FEB 2014 VOL 14 ISSUE 2
IS KSU TRULY INDEPENDENT? MARIE CLAIRE FINGER
RAPE CULTURE BRUCE MICALLEF EYNAUD
02 08 28 34
EDUCATION & GRADING
THE SMART CARD
VICTORIA MELITA ZAMMIT
SHOULD FILMS TELL THE TRUTH?
VICTORIA MELITA ZAMMIT
05 11 24 28
FIFTY SHADES OF DULL
DIONNE TARYN GATT
BREATHE RACHEL POWELL
THE ALL NEW MAZDA 3
P IS FOR PERU
ARE ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES BEING SOLVED ETHICALLY?
TIMELESS MUSICAL HITS THE THEATRE
MOBILE PHONES VS MOBILE PHONIES
EDITORIAL With the coveted carnival celebrations right at our doorstop, this year’s second edition of The Insiter has finally materialised! We are very happily presenting this end of February edition as part of the quarterly magazine plan we now have in mind. Apart from successfully printing again, we are also very glad to be able to say that we have recently taken the necessary steps to ensure that the organisation will soon be back on its feet. Once again the content of this magazine deals with a variety of topics. Some are of local interest, such as the KSU review on pages 4 and 5, which offers an analysis of the current executive’s tenure together with a criticism of the manifesto-motivated elections we have on campus every year. Another article that concerns a large number of students is an evaluation of the student SmartCard and the distribution of funds between the different courses at the University of Malta. Our writers also dealt with a number of international issues, which although having a wider spectrum, may still be applicable to Malta. These include an analysis on the recent Swiss vote on immigration - an issue which definitely hits close to home – and an article on the recent EU amendments to the 2020 emission regulations. The Insiter has also met with Claire Farrugia, a Pharmacy student who does dream-like watercolours under the alias Breathe, and Maria Muscat from Babettopolis who has turned her passion for re-structuring and altering vintage pieces of clothing into a brand name which produces lovely clothes, bags, hats and accessories. The value of our academic achievements is also discussed in two short articles by Johann Agius and Geraldine Sammut on pages 7 and 27, while Victoria Melita Zammit has written an intriguing feature on rape culture, which makes you realize that although it is sometimes perceived as an issue which is somewhat distant from our shores, it might be closer than you think. Later, Annabel Hili inspires us to get off the island by describing the most memorable instances of her trip to Peru in a quirky A to Z article. And finally, if you like what you see in this magazine, we also remind you to bookmark www. insiteronline.com for more articles and updates throughout the year.
PRINT EDITOR Marie Claire Finger
(c) 2014 Insite – The Student Media Organisation. All Rights Reserved.
MEDIA OFFICER Julian Caruana EDITORS Jake Dalli, Vikesh Godhwani, Rachel Powell HEAD OF DESIGN Samwel Mallia
The Insiter is published by Insite – The Student Media Organisation on Campus
DESIGNERS Liza Mallia, Maria Sammut, Elyse Tonna
CORRESPONDENCE: Insite - The Student Media Organisation, University of Malta, Msida, MSD 2080
SALES AND MARKETING Sarah Jane Mallia
SALES AND MARKETING: firstname.lastname@example.org
DEVELOPMENT Jonathan Galea
CONTRIBUTORS Johann Agius, Julian Caruana, Jake Dalli, Marie Claire Finger, Jonathan Galea, Vikesh Godhwani, Dionne Taryn Gatt, Annabel Hili, Timothy Micallef, Bruce Micallef Eynaud, The Nitpicker, Rachel Powell,
Geraldine Sammut, Victoria-Melita Zammit
IS KSU TRULY INDEPENDENT? With the halfway point of the year very well behind us, comes the promise of the second semester and a brief yet well received break after the engulfing stress of the January examination session - which serve as a faithful premonition of the elusive and not-so-distant replica in June. Among the endless exciting prospects we can look forward to in the next few months is the much-anticipated “mini General Election”, in which the cloned minions of the political parties in our increasingly polarized system will battle it out for the top seat on campus – Kunsill Studenti Universitarji (KSU). Considering the epitome of intellectuality present at the highest education institution on the island, one would expect that the process involved to be an exemplary model for representative elections. However, the reality is that we cannot even seem to shake off the parasitic bi party mentality at university, shattering all hopes of ever ridding the country of this same malady.
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Both SDM and Pulse will take advantage of their less than transparent income to fund the sprouting of posters, pop up banners and stands. Lest we forget the tasteless printing of infinite amounts of manifestos containing their proposals. Year in year out, the election process is also blessed with a barrage of criticism from both internal and external sources, lambasting the meager turnout, which, although increasing steadily, is still indicative of an extremely disenchanted student population. We can also expect the Pulse faithful to blame their inability to elect a candidate on an unfair electoral system which is not truly representative, due to the fact that the students who vote for pulse are not given a voice in the council. Both will rally their minions into attending the KSU Annual General Meeting, kick starting the week-long campaign. As is Insite’s tradition at this time of the year, I have studied SDM’s manifesto from last year, in order to come up with a comprehensive list of ten of the most prominent proposals that are yet to be implemented:
THE INTRODUCTION OF AN “ART IN ACTION SPACE” WHICH WILL OFFER A PERMANENT SPACE IN WHICH STUDENTS CAN SHOWCASE VARIOUS TYPES OF ARTWORK CONVINCING THE UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION TO INTRODUCE ECTS CREDITS FOR WORK IN STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS REDUCING BUREAUCRACY IN THE UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION INCREASING THE USE OF VLE GIVING STUDENTS THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE ABLE TO RESIT EXAMS FAILED IN THE JANUARY SESSION IN JUNE INSTEAD OF SEPTEMBER
6 7 8 9 10
INTRODUCING THE KSU CULTURE CARD WHICH WOULD ALLOW STUDENTS CERTAIN BENEFITS SUCH AS REDUCED PRICES OR DISCOUNTS TO MANY LOCAL EVENTS AND MUSEUMS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR INTRODUCING A SYSTEM WHEREBY EXAM RESULTS ARE PUBLISHED IN THE ORDER OF THEIR ECTS CREDIT VALUE INSTALLING OUTDOOR HEATERS AT QUADRANGLE (Parallels can be drawn with the 2012 electoral promise to renovate Quadrangle, which eventually degenerated into a design competition on Facebook and which nobody has heard anything about in a while)
INTRODUCING A RENT A BIKE SCHEME INTRODUCING A FIRST COME FIRST SERVE PARKING SCHEME WHEREBY STUDENTS WOULD BE ABLE TO PARK IN ANY SPACE AFTER 12PM
I recently paid a visit to KSU’s office in students’ house and was told with great conviction that many of the above will actually be materializing in the coming months. I was told that discussions with the university administration were reaching positive conclusions. While diligently performing my journalistic duty in conducting the above research, I cannot help but notice a simultaneous sense of frustration at having given KSU the satisfaction of having done so. Reviews like this one are only made possible by the insistence to furnish our expectations with these lavish proposals. A recent mobile upload on the KSU Facebook page showed the executive gathered around the conference room table and the caption bluntly admitted that they were “holding a manifesto review meeting”. The befuddled looks on their faces said it all. Sleepless nights and heaps of time were being spent on trying to achieve these gargantuan tasks. With the downright perversion of the elections, KSU has been demeaned into an executive body that is bound by political accountability whose focus becomes achieving the goals set out in its manifesto, not only to save face in front of the meager turnout of the student population who voted for them, but also to allow the party who elected them to be able to stand a chance in the next election. Granted that some of the proposals may actually be beneficial to the student, but what I am criticizing here is the fallacy of having an electoral manifesto to adhere to in the first place. How can both Pulse and SDM hope to win students over and to increase participation when they continue with this self-defeating process year in year out.
Not to mention the sheer impossibility of some of the proposals. Being aware of this, candidates will try to get away with it by peppering their proposals with statements like “we will work to”, “we will ensure that”, “we will pressure the administration” as if admitting “we never said it would happen for sure, we just said we would keep trying”. Charming. Why not just have a one-page manifesto with the following five words placed strategically in the centre:
“WE WILL DO OUR JOB” An idealist student’s view of KSU should be a neutral student body that is willing to safeguard students’ rights and to be a voice for students in society even if it means going against the tide that is general opinion. Although the KSU statute supposedly guarantees the independence of the KSU executive, the attachment to a manifesto creates and maintains the link with a political party. After all, why should we be satisfied with a KSU whose main priority is solely fulfilling electoral promises? How can KSU expect to increase awareness and educate students about their work when the political motivations remain so deeply entrenched in everything they do? The sheer poignancy of the above behavior is self-evident. It is not befitting of the oldest students’ council in Europe. University politics just like politics in society in general does nothing but generate animosity, distrust and apathy among its conglomerates. Would it be too much to ask to have a council that worked solely for the benefit of the student without constantly having impending re-election and political expediency in mind?
