Thursday, September 13, 2007

Those kilometers and the red lights / never looking left or right

How I know I’m in Indonesia Part 47.

I think the below picture, from our local hardware superstore, goes some way towards summing up this country, and is rather cool:


And then we have this. It seems that road deaths are very sadly soaring in Bali…some 370 already this year, up from, I understand, about 400 for the whole of 2006.

It’s a nasty jump and the local police boss says, quite rightly (in Balinese I guess):

The increasing number of vehicles crowding Bali's roads and a general disregard for traffic rules has resulted in the current very high casualty rates.

There is no doubt that the swarming traffic congestion on the island from dawn to after midnight every day, does play a very big part in the gore and the traffic rules…well I’ll get to that.

However the whole story then takes this incredible turn…the police chief then offers as a solution:

The Chief of Police said the hoped Bali's lawmakers would seriously explore introducing a monorail, subway or toll road as means of reducing the massacre on Bali's roadways.

Apa? Seriously…..on an island which has suffered a couple of major terror attacks, and in a transport system where the maintenance crews, if they exist, are unable to keep the light-bulbs working in the traffic lights (at least 40% are always down), the proffered solution seems to be a subway or, incredibly, a monorail. Or, a toll road.

What do all these things have in common…they require lots of cash to be thrown around….which I suppose benefits the island, or, ahhh, sectors of it.

But will they, in the wild la la land that they are actually implemented, have any impact on the death of course not. One can make the reasonable assumption that Balinese are not going to give up the Honda for, what will be, a pricey monorail that may or may not work. One only needs to look at Bangkok to see that the locals generally steer clear of such things. And getting tourists to go down to a subway???

One would also imagine there are far more obvious things that can be done to drop the road toll rather more quickly.

Firstly, enforce the road rules….although first up we all need to know exactly what they are. Nobody seems to know, the police certainly don't unless there is cash involved, and what there are seem to be rather optional. So, if there are road rules, perhaps letting every one know precisely what they are may help..maybe a simple road code or the like, handed out at schools and on the roads.

A right hand rule is pretty universally basic to any nation where the populace drives on the left, so that might be a good idea. Oh and some basic education…perhaps on free TV, during the multitude of soaps, about looking before you turn in to traffic; and using indicators instead of waving a limp hand out the window; and the dangers of car meeting motor cycle; vehicle testing (good cashflow there); instruction on the art of giving way and letting someone in; and the correct way to approach a pedestrian don't accelerate, and from time to time, you stop.

Sadly the only roles our police seem to undertake on the roads is a) extracting cash from tourists and bul├ęs for “traffic infringements”, b) stopping the traffic for very important people, and c) relentless drivers license checkpoints, which are all rather pointless since everybody buys their driver’s licence from the Polda anyway, but I guess raise some ready roadside cash. One policeman recently wanted to see our dog licence…in Bali...we laughed and drove on....

I know, from friends from Java that the Javanese regard the driving in Bali as the worst in the country, which is saying something, but its hard to argue, it's absolutely appalling.

And then there are the roads…maybe the introduction of a few signs pointing out when the one way road becomes two way might save a life or two, or painting the road arrows pointing in the correct direction on a one way stretch….I could go on and on, but none of this is tricky stuff, it just takes the will to want to save a few lives.

Once all this is sorted….then perhaps a monorail might be worth a look….on second thoughts…no, not even then….

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Monday, September 10, 2007

and you think you're so clever and classless and free

This is incredible..for we aging post teens, this is the holy grail of sorts....I've read the book of the Wenner / Lennon interviews a half a dozen times, but to actually listen to it.

Although I suspect you need to be over 40 to understand......

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Some grow just like their dads / and some grow up too tall

I have to admit a bias here. I’m not a rugby player, or, for that matter, a follower.

I just don’t get it….never really have. When at boarding school I did actually play. You had to, it was compulsory…either that or hockey, and nobody really got away with playing hockey without being whispered about behind their backs. You could never make prefect if you played hockey, or for that matter, softball.

So, yes, ever the conformist and desperate to get in the prefects room (which I didn’t do, moving north to Auckland at the end of the 6th form), I played rugby. I’d played earlier, age 10 or abouts in Upper Hutt, when Dad decided I should give it a go (he’d played for Canterbury under somethings some years earlier). But the game made no real sense to me, and it still doesn’t really, so I declined after a week or two to return, and my mother, bless her, breathed a large protective sigh.

