When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense." - Gertrude Stein


On how the decline of traditional moral values results in a society with fewer social ills:

"My partner is Swiss. Her niece Nina went to USA on a year-long Rotary exchange programme. Once she was asked to give a talk about the curriculum ‘back home’ in Switzerland. When vetting the script, the American teacher was appalled that Nina planned to include sex education as one of the regular classes taught in her Swiss school. Her reason was it was “not Christian” to discuss such things. She ordered Nina to exclude it.

Nina was disturbed because she saw how many teenage pregnancies there were in the US school. Not only did it impact so many young lives, there were expensive government-funded programmes to handle these young mothers who eventually left school and raised single-parent families. On the contrary, the rate of such teenage pregnancies in Switzerland is low. Young as she is, Nina could see the wisdom of openly discussing these issues but the bias of the supposedly Christian fundamental dogma instead blinded her American classmates to the potential pitfalls of unprotected sex, peer pressure etc.

Another anecdote: I used to represent Singapore in sports. On a few occasions when playing in regional Games, we would share buses or have to walk past male athletes from countries like Pakistan or Bangladesh. On a couple of occasions, some of us girls were grabbed at or touched (openly!!) by those male athletes who were virtually salivating at the sight of women’s exposed legs/arms.

On the contrary, in summer in Europe — specially in Scandinavia — it is customary for women in parks or at the beach to strip their tops off. Nobody bats an eyelid and the mystique of the naked female body is non existent. The incidence of sex crimes like rape is so very low in such societies compared to the sexual abuse in countries with so-called “strict religious and moral codes”."
e-Poll: The SAF's New Career Schemes

"Ministry / Agency: Ministry of Defence
Description: Share with us your views on the SAF's New Career Schemes For Regulars

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

6. What impact, if any, do the changes have on your consideration of a career in the SAF?

NA - I would rather slit my wrists than join the SAF"

Interestingly, under the "occupation" column the 3 options other than "Others" are "Still studying", "Engineering & Related Industries" and "Civil Service".
"Men who are unhappy, like men who sleep badly, are always proud of the fact" - Bertrand Russell



Singapore third in empowering women

"The Global Summit of Women held in Santiago, Chile voted Singapore third in terms of policies on empowering women in society.

Singapore was lauded for helping women achieve work-life balance based on impact, innovation and policy sustainability...

These included policy and support services, as well as promoting mindset change in employers, unions, family members, the community and among men."

HWMNBN: how far does the former boss of temasek skew the results?

In any event, I'm not surprised nor should you be, because you and I both are victims of the below.

Me: In this case, only insofar as rich people are victims of progressive tax systems

HWMNBN: that's rich coming from a man who spends half of his literary output criticising the empowerment of women and its excesses.

In any case, the social and cultural damage which disenfranchises people like you and me romantically is far greater than the net economic advantage (some of which trickles down to us as individuals) gained by increased workforce participation.

Me: Criticising the excesses of the empowerment of women /= not supporting "policy and support services, as well as promoting mindset change in employers, unions, family members, the community and among men."

HWMNBN: so you're talking out of both sides of your mouth as usual then.

Me: That's like saying someone who criticises both the Holocaust and Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is a hypocrite

HWMNBN: One can say the former is far worse than the latter, even if one only
uses cold comparative statistics.

In your case, supporting "policy and support services, as well as promoting mindset change in employers, unions, family members, the community and among men." in its current incarnation is what leads exactly to the excesses of the empowerment of women you spend the other half of your time.

A more appropriate analogy would be a government who complains about the dangers of passive smoking but says consumers need to smoke more local cigarettes to keep the local economy going.

Me: Just because you are against Israel's treatment of the Palestinians does not mean that you should equate Zionism to Racism, or deny its right to exist.

Not treating women as chattel does not mean calling not sending girls to school "gender-based violence"

HWMNBN: > excuse me, *we* are the oppressed chattel in today's society. *We* are the stone-throwing West Bank residents here against their tanks of political correctness, settlements of pro forma equality, and airstrikes of conditioned behavioural expectations of paying the bill.