EDUCATION AND GRADING IMITATION ORIGINALITY VS
LAST SUMMER I HAD THE UTMOST PLEASURE OF READING ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE BY ROBERT M. PIRSIG. AS I FERVENTLY TURNED PAGE AFTER PAGE, THE NARRATOR EASED INTO THE SUBJECT OF GRADING WITHIN THE EDUCATION SYSTEM. As I read on, a particular passage seemed to me to be making a statement incredibly bold, but perhaps, vastly shared by many as well, especially in these times when examinations have just passed: ‘Here in college, [imitation] was more sophisticated, of course; you were supposed to imitate the teacher in such a way as to convince the teacher you were not imitating, but taking the essence of instruction and going ahead with it on your own. That got you A’s. Originality on the other hand could get you anything from A to F. The whole grading system cautioned against it.’ Therein lays the dilemma: are grades a motivator or a defiler of creativity? And the fulcrum of the entire issue is this; will studying hard to get good grades ever serve you outside of the lecture-hall and the university campus grounds? This perhaps is too great and encompassing a question to answer in a few paragraphs; but we will try to explore it nonetheless. If grades are a hangman’s noose around originality, then are they really worth it? Education seems stifled when it is reduced to a few lines on a Curriculum Vitae, whereas it should be taken as a life-changing inspiring medium which allows us to mature, to learn new skills, and teaches us critical thinking. But when stress and expectation take the place of real education, then is the grading system really a mechanism which should still be so paramount? The reality is that grades are often not a holistic measure of what a person is truly capable of or whether they are actually competent at doing their job. Big companies
like Google stress that their employers must have a certain ‘Googleyness’ as they themselves call it, the thing which ‘makes you, well, you’, something which cannot be identified from a grade point average (GPA). However, pragmatically speaking, grades are indeed something that employers look at when it comes to most occupations. They are not the only thing that is scrutinised, but they are a significant factor. We must keep in mind that even if grades are not an apt reflection of the originality of an individual, they are a reflection of some qualities which necessarily are a part of high achievement, such as selfdiscipline and skilful time-management; all good traits to have when pursuing a career. In the U.S.A., major law firms and businesses are constantly on the hunt for the country’s highest GPAs; to them, it becomes a matter of reputation and therefore a matter of prestige. In conclusion to this small and excessively generalised overview, which will hopefully still instigate the grinding of mental gears over what we should really want out of our University experience, we can say that those who actively and vigorously pursue high grades have every cause for doing so. Yet, it would be a grave mistake to equate a student’s worth with their test-score sheet. Grades mean something, but do not mean everything. This is, perhaps, a valuable thing to keep in mind at these times.
LIFE IN WATERCOLOUR STUDYING PHARMACY AND BEING AN ARTIST MAY SOUND LIKE AN INCOMPATIBLE COMBINATION. CLAIRE FARRUGIA WHO PAINTS UNDER THE NAME BREATHE MANAGES TO DO BOTH EXQUISITELY. INSITE MET UP WITH HER FOR A QUICK CHAT ABOUT HER WORK AND HER FUTURE PROSPECTS Can you tell us more about yourself? What are you currently doing? I am currently in my 4th year reading for the M.Pharm degree. What first inspired you to start drawing, and for how long have you been drawing? As clichĂŠd as it may sound I have been drawing ever since I could hold a crayon. My grandfather had always encouraged me and kept all of my drawings where he could see them every day, which served as my motivation. Did you ever study art or was it just a side hobby? Do you ever intend on studying it properly? How often do you paint and draw? It started off as a hobby since I was always studying sciences, but I sat for my Art O-level anyway. I later attended lessons at the School of Art and from then I went for the occasional art course given by different teachers. These experiences helped me learn more about different techniques, and by doing so I created my own style. My intention is to pursue art properly once I graduate.
I am constantly sketching, but painting really depends on free time and stress levels. Usually, the more stressed I am, the more I need to draw. So yes, during the exam period I paint more than I study. Most of your works are based on the human figure, especially on faces and facial features. How were you drawn into depicting people? When looking at someone, we see their outer beauty which I try to incorporate in my work. I share a passion for drawing the eyes because they allow you to read through an individual and I enjoy trying to understand how life looks through their eyes, or rather how they choose to see the world. A lot of your works give a sense of fantasy and wonder, especially those drawn in bright colours. Where do you get your inspiration from and how did you develop such a style? Iâ€™d have to say music is a huge inspiration, in fact you can see a number of music notes in my works. Music manages to changes the way we feel and perceive things.
Your choice of artistic medium is almost always watercolours. Watercolours are not the easiest to work with... why are they preferred, and have you ever experimented properly with other media such as acrylics and oil? I decided to start working with watercolours just for the challenge. Everyone goes on about how difficult they are and how mistakes made in watercolours cannot be removed. I guess I just wanted to see for myself. I obviously also love their freshness and the fact that they don’t take too long to dry is a bonus. And yes, I have worked with a number of different media: acrylics, aquarelles, graphite, pastels, and recently oils. In fact, I would love to work more with oils in the near future. Do you think that drawing is a talent or do you believe that it is through dedication and practice that good artistic skills are acquired? That’s a tricky question… Yes and no I guess. There are always things which will be difficult for a person, but easy for the other. However, I believe that if someone wants something bad enough and is passionate about it, more efforts will be made. We are our own obstacles.
Have you ever exhibited your work anywhere? If yes, how were your works received? The only time my works were exhibited was when I participated in competitions. I’m afraid that I lack the funds required to hold an exhibition. However, the few times my works were exhibited in public some people were quite intrigued by them and I got a great response. For the time being, I am trying to use Facebook as a platform to exhibit my works. What is your opinion on the artistic art scene in Malta (as a whole)? Do you think that the government is doing enough to promote the artistic sector and local artists? As my course has nothing to do with the Arts section I am usually not as updated regarding any promotional activities in the artistic sector. However I have noticed that the popularity of a number of events like ‘Patches’ and ‘Comic Con’ are attracting quite a number of followers which I think is fantastic. What are your plans for the future? My current aim is to graduate to and get my M.Pharm whilst drawing as much as possible. Once I get my M.Pharm I want to pursue art, and to learn more about techniques and different media which will help me follow my passion and grow as an artist. Claire’s work can be viewed on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/BreathebyClaire
MARIE CLAIRE FINGER
SMARTCARD WELL DESERVED FUNDS OR
RECKLESS STUDENT SPENDING? ALL MALTESE STUDENTS WHO CHOOSE TO PURSUE POST-SECONDARY AND TERTIARY EDUCATION ARE WELL AWARE OF THE FINANCIAL PERKS THAT SUCH A CHOICE BRINGS – NAMELY THE MONTHLY STIPEND AND THE STUDENT SMARTCARD.
The University of Malta [UoM] website defines the Smartcard as funds ‘intended to partly cover expenses related to educational material and equipment.’ It also states that Smart Cards are to be given to those students who are eligible to receive the stipend (post-secondary students and undergraduates) and that the amount of grant to which the students are entitled depends on the course being undertaken. While the main intentions of this initiative launched in 2001 were undoubtedly positive, the whole funding scheme has often been questioned throughout the years. Although easily perceived as ideal financial support to students at first glance, an in-depth study of the programme would certainly draw attention to a number of shortcomings and deficiencies. Despite this, these flaws have not gone unnoticed, especially by students who are currently benefitting, or have benefitted, from Smart Card funds. The most concerning issue seems to be the division of funds between students following
courses at a tertiary level. A number of courses that can be followed at the University of Malta, namely; PGCE (sciences), B.EDUC (sciences), B.ENG, B.SC Business and Computing, B.SC ICT, B.SC Mental Health, B.SC Nursing and some other B.SC courses (but not all), are listed as ‘prescribed’ courses. Both the University of Malta and the Students’ Maintenance Grants Board [SMGB] website fail to properly specify what is meant by a prescribed course, and the closest definition on one of the informative PDFs released online by the University Stipend Office is that these courses are ‘predominantly but not exclusively science based.’ In other words, this means that these courses are considered to be a priority for the development of the country by the government of Malta. This is where the fault seems to lie. Funds are not evenly distributed between the courses that seem to have the most expenses (books, equipment and other materials related to the course), but instead are given to students following prescribed courses to make them more likely to choose one of these
courses, and less likely for them to drop out half way through. Indeed, reference is being made to courses such as Medicine and Architecture. Where do we really stand when it comes to such courses? Is it fair to only give additional financial aid to courses considered a priority for Malta?
added particularly due to the fact ‘particularly due to the fact that purchases made by students using the SMG Smart Cards [were] not itemized. Therefore, there is no sufficient proof that funds are being used on educational material and equipment, as specified in the pertinent legislation.’
