on a Labour Party ticket and he was certainly the most well-versed on EU matters amongst the candidates fielded by his party... Micallef's must be the most political blog in Toni Sant's list. The others occasionally make a comment (usually lame of the "what-a-wonderful-place-Malta-would-be-if-its-politics-were-different" type).

French journalist Aurelie Herbemont writing for the Independent on Sunday:

Wired Temples, a blog by Robert Micallef is a blog of reference in Malta and “is mainly, although not exclusively, a platform for Malta related information on the Internet. It is a window on Maltese culture, history, blogs and news...Wired Temples is aimed primarily at an international audience with an interest in Maltese affairs,” ... Indeed, some blogs deal with news, and could easily be compared to a new kind of media, like Wired Temples, which also offers links to articles written in Maltese newspapers.

Maltese author Immanuel Mifsud:

A number of blogs, particularly those owned by Mark Vella, Toni Sant and Robert Micallef, even if on varying degrees, are committed alternatives to what Maltese journalists are feeding the public. This new, emerging chattering class, seems to have promulgated a no-confidence vote in Maltese print, and have seeked new pastures, which presumably defy the red felt-pen of some hidden censor ready to file reports and send them to court once the 'borders' are crossed.

- Blogosfera:

Uħud minn dawn il-blogs, partikolarment dawk ta' Mark Vella, Toni Sant u Robert Micallef, għalkemm f'livelli differenti, jistgħu jitqiesu bħala alternattivi impenjati għal dak li l-ġurnalisti Maltin qed jitimgħu lill-pubbliku. Din il-klassi emerġenti ta' kummentaturi tidher li tat vot ta' sfiduċja lill-istampa Maltija u qiegħda tfittex orizzonti ġodda li wieħed jippreżumi li ma jaqgħux taħt l-iskrutinju ta' xi ċensur moħbi lest biex jimla formola u jibgħatha l-Qorti ġaladarba xiħadd jazzarda 'jaqbeż il-limiti'.

Stuart Fenech from Queensland, Australia:

Maybe the Internet is cool after all. Robert Micallef's Wired Temples, a blog in Malta, picked up a piece of writing of mine a couple of months ago. Robert is an economist, editor and University lecturer. Wired Temples is an interesting varied combination of articles on Malta, from the casual references from afar like mine, through to interesting intellectual debate within.

Carniola blog from Slovenia:

I'm grateful to Robert of the Maltese blog Wired Temples for pointing out that Slovenia took first place in the 2004 Wealth of Nations Triangle Index. The index is compiled by the Boston-based WorldPaper, of which I know very little. (Actually nothing, but their "about" page is here if you're curious.)

Sharon Spiteri in Edinburgh, Scotland:

When Robert at Wired Temples discovered me earlier this year, I was writing some hugely personal stuff for the perusal of some close friends along with what I call my soapbox posts. Robert meant well, I'm sure, but I decided to take all my old posts offline and make a more circumspect comeback. Now I write for a wider audience and this conditions my writing, which I find irritating, but I tend to believe that all writing is intended for an audience (yes, even a secret diary kept under lock and key) and that the character of the audience envisaged by the writer conditions the writing.

Xifer by Mark Vella in Luxembourg:

Robert Micallef tal-Wired Temples huwa aktar konoxxenza milli habib imma ili nafu hafna f'sens voyeuristiku. U studjajtu b'kurzita bħal ma kont għarrixt għal Manwel qabel ma' sirt nafu. Minkejja li segwejtu waqt il-kandidatura tiegħu ma l-MLP, l-aktar għall-elezzjonijiet tal-Parlament Ewropew, lil Robert nafu ghax tarah dejjem kullimkien... Jista' jkun li forsi dan kien parti minn xi pjan ta' kampjanar politiku, imma, anki kif nistghu naraw mill-blogg tieghu, jidher li Robert ghandu interess genwin, forsi anki guh dejjem miklub, ghal kull mhu ghaddej fuq il-Blata.

MaltaGirl's Diverse Ramblings:

Robert Micallef is an economist, editor/analyst and University lecturer. It was through his daily posts highlighting Maltese bloggers that most of us discovered each other, and thus the bloggosfera was born. This post on the untimely passing of Julian Manduca is an example of Robert's writing; in it he gives his own thoughts, links to relevant sites, quotes Julian himself and provides a roundup of related posts on the bloggosfera.

