Project 365

Welcome! This is my own 365 project of creating at least one post per day about the stuff that I learnt, achieved, and found, the stuff that made me happy, or the new thing I did every single day.

The project was started on 21 February 2010. It has stopped for few times but I am determined to continue!

This project is dedicated to myself. I want to feel grateful for every single thing I have. I want to be thankful for my own life. I just want to feel that I have enough.

Tag: TED


I would like to invite Prof. Brown to conduct an ethnographic study on Middle Eastern cultures which revolve around the word "eib", "عيب". This Arabic word, in its root, means "flaw", and yet the word in its daily usage, refers to shame. You are told, "eib", as in, shame on you, for doing so and so. Usually, the word "eib" is accompanied with a sentence about what people would think. One’s life is centred on what others think, the flaw which you might be presenting, and the shame which emerges from it. The root of many problems in Arab society are not oppression of women, nor is it dictatorship, etc. It is of us oppressing ourselves with this constant shaming process. We are always told to not reveal our flaws, to always care about what people think – of what we do, how we dress, how we behave, etc. We fear stigma, because we engage in stigmatizing each other.

I always love to read the comments on TED talk. This one is the comment for Brene Brown’s talk about shame. This is a very interesting insight about Arab society and I do think that we have such approach too in Asian/Indonesian society.

Connected, but alone?


I have just discovered this video! It’s been awhile since I watched a TEDTalk and wrote it here on my blog. After watching this talk delivered by Sherry Turkle, I decided to quickly write it here.

I have complained a lot in this blog about the Internet, gadgets, and social networking sites which have done a great deal in changing the way we, the humans, interact with each other. To be honest, they are not entirely bad. Thanks to social networks, I can be connected again to my long lost friends in elementary school or high school. I remember about a half a decade ago, I used to be the one who searched for them on the Internet and made a mailing list group so that we could keep in touch. When only few people used Friendster, I told everyone to create an account there. When Facebook gained popularity in the US (but not in other countries), I told all of my close friends to move to Facebook :P. I was busy making sure that although they’re not physically close to me anymore, I could at least reach them online.

But now, every single person can be easily reached. Virtually reached, that is. Everyone is on Facebook, Twitter, YM, LinkedIn, GMail, aaah…. you name it! People, including me, are addicted to it. Every time we encounter something, we update our status. We no longer call our closest friends to tell them about it, but updating a status seems to be the coolest way to go about it. Hi-by friends or even strangers suddenly become our best “virtual listeners”. Friends or families are busy with their smartphones while having dinner together. It is absurd, if you really think about it (I’m criticizing myself too, you know!). We spend less time to have a real and deep conversation with people because we spend too much time online with people who we think they care (but they are not, really).

So, this talk by Sherry Turkle  is exactly what has been running through my mind for the past few months or years — except that, she explains it more beautifully and persuasively than I do. One thing that struck me is this:

When I ask people “What’s wrong with having a conversation?” People say, “I’ll tell you what’s wrong with having a conversation. It takes place in real time and you can’t control what you’re going to say.” So that’s the bottom line. Texting, email, posting, all of these things let us present the self as we want to be. We get to edit, and that means we get to delete, and that means we get to retouch, the face, the voice, the flesh, the body — not too little, not too much, just right.

This is the major difference between real conversation and “virtual conversation” (texting, email, etc). Real conversation cannot be perfected with technology. There is no rewind or undo button. We can appear as perfect as we can virtually. We can appear as the person we always want to be virtually. We can pretend to care when we have a hard time to show our care to other people in the real world. We get to do things that we cannot do in real life.

What’s more is that, technology seems to be the thing we turn to when we are most vulnerable. As Sherry puts it: “The feeling that ‘no one is listening to me’ make us want to spend time with machines that seem to care about us.” Technology makes us feel connected, somehow. The moment that we are alone, have nothing to do, waiting for the bus, or have nothing to talk about with the person next to us, we immediately try to reach our small device.

For me, social networks are important to keep in touch with friends that are thousand miles apart from me. But to those who are within few km distances, I’d rather have a meaningful one-to-one conversation over coffee, lunch, or dinner. That’s the only way to understand and learn about my friends. No amounts of emails, Skype, and YM messages can beat real conversation. It is hard to loosen up my addiction to social networking, but at least I know that I still prefer the old traditional way of interacting. With the loneliness plaguing my life, talking to friends online in any way cannot heal this feeling. In order for it to disappear, I need friends who are physically here, talking to me. While some chats and emails did help in motivating and encouraging me, all of them are temporary. They are like medicines that can heal the pain but unfortunately, they cannot cure the actual disease.

