February 27, 2012

She did it again, this time it’s Utopia Britain


Tanja Cilia

Welcome to Utopia

I have inadvertently upset and bemused my British friends. They could find no rhyme and reason as to why I decided to pick random examples of Americana in order to indicate similarities with what is going on in Malta.

After all, they said, Malta was a British Colony for n years, and technically, both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Malta are made up of a collection of islands, however much animosity exists amongst them.

Frankly, I always thought that the temperament of the British and that of the Maltese were different. They are supposed to have a stiff upper lip: we are hot-blooded, because we are Mediterranean.

However, it seems that what Margaret Thatcher said, i.e. “I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end,” counts for both nations.

Random Item #1: A quick look at the contestants in beauty contests will show us that the majority of Maltese contestants – at least those who do not titter when complimented for weight loss which would be due to liposuction – have rather heavy thighs and calves that are almost oval. The British, on the other hand, have calves and cankles.

Whereas he Maltese Doctor Sir Temi Żammit tracked down the source of brucellosis to the milk of infected cows,  the laurels for one of the silliest, most dangerous weight-loss ‘solutions’ ever invented must rest upon the head of a British Doctor.

In the 1950s, A.T.W. Simeons took the phrase “false pregnancy” to a whole new level. He suggested that a person (yes, even a man) could subsist on 500 calories a day, on condition that they also received daily injections hCG (the hormone human choriogonadotropin), which is produced in early pregnancy.

Playing about with hormones is never advisable; and indeed it was later discovered that this sorry excuse for an eating plan could give blinding headaches and blood clots, and cause depression. And the fact is that you are eating so little, that it probably does not matter what else you do to punish your body – you will lose weight anyway.

Whereas in certain cases hCG is used as part of fertility treatments, it is never advisable to use it in the aforesaid manner.

Random Item #2: The fashion for acronyms wormed its way into Maltese culture a long time ago, probably even further back than 4Ts and YTC, the first two I recall; and UI would say that 34U is not the last entity to be labelled thus, either.

Action for Employment was perhaps inevitably shortened to A4e.

David Cameron’s idea(l) was to find jobs for dole sharks and other unemployed people. Now we have revelations that some of the employees of one of the five firms entrusted with this commitment are facing investigation…over alleged fraud. Emma Harrison, Family Champion, said that she would stand down because “…I do not want the current media environment to distract from the very important work with troubled families.” The word is, however, that A4e has actually won two new contracts after her resignation; wonders never cease.

Should we be happy, therefore, that in Malta, the only negative press social services have received is about monies voted toward this essential issue? With even less money voted for them, workers in the social services sector will not even be able to think about committing fraud.

At least, fraud perpetuated by our public servants and those in NGOs do not involve families, at least directly.

Random Item #3: In order to ‘avoid’(sic) teenage pregnancies, teens may ask for 4cm-long contraceptive implants (involving a minor operation to introduce progestogen into the blood through implants fitted in the upper arm), or contraceptive injections – without the knowledge of their parents.

This is done in the girls’ schools, and under patient confidentiality rules, school staff is banned from asking for permission from the girls’ parents, although they are minors.

Therefore, if the girl “feels like” having sex, her only problems are getting an STD, and the 1% rate of failure. Wait!  If the boyfriend(s) know about the implants or shots, would they not pressure the girl, telling her she is “safe”?

Of course, “some” discomfort (acne, depression, headaches, weight gain nausea, breast tenderness and irregular or absence of periods) from this device or the injection are to be expected.

Then there are the double vision, epilepsy, and even coma associated with anti-HPV shots which would be given to provide additional protection,  are to be expected, but is that not a small price to pay for promiscuity? Incidentally, the “cervix-protecting” inoculation will shortly be made available to boys, although they do not have a cervix… just in case they experiment with homosexual relationships.

Let us be thankful for small mercies. Our teenagers “merely” dance half-naked on cubes in Paceville. Only a few (relatively speaking) Maltese teens end up having babies. We have no gangs that earn money off teenaged prostitutes. Many Maltese teens seem to be obsessed with the performing arts – singing, dancing, and modelling.

Random Item #4: British Labour MP for Falkirk, Eric Joyce, has been suspended by his party after head-butting and punching Tory Stuart Andrew, and brawling with four other Tories, in a bar at the House of Commons Strangers’ Bar.

