28 November 2008

William Alun Baiton




I promised to post and here it is.

William Alun Baiton was born at 07.35 on 28 November 2008. He is a healthy 3.7 kgs and 50cm in length.

Mother and baby Will are doing well.

If any of you are wondering "Alun" is the Welsh spelling of Alan.

Alan is my father's name and today is his birthday.

Enjoy the pictures!

25 November 2008

Plaza Indonesia and The Food Hall


The Food Hall, which to most is simply Sogo, has a problem. This is particularly the case with the Plaza Indonesia venue!


I went there after work to buy a few necessities, at least in terms of the lives of the Wife and I, and was unpleasantly surprised to find that the receipt on walking out was far more than I expected it to be. A quick skim of the receipt highlighted why. The prices marked on the shelves were way lower than what was coming up on the scanner.


This I pointed out to the girl on the check out. Her response was along the lines of, "Really! Oh well!" When I suggested to her that it was the equivalent of theft she thought I was kidding. I wonder how many people go through the checkout counter without ever checking whether the prices listed on the receipt.


The problem for me was that it was 21.30pm and if I was to stick to my guns then I was likely to be going home empty handed. A complaint to the manager has previously resulted in a, "Yeah, we will rectify the problem ASAP!" So, seeing I had already paid I continued on my now less than merry way.


For example, the following:


Pokka Jasmine Green Tea on the shelf was IDR 19,000 on the scanner it was IDR 25,100.

Oregon Pitted Dark Cherries on the shelf was IDR 22,500 and on the scanner it was IDR 24,900.


So, I guess this is a case of buyer beware.

24 November 2008

Woodrow Wilson and Dreams


All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter's evening. Some of us let great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them, nurse them through bad days till they bring them to the sunshine and light which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true.

Woodrow Wilson (1856 - 1925)
28th US President, 1913 - 1921

Henry David Thoreau and Books


How many a man [and a woman] has dated a new era in his [her] life from the reading of a book!

Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862)
American Poet, Essayist, and Mystic

23 November 2008

Is It Just A Cartoon?

I am not going to re-post the offending cartoons here. For no other reason than I did not bother to save them. I did not find them particularly funny and I did not see them as making any real political statement worthy of debating.

The issue for me is one of how seriously must this matter be dealt with? When does a cartoon cease being a cartoon and become something else that is worthy of this much debate? What are the legal implications and ramifications considering the government seems certain to pursue this to its conclusion?

The cartoons that were hosted on the Wordpress hosted blog depicted the Prophet and his wives. The accompanying text was written in Indonesian. Therefore, the assumption is that the blogger is Indonesian and that they are based here. I am not sure how this conclusion has been reached. Perhaps there is more information that has not been released to I have yet to see on this matter. I know quite a few non-Indonesians that can read, write, and speak in Indonesian.

The response to the cartoons has seen Wordpress close off the link. There has been demands that Wordpress divulge the identity of the blogger or perhaps information that might lead to the uncovering of the identity of the mysterious and currently anonymous blogger. There have been claims that if Wordpress does not provide this information that the Indonesian National Police Force's digital forensic squad will get in on the act and find the information itself.

However, it is the responses from others that are worthy of some consideration.

Muhammad Ismail Yusanto, spokesman for Hizbut Tahrir, has declared that shutting down access is not enough. The government must conduct a full investigation and when the blogger is uncovered he must be punished according to Islamic law and that the death penalty must apply once the blogger's guilt has been determined.

Hidayat Nur Wahid, who maintains a significant affiliation with the Prosperous Justice Party which he once chaired, has described the cartoons as "an act of terrorism against the Muslim people," and something that the authorities must deal with firmly.

So, I guess my question is, "when is a cartoon not just a cartoon?"

Mobile Phones and Nudes


My philosophy has always been that if you are going to take naked pictures of yourself, your spouse, your friends, or whoever on a mobile phone, then you want to take extra care not to lose your phone or leave it lying around in public places unattended.

However, this is not the case in Fayettville, Arkansas, where a Mr. Phillip Sherman left his mobile phone in McDonald's. Realizing his misfortune, he called the store and staff apparently agreed to secure the mobile phone until Sherman was able to return to collect it. Secure it they did. It would also seem that they checked out what was on Sherman's mobile phone and found some naked pictures of a woman, who is in fact Sherman's wife.

Theses pictures somehow found their way onto the Internet and their existence was made know to Sherman. In response for the embarrassment he and his wife have suffered, Sherman has filed suit seeking USD 3 million in damages. His claim is against McDonald's, the franchise owner for that part of the world, and the store manager. Sherman wants a jury trial. I am guessing he wants a jury trial because he feels that maybe 12 of his peers will be more sympathetic to his claim than a judge.

The moral of the story, if you are going to take naked pictures of people using your mobile phone then take extra care not to lose the thing! (the photo is from here)

22 November 2008

Anonymous Blogging, Wordpress, and the Prophet


This story is a couple of days old and I have been too lazy to write about it before. However, I figured I should as I have recently made a presentation relating to the recently enacted Information and Electronic Transactions Law (ITE Law).

The story is that there is an anonymous blogger in town and they are posting a comic strip of the Prophet Muhammad which has riled the sensibilities of many Muslims. What caught my attention was the headline in the Jakarta Post which reads "Govt to pressurize Wordpress into disclosing blogger's ID". I am not sure that pressurize is the right word for this sentence. I am guessing that it is like terrorizing using pressure to get a pressurize situation.

The language choices aside, there are just a couple of points that are worth making here.

If you think that you are anonymous then make sure that you are smart enough to know how to use the technology to make it so. The government is demanding that Wordpress reveal the identity of the blogger because the content of the offending blog is deemed to be a cyber crime. The threat is that if Wordpress does not disclose the blogger's identity then the National Police Force's Digital Forensic Lab is going to get involved and uncover the blogger's identity themselves.

It seems that there is still a fair amount of road to be travelled in terms of what constitutes free speech and freedom of expression, particularly in light of Article 27 of the new ITE Law.

HIV / AIDS, Microchips, and Papua


The Papuan Provincial Government has drafted a Regional Regulation that includes an article that requires certain people living with HIV / AIDS to be micro-chipped. This seems to fly in the face of other measures that Indonesia has taken to reduce the stigma associated with being HIV positive. Indonesia has laws and regulations in place that make it illegal to discriminate against people living with HIV / AIDS in the work place and the general community.

