Sunday, December 30, 2007
  100 Years of National Slumber?

The slogan "Celebrating 100 years of nation's awakening" dreamed up for Visit Indonesia Year 2008 was objected to by so many folk on the grounds of grammatical inaccuracy and lack of both relevance and meaning that bureaucrats at the Ministry of Tourism had several meetings and came up with something different.

It is now "Celebrating 100 years of national awakening" and Garuda Indonesia are very happy about it.

As the national flag carrier of Indonesia, Garuda Indonesia has always played a key role in developing both international and domestic tourism fpr the nation. The official Visit Indonesia Year logo will be displayed on our entire fleet during 2008. This is part of our on-going contribution to improving and transforming air travel and tourism in Indonesia.

The last Visit Indonesia Year, in 1991, was not particularly successful as it only encouraged a further 400,000 foreign tourists to come, although that was still a rise of 16% from the 2.1 million who visited the previous year.

This year's foreign tourist arrivals are expected to fall half a million short of the target of six million, so reaching next year's target of seven million, a 21.5% rise, is going to involve a lot of effort. The government could start by re-introducing the two month visa on arrival as it's obvious that the one month visa has reduced the number of backpacking folk with time on their hands who want to explore the byways off the beaten tracks.

Mind you, according to the Data Center of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism quoted here, Chinese tourists in the January-October 2007 period reached 145,000, an increase of 48.96% compared to the 97,902 in the same period last year and Australian tourists totalled 219,310, an increase of 43.26%.

Apparently the most significant rise was in tourists from Bahrain, an increase of 234.04% to 471.

Wow! Perhaps that explains why much of the budget for tourism promotion, US$13 million, will be spent on additional promotion for festivals and in those countries which traditionally provide the most tourists for Indonesia, and (coincidentally?) are served by Garuda, such as Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and China. And Bahrain.

Of course, that the EU has barred all Indonesian airlines from its airspace pending satisfactory audits of management practices including aircrew requirements, safety and maintenance records, means that the Ministry of Tourism and Culture presumably feels that there is little point in promoting Indonesia in Europe.

However, European tourists will continue to come in spite of the blinkered practices of the bureaucrats and politicians here because, hey, Indonesia is a country of endless fascination, and there are still entrepreneurs with faith in the country's potential to perhaps, one day, think outside the box.


6:00 pm |
Saturday, December 29, 2007
  2007 R.I.P (Part 2)

As Pakistan plunges even further into chaos in the name of ... sectarianism ... political intrigue ... ?, those of us living in Indonesia can say with only the merest scintilla of irony that, thankfully, such anarchy doesn't exist here.

Apart from fairly localised mindless actions from small groups of F***ing Pathetic Idiots who think that to set fire to a couple of churches is going to enable them to jump to the head of the queue for an everlasting romp in the vestal chamber. Obviously these sexually inadequate thugs are unable to meet their matches here in the now if they're more focussed on the hereafter.

There isn't much, if any, tolerance of minority interpretations of Islam from the state sponsored Indonesian Council of Ulamas, which is somewhat strange given that the Islam practiced here by some 40% of the population has heavy infusions of Javanese culture, and followers tend to reject a literal or dogmatic interpretation of Islamic doctrine.

One can sympathise from afar with the victims of war, floods, plagues, pestilences and disasters, both natural and man-made, but unless one loses a member of family, friend or acquaintance the grim reaper isn't so grim. My personal circle has been reduced by just one this year with the passing of a former colleague from a heart attack, probably brought on as a result of a serious motorcycle accident. He was also another victim of the illegal practices of my erstwhile employer and a potential witness in the upcoming court cases filed against them.

Most of us have a fascination with lists and also a curiosity about the book shelves and music collections of friends and acquaintances. It is in this spirit that I bring you my selection of the obituaries of the year. Most of these folk have impinged on my life in one way or another, although I have included a few or four because I didn't know they had.

And so it goes ... (cf. April 11th)

--7. Magnús Magnússon, 77, Icelandic-born British television presenter (Mastermind, 1972-1997), pancreatic cancer.
13. Michael Brecker, 57, American jazz saxophonist, leukemia.
14. Barbara Kelly, 82, Canadian-born British actress (What's My Line?)

--6. Frankie Laine, 93, American singer (Mule Train), complications of hip replacement surgery.
--9. Alejandro Finisterre, 87, Spanish inventor of table football.
16. Sheridan Morley, 65, British broadcaster and author, heart failure
21. Keith Kyle, 81, British journalist, historian and broadcaster
25. Brett Mycles, 29, American fitness model and bisexual pornography actor, heart failure.
26. Baroness (Lena) Jeger, 91, British Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras South and opposition spokesman in the House of Lords.
28. Baron (Charles) Forte, 98, British hotelier

14. Gareth Hunt, 65, British actor (The New Avengers), pancreatic cancer.
15. Sally Clark, 42, British solicitor wrongly convicted of killing two of her sons.
-----Charles Harrelson, 69, American convicted murderer, father of actor Woody Harrelson, heart attack.
22. U. G. Krishnamurti, 88, Indian philosopher.
26. Donald McPhee, 61, photographer

--4. Terry Hall, 80, British ventriloquist and children's television presenter.
--7. Johnny Hart, 76, American cartoonist (B.C., The Wizard of Id), stroke.
--8. Neville Duke, 84, British fighter pilot during World War II.
-----Sol LeWitt, 78, American artist linked to conceptual art and minimalism.
11. Kurt Vonnegut, 84, American novelist and social critic, brain injury from a fall.
23. Paul Erdman, 74, American economist, banker, and writer.
25. Bobby "Boris" Pickett, 69, American one-hit wonder singer (Monster Mash), leukemia
-----Alan Ball, 61, British footballer, youngest member of England's 1966 World Cup-winning team, heart attack.

--3. Rose Tombe, Sudanese celebrity goat, asphyxiation.

12. Sir Wally Herbert, 72, British polar explorer.
24. Derek Dougan, 69, Northern Irish footballer (Wolves, Northern Ireland)


1:00 pm |
Friday, December 28, 2007
  2007 R.I.P (Part 3)

History museum offers glimpse of the past.
Headline in Jakarta Post 28.12.07

No surprises there but I don't know whether it was a Wikipedia criterion for selection in their list but a surprising number of wrestlers died this year, although I haven't listed any here. Cancer also seemed to be a major factor.

