30 April 2004

Two Backgrounders on the Separatist Movement in Aceh

The East-West Center has just published two useful backgrounders on the separatist movement in Aceh in northern Sumatra in Indonesia.
The Free Aceh Movement (GAM): Anatomy of a Separatist Organization, by Kirsten E. Schulze. Policy Studies 2. Washington, DC: East-West Center Washington, 2004. ix, 76 pp. Paper, $5.00.

The province of Aceh is located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra in the Indonesian archipelago. Since 1976 it has been wracked by conflict between the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka; GAM), which is seeking to establish an independent state, and the Indonesian security forces seeking to crush this bid. At the heart of the conflict are center/periphery relations and profound Acehnese alienation from Jakarta. This paper aims to provide a detailed ideological and organizational "map" of GAM in order to increase the understanding of its history, motivations, and organizational dynamics. Consequently this paper analyses GAM's ideology, aims, internal structure, recruitment, financing, weapons procurement, and its military capacity. The focus of this study is on the recent past as the fall of Suharto not only allowed the Indonesian government to explore avenues other than force to resolve the Aceh conflict, but also provided GAM with the opportunity to make some changes to its strategy and to transform itself into a genuinely popular movement. It will be argued here that the key to understanding GAM in the post-Suharto era and the movement's decisions, maneuvers and statements during the three years of intermittent dialogue can be found in the exiled leadership's strategy of internationalization. This strategy shows that for GAM the negotiations, above all, were not a way to find common ground with Jakarta but a means to compel the international community to pressure the Indonesian government into ceding independence.

Security Operations in Aceh: Goals, Consequences, and Lessons, by Rizal Sukma. Policy Studies 3. Washington, DC: East-West Center Washington, 2004. ix, 58 pp. Paper, $5.00.

Since Indonesia's independence in August 1945, the province of Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra island has often been described as a center of resistance against the central government in Jakarta. The first uprising-the Darul Islam rebellion-began in 1953 and ended only in 1961 after the central government promised to grant special autonomy status to Aceh. When this promise was not fulfilled, another rebellion erupted in the mid-1970s. Unlike the Darul Islam rebellion which sought to change Indonesia into an Islamic state, the rebellion in 1970s took the form of a secessionist movement led by the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka; GAM). Despite its defeat in 1977 after the Indonesian military launched a security operation, another GAM-led rebellion broke out again in 1989--and again the Indonesian government responded swiftly with another military crackdown.

This paper examines the purpose, consequences, and lessons to be drawn from the security operations conducted by Indonesian forces in Aceh since 1990. As the vested interests of the TNI and its emphasis on a military solution have contributed to an escalation of the conflict, it argues that the military requires an exit strategy to be followed by socio-economic reconstruction. The paper is divided into four sections. The first outlines the root causes of the conflict and discusses military operations during the period 1990-98 when Aceh was designated a Military Operations Area (Daerah Operasi Militer; DOM). Security operations in Aceh between the downfall of Suharto's New Order regime in May 1998 and May 2003, when the government finally decided to impose martial law and launch a full-scale military crackdown in the province are explored in the second section. The third explores the conduct of the counterinsurgency operation during the first six months of martial law in the province. The final section looks at how the government's failure to consider the wider context of the conflict undermines the relative gains achieved on the military front. While security operations during the 1990s contributed to the aggravation of the problem--due primarily to the failure of Indonesia's litary to protect human rights--the military operation since May 2003 will not end the conflict in Aceh if the government fails to undertake non-military measures to address the root causes of the problem in the province.

The New Economics of Academia: Wanted: Really Smart Suckers

Reporter Anya Kamenetz has a must-read feature in The Village Voice (27 April) for anybody who has ever spent time working in academia--or who ever hopes to. It's entitled Generation Debt - the New Economics of Being Young, subtitled "Wanted: Really Smart Suckers: Grad school provides exciting new road to poverty."
Here's an exciting career opportunity you won't see in the classified ads. For the first six to 10 years, it pays less than $20,000 and demands superhuman levels of commitment in a Dickensian environment. Forget about marriage, a mortgage, or even Thanksgiving dinners, as the focus of your entire life narrows to the production, to exacting specifications, of a 300-page document less than a dozen people will read. Then it's time for advancement: Apply to 50 far-flung, undesirable locations, with a 30 to 40 percent chance of being offered any position at all. You may end up living 100 miles from your spouse and commuting to three different work locations a week. You may end up $50,000 in debt, with no health insurance, feeding your kids with food stamps. If you are the luckiest out of every five entrants, you may win the profession's ultimate prize: A comfortable middle-class job, for the rest of your life, with summers off....

But the Internet means no isolated community has to stay that way. A new group of tortured, funny, largely anonymous websites are providing an outlet for academics who feel like they're getting spanked by their alma mater. They have names like Invisible Adjunct, (a)musings of a grad student, Beyond Academe, and Barely Tenured, and they address the emotional just as much as the practical consequences of competing in, and losing, the academic job-market lottery.

Founded in February 2003, Invisible Adjunct quickly became one of the most popular such blogs. Dozens of regular posters followed discussion threads like "The Old Boy Network" and "Is Tenure a Cartel?" Invisible Adjunct's author—call her IA—is a New Yorker in her late thirties with a Ph.D. in British history, an adjunct for the past two years. "I've spent all these years and I've failed," says IA, who entered graduate school in 1993 and received her Ph.D. in 1999. "You agree to do this five-to-seven-year low-paid apprenticeship because you're joining this guild. And if you end up as an adjunct you think, wow, I'm really getting screwed over."

The also pseudonymous Thomas H. Benton was a frequent contributor to Invisible Adjunct's blog and has penned a series of cautionary columns for the Chronicle of Higher Education. He is even more blunt than IA. "The premise of graduate education in the humanities is a lie: Students are not apprentices preparing for a life of scholarship and teaching," he says. "They are a cheap source of labor and status for institutions and faculty and, after they earn their degrees, most join the reserve army of the academic underemployed." Benton, a professor at a small liberal arts college, warns his students about trying to follow in his footsteps. "My experience as a working-class kid who finally earned an Ivy League Ph.D. is that higher education is not about social mobility or personal enrichment; it is one trap among many for people who are uninitiated into the way power and influence operate in this culture."
Grad school applications are up slightly over the last decade, as unemployed college grads seek a haven from the job market. Every winter, a new crop of bright, bookish, maybe slightly fuzzy-headed kids, the kind who cover the sidewalks of the Lower East Side and Williamsburg, decide they're sick enough of the 9-to-5 grind to borrow some money and go back to school.

Unlike trade schools, most graduate programs do not offer prospective students detailed data on job placement, which varies widely from program to program. Tri-State Semi Driver Training School in Middletown, Ohio, for example, guarantees a job before you even start driving, while the American Language Institute in San Diego promises lifetime placement assistance to its teachers of English as a foreign language. Your local Ivy League English department can't offer the same deal: Last year, the Modern Language Association expected some 965 Ph.D.'s to be granted, while only 422 assistant professorships were advertised, a drop of 20 percent from the year before. In the foreign languages, there were only 263 positions advertised (for the 620 Ph.D.'s projected), a drop of one-third from the previous year. The MLA estimates that students who entered English programs in 2003 had a 20 percent chance of coming out with a tenure-track position. The situation is better in history, where the number of new Ph.D.'s in 2003 almost equalled the number of new jobs, after a decade of "overproduction," with growth coming in trendy specializations like the Middle East.

But numbers like these do little to deter the best students. "Top undergraduates are arrogant; they lack perspective," says Benton. "They've been fawned over all their lives, and they think grad school is there to help them realize their potential, not to use them up and toss them out."
The Chronicle (30 April) profiles the Invisible Adjunct at some length. Almost like an obituary.
Now, she senses that the Ph.D. in her pocket has grown stale.

"I have to confront the fact that my shelf life has expired," she says, "and I'm not going to get a job in the academy."
My sentiments match those in the comment posted by Anita Henderson on History News Network, where Ralph Luker noted the Village Voice article.
The reason grad students and adjuncts are taken advantage of is because they can be. And that's because there are too many of them. More than the market needs.

What's amazing is the sense of outrage in academic circles about the system, as if being a college instructor were different from other jobs. I've been through downsizing efforts in industries. Many, if not most, Americans have. People watching their earning potential fall through the floor. What they've worked to achieve for years become devalued in the marketplace.

Ivory tower academics must be oblivious to this, thinking that the old system of establishing yourself and then sitting back and letting the money roll in is in place. Rather than feeling sorry for themselves and their colleagues, they should try getting on with life the way most people do.

Lots of people want to be rock musicians. A few make it big, a few more earn comfortable livings. Most do it as a hobby along with their day job or barely squeak by. Lots of people want to be professional athletes. A few make it big, most don't.

There's nothing unique about academia. Social activists always say we need to tune inner city kids to reality, make them understand that they probably won't become sports stars, the odds against that are too high, so they should have some other plan to fall back on. Maybe we need to let these professor wannabes [learn] the same thing.
Here's my advice, from one who has made the transition out of academia, and back in, several times: Start early. Stay in practice. Avoid irrational optimism.

I first started after finishing high school in Japan (Canadian curriculum, not Japanese). I decided I didn't want to go to college. (I wasn't that eager to immigrate back to the U.S., either.) After working the summer in my uncle's service station--not just pumping gas and checking oil, but changing tires on farm tractors and logging trucks, I acquired a new appreciation for schoolwork. So I applied late to my father's alma mater, the University of Richmond, Va., where I was one of two "foreign" students--both American missionary kids, in fact. The Richmond Collegian interviewed us both, concluding thus.
Joel had visited the U.S. at several intervals before coming to UR. Joel said that his opinion of the U.S. changed each time he came. He said that he likes the U.S. better now than he did. However, he added, "When I read Mad Magazine in Japan, I thought the magazine exaggerated situations, but now that I’m here, I do not think the magazine does!"
I don't think I phrased it quite so awkwardly, but that's pretty much what I intended to convey. My U.S. college experience was not what the Asian edition of Newsweek had suggested it might be. Ferment, no. Boredom, yes. I dropped out in my sophomore year. The draft beckoned. The best I could do was opt for the Army language school. They gave me the 7th language on my list of 8: Romanian. So I spent my Vietnam-era Army days assigned to a stateside Civil Affairs unit that had more officers than enlisted men. I took a couple of extension courses on base, and spent a lot of time in the library and volunteering at the language lab on base: teaching an English class to Korean officers (always careful never to be seen in my enlisted uniform), and to a lovely class of Thai and Vietnamese army wives.

