According to New York's Jazz Police, the Bad Plus are very bad indeed. How can they be playing jazz working out on songs by Aphex Twin, Abba, Kurt Cobain, Blondie and the Pixies? For the rest of us, they are the most refreshing jazz group to have come out of the US in years. Their albums (latest: Suspicious Activity?) only tell half the story. Live, these guys draw you into to their musical roller coaster ride with humour and panache.
Oh, lucky Londoners.
I agree with saxophonist Gilad Atzmon who wrote a year ago that jazz is a form not of knowledge but of spirit. Jazz is a world view, an innovative form of resistance.
Except, he goes on to say, it is now a tool of global business ... our devoted Big Brother has almost won. Jazz's spiritual and political message is almost defeated.
I'm not so sure. The sheer range of styles suggests not conformity but freedom of expression.
Where The Bad Plus take modern classic songs and reinterpret them with both adventurousness and respect, Shirley Horn, who sadly died ten days ago, infused standards with integrity thus also impressing on listeners the songs' inner qualities.
Horn, a soft-voiced, lazily eloquent performer, had much of Billie Holiday's patient audacity about the pacing of songs - and she more generally exhibited the same disinclination to run if she could walk, taking until her 50s to become widely known outside her native Washington DC.
Many younger jazz listeners unknowingly hear Horn today, in the work of such influential low-lights singer-pianists as Diana Krall. Horn gave such artists the confidence to believe that more about a standard song could be expressed with less than had ever seemed possible before.
Yes, Jakartass is an unashamed jazz fan and I have been since I were a nipper listening to my Dad's collection of 78's. He also played the piano semi-professionally and still, at 86, entertains retirees in Eastbourne on a regular basis.
I sent him a copy of The Bad Plus album These Are The Days for his last birthday. I'm glad to say that he enjoys it, as does Son no.1 who took it back home for him.
Music that transcends generations can't be all bad, eh?
If you want to know more, the most authoritative and compendious site I know is All About Jazz.
Here we are about to celebrate the end of Ramadhan, a time for reflection within a communal setting, and the depressing news surfaces of six ninja characters beheading three Christian schoolgirls in the troubled province of Central Sulawesi.
National police spokesmanAryanto Budiharjo saidup to six men in black clothes and masks attacked the students in Bukit Bambu village as they were on their way to class at the Central Sulawesi Christian Church (GKST) high school in Poso.
"The perpetrators wore black attire and veils and they used machetes," he told reporters.
The police said that the information was obtained from a survivor in the incident, who managed to escape the attack but suffered wounds to her face.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono immediately held an emergency security meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla, top security officials and ministers to assess the situation in Poso.
"In the holy month of Ramadhan, we are again shocked by a sadistic crime in Poso that has now claimed the lives of three school students," he told reporters. "I condemn this barbarous killing, whoever the perpetrators are and whatever their motives."
He ordered the security forces to find the killers and maintain order in the region.
The security forces?
Jason Brown analysed the many differing interpretations of the wave of as yet unsolved killings by so-called 'ninjas' of dukuns (village soothsayers) in East Java in 1998.
Who was masterminding the dukun santet slayings? Were elite politicians working behind the scenes, as some high-profile political leaders claimed, including Abdurrahman Wahid, then head of Indonesia's largest Islamic organisation Nahdlatul Ulama? Was it a military exercise designed to create chaos throughout East Java in the wake of Suharto's resignation? Were forces at play to disrupt a major congress of Megawati Sukarnoputri's Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) planned for Bali, just half an hour by ferry from Banyuwangi? Were the dukun santet simply scapegoats in a carefully manipulated campaign designed to disrupt and discredit the emerging post-New Order political forces in the staunchly Islamic province of East Java?
His eyes glazed, his torso striped with livid weals and his wrists swollen, Jaafar did not look like a dreaded "ninja" killer as he answered his vigilante captors' questions.
Jaafar said he did not know what he was doing. "I am just a fisherman from Pulau Seribu (Thousand Islands) near Jakarta," he said. "I was brought here by plane by the men who recruited me. Look at my arm - they gave me seven injections before I was sent out."
Rambling, semi-coherent and still in shock, Jaafar appeared too simple to understand why the vigilantes kept demanding to know who had offered him money and trained him. "I don't know who they were," he repeated. "They had crew-cut hair, that's all."
Peter Dale Scott would agree that the military could well be behind the latest grotesque killings. After all, he believes they were responsible for the slaying of over 100 moderate Muslim clerics in 1998.
Persecution.org will probably put the blame of extremist Muslim groups. No doubt they are right, but the question remains of their true motivation and who are their paymasters.
(Incidentally, I think Persecution.org may have its mission ~ Serving the Victims of Christian Persecution ~ wrongly worded. Shouldn't it be 'Serving the Christian Victims of Persecution'?)
Christians, Muslims, believers in the spirit world or tourists. It makes no difference. This is yet another heinous crime very much on a par with the recent bombings in Bali.
That there could be a political perspective, an attempt to derail the democratically elected government of SBY cannot be overstated.
Following the comment from Java Richo that "No doubt Her Majesty will reward (Jakartass) in Her New Years honours list", I suppose I ought to give you a full (blue) blooded brown-nosed post.
First up is the exciting news that Bonny Prince Charlie is about to tour the good ol' USA with the rather gloomy hope that people will appreciate him better when he is dead.
It is, by common consent, a worthy but dull itinerary. Clarence House (the official residence he shares with his true love, Camilla) describes the visit as "soft diplomacy" - which may be needed at the White House, meeting a president whose views on a whole range of issues, including Iraq, global warming and climate change, tally not at all with those of the prince.
You see, Charles is really interested in the plight of we little people
Referring to Poundbury, the Dorset village (Prince Charles) has built in traditional style, and a programme for helping older downsized workers back into employment, he says: "What I've tried to do is to put my money where my mouth is as much as I can ... by actually creating models on the ground."