The article defines "certain" people as being those that are "aggressive". Aggressive in the context of the regulation are those that are aggressively seeking out sexual partners and presumably spreading the virus without informing their prospective partners of their HIV status.

I am not sure how the microchips are going to prevent the aggressive individuals that are so micro-chipped from having sexual intercourse or infecting others. At best the microchips will allow authorities to track movements and general locations where these aggressive people are. I just do not see how the microchips will alert a potential victim to the HIV status of the micro-chipped person.

The idea of chipping aggressive people is just so subjective in nature that it is difficult to see how it can possibly work without falling foul of the constitutional provisions prohibiting discrimination. Who is to decide what constitutes aggressiveness and how is aggressiveness to be measured?

There is something that seems to be inherently wrong in tagging people within certain groups. I wonder how long it will be until there are regional regulations that require the micro-chipping of people from marginal groups such as the homeless, minority faiths, gays and lesbians, expatriates, to name but a few.

I am sensing that there will undoubtedly be plenty of concerned citizens and NGOs that will band together to challenge the validity of the regional regulation. Tagging people is just wrong, at least, to my mind.

A Liquor Shortage for Jakarta


I do not go out all that often and I am guessing that I will probably not be going out at all for the foreseeable future with "The Kid" being born in a mere six days from now. However, I did notice recently that the price of my regular vodka & cranberry has almost doubled in price in just over a week. I just figured this was a trickle down on the imploding global economy that is being propped up by various bail out packages throughout the world. But, alas, it has more to do with a liquor shortage.

Probably more specifically it has to do with the sudden ratcheting-up of excise or duties on imported alcohol that now sees some 60 containers of liquor sitting idly in some Indonesian ports. The duty on the imported alcohol sitting in Indonesian ports is 300% apparently and importers are refusing to cough up and pay the higher duties. This is but part of the problem. The Government also imposes a quota on imported alcohol. This is designed to protect local producers from the market power of big multinational alcoholic beverage producers.

Nevertheless, standard fare is that this quota is usually tapped out by mid-year and the lack of further imports leads to plenty of smuggled liquor and other less than legal mechanisms of getting more imported liquor into the market.

The end result is that this is likely to make business difficult for places that sell alcohol as people are likely to be much more discerning when it comes to drinking and how much they drink. A three-drink night may well become a one-drink night and an early night at that. The trickle down effect is likely to not only impact the bottom lines of the businesses but also the people that they support, such as staff.

It looks like I will be saving some money.

21 November 2008

Fatherhood In A Week

Friday is the day of the weekly visit to the doctor to get the good, the bad, and the ugly news from the doctor on how things are progressing pregnancy wise.

The Kid now weighs in at a hefty 3.5+ kgs and is expected to pack on the grams over the next seven days or so. The doc is of the opinion that next week will be as good a time as any for the little fella to make his grand entrance into the big bad world as we know it.

Any hopes of a normal vaginal birth have been dashed by the size of the little fella's head. So, next Friday, which also happens to be my Dad's birthday will be the big day.

I will be sure to post all the vital statistics sometime on Friday next week. Then again I am not sure that I will be getting too many spare minutes from now on.

Two-Faced Kitten


Deformities or abnormalities always make sensational news stories and it does not just have to be human beings. Animal deformities also peak human interest. This is the case with a very recent birth of a two-faced kitten in Western Australia. The scientific term most closely linked to this would be polycephaly or having more than one head. Not sure of what the term is for having two faces (maybe one of my readers can help out on this front).


People seem to be fascinated with differences.


The cat has survived a night on the outside and by all accounts this is a good sign. However, only one of the mouths eats food. Yet, both faces have the ability to meow and apparently meow in unison. This is not the first time a two-faced kitten has been born and it is not even the first time this year. There were reports earlier in the year of two-faced kittens being born in Texas and Ohio.


It seems that the story has been picked up by international news agencies. The story has been reported by Fox News in the US and also by The Telegraph in the UK.

Update:

The kitten has reportedly died.

19 November 2008

Back from Extinction


They say that no news is good news, but after 80 years most people would think you to be long gone or in the case of the pygmy tarsier, extinct. However, in a good news story for Indonesia, the pygmy tarsier has been rediscovered. The pygmy tarsier is an insect eating primate and as it name suggests, it is little and weighs in at a mere 50 grams. Do not let this deceive you though as it is said to pack quite a bite.

The pygmy tarsier has been trapped and tagged for the first time in more than eighty years. One was trapped and killed back in 2000 by Indonesian scientists doing a study on rats. This unfortunate death of a previously considered extinct animal lead to a ratcheting up of attempts to find live pygmy tarsiers. This culminated in 3 of the little ones being located in Sulawesi on Mt. Rore Katimbo at an elevation of almost 7,000ft. There was a fourth one but he or she was way too clever for the pursuing scientists and managed to get away.

Now that they have been tagged hopefully their movements can be tracked and the pygmy tarsiers saved from extinction.

18 November 2008

Bakrie Brings Out the Lawyers


It seems that Tempo Magazine has got under the skin of the Coordinating Minister of Bakrie Welfare (AKA People's Welfare) with a few special reports that it has done on the financial woes of the Bakrie Group. These woes do not seem to be getting any better if the press conference of yesterday is anything to go by. This press conference ended with a call for the attendees to pray for a successful outcome. The reality is that the Group is manoeuvring to put itself in a position to obtain alternative financing and / or to ensure that it does not lose majority control of Bumi Resources.


Bakrie had his lawyers send a letter demanding that Tempo give the Coordinating Minister of Imploding Welfare the right to respond or if Tempo was unwilling to grant a right to respond then they should just print a retraction and an apology. Generally, when the attack dogs (AKA lawyers) come into the frame it means that things are getting a little too hot and hitting a little too close to home.


There is a threat of criminal action which is kind of interesting as this would suggest that Bakrie is prepared to go to court and have Tempo prove the truth of their claims. According to the Bakrie lawyers the claims to date are untrue, false, slanderous, and damaging. I would have thought defaming would have been in the mix as well.


It seems that Bakrie's biggest beef with the articles in Tempo is the alleged campaign donation Bakrie made to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Jusuf Kalla during the 2004 election campaign. The implication is that this secured his cabinet post. I am not sure that Kalla needed the funds as he is a pretty wealthy fella in his own right.


Bakrie's other beef is with a 17 November cover of Tempo that depicts a forehead with 666 on it. The lawyers for Bakrie feel that the forehead belongs to their client and the suggestion that he is the devil is unfair. For this perceived slight the lawyers for Bakrie are demanding that the magazine run an apology in seven consecutive editions. If they refuse then the lawyers have suggested that they will file both a civil and criminal complaint.


