Sunday, September 28, 2008

New York

Been in New York almost a week.

It's a much more laid back and friendlier city then I thought it would be.

Things are also smaller than I imagined. More bitesize than I imagined. I like it.

Just hope I get my own flat soon!! : )

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Girl in a Jilbab

A while back I admitted to dreaming about dating a "Jilbab girl".

Well, lo and behold, not long after posting, a girl asked me whether I'd like to go out with her!! : )

Her name is Tata, she's very sharp and not a little pretty.

We actually went on two dates while I was in Indonesia. Firstly to a discussion on homosexuality and spirituality which was organised by the Jakarta Q! festival at the Goethe institute in Menteng.

The people there were really friendly and welcoming. Only difficulty was that I am a straight atheist whose Indonesian wasn't up to scratch. But I got some good vibes from the whole meet up, and reckon that those events really help the participants that struggle with these issues.

Next date we tried to go bowling, but all the lanes were booked out. We ended up having a bite to eat, a juice and a Guinness (it's weird, but I think I'm starting to prefer Indonesian over Irish Guinness ; )).

I gotta say, apart from being excellent company, good fun and forthright; I was grateful that Tata took the time to talk a little about the whole Jilbab culture, what's expected of Jilbab wearers and why. It's certainly not always easy, but I suppose that's the point - if it was easy to wear and give that much commitment, there'd be little point to it.

Avoiding Crises

Last week the US government brought 50 percent of the US mortgage market under its wing by taking control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In effect the US government is to spend billions of dollars on propping up the US real estate market and US financial firms which are tanking.

This is a colossal disaster which US tax payers will pay for for generations to come.

Could this have been foreseen, and if so, could something have been done to head of such a huge disaster?

Probably not.

Too many people were earning too much money from the profligacy and many /very/ smart people were backing them up saying that their business models were mathematically water tight. It reminds me of the emperor's new clothes story.

Hiroshima was another case. Air forces flattened many cities before Hiroshima, thing was it was only sometime after Hiroshima that people fully realised that the whole earth could be wiped out by a handful of these nuclear bombs.

Could 9/11 have been stopped due to some far sighted official looking for more stringent passenger checks on airlines, and foreseeing the possibility of a "plane bomb" scenario?

Many people did actually foresee such crises, but groups of people are slow to change, more often than not reacting after the horse has bolted.

Pearl Harbour, Hiroshima, krismon, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina; all completely preventable and yet pretty much inevitable due to people's mindsets.

The next 9/11 or krismon will also be preventable but it will be almost certainly something very different from what went before, and will slip through the cracks, nothing will be done until it's too late.

We learn history so we do not make the same mistakes made in the past, however often it is learnt too well.

Why Do I Like Living In Indonesia?

Well I never lived there, but Ausdag does, and his post hits on some of the vague but strong feelings of affinity I have with the place.

Green activists 'are keeping Africa poor'

An interesting read.

When it comes to food there's often a science-cynical attitude, e.g. GM, artificial fertilisers, preservatives etc. Sometimes this attitude is deserved, often I suspect it is not.

Indonesia's green revolution in the 70s was acclaimed for providing cheap food to the masses, nowadays it's often seen as a chemically fueled binge.

There's a balance to be struck, but many people can't afford to be overly conservative when it comes to adopting new food technologies - especially when it comes to filling empty stomachs.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


I receive quite a few comments about this blog via email, cos quite a few of my pals are kinda paranoid when it comes to the internet and having their opinions online.

Maybe I'm too naive, but so far, having a little bit of myself up on the net has led to me meeting up with so many great people, so far blogging has only been good to me.
Main Bank of China Is in Need of Capital.

Wowzers! Who saw that coming!

If you are shocked by that, find some comfort in Indonesia's central bank frittering away its money sending people to do the Haj.

I don't think anyone would care too much, if Indonesia's department for religion wasn't one of the most corrupt corners of government.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A Case for Luddism

Visit Indonesia, and there's one thing that pops out at you. People, lots and lots of people.

Buy a plane ticket for example. One person books the flight, one person swipes the credit card and one person painstakingly writes the details of your ticket onto the actual ticket. Oh and one or two other people sit in the background chatting or whatnot. Fascinating. In Ireland one person could do the whole lot in about the same time or less.

Let's take the "human printer" though. She spends her day carefully jotting down details into a ticket. It begs the question, wouldn't it be better for an employer to buy a cheapo Lexmark printer and do away with her services?

Probably not. Indonesians are pretty cheap to hire, and try asking a Lexmark printer (in painstakingly polite machine code) to fill in as a Visa card swiper!

Many wealthy Indonesian families have maids, drivers, gardeners, nannies etc. etc. Actually on the grand scale of things you don't have to be too wealthy - as servant wages are less than €50 a month (probably significantly less).

In the Ireland we don't do servants, we do microwavable meals, robotic lawn mowers, internet connected fridges, webcams in nurseries and auto-piloted BMWs. In other words we come up with ever more ingenious ways to make our busy lives more convenient -- as long as the batteries don't run out and the operating system doesn't crash.

People in Ireland (and most Western countries for that matter) are missing something -- your brand new coffee maker isn't going to make you freshly squeezed orange juice on a hot summer's day. And you feel like waffles? Well your gonna have to ditch your George Foreman - cos your house is probably already full of these bloody high tech gadgets!!

I'm a geek, the best technology to me is indiscernible from magic. That's why I love coding up small bits and bobs. However, a cook will serve infinitely more delicious meals than a microwave, and a maid will do a much more thorough job at ironing and folding shirts than any number of neural network controlled robots you care to throw at the problem!

I reckon Indonesian servants could earn at the very least 10 times their salary in Europe than at home, it's a such no brainer. Unfortunately Europeans are slightly dim when it comes to thinking outside the box and outside of Europe.