No doubt to house the 'downsized workers'.
Elsewhere, yesterday Charlie's second son, William, made a right royal "prat" ~ his word, not mine ~ of himself when he visited Charlton's training ground. Obstensibly, as president-designate of the Football Association, he went to Sparrows Lane in New Eltham to see at first hand how the award-winning community scheme is preparing the potential football stars of the future.
Prince William started off by taking part in the community scheme's coaching sessions, involving more than 100 local kids, and was asked to go in goal for a penalty shoot-out.
"You can really see that the kids love it; they've been having a really good time and been laughing at me looking like a prat,"joked the prince, who initially wore a rugby top in the Eton house colours of royal blue and fawn, but later donned a home Charlton shirt with 'Wales W' and the number two on the reverse.William looked out of breath after his brief workout with the Premiership stars and admitted: "After that I can tell you I'm not as fit as I thought I was."
"Charlton have a really good bunch of guys," he continued."The community work here is just awesome. Everyone working here is just fascinating - they do such a great job."
I've tried to explain today to loads of people why I've been wandering around with an inane grin ~ some might say smirk ~ on my face.
What is it about being a football club supporter that makes me, in the words of one colleague, a fanatic?
I've said it before and no doubt I'll say it again, I went to Charlton Manor Primary School. Later, as a teenager, I would walk to the Valley to watch Charlton play, usually in the lower divisions. Win, lose or draw, it didn't really matter because in the words of that immortal yet crappy song, "We Are Family".
Hard work, faith and a bunch of really good guys have kept the club alive into this our centenary year.
It's also Chelsea's centenary year, but they have only survived thanks to the injection of millions of pounds by a Russian oligarch seeking a new toy. Granted, they do have an amazingly talented squad, the best money can buy, who play some of the best football of this or any year. And that is the main reason that they have remained undefeated at home since February - last year.
Football fans worldwide can reel off the names of their star players who are featured on ESPN umpteen times a week.
But today 'little old Charlton' are receiving the plaudits because, yes, our squad of players who cost less than just one of Chelsea's, think Michael Essien, have inflicted that rarity, a defeat.
We are approaching Idul Fitri, the end of the fasting month of Ramadhan, a time of reflection and goodwill to all men and, come to think of it, women.
Those of us with employees and servants pay a thirteenth month's salary and generally allow those who serve us to follow the new tradition of mudik. This means that migrants to Jakarta return to their hometowns in order to spend time with their families, to shower relatives with gifts to demonstrate how great life is in the Big Durian, to apologise for any wrongs committed since the previous Idul Fitri and to apologise for any wrongs which may eventuate before the next time.
Reports suggest that there may be fewer returning home this year due to the recent 121% rise in fuel costs, but we can still expect to be able to have a midday nap in the middle of Jalan Thamrin which runs through the business district.
I'm all for a quiet life and, in spite of temperatures in the high 30's here, I'm always reminded of Xmas 'back home'. You, know, loads of festive jollity and over-eating. .
Of course, for those who can't afford to return home, life will be a little depressing, especially for those desperate for the Rp.100,000 monthly handout granted by the SBY government to offset the increase in daily expenditure yet grudgingly given by petty, nay, greedy, bureaucrats.
In Jakartass Towers, our community servants are given bonuses; cash handouts are given to the postman, the electricity meter reader and the paper boy, all of whom have served us faithfully for a number of years. The street organises an official whip round for the night security guards and the guy who collects our rubbish and takes it to the local dump.
'Er Indoors prepares loads of food in the expectation of visits from members of her tribe who, like us, stay in town. I think they all come for her beef rendangwhich I, as a confirmed vegetarian, guiltily partake of.
Yep, sharing does leave a nice warm glow. I'm sure I'm not alone in enjoying the seasonal altruism.
For example, I know, courtesy of Roy Tupai, that the Suharto clan have already started to dispense largesse. This week two of Suharto?s grandchildren, Gendis Siti Hatmanti (23) and Bambang Panji Adhikumoro (15), distributed 2,000 packages of sembako (basic commodities), worth an estimated Rp.200 million ($19,900), to the needy in Central Jakarta.
They denied the charity was politically motivated. "We are not competing with anyone. Our family always distributes sembako (basic foods such as rice, sugar, flour, cooking oil) every year. But this is the first time that we [grandchildren] ourselves have distributed it,? Gendis said onTuesday.
Politically motivated? Of course not, though the return of the estimated $15 to $35 billion in state funds that were embezzled during Suharto's 32 years of repressive rule would surely be construed as such.
Others who can be expected to help the needy as much as they've helped themselves are Jakarta's hard-working city councilorswho will celebrate the pensive holy month of Ramadhan and the painful Oct. 1 fuel price hike with a very special holiday gift. Governor Sutiyoso has just doubled their monthly salary to a whopping Rp 50 million (US$5,000). In case that isn't enough to fill their luxury cars with premium fuel, they will also receive a Rp 1.5 million (about US$150) bonus for every "public meeting" attended and "city visit" conducted.
One councilor, quoted anonymously in the local press, said he and his colleagues could each conduct up to 50 such activities per month - meaning Rp 75 million per month in incentives alone. Add this to their Rp 15 million monthly housing allowance, plus other bonuses for positions held on council committees, and it emerges that on average Jakarta's "public servants" each take home around Rp 150 million (about $15,000) per month.
(You'll need to register to read this fine article, one I wish I'd written myself. Praise to Daniel Ziv, author of Jakarta Inside Out and founding editor of Djakarta! - The City Life Magazine.)
Although I am often accused of having my head in the clouds, for some reason I always assume my accusers are referring to the fact that most Indonesians are substantially shorter than me.
So be it and I will continue to bring glad tidings. If I can find them.
