How’s Twitter affecting your writing?

Netizens of twitter-verse may or may not have realized how Twitter affecting their sentences pattern. One of the most imminent indicator of twitter 140 character influencing our writing is the ubiquitous use of hashtag (#) which is meant to aggregate topics in twitter. More often than we noticed, hashtag has been exported across social media regardless of the necessity of doing so; just because we are so familiar in using it in twitterverse.

Second on the list is the twitter-related new words: tweet, retweet, mention (add a definition), twitterverse, big whale (verified user with more than 100K followers), and it also affecting the way we perceive the relations between a follower and a followed user. Should friend follow each other in twitter? Does ‘not following’ means that we are not friend anymore? And for some, counting the number of mentions, retweet, and favorited tweets has become another means of self-actualization.

Third, and final in my list, is our short and less-than-140-character or less-than-15 words-a-sentence grammatical style. See above and prove this point. Of course this is not for everyone. In a way it’s good to teach us how to make a concise sentences to get our points across. But, in a way, it may reduce our grammatical variation of short and long sentences, and simple and compound complex sentences.

Do you have anything to add to the list? 

Ananta Samakorn Throne Hall

Ananta Samakorn Throne Hall

Based on a recommendation from a Thai friend, I visited Ananta Samakorn Throne Hall in Dusit area. This European architecture building is home for magnificent works of arts from artisans of Queen Sirikit Institute.

Generally, the artworks are rich in details, embellished in gold and silver as well as greenish beetle-inspired color. Seeing through the art you can be inundated with the level of patience those works were created.

Several noteworthy collections are: the ancient embroidery technique depicting “Inay”–a folk tale by King Rama II. According to my friend, Inay is referring to the current Indonesia. This masterpiece come in 5 x 4 m dimensions dominated with pink color in the background and realistic embroidery for natural images, including humans.

The second master piece is the thick wood carving in two sided continuous story. I guess posting a picture of both arts can give thousand better words than mine. So, I truly recommend this place for tourists. WIth 150B (~5 USD) you can enter the hall and stand in awe while listening to the descriptions of the items in front of your eyes.

A Glimpse at the Island State

I have made bad judgments not once or twice but more. So, the following is subject to this pretext. 

I finally am visiting Singapore as of today. A city-island-country which Senior Minister, Lee Kwan Yew, was highly praised by American diplomat, Henry Kissinger, for his vision and achievement in help making today’s Singapore. That was my impression as well. Boarding MRT and buses here, I feel that Indonesia, my beloved country, has a lot to catch up to its small neighbor; small but beautiful. Stepping in the deck of Marina Bay, I witnessed the magnificent architecture masterpiece by a Canadian and Israeli–according to my architect friend (no, not Ted Mosby)–Marina Bay Sands.

Image

 

Though, I found something unnatural. My friend, Fredo–The Architect–mentioned the cleanliness (another way to put it: lack of trash). I accepted the premise for the moment. 

As we further walked this island state that used to be called Temasek, we got to the point where we can learn many lessons from Singapore’s development strategy. The second-best strategy if I recalled my class with Prof. D. Brautigam as Singapore emerged from “systemic vulnerability” likened to what also happened in South Korea and Taiwan. Simply put, economic development first and democracy sometimes later or–to the extreme–none at all. 

I guess it was this latter part that bugged me about Singapore. An example is needed here. There’s a regulation for everyone that we cannot drink–even water–within the MRT area. Meanwhile, there are omnipresent posters about a particular drink I don’t even remember its name in the platform. Is this by design? Are every citizens okay with this or do some people express their disagreement in private? For whatever reason, I do think that the Singaporeans, well partially, bugged with this kind of issue so that elections polls in Aljunied district showed anomaly in the country’s election annals last year. The so called “opposition” party won the by-election in the district. Despite this fact, the status quo People’s Action Party is still the majority in the parliament and holder of the executive office of presidency.

