Saturday, December 20, 2008

My Christmas Gift


Thank you for your faithfulness. It has been a sweet ten years of journey. Thank you for revealing your incomprehensible grace slowly in my life and as the year grows, help me not to take it for granted. Renew and re-amaze me every morning. 

Thank you for such a unique family that you've entrusted me to. Thank you for their outpouring care and guidance and may I have the opportunity to take over the roles and love them as much as they love me. 

Thank you for the heroes and villains, for both good and bad friends that have crisscrossed my days . Help me to love them unconditionally.

Thank you for not loosening your grip once I start to lean on my own strength. Thank you for unveiling my meekness and guiding me quarter to quarter in my academic path. 

Thank you for pressing my ego harder everytime my stubbornness kicks in. Thank you for the moments of silence where subtlety can be so loud and distinct. 

Thank you for the dissimilarities that colour my daily life. Thank you for all the blacks who keep on clashing with the white within me. Thank you for exposing that black and white demand each other to create the better gray. 

Thank you for entrusting the responsibility and gently assuaging my apprehension. Thank you for letting me to see the rainbow after every storm and for encouraging me to embrace the responsibility and to actually take an action.

Last, thank you for 2008. Tomorrow is still cloudy, but I believe, just as I have witnessed your brush painting my life this year, you will paint the same beautiful picture next year. With that, I can rest assured. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Christmas Note

Christmas is imminent. For me, this is the best time of the year; a joyous and lovely moment, full of meticulous and festive decoration on every corner. I truly enjoy watching the colorful and soothing Christmas light, giving colour to the dark around them. My heart sings blithely following the harmonious Christmas Carol. Not to forget, the feeling of peace and tranquility that the falling snow evokes. 

But there is more to Christmas. It is the time to listen to the sound of your heart and your Creator; It is the time to filter all noise and sit still in a reflective state. Like a little kid asking whether he's been good this year, I throw the same question: have I been good this year? 

Like the three wise men
Bringing the gift wide open
Let me not merely celebrate this moment
With presents, carol or temporary ornament

Lord, remind me of your sacrifice
Paid with such a price
For that little child sleeping in the manger
What do I wanna give this year? 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm Thirsty

It's still fresh and warm in my mind what my primary school teacher once said, "water is inexhaustible resources, look at the vast ocean, we will never run out of water". NOTTT. Sorry to add another problem to your already problematic life, but oil is an old dilemma and the hot seat is now reserved for water shortage problem.

It may seem unlikely to imagine our blue and watery planet, whose almost three-quarters of its surface is covered by water, is facing water shortage. Well, this is possible because big portion of it is salt water, and that leaves us with only 1% of potable water.

And even with the sparse 1%, we are acting as if we can have it forever for free (there's an ongoing debate about putting a price on water; in Las Vegas, people can only sprinkle their garden during certain amount of time). And when the world's population grow to 9 billion by 2050 from 6.7 billion today and consume (read: waste) as much as we are, the world will literally collapse. Worse, this fact holds true not only for water, but also for all environmental components - energy, forest, food, you name it.

It is true that technology and massive projects (like the "Big Straw" project and the "Three Gorges Dam" in China) are favorable, but they are too costly and experts still believe water conservation is the most effective action.

So What? Why is this problem important?
Again, this calls for great attention because we, most of the time, turn a blind eye to this issue. We are wasting clean water and do not feel the slightest regret about our consumption while our brothers in India are waking up restlessly each morning, in fear whether the tap is going to run. For those who are from Indonesia, I believe we are familiar with the images of street children dancing and mother 'laundrying' on a water fountain. Or those drivers who instinctively clean their rickshaw or bajaj simply at the occurrence of flood. And we still dare to say that this is not desperate?

I'm not arguing for us to cut that 30 minutes shower and start to collect rain water for your garden, I'm just simply bringing this dire need to your attention. Let's take a bird's eye view : some of us may not live long enough to see the ramifications of this problem, but our next generation will have to live through it - if actions are not taken. I believe it won't hurt us to let this idea sinks in and, in our own capacity, take some visible and simple actions. Maybe as simple as not letting the tap running unnecessarily. Or for some of us, maybe spending less time in shower actually spares you more beneficial times.

