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!