Supporting their cause now would be like supporting the KKK in the 1850s fearing coloured "domination" of the Deep South.

(historical anachronism: KKK was founded in the 1860s.)

Edward Said put it most eloquently; we are in the unique position of being the "victims of the victims"
"The attempt to make heaven on earth invariably produces hell." - Karl Popper


"Dear Presidents/ Reps of Local Alumni Groups,

“Exploding Colours, Exuberating Zest!” is the theme for this year’s Rag and Flag. Do you remember the late nights frantically constructing your Hall or Faculty float? The feeling of pride at being part of a unique NUS experience on parade day? Well, the NUS Alumni Office is pleased to announce that this year will see the first ever Alumni Float in the parade! So stay connected with alma mater by being part of this adventure and for a chance to relive exciting memories.

We would like to call for alumni participation either in volunteering of time to be part of a team which will meet to come up with the concept and design of the float or by making a donation.

Please reply to this email by June 11th if you wish to come on board as part of the Alumni Float team.

If you wish to make a donation, please make out the cheque to “National University of Singapore” and send it to me at the following address

Lisa Lip
Office of Alumni Relations
Shaw Foundation Alumni House
11 Kent Ridge Drive
Singapore 119244

Rag and Flag will be held on August 8th from 9am to 1pm and we look forward to your support and seeing you on the day!"

I'd be very surprised if anyone actually took this up. Older people (not to mention working people) do not want to spend more "late nights frantically constructing" an alumni float.

There's a reason that, even among students, rag is mostly a Year 1/Year 0 thing.

Links - 30th May 2009

"One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways." - Bertrand Russell

Ed: Keywords - beyond that, prevent him, him employed, matters of opinion, coercion, out of jail, in matters of public opinion, employment, voluntary subjugation, nothing more

More keywords: coerced by society, endanger employment, bernard shaw, job


Why the 2012 cult is a silly scam. - "It's a harmonic convergence all right, a harmonic convergence of ignorance and superstition—a tsunami of stupidity—worthy of the millennial cults of the 19th century most enjoyably anatomized in Leon Festinger's famous study, When Prophecy Fails, a look at the way end-of-the-world cults grow even stronger after their prophet's end-of-the-world date flies by and the world confoundingly continues to exist... The best cultural explanation I found for this flowering of idiocy said that New Age fads like the Hopi prophecy and 2012 are a kind of cultural colonialism in which white people endow the minorities they have wiped out or repressed with mystical powers made more mysterious by their virtual vanishing... New Age stupidity isn't always harmless, that it can be a cruel hoax playing a con game with people's hopes and fears. I'll never forgive the sketchy con man who stole that poor woman's money and illusions."

Being Transgender is Not a Mental Disorder - "Now, 36 years later, transgender activists are calling on the APA to drop from the DSM its designation of “gender identity disorder,” (GID) which shrinks use to label and stigmatize a person who is unhappy with his or her biological sex. The so-called disorder is listed in the DSM as a “sexual dysfunction” along with pedophilia... “In a perfect world,” Allison said, “psychiatrists would treat patients with gender variance, but not for gender variance.”"
If it's not a disorder, then presumably they don't need "treatment" and shouldn't have access to sex change surgery. And if patients with gender variance are not being treated for gender variance, maybe it's just therapy after the depredations of a "trans-phobic" society.

Calling wife ugly may become offence in Malaysia - "One of the clauses proposed to be amended in the Domestic Violence Act 1994 pertains to emotional violence against women who are currently only protected against physical abuse... Women's Development Department director-general Noorul Ainur Mohd Nur said emotional violence was a form of abuse that scars women deeply and lowers their self-esteem, dignity and self-confidence. "It could be a case when a husband tells his wife she is ugly or humiliates her until she feels emotionally pressured," she told media at the end of a seminar on how to curb violence against women."
The madness of feminism rears its ugly head once again. Of course, telling your husband he is lazy is not 'emotional violence', because men are evil.

