Monday, December 28, 2009


me: well doing anything worthwhile involves a bit of masochism...
look at me and indonesia for example : )
Hanum: haahahhahahahahahhahahahhahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahahaha

Monday, December 14, 2009


One of my pet hates on Facebook is that people only *ever* show the best sides of themselves.

I think the blogosphere is populated by a slightly more deranged sort, which makes for a good read.


In any case, I feel bad tonight. Cos I snapped at one of my gym's receptionists - quite a minor 'snap' - but a 'snap' nevertheless. It's one of New York's posher gyms - I pay a fortune for the monthly fee and a personal trainer and yet they call me 'Jonathan' all the time.

(What a horrific malformation of my name! : )

Why? Cos they haven't bothered to correct it in their system, even though I have brought it up tonnes of times.

There's nothing worse than fake personalisation that get's your personal details wrong!

I will apologise to the receptionist once I see her again. She'll have probably forgotten, but nevertheless (also she's pretty cute, any excuse to strike up a conversation!!).

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


You have got more bodyguards than you can shake a stick at - and you're afraid of being assassinated by terrorists - when you should protect your people getting blown up by terrorist bombs.

Your party has a majority in parliament and have just won a landslide presidential election - yet you are afraid of some sort of political coup when you should be joining your people and rooting out corruption.

Who are you? The biggest sissy in Indonesia of course - the Indonesian president - SBY.

How could this bloke be so effing paranoid and feel so sorry for himself while at the same time there's so much his people need him to do!?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


I just bought the Flaming Lip's Embryonic album - it's gotten rave reviews don't you know! (I say this, because as I am listening to it for the first time I don't 'get' it - hopefully it's another Bends or something?)

You know you're becoming old fart when you can't be bothered to surf around and download a pirated album but you surf around for the cheapest legit download.

So here's how much it cost at various sites:

1) iTunes: $11
2) Amazon: $10.49
3) WalMart: $10.00
4) Lala: $7.99

No wonder Lala's just been taken over by Apple. That Lala price translates to E5.50 - a far cry from the 15-18 Euros you used to have to pay at HMV for new albums.

I wonder whether I could've found it any cheaper though - if I looked longer than 10 minutes...

By the way, those who say the music industry is dying are off their rocker. MP3s are purer profit to record labels than CDs ever were.

Friday, December 04, 2009

How you will Probably Die

Happily I have never had suicidal tendencies.

Weird how different races and sexes have such different deaths... Are our lives /that/ different?!?!

Sneaking into Auschwitz


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Swiss Minarets

How well thought out this banishment is.

While we're at it, let's ban church spires, funny statues on top of Hindu temples and Chinese style rooves.

I now nominate Switzerland as the Malaysia of Europe (I previously said somewhere that Malaysia is the Homer Simpson of countries).

The Swiss are afraid of Muslims. Too often I encounter a similar sentiment here. It's utterly depressing.

Let me try to describe a scene that is ingrained in my mind since my last trip to Indonesia. Be warned it is very terrifying.

I found myself in a small village / community in part of Jakarta where the original Jakartans live - the Betawi.

The fun fair is in full swing. It's a very small amateurish affair that's pitched on a small communal patch of land, nevertheless the local village kids are having a great time playing the quaint games.

The smallest kids are learning how to 'fish' at a tiny blow up rubber pool. Using magnetic hooks to fish the small colourful plastic toy fish up. A parent or two is on hand to help them out if they need help but soon they're merrily fishing away.

Shivering in your boots?

The Swiss tell us more about the Swiss than anyone else after this ban on minarets. Shameful.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The KPK Camp

Simon Pitchforth's night out at the KPK.

Blog Post Drought - Or - Miscellanea - Or - It Never Rains but it Pours

One of the first rules I had when I started blogging was not to write about blogging.

Nevertheless I have been on a posting hiatus of sorts, so I thought I'd jot down some things that have been swirling around my mind recently.


I joined a gym recently. First time ever. It's a bizarre place - very little interaction between members. I also realised how unfit I am (I hadn't exercised since I came to New York).


In a previous post I linked to Project Euler - a site which has maths problems which you try to solve with the aid of your computer and some cunning.

The way I tried solving the few problems I have tackled successfully was to write down the problem in Erlang (my programming language of choice) and go from there.

That only gets you so far, to solve any of the later problems you really need to know about what makes numbers tick (the problems are number theory flavoured).

Working on these problems is a bit like going to the gym for the first time in a long time - I am sure I can improve if I just devote a little more time and energy to it.


I heard on the Beeb today that an Indonesian minister says that TV's immorality is the root cause of Indonesia's recent spate of natural disasters. It was at the end of the bulletin - sounded like it was in there just to lighten things up a little.

As Ms. Delvi Wahyuni pointed out to me when we hung out a few weeks ago, morality /is/ the root cause of the misery inflicted on people in earthquakes or tsunamis or whatnot. It's the bloody immoral politicians that pocket the aid and took bribes to allow multi-story tall buildings to be built in Padang.

Are these politicians cynical or just completely and utterly idiotic to blame tsunamis on women wearing trousers while they're directly involved in leeching the resources from society that would deal with these catastrophes?


I was listening to a documentary about employee owned companies last night.

It's a very interesting way of running a company. Management science does what it always does and argues for the general status quo - i.e. that companies owned by a very small cabal will be more efficient operations.

I am not so sure. Sure the management need to be highly incentivised, as they have the most direct control over the company - but I think underlings have been underestimated.

I would love to read some studies on these companies.


Ireland got knocked out of the World Cup by France a week or two ago. The winning goal was set up by a blatant hand ball.

Cheating has become such an integral part of football nowadays - and yet because it's been slowly seeping into the game everyone seems to accept it nowadays. It reminds me of the widespread use of steroids in American sport - everyone knows it's happening but mostly people turn a blind eye.

In the same week, police uncovered a massive match fixing scandal across Europe.

Video technology would take away a lot of the ambiguity surrounding match turning events. It's inevitable - the game's only getting faster and harder for refs to keep up with.


Indonesia has had its own Watergate unfold over the last few months (that is if Watergate involved hundreds of millions of dollars of fraud, blow jobs, assassinations, geckos and crocodiles - I hope we get to see the movie soon!!).

I remember in my first few days in Indonesia, when I tried to comprehend the depth of Indonesian corruption, I was saying to myself - "so what does it mean when literally every policeman, judge, official and politician can be bribed?" - and then having a fleeting feeling of looking into an abyss.

Everyone knows that the justice system ( the "strongest pillar of government" as they say in the US) is completely and utterly broken.

The surprise was seeing the corruption commission fighting to rescue several of its leaders from being framed and inevitable jail time - they somehow managed to record 4 hours of conspiratorial meetings between higher ups in the attorney general's office, the police and several others.

All in all one of the most positive episodes in recent Indonesian current affairs. Civil society in Indonesia is finding its voice.

Now if we could only have a few more of these scandals - this time having president SBY front and centre maybe? Hint hint nudge nudge.


I've earned almost 100% returns on my investments this year - mainly from emerging markets.

The iShares emerging markets index dropped by 4% since Thursday though, because Dubai looks like it might go under.

I don't see Dubai's demise pulling Brazil, Russia, China or Korea down with it. Although stranger things have happened I suppose - like er the credit crunch ; )

Is it just me, or do I sense a little schadenfreude in Dubai's recent unease?

