30 November 2010

A Coffee Fix...

I really enjoy my coffee. I most enjoy a good Indonesian coffee. You know, the coarsely ground variety where the sediment sits in the bottom of your cup. And, if you were to leave that sediment there a few days it would harden into something comparable to cement. My particular favourite coffee growing areas just happen to be two places that want to be free from the clutches of Indonesia; one has done so, Timor Leste. The other, Aceh, seems destined not to break free. Those are issues for another post.

So, with coffee in mind, I thought I would share a link that I came across on Yahoo about the six worst cups of coffee you could drink if you were thinking calories.

My favourite is the Cold Stone Creamery Lotta Caramel Latte, Gotta Have It Size. This cup will provide you with 1,790 calories, 99 g fat (62 g saturated, 2.5 g trans), and 175 g sugar. Or in more manageable terms, the equivalent of a day's worth of calories, the equivalent of 62 strips of bacon, more than your daily permissible intake of trans fat, and the equivalent of 44 spoonfuls of sugar.

To be honest, I don't think I have eaten 62 strips of bacon in the last five years, perhaps even longer than that.

I could not imagine sitting down and eating 62 strips of bacon in one sitting. Although, I could imagine sitting down to a single cup of coffee.


UNC Men's Basketball: Will They or Won't They?

As an alumni of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill I am a big fan of UNC Basketball. I have been following it for more than 20 years (which is as long as my association with UNC). So, it was with great disappointment that we did not make the big dance of the NCAA tournament last year. However, there were high hopes for this year with a pretty decent recruiting class. Sadly, five games into the season we are at 3-2. It is not the end of the world, but it would have been nice to be 5-0.

Here's hoping that an ACC and then an NCAA title are in the 2010 / 2011 highlight reels come April 2011. I get to watch the NCAA Tourney because it is on the idiot box here in Australia. I used to watch it while I was in Indonesia as well on cable TV. A die-hard Carolina basketball fan!

Go Heels!

Just writing this brief post has put a smile on my dial. I have so many fond memories of my time at UNC. Just thinking of the many friends that I made inside and outside of class reminds me of some interesting stories of late nights watching basketball down at "He's Not Here" or over at "Ham's" (which I don't think exists anymore), or this wonderful little hole in the ground bar called "Trolls" which has been reincarnated with different names over the past 20 years or so I am told. Those were the days!

Life goes on, but it never hurts to take time out and remember.

Major League Baseball: Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees...

This is not my usual subject matter, I know!

I am a fan of baseball, and the New York Yankees are the team that I follow. I figure there are fans and then there are "fans"! I am just a fan. My life would not end for example if the Yankees were not to win the World Series every year. My life also would not end if the Yankees were unable to reach a deal with current captain, Derek Jeter.

Baseball salaries are huge. This post is not about whether huge salaries are right or wrong in any moral sense during hard economic times. I fully support the players getting a cut of the profits that the sport generates. It does not matter whether this is up-front salary or performance based bonuses. This post is about whether or not a 36-year-old player with declining production is worth a 6-year contract at an average of USD 25 million per season.

Jeter has just closed out a 10-year USD 189 million contract. There is little argument that he is the heart and soul of the Yankees outfit. There might be some debate as to whether or not he is replaceable. There is sure to be debate as to whether or not he is worth a contract that would see his salary increase in what would be the twilight of an exceptional career as a Yankee.

The Yankees have offered Jeter 3 years and USD 45 million. So, it will be fun to watch just which side is more keen to have Jeter a Yankee. There is obviously plenty of negotiating room between USD 15 million and USD 25 million. The national pastime when games are not being played must be watching the salary negotiations of your team's favourite stars. I am an Alex Rodriguez fan even after the steroids revelations.

I wonder how much space USD 25 million takes up. Even if I saved every cent that I earned in my lifetime I would still not make 25 million. Does it fit in one very large suitcase? I don't even know what I would do with 25 million, there is only so many things that I want to buy. Where there is a will, there is a way. I guess I could work out spending it. Maybe I should have taken sports more seriously when I was younger!

FPI Wants to Study Miyabi's Latest Movie...

For the too funny category!

There are some things that are made to bring humour into our lives and alleviate the boredom that we are sometimes prone to feel. I do not intend to make light of the seriousness of the FPI threat nor the fact that they are a bunch of violence prone white-robed thugs that are more than willing to beat you into compliance with their medieval ways in their desire to see Indonesia become the Arabian Peninsula of the 7th Century. Yet, when their leader, Habib Umar Salim or "Hey Baby", comes out and says that the Islamic Defenders' Front (FPI) must first study Miyabi's first foray into Indonesian horror films to determine if it is pornography, is extremely amusing.

The image of a group of white-robed thugs watching Miyabi while their hands are strategically placed under their flowing robes so as not to embarrass themselves should make even the hardest anti-FPI person chuckle. The whole idea of having to watch the film is reminiscent of the FPI's claims to only be buying the Indonesian version of Playboy Magazine to confirm their suspicions that it was pornographic and not because they were intent on sticking the pages together so no one else could read such filth.

