Why do People ‘Cheat’?

I have never understood the notion of cheating. When I was younger, I used to see school-chums cheating during class tests and exams and wonder. Yes, by cheating they’d be getting a good grade or passing on to the next class, but really, were they actually getting something beneficial out of it? Cheating the teacher or school authorities by making them believe they knew more than they actually did, or that they were better students, was futile since these would later (through class work or homework) realize it was untrue. Also, these cheaters would fall behind in class, since the teacher would then think s/he need not tone things down for them to cope, etc.

Unfortunately, cheaters dont just exist in school. People try to take shortcuts in real life too. Shortcuts which might seem to work at first, but which, in reality, take them nowhere. This is not only because the journey is the most important part of reaching a destination, but most pointedly, because shortcuts just dont work in the long run. For example, one doesnt ‘fall in love’ with someone for his money, and then expect it to last (there’s actually a nasty word describing people who sell themselves in that way, and no it’s not ‘opportunist’). In the same way, most of the people who make believe they have many close friends and are oh-so-popular on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media, actually know that none of these so-called friends will be there should they ever be in need, since they are only fake friends, and dont really know them, or care.

It is futile to buy a friend or a partner, or to expect to actually know something, when you don’t, just for the sake of appearances or for a short moment. Futile to make believe everything is fine and dandy when in reality it’s not.

The sad thing is, that what ‘cheaters’ dont realize is that in the long run, no one really cares whether they have answered everything correctly on a piece of paper, or whether their partner really loves them, or their friends actually exist – no one except themselves. Which is why ‘cheaters’ are actually people who end up ‘cheating’ only themselves.

By the way, there is actually a clinical term for this – mythomania, or pseudologia fantastica. Mythomania is described as a psychological condition which leads the person to distort reality, and which, in the majority of cases, is found in people with low self-esteem who seek attention from others.’

It is always better to be honest than fake. That’s so simple right… well, not for everyone unfortunately. 

For more info about Mythomania, take a look at this very good article – http://theprisma.co.uk/2012/01/31/mythomania-when-lying-is-more-than-just-a-habit/ 

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Rant: The SALOTT and Sticks in the Mud

So, yesterday (or more accurately, this morning actually) at around 12.30am, I was right on the verge of sleep, cuddled cozily with my better half in the silent darkness – when suddenly I heard a huge enormous peal of thunder. Or so I thought. Only, the thunder did not stop. It just went on and on and on, rising in volume, until I could almost feel the earth vibrate. Yes, vibrate – even though I was in bed not on the floor, and even though we live in an elevated maisonette with another one beneath us.

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Finally, after like half a minute (which believe me is quite long when you’re listening to what you believe might be either an explosion or an actual earthquake), it stopped. My bf was asleep and, ubelievably enough, had not stirred.

I immediately logged onto social media. I was sure someone would comment on it. AND I WAS RIGHT. A relative tornado of queries, panicked comments and questions suddenly appeared on ‘The Salott‘, a popular local Maltese page on Facebook where people debate present issues, talk about general subject, and moan and groan in general… yea I know… I actually keep logging as a member for the entertainment value these intellectually challenged people provide, but anyways – THIS time, it kinda comforted me to realize that I was not the only one feeling astonished at this amazing booming cracking sound coming on at 12.30am. They heard it in many different places around Malta, and that was quite strange too.

Now what non-locals have got to realize is that in Malta, we have a long tradition of amateur and not-so-amateur firework-making establishments exploding, literally, in flames. There was a period some few years ago when it seemed like there was such an unfortunate accident every two or three months – so naturally, I started to think that maybe something like that had happened. 

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More and more people started saying that it was just thunder, though strange thunder at that. Thunder without any storm, clouds, or inclement weather around, but still thunder. In other words, nothing to write home about they said. Storm in a teacup (excuse my pun). Just a lot of ado about nothing. ‘Why all this fuss?’ they asked us peeps who were concerned, ‘it’s 12.30am in the morning, why don’t you go to sleep now? Don’t you have anything better to do?’

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Nice, so here we, the worried peeps, are – thinking someone might actually be hurt and that something bad might have happened (what with all the terrorism and stuff happening around the world lately), and you’re laughing at us coz we actually give a shit?

