Melahart is now on Bloglovin

Follow my blog with Bloglovin – about time right? I’ve finally awoken from my slumber and got around to setting up my profile on the amazing Bloglovin.

With the impending doom known as the discontinuation of Google Reader, Bloglovin is a great alternative to follow the blogs you love and also find new ones. When you sign up, you also have the option to import all your Google Reader RSS feeds. The process is painless and is done in a minute or two. Whilst there are other alternatives to Google Reader, such as Digg Reader, I suggest you give Bloglovin a try, you really won’t regret it.

So now I can calmly reclaim my status as Social Media Harlot. You can find melahart on most social media networks and here goes the full list;

Facebook
Twitter
Google+

Pinterest
Tumblr
Instagram

and of course…

bloglovin

Blogging exists; deal with it.

This morning I woke up early to go for a walk and then rewarded myself with some Serkin Pastizzi. While waiting, I had a quick read at the back page of The Times and I was amused by the derivative article written by Louis Cilia titled “Let’s have a civilised debate, please.

The article started out with the usual overview of campaigns past and then quickly shifted to campaigns present. In the middle of that it turned into a complete rant against bloggers. Yes BLOGGERS!

“Many bloggers enter into the personal lives of ordinary people as well as prominent, and not so prominent, personalities, often with the direct intention of destroying their credibility (and in consequence even of those associated with them, particularly their families). Some bloggers even degenerate into hate blogs. Political parties, more often than not, have turned a blind eye on these bloggers with the excuse that they have no control or jurisdiction over them.”

As a blogger I find this incredibly offensive. Sweeping statements like the above hurt those of us who want to share their opinion about the happenings of the political scene. Familiar with that thing called freedom of expression?

It is obvious Mr Cilia is referring to Daphne Caruana Galizia – there I said it (what a shocker). Why did DCG suddenly turn into a ‘she who will not be named’ character.

Mr Cilia mentions blogs like they are some kind of 21st century plague. Some of them might well be but don’t put all blogs under the ‘rotten’ category.

This generalised understanding of anything and everything is what’s really hurting us as a nation. Instead of having the balls to stand up and name and shame someone, we postulate so we don’t step on any toes. Instead of addressing a problem from its roots we just skim the surface and continue theorising. Instead of debating we just resort to sweeping assumptions. These are the things that groom this fear for debate, this apprehension towards asking questions.

It’s not the blogs Mr Cilia, it’s people like you, who are happy to vaguely point fingers but then fall short of making any form of worthwhile statement, that hurt the debate.

Sweeping statements courtesy of Louis Cilia

Confession – I am a fat liberal pig

After reading about Adrian Vassallo’s comments about liberals I changed my profile picture to that of my idol; Miss Piggy.

image via socialitelife.com

I have been a liberal as long as I can remember. I am grateful to my mum and dad for not imposing their beliefs on me and instead thought me to question everything and make up my own mind about things. This has led me to be pro-divorce, pro-euthanasia, pro-choice, pro same sex marriage and pro same sex couples having kids. Having this set of beliefs does not mean that “anything goes” for me, as Adrian Vassallo seems to think. From the way he was speaking yesterday in Parliament, he probably has this vision of liberals congregating in a field in the middle of the night to take part in orgies while worshiping the god of indulgence.

(If, by any chance you are curious about what exactly Adrian Vassallo said last night in Parliament, fret not, click on this link then click on Audio File: Download and skip to 2:10:30 to hear it from the horse’s, sorry I meant dinosaur’s, mouth)

Going back to the subject at hand, it was great seeing fellow liberals on that beautiful thing called Facebook changing there profile pictures too. So there I was, ecstatic about being called a pig and seeing how the Adrian Vassallo faux pas was going to unfold; was the Labour Party going to issue an apology because one of their MPs called a whole strata of possible voters pigs? Was Adrian Vassallo going to put things into context? Was the Leader of the Opposition going to reprimand him for alienating a few liberals?

Promptly I receive the following message;

Josephine Borg · 18 mutual friends
@ Mel Hart – perhaps you are trying to make fun of adrian vassallo with that photo….. However I would like to suggest that you take a look at the mirror? – don’t you think that pig is sort of more like you (literally and kgs-wise) rather than adrian Vassallo? – funny how the saying “what goes around comes around” makes so much sense now doesn’t it?

