Wednesday, July 30, 2008
  Indonesia: Cultural and historical baggage
----by David Jardine

It's not just misogyny. Women academics often have to overcome cultural difficulties and prejudice engrained by centuries of experience and tradition that favour their male colleagues. Indonesia is a case in point: any historical assessment of its educational development for women must take into account two broad things - the record of Dutch colonialism and the often turbulent record of the post-independence period.

If we begin with the former we find that in 1930, the colonial authorities published statistics showing only 6.4% of 'natives' could read and write, and more of these were men than women. This figure probably only counted people literate in the Roman alphabet and any literacy in Arabic for religious purposes or in the Pali script of the Javanese was probably discounted.

Whatever, the figure was truly dismal and would not have improved much, if at all, in the 15 years between its publication and the Indonesian Proklamasi of Independence, given that time included the Great Depression and the Japanese Occupation.

Following former President Sukarno's historic proclamation of independence on August 17 1945, there came four years and four months of bitter struggle with the Dutch, supported by the British. This was hardly an auspicious time for the new nation to build an education system of its own.

Basic literacy was the first target but that of course would have to wait on the training of teachers. The country's founding fathers, however, included a few of the tiny handful of Indonesians who had enjoyed higher education at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and in December 1949, weeks before the final Dutch withdrawal, Indonesia got its first university, Gajah Mada in the Central Java city of Jogjakarta.

In these circumstances, it would be quite startling to find more than a very few Indonesian women going to university and the first intake was predominantly male. What few who had received a good formal education, Dutch-style, included the national heroine and activist Raden Ayu Kartini who successive governments have iconised as a symbol of female emancipation, a position disputed somewhat by some Indonesian feminists. The latter include Gadis Arriva, who, as a philosophy professor at the University of Indonesia, remains one of the few highly placed female academics in the country.

Sukarno's leadership during the 1950s was undoubtedly popular with large segments of the Indonesian people but was erratic. Nonetheless, the state university expanded somewhat in these years with the creation of campuses outside Java as well as inside. Again, the impression is that women were in a minority in the student intake.

Sukarno was displaced in 1966 in the aftermath of the anti-leftist bloodbath that brought General Suharto to power with Western support. Despite this, there was a major expansion of both basic education infrastructure and the higher education system during the 32-year Suharto New Order regime from which large numbers of female students undoubtedly benefited.

At the same time basic literacy figures soared and showed very little disparity between boys and girls. Since the financial crisis of 1998 precipitating the student-led movement that brought Suharto down, however, Indonesia's school drop-out rate has climbed rather dramatically, with both genders affected but with poorer children doing worse than their richer classmates.

The paradox of the Suharto years is that along with the expansion of both state and private universities went a regime of quietism on the country's campuses. Towards the end of the regime this was bound to give way and the boisterous student movement that took to the street was far from universally male. Female college students, though, were also commonly in the way of the water cannon and baton charges.

Current constraints on female progress in education either as students or as academics include religious objections to female leadership. The same applies across the spectrum of public leadership. Although Indonesia has recently had one woman president, Sukarno's daughter Megawati, she appears untypical if not atypical. Only a small number of local governments are female-led.

The current Cabinet includes two influential women, Sri Mulyani as Finance Minister and Mari Pangestu as Trade Minister.

Clearly, in a country with a vast and overwhelming Muslim majority, such religious objections as are expressed are most likely to be Islamic. It is of note that overwhelmingly Hindu Bali is one of Megawati's political power bases.

A recent survey by the current affairs weekly Tempo found that women graduates were turning up in previously all-male fields of employment, including engineering in the oil industry and internet technology. This would seem to indicate that certain gender biases have begun to break down. Equally, it is of note that the women's studies programme at the University of Indonesia was established by a male rector.

Previously published by University World News
DJ tells that he has "since discovered several women professors in the better unis."


10:00 am |
Monday, July 28, 2008
  Thanks for the thanks

Indonesians seem to have trouble in providing feedback. For example, applying for jobs is time consuming, as is sifting through the applications. Is it asking too much for potential employers to firstly acknowledge the receipt of curriculum vitae and then to send a polite 'sorry, not this time' note to the unrequired applicants?

Another example is an outline proposal I made - on request - to an organisation which needs to be 'bailed out' from a disaster it's got itself embroiled in. I sought prior feedback from fellow 'experts' in the field and all agreed that my particular angle could well work, although it would need a very thorough feasibility study followed by an exhaustive business plan. This was implicit in my outline.

Do I even get an acknowledgement that my emailed missive has been received?

Do I f**k!

What is this pervasive culture of not saying 'no'. If the refusal is justified and given politely, then no offence is caused or rancour provoked. Not to say 'no' or to give relevant negative information is crass brown-nosing, and essentially corrupt behaviour.

It is rewarding, therefore, to have received two emails following appeals I've published.

The first one was from Fresh Air Fund who provide country holidays for city (New York) kids. I wrote about my own experiences doing something similar in London and published their appeal here.

From: Sara Wilson
To: undisclosed-recipients
Sent: Monday, July 28, 2008 5:23 AM
Subject: Fresh Air Fund - Thank You

Hi everyone,

I wanted to write you once more to express our gratitude here at the Fresh Air Fund. With all of your posts and help, we have had a tremendous amount of interest in hosting the 200 children this summer and many more interested in hosting next summer as well. I've put together this "thank you" blog with links to all of the posts we've collected.

Again, thank you so much for all of your help.


Incidentally, Sara says that they're still looking for host families, so you Americans with space in your country pied á terre, do get in touch with her.

This weekend I let Adam Rogers know that I'd posted his appeal for Osamas, which has been picked up by, among others, Friskodude.

It didn't take Adam long to reply.

From: Adam Rogers
To: Jakartass
Sent: Monday, July 28, 2008 3:31 PM
Subject: Re: Links for Osama Loves

That's Magic!

Thanks so much for such a great write-up of the project, I'll be sure to let you know how it goes!

We did a preliminary search before we came to Indonesia and have been assured that there are enough Osama's to warrant the trip. The guys landed today so we'll be able to see pretty soon if they have any luck!

Thanks again,


So there we go. With that kind of feedback, I'm more than happy to co-operate in future appeals.

Indonesian yayasans, take note.


7:00 pm |
Sunday, July 27, 2008
  I've Got New Shoes

They're Spotec, comfortable, my size and Made by Korean Tech., presumably here in Indonesia. Obviously I need to know the proper way to look after them so, like any literate person, I read the tag and get the following:


1. This can be useful for sports activity and/or leisure purpose.
Just what I want them for ~ casual, that's me.
And I only use one leg at a time: left, right, left right.

2. Please review a tagged notice on this product for direction and washing.
Erm, do they mean this tag that I'm quoting from?

1. All shoes should be cleaned and dried.
No problem there.

2. Rub shoes gently with a damp cloth using inchworm water and mild soap.
How do you know it's an inchworm? By measuring it with a tapeworm?