I took advantage of an early out to resume college, and managed to stretch my G.I. Bill benefits out well into my Ph.D. program, thanks to work-study, graduate assistantships, and other temporary or part-time jobs. I swore I wouldn't get married until finishing my dissertation, then did anyway. I swore I wouldn't accept full-time employment before finishing, then did anyway. I did finally manage to finish, mostly writing on weekends. And I finished only $2,000 in debt, which I paid off early! After spending most of the 1970s in grad school, I spent most of the 1980s doing computer support work in the business world (even taking a couple night classes in accounting), then migrated back into academic publishing during the 1990s.

In many ways, I'm a natural-born academic. But my wife teaches. Other friends and family teach. Heck, I've taught. And I know it's not for me. Nor is the long stretch of pre-tenure paranoia and post-tenure burnout. I suppose this blog is now my classroom. Whimsy is my syllabus. Attendance is optional. And there are no papers to mark. My day job pays the mortgage. But I do worry about how to encourage my daughter to pursue her interests--even more academic than mine--while steering her away from a career in academia.

UPDATE: Via an update to History News Network, I see that Erin O'Conner of Critical Mass adds further thoughts and outlines her own answer to "The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad grad school question":
Between the Chronicle of Higher Ed's farewell paean to the Invisible Adjunct, the current Crooked Timber thread attempting to theorize the unconcern and even contempt tenured academics display toward the adjunct labor that sustains their comfortable lifestyles, and yesterday's Village Voice piece on how you've got to be a hell of a sucker to go to grad school in the humanities or social sciences nowadays, I've been thinking a great deal not only about the politics of the academy, but about the politics of lamentation about the state of the academy.

There is something a bit, ummm, noisome in the spectacle of established, tenured academics clucking their virtual tongues and beating their virtual breasts about the terrible lot that has befallen the Invisible Adjunct and all those other adjuncts for whom she has so invisibly stood. What besides clucking are these folks doing to reform the abusive system that chewed IA up and spat her out? ...

You can say that this is a fine case of the pot calling the kettle black. After all, what have I been doing on Critical Mass since March 2002 besides lamenting the state of academe, and devoting considerable space to the corruption of the academic humanities? I've clucked about the exploitation of adjunct labor more than once on this blog, and I've done it from a tenured position whose shape is structurally dependent on all the non-tenure-track lecturers, adjuncts, and grad students that my department regularly employs to round out its course offerings. So where do I get off?

I'll know the exact answer to that question next week, when I decide which of several job offers teaching high school English to accept. In the meantime, I'll simply note that what gives me license to point fingers in this moment is that I am leaving academe--in no small part because I cannot see a way to resolve the many interlinked crises facing the academic humanities, and I cannot reconcile my beliefs in institutional fairness, personal and professional integrity, and, much more basically, education, with a life lived from within a university English department. I'm not sure the problems can be resolved at this point. And, frankly, I'm not sure they should be. The self-discrediting behavior of the humanist "haves" during the past several decades of progressive deprofessionalization, combined with their confirmed collective refusal to take their own disciplinarity seriously (whether as scholars or as teachers), doesn't suggest there is a whole lot worth saving....

There is one market, though, that is WIDE OPEN for humanities M.A.'s and Ph.D.'s, and that is the independent school market. "Independent" is mostly a contemporary code word for "private," though it can also mean "charter." Your Ph.D.--or, if you are ABD, your M.A.--is a very attractive qualification in this market....

Locating and applying for such jobs could not be easier. There are agencies whose entire mission is to match you with schools that are looking for candidates like you. The agencies are entirely free to the candidates. They are not gimmicks. They work.

Why do you hear absolutely nothing about this career option from within academe? Why do academic departments pretend this entirely dignified and deeply meaningful career path does not exist--even though it could be just what many of their otherwise unemployable Ph.D.'s, not to mention their dissatisfied faculty, are looking for? Why do they treat as beneath their notice a type of work that they ought to be embracing as a seriously significant alternative to the dead-end academic career of the adjunct? Do I really have to ask?

27 April 2004

Clarence Greathouse, Kentucky's Legal Advisor to King Kojong in Korea

GREATHOUSE, CLARENCE RIDGEBY (c. 1845-Oct. 21, 1899), journalist, lawyer, diplomat, was born in Kentucky, the son of Dr. Ridgeby Greathouse, an early emigrant to Ca1ifornia. In 1870 he went to San Francisco. He practised law with Louis T. Haggin, then, upon the latter's retirement, in the firm of Greathouse & Blanding--finally Wallace, Greathouse & Blanding. He was also active in local politics as a Democrat and in 1883 he became the general manager of the San Francisco Examiner, a Democratic daily. He continued in this position until 1886, when he was appointed consul-general at Kanagawa (Yokohama), Japan. Upon the confirmation of his appointment he left Washington May 31, 1886, and served successfully at his post for four years. At this time events and conditions in Korea were largely an enigma and a challenge to discovery to most foreigners in the Far East. Korea was also the one Asiatic country in which American influence and American participation in governmental affairs was at least the equal of that of any other Occidental nation. The successive American representatives in the Korean capital succeeded in so impressing the Korean King with the friendly and disinterested nature of the policy of their government that he was led to secure a comparatively large number of American advisors and on Sept. 12, 1890, Greathouse was engaged to serve as legal advisor to the Korean government. At that time there were eight Americans serving in Seul in various advisory capacities. The extent of American influence in Korea displeased the Chinese, but despite positive suggestions by the Chinese Resident against the employment of further foreign advisors, on Jan. 3, 1891, the Korean government gazetted Greathouse as a vice president of the home office and gave him charge of matters pertaining to foreign legal affairs. Gen. Charles Le Gendre [q.v.] at this time was a vice-president of the same office as foreign advisor to the King.

It is difficult to evaluate the work accomplished by Greathouse during his eight years in Korea. It is certain, however, that he secured the confidence of the King, and that for a time he was given complete charge of the trial of important political cases. He is also said to have acted as head of the Korean post-office department, but since during most of his service this department was weak and struggling he cannot be said to have accomplished much in this direction. His legal knowledge was often called upon in the drafting of conventions, in the constant negotiations with foreign representatives in Seul, and in the revising of Korean law and the reorganizing, at least on paper, of the Korean judicial system. His best-known work was in connection with the trial of the Koreans implicated in the murder of the Queen of Korea by Japanese and Korean conspirators on Oct. 8, 1895. After the King had escaped from his Japanese and Korean captors to the safety of the Russian legation, he asked Greathouse to supervise the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of the Queen. Greathouse attended all sessions of the court, examined the witnesses, and had the trials conducted in a thoroughly modern manner. It was owing to his influence that the trials were free from the gross faults which customarily disfigured the proceedings of all Korean courts, and that for general approximation to Western notions of justice and integrity they were in every way remarkable. During the last few years of his life Greathouse acted as confidential advisor to the King on foreign affairs. As far as the records show, he was never married; his mother remained with him until his death. While he was in Japan he secured the services of a young Goanese, H. A. Dos Remedios, as his secretary. When he went to Korea he took his assistant with him and Dos Remedios came practically to occupy the position of son as well as secretary, although he was never officially adopted. Greathouse died in Seul while still in the service of the government of Korea.

[The only trustworthy sources on the life of Greathouse are in the archives of the Department of State, and in the former American legation in Seul, Korea. Unfortunately, these are very meager. For printed sources see the Korea Repository, Mar. 1896, aud the Examiner (San Francisco), Nov. 18, 1899.] H.J.N.
SOURCE: Dictionary of American Biography. Greathouse was survived by his mother, who donated her diaries and documents to the U. of Kentucky Library in Lexington. I attended first grade at Greathouse Elementary in Louisville, KY, after kindergarten in Kokura, Japan. All I remember about school that year was nuclear attack drills and warnings about not allowing strangers to pick you up in their cars. (I guess nowadays kids are more scared of their classmates.) I never knew until decades later that Clarence Greathouse was a Kentucky notable who provided legal advice to the Meiji government, then to the Korean court. His whiskey-swilling mother was said to be one of the distinctive characters in the diplomatic community in Seoul. I spent some time exploring her diary and other documents in the Greathouse archives at UKy at few years back. Most of her diaries are concerned with diplomatic gatherings, especially this or that "tiffin" (high tea), with increasing worry about her son's stomach ailments. I got the impression he drank himself to death.

A series of letters from other members of the diplomatic community in Seoul during the 1890s is online here.

26 April 2004

Mining Muninn: Shanghai in August 1945

While perusing the archives of the Muninn blog I recently discovered, I came across another interesting bit of historical detail posted on 26 March, which describes the content of the newspaper Shenbao in Shanghai in August 1945:
You pick up the most circulated newspaper in Shanghai on August 15th, 1945, the day of Japan's surrender. What do you see? Well, the news of the surrender hasn't made it for the day's issue. Instead, in the days leading up to the end of the war the newspaper focuses on the Russian advances in Manchuria, or the arrival of B29 bombers attacking Japanese targets in China. Of course, you still see the usual advertisements for CPC Coffee, and various brands of penicillin. But how will the newspaper change in the next few days as Japan's control over Shanghai comes to an end? While this wasn't a question related to my research, it was at the back of my mind as I skimmed through an important Shanghai newspaper called 申報 from the second half of the year 1945....

CPC Coffee, which had long had very recognizable, if somewhat boring, advertisements depicting a can a coffee, finally join the victory bandwagon on the 21st by getting rid of the can image and replacing it with three victory slogans for the Allies, China, and Chiang Kai-shek. They scrap this on the 26th and add an image of a caucasian drinking coffee. Prices still look kind of inflated on the 26th. Meimei Si is selling coffee for 18,000 yuan and 'Victory' sundaes for 40,000. Also on the 26th we see the sudden appearance of radio channel advertisements, promising the latest news from San Francisco or India. Not far from Meimei Si's victory sundaes is a very short article noting the mass suicide of a group of Japanese soldiers in front of the imperial palace. The editorial of the day emphasizes the need to preserve social order and reminds everyone that Chiang Kai-shek has ordered that no-one is to show hostility towards the surrendered Japanese soldiers. Thousands of them are still wandering around with their weapons, some have yet to officially hand over control of the cities they control. Most of them are not disarmed until weeks or months later and some of them end up helping one side or the other in the conflict to come. In these early postwar days, the KMT and the Communists are in a mad nation-wide rush to get their troops into each Japanese controlled area to accept the hand-over of power first. While the two sides were nominally allied during the war against the Japan, the country is on the verge of a new civil war between the two. In the first few weeks, however, we see Mao and Chiang inviting each other to tea parties and banquets.

