Sunday, October 31, 2004
  A Hint of Humility
I won't talk about work, although clues to what I do can be found in my links and occasional topics.

Another thing I won't do, can't do, is walk in the park, which, according to the Indonesian Heart Foundation, would be good for you ~ if you could find one. "We call on the new government to pay more attention to healthy lifestyles by providing open spaces for the public, such as soccer fields and public parks, and by supporting education policies that highlight the importance of a healthy life," YJI chairperson Nerry Aulia Sani said on Friday.

What people do do for 'relaxation' is to go to shopping malls. Today's Jakarta Post, the paper one that is, has a Focus on Kid's World (sic). There's a photo of a couple of nannies looking extremely bored whilst 2 or 3 kids ride plastic bunnies. "In order to play a game, a child must buy a coin. (eh?) One coin usually costs Rp.1,000. Smaller children may prefer riding the electric-powered horses, big birds or cars that come to life with the insertion of a coin. Those looking for a 'fight' always have the option of video games, through which, at the push of a button they can throttle the enemy. Alternatively, they could drive at full speed along a virtual highway.

And so we inculcate adult behavioural norms.

And adult values are also reflected in bloody awful TV 'game' shows. "Here's Rp 10 million. Spend it all in half an hour. Whatever you buy is yours, any cash that is left must be returned," the show host tells an unsuspecting person, usually someone living in abject poverty. Flabbergasted, the poor man, who does not earn as much from a year's hard labor (perhaps even from two), embarks on a spending spree.

Thirty minutes later the exhausted, yet triumphant, person returns to his shanty. Four men carry a freezer, another a microwave as helpers lug boxes and plastic bags filled with superfluous luxuries. The sudden star of the show parades a cellular phone before his envious but cheering neighbors.

Alas, as the closing credits roll, the single electrical fuse in the one-room house short-circuits as the microwave is plugged in. Unfortunately, the man has nobody to call on his flashy cell phone because no relatives have a telephone.

It's OK though. The audience had a good laugh watching the frantic buying spree, oblivious to the likely fact that ... the family probably does not have cash to buy food next week.

Ramadhan Rules OK
In the face of public condemnation at their perceived connivance at last week's acts of intimidation and extortion conducted at evening entertainment spots generally used by expats, the police have finally arrested some, but not all, of the perpetrators, the Islamic Defenders Front, good Muslims one and all. Actually, that last bit is me being cynical as these thugs have been condemned by the National Ulemas and a rival gang, Pancasila Pemuda, who were Suharto's vigilante group.

That the various bars reopened the following day with extended opening hours, until 1.30am, indicates that the whole episode was a turf war.

Australia, however, is worried about more raids and has upgraded its travel advisory.

President SBY has authorised a crackdown on corruption and told state prosecutors he would closely monitor their performance and punish any wrongdoing. Jakarta's Governor Sooty has (surprisingly?) said that he has banned city officials from receiving Idul Fitri, Christmas and the New Year gifts from parties who might be trying to influence them.

This signal does not seem to have reached the old forces of KKN. We are already seeing a power struggle between a President mandated by the electorate and Legislators who assume that they're mandated by themselves. Whilst the TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces) are prepared to serve under a civilian Minister of Defence, the House of so-called Representatives (of the opposition groups, Golkar and PDI-P), who have yet to start actually working as they're too busy carving up the plum positions, will not accept SBY's choice of TNI chief.

Until the political elite learn to stop behaving like kids in a shopping mall play area and stop patronising the electorate, we will all suffer. Is it too early to start thinking about the next round of elections?

John Peel R.I.P.
The importance of John Peel to Brits cannot be underestimated. He was a "hugely sensitive man who cared very much about his music and his family, but also about how he was regarded by others". The eulogies continue in today's Sunday supplements. His own words can be read here and here.

Through the release of Peel Sessions of often obscure bands on CD, he came to be known throughout the world, even the USA where "aside from a short-lived syndicated program in the early '90s, Peel hadn't appeared on American radio since he spent a few years in the States in the mid-'60s. American music fans listened to him anyway via the Internet broadcast of his BBC show and, before that, shortwave broadcasts of his BBC World Service program and tapes forwarded by kindly friends in the United Kingdom."

If you don't know what he sounded like, or just want to recall his deadpan and occasionally shambolic delivery on your PC, download some MP3s here.

The less I say about this week's performances the better for me so over to you Inspector Sands and the others who had to pay.

Finally, I hope I can post this online easily. Blogger.com has apologised to we bloggers. "Thank you for being patient, we know slow sucks." The eradication of corruption and poverty, and the construction of parks are more important issues than voicing our individual concerns online, but a hint of humility is to be treasured.

Thanks for reading so far.


10:49 am
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