Tuesday, February 28, 2006
  Too good to be true?

This is the text of an email I received this morning:

Ive just visited your site looks nice, I am looking to donate anywere from $40 - $100 to your not for profit website.

I will be happy to make a donation via paypal.

The only requirments are the site gets good traffic and is well regarded by the major search engines such as google and MSN, In return for the donation I simply ask for a link back to one of our sites.

Let's ignore the ungrammatical first paragraph, which makes most Nigerian spammers seem positively erudite, and focus on the compliments.

Jakartass "looks nice"? Why, thank you kind sir, but not in I.E.

My site gets good traffic. Sure, if nudging 1,000 hits a week is good traffic. And as Blogger is part of Google, I get a lot of visits via the search engines.

So, what's the scam? A donation in return for a link to one of their sites?

How about Buzz Machine? This is the personal site of Jeff Jarvis, a noted media consultant. Nice guy though he may be, his blog doesn't fit in the Jakartass remit.

So I dug deeper. Email addresses often lead to websites, so dominic@chauy.com leads to www.chauy.com which leads to this page.

And so we discover, amidst Dominic's appalling English, that it costs a lot of money to subscribe to PayPal or to advertise on one of his networked sites.

Obviously Dominic, whose postal address is in Bolton, UK, doesn't read Jakartass. If he did, he'd know that consumer protection is one of my themes. He'd also know that I also regard spamming as unethical, which is why I've left his email address unprotected.


11:00 am |
Monday, February 27, 2006
  Bloggers for the Indonesian Environment

Greenstump is an occasional blogger here whose posts regularly offer that spark of kindred recognition. His most recent post offers a list of Indonesian issues which he suggests, and I agree, are of infinitely greater concern than a few mindless thugs trashing the Danish embassy.

He's also made me realise anew that my occasional rants against the customer lack-of-service departments pale in significance when confronted with the massive greed and blatant disregard of human and animal rights perpetrated by world trade participants, and supported by the Indonesian government and conglomerates.

Did you know that the impending extinction of the orang-utan is largely due to the demand for palm oil?

And not many people stop to think that these products contain palm oil.

Indonesia plans to cut a 2,000 kilometer long, five kilometer wide swathe through one of the world's largest remaining areas of pristine rainforest to create a massive oil palm plantation. The project would destroy two million hectares of ancient rainforest in West and East Kalimantan, traversing almost the entire border with Malaysia, and slicing through three national parks.

These remote rainforests on the island of Borneo are home to countless species of rare birds, plants and mammals including the largest remaining wild orangutan population. This Chinese-funded "agricultural development" is almost certainly a thinly veiled ruse to access timber. Several studies have found the region is too mountainous to support effective palm oil farming, and is economically unviable as it would cost the country billions of dollars a year.

In the past many supposed oil palm developers have abandoned projects after completing rainforest clearance. Indonesia has huge land areas of abandoned, unproductive palm oil plantations and degraded forest areas that would be suitable for oil palm development.
The project would be environmentally devastating to Borneo, a hotspot for biodiversity. Palm oil plantations - which completely clear the rainforests and are biologically depauperate - are the number one enemy of orangutans and all wildlife in Borneo. Orangutans need vast areas of interconnected forest to survive, and this ill-conceived project would speed up their extinction.

What can we do?

1. Read the (.pdf) report The Oil for Ape Scandal.
2. Be further informed.
I've updated my Rain Forest Friends links list. If you think I've missed some worthy causes, please email me the URLs.
3. If you're a blogger here, please add your perspective, as
Indcoup has, and compile a blogroll.
4. Write to SBY, government ministers et al. Action Alert has a 'model' email.


2:00 pm |
Sunday, February 26, 2006
  For the past day you may have noticed some horrible formatting features in this page, such as a lack of paragraphs. This happened when I checked out a WordPress site which I may move this blog to.

Having clicked on Import, all my posts and comments were sent across and this site left visitors with the following message: Are you looking for Jakartass? It is temporarily out of service. Please try again in a few minutes. Meanwhile, discover a better blogging tool.

What I did discover was that I had to 'reinstall' this template to get Jakartass back. Unfortunately the posts were not as I would wish you to read them; please bear with me as I bugger around with Blogger. a bit more.

And many thanks to The Reveller for his knowledge and help in sorting things out.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
  Treespotter is a blogger I've overlooked. Online since May last year, he may be another Jakarta expat.

Or maybe not.

Whatever. He also offers a different perspective on life here as well as a list of lists, mainly for those who've lost or are looking for love.


2:30 pm |
  Spotted this morning above Jakartass Towers.

Thanks to Alessa's Dad for the info and better pictures, I've discovered that this is a flying cigarette ad ~ not that I'm tempted to smoke the evil weed again. (13 days and counting - one day at a time.)


11:00 am |
Friday, February 24, 2006
  Pornographic Puppets

Having got your attention, you might like to know that shadow puppet master Ki Manteb Sudarsono has joined the ranks of seductive singers and erotic models wondering if they could fall foul of the proposed pornography law.

"I've got a couple of puppets and they don't wear pants," he told a discussion at the House of Representatives yesterday. "And they have these things and they move when I maneuver the wayang (shadow puppet)," he added, gesturing to indicate male genitalia.

"Will I get into trouble?"

Jakartass can't help. I've image googled 'pornographic puppets' and can only come up with this:

I'm always wary of groups who wish to impose their morality on others. Here there is a general supposition that the legislators are using the proposed legislation, which would not allow public kissing between spouses, as a holier-than-thou shield to obscure their own venality.

I suspect that the proponents of this law are, by and large, Javanese. They are the most numerous and used to being in positions of authority. As well as being Muslim, they will also be imbued with Javanese mysticism. They may, therefore, also benefit from a deeper awareness of their cultural history, perhaps as told by Sardono W. Kusumo in his fascinating memoir about the role of dance in Indonesia, Hanuman, Tarzan, Pithecanthropus Erectus.

I once observed (the) creative process of the drunken spirit when Bandoro Pangeran Haryo Cokrokusumo invited Wignyo Hambekso to teach his son, BRM. Kanapi, to dance the character King Niwata Kawaca in love. The cokli movement (which can be associated with kecocok peli or penetration of the penis) is a blatant sexual expression, as blatant as the tantric carvings at Sukuh Temple.

Tantric expression in Javanese art can also be traced back to the Centini manuscript, an important work by scholars of the kraton
(Sultan's palace) in the 17th/18th centuries.

Another example of Indonesian erotica can be viewed in the DVD Legong: Dance of the Virgins, originally filmed in 1933.

