Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Recycling the news

Given that the Jakarta Post doesn't keep their news items online for long because it recycles its URLs, I've taken the liberty of slightly editing the following article whilst posing one question.

Why does it take a Buddhist organization from Taiwan to demonstrate to the Jakarta administration how the city's waste can, and should, be dealt with?

'Trash donors' sought for charity

"Killing two birds with one stone" is not an empty proverb for low-cost apartment residents built by Taiwan-based Buddha Tzu Chi Foundation in Cengkareng Timur, West Jakarta.

They not only help clean up some parts of the city by collecting non-organic waste from nearby areas but also sort it into three categories of paper, plastic and aluminum cans before selling it. So far, the residents have collected waste from houses, shops, restaurants and other small firms that have agreed to "donate" their garbage to the foundation.

The money derived from the non-organic waste is to finance the foundation's charities, which have been ongoing for seven months.

Abdul Muis, property management division head of PT Graha Bina Mandiri, the company that manages the low-cost apartments, said around 750 residents in three luxury housing complexes in Ancol Timur, Ancol Barat and Muara Karang and 50 firms and individuals in other parts of Greater Jakarta have agreed to donate their non-organic waste.

The agreement allows apartment residents to collect the garbage from house owners and the firms every two weeks. Green bags are provided for plastic waste and yellow ones for cans or aluminum waste. For cardboard and paper, house owners and the firms just tie it up and put it outside their premises.

To pick up the waste, the foundation uses a garbage truck and will rent another one if necessary. "When picking up the waste, the truck crew usually put on music that will signal house owners and company staff to come out of their premises and hand over their waste to us," Abdul said.

The foundation can collect up to seven tons of waste in a month and in the long run aims to produce recycled items from the non-organic waste.

"The objective is to change garbage into gold and the gold will become love among human beings. We hope we can help materialize the dream of the poor to have a decent life through charity," said Sugianto Kusuma, the foundation deputy chairman, adding that the activity was inspired by a similar project in Taiwan.

Meanwhile, back in the realm of we-know-best (because we're the city government), it seems that the recent controversy over the shooting of protestors against a city dump may have been misplaced. According to Nabiel Makarim, the former state minister for the environment, the Bojong waste disposal plant in Bogor regency should have been located in Nambo village.

It doesn't matter too much anyway, as due to the ongoing protests, "If we can't go ahead with our plan to use Bojong, we have no other choice but to use Bantar Gebang. We will use Bantar Gebang for the next five years, as stipulated in our contract with the Bekasi administration," City Sanitation Agency head Selamat Limbong said yesterday during a hearing with City Council Commission D for development affairs.

So that's all right then.



3:30 pm |
Monday, November 29, 2004
O, no. Not another TV channel?
The following, slightly edited, story was in the Jakarta Post recently, but is no longer online.

A new Jakarta-centric television channel has been launched and will focus on entertainment and lifestyle programs, its owner said. O Channel is broadcast from the Sarinah Building in Central Jakarta and first went on air in August.

The MRA Media Group (which runs nine radio stations in Indonesia including Hard Rock FM, MTV Sky and Cosmopolitan) is only available on a restricted basis and will go to full broadcast around Central and Greater Jakarta by mid-next year.

Trial programming on 33 UHF has commenced, with the station screening celebrity promos, testimonials and music videos. Content will be gradually expanded until its full-broadcast launch next year.

"We believe that
O Channel will bring an entirely new standard and viewing experience," Mutia Kasim, a company director and the project chief said.

"This channel is concerned with Jakarta, the city and its people and will change the way we watch and think about television."

Ah, but will it "change the way we watch and think about" Jakarta?

Somehow I doubt it.


6:00 pm |
Sunday, November 28, 2004

Fair enough
When it gets as dark as it got today and lightening bolts are threatening to melt my modem, I disconnect and pretend I'm an ai, which is a well-known crossword puzzle clue.

Yes, I turn into a sloth and generally have a day of rest playing computer games and answering the many emails Ive overlooked in the deluge of spam.

That said, you now have my excuse for this minimalist posting.

One message I did receive was from Alun Evans, co-proprietor of Merdeka Coffee, who I linked to yesterday with the question of whether they are followers of the Fair Trade movement. They are, I'm happy to report. This is what Alun wrote: Indeed we are advocates of fair trade and try and follow the fair trade principles (ie: minimums per kilogram for greens (unroasted beans) from smallholders and co-ops that normally get hit hard by brokers). We also try and go a step further by assisting our partners to develop the quality of their beans so they can market directly to specialty roasters in the US, Europe and Austra-Asia. At the end of the day we would like to see each and every one of our smallholders being able to increase their revenue through quality, while still maintaining a sustainable approach to the environment.

If you're a fan of Indonesian coffee brews, whether here or internationally, do check them out.

I would be interested to hear of any other Fair Traders here so I can give them a link too.



7:00 pm |
Saturday, November 27, 2004
  Another Saturday

My pop3 mailbox was non-operative this morning. Was it me or Indosat?

A restart later and I discovered that Jakartass got a mention in the b3ta newsletter because they too like Our Kid's proposed playmate. They are bit pervy in their comments though.

