Why did I not ask for that?

These previous weeks, I had the spare time to read a book given to me by my mentor-who-went-away-to-England-and-never-contact-me-anymore-since-then titled “Too Busy Not to Pray” by Bill Hybels. There is an interesting point in a section of that book, which addresses one cause one does not ask for a particular thing in one’s prayer; one’s disbelief on the ability of the wish grantor. He shared his story of how he had never asked his father to bring peace on earth, because of his knowledge that his father has no power to do so.

It points out an interesting question for me; is it the same  with me? I do not think I have ever prayed for world peace or things like that. I did pray for hunger relief in the past, but that was in a mass prayer which the person on stage urged us to. Am I questioning God’s ability in those grand matters? I wonder.

Life Lesson From Nichijou Chapter 161

There are times when 2D art product like manga gives a wonderful lesson to us. And one of them comes from an absurd comedy made by Arawi Keiichi titled Nichijou, which roughly translates to “ordinary day”, especially chapter 161 that I will post in this occasion.

Long story short (the story is actually short, duh), Mio (the girl with twin short pigtails) found an interesting vending machine and…

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Well, she started with small investment or effort to acquire what she wanted, until she realized it did not pay off and she increased her ante…and still..nothing.

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She is not a gambler, she just got into it without realizing and she was broke afterward.

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After some banging (a lot, actually) at the machine out of her desperation, the machine paid out the prize…but it was not exactly the kind of prize she expected… Poor Mio!

This short story, however, in my opinion, sounds a lot like human life. We want something. We work to get it. We work hard and harder as time goes by since the effort needed to achieve our goal apparently outstripped our initial expectation, but we sacrificed so much already that backing down is not an option we would like to consider. We finally got what we want. Not exactly. We got what we thought we want and we realized afterward it is not as expected. A bummer.

Fortunately, life does not stop there (hopefully). In chapter 164, we found out that..

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Yeah, the Lord works in mysterious ways after all.

 

 

Comic Frontier 2016

Another backlog post (☉౪ ⊙)

Comic Frontier (or Comifuro), a visual art market event where local artists and consumers meet (think Comiket). What makes it interesting? For me, it is the “market” atmosphere. Imagine a large mildly air-conditioned (which means quite hot) and mildly decorated room with a lot of artists and large mass of consumers. Each of those artists is given the same desk (as big as school desk) and chairs, which the artist has to decorate (or not), and that is it; not even a booth. Walking around a bit and you can find a lot of comical decorations, made creatively with dirt cheap materials (ex: elementary grade picture drawn with color pencil on an A4 paper). And the participating artists are there personally, with no corporate PR involved. What will you encounter? A lot of doujins, posters, key chain, pins, and home-made games. Oh, and cute artists too 😛

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SMESCO UKM building complex. The venue was actually on the right side and not shown in this picture, but you can see the crowd haha
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Hideo Kojima made a surprise appearance at Comifuro 2016!!!
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Entry stamp. It is supposed to be a girl face. Oh well..

I personally think that Comic Frontier contains some interesting symbolism. First of all is the fact they are using SMESCO UKM building (maybe they will move to other venue next year, I do not know). At one side it symbolizes that doujin-making (and similar visual art making) is more than just a mere hobby, it can also become a source of income with significant demand in the market, and at the other side, by choosing a modest venue (and with UKM title), it also emphasizes that the popular visual art market is not dominated by big profit-hungry corporations, as the grassroots producers, the artists themselves, who create to express their aspiration, are still a considerable force in the market (*cough, not like AF#). Second, the rise of fujoshi and public showing of risqué visual arts. You can say that those are the signs of decadence, but I would like to look it in another light. They signify the progressive transformation of Indonesian people into an open-minded society where everybody may express their creativity without fear of persecution. Do you not remember the sign of Italian cultural renaissance? Naked statue (it is a joke).