Hey Baby led his goons to the Maxima offices to protest the imminent arrival of Miyabi. Miyabi is supposedly heading to Indonesia to promote her film, Hantu Tanah Kusir. Maybe she has already landed in Bali or somewhere and thus leaving the FPI clutching nothing but their ...! Or maybe the whole idea that Miyabi is coming (no pun intended) to Indonesia is nothing more than a classic controversial marketing campaign.

The FPI definition of pornography is any film that includes kissing scenes with only thin clothing separating the kissers. Obviously, Hey Baby has not heard the term "Clothes Sex", you know, the simulated sex scenes while one is fully clothed (I am sure there is a much coarser word than sex though, I wonder what it is?). Hey Baby, not to be deterred and becoming somewhat emboldened by all the attention, went on to state that striptease scenes are pornographic. A striptease scene might include any scene where the actors (presumably the female ones) are wearing hot pants or skirts that do not come below the knee. If Miyabi's film includes any scenes like those ones described then it satisfies the FPI's definition of a film that is pornographic and morally reprehensible.

Strangely enough, according to Detik.com, the FPI protest did not eventuate because they did not get a permit from the police in time. If only the FPI were that law-abiding all of the time.

Robby Shine Rapes a 13-Year-Old?

Robby Shine is an Indonesian actor. He is also allegedly responsible for the rape of a 13-year-old.

Shine was in Batam for an Indonesian Film Festival (FFI) event where he was scheduled to present. However, in his spare time leading up to the event, Shine hit the town and met up with a 13-year-old fan and decided that it would be a good idea to take her to a pub, load her up with alcohol, and then take her back to his hotel. It is at his hotel that he is alleged to have raped and sexually molested her.

Apparently, Shine had promised to make the girl famous. Irrespective of the outcome of the investigation and any subsequent trial, he has in fact made her famous. I would hazard a guess that this is not what the young girl, who has been identified only as "S", had in mind when she met Shine.

The police have stated that they have the testimony of the victim and CCTV footage from the hotel that presumably confirms that the girl was there. Once the girls parents found out about the alleged sexual assault, they immediately reported it to police. Shine was arrested at the Hang Nadim airport as he was about to board a flight to Jakarta.

The festival organisers have apologised for the controversy.

Everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence until such time as they are proven to be guilty. However, if he is proven guilty and sentenced to prison, the treatment of child sex offenders in prison by other prisoners is notoriously bad. I might try and follow developments in this case, particularly whether it goes to trial and if it does, what the verdict is.

Trying this Digg It thing.

Photo courtesy of Facebook.

A River of Mud and Volcanic Ash at 100km/h...

The recent rains in and around Yogyakarta have given rise to a new Mount Merapi related threat; rivers of mud and volcanic ash.

What is most scary about this photo (courtesy of Antara) is that this river of mud and volcanic ash is flowing at about 100 kilometres per hour. The mud and volcanic ash has been transported from Mount Merapi along the Code River which flows from the side of the mountain right through the centre of Yogya.

Nature at its very best, or is that at its very worst?

Virginity: A Minority of Indonesian Youths...

A recent survey by the National Population and Family Planning Board (Badan Kependudukan dan Keluarga Berencana Nasional / BKKBN) of Indonesia has turned up some interesting results about the number of Indonesian youths engaging in pre-marital sex. The survey was conducted in 2010 and the results are the best indication yet of the state of play for Indonesian teenagers.

The survey results show that 51% of those teenagers surveyed in the greater Jakarta area of Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi (Jabodetabek) admit to having engaged in pre-marital sexual relations. This is important data to consider, especially with World AIDS Day about to take place tomorrow, 1 December 2010. The data is also important as a tool for legislators and teachers. There is an explicit and urgent need for personal development and personal health education, sex education if you will, to be incorporated into school curriculum throughout Indonesia.

The fact that there are some who would argue that sex education will only encourage children to be sexually active are really burying their collective heads in the sand. The data shows that without sex education our children are engaging in sexual activity in ever-increasing numbers. Therefore, it makes sense to ensure that our children have access to, and learn about, the most up-to-date information on sex. It is time that some people began to realise that sex education is more than getting out the old cucumber and rolling on a condom, and then saying "OK children, that is how it is done! Alrighty, back to maths!"

Outside of the Jabodetabek Surabaya is leading the way at 54%, Medan is at 52%, and Bandung is at just 47%. The survey results also indicate that more than a third of sexually active females are experiencing a pregnancy before marriage. Abortion is illegal in Indonesia except where there is a legitimate medical reason for a doctor to perform an abortion. Therefore, with such a large rate of pre-marital pregnancy prevalent in the community the risk of these youths go to backyard abortion hacks is real.

The data suggests that of the 2.4 million abortions performed in Indonesia annually, some 800,000 of these are performed on teenagers with an unwanted pregnancy. Therefore, there are good reasons for the government to consider the results of these surveys from not only an educational perspective but a public health one too.