--5. George Melly, 80, English jazz and blues singer, critic, writer and lecturer, lung cancer.
29. Phil Drabble, 93, British television presenter (One Man and His Dog)

--1. Tommy Makem, 74, Irish folk musician (The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem), lung cancer.
--3. Paul Rutherford, 67, British jazz trombonist
-----John Gardner, 80, British thriller writer and James Bond continuation novelist, suspected heart failure.
16. Max Roach, 83, American jazz drummer.

10. Dame Anita Roddick, 64, British entrepreneur and founder of The Body Shop, brain haemorrhage.
11. Joe Zawinul, 75, Austrian jazz keyboardist and composer, founder of Weather Report, cancer.
19. Mike Osborne, 66, British jazz musician.
22. Marcel Marceau, 84, French mime artist.
29. Lois Maxwell, 80, first Miss Moneypenny in James Bond film series, colorectal cancer.
30. Joe Mitty, 88, British founder of the Oxfam charity shop.

--1. Ned Sherrin, 76, British broadcaster and theatre producer, throat cancer.
-----Ronnie Hazlehurst, 79, British theme song composer (Are You Being Served?) and jazz musician, stroke.
11. Sri Chinmoy, 76, Indian-born philosopher and guru, heart attack.
16. Barbara West Dainton, 96, British Titanic survivor.
-----Deborah Kerr, 86, British actress (From Here to Eternity, Black Narcissus, The King and I), complications of Parkinson's disease.
18. Alan Coren, 69, British writer and satirist, editor of Punch (1978-1987), cancer.
20. Ivo Cappo, 55, Papua New Guinean magistrate, stoning.
22. Billy Ray Hamilton, 57, American death row inmate, natural causes.
30. John Woodruff, 92, the first black athlete to win gold at the notorious 1936 Berlin Olympic games

--1. Paul Tibbets, 92, American pilot of the Enola Gay which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, heart failure.
--6. George Osmond, 90, American patriarch of the Osmond singing family.
--8. Chad Varah, 95, British Anglican priest, founder of the Samaritans.
12. Ira Levin, 78, American author (Rosemary's Baby, The Stepford Wives) and playwright (Deathtrap), heart attack.
18. Peter Cadogan, 86, British writer and anti-nuclear campaigner.
19. John Straffen, 77, British murderer, Britain's longest serving prisoner (56 years), natural causes.
20. Ian Smith, 88, Rhodesian politician, Prime Minister (1964-1979).
22. Reg Park, 79, British bodybuilder, Mr. Universe (1951), skin cancer.
-----Verity Lambert, 71, British TV producer, BBC's first female producer (Doctor Who).
25. Peter Houghton, 68, British recipient of the first artificial heart transplant, multiple organ failure.
30. Robert "Evel" Knievel, Jr., 69, American stunt performer.

--5. Karlheinz Stockhausen, 79, German composer.
--7. Fuad Hassan, 78, Indonesian Minister of Education (1985-1993), cancer.
--8. Patsy Wood, 47, an inspirational environmentalist, maverick tree planter and talented seamstress, cancer.
12. Basuki, 51, Indonesian comedian.
13. Floyd Red Crow Westerman, 71, actor, singer and campaigner for Native American rights.
17. Sir Norman Reid, 91, gallery curator.
23. Oscar Peterson, 82, Canadian jazz pianist, kidney failure and complications from a stroke.
27. Benazir Bhutto, 54, Pakistani opposition leader, assassinated.


12:00 pm |
Thursday, December 27, 2007
  2007 R.I.P (Part 1)

It's three years since the Aceh Tsunami, a year since the disappearance of the AdamAir plane, and innumerable trains and boats and planes have crashed or sunk through the year. Today comes news that 78 folk have been killed in landslides in Central Java where there have been strong winds and heavy rain.

And there is as yet no final resolution of the Munir affair nor can the refugees in Sidoarjo expect to rebuild their lives any time soon.

There is a smug advertorial in today's Jakarta Post from Lapindo Brantas Inc., which, thanks to its culpability - they drilled into a geological fault line thus unleashing the mud volcano - has been tasked by SBY with compensating the displaced families and industries. In the advertorial LB Inc. suggest that they share the victims' struggles and that everything is going according to plan - to give a 20% advance in compensation for the lost land (some 10,071 plots) with "the remaining 80% to be paid at a later date" - my emphasis.

And so the litany rolls on; north Jakarta is inundated - yet again - due to a combination of high tides, subsidence, heavy rainfall, which can't flow into the heavily silted Jakarta Bay thanks to the high tides. That's more needlessly homeless.

It's enough to make you sick ~ which it does with skin diseases and diarrhea.

The prediction that Jakarta will be totally under water by 2050, which I have long predicted, is gaining currency.

Also in today's 'news' is that Bank Rakyat Indonesia (lit. the Indonesian people's bank) is launching BRI Prioritas "to net affluent customers".

According to Merrill Lynch and Capgemini in "World Wealth Report 2007", the number of "very prosperous people" in Indonesia amounted to 20,000, an increase of 16% from 2005.

I do not have the exact number of very poor people in Indonesia because there are variables in the calculations.

As Dr. Zahidul Huque, the country representative of the United Nations Population Fund writes: The number of poor people currently living in Indonesia varies depending on the definition we use. According the Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS) there were 39 million people living below the national poverty line in 2006 - 27.1% according to World Bank figures given here. This number increases to 116 million if the poverty line is set at US$2 day (52.4%). However, the number of poor is only 16 million if the poverty line is considered at US$1 day (7.55%).

The government aims to reduce the number of people living below the national poverty line to 18.8 million by 2009.

According to the CIA's World Fact Book, Indonesia's population in July this year was estimated at 234,693,997 - to the nearest one?

But, hey, what does it matter? What's one, or twenty thousand, out of the total population?

Ah, but one of the twenty thousand is supposedly the Minister of People's Welfare and he could personally donate $300 to each person living under $1 a day, almost a year's income.