Let the fun and games begin.

16 November 2008

Medical Miracles and Some Thoughts on GWB


Here's something I thought was worth sharing.

An Israeli doctor says, "Medicine in my country is so advanced that we can take a kidney out of one man, put it in another, and have him looking for work in six weeks."

A German doctor says, "That is nothing; we can take a lung out of one person, put it in another person, and have them looking for work in four weeks."


A Russian doctor says, "In my country, medicine is so advanced that we can take half a heart out of one person, put it in another person, and have both of them looking for work in two weeks.


The doctor from Texas, not to be outdone, says, "You guys are way behind, we recently took a man with no brains out of Texas, put him in the White House for eight years, and now half of my country is looking for work!"

15 November 2008

Bajaj and Kancil



I usually take an ojek (motorcycle taxi) to work in the morning and again in the evening to get home. It is fast compared to other modes of transport as motorcycle riders are as crazy as everyone else on Jakarta's roads. So, weaving in and out of traffic is the norm here. If you ever need to test your bravery or courage levels, then taking a ride on an ojek would be one way of finding out.

Anyways, this post is not about ojeks but about bajajs (pronounced ba-jay -- first photo) and there planned replacements the kancil (second photo). A bajaj is simply a three-wheeled 2-stroke motorcycle with a covered passenger compartment at the back. These are supposed to be being phased out and replaced with a new gas-powered traffic nightmare known as a kancil.

This replacement plan has sort of been happening but not really happening since 2001. The biggest hindrance to the replacement program is the cost of the new kancils. The new kancil price is set somewhere between IDR 20 and 30 million. A bajaj driver would be able to trade in his bajaj and get IDR 7.5 million for the trade. This would then be used as a down payment on the kancil.

In theory this sounds like a pretty good deal. If you are managing to pull in somewhere between IDR 30,000 and IDR 50,000 per day before expenses then it is going to be some time before you get out of the credit death trap. Nevertheless, most bajajs are not owner-operator deals but rather businesses that own 10, 15, 20, or however many bajajs and hire them out and take a rental fee.

This brings me to the real reason for this post. On my way to work yesterday I really noticed the number of bajajs polluting the city and how bad this is for my health and the sweet-smelling aroma that permeates my clothes. The downside of taking an ojek to work is that it is a dirty business. Jakarta is dusty and polluted place and the bajajs add to this. I arrived at work smelling like I had just mowed the lawn. This is the unfortunate bonus of being caught in traffic behind a bajaj spewing out rancid 2-stroke fumes.

For a government that talks a good talk about cleaning up the city and ridding it of bajajs in an attempt to reduce pollution, some estimates suggest that pollution in Jakarta could be reduced by up to 25% if you got bajajs off the roads, it does not walk a good walk. The government needs to subsidize the program because any outlay that it makes now will be more than made up for in future health costs and care savings that pollution-related respiratory illness and other illnesses would give rise to.

I could continue to rail on my other issues like the non-existent emissions tests that are supposed to get polluting vehicles off the roads. Perhaps that is a post for another day.

14 November 2008

Evolution vs. Creation


I do not know where this came from or who owns the original version, but it put a smile on my dial and I figured it might put a smile on your dial as well!


A little girl asked her mother:
'How did the human race appear?'

The mother answered, 'God made Adam and Eve;
they had children; and so was all mankind made.'

Two days later the girl asked her father the same question.

The father answered,
'Many years ago there were monkeys from
which the human race evolved.'

The confused girl returned to her mother and said,
'Mum, how is it possible that you told me the
human race was created by God,
and Dad said they developed from monkeys?'

The mother answered,
'Well, Dear, it is very simple.
I told you about my side of the family,
and your father told you about his.'

Wet T-Shirt


And the winner is ...


Have a look at the face on this kid. Is he saying, "Hey dad! The score is 1 - 0 to me!"

Summary of Life

Something that came into the inbox that I thought was worth sharing!


GREAT TRUTHS THAT LITTLE CHILDREN HAVE LEARNED:
1) No matter how hard you try, you can't baptise cats.
2) When your Mum is mad at your Dad, don't let her brush your hair.
3) If your sister hits you, don't hit her back. They always catch the second person.
4) Never ask your 3-year old brother to hold a tomato.
5) You can't trust dogs to watch your food.
6) Don't sneeze when someone is cutting your hair.
7) Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time.
8) You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
9) Don't wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.
10) The best place to be when you're sad is nana's lap.

GREAT TRUTHS THAT ADULTS HAVE LEARNED:
1) Raising teenagers is like nailing jelly to a tree.
2) Wrinkles don't hurt.
3) Families are like fudge...mostly sweet, with a few nuts.
4) Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut that held its ground.
5) Laughing is good exercise. It's like jogging on the inside.
6) Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fibre, not the toy.

GREAT TRUTHS ABOUT GROWING OLD:
1) Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.
2) Forget the health food. I need all the preservatives I can get.
3) When you fall down, you wonder what else you can do while you're down there.
4) You're getting old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you once got from a roller coaster.
5) It's frustrating when you know all the answers but nobody bothers to ask you the questions.
6) Time may be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician.
7) Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.

THE FOUR STAGES OF LIFE:
1) You believe in Santa Claus.
2) You don't believe in Santa Claus.
3) You are Santa Claus.
4) You look like Santa Claus.

SUCCESS:
At age 4 success is . . . not piddling in your pants.
At age 12 success is . . . having friends..
At age 17 success is . . . having a drivers licence.
At age 35 success is . . . having money.
At age 50 success is . . . having money.
At age 70 success is . . . having a drivers licence.
At age 75 success is . . . having friends.
At age 80 success is . . . not piddling in your pants.

13 November 2008

Rhianna in Jakarta -- Canceled?


Rhianna, or at least her management, have decided to cancel the concert scheduled for Friday night. The local promoter is suggesting that the concert is not canceled but rather postponed to sometime in January or February.

The reason is that Rhianna and her team allegedly have some security concerns. These concerns are supposedly heightened security alerts for the country. The speculation is undoubtedly going to be on the recent executions of the Bali Three (aka Amrozi, Mukhlas, and Samudra). However, my understanding is that this is mere speculation and the concern was security in general.

The promoter has allegedly sent representatives to Singapore to lobby Rhianna's management for a change of heart. However, with the concert to be held tomorrow a pretty quick change of heart is required in order to make the logistics work.