Parents: Worried your child will be abducted? Get them to lug around this life-sized model to use as a decoy. That's the only market we can think of for this travesty of the doll-maker's art. That, or some sort of RealDoll for paedos. (Warning: This is work friendly.)

What I do know is that Our Kid's playmate wouldn't have buggered up his computer. He's 'lost' the programmes/software whatever for listening to sounds. I can't find it either; I've checked the recently bought innards, pushed the bits connected to the mothereffingboard, run the hardware wizard etc. etc. and we still can't hear those annoying burblings that are an essential of all his dinosaur CD-roms. I suspect that we need to get his computer 'serviced' up at Mangga Dua where they didn't provide the back-up programmes.

Inspector Sands, who blogs from my childhood stomping ground of Charlton, has been suffering from bloggers block, but thankfully seems to be working through it with the helpful comments (check them out) of fellow sufferers.

As yet, bloggers block isn't a problem for Brandon who is visiting parts of Indonesia for the first time with a sense of humour and wonder and recording it in words and excellent photos at Java Jive. I'm sure that b3ta would enjoy his post about semen, which is Indonesian for 'cement'. (Note: Brandon has now got his own website having, quite sensibly, shifted from blogspot.com who keep tinkering and making life difficult for the rest of us.)

I've given links to two newcomers to Jakarta's blogging scene, Indo Ian and his partner, Batik Baby who is bearing their baby. As far as I can make out, they are new colleagues of Brandon. They both have that sense of 'wow', which we long-term expats lost many years ago. This is not to say that our curiosity levels are that much lower; it's just that we've found our comfort zones.

Diamond Geezer recently posed a set of questions to find out if he's a typical blogger. (The answer is a categorical NO in my opinion, as his musings remain consistently interesting and occasionally inspiring.) One of his questions related to our coffee consumption ~ do we or don't we?

Well, I do. How could I not living in the land of Java? I was interested to find Merdeka Coffee this morning. Based in Sentul, near Bogor, and run by Arlini Evans and her N.Z. expat husband, they buy from smallholders from throughout Indonesia. Their site offers the potential to educate us all about the many varieties of coffee grown in this vast country.

If they share the aims of the Fair Trade movement, expect a permanent link.

Now for another cup of Java and back to my comfort zone.



2:28 pm |
Friday, November 26, 2004
What is it?
It comes in nine colours.
This unique, patented device allows for the safe transport and storage.
It is of course dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
Its other features include multiple small perforations to facilitate ventilation .... and a sturdy locking mechanism to keep it closed.

Yes, it's a ....



11:00 pm |
Thursday, November 25, 2004

Our kid wants a playmate
To be honest, 'Er Indoors and I don't want and can't afford the extra hassle. But we did promise to think about it. The internet seemed to offer the solution.

Remember what it's like to have an eight year old around? Collectible doll artist Julie Fischer certainly does, and so she's created "Hannah," a long-limbed, lively strawberry blonde with bright eyes, unruly hair, and a non-stop personality that will amaze you! To enhance the look of a real little girl, this vinyl doll wears cross-stitch embroidered denim overalls over a pink blouse with lace trim. She even has tiny flower earrings with sparkling pink stones! Such a pretty girl!

Best of all, Hannah is constructed and weighted so you can pose her almost any way you can think of! This exclusive Julie Fischer doll from Ashton-Drake is such a realistic doll that you simply must have her for yourself. One look and you'll love Hannah forever - order now! Only $199.99.

Those of you who like "a soft baby-powder scent" may prefer sweet little Baby Matthew and his adorable twin sister Baby Madison. Or maybe they'd be b3ta off elsewhere.



1:30 pm |
Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Quote of the day (before today)

"I am not a racist. And I don't even have to defend myself from such an accusation. My business partners, the Gold brothers, are Jewish, my solicitor is Jewish, my accountant is Indian and one of my best friends is black."
David Sullivan, the co-owner of Birmingham City Football Club who labels his colleagues according to their ethnic origin or skin

Munir investigation ahoy

So the House of Representatives agreed during a plenary meeting yesterday to press the government to establish an independent team, under the President's supervision, to assist an investigative team formed by the National Police and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs into the death of Munir.

The House also called on the government to hand over a copy of Munir's autopsy report to his family.

What mystifies me is why the Dutch government will only deal with the Indonesian government whereas the autopsy report into the recent death of Yasser Arafat was handed to his wife, rather than the Palestinian Authority. Is this because the Dutch retain strong economic ties with Indonesia which they don't want jeopardised?

SBY, upon his return from the APEC-CEO Summit in Santiago did not not respond to demands from rights activists for the establishment of an independent team to probe Munir's death, but did say, "Regarding Munir's death, the Indonesian government promises to keep the investigation transparent and accountable. Those who are guilty will face sanctions."

Further to the police brutality over the opening of a waste processing facility at Bojong village, Bogor, State Minister for the Environment, Rachmat Witoelar, blamed the Jakarta and Bogor administrations for their failure to disseminate information to the residents beforehand. This corroborated a statement by the West Java governor, Danny Setiawan, who said that he had never received the environmental impact analysis for the facility, which is located in a residential area.

West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Edi Darnadi said he would facilitate a meeting between all those involved to find an amicable solution to the problem, and that he had sent internal affairs officers to question the police personnel who had been involved in the incident.