Oh well, seems like both Josephine Borg and Adrian Vassallo like a spot of name calling. First Adrian Vassallo calling liberals pigs, and now Josephine is calling me fat – so I guess there’s no point in hiding anymore. I’m a fat liberal pig… and proud of it!

Just in case you would like to see how things unfolded, here’s a print screen. Josephine Borg also seems to have defriended me. Harrumph.

How things unfolded with Josephine Borg

Blog Mitosis

The more I updated my blog the more I thought about it being separated between the personal tales and the local commentary.

Two things happened in the past two days; one extremely amazing which I am very grateful for and one which has left me feeling a little scared.

I start with the good. My blog was listed as one of the top local political blogs in an article on The Sunday Circle Online. I am honored that I was recognized for something which I feel is still in amateur stages, but it has given me the strength to continue on this venture, and to try to better myself and my writing. This particular article explains how my blog is not just political but also personal, and that is when I understood that for me to continue on this adventure I had to split the two.

The second one is unfortunately the wave of attacks that I am currently receiving on the Franco Debono blog. You can check them out yourself on this blogpost. Click on the link, hit control+F and type ‘melahart’.

I understand that by expressing my opinion on a public forum I am opening myself up to criticism, and I am ready to take it, but not when this stoops down to personal attacks. Contrary to what is being written I am not part of “tal-qalba” (the core). I am simply someone who comments on what is happening in the local politics scene as that is what interests me. I also understand that politics can get ugly, but I don’t expect that such banter can be found (please note Franco Debono has to approve the messages) on a Member of Parliament’s blog, no matter what my affiliation is, and please note that just because sometimes I am critical of the Opposition, that doesn’t give anyone the right to colour me any shade of blue.

So there goes, I have just finished my Blog Mitosis. The personal posts were transferred somewhere else, the local ones can be found on here, where they used to be.

So here’s to more posts, hopefully laced with a good dose of sarcasm.

The Feminist Inside is Angry

I am trying to understand why a ridiculous news item on MaltaToday has filled me with such rage.

This morning I voiced said rage on Facebook and Twitter and some of the responses were the following;

@melahart Miller being a private business, they can sell – or NOT SELL what they want. It’s called capitalism.

— Marco(@magnumt) August 16, 2012

@melahart @dazedmagazine but it’s a free commercial world and their job is to import what THEY LIKE.

— Jacques Rene Zammit (@jacqueszammit) August 16, 2012

@melahart The largest distributer in Malta and, I believe, a privately owned company. I guess they have the right for an opinion too.

— Ivan (@4thguy) August 16, 2012

All fair points. Truthfully I never considered this to be some sort of censorship or even a ban, and I understand that Miller Distributors, as a private company, have every right to distribute what they well please. My question is, why did they decide not to import this particular magazine. What is the basis of this so called business decision? What is the fine line between Fifty Shades of Grey which is happily stocked in Agenda and this Dazed and Confused cover? Maybe it’s the visuals, but then again, what is the difference between this particular visual and those of Playboy and FHM which again are happily imported by Miller?

Essentially the cover promotes safe sex. Something which, let’s face it, needs to be properly reinforced in our little island. Fifteen years ago, I got all my sexual education from MTV Italia. Thank goodness for that station. Imagine my surprise when at 14 I learnt that condoms also prevent STIs, that’s certainly not something I learnt from school. So why are Miller so appalled by an image which promotes safe sex for women?

Going through all these questions there is one answer which seems to make most sense to me. The decision makers at Miller aren’t happy with WOMEN EXPRESSING SEXUAL FREEDOM. They are more than happy to import magazines which objectify women but the moment a woman is seen as strong and in control then we have trouble, and we rewind back to the middle ages (or the 1990s in Malta) where women were there as dinner preparing, house cleaning, pleasure giving, breeding machines.

So yes, that is why I’m enraged at this whole thing. Alas, Malta is still a closed patriarchal society, or else it is going to be until we have archaic people making all the decisions. And yes I am well aware by Miller Distributor’s latest comment. To me, it still doesn’t make things any better.