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Is this the kind of attitude that’s ‘cool’ nowadays? I don’t know – is being concerned tantamount to being a stick in the mud now? Yes, it may just have been thunder, but for a moment there, no one was sure – and it might actually NOT have been thunder. What if it had been an emergency situation? Anyways, nice attitude pals… *NOT*!

Eating my own Words!!

So, last January (on the 19th to be precise) I wrote a blog post on this page reiterating again and again that I would never, ever publish my own FB page on online media. Obviously, I ate my own words this week, since my professional freelance writing FB page went up yesterday. lol

You can find it here btw, if you want to like and follow – https://www.facebook.com/MelisandeMoonsong1/

Be my guest haha.

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Whatever. No one’s infallible.

Thing is, I was browsing along a couple of Freelance-promoting websites, and they all said the same thing – if you want to promote yourself and your writing acumen, you’ve got to have an online portfolio. 

This spate of interest on my part came after the CEO of a particular new local Maltese publishing company contacted me through (surprise, surprise) Facebook, and asked to see my blog. Yes THIS blog. Which, to say the least, is hardly professional, since I mainly use it to vent my own personal idiosyncratic irritations. And then it hit me – apart from my actual work, these poor people looking for a language-wise writer have no means of actually finding said gem. Unless of course, s/he is pointed out to them by ‘common friends’, or the like. 

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Thing is, I had never actually thought of freelance writing as a ‘career’. Not consciously at least. It just… well, happened. I like to write. Some people knew that and contacted me asking for a sample. They liked it, and were willing to pay for more. Time passed, and more people read my stuff and liked it. They contacted me, wanted a sample… and bla bla, there you have it! I never really set out to actually earn MONEY from it, if you know what I mean, but now that I’m on this cruise, which I actually like and enjoy, I may as well learn how to steer the boat, right?

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My primary job, as well as mode of income, is still my day-time qualified job. However earning that something extra by doing something which I enjoy doing, is of course, awesome.

As a side-note, I’ve learnt that this type of freelance writer is called a ‘Moonlighter’. A ‘Moonlighter’ is ‘ a professional with a primary, traditional job who also moonlights doing freelance work. For example, a corporate- employed web developer who also does projects for non-profits in the evening.’ Neat right?

Got that from THIS website btw – https://benrmatthews.com/definition-freelancing-changed-meet-new-5-types-freelancers/

Anyways, I’m going to paste this again JUST IN CASE you did not bother to click and visit the page the first time round. THIS IS MY OWN PAGE – PLEASE FOLLOW! https://www.facebook.com/MelisandeMoonsong1/

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Cheers!!

 

Reality vs Fake Airs- Why Write?

I’m not the kind of girl who likes to boast. I don’t play the passive-aggressive card. I don’t like playing the victim in order to get pats on the back. I don’t like putting myself down in public, in order to receive commiserating compliments. I got past all that immature stuff at approximately the age of 15.

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It does not mean that I am emotionless or that I don’t have feelings. On the contrary, it means that I only share what I find worth sharing. Moreover, I only share it with a limited number of people I am close to, and definitely not with social media at large. I’m not that desperate yet.

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Perhaps it could be that I don’t have the unmitigated urge to display all my insecurities and naggy rages because I have, I admit, always been kind of an introvert. Yes, I communicate and share my experiences through writing, but still I  pay attention to get only as personal as I’m comfortable with. Especially if I’m writing something which, I know, many people are going to read. How many intimate sentimental poems have I written? How many embittered and angry short stories, reflecting my moods and my past, have I penned? How many irritated rants about my disgust and dissatisfaction with the human condition at large have I scribbled? No one knows the answer to this question except myself. Mainly because no one has read them – or if they did, it was only one or two people at the most. This is because, when my heart bleeds and my fingernails gauge half-moons of frustration on my palms, I write – I cannot help it – it is the way I vent what I feel and the way I tick. However, just because I write something, actually showing it to someone is something else entirely. 

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I write for myself. I write because I cannot stop. I write because it helps me come to term with reality – ironic as that sounds.

Whether something is floating on a current of social media out there or not, is irrelevant.

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I guess it all depends on whether you prioritize yourself as an individual most, or whether you are more focused on how you appear to others. For me, my internal personal life has always been more important than the way others perceive me, how ‘popular’ I am or what a ‘good’ impression others have of me. In the end, I prefer having some friends who care for me for who I really am, than many acquaintances who might hang out with me for any fake ‘persona’ I might project. At least I know that those who love me, love me. In all my silly, eccentric, weird singularity.