SBY has also prioritised this investigation. As always, watch this hyperspace.



6:00 pm |
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
  Cover up 2
Today I am talking about the weather. At 77ºF today it's bloody freezing so I've donned a waistcoat over my T-shirt. I might have to put on socks as well. I really don't like the rainy season.

And the cover up of Munir's assassination continues with the House of Representatives only agreeing to hold a meeting to discuss another meeting in order to set up an investigation. The House Commission III on Law, Human Rights and Security chairman Agustin Teras Narang only pledged that it would discuss the proposal in a plenary meeting.

"Without doubt we fully support the investigation into Munir's death; however a formal endorsement on the establishment of an investigating commission can only be given by a House plenary meeting," he said, concluding a meeting between the commission members and human rights activists. Munir's widow, Suciwati, also attended.

In my writing as Jakartass, I do try to keep intemperate and/or emotional language at bay. I save that for my verbal outbursts. Imagine my delight and surprise therefore at today's editorial in the Jakarta Post. This is an honourable newspaper and what follows is an excerpt.

Munir, politics and murder

The cruelest fate has befallen the sincerest of men. He spent his life absolving the glories of our blood and state. But his dauntless effort was indemnified by a poison chalice. An unrighteous end to a noble life.

We are now indignant after his widow, Suciwati, received death threats reportedly warning her against connecting the death of husband to the military.

Suciwati has for years been the quiet heroine behind her husband. She was the sustaining light during the darkest hours of her husband's ordeals in voicing the plight of those who had been politically silenced.

Standing beside Munir, she was his silent partner enduring years of terror in quiet suffering in the profound belief in justice. She never captured headlines, neither did she ever seek to exploit her valiant contribution. Even in her mourning she has not been able to bury her husband in peace. The terror that Suciwati and Munir fought so hard against returns to haunt her.

How callous can the perpetrators be?

We can only observe in admiration her determination not to succumb to premeditated terror. Our moral support goes out to her and our commitment to help propel a thorough investigation into Munir's death is assured.

Hear, hear.

Brimob rule
Further indignation is aroused with the news that residents of Bojong near Bogor, some 60 kilometers south of Jakarta, who have been protesting against plans to open a massive dump for Jakarta's waste, were shot yesterday by members of Brimob (the Mobile Brigade, an élite police force equivalent to London's infamous Special Patrol Group of the 70's and 80's).

National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar has today ordered an inquiry. "There must be an investigation of our own personnel. Were conditions that bad to warrant such actions?"

This is yet another instance where the lack of a coherent dialogue, essentially in this instance about an efficient disposal system for Jakarta's non-recyclable waste, has lead to an emotional response.

I regret that it takes so long for a country to learn maturity.



5:30 pm |
Monday, November 22, 2004

Cover up

I'm not talking about the weather here in Jakarta. According to my Firefox Weather Extension, it's 90ºF (= 36ºC). What will be needed in Jakartass Towers is an umbrella for protection against the threatened thunderstorms and roof leaks.

I have already linked to the background story of the death on September 7th from arsenic poisoning of noted human rights worker, Munir, on flight GA-974 to Amsterdam where he was to take up a scholarship for an MA in Human Rights.

Developments this weekend give rise to further concern.

1. The Dutch government took over two months to complete the official autopsy report, which was handed over to the Indonesian government by the Dutch Embassy here last Thursday.

2. Munir's family, and, in particular, his widow Suciwati, have been denied access to the report. On Friday, Usman Hamid, coordinator of Kontras, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, was quoted as saying that Dutch authorities had told him they could only give more details if requested by the Indonesian government.

3. Suciwati, received a death threat mailed to her house in Bekasi, West Java. A brown box filled with a severed chicken head, legs and intestines came with a typed message saying 'Do not connect the TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces) to Munir's death. Want to end up like this?'

4. Jakartass sources, returning to Jakarta from their kampungs following the Idul Fitri holiday, whisper confirmation of TNI involvement.

Note: Family and kampung connections are the strongest ties here in Indonesia. As much as Jakartass detests gossip, the gossip grapevine was the underlying force of opposition during the Suharto years and was a powerful factor in his downfall. It is, of course, possible that the TNI was not involved and that other malignant forces are at work.

Jakartass supports reformasi. This must include the inalienable rights of individuals to speak out against perceived injustice, whether perpetrated by individuals or organisations.

Why, therefore, is the Indonesian government sitting on the report into Munir's assassination? A continued cover-up will only breed further gossip which, in turn, could well lose SBY the trust of the electorate.

Hivos (Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries) in The Hague, Netherlands, has issued a statement describing this issue as a test case for SBY. This is true. He was elected because the people perceived him to be the only presidential candidate able to meet their aspirations. Given his troubled relationship with the legislature with its entrenched Suharto-ist forces, he must now demonstrate supreme statesmanship.

Jakartass does not have any connections in the Presidential Palace so we await developments with keen interest.



1:30 pm |
Sunday, November 21, 2004

I remember Band Aid twenty years ago, that's the record I mean and not the American version of Elastoplast.