So, living as a human in this inter-related world, we should realize that the world is not for us to exploit. As much as we want to have clean running water every time we open the tap, I believe, at the very least, our children deserve to get the same quality of water to refresh their face after a long day at work cleaning all other problems that our generation has inherited to them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Singing Analytically: Love VS Justice (Part 2)

(to see the first part of this entry, click part 1)

I know that everything sound hypothetical without valid supports so let me build my case. Does the tragedy in Eden come to mind? A would-be Cinderella story had they obey God's command to stay away from the tree. Or the Israelite's unnecessary 40 years journey rounding the dessert had they obey God's command to be faithful? There are myriad of examples from both the Old and New Testament that strongly prove my point, nonetheless, I will deliver my final blow with these verses from the book of Haggai.

  • The process of rebuilding the House of the Lord was abandoned by the people
  • Instead, they were too preoccupied in accumulating wealth and building their own house.
  • Consequences: God blew their wealth away, their hard labor and toil were fruitless. 
"Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it." - Haggai 1:5-6
  • Why? Because they disobeyed God's command to rebuild His House.
"What you brought home, I blew away. Why? Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house." - Haggai 1:9

  • Once they realized their misdeeds and started to rebuild the House of the Lord, their future is, once again, reassured.
"From this day on I will bless you." - Haggai 2:19
  • Simple interpretation can be deduced: There is a strong correlation between (1) obedience and reward and (2) disobedience and punishment

I'm not saying that we can earn God's love by obeying him. No, and I reiterate, God loved us first regardless of our deeds. But, there is another spectrum to God's nature: justice. When humans have gone wayward, God's love translate into a mean to bring us back. And most of the time, it involves pain.

That said, let's interpret the song in that light. Although it is true that God cannot repudiate his loving nature even when we "ignore the hand that fed me (us), or if "we forget to confess", that fact should not lead us to think that we can continue to indulge in our sinful nature. Beware that sins and God's discipline go in tandem and although God's reservoir for forgiveness is boundless, so does His punishments. 

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Singing Analytically: Love VS Justice (Part 1)

In this post-modernization world, theological doctrine can be easily skewed towards one direction and tailored towards one's specific need. It is very tempting to pull out a statement from The Bible and torture it with free-interpretation. This symptom can be prevalently found in music and it's lyric. Why? I'll spare you that question since I'm more interested in encouraging all of us to put on, not just our barely two-octave voice, but also a critical mind while singing. Thus, there you have the title: Singing Analytically. 

Before I start, let me remind you that this blog is an open space for opinions, both mine and yours. Opposing views, criticisms, and laudations are encouraged. So, let's lift our voice and share our opinion!

So, my first pick for the Singing Analytically series is "What If" by Jadon Lavik (click here for the lyric). The essence of this song is God's unconditional love - no matter how good or how bad we are, his love remains unchanged. There is no correlation between God's love and humans deeds. True? Absolutely! However, I would argue that this is an incomplete picture of God's nature - the loving God who died on the cross is the same God who will come & judge the earth. To eliminate either side of His nature is to give a misleading truth; both natures - love and justice - are inseparable. And with the song's lopsided emphasis on God's love, serious misunderstanding and careless interpretation of a loving God who is incapable of disciplining his children can be easily drawn. 

First, God's Love.
One inarguable truth: His love goes beyond our comprehension. This is unconditional love, meaning God loves us regardless of our iniquities, he loves us just the way we are and there is nothing, good or bad, that we can do to earn His love. The unconditional love precede our existence and thus, our current deeds have absolutely zero effect or impact on the love that was and is showered upon us. Good news? Definitely. But, that is only part of the story. 

Second, God's Justice
Simple way to illustrate this point is to imagine God as your parent; Yes, imagine your mom and dad. There's no doubt that they love you genuinely, but, it does not mean that they let you off the hook when you disobey and misbehave (remember all those stupid pranks we've committed in elementary school.). In brief, good and loving parents discipline their children, with their weapon of choice: timeouts, spanking, slapping, etc. 

Discipline can take many forms in God's vocabulary and I believe that reward-punishment is God's favorite method. This means whenever you obey and uphold his commands, you'll get a pat on your back. Enjoy the carrot. Fail to do that, you'll receive all sorts of negative consequences, ranging from a friendly slap on your wrist to a vigorous belt's strike. Fair enough?

(to continue reading, click part 2)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama's Promises, that We Believe In

Seriously, you wouldn't think that I would miss the privelege to write an entry about this historical political moment right? Although I'm in the middle of burying my head in this mountainous papers for tomorrow's 620 midterm, I cannot help not to define this defining moment. Thus, sit back and relax, this entry won't be long.