Unfortunately, any suggestion that the government get involved is likely to be interpreted as a need to legislate morality. The chance therefore is that the government will try to criminalise pre-marital sex in more ways than one cares to poke a stick at while simultaneously committing greater resources to enforcement of draconian legal measures to stop teenagers from having sex. This sort of response only takes us back to the dark ages of times past. Yet, this is what happens when you ask crotchety old men who have not had sex in decades will do when given the opportunity.

The reason that education in this case needs to be personal development and personal health as opposed to just plain and simple sex education is that the data notes that of the 3.2 million people suffering from drug addiction in Indonesia, some 78% of them are teenagers. The data further suggests there are some links between increasing intravenous drug use and increasing numbers of young people becoming HIV positive.

In light of this (rant and rail to follow) it is imperative that the government and educators get their collective heads together and come up with a personal development and personal health curriculum that can be implemented across the board in Indonesian schools. It is critical that we educate our children so that they are forewarned and therefore forearmed. We have a responsibility, not only to our children but, to ourselves to ensure that our children have at their disposal the necessary information to make informed decisions to save themselves from harm. The reality is that we cannot, nor do we want to, live in the pockets of our children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the rest of their lives. Nevertheless, we can still give them what they need to understand the dangers and make decisions they feel are best for them.

Thus endeth the sermon!

Kim Kardashian is Dead!

It would seem that Kim Kardashian is dead.

Well, it is not nearly as tragic as it sounds. Kim Kardashian is dead in the social networking sense until she raises USD 1 million for the "Keep A Child Alive" foundation. The campaign is part of the much larger World AIDS Day campaign that happens on 1 December 2010.

So, all you KK fans out there in cyber space, open your wallets and donate if you want to see Kim rise from the dead and start wearing skimpy bikinis again!

The Birthers...Are Back!

The Birthers are those individuals who believe that Barack Obama is not qualified to be president of the United States of America because he is not a natural born citizen. Unfortunately for the Birthers, their most recent trip to the Supreme Court of the United States found that there claims were unfounded and were not sustainable, and SCOTUS dismissed the case. You can read about these latest developments at the Birthers website.

Here are some other interpretations of the ineligibility of Barack Hussein Obama II to be President of the United States (POTUS).

It seems that the Birthers are not sure where exactly the President was born or what citizenship he was born with. However, what is clear, they are certain that it was not the United States of America. It could have been Kenya, it could be the United Kingdom, and it may well be Indonesia. In any event, the confusion places the burden of proving his eligibility to become president fairly and squarely on the shoulders of Barack Hussein Obama II.

I am wondering how it was possible to pull off such a large-scale fraud of the people of the USA. Surely, Obama would have been vetted to the "nth" degree prior to him nominating for the presidency, and being nominated by the Democratic Party, right? Are the birthers for real? And do they have legitimate concerns.

Someone wake me up when it is December. Hopefully, there will be an answer to these most pressing questions and concerns.

Ho hum...

Moratorium on Indonesian Migrant Workers to Saudi Arabia...

The standard practice in Indonesia is that whenever there is an issue and it is likely that the political parties can score points off of each other or take a dig at the president, warranted or otherwise, then they will hold a meeting and call the relevant Minister to account.

In the most recent case of cheap political point scoring whilst highlighting a complete lack of appreciation for the complexity of the problem, the Minister for Labour (some might argue for manpower...but women worked the last time I checked, and labour is gender neutral) was called before Commission X of the House of Representatives (DPR).

Commission X is the commission that is responsible for labour affairs. So, it makes sense that they have a legitimate interest in the recent allegations of torture and murder of Indonesian Migrant Workers (TKI) in Saudi Arabia. However, the meeting highlighted that the Commission had already adopted a position and was merely taking the Minister to task and threatening him in the even he did not roll over and play dead like a dog. Ribka Tjiptaning of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), and the Chair of the Commission, was really only interested in saying that everybody agrees there needs to be a moratorium on sending migrant workers to Saudi Arabia and if the government ignored the DPR then there would be repercussions.

The Minister for Labor and Transmigration, Muhaimin Iskandar, took that in his stride and argued that there would not be a moratorium. The reality is the government could not afford a moratorium like the ones that have been imposed previously on Kuwait, Jordan and Malaysia.

According to Tjiptaning, the best option is to hand out cash to those individuals who are interested in going overseas to work until such time as the government creates sufficient jobs to employ them in Indonesia. What Tjiptaning is calling for is the creation of a welfare state. This may in fact be possible if the government and the relevant taxation agencies could organise themselves in a manner that would allow the collection of all tax that is due. The cash handouts that Tjiptaning envisages have got to come from some cash reserve that the government has at hand. The government does not currently have sufficient cash on hand to be able to maintain a welfare state of the size that Tjiptaning is asking for.

In terms of job creation. There is always going to be unemployment, but the goal is to get unemployment down to a level as low as it can possibly be. The government is not creating the jobs to pick up the slack if all Indonesians are suddenly prohibited from going overseas in the pursuit of gainful employment. This is why a moratorium would not work.