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I'm growing a moustache cos I am passionate about facial hair and er testicles everywhere.

Donate to help the fight against testicular and prostrate cancer here:

The Art of Quitting

Fantastic post from Parvita.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Terrorist and Psychotic?

Fox News' big issue tonight was that Obama wouldn't call the Fort Hood massacre an act of Islamic terrorism.

I think they are trying to stir things up again - and hopefully not too many bite on the bait.

In any case, there's an interesting question embedded in there - where do you draw the line between psycho and terrorist?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Zaitzeff on Hallowe'en

I busted my ankle last night, therefore I am not partying this Hallowe'en.

I have been laid up all day. An hour and a half ago I went out for some fresh air and to grab a bite to eat. It's such a utterly miserable night out though.

The burger bar is called Zaitzeff, it's a nice place. I struck up a conversation with a German woman who's lived in Ireland for 10 years. She happened to mention how some Irish people have been asking her about when she'd be leaving Ireland.

A roundabout way of implying that she's not wanted anymore (now that Ireland is in the grips of recession).

How interesting. Those Irish, who hail from one of the world's greatest migrant people are getting hung up on immigrants in Ireland. Hypocrites!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Keris Dreamin' Pt Deux

A friend helped me to finally track down a keris maker in Solo to craft my keris.

Apparently it will 4 months of sweat, blood and sweet tea to make.

Problem is since the process had begun I have come down with a lingering cold / flu.

Is this a portent of things to come?

8 Travel Tips for Indonesia

One of the toughest things for me to figure out in Indonesia has been getting around. I think most foreigners are in the same boat, so here are some tips.

1) You know where you want to go but you don't know how much it's gonna cost, and while you're not tight up you hate being ripped off

Best thing to do is ask some friendly looking person nearby how much a taxi, becak or bajaj is likely to cost - you'll probably not pay the price locals do, but you won't be scalped too much either

2) You're coming out of an airport and you don't want to have to deal with the aggressive taxi middle men

Buy yourself some time by sticking headphones in your ears or putting a phone next to your ear - like all the soccer players do in front of journos

3) BlueBird (careful - many lookalikes in Jakarta!) Silverbird, Express are safe bets when it comes to taxis - but everyone knows that eh?

4) You find arrive in a place like Banda Aceh airport which doesn't have metered taxis, let alone reputable taxi firms like BlueBird or Express

Before you jump into the car, make sure you agree how much you'll pay for the trip

5) Make sure taxi meters are switched on when you jump into the taxi - if there's a meter

6) Don't quibble too much over a couple of bucks, you're a foreigner, you're gonna pay a premium, deal with it

7) Angkots, buses, trains, becaks and bajajs rule! The surprising thing is, that often public transportation in Indonesia ain't half bad, you just need a little local knowledge to figure it out

8) Wherever you are in Indonesia you'll find honest people eager to help, however broken your Indonesian is they'll set you on the right path if you only ask! You'll also find scheisters, but touch wood, I've haven't had a bad experience yet in Indonesia

Anyone have anything else to add?


Want to see where all the space on your hard disk is going?

Check out Filelight!

(One of those invaluable Linux programs that's made its way to OS X)

Warren Buffett Interview

I love this fella! Seems to be a genuinely down to earth bloke.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Gods and Terrorists

Actually I had never wanted to live in New York. I wanted to live in Jakarta.

At one stage I quit my job to go to Indonesia. My boss at the time told me that that was nonsense and that I could always transfer to New York. So I decided to give New York a year.

And here I am, a year on, quite content. Great colleagues and great pals.

The best line I have heard about America in the past year, is that it was built for arriving - not leaving.

Yet there's something about Indonesia that draws me back. Whatever it is, it is terminal.

Unfortunately there are no outward signs of terminal Indonesia-itus. Therefore workmates ask me whether I will be going after the terrorist bombings and friends ask me whether I will still jump on the plane headed for Jakarta tomorrow in the wake of the earthquake in Padang and Pariaman.

I tell them that neither acts of terrorism nor acts of god will stop me from returning to that place.

It's special. I need to figure out how to communicate that to people who know no better.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Feeling and Expression

You cannot feel what you cannot express


You cannot express what you cannot feel

Monday, September 28, 2009


Yesterday I saw a film called Surrogates. I enjoyed it.

The film is set in the near future where most humans live through their robotic avatars. While you lie in bed you're hooked into a network through which you control a robot which you live through.

No risk of getting run over or contracting a sexually transmitted disease. You can control how your robotic avatar looks like, so you can be as skinny or as muscular and as attractive as you want.

All good sci-fi movies are about ideas.

Surrogates is about feeling, and how at the end of the day the main characters couldn't connect through their avatars. Surrogates is an allegory of the Whacko Jacko world that is Hollywood.

Unfortunately the movie missed the point.

A few years ago we saw shock and awe in Iraq; the first broadly remote controlled battle. If all you have to do is push a button, how much more likely will countries be willing to wage war when causalities may merely comprise of a remote control fighter pilot spilling coffee over himself in an office in Utah while he's bombing some far off country.

Jumping into bed with a robotic surrogate is less risky than jumping into bed with a flesh and blood self. Living out your Grand Theft Auto fantasies would also be risk free. Would we not seek ever more extremes if we inhabited and socialised through robotic avatars?

Do we need to feel or have some anticipation of emotional or physical pain in order to make moral choices? Would morality be watered down?

While I enjoyed Surrogates it did not push the envelope and explore the emotional disconnects which technology is bringing with it. Pity.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Clockwork Life

It's late. I am biting my finger nails. I have been biting and picking at them all night.

This is my worst habit. The tips of my fingers are slightly stinging and smarting. The ingested nail and skin makes me feel slightly off. My fingers end up looking like shit.

Ironically, I see myself as a relatively sane individual. In most of my actions I see cause and effect. My actions are mostly reasonable to the people and environments I find myself in. Except when it comes to biting my nails.

A week ago I was helping my flatmate fry her chicken. She snapped that I was doing it wrong; and I snapped back that she shouldn't yap so much. It was the first time I got angry in a long time. Perhaps it was the lack of food, it was 5ish and I hadn't eaten all day.

Self control is something I value; but sometimes the puppet strings snap and the mind loses control to emotion.

Most murderers for example fall into this category. Murder is rarely premeditated to any great degree, it is mostly perpetrated by people who would never contemplate such things until they find themselves in a particular situation where they lose control. I remember a hearing a psychiatrist say the biggest mistake murderers make is that beforehand they would not believe they are capable of such an act.

Perhaps the illusion of determinism helps us fool ourselves that our lives are somehow more structured and controlled than they really are. Imagine realising that we often cannot predict or control our own actions let alone another's; the uncertainty of when or where a tsunami will rip through our lives is a paralysing thought.

My boss was caught in a car accident last weekend. A large truck smashed into a car behind him while coming of the highway. Luckily for him the car behind him soaked up most of the impact of the crash. He came away unscathed but the driver of the other car will probably not live.

A moment's lapse and so many lives are adversely affected.

We build our societies and ourselves around notions of cause and effect even when something so whimsical can have calamitous reverberations. We have evolved to embrace the illusion of determinism but it comes with negative side effects.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kris Dreamin'

October 3rd. Indonesia.