Quoting one of (in my opinion) the greatest fantasy writers of all time:

“My immagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.”
Ursula K. Le Guin

Facebook ‘Pages’ – Do you have this Virus?

There is currently a trend of everyone to create their own ‘Facebook page’ lately. Facebook pages are usually a way for artists or businessmen to market either their talent or their products. Restaurants have Facebook pages, as do shops and designers. Painters, singers, writers and dancers have pages. Many people, from VIPs to actual nobodies (who nonetheless wish they were ‘popular’ apparently) are all the time sending an ‘invitation’ for ‘likes’ to all and sundry, as though the more ‘likes’ you had from the people out there, the more you valued yourself.

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Well, I am a published writer. I write for a local magazine, a local newspaper, and a Russian historical website, and even though (unfortunately) writing is not my main job, it is a very special part of my life. Writing has always been my passion and I always wanted to become a writer of books. For now, I have merely contented myself with selling articles freelance, but the best is yet to come ;p

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Anyways, some time ago a friend asked me how come I did not have a Facebook page, when even people who did not provide any product, information, or service had one, merely to appear ‘hip’.

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I provided a product and could market my talent through my Facebook page – so why didn’t I create one? Simple – I DON’T WANT TO!

Personally as a writer and as an individual, I feel that I have many facets to my personality. One or another of these facets may appear in one article or the other, or they may not. The point is that I am not just that. I am not just a writer who writes articles about relationships. I am not just a writer who writes about historical castles and battles. I am not just a world-traveller with a travelling features column on a weekly newspaper. I do not want to be defined by these things because I am much more than that. Also, I put too much stuff about me online as it is!

Don’t get me wrong – I like posting pictures on Instagram, comments on Facebook and (sometimes) an extra informal article, like this one, on a blog, HOWEVER I feel that there are also hidden depths to my consciousness which are impossible to define, and therefore ‘collecting’ all of me on a ‘page’ is not possible and makes me feel uncomfortable. Kind of like giving presents to one’s stalker. (And believe me I’ve had stalkers in the past and I know what I’m talking about).

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So, no i DO NOT, and will never have a ‘Facebook page’. That is, unless I publish a gazillion books and my manager and PR decide to upload one for my fans… but that’s another story ;-p

 

The National Book Fair Sucks… sorry. This is my opinion.

People I hardly know tag me on book-related stuff on Facebook (and I love it). Friends have ceased to ask me why I always have books in my handbag. People who hardly know me identify me because unless I’m talking to someone, there’s always an open book in front of me.

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Let’s face it, everyone knows that I’m a Book-addict/Bookaholic/Bibliophile/Nerd/Bookworm/etc. I think books, breathe books and live in books in my mind most of the time. For me, the characters I’m reading about at that moment in time are more real than ‘real life’, and even though I try to rein it in to ‘appear like a normal human being’ on the surface, it just seeps through.

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So, I’m guessing with the opening of the National Malta Book Fair this afternoon, I am ‘expected’ to go into an orgiastic frenzy and tear everything in my path until I’m standing right there buying everything in sight. I admit, that was the case once. But unfortunately, things change.

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I’m going to come out and say it, and I don’t care who takes offence, because it is my right as a person to say what I think. THIS YEAR I AM NOT GOING TO THE BOOKFAIR BECAUSE IT SUCKS!

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It wasn’t always like this. Up until around four/five years ago, it was great. One of the most anticipated weeks of the year (for me), but all that slowly ground to a halt as I realised that the fair was becoming more and more crappy each year. What happened?

Well, first of all people go to a fair to find bargains. It’s the truth. We rush there hoping we’ll ‘find’ something we couldn’t normally purchase, or that we find something cheaper than usual, which is why we’d be especially waiting for the fair to buy it. In the past, this applied to the bookfair as there were many bargains depending on the different stalls. Many of them offered a ‘buy two books, get one free’ deal, while others offered paperbacks for very cheap and worthwhile prices.

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Nowadays, the prices are the same as those found within regular stores, and sometimes more expensive than the prices of books bought online – so in that case, why bother?