Mining Muninn: 102 Former Soldiers in Nanjing, 1937

Mining some of the historical posts on the Muninn blog I recently discovered, I came across an interesting entry on 19 March, 102 Former Soldiers in Nanjing, 1937:
I went on a used book buying spree last week, finally blocking off some time to roam the stores near Waseda's campus one afternoon. One book I snapped up was a cheap copy of the normally $60 oral history book ... edited by ... (Matsuoka Tamaki). The book is part of a series of new Japanese books coming out which is methodically publishing vast amounts of primary materials on the Nanjing Massacre. Don't read this posting if you are squeamish. I believe the books are associated with a group of historians who are disgusted by the revisionist nationalist scholars who once completely denied that anything horrible happened at the fall of Nanjing and now still claim that there was nothing out of the ordinary by the standard of modern warfare. While mainstream Japanese historians, along with the rest of the world, recognize that the fall of Nanjing was followed by an unusually horrible amount of slaughter and rape, I think most of them are tired of playing games with the revisionists and thereby sustaining the idea that there is some controversy worth debating. Rather than engaging them in futile debates, this particular group of historians seems focused on getting as much raw data as possible into print. The two newest books that I have seen are a collection of statements by Chinese witnesses of the massacre (which of course, the revisionists dismiss as liars or government stooges) and the volume I purchased collecting the statements of the soldiers themselves.
The rest is not pleasant, but really should be read.

25 April 2004

Buddhism and the Rise of Written Vernaculars

Why are there so many writing systems in India and and so few in China? In 1994, Victor H. Mair addressed this question in an article in the Journal of Asian Studies. Here's the abstract.
The premise of Victor H. Mair's wide-ranging article is that written Chinese emerged not as transcribed speech, but rather as a special, radically shortened cipher with its own grammatical and expressive conventions. He calls this written form Literary Sinitic (LS) and finds the disparity between it and any form of spoken Chinese, which he refers to under the general heading of Vernacular Sinitic (VS), is of a wholly different nature than the contrast between written Latin and any modern written or spoken Romance language. Indeed, he argues, Literary Sinitic remained incapable of serving as a means of recording spoken Chinese or any other language. Thus, for Mair, the question becomes: How did vernacular written forms emerge in a milieu in which Literary Sinitic dominated intellectual life? He finds the earliest instances of written Vernacular Sinitic occur typically in Buddhist texts. He believes the Buddhist emphasis on teaching through the local dialect (desa bhasa) was a major impetus for the development of written vernacular, but concludes it is difficult to determine exactly which aspects of Buddhism had the greatest influence on the slow maturation of written Vernacular Sinitic.
And here's Mair's conclusion.
We have seen how, under the probable influence of the Indian concept of desa bhasa brought to China by Buddhism, numerous peoples in East Asia created a whole series of written vernaculars. While Chinese authorities stubbornly resisted recognition of any of their own vernaculars as a national language--probably due to the extremely high prestige and power of LS--the Buddhists used the vernacular liberally in their own writings. Once proffered as a functional alternative written language, use of the vernacular steadily grew until, by the late Ming-early Ch'ing [= Qing], it is likely that as many books were being printed in vernacular or a heavily vernacularized literary style as in LS, not withstanding the censure and ridicule of strait-laced scholars. Finally, even the Manchus, who already had their own written national language, which was swiftly dying out because of pervasive sinicization, yielded to the idea that their Sinitic subjects, too, needed a national language keyed to one of the spoken vernaculars. After the agitation of the May Fourth Movement [in 1919] led by progressive Chinese intellectuals and students, many of whom were exposed to radical ideas about language and other aspects of culture and society through the window of Japan, kuo-yü [= guoyu, Mandarin] was publicly proclaimed the official written language of the nation. This marked the formal end of the multimillennial separation between book language (shu-mien-yü [= shumianyu]) and spoken language (k'ou-yü [= kouyu]) in China.

That Buddhism played a crucial role in the evolution of the written vernacular throughout East Asia is beyond any doubt. The question remains, however: Which aspect of Buddhism was responsible for these momentous changes? Was there some religious doctrine belonging to Buddhism that fostered the written vernacular? Was it the fondness for storytelling, preaching, and public speaking by the early Buddhists in the language of the people? Did the ostensible orality of Buddhist scripture have anything to do with the origins of the written vernacular in China? Was the fact that most of the early translators of Buddhist texts into Sinitic were foreigners with a poor command of the literary language a significant factor? And did the phonological sophistication of Indian linguistical science lend credibility to the spoken vis-à-vis the written? What of the elaborate, rigorously defined Indian traditions of chanting and recitation? And may the social values, institutions, and position of Buddhism have contributed to the rise of the written vernaculars? Last but not least, did Buddhist practice have anything to do with the validation of the vernacular? Perhaps I have entirely overlooked some vital facet of Buddhism that contributed to this process. In the end, Buddhist support for the written vernacular may best be identified as a complex combination of diverse factors, all of which were determined by an integrated socioreligous ideology.
SOURCE: Victor H. Mair, "Buddhism and the Rise of the Written Vernacular in East Asia: The Making of National Languages," Journal of Asian Studies 53 (1994): 705, 707-751

UPDATE: The comment thread on this at Language Hat is most interesting.

24 April 2004

How Stalin and the Cultural Revolution Preserved a Chinese Tradition

In the 16 & 23 February issue of The New Yorker, Peter Hessler's "Letter From China" (not available online) hints at how close the PRC came to abandoning Chinese characters for an alphabet.
In 1936, as the Communists were gaining power, Mao Zedong told an American journalist that alphabetization was inevitable. When Mao finally took control of China, in 1949, many expected the government to replace characters with Latin letters, as Vietnam had done earlier in the century. But in the summer of 1950 Mao handed down a surprise decision, calling for linguists to develop a "national-in-form" alphabet--a new writing system, whose letters would be distinctively Chinese.

John DeFrancis, a linguist at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, has studied this period, and he told me that the inspiration for Mao's order has always been a mystery. DeFrancis recommended that I speak with Zhou Yougang, a ninety-seven-year-old linguist who had worked on the writing reform committee ... [which] considered more than two thousand proposed writing systems. Some were derived entirely from Chinese; others used Latin or Cyrillic alphabets; a few combined fragments of Chinese characters with foreign letters. There were Chinese alphabets in Arabic.... In 1955, the committee narrowed the field to six alphabetic finalists: Latin, Cyrillic, and four completely new "Chinese" systems....

In 1956, Mao and other leaders concluded that the Chinese alphabets weren't yet usable. They sanctioned the Latin scheme, known as Pinyin, for use in early education and other special purposes, but not as a replacement script. And they decided to simplify a number of Chinese characters. This was described as an "initial reform stage": Mao, it seems, wanted more time to consider the options.

But writing reform soon became entangled in politics. In April of 1957, the Communist Party launched the Hundred Flowers campaign, during which intellectuals were invited to speak their minds, however critical.... Then, after only five weeks, Mao abruptly terminated the ... campaign. By the end of the year, more than three hundred thousand intellectuals had been labelled Rightists....

I asked Zhou what had happened to the four Chinese alphabets, and he told me that all records had apparently been destroyed. "It was easy to lose things like that during the Cultural Revolution," he said.

The Cultural Revolution, which lasted from 1966 to 1976, represents the climax of China's disillusionment with its traditions. But, ironically, the upheaval helped protect the characters. When the chaos finally ended, the Chinese no longer had an appetite for radical cultural change, and both the public and the government rejected further attempts at writing reform. Today, almost nobody advocates alphabetization, and Zhou predicts that China won't give up its characters for at least another century, if ever. Even the simplificiation didn't get very far. It reduced the number of brushstrokes that make up some of the most commonly used characters, but the principles of the writing system remain the same. Essentially, it's the equivalent of converting an English word like "through" to "thru." Zhou and others believe that simplification hasn't had a significant effect on improving literacy rates. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and many overseas Chinese communities don't use the simplified system, and traditionalists despise them.

In hindsight, Mao's 1950 command doomed writing reform; without the search for a national-in-form alphabet, China likely would have adopted Latin script before the Cultural Revolution. When I asked about Mao, Zhou said that the turning point was the Chairman's first state visit to the Soviet Union, in 1949. "Mao asked Stalin for advice about writing reform," Zhou said. "Stalin told him, 'You're a great country, and you should have your own Chinese form of writing. You shouldn't simply use the Latin alphabet.' That's why Mao wanted a national-in-form alphabet."
NOTE: The impetus to blog this (after losing track of it) came from reading a post on the fascinating blog Muninn (discovered via Language Hat) about Chinese character reform in Taiwan, where both Chiang Kai-shek and a solid majority of Taiwanese favored it as late as 1954. I wonder if it was abruptly abandoned precisely because Mao adopted it after letting alphabetization--and any intellectuals who opined about it--fall by the wayside.

23 April 2004

The Perpetually Invisible Crisis in Darfur, Western Sudan

On 26 July 1985, The Times (of London) reporter Paul Vallely wrote a story about aid efforts in western Sudan entitled "Riding the Lifeline Lorry." Here's what Robert Kaplan has to say about it in his book, Surrender or Starve: Travels in Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea (Vintage, 2003): "To my mind, it was the best single feature story I ever read about the famine. It's too bad the U.S. public never got to see it." And here's Kaplan's retelling of the story in his chapter entitled "Aid: Rolling the Rock of Sisyphus" (pp. 195-196).
For weeks the requests had been trickling into the old British garrison post of El Geneina, the furthermost town in the west of Sudan....

These particular requests came from the chief of police at Beida, through the cursive handwriting of the little border town's scribe. At first they were for food. Then last week came a plea for shrouds.