I have only had one day off this year. Scary.

I am thinking about 'doing' Sumatra. Lampung, Padang and Banda Aceh.

Maybe Lhokseumawe too, because the town's name sounds like you swallowed something down the wrong way.

I have been watching the 'Ring of Fire' documentaries about Indonesia by two English monocle wearing toff brothers.

They must have been filmed on a shoe string because the film quality is not the best. They are enjoyable though and they're helping stoke my excitement over heading back to Indonesia again.

The first documentary is about the two brothers sailing in a rickety boat from Makassar to Papua. The old port and the brief glimpses of Makassar they shot way back in the 70s looked familiar.

Interestingly they stopped in South Eastern Sulawesi on the Kendari side and then Buton island. I have heard and seen so little of that part of the country.

I read online that after all of their free wheeling adventures into the wilderness, one of the brothers met his maker when he fell down a man hole here in the US. Crazy.

I saw the other brother sporting an eye patch instead of a monocle. (In one of the episodes he used traditional medicine to cure an eye infection. Poor bloke).

In any case, I have dreamt about being given a powerful kris by a Bugis merchant for several nights in a row now. I suppose I will have to keep dreaming for the time being.

The Enlightenment

The enlightenment started in the 18th century and ended in a concentration camp

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Monday, September 07, 2009

Halal Search

Make sure your search results are halal, by using

Interestingly 'orgy' seems to be halal. Erm, yay?

(Saw this on Shaden's site)

Saturday, September 05, 2009


Indonesian news is boring me. You know it must be silly season in the news when the major topic of current affairs is the Pendet dance.

Discovery channel may have put the dance in some infotainment piece on Malaysia, big deal, Discovery is lobotomised drool TV at the best of times.

Meanwhile in turn I must scroll through both equivocating and fulminating correspondent's words. Ughh, ughhh....

Let me say something about the so called nationalism and patriotism in Indonesia.

On the one hand it is infectious; on the other it is vile (a vile infection?).

On the one hand I see cute little kids waving Indonesian flags on the other hand I hear of troops in Papua being interviewed and hand wringingly telling the interviewer that they are there to ensure that the Papuans (aka the first to leave footprints on virgin archipelago soil) are 'nationalistic' enough.

The so called Pribumi evangelising nationalism to Papuans! You got to laugh!

On one side I see Indonesians pulling together in times of hardship, denouncing terrorists, speaking as one; on the other I see segregation between different cultures in Jakarta. I hear nasty words directed at Chinese; I hear lurid tales directed at pribumi. I hear Christians saying this and Muslims saying that.

Indonesia is a hotch potch. It's an collection of peoples that all happened to have succumbed to the lures of the Dutch (plus the Papuans and the Acehnese).

One sultanate wanted to overcome another; so the sultan handed over trading rights of their neighbour to the Dutch; they obliged and helped conquer the neighbouring sultanate.

Every so often a young upstart would pop up and rebel against the local authority, if they were somewhat successful, the Dutch popped around and sort them out so that the local sultan remained in power and the Dutch East Indies company could keep producing coffee or tobacco.

Just like many of Indonesia's modern leaders, local sultans appealed to peasant's loyalty in rhetoric but were ruthless in ensuring their ill gotten tithes when need be.

Nationalism and patriotism. Pah!

Thursday, September 03, 2009


I love building PCs. The last one I built was with my dad. He needed a new PC, we built a quad core PC especially for his photography needs. It's a really nice tailor made PC.

At the moment I own an iMac and an iPhone. I am itching to build a new computer, but both my iPhone and iMac cover all of my needs.

Someday I really want to build a BluRay playing TV recording PC that looks good beside a TV - but we have a DVR already and who uses BluRay when you have movies on demand?

A laptop is tempting, but I wouldn't have a need for it 95% of the time.

I have *zero* excuses for new computer hardware.

The only thing I can think of is using Amazon's cloud hosting services. Basically you can rent high powered CPU time and storage space from Amazon.

I have been hearing about small time websites hitting the big time.

There's,, to name but a few.

Now all I need is a decent idea! : ) How about a website where people can ask and answer questions about Indonesia? Or a site where economists can post up questions and have them answered by fellow economists.

By the way, I kinda like this site:

(at least the idea behind it, unsure whether it hits the spot really well though).

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


I hear women are not allowed to cover their faces while praying in Mecca.

Shurely that means something?

(I realise hijabs don't cover faces, just want to claim hijabdashery as my own invention before anyone else thinks of it!)

The Health of Nations

Apparently the wealth of a nation does not not have much of an effect on how healthy its population is, once clean water and sufficient food is taken care of.


I was talking to my mother last weekend about my ancestors. We were looking at the Irish census of 1911, she could tell me where each and everyone of my ancestors were on that night back in 1911.

It is amazing how many stories I have either forgotten or have not heard of.

My great aunt died at boarding school. My great grand father died after immigrating to Australia soon after that night.

Two servants were in our old farm house on that night in 1911.

Early death, immigration and servants. Reminds me of Indonesia.


Being brought up by a loving family and having good friends are two very important factors for longevity and well being.

It is interesting how people get wrapped so up in cramming brain cells full of useless creativity-blowing-education; throw themselves into well-paid-imagination-sucking-jobs; when in fact they should be spending time going down to the pub with their pals or playing with their kids.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Anecdotal Evidence

I lost my iPhone in the back of a cab a few weeks ago, I was very disappointed in myself.

Then my thoughts turned to the populace in New York. What percentage of people would find an iPhone and return it?

50/50 maybe? 60/40 or 40/60?

The girl who found my phone gave it back to me two days later.

My anecdotal evidence suggests that you have a good chance of finding people in New York that are altruistic. Nice feeling.

(Btw a few weeks beforehand I returned a wallet to a girl who left it on the subway, so maybe karma had a hand in my phone finding its way back to me also)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

Bitching Westerners

Westerners pay more for stuff in Indonesia.

A westerner's average salary are mostly many times for than the average Indonesian yearly wage ($2-3k?).

I don't mind people complaining, it's a national past time in Germany for example, and I have lived there quite happily for years.

The thing is, once you hand over your cash, you have no one to bitch about but yourself.

Someone hoodwinks you? You are the idiot! You don't like higher prices, don't pay them, no one is sticking a gun to your head!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A New Hobby

Last week I was walking down my street.

I am minding my own business when I spot a couple walking towards me.

A handsome guy and a pretty girl.

As I approach I lower my eyes, I demur.

Just as I am about to pass, I catch the girl's eyes.

Her eyes are first lazily stuck on me; then widen in shock; and finally dart away. Hahaha : )

I think I have found a new hobby.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Indonesian Toursim Ad

Have not seen this one before. Via Brett.

Beguiling Bali

The Beeb has a nice piece about Bali. If you have never been to Bali be sure to take a read or listen.

A week after the bombing in Jakarta, it's inspiring to see Indonesia's friends around the world strike back with positivity.

Over Analyse This

I often over hear my flatmate and her pals talking about men.

They dissect every detail when it comes to men they are interested in. Every word, every inflection is examined in minute detail.

Does this increase their understanding of menkind?

No. Cos we men are a bit thick, so we say stuff that we do not think over, stuff just comes out.

I saw the first ten minutes of 'He's Just not that into You' coming back from Germany on the plane last weekend. Awful movie, but from what I could make out, the central idea is pretty sound: no need to over analyse, men are pretty bloody straight forward beings.