"Out in the Dutch East Indies, just south of the equator, lies Bali - isle of perpetual summer. In this peopled paradise, untouched by civilization, lives a contented race who joyously worship their gods - to them life is a continuous feast - to them death holds no fear. Here we relate a romance of Balinese life, based on facts and authentic customs - enacted with an all-native case, and produced in its entirety upon the Isle of Bali."

It features 'disrobed native women' and a matching aural subtext for the visual action and plot development by combining Balinese percussion ensembles and Western string quartet and winds in interesting and appropriate ways.

I haven't seen this DVD, but having now read about it I'd like to. Is it pornographic or could it be considered to art? After all, the display of body parts, such as in paintings, statues and dance, was part of Balinese culture.

To quote one review, The restorers had to look to Canada for additional prints of the film because it was censored upon its release in England and the United States - the British didn't like the mild violence while Americans wouldn't abide the film's many bare breasted women.

Still from Legong

One man's meat is another man's poison. Me, I'm a tit man and abhor the pornography of violence.

And you?


3:30 pm |
Thursday, February 23, 2006
  Billing and Cooing

Yesterday's post about the lack of customer service seems to have got all and sundry stirred up. In the words of Whatsitallabout, most of us prefer trade correctness to some colour and chaos Only Mr. Snag seems to equate it all with primary school (sekolah dasar) problems.

Today I'd like to recount a different billing problem in Jakartass Towers.

This concerns a bill I do not have but which I'd like to pay even though I don't know the total amount due.


Non-residents will probably not be aware that utilities bills are paid monthly, before the 20th, and you are informed of the amount due when you actually pay. Some accounts, such as for Telkom, can be paid via ATM. I am, incidentally, unable to pay my Indosat email account online through my account with Bank Permata.

Whatever, that is the somewhat chaotic system we generally cope with.

Last October, in Carrefour, I came across a pretty young lady who persuaded me to subscribe to Indovision, the satellite TV provider. It wasn't her considerable charms that convinced me but rather the thought of watching Charlton's matches live. And the wrestling.

Our Kid and I have enjoyed the service, both of us being fans of old Disney cartoons, and for the past couple of weeks we've been given a free taster of a few extra channels. Indovision are in regular telephonic touch with us and seem eager to boost their income.

Do we like the service?
Do we want to subscribe to extra channels?
Yep, it's a distinct possibility
Please pay at the beginning of March.
Okay. How?

And therein lies the problem.

You see, in the five months since we handed over a wodge of cash to the (six) guys who came by, with alacrity it must be said, to install the satellite dish and various lengths of cable, we haven't received a receipt for that wodge or an account/PIN number. The latter is needed in order to pay for further subscriptions by ATM.

Our recent phone conversations with Indovision continuing to press us for our channel choices have reiterated our inability to pay without the relevant information. We've been promised this, three times, along with details of the cost for further channels, by return of email. We are, naturally, still waiting.

So, will we continue to receive satellite TV? Or will yet another Indonesian monopolistic 'service' prove that it can't get its act together?


4:00 pm |
Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It's a word that's been playing on my mind a lot recently, along with reactions, results, effects and aftermath.

Most of our actions are instinctive and intuitive. That's fine for those basic activities which are repetitive and/or regular and are for short-term needs. There are times, however, when a more considered approach is required before any action is taken because the possible consequences of that particular action are not completely foreseeable.

This may seem obvious to you, but I would suggest that here in Indonesia a considered thought process is not part of the national psyche.

John Aglionby of The Guardian, and a fellow expat, today has a look at the big picture.

It is hard to remember the last time four consecutive days passed in Jakarta without a power cut. Or a week when a toll road did not collapse somewhere in Indonesia, or a train did not derail, or one did not curse at the telephone over the difficulty in making a connection, or one's body did not jar after bumping over a pothole.

Those are just examples expatriates living in Jakarta notice through personal experience or reading the newspapers. The problems related to Indonesia's rapidly crumbling infrastructure go much, much deeper than that, as the government's 2006 infrastructure outlook, published last week, reveals with frightening clarity.

In a comparison of 12 south-east Asian nations from the independently produced 2003 Global Competitiveness Report, which included such backward places as Laos and Cambodia, Indonesia ranked 11th on electrification ratio (at 53%), 12th on fixed telephone line connections (at 4%), 9th on cellular phone users (6%), 8th on the extent of the road network (1.7km per 1,000 people) and 7th out of 11 on both access to proper sanitation (55%) and access to clean water in the home (14%).

According to the government's own data, only 23% of the country's road network is in good condition and only 12% of the water distribution companies are in a strong state.

At least the government recognises the precariousness of Indonesia's economy. What worries me, however, is that nothing the government plans will be effective unless there is a wholesale change of mindset across the country.

Too many people are interested in the here and now rather than the long-term view. For those below the extremely low poverty line and the 40% unemployed, the only focus has to be day-to-day survival but there are many who have more than enough who still grab what they can when they can.

And we little folk have little comeback.

But I have this blog.

So today I'm going to have yet another go at Indosat and it's monopolistic lack-of customer service for non-Matrix users.

As I said last November and in January, I do not have a handphone, I do not want or need a handphone and, above all, I do not want a bill for a phone I do not have or want or need.

Every month I get a bill for over half a million rupiah, which is 'only' $50 (but every cent counts), for the use of Matrix which is, I'm given to understand, a post paid phone card. The bill is correctly addressed, except for apparently having moved recently to Central Jakarta. My presumption is that, unsolicited , Indosat sent me a Matrix card which was intercepted and used by someone I don't know.

Now, this is OK by me as sending unsolicited 'gifts' is spam by any other name. Unfortunately, the 'Dunning Letter' Indosat sent today is also spam.

Never in my umpteen years of striving to stay solvent have I ever received such a letter.

Dunning: 1. to ask repeatedly for payment. 2. to annoy constantly.
Yep, that's Indosat.

Naturally, I've rung them. I got through once and spent a tedious half hour being given the gruesome noise of Kenny G. whilst on hold before eventually being told that things were sorted out and they'd send me an email to confirm this.

Which they didn't.

I tried to ring them today ~ their number is (021) 543.88888. You can choose 1 for bahasa Indonesia or 2 for 'service' in English. Once through, the machine tells you to enter your name, address, phone number, mother's birthday and bra size and SMS it all ~ gratis!

I don't have a f**king handphone, I don't want a f**king handphone and I don't need a f**king handphone, so how the f**k can I get through to these numskulls?

Jakartass is a very small cog in Indonesia's infrastructure. If one person can get so frustrated, is it any wonder that major corporations, who don't have to do business here, say f**k it and go elsewhere?

(If any local readers are pissed off at the lack of expected service, do leave a comment, especially if you want to have a grouse about Carrefour or Indovision.)


