Time To Bug Out?

•March 23, 2020 • 1 Comment

TEOTWAWKISo these days we are seeing a pandemic that we’ve never seen before. When I first heard about what we now know as Covid-19 last January, I was not too concerned about it. After all, in the past we’ve had SARS and MERS corona outbreaks before, and in both cases we contained them and recovered pretty quickly; no SHTF scenario caused by both cases, let alone a TEOTWAWKI one. Post apocalyptic world still far beyond us. Max Rockatansky is not going to drive his Pursuit Special through the wasteland. So, it was just business-as-usual situation to me, with some little setbacks along the way due to the rise of the Covid-19. Alarmed? No. Why should I be alarmed? Well, maybe just a little bit. Not much. Not enough reason to worry too much.

Later, however, even before WHO announced it as a pandemic case, I had to revise my way of thinking. I stopped comparing Covid-19 to SARS and MERS, and started comparing it to the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic instead. Although the Covid-19 fatality rate was somewhat low in most countries (compares to the 1918 pandemic case, which infected around 500,000,000 people – about 25% of the world’s population at the time and the death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17,000,000 to 50,000,000, and possibly even as high as 100,000,000), I was surprised to see how quickly it spread across the globe. And although by then no case of infection was yet to be found in my country, I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that it’s a matter of “when” instead of “if”. And, knowing how undisciplined and careless most of fellow countrymen are, how difficult they are to follow sensible suggestion about social-distancing, I actually estimated that it would spread like a forest fire.

So I kept my eyes open and kept monitoring the news. With my luck, the news simply confirmed my estimation. In Italy, for example, there were only 20 confirmed cases with only 1 death in February 21, 2020. Within a week, the number of confirmed cases became 888 with 21 deaths. Within a month, there are already 59,138 confirmed  cases and 5,476 deaths. That’s a staggering figure…

In Indonesia, well, the first confirmed cases was announced in March 2, 2020. Only two confirmed cases, no death. And after a week, we only have 19 confirmed cases and still no death. Comforting? With a twisted mind like mine, I didn’t find it comforting at all. To me it’s a confirmation of what I expected earlier, that it’s only a matter of “when” and that it’s spreading. After all, from 2 cases to 19 cases means a 1,000%-jump and to me a 1,000%-jump  is not comforting figure at all when it comes to a pandemic. And before two weeks since it was announced, we already had 5 deaths out of 96 confirmed cases. And by March 22, 2020, only 20 days after the first 2 cases were officially announced, we already have 514 confirmed cases with 48 deaths.

Covid-19 pandemic in Indonesia - Wikipedia

…that’s a rather alarming percentage…

Man, I hate it when I’m right….

“But hey, you have nearly 270,000,000 people in your country, and 514 confirmed is such a small percentage, right?” someone may ask. Wrong. It’s not the percentage of the confirmed cases that worries me. It’s how quickly it spreads, the high fatality rate which indicates how unready we are to deal with it, and the undeniable fact of how undisciplined and careless my fellow countrymen are. We knew how it spreads, we knew how to prevent it from spreading or at least to slow it down, and still we ignored it. And when it becomes clearer that things may go worse, people were starting to rush into the stores and malls and grocery stores and many are starting to stockpiles just about anything from hand sanitizer and toilet paper to food and other primary needs.

One my point out that it’s a rather normal reaction in such a situation. Be that as it may, not everyone react that way. Many of us don’t rush and buy and stockpile things. They don’t because they can’t, and they can’t because they don’t have the money. They simply can’t afford doing it, and with things starting to become rather difficult to find, prices go up considerably and make it even more difficult for the poor.

Now this is where the title is becoming relevant. Why? Because although the pandemic alarms me considerably, I’m more worried about how people would react to it. When things are becoming difficult to but and getting to be much more expensive  (or worse, disappearing), it may lead to something scarier than a pandemic: riots and looting.