Thing is, I think it's the same thing when it comes to foreigners thinking about Indonesians. Sure Indonesians have foibles, but the basics are the same. Foreigners try to over analyse, in an effort to make up for their lack of language skills and lack of experience. They take small samples of behaviour and extrapolate using all of their considerable cognitive powers.

Do long term expat analysers of Indonesia have much greater insight than your average open minded back packer off the boat from Singapore? I doubt it.

While Indonesians are of course Indonesian, they are also people first and foremost (i.e. not some strain of alien life form). It strikes me that not only do many expats bark up the wrong tree when it comes to understanding Indonesians, their analysis smells like Edward Said's Orientalism.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Avoid Indonesia?

My flatmates and I went out to a great Indian restaurant last night.

The inevitable question came up, would I still be going to Indonesia this October?

Damn right I will!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bombings in Jakarta

Speaking as a 'bule' this only increases my solidarity with Indonesia and Indonesians.

Times like these bring people closer together, instead of breeding terror these acts will help us become more courageous, defiant and empathetic.

Also, I agree with Megawati.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Recursive Reflections

Every one introspects.

I remember reading a quote years ago from Marcel Proust about how introspection drives people insane (and he should know).

We are am caught up in ourselves. My mind is always checking in on itself, it's like a never ending echo.

Thing is, why do we navel gaze? Is it necessarily a bad thing? Is it useful?

Do we learn that much about ourselves or do we end up staring at recursive mirror images of how we imagine ourselves to be? Is introspection just plain vanity?

Monday, July 13, 2009

No Lube Please!

The KPK (Indonesia's anti-corruption KGB) have been going through some hard times.

I went on a date recently where the topic of Batman came up and being an Indonesia geek I made the connection between Antasari and Harvey Dent. Perhaps Antasari is more like Two-Face, I do not know, personally I am still giving him the benefit of the doubt.

In any case, today I spot that SBY wants less friction between the KPK and the police. The KPK have one objective, root out corruption, friction between the KPK and (let's face it) every other governmental institution is assured.

The more friction the better!

Thursday, July 09, 2009


I woke up today (or was it yesterday) and was listening to the radio (BBC Radio 1).

The news was on (I love Radio 1 news, really punchy) they came to this story (one of those heart dropping ones).

I think I am particularly susceptible to sad stories early in the day (I wonder why?).

This girl in the UK. I think she must have had a boyfriend who was in some sort of gang.

Anyway, this girl (I wonder whether she was she good looking) was fancied by another guy (I wonder what eh thought of her?).

The third party's infatuation must have been somewhat public (or somehow obvious).

The girl met up with the guy that was infatuated with her (what did they talk about? Idle chit chat?).

She brought him to her boyfriend and his gang.

They killed him.

She was sentenced as an accessory to murder.

How utterly tragic that love be so twisted.

(A plot that Shakespeare could have come up with in one of his tragedies...)

The Desktop

Microsoft is releasing Windows 7 sometime soon.

The hype is growing, Windows 7 however is Vista with the kinks straightened out, the OS that Vista should have been 2 or 3 years ago. At work we still use Windows XP, and there is not one feature that we are missing, no killer reason to update.

The only reason that we will eventually update will be when Microsoft stop releasing security updates for XP. There you have it, that is how Microsoft create value for their customers - security updates. The rest is marketing pizazz. Think of Vista or Windows 7 as big, expensive security updates.

In fact forking over money for XP gave you the chance to have a couple of more years of security updates than sticking with Windows 2000. Windows 2000 was the first OS which Microsoft got relatively stable, that was the killer feature (when you think of it stability shouldn't be a feature it should be a requirement!) and Microsoft have been struggling to find a compelling feature for every release since.

Apple of course are going down the same route. The Linux desktops are similar, but people are willing to experiment and take more risks so there is always something interesting happening around Linux (whether it's useful or not is another thing).

I do not want to sound like that guy that wanted to close all patent offices in the US at the turn of the century because he couldn't see any innovations coming, however slowly but surely the desktop (alongside many other types of software apps) is becoming commoditised. There have been few (if any) compelling new features on desktops anywhere in the last ten years or so.

The desktop has ceased to become a moving target. Pretty much every platform is on an equal standing.

Google recently announced Google OS. It's aimed at netbooks, which makes sense, Google's online apps only cover the basics. Point is whether it is nimble enough (it will compete against a one size fits all Windows 7 for the most part) and hits all the right points that netbook users look for. If so, it could well carve out a niche for itself.

This is the message everyone should be taking away from Google's announcement. Where once no one in their right mind would look to tread on Microsoft's patch, the desktop is not a moving target anymore. There are so many niche's which Microsoft will be too cumbersome to serve, and perhaps then we will then see innovation kick started again.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Mind Numbing

I keep on reading about how bloggers are ambivalent about this year's election(s).

They're pseudo-intellectual dilly dallying is lazy thinking. It makes me want to puke. Who wants to read about middle aged political angst? Nobody.

We all know that Indonesia is far from perfect. We also know that somewhat democractic elections are one of the best things that have happened in Indonesia since its inception.

Things are slowly getting better. That's how democracies work, there are no great leaps forward.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Marriage is so Gay

I saw a movie called Arisan last night. It's been sitting under the TV for weeks (as it seems do any the gay themed DVDs I get from Netflix (2 and counting ; )) obviously I am not secure enough in my machoness).

In any case, Arisan seems pretty quaint when watching in New York. It is a soap opera movie (Indonesian movies often have a made-for-TV-look) with dollops of melodrama.

However it does have an edge.

It is about a guy coming out and all the dysfunctional straight relationships his pals have. Interestingly, he's Batak (I had a Bakak pal who was gay as Christmas, but was officially straight last time I checked in with him, I suppose Batak are traditionally obsessed with having ancestors which makes things tougher).

The thing is, however rustic Arisan seems from the vantage point I have here in Manhattan there is still an ongoing gay rights struggle here in the US.

It revolves around gay marriage. One side says that gay people should not be discriminated against by the state when it comes to marriage. The other side argues that married gay people will destroy the family.

I think the anti-discrimination side of the argument is pretty self explanatory. The 'pro-family' side of the argument is sorta swathed in hand waving mystery.

I am straight. If I ever do get hitched, I do not understand how a random gay couple down the road would have a negative impact on my family.

The other argument is that once you allow gay marriage, gay couples adopting cannot be far behind, and the kids they care for will be somehow dysfunctional. I do not see any evidence that a gay couple is any less capable of rearing a family than a straight couple. There are many dysfunctional straight families out there (cf. Arisan) and many orphans looking for caring parents, it's a no brainer.

Fundamentally, some conservatives worry that losing this discriminatory law will become another implicit approval of homosexuality by society. No matter how much hand waving they do, that is the point. No longer are gay people marginalised; driven to have relationships in the shadows; they are becoming vibrant part of the mainstream. That is the big worry, that some conservative's homophobic teachings increasingly fall on deaf ears.

I do not think the state should have any say in certifying marriage. Two (or more) adults should be able to marry in whatever combination they wish, the state's role is superfluous. If fundamentalist Christians prefer only straight marriages in their churches that is fine, but no one should have a monopoly on marriage.

