22 December 2011


There is much to be said for kindness.There is much to be said for remembering why we are here and the contributions we want to make to the world that we live in. The video that I embed here came to me from a Facebook friend via a friend of his. I guess this says something about the inter-connected world in which we now live. It also reminded me that I was never really good friends with this person and as I reflect on that I find I wish I had taken more time to get to know the person because now I feel that I have missed out.

Yet, thank you for sharing this.

So, watching this video was quiet thought-provoking. The smallest acts of kindness will one day find their way back to us. It matters not to me that there are people out there that think that this sort of thing is a crock. Clearly the world as a whole is not there yet, but to aspire to something greater is a worthy aspiration that we should all share. So, how about a little bit of kindness?

03 December 2011

Getting Back To Blogging...

I had not realised that I my last post was back at the end of July 2011. I only realised this when the fellow that will be my Principal next year mentioned that he looked at my blog and I had not written anything since July. I am not sure whether I should be flattered or concerned.

I am expecting that from now on I should be able to get myself in order to write a few more posts over the Christmas and New Year period. Then again, maybe not.

I am really busy getting things organised for the Colly Crew. You can view our latest effort, which won the GenerationOne "Hands Across Australia" competition.

Alternatively, here it is:

Life goes on...

29 July 2011

Gillard, Rudd & the Live Cattle Trade to Indonesia...

It has been some time since I have made a post. It has nothing to do with writer's block or anything similar. It is nothing more than being too focused on my work and seeing the children I teach be successful. Now that I am back, this should not be construed as a commitment to regular posting. I will post when I feel there is something that I want to talk about.

So, what's up with the new Blogger compose features.

I figure that this cartoon was a good one to jump back into the saddle with.

30 April 2011

An Easy Saturday Morning...

The first week of Term 2 is done and dusted.

I was up early this morning, for no particular reason, and decided I might write a post or two. So, it was off to the study, grab the laptop, back to the kitchen to make a Chai Latte, and then outside to sit on the porch in the brilliant morning sun. The mornings are cold, perhaps brisk is a better choice, but the days have been very warm for this time of the year.

Unfortunately, the sun was a little too brilliant this morning and sitting on the porch in the designer sunglasses did not do the trick. There was too much glare and I could not see the screen (which sort of gives one a slightly different take on the idea of 'touch typing').

Instead of blogging, in my disappointment, I opted to water the lawn. Although, it is fair to say that what we have at the moment resembles more of a "patch of bindies" than it does a flourishing landscaped country lawn and garden. The standard joke between us, Dyah and I, is that by the time we have a beautiful lawn and garden to enjoy we will be on the move to somewhere else. I guess though this is the nature of teaching and seeking promotion while living in Teacher Housing. But, we are not complaining as we live in a very spacious four bedroom house and pay AUD 12.50 per week.

The point of this post is just to ramble (some might say, prattle) on about not much at all.

Speaking of which, I have to read a couple of books this weekend. Therefore, blogging seemed like a legitimate reason to not get started on that task straight away. I am reading "Tomorrow When The War Began" by John Marsden. I have read it before, and have recently acquired a copy of the film (note to self: watch the movie this weekend as well) as well as an audio-book. I am teaching this to Year 9. In my search for materials I have learned that there is not a whole lot out there in cyberspace that matches the description of "unit of work", please steal me, and use me as you like. However, there are some good resources out there that I will use as a basis of creating "my own" unit of work for this novel.

The Tomorrow When The War Began unit of work leads into NAPLAN for this cohort and then extends beyond it. So, it seems the first couple of weeks will be devoted to activities and tasks that set the students up for a better understanding of language conventions and the like. The medium will be this novel.

The other book I have to read is one that I have not read in the past, "My Girragundji", by Meme McDonald and Boori Pryor. It was the book of the year for younger readers in 1999. I am looking forward to reading this one.

Anyways, off to read while watching cartoons, Yo Gabba Gabba. Will is now awake and raring to go.

23 April 2011

Justin Bieber -- Baby (Versi Terbaik Dari Ladang)

I have gotta say, I find these YouTube lip-syncing karaoke clips a lot of fun to watch. Here is a version of Justin Bieber's "Baby". It looks like a young Indonesian kid. What is really impressive is that the lip syncing that he does is pretty much spot on all the way through, including the part that Ludacris does. He would give Milli Vanilli a run for their money, no doubt.

22 April 2011

Some Graduation Photos...

Well, I have now officially graduated from the University of Western Sydney with a Master of Teaching (MTeach) degree. The next box to tick is a professional competence one with the New South Wales Institute of Teachers. With a bit of a luck I should have satisfied all those requirements by the end of 2011.

It would be nice to say "thus begins the next phase of our journey", but the reality is that the next phase actually got underway back at the beginning of February 2011 when we arrived at Collarenebri and I started teaching at the Central School.

Indonesia, Immigration, and a New Law...

It has been a while since I have bothered to write on any Indonesian laws. I continue to read them regularly, perhaps daily might be a more accurate description. I read for two reasons: to keep up-to-date and to keep my language skills up to speed. However, I figured I might jot down a few points about the new immigration law. I thought that I would do this for no other reason than having a vested interest in the subject matter. But, then again, it is 15 Chapters and 145 Articles long, I can think of a whole lot of other things that I might enjoy more now that I am writing for fun rather than income.

To say that the new Immigration Law was a long time in the making, or a long time in coming, is an understatement in the extreme. The previous immigration law was passed and enacted way back in 1992. Nevertheless, the House of Representatives (DPR) finally got their collective heads around the idea of needing to pass new legislation in this area. So, on 7 April 2011, the DPR passed the Immigration Bill into Law and the rest is history, sort of.

The new law goes some ways towards resolving a number of outstanding issues that directly impact upon foreigners living or wanting to live in Indonesia. However, there are other really critical and substantive issues that will determine whether foreigners opt to live in Indonesia that remain unaddressed, and as such unresolved. A prime example of this is property ownership in Indonesia by foreigners. This is apparently going to be addressed in separate legislation, presumably a revised agrarian law, at some later date. The "some later date" is problematic as it still creates present problems for foreigners and their Indonesian families that might not wait until some later date.

The idea that the new immigration law is solely to satisfy concerned foreigners and their agitating Indonesian spouses who lobbied for some of these changes is a furphy. The reality is that after 19 years with the same legislation while other laws and regulations were enacted and implemented around it meant that the old immigration law was no longer fit for the purpose it was originally enacted for. Furthermore, there was little point in going about the process in an ad hoc or piecemeal manner making the odd amendment here are there. Common sense dictated that the best, perhaps preferred, approach was to draft and enact a whole new law.

Yet, it must be noted that there are plenty of provisions in the new law which are pro-foreigner, particularly pro-mixed marriage families. However, once again, this is not the sole reason for the new law.

In any event, it must also be noted that the enactment of the law constitutes less than half the process. The proof of the pudding, so to speak, is in the implementing regulations. Quite clearly, the new law will require new implementing regulations in order for the new law to work and to be enforceable. If these provisions are not forthcoming, then the law will be difficult to apply and the 'guarantees' that many think the new law provides will fall by the wayside.