I was in Ladakh, India, for Live Aid so I missed it. I did manage to get to a mini-festival for Drug Aid in Goa though. There were about eight performers, of which six were groups who had a girl who sang Smooth Operator, the Sade hit at the time, and a folk singer whose biggest hit had been a song for tolerance called Jesus Was A Hippy. I can't find anything about it through Google, but I remember references to sandals, poverty, a beard and long hair completed the analogy.

Thanks to Bob Geldof, the pirating of cassettes ceased in Indonesia in 1988. However, the piracy of DVDs and software continues. N.B. These figures are out-of-date and are probably much worse in spite of (because of ?) Microsoft's efforts. There has also been an increase in shipping piracy.

Finally, if you've followed all (any?) of the above links, you definitely deserve a compliment and here it is: An ocean-going tin of cross-eyed mussels could never match the melodious burblings of your sister's husband.

What? You don't like it? Then try this one.



10:30 pm |
Saturday, November 20, 2004
  In perspective
Some folk think that Jakartass has gone bananas, but they're confusing me with this lady.

I figure that she's used a calculator to enumerate her collection, possibly one of diese. or one of those.

I can't say that I have an interest in mechanical devices. After all, you don't have to know how a pen works in order to be able to use one.

However, Worldometers is intriguing. In the time it has taken you to read this far the world's population has increased by 100, 1 book has been published and a hectare of forest has been irretrievably lost.

They don't give the statistics on alcohol consumption, but these are sobering thoughts.

I should've known
Thanks to The Swanker for pointing out that SBY is concerned about Jakarta's problems.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has stated his commitment to overhauling the country's sprawling capital. Jakarta's facelift will center on managing its most pressing problems: traffic, garbage and waterways.

As regular readers will know, I've brought up the topic of waste before so it's a little pleasing to see this concern in print. I've also written about the chaotic traffic situation too many times to list. I'll be transferring edited versions of Jakartass posts to Jalan-Jalan Jakarta when I can get a round tuit and a decent connection.

Finally, I may have been remiss in not having come across the quarterly magazine Inside Indonesia before, but then, I'm not an Australian nor an academic. This is an essential read for all with an interest in Indonesia beyond beaches and pub crawls.



1:00 pm |
Friday, November 19, 2004
  Greetings Oh Inspirational One.

My pride is shattered, which is why I'm writing to you.

I note that J in your Bloggers A-Z for the Rest of the World is already taken.

I do like your choice of the J-Walk Blog, especially as courtesy of his links I can now tell Our Kid what a devious man Charlie Bucket's Grandpa Joe was. This will be a shame as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the current bedtime reading ~ Our Kid's that is, not mine*.

No, what disappoints me is that here we are in Jakarta with as many as 20 odd, unique, visits a day to our blogs, Jakartass and Jalan-Jalan Jakarta. (Java Jive, is also based here, although this is essentially a photoblog.) That Jakarta, a great metropolis has only 3 or 4 English language blogs (and a few hundred in Indonesian which are generally focused on "I kissed the cat and hit my boyfriend.") indicates that we need more friends. Those that we do have, generally in Asia, can be found in the links to the right in Firefox, and floating somewhere at the bottom of this screen if you're still using I.E.

I note that you give Inspector Sands a link. Is only one Charlton supporter enough?

You may also like to know that my readership is refined, with wide interests. These are the stats for my last 10 referrals:
5 jakartass (Google)
1 indonesian whores (Yahoo)
1 international sperm banks jakarta indonesia (Google)
1 jakarta girls (Yahoo)
1 jakarta massage (MSN)
1 John Peel funeral speech MP3 (Google)

Surely you ll agree that my claim to J is valid?

Ho hum.

*PS. I'm actually reading John Le Carré's Absolute Friends. This seems somewhat appropriate as Indonesia ponders its own classic whodunit mystery with human-rights advocates in Jakarta fearing for their lives. Like any of British mystery writer Agatha Christie's famous novels, this mystery has a body, evidence of poisoning, and motives galore. The setting, however, is hardly the English countryside.

Do read Bill Guerin's article for the full background. Jakartass will no doubt be returning to this theme of old forces being unable to reconcile themselves to the new paradigm of reformasi. There's also the story of V.P. Josef Kalla, temporarily in charge whilst SBY swans off to the APEC conference, recently meeting Suharto's next-to-last V.P. Sudarmomo who now runs the Suharto's yayasans (so-called charitable foundations), which are fronts for the former despot's ill-gotten gains.

Now, why is this story not still online in the Jakarta Post?
Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you?

Right of Reply

Dear Jackass,

I suspect our alphabet is too short. There should be 6 Ls, 9 Bs, 3 Ws and yes, a couple of Js. No way can any alphabetical list ever be all-inclusive, and it's the lucky bastards with an X, Q or Z that sneak in.

You'd be amazed how many other blogs I wasn't able to include.




11:30 am |
Thursday, November 18, 2004
  A New Movement
Taking place in Beijing as I write this is the Fourth Annual Summit of the WTO. You may not have known this because the World Toilet Organisation is a relatively small movement and, despite the fact that everyone shits and pisses, few are prepared to talk about it.

As the organisation's founder Jack Sim has said, "A toilet is a basic human right and this has been neglected. In the past, there was women's liberation, leprosy, AIDS and the sexual revolution. All these taboos have been broken. The toilet problem is probably the last one."