Apparently, this was the follow-up to his not altogether complimentary speech in parliament, in which he mentioned the excess of Tories present. It took thirteen hours for him to sober up enough for police to question him.

Isn’t it nice that our (actual and potential) representatives spend their time quibbling about colours of ties and the frequency with which they are changed?

Why aren’t we happy that, instead of instigating drunken brawls, they post pictures of breakfasts, children, wives, lovers, parties attended, and recent haircuts on social sites, as well as flyers stuffed into our letter-boxes because Malta has no opt-out from junk mail facilities?

Wouldn’t you, too, rather be insular, parochial, and territorial, than progressive, liberal, and permissive?



December 16, 2010

A Holiday for all

Filed under: Essays — unwriter1 @ 10:08 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Christmas is a holiday worldwide. It’s something to everyone. Although it started out as a pagan holiday, it has evolved numerous times. In the religious sense, it started as a birthday for Jesus. I say started because it has been shown that he was not born on December 25th, but it is celebrated for the fact that he was indeed born. Specifically it is referred to as a Christian holiday. But you will find Jews that will get in on the festivities also. How it fits with Muslim or other religions is not something I have knowledge of, at this time. However, in terms of the Christian faith, it doesn’t seem to matter if you are Methodists, Catholics, or some other sect. There is, however, the secular side and I believe this to be the more important part.

Christmas represents the time when we think of peace, harmony and love of our fellow beings. It is portrayed in the persona of Santa Claus and the other variants of this person. This allows the non-religious or non-Christian, to observe this holiday. It is the festive time of year where the end of the harvest is celebrated with family gatherings and large meals. The children celebrate with the materialistic side via the gifts. When one looks at all the various parts of this one holiday, it is easy to see how there is something for everyone, Christian, Jew, and even atheists.

So, whatever your point of view in terms of a God or superior being, enjoy this wondrous time of year.

I wish everyone Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year!


December 13, 2010

The lights


“Wow! I heard rumors about this but I never thought I’d ever see them.”

“Didn’t you have television on the farm Joe?”

“Nah. Ever since Ma died, Pa has lost interest in everything. He said television is a waste of time.”

“So what did you do for fun?”

“Fun? What’s that? All we did was work from sunup to sundown. First there was the chores, then the field work.”

“Joe, Aunt Martha has been gone for almost eight years. Didn’t Uncle Bob try to find someone or something to do to get over her accident?”

Mike, Pa did nothing but work and that’s all he had me do. He even schooled me at home. He said it was better that way.”

“Well, it’s a good thing that salesman went out there last week. You could have starved to death. I’m sorry about Uncle Bob’s passing but you had no way to let anyone know. According to the salesman, you didn’t even have a telephone.”

“Pa wanted nothing to do with nobody.”

“Well the sheriff found one of my letters and contacted me. You’re living with me now, here in the city.”

“I know. Thank you.”

“Monday you’ll be taking some tests to see what grade you have to start. But, at ten years of age, you won’t be back too far. Until then, we need to start getting ready for Christmas.”


“Yes. It’s that time of year where everyone celebrates the birth of Jesus and everyone exchanges gifts. We decorate the house with lights and put up a Christmas tree.”

Mike went on to tell Joe the story of Christmas and also to explain the modern traditions. His nephew Joe had led a very secluded life and it was time to bring him up to date. He had a lot to learn outside of what he would pick up in school. Then came the explanation of Santa Claus. Poor Joe was now really out in the cold.

“We’ll go shopping tomorrow. You need new clothes anyway. Maybe we can find Santa and you can tell him what you want for Christmas.”

“I ain’t got no money to buy nothing. So why would Santa get me something?”

“Well, first off, we need to work on your English. Christmas and Santa isn’t about money or what you can afford. Many people make their gifts for others. But Santa brings toys and clothes to all boys and girls, regardless of income. He doesn’t expect anything back, except cookies and milk.”

“Aw, there ain’t no such thing as Santa.”

“Isn’t there? There may not be a real person that comes down a chimney, but Santa is real. He is the spirit of Christmas. To believe in Santa is to believe in the goodness of man.”