First, and I would not be redundant in proclaiming a message that everybody already know, Barack Obama is America's 44th president. So what? These are the things that you should expect to happen in his presidency.

Economy: middle class will taste more tax relief and big business will stare at disbelief when their taxes are raised significantly. Personal opinion: The economy is in dire need of attention and this is definitely the first thing that Obama will do on his first day. Why? Because everything greatly hinge on the economy and without appropriate budget, no matter how great your policy is, nothing can be carried out. Is it going to fly? Still a question mark for me. 

Energy: invest heavily in green renewable energy. His main focus is to end the U.S.'s dependency on foreign oil. Cap & Trade system is enforced; say Hi to the blue sky.

Health care: employers will have to cover their's employee health care. Obama's plan is to free Americans from high medical cost set by either government or insurance companies. It's all about expanding coverage. What I like from his health-care plan: Universal health care for children. It's about time.

Well, those are three issues that I hold most dearly. I am an Indonesian, correct, but this election is not merely about being Indonesian or Americans. It is about people and any effort by any country to make this world a better place deserves an attention. I always believe that developing societies like Indonesia is always one step behind developed societies; at least the changes that we hope will take place in America will serve as great lessons for Indonesia's government to value its people and to realize that changes are also on the horizon for Indonesia.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Branding Your Life

Every marketing students know that identifying your brand's core values is critical in the competition. Before you even start with the marketing strategy planning, you need to evaluate whether those strategies are nicely aligned with your brand identity or values. Fail to do that, your message would easily miss the bullseye and the customers would not be able to identify themselves with the brand.

Can you imagine McDonalds uses Tyra Banks as endorser? Tyra Banks, eating those 400 calories burgers and standing side-by-side with Ronald McDonalds?? Hei, what are you trying to communicate to all the children out there? Are you now a modelling agency which, uhm, serves burger? This 'go-off-on-a-tangent' symptom is what marketers called "off-brand"

The same concept holds true for human. It is important for us to be "on-brand"; to persistently dig in to our core values and identity, and aligned our day-to-day activities and interests around those values. To use a simpler term: don't try to be someone you're not. Why? because you're better.  

Too often what happen is, we cherry-pick activities that we consider "in". We blindly imitate and follow the vogue, without evaluating whether these fit with our values and goals. We look up to this funky buff up guy and think if we're as outgoing or as lean as him, we would be better. We naively think that if we could afford eating a sumptuous meal, we would be better. When in fact, we are not - we are conforming to others - and sometimes inauthentic - identity. 

Consequences are, first, our friends fail to relate to us. We are, suddenly, sending this inconsistent message about ourselves and they will wonder "Who is this guy, it is as if I don't know him?" Second, in a fight between temporary hype and true nature, the latter will prevail eventually. How long can we stand being someone we're not? The faking will eat us slowly and one day, we're going down with all our guards and pretense. 

So, just like McDonalds who knows their values and personality, you may also want to cherish them and make them your treasured assets. It is in you, your hallmark, and we love you for that. Just like we don't want to see Tyra's smile the next time we order Happy Meal #1

My friend, this entry is for you. I understand what you're going through, but please, hang on there. I pray that God will show His way and that you will involve God in every decision that you are trying to make. Again, we love you and we'll always ready to extent our hands everytime you need one. 

Monday, October 6, 2008

No, I'm not kidding, It's Slank!

If there is one good news in the midst of all the heart-breaking chaotic headlines, it is the unprecedented Slank concert, here in Columbus. Wuooh, I can already sense some hysterical outcries amongst you; Are you serious? Really, Slank?

Yes, and I reiterate, yes!! Slank is coming to town and Permias Columbus has the honor to host the event. In the effort of promoting their first world-wide English-language album "Anthem for the Broken Hearted", they have agreed to share their music with all Slankers in Columbus, the small off-the-radar town but richly populated with Indonesians.

What so unique about Slank, beside their outstanding reputation and best-selling album in home front, is their message of Peace Love Unity and Respect. On the top of my mind, I can only come up with a handful of bands who are courageous enough to make universal peace and unity as their theme/selling points. And Slank is one of the few.