In relation to the books themselves, I used to go ‘hunting’ for books which one does not normally find in stores too. Like old editions of fairytales for example, or novels written by obscure authors I had never heard of, but which were brilliant nonetheless. Today this is no longer possible, simply because ADULT NOVELS in ENGLISH are only a very small portion of the books on offer during the fair. This is because the fair has mostly become a publicity stunt to show how our society is trying to promote reading for children. This is not a mistake at all per se, as it is obviously important for the powers that be to provide opportunities for new readers, however the bad thing is that by doing so, they are NEGLECTING already developed readers. By focusing only on children’s books, the bookfair is neglecting adults who like to read!!

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Another thing is the overly obvious promotion of books in the Maltese language. Personally I do not like to read in Maltese, preferring English as this complements my state of mind more. This does not mean that other people don’t love to read in Maltese, obviously. I also understand the importance of promoting and creating opportunities for writers of Maltese, as well as books about Malta, to take a prominent role within the National BookFair. It is a matter of course. What I DO NOT get is why lately, the bookfair is offering only:

  1. Books for children
  2. Novels and other books in Maltese
  3. Historical books about Malta

WHERE are the novels/books in the English language for adults??

I don’t mean to say there aren’t any, but there are VERY FEW on offer, and these are quite mainstream and found in shops all year round, not to mention online. So, why on earth should I need to go to the bookfair to get a hold of them?

Considering that in Malta, both the Maltese and the English language are ‘official languages’, one should be as important as the other!

Last year, I asked the relevant Facebook page pertaining to the bookfair whether there would be a good assortment of literature in English. The answer I got was that there would be books in English, just as there would be books in Italian and French. For shame! English is one of the two official languages of Malta, why is it being relegated to a ‘third language’ status?
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I’m sure many will not agree with me and that is not a problem. However, these are the reasons why I personally, will not be going to the National Bookfair this year. I simply know I will not find anything that will interest me there. As I didn’t find anything (except boredom and wasted time that is) last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. Thank you very much for nothing, I will continue buying my non-mainstream and new, yet inexpensive books online.

End of rant. You may like to start kindling your fires and sharpening your pitchforks now.

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Sacked for a Facebook Status!

Is it fair to be sacked for a status one posts on his personal Facebook account? What if this status hurts someone? What if this person works in local media? Then again, where is freedom of speech? Or is it all just a political game?

Here are the facts:

Last Sunday, many people attended a local charity motor show. During this event, unfortunately, a speeding Porshe (this was part of the show) lost control (let’s not go into why, I’m not a car expert) and ended up injuring 26 people, 5 of whom in a life-threatening critical way. This caused an uproar as many of the families, friends and acquaintances of those injured were obviously concerned. In a small country like ours, cases like this are quite rare, and touch everybody. Everyone was worried, however help was close and the Malta Police Force as well as Health Force, coordinated a manoeuvre which caused the injured people to be cared for quickly. Roads were closed as needed and Maltese media gave updates of the situation as they took place.

Now here’s the issue – one particular person, to be precise, a DJ who works for a radio station belonging to one of the two major political parties in Malta, in his usual satirical way, posted a couple of Facebook statuses about the accident. The statuses were not, as such, particularly violent, they did not accuse anybody or point at anyone, however personally I feel that, so close to the fact and with people still hurt and in danger of their lives – they were superfluous. More than that, they were hurtful to the families of those fighting for their lives, and those who had been at the event and had been frightened, as the huge vehicle speeded up and crashed into the crowd next to them. Satire and sarcasm are all well and good HOWEVER one must also be careful where and when to say certain stuff. When in doubt, better keep silent instead of blabbering to all and sundry.

That being said, there was an uproar. This person was lynched, sent hate messages, and blatantly shredded to pieces by everybody. And that was ‘fine’, since, let’s face it, he made a mistake.

Then he was sacked.