Joe had been living with Mike for a few days so television wasn’t new anymore. Mike thought the best way to explain Christmas was to put in the DVD of Dickens Christmas Carol, original TV version. Christmas made a little more sense after that.

“What do you want for Christmas Joe?”

“Clothes, but I can’t get you nothing.”

“You can’t get me anything, that’s how you say it correctly. Besides, you’ve already given me the best gift possible.”


“You’re here.”

That left Joe a bit speechless. The next day they went shopping. Joe helped his cousin pick out a tree. Mike explained that a fake tree was safer, so they got one with lights. Then they went shopping for clothes and found Santa.

“See how all the people are standing in line to tell Santa what they want for Christmas? Why don’t you do it too?”

“Naw, I don’t really want anything. Besides he can’t afford to get things for everybody.”

“Remember the movies? Santa is magical. Go ahead, at least you get a free candy cane.”

He was bigger than the other kids, but he got in line anyway. Mike heard Joe ask for a bike for Christmas.

“I bet I don’t get it, but I did get my candy cane.”

They went home and put up the decorations. Joe helped Mike wrap presents for his friends and put them under the tree. Mikes girlfriend called and confirmed that she would be at Mike’s house for Christmas dinner. She hadn’t met Joe yet but was looking forward to it. On Christmas eve they put out some milk and cookies for Santa, even though Joe was convinced they would be there the next morning. But, like all children, he was up at the break of dawn (habit from the farm).

“Mike, Mike!!!! The milk and cookies are gone and there is a big red bike here with my name on it! Santa does exist.”

“Yes Joe, there is a Santa.”

Merry Christmas everyone!


November 29, 2010


Filed under: Essays — unwriter1 @ 4:17 pm
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It’s the holiday season, time to ‘shop til we drop’. Or is it? Allow me a bit to paraphrase author Tim O’Brien. We carry credit cards, shopping bags, debit cards and presents for all our loved ones. We are carrying the tunes of the holiday. At home we carry the weight of how many guests for the holiday. We have an arsenal of spices and sweets along with all the expected fixin’s. We carry the responsibility of having Uncle Harry’s favorite brew and Aunt Martha’s choice of holiday teas. We carry the worry that the house won’t be clean enough or there won’t be enough food. But, there is something missing and the best way to show it is to put in a long quote from Tim O’Brien.

They carried P-38 can openers and heat tabs, watches and dog tags, insect repellent, gum, cigarettes, Zippo lighters, salt tablets, compress bandages, ponchos, Kool-Aid, two or three canteens of water, iodine tablets, sterno, LRRP- rations, and C-rations stuffed in socks.

They carried standard fatigues, jungle boots, bush hats, flak jackets and steel pots.

They carried the M-16 assault rifle.

They carried trip flares and Claymore mines, M-60 machine-guns, the M-70 grenade launcher, M-14’s, CAR-15’s, Stoners, Swedish K’s, 66mmLaws, shotguns, .45 caliber pistols, silencers, the sound of bullets, rockets, and choppers, and sometimes the sound of silence.

They carried C-4plastic explosives, an assortment of hand grenades, PRC-25 radios, knives and machetes. Some carried napalm, CBU’s and large bombs; some risked their lives to rescue others. Some escaped the fear, but dealt with the death and damage. Some made very hard decisions, and some just tried to survive.

They carried malaria, dysentery, ringworm’s and leaches. They carried the land itself as it hardened on their boots. They carried stationery, pencils, and pictures of their loved ones – real and imagined. They carried love for people in the real world and love for one another. And sometimes they disguised that love:”Don’t mean nothin’!” They carried memories for the most part, they carried themselves with poise and a kind of dignity.

Now and then, there were times when panic set in, and people squealed or wanted to, but couldn’t; when they twitched and made moaning sounds and covered their heads and said “Dear God” and hugged the earth and fired their weapons blindly and cringed and begged for the noise to stop and went wild and made stupid promises to themselves and God and their parents, hoping not to die. They carried the traditions of the United States military, and memories and images of those who served before them.

They carried grief, terror, longing and their reputations. They carried the soldier’s greatest fear: the embarrassment of dishonor. They crawled into tunnels, walked point, and advanced under fire, so as not to die of embarrassment. They were afraid of dying, but too afraid to show it. They carried the emotional baggage of men and women who might die at any moment. They carried the weight of the world.