Swine Fu

Apparently up to 5% have contracted swine flu.

I myself had a bout of flu before it blew up in the press. It was a pretty strong dose, but it only lasted 2 days, which was strange.

Swine flu had caused a couple of deaths here but I do not think it's that many more than usual, it's just that this time around we have a name for it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I remember moving to Germany when I was 18. For the first few weeks my life was in a state of flux, it was exciting but I craved routine, lo and behold it came in time.

Same thing when I came here. Now I have a routine I need to mix things up a bit.

What I have been thinking of doing is break my routine up by adding a new routine for a week.

So a few weeks ago I blogged every day for 7 days.

The week after that I messaged a new person on this dating website everyday (not too successful).

I am looking for a new routine for next week. Perhaps starting work at 7:30 as I used to in Dublin (but there I had to wake up before 6, here I could wake up at 7:25 and still get into work on time ; )).

Any suggestions for routine busting routines are welcome! : )

Shutdown and Standby in OS X

I have been looking for ways to put OS X to sleep and switch it off on a timer.

I am a fan of listening to radio while I go asleep, but not that keen on having it on throughout the night.

I couldn't find a decent app to do the job, but surprise surprise the classic Unix commands are in OS X.

So, you want to shutdown the computer in 60 minutes?


shutdown -h +60

into the terminal.

Want to put it to sleep in 30 minutes?


shutdown -s +30

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Adopt a Cat

(In Jakarta)

I am a Feminist

OK, just wanted put the "I am a Feminist" thing out there up front.

But... there's always a but... let me say something about women and work (in response to Delvi).

Women often get paid less and are discriminated against when hired.

Why is this?

Many societies are male dominated and men bring their prejudices to the table when it comes to hiring women.

There is another reason though. Women are statutorily given time off when they are pregnant and are more likely to choose to leave their careers and bring their kids up.

These are good things.

However it makes women more expensive to hire. If I hire a woman there is a chance I will have to pay for her pregnancy leave, and a chance that after investing time in training her up she will leave my company. This is costly, and it has an impact on hiring and compensation decisions.

You can argue how much of an impact such considerations have, but there is undoubtedly an impact.

Some European countries have tried to mitigate this difference by allowing men the same statutory time off as women, allowing them maternity leave. This goes some way to even things up, however men generally opt to take less time off than women, and women are still more likely to leave their careers to bring up their kids.

Also, such laws end up making men more expensive to hire and therefore can contribute to higher unemployment.

There's a lot of scope to reduce sexism in the workplace, but some decisions are due to hard coded social mores rather than outright prejudice.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Word from Tehran

(via the Beeb)

I was part of the protest in Valiasr Square. When we got there, there were riot police and plain clothes guards shooting at people, I could see that people had been shot and were on the ground. There were also water cannons. We decided to head towards Azadi Square, and there were guards on motorbikes and attacking people with batons.

There were thousands of people out on the streets the police were using tear gas - the whole experience was terrifying. Towhid (Unity) Square looked like a battle ground.

There were lots of female protestors - I saw a guard attack one women and then she went back up to him and grabbed him by the collar and said 'why are you doing this? Are you not an Iranian?' - he was totally disarmed and didn't know what to do but her actions stopped him.

There were no ambulances around - people were helping each other - helping the wounded - taking them to safety away from further attacks.
Siavash, Tehran, Iran

Plain clothes guards were carrying batons, and some riot police were blocking protesters from entering the square. The guards used tear gas to push the crowds back. This battle went on for about an hour with the protestors moving forwards then back. The crowd was dispersed when about 50 or 60 guards on motorcycles drove into the crowd dispersing them completely. There were about a thousand or so people there, mostly young people. I left shortly after.
Siamak, Tehran

My friends told me that in front of Sattar Khan Street, forces were telling people on megaphones: go away before the basijis attack you. My friends are saying many of the people in Enghelab Square are holding copies of the Koran, and are chanting. People are running away through side streets but these forces who are well armed are waiting for them there too. The street is filled with smoke, and the local underground station (Darvaze Dowlat) is also full of soldiers, and they are chasing after defenceless people. There are helicopters from Enghelab Square to Azadi Square.

Today is a different day. I and my friends may never return home. We want the world to at least picture our being killed on streets to help democracy in iran and save the world. Pray for us.
Farshid, Tehran, Iran

Today we tried to join the protestors in Azadi and Enghelab square, but every route that we tried was blocked by the police. The plain clothed forces are all Sepah (revolutionary guards), as most of them have the Sepah badge on their clothes. In Sattar Khan I saw with my own eyes two ordinary 40-year-old women being beaten severely with electric batons, for nothing but raising their voice in protest.
Ehsan, Tehran

I am around Enghelab Square now. There is plenty of Basijiis armed with batons and steel cables standing at the beginning and end of each of the surrounding streets. Their numbers are high. Plenty of them are gathered in Amir Abad street, and I see lots of people going towards Enghelab Street. Ahmad - Tehran

Thousands of police men have gathered and closed all streets that ends main squares. But people have gathered to go to the areas.Ali, Tehran

We set out around 3pm to go to Enghelab Square, but from four different directions our way was blocked. There were riot polices and plain clothed basijis with batons and vans and water cannons blocking the way. From 4pm the crowds started to gather and grow larger. The crowds went towards Azadi Square with their hands in the air in a sign of victory but they were silent. Police blocked the crowds and then started attacking them first with batons then with guns, the crowds stated running away and there were lots of women screaming, it was very frightening.Anon, Tehran

Anti-riot police are hiding in an elementary school building in Jamalzadeh street, they came out, beat up people and dragged them into the building, it's getting nastier as it goes on. Protestors are not afraid at all, they get beaten, they disperse and come together in larger group in a minute. People have learnt lots of tricks during last week and came up with much guts today. Helicopters can be seen all over the sky and I can see smoke rising from different parts of the central part. They beat people up brutally not knowing that they get more and more angry and used-to such behaviour!
Mania, Tehran, Iran

We will continue to protest and we have several reasons to do so. First because we demand our rights. Second because were not afraid. Third - we will not be fooled. And fourth - in this way, the true face of this regime will be revealed to the whole world.
Iman, Iran

Thursday, June 18, 2009

iPhone 3G S

I will get one tomorrow, and the best thing is that I am not typing this in my sleeping bag outside of the Soho Apple store.

No, I have hired a homeless bloke to sleep out side for me, and wait in line. I am sure to be the first iPhone 3G S owner in New York! : ) My only worry is that someone buys my homeless bloke off or he goes and takes a piss at some inopportune moment and my place gets taken.

The problem with the new iPhone will look exactly like e.v.e.r.y. other bloody iPhone ever made. How can I show off? Apple you change iPods every year, forcing hipsters to upgrade accordingly. What's the point in buying the latest and greatest iPhone if I cannot show it off?

Any ideas how I can make sure everyone knows I have the new iPhone? Use the video feature non-stop? Make use of the compass to tell people which way is north? Use the "voice control" feature to dictate snotty text messages to my homies? MMS my blog with pictures of me picking my nose?

My dad's 3 year old phone has all of those features, plus a built in torch. Hopefully a torch will be included in the iPhone 3G T, due out next year; then followed by the iPod Torch. Genius.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I have been reading about people who are not going to vote in the up coming Indonesian presidential election, they are going to be 'Golput'.

They are effing idiots!

