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bricolage \bree-koh-LAHZH; brih-\, noun: -a dump site for anything at hand, in mind-

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

gone in twenty years

Jeffrey Sachs
My boss, the dutch guy, who happens to be on a holiday in a far away land dropped this article of Sachs' (see below) into my inbox.

Click here to know more about Jeffrey Sachs. He is visually on the left of this text. Yeah, that's his photo.

Wikipedia wrote that, according to Sachs, with the right policies, mass destitution - like the 1.1 billion extremely poor living on less than $1 a day - can be eliminated within 20 years.(1)

I'm kinda skeptical about Sachs' statement. Mostly because I have no clue how it can possibly done. Technically speaking, it all depends on each country's policy and political willingness to make it happen. But again, politics has many sides, faces and interests (this latter one is the magic word *grins*). I don't think any government would ever willingly make a pro-poor policy simply because there are so many intertwining interests in it. Any examples? Well, I can't really explain it here. Why? Well, I have limited English ability (Yes, I am not a native, never been abroad in any English-speaking country myself. Don't you realize that by now? *d'oh*).

I believe Sachs' wishes can only be done if.. there you go again, if Sachs can talk to the UN, would the US back it up? If US government (note: government means the president et. al.) back it up, would the industry back it up?

Anyways, have fun reading this article. I'd better shut up until I get my hands on "The End of Poverty", Sachs' most recent book.

BTW, there are more on Sachs' articles in Project-Syndicate.

===========FORWARDED TEXT==========

New York Times - June 25, 2005

Four Easy Pieces


At a time when Africa could achieve so much success in escaping poverty, America's strategy for helping the continent is in a shambles.

The head of President Bush's Millennium Challenge Corporation recently resigned after failing to get the program moving. Democratically elected African leaders have criticized the lack of action by the United States. Recent Congressional hearings showed that America's efforts to control malaria in Africa have been more about advertising than controlling malaria. And, the president recently rebuffed a call by Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain to announce a worldwide effort to double aid to Africa before the Group of 8 summit meeting next month.

Contrary to a world lining up to back Mr. Blair, and to repeated studies showing that Africa could effectively use a doubling of aid by 2010, Mr. Bush instead announced a small additional amount of emergency food aid. This highlighted the gap between America's mistaken approach of shipping food relief versus helping Africans to grow more food.

And while the Group of 8 nations have agreed to a new debt cancellation deal for Africa, it is only a small step, worth around $1.5 billion a year of the additional $25 billion a year that Africa needs. The Bush administration said the United States would offset its share of the cost (around $150 million a year) by cutting other aid.

The mess is especially shocking because it amounts to a death sentence for more than 6 million Africans a year who die of preventable and treatable causes, including undernourishment, a lack of safe drinking water, malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS. The only bright spot in America's policy on Africa is the president's emergency program to fight AIDS, which is distributing antiretroviral medicine to more than 200,000 Africans, with a target of two million by 2008.

The lessons are clear from that success story and others like it. Foreign aid should be targeted to specific, measurable, achievable and bold goals. Proven technologies such as antiretroviral medicines should be featured. Timetables should be prepared. The United States should help countries that are prepared to help themselves. Americans should be encouraged to understand the roots of the African crisis and its solution. Bipartisan support should be sought.

Here then is how President Bush and Congress could quickly fix the broken strategy on Africa.

First, agree with Tony Blair, and most of the world, to double overall aid to Africa, focusing on four interconnected priorities: growing more food, fighting disease, ensuring that children are in school and building critical infrastructure (including roads, energy services, water and sanitation). In the worldwide package, the contribution from the United States would rise from $3 billion this year to around $15 billion by 2010.

Second, set quantitative targets based on the Millennium Development Goals as agreed to by the United States and all other countries. These goals keep everybody accountable. They can be used to monitor progress and make midcourse corrections.

Third, get the Millennium Challenge Corporation running on a serious level. The program was supposed to have disbursed $10 billion from 2003 to 2005, including $5 billion this year - but it has disbursed almost nothing. It should focus on practical investments in the four priority areas, disbursing at least $8 billion a year by 2010, directed mainly to Africa.

Fourth, explain the truth to the American people about the small level of United States aid to Africa. Of the $3 billion or so in American assistance this year, most pays for emergency food aid and for American salaries. Aid for actual investments, such as fighting malaria and promoting safe drinking water, isn't very much. It translates to perhaps $1 of aid for each African and a $2 contribution per American.

