28 December 2010

The Suzuki Cup: Laser Warfare? What Say You Julia Perez?

Football is important! In fact, to some it is so important that they are prepared to do whatever it takes to secure a victory for their side of choice. The extremes that some are willing to go crosses the line of fairness, sportsmanship, and fair play. One such instance is the recent Asian Football Federation Suzuki Cup Final (First Leg) between Indonesia and Malaysia.

This game was played in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia beat Indonesia 3-0. It is always a good thing to give credit where credit is due. However, if one side benefits from less than sporting assistance from their fans is credit really due?

Malaysian fans were permitted to brig laser pens into the stadium where the game was played. The fans wasted no time in making use of these lasers by shining them at, and into the eyes, of Indonesian players. To say it is distracting is an understatement. It is dangerous. If these people were to shine these lasers at aircraft they would be arrested and charged with serious criminal offenses, perhaps even terrorism. They are an embarrassment to themselves and their country. Is it cheating?

Soccer is just a game. It is great that people are passionate about their sport and the teams that they follow. It is, however, just a game.

However, the response from Julia Perez takes the cake. I am not a fan of her singing or her dancing, but I am a fan of her ability to take what skills, and "attributes", she does have and turn them into a successful career as an entertainer and one-time political candidate.

Perez reckons that there is no need for lasers in the return leg. Rather she is going to dazzle and blind the Malaysian team with her most ample of assets, her breasts. Apparently, stripping down to her bra and knickers is probably enough. Although, I would hazard a guess that a die-hard fan like Ms. Perez might be willing to go the full monty and give her Malaysian fans a full-frontal show if it meant Indonesia winning 4-0 and taking the Suzuki Cup.

Better still though would be a bra and panties-clad Perez will strategically placed lasers that she could direct at those Malaysian footballers staring at her naughty bits, where they would not only get an eye-full of what they were expecting, but also an eye-full of very bright, and distracting, red light!

Viva Julia Perez and Viva Indonesian football!

27 December 2010

Australian Cricket: A Dilemma?

The posts have been few and far between the second half of December. I guess there has been too much going on with staff development days in Moree and holidays in Fingal Bay. And, of course watching the Ashes.

I have always been a cricket fan. Perhaps that is because of the traditions and importance of the game to a great many Australians. Or perhaps because I played as a youngster and was pretty good at it. So, I figure I am as qualified as most other pundits to make a few comments on the current state of play.

Boxing Day is always a big day on the Australian cricket calendar. Not only because there is the Christmas Day hangover of giving and receiving presents and indulging in way too much food, but because this signals the start of the Boxing Day test. However, more than 83,000 fans found their way into the Melbourne Cricket Ground to watch some cricket and enjoy Australia's resurgence in this Ashes series, only to watch the best English cricket has to offer rout the best Australian cricket has to offer on a day that saw Australia bundled out for 98; the lowest total in an Ashes test since 1877 (so, I am told).

This debacle has led, and will continue to lead, to some serious public and private discussions as to the fate of some members of the current Australian team and to the people who select them.

Some hard and tough decisions need to be made if Australia is to return to the dominant position it once held in world cricket. Any failure to make these tough calls will result in Australia floundering, as it currently is, around being the 5th or 6th best nation in test cricket. This is surely not acceptable for such a proud cricketing nation as Australia. Perhaps it is time that Australia adopted the English approach to the game?

One must give credit where credit is due. England has played excellent cricket, and for the most part has out-classed Australia in all facets of the game. The English had a bit of a hiccup in the third Ashes test in Perth, but the quality of their outfit has been seen in the way they bounced back and humiliated Australia on the first day of the fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne. The test will be whether Australia can exhibit the fighting spirit for which it is renowned and salvage a draw from the shambles of day one.

But I digress. What are the hard decisions that have to be made?

It must start at the top, at least in terms of the team. The captaincy of the Australian cricket team is one of the most important appointments in Australia. It is earned and the man given the responsibility is one who has achieved and proven their ability over many years. Many argue that it ranks second to that of the prime ministership. I would argue that it is more important than that! Therefore, it cannot be given and taken away easily. Yet, Ricky Ponting, despite his impressive record of achievement, needs to make some hard choices. It is time that he stepped down from the captaincy. Now, whether he stays on and tries to maintain his position in the team as a batsman alone, as Sachin Tendulkar has done in India, is a choice for him. But he needs to unburden himself of the captaincy and get on with his cricket or give test cricket away.

I like Steve Smith, and I think he is a wonderful talent, but he is surely not the best number six batsmen in Australia in 2010, is he? Nor is he the best spinner in Australia on current form. Let's face it, I am no big Nathan Hauritz fan, but the man gets dropped from the Australian cricket team, goes back to NSW and scores a couple of hundreds and takes wickets that see NSW on top of the Sheffield Shield table but a considerable margin. Despite the criticisms of Hauritz that he bleeds runs, it would seem that the selectors have erred in their haste.

Herein lies another tough decision. Australian selectors have to choose a spinner and stick with them, give them a chance to succeed in the Australian test team and the test cricket environment. It will be a long time before there is ever another Shane Warne, if ever, but to have burned through 9 spinners since his retirement smacks of desperation.

The final team dilemma, at least in terms of this post, relates to the captaincy in waiting deal. There is no need to annoit a captaincy in waiting beyond the selection of a vice-captain. Let that be as it is. Simply, the selection of the vice-captain suggests who the next bloke will be. Now, whether Michael Clarke is the man for the job is an issue for debate. Personally, I think there are better choices out there; Shane Watson for one.

It would be remiss not to address the matter of the selectors. After all, these are the men who put their heads together to come up with an Australian team. The only question I would have is this: Is this the best that Australian cricket has to offer?

Maybe it is time that Cricket Australia thought about changing its selection panel.

The final point is about coaching. Maybe Australian cricket needs a new coach. We were spoiled during the John Buchanan years with an excellent coaching staff and exceptional players. Yet, when things are going bad, then the coach needs to accept some of the responsibility too. Maybe it is time that the current coach fell on his sword?

23 December 2010

Technicality: How to Lose USD 800,000

If you had USD 880,000 to place on the following question:

"Which popular product was first to go on sale in the US: Post-It Notes, the Sony Walkman, or Macintosh Computers?"

The big question is, would you put 800K of that on Post-It Notes? Even more importantly, how would you feel when you found out that the "correct" answer according to producers of the show, Million Dollar Money Drop, was the Sony Walkman?

This is something that Gabe Okoye and Brittany Mayi experienced recently. Gabe was so confident that the Post-It Notes went on sale first that he risked 800K of their 800K pot. But, Gawker, one of my favourite sites of late, is reporting that the answer, Post-It Notes is in fact correct, particularly when one considers that the question did not stipulate whether "sale" had to be nationally. The YouTube video clearly shows how the question was constructed and what was required.

The truth of the matter is that Post-It Notes went on sale in a number of US states for a series of market trials in 1977. The Post-It Notes then went on sale nationally in 1980. The Sony Walkman went on sale in the US in 1979

The Facebook page of Post-It Notes seems to support arguments for Gabe and Brittany getting "their" money back. Nevertheless, Fox is standing firm behind the producers of their game show and arguing that Post-It Note agrees with them that they did not actually start selling Post-It Notes until 1980. Yet, despite these protestations, it would seem that it is a fairly well-established fact that Post-It Notes have been around for sale since 1977. So well-established that the New York Times even wrote a story quoting the first forays into Post-It Note sales occurred in 1977.