2:30 pm |
Monday, February 20, 2006
  Visa Vie

I was originally going to entitle this Age Matters until I read this interview with David Attenborough who turns 80 in May.

For 50 years Attenborough has been effortlessly persuading people to shelve their troubles and linger instead on the mating ritual of the giant mayfly or the gay social whirl of the naked mole rat. So soothing is his delivery, so reassuring his manner, that last month he came top of a Readers Digest poll of the most trusted people in Britain.

Non-Brits who have access to the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet will know his voice at the very least.

He was asked if he had another 80 years, would he exhaust his interest? "Oh, not in another 800 years! Because there are always new people - people growing up all the time who've never seen a duck-billed platypus."

It's great that he doesn't need the benefit of the new anti-aging drugs which, scientists suggest, could lead to the raising of the male retirement age in Britain to 85 by the year 2050.

Still, who needs drugs eh? As my granddad used to say, it's keeping going that keeps you going.

So, what are these strange rumours beginning to circulate among expats here that there are new rules emanating from the Immigration Department which decree that work permits ~ which all other visas are dependent on ~ will not be issued to those over 60 years old?

At the moment, according to my sources, this seems to be a policy confined to expats working in education. Jakartass would be interested to hear if workers in other sectors are affected.

What worries my social circle is that we have made a commitment to Indonesia. In removing the legal right for us to earn and spend rupiah and thus support our Indonesian families, the Immigration Department is pre-empting whatever provisions are being made in the Nationality Act currently being deliberated in the House of Representatives.

If this policy really does exist, then one must ask on what legal basis the particular regulation was enacted, and why hasn't it been 'socialised'?.

Most of us think that this yet another cynical ploy to extort extra fees from supposedly rich bules.

Is it?


3:43 pm |
Sunday, February 19, 2006
  Water, water.

But not everywhere.

News that Jakarta consumers of piped water face a price hike of 8.39% has lead me to tap into the flow of information about this most precious resource.

Currently, 700,000, or 12 percent, of the city's 8.4 million population subscribe to water processed and supplied by PT Thames Pam Jaya (TPJ) (UK) and PT Pam Lyonaisse Jaya (Palyja) (France).

This figure, given in yesterday's Jakarta Post, shows a dramatic reduction from the 34% I quoted last November. Perhaps it's because of the reputedly lousy service provided by the foreign monopolists who seem keener to boost their share values than provide a public service, as contracted to do so by City Hall.

The administration delayed the planned announcement because the city council said the proposed percentage (17.32%) was unrealistic compared to the service provided by water companies to subscribers.

The council set up a team to assess the service and asked the administration to delay the decision on the new rate. The team recommended the administration effect tight control of the quality of water, its distribution and services.


Luckily for some of the population, our wealth is sufficient to budget for a regular supply of bottled water.

Except ....

1. The largest supplier of bottled water in Indonesia is subject to the whims of Danone, the originally French, now multinational, conglomerate. Three years ago Aqua accounted for 12% of Danone's bottled water sales worldwide.

Danone is but one of many conglomerates reaping windfall profits from Indonesia, one of the most populous nations on Earth.

The drop in the value of the rupiah means it's cheaper to buy Indonesian companies. The government has made investing easier by removing barriers such as a 49% limit on foreign shareholding in Indonesian companies and a ban on foreign investment in the distribution business. And using Indonesia as an export base makes more and more sense as new trade agreements with the country's Southeast Asian neighbors have lowered tariffs on most products to 5% or less.

As a result, most of Indonesia's leading household brands are in foreign hands these days. Unilever has the leading soy sauce, Bangso, and the best-selling tea, Sariwangi. The second-biggest maker of cookies and crackers, Helios Arnott's Indonesia, is owned by Campbell Soup Co. Danone owns the top-selling bottled water, Aqua.

So, where do the profits go? Do they increase Indonesia's wealth or that of the privileged few shareholders?

2. According to the bumph on the Aqua website, water is good for you.

Did you know that water fulfills the body's need for liquid?
Wow. Really?

Except .... bottled water isn't that good for you.

In 1997, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization concluded that bottled water does not have greater nutritional value than tap water.

Idaho?s Pure Health Solutions, a water purification company, conducted its own study that concluded certain bacteria grow significantly in bottled water over a 12-day period. Bacteria will normally grow in tap water within a few days if it is kept bottled up at room temperature. Most municipal water managers leave a residual amount of chlorine in tap water after treatment specifically to inhibit the growth of bacteria as the water runs through pipes and sits in tanks.

Do read the full article for more authoritative reasons for debunking the bottled water industry.

3. The growth of the bottled water industry, in pursuit of extra sales of course, is down to hype and packaging, as I argued a week or so ago.

And if you didn't agree with me then, have a look now at H20m, a crystal clear natural spring water brand infused with the power of intention through words, music and thought.

The theory is that given we are 75% water ~ I thought we were 90%, but who's quibbling? ~ and if we respond to the vibrational frequencies of Love and Perfect Health, then so can water and those positive energies can be transmitted by imbibing water treated with kind words ....

There are two 'Fantastic Infusions' ~ Love and Health, with Willpower, Prosperity and Gratitude in the pipeline, so to speak.
(Thanks to Strange New Products.)

What I look forward to are the Infusions of Lust and Instant Gratification.

4. And what do we do with packaging, those ubiquitous plastic bottles, once we've drunk our fill?

Plastic water bottles can take 1,000 years to biodegrade. Nine out of 10 water bottles end up as garbage or litter, and that means 50 million per day.

Only a small percentage are recycled.

5. Jakartass can foresee a time when we will guard our bottles of water as closely as we do our credit cards and mistresses. If I had the distribution rights here, I would recommend Kwik Top, a small, re-usable, patented, in-expensive and user friendly bottle locking device with the unique feature of an integrated combination-lock which fits standard plastic water and carbonated drink bottles worldwide including Coca Cola & Pepsi.

And Aqua?


3:00 pm |
Saturday, February 18, 2006

My good friend Indcoup has gone further down the route of tabloid blogging by setting up Indonesian Celebrities. This is in the fine tradition of Murdoch journalism in that the site extols the visual virtues of the rich and infamous youngish ladies who heterosexual males like to look at and dream about.

Jakartass is, of course, above that sort of thing. Mind you, I'm not sure if 'Er Indoors is, given that she regularly feeds me titbits of info about who's getting pregnant or divorced. I'm not interested. Seriously. Not even when one family currently in the throes of a messy divorce case has to hide from the local paparazzi and choose Jakartass Towers because of the Batak connections.

I prefer anonymity. You won't find me on that cheap and nasty 'reality' TV show called Bule Gila (Crazy White Guy). I'm not that insecure that I need to be noticed; I'm quite happy making a prat of myself in private.

