Friday, January 20

Of Pasta and Horsepower in Malta

Years ago, a Maltese man opened a pasta factory. Given the country pasta is usually associated with, he chose an Italian name for this company: phonetically pronounced "leh roz-eh" which translates to "the roses." I bet he felt smug about it. That is, until the first idiot pronounced it "leh rows" and it stuck. For decades ALL Maltese people called it so.

Centuries ago, the world felt the need to create a unit to define engine power. Since everyone knows what a horse is, they calculated that a horse develops 735 watts of power. A unit, horsepower (HP), was born. Fast-forward to the 20th Century Malta. Cars became all the rage and people who knew how to fix them found they could make a living out of it calling themselves mechanics. These mechanics wanted to use the cool-sounding "horsepower" unit, but didn't have a clue as to what 735 watts were. Not a problem - the first idiot told his cronies that a 1000cc (1.0 litre) engine developed the same power as 10 horses. No physics, no science behind it - NOTHING. But it stuck. "Is your car a 20 horsepower petrol? It must cost you a fortune in fuel!" Boy, would I love to see 20 horses pulling a 2 ton car up a hill at 120 km/h! As we can see, 200 hundred years after a unit was created, the Maltese people had to start using it and made a mess of it all. I therefore dub this unit "Maltese horsepower."

It's common knowledge that once word gets around in a village, it sticks. This blog post isn't about pasta or horsepower. This post is about small-town mentality and small-town behaviour taking over an island of 450,000 people. We can call Malta a country all we want, but we know that really and truly it's an over-populated town.

Just look at the Prime Minister. He's a glorified mayor at best. It's not like he's got a finger on the nuclear button. Elections are won over some power station, or some bridge, that kind of trivial stuff. We have extremely high voting turnouts, but few people understand what politics is about. Few understand what the left-wing and right-wing really are. They understand red and blue: the colours of the party they vote for. The party one belongs to depends on brainwashing, indoctrination, and 30-year-old experiences. Thankfully, which party is in power nowadays makes relatively little difference.

It doesn't take a genius to know that small-town mentality coupled with tribal behaviour can lead to no good.

More often than not it will turn out the person you're speaking to is uninformed. Don't take anyone's word for anything. Stop. And think. Use your own brain to figure things out. Information is much, much, much more accessible nowadays, but you have to be smart. Want to know what the USA and Europe are doing? Watch RussiaToday. Want to know what Russia and China are doing? Watch CNN. This is the age of the internet - you don't need to take a bus to the library. Double-checking the facts from various trustworthy sources doesn't take much time. Don't be lazy. Nobody has the right to be ignorant anymore.

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