3. Do not use bleach.
They're black shoes so I wouldn't think of doing that.

4. Do not force dry i.e. raddy either, tumble dry, hair dry and other soap of direct heat.
I know I shouldn't really worry about not understanding. After all, as their blurb tells me:
All Spotec products are reflected with the accumulated experiences together with world famous sports players for a long time and the high technology.
Presumably, although the "tagged notice" uses English, the shoes aren't meant for those countries where English is a major language. So are the "world famous sports players" sumo wrestlers and Ethiopian marathon runners?

More About Worms
And probably a good yardage more than you really want to know, but this is a great website.

In the beginning was the worm, and the worm was with Sydney Brenner, in a back room of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge; and Sydney looked upon the worm, and saw that it was good. Jim Watson was around too, and looked upon the worm, but Watson comprehended it not. "This is twenty years ahead of its time", he said.

Did you know that a cockroach has three parasitic worms in its rectum?

The Worm Woman
was the subject of a post I wrote four years ago. Although Mary Appelhof died on May 4th 2005, her work on worms, a science known as vermicomposting, continues.

Dust to dust, ashes to ashes - how else but the humble worm?

The All-Powerful God ....
.... is the patron of the e-Bible (.pdf) and apparently made cockroaches and worms, as well as us.

You've no doubt heard of Jesus turning water into wine, but apparently with a neat little misspelling, and "by God's mercy", he can also manipulate hyperspace.

If you've got a Blogger blog, then misspell your URL in the address bar of your Firefox browser thus: http://jakartass.blogpsot.com/ . Then click 'go' and ......

I didn't bother reading as I'm already converted.*

Gene Netto, however, was surprisingly amused.
*To atheism.


8:00 am |
Saturday, July 26, 2008
  'Osama Loves'

I do get a number of requests to publicise or otherwise promote products, services and causes. Many don't fit into the Jakartass remit, mainly because as a Brit abroad I generally write about life as I see it here in Indonesia.

However, the following appeal appeals to me because it is a request to Indonesian Muslims to reach out to the wider world of (mis) understanding in Britain.

Adam Rogers wrote to me as follows:

I found your blog and wondered if you might be interested in writing about or mission to find 500 Osamas in 50 days? We are half way through the mission and seriously lacking Osamas! We will be coming to Indonesia next week so it would be really helpfull if you could mention our project on Jakartass.

The project is for (British TV) Channel 4 who have recruited London doctor Farrah Jarral and filmmaker Masood Khan for a mission called 'Osama Loves' to discover the sunnier side of Islam. Farrah and Masood aim to meet 500 Osamas right across the Islamic world in just 50 days, asking each one; "What do you love?"

"I just want to prove that not all Muslims are extremist" said Jarral, a doctor at St Mary's Hospital.

Three years ago Farrah had a crisis in her identity. During her medical training she was called to assist with the aftermath of 7/7, the London bombings on July 7th 2005. For the first time in her medical career Farrah was "inconsolable" - face to face with the reality of terrorism and utterly devastated by the fact that some of her fellow British Muslims could set out to kill other Britons.

The fact that bomber Mohammed Sidique Khan, came from the same Pakistani background as her own immediate family made the attacks even harder to deal with. "I felt betrayed by the 7/7 bombers. When one of them referred to 'my people' [a reference to other Muslims] in their suicide video it made me think about who my people were" said Jarral.

"I want to change the way British people look at Islam." said Khan. "Before 9/11, the only Osama I knew was my 7-year-old cousin in Pakistan. On that terrible day, another Osama (bin Laden) came into my life. I just can't seem to get rid of him. I'm going on a journey to discover more about the name that completely changed my world" he added.

"Osama" and "Loves" are not two words you often hear together, or expect to. By going on this incredible journey, Farrah and Masood want to demonstrate to the UK the "warmth, humour and diversity" of the Islamic world, and that it's not a homogenous culture; to explore what Islamic culture and belief really means to them; and to provide insight into the day-to-day realities of Muslim communities, their concerns and hopes, their perspectives and loves.

"By meeting 500 people who share nothing but their first name, I want to show that, whatever the cultural or social background, we all love much the same things" said Jarral.

The public can follow Farrah and Masood's mission and they are relying on (the public) to get
involved. If you know where they should go to find the next Osama, where they should stay [or how to get the most out of their journey], let them know by visiting www.osamaloves.com.

It is important to note that many terrorist atrocities have been blamed on Osama bin Laden, 'sponsor' of the attacks on the New York Trade Center towers, who remains in the top ten of public enemies. However, according to the official inquiry into the London bombings, they "were a modest, simple affair by four seemingly normal men using the internet" with "nothing to support the theory that an al-Qaeda fixer, presumed to be from Pakistan, was instrumental in planning the attacks."

That said, in order to overcome the widespread perception that Islam is a religion rooted in violence, I'm asking fellow bloggers in the Indonesian blogosphere to link to this post and help recruit those Osamas who greatly outnumber the evil nihilistic jihadists.


10:00 am |
Friday, July 25, 2008
  Are Cars Electric?

It was among the fastest, most efficient production cars ever built. It ran on electricity, produced no emissions and catapulted American automotive technology to the forefront of 'green transport'.

It was designed and built by General Motors and they killed it. Why?

How about the oil companies which are grinning smugly at their record profits?

High oil prices are to big oil company profits what steroids are to home run records - number inflators. It costs oil companies less than $10 per barrel to extract and ship a barrel of oil. The “finding” costs to explore and develop an oil field range from $5 per barrel in the Middle East to $67 per barrel off of the U.S. coast. These are production costs. So when the market price jumps due to speculators, political unrest, supply disruption, or other similar events, it is a windfall for the oil company.

In 2007, ExxonMobil smashed the record for highest profits ever made by a public U.S. company by posting a net profit of $40.6 billion.

(To put these figures in perspective, Exxon’s $40.6 billion profit in 2007 is roughly equal to receiving $30 for every person in China and Rp.17 million for every Indonesian resident.)

Shell also had a record breaking year with $31.3 billion, 23% higher than in 2006.
Chevron matched its prediction of positive gains with $18.7 billion profit.
ConocoPhillips made $11.9 billion.

Mat Solo
is a Malaysian driller/blogger in Indonesia waters.

To be frightfully honest, there’s no better time to be in the oil patch. For eight years I never saw a salary increase. This year (2007) alone we had two salary adjustments. This is to ensure loyalty. In my line of work I could easily don some competitor’s coveralls at a moments notice. I see myself no different than being a hooker; we sell our bodies and soul to the highest bidder.

A non-oilfield friend once suggested that drilling professionals are like football players. Although flattering, I’m not about to kid myself. To be a football star you need skills. As drilling guys, we just know how to make holes. Even you can do it. I mean, come on - how much skill do you need to wield a
cangkol (back hoe) to dig a hole in your backyard? The mechanics are the same only the scale differs.

With the cost of motoring rising inexorably, car bound communities are facing critical choices: commute by public transport, car pool, change jobs to one closer to home (or move closer to the city), bike or buy a 'greener' car.

Inevitably car manufacturers such as General Motors in the States, land of gas guzzlers, are seeing a massive drop in sales. I have absolutely no sympathy for their woes.