So guys, let's cut the boring appetizer and go straight to the meat. For all Slankers in Columbus, here you go: Indigo featuring Slank

                         click here to purchase the ticket. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Economic 101 for Dummies

I know the word 'dummies' may raise your eyebrow but let me clarify that I am one of those dummies, or should I say, I am one of those who do not understand what is happening to the economy at this particular point in time. And also let me clarify that if you scratch your head trying to unravel the mysterious thread of the economy, you're not alone. And I really understand the frustration of trying to understand and read articles from Times or even The Economists which full of lingo and in the end, still leaving us clueless. Because of this, I took great effort to fathom this mayhem and initiated to write an entry explaining the crisis in laymen terms. So, for the clueless, enjoy it, but bear with me guys, I am not an expert but I hope this rudimentary explanation would, at the very least, give you the 'Aha'

First, let start with the heart of the problem: sub-prime mortgage. It is a loan that is given to unqualified borrowers, a loan that is not supposed to be given at the first place. When the housing price plummeted, the borrowers were running frantically since their house was not as valuable as before. Overall economy was performing badly as well, hitting the unqualified borrowers' ability to pay their mortgage loan. In consequence, mortgage company suffered from loss.

Second, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were those which were greatly affected by this blow. They were not mortgage companies, but they provided financing for banks who issued mortgage. The initial purpose of these companies was to boost people's confidence in taking loans and buying their own house, giving the impression that borrower's loan were safely backed up by the government,when in fact it was not. National Public Radio (NPR) describes them as a mortgage wholesaler for investment banks.

Again, because of the housing slump and borrower's delinquency, their capital were greatly hurt and the government decided to save them from going down. The reasons: they are the world's largest company in terms of the amount of debt issued. Thus, letting these companies go down will crush the financial economy into pieces. So, there you go, $200billion bailout.

Third, AIG's bailout. The reason why AIG was saved (while Lehman not) is because AIG sells credit-default swaps (CDS). This illustration will hopefully help you to understand. If you buy a bond from company A, you might want to protect your investment by buying CDS from AIG. With this, when company A fails to meet its obligation, AIG guarantees that you will get your money back. Put it simply, CDS is your insurance.

To make sure the system works, AIG has to post collateral and the collateral depends on rating given by rating agencies like Moody's and Standard & Poor's. What happened was the agencies sharply downgraded AIG's rating. This means AIG has to post significant amount of collateral - $250 billion in a night - which obviously AIG did not has.

The government realizes that letting AIG goes down means letting all the CDS holders (who think that their fund is protected) go down as well. The ripple effect is unthinkable; other firms will also fail which will lead to more firm failing which will then lead to a financial catastrophe. All hells break loose. Thus, there you go, $85 billion bailout.

Fourth and last point, if all the venerable investment companies were failing, is there any company big enough to withstand the blow? Apparently not, that is why the government was proposing a $700 billion bailout plan, which btw, was rejected by the House. So, what's the next plan? I don't know but the officials are, I believe, working around the clock to solve this problem.

But for sure, this is a historic moment guys, let's try to turn our attention to the news. I hope I have set some basic foundations to help you guys understand the issue further. For those of you who know better, please please please correct me for any wrong statement. I am indeed still learning about the issue and any comment / suggestion would be highly appreciated and anticipated. Lastly, I should give Cheap (aka Stephanus Saputra) the credit for answering my questions, and also to Time Magazine (The Price of Greed by Serwer and Sloan) and NPR's Talk of the Nation for their excellent coverage on the topic.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

5 days & 4 nights over Fall Break 2008

Some pictures from my recent trip to New York & Boston with Marcel, Johan and William. It was a great trip overall and an eye-opening experience for William personally. haha. New York? Great city with great diversity. Boston? Beautiful historical city with great restaurants. Personal preference? Boston, by farrrr... 

View from Brooklyn Bridge: something missing, if only the trip was not with four guys. hehe

Successfully manage not to smile in this picture. It was Sept 11 2008 when this picture was taken and people were commemorating the tragedy.

The Charging Bull, it does not look so 'bullish' at this critical moment in time.

In the inside of United Nation main meeting hall; dream job? probably.

After struggling through some "disagreements", here we are at MIT.

Boston, I'm in love. Right view with the right person. lol.

Finally, there were girlsss. minus Melissa, the photographer.

Happy Ending (not forgetting the super long walk though): O-H-I-O

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Us Against the World

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
be kind anyway
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true friends;
succeed anyway
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
be honest and frank anyway
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
build anyway
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
be happy anyway
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
do good anyway
Give the world your best anyway
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
it was never between you and them anyway



I cannot put this better than Mother Teressa. It rings really true that people (even those we swear "friendship forever" with) fail us occasionally, job security disappears at a flick (employees at the impregnable Bear Stearns & Lehman Brothers learn it the hard way), and good intention begets skepticism most of the time (just give Al Gore and his opponents a call).

