Friday, December 31, 2004

satu kata itu

ribuan kata tersangkut di tenggorok
kala kudengar satu kata itu
tsunami!

getir dan emosi tak sanggup memisah
kala kulihat imaji sekata
tsunami!

2500, 4000, 40000, 70000, dan 94000
angka melesat bak pasir ditelan
tsunami!

tak sanggup kutanya pada sesiapa, kenapa?
tak pada satu mahluk di bumi
tak pula pada sosok yang kunamai Tuhan

lidahku kelu, airmataku beku
ditelan satu kata
tsunami!

mer, dc...




Monday, December 27, 2004

A post-Christmas devastating news from Asia....

I was horrified to wake up this morning and read about the devastating quake and tsunami that struck South Asia and Southeast Asia earlier today.

Quake, Tsunami Devastate Asia, Over 7,800 Dead

Dec 26, 2004 — By Simon Gardner
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - One of the most powerful earthquakes in history hit southern Asia Sunday, unleashing a tsunami on Sri Lanka and India and swamping tourist isles in Thailand and the Maldives to kill more than 7,800 people.
The tsunami — a menacing wall of water — caused death, chaos and devastation across southern Asia. The tsunami, up to 30 feet high, was triggered by an 8.9 magnitude underwater earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

There are already about 2500 people reportedly died in Aceh and another 2500 in Srilanka... This was the largest quake ever in the last 40 years. Indonesia and Srilanka are reported to be the worst hit countries.


I don't know what to say or what to think.... my mind is flying to a couple weeks ago when I was in Colombo, staying in the hotel facing the ocean... ahh.

I am speechless.... my mind is flying again to one place in Indonesia, Aceh... The place I've never been.... but feels so close to my mind. The place I have known since I read a map of Indonesia when I was 5 years old... The place where some of my Indonesian brothers and sisters live... ahh...

This tragedy is a test of love for human kind. In the spirit of after-Christmas day, I hope the world will be united in peace and love to give hope to the needy. We can and we should be able to at least share love by helping so many affected people who are still alive.

My thoughts and prayers are with you all who are being affected by this tragedy...

Saturday, December 25, 2004

....and let all begin with me...

In the dawn of Christmas day,
I am sitting down in the dark, with 3 big candles..
Candles of love, peace, and hope... glowing in the dark..


photo by mer, 25 dec '04

Let there be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me.
Let there be Peace on Earth, the peace that was meant to be!
With God as our Father, brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now.
With ev'ry breath I take, let this be my solemn vow;
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally!
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!


Let there be Peace on Earth,
Let there be Hope on Earth,
Let there be Love on Earth,
and let all begin with me.

Merry Christmas, World!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

My day with John A MacDougall

It was a sunny morning (well, almost noon) when I met John A. MacDougall. If you are Indonesian and a not-so-new Internet user, you must know him.... otherwise you must be a kuper creature! If one writes a history of Indonesian cyberactivism, then John A. MacDougall should the first name on the list. Why? Obviously because of his Indonesia-L--later was known as Apakabar--the Internet based alternative source of socio-political information on Indonesia. I myself cannot talk about the history of Indonesian Internet without mention John and his Indonesia-L.

Back to that day when I met John, Thursday the 28th of October. I took a subway. It was a long ride from downtown DC to Lanham, MD. I changed the train once and finally reached my final stop, College Park station. I called John from the coin public-phone to announce, "I have arrived. Come get me"..:) (as suggested by John in his email re: 'pick-up stuff') and in only about 7 minutes John showed up with his gray Honda.

I jumped to his car and shaked his hand. Funny feeling.... after 'talking' with John in cyberspace for years, I finally really talked to him with my own voice and listened to his voice! Very exciting! A very short car ride brought us to MacDougall's home. It was a small cozy house, far from luxury, so warm that makes you feel comfortable to be around. In the living room, I saw some pictures of John and his wife --Chew Sock Foon, who is originally Singaporean-- here and there. They looked so happy together. John showed me around his house where I looked at 2 old computers John used in the past for maintaining Indonesia-L aka Apakabar. Wow, those computers like coming from the stone-age of computer.. hehe. Well, I remember my first time using a computer more than 15 years ago, it was that kind of computer as well.

After making tea for me, John and I had some conversations. From technology to politics, from Indonesian election to US election, from Apakabar to Firefox! John actually did not really want to talk much about Apakabar. It was the past, he said, and he didn't want everything about him is seen as equal as Apakabar. So, I talked more about other stuff, yet surely couldn't help to dig a bit about Apakabar too for the sake of my curiosity.

Time went fast, finally it was time for lunch! Yes, worms in my tummy were shouting already...:) John prepared food for me... so very nice of him! Our lunch, rice with fish and veggies, was really tasty. I don't know what kind of fish it was, but I really like it, soooo delicious! I also like the coconut drink John served for me. Soooo fresh!

We had more conversation on the dining table. We exchanged some personal stories. John's stories about his life-work experience, in Singapore and USA fascinated me, humbled me. I really learned a lot from them. I was amazed on how knowledgeable John is about Indonesia.

John A. MacDougall has been portrayed as a 'big guy', a 'legend', and sometimes as 'an arrogant American' and other similar labels. But he is not that guy. John for me is a guy who tries to hold on his values in this idiosyncratic world, whose ideals aren't worn out by world's charlatans. He, at the same time, is a simple guy, who tries his best to survive his life day by day and deals with his difficulties. John too, is a real person, who opens his hands to welcome me to be his friend (thanks, John).

After hours of talk, we decided to stop. John drove me back to the station and we said goodbye. I took a train ride home with a big smile in my face and so many thoughts in my head. Oh yes! Now I know that John A. MacDougall is real! And I even got 'oleh-oleh' from him--2 CDs, one plastic bag of bumbu Laksa, 1 can of Thai curry paste, and 1 can of fish in tomato sauce. And all were real.. you can touch and eat them!

Wow... what an exciting day....

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Fundamentalism and Liberalism: Is there any in-between?

On my last day in Singapore, Rani informed me about the discussion about Islamic Pluralism to be held at the Black Box - Fort Canning Center and moderated by JIL (Islam Liberal Network)'s activist Ulil Abdashar-Abdalla, on December 14th Tuesday eve.

Entitled 'Islamic Discourse and the Pluralism of Islam', this discussion did not really focus on the theme itself, rather was showing some examples of attempts in pluralizing the view about religions in Indonesia, which of course is interesting in itself. Not so much new stuff being spilled out, but as always, any discussion about pluralism is always refreshing. And surely is important.

Apart from this particular discussion, what has been crossing my mind is that the discourse about religion somehow is always dichotomized between two polars, fundamentalism vs liberalism, forgetting that between two spectrums there lays a big pond of in-between-ness where most of members of society stand. Speaking about pluralism is not speaking about the dualism of fundamentalist vs liberal, isn't it? Pluralism is a belief that reality ultimately includes many different kinds of things. In discourse about religion pluralism acknowledges the co-existence of groups who hold divergent and incompatible views with regard to religious questions. Thus, borrowing from John Courtney Murray in the 1950s, pluralism therefore implies disagreement and dissension within a community.