Britons see French as sexier, but less witty: poll - "British expatriates living in France find French people sexier and better dressed -- particularly French women -- but not as witty or good company... Britons who have settled in France say they are happier and healthier, seeing French people as having stronger family values, less crime and less stress"

Christian Group to Produce “Clean” Pornography - "The group, recently incorporated as the Southern Coalition for Progressive and Pure Change (an obscure sub-branch of the International Congress of Church and Ministries), will pay for the production of 5 films which they say will act as a “stepping stone away from iniquity” as viewers use the films as an intermediate step as they “switch paths from the sexually impure world of the devil to the white shining path of the Lord.”... Dr. Lovett was willing to give a general description of the the first film, however. According to Lovett, Jodie and the Great Black Whale will feature an 18 year old missionary in Jamaica who is swayed by native temptors into working as an exotic dancer. Dancing under the stage name “Divinoria,” she cavorts with the pagan locals until, during a scene in which her Aunt uses a bible to talk her off the stage pole, she once again finds inspiration as a Christian. At the end of the film, Divinoria burns down the strip club with a large flaming bush and leads the recently converted locals in raising a new church."

Pope attacks blurring of gender - "Speaking on Monday, Pope Benedict XVI warned that gender theory blurred the distinction between male and female and thus could lead to the "self-destruction" of the human race... It is not "out-of-date metaphysics" to "speak of human nature as 'man' or woman'", he told scores of prelates gathered in the Vatican's sumptuous Clementine Hall. "We need something like human ecology, meant in the right way.""

Would You Slap Your Father? If So, You’re a Liberal - "Studies suggest that conservatives are more often distressed by actions that seem disrespectful of authority, such as slapping Dad. Liberals don’t worry as long as Dad has given permission. Likewise, conservatives are more likely than liberals to sense contamination or perceive disgust. People who would be disgusted to find that they had accidentally sipped from an acquaintance’s drink are more likely to identify as conservatives. The upshot is that liberals and conservatives don’t just think differently, they also feel differently. This may even be a result, in part, of divergent neural responses... when people saw tight television shots of blowhards with whom they disagreed, they felt that the other side was even less legitimate than before. The larger point is that liberals and conservatives often form judgments through flash intuitions that aren’t a result of a deliberative process... So how do we discipline our brains to be more open-minded, more honest, more empirical? A start is to reach out to moderates on the other side — ideally eating meals with them... persuasion may be most effective when built on human interactions. Gay rights were probably advanced largely by the public’s growing awareness of friends and family members who were gay. A corollary is that the most potent way to win over opponents is to accept that they have legitimate concerns, for that triggers an instinct to reciprocate."
Alternatively, you can just label each other bigoted or immoral and just shout at each other.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small." - Henry Kissinger


The verdict in the latest Sedition trial is out: Ong Kian Cheong and Dorothy Chan Hien Leng are guilty.

While the verdict was never in any doubt (as with Defamation cases, when it comes to Race and Religion there is only ever one possible verdict in Singapore), perhaps the arguments raised will influence the quantum of sentencing.

Meanwhile, there're some interesting takeaways on discussing religion in the public sphere in Singapore coming from the cross-examination of Mr A.R. Madeei, the MDA's senior assistant director (publications). In his attempt to expose the paradoxes and contradictions of Singapore's allergy towards discussion of racial and religious issues, the couple's lawyer got Mr Madeei to lay out some principles by which religious discussion would be legal and acceptable, as it would not deal with matters of religion in such a manner likely to cause feelings of enmity, hatred, ill-will or hostility.

The material must be:

- untargeted: not directed specifically at groups
- not easily accessible: cartoon tracts (and presumably also videos) are more accessible than books
- containing words rather than pictures
- not easily understood by the "young and vulnerable": once again obscurantism proves its utility
- containing different points of view and arguments
- contextual
- allowing room for debate

Since excerpts from Christopher Hitchens's God Is Not Great, Sam Harris's The End Of Faith, Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion were read out and cleared in court, it would seem that material in a similar vein which deals with religious matters is also kosher.