The weekend that keeps on giving

Apart from the tedious laundry and cleaning of the house, the weekend seems to be a time where I sit down and catch up with whatever there is in the RSS reader and the latest articles I favorited on Twitter during the week.

Saturday was Kony 2012. I spent the whole week seeing both positive and negative comments about Kony2012 and Jason Russell on Facebook and Twitter, so I was curious. I first read how Jason Russell was caught masturbating and vandalizing cars whilst under the influence of whatever (not that it really matters once you’re found masturbating in public). At that point I was ready to forgive the guy for being so stupid, at least he was trying to do something with his life  Then I watched the documentary. I was disgusted; an ego-centric, narcissistic video, all about me, me, me (I also do believe the kid will loathe his father in the future for parading him in the so called documentary).
#Kony2012

But what shocked me most was the viewership. The video on YouTube reached the 100 millions views in 6 days, which led me to think; are we that thirsty for something to fight for? Is this all we need? A cause which is presented to us well enough, in easy to consume video form? But of course it is easy to be “an activist” when all you need to do is share a video, and there you have it, you’re part of a cause. A cause which is probably doing more harm than good, but who cares, as long as that share made you feel good about yourself for the rest of the week, right?

If you’re one of those who shared the video, I urge you to read the article by Adam Branch “Dangerous ignorance: The hysteria of Kony 2012“. Dangerous ignorance, what a beautiful phrase.

Sunday, I finally had the chance to read all the reflections penned by the first generation of Maltese bloggers for the 7th year anniversary of J’accuse. I do believe that with this series Jacques managed to capture a slice of local internet history. And I really hope he doesn’t castigate me for saying that.

Pictorial cigarette health warnings from Wednesday – sexy!

Let me start this post by saying this; I don’t smoke cigarettes. I never got dragged into that whole scene and I hate the taste smoking leaves in my mouth, however, I understand the pleasure it brings some people and I still go out for cigarette breaks with my colleagues… Hooray for passive smoking.

Reading the Times today there was an article introducing the new cigarette packaging as of this Wednesday. Pictorial health warnings will now be added to the ‘smoking kills’ messages. Will this really help? Honestly I have no idea, I tried to do some research on the matter but all the results I got were all from health organizations, not really lacking in bias.

I also stumbled across an article saying that research shows that what really works is having blank packaging, and in fact this is what the UK are currently looking into together, with banning the display of cigarettes in shops.

I still think that what really works is education, smoking does increase the risk of cancer, give people the tools and let them make informed decisions. But please don’t fill the packaging with scary looking guys hooked up to oxygen machines and tumors coming out of their every orifice. I’m not too sure all these scaring tactics work, and if tobacco is really such a killer why isn’t it simply banned like arsenic or leprechaun dust?

Oh well, I guess on Wednesday we’ll get these new packets, they will shock for some time, could be weeks or even minutes, and we’ll be back to the same old routine.

D Day (first hurdle)

No I’m not referring to the Normandy landings back in 1944. Today in Malta, the Parliament is currently debating the Divorce Motion. Later on in the day MPs will be asked to vote on the Opposition’s motion for the holding of a referendum. Unfortunately my connection to the House of Parliament’s stream wasn’t the best and wasn’t able to listen to the whole debate. Luckily @maltatoday is keeping a live text of all the happenings.

From what I read, Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando was seriously kicking some butt, and good for him, seeing such energy and passion is refreshing and makes someone like myself, who is sometimes alienated by local politics, a lot more interested. What ticked me off was the fact that apparently he started the sitting by saying “Let me start off by saying that I disagree with divorce… I hope to see a strengthening of the family unit”. Now I don’t know if something got lost in translation here (Parliament sittings are held in Maltese) but that does raise some eyebrows. Not to mention that being in Malta you hear about every one’s dirty laundry and surely I’m not the only one who knows about JPO’s situation. So why would you say you disagree with divorce, when you’re at the forefront of such an important battle? What’s wrong with saying you agree with it?

