Simon Cowell for Nobel Peace Prize!

You all might have been aware that a few days ago the Senate voted for the deadline of the US troops withdrawal from Iraq. It's been a nauseating issue for years, but with the prospect of a Democratic leadership, there's high hope that it shall be executed soon. If the Bush administration will use its veto right (as they've announced it), people can expect the withdrawal to start sometime next year. But I suspect the administration will have to find a compromising timetable. Bush's approval rating has been so low, and Condi Rice has been on the opposite side of the Hawkish league in many affairs -- the Mid East in particular.

Anyway, most people don't know what kind of battle takes place daily at the Capitol Hill. Up to now the Republicans have been fighting not to let the Iraq's issue weigh down the whole party. Believe me, as unpopular as they may look like from outside, the GOP is still very influential. And despite some different opinions of a number of Republican senators to Bush's policies, they always manage to come up in unison.

Then an almost unanimous Senate's stance on a controversial (even among the Republicans) is somewhat peculiar. Yesterday I found out the answer:


It's true! Well, to be exact: Sanjaya and the conservative Americans' latent fear on terrorism. To know what I mean, please click the video below. (Or follow this link).

Those who strive for peace on earth, raise your hand in favor of Simon Cowell's nomination for 2008's Nobel Peace Prize. The sinister guy has definitely envisioned what damage Sanjaya can cause to the current state of international relations. I myself am convinced that the video had managed to force the Republican spectators to change their mindset -- and helped oust Sanjaya for everyone's benefit (this time I can say: finally, there's justice done by the Republicans).

Now that Sanjaya has gone off American Idol, I would also suggest that somebody is kind enough to show Bush this video. It may well change his mind and thus result in Bush's compliance with the Senate's resolution. Something evil can occur should he insist exercising his veto right: Sanjaya being put back on stage!!!!


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I present to you....


The video showing her "playing the piano" has been swirling around in YouTube for several months. But, as usual, I just got to know that after seeing it on TV. No, she is not merely WALKING on the keys. She's actually sitting on the bench and hitting some keys, playing the similar tunes. She even plays in "duets" with her owner's pupils, hehehhe...

Ah, I love her even more for these facts:

1. I'm fond of cats. Always. In Indonesia, I would stop to rub street cats, and "pasar basah" cats. (Unfortunately here cats are kept at home *sniff sniff*).
2. We share our names! (My full first name, that is).
3. We share some characteristics (adorable and talented, hehehhe... well, this is MY blog, I can say whatever I want about myself *chuckle*).
4. Both us have that, er, cute round belly.
5. And, of course, we are into music.
6. We are camera lovers (though the camera doesn't always return our -- uhm, my -- love).
7. While I often tend to be indecisive, she's pretty consistent (she plays the same "song" over and over again, even in duets, regardless her partner's song *LOL*).

Check out her performance below, or just go directly to YouTube and type the keywords: The Piano-Playing Cat. Her video is on top of the list.

Judging by the video, we can say she's a pro, kekekekk...

Save our children!

It was a shocking news, yet it was apparent that it didn't make it big on the media. The American people were still mourning on the loss of 32 students in the Virginia Tech shooting tragedy, and everyone could care less about other things. Even the bombing that killed almost 200 people in Baghdad only got a few spectators, I guess.

It's a video about a twelve years old boy beheading an adult, accusing the victim to be a "US spy". Those who sent it to the AP Television News in Peshwar -- and circulated it around Pakistan, undoubtedly -- called themselves part of the Taliban militia group.

I am not going to debate about the authenticity of the video. Some may claim that it must be a slick trick of the Western countries and the enemies of Islam to ignite more hatred towards the Muslim world. Their opponents will cry out that this should reinstate the danger of the Islamic radical groups. The victim's father has appeared on television, saying that his son was indeed beheaded being alleged a traitor to the Taliban group. But to this day there is no official statement of the Taliban group on the video.

I have no idea why it seems like the news never showed up Indonesia, though UNICEF has issued a statement condemning it. Maybe there is a silent consensus among the media people to keep it under radar, so as to avoid controversies and prevent possible chaos. If so, kudos to them :).

Anyway, that is not my point.

My first introduction to underage soldiers was actually through that chilling movie, "The Killing Fields". I remember my outrage watching children reporting their own parents' whereabouts to the Khmer Rouge military, and their taking parts in their parents' execution. Several years went by, and I had forgotten the movie, until I read Luigi's previous post about the same issue, which really struck me. Luigi's post had kind of reopened my eyes to the sick reality in another part of the world, and Ishmael Beah's narrative in "A Long Way Gone" made me think long of the children victimized by wars and conflicts everywhere.