The promoter seems to be concerned with the billions of Rupiah in losses that will be sustained if the concert does not go ahead. Now, here's the thing. If you are a music promoter in Indonesia, I would have thought that it would have made good business sense to get insurance for this very thing. It is not like it is the first time a world class music act has pulled the plug because of security fears / concerns.

It seems ticket holders need not fear, as the promoter has guaranteed that all ticket holders are to be refunded. I am sure they would have preferred to see Rhianna in concert though. May be in January or February!

The Buddha Reincarnated?


This is a story I have been following for a while. I have not written about it in the past and there is not any reason as to why I have not. I studied a little bit about Buddhism when I was younger and first exploring the idea of my own personal spirituality and what I believe in. I have always believed in an idea that we as people can reach an enlightened state of being and that things become much clearer to us and for us.

For some this is a belief in God and for others this might just be a simple belief that there is something greater than ourselves out there. This post is not getting into a debate on the pros and cons of religion per se and arguments that if one does not accept a belief in God then they are a poster child for the devil.

This is a post about a kid who has meditated for months without food and water. There are some that even go so far as to say that this meditation and no (or reduced) food and water intake has been ongoing since 2005.

The kid, Ram Bahadur Bamjan, was first sighted in the jungles of Nepal. He was by all accounts easy enough to spot, as he was sitting cross-legged in deep meditation under a tree with his eyes closed and no movement.

This ability brought the masses out in order to witness this spectacle. The crowds became so large and so frequent that Ram did a runner. He disappeared deeper into the jungle and was not to be seen again. Well, not until he re-emerged this week at Ratanpur.

Ram looks pretty healthy for an 18-year-old that has been in deep meditation and without food and water for an extended period (photo courtesy of AP).

However, the kid is not without his detractors and skeptics. The skeptics cite the fact that the original Buddha is the enlightened one and that becoming enlightened is the end of the journey and not just another stage on the reincarnation trail.

Simply, the rationale is that being born a Buddha is the last birth, you have attained enlightenment. Now, the problem here is that Buddhists believe in reincarnation. However, I am accepting enough that I can accept that ultimately those few that do manage to reach enlightenment are rewarded with not having to go back to square one and start all over again.

Other scholars seem quick to point out that just being able to meditate and go without food is hardly proof positive of the boy being the reincarnation of Buddha.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of devotees who remain undeterred and unswayed by the skeptics. These devotees are convinced that Ram is the real deal and line up for hours to receive his blessing, which is a touch of one's head.

12 November 2008

Don McLean and American Pie

This is an interesting video interpretation of the meaning of American Pie.

Enjoy!

Buddy Holly


Buddy Holly died way before I was even a twinkle in my old man's eye. Yet, I really like his music and I always have. I do not know whether I would be classified as a fan however I have a few albums. This post is being written as I sit in the office waiting for a colleague to send her work through for editing. As I punch away on the keyboard I am listening to Golden Greats which is a 1989 compilation of Buddy Holly classics.


My introduction to Buddy Holly was through my dad and his collection of vinyl 45s. I am old enough to claim to be born before the CD generation. Those were the days, the good old days, sitting around an old GMV record player screaming along at the top of our lungs.


I guess my understanding of the importance of Buddy Holly and his contributions to music are to be found in Don McLean's, American Pie. I have the original album somewhere and a few more copies that have been digitally remastered and the like.


My favourite Buddy Holly song is "True Love Ways".




Jakarta Smokin' or Smokin' Jakarta?


Those of you that enjoy a nicotine fix need to be a little wary about where you are going to get that next fix during the period from 17 through 27 November 2008. The Government of Jakarta and several Anti-Smoking NGOs have decided that they are going to up the ante on smokers and conduct raids during this period (cartoon).


There is a Regulation, actually a couple of them (No. 2 of 2005 and No. 75 of 2005), that has been issued by the Government of Jakarta that prohibits smoking in certain places and requires businesses and others to provide special smoking rooms to cater for those who cannot go without a nicotine fix.


The places that are most likely to be targeted are office buildings, medical facilities, malls and shopping centers, places of worship, schools, and public transportation, among others. This seems to be an initiative that is being driven more by those concerned with the growing abuse of tobacco rather than any increased interest from the government in terms of implementing the 2005 Regulation.


The cold hard reality is that the government after the initial posting of signs declaring certain areas non-smoking, the government lost interest in enforcement. I remember when the Regulation first came into effect. I was taking a train from Gambir Station to Bandung. As I was waiting for the train to arrive, I remember having a good laugh to myself as I watched a young fella light up and puff away. Why the good laugh? He was standing under one of those no smoking signs, the red circle with a cigarette inside the circle and a red line through it. It was one of those moments, where you go, "nah, this is definitely not going to work."


Even now, each day in the building where I work I watch smokers line the corridors puffing away. There are no designated smoking areas, there are no non-smoking area signs or if there are they are routinely ignored. There is no enforcement from building management or the security personnel roaming the corridors. If I am not mistaken building management can be fined for any failure to enforce the provisions in their buildings.


Let the fun and games begin.

11 November 2008

Remembrance Day


Remembrance or Armistice Day commemorates the end of hostilities that brought World War One to a close. These hostilities ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

I am anti-war. I just do not see the point of sending young men and women off to get killed. However, I appreciate those that do join the armed forces and serve their countries with dedication and honour. For those of us that do not serve, we must never belittle the sacrifices that these brave men and women make in order that we sleep snugly in the warm blanket of freedom.

My brother serves and I am immensely proud of his service, his dedication, and his courage.

We must not forget those who have served and fallen. This is why I take a moment on days like today to remember those who have fought and fallen in order that I enjoy the freedoms that I currently have.

I hope for peace.

Syekh Puji, Lutfiana Ulfa, and Pregnancy


It is being reported that Lutfiana Ulfa, the 12-year-old bride of Syekh Puji, is already pregnant. I have written about this case here.

In a legal sense this case is a simple one. There are clear violations of the law which are punishable and the Syekh must be investigated and then prosecuted according to those provisions. There can be no ifs, buts, or maybes here. The man by all definitions is a pedophile and a man with a plan to marry more children if and when he has the chance. This makes him a serial pedophile.

There has been a suggestion that the Syekh has handed Lutfiana back to her parents and feels that this returns things to their previous state and absolves him of any further legal troubles. The law has been broken and sending the girl home does not repair that damage.

The video link above (in Indonesian) seems to indicate that there has been no divorce, although I am not sure how you dissolve a marriage that could never have taken place legally.