A closer look at actual statistics and statements by students themselves may prove otherwise. A case in point is the Architecture course which has a large amount of expenses. Several statements by both current and ex-students show the financial problems confronted by them every year. Materials for models, boards used for presentations and laptops that can handle software used by architects do not come cheap. The amount of printing involved each week is also high and each student is obliged to pay large amounts of money in order to be able continue the course. So how are students expected to get through the year if both Smartcard and the stipend do not even last for just one semester? Similar statements were made by other students following different courses who also faced problems when having to buy equipment required for their studies. Strangely enough, when questioned, other students admitted using their Smart Card for non-educational items, but then also showed concern towards other courses that require expensive equipment but receive fewer funds.
The report goes on to say that it is unclear whether shops in the scheme even stock educational items and questions how such shops were eligible to participate in the first place. It also raised doubts on the selling of sportswear using the Smart Card. It concluded that the monitoring carried out was inadequate and unsatisfactory due to a number of reasons, mainly the lack of fiscal receipts and transaction evidence, the choice of shops and poorly submitted reports. Although such statements by the Annual Audit Report question the proficiency of the SMGB itself, the outcome of the report still shows that a number of outlets still allow students to purchase non-educational items using their Smart Card. In April 2011, inspectors purchased 15 items using a Smart Card including a number of mobile top-up cards, fitness equipment, music compact discs, an entertainment magazine and a toy. When compared to April of the previous year, non-educational purchases were considered on the rise, since in 2010 only six items not falling within the scheme were purchased by inspectors.
In 2011, the Smart Card issue was brought up in local media when doubts were raised on reports produced by inspectors who were in charge of monitoring Smart Card purchases. The 2010 Annual Audit Report on Public Accounts stated that it considered ‘the administration and monitoring of the Scheme rather ineffective’ and that ‘the costs in administering the Scheme could be outweighing the benefits derived.’ It also
While some students find it hard to keep up with course expenses, others have been recklessly spending it on unrelated items. This begs the question: is it really that smart to give financial priority to prescribed courses rather than to courses with the most expenditure?
FEBRUARY IS KNOWN AS THE MONTH DEDICATED TO PAMPERING AND SHOWERING OUR LOVED ONES WITH GIFTS, BUT HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED ALSO LOVING YOURSELF ALL YEAR ROUND? Love for oneself may be achieved through many avenues, but the most important way is by taking a positive outlook and through performing daily tasks with good intentions. However, all efforts to be positive and to start the day off on a good note would be futile if we do not establish a “healthy” relationship with our own body. Our body is the portal for our mind over our actions. It is the vessel through which we must interact with the world around us. Just like any other machine or appliance, our body needs to be well oiled and well maintained to be able to function properly and reliably. Good health should therefore be a main priority for everyone! Staying healthy by finding the time to go out and exercise amidst our busy weekly schedules may seem like an arduous task for many of us. A good start would be trying to eat healthily, but even cooking healthy meals may be time consuming. However, with the increasing awareness nowadays, healthy products are easily available at convenience stores! One product, which guarantees a completely healthy alternative, is Smoochie! Smoochies are quickly becoming Malta’s favourite fruit drink – although there is a plethora of Smoothies on the market, none are like the Smoochie smoothies. Most other fruit drinks on sale undergo some sort of process in order to prolong shelf life. This inevitably alters the product’s nutritional value and strips it of most of its original nutrients.
Smoochies are not made with juice concentrates and come from a factory that uses around twelve different types of fruit – and with hundreds of tons then produces around 5,000 Smoochie drinks per week. Smoochies contain nothing but mashed fruit! Not even water is added! Great care is taken in the fruit selection process and the smoothies are kept cold to guarantee freshness. Sandra Zammit, mother of four and the founder of Smoochies insists that she would never do anything that’s not good for her own children, and the idea behind Smoochies started by wanting to give them the best. Sandra explains how marketing healthy food and drinks in Malta is rather difficult, so it is the goodness of the drink itself that makes the Smoochie so popular. With no elaborate marketing or advertising campaigns, her Smoochies sell because people realize that the care has been put into each and every bottle and in the world of mass production, this is a very rare quality. Although Smoochie drinks have become extremely popular with children and adults alike, and despite an increasing in health awareness campaigns in Malta, unhealthy living still remains a prominent problem in Malta. A change in mentality is very much needed, especially for the sake of younger generations who are continuously bombarded by fast food advertising!
FIFTY SHADES OF DULL
HEY THERE. I’M NIT, AND WELCOME TO ANOTHER MISANTHROPIC DAY IN THE LIFE OF A SLIGHTLY PRETENTIOUS MALTESE CITIZEN.
With the first semester finally over and Carnival just round the corner while post-exam alcoholic rampages are still being organized, February promises to be an even shorter blur by the end of the year than usual. After some ritualistic, suspiciously pagan-ish verifications with the position of the moon in the night sky to see when Easter Sunday 2014 is going to be celebrated, a couple of old people in fancy robes indirectly confirmed that this year we’re going to be looking at ending February with a bang (or two). This of course means added excuses to get drunk; the best possible news for the more “socially inclined” members of our society (see: escapism). While I’m sure that every clique has got its own creative methods for downing the copious amounts of alcohol around them – for God forbid they have a normal hearty conversation while they drink, like actual human beings – I thought I’d do my very best (which is characteristically rather negligible) to join in the festive spirit by suggesting a drinking game you can play during the Carnival weekend. This is for when you’re out and about with your own little costumes - I’m just going to go out on a limb here and assume that most of the people reading this are going to be in Nadur or at the very least in Gozo, because, you know, Originality and Nonconformity is the country’s motto. Whenever you see someone dressed up as Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke, a fox, or anyone in a hazmat suit, down the closest drink next to you. That’s it. Just four costumes and no additional rules – a very easy game to remember even as you down your fifteenth drink, probably somewhere around the four-minute mark. If you plan on really going all out, just throw in the clichéd group costumes in there as well; Smurfs, cavemen, long bearded, blackfaced Muslim terrorists (a costume that might even make Norman Lowell cringe), and don’t forget the Despicable Me minions. Guaranteed slobbering and stumbling results by the time you arrive in front of the Nadur Parish Church to join the annual congregation of like-minded (and probably like-dressed) freaks on the parvis.
It is at this point that the tiniest of voices inside of me starts to picture a situation where someone reading this actually considers playing along and ends up spending the night in a ditch somewhere. Needless to say, just in case you’ve been living under a rock and are new to this whole Nitpicker business, you do have to take everything I’ve just said with a pinch of salt (Except the alcohol. Don’t take alcohol with a pinch of salt. No seriously, don’t.) More and more people keep getting born on this tiny spit of an island we call a country, and we keep getting slowly but steadily pushed against each other. If we’re going to be soon living like sardines, can we at least still keep the imagination of human beings? I’m not asking people to go obscurely old school in their references and dress up as Sinead O’Connor when she tore up a picture of the Pope on stage on 3rd October 1992 on Saturday Night Live, carrying around a couple of copies of the picture for authenticity and dramatic effect. I’m also not expecting costume representations of abstract things (how awesome would it be though if you asked someone what he was dressed up as and he just looks back at you and answers, “Nostalgia”?). Hell, I don’t even expect anyone to go as me… props to the guy in the green morphsuit who says he’s dressed up as the Nitpicker though, give that guy a cookie. There is a whole beautiful area between blindly conforming to the mainstream and going out of your way to be completely different and eventually doing it wrong and ending up worse anyway. That big space is reserved for people who are ready (and able) to truly express themselves, and it’s one of the only spaces in Malta that’s big enough for all of us. This of course goes beyond the relatively trivial decision of what costume you’re going to decide to get sick all over by the end of the night, but a bit of periodic context never hurt anybody. So in case it’s too late now for this holiday and you want to show everyone the hard work you went through to build a papiermâché wrecking ball, try to keep this in mind the next time you’re given artistic freedom to publically show yourself in a different light. If not for yourself, do it for that one guy who’ll groan and be forced to down yet another drink as soon as you walk past.
What is the idea behind Babettopolis? Babettopolis is all about custom oneoffs. Under the brand name I create unique pieces of clothing, hats, bags, accessories and some homeware too whilst making sure I recycle and updo as much as possible. I have lately been dedicating a lot of time to restructuring and altering vintage pieces and family heirlooms – a task which in turn teaches me a lot about under-construction and caring for clothing.