What if the other 19,999 "very prosperous people" were to do the same?

That is, of course, a big IF.

And that will hopefully be the Jakartass theme for 2008. Not 'what is', but 'what if'.


11:30 am |
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
  2007 has not been a prime year

Let me prove that with my trusty calculator:
2007 ÷ 3 = 669
669 ÷ 3 = 223
223 ÷ 3 = 74.33r


If you understand that, then you may do better than I in grasping Garrett Lisi's theory which has been laid out in an online paper entitled "An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything".

Basically, it's all to do with what happens when a gluon hits a quark.

A quark has a quantum property called a colour charge (labelled red, green or blue), which changes under the influence of the strong force carried by a gluon. Garrett Lisi has shown that the hexagonal G2 pattern correctly predicts the relationship between quarks (or anti-quarks) and the strong force.

If you want to know more, lot's more, look here.

For example, I bet you didn't know that it is not uncommon that a novice could overlook the contributions of others as is the case with Garrett Lisi’s paper “An exceptionally simple Theory of Everything.” A recent paper published in Elsevier Science Direct Journal called Chaos, Solitons and Fractals, an interdisciplinary Journal for Nonlinear Dynamics, Quantum and Nanotechnology entitled “From E8 to E-Infinity” wraps it all up. In this paper, an Egyptian, M. S. El Naschie shows an incredible connection between the total sum of all exceptional Lie symmetry groups dimension 548 and the inverse electromagnetic fine structure coupling 548/4 = 137.

In addition, the Egyptian concluded, following earlier work by Freeman Dyson, that the maximum number of elementary particles at the energy scale of the standard model is a maximum of half the inverse value. That means approximately 69 particles. The theory of E-Infinity is at least 15 years old and it is based on a new irrational quasi-binary system utilizing the miraculous properties of the golden mean and the Fibonacci numbers within this system (2)(248) = 496 of E8 E8 is reduced to 496-(0.18033989) = 495.9674775 while 137 is increased to 137.08203932.

These small differences make a big difference and are behind the success of E-Infinity theory.

Quite, but I've got my own theory; what I think is that in between his surfing, snowboarding and quarking, Dr. Lisi is a big fan of sculptress Jennifer Maestre. Her work is exceptionally and similarly deceptively simple and she must use a lot of gluon her pencil stubs.

Aurora detail



10:00 am |
Monday, December 24, 2007
  The Last Post for Christmas

What have they done to the rein, deer?

Thieves Steal Christmas Toys for Homeless Children
More than 300 homeless children are without Christmas presents this holiday season after a Chicago church was ransacked by thieves who stole baby dolls and hundreds of other donated toys.

It's Christmas Day in the Workhouse,
And the cold bare walls are bright
With garlands of green and holly,
And the place is a pleasant sight:
For with clear-washed hands and faces
In a long and hungry line
The paupers sit at the tables,
For this is the hour they dine.

And the guardians and their ladies,
Although the wind is east,
Have come in their furs and wrappers,
To watch their charges feast:
To smile and be condescending,
Put puddings on pauper plates,
To be hosts at the workhouse banquet
They’ve paid for – with the rates.

Midnight mass at 8pm to fool drunks
Midnight Mass will be held early this evening, Christmas Eve, at churches across the UK to stop drunks disrupting the services.

Drunken Santas

Hodening - mumming or masquerade on Christmas Eve in Kent.

A party of young people procure the head of a dead horse, which is affixed to a pole about four feet in length, a string is tied to the lower jaw, a horsecloth is then attached to the whole, under which one of the party gets, and by frequently pulling the string keeps up a loud snapping noise, and is accompanied by the rest of the party grotesquely habited and ringing hand-bells. They thus proceed from house to house, sounding their bells and singing carols and songs. They are commonly gratified with beer and cake, or perhaps with money. This is provincially called a hodening; and the figure above described a "hoden," or wooden horse.

This curious ceremony is also observed in the Isle of Thanet on Christmas Eve, and is supposed to be an ancient relic of a festival ordained to commemorate our Saxon ancestors' landing in that island.
fr. Busby's Concert Room and Orchestra Anecdotes (1825, vol. i. p. 73)

Michael Quinion writes
: Because a horse sacrifice was said at one time to take place at the winter solstice among peoples of Scandinavian origin, it has also been suggested that the word is a corruption of the name of the Norse god Odin (or Woden or Wotan).

And if you really want to know more and want to see that weird picture above animated, check out the Hoodeners website.

Teetollers may prefer to join a Lithuanian Christmas Eve 'Celebration'.

The meal is eaten solemnly, there is little conversation or joking and alcoholic beverages are not served. If anyone needs to drink, water, homemade cider or fruit juice is served. After the meal is consumed, no one hurries to leave the table: the first to rise while another is still eating will die first. The family remains seated, the mood lightens, predictions and forecasts are done about next year, health, happiness, love and etc. Christmas Eve is rich in prognostications.

If you get bored reading Christmassy blogs, why not try a Boredom Buster? You can make yourself an Origami Pig or a Comic.

Whether you celebrate Xmas or not, have a good holiday and remember that many won't, even if they want to.


7:00 am |
Friday, December 21, 2007
  It was 50 years ago today
.... and I was there.

Our Kid reckons I'm getting senile, but then he loves playing with words. But I must be honest and say that I have few memories of the day, 50 years ago today, when Charlton beat Huddersfield 7-6.

So what? as Oigal might ask, but at the recent Xmas Blogfest someone said that I hadn't mentioned Charlton much recently. The simple matter is that I was waiting for a reason, and this is it.

This momentous match ended with a never before matched and yet to be repeated scoreline. Score six but still lose? The later renowned Bill Shankly was manager of Huddersfield and he was rendered virtually speechless, except to mutter to himself: "It’s just one of those things ... It’s history ..."

The reason why I have few memories of that day is because the whole notion of being alone in a crowd of as much as 40,000, yet with no sense of danger because we were 'family', was as much an important part of the experience as the match itself. I'd only been going down to The Valley for a month or two, having been asked by one of my new school mates.