So do we stop there? No, because if everyone simply stops at every stop signs, India would not gain its independence, Apartheid & Segregation would not be abolished, and Salvation would not be given to mankind. 

History told us, through Mohammad Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, and Jesus Christ, that something revolutionary happens not when we try to gain people's acceptance but when we love people more than their opinion, when we hate injustice/sins more than the corrupted individual/society.

Those role-models made it because, no matter how big the resistance or dissent was, they did it anyway. To borrow Harriet Tubman's advise (which Hillary Clinton also used on her speech),"If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If they're shouting after you, keep going. Don't ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going."

Yes. Because, in the end, people's opinion and acceptance are absurd. It was never about them nor about the perfect society, it is less about the temporal and more about the eternal. In the final line, it is just about you and God. 


Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Dahsyat" in Metamorphosis

Have been planning to write an entry about my new house and its transformation so, I have taken before-and-after pictures of the new house to compare how destructive it was and how neatly and meticulously it is arranged now. Plus, to show the world (and to those 'neat-freak' girls out there) that even six guys living together can turn an old and almost dilapidated house to a ... hmmmm.. (I am having a hard time finding the right words here) warm and fuzzy house? 

Brief background story: There are six of us in this house (JoI, Richard, Hendy, Andika, Johan and Me) and for some random stupid reasons, we call ourselves "The Dahsyat". Online dictionary, Kamus Orisinil, defines 'dahsyat' as horrifying or awe-inspiring. Judging from the pictures below, I guess all of us will shout in accord that we are way far from horrifying creatures. So, let's go with the latter definition: Awe Inspiring. Unlike "horrifying", "Awe Inspiring" cannot be judged simply from a photograph. So, even if the definition contains an untrue declaration, no one is going to notice :p

Below are two shots at our living room and my study room. Please pardon the discrepancies in angle or color or picture quality and please turn your focus to the metamorphosis that has taken place. If this is one of those games we play at Dave & Buster, I'm sure you can point out myriad differences in those two pictures. 

Last remark, I hope these pictures overturn the common belief that six guys living together in a house is a nightmare. Well, The Dahsyat has proven that it is untrue, at least so far. (Or.... as long as I am one of the six guys, lol)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Juice and Bruise

For those of you who haven't noticed, there is a new game in town for college students. Imagine this, an online forum where you can make fun, ridicule, mock, or (in a more positive term) voice your opinion anonymously. Yes, total anonymity and 100% guaranteed privacy. Further, to make sure this policy is being served, the forum even provides software that protects web user's IP address from being tracked. It's slogan: Always Anonymous, Always Juicy

Ring a bell? Yes, I'm referring to Juicy Campus. Now, not only college students can rate their professors, they also have the freedom to throw demeaning racial insults or vicious homophobic comments without any fear of being caught, totally oblivious about the negative psychological and social effects that the subject matter will have to carry. 

Imagine if you are the promiscuous, ugliest or 'nasty whore' whose post ranked no 1 in the 'most discussed' section. Imagine if it is your name that is listed on a discussion about the 'most disgusting person in Columbus'. Imagine what your reaction would be when there is a post about you having a Sexually Transmitted Disease. 

Now, it's my turn to voice my opinion freely. This is a major misinterpretation and degradation of The First Amendment: the freedom of speech. I believe what the founding fathers had in mind was not about the freedom to express your hatred to a girl who dumped you, nor it was as trivial as so-and-so has the smallest or the biggest dick. It is about the freedom to voice a sounded grievance and annoyance to the government without fear of being persecuted or imprisoned. It is a practical form of democracy.

Then, when the meaning is diluted, this is exactly what happens: an irreverent generation who does not respect what it took to get them the freedom and a coward generation who hide behind the mask of anonymity. Irreverent because the once national-matter issues are now downgraded to featherweight issues. Coward because it teaches college students that consequences can be avoided or even discounted; the whole idea of responsibility is reduced to insignificant. It also gives the impression that someone's reputation is secondary compared to the rights to speak; The rights is absolute and irrevocable, social harmony and people's feeling can be taken care later. 

