Science in the City, Malta 2018 – all you need to know

Science in the City is an annual event taking place not only in Valletta, but in another 320 cities around the world. This will be the seventh anniversary of marriage between the arts and science. Science in the City, the brainchild of Dr. Edward Duca is now fixed in Maltese cultural calendar.

The message of this year’s event is that everyone starts from zero. Even experts started with no knowledge whatsoever. We encourage everyone and anyone to visit and start or continue to understand, admire and discuss the world around them.

The QA with the folks handling the PR for this event was amazing so I’ll leave it as is, and you can see the entirety of it here.

#scicitymalta #MSCAnight

Here’s a small TL;DR for whoever is lazy in his reading.

Words of Osiris Note: The shows featured are those that cropped up in our Question and Answer session, and should only be taken as suggestions. Feel free to wander around the stands and shows, especially those featured as main events! (Use the App)

1. Crowd Favourite: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

2. New Science in the City App:

  • Map with show time schedules and age appropriateness.
  • Listed Transport arrangements, to avoid parking hassles.
  • Interactive Map of all the restaurants offering a Science in the City discount, great for drinkers and foodies.

Words of Osiris Note: After installing the App myself I could only see two fast food chains advertised around the main show area. The only true restaurant is out-of-the-way, at the Valletta Waterfront. Hope they won’t be the only ones. #moreandhealthieroptions

3. Not for Kids only:

  • Talking Science at Palazzo Ferriera (Facebook event) features topics such as blockchain, biohacking, gender assignment and terrorism amongst others.
  • Honourable mention: Ro-Botanicals: mixing plant tech with delicious cocktails + talks about the future of food.

4. Theatrical and Musical spectacles:

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Musical:


Once again the full Question and Answer can be found by hitting this link


This blog post is in no way sponsored and has no affiliation with the Malta’s Science and Arts Festival organisers.


Featured Image: European Science Engagement Association

Maltese cyclist handing in his car’s number plates

Joe, a 35-year-old native Maltese citizen is daring to give up his beloved car and make cycling his commuting medium of choice. After getting frustrated in the “back to school traffic” around two years ago, he rode his bike to work and never looked back since.

Joe ended up using his car perhaps twice a week on the weekends. During our interview, he told Word of Osiris that “the cost to keep [the car], compared to the benefits, did not justify keeping the car”. Many react in disbelief to his decision, but after some consideration, they see eye to eye on the matter. He definitely recommends cycling to work for anyone living within 6 to 10km from their workplace. Having shower facilities available would be the cherry on the cake. He added “it only takes me two minutes longer cycling than driving to work in normal traffic. In comparison then [sic], driving to work in the “back to school traffic” take me twice as long as it takes me when I cycle”.

Therefore, Joe is handing over the number plates to his personal car, only keeping a shared family car for errands.

Talking with Joe about cycling in Malta, he sincerely recommends staying sharp while cycling and “kind of expect the worst so you might be able to anticipate a situation before it is too late”. Having said that, he also acknowledges that there are hundreds of motorists who show cyclists respect. He continues by saying that many infrastructural initiatives are “impractical to say the least and at times down right [sic] dangerous”. Joe argues that cyclist safety is always a compromise and never a priority, and when cyclists choose not to use precarious infrastructure they are labeled as downright law-breakers, ending up giving “a wrong message to motorists”.

In a spree of sincerity, Joe told us that he doesn’t think Malta will become a bicycle haven anytime soon. He encourages the practice of teaching children the benefits of cycling and introducing government incentives for employers who install showering facilities in their workplace. With these initiatives we could hope for more bicycles on the road, and the dismantling of the ever-looming traffic gridlock.

As a friend of Joe once asked him “…why on a country so small we [sic] need to go everywhere by car when we are barely the size of a large city”. Cycling helped Joe lose weight, improved his metabolism, while also giving him a sense of accomplishment once he arrives at work.

For the European Mobility Week, try change your habits and explore other alternatives.

Grab your bicycle, and whizz off.


Big thanks goes to Joe for taking time to answer our questions. The whole interview can be viewed here


Featured Image: www.wikipedia.org

Those were the days…

Just yesterday I was small talking with a colleague and she mentioned the good old days. The days when she was young. Days in which her young self would go buy items from the grocer’s alone. Nowadays, she exclaimed, it’s not safe. Too much harassment, too many cars, and a whole list of other reasons.

Talking about my 31-year-old myself, young me would bike at night, all the time, driving my mother dead worried. As a thirteen year old I also started catching the bus to go to my athletics sessions. All this unsupervised, free from watchfully eyes, on my own. I think the sense of liberty and responsibility did change my view on life, and is healthy for every kid.

nostalgia (noun):
a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past.