In fact, the statement that all current implementing regulations remain in force while they do not conflict with the new law and until such time as they are repealed and replaced does not provide any increased or enhanced certainty for those individuals that are likely to come under the full force of the law.

For example, a dilemma that presents itself is how much should foreigners be paid. The dilemma is whether foreigners as defined under the new immigration law are the equivalent of expatriates, particularly if they are being sponsored by their Indonesian spouse. The salary ranges for expatriates are set out in explicit terms in Director General of Taxation Decision No. KEP-173/PJ/2002 which requires expatriates (nationalities are listed in the decision) to be paid specific amounts in USD for certain jobs. An example, an Australia Manager in the trade business is to be paid USD 10,756 per month. Funnily enough it sets out that I should have been being paid USD 8,900 per month, but that was certainly not happening!

The guessing game here is one of whether a foreigner recruited locally in Indonesia as opposed to a foreigner recruited in their home country and brought to Indonesia are classified differently in the expatriate sense. Unfortunately, Article 61 and the elucidation is silent on the salary / wage front. However, it would certainly seem to make for an interesting discussion at the immigration office if an Indonesian spouse of limited means was seeking to sponsor a foreign spouse into Indonesia, particularly if they were looking at a small start-up business operation that might not even turn over USD 10,000 per month.

Maybe, this immigration law deal needs to be a series of posts?

21 April 2011

Chew Volume 2: International Flavor...

This is the second installment of the soon to be cult graphic novel / comic series "Chew". I have never been a huge fan of comics. I have always loved good cartoons though and I am a fan, still, of "Thunderbirds". However, I am a fan of the work of John Layman and Rob Guillory.

I am not sure that the second installment was quite as good as the first. But, after a while and having digested it a little more, it certainly is one that grows on you. I guess the biggest challenge that Layman and Guillory face in the second go round is keeping it fresh. Once you get your head around the idea of cibopaths then the story runs the risk of just being a run around on the gratuitous violence front with some cannibalism thrown in for effect. Yet, to Layman's credit and Guillory's mastery of the art, this story is anything but a boring and bland cop story.

International Flavor takes Tony Chu to a small island in the middle of nowhere, Yamapalu (Western Pacific, if I recall correctly) whose claim to fame is a fruit that tastes like chicken, the gallsberry. The second installment introduces a few new characters and kills some of them off as quickly as they arrived. International Flavor leaves several of the previous story plot lines unattended and introduces a few new ones as well. The reality, much like a soap opera, is that the first two installments have introduced a lot of plot lines and subplots that can provide myriad of material for several installments to come. Interstingly the most obvious arch-rival to Tony Chu in the series plays an insignificant role in International Flavor as Mason Savoy has seemingly fallen off the face of the post apocalyptic bird flu world.

The other character in this story that has a really interesting back story is Amelia Mintz. Mintz is a saboscrivner. A saboscrivner, you ask? A saboscrivner is a person that writes so accurately about food that those people reading the review actually get the taste sensations associated with that food. Amelia Mintz is a Ciboscrivner which means she combines the talents of both a cibopath and saboscrivner.

All-in-all the second installment was worth the money to buy it and was well worth the read.

It is kind of hard to write a review without spoilers. Maybe the next one needs to have a spoiler alert.

19 April 2011

Consequences: Mechanics, Shorts and A Lack of Underwear...

There is always the odd "funny" that wends its way into my inbox. This is one of those. I had a little chuckle and thought it was worth sharing.

Always wear clean underwear in public, especially when working under 
your vehicle. 

From the Daily Telegraph comes this story of a Sydney couple
who drove their car to Westfield Blacktown, only to have their car break down in the
car park.

The man told his wife to carry on with the shopping while he fixed the

The wife returned later to see a small group of people near the car. On
closer inspection, she saw a pair of hairy legs protruding from under
the chassis. Unfortunately, although the man was in shorts, his lack of
underpants turned his private parts into glaringly public ones..

Unable to stand the embarrassment, she dutifully stepped forward,
quickly put her hand UP his shorts, and tucked everything back into
On regaining her feet, she looked across the bonnet and found
herself staring at her husband who was standing idly by watching.

The NRMA mechanic, however, had to have three stitches in his forehead.

18 April 2011

Facebook & 10 Years in Prison...

Cafe World and all those other games on Facebook are addictive, no doubt. However, I am not sure that they are that addictive that I would be even slightly tempted to leave a 13-month old baby in the bath by themselves while I go and cook some cakes or harvest a few crops in Farmville or even have a few 1-minute rounds of Bejeweled Blitz.

Shannon Johnson of Fort Lupton in northern Colorado was sentenced to 10 years in jail for allowing her 13-month old son to drown in the bath while she played Cafe World and check her status updates.

According to Johnson she wanted her son, Joseph, to be an independent baby and not be a "mama's boy". Also Johnson claims to have been traumatised as a child from constantly being told "no". Therefore, she was committed to never saying no to her own child. And, subsequently Johnson was claiming that little Joseph himself asked to be left alone in the bath.

Sadly, Johnson had been warned of the dangers of leaving an infant in the bath by themselves. This warning came from Johnson's own mother, but the advice was ignored and tragically it was little Joseph that paid the ultimate price.

The point of this post is not to bang on about Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg being ultimately responsible for Joseph's death because they facilitated Johnson's addiction. To the contrary, it is really about parenting and what constitutes good parenting and how we learn to be good parents. I have been wondering how, as parents, we learn to find that balance between allowing our children their independence and protecting them from the dangers that surround them?

The learning curve is steep.

More Schapelle Corby News...

On the Schapelle Corby front, it might be fair to say that, when it rains it pours! Although, what follows is not really news, rather it is a desperate lawyer looking to remain relevant and seemingly concerned that she might be being overshadowed by her Indonesian equivalent, Iskandar Nawing.

Kerry Smith-Douglas, who acts on behalf of the Corby family in Australia and who also appears to be the spokesperson, has gone on the record to describe how the Australian Prime Minister needs to intervene and bring Schapelle Corby home.

Now according to Smith-Douglas the clemency appeal appears destined to fail as the chances of success are slim. The basis of her claims are that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, or SBY, has had the Supreme Court recommendations on the clemency appeal since July 2010 and has not yet acted on them. In fact, there is ongoing speculation as to what the recommendations actually were. However, the most likely among the theories being bandied about is that the recommendations include a significant cut in the Corby sentence, perhaps 10 years.

Aside from the Prime Minister, Smith-Douglas has also written to the Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd. She has also written to the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, and the Shadow Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop. What is interesting is what Smith-Douglas is expecting these Australian politicians to do. Is she expecting that they are going to jump up and down and start wagging their collective fingers at SBY and any other Indonesian politician who might listen, saying "hand out girl over or suffer the consequences of our wrath".

Perhaps Smith-Douglas is expecting that Australia will seek to intervene in Indonesia's sovereign affairs. Maybe she could recommend that the PM and FM, whilst wagging their fingers, threaten to send in the Special Air Service (SAS) and break her out of Kerobokan. After all she is asking the PM to be firm with the Indonesian President and to put diplomatic protocols aside. I would love to be a fly on the wall watching Julia go toe-to-toe with SBY.