Jakartass does not share Sim's view that toilets are "a basic human right". They're a basic human need. I do however agree with his comment that the toilet taboo must be broken. Hence the Jalan-Jalan Jakarta launch of the Jakarta Good Toilet Guide.

In Jakarta, 'public toilets' are provided for the convenience of shoppers in malls, yet they vary in cleanliness according to the effluence of their clientele.

John Aglionby, Jakarta resident and Guardian correspondent, wrote the following in 2001: The local government in Seoul, South Korea, is trying to improve public toilets by awarding cards to the owners. Those that are unsatisfactory are yellow carded and if they fail to improve they are shown an orange card and then, the ultimate humiliation, a red card. They are also shamed in the local press. Owners that do improve their conveniences are shown a blue card and then, after further improvement, the ultimate prize of a green card. They are lauded in the media.

It is time for the City Council to stop going through the motions by spouting crap about residents polluting rivers, time for them to stop pissing around, get off their backsides and to meet the needs of its citizens, .

Tomorrow is World Toilet Day. It would have been nice to celebrate it in style.

Mens' Room



10:30 am |
Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Bah Humbug!
We may be still celebrating the end of Ramadhan, the fasting month, but I'm sure it's time to plan for Xmas. Elsewhere, lights are lit, shops are no doubt full of festive fripperies and some folk have even had their Xmas dinner!

We expats in Jakarta celebrate things differently. Firstly, we need to get the shopping for our loved ones 'back home' done now, especially if we rely on the postal service, or lack of one. There are usually a few bazaars organised by expat wives associations. These are well-organised, as shown by this list of those held last year. Naturally, this year's list will be online next year.

Given that we're all aliens abroad, I've found a few appropriate presents.

Guys, need some space, preferably far away? An acre of Mars, Venus or the Moon will only set you back £25. If you should get abducted by aliens whilst visiting your homestead, then a Location Earth Dog Tag should help you eventually find your way home. If you fail to return, you will be entitled to a full refund of the purchase price. A bargain, I think you'll agree, at $12.99.

Ladies may well be more down-to-earth and wish to keep their menfolk closer to hand, so to speak. You could do no better than enrolling in The Exotic Experience. Show your man how sexy you really are. Come along and improve your confidence, and spice up your personal life. Look sexy, feel sexy, and be sexy. For all age types and for any shape or size. Fun, friendly and professional, covering all aspects of Pole and Lap Dancing, great for fitness and flirting alike! Also learn to Striptease, Curvaceous Cardio, What to wear, Podium Dancing, Posture, Etiquette and Make-Up tips. Light lunch and drinks are included. Only £75.

Once you've demonstrated your newly-honed skills, you'll want to know that your man is worthy. Does he stand the test of time? Invest in a Sex Timer, only £5.99.

Those of you who never forget the true significance of Xmas, which is that the correct spelling is Christmas, may wish to buy 'Er Indoors some fridge magnets of your Saviour.

Sports fans are also catered for with Inspirational Statues of Jesus suffering little children. Or something.

are you doing Jesus?

Finally, give a thought to Emyl Christmas here in Jakarta who is seeking an honest and simple man who is mature both personality and spiritualy.

Come on guys. This is the season for giving.



5:00 pm |
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
  No news is ..?
We're still on holiday; our street is quieter than yesterday, possibly because several families have only just left the city to return to their families' kampungs. The Jakarta Post hasn't returned either, with the only interesting story online being that of the convicted Bali bomber Imron, who was last seen enjoying a cup of Starbucks with the police chief, not being allowed to attend the funeral yesterday of his baby son.

I see that Colin Powell, Bush's "voice of moderation" has resigned, though surely this was not unexpected. And so the world becomes increasingly polarised and infinitely more dangerous as the eye for an eye syndrome leads us all to blindness.

Elsewhere, across the board, wit and cleverness are considered a very British trait. Mind you, on a slow news day, Jakartass has problems in matching these expectations. As, apparently does the British Council. They may be moving into new premises here in Jakarta, in the Stock Exchange building if you want to know, but their new logo distinctly underwhelms MPs because its four blue dots completely fail to reflect the council's mission which is ...?

Apparently, as a Brit over 50, Jakartass is nostalgic for high tea and Rin Tin Tin. Now, this is an old article but it was distinctly old hat even when it was published, although I do miss some 50's TV, mainly because local TV is no better. Some folk had the temerity to suggest that food was better in the 50s. Eh? I don't remember our ration books having coupons for Manchester tart jam (a subtle pink mix of cherries, bananas, sugar, vanilla and coconut).

So, I suppose the real news today must be that this is my official post no.200. I think I'll watch a DVD to celebrate.



6:00 pm |
Monday, November 15, 2004
A moment's silence

I did know that yesterday was Remembrance Day .

That is the day when Britain mourns its own war dead. My family has few casualties of war; my grandfather was injured at the Somme in World War I, my father survived World War II and I wasn't arrested at any anti-Vietnam War demonstration. We have been relatively fortunate, unlike those who mourn loved ones lost in unnecessary wars .