I kinda understand how rotten to the core Indonesian politicians are. Indonesia is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, even ignoring that, Indonesian politicians tend to be some of the biggest dicks in the world.

I would also want to have very little to do with any Indonesian politician, let alone vote for one.

Consider the recent Iranian presidential elections however. Each of the candidates were hand picked by the supreme leader, Ali Khameni. From all accounts Ali Khameni is a pretty conservative, hard line bloke (Ahmadinejad is his right hand guy).

Each of the candidates he chose follow his general policies; they only differ in shades of shadiness.

Yet, the more reform minded, liberal leaning people have sided with Mousavi and swept him to power (unfortunately a coup has stopped him from actually taking power). I doubt Mousavi is a reformist himself (he has enough blood on his hands while he was president back in the 80s).

It seems now though, that the people have given him his manifesto, rather than the other way around. It also sends out a message to other people in power what they need to do to appeal to the Iranian people.

Indonesian politicians might be greedy, but they are not dumb, you have to send them message they will understand at the ballot box. You have to make them compete for this and future votes.

If each presidential candidate is corrupt vote for the least corrupt; if each is a war criminal (I still think there's more to SBY btw!) vote for the one that has ordered fewer rapes, mass murders and torture sessions; if each is a selfish megalomaniac vote for the least selfish megalomaniac.

Voting is one of the few ways you have to change things for the better in your country.

Golputs want things to stay the same or are fucking idiots. Don't be an eejit.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

German Graffiti in Dublin

The Be Erhard poster reminded me of a piece of graffiti outside a building site in Dublin.

It was in German, saying something like, "Germany doesn't allow Eastern Europeans work there, Ireland shouldn't either".


Ok enough complaining about German related stuff. I loved my time there, it's a fantastic place to go to college : )

Be Erhard!

Saw this poster just off Wall Street the other day.

I suppose it's some kinda publicity stunt for some sorta German lobby group.

In any case, my first reaction was how effing arrogant for a German group to tell American how to solve the financial crisis (btdubs, Germany hasn't been a Wirtschaftswunder for about 20 or 30 years!). I thought the same a few years back when Americans used to come to Europe and proclaim how American economic policies were the way forward.

The reality is we're all groping in the dark, there are few clearly better ways to improve everybody's welfare.


Lebanon's Hezbollah lost their election, Ahmadinajad probably lost the Iranian election too, but it sounds like the Iranian election was rigged.

I wonder how much Obama's recent speech and general Mr. Nice Guy policy has influenced the atmosphere in the Middle East. His approach makes the US less part of the problem and sharpens the focus on the US's traditional opponents in the Middle East.

The question now is, what do you do when an election has been robbed. Do you continue the pillow talk with the Iranian regime? Having made his keynote speech in Cairo, Obama showed that he is comfortable dealing with autocratic regimes when he feels it necessary.

Does he stay the course with Ahmadinajad showing a realpolitik pragmatism? Whatever the US government does, it will be interesting to see how the fallout in Iran evolves.

I feel for people over there, it looks like they are caught between a rock and a hard place.

New Glasses

New glasses. What do you think? They cost an arm and a leg but I think they were worth it!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

East Timor's Lost Children

My Sis

Hello again.

I walked home from Alphabet City tonight.

It must've taken an hour or more to get all the way down to the financial district where I live.

Most of the way, I was walking through China town. My favourite part of the city. Restaurants and other miscellanea open 24 hours a day even in the most deserted parts of China town. Nice to think that you can order crab live from the tank, that will be served fresher than you are after a night out.

My sister Skyped me today. She broke up with her boyfriend of 3 years. At times she broke into tears, she was telling me that she stayed the same but asked why wasn't he the same.

Having a little experience of break ups myself, I suggested a few things, trying the be the best big brother I could be. I am not sure whether it will be of any help, I am not sure how helpful words are when dealing with one of the most painful events you can go through.

Between you and me though, in truth I look up to my small sister (a whole 9 years younger than me). She's a very together, tough, smart and genuinely nice girl (niceness is too often underrated); I am sure this break up will only maker her tougher, smarter and a better person in the long term. In the mean time I feel her pain.

My brains are swimming through beer. Night.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Agony Aunt

It is Friday night. I am drunk.

Unfortunately the new iPhones are not available yet, otherwise I would be tapping up this post while holding up a bar somewhere in deepest darkest Manhattan.

Not to worry. Luckily I came home in fact, to sort out the love lives of the women in my life.

My roomie got a random phone call from an ex colleague asking her out. She did not know what to do, I picked up her phone and told him that I would gladly meet him at a local gay bar.

I wonder if he is there now. Do not worry, I am not in the least bit tempted! : )

Then a pal (pretty cute to boot!) hailing from Jakarta asked me what she should do about her cheating boyfriend. After much humming and hawing I booked her on a flight over here next week.

I am the best relationship problem solver I know, quick to the point, no beating about the bush with me. So much so, that I have decided to start an agony aunt feature on my blog, shoot me some emails about your relationships and I shall fix you up quick sharp (in the strictest confidence of course).

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Falling down Indonesia's social ladder

Excellent article.


So now that I am on this dating website, I received and sent 2 or 3 messages over the last few days to a miss vh...

Now nothing! (for ~24 hours)

The rejection is killing me, I am very bad at rejection, but I suppose that's the whim and weft of life. Keeps things interesting. George Clooney must be bored out of his tree.

She's still pals with my flatmate, but ultimately, REJECTION. Gah!

Anyhow, this is my rejection anthem, I played it repeatedly during a rather painful breakup a few years back.

Enjoy! (in a kinda masochistic way, obviously)

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Straight to Hell

Mother of two Prita Mulyasari gets sent to the klinck for complaing about the care she received in hospital.

She went in with dengue fever and the hospital treated her for mumps. Then she writes to a mailing list about her experiences, then gets put in the slammer.

Btw, extra points for anyone who knows which recent pop song samples the Clash song Straight to Hell : )

Insouciant Qualities

[These daily posts are getting tough]

Ok, do you think describing some Indonesian slum kids as having an "insouciant quality" sounds kinda pompous?

Well I wrote that somewhere last night. Strange how inconsistent people can be; sometimes I am pompous; sometimes a liar; sometimes an arrogant so and so; sometimes a great listener and sometimes pretty effin smart.

Suppose you gotta accept the good with the bad. I least I have Willy Mason's "If The Ocean Gets Rough" to help me through.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


I read today that criticism shows that people still care (lack of criticism means they've given up on you).

Boss, I know you read this, the lack of criticism lately is fine by me! : )

Dating Website

It's official. I have joined a dating website.

I had sworn that I never would join a dating website (cos they're sort of daggy I suppose) but in a trademark Mr-Burns-style-change-of-heart (and cos of one of my roomie's best pals) I signed up.

Why the hell why not, eh? Thing is, I am not sure what to do on there... chatting up girls through websites sounds kinda awkward, ah well, suppose can't hurt to give it a shot. Tips appreciated! : )

Monday, June 01, 2009

Free Coldplay Album

Coldplay have a free live album on their site click here to download.


Over the weekend I heard a theory that the more you write, articulate and verbalise things the better you become at understanding yourself.

I find thinking about myself pretty abhorrent (its a minefield) but there is something about the process of writing in general. I suppose it secures ephemeral ideas, nails them down in black and white, whatever worth that is.