J'Accuse - comments posted on Wired Temples by Jacques Rene Zammit:

Wired Temples remains a point of reference with unbiased commenting which is good. We need a maltese portal which probably integrates wired temples. Any takers for the project? (go robert go! how about an online Folja?)

Sabine Cassar Alpert, German based in Gozo:

Yesterday afternoon I spent two very interesting hours chatting with Robert Micallef, the creator of Wired Temples, which is part of the MaltaMedia Online Network. It was a “real-life” chat, by the way, from person to person with no electronics attached. Don’t seem to get many of those nowadays! I’m not usually given to enjoying the talks of “politicians” but Robert was definitely an exception. I actually believe that if there were more Robert Micallefs around, this country wouldn’t be as stuck in partisan squibbles as it is! Way to go Rob!

The MaltaDailyBlog:

I have been following closely during these last couple of months Robert Micallef's blog Wired Temples, which, I must say has seen some steady improvement since last summer. I reccommend the blog for anyone who is looking up some info on Malta and the Maltese - I think that it resembles more of a blog portal as it always contains some interesting and thought provoking abstracts taken from Maltese blogs. A particularly interesting point which I could observe when reading the blog was the coverage given to what we may call 'the language question'.

Mikiel Galea, cartoonist from Valletta:

Jidher li rcevejt il-maghmudija ta’ bloggista fil-bloggosfera maltija minghand il-habib tieghi Robert Micallef wara li llistjani fl-ghazliet tieghu t’April. Nirringrazzjah u wkoll lil min irrisponda ghal dan bhal Mark Vella kif ukoll lil Antoine Cassar u Kenneth li kkummentaw fuq it-tpengijiet tieghi. L-idea li nibbloggja giet b’cikka wara li kont qed nipprova nfittex sit li jallokali l-ispazju minghajr hlas biex nitfa’ xi erba’ tpengijiet milli nharbex jien...Ghal xi hadd bhali li kwazi nghix maqful f’torri bla bibien , fi bloggosfera nsib zbokk. Onorat li issa sirt parti minn din il-komunita’ fil-kerrejja webika maltija.

Stefan Koski in Connecticut, United States:

Recently my blog was featured on Wired Temple, a member of the MaltaMedia Online Network, which features all things Maltese on the web (sports, news, weather, and other things). They mentioned my blog for my post featuring Maltese teen writer Maressa Zahra under a post of miscellaneous blogs on the web that had something to do with Malta. So let me just say, kudos to you, Robert Micallef. You are doing the country of Malta a great service. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Reflections on the Maltese blogosphere

The article written by Aurelie Herbemont on the Malta Independent on Sunday has triggered a number of interesting reflections on the Maltese blogosphere. Fausto Majistral wrote that bloggers should not laud themselves merely for existing but should concentrate on the substance of their content. He went on to say that, in his view, "the article has also driven a wedge between those who wrote a few posts and gave up on it altogether (as Jacques called them, "The Dead Bloggers Society") and the blogerati." He suggested, here at Wired Temples, that the blogroll at AboutMalta should be classified according to activity.

In her impressive post, Sharon Spiteri writes that she would "resist the idea that bloggers need publicity in the mainstream media to "take off". We cannot allow the idea that it is the mainstream which will make us legitimate." She says that she has "come to love the blogging world because I see it as an outlet for everyman and everywoman who are striving to making their voice heard." Kenneth refused to send comments to the author of the article because he is not interested in having his blog "read by those who cannot manage to find it strictly by following links in the blogosphere. They may as well keep on reading their newspapers and the other advert-riddled magazines."

Arcibald posted the unedited comments he forwarded to Aurelie in response to comments about doing a disservice to the Maltese blogosphere. Jacques Rene Zammit says that "a bout of existentialism has attacked the Maltese blogosphere and asks a number of pertinent questions on his blog. He wrote here that "Wired Temples remains a point of reference with unbiased commenting which is good." He suggests that "we need a Maltese portal which probably integrates Wired Temples."

MaltaGirl has launched a blog carnival with a view to encouraging collaboration amongst bloggers. She writes that "in the tradition of the bloggosfera, this is a bilingual Karnival, Maltese and English both welcome, just not in the same sentence.." The first subject is "A post that embodies the spirit of your blog." She explains that "this first Karnival is a chance to show off a post that you are particularly proud of, or enjoyed writing, or are pleased with the way it turned out, or with the response it provoked."

