Quotes (That May or May Not Be Tragically Funny)

Sometimes, we think that we really do know what we think we know. Sometimes, the truth is not as simple as we are able to comprehend. We may rationalize, and simplify about all the things happening in the world today. But the truth is not as easy as we can capture in our own logic. Not all things that we know can be explained. For example, like the water’s anomaly, in which water’s volume shrinks as it comes towards 4 Celcius degrees, but afterwards, again increases step by step after passing through the anomaly’s border. We know and conceive that this is the phenomenon, but we exactly haven’t known why it has to be like that.

There are more anomalies in life than that of water the physicists always conceive every time during the experiment, and are much more intricate to comprehend based on our own rational perspective. Someone who died because of laughing too much? Who said that’s impossible? Some of the notable ancient Greeks had experienced with such anomaly. Sometimes, there are things in life that we can’t just simply digest with sciences, or our own knowledge, indeed. Some might be comprehended with humor, and the others in horror. But this is life. Once we face it, we have nothing to deny but to accept it.

Here are some quotes that I myself self-wrote, but the rest were just simply copy-catted from Internet. There are some in which you have to read more than once – due to the complexity level – in order to understand them. Let’s take a look at them:

Note: Some of these quotes are self-written, and the others were just simply copy-catted from Internet. You might need to read some of them more than once in order to comprehend my own intention.

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– Some tyrannies can shift to democracies, and some democracies can shift to tyrannies. –

– As said by Balram Halwai: “The poor always dream of getting fat and looking like the rich. How about the rich? Losing weight and looking like the poor.” –

– This is what I think might be the wisest teacher in the world: the one who sincerely confesses that the subject he/she has mastered in has its own flaws. –

*See Patricia Ryan in TED.com.

– In democratic countries, advertisers always prosper. –

*See all the ballyhoos showing off the faces of the parliament-members-to-be.

– The best (and legal) words to replace ‘casino’ is ‘stock exchange’. –

– When you speculate, you no longer use all the hocus-pocus formula by Nobel-winning economists. –

– A city without smooth roads or hygiene water but rich in skyscrapers and shopping malls, might be much better to thrive in than a city with smooth roads and hygiene water but without skyscrapers and shopping malls. –

*compare Jakarta, or Mumbai, or Manila, with Moscow in the Soviet’s days.

– The problem with education is: most of the schools as I know manufacture much more skeptics than optimists. –

– If you want to be a critically acclaimed author, you had better not attend any motivation seminars, frequently. –

*except if you want to be a motivator.

– Before religions were spread, human beings tended to be barbaric and savage. After religions were spread, human beings even tend to be much more barbaric, but worse, on behalf of their own religion and God. –

– Resource curse seems to rarely happen on resources-scarce countries (but not always). –

– All the fundamental laws you’d ever read in any natural science books might be applicable in social sciences, but unfortunately, all the fundamental laws you’d ever read in any social sciences books might not be applicable in natural sciences. You realize that you can’t bargain something with the entire universe. –

– If all the schools in the world have special training sessions about entrepreneurship, then who is going to work for the entrepreneurs? –

– It is believed that in Ancient Egypt, the slaves incidentally let the dough swelled because they had fallen asleep for too long, but then, starting from this incident, bread became firstly popular among the country, and the benefit everlasted until now, encompassing for more than 5 millenia. So the conclusion might be: be professionally careless. –

– The more hospitals there are, the more often you would be hospitalized in your lifetime. –

– Skyscrapers are often symbolized, indirectly, as the epitome of economic success. The economists had better visit Pyongyang; there are a lot of skyscrapers there, but with rationed, or no, electricity. –

*some of the buildings there even need generators to provide the electricity.

– Scientists had recently concluded that pretty women and handsome men tend to be much more intelligent. So, is Paris Hilton included? –

*this question arises after I read this article. Take a look here:

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3354410/Study-reveals-good-looking-people-are-also-the-cleverest.html

– In applying for a job, you have to be a bit narcissistic. –

– Corruption is an invisible device in which the barbaric tribes of northern China could succeed in annexing the southern counterparts without having to crush the Great Walls. –

*ask the dictators whether they did the similar thing or not.

– Too much motivation can be dangerous for you. Slowly, you will know it yourself. –

– Unfortunately, Nobel Peace Prize can also be awarded to warmongers. –

*that’s what I heard from my father.

– Every Western-related stuff that is considered bad is always conceived as ‘part of Jewish global conspiracy’. –

*check all of these anti-Semitic websites yourself. IMF, World Bank, CFR, etc, are included.

– In religions, truth is always objective. It is man who subjectivized it. –

– Mobsters, dictators, and war criminals can’t always be 100% evil. If they were, they would not have been into these positions until now. –

– As said by David Rothkopf in Foreign Policy: “If China is not included in BRIC (Brazil-Russia-India-China, plus the latest member, South Africa), then it would just be simply BRI, a kind of bland, soft cheese that is primarily known for the whine that goes with it.”

*in fact, the combined GDP of Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa, is no more than 60% than that of China, whose GDP has soared to more or less 7 trillion US$.

– Governments in the new emerging countries might never anticipate that the best and the brightest are moving out. –

*fact: this might be true for some countries which I know have experienced from brain drain. More geniuses in Indonesia now ‘go international’, studying in the world’s most prestigious universities throughout Singapore, Australia, Europe, or USA. In South Africa, it is estimated that more than half a million intellects have migrated to much-better-off countries, due to the high crime rates and unemployment that is caused by economic inequality that still takes place there.

– The largest gambling center in the world is not in Las Vegas Strip; you will see that more people in the long run end up insane because they lost the game in playing stocks in Wall Street.-

*currently, NYSE has more than 25 trillion US$ in market capitalization.

– It is said that ‘money is the root of all evils’. How come an inanimate object can influence you to do misdeeds? It is far better written like this: being bigotric of money is the root of all evils. –

– Being a fully devoted vegetarian, in my opinion, does not really help in saving the entire world. Even after you consume fruits and vegetables, you would still loosen your bowels. And the feces itself might still contain methane, the dangerous, unseen gas that causes global warming. Perhaps, the best solution is, use these pieces of ‘shit’ as fertilizer, or compress them into gas for the kitchens’ stoves. –

– Often, you won’t find answers by consulting with religionists. You have to find the answers for most of the problems by yourself. –

– Another problem from schools (most of the schools, actually): there are more people who are dominant in IQ but low in EQ than those dominant in EQ but low in IQ. –

– Life is much more tranquil if you don’t often compete with others. –

*tell the businessmen with this quote.

– Like Pareto’s law, success is defined as 80% hardwork and 20% luck. But luck is even more responsible to determine how long would your success last. –

*honestly, we don’t know how many young singers out there who are much more talented than Justin Bieber, or those who are actually much better than Bill Gates. Where is Greyson Chance right now?

– From Donald Rumsfeld, in February 2002: There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know. –

*conclusion: one might be a great English teacher if he can confuse the entire students with plain English.

– This is what might be defined as unknown unknown: do you think that our ancestors 2,000,000 years ago had predicted that we will store food in refrigerators today? –

Closing quote:

– Every time I listen to Chopin or Mozart, they would make me go to sleep. The best lullabies for babies, if I can say so. –

*for all pianists and pianists-to-be worldwide, I’m deeply sorry for my statement!

Closing poem:

One who knows and knows that he knows… This is a man of knowledge; get to know him!

One who knows, but doesn’t know that he knows… This is a man who’s unaware, so bring it to his attention.

One who doesn’t know, but knows that he doesn’t know… This is an illiterate man; teach him!

One who doesn’t know and doesn’t know that he doesn’t know… This is a dumb man; and would be dumb forever!

From Ibn Yamin Faryumadi, a Persian-Tajik poet in 13th century, about 4 types of men in the world.

Imagination is omnipotent…as always…

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein.

 

 

Do you still remember this statement? Or you might not have ever heard that before. Nevertheless, many of nowadays’ teachers tend to suppress their students, forcing them to ‘stop imagine, get back to reality, and focus on obtaining knowledge’. There is a bit mistake in terms of vocabulary, because there is more precise word to replace ‘imagine’ word, indeed with ‘daydream’. But, what if all the people suddenly stop imagining, especially given the thought that it is all imagination that gave birth to all fields of knowledge we are studying today?

 

 

If it were not for this magical, invisible device deeply attached within our brains, we would not have had a fluorishing civilization. Or, to the lesser extent, becoming human, like what we are today. Imagination has helped shaping us for thousands and thousands of years. Do not ever underestimate this device, because from imagination – always from it – there might come out plethora of ideas, pantheon of dreams, and numberless discoveries and inventions. Pyramids came from the imagination of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs hundreds of dozens of years ago, we all needed to thank the ancient Sumerians, Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese, Arabs, and etc, because they helped inventing mathematics, we needed to pay a tribute to Sun Tzu because of his ‘Art of War’, because if it were not for his ideas, corporations and endless countries would not have succeeded today. With imagination, our societies began to be divided and, honestly to say, more ‘well-controlled’. Firstly, in the prehistoric periods, people were divided into clans. Slowly but surely, as more people began to abandon the multi-generational habit of hunting-gathering, societies began to be much more diversified, and therefore, much more difficult to be understood. Laws – also a product of imagination by those tribal chiefs – began to take place to restore order. Then, as civilization began to advance, with people slowly getting adjusted to agriculture, emperors and rulers began to expand the territories. But, at the same time, there had already been dozens of various clans, or some kind of ‘mini-empires’, each one clashing against each other in order to take control of certain areas or places. Then, imagination again gave them a few more ideas – military, metallurgy, and war tactics. To protect certain areas, people had to be trained, and be disciplined harsher, so that they might be strict anytime the faraway enemies attempted to conquer. Swords, chariots, arrows, spears, etc, were massively manufactured in order to equip the troops. Societies in the world commenced to be even much more complicating than before, with many events taking place throughout the history, like wars, trading routes, migration by certain ethnicities to faraway lands, and etc.