"We have nothing in which to bury our dead, and 15 children died yesterday," said the letter addressed to Peter Verney, the Save the Children (SCF) representative in Geneina.
As Vallely related the story, so little food was coming into Geneina from Khartoum on account of floods and other difficulties that there was not enough to send onward to Beida, about fifty miles south along Sudan's western border with Chad. Those dying of starvation in Beida were all Chadian refugees, and the local Sudanese commissioner Sherife was not cooperating in the release of emergency grain. Finally, however, Verney managed to secure 150 sacks of food and seed. Then the head of the Sudanese haulage firm doubled and tripled the price. Verney did not have enough cash on hand to pay for the lorry and in desperation went to the local army brigadier in Geneina, Ibrahim Muhammad, who told Verney, "This is the situation everywhere. No food is reaching the extremities. It reaches the hands but not the fingers. Of course you can have one of my trucks.

Three hours after leaving Geneina for Beida, the food lorry got caught in a torrential rain. Vallely and the driver whom Verney had rented were stuck for nine hours in the mud; sixty peasants helped to dig the two men out.
It was two days before we reached Beida.... We were welcomed by Muhammad Ahmed Bashir, the local chief of police. Over sweet tea on the rafia mat before his office he was effusive in his thanks for the food.

"I will put it straight into the store with the other food." The other food? "Yes, we already have 140 bags in store but we have had no authority from Sherife or his nephew Ali Mansour to release it."
Because of Sudanese bureaucracy, Chadians were starving to death with food only a few feet away. The next day, Ali Mansour, the executive officer of the rural council, agreed to distribute the grain. "You will take my photograph," he said to a news agency photographer with Vallely. "This will be good for me."

The distribution caused a riot among the refugees. Sudanese soldiers responded by lashing at the crowd with whips in all directions. The news agency photographer started snapping away, even though editors had become bored with pictures of starving Africans. The photographer confided to Vallely that starving Africans being whipped had novelty value that would result in his pictures gaining wide distribution. Sure enough, the photos of the riots in Beida were picked up in Europe.
Nearly two decades later, we're still "rolling the rock of Sisyphus." The Washington Post editorialized on 3 April 2004:
ACCORDING TO THE United Nations, one of the world's worst humanitarian crises now afflicts a Muslim people who face a horrific campaign of ethnic cleansing driven by massacre, rape and looting. These horrors are unfolding not, as Arab governments and satellite channels might have it, in Iraq or the Palestinian territories, but in Sudan, a member of the Arab League. Maybe because there are no Westerners or Israelis to be blamed, the crisis in Darfur, in northwestern Sudan, has commanded hardly any international attention. Though it has been going on for 14 months, the U.N. Security Council acted on it for the first time yesterday, and then only by issuing a weak president's statement. More intervention is needed, and urgently.

The victims of the ongoing war crimes are non-Arab African people who have lived in the Darfur region for centuries. In February 2003, as the Sudanese government began to negotiate a peace agreement with rebel movements representing the non-Arab peoples of the south, an insurgent movement appeared in Darfur demanding more government resources and power-sharing. The Khartoum-based government responded by sending troops and by enlisting Arab tribes in the region as allies. Early this year, after the breakdown of a cease-fire, it launched a scorched-earth offensive in the region that, according to the United Nations and human rights groups, has taken on the character of an ethnic war.

According to a report issued this week by Human Rights Watch, "the government of Sudan and allied Arab militia, called janjaweed, are implementing a strategy of ethnic-based murder, rape and forcible displacement of civilians." More than 750,000 people have been forced from their homes, and 100,000 more have fled across the border to neighboring Chad, an area of desperate poverty and little water. The dead number in the tens of thousands, though no one knows for sure how many: Humanitarian aid groups have had almost no access to the Darfur region.

For years Sudan's government, a dictatorship headed by Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Bashir, waged a similarly ruthless campaign against the rebellious south. At last, under considerable international pressure -- much of it from the Bush administration -- it agreed to a cease-fire and negotiations that now inch toward a peace settlement. Some of the governments that pushed for that accord are concerned the deal may be disrupted if the international community also presses Mr. Bashir about Darfur. They should take a lesson from the 10th anniversary this month of the Rwandan genocide, which the United Nations failed to stop: Political and diplomatic calculations should never prevent the international community from intervening to stop mass murder.
As usual, the best coverage for this type of out-of-the-way story is not in the international media, but in blogs such as Head Heeb, who has been assiduous in covering Darfur: on 21 April, 18 April, 25 March, 19 March, 16 February, 10 February, 4 February, 30 January, 7 January, and elsewhere.

UPDATE: Foreign Dispatches offers a blistering assessment of the statement by the U.N. "Human Rights" Commission on this tragedy.
Absolutely incredible! Instead of condemning Sudanese actions, the UN "Human Rights" Commission actually decided on a message of solidarity with the Sudanese government! ...

UPDATE: This VOA article entitled "Human Rights Commission Losing Credibility, NGOs Warn" is also worth reading; frankly, I'd say the Human Rights Commission and the parent UN lost their credibility a very long time ago, and only now are the NGOs belatedly waking up to that reality.
UPDATE, 4 May 2004: Sudan has just been re-elected to the UN "Human Rights" Commission. What purpose does this serve?

22 April 2004

A Growing Malaria Problem

In honor of Earth Day, last night's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS showed a segment about the possible danger of global temperatures rising enough to permit bird malaria to wipe out unique endangered species at higher elevations in Hawai‘i. As one who has experienced repeated bouts of human malaria (P. vivax, not the dreaded P. falciparum variety), I thought I might mark the occasion by reminding readers yet again that the human malaria problem is already here and growing fast, and that we do not lack the means to fight it, if we are persistent and careful and rethink old shibboleths about DDT.

Most of what Ellen Ruppel Shell wrote about the Resurgence of a Deadly Disease in The Atlantic back in 1997 still applies.
All but obliterated in the developed world half a century ago, and suppressed in the Third World in the 1950s and 1960s [thanks to DDT!], malaria has since returned in full force to North Africa, India, Southeast Asia, China, South America, and the Caribbean. Worldwide incidence of the disease has quadrupled in the past five years, and resistance to available drugs for prevention and treatment is growing rapidly. Nearly 40 percent of the world's population lives in regions where malaria is endemic, and millions more live in areas that are encountering the disease for the first time in decades....

Nonetheless, the United States has shown little interest in the problem. Malaria is transferable in blood, yet it is not screened for in the American blood supply. The country's Anopheles mosquito population has gone unmonitored for more than fifty years. "We just don't know the potential for transmission," says John Beier, a professor of tropical medicine at Tulane University. Temperature and humidity may well be among the most important factors in the rate of spread of the disease, yet we have only a vague notion of what effect, if any, climate change will have on malaria transmission -- if, for example, global warming can be expected to bring malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases north from Mexico. Most Americans seem to think the disease has been eradicated or, at worst, is confined to the tropics. In fact there are few places on earth that cannot sustain a malaria epidemic.
A much more iconoclastic take on Earth Day appeared in the San Francisico Chronicle, coauthored by Patrick Moore, apostate cofounder of Greenpeace who left to become chairman and chief scientist of Greenspirit, and Nick Schulz, editor of TechCentralStation.com.
Ironically, the very movement that made its presence felt in rallies across this country in 1970 and that thrives in the developed world today must shoulder much of the blame for the developing world's sorry state. It is impeding both economic and environmental progress due to an agenda that is anti-development, anti-technology and, in the final analysis, anti-human.

For example, today's eco-activists boast that they have blocked more than 200 hydroelectric projects in the developing world over the past two decades. It is true that hydro power has a large ecological footprint, creating lakes and filling valleys. But it is a renewable energy that makes it possible to read after the sun goes down, boosting literacy in poor areas. It provides controlled irrigation for better crop yields and mitigates flooding and the loss of life and property damage....

Or consider that the pesticide DDT has been proven to radically reduce malaria in South Africa, while activist groups such as the World Wildlife Fund push for a total ban on its use. It only needs to be sprayed inside houses, where it poses no threat to the external environment, to make it effective. Despite the ability to stop malaria in its tracks with DDT -- as the United States had already done before its use was prohibited here -- 300 million people will become infected every year and at least 1 million will die, according to the World Health Organization.
UPDATE: Abiola Lapite's Foreign Dispatches and Virginia Postrel's Dynamist blog jumped on this story before I did: Abiola on 11 April (where I found the NYT article); Postrel on 19, 20, 21, and again on 21 April (where I found the Atlantic article).

UPDATE 2: Now the Washington Post has weighed in.
A large portion of the blame for the increased incidence of malaria can be laid at the feet of WHO itself, as well as other aid agencies such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

These agencies' mosquito-prevention and drug-treatment policies in Africa are in tatters. A group of prominent malaria experts has even charged the agencies with malpractice for their reluctance to supply new, more expensive and better drugs for treatment [like artemisinin combination therapies (ACTs)], and for sticking instead with essentially ineffective medicines [like chloroquine and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine]. But if WHO and its partners are serious about reducing the malaria threat, they need to reconsider their approach and start using all the weapons available to combat malaria -- and soon.

While AIDS gets all the attention for destroying the young adults of Africa, few Westerners are aware that malaria kills more children than any other disease....

Preventing malaria means creating a barrier between the mosquito, which is the carrier of the malarial parasite, and the parasite's primary host -- humans. Since malarial mosquitoes bite only between dusk and dawn, WHO's campaign has promoted bed nets, which can protect those who sleep beneath them. But this policy has had limited success. Nets for a whole family are expensive, and mosquitoes can take many blood meals between dusk and bedtime. Also, nets work best if treated with insecticide. But a recent survey in Kenya found that 21 percent of households had one single bed net, and only 5.6 percent of these were insecticide-treated. Moreover, mosquitoes are growing resistant to the type of insecticide with which the nets are coated.

By contrast, South Africa -- which is rich enough to fund its own public health programs and doesn't need to rely on WHO's largess -- has reduced malaria transmission by 90 percent in recent years, by a combination of returning to an old insecticide and investing in a new drug. It chose to spray insecticides, especially DDT, on the inside walls of dwellings to prevent mosquitoes from entering the buildings. This protects everyone inside all the time, not just when people might be sleeping.

21 April 2004

Indonesia's Golkar Nominates Possible War Criminal for President

Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop, UPI Business Correspondent, reports a troubling development for this summer's Indonesian presidential elections:
SINGAPORE, April 21 (UPI) -- The nomination of General Wiranto as presidential candidate for the leading party in the Indonesian general election is adding a new layer of uncertainties for investors in Indonesia.