Ishmael told the readers how he got into the front line of the civil war in Sierra Leone. For him, it was the question of staying alive, though he once lost his reason to live as his entire family was killed by the rebel group. The military managed to induce this thought to him, practically brainwashed him by telling him (and his peers) every second that fighting was the only way to take revenge for his family's deaths and to stop other children from being orphans like them. Of course, they were also drugged.

I have to say that Ishmael didn't dwell much on his experience in the war -- judging from the number of pages devoted to that particular part -- or how he underwent his recovery process, which is very understandable. I'm quite sure that even now, when he's already safely tucked in the US, breathing air of freedom, and enjoying celebrity life *winks* he still has his occasional nightmares.

While TV documentaries, some news, and articles on child soldiers are available, as well as reports made by the UN and NGOs, I don't think enough attention is given to this serious issue. "The children are our future" remains a meaningless slogan amidst a number of international conventions, the most important one being the Optional Protocol to UN's Convention on the Right of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. One striking fact: the report made by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers
disclosed that after the US ratified the Protocol in 2002, the US Army still deployed 62 soldiers aged 17 in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2003 and 2004 (though this practice has stopped by the end of 2004, further details of the report are here) -- I wonder whether Americans, with their strict domestic regulations to protect children, are aware of this. Well, similar practices can still be found in any conflict area, including in, yes, Indonesia. Nevertheless, the Protocol has a loophole surprisingly so obvious: Article 3 that gives exemption for state parties from the restriction to use allegedly child soldier on the condition that (a) Such recruitment is genuinely voluntary; (b) Such recruitment is carried out with the informed consent of the person's parents or legal guardians;(c) Such persons are fully informed of the duties involved in such military service; and (d) Such persons provide reliable proof of age prior to acceptance into national military service. YIKES! This is even worse than our national laws!

OK, enough with the lengthy lecture on those legal aspects. It's more important, anyway, to focus on the children.

Children involved in conflict -- voluntarily or forced -- will likely have difficulties in adapting to a peaceful environment. They are often drawn into, and sometimes create, dangerous chaos . Their anxiety, once channeled through violence at wars, slowly consume them. If the city kids who are exposed to violence in action movies and electronic games can turn into killing machines, those who actually commit it will -- at least theoretically -- have higher possibility. Should this not be carefully handled, in the long run they might generate, as Edsye Nana labels it, the victim's victims.

It's especially difficult in post-conflict time as this requires taking care of the children AND the community. Emotional wounds still need to heal; conflicting parties need to cast aside their ego to provide conducive environment for children to, well, heal. EGO. EGO. Hm. I remember a short story in one of Romo Brouwer's article, about a mother who had forced her son to step on his father's blooded shoes. It was a mandate to take revenge of the family's enemy who had killed the father. It's not an alien concept.
In the litany of baseless blind justice, parents may have victimized their own kids without realizing it. BUT we, we, we can do something to fix it. IF we are willing and committed to.


Penggalan sms adik saya:

"... Mending jangan tidur subuh-subuh, ama kurangin ngopi, sis. Aku sekarang lagi berenti ngerokok nih, tapi ngopinya belum bisa :(".

Yayaya, kalau tidur subuh sih sudah tidak lagi, soalnya akhir-akhir ini gampang mengantuk, seiring dengan sedikit menyempitnya pakaian, hehehhee...

Eh, dia berhenti merokok? Kok bisa?

Balasannya atas pertanyaan saya:

"Hehehehe... selain penghematan, juga ada tanda-tanda pregnancy nih... Jadi buat jaga-jaga toh :). Tapi kok perasaan daya tangkap jadi berkurang ya sejak berenti roken :(. Gak fokus tepatnya!"

Huaaaaaa...!!!! Akhirnyaaaaa... saya bakal jadi tante betulan! Tante kandung!

Aih, sayang, betul sekali keputusanmu itu. Tidak apa-apa kan tidak fokus, tidak lama kok, paling-paling dua tahun saja. Lagipula dengan demikian kamu kan menjadi semakin modern ;).

Medan Perang Bernama Sekolah

Masih panas masalah IPDN di tanah air, di sini terjadi peristiwa mengguncangkan, penembakan di kampus Virginia Tech yang menewaskan 32 orang mahasiswa dan staf, dan melukai 30 orang lain. Di sela-sela mengawal sejumlah delegasi dari Jakarta, semua pesawat televisi dihidupkan dan telepon dilakukan untuk memantau situasi. Mengetahui bahwa ada 14 mahasiswa Indonesia berkuliah di Virginia Tech, badan langsung melemas. Dan benar, pagi ini diperoleh kepastian bahwa salah satu korban adalah saudara sebangsa, Partahi Lumbantoruan, yang sedang mengambil gelar Ph.D-nya. (Ah! Teman sekampung juga!)