Let me assure you (from now on, it is optional whether you want to follow my advice or not), imagination itself is as limitless as the universe we live in. Like the picture shown above, perhaps your imagination might be that larger. The ‘official’ statement that the universe’s radius is 13.5 billion light years is logically doubtful, because there have been no sciennauts  trying to make a more-than-light-speed rocket to cross that limit. Assume that galaxy has 1 trillion stars. Let me create a galaxy of my own: it has 2 trillion stars, 200 billion of which are similar to our own Sun, with 400 billion Earth-like planets, and countless, countless (I don’t want to let these numbers to mess up in this article; statisticians and economists like to confuse us with numbers) intelligent species. It’s the proof, right? That’s what most of the sci-fi authors like the most. Just check out what is in George Lucas’ brain, whether his brain is a set of smartly-designed chips or just merely an organ that’s as soft as avocado, like those of ours. I confess, compared to other authors, sci-fi and fantasy authors are the most imaginative of their own kind. See how George Lucas created his own galactic empire named ‘Star Wars’, or how Gene Roddenberry mismashed everything in ‘Star Trek’. J.R.R.Tolkien could even create his own language, his own nations, his own creatures, geographically-detailed places, all the mythological worlds, all based on his own imagination. Agatha Christie had a such sharpened  brain (or a sharpened pencil, maybe?) that she could puzzle almost all of us with her uneasily guessed detective stories.

 

 

Some of the world leaders, throughout the history, had been historically proven that their imagination was not inferior to that of these greatest authors and filmmakers. Emperor Qin Shi Huang dreamt of an idea of ‘putting a thousand-km-long barrier across the northern part of China’, and since then, millions of peasants were forcefully recruited to accomplish what might be called as ‘The Great Walls’. (notes: despite strength, the Mongolians and the barbaric tribes of the north in the long run managed to conquer China, because the officers taking an eye to these walls had been bribed so frequently by the raiders, and Ripley’s claim that ‘the only structure that’s able to be seen from Moon is Great Wall’ is totally proven as a hoax.) George Washington (and thanks to his secretaries, his wife, his supporters, and hundred thousands of unnamed people who supported his idea) created United States of America, Napoleon Bonaparte – once the shortest troop among his regiment – in the end could expand his territory until Moscow, and therefore, was solely eligible on most parts of Europe. (don’t forget hundred thousands of troops who died in order to accomplish his missions) Emperor Meiji began mass efforts of modernization and Westernization in Japan, Emperor Shah Jahan was the very first man to put the idea of Taj Mahal into practice – despite the facts that all the construction workers were beheaded, the architects had their hands amputated, as a ‘sign of merciless thank-you gratitude’ after accomplishing the mausoleum. Adolf Hitler, no matter how fucking evil he was, could unify the entire Germany and strengthened them in all aspects. President John F. Kennedy was the first president to envision a plan of sending men into the Moon’s surface – once again, despite several doubts about the accuracy of the event. All these marvels were impossible to be created from farting, or came out of their buttocks, but these all emerged out from their imagination, from these omnipower brains. All right, another ‘despite’; despite the huge, sometimes terrible, costs they had to pay as the consequence.

Scientists need to imagine more often than economists; most of the economists prefer ‘predicting’ to ‘imagining’ about the future economy (so, in conclusion, these economists had better be renamed as ‘financial soothsayers’?). Albert Einstein became so phenomenal for his relativity theory, which appeared during his daydreaming of someone coming across a star with a speed-light rocket, which then became the main source for quantum physics, and specifically, the ’embryo’ behind the idea of nuclear weapons, nuclear power plants, nuclear fission, thermonuclear fusion, and a long list to go on. Honestly, as someone who is so-so in physics, I have no idea in understanding clearly about these terms. Isaac Newton obtained the idea of gravitational forces from an apple; whether the apple he saw had maggots or not was not specifically written in his biography. Even if there had been maggots, they might be disappointed because they did not appear in any pictures portraying Newton and the apple. Wernher von Braun was so ingenious and imaginative that almost all the great powers wanted to have him to make rockets for the countries. United States, perhaps because they had much more ample money, decided to have von Braun as the first administrator of NASA. ‘The idea of cloning also originated from imagination; perhaps the creators did not want people to tiringly have sex with their counterparts in order to have children. But this idea is thoroughly inhumane, even if I could honestly explain, mean-spirited. Despite the fact that imagination has no limit and is as spacious as the universe is, we can’t poke fun at nature. Of course it is so unethical to create a ‘pig-faced cow-assed half-human half-monkey hybrid’ (except if you Photoshop), or mix the genes of dinosaurs with those of houseflies or tomatoes. There is always something larger than life – call it God, karma, whatsoever – that preserves all the equilibrium in this universe. Once you toy with the universe, it echoes back towards you.

 

 

 

But, most importantly, the most important invention that has ever happened in the history of human civilization in the last 10 thousand years is Internet. Thanks to the imagination of Timothy Lee Berners, who firstly invented ‘HTML’, Internet is evolving, with 200 million websites, and perhaps, more than 3 billion pages available, available virtually everywhere in this planet. You can now say hello to a friend in Greenland at the same time you are in Indonesia through Facebook. You can ‘follow up’ what on earth is Justin Bieber doing on Twitter. You can instantly see all the grand revolutions now happening in Middle East and North Africa nowadays in leaps and bounds, in no time. But, remember, larger benefits also indicate larger vulnerabilities; with Google, Yahoo, or all these remarkably out-of-the-way search engines, you now have access to 42 million porn sites worldwide (it’s up to you whether you want to browse it or not, as long as you don’t open these sites in the offices, because that might get you fired. One of our country’s parliament members had recently resigned after getting caught by mass media looking atthe  images of nude women during a parliamentary session), some of which are known to be spams or viruses; propaganda efforts are eased, because anonymity at the same time can be preserved. For example, recent efforts of misunderstood jihad (factually, jihad is defined as an effort to fight against oneself, poverty, and stupidity, but some of them had insanely misused this concept), hate groups, hate sites, are emerging worldwide. Because this is Internet, some think that ‘okay, it’s free to insult others as we like’, and, this is the consequence. Internet is becoming into, more precisely to say, ‘a virtual jungle’, in which you may be tricked into its phantasmagorism, but don’t let these harmful ‘beasts’ take you away. These beasts no longer bite you by teeth; they seduce you.

 

 

Imagination also helped tiding up societies. The very first laws were known as Codex Hammurabi, which contained 300 stipulations about ’cause-and-effect’; for example, one who fractured another one’s arm would have to have his arm fractured, as well. So, one who raped must be raped, too? Your guess is as good as mine; just ask the archaeologists or the historians for more evidence. Imagination also gave momentum for the establishment of cities, towns, and all their systems. Firstly, administrations were introduced, authorities were set up (and, hence, there came bureaucrats), streets were built, healthcare centers were built, schools were built, markets were built, people began to apply economy into practice, taxation (perhaps the legal word for ‘robbery’) was introduced, while in some towns or cities, slaves were bought or sold as if they were like sheets of carton-made stocks traded in stock exchanges, castles or palaces were erected. Meanwhile, some of the cities began to produce historical milestones. Rome was the first city in the world with population up to 1 million, Timbuktu was regarded as the ‘Harvard of Sahara’ for centuries, where all the educated and the educators lived in multi-storey houses made of mud, while Beijing had Forbidden City, and Manhattan was the first place in the world to experience skyscraper boom, and also the very first one to have a 100-storey skyscraper erected within, etc. Most of the time, civilization tended to be the most well-developed in cities and towns, which is why many villagers tended to migrate, although at a slow pace, until the momentum of Industrial Revolution in the end of 18th century.

Imagination also helped shaping our spiritual beliefs. At the very first historical periods, we paid respect to our ancestors, or all things that were considered sacred, for example, mountains, huge stones, rivers, forests, etc. Particularly, this was because of our amazement upon all these grandiose natural-made wonders, thus, there was tendency among us that ‘something larger than life’ must have been responsible upon all these spectacular processes. Different places create different cultures, and different cultures also create different ways to pay respect for that ‘something larger than life’. Some tribes might regard mountain as the place where deities live, or oceans as where majestic – whether non-human, semi-human, or fully human depends on their imagination – gods and goddesses reside in. Meanwhile, some cultures might be a bit savage. For example, Aztecs in the past used to sacrifice humans’ lives in Tenochtitlan (now known as Mexico City), then took away their hearts, in order to be presented to Kukulkan, one of the Aztecs’ gods. They believed that by doing so might strengthen them (in what aspects?), meanwhile one primitive tribe in Papua (Indonesian part of Papua, precisely) is still known to behead the head of a woman who is convicted of a sin, then consumes the head away.

 

 

Now, this is the problem with imagination: it doesn’t know, or maybe doesn’t need to, whether it is good or evil. Wars are examples; emperors, rulers, and leaders struggled for the sake of their countries, emperors, clans, or kingdoms, even though at the expense of countless lives. But, without the rulers, societies might be out of control, because there are no more laws to keep them in orders. What we need are wise, democratic, understanding, knowledgeable, and smart leaders. Sometimes, imagination can be extremely perilous if it is implemented. Imagination gave birth to Holocaust, don’t you believe it? So was Khmer Rouge, in which Pol Pot dreamt of a ‘utopian agricultural hegemony’, and therefore, sacrificed almost 2 million people in order to realize his vision. Imagination also might be the source for many justified murders that are now taking place worldwide; this is insane, and this has to be stopped.

Like at that picture above, actually you have imagined it. Even imagining that might be a bit depressing for you.

In conclusion, you can’t realize your own imagination yourself. Almost everything around the world is a result of mergers of many people’s imagination. Cities are built because the city planners, the businessmen, and particularly, almost everyone, co-operate together in combining their ideas, so that cities can operate. Most of the countries survive (but few don’t) because governments and people can exchange ideas and visions. Everything you can see here is a combination of countless ideas. The world functions because of imagination, and ideas that are combined. Without imagination, civilization will entirely stop to a halt. Anytime the teachers tell you to ‘stop imagine’, consider back that statement.

Do you have any ‘galaxies’ that are larger than mine?

Super-Strange Mini-Encyclopedia of Countries on Earth (Part V)

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SAUDI ARABIA 2

This is what most of us in Indonesia perhaps do not know, or probably, do not want to know. An oil-rich country, surrounded by deserts, has plentiful camels (but some of them are imported from North Africa), the land where Muhammad The Prophet and Islam were born, the place where Ka’bah is situated, and a mecca for almost a million Indonesian servants, are what those people basically know about Saudi Arabia.