I’m not suggesting to ban social networks and abandon them all together. But what I’m suggesting is to spend more meaningful time with the people around us. Talk to them. Know them well. Socialize. At least, put our smartphones away when we are with them. I do get annoyed by it when everyone is with their phones!!! 🙂 So, let’s do myself and everyone a favor that when you sit down with your friends, put your mobile phones away. Prove yourself that you can ignore this device, even though it’s merely an hour long.

I’m on the front page!

TED's English-to-Indonesian translators

YEAAAAH! I’m on the first page of Indonesian translators on TED! How cool! Hahaha… I would be "kicked out" by someone else if I stopped translating :P.

At least I know how it feels to be on the first page (does it matter?!) hahaha. I’m going to translate more videos if I have free time! TED is the coolest thing ever.

Here are some of the talks that I’ve translated.

Living Wholeheartedly

This is an excellent talk by Dr. Brené Brown. And yes, she’s a research professor who has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. So this talk is actually based on her decade of research into this topic! I’m not going to write all the things she said, because you really need to watch it (she’s a great storyteller!).

But there’s one thing that kinda struck me, which is of course vulnerability. I hate to be vulnerable. I really hate that because I feel so weak. And I don’t like to be weak. When friends asked me if I were okay, I would say yes, although I felt like crying inside. When I felt betrayed, I barely wanted to admit it. When somebody didn’t treat me right, I acted as if I didn’t care, but I actually did. The point is,  I never wanted to admit that I was affected, hurt, or broken-hearted, especially to the person who caused me so. And I never wanted to let myself loving someone so deeply because of fear of separation. This is all related to weakness (and being looked as a weak human being), fear of something, and my image (of being strong and the urge to keep that image with me).

Then I questioned myself, WHY IN THE WORLD DID I DO THAT?!

Clearly, I’ve been unconscious! And I was awaken by Brene, this video. She taught me that it’s okay to be vulnerable. She said, "Vulnerability is at the core of fear, anxiety, shame, and very difficult emotions that we all experience. But vulnerability is also the birth place of joy, love, belonging, creativity, faith…."

We tend to deal with our vulnerability by "numbing" vulnerability. Evidence includes debts, over weight, addiction to alcohol or drugs or even busy-ness. But the problem is that, we can’t selectively numb emotions. If we numb "the bad things" like vulnerability, grief, shame, and disappointments, we automatically numb the other good things, like joy, gratitude, and happiness. That’s when we feel miserable, looking for the purpose and meaning of life, etc. And that’s bad, isn’t it?

So how do we do it? How do we live wholeheartedly?

We have to fully embrace vulnerability, not deny it. We’re not only have to embrace our vulnerability, but also need to embrace the vulnerability of others. It’s our vulnerability that makes us beautiful. The willingness to love others first with our whole hearts. The willingness to do something where there are no guarantees. The willingness to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out (ouch!).

We also need to have the courage to be imperfect and let ourselves deeply and vulnerably seen. Tell the world about who we really are. Be honest about it and never let what other people think about us in any way paralyze us. And that’s the first step of worthiness, believing that we are worthy of love and belonging. That’s really important in order to live wholeheartedly. We also need to be compassionate. Caring others genuinely and loving them with our whole hearts. To practice gratitude and joy is also essential. Being thankful for what we have and honoring what’s ordinary about our lives: our loved ones, friends, community, and nature. And lastly, to believe that we’re enough 🙂

We want more guarantees. We we want to believe that we we’re not going to get hurt and that bad things aren’t going to happen and they are, but there is a guarantee that nobody talks about and that is that if we don’t allow ourselves to experience joy and love, we will definitely miss out on filling our reservoir with what we need when those hard things happen

I’m going to start to embrace my vulnerability for now. Somehow I found it much easier to embrace other’s vulnerabilities than my own. Bismillah. Let me be free.

A TED Translator

Yippy. I’m officially a TED translator. I’m still waiting for my request to translate this video to be approved, hopefully within this week!

As I’m a big fan of TED, I decided to spend some hours of my time to translate some of the videos into Indonesian. The good thing about being a TED Translator is that you’re not bind into some contract or anything like that. You have the choice to translate whatever video you like and you’re given 30 days to complete it (after which, other TED Translators may take over). So it’s very flexible!