Green bloggers

Two personalities of the Maltese Green Party ( when will the website be updated?) have recently joined the Maltese Blogosphere - Matthew Vella and Jurgen Balzan. From Jurgen Balzan's blog:

Hawn min jghid li l-haxix tan-naha l-ohra huwa aktar hadrani. Ma nafx naqbilx jew le…kull ma nista nghid huwa li sakemm ma tirfisx fuq il-haxix t’hawn u l-haxix t’hemm ma tistax tqabbel…jista jkun li lanqas la darba tirfes fuq iz-zewg nahat ma tista tqabbel. Ftit jiem ilu iltqajt ma’ Ghawdxi li qatta bosta snin jghix barra u gie lura f’art twelidu. Illum qed jghix wahdu f’kamra f’nofs l-irdum li jaghti fuq ir-Ramla l-Hamra bla dawl u bla ilma, bla kcina, bla salott, bla TV insomma ragel, zewgt iklieb, karma mimlija ghasafar, ramel u l-pjantu u sigar. Saqsejtu ghalfejn gie lura u qalli li kull fejn kien matul is-snin li ghamel barra rasu kienet qiegheda itekktek fuq Ghawdex u Malta. Qalli l-Maltin qishom ghasfura li bnazzi jew maltemp issib triqtha lura lejn il-bejta. Jista jkun li veru ghax jekk thares lejn Ghawdex ftit ftit qed issir kolonja ta’ ex-immigranti...

Leadership for the future

The rejection of the European Constitution by the French and Dutch electorates has raised a number of questions about the future of the European Union. Something has gone wrong between the European political establishment and the citizens of the member states. It is not easy to frame the terms of the debate for what should unfold in the coming months but to simply say that we should forget about the European Constitution is not enough. In my view, the problems that this Constitution is intended to address are still there - a need for more efficient decision making; more openness and transparency; more clarity of rules. The European Union has to work better for everybody and the anxieties of people need to be addressed. European Commissioner Margot Wallstrom's reaction to the referendum results that she posted on her blog triggered numerous responses - 250 comments at the latest count. In her view, "European citizens are better educated, they are more demanding, including what they ask from their politicians and their elected leaders, and this requires great leadership for the future." From Margot Wallstrom's blog:

We will probably now see a debate that follows with also interpretation of exactly what kind of No this was. I have met a number of those who participated and said ‘No‘ in this referendum but who believe in European integration. They say that they don‘t think that this Constitution is the solution but they want European integration to continue and they believe in the European project. It is clear that people voted ‘No‘ for many reasons. Even in the comments section in this blog you see several shades of ‘No‘ – people who do not want the EU at all and people who think the idea of the EU is good but are not happy with how it is working. It is important to examine this thoroughly in order to find a solution.

Communication is not only about giving information. We in the EU have not been good at listening, and we have to work in a way where we are better at listening to citizens, and communicating with them. We have to be able to defend what we do in Europe, in the Council, the European Parliament and in the Commission, but also in the Member States. It takes political courage and leadership for politicians to negotiate something in ‘Brussels‘ and be able to go home and say they have reached a compromise that is the best for all of us. To be able to show the added value of working together at the European level. I think it is very important, otherwise we undermine the democratic legitimacy of the European project...

A pro-European NO? - Wired Temples

EU Constitution: Where each member state stands

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Jenny and Zaren

Courtesy of Sharon, Jenny blogs at Jenny's blog. She is a proofreader and a dedicated Liverpool supporter. It is not her first attempt at blogging:

So I got another online blog/diary/journal or whatever you wanna call it. Used to have a few of these but it got too personal and I was mentioning too many names and this country is too damn small. So no more names if I can help it .. I'll use something else to refer to people, unless of course it doesn't matter that I mentioned them and they read it..

This whole week is too damn boring! Missed the mid-week football. Don't know what to do with myself when the season is over. It's gonna be one hell of a long boring summer! But who knows .. hope that whatever I write here over the summer can prove me wrong and that I'll be doing something other than counting the days till mid-August when the new season starts..


and courtesy of erezija, Zaren from Mgarr blogs at Tal-frak. He recently joined his friends for a trip to Gozo:

.. issa qed jiguni frazijiet biss go mohhi, li bizZejjed biex jamlewli l-folder tal-memorji interssanti. bhal x'hin konna se nintefghu agenti tal-boat trips fix-xlendi. kellna kolLox biex nibdew il-business. minbarra il-boats. mall-bieb tal-isticker tieghi hemm mara! ...