The other reason a moratorium would not work is that migrant workers send a lot of money home. These remittances total in the billions of dollars. This is a foreign revenue stream that benefits many Indonesians directly as it is their family members that are remitting money to them at locations throughout the archipelago.

It is pretty obvious that Tjiptaning was only interested in taking a cheap swipe at the president by citing the Philippines as an example of good migrant worker management. This example was cited because the president of the Philippines came out and defended migrant workers in a very public show of support. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) for all his short-comings has uttered the right amount of dismay and disgust at the recent happenings. Although, his idea of mobile phones for all migrant workers was a little over-ambitious and silly.

A more important issue is law enforcement. Indonesia does have a relatively comprehensive set of migrant labour laws in place. The biggest failing of these laws is the lack of proper enforcement. For example, if the law requires that a migrant worker receive 200 hours of training before departure then that is what they must receive. The reality is that not all migrant workers get that amount of training as migrant worker placement agencies cut corners in an attempt to maximize profits for themselves. This is clearly a law enforcement issue. Perhaps if law enforcement better policed migrant labour agencies and imposed maximum punishments as available under the law, then some of these problems would lessen in terms of the severity of the consequences endured by migrant workers overseas.

In any event, some of those calling for the prosecution of foreign national perpetrators of violence by Indonesian courts or extending the reach of Indonesian law in order that it operates in the foreign territories of other states, need to take some advice on how sovereignty works. The torture and brutalisation of Sumiati, for example, is a crime committed in Saudi Arabia. it is therefore a crime that must be prosecuted by the relevant authorities in Saudi Arabia.

The answer is not a moratorium. The answer is better law enforcement at home. The answer is better equipped Indonesian Embassies in placement countries so that they have the personnel and the skills necessary to deal with any incidents as they arise.

Ho Hum...

What Colour Skin Do Hobbits Have?

This may seem like an innocuous enough question, but it does have serious ramifications for the filming of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit by none other than Sir Peter Jackson. Jackson was at the helm of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and won an Oscar for his efforts. The much anticipated prequel to those films has run into myriad of problems as backers try and get the two-part film made.

The most recent controversy to afflict the film relates to a Pakistani woman being knocked back for a part as a Hobbit extra in the film. According to the casting agent the young woman, Naz Humphreys, was not "light-skinned" enough for the part of a hobbit. Hmmm....

This got me thinking. I have not read The Hobbit since I was a kid. So, it was time for a little research.

There are three types of hobbits: the Harfoots, the Fallohides, and the Stoors. Generally, hobbits are between 2 and 4 feet tall. The Harfoots are the most numerous, the Stoors are the next most numerous group, and the Fallohides are the smallest group. The Stoors are a little shorter than the others, they are also a little broader, and they are particularly fond of water and things associated with water like boating. Presumably, the additional outside time might suggest that perhaps a more tanned and darker complexion is possible. In contrast, Tolkien went to some length to set out that the Fallohides were generally fair-skinned and taller than other hobbits. The Fallohides also had close links to the elves (some inter-breeding perhaps?)

Interestingly, the advertisement that went into the Bay of Plenty newspaper looking for hobbits required men to be no more than 5ft7in and women of no more than 5ft2in in height. The ad also required women to have fairer skin tones. Although, Jackson and his company, Wingnut Films, have steadfastly maintained that there was never any such instructions given to the casting agent.

In any event, common sense in 2010 would dictate that even if you were trying to recruit potential hobbits of the fairer skin variety then you would be very explicit in making your brief one where you were seeking to cast Fallohides and not Harfoots or Stoors. Needless to say, the casting agent was fired. It is unclear as to whether Humphreys ended up scoring a part as an extra in the film.

This post is not actually about discrimination in the 21st century, rather it is to clarify what skin colour is most prevalent among the hobbit groups as described in Tolkien's works where hobbits make an appearance.

Wikipedia has a good overview of Hobbits.

29 November 2010

Lady Gaga Going Off-Line For Charity...

Lady Gaga will not be the only celebrity going offline for charity on Wednesday, 1 December 2010. 1 December is World AIDS Day. Gaga will be joined by Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Hudson, Ryan Seacrest, Justin Timberlake and a whole host of others. The celebrities will be supporting Alicia Keys and the "Keep A Child Alive" foundation.

The idea is that the celebrities go offline from all their social networking sites, including Facebook and Twitter, until the campaign reaches a certain agreed target. This year the target is USD 1 million. All the money raised is earmarked to go to needy families affected by HIV / AIDS in Africa and India.

This could be a pretty easy money spinner considering that Gaga has some seven million Twitter followers and  twenty four million Facebook friends. In comparison, I have 70 and 520 respectively. Maybe all I need to do is dress a little more provocatively?

I do not follow Lady Gaga or any of the other stars that are mentioned here. However, I am supportive of any campaign that is endeavouring to help those afflicted by the scourge of our time, HIV / AIDS.