Supposedly the liberalism has a totally different view than fundamentalism in interpreting religious messages, by holding on values of pluralism, there could always be space for exchanging ideas and appropriate critiques. However, both should not be trapped in competing for the 'right-ness', 'truth', and 'accuracy' by negating each other. It's true that there is a very thin layer between criticizing and negating, thus in practice it will be difficult to criticize without any tendency to negate nor to exclude. However, this is not impossible, and one should keep this in mind if want to hold on to pluralism.

Other important thing is that the existence of in-between-ness which now somehow is forgotten and ignored. How could be any pluralism in the public sphere if there are only two dominant views and the rest are muted? Supposedly the liberalists (well, easier for me to demand liberalists rather than fundamentalists... some of you know why) believe in the importance of pluralism, they should also encourage any different views about religion to grow and at the end this attempt should be more important than promoting any exclusive view of liberalism. But can one liberalist actually do that? Ya... again, difficult but not impossible.. one should be very unselfish and have a zero ego to do so.....



Friday, November 12, 2004

Happy Eid Mubarak

dearest my Muslim friends,

-in Indonesia and all over the world

At the end of Ramadhan,
the month of peace and tranquility
I want to hold your hands
to embark on a journey on two wheels
the wheels of peace and love

At the end of Ramadhan,
the month of spiritual learning
I want to stand next to you side by side
to show the world what it means to care
the message of peace with all we will share

At the end of Ramadhan,
let me shake your hands
and embrace you
with love
and peace

Happy Eid Mubarak 1425 H, my friends
Selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri 1425 H, sahabat

mer
dc, nov 12, 2004


Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Mourning Day

Chris Bertram at Crooked Timber wrote:
— The thirteen original states that brought us the Constitution voted overwhelmingly for John Kerry.
— The states that didn’t secede and which fought against slavery voted overwhelmingly for John Kerry.
— Black America which brought us in Martin Luther King, one of the greatest moral exemplars of modern times as well as the blues, jazz and soul voted overwhelmingly for John Kerry.
— California, home of the modern motion picture industry, voted for Kerry.

These are the great American achievements: the United States’ lasting contribution to freedom, culture and progress. Sadly, that America, the America of which Americans have the most reason to be proud and foreigners have the most reason to admire, just lost. Again.

----
Today perhaps is the world's mourning day....
Quite depressing as Bush actually not only wins the electoral votes he also wins the popular votes..... ah... couldn't comment more....
People in the office are quite sad... depressed.... were upset this morning and then.. just.. so quiet..
The future of the world suddenly becomes more gloomy...
ARGGGH!!

The World's Long Waits.....

The whole world pray for a real change.... but will there be a change?
The whole world have chosen whom they wanted to be the U.S. prez, but will Americans finally choose someone that is cursed by most people in the world?
Ah.... long awaiting..
I am nervous, so are all people in the world, perhaps....
Bush is still leading now.... 211 : 188, but there's still a hope.... Oregon, Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, Iowa, Minnesota, Hawaii....
Anyway...
Just to make myself feel better.... I am proud of my state... District of Columbia.. here, it's is 90% for Kerry and 9% for Mr. B. Hey, that's similar to the world's votes!

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Ayam gratis

Sepulang ngantor, saya merasa lapar dan karena belum tahu dimana letaknya supermarket jadi memutuskan untuk beli makanan dari restoran terdekat saja. Pokoknya yang paling pertama saya lihat, saya akan beli makan di situ.

Ternyata di belakang rumah ada Popeye chicken. Fast food sih, tapi biarin aja, udah lapar sekali. Saya segera ngantri dan mesen 1 paket, 2 ayam + biscuit, yg crispy & spicy.

Begitu giliran bayar, baru sadar ternyata ngga bawa dompet. Ketimbang bilang "I forget my wallet, spontan saya malah bilang sama mas kasir, "Oh, no.... I have no money...uhm... " Panik, omongan saya makin ngga jelas,"I think... I think... I cannot have the chicken...sorry, uhm... sorry."

Mas kasir menatap dengan prihatin, terus dia bilang,"Uhm... you can have the chicken, it's ok."
"Really? No, that's not right... I got no money, you know.."
"It's okay maam.... it's OK."

Akhirnya aku terima tawaran dia, dengan mengucapkan terimakasih yang tak habis2nya. Habis ya sudah lapar banget pula :)

Pas orderku selesai dan aku melangkah meninggalkan kasir menuju pintu keluar, aku baru sadar kalau restoran fast-food yang satu ini penuh dengan homeless, karena memang harganya yang sangat terjangkau. Pasti tadi si mas kasir menyangka saya bagian dari club homeless ini yang kelaparan dan ngga punya uang :)

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

TV, Bangga & Terkenal

Banyak orang pingin jadi orang yang terkenal. Juga banyak orang yang bangga kalau punya kekasih, temen, saudara, bapak, ibu, paman, bibi, tetangga, atau bahkan cuma ketemu orang terkenal. Kenapa sih? Apa enaknya jadi orang terkenal? Apa hebatnya kenal sama orang terkenal?

Mungkin emang manusia butuh pengakuan dan butuh disanjung? Mungkin, tapi ngga semua orang kayak gitu kan? Ada juga manusia yang ngga butuh pengakuan nor sanjungan, paling2 butuh duit gocap-an atau goban-an (dollar lho, atau euro) kayak saya...hihihi...

Eniwei, kayaknya emang org banyak yg ngimpi jadi terkenal ya?

Oh ya, akhir2 ini ada temen2 yang pikir saya ini udah rada-rada terkenal. Mungkin karena sering dipanggil 'mbak Mer' sehingga sering ketuker sama mbak Meriem Belina kali ye? Atau juga karena saya ini sebetulnya adalah Lady Day yang jelas-jelas emang terkenal? Hoehaheoio.... tapi ada temen2 yg mikir kalo saya ini adalah 'academic selebrity'..hehehe... garing buanget euy! Karena kata mereka kalo dicari di 'google' nama saya muncul banyak (wah, kalo ini saya tak sanggup menahan.... :P). Ada-ada aje ya? Eh, gini2 emang saya pernah diwawancara di radio lho... udah berapa kali ya? 5 kali! 4 kali sama radio nasional, 1 kali sama radio Australia, tapi sayangnya siapa yg denger pula ya? duh..duh....:)

Kemaren ini orang tua dan keluarga saya di Bandung dengan bangganya (katanya sih bangga, entah kalo mereka ternyata engga ya) nonton saya di MetroTV. Mereka antusias banget dan komentar, "Wah, bagus, bagus, keren... udah (ampir, red ) terkenal dong sekarang!"...hihihi. Emang wajar sih mungkin kalo ortu lebih mengharapkan saya muncul di TiVi ketimbang buku saya muncul di toko buku atau artikel saya muncul di first-tiered international jurnal.

