I'm just a kid at heart I've got a lot of non-Jakartass writing to do this evening and am a little short of time, unlike Inspector Sands. He's able to go to meetings with his local councillors. And lo ~ they discuss the decrepit condition of Charlton Lido in Hornfair Park.
The lido is "Greenwich borough's only open-air pool. It was built in 1939 in the Art Deco style, and is "perfect for long, hot, summer days." We lived in Shooter's Hill Road before I went to university and Hornfair Park was just up the road. When I were a lad, my father used to rouse my sister and I at 6 o'clock to go for a pre-breakfast dip. It was free at that time and bloody freezing. I think that in those days it was reckoned to be character forming. Certainly I took a masochistic pleasure in those mornings; I had little choice in the matter. You can picture it here. It was only when I discovered the joys of snorkeling in tropical waters that I began to enjoy totally immersing myself in water.
Of happier memories is Charlton House which "ïs the finest and best preserved Jacobean mansion in the London area". I knew it well because it was my local library and was on my route to the Valley. After exiting the grounds, I would walk part way through Charlton Village and then stroll through Maryon Wilson Park "a beautifully landscaped park contains both informal open grassland and woodlands - all in a valley setting" with "a farm with ducks, geese, chickens a pig, and even a deer enclosure".
Unlike the deer at Monas, these weren't stressed out. Which reminds me; the Busway has a stop for the Monumen Nasional but I can't for the life of me work out how to actually get from there into the recently fenced 'public facility'. Can anyone tell me where the entrance is?
With that neat segué into local affairs, it's worth noting that this evening Megawati Soekarnoputri with Hasyim Muzadi and Amien Rais with Siswono Yudohusodo have participated in a mediated question and answer session live on TV ~ the first ever in this country. It's fascinating to discover that Mega has a voice. She's also offering free circumcisions in order to garner votes. As the election is next Monday and she's lagging in the opinion polls, I think she's cutting it fine.
Java Jive So I'm out of the infinite loop, but therein lies a moral. Having tried to repair my Windows installation, then re-formatted my C-drive ~ twice, I still got the message telling me that my computer had a 'serious error' probably caused by my video display driver. "Fossilised fish-hooks!" as Jennings would have said. Now it seemed as if I would have to buy a new video card. At least, this is what my tame computer expert and noted Jakarta webmaster, the Reveller, suggested. However, he also suggested that I dismantle the innards, which I did. I swept out the cobwebs and silt that Jakarta's haze deposits, unslotted and reslotted the video card and, golly gumdrops, everything is fine.
Except, I can't see Miss Weatherpixie to the right. Is this being blocked by my superduper firewall? Or is it because I now have to download Java? Only time will tell, and that must wait for cheaper rates and a better connection than we have in business hours.
Of course, all this personal stuff is because there's bugger all to say about the Presidential election which is only 5 days away. The Jakarta Post can't get worked up about it. Today it is reduced to quoting meals-on-wheels vendors saying that they prefer watching the football to listening to SBY sing.
Me too, so here's a couple of soccer stories you may have missed.
1. Charlton Athletic defender Mark Fish withdrew from South Africa's World Cup squad on Monday following stinging criticism of his recent performances in the local media, officials said on Monday.
2. And David Beckham's abysmal penalty against Portugal has ended up in Spain... Really. The England captain's comical spot-kick landed in the hands of 25-year-old Spaniard, Pablo Carral, who said he was taking the ball home. "We were sitting in row Q!" said Mr Carral, laughing hysterically.
"Yes, of course I was there. St Patrick's Day, 17 March 1968. The anti-Vietnam war demonstration in Trafalgar Square. It was good-humoured and peaceful. Then a few fiery speeches from Tariq Ali and Vanessa Redgrave rekindled our hatred for the American war machine and its leader, President Lyndon Baines Johnson.
'L, L, LBJ, and how many kids did you kill today?'
And, yes, I joined 15,000 others as we marched to the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square. The smiling police officers began to look nervous. They cordoned off the embassy, shoulder to shoulder. Mounted police helped swell their ranks.
We refused to retreat. The horses charged at us. Over 100 protesters were injured. Tensions rose, ugly scenes followed. Harold Wilson had betrayed us peace-loving lefties. If it was not for the Vietnam War, I might never have become a hippy, a dope dealer, a prisoner. If it was not for prison, I might never have written."
Actually, the last paragraph isn't quite true. I've never been to prison, except as a visitor. But I wasn't given a visa to go to the U.S.A. for 5 years because my photo had been taken from the rooftop of the embassy in Grosvenor Square during the year-long Vietnam Vigil.