In the previous note, I had written out that many of them do have and even preserve this bad habit for many, many centuries: rather than getting paid for some kind of low-salary difficult work, they prefer to remain unemployed. In many cases, that was true. See how many of our countrywomen are ‘exported’ to there! Almost half of the entire workforces in Saudi Arabia do belong to foreigners, while the bulk of Saudi Arabians have either two choices: monitor these workers, sleep at the offices or monitor the wives, sleep at the beds.

This is what the whole world, especially Indonesia, must be a bit concerned: an estimated 100 billion US$ have been poured worldwide for the recent 3 decades to fund pan-Arabic organizations, those which aim to advocate the establishment of Islamic states and the mass implementation of sharia law worldwide. These aids can be in many forms, and takes many shapes: they can be the latest mosques,madrasah, or any community centers worldwide. In short, they are promoting what most of them claim to be ‘the purest form of Islam’: Wahhabism. The main principle is like these: the ideology that all religions are equal and indifferent is haram, and thus, Islam must be the only religion in the world to be followed.

Do you have any comments?

JAPAN

We know that what Japan had done in the past was much more tormenting several dozen times fold than the other colonizers had throughout Asia: an estimated 35 to 50 million Asians died during the colonial rule of The Empire of The Rising Sun in less than one decade (exception: Japan, both North and South Korea, Manchuria, and several micro-countries throughout the Pacific Ocean had been colonized since the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th century). Meanwhile, 2.5 million Japanese troops either died or missing during the most deadly war in human history. Wives turned out to widows, and children ended up as orphans. Due to massive efforts of colonization and frequent attacks by Allied forces, the country as if had been fated to be shattered by itself. Japan was especially rock-ribbed when two of its main economic hubs, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, fell prey to the first and the last atomic bombs. But the Japanese had gambare, the spirit of ‘fighting to the end’. Within less than 5 decades, Japan was able to compete with United States in terms of economic dominance.

But, I had better put a question mark in the phrase of ‘economic dominance’.

Japan’s economy is basically slowering down. Debts are found out to have soared to 200% of GDP (that means Japan owes twice as big as what Japan produces within a year), more and more of the population is aging up, more and more youngsters commit suicides, and more and more couples refuse to have children. One-fifth of Japan’s 130 million people are estimated to have been up to 60 years old, while there are more than 40.000 people who age up to 100. And now, the latest earthquake and tsunami that penetrated the country last month, which was followed by Fukushima nuclear crisis, even weakened Japan’s now ‘weakened’ position. If this trend continues, it is feared that the population would have shrunk from 130 to 100 million in 2050, and further beyond, with a shocking prediction on demographic trend: one out of three or four would age up to 60.

SINGAPORE 3

Now, the same case also happens to Singapore. Research has found out that ethnic Malays and Indians, in average, do have three children, while ethnic Chinese do have only one. The government fears that one day in the future, it is indeed the Malays and Indians (Not trying to be racist, anyway) who become the dominant majority in the future. Which is why the government continuously makes efforts to ensure the ethnic Chinese to have more children, with each child born given financial rewards, valued up to tens of thousands of Singaporean dollars. But, one question arises: assume that both parents, in order to adjust with the living costs, have to work, who are going to take care of the children? Starting from this point, the government’s program seems to have discovered its Achilles’ heel.

Government’s another fear: the population shrinks. Population depletion means more people end up aging without any children, and that means government’s higher subsidies, which would one day disrupt the country’s economic stability. And, this is their own alternative solution: harvest more geniuses. In form of ‘scholarship program’, they harvest many smart, intelligent, and visionary youngsters worldwide to work in their country. Especially those from Indonesia; like what Mark Twain once said, “There are thousand more geniuses remain yet to be discovered.” I wish I am one of them.

INDONESIA 2

Recently, there are fears that if there were no efforts at maximum security, Indonesia would be disintegrated into many states. Communist threat? That might be irrelevant in 21st century as communism has almost vanished in the edge of 20th century (exception: China, Cuba, and North Korea are still notable examples), but it does not mean that it is impossible to happen. Extremist threat? One important point that all of us should be concerned. Religious relationship remains fragile and brittle; one of the latest examples was the mass destruction of 3 churches and 1 Christian school by angry Muslim masses who were angry towards one racist priest whose statement (regarding to sexual matters) insulted Islamic values in Temanggung, Central Java, and the slaughter of three Ahmadiyah followers in Banten. Don’t all religions teach us to be patient and not to be ‘animalized’?

Pluralism (the belief that all religions are equal and good) is considered haram by MUI. Isn’t that ridiculous? Excluding many other forms of topsy-turvydom and rambunctiousness, I feel puzzled about this country.

In my opinion, the establishment of a fundamental Islamic state in Indonesia is far from possible, but not impossible. Given that we have abundant number of ethnicities, races, communities, and groups with different customs, languages, and religious beliefs, the possibility of that crinkum-crankum coming true would be at its minimal point. But, for everyone, including me myself, please pay respect to all religions, as all religions are equal, are good, and are humane. It is men themselves who contaminate the religious values. Humanity is the largest religion after all.

SOUTH KOREA 2

In the past, in the 1990s, many Asians were amazed at Hongkong Wave: Hongkong entertainment industry was at the peak of the success, particularly for its action and martial arts films. What I knew is that many of the Asian young men would have bowl-shaped hair, something they followed from the Hongkong superstars. But then, this success slowly stagnated. The epicentrum of the shock then moved to South Korea. More chic, more romantic, and more feminine.

It is not uncommon to see many young boys nowadays do have ponytails that cover their foreheads (something they often follow from these Korean teen stars; by the way, Justin Bieber even follows their style!). K-pop emerges out, with many boy or girl or neither-boy-nor-girl bands fluorishing like crazy. Of course you know these bands like SUJU (Super Junior), Big Bang, 2AM, 2PM, or girl bands like Wonder Girls, SNSD, Girls’ Generation, and etc.

All right, that’s pretty awesome. But it seems that there is something ‘not really good’ behind many of these superstars. Plastic surgery? No-longer-virgin status? That is not uncommon in the country’s entertainment industry. Journalists have found out that many (perhaps, more than half) of the Korean stars have had plastic surgery. So, I shall describe their handsomeness or beauty as ‘synthesized’? Not entirely synthesized at all. What about the latter? That sounds more intriguing. Some South Korean media reports concluded that perhaps as many as 40% of Korean actresses are no longer virgin by the time they should be. Some even say that before they appear in TV series or films, they should firstly have sex with some of the senior leaders of the entertainment industry.

It’s entirely up to you to believe it or not. Never mind those; the good news is, their efforts to expand the influence of Korean Wave generally receive widespread supports from South Korean government. In fact, they even endorse financial supports whenever they are abroad, to promote their popularity.

SURINAME

Not many people worldwide know much about this country; not many people even know that there is a country named Suriname. The population is particularly less than 1 million (it’s not even approaching 50% of population in my hometown, Medan!), but the territory is of course thousands of times larger than that of my city. But, a few of the Javanese, especially the elders, are quite accustomed to hearing this place’s name.

Just like Indonesia, South Africa, Curacao, and Aruba, Suriname, located in South America, was also colonized by the Dutch. (Note: the governance of South Africa was later handled on to British government in the 17th century, but two-thirds of 5 million White South Africans today have Dutch descendants, patrilineally and matrilineally, and hence named as Afrikaners) In the end of 19th and  the beginning of 20th century, tens of thousands of Javanese peasants migrated to Suriname, under the jurisdiction by Dutch authorities, to work in local plantations there. So, whenever you have chances to visit the country, don’t be surprised to find out that many of the people in Suriname speak traditional Javanese language (additional info: there are about 150,000 Javanese people in Suriname, as of 2011). Some of the central government’s highest seats are even held by the Javanese, particularly in the ministerial seats.

VENEZUELA

Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, might have a very big hatred on United States (especially on 2002 coup d’etat attempt, in which United States, under the governance of George W. Bush, was largely believed to plot together to oust him from his presidential seat). All right, in terms of political relationship. But everything seems to be ‘almost’ fine in terms of oil & gas business; the largest importer of Venezuelan oil & gas nowadays is United States, but sooner or later, China would exceed the current superpower, as both governments had already signed multi-billion-dollar contracts in many sectors, ranging from defence (China would export jet fighters, tanks, and warships to Caracas), infrastructure, electricity, telecommunication, satellite, and especially, energy (Venezuela has given consent to Chinese oil & gas companies to drill the oil in Orinoco Basin).

Another reason why Venezuela is an apple in the eyes of Washington, D.C.: its abundant oil & gas reserves. In Orinoco Basin, it is estimated that the oil reserves which remain unexploited would exceed 260 billion barrels, and therefore, lower down Saudi Arabia’s status as ‘economic heartpump of the world’.

**********

Super-Strange Mini-Encyclopedia of Countries on Earth (Part IV)

*****

SAUDI ARABIA

This country has it all to fatten its people’s bellies. Imagine 265 billion barrels of oil! Given the assumption that the country’s oil production is kept on the same pace, that is 10 million barrels a day for a year, the oil reserves would stand still for the next 7.5 decades. Oil, perhaps, has also fueled population boom; 4 decades prior, the country’s population was merely 6.5 million; this year, it has climbed into a staggering level: 30 million. And, as some forecast, in 2050, the population would jump higher and further into another breathtaking level: 100 million, or more. But, even a country bestowed with so much oil can not escape what has been soi-disant by many economists as ‘oil curse’: unemployment rates remain one of the highest in the world, which is more than 30%.

Peter Maass’ book of ill-fated oil countries, ‘Crude World’, would really open your eyes about how oil – as Ryszard Kapuscinski described as ‘anesthetizes thoughts, blurs visions, and corrupts’ – slowly absorbs the government’s good face. In his odyssey into the Land of 1001 Nights, he described Riyadh’s King Fahd International Airport as ‘the largest, and the most silent airport in the world, where your laughing sound may echo almost all around the terminal’. Few tourists ever visit this country; most of the foreigners you may meet here are workers. Americans and Europeans dominate the top seats in oil and banking industry, meanwhile Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, and Pakistanis are low-paid workers in construction sector, Indonesian women as servants, Egyptian and Sudanese workers employed in banking service and communication sector, and etc. There is a principle among most of the Arabs that ‘rather than having a low-paid, difficult work, they prefer being unemployed’, because the oil money has provided everything, and think that oil wealth would last forever. Peter Maass also recounts that many of the country’s youth generation are being ‘lost’; they either end up in car accidents as they like to drive like crazy, or die staunchfully in full service as mujahideen.