...Nikteb tlett bloggs, jew forsi johorgu iktar 'il quddiem. imma sabih wisq meta terga ssir tfal. jew inkella x'hin hallejna 'l gzira t'ghawdex warajna bix-xemx niezla warajha u s-sigRa li saret knisja baqghet gejja warajna xorta wahda. il-mobile kien l-unika ankra pissiperlana li zammitna ftit mal-art. nistghu nibdew nghamluha iktar spiss please?....u ghebu fix xefaq

The original Mickey Mouse

In this MaltaMedia report, Anthony Gatt writes about discoveries that "show the possibility of the first ever Mickey Mouse sketch being a fresco in a church of an Austrian village called Malta." From MaltaMedia:

The village, bearing the name of our country, could reclaim the copyright of the much renowned and globally famous cartoon character which is property of the Walt Disney company. The news, reported on Moneyplans.net, revealed that the 700-year-old Austrian Mickey Mouse was uncovered in a church in the village of Malta in the province of Carinthia. Siggi Neuschitzer, manager of the local tourism office, was said to have confirmed that the legal process to claim the copyright had already started. "

Anyone who has seen our fresco can see it proves that Mickey Mouse is a true Austrian - and was not from Hollywood", continued Neuschitzer. Malta mayor Hans Peter Schaar said that the ‘Maltese’ will not be greedy on this issue and will surely settle for an out of court settlement if the case is found to be veritable and that “we wouldn’t want much, perhaps they would build something here as a tribute to Mickey that would encourage the tourists, nothing too big and tasteless of course, and with an Alpine theme."...

The state of Carinthia governed by Jorg Haider

Monday, June 06, 2005

'I blog therefore I am'

The article 'I blog therefore I am' on today's Malta Independent on Sunday by Aurelie Herbemont ( who blogs here) is the first review of the Maltese blogosphere to appear on the mainstream media. It filled two whole pages of the paper's printed edition and is a welcome effort by the energetic French journalist. A number of established bloggers were quoted in the article but, in my view, a number of other bloggers were more deserving of attention than that given to Ronald Colombo who says he discovered blogging “by accident and thought he would give it a try." Aurelie quotes Colombo twice even though he has not added anything to his first experimental 'try' posted two weeks ago.

Another article 'Every blog has its day' written by Joe Fountain was published yesterday on Modern Elegance (not updated yet) but it made no attempt to review the state of Maltese blogging. As MaltaGirl writes, the article 'says nothing about how the local scene has recently developed'. Excerpts from the Malta Independent Online:

New blogs are booming in Malta, even though this phenomenon is still in its infancy here. The Maltese blogosphere is really different since it brings together Maltese people living in Malta, Maltese people living abroad, foreigners living in Malta and even foreigners who are linked in a way to this country. There is actually a list of the Maltese blogs on the Internet, available on http://www.aboutmalta.com/INTERNET/BLOGS, and it lists about 70 blogs, discovered by bloggers Robert Micallef, Martin Debattista, Pierre J. Mejlak, and Toni Sant. But it is probably not exhaustive since it is very difficult to know about all of them, as there are several blogs providers on the Internet..

Wired Temples, a blog by Robert Micallef (http://wiredtemples.blogspot.com) is a blog of reference in Malta and “is mainly, although not exclusively, a platform for Malta related information on the Internet. It is a window on Maltese culture, history, blogs and news. I often link material about Malta that is produced by international sources including foreign news sites to comments about Malta by non-Maltese bloggers. My blog is also my personal channel to air my opinions about current affairs, both local and international. Wired Temples is aimed primarily at an international audience with an interest in Maltese affairs,” he said..

Several Maltese bloggers emphasise the need of free expression in Malta, because too much media belong to the political parties. Expressing themselves next to the traditional media is a way of putting forward an alternative view. For Mark Vella, “The revolution has begun!” There is a real wish to counterbalance the views disseminated by the traditional media, and some are really critical. Indeed, some blogs deal with news, and could easily be compared to a new kind of media, like Wired Temples, which also offers links to articles written in Maltese newspapers..

