Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Too Many People - Too Big a Problem?

The blog returns after a hiatus of approximately one month, mainly because there's really been nothing to write about in that past month and, well, blogs always slow down during the summer in any event. Whether I'll continue writing after this remains to be seen, but I might just leave the site so as to occasionally post an item or two. Or twenty, when I'm bored. I know that I can't compete against DCG though!

Well, not many things do often come to my mind that are worth putting fingers to keyboard, but recently, I couldn't help but notice something that a good friend of mine pointed out. Apparently, though I still have to see this confirmed, the law freshers tally the grand amount of over three hundred people this year, something which, if true, stuns me and further reinforces my belief that things have to change before they further spiral out of control. It's useless that we publish course reform reports if any suggestions in such reports will not be taken up by boards that are competent of rectifying such situations, and it's also useless just pointing out the obvious that there are problems in the course without simply proposing solutions for these problems.

The law course reform booklet, which was today published online, highlighted one important thing that really struck me - that many students are of the belief that law has become a dumping ground for those people who have not made it into their first choice courses, mainly due to a lack of sufficient grades to enter such a course. Therefore, with the entry requirements for the law course being banal to say the least, people are applying for this course with the belief that they can still be considered as among the 'elite' group of students at the University. Unfortunately, what these students don't realise is that when more and more apply on a yearly basis, the prestige of the course automatically starts to decline. Again, if true, 300+ students entering the law course this year means that there are at least 115 more people than the amount which entered three years ago, an amount which has subsequently declined to probably just around over 100. There is no chance in hell that in three years time, the mammoth number which has graced the course this year will decrease to a similar number as the current 4th year students.

Sooner rather than later - if it hasn't already, that is - law is going to become yet another B.Com - where people graduate like a tray of pastizzi.


Of course, the problem isn't only limited to the law course. If it were, then I really do ask someone to pinch me because I'd believe that I'm dreaming. Recently in particular, I've been finding that our Y4J group has been growing exponentially. While reiterating that such a group is by no means exclusive and that this itself is a good thing - a very good thing, believe me - I find that we have to be careful of some drawbacks as well.

Forming part of a tight-knit group of 60 odd people is not easy to say the least, and therefore, all efforts must be made, on a regular basis, to ensure that conflicts do not arise. Of course, there are people who have differing opinions on everything, but we just have to ensure that we are completely tolerant with one another in all circumstances. Such a big grouping means that not everyone is going to know each other inside out, obviously, so being sensitive to one another is more imperative than ever now. In my opinion, as a group grows, then consideration towards other people in general must grow too - the risk of finding someone having a bad day is greater than before, and therefore, one has to be careful of such things happening around them. Acceptance of each other's individual characters needs to be taken notice of.

I know that what I'm saying here might be obvious to many people, but I feel that we need to be aware of it. We're all human and we all make mistakes, after all, so it wouldn't be surprising to find someone not giving a hoot about these things occasionally. We just have to be more careful of the things that we say and more sensitive to people in general.

God Bless You all,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Explosive in Nature

The recent fireworks factory blast in Gharb, Gozo, has left a bitter taste in many people's mouths not only with regard to the lack of safety procedures involved which, in all probability, led to the explosion of the factory, but also to the amount of lives that this incident has taken. Unfortunately, in Malta, we seem to have the mentality that something tragic is needed in order for the authorities (if any!) to take due action; and even when this happens, what due action is taken is something that is generally beyond the general public, i.e. it is never reported. We just have to face the reality that we're living in a state where practically everyone covers up for one another at whatever cost, even if it means that the lives of other people are at stake.

Of course, first, second and third come the protection of our personal interests, and then only after that - and there should indeed be a big IF inserted into that equation - come the interests of the public at large and the state in general. Crazy and mentally demented as he might be, perhaps Norman Lowell was right when he recently called the public at large a bunch of sheep - for they generally religiously follow and accept anything that someone with the remotest hint of power says. It's pathetic, to say the least.

That aside, however, I found it blatantly ridiculous - even more so than certain things that occur on these islands - that the Xaghra feast scheduled for today was not cancelled in light of this recent tragedy, the official reason being that those who died did not form part of the Xaghra locality and therefore the village should not be affected by it. The link between the two instances, that being the feast in question and the fireworks factory as mentioned above, was that this factory was actually producing fireworks for the Xaghra feast. I beg to imagine what the hell might have been going through the mind of the parish priest in question when he uttered these comments, and where his Christian roots have gone. The least that the community could have done, as a sign of respect for those people who perished in this blast and their surviving families - and just for the record, this was not the first explosion at this factory, for another such explosion occurred in 2005(!!) - was cancel the feast. But no, and I quote Daphne Caruana Galizia here because I agree with her viewpoint 100% in this instance, the community has just lost thousands of euros worth of fireworks; it would be a shame if the amount of money spent on the village feast had to suffer the same fate!

Honestly, sometimes I wonder how certain people were educated. It's a trait that's becoming all too familiar with time, placing our personal agendas before that which makes sense in the context of things. The shocking thing is that the Xaghra feast continues to be backed by its parish, and that there are also some people who are willing to celebrate the night away, drunk on cheap ass beer and lying down in the middle of Xaghra's main square, while five people who were working on their fireworks are dead. Obviously, thinking that what happened is not tragic and that the show must nonetheless go on. It's one of the biggest paradoxes I could ever imagine - but at the end of the day, the most important thing is that we boast about being a Christian country, isn't it?

God Bless You all,

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

And We're Back!

There is no doubting my mind that Soul Survivor is just a wonderful experience no matter how many times one ends up by going to England.

While this year's trip marked my second time in going up to Shepton Mallet, I really felt that this time I went up knowing that I shouldn't really be in line for any unpleasant surprises or difficult times and that I could see this trip as an opportunity to just relax, forget about all my worries and just receive instead of serve, which is the position that I willingly find myself positioned in all too often while in Malta. I knew how Soul Survivor worked now, as opposed to having to venture into the unknown two years ago; and therefore, could see this as a different experience to that which I passed through back in 2008, which was primarily an experience of healing and confirmation.

And indeed, for the most part, my thoughts above were confirmed. Having said that, however, nothing is ever plain sailing and of course, there indeed had to be a hitch or two along the way just so that I would have endured a test. However, I found that even though some of these 'tests' did initially worry me, keeping a calm head - something which I don't think I would have even been able to envisage around a year ago now - managed to help me plough through them with flying colours. Being sick for the majority of the trip, for example, was something that I found immensely frustrating, especially when this culminated in me not being able to speak for most of the second day, all of the third day and part of the fourth. However, especially during the praise and worship sessions, this made me realise that you don't necessarily need a voice to worship Him - if you just keep focus in your heart, it's more than enough and just as effective.

Sickness and poor health aside, however, I found that the biggest test was not having my best friend there for a week. It made me realise a couple of things in particular - primarily, while Mark and I still communicated on a daily basis, it meant that personally, I had to make it my mission to ensure that I could just 'let go' and rely on other people; and secondly, it also allowed me to form some bonds with people that I would not have previously imagined I would indeed 'bond' with. I'm obviously not speaking about the obvious culprits, people who besides Mark, I can always be found with; but people that I was friends with before but I now feel that I've brought back to Malta a stronger friendship. The experience really served well for that purpose.

Also equally amazing, and I say this being an older member of the group, is the maturity levels that the majority of the younger members of the group have. While I already knew this, I really found Soul Survivor to be a confirmation of it, and a real fantastic way to find out about these people's characters. A lot of those who are four or five years younger than people like myself have their heads screwed on really well and they really do have their priorities set straight. That aside, they are also exceptionally intellectual and caring people, and I believe that the majority of them indeed do display a maturity that belies their age. I know that when I was 16/17, acting like this was more of the exception rather than the norm. Now, I can only see it from the opposite perspective, which in my eyes, is encouraging. The best thing about it all though is that such maturity is not being achieved at the expense of having fun and not enjoying teenage life - these people just have enough in them to go and find a balance in this regard. Kudos.

Perhaps I might not be as charged up as I wanted to be coming back from Soul Survivor, but I do understand and appreciate that the experience served me in good stead and that I would have no regrets in going up again. And again. And again. It's just something out of this world, outstanding, titanic; something that cannot be missed. Indeed, for me, just being one of out 12,700 other people who are there for the same reason is humbling and overwhelming enough.

God Bless You all!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Plastic Christianity

Malta is renowned for being a devout Christian country that is the beacon of moral values, which is fine by many people's standards. However, shrouded in the midst of this nation's values is an air of hypocrisy that is so vast and so explicit; a hypocrisy that even shames the majority of us from being called Catholics and practicing this religion. Mhux l-aqwa li nmorru l-quddies nhar il-Hadd, hux?

Here, I'm not speaking about the major topic of the day, i.e. the possible introduction of divorce legislation in Malta - that is something on which another blog could possibly be dedicated to and something that I have my own viewpoint on - but speaking about the public's attitude at large to other people. If Malta was the true beacon of Christianity and Catholicism, then I'm almost certain that we wouldn't be seeing Cikku and Peppu swearing at every corner in Valletta, or fights breaking out in the middle of Paceville almost every Friday. I'm not saying that we would be perfect either - no one is - but surely if those practicing people, the people who are allegedly holier than thou for the best part of 45 minutes on a Saturday evening or a Sunday morning, stuck to their apparent values during the week, when out, when at work - wherever - then we would be a lot better for it all.