A contemplation can be asked regarding this context: to what extend would you give up freedom of expression over the development level similar to Singapore? It’s a though one and there’s no correct answer. At different development level, society might want different things altogether. 

Whether my judgment is amiss, I don’t know; but possibly time and news will help us understand. 

SAISers met at Bangkok Restaurant: Cabbages and Condoms

One evening in Bangkok, my friends from SAIS Johns Hopkins University who are spending summer time in Thailand got together for dinner. One who recently graduated from MIPP program, Matthias, recommend that we should go to this restaurant called Cabbages and Condoms. I never heard anything about that place until recently. For a restaurant, Cabbages make a lot of senses, but Condoms? And why would those two nouns next to each other for a restaurant’s name?

Apparently, the owner is more of visionaire than I thought he was. The reason he named the restaurant Cabbages and Condoms is to suppport campaign for safe sex and anti-HIV in Thailand. As quoted from their website, Cabbages and Condoms defines itself as:

Our restaurant was conceptualized in part to promote better understanding and acceptance of family planning and to generate income to support various development activities of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA)

We also provide catering services to meet all requirements. And remember, our food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy.”

 

 Image

The menus are regular Thai dishes. You can find tom yam kung, papaya salad, tofu and mushrooms, mangos and others. What captured my attention, in addition to the small christmassy lights decoration, was several wall lamps that are placed well above our heads. What’s special about those lamps? Well, while it fulfills the illumination function, some people would be either excited and disgusted at the same time because of those lamps were heavily decorated with layers upon layers of condoms. One of the condom-lamp is look like this:

 Image

 

But, we were not disturbed by these decorations. Our conversation evolved around SAIS, DC, and our activities in Bangkok. There are two UN interns (Juni and Sohee), US Embassy intern (Anne), Newly graduate who join Rotary Conflict and Resolution Program (Matthias), future diplomat for Thailand’s Foreign Ministry (Koi), ISIS Chulalongkorn intern (myself), and Sohee’s friend (Ton). Once we obliterated the foods, we try our luck in the condoms-sex spinning wheel. But before we left the table, and the manager made sure that we paid our foods first, each and every one of us were given a pack of condom. Goes who brought three back home? lol

Image

 

 

 Image

(Better be protected, right?)

The restaurant also provided souvenirs for those willing to contribute to the campaign. The kind of souvenirs, you asked? Varies. If you are around Bangkok, you better check the restaurant.  Cabbages and Condoms is located just few hundred meters from Asok BTS station in Sukhumvit Road soi 12. Approximately 10-12 minutes by BTS from Siam area.  

An Escape in Hua-Hin part 2

Earlier story is here.

Arriving in Hua-Hin was felt like a huge relief. Imagine you were on a heavily turbulent flight and finally landing, but this time it was not a plane, a minivan instead! For some and many reasons, walking was unprecedentedly fun after that ride with a bravados minivan driver.

I heard from a friend before that Hua-Hin was much a quieter place compare to compact Pattaya Beach. That’s the perfect reason why I chose Hua-Hin. 

Before I can enjoy the beach, I decided to secure my way back to Bangkok first. Of course minivan is off my list. The much preferred means of transport for this time is train. The famous Hua-Hin train station is only 300-500 meters from where the minivan stop.

Image

The trip back to Bangkok is at least four hour ride. And since AC-ed and economy class were on the same concatenation, I always opt for the cheaper. However, at the fare gate, the officer said that the economy is not available for the train that would be leaving from 4.00 pm. My other option is an economy train. Sadly, the train would depart at 2.00 pm. It means that I have four hours to wander. Not so fast! He also said that I have to return to the train station at 1.00 to purchase the ticket. What?! That’s seem very inefficient! But, well, with limited Thai language ability, I guess I can’t effectively complain. 

Alright then, let’s utilize the next three hours up to its maximized point! (Sound very economics, heh?)

