One Day a Book

The holiday has finally arrived! (Yeah, tell me about that.)

Since my jobs still occupy me as much as they did beforehand, holiday only changes my ‘weekdays’ and ‘weekends’ into one label of ‘weekdays’. The holiday makes no difference on the practical level, thus I decided to make my own project–or I should say target–so that the upcoming months would actually be filled with some fun and not mere works.


“You see, books fill the empty spaces. If I’m waiting for a bus, or when I’m eating alone, I can always rely on a book to keep me company. Sometimes I think I like them even more than people.” –Marc Acito

Out of the blue, I got an idea to have One Day A Book (although it does sound weird, compared to the usual form of One Book A Day, I guess I just want to have it that way). The basic concept is to have circadian reading on one paperback per day during 31 days of the whole July (or, August, if I can’t make it early), which is preferably 1) fiction, 2) 100-200 paged, and 3) any genre is acceptable.

So I throw the idea to Twitter, and I was so delighted to see that most of my friends are amazing readers! Here goes the already arranged list of books that they recommended:

  1. Catcher in the Rye – J.D.Salinger
  2. Franny and Zooey – J.D.Salinger
  3. Essays in Love – Alaine de Botton
  4. Blindness – Saramago
  5. Eragon – Paolini
  6. Lolita – Nabokov
  7. A Visit from the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan
  8. Doctors – Erich Segal
  9. The Imperfectionists – Tom Rachman
  10. Kafka On The Shore – Haruki Murakami
  11. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
  12. Perks of Bing a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
  13. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  14. The Solomon’s Ring
  15. Twenty Love Poems and Song of Despair
  16. The United Burger States of America
  17. The Gulag Archipelago
  18. Never Let Me Go
  19. Panggil Aku Kartini Saja
  20. Manjali and Cakrabirawa
  21. The Little Prince
  22. God Explains in A Taxi Ride
  23. Life is Good If We Don’t Weaken
  24. Howards End and A Room With a View – E. M. Forster’s
  25. Siddhartha
  26. The Stranger/The Outsider
  27. Homage To Catalonia
  28. 1984
  29. Dr.Zhivago
  30. San Fransisco Blues
  31. On The Road
  32. Stone Woman
  33. Le Fleurs de Mal
  34. The Grand Design
  35. Sofie’s Verden – Jostein Gaarder
  36. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  37. Leviathan – Thomas Hobbes
  38. Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
  39. Tipping Points, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw – All Malcom Gladwell’s
  40. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
  41. Art of War – Sun Tzu
  42. Arthashastra – Kautilya
  43. Annie On My Mind – Nancy Garden
  44. The First Men On The Moon – H. G. Wells
  45. The Lost Symbol, The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, Deception Point, Digital Forters – All Dan Brown’s
  46. Brave New World Revisited – Aldous Huxley
  47. History of Love – Nicole Krauss
  48. Suite Francaise – Irene Nemirovsky
  49. Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai
  50. Atonement – Ian McEwan
  51. On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwan

The underlined titles are read already, but surely there are many of them left to explore! So yes, challenge-accepters are all welcome (some people actually mentioned me saying that they would also do One Day A Book).

The next obstacle might be on how we’re gonna find those books. Well, some people informed me that both Pasar Festival and Blok M possess decent secondhand bookstores, so there might be treasures that we can find there. Or, is always there for you who appreciate writers yet do not possess that much of capital to afford the printed version.

Believe me, every good writer was formerly a good reader–actually, many of them still visit the library from time to time. I’ll suggest you to never take advices from professional writers–or anyone else–on how to become a good writer, because it will never work. The only way to get there is by taking extensive readings and find your own style.

That’s how truly great writers really do it.


The Thing about Brainy Guys

Half an hour ago, I tweeted a simple sentence–which has been one of the main principles I uphold in life—“Intelligence is sexy.” To my surprise, it got retweeted by at least 10 accounts, and this fact simply confirms that there are people who are not pretty enough and in need to create another justification to label themselves ‘sexy’! Sad, no? Kidding.
Second surprise: our mighty dictionary has actually reserved a spot for specific terminology on ‘one who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature”, namely sapiosexual. Basically, they are the kind of people to whom philosophical debate is more intriguing than physical dating. We might translate that as me, and any of you who nod while reading this post.
The sexiest part of a man is their brain.
The quote originally came from a fiction piece whose title I can’t recall. Let’s just focus on the essence of that premise. Some girls’ attention can be caught by expensive perfume or decent suit, but you can’t buy their heart with just outer appearance.
The King needs not to move a lot, but he has to possess certain aptitudes as well as the skill to lead. To think.
Such conclusion is very, very subjective–as there might be ladies who find less intelligent guys as cute–but the case goes like that to me and most girls with whom I’ve been discussing this with. Most of them agree that the definition of ‘brainy’ can vary in multitudinous ways, but the point is, to win her heart you have to beat her brain.