COLOUR, CREATIVITY & INNOVATION
MARIA MUSCAT, THE MIND BEHIND BABETTOPOLIS, TALKS TO RACHEL POWELL ABOUT HOW RECYCLED MATERIAL, THE RAW-MATERIAL FOR HER CREATIONS, CAN BE TURNED INTO EXQUISITE FASHION MASTERPIECES.
Why did you choose this career? Mainly because it never really felt like a career ‘move’. I never really sat down to decide on a particular career path, in fact I still often catch myself dreaming about becoming something else entirely. All in all I consider myself lucky enough to be one of very few people who wake up in the morning feeling all excited about the prospect of work. What inspired you when creating this style? There’s no way I can actually pin-point what exactly went into the making of my ‘style’ (if such a thing actually exists). I do know however, that all the movies, books and music I come across somewhat feeds into what I create. However if you’re busy making things you seldom have time to stop and analyse your sources for too long.
To see more of Maria Muscat’s work kindly visit her page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/babettopolis
How long does it usually take you to construct a piece? The time frame for each piece is as unique as the piece itself. There’s no one answer to this question. It suffices to say that it is what one would expect, doubled, and with a couple more hours thrown in for good measure (pun intended). Nowadays, most have grown accustomed to buying readymade items off the rack so the fact that made-tomeasure items can take weeks to finish well has What is the general process become an altogether alien concept. you go through to design and realize a piece of clothing? I design according to the wearer’s need or to suit my whimsy. I design things I like and can thankfully say I’ve made very few things which I regret. I also use a lot of old pieces of textile that I fish out from charity shops and flea markets, and then, Where do you get your fabrics and other depending on the intended wearer sewing materials? I suggest styles that can travel with Some people who wish to get things made them for years to come. The actual actually bring their own material but for drafting out of the pattern, cutting personal use I often resort to my stash of of the material, pinning, fittings, and hand-me downs, salvaged second hand pieces, overall sewing time varies with each fabric I pick up from wherever I’m travelling, piece but the most time-consuming and pieces with more story to them if you will. part is also my favourite part of all: the I rarely buy online because I find it a pity to not embellishment, that is the beading, use whatever’s already at hand. embroidery, trims etc.
Which is your latest creation? I literally just finished working on a yellow dress of pure Thai silk with locally-bought cobalt blue linen trim. It has a fitted bodice and a pleated panel over a long pencil skirt and it’s one of those pieces that is going to be really hard for me to give away. The material is so delicate and required a lot of sewing by hand, so that makes it all the more special as a dress. Which is your favourite creation? This is just unfair. For some reason, every interviewer asks this. I will spare you the cheesy metaphoric parallel that is referring to your creations as your children, but just think about it; sewing is pretty much backbreaking work that’s tough on the eyes and the hands. Unless you believe that the piece you’re working on at the moment is your absolute favourite then it’s difficult to muster up enough energy to pursue it, day after day. So, in a bid to answer in short, I’d say that every current project is my favourite.
What does the future hold for Babettopolis? More of the same, I hope; but also, perhaps, more interesting collaborations and if I’m really lucky, an atelier I can call my own. But before that I’m looking forward to honing some more skills and actually setting some time aside to get my website up and running. 13
NOW WITH THE COMPLETE LINE-UP OF SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY MATCHED TO ITS STUNNING “KODO – SOUL OF MOTION” DESIGN, THE LATEST GENERATION OF MAZDA’S ALL-TIME BESTSELLER IS DESTINED TO SURPASS EXPECTATIONS. Remarkably economical and safe despite its outstanding performance this is sustainable Zoom- Zoom at its best yet. As the first Mazda to bring occupants online, safely and nonstop with MZD Connect, its new in-vehicle connectivity system, coupled with a new and improved human-machine interface (HMI) promises maximum safety.
designed with the highest priority placed on driving safety. A wide range of Mazda’s i-ACTIVSENSE advanced active safety technologies aid the driver in recognizing and avoiding hazards. Mazda has consistently aimed to offer customers driving pleasure and this compelling package ensures the allnew Mazda3 is no exception.
The redesigned Mazda3 is the third in Mazda’s new generation of products that adopt both the KODO - Soul of Motion design theme and the full-suite of SKYACTIV Technologies. The sports compact that will redefine driving pleasure will be launched around the globe, with sales starting in North American markets.
The global engine line-up includes a newly-developed SKYACTIV-G 1.5 liter gasoline engine in addition to 2.0 and 2.5 liter engines and a 2.2 liter clean diesel engine. The line-up will be optimized for each market to meet the diverse needs of a wide variety of customers around the world.
Thanks to the dynamic expressions of KODO design, the Mazda3 suggests exhilarating driving at first glance. In addition, SKYACTIV Technology delivers a “jinba-ittai” experience of oneness between car and driver which deepens with every mile driven. Introduced for the first time with the 3rd generation Mazda3 is a new car connectivity system that broadens the scope of that driving experience. The system features a new Human Machine Interface (HMI) that is
Since the launch of the first generation in 2003, more than 3.5 million Mazda3s have been sold around the world. It is the best-selling model in the Mazda lineup and accounts for a third of the company’s annual global sales. Previous generations of the Mazda3 were acclaimed in markets around the world for their emotive design, responsive and enjoyable driving, environmental and safety performance, and excellent craftsmanship. The model has received 136 awards globally.
GasanZammit Motors Ltd. With its centre located at the state-of-the-art premises in Mriehel, GasanZammit Motors Ltd, the newly merged automotive and marine company, sets standards within its industry with a portfolio of world renowned brands namely , Capelli, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Isuzu, Jaguar, Mazda, Volvo and Yamaha. Housing an impressive nine brands that cover the automotive and marine sectors, the new GasanZammit facility in Mriehel is supported by a fully equipped and modern vehicle servicing centre, which includes an array of manufacturer-specific computerised systems. These systems comprise of engine diagnosis and fault-finding apparatus, brake testers, wheel balancing systems and more. Other departments encompassing GasanZammit, are a body and spray shop and a fully stocked parts department responsible for the sourcing, purchasing and wholesaling of original vehicle parts and accessories for all the marques represented. 14
P IS FOR PERU ANNABEL HILI
PERU IS ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR BACKPACKING DESTINATIONS IN THE WORLD. ANNABEL HILI SHARES HER EXPERIENCE WITH US WITH THIS COMPREHENSIVE A-Z LIST OF WHAT TO EXPECT IN THE SOUTH AMERICAN GEM. It’s the Altitude Most major cities in Peru are at high altitudes (think 2500m+), which is a far cry from what we islanders are used to. Altitude sickness can be very unpleasant, causing nausea, headaches and lethargy. Take it easy for the first few days and you’ll acclimatize in no time.
Incredible Incas Peru is the perfect place to learn all about the ancient Inca civilization. A guided tour of Machu Pichu feels like a largerthan-life history lesson – just make sure you get there early to beat the crowds!
Buses, boat rides and borders Peru borders Chile and Bolivia to the south, Brazil to the east, and Colombia and Ecuador to the north. Take advantage of your neighbours and pop over to a new place, even if it’s just for a few days!
Jungle With the Amazon on its doorstep, Peru is the perfect place to experience a few days in the jungle. Staying in a wooden hut on stilts with only two hours of electric power per day, you’ll forget about creature comforts and become immersed in the wilderness. Go piranha fishing, watch the most beautiful sunrise and watch out for the alligators!
Colonial Architecture Being a former Spanish colony, several Peruvian cities are heavily influenced by Western architecture, and you will see churches and buildings built in Renaissance, Baroque and even Neoclassical styles. Desert The desert in southwestern Peru has a lot to offer the adventurous traveller: Head to Huacachina for a spot of sandboarding, or visit the mysterious Nazca Lines, which are best viewed from a plane. Expenses While South America is known to be more expensive than South East Asia as a backpacking destination, it’s relatively easy to keep costs down as long as you keep the shopping to a minimum and stick to budget hostels for food and accommodation. Flying While buses are the most common form of transport, sometimes catching an internal flight can save you hours and a very uncomfortable and winding journey. Check out all the options well in advance to get the best deal. 20
Guides and guidebooks Grab a Lonely Planet and get reading – LP and similar guidebooks offer invaluable insight into a country and can help you decide what kind of trip to plan. Hostels are your home Love them or hate them, hostels are the best option when you’re on a budget and can be a great way to make friends, especially when you’re travelling alone! While you might hate the idea of sleeping in the same room as seven strangers, you’ll probably find you miss it when you go home. Promise.
Lake Titicaca On the border between Peru and Bolivia, the highest navigable body of water in the world and the largest lake in South America is definitely worth a visit. Take a boat trip to one of the islands and spend the night in rural surroundings.