Just because you play a game of football and you make a mistake, it doesn't mean that you have to go swearing in the direction of God and blame Him for your troubles. Just because something doesn't go right when you're doing a chore or have an errand to do, it doesn't mean that we have to curse until we feel better. Just because someone teases and bullies another person, it doesn't mean that such a person has to go on a subsequent rampage. If there's anything about this in particular worth highlighting, I would know - I've been down this route and for practically ten months now, I've managed to 'reform' my character accordingly. On a personal level, when compared to the past, I do not lose my temper as much as I used to and I do not descend into such vulgarities so easily, as was the case back then.

However, if you do something that allegedly offends our morals, as seen in today's online edition of the Times, where two youths decided to sunbathe in the middle of Valletta as part of a sketch designed to make the hits on YouTube, then we very ironically hit back at such people by reoffending our morals and swearing the hell at them. I don't care if these people were wrong and acting contrary to the law - although, quite frankly, I don't see anything offensive in sunbathing in the middle of Palace Square or in front of the Law Courts (if people do so on the beach, which is a public place, then what's the difference?) - that's not the point. Perhaps those institutions of our country need to be mocked, anyway. The point is that the people who passed by these youths, disgusted at them and swearing away just to prove their point, are probably people who are such alleged practicing Christians. Of course, being a Christian only counts for that amount of time on Saturday or Sunday, as I mentioned above. It doesn't count for the rest of the week. It doesn't count in every second that passes during the day. Or so we think.

This is not to mention that people in this country perhaps do need to get their act together and start thinking as if we're in 2010, soon to be 2011 - and not stuck in the 1950's, or, God forbid, the 1970's - taht il-gvern soppressiv ta' Mintoff. In addition to living the values that we Maltese allegedly promote, we also have to move with the times and realise that it is time to catch up with modern-day Europe, and stop acting like a third way country or a dictatorship. But it's easier said than done for this is Malta, after all.

God Bless You all!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's One Thing When You're Here!

As many of you know, I'm back at EF this summer and am (finally) happily teaching Upper Intermediates. Although all my students are Spanish, something which generally poses a problem because such students often speak between themselves in their native tongue, the majority of those that I'm teaching are relatively well-versed in the language and therefore, conversing in English is relatively straightforward with them; this as opposed to last year, when I just had Elementary students - a downright 'mare for someone who struggles to write in simple English, let alone speak it.

Anyway, following last Monday's attempted intimidation/assault/call it what you wish by the hamalla from the depths of God knows where (I still insist, had that bitch or her son/boyfriend/brother/whatever ogre he might have been as much as laid a finger on me, I would have beaten them to a pulp), the last thing I perhaps wanted on a Tuesday morning is school at 8 a.m. Of course, my sleep had been massively disturbed due to this... incident. But yet, I had to live with this, for this is what happened. It's useless crying over spilt milk.

Anyway, all zombified, I walked into class that morning and all was fine. The first lesson actually went to plan and without any hitches. As is the norm with this group of students that I have, they were cooperative and willing to work, and actually seem to enjoy the lessons. Fantastic. However, two particular incidents straight after this lesson (which did not involve my students) - please note that my students' brains were meant to be fully functioning yet mine was still completely... asleep - then jolted me into action for the rest of the day. Perhaps, with hindsight, thank God they occurred!

The first was actually a bit absurd, but I believe that I was in the right. Some idiot was sitting on the porch that leads to the school building and had a tissue in hand. He was wearing a cap and looked like a rapper, with the only difference that he was caucasian - rappers, normally, are not. Anyway, our coolio friend decided that he didn't want to hold the tissue in his hand any longer and threw it into the road. I caught the fool red-handed. Being the dedicated corrector of people that I am employed to be, I decided to approach this student and told him that he had thrown the tissue onto the pavement. He vehemently disagreed with me, protesting his case in a not too dissimilar manner to a chihuahua. Seeing his non-compliance with my telling him that that he did, I ordered that he go and pick up the tissue. The student once again refused, and actually told me to tell him to 'say please' (yes, I quote). Say please? Bloody hell, I'm a teacher and he's a student; if I told him to pick up the wretched tissue because he actually threw it on the floor, then he sure is going to pick it up! Eventually, after I showed him that I wasn't going to budge and that I was boss here, he got off the porch, picked it up and threw it in the bin in a similar way to how Joris Mathijsen slammed a football into the ground after disapproving of a decision made by the referee in the World Cup Final last Sunday; this to the tune of me telling the student, "We do not litter our country!" Well, we do, but I can't accept these tourists doing so - they can do what they wish in Spain, but here, it's another thing altogether.

If the first incident perhaps merited attention and me remembering what happened, the second incident, which occurred straight after the break finished, was just plain farcical. Some student came to school - he must have been drunk - at half past 9, when in reality, his lesson was at half past 4 in the afternoon. It transpired that he thought that yesterday was Wednesday. Anyway, our friend found me and asked where his lesson was, and I kindly indicated that it's in the afternoon. Fine. He then asked if I was his teacher, even though his sheet said "Michelle Borg" on it and did not indicate my name. Yet again, I replied that I wasn't his teacher. The boy kept on insisting that I was his teacher, and I told him that Michelle is a girl's name. I then asked him whether I looked like a female or not to him - you know; shaved hair, growing stubble, deep voice... these characteristics should have all given it away. In truly idiotic fashion, this student replied in the affirmative and said that I WAS a female. (I hate using 'emoticons' in blogs, but this really merits a '-_-'... big time.) I was shocked that he did not know/notice the difference between a man and a woman. And please note, the reason why I was shocked was because his timetable indicated that he was an Intermediate student!! Someone, evidently, guessed his way through the placement test...

Oh well, any other crazy adventures from work will be posted here in due course! What a wacky world us teachers have to put up with...

God Bless You All!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

1966, Revisited

Seldom do I write blogs about football, but when the World Cup comes along, I can't not help myself to a couple of posts about the beautiful game. Furthermore, in addition to my appearance on Kick Off last Thursday, I sincerely believe that any footballing analysis that I make is better than the tripe that they say on TV, thereby giving me the divine right to comment accordingly. A case in point is when the presenter asking me questions during my interview mistakenly asked what I would do if I were in Capello's shoes during the Italy game vis-a-vis half-time substitutions - of course, the Italian coach, at the time, was Marcello Lippi.

Anyway, today saw England face off against Germany, in what was undoubtedly meant to be one of the ties of the round of last 16. Instead, however, it transpired that Germany were in inspired form and England were rather pants, resulting in a 4-1 defeat for the English and yet another four years without winning the World Cup. By the time Brazil 2014 comes, they wouldn't have lifted the trophy (the real one, and not any replicas one might see) for 48 years, a streak which will almost certainly be extended considering who the hosts of the World Cup and automatic favourites for their 6th or 7th world titles are going to be. Despite the mauling, however, there was a massively controversial moment in the first half where a ball hit by Frank Lampard actually crossed the line (for once) by a good couple of feet, only for the linesman not to award the goal for some strange reason. Had it been allowed, the teams would have, perhaps undeservedly, gone in for the break at 2-2, and a different game would have been on our hands.

I will now proceed to analyse this incident both subjectively (simply because that perspective is fun) and objectively, and look at the overall impact that the incident had on the game and England's now-defunct World Cup chances.

The Subjective Perspective

For the Italian-supporting Maltese population, this disallowed goal will be seen as justice served for England. Not only have they been punished for being poor in the group stage - no matter how so much poorer Italy was, in all fairness - but there is always some form of delight at seeing one's bitter rivals being bruised, battered, hurt and destroyed. Justice will also be seen as served vis-a-vis the goal that never was in 1966, when, ironically, a goal that didn't cross the line was awarded to Geoff Hurst and gave England a 3-2 lead against West Germany in the World Cup final. That match ended up finishing 4-2 to England, which should have been the score this afternoon too.

This was one hell of a humiliation. Seeing defending as poor as that out there, where even a schoolboy would have been able to do a better job, is practically laughable. Critics and the media will be absolutely justified in criticising and smashing Capello and his team - the fact of the matter is that while there is no shame in losing to Germany, losing 4-1 is firstly embarrassing; and secondly, this was also done solely out of England's own ineptness. In a group containing Slovenia, Algeria and the USA, they should have finished comfortably top of the pile. Had they done so, they would be facing the likes of Ghana in the round of 16, and Uruguay in the quarter-finals, instead of a route to the final consisting of Germany, Argentina, Spain and Brazil. Hardly an impossible route to being among the best four teams in the world.

Yeah, on a personal level, I just can't stop smiling.

The Objective Perspective

Let's be honest with ourselves now - the ball DID indeed cross the line, and this was about as clear a goal as one would have seen throughout the tournament. I think there should be no dispute about this point, and indeed, perhaps, there should have been nothing controversial whatsoever about it.