This condition may yield in two possibilities: a) smarter guys marry smart women and they’ll have genius kids, or b) smart guys prefer to take the easy way and marry someone less clever and have average kids. Bear in mind that ‘beauty’ and ‘cleverness’ are not mutually exclusive. Also, be aware that the sexiest part of a girl is not her brain. As a matter of fact it hardly is.

There is this hypothesis which stated that:

  • How girls rate guys: intelligence + humor + money + look
  • How guys rate girls: look (intelligence x humor)
This means that a woman who scores ‘0’ on look gains a total score of ‘0’. Girls who ranked high in ‘intelligence’ usually should be happy with admirers and not lovers. Oh. I should also add that a man’s intelligence must have the biggest coefficient compared to the other variables.
The problem mostly rises because men with brain are usually heartless i.e. lousy in emotional expressions. Let’s take a look on Dr Watson’s quoted remarks on one of the brainiest guys I’ve ever known, Sherlock Holmes:
It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise, but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world as seen: but as a lover, he would have placed himself in a false position.
You see, all the aforementioned statements stand to my disadvantage. I highly tend to fall for guys with brain who hardly admits when they have a crush on a certain woman, and I scored higher on brain compared to beauty–which is not very strategic. This is just a random rambling, don’t take anything too seriously.
Have a great night!

Going to the Moon

If Bruno talks to the moon, I’d like to share the story on one of my lifetime dreams–to actually go to the moon.


Despite the sentiment and public scrutiny upon the truth behind the early Apollo missions (or any other discoveries that NASA made), I myself always wanted to land my feet on the moon–as well as other steps that I would have to undergo beforehand. I’ve been rewinding the following scenes over and over in my head:

“Departing in three, two, one…”
With my heart pounding real hard, I was in the space shuttle which will soon leave Earth and penetrate the atmosphere. There were people flooding in the open field where my ship was taking off. As soon as we reached the ‘space’, I could feel myself weightless and drifted on the air. What I knew next was the moon which used to be so small and far apparently got bigger and hundred times more beautiful. And just in less than another 30 minutes…there we were. On the moon. The ship’s special door opened. I stepped off and let myself be amazed by what God has created.

Absolute silence that followed…the dim light that came from the sun, blocked by our planet…Earth…looking just as gorgeous as it always was–the way those pictures in library’s heavy books showed.

As a matter of fact, I have (literally) dreamed about going to the space–with a real ship–once. Four years ago, I was also blessed to be able to go to Johnson’s Space Center in Houston where I took the NASA behind-the-scene tour, witnessed the Astronaut Gallery as well as other stupefying exhibits. Both were astonishing experiences I’d indeed love to relive. Let’s just hope that one day those NASA guys finally create a public spacestation where everyone can get to. 

To close this full-of-imagination post, I apologize for my poor vocabularies on space businesses (I don’t even understand the difference between shuttle or ship) as well as adjectives to show wonder. Have a great Sunday!

In my mind, the men and women of NASA are history’s modern pioneers. They attempt the impossible, accept failure, and then go back to the drawing board while the rest of us stand back and criticize. –Zach Herney in Deception Point

Train’s Logic

(Disclaimer: don’t hate me if this post sounds extremely cynical and not giving solutions. I’m just one of those desperately disappointed customers–or simply observer–who would like to give a wake up call.)

My hypothesis: it possesses none. And by train, I refer to the people behind their desks who decide policies that affect the whole commuting society in Jakarta, Depok, Bogor, and their surroundings.