The company is implementing sweeping cuts from the factory floor to the boardroom as it scrambles to bolster its cash position by $15bn to cope with plummeting sales of vehicles.

The Detroit-based manufacturer today announced that it is reducing its white-collar payroll costs by 20% through a two-year pay freeze and voluntary redundancies.

In a radical move which risks the wrath of unions, GM is scrapping healthcare cover for all its retired workers and for their families from the beginning of next year.

It is no consolation to their pensioners that shareholders and directors won't be receiving their usual 'compensation' next year.

When the electric car was killed off, it was suggested that so-called hybrid cars were the future. These could be dual powered, say hydrogen-gasoline. The oil companies having killed off purely electric cars plumped for hydrogen, ignoring the fact that the electricity used to produce hydrogen to be turned into a power source could in fact be the direct power source in itself.

What's more, they are not keen on investing tens of billions of dollars building a hydrogen fueling infrastructure, which at best will take away business from their tremendously profitable gasoline sales, and at worst will be a complete business loss, assuming, as now seems likely, that hydrogen cars never catch on.

Although the automotive industry continues to cling to old values, whilst flaunting their environmental consciousness, the electric car industry is growing. This page suggests that under pressure from rising fuel prices, towns across the United States are passing bylaws to permit the use of golf carts on their streets as an alternative to cars.

It also gives details of a number of other models already available, such as the Electric Lightning GT with a top speed of 130mph (208kph), a range of 200 miles (320 kilometres) and a price of £120,000 (c.$240,000). Or there's the G-Wiz with a top speed of 50mph (80kph), a range of 48 miles (77 kilometres) and a price of £7,500 (c.$15,000).

Then there's the VentureOne All-electric Vehicle whose propulsion system has two in-wheel 20 kW electric motors, and a 17 kWh Li-Ion battery pack. The system is able to return energy lost due to braking to the battery and can go over 100mph (180kph).

Given that the majority of car journeys are only about 30 miles, the latter looks suitable for most needs. If not most people.

Here in Indonesia, I'm surprised, but pleased, that Industry Minister Fahmi Idris has indicated that electric cars have a future here, although the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) is the immediate priority in order to reduce emissions.

"Developing cars with CNG fuel is faster as we have plenty of fuel while technically it is easier."

"Ideally, public transportation should also use CNG as is done in many countries like India," Fahmi said. "We can also use electric cars, however, the technology is more complicated." he said.

"It also needs a stable electric supply."


Until then, there is this alternative spotted by Son No.1 in Sumbawa.

One Horsepower


8:00 am |
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
  Asshole Eaten By Stoned Croc

Jakartass is fermented with highly complex thought processes and extensive research. What follows is, therefore, a bit of an aberration in that I can't verify some of it. But no matter.

You see, I came across a short news item in the Jakarta Post, one they thoughtlessly don't seem to have posted on line, about a young man who went down to the river's edge near his kampung to defecate. And along came a croc and grabbed him.

This image has, of course, given me constipation due to an urge to clench my buttocks.

I met a family yesterday, Mum, Dad and son, who have a six-bathroom house - for the three of them, and four household staff. Thinking of the water they waste with their waste, it crossed my mind to suggest that they donate a toilet or two to the young man's village.

Strange to think that those most in touch with nature should suffer more than those who abuse it.

Still, this anecdote has helped me find a few more incidences of Mother Nature fighting back. This site has tales of squirrels biting to death a stray dog - they were probably after its nuts, moose(s) getting drunk, monkeys attacking and killing a Delhi politician - I can't say I blame them, exploding cows and killer seaweed.

We human animals are not omnipotent. After all, there are many species which predate the human race, one we'll lose to, say, cockroaches as extinction beckons us long before theirs.

What I've always found strange is the quest to determine our origins because our lives are lived in the here and now. Half the world's population are engaged in the daily struggle to meet daily needs, and for those who can afford schooling the curricula is geared to the regurgitation of mainly useless 'facts', often, in Indonesia, inculcated with violence.

As the Warden of the fictional St.John's University in Robertson Davies' The Rebel Angels (pub. Penguin. 1982) says, "Education for immediate popular consumption is more popular than ever, and nobody wants to think of the intellectual tone of the nation."

This is, of course, paradoxical in that all human cultures have their own special, epic creation stories. Whether it's the seven day myth wherein none of the three abrahamic religions can agree on which day God rested from His labours, or which, what and where the first humanoid appeared much of it is mental excrement defecated for fame or faith.

High science has based its own special “scientific” creation story on primitive stone tools found by Louis and Mary Leakey in 400 feet deep sediments in Olduvai Gorge in the 1950s.

Now, it seems from this personal diatribe - is this the longest website name? - , that what they found were actually stones regurgitated by crocodiles, stones used as 'grinders' and ballast.

An asshole can see that (these) specimens are nothing but a bunch of goddam 1.8 million year old crocodile stomach stones nicely abraded from churning around in some goddam old crocodile's highly energetic stomach down in the bottom of goddam old Olduvai Gorge about 1.8 million years ago.


10:00 am |
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
  It's All Surface Noise

LPs for long attention spans

The kids of today have short attention spans. Why else would Lovely Rima list her 25 Top Songs Of All Time? I commented here that Dilligaf and I shared musical tastes and if you look at our lists, you'll see that we refer to artists who made albums which lasted about 40 minutes, 20 a side. These were made of easily scratched vinyl and their sleeves were about a foot (30cms) square, large enough to incorporate art and interesting blurb. If you invited friends round to listen to your latest purchase, the sleeve served as a talking point and a surface to skin up on.

Ah, kids of today, if they can spare the time, would do well to read a review of this book.

Oh, and if you're in Jakarta, check out the street market in Jl. Surabaya. You may not find a record player with which to actually listen to the albums you buy, but you'll probably be able to download the music when you get back home to a country with an internet service which caters for the whole population, unlike here.

Lead in your pencil

Everything you didn't want to know about pencils (fr.b3ta) makes for a lengthy blog, and lots of stuff you may not need to know about Count Anton Wolfgang von Faber-Castell, the eight generation of the family heading up the international pencil company, with an Indonesian division regularly visited by school groups makes for a typically flashy Indonesian website.

The pencil is not a rounded hexagonal shape, with dark green varnish and gold colored lettering. The pencil grade is highlighted with a gold band.

There isn't much about how to write or draw however.

Never mind the quality, feel the brand

Simon Pitchforth's most recent column in the Sunday Post is deservedly forthright in his condemnation of Kidzania in a new (what yet another?!?) upmarket shopping mall in central Jakarta.

Parents pay Rp.150,000 (= $17 per child), shove their snack engorged offspring through the entrance and then trot off shopping, unencumbered by whining for three hours or so. At Kidzania, children apparently, "Learn the value of money and work."

Basically, the little nippers earn Kidzania dollars by working for various companies (familiar Indonesian corporate logos are splashed everywhere). The Kidzanians can then remove their ersatz junior cash from special mini BCA ATMs and spend it at the department store or at the Kidzania bakers, among other demands for the little ones’ hard earned wages.