Tapi sebetulnya sih saya sendiri bingung dgn perasaan saya. Koq saya lebih bangga waktu artikel saya pertama kalinya masuk di internasional jurnal. Koq saya malah lebih terharu waktu saya menang lomba menulis essay internasional. Saya jelas2 jauh lebih bangga waktu saya diundang ke international conference yang penuh dgn well-known scholar speakers dan menjadi junior satu-satunya di conference itu (cieleh....)

However, saya bisa ngerti kenapa ortu saya lebih bangga kalo saya masuk TiVi. Dan appreciate rasa proud mereka. Masuk TiVi ngga ada salahnya juga sih ya.... dan sekarang saya bisa pura2 jadi selebritis.. hihi.. selebritis bau kencur. Tapi masalahnya, kalaupun saya jalan2 di pasar baru sehari 3 kali.. tetep kagak ada yg bakalan minta tanda tangan sama saya... terus gimana dong? gagal deeeeehhhh....

Makanya temen2 pembaca blog... kalo ketemu saya di jalanan ... pura2 kagum dong.. dan buru2 minta tanda tangan saya... biar yg laen pada ngikut... hihi...maksa abissss....

Oh ya, ini top secret, tapi speaking of masuk TiVi, gini2 gue pernah nolak diwawancara sama salah satu TV channel paling terkenal di dunia! Gaya banget ya gue.... belagu!... ember sih....hoaheoioeouia... eh, ini kisah nyata lho!

The Internet and Indonesian Election

It was Sunday evening of September 26th in D.C. or early morning of September 27th in Indonesia when I showed up as a special guest of Voice of America Journal (Jurnal VoA) program. The program is broadcasted from VoA in DC to Indonesian audience via MetroTV and led by Patsy Widakuswara.

Dealing with the topic that I am very familiar with made me free from tension or nerve in that interview and Q&A. Compared to some interviews I had with Radio, actually this one was less nervous.

So, what I was talking about? Well, not sure if you all want to read about it.. Not much I could tell in a short interview but in brief I was telling Patsy and the audience that the Internet does have a role in the context of Election. It has several functions: it serves as a media for providing information and knowledge about the Election, it also serves as a 'space' for election related discussion, it provides space for campaign, and lastly it also helps to update people with the result of election in a real-time basis and in a more transparent way.

Of course, the Internet, just like any other technology, is a double edged sword. You cannot guarantee the credibility of the Internet. News, information, and other stuff coming from the Internet can be false and irresponsible as well as acurate and responsible. However, rather than being skeptical about the role of this technology, I would rather try to embrace this technology and explore its positive potential in its fullness. There's never wrong with that.

Regarding much of skepticism about the influence of the Internet in Indonesian society -- as stated by one audience -- mainly because the technology is elitist and only reaches 5% of population therefore some assume that this technology cannot have any influence, I argue that there are direct and indirect influence. Of course there are only Internet users -- which is nly 5% of population -- who are impacted by direct influence, but the Internet is not isolated from other media and networks. The Internet is located within intermodality that connects it to other media. Information on the Internet frequently becomes inspirations for writers, journalists, political leaders and even religious leaders to influence and even provoke others (society at large). Recently it's a public secret that journalists are mostly doing 'quick field investigation' using search engine and observing mailing lists to get their stories rather than going directly to the field. So, here is the indirect influence of the internet.... it really exists and it does matter.

Ok, before I sounds defensive, I better stop here.
Some of my friends complained that they couldn't see me because I didn't tell anybody about my being on TV (except of my parents in Bandung).. and I told them that I will try to post the digital recording of this interview. I cannot promise .... but somehow I'll do it. Ok, just watch out my blog then, ok?

Friday, October 01, 2004

Kerry: "A Colosal Error of Judgment"

The first US presidential debate was held on Thursday, 30 Sept, 9 pm Eastern Time. It was a big time not only for Senator Kerry and President Bush but also for Americans. While I'm sure the debate would not much radically change in the division of votes, I really think the debate could and would make a chance, at least it could swing a little number of undeciding voters.

Debating about foreign policy, the talk yesterday evening focused much on Iraq war. In this debate, being calm and fairly confident, Kerry had been consistently criticizing Bush's treatment against Iraq (also North Korea) and called the conflict as a grand diversion of the broader war against terrorism. Kerry pointed out that Iraq war has no links with the 9-11 and was a 'colosal error of judgment'. He also criticized Bush that he did not do anything to gain international support, did not do enough to protect American soldiers, and concluded that the war wasn't planned well. Kerry emphasized the importance of creating allies and reaching for Muslim countries so US can gain credibilities and supports in handling terrorism rather than sending mix-messages to the global world. In the case of mix-message, Kerry bravely mentioned one example -- by protecting oil area in Iraq but not putting enough troops at the border and other fragile areas, US stimulated Middle East to think that US has a long interest in this region rather than short-term goal to free Iraq.

Bush looked a bit comfortable at the criticism but showed his toughness and convidence by saying that 'he knows how to lead' and 'people know where I stand' and criticized Kerry as being inconsistent. Bush also pointed out that by saying the Iraq war as 'wrong war, wrong place, wrong time' Kerry had denigrated the sacrifice of warriors of Iraq war and someone like that is incapable to lead.

There were several sharp exchanges, Senator Kerry at one point saying the president's certainty about issues did not make him right and overall Kerry did a better job than Bush but neither man appeared to deliver a knock-out blow.

Friday, August 20, 2004

On the wire: rambling about Indonesian education

Today I was interviewed by Indonesian radio - Jakarta based Radio 68h Utan Kayu. This was my 4th radio interview, but I still felt nervous... selalu rada ge-er euy!

Well, it was not directly broadcasted, so I wasn't 'on air', but on the phone! ..yep, 'on kawat' alias 'on the wire' and being recorded. Strangely, I always lebih gugup - more nervous - if being recorded in an undirect broadcasting rather than a direct one...

It was only a 10 minutes interview and I tried so hard to not to say 'eeee...eee' :(. The reporter sounded formal - she was much more informal in email - thus I was a bit dilematic to act formal or informal. Being formal is not my style... :p For example when I was asked about my motivation in hunting a scholarship, I directly answered, " Karena pingin jalan2 ke luar negeri gratis dong!" (I want to travel abroad without spending any penny!). Which perhaps wasn't expected by the reporter..:) (mbak reporter, what do you think?). Well, that was of course one of some reasons besides some logical and easy ones like: wanted to learn more (cieleh) and had no money to pay further study by my own....

I criticized the Indonesian education system a little bit. I didn't structurally communicate these well - as i'm better textually than verbally..:(... but here are my thoughts:

First the learning approach itself is misleading - mostly emphasizing on external forces (ngapalin yg banyak, baca buku sebanyak2nya, tahu rumus sebanyak2nya, pokoknya batok kepala didedet sebanyak2nya) rather than internal forces, i.e. building creativity, self-direction and andragogy (anak2 jadi seneng belajar krn ingin ketimbang terpaksa belajar).. both should exist together.. like this concept of structural balance in mechanic physic below:

Structures to be successful have to withstand the loads and forces which act upon them. When a load (external force)is applied to a structure, forces are produced within the structure (internal forces) to resist the load. Provided the internal forces balance the external forces, the structure will retain its integrity. When imbalances of internal and external forces occur, a structure will suffer what is termed a catastrophic failure.