Ultimately, the Smith-Douglas letter plays the old "Schapelle's mental state is so fragile that she is hanging by a thread" followed with "her life is in your hands". The truth and the reality is that Schapelle has been hanging by a thread for so long now that people might start to wonder why it has not broken. There is no doubting that Ms. Corby is not the same person who went into prison, prison does that to you. It also seems that it is a fair call to say that she has suffered mentally as a consequence of being in the big house, but prison does that to you too.

Yet, the truth, and the reality, is that Schapelle Corby has been diagnosed by her Indonesian doctors with severe depression and is being treated.

Now, exactly what is it that Ms. Smith-Douglas wants the government to do for Schapelle above and beyond what they do for any Australian incarcerated overseas?

The mind boggles.

17 April 2011

The Reason I Do Not Need To Google...

Hopefully this puts a smile on your dial!

If not, at least I tried...

Schapelle Corby To Be Released?

I have not written on Ms. Corby's case or the "suffering" she is 'enduring' in Kerobokan prison on the holiday paradise island of Bali in my second home of Indonesia. There is no reason for this other than there not being anything newsworthy or of note to write about until now.

The latest news is a push seemingly by Corby's Indonesian lawyer, Iskandar Nawing, presumably on the insistence of the Corby family. The reality is that the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono or SBY to his mates, has had the clemency appeal since July 2010 and has yet to act on it. I suppose I could speculate as to why that is, but I won't for now. I will wait and see what comments, if any, get made to this post.

There has been no official statement from the Indonesian Supreme Court, at least as far as I recall (note to self: go back and check through files), that says exactly what the Supreme Court recommendation was. But, most pundits believe that the recommendation was for a sentence cut of 10 years on the original 20-year sentence. Under Indonesian law a prisoner becomes eligible for parole after having served 2/3 of their sentence. Corby has been in jail for about 6.5 years and as such she would be getting close to making an application for release.

Parole, like anywhere else, can be complicated by a number of issues. As such the application for release would be assessed against a whole range of criteria including not only the prisoners behaviour during their incarceration, but also what is in the best interest of the prisoner and their state of health.

It would seem that Nawing's push is a clear attempt to get some resolution on the clemency appeal by trying to force SBY's hand. However, it is interesting that no one is talking about why SBY has not signed off on the recommendation.

16 April 2011

The Royal Wedding: A Preview and A Practice Run...

This is very funny from T-Mobile. T-Mobile have obviously gone to some trouble to track down some real good look-a-likes.

I wonder if Prince William and Kate (aka soon-to-be Princess Catherine) Middleton have watched it and had a little chuckle. Come to think of it, they are probably pretty busy.

Good Parenting Skills?

Being a parent is a great thing. I would not swap it for the world. However, there are always challenges and it is always a steep learning curve. There is always that realisation that you cannot always get everything right all of the time.

Yet, as some of these photos highlight, there are some things that just should not be done, particularly in this day and age of technology where our world is becoming increasingly smaller and better connected.

Just a few photos found while surfing the internet today...

Cool Pregnancy Photos...

I am not sure whether this is real or an excellent example of using photoshop software. No matter, it is a pretty cool photo.

Indonesia's Love Affair With Antibiotics and Drug Treatments...

There is little doubt that Indonesian doctors on the whole over-prescribe antibiotics. It is unfair to generalise because quite simply there are always exceptions to the rule. However, even if a doctor does not prescribe a course of antibiotics, then most people will self-prescribe and go to any one of the myriad of road-side drug vending stalls.

The overuse of antibiotics, and other drugs, is not without risks as the nasty things that make us sick also have an ability to build up immunity to the drugs designed to kill them. This means that Indonesia is without a doubt on the road towards creating a whole swathe of drug-resistant bacteria and viruses. Simply, the trend seems to be towards over-prescribing and poly-pharmacy no matter what the illness is. Generally, doctors or patients prescribe antibiotic and drug cocktails in an attempt to get well.

Interestingly, some Indonesian doctors have recognised the trend and are intent on arresting the malaise that is poor diagnosis and subsequent poor treatment options being prescribed. But, it would appear that changing the culture is an uphill battle if the data collected by the Foundation for Concerned Parents is anything to go by.

For example, in 2008 the Foundation found that antibiotics were prescribed in more than 78% of cases of respiratory or stomach illness. This is an increase on the slightly more than 54% in 2006. Perhaps more interestingly is the trend of prescribing certain brands of drugs in preference to cheaper locally produced generic medicines. The suggestion, albeit implied, seems to be that doctors might be being encouraged to prescribe certain drug regimes at every opportunity they get to do so. One would hope that doctors were getting a little more for their efforts than just the odd free pen or mouse pad.

The issue is one that the government is aware of and it is one that the government is keen to address. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also recognised that the over-prescribing of certain drug treatments in Indonesia is leaving the Republic susceptible to future outbreaks of super bugs and viruses that are resistant to all standard treatment options. Therefore, the WHO and the government have commenced a study to look at what can be done to turn back the tide.


3D Porn Film at IMAX?

Well, ain't technology grand, a 3D porn film at IMAX, sort of. The film, Sex and Zen 3D: Extreme Ecstasy, has made its long awaited opening in Hong Kong. The tickets for the film are selling fast and there are plenty of theatres that have sold out all of their screen times. In all, some 70% of tickets have been pre-sold. The film is a sequel of sorts to an earlier film, Sex and Zen, which was first screened in 1991 and is still the highest grossing adult film in Hong Kong's history.

The film has a Category III rating for Hong Kong which means that no one under 18 years of age can get in and watch it. However, a Category III rating is not the same as an X rating.

The film is being screened in regular theatres is Hong Kong, but is destined for an IMAX theatre once it hits the shores of Taiwan.

Interestingly, Hong Kong seems to have adopted the Indonesian approach of using famous foreign porn stars to take the lead in a locally produced film. Sex and Zen 3D stars Japanese porn stars Yukiko Suo and Saori Hari. But, it seems a little strange to be following the Indonesian lead as Hong Kong has an "ample" supply of home-grown Hong Kong talent to choose from.

The film itself is based on classic Chinese erotic texts, particularly The Carnal Prayer Mat. According to the executive producer, Stephen Shiu Jr, of the film it is a little more erotic than 9 1/2 Weeks but not nearly as erotic as Tinto Brass' Caligula. Yet, the producers were proactive in preempting any  problems the Singaporean censors might have had with the film by self-editing some 18 minutes out of the version currently screening in Hong Kong.

However, it is likely that the die-hards in Singapore will be able to get a hold of a director's cut of the film which will include all the scenes cut out for public release. So, what are the Singaporeans missing out on? Apparently they will not be seeing scenes including group and oral sex, sadomasochism and anything that links sex and religion.

3D porn films appear to be a growing niche market with Tinto Brass looking at re-doing his classic film, Caligula, in 3D. Not to be outdone, Hustler has also indicated that they are looking at doing a 3D spoof of James Cameron's Avatar as a porn film.

I wonder whether the film will get a screening in Indonesia, or will it just be a pirated DVD version that does a brisk trade on the footpaths with the street-side vendors? There is one thing that I can be sure of, there is no chance of me being able to watch this where I live as there is no theatre in the town in which I live.