Inevitably, arguments have come about over how this would have changed the landscape of the game. At the time the incident occurred, England were losing 2-1, which would have obviously meant that had the goal stood, they would have pulled level, no matter how much Germany had dominated the game up to that point in time and no matter how much England wouldn't have deserved it. However, the fact of the matter is what happened, well, happened; and nothing can be done about it.

Would it have raised England's morale and deflated Germany? Would we be seeing England in the quarter-finals instead of the aformentioned Germans? This is all part and parcel of the game - and indeed, no football game in history has been devoid of its what ifs. By the same token, one could ask what if that the goal that never was indeed did not stand in 1966 - would Germany have another world title to their name? What if Italy weren't awarded that penalty that sent them to the quarter-finals in 2006 against Australia - would they have become champions of the world? What if Thierry Henry didn't shield the ball with his left hand three times in the playoff against Ireland? What if Diego Maradona didn't score the "hand of God" goal? What if Ronaldo hadn't mysteriously fallen ill before the 1998 World Cup final? The list is endless for any competition, not just the World Cup.

The disallowed goal however beggars belief as to what the linesman was doing at that time. As mentioned before, the ball was at least two feet over the line, which in ordinary terms means that anyone would have been able to see it in the net. I just wonder whether the linesman was either extremely badly positioned, or rather whether his vision was obstructed in some way or another. Either way, in reality, there should have been no excuse - the goal was there to stand. One however cannot really blame the referee, who was probably too far back to determine whether the ball had indeed crossed the line or not.

This also once again reopens the debate vis-a-vis goal line technology. This afternoon's shot was so glaringly obvious that technology, per se, would not have been needed, but with the linesman on Mars, perhaps it might have indeed been useful. In a day and age where technology is so advanced and yet the football the best players in the world are using at these finals is so crap, it has already been proven to not be impossible to insert a microchip into the ball which would determine whether such a ball has fully crossed the goal line or not. It would also put those lovely big screens that many stadia have in this day and age to good use.

Other sports have progressed and embraced technology readily, even if some players aren't too happy about it. Tennis, for instance, has adopted hawk-eye technology, which determines whether a ball has clipped the line or not, rendering it 'in' or 'out' for that point. While an identical concept wouldn't be ideal for football, something along these lines could be conjured up and modified accordingly so as to avoid such incidents in the future. Another solution that would have undoubtedly been beneficial in today's match is UEFA's famed goal line assistants - someone placed on the goal line obviously would not have missed this incident.

But thereagain, what is the beautiful game without controversy?

God Bless You all!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Joys and Hurts of the World Cup

It only comes about once every four years, but when it does, a football feast and fan frenzy obviously ensues. The World Cup has, over the years, provided its fair share of frills, spills, drama and excitement, and the South African edition of this seems to be no different - not for the abundance (read: 'lack') of goals that its producing, as a general rule, but because of the various storylines developing both on and off the field.

Of course, while the French continue to hog the headlines for being the most dysfunctional team of the whole tournament (judging by the way things are going at the moment, coach Raymond Domenech won't have any players at his disposal for the match against South Africa and have to play himself in the match!), English and Italian supporters have also had their fair share of heart attacks till now, and if recent form is anything to go by, then they might be going back home quicker than they expected. Both sides were expected to stroll through their groups, but both sides are massively struggling and can't hit the back of the net to save their lives. England, for all the hype surrounding Wayne Rooney's fantastic season, haven't seen their strikers hit the target yet; while Italy have fared precious little better - they've scored two goals in total, one of which was a penalty (and no matter how soft it was, it indeed WAS a penalty, just as much as New Zealand's goal was offside - stop whining about it!!)

While the English have looked toothless all over the pitch, as well as relatively uninterested in troubling the opposition; the Italians have at least attacked with some intent but have the worst bunch of strikers ever taken by their national team in World Cup history, which obviously doesn't help their cause one bit. Indeed, something positive to draw from the Italian performances is that they've showed some form of resilience in both of their games so far in order to come back from losing positions. The English, on the other hand, relied on a customary goalkeeper howler to let the USA back into their first match, and parked the bus in front of the Algerian assault on goal. Perhaps Don Fabio wasn't exactly the saviour that the English were hoping for - so far. In any event, both teams still know that in reality, due to the equally appalling performances of the other teams in their groups, they still have their fate in their own hands - win their matches and they get through to the last 16. But that too might be too much of an ask for these nations in their current form. And that's obviously not to speak of Capello's confident admission that England would reach the final of the tournament.

Having however seen some big nations falter, it's been the World Cup of the underdog so far. Shock results have been recorded pretty much across the board - Italy's draw with New Zealand, England's draw with Algeria, Germany's loss to Serbia and Spain's loss to Switzerland have all been unexpected, to say the least. That's not to say that each of these nations will now go on to win the World Cup - on a personal level, I still believe that the Spanish suffered a minor setback in that game against the Swiss and have the talent and the overall team to win the title - but at least, we're seeing that the minor nations of the tournament have managed to really close the gap on these superpowers. A group comprising England, the USA, Slovenia and Algeria definitely does not send any shivers down one's spine, but look at the position England are in at the moment, despite being predicted to steamroller one of the weakest groups, on paper, of the tournament.

The problem is that the superpowers have also underestimated their opponents. It's clear that a laissez-faire attitude is unacceptable in tournaments like these, where anything can pretty much happen. It also means that teams must be willing to go out there, fight for every ball and not enter each match thinking that they've won it from the start. Teams have become plucky over the years and are no longer willing to just roll over because the likes of Italy, Argentina, Brazil, France and England have come to town. Actually, for them, it's an opportunity to create a shockwave that the rest of the world will get to know about and even justify their places at the tournament. Perhaps it is for this reason, for the sheer unpredictability of it all, that this World Cup could be classed among the greatest at the moment.

God Bless You all!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's Time to Set the Record Straight

It's ironic that a year ago to the day, I wrote a blog about the very same topic that I'll be writing about this evening but alas, nothing has changed since that very day and with the way things are indeed going, it doesn't seem as if anything is improving either! Of course, a small blog like this read by a select bunch of readers is obviously going to have anything but an influence on either the public policy as pursued by our government, but using this medium as a method of venting against the inadequacies that a system currently presents will never do anyone any harm.

In recent days - scrap that, since around the beginning of the year, actually - Malta has been having various power cuts that are actually more reminiscent of a country such as Mugabe's Zimbabwe than a Member State of the European Union. Worryingly, there have been three blackouts on the island (of course, the glorious PL decided to compare this to one of Malta's most shameful days in history, Black Monday, by calling it Blackout Monday) since Tonio Fenech took over the electricity portfolio from Austin Gatt, something which is unacceptable in this day and age. Too many faults have developed at the Marsa Power Station, which subsequently sends the Delimara Power Station into overload and makes that collapse as well, meaning that Malta then has no electricity for it is not yet connected to the European grid. But while there are problems with the country's electricity supplier, there are also major problems with the policy that Malta has adopted over the years and seems to not be willing to change.

This problem is that there is a monopoly of electricity supply, meaning that Enemalta, for all their "negotiating skills" when it comes to buying oil and fuels, have the right to charge whatever rates they want to their customers because obviously, Malta cannot choose between different providers of fuel and electricity. And then you wonder why our electricity bills are among the highest in Europe. This leads to an inadequate service overall - bills aren't sent on time (many a time, actually), customer care is among the worst on the island (they probably top the list, with Melita a close second) and rates are sky high. The problem however accentuates when you realise that Malta is currently entirely fossil fuel dependent*, and therefore having another electricity provider would also mean having the accompanying industry surrounding it - something which Malta's size cannot possibly permit because it would mean the further industrialisation of the little land that we have left, something which the country cannot afford. Furthermore, putting another power station down in the South would only serve to irk such people on even more than they currently are, confirming their thoughts that they are treated like second class citizens.

Therefore, as the expansion to the Delimara Power Station might indeed not be the way forward, what is the solution? I'm by no means an economist or an energy expert, but I believe that the first thing that the government should do is continue to look at connecting Malta to the European grid. This will help eliminate all those extra power cuts that we've been having of late and ensure a constant supply of energy. Automatically, I believe, the government should also look to liberalise this sector of the economy in order to allow foreign companies access into the local market by means of stations that are set up on mainland Europe, this by means of another connection from the European grid towards Malta. This would allow Italian electricity companies to supply electricity to Malta, for example, and be in competition with Enemalta. It is only then that Enemalta would no longer be able to abuse of their dominant position in the relevant market and subsequently be forced to lower their prices accordingly, as otherwise they would lose their clients faster than the credibility that they've already lost.

We'll see if come June 17, 2011, I'll have to write yet another entry about the pitiful state that we're currently facing.


It's great to see my writings having a bit of an effect, albeit minimal.

Today, I was approached on Facebook by a Masters student, who asked me if a blog that I had written on The Times about the Presidency of Malta, in early 2009, was my own work and whether it could possibly be used to form part of the content of his thesis.  I was also asked if there was any other information which could be found on the President, but unfortunately, I could not help him in that regard.

It may be something small, but it sure did make me feel smart for a little while.

God Bless You all!