Others had asked me to go with them to other football clubs within the school's catchment areas. They were Millwall and Crystal Palace, neither of which I want to dignify with links because ....

Charlton was within walking distance of my home, a tad past my local library, through Maryon Park and the adjacent Maryon Wilson Park which has enclosures for deer and other cuddly animals.

The 50's were quite stultifying for my generation. There was little scope for creative freedom in a country recovering from the deprivations of WWII and its aftermath. Going to watch Charlton play on a Saturday afternoon was, as I wrote here, a rite of passage into teenage, and an all too brief few hours when I could explore beyond the family confines. A win, a loss or a draw didn't matter so much to me. There was still the ritual of returning home to the Saturday afternoon pilchard sandwiches whilst watching the Billy Cotton Band Show on BBC TV in black and white. Strewth, I cringe to this day,

Still, at least I can claim that I was there when the great Johnny Summers scored five goals with his right foot - he was left footed. We were down 2-0 at half time because our centre-half, Derek Ufton who's now a Charlton director, had dislocated his shoulder - there were no substitutes in those days. At half time, Summers was switched to the centre forward position. He scored, but playing with ten men Charlton soon found themselves down 5-1.

Within two minutes it was 5-3. First, Buck Ryan scored. Then Summers, again with his right foot, this time off a post. Ten minutes later, he completed his hat-trick, blasting a right-foot shot past the diving Huddersfield goalkeeper, Sandy Kennon. 5-4.

Five minutes later, Summers drove in the equaliser and, in the 81st minute, with the Huddersfield defence slithering in the mud and the Charlton spectators in pandemonium, Summers hit the ball once more towards goal. It took a deflection and rolled through Kennon’s outstretched legs. Summers had scored five goals, all with his weaker foot.

Ten-man Charlton, from 5-1 down, had scored five goals in 19 minutes.

6-5 home advantage.

But there was more. In the 86th minute, the ball was punted towards the Charlton goal and John Hewie, the right back, attempted to side-foot it out of the way.... “The ball skidded, I stretched and I could only toe-poke it,Hewie said. “And it went into the net.


In the muddy conditions, the Huddersfield defence slipped and almost comically their goalkeeper sent the ball up in the air, over his head and into the net although the winning goal is credited to John Ryan.

Charlton 7 Huddersfield 6.

John Summers died of leukemia in Brook General Hospital five years later. Two years after that I was a temporary porter there and he was still talked about.

And fifty years later he remains a hero.

Four of the six surviving members of the Charlton team will be at the Valley tomorrow when Charlton, back in the second tier, take on Hull. John Hewie, who is one of the four, was a neighbour of mine when I was a lad; maybe it's why I used to play in defence when I found myself a game.

We Addicks have never known what to expect when Charlton play. I like to think that this exciting tradition was started on Saturday, December 21, 1957.


5:00 pm |
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
  Indonesian NGO helps small island communities

As widely expected, the Bali Conference proved to be an inconclusive shebang. Most media have focussed on the USA's intransigence and unwillingness to join the global consensus until it was time to go home. A few conciliatory words from their chief delegate lead to a standing ovation then a rush to the exits.

George Monbiot has written thus:
"After 11 days of negotiations, governments have come up with a compromise deal that could even lead to emission increases. The highly compromised political deal is largely attributable to the position of the United States, which was heavily influenced by fossil fuel and automobile industry interests. The failure to reach agreement led to the talks spilling over into an all-night session."

These are extracts from a press release by Friends of the Earth. So what?

Well it was published on December 11 ........ 1997. George Bush was innocent; he was busy executing prisoners in Texas. Its climate negotiators were led by Albert Arnold Gore.

In allowing developed (i.e. western) nations to buy greenhouse emissions cuts from 'developing' (i.e. poor with non-caucasian rulers) countries, entrepreneurs in India and China have made billions by building factories whose primary purpose is to produce greenhouse gases, so that carbon traders in the rich world will pay to clean them up.

Meanwhile, several nations which will soon disappear thanks to the rising oceans, could not afford to attend this year's conference. An Indian journalist has written about the role of an Indonesian NGO, Biotani, in defending their interests.

The Bali conference also adopted a resolution on adaptation fund to help poor nations to cope with damage from climate change impact like droughts, extreme weather conditions or rising seas. The Adaptation Fund now comprises only about $36 million but might rise to $1-$5 billion a year by 2030, if investments in green technology in developing nations surges.

A group of small island communities, led by Biotani Indonesia Foundation, has urged that the adaptation fund should include a special corpus to cover their initiatives.

$36 million. Wow!

Might rise ..... if ??

Who gives a shit? Certainly not the Bushes and Bakries.

All praise to Biotani who demonstrate that it's going to take us little folk to repair the world.


1:00 pm |
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
  Get Thee Behind Me, Santa!

A Christmas Post
I'm not a workaholic so I'm all in favour of holidays. However, I do feel that they should be celebrated in a manner appropriate to one's inner self. They are an opportunity to be with one's immediate family and social circle, so I detest the way that certain festivals have been appropriated by commercial enterprises who wish to offload tat.

A column in the Guardian bemoans the boring ads shown on UK TV with B-list celebrities wandering around supermarket aisles shopping for Christmas. The background music is generally cloned from nostalgic pop hits and the general hype seems to be out of step with the mood of the British public in general and we Guardian readers in particular.

I'm so sick of this hideous Christmas retail orgy. Where I work we've been selling light up mangers and glittery Santas for three months now. Please make it stop.
OneZero (UK)

Living, as I do, in a Muslim country it seems a bit churlish to complain about the Christmas advertising here, but so be it.

It's not that they ignore it, not at all, it the sheer zeal with which it's foisted upon you. Old JC and the nativity doesn't get a look in, obviously, but Santa is everywhere. Santa ice-skating, Santa waving from a miniature train, giant Santas trying to shake your hand in the mall, Santa trying to pack your bag in the supermarket, even Santa jamming in a rock band. Fair makes me nostalgic for a good simple dose of the predictable telly dross you've described.
- Des Demona (UAE)

In China people don't even take a day off work for Christmas and Christmas puddings are not available, but still has been commercially hi-jacked in the extreme: Santas and Christmas music everywhere, and store assistants sporting Father Christmas hats for the past month. It's a bonanza of consumption even more empty than that back home...