Kronologinya silakan baca sendiri di situs surat-surat kabar. Yang jelas, semua berita menggambarkan pelakunya dengan tenang menyemburkan peluru dari senjata di tangannya sebelum akhirnya menembak dirinya sendiri. Hebatnya, ia membagi penembakan dalam dua "shift" yang berselang dua jam! Perbedaan dua jam inilah yang memicu kemarahan para mahasiswa Virginia Tech, karena merasa pihak kampus tidak cukup cepat melakukan tindakan preventif. Peringatan pertama tentang adanya penembakan diterima polisi kampus pukul 7:15 pagi, dan email pertama kepada seluruh mahasiswa pukul 9:26.

Peristiwa yang sekarang tercatat sebagai pembunuhan massal di institusi pendidikan terbesar dalam sejarah AS ini tak pelak lagi mengingatkan pada peristiwa serupa di Columbine High School tahun 1999. Kesamaan ini akan makin mencolok, pelaku pembantaian di V Tech adalah mahasiswa sekolah itu juga.

Ironis sekali. Baru beberapa bulan sebelumnya para mahasiswa V Tech dan orang tua mereka ketakutan karena seorang narapidana kabur dikabarkan berada di sekitar kampus tersebut. Ternyata pencabut nyawa justru salah satu dari antara mereka sendiri. Persis Columbine.

Saya jadi bertanya-tanya: ada apa dengan kampus? Ada apa dengan menjadi pelajar?

"Schools should be places of safety and sanctuary and learning. When that sanctuary is violated, the impact is felt in every American classroom and every American community".

Itu bunyi pernyataan resmi Bush. Eh, biarpun dia musuh bersama banyak orang di dunia (termasuk di negaranya sendiri, heheheh...), kata-katanya betul sangat. Dan menusuk, karena kenyataannya sekarang sekolah memang tidak lagi jadi sanctuary.

Saya teringat kembali IPDN. Kemudian anak SD yang mencoba bunuh diri karena malu tidak bisa membayar uang sekolahnya, yang besarnya hanya senilai ongkos parkir di Jakarta. Totto-Chan yang lebih suka melihat keluar jendela kelas. Dan ketidaknyamanan saya sendiri di masa sekolah dasar dan menengah dulu. Coba saya ingat-ingat apa yang membuat saya tidak nyaman. Teman-teman yang rasanya kurang menerima? Kurang percaya diri karena berbadan besar? (Hehhehe... malah jadi curhat.)

Ketika makin banyak ketidakpastian di luar sana, sekolah sih idealnya menjadi tempat memperoleh jawaban dari berbagai pertanyaan. Setidaknya menjadi tempat berbagi pikiran. Tapi bagaimana kalau sekolah ternyata malah menambah beban? Para guru cuma punya waktu menjejalkan berbagai materi karena sibuk berkutat dengan masalahnya sendiri? Kawan sebaya yang mencari jatidiri dengan unjuk kekuatan semu (dan mungkin untuk menutupi kegamangannya sendiri)?

Kemudian kita juga seolah disesatkan bahwa kekerasan (bisa) menjadi cara terbaik penyelesaian persoalan. Coba bayangkan, si pelaku (yang masih muda ini, 23 tahun) memicu senjatanya dengan kekaleman seseorang yang sedang memainkan Mortal Kombat. Bedanya sasarannya sekarang roboh dengan lumuran darah, dan tidak ada angka pencapaian yang muncul. Dalam dunia hiburan, film-film besutan Quentin Tarantino dianggap memperlihatkan kejenialan justru karena menampilkan kekerasan, dengan "seni". Kekerasan sebagai bentuk sofistikasi? Hm.

Di tengah ekspose kekerasan yang berlangsung terus dan demikian deras, institusi pendidikan sebenarnya memiliki tugas untuk ikut meredamnya. Faktanya ya tidak demikian. Bahkan dalam institusi pendidikan kerap justru ditemui bibit-bibit kekerasan dalam berbagai bentuknya, mulai verbal sampai tindakan fisik, yang belum tentu bisa dikontrol sekolah. Lihat saja contoh Columbine dan IPDN.