Increased investments could make all the difference. With a private philanthropic contribution to a group of villages in Western Kenya, the Earth Institute at Columbia University has helped farmers use improved seed varieties and replenish their soil nutrients, leading to an approximate tripling of food output in just one growing season. With a scaled response, Africans could enjoy a 21st-century Green Revolution, tripling the continent's food yields and escaping the chronic cycles of hunger, poverty and disease.

Similarly, Africans could fight and control malaria, which claims around 200,000 lives a month. About $3 billion a year would support a mass distribution of medicines and long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets. The United States could contribute $1 billion, amounting to a little more than $3 from each American a year. Former President Jimmy Carter could lead the task, given his record of success in helping Africa control other diseases.

Aid could also help ensure that every poor child in Africa attends school. Increased financing could help end school fees, pay for more classrooms and teachers, buy school meals that contain locally produced foods and invest in water and power so women and children do not continue to spend their lives fetching water and wood for fuel.

Inaction by the United States will claim millions of lives and add to global instability. By joining the new worldwide effort to support Africa, Mr. Bush would honor America's longstanding but unmet commitments, our security interests and our nation's generosity.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and the author of "The End of Poverty."

===========END OF FILE==========

Image courtesy of:

Jeffrey Sachs' article is a courtesy of:
The New York Times, June 25, 2005

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

oom pasikom is wearing colors

"Kompas" is Indonesia's "The Washington Post", "The Globe and Mail", "Die Zeit", "Le Monde", "The Sunday Times". It is the biggest newspaper. Today, June 28, 2005, after 40 years of nine columns in a page and black and white logotype, they did a complete redesign of the whole thing.

Royal blue logotype, seven columns in a page, every news section logo type is printed in two colors: bright red for the first letter and royal blue for the rest. Then they dedicate one full page of explanation about the new design. They even gave a special box on "Kompas Architecture" and something similar on FAQ about the change, including a subject on circulation price. The whole 40 pages looks like "Pantone Color Chart" to me. Even "Oom Pasikom"** is wearing color clothes today *winks*

"Kompas redesigned" has bigger fonts and wider spacing. Does it mean that contents are reduced? Does it mean that news quality is decreasing? Does quality is sacrificed over quantity and looks? Only time can tell..

If you read your paper from front to back, you will get a pretty good idea of what "Kompas" is turning into after 40 years of time. If you read your paper from back to front the way I am, you will also get a pretty good idea of how "Kompas" is changing. Arbain Rambey's photograph titled "When the sun rises" caught your sight on the first page of "Kompas redesigned", followed by Daniel Dhakidae's and Ninok Leksono's articles in "Opini" (opinion, a section within the paper). Jakob Oetama's main article is literally on top of everything. But, is Kompas trying to be humble (or secretive or even better: to save space?) by not mentioning all of their newsroom staff members in the "masthead box" that usually occupies page four?

Yes, it's smaller
Yes, it has more color
Yes, space is wider
Yes, it's a lot cooler *winks*

** for non Indonesian and non "Kompas" readers, "Oom Pasikom" is a cartoon that appears every day in the paper. Usually, it either carefully criticize or launch plain vanilla, harmless comments on Indonesia's current affairs.

Photos courtesy of: Myself.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

bed reading, bed watching

Tis season of restless nights!

-- bed reading --

Hard-boiled Wonderland "Hard-boiled Murakami"
Yeah, hard-boiled Murakami. I'm reading it one section after another. Reading it on and off is like letting toffee candy melting in your mouth. Like dark chocolate liquifying a nano second bitterness in your mouth, but leaving a lasting sweetness.

At first, it feels like reading "Die Unendliche Geschiechte" ("The Never Ending Story", Michael Ende). But when it gets to the part of lip reading, quietness and this whole thing about "Calcutec" and the system and the sandwich.. hoo kay, the poison of murakami started to seep into my blood and send me into his dream-like state. I am combing the streets of "The End of the World" with him.

The center of the story is a guy and the guy is doing dream reading at the moment. I'll come back to you when I figured out what the heck is he up to.

Celestine Prophecy "The Celestine Prophecy"
Voila! This book has been sitting nicely in my book shelf for the past 5 years? 6 years? I asked a friend of mine to get it for me because in 1998 I was living in a place where imported books are rarity. I have no idea why I missed reading this one. I'll come back to you later.

