Thursday, December 31, 2009


31 Desember 2007. Saya ada di Siam Park, rasanya sekali-sekalinya waktu itu tahun baru ada acara di luar. Rasanya baru kembali ke penginapan jam 2 malam. Berkesan bukan karena malam tahun baru. Bukan pula karena ada kembang api, atau karena ada DJ dan lantai dansa. Sayangnya, bukan pula karena ada sajian alkohol free-flow. Tapi karena saya mencoba mengalahkan ketakutan saya akan ketinggian. Giant Drop, Aladin, dan Loop the Loop.

31 Desember 2008. Sampai jam 9 malam saya di alun-alun Klaten bersama teman-teman. Setelah itu? Pulang dan tidur.

31 Desember 2009. Kalau saya bisa mengalahkan rasa malas saya, hari ini saya akan belajar setidaknya 3 bab Fisika matematika I, mencoba menulis kode untuk membuat kontur kerapatan gas, dan mungkin melihat-lihat daerah Shijo.

Tapi bagi saya, mau malam tahun baru, ulang tahun, atau lebaran rasanya semua kok sama saja. Dulu waktu di Bandung, paling tidak waktu ada hari libur saya bisa senang karena ada alasan untuk pulang ke rumah. Sekarang sebenarnya saya bisa saja, tapi kok kesannya tidak bertanggung jawab dan menyabotase diri sendiri.

Kalau di Indonesia ada tambahan "bagi yang merayakan" dalam ucapan selamat hari raya keagamaan, maka sepantasnyalah kita juga mengucapkan, "Selamat Tahun Baru, bagi anda semua yang merayakannya."

Apapun yang akan terjadi malam ini, besok pagi matahari akan terbit jam tujuh pagi. Hari Jumat. Yang nampaknya tak ada bedanya dengan Jumat-Jumat yang lalu. Maupun yang akan datang.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

More Books

I was in Bangkok a few months ago, in a group of 6 boys and 6 girls (10 of 12 shown in the right). The trip was financed by campus, so each of us has some money for some shopping. The girls, as expected, went shopping for accessories, dresses, and bags, and shoes, and suitcases, and.. oh, I lost count. Not that the money was that much, but their superior bargaining skill and experience in Pasar Baru and Gasibu has made a difference. The boys? Some went on buying action figures and gundam aside from the obligatory souvenirs for everyone.

Me? After several times of going out of town I have long given up in finding obligatory souvenirs for acquaintances and/or (extended) family. One simply cannot satisfy them. No-one wears the 12US$ t-shirt I bought in Ukraine*, much less the 400IDR t-shirt. People seems to understand that you're traveling in a budget yet whine incessantly when you give them keychains. With that, I only bought things that interest myself. Which lead us to...

More books.

Unlike Manila, however, I didn't find any cheap second-hand book market. So these are what I bought at Kinokuniya Bangkok:
The last two books are now with me here in Kyoto, but the first three are at home in Klaten. There's also another book I bought at Asia Books which I left at home, I haven't gotten around to read it, and I already forgot its title. I think it's Thai Jinxs, but I can be mistaken. If memory serves, the place isn't bigger than its Singapore counterpart, but it'll has to do. Days before when I was in Singapore I had no time to visit Kinokuniya or Borders or that second hand bookshop Nita showed me the first time I was there.

And there's more about the books. Let's leave that for tomorrow. But don't worry, there will be no talk of dismembering organ.

*to be fair, I did bought the outrageously expensive t-shirts at the airport before leaving the country in vain attempt to spend my remaining hryvnia (UAH). Still, when converted to US$, its tag was at about 12$. Which is not a small amount when you're buying several items.

Minor book obsessions in the past:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


There is an advantage of not knowing Japanese in Japan. When you're in a social, and everyone knows you don't speak Japanese, it forces them to speak in a lingua franca, English. And when they are conversing among themselves in their vernacular, you have lesser obligation to follow in. Which at most times suits me when I'm not feeling very sociable (occurs more often than you think).