Second there's no human agents who can really endorse the quality of education -- basically there are generally two groups of human agents: government and private. Goverment's education management - as you can easily guess - is very poor, some gov's related problems, among others: national budget for education is very low-comparable to other SEA countries (therefore there's lack of qualified teachers), the management of budget is poorly performed - corrupt, leaking here and there especially on middle management, curiculum isn't clear, (switched from centralized/single curriculum to competency based curriculum but no clear guideline... no clear efforts to implement orderly), no monitoring/evaluation system.
Meanwhile, private initiatives mostly are based on 'commercial values'.. profit making.. they only serve middle-upper class of society.. and still are suffered from some 'undemocratic' pedagogic approach.

Third is the fact that the culture of learning isn't yet embedded in the society. Learning should be like breathing... the necessity... part of life. And this is beyond the formal education... we, all entities in society, we need to hold hands and create this ambience of learning.. together..

...hey, these weren't exactly what I mentioned in the interview! Ugh.. as I say, I think I am better in writing... and I can only be verbally well when I am joking!

In my interview, I was talking a bit about some community based initiatives to make education better... like our beloved Beasiswa mailing list...:). I also told a bit about my personal story... who was I that I needed scholarship for further study... well, I was asked so.. I said it.

Guess, that's all the content of my interview.. Not much could be said in 10 minutes, right? Yet surely it's good to have a channel to speak up your opinion a bit. Thanks Radio 68h Utan Kayu, thanks Dewi!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

My 'future' direct number

Two days ago I got an email from an Indonesian journalist of VoA (Voice of America). He wrote like this, "I knew that you're in DC from indonesian-studies list. But why my call is never answered? I kept calling but nobody picked up". He mentioned one number he had been trying to dial.. and was asking for another number..

I was confused to receive his email. First I am not in DC (yet) and I didn't recognize that number at all! So I directly emailed him saying that I am not yet in DC and that was the wrong number and gave him the number of my future DC-institution for him to call later when I arrive in DC.

After replying him I checked the indonesian-studies list and was shocked to find out that the list moderator, John A MacDougall posted one email with my name as a subject complete with my direct phone number in DC and my bios. Ouch, so that was the number that VoA guy dialed!

Apparently the research center I'll be affiliated in DC has published a webpage of me and it included the direct phone number I'll be given (in fact, the number is already there in my 'future' office). I felt embarrased that I didn't know my 'future' direct phone number and needed someone to let me know!. I directly emailed that DC guy saying sorry and telling him that that was the right number.. yet I am still not yet there. He came back to me and said,"Mbak ini hebat ya... orangnya belum datang teleponnya sudah ada...hehehe" .

Hehe, yes..funny. I told this story for my friend. He commented, "Hey, Mer, you are more famous in a place where you are not there rather than where you are!".. hehehe.. right-o!

Monday, August 16, 2004

Merdeka atau Kau Mati

-Hormat pada yang mati tak bernama-

Setengah abad yang lalu.
Gaung bergelegar suara
Bung Karno, Bung Sjahrir, Bung Hatta, Bung Tan Malaka:
Merdeka atau mati, dan gelora revolusi
memecah kesunyian jiwa muda
meruncing pada bambu, menusuk
membuncah merah nasionalisme.
Mati dan Merdeka!

Seperempat abad kemudian.
Jiwa Bung dipendam
pada tengkorang retak tak bernama
oleh hantaman moncong dan injakan lars.
Kesakitan yang membisu
ditimpuk slogan dan janji-janji.
Merdeka dan Kau mati!

Setengah abad berlalu.
Sayup suara jiwa Bung,
ditingkah kata yang membusa kebohongan
tuli dan bisu menyumpal mulut berbau kecoa
tangan-tangan dekil mengais
lembaran dan logam di lubang kóreng* rakyat,
lidah-lidah menari pada pantat
pun kemaluannya sendiri.
Siapa peduli nasib yang mengejek
terdengar suara tawa
untuk kebadutan: Merdeka dan Kau mati!
Tawa yang menunggu marah.

karya: Prihandono B. Kusumo

Friday, August 06, 2004

Conquering the Hot Weather... finally!

Finally I found a place with air-con.. which is unbelivably difficult!
I am now at the library... in a cozy quiet corner all by myself.... cool and connected! Superb!

People in Jakarta may have no idea how difficult it is to be here during hot summer... buildings have no windows.. let alone air-con! Here, they had been living in a cold-cool place for ages! Never prepared for global warming...

Anyway, now I find this cozy spot... great! Don't have to worry that my brain will melt..

Serendipities a.k.a. Koinkidinks alias Kebetulan

Pernah ngga ngalamin kebetulan yg bertubi2 alias berkali-kali, alias untung buanget?.. Aku baru ngalamin...
Ceritanya gini: karena satu dan lain hal (naon maksudna tah..) aku ngga jadi balik ke Indo awal agustus ini, so harus tinggal di sini sampai akhir Agustus padahal kontrak apartemenku udah habis tgl 5 agustus dan ngga bisa diperpanjang soalnya ada org lain yg udah mau masuk. Walah, gimana nih, aku langsung bingung.. Akhirnya aku pasang iklan di milis pelajar indonesia di enschede..

Sementara nunggu reaksi milis, eh tau-tau tetanggaku pak Wondo (bener2 tetangga sebrang apartemenku, malah kita berbagi fasilitas umum) nawarin kamarnya paling engga sampai tgl 11 agustus krn kebetulan dia mau balik ke Indo. Aku bilang thanks, dong.. lumayan lah. Ngga lama aku dapet email dari Vita, temen Indo yg kebetulan mau pulang pas tgl 2 Agustus sampe 2 September.. wah, kebetulan nih.. langsung aku ambil dong tawaran dia.

Kayaknya tau2 berita aku butuh kamar nyebar nih... dalam minggu itu aku dapat tawaran kamar dari 3 orang! Satunya adalah Nico, profesorku yg orang Belanda, lainnya adalah Sara, office-mateku yg org Sudan dan satunya lain Margaret, kolegaku yg orang Inggris. Waduh.. banyak banget org yg perhatian.. Kemaren malah Irna, kolegaku yg lain juga nawarin kamar di rumahnya...

Nah.. aku tenang dong, karena udah dapet kamar. Tapi akhir Juli ini aku sibuk banget.. ngga sempet packing u/ pindah ke tempatnya Vita. Untung banget ada kamarnya pak Wondo yg next door.. jadi bisa langsung pindahin gitu aja. Tapi ya sempet tadi pagi bingung karena beberapa hal, pertama karena kamar Pak Wondo ini koneksi Internetnya mati, padahal aku kan butuh Internet banget, kedua karena tau2 ban belakang sepedaku kemaren gembos (asli ancur alias belah) padahal aku butuh banget untuk pindahan ke tempat Vita nanti dan u/ keperluan sehari2.. jadi bete juga. Eh, kebetulan hari ini tukang reparasi dateng dan benerin Internet.. pas hari aku pindahan ke kamar ini (udah di kamar pak Wondo sekarang)... koq bisa pas waktu-nya ya. Terus tau2 tadi pas aku turun ke lantai dasar, kebetulan ketemu tetanggaku yg org Filipina yg tau2 ngajak minum teh.. dan terus dia kebetulan punya sepeda cadangan dan langsung minjemin sepeda sama aku! Eh taunya kebetulan ban depan sepedanya juga gembos dan pas dituker sama ban depan sepedaku kebetulan kagak sama ukurannya. Terus kita hunting sepeda yang dibuang dan kebetulan nemu sepeda yang ban depan-nya ok banget. Diopreklah sampai akhirnya sepeda-nya dia itu bisa aku pake.
Woah.. banyak kebetulansss..