Des Demona said: "....but Santa is everywhere."
Here it's likewise, but mainly wishing everyone a 'Happy New Year'.....one year they will get the hang of it.

The story I like the most (please, someone, tell me it isn't true) was reported by a Christmas visitor some years back to Japan who swore they had seen, in the entrance to Tokyo's biggest department store, a three floor (12 metre) high Father Christmas ....being crucified on a cross, with a crown of thorns atop his red hat.

Ah, cultural misunderstandings, don't you just luv 'em!!!
And as Eid el Kabir is on the 21st this year, I am still waiting to see a tableau of Father Christmas sacrificing a sheep ....haven't seen it yet, but I am sure there is at least one in this town.
- Leuan (Morocco)

Jakartass commented somewhat briefer than this:

You mean that you get the chance of listening to Slade's - Merry Xmas Everybody, Bing & Bowie's Little Drummer Boy (watch it here) and Wizzard's - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday ?

You're lucky! Here in Jakarta, where 90% of the population is Muslim, our major (French-owned) hypermarkets have been bemusing shoppers since the beginning of November with versions of Xmas songs by Kenny G. or his clone.

There’s no snow in Indonesia, and that’s got nothing to do with global warming, so where do Jingling Bells, Santa and his reindeer fit in? If Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Prancer, Comet, Cupid, Dunder, Blitzen and Rudolph were relatively indigenous animals, would they get slaughtered on the streets this Thursday - Hari Raya Idul Adha (the Day of Sacrifice), in a way that is suitably halal of course, along with the goats, cows and sheep?

TV programmes also have local singers, popular with mums and dads, churning out similar Xmas muzak in almost acceptable English. Shades of the Black & White Minstrel Show (a once popular UK TV show), given that it's so clichéd.

Les Want, Minstrel 1966-78
"None of us ever gave a thought to racism"

So, how do Muslims celebrate Christmas? Please leave a comment below or email me.

(If they're in California they can book restaurant get-togethers through this website.)


11:00 am |
Sunday, December 16, 2007
  Boos to U ...
... S of A

Along with the loud boos from delegates and observers, the castigatory comments of former US Vice President and recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore, and the fine words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, SBY finally coerced the administration of the Good Ol' U.S.of A to fall into line with the rest of the world.

Yep, 180 nations have finally agreed to support the road map towards a consensus on eventually getting their acts together to perhaps do something about the world's rapidly deteriorating environment.

The "Bali Roadmap" for new climate negotiations leads to one address and one date: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and Jan. 20, 2009.

That's when a new occupant of the White House will be sworn into office, and when a fresh U.S. team, with what many expect to be a new attitude, will take up the negotiating mandate issued here.

2009 is when the current round of negotiations is scheduled to end so that a new deal on emissions reduction can come into force upon the expiry of the Kyoto Protocol in 2013. So that's five more years of grandstanding in more five star accommodation before anything substantial is agreed to.

Judging by his statement, which helped push the US delegation into joining the consensus, SBY is a world statesman:

Future generations will remember whether we rose to the occasion and seized the opportunity before us or let it slip through our fingers. Too much is at stake. It is time to think outside the box.

Fine words indeed, so it's going to be interesting to observe developments between now and the next meeting. Deeds not words are called for and in the USA, a number of states have taken unilateral action and introduced legal measures aimed at decreasing their 'carbon footprint'.

From California to New England, U.S. state governments are enacting their own mandatory caps on carbon dioxide and other industrial and transportation gases blamed for global warming. Scores of U.S. cities have adopted Kyoto-style targets, trimming emissions via "green" building codes, conversion of municipal fleets to hybrid vehicles, energy-saving lighting and other measures.

I wonder what initiatives SBY will enforce here in Indonesia. He's already told provincial governors to create cycle lanes. It's a start but somewhat inconsequential.

If I were President .......

I would start with a moratorium on the logging of primary forest and the further draining of peatlands. Every logging contract must be audited and any and all violators must face the full might of the law.

I would also encourage a fundamental change in the lifestyles of those who can afford shopping mall prices. Let us not forget that half the population do not have such a purchasing power and are already 'making do'. So can the rest of us.

There is no need to spend a billion dollars on a nuclear power station if we all set the minimum temperature of our air conditioners a couple of degrees higher and we remembered to switch off those electrical appliances not in use.

Use the funds allocated for such mega-projects to build public transport systems which will be both convenient and comfortable enough to encourage private motorists and motorcyclists to give up their mode of transport, which we must remember they chose in the absence of public transport.

The fuel subsidy saved can be further invested in the research and development of renewable energy sources ... and so it goes

There is much that can be done if we don't allow ourselves to be boxed in with our preconceptions.

Or greed.


5:30 pm |
Saturday, December 15, 2007
  SBY is patriotic
..... and his Minister of Tourism continues to look foolish

I'm fairly certain that SBY will be fairly pleased with the organisation of everything in Bali where he has been busy for the past week; the lack of security problems, the positive reasonableness projected by his government team and, no doubt, the news that he and Jusuf Kalla, his current Vice President, are shoe-ins for the next Presidential election are all very nice for him.

I'm not privy to the means of transport he is going to use to get back home. It will probably be an air force plane, but that's not so important ~ assuming it arrives safely. However, I am curious to know whether he'll fly Garuda.

You see, it has emerged this week that he has postponed a planned Presidential visit to Europe until such time as the European Union rescinds its ban on Indonesian airlines entering European airspace. SBY prefers to fly Garuda; it's probably the cuisine but that's irrelevant.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's spokesman, Dino Patti Djalal, said, "The president wants to make sure that... before he makes the trip to Europe that the airline ban is lifted. That's politically appropriate and psychologically appropriate too.

"A date was supposed to be set (some time in early 2008) but his instructions were: 'Let's not set a date before the airline ban is lifted,'" he said. "He will go there when the airline ban is lifted -- it is a matter of principle for him."