And these events did fuel a wanderlust which led to several encounters with Mr. Nice, aka Howard Marks, at his finca in Ibiza.
And life has led me to reading about his further exploits in Vietnam while I too am in S.E. Asia.
Silence is faux gold-plated Thanks to the c.50 visitors to Jakartass who have read nothing new in the past 3 days. This isn't because I don't have much to say, though I don't, but a combination of circumstances.
1. I've been busy.
2. I gave our kid a guest account on my computer to keep him off the streets during his school holidays. My hope was that by the time the new term starts he'll have mastered advanced calculus, which seems to be a curriculum requirement for Grade 3 students. (That's 7/8 year olds for my British readers.)
Forlorn hope; I returned home to find my computer in stasis. Not one bloody programme could be accessed, apparently because my video card had got "stuck in an infinite loop." And here was me thinking that that described my journey home in the cattle class that is an economy commuter train. "Oh dear," I shrieked profanely. So I've had to re-install Windows over the previous setup because it refused to repair itself. And fart around resetting settings and re-installing all kinds of programmes which make my life so meaningless.
This posting won't give you lots of links as per usual, mainly because I want to please a blogger who tries to convince us that he's sober and thinks that blogs like mine are for folks too lazy to read newspapers. Arrogant sod. Well, I think that 'life is shitty/uninteresting etc.' blogs are shitty and uninteresting, but his is a remarkable bit of visual programming. If I only could.
And there hasn't been much of interest in the news anyway.
England lost. It's only a game. Isn't it? Henman hasn't. Yet.
And the presidential campaign here ~ Google please note that today's banner ad is , once again, inappropriate ~ has produced the usual crop of negative headlines involving vote buying, campaign expenditure, gender bias and over-exposure on TV.
So who would you vote for? There's the candidate "who is honest, fair, sides with the people, is authoritative, who can sing (eh?), and wants to work hard...." and one whose new campaign poster I took to be for a new film; this declares Morally Upright. The Future Is Bright.
No Vision Here's the start of my deep and meaningless analysis of the Indonesian Presidential election.
First, there are 5 Presidential pairs:
1.Wiranto - Solahuddin Wahid
2.Megawati Soekarnoputri - Hasyim
3.Amien Rais - Siswono Yudohusodo
4.Susilo Bambang Yudohono - Jusuf Kalla
5.Hamzah Haz - Agum Gumelar
The numbers refer to the numbers that will appear on the voting papers.
Now for my analysis.
1. It is democratic. But democracy doesn't work. So whoever gets elected, will be chosen somewhat arbitrarily.
2. Voting is literally a matter of sticking a pin in a piece of paper. Most electors could do it blindfolded, but former President Gus Dur won't because he's legally blind and therefore been disqualified from standing for the presidency. This also disproves my first point.
3. All five pairs are designed to balance the perceived faults of each other. Knowing the pairings doesn't really help because with only a couple of exceptions they're all connected.
4. Megawati and Gus Dur played together when her dad was President. Presumably they also played with Gus Dur's brother Solahuddin Wahid who is Wiranto's choice for VP.
5. In the Soeharto era, only 3 political parties were allowed: Golkar, which always won, PDI and PPP. The recent election had 24; Golkar just beat PDI - P, the successor to PDI but now with an extra - P for struggle, and PPP came in 5th or thereabouts.
6. Megawati of PDI +P and Hamzah Haz of PPP were both legislative rubber stamps offering 'democratic' opposition in Soeharto's era. She is currently the President and he the Vice President.
7. Gen. (ret.) Wiranto, formerly Soeharto's aide-de-camp, faces UN charges of human rights abuses which occurred in East Timor when he was Army chief. He was later President Habibie's and President Gus Dur's Minister of Defence.
8. Wiranto's choice as VP, Wahid (Gus Dur's brother), has recently resigned as chair of Indonesia's Human Rights Commission.
9. SBY faces possible charges of rights abuses following a raid on Megawati's H.Q. in 1997 which cost a few lives. He was then the Jakarta Military Governor. Until this Presidential campaign he was President Megawati's Minister in charge of State Security.
10. His choice for VP, Jusuf Kalla, is very rich, a fortune originally built up by his grandfather who was a mate of Megawati's dad, President Sukarno.
11. They're all rich, but Amien Rais, the current speaker of the People?s Consultative Assembly (MPR), is the poorest with only Rp.1 billion (= c.$100,000). He's 'amassed' his fortune through lecturing at Gadja Majah University in Yogyakarta.