"Boss yang di atas" emang sayang banget ya sama aku....
Hidup ini sangat asikkk kalau penuh dengan kebetulan yg diharapkan!

mer-

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Hot Enschede

30 derajat Celcius alias 84 derajat Fahrenheit! Alangkah panasnya bumi ini!!

It's been hot here in Enschede... it's a real summer and I actually don't like it. Too hot ... I'm melting! Helllllp!!

It is very uncomfortable because buildings are designed for cold weather, so when it's hot, then inside it is too hot and outside is burning... so, what to do?

Ah.. I want to skip August! I want the Fall.... my favorite season, Fall (and Spring)....

My memorable room

Tonight is my last night staying in this apartment, Calslaan 45-42. I didn't really grasp that I've been staying in this room--as this is a studio apartment, only one room--for almost a year. I never stayed that long in Netherlands before, this is my longest stay... From 12th of September 2003 to 5th of August 2004, that's 10 months and 25 days.

Many things happened in this room. Good, bad, happy, sad things... From the only window in this room I witnessed my first white snowy day. In this room I celebrated my first Christmas and New Year far from my family... In this table I finished hundreds pages of writing...In this room I was happy to read good news...and cried for sad news..

Ah... I'm gonna really miss this room. Really.

I'll sleep so well tonight here for the last time.....let the good karma flow through my dreams...

Friday, July 16, 2004

Rindu

Entah kenapa, pagi ini tiba-tiba ingin menulis dalam bahasa Indonesia... (buat yang ngga ngerti... ya udah.. sukurin deh luh..hehe). Mungkin karena sudah lama tidak berbicara dalam bahasa Indonesia? (Ah, engga juga... hari Minggu kemaren masih ketemu temen orang Indo dan ngobrol ngelantur ngalor-ngidul). Mungkin karena memang sudah lama tidak mnulis dalam bahasa Indo kecuali untuk ber-email-ria dengan teman2 lama. Mungkin juga pelampiasan alam bawah sadarku karena bulan depan aku tidak jadi pulang ke Indo. Yah, mungkin.. mungkin saja.. mungkin saja abstraksi dari sebuah kerinduan.

Kerinduan... 'rindu', rasa yang umum diakui mereka yang tinggal jauh dari keluarga dan teman. Rasa yang biasa menghantui mereka yang tinggal jauh dari tanah air atau negara asal. Tapi aku tak pernah mengatakan kata itu. Aku pikir rasa rindu itu sudah hampir hilang dilibas waktu. Aku pikir kata 'rindu' itu sudah berbaur kata 'terbiasa'. Tiga tahun terakhir sedikit sekali waktu yang kuhabiskan bersama keluarga dan teman-teman di Indonesia dan aku menjadi terbiasa. Tak pernah berusaha membunuh rasa rindu karena aku sudah terbiasa dengannya. Sehingga kerinduan bukanlah lagi sebuah kerinduan.

Namun hari ini kusadari, mungkin rasa rindu itu tetap ada. Karena aku masih bermimpi tentang ibuku yang selalu menjinjing kantung keresek berwarna hitam ke pasar setiap pagi, ayahku dengan celana pendek biru favoritnya dan sandal jepit yang sudah hampir rata dengan tanah, adikku yang sering terkantuk-kantuk tak kenal waktu dan tempat, dan keponakanku si jenius Abel yang super lucu.

Ya, rasa rindu itu pernah ada. Masih ada. Akan selalu ada.





Thursday, July 15, 2004

The cost of health

I got a mail from my insurance company today. They sent me a letter asking some information why I was in the hospital and enclosed an invoice from the hospital. Shocking, the amount was 4,574.70 Euro! That's 50 million Rupiahs! If I had to pay by myself, then ... ugh, one year working is not enough. Fortunately, the insurance will cover it. So, health is unbelievably costly ya?

Mahal euy... mahal...

Monday, July 12, 2004

Life

Many things just suddenly happened in past few weeks. Big things in life. Unfortunately, but perhaps fortunately, I wasn't prepared to deal with one real BIG thing. However, just 4 days ago, on Thursday of 8 July 2004, I got an answer for this big thing. Made me feel so relieved. Made me appreciate life much more than before. I cannot really say what was that big thing, as it was very personal. In brief I can say that it was about life and death.

Since that day, I've been feeling so good about my existence. I value my life more. I enjoy my being in this world and feel the goodness of God. I love my life and feel loved by this life. This life is worth of living.

Life

The air flows through my existence
and celebrates my life
It breezes the goodness
in all forms of life
Opens all of my petals
and let love flow in
Spreads the seeds of love inside me
and let them grow within
Erases the scars of the past
and finds again the peace in my life
I wake up and rise
let a new energy of love flow
Inside me, within me, around me
let it wrap me up
I embrace love and laugh
as life is worth of living


enschede, july 2004

Sunday, July 04, 2004

The Political Compass

Do you ever wonder where you stand politically? Mostly I figured myself to be kind of a bit leftish... but not so much. But after taking a test in a cool political analysis tool, now I know where I stand (perhaps it's 'almost' right). The tool that is called as The Political Compass is really a cool easy to use tool. What you have to do is just answering 6 series of questions covering variety of attitues, values and opinions towards political issues. At the end you get a test result which is a pair of numerical scores ranging from -10 to 10 that cover two spectrums: economic left/right and libertarian/authoritarian.

So, what did my test say? Surprisingly I come in as -8.25/-4.77!!! This means I'm pretty much a lefty (hey, I never thought I was). According to the analysis section of the Political Compass, this result puts me closest to Nelson Mandela and Gandhi - in political sense. Wow!! Well, perhaps I could get along so well with them, then....:-)

Anyway, it's fun to do this.. Wanna try? Just click this: Political Compass

Saturday, July 03, 2004

The Mutable Self

"I am different with an Internet in my hand; the Internet is different with me using it. I am another subject because I use the Internet; the Internet is another object because it has entered into a relationship with me" (Mer's rendition of Latour's Pandora's Hope p 179)

The demonstration of a new definition for the relationship between humans and non-humans, subjects and objects by Latour goes much deeper than this simple passage has captured.

[not yet finished]

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Mattie's Heartsongs

A week ago, on June 22th, my hero Mattie Joseph Thaddeus Stepanek passed away on his 13th. Yes, he was young but he was the world's hero. In the all-too-short time of his life, Mattie graced the world with his presence and an incredible talent for writing and a passion for life. He taught the world about 'love'. He was and still is a source of inspiration for many, including me. His poems have touched my heart and mind.