As, of course, are Indonesia Anonymus who have taken a look at television and soap operas in particular.

What if (and this is a biiiig if) Indonesian military would hire Indonesian TV Drama (or sinetron, in Indonesian) companies to help them with war simulations? How do you think it will turn out?

This post has been rightly praised by Indonesia Matters.

Anyone who has had the terrible misfortune of having to sit through hours upon hours of Indonesian soap operas, or sinetron, because his wife demands that he accompany her on the sofa sometimes, will instantly recognise some of the caricatures given at Indonesia Anonymus of the sorry mess that is Indonesian television drama, a world of agonisingly long close-ups, astonishingly exaggerated facial expressions, and the most gratutious displays of religiosity (Oh Allaaaah).

Indonesia Matters ~ Opinions and News on Indonesia. Indonesian Islam, Terrorism, Culture and More ~ seem to be the folk behind Blog.Indonesia ~ "Capturing the face of Indonesia, one blog at a time..." ~ which offers short intros to postings taken from 376 Indonesian blogs, including Jakartass (There are currently 2986 blogs awaiting registration).

Another group blog I've recently come across is Cafe Salemba, which has posts on a variety of top\cs, including the role of television, unemployment and altruism. Heavy stuff? Not at all, especially when their week's music picks are generally classic jazz tracks.

No doubt they'll be at Java Jazz Festival which will be held over the first weekend in March at Senayan here in Jakarta. As much as I like jazz, I can't say that Incognito or Kool and His Gang excite me. However, if we can get to hear any of the 'fusion' of regional music listed here, then I'll be well-pleased.

I prefer the unsung heroes.


3:00 am |
Thursday, February 16, 2006
  I've got to be careful

It's funny how a public service announcement can almost double my hits. All I did was to give you a link to SBY's new website and I've been googled out with searchers for it.

When I last looked at the info on my last 20 search engine queries, nine had googled or yahoo'd presidensby, presiden.go.id, sby website or something similar. This compares with three looking for Jakartass (thank you and welcome), and only one each for playmate tiara lestari, Kylie monologue and tethered monkey (eh?).

Assuming that the six serfs employed to look after SBY's site also check the stats, then I hereby declare that I am not responsible for anything. Please think of Jakartass as one of those scavengers who are welcome here in Jakarta because they can find a use for all kinds of rubbish, thus sparing the government the expense of dealing with it.

In other words, although I am not Indonesian I am making a contribution to Indonesian society ~ and all at my expense. Jakartass is a charitable institution.

To demonstrate, I will now recycle a Christian website which postulates what the Prophets would have driven.

This could have belonged to Moses, for it is recorded in the Old Testament that the roar of Moses' Triumph is heard in the hills.

And this is a picture of a durian because I like it.

The picture that is, not the fruit.


6:30 pm |
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
  Info Scraps.

Those of us who comment on current affairs for a pastime, or even for a living, are rarely able to give a complete perspective. We are selective in our sources, dependent on our perspectives, prejudices and paymasters.

Although Jakartass takes a strong stance on several concerns, there are times when I know that my arguments may be missing a sliver of elucidation. Well, it's only fair that when I can fill those information gaps, I should.

For example, I wasn't aware that when I commented last Sunday on Jusuf Kalla's utterances it was his birthday!

Wow. serendipity or what?

What, actually, as the information is given on his website, a very boring site with just one vaguely interesting piece of information ~ his wife and five children are all called Jusuf Kalla.

His wife is Ny. Mufidah Jusuf Kalla and his children are, respectively, Muchlisa Jusuf Kalla, Muswirah Jusuf Kalla, Imelda Jusuf Kalla, Solichin Jusuf Kalla and Chaerani Jusuf Kalla.

His boss, popularly known as SBY, also has a website, launched this week. It's a much better looking and definitely more interesting site than JK's, not least because there's an English archive of speeches from the past year.

There's loads of info on how to contact SBY, but it's not very useful.

If you are one of the millions awaiting a response after sending a letter or SMS of complaint to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, don't take it personally.

Only a fraction of the nearly two million short message service complaints and thousands of letters sent to PO Box 9949 have been referred to related government institutions since the President launched the service for public feedback last June.

And, despite the President's order for follow-up, most institutions who have received complaints have dragged their feet in responding,

A total of 1,006 reports have been referred to ministries, institutions and local administrations from the 1.92 million SMS and 15,528 letters received as of Feb. 6, Sardan Marbun, the President's special staff for legal and corruption eradication and manager of PO Box 9949, said yesterday.

It's a reasonable website but I think he was conned on the setup costs. Did it really take Rp.84 million (US$9,032) to create the site? And how about Rp.28 million for the monthly rental of server? A bit steep isn't it?

Still, at least the serfs on the service aren't being overpaid: Rp.16 million per month for the salaries of a technician and five journalists seems positively miserly.

But those five journalists are probably as pleased as their colleagues that the House of Representatives are proposing to take the government's new Broadcasting Bill to the Supreme Court for review.

The government has insisted on enforcing the controversial regulations that many see as favoring the interests of broadcasting owners. The House, while it can publicly condemn the new laws, does not have the power to stop their implementation.

The new rules have set the stage for a confrontation between the government and major electronic media owners on one side and the commission and the House on the other.

This is an issue that Jakartass has looked at, as has Yosef Ardi.

Yes, we bloggers do our bit. We can be an alternative news source when the mainstream media isn't particularly interested. It's not just opinions and analysis that we offer.

There is also hard information which, if disseminated by the major news media, could change public perceptions and ally fears that lead to emotional and violent reactions.

I'm talking, of course, about the Cartoon Controversy. I suggested a week ago that I felt that malevolent forces with a hidden agenda were at work. After all, why should it have taken five months since their original publication in Denmark for the cartoons to inflame sensibilities?

It's all very well for the pious press and politicians in the USA and Britain to mouth platitudes about not offending Muslim sensibilities. But did they know that the cartoons were published in a major Egyptian newspaper, Al Fagr, last October, shortly after their original publication?

This information surfaced in two Egyptian blogs last week, Freedom for Egyptians and Ramblings of a Sandmonkey. Both bloggers are unhappy with the Egyptian regime, and both have scans of the newspaper carrying the cartoons.

And they seem to agree with me that something sinister is/was afoot.

This irrelevant outrage timing is but a sign that this violent response to the cartoons is politically-motivated by Muslim extremists in Europe and the so-called secular governments of the Middle East.

Or could this be a disinformation scam dreamt up by western governments in order to irritate those illiterate imams who can be expected to inflame the passions of their congregations? Then we can blame Islamic terrorists for the world's ills whilst we grab those oilfields in Iraq and Iran.

