Obituary : Lee Kuan Yew

[Jakarta, LttW] Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral is held today, on March 30, 2015. As people around the World send their condolences to Singapore on the passing of the city-state’s founding father, differing opinions have formed over how the former Prime Minister should be remembered. But there is no doubt though, that the way Lee Kuan Yew has lead Singapore has had a profound effect not only upon Singapore, but also on the politics, economics, and culture of South East Asia and beyond.

Lee Kuan Yew is recognized as the founding father of modern Singapore. His national policies as Prime Minister—particularly up to the ’90s—has been marked by state-enforced repression of political dissent in Singapore’s parliament, political parties, media, and popular culture. And yet today Singapore is recognized as one of the most stable and prosperous economies in Asia, arguably more stable & prosperous than neighboring Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

Some have argued that Singapore’s socio-economic progress is no different than that of her neighbors, and some have argued that political repression in Singapore has not been ‘very repressive’. And yet after all that we cannot deny that Lee Kuan Yew’s perseverance and untiring, uncompromising effort has had a hand in all that has happened in Singapore as a Nation-State.

In speaking with the New York Times in 2010 on his legacy, LKY said, “I’m not saying that everything I did was right, but everything I did was for an honorable purpose.”

(fz)

Obituary, Slamet Abdul Sjukur

RIP Slamet Abdul Sjukur, Indonesian music composer

[Jakarta, LttW] Indonesian Composer Slamet Abdul Sjukur passed away on March 24th, 2015.
He died in Dr Soetomo General Hospital, in Surabaya, East Java, at 6.00am, Western Indonesia Time.

Born in 1935 in Surabaya, East Java, Slamet A. Sjukur has been noted as one of the pioneers in contemporary music in Indonesia. He was a lecturer at Institut Kesenian 4Jakarta (Jakarta Institute of Arts) for a little while before working fully as a freelance composer, teacher and music critic. Claiming to have studied and worked in Paris under Olivier Messiaen and Henri Dutilleux, he stirred the music scene with his unconventional ideas, approaches and practices. His works are “notable for their minimal constellation of sounds and for their numerological basis which indicate the composer’s interest in a new ‘ecology of music’”. This idea views limitation not as obstructions but as a challenge to work with a simple material, maximally.

Indonesia owes a gratitude for his braveness and great effort in showing that crossing boundaries is one of the essentials in enliven and enrich the life of arts.

If there is only one human race, then why are humans still racist?

[Jakarta, LttW] We are today, as a globalized humanity, plagued by hate among fellow men, hate upon each other. One form of this manifest hate is fueled by a fear and loathing of those who are of different ‘races’ to us.

But what exactly is racism? For example, sometimes Indonesians in Jakarta refer affectionately to white-skinned foreigners as the ‘bule’. Truth be told the term can be considered derogatory when we trace the term’s original meaning which can be translated more or less as “sickly pale”. But Indonesians may argue that ‘bule’ is a ‘term of endearment’. We do not mean ill when we use the term ‘bule’, in fact we love our ‘bule’ neighbors and we call him/her ‘bule’ because we are so close to each other. ‘Bule’, the argument goes, does not contain any  negative/pejorative meaning.

And yet many scientific research efforts into human genetics have basically concluded that all humans of different “races” are basically genetically identical; that there are, in essence and scientifically, only one single human genetic race. Here in this article by columnist Adam Rutherford, it is argued once again that there are no scientific basis for racism. With links to contemporary genetic research and opinions from evolutionary research pioneers Charles Darwin and others.

When we think about it, racism is not the only issue where human behavior runs contradictory to scientific facts. For example in the case of environmental damage caused by how humans throw away their waste without care. And still we regularly throw trash into our rivers, causing flooding in our own neighborhoods.

So what do you think? Why are humans racist? Is there any such thing as “different human races”? And also, why do we keep failing to apply scientific learning in our daily lives? Feel free to publish a comment below if you feel otherwise. (FZ, AA)


Why racism is not backed by science” — by Adam Rutherford
from The Observer blog at The Guardian Online

As we harvest ever more human genomes one fact remains unshakable: race does not exist.