Thank God, that satani rot fai (train station) is only ten minutes walk from the nearest shore. So, in no time I found myself exposed to the limitless horizon. The clear blue sky may not had been there, but the sea wind, the sound of waves after another crashing the khaki sand, and the long shore are there to welcome me. 

Image

It’s true what people said that you can wash your worries and stress away with the retracting wave.  

The Hua-Hin beach has a long shore and there’s a small hill at the end with a small temple. Walking in the shore or riding a horse with 300 baht for 30 minutes are the options you can do with limited budget. If you have more to spend, staying at one of the resorts is also a great idea. 

Image

Image

I spent my three hours walking alongside this shore taking pictures. But then I regret the fact that I was only arrive after 10.00 am. While, all photographers know that, the best picture is at 8-9 am and around 4.00 in the afternoon. Nevertheless, I was still enjoying my sunbath, if you can call it that way. I did hope that I brought my swimwear so that I can taste the warmth of clear sea water. 

Image

 

When I write this, I realize that putting everything into words is very challenging. Therefore, I let the pictures do it works. 

Sometime around noon, the beach is very quite as people are moving into restaurants or some place less humid. The same goes for me. I headed back to the train station to check on the fare.  This time it’s a different officer. She told me that the ticket for economy class only available 30 minutes before the train depart. What a letdown!

Meanwhile, the other visitors were happy enough taking pictures in the station.

Image

For me? I walked into the next door cafe. Not long after my coffee is ready, I saw a train arriving. It was not 2.00 pm yet. In fact, it’s still around 1.00. Confused and not wanting to stranded even longer, I sipped my hot coffee and run for the train without the ticket. I asked the security of the train to confirm that the destination of the train is Bangkok. When he nodded, I hopped in after he said I could come aboard and pay for 44 baht fare to him. An honest man, I think. If it was in Indonesia, I would have been charged double the price at least.

Finally, there I was sitting in an economy cabin with few fans and two older women in front of my seat. One treat in riding an economy cabin is that the people are more chatty and not so confined to their gadgets. Despite my lack of language understanding, I did enjoy riding to Bangkok with them. In fact, one in particular made sure that I got into the right bus after the train arrived in Thonburi Station.   

10 steps Myanmar must take

The so-called best scenario for reform and development. Yet, how many countries have successfully follow through? Not much!

Global Public Square

By Suzanne DiMaggio and Priscilla Clapp

Editor’s note: Suzanne DiMaggio is vice president of global policy programs at the Asia Society. Priscilla Clapp is a retired minister counselor in the U.S. Foreign Service and former Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Burma. The views expressed are their own.

The still nascent transition in Myanmar has emerged as one of the most promising efforts at democratization in the world today. After more than half a century of brutal, debilitating military rule, the country is in the process of a calculated top-down course reversal, which has unleashed a bottom-up awakening of political, economic, and civil society activity.

Notwithstanding the progress to date, from now until the next general election in 2015 the country’s reform leaders – including former general turned President Thein Sein, parliamentarian and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, and speaker of parliament’s lower house Thura Shwe…

View original post 980 more words

The New Southeast Asia Regional Organization: HAZEan

(Singapore, source: Asia Society http://asiasociety.org/files/130623_pod_singapore.jpg)

I remember back in 1995 when I was in third grade in local elementary school in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, Indonesia, I had to wear a masker to my school that was only 500 meter from my house. The reason? It was the haze.

Almost two decades later–18 years to be exact–the problem seems to be at its sustainable stage. The capitals of three initial five ASEAN countries are blanketed with this hazardous smoke haze coming from burned forest in Riau, Indonesia. But, The Indonesian government  doesn’t want to be the culprit for this problem because they are not the sole contributor to the problem. Recent report has surfaced several companies based in Malaysia and Singapore are also actively involve behind the smoke screen. 