I am obviously unsure what would happen to the country when Saudi Arabia – now a country of flowing oil – when the last drop of oil has been spared. That would be catastrophic, if they don’t change their mindsets.

NIGERIA

In the long run, Indonesia has got a friend, in terms of massive corruption rates. Throughout the period from 1960 to 2010, almost 500 billion US$ has been generated from oil & gas production, particularly in Niger Delta – the heartpump of Nigeria’s economy, but it is later discovered that less than 5% of it goes to annual national budgets. Only 25 billion US$ over half a century that really goes to fund public projects? But that’s the reality. Most of the money goes to the ministers, the presidents, the cronies, the rebels, the soldiers, the mercenaries, the policemen, the bureaucrats, and of course, to their big fat round bellies!

Until now, adjusted to UN’s standards, 85% of Nigeria’s 150 million people remain poor (Indonesia is slightly a bit much better), indicating that they earn less than 2 US$ a day. But, I don’t know which investment bank made that statement, but it is clearly written that Nigeria has potential to become Africa’s next economic powerhouse. Given that the country’s GDP now is 200 billion US$, the bank begins to put a special priority on this country. Let’s see 40 years later.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Who says China has the fastest growing economy in the world? They haven’t taken a deeper look at this tiny country, with population less than 1 million. The economy grows 33% every year! As usual, like two countries above I had mentioned, this country relies on the liquid named ‘oil’. But, as what Ryszard Kapuscinski has said, oil anesthetizes thought, blurs visions, and corrupts.

And that’s true if you have an eye on the highest leaders of the country.

This is a typical of family-controlled country, a some kind of empire alike: it is led by Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who was rumored to have deep connections with those working in Washington, D.C. and even has his hundred-million-dollar assets stored in one of the banks there. More burlesque, one of his many sons and daughters purchased a private yacht worth 420 million US$, which is more than a dozen times the amount of the country’s budget spent on education! Another one, also one of his many sons and daughters, is also reported to have purchased a few million-dollar mansions in South Africa.

HONGKONG & MACAU

In fact, Hongkong & Macau are countries. But, they are countries that are owned by People’s Republic of China. Which is why there is a political vocabulary phrase of ‘one country, two systems’. This implies that both the governments of Hongkong & Macau are given almost-limitless freedom in operating these territories: they have their own capitals, currencies, police forces (except soldiers, because it is China’s People’s Liberation Army who has authorities to secure both these territories), flags, constitution, parliament, law, regulations, and distinct societies (people from Macau and Hongkong tend to be more Westernized than their Mainland Chinese counterparts), but despite all these kinds of liberty, it is still the leaders in China who have the highest control in both these countries.

Actually, the government has been proposing to apply the similar ‘one country, two systems’ concept in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Taiwan, but until now, there is not much progress in it.

GREENLAND

Within a few years, Greenland would soon be no longer a ‘dependent country’ of Denmark. It is the largest island in the work, it is 2.5 times larger than the second largest island, Papua Island, but the population is less than 60,000. Despite little population, Greenland is gifted with so abundant natural resources, particularly oil. It has been scientifically proven that as many as 50 billion barrels of oil exist beneath the seas surrounding Greenland, which means that the economic values of these resources may be at least 5 trillion US$, given that today’s oil price has climbed to more than 100 bucks a hogshead.

Greenland also actually ‘benefits’ from global warming – the area has been a bit warmer recently, and experts have forecast, given that no efforts are being made to slow down the greenhouse effects, Greenland would be totally, truly a ‘mass greenland’. This has been proven by the increasing agricultural yields of the newly-born country; potato and spinach have been grown in many little farms throughout the territories.

ICELAND

This country increasingly became both popular and notorious after two big calamities hit this little, 300,000-man nation: the former is natural, while the latter is financial.

In 2010, one of the country’s active volcanoes, Eyjafjyallajokull, erupted. Thousands of people were forced to flee their homes, but the long-term consequences were mostly felt throughout Europe. Hundreds, perhaps thousand, of flights were subsequently delayed, and soon many major international airports throughout the continent ended up in meccas. Due to delayed flights, it is estimated that the economic cost would be up to 10 billion US$.

In 2008, Iceland was almost devastated by the global economic crisis. Three of its major banks – Glitnir, Landsbanki, and Kaupthing – had, in fact, debts that exceeded 6 times of the total GDP of the country (the debts are known to have soared until 120 billion US$). Wikileaks even cracked down much more information about the skeletons in the industry’s closets: much of the money was discovered to have been squandered, and one of the banks owners even hired a hundred-million-dollar private jet to fetch Elton John for a private concert in his mansion, if I am not mistaken.

SOMALILAND

Somaliland is the only country in this planet that is not recognized by even one country in this planet. But, it does not mean that the country is totally isolated, but only in terms of political recognition. The country is still undergoing progress to upgrade its status from poor to emerging, step by step. To prove it, just type this name in Wikipedia, and you can find out one image of a newly-built shopping mall in Hargeysa, its capital. Now, the country is much better than its twin brother in south, and its economy is quite vibrant.

*****

The Man Who Washed His Victims’ Feet

I would not tell you firstly about who on earth this man is – but his life, coincidentally, had striking similarities with the one I saw in a Chinese, or perhaps, Hongkong, film.

Did anybody of you watch ‘Shaolin’?

Hou-chieh (portrayed by Andy Lau) was an ambitious, aggressive, and a barely forgiving army general in the early days of modern China. He had had exaggerative ambition in gaining power and in grabbing more territories, until he triggered a competition with his own elder brother, whom he shot to death in the long run. Meanwhile, he had poisoned his younger brother (perhaps?) Tsao-man (Nicholas Tse) with his life principles which were frequently cruel, intoxicating his mind into one with a monster’s, and who in the end shattered his career.

Hou-chieh was neither a good Samaritan nor a demon – he had been victimised by his own over-ambition. He was afraid that somebody would exceed him in terms of power and influence; which is why he would do everything at all costs to retain his power. But, voila, God speaks. He lost his only daughter, became totally hopeless for weeks, before he repented all his sins and became a Shaolin monk. (About how the film ended, I think I don’t have to make any spoiler here.)

But, take a deep notice. Hou-chieh has got a friend who, perhaps, was almost similar with himself.

Curiosity kills the cat. The man portrayed on the photograph above is Adriaan Vlok.

It was 1987. South Africa – already the most advanced country in the continent – was facing topsy-turvydom either inside or outside. United Nations had lifted economic sanctions to the country as a result of decades-old apartheid which had been creating more international condemnations, more worldwide and ampullaceous as ever. Nationwide, the country was facing mass chaos. Work strikes were frequently taken, which demanded apartheid be dissolved in leaps and bounds. Police and military reacted repressively; many activists, especially those from ANC (African National Congress; the party whose leader was once Nelson Mandela), were brutally tortured and assassinated. Namibia – which was still the territory of South Africa at that time – was demanding for independence. South Africa was on the brinks of destruction. During the presidency of Pieter Willem Botha, Adriaan Vlok was appointed as Minister of Law and Order. He was trusted by the then-president to solve all the troubles taking place nationwide. But Vlok had his own agenda.

There were protests being organized by South African Council of Churches and COSATU (some kind of the country’s trade unions). Adriaan Vlok subsequently ordered special operative teams and bombing experts of the country’s police forces to ‘make fireworks’ over the protest. Because the protests were held inside buildings, mainly Khotso House and COSATU’s main headquarters, several explosive experts had been hired to place the bombs inside. When the protests were taking place, the buildings suddenly exploded and were smashed to smithereens. Many civilians died during the protest (the exact number is, personally, I don’t know much about that). That was just one of Vlok’s misdeeds he had either committed directly or indirectly.

Then, came another case, in which Vlok was indirectly responsible (if he had been at that time more kind-hearted, they would not fall prey into the system). 10 activists, during a tour for ‘military training’ – a secret motive for the military and the police to murder them – were injected with a chemical by one of the police officers who guarded them. The police officers and the troops subsequently left the minibus they took a ride in, as these activists had fallen unconscious. All in a sudden, the military had placed bombs inside the minibus, and exploded. Whether they had woken up or not was unknown by the time the explosion occurred. Their bodies were shattered to pieces of flesh, and they were subsequently buried by the military in Johannesburg. The incident was known as ‘Mamelodi 10′.

Okay, to mention many more examples Vlok had misconducted would be long-winded, rambling, and pleonastic. Just move to the period after apartheid, when Nelson Mandela became the first Black to be appointed as president of brand-new South Africa. Initially, there was fear that South Africa would end up another Zimbabwe, whose leader has shattered the country all by himself and his destructive policies. But forgiveness changed everything. Mandela, rather than doing an eye for an eye, a roland for an oliver, or any diamond-cut-diamond vengeance, asked that South African, regardless of race, religion, and background, should unite for a better future for the entire nation. At least, the country is still in progress. Immediately after his appointment, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was set up as an opportunity for those who were once involved in pro-apartheid activities to confess all their mistakes, no matter how brutal, how sadistic they were, directly in front of the victims, or the victims’ families. Not all of them were willing to do so, but at least there was a majority of them who had willingness to repent.

Adriaan Vlok is one of them. Without any reasons to feel ashamed, he appeared in TRC, and confessed all his mistakes one by one. Suddenly I was just reminded of how Hou-chieh repented in front of the Shaolin monks. Many of the responses were positive, though some still insisted not to forgive Vlok for his brutal misdeeds in the past. He even washed their feet – in Christianity, this is known as paedalavium. A sign of apology, deep from his heart. Nobody except Vlok had never been doing such surprising thing like this before.

One of the victims, Frank Chikane – now a reverend, who was once targeted to be assassinated by Vlok himself – even had his feet washed by the man, who, like Hou-chieh, perhaps, had been victimized by his own hatred, his own ambition, and his own turmoils. In March 2010, he also washed the feet of 13 ex-soldiers and police officers whom he said had led them ‘to the wrong path’. It was done in a church, witnessed by hundreds of people, black and white, and they said that there were tears flowing on both Vlok’s eyes and the ex-soldiers and the police officers’ eyes as well. Regarding to the Mamelodi 10, he also washed the feet of the 10 activists’ widows and mothers, deep from his heart, and hugged them as if they were families.