To the contrary, the lawyers for the Syekh and the Chair of the National Child Protection Commission indicate that the Syekh needs to be patient and wait until Lutfiana is at least 16 years of age. Hence the reason for returning her to her family.

If it turns out that Lutfiana is really pregnant then this whole affair takes on a completely different dimension. Lutfiana continues to profess her love for the Syekh and if the Syekh is the father of her child, then I would not see this love diminishing in the short-term. I am not sure that a 12-year-old knows love outside of perhaps a love for a parent. However, I am not going to judge the girl or what she believes that she feels for this man.

The outcome of this case is still far from clear.

10 November 2008

J. Paul Getty


"The meek shall inherit the Earth, but not its mineral rights."





Must have been a universal value that J. Paul Getty was referring to as it sounds about right for Indonesia as well.

Gun Crime in the US -- Murders by Children

I am not a gun owner and I am not intending to be one. I respect the right of people to own guns. Nevertheless, I really do not see the point in owning one. If the laws were such that all guns were illegal except in the hands of police officers, security guards, and the armed forces, then perhaps there would be a lot less gun crime.

However, this story about an eight-year-old in Arizona who is alleged to have murdered his father and another man and that the murders were pre-meditated beggars belief. The initial arguments in any case that involves an eight-year-old killing someone would be whether the child has the legal capacity to understand the consequences of their actions. However, if the murders were pre-meditated then it seems reasonable to assume that the kid had given some thought to this and planned it out.

The case is going to be interesting for the legal arguments as for how an eight-year-old becomes a killer. It is already being suggested by the child's lawyer that the child was questioned by police and confessed without parental or legal representation. This, if true, should see the confession tossed at any subsequent trial. However, before one even gets to a trial, there will need to be psych evaluations and other determinations made as to whether the child even has the capacity to be put on trial.

Two lives lost and a child in jail accused of their pre-meditated murder -- tragic.

The Pornography Law -- A Dead Document?

The Jakarta Post recently reported that Constitutional Law Expert, Irman Putra Sidin, saying, "How can we expect the law to be implemented when people and officials oppose it? Who's going to enforce it? It will end up as merely a dead document," based on the fact that at least four provinces were going to actively oppose the law and refuse to enforce it. Those provinces are Bali, North Sulawesi, Yogyakarta, and West Papua.

The rationale for this position is that if the law is not implemented nationwide then can it be valid anywhere. I would have thought that once the law was passed by parliament and enacted as law then it was the law of the land. Therefore, in a republic like the Republic of Indonesia, the law would apply everywhere.

A more interesting argument would be does the refusal to implement the law amount to the beginning of an act of secession? How far do the provinces want to push this? What sanctions could the State impose on rogue provinces that refuse to enforce state laws and regulations.

In fact this should be read as a preliminary movement towards seeking independence from the Republic of Indonesia. Quite clearly the intent of West Papua is to secede from the Republic if they are required to enforce the law. Andrikus Mofu, spokesperson for the West Papuan delegation said the following, "We will inform the international community of our aspiration and our intention to separate from Indonesia." This seems to leave little doubt where the West Papuan intentions lay.

The most likely course of action will be a Constitutional Court challenge to test the binding nature and legality of the provisions. The definitions of pornography and the manner that pornography is to be determined is arguably loose. Nevertheless, this is an issue that the Court will be asked to determine.

The reality is the laws of the land are to be applied and all are to be equal before the law. Special dispensation in one province compared to another means that there is no equality before the law and this is more likely to lead to problems than the enforcement of the law.

Of all the things that could trigger the disintegration of the Republic it is interesting that it is the Pornography Law that is being talked about as being this trigger.

09 November 2008

Australian Government Travel Advice (Warning)

I was thinking about posting the Australian Government Travel Advice (really a Warning) here. Then I thought, nah! The warning is 4,499 words long and runs to 10 pages. So, I will summarize it for you.

If you are thinking about going to Indonesia and your travel is not essential, then think again about how important traveling to Indonesia is to you.

If you are in Indonesia, think about returning to Australia. If you are not going to return to Australia then be extra careful.

If you are living and working in Indonesia see the previous point.

You are now so advised or warned.

Bali Bombers -- It's Done!


I am not going to write a long essay here on my opinions on the death penalty or the pros and cons of such.

I am not going to make any statements about martyrdom.

The three have been executed (picture from here).

I hope this brings closure and finality for the victims and their families.

08 November 2008

Internet Dickwad Theory


This has always been something that I have thought and said about anonymous blogging and the courage of one's convictions.

This is, people who think no-one knows who they are will say the most outrageous things that they would never say in a forum where people knew who they were.

I had never thought of calling this theory the "dickwad theory" but it seems to fit.

Thanks to Djoko for pointing this out to me. I cannot link to Djoko because he does not have anything to link to that I know of. The original of the above can be found here.

The Moment of Truth 2

And this has nothing to do with Barack Obama. It does have something to do with biracial though.

Friday mornings are "check-up" mornings at the doctor. They started off monthly, then went fortnightly, and now are weekly. So, yesterday morning was spent at the hospital waiting for the doctor to arrive. Apparently, he had a surgery to perform and was running late.

When he did finally arrive and the USG was done and the prescriptions written, he piped up with, "everything is looking good, and that the birth could be as early as next week!" Now, this was one of those moments where you go, "but you said early December! What's wrong with early December?"

Well, it seems that everything has gone so smoothly to date and the Kid (likely to be named William Alun) has grown to a point where there is not a whole lot more room to grow more, and might just say "bugger it", it is time for me to be out of this small world and into the big bad world on the outside.

I will be sure to keep you posted.

06 November 2008

A Black Bond?


This past week or so has seen a few firsts, and first among these is the election of Barack Hussein Obama as the first black President of the United States of America. Obama showed the world what charisma, hope, and a disciplined message can achieve.

Just the weekend before the F1 world saw Lewis Hamilton become the first black F1 Champion of the World. In Hamilton's case it was all about someone giving him a shot, a shot that he had earned coming up through the ranks, and his driving skills took care of the rest.

This has led the current James Bond, Daniel Craig to suggest that it is about time there was a colored Bond.

Actually, what Craig said was, "After Barack Obama's victory I think we might have reached the moment for a coloured 007."

A black Bond would be not outside the realm of belief. I do not recall anyone saying that MI6 or whatever it is now being an exclusively Anglo or white employer.

Bakrie -- Will They or Won't They?