I got introducted to Mattie on my 2002 birthday when my beloved one gave me a Journey through Heartsongs book of Mattie. I was greatly impressed by this collection of poems. He humbled me.

The boy who suffered from a rare neuromuscular disease called dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy had started writing poems since he was 3 years old. And he kept writing until he died.

I like all of his poems, including his very short poem below:

Facing the Future

Every journey begins
With but a small step.
And every day is a chance
For a new, small step
In the right direction.
Just follow your Heartsong.


and this poem that means a lot for this world:

For Our World


We need to stop.
Just stop.
Stop for a moment…
Before anybody
Says or does anything
That may hurt anyone else.
We need to be silent.
Just silent.
Silent for a moment…
Before we forever lose
The blessing of songs
That grow in our hearts.
We need to notice.
Just notice.
Notice for a moment…
Before the future slips away
Into ashes and dust of humility.
Stop, be silent, and notice…
In so many ways, we are the same.
Our differences are unique treasures.
We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts
To nurture, to offer, to accept.
We need to be.
Just be.
Be for a moment…
Kind and gentle, innocent and trusting,
Like children and lambs,
Never judging or vengeful
Like the judging and vengeful.
And now, let us pray,
Differently, yet together,
Before there is no earth, no life,
No chance for peace.

September 12, 2001


Mattie, thanks for teaching us about love. We will miss you a lot.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Moulin Rouge

When I was in the hospital I spent many nights watching movies. One of them was the Moulin Rouge, which is unforgetable for me.

I loved this movie. The plot wasn't anything special, yet I couldn't stop but sit, stare, laugh and cry. The movie was absolutely ridiculous, but it has the ability to hit your heart and soul where it matters..

I admire the bravery of the producer. So wacko! I enjoyed his wacko-ness. The movie contains many element of famous pieces like Romeo-Juliet love story and popular American musics... and everything were bravely mixed without doubt nor shame in it. It takes what many people consider 'ordinary' or 'mediocre' things and puts a new soul in them in such a fantastic way that knocking you off your couch.

The Moulin Rouge also has some great redone music and great visual scenes. Also important is the fact that the stars, Nicole Kidman (Satine) and Ewan MacGregor (Christian), they can really sing.

I think this movie is a must-see for musical enthusiasts...

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

GoogleMail - a blessing or a curse?

Today my friend Rani invited me to sign up for GMail (Google Mail), a giant web-based email that allows you to have 1 GB storage to keep your emails. I knew about it several months ago, but just did not follow the issue, just forgetting it.... But Rani is the most updated person about the Internet (this is serious!) and she is also very well organized so there's no way for her to forget something! So, in brief, based on Rani's information, I signed up for GMail through Blogger.

I feel ambivalent about this service. I really think it's a real breakthrough. This is really a public relation triumph for Google. Imagine that it offers a FREE email service with 100 times as much storage as Yahoo's premium paid service!

However, my suspicious mind cannot stop being suspicious. It's a public secret that Google is not a company that respects the privacy. What would Mr. Google do with our 1GB emails? Would Mr. G sell it to the eBay? spammers? or CIA and all intelligent agencies in the world?

In fact, Mr. G gave a hint about it. It says that while GMail users can delete emails from our mailbox, those deleted emails would be eternally kept in Google's server. Also there is cookie issue, etc. In the end GMail is a panopticon... a tool of surveillance.. a tool for privacy violation.

So, Gmail..is it a blessing or a curse?

Well, 'suspicion is as suspicion does'....it has its limit! I has signed up, anyway. It's not bad to have 1 GB harddisk in cyberspace...:-)

Monday, June 21, 2004

I'm back

You never know how good something is until you lose it. That's so true.

Today I am finally back to the office after almost two weeks off. Feel good to be able to see the office again, yet cannot stay really long. Margaret, a colleague who also picked me up this morning, sent me back home at around 1:30 pm. I can continue working from home, of course.

Yes, I am back to a real life... my home and my office. Life is good, life is valuable. I appreciate life more after leaving my usual life for 9 days.

Perhaps sometimes it's necessary to leave your routine world.. when you come back then you would know how nice it is. In my case it was a forced leave.. unfortunately.. my body, nature, world.. and God.. they worked together to force me to take a leave. That's not so nice, but well... everything work together for something good, I believe so.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

IT for people with disabilities

Honestly, while I am always concerned about technology's accessibilities for people with disabilities, I didn't actually learn much about it until recently as I dealt with 'web accessibility' issue due to my involvement as one of the judges of the World Summit Award.... so, I've been learning.. and now I know a little bit about it.

BTW, I just finished my interview with 68H Utan Kayu Radio from Jakarta, Indonesia where I was rambling a bit (only 10 minutes) about the information technology for people with disabilities.. Sad enough to see that Indonesian goverment (let alone companies) doesn't care about this issue. Well, surely there are many many other important things to take care, but then there's no reason to neglect this issue just because having so many other problems, right?

I respect US goverment who puts forward Section 508 of Rehabilitation Act, for example. Once the government has a clear policy, then others will follow.. I believe so.

Oh ya, one positive note based on my interview, I heard that one non-governmental institution in Indonesia, Mitra-Netra, is developing computer and related technologies for blind people.... great news... the disabled who empower other disabled, that's profound.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Death Test

Hey, good news.... I'll have 35 years more to live! The Death Test says that I'll die on 29th of April, 2039. On that date, I'll most likely die from: cancer (10%), alien abduction (7%), alcoholism (7%), and 'cleaning your rifle' (7%)!!! Strange reasons... but anyway.
Who will believe this kind of forecast? Well, doesn't matter if I (you) believe or not, it's always fun to laugh about life..
So, bear with me for another 35 years, pals!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

The Indonesian Election

Yesterday, 5th of April 2004, the Indonesian election was held world-wide, including here in Holland. Despite so many flaws in logistics, socialization, etc, I think this election could be the second democratic election ever held in Indonesia (the first was 1955). Of course, it's not yet reach a 'thick' democratic stage, at least it is procedurally democratic.

Is this a sign of hope for democracy in Indonesia? I want to believe.....

Spring is here

As I came back to Holland, the weather has been changed. It is no longer freezing as it was in January/February. For some time last week, the weather had been so great. Sunny cool bright days... not cold and not hot.. Perfect, I really liked it. However this week seems to be gloomy. The temperature gets down a bit, which is still okay, what make it not so great is that this week will be raining a lot. Like this morning.

Anyway, there's no use to complain about the weather as it will not change by our complaints.. right? Still, I can say what kind of weather that I like, right? Right-o!

So, it's spring here.... cannot wait to see more flowers to pop up from the ground... Will be soooo lovely. Yes, I do love spring!

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Watching movies

Spending a semi-holiday in Bandung made me able to have some 'quiet' time to 'finish' some undone work - watching movies! I have so many DVDs and some VCDs of great movies... but too little time to watch.. So, it was a big relief to finally able to watch about 10++ movies from approximately 60-70 collections.