This longing nostalgic tone is ever-present in our day-to-day talk. Yet, we should thread carefully on these idealisations. We forget the limitations our previous generations had when growing up. The eldest of kids forced to take care of the younger ones, few job opportunities, little to nowhere to go or do in the weekends and the list can go on for ages. One can argue that it was a simpler life, but it was confined to our small island. Our kids will see horizons few of us had the pleasure to lay eye on.

I won’t even go into the thousands of social, medical and scientific advancements we take for granted.

In a way I do feel bad for children growing up today, but for different reasons. My kids will face more global warming and men’s greed side effects, probably have to rent house that they will never own and be void of many green spots in our little island.

With time everything changes, and there is no stopping it. Let’s only hope time changes things for the better.

Featured photo: Edson Chilundo

A Story of Loneliness, Depression, Assignments & Threats – My University of Malta story

I spent almost two and a half years at the University of Malta and as you can see from the title they weren’t the best years of my life.


I’m out of Junior College, hating school life and I’m already swept into a class full of blank faces. I started Uni, the so-called last stage before getting a certificate and working your arse off for the rest of your long life.

I was probably in the worst mental state of my life, I couldn’t get myself to do any extra work, and waking up in the morning was a chore in itself. I used to run from the bus stage at times just to make it a minute or two shy of being on time. I was in such a slumber that even my socialising skills were burnt to the ground.

Anyway, no real friends around even though there were some good people who gave me rides home and tried to help. The rest were strangers. Students who would copy off assignments from previous year students or one another. Some even signed off attendance sheets for friends who didn’t attend class.

Meanwhile, lonely me didn’t even have a chance of a humane discussion on our latest assignment with anyone. As time goes by I was giving in and started to spiral down in an even deeper depression. I hid into gaming while trying to forget the misery.

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credit: Pexels: Soumir Kumar

Through all this time of hardship, I don’t think anyone knew how beaten down I really was. I pushed away even the dearest of friends. My parents having marital troubles of their own never took a hard look at me and attributed all this to me just slacking off.

You can imagine I wasn’t the lecturers’ pet, and they made sure to make me feel I shouldn’t be there. One lecturer said:

Only one person failed the last exam. I made sure that whoever deserved to pass, did so” and looked at me straight in the eye.

It was me. I had a mark of 44 out of the pass mark of 45. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. They clearly tampered with the results. I repeated my first year.

In my repeater year, I did better and thankfully I had some friends. I also developed a crush on a girl who was in a relationship, more soul-crushing stuff in that department.

To sum it up, Uni still felt like it wasn’t for me. My brain had always let me down.

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credit: Pexels: Pixabay

The second year starts and I had the head of the Biology department come up to me in his car at the lecturers’ car park:

“You already missed two classes, if you miss another one, I’ll make sure you’ll fail on the next one you miss,” he said

“But I was sick, I have all the required doctor’s certificates,” I muttered shyly.

“Doesn’t matter, those are the rules. Miss another one and you’ll fail, ok?” he replied.

I nodded and he drove off. I knew that I didn’t miss classes out of the blue or posed as sick. At that time, we had a maximum of missing three lectures and I was threatened to fail after losing two with valid reasons.

This was done in the face of clear attendance abuses from my classmates. We had some lecturers calling out the names of people after signing the attendance and five or six people (from around forty) were all magically in the bathroom.

Back to me, I was certainly in the crosshair of my lecturers. After that, I started to crumble and gave up. I was done with studying and all of this crap.

A few weeks later, I applied for a full-time job and got it. Was like breathing pure oxygen into old smoker lungs. My mood changed, my life changed, for the better. I left University on a note of mental health issues but I was sure I wasn’t going back. That was the end of probably the bleakest chapter in my life.


Credits:
Featured picture: Pexels – Pixabay.


Malta: Cycle to your Grave

A blog is a reply to a post on the now famous Maltese portal Lovin Malta.


For the past year or so, Lovin Malta has been a site which exploded in popularity. This came about because of two reasons, the first being the use of old and new Maltese dank memes and the second by posting relatable topics.

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One of their latest post tackled the relatable topic of dealing with Malta’s traffic problem titled: ‘Creative Solutions To Malta’s Traffic Problem That Are Doomed To Fail

I’ve also posted my ideas on the topic, right here.

The point that possibly triggered me the most was this one here:

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Malta is an island the size of a mainland city, where it’s people think using the bicycle is equal to half a death sentence. Or even worst, that cycling is doomed to fail.

I’ve cycled most of my life, especially in the carefree teenage years and I’m more alive than ever. Incidentally, talking about my teenage years, I’m in Lovin Malta’s cyclist photo; a photo which me and my friend posed for to promote a venture called Malta by Bike which we were about to launch (also used as this post’s featured photo).

Even this fellow from the B.A.G. (Bicycling Advocacy Group, Malta) had something to say:

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All the negative connotations around two-wheeled vehicles never stop on this island.