Quinoa Quinoa only hit our shores a few years ago, but has been a staple food in South America for centuries. Sample local dishes like quinoa soup as well as other traditional delicacies like lomo saltado (a meat and potato dish), aji de gallina (a chicken stew) and even roast guinea pig if you can stomach it! Roam around One of the best ways to explore a city is to roam the streets on foot. Cities like Arequipa and Lima are home to stunning examples of colonial architecture, while Cuzco has more of a country feel to it. You’ll be surprised at where a halfhour wander could take you – just remember to stick to safe, well-lit areas especially at night.
Markets Markets are a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture, and you’ll find one in practically every town. You’ll find everything from llama fetuses to woolly socks, and a million things in between! You can also eat like a local, and at local prices too – a soup, fish or meat, lentils and rice cost around 5 Sol (around 2 Euro). New friends Whether you are traveling solo or with a group, when you’re backpacking new faces become best friends in a matter of minutes. Luckily in the digital age it’s become easier and easier to keep in touch with friends all over the globe, so a one-time hostel roommate could become a lifelong friend. Open your mind Travelling to a far-flung country means being exposed to a totally new culture, language, landscape and lifestyle. Keep an open mind and embrace the unfamiliar, and respect the way of life. Pack light Remember, as a backpacker you’ll have to carry everything you have on your back, so think twice about packing those straighteners, seven volumes of Harry Potter and your hot water bottle.
Speak the language While in bigger cities you’re likely to encounter English-speaking Peruvians, venture off the beaten track and you might find Spanish is your only option. Grab your phrasebook and put your language skills to the test! Useful phrases include Una cerveza, por favor (A beer, please). Otra mas (One more) might come in handy too! Trekking Peru is home to the Inca Trail, one of the world’s most famous treks, as well as others like the Colca Canyon – an intense 2 or 3 day foray into the wilderness of one of the world’s deepest gorges.
Unreliable The South American lifestyle is very laid back, so don’t expect everything to run like clockwork. Things like transport can be a bit unreliable, so be patient and just go with it, and leave plenty of connection time in between trips with more than one leg. Vicunas …and llamas, alpacas and guanacos! Look out for them casually grazing by the roadside on long drives and even chilling out on the grass at Machu Picchu. Their wool is used to make jumpers, scarves, socks and other garments. Vicuna wool is the softest and finest, comparable to cashmere, and also the most expensive. Alpaca is a more budget-friendly option. Wing it While some travellers will say planning is half the fun, on a backpacking trip sometimes the best way to go is spontaneously. There’s nothing more exciting than arriving in a new country with no idea where you’ll end up in a week! X-treme sports You can try out loads in Peru – from bungee jumping to white water rafting and ziplining to mountain biking. Young…and young at heart Backpacking is pretty addictive, so don’t be surprised if you meet a couple of older-than-average travellers… Whether they’re finding themselves after a mid-life crisis or have been in the same hostel bar since 1979, the resident ‘older’ backpacker is probably a lot of fun so make friends! Zipline Imagine being suspended in mid air, hanging from a steel wire…now look down. More than 200m below you, the Urubamba river flows as far as the eye can see, flanked by imposing green mountains. Factor in the wind blowing through your hair and the adrenaline rush as you fly across the valley and there you have it: Ziplining!
TIMELESS MUSICAL HITS THE THEATRE FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, BASED ON THE BOOK “TEVYE AND HIS DAUGHTERS” BY SHELDON HARNICK, IS A MUSICAL ABOUT TRADITION, RACISM AND FAMILY, WITH ALL THE RIGHT INGREDIENTS TO MAKE FOR AN EXCITING EVENING AT THE THEATRE. VIKESH GODHWANI SPEAKS TO PRODUCER AND PROTAGONIST, EDWARD MERCIECA ABOUT STAGING A MUSICAL OF SUCH A GREAT CALIBRE AND ABOUT THE PRESSURES OF PLAYING SUCH AN ICONIC CHARACTER.
This is FM’s first big musical since Hairspray so it’s been some time now since you’ve ventured into musical theatre. As a producer how does your approach differ when it comes to choosing the right musical, the cast etc. Is it a more tedious process? Is it more rewarding than when you stage a small play or are there pros and cons either way? Well as a producer you are weighing various factors when choosing what to produce. These factors include economics, relevance, popularity of the title, technical difficulties when staging in terms of set, costumes, special effects, theatre availability and of course casting. Obviously, producing a full scale musical like Fiddler or Hairspray is a much bigger task than producing a small two hander at St. James. The challenges are different and both have advantages and disadvantages but as a producer you need to satisfy the audience’s demands and both types of productions need to be part of one’s portfolio.
Why did you decide on Fiddler on the Roof? Fiddler seemed to have the most relevance in Malta today. It deals with people displacement, (think refugees) and racism; a demon that has raised its ugly head in the last couple of years in Malta. It also deals with family values and how they fit into a changing society with strong traditions. Also the Jewish psyche and the Maltese psyche bear a strong resemblance and it is very easy to identify with what is happening in Anatevka. Fiddler on the Roof is one of those musicals that seem to be timeless. Why do you think it has stood the test of time and so many years after its conception it is still being staged? As previously stated, the points it treats are timeless and have been part of history for centuries.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT? The musical follows Tevye, the father of five daughters, as he attempts to hold onto his family and Jewish religious traditions, even as society is changing. He must deal with his strong-willed daughters and with the edict of the Tsar that evicts the Jews from their village.
Why do you think people should come to watch “Fiddler on The Roof” when this theatrical season is filled with exciting productions? How is Fiddler different? It too is an exciting production with a stellar cast and wonderful music, a great storyline with as much comedy as there is tragedy, a rollercoaster of emotions which grab you and hit you in between the eyes! What more could an audience want?
Family is central to the story, especially in terms of your character. Tell us a little bit about the importance that your character gives to family values. Tevye is trying to keep his family together as any father does. I know, I have three adult children of my own. He has to deal with separation (that is heart breaking), and he also disowns a daughter because of his faith (how hard is that?). Being the man he is, he is stoic but inside he is bleeding. Tevye clearly shows the trials and tribulations of being a parent.
Has the process been a smooth one so far? How are the cast feeling about it? The process has been as smooth as one expects when producing a musical of this magnitude. There is a cast and crew and musicians of around 60! The cast are VERY excited to perform this great musical for the Maltese public.
What is the most enjoyable part and most challenging aspect about playing this character? I love his humour most, it is typically Jewish, but as I said earlier, completely in synch with Maltese humour. Most challenging is the size of the part but I love playing him!
Tevye is all about keeping in touch with one’s traditional values. How traditional are you as a person? Do you connect to Tevye on this level? I connect with Tevye on many levels; he has been one of my heroes ever since I saw the film in the late sixties. His relationship with God should be the bench mark for everyone on this planet!
Do you feel any added pressure in playing Tevye since he is such an iconic character? Of course, people are going to compare me mostly to Topol in the movie version. That’s fine though, I think I can hold my own! (says he modestly!) What do you think are his most universal traits? Why do you think people will form a connection with him? His down to earth humanity is laid bare for all to see, how can you not connect with him?
The Musical will be staged at the Manoel Theatre on the 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 28th February and on the 1st and 2nd March. For booking access www.teatrumanoel.com.mt . Chris Gatt, Kris Spiteri and Mariza Baldachhino are artistic director, musical director and choreographer respectively.
SOCIAL NETWORKING DIONNE TARYN GATT
TO COMMUNICATE OR TO RIDICULE?