A Garuda Smile
The European Commission announced last month that it had kept Indonesian airlines on its list of banned carriers after a review in early November. The next technical meeting that could see the Indonesian ban lifted is expected in January or February.

Next year has been declared Visit Indonesia Year. Many, including me, have commented that this is a rush job and not very well organised, with a logo that is somewhat impenetrable in its symbolism.

This makes it all the more ridiculous to see a photograph in today's Jakarta Post, unfortunately seemingly not online, of Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik, accompanied by Garuda Indonesia president director Emirsyah Satar, waving to the public after the unveiling of a "Visit Indonesia Year 2008" logo on a Garuda Airbus 330 at Soekarno-Hatta Airport on Friday.

Now that's sure to go down well with the technocrats in Europe. And all those potential tourists who are going to have to use other airlines to get here.


4:30 pm |
Friday, December 14, 2007
  On the surface ....

are all round good eggs.

After all, Abdurizal Bakrie is currently SBY's Minister of Welfare.

AB with extended family
However, Aburizal Bakrie and his family are the tops having seen their net worth blow out to $5.4 billion this year, up from a mere $1.2 billion in 2006 when they were sixth on Forbes Asia's Indonesia rich list.

There may be questions about the accuracy of these figures, but apparently most of their wealth came from surging stock prices in Bakrie Group's largest holding, coal producer Bumi Resources - "Asia's Fastest and the World's Fastest Growing Coal Company".

One shouldn't begrudge them their good fortune, a mere vagary of the world's stock exchanges. They say their hearts are in the right places.

But on the surface things don't actually look that good.

A Bakrie coal mine
The Bakrie mud volcano
My last post was about perceptions of pornography. I don't believe it's to do with images of naked ladies or men. What is truly obscene is the notion that one family should through negligence deprive some 5,000 families of their homes and livelihoods, should then refuse to pay out the compensation which the President of the country has ordered should be paid, and continue to garner material wealth from the resources of the country they purport to serve.

Waiting for the Minister of Welfare

All right for some, innit.


3:30 pm |
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
  Is This Pornography?

Rude Buddha
A sculpture of Buddha with a banana and two eggs strategically placed was happily on display at the Royal Academy of Arts (in London) this summer, but when it was moved to the sculptors’ home city of Norfolk it raised hackles amongst the local police force’s hate crime unit. DC Dan Cocks ordered it to be removed from the gallery. The artist said he aimed to show that in a global village everyone can take offence at something.

Detective Constable Dan Cocks?!? He's either a right schmuck or over-sensitive, having suffered from too many ribald comments in the school playground. In which case, with a name like that it's little wonder he took offence.

And if you don't know what I mean, try bludgin' koala basher if you're Australian and baguette magique if you're French. Oh, and kontol in bahasa Indonesia.

Apart from its obvious vulgarity which some may consider blasphemous, my reason for showing the picture is that according to noted poet, Leon Agusta, in yesterday's Jakarta Post, parliament is trying to sneak through a revised version of last year's Pornography Bill, in a renamed guise - the Anti-Pornography Bill.

According to this new bill, "Pornography is any man-made work that includes sexual materials in the form of drawings, sketches, illustrations, photographs, text, sound, moving pictures, animation, cartoons, poetry, conversation, or any other form of communicative messages; it also may be shown through the media in front of the public; it can arouse lust and lead to the violation of normative values within society; and it can also cause the development of pornographic acts within society".

This is, of course, yet another scenario originally demonstrated by Emperor Nero who reputedly fiddled whilst Rome burned. There are a hell of a lot of more important issues which the House of (self-appointed) Representatives could and should be discussing, matters of education, the environment, employment, economy - none of which are particularly easy, but all are vital.

Fiddling with the concept of diversity (and their expenses?) is therefore outrageous in these times. The artist is right: in a global village everyone can take offence at something.

Well, I take offence at folk who try to impose their own convoluted and perverted modes of living on others. The politicians and their backers behind this bill are typical examples.

In the English vernacular, those who have prioritised this bill and "sent on the bill to the government executives for further study without the required approval of a plenary session " are just a bunch of wankers.


8:30 am |
Monday, December 10, 2007
  Pelf is a word ..........

......... for a Jakartass hero, or in her case, a heroine.

She writes
that she is organizing a group-writing project at The Giving Hands in January 2008 and the theme is Save the Ocean.

Have you always been awed by the beauty of our oceans? Have you always loved the ocean when you were small? Do you have a lot of fond memories of the ocean while growing up? Are you always upset whenever you see people polluting our beautiful oceans?

I've often thought that we bloggers could be a power for the good, yet we rarely unite around the pressing issues of our times. No-one has offered consistent support for Green Indonesia, not even WALHI when I offered them writing rights.

There will be a social get-together of Jakarta bloggers next week ~ email me for place, time and venue ~ but I doubt that we'll do more than have a social pre-Xmas, quaff a few ales, and go our separate ways until the next time. Not that I'm grumbling, but I do miss the activism of my younger days, the campaigning for what we believed in through the pooling of our skills and resources.

So maybe Pelf is offering that. I hope so and look forward to reading the 31 essays which will presumably be published one per day. If you love the oceans and you want to write something about how we should all look after them, then have a look at Pelf's list and sign up.

I've offered to write about diving responsibly which will, I suppose, be published on January 2nd when most folk will be recovering from Hogmanay rather than staggering in to their offices and logging on.

But no matter, I'm fired up for this, even though my experience of strapping on tanks, weights and mask is limited to maybe two minutes.

Or was it one?


8:00 pm |
Sunday, December 09, 2007
  Why didn't I say this?

Fellow Brit and long resident in Jakarta, Simon Pitchforth has a regular column in the Sunday Post called Metro Mad, which is the name of his blog where he archives his articles.

Today's column has the following gem about the Climate Change Summit.

Bali is far too pleasant a place in which to be chewing over prophesies of impending global doom.

Our great leaders are no doubt experiencing palm fringed paddy fields, colourful batik shirts, sunbathing on the beach and vodka martinis. Such classic Balinese holiday motifs may unfortunately serve to neutralise the urgency of the environmental message that the conference purports to be exploring.