Maybe I remain an unashamed idealist, but I have problems in justifying any war. In every generation there are evil bastards who grab the world's attention, generally when they start slaughtering their own citizens. Some, such as Suharto, are given tacit support by so-called civilised and democratic countries who gang up on other despots, such as Saddam, who fail to support their geo-political interests.

The resulting cannon fodder is what is commemorated every year. The numbers are so vast that individual sacrifices are either over-looked or become as symbolic as the Unknown Soldier. How come the number of deaths among the occupying/liberating forces in Iraq are known whereas the "collateral damage" among the 'liberated' population is classified or guestimated?

For me, therefore, Remembrance Day is jingoistic nonsense.

A moment's silence should be observed every day for Man's inhumanity.



4:00 pm |
Sunday, November 14, 2004
  Anal retentive? Moi?
Having this week exhibited a couple of pictures and links of toilets in loo of something supposedly more serious, I stand accused of appealing to base instincts.

If I had listed all the known euphemisms we use for going to the bathroom, then I would admit to an anal complex. Or show you my collection of knuckle dusters. "I recently purchased a pair of paper weights from brassknucklescompany.com. Only a couple days later i was forced to use them on some guys face. Needless to say, the knuckles are something i would suggest to any friend, or anyone i care about."

If you still want to meet someone who has problems, then allow me to introduce you to 'Doug', who aims to download every song ever recorded. Ever!?

He would probably upset the lazy git behind Audioscrobbler, a project to monitor what you listen to on your computer and, ultimately, your sound system. "The original train of thought was to have a lazy way of finding the best new music," says Richard Johnson, 22, who built the Audioscrobbler software as part of his final year university dissertation."?I didn't want to have to read all the magazines, trawl record shops and listen to the radio all the time."

Easy, easy
That was the song I heard the Addicks singing at the end of last night's match at the Valley after a 90 minute 4-0 hammering of Norwich. I didn't need Audioscrobbler for that, but I do wish I'd recorded it.



5:30 pm |
Saturday, November 13, 2004
  Tale of two funerals and an autopsy

Today is the eve of Idul Fitri, the end of Ramadhan, the fasting month. This is by far the best time to be a resident of Jakarta. A quarter of the population have returned to their kampungs in a ritual called mudik and the city is quiet and pollution levels minimal. The Muslim majority seek to renew and refresh family and community ties. New clothes have been bought and will be distributed tomorrow along with varying amounts of money to demonstrate the prosperity earned through one's labours in the big cities. The rest of us either take an extended holiday, perhaps in Bali or Singapore, or visit friends.

A period of calm descends; traffic is minimal and the Jakarta Post will undoubtedly have a photograph of an empty Jalan Thamrin, the main drag, in its next edition to be published on Wednesday in line with a government directive.

SBY has returned from the funeral of Yasser Arafat in time to celebrate this major festival with his own family. Whilst Indonesia has consistently supported the establishment of a Palestinian state and Jakarta hosts its embassy, there is no place for one for Israel. Jakartass rarely comments on geo-political matters, but on this issue I believe that SBY and his government should follow the lead established by Gus Dur before he became president and promote active dialogue between the two parties, as advocated by the Peres Center for Peace. Recent polls indicate that dialogue activities are believed to be a most efficient method for improving the attitude of the people towards the other side in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It is mildly encouraging to note that Bush and Blair seem to agree.

Mystery surrounds the cause of Arafat's death. Not so that of Indonesian human rights activist Munir who died two months ago on a flight to Holland where he was about to take up a university scholarship. It has been revealed that he died of arsenic poisoning. It is to be hoped that the recent appointment by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Abdul Rahman Saleh, an attorney-general with a squeaky-clean reputation will lead to a thorough investigation. Munir's assassination occurred during the last, seemingly paranoic, days of the Megawati regime. With the hopes of the nation resting with the first peoples' president, it is vital that the perpetrators are caught and seen to be brought to justice.

John Peel was also laid to rest yesterday. The funeral was painfully intimate and often very funny. And it left Peel's fans ... emerging into the autumn afternoon humbled, choking with affection and loss. Jakartass rarely feels homesick, but this eulogy is genuinely moving.

I wish I'd been there.


1:30 pm |
Friday, November 12, 2004
  Can you do beta than us?
Jalan-Jalan Jakarta is still in its beta-stage. I only mention this because at present the Reveller and I are the sole contributors to what we hope will be a forum and informational tool for English-speaking Jakarta residents.

Whether our notion is achievable here with our erratic connections, narrow broadbands and lofi wifi remains a matter of conjecture and there are some glitches to iron out in terms of font size and other formatting.

However, given that there have been more than 1,000 hits in just over a month, a faster growth-rate I'm unhappy to admit than my miserable effort here, there is obviously some potential in our concept. Have a look at Londonist for an idea of what is do-able.

Now here's a little something I prepared earlier:
The sight of Our Kid, and lots of others, pissing in a got (storm drain) and of taxi drivers watering trees leads to the inevitable conclusion that Jakarta has a shortage of places for those caught short. Where do folks go when they want to go?

After lengthy consultations, Jalan-Jalan Jakarta has agreed to be the head of a Campaign for Crappers. Yes folks, we're searching for shithouses.