What is missing is us remembering those that are in the military fighting for our freedoms. We need to carry the message that they too are in our hearts and thoughts. We need to start carrying altruistic thoughts. We need to keep our minds sharp and our eyes open and our pocket book closed and realize that there are millions in the world that don’t have the material things that we have. There are millions working and fighting side by side with these same non materialistic peoples because it is about freedom, the ability to say what we want, to buy or do what we want and to help others see that freedom does not mean that we are better. It means that there is not one religion that is better than another.

We are in a war, both home and abroad, not with guns but with words. We are not Muslim or Christian, or Jewish. We are people that have families. We need to carry the responsibility to learn to get along with others. We are not born to hate, we are raised that way. It is time to discard that baggage and take the weight of the world off of our shoulders. It is time to learn to get along and to raise our families in an environment of love and the fact that we are all individuals.

We need to carry love in our heart, on our sleeve and on our face!

November 21, 2010


Filed under: Essays — unwriter1 @ 11:31 am
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“Shut that damn kid up!” How often do you hear that said? “Mommy will be back in a few minutes.” Another familiar statement. What does the child hear? “Daddies mad at me. What did I do wrong this time?” The crying gets louder. “Mommy is leaving. I’ll never see her again.

These are two common and all too often deadly adult child-related sentences. Let me tackle these in reverse order. I’ll start with time.

How many babies and toddlers understand the concept of time? None. You can tell a young one a few minutes but you might as was say forever. To a child, it’s the same thing. As far as the little one knows, once you are out of sight, fear sets in that you will never be seen again. You’re laughing at me about this, but that is because you know, as an adult, that you will be right back. Look at this and all these comments as a child would see them. Try to view the world from their perspective.

You or your mate returns home from work after a very frustrating day. Traffic was horrid or your boss was in a bad mood. DO NOT TAKE THIS OUT ON THE CHILD! Kids do not understand bad days or things that upset adults. They cry because they were yelled at out of adult frustration. All the child wants is a smile so they know the adult recognizes them. In other words, say hi and don’t treat the child as invisible.

Crying is a baby’s way communicating important information. There are only five types of crying:

  1. Hunger
  2. Tired
  3. Dirty diaper
  4. Hurt
  5. Scared

Four and five are easily eliminated by observation. A check of the diaper will answer number three. If the latest meal was recent, then you know it’s naptime. The bottom line?

Pay attention to your children. They do let you know their needs. Have a bad day? Pick up the child, troubles will melt away. A smile on a child’s face is the magic elixir. The soft, gentle caresses are Gods therapy.

October 8, 2010

Why the Good Ones?

Why are we losing the Good Ones?

We lost four in Ohio. We lost one at Rutgers. We are losing them left and right because we let it happen. We, the adults, the ones that form the laws and pretend we know what happens in our child’s life. We don’t, period. How many come home and tell us they are being bullied at school? How many admit the teasing’s of others hurts?

“We’ll handle it” is said by too many school officials and nothing is done. I am not one in favor of a lot of laws, but it is time to put a stop to this! Don’t make it a school rule. Don’t make it a state law. This has to be a federal law based on hate crimes. Everyone is different, so let’s learn to tolerate and even learn from those differences.

We are losing the good ones and leaving the mean ones. People may not agree, but I personally say we need to lock up the bullies before more people with an accent, a different way of life (gay or lesbian, Jewish, etc.), or that just like to dress or be different in some way, get forced to decide suicide is their only way out.

Contact your congressperson, your school administrators, or whomever you can, do stop this practice. There is friendly teasing and malicious. It is this latter that is killing off the good folks and leaving the mean and spiteful bullies.


July 22, 2010

Hatchet Job

Filed under: Essays — unwriter1 @ 3:11 pm
Tags: , ,

It was the first day of the month, payday. Like clockwork, Jim arrived at the bank to collect his money. As always, Molly gave him a twenty dollar bill telling him Kat would be in later to pick up the rest.

Yep, it was payday and all the bars in town knew it. They also knew his wife, Kat, better known as Hatchet Kat. Dave was lucky. He only lost a finger when he put the frosty mug down next to Jim’s pile of cash. That is why the first of every month is Hatchet Kat day and all the bars in town close. The second and third days, depending on when Jim sobers up enough to walk to town are safe because by then he would be broke. It was around a year ago that the overhead crane Jim operated came down, with him in it. He was on disability from that point and his normal angry temperament got worse.