To sum it all up, I recommend Comic Frontier for people who want to get in touch directly with local aspiring visual art creators with “market” atmosphere. There is very little amount of third-party meddling here, so you can be sure that your purchase goes straight to the creators (or their friends who tend the stall), which makes the whole experience less like “purchasing” and more like “appreciating”.

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My loot from Comifuro 2016
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I also won an SSR (Super Star Rare) Lancer pin (Fate series) from a gatcha event.

Afternoon Browsing Story: From Mr.Thiel to BioShock’s Andrew Ryan

It was a hectic afternoon at work and I was quite burnt out. So I took a voluntary activity which might not impact my productivity in a positive way directly or benefiting the company in the short-term but I believe would preserve my sanity for that day; I took a break. I filled my break time with clandestine internet browsing operation; browsing activity with high level of effort in ensuring that everyone around are unaware of the activity.

I stumbled upon an interesting article by Economist headlined “The Evolution of Mr Thiel“. I never heard of him before, but the subtitle of that article -“the tech billionaire has morphed from a libertarian into a corporate Nietzschean”- piqued my interest. Mr.Thiel was one of the earliest investor of Facebook and he is currently a tech tycoon of Silicon Valley. The article discussed an interesting method of private war which are legal and frighteningly effective, if you can afford the price tag.

Done is the day when you can duel or send your mercenary to hurt someone, but do not think the possibility of achieving similar goal is nonexistent. At least in modern USA, another means has emerged at the court of law in the form of legal battle proxy. The concept is quite simple; anonymously (or openly) finance your soldiers, people who are having or potentially will have litigation against your target, to increase your soldiers prospect in winning the battle and ensuring that your target will have to pay an impoverishing amount of fund in settlement. So far, no law is broken in the utilization of this method. That is exactly what Mr.Thiel has been doing. Mr.Thiel “philanthropically”funded Hulk Hogan (a famous wrestling celebrity) and many other parties in their litigation against Gawker, an infotainment website focused on Silicon Valley and technopreneur gossips. In the case of Mr.Hogan, the court has ordered Gawker to pay $140M, and that is just one of many battles Mr.Thiel expect. Judging from the current development, it appears that Gawker, which thoughtlessly publicized Mr.Thiel’s sexual orientation in the past without his consent and sparking this war, will have to admit defeat before eventually dragged to a complete annihilation. Mr.Thiel is patient and ready for a long war to drain Gawker until its last drip of blood.

The article then further discussed the evolution of Mr.Thiel (hence the title); from a sharp minded libertarian businessman into a delegate for Donald Trump. And evolution that went in an odd direction. It also mentioned a book written by Ayn Rand titled “Atlas Shrugged” in relation to Mr.Thiel’s current perspective. The title suggests that Atlas, who holds the world in his shoulder, may “shrug” and let the world, which keeps weighing him down, fall helplessly, and it serves as a metaphor to the story of a world where all the bright people voluntarily left the society to its collapse since the society keeps pressing them.

Stop there! Ayn Rand? Sound familiar? Yes, it sounds similar to Andrew Ryan, a central character in the first Bioshock game. Moreover, the new society pined by the bright minds in the novel sounds similar to Rapture. Atlas is present in the game, though I am not sure he resembles anyone in the novel. I found out that the game took a lot of reference from the novel. What a precious knowledge!

And that, my friend, is my afternoon browsing story before I went back to serve my capitalist master.

Easy Task?

front side of my bike showing the brake
front side of my bike showing the brake

The brake of the front wheel of my bicycle had lost its usual ability to grip and since I considered it unsafe, I decided to find a place to repair it. There is a nearby shack that looks like a bicycle workshop which I frequently passed by on my travel to work. Never visited it, but I guessed why not. I prepared some fund in expectation that I might have to replace some parts. I went there, talked to the shopkeeper, he looked at my bicycle, unscrewed a bolt, pulled a metal string, screwed it back, and it was done.