Far-fetched? Maybe not if you consider World Television (which) produces fake news. ... its efforts are entirely funded by the Foreign Office (FCO), which spent £340m on propaganda activities in the UK alone in 2001. A comprehensive post-9/11 overhaul means that this figure has probably markedly increased since then.

The British Satellite News website says it is "a free television news and features service". It looks like an ordinary news website, though its lack of copyright protection might raise some questions in alert journalists. Broadcasters can put BSN material "directly into daily news programmes".

According to World Television, by November 2003 BSN "news" was being "used regularly by 14 of the 17 Middle East countries". "Over 400 stations around the world receive BSN stories," it claims. "185 are regular users of the stories, including broadcasters in Russia, Germany, Africa, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and Australia."

The BSN contract with the Foreign Office was 'enhanced' in October last year. Interesting timing, especially as, according to the FCO, BSN has a particular but not exclusive focus on the Islamic and Arab world.


5:30 pm |
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
  Valentine's Day

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Onions are pickled,
I wish you were too.

Yep, as the above ditty penned for 'Er Indoors proves, Jakartass is a romantic. For one day in the year.

For the other three hundred and sixty four days, we get along just fine. Then along comes February 14th and, with a wham bang, we get all romantic and splash out with our credit cards.

Newspapers produce 'special reports' showing that love is blind and bad for the environment.

Though jobs in the rose farms are keenly sought after, environmentalists fear the impact of extracting water from Lake Naivasha in Kenya as well as the risks of pollution from pesticides.

"Hmm. These roses smell lovely, darling."
"Don't they, dear. They're Naivasha Effluvium."

Here in Jakarta, there are special events and promotions that are designed to inflame desires and profits.

For example, Kanny's Florist in Bintaro sells rose-shaped soaps arranged in a bouquet and, my favourite this, teddy bears that can sing love songs to woo the object of one's affection. Barry Manilow songs, no doubt.

However, I think I've found the perfect evening, or however long it takes, to consort with one's loved one.

The Shangri-La Hotel is advertising its Valentine's Day Celebration to be centered at the Margaux Fine Dining Restaurant. According to the blurb I have here, the French Restaurant is the most romantic place in town to celebrate the special day. For Valentine's Day, the restaurant will offer a special set menu called 'InterCourse'.

The menu features Capers as well as Passion Fruit, so it may be that the Shangri-La hopes to boost its room occupancy rate with post-prandial partnerships.


4:00 pm |
Monday, February 13, 2006
  This much I know

Jakartass, expat blogger, 60 today.

Some birthdays assume greater importance than others ~ a milestone if you will. Today is one such.

I'm not ready for a bus pass just yet. Besides, they don't have them in Jakarta.

The older I get, the more phlegmatic I get. Considering that I've stopped smoking today, it's not surprising that I've got a lot of phlegm.

Flu doesn't get any better as you get older. Neither does Bintang beer.

I played in the same football team as Son No.1 ten years ago. I doubt that I'll be able to do the same with Our Kid in ten years time.

I don't envy the youth of today. If/when they reach my age, will they be as good looking as me?

I'm a typical Aquarian. I don't believe in horoscopes.

I don't take illicit drugs. I don't know how to get hold of them.

If you have problems getting at that hermetically sealed candy, forget it. Invariably it's not worth the bother.

It's only the hair on a gooseberry that stops it being a grape.


12:00 pm |
Sunday, February 12, 2006
  The great and the not-so-bad 2

Vice President Josef Kalla has been in the news this past week for various things he's said, as quoted in Friday's Jakarta Post.

1. "Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., which runs the world's biggest gold mine in Indonesia, should almost triple the revenue it shares with the government because the company is benefiting from rising metal prices," Vice President Jusuf Kalla said.

"With rising gold, copper prices, Indonesia should get double or triple the current revenue sharing. This is for the sake of Papuan people, because 70% of profit sharing from Freeport-McMoRan's operations will be given to the Papuan people," he said.

This seems, on the surface, to be eminently good. However, could this be camouflage to disguise the circling of Indonesian vultures, including Aburizal Bakrie, owner of Bakrie Group and currently Coordinating Minister for People's Affairs, seeking to acquire a slice of the business?

2. Establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to probe and resolve past human rights abuses here is unnecessary, Vice President Jusuf Kalla says.

In a statement on Thursday, which is likely to provoke a strong reaction from rights activists, Kalla said he could not think of any human rights cases that needed to be resolved through reconciliation.

Kalla's statement beggars belief.

Gestapu in 1965?
Tanjung Priok in September 1984?
Student killings at Trisakti in 1998?
Munir in 2004?
East Timor throughout its occupation by Indonesia?

The list of unresolved atrocities is endless.

The 2004 law on the establishment of commission requires it to investigate past human rights violations between 1945 and 2000. One of the commission's main objectives is to reexamine past conflicts and reconcile victims of abuse with the perpetrators.

The government, specifically SBY, has been procrastinating and has yet to establish the commission because of what his aides say is his "tight schedule". Critics have slammed the government for dragging its feet on the issue, and suggested the President is giving into political pressure.

Yudhoyono is a retired general from the Army - one of the institutions at the center of many alleged human rights abuses during the authoritarian Soeharto era.

(It should be noted that in Military Cohesion and Regime Change, a fascinating and scholarly paper by Terence Lee of the University of Washington, SBY, then a Major General and assistant chief of the Department of Social Affairs was quoted as saying, "We communicated to Suharto that the people want change, that the situation is critical, and to consider the possibility of handing over power.")

Kalla, meanwhile, leads Soeharto's old Golkar Party, which is still the home of many former New Order loyalists.

Quite. Same old, same old.

3. The Golkar Party wants to create a simplified two-tier election system, a move it says would cut costs and improve efficiencies. "The public will have less headaches and the government will spend less money on concurrent elections and thus things are expected to be more efficient," Kalla said at his office.

A sensible proposal. However, given Golkar's entrenched political and business interests throughout Indonesia and its links with the military, one must wonder if there is a hidden agenda.

4. Kalla played a key role on behalf of the government in achieving a peace deal with GAM, the Acehnese separatist movement. Before that, he engineered a peace deal in Central Sulawesi; unfortunately malevolent forces continue to stir up strife between Muslims and Christians

Good guy.

Given point 2 and Kalla's connections to the old forces Jakartass reserves judgement on Kalla. In my view, he is not a great man in the same league as Emil Salim.

What I do find somewhat strange is the paucity of material, in English, online about Kalla, in particular his business interests. Can any readers enlighten me?
Saturday, February 11, 2006
  The great and the not-so-bad 1

As an observer of Indonesian people for more than 18 years, I have obviously separated them into groups according to my perceptions and their notoriety. There are some who make the headlines for the right reasons and others, many others, for reasons that are very wrong.