If Rupert Murdoch was a man of principle then he would be ordering the Million Dollar Money Drop game show and its producers to rectify their mistake and return the money to the contestants.

Is This the Real Reason the Philippines Lost?

The Philippines went down 1-0 to Indonesia in the recent semi-final of the Asian Football Federation Suzuki Cup. Not long after that defeat, the above picture surfaced on Twitter courtesy of Rahma Azhari (@RaAzhari). The photo shows Rahma getting cozy with Simon McMenemy, the coach of the Philippines.

It appears that some supporters of the national team will go to extraordinary lengths to get a competitive advantage for their team.

Seriously though, the Indonesian national team is playing good football. The "Red and Whites" have reached the final on the back of excellent performances throughout the tournament.

So, how does Rahma Azhari get herself to an after-game party where the Philippines coach is? Is it a family thing that the Azhari's have a special interest in all things football?

Although, the last time I heard anything about Rahma Azhari it involved a good deal of nakedness and full-frontal nudity and a couple of shower scenes with her sister, Sarah Azhari. As I recall, those photos went "viral" on the web as well. Ah, Rahma, and controversy ... I wonder if I posted those pictures, hmmm!

Ariel, Is It You?

The big questions are about to be answered in the ongoing saga that doubles as the Nazriel "Ariel" Irham sex tapes trial. The biggest question of them all, in fact, "Ariel is that you in the tape making mad passionate love with Cut Tari?"

Well, according to Cut Tari, it is Ariel. There were no ifs, buts, or maybes in Cut Tari's testimony. In fact, when Cut Tari appeared to give her testimony she was asked to go to the front of the court room and watch a couple of clips of the [in]famous sex tape that she has admitted to being in. While she was there, the judges asked her who she was bumping uglies with. Cut responded, unequivocally I might add, with "why, your honours that is Ariel!"

Strangely enough, Ariel through his defense counsel is maintaining that, despite the somewhat obvious similarities between the man in the video and him, it is not him doing the bump and grind with Cut Tari. In some ways it is not hard to feel for Cut Tari. This must be an incredibly humiliating experience. She has confessed believing that the truth will set her free. Yet, it has still got to be difficult having this whole sordid affair played out in public. Nevertheless, the trial remains closed to public in order to protect the public's "innocence" and "morality" from harm.

The more interesting part about Cut Tari's testimony is that the video is placed in 2005 or 2006 as a production year. This is interesting because there is no real certainty in that time frame. So, does this mean the affair lasted for some time during that two-year period? Or, does it mean that they made so many tapes of their sexual encounters that she cannot rightly remember which tape this is? It is also interesting because Cut Tari was married in 2004. This has led to some hardliners wanting to see the whole trial process for Cut Tari cast aside and just get to burying her up to her neck and then stone the woman to death.

Folks, it is just a sex tape. It is most definitely not the end of the world as you, or we, know it! Life goes on, the band will keep playing. This whole charade is becoming increasingly not worth the effort.

Although, that said, the prosecutors are pulling out their big guns. Anton Castilani, a police officer from national headquarters has taken the stand to offer expert testimony as to whether there is any likelihood that the man in the video with Cut Tari is in fact Ariel or a very good look-a-like. Castilani's testimony seems to support the prosecution case theory that the man in the mirror is not Michael Jackson but it is Indonesia's own, Nazriel "Ariel" Irham of Peterpan fame.

I will let "you" the experts in the court of public opinion decide for yourselves. The choice bits of this photo for comparison have been pixelated. In my expert opinion, it's Ariel.

Too Much Christmas for the MUI?

Can there ever be too much Christmas cheer? Yes!

It would seem that the Indonesian arbiters of all things Islam and Muslim, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), has decided that Indonesian malls have gone overboard this year. The malls have gotten so far into the Christmas spirit that Indonesian Muslims are offended by the constant bombardment of the message of giving and peace. The MUI has a serious problem with this fat white pagan in a red suit with a long-flowing white beard, he is everywhere!

Muhyidin Junaidi of the MUI has said that this constant bombardment of Christmas cheer will lead to a very negative backlash from Indonesia's Muslim majority. According to Junaidi, the logic is obvious, Muslims do not celebrate Christmas and as such having it constantly shoved in their face would be tantamount to proselytising. Ah, Pak Junaidi, the only incitement being promoted here is by you! But, if we were to take Junaidi's logic to a logical conclusion, then all celebrations must be muted in order to not offend those that do not practice a particular faith or celebrate a particular day. Then gain, what I think Junaidi is saying is that it is OK where that celebration is being conducted by the majority. But, when it is being conducted by a minority it is then OK to discriminate against the majority and stifle their constitutional rights to celebrate.

Or perhaps, Junaidi is simply saying that any money these malls make by capitalising on the Christmas theme at this time of year is haram. Surely, the MUI could issue a fatwa that bans Muslims from putting red sprinkles on their Starbucks coffee or something. Seriously, the great majority of Indonesian Muslims that I have had the pleasure of knowing and calling friends are not offended by this time of year. They do not have to practice or even participate in the rituals that are Christmas, but they are more than happy to tolerate those that do. It is as simple as give and take; it is about mutual respect; it is about focusing on the big issues and not sweating the little stuff. It really is too bad that the MUI cannot get in touch with the vast majority of Indonesians practicing a tolerant and moderate form of the Islamic faith.

But, let's assume for a minute that a Muslim sales promotional girl was forced to wear a "Santa's little helper" outfit. And, let's assume that this is something that she finds offensive. If this young woman was fired for not wanting to wear a Santa's little helper outfit on religious grounds, then I would have a problem with that. She should simply be moved to a position that does not require her to don the Christmas garb for the duration of the festive period. Until, it reaches a stage where people are getting fired for not wearing Christmas outfits as part of their job description, then Junaidi is really only stoking the fire of religious intolerance.

To the MUI, all my Muslim friends, colleagues and acquaintances are good Muslims and good people. They are not disturbed by the fat guy in the red suit.

Ho hum...

Ariel: The Farce Continues...

Wake me up when this trial is done and dusted, please.

I have been away for a little bit more than a week. It has been nice to not read a whole lot of news. It has also been nice to be away from an internet connection, and the temptation to see what frivolity came about in the latest trial hearing in the Peterporn saga. Yet, to be honest, I feel that seeing I started this "follow it through to the end" deal, I should in fact follow through. So, holiday or no holiday, I am back posting a running commentary on why this case should never have gone to trial.

The most recent reports have covered the testimony of Hadi Supeno, the former Head of the Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI). Supeno cannot be faulted for his commitment to protecting Indonesian children. He is most definitely, at least at face value, committed to seeing that Indonesian children are protected from all manner of harm. However, he is not much of a public relations whiz. He is not good at selling the message.

The primary problem for Supeno is that he talks in generalities and the grand schemes of things. He tends to downplay the "facts" or the "science" in preference for sweeping statements about how "he knows" what will harm Indonesian children and whatever he states must be accepted as is. Unfortunately, and perhaps beneficially for Ariel, no everyone does.

According to Supeno, there are four major impacts that children will encounter as a result of the release of the Ariel / Luna Maya and Ariel / Cut Tari sex tapes, namely: the videos will increase the sexual desires of children, the videos will effect the social and mental development of children, the videos will encourage children to replicate the behaviours they have watched, and the icing on the cake, the videos will lead to an escalation in the criminal activities of children.