First off must be John Aglionby's latest epistle on developments in Aceh.
To everyone's surprise both sides are adhering to the peace agreement in the Indonesian province of Aceh.
Events in the province, on the northern tip of Sumatra, are progressing much more hopefully than anyone expected when the two sides signed an agreement in Helsinki on August 15 to end the 29-year insurgency that has cost some 12,000 lives.
"I'm astonished that it's going so well," Irawadi Yusuf, the senior Gam interlocutor with the government, told Guardian Unlimited. "I expected there to be many more skirmishes and violations of the deal (archived here)."
Major General Bambang Darmono, his Indonesian government counterpart, is equally effusive. "There's a really constructive attitude for peace in the field," he said. "I think we've reached the point of no return as long as the politicians in the towns don't interrupt the process."
Of course, there are still some problems, but I won't sully this post with them. Read the full article instead.
I say, where there is a willingness, there is a way.
Living a faintly schizophrenic life as a fulltime expat, there are inevitable compromises to be made. It's not for me to impose my cultural sensibilities on the world around me, nor, I believe, to have other dogmas forced on me.
Hence, I was very interested to hear about the adjustments being made by Asian footballers now playing in England.
There are so many hidden cultural codes and potential pitfalls that, unless you have a guide, settling into a new culture can prove a lonely experience.
Asian males did not used to be regarded as sex symbols. If you wanted to shag someone you wouldn't think of an oriental. But that has changed. The emergence of footballers such as Park at Man U is part of that, it shows Asia is now being included in the rest of the world. The world is accepting us and we're accepting them. Oriental is cool. The twenty-first century is ours....'
Bolton's Japanese summer signing, Hidetoshi Nakata, is a very different personality.
Famous in Japan for being an individual, he insists he feels more at home in Europe. He posts a very candid diary on his website, openly thwarting the Japanese cultural tradition of privacy and discretion. He insists he does not watch football, and has never even seen footage of Pele - and reads manga comics alongside western novels by J T LeRoy, Dan Brown and JK Rowling. He adopts an intrinsically western philosophy: "Before being a manager or a player we are human beings. We have to talk to each other, otherwise we have no understanding."
Indonesia still has some way to go in overcoming its tendency to look inward and to impose its 'values' (or, indeed, to produce world class football players). In his post today, Indcoup points out that the press is trammelled, highlighting the case of the disappeared journalist, Elyuddin Telaumbanua, on the island of Nias. Police have stalled the investigation which leads one to believe that his probable murder in August is related to an investigation into yet another case of corruption.
Java Richo agrees with my comment yesterday that there really isn't space or time to list all the corruption cases that have been highlighted in the past year. The Indonesian Corruption Watch does a pretty good job on its website but there are inevitable gaps.
You have two cows. You were charged for three and received two. The UN funds a grant programme to advise on herd management. There is a farmer's loan in your name to buy a bull. You still have two cows.
And finally, there remains the question of why Indonesian, and now international, beauty Tiara Lestari has been ignored by the local media.
Peace accords in Indonesia have opened up the former rebel province of Aceh to journalists. Despite occasional violence, the media works in good conditions and online media are prolific.
Indonesia is now 102nd out of 167 countries listed and ranked only behind Cambodia in South-East Asia; last year it was 117th and ranked 4th.
Indonesia is also not quite as corrupt this year according to the Transparency International 2005 Report. It's now 137th out of 158 countries. This downloadable extract comments that an anti-corruption movement has taken root with the growth of democracy and as business and religious organisations joined the campaign for more transparency and accountability.
Hopefully there'll be more bite to go with the barking, starting with former police chiefGen. Da'i Bachtiarand ex-chief detective Comr. Gen. Erwin Mappaseng over a bribery case linked to the investigation into a Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) lending scam.
And continuing with ......
Sorry, lack of space and time prevents me from listing all the ongoing cases.
I only mention this because an American couple, fed up with the usual touristy sites of London ~ you know, where Queen Liz stays when she's in town and that old castle where her jewels are kept ~ decided to mingle with the masses down the Valley.
There was a cool crispness in the morning air, the kind of autumn day made for football. As we ambled down the street toward the stadium, my wife and I couldn't help but feel swept up in big-game excitement.
All around us, fans were bundled up in the home team's colors. Vendors hawked T-shirts and caps at souvenir stands. Sausages and hamburgers sizzled on outdoor grills.
It felt like a college football Saturday in the Midwest - Notre Dame perhaps, or Ohio State. With one difference.
The football was round.
At halftime, I noticed several groups of male supporters sipping beers near the concession stands. I had gone to fetch my wife a cup of hot tea during the break (the plastic cup of hot water actually came with a tea bag inside), and after I handed it to her, she took a sip, looked at me and said, ``How civilized.''
It felt that way all afternoon. Charlton's fans were boisterous but respectful, and there wasn't a hint of a disturbance, either from the home team or visitors. We didn't hear the kind of cursing common at some U.S. sporting events, and there were plenty of parents with children around us who had no reason to feel uncomfortable or threatened.
That's Jakartass to a T, civilised and generally unthreatening.
One week ago, I criticised slightly two expats bloggers: Jakartass andIndcoup (both are British stay in Jakarta) whose blogs focus on Indonesia current issues. Both have commented on the criticism and Jakartass added a specific rebuttal in his own blog.
I criticise some of their opinions not their personalities and that's whyI commentedonJakartass rebuttalin his blog with a sense of admiration for his dedication to blog for so long about Indonesia; that before I start blogging myself, his blog become my regular transit whenever I surfed the net; that's also my hope to Indcoup (damn, I want like crazy to know the real you two, guys).
As I've already noted, there seems to be an encouraging surge in Indonesian blogging. How about a Bloggers Convention next time you're in town, Fatih?