I'm not saying that the concept of juicy campus is totally bad since there are quite a number of informative posts, but the fact that libelous comment is the most viewed and discussed post creates the problem. It is defamatory. Also, the main purpose of the forum is not to share information but purely to gossip, "C'mon, give me the juice". And to ensure the juiciest gossip is posted, no moderator exists. This is a heaven for gossipers. It's free, anonymous and uncensored. How better could you get? 

Any comment or opinion? 

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Boy, Hillary Rocked the Convention

Hillary Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) was, I would say, impressive. After her dream of a lifetime was crushed and her bank account was left with mounting debt, standing up before the crowds and endorsing her greatest rival were definitely not on her list of favorite things to do. But, she did it anyway, and she did it magnificently. Her purpose was clear: uniting the almost divided party and reminding all her voters to be 'a single party with a single purpose'. My favorite verbatim "No way, No How, No McCain". 

But, what tickling me is how natural and easy it seems for Hillary to say "(I am) a proud supporter of Barack Obama", when only several months ago, she hurled an insult to Obama, also in verbatim, "Shame on You, Barack Obama". I can also still recall when she accused Obama of plagiarism, mocked him for his lack of experience and his empty message about change.

"Now I can stand up here and say: Let's just get everybody together, let's get unified, the sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing, and everyone will know we should do the right thing, and the world will be perfect." Click here for the video

I think it's the same old game that was being played here: politics. You do what you gotta do to get you in the game - even though you have to spit some sweet talks before your opponent's most hard-core supporters. Standing between two options: betraying your party which will cost you your political career, or swallowing your pride to support your rival which will gain you some momentum, Hillary needs to make a tough call. And, swallowing pride seemed like an easier task for Hillary, her message was powerful, poignant and convincing. 

Maybe what made it less difficult for her was the opportunity to twist her arguments and bring her credentials to the spotlight, and at the same time, to do what she was supposed to do, endorsing Obama (or at least, made it sounded like she really meant it). She did not speak much about Obama's qualifications, experiences or skills. Instead, she talked a lot about herself and the reasons she ran for President and, only after that, she mentioned Obama and encouraged the audience to vote for him because he carried the same vision as hers. As you examine her speech closer, you can see the pattern all over the place.

Well, what can we say? This is an indispensable pill that she needs to take, and I think she deserves credit for swallowing it. Several things for sure. First, she delivered an impressive speech, well, maybe with an ostensible determination. Second, she has successfully dented McCain's campaign, "(we) don’t need four more years of the last eight years". Third, she has definitely united the Democratic party. I bet after she left the podium, the party was fully ignited to pick up their shattered pieces and put them to the right place. And no one can do it better than Hillary Clinton. 

PS: I promise you, the next entry won't be about politics. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

McCain's Sincere Rhetoric

Fiuh, just done with eight youtube videos about Obama-McCain Faith Forum with Rick Warren. Had no intention to eat up the whole thing, but the pertaining questions about faith and value - not just the trivial I-know-it already questions - really hooked me up. And I decide to dedicate one entry for this forum just because it covers faith and sometimes, the response to such question reveals people's true nature.  

On the question about faith, both candidates answered it gracefully and tactfully; mentioning terms like 'died for my sins, saved by faith and forgiven' was a safe and sound answer which definitely brought them to the next round. It was on the couple of questions following that which made the distinctions and I want to bring the spotlight to McCain for a while. 

I personally think that he was much more comfortable with the questions, responding in a direct and straight answers. On the question about abortion and when a baby is entitled for human rights, he assertively said "at the moment of conception" while Obama made a lengthy yet well argued argument on his position as a pro-choice. On another critical issue about marriage, both agreed to the definition of "an union between men and women" but Obama refused to approve a constitutional bill defining the policy and McCain would let the states decide on that. On a question of whether evil exists and what we should do about it, McCain short answer was, to the audience's applause, "defeat it". (click here to see the event's highlight)

I am no expert in politics, but speaking as a teenager who was raised as a Christian and observing from the lens of an amateur, I feel that McCain knew what he was talking about. He knew and picked his stand, responding in a direct, one-sided, either-or answers. On the other hand, Obama was full of nuance. I got this impression that he was standing in the middle of this continuum and trying to appeal to both polars. 

So, who is more religious? I don't think it boils down into that question since most of the issues were not black and white. But, McCain's definitive answers, coupled with powerful stories, had successfully earned my favor. First, it showed who he is; he sticked to his belief and without even the slightest hesitation, shot his answers directly to the point. No compromising, no dilly-dallying and that was the 'Wow' feature over there.