Ah, evidence? Boy Afrian Bondjol, Ariel's lead lawyer in the case, questioned Supeno on the four assertions he made in court, and rightly so. Supeno could only offer up that "this" is what he knows. But, Pak Hadi, you really need to stump up some research. Surely, there must be some research that supports the proposition that children who watch pornography are more likely to commit crimes. Or that children who watch porn are more likely to become sexually active at a young age. Or that these increasing numbers of sexually active children are becoming rapists and sexual predators. Any research would do.

Seriously, if this is the best that the prosecution has to offer up as supporting evidence for their desire to see Ariel jailed for up to 12 years and fined a couple of billion rupiah, then one really does need to question the wisdom of bringing this case to court. There is no justice being served here. There is only a desire to deflect public attention from more serious criminal cases and matters that continue to flounder in the deep dark abyss that is the Office of the Attorney General.

Once again, the man made a sex tape...so what? If this "case" was dropped like it should of been then people would no longer be talking about it. So, for that reason alone, perhaps there are arguments here that the Office of the Attorney General and the courts are complicit in keeping this "morally questionable conduct" by Ariel in the public eye. Why would they want to be doing that?

The Battle of the Bracelets...

Live Strong vs. Power Balance...

I don't know about you, but I am happy to wear a "Live Strong" bracelet. I actually feel pretty good wearing it too. And, what's more, I was not fleeced AUD 60 for something of questionable science. At least I know my bracelet contribution, for the most part, is going to a good cause, the Lance Armstrong Foundation. I am all for finding a cure for cancer.

Power Balance: Where's The Science?

Funnily enough I was looking at a "Power Balance: bracelet the other day in a sports apparel shop. I was having a little chuckle to myself as I was thinking about how much of a killing the makers were making when retailing these things for AUD 60 a bracelet. I saw some young bloke wearing two of them, on each arm! To be honest the chuckling was because I had not seen any "science" that backed up the claims that the bracelets in any way supported or improved performance.

The reality was a simple one; get a few famous people on board and wearing them. then let the marketing take care of itself. There are people in all markets who would want to be like David Beckham, Christian Ronaldo, Shaquille O'Neal, Rubens Barrichello, Kate Middleton, Benji Marshall, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss, and I think I have seen a few NFL players like Mark Sanchez wearing them too. The reality was an easy sell. I have seen hundreds, perhaps thousands of people wearing them.

The reality that people have been missing though is that these bracelets are currently a sham. There is no science to support claims that the bracelets improve athletic performance. The science is so lacking in this case that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has stepped in to ensure that the Australian arm of the company apologises to consumers for misleading them. 

Furthermore, Graeme Samuels, who heads up the ACCC, has demanded that the company offer to refund any disgruntled consumers who bought the bracelets thinking they were going to beat the world, in a sporting sense, but did not.

So, if you are wearing one right now, ask yourself this question: "Has the Power Balance bracelet made any significant changes to your balance, strength and flexibility since you started wearing it?" 

Truth be told, the Power Balance bracelet looks nothing more than a rubber band with a hologram on it. And, maybe that is exactly what it is: a AUD 60 rubber band!

Deliberately misleading the public about the claimed benefits of a product is likely to be a breach of the 1974 Trade Practices Act in Australia.

I wonder if the Indonesian National Soccer (Football) team has been wearing them? The national team has been doing very well of late. Their success might be all the "scientific proof" that the company needs to justify its claims!

These bracelets were first big in the United States. As far as I can tell, they are still big in the US. So, if the science is available in the US that makes the marketing of these performance tools legitimate there, then why cannot this be transferred to the Australian market? After all, I have seen Kobe Bryant in the advertising material along with Lamar Odom (Mr. Khloe Kardashian), Drew Brees, Matt Stafford, Willow Koerber, and Ricky Romero among others. Surely, all these people have not been duped into thinking that the bracelet works, have they? Surely, they would have seen the science and tested the product out and had results with it, right?

Sarcasm is not really my strong suit, is it?

Ho hum...

I'm Back...

No apologies for the lack of posts over the past week and a half or so. I have been on holidays of a sort. The first day was spent driving some 650 kilometres from home to Moree for a couple of staff development days.

As some may be aware, I have been appointed to a permanent teaching position at Collarenebri Central School. If you are wondering, it is about 140 kilometres to the west of Moree. I had never been to Collarenebri, so Dyah, Will and I made a point of driving out there last Friday to see what we were in for when we moved there sometime in January 2011.

To say that Collarenebri is a small town does not really provide those with no experience living in a small town an accurate idea of what it looks like. Collarenebri, despite town signs to the contrary, is a town of about 250 people. The town and the surrounding areas allow the school to have an enrolment of somewhere between 80 and 100 students. Nevertheless, it is a really small town. Yet, it seems a logical progression in the “scaling-down” that we have been doing of late; Jakarta, Sydney, and now Collarenebri.

I guess the point of emphasising small town is that the main street has a pub, a supermarket, a newsagent, and a post office on one side and a service station on the other. That is pretty much the main street. Oh, the post office also doubles as a bank, the Commonwealth, and a few other services as well.

Some of the things that we have learned during our recent visit have been interesting to say the least, but have not dented our enthusiasm to pull up stumps and move there. Apparently there is no mail delivery in Collarenebri. Everyone has a post box at the post office and collect their mail from there.  As we were walking up the main street we learned from a poster in the community health / welfare shopfront that it is also necessary to boil one’s water before drinking it. Hmmm, I wonder where we have had to do that before?

Anyways, the staff development days were an excellent opportunity for me to meet all my new colleagues and to learn a little about what is in store for 2011. I am pleased that I was invited and glad that I made the effort to get there. I learned quite a bit about where the school is with regard to things like Naplan and how the school is working to improve outcomes for all students. The staff are a dedicated bunch, and I am looking forward to getting out there and into the classroom and doing my bit.

In the ‘what goes up, must come down’ category, getting to Moree was only half the story. Once the staff development days were done and dusted it was time to make that 280+ kilometre round trip to Collarenebri. The following day, we were off on “holiday”. This required another short trip of some 550 kilometres from Moree to Fingal Bay.

And, now a further short jaunt of 220 kilmetricos has seen us arrive home. Now, the wait for Santa begins in earnest.

11 December 2010

Miley Cyrus and the Salvia Sessions...

I have to offer my sincere thanks to Ms. Miley Cyrus for reminding me of this interesting Mexican herb with the hallucinogenic properties. I wrote a couple of blog posts on Salvia way back when. Salvia is illegal in Australia with respect to possession for the purposes of smoking it and getting stoned. Australia was one of the first, if not the first, countries to ban salvia. However, my understanding is that salvia, despite its hallucinogenic effects, is classed as a herb in the US and it is legal to possess it and presumably smoke it, if one so desires.

Now, as a role model, although I am not sure what kind of role model she is, Miley Cyrus probably does not want to be promoting smoking, particularly smoking herbs that take you to some pretty weird and way out there places. Just do a search of salvia on YouTube and see what pops up.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that she has not in fact broken any laws in the state of California where this video was allegedly shot. How the video came to light is a case of alleged theft of a friends video camera. You can watch a reasonable copy of the video here.

Interestingly, Dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, took to Twitter to profess his disappointment in his daughter's actions. He also intimated that there were some things beyond his control right now. That, Mr. Cyrus, seems to be a pretty good candidate for understatement of the month. In any event, Mr. Cyrus, your daughter is 18-years-old and is legal, and legally if she wants to smoke herbs then she can do so. Whether it is smart to be a smoker at such a young age, or any age for that matter, is an irrelevant point to whether you have, or could conceivably gain, some sort of control over Miley's actions.