Burning forest is still perceived as the cheapest and fastest way to clear up a forest area that will be transformed into, most likely, plantations. Of course, the cost of environmental damage, health issue, and potential diplomatic relations frictions are not within the cost function of whatever companies operating in Riau. 

If any government were to intervene in this supposedly self-correcting market mechanism, then the Indonesian government is the one, but not exclusively the only one. Regulation to strict any companies, domestic or foreign, to resort to this dangerous-to-the-environment means of clearing up the land must be set up. So does for the foreign companies operating within Indonesian government jurisdiction. 

(Kuala Lumpur, source: http://fz.com/sites/default/files/styles/section_list_article/public/20130623_PEO_KL%20HAZE3_MSY_1.jpg)

Malaysia’s effort to help put out the fire and Singapore’s proposal to do so must be perceived as good intention albeit intervention to sovereignty as friends and neighbors in ASEAN. If the Indonesian government does not want foreign states to roam the forest in Riau to help, then they better do it themselves since Indonesian people in Sumatra are seriously suffocating as well.

One challenge in Indonesia, however, is which level of government should really held accountable? There’s no clear measure. But, since this is a recurrent issue even since the late President Soeharto was still in power, I am of opinion that the responsibility is greater for Riau Provincial Government. The devolution of power from the central government following transition to democracy has decentralized power and responsibilities from Jakarta to provincial governments. However, since it’s no longer a domestic issue, a strong coordination and collaboration between provincial government and Jakarta must be forged to solve this issue as quickly as possible. 

On the regional level, Foreign Minister of Singapore, K Shanmugam, will bring this issue on the next ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting in Brunei. Malaysia would be likely to follow suit. If the problem can be resolved, then ASEAN can be considered a preferable way to solve regional issues. If not, then the three countries mostly affected by haze have let the issue to consume their regional and bilateral relations. To think that human-made disaster such as haze to overpower ASEAN 3, they should have just called themselves HAZEAN.

In fact, above all else, haze is seem to be the only real physical glue that bound the people of Malaysia, Singapore, and (western part of) Indonesia. 

(Pekanbaru-Capital of Riau Province, Indonesia–source: http://media.viva.co.id/thumbs2/2013/06/21/210979_riau-diselimuti-kabut-asap-akibat-kebakaran-hutan-_663_382.jpg)

Beasiswa ke Universitas Oxford untuk Pelajar Indonesia

For those who are considering continuing their education to Oxford

Indonesian Education and Culture Attaché in London

Berikut kami sampaikan informasi yang diterima oleh Atase Pendidikan, KBRI London, dari pihak Graduate Admissions and Funding, Universitas Oxford, terkait beasiswa tingkat Undergraduate, Master dan Doktoral yang dapat diajukan oleh Pelajar Indonesia ke Universitas Oxford, Inggris:

  1. The Clarendon Fund

    Merupakan program beasiswa terbesar di Oxford untuk mahasiswa pasca sarjana dan terbuka untuk semua warga negara di dunia. Sekitar 300 mahasiswa penerima beasiswa Clarendon saat ini sedang belajar di Universitas Oxford, universitas tertua di Inggris dan terkenal No.2 tertua di dunia ini. Informasi lebih lanjut: www.clarendon.ox.ac.uk

  2. The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Scholarships:

    Link OCIS

  3. Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in Humanities:

    Link Ertegun Graduate Scholarship

  4. Chevening Scholarships:

    Link How to Apply Chevening Scholarships

  5. Database Beasiswa yang tersedia di Universitas Oxford (terdapat lebih dari 400 beasiswa)

    www.graduate.ox.ac.uk/fundingsearch

  6. Informasi untuk International Students

    http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/international_students/index.html

  7. Beasiswa Reach Oxford Undergraduate, University of Oxford

    http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/undergraduate/fees-and-funding/oxford-support/reach-oxford-scholarship

Untuk informasi lain mengenai beasiswa di Inggris, silakan akses laman berikut: 

View original post 29 more words