"I look forward to bearing witness to the evolution of a democratic society which can afford to stop looking inwards." Jakartass 19th October 2005
Indonesians above the poverty line are beginning to examine their role in society and it all started with the downfall of Suharto. Perhaps the first evidence, apart from the hitherto-banned demonstrations, was President Habibie's decision to free the press from government restrictions.
In the 12 months following Suharto?s resignation, the government granted 718 new media licences, a leap from the 289 issued in the 53 years since the country?s independence. And ... in November 1999, the government abolished the all-powerful Department of Information (known as Deppen).
For decades, this fixture of government exerted tight control over the media and forbade coverage of any subject that stoked sentiments of ethnicity, religion, race or belief?a justifiable policy in a nation made up of numerous ethnic and religious groups. But that rule was gradually stretched to cover anything that annoyed the government.
Rules regarding ownership have been loosened so that foreign companies can now own a limited stake in Indonesian media companies. We recently heard that Rupert Murdoch's Hong Kong based Star TV is buying a 20% stake in ANTV, headed by Anin Bakrie, son of the the chief Economy Minister. More opium for the masses, and hardly a step forward in press freedom, yet an indication that the government is not afraid of the media.
However, it is inclined to ensure that no more than 20% is foreign-owned
Minister of Communications and Information Sofyan Djalil told The Jakarta Post recently that, "We will check the ownership of local TV stations to ensure that foreign ownership does not exceed 20 percent at the stations ... this is to guarantee our media is not influenced by foreigners."
However, the ownership and performance of the mass media is not a true indicator of a society's freedom of expression. What is more vital is the ability of its citizens to express themselves.
Over the past few years a steady stream of young writers have been charting the changes in Indonesian society. It all got going in 1998, the same year as the downfall of former President Suharto. In that turbulent social and political climate, Ayu Utami's challenge to tradition in the best-seller Saman proved that young women had something to say, and that there were plenty of people who wanted to listen.
In the West it's known as chick-lit; here, it's 'sastra wangi', or 'fragrant literature'. Don't be fooled by the flowery description though. Chick-lit Indonesian style is urban, contemporary, and quite capable of raising a few eyebrows.
Certain elements of Indonesia's fairly conservative society may not approve, but Nurzain Hae, a literary critic, said it was the willingness of the "sastra wangi" writers to tackle such themes (as sex and homosexuality) that has won them their fans.
It may help sell the books, but it does little to reveal their literary merits. The books may not be classics, according to literary critic Nurzain Hae, but they serve an important role.
"The way they write actually needs more editing," he said, "because they're still learning their writing techniques. But the good thing about 'sastra wangi' is that it makes people want to read again. Interest in reading is racing right now."
That can only be good and the urge to write and be read is burgeoning as can be witnessed by the growth in Indonesia's blogosphere. Reformasi coincided with the early days of the internet and a freedom of expression not predetermined by geopolitical borders.
There are now an estimated 10,000 bloggers here in Indonesia. No-one knows the true number; we have to rely on blogging tools such as Technorati and Bloglines for our estimates. One blogger who has is Priyadi, who recently published his list of the top 100 blogs written in Indonesian or about Indonesia.
There are inevitably a few chronicling personal minutae as well as a couple which seemingly have no connection with Indonesia whatsoever. However, there are many good reads listed here, including a few online friends such as Enda Nasution at no. 2, The Swanker at no.60, Isman at no. 83 and Indcoup at no. 86.
And where is Jakartass, I hear you cry? Actually, this blog isn't listed, even though my researches on Technorati show a ranking of 60,007 with 110 links from 32 sites. This equals the 88th position on Priyadi's list.
It's a year since SBY became the first directly elected President of Indonesia. The editor-in-chief of the Jakarta Post, Endy M. Bayuni, gives a fair appraisal of SBY's performance so far, rating it 7 out of 10.
For those of you who are unable to read the full article, a word of advice ~ register so you can access the archives I link to.
And now for a balanced extract of Endy's thoughts.
Here is a president, who, in spite of his landslide 62 percent victory at the polls, knows the limits of his office in the new political landscape where power is shared out.
Indonesia's first directly elected president found his powers clipped by the newly amended 1945 Constitution. Now, he has to share power with the House of Representatives, and with a new player in town, the Regional Representatives Council modeled on the U.S. Senate.
Elected members of these two institutions owe their allegiances to the electorate or their political parties, and not so much to the President.
Unlike Soeharto, whose word would immediately become law, SBY knew that he faced a tough fight from many powerful detractors, particularly the opposition factions in the House, which are determined in giving him a run for his money.
Every major decision he made had to go through the scrutiny of the House and stand up to other political forces in the country who owe their allegiances to the electorate or their political parties, and not so much to the President.
To complicate matters even further, beginning this year Susilo is losing his clout over the regions. With direct elections for governors and regional chiefs, the elected leaders owe their allegiances to the people first, the political parties that sponsored their election second, and the President a distant third, if at all.
Critics have called the President indecisive, and been frustrated at his caution in capitalizing on the 62 percent support he won at the polls in September 2004. Anyone else in his place would have done the same, doing the political maths before making the important decisions.
Enter Jusuf Kalla who got elected as vice president on the same ticket. Kalla is no ordinary vice president as he came in with a lot of his own political capital, including initially a breakaway faction of Golkar, but later on, in December, the full force of the party with the most seats in the House. SBY thus has had to share power, for better or for worse, with a politically powerful vice president.
Yet that now gives SBY levers to overcome the occasional intansigence of the DPR, the House of Representatives which, it should be noted, gave its approval for the recent decision to drastically lower the oil subsidy, thus freeing up funds for government expenditure on social welfare, education and other measures to benefit the electorate.
His first year was marked with many events that were beyond his control.
There was the big earthquake and the devastating tsunami in Aceh in December as well as other smaller natural disasters. There were the outbreaks of polio, thousands of malnourished children, and lately bird flu. In the meantime, world oil prices went through the roof during the year and forced him to hike domestic fuel prices twice. And at the start of this month, terrorists struck again in Bali.
