Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I have been knocked down with a cold / flu virus for the past few days (what's the difference between a cold and the flu actually?).

Two things struck me.

It's been about 3 years since the last time I have been sick, you kinda forget how crappy being sick is.  I have been way too blithe when pals have told me they came down with typhus, dengue, measles or whatnot (really bad stuff).

Viruses are pretty smart.  Cold viruses are all about mind control.  They cause you to sneeze somehow and then find new hosts.  Ingenious.  I wonder how they do that?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Defending Indonesia's Corruption Record

A while back, I was lying in a hotel room in Bandung. BBC World business report was on in the background, when on came an Indonesian government representative.

Immediately I sat up. I am like that, being an Indonesia geek.

This Indonesian guy was promoting business in Indonesia.

Niceties over, the interviewer clobbered the Indonesian guy, with something like,

"Indonesia recently scored near bottom of transparency international's corruption index. That won't give international firms confidence in investing in Indonesia, will it?"

The guy floundered.

"We're improving yada yada yada"

"Doesn't look that way to me"

Needless to say it did not sound at all convincing.

Not that I like defending Indonesia's transparency international corruption ranking, but you could go about it as follows.

Transparency International reports on people's perceptions of corruption. Is it any wonder that Indonesians are more keenly aware of wrongs when they are reported on everyday in a mostly free manner. Indonesia has a problem, but at least its people are keenly aware of it, unlike many other places with lobotomised media (Singapore's Straits Times, anyone?).

It's a bit like Alcoholics Anonymous, you gotta be aware your problem before you can overcome it.

Countries with freer media will ironically tend to have worse Transparency International Corruption ranks.

Through a Glass Darkly

Over and over, pals tell me how Suharto era Indonesia was a safer Indonesia than present day.

Obviously you have to ignore the goings on in Timor Leste, Aceh and Papua during Suharto's reign.

You would have to forget how Suharto got going - by killing a cool half a million people or more. And how he went out, by sending thugs to rape and murder Chinese Indonesians.

Also, you would have to turn a blind eye to the Suharto incorporated mafia monopoly. He gave the license to one man, a thug called Yapto. Needless to say, Yapto is kinda like the Voldemort "he who shall not be named" of Indonesia today.

I have little idea whether the Indonesian archipelago is safer than it was 15 or 20 years ago. It's difficult or impossible for me to call. But I suspect it is difficult for most Indonesians to make judgements that go much further than personal anecdotes either.

Indonesia's press was locked down back then. Now, for better or worse, Indonesia has the freest press in South East Asia.

Perceptions count for a lot.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


I have heard that Israel's bombing of Gaza is partly due to the Israeli government wanting to show a hardline in the run up to elections.

But could Obama taking over in the US also be a factor? Would not be surprised.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Every year I seem to get sucked into year end nostalgia. Here's this year's dose.

Best song. Hold on to Yourself, by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. From the Dig Lazarus Dig!!! album. Just found out it's about escapologists (messrs. Lazarus and Houdini) based in New York. How fitting.

Best buy of the year. A pair of JVC marshmallow ear-plug-like earphones. They cost about 15 quid. Bought them in Dublin airport before heading off to the R of I on January 1st.

99% of background noise vanishes. I never walk on a plane without 'em now.

Best football match. Persija (Jakarta's biggest football team) v Persipura (from Papua, i.e. straight outta the jungle! ; )). The Persipura 11 were awesome. Eighty odd thousand Jakmania in Gelora Bung Karno were equally awesome though. Indonesian football is a relfection of the place. Once done right, I am sure Indonesian football will be huge! Thing is, it's pretty messed up at the moment. Thanks to the Jakarta Casual for getting me tickets.

I have read a few great books this year, less so now I am in New York and not commuting (I work and live on the same street). Things the Grandchildren Should Know is a book about Mark Everitt, the Eels frontman. I've never been a huge Eels fan, but it doesn't matter, it's mostly about his messed up life, family and how he loved them.

More to come!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Worrying about Genetalia

Pope Benedict is God's representative on earth.

He doesn't like gay people.

This guy loves to think himself as an intelectual. So obviously there's a totally rational reason for his homophobia.

It's genius, we never heard of this before, don't panic, but it's er... **HUMAN EXTINCTION**.

Shite!! It's the big one.

If only we had some totally non camp James Bond to save us from our gays. I.e. more Timothy Dalton than Roger Moore.

So there you have it, the world is turning gay, be afraid. Be very afraid.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mixing and Mashing

I think the Forum from the BBC World Service is now my favourite program on my favourite radio station.

It can be hit and miss but it's mostly pretty interesting.

By the way, anyone heard the recent interview by Alan Johnson with Ingrid Betancourt? I think it is the best interview I have heard in a long long time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Birthday Present

I bought myself a D700 with a 24-70 lens last weekend.

I haven't had the chance to use it yet, but reckon it will be a phenomenal camera.

This was one of my first pictures with it (with minimal light BTW!!).

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I'm so tired Lyrics

I'm so tired... I'm so tired... I'll give you everything I've got for a little piece of mind!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008