If you can support World AIDS Day causes on 1 December. And, if you are a Lady Gaga fan, then support her.

Ariel: Round 2 of Peterporn in Bandung...

The death penalty for distributing pornographic videos seems a little bit harsh. Let's face it, a self-confessed pedophile claiming the religious protections of Islam was sentenced to a mere four years in the slammer for sexually violating a 12-year-old girl. On the balance of things, Ariel's case should have been tossed eons ago as he really should not be seeing any more time on the inside than he has already seen in waiting for this trial to get underway.

At best Ariel is guilty of being naive and maybe even a little stupid that he could make a couple of sex tapes that would never see the light of day. In this day and age of instant communication and advanced technology, it was only a simple matter of losing his laptop or having it stolen and the anonymity of these sex-capades was gone.

As it turns out, he lost possession of his laptop and the rest is history, as they say.

To be honest, this really is not the best test case for establishing how well the provisions of the 2008 Anti-Pornography Law work. It is difficult to see how the prosecution will be able to successfully establish the elements of the crime. It just does not seem likely that the prosecution will make out the actus reus or the mens rea of the criminal indictment.

Yet, the prosecutors have opted to pursue this case for reasons that remain unclear. But, now that they have, there is a course of action that must be completed. Hopefully, it does not result in a conviction and then even more embarrassment for Indonesia and the public prosecutors as the case wends its way through the appeal courts.

More exciting than the legal arguments doing the rounds in the court room are the divergent and extreme opinions present outside of the Bandung District Court. Most interesting was the call by the Islamic Reformist Movement (Garis) who is calling for the death penalty to be imposed on Ariel.

Unfortunately, or is that fortunately, for Garis the death penalty is not an option in this case. This is not a Sharia Law court and Ariel is not being tried for adultery. In any event, Ariel would be unlikely to be stone to death for his sexual liaison with Cut Tari. Although, in Sharia Law conducive circumstances, Cut Tari might fall victim to such an antiquated and barbaric form of punishment. This assumes of course that the prosecutors could established when the sex tapes were made and / or where they were made.

I would add that there is nothing reformist about calling for the death penalty in this case.

The base reality here is that this case has become bigger than it needed to be as a result of the self-righteousness of some of the police and prosecutors involved being pushed forward by others, including the white-robed thug brigade (aka FPI), to pursue this. Any self-respecting law enforcement agency would have done the "likely to convict" assessment on this case and determined that the likelihood of a conviction was remote and then decided it is better not to pursue it at all.

It is time to call it quits on this one. Let the man go. He has suffered much more on the public humiliation front than any subsequent jail term will exact. And, he will still have to explain to his child / children (whatever the case might be in the future) what daddy got up to in his younger years. I would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation (although, if I had a choice, I think I would rather be the fly on the wall in the Tiger Woods household when he has a similar conversation with his kids).

I wonder if Miyabi (aka Maria Ozawa) makes it to Indonesia whether she will swing by Bandung and catch up with Ariel. After all, she would get tongues wagging and there remains a remote chance that an Ariel and Miyabi tape could find its way into the public domain.

Release Ariel! Release Ariel Now!

Have Three Prime Ministers Really Failed Schapelle Corby?

It really is hard not to have a chuckle when stories like this wend their way into the media. Admittedly, Lawyers Weekly is not the most mainstream of media, but it is a publication that shares the concerns and voices of lawyers. So, in that sense, Kerry Smith-Douglas is a lawyer, she does represent the Corby Family in Australia (as far as I can tell), and there are interesting legal issues to be discussed and debated in this case.

Unfortunately, the significant issues that need to be debated here are not whether John Howard, Kevin Rudd, and now Julia Gillard have failed Schapelle Corby. The reality that the talking head that is Kerry Smith-Douglas fails to comprehend is that there are protocols and methods to the madness that constitute international relations that do not include successive Australian Prime Ministers jumping up and down on the spot and shaking their fingers at the democratically elected president of the Republic of Indonesia saying "give us back our girl or else!"

There is nothing funny about Schapelle Corby's case nor the predicament that she finds herself in. Kerobokan Prison is not a great prison to be doing a 20-year stretch in for smuggling drugs into the sovereign state of Indonesia. However, Kerobokan is not the worst prison in Indonesia nor is it the worst prison in Asia. Nevertheless, there are many people who think she has done enough time and it is time that she came home to Australia. Yet, it would be irresponsible to suggest that all Australians are in support of Schapelle Corby's repatriation to Australia, because they are not. There are still significant numbers of people, at least anecdotally, who argue "if you do the crime, you do the time".

This post is not about the technicalities of her conviction. If you want to read those posts then search this blog using the term "Schapelle Corby". Justice in this case was served in Indonesia. The cold hard reality that some refuse to accept is that the alleged crime occurred in Indonesia, Corby was arrested in Indonesia, she was prosecuted in Indonesia and she has been jailed in Indonesia since her conviction. The case was appealed pursuant to Indonesian law and these appeals ultimately failed. The case has be subject to judicial review and this failed to alter the result. The final step in this process is an appeal for clemency, this is pending a decision by the president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).