The same thing happened when you're in a group of people who don't share the same vernacular with you. They conversed, in my case it was Mandarin, but I was somewhat OK. They were a group of Chinese and Chinese Malaysian.

As is with everything else in this world, when you have advantages, you also have disadvantages. You catch your professor's name in the conversations, but that was all that is. Had I been able to understand, it'd be easier to follow the latest dirt that would otherwise be unknown to me. There's also the core of socials: jokes. It proves particularly disadvantageous if the people in the socials are the people you want to bond with, but you don't feel like exerting Herculean work to be inside the conversation.

Now the wicked part of my brain says that the most advantageous position would be secretly understand the vernacular language, which then would allow you to indulge yourself in the dirts. But that would require a straight faces when the jokes are thrown.

Oh, vernacular means mother tongue, by the way. It really is a fancy word, isn't it?

(Kyoto-the morning after the department's year-end party, which saw me as the only gaijin out of 40-odd people there.)

Thursday, December 17, 2009


If you are like 220 millions of earth citizen who happens to own an iPod*, chances are your music collection size is in order of gigabytes. So how big is your collections, and what lies behind all that?

I personally only has a modest-sized music library, mere 11.90 GB in my iTunes library. I used to hoard a lot more than that until I had to let my old laptop go. But the most wonderful thing about personal music players are their ability to provide soundtracks to your (pathetic, mundane, blessedly wonderful) life, and coupled with the power of human memory, to preserve events in the past to be reminisced in the future.

At this point, whenever any song from Travis' The Boy With No Name got shuffled in my iPod, it feels like 2007 again. It feels like retracing steps in Hotel Jayakarta for AUDC, running in anxiety for Astrophysics II final exam, and dozing off during Mathematical Physics II finals. Meanwhile, Imogen Heap's Goodnight and Go reminds me of the cramped travel ride to Lampung, getting intoxicated with carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide during the ferry ride crossing the Sunda Strait. And how weird is that Fort Minor's Enjoy the Silence always reminds me of the first time I was in Singapore? Of the feel of being able to rely on public transportation to get around, and the post event crushing disappointment. I suspect years from now Jonsi - Boy Lillikoi will bring my memory to the long commute to Kyoto.

Meanwhile, as I was a frequent user of the night train to get back home from Bandung, blasting my ears with music was a sure way to keep me awake and not to miss the stop. This might be the reason why I associate Nada Surf and The Fray and Bell with the thought of going home. Feist and Kings of Convenience were the soundtrack to the happy life of TPB, while Death Cab for Cutie's Plans was on heavy rotation after graduation. The tranquil ferry ride to and from Lombok was Phoenix's 1901 and Silversun Pickup's Panic Switch. I can go on.

And I guess this is why karaoke is so popular (no, I am not saying this is necessarily a good thing).

The fact being hip and up-to-date in the newest musics is fun and all notwithstanding, I daresay that most of the tunes in our music players are--I know mine are--of dubious origin. Let's say I'm your average guy. I have thousands of songs in my iPod. And just how many of it are legal download? All I can remember is that my Brooke Waggoner's Fresh Pair of Eyes is legal. As well as several tracks I got from some music blogs I follow. And of course, my Boy Lillikoi is legal. Which is to say, the number (of the tracks with dubious origin) pales in comparison with the overall number. I did a bit of a counting, and if the tracks are priced at flat 99cents/song, then the amounts that I owe to the music industry, is... staggering.

I can blame the availability of the records. Or rather, I could. I guess my being Japan has better chance in finding the albums I would otherwise unable to find in Indonesia. Or me not having a credit card to purchase songs from iTunes Store.

At least the apps are all legal (and free).

* the use of iPod^ here can be generalized to any Personal Music Players that includes Zune, Creative Zen, Sansa, or even sufficiently sophisticated handphones with gigabytes of memory. Apple's iPhone, Nokia, SE springs to mind.