Doubtless the full legal transcripts will shed more light on this matter, including the reply (if any) to Irwan Ariffin's opinion that "one should not criticise or condemn another religion". Presumably he is shocked and disgusted by MDA's opinion that contextual criticism of religion that allows room for debate is permissible.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I'm placing dibs on these 4D numbers: 1424, 0630, 2605, 5258

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"What is an epigram? A dwarfish whole, its body brevity, and wit its soul." - Samuel Taylor Coleridge


MP Cynthia Phua calls for review of family and child protection laws

"MP for Aljunied GRC Cynthia Phua has called on the Community Development and Law ministries to work together to review the provisions of the family and child protection law.

This is so that husbands who fail to fulfil their obligations in a divorce settlement can be taken to task.

Speaking during the debate on the President's Address on Tuesday, Ms Phua feels the current law gives the impression that it is made by man for woman.

She proposed that husbands who do not pay maintenance to their ex-spouse be denied the opportunity to remarry...

Otherwise, she feels that such errant husbands would perpetuate their misdeeds and may end up with yet another divorce and another set of problems for the next wife and children."

Funny, I thought we wanted gender equality here.

Perhaps "family" is a euphemism for "wife", and she would like the new law to be made by woman for woman (if you assume it isn't already).

Note also what is presumably bad reporting with a lack of gender agreement between paragraphs.

Links - 26th May 2009

"The reverse side also has a reverse side." - Japanese Proverb


Is Stanley Fish smarter than Richard Dawkins? - "Let’s consider Fish’s example, which — tellingly — comes from literary criticism, not science... As always in the case of postmodernism, a perfectly reasonable and potentially interesting idea (the non-independence of facts and theories, which was not discovered by postmodernists) gets blown out of proportion to justify an insane conclusion (that science is the same as religion, or that reason and faith are on the same epistemological level), a conclusion that very likely the author himself does not believe. A famous quip by philosopher Bertrand Russell comes to mind: I wish that all philosophers who do not believe in the existence of walls would get into a car and drive straight into a wall (any would do) at a speed proportional to their skepticism concerning the existence of the wall itself. We would at least get rid of a lot of bad philosophers, or literary critics."

Faith and Reason - "Don’t you have faith in anything? Nope, I say, a denial that is immediately met with both bewilderment and commiseration. Don’t I have faith in my wife, for example? No, I trust her because I know her and know that she loves me. What about faith in humanity, considering that I profess to be a secular humanist? No, I have hope for the human lot, and even that is seriously tempered by my awareness of its less than stellar record throughout history. Ah, but I believe in evolution, don’t I? Yes, I do, but notice the switch between “faith” and “belief,” two words that don’t necessarily mean the same thing at all... What about this insane idea that somehow we live in a hyper-rational society which is already too burdened by the triumph of reason? If we are, it is hard to distinguish such society from a hyper-irrational one dominated by faith. This conceit that too much reason is bad is a leftover from the Romantic reaction to the Enlightenment, the so-called “age of reason” (which lasted much too briefly, and during which time reason was heard, but hardly dominated human affairs)."

Akerlof, G.A. and Shiller, R.: Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why It Matters for Global Capitalism. - "The idea that economic crises, like the current financial and housing crisis, are mainly caused by changing thought patterns goes against standard economic thinking. But the current crisis bears witness to the role of such changes in thinking. It was caused precisely by our changing confidence, temptations, envy, resentment, and illusions—and especially by changing stories about the nature of the economy. These intangibles were the reason why people paid small fortunes for houses in cornfields; why others financed those purchases; why the Dow Jones average peaked above 14,000 and a little more than a year later fell below 7,500; why the U.S. unemployment rate has risen by 2.5 percentage points in the past twenty-four months... In our view economic theory should be derived not from the minimal deviations from the system of Adam Smith but rather from the deviations that actually do occur and that can be observed. Insofar as animal spirits exist in the everyday economy, a description of how the economy really works must consider those animal spirits."

A Tale Of Naked Whoa - "Relationships are filled with little tasks that don’t exactly bring a person to screaming orgasm. A man, for example, doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night with some primal longing to bring his girlfriend flowers, rehang her back door, or clean the trap in her sink. Like sex, these things can be expressions of love... So, couldn’t putting out when you aren’t in the mood be seen as just another expression of love?... “If you have sex when you don’t desire it, physically desire it, you are going to feel used.” Well, okay, perhaps. But, if a guy rotates a woman’s tires when he doesn’t desire it, physically desire it, does he feel used? Actually, we all do plenty of things with our bodies that we don’t really feel like... The real problem for many couples is the notion that “the mood” is something they’re supposed to wait around for like Halley’s Comet -- probably due to the assumption that desire works the same in men and women. The truth is, just because a woman isn’t in the mood doesn’t mean she can’t get in the mood."