This week I will endeavour to write a post a day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thousands beaten, raped in Irish reform schools

Lots of people were asking me about this today. Thing is I probably know more about this Madiun crash, OK maybe not.

In any case, Ireland's history should be a warning to everybody about mixing religion with government and the judiciary. People of religious authority could do anything they wanted without question, how some evil people took advantage of that.

Religion is all well and good, the trick is to remember that people representing their gods are still ultimately fallible people. They are no closer to god than you or I (well I am an atheist).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Booking Flights

I have booked several flights in the last week or so.

I just rediscovered today. What a site!!

I was losing my tether with Singapore Airline's site (for some unknown reason they would not accept my card). They had flights from NYC to Jakarta for $1250, which I thought was an amazing price. So I rang up their sales line but their operators in India could not make out what I was saying (terrible line).

I hung up rang again, same bloody problem. What shoddy shoddy service! The website didn't want to take my money, the call centre operators could not make out what I was saying.

A colleague then suggested, straight away it suggested trying Emirates. Everything was booked in under 10 minutes. Plus the flight only has one stop, plus it cost me only $1035! Emirates seem to be best bet flying to Jakarta from New York (whereas Etihad, their Abu Dhabi neighbours are definitely the best from Dublin).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

For a while now I have been thinking of doing a blog about the importance of freedom of movement, immigration and all that Jazz.

Haven't put much effort into yet, but hopefully some day I will add to it.

If anyone sees any interesting immigration articles, please let me know!

Questions from Kids in Germany

A pal of mine asked me to answer some of her classes questions about life in New York. I reckon she may have to edit some of the answers : )


1. Many people say NY is great, but they forget the poor people there. You always see the great things. But is it easy to become a part of the societ there or can you move to a lower level in the society very quickly?

Poor people are not forgotten in America.

In fact I suspect Americans have more of a sense of an individual's public responsibility and charitableness than many Europeans. Europeans expect their governments to take care of the less fortunate, whereas Americans take it upon themselves to look after the disadvantaged. I am not sure which way is better, there are pros and cons to both ways of thinking.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that America does have a slippery social slope. For example a colleague of mine recently told me that his mother requires hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical treatment, which would bankrupt many middle class families. Luckily for my colleague he and his family are wealthy enough to have good health insurance cover, something which can be costly in itself.

On the other hand, America provides a hand up to many people that are poor but hard working. There is a culture of hard work and an openness to immigrants which unfortunately Europe lacks.

2. You always hear that it's very stressful in New York. Is it easy for somebody new, alone, to be alright in the huge city?

Moving to any new place can be difficult. Magdeburg was a difficult place for me to move to when I first arrived! New York isn't stressful, as long as you choose to work and hang out with non-stressful people : ) Just like anywhere I suppose. The really cool thing about New York is that you can hang out with people from anywhere in the world and you can work in any industry. There is a lot of choice!

3. Is it difficult to find a job or to find new friends?

I was sent here by my company, so I have no experience of looking for a job here. I suppose it's never too difficult to find a job, it just depends what you are willing to do.

As for making friends. I have made a few good friends while I have been here, but because I am working crazy hours I am not getting out and about as much as I'd like.

4. How do the prices of apartments compare to Germany?

I pay $xxxx, and I am sharing with 2 other people. But it's a nice apartment in Manhattan, which is the most expensive area of New York. You can pay a lot less if you are willing to live in Queens, The Bronx or Brooklyn.

I have been looking at apartments for $xxxx or so. Which I could afford, but I am a cheapskate at heart (I still remember my lovely xxx Euro studio on Werder : ) - Magdeburg's Manhattan!).

5. Is it difficult to find an apartment?

I chose the first apartment I saw. So it was pretty easy. It all depends on what kind of budget you're on I suppose and how picky you are of course!

6. It NY really so free and wonderful as the people say it is?

Free and wonderful? As in Sex and the City free and wonderful? How ever you define your free and wonderful, you can find it here, you just have to be patient : )

7. Was it easy to get used to all of the people and to the crowded streets?

It was not difficult. Mainly because there are lot of very good looking women on the most crowded (shopping) streets.

8. Is it easy to make friends there or is it difficult to find friends because there are so many people?

I have heard people complain that it is difficult to make friends here. I have not found that. It's like any big city I suppose, you meet a lot of people and can be hard to make good friendships.

9. Is NY very different to other cities in the U.S.?

I have only been to three cities in the US. Boston, Seattle and San Francisco. Each one has its own flavour. But at the end of the day you have your own group of friends, colleagues, usual haunts and office. You only ever live in small nooks and crannies of any city, a city means different things to different people.

For example, I used to hang out at Moonlight in Alteneustadt way too much : )

10. Is it difficult to find a good job?

It is always difficult to find a good job, wherever you go. The good thing about New York is that there are so many niche industries you at least have a good chance to find something that matches what you are passionate in.

11. Is it really so dirty in New York?

New york is smelly, grimey, dirty. But that's all part of the character! By the way, there's a good song by the Pogues called "Dirty Old Town" which is about my hometown and well worth checking out!

12. Have you visited the Empire State building? Is it worth seeing?

I haven't gotten the chance to go there yet. Actually I have heard that The Rock at the Rockefeller Center is better and has smaller queues.

13. What is your overall opinion of New York?

It's the best place I have lived, without a doubt. But my mood changes from week to week. I shall keep you posted! ; )

14. Why did you choose to live in New York?

Well, because I wanted to travel a bit, see something new (and keep my job). The opportunity came up, I took it.

15. How do the people differ to those in Europe?

There are many Europeans here! If another Italian tourist asks me where I got my Abercrombie and Fitch hoodie or my jeans I think I will clock him...

But seriously people are mostly the same all over the world. They care about their family, complain about their jobs and think about sex most of the time.

16. Was it hard to integrate yourself?

No. The great thing about being a foreigner in any country (Germany included) is that when you say something stupid or untoward people automatically think it's an Irish thing. Girls give you a lot more leeway!

17. Is it difficult to find your way around the city?

It can be. When I first got here, I couldn't find my way to my apartment. I had to ask some people, and they were all very friendly. It reminded me of my first days in Magdeburg and I knew I was going to like this place.

18. As a tourist what sights would you recommend visiting?

The Met Museum and a dive bar. There's Nassau Bar near me, which is a "bikini bar", you lot are probably way to young for that one. There also Jeremy's Ale House near the South Street Seaport, probably not best to go there with your parents either.

19. Do you like the life in New York or is the city too big?

As I think I mentioned above, you only ever live in small parts of New York, otherwise you would go completely insane in the membrane. The biggest advantage to livng in New York (and any big city) is that if you want to best Italian food you can go to little Italy in The Bronx; if you want to see world pop groups perform every week you can see 'em in Madison Square garden 20 minutes away on the Subway; if you want to buy the whole line of Hello Kitty clothing there's a Hello Kitty shop 25 minutes away in Times Square.

20. Describe your opinion about the night life?

I love the variety of neighbourhoods; from edgy to posh; chilled to hectic. The bars and clubs are mostly cheaper than Ireland. The girls are hot, plus they like Irish accents, what more can I say!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Twenty Years Since the Dismantling of the Iron Curtain

Having lived in East Germany for years, I am fascinated about the death of communism in Europe. From all the stories I have heard, it that time sounds familiar and yet so alien.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Bizarro Blog Whackiness, Part 1

I have decided to have a new segment in my log which highlights whacky blog posts.