Overall, SBY did relatively well in dealing with these largely unforeseen problems.
These took a lot out of the President and his team, at times at the expense of his own agenda, including the fight against corruption, the promotion of governance, and the push for higher economic growth to create more jobs, raise people's income and eradicate poverty.
He made little inroads into his agenda of fighting corruption and promoting investment, but they did not suffer terribly either.
Perhaps the only bright spot in his presidency was the peace agreement that the government signed with the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in August which officially ended a 30-year bloody war.
There are still many areas of concern that have not been fully addressed.
The President's human rights record, for example, is tarnished by his failure to solve the mystery surrounding the murder of human rights campaigner Munir. His approval for the Indonesian Military (TNI) to reactivate its territorial role as part of his war on terror also goes against the spirit eliminating the military's presence in politics.
I still feel that he was kite flying in order to gauge public reaction. Regarding the murder of Munir, we can expect little clarity whilst the masterminds remain immune. And there, I suspect, lies SBY's achilles heel: Suharto's cronies are entrenched and it will take a generation of gradual glasnost to eradicate them.
Here is a president who shows that he is maturing on the job. One shudders to think how Megawati, or the other three president wannabes for that matter, would have dealt with these seemingly endless crises if they were in charge.
Jakartass agrees with Endy's assessment and I look forward to bearing witness to the evolution of a democratic society which can afford to stop looking inwards, as befits one of the most populous and heterogeneous nations of our world.
I need my beauty sleep, as friends and colleagues readily agree, so I decided to not get up for last night's match.
So when I woke up without the benefit of my alarm clock just after 2 a.m., I naturally switched on ESPN to see 2 cracking goals yet ultimately a disappointing, for we Addicks anyway, draw.
Unfortunately, I couldn't get back to sleep. So now I'm bushed, more so after a two-hour ride home in a sweat box of a bus, albeit seated.
If you're not, here are a couple of sites featuring Dubya as you probably want to see him.
The first demonstrates his well known lack of co-ordination, being bushwhacked, if you'll excuse the expression ~ a bit like Charlton last night ~ and the other, discovered through Strange New Products, a site worth bookmarking, is a 3 inch tall figurine made of red polymer clay in the likeness of our Commander-in-Chief. (He may be yours; he certainly ain't mine!) When you dunk him in water, he absorbs and stores the liquid in his belly. Once full, just pour a little hot water over him, watch him take a potty break. Guaranteed to amaze you!Now all you need is a little Osama Bin Laden figurine for Georgie to pee on!
And I can't remember where I got this amazing likeness.
1793 - Queen Marie Antoinette is beheaded during the French Revolution.
1846 - American dentist William Morton demonstrates the effectiveness of ether as an anesthetic by administering it to a patient undergoing jaw surgery.
1916 - Margaret Sanger opens the first birth-control clinic, in New York City.
1946 - Ten Nazi war criminals condemned during the Nuremberg trials are hung.
1952 - An estimated 10,000 Communist-led Viet Minh troops launch an offensive in northwestern Indochina, overrunning French Union forces in the Nghialo basin.
1962 - The Cuban missile crisis begins when U.S. President John F. Kennedy is informed by his aides that reconnaissance photographs reveal the presence of missile bases in Cuba.
1964 - China detonates its first atomic bomb.
1973 - Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho are named winners of the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating a cease-fire in the Vietnam war; the Vietnamese official declines the award saying the Vietnamese don't have peace, so he can't accept a peace award. The war continues for a few more years.
1978 - The College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church choose Cardinal Karol Wojtyla to be the new Pope; he takes the name John Paul II. He is the first non-Italian pope in 456 years.
1987 - Rescuers free Jessica McClure, an 18-month-old girl trapped in an abandoned well for 58 hours in Midland, Texas.
1990 - U.S. President George Bush signs the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act, prohibiting employers from discriminating against older workers in providing pensions and disability payments.
1995 - A vast throng of black men gather in Washington for the "Million Man March" led by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
1996 - Our Kid born in Jakarta
1997 - Swiss investigators freeze the bank accounts of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her family after allegations surrounding the illegal obtaining of $13.8 million while she was in office.
1998 - British police arrest former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London for questioning about allegations that he had murdered Spanish citizens during his years in power.
1999 - A New York Air National Guard plane rescues Dr. Jerri Nielsen from a South Pole research center after she spent five months isolated by the Antarctic winter, forcing her to treat herself for breast cancer.
2004 - A U.S.-Russian crew has to turn off autopilot and manually moor their Soyuz spacecraft to the international space station after an unidentified glitch results in a dangerously high approach speed - a tough test for two Russians and an American, none of whom have flown the ship before.
He says, "Enthusiasts push the slogan 'publish - and be read', which makes a blog the ideal soap box for those who can't get their letters to the editor printed, their poems accepted or their partners to hear their complaints. You can even get feedback. But because there are now so many blogs the problem is getting noticed.
I've found only a couple of blogs on the Indonesian economy, but plenty on Indonesian girls, Blok M bars (and girls), shopping, hotels and expats rabbiting on about archipelago life. Balancing this are blogs by Indonesians living abroad reporting on the foibles of foreigners."
The tone of his article is, to put it bluntly, snide. He appears to want the best of two worlds in that not only does he have his articles published in the Post, but he then feels them worthy of republishing in his own blog, Indonesia Now.
Indcoup and Jakartass have both had articles and letters published in the Post and other printed media in Indonesia, but not under our blogging pseudonyms.
There are very few expat bloggers here with a wider readership than their immediate family and friends. Brandon of Java Jive is one, but he writes less because, in his case, a picture is worth a thousand words.
To rabbit on (Brit.Colloq.): to talk continuously about unimportant matters.