Nayla "Nayla"
Djenar's first novel, third book out, I reckon. Her novels have always had controversial titles such as "Mereka Bilang Saya Monyet!" (They said I'm a Monkey), "Jangan Main-main dengan Kelaminmu" (Don't play around with your genital). "Nayla" is about a growing young woman. The writer didn't specify whether "Nayla" is the actress of the book or the writer herself. Basically, it's about this woman with bitter life compared to the ideal reality of ideal normal people. Sure thing, "normalcy" and "reality" depend on how you see it. My perspective of "normalcy" might be taken differently from yours. Anyways, let's just compare what's in Djenar's head and what's in ordinary people's head. The reality that Djenar described is on the contrary to the ordinary normal state. A woman should not sleep around. Parents should not be separated. A child should not suffer from bad divorce. Et cetera. This is a sick world. Imagine "American Beauty".

The most interesting thing about the book is the way Djenar presented it. She let everybody talks from their first-person perspective. Nayla herself; The woman; The Step mother; Djuli, the woman's lover and so on. Then, she did not put each section of the story in a chronological way or in any known order. It's a bit surrealistic. Then, again in this novel she uses "SMS" (short message service) template. She presented conversation between two or more people the way an SMS message looks like. It's a bit repetitive, Djenar. But if you like it and the public likes it, hey, the market wins, man ;)

Speaking of female writing, I still can't get away from Oka Rusmini. Sure, Ayu Utama should be on top of the list in terms of being a daredavil to break free from monotonous Indonesian language style. The way I see it, Rusmini was able to be simply eloquent and daring and harsh at the same time.

Seribu Kunang-kunang di Manhattan "Seribu Kunang-kunang di Manhattan"
(A thousand fireflies in Manhattan)

Umar Khayyam passed away. But he is still living in Manhattan, staring at thousands of fireflies hovering over the towering sky scrapers. Wow, ey? He did captured the innermost feeling of being a stranger in a strange land. The bare thoughts of ordinary people. Without any yadda yadda. Naive, as it is, straightforward. Indeed. Despite the thick Javanese diplomacy that surrounds the whole thing. He was the best. He is still the best. He will be in the future to come. No wonder people do a lot of research on the book.

Last but not least, anybody who happens to be reading this piece of text, pardon me for trying to contaminate your mind, but "Sri Sumarah", a short story within this special edition volume of "Seribu Kunang-kunang di Manhattan" is a must read. Again, "Sri Sumarah" is a must read! I was so captured in it. There must be dozens of millions of other "Sri Sumarah" out there during the 1965 coup.

-- bed watching --

Serendipity "Serendipity"
I have heard about the word. The movie. The romanticism. I felt like watching light, pop corn movie last night. And this one was my choice. Fate, eh? Believe in fate? Believe in love? Heck man, take in whatever you can take, whatever you have on your plate. The movie was okay, but there was nothing more to it.. It's a bed watching thingy. Something you watch to ease your sleep. I didn't regret it, though. That was just what I needed.

Intolerable Cruelty "Intolerable Cruelty"
Clooney and Zeta Jones sounds perfect. It's lacking one crucial thing: it was not even a mediocre script! Highlights were not given to necessary and essential things, such as the drama between the so-called "man who has everything" (Clooney) and "woman who wanted everything" (Zeta Jones). Despite his reputation as being "one of the sexiest man alive", Clooney is missing two spoons of everything. He let himself to be left unexplored by the script and the director and to be stuffed into the Massey's character. But anyways, I'm pretty much intrigued by this whole "impenetrable prenuptual agreement" thingy..

Lord of the Ring: The Two Towers "LOTR: The Two Towers"
WOW! Amazing, huh? Got no more comments on this one. I watched this movie in the wee hours. Half an hour after my morning praying. Later on, I discussed this movie to a friend of mine. Sure, I'm so two years ago. What the heck! Something came up in the discussion. That everything in LOTR (Lord of the Ring) has been done through animation. By the power of "Server Farm". I'm kinda curious with this "server farm" thingy.. Wouldn't you?


Images are courtesy of:

Hard-boiled Wonderland:

"Seribu Kunang-kunang di Manhattan"

"The Celestine Prophecy"
http://www.uk.bol.com/images/ titles/133431_140.jpg



"Intolerable Cruelty"

"Lord of the Ring: The Two Towers"


Monday, June 06, 2005

umberto the funny one at poncowinatan

Sisi Mewek (Crying Sisi. Sisi is a girl's name in Indonesian). It's actually a guy. A real heterosexual man who goes by the handle of xixviiimcmlxxv at yahoo! messenger. I call him "Sisi Mewek" only because properly pronouncing his name twisted my tongue.