I have long been an admirer of Emil Salim who rarely made the headlines. He has had a distinguished career in public service as Minister of State for Administrative Reform, Vice Chairman of the National Planning Board, Minister of Transportation, Communication and Tourism, Minister of State for Development Supervision and the Environment, and Minister of State for Population and the Environment.

it is in the latter post, which he held from 1978-1993, during the Suharto era, that I first took notice of him. He appeared to be one of the only politicians who was not concerned with economic development per se or with enriching himself, unlike the overtly corrupt Suharto family and cronies.

As Indonesia's First Minister of Environment, he inspired many new conservation initiatives in Indonesia, and helped to ensure that the environment was incorporated in development decisions.

When he left the Suharto administration there were rumours that he could no longer stomach the self-aggrandisement of his erstwhile colleagues. Whatever, he has continued to lead an honourable life of public service, lately at the University of Indonesia as a Professor of Economics.

More importantly, in addition to his public service at the national level, he served as President of the UNEP Governing Council from 1985 to 1987, and as Co-Chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development (1984-1987).

In the latter post, he helped to write the influential report, "Our Common Future".He chaired the Preparatory Committee for the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, which was the leading environmental event of this century. His international diplomacy helped to guide delicate international negotiations to a successful conclusion.

Other significant contributions he has made to the environment include Board membership of the International Institute on Environment and Development and the Stockholm Environment Institute. He also served as a member of the World Health Organization's Health and Environment Commission, and as a member of the UN High Level Advisory Board on Sustainable Development.

His recognition as the 2005 Zayed Prize Winner for Environmental Action Leading to Positive Change in Society is richly deserved

The entire concept of sustainable development was given significant impetus through his work on the World Commission on Environment and Development, and his driving the agenda of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development helped to define the development agenda for the early 21st century.

Jakartass salutes you Emil.

I reserve judgement until tomorrow on Josef Kalla, SBY's vice president.
Friday, February 10, 2006
  You don't want to know.

There are lots of exciting posts due which will surprise and entertain as well as repel. More remarks made in all innocence, yet. That's what Ingrate says in my comments. Is this a backhanded compliment. I don't think I want to know.

As I've got a high temperature and low inspiration, you'll have to make do with the following uninspired stuff which you probably aren't interested in.

Charlton didn't win. To their shame, Liverpool lost. Addicks don't want to know.

Diamond Geezer has one of THE best blogs around. He's even interesting when he's trying to be uninteresting. Want to know more? Really? Then read what he posted yesterday.

I used to collect newspaper articles which were really uninteresting. Here are two that I recall.

1. London's Evening Standard
The Thames pleasure launch Princess Elizabeth nearly sank today.

2. St. Pancras Chronicle
A washing machine in a launderette in Lamb's Conduit Street overflowed last Thursday.

I'd be interested to receive more boring stuff. I'm having problems compiling even this.

For example, this picture is totally unrelated to the current controversy.

It has nothing to do with Danish bacon.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
  A Rollercoaster Day

I woke up this morning feeling down. It's time for my annual bout of flu.

Then my flu blues were blown away when I checked the result of last night's football match, which I didn't get up at 3 o'clock this morning to watch.

Yes! Yes! Charlton beat the European Champions 2 - 0. What a high!

Then I opened my emails. From cheers to tears in less than a minute.

Elton Dean R.I.P.

This might not mean a lot to you but the music described below is part of my lifeblood. If I have any regrets about living in Indonesia it is that I cannot hear any of these musicians live, as I would have done, regularly, if I had continued to live in London.

Obit from Allaboutjazz.com

British jazz saxophonist Elton Dean died on the evening of February 7th, 2006, in a London hospital. For the last year in particular he had been suffering from heart and liver related heart problems. He was 60.

Dean first gained acclaim as a member of the Keith Tippett Group, led by the English pianist and featuring the horn section of Dean, Marc Charig and Nick Evans, in 1969. Later that year, Dean, Charig and Evans were hired by Soft Machine to augment their core trio. After touring as a septet, the band was trimmed down to a quintet, then a quartet. This resulted in what many consider the "classic" Soft Machine line-up of Robert Wyatt, Mike Ratledge, Hugh Hopper and Elton Dean, which recorded Third (1970) and Fourth (1971) for CBS.

Dean left Soft Machine after 1972's Fifth to devote his time to his own group, Just Us, and various jazz-oriented line-ups, many of them featuring Tippett. Over the years however, he remained associated with the Soft Machine family (also known as the "Canterbury scene"), often in the company of bassist Hugh Hopper, while leading his own acoustic jazz quartets and quintets.

In the past few years Dean had again been involved in a variety of Soft Machine-derived line-ups : SoftWorks with Hugh Hopper, Allan Holdsworth and John Marshall; Soft Machine Legacy with Etheridge replacing Holdsworth; Soft Bounds, with Hopper and French jazzers Sophia Domancich and Simon Goubert; and the French-based PolySoft tribute project, again featuring Hopper.

Soft Machine Legacy recorded its debut album in September, and the band were looking forward to supporting it with a series of live performances; a live DVD, recorded in Paris last December, is also set for release later this year.
Written by Aymeric Leroy, chronicler and archivist of all things Canterbury.

I first saw and heard Elton in the mid-sixties with Long John Baldry and the Hoochie Coochie Men. Later, there was a piano player, named Reg Dwight, in the group for a while. He decided that he needed a better name if he was to achieve stardom so he borrowed Elton and John and the rest, as they say, is history.

Elton's lyricism will be sorely missed. Losing a member of one's family is deeply sad, but Elton leaves a legacy of recorded music which will ensure that he will live on as a towering figure in the jazz world.

I have the largest collection of 'Canterbury Scene' music in Indonesia. It continues to inspire me and excite me. If any local readers would like a CD of MP3s, many not officially released, please email me.
Finally, I have received a couple of emails asking if I had received any hate mail following my posts about the Danish cartoon controversy. No and none in the comments either.

Then Indcoup sent me a link to a new blogger, Topo from Solo in Central Java.

He has only posted once, about the reactions to the controversy, but he has got into his vitriolic strde very quickly.

... let us look at our backyard. Have you been lately reading blogs run by expat in Indonesia.Take a look to see that having been in Indonesia doesn't make them more sensitive. But I want to be fair minded. According to statistics compiled by Kelurahan Bangka Kemang ,number of bule population in Kemang has dropped 85% since Bom Bali I. After all, who want to live in a country where bombs explodes every year,except of course the remaining 15% who are second rated .