Assuming they do have it, my experiences conclude that it can never be publicly accepted for its different nature. The logic, I mean. Let’s take a look to several points below; according to the train:

  • Our society is divided into three classes: a) the have–who can pay Rp 9.000 for a Pakuan ride, b) the semi-have–who are charged by Rp 5.500 one way, and c) the poor–God knows if they really pay the budget ticket that costs them Rp 2.000. Instead of being a ‘one for all’ public transportation, the train feels it safe enough to let the economic gap stay that way. Genius.
  • The have have the absolute right to do whatever they want to the poor just because their train takes more money from their pocket. This includes forcing them to wait at Stasiun Depok or Stasiun Manggarai for ‘a while’ after their mighty Pakuan gets ahead.
  • The poor can’t sit on the top of their train on their own risk because it’s dangerous, but the have can violate the rule of ‘no sitting on the floor’ and ‘no extra seats’ inside the coach (which is evidently annoying throughout hectic hours)–because they pay those little seats themselves?
  • Female have should enjoy full protection from those mashers with a gerbong khusus wanita but the same rights don’t go to the female poor. (What? They pay us Rp 2.000 a ride and expect us to protect them? Don’t be silly!)


The scariest gap in our society is that several feet from express train to the budget one. Indonesia needs a change, young minds.

Of course. Really, I just don’t get it.

One day, just a moment in the future, this saddening system should change. Either I take the power myself and enhance better performance in every level of service in public transportation i.e. commuter trains, or I’ll persuade my future students to do so. Someone with vision should take the lead, yo.

How International Relations Theories Affect Us

Since there are many people who misperceived me as a literature student, I’d like to reaffirm that no, I’m not that lucky to be able to study languages. Instead, I’m happily trapped in the major of international relations. I sometimes pay unequal attention to the textual aspects in my papers, but still, the issue in my hands involve or more two state/non-state actors e.g. France and Japan–not French and Japanese (as a language).

To begin with, I’m not the most brilliant student in the class–we have someone way smarter to bear that title, but I need to reveal that I score quite amazing in our the theory class(es)–because I have a fond, very fond interest in the subject. I believe that everyone else should also experience the same excitement, so here go examples of international relations (IR) theories–traditional ones–that explain human traits:


1. “Great powers will ally with weaker ones.”

Or, to inverse the premise, “great powers will not ally with other great power.”

The case happens with leaders who seek for influence and glory (two main interests that states as well strive for). In simpler words, when your alliance gets stronger and threatening, you’ll instinctively leave him and find a weaker person.

Remember when Wiranto created Hanura or when other political leaders separate and build their own squad under a new party? They might defend themselves with the notion of ‘principal-differences’, but the basic objective is clear–to seek for feebler actors whom you can control and induce with your own ideas and concepts. Just as Schweller says, weak actors tend to be opportunist and willing to bandwagon.

Another model to explain this: when the staff of an organization have increased their level of scrutiny and send protests to their boss’s policies, these employees are actually gaining their strength. Their boss, the great power, instead of getting his hands dirty with problems and difficulties, will prefer to search for new people.

2. “The more number of states is, the more likely dyadic relation to happen.”

Most people will reject an invitation to join a dinner of two lovers. In Indonesian language, we call this third party as obat nyamuk or kambing congek, and it does not sound so nice. (Tell me about that.)

However, with a little (too many) experiences, I can tell that you’re not actually ignored when you go out together with a couple. Because, ladies and gentlemen, with only 3 states existing, a bilateral interaction between any 2 states will be seen by the other person, and it will make them feel uneasy about it. In the end, the situation will yield in a decent multilateral relation between the 3 states.

Yet again, when the number of actors increase to 4, 5, or 6, the number of dyadic relations will also rise along because they know that other actors are also performing a dyadic relation with another actor–yielding a perspective of ‘we’re cool here’. You see–when there’s a couple hanging out with a number of friends they’ll most likely reserve their own seats and private talk instead of bothering to talk with the other folks.

This dyadic relation is stronger especially when 2 states have a similar interest, a huge one to each other, be it romance or whatever. If the number of actors has reached dozens or hundreds, indeed these connections will occur to every possible direction.

3. “International agreement will never, ever, work.”

So back then I made an agreement with Kiki to stay up all night and finish our international relations theory paper. If you expect us to completely fulfill this agreement–you’re wrong. We’re both deadliners by nature (just as states are evil by nature), so it is just easy for us to break the ‘law’ which was based on such bilateral agreement. That night, instead of keeping an eye to Microsoft Word, we chatted and Tumblr-ed. Kiki even forgot the regulations we agreed upon. Thenceforth, agreements or laws that need a ratification from states will never be effective. I can guarantee you that.

Here I am, amazed by the study of international relations that can explain almost every phenomenon in our lives. Those three examples are picked because they happened lately. As a matter of fact, there are many other examples that I’d like to share. Later, readers.