*Not taking into account any electricity produced by solar panels, which is minimal.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The End of a Journey

So yesterday afternoon, we finally realised a dream when we came to the end of what has been a long, winding road. A journey that has had its ups and downs, its good times and bad times, but a journey that has probably made most of us better and more mature men and women.

When we entered the law course the best part of three years ago, we all were thrown in at the deep end, right into the unknown. Some of us didn't even know each other. However, we all knew that there were tough times that did lie ahead, but obviously, we didn't know how tough they would be until we encountered them ourselves. "Obligations" was merely a subject we had heard about, and occasionally told about how difficult a subject it could indeed be. But as first years, our worry was not about Obligations; it was about the likes of Constitutional Law, Roman Law and Philosophy of Law - all 'failing subjects' back in the day, and probably still no different now. That tag was indeed justified - by the end of first year, a course that initially started out with 185 prospective lawyers had whittled down to around 115 by the start of second year. The decrease was just extraordinary. Some couldn't handle the pressures that the course presented and called it a day, others decided to seek pastures new either abroad or in another course, and others, unfortunately, just failed and didn't make it. Perhaps they tried again and succeeded; perhaps they tried again and once again, sadly, didn't pass.

What I found strikingly accurate is that the advice that people who had passed through the course before us would present. A good friend of mine told me that Family Law aside, second year would be a breeze and indeed, nearly everyone would get through it with flying colours, which was nothing less than the truth. Indeed, Family Law was one of those subjects, alongside Roman Law and Obligations this year, which completely did not merit the accreditation given to it. When you have tons of information piled up that necessitates hours on end of studying for the end of year exam, giving such subjects a value of 6, 6 and 8 credits respectively is criminal. Moreover, the swearing that goes on when indeed studying away for these subjects probably merits at least 2 credits in each case! Which brings me to a point aside - what is it with Civil Law exams being so underrated?

And this brings me to third year. Second years who might read this please note, this one is for you in particular. Everyone knows that this is the year where you go to hell and beyond when you enter the course, but yet again, on a personal level, I thought this was all the hype, at least initially. How wrong I was. The content that had to be studied was probably around four times the amount we had in second year - no joke - with Obligations constituting the biggest chunk in this increase of material. Indeed, while we were all encouraged to work and study throughout the year, never before had I imagined that I had to start studying things properly so well in advance in my life. Indeed, had I not done the wise thing, I think it would be safe to say that I'd be in a hell of a lot more trouble than I probably am at the moment! Each subject in third year is demanding beyond belief - even Commercial Law, for example, sees a massive increase in the amount of material when comparing it to what was done in second year (and please note, both years are awarded the same accreditation!!). Each subject demands a particular amount of time and attention as otherwise, one might find it very difficult to get through. On a personal level yet again, though, having had to encounter the above with the constant chasing of bricks and absurd noises coming out of the construction site next door for the past year or so, I feel I'm prepared for anything that might be thrown my way in the future!

So that's that, and hopefully, following yesterday's horror show, LL.B. is over. It's been a long journey, but it's been a colourful one. It's a been tough but together, we've managed to get through it. So people like Stef, Carla, Mickey, Gerd, Dalli, Stefan, Andrew, Hannah, Kurt, Nicola, Felicity, Krista (both of you), Emma, David, Clement... the list goes on, but last and definitely not least, of course, I'd have to mention you, Mark; thank you for the memories and thank you for helping me get through it just as much as, I hope, I helped you get through as well.

We'll hopefully all see each other in LL.D... will it be the beginning of a new journey together?

God Bless You all!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The (Real) Final Stretch

Four exams down, one to go. And it's only the toughest one left... I'm however glad that they're nearly over, I think this has been the most hellish year at University by far. So far I believe I've done alright for myself, especially considering the criminal lack of studying I put into certain subjects. I don't want to predict my grades though because what generally happens is that I end up by predicting wrongly and thereby disappoint myself when I see my confirmed grade! Having said that, I had a study plan, which I decided to implement, and I believe that for the most part, it paid off.

Certain papers have been more difficult than others; a case in point being the International Law exam (surprisingly!!) yesterday and our Economics exam (not so surprisingly!!) today; the latter especially being hard on us law students for a multitude of reasons. One, we only really had half a day and a bit of the morning (unless someone did an all-nighter) to study for the subject, considering that there was International Law - which had a minimum content of 100 pages worth of notes - to do the day before it. Two, with all due respect to the EDRC, its staff and its students, it was our (final?) subsidiary exam and therefore did not merit half the amount of attention that our law examinations required. Three, the majority of us were clueless on the subject. Four, and perhaps most critically, the majority of us also couldn't give two hoots about it, knowing that a Compensated Pass would be enough for us to get through!

And so it boils down to the famed Obligations. Weirdly enough, it's the exam that I'm the most unmotivated for at the moment, despite it being the make or break scenario, the subject which has given many students many a sleepless night. No wonder, what with those 120 odd cases to study by heart! And then, following that, comes the reward of summer - at long last - until I start working, yet again, at EF. I prefer calling it Oestrogen Central, due to the overwhelming female teacher ratio vis-a-vis males, but nothing can be done about that! In any event, it's been a long road this year, but one that's been travelled full speed ahead. If only this theme could be repeated until Monday, I will be forever grateful!

Till Monday, 12.15pm: Obligations... "Till Death do us Part."

God Bless You all!

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Cardinal Sins of Facebook

Facebook. Oh Facebook, what a worldwide phenomenon it has become. It is practically an indispensable tool in everyone's life now, with over 400 million people worldwide (putting it into perspective, that's 80% of all of the EU's population and nearly one-twelfth of the global population) subscribed to the website. But for all its positives and its universal approach, Facebook can be the source of all things massively annoying as well. Or just plain lame. Hereunder, I've decided to list what I believe are the ten most annoying things that one can find happening on "FB" on a daily basis...

10. Photos
Let's face it, whenever one is randomly snapping away with a camera, there's always the odd photo which would have transpired to be extremely... horrible. And yet, you could be morphing your facial features into something resembling a dog and the photo will still find its way onto Facebook. When it's there and you're dissatisfied with it, and subsequently ask for it to be removed, your lovely friends will not remove it, even if it means them parting with their lives in the process. Untagging such photos is just as useless though, because such photos obviously are still uploaded... and will remain so until the person who put them up decides to either delete the blessed photo... or leave Facebook (though technically speaking, one can never leave the website when their account is activated).

9. Advertisements
Ok, so any advert on Facebook isn't, in all fairness, really an in-your-face kind of thing, but still - the persistent presence of those adverts that I'd rather not see on the side of my screen, with sponsors trying to milk money from search engines and the like by means of the views they collect from such clicks is just downright irritating. This can be excusable to a certain extent as Facebook is free of charge to all those who subscribe to the site. However, what makes this notion even worse is the fact that one can 'like' these adverts. So yes, I have the option to like being ripped off by someone... how lovely.

8. Liking One's Own Profile Picture
Isn't it obvious that there's no need to like your own profile picture... if you put it there in the first place? I mean, come on - doesn't that tacitly imply that you think that the photo is a good one in the first place, or do you need to reaffirm this by clicking that wretched 'like' button? (And hoping that others like it for you too?)

7. Notifications
This would have been ranked higher in the list had there not been the facility to disable the function of receiving emails for every little event that happens on Facebook. Nonetheless, even if you do opt not to receive such emails, you could find yourself filtering out the various things that people have done to you over the last second, minute, hour, day or week. Or God forbid, if you don't use the site often enough, over the last year. Every little activity that happens on your profile is accounted for and you are duly told about it, whether you like it or not. Now lump with it, dear.

6. Suggestions
"You and [person X] have 123 friends in common." Just because of the high number of mutual friends, it by no way means that I know the person who Facebook is suggesting I connect with. Furthermore, I don't need Facebook to suggest who I should become friends with, thank you very much - if anything, first I'll meet the person physically and then add him/her as a friend, or vice-versa. Facebook is a great way of maintaining communication, but shouldn't be a way of initiating it.

5. Applications (in General)
"Which political guru are you?", "Who do you resemble most?", "Pick Who" etc... what a waste of time. Useful in times such as these, when entertaining oneself is at an all time low level, but quizzes and applications such as these spring out of nowhere one day, are the latest trend for a week or so, and then become as dormant as anything. 'Who has the Biggest Brain' is now history, 'Pet Society' was popular back in 2008 and has now also been confined to the dustbin, while 'Farmville' seems to have lived its time in the spotlight as well. For the most part, that is, for I know of someone who has actually messaged his parents - while out - to cultivate his crops. Oh dear.

4. "Become a Fan"
Or, so that I live with the times, I should entitle this bit 'like'. Pages, as such, are useful on Facebook - they can be an excellent source of promoting business, seeing how many fans a particular artiste might have, etc. However, liking such pages, as it is now called, is a downright nuisance. Why should I see, on my live news feed, that person X likes ABC Ltd? Is this person X an affiliate of the company? A shareholder? Does the person have a vested interest in it? What has the company done to person X so that he/she repays the favour by liking it? It's all a bit senseless, don't you think...