Today’s technological advances and means allow people to create and share any type of information easily online more than ever before. While this is a huge step forward, misusing such tools (sometimes unintentionally) can often lead to cases of cyber bullying and ridicule. A case in point is a particular advert that was recently uploaded online with the intention of promoting Maltese agriculture. The sharing of the video went viral as many of us Maltese, were making fun of the questionable English used by the person interviewed in the video (even though a lot of us could have probably not done much better), and were also stating that such a video was shameful for Malta and our culture. Although such behaviour could have somewhat been expected, the case soon went out of hand when social networking sites turned into a stage for stand-up comedians who started sharing their spectacularly ‘original’ jokes about the video. In my humble opinion, one of the first things that we must learn is to make a distinction between videos that are specifically made to be humorous and those which are not. Laughing once at something which was not meant to be funny is one thing, ridiculing and making a person’s life a misery is another. That, in my opinion, is an embarrassment to your country, and not the video. Thankfully enough, such a case was harmless. Delving further into the world of social networking can make us
“BAD NEWS TRAVELS FAST”, BUT IN MALTA IT TRAVELS IN FASTER. OWING TO OUR MINUTE SIZE AND POPULATION, WHEN COMPARED TO OTHER COUNTRIES, WE ARE CERTAINLY MORE PRONE TO FAST-SPREADING GOSSIP, ESPECIALLY THROUGH ONLINE NETWORKING SITES. UNFORTUNATELY, MANY REMAIN UNAWARE OF THE AFTER AFFECTS OF SUCH CASES ON THE LIVES OF THOSE INVOLVED.
realise that some cases do indeed have serious consequences. As most of us might now, many are often condemned once they come to light, both locally and abroad. However, this usually happens once the damage has already been done. It is quite distressing that such cases often involve youths, most of the time both naive and gullible to the World Wide Web which they have at their fingertips. Nevertheless, it is quite shocking how we form part of a society that traditionally boasts about its generous and caring population, but realistically has the capacity to crush the self-esteem and reputation of those most vulnerable. Yet, sometimes I believe that our society is not to blame: Does our close-minded perception of reality even allow us to think differently? Do we even know better? Is all of this being caused due to our access to social networking? The situation is not only getting worse but it is further spiralling down to a point of no return. People seem to relish the idea of judging anything which happens around them by posting strongly opinionated posts online and creating supposedly amusing memes and pages regarding the matter at hand without even taking the victim’s perspective into consideration. While social networking has become an indispensable means of communication, we must not underestimate the damage that it can cause. Harmless jokes are one thing, judging and ridiculing is another.
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ARE ENVIORNMENTAL ISSUES BEING CURBED ETHICALLY? 20%
THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION RECENTLY ANNOUNCED THAT THE 2020 CARBON EMISSION REDUCTION LESS CARBON EMISSIONS TARGETS ARE NO LONGER APPLICABLE TO MEMBER STATES. 40% MAINLY DUE TO THE FACT THAT THE REQUIRED REDUCTION OF 20% HAS ALREADY BEEN ACHIEVED COMMUNALLY. THE REVISED ENERGY AND CLIMATE POLICY NOW DEMANDS THAT, BY THE YEAR 2030, THE EU SHOULD ATTAIN A 40% DECREASE IN CARBON EMISSIONS AND HAVE 27% OF ITS ENERGY COMING FROM RENEWABLE SOURCES, AMONGST OTHER AIMS.
Also, this time round the EU is not allowing carbon reduction through payment of foreign projects such as through carbon trading. There is no denying that these new targets, together with others set by international protocols, are positive steps towards global sustainability. However, one should question why member states are not bound individually to this plan. The fact that each nation is free to set its own objectives is essentially unfair and discriminatory and to a certain extent unethical. How exactly is a twenty-eight nation strong union supposed to tackle such vital aims in equal proportion, without guidelines to ensure their respective commitment? A few countries, namely Germany, have already stepped up their initiatives for renewable energy use and have also excelled at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Should countries such as Germany have to take on a greater environmental responsibility while others maintain minimal efforts? The communal goals shall probably be accomplished by the deadline, but does burden sharing come into play? Despite these uncertainties, the European Union Climate Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, has insisted that these revised, generalist goals are the only realistic solution. Then again, it seems that ethical measures are not the norm when striving to be cost-effective. If avoiding a loss of investors (such as energy companies) entails freeing nations from strict targets, motivation will surely be lacking. And 26
if as a result a global two degree Celsius increase occurs earlier than forecasted, it would be unsurprising to see the public lambast their governments for being complacent. By then it will be too late. With the relatively unknown effects and climatic shifts this seemingly small increase in temperature could bring us, implementing realistic measures which motivate member states should not be a matter of choice â€“ especially for the EU. It has been leading worldwide negotiations on climate and environmental sustainability, and has supported this cause through numerous projects mostly across Europe, such as the ongoing LIFE+ funding programs. The Commission has received boundless criticism generously from NGOs, and perhaps this will inspire them to rethink these latest solutions, which are plainly forging ahead and postponing environmental protection for economic sustainability. Social and environmental sustainability are equally important and should be given impartial attention. Hopefully, through experience and determination, the EU shall embrace these issues more seriously and realistically in the near future by binding member states to proportionate targets. Such measures should be enforced not only for our own sake, but for all the biodiversity around us. We are by no means superior to nature, but an inherent part of it. It is our duty to ethically manage and protect it from its greatest danger: ourselves.
COULD YOU BE THE NEXT ZUCKERBERG?
AS CLICHÉD AS IT MAY SOUND, HAVING AN EXCELLENT DEGREE AND COUNTLESS POSTNOMINAL LETTERS WILL NOT NECESSARILY GUARANTEE YOU A SECURE DREAM JOB. THE LIST OF SUCCESSFUL FIGURES FROM RECENT HISTORY THAT NEVER GRADUATED, OR DID NOT ATTAIN TERTIARY EDUCATION, IS ENDLESS. BUT THIS DOES NOT IMPLY THAT SETTING ASIDE FORMAL ACADEMICS IS ALWAYS THE BEST PATHWAY. Geniuses and idolized entrepreneurs who contributed heavily to modern civilization, such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein or Sir Richard Branson, may have discarded formal education but they still valued the importance of learning and progressing, even if through unconventional means. The same goes for several 21st century influential individuals, be it whether in technology, business or the arts, whose fortitude, and at times sheer luck, helped them achieve beyond what they could have ever imagined, without the need to attend university. Mark Zuckerberg is probably the first case in point that comes to mind. Apart from having an Academy Award nominated movie made about him, the mind behind Facebook has become the most powerful man in social networking. It is hard to believe that just ten years ago, he was about to leave Harvard, to dedicate himself full time to what would become an online empire. Other websites or software programmes accessed by millions of users, including Tumblr, DropBox, and Blogger also know their existence to the minds and computers of teenagers or college dropouts. It is not only these “tech heads” that have prospered by putting an abrupt end to their tertiary education. Many others turned to the Hollywood and show business. This includes directors such as Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino and James Cameron, to movie stars Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks
and Brad Pitt, to respected musicians Christina Aguilera, Elton John. None of them would dare to consider their classroom desk to have contributed to their numerous milestones. In reality though, most of us would agree that education does make a huge difference in having a successful career, and it is quite senseless to quit school early. University life is an amazing experience because it helps in character formation, realizing one’s ultimate goals and gaining an irreplaceable connection to employers. Unfortunately, today the latter often consider past experience and relevant skills to be more important than academic qualifications in searching for prospective workers. But the combination of both formal education and life experiences are the true key to permanent success, especially if one is not capable of being as fearless as the afore mentioned, in completely discarding University studies. Working hard in order to get a degree is in itself a courageous step closer towards fulfilling your goals, but confidence and determination, irrespective of your academic standing, are equally imperative. Simply remember that, if after trying your hardest to reach the top, and you still cannot get there, you can always make your way up unconventionally, be it by taking a gap year, working full time or going out on a limb and giving your own creative ventures a go. However, learning shouldn’t be brushed aside because as famously stated by American philosopher John Dewey: “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”
VICTORIA MELITA ZAMMIT
ARE YOU PART OF IT? IN TODAY’S MODERN SOCIETY, WHERE THINGS HAVE SUPPOSEDLY MOVED FORWARD FROM THE DAYS OF OLD – OF SINGLE MOTHERS BEING FROWNED UPON BY SOCIETY, OF HOMOSEXUALITY BEING ILLEGAL, AND THE WORD ‘ATHEIST’ CONSIDERED TO BE A PROFANITY - IT IS APPALLING THAT ONE THING STILL REMAINS PROMINENT. Rape Culture is the belief that it is the victim’s fault, rather than the rapist’s, for what happened. Can provocative clothing or acts justify rape? Does playing hard to get mean that the victim was asking for it? To that, the answer should be a resounding ‘No’. The phrase ‘asking for it’, in this context, is already the wrong choice of words. The definition of rape, as given by dictionaries, is ‘to force sexual intercourse or other sexual activity upon someone without their consent’. Students at the New College of Florida recently made a series of posters which show the exact meaning of ‘consent’ in different ways. The series includes a poster that says ‘Only an informed, sober, freely-given, ongoing, enthusiastic ‘Yes!’ is consent’. So how can we say that the victim was ‘asking for it’ when rape is something that you don’t even want? Rape Culture creates an environment where it’s OK to make jokes about rape, where it’s not a big deal when someone gets raped, and where we question the victim’s actions rather than the attacker’s. Such a culture also normalises rape in the media. A recent example is Robert Thicke’s song, ‘Blurred Lines,’ whose lyrics have been considered offensive and harassing to women since they are about how the lines between consent and rape are ‘blurred.’ (“I know you want it.” No, Mr Thicke. I really don’t.) What Rape Culture does, though, isn’t just trivialize the victim’s experience, and make it seem like it was their fault, but it also makes every other woman in the world feel unsafe. In fact, a recent news story shows how these double standards do exist outside of every day life: in July of 2013, a Norwegian woman in Dubai was jailed after admitting to being raped by a colleague while under the influence of alcohol. Due to the incredibly strict laws surrounding alcohol consumption in this country, it was justifiable that she be put to trail for breaking one of the laws. But why not confront the man who raped her?