And I’m still not sure why. The reason would seem pretty straight forward, but is it? Here are some issues which should be taken into account:

  1. The Political Aspect – keep in mind that in Malta, almost everything has a political aspect. Or, let us say that many people give a political aspect to everything. Be that as it may, in this case the DJ in question worked at the major radio station held by a specific political party. Since in Malta most people can’t seem to differentiate between a private individual and his opinions, and a political party and it’s opinions, equating the opinions of one to the other, many people seemed ready and happy to point fingers and say that since this guy was deriding hurt people, his party was insensitive. Which is why his political party, in a bid to disassociate itself from the guy, promptly sacked him – maintaining that they were shocked at his behavior and lack of values and that they themselves thought nothing of the kind since they were good Christians and people and respected other people’s sorrow… yada yada yada So, in other words, he was sacked because of politics… or was he?
  2. The Media Aspect – one must remember that it is quite one thing to say something as an individual, and another to say something as a member of the media. The guy in question has, it is known, a kind of ‘image’ as a sarcastic and sharp critic of society, therefore I assume he wanted to shock and attention-seek, which is why he posted said statuses. This was a mistake. Particularly so close to the event. If he had, perhaps, waited a couple of months and slowly introduced the idea, coupling it to the lack of security at the event, that would have been one thing. However, when one works in the media industry one must be doubly and triply aware of how one places words, since that person would be not just speaking for himself, but representing his radio station too.

slide13. The Freedom of Speech Aspect – And here we have it – here is the crux of the argument – WHERE OH WHERE IS FREEDOM OF SPEECH? Yes this guy was an insensitive ass. He spoke without thinking about an issue which is very delicate and deserves respect. BUT isn’t that what Freedom of Speech is all about? Don’t people have the right to say and write what they think? Keep in mind that Malta is a country where censoring movies and theater productions is the order of the day, not to mention lyrics within popular events like the Gozo Carnival (I remember when around five years ago, a number of songs were scratched out from the programme because of the lyrics), as well as Carnival costumes. So, it seems that as a country we still have yet to define that elusive line between freedom of speech and, well, shall I call it dictatorship? Censorship? Or respect? Hmm. In this case, where is one to draw that line?

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Again, I do not condone what he said in any way and that is not the issue I am writing about.

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Point is, was this guy sacked because of politics, because of media-related reasons, or just because his opinion and mode of expression was not a ‘conventional’ one and one shared by others? And by the way, these were just Facebook statuses posted on his personal space for Pete’s sake – why all the fuss?

New article BY MOI – Online Shopping: Is it really Safe?

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Have you ever sold something or bought something online? I’m guessing that most people have – either because the item in question is cheaper, not found in Malta, more to our taste, or for any other reason, buying and selling things on the world wide web has become something common and for many, even a pastime.

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One must be very careful when dealing with monetary transactions online however, since obviously, there are traps and pitfalls one can encounter on the internet, which are quite different from the ones present when you buy an item from someone face to face.

Just the other day for example, I was browsing through Maltapark.com and came across something which I thought would make a good anniversary present for my other half. I contacted the seller, asking more information about the item, however the seller refused to give this information, telling me to contact him on his mobile phone instead. While I understand that it is easier to communicate on the phone than through email or chat, I decided to wait a couple of days, until I perused more websites as well as a couple of stores for the same item, in order to compare prices. I also dislike giving my mobile number to strangers, which is another deterrent when buying something from Maltapark.com (websites like ebay.co.uk or amazon.com are more comfortable in this regard, since they do not need your mobile number, just your address for shipping purposes). I sent an email thanking the seller for his help, and that was that.

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Lo and behold, as soon as I opened my email on Monday morning, I found a very abusive communication from this Maltapark seller, calling me a miser and a time-waster (as well as other unsavoury things) because I hadn’t called him after all. Needless to say I was astounded. Was this the way one treated prospective clients? Of course not. However the fact that this seller was hiding, so to speak, behind his Maltapark username, as well not having to face an actual person ‘in real life’, seemed to have developed the idea that nasty and uncalled for behavior was acceptable. In other words, he felt like he had nothing to loose, so, being anonymous behind his screen, he felt free to vent his frustration at me when he thought that I was not going to buy the item from him. Bad mistake. In fact, I had been about to contact him again, however this episode established that I wouldn’t buy anything from him in a million years for sure, which is what I told him. Thank all the gods I never gave such a person my mobile number, and that Maltapark is not a website which, as such, facilitates such monetary online transactions directly through one’s bank account.