3. Liking One's Own Status
Perhaps this is more of a cardinal sin than liking one's own profile picture, simply because everyone sees this event happening. On the other hand, not everyone sees the former event. Liking one's own status and whatever is written in it follows from the principle in point #8: if you wrote it, you're bound to like it. You're not going to write down something that you disagree with. You're not going to write down something that isn't of significance to you. But pressing that button after doing this is just wrong, and indeed, is the epitome of lame. "Person X is on summer holidays but can't wait for his friends to finish!" Like. Just... no.

2. Top Friends
Shamelessly stolen from a video clip that I once saw on Youtube, loads of people have this little box showing their top friends in some corner of their profile. However, many - probably including myself - take this as a ranking system for our friends, in what way we rate our friends depending on how close they are to us or we to them. And furthermore, if a friend really pisses you off or is unpopular in your books at a point in time, then you open the application and start shuffling around and rearranging your friends, in terms of the scale you want to place them. Come on, admit it, you've done it at a point in time in the past. I sure have.

And finally... *drumroll*...

1. Poking
The creme de la creme of Facebook cardinal sins however is this. Indeed, this is so pointless, so useless and so annoying that it practically merits a category on its own, over and above this list. What is the point for 'poking' people...? Firstly, you're not physically poking them and secondly, all you see is a tiny notification on the side of your page stating "Person X poked you. Poke back?" "You're about to poke Person X back." And that didn't hurt one bit, but consumed fifteen seconds of your time that you will never get back. Just over two ridiculous clicks which really didn't even have a purpose in the first place. Well done.

God Bless You all!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Earn Your Stripes

Nothing's ever easy in life, and as time passes by, I'm starting to realise this more and more.

There was a time when education was easy, where one would have to learn the basic principles of long multiplication and that would come out in an exam; or where one would read 'My Family and Other Animals' as a form of English literature. Those were the days, although in all fairness, at the time these things seemed hard too, in their context.

I look at where I was 10 years ago - that's really far back but, at the same time, not - and look at where I am now, and I notice two things in particular: how quickly those 10 years have passed and how much nothing learnt back then really applies to what I'm learning now. Hell, nothing that I learnt in Sixth Form even applies to what I'm doing now. So has my education, till University level, just been a waste of time, although it's often stated that whatever is learnt never goes to waste?

To reach University, we've all had to earn our stripes, but in a course such as law, with the (lack of) entry requirements being a haven for countless people and countless idiots to enter the course accordingly (especially if such people did not attain sufficient grades to get into medicine and did not want to resit their exams, and hence opted for law as their 'drop-out' option), haven't our stripes been earned for pretty much nothing? So what if I have a certificate stating that I got a 'C' in English and French that enabled me to commence my tertiary education... what use does that have now? At least, for those people studying Biology A Level, their knowledge will be built upon at University when doing a course such as Medicine, Pharmacy or BSc Biology and Chemistry.

Something like this, in my opinion, really defies logic. Education is meant to be a building up process in one's life; and till Sixth Form, it indeed was. But the discrepancy between post-secondary education and education at tertiary level is enormous, and has (perhaps justifiably) led me to think that prior to reaching law school, I just wasted 18 years of my life beating around the bush and satisfying the authorities to get there. Certain things have to be learnt, naturally, as otherwise we would all be unknowledgeable at the very most, but I find myself much more likely doing certain basic additions now than using Pythagoras' Theorem anytime soon; and much more likely trying to converse in Maltese as opposed to learning the latest poems as written by Ruzar Briffa or Dun Karm Psaila. Or, god forbid, Mario Azzopardi - the morbid creature.

God Bless You all!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

It is Done

Incredible, just incredible. Words could not describe the sensations felt at the final whistle, or even when Inter scored the goals that secured the Champions League for the third time in its history.

It just goes to prove that Italian football is anything BUT dead and buried.  It just goes to prove that Inter have managed to get the European monkey off their back and bury 45 years of hurt right in the sand.  It goes to prove that when you're hungry for success, goals can be achieved if you're willing to sacrifice yourselves for the greater good.

This cannot be proven more than by the way Inter's talismanic captain Javier Zanetti has played throughout the years.  Be it at right-back, left-back or in midfield, the 37-year-old Argentine has defied the years and often played as if he's 10 years his junior.  He is a true embodiment of there not being an 'I' in 'team', and putting the notion of the collective good ahead of individual honours.

This is however a team that, strictly speaking, is composed of a bunch of rejects.  Samuel Eto'o left Barcelona an unwanted figure, despite being hugely popular with the fans.  Wesley Sneijder was forced out of Real Madrid.  Esteban Cambiasso was discarded as someone talentless some six years ago.  Tonight's goalscorer, Milito, hadn't played for a top European club until this year.  Goran Pandev left Lazio amid much legal wrangling.  Lucio was thrown out by Bayern Munich for turning up late to training.  Walter Samuel is another Real Madrid reject.  And the list goes on.  Tonight, this team of rejects played to prove to the world that it could achieve the greatest prize in club football, and prove it... it sure did.

Jose Mourinho has managed to achieve something that no other manager has achieved in Inter's history.  He has managed to win the League, the national cup and Champions League in one season.  He has won the treble.

He's almost certain to leave, but unlike his departure from Chelsea, this time he leaves on his own terms.  He leaves the club a winner and not a discarded figure (too), he leaves the club having managed to win it all within the space of two years.  Granted, there is the matter of the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup as well, but those trophies aren't important to him.  What is important are those records that look destined to be broken sometime in the future.  But again, unlike how he left Chelsea, this time Mourinho leaves with a star placed firmly above his head.

Good luck at Real Madrid Jose, your biggest challenge yet.  Us interisti will miss you, but you'll remain in our hearts forever.

FC Internazionale Milano: 2009-2010 UEFA Champions League winning squad: 1. Francesco Toldo; 2. Ivan Ramiro Cordoba; 4. Javier Zanetti (C); 5. Dejan Stankovic; 6. Lucimar Ferreira da Silva; 7. Ricardo Quaresma; 8. Thiago Motta; 9. Samuel Eto'o; 10. Wesley Sneijder; 11. Sulley Ali Muntari; 12. Julio Cesar Soares de Espindola; 13. Maicon Douglas Sisenando; 15. Rene Krhin; 17. MacDonald Mariga; 19. Esteban Cambiasso; 21. Paolo Orlandoni; 22. Diego Milito; 23. Marco Materazzi; 27. Goran Pandev; 39. Davide Santon; 45. Mario Balotelli; 89. Marko Arnatauovic; Coach: Jose Mourinho

God Bless You all!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Parliamentary Games

*Sorry for the length... I got carried away!*

Break time! Not that I really busted my chops this morning, but anyway...

In the last few days, as the Brits were debating and negotiating over how their hung Parliament should eventually convene, with 'Tories leader David Cameron and Lib-Dems Leader Nick Clegg eventually agreeing to a coalition which will almost certainly collapse in the future (it would seriously be a miracle if Cameron manages to last his entire mandate, what with the instability that coalitions bring about); the Maltese parliamentarians decided that it was time for some fun and games and subsequently made a mockery out of the highest institution of the land, i.e. Parliament.

Yes, you read me correctly, they indeed made a mockery out of it. And believe me, the purpose of this blog is not to defend the Nationalists, but what Labour has been doing is completely out of order, and is unbecoming on so many levels. They're the prime cause for this fracas that Maltese politics is currently facing, and they seem to think that by acting in such a manner, they're going to turn more people against the current administration and further endear themselves to the public. In my opinion, if that's their strategy, then they're completely off the mark.

For those who aren't quite up to speed with the local political scenario, I'll write down a quick gap-filler here. Basically, to cut an extremely long story short, when the Nationalists were re-elected in 2008, they were admitted to Parliament with a majority of votes nationwide, but a minority of seats obtained in all the electoral districts (31-34; the same thing effectively happened when Labour claimed victory in 1981, but that time, it was the majority of seats gathered that won the election as opposed to the majority of votes obtained). In order for the PN to govern by virtue of the majority of votes they had, they were 'granted' four extra seats in Parliament, to which four originally unelected members were co-opted. Therefore, as we speak, the PN has a wafer-thin one seat majority in Parliament, something that obviously creates problems in general, especially if one of the government parliamentarians is sick or abroad and hence cannot attend a sitting.

The whole fracas vis-a-vis Parliamentary affairs started a week ago today, when both the Government and the Opposition were voting on a motion as put forward by the Opposition regarding the extension of the power station at Delimara. Nationalist MP Mario Galea mistakenly voted in favour of the Opposition motion, before hastily retracting his vote in order to support the Government. The result? The usual mud-slinging by Labour - if someone voted 'yes', then the vote should not have been retracted and Labour's motion would have therefore passed, etc. In brief, Labour claimed that they won the vote with regards their motion, when in reality, the mistake that occurred was retracted and Galea voted in favour of Government rejecting the motion. Over and above that, there was another fracas involving Justyne Caruana's vote, as certain Government MPs claimed that she voted in favour of the Government. In any event, without going into too much useless detail, Labour stormed out of Parliament and claimed that the PN were, as usual, being undemocratic in their ways and means and that this was essentially a weak, unstable and failed government. Yeah, pull the other one Joseph, before you go crying on Super One again - we've heard the same repetitive moaning and groaning ten thousand times.