I think being cynical about one of the most cynical marketing ploys I've ever heard of is righteous.

Write on, bro'.


7:00 am |
Sunday, July 20, 2008
  Double Booked - Shopping and Sex

Having trawled through my archives, I realise that my heading is a serious understatement. Books are a very large part of my life as, I've already noted, they are with the majority of university educated westerners. I added "Shopping and Sex" because they sell books, and, hopefully, this blog.

Reading is currently a topic of concern to a number of Indonesian bloggers. Tasa Nugraza Barley has an article in the Jakarta Post suggesting that Why Americans Are Smart is because they have access to public libraries.

I don't want to get into an argument with Tasa about relative 'smartness', although another article I've read in the past week does state that despite spending $230m (£115m) an hour on health care, Americans live shorter lives than citizens of almost every other developed country. And while it has the second-highest income per head in the world, the United States ranks 42nd in terms of life expectancy.

One in six Americans, or about 47 million people, are not covered by health insurance and so have limited access to healthcare. As a result, the US is ranked 42nd in global life expectancy and 34th in terms of infants surviving to age one. The US infant mortality rate is on a par with that of Croatia, Cuba, Estonia and Poland.

The Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen, who developed the Human Development Index (HDI) in 1990, said, "Human development is concerned with what I take to be the basic development idea: namely, advancing the richness of human life, rather than the richness of the economy in which human beings live, which is only a part of it."

What Tasa is writing about is "the richness of human life". Not everyone can afford to spend the time seeking it when finding basic essentials, such as food, clothing and shelter is a daily struggle.

Tasa points out that according to the Jakarta Library website there are only six public libraries in the city. What he doesn't mention is that their online katalog lists a mere 15,929 books. Considering that there are 500 books in Jakartass Towers, that on average I probably read a book a week, and have therefore consumed nigh on 3,000, a fifth of Jakarta's total stock, and feel immeasurably richer because of it, then this city sinks even lower in my estimate of its HDI.

Reading should start at home, but as yet there isn't such a culture. Thanks to the bad old days of Suharto's New Order, Indonesians became literate, able to read and write at a minimal level, without critical comprehension. This is because, again thanks to the bad old days of Suharto's New Order, Indonesians were not encouraged to follow up their new found literacy with opportunities to practice it.

Books, magazines and newspapers were banned if they had any hint of criticism, and journalists and authors such as Mochtar Lubis and Pramoedya Ananta Toer were imprisoned. The artists deemed to be 'communist' in 65/66 were 'disappeared' and those who had pens could only use the 'ink' approved by the central government.

"You can't beat Becky Bloomwood and her Visa card!"

The number of fiction books now available may be translated from English, but you have to start somewhere and in this reformasi era, the free market rules. Although folk seemingly have a greater choice of reading material, it's generally a matter of buying into what is profitable. 'Safe' authors such as Agatha Christie, Sidney Sheldon and, more recently, J.K. Rowlings are readily available translated into Indonesian, and Chick Lit or, as it's known here, Sastra Wangi (fragrant literature) has recently taken off in a big way, generally as it caters to the lowest common denominator and the dominating interests of young women - shopping and sex.

Ask any teenager what s/he has recently read and it will either be an anime comic or a magazine reflecting a particular interest, sports, cars etc. A few may read the new genre of Teen Lit but very few. Unfortunately, the current schooling system is force fed multi-choice test-orientated with little outlet for imaginative story telling or creating. Unless a student is in a school with an international curriculum, there will almost certainly be no course work involving the reading of fiction, and school libraries will generally have reference related to the curricula.

In the UK and the USA, local governments are generally responsible for the public libraries. Here, I believe central government should prioritise them as part of the education budget. However, bearing in mind that it was the Scottish-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie who 'donated' a network of libraries, then maybe some Indonesian oligarchs could follow suit, here.

After all, whilst James Riady is investing c.$12 million in a Singaporean university, shouldn't charity begin at home?

Dirty Books

Whilst you're still here, I just want to say that I love browsing along the bookshelves of homes I visit, of exchanging good tomes and times with friends. You get to know folk this way. Any visitor to Jakartass Towers is equally welcome to judge me by my covers.

I make an effort to visit second-hand bookshops, of which there are very few in Jakarta. What I generally find are thrillers and such which can be described as plane and train books because they pass boring time. As such, they're fun and if a semi-serious read is wanted, then writers such as John le Carré and Ian Rankin offer superior fare.

But I also find books which could be described as literature because you know that one day you'll re-read them and discover something new or it will be like renewing a friendship. All the books I have here are in this category; they're yellowing and pages are beginning to fall out so I lovingly wield the Pritt stick. Being second-hand they also have a story to tell. Where were they bought new, and by who? How did they get here? If they talk, what would they tell us about beds they've rested beside?

Not all agree with me, however. Chas Newkey-Burden, a journalist and author, has done what many bloggers try to do: write something really controversial and sit back as readers take him to task.

He says that he can't stand second-hand books.

For me, as a literary experience, they are akin to sloppy seconds, a salad bar in a staff canteen at the end of a hot weekday, or a recently-vacated cubicle in a public toilet. Let's be clear: I don't merely have a mild preference for buying brand-new. No, I'm digestively squeamish about used books. It's all those stains, thumbprints and creases that get me so queasy. I'm far from a gentle reader and by the time I've taken in the first few chapters of any brand-new tome, it will often be creased and coffee-stained beyond recognition. But they will be my creases and my stains, and that's what matters.


8:00 am |
Saturday, July 19, 2008
  Is it so easy to fool Indonesians?

There was a very short article in yesterday's Post, one I can't find online. Yet it's probably one of the most serious attempts to hoodwink the Indonesian public I've ever come across.

Indonesia and France on Thursday signed an agreement on cooperation in nuclear power plant research.

The agreement came amid a long-standing controversy over government plans to build a nuclear power plant in the central Java town of Jepara to ease the electricity deficit plaguing the country.

After signing the memorandum of understanding with French Ambassador Catherine Boivineau, State Minister for Research and Technology Kusmayanto Kadiman said, "There have been no reports of problems with Frances nuclear power plant technology, which is extraordinary."

What is truly extraordinary is that the minister hasn't done any research using the technology available to the likes of you and me - a search engine.

This calendar page compiled by Greenpeace gives some examples of the everyday nuclear incidents that have occurred all over the world. It demonstrates how technological failures coupled with human error risk public health and the environment on an almost daily basis.

The first accident listed only dates from 1954, thus ignoring the first A-bomb tests, and goes up to 1993. However, it still lists the following twenty, count 'em, 'accidents' and equipment failures in French nuclear power plants.