It is a little bit weird to now start blaming this outcome on successive Australian Prime Ministers, isn't it? This case went belly-up, it was cactus, it was poisoned way before any of the past three Australian Prime Ministers could have conceivably launched a successful intervention. What remains now is some pretty solid bilateral lobbying and diplomacy. I am sure there will be those out there who want to jump in and argue that being silent has not served their cause well. Maybe this is so, but to be honest, I have not heard silence in this case since the outset. This has been a media circus from day one.

Final point, I am not going to argue that the best solution for Corby is to wait for a prisoner transfer agreement. However, that remains an option. The best bet is some form of humanitarian clemency from the Indonesian president that sees Corby's sentence slashed to time served. The most likely outcome is that she will be released having done at least 10 years of her sentence. Therefore, the clemency appeal will be successful in gaining a reduction in her sentence to about 15 years. Then with continued remissions for good behaviour, Corby will see freedom as early as 2014.

The problem here is not three successive Australian Prime Ministers failing Schapelle Corby, the problem has always been one of bad advice in the critical first few days after arrest.

I hope she is released immediately and returns to Australia as a free woman.

Ho hum...

Miyabi Heading to Jakarta: Will She or Won't She?

Miyabi is supposedly headed to Jakarta and will be landing some time this evening Jakarta-time. This is "supposedly" because the proof of the pudding in this case is seeing the porn star coming through the gates of the immigration checkpoint and out into the swarming masses of her fans and her haters at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

The cynical would automatically see that this is a Maxima stunt designed to generate a whole lot of free publicity for the film that they have made that stars Maria Ozawa. Ozawa is known more popularly in Indonesia by her working name, Miyabi. Miyabi is a legend in Indonesia. Anecdotally, at least, Miyabi is Indonesia's most popular porn star. Her status as a true legend of her genre means that she is a true legend among the white-robed thugs of the Islamic Defenders' Front (FPI) as they claim that they will do anything that they can to ensure that she no longer has the opportunity to harm the youth of Indonesia with her filth and immorality.

If Miyabi does come to Indonesia to promote her most recent film, the very non-pornographic Hantu Tanah Kusir, then it is likely that it will be done with much less fanfare. This is because wherever she goes she is likely to be targeted by the FPI. Quite simply the producers of the film from Maxima will be outlaying more on security than they would have on putting the film together.

It is amusing to see that the producer of the film, Ody Mulya Hidayat, says he did not think that there would be this much controversy about Miyabi's return to promote the film. Yeah, right! He was expecting this controversy. It is, plain and simple, a crass attempt to milk as much attention as he can from the Miyabi phenomenon.

The reality is that Miyabi visiting Indonesia does not breach any specific laws and regulations with respect to immigration. Provided Maxima has completed all the necessary paperwork and the immigration department has signed off on it, then she is free to travel in Indonesia.

The perversely funny here is that if the FPI pulled their collective heads in, then the Miyabi visit is likely to pass without too much fanfare. The film she is appearing in is not a pornographic film. Her many Indonesian fans are going to be bitterly disappointed in the lack of skin that they get to see. The film was not destined to be a blockbuster. The hope was that the FPI would get involved and make this film a water-cooler discussion point and by default boost ticket sales as people went along to see what all the fuss was about.

The other perversely funny on this topic is that the majority of her fan base in Indonesia are followers of Islam.

The fact that the FPI are beside themselves over a non-pornographic film serves to highlight how little real controversy is out there for them to protest about.

Ho hum...

The Price of Indonesian Gold...

Gold, silver and bronze are not cheap!

The 26 medals that Indonesian athletes won at the recent Asian Games in Guangzhou is going to set the Indonesian government back some IDR 44.3 billion. In individual medal terms; a gold medal is worth IDR 400 million, a silver IDR 200 million, and a bronze medal 50 million.

Standard Indonesian practice is for medal winners and their coaches to be rewarded with a financial incentive. The idea is that the possibility of a cash payment at the end will encourage athletes to do even better. The sums of money are significant by Indonesian standards. Interestingly, the government used to pay a different incentive for teams sports however this policy was changed in the lead up to the Guangzhou Asian Games. Now, every member of a team sport is entitled to receive the same payment as individual medal winners. So, a member of a dragon boat team who wins a medal will get the same payment as, say, an archer.

Traditionally, the government has always been "big" in offering to pay incentives but have tended to take their time in paying out those incentives once the athletes arrived home. Yet, the government, through the Ministry of Youth and Sport Affairs has guaranteed that payments will be made this week. Good!

Indonesians won four gold medals in Guangzhou. Three of these were won by the men's dragon boat racing squad and one was won by the men's badminton doubles team. Each of these individuals will receive IDR 400 million. So, in the case of the dragon boat squad each of them will receive IDR 400 million for each of their gold medals for a total of IDR 1.2 billion. The women's dragon boat squad also achieved beyond expectations to finish with three silver medals. This means that each member of the women's team will receive IDR 600 million for their efforts.