Let's face it, you, Mr. Cyrus were initially in favour of a provocative photo shoot that saw an underage Miley Cyrus doing a topless shoot. Hmmm, control, yeah, right!

There is also a copy of the video here.

In the end, perhaps if it is a role model she wants to be, then maybe parents might want to start using the emerging train wreck that could become Miley Cyrus, the adult, as how not to do things. That said, perhaps the lesson is about managing fame and fortune while protecting a wholesome and commercial image.

10 December 2010

Carols by Candlelight...

There are always plenty of ways to identify the season to be jolly. However, carols by candlelight are always fun. This is the first one we have been to since we have been back. I cannot recall why we did not go last year. Anyways, we decided to walk up the road to Panania Public School and check out the festivities.

It was like a mini fair. There were all sorts of goodies on sale. There were also a lot of attractions for the youngsters. There was a small train, pony rides, bungy trampolines, and throw downs. They were called throw downs when I was a kid. I thought them to be banned, oh well! The evening concluded around 9.00pm with a brief fireworks display.

There was also a group of Samoan Church singers who provided the Christmas Carols entertainment. They were excellent. They are also performing tomorrow (Saturday) at the Panania Markets. We will probably see them again. I am sure that if Will hears them, then we will almost certainly be moving closer as he really got into the carols and was bopping away.

Some photos of the occasion.

 Will with his Nan taking a ride on the pony!

Will and his mum doing the joget thing!

Will looking pleased with himself and mum looking like she is having a good time!

Sheila Marcia, Anji, and Leticia

I have been thinking of doing an update piece on Sheila Marcia Joseph. The former drug convict and now mother. The piece was to be a sort of "how to turn your life around, or not". So, I have been surfing around the internet today in search of some background. I then came across this choice piece on Blogindostar. It is difficult to read, but it is an excellent advertisement as to the limitations of translation programs. My guess is that this is likely Google translate as it is the easiest to access free online, or at least it was when I last had a look at it.

So, if any one does need some translation done. I offer reasonable rates and a quality guarantee.

Maybe, I will get around to writing that piece, but in the meantime, enjoy reading this superb bit of translation work.

"Drive band vocalist, Anji recognize if a child is Sheila Marcia, Leticia Agraciana Charlotte Joseph, were as children. The decision to admit it's been thought for a long time. "Yeah I'm Leticia is a child," he said at the Global TV studio in Kebon Sirih.

According to Anji Drive, if Leticia is her confidence grew when he saw and picked Leticia. "Her lips are very similar to me, thick. Pas cradled him like there is bonding and indeed earlier in the month of August Sheila could let me know if she was pregnant with me. Honesty really shocked and sad, but yes to know how else has happened, yes thank and grateful for it, "added singer song 'Perfect Woman' is.

Moreover, said Anji, she did not need to do a DNA test. "It is necessary pake DNA test, I was sure if he's me. After all of Sheila or her mother Leticia Sheila also felt sorry when you grow up. Leticia was afraid he was browsing on the Internet will know dianya pity, so you do not have to be better, "he added.

Throughout the interview, Anji always praised Sheila. "I know how strong she was maintaining her womb and everyone must admit that Sheila is a very powerful woman. Imagine a new course was pregnant and in jail by listening to the talk that is not necessarily pleasant. According to me it was amazing," he explained.

Communication between Anji and Sheila were spelled out quite smoothly. From start to Sheila Sheila gave birth to contain both still communicate. However, it was when Sheila gave birth to Anji not be next to Sheila. This was done because of thinking about feelings Anji many parties. "I must consider many things, especially Rini. Because at that position I and Rini had been returned again."

"I must also consider the family Rini, family, management and the band, and it must dipikirin while the news was very intense that I was the father. It's stressful for all parties to press," he continued. Anji also apologize to all parties. "Make it all before I apologize and if the rumors arise, I'm sorry I know this is not good to do. But with my good intentions this hopefully will not happen to other people."

"Create Sheila thanks for being a great woman and aunt (Sheila mom) thanks for keeping Sheila and make Leticia hopefully become a strong boy." "The problem with his foster the rights, I would treat him why. But for now Sheila said you would ngasuh itself once said," he closed."

Dewi Persik [Not] Nude...

Another day, another FPI led controversy of insignificant proportions. The FPI and their anti-porn 'crusade' has reached another level of absurdity. The Islamic Defenders' Front has decided that a couple of topless photos of Dewi Persik are so obscene that it is time to pay her a visit at home and toss rotten eggs at her house. There is without a doubt some tossing going on, but it is not rotten eggs!

The arbiters of all things moral, the FPI, has decided to report Dewi Persik (sometimes spelled Perssik) to the police because their are nude photos of her on the internet. First things first. The FPI knows this how? Someone told them so? Or do they have a dedicated department of porn surfers in their ranks whose sole task is to surf the internet and find Indonesian porn? If the second option is the go, and apparently it is, then the FPI should be looking to contract out their services to the Ministry of [Mis]Communication and [Mis]Information. I am sure their polygamous leader and world-renowned porn expert, Tifatul Sembiring (TitS), will be most interested.

Dewi Persik's claim to fame has always been her sexy image. She has built her entire dangdut career around the concept of "if you have it, flaunt it". And, that has worked very well for her. Her personal life might not be an encyclopedia of success stories, but then again whose is? However, professionally she seems to be doing very well, thank you very much!

The FPI claim that they had to make the report because that is what the community wanted and because the Indonesian Koranic Recital Council demanded it. So, what were the Indonesian Koranic Recital Council doing looking at porn anyway? Or if they are just going on the hearsay or others, then it is about time these crotchety old men in white robes took the time to have a sneak peek at what it is they are complaining about and demanding police action on.

Seriously, Dewi Persik's breasts, no matter how perfect, are not going to damage the moral fabric of the Republic of Indonesia. Let's face it, a sustained assault on Indonesia's morality and ethics by the New Order took care of any lingering questions on that front. Quite simply, the world, and Indonesia, as we know it, is not going to end because of a topless photo of Dewi Persik appears online, particularly one where her breasts are covered by her rather long hair. Maybe if she was wearing a jilbab it would have been all OK?

There are four pictures that form the basis of the report. Three of them apparently nude and one with her kissing Ahmad Dhani. All images freely available on the internet.

This is so much a non-issue, but it does explain why there has been a run on my blog today of visitors looking for porn images of Dewi Persik. I have heard that there are a few full-frontal shots out there, but the above images will have to do for now.

Luna Maya, Ariel and Pemuda Pancasila...

So, what is the Pancasila Youth (Pemuda Pancasila) doing at the Ariel sex tape trial?

Part of the interest of watching a controversial celebrity trial is watching how the support for and against the defendant align themselves. A trial about sex tapes, and pornography generally, is certain to bring them out.

So, how do they align in the Ariel distribution of sex tapes case?

On, the one side you seemingly have the self-righteous Garis or the Islamic Reform Movement who would like to see Ariel get the death penalty for his lack of morals. To be clear, Garis is about the creation of an Islamic state. It is not about reform of Islam and the promotion of moderate Islam. So, Garis lines up fairly well with the other resident evil in Indonesia, FPI.