^ And have you ever pondered how these things were unimaginable just 10 years ago? I guess Arthur Clarke's Law is really true, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


My 1000th tweet. I wasn't even consciously counting, but I liked this one: combines my eternal lust for shiny gadgets plus novel use of human appendages as well as simple experiments, while the motive was season-related. So much for 140 character limit.
And yes, I should be studying, not watching The Big Bang Theory, not watching Castle, not watching How I Met Your Mother, not watching ROFL, not tweeting, not blogging. God help me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Tifatul Sembiring's response on the news reaction to his sermon in Padang: "Saya seperti melakukan 'menyalahkan para korban' jika kesimpulan diambil dari berita-berita tersebut. Padahal tak ada sedikitpun dalam naskah saya bermaksud seperti itu."

From BBC: "A government minister has blamed Indonesia's recent string of natural disasters on people's immorality."

From Jakarta Globe: "[Tifatul Sembiring] saying natural disasters were the result of poor moral values."

So his accusation towards the news channel is mistargeted, as I don't recall any of these news channel that I read quoting him of blaming the quake victims (the commentary from people in twitter is another matter*). He 'merely' made an unwarranted assumption.

These are from his sermon text: "Sesungguhnya ada korelasi langsung atau tak langsung, ada hubungan yang kuat antara musibah fisik dengan musibah moral atau akhlak manusia." Which to me is like saying there is either a direct or non-direct correlation between severe weather with our dress code. In other words, balderdash. It really doesn't mean anything--or can mean anything.

Further, "Sering terjadi bencana, sebab akhlak manusia yang telah rusak." Now he's asserting something. Any half-decent adjudicator (or any educated individual, really) would demand for elaboration and causal link. He spoke earlier of "gempa di NAD dan Nias ... Dan baru saja berselang gempa di Sumatera Barat, ditanah Minang."

So here are the details: "Tengoklah bagaimana kerusakan moral di negeri ini: Baru-baru ini diungkapkan data, bahwa ada 500 jenis VCD porno buatan Indonesia sendiri yang sudah beredar diperjual belikan. Korupsi meraja lela, Indonesia mendapat ranking no 1 terkorup di Asia, dan no 3 terkorup di dunia.**" And it goes on. But that's all. no appeal to logic or anything***. And this is from a minister. In communication, no less.

I mean, really, Sir? Ring of Fire? Fault lines? Ring any bell? What about some solid scientific basis offered by a govt official for a change from the usual scaremongering? (Which is never effective, btw.) Indonesian have been dumbed down by the constant stream of sinetron. If anything, some example from the higher-ups in being rational (and exemplary) would be much appreciated.****

To be fair, this is not unprecedented. A search of "siti supari nuttiness" in Google brought me to this page here. Worthy of quote: "the Indonesian Health Minister is an unconstructive, ignorant, often irrational and bizarre individual." Thankfully, she has been replaced in the new cabinet now. How SBY considers the men (and women) for his cabinet will always be a mystery. And as their boss, he seems to be OK to let this people make Indonesia a laughingstock. No wonder we had #cuih hashtag in Twitter (I didn't vote in presidential election, but I voted his party on legislative election. This blog here was one of my reasons.).

I personally agrees with Rorschach of Watchmen who said that, "It rains on the just and unjust alike."

* commentary of which I tend to agree. Using linear reasoning based on his assertion that moral decadence causes disaster, or in reverse: disaster will strike those with corrupted moral. Because disaster struck Padang and Nias and Bengkulu, people afflicted with disaster must have been morally corrupt. So if the minister blames moral decadence as the root of disaster, he may as well said that the victims of the quake are to blame for the quake.
** a factual error. Or rather, overusing obsolete facts. Most recent one, spotted in Time, can be found here. I tip my proverbial hat to Karmen. At any rate, corruption does not, and I suspect, will not be the cause of natural disaster. If anything, what it does is escalating the impact of the disaster when it strikes. Man-made disaster is of another matter (still remember Lusi? The govt has all but neglected them).
*** though I can't help but wonder, he knows the number of local porn production but wasn't aware of Blogger's Report Abuse button? Instead he chose to order ISPs to censor access to a certain blog. I read an excellent blog post about that in my RSS reader but now I can't find it. Tsk.
**** Recent confusion caused by MUI on 2012 movie doesn't help. A good read on this issue can be found in here.