What kind of movies do I collect? Well, no standard... I bought DVDs mainly in Southeast Asia - Singapore, Bangkok, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, and of course Bandung. Since the price of DVDs in Bandung is so cheap, I bought sooooo many there during my recent semi-holiday. Yep, pirated ones.. alias bajakan! Why not.. I don't believe in the monopoly of copyright, after all.....:) Long life anti-copyright!!

Movies that I saw recently are (some are new, some are old): Monalisa Smile, Toy Story, Lords of the Ring (1,2,3), The Last Samurai, Ada Apa dengan Cinta (Indonesian), Daun di atas Bantal (Indonesian), Biola tak Berdawai (Indonesia), American Sweetheart, Anger Management, Sabrina, Radio, Fighting Temptations, The Passion of the Christ, Vanilla Sky, School of Rock, The Guru, Bent it like Beckham, Himalaya, Balzac and the Little Chinese Streamtrees, ..etc..

Some of them are really bad like American Sweetheart and Anger Management... Some Indian ones (The Guru, Bent it like Beckham) are so so, but fun to watch. Indonesian ones are not special, they are not so bad, though.... (for Indonesian standard). School of Rock and Fighting Temptations are really fun... Radio and Monalisa Smile, they are full of good values. Lords of the Ring is great... yet perhaps the novels were even greater. The Passion of the Christ is touching and religious.

But my favorite among those are Vanilla Sky, Himalaya, Toy Story and Balzac & the Little Chinese Streamtrees... Why? Perhaps I'll tell 'why' later...

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Indonesia - highest percentage of online fraud

VeriSign said the United States continued to lead all countries in total volume of online fraud and remained the largest source of e-commerce revenue in the world. Indonesia ranked highest among all nations in percentage of fraud per transaction, followed by Nigeria, Pakistan, Ghana and Israel.

more

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Cambodian hybrid motorcycle/WiFi network

Human is a creative creature..
Check this out...

"The motorbikes begin their route early in the morning by stopping at the only satellite dish in the province. Using the wireless technology they download any mail which may have arrived over the internet for the villages. As the motorbikes move from village to village they pass the schools which have a similar box and antenna.

When a motorbike gets within one to 1 ½ kilometres of an access point in a village it automatically picks up all the information in the outbox of the village computer. At the same time, it transmits the incoming mail to the computer."

more

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

It's NOT enough

By Bob Perks

It's not enough to want better things for yourself. You must find ways to make things better.

It's not enough to say the world is in turmoil. You must find ways to bring peace into it.

It's not enough to point at someone else and blame them for what is wrong. You must welcome them in and ask how you can help them make it right.

It's not enough to say "Someone ought to do something about it!" You are someone, do it!

It's not enough to pray and ask for God's help. You must thank him for the challenge and the opportunity to learn from it.

It's not enough to tell a child what is right. You must be what is right so they learn from your example.

It's not enough to blame your government for what is wrong. You must participate in the process to make it right.

It's not enough to wish. You must work! to make it so.

It's not enough to ask. You must give to earn the right.

It's not enough to say "I tried!" You must try and try again.

It's not enough to want to be loved. You must learn how to love first.

It's not enough say "I care." You must show how much and why.

It's not enough to wake up. You must thank God you did.

It's not enough to just earn a living. You must create a life.

It's not enough to begin. You must always follow through.

It's not enough to have a friend. You must learn to be one, too.

It's not enough to believe in someone. You must tell them so.

Saturday, January 31, 2004

My music

Not sure why, this evening I checked my mp3 collection that I keep in this computer. Arrgh... was so shocked to find out that I devote 6.60 GB of my harddisk for mp3! There are 1632 songs which can be played non-stop for 4.2 days! And this doesn't include many mp3 CDs I have... and minidisks too.. Oh! I keep too many mp3!!

Anyway... it's better than keeping cassette or conventional CDs... will be thousands cassettes for all songs I keep. Thanks to mp3 technology!

Thursday, January 29, 2004

What a beautiful morn!

Yesterday evening as I cycled my bike home (it was actually almost midnight), I was so happy because the night was brighter than usual. No stars, no moon, but why it was bright? Because snow was falling, painting the ground with white color... and reflecting lights of street lamps.... it was beautiful. I was like a kid who got a surprise gift. I cycled slowly.. and then took sometimes to made snow balls (snow layer was too thin to make a snowman, unfortunately). Nobody to play around, I just threw snow balls to the ground.... again and again.... I finally stopped when I felt chilled.

All night long I was wishing for more snow to fall.... I was hoping to see the real white morning.... And wow, it came true! I woke up and saw a white scenery from my window. I was really really happy!

That morning I took some pics of scenery (and self-photos too.. with no shame!).... then I tried to hold snow with naked hand... so good.. yet.. so hot! Snow burned my hands! Fortunately it was just a temporary hot feeling...

What a beautiful morn I had!

[unfortunately... snow stopped.. and melted... boohooooooo!!... my Twente is no longer white... only wet and slippery.. ugh]

Monday, January 26, 2004

Let it snow... let it snow.....

This winter there has been no real snowy day in Enschede... Dutch friends said: Just wait.. must be someday in February...
So, I have been waiting... and looking at weather forecast.
Here what Yahoo forecast says:

Tomorrow: Scattered flurries and snow showers. High near 35F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 30%.
Tomorrow night: Mostly cloudy with snow flurries and snow showers possible. Low 26F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of snow 60%. About one inch of snow expected.
Wednesday: Snow showers and a steadier snow developing late in the day. High 33F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of snow 70%. 1 to 3 inches of snow expected.
Thursday: Snow showers. Highs in the mid 30s and lows in the mid 20s.
Friday: Snow showers. Highs in the mid 30s and lows in the upper 20s.


So, it seems there will be a chance of having real snowy days.... cannot wait for them...

Sunday, January 25, 2004

The Political Compass

Do you ever wonder where you stand politically? Mostly I figured myself to be kind of a bit leftish... but not so much. But after taking a test in a cool political analysis tool, now I know where I stand (perhaps it's 'almost' correct). A tool that is called as The Political Compass is really cool & easy-to-use. What you have to do is just answering 6 series of questions covering variety of attitudes, values and opinions towards political issues. At the end you get a test result which is a pair of numerical scores ranging from -10 to 10 that cover two spectrums: economic left/right and libertarian/authoritarian.

So, what did my test say? Here is the result. See ... I come in as a red spot in far-left-down quadran. This means I'm pretty much a lefty (hey, I never thought I was). According to the analysis section of the Political Compass, this result puts me closest to Nelson Mandela and Gandhi - in political sense. Wow!! Well, perhaps I could get along so well with them (I don't mind Gandhi at all!)....:-)

Anyway, it's fun to do this.. Wanna try? Just click this: Political Compass

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Love... love changes everything

Love, love changes everything: days are longer, words mean more.
Love, love changes everything: pain is deeper than before.
Love will turn your world around, and that world will last forever.
Yes, love, love changes everything, brings you glory, brings you shame.
Nothing in the world will ever be the same.