Corruption, human rights issues, Islamic fundamentalism, environmental issues, citizenship laws, Charlton Athletic? Unimportant?
Come off it, Duncan.
A more serious 'criticism' of expat bloggers is made by the estimable A. Fatih Syuhud, who is compiling a very useful databank of bloggers focussing on Indonesian issues, with a particular emphasis on those who use English.
His most recent Blog of the Week was Nad's Notes, about which Fatih comments that he suspects he might be a journalist or a columnist from the way he express his opinions so smoothly and in English; and also in quoting some few different sources.
He looks so active in following the current events in indonesia: from political, economical, cultural and religious perspective. By "active", it means following the indonesian events from two different sources: the analytical point of view written by journalist or experts on one hand and by "listening" to the voices of the grass-root, the people on the street, on the other.
Many non-Indonesian analyst bloggers who are actively following the Indonesian events almost on daily basis like Jakartass and Indcoup - both are British stay in Indonesia - often forget the latter. by relying your comments on what media and columnists said, you miss the real point any true analyst and journalist will never do: the interaction with the grass-root people on the street by mingling directly with them talking and listening to what they say and experience.
For Fatih's information, Indcoup has lived in Indonesia for more than 10 years and Jakartass will have been here for 18 come Xmas. We both have Indonesian families, neither of us live in an expat enclave so we interact with the local community. We also work in a predominantly Indonesian environments.
That we bring our British perspectives to bear on our viewpoints is inevitable. Similarly, Fatih, studying in Agra, India, will give you a certain objective distance, a duality similar to ours.
It is encouraging that Indonesian authorities have not followed, for example, China and now Burma in filtering or blocking the internet. This is important in that we may attract the attention of those in power who may wish to protect their self-appointed élitism. That we often use the mainstream published media for our sources surely gives our commentaries a veracity.
Our blogs, therefore, come from the environment in which we live and work. We are not novelists and neither do we seek an income from our musings. Rather, we are concerned long-term residents with a stake in Indonesia's recovery yet with no citizen rights whatsoever.
We are merely doing our bit to make the world, yours and ours, a better place to live in. Our blogs are a vital component of the reformasi era. Like your blog, Fatih, and those you list.
Officially, on paper, I'm a Muslim because 'Er Indoors is; outdated laws don't allow folk of different beliefs to plight their troths, so it was easier for me to transfer my allegiance from ....
Actually, I refuse to be pigeon-holed. As a Brit I was raised with Christian ethics, hope and charity perhaps having a greater significance than faith. I did get confirmed in the Church of England but I had an ulterior motive ~ Jemma Smith also went to the Friday night youth club in the parish hall.
I've dallied with different nuances of Christianity. I quite admire the Quakers for their early anti-slavery stance and the chocolate families, think, or google, Cadbury and Rowntree, who created model villages for their workers and their continued concern for social welfare.
In Ibiza, 30 odd years ago, I was invited to join the Hare Krishna crowd. I was tempted as they offered an abundant supply of their holy sacrament, ganja.
I've subsequently spent time with Tibetan Buddhists and Mentawai animists and, for the past nearly 18 years, in earshot of mosques.
All-in-all, I belong to a broad church, one that encompasses all religions which have the core hippy mantra of Love and Peace, preferably without dogma.
Initially, this step (to found Y-JIMS) was taken to strengthen the bounds friendship of silahturahiim amongst Moslem expatriates to deepen Islamic teachings with Islamic small-scale discussion whose topics were those about Islam and its way of life in line with Al Quran and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). As the time goes long, then we made an effort to help Moslem communities living under the line of disputation and marginalized through educational development, entrepreneurship, social and da'wah activity at remote villages southern Banten, Indonesia.
This is the email.
Assalamu Alaikum Wr. Wb.
Ramadan is a month full of blessing, forgiveness and multiplied rewards from Allah. In addition to hail this chaste month, Jakarta International Muslim Society (Y-JIMS) has the program ?DISTRIBUTING AND CONTRIBUTING ALMS GIVING? containing Wakaf, Aqiqah, Qurban, Zakat, Shodaqah and Humanitarian Funds (WAQZISK) to carry on the sustainable activities for the next generation. Some programs which are undergoing are mentioned bellow:
1.Providing scholarship for 1,000 needed children in the remote villages. 2.Distributing student health nutrients which are undertaken by ?Free Medical Check-Ups? in the remote villages. 3.Distributing school facilities (10,000 bags and other stationeries) every semester for student guided by Y-JIMS in the remote village. 4.Guiding foreign and domestic Muslim converts. 5. Holding volunteer remote consecration program.
Therefore, Y-JIMS invites all donators to distribute and share alms for increasing our worship towards Allah SWT. Also we invite parents to see our activities in the remote village directly. We should remind you that an activity which is undertaken for educational guidence, independent improvement in the remote village and utilization of ummah potention in case of da?wah, social and autonomy economic. Those carers are the concrete proof towards next generation of Indonesia.
If Allah bestows you plenty of risk and you have more wealth than you need, then you need to share. This will definitely bring more benefits for the next generation from the age of 15 until 20. And you get Allah's reward, Amen.
Here is our invitation for some programs that we can offer you. With your intrests you can join us in this ultimate chance for the worship actualisation in the month of Ramadan.
Thank for your attention and participant.
A caring community such as JIMS should help nullify the negative nihilism of the Laskar Jihad mob or whoever is ultimately responsible for the suicidal mania here.
One question, Luqman.
I knew you as an English teacher. Are you too busy to proofread your missives?
When I got home today, 'Er Indoors greeted me with the news that Bagir has been suspended.
Who, you cry? And why has Jakartass started today's post with such an uninteresting sentence?
Actually, if this is true (and I have yet to see this confirmed by local media) this could well be an event of cataclysmic importance in the burgeoning democracy of Indonesia.