12. Wiranto has c.$1m, saved from his salary of Rp.5m (=$550 p.m.) as a general and sales of a CD which feature him 'singing'.
13. Megawati's choice of potential VP, Hasyim Muzadi, is, she said, there "to keep corruptive forces away." She was reputedly referring to her husband.
(Disclaimer: Much of the above is either cribbed from the Jakarta Post and intended for publication or hearsay overheard on the Busway and, therefore, not intended to be taken as the gospel truth.)
Which reminds me.
14. Hamzah Haz would like to see syariah (Islamic) law introduced. He seems unclear about how many wives he has got, but denies that he has the backing of any Christian parties.
Finally, for those readers who fail to see the significance of the above, here's another way to choose who you would vote for if you're not Gus Dur.
You'll need calculators for this.
1. How old are you?
2. Multiply this by 5, the number of Presidential candidates.
3. Add 24, the number of political parties which contested the recent election.
4. Take away 9, the biggest digit.
5. Divide by 5, the date of the election (July 5th).
6. Finally, take away your age.
The number you are left with is your choice from the list on the right.
I've just seen a Kylie Monologue video You may not believe this, but I've just seen a Kylie Monologue (spelling?) video - for the first time ever. And I liked it. And her. Maybe it was the track ~ Chocolate ~ or the fact that in a shortish interview before, she came across as a thoroughly nice person, albeit with a very nice bum.
And now for a short tale about how a bunch of international footballers helped out with wedding arrangements. Charlton Athletic player Hermann Hreidarsson, who was in training with the Iceland squad before their friendly with Japan was Matt Jansen's best man. The whole training session was brought forward so Hreidarsson could attend the big event.
And what does Mr. Corner think of his daughter becoming a footballer's wife? "We all have a view about footballers," he said. "To be fair all the players I have met through Matt have all been very nice people. I think it is just the same as in all walks of life - a few bad apples tarnish the reputation of the rest."
And the Danish squad are demonstrating real team spirit according to Charlton's Claus Jensen, as reported in the Khaleej Times. (Where?)
Yep, it's the summer solstice today, so there's a load of positive vibes around. Except that I still can't find anything positive to say about the five pairs of presidential candidates here. In fact, I'm finding it exceptionally difficult to find anything to say about them.
So I'll say thanks instead to Dave Roberts and the Forever Charlton team for the two soccer stories above and for giving Jakartass another plug.
A Listening Post The Observer's Music Monthly has listed the 100 greatest British albums. There are some folks who will denigrate the exercise as being meaningless. These are probably the same music lovers who will cosy up to Van Tutti or argue for hours that the Narciso Yepes version of Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez is far more emotive than that of John Williams. Which it is.
Some will also argue that any list is meaningless on the grounds that they are subject to variables, such as subjectivity. But that's all part of the fun. I admit to having 34 out of the hundred, but few of those would be in my top 100. I'm not going to say that it's not a good list because only Robert Wyatt's Rock Bottom from the so-called Canterbury Scene gets a look in (at 36). I'll let Paul Morley say it for me.
The Big Tick Charlton has been singled out as one of the country's top exponents of improving educational standards among children. Charlton was one of 101 companies given a Big Tick by the Business in the Community Awards for Excellence, in recognition of responsible business practices, and a positive impact both on society and business. Charlton was awarded the Big Tick in The Reed Elsevier Education and Lifelong Learning Award for Using Football as the Educational Tool.
This is great news and is a very public endorsement of why I and my fellow fans are Addicks. As the Spurs and Ireland striker Robbie Keane said, when describing Switzerland before they played England yesterday, "If you tried to compare them with a Premiership equivalent they would be a bit like Charlton. They really work hard for each other, there aren't really any superstar players, but they have got a unit that works for them."
A good football club is not just a bunch of dilettante players (with the notable exceptions in Charlton's case of Scott Parker and Carlton Cole who'll probably leave anyway), but a community which involves all participants and followers. Its fans have a stake. I've been quoted elsewhere describing how as a teenager I felt involved. For me it was a rite of passage; a fifties hero, John Hewie was a neighbour and the Saturday afternoon stroll to the Valley for home games to watch him play gave me a sense of belonging. And since those days I've always appreciated honest endeavour above occasional flashes of brilliance. I became a defender in my own playing days. Not, of course, that I'm in anyway decrying the treasured memories of Rodney Marsh, George Best and Stanley Mathews.