Second, he presented himself on a personal level with the audience by sharing strong emotional stories to which the audience can relate. People always want to know your personal story and McCain had successfully embedded the 'pathos' flavor, built the common ground with the audience, and showed his long record of service and religious involvement. 

I also respect his humbleness in admitting his greatest moral mistake: his first marriage. You know, to run for a president and to admit such personal failure in a public requires some guts and some people might hiss at the idea. That's because we don't want others to see our weaknesses. In a world where strength is worshipped and every individual masters the art of disguise, a simple act of actually admitting your flaw deserves respect. 

To wrap up (finally), and this entry is getting much longer than I expected, I feel McCain had the upper hands on this forum. I don't necessarily have to agree with all his answers, so do Obama's, but leaving the quality of their answers behind and focusing on their style and rhetoric, I would say, this particular time, McCain's core values allow him to take off the political mask which too often veiled presidential candidate's true nature. His gestures and confidence prove my point, and it was crystal clear. (plus Obama might want to work on his fillers, he would have gotten 20 points taken off if this were BUSADM 499 class)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

August 17th

Hei, its Indonesia's Independence Day and I believe this day worth an entry in this fledgling blog; maybe to give a sweet little taste of nationalism. What has brilliantly emblazoned this day is the gold medal by our badminton male double, Markis Kido/Hendra Setiawan. Such a perfect timing and moment, sparkling another reason to be actually proud to be Indonesian. 

I know, there are more things that tarnished Indonesia's reputation but still, in the midst of the crisis, we can always put a positive mindset and seek for some glorious accomplishments, even when those are buried in a rubble. Hei, in every darkest storm, there is a rainbow. So, why can't we put a smiling face and, being an Indonesian in this foreign country, lift our head high and walk with pride. Not because of our nation's achievements or failures, but merely to the fact that we love Indonesia, at good times or bad times. Just because, whether you admit it or not, our worldly home is in Indonesia.

John White in his book "The Cost of Commitment" once said, what defined your earthly citizenship are these two things. "You must be born in a country and spend most of your life there". So, I assume, I born in Indonesia, grew up in Jakarta and spent my first 18 years of life exposed to the cultures and values of "Anak Jakarta". So, what can I say? You can point out hundred reasons against Indonesia but deep inside you, you know that you belong to Indonesia, it runs and is deeply ingrained in you. 

Thus, although I am currently not at home, but when someone asks me when will I go back to Indonesia? I can definitely say, "One day, I will. It's my home and even though I go around the world seeking for a better place to live, still, nothing feels better than your own home."


NB: Maybe I should put some images, this blog looks dry. 

Wish Comes True

Well, it has been an old unrealized dream to create a blog. Actually, I had posted several blog entries at friendster ( and, to add another achievement to my blogging resume, had one of my blog being published in BizResearch corporate website ( Thus, I have done this blogging thing for quiet a time now, on and off (not to forget my easily swing mood). I like writing, believe me, but not that much. C'mon, ranting and babbling are way more fun than writing, and not forgetting the whole grammar and structure thingy which when all added up, I, most of the time, flee just at the thought of it. 

So, what's different now? Skeptics might ask "How long will this last? This must be another temporary hype". Well, I can't promise anything since I am myself still at the state of disbelief and awe at the fact that I am actually writing a blog. But, I will try to put several entries occasionally, maybe at some emotionally exhaustive moments; like when the next time a girl dumps me or when I get a revelation from the most high. My point being is I do like to write, once in a blue moon. But, for the sake of this blog and for all of you who are highly anticipating my entry, I'll stretch myself to write on a regular basis. 

I believe putting your experience into words helps you to express your emotional feeling, being more attached to the world around you. Especially for an emotionless guy like me. I believe everyday has its own colour and you can define your day by a colour, be it black, green or even reddish indigo (if such color exists) and to be able to identify the color that best represents your day, is a skill to be developed. Rule of thumb: for me, red represents anger so you will hardly see that colour come up in this blog. black represents, uhm, dead? Well, maybe not that far. I'll let it open to conjecture then. That's the whole point right?

So, let's colour your day, roll up your sleeves, hold your brush tight and pick your color! Yipiee, I see a lot of enthusiasm right there, and I seeeee ........reddish orange (haha, i know, i'm bad with colours)