In brief, Bagir Manan, 64, is the country's Chief Justice. In April 2003, ex-dictator Suharto's half brother, Probosutedjo, now 75, was sentenced to four years imprisonment for embezzlement of reforestation funds, which cost the state some Rp.100 billion in losses. Naturally, given the status of the convicted man, the case has gone to appeal.
Where this all gets interesting is that Harini R. Wiyoso, one of his lawyers, has admitted that she gave US$500,000 to Supreme Court staff to pass on to Bagir, and another $100,000 for other officials and judges. Naturally, he has denied knowledge of this.
"This is 100 percent slander against me as chief justice because I don't know, and have nothing to do with, this bribery case," he said.
Bagir said for the time being he would not step down from his position as suggested by a number of parties, including the Judicial Commission.
"I have no reason to step down. I am innocent. I have nothing to do with bribery," he said.
Maybe he doesn't, even though any favourite son of Golkar, Suharto's political power grouping is automatically suspect in the eyes of those seeking to root out KKN ~ Korruption, Kronyisme and Nepotisme. Bagir was nominated for his position in 2001 by Golkar, then under the control of since discredited Akbar Tanjung.
Bagir's declared wealth is not unseemly for someone of his age.
According to an audit report by Supreme Audit Agency in April 2003, Bagir has personal wealth of Rp.678 million (US$68,000) that consisted of 1,490 square meter of lands in Bandung and Sumedang (both in West Java province), a house worth Rp.246 million, four cars and prescious stones Rp.361 million, and bank deposit of Rp.71 million.
With a take home pay of Rp.20 million (US$2,000) per month, it should be relatively easy to conduct a new audit.
Yesterday, SBY saidno person involved in corruption or any sort of crime, including court crime, was untouchable by the law.
One aspect overlooked by the media is that this could well be a sting operation by the Suharto clan because there have been an increasing number of bureaucrats and businessmen caught up in investigations by the Corruption Eradication Commission, with Probosutedjo one of the most prominent.
However, it is clear that Bagir should step aside for a while, especially if he is to win back public trust.
And if he really is innocent, then the cancerous boil of corruption may well be lanced.
(For much background information, I am indebted to Yosef Ardi, formerly managing editor of Bisnis Indonesia, who is currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley. He maintains a blog, Indonesia Today.)
It seems that Jakartass has stirred up Indonesia's intelligence community with the highlighting of the presumptiveness of the TNI in assuming that SBY wanted the Indonesian miltary to reassume its territorial function.
Top officials gathered yesterday to discuss the issue, but were not yet able to formulate an appropriate task for the military whose role has been reduced to defense affairs since 1999.
Minister of Defense Juwono Sudarsono, who also attended the meeting, said the TNI would assist the police by making use of its "eyes and ears".
Dismissing fears of the reinstatement of New Order style repressive measures, Juwono underlined there would be an intelligence operation to hunt down terrorists.
"Our national defense system requires cooperation between the TNI and the police to fight terrorism nationwide. Indeed, our soldiers have been trained to take preemptive measures, but I must emphasize that in the war on terror the TNI will only supply intelligence information to the police and the police will still take the lead," Juwono said.
In Jakarta a number of building managers have complainedof being forced to make a deal on the payment before the police agreed to send in the bomb squad to sweep the buildings after receiving bomb threats.
Companies now seemingly prefer to conduct their own security sweeps.
The issue surfaced last week after the police made public their displeasure with the management of French hypermarket Carrefour which failed to inform them about a bomb threat and, instead, deployed its internal security guards to sweep the store.
The Criminal Law Procedures Code (KUHAP) stipulates that only the police have the right and expertise to investigate terror threats.
The police said that if there had been an explosion, the hypermarket could have faced criminal charges for negligence resulting in injuries.
Criminologist Adrianus Meliala from the University of Indonesia suggested that the police communicate with building managers and convince them politely that they were not going to disrupt the operations of the building.
"Furthermore, the public should stop giving money to the police so it won't become a habit," he added.
Ah, so the public is partly to blame?
City police spokesman Sr. Comr. I Ketut Untung Yoga Ana said that it was clear that police's internal regulations prohibit officers from asking money for their services. "It's bribery and abuse of power at the same time. We never tolerate that. If we ever catch an officer asking money from the public, we will punish him," he told the Jakarta Post.
So now we know that paying for police services is illegal. That's another little earner denied to the boys in khaki (who should be on a higher salary than the meagre Rp.1 million, c.$100 a month, they currently earn).
So who could have been responsible for the bomb hoaxes in the first place?
I have been lucky enough to have met so many people and developed relationships with them that further enhances my multi cultural attitudes. They are my true teachers (you know who you are:). I am Indonesian and proud of it. But there many Indonesian like me, who have been exposed to the world out there resulting in a combined thinking of eastern and western cultures. I am just one of them. If that is considered cosmopolitan, I'll take it.
Being the upright, when sober, gentleman that I am, I wouldn't normally bother you with tittle tattle like that, but blow me down with a feather, but, thanks to the erudite comments following my posting yesterday, I now have to award a mention to Java Richo, based in Singapore like the lovely Tiara, who also has a blog with an Indonesian focus. His is called ... Nude News.
Just who stands to benefit from the IDR500m (or US$50,000) surety (for an Indonesian wife) remains unclear. Only an eternal optimist or a United Nations funded consultant could ever believe that the money may find its way to the woman in the event of the failure of the marriage. If it did, now that would create Indonesian legal history.
Jakarta. In an unrelated story we have had more responses to the identity of our sunglasses model. Is she a glamorous member of the Jakarta legal fraternity? We have another (picture) teaser for our readers.
Both tackle issues of cross-cultural awareness, but with a different bent from my old friend The Reveller. You take your pic .... or theirs.