The efforts of the fans to get Charlton back to the Valley and the honesty and Gritt ('scuse pun ~ welcome back, Steve) of Curbs and the board, all of which has taken place in my absence, give me a warm glow.
Aiming for an award by participating in Business in the Community is not, and cannot, be the aim. But it is good business. Customer loyalty and involvement is the best advertising of all. Although I cannot actually find Charlton on BITC's website, possibly because the site lists the 2003 winners, there are enough examples to show that consumers aren't as stupid as marketers may think we are.
I'm also not sure if all of the awards are really justified. Given how BNFL have abused and poisoned West Cumbria since the 1950's, any community activities they 'sponsor' I view as a mea culpa, much like Shell's statement I linked to yesterday. There can be no belated excuses for fucking up the planet in the name of short-term profits.
"48% of the global public do not trust large companies". Global CSR Monitor, 2003
One has to wonder what the percentage is here in Indonesia, but that has to be the theme for another day.
On bended knee It's really good to know that Charlton Athletic are not only a community minded club but are big-hearted enough to do their bit for England. Jeffrey Heskins, the chaplain at Charlton Athletic, thinks he may have the answer to the prayers of worried England fans. To rally fans around, he has rewritten Jerusalem with words inspired by England's Euro 2004 squad. "Football fans all over the nation will be down on bended knee praying for team and country following that defeat. What better way to rally them than to rewrite one of the finest hymns of all time to get the country in the mood?" he said.
If African nations can use witchdoctors to cast spells on their opponents, then I suppose it's OK for us. Let's pray it works out against Switzerland tonight (this morning, Jakarta time).
But the Swiss have a secret weapon. The same article, however, leaves us in suspense: Usually reserved for the overweight and pregnant, support stockings are Switzerland's secret weapon before today's game against England. Coach Jacob Kuhn has encouraged his team to wear the stockings - in fetching white, blue or see-through - at every opportunity over the past two weeks. The players claim the stockings help stimulate ....
Yes? Yes? In my experience, support stockings .....
Of much greater import is that the Chairman of Shell, Lord Oxburgh, has also got religion today. He has decided to save the planet which he agrees is being totally fucked up by the carbon dioxide produced by the oil his company profits from.
Hallelujah. But a bit late. He's going to retire in a year's time as he will be "too senile".
Talking of recycling, I've just discovered that the Jakarta Post re-uses its URLS rather than archiving its articles. I'm not going to check all the links I've given, but if you wondered about the correction I linked to a couple of days ago, it basically stated as follows: The caption on this page should have referred to the "Grammy Awards" and not the "Granny Awards." We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Blogger's block. Oh dear, it affects us all.
Anyway, ta for the pictures of your window boxes Inspector Sands.
We don't need them here because it's a bloomin' jungle.
I've got a few problems in putting posts together too, but that's because from having been seriously under-employed and under-paid I've gone to being over-employed and under-paid.
To avoid further bankruptcy, I'm now commuting across town by local cattle class train. This is exhausting, but proves I'm a real man. Apparently, if I were back in Blighty, they'd cancel the train.
After work tonight, as I said I would last night, I wended my way down to Blok M to meet the Reveller who, naturally, wasn't there, but it was an excuse to use the Busway which I have hitherto praised. Now for a moan. Jet 048 was seriously over-crowded and the thongs, for want of a better word, were loose. Fastened by only one screw to the overhead rail, they'd come loose, so our very jerky gear-changer of a driver induced much squealing from the tossed about passengers.
It's a bug's life Well, not in my house anyway. I came home to find that a year's supply of joss sticks had been burned by 'er indoors to get rid of the mozzies. Tomorrow night she plays hostess to the street's housewives for the monthly arisan. This is a sort of pot luck credit union; snacks are provided and everyone chips in Rp.30,000 (about £2) and someone takes home the pot. Kids run riot and Dads go down to the pub or, in my case, D's Place in Blok M.
I gently reminded her that today is the start of National Insect Week, so she should desist from bugging them. And, as we keep telling those con merchants who regularly come to the gate offering, for a hefty fee, to spray our garden with our water to get rid of our nyamuk (lengthen the 'a' and it's onomatopeic), we don't have any anyway. But Peter Lahiff does.
Before I got washed up on these shores, I was very active in the then Ecology Party. At two or three national conferences I argued against a name change to the Green Party, mainly because of the connotation of naivety. Which we were then. So how nice to see that the Green's are now a respected political force in the UK. And many congrats to my former fellow Lambeth activist, Jean Lambert, on retaining her seat as a London Member of the European Parliament.
