Tag Archives: WWII

Made in WhereEverLand

My Apacer multi-card reader just broke on me. Upon closer inspection, the pins on both ends of the CompactFlash reader seem to have broken off1. Maybe I was in a stage of ‘excited delirium’, which according to popular belief, makes me as strong as a super hero. But I digress: I think they make this kind of hardware intentionally fragile because they are massively produced in countries where resources are cheap.

It always strikes me as funny, though, to blame the product’s country of origin for any breakage. For some reason, it reminds of anti-Japan sentiments in the late 70s and early 80s (or anti-Malaysia and anti-Taiwan in the 90s) where, at that time seemingly, all electronic hardware came from. Labour in those countries was cheap, so many manufacturers decided to move plants to Asia, which allowed these countries to enjoy an economic boom. Sometimes quality and mass-production don’t go hand in hand2.

To get back to the Apacer card reader: obviously the CF’s pin structural design is at fault (it is way too fragile) as it broke in its first year of usage. So, I end up making the next calculation before I get a new one: I could buy a new reader every year for 20 dollars (‘cheap’) or I could get one that lasts me a bit longer for the price of 30 dollar (My Canon camera seems to have an excellent and solid mechanism for guiding CF cards in its internal memory slot, so I presume there should be sturdier card readers around).

While I’m at it: I recall comments my dad made about the rise of Japanese-made (cheap) products before the Second World War broke out. The quality of these products were (at times) ‘abdominal’ and fueled the belief of European supremacy over the Japanese, that is, if they (the Japanese) decided to go to war3. History tells us the opposite happened, of course.

1 For a moment I was afraid the pins of the camera might have broken off and were stuck in the card. However, I just checked my camera and it looks fine.

2 This is not an entirely fair statement: the point of mass-production is to get consistent quality (compare with the car production by robots), but if the initial design of the product relies on dubious cheap components then something is terribly wrong.

3 Obviously war was on the minds of the colonials in Asia, particularly after Japan signed the Tripartite Pact in September of 1940, well after the German Blitzkrieg successes in Western Europe.

V-J Day

Today The Dutch-Indie monumentmarks V-J day, which is the day that (then) emperor Hirohito announced the unconditional surrender of the Japanese forces, eventually ‘freeing’ my parents, their siblings and their parents (the independence of Indonesia was called for two days after that, thus pushing back time for the ones who just had managed to survive the Japanese camps).

Every year it’s sort of becoming a sport to find news items about this particular day: it’s getting less with the year and sometimes, I think that is probably a good thing. I read that the Dutch association of Dutch-Indies survivors still have their yearly commemoration, which, if I’m not wrong, Alfons attended last year.

Here’s to another year.

08/16/07: Related Metafilter thread.


Before Hiroshima vs. Greensburggoing to bed last night, I read a brief report about a town in the US hit by tornadoes. This morning, this thread at Metafilter reported that the tornado that hit that town (Greensburg) seemed to have just flattened the town. The pictures reminded me of the damage after the first nuclear bomb attack on Hiroshima (1945) [see Little Boy].

Currently 10 people have been confirmed dead but news media (CNN and others) fear that the number may rise the next couple of days.

Keroncong Kemayoran

The week before we buried our dad, Alfons took it upon him to compile the music for the funeral, that is from beginning to end. I think I was asked about my preferences, but decided to leave most of the stuff to the ones who wanted to take part of this process of mourning. For the compilation, Alfons relied on my Dad’s iPod and picked out the music that Dad (literally) liked the most. One of them ended up to be the traditional Indonesian Keroncong Kemayoran (sample 40+seconds). I remember that many funeral attendees were surprised to hear the tunes of the Kemayoran during the lowering of the casket1.

That said, the web has pretty much nothing to tell about keroncong: there’s this (nifty) Google book about the ‘Music of Malaysia’, which (indeed) covers the chord progression of the typical Indonesian and Malaysian music styles. Or this (recently) uploaded video at YouTube featuring young Indonesian musicians2 playing the song during an Indonesian Night in Tempe, Arizona (the irony of the name of the city, if you’re familiar with the Malaysian language).

When I was a younger person, I didn’t understand my Dad’s mixed feeling towards the nation that gave birth to him, but chased him away ‘like a dog’ (as he frequently joked about). One can only assume that this particular Kroncong Kemayoran was the silver lining in his life: from the careless young kid hanging around with the native Indonesians, the Japanese occupation, to the Bersiap (the Indonesian independence fight).

Bitter, but sweet nonetheless.

1 I’m actually not sure if it was played during or after the lowering of the casket.
2 Courtesy of