Without that sense of forgiveness, South Africa would not exist until this second.

And Hou-chieh has got a good partner, too.

Google ‘forgiveness stories’, and you will find 9.430.000 search results, currently. What a better world we can make if we can apply what Adriaan Vlok has done to the victims – through our own ‘foot-washing’ deeds.

‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us.’

You Don’t Know Sufiah

Surely, there are many tales about child prodigies that end up in tragedy. For example, William James Sidis, who was perhaps regarded as the most ingenious person in the world with IQ amounting to 300, and had extraordinary talent in mastering more than 200 languages before he was a teenager. He had unusual skills in Mathematics, and always excelled in almost every subject well. He had read The New York Times by the time he was – if I’m not mistaken – 2 or 3 years old. He had been admitted to Harvard University – of course the world’s best university consecutively for decades, and among his senior, he was considered as ‘superior’ in terms of skills and talents his father had nurtured. Instantly, he became an international phenomenon.

I was reminded of a Greek tragedy on Icarus – about how he struggled to be the first man who could find freedom by floating in the air like a bird. The sun roasted his entire body in the end. In Sidis’ case, his father was the ‘sun’ in the story Icarus had to face. In order to achieve more popularity, Boris Sidis – his father who was the ‘first’ psychologist and psychiatrist to discover his son’s unusual talents, always placed more emphasis on William. By giving him some extremely intricate, or complicating, questions almost nobody but deities or deity-like creatures could solve, William James Sidis slowly grew distressed of the same thing he had to do – everyday. He had very few friends – perhaps, almost nobody wanted to befriend with him. His soul was slaggardly and painfully messy like Icarus’ roasted body. He ran from the reality, was almost admitted to a mental asylum, lived in a world of secrecies, kept distance with his parents, did jobs assigned only to those who were illiterate, went broke, wrote articles under many pseudonyms, and died in 1944, at the age of 46.

But I am not going to telltale about William James Sidis. In case, I had ‘discovered’ another child prodigy – whose miserable, somber stories did bear some striking similarities with those of his own.

On the picture above, this girl’s name is Sufiah Yusof.

Born in 1984, in the United Kingdom, to a Pakistani man and a Malaysian woman. Not many details are known about her – she made national sensation in 1997 when she became the youngest person to be admitted to the prestigious St Hilda’s College, Oxford – an all-women college which has been known nationwide for ‘producing’ famous achievers, due to her unusual talents in Mathematics. She became a new hope, a big pride for her family, and her parents, especially.

Many thought that Sufiah Yusof could achieve global stardom in the future – maybe, getting the title of Time’s Person of the Year, which has been granted to many influential world leaders, or collecting Field’s Medal (the highest, most respected, and most prestigious prize awarded to any excellent mathematicians in America, and perhaps, in the world) – but the answer was an, alas, a big mistake. In 2001, she dropped out of the college. She was estranged by her parents, instead. She complained that her parents were merely exploiting her for popularity. Like what Sidis did, she hid in a world of secrecies. Two weeks afterwards, somebody found out she was working as a waitress in an Internet cafe. She preferred to stay in a foster family, indeed.

Not many details are known about the period within 2001 and 2003, but it is said that Sufiah Yusof again returned to the college two years after her ‘get-away’ epoch. She managed to complete her undergraduate master, but she failed to do so. Afterwards, she married a trainee lawyer who shared the same hometown with. But, the marriage ended up in a mess. The marriage lasted only 13 months, in a bitter-ending divorce. (unlucky number, isn’t it?)

Her name was unheard again for 5 years. From 2003 to 2008. In March 2008, a journalist again popularized her name. But it is not ‘popularized’, precisely. It is, more exactly, ‘notoriorized’ (or ‘notorized’? Please report to me if you find out any mistake). She had changed her name to Shilpa Lee. This time, she appeared in an adult-only website and was so vulgar. Even if you type her name in Google Images, you can find out her totally vivid body being posted in many search results, mismashing with the ‘better’ picture of herself above. Sorry to mention it because it is a bit pornographic, but what I find out is totally vulgar image of Shilpa Lee, with breasts (or ‘boobs’) vividly shown, uncensored. That mathematic genius, who once had a promising future, has ended up into a prostitute! I don’t need to exhibit her picture here, but you can try to prove it yourself (a better suggestion: you had better not try to access it, except you are already 17 years old, even if you dare to.) Many media reports eventually informed the whole world that she had been a ‘first-class’ prostitute, with fees amounting to 130 pounds for each ‘session’.

For how long she had been a hooker still remains a question. Her ‘body-selling’ career ended up in December 2008, when an Islamic organization decided to restore her back into the right path. Since then, she had thoroughly devoted her time to become a social worker, back in Malaysia. However, at that time, Sufiah was still unwilling to reunite with both her parents. Until now, it is not much known anymore about how Sufiah Yusof is. May she have a better future, despite her already contaminated background in the past.

What Is In A Name? (And More Other Names to Find Out)

Name is a fence and within it you are nameless. – Samuli Paronen

Shakespeare said, “What is a name?” For motivational intention, this phrase might be doing good for you. You don’t need to be ashamed when you find out that your parents gave you names, like, “Goodluck”, “Angel”, “Baby”, or whatsoever, because, who knows that queer name might generate queer success for you? Name reflects you, and name reflects what you have done so far. Name determines whether you must be popular, or you must be notorious. Without names, the whole world would have been messy as hell. People might find it intricate to differ which one is aspirin or which one is barbiturate whenever they have headache. Chefs would not know what suitable names they have to give for chicken or fish, because they might mistake fish as ‘chicken’, and vice versa. Or generals would find it that hard to differentiate which one is supposed to be enemies, or which ones are partners. Your body may last no more than two centuries, but your name may last until one digit more than the former. Your name reflects about you, what contributions you have given to this planet, be it supporting wars and get awarded Nobel Peace Prize for those politicians, or getting awarded 5 Michelin stars (that the chefs do really want the most), and etc.

The most essential thing you have to learn is ‘never play cat-and-mouse with your name, otherwise you have to adopt a pseudonym for a lifetime’.

So far, I have collected some unique names, from someone’s names to dirty words (watch out!), and what ‘historical lessons’ can be learnt about them. Take a closer look:

ANDRIANA

Is this falsely written? Or my eyes are having optical problems? The latter is correct (until now, I am still wearing spectacles), but if you also say that this is incorrectly written, please re-evaluate it once again. What I mean as correctly-written Andriana here is actually one of the social classes in which societies are divided according to the cultural customs of Merina tribe in Madagascar. They do have three classes, which are firstly Andriana (which means ‘nobles), Hova (the masses, the ordinary people), and Andevo (slaves). But, when you notice it until the deep roots, you will find the division is much more complicating than you ever imagine. Andriana is still divided into seven sub-classes, and here they are:

1. Zanakandriana

2. Zazamarolahy (or Marolahy): Direct descendants of the sovereign.

3. Andriamasinavalona

4. Andriantompokondrindra (or Zanatompo)

5. Andrianamboninolona (“Princes Above the People”) or Zanakambony (“Sons Above”)

6. Andriandranando (or Zafinadriandranando)

7. Zanadralambo

Believe it or not, this is all up to you, guys.

AWATWA

In the name of God, I swear, whenever you Google this name, you won’t find any results. At least, on the first few pages. What on earth is this? Head to South Africa, trek to the northern part of Cape Town, and you would find out the answer. Awatwa! Why the hell are they slant-eyed? Are they Chinese who got lost in the wilderness in Africa? The answer is yes. Their ancestors, in the 13th century, were once Chinese sailors, but were then stranded in this would-be Cape Town, and they bred, and bred, and walla!, there came out a little tribe they themselves name Awatwa. They still preserve their physical features (having Mongoloid skin, albeit a bit brownish, and you could clearly distinguish the differences between them and the Black Africans), and speak a language almost similar to Mandarin. You may think that I am writing here as if I were a fiction author, but as a proof, let me present this Time’s article to you. Click it here:

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1828432,00.html?iid=sphere-inline-sidebar#ixzz0sRYzivff

BALI

There is not only one Bali in the world, as you know. In fact, there are 10! Perhaps, due to poor promotion and lackadaisical of public relations, the tourists barely know about the existence of these Balis. Bali is a small, almost unknown village in Bhutan. On the other hand, Bali is all towns in Nigeria, Cameroon, and India, and Taipei. There is even a village in Crete, Greece, named Bali! Bali is even the official name of legislative assembly in Rajasthan, India! There is even an asteroid named Bali 770! Recently, local authorities in West New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea suggested that the name Uneapa Island be renamed to Bali, instead.

CORIN TELLADO

A Spanish author. She broke a world record for ‘writing stories at most in the world’. 4000 short stories, buddies! She had each of the stories published every week, and all of them were sold at 400 million copies worldwide! But, all her stories were published in Spanish, and it seems that macho guys (if you were right now reading my article) are not that suitable to read her stories, because all of them were primarily concerned about romance. (see, the plotlines are similar to the telenovela series your parents perhaps like to watch in TVs) Now, she has passed away. Interested in breaking the record?

FORTIFICATION UNDER THE CONSENT OF KING

In the past, many centuries ago in England, it used to be illegal to have children without any consent from the king. Which is why, every couple, before committed sex at the midnight, needed to have a fortification (a kind of letter of permission), signed directly by The King of England. Many historians agreed that stemming up from these words, came a perfect abbreviation, which you may always hear as ‘f**k’ ! Like ‘ f**k your a**!’

GREENLAND

It is the largest island in the world, stranded on a 2-million-sq-km territory, but it is only inhabited by 60,000 people. It is also one of the most promising energy heartpumps of the world, with an estimated number of 50 billion barrels of oil could be fluorishing below the surrounding seas. But, it is a bit inappropriate to mention an ice-and-snow-covered island as ‘Greenland’, at the same time mentioning an island covered in glaciers, geysers, grasslands, snowlands, and volcanoes as ‘Iceland’.