So where's the Indonesian Green (+ Red and White) Party?
There is always something new to say about stamps. And the new monorail which will make Jakarta "a great city" And how there will still be a need for roads to cope with ever-rising car sales.
And the defeat of England in Portugal by France last night, after which so-called fans went on the rampage ~ in England.
And in Jakarta ~ Fucking jammy french fuckers! James didn't even have a noteworthy save to make in the second half! Arggggggggggggggg! (Cheers, Martin.)
And the Presidential election.
(Google, please note. Jakartass will not EVER again mention a certain event taking place in the USA in November. There's enough mud-slinging, too few policies, too much money politics, too many dirty tricks and a total lack of a decent debate right here in Indonesia.)
And blogging which turns out to be child's play. (Thanks, Del.)
And UFO's ~ which are now less interesting than stamps.
Odds'n'sods Yesterday's hiatus was as much to do with fiddling around with the template of this blog as a lack of inspiration.
I'm trying to work up some posts about the presidential pairings, but they're not exactly inspiring, are they? Megawati, the current President, has a lousy grasp of Indonesian geography, Gen. (ret) Wiranto sings Ibu Pertiwi (Mother Earth), badly, to the tune of What a Friend I Have in Jesus on live TV and Amien Rais was the only candidate to attend a Presidential debate at the University of Indonesia. He is, so far, the only candidate to expel corrupt politicians from his party. I suspect that although he trails in vox pop polls he could prove the best of the bunch. The voters aren't as stupid or susceptible as once thought.
I've given links on the right to the websites of the five Presidential candidates. They're all in Bahasa Indonesia and visually awful but, luckily, there are only 0.5% of Indonesia inhabitants online.
What has inspired me, albeit by making me feel a total ignoramus where blogging is concerned, is Diamond Geezer. He demonstrates a very visual eye, a genuine interest in London and, through his home site, a curiosity about life.
I don't have a hankering to go back to London; rather, I wonder if there is the potential to do something similar for Jakarta. In spite of the moans we residents have about life here, including those motorcyclists who imagine they're Hell's Cherubs, it might be an idea to have a clearer picture of how this city fits together. It might, but does it?
Ray Charles R.I.P. Oh dear.
I've been a fan of Ray Charles, who died yesterday aged 73, since, oh, 1963. I was a teenager on an exchange visit to France and Pierre had all the great call and response hits such as Hit The Road Jack. This, of course, is Jakartass' theme song.
I went to a concert at the RFH in 1965/6 with Anthea, the great could-have-been love of my student days, and was getting kinda itchy because the Ray Charles Orchestra played, the Raelettes sang ~ but where was the Genius? What, or who, we got instead was Billy Preston. And he blew us away. In those days, dancing in the aisles was not the done thing. But we did, and I presume George Harrison did too because Billy became a great mate and ended up with song-writing credits on Let It Be.
And Ray came on for the second half. No schmaltz; he was just the way we wanted, a little wonky on his legs as he tried not to stray too far from his piano but driving r'n'b with the power of his band and the gospel of the Raelettes. Listen to Otis Redding, and early Joe Cocker, Steve Winwood, Van Morrison and Georgie Fame and ask if they too were at that gig.
Ray's earliest recordings were inspired by the Nat King Cole Trio, music I listened to on the MFP and other cheap labels from Woolworth's. I bought jazz albums such as Soul Brothers with Milt Jackson on vibes, duet albums with Betty Carter and (now Dame) Cleo Laine ~ Porgy and Bess, and Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music which gave the hit I Can't Stop Loving You. And my all-time favourite is Genius + Soul = Jazz, a storming affair with the Count Basie Orchestra, then in its atomic prime, and arrangements by Quincy Jones. Alan 'Fluff' Freeman, hello pop pickers, used From The Heart as his signature tune.
2. More than you probably want to know about Euro 2004.
3. Brit identified. I promised to let you know about the Brit found wandering non compost mentis in Kemang.
Thank you for your e-mail. We have now reliably identified the gentleman who was found in Kemang and are certain he is not the person you mentioned.
Thanks for your interest.
Chips with everything? I don't have a car licence or a credit card ~ just two ATM cards, one of which is for an empty account. So, I for one don't need an implant and can't be automatically debited or otherwise be kept under constant surveillance. I have no wish to be like Tom Cruise in the Minority Report. So, are these guys crazy?
Perhaps they live in a different reality to me. Perhaps? Of course they do. They're rich, yet still want to be noticed.