Australian Tourists in Bali...

Australians love Bali! There seems to be very little doubt in that. Latest figures suggest that almost 1 in 4 visitors to Bali are now Australian. Australia has overtaken the Japanese as the most devoted travelers to the paradise that is Bali. in number terms, there are some 600,000 Australians visiting Bali out of a total of 2.53 million visitors.

The bombings of 2002 and 2005 are fading and as those more tragic memories fade there is an ever-increasing umber of Australians choosing Bali as their holiday destination of choice.

The reality is a simple one, and one that makes obvious sense if you think about it. A holiday for a family of four to Perth for seven days with hotel accommodation will set you back many more dollars than a seven-day holiday to Bali. Then again, there are cheaper overseas options for Australians other than Bali (or Indonesia), yet the numbers clearly show that the love affair Australians have with Bali shows no signs of subsiding any time soon.

Bali is a wonderful destination. But, anybody thinking of going should look at where in Bali they are going to visit. Quite simply if you can get out of Kuta, Legian, Denpasar and [more recently] Ubud then it is well worth the effort. I recommend Mengwi and Taman Ayun (family connection to the place), but there are plenty of places further afield worth the effort as well such as Pura Ulun Danu Bratan

15 April 2011

Lady Gaga, Tex Saverio and Harper's Bazaar...

A good story out of Indonesia and recognition of an up and coming young Indonesian designer, Tex Saverio.

The world is already pretty aware of Lady Gaga's fashion sense. It is not like you can miss it; meat dresses and all. So, it was good to read, albeit in The Jakarta Globe, that Lady Gaga has opted to wear a dress designed by Tex Saverio (aka Rio) in a recent Harper's Bazaar shoot.

The dress, or is it a gown, is commercially available for a cool IDR 33 million (AUD 3,500).

It is always great to read about young Indonesians making their mark on the world.

That is a pretty awesome tattoo happening there across his right elbow, a phoenix by the looks of it.

People Smuggling: Indonesians Jailed in Australia...

People smuggling is a crime, perhaps a heinous crime. It is one that does not pay, particularly if you get caught in Australian waters. Australia has pretty serious consequences for those that are caught and successfully prosecuted. The minimum mandatory sentence for those convicted of people smuggling is five years. However, non-parole periods can be set, and this seems to be in the range of three years.

Four Indonesians have learned the seriousness of the consequences the hard way and have been sentenced to five years in prison. The Queensland Supreme Court in Brisbane has found the men were responsible for the trips of two boatloads of Afghanis, Kurds and Iranians to Australia. But, the court was clear that the men were not the orgainsers of the trips, rather they were recruited by others to do their dirty work.

Each of the passengers paid somewhere between AUD 5000 and AUD 15000 for their passage. The Indonesians, Ferry Irawan and Sali were caught off the Ashmore Reef and Anton Tambunan and Joko Sampurno were caught off Christmas Island on two separate boats. The Indonesians were paid about IDR 5 million for the voyages.

There are some 70 others awaiting their turn to make their way through the Australian court system for people smuggling offenses. So, it would seem that there will be plenty of others looking at the five-year minimum mandatory sentence.

The question that arises from all this is are minimum mandatory sentences enough to thwart people smugglers and stop the crime? Probably not. Let's face it, when there is an offer of 3, 4, 5 or 50 times what you would normally earn in a month, then it is fair to say that there will be plenty of poor and illiterate Indonesian fisherman that will not think twice about looking a "gift horse" in the mouth. Perhaps the answer is not the poor fisherman getting caught. Perhaps the answer is to work harder at identifying and arresting the core organisers of these people smuggling operations.

Then again, perhaps the answer is getting those countries were the people being smuggled transit to Australia to take the crime seriously enough to draft and enact legislation that puts in place significant penalties that are likely to deter individuals from becoming involved in people smuggling operations.


14 April 2011

Jozef Wadecki: Doing Poland Proud on the Gymnastics Front...

If you have not worked it out yet, it is school holiday time. I have a couple of weeks off, sort of. I am preparing a presentation abstract for a conference in August. It is also an opportunity to do some blogging. Although my personal blogging is for fun and to humour myself by ranting and railing on whatever takes my fancy or posting the weird and wonderful I discover while surfing the internet. Blogging is something that I am going to start doing with my students. The plan is to set up unit related blogs that the students contribute to and use to work through the unit of work.

Anyways, on my travels today, I came across this video of Jozef Wadecki doing a tumbling run. Awesome!

Prince Frederik of Denmark At The Wrong Christening?

It seems that Prince Frederik of Denmark has been out celebrating the upcoming christening of his twins with Princess Mary a little early. You can watch the film evidence of his evening and early morning escapade here in the Danish magazine Se og Hor.

The owner of the club, Simons, Simon Lennet, reckons he is trying to track down the person who filmed the drunken prince. However, as is prone to happen in this day and age, once it gets out there into cyber space it stays there.

It should make for an interesting christening ceremony at the Church of Holmen in Copenhagen on 14 April.

Indonesian Films and Foreign Porn Stars...

Another Indonesian film and another foreign porn star. I guess it is a matter of if it ain't broke then why fix it? The reality is that it makes good business sense to get a token appearance from a foreign porn star. Let's face it, putting a foreign porn star into your film ensures that you are going to get plenty of press, free press, which is simply advertising that you could not get any other way. Well, you could pay for it, of course.

What is even more amusing than local Indonesian production houses teasing the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and other hard-line religious groups is that all the films that the foreign porn stars are getting to star in a comedy-horror (or is that horrific comedy) films. The latest offering is Pocong Mandi Goyang Pinggul (which is in essence a corpse wrapped in a sheet who shakes her hips while she bathes). So, the US porn star that has been offered the part, in this soon to be classic, is Sasha Grey.

The fact that Grey speaks no Indonesia is no hindrance to her playing the lead role. All of Grey's lines are in English. Grey has already filmed her part without every having to leave Los Angeles. So, the production houses, in this instance K2K Production, seem to have learned that it is often easier to shoot the porn actresses scenes overseas and then just edit them into the rest of the film that will be shot on site in Indonesia. And, if there was any need for Indonesian actors to be in the porn stars scenes then they would be flown to the overseas location.

It is expected that the film will be in Indonesian cinemas (bioskop) by 28 April 2011.

So, Sasha Grey has joined Maria Ozawa (Miyabi), Rin Sakuragi, Sora Aoi, and Tera Patrick in an ever-growing line of foreign porn stars who have crossed over from skin flicks on the "blue" screen to the silver screen.

As usual, here are some of the tamer pictures of Sasha Grey that can be pulled from the internet.

13 April 2011

Australian Aboriginal Proverb...

"We are all visitors to this time, this place. 
We are just passing through. 
Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love... 
and then we return home."

It is important to learn something new every single day. It keeps the mind fresh and active. I found this proverb on a bookmark. I post it here because it says a lot about how I want to live my life "to observe, to grow, to love" and perhaps I would add "to teach, to develop, to facilitate opportunities". Yet, the reality is that we all are just passing through and at some point we return "home".

Let's Talk Recognition...