The Islam Defenders' Front or, as some people prefer, the white-robed thugs, also would like to see Ariel punished severely. However, there was a moment or two there where the FPI thought Ariel might want to repent and get more in touch with his Muslim spiritual side. Unfortunately, from an FPI marketing point of view, Ariel seems to have chosen a different path to redemption than the one offered by FPI. Strangely, or perhaps logically, enough these are the folks that find themselves aligned with the government through the Office of the Attorney General and the public prosecutors tasked with garnering a conviction.

On the other side, is just about everyone else. Everyone else here includes not only the long-suffering girlfriend, Luna Maya. Tere is also Ariel's daughter and extended family. And, also his dyed in the wool fans, and just about anyone with a shred of common sense. However, also lining up on this side of the equation is Pemuda Pancasila.

Having a look at the photo (thanks Kapan Lagi), it would seem that the Pancasila Youth are there in support of Luna Maya as her personal security. This is probably not a bad idea in a lot of respects. I am not a fan of Pemuda Pancasila, never have been and will never likely be. To each their own though. So, why is it not a bad idea. Well, it is not a bad idea because the police thought the potential for violent conflict at the trial in the District Court in Bandung was so great that they thought it necessary to deploy 600 armed officers. It is a good idea because the FPI and  Garis have threatened violence and intimidation. It is a good idea because this whole trial is a media circus. Therefore, in order to plow your way through the waiting throng a bevy of beefy lads is probably just the thing.

I have heard that this kind of close personal protection is not a hugely expensive deal. So, if the figures I have seen being bandied about are true then somewhere between IDR 60,000 and IDR 150,000 is a pretty good deal. It is also real value for effort for the Pancasila Youth boys as well. Nothing like a little bit of exposure in order to advance one's goals. It would seem that the Pancasila Youth are affiliated with the West Java Chapter and under the auspices of Kang Dasep.

Yet, in the big scheme of things, this is all a side show and an unhappy distraction. I would really like to know what sort of personal toll this is taking on Ariel and Luna Maya, particularly their relationship together. To be honest, it is nice to actually see the degree of loyalty that Luna Maya has. She turns up to each trial hearing and she professes her love of Ariel and her disappointment in the process, particularly the fact that charges were ever pursued and laid.

The question, if I had permission to ask one, would be "will you last?" Take that as you will. Maybe it is will you last personally? Maybe it is will you last as a couple? Maybe it refers to whether there are lasting careers to be repaired here? My personal hope is that the case runs out of steam and just dies where it stands. So, my second question follows on from the first in that sense, "where do you go from here?"

There will undoubtedly be more posts on this. I think it is time to look at a few more issues in depth and do a little bit of critical legal analysis on matters such as retroactive use of laws, legal representation, prosecutorial discretion or misconduct, and the like.

So, perhaps this story needs a narrator, maybe we should 'call him Ishmael'!

Luna Maya Is Sad...

I abominate all honourable respectable toils, trials, and tribulations of every kind whatsoever. It is quite as much as I can do to take care of myself ...

- Ishmael (From Moby Dick)

It is the essence of gossip that there are so many personal struggles that would be time better spent that gloating over the trials and tribulations of others as we watch their lives unravel on national TV and in the tabloids. Ho hum...

The saga that is Peterporn and the trial of Nazriel 'Ariel' Irham is destined to take its toll on many more than just the man in the middle of all this. There are those novice female porn stars who took part in the sex tapes, the extended families of all, the lawyers and prosecutors, and the fans and other supporters. Perhaps it is worth having a sneak peak at Luna Maya and her struggles with this particular 15-minutes of fame that she did not expect or seek.

Luna Maya was famous before this sex tape, and she will continue to be famous after it. The sex tape will be something that is always there, but ultimately it is not going to be the sole event that defines her or her career. There is no doubt that the public's fascination with the intimate details of the sex lives of the rich and famous will ensure that the sex tape always remains an interview question, the reality is that there will be other celebrities with more juicy scandals to follow in the future. Once this trial is done and dusted, then interest will subside and life will get back to some degree of normalcy for all involved, including me.

Luna Maya is the girlfriend in this sex tape saga. The video that she is in is a grainy, poor quality mobile phone job. What is sad about this is that people film themselves all the time. What is sad about this is that sometimes these "home movies" include footage that is better left in private circles. What is sad about this is that despite your best intentions, there are always those that will exploit your fame for 15-minutes of fame for themselves. What is sad is that the ignorant here are winning the war.

This is just a sex tape, nothing more and nothing less. It is not earth-shattering footage. It is not the end of the world. God is not going to cast thunderbolts down to earth and destroy it and us because Ariel and Luna Maya got down and dirty. More to the point, and God aside, there has been no crime committed here. This is a tape that was created for personal purposes. I am pretty sure it was not created for the purposes of playing on the big screen in the background to future marriage nuptials. I am not going to judge them for making the tape. To each their own.

The legal issues are just as interesting to me as the fascination we have as human beings with the misfortune of others. For example, if Ariel is guilty of helping distribute the sex tape, then where is the actual perpetrator who did the distributing? And, why is this person not on trial somewhere? Even more critical is the chain of possession of the offending sex tapes.

The prosecution case looks weak, very weak. One has to wonder why this case ever went forward, particularly as it seems to be a "test case" with respect to the provisions of the law indicted here.

If the tapes were stolen, then Ariel and Luna Maya are victims. So, if Luna Maya is sad, she has a right to be.

Jesus: Wine-Guzzling Vagrant and Precocious Socialist?

Jesus Christ is a "wine-guzzling vagrant precocious socialist"!

Is this one of those things where your first reaction is to smile and have a little chuckle to yourself while thinking "hmmm, this is certainly going to ruffle a few feathers!"?

Perhaps the more pertinent question is "would this insult on Jesus be enough for you to pull your child out of school?" In the US state of New Hampshire, it is and was. Aimee Taylor pulled her son, Jordan Henderson, out of school because he was assigned 'Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America' by his teacher at Bedford High School.

The book was assigned in a class on personal finances. This seems like a pretty good choice considering the book is a first-hand account of how the author, Barbara Ehrenreich, tries to get through life working on the minimum wage. The book is one that seems appropriate for the American context. It would not work in the Australian context nearly as well seeing the concept of minimum wage in Australia is one where an award is set and this is generally significantly higher in comparison to that of the US.

The story seems "tailor-made for Fox News Channel", no pun intended. Fox enjoys the opportunity to "bang on" and bash anything that does not fall within the strict parameters of conservative politics. A school assigning this book to a 16-year-old student is sure to be indicative of a declining America. Ho hum...

To be sure, this is not a book review. I have not read the book. I might look for it next time I am at the book store. This post is merely commentary on the value of "banning" books. There are reasons for reading books that we might find to be "junk" or even offensive. There is nothing stopping this young man writing critically about the content and exploring how the author got it so wrong or how the use of the "offensive" does not add to the tome in any substantial or significant manner.

For all I know, the book may be total crap. Yet, the point was one of critical literacy and to encourage students to explore points of view, even offensive ones, as a means of increasing there awareness of issues and allow them to cast a critical eye over the views of others. This is not a bad thing. I encourage my students to be critical, and critically aware as this allows them to bring their own prior knowledge and experiences into the overall learning experience. Once again, this is not a bad thing.

Admittedly, I am a little green to the world of organised education where there are departmental policies to be considered and followed. That said, it would seem that the relevant school authorities were clued in on this book choice.

In the end, criticism of the American Dream is not something that is out of bounds, is it?

If you are interested, then Amazon has a copy or two.

Has Obama Quit Smoking?