Wiranto faces a U.N. indictment for crimes against humanity and is partly responsible for a U.S. congressional ban on military ties with Jakarta after mass killings by Indonesian troops in East Timor in 1999.

But on Tuesday, the retired general won the nomination of the Golkar party (former President Suharto's party), pushing ahead of expected winner Akbar Tandjung, the party's chairman. He won by promising "strong leadership" and an end to corruption....

Golkar is leading the results of April 5 voting, with 21.1 percent of the vote, followed by President Megawati's party Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) with 19.5 percent, Former president Wahid's party the National Awakening Party (PKB) with 11.89 percent, the Islamic party of Vice-President Hamzah Haz's United Development Party (PPP) with 8.33 percent and the newly formed party of retired general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Democratic Party (PD), with 7.52 percent.

But, a survey by London-based Taylor Nelson Sofres indicated that 28 percent of the surveyed voters will chose Susilo as president.
For more on the legislative election results, see below.

Nauru: Once Rich in Phosphates, Now Broke

The island nation of Nauru, which once had the highest per capita income in the "developing" world, is now broke. The New Zealand News reports:
Australia has declined to bail out the island nation of Nauru, which is facing almost certain bankruptcy this month.

As receivers moved in on Nauru's key international property assets, President Rene Harris is understood to have approached Canberra for a short-term rescue package....

The tiny island republic is facing both a constitutional and financial crisis, following a deadlock in its Parliament when the Speaker resigned in protest at the Government's failure to pass a budget.

A spokesman for the Harris Government said they were still trying to find a refinancer for a A$236 million loan with America's General Electric Capital.

The loan used the last of Nauru's once $1 billion-plus property portfolio as security.
Nationmaster.com profiles Nauru's economy.
Revenues of this tiny island have come from exports of phosphates, but reserves are expected to be exhausted within a few years. Phosphate production has declined since 1989, as demand has fallen in traditional markets and as the marginal cost of extracting the remaining phosphate increases, making it less internationally competitive. While phosphates have given Nauruans one of the highest per capita incomes in the Third World, few other resources exist with most necessities being imported, including fresh water from Australia. The rehabilitation of mined land and the replacement of income from phosphates are serious long-term problems. In anticipation of the exhaustion of Nauru's phosphate deposits, substantial amounts of phosphate income have been invested in trust funds to help cushion the transition and provide for Nauru's economic future. The government has been borrowing heavily from the trusts to finance fiscal deficits. To cut costs the government has called for a freeze on wages, a reduction of over-staffed public service departments, privatization of numerous government agencies, and closure of some overseas consulates. In recent years Nauru has encouraged the registration of offshore banks and corporations. Tens of billions of dollars have been channeled through their accounts. Few comprehensive statistics on the Nauru economy exist, with estimates of Nauru's GDP varying widely.
But Air Nauru says it will keep flying.

UPDATE: Head Heeb has more.

An Anthropologist's First Impressions of Occupied Japan

The Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at the Ohio State University has made available online a wonderful collection, "Doing Photography and Social Research in the Allied Occupation of Japan, 1948-1951: A Personal and Professional Memoir," described thus:
Photographs taken by anthropologist John W. Bennett in occupied Japan, 1948-1951, (a few were made in the 1960's during his term at Waseda University), with comments on the photos by Bennett. Also included are extensive selections from Bennett's professional journal of the period, and other documents. Consisting of a personal and professional memoir, this site is also a record of a unique experiment in social analysis and research that focuses on a period of particular significance in the development of Japanese and international history, politics, economics, and culture.
Here's an excerpt from First Impressions: A Letter to Kathryn Bennett Composed at Intervals During 1949.
let us list some preconceptions of the writer, which have since been scrapped. More than that, he was totally unaware that they existed, and he an anthropologist, too. But we know that anthropologists are on the whole naïve and eager people, who rarely examine their own prejudices. I discovered after two days that I entered Japan with the unconscious assumption that all Japanese speak in high voices. This is false. 2. I entered Japan with the notion that all Japanese would be embarrassed when spoken to. This is false. 3. I had a half baked notion that Tokyo looked like a large park with museum-like buildings scattered through it (really kind of surrealist dream). This is false. 4. I believed that although most Japanese could read, only a few were literate. This is mostly false. 5. I believed that Japan was amazingly homogenous in physical appearance and behavior. This is completely false and true--see earlier confused remarks. 6. Finally, I had the firm belief that a careful reading of Benedict, Sansom, Embree, et.al. would provide one with the basic knowledge for research here. Maybe-- but today I discovered that my most pressing need for information concerns government bureaus and the patterns of population movement.

To conclude this session, let us ask the question: What is the "Oriental" here? Is this the Orient? The initial Yokohama impression was negative--the damn place looked like part of Seattle, and the docks were so packed with Americans that one could hardly feel strange and eastern. In to Tokyo the impressions were so confused that I can hardly say what I felt; after a while in Tokyo and outside the Orient came in a physical sense--the "Japanesy" look as my dear mother used to say when she saw some bamboo bric-abrac; that is, delicacy, intricacy, retiring-ness, vistas of people in hedged fields, etc., etc. Japanese gardens and prints. For a couple of days I drank this in--every glimpse I could get. Concrete highways and western buildings and railroads didn't figure--I simply didn't see them. I recall one trip into town with Herb Passin in the AM and the only thing that I remember seeing on that trip was an ancient house on a farm with old style thatched roof. Well, all this will return when we go to Kyoto and similar places which retain the traditional appearance, but by now the Japanese feeling and visions have about disappeared, and all I see are the familiar sights of the urban world - the streets look like streets again. "Oriental" becomes not of the bric-a-brac dish garden business but the urban and rural world of the Japanese nation. I regret that I didn't see Japan in my mystic and impressionable teens, when the garden view would have persisted. Not of course that I don't see the differences--this communication is full of them--but the special naïve physical "oriental" look is about gone.
via The Marmot's Hole (in turn via Neilbarker's Seoul)

I suspect I'll have more to post as I explore the archives. Takes me way back to my early childhood in Occupied Japan.

South Korea's New Hybrid News Organization: OhmyNews!

Donata Communications has posted an article about a new type of media organization that apparently helped drive greater participation by normally apathetic younger voters (the "2030" generation, those in their 20s and 30s) during the recent elections in South Korea, the most "wired" society on earth. The article by Terry L. Heaton has a grandiose title--TV News in a Postmodern World: The Genius of OhmyNews--but is well worth a full read.
Whether it was genius, luck, timing or all three, OhmyNews! has become a very powerful media entity in South Korea, and the amazing thing is that its principal tool is a Website. OhmyTV is a very slick streaming online TV station, and their election night coverage would've stunned even the so-called "experts" at the network level in the U.S. The graphics and sound effects alone were enough to make any producer drool. OhmyNews! also publishes a Saturday print edition now, but its bread and butter is the Internet.

According to the UCLA Center for Communications Policy World Internet Report, there are two noticeable differences between U.S. and Korean Internet users. Seven in ten Korean users believe that most or all of the information on the Web is accurate or reliable. That's compared to a little over half of Internet users in the U.S. Secondly, Internet users in Korea spend considerably more time online and less watching television than their U.S. counterparts.

Updates and bulletins can happen at any time, but OhmyNews! "publishes" its content three times a day, 9:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. It is, therefore, targeting a largely working audience. It also provides news via cell phones and other mobile devices.

Staff reporters (80% of whom began as citizen reporters) now number over 50 with almost 27,000 citizen journalists contributing. The American-educated Oh has a history of rejecting traditional journalism, having worked for alternative media outlets before founding OhmyNews!.
We do not regard objective reporting as a source of pride. OhmyNews does not regard straight news articles as the standard. Articles including both facts and opinions are acceptable when they are good.
And "good" is in the purview of his editors. It harkens back to the days before the elite "professionalism" took hold in the early 20th century, and it's obviously resonating with the citizenry in South Korea.
via Bill Hobbs via Instapundit

UPDATE: The Marmot's Hole comments, and promises more to come.

19 April 2004

2004 Indonesian Legislative Election Results So Far

On 20 April, the Jakarta Post reports the ongoing Indonesian vote tally as of last Friday, with something like 75% of the votes counted.
JAKARTA (JP): Provisional vote tally from the General Elections Commission (KPU) as of 2:45 a.m. on Friday is as follows:

Rank - Party - Votes - %

1. (20) The Golkar Party: 19,287,067 (21.11%)
[former President Suharto's old party]

2. (18) The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P): 17,814,035 (19.49%)
[current President Megawati's party]

3. (15) The National Awakening Party (PKB): 10,886,977 (11.91%)
[former President Gus Dur's (= Abdurrahman Wahid's) party]

4. (5) The United Development Party (PPP): 7,615,482 (8.33%)
[former rural Muslim party]

5. (9) The Democratic Party (PD): 6,879,372 (7.53%)
[Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's spinoff from PDI-P]

6. (16) The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS): 6,549,961 (7.17%)
["Caring and clean"--and peaceful]

7. (13) The National Mandate Party (PAN): 5,918,636 (6.48%)
[Amien Rais's urban-based reform party]

8. (3) The Crescent Star Party (PBB): 2,345,426 (2.57%)
[sectarian pro-syariah party]

9. (17) The Reform Star Party (PBR): 2,099,182 (2.30%)
[sectarian pro-syariah party]

10. (14) The Concern for the Nation Functional Party (PKPB): 1,945,837 (2.13%)
[Suharto clan party headed by his daughter "Tutut"]
Below the 2% threshold: the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS), which aims to represent the Christian minorities. It seems a good sign that, in a country 88% Muslim and riven by religious strife, the most highly sectarian parties garnered such tiny fractions of the vote.
The parties who win a minimum of 20% of the votes for the parliamentary elections are eligible to nominate their candidate for the presidential election on 5 July 2004.

18 April 2004

Holy Warriors vs. the Salvation Army in Poso, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Yet another outbreak of violence hit the area around Poso in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, over the Easter weekend.
At 7:15 pm, April 10th, three masked men in Ninja-like costumes arrived on motorcycle and stormed the Protestant congregation, opening fire on hundreds of Christians who were celebrating Easter. Seven people were injured, including a four-year old girl who was shot in the right leg. The assailants escaped to a nearby forest.