Fast forward to yesterday's debate, which regarded a MEPA Reform Bill amendment, for which Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando was absent due to business outside our shores. From independent reports being stipulated, Labour seemed to initially have a gentlemen's agreement with the PN vis-a-vis voting on this matter, primarily due to Pullicino Orlando's absence. However, pulling the other one, Labour thought that this too would be a good opportunity to, using the Maltese expression, try as hard as possible 'biex jaqa' l-Gvern', and therefore went against their prior agreement and insisted on a vote on the matter, knowing fully well that the PN was missing one of its MPs. Of course, with the result tied, the Speaker had to intervene and use his casting vote as done in accordance with Parliamentary procedure, for which he voted in favour of the Government so that the institution would not descend into (further) chaos. Cue Joseph Muscat, yet again, speaking the same old drab and useless stuff that we have now heard for the ten thousand and first time.

It's clear from both scenarios that the institution of Parliament has been made a mockery out of, and that Labour's main aim is just to criticise the government as much as possible without backing up such criticism with viable alternatives. I know that this has also been repeated countless times, but they've had the best part of 23 years to come up with something, and yet they've still failed to do so. It's incredible, incredulous and speaks volumes, unfortunately, about the Opposition's sheer incompetence when compared to the current Government. Granted, the PN may not be perfect (far from!), but they must be doing something right if they've been in power this long... or else the lack of competition has just been so immense that the people feel that there's been no other alternative to them. And who can blame them - this is the 'movement' (to use their progressive and liberal terminology) that appointed a blinker-eyed journalist as their 'Mexxej' as opposed to a successful lawyer with prior experience in politics, a genuine person who could have been of great use towards a better Parliament and a viable alternative come 2013.

Having said that, perhaps it's time for some kind of change in Parliament. Per se, the current electoral system does allow third parties to be elected to Parliament, obviously provided that a prospective candidate has enough votes. Therefore, it is not impossible to envisage a scenario where, if Daphne Caruana Galizia, for instance, opted to run for Parliament as an independent candidate, she would get elected. Therefore, if the proportional representation system isn't at fault, then what is? Perhaps unrealistically, I think the solution lies within the dynamics of the aforementioned system, which would require a tweak or two. The Constitution reads:

52.(1) Such members shall be elected in the manner provided by or under any law for the time being in force in Malta in equal proportions from the electoral divisions referred to in article 56 of this Constitution, each division returning such number of members, being not less than five and not more than seven as Parliament shall from time to time by law determine...

56.(1) The members of the House of Representatives shall be elected upon the principle of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote from such number of electoral divisions, being an odd number and not less than nine and not more than fifteen, as Parliament shall from time to time determine.

Therefore, one can have between five to seven MPs being elected from nine, eleven, thirteen (the current amount) or fifteen electoral districts. Hence, theoretically, if one had to have the maximum amount of MPs elected in the maximum amount of districts, then it is possible that Parliament would end up consisting of 105 members. If Parliament had to make such an adjustment where there would be more members than the current amount, then the probability is that such situations would not continue to occur, and that as a result, there would be the more 'stable' Parliament that Muscat has been rooting for since the day he assumed a seat in Parliament. It would also decrease the possibility of the government having a simple one seat majority (although that would have been doubtful in this legislature, based on the results of the last election) and help many citizens' concerns be heard more effectively. On the downside, however, it would also be more than possible where one would end up with a coalition scenario, as seen in Britain, with the third party elected assuming the role of 'kingmaker'.

To conclude, many people have seemed to be unimpressed by the 'strategy' that Muscat and his cohorts have recently embarked on, and I'm one of them. It's instances like these which keep on confirming for me that no matter how many 'earthquakes' that Muscat has promised will come our way, it's still inevitable that none of my foundations will be shaken to the core, due to their hollowness. I believe that it's inevitable that in the current scenario, I'll just continue having to vote Nationalist - especially so that Labour are not elected to govern this country; and subsequently govern in a manner which will only run us to the ground.

God Bless You all!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Master of Procrastination

At the time I started writing this, my computer clock read 21:09. I'm on page 28 out of 33 of the notes on Company Law that I have to study and won't, in all probability, finish them tonight. The reason? I, like the majority of my peers at this moment in time, are the masters of time wasting and procrastination.

And the worrying thing is that I'm even willing to blog tonight and there's like... er... I think 25 days left until my first exam; and 27 days left until the exam that I'm currently studying for is also done and dusted. I should really get a move on, but there's no desire - at least at the moment, and, in all fairness, probably until the end of the evening too - to do so.

This is just horrible and it's starting to play on my head. Whenever I meet up with friends, all that's coming to the fore, at the moment, is how far we've got in our studies. Apart from people starting to sweat, naturally; myself included. It's getting hot, it both a literal and metaphorical (I actually lost my train of thought here, and was going to initially write 'not-so-literal' instead) sense. We got that update yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that too. And I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but we're going to get it tomorrow too. At least the day after that is Saturday, so that's two days of not hearing a comparative analysis of studying. Or is it? The curiosity is practically too much to handle, and invariably, a problem will arise for one of us (knowing my luck, it'll be me obviously) and we'll be back to square one when we phone up each other to get to the root of the above-mentioned problem!

This afternoon, our disdain towards the horror topic took a new twist though, one that I suppose would want to make you cringe. The question that arose was which of the case studies that we have already done strikes us as our favourite and why. It just took my depression levels to a whole new (low) level, but invariably, simultaneously, I can't help but laugh about it. Our heads are so programmed in this manner at the moment that we are actually trying to find alternate ways of humoring ourselves vis-a-vis the work we have done. For good measure, after a little bit of thought, I opted to go for a case that involved some Arab dude purchasing a piece of furniture that was advertised as being made of oak when it wasn't. He only realised this was the case when he had taken it home. What was the furniture made of, might you ask? Chipwood. Yes, some fool couldn't recognise the difference between oak and chipwood. The best thing about this all is that his action for damages was not upheld by the court, and he was asked to pay the defendant company the remainder of the balance on the piece purchased.

And then they say Americans are stupid. Which they are, just for the record. Some answers they provided in a questionnaire asking the most basic of question produced the following results:

- A triangle has four sides;
- The currency of the United Kingdom is the 'Queen Elizabeth money';
- Iran is an island that is in the perceived South-Eastern part of the globe, i.e. it's a nation that is actually on a continent called Australia;
- There are ten Eiffel Towers in Paris;
- The non-knowledge of the name of a country beginning with the letter 'U'.

I wanted to cry, but instead, I just found myself laughing. And laughing. And laughing. It's when you actually do laugh at such stupidities that you realise that exam stress, perhaps, has finally taken over.

It is now 21:28. 19 minutes wasted on blogging, not bad. Time to get back to the black and white sheets that I don't really feel like seeing.

God Bless You all!

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Month of Desperation

Incredibly so, we're already moving into the final stretch. Time has flown by so quickly and third year, in my case, is practically over!

It was around this time last year that I remember blog frequency increasing to the extent that sometimes, people were posting a blog a day so as to alleviate themselves from the boredom that studying emitted. I somewhat see the same thing happening sometime soon - indeed, it always seems to be that when May comes about, and us students' desperation increases day after day, so too do the amount of writings increase.

The horrible thing about this all is that this year especially, I really shouldn't have the time to stay writing away, yet I come back and time after time I stay rambling on about different things. It's like an addiction or something... at least though it's not one that's detrimental to my health! It's something worse than that... it's detrimental to my time!

So onto the month of May we go, that wretched month of desperation, where among the features I seem to expect Lanf's blog/vlog to resurrect, Matt to remain silent in an attempt to read as much information as that brain of his can absorb, Bettina to post more music, Krissie to not blog - as she tries to get out of touch with the world of technology* and Zoe to keep on worrying a bit too much about A Levels!

May. You've just got to love it. For its procrastination and desperation, and for its ability to post some utterly ridiculous things on Facebook (such as the group I created yesterday afternoon against those promoters placed at University, and the Law Restaurant menu this time last year).

God Bless You all!

*Thank God you don't use Windows 7 then (see Facebook group for further details).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We. Did. It.

38 years of hurt. 38 years of continental underachievement. They're OVER.

We suffered, we played with 10 men for over an hour, but WE DID IT. WE BEAT BARCELONA and WE'RE GOING TO MADRID!!!

In-bloody-credible... words cannot describe this moment!!

VAI NERAZZURRI!! So proud to be an Inter supporter today... Jose Mourinho, you are a GENIUS!!

God Bless You all,

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Expert Analysis of... Live Commentary

I'm currently watching Bayern Munich vs. Lyon, this evening's feature semi-final from the UEFA Champions League, which also features the most horrendous commentary I have ever experienced. Hereunder I am going to underline the most ridiculous things that the commentator is saying, or has said, over the course of the 90 minutes of play...

(Please note that I switched on the TV after 10 minutes of play)

11 minutes: The commentator, working for Melita Sports, has a Scottish accent. I didn't know Melita had it's own version of Andy Gray - you know, the Scottish chap who commentates on FIFA '10.