(TV news shows empty auditoriums, albeit with full stages. Where are the supposed 10,000 delegates?)

Indonesia is in the front line of the environmental war, what with its rapidly vanishing forests and population pressures and this should be reflected in the choice of Jakarta as a location for a future environmental summit.

(Four more are supposed to be held before the Kyoto Agreement is superseded.)

If we could get that unctuous, salad dodging Nobel laureate Al Gore on a bicycle wobbling down Sudirman, or get Arnie Swartzenegger squashed into a bajaj or Metro Mini sucking down exhaust fumes with his knees around his buzz cut, then perhaps a greater sense of urgency would be impressed upon the delegates.

Nice one, Simon.

By the way, when was the last time that Jakarta's Governor or any member of the government or House of Representatives braved the streets of Jakarta without a police motor cycle escort?


2:00 pm |
Friday, December 07, 2007
  Freecycled Emails

First time
Posted by: "
Thu Dec 6, 2007 12:34 am (PST)

OK this is my first try. Well I've got ½ a PC - It's the tower containing mother board, processor (900mhz),soundcard, old cd rom. BUT No hard drive or monitor.
Er.. what happens now then?

You get a reply, Simon.

Ikutan yah
Posted by: "Vicky Picker"
Thu Dec 6, 2007 12:34 am (PST)

Halo bos kenalkan Indra, Bogor
Pgn ikutan 3R 3R an....
Saya orang LSM lingkungan - RMI Kampung Pendidikan Lingkungan di Cimande Bogor yang suka ma barang bekas... hehehe...

Salam kenal,

Basically, this means that if you've got stuff you don't want but which someone may have a use for - that's someone like Indra, Simon, then join and advertise in the Yahoo group, Freecycle-Jakarta.

I've belonged for a couple of years but rarely, if ever, seen anything I'm interested in, probably because I'm really quite boring, and I've never advertised. However, I do try and ensure that our second-hand clothes get a home ~ generally in burnt down or flooded out kampungs.

Here are two more recent ads and a request to any participants in the Bali shindig: Our Kid would like a laptop computer so if you've got one spare, you know what to do.

u have a doll?

Posted by: "ayu tiara"
Wed Nov 22, 2006 6:30 am (PST)

u have a doll?
new or second..i want it..
if u have plizz send me..
my address is :
Jln. Angkasa
Gg. Motorpool
RT.013/006 No.27
Jakarta Pusat 10610

thanks be 4...


WANTED: needed Golden retriver
Posted by: "kaiya_madame"
Sun Sep 16, 2007 1:58 am (PST)

Bila ada yang ingin memberikan binatang piaran nya, Anjing jenis Golden retriver. kira2 berumur 2-3 bulan.
Please hubungi email saya.
Tx a bunch B 4

Anything which promotes recycling is worthy of support, even in a city where scavengers can be seen everywhere everyday because there's no Keep Jakarta Tidy campaign.


7:00 pm |
Thursday, December 06, 2007
  Jakartass & Canute v Climate Change

The Guardian has asked: "What single breakthrough would best advance the fight against climate change?

Wrong question.

How about "What single individual action would best advance the fight against climate change?" and each single individual can ask "What single action can I do in the fight against climate change?"

We can't shut down factories, demolish shopping malls or, as my old mate King Canute discovered, hold back the tides. However, we can all do our bit to reduce Jakarta's carbon footprint and mine is that old favourite - pontificate.

The following are a few suggestions, specific to Jakarta, which, if the powers-that-be care to think about them, could go a long way to making our lives much more pleasant. All it should take is a willingness to adjust lifestyles.

I venture to guess that 90% of the motorists are first generation. In other words, their parents didn't have personal transport so current drivers do not have an 'inherited' road sense and hence the lack of discipline which is an enormous contributory factor to the chaos on the streets.

* Leave the car at home.
- set up a registered car pool and campaign to be entitled to subsidised fuel.
- cars entering city limits - the further afield the better - should pay a hefty congestion charge.
(This is in addition to the non-subsidised market price for fuel which the Government has just agreed to.)
- walk
- cycle
- demand to use public transport.
Yeah, yeah, I know this is wishful thinking. Or is it? Isn't it time for the citizenry to demand some basic rights?

The freedom to walk is surely one of those. Demanding public transport is another. And consider whether public transport should be provided by private companies.

If enough people refuse to commute by car or motorcycle, it would cause such chaos to Jakarta's business community that there is a chance that this will force City Hall to:
- provide footpaths, sidewalks, pavements everywhere - if necessary at the expense of a traffic lane.
- build cycle lanes - if necessary at the expense of a traffic lane.
- provide better railway services.
- ban inter-city trucks from the inner city during rush hours. (This was a traffic law during the latter years of the Suharto era.)

* Switch off air conditioners
Air conditioning is also relatively modern. Setting thermostats to 16ºC is ridiculous and does nothing to improve productivity - colder blood is slower blood.
- use fans instead.
- design buildings to increase ventilation.
- surround buildings with gardens, albeit an array of potted plants
- design new buildings with 'ventilation shields' to deflect direct sunlight and create a cooling external airflow.

*Introduce compulsory composting
- and community recycling of plastic, paper and glass.
- refuse to accept plastic bags in supermarkets and other stores.
Most neighbourhoods have collection sites for their rubbish, from where it is taken by municipal trucks to rapidly filling landsites.

There's money in muck!

There's money in ideas too, so please feel free to add suggestions.

Maybe someone in Bali is reading this.


5:30 pm |
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
  More Links

Patung, of Indonesia Matters, has compiled a list of the Top 100 Indonesian Blogs which, he says, is "just a mechanical way of looking at things", so I'm not overly offended that Jakartass is (only) ranked no.22.

When it comes to the Top English Language Blogs In Indonesia, Jakartass is 8th and Green Indonesia, my other blog which recycles Jakartass posts on environmental issues, creeps in at 86 - out of 87.

What may please Unspun (30/10), who's big on so-called 'bridge-blogging', is that 11 of the top twenty are authored by Indonesians.

And here are a couple of blogs I've recently stumbled across which don't feature in either list but are worthy of your consideration.