National Reconciliation Week will soon be upon us (27 May - 3 June). It is hardly surprising that I am more aware of events in the Indigenous calendar than I have been in the past. The "more aware" is an increased awareness before the fact rather than watching the news and going "oh yeah, it is Reconciliation Week". I work in a school that is a touch over 90% indigenous, and loving it!

The theme of Reconciliation Week this year is "Let's Talk Recognition". Recognition can happen in many ways, and let's face it we all love to be recognised. However, a key part of recognition is to ensure that the "First Australians" are recognised in the Australian Constitution.

If you want to check out what is happening during Reconciliation Week, then head here.

But on the recognition front, check out the Colli Crew...


12 April 2011

Martin Stephens, Kerobokan And A Wedding...

A life sentence for drug smuggling should not be a hindrance to true love and I guess this is the case for Martin Stephens of Bali Nine fame (or is that infamy?). Stephens has decided that now that all his appeals have been exhausted for his sentence to be reduced to a set term that it is a good time to get married. The reality for Stephens and his new bride, Christine Winarni Puspayanti, is that unless the current president or a future president of the Republic of Indonesia sees fit to commute his sentence to a fixed term then Stephens is not likely to see the outside of Kerobokan prison.

Stephens and his new bride are optimistic that freedom awaits Stephens at some point in the future. The Chief Warden of Kerobokan, Siswanto, allowed the wedding to go ahead because Stephens has been a well-behaved, or model, prisoner. Siswanto was in such a good mood that he allowed one of the cells to be converted into a honeymoon suite in which the prisoner and his new bride were permitted to partake in a conjugal visit.

True love seemingly cannot be thwarted on any count. So, to Stephens and Puspayanti, good luck! May your marriage be a long and fruitful one.

Talk Of The Town -- The Colli Crew...

I have only been teaching for a short period of time at Collarenebri Central School. However, in a term I have had the opportunity to be involved in many great projects and activities. One of the proudest and most enjoyable moments has been the "raps" that the Colli Crew have been making with the expert assistance of Toby Finlayson of Desert Pea Media and the dedicated staff of the school.

I have included the link her and embedded the video for your ease. However, please clink on the link and go to the You Tube video and watch it there as often as you like. Here is the video.

This is destined to be "our" best rap yet. The reasons are simple: the message is real and it is timely.

On a personal level, it has been very rewarding to see these young people come out of their shells and commit themselves to something that is so much bigger than themselves. It has been fantastic to see how these young people have responded to the internet / YouTube fame that they have encountered. It was, and is, rewarding to watch these young people grow and develop as they start to realise that the world is there and opening up before them.

Superb effort and my whole-hearted congratulations to all those involved.

I am proud to have been associated with the project.

11 April 2011

The Chew: Taster's Choice Review...

I really enjoyed this comic / graphic novel. I know that I am supposed to be reading Chew: Taster's Choice (Volume 1) as a potential text for my more senior students. However, it really is a collection of comics bound into a book. Nevertheless, I am totally committed to the idea that the genre is one that can be a successful addition to the units of work that I have been teaching. In any event, I sat down and read the whole thing in one sitting. It was a lot of fun.

Using Chew as a text has some potential pitfalls that I am going to have to address with both my Head Teacher and the Principal at some point. The language is sometimes at the outer edge of what might be acceptable. Yet, the reality is that I just taught a novel to my Year 10 cohort that had plenty of English's finest swear words. So, I am confident that I can get around that one.

However, a more pressing issue might be the basic premise of the comics themselves. The series follows the career of a Philadelphia police officer, Tony Chu. Chu has an interesting gift, he is "cibopathic". If you are wondering what that is, then wonder no more. A cibopath has the ability to extract the memories and histories of whatever they eat. Yes, whatever they eat. In a funny twist of fate, the only thing that Chu can eat and not have the instant "life-long history lesson" is beets.

So, here's the thing, I am wondering how my principal is going to go with the idea of teaching a graphic novel where the hero is a fella who has a habit of dining on all manner of things, including suspects, in order to find the truth. I am not at all worried about the Head Teacher, it was the Head Teacher who gave me Chew and asked me to have a read of it and see what I thought as a potential text.

Tony Chu is an interesting character, there is much conflict about him and within him. Simply, there is much to study and work with. However, the character that I found myself most drawn to was Special Agent Mason Savoy. Savoy is also cibopathic and is the mentor figure to Chu at the start. There are only three known cibopaths in the world of Chew and the fact that two of them are working together seems destined to give rise to conflict that allows us, the reader, to explore the basic tenets of good and evil.

Aside from Chu's and Savoy's abilities, the other over-arching theme of the series is a global disaster in the form of avian influenza (bird flu) that kills some 23 million Americans and more than 119 million worldwide. The dire predictions at the time suggested such an occurrence was possible. So, it is fun to read about the consequences in this form.

John Layman tells a great story and Rob Guillory's artwork is amazing. Even if I do not teach Chew, I am committed to teaching graphic novels this year, but truth be told I will be arguing for Chew to get the nod. In the end though, no matter what the decision is, I am off to Dymocks tomorrow to see if I can find anymore in the series. I am hooked, and looking forward to what happens next in this storm of a post-avian flu apocalyptic world.

Indonesia, Parliament & Porn: A Dilemma or A Storm In A Tea Cup?

There is nothing quite like vibrant democracy, and there is nothing quite like the era of technology that we live in right at this very moment. The reality is that technology makes everything we do potentially something that will find itself in the public domain. There is very little secrecy and even less privacy. The moments we thought were our own may in fact be shared with millions or perhaps billions of people in a very short space of time. The technology at our disposal also makes telling fibs and exaggerating justifications very difficult indeed.

Arifinto of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) in Indonesia learnt this the hard way over the past weekend. Arifinto is one of the founders of the PKS. The PKS is an Islamic Party that has been instrumental in pushing an Islamic agenda and the Islamization of Indonesia's legal code. The party was the driving force in the drafting, passage and enactment of pornography legislation. This legislation is draconian in many ways and has been used most recently to put one of Indonesia's favourite singers, Nazril "Ariel" Irham behind bars for making a skin flick and allegedly distributing it online.

The story is a simple one. Arifinto was sitting in a plenary session of the House of Representatives on Friday, just before Friday prayers, when for some reason, known only to him, he decided to use his taxpayer provided Galaxy Tablet computer to watch a little bit of porn. To be blunt, if the man needs a little bit of video stimulation to get him through the day, then so be it. However, he was on the taxpayer funded clock and as such the taxpayers that pay his salary and provide the perks like tablet computers deserve better.

Arifinto's problem was not that he watched a skin flick on public time, but rather that he got caught. In Indonesia's form of open and accountable democracy, photographers are allowed into plenary sessions. In this case, Mohamad Irfan of Media Indonesia was busy snapping away from the gallery and caught Arifinto watching the porn in question. Unfortunately, for Arifinto he was not sure what Irfan had snapped and decided to make a statement that he had inadvertently opened a link in an email sent to him. However, Irfan's photographs were in fact a series of photos that show Arifinto opening the porn film from a file that was obviously saved to his computer.