Robert Gibbs, the White House Press Secretary, has said he has not seen the "Boss" on the cancer sticks for some nine months. However, he knows that the smoking habit (or addiction) is one that the President struggles with on a  daily basis. Yet, there has been some suggestion that Obama has gone "cold turkey" and no longer smokes. Let's face it, if the man was not smoking, he would surely be drinking, right?

But, in all seriousness, good luck to the man. He will be much better for it, if he has indeed pulled the plug and ceased to ingest the toxins that are cigarettes.

I am wondering whether the commander-in-chief quitting the smoking habit is going to have any direct impact on others? Will people take the Obama worship stuff to the level that they will quit too? Conversely, will Republican and Tea Party types start smoking just to prove how anti-Obama they really are?

The mind boggles.

I have never been a smoker. But, I am in support of laws and regulations that restrict where the habit can occur in public places. If smokers want to smoke and kill themselves in the process,then I am fine with that. If they want to argue that they have a human right to kill themselves with tobacco,then I am fine with that. But, if they want to invade my space with nasty cancer-causing fumes, then they are invading and violating my basic human right to life, and that is something they must be restricted from doing.

However, if I am stupid enough to go to a place where smoking is still permitted, legally, such as just about anywhere in Indonesia (although there are regulations in place to protect public facilities, but enforcement is slack), and ingest those nasty fumes then that is a personal choice of mine and the consequences are ones that I must live with.

So, what does the 'big man' say? Well, Obama acknowledges that it is a struggle and that it is one where he has fallen off the wagon on occasion. But, he is not a daily smoker. Giving credit where credit is due. That, sir, is a good start.

The images, if you are wondering, are pulled from the internet. Speaking of which, it would seem that the first two images are mirror reversed and one of them has been photoshopped. Iwill leave it to the experts to work out which one! The last one is really just to suggest that smoking is really like rolling up your own cash and burning it...priceless or pointless?

08 December 2010

Wikileaks and Kevin Rudd...

It must hurt to be Prime Minister of Australia and then be described by the US Ambassador, a close ally, as "a mistake prone control freak". But, to Rudd's credit, he does not give a damn. And, he makes a good point that there has been worse written about him in the past and there is likely to be worse written about him in the future. So, his job is to get on with the job of being Australia's number one diplomat.

Nevertheless, the scathing assessment suggested that he was also abrasive and impulsive while being not up to the task according to this little burst from the former US Ambassador:

''Rudd … undoubtedly believes that with his intellect, his six years as a diplomat in the 1980s and his five years as shadow foreign minister, he has the background and the ability to direct Australia's foreign policy. His performance so far, however, demonstrates that he does not have the staff or the experience to do the job properly.''

And, this was from just over 12 months ago. However, this was generally the gist of most assessments fired off by the former US Ambassador, Richard McCallum, to the former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and more recently the current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

The micro-management style of the former Prime Minister and his habit of undertaking large commitments without first consulting those that would be doing the hard yards in getting the initiatives up and running was ultimately his downfall. So, there really is nothing all that surprising or new in the diplomatic cables being leaked by Wikileaks. Perhaps, Kevin Rudd knows himself well enough to know the blunt assessments of him are one interpretation of his manner and style. He might not agree with those assessments, but it is probably true that he does not give a damn.

So, what is next on the Wikileaks front for Australia's diplomats?

Muslim Women Travelling Without Male Kin...

The fact that Indonesian migrant workers, especially women, are abused overseas is a tragedy. However, the fact that some would use this to push an agenda that says Muslim women should not travel far from home without male relatives by their side almost reads like, "well, you travel alone and against the wishes of Allah, then you get what you deserve!"

To then say that you are more interested in protecting the rights of women and calling for a moratorium on the sending of female Indonesian migrant workers abroad rings hollow and is hypocritical. Women do not deserve to be protected just because they are women. Women deserve to be protected because they are human beings. Women need to be protected, like men, because they have a right to earn a living and provide for their families. Women have a right to travel to find those opportunities if those opportunities exist outside of the village that they live in or the country they call home.

The reality here is that the laws exist in the migrant working sphere that should already be sufficient in most cases to protect migrant workers while they are overseas. The problem is one of enforcement on the Indonesian side of the equation. The other reality that most people fail to understand is that in most cases the prevailing laws and regulations of the country where the migrant working is employed are the ones that will operate when crimes are committed. So, an Indonesian migrant worker abused in Saudi Arabia will find that the perpetrators of violence against her are subject to Saudi laws and regulations. This is the nature of sovereignty.

I am certain that Indonesians would not want other nations riding roughshod over their sovereignty and seeking to impose their laws and regulations on them. So, why is it that in this instance Indonesians want their government to impose Indonesian laws extra-territorially on offenses being committed in Saudi Arabia?

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is not certainty of "fixing" the problems of abuse. Once again, the laws and regulations already exist, both in Indonesia and in Saudi Arabia, this is a case of enforcement.

But, alas, I digress. Back to the topic at hand.

My personal view is that where basic human rights and religion clash at the coal-face, then it is the basic human rights that must prevail. The idea that women do not have the intelligence to make decisions for themselves about what is in their best interests bothers me. The vast majority of women and men that I known are more than capable of making decisions for themselves about what is in their respective best interests. So, to suggest that for Indonesian Muslim women the best decision makers are crotchety old men in white robes is something I find offensive.

According to The Jakarta Globe, twelve Muslim organisations have come together and have decided to lobby the government for a moratorium. No news there with respect to the moratorium. The idea that the only way to solve the abuse problem is to ban Indonesian women from going to places like Saudi Arabia is akin to burying one's head in the sand. And, it is self-defeating as Saudi Arabia will just get its domestic servants from other places. It also fails to recognise that a lot of the funding that these Muslim organisations receive actually wends it way to them through processes that include remittances made by Indonesian migrant workers.

The Nahdlatul Ulama position is "let's lobby for a memorandum of understanding" and ban all Indonesians from going to Saudi Arabia until we get one. Although, I am guessing this would exclude Indonesians doing a pilgrimage to a holy place.

The more interesting of The Jakarta Globe quotes comes from Muhammadiyah which said "... under Islam, Muslim women were not allowed to travel far from home without being accompanied by male kin ...". This was then supported by Said Aqil Siradj, Chairman of NU, who said that Islam expressly forbade women from going abroad to seek money unless it was absolutely necessary, “If they just want to gain more wealth overseas, that is not allowed.

This begs the question, "when is working for money not about generating wealth?" But, probably, more important is who should provide for these Muslim women who are prohibited from earning wealth for wealth's sake when they cannot find employment within Indonesia to support themselves or their families. The government is not able to provide or guarantee this. It is also pretty certain that the twelve Muslim organisations in this pact are not able to provide the same levels of financial security that these migrant workers, particularly women, can find from going overseas. This is definitely a more pressing issue than an MOU, isn't it?

Thus endeth another rant and rail at The RAB Experience.

Treespotter: Anonymity and World Domination...

It is interesting to see interviews with anonymous people, particularly bloggers, become newsworthy. The Treespotter is certainly an anonymous blogger that is worthy of an interview of this kind.

I ummmed and ahhhhed about posting this only cause I did not want to seem like I was piggy backing on his fame. Yet, I like the man's work and I enjoy reading his views as he works on his plan of world domination.

Perhaps the "Puff Doggy" avatar by Daniel Peacock has more to do with the laid back plan of world domination than it does with anything else. According to the interview, but I knew this already, the "treespotting" moniker has to do with using trees as land marks or simply just as markers. The idea that a distinctive tree can guide you from place to place as you meander your way through this existence is an excellent one. As human beings we use markers all the time to measure and evaluate our progress.

