Friday, May 16, 2008


For a God who gives the salvation, He surely fails TV ratings

Is a religion a business? If that means a religious conviction, then it so is, at least for our TV stations. Here in Indonesia it is good business as usual.

When someone takes a new religion and he makes it public, then what you see is usually the same: Before, I did not know God; he was a confusing guy but now I do; Before, I did not know the purpose of my life but now I do; Before I had no peace but now I do.

But the real kicker is when TV stations take their step further than they should. Instead of merely reporting, they are entitled to allow degrading opinions on other religions. They know everybody loves this business, one that strengthens one's faith by weakening another's. One example is when a self called actress made a public confession she embraced a new religion and those TVs started self-analyzing why it was logically and naturally understandable for others to do what she did. One TV station dedicates one program to this; with the host and all guests are converts discussing lengthily the new religion’s superiority and the old ones’ mediocrity. Mind you, all these airings are not classified for restricted audience; it is not a Mimbar Agama program usually run once a week. They are there for all to see. For a country that says religions are such a sensitive issue, it simply does not apply here.

Another too similarly annoying scene is when it bombards audience with comments and depictions that this new convert did the right and heroic thing and made those who haven’t followed suit feel guilty about it. The next too common one is reporters asking question like “Your mother said that she was no longer to do with her old faith, don’t you think you should do the same?” or, “Are you not happy knowing that your boyfriend now has God’s truest religion?, so when will you be ready to follow him?” The one being asked just smiles, knowing the answer NO is not an option they want to air.
If some say that one religion is disturbingly a missionary, then this whole thing is obviously a crusade.

Funny, no coverage with proportionally the same passion has ever been made for those converting to the other religions.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Traffic lights are our drive-ins for movies everyone so eager to pass by. From behind the car windshield, what I call movies are scenes of people performing the ignorance and laughable agony invading those people in front them in their cars waiting for the light to turn green.

I love the bitterness, not in terms of I enjoy it but because I know my ignorance has kept all this, by giving them money to repel them when these kids come to me. As cars stop, children barely five years old will come and start singing songs out of tune you would not have wanted to hear or they simply extend their hands asking for your money. And not very far from them, if you ever notice, some adults, acting as their protectors, make sure that they at least accumulate today’s target; Rp 20,000 for one day’s work. If these little beggars fail, they will beat them and make them promise they will perform better. It is only a matter of time before the girl beggars learn to know they can make money faster by being prostitutes and the boys by being thugs or drug dealers.

Another scene is those people selling gimmicks, cigarettes, sweets, sunscreens, ashtrays, anything to survive the day. How could they are so excited to face this life when they know what they always make is roughly around Rp 15,000 a day? I talked to many of them and when I asked them how they made it with school age children and wife depending on them, they said, “I don’t know. I think God gave us different math or something.” And in front them, people in the air conditioned cars are cursing the government for the oil price they could have paid more, grumbling for the twenty million Rupiah short out of the eleven billion profit they made for the contract they won; and whining for the increased exchange rate of US Dollar as this will disrupt their overseas vacations.

Checkered flag is waved. Another traffic light to stop for.

Friday, May 9, 2008


As life did not satisfy to see you suffer for daily survival, it now comes big time with this impending increased price of the oil; one of the things the government can not stop it from being more and pricier. The consequence is clear; prices go up and all you are left wondering how you make it through. But the core of the problem, in my opinion, is that what we have done has paradoxically survived the ever increasing price; we have tried anything but kept or even made it lower. People in the higher income level start buying cars and those in the lower income buying motorcycles as soon as they hear it is hiked, thinking it costs less if they commute by theirs. This buying action on the contrary is pushing, if not keeping, rather than lowering the oil price as the new cars and motorcycles increase the total demand and deplete the oil supply. And as you know it, when the supply side is less than the demand, then the upward adjustment, a.k.a new more expensive price, takes place.