Singapore workers showing up at work despite being sick - "Some 52 per cent of the local respondents fear that too many sick days could go against them, while 50 per cent did not want to be perceived by superiors and peers as not working, the highest rates among those surveyed... Globally, Singapore ranks only second to Japan, with 69 per cent and 71 per cent of respondents, respectively, who expect workplace stress levels to rise this year... Rising stress levels at work are also taking a toll on employees' personal lives and welfare. And Singapore again ranked highest globally when it comes to employees checking company emails outside working hours, with 26 per cent spending on average 30 to 44 minutes a day doing this."

Woman's extreme Red Bull diet - "Brooke Robertson told the Herald on Sunday she shrank from 105kg to 60kg drinking nothing but 10 to 14 cans a day... Ms Robertson said she managed to keep her addiction secret from family and friends, and did not recover from it until after a two-week stay in hospital following a minor heart attack... She said she has a heart murmur, gets severe pain and cramping in her stomach and bowel, and suffers anxiety attacks... The drink is banned in Norway, Denmark and Uruguay because of health fears."

The power of female choice: Fat chicks get laid more - "The male has virtually no choice in the matter. A recent study neatly illustrates the principle of female choice... contrary to what one might expect, overweight and obese women are not having sex later, less frequently or with fewer partners than normal-weight women. There is a significant difference, however, on whether they have ever had sexual intercourse with men. Overweight (92.5%) and obese (91.5%) women are significantly more likely ever to have had sexual intercourse with men than normal-weight women (87.4%)... When a man propositions a woman, she can respond in one of two ways; she can say “yes” or she can say “no.” When a woman propositions a man, he can also respond in one of two ways; he can say “yes” or he can say “yes, please.” He has no realistic choice to say no."
This guy is too sensationalistic but the general idea is there. Also, it would be more interesting to look at frequency of intercourse, which the original paper might.
Addendum: Press release of original paper: "Weight does not affect women's sexual behavior". Paper's title: "Body mass index and sexual behavior"

Annals of Medicine: The Cost Conundrum - "Americans like to believe that, with most things, more is better. But research suggests that where medicine is concerned it may actually be worse... That’s because nothing in medicine is without risks. Complications can arise from hospital stays, medications, procedures, and tests, and when these things are of marginal value the harm can be greater than the benefits... About fifteen years ago, it seems, something began to change in McAllen. A few leaders of local institutions took profit growth to be a legitimate ethic in the practice of medicine. Not all the doctors accepted this. But they failed to discourage those who did... the Mayo Clinic, which is among the highest-quality, lowest-cost health-care systems in the country... The core tenet of the Mayo Clinic is “The needs of the patient come first”—not the convenience of the doctors, not their revenues... The leading doctors and the hospital system adopted measures to blunt harmful financial incentives, and they took collective responsibility for improving the sum total of patient care... All of them function on similar principles. All are not-for-profit institutions. And all have produced enviably higher quality and lower costs than the average American town enjoys."

Monday, May 25, 2009

I don't totally get this:

Mixed Company of Yale: Single Asians

"I need this grade.
I've never been laid.
Because I live my life for med school.
I do bio-chem
On the weekends
You ain't hardcore enough for me...

At the restaurant
I'll taste your sauce
And you can slurp my sushi.
I like it raw,
So bring it on,
And me love you long time."
"Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow." - Mark Twain


Jogjakarta trip
Day 3 - 30th April - Sangiran
(Part 1)

In Jogjakarta. people have their drinks with ice. This is in contrast to places like Cambodia, where people do not consume the ice at all - cans of drink are placed in ice or ice water, but when they are served to you the glass comes empty. Even fruit juice is given to you without ice. Presumably the consumption of ice means that the ice is safe, even if people don't seem to drink tap water - it isn't served in restaurants, and bottled water is widely available (maybe factories use clean water to make it, or they figure freezing ruptures bacterial membranes).