Other than that I must say JPO was in top form and I’m not ashamed to say he wowed me with his arguments, so I thought I’d share my favourites here, courtesy of course of MaltaToday:

“Civil separations and ecclesiastical annulment exists, and children will always suffer from the trauma of separation in any process of marital termination.”
and
“Labour MP Adrian Vassallo and Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi should understand that prevalence of social problems are informed by marital breakdown not by divorce itself, a situation already existent among us… children will only suffer more by being forced to live in unhappy family and not in new family of spouses rebuilding lives and families.”

One of the main sources of ammunition the Against Divorce movement has used is the kids of divorced couples. Let me call bullshit on this one, kids suffer with or without divorce. My parents separated when I was 17, it destroyed me, and the worst part was seeing them at each other’s throats before one of them decided to move out. At that time separation had just started to creep in and I had no one to talk to who could understand what I was going through. If you’re really worried about the kids, set up proper channels which can be easily found.

“Being a Catholic politician is well and good… but putting the temporal interests of the Church before the interests of the citizens is wrong.”
This is a simple one really, Church and State should be separate, or in this instance divorced if you may.  

“The PN believes in family, but is it just the family that has had a serene history? Or do second families who live in harmony and have had children not worthy of this appellation?… Is it just the people who got it right at the first go who are entitled to a family? Are we perpetuating a caste system?”
Well said JPO, everyone deserves a second chance.

And of course, last but not least, my favourite:
“Was rallying cry of Xoghol Gustizzja Libertà (Work, Justice, Liberty) solely reserved for toothpaste and chocolate?”

Thankfully the motion passed, even though it was no surprise at all. I guess we will just have to wait and see until the 28th of May 2011. Maybe then, Malta will get to catch up to the rest of the world.

And to lighten up the mood:


Don’t forget to check out a previous post of mine about JPO and divorce.

When the rants come out

Being sick at home gives me some time to write about things I wouldn’t normally write about. These writings tend to consist mainly in rants. Rants I try to forget about during the week. Normally I manage because these rants are pushed aside by the usual happenings at work but since I’m stuck at home feeling a bit under the weather, well, they are surfacing, so here we go.

Rant #1 – Not being able to purchase Up on Bluray
Oh come on, how is that possible? One of Pixar’s most critically acclaimed films and I cannot find it in Malta. On Saturday I went to look for it at both Exotique and Matrix and the answer from both outlets was ‘Out Of Stock’. I’m not even gonna describe how unhelpful the sales assistants were (you simply cannot call them sales people as that would require some skill). But not to have Up in stock; and I would have completely undertood if it was January and they were replenishing their stock after Christmas, but this is March. I also understand having a limited quantity of stock, I know the sufferings Play has brought about, but it’s well deserved, especially when you don’t deliver on something so basic, it’s not like I went looking for The Human Centipede DVD.

Why I wanted it so badly I hear you say. My friend just had to put her beloved cat to sleep and I thought Up would cheer her up as it’s a movie about dealing with the loss of someone special, and I know it helped me in times of need.

Image courtesy of Pixar

Rant #2 – Maltese reporting
I was completely and utterly disgusted by the choice of tagline The Times decided to go with on their front page on Saturday. Apocalypse now, seriously? Shame on you! I don’t think it was the time and place for puns and acting clever. Not that today’s edition was any different, was the editor trying to be ironic or moronic?

Ironic? More like moronic.

Also if you haven’t yet donated and you’re looking for a charity to help the people in Japan, apart from the Red Cross, there is also Global Giving. Donating is so easy and they even send you regular updates of how your money is being spent.

Rant #3 – Freedom of expression
Not a rant really. I’m really happy Mark Camilleri and Alex Vella Gera were cleared of the offending public morals charge. The rant can be found on a previous blog post I had written some time ago. Long live freedom of expression and all that!

OMG JPO HOT

Don’t you just love the online world? You refresh the MaltaToday website and there it is, a glorious picture of Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, looking as fine as… well umm… ever? Today was actually the first time I noticed he has that certain pizzaz.

Pictures courtesy of MaltaToday


Now I know our politicians aren’t the kind you get infatuated, head over heels and whatnot about, but look at him; washed blue denim, light blue tie, perfectly fitting brown suit jacket, sunglasses and that salt and pepper hair. I mean he might as well have been strolling Piazza Navona not leaving Castille.

So JPO, for debating something which is so important for our country and for looking so damn hot doing it, we thank you.