People are encouraged to buy and not to save because the economies, as we believe it, run when people keep consuming. When you buy new clothes, ready to eat food, cars, etc, you keep pumping the production of these items and their production has always involved the use of the electricity. As you know, our PLN generates the electricity by consuming the oil (supplied by Pertamina) and when you buy any of the products, you indirectly ask more of the oil. That is one more reason why you can never see the oil price go lower.

So what to do? First, live simple (for the urban and ultra chic you, this is not a good idea, I suppose). Just buy less and be content with the life you have. Besides, you are too smart not to know that you just cannot quench your thirst for more by possessing more. But when you can Second, use the public transportation (certainly, it is not a very good idea for PT Astra). I know it is not a good idea, knowing all these pickpockets, thugs, and those horrible things you'll find in there. Anything you think helps reduces the consumption of the oil is already half of this battle.

Start now with Bike To Work.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


I grew up without knowing what they call now national plus schools. I did not go there; my parents would not have been able to afford them. But more importantly, such national plus schools did not exist. But with all of them boasting they do better than non-plus ones do, I started my own search to find out if they really were better. And here are some of the facts you need to know.

1. To maintain quality education, they have always selected “only the best”.
I think their statement is very delusional. This is what happens; when the number of prospective students falls below the seat capacity, all of them are surely accepted and the admission test to select “the best” students is nothing but a phony activity. With each junior or senior high student confirmed to contributing more than one hundred million for the next three years, rejecting these money machines is so uneconomic, so irrational, so un-capitalistic. These schools are no non-profit organizations; they are corporations clothed in education.

2. They are better facilitated.
They boast the swimming pools, gyms, and even equestrian activities they have. But face it; they come at the expense of exorbitant fees charged to students. Any school could do that if they charged that amount to students. Those facilities are by no means desired but not deemed necessary for the classroom learning.

3. They guarantee they make better graduates.
For the last statement, I think it is very funny. Just go to UI and other outstanding public universities and ask those college students from which senior highs they come from and what you will most probably hear is "I am from SMA 14, SMA 12, SMA 100, sekolah negeri", with no national plus string attached. You may disagree with me but Indonesian parents send their kids to schools to enhance their kids’ eligibility for public universities, since graduates from public universities are still perceived to make better employees by job markets. And to me, these so called plus schools have not done enough to secure admission to those public universities.

I quit teaching there one week after.

Friday, May 2, 2008


Is there any moment for a pause as an economy opts for Capitalism? Capitalism has kept shareholders restless for ever increased returns in stock returns and dividends, pushing managers continually to sell more and more. As a result creative ways have been formulated to guarantee that you and I keep buying and improving the return on their equity.

Forget nine to five and Monday to Friday; now businesses run around the clock. Not so long ago, Mc Donald’s were open until 9 PM but now you can drop by there at 4 AM as they are now open twenty four hours. Malls have frequently devised so called late night shopping, enticing us to keep spending at hours we are supposed to be sleeping.

They do not stop there and I think they have been undoubtedly responsible for blinding us from wants we do not need. Ten years ago I was content with one but they have successfully persuaded me to own two or three wristwatches because I was made to believe one is not enough (to tell me time). To some greater extent, I keep replacing my cell phone with a new one, not because it is broken but because the new comes with features I do not need and I bought new shirts just because they were on sale. I was told to lighten my skin and I did with this whitening lotion, and as soon as it was lightened, I happily followed the suggestion to tan it. I knew someone who buys all Nokia series with no apparent reason and I shook my head in disbelief to find out that a woman bought two identical cell phone pouches from a boutique store; she only owned one phone and the reason why she bought two was because she loved the LV insignia too much.

And for the pursuit of higher revenue happiness in the financial statement, they have extended targets of their products. Ever noticed commercials displaying barely a junior high school girl who survives friendship thanks to the deodorant and some high school students hanging out riding their first Hondas? The message is clear; they, in the past targeting working adults, are now preying the under-aged. And you are bound to see more of it: hair colors for toddlers, lipsticks for octogenarians, and more.

Next month I will be buying a basketball cap designed specially for babies.