Memo to All: Newspapers Aren’t Here Just to Print What You Like

By Hector

There are, it is said, none as blind as those who will not see. To which one might add: And none so immune to the possibility of another point of view than one-eyed campaigners for high-profile causes. The cause of Schapelle Corby is one such minefield for any who suggest – reasonably – that whether one likes it or not, Indonesia’s justice system is something for Indonesia to control.

That there are problems with it is not the issue. That there are fractious and profoundly ill-informed critics of it in other countries is unsurprising. But it is also vexing. Laura Hart, who posted a comment on The Bali Times’ website on June 23, relating to the self-serving criticism advanced by that political scatty-cat Pauline Hanson, whose fish-and-chip dinners one hopes were better than her next venture as the misanthropic leader of the One Nation party in Australia, is perfectly at liberty to say, as she did:

No-one cares about Schapelle? Yeh, right. How about this women’s group which didn’t exist three months ago: The world is sick of this poor woman being tortured to death. Sick of monsters posting their support in places like this. Sick of governments hiding from this abuse. And yes, sick of The Bali Times printing hostile propaganda and damaging stories against her. (Our emphasis.)

Laura is free to think that. And she’s free to post her thoughts on our website. Feedback pages are designed for people wanting to let off a little steam, after all. But like so many others in these days of “social media,” she completely misunderstands the role of the newspaper in the field of communications. It is not to print only material with which she agrees.

Super Symbol

When India opened up its economy in the 1990s people elsewhere began to realise that the rupee was not just some historical monetary unit in a rollicking Kipling adventure set in the Raj, but an actual currency that had (increasing) value. And since bureaucrats and politicians like to look busy and engaged, lots of work has been done lately on creating a symbol for India’s money that can stand with national pride alongside the $, ¥, £ and (more recently) the € as instantly recognisable symbols rather than the pick-a-box Rs, Re and INR used up to now.

Five possibilities for a stylised R have been shortlisted and will go to ministers for consideration.

This little flight of fancy prompted musing at The Diary, where the number of zeroes required to convert the Indonesian rupiah into anything you can actually buy stuff with is viewed with eye-glazing disfavour. It’s also confusing – perhaps this is deliberate, to assist money-changers in the business of turning a profit – because the Rp10,000 and Rp100,000 notes are so indelibly similar in hue.

Perhaps the next time Indonesian financial bureaucrats and their ministers have nothing better to do, they might look at redesigning bank notes to emphasise the thousand as the primary number and deemphasise the string of useless noughts that follow, as many retailers already do in marking point-of-sale prices. That way we could have Rp100.000 and Rp10.000 notes that would not confuse, not to mention lovely new Rp1.000, Rp2.000, Rp5.000, Rp20.000 and Rp50.000 notes as well. It might even make it possible to have a Rp500.000 note to save carrying around a heap of paper change in your wallet.

Tautology Rules

There’s a place for old curmudgeons. Well, this old curmudgeon thinks so, anyway. And even curmudgeons accept that language changes, and that this is often for the best. Most of us have long recovered from the disappointment of discovering that dilemna had overnight become dilemma, and much more logically so.

The modern delight in tautology, however, is another matter. An anniversary is just that – it’s an annual thing, you know, like a year has passed since you last marked whatever it is you’re celebrating, commemorating, commiserating, etc. Simple, really. Today, though, you don’t just mark, say, something’s tenth anniversary. It has become, in these times when the unlettered rule, a 10-year anniversary.

One such excrescence appeared in a headline in The Bali Times last week. It proclaimed the 10-year anniversary of the human genome. Well, it wasn’t of course, in any sense. It was the tenth anniversary of some very clever boffins first sequencing it.

Boom With a View

Happy travellers who might want to sample the fare at Klapa, the restaurant atop the despoiled remains of the cliff at the environmental excrescence once known as Dreamland Beach, should go well armed with significant readies. And not just for lunch.

Parking there costs Rp15K, surely among the highest boom-gate entry prices in Bali and possibly the country.     

Drink Up

The Diary had to pass up one otherwise difficult-to-refuse invitation this week, as a result of another engagement: temporary absence in wintry Western Australia. The missed otherwise unmissable was a dinner at the Ayana at Jimbaran on Thursday evening – it ended at the Rock Bar with post-prandial cocktails; it’s a good thing the Ayana’s Inclinator is there to return Rock Baristas to the cliff-top – at which thoroughly remarkable Chilean wine from Casa Lapostolle was explained by winemaker Diego Urra.

