I am a coeliac. To the common mortal that means that I am allergic to gluten. Allergic is not the right word. As usual to find the right words I scoot over to Wikipedia (I’ll pay for this one day) and here is the definition of celiac disease: “is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages from middle infancy. Symptoms include chronic diarrhoea, failure to thrive (in children), and fatigue, but these may be absent and symptoms in all other organ systems have been described.”
Okay, I must admit that the “failure to thrive” bit still leaves me nonplussed but being a coeliac generally means you cannot eat wheat products. Wheat and products made out of wheat that is. Like pasta. Or pizza. Or beer. Or pastizzi, qassatat, imqaret, wheat noodles… you get the ticket I guess. Being a coeliac in a Mediterranean country sucks. Big time. The good news – if you want to call it good news is that I am not alone. More and more unhappy people are being diagnosed as pizza and bread unfriendly.
For a long time it was pregnant mums who were being diagnosed coeliac thanks to routine tests carried out during pregnancy. Then there was an irritating period when people thought it was actually “cool” to be on a diet that starves you of bread and pizza (coz it’s good for the figure). You’d want to slap these people senseless when you heard that argument but, anyway, that’s not my point today.
I’ve got ubergoodnews for my coeliac brethren. Good news if you are prepared to be a little bit more patient for another five years or so but good news all the same. You see Italian scientists have been hard at work to solve the problem for us depraved coeliacs and trying to find a key to open the doors to the pizzas, the sandwiches and pita breads of the world for us. It seems like they are very, very close to a solution.
The International Press reported that during the last International Congress for Coeliacs held in Genoa, Italian scientists came back with great results regarding the Holy Grail of all coeliacs. It’s a pill that when ingested would allow coeliacs to eat anything. Of course caution is required and more testing is in progress but until now tests on the first 110 patients showed that the pill eliminated the symptoms in 85% of the cases.
Eureka! I say, and it is only the inclement weather in Luxembourg that prevents me from emulating the Syracusan and running through the streets stark naked in joyous celebration. (That and the inevitable queue of young and willing women that would form outside the door of my flat).
I am presently preparing a list of establishments that will have to submit to the inevitable J’accuse invasion should the magic pill ever wind into my handicapped stomach. (Imqaret, pastizzi and cisk are high on the list in case you were wondering).
In the meantime, as I said, caution is required. Please remember that the pill is five years away and we still have to tiptoe our way through unfriendly menus, order more salads in Pizza and Pasta places and yes, for a little while longer keep away from the Cisk. We will have to withstand those perplexed stares as we order the burger without the bun, make double sure that no flour was used to thicken the sauce and order that cider while everyone else is downing manly pints of the best lager.
You must be confused. First they tell you that you are not procreating enough in order to keep up with the Joneses in Europe and now they come back a week letter and remind you that we live in an overcrowded island. Yes, its’s official (as if we needed to know). There’s more of us per square kilometre in our country than there is (of others) in any other country in Europe. Which is a grammatically incorrect statement that will give the average pedant hours of mental pleasure.
In any case you got my drift. There’s over 1,200 of us per kilometre – no wonder we get on each other’s nerves so often. No wonder too that sometimes we tend to be so blandly uninventive. Take the Labour party media branch for example. They kicked up a whole fuss because someone had beaten them to registering a name for a telephone company using the word One.
I don’t know why but every time the Labour marketing department comes up with a new ploy you can smell the Cut and Paste job miles away. Nothing will beat the Nationalist’s plagiarising of Sarkozy’s slogan for years to come but Labour are doing a good job to beat them to the game. I mean for heaven’s sake what is all this fuss with ONE, ONE-OH-ONE and the lot? Did you see the slogan? “We are one” … Google it… it’s all over the place.. from a song in Lion King (2) to a clothing company to a Christian Worship centre.
To add insult to injury they were beaten to the name by a former soft-porn magazine owner. So they came up with an alternative that according to Maltatoday will be “Redtouchfone”. Or something like that. The two parties are in a bit of a fix because both their colours are not very commercially viable. Both Red and Blue have pornographic undertones (google redtouch and you find an underwear company of questionable taste). The “touch” part is an obvious weak attempt to hook onto the current IT phase of everything Touch… iPhone touchscreen anyone?