There's a whole world of surreality out there.
So-called quality newspapers in the UK have archives of articles and, naturally, there are websites devoted to the genre.
It was good to see the feminine side of The Next Joe Millionaire and to watch him cry because he couldn't stand the stress of having to make a choice between two aspirants for his supposed fortune and hunk of a body. For those of you who are pissed off that TV7 didn't finish off the series this week and can't wait for the culmination on Monday, there's a 10 page summary of the last episode here. And if you're gasping for every, and I do mean every, detail of all 6 episodes, but 12 in Indonesia as they have to fit the show round the ads, then check here.
What surprises me is that the writer is, like me, not a fan of this show. So why do we watch it? I'm going to keep asking that question 'til I know the answer. There but for (lack of) fortune? Or a wonderful physique?
Fair enough So Charlton haven't sneaked into the UEFA cup next season through the Fair Play League but manager Alan Curbishley is still content. And for all the players, with the exception of Claus Jensen who's playing for Denmark at Euro 2004, the season is finally over. And the fans, including me, reckon that our club is still the best, at least in terms of its work against racism and for children.
As I type this, Indonesia is playing Sri Lanka in a World Cup qualifier. Indonesia manager Andi Darussalam said, "We will be ready for any possible plot employed by our opponents." They may be winning 1 - 0 at the moment, but I don't think aiming to miss open goals is a particularly good strategy.
Final result: 1 - 0. This means that Indonesia have leapt one place off the foot of the table which is headed by Turkmenistan with Saudi Arabia second, both with a maximum of 6 points gained from playing Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
This isn't going to be a moan about my lethargic couldn't-care-less-ness. I can't be fagged. Of greater import is that suddenly the world is panicking about rising oil prices. Rising prices affect us all, but isn't the fact that supply isn't capable of meeting demand the real problem? And the answer surely is to reduce demand.
Start with the car culture. Here in Jakarta, the 3-in-1 policy should be day-long with a congestion charge. More busways, monorails and suburban trains are needed. At the same time, inefficiencies of fuel consumption need to be eradicated. In the Jakarta Post today is an article, unfortunately not online, which reports that "more than 60% of diesel-fueled private vehicles and 36.2% of gasoline-fueled ones in Greater Jakarta do not meet emission standards."
I'm sure that if the air were cleaner less folks would wish to invest in an air-conditioned box on wheels with which to stare at everyone else stuck in the traffic jams. It would also be more pleasant to use our own power to get around, but for that roads need to be maintained with the needs of the users in mind rather than the profit margins of the contractors. I regularly moan about the condition of the pedestrian areas, but moaning is too easy.
I admit that, although I used to bike around London some 30 years ago, I gave it up after it contributed to a slipped disc. But, as they say, you never forget how to.
And I'll close with a sad story. A fellow expat here is married to an Indonesian lass who he met whilst cycling from Australia to the UK in the late 80's. It was a trusty steed which he then used as a cycle messenger in London whilst saving up to return here. One day it was stolen.
Venus is transitting the Sun today.
On a light news day, I'm happy to give Diamond Geezer another plug, even though he's an Arsenal supporter. He provides a wealth of links to historical and scientific facts, including the following:
1. These transits happen only 4 times every 243 years.
2. Transits occur in pairs, eight years apart. After 2004, the next transit will be in 2012.
3. These pairs occur alternately 105½ years and 121½ years apart. Before 2004 the last transit was in 1882. After 2012 the next transit will be in 2117.
It should be visible here, but don't stare directly at the Sun.
What is not so rare is the arrival of the gravy plane. Seven officials from the Bangladesh Maritime and Agriculture Ministry visited Tangerang on Friday to learn more about the satellite town's programme for giving a boiled egg a day to 144 elementary students. I kid you not.
One piece of good news, following my post on May 30th, is that the city administration plans to establish a 500 square-meter park in every subdistrict, prioritising slum and densely populated areas. That's everywhere then.
Finally, folk are advised to be on the lookout for mutant frogs, which are evidence of environmental damage. Except that here in Indonesia "people will think mutant frogs are some kind of miracle."
Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner that I feel somewhat sad that Routemaster buses are being replaced by boxes on wheels and those bendy things which were introduced in Jakarta a few years back. Has anyone spotted one of those recently? The first Routemaster was introduced 50 years ago. It's a sure bet that no other bus will be built with such reliability. Nostalgia fans can read and see more about them and here and here.
Any chance of Governor Sutiyoso buying a few for Jakarta's streets? Of course, he'd have to bring over some mechanics as well.