LIU CHANG

This emperor of the Southern Han Dynasty had an unusual sexual desire for Persian women. Which is why, according to historians, his palace was filled with young Persian ladies, and one of them was named Mei Zhu. (mini-fact: historians are debating about what this name actually means, whether Mei Zhu means Beautiful Pearl, or Seductive Pig) He was not even 16 years old (as old as me) to commit sexual debauchery for all the Persian women. For him, being an emperor meant that he could commit sex and play with all the women, day and night. The emperor’s duties were instead assigned to his eunuchs, and he never got involved in any state affairs.

OSCAR (ACADEMY AWARDS)

The actual etymological origin of Oscar, the nickname of Academy Awards, is quite blurred. But, many people believe that this was actually originated from the name of Oscar Pierce. But, he’s all alien to Hollywood, because Oscar Pierce had no contribution to any filmmaking achievements. He’s just a farmer in Texas! Nevertheless, one day during an interview with a local newspaper, one woman who worked for AMPAS (the official organizer of Academy Awards ceremony) told a reporter subsequently after seeing the shape of the statuette, “It’s as bald as that of my uncle’s head!” Hence, Oscar became a widespread phenomenon worldwide.

SALMAN RUSHDIE

Mentioning this name would make those people’s blood boils, especially in Arabian and Muslim countries. Praising him would mean decapitation (it’s real; you may lose your head any time!), except in Western countries. As his ‘satanic’ novel, The Satanic Verses, became a major controversy in the whole world, a team of Pakistani filmmakers immediately reacted by making a film titled International Guerrillas, depicting himself as the main villain, a dreaded mobster. It is said that in the final scenes, three giant Qurans appear in the sky and burn Rushdie alive.

SHIMON PERES

Unofficially, he is the oldest president in the world (now, he’s 88 years old). Oh, president of Israel! But, adjusted to Constitution of Israel, President is merely a ceremonial position, and a person needs to accomplish 7 years in one term (all the government’s duties are handed on to Prime Minister). Given that he was inaugurated in 2007, it seems that he will retire only when he has been 91 years old, in 2014.

UNITED KINGDOM

As a matter of fact, United Kingdom is not a country. It is, more precisely, a federation of countries, which is consisted of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

WILLIAM WYLER

Currently, he still holds the record as the most Oscar-nominated filmmaker, with 12 nominations on behalf of his name for ‘Best Director’ category, and winning 3 of them.

*****

Navorski Is Not Alone

Many of us have a good favor in traveling, don’t we? Everytime you transit in any international airports elsewhere in the world, you can observe millions of visitors speaking out many languages. From Japanese to Korean to Spanish to Arabian to French to Chinese, and a long list to go on. From trendy Japanese female tourists wearing on cool, weird clothes, to the rich Arabian oil barons dressed in their traditional costumes, but spray themselves with cologne or perfume recently bought somewhere in Paris or London, to a very disproprotionate swarm of decades-old tourists coming from China or Taiwan. You may also observe some youngsters putting up the lightweight Macbook over their thighs, to the look-cool executives who are wearing in Armani’s or Dior’s latest coats and neckties.

When you come to the toilet in Changi, or any airports else in this world, please note that you might see some old ladies, or some young boys, who are cleaning up the places ‘every time we go to pee or poo’. Don’t sue the labor unions; they are just doing that because ‘they feel this is killing time to stay at homes’. But, who knows that these old ladies have unique stories.

Perhaps they befriend with someone who ‘has made airport a second home for a lifetime’. We never know that. Assume 100 million people have a transit in an international airport every year, the odds of finding someone who ‘makes airport a second home for a lifetime’ is 100 million to 1, or more optimistically, 10 million to 1.

Let me introduce all of you to Viktor Navorski.

He’s an unlucky person. His homeland, Krakozhia (a Spielbergian country), located somewhere in Eastern Europe, had fallen to ruins due to an ongoing civil war. Many people were assassinated; thank God Navorski had boarded a plane earlier. He arrived in New York City John F. Kennedy International Airport, actually intended to stay there only a few nights. In the long run, he managed to stay until 9 months, before stability was again restored in his homeland. That was not his intention. Neither United States nor Krakozhia had diplomatic ties after the civil war erupted; it could be concluded that Navorski could neither step out of the airport and breathe ‘American air of freedom’, nor could he return to the country, back. He had been set up by immigration authorities, but his Slough of Despond eventually turned him into a ‘superstar’ in the airport. It was even the bad luck itself which saved his life because, assume he had no inhibitions from the authorities, and returned to his homeland earlier, he could have somewhat died because his country fell in total cahos.

Navorski is imaginary, but the others are unimaginable within our knowledge.

Navorski was portrayed very well by two-time Oscar-winner Tom Hanks, in this Steven Spielberg-directed ‘The Terminal’. As usual, Hanks portrayed a man who with all his naivete, believed that he should ‘go with the flow, and not go against it’. Let us not ajudicate about Tom Hanks’ acting performances; let us examine more thoroughly about Viktor Navorski.

He did not want to request for any political asylum in United States. He was just an ordinary person, a do-gooder who wanted to fulfil his dying father’s the last wish: to gather autographs from one of America’s most famous saxophonists. He gathered many of his savings, and travelled to New York City. But, as he arrived in the international airport, a civil unrest suddenly erupted in his homeland, and eventually led to a civil war. Knowing that left-wing extremists had taken over government buildings in the country’s capital, US Government, with no doubt, eventually ended any forms of diplomatic ties with Krakozhia. Here, his adventure began. Trapped within the hubbub, he did not know what to do. He spoke broken English anybody barely understood; he kept on watching the latest breaking news about what was happening to the country. He had no acquaintances, no friends, nobody. He cried, he wept, when he saw his country fell in ruins, and, that matter was worsened by the reality that he could no longer return to his homeland.

But, Navorski’s story was a lot more blithesome, Saturnian than the reality. He managed to befriend with an Indian old man who was set up by local agents which made him end up as an illegal immigrant (who works as a janitor), a Latino American youngster who fell in love with a local immigration officer (later he would make use of Navorski to convey her a message of ‘love letter’ every day, by rewarding him daily meals), and a poor Afro-American man. To ‘sweeten’ the story, he fell in a love with a stewardess who had had affair previously, who in turn saved his life by forcing federal authorities to permit him ‘one day’s off’ in New York City.

At least, Navorski stayed in the airport for ‘merely’ 9 months. Equal to approximately 270 days.

Rumor has it that the main inspiration for ‘The Terminal’ came from an Iranian ‘refugee’ in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle International Airport, who had stayed in the airport for 18 years (from 1988 to 2006)! Let me introduce another Navorski-alike: Mehran Karimi Nasseri.

Nasseri was not as lucky as Navorski. He was born in Iran, in 1942, precisely in a settlement for oil workers employed by then Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now, this company is more popular as BP – ‘Beyond Parody, Big Polluter’). He had a good future. He studied in University of Bradford, United Kingdom in 1973, and was graduated 3 years after. But he frequently participated in protests again US-backed Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a shah who ruled Iran until 1979, before he was ousted by Ayatollah Rohullah Khomeini and his fellow supporters. Due to his frequent opposition, he was later on expelled in 1977, which automatically made him ‘a stateless person’. He was involved in years-long struggle to obtain citizenship in some countries, and after making a request to UNHCR in Belgium, he was given rights of political asylum to settle in any European countries, in 1986.

Nasseri actually intended to return to United Kingdom (because he claimed his mother was a Scot, although there was no substantial evidence to prove this); however, he had an almost similar Slough of Despond just like what Navorski was. During his transit to London from Paris, one of his suitcases, which contained precious, valuable immigration documents – as well as his passport, was stolen by someone. He only realized this situation when the plane had landed in London. As a consequence, he was deported by British immigration authorities back to Paris, and there, his ‘adventure’ began. He waited until 18 years, before he was initially released off the airport. Most of the 18 years were spent in Terminal 1; this had been his own ‘home’ for Nasseri.

Almost all of his 18 years were spent in writing diaries, reading books about economics, and receiving food and items from airport’s employees. But, Nasseri was not without his own fortune. In 1992, a French human rights lawyer decided to settle his case in law courts. Subsequently after a painfully slow years-long process, exactly in 1995, it was Belgian government who offered Nasseri permits of residency; but under one condition that ‘he would be supervised by a government-hired social worker’. How careless he was when he rejected their offer! He insisted that he wanted to return to United Kingdom to reunite with his family there, and thus, he went on ‘waiting’. Until 2006, which was the first time he was ‘out’ of the airport, and had a breath on fresh, Parisian air. Was he taken to Eiffel Towers by a very generous person? Was he given chance by any benign billionaires to have a ski in Mont Blanc or watch films in Cannes due to his ‘popularity’? A big no, unfortunately. He was out of the airport because he had to be hospitalized. He was then taken care by French Red Cross, and until now, he lives in a shelter in Paris provided by the organization. Until the minute I am now accomplishing this article, he is still waiting for his return to UK.

Nasseri actually had published a book titled ‘The Terminal Man’. Some said this book had inspired Steven Spielberg to adapt his story into a film, and Tom Hanks to portray Navorski (were Navorski’s role given to other actors, I am not quite sure how good The Terminal would be). Some of the mass media reports even mentioned that Spielberg’s Dreamworks Pictures had paid him 250,000 US$. Meanwhile, his autobiography was a hard sell in several countries, therefore generating quite a lot revenues for Nasseri. And, as written by Wikipedia: “Nasseri’s story was also the inspiration for the award winning contemporary opera Flight by British composer Jonathan Dove.”

Which story do you think is more unique? Navorski’s or Nasseri’s? Decide it yourself.

Actually, both Navorski and Nasseri are not ‘alone’. Here are three other persons whose almost-as-extraordinary-as-Navorski-and-Nasseri stories are quite interesting. Find them in Wikipedia or Google them:

– Feng Zhenghu

– Hiroshi Nohara (not Shinchan’s father)

– Zahra Kamalfar

If I Were A Leader… (A Politically ‘Immoral’ Education About Morality)

Previously posted on February 5, 2011, in my Facebook account.

That request came out a very long time ago. From one of my friends (just make it anonymous, okay?), she asked me to write a note in a topic like this:

“what would you do if you were an influential leader?”