They seems to have no choice but stay because otherwise they will be one of those standing in the line collecting social security money in their homeland. If you want to visit their blog sites, drop an email to me, cause I don't want to link my blog with rubbish.

Bules standing in the line collecting social security money ?

Oh, I wish, Tropo, I wish. After all, reading racist stereotyped tripe like yours does tend to make our lives here uncomfortable. At least, that's what 'Er Indoors tells me. And as an Indonesian Muslim, she should know. Still, I'll be generous this once and welcome you to the Indonesian blogosphere. We await your further views with interest.

Incidentally, given that Tropo lives in Solo, I must ask if he is, or was, a member of one of those fundamentalist Islamic groups listed here who was involved in a 'sweeping' operation back in 2000 seeking to oust foreign (meaning Amarican) tourists from upmarket hotels.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
  Living in the Pack Age

Enhanced Foods are good for you. They must be, because it says so on the label.

For example, currently on sale in Jakarta's supermarkets is Clearly Canadian ~ oxygen enhanced natural fruit-flavoured water beverage. Apart from natural flavour, whatever that is, and sodium benzoate (to preserve freshness), the drink now contains up to 5 times the normal concentration of Oxygen naturally found in water.

I acknowledge that I am an ignoramus where science is concerned, but if what they claim is true, then the change in its chemical composition means that it is not now water. Unless Clearly Canadian is still water ~ H2O, in which case this "beverage" presumably now also contains up to 5 times the normal concentration of hydrogen ~ H1005.

Ignore the fact that the website only claims 300% oxygen enhancement in the 'plain' beverage and 200% in the natural fruit flavoured choices. Also ignore the fact that the website they give on the label ~ www.clearlyo+2.ca ~ doesn't seem to be extant.

Just consider the enhanced price and think to yourselves, happy consumers, that you are being conned!

The Guardian carries a meaty article today on so-called 'functional foods', and is as cynical about them as I am.

We fall for all the marketing partly because we are confused by all the messages about diet and partly because we all want a magic bullet. But Marion Nestle, professor of Nutrition Studies at New York University, and author of Food Politics, has little time for the delusion.

"No functional foods can ever replace the full range of nutrients in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, nor can they overcome the detrimental effects of diets that are not healthful.
The primary beneficiaries are most likely to be the companies that make them. The degree of benefit to the public is much less certain," she says.

Enhanced foods are never as good for you as those that nature provided, some of which can prevent later diseases.

Natural chemicals found in soya beans and vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower boost the body's ability to repair damaged DNA and may prevent cells turning cancerous, scientists said yesterday.

Studies have suggested that eating vegetables appears to provide some protection against certain cancers, but until now the reason why has been a mystery.

Researchers at Georgetown University in Washington DC believe the answer lies with two naturally occurring compounds. The first, indole-3-carbinol or I3C is abundant in vegetables including broccoli and cabbage, while the second, genistein, occurs naturally in soya beans.

Those of us living in Indonesia are lucky to have the nutritious and delicious tempeh made from fermented soya beans.

Fish or fowl?

Isn't it wonderful that there are still undiscovered species to be found in Indonesia's jungles? So far, scientists from Conservation International have identified long-beaked echidnas (eh?), primitive egg-laying mammals, golden-mantled tree kiangaroos and the world's largest rhododendren flower. Wow!

The scientists are reportedly rushing back to the Foja Mountains in Papua, before the terrain gets turned into a plantation, in order to decide what species this colourful thing is.

Congratulations to Jakartass

In the past year I have awarded a compilation of my esoteric sounds to folk who've sent me a screen capture close to a significant number of hits.

Today I can send one to myself.
Also, in his latest analysis of the State of the Blogosphere, David Sifry reports that Technorati monitors 27.2 million blogs, of which about 2.7 million bloggers update their blogs at least weekly.

According to the Jakartass Technorati rating, this blog is ranked 49,331 with 149 links from 44 sites. This means that in simplistic terms, the kind I readily understand, Jakartass is in the top 2%.

Thanks to all of you for dropping by and/or reading regularly and/or linking to me. I doff my bowler to you all.

Java Richo covers the story of the Indonesian government contemplating entering the 21st century regarding dual citizenship for Our Kid, and others like him.

He also reproduces an excellent cartoon which indicates that the Religious Policeman is not alone in his supposition of the Danish cartoon controversy being an Arabic plot to boost the price of oil.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
  Sorry to keep going on about cartoons again.

You see, it's a government edict that all newspapers and blogs are to keep on and on, at infinitely tedious length, about Danish cartoons, and under no circumstance mention the you-know-what at you-know-where that killed you-know-how-many. And being an obedient citizen, I can only comply.

So says the Religious Policeman, a Saudi man, currently living in the United Kingdom, where the Religious Police no longer trouble him for the moment.

He has posted a depiction of the Prophet that can be bought easily in the souks of Iran. He has also written satirically about the craven reponses by western governments to what may be a controversy stirred up by the Saudis in order to divert public attention from the regrettable demise of a small number of pilgrims in Makkah during the last Hajj,

Saudi newspapers were instructed to revive the four-month-old story of cartoons about the Prophet (PBUH) in a Danish newspaper, and turn it into an attack on Denmark, together with a "spontaneous demand by the people" for a boycott of Danish goods.

So far this has worked reasonably well, although major Danish exports are bacon and lager beer, which we do not import, except as "special consignments" for some members of your family.

What is also very gratifying is that officials in the West are not only accepting our right to be offended at whatever we choose, but they are also saying that the Western media should work to our standards, not theirs. It is striking how soon they forget about their self-professed "freedoms" when they witness a little righteous Muslim anger.

Thus UK Foreign Secretary Straw's comment
that the decision by some European newspapers to print the cartoons was "disrespectful" and he added that freedom of speech did not mean an "open season" on religious taboos.

.... or to paraphrase him,"having a freedom does not mean that you have the right to use it". We could not have put it better ourselves; perhaps we should ask Mr Straw to write editorials for the "Arab News"!

The Religious Policeman would agree that the Muslim world has contributed a great deal to the growth of civilisation, great architecture, paintings and literature. That moderate Muslim voices are seemingly silenced by the clamour of illiterate imams who don't appreciate their own culture is very sad. Sad because they are in denial of the power of religion to embrace what is good in humanity.

This site points out that hundreds of paintings, drawings and other images of Mohammed have been created over the centuries, with nary a word of complaint from the Muslim world. The recent cartoons in Jyllands-Posten are nothing new; it's just that no other images of Mohammed have ever been so widely publicized.

This is an archive of numerous depictions of Mohammed, to serve as a reminder that such imagery has been part of Western and Islamic culture since the Middle Ages -- and to serve as a resource for those interested in freedom of expression.