Society of Spectacle is by an Indonesian student who's recently moved to Berlin and is a regular reader of this site and several others in the neighbourhood.

Jakarta - Urbanblog is new, with a focus, naturally, on Jakarta by Mr. T. Belfield who is an urban studies student here. That should keep him busy for the foreseeable future..

There's a similar blog - Indonesia's Urban Studies - by Deden Rukmana, Assistant Professor of Urban Studies at Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia, USA. He rarely updates unfortunately, but then maybe he also focuses his professional eye on Savannah.

And here is a large family of blogs on various topics. The majority of them are somewhat kilobytes heavy, but if you're not registered to access the Jakarta Post, then you might find that elusive article within.

Cempaka Indonesia, the 'home page', has a number of separate news aggregators - all related to Indonesia.
Cempaka Putih - IT and stuff
Cempaka Green - Environment issues
Cempaka Nature - Flora and fauna
Cempaka Projects - Construction, Oil, Gas, etc.
Cempaka Marine & Fisheries - Self-explanatory
Cempaka Land, Air and Water - ditto
CempakaTourism and Culture - ditto
Cempaka Business and Economy - ditto

That should keep you busy, I hope, whilst I get down to my annual snail mail missives for the folk 'back home' who have yet to get into this InterWeb thingy. They still expect pen-to-paper efforts, which means no cut and paste Naked Lunch streams of consciousness, or e-Xmas cards for them.

Ho, ho, ho ....... hum.


4:00 pm |
Sunday, December 02, 2007
  Green Gleanings - December 07

The eyes of the world will be focussed on Bali for the Global Warming and Climate Change Conference hosted by Indonesia and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, joint Nobel Peace Prize winner from 3 - 14 December.

You can get all the news on the conference, its speeches, declarations and reports without reading this blog, so I'll continue to Think Globally but Write Locally. It's worth bearing in mind that Indonesia is a key player in both causing and easing global warming. Besides Bali, as you all know, isn't Indonesia.

The November issue of the Down To Earth Newsletter focuses on Papua and its deforestation.

Large areas of Papua's rich and diverse forests are being targeted by Indonesian and overseas investors for conversion into oil palm plantations. At the same time, discussions are in progress to reserve large areas of Papua's forest to generate carbon credits for trade on international markets.

Investors include Koreans, Chinese, Singaporeans and Malaysians, as well as their Indonesian partners such as Sinar Mas. All of them have the backing of the Indonesian military.

The fact that the military and police are at hand to protect the company's interests is in itself a reminder of Papua's long record of human rights atrocities committed by the armed forces, and the history of impunity. The military presence is also more entrenched. With the creation of more districts in Papua, more district military and police command posts have been established, ensuring a tighter military mesh.

This puts further pressure on local natural resources, since a large part of the military budget is made up from external businesses. Personnel often turn to resource-based projects to generate income - either legally or illegally - but both in ways that push aside the interests of local people.

Still in Papua, logging damage has been revealed by secret filming.

Paul Redman, who has worked on projects for the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in Indonesia for five years, said: "These are the voices of local people, the voices of the forest - explaining the issues that directly affect them and their lives. They are films made by Papuans, about Papua - they are the real thing. They were researched, written and filmed by them."

Riau in Sumatra has already been featured in Green Indonesia, but Down To Earth also focusses on developments in Aceh. Download the newsletter: it is well-researched with loads of footnotes.

Indonesia's women will plant 10 million trees to help make up for the massive deforestation all over Indonesia. SBY, Indonesia's President, was due to plant the first tree yesterday prior to popping off to Bali to check the arrangements for the expected 10,000 delegates, NGOs, journalists, jamu sellers ......

According to Mrs. SBY, tree planting is a hobby of women and none of them cut trees.

Dewi Motik, chairman of the tree planting organizing committee said that the planting of 10 million trees was also expected to be put in the book of records, However, as "Indonesia needs to plant around two billion trees in the next five years, the 10 million trees that we will plant are a very small number."

The country's hall of mirrors might be a more appropriate place. It's getting rather full of cock-eyed policies.

WHO can whistle for bird flu samples

The health minister, Siti Fadilah Supari, is apparently worried that any treatment developed abroad could become a lucrative asset for its developer. Rather than allowing this to happen, samples found here won't be sent abroad for analysis and development of antidotes.

Wealth before health? Dog in a manger?

On The Right Tracks?

There have been a couple of initiatives announced recently which are worth praising, if not yet wholeheartedly.

On Friday a new inner city train service was launched , or rather resuscitated as it ran until 1978 when it was shut down due to a lack of passengers.

The air-conditioned cars, which run on the Ciliwung Blue Line and can carry up to 400 passengers per trip from Manggarai, South Jakarta, are expected to encourage commuters to leave their automobiles at home.

State-owned railway company PT Kareta Api has prepared 32 cars for the new line, but currently only four are in use due to a lack of drivers.

Despite its huge capacity, the train failed to attract passengers on its first day of operation due to a lack of promotion. In the morning only 12 people bought tickets.

That sounds like a ready made excuse to shut the service down again.

The Post also reported that transportation company PT Zebra Nusataran and state-owned railway operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) have agreed to build a railway connecting the Jababeka industrial estate in Cikareng, West Java, with Tanjung Priok Port in North Jakarta.

Hopefully, when operational, that will substantially reduce the number of trucks on the inner-city toll roads responsible for most of the traffic jams.


Did you know that the 6m servers in America's data centres, when factoring in the energy needed to run and cool them, consume more energy than all the US's TV sets (over 300m).

This blog comes to you from the Good 'Ol USA. So perhaps we should praise Google's initiative to to develop and help stimulate the creation of renewable energy technologies that are cheaper than coal-generated power.

The effort is aimed at reducing Google’s own mounting energy costs to run its vast data centers, while also fighting climate change and helping to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.

And that surely is a true definition of Corporate Social Responsibility.

(This is a regular column for Green Indonesia, where I am archiving my specifically 'green' writings. Cempaka-Nature carries many more posts, generally lifted straight from the Jakarta Post and elsewhere. It's a good source, but is bandwidth heavy - currently 657kbs for one page, which is an over-consumption of server time.)


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