More often than not, women who are raped would have been minding their own business in a public space, and not necessarily wearing anything that is considered sexy or provoking. Victims are more likely to be raped by someone they know and/or trust – a family member, a good friend, a class mate, a person of authority. In fact, In the United States, 38% of rape occurs between the victim and a friend or acquaintance, 26% by complete strangers, another 26% by current or former partners and 7% by a relative. In the United Kingdom, 85,000 women a year are raped in England and Wales alone, and 1 in 5 women (aged 16-59) report experiencing some form of sexual violence at least once since the age of 16. We can see through various cases that the situation is truly bad, and that the victim’s plight is overlooked most of the time. Last September, an Indian girl set her rapist on fire after he was released from jail with minimal repercussions for what he did to her. In 2012, a 17-year-old from Missouri, USA was found ‘not guilty’ after raping and videotaping a 14-year-old cheerleader who was drunk. In France, 11-year-old girl raped by her father was told by the authorities that the only way he could be arrested was if she had hard evidence. While locally, it was discovered last December that a Maltese 11-year-old had been continuously raped by a Libyan man throughout 2010. In addition to this, there are countless other incidents internationally that are rarely heard of. Does this all mean that the victim is to blame if the rapist was a family member? Is it really the victim’s fault that their account of rape is considered a lie? Whose fault is it when a victim fails to find support and comfort after such a terrible experience?
This brings us to another aspect of Rape Culture: the fact that friendship with a male is sometimes mistaken for wanting something more. Then, when the advances are rejected, women are often accused of being cold and of attempting to ‘friendzone’ the man. Is this culture implying that a woman secretly desires every man she’s friends with? One way to tackle Rape Culture is through education. While we are told that rape is bad and that consent is important, men are also told that women ‘play hard to get’ or that chasing a girl until she says yes is supposedly ‘romantic’, when in reality this is also enforcing the idea that women owe men something, or that a woman who says ‘no’ should never be taken seriously. A quote that has been circulating online says that people should be taught that masculinity is not “measured by power over others” and laughing at jokes about rape or abuse is disrespectful. It also says that “a lack of ‘No’ does not mean ‘Yes’, that if a woman is too drunk to consent [men] shouldn’t touch her, and that dating someone – or even being married to someone – does not mean automatic consent”. The quote concludes that women have every right to say no to the man they’re with, or to say ‘yes’ one time and then ‘no’ the next.
“Psychologists have found that people’s belief in a just world helps explain how they react to innocent victims of negative life circumstances. People become cognitively frustrated when presented with stories of victims who suffer through little fault of their own. They can deal with this frustration in two ways: they can conclude that the world is an unjust place, or they can decide that the victim is somehow to blame. Most people reconcile their psychological distress by blaming the victim. Even when we know that suffering is undeserved, it is psychologically easier to blame the victim rather than give up the idea that the world is basically fair.” Melissa Harris-Perry, American professor and writer
There is so much more that can be said. I could tell you how many victims commit suicide per year because they were not taken seriously; I could tell you how rape jokes can be triggering to people because you never know what has happened to them in the past and I could also tell you how Rape Culture not only makes women fear for their safety, but also casts a dark shadow on all men, even those who would never do such a thing. In addition to this, the majority of us are also probably unaware that even men are raped sometimes, and that lesbian or bisexual women are also often raped as an attempt to ‘straighten them out.’ It is also shocking that, internationally, about 50% of the reported rapes are passed off as lies when only 2-8 % of reports are actually false. In fact, psychological research on the latter sums it all up:
A PLUS FOR THE SKEPTICS
SWISS VOTERS HIT A RAW NERVE LAST MONTH AS A NARROWLY BACKED PROPOSAL TO CURB EU MIGRATION MADE THE HEADLINES; THE SLOGAN ‘SVIZZERA FIL-MEDITERRAN’ [SWITZERLAND IN THE MEDITERRANEAN] ECHOES IN OUR NOT-SO-DISTANT MEMORY OF EU ACCESSION – COULD OTHER COUNTRIES BE TEMPTED TO FOLLOW THE SWISS EXAMPLE? Initiated by the Swiss Peoples’ Party, supporters of the proposal, the referendum saw arguments which are definitely not foreign to Maltese ears – those of internationals undercutting Swiss workers, and potential overpopulation which creates burdens on the country’s health, education and infrastructural systems.
“A wise and strong Switzerland has stood up to the bullying and threats of the unelected bureaucrats of Brussels” were the words of UKIP leader Nigel Farage, the resounding voice behind euro skepticism in the European Parliament; he was quick to congratulate the Swiss on their apparent feat as was his Dutch counterpart Geert Wilders.
Given a state that never sought EU membership yet opted to negotiate to solely reap its beneficial aspects, the Swiss approach to the EU was, and is now more than ever, a favorite amongst those who are skeptical of the EU’s modus operandi.
Notwithstanding, a 50.3% majority is far from clear, with some attributing the complexities of Swiss division of cantons [districts] as a possible reason for the outcome.
Perhaps ominous of the Swiss result, UK Prime Minister David Cameron had already suggested a cap on EU workers last January, while other similar informal proposals on Roma migration to Germany have existed for quite some time. Closer to home, stomachs are still settling after a year of controversy relating to the Maltese government’s IIP and immigration policy, which despite not suggesting identical proposals, show a similar uncertainty over EU migration and immigration amongst the Maltese.
In fact, the approval has come to surprise to those outside the euro skeptic bubble – the Swiss economy has thrived over the past years, still achieving one of the highest per capita incomes and low unemployment. Such stability is at least minimally attributed to its soft economic borders with the EU. In fact, the result is seen as more of a pre-emptive measure by one analyst: “Those who have a lot also have a lot to lose”, says Spiegel commentator David Nauer, “There wouldn’t be much left in being Swiss if the country’s standard of living were to regress to that of the Germans or, God forbid, the French or the Italians.”
Perhaps the most obvious of reactions were those coming from EU officials – speaking of the vote as a step back in to what the Union has achieved, a spokesperson for the German government also went on to say that it also raises questions for Germany, which experiences a similar issue.
According to a statement released by the EU Commission, the law in question is interconnected with a number of other similar agreements, in which case no single law can be nullified without affecting another. The result will prompt a three-year renegotiation of the Swiss-EU freedom of movement treaty, thus it may be too early to speak of the concrete implications, however what the result immediately indicates is yet another increase in euro skepticism, this time coming from outside of member states.
Predictions show that euro skeptic parties will at least double in support during the upcoming elections; with Austria’s Freedom Party projected to obtain 22.57% over its current 12.71%; Greece’s SYRIZA 28.6% over 2009’s 4.7%; and Farage’s UKIP 25.7% from 16.6%. Moreover, newcomer Greek fascists Golden Dawn are expected to obtain 10.7% of the Greek Vote, while Italy’s comedian-led Movimento Cinque Stelle may obtain up to 20.9%.
Latest statistics show that only 31% trust the EU, down from 57% in 2007 – with EP elections just round the corner, the landscape has indeed changed in 5 years, and for the first time, there are direct tangible results of a rise in rightwing populism.
In spite of these projections, latest euro barometer stats show that Malta has one of the most positive overall perceptions of the EU, placing within the top three countries which favor the EU in terms of globalization and tackling crises. Given the political landscape and euro barometer statistics, Euro skeptic parties are less likely to feature in Malta’s roster of MEPs for the upcoming term. Possibly one of the indicators of such a high esteem is that many of the EU’s major woes aren’t as prevalent in Malta, youth unemployment for one, is relatively low. Malta will probably not be receiving the same praise as the Swiss from far-right leaders, not anytime soon at least – however migration (and immigration) will probably continue to play a big role, especially during the upcoming EU elections. EU migrants have in recent years flocked to Malta to fulfill employment demands which locals can’t meet – recent reports of 17,000 foreigners occupying new jobs are testament to this. The perception of fellow EU citizens and asylum seekers working in Malta may develop as they have in Switzerland and the UK unless dealt with delicately by Malta’s mainstream political parties. While Malta may not be experiencing the great waves of EU skepticism which seem to have hit Europe, one may want to keep in mind that MEPs elected this year will be working in a parliament with greater ideological differences, and a greater challenge of keeping the EU values at large.