Here in Indonesia, as elsewhere, protests have continued with escalating demands that Danish expats should be repatriated.

In Bandung, protest coordinator Asep Syarifuddin from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) warned that the group would transport Danes to the airport to be repatriated.

They may well leave of their own volition after the Danish Embassy today advised its citizens to leave

Ambassador Geert Aagaard Anderson said, "I have not seen any security measures at all to protect the Danish embassy or other places."

So once again a few righteous thugs dictate to others.

SBY has declared that the government was constitutionally bound to protect freedom of religion and the right of all people to practice their faith.

"In this country, there is no such thing as religions that are recognized or not recognized by the state. The Constitution guarantees the freedom of every citizen to have a religion and to practice their faith. The state shall never interfere in any religious teachings. The duty of the state is to protect, serve and facilitate the building and maintenance of places of worship and to encourage citizens to become good followers of their religions."

".... to encourage citizens to become good followers of their religions." ??

Surely it's time for the government to clamp down on the FPI. If they can be encouraged to become good citizens, then they could yet become good followers of their faith.

If they can't, then they should be charged with sedition because it's not the Danish community here that is creating mayhem.

(Thanks to Indcoup for sending me the top two links. For more prosaic coverage of events worldwide, bookmark The Guardian's special page.)
Monday, February 06, 2006
  False Prophets, False Piety

Oh dear. Am I about to upset sensibilities?

Probably, but then I doubt that the unemployed illiterates who 'invaded' the Danish Embassy here will read my musings, but if you do, please read on ...

Indonesia prides itself on being a 'moderate' Islamic state, which ignores the fact that a few pompous politicians in Aceh, that den of corruption Padang and in a few other places have declared sharia (Islamic) law to be above Indonesia's constitutional law ~ which guarantees freedom of worship, except for Jews and Jehovah's Witnesses ~ in their domains.

It is the Jakartass contention that malevolent forces with a hidden agenda are at work. I do not believe that this worldwide wave of protests is a spontaneous (= righteous) uprising. After all, it has taken four months since the cartoons, which can be seen here, were first published to produce the hotheaded reactions which now dominate the front pages. As Indcoup opines, if the cartoons had been ignored, then they would have meant very little in the scheme of things.

But no. Meddlesome mullahs had to demonstrate that they were more pious than others by inflaming the passions of their flocks. They've also shown that they have absolutely no sense of humour.

I particularly like this cartoon which ~ and read my lips guys ~ does NOT depict Muhammed.
This, to my mind, is a serious comment on how adherents of Islam generally subjugate their womenfolk.

In the immortal words of Alfred E.Neuman, get a life guys. Stop thinking about the virgins you say you can expect to deflower in the hereafter and start living in the here-and-now. Respect lives and try to encourage others to similarly respect you.

Your lack of a sense of humour would be funny, if it wasn't so sad. If Christians can joke about their religion, like here and here, why can't you. Is Islam a religion without joy?

Remember. God is everywhere, including Peru. His prophets, like yourselves, were/are mere mortals. None of us have the divine right to say that we are right.

And a final, not entirely irrelevant, point. Why is Jesus generally depicted as a white man? If Islam would accept portrayals of the Prophet Mohammed, would he be a white man too?
Sunday, February 05, 2006
  Did you know?

1. How cartoons fanned flames of Muslim rage

2. In the past century the population of orang-utans living in the Borneon Sabbah forests has plummeted from 315,000 to just 13,000, thanks to colonial deforestation. If we carry on converting forests into palm-oil plantations we risk losing the rest.

3. Smoking is a lifestyle with its own etiquette.

4. But not for long.
In Britain, MPs will vote next week on a public health bill which outlaws smoking in workplaces and enclosed spaces on health grounds. However, it currently exempts private homes.
5. Salad sandwiches save water
It takes just 550 litres of water to produce a loaf of bread ~ as opposed to 25,000 litres of water to produce eight ounces of beef.

6. Indosat sends thank you notes when you give them some money.

Dear Customer,
We would like to inform you that we already receive your payment at the amount of Rp. 500.000,00, and we would like to thank you for your cooperation.
Best regards,
Customer Service Manager

Very thoughtful. It would be nice, though, if they could co-operate with their customers and also provide reasonable access to hyperspace

This is today's regular message: The connection to the server was reset while the page was loading.

So if you're reading this, consider yourself lucky.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
  Do you smoke after sex?

I don't know. I've never looked.

Well, today Jakarta is set to become a butt-free urban utopia so, presumably, there'll be no more smoking before sex either.

But(t), hey, this is no joking matter.

Even a portable ashtray will not help if a smoker lights up while walking down Jl. Sudirman or Jl. Thamrin and a public order officer or non-governmental organization activist spies the offender.

As the smoking restriction takes effect this weekend, some 1,000 officers from a city task force will be on the streets checking for smokers and issuing stern warnings.

In addition to all city administration offices, main thoroughfares and the buildings along them will be the first places in the "Big Smoke" to be declared smoke - and butt - free.

This has come about because City Hall seems, at last, to be concerned about the health of its citizens. Bylaw No. 2/2005 on air pollution comes into force today.

- Smoking is banned in public spaces, health facilities, offices and education facilities, as well as children's activity areas, religious areas and aboard public transportation. The management of such places must provide a special area for smokers equipped with exhaust fans.

I believe this is great news. After all, we smokers with exhaust fans are the major contributors to air pollution in Indonesia. And giving up isn't that difficult, is it? I do it every day, at bedtime.

Lung Ashtray

That there are other regulations being enacted today is also to be applauded, if only to ensure that we consumers of the most addictive drug known, albeit legal, don't feel isolated.

- It is illegal to burn trash in the open.

- Motor vehicles must have their emission and noise levels checked by an authorized workshop at least every six months, and this testing is part of the requirement for car ownership registration.

- Public transportation and City Administration vehicles must all use gasoline, as opposed to diesel fuel (to be regulated in a gubernatorial decree)

- Every person or company must contribute to the development of green open spaces (to be further regulated in a gubernatorial decree)

- To improve the air quality, a motor vehicle-free day will be established in certain areas of the city at least once a month. (to be regulated in a gubernatorial decree)

All great stuff, although it's a pity that Governor Sooty doesn't have the necessary powers to legislate against forest clearances, as pictured by Indcoup yesterday, which produce haze covering neighbouring countries, a long unresolved problem.

Anyway, Jakartass is prepared to do his bit, but(t) not just yet. I need help because it won't be easy. For a while, apparently, I'll be a craving maniac. I'll need a support network such as Nicotine Anonymous or a course of aversion therapy such as acupuncture.

In an emergency, I suppose I could try nicotine free cigarettes. They should be okay if I don't exhale.

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