Arifinto has now decided that the best course of action is to fall on his own sword and seek redemption by stating that he will return to the job of reciting the Koran and seeking forgiveness from Allah for straying from the path. Oh, and if he resigns, rather than waiting for the inevitable push, he maintains all the benefits that he has accrued as a member of parliament.

Herein lies the dilemma. Should a member of parliament who was doing what Arifinto was doing, and has been busted in the manner that he has, have any rights at all to collect taxpayer money in the form of a pension? The other dilemma for Indonesia and for the PKS is what punishment should Arifinto receive? This is particularly important considering it was the KS that were arguing for the severest available punishment to be applied to Ariel. Now,Ariel made a home-made sex tape, which in and of itself is not illegal in Indonesia, which was then stolen and uploaded to the internet without his permission. Therefore, a simple question is what punishment should now be applied to a PKS legislator who has obviously been involved in the distribution of pornography using taxpayer funded perks of office?

Arifinto must not be allowed to resign and slink off into the sunset and enjoy a long and fruitful retirement courtesy of the taxpayer or public purse.What is good for the goose is good for the gander, Arifinto must see the inside of a jail cell. After all, consistency in the severity of punishment needs to be maintained in order to maintain the faith of the general public that the law enforcement system is working, right?

10 April 2011

Graphic Novels...

I am thinking of teaching a graphic novel unit sometime this year, perhaps even next term, but it is finding one that the students are really going to get into and enjoy. I am currently reading "Chew, Volume 1: Taster's Choice" by John Layman and Rob Guillory. I am enjoying it much more than I thought I would.

I am not resistant or reluctant to new methods of getting the students to learn the knowledge that they need to be successful in their post-school endeavours. However, I do envisage that there may be some interesting discussions about the value of using "comics" to teach English and literacy.

I used a graphic novel version of Macbeth once to teach a Year 9 English class where there was a variety of literacy skills presented. The key to teaching a graphic novel is very much ensuring that everyone is involved and providing extension activities for those who find the graphic novel format an easy alternative to the classic "here's a novel, now read it" method. Yet, my experience tells me to date that no matter what one chooses there is always going to be myriad of learning styles. Thus some are going to love the graphic novel and others are going to hate it.

Any suggestions on how to teach the graphic novel as a unit of work for years 9 or 10 will be gladly received. I will be sure to post updates on how the unit unravels (in both the positive and negative senses or the word).

Term 1...Done & Dusted!

Well, Term 1 is done. It has been a long term in both the literal and figurative senses. In the literal sense it has been an 11-week term instead of the usual 10. In the figurative sense, it has also been long as teaching every day gives rise to new and different challeges every day. These challenges arise irrespective of the fact that the students stay the same.

Nevertheless, when it is all said and done, the term has been an excellent one. I have learned much and I think I have taught much. And, hopefully, the students have learned much.

One of the perks of teaching is that I now get to enjoy two weeks worth of holidays with my family before having to front up and do it all again (the holidays can't end soon enough).

We, at Collarenebri Central School, have just completed another rap in our "step-by-step" program. So, keep your eyes and ears peeled for that to appear. It is likely to be our most controversial effort to date, but it also sounds like it might just be our best.

02 April 2011

Indonesian Nationals and Foreign Spouses...

Whenever I have had an extended break from posting I always feel the need to apologise for my absence. I am not sure why that is. Maybe it is that I really enjoy posting odds and ends on my blog, and the fact that I have been way so irregular in doing that probably bothers me more than it bothers anyone else. But hey, duty or work calls and I have been busy doing the thing that pays my bills.

However, it is Saturday, there is only one week of Term 1 to go before the school holidays kick in, and it has been a particularly lazy Saturday to date. And, aside from a need to mow the front lawn, a lazy Saturday it seems destined to remain. That said, I have installed and set-up a new Canon Pixma MG6150 printer on our wireless home network. For the technologically challenged like me, even in a "move mouse and click" environment it was quite an achievement.

So, enough of the beating around the bush, on with the show!

It was with some interest that I read in The Jakarta Globe today an article about a draft bill and changes to the immigration law. I am particularly interested in the changes that will impact significantly on the foreign spouses and children of Indonesian citizens. My interest is personal, I am a foreign spouse and Will is the son of an Indonesian and Non-Indonesian parent.

Perhaps a reality check in the environment of euphoria is needed to start with. I really do not want to be a wet blanket and smother everyone else's fun here or to be the party-pooper, but the argument that the draft bill allows mixed-marriage families to stay together is rather simplistic. The truth of the matter is that the procedures for foreigners married to Indonesians and living in Indonesia are onerous. In fact, they are quite painful at times. They are also very expensive. But, to suggest that they are the sole source of families coming apart as the argument that the current changes will enable families to stay together has that logical fallacy feel to it.

From a personal perspective, the idea that my wife can sponsor me to live in Indonesia is a plus. The fact that Will would now be able to qualify for permanent residency if we opted for only Australian citizenship for him is a plus. Nevertheless, the current laws and regulations allow for Will to be a dual citizen until he is 18 and that seems like the best deal for him. The process of getting Indonesian citizenship for Will though is much easier outside of Indonesia than it is while in Indonesia.

Again, on the personal perspective. It is pleasing to see that the Indonesian government has finally recognised that there are foreigners who marry Indonesians for all the right reasons and establish roots in the country and establish lives there that are not always so easily packed up with the purchase of a ticket to another country. It is also a pleasing development that the draft bill seems to provide for foreign spouses to be sponsored by their Indonesian partner rather than rely on the sponsorship of an employer.

These developments have been a long time in the making. They have been on the table and in discussion for many years. In fact, I had discussions about these very amendments when we were living in Indonesia. We have been back in Australia since 2009. Come to think of it, in about 14 days we would have been back in Australia for 2 whole years. Time flies!

The changes are not enough to warrant an immediate "pack-up and go" for us. But, the truth is that it does, or at least will, make it easier for us to contemplate a move back to Indonesia in the sooner rather than later sense. However, there are no immediate plans for a return for any other reason other than a holiday this year or in the next 3 or 4. Yet, if someone was to offer me a great package deal for a job teaching at a school in Indonesia, then who knows...

20 March 2011

The Diplomat, Porn, and The RAB Experience...

Back in February I had this unusual spike in visitors. I was sans an internet link at the time because of some house moving that we were doing so I was only aware of it some time after the fact.

It is only today that I worked out why it happened in the first place.

Thanks to The Diplomat, an internet magazine that deals with Asia-Pacific issues from what I can tell, mentioned me and my blog posts on the "one and only" Tifatul Sembiring (aka "TitS"). You can read the actual article here.

My guess is that Mong Palatino who happens to be a member of the House of Representatives in the Philippines and the Regional Editor of Global Voices for the Southeast Asia and Oceania regions reads my blog and he is responsible for the spike in visitors to my humble abode. Global Voices is a citizen journalism initiative, and one that I am in favour of. Thanks Mr. Palatino, I appreciate it. Maybe one day I will get to the Philippines to thank you in person (or maybe you might let me do some freelance writing for Global Voices ;)

No matter how it happened, it is always nice to see your name in print somewhere, particularly in a positive light. To be truthful, this is the reason I decided to reopen my blog to anybody who wants to read it and the reason I decided to blog today.