If you know of one which is available for public use, preferably round the clock, please let us know its location and condition.
*Is it for squatters or sitters?
*Do you need to take your own toilet paper?
*Is the graffiti a good read?
*Is it worth a star rating?

This is serious folks. If the Australian government has a National Continence Management Strategy and can offer a National Toilet Guide to its outback outhouses for the incontinent on the continent, it shouldn't be beyond the powers-that-be on the city council to offer something similar.

After all, they seem to have a lot of crap policies.

Jalan-Jalan Jakarta H.Q.



10:15 am |
Thursday, November 11, 2004
  Worst song ever?
Admit it. Lists are great fun when you've got nowt else to blog about. They engage readers, producing responses such as crap and wow, really? So the thought that the Beatles' 1968 song Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da has been voted the worst song ever in an online poll boggles my mind.

The Jakartass music collection is very eclectic and contains a fair share of dross and diamonds. I make no apologies for this as if I were a Newcastle supporter this blog would have been named Magpie Minds or some such.

I rarely listen to the radio, but if I did and heard the following 10 'songs' I'd change stations immediately. They are on various MP3 collections which I've bought because there were enough gems in the dozen albums on one CD to justify the enormous outlay of c$1.
Little Arrows - Leapy Lee
Una Paloma Blanca - Jonathon King
Johnny Reggae - The Piglets
Mull of Kintyre - Paul McCartney
Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree - Dawn
Achy Breaky Heart - Billy Ray Cyrus
Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep - Middle of the Road
Feelings - Barry Manilow
The Streak - Ray Stevens
Please Release Me - Englebert Humperdinck (My pleasure, Bert.)

Some folk actually build album collections based on their unlistenability. Check out Frank's Vinyl Museum. He has several versions of Beatle songs for you to listen to which prove that the originals weren't actually that bad. Place your jaw squarely in the open position. Click the audio links and prepare to be amazed.

Barking Mad


PS. If, like me, you know London, check out Diamond Geezer for his highly rated mixture of lists and quizzes.


1:04 pm |
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
  Firefox is official
I've been extolling the virtues of Firefox, the free internet browser that is daring to take on Internet Explorer, for a couple of months. I was getting fed up with popups, spyware and overall computer operations which seemed to be caused by problems embedded in my Microsoft package.

I installed Firefox a couple of months ago and everything has been fine since; I still use AdAware as a diagnostic tool, but, unlike before, I haven't found anything I didn't want. A particular feature I also like about Firefox is the tab function; related pages can be loaded within the same window. Above all, this browser is free. This is not to say that Jakartass is a tightwad, but rather it has been developed in the true spirit of democracy and free speech. It is not controlled by Bill Gates or, heaven forfend, Rupert Murdoch.

Firefox has been downloaded 8,000,000+ times, a remarkable number given that it is only being officially launched today.

Get Firefox!

If you are viewing this page with Firefox, then you may notice that I have signed up for a Creative Commons licence. What this means is that some of my writing is pure me, the Indonesian Highway Code for example. However, given that the majority of my posts are, like those of the majority of bloggers, either plagiarised or are piffling and of ephemeral interest to me and thee, dear reader, then please feel free to make use of them as you will ~ with proper accreditation and trackback of course. This is acceptable as it isn't too blatant a ripoff.

And if you don't know what trackback is, nil desperandum, check this blog glossary.

Now to explore my web news feed.

STOP PRESS: Charlton in League Cup Semi-Final


3:00 pm |
Monday, November 08, 2004
  Another crappy Monday
On Mondays I catch a taxi in a one-way four lane highway. Obviously I face the oncoming traffic in order to flap a limp hand at any approaching empty taxi that may have air-conditioning.

This morning, one pulled up to the curb which I stepped off. That was when I got mown down from behind by an ojek (motorcycle taxi) trying to squeeze through the gap between the curb and the taxi.

I think the driver was impressed by my command of Indonesian profanities but I'll now have to amend the Indonesian Highway Code I posted here.

6. Always look both ways twice in a one-way street.

In keeping with my shitty mood, I paid a visit to the Toilet Museum. If, like me, you like a big read in the little room, I recommend taking a laptop with a wifi connection.



4:18 pm |
Sunday, November 07, 2004
  So ya thought soya was good fo' ya?
I certainly do (did?). According to the Annie Appleseed Project, the long term use of tempe at all stages of life, without recognised adverse effects, suggests it is relatively safe at the levels of intake seen in Central Java. Apparent health benefits are bowel health, protection against cardiovascular disease, certain cancers (e.g. breast and prostate) and menopausal health (including bone health).

But then I read in today's Observer that my sperm count is probably down. Not that it particularly matters as at my age my child making days, and nights, are done with. Mind you, I could probably still benefit from the new reality sex show Sex Inspectors on Britain's Channel 4, although the notion that "energy ... is more important than good looks" probably let's me off the hook, so to speak.

(The series goes out at 11pm. And the footage is extraordinarily frank, even with clever cropping and pixellation. Couples draw their bodies on a blackboard and identify the bits they like stimulated. Then there's the jaw-dropping moment where one of the men admits he ejaculated so fast after a spot of spanking he temporarily blinded his partner. It sounds terrifying - and just occasionally it is - but actually the shows are redeemed by the good humour and bravery of the participants.)