'Er Indoors is angry today as news has come through that the Supreme Court is advocating that Indonesian women wishing to marry foreigners are only worth $50,000.
Yes, that is the price that we full-blooded expats could be expected to pay into a government bank if a proposal requiring foreign men to deposit some Rp.500 million before marrying Indonesian female citizens is passed into law following discussions to amend the 1958 Citizenship Law.
Jakartass knows that marriage is an expensive business. Previously I've paid dowries to my wives' families. Now, with a certificate to say that I am law abiding I will be able to tell the many dependents looking for handouts to apply to the government instead.
Presumably, too, there will be tax relief.
Poverty stricken foreigners may like to consider an alternative.
I ask because I've now got something else to do with my 'spare time'.
The lass in Carrefour had a very seductive way about her. It wasn't her smile or her come-hither eyes. Oh no, Jakartass is beyond that sort of thing when shopping for the weekend's supply of Bintang.
What attracted me was her special offer; a FREE satellite dish from Indovision. Yep, Jakartass is a sucker for freebies. Above all, I'd missed the pleasure of watching neanderthals doing grievous bodily harm to each other as they smack each other down. There was also last night's England match to look forward to. Or not, as it happened.
Our Kid is happy with the 50 or so channels as he can now watch SpongeBob Squarepants in English. I'm not sure if I should give him unrestricted access to the remote however as, according to James Dobson, founder of the right-wing Christian group Focus on the Family, SpongeBob is seen as an icon for adult gay men in the US, apparently because he regularly holds hands with his sidekick Patrick.
Still, no problems with 'Er Indoors as I suspect she'll stick with her regular diet of cinetrons (soap operas) on local TV.
I've already linked to A. Fatih Syuhud who uses his allotment of hyperspace to create a mini-directory of Indonesian and expat bloggers who focus on Indonesia.
I'd love to see many more Indonesian bloggers blog in English, the most-widely-understood world language. So that the world knows and understands more about Indonesia by reading anything written by Blogger Indonesia.
One commentator Fatih has yet to discover is Thang D. Nguyen, a Jakarta-based columnist and a prolific and provocative writer, Thang pens frequently on Indonesian and Asian affairs for international and major Asian newspapers. He is also the Director of the United in Diversity Forum.
He is also a blogger in that he has posted some of his columns online - here.
The British scientist Francis Bacon once rued: "Knowledge is power." The ignorance of your rights, therefore, becomes somebody else's power that can be used against you.
Rights on, Thang.
I have the feeling that we are reaching a critical mass of critical commentary. The Indonesian blogosphere is being monitored by the mass media and my referrers include the Guardian and the BBC who kindly commented that the excellent Jakartass blog is well worth a read for coverage of events in Indonesia.
Aw shucks but why stop there?
There is still plenty to keep me going and more praise to accrue. I've also now got Indovision to rail against. Well, not yet, but I would like to know why they don't offer broadband Internet access.
It's a little known fact that once upon a time Jakartass was known for his great wrist action.
I have a long reach and great flexibility so when I came to Indonesia nigh on 18 years ago, I looked forward to continuing to play badminton. After all, Indonesia has produced some of the world's greatest champions in both singles and doubles.
However, apart from potholed streets or makeshift courts in kampungs, I found nowhere convenient. Unlike my friend Indcoup who likes to strut his stuff in private gyms, I've had to stick with solitaire whilst pondering why schools, for example, aren't made available to the wider community for evening use.
The centre allows youngsters to learn in an unusual and stimulating environment and forms part of a national initiative to harness interest in football for educational purposes.
Study support is learning activity outside normal lessons, which young people take part in voluntarily. Its purpose is to improve their motivation, build their self-esteem and help them to become more effective learners.
This is done through games and discussion, as well as offering help with basic skills in literacy, numeracy and IT. Emphasis is on the ability to transfer the skills learnt at the centre to school and home. Above all, the aim is to raise achievement.
"Good evening. I am the president of the Loyal Society for the Relief of Suffers from Pismronunciation, for the relief of people who can't say their worms correctly, or who use the wrong worms entirely, so that other people cannot underhand a bird they are spraying. It's just that you open your mouse, and the worms come turbling out in wuck a say that you dick not what you're thugging to be, and it's very distressing."
I get the feeling that he would have enjoyed the Ig Nobel Awards, held as a kind of pisstake of the Nobel Prizes.
This years Íg Nobel Prize for Literature has gone to the internet entrepreneurs of Nigeria, for using email to distribute a bold series of short stories, thus introducing millions of readers to a cast of rich characters, each of whom requires just a small amount of money so as to obtain access to the great wealth they will share with you.
According to a poll taken in late September before the oil price rise, he certainly remains popular with 63 percent of Indonesians satisfied with his performance in running the country.
But cunning? I'm referring to my posting yesterday when he 'allowed' the TNI chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto to suggest that it would be good to restore the military territorial function.
The backlash has been quite acerbic. Yesterday former president Abdurrahman 'Gus Dur' Wahid said, "Reviving the territorial command is the wrong medicine for the disease we are dealing with. The move is only a tool to revive militarism. We should oppose that kind of intention as early as possible."
He added, "Who can guarantee that reviving it will make the country any safer? I don't think so. What is certain is that it will bring the country back to an authoritarian state."
Other politicians agreed.
What SBY may have done is to allow Sutarto to show that he remains a committed Suhartoist. With the country coming to grips with its newly gained democratic freedoms, SBY has cleared the way for his choice of TNI chief, a change that is now (over)due. The key question is, of course, who.
At least SBY now has a freer hand in his selection, freer in that the country clearly wants someone who fits the profile suggested by Effendy Choirie, the Deputy chairman of House Commission I on Defense and Foreign Affairs.
"We don't want a TNI chief who interferes in political or business issues. We want someone who cares about the welfare and professionalism of soldiers as defenders of the country,"