On a side note, in Jogjakarta room temperature soft drinks seem to be popular.

The previous night, the two of us had shared a 5-pack of Yakult (3 for me, 2 for her) in an attempt to ward off food poisoning. Apparently it worked as neither of us came down with anything this day.

Today I headed to Sangiran, near Solo, to see the last of my World Heritage sites. CWN declined to follow, deciding to nua in Jogja instead. I wasn't expecting much, but didn't have anything to do anyway, so I decided I might as well indulge my fetish.

I set out at 5:50am or so to catch the early train. Since the place is East of Singapore yet is an hour behind, the sun rose very early.

Selling Nasi Gudeg by the roadside.

It was refreshing to be the only tourist up and about so early. Even the touts were slow to annoy me.

Sleeping Becak Guy. This was at 5:58am. The poor guy slept there overnight to get dibs on business, yet I managed to sneak by him without waking him.

"Jamu cap Portret. Nyonya Meneer" - she (and indeed all the Nyonyas featured in this sort of advertisements) looks sullen. Not good for advertising.

When I got to the station at about 6:10am to buy tickets for the 6:30am (or 6:45am) train, I was very annoyed to be told that the ticket counter only opened at 7am (so much for labour being cheap in the Third World!) Strangely, the first train ran at 6am and I didn't see any vending machines so people must've bought their tickets the day before.

Sullenly, I returned to my room and napped for awhile longer. At 7:20am, I was directed to a different ticket counter (which might've been open at 6am - grr).

There was a sign outside the station saying there was a 1,500 Rp charge to enter the station (probably to deter touts and the homeless from entering) but I managed to sneak in via the side entrance. Duh. Well, the doorway I walked through was 'dilarang masuk', but I didn't speak Bahasa, so I didn't care.

Road food. There was strange stuff including (from left to right) what I later found out was chicken guts and poultry heads, so I settled for one of the safe option: lumpia/loempia (spring rolls).

The train carriage. What the timetable in tourist information called "Business Class". I don't want to know what Ekonomi Klass is like (maybe riding on top of the train, like in India).

When I got to Solo station, I found that unlike the cheats at Jogja airport, the taxi stand here had a printout of destinations and prices. It was 85,000 Rp for a one-way trip to Sangiran, and I was quoted 160,000 Rp for a two-way trip, with the guy waiting for me.

I wonder if anyone visits Solo to see Bengawan Solo.

I saw an ad for "Orang Tua". It featured a bald Chinese man with white facial hair, and his cronies.

My minivan taxi was tailgating a motorsikal, and my driver went up behind the rider and almost rammed into him, but he still wouldn't give way. Turns out he was texting. Gah.

Overturned truck with bananas

I saw a minivan, the back of which had the word "bagus" written on it.

Entrance to the museum compound

The museum was quite run-down:

"Home of Java Man"

Barren entrance

The signage of the place was extremely confusing, and the place seemed half-built:

Random shit

A sign pointing "Masuk" lead to this place - an unfinished building.

Dodgy, desolate corridor

Finally, I found the museum. It was divided into two parts. The first had some fossils. Well, most of them were replicas - from what one of the security guards could tell me when I asked (having been tipped off from web reviews), the originals were in a museum in Bandung (presumably the "Geological Museum", which sounds a world away from this one); only the stegodon fossils were original. Naturally, this was not mentioned in the display cases (it only said some human transition fossil skulls were copies). Meh.

I also asked the security guards about the dump that was the museum. Rather, conjecturing that there was an unfinished renovation, I asked "Museum baru?" in an enquiring tone and was told "Augustus". Whether this meant that work had halted last August, was due to resume this August or was to finish this August was not entirely clear, but given that the site seemed to have been abandoned and Third World inefficiency I doubted they would be able to keep to their timetable if it were the latter.

The museum was fitted with air-conditioning, but the airconditioners were unplugged, and there was no fan. Making things even better, the windows were closed as well. Very aware of these facts, the guards were all sitting outside, with one of them venturing into the museum only to try to sell me an information booklet.