If you have the time, I encourage you be part of the community so that we can spread those ideas worth spreading to even more wider audience! 🙂

The Poor

I was watching some videos on when I suddenly encountered this interesting comment about poor people:

You probably think poor people all across the United States can just pick themselves up out of the dirt, go to college, and get a great job, thus eliminating all of their problems. And if they don’t do that, they’re lazy. It’s so frustrating dealing with people who do not understand how external factors contribute to the perpetuation of poverty in the United States. Take a look at "In Search of Respect" by Philippe Bourgois, and he’ll show you how the downtrodden turned their lives around, ditched the drugs, and said to society "I"m ready to change my life." They try to get a job. Society replies, "sorry, you don’t fit in with us well-to-do people. You don’t dress right, you don’t have the skills, and you don’t have the attitude to be a successful person." Yet, from the beginning, society inhibited their ability to, for example, get the decent "education" required to function in society. It’s a vicious cycle, and it applies here.

Michael Toyama

It doesn’t only exist in the U.S. It’s everywhere. What can we do about it?

Girls’ Education

I just finished watching a TED video presentation by Sheryl WuDunn titled Our Century’s Greatest Injustice. Again, I’m not too keen on writing so I’m just going to write some interesting issues she made in bullet points.


  • More girls were discriminated to death than all the people killed on all battlefields in 20th century
  • Girls aged 1-5 die at 50% higher mortality rate than boys in all of India
  • Women and girls aren’t the problem. They are the solution.

If you’re not fully utilizing half the talent in the country, you’re not going to get too close to the top ten

— Bill Gates, when he was in Saudi Arabia, referring to the Saudi women that were not fully utilized.

  • It may well be that the highest return on investment in the developing world is in girls’ education – Larry Summers
  • When you educate a girl, she tends to get married later on in life, she tends to have kids later on in life, she tends to have fewer kids, and those kids that she does have, she educates them in a more enlightened fashion. With economic opportunity, it can be transformative.
  • Research shows that once you have all of your material needs taken care of, there are very few things in life that can actually elevate your level of happiness. One of those things is contributing to a cause larger than yourself.
  • We have all won the lottery of life. And so the question becomes: how do we discharge that responsibility? So, here’s the cause. Join the movement. Feel happier and help save the world.

The presentation reminds me of a quote made by Queen Rania of Jordan:

If you educate the women, you educate the family. If you educate the girl, you educate the future.

So, are you ready to discharge that responsibility? 🙂

Anti-Angiogenic & Cancer

I just finished watching a very interesting TED presentation by William Li about a new way to treat cancer and other diseases. He introduced a new term which I hadn’t heard about: angiogenesis, which is the process involved in the development of new blood vessels. As we all know, blood vessels are one of the most essential parts of circulatory system that transport blood throughout the body. There’re  about 19 billion of these blood vessels exist in our body. The amount of blood vessels that are present at any given time are controlled and regulated by our body. These vessels can either grow to form new blood vessels or can be pruned back to remove excess blood vessels to baseline using simulators and/or inhibitors of angiogenesis. 

However, everything does not always run smoothly. Defects in the system do exist; i.e. when the body can’t prune back extra blood vessels or can’t prune grow enough new ones in the right place at the right time. In these situations, angiogenesis is out of balance, which results in a myriad of diseases. For example, insufficient angiogenesis (not enough blood vessels) can lead to wounds that don’t heal, heart attacks, and nerve damage; while excessive angiogenesis (too many blood vessels) can lead to cancer, blindness, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease. The interesting thing is that: there are more than 70 major diseases that actually share abnormal angiogenesis as their common denominator. And the new way to tackle these diseases is by controlling angiogenesis!

Let’s take a closer look at cancer. Well, everyone of us has microscopic cancers in our body. These cancers are small, microscopic nests of cells that can only grow to one half a cubic millimeter in size (which is as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen). They can’t get any larger due to lack of blood supply (no oxygen & nutrients). So they’re not dangerous at all, until they get a blood supply. As Li said, “the body’s ability to balance angiogenesis, when it’s working properly, prevents blood vessels from feeding cancers.” That means, we can prevent cancers (and other diseases) by blocking angiogenesis and preventing blood vessels from reaching cancer cells, right?!