Even the benefit of being (temporarily) in a place with drinkable wine at affordable prices pales somewhat when it means missing out on a night at the Ayana (always fun, particularly in the cerebrally decorative presence of hotel publicist Marian Hinchliffe) at which the redoubtable products of one of Chile’s finest vineyards are on offer. Salud.

Elephant in Room

That selfless campaigner for Bali as it should be (according to him and sundry other got-here-first-so-go-suck whickerers), the Jakarta-resident kilt-tilter Alistair Speirs, must surely have a conflict of interest in his promotion of Bali’s hotel sector. And we don’t just mean the inadvisability of appearing in an udeng, as he and others did in a photo circulated after the Bali Hotels Association’s recent golf charity dinner.

International hotels, after all, like any other investments, including the villas he so hates, are built on Land Formerly Used for Much More Suitable Purposes. But while he rails against land grabs – and tells anyone within earshot that his little glitter-mag, NOW! Bali, won’t accept real estate advertising because it is a Bad Thing – he is one of the leading cerebrals behind the Bali Hotels Association’s flat non-come-on, Bali Is My Life.

Property development in Bali should of course be subject to controls and to proper planning procedures. We look forward to the national and provincial governments producing some and then ensuring they actually work and cannot be bribed away. But the Spear Carriers for Gaia and others (who seem also to want a no-jobs Bali), many of whom seem to be arguing for restraint now they’ve made their own pile, can’t have it both ways. By all means, let’s campaign for responsible development, sensitive architecture, even for Balinese gardens if Strangers like them, and all the rest.

We could start by finding some way for Balinese to capitalise on their only real asset (land) other than by selling it en masse to Jakarta plutocrats, other Indonesian robber barons, and disgracefully moneyed Bules. Perhaps Speirs could give his little Exclamation Mark a serious workout and ponder responsible answers to that conundrum.

Exclamatory Note: We see that another little canine appendage of a publication, FRV Travel, is now appearing without that idiotic ! between FRV and Travel.

Killer Chook

The Australian journalist Annabel Crabb, who used to scribble for the Fairfax newspaper group but flew the coop to national broadcaster the ABC last year, where she appears in The Drum, the ABC’s online political blog, and is a regular on the mustn’t-be-missed Sunday political show The Insiders, screened on Australia Network TV, has a delightful put-down style.

Her dissections of Australia’s political leaders, such as the (politically) late Kevin Rudd and his surprise immediate replacement, the magnificently Titian-headed Julia Gillard, are always required reading or viewing.

She’s great with a quick quip, too. Last year she told ABC radio in Adelaide her Dad had a chook called Julia. It had red feathers, attitude, bossed all the other chooks around and wouldn’t lay eggs.

We know now that it also possesses the killer instinct. Last week it assassinated the local rooster.

What a Treat

While we await the breathless cinema shortly to be presented by Hollywood’s interpretation of American self-discoverer Elizabeth Gilbert’s scribbling, Eat, Love, Pray (trumpets trill and strumpets swoon on August 13, we hear) The Diary has been viewing other movie fare, already available, drawn from screen interpretations.

These rarely work. Robert Kaplow’s 2003 novel Me and Orson Welles is a captivating word picture of New York in 1937 – how strange that that time now constitutes a “period piece” – and transports you, as all good writing should, to both the venue and the time. The 109-minute movie of the same is a true rarity in that it does work. Director Richard Linklater’s film, made in 2008, is very good indeed. And there were no superstars playing themselves, just actors (Claire Danes among them) who are a true tribute to their craft.

The Kuta-acquired DVD actually managed to run all the way without a hitch, too.

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One Response to “Memo to All: Newspapers Aren’t Here Just to Print What You Like”

  1. Svend Aage Laursen Says:

    This is to bad. I have protested often about the post transport to Bali. It is very very bad if they think they need to read all the letters before they deliver, or if they will post it at all. 4 weeks ago i send 4 letters with pictures to friends, it is still not there. i send it to post code number 80361 – 80117 – 80119 and to P.O. Box 3225.
    I cant believe that i am the only one who got this problems. Some of them working there should be fired.
    Regard from Svend Aage Laursen.

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