1967 November 7: Release of radioactivity at Grenoble nuclear power plant
1968 October 2: Leakage at La Hague reprocessing plant
1969 October 17: Fuel elements melt at St Laurent des Eaux nuclear power plant
1980 September 22: Pump failure causes release of radioactive water at La Hague reprocessing plant
1981 January 6: Accident at La Hague reprocessing plant
1983 October 1: Technical failure and human error cause accident at Blayas nuclear power plant
1986 August 19: Flooding at the Cattenom nuclear power plant
1988 April 28: Release of 5000 Curies of tritium gas from the Bruyere le Chatel military nuclear complex
1988 November 23: Two control rods jammed at Blayais nuclear power plant
1989 April 1: Control rod failure at Gravelines nuclear power plant
1990 January 28: Pump failure during a shut-down at Gravelines nuclear power plant
1990 May 26: During refuelling, five cubic meters of radioactive water spilled at the Fessenheim nuclear power plant
1990 September 16: Superphenix Fast Breeder Reactor is closed down due to technical failures
1990 November 4: 2 workers irradiated during refuelling at Blayais nuclear power plant
1991 June1: Failure of core cooling system at Belleville nuclear power plant
1992 July 22: Two workers contaminated at Dampierre nuclear power plant
1992 July 22: Temperature rise in storage pool at Gravelines nuclear power plant
1992 August 28: Fire in electro-generator at St.Alban nuclear power plant
1993 January 20: Technical failure at Paluel causes subcooling accident
1993 October 22: Instrumentation and Control failure at Saint Alban nuclear power plant

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is engaged in nuclear diplomacy. Sarkozy has been leveraging France’s leading civilian nuclear technology to gain diplomatic, commercial and military advantages with countries in the Middle East, as well parts of Africa and Asia.

Since taking office last May, Sarkozy has signed deals worth billions of dollars to build nuclear power reactors or offer technical advice to a number of Arab states including Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and now Indonesia.

The deal with Libya has really upset the island state of Malta because they feel threatened by their proximity to a potential nuclear accident.

You see, one took place between Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 July at the Tricastin plant in Bollene, 40km from Avignon, in the heart of the Côte du Rhone wine-producing region. After a plant malfunction, some 30,000 litres of a solution containing 12% enriched uranium overflowed from a reservoir into the nearby Gaffiere and Lauzon rivers.

A spokesperson for France’s nuclear safety agency, Evangelia Petit, admitted that the concentration of uranium in the two rivers was 1,000 times higher than normal after the spill. Enriched uranium is highly carcinogenic and a potential source of radiation poisoning, but Petit downplayed the consequences of last week’s leak, claiming that the risk posed to humans was “slight”.

Nonetheless, inhabitants of nearby towns and villages have been banned from fishing, swimming, drawing well water or using water from the polluted rivers for irrigation purposes

A "slight risk to humans"? Is that a similar cover up to that of the recent release of plutonium into the sewage system of Boulder, Colorado, which was “below the legal limits”?

If Minister Kusmayanto Kadiman really did not know about the most recent accident in France, then he should be fired for gross incompetence.

And if he did know .... ?


2:00 pm |
Friday, July 18, 2008
  Soul Mates

That's me and fellow Jakarta blogger, macho man Dilligaf . I'm macho too, and I'm not going all feminine over his attributes but sharing with you what we share: a love of music.

Of course, you love music too except maybe the music you love is really the aural wallpaper heard in elevators and supermarkets known as muzak. I wager that both Dilligaf and I agree with Pat Metheny (download mp3) , we both hate Kenny G. - and Dave Koz, Dave Benoit, Celine Dion et al. Incidentally, I have albums by 20 of the jazz musicians on that page who hate him too.

Lovely Rima, who tells me that she's not related to Ikang Fauzi, the Indonesian 'rocker' who Suharto must have loved considering that he was often on the state run TVRI 'whaling' his songs, has published her Top 25 Songs Of All Time. For someone who's so young in chronological terms, it's astonishing that she likes popular music from my era. Yes, she likes "progressive rock, jazz, soul and funk from the 1970s and 80s".

Well, so do I, but I started in the 60s, with the Beatles, Stones, Manfred Mann, Hollies, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac and other British 'beat' and blues groups preceding the 'hippies' and psychedelic music, Pink Floyd, Soft Machine soundtracked on pirate radio by the late, great John Peel.

I've since moved through the 90s and am now in the noughties for my listening pleasure. But we mostly define ourselves by the music of our youth; pop music is for teens which means that I can be grumpy about Our Kid's musical tastes. "Turn that rubbish off," is how we parents echo our fathers, some of whom art in heaven.

When I read Dilligaf's list posted in Rima's comments, I reeled with recognition. From his list of 25, I have albums by the following 21 groups and artists:
T Rex
Shakti - the original albums
Brand X - w. Phil Collins on drums
Ian Dury
Jeff Beck
Brian Eno
Pink Floyd
Steely Dan
David Bowie
Robert Plant
Frank Zappa
Steve Hillage
Simple Minds
Siouxie Sioux
Talking Heads
Stanley Clarke
Captain Beefheart
Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band

But NOT King Crimson!

So, as you see, apart from that one blemish, which he shares with Rima, Dilligaf and I are soul mates, Man.


8:00 am |
Thursday, July 17, 2008
  How does Jakarta compare?

Thomas Belfield of the Jakarta Urban Blog has sent me the link to a fascinating site, spectrum.ieee.online - for tech insiders they say. Amongst other topics, it's packed with info on megacities.

Thomas thought I'd be particularly interested in a page on London, maybe because I'm a Londoner. Much of the information on this page was compiled by City Limits and published in 2002. You can download the report here (.pdf) .

Greater London, like all metropolitan areas, is a living thing. Each year it eats 7 million metric tons of food. It drinks 94 million liters of bottled water alone. It breathes, giving off 41 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. It excretes, generating 26 million metric tons of garbage. It builds itself up with 28 million metric tons of cement, glass, and other construction materials. And it falls apart, generating 15 million metric tons of debris from demolished buildings.

But very little of what feeds and builds London comes from the city itself, and even less of the waste stays there. Instead, in order to feed, clothe, power, and build today's major metropolises you need the product of thousands of square kilometers outside the city limits. And you need thousands of square kilometers more to absorb the discards.

Just how much land is commandeered to support cities, nations, and their inhabitants is measured using what sustainability wonks call ecological-footprint analysis.

They found that London's ecological footprint was 49 million global hectares, 293 times its geographical area and equivalent to two United Kingdoms or one Spain. On a per-person basis, Londoners took up 6.6 global hectares, putting them on a par with the Swiss and making them twice as frugal as the average American, but still more than three times as voracious as what the Earth can provide.

Ken Livingstone, the then Mayor of London, supported City Limits and worked towards alleviating the city's 'Ecological Footprint', and for this and other initiatives he was a recipient of an Ethical Award by the Observer newspaper in the Politician Category this year.

As for Jakarta .....

A couple of snippets from spectrum.ieee made me blink a bit.

Air pollution
Particulate matter smaller than 10 micrometers in diameter (pm10) is the most dangerous to human health, because it can pass through the nose and throat and enter the lungs—leading to asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular problems, and premature death.

Beijing is featured on TV a lot at the moment thanks to the Olympics which, as I've already noted, won't be televised here. Beijing is shutting down industries for a couple of months, restricting traffic and taking other measures to provide clean air for the presumably healthy athletes.