And now for something weird. Last week a psychotic Brit was found wandering in the upmarket enclave of Kemang. He had no documents and was, to say the very least, dishevelled. He couldn't say who he was. The picture of him that the embassy circulated made us all wonder how he'd survived here so long in such a condition. The last I heard was that he had been placed in the care of SOS Medika, the clinic of choice for expats with generous company medical insurance.
Last night, I came across a site which is/was the travel diary of a backpacker. I say 'was' because he supposedly went missing a year or so ago on an island off Borneo. Shipwrecked, incarcerated, lived with communities of orangutans and Dayaks, survived a plane crash ~ you name it he did it, The Diary of Marlowe Bidworth, all 20 or so pages of it, could be a Conradian spoof.
What I find very strange, and I makes me wish I could post photos to this blog, is that, spoof or not, the two gentlemen have the same plumpish face, hair colouring and drooping eyes.
A Load of Tosh Every Saturday, the Jakarta Post has an article or two on the editorial page about education and the issues of better teaching or the use of various tools such as the Internet which have both their good and bad points, depending on your point of view or that of other educators which supposedly include the regular contributor. Given that the message in these articles can usually be conveyed in just a paragraph or so and possibly less, I generally assume that the JP pays by the word and/or column inch or centimetre. Fortunately or not, depending on your point of view or stance concerning issues related to education, these articles are not generally posted to the online edition so if you do not live in Indonesia you are denied the pearls which we swi...
Whoops. Got to watch my words in this Islamic country.
I usually can't be arsed to take issue with the tedious and trite crap espoused because, like my fellow educators, I rarely bother to read the whole article. However, there is another contributor today who has pissed me off. Writing from Australia, she suggests that native speaker English teachers shouldn't use their dialects as sometimes we "do not provide the best examples for pronunciation purposes." She has discovered that "a dialect from London ... is difficult for people to understand, if not unintelligible."
Gor blimey, guv. Me an' me mates fink you carnt'uv crashed in, er, Earls Court.
She also has a go at accents which "can prove challenging." In other words, native speakers "should conform to a standard and intelligible model of the language." Like Ozspeak, Sheila?
Listening is a core skill, but no-one needs to hear every word. What learners need is the skill to tune into the central messages. Key words and phrases within a context are sufficient for most communication. Add in facial expressions and gestures and the ability to ask for clarification and Bob's yer uncle. (But who's your aunt?) It's got bugger all to do with accents and dialects.
I wonder if Sheila has spent much time in Indonesia and whether she is able to understand Bahasa Indonesia. If so, does she have problems with, say, Bataks and Javanese who have very different speech patterns.
Maybe both Sheila and I have got it wrong anyway. The Man Who Fell Asleep on the London Underground is an eavesdropper. There are some wonderful quotes here, including, "They are learning English; they are learning about American values." And if you're not sure what these are, check out how writer Elena Lappin was welcomed to America.
Democracy at work Polly Toynbee says:Ask not what your country can do for you ... Stop whingeing, start thinking. Get informed. Make an effort. The country's future is in your hands, not politicians'. At least get out there and goddamn vote, which quite a few said they wouldn't. One small step towards making citizens take democracy more seriously would be to oblige them all to vote.
Our kid says to 'er indoors, if you vote for Gen. (ret.) Wiranto and Solahuddin Wahid - Golkar (Soeharto's power base)/NU (Nahdlatul Ulama = National Assoc. of Islamic teachers) , I'll throw you on the fire; if you vote for Gen. (ret.) Susilo and Josef Kalla - the Democratic Party/Golkar, I'll shoot you; if you vote for President Megawati and Hasyim Muzadi - PDI-P (Democratic Struggle Party)/NU, I'll barbeque you; and if you vote for Amien Rais and Siswono Yudhohusodo - PAN (National Mandate Party)/Golkar, I'll throw you in the flood waters. So that only leaves (soon-to-be-ex) Vice-President Hamzah Haz and Gen. (ret.) Agum Gumelar - United Development Party/Golkar. That makes 4 Golkar and 2 NU. I think.
I half-promised a couple of days ago to offer a guide to the Presidental pairings on offer. Just give me a week or so. Our kid is 7½ and seems to have quite sophisticated political views but I'm bloody confused.
Meantimes, it does look as if Sidney Jones will be leaving Indonesia tomorrow but ICG will remain operational without her. I wonder if our kid agrees with former security minister Gen (ret.)Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who has urged the government to clearly explain the reasons for the deportation. "If it does not, it will become a problem for democracy," he said while campaigning in the South Sulawesi town of Makassar.