Blog Housekeeping -- March 2011...

Apologies to anyone who noticed besides Jakartass that I had changed my blog to "invited readers" only. No offense was intended, and hopefully none was taken. There were no invited readers to the blog except for my wife. I was not blogging all that much of late. The complete lack of posts has nothing to do with writers' block or lack of material. It is solely a case of not having enough time, nor is there a desire to manage the time I do have any better, as I fumble my way along on my new journey called teaching.

I have gone back to "any and all" readers now. So, enjoy the few posts that might wend their way onto The RAB Experience over the coming months. I have some school holidays coming up so there is a chance that I might get a little more blog active then.

To post or not to post is the next question.

13 March 2011

The Colli Crew - Change the Game...

Working in a small central school like Collarenebri Central School provides so many opportunities to do things and be part of programs that are integral to creating and sustaining change in the lives of the children of the community. The YouTube video above is one that we worked on for just a couple of days with the students.

Needless to say, Toby Finlayson of Desert Pea Media is a real talent in getting the kids to develop their own ideas into something as powerful as what you see above. He has also done an excellent job in producing the video.

Yet, the project would never have come to fruition without the dedicated support of the school through the Principal, the Assistant Principal and the Aboriginal Education Officer.

Ultimately, though it is the students who make the whole thing work. Congratulations to them all.

May this be the first step in "changing the game" for these students.

Feel free to share the video. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in finding out more about the "step-by-step" project that this is part of. And, feel free to contact me if you would like to set up a video conference or some sort of exchange of idea, such as a video conference, and I can put you in contact with all the right people.


27 February 2011

The Answer to Teenage Sex: More Mosques...

Sexually active young people is hardly a new phenomenon. Maybe the 'scope' of what we read about in the news now is that teenagers themselves are more open about talking about their experiences than they have ever been in the past. So, this might be a case of teenagers being more truthful about their extra-curricular activities for statistical purposes.

Nevertheless, the moral and religious crusaders go to great lengths to tell us that this is indicative of a failing society and that the beginning of the 'end of days'. This leads to obvious "answers" to be put forward by these individuals. The answers always involve religious and moral instruction in places of worship.

So, there is no surprise when the Mayor of West Jakarta, Burhanuddin,  reckons that the best way to combat casual sex amongst teenagers is to build more mosques and indoctrinate them on all things religious and moral.  To each their own. In my mind, the best way to address this issue is to ensure that our teenagers are indeed educated. However, that education is not one of religion or morality. The education, or lesson, is one of responsibility. If you are a teenager and you are dead keen to have sex then it will be almost impossible for adults to prevent it from happening.

Assuming that others are of a similar view, then the issue is one of ensuring that teenagers know the risks and consequences of engaging in pre-marital sexual activity. If the Indonesian Commission for Child Protection (KPAI) are to be believed, then there are some 32% of Indonesian youths in the 14-18 years of age in Indonesia's larger urban centres of Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Medan and Yogyakarta are engaging in sexual activity. Once again, the most critical component of any response to this is to ensure that youngsters understand the risks and consequences, and then act responsibly and from a position of being forewarned and forearmed.

It seems a little naive to think that the solution to this "issue" is one of building new mosques and mandating that youths attend special sessions on pre-marital sex. I wonder whether these are non-denominational sessions or Burhanuddin is only concerned about young Muslims and their sexual appetites? One would have imagined that pre-marital sex is a community issue and not one that is exclusive to Islam, Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism.

I guess to be fair, one must give Burhanuddin a chance to show that his plan is capable of teaching these youths about safe sex, sexually transmitted diseases and infections, and responsibility amongst the expected God prohibits unmarried teenagers from having sex (and if you do so then you are going straight to hell!)

There goes another RAB Experience rant and rail.
Ho hum...

Vigilante Justice: How Much is Life Worth?

How much is a life worth?

It is a question that could be asked in any number of contexts, including vigilante justice. It must be said that vigilante justice is not something that is exclusive to any one country or any one period of history. The choice of Indonesia, and in particular Aceh, in this example represents nothing more than my interest in Indonesia.

It was not surprising to read a story in The Jakarta Globe about the killing of two men accused of stealing ducks in the village of Lawe Serke in Aceh. It is not surprising because since my first day in Indonesia way back in 1993 there has always been news stories of vigilante justice. One of the first things I remember was advice to call out "thief" if I was ever pick-pocketed or the victim of a burglary or similar.

The story is a relatively simple one. Lawe Serke village has a duck rustling problem. Ducks are going missing in increasing numbers. Therefore, the villagers decided that night patrols were the way to go. It goes without saying that when the night patrol spotted some unknown men roaming in the village that the patrol immediately suspected they were the duck rustlers.

The suspicion was spot on. Two of the three men they caught had ducks with them, eight to be exact. The two men that were caught, Hajidsu and Jabar, were then attacked with whatever the villagers had at hand. Some of the weapons that were used were knives and machetes. Both men were killed where they were found.

Samsuar, the Village Head, justified the violence and subsequent murders by stating that the villagers had sustained significant losses over the past month to the duck rustlers. The police position was that "people must not take the law into their own hands".  Although, the police are saying that they are treating the killings as a serious criminal offense, but perhaps more telling is that the police have not yet identified any suspects in the killings.

So, how much is a life worth? Seemingly, four ducks!

26 February 2011

Smoking Gets Even Tougher in New York City...

I guess I am having an unhealthy night...

New York City under the guidance of Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned smoking in bars, restaurants, and other public indoor areas way back in 2002 (has he been in the big seat that long already?). This caused a little bit of a public outcry about the trampling of smoker's rights. However, that has seemingly passed. Nevertheless, it has taken the Bloomberg administration a very long time to become emboldened enough to take the next step and ban smoking in open public spaces.

Bloomberg has signed a law that bans smoking in all city parks, beaches, public plazas and boardwalks. If you get caught smoking in any of these places once the law comes into full force and effect, in about 90 days, there is a USD 50 fine. I am a non-smoker, so in the big scheme of things a ban of this nature bothers me nought. Yet, the reasoning for the ban is to protect non-smokers from the dangers of passive smoking. Now, I am sure most people can appreciate that passive smoking or being forced to suck-up the second-hand smoke from a smoker's cigarette in a confined space like a bar or restaurant is considerably different from smoking in a large open space like a beach.

I am no scientist, or chemist for that matter, but is second-hand smoke in a large public place a serious threat to non-smokers? On a slightly different tangent. Where are smokers going to be able to light up their cancer sticks and take the years off their collective lives?

After all, if I am not mistaken, tobacco is a legal product and those who wish to indulge in the habit are, and must be, allowed to do so. So, I wonder, where does Mayor Bloomberg and his health-conscious pencil-pushing tobacco banners proposing that cigarette smokers go to feed their nicotine cravings? Is the expectation that smoking becomes an exclusively home-based activity? Then again, perhaps the next smoking law will ban smoking in all private homes where their are children present.

I have always been intrigued by the argument that smoking is a human right and that restricting where it can occur is tantamount to violating the civil liberties of smokers. I am not quite sure where the balance is for those who do not smoke. So, do the human rights of smokers trump the human rights of non-smokers?