In 1999, the last year for which complete data were available,.Jakarta and Beijing had similar levels of pm10 concentration - about 100micrograms per cubic meter.

Electricity, Sewage and Piped Water.
In 2003, 100% of homes had access to electricity, 60% to sewers but only 36% to piped water.

100% have electricity? Eh?

There is at least one valid comparison between London and Jakarta which should be noted here: in both cases, City Hall is really unhelpful.

I have written a couple of times before that Jakarta is one of the C40 cities, a group of the world's largest cities committed to tackling climate change. This group met in London in January, with Ken Livingstone in the chair, and I suggested that if Jakarta was represented, the delegates probably spent most of their time in Harrods and other upmarket shopping emporia.

Last year they met in New York and I wrote to the secretariat asking about Jakarta's representation. I got referred back to the websites which had given me the email address in the first place. Kafka and Catch 22 came to mind.

There is certainly no evidence on the Jakarta City Hall website that climate change is on the agenda. Far from it. The last update in English was apparently in October 2005 and refers to the approval given by the central government to build six, count 'em, six inner city toll roads.

Thomas and I can't find an equivalent survey about Jakarta to the one on London and what information there is, is scattered. We therefore invite readers to contribute and add more attributable statistics. Hopefully, this will be a useful online info trove for future generations who will no doubt not be living in Jakarta because it will have sunk under its own weight..


8:00 am |
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
  Where Does Milk Come From?

If you ask a kid from a city ghetto or slum estate, s/he'll likely answer the 'corner store' or 'supermarket'. If your parents are unemployed, living on social security and there's little choice in life, then existence can be precarious and meaningful experience vicarious for these kids. There is little connection with Mother Nature if you're trapped indoors by traffic, urban grime, pollution and decay.

About thirty years ago I was appointed as the first full-time co-ordinator of Oasis Children's Venture, an umbrella group for various play provision sites and parent-led play schemes in the areas of Battersea, Stockwell and Vauxhall in South London.

These areas were identified as exceptionally deprived of cultural and recreational facilities with a high level of youth unemployment. The charity acted as a forum and pressure group to enable the provision of play services and strongly advocated the child’s right to play as natures training for life.

I helped initiate a number of projects and served as an adviser and/or trustee of various local organisations, including Elm City Farm, an early member of the UK City Farms Federation. In association with an adjacent elementary school, a vacant plot of land was turned into a children's community garden, which I am very pleased to note is still valued today.

However, beautifying one's neighbourhood does not necessarily bring one in touch with the joys of nature. And giving children rides on a delman, a horse and carriage (left - seen passing Jakartass Towers) although once common in Jakarta is now a very temporary glimpse. Stars cannot be seen unless there's a citywide power cut. Most animals are pets, or domesticated and pettable, or feral cats and dogs. Of course, there may be rats amongst the refuse, but, by and large, for inner city dwellers they are an excuse to remain within familiar surroundings.

Another project I happily fund-raised for and co-ordinated was taking groups of teenagers referred by social services and the juvenile courts on camping expeditions to Cwm Kesty, a former farm in the Brecon Beacons, just inside Wales over the border with England. These children had never left London before and had rarely left their 'stomping ground' of a housing estate.*

Experiencing life under canvas, the lack of electric comforts, the wide outdoors and the sheer darkness of night, was an emotional eye opener for them. Subsequent reports from social services indicated that they'd undergone a real life changing experience, and many were 'released' from bureaucratic clutches as they were able to act responsibly.

A couple of email contacts have brought this back into my focus.

I originally thought that the first, from an organisation based in New York called The Fresh Air Fund (FAF) , was beyond the remit of Jakartass. After all, I'm a Brit and a long-term resident of Jakarta. What could I possibly do of relevance, I asked.

And, in part, this was the reply I received this morning from Sara Wilson.

The reason I reached out to you specifically is not because you are based in Jakarta, but because you are an influential blogger with an international medium to instantly spread this message.

Well, flattery will get you everywhere, but influential? Lots of my readers are Stateside, so I suppose I am. I therefore urge you to contact Sara if you can help.

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877.

Nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2007, close to 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. 3,000 children also attended five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York. The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.

That's lot of children needing a lot of support, and the FAF is still looking for host families for the summer holidays which have just started in the USA.

Fresh Air Fund volunteer host families, in a Friendly Town community supported by an experienced local volunteer, open their homes to inner-city children for two weeks or more in the summertime. There are no financial requirements for hosting a Fresh Air child. Most hosts simply want to share their homes with inner-city youngsters. Host families are not paid. The Fund has a program for placing children who have special physical or emotional needs.

If you want to know more, contact Sara, and please tell her that Jakartass sent you.

Finally, closer to home - in fact in Jakartass Towers - on Thursday I play host to the proprietor of Hotel Rimbo in West Sumatra. The soft opening is next month and we hope to set in motion definite plans for setting up Camp Rimbo, the Children's Jungle Study Centre which I plan for my retreat from urban life.

If you want to experience a bit of peace, look at the banner at the top of the page; this is the view that I hope city kids will soon enjoy as much as I do.
*There's a picture of me and some Cwm Kesty Kids in the Oasis Children's Venture History - a .pdf download.


7:30 pm |
Monday, July 14, 2008
  There's an election on

In fact, there's always an election on; national politicians are forever campaigning because they know that if they can appease the electorate, then there's a good chance that they can get elected again to ride the gravy train.

That holds true for most countries, because there are few politicians anywhere who are able, or willing, to stand up for what they believe in and remain consistently moral throughout their political careers. Most will follow their party's line rather than truly represent the wishes of their constituents. Others will forever be beholden to the lobbyists who have bankrolled their campaigns.

Here in Indonesia, direct elections are not yet de rigeur. Certain 'leadership' positions, such as provincial governors and regents, with their deputies, are now answerable to an electorate of citizens. This has forced political parties to network through community based organisations, to make promises of action that will benefit the rakyat (general public). Concerned citizens are then able to monitor the performances of their leaders.

This is a form of democracy that is new to Indonesia, a direct result of the reformasi that has taken a tenuous hold. That a number of regents and governors have since been charged with corruption indicates that this form of democracy is workable - in places.

Elsewhere, local oligarchs and apparatchiks continue to hold sway and their constituents are beholden to the markets they control.

A general election campaign started on Saturday. It will run for nine months until April 9th next year and will be contested by 34 political parties, a number still subject to drop outs and drop ins. The electorate will cast their votes for the parties rather than members of parliament and although the campaign period has started, the General Elections Commission (KPU) has yet to publish the lists of candidates. Those who do end up in the House of Representatives (DPR) will have done so if their party has reached a threshold of 2.5% of the votes cast nationally

This may mean that as few as five political parties will end up with members of parliament, thus disenfranchising a high percentage of the electorate. It must also be borne in mind that, as I've noted elsewhere, members of parliament are expected to contribute to their party's coffers; the more you contribute pre-election, the higher up the candidates' list you are placed. This system obviously perpetuates the rampant corruption in the House of Representatives (DPR).

Fellow Jakarta blogger Rob Baiton has also posted on this topic and argues that every elector has a responsibility to cast his or her vote.