It is also an apt choice because the Treespotter himself is a marker of sorts to many people. There are at least 13,000 Twitterers who use him as a marker for all things commentary on social, political, economic, technology and media issues.

So, it goes without saying that I subscribe to his blog and Twitter feeds. There is nothing quite like watching the to and fro on Twitter and other places once the Treespotter gets into the game.

The man has an innate ability to pose the real tricky questions, you know, the ones that everyone is thinking about but unsure of where or how to ask it. The man has no obvious fear of putting it out there. Yet, that is what probably attracts people, or "followers", to him. It is the idea that there is someone out there trying to "keep the bastards honest".

I once read a book, although I cannot remember the name of it, but the storyline is one where the world is run by this man who many people know, but nobody knows. To all intents and purposes a regular man with absolute power. I often remember that story line when I think of the Treespotter. I think I would be happy to live in a "treespotting" world.


The recent post that I did on Sarah Palin describing Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame as a terrorist that must be hunted down in the same manner as the US is supposedly hunting down Osama bin Laden has led me to discover the word "Palinisms".

The word has made it into the Urban Dictionary and is defined as follows:

1. Malapropism, non-sensical verbiage, non-sequitor or other illogical, stream of concious meanderings uttered by Sarah Palin.

2. A form of homespun, Midwestern demagoguery and fear mongering comprised of a stream of logically unrelated and unsupported talking points uttered by an attractive woman with nice cans and a presumably fine ass intended to engender loyalty among those inspired by demagoguery, non-sequitors, a great smile, nice tits and a presumably fine ass.

Or, alternatively, like this:

1. An ambiguous colloquial expression that may cause confusion and be interpreted in different ways depending upon circumstance.

2. A statement that has no known basis in science or reality.

3. A statement of religious identity.

So, what does a Palinism look like (courtesy of The Huffington Post):

“Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be-all, end-all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet.” -- CBS interview with Katie Couric, September 25, 2008

"As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where – where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border."
-- CBS interview with Katie Couric, September 25, 2008

"So we discussed what was going on in Africa. And never, ever did I talk about, Well, gee, is it a country or is it a continent, I just don't know about this issue."
-- Fox interview with Greta Van Susteren, November 11, 2008

“I don’t know if I should Buenos Aires or Bonjour, or… this is such a melting pot. This is beautiful. I love the diversity. Yeah. There were a whole bunch of guys named Tony in the photo line, I know that.”
-- Addressing a Charity of Hope gathering, Hamilton, Ontario, April 15, 2010

“Obviously we loved sports, and the baby was born during the spring track season.”
--Going Rogue

“Believe it or not – this was in the 60s – we used to hustle on over the border for health care that we would receive in Whitehorse…. Isn’t that kind of ironic now. Zooming over the border, getting health care from Canada.”
-- Speech in Calgary, Alberta, March 6, 2010

"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."
-- Facebook, Aug. 7, 2009

"When the American people elected President Obama they gave him responsibility to handle this disaster. He promised to “heal the earth, and watch the waters recede...” or something far-fetched like that."
-- On the oil spill, May 27, 2010

“I didn’t believe the theory that human beings – thinking, loving beings – originated from fish that sprouted legs and crawled out of the sea. Or that human beings began as single-celled organisms that developed into monkeys who eventually swung down from the trees.”
--Going Rogue

“With the gray Talkeetna Mountains in the distance and the first light covering of snow about to descend on Pioneer Peak, I breathed in an autumn bouquet that combined everything small-town America with rugged splashes of the Last Frontier.”
--Going Rogue

"I think it's appalling and a violation of our freedom of the press."
—On negative media coverage of Republican congressional candidate Vaughn Ward, Boise, Idaho, May 21, 2010

"Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn't it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate."
—On plans to build an Islamic community center near Ground Zero, via Twitter, July 18, 2010

"'Refudiate,' 'misunderestimate,' 'wee-wee'd up.' English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!"
—Tweet, July 18, 2010

"I'm not politically correct. I am not one to be a word police."
-- Fox interview with Chris Wallace Feb. 7 , 2010

"I didn't really had a good answer, as so often -- is me."
--On writing notes on her hand for the Tea Party convention address, March 5, 2010

07 December 2010

What Do The Indonesian Cables on Wikileaks Reveal?

Tongue in cheek...

Someone asked me whether I thought the 3000+ diplomatic cables that Wikileaks are leaking on Indonesia will be interesting and worth a read. My answer, Yes!

No matter what is in these cables, they are going to make for interesting reading. This is particularly so for those who consider themselves knowledgeable on all things diplomatic and Indonesia / USA relationship wise. For those that are truly in the know, or those that are on the coal-face of this relationship, or those who are passionate about the study of the Indonesian / US bilateral relationship are likely to be more disappointed than anything else. These are secret and confidential cables. They will include some nice tidbits and probably some comments that will cause offense both at home and abroad, but they are unlikely to be earth shattering.

Yet, it is worth putting a modifier on that. For example, if one of the cables included a statement to the effect that there was evidence that SBY was on the Bakrie payroll, now that would be a pearler. It might not be earth-shattering, let's face it, it would be an easy assumption to make considering the ease with which Bakrie gets "passes" on everything that should tarnish and sink him for ever as a political player. Nevertheless, it would be fun to watch the fallout and the subsequent spin.

So, in light of the question, here are a couple of choice cable exchanges that I would be intrigued to read:

"SBY prefers to sing than to lead!"

Or, "the 2009 election was clearly not fair despite what the Carter Center may have said in its report. Evidence suggests that on the orders of SBY, Partai Demokrat spent huge sums of money to manipulate voting in areas outside of Jakarta!"

Or, "SBY: can't sing, can't dance, can't lead, all round waste of time, effort, and space. Indonesians are holding out to 2014 believing something is better just around the corner!"

Or, "despite public protestations to the contrary, SBY has performed poorly on key election promises relating to corruption and terror."

Or "the recent good results on the elimination of terrorists is really nothing more than elements of the national police and military cleaning house and tidying up some 'loose' ends!"

Or, "The Minister for Communication and Information is publicly an avid anti-porn advocate however he is known to frequent massage parlours that offer a plus plus service. Obviously, the man has an insatiable appetite for the bump and grind considering he has four wives and seven known mistresses!"

Or, more on TitS..."the Minister for Communication and Information's staff have been secretly trying to set up a session with Vicky Vette to determine whether she was serious about her offer to 'pleasure' the Minister. It is widely known that the Minister has a 'thing' for blondes with big breasts. One of his staff members noted that the Minister was a 'TitS man'. Maybe he meant that TitS is the man?"

Or cables along those lines. I could go on and on and on with the possibilities. I am sure that you, if anyone reads this, will have some of your own. So, feel free to share.

Once again, this is tongue in cheek. No 'real' offense is intended.

Customer Service with a Smile: The Jetstar Way...

So, your baby has just died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome / SIDS while you were on a group holiday booked through Jetstar. You booked with Jetstar to maximise the benefits of cheap flights and accommodation package deals. You are looking at changing your flights in order to deal with the tragedy within the relative safety of your own home with family and friends. Unfortunately, you find out that changing your flights and leaving your holiday on the Gold Coast early is certain to be problematic. You call Jetstar to organise the changing of flight details only to be told you will have to prove that your baby is dead or you will be slugged with AUD 600 in additional fees and charges.