According to Toni Sant, “people have a great desire to communicate without an intermediary and blogs are a very easy way to do this... perhaps the easiest”. The rule is that you authorise others to answer you, since a blog is not only a simple diary, like a normal personal website would be, since it is configured to receive post. Actually, it seems to be what interests bloggers most: having people react to your post..

Indeed, blogging is a relatively new phenomenon, especially in Malta, so it is still a kind of UFO of the Internet world. So we can wonder if it will last or if it is only a fashionable activity. However, it is a very interesting world where you can find points of views on everything and it is worth taking a look at it, and maybe try to have your own blog. As Mark Vella said, “the Maltese blogosphere is too exciting to be missed”.

I (have to) criticise, therefore I am - Kenneth's critique

Fausto Majistral says bloggers should be noted for what they have to say

Diplomatic times

The Diplomatic Times Review quotes an article on today's Sunday Times:

Commentary on French and Dutch voters' rejection of the European Constitution on May 29 and June 1, 2005 respectively continues to be offered in publications around the world as commentators try to understand the meaning behind the 'No" votes. Anthony Manduca of The Sunday Times of Malta provides an interesting perspective in the June 5, 2005 issue of the publication. Among other things, he said, Jacque Chirac's unpopularity is certainly not the only reason why the French rejected this treaty." He noted that:
There was a large left-wing movement against its ratification. The Socialist
Party was split over its support for the Constitution and the Communist Party
was opposed. The Left considered the treaty to be far too economically liberal or
"Anglo-Saxon", as the French like to call it. There was a genuine fear about the
effects on France of increased competition - such as the European Commission's
proposal to open up the services sector in Europe - and this was wrongly
confused with the European Constitution and EU enlargement.

Mr. Manduca also said:"The No vote in the Netherlands, which was even larger than the French rejection, was more to do with Dutch fears over the treaty and the future of Europe than an expression of anti-government feeling, even though Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende is not particularly popular at this point in time..

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Different scenarios

In this special report about what could happen in Europe as a consequence of French and Dutch rejection of the constitutional treaty, the Guardian contemplates different scenarios for the coming years. In one of them, the EU rotating presidency "grinds to a halt when Malta takes over all EU business in second half of 2008". In case the European Constitution is ratified, future EU presidencies are to be run in groups of three as agreed by Member states. From the Guradian:

The Meltdown Scenario - What could happen?

Bitter recriminations after French and Dutch rejection of constitutional treaty, followed by domino effect of massive no votes in Denmark, Poland and the Czech Republic. Backlash leads to crisis of legitimacy in which member states demand renationalisation of policies now run by EU. French demand protectionism to keep out low-tax eastern European competitors. Refusal to recognise judgments of European court of justice. Sceptical member states vote massively to withdraw from union but seek to retain access to the single market.

The euro - Deepening recession in eurozone. Heavy political pressure on European Central Bank leads to sharp interest rate cut and loss of confidence followed by runaway inflation. Italian debt crisis triggers departure from single currency to adopt the "nuova lira", pegged to sterling, the Chinese yuan and the US dollar.

Leadership - Rotating presidency grinds to a halt when Malta (population 400,000) takes over all EU business in second half of 2008. US cherrypicks new coalition of willing Europeans, including Britain, Poland and Italy, to invade Iran to force it to abandon its nuclear ambitions...

Philip Newton's Journal

An entry on Philip Newton's Journal, has triggered a discussion about the Maltese language. Another Philip Newton who is a parliamentary researcher in the UK wrote this piece for Progress in which he looks back at his first experience of a Labour conference. From Newton's journal:

Which I take to be something like "Only weird crazy people learn Maltese voluntarily if they don't live there". Yay! I'm weird and crazy! :)

The preface goes on to say that, in the author's experience, the three main groups of people interested in Maltese are (a) Arabists, (b) students of the Romance languages (Romanists?), and (c) people who were fascinated by a visit to these "magical islands". He also says that, rather than aiming to lead to oral fluency (being able to speak the language), the book wants to present the language's grammar in such a way that written texts can be understood. (Yay grammar! says the German in me. Kle will know why.) Because of the special interest Arabists have, there are also numerous notes about sound changes or etymology for people who know Arabic, which are specially marked so that people without that background knowledge can ignore them as they are not necessary for the rest of the text. (I read them anyway, 'cos they're fun.)