13 minutes: He mentions that Hugo Lloris is France's number one goalkeeper. Fair enough.

15 minutes: Corner to Bayern Munich. Ribery (his name pronounced wrongly) whips the ball in and Lloris pushes it over for a corner again. Cue the commentator, "that's why he's France's number one goalkeeper". It was a routine save.

16 minutes: Commentator mentions how Bayern goalkeeper Butt, who has played 10 matches in this competition, has conceded just one goal and has a great defence in front of him. So where did the four goals conceded against Fiorentina and Manchester United go? Towards Mars?

17 minutes: Of course, Lloris needs another mention. He's miraculously conceded... wait for it... NO GOALS in this year's Champions League!! That's why he's France's number one, yet again. Anyway, yes, Lyon's defensive record is the best in the competition, but again... what about the goals conceded against Bordeaux? These went to Venus instead?

19 minutes: Bayern have a header that "hits the post!" Indeed, it was a country mile wide. Nice try.

21 minutes: Ivica Olic, scorer of Bayern's first goal at Old Trafford, is clear on goal. Commentator is saying that it's a definite goal... and the ball is skied over the bar.

24 minutes: Of course, commentating wouldn't be complete without mentioning the 800km journey that Lyon had to endure to get to Munich... by coach. But the commentator believes they're not tired as they had a whole day to adjust to life in Germany! Oh well...

27 minutes: Lyon are walking a tightrope and will have a thin-looking squad for the second leg, he says. Of course, they need loads of bookings for that to happen.

30 minutes: The commentator reminds us that the score is 0-0 and we're watching the game on Melita Sports. Kudos to you.

32 minutes: The commentator likes Robben and Ribery as players. They're "like little ferrets... you can't get rid of them."

33 minutes: Lyon are seven times French champions, so they're no slouches when playing football. No duh, that's why they have some of the better players in the world.

36 minutes: Ribery red card. Commentator is amazed and he doesn't know what it's for. Er, if your studs are up, it is a striaght red. Sorry mate. Obviously, Lisandro is injured, vindicating the referee's decision. Finally, Bayern have something that's gone against them in this competition! By the way, we just got rid of Ribery... we got rid of one of those damned ferrets!

38 minutes: Mr. Brains of the Year decides to give the fact that no team has managed to defend the Champions League in its current format, and that Barcelona are the current champions. Well done for stating the obvious... but wait...

40 minutes: Bayern Munich are now defending champions. The guy must have had something to drink before heading to the booth tonight.

43 minutes: The definition of 'shot on target' is given: "that was going into the back of the net". Butt makes a good save from a fierce Lyon shot that was going into the top left corner of his net.

44 minutes: The first half has just whizzed by. Of course it has, I'm enjoying taking the piss out of this guy's commentary so much that 45 minutes seem like 10 minutes ago. By the way, Ribery, sent off, was also playing for Lyon in this minute.

Half Time: Score is still 0-0. Live from the "Munich Stadium". And of course, live on Melita Sports. I think it's obligatory to mention that this is the channel showing the match around once every ten minutes, even though the ordinary reasonable man should know what TV channel he's watching at a moment in time!

2nd Half: Bayern substitution - Tymoshchuk is on to add some strength in midfield. His name is mispronounced, but you can't fault the commentator here. It's difficult to get right. Anyway, we're back on Melita Sports, just for good measure.

47 minutes: Reveillere's surname is also pronounced wrongly. Now that one is just unforgivable... it's not difficult at all.

49 minutes: "Lyon: they've already knocked out Liverpool... can they do it against Bayern Munich tonight?" Erm... Liverpool were not knocked out by Lyon, but lost out in the group stages of the competition; and what about Real Madrid and Bordeaux (yet again?) And something tells me that Bayern can only be knocked out, as such, in next week's return leg. Definitely not tonight.

52 minutes: He could have practically sworn that Muller was going to score. Commentator argues that the player has tied his shoelaces up wrongly!

53 minutes: Jeremy Toulalan is sent off for Lyon - it's now 10 men vs. 10. The commentator says that Claude Puel, Lyon's manager, will be livid. You got that one right mate - Lyon probably just blew their (remote) chances of winning this match.

55 minutes: Jean II Makoun is only "25/26 from Cameroon". That's the commentator's admission that the age of African players can be debated.

56 minutes: Now we're speaking about tattoos. They're in fashion with the players. You find them on the players' necks, arms, legs, backs... and anything else. Oh please.

60 minutes: The Allianz Arena is now referred to as the "Football Arena Stadium". Does the guy have any idea of what this sport is about?

64 minutes: Bayern Munich are apparently playing the first leg of the "UEFA Cup, Champions League even". Which competition are we seeing now... all together please? Also, Bayern will have a "busy month in May" if they get through to the final of this competition. Oh, Einstein himself couldn't have put it better.

68 minutes: The term "commentator's curse" is coming to the fore, but this commentator doesn't believe that he'll brings this about. For once, he's right - Bayern Munich have just taken the lead from out of nothing! As usual, it's Robben with his trusty left boot. A tremendous strike from around 30 metres out!

71 minutes: As Bayern lead 1-0, "European football on Melita Sports - it doesn't get much better, does it?" Erm, if you hadn't lost the majority of your rights to GO and I wouldn't have to spend around €250 out of my own cash to see Inter and English teams play next year, then maybe I wouldn't dispute this argument.

75 minutes: Bayern are "smelling blood" as they look for the second goal. Wouldn't the term "looking menacing" or "attacking with purpose" be more appropriate?

79 minutes: Referee Roberto Rosetti won't be getting too many Christmas cards from Bayern Munich and Lyon, says Einstein. I say he's right, unless they're red of course. Having said that, do you think these supporters will remember Rosetti's performance in 8 months?

80 minutes: Once again, the commentator reminds us we're on Melita Sports. He also reminds us that both teams are playing with 10 men each... because each one got a player sent off. This for the benefit of those "just joining us". Who on earth would put a match on when it's 80 minutes old?

91 minutes: Incredibly, nothing overly stupid has been said in the last 10 minutes. While the commentator... oh wait! He's outdone himself!! This year's final of the Champions League is to be held in Hamburg (so they've moved it from Madrid today?) and Bayern are looking to become the first team to retain the Champions League!! I really suggest he does a bit of research on Wikipedia before commentating on the return leg next Tuesday. Seriously.

Full Time: It ends Bayern Munich 1-0 Lyon. Thank you for joining us on Melita Sports.

The commentator who has been appallingly poor, by the way, is Bernard Lynch. Ok, so he might be Scottish. But he's crap, that's for sure!

God Bless You all!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Blog Straight From the Classroom

Following last night's (shock) panic attack - see Facebook for weird typing pattern details - I now find myself in a classroom enduring the week's most boring lecture. Of course, it's none other than Economics. Wahey.

Typing something in here once every 7-10 minutes is not the ideal way to accumulate information in a blog, but I believe that it's the only thing I can do right now!

The classroom that I'm currently in is rather small and the lecturer is pacing not-so-frantically up and down the middle of the classroom; an empty, barren space. He's speaking about the concept of infant industries, and quite frankly, I don't really care about it. I'm writing down his notes, which are badly projected onto the whiteboard 5 metres away, and trying to concentrate - but I've realised that concentration, here, is nigh on impossible. To be honest, I also don't really care if he realises that I'm typing a blog. Well, obviously he isn't (duh) because as long as I'm typing, it's as if I'm paying attention to his relatively useless blah.

*5 minute break - which will almost certainly turn into 15 as people constantly walk in late from his break. I believe he doesn't have too much control over this class, even though, for the most part, people are remaining silent in his lecture. Only a slight murmur is being heard at the back and the lecturer isn't even paying attention to it*...

And we're back.

I don't see why this subject was made compulsory for us, but in any event, it's there, and it's something that has to be studied and hopefully not failed! It's unfortunate that certain subjects are made compulsory especially when it is common belief that as a future lawyer, unless one is going into banking law, such a knowledge of economics is not needed. Oh well, I guess that's a bit of a downfall with the education system in general - in trying to achieve something, some form of an holistic education must be attained. Another example that springs to mind is the study of Shakespeare while sitting for an English A Level, and, conversely, studying Maltese poetry. It's not like I use these nowadays, or will ever use them, but they're there to instill some form of culture into us as well as just continue to burden our plate with more useless things.

Anyway, lecture over. What a senseless post!

Oh wait, he's giving us 'a bad news'. Didn't apply to us. Ok!

God Bless You all!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cheesecakes for Sale! Going for Free!

I have just finished the best part of an hour and a half's work at one stretch, which, in normal terms, would be great - especially by my rather hopeless working standards where even the mere sight of my (non-working, dead battery) clock, which looks like a brake disc from a Formula 1 car, would generally distract me.

The only thing is that this last hour and a half has, when you look at it in personal terms, been wasted. This statement, on the facet of things, is rather contradictory especially considering what I have just said in the paragraph above. But I know for a fact that I have not lost my mind and that I still am indeed sane, despite the work constantly piling up at now alarming levels (don't we nonetheless always get through this all in the end?).

