Thursday, September 14, 2006

Mud and Morons...

Plugging "Lapindo" into Google News will give you a taste of the recent outrageous ecological disaster foisted upon the poor downtrodden Kampung-ites by big business in Indonesia.

Since late May millions of cubic metres of 160 degree celcius poisonous mud has been gushing out of the Lapindo drilling site in East ruining farmland for generations, shutting down roads, and displacing thousands of people. Let me just repeat that this mud has been gushing SINCE MAY (!), and it is now a good chunk of the way through September.

Big business does get a bit of a bad rap in Indonesia. Periodically they slip up a little and displace a couple of thousand people here, or chop down a heritage forest there, but on the whole the economic benefits they provide are helping bring Indonesians out of poverty and into the 21st century.

The people in charge tend to be well educated too. So when things do accidentally go wrong, they tend to use the most effective means possible to put things right again.

Take for example the most recent efforts to stem the mudflow as reported in the Jakarta Post last Sunday:

*ahem*

The government is offering a prize of Rp. 100 million (about US$10 grand, or about 10 times the stipulated ANNUAL minimum wage) to anyone who can stop the flow by supernatural means... And, to thin down the competition (because hundreds applied) they put together the following:

In a screening process, each psychic had to pass a test: turn off a water faucet left on by the organizer with only their supernatural powers.

"With the test, many candidates had to go back home. How can they stop a mudflow if they can't even shut off a faucet," Titus (the competition organiser - john) said.


As the rest of this article talks about the efforts of some of the participants, I suppose we are to assume that some of these "Paranormals" have passed the test.

Well, if the Indonesian government is as strapped for cash as they claim to be, then pick any one of these magic men and fly them over to the US to take part in the Randi Challenge. A cool million bucks is available to anyone who can demonstrate the existence of paranormal phenomena, and turning off a running tap would be sufficient. While they're at it, they can travel around the world and pick up all of the other prizes offered by the other sceptics associations around the world...

Not a bad return on investment, even if they split it two ways with the lucky winner... It might not stop the mud, but at least it can fund some of the clean-up.

At least this is only the regional governmental body offering the prize, the central government would never do something so stupid... Like, say, having the Vice President spend tens of millions of Rupiah on hiring rainmakers to rain on the May Day parade...

Sigh...

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