Barely a week goes by without some dispiriting tale of racism seeping into the public consciousness: the endless stream of Ukip supporters expressing some ill-conceived and unimaginative hate; football hooligans pushing a black man from a train. I am partly of Indian descent, a bit swarthy, and my first experience of racism was more baffling than upsetting. In 1982, my dad, sister and I were at the Co-op in a small village in Suffolk where we lived, when some boys shouted “Coco and Leroy” at us. Fame was the big hit on telly at the time, and they were the lead characters. My sister and I thought this was excellent: both amazing dancers and supremely attractive: we did bad splits all the way home.

As someone who writes about evolution and genetics – both of which involve the study of inheritance, and both of which rely on making quantitative comparisons between living things – I often receive letters from people associating Darwin with racism, usually citing the use of the words “favoured races” in the lengthy subtitle to his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species. Of course, Darwin doesn’t discuss humans in that great book, and “races” was used to describe groups within non-human species. Contemporary use of language must be taken into account.

Darwin was not a racist. He did not, unlike many of his contemporaries, think human “races” might be separate creations or subspecies. He was a staunch abolitionist, impressed and influenced by his friend and taxidermy tutor John Edmonstone at Edinburgh, who was a freed black slave. However, Darwin’s half-cousin Francis Galton, most certainly was a racist. He wrote that the Chinese were a race of geniuses, that “Negroes” were vastly inferior, that “Hindoos” were inferior in “strength and business habits” and that the “Arab is little more than an eater up of other men’s produce; he is a destroyer”.

Obviously, these views are as absurd as they are unacceptable today, as bewildering as calling two half-Indian kids the stage names of two African-American actors.

Read more at The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/mar/01/racism-science-human-genomes-darwin

Can Art be Created (Purely) Digitally?

In this Internet and Digital age, we increasingly witness many “purely digital” works and creations. Music has been composed & recorded using computers, with  simulated instruments that sound “indistinguishable from the real thing”. Similarly with visual arts, the term ‘digital art’ and ‘digital artist’ has appeared where artists create visual works (of art) using (“purely digital”) tools. Some have even gone as far as to ask, “Do we really need ‘analog’ art anymore?”

There is no doubt that the digital world has evolved and expanded to affect many aspects of our daily lives, including art — visually and musically. But can we say that an artwork without first-hand experience and skill is a “piece of art”?

What are the consequences of using computers & digital tools to create Art? What are we losing when we depend so much on computer-based methods? What are we gaining (in exchange)? What about mass-replication of digitalized works of Art? Are we at risk of losing “analog” Art?

Have your say below.

Wrap-up

Thanks everyone, for giving your opinions in this Your Thoughts discussion. It’s customary for us to do a periodic wrap-up on this topic, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to share your thoughts after this. So please continue to key in any piece of mind whenever you have one.

Of various responses given, one response is that the term “digital art” can be questioned, meaning that art is art no matter what kind of tools are used to create art—be the tool “digital” or “analog”. “Art is an expression of someone’s mind”, one participant states, “as long as that someone is honest to him/herself, then there is no problem.” Digital tools, from this perspective, are just one type of tool from among many.
But there is a difference still between digital and analog. There is the feel of non-digital tools in the hand of the artist, and that there is a ‘coldness’ when using digital tools. Feeling the texture of paper on your pencil, or the vibration of guitar strings as you strum a chord.

And so what would happen if all art have become ‘purely’ digital? When all art becomes so easily reproduced so as, hypothetically for example, all museums have the exact same contents? Also, what will happen when we all become so dependent—and so used to—digital tools, that the knowledge to use non-digital tools becomes lost? What are the consequences of us no longer being able to remember the basic skills and instincts that come from practicing with pre-digital tools?

In our own opinion, the way humans use technology must be proportional and with full consciousness of its advantages and drawbacks. We must remember that current technologies are always founded on top of previously established thoughts and experiences, sometimes even as a criticism of past practices. As we move forward we must not forget the past wisdom. We cannot become passive ‘consumers’ of ‘technology’, we need to know precisely their uses and use them proportionally.

That’s it for this wrap-up; as usual the comments are still open so feel free to respond if you feel you have more to add. Cheers!