The fact of the matter is that for this last hour and a half, I have been organising many series of notes for others to enjoy and study from in the forthcoming exams. To use the Maltese expression, I feel like "qed nbigh turtiera pastizzi". Of course, there is a wee bit of a personal gain here as well as this organisation of notes and insertion of missing lecture notes into their proper places has obviously put me on track to just study everything in an apparent plain-sailing fashion, but I don't think much from that which I read has really entered my head at the moment, which is a tad worrying!

But I don't mind doing this. I'm not saying I enjoy it, but I don't mind it; and I don't mind it simply because I'm a Christian and because I'm being there for other people by doing this. It's not easy for me to give out my notes practically all the time, but who said being a Christian is easy? I do this because even though I try not to believe it, I do know deep down that it is a way of bringing out the Christian in me at the end of the day. I don't grumble when giving out these notes, and I never will - and indeed, this is not a grumble, but just a statement. Being a Christian, I don't expect anything in return for what I'm doing.

At least my life is serving a useful purpose, apart from stirring up debates, now that being a 'taxi driver' no longer really happens any longer.

God Bless You all,

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Some More Poetry

So last night, slightly ironically during a worship session and during a talk, I felt inspired and decided to write a couple of poems... and I thought I'd share them here. 

One World

How we take things...
All things, for granted.

We're here, sitting, living;
While there are others out there
Who struggle to put a roof above their heads.

We can sing hymns of praise freely to You
Without being persecuted.
Yet there are others out there who can't even
Pray to You out of fear of condemnation...
And being bruised, beaten and battered.

It's hypocritical that we live in a world
Overall praised for its liberal values, and freedom;
While there are those out there
Whose such values are not even respected.

Yet, Lord, I know and believe that You -
You, Lord - will call us one day to be part
Of Your world, Your one world.
You will not leave one soul behind,
Not one soul who has prayed, asked for forgiveness,
Or worshipped You,
Will be forgotten by You.
We will all be part of Your Paradise.

Till then, however, we're stuck here,
In this, our one world,
Shrouded in anything but the harmony that You possess.

And we'll continue taking all things for granted.
Yes, we will.


Who Cares?

When you sit there, alone, desolate, hopeless -
The first thing that might come to mind is
Who cares?

You don't want to be a burden to society,
To your friends, to your parents, to everyone.
So yeah, you say and say again
Who cares?

When there's nothing to cling onto
And you believe there's no hope left,
Time and time again, you say
Who cares?

But lest do you know that there is someone
Right out there
Who does indeed care.

He's not a phone call away, nor a flight to
The next country away,
But He's there, right beside you,
Here, there, everywhere, tomorrow and today.

So before you say and ask who cares again,
Take the time to realise
That Jesus cares.

He will pick you up from the bottom of bottoms,
The pits of pits,
And restore you, just because He cares.

His unconditional love for us - Yes,
Jesus cares.

God Bless You all!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Malta: The Nation of Second Class Citizens

It had to take the Pope to come to Malta for us to resemble something like an EU member state.

It just had to take the Pope. Oh, and CHOGM, back in 2005.

The recent roadworks and embellishment to the island that has been going on has been welcomed, I would hope, by the majority of citizens, but nonetheless, at the same time, condemned and criticised. Why? Because this has confirmed that when it comes to having a commodity such as drivable roads, we need a major dignitary to set foot on the island - even if it is just for 36 hours, such as in His Holiness' case - for the situation to improve tenfold.

Simultaneously, the Government has argued that the majority - if not all - of the roadworks were scheduled to take place later on in the year, irrespective of whether the Pope was coming to Malta or not. Whether this is true or not, that's all the Government can indeed do to really save face at the moment. While such upgrades have been welcomed, the underlying tone seems to be as if the country can continue to procrastinate and live in mediocrity (with regards to this sector) until some fine day comes along whereby a certain road is targetted for repairs. In other words, us Maltese, who use these roads daily, are second class citizens.

It's not like local dignitaries have tried to even hide this fact too, with one comment being that "Malta needs to look its best" for occasions such as these. Unfortunately, I know that this is making me sound like some ignorant Labourite (stuck in the Mintoffian and KMB eras) commenting on the Times of Malta's website, but this is nothing other than the truth. Would I, as a driver, be able to drive along Naxxar Road, San Gwann, or the road up to Rabat for that matter, without feeling my car jolting along the way if Benedict XVI was not coming next week, right up until the end of the year? I sincerely doubt this is the case.

Oh well, amid the lack of excitement surrounding the Pope's visit, at least we've managed to garner this one positive thing out of it.

God Bless You all!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Time to Shut Down?

Well, I noticed that I've been losing out to Daphne Caruana Galizia of late with regards my blog, which seem to be getting less and less feedback as time goes by. Particularly disappointing was my last blog regarding the electoral system at University, which I actually thought would stir a debate because of two schools of thought attacking and defending the system accordingly. But alas, just as student apathy came to the forefront in the recent KSU elections, it once again came about in this situation. No one really does care.

Time to shut down the blog for good? I'll think about it, but it's a distinct possibility when you know that readership is almost certainly at an all-time low.

Or maybe my penchant for writing is finally gone.

God Bless You all,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why the PR system wouldn't work at the UoM

First things first, before I commence my arguments, I need to set a few things straight. While writing this blog, I am by no means representing SDM or any other organisation on Campus, but am writing in my own personal capacity. Secondly, this is what I am led to believe based on a period of study and a certain application of sense, and my text has therefore in no way been influenced by anyone in particular. Thirdly, I believe that all this bickering for a different electoral system - and subsequent counter-arguments in favour of the current system - are childish and unbecoming of students at tertiary level. However, that argument could be left for another time, if needed. Anyway, anyone who does not understand and grasp these points before reading is suggested to close this window/tab at this very point.

And now, onto the substance of my argument. In my honest opinion, it doesn't take much of a genius to figure out why the Proportional Representation (PR) system that PULSE proposed to introduce vis-a-vis the KSU elections will not work - only a basic knowledge of Constitutional Law is needed. Thereagain, this automatically makes me wonder if the organisation proposing the system even has law students in it and, if it does, whether the most supreme law of the land is an alien concept to them. Just like it is to Charlon Gouder, of course.

In law, the basis of the PR system is that one has a certain amount of candidates contesting an election with the aim of being elected to Parliament. Such candidates are elected according to preferences (in the form of numbers) given out by the electorate. This generally occurs via districts that are divided accordingly by the electoral commission of the day. Therefore, automatically, one already can see that the system, if it were to be applied to KSU elections, would be massively flawed. These elections are contested on an individual basis - granted, the majority of the time when the places are contested, they all end up by going to one party in particular - but the fact of the matter is that the parties present one candidate per post within KSU, whereby it is then up to the electorate to decide whether that candidate is suitable for election. This therefore means that one can have even four or five parties contesting the post of, for example, President.

Introducing the PR system would present immense logistical problems to all concerned. First and foremost, the parties would not be able to announce whether a person in particular would be given a particular role within KSU. It would be fine to determine that the person who gets the most votes becomes KSU President, and the second most votes Vice-President; but how the other roles within KSU would be filled remains a mystery. How would the election of, for example, a financial officer take place - would the person with the fifth highest amount of votes be elected, or something along those lines? And if that were the case, and the fifth person (for instance) elected were a medicine student, then how would he/she be competent enough to be in line for something like the financial officer of KSU, where a knowledge of accounts is needed - as implied by the job title. Going into an election, there would be no certainty and peace of mind vis-a-vis who would be assuming which role when elected. Or would it be the case that the first two positions would be contested via PR, while the rest of the positions would be determined by means of the current First Past the Post (FPTP) system?

As mentioned above, implementing a system whereby PR would be used as a mode of election doesn't make sense in the KSU context. When electing representatives to Parliament once every five years, one does not vote for a person on the basis that he or she will become a minister, if elected. Representatives in Parliament are elected on the basis that the electorate believes that they can do the best job possible for the country, but not on the basis of having a specific role. The KSU system presents candidates to be elected on the basis of a specific role, which is the main reason why the FPTP system has to be maintained. It ensures that if a person is best suited to his or her role within KSU, and the electorate think that that is the case, then that person will assume 'office'. From my studies, I can safely conclude that FPTP does not ensure, in any way, that bloc votes occur - such bloc votes only happen because the electorate happens to be sympathetic to a particular party or thinks that people presented by a party in particular are best suited for the post. By the same logic, when it comes to general elections, the majority of people vote either completely in favour of the PN or the PL; it is only a small percentage of votes that will be mixed.

Therefore, to conclude, I really think that there should be no debate - no matter how childish - on such a matter. If PULSE feel that the system at hand is anti-democratic because their members never get elected into KSU, then I believe that they should be looking at fielding better candidates for the KSU elections; candidates that can sway the University population to vote for them and make them a part of KSU. Until then, whining away will not do anything to improve their chances. Having said that, despite the fact that they're an independent organisation, it really does remind me strongly of a particular party and a particular individual in the local political scene. The only difference? At least PULSE actually had the decency to propose something, even though it is clearly flawed. That's much more than the above-mentioned party and individual can muster.

God Bless You all!