Three previous shootings in the last month have claimed the lives of three Christians and injured another. The deaths of Rosia Pilonga, a 41-year old dean of Law at the Siontuwunu Maroso University and Jhon Christian Tanalida, who were shot dead by unknown gunmen earlier last month, were followed by the shooting death of a local clergyman, Reverend Freddy Wuisan, in his own home late one evening.

These anonymous attacks have targeted the Christian population in the Poso region even after the 2001 Peace accord was established by the government to end two years of fighting which killed some 2000 people. In the worst bloodshed last October, gunmen killed 10 people in attacks on mainly Christian villages.

Christians so far have not retaliated to any of the attacks with violence.
The violent outbreaks in 2000-2001 were attributed to the Laskar Jihad holy warriors, which officially disbanded in the wake of the Bali bombing in 2002, but is more likely to have relocated to West Papua, well away from international media TV cameras. The most recent violence has been attributed to the Jemaah Islamiya terrorist group apparently responsible for the Bali attack.

One odd irony of the conflict in Poso is that Christianity first came to Central Sulawesi by means of the Salvation Army, which describes itself in military terms but, as far as I know, has never sanctioned violence as a means of spreading its message. A good, concise account of the origins of the Salvation Army and its arrival in Central Sulawesi can be found in the chapter, "Onward Christian Soldiers: The Salvation Army in Sulawesi," in the book Fields of the Lord: Animism, Christian Minorities, and State Development in Indonesia, by Lorraine Aragon (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2000), pp. 116-118. (Author-date references are omitted in the following extract.)
The Salvation Army began as the East London Christian Revival Society in 1865, when a Wesleyan Methodist preacher named William Booth took his message to the street people of East London. Booth quickly discovered that these lower-class individuals, often alcoholics or scofflaws, were unwelcome in established English churches. When their roving street evangelism was discouraged by Methodist Church institutions, Booth and his wife, Catherine, founded their own sect.... They recognized that their prospective audience was not attracted to the staid atmosphere of conventional churches and organ music, so they created a circus-like environment of tents thrown up in public squares with vivacious music played on guitars, banjos, trumpets, and bass drums.... In this context, Booth and his wife preached eternal salvation through Christian faith and discipline to individuals who were considered the most sinful members of British society.

Booth remained doctrinally faithful to Wesleyan principles: faith in both Old and New Testament scriptures, the Trinity, original sin, and the atonement of Jesus Christ.... It was less a matter of doctrine than Booth's constituency and approach to them that made the Salvation Army a distinctive sect apart from Methodism.

Because many of his original followers were alcoholics, Booth eliminated the sacraments, which he saw as tempting his followers with sips of wine. Salvation Army members are forbidden alcohol and tobacco in order to purify their physical and spiritual selves from sinful habits. Booth also encouraged, yet disciplined, the charismatic expression of penitence among his followers by restricting their confessions of faith to moments in the service when all were called upon to volunteer their "witness" to the greatness of the Lord....

The East London Christian Revival Society changed its name to the Christian Mission and then, in 1878, to the Salvation Army. Booth found military references in the Bible evocative of the kind of energetic and disciplined movement that he envisioned.... [This was the heyday of the YMCA and "muscular Christianity."] Hence the organization's chosen processional hymn became "Onward, Christian Soldiers!" Once the Salvation Army name was chosen, the way to structure and clothe the organization's members became clear to "General" Booth, who began to assign military ranks and adopt used British Army garments that later were altered to create a distinctive Salvation Army uniform.

By the late 1880s, Salvation Army congregations, or "corps," were opened in other parts of the British empire and European continent. Given the organization's early statement that "[t]he Salvation Army makes religion where there was no religion before" ..., missionization in Europe's overseas colonies was a natural next step for the Salvation Army's expansion. Methodists already disavowed the high Calvinist view of strict predestination, which made missionary work more purposive, merely another extension of the desired corpus Christianum....

In 1909, A. W. F. Idenburg, the newly stationed governor-general of the Dutch East Indies, contacted Gerrit Govaars, the first Dutch Salvation Army [Du. Leger des Heils] officer ever commissioned and the newly assigned Indonesian territorial "commander." Govaars was assigned to travel from an established Salvation Army headquarters in Semarang, Java, to assess the possibility of opening missions among the "pagan Toradjas" of Central Sulawesi. A 1970s interview with Govaars indicates that once he arrived in the Palu Valley, he met a German named Zuppinger. Zuppinger, who was married to a "native" woman and could speak some local language, accompanied Govaars on a journey to Kulawi's pagan temple, where Govaars became "the first Christian to preach the gospel in Kulawi" .... Of his travels into the interior farther south, Govaars said:
From place to place we hired carriers, and so traversed the country. We spoke to the heads of the tribes. One of them listened interestedly to what I told him about Christ, serving the Lord and not doing bad things. Then he asked, "Are we allowed to eat pig's meat?"

Upon my affirmative he said, "Oh well, that is all right. Wild pigs eat our harvest, so we ought to be allowed to eat pigs." ...
These comments, familiar to all missionaries in Indonesia, encapsulate one of the primary objections that highlanders have to Islam. By initial comparison, the Christian religion seems less of a dietary hardship. Unlike the coastal Kaili, most of whom gradually gave up eating pork to forge alliances with Muslim merchants from South Sulawesi, highland Kulawi people never found a sufficiently good reason to renounce their major feast food in favor of a foreign religion.
UPDATE: Indonesian police say they have "found 17 bombs and scores of home-made guns, knives and bows and arrows in an extensive search of Indonesia's Poso district. Hundreds of police conducted door-to-door searches and combed fields in the Central Sulawesi district from Wednesday to find illegal weapons." ... Local residents "gave police a lot of information."

17 April 2004

Burma, TotalFinaElf, and Bernard Kouchner

A blog I only recently discovered via Belmont Club, the Last of the Famous International Playboys, posted back in January a long, detailed, and nuanced report on a scandal involving "Kouchner, Total & Burma":
Good people make mistakes, too. Someone I very much admire, founder of Médecins sans frontiéres Bernard Kouchner, has drawn the wrath of right-thinking people down on his head.

In his long career, the popular Kouchner (click on "afficher ma sélection" to plot his rising and falling poll numbers) has been a champion of human rights and was one of the only public figures in France to express support for the removal of Saddam Hussein.

But according to a few articles, France's illustrious former socialist Minister of Health, Kouchner, has been accused of whitewashing the matter of the complicity of French oil giant Total (which recently merged with its highly corrupt and rapacious competitor Elf, forming the fourth largest oil company in the world) in alleged human rights abuses as part of the construction of a pipeline in the Yadana region of Myanmar.
On 7 April, the "tenth anniversary of the first full day of slaughter in the Rwandan genocide," Last of the Famous posted another long, detailed, and nuanced retrospective on Rwanda, with a follow-up on 11 April. Both fascinating, but grim reading.

19th-Century IT Improvements and Noncorporate Whaling

Alaska-based econoblogger Ben Muse posted a couple of interesting historical observations recently, one on the 19th-century IT revolution and another on why whaling ventures didn't adopt corporate structures.

The first post summarizes data from the book, The New Financial Order: Risk in the 21st Century, by Robert Shiller.
  • The cost of paper for record storage drops as a paper making machine is invented in 1800, and the use of wood pulp for making paper is introduced in 1865.

  • The cost of data transmission drops when standardized envelopes are introduced in 1849, and as "street addresses proliferated in the late nineteenth century ..."

  • The cost of making copies drops with the invention of the letter press in 1780 ("Letters ... were placed before the ink was fully dry between the tissue-paper pages of a blank book, and the book closed and placed in a letter press, which pressed the pages tightly together. The special ink used to write the letter left a mark on the blank page, thereby generating a copy, which, although backward on the tissue paper, could be read normally from the other side."), of carbon paper in 1806, and photographic document copying in 1900.

  • "The invention of the typewriter in 1868 was significant not only for the increased speed of data entry but also for the increased reliability of typewritten records ..."

  • Industry for producing forms emerges in the 19th Century; carbon forms available by the 1880s.

  • Document sizes become standardized.

  • In the 1880s and 1890s development of mechanical calculators "sped the operation of the addition of numbers by about six ..."

  • Filing systems improved (Dewey Decimal system introduced in 1876).
And then, there is the vertical file: "The vertical file with the associated cardboard file folders appeared at the 1893 world's fair, the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, where it won a gold medal ..."
The second post summarizes data from a working paper by Eric Hilts, "Incentives in Corporations: Evidence from the American Whaling Industry," NBER w10403, March 2004.
U.S. whaling began in the 17th Century as small groups of colonists set out from shore after targets of opportunity. Gradually the business shifted to whaling ships with crews of 30 taking world wide trips lasting years at a time. Despite the 19th Century IT revolution, management of an enterprise like this would pose big challenges.

In the typical whaling enterprise a small group owned shares in the vessel. These persons delegated most management decisions to agents, who themselves had significant shares in the operations. [The agents and owners also tended to know each other very well, both personally and professionally.] ...

In the 1830s some whaling firms incorporated in an apparent effort to become more attractive to large numbers of small investors. But look at what happened to management's incentives. To a great extent oversight responsibility shifted from the investors to a board of directors. These, in turn, delegated management responsibility to an agent....

The corporate structure never became very important in the whaling business. The whaling industry survived into the later 19th Century, but "Of the whaling corporations that were chartered in the 1830s and early 1840s, none survived past the 1840s." [Hilts, p. 12] ...

Hilts thinks the reason is the different incentives faced by agents under the alternative forms of organization. He sought confirmation in a data set on 874 whaling voyages from 1830 to 1849; the data set covered almost 20% of the voyages during that time. For each voyage he calculated a productivity index.Hilts thinks the reason is the different incentives faced by agents under the alternative forms of organization. He sought confirmation in a data set on 874 whaling voyages from 1830 to 1849; the data set covered almost 20% of the voyages during that time. For each voyage he calculated a productivity index. Statistical analysis of the relation between the index and voyage characteristics found that, both statistically, and practically, corporate voyages were less productive that non-corporate voyages. (As a practical matter, organization as a corporation had a greater adverse impact on productivity than the death of the captain on the voyage. [Hilts, p. 23])

16 April 2004

Molvanîa: A Land Untouched by Modern Dentistry

Molvanîa, "a land untouched by modern dentistry" according to the Jetlag Travel Guide Molvanîa, urgently needs to enter into a bilateral free trade agreement with an exporter of dental products like, say, Liechtenstein.