The Indonesian Stock Exchange (IDX) announced on Wednesday (5/11) that they were going to lift the suspension on trade that had been in effect on PT Bumi Resources. However, not long after this announcement was made, and presumably a few phone calls later, another announcement was made. The second announcement was that the suspension in trade would remain in force.

The issue is seemingly becoming less transparent and more complex. The press release issued by the Bakrie Group of Companies suggested that the deal was between Northstar and Bumi Resources with a number of SOEs also buying into the USD 1.3 deal. Word on the street is that the role of the SOEs is far from certain as is any stake they might take up. It seems that the current state of affairs is that there is a tentative deal in place for Northstar to provide finance.

In terms of the announcements, there are relieable sources suggesting that the current Coordinating Minister of Economic Affairs / Minister of Finance, Sri Mulyani, was in favour of lifting the suspension. This would suggest that the subsequent announcement to reinstate the suspension came from someone higher up the food chain. This would most likely be the President.

It is unlikely to be the Vice President. Simply, the more trouble Bakrie is in the easier it will be for Kalla to exert his influence over Golkar. It is reported that the current President ascended the top job in part because of funds supplied by Bakrie (this might explain the loyalty shown to one of cabinet's most poorly performing Ministers). The reality is that the deeper the hole Bakrie finds himself in the less likely it is that he can be King or Queen Maker in the upcoming elections.

Nevertheless, the mere fact that the government became involved in the lifting of the suspension is a loser in the "court of public opinion", as it will be seen as protecting the interests of a cabinet Minister and not about protecting the interests of the State. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant in the court of public opinion, if it smells bad and it looks bad, then it is bad! The fact that the presidential spokesman comes out and says that Bakrie companies are not his concern is hardly reassuring.

That said, the logic on keeping the suspension in place is that as soon as the suspension is lifted it is likely people holding Bumi shares will seek to offload even with a purported deal in place.

The deal between Northstar and Bakrie plus the SOEs is supposed to be complete within 28 days. I wonder whether the suspension will stay in place until the deal is signed, sealed, and delivered?

Ah, must be nice to be the Coordinating Minister of the Bakrie Family Welfare, oops I meant to say the Coordinating Minister of People's Welfare (photo -- always smiling and why wouldn't you be?).

05 November 2008

Obama Wins!


Pennsylvania!

This is one of the "battleground states" and one that most pundits have been saying from day one that John McCain had to win in order to win the White House!

Mathematically, the contest is far from over and by most accounts McCain is doing better in the early counting than many expected. Dropping Pennsylvania though is a pretty big body blow and one that he and the Republicans are unlikely to recover from unless McCain is able to pull Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Maybe an update later in the day.

The photo is of Obama and his wife casting their votes.

A Short Update...

Dear Readers...

I know some of you are not in favour of a black template for myriad of reasons and others among you might like it, such is life!

I am done playing with the template for a while, unless there are specific requests, as I think I have addressed most of the concerns raised by people who commented during the change over from the old white template to this black one.

I have changed the colour for the info that comes after the post, the comments font size has been increased for your reading pleasure, and I have broken up my blog roll into smaller sections based on subject matter or location. Everyone that was on my blog roll remains listed in one of the categories at the bottom of the page. If you are not there and think you should be then let me know and I will add you.

Cheers,

Rob

04 November 2008

The Moment of Truth for a Post-Racial Candidate


Is there such a thing as a "post-racial" candidate (photo)? Well, the moment of truth is upon our US brothers and sisters in this most crucial of elections.

I know some of my readers do not giver the proverbial rat's about what happens and who wins. As a student of politics and law, I am interested. To think that the US might finally elect a black man, an African-American if you prefer, is a momentous step, at least in my mind.

Maybe by this time tomorrow we will know who the next president of the US will be. Then again some polls are reporting a tightening race that seems like it might be heading down to the wire.

I like elections!

The Death Penalty in Indonesia


The family of Imam Samudra are intending to lodge a complaint in the event that he is executed. The complaint will be based on a claim that he has been murdered. There are interesting legal arguments relating to state sanctioned murder.

My personal view is that it is murder, it is a willful killing authorized by the state, and it is wrong. I am not arguing that Indonesia does not have the right to use the death penalty. The argument is a loser as international law permits a death penalty state to continue to use the death penalty. I am arguing on moral grounds that the death penalty is wrong. I am arguing that two wrongs will never make a right. Simply, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. I am arguing it is not a deterrent to crime.

Yet, with all those things said, it is unlikely that any claim submitted by Luluk Jamaludin (stroking his goatee in the photo), the younger brother of Imam Samudra, will have legal legs. The Constitutional Court has ruled that the death penalty is a valid form of punishment that does not breach any right to life protections provided for in the 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia. Furthermore, the Constitutional Court has also ruled that execution by firing squad is not cruel and unusual punishment.

I just do not see a claim making any headway in a system that seems to be aligned in favor of state sanctioned killings.

03 November 2008

The Jakaroo and the Government

Something that came into the mail box...

A Queensland jackaroo is overseeing his herd in remote territory when suddenly a brand-new BMW advances out of a dust cloud towards him. The driver, a young man in a designer suit, Gucci shoes, Ray Ban sunglasses and YSL tie, leans out the window and asks the cowboy, 'If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?'

The jackaroo looks at the man, obviously a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, 'Sure, why not?'

The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his Cingular RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite navigation system to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo. The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany.

Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses a MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel Spreadsheet with email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response. Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer and finally turns to the cowboy and says, 'You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves.'

'That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves,' says the Cowboy.

He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on amused as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car.

Then the cowboy says to the young man, 'Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?'

The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, 'Okay, why not?'

'You work for the Australian Government', says the jackaroo.

'Wow! That's correct,' says the yuppie, 'but how did you guess that?'

'No guessing required.' answered the jackaroo. 'You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You used all kinds of expensive equipment that clearly somebody else paid for, You tried to show me how much smarter than me you are; and you don't know a thing about cows ... this is a herd of sheep. Now give me back my dog.'

The Australian National Anthem

I am sure that some people would be truly offended by someone doing a version of their national to a rock song. However, this is seriously funny. If only we could laugh at ourselves more often then the world is likely to be a much more peaceful place.

This version is also good because it does the second verse of the National Anthem and hardly anyone knows the second verse.

I am a proud Australian and always will be! I am proud of the National Anthem and I am proud that as Australians we have a sense of humor that we can take our National Anthem put it to a rock tune and still be proud!

