Daggers keep dropping hints that I should give a Southeast Asian expat perspective on what’s happening in Egypt. By dropping hints, I mean that they keep emailing me and telling me to write a Southeast Asian expat perspective on what’s happening in Egypt. I’ll think about that some more and get back to you.
ArtAppraiser asked for my thoughts on a New York Times article about the relationships Indonesia is forging with the United States and China. I have to admit I haven't been paying that much attention to politics and economics over here. There isn't much in-depth analysis in the English-language press and my friends are mostly fellow teachers, so we talk more about grammar and culture than geopolitical manuevering. But, for what's it's worth, I do have some thoughts.
You'd think for the kind of money President Obama is spending on travel in Right-Wing Fantasy Land, there would be at least one public event during his time in Indonesia. I mean, it's not like there are occasional attacks of terrorism in a city that is beyond impossible to secure.
Except it is exactly like that. Oh, well. I know somebody who knows somebody who is invited to dinner with the President this evening. Him and a few hundred other more important expats. Not that I'm bitter. But for $200 million a day, you'd think anybody holding a U.S. passport would be invited.
I didn’t have internet service at my house this week. There was nothing wrong with the service. I paid the bill and magical signals were coming through the cables hanging high up above the street. I say magical because I don’t understand the ins and outs of how I can sit down on my couch in Jakarta and communicate with people all over the world through invisible electrical impulses. What’s more, I don’t really care how it works, just that it does. And when it fails, I get the tiniest bit cranky.
Lebaran is this weekend which means I have successfully completed my first Ramadan in a Muslim country. I wasn't affected much. My area of the city has almost as many Christians as Muslims, so the restaurants were still crowded at lunch time. I was more careful about eating, and drinking alcohol, outside during daylight hours and I didn't eat in front of my Muslim co-workers prior to sundown, but other than that, life went on normally.
Bukit Lawang is a village in North Sumatra, on the edge of the jungle. The Bohorok River plays a central role in village life, providing a place to wash bodies and clothes, to cool down during sweltering days, and to have a little fun, running smallish rapids on tubes and in rafts. The village exists almost entirely due to tourism.
There is a report in the Jakarta Post this morning announcing that the city will begin construction on a sewage system next year. The first phase of the project will take almost 10 years and only serve about 10 percent of the city, but it's a start. In 20 years, a projected expansion plan will reach a quarter of the population.
On my way to Jakarta, I had a nine hour layover in Seoul, Korea. As I was planning my trip, I considered spending that time sight-seeing or finding a restaurant with some excellent bi bim bop. But then I realized I would be tired and grimy, so then I decided to try to find out if there was any place at the Seoul airport where I could take a shower. I was explaining this idea to a friend who frequently travels to India and she made a suggestion that changed my entire trip. She said, “Why don’t you look for a day-rate hotel?” Whichever hotel maven thought up this idea was a genius.
80 inmates still at Gitmo, most charged with nothing since placement there over a decade ago - many scheduled for release 7 years ago, but never released; others essentially sentenced to life without trial or release. Is Col. Jessup still defending American Way up on that wall?
We probably can't stand the truth. How many of us realized that in defending Saudi Arabia - right, that Saudi Arabia - we were capturing many of Gitmo's residents from Yemen? Not quite the Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan triad we might expect. When Trump says he'd do more than waterboarding, the awful fact is we've tortured much worse. Which candidate is likely to actually provide release?
Unemployment? Yes, 2 or 3 percent of the working-age population has dropped out of the labor force, but the headline unemployment rate is 5 percent. Wages? They've been stagnant since the turn of the century, but the average family still makes close to $70,000, more than nearly any other country in the world. Health care? Our system is a mess, but 90 percent of the country has insurance coverage. Dissatisfaction with the system? According to Gallup, even among those with incomes under $30,000, only 27 percent are dissatisfied with their personal lives. Like it or not, you don't build a revolution on top of an economy like this. Period.