But at high school I discovered I was actually quite good at it. I made the 2nd XV, and was bussed all over the southern part of the North Island, where we played other boys schools and as often as not, won. The problem was I didn’t like it at all. I hated the encouraged brutality of it all, I hated the grabbing and thuggish brawls and the psychology that went with it that said that all that was very acceptable.

Oh, and I hated scrums…and the idea that I was obliged to grab and twist all sorts of things (and have mine twisted)….I’m no homophobe but rugby union is a very, very gay game, and if that’s what you want…more power to you.

I gave it all away after a game at Te Aute Maori Boys College where one large teen came down in a line out and deliberately used his elbow to break my nose. As I rolled in the mud and blood pissed out I was told I took it well and he was congratulated for giving them the (winning) edge. Yep…a fine game.

So I opted out..resigned from the second XV. But that didn’t work…I was allocated then to the 4th XV, who made me deputy captain, sight unseen (coming from the 2nd etc) so I bit the bullet, and simply failed to turn up enough times that they walked away from me.

Since then I’ve watched a game or two, but generally find Union to be, unlike Rugby League or Soccer which do seem to the observer, rather more skilful, a fairly immature sort of game. It’s thuggish, it’s brutal, and it’s a sport that arguably engenders a level of violence in the society I come from, not least against women and children…that’s my opinion and I know others would happily, and at times, violently oppose it, which I guess is partially my point made. I know the abuse I got both online and by email after my last mention of rugby here.

Why mention all this now? Well, because large numbers of people I know in NZ seem to be obsessing about the bloody Rugby World Cup. Actually that’s not true…almost the whole country is obsessing about it if you believe the mass media (I don’t). And that obsession is being foisted across the miles on me, as if, like the hockey players, there is something questionable about me if I don’t obsess too. And the assumption seems to be that the whole world is also obsessing about it.

Which is not true, or even close…the Rugby World Cup is slightly more a global event than the American Baseball ‘World Series’, but really not very much more, especially if you look at the actual teams participating: there are the few countries in which it is the dominant sport….namely New Zealand and, uhhhh, Tonga and Samoa. Then there is Australia, which, in which in NSW it finds a following but really nowhere else (League and Aussie rules rule absolutely..the last RWC final, in Australia, pulled an audience of only some 4 million there, a big number but not as big as the media frenzy would imply); South Africa where the white people like it and it’s their national sport but no so of the overwhelming mass of the population; and then the bunch (the various UK constituents, France and Argentina) in which it runs a very, very, very distant second to the popular game, but has some traction ……..the one the world calls football. Then you have the rest, the ones like Japan, USA, and Italy where no-one, beyond a tiny minority actually knows anything about the game, but those that obsess like to think it’s a growth sport with a fast amassing following.

Oh, and Namibia and Georgia!! Seriously!!

Which is fine…believe what you will (many of my best friends love it etc), but don’t foist it on me. I’m in a country where nobody, beyond a few expats in dark, rather sad, expat bars, even knows what a bloody rugby ball looks like. And don’t tell me, as someone did, that the NZ Rugby Union has somehow determined that 4 billion will be watching….world population today about 6.7 billion….remove China, India, Pakistan, most of Africa, Indonesia, most of South America, the USA, Russia, and at least 50% of Europe from the total and you may be looking at an audience aware of the cup of some 200 million or less, and I understand that once you take a step back from the unreal cumulative figures used to manipulate a figure of 4 billion, that’s somewhat closer to the real audience being tossed around behind the scenes.

Obsess away but leave me out of it and keep in it perspective for gods sake.

Of course large numbers of my friends love the game (and obsess over it), so I’m in serious shite now, but what the hell.

Damn, I’m grumpy today…..

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

have yourself a good good time / a real good time

If there was another reason needed not to sign a record deal with a major in 2007, this may be it:

The music video is shrinking. With the music industry in crisis from falling sales and file sharing, labels have less cash to subsidize elaborate videos that will mostly be seen in miniature on computers. The result has been a major shift in the art form, as artists increasingly embrace the YouTube aesthetic with cheap, stripped-down, low-production videos.

Even your uber-budget pop star fantasies, assuming you have such things, are unlikely to be fulfilled anymore...and that was, lets be real, the only thing a major could offer anymore....

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