Am I paranoid? I don’t think so. I know my fellow countrymen. I know how nice and friendly they are, and I also know how easily these nice and friendly people can change into an angry mob, especially in the city area. Things may be better in the rural areas, though, especially in the off-the-grid areas.

And if the riots and looting do happen, the rural area is where most of the city folks would run to; no chance of fleeing abroad. And that’s assuming the cities are not locked down due to the pandemic.

That being said, wouldn’t it be better to bug out now while you still can?

Yes, and no. Yes, because things may happen as in that aforementioned scenario and the earlier you bug out the better your chance of survival will be. No, because people are easily scared and tend to react violently because of that. You bug out early and some people see you, well, if they didn’t even think about bugging out earlier, trust me, seeing others bugging out would inspire them to do the same. Before you know it, it would be a grand exodus. Traffic will jam, crowds will gather; ideal situation for spreading the virus more easily.

Now if you think about it, would you still want to bug out right away? What are you going to do? Going up all the way hiding in the mountain and start yelling “Wolverines!” every now and then?

Bugging out may well be necessary in the future, but not now. For now, the best thing to do is staying home, trying to slow down the spreading of the virus. Don’t stockpile anything excessively and unnecessarily. Everybody start stockpiling and and prices go up, everybody will suffer and the less fortunate will suffer even more.

Me, with my office being closed down for the next two weeks, I’m staying home with my family most of the time, working remotely from home. My sons are schooling online using Google Classroom. Apart from those, life goes on normally to us. We watch TV, we play games, we eat, we sleep, we shower, and we joke around as usual…

My bug-out bag

My bug-out gears

….but of course I keep my bug-out bag ready, just in case.

Stamp

Wikipedia, For The Knowledgeable Only?

•November 11, 2017 • 2 Comments

 

 

Most of you have heard of Wikipedia, have visited Wikipedia, have used Wikipedia, and some have even contributed to Wikipedia. It’s a popular enough reference among bloggers, myself included. Some bloggers frequently used materials quoted from Wikipedia, either in the article or in the comment box.

However, just how reliable is Wikipedia, as an encyclopedia? Considering that it’s a “free encyclopedia that anyone can edit”? How sure can you be the article you read there haven’t been altered by some vandals? Or do you need to be knowledgeable first before using Wikipedia, which means Wikipedia is a “free encyclopedia for people with vast knowledge only”?

 

Skeletor editing Wikipedia

Skeletor editing Wikipedia

 

This one episode of Penny Arcade webcomic covers that topic efficiently (click on the pic to get a clearer view). It’s an old episode, and some of you have probably read it, but the topic is still relevant even today: a clever vandal can easily make a small change which is rather difficult to detect, yet significant enough to make a big difference.

 

 

FAQ

Q: “How did you find out about that one Penny Arcade’s particular cartoon anyway?”

A: “Why, I read Wikipedia, of course.” 

 

 

Stamp

Eliminating War

•November 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment

 

Man created war and is now trapped in his own creation. Somebody told me that, a long, long time ago. The person who told me that believes that there’s no way men can escape this game once it’s set in motion. I used to agree with that opinion.

Not anymore. Not after I heard about an unhistorical idea conceived by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, when he was still a shinobi serving Oda Nobunaga. Unhistorical? Yes, it was said by Toyotomi in a gekika manga created by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima, Path Of The Assassin, the story of Hattori Hanzō, the master ninja whose duty it was to protect Tokugawa Ieyasu.

 

0040-004

 

The idea was actually very simple it’s brilliant. To rid the world of war completely, men do not really need to try to hold on to peace. Trying it will only create a situation we’ve already k experienced before, and that’s what we called Cold War. Trying to keep the peace forced us into a sort of global Mexican stand-off called MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction). Both sides take the idea that if you want peace (and to maintain it) you have to be ready to go to war. That will work up to some degree, provided both sides are led by level-headed sane leader.

No sir, that’s not a good way to rid the world of war completely. Definitely not by trying to keep such a forced peace. Instead, men need a totally new general rule of war.