Jetstar demands that these fees be paid upfront before you fly. According to Jetstar, they are going to contact the family and they are to be fully reimbursed. However, that really is not the customer service point is it? Seriously, how many people do you know who are going to call an airline or front up at the ticket counter and try and claim that they need to change their flights because one of their children has died of SIDS if it did not happen? I appreciate there are people out there that might, but they are in the minority, aren't they?

Jetstar has argued along the lines of "We deeply sympathise with our passengers in such situations and seek to be as flexible and accommodating as possible." Yeah, right! It is all about the dollars and cents. There is no compassion or sympathy exhibited by Jetstar in this instance. And, the above statement might make them feel better about themselves, but it shouldn't. Neither should this justification be considered valid as representative of sympathising with passengers suffering tragedy in their families "If documentation is unable to be provided at the time, change fees and fare difference applies — however, the amount is fully reimbursed once the documentation is provided."

Jetstar really should be ashamed of themselves in regards to the way this family was treated.

I am not going to fly Jetstar on principle. My principles are that people are more important than bottom line dollars and cents. The simple reality here is that these were extraordinary circumstances and cutting this family some slack in their moment of grief was not going to send Jetstar bankrupt. If they do not care enough for the people that pay their salaries, then I do not see any reason for me to support an organisation like that.

Thus endeth today's rant and rail.

06 December 2010

Kopi Luwak from Thailand in Canada...

It would seem that Indonesians will have another close South East Asian neighbour to take aim at considering this story that has made its way into the Calgary Sun Newspaper. Indonesians are pretty familiar with Malaysian attempts to steal all things Indonesian. Most recently Malaysia has been guilty of thieving the odd song or two and a concerted effort to steal the traditional batik textiles of the islands of Indonesia. However, Indonesia has not had any run-ins with Thailand over the theft of Indonesian cultural heritage or products.

Should Indonesia and Indonesians be angry?

The Calgary Sun newspaper in Canada is reporting that the Bean Stop in Eau Claire Market is about to start serving Kopi Luwak. As most connoisseurs of coffee will know, a good cup of Kopi Luwak requires good beans and the best quality beans come from Indonesia and not Thailand. Kopi Luwak requires the palm civet to munch down the coffee beans. These beans then pass through the civet's digestive system and are partially digested. Bean collectors are then employed to pluck the coffee beans out of the civet feces. The beans are then processed.

Kopi Luwak are Indonesian words. However, the beans being sourced for the Kopi Luwak that is to be served at the Eau Claire come from the Doi Chaang area of northern Thailand. Hmmm, can one really even have legitimate kopi luwak if it is not produced in Indonesia?

In any event, the coffee is not going to be cheap, even if it is not the real thing. A cup of the Thai version of Kopi Luwak will set drinkers back a whopping CND 25 a cup and CND 60 for a 50 gram tin. The owner of the Eau Claire apparently has secured about 10kgs of kopi luwak.

Let's face it, Kopi Luwak is popular. After all, it even made it on to the Oprah Winfrey Show!

Groupon Says No to USD 6 Billion...

I am not sure that many people would have the testicular fortitude to say "no" to Google and USD 6 billion. However, the founder of Groupon, Andrew Mason, has apparently done just that. Groupon is an online coupon site that has reportedly reached a very impressive 35 million users. Simply, that many daily users is going to be of interest to Google as it looks to crush its competitors and to beat its way into more spaces in the online world.

Mason has allegedly turned down Google's offer because he was not comfortable with what was going to happen to Groupon post-acquisition, particularly the direction that the company would take and what would happen to Groupon people. So, rather than take the plunge, Mason told Google to go away. This is probably not the end of the deal, but it would seem that Mason is now holding all the cards, or at least the best hand by some way.

Google and, the CEO, Eric Schmidt are going to have to part with a little bit more of the reportedly USD 33.4 billion in cash that they have on hand for acquisitions. It would also seem reasonable to suggest that Mason requires a few other assurances from Google if this deal is to be re-started and concluded. This is a distinct possibility because the numbers game so far suggests that Google was prepared to go all out to get Groupon. The USD 6 billion offer, combined with the supposed incentives factored into the deal, meant that the Groupon acquisition was set to double the previously Google record for an acquisition of USD 3.2 billion for DoubleClick.

Nevertheless, the cards will not remain in Groupon's favour forever as other imitators will undoubtedly rise from the internet coupon dust. Google may opt to throw cash at a coupon start-up if it cannot convince Groupon to sign off on the acquisition. Yet, even Google must realise that Groupon is the best alternative with respect to immediate growth potential. A start-up is always a much more risky proposition, particularly when Groupon is reporting that with projected growth this year it is expecting sales of some USD 500 million.

This might be one worth watching as it Groupon seems like it is willing to go the IPO route if an acquisition is not finalised. However, even if an acquisition is finalised, it is not a done deal because there are plenty of concerns about whether this deal would be bad for consumers. US regulators are sure to run the critical eye over the deal.

I am wondering whether I would have had the testicular fortitude to say no to USD 6 billion. Then again, I would not know how to start spending it once I had it. There are only so many things once can conceivably buy and enjoy, right?

Universitas Pelita Harapan: Jessup 2009...

It has been a few years, so it was nice to see some of these pictures pop up on Facebook.

My time coaching the Universitas Pelita Harapan (Pelita Harapan University / UPH) law mooting teams was a real pleasure for me. I am yet to meet such a dedicated bunch before or since. The core of this team was committed to learning and achieving. Ultimately, the year following this one, they did achieve their goal of winning the Indonesian National Round of the Jessup International Law Moot competition.

Many of them have now gone onto careers in the law, joined the diplomatic corps, or have opted for further study. I am proud of each and every one of them. I hope that over the years I will remain in touch with all of them. I am certain that they will all continue to achieve and excel in their chosen fields (so, keeping in touch might get me a sympathy job at some point in the future, right?).

These are photos from 2009. The second one is standing around in the cold Washington DC air. And, the first one is a "last supper" that we shared when we arrived back in Jakarta and before I left to come back to Australia. The bag contained an awesome little scrapbook of memories and kind words (which sits on my desk, and to which I look regularly). It also contained an iPod which I continue to use and enjoy!

I really enjoyed the opportunity. I hope they learned something useful about the law and about life. In a lot of ways I consider them to be family, especially seeing they all turned up to check out Will when he was born. And, we spent a lot, a lot, of time together working on research and memorials and oral advocacy over teh two years we dedicated to the UPH mooting cause.

Thanks to all of you!

Universitas Pelita Harapan: Asia Cup 2007...

Some of my fondest memories of Indonesia relate to coaching moot court teams. I had the great fortune of working with the students from Universitas Pelita Harapan (Pelita Harapan University / UPH) from 2007 through 2009. The students that I worked with were one of the most dedicated groups that I have had the pleasure of working with. They were not only keen to learn, but they were keen to get better, and they were prepared to put in the hard yards to achieve those goals.

The first time I worked with the UPH students was in preparation for the Asia Cup Law Moot competition that is organised by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and is by invitation only. The competition was held in Tokyo. The team worked hard to get to Japan. The effort included a weekend of seclusion / retreat at Kota Bunga (Puncak) that was designed to allow total focus on the task at hand, writing memorials. However, as these photos suggest, there was also time for a little relaxation as well.

My thanks to all the team members and their very dedicated team advisor (Pricilla, James, Johan, Nenda, Sunny, and Levin, and of course Michelle).