(Brobra to polyglot polydont pf, from whose blog this tooth of wisdom was extracted.)

Yuppie Politics and Dog Rights in China

On 11 April, Erik Eckholm reported in the New York Times on political progress in China measured by Yardsticks You Never Thought of:
5. YUPPIE POLITICS The pressures for reform may flare most powerfully not from the downtrodden, but from the new, property-owning middle class, which will demand accountability from officials.

In 2003, the most vociferous illegal demonstrations in Beijing were staged not by desperate workers but by young professionals who said they had been cheated by developers of their apartment complex, abetted by local officials....

7. HUMAN RIGHTS FOR DOGS, AND VICE VERSA This is no joke. Visitors to Beijing and other big cities may notice an eerie absence of dogs on balmy weekend afternoons. This is not because they are regularly eaten; in fact, the Chinese love their pet dogs as much as any people anywhere. But because of outdated and draconian laws, tens of thousands of pet owners in Beijing alone must keep their dogs in the closet, as it were.

In Beijing, dogs are not allowed outside in the daytime; those caught outdoors are confiscated and killed. They are not allowed in parks, on grass or on elevators - even when elderly owners live on the 14th floor. They may not grow taller than knee-high, on pain of death. And licenses are expensive.
(Xiexie ni, Andrés Gentry!)

Old Friends: Mozambique and Timor Leste

The Head Heeb has an interesting post about the especially close ties between Mozambique and East Timor, going back to 1975.
The foreign minister of East Timor is in Maputo laying the groundwork for the first Timorese embassy in Africa. Mozambique may seem an unlikely first choice, but its relative lack of political and economic clout is balanced by its longstanding ties of solidarity with East Timor....

In some ways, the post-independence relationship between the two countries is even more remarkable than what came before, because it illustrates how even one of the poorest countries on earth can be a donor. There are other ways to attack a problem besides throwing money at it - sharing experience and technical personnel, or providing willing hands to get the job done - and a nation need not be rich to aid other countries in these ways. Such aid often has a political purpose, like the Cuban doctors that are ubiquitous in many Third World countries, but it can make a real difference; sometimes, in fact, it can make more of one than a boondoggle project that serves mainly to fill a corrupt dictator's coffers.

15 April 2004

Aftermath of Typhoon Sudal in Yap, Micronesia

[This email letter was relayed out from Yap, Micronesia, in the wake of Typhoon Sudal, with the author's permission to reproduce it freely. I've done so verbatim, omitting only one paragraph. My own experience of a hurricane on Yap in 1974 is utterly inconsequential by comparison.]

Dear Friends,

Seok Ha and myself are both shaken, but whole and healthy (minus a nasty head cold that doesn't want to give up) doing much better than OK given the circumstances, but it is with immense sadness I convey these tidings from our tiny little tropical islands to y'all.

Typhoon Sudal may have broken Yap's back, but not its people's spirits.

Nobody ever expected the eye of a super typhoon to hit Yap head on. This was not supposed to happen, traditionally, the Yap sorcerers and magicians have had the powers to divert typhoons. And following the old "badness comes in waves" adage (no pun intended), the peak of typhoon intensity naturally happened to coincide with high tide. Add to that an extreme ocean water surge pushed by Sudal, and these here islands found themselves, as the saying goes, in deeper than usual waters.

We were told, and some of us could learn on the Internet typhoon warning pages, that the "outskirts of Sudal" was, maybe, going to affect Yap. Nobody was mentally, or physically, prepared for the assault that hit us shortly after midnight. Typhoon Mitag, that two years ago I thought was mighty scary, was nothing in comparison. Sudal was not classified as a super typhoon (and I don't know if it was ever officially "upgraded"), but the opinion of everyone here--even people with first hand experience of serious US hurricane damage--is clear: this was, by far, the worst anyone has ever even heard of. Some of the old Yapese people I talked with remembers a strong typhoon that hit in the late forties, but with nowhere near the destructive energy that Sudal packed. But the spirit of the Yapese turns out to be incredibly strong, and resilient. Come to think of it, that may be a mental requirement, in order to live permanently out here.

I know of no actual measurements taken during this intense ordeal, but Sudal was announced as being of typhoon strength, with 120 knots (60+ meter per second) sustained winds, and up to 180 knots (90+ meter per second) gusts. There may be a tendency to overestimate these things when you're in the middle of it all, but judging from the extreme damage that was delivered to Yap on these Easter holidays, and by how it was absolutely impossible to venture outside during the peak hours (the "eye" stayed over Yap, incessantly delivering one blow after the other, for a good six hours), my guess is that by the time Sudal hit Yap proper full force (about 02:00), it had grown well into super typhoon territory. As if the matter of classification really matters.

Power and water went early, leaving all the islands in virtual darkness, and with no drinking water. Thanks to no less than heroic efforts by Tim and Tim (water and power, respectively) and their crews, we got power back already early this morning, and we're promised to have our water back by tomorrow. That is only here in Colonia, though (priority one due to the needs of the Yap State Hospital), the complete grid will probably take some time to get back online.

My personal assessment is that 60 percent of all local businesses, 70 percent of all homes, and 80 percent of all schools, are utterly devastated, completely written off. Gone. Can't even use the rubble left behind as building material, as the pieces are too small. As kindling, yes. Rumung island is reported to be especially hard hit, with zero man-made structures remaining.

The COM [College of Micronesia] campus, as its neighboring Yap High School campus, looks as if a bomb exploded above the area (especially with that old Japanese concrete tower, with all its US battleship and artillery shelling scars from WWII, residing in the middle of it all). Only the admin and the computer lab buildings are still standing. But my guess is that it will be a considerable while before any Yapese students will have any interest in taking night-time computer courses. Rumor has it that the school board has decided to terminate the 2004 school year early.

The airport terminal buildings has sustained some cosmetic damage, but it looks as if there are no structural problems, except for the fire truck shelter (gone) and the PMA hanger (the hanger doors are bulging outwards, from excessive pressure from within). And unfortunately, all the trees and koyengs [shelters] lining the AP parking lot, together with the "Welcome to Yap" sign, succumbed to the awesome powers of Sudal. It looks like a war zone, the aftermath of another bomb attack.

The Save Way store, along with most of Madrich, and all shoreline Baleabaat houses, gone. Videographer Mark Thorpe, who now rents a concrete house across the road from where Save Way used to be, is fine, but his house got a thorough enema administered by seven meter (20+ feet) waves that kept pummeling the shoreline. He considers himself lucky to have lost only a few belongings, while his next door neighbors were being completely wiped out, and with zero means to rebuild. The outer island Madrich residents, already in abysmal conditions in their shantytown, were emergency evacuated to a few schools, and as if to kick them while they were already downed flat, Sudal then proceeded to blow away the roofs of the schoolhouses. When it rains, it pours, indeed.

Seven-to-ten meter waves pounded the Chamorro Bay Bridge for hours (miraculously, it is still standing, with its concrete pillars all knocked to one side or another, and the steel guardrails severely twisted!), and the ocean surges continued past the bridge to seriously damage all houses and businesses lining the Chamorro Bay.

Ace's Mart, demolished, as was the little yellow church up on the hill, and the kindergarten (pre-school?). Professor Caldwell's house (where Carl used to rent) next door was left untouched, as was the Baha'i house--it seems to me as if that particular area received some protection from the Nimar hill.

Pathway's Hotel got lucky, with only thatch damage (on first assessment, anyway), but in need of lots and lots of minor repair work on all eight units, this with their economy already severely strained by recent events.

Many boats were thrown way up on dry land, most smashed useless.

And trees down, everywhere. In many places in massive piles.

Most Yap coconut trees are now asymmetrical, with all fronds facing the head-on direction of Sudal being brutally ripped off. On Guam, not even super typhoon Paka was able to break healthy coconut trunks: here on Yap, there are now many many coconut trees snapped off like so many matches, silent evidence of how much communal power these tiny air molecules are capable of carrying. Many of the steel reinforced concrete power poles are leaning, but only very few got snapped. Incredibly strong wind gusts!

The Angel's Mart (Chinese store) and the bakery next to the ESA hotel got flushed clean from the bay-side, with *all* merchandise and product spread all over the road and neighboring landscape. I do not know the status of ESA hotel itself, but I hope it is in as good shape as it looks (minus its bayside koyengs [shelters], of course).

Trader's Ridge Resort looks comparatively good, but I have no details, as I have not yet ventured past the accumulated debris up the Nimar hills.

The courthouse corner was ripped wide open, and law texts from their library are now littering most of downtown Colonia.

The YCA hardware store/warehouse was demolished beyond repair, battered by both waves and high winds. In contrast, the new WAAB Hardware building, obviously well built, stands relatively undamaged.

The Manta Ray Bay hotel got its newly completed seaside (re-)constructions completely washed away (just as was done by typhoon Mitag, two years ago), and here too, enormous waves were crashing through the hotel and exiting on the parking lot. The proud sailing ship S/V Mnuw is now resting at a 45 degree list, half-way up on dry land, with no conceivable way to get it back into the water. So now the Manta Ray Bay hotel has no bar, and no restaurant, and no glass in most room windows. Bill, traveling, was stuck on Guam until yesterday, when he came back on one of the extraordinary Continental flights. Some of their dive boats were taken to the mangroves before Sudal hit, but since nobody was really prepared for what was coming, some of the fleet was left at the dock, as usual. Together with every trace of the dock, and the beautiful new terrace that replaced the old bar washed away by Mitag, they are now gone. Actually, parts of one of the boats (I think it is the remains of "Betelnut") can be seen sitting on top of the now totally wrecked (sunk in shallow waters) M/V Cecilia--another ugly wreck now permanently lining the Colonia harbor. Sigh.

The Family Chain Bakery is completely leveled. So now Yap has no local commercial source of bread. It is my hope that some Palau bakery will offer increased shipments.

PBC is damaged, but under control. Also, Hiroshi-san (who was also stranded on Guam until yesterday) is one of the very very few that had any form of insurance.

A forty foot container (!) came tumbling through the air (literally, no less!) and came to rest across the road in front of O'Keefe's, blocking through traffic. And speaking of O'Keefe's: all Don Evans' ventures has escaped with only minor damage, as did his house. Don is counting his blessings.

Just past Dugoor village, heading towards Rumuu village, large chunks of the road pavement has been ripped loose and blown clear off the road, and much of the topsoil on the exposed northern shores has been blown off. Yap is bleeding from multiple open and ugly wounds.