Friday, January 23, 2004

A tale of two girls

Our world is so rich... yet is so poor for some...
Click here for a sad fact about our world: http://www.who.int/features/2003/11/en#

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Painting with Jan Brinkman

Here is first abstract painting in my life as well as my first experiment with tempera..... ***

Homepage of Jan Brinkman, click here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

A forgotten country....

Somewhere in the world... there is a country of 11.5 million where more than half of population are children. The average life expectancy there is just 37. About 1.5 million of population are infected by HIV, half a million have died from AIDS, and there are a million of AIDS orphans.

This is not an imaginary country. This is not a place in gloomy-themed science-fiction. This country is Malawi, one country in Southern Africa. And my statistics are not from a decade ago, they are today's numbers.. It's Malawi today.

I knew there was a country named Malawi, but never heard, read, nor watched anything about this country. I never tried to learn about it until three months ago when I met someone from Malawi, a very nice and warm Malawian who speaks in American-British English. Joe Kalilangwe, that is his name. Knowing Joe and even sharing an office room with for about three months does mean a lot to me. Not only learning about Malawi and Southern Africa, from the story about Malawi I have learned something beyond the story itself. With his passionate way of telling stories, Joe told me much about how it is to live in that country. I really learned a lot from him, at the same time I started to try to learn more about Malawi, mainly from the Internet.

One day, Joe forwarded me a URL about famine in Malawi, where I read the story that very severe food shortages threatening the populations of Southern Africa, but the most acute crisis was in Malawi. The situation was really bad that people had to dig for mice to feed their families. Just simply no more food to eat. No crop in the field. Just nothing. Thousands kids died of famine. Adults died of AIDS. Some babies were born with HIV.

It really strucked me. Made me... ah, cannot say... so speechless. Too sad. It was 1.5 months ago and we never really talked about this issue deeply. It was just too sad. Joe left Enschede 2 weeks ago, but he didn't take the word 'Malawi' with him. The word 'Malawi' remains in my mind..

Today as I learned about the world statistic of life expectancy, I was shocked to find out that Malawi's life expectancy is the shortest in the world... 37 years old?.. ah.. and even later I found out that in December 2003, the life expectancy there dropped to 35 only.

My friend Anne-Marie who visited Malawi last year told me that she found some places in Malawi where there is no shop nor kiosk. Just nobody sells anything. The only shops she could find are furniture shops. Yet the only furniture they make is nothing but coffins. She also said that most of teenagers (16-17 years old) have already lost their hope.. they don't have no goals nor dreams in their lives... they just simply hope to not die too soon.

Imagine half of million innocent little creatures just wait for their time to die.... Imagine a place where people just go to funeral today, bury the neighbor tomorrow, and lose their relatives the next day.

Why such place exists in this world? Why we cannot help? I believe we can.... In today's world, such situation like in Malawi shouldn't exist.... We shouldn't ignore it... I believe we should do something... I believe we should care...

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Detik_Slemania: Freedom fighter or Law Breaker?

this article is published in Southeast Asia Media

Even in the cyberspace the old maxim, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" is still alive and well. What is terrorist? what is freedom fighter? and what is Law Breaker? what is hero? The ambiguity in the definition brings indistinctness in action. Today's terrorist can be tomorrow's hero. In cyber-community, an email bomb may be considered hactivism by some and cyber-terrorism by others. One's cyber-fraud doer may be considered others' global hero - like the case of DVD-Jon, (Jon Lech Johansen) a hacker who wrote and distributed a free program that unlocked copy-protected DVDs.

Today... or yesterday in Indonesian time, one newly born website Detik @id.or.id was temporarily closed. This 'temporary' (but could be eternal) closure, according to the owner of this website, was due to the 'suggestion' of APJII (The Indonesian Association of Internet Service Providers) and 'Internet community'. Giving Detik.com nightmares, the website that was initiated by Ogi Sigit P and Sayid M, two youngsters from Sleman, Yogyakarta - Indonesia, basically was showing the 'grab' version of the Indonesian most popular news portal, Detik.com. Without changing any materials but cleaning the newspage from all advertisements, Sigit and Sayid's website was indeed a copy of Detik.com. However, without any blinking colorful advertisement boxes, Detik @id.or.id offered a much nicer look. Using grab-technology which is commonly used by syndication-bloggers these days, this Detik_Slemania (let's name it this way!) website was trying to show how convinient it was to be in an advertisement-free domain. With very simple design, clean from any 'accessories' and 'unnecessary elements', the site provided a very nice environment to read news. Also for Net-users in Indonesia, whom mostly access from not-so-high speed Net connections, reading Detik.com from Detik_Slemania was much faster rather than from the original site.

This unusual site brings readers closer to the realization how important to have a moment in 'space'.... without any intrusion from 'corporate economy'. Such 'space' is rare... even in the so called 'free space' like cyberspace. Indeed, our cyberspace now is fully dominated by flashy-poppy advertisements....

The Detik_Slemania could be closed forever tomorrow. It perhaps will become a news website with the shortest life in cyberspace. Detik.com may sue Ogi Sigit P and Sayid M or at least ask them to apologize publicly and some may accuse these youngsters of being irresponsible, criminal, or law-breakers (like some comments in Detik Slemania already pointed out). These two Slemanias had, perhaps inadvertently, created resistance identity which could be seen as being destructive and as a misinterpretation of the freedom of the internet through irresponsible action. Or, their act might be seen just as the action of 'wanna-be-fame'.

Yet, pause could also be given to think about such episodes in terms of how commodity relations occupy the Internet and what kind of identity challenges and limits they generate. Certainly not heroic in any way, such acts are not isolated from domination and perhaps neo-colonization of space by the corporate world and the feelings of being marginalized. It can also be a product of rising expectations, as the Internet glorifies commodities and the identities of personal worth that goes with advertisements for them while keeping them economically out of reach.....

Freedom fighter or law breaker? You can decide......

relevant link: http://tempo.co.id/hg/ekbis/2004/01/07/brk,20040107-50,id.html
[it is not inline with my opinion, though..]

Thursday, January 01, 2004

The World's New Year

it is 01:00 pm in Enschede... afternoon in most of Europe...
it is 07:00 pm in Bandung.... and late evening in some Asian cities...

and the first day of 2004 just started in Hawaii.....and even moreso in Samoa...
yet it ended in Tonga... next to Samoa...

now all parts of the world are in 2004....

there were bombs in Baghdad, Aceh and Srinagar....
there were earthquake and thousands people killed in Bam...

but there are many new laughters and hopes.....
faith will stay... and loves will grow..

Welcome to the year of 2004, world...
Happy New Year for all of you...

Welcome 2004!

detik-detik 2003 telah berakhir..
2004 menyambutku dengan hangat...
tuk masuk ke masa depan yang penuh misteri..
namun didalamnya kutahu..
ada jalan untukku...
yang harus kulalui...
dengan iman, pengharapan, dan kasih..

my last seconds of 2003 were eaten by the night....
the dark sky pulls me to the new line of time...
2004... is open for me...
to think more... work more....
and especially to love more...

enschede, 00:13 am