Karena itu juga saya bisa memahami kecemasan dan kebingungan seorang teman ketika puteri tunggalnya memasuki usia sekolah. Dengan pertimbangan bahwa sang puteri kelak akan lebih banyak menghabiskan waktu di sekolah, tidak heran bahwa ia berpikir sekolah setidak-tidaknya harus mampu memberikan perhatian yang seimbang dengan yang selama ini diberikannya. Dan ini tentu tidak mudah, apalagi murah :(.

Saya ingin tahu, apakah di sekolah-sekolah dasar dan menengah fungsi psikolog (jaman saya dulu, guru BP) benar-benar dimaksimalkan. Saya ingat, atas permintaan ibu saya, guru BP di SD saya kerap memberikan semangat pada saya untuk menulis (walaupun sarannya agar saya mencoba mengirim tulisan ke majalah anak-anak tidak pernah terwujud, sampai sekarang :p). Berapa banyak guru saat ini yang cukup punya waktu untuk memperhatikan perubahan-perubahan sikap seorang anak, bahkan guru TK? Dan berapa banyak orang tua yang cukup perhatian untuk benar-benar mengikutsertakan guru -- orang yang sehari-hari ditemui oleh anaknya -- dalam proses tumbuh-kembang anaknya?


Bill Clinton made Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)" his '92 presidential campaign theme. I still remember what Seventeen Magazine wrote about it in its eco-edition: it's a tribute to the era of radical changes, the flower generation, the swing to the other extreme of the pendulum. It's about saying out loud what you think and what you want. It's about trying everything. It's about revolution.

It's about the Vietnam War era.

Brilliant strategy, of course, since only in the previous year George Bush (Sr.) was at the peak of his popularity after the Persian Gulf War -- which many saw as a success in helping erase the Vietnam Syndromme. With a song from the Vietnam War era, not only did Clinton remind Americans about one of its most remembered foreign policy failures, but also portrayed himself as an agent of change. (And at the same time gave him justification for refusing to be sent to Vietnam).

Why not think about times to come,
And not about the things that you've done,
If your life was bad to you,
Just think what tomorrow will do.

Don't stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Don't stop, it'll soon be here,
It'll be, better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone.

That, a strong emphasis on economic issues (the catchy"It's the economy, stupid!"), the ability to take advantage of the fashion trend (back to '70s! With girls wearing bandanas, and long, frilly, flowery skirts combined with Doc Marts), and the charisma of course, he was all an irresistible package :).

What's the core issue of this year's presidential election?


The American people are sick with the constant fear. With the list of casualties in Iraq. With feeling isolated and being the global enemy. With THE global warming. So there's gotta be a switch of the modes of conduct. Because it's been on the wrong path.

Heroes are those with supernatural power, but who are also very humane. Did you notice that "Heroes" come from different backgrounds? The message: multilateral course. Not a Rambo who singlehandedly terminates his foes.

So my pick for the perfect tune for '08 election campaign theme will be Swing Out Sister's "Breakout".

When situations never change
Tomorrow looks unsure
Don't leave your destiny to chance
What are you waiting for
The time has come to make your break

Don't stop to ask
Now you've found a break to make at last
You've got to find a way
Say what you want to say

A new way to repair the damage that has been done. A breakout. And a breakthrough. Hm. A theme for our country too?

And if you were a presidential candidate, what would be your theme song?

Buku Habibie "Go Internasional (:p)"

Siapa sih editor buku Habibie yang setelah diterjemahkan judulnya jadi DECISIVE MOMENT'S?


itu tubuh
mengucur darah
mengucur darah

mendampar tanya : aku salah?

kulihat tubuh mengucur darah
aku berkaca dalam darah

terbayang terang di mata masa
bertukar rupa ini sgera

mengatup luka

aku bersuka

itu tubuh
mengucur darah
mengucur darah

(Chairil Anwar, 1943)

Orang-orang Tua (Bisa) Lebih Keren dari Orang Muda

Melongok isi blog Cawir yang diperkenalkan di sini, saya semakin terkagum-kagum pada para warga sepuh yang demikian bersemangat melakukan apa saja di usia yang semakin senja, dengan kemampuan fisik yang mungkin lebih rendah dari saya. Ah, tidak usah jauh-jauh. Walaupun sebal ketika harus berkali-kali mengulang cara menggunakan komputer dan internet kepada kedua orang tua saya, tapi dalam hati sebenarnya saya angkat topi pada kegigihan dan ketekunan mereka mempelajari hal yang baru untuk mereka itu. Walau mereka sih belum tua-tua amat, baru menjelang 60 dan 70 tahun, hehehhee....