Pig fossils. On reflection, they might not have been replicas - they might not have bothered labelling replicas (notice the "80" on Exhibit #1).

Elephantoides lower jaw and Stegodon Trigonocephalus upper jaw

Their prime exhibit - stegodon trigonocephalus fossils (a proto-elephant). And apparently these are their only real fossils, too.

Buffalo cranium

Hippo Jaw

Assorted bones they somehow didn't identify

Crocodile cranium

Bovidae bits

Femur and ulna of Stegodon Trigonocephalus

Stones and coral

Elephant bits

Finishing the first part of the museum, I was very sweaty.

Strangely, given how important the Sangiran site was, there was no signage pointing to it.

What might've been the site.

I then went into the second part of the museum, which was marginally better presented. And there were ventilation fans set into the ceiling.

Evolution - haram!

The solar system according to Indonesians. This was their most funky display but seemed more aesthetic than educational (for one, the Earth is in the wring orbit). I hope generations of Indonesian schoolchildren don't grow up learning that the Earth is the 8th planet from the sun, in the 9th orbital.

The only promotional picture you ever see of the museum. You can guess why.

The other half of that display.

In all, I unhesitatingly crowned the Sangiran Museum with the title of worst museum I'd ever visited, beating even the Malay Technology Museum in Brunei (at least that had good air-conditioning and the signage was better). Even in Bahasa, the explanatory text was woefully inadequate - it would be worth a visit only if all 3 of these (necessary) conditions were fulfilled:

1) You had nothing else to do
2) You'd rather not space out in or closer to the hotel
3) You wanted to visit a World Heritage site

Indeed, UNESCO agress with me. Here is a report from their 26th session (2002):

"• Lack of a comprehensive management plan to ensure integrated conservation and development of the site.
• Lack of a permanent site management authority to ensure co-ordination between conservation, research and development agencies.
• Poor site presentation and interpretation.
• Low community awareness on the World Heritage values of the property"

Exiting the museum, I was lingering for a while and one local man asked if I wanted to visit the archaeological site, which was about 4km away. He said he would guide me too, besides offering transport. I vaguely considered the possibility that it was a scam, but having nothing else to do, I knocked him down from 75,000 Rp to 50,000 Rp and hopped onto his motorsikal, figuring that deserted country roads would be alright and trusting to his locally-honed skills.

The archaeological site. It's a bowl-shaped area: the top layer is about 56 square kilometers (Wikipedia says 48), the bottom 35 and the former sea area 10.

I was told that the first find was made in 1936 by a German guy (other sources say 1934).

I was told that this marked their last find, in 1997. Why they would erect a flagpost and a structure and then let it be ruined puzzled me. Also, not only was I quite sure they'd made a find in the last 12 years, he said Japanese (and other) students still came yearly in July and August to do digs, so maybe he meant major finds.

Landscape. My guide said that while walking in 1997 he had discovered a homo erectus fossil, washed down by the rain.

The white balls are clay from the river. The layer above them has artefacts 400,000 years old, and below has fossils 750,000 years old.

My guide also picked out some fossil fragments for me. I asked if it was legal to take them out of the country, and he said for small ones it's alright. This seemed reasonable, as blank pottery shards from archaeological digs are treated the same way. So I have some fossil fragments of my own now, yay.

Elephant femur fragment

They found Mastodon, Stegodon and 3 more elphant species here.

Buffalo rib fragment

Rock layers. The black clay is where the river used to be, and the blue clay the sea (the dividing layer has the white clay balls, again). This is also where the stegodon fossils were found.

Proto-human finds dated from 1.8 million to 100,000 years ago.

I thought I noted what these were, but it seems I didn't. I know one (probably the former) is an elephant femur. IIRC the latter is from an elephant tibia.

Cow femur

My guide, Tantur (sp?). The usual communication issues aside (he was still better than almost all Indonesians I met), he was quite knowledgeable. He's been guiding since the 70s.

Just before I left, a local boy ran up and took a picture with me with his handphone. I'm guessing they don't get many tourists.