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Even though online sellers and buyers never actually see the person they are doing their deal with, there is still normal civilized etiquette to consider. Just because you don’t meet someone face to face, does not give you the lee-way to transform into a nasty beast. Apart from the fact that a person who hasn’t bought anything from you today, may very well buy something tomorrow, or recommend you to someone else – what about normal human decency? Why do some people feel it’s ok to degenerate into squalid baboons, just because they are hidden behind a screen?

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In the case I mentioned, the transaction (thankfully) never actually took place, so certain problems were destroyed at the root. Things however, can get even worse once one actually pays online and sends the money for an item which, for example, never arrives. How does one get his/her money back? In some cases, like for example when one buys from ebay.co.uk (especially using security websites like paypal.com), there are actual contractual clauses that each seller using the site is forced to adhere to, unless they want to be penalised. However when it comes to other, perhaps less popular or well-known sites, this is not the case at all. What about those sellers or companies which sell you one item, but send you another? How can one complain and enforce their purchase after it’s done, especially if the seller in question lives in another country, and refuses to reply to any emails or calls?

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It is easier for sellers to entrap or misguide buyers, than for buyers to do the same. This is because generally, sellers only post the required item after they have received payment, thereby mitigating any chances of fake transactions or fraud. On the other hand, unless the website used contains the necessary policies and structures, buyers are very much naked amidst the fury of the storm, so to speak, in that they have to trust implicitly that the seller will post the right item at the right address, and not just take the money and run.

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What do you think about buying something online? Have you ever been cheated in an online transaction?

—- A version of this article was published on the online magazine EVE – http://www.eve.com.mt/2015/07/30/are-you-safe-when-shopping-online/

Yesterday I cried… a lot…

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Yesterday I arrived home, I put on the water-heater in the bathroom, I switched my laptop on, and while it was loading, went to see which book I would read during the evening, since I had just finished reading Patrick Rothfuss’ ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’ for the second time. I knew it had to be good to follow up Rothfuss, so I picked Pratchett and Gaiman’s ‘Good Omens’, which I hadn’t looked at in a while.

My pc had come around by then, and I went to take a quick peek at my email as well as Facebook, before starting my household chores. It was then that I saw it… TERRY PRATCHETT HAD DIED AT 66

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I know, I know, he had Alzheimer, and all Terry-lovers knew we had to loose him someday. But ‘someday’ and ‘dead at 66’ are worlds apart. Not only is 66 not that old by today’s standards… THIS IS TERRY PRATCHETT!! He died while I was working at some boring meeting two hours previously, and I did not know anything about it! The earth did not tremble, the sun did not shatter, my heart did not scream in rage!! I just could not believe it! How could the literary genius of our time be dead, and only a few be so concerned as to even comment on Facebook?

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How can the rest of the world not be in a brainless comatose stupor like me??

I cried while I prepared my work-lunch for today. I sobbed while I laid out my work clothes ready for usage at 6am. I shrieked silently and continuously while I showered. I trembled and shook while I wrote my aunt’s birthday card. I keened while I stared disconsolately at my Terry Pratchett books in the living room. I wailed when I looked outside and realized that the spirit of that great writer, my inspiration, the source of all comic and parodic genius, had left the planet. I blubbered as I gazed at the pc screen and realized that for most people this was no big deal. I bawled and hugged myself as I crouched in a fetal position under the bedclothes.

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Then, I blew my nose, shut up, and thought a bit. NO he was not dead. His books were still there. Part of him lived and would live forever. There would be no more books. He will never sign anything for me. I will never meet him. That is the truth. But the truth is also that he made his great mark upon the world, he inspired millions of people. Made them laugh. Made them cry. Made them be alive.

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Maybe now that he’s dead, he will finally get the recognition he deserves. Most literary geniuses only seem to get it once they are gone anyways, for some weird reason. I guess TV channels will just gobble up the Discworld stories, and I really welcome that. I just hope that they don’t rape them, like the last Indiana Jones movie was raped. I hope they continue having that awesome flavor and fantastic weirdness present in previously rendered films like ‘Hog Father’ and ‘Going Postal’.

We’ll see.

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The Joke of ‘Raising Awareness’ – STOP BOTHERING ME!

I am so terribly FED UP of all these Raising Awareness campaigns. Why? Read my article, aimed at the people who continue sending me bloody chain messages on facebook! Please SHUT UP !!

http://www.eve.com.mt/2015/02/28/raising-awareness-about-raising-awareness-is-that-all/

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