We are all aware that in a war it is the soldiers who fight in the front, led by their officers, with the generals planning the steps behind them, and the supreme leaders waiting and giving orders from their castles. Like flies, the soldiers are the first to die. That’s the general rule of war.

Now, what if all supreme leaders of each nation in the world are to agree to an agreement that in any war it have to be the supreme leaders of each party who fight first? And when the supreme leaders fall, it is the turn of the generals of both sides to fight each others? And when the generals die off, it is the turn of the senior officers to fight? And after all the senior officers of both sides bite the dust, it is the turn of the junior officers of both sides to fight each others? And the soldiers are the last to go to war after all the officers and NCOs are gone for good?

Very likely, when the soldiers are the only ones left to fight (and of course their numbers are far greater than all the supreme leaders, generals, senior officers, junior officers and NCOs put together), they already lost the reason to go to war. Why? It’s simply because a war is always started by the supreme leaders, no matter what their excuses are.

 

This idea is very simple it’s brilliant. Unfortunately, it’s also too sane for this insane world.

 

 

Stamp

Someday When I Grow Up I Will…

•November 9, 2017 • 2 Comments

 

 

“Son, what do you want to be when you grow up?” I was three or four years old when I was first asked this question by my father. Like most other people, this question was repeatedly asked to me over the years. And like most people, I gave different answers for any different period. For a brief moment, whenever I was asked this question, I thought I knew the answer. However, as I grew older, I found it more and more difficult to answer the question, because I learned somewhere along the way that although it’s normal for people to imagine growing up and working their dream profession, most people simply grow up and be perfectly content working in an occupation completely different from their wishes.

These days I find out that it’s becoming more stressful for any young people to answer such a question. Most of the high-school students I know only know the world around them, which usually includes television, smartphone, and what their parents do. Their career goals are heavily influenced by their present culture and surrounding, but most of time, after they have a better understanding of a job’s requirements, they change their plans. They find out that’s it a world totally different from their previous expectations and most don’t like it. Sadly, some (if not most) of them simply waste their time by hating the world instead of trying to create a world they can fit in.

 

Men-Never-Grow-Up-Meme

 

My case is, more or less, the same. Different career goals, including being a comic artist and a diplomat, were set on my mind over the years. And over the years one goal replaced another, depending on the situation and surroundings as I grew up (a voice suddenly comes out of nowhere, “What do you mean, ‘you grew up’, kid?” Ha-ha, very funny guys, you may jump out of that window now). I suppose that’s the way it goes, goals simply come and go.

Where am I now? Fortunately, I am right now with an occupation that I love. I wish other other people gets as lucky as I am, but believe me when I say that it’s not pure luck that got me here. There are three important factors, and they are:

 

  1. I know myself
  2. I learned about the world of works
  3. I learn what it takes to do it better than other people

 

I owe the first one to the J-Dorama Tokyo Love Story. I saw a scene of a crowd of expressionless people going to work. They looked so much like robots and I think to myself, “Somewhere along the line, those people used to cheerful and playful children; happy and content with their lives. What went wrong? What turned them into such joyless rubbery working machines?” and I came up with the idea that they simply let their lives flow like a river, instead of making it like a dam. And it’s all because they don’t know who they really are and what they really want. That’s when I decided to learn more about myself. I took a semester break (unauthorized, of course) to travel alone. I thought that if I want to know myself, I have to see how I function with a bigger world with unknown possibilities.

What did I find? Only one thing and that’s that I like people. I vaguely concluded that I don’t want a job providing goods, but the one providing services. The two other factors simply follow the first one naturally.

So here I am, not really a rich man but well above average with an occupation I can enjoy. Am I happy? Without being as pretentious as saying that I am a happy man, and without being discouraging as saying that I am disappointed with my life, I can say that I am content with what I am now.

 

 

 

 

Oh, one last thing. Just in case you’re wondering what my answer was the first time my father asked that question, I answered, “A penguin.”

I still want it, though.

