August 2008


Unlike Santa, Larry Flint was a very controversial person who promoted pornography and made his own magazines. He was also a pain in the neck because the reasons he gave for what he was doing were valid.

Santa, is a good man that gives children sweets and one of Larry’s ‘mistakes’ was using him in a pornographic magazine. It was a cartoon where Santa was telling a woman what he brought her for Christmas, coming from Flint it doesn’t take much imagination as to what he brought. The controversy revolved on the fact that Santa has become a religious figure and what Larry was doing was blasphemy.

However, there is a hidden truth many don’t know. Santa has been hijacked, and not by Larry Flint. The Father considered as a religious icon is actually a product of Coca Cola.

Originally the idea comes from St Nicolas who was famous for giving gifts, especially to the poor. Unfortunately, Coke caught up with that and made Santa tailor made for them. Just consider the colours of his clothes and the fact that during Christmas time he appears on nearly every Coke advert.

Some might say, so what? Believe me this really matters. Coca Cola is one of the most notorious multinationals that ever existed. Apart from supporting totalitarian and brutal regimes, Coke is famous for its death squads, especially in South America. Under extreme distress for a very low wage South Americans, including children have to work for the company, or starve. Unlike cosy Europeans working for decent wages, employees of Coke are not allowed to form any type of Union. If they even dare to mention it, make sure that Coke funded mercenaries would efficiently take your life away.

Flint’s joke on Santa may be of a bad taste, however, nearly harmless. On the other hand, Santa’s hijacking by Coca Cola is responsible for murdering thousands of people, and hides the truth by affiliating with a myth about a Saint, that ironically was famous for helping the poor.

For more information: Coca Cola exposed and Flint accused of offending Santa

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I’m neither a hippy nor a young priest full of energy believing all humans could live and love happily each other, only to find it was only an illusion. However, I do wonder; what about love and compassion? Where have we lost them along the way? I don’t think Elvis Costello was asking too much in his song ‘What’s so Funny about Peace, Love and Understanding?’

 

On an international level, we can barely deny that hatred is dominating. Human rights are being eroded, and except for people in organisations such as Amnesty International, it seems that things like Guantanamo Bay, chemical warfare and the nuclear threat are not things that should spark any kind of outrage. I don’t believe this is World War III, but I do think it is Cold War II.

 

However, I’d like to draw attention to our, Maltese situation, where many find it more important to find someone to hate than to love. Probably we will soon discover a market for online hate-dates who knows.

 

A couple of years ago, there was a case, in Italy where a child who was about to be kidnapped, was murdered by the blow of a spade from his kidnappers.

 

We’re all human and I can easily understand if the child’s parents and other relatives and friends who loved the innocent child felt some strong feeling for revenge, wishing the perpetrator would be locked forever possibly with constant torture. Their emotions are deeply wounded; someone murdered their son just because he annoyed him crying.

 

What I find a bit disturbing is the fact, that when the news hit Malta and was featured on Xarabank, many people expressed a scary amount of hatred and a need for revenge. The common sentiment was ‘kieku jiena ntertaqhom bicciet’ (if it was up to me I’d tear them to pieces). I think this is scary due to the fact that these people had nothing to do with the case. They did not know the child. They were not emotionally involved. Hatred is a bad and dangerous feeling; however, while it’s only normal for the parents to feel it, I could not understand how complete strangers could feel such an urge for revenge.

 

Yesterday, I was reading an online article on The Times of Malta and was amazed at the comments many people were sending. The issue was that a person uploaded material with his former girlfriend having sex and the girl took legal action against him. Fair enough, but it seems those commenting on The Times really missed the point, probably on purpose. The former couple happened to be Gozitans and instead of discussing issues such as privacy and data protection, ethics and what should be the stand taken by the law, the discussion turned out like an online war between Maltese and Gozitans. I sent a couple of comments trying to divert the discussion back to the fact that someone breached the privacy of another person and this was not acceptable. My comments were ignored. Everyone seemed to be enjoying an orgy of hatred towards people who happen to be on a rock instead of another.

 

Some village feasts have become a battle ground. I support this saint and I’m willing to kill if it needs to! I wonder whether the saints themselves could understand the concept or even more approve it.

 

When African migrants started coming to Malta I was struck as to what extent people could hate others because of a different nationality, culture or colour of the skin. (I’m not referring to those wary of many African migrants, but to those completely indifferent and talk about migrants with a venomous tongue). Now I can understand. We just 400,000 people could not even stand each other for minor differences, how can we behave as human beings towards people whose differences are more wide.

 

What’s so funny about peace love and understanding? I have not heard any answer that actually made me laugh.

If there is something in my teens I remember very vividly is my excessive love for Punk Rock. It was everything for me. My interest in leftist and green politics had already initiated, however back in those days, hairstyle and dress code were more important than beliefs.

Later, during my early 20’s this passion started to fade away slowly, though I still loved the music. However, lyrics and real attitude started to become important. Political activism and music were both priorities in my life, and the combination of them still gets my adrenaline flowing. And if there are a group of people who can blend perfectly both things are definitely the band The Clash, especially the late front man Joe Strummer.

Apart from a great musician, Strummer was an idealist. A man who believed in a better world. Yet, what he believed in was nothing out of the ordinary, just a simple way of life. The problem with this world was (is) that ‘we’ve become dehumanised, all we need to do is put back the humanity in’. What he asked for is extremely simple, yet we seem to find it impossible. However, as he also stated ‘If we really want, we can change anything, literally anything’. Another thing I really believe in. Ok I’m a dreamer, but it does not mean I’m dumb. I can’t change the world, and I know it, however the eagerness and urgency to bring about change keeps my fire alight, even it means going against the stream.