In the Indonesian context it is disrespectful to the many people who fought and died for the right to live free in a functioning democracy. If you are not going to engage in the democratic process of elections then why complain when you end up with the status quo.

My argument is that if you do or don't engage in this process, one that is not truly democratic, then you have every right to complain because you always end up with the status quo.

Whilst I agree that having the right to vote is the mark of a democracy, a system which is notionally the fairest and certainly worth fighting for, not using your right to vote is also a political statement which is perfectly valid in a democracy.

Rob and I do not have the right to vote in Indonesia, although our wives do. I used my vote in the UK, but I do not think I have ever voted for the winning candidate. In my early adulthood I generally voted for the Labour Party and was on the management committee of my local party in London. We lost that general election to the Conservative Party, popularly known as the Tories. A few years later I was active in the then Ecology Party, now Green Party. Again, no-one I voted for was ever elected, although what we fought for then are noe very mainstream.

I've always believed that politics is not just about elections. I have voted, once, for a local councillor who was a member of the Tory Party, the party of bigotry and big business and the comfortable middle classes, a political party I have loathed all my life. However, she was only concerned with representing the aspirations of we local residents, and she'd earned our respect over many years of selfless work.

So, to vote or not to vote is a matter of personal choice. Not voting when you have the right to do so is known in Indonesia as Golput, the abbreviation of golongan putih (white group). Other choices include tactical voting against the party you don't want to win and spoiling the ballot paper.

I contend that all options, if done sincerely with the democratic process in mind, are valid.

After all, whoever you vote for, the government always gets in.


8:30 am |
Sunday, July 13, 2008
  Serious Weirdness

Why should a website of Beauty Schools listings in the District of Columbia trackback to a post about my postings elsewhere?

Where is the District of Columbia anyway?

The State of Education
Those who can, do.
Those who can't, teach.
Those who can't teach, manage schools.

Still in the States, a US teacher has been suspended without pay for 18 months for letting her alienated high-school students read a much lauded bestseller, The Freedom Writers Diary.

The Freedom Writers Diary: How a teacher and 150 teens used writing to change themselves and the world around them was put together by a young teacher, Erin Gruwell, who, by giving them respect, enabled her 'unteachable' students to examine and change their own lives. This has been celebrated as a model for transforming young lives and last year was made into a film with Hilary Swank last year.

However ... and there's always one .... Connie Heermann, a teacher in Indiana for 27 years, wanted to introduce the book to her students.

Her head agreed and Heermann got written permission from nearly 150 parents, but the Perry Meridian high school board urged her to wait for its decision.

Teachers' union officials say that a single board member objected to swearing in the book. The school board member allegedly persuaded the other six officials to ban Heermann from teaching the book. It remains available in school libraries.

Heermann said, "If you read the whole book you will see how these inner-city students grow and change and become articulate, compassionate, educated young people who want to do something good in their lives despite the environment in which they were raised.

"I thought my students would very much relate to those kids."

Erin Gruwell commented on the controversy, saying, "The best way to get a teenager to read a book is to ban it."

Buildings In Motion

Dr. Fisher, creator of the revolutionary Dynamic Tower states: "Today's life is dynamic, so the space we are living in should be dynamic as well, adjustable to our needs that change continuously, to our concept of design and to our mood, buildings will follow the rhythms of nature, they will change direction and shape from spring to summer, from sunrise to sunset, and adjust themselves to the weather, buildings will be alive."

I doubt that there will be many wishing to live and/or work in buildings in perpetual motion in such earthquake prone countries as Indonesia and Japan, or hurricane alley states such as Florida.


10:30 am |
Thursday, July 10, 2008
  Bloggers Don't Get It

Apologies for not crediting this cartoon, but it saves me the bother of being typecast by Rima and sits nicely with my post about Max Mosley.



11:45 am |
Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Back whenever I was a teacher trainer for a company with Indonesian English teachers, I used to ask them what they thought was the hardest English language structure to teach. I would cover up their expected answer on the whiteboard, ready to expose it when they answered 'conditionals', the 'what if' sentences.

It wasn't the structure of the two-clause sentence that was the problem so much as the understanding of the purpose and meaning..

For example, I once asked a public class what they would have bought if I'd given them $1,000 the previous week. One young business executive said that he couldn't answer the question. When I asked him why, he answered, "But you didn't give me $1,000."

Good grammar, but the concept of every condition having a consequence eluded him.

In Indonesia, it is very much a matter of fatalism in the absence of a meaningful education and a moral leadership. The politicians by and large are amoral, carving up commissions in order to pay off the debts owed to the political parties they supposedly represent, debts accrued during their elections. If they are the supposed leaders of the country, then it is little wonder that their followers, citizens, have sheep-like characteristics, a herd mentality with its evasion of personal responsibility.

GJ and wife Jenny Q., and Oigal of Greenstump have tales of firing local employees who hadn't thought about the consequences of their actions, and certainly had no notion about not shitting in their own nests.

We're regularly informed that jobs will be lost if we don't change our lifestyles. Others say that jobs will be lost if we do change our lifestyles.

All over the world, protesters are engaged in a heroic battle with reality. They block roads, picket fuel depots, throw missiles and turn over cars in an effort to hold it at bay. The oil is running out and governments, they insist, must do something about it.

So writes George Monbiot who goes on to rant against those self-centred fishermen the world over who are depleting the oceans of their fish stocks in order to keep food on their tables today, not bothering with the notion that their overfishing will mean that no-one will have fish on their tables tomorrow.

This country is far from being the only country with a bewildered populace. Shallow lives are spent wishing for the unattainable, consumerables that can only be obtained by stealing or by borrowing from usurers.

Let me be clear about one thing: the current high price of oil is a good thing. I'm also glad that because of the servicing of BP Java's gas terminal Jakarta is going to suffer rotating power cuts, and the problems in providing coal to other power stations means that not only will less fossil fuel be used up, but folk may start practicing energy savings because they have to.

The high price of fuel will make folk think twice about using private transport, as is already happening in the States, although it's debatable whether local authorities such as Jakarta City Hall will have the gumption to lay on more public transport.

If only half the cash received by politicians and bureaucrats in order to bypass by-laws was used to run public education campaigns, such as the Hemat Energi, Hemat Biaya TV and billboard campaign run in the latter years of the Suharto era, and the political élite were not seen to be so hypocritical, then life would be better for us all.

And if not for us, at least that would guarantee a future for our children.


11:30 am |
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
  Sexual Sports and Politics

It doesn't take much of an imagination to link the following stories, so my heading is designed as a viagran boost for my circulation - of this blog, that is.

Malaysian Wonderland

You may think that in political terms, Indonesia has won the seriously WTF Stakes. However, consider what little you know about Malaysia's political battles. An aide of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has accused him, again, of sodomy, and a private investigator has accused the current Deputy Prime Minister of being involved in the murder of a Mongolian model, and the subsequent blowing up of her body. The aide is now in protective custody and the private investigator has disappeared.

For a fuller picture, read Rojak and Cocktail as the blogger attempts to unravel what's going on there. It's hard going, as a read that is, but keep at it.