Cold Chisel 2

I have a few Cold Chisel favorites and "Working Class Man" is another one. It was the soundtrack to a movie with the name Gung Ho and starring Michael Keaton. The song is a classic and captures the essence of the struggle in being a working class man. Let me assure you what Jimmy Barnes is sipping in the middle of this song is not water. It might be clear and it might look like water but Jimmy's stage poison of choice was vodka.

Cold Chisel

The treespotter tagged me to do a music post some time ago. I have been a little too lazy to do it. There are rules which I am not going to follow. Although, the rules meant I could have written about AC/DC and "Sink the Pink", a classic song in its own right. However, one of my all time favorite bands is Cold Chisel.

My favorite all time Cold Chisel song is "Khe Sanh". This is closely followed by "When the War is Over". I introduced one of my best friends (even though we have not seen each other in years, there are some people you just bond with and that bond is tight no matter what the tyranny of distance or time is).

Khe Sanh is a favorite of hers as well. I have always had a fascination with Vietnam and the Vietnam war. My friend has a family connection having lost an uncle (if I am not mistaken) in the war. We used to play this song and sing (some would say scream) along having learned the words off by heart. Funnily enough she has now taught her young kids to sing the song. This is probably a good thing for Cold Chisel as this will continue to ensure that the royalty revenue keeps rolling in.

The words of Khe Sanh have always got me thinking and as I get older I can relate many of the ideas of the song to my own existence. These ideas do not always have to do with war. The song is very much about the disconnect, the inability for others to understand the experience, and the need to get away and live life but never really being sure whether you are going to make that last plane or train out of the city.

Here are the words:

I left my heart to the sappers round Khe Sanh
And my soul was sold with my cigarettes to the blackmarket man
I've had the Vietnam cold turkey
From the ocean to the Silver City
And it's only other vets could understand

About the long forgotten dockside guarantees
How there were no V-day heroes in 1973
How we sailed into Sydney Harbour
I saw an old friend but couldn't kiss her
And she was lined, and I was home to a lucky land

She was like so many more from that time on
Their lives were all so empty, until they found their chosen one
And their legs were often open
But their minds were always closed
And their hearts were held in fast suburban chains

And the legal pads were yellow, hours long, paypacket lean
And the telex writers clattered where the gunships once had been
But the car parks made me jumpy
And I never stopped the dreams
Or the growing need for speed and novacaine

So I worked across the country from end to end
Tried to find a place to settle down,
Where my mixed up life could mend
Held a job on an oil-rig
Flying choppers when I could
But the nightlife nearly drove me round the bend

And I've travelled round the world from year to year
And each one found me aimless, one more year the worse for wear
And I've been back to South East Asia
You know the answer sure ain't there
But I'm drifting north, to check things out again

You know the last plane out of Sydney's almost gone
Only seven flying hours, and I'll be landing in Hong Kong
There ain't nothing like the kisses
From a jaded Chinese princess
I'm gonna hit some Hong Kong mattress all night long

Well the last plane out of Sydney's almost gone
Yeah the last plane out of Sydney's almost gone
And it's really got me worried
I'm goin' nowhere and I'm in a hurry
And the last plane out of Sydney's almost gone
(Repeat twice)

Or you can view a version of it here:



and "When the War is Over" here:

Is This A Sign?


Lewis Hamilton has become the youngest man and the first black man to win the F1 title.

Are we about to see another first in the US Presidential election with the first black man to assume the presidency of the US of A.

(setting aside the idea that Bill Clinton was the first black president of the US -- different post if I could be bothered -- I am sure black offends some but I have never heard the politically correct term of African-British like I have African-American so in this context I have chosen "black").

02 November 2008

It's Official (or is it)?


Well, it seems when things go bad they go bad across the board. A group of international petroleum geologists looking at the mud volcano (photo) in Sidoarjo in East Java have made a statement to the effect that the cause of this disaster was drilling and not some distant earthquake as claimed by the companies involved in the drilling.

The main company involved is part of the Bakrie empire. The Bakrie empire is slowly but surely unraveling as loan and debt pressure forces the group to sell off some of its best assets in order to make ends meet.

The petroleum geologists were meeting at a conference in Cape Town (South Africa). The view is not universal among the 74 experts in attendance. Three of them still consider the earth quake scenario the most likely cause.

These are the key reasons that drilling rather than the earthquake is the cause:
  • the earthquake was too small and too far away to have had a role.
  • the well was being drilled at the same time and only 150 m from the volcano site.
  • the well took a huge influx of fluid the day before the eruption, resulting in pressures that the well could not tolerate.
  • the pressure measured in the well after the influx provides strong evidence that the well was leaking and even evidence for the initial eruption at the surface.
Does this end the debate and have any implications for compensation. Probably not!

Travel Warning

The imminent execution of the murderous trio of Amrozi, Mukhlas, and Samudra has prompted the Australia government to issue a travel warning (People's Daily Online and Inquirer.net) asking Australians to reconsider their travel plans to Indonesia. And, if Australians insist on traveling to Indonesia, then they should avoid all locations that are likely to be targets of attack.

The idea that there will be a backlash (Gulf News) is dependent on so many things, particularly whether the extremists that the travel warning refers to, have the capability of carrying out an attack. It is wise to never underestimate your enemy, but there has not been a terrorist attack in Indonesia for a number of years.

This suggests one of two things; the terrorists are being patient or their capabilities of organizing and carrying out an attack have been severely compromised by law enforcements efforts in rounding them up and prosecuting them.

It is highly likely that there might be demonstrations over the executions and there will undoubtedly be large turnouts at the funerals of the three, and perhaps there may even be skirmishes at these events.

However, the best advice I have to offer is to have some self-awareness regarding the places you are in and where possible avoid putting yourself in harms way. So, if you think a likely target is a pub or a club, then do not go there. If you think it is a shopping mall then do not go there.

Wiranto, Sutiyoso, and the Indonesian Presidency


The recent passage of the Presidential Election Bill was likely to draw criticism and this criticism was likely to be from prospective candidates like Wiranto and Sutiyoso. The reason being that to all intents and purposes it makes the task of getting them nominated considerably more difficult and will demand a lot more horse trading to occur to make a nomination happen. Horse trading is likely to increase the expense.

The bill sets a threshold of 20% of seats or 25% of the popular vote. Now, this can be an individual party or an alliance of parties. However, in this dog-eat-dog world that is Indonesian politics the chance of either putting together an alliance of that size is unlikely.

The cause of action will undoubtedly be a constitutional challenge to the Constitutional Court. The challenge should be an interesting one as the bill in demanding a 20% of seats or 25% of the popular vote threshold inadvertently would seem to rule out the idea of independent candidates.