Floating crumbs - an internet discussion about Malta and the Maltese language

Language change - Oliver Friggieri - Wired Temples

Maltese Wikipedia - Wired Temples

Saturday, June 04, 2005

My Top Ten Maltese blog entries - May 2005

- in alphabetical order -

Don't let me be misunderstood: Toni Sant is not in a mood for retreat!

Il-Burda ta' Althusser: inutile de déjeuner on fashion

Il-Kriżi... u kif tegħlibha: Alex Velle Gera on the funeral of Julian Manduca

Maltese Reflections: Stuart Fenech on the Maltese experience in Australia

No, Minister: Fausto Majistral writes about constitutional matters

Nostalgia: Athena in Cambridge longs for Malta

Piano Man: Immanuel Mifsud on the mystery pianist

Roma capoccia... d' er monno 'nfame: Mark Vella celebrates the eternal city

Roxanne: Around the Benelux with Pierre J Mejlak

Vive La Revolution: Mikiel Galea on the Maltese blogosphere


A special mention goes to the following blog entries:

Good old Ethiopia: Thea Demanuele goes to work in Ethiopia
Keeping Opera Afloat!: The politics of opera by Chronic Chronicles of a Cronie
Local charity faces financial woes: Mark Spiteri writes about charity fundraising
Print! Print! Print! Print!: MaltaGirl concludes her thesis
Hunting high and low: Andre Rizzo's journeys and thoughts
Il-Jien u lil Hinn Minnu Pt.2: Reflections by L-Aghma
Life in Malta: Canadian student watching fireworks in Valletta
L-Gholi: Antoine Cassar's elevation above ground!
End of Semester Anxiety and Fallaci's Fears: Walahi discusses immigration issues
New York: The best of.. by Sandro Zerafa
No to Abortion in the Constitution: Matthew Mizzi disagrees with the Government proposal
Ewro biss, Ewro biss, kollox Ewro biss: Arcibald is concerned about the common currency
The Bears of Melitamalata: Rupert Cefai compares Malta with MelitaMalata
The maternal instinct: Sharon Spiteri on a new writing project
Winter Moods' Closer EP: it's finally here: A review by Kenneth
Rome Springs Eternal: Jacques celebrates the eternal city
Tikkritikax għax taqlagħha: Reuben Sant about Maltese "pupazzi jimmarcjaw"
Wirja ta' pittura: Fup visits art
Lacto! We Love You!: Richard Marlowe campaigns against the elimination of Lacto
Malta is part of iTaly: MTA said so: Culture Vulture on how Malta is being advertised
Xarabank - Il-brainwashing demokratiku?: Corazon's Mistoqsija on the "people's TV show"

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Maltese media landscape

The European Journalism Centre (EJC) aims 'to promote high quality journalism through professional training, particularly in a European context'. In this history and overview of the Maltese media landscape (needs updating) written for EJC, Joe Borg says that "the development of the Maltese mediascape is marked by five characteristics: the importance of the institutions, the fall and rise of public service media especially radio, the bilingual colonial heritage of the country, the David and Goliath syndrome and the giving of a new dimension to Malta's oral culture". This piece deals with Malta's bilingual culture as reflected in the media:

Malta was a British colony for over 160 years until it achieved independence in 1964. One of the most important remnants of this colonial period is Malta's bilingualism. While the national language of the Maltese Islands is Maltese - a synthesis of Semitic and European languages - the official languages are two: English and Maltese. This bilingualism is reflected in the media. The print media is numerically split into two equal parts. There are two dailies published in English and two Maltese ones. There are three Sunday papers in Maltese and three published in English. There are two Maltese weeklies and two English ones.

On the other hand the Maltese language dominates the audio and audiovisual media. Maltese is the main language used by radio stations, though there are four stations that can be considered as bilingual stations. The vast majority of the music played is English or Italian. It is calculated that only 15% of productions on Maltese radio stations are foreign productions (NSO Press Release 74/2001).

Maltese to day is also the dominant language in television production. This was not always the case. In 1994 (before the introduction of pluralism) only 43% of programmes on TVM were local productions. The rest was made of English films, serials, comedies, documentaries etc (Broadcasting Authority, 1994). To day 85% of the production on Maltese TV stations is of Maltese origin (NSO Press Release 74/2001).

On the other hand English is by far the most dominant language used in Maltese websites. A recent study conducted by Maltalinks Search Engine found that only 0.56% of Maltese websites are written in Maltese while 98.7% are written in English ( Retrieved on December 19, 2002 from www.maltalinks.com ). For the purpose of this study a Maltese website was defined as a website containing information about Malta or one that was created by Maltese persons. Two hundred thousand such websites were examined...