I think it was an interesting occasion. I paid a minuscule amount in comparison to the fund I have prepared, but looking at how easy he fixed the brake, I wondered why I had to pay at all. It did not even take five minutes. Had I known how to fix it, I could have done it myself. But I suppose this is what we call skilled work. I paid him for his expertise and knowledge, more than his sweat or time. Similar like graphic design, it might look easy, but the designer spent years and investment to master it, and we pay for such expertise. I hope I can have that kind of expertise too which make my work more valuable.

It might look easy, but it takes an effort to master the skill and knowledge!

Look at My Steam Summer Sale Loot

I cannot avoid myself from repeating myself on how people will willingly trade their money for things of value (here, here, and here). I understand that many people take a very cynical view that people will not pay for what they can get for free. Well, the empirical evidence suggests otherwise. I am one of the example. On this Steam Summer Sale event, I decided to buy some games from Steam, which I could have obtained freely through many free download sites, in appreciation of the game developers’ effort.

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My library of games on steam

 

It is interesting to see the approach deployed by services like Steam. They brought games into the market with reasonable price, discriminating buyers according to their purchase power based on country (hence, citizen in Indonesia might pay lower price than citizen in US), and providing so many extra values (community, developer diary, easy update, multiplayer support, etc) which can entice people to legally pay and support the developers. Personally, I favor this kind of approach in answering the issue of piracy, in comparison to tougher anti-piracy law, which potentially hurt the consumers and developers more (sometimes only benefiting the multimillionaire publishing corporation).

A brilliant approach that might be unthinkable ten years ago.

I guess a new era has dawned upon us. Let’s see what the future holds!

Unwilling to Let Go Just Yet

I dislike the notion that human will always prefer to get something for free, even if illegal mean is required, than to pay the price. I think a lot of factors are involved in our decision to make a purchase and far more complicated than just “human nature”; a lazy answer. One example is about music. The government and parties with vested interest on copyright of such cultural product incessantly accuse consumers with piracy allegation. That without strict law on copyright, harsh punishment for piracy, and protection mechanism (remember that hellish DRM?) consumers will naturally download for free. I will not support such notion because I believe that people will pay for what they value more than or equal as their money.

Fast fact: I have just purchased another set of CDs. What make it different is this is probably the first instance I make my purchase on a brick and mortar music store.

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It is Harika Music at Ciputra Mall

I browsed a while and guess what I found!

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Two CDs of Ten2Five. I listened to their songs over and over again when I was in Senior High. Nostalgic!

It is an interesting experience. The store was small with some seemingly cheap shelves and only guarded by a person; a far cry from music stores on their heyday. Most of the collections are Indonesian and Western CD songs, concert and movie DVDs, and cassettes (yes, cassettes!). They also had collection of songs you expect to find at the wet-market (or antique shops?) e.g. songs of Nicky Astria, Gombloh, etc.

I know. The availability of online music stores which are capable to sell digital copy or ship physical copy as ordered are ensuring the unfortunate fate of brick and mortar music stores. But denouement is not here yet and the play is still ongoing. Society should control their ignorance over those who are vanquished by progress; considering death of a type of establishment is perfectly normal. There is a risk that they might be too late to realize that once it is gone, it will probably will never come back; extinct together with its possibly hidden benefits (how many species of creatures have we left to extinction? how much damage such extinction has caused?). This type of music outlet gives satisfaction to those who prefer going out of their room and travel to a certain building. Furthermore, physical music outlets offer their costumers a certain degree of privacy. So until the fat lady sings, until the last breath of this sickly old type of establishment, I suppose I will stay by its side and prevent the doctor from pulling the plug.

Maybe we can not change the tide but let’s enjoy our time together until the very last!

 

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There is something in physical medium that makes it different from digital copy. A sentimental sensation or evocation of memories coming from a concrete object of affection that you can actually touch and, in the most uncomplicated, easily understood way, possess. Plus, you can get bonuses like the artists’ letter of gratitude and the art of the case itself.