Does it really take that much to be original? Forget the absurd idea of a political party venturing into mobile telephony for a minute – if they can do travel agencies and tv I guess they can emulate your above-average football team and try their luck with their branding a mobile phone service. You never know how many stupid customers can be found who voluntarily submit their contact details to a political party. I’d have expected a bit more brainstorming for the name though – maybe even using a Maltese word or two.
He cannot be held responsible or accountable. Chris Said that is. The unpleasant news item of the four Gozitans arraigned in court for rape and holding a minor against her will unfolds in the online media as I type. The parallel work of the cruel grapevine seems to confirm that two of the men who have been arraigned are relations of Chris Said – Parliamentary Secretary for Dialogue.
I have known Chris Said for a very long time. Since my early ventures into politics in fact. I can only say good things about the man, and you should know by now that I am not one to hold back criticism whenever it is deserved. All the usual caveats apply with regard to the matter that will be judged before the court, but the people’s jury will be condemning or absolving long before the work in the halls of justice is over.
Which is why once again I repeat that it would be grossly unfair to impute any form of responsibility to Chris Said. This is a small, overpopulated country that we live in. Good politicians come in short supply and it would be a great shame and loss to taint the career of a budding politician in this manner. Chris Said or no Chris Said I’d go so far to say that this is no skeleton in his cupboard. The two grown men who are facing justice are adults and they, and they alone, should be held accountable for their actions.
The irony of a situation where Chris Said were to suffer the consequences of his brothers’ actions (should they be found guilty) is that this is the same Maltese political scene where some politicians are not made to, and they themselves do not, shoulder the responsibility of their own actions. Hell, we even tend to re-elect serial offenders against the code of political integrity. My thoughts and solidarity go out to Chris Said in what is surely a difficult moment.
She is in a fix because Toni Abela felt libelled by her imputation of a female body part to the incumbent Leader of the Opposition. It’s getting confusing because there seems to be some backtracking and revisionist theories that it was not after all a female body part that was called into play but more a member of the bovine family that is normally seen carting ploughs in rice fields. In any case the libel farce goes on. Once again J’accuse points out that there is a need for serious reflection as to the use of libel suits as the best method of winning or losing an argument.
They have been busy although they were not elected to parliament. Alternattiva have presented their first set of proposals for electoral reform. It’s an interesting concept based on a double threshold which AD are saying is similar to what occurs in Germany. Should a party manage to obtain the equivalent of two quotas on a national basis it would be compensated with seats in a proportionally divided parliament.
It’s early days yet and the discussion is bound to continue. Many questions arise, like for example will the big parties also be allowed to compensate for any votes that do not go directly to electing individuals to parliament? Will compensation clauses for the ruling party also be adapted to reflect the new situation? The D’Hondt method will resurface as an alternative. I for one agree that a balance needs to be found between proper proportional representation and functional governance. Let’s see whether MLPN are in the mood for discussion this time round.
Another issue AD are clear on is the Gift of Life proposal to make abortion unconstitutional. They are adamant it should not happen. Which does not mean that AD are in favour of abortion but that they too think that the Gift of Life idea is absolutely ridiculous and is no improvement on the current state of the law. At last a party that clearly puts its cards on the table.
This reminds me of the curious “Ballot Initiatives” that occur on election day in some US states. Basically individuals or groups of individuals can submit their ideas for legislation to the electorate. This can produce some barmy proposals like Californians voting on more room for battery-chickens. This year one particularly juicy proposal comes from a Baptist woman in Colorado. Colorado Ballot 48 proposes that the fertilised human egg be defined as a person. The egg-mendment potentially transforms not just abortion and stem-cell research as murder but also some kinds of birth control. Lovely.
Ironically by drawing attention to the abortion debate in a swing-state this Ballot might cause some ripples of its own in the Presidential election campaign though the ballot itself is not expected to pass through. Still, it’s nice to know that it is not only Malta that has its share of fundamentalist loonies. In any case you cannot beat Sara Palin’s take on dinosaurs and creationism. Vice-President indeed.
That’s the rest of us. We’ll have to make do with this for today. I would have liked to question the need for a 30 year period to develop a less obtrusive protection for Mnajdra than the current tent that will cover the temples. I guess I just did. That’s enough for today though. I’m off to bake a pizza… gluten free of course… the real deal will have to wait!
Jacques has been discussing the effect of internet on reading habits with his fellow jaccusers at https://jaccuse.wordpress.com. What do you think about it?