Well, fella, in order to be influential, leaders can commit in two paths. One, in totally right ways. Or, two, in right ways, as well, but ‘the right way’ that indirectly gives negative impacts in the long term, to many people. We can’t just simply judge all the leaders around the world as either 100% good or 100% evil, because our souls, as for me, are like two sides of a coin. One is a ‘want-to-do-good-and-make-better’ side, and the other one being ‘want-honor-and-more-power’.

The latter can be the most dangerous, and it has been ‘historically proven’ that in most of the occasions, this penetrated the former side.

What is now happening in Egypt? Millions of people are now demonstrating, demanding that Husni Mubarak (for any mis-spelling, please forgive me) subsequently resign from his presidency. Egypt, despite being hailed as ‘the next under-BRIC potential’ – Western economists even consider CIVETS (Colombia-Indonesia-Vietnam-Egypt-Turkey-South Africa) as ‘mini-BRIC (Brazil-Russia-India-China)’, in the end could not solve even many of the most fundamental problems plaguing the country nowadays. Unemployment prevails at a prevalently high 15%, and more or less, half of its population still live below poverty line.

But the most fundamental problem is authoritarianism. US Government may continuously applaud Egypt as ‘already having democratic regime in North Africa’, but given its strategic location (it is near to Israel, and it is also near the main ‘engine’ of the global economic system – the hundred-billion-barrel oil reserves throughout Middle East), assume that Egypt has been ‘placed’ in such prestigious geopolitical location, won’t the government attempt anything to ensure that ‘Egyptian government must be our own friend’?

The same thing also goes to Indonesia. Thanks to democracy, now I have been much better in expressing my own opinions about this sometimes-good-sometimes-not-really-good country. Between 1966 and 1998, our country witnessed dramatic shifts conducted by then-the-richest-leader-in-the-world Soeharto. When ‘New Order’ took place, Indonesia experienced drastic, accelerative economic growth, and was even hailed by economists as ‘the next Asian tiger’. Until 1997 turned up itself as a storm, a ‘Katrina hurricane’ for Asian economy at that time. Hundreds of banks were liquidated, poverty rate more than doubled, and social chaos was taking place everywhere, until it culminated in May 1998 riots, in which four university students were shot to death during demonstration, and in the following day, there erupted massive riots throughout the whole country. Rumor has it that ‘military’ played a significant role in starting this pogrom, but the answer still remains a void, until this second (nevertheless, this belief has become a widespread public secret within the societies).

This is a main risk of what will happen if a leader rules a country for too long.

I don’t want to explain such this thing in a humdrum manner. I just want you to ‘imagine’. I don’t care whether you are imaginative or not, but just try to think out everything possible of becoming a leader. It’s good if you have very many visions. You want to improve the lives of the most impoverished kids. You want to ensure that all the children can have a brighter future by better education. You want to see every university graduate can obtain a job, adjusted to which subject he or she enrolls in. You want societies, regardless of races, religions, and different aspects, to stay united together, as a whole nation. You want to see every individual becomes fatter (about the fear of cholesterol level, it is recommended that you go for a medical check soon), and you want to see every person prospers.

These are children’s dreams, aren’t they?

But, we know that politics is cruel. The cruelest system in the world that you may even crucify your own family, and everything, in order to succeed in a high, noble, people-feared position. Here the Lucifer begins to cast her deadly spells. Suddenly, you appoint your nearest friends (whether they are competent or incompetent, that depends on ‘you’) into the cabinet positions. Or, you reward ‘concessions’ for your other friends’ families. For example, for Mr.A, “Hey, you, I reward you monopoly in cement!”. Then, for Mr.B, “Hey, you, I reward you monopoly in oil!”. Then, for Mr.C, “Hey, you, I reward you monopoly in underwear-and-bikini-manufacturing business!”. Suddenly you find out that people are getting wrathful because of your policy, then they try to oust you, and in the end, you command the military generals, “Use your tanks, and crush them into meatballs!”. You fear the opposition groups may shake your golden ‘hot seat’ (and, perhaps, the underwear as well), and you impose severe sanctions for them. You again fear the activists may flee to other ‘democratically well-off’ countries, then you recruit someone to kidnap, torture, or assassinate them.

By this method, you have graduated as a ‘dictator’.

But, things are sometimes strange. Authoritarian regimes are often considered as ‘democratic’, and vice versa. Again, try to imagine. You want your Western friends – whenever they visit your countries and want to make assessment – to be assured that you have implemented ‘democracy-friendly’ policies. You allow the opposition parties to have seats in parliaments – but at the same time you have hypnotized the electoral committee to manipulate the vote results, so that your own political party gets its highest place. You don’t want to lose power, because you’ve got too many things to ‘work on about this country’, and you are feared of others’ incompetencies.

To be honest, democracy has its own dangers. What if the people elect a handsome-but-can-not-think leader? Yes, some of the leaders may fear that. But, I could tell you, the others are more convinced about ‘obtaining large amounts of money’, so they may at all costs attempt anything possible to retain their power.

Let’s see from economy perspective. You have been appointed as new leader of your country. Now, assume you lead a poor country. A very poor country. You are now given three options:

A. all people in your country, including you yourself, must work hard together so that your nation will not be considered as ‘poor’ anymore. What about funding? Attract investors as many as you can! Modernize all the people. Teach the cannibalists to farm, and teach the workers to use machines. This is not impossible to achieve, but nations have rarely conducted such these things so far. See Japan and Israel.

B.  you remember your old friends. They are smart, they are ambitious, and they have sources of funds. Let’s give the number, a dozen, for example. You assign this dozen of people, each given priorities in certain sectors. And, in the conclusion, you’re creating oligarchy. Doing such kind of things may present its own risks: they can do whatever they like to earn maximum profits. Economy is growing every year, but many people remain poor. See those developing countries.

C. ‘prosperity’ is your only modus operandi to run your authoritarian rule. You impose policies as you like, and you don’t care whether people like these policies or not. (because democracy is strictly prohibited, people have no other choice, but to ‘like’ the policies, just like Facebook ‘like’ menu, in which you can’t ‘dislike’ one thing.) You distribute your political power to your family. Maybe you appoint your wife’s who’s who as Ministry of AAA, your second wife’s son as Secretary of BBB, or your brother as Commissioner of CCC, Inc. In the end, nobody but your family controls your country. See those African countries, and a few in Asia, and few elsewhere.

And the common answer is B. Most of the leaders indirectly opt ‘B’ as the correct answer. You are willing to improve your country, you are willing to improve your nation’s standards, but at the same time, you yourself also concentrate on your own ‘personal agenda’.

These leaders are undecided whether they should focus more on public, or personal, interests. They want to show their countries are ‘influential’ in the eyes of the economists, or the multinational companies, but at the same time they also want to exhibit their own wealth. They want to obtain assets. They want to have shares in companies.

End of the lesson for ‘oligarchy and kleptocracy’.

Shift to another topic. This time, please imagine yourself as a chauvinist. When you were small, you had been fueled by your ‘ultra-nationalist’ thoughts. You consider your nation as superior, the only nation who has authorities to do this and to do that. Now, you are a leader. You lead a big nation, and you have ambition to conquer the entire world. In order to become the strongest and most powerful nation in the world, you need to have weaponry. Bamboos, machetes, spears are not the right choice compared to the fighter jets, tanks, warships, destroyers, and submarines. You need to have a strong, inseparable union of armed forces. Then, you take your people’s hearts. You gather all the best and the brightest people to improve your people. You impose strict rules on people. You wish the young men to get enlisted in the army and ‘crucify’ their lives for the sake of their nation, while you want the young girls to work in factories, or raise the kids in order to be prepared as troops and defenders of the nation. You claim people of other ethnicities, or races, or nationalities as your ‘main enemies’, and you are really, really willing, to obliterate them. You gather people, and you endlessly chant prayers of propaganda to the people to believe that people of other origins from our own are the real enemies, and need to be wiped off the planet. After years and years of propaganda, suddenly you see your people are turning into ‘zombies’. Religious places are boycotted, businesses owned by ‘not-my-nationality’ groups are looted, and your army is turning much more sadistic than before. Again, years and years after, you have created such almost-impossible-to-defeat army, and you prepare an invasion to other countries. You see other countries as ‘having much more potential natural resources which can make our country be more feared at global stage assume we have ousted their governments’, and you relentlessly invade them.

By doing so, you are being faced to three probabilities. Here they are:

A. You are a ‘warfare genius’. You have been continuously thinking about ‘the best solutions, the best solutions, and the most effective solutions’ to oust the governments, and install puppet states in leaps and bounds. You settle large proportions of your population to the new puppet states, and you begin implementing policies which either directly or indirectly lead to the ‘termination’ of other nationalities.

B. You are not a genius, but at least you have ambition. You still have many other geniuses who are extremely loyal to you. And you may rely on them to conquer other nations. You may simply do this and do that, and tell them to expand your own ideas.

C. Again, you are an authoritarian leader. You are even ruthless to your own people. You behave too ‘iron-handed’ on your own nation. You use military as an option to fix up your people, and other nations as well.

If nationalism is pumped into everyone’s minds, in a small dose, that may enhances your country to improve better and better than before. But, just like medicine, if it is given to someone extending the limit it should be, it could turn up very disastrous. You may face two probabilities: your nation turns up too brutal, be willing to grill anybody other than your own nationality, or other nations – particularly, those who are much more powerful than us – may end up smashing us to smithereens. You could be charged for ‘crimes against humanity’, and as a result, you would have ‘free flight’ to Den Haag, and you could stay in the ‘no-cost hotel’ for life. Or you could get executed.

End of the lesson for ‘ultra-nationalism’.

If you are a leader, please be wise to all the people in your country. Get inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, or JFK, or Lincoln, or every leader else in the world who, according to you, have contributed very much for the betterment of the world, despite a few misdeeds.

I don’t care what methods you are going to use to treat your people. But, please note that do everything not only for the sake of your own nation. We share this planet – this single, priceless planet – together with other nations. The most important thing is, make use of your country and this planet greatly.

You may have forgotten all the contents of this note, but please, in the closing sentence, don’t forget my statement, “UNLESS YOU ARE A PURELY 100% REAL LEADER, DON’T NOMINATE YOURSELF IN ANY POLITICAL ELECTIONS. DON’T PUT YOUR PEOPLE’S LIVES AT STAKE.”