This guy is a pack of fun. Graphic design, literature and girls are his domain. Our first communication was through a chatting window in a very popular chatting software back in mid 90s called "mIRC". Our first in real life (IRL) meeting was on an empty desk in some godforsaken cybercafe tucked deep into the jungle of Gajah Mada University in Central Java. He was sleeping on the desk and I was observing the desk. That was 1998. Now is 2005.

From time to time, whenever we have the chance, we will hail each other and strike up conversations. Subjects may differ. Mostly books, what's hype and what's not in town, graphic design, web design, et cetera. In fact, I learned the logic and principle of web design from this toothpick-thin guy. Well, a part from that, his girls will be everywhere in the conversation.

Talking to Sisi Mewek is like watching American Sitcom. It's "Sex and the City", "Friends", "3rd Rock from the Sun", "The Nanny", "Alf" and "The Jeffersons" all rolled into one. He's hillarious.

This time, he hailed me at my yahoo! messenger. He wanted me to tell him a story. "Anything. Give me any story." And I said no, as I was editing an article for the company web site. He went back up afterhour. "Tell me a story. Anything. Kancil nyolong PDA*?" (A mouse deer who steals a Personal Digital Assistant). Then he rambled about "Blonde Redhead" and "Portishead" and "Interpol". Bands. Music. He cursed me for listening to "Rammstein". Oh well, I guess I'm that old.

I told him I'm going "haruking" now. Taking up Haruki Murakami. Something absurd. Above reality. Weird. Mesmerizing. Like chewing the finest chocolate one bit to another.

"Seems like Eco." I've heard of Umberto Eco, but never read his work. Sisi Mewek said Eco is interesting. A bit hyperrealistic as well. "I've read his work. 'How to travel with smoked salmon' that is." He continued. I asked him whether Eco is a man of 21st century since I'm so not into classic men such as Shakespeare. I have a hard time imagining anything before the era of the Internet. "Hm, there might be two Ecos. But Umberto is the funny one." He said he read it at a friend's house. Well, his best best friend actually. This well-read gay guy at Poncowinatan Street, a residential area in downtown Yogyakarta, the cultural city of Central Java.

"Whose book that you read?" As far as I'm concerned, this guy can't afford a book and will never buy one if it's available for free on the net. Well, there are those free E-book these days.

"I don't know. It was just lying around so I grabbed and have fun with it." Then he added, "Hm, I think it belongs to Alia. Alia Swastika. Ever heard that name?" Pretty strange name.

"What's her relations to Hitler?" Sisi Mewek laughed out loud.

Alia Swastika is the editor of "Kunci Cultural Studies". Then he went on about this Alia girl is the friend of Nuning, again a girl's name. Nuning Juliastuti.

"Who? Your significant other?" He denied that verdict.

"Antariksa and her are the founders of Kunci."

I went into gossiping mode, "They were couple, weren't they?"


"Oh well, college memory. Tastes good. Feels good. When you're about to swallow it, it's so poisoning.."** Then both of us switched into gossiping mode. I was wondering what happened to the Antariksa guy. Antariksa actually means "Outer Space". "Where did he go? He was finally aware of his fate and leave Princessa Nuning on Earth?"

"Of course not. They are still at "Kunci"." Literally, "kunci" means "key" or "lock".

So I asked him, "Who locked them up?"

"The janitor?" He went on about them getting scholarship out of the country. "At Poncowinatan." He was referring to his gay best friend's place.

"Nuning wasted her knowledge there?"

"A lot of people stopped by over there. Hey, 'meet me at the ponc' is the buzz word in Yogya these days." He said proudly.

"Ponc?" My eyes wide opened. "It doesn't sound right. Not 'slurut' enough."


"Well, slurut is this feeling you get when you're letting your tongue swim into your significant other's throat."


And we found a new word between us. And had a good laughs again. That's Sisi Mewek. His name is actually Dewa Widyakumara. Well, I got rid of this two middle names.

*"Kancil nyolong PDA" is in Javanese, a widely spoken language of Java ethnics in Indonesia. Kancil means "mouse deer" in English. In Indonesian children folklore, mouse deer is often portrayed as thief. The most famous story is about a mouse deer who steals cucumber harvest of a farmer.

**The Indonesian version of this sentence is: "Enak dikecap. Enak dikunyah. Pas mau ditelan.. lho kok ngeracunin?"