Now, where was I? Oh yes, soya beans. As a vegetarian, for a variety of reasons which I won't go into here, I'm pleased that Indonesia has a worthy meat substitute in tempe (tempeh in American English). It can be eaten as a snack and used in an amazing variety of recipes.

Today's news that I could be partly responsible for the destruction of rain forests does not make good reading. Where only a few years ago thick native forests filled the landscape, now all that stands between Las Lajitas and the Andes shimmering on the horizon are green pastures sprouting soya. "Why is the white man destroying our lands?" asks one of the tribal chiefs. It is difficult to explain that it's to be used to feed animals in Europe and China.
Yes, folks, the soya bean industry, as lead by Monsanto, is wiping out indigenous tribes and causing massive unemployment and poverty due to smallholders losing their lands and migrating to cities.

I am not alone in believing that corporate greed leads to hunger and malnutrition. And that is the essential paradox. The attempts to monopolise the food chain can only lead to its shortening. Fewer consumers will eventually ~ hopefully? ~ lead to the realisation that small really is beautiful. Empowering communities to feed themselves efficiently, through appropriate food technology programmes, as in the Tempe Project, actually enhances local democracy, raises education levels through increased prosperity and enables villagers to remain a community. Is that so bad?

And here endeth today's sermon.

Now to research an environmentally aware way of boosting my sperm count. Any suggestions?


2:30 pm |
Saturday, November 06, 2004
  I couldn't have said it better

1. If we're all still reeling from the shock of 59,424,706 people voting with their reptilian brainstems after letting a bunch of manipulative creeps define 'moral value' for them then there must be some consolation in the fact that 55,905,023 kept their eyes open and voted for Kerry. That nearly 56 million people in this country still believe in the things that make life worth living and hold out against the easy fix of revenge, greed and irresponsibility on a global scale is worth celebrating.

2. Socialist soccerphiles should take heart. The Presidential election does not tell the whole story. Inside the snorting, steroid-swollen, padded and armoured behemoth of George Bush's America - there's a gayer, girlier and more socialist America struggling to get out. And, (like John Kerry), it plays soccer.

3. Today, Dallas couldn't be made; billionaire oil deals run the globe, with none-too-hilarious results. Southfork Ranch has become the White House. "T-shirts abound," guffaws Larry (Hagman), saying, "'JR for President... Whoops! He already is!'"

4. Tis a very bright morning in east Northumbria (Ashington) but I feel a little gloomy ... obvious reasons, Bu-shites win, etc! Now, it's just a passing thought: Did the CIA put Osama bin Liner up to that spiffing jape of broadcasting to the American people just before polling day? Or is that a conspiracy theory too far? Probably! ...
Anyhow, let us gird up our loins and fight the bastards in whatever way we can...

A UK correspondent

I'm not going to get too worked up about Bush being re-elected 'cos there's not much this blogger can do to change the world. There are some who say that the blogosphere exercises enormous power over political actions, more so than journalists who tend to lecture us. There may be some truth in this, but only if the world's leaders were to share their mundane musings with the rest of us. If Bush read Kim Jong-Il's blog, would he be so anxious to talk about the evil of North Korea?

Of course, the world will continue to be changed with the righteous right in charge of the White House.

The biggest worry here must be that fundamentalist Christians and Muslims still believe in an eye for an eye and converting non-believers to their brand of madness.

Simon's World
continues to provide links to the Asian perspective on this week's election, as does The Swanker.

And now it's time to go and buy some pirated DVDs to tide me over the coming Idul Fitri holiday. There's not much else to do.


10:00 am |
Thursday, November 04, 2004
  Grin and bear it
We will hope that in this second mandate we can improve our relations. We are dancing the tango. When you are dancing the tango and your toe is stepped on, hurting your toe, you complain. If it is stepped on harder, you complain again. There's a whole game, but we are prepared to continue dancing the tango.
Jesus Perez, Venezuelan Foreign Minister

This makes a lot of sense amid the choruses of "Together, (we) face many critical challenges in the years ahead. As in the past, our best hope for success lies in common action".

Personally, I feel really sad at the continued slaughter of innocents. Humanity is the loser

The last female Pyrenean brown bear




5:00 pm |
Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Same to you, George



4:41 pm |
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
  I'm too busy to post anything on this special day, so there's no point in reading this. There's also really no point in going to the Online Museum of Shopping Lists.

No, really.

All original work copyright of the authors.



1:46 pm |
Monday, November 01, 2004
  A Timely Warning
Bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Is that your kind of Monday? Well, lucky you, 'cos it's rarely mine! And who thought of that daft expression anyway? Art Garfunkle? And if you were looking for a link there, then I advise you to Google it by yourself. Actually, Michael Quinion might be able to help but you'd have to ask him.

What I hate about today is going for the max at an ATM and having the transaction 'declined' whilst still having that amount deducted from my account. It's resulted in 2 hours of phone calls and the necessity to go to my bank tomorrow for, no doubt, 2 more hours of form filling.

Ho hum.

I'm tempted to go to a dukun because I suspect malign forces are at work. Failing that, there may be something I can use in the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices. A Timely Warning is always useful on a Monday.

Made of aluminium - weighs but two drams and saves pounds of drugs and worry ...



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