Confessions of A Storywriter

I had many dreams when I was still in childhood. Firstly, my main dream was ‘when I had grown up, I want to be an architect’. Wrong. I was not that great in Mathematics (especially in Physics), and my designs were overall awkward, and lifeless. (imagine you’re in a Communist country, and observe the square-shaped apartments which may make you feel humdrum) Then, as times went by, I aspired to become a surgeon. To know deeper about human anatomy was one of my main fascinations during those Primary-school days. Again, a big mistake. A bit phobic of blood, and fear of any ‘surgical failures’, suddenly made me cease my dream, once again. I also wished to become a cartoonist, to spin a yarn about social issues in forms of comic books, but again I failed. After I showed them to my parents, they told me, “Dull, awkward (the characters were physically awkward, because I just simply drew circles as their faces, straight vertical lines as their bodies, and horizontal lines as their hands and limbs), and unfunny.”

Life is just sometimes awesome – and weird. Sometimes you don’t need to dream something to come true; in some moments, it is instead the dream that comes to you yourself. I had been writing ‘unfinished’ novels when I was in 4th Primary (unfortunately, I had thrown the books somewhere into the trash, 4 years ago), all in full – and a bit broken – English. About a business thriller, as far as I could recall, about the brutal business competition, some kind of that. You know what, I was at that time inspired by Hong Kong TV serials my mom frequently bought in markets! But, as time goes by, the story was just getting weirder than before, as if the ending kept on being postponed, postponed, and, that’s the result.

In the first year of Junior High School, I subsequently ‘fell in love’ with Microsoft Word (attention: no intention to promote any Microsoft products). I also began writing stories, as usual, still ‘freshly’ inspired by those TV serials, but after a year, I once again failed to accomplish the stories. The stories, for me, were some sorts of half-baked ideas, not ‘freshly baked’ from my mind. In the second year, I shifted from much ‘serious’ matters into ‘teeny’ matters. I focused on fantasy genre, inspired by The Lord of The Rings. I intended to make the book thousand pages thick each, and I planned to make a trilogy. During the period, that was the time I began to imagine everything much further, from creating fantasy worlds, languages, fictional creatures, and everything based on my own which was imaginary in this universe. But, a year after, I began feeling bored with my fantasy world, as I thought that things were getting too irrational, were too much far away from the reality. I shifted from ‘idealistic writing’ to ‘realistic writing’, in which I prefer writing about contemporary social issues facing us today.

Let me tell you, writing novels is a very thoroughly intricate process. In the midst, there may come out intriguing temptations to force you to stop writing novels, as you haven’t reached the climax. But writing novels is not like cooking an instant noodle. In order to create such a great book, you will need firstly research, writing process, finding a publisher, and editing. Research may be in a few weeks (minimum requirement), or even a few years (to produce maximum satisfaction for the readers). Writing is a difficult process, as I admit it. I encountered many obstacles during the writing process, like, using any complicating vocabulary so that the novels would be more ‘cool’, thinking of what would happen to the characters in the future (especially, what events suit the most), and most important, how the stories would end.

I never expect to obtain any prestigious literary prizes, like Pulitzer, or Nobel, or Man Booker, whatsoever. Although, I confess, sometimes I dream about having my name cast in one of these awards, or three of them. Oh, I don’t have to dream that too much. There are actually many great authors whose novels receive raving reviews all the time, but never get their names cast in one of these prizes. From my own perspective, a real author is someone who never writes only to obtain such honor, but a real author is someone who writes from his or her own heart, from his or her own feelings, and deeply, from his or her own thoughts about the existing world.

In order to become a successful novelist, firstly, you have to read novels. That’s what the successful novelists themselves say. But, so far, I read only two novels. Firstly, it was The Road, written by Cormac McCarthy. It was a truly heartbreaking novel, set in a post-apocalyptic world as an unnamed catastrophe terminated most of the life forms on Earth, leaving very few people to survive. The story mainly focused on a dad and his only son (both were only named ‘The Father’ and ‘The Son’ throughout the story) who had to struggle days by days to survive from those few people who have turned themselves into cannibalists, as something had inhibited the sunlight from coming into the planet, and hence, there were massive crop failures worldwide, which caused massive riots and massacres. The other one was The White Tiger, written by Aravind Adiga, about the ‘wild side’ of Indian societies (read my previous book review for those who haven’t).

You don’t have to start from writing a novel, if you think that is too complicating. You can start writing somewhere. I don’t care whether you use ‘Write a Note’ facility on Facebook, or starting a blog, or writing some articles in websites, the best method to develop your writing skills is start writing. Start writing somewhere. Write, in whatever languages, doesn’t matter. If you’re good in English, then try your best in English. But, if you prefer Indonesian literature, then just write in Indonesian (don’t get scared; foreigners may translate your work into many languages). If you are great in both English and Mandarin, it is even better if you apply them in your writing. Try to express your feelings, your thoughts, something fascinating or irritating or frightening or touching in your life, but always try your best not to insult others’ feelings.

Let me tell you, when the topic you are writing comes to politics or something regarded as ‘sensitive issue’, you need to be careful. Some segments of the societies might just get discontented with what you are writing about, and they may consider you as their ‘enemy for a lifetime’. See, what’s happening to Salman Rushdie. After having The Satanic Verses published, many of the Muslims condemned his work and even called for ‘decapitation’, due to the content which – according to them – insulted Muhammad The Prophet (the author is Muslim, and had self-identity crisis). I myself had not personally bought this book, but it just made me more curious.

You don’t have to start from serious topics, like what I am doing. You can write anything, anything that fascinates or affects your life. Maybe you can write about your daily life in blog, or write something awesome that makes many people put a smile at your work. You can write jokes, anecdotes, or something informative about things many people have never heard before. Technology is getting much more advanced, people are getting ‘better’ than ever – although many people are slowly demoralized and more are ending up rattle-brained by committing misdeeds – so just enjoy this life. Write what you like, but please know about the limits on which you should write and which you should not.

If you are writing novels, you can write whatever you like. You can write any Twilight-inspired vampire-story copy-cats if you would like to; if you are interested in any ‘teen romance’, then just write them, and a lot of teenagers – as I hope – will like your stories. Thriller, that’s okay; make sure the stories you are writing are atmospherically intense and tautening. Historical fiction, that means you are knowledgeable; make sure you won’t create any events, on your own, which never happened, and will never, in the past. Write rationally, don’t exaggerate. Don’t write about ‘a Japanese invasion in Poland which marked World War II’; that’s NAZI’s, not the Japs’.Write a sci-fi story, and you have to be extremely imaginable; it is not science fiction if you don’t write anything irrational there. Imagine how the aliens look like, how other planets would be, how civilizations would be in thousand years to come, whether they are using nuclear-powered microwaves or fusion-powered light-speed cars or not, or how many megalopolises will arise far in the future. Be as creative as possible. Imagine if men could create domed cities under the oceans, or space stations, or even planet-sized space structures. If you write fantasy, try to create fantasy worlds. What creatures you’re going to make, whether they are dragons, or Orgs, or the hybrid of Greek gods and goddesses, for example, Medusa-faced Zeus; in fantasy, everything should be irrational. Maybe in your own fantasy novel, it could be like a better-than-Earth Venus, or the gigantic world named Jupiter where billions, or trillions, or even quadrillions, of god-like creatures live in, or even a galaxy beyond our knowledge where super-organisms with supernatural abilities dwell in. It could be whatever. You can create your own races, your own humanoids, your own cultures, or even religions, languages, towns, cities, or anything.

If you are writing non-fiction, try to write as genuine as the reality is. If you are a reporter, try to write like Ryszard Kapuscinski (personally, I have even never read one of his books). Wikipedia says (not me) that he has been considered worldwide as one of the most respected journalists of the century, who would travel to countries for months to report about the latest events happening in those countries. He has published many books, of which all were about his reportage on those countries. But most of the countries he travelled in were war zones, like African countries. If you want a ‘better’ position, why don’t you just be a travel writer? Prepare everything on a shoestring, explore to the countries that you want, read more information from other travel books, from other senior fellows who were a few dozen times much more experienced. Experience the countries you visit, the cultures, the people, the sceneries, everything you know about them! If you favor fashion, write anything fascinating about the latest fashion trends. About what products Coco Cenel, I’m sorry, Coco Chanel has recently launched. Or if you consider yourself ‘sports analyst’, then write anything interesting about the sports. There are many things in sports you can afford to write, for example, football, badminton, tennis, Wimbledon, Thomas & Uber Cup, Olympiade, boxing, soccer, golf, or those world-class athletes. If you like to ‘mind’ other people’s businesses, you can try to write articles about their businesses. If you like to motivate people, then write inspiring articles (to learn more, please ‘like’ Mario Teguh’s fan page, but it’s all in Indonesian). If you are a teacher, or a knowledgeable teacher, as I can say, then write as much as you know about everything, and share it with your students. If you’re an self-dubbed, self-taught environmentalist, then try to write about any interesting events related to ecological and environmental issues our world is facing nowadays. If you favor automotive-related topics, then try to write about them. Maybe about the latest four-wheeled vehicles, or the latest Harley Davidson motor. If you want to share your hobbies, then try to write anything about your hobbies, and share them with others. If you want to focus more on ‘religious matters’, then try to write them, and enlighten people. You can use any kinds of media, be it blogs, or newspapers, or magazines, or even in forms of books.

Maybe the most difficult part of all is publishing. It is still far from ‘mission accomplished’ for me to have my novels published – I am even unsure how old I would have been by the time they are getting published. Things are always uncertain in the future. You never know what’s going to happen in the future, whether it’s good or bad. But, always enjoy every moment today, and always prepare for the worst. The most important part is perseverance. The more you persevere, the more you will be strong.

I’ve been writing this article for one and a half hours. I hope this article gives you a much wider perspective you view on this world. Thank you.

N.B.: – I am now writing novels, so would you be so kind to send your ‘application letter’ to my e-mail address that you are willing to read them? This is optional, and you don’t have to send it.

Hola! It seems that I forgot to mention my e-mail address! This is it:

hans_kc95@hotmail.com

Send your ‘application letter’ here, thank you!