A bilingual mindset - Charles Flores

Harmonics from under the stairs

PL from Bremen, Germany says cheese in Balluta Bay:

I sat in a park (Baluta Bay) near the sea for a while, reading, when I met a Libyan taxi driver who came to Malta to learn English (not always the best choice, but not bad either). We struck up a conversation and for his 2 months of studying his English was great. He leaves for home tomorrow, to his 4 brothers and 3 sisters. It’s strange here, many Maltese (not most, but many) have a brain-dead racism ingrained into whatever lump of tissue they use for what can be considered thought. It’s one of the things that will go through a painful change, for everyone, here in the near future...

Philosophy of Law

Corazon Mizzi is a law student who blogs here. In her latest post she questions the traditional nature of the law course and links it to discrimination and lack of progress in Maltese society:

Cirku Vizzjuz. Internament inhoss li l-liberta` ta' l-espressjoni hija valuri WISQ aktar importanti milli nghaddi minn dan l-ezami jew li jkolli Dr. quddiem ismi. Fir-realta` illum biex ikollok xi tip ta' lehen fis-socjeta` trid:- Jew jkollok Dr. quddiem ismek- Jew tkun habib ta' xi hadd li jkollu d-Dr. quddiem ismu. U d-Dr. biex isir Dr. irid jghaddi 6 snin jirriproduci informazzjoni tradizzjonalista li donnha waqfet tizviluppa minn qabel it-2 gwerra dinjija. Generalment, tant jipprattika f'din il-haga li dak id-Dr. isir tradizzjonalist hu wkoll u jibda jippriedka t-tradizzjonalizmu.

Hekk kif tista` qatt taghmel progress Malta? Kif tista` qatt tiftah ghajnejha? Kif tista` qatt issir tolleranti? Kif tista` qatt tieqaf tiddiskrimina? Kif jista` qatt ikun hawn xi hadd li jirriforma s-sistema edukattiva u jaghti aktar cans lill-istudent li jifforma l-ideat tieghu? Intom tafu? Jien ghadni nistaqsi..

Mistoqsija

The Blogging Iceberg

Jeffrey Henning reports on a survey produced by the Perseus Development Corp:

The Blogging Iceberg - Of 4.12 Million Hosted Weblogs, Most Little Seen, Quickly Abandoned
Abandoned Blogs - Active Blogs - Demographics - Forecast - Conclusions - Caveats. Perseus Development Corp. randomly surveyed 3,634 blogs on eight leading blog-hosting services to develop a model of blog populations. Based on this research, Perseus estimates that 4.12 million blogs have been created on these services: Blog-City, BlogSpot, Diaryland, LiveJournal, Pitas, TypePad, Weblogger and Xanga.

Abandoned Blogs

The most dramatic finding was that 66.0% of surveyed blogs had not been updated in two months, representing 2.72 million blogs that have been either permanently or temporarily abandoned. Apparently the blog-hosting services have made it so easy to create a blog that many tire-kickers feel no commitment to continuing the blog they initiate. In fact, 1.09 million blogs were one-day wonders, with no postings on subsequent days. The average duration of the remaining 1.63 million abandoned blogs was 126 days (almost four months). A surprising 132,000 blogs were abandoned after being maintained a year or more (the oldest abandoned blog surveyed had been maintained for 923 days)...

God, Manchester United and Caravaggio

Can God and Giggsy pack them in? Malta is deeply religious - and nuts about Manchester United, wrote travel writer Nigel Richardson in an article that appeared on the Telegraph 7/14/2001 following the appointment of Gary Neville as Malta "tourism ambassador":

The Mediterranean island of Malta is used to invasions of rich foreigners in bright strips. When it was the borrowed home of the Knights of the Order of St John, the incomers wore lions rampant and stuffed the Infidels. Now they wear the Vodafone logo and stuff the Arsenal. Over the past 20 years this sun-baked lump of limestone, just 180 miles from the coast of Africa, has become the unlikely holiday hideaway of a number of Manchester United footballers. This summer the link has been made official with the appointment of United's England right back, Gary Neville, as Malta's "tourism ambassador", for a two-year period and an undisclosed sum ("not one pound and not a million pounds," according to a spokesman for the Malta Tourism Authority).