On our way back to the museum, we stopped at a field for more fossil finds. The field used to be the seabed, so there were some ancient fossils there.

Fertile soil

Shells. 5-10 million years old.


Field and ditch


Field from above

After returning, I considered the likelihood that I had been scammed. For one, on the way to the site, I had seen signs pointing to the archaeological site. Also, if it had been a scam, they would also have had to seed the sites with "fossils", which would be a nuisance, especially for the shells (since the sea isn't near). Furthermore the guide seemed to know what he was talking about, and didn't contradict himself. So if it was a scam it was a good (and relatively cheap) one.

World Heritage plaques. It's the site, not the museum, that is special, so I don't know what they're there for.

After we returned, my guide tried to talk me into buying a Mastodon tooth. I was quoted a ridiculous price of 1 million Rp or something.

I settled for one of these. I was told that this was for massaging the upper body while watching TV, but I know a 5 inch marble dildo when I see one. Some people might use it while watching TV, but I (and Indonesian women) know better! Yet, the marble must be quite harsh on their unmentionables - no wonder they need the Jamu Stick!

For the unenlightened:

Tongkat Madura - Madura Stick

"The Jamu herbal stick has been widely used in Indonesian traditional medicine for more than three centuries. It is prescribed for the noble woman who faces intense competitive pressure among the courtesans to retain the favor of the head of the household. The formula is closely guarded and handed down from the family line. Today, it is an effective natural remedy for the many discomforts of the modern woman...

1. The Jamu Herbal Stick will Stimulate and intensity mutual excitement during intercourse.

2. Eliminate vaginal "white discharges" (leucorrhoea) and banishes vaginal odor.

3. Provide relief from internal irritation in the vagina that causes discomfort.

4. Develops a woman's full sexual potential, because the medicinal herbs will reduce excessive vaginal discharge, providing maximum sexual pleasure for both participants

The Madura Stick has been used hundreds of years by the women of Madura Islands. It is safe and very effective...

In Indonesia, they've passed on for generations the belief that Jamu eliminates the odor from female genitals, as well as makes the vaginal muscles tighter. It's said that Indonesian princesses of olden times used to use it when they wanted to get royalty to fall in love with them."...

Japanese women who've used the saucy soap are more than happy with its effects.

"I used some without telling my hubby and even I was shocked by the wonderful change it brought about in me," a 34-year-old housewife tells Shukan Post. "Thanks to the soap, just recently it's been like we've become honeymooners all over again."

Even younger women are happier, as a 21-year-old OL attests.

"Frankly speaking, sex with my boyfriend had been a little unsatisfying. But, after I started using this soap, the pleasure I got was raised to a new level," she says. "I feel closer to my boyfriend than ever before now and that's really satisfying."...

The Jamu Herbal Stick will ensure that one's feminity is not compromised after pregnancy and advancing age.

[ Loose and insensitive vaginal muscles ]
The herbal essence of the Jamu Herbal Stick, when inserted into the vagina, is absorbed by the skin in the vagina, stimulating hormonal balance and strengthening the vaginal muscles. This enhances sexual sensations by the tightening of the vaginal walls. It restores the feeling of youth and vitality during intercourse as she provides her male partner with greater sensations and satisfaction. In this, confidence is restored in a woman as she demonstrates her virginal sexuality to her partner."

We know that all this is true because it's from a story in the Shukan Post, and seems to have been excerpted from the old Manichi Waiwai column.

Other sites attest to the Jamu Stick's effectiveness:

- Jamu Products ("Black Madura Jamu stick, keeps your husband loyal.")
- Body & Mind Shop Ltd :: Jamu Herbal Stick Vaginal Soap ("Printed ENGLISH words Jamu Herbal Stick on the white box. Those with Chinese Text on the Box/Manual are fakes!")

(Incidentally, CWN told me that Jamu was a lot more than the stick - it's a whole herbal tradition. The Jamu Stick must be something to con Japanese tourists with)

While I was having an Es Jeruk, another local guy came up and asked me if I wanted to visit the site. He seemed disappointed when I said I'd already been there. I wonder how many people go there during peak season (July and August).
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