Denial of service Today is a public holiday, Waisak, which celebrates Buddha's Day of Enlightenment. Not being Buddhist, I seek other forms of enlightenment but my ISP, Indosat, is denying me access to my spam. It's also denying me the ability to send e-mails. Presumably they're doing some kind of 'servicing', but I can't find out because no-one is answering the customer service phone. Ah yes, it's a public holiday.
Accessing the Internet here in Indonesia is frustrating. For all the nearly 1 million Internet users here, service is appalling. There is only one cable broadband provider, Kabelvision - which I won't honour with a link, and the speed of up and downloading is no better than with a phone modem as it generally depends on how many subscribers are online at any one time.
I occasionally wonder how come cyber criminals here manage to stay online long enough to get credit card details to use fraudulently. At least our local criminals are not reported to have tried to extort money using 'distributed denial of service' attacks instead of threats of violence.
These are the log-on details for all those with Indonesian ISP problems wishing to have a spare connection:
User Name: telkomnet@instan
It was good to see Sidney Jones on TV last night being given support. It's quite possible that this has been a major blunder on the part of the government and the forces behind it which dictate decisions. Word on the street is that she will be allowed to stay, though I've yet to see this confirmed. So I've given the International Crisis Group a permanent link to the right. With the pre-election crackdown on NGOs, it would appear that the forces of reformasi are seen as a real threat.
The current British travel advisory is just one example of that perception. Given that the EU doesn't see the need for dire warnings, one must wonder about hidden agendas. Alternatively, one could think that paranoia is felt by those who deserve it, such as Mugabe in Zimbabwe.
Back in the real world, I've received an invitation to a reception for Queen Liz's official birthday next week. Pity I'll be working.
With the official launch of the Presidential campaign yesterday, it's time to think of how this will impact on our lives here. At some time I'll have to stop fence-sitting and indicate who I'd vote for if I could. I doubt that much heed will be taken by 'them', but forgive me a certain circumspection.
I certainly don't have as much clout as Sidney Jones, Jakarta director of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, but then I haven't issued reports criticising the Indonesian government's actions in Aceh, Ambon or Sulawesi and nor have I analysed the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and Al-Qaeda terrorist networks here. I also haven't commented on the US-Indonesia military ties.
So, for the moment, I remain persona grata, unlike Sidney. After living and working here for 30 years, she - yes, she - has been ordered to leave the country immediately, due to a 'a work permit violation'.
She has yet to be given an official reason for the move, although Indonesia's intelligence chief Hendropriyono, who is close to President Megawati Soekarnoputri, has attacked her reports on terrorism and separatism in the country. Last week, he said some reports were "untrue".
So, it looks as if the paranoid attitude of the Soeharto years is still with us. Hence my reticence to expound too much on the capabilities and merits of the five pairs campaigning for the Presidency. Of course, another difficulty is that none of them seem to have clear policies and some would say that they're all tainted with corruption.
And that's why I started this post with a totally unrelated quote.
I had 234 visitors yesterday, 174 of whom were because of my Addickshun to Charlton Athletic and a link to my end of season posting on May 16th from Forever Charlton. Perhaps of more relevance is that Jakartass has been bookmarked by 102 computer users here in Indonesia.
So, back to my learning curve. A key area for me to get to grips with is the technicalities of posting. What is an Atom feed? Why can?t Blogger put in apostrophes automatically instead of inserting question marks? Is it really necessary to redo all the punctuation? I've got loads more questions which I hope the Blogfather blog can help me with.
I've added a poll to the right, mainly to see if I can. I've also been worried by the amount of spam which I already get so I hope Spam Poison is the answer.
As for the blog itself, it seems that it's breeding a lifestyle. First, as echoed by many bloggers, it's necessary to have a routine. Secondly, there should be a theme. Finally, I feel that it's important to have a consistent voice. Some bloggers are quite literary in their aspirations. I particularly enjoy the vignettes from London Mark.
I'm not the only expatriate blogger, blogging from abroad in their mother tongue - or father tongue or parents' tongue or whatever. The majority of us try to give a global perspective to local concerns
Whereas some use their blogs to give personal home truths, often quite humorously as in My Boyfriend Is a Twat, these can be too parochial for the 'general public'. I picked my nose today and fed the cat.
A nice balance is achieved with Casino Avenue. Congratulations to Inspector Sands on reaching 40,000 visits. Long may you blog.