 

 

 

Stamp

O-SEN, DEAR O-SEN…

•November 9, 2017 • 3 Comments

 

 

A tart with a heart is a stock character found in many literary works and movies. If you remember Julia Roberts’ character in Pretty Woman, that’s probably the most commonly accepted example. It is simply depicting a bad girl outside with a heart of gold inside.

I’ve seen so many depictions of this stock character, either in literature or movies, that I found it a cliche. Good look, bad luck, bad environment, conscience of gold inside, over and over again. The stock character became a great pathetic bore to me. So anytime I found the appearance of this character I treated it with a suspicious skepticism, thinking that it would be like any other typical ‘tart with a heart’. I became desperate to see a different take on this character.

Enter Lone Wolf And Cub. Surely enough, a tart with a heart makes several appearances here. I didn’t expect much, so I wasn’t too disappointed to see that they’re still the same old character with little variation on the backgrounds. When I reached Volume 19, Chapter IV, “A Mother’s Flavor’, I still didn’t expect much until I finished this chapter. Clutching at the book tightly, I saw that my knuckles went white. The most surprising thing is, I felt a lump in my throat. What’s wrong with me? The last time such a thing happened to me was when I watched the film ‘Questo sì che è amore’ starring Sven Valsecchi many years ago as a 9-year-old kid; another lifetime, another me. I didn’t read the next chapter that night. Instead I read that fourth chapter over and over again, and it still had that same effect to me. I began to tell myself, “This feeling, it will pass. In the morning it will pass. Sooner or later it will pass. No way it will last forever. In the morning it will pass.” It didn’t.

What’s so special about this chapter, anyway? To begin with, it’s just a story of the woman O-Sen, “… a daruma prostitute, the lowest of the low, since she was eighteen… a woman with nothing but will… a woman who had lost her human heart…”. Just one of so many people encountered by the wandering ronin Ogami Itto and his son Ogami Daigoro on their quest of vengeance, another tart with a heart; or so I thought. In a desperate attempt to free herself from her pimp, she followed Itto & Daigoro, correctly calculating that with the Lone Wolf and Cub beside her no one would dare to do her any harm. Inside a hut, Itto gave Daigoro and her dried rice to eat. Finding the taste disgusting, she couldn’t bear to eat it. Instead she tried to cook her own rice for herself and Daigoro. Unfortunately, being a ‘woman of the floating world’, she had forgotten how to cook rice properly. It turned out that Daigoro ate the rice with gusto, despite the taste which she said “not fit for a dog”, because he was eating to live not for luxury. As Itto explained that Daigoro never knew his mother’s flavor, O-Sen began to experience a change of heart. Previously she remembered how her mother cook the “best rice” before she was sold to the brothel, then she began to feel a real sympathy to Daigoro who never learned about flavor from his mother. The next morning she made up her mind to make a real good rice, thus teaching Daigoro a ‘mother’s flavor’. As she went out to find some leaves to wrap the rice she was cooking, the Yakuza enforcers found her. One of them managed to slash her with a sword, mortally wounding her. Despite her wound, O-Sen kept on running and return to the hut. Dying, she still managed to finish the cooking, wrapped the rice and gave it to Daigoro, telling him that it’s his momma’s flavor, as well as her own momma’s flavor. Then she died. On the next page, Daigoro is seen holding the wrapped rice. Just holding it, staring at it.

Here, you can see some of the pages yourself:

 

 

 

This O-Sen, she is not a tart with a heart. She is an expansion of this stock character. She is what I call “a tart who regains her heart”, a far more difficult character to create and even harder to picture. From my point of view, it is possible to hold on to your conscience no matter how low you fall. However, once you’ve lost your conscience, it would be really-really-really hard to regain it; if not downright impossible. This is what O-Sen character means to me. She is a remainder of how precious human heart is.

Many nights later, I still read the same chapter over and over again, telling myself, “It will wear out in time, this feeling. It will pass, sooner or later. It will pass.”

 

 

You know something? It never did pass. And deep inside I suspect it never will…

 

 

Stamp

 
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