Considering, the ongoing onslaught against smokers to reduce the places where they can indulge, perhaps the answer is to take the plunge and go the whole nine yards; make smoking illegal, make tobacco illegal.

California to Collect Sales Tax on Medical Marijuana...

The latest figures that are circulating suggest that the State of California is collecting somewhere between USD 58 million and USD 105 million in tax revenue on medical marijuana sales of between USD 700 million to USD 1.3 billion. First things first, USD 1.3 billion in retail sales of medical marijuana is a whole stack of wacky weed being smoked to ease and alleviate the pain and trauma associated with illness, injury and disease.

The State Board of Equalization, those pencil pushers responsible for deciding who pays sales tax, has determined that dispensaries for medical marijuana are not exempt from paying sales tax. In fact, the article in the LA Times makes the suggestion that some of these dispensaries have been a little on the recalcitrant side in not paying as they should be.

If you are wondering why I am writing about this, then here is the point. I have argued for some time that it is about time that governments made a judgment call on marijuana. If it is argued that tobacco is suitable for sale  in spite of increasing amounts of evidence on how bad it is for one's health and the burgeoning flow on costs of providing medical treatment to smokers, then similar arguments can be made for the good ol' 'Mary Jane'.

Perhaps if the state regulated the marijuana trade, there may be a decrease in marijuana related crime. It removes the black market for the product and allows it to be taxed. If governments do not want people to be able to afford it, then tax it at a high rate. In Australia the tax on cigarettes is pretty high. As I was lining up to pay for petrol today, the young woman in front of me was buying a pack of cigarettes. I thought cigarettes were expensive but I did not realize they were like AUD 15+ for a pack of 25.

I am definitely not advocating smoking here. What I am arguing is that there is no common sense in allowing tobacco and alcohol to be legal while other similarly harmful products such as wacky weed are illegal. If people choose to harm themselves by ingesting products that are known to be harmful to them such as tobacco and alcohol (in excessive amounts) then why not allow people to make those similarly bad choices and tax those products as well?

To each their own, I guess.

22 February 2011

Teaching: 9 to 3, And Taking It Easy...

It is always with a chuckle that I listen to people saying how easy it is to teach and what a cushy gig it is. After all, as a teacher you only really work from 9am through to 3pm, and you get all these holidays as well. The chuckle is that these people have absolutely no idea what it is to be a teacher nor what is involved in getting the "job" done. I always encourage others to pick up the torch of education and come on board and illuminate the lives of our future leaders. My selling point is always, "where else does one get to shape the future of our world?"

Teaching is not a 9am through 3pm gig. It might be, give or take, the time that you are face-to-face with students. But these hours do not include the time one spends preparing lessons, researching material and content, working out ways to engage students, ongoing professional development and learning, behavioural management of students, and after-school activities whether they be staff meetings or sport and homework centre for the students. It really is a case of "only if". Only if teaching was a 9 to 3 gig how nice would that be?

The beauty of teaching for me is a many-faceted thing. There is no denying that there is a lifestyle choice in that I can have a little bit more control of my out of school time. For example, from 8.00 through 16.00 I am pretty much in school for meetings, teaching,and more meetings. However, after those hours if I want to spend time with my wife and son, I can. If I do spend this quality time with them in the afternoon and early evenings, then it is in the full knowledge that any research and lesson planning or other preparation that needs to be done will be done so after that. When one asks around it is probably not going to be all that uncommon to find teachers still putting the polish on lesson plans or detailing with administrative stuff late into the evening.

All that aside, the motivating factor for me to get into formal teaching was a desire to make a difference. I have been in the school that I am in now for a very short period of time, but I already feel that I am starting to make a difference. Over time I am confident that this difference will become substantial. As I said, what other profession gives you the day-in, day-out opportunity to shape the future of the next and succeeding generations. Magic!

Oh well, time to go...there is lesson planning to be done and some polish to be applied based on "things" that have happened today. Always thinking, always adapting, always learning.

Ho hum...

21 February 2011

The Government, The Internet, and A Little Revolution...

This came via the Treespotter via the Hammer of Truth.

Has technology changed the face of revolution?

SBY (AKA Save Bakrie, Yudhoyono) & Development...

I have not posted much lately. This has nothing to do with writer's block or similar ills that plague us all every now and then. Rather, it was a conscious decision to hide behind being "too busy" at work to blog. The truth though is more along the lines of getting a little bored with bagging SBY all the time. But, some things that the president says really are worth commenting on and this is one of them.

It seems that Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has had a "No Shit, Sherlock" moment. This little moment came when the president was signing-off on an accelerated economic (or is that eco-comic?) development plan at the State Palace in Bogor. It appears that SBY (Save Bakrie, Yudhoyono) believes development in Indonesia has failed during his tenure because of five illnesses. The five illnesses is a pretty convenient number as it fits the same basic framework as Pancasila or the five basic principles that the modern state of Indonesia is founded upon.

What Stupid Bloody Yudhoyono is doing here is passing the buck. He is the classic "buck-passer". He is the consummate "I am the president, so it is someone else's fault" type of guy. Simply, why take responsibility when you think that Teflon is a genetic trait?

The five illnesses plaguing Indonesia are:

  1. an inefficient bureaucracy (dealt with by black-balling the best performing, and reforming, Minister he had and forcing her to a post at the World Bank);
  2. regional governments (to be dealt with by removing direct elections in favour of central government appointments);
  3. investors who promise the world and then do not deliver (hmmm, didn't SBY come to the presidency promising the Indonesian people the world and delivering it to his family and friends?);
  4. a flawed legal system (the system is not the problem, the enforcement within the system is the problem, as is an inefficient and hands-off president who allows the institutions of state tasked with combating corruption to be undermined by special interests); and
  5. unhealthy political interests (what the president really means here is that he has been held hostage by the short and curlys by these very special interests, and happily so).

It seems like the events in Tunisia inspired events in Egypt which have further inspired others in the Middle East to express their collective desires for change. I wonder how long it is until the Indonesian people feel it is time to express their collective displeasure at a government that promises much and delivers nought? Maybe it is time that the masses returned to the street with a view to re-invigorating reformasi and finishing that which was started in 1998?

Ho hum...

Sherlock out!

18 February 2011

Late Night Collarenebri...

OK, so the hazy moon was bothering me. So, I went out and took a few more photos. I am not sure that this is much better. Although, confession time, I did do a few things different. The first one was a "portrait" shot with some flash involved. The second one was done at a much slower shutter speed and with the use of a tripod.

The third one is my study at 10.45pm. This was taken from the road. If you are wondering, Collarenebri is at least 75kms from the nearest town of any size and more than 140kms from a reasonable-sized town. That said, we are about 95kms from some good opal country up at Lightning Ridge. Anyways, there is not much traffic, so I set the tripod up on the road and took the photo. The photo is not bad considering my very amateur status. I am posting it for no other reason than the Free Papua Flag that you can see hanging from one of my bookcases.

Papua Merdeka! Free Papua! (But I digress)...


I should add that I am using a little Casio point and shoot job, an Exilim. Good enough...