For me, the mortality risk is of 1/5, therefore a slight probability. For our worried parents and friends it’s a 5/5, basically you’re doomed.

Maybe, just maybe…it’s about time to start promoting alternative modes of transport as a safe respite from all the time we spend stuck in traffic.


P.S.   Small sneak peek, in the future I’m planning to make a video where I commute with my bike for a week. Hopefully this will happen once I finish my studies, only then will I be able to focus more time on making better than ever content.


 

Malta: Hunting & Trapping

For those people who thought you can fly to Malta no problem, you’re wrong. You have to get through the armies of hunters on the island. Well, at least if you’re a bird.


Hunting in Malta is engrained in our culture as much as the cholesterol in our veins.

Anyhow, mainland Europe has been shying away from hunting, a natural step in urbanisation.

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Not here, not us, not Malta. Surely more people are against hunting than ever before. Yet, the so-called hobby has yet to die down.

In a very recent referendum on hunting, it passed by a small margin, enabling spring hunting to continue.

Sad, very sad indeed. It was a shock to every modern thinking citizen. But let’s say it’s a hobby we have to accept, and with it this keeps going on:

Protected bird shot – just three days after start of hunting season

Ye, you’ve guessed it, old Malteser doing what he pleases. It’s not even a one off thing, as far as I know. last year was one of the worse years in regards to illegal hunting/trapping in quite a while. The immorality of it all makes me sick. If you want to shoot birds and have the government’s blessing to do so, just leave the protected birds alone.

Some hunters even have the audacity to tell you that they’ll shoot anything that flies; or trap any bird of value no matter the method. Disgusting.

I don’t get it, why should we allow this even in the face of numerous illegalities. Referendum vote or not…

just make it stop.


Malta: Quirky road signs you rarely or never see on the road

Not that we take care of them signs sticking around when we drive, but they’re… interesting?


Disclaimer: High chances of cultural shock if you continue reading. You’ve been warned


Few years ago, I got into an internet discussion about this:

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The national speed limit sign

Was grumpling on how people slow down to less than 60km/h when our national speed limit is 80km/h.

You might not be surprised the person I was arging with had not idea what that sign even meant. Weeehaaa, Malta, ladies and gents.

Anyway, moving on from the tangent, another set of lesser known signs are those with a band of narrow lines. These are quite relatable and maybe you, Malteser, can recognise them:

 

Incidently this means no overtaking, which even I forgot:

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Ok, that’s it with the informative stuff of signs we already see around. The next one a sign that would be dreaded by all lorry drivers or those vans stuffed to the brim.

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You don’t see them at all these days and so, a neat little refresher if they even intent to stick some of them up.


Next up we got the freaky ones:

 

Ye, the last one doesn’t mean airport *grins*


 

Next up we find the never seen ones:

 

This one is meant to indicate that you can stop your car for not more than:

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Here are some quitessentially British signs which I never seem to see around:

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maybe the safe height one does show up now and again.


 

Last but not least these:

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Apparently, they serve to demark an area where the road has priorty over crossing or intersecting traffic.


 

If you’re Maltese, have you seen these signs before?

If you’re not, are they used in your country?

Let me know in the comments down below

 

Maltese Gardens: San Anton & Sa Maison Gardens

San Anton Gardens might be the most prolific garden in the Maltese island, but there is surely more potential that we sadly forget about.


Not long ago I mentioned in my post ‘Malta: lack of breathing space’, that gardens are far and between. So today we’re gonna look at a couple of gardens on both ends of the spectrum.

Built by the Knights of Saint John, to serve as a quant spot for the Grandmaster Winter quarters, San Anton Garden was later open for the general public by the British in 1882 during Queen Victoria’s reign. The palace beside is now the official residence of the President of Malta.

As one might expect such an important location is kept as proper as possible especially in the touristic summer months.

I wondered off to the gardens to have a look at what these gardens have in store. Here are some photos:

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While it is clearly a beautiful and peaceful place to visit, it still requires some attention:

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Another garden I visited a few weeks back was that of Sa Maison. With its entrance found in a winding uphill road with no pavement, it is clear that it is forgotten both by the authorities, and definitely not a touristic hotspot. Being only 10minutes away from the Valletta city gates one would think otherwise.

With moderate expectations, I wandered in and found this:

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You would have expected an old delict garden with have no value whatsoever, but I was wrong. While the flora was definitely lacking, the history of this place was incredible, with so much potential too. Even the view was pretty even though it definitely wasn’t on the level of the azure window. I would give it a 7/10.

Definitely such gardens are still underfunded and underdeveloped. It would be of great benefit if more places such as these are given importance, especially in the light of our ever shrinking green spaces.

Malta: Lack of Breathing Space

Another Maltese tale, or maybe nightmare.