Di sini saya pun menyaksikan dengan asyik orang-orang tua yang mandiri. Kerap kali tawaran saya untuk membawakan sebagian barang mereka ditolak. Secara positif saya anggap saja karena mereka berkeras ingin menunjukkan bahwa mereka masih mampu melakukan apa-apa sendiri tanpa bantuan pihak lain. Kendati mungkin saja karena tampang saya memang kurang bisa dipercaya... Juga sudah biasa saya melihat para pinisepuh ini menyetir kendaraannya dengan agak lambat dan membuat jengkel pengemudi mobil di belakangnya. Terkadang geli juga kala melintas mobil sport convertible dua pintu, namun yang berada di belakang kemudi seorang kakek. Yah, mungkin tanpa sadar saya sudah terjebak dalam stereotip tak perlu, misalnya seseorang yang sudah berusia di atas 50 tahun lebih cocok menyetir kendaraan bergaya "mapan", Mercedes misalnya, atau Cadillac. Padahal kalau dia mau, dan mampu membeli, silakan saja. Apalagi di negeri ini asuransi diwajibkan.

Manula yang melek komputer juga bukan hal aneh. Barangkali karena mereka terbiasa dengan berbagai perangkat yang digerakkan teknologi baru, mereka lebih cepat beradaptasi. Lain dengan di negara sendiri, kecuali kalau memang pekerjaan sehari-harinya bersentuhan dengan komputer. Dalam kunjungan singkat ke kantor Harian Indonesia beberapa tahun lalu, saya merasa takjub pada beberapa karyawan yang usianya lebih dari ayah saya, tapi mampu mengoperasikan komputer untuk huruf-huruf kanji. Bayangkan cara mereka menyesuaikan diri dari pencetakan manual yang menuntut ketelitian super karena harus menyusun balok-balok huruf, ke mesin yang juga menuntut keahlian baru.

Saya ingat jawaban mantan boss di sini waktu padanya ditanyakan apa yang akan dikerjakannya setelah memasuki masa pensiun. "Menulis, atau mengajar, atau apa sajalah. Pokoknya tidak diam di rumah. Bisa pikun saya nanti. Ndak mau saya!" tegasnya dengan logat Jawa yang kental. Mantan boss ini masih beruntung, karena seusai masa tugasnya di kantor pusat, beliau punya kesempatan bersibuk-sibuk dan menyibukkan diri. Tapi banyak kisah pensiunan yang terkaget-kaget dengan waktu lowong yang mendadak panjang serta tentunya penghasilan yang berkurang jauh.

Di negara yang jumlah tenaga kerjanya jauh melampaui lapangan kerja yang tersedia, tidak ada tempat untuk tenaga di usia "tidak produktif". Bahkan sebutan untuk mereka pun, buat saya, mengesankan pelecehan pada kemampuan mereka berkarya. Ya itu dia, misalnya, dengan menempatkan mereka pada kelompok usia "tidak produktif". Atau penyebutan usia "senja", bahkan olok-olokan "sudah bau tanah". Dalam hal ini, kita ternyata tidak terlalu sopan, hehehehe... Padahal orang Amerika semakin eufemis memberikan rujukan ke kalangan tersebut. Kalau tadinya mereka lebih sering disebut sebagai senior citizen, sekarang muncul lagi istilah seasoned people: mereka yang telah makan asam garam. Atau bisa juga mereka yang telah melewati berbagai musim. Istilah yang menyiratkan pengalaman, juga kewaskitaan.

Orang-orang tua pernah diberi tempat terhormat di struktur masyarakat kita. Sisa-sisanya mungkin terlihat di acara-acara adat, tapi ya cukup sekian. Buktinya kita memenjarakan mereka dengan stigma tidak produktif. Barangkali, barangkali kita berharap kita menunjukkan "bakti" dengan "memanjakan" mereka: jangan kerjakan apa-apa lagi. Sudah cukup kakek/nenek/opa/oma/yangkung/yangti membanting tulang di masa muda. Sekarang santai-santai saja, biar kami layani (padahal yang melayani ya pembantu juga, hehehhe...). Kita mungkin tidak memasukkan mereka ke panti werdha, dengan alasan kemanusiaan. Tapi kita juga menolak memasukkan mereka dalam payroll. Sistem perburuhan di Indonesia tetap diskriminatif kok. Memang ada perusahaan yang mau mempekerjakan tenaga "baru" pensiunan? Padahal, seperti kata Ibu Johanna Rothman, "Experienced technical people can provide your organization a maturity and perseverance some of the less seasoned people may not have." Atau dengan kata lain: orang-orang tua bisa lebih keren dari orang-orang muda! Hahhahaa... jangan-jangan malah itu yang ditakutkan ya?