The government also appreciates the efforts of coaches. Coaches of gold medal winners will receive IDR 100 million, silver medal winners will receive IDR 50 million,and bronze medal winners will receive IDR 25 million.

It is going to be interesting to see whether the change in incentive policy that rewards members of teams the same as individuals gives rise to any other changes before the next round of sports performance incentives are offered. The government clearly was not expecting the dragon boat racers to do quite as well as they did, and were not expecting to be forking out quite as much as they will be for the excellent efforts of Indonesian athletes at the Asian Games in Guangzhou.

Will with His Mum on His 2nd Birthday...

It was supposed to be a pool party! The weather and "El Nina" decided that it was time for a day of solid rain. So, the pool party became a garage party. A good time was had by all.

Will the Birthday Boy!

Here are a few photos of Will turning 2. Will shares his birthday with his grandfather (grancher) who turned 70.

A good day was had by all. However, next year is already being planned as a "kids" party.

Will the Comedian?

Another recent photo of Will "doing his thing" while eating in the food court of a mall somewhere.

The little fella has a really good sense of humour. He is forever making his mum and dad laugh. He also is a bit of a performer when other people are around. And, he has this uncanny ability to incorporate any props that he might have at his disposal. In this instance, straws. So, an entertainer or artist of some kind is definitely a possibility.

We are proud parents (if you haven't been able to tell already)!

Will the Astronaut?

A couple of photos from a recent expedition to Top Ryde Shopping Centre. These pictures were taken in front of the Australian Geographic store. It is amazing what kids pick up and remember by themselves. As we were walking through the shopping centre Will began pointing towards the astronaut and saying "astronaut", He was pretty keen to get photographed with it.

We will be happy and proud with whatever Will decides to do, but being an astronaut would not be a bad choice :)

Wikileaks: The Cables and A Hacking...

Obama and Clinton do not look happy!

Is there a cable between the US and the US Embassy in Sweden detailing a plan to derail Wikileaks by derailing its founder, Julian Assange, with trumped up rape and sexual molestation charges? The mind boggles!

Wikileaks is a bit of a juggernaut when one considers what they have been able to obtain and release over the last month or so. Let's face it, the Afghan and Iraq war documents that, among other things, detailed military and civilian casualties was a real eye-opener for many. The 250,000 cables that Wikileaks claim that it is preparing to release over the next 24 hours will be a revelation of the inner workings of US diplomacy as these cables will detail some of the nitty gritty that goes into negotiations throughout the world. The cables, particularly the public release of them, is going to ruffle a lot of feathers.

Interestingly, Wikileaks might have to release a lot of these cables through other channels as the Wikileaks website is currently subject to a "denial of service" attack. Essentially, access to Wikileaks has been compromised on a wide scale. The attack, though, is unlikely to prevent the release of the documents. Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks and an Australian, has been noted as stating that the distribution will go on through other outlets if Wikileaks remains down.

Furthermore, Assange believes that the release is tantamount to the diplomatic history of global affairs. However, my understanding is that the majority of the cables relate to diplomatic exchanges over the past three years. So, whether their release is accurately described as a global history of diplomatic affairs remains to be seen. That said, preliminary indications suggest that there is a lot of "juicy" stuff in the cables to be released.

The US government has been clear in stating that it will not negotiate with Wikileaks over the documents. The simple rationale being that the US government position is that the documents have been illegally obtained and as a result Wikileaks cannot legally publish them. If Wikileaks does publish the cables then it will be breaking US law. Nevertheless, the US government has sent a letter to Wikileaks requesting that Wikileaks does not go ahead with the planned release. The US has made it plain that any release of the cables is going to put countless lives at risk.

In essence, the letter places the ball firmly in Wikileaks court. If Wikileaks goes ahead with the release then any subsequent deaths are blood on the hands of Wikileaks. This poses an interesting moral and ethical dilemma; the need to ensure people are protected and the right to know information that effects and affects the lives of ordinary people. It would seem to be a precarious balance that Wikileaks will have to strike. Yet, judging by past history, Wikileaks seems destined to publish these documents based on the mission and vision that it has adopted with respect to making information known, particularly considering that Assange maintains that no single individual has come to any harm as a result of a Wikileaks expose of classified documents.

On that point, the cables are primarily classified as secret and / or confidential. There are no Top secret cables in the batch acquired by Wikileaks according to reports on the website Politico.

The counter position to this is basically that any release will jeopardise counter-terrorism operations and place all of the US relationships with allies and others at risk. This might be true when it is being reported that some of the cables have some pretty frank assessments of world leaders; Vladimir Putin is an 'alpha dog', Hamid Karzai is paranoid, Angela Merkel avoids taking risks at all costs, Ahmadinejad is Hitler incarnate, and Muammar Gaddafi cannot leave home without his voluptuous Ukrainian nurse.