In Europe after the world wars, city planning got modernised, rethought and everything rebuilt. I have visited a huge array of cities around the european continent, all with their own beauty and charm.

London was the last one I visited and was in awe of its size, but mostly its use of spaces. Even though it’s such an old city, roads are wide with proportional pavements and full of serene spaces. It’s admirable that they didn’t succumb to the greedy claws of over-development

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Wish that I could say the same within our little island. While development of towering tall buildings doesn’t scare me, the lack of surrounding infrastructure does. Once again, Malta got swept by modern nuances but failed to free herself from the chains of old.

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Tigne Point over-development

Highrise is now the hip trend in housing especially in touristic and prime areas. Paceville is becoming a true testament to this, Pender Gardens (or better apartments) being the latest huge development. Sadly this is being built on a two-way single lane road which is engulfed with traffic more often than not. Madness! Where is the public garden near each big development?

Maybe, just maybe, it is too much to ask from our little island, but I dream it can be something like this:

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I’m not expecting the vertical forests, but a similar layout would be a breath of fresh air.

Why should we have 4 story flats like pin-balls one next to the other? When will it stop?

In some old small localities, the village core has very narrow roads (most without a pavement) and what do you find right after this? More development, block upon block of house hordes and faint flats. No respite for the Maltese citizen.

Here’s an example, H’Attard (which I tried to circle in red), is a sought after place to live with apartments costinga minimum of 250k Euro finished (above average price for the island):

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I’m sure I missed a spot or two, and over-ran some roads but you can get the general idea on why I’m rambling so much. I can say with a degree of certainty that all of the fields in the picture are private, so don’t get fooled by the ‘greenery’

If you think the roads are pleasurable to walk in, here’s a close up of the black boxed area:

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Little to no trees except for some front porch, narrow roads baring parked cars in the residential areas.

Will we continue developing mindlessly in the future? Seems like it till now.

Who will make all this stop? Sadly we don’t have an answer yet.


Would you live in a place like this?

Tell us what you think down in the comments!

Malta and getting around

is transport in Malta ever going to be public? What is keeping us from being free?


My thirty year existence on this island came to terms with a new facade. A facade full of cars, trucks and more cars, filling our roads.

Traffic is always a problem especially in the dreaded rush hours. Malta is plagued with this phenomenon and while increasing traffic flow with new roads helps, it certain doesn’t solve the overall congestion.

I don’t blame people for using their private cars. They’re quick, reliable and relatively cheap to maintain. In other countries, the running costs are far greater, especially when it comes to fuel used and parking in the cities.

Our distances are short and parking is free virtually everywhere, if you find one, that is.

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The small size of our island makes private transportation a dream, but it should also be so for the public sector. Yet, it definitely and categorically isn’t.

Using the bus would make my daily commute an hour and twenty minutes longer each day. That gets lengthened if you’re lucky enough to find a couple of full up buses.

For such a small island our system is embarrassing. It should be as easy as travelling around a large city. Yet, our poor civil engineering probably makes this impossible.

Two wheeled vehicles are on the rise, but with an increasing amount of fatalities on our roads, it’s not as straight forward as it seems.

Get a motorbike? You would probably want drivers to actually respect you on the road before hopping onto your saddle.

Bicycles are a bit of a problem due to the hilly nature of our little rock, apart from the fact that you have to be quite fit to actually enjoy a ride. Besides that we have no real bicycle infrastructure set up and a lot of our roads are either too narrow or busy to actually bike safely.

Pedelacs set you back quite a large amount, minimum two thousand euro for one. With the cheapest cars hovering around 10k, guess which one our lazy arses would buy….

Our blip of a nation is in a transportation cul-de-sac.

I think the only ways out this are the following:

  • Dig tunnels and spend big euros in an underground system. Would surely turn a lot of things around.
  • Educate people to respect everyone on the road to incentivise any kind of alternative to cars.
  • Offer direct bus routes to industrial estates, business centres etc.. and do so at convenient times eg. rush hours, change of shift times etc.
  • Tax credits for people who don’t own a private vehicle or bigger subsidiaries towards buying greener and traffic friendly options, just like a pedelac.

One last thing that holds us back is definitely our lazy and morbid habits of using our cars to go everywhere and park right in front of where we are going, even it means to double park.

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In other nations, you can see people walk to places everywhere. For them it is just part of the journey to get off a bus and walk home. Us Maltese would complain, get in our car, slam the door and dive off.

My mum asks dad for a ride whenever she knows she won’t find an easy parking spot. Patient dad makes the drive back and forth twice. All this happens because mum doesn’t want to use the bus or park a bit further and walk.

Above is an example of our abusive relationship with our private cars. Unless we don’t admit that this car dependence is hurting us, we will never move forward and free ourselves and our roads from this plague.