AUSTRIA FREEDOM PA R T Y
GREECE GOLDEN D AW N
I T A L Y MOVIMENTO CINQUE STELLE
UNITED KINGDOM U K I P
VS THE SMARTPHONE MARKET HAS SIMPLY EXPLODED OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, AND IT IS ESTIMATED THAT ONE IN EVERY 5 PERSONS IN THE WORLD OWNS ONE.
Whether it is an HTC, a Sony, a Samsung or an iPhone, no one can deny their usefulness and versatility, with the latest and greatest reaching the computing power of a common desktop PC of 3 years ago. Not bad, considering the fact that a smartphone is a fraction of the size of a PC.
On the same level, software plays a very important part to aid the hardware on your phone. Simply slapping an Android OS on a smartphone just won’t cut it. Let’s take the iPhone as an example – the camera sensor in the iPhones is made by Sony, which produces sensors for other smartphone giants as well, and yet the iPhone’s camera managed to outpace nearly However, with great popularity comes great plagiarism. The all of its competition. This is mainly thanks to the genial work blatant copying of smartphone models from famous brands conducted by Apple on its software, which helps in every aspect has become rampant, and I’m not just referring to the boring of picture-snapping and video-shooting as well. This brings us Samsung vs. Apple wars, or Samsung vs. LG, or Samsung vs. back to the beloved phonies. The software used will probably Tamagotchi, or whatever. The real threat comes from China and be a stock version of some long-bygone Android OS, with all Hong Kong, where cheap, low-quality copies of phones from its bugs and problems. Sure, you can download an app to help top companies are being churned out faster than Eminem’s along, but there’s only so much that an app can do. It surely rapping, and people keeping buying them in hordes. Sure, won’t help the Mario-Kart-quality of the pictures taken and the you’ll end up spending 80 euro on a Galaxy S4 clone with a amount of noise present, and night-time shots are simply out of self-proclaimed quad-core processor, “HD screen”, a camera of the question. sorts and the ability to make a phone call. Snazzy deal, right? Not really. Finally, owners of phonies are missing out on the warranty backing of these large companies. Most businesses back up their The first reason why should you steer the heck away from phones with a 24-month manufacturer’s warranty, which will such garbage is that these phones are just that… garbage. Yes, sometimes be honoured even without an original receipt from you can make a phone call with them, but two tin cans and a the retail shop, as long as all the other necessary documents piece of string will also technically qualify as a phone. The build are present. Good luck with honouring a manufacturer’s quality of such phones makes me cringe, and more often than warranty from some Sonee, HTV or Appil – you’d probably not, they will fall apart after 4 months’ worth of use. Gaps in the waste more time and money swearing at a Chinese answering construction of the phone are immediately noticeable right out machine than the amount spent on the phone itself. At this of the box, the materials used are subpar, and I’d stake a big bet point you might tell me “but but… the retail shops themselves that the workmanship dedicated to them is less than that given will offer warranties on such phones!” Well, technically yes, to a box of cotton buds. That being said, they do make for some but just prepare to spend a metaphorical 40 days in the desert excellent castanets – shake them a couple of times and you’ll without any divine intervention. Unless they repair the phone probably dislodge the processor. themselves, they’d have to send it back to whatever obscure Vietnamese dungeon they procured it from, or even worse, Moving on – the HD screen being proclaimed or that 8 MP place the blame on you to escape from responsibility. Sure, camera staring promisingly at you are not what they appear you’ve got consumer rights and all that, but good luck in to be. First off, you might have been outright swindled; on a opening a case on a phone worth 20 cents by the time the whole couple of occasions, I proved to the owners of these “phonies” hullabaloo has gone down. that their cameras weren’t able to snap 8MP shots, and sure enough the MP count was that of 2. The same argument applies So does that mean you’d have to sell a kidney or two to get to screen resolution too. However, even when the pixel count an iPhone? Not necessarily. There are excellent alternatives on the screen is really 720p/HD or the camera really takes out there by companies which are quickly making a name for 8MP pictures, the quality will still likely be akin to an Amiga themselves. Companies such as Oppo, Huawei and Lenovo box-set. Exaggerations aside, the screen panel being used on make top-notch smartphones for half the asking price of phones such a phone will be the cheapest commercially available, from other more renowned companies, and lately they’ve been and the camera sensor will have the sensitivity of a mole’s eye. even surpassing the phones produced by such “top” companies. There’s a reason why smartphones have Sony Exmor sensors or What they don’t spend in marketing, they more than make up Carl Zeiss optics – years and years of research have gone into in R&D and ensuring that their phones are spread by the best producing them, honing them to an extremely high level and medium possible – customer satisfaction. well worth their price. Bottom line: just stay away from those phonies, and spare yourself the embarrassment of being asked whether you’ve just bought a brand new iPhone 5s, with you having to reply that it’s not an iPhone but an iBone.
BRUCE MICALLEF EYNAUD
FILMS BASED ON TRUE STORIES ARE AS POPULAR AS EVER WITH THE ACADEMY AWARDS, WITH FIVE ‘BEST PICTURE’ NOMINATIONS THIS YEAR BASED ON REAL EVENTS. BUT WHILE PHILOMENA HAS BEEN PRAISED FOR ITS ACCURACY, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET AND CAPTAIN PHILLIPS HAVE BOTH BEEN CRITICIZED FOR TWISTING THE TRUTH.
In the case of the Wolf of Wall Street, the real problem stems from the memoir written by real life ‘wolf ’ Jordan Belfort, which the film follows very faithfully. Belfort is a very unreliable narrator, but then again what can you expect from a con man? Scorsese understands this and throughout the film has Belfort ( Leonardo DiCaprio) break the fourth wall by turning to the audience to tell his story, implying we are listening to this man’s own self-glorifying and possibly delusional tale of events. However Captain Phillips, which is the far more straightfaced of the two, has raised controversy over whether the true story has been altered for dramatic effect. Many of the real crew members claim that Richard Phillips was no hero, and was an arrogant man who put lives in danger by ignoring numerous warnings of Somali pirates. It has raised concerns that director Paul Greengrass, despite his trademark use of documentarystyle handheld cinematography, has made a Hollywoodized version of the truth where the Average Joe, played by the king of Average Joes Tom Hanks, overcomes the extraordinary and becomes a hero.
It’s easy to understand the concerns over accuracy. Films are popular, and bring exposure to real events and history that people may not be that informed about, and therefore one might assume the filmmakers have the responsibility to stick to the truth. This would especially be the case for recent events that deal with delicate subjects, such as Captain Phillips, where fabrication would be looked upon as bad-taste. This was very much the case for Diana, the biopic of the late princess, which was mauled by critics for having the stench of melodramatic artifice. Wikileaks film The Fifth Estate arrived with a tidal wave of bad press over it’s apparent dishonesty, with Julian Assange writing to Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor portraying him, to drop his involvement, afraid that the general public would be grossly misinformed about his organization. He needn’t have worried. It was the biggest financial flop of 2013. However should inaccuracy be considered as a valid criticism? A film should primarily exist to entertain, and engage, rather than inform. In the hype surrounding the release of Django Unchained, many shook their heads in distaste at the thought of Quentin Tarantino treating a story concerning slavery with
TELL THE TRUTH?
the same cartoonish excessiveness of Kill Bill, yet they only needed to look at how brilliantly entertaining his World War Two film Inglourious Basterds was to put their fears to rest. Inglouroius Basterds proudly gives the finger to historical accuracy, creating an alternate WWII closer in tone to the Captain America comics than Saving Private Ryan. By doing this, Tarantino liberates himself from the facts and focuses on giving us a good time. The same can be said for Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, perhaps one of the most famous examples of Hollywood getting history wrong big time. Braveheart aims for the drama and romance of a Robin Hood legend, throwing in a crackpot love affair between the Scottish revolutionary William Wallace and the English princess, even going as far as to say that Edward III was Wallace’s son. By being free of the constraints of a factual biopic, Braveheart seems to mythologize William Wallace as much as his countryman do, which is what makes this film so enjoyable.
Many much-loved films have sacrificed authenticity for the sake of drama, among them Amadeus, which creates a largely fictional relationship between Mozart and fellow composer Salieri, Idi Amin biopic The Last King Of Scotland, where the protagonist is a fictional proxy for the audience, and A Beautiful Mind, which greatly exaggerates the hallucinations of it’s real life subject, mathematician John Nash. In fact, the man who is guilty for some of most blatant falsifying for dramatic effect is also the most revered dramatist ever, William Shakespeare, who spiced up his historical plays with ghosts and witches. If filmmakers and the audience want the truth and nothing but the truth, then documentaries are where they should find it. Films should have the creative license to be as inaccurate as they like, as long as it makes them more gripping, interesting and entertaining. Audience members must remember that the cinema is a place of escapism, one where the facts will always have a liberal dash of fiction.