When I met Gary out there last week he described his new role as "basically to raise the image of Malta and to raise the number of young Britons coming here". Gary himself has been visiting for 10 years and has bought a pounds 400,000 apartment in the Portomasao Marina complex, in the St Julian's neighbourhood, with a jet ski parked outside. He's guaranteed a tickertape welcome. A genuine, if slightly bizarre, relationship has developed between Old Trafford and this island retirement home for superannuated English cars.

The man chugging up the hill in the sanatorium-green Anglia is more than likely to be a United fan, as the island claims to have the biggest supporters' club in the world outside Manchester. Behind him, the maniac revving the rusting Hillman Imp (the Maltese are notoriously bad drivers) may well support the Italian club Juventus, as footballing affiliations divide neatly between the Premiership and Serie A.


This faultline runs through families. Anna, my guide around the island, said that while her husband was an Anglophile, their daughters' boyfriends favoured the suspiciously silky skills of the Italian game. "When there is football on, they don't come home because my husband is very rude," she said. "He has a new big screen, but he has to watch it on his own." Anna and I were talking in a cafe in Mdina, the medieval walled city in the island's centre. So pristine is Mdina - virtually no signs of the modern world - that it is often used as a filmset. Anna sang the praises of its baroque and Italianate architecture. "Different designs, but they blend together like the patterns in a Persian rug," she said poetically.

But I was hardly listening to Anna. My eyes were drawn to an item in the cafe's chilled cabinet, staked with a flag that said "Eccles cake". For the Mancunian far from home there are other reassuring aspects of Maltese culture, not least red phone boxes that have yet to be superseded by Perspex hairdryers, and the pub where Oliver Reed drank his last, while filming Gladiator.
Named, with defiant chutzpah, simply The Pub, this tiny bar in Archbishop Street in Valletta attracts a constant, diffident crocodile of British pilgrims, who drink a pint and leave clutching T-shirts that declare: "I've been there - Ollie's last pub." Gary, despite living only a couple of miles away, said he'd never been there.


Such images, of course, are not at all what Malta wants to promote. It is Gary's job to help this deeply religious island, and neighbouring Gozo, to create a more vibrant, exclusive market.
They are looking to young people with disposable income, like Gary himself, to fill the bars and clubs on long weekends. They also want to attract older, affluent types - such as, say, Gary's manager, Sir Alex Ferguson - to secluded five-star hotels such as the Xara Palace in Mdina and the clifftop Ta' Cenc on Gozo.


So, come January, you will be able to see Gary cheering on Malta in a Manchester-based poster campaign and on ITV's Wish You Were Here?. And lest it seem a mite cynical to use a footballing superstar in this way, it should be said that he seems genuinely to care about the place. When I met him he was on the final day of his two-week Gary Neville Soccer School, in which he had helped to coach some 360 Maltese youngsters.

The concrete apartment blocks around the Hamrun stadium, on the outskirts of Valletta, reflected a murderous heat on to the pitch as Gary took a welcome break. "There's a cynical outlook sometimes on football," he said, "and it's nice to give something back to the kids."
Later that day one of Gary's team-mates, Ryan Giggs, flew in. Giggsy, who would walk into many people's World XI, was in Malta to promote a new charity, Destination Manchester. It aims to raise money to enable disadvantaged Maltese children to visit the home city of the Reds (it is possible they will want to stay on the plane if they arrive after August).


In the evening Giggs attended a drinks reception and charity dinner at the Westin Dragonara Hotel. This bash, sponsored by Air Malta and the Malta Tourism Authority, was billed as "a continuation of the successful partnership between Malta and Ryan Giggs's team-mate Gary Neville". Well, the flying Welshman may have lit up Old Trafford a time or two, but Malta remained stubbornly undazzled by his stellar presence. There was no gladhanding from Giggs, no speeches, hardly a smile, and the result was an embarrassingly drab fund-raising evening during which Giggs himself ended up buying David Beckham's auctioned No 7 shirt. If I had managed to talk to Ryan Giggs that evening - impossible, due to the human cordon around him - I would have suggested he went next morning to the cathedral in Valletta, dedicated to the Knights of St John, to view one of Malta's greatest treasures. Caravaggio's painting of St Jerome contemplating a skull is about not believing your own publicity.

The Land of Gary Neville and Maltesers - Wired Temples