In fact, there’s a so-called antiangiogenic therapy/drug which aims at cutting off the blood supply to cancers. It seems quite promising! I seriously have never heard of it before. It seemed to me that chemotherapy was the only way to fight treat cancers. But of course, anti-angiogenesis drugs do have side-effects, some of them are quite serious. In fact, the risks of using these drugs might actually outweigh the benefits. I haven’t done quite an extensive research on this but I found that these drugs may result in tumor recurrence at many sites in the body. Scary, but I think more research needs to be done about this.

Now, the question continues: what could we add to our diet that’s naturally antiangiogenic, that could boost the body’s defense system and beat back those blood vessels that are feeding cancers? So here are the list of some foods that we can eat:



What adults can learn from kids

Another interesting talk from TED, this time by Adora Svitak about what adults can learn from kids. The fact that kids are so naive and have much less experience than adults makes them dream with no limits and boundaries. As a kid, I used to do that. I used to dream about traveling abroad during the time when my dad had little money to even support us. But who would have thought that few years later, my dad took the whole family to travel around the Middle East. I also used to dream about studying in an English-spoken country when I knew that it was impossible to even talk about it! But who would have thought that I got the opportunity to set my foot in Australia in 2004? It’s amazing.

Now.. moving on to my dream about setting up a school for lower class to middle class Indonesians in Jakarta. I’m no longer a kid, but I still have this dream. Whether or not I’ll be able to realize this dream is another story. But I just need some support from people around me, especially my own family. Mom supports me, of course, but she has this skepticism (as always) and she thinks that it’s very hard and I shouldn’t be too ambitious about it. Now, I don’t like this kind of attitude. Of course, I’m not expecting it to be easy: building a school with cheap tuition fees but high class teachers… who would think that it’s going to be easy? But positive attitude (including trust) and continuous support is all I need, and that makes me want to dream more, feel motivated, and try harder. I don’t think I mind if I don’t get to reach my dream, but as people say… the experience and the journey to reach such dream is what makes a difference.

If I look back to my life, I realize that high expectations and trust from my parents is the reason how I get into this milestone of my life. I do think my parents place a very high expectation on me, as the oldest child in the family, but if they don’t do that, I’d probably end up doing Bachelor degree in an ordinary university and doing ordinary job. As a person who will end up being a parent later, I’d place a high expectation on my kids too later on. But perhaps I’d take a different approach from my parents. I’d give them freedom to do what they really want and continuously support them without forcing them to be on top of the world every single time. I don’t know how exactly I’m going to approach this, but like I said… I have all these exciting ideas about teaching and educating my kids and I have to read a lot of parenting books… 😀

Schools Kill Creativity

Ken Robinson gave an interesting and funny talk at TED. In his opinion, schools nowadays kill our creativity and the creativity of many children. But, in what way?

As all of us may know, kids are not frightened of being wrong. “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original,” said Robinson. But the problem is that: how can they remain to be an “artist” as they grow up? Most children have lost their capacity as they grow older; and as a result, they have become so scared of being wrong. Because this is what schools nowadays teach us about. They have been teaching us that mistakes are the worst thing that we can do. That we can’t make mistakes. We are pressured. And therefore, we try so hard to avoid them. The result is that: schools educate us out of our creativity.

Education system around the world has been created and influenced to meet the needs of industrialism. The most useful subjects for work are definitely at the top: science, maths, etc. People are discouraged to take their path to music or arts merely because of the unpromising job that they would get. But the thing is that different people have different ability. They have different talents. Don’t they have to do something that they really like? Why do we have to kill their creativity and talents when those things are probably the only things they have?

Not to mention the so called “academic inflation” which indicates the whole structure of our education system is shifting beyond our ability and capacity. Years ago, having a high school diploma was enough to get a decent job. But this was quickly shifted to having a minimum of bachelor degree. Nowadays, masters degree is important and will become a necessity in few years time (even now!). I can imagine that there will be time when probably PhD is gonna take the lead. 🙁

One interesting thing that Robinson said is this: we start to teach children from the waist up as they grow up. We teach them how to walk. Dance. Draw. Talk. Then we focus on their heads; and eventually to one side of the head. This is so true! Education has become sooooo focused on the brain, not creativity. High marks are important. But producing the most beautiful and creative work of art is less important. How come we don’t value creativity? How can we come up with something original and new when our education itself doesn’t support this? How can we see the future? 🙂