It would seem another former general is also likely to come on board as it would seem the threshold requirements severely dent the chances of Prabowo from ascending to the top job. The photo of the three was taken from here.

01 November 2008

Bali Bombers -- The Clock is Ticking?

Word on the street is that the 72 hour notification that is required to be given to a condemned person prior to their execution was given on Friday at 21.00.

Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock.

I should add that, seeing is believing!

I am sure that most people will not believe that this whole tragic and sad saga is over until these three are executed and buried. Even then there will probably be those that believe some conspiracy has taken place and they have been whisked off to some faraway locale.

A Jihadi Cemetery


The imminent execution of the murderous trio of Amrozi, Samudra, and Mukhlas has seen a mad scramble to see who can organize a fitting tribute to their Jihadist struggle. A fitting tribute for my mind would be an unmarked grave in the middle of nowhere. However, it seems that Cecep Hermawan wants to create a special Jihadi Cemetery in Cianjur West Java so that the "holy warriors" can be buried and remembered for the heroes that they were.

Hermawan's idea is that the Jihadi Cemetery can become a place where all Jihadists who lay down their lives in the pursuit of the cause, in this case the implementation of Sharia Law and the introduction of an Islamic State, can be buried in one place. Hermawan is so confident that pilgrims will come to his Jihadi Cemetery that he is donating one hectare of land for the project.

Hermawan has already approached the three killers about their interest in such a plan. The three seem to feel that it is a good idea. However, the families of the condemned killers, particularly the families of Amrozi and Mukhlas, are a little bit hesitant as the distance from their homes to the cemetery is considerable.

It is almost comical in a sense the competition that is being generated with regards to signing up the families of the soon to be dead killers to a burial spot. Achmad Cholid, one of the Muslim Defense Team lawyers, has suggested that there are as many as five offers on the table. The word is that the families are waiting official notification of when the executions are going to take place before they decide which offer to take.


They might not have to wait too much longer to make that decision. Most news agencies are on stand by and many are of the opinion that the 72 hour notification has already been given and the clock is ticking. For me, I am not sure that the authorities could keep the lid on the notification. The families and the lawyers would be sure to make the notification public hence the idea that the authorities could not keep a lid on this thing.

Shrine or no shrine, Jihadi cemetery or no Jihadi cemetery, there is not long now for these men who will soon no longer be drawing breath on this earth.

Stupid is as Stupid Does 3


It goes without saying that stupidity can happen anywhere and this is a case in point.

Marcus Einfeld (photo courtesy of Sahlan Hayes / SMH) in an attempt to lie his way out of an AUD 77 speeding ticket has exposed himself to up to 24 years in prison for trying to perjury and making a false declaration. He will not get that much time in prison but nevertheless he should probably do some prison time.

The culmination of three years worth of to and fro came down to two guilty pleas in the New South Wales Supreme Court.

What makes this case all the more interesting is that Einfeld is a former Federal Court judge of some 15 years standing and also a former Chairman of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. To suggest that he should of known better is probably an extreme understatement.

Originally, Einfeld had been indicted on 14 separate offences of which all but the two he pleaded guilty to were either tossed in a legal sense (based on technicalities) or withdrawn.

For a man who at 70 years of age and a distinguished career in the law the idea of lying one's way out of a 77 dollar fine is either the height of arrogance or stupidity or perhaps both. Nevertheless, this foolishness should ensure that rather than enjoying his retirement with family and friends he will have the opportunity to make some new friends in prison.

Stupid!

Just a Short Note

Dear All...

I am tinkering with the layout and colors of my blog. I am being helped by the treespotter in this endeavour. My apologies if you happen to drop by while we have been alternating between black and white backgrounds.

Hopefully, I (or at least the treespotter) will have it all worked out.

I must say that I am grateful that the treespotter is taking the time to help me out with this. It is much appreciated. It is time for a new look to The RAB Experience.

Post Script...

There is still some tinkering to be had going forward to get all the posts formatted in the same way for your viewing pleasure. I am told that this template better suits the volume of posts I manage to write...

Feedback is always appreciated. So, don't be afraid to speak your mind!

Post Script 2...

Feedback question. Is the current template readable? I am sure that there will be some that preferred the previous version. I am trying to make the blog more readable in the sense of ease of navigation. I am partial to black so I am not sure that will change, but I really want to make sure that the text is readable.

Defacing the Currency


In most places that I know there are laws and regulations in place to stop people from defacing the currency. Usually, people are pretty proud of their currencies, I guess the money that you use is a source of national pride or something.

However, the fact that it is against the law does not mean that it will stop people from doing it, defacing their currency that is. The picture posted here is from a site that has lots of other pictures with all manner of examples of defaced currency.

Abraham Lincoln is one of my favourite US Presidents. I am not an American, so is there something wrong with me if I have a favourite US President. I am an Australian and I have a favourite Prime Minister of two as well.

This piece of art work I found interesting.

Sweet Home Obama


This is news that has made headlines around the world and is likely to continue to do so until the US Presidential election process concludes on 4 November.

Now, if Obama wins, then it is likely to be news for a while yet. And, the question will always be will President Obama visit one of his childhood homes when he makes a visit to Indonesia (photo is of the home).

The story is an interesting one in its entirety however a long story short. Obama spent a couple of his childhood years living in the Menteng area of Central Jakarta.

Now some 35 years later a Dutch businessman with extensive business interests in the bar and cafe scene in Jakarta and Bali has decided that a good cafe might be just the thing to capitalize on Obama mania.

It would be a cafe and not a bar. The products of choice would be a Barack blend of coffee mixing Kenyan and Indonesian beans. The other product would be Dutch inspired stroopwaffles. The place is also likely to become a bit of a museum decked out with Obama memorabilia (some might say a shrine). Yet, in a business sense it really needs Obama to come through and win the election. Simply, a coffee joint for a junior senator from Illinois is probably not going to pay the bills.

It is being reported that Bartele Santema is offering USD 500 a month as rent. This is unlikely to get the deal done with rumors floating around of a solid offer for USD 3 million for the whole property and other rumors suggesting that in the event the world sees a President Obama then the value of the property could be as much as five time the 3 million supposedly already on offer.

There is little doubting in terms of the value of the Obama brand should he become President of the USA and leader of the free world.

Good luck to all involved and may your hopes, dreams, and prayers for financial success be realized this 4 November.

You can find news of this momentous event at Bugil News, The Wall Street Journal, AP, and CNN.