The reality is that these documents are probably more likely to damage US diplomatic relations with their allies as the cables from reports to date suggest that they deal with the nuances of diplomacy on a personal level and involve a lot of frank assessments of the characters and personalities of a lot of important world leaders. The embarrassment factor is going to be high. Although, there are other risks here as well. The cables allegedly reveal how the US has been spying on the UN and the UN leadership. Yet, truth be told, most people expect that all countries are spying on each other and therefore countries, including the US, spying on the UN is not outside the realm of possibility.

The biggest problem with the release of these cables is that the dirty laundry in many cases has come outside to be laundered. Some of the more interesting cables apparently refer to corrupt politicians in a number of countries. Revelations of corruption might be confirmation of what is already suspected of a few of the politicians identified. Then again, it might include some new names of politicians who were thought to be clean.

I tend to lean towards publication of these cables.

27 November 2010

Domino's Pizza: A Franchising Oops Moment...

A Domino's Pizza store in Quakers Hill has copped a fine from the NSW Food Authority. The fine just happens to be a big one, the biggest so far in 2010. The fine is a hefty AUD 116,000 for the franchisee, Austotal Enterprise Partners. In addition, the director was fined a further AUD13,500 for some 24 breaches of the NSW Food Act.

The breaches primarily related to the endangering of customer health through the preparation of food in unsafe conditions. These conditions included preparing food amongst filthy appliances and rotting food. These breaches might not have been uncovered but for the complaints of customers who became violently ill from food poisoning after having eaten Domino's products.

This begs the question, "does the bad performance of a franchisee in a case such as this harm the brand as a whole?"

The reality is that this is a franchise store. It is owned by someone other than Domino's who are trading under the Domino's name.  Perhaps I should declare my past affiliations. I once managed a company-owned and then a franchisee-owned Domino's Pizza store back in a past life. Both of which were stores where the owners took their responsibilities and obligations very seriously. I believe that this is a store-specific issue and does not represent a brand-wide practice to skimp on health and safety issues in store.

Yet, that said, Domino's Pizza is Domino's Pizza no matter whose name appears in the small print on the shop-front window. So, will this harm the brand name and sales over the long term? Needles to say the store and the franchisee will be listed now on the NSW Government's name and shame file for those that breach the acceptable standards noted under the NSW Food Act.

I will order Domino's again!

Marketing 101: Distribution of Pornography...

A distribution of pornography case that does not on face value appear to involve Nazriel "Ariel" Irham of Peterpan (aka Peterporn) fame. Then again, when it goes to trial maybe the perpetrator in this case will claim that he was influenced by Ariel's attempts to distribute porn videos on the internet in order to boost sales of future albums.

This case is an interesting one because it involves the distribution of pornography to minors. The case is also one of stupid marketing ideas and no understanding of how easy this "dirty little secret" was going to come apart at the seams.

Mohammad Hisyam, a 21-year-old bakso seller and the father of one, decided that the best way to boost sales of his product was to provide free pornographic video content as entertainment while his clients ate their meatball soup (bakso).

However, the truly sad part about this is that Hisyam thought it was a good idea to show these skin flicks to primary school children. After all, the mixed-up logic here seems to be that he was parked right in front of a primary school and his largest demographic was primary school children, so pornography is the most likely gimmick to get more kiddies into the meatball soup of a morning and afternoon; idiot!

Apart from the stupidity and serious harm that Hisyam could conceivably do to impressionable primary school kiddies, it beggars belief that he believed that this marketing tactic was not going to be exposed in next to no time. The ever-increasing numbers of children knowing about the gimmick meant an ever-increasing chance of Hisyam being exposed, and he was. Hisyam's little scheme came undone when students started talking about the bakso vendor showing porn videos over a bowl of meatball soup.

It did not take the teachers very long at Kepuh Jarak State Primary School to get onto the police about this foolish man selling bakso with his free porn video entertainment side-line.

However, on the truly sublime front is that the marketing tactic saw sales rise from IDR 70,000 per day to a whopping IDR 80,000 per day. This is where common sense should have kicked in. If I get caught doing this then I potentially go to jail for 12 years and get fined a huge sum as well, are the risks worth the consequences. Common sense says NO!

So, Marketing 101: Distribution of Pornography, Mr. Mohammad Hisyam gets a FAIL!

Is This An Advertisement?

These images came courtesy of GQ Magazine in the UK. As far as I can make out it is something to do with Chinese Women's soccer. Although, to me it looks like an advertisement for underwear. Nevertheless, keeping with the theme of distracting the Yemeni beach volleyball team...

Beach Volleyball: A Follow-Up...

My Good blog friend Harry over at Multibrand reposted a musing of mine on beach volleyball, particularly the excuse used by the Yemeni team for a loss during their Asian Games campaign; women in bikinis distracted them to the point of losing matches.

So, with that in mind, and in light of the comments he received to that post, I post this follow-up. The point is how distracted will the Yemenis be once they get anywhere near the women's beach volleyball circuit outside of the Asian Games.

Some pictures of the distractions that are sure to be really and truly bothersome for the Yemenis. These images might also go some way to explaining why beach volleyball, particularly the women's game, is so popular!