If nothing else, it will feed the troll in me.


Jakartass is like the granddaddy of Indonesian expat bloggers. And like all grandparents, every so often he comes out with the most whacky old timer bull.

This time he says:

"I'm not an advocate of market forces."

OK, fair enough. But what are you an advocate of? Hippy astrological love forces?

In most cases being anti "neo-liberal" (I still don't understand what that means! I suppose put neo in front of any word and it becomes evil sounds, neo-hippy's anybody?) is like being anti anything, it's all well and good being against something, but what are you for? What is your plan for love, happiness and donuts?

I have read Das Kapital (in the original German) where Karl Marx lays out a plan for a global utopia. Spoiler alert! There's worryingly little religion or sex in this Marxist utopia. Actually, I reckon there's a gap in the meme market for Marxism with extra sex. How about this, Marxist manga with lots of hentai!

I shall coin it "neo-Marxism". A Marxism for cosmo readers and people that make their own fair trade hemp clothing.

Anyway, back to Jakartass, he tells us that Thatcherism is now global in the form of the IMF and ADB yada yada -- apart from North Korea! Good old Kim Jong Il, I bet he'd never contemplate a poll tax or borrowing from the evil IMF. Spoiler alert! It turns out the Kim Jong Il runs the IMF!

In any case, skepticism of neo-liberalism is healthy (I am sure neo-liberalism was coined by lefties in order to have something to worry about!) as is being sceptical of any ideology. We live in a less than ideal world after all.

There are many examples where free markets fail miserably at providing a reasonable standard of living to societies. In fact that is what economists busy themselves doing, fixing up markets to increase people's welfare (that and trying to relate moral hazard to everything).

Economics is a science not an ideology, because free market (e.g. libertarian) and interventionist (e.g. socialist) ideas are mixed and matched to come up pragmatic way to improve people's welfare.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Finding New Music

The first two CD albums my bro and I bought were Pulp's Different Class and Radiohead's The Bends. They took a while to grow on me. I remember choosing the Bends cos it seemed to have so many stars and 5/5s on the cover I reckoned I couldn't go wrong. It must've taken me a good 2 months to "get it" though. Definitely a grower (at least to a 14 or 15 year old me) but then again I didn't have enough money to buy any other albums, so I was stuck with it.

But buying listening to something new, something that none of my pals had, was, err, cool!

I am still the same, I love listening to new stuff. Few or zero preconceptions, no expectations and the chance of stumbling across the best thing since the last best thing.

Today I used to do some musical exploration. is like a musical version of Facebook.

It saves all the songs you play, so you can look up what your most listened to track, albums or artists are.

Even better, you can look at what other users are listening to and even listen to their 'radio station' (i.e. their music collection).

I often listen to my bro's station to check up on what he's listening to and my own while at work and want a bigger selection than the iPod.

Apparently my bro and I have a really similar 'musical compatibility'. I always thought his taste and mine were pretty different, but then again it's all relative I suppose.

I checked out what my favourite DJ's been playing recently and bought a handful of albums. Unfortunately, I am too lazy/busy to listen to his show regularly now.

Anyone know of a decent DJ (especially Indonesian) with a account? Would love to keep more up to date with Indonesian music (and music in general...).

Maybe I should subscribe to some music review websites. Any suggestions?

How do you find new music?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Clowns without Borders

Love this blog.

Really inspiring to see the difference one bloke (a clown no less) can make!

Makes you wonder.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Eastward or Westward?

Woke up late.

Read too many blog posts throughout the day. I still have blog posts 'starred' in Google reader dating back to the beginning of January. Dunno why I feel beholden to read 'em as I am sure their authors have long forgotten them.

Tried to go to Century 21, closed. Tried to go to Macy's. Closed. Didn't even bother going to B&H, cos I know that's closed for about a week around passover.

So much for New York being the HQ of global capitalism! I want my money back! I am sure shopper's in Ireland aren't subected to shops being closed on Easter Sunday!

I walked all the way back from 34th street. A good hour or so walking. With the wind it was pretty chilly too!

Seeing how Hell's Kitchen melts into Meat Packing District into Chelsea into Greenwich Village into Tribeca into the dreaded Financial district (it really ain't that bad when you live here, and don't scoot in and out every day!).

Was thinking how women can verbalise stuff so well, especially when it comes to relationships. But just cos they verbalise all this stuff with their pals, doesn't mean they're not way off the effin beam when it comes to men.

Walked by a homeless guy telling people how different they are. "You got glasses". "You're fat". "You're wearing purple shoes". Etc etc. Sometime I think these guys are more lucid than us drones walking past 'em.

I remember I used to walk by a homeless bloke most days coming home from work in Dublin. He was an old chubby bloke, clean shaven looked like he could be you local bank branch manager. He slept beside our parliament building. One day he was telling the world about how someone told him that when he'd grow up he'd be OK, and then he asked well what now?

I and any number of hurried commuters should ask the same thing about ourselves.

I came home, and started thinking about holiday planning. My sis has been on to me about going home, but Ireland doesn't interest me. I just end up doing nothing back there (which has its advantages too!).

My uncle suggested I go visit him in Vancouver. My pals are having an anniversary in Germany. And above all I wanna go to Indonesia. I have an urge to visit Lampung this time around.

So I was wondering, how about an around the world trip. New York -> Vancouver -> Jakarta -> Duesseldorf -> New York. Probably too masochistic, even for me : ) And travelling eastward might be gentler when it comes to jet lag.

Which way would be best to go? Eastward or westward?

I have Brokeback mountain from Netflix. Have had it for a couple of weeks now, still can't bring myself to watch it...


Delvi on her experiences with galodo.

Everyone's Askin

Everyone's asking me which part I voted for.

Dunno why everyone's so interested, so here you go, it is Gerindra.

Now I want to hear no more about it!

Different Times

Aston Villa Church Bible Class formed a football team in 1874 and the members of St Domingo's Bible Class began playing football at Stanley Park in Liverpool in 1884.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Savoury in Indonesian?

What's the word for savoury in Indonesian?

My Indonesian teacher says there is no such word in Indonesian. I suspect there is.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

What's the best food court in Indonesia?

The other week my Indonesian teacher and I were eating average Teriyaki dishes and doing class in a food court at the South Street Seaport pondering this question.

She said she liked the one in Pacific Place. I said I liked Ambassador Mal's.

Obama’s Ersatz Capitalism

There have been lots of demonstrations in my neighbourhood recently.

Wall St. has been pretty noisy with protesters shouting "bailout people not banks" and the like.

Generally I disagree vehemently with the common garden lefty protester types. But oddly I agree with them this time.

In any case this article is a good one.

Six Sigma Parenting

I was chatting with my flatmate and her sister last night.

I got thinking about questions that have been swimming around my mind for a while now.

Do parents plan too much of their kids upbringing?

With all the planning and extra curricular activities, is too much pressure put on kids nowadays?

And to what end? I did fairly well in school, have an OK job. But is working 12 hour plus days really something worth aiming for? To me that seems the natural outcome of super diligent parenting and educating.

I would rather aim for well rounded adults. Success ain't wealth and a fancy job title, far from it.