A Whipping Boy

I'm not a fan of Formula One motor racing even though a Brit, Lewis Hamilton, was winning the British Grand Prix at the same time as the Roger Federer was losing his crown at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.

The president of Formula One's governing body, the FIA, Max Mosley, a son of Sir Oswald Mosley, the 1930's British fascist leader, is suing the Sunday tabloid popularly known as News Of The Screws for an invasion of privacy. Journalists clandestinely filmed MM engaged in a sado-masochism (S&M) workout with five, count' em, buxom beauties.

Mosley maintains the gathering was a private "party" for himself and (the) five like-minded, consenting women, and there was no public interest in reporting it.

He was certainly wrong about that. The 'News' described the party as a "sick Nazi orgy", presumably because of his family connections, and put the video on their website. And, no, I'm not going to titillate you with the link. You be the voyeurs.

In Open Court

S&M is viewed by most Brits as an aberration of the boys from so-called upper class families who've been deprived of a 'normal' childhood through having been sent to a private boarding school known, perversely, as a public school.

James Price QC, representing Mosley, said his client's interest in S&M was not degrading or sick, and accused the News of the World of being out of touch with modern life. "It's not a surprise to me or to others who don't live in an ivory tower or a monastery, or, I am sure, to your lordship, to learn that quite a lot of people, men and women, have a fascinated interest in this sort of thing," he told the judge, Mr Justice Eady.

Is the learned Queen's Counsel (a top level lawyer) suggesting that the judge has a particular "fascinated interest", perhaps being a member of the same club as Mr Mosley?

Dwile Flonking

I've been reminded of the ancient and modern pub game of dwile flonking. You may read possible homo-erotic undertones in the rules, which can be found here.

The game is officially played by two teams of twelve players, though there is great flexibility in numbers. The fielding team gathers in a circle, called a girter, enclosing a member of the other team, the flonker. He holds a broom handle (usually called the driveller), on top of which is a beer-soaked rag, the dwile or dwyle.

At a signal, the girter dances around the flonker in a circle. He must flick (or flonk) the dwile with the driveller so it hits a girter team member. His score depends on which part of the body he hits - the usual scoring is three points for a hit on the head (a wanton), two for a hit on the body, (a marther), and just one for a leg strike (a ripple). If after two shots the flonker hasn’t scored he is swadged, or potted, which means he has to drink a quantity of beer from a chamber pot within a given time. After all the members of one team have flonked, the other team is put in. The winner is the team with the most points after two innings, usually the one with more members still upright.

You can play a Virtual Game online with Max Mosley, pictured above.


11:00 am |
Sunday, July 06, 2008
  Sports? Who Needs 'Em?

I have mentioned games and sports a few times before, not so much as a space filler but because they provide an opportunity to bind groups together and as a substitute for war.

It says much about Indonesian patriotism that once again the Olympic Games will not be shown on any Indonesian terrestrial TV channel. It also says much about Indonesia's parochialism that the 17th National Games, which opened yesterday in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, are going to be clogging up the TV schedules for the next week or so.

The irony is that SBY believes that these games will be "a springboard to international glory".

This is what RCTI said four years ago about the Athens Games: "Learning from our past experience, it is not commercially advantageous to buy broadcasting rights for a multi-event sporting showcase like the Olympics, because we have to buy it in one entire package, while our viewers are only interested in a few sports such as badminton and soccer."

Taufik Hidayat won the men's single gold in badminton and was quoted as saying that he did it for the millions of Indonesian people who were watching. Except we weren't.

This is what RCTI says this year about the Beijing Games ~ they "cannot afford the expensive rights", reputedly $13.7 million, whereas in 2000 it was 'only' $2 million.

To be honest, I'm very surprised that no Chinese-Indonesian conglomerate, such as James Riady's Lippo Group or Antony Salim's Indofoods has offered to dip into their petty cash reserves.

So, although there are expectations of more medals in badminton and possibly weightlifting, those athletes who fulfil their dream of having qualified to take part will have to make do with just that. At least they should be able to SMS their good/bad news back home where RCTI will be focussing their sports coverage on "local major events". Medal winners will probably also have the added glory of large cash bonuses as they did four years ago..

If the UK and other countries achieve international coverage of their local sports events, perhaps RCTI can get the TV rights to those sports which aren't among the 43 on display in Samarinda for a bit less than they're not going to pay to broadcast the Olympics.

I don't really know what these sports might be might be, apart from cockfighting, bull racing and stone jumping, so would appreciate some suggestions. The emphasis should be on local and here are a few Jakarta examples I've uncovered:

Belly Dancing
Ultimate Frisbee

International sports fans are welcome to make suggestions, especially if they are as classy as the following:

Cow Fights
Forget bullfights. In the Alps, it is the female cows that get to enter the ring. The female members of the robust Heren breed fight it out for the title "Queen of Queens." It's a competition where Daisy and Buttercup get to be contenders.

Cheese Chasing
Every year a bunch of fearless men and women hurl themselves down a near-vertical English hill in pursuit of a giant rolling cheese. Although gravity ensures they all make it down the slope, not all competitors do so in one piece.

Finger Pulling Championships
In the old days, people say, it was used to settle disputes. Today it has the standing of a national sport in the Alpine region of southern Germany and neighboring Austria.

If we can't have fun, what else are we here for?

As so often happens, I find much more interesting links having already posted. Ho hum indeed, but I cannot sign off without recommending that you spend an hour or three exploring the Strange Games compiled by Montegue Blister.


12:00 pm |
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  • Indonesia Anonymus - infrequent but always good

  • Indonesian Expats
  • Naz - a "12.5% Indonesian" in Norway
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  • Jennie Bev - in SF
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  • Nadia Febina - in Angola
  • Society of Spectacle - in Berlin
  • Overseas Think Tank - for Indonesia
  • Indonesians Living Abroad Forum - as it says in the title

  • Expat Bloggers in Indonesia
  • PJ Bali - oil worker
  • Mat Solo - Malaysian oil worker
  • Jenny Q - an expat wife
  • Dr Bruce - retired teacher in Bali
  • Spruiked - Brett's take on things
  • Indoprism - an expat family
  • Java Jive - original photoblog (now in the Phillipines)
  • Amor Fati - good links
  • Metro Mad - Jakarta Globe columnist
  • Rob Baiton - back in Oz
  • Jakarta Kid - about street kids
  • Green Stump - in Kalimantan
  • Most Curious - née Betty Loves Blogging
  • The Mad Rotter - Henk loves Indonesian music
  • Duncan Graham - journo archives
  • Hardship Posting - more wtf
  • Indonesia Matters - loads of stuff
  • The Opinionated Diner - and NZ music
  • Patrick Guntensperger - has opinions on current issues

  • Selected Aseanist Blogs
  • SARAwho? - Southeast Asia Aggregator
  • Pelf-ism is Contagious
  • Brommel - usually in Indonesia
  • Friskodude - SF travel writer
  • Klong Walking - an Addick in Bangkok
  • Agam's Gecko - musings from Thailand

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