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.