It’s not an insignificant utopia. People have changed things, for better or for worse. Movements such as feminists, LGBT, human rights activists, and others have brought significant changes. If, in a Western context I say women should not be allowed to vote I’d be considered insane, yet not too long ago, I would have been considered as such if I said women should. We don’t ‘hide’ people with a disability anymore, more gays and lesbians are coming out, and a couple of war criminals are facing trials. The way forward, is still hard and long. However, courageous women and men stood out, demanded change and up to a certain extent brought it.

Back to The Clash. Some things they said during their career in the late 70’s and early 80’s was even subject to ridicule. These things are now the norm. Back in those days climate change was not an issue. It was mentioned by people considered as brainless hippies who got paranoid with excessive use of LSD. Yet, in the late 70’s The Clash wrote nearly prophetic words regarding this issue, in their song London Calling:

The ice age is coming

The sun zooming in

Meltdown expected

The wheat is growing thin

No one connected with such lyrics (the verse I wrote here just gives a glimpse of what they were talking about) back in those days and it needed courage to say them. Now, three decades later we are not saying it, unfortunately we are experiencing it. Maybe if more people took bands like The Clash together with other progressive forces such as some scientists and green activists, we will not find ourselves in the mess we’re in.

Strummer’s lifestyle also showed what kind of person he was. He didn’t just write lyrics and sing them. During the early teens his family was kicked out by the landlord because he kept bringing tramps to wash, eat and sleep in his house. As soon as The Clash became significant in the music scene they created the first Rock Against Racism concerts in areas where racism was rampant. Strummer also supported Trade Union movements by attending rallies, sometimes even organising them. His fame made them more attractive and the sense of urgency was visibly alarming.

I could keep on talking about this band for hours, but that would be quite boring I assume. If this has roused your interest follow these links or pass a comment or question on this blog.

Just a little idea of what The Clash are about: Know Your Rights and Career Opportunities

By now, Facebook has become a network that only few haven’t heard of. Some use it for networking, finding jobs, dating, just for fun and many other reasons. However, for some Egyptian people it symbolises the Face of liberation.

Unlike China, Egypt lacks certain technological expertise. The Chinese government have managed to censor nearly every dissident voice against him. When dissidents do speak out, they do it in foreign countries and their claims, rarely if ever arrive to the Chinese citizens. However, Moubarak’s regime in Egypt is not able to control the net as more and more people are now speaking out.

Facebook has become the favourite site for blogging, and courageous citizens, mostly students, now are free to criticise the regime. They are courageous since Egypt’s regime does manage to track down some of them, and imprison them.

However, for Moubarak things are running berserk. His undisputed leadership is under threat. After a dissident blogger is arrested, dozens of others start writing about his or her arrest. The individual is usually released within months, only to go blogging again.

Having said that, I’m still skeptic whether this can cause any major changes, and whether some lives will be lost, or some people just vanish into thin air. However the concrete blocks of dictatorship have started to disintegrate.

For now, let’s hope this thing will go on, and maybe a real earthquake manages to destroy the tyranny the people are living in.

Spam Mail

I am writing this after wasting nearly half an hour deleting spam from my email inbox. It’s boring and frustrating, a time waster, and sometimes makes one delete important emails by mistake. However today I also realised how much of it is actually obnoxious, and how for those (hopefully few) who do read the contents it may be harmful.

Nearly all spam I receive revolves advertisements about three issues – penis enlargement, getting thinner, and high quality watches. Luckily I’m old enough not to have complexes about size. However imagine a sixteen year old with a low self-esteem reading things such as ‘With our help you won’t make a fool of yourself anymore in front of your girlfriend’ The poor kid goes to the toilet and starts questioning whether he is fit, weather the last row with his girlfriend was the result of her frustration due to his organ’s size, and whether he should resort to buying these pills or whatever. May sound funny, but I believe some people do have similar complexes, which are not generated from need, but from the greed of people who want to make profit at any cost.

But if that’s not for girls, there is another complex these people donate – you are too fat. And I’m sure that everyone has been a victim or a friend of a victim usually female, possibly very attractive, worrying because she could not feel her ribs which is going to get her being dumped by her partner and/or ridiculed by her friends. Once again these unscrupulous entrepreneurs do not mind the psychological, sometimes also physical pain they are inflicting since this generates profit. Just to make one thing clear, when I’m talking about these unscrupulous people, I am definitely not referring to well meaning doctors who highlight the dangers of obesity. That’s a completely different issue.

And what about the watches. Once again it’s unnecessary social pressure. ‘With our diamond watch you will certainly impress your boss’ Great, so you are telling me that my boss is after my watch and what it implies, not for what I’m actually being paid for – work.

Why don’t they also combine these? Imagine this – With our diamond watch and 3 inches (more in the case of males and less in the case of females) you can get any partner and job your heart desires!

To add insult to injury, today I’ve realised the latest novelty – you can also buy letters. ‘Give a boost to your career with an MA or Phd after your name’. Then they go on tell you where to buy it and how much it costs. I think this is very offensive for people who have actually worked for that Masters or Doctorate Degree.

Their message is clear – you can buy love, knowledge, respect and everything else – in the form of pills, watches or letters. Obviously this is far from true. Unfortunately some people are in a vulnerable position, and the greedy birds of prey are quick to identify it and attack their victims.