Down south, most villages has been flattened, in the true sense of the word. Because I was known to own a digital camera, I was commissioned by the Police Chief to be on the southern damage assessment team, to take early pictures of the mayhem, to try to convince FEMA that this is indeed a disaster area, in great and imminent need of lots of help from the outside. It was a mentally very difficult task, to go from village to village in Chief Cham's (Gregory) truck, to stare all this heartbreak and helplessness straight in its face, all those crushed dreams. Unfortunately, my camera got some typhoon damage, so the result did not come out the best. But better than nothing, I guess/hope.

The Nimgil ("Nathan's") store is demolished, with fifty percent of their betel nut plantation down on the ground, and their pig farm now without a roof (the concrete walls are still standing, and the porkers are scared shitless, but fine). Jim and Debi's place looks OK, somewhat sheltered by the dense surrounding vegetation, but we never took a close look--it looked too good for a check-out stop. Down in Anoth, the beach has yet again doubled in size, their beautiful newly built peebai [meeting house] is still standing, but now with a distinct slant. The loop road is impassable, and it will take a major effort to hack through the massive multiple walls of intertwined broken coco, betel, and nipa palm trunks, mixed with assorted crushed building debris. Regina Thun's house lost parts of its roof, but the (long since closed) store escaped with almost no damage.

At the Destiny Resort, even the ruins from typhoon Mitag's visit two years ago have now been washed away, and Carol and Colin's "new" house on Maap has taken major wind gust hits. As destinies for visiting lawyers go: Peter (Public Defender) and Theresa Steltzer's house at the Queen Bee will be out of the rental circuit until massive roof repairs has been done, plus associated water damage dittos has been undertaken. And trying to find a decent place to stay here on Yap will not be easy, for the foreseeable future.

On the west side, our "home village" (Kadai) has been badly damaged. We were unable to take the road down to Sunset Park, too much debris. Berna and Thomas Gorong, just finishing off a renovation of their hilltop house, had to abandon house for the relative safety of brother Theo's concrete house, but as it turned out their house had sustained very little damage. Wayaan's "vacation house" (the fruit bat hunting lodge Fillmed built for Guam governor Guiterrez) next door, however, is now spread across a sizeable area. Dave Vasalla's house, a stone's throw away, was undamaged, protected by the recess in which it was constructed. Tony Ganngiyang's blue concrete house also gave evidence to the wisdom of building solidly--not a scratch! Otherwise, all houses visible from the loop road (Colonia - Delipebinaw - Fanif - Colonia) were either completely or partly demolished. Churches, schools, Kingtex, Public Transportation, the whole lot got hammered, but badly.

No big tree has been left standing. All mango and breadfruit trees of any size, that I know of, are gone, many taro patches have been ruined by salt water, practically all banana and papaya trees are gone, it is just so incredibly sad. It will be quite some time before local food supplies are back to normal. This may become another big problem, because so many people here are still depending only on local food, having no money to purchase imported "manufactured" food.

Remember how we always used to say, with some pride, "There are no homeless here on Yap, and nobody is starving." Over night, a majority of the Yapese has become homeless, and we can only hope that the food situation will be solved, somehow.

In Gachpar, no house along the shores has survived, in most cases with no trace left behind. Of "our" little beach house, until Good Friday occupied by Michelle and Luke, only the concrete pillars upon which it rested remains. They too (Mich and Luke, that is), way too late realizing the urgency of the situation, got completely wiped out, materially.

James Lukan has just completed a flimsy-looking structure (two-by-fours and corrugated tin sheets) to house my pool table, across the road from the Gagil Elementary School (as most other schools were severely hit, this one got away almost scot free, "only" some roofs gone). For some weird reason, the "pool koyeng" was still intact! The small store, ten feet away, plus the supposedly typhoon-proof "waiting for the bus" shelter the same distance away in the other direction, was completely demolished.

Except for the house where the Munn's used to live (still standing, good solid house: at one point it was standing in water up to the second floor) and the newly-constructed-but-not-yet-moved-into Kensuf main residence (still stands, but with serious roof damage, and with a truckload of cement sacks, for protection brought into the house, now being fused into a single clump of useless concrete, and most of the unlaid tiles crushed and scattered around the surrounding terrain), Kensuf's whole property was leveled. There is no trace of the house "Little Richard" Overy (our ex-archivist) used to live in. It is all way beyond heartbreaking.

Saint Joseph's church is demolished. Again miraculously, the Padre's house, on its dinky stilts, was unscathed (strong message, or fluke?).

Wanyan, same. All houses along the shoreline are gone. Stone money banks, standing for centuries, were broken into by huge waves, breaking and spreading the rai coins and shattered pieces thereof all over the place. The road to Sea Breeze Beach is as yet, and without a major clean-up effort, impassable. I don't know about Bechyal Culture Center, but judging from its location and what happened to all other structures on the northern shores of Maap, I fear the worst.

The Sports Complex was badly hit, and I've already heard rumors about Black Micro being sued for sub-standard construction. Here, too, the "roller" doors were pushed out by pressure from within (just like the hanger doors at the AP). Together with some of the now knocked out schools, the YSC was designated to function as an official "emergency shelter" in case the typhoon happened to hit. People who had taken refuge there were scrambling for their lives as parts of the roof eventually caved in. You know you have a crisis on your hands, when the disaster shelters are getting knocked out by the elements.

Al Ganang, proprietor of the sadly no longer existing Village View Hotel, is happy to be alive. The surge took him completely by surprise. Again, all the buildings along his beautiful beach are gone: the store, the bar, the dive shop, all of the two-unit hotel bungalows. All gone. Insurance? You're kidding, right?

Wanead village, a little further north, was almost completely obliterated. Johnny Chugan told us that the entire village population is now shacked up in a single relatively undamaged building. The Wanead village path is now their new shoreline, facing a huge new beach. Chugan had just completed renovations and spiff-ups of their beach-side home, financed by an BofFSM loan. The house is no more (and the beautiful house he built for Cathy and PJ was blown away with it), but the bank loan remains. It is so very difficult to not burst out crying.

The Kula Place (just before Wanead village) is ravaged badly, all its koyengs blown to tiny little pieces, and substantial parts of the lovely old shady three has been blown down. Not entirely gone, thank heavens, and I do so hope that what remains of this grand ole tree will be able to survive its almost complete defoliation.

That is another thing, and it looks so weird and unreal: almost all leaves has been ripped of all trees. And I'm sad to say that, if anything, I am understating the damage done: the beautiful rolling green hills of Yap were, within a few hours, transformed to ugly brown hills, reminding me of late autumn in Sweden: no green leaves, no green anything, just bare branches, and the brown forest floor clearly visible--all across all the Yap islands. Very depressing. I don't know much about resilience of trees and stuff, and I can only hope that this kind of damage is reversible, that somehow the plants can find the strength and resources needed to survive until a new generation of photosynthesizing green leaves has been produced.

Closer to home, here in Gaanelay village in Colonia: The Yap Agriculture facilities are demolished. Black Micro is a mess. As is some of Gilmar's enterprises (his new pool room, gone), but it looks as if his store and video rental/Laundromat may be salvageable. Do you remember "Yap Wellness Center" just before Gilmar's store? Well, forget it. The Talguw area was lucky, we could only see some roof damaged there. Behind our YCA townhouses, Libyen's brand new two-storey house has been blown off its foundation, coming to rest at 40 degrees off the normal, beyond repair. All that can be done is to try to wreck it gently, in order to get to re-use all the expensive building material. Libyen, stoic, said "I'm too old to get upset by this, but the situation for Yap is really bad." Gurwan was completely wiped out, the concrete sides of her house are still standing, but there is no roof, and nothing is left inside the house (Gurwan said, "It hasn't been this clean since it was built"--making fun of the unbearable situation). The schoolhouse (temporary home for some 120 Madrich "refugees") has lost most of its roof, and is generally beyond repair.

A few seconds of my life I believe has gotten permanently etched onto my retinas: at about 0600, as I was looking out our bedroom window, the huge breadfruit tree growing between our house and Libyen's was finally brought down, and it fell directly towards our house (this tree has been worrying me ever since we moved in, with its potential for wreaking havoc on our house in case it ever fell down in an uncontrolled way). However, and as I watched it, a gust grabbed the huge trunk, raised it back up and then swung it clear in another direction, and nothing came down on our roof. Guardian angel? Maybe, but more likely our luck that the wind direction was away from our house. But it was a remarkable display of typhoon power, I remember it flashing through my head that "this is some kind of special effects trick," to see a falling huge tree like that change direction in mid-fall. Amazing. And yes, we too are counting our blessings.

Countless cars, representing years of working hours for the average Yapese, has been rendered useless by flying debris and falling/flying tree trunks. "Flying guillotines" (corrugated tin sheets, the omnipresent roofing island material) also have done their share of slicing damage--that big water tank that got sliced clear through could, but for the grace of God, have been my belly, as I was forced out in the middle of the night to reinforce the window boarding material that was coming loose. Those wavy sheets of sharp steel were flying everywhere! It was scary as hell, lemmetellya!...

The Yap FM radio and TV station was knocked out early, as its aerial tower lost its supports early on.

The good news is that, unbelievably, nobody got hurt! And there has been no looting reported (I sincerely hope it stays that way). James Lukan said that one person is missing from Gachpar, but he also said that person may be just wandering around somewhere (the individual is of somewhat diminished mental capacities, and Lukan said, "If it turns out he's been hiding in order to get attention, I'm gonna beat him up!"). I hope he will be found, and that he will be spared the beating.

The situation is bad. I'll try again: It is very, very bad. Maybe as many as 5,000 Yapese have lost their homes. A Guam PDN article ... mentions that 1,500 people on Yap are in "homeless shelters" (roofless schoolhouses), but says nothing about the fact that the majority of typhoon-struck Yapese much prefer to stay in whatever way they can in their demolished ex-homes, in their villages, with their clansmen.

And all the Yapese I meet say, "we'll rebuild. Life goes on" and they laugh, and they prepare another betel nut chew.

In all, quite an unforgettable experience. And I sincerely hope that none of you will ever have to go through something even remotely resembling being a mote in the eye of a super typhoon--It is scary.

May your Gods protect, care for, and bless y'all!
Henry and Kim Seok Ha
MicroTech Consulting