It was starting off like the first of every month. Leaving the bank he would stop at the ‘Buy-it-Here’ convenience store. With his supply of cheap whiskey, Jim made his way to the broken down shack he and Kat called home. A typical first- of-the-month scenario and it would be the last.

It was the first of the month and the police and paramedics were standing by. The emergency room had staff ready also prepared for Kat’s monthly visit. Jim was a violent and mean drunk. This month would be different.

Kat had had enough. Jim would come home either plastered or in the process of becoming so. Then before he passed out he always beat Kat to within an inch of her life. He was always angry about something and took it out on his sweet wife. The paramedics knew this and were on standby for her 911. Not this time.

Staggering up to the door he was dumbfounded to find it locked.

“Stupid Bitch!”

Ten minutes of near misses he finally got the key into the lock. It didn’t matter how hard he turned that key because he then saw the two new deadbolts. He couldn’t see the board Kat had across the door on the inside. Had he tried, he would have discovered the back door was the same way. Instead he stumbled and tripped his way to the root cellar. He had a pint and two six packs stored there. Kat knew this also.

She waited until she was sure he was out. Hatchet in one hand, lantern in the other, into the root cellar she went. She raised the finely honed blade:

“One digit for each can and bottle you drank, you dirty bastard.”

Off came ten fingers. The eleventh digit was right below his waist.

“911, what is your emergency?”

“There’s been an accident. My blade slipped.”

She was cleared of the murder charge using the battered spouse syndrome.

May 4, 2010

Black Holes

Filed under: Essays,Uncategorized — unwriter1 @ 4:12 pm
Tags: , , ,

Aptly named because they are not easily seen due to their melding with the darkness of space but yet as a hole, it’s a slight misnomer. A simple description.

Stars do eventually run out of fuel. When that happens they expand outward greatly. Our own star, the sun, will, in a few billion years, expand out beyond Pluto then collapse back into a very small dead star. Increase the size to almost twice that of our sun and it will collapse into a neutron star. But, a star twice the size of the sun will expand then implode into a black hole.

By definition, a black hole is a very small version of itself that has a gravity field from which nothing can escape, including light. The death of these stars is a supernova explosion. A black hole is not very dense. One a billion times the size of our sun will have a mass only about twenty times that of air. In other words, matter that is squished into nothing but quarks, is not very massive. The tidal force, the force that pulls objects in, is stronger for small black than for larger ones.

Once past the event horizon (beyond which nothing escapes), the tidal force takes over.

“The tidal force at the event horizon is smaller for larger black holes: you would get torn to shreds far outside a black hole the mass of our sun, but at the event horizon of a billion solar mass black hole the tidal force would only be a millionth of an ounce!”

“Strange Facts About Black Holes

• Light bends so much near black holes that if you were near one and looking away from the hole, you would see multiple images of every star in the universe, and could actually see the back of your own head!

• Inside a black hole the roles of time and radius reverse: just as now you can’t avoid going into the future, inside a black hole you can’t avoid going in to the central singularity.

• If you stood a safe distance from a black hole and saw a friend fall in, he would appear to slow down and almost stop just outside the event horizon. His image would dim very rapidly. Unfortunately for him, from his point of view he would cross the event horizon just fine, and would meet his doom at the singularity.

• Black holes are the simplest objects in the universe. You can describe one completely by just its mass, spin rate, and electric charge. In contrast, to completely describe a dust mote you’re have to specify the position and state of all of its atoms, taking at least $10^{16}$ numbers!

• As Hawking discovered, black holes can evaporate, but only very slowly. Even one the mass of a mountain will last for ten billion years, and one the mass of the Sun will only evaporate after 1067years. “

Finding black holes isn’t easy, but one may suspect an area where one would expect to see a star and only find a black spot. They can be seen, so to speak, also when in a binary system as there will be a stream of matter being sucked out of one half of the set.

This is a brief overview of what a black hole is. For more information, google the source in the footnotes or just google black holes.

May 26, 2009

The most dangerous creature on Earth

Filed under: Essays — unwriter1 @ 3:27 pm

This has been bothering me all day.  I stepped outside and saw an ant carrying some food. I tried to look at the world from his point of view. Bugs, insects, rabbits and other creatures live outdoors. Humans live inside. But when we of the human race step into their world, we destroy them. Why? They are creepy, or they will come into the house or I”m afraid of insects. There are a thousand reasons and I have yet to hear a good one. These are God’s creations. What right do we have to kill them? Ok, we may not like them but we don’t have to. Even money says they don’t like us either.

All the outdoor creatures do is survive. They eat, sleep and procreate. That is their life. Interfering with humans is not part of their program. Ants and other small creatures seek food and we as humans have a lot of it. But their normal palate consists of grasses. They are attracted to sugar, but it will harm them more than help. They do not get the nutrients they need. But, like kids, it ‘tastes good’.

What”s the solution? Do we offer them sugar? No, that is a slow death. We leave them alone. We will not be overrun by them because they grow to the extent of the resources. When they get in the house, take them back out. We do NOT have the right to kill them. They live outdoors, we live in, it is that simple.

April 19, 2009

Below this sign

Filed under: Essays — unwriter1 @ 8:53 am
Tags: , , , ,

It rained. We are used to that. It snowed. We are used to it. In 2007/2008 it snowed a bit more that usual in the Dakota’s, Minnesota, and here. No problem. In the spring of 2008 the rivers swelled with the northern snowmelt. The Cedar River rose and was heading towards the annual flood. This is Iowa, in the Midwest. No problem, we’re used to it. We’re prepared for it. Then a railroad bridge, with end-to-end cars, fully loaded, collapsed.Problem!

We are not used to this. The water, quite untrained to stay within the confines of the banks, visited our fair city in places where this river has never been. The island, where our center of government was, disappeared. Every bridge, except the interstate, disappeared. Yes, we carped about it because the carp, catfish and every other river abiding creature now had our bridges. The bridges didn’t go down, the water came up. We exceeded our 500-year flood plan. A few years ago a record of nineteen feet was set. That record was shattered in 2008 when the river crested close to thirty-two feet. Downtown got wet.

This is Iowa, magic Iowa, field of dreams Iowa. “Build it and they will come” country. This is post nature’s havoc; the volunteers will flood the city with help, Iowa.

Case in Point

Angie had a house not far from the river. Her kids and grandkids spent an entire summer gutting this house and rebuilt it into a home. In this overly damp spring of 2008, she decided to wash the floors. The river offered to help, to a depth of thirteen feet. Kiss one dream home goodbye. The shed in their backyard has never been seen again.

She took the money FEMA offered and put a down payment on another house far from the maddening river. FEMA also gave her a mobile home to live in while her new house was fixed to habitable. This house is being turned into a home.

At this point a local-to-the-Midwest group called Jumpstart, was contacted to see if they could help. After many meetings and a lot of haggling, it was agreed something could be worked out. Working in conjunction with the coalition (a combined group of volunteer organizations such as United Way and others), a contractor was brought in. It was noted that the kitchen/bathrooms both upstairs and down, needed to be jacked up because they had settled over the years giving the floors a downward slope. That quarter of the house was ripped off. Problem solved. It will be rebuilt from the basement through the second floor.

Termites used this house for permanent banquets. They invited all their friends and family. Their dining area had to go. The volunteers showed the termites how to destroy the inside of a house in less than two weeks.

“Below This Sign, A Great City is Rebuilding”

Mount Trashmore may soon become twin peaks Trashmore. Almost every house (they are no longer homes), and business for dozens of blocks on either side of our now placid river has its insides, outside. Could one house have that much wood and plaster inside? Oh, the island returned, as did our bridges. The government however is scattered all over the city. Meanwhile back at Angie’s frame, er, house, the volunteers are busy.

Lloyd, Angie’s husband and his best friend Louis, are helping this group of volunteers by throwing the trash that used to be the insides, into the Green Giant sized dumpster.

Unpaid, traveling at their own expense, bringing their own tools, volunteers came from everywhere. There are people from Chicago and other places in Illinois. They came from Colorado, Arizona, New York, New Jersey and probably other places. What do you say to such wonderful people? Thank you sounds so easy, too pat. But that is all they ask. To these unsung hero’s, I dedicate this piece.

Thank you from a most grateful city.

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