Tag Archives: Musings

One Bite Too Many

15 Oct

This is a little hard for me.  First, because I haven’t known about him as much as other tech-savvy people who follow the whole brouhaha of the tech world closely.  Second, because what I’m about to posit here is so different than the current majority of existing opinions.

Yep, it’s about Steve Jobs.  Or to be more exact, the man as I knew him to be.

When the whole world was mourning when he passed away not long ago, my mind wandered to the ultimate destiny of Apple without him.  Will the company be able to live on to his legacy?  Will the company be able not only to survive, -but continue to thrive, by being “insanely different”?

Most of the articles, obituaries, blog posts, and whatnots seem to agree on this.  The thinking revolves around the argument that Jobs had successfully established an ecosystem where creativity rules, where everyone in the company lives and breathes the same set of values that he had.  Or in short, that the company’s living DNA had been so closely and carefully molded to resemble Mr Jobs’ paradigm of being a square peg in the round hole.  This in turn, will lead to a future where the company will still at least be as successful as they are right now.

Some careful experts and analysts inserted a line that says something like “only time will tell” or “the ultimate future of Apple will remain to be uncertain”.  Yet what was clearly maintained by all the writings that I read is that Apple will not suffer because of Mr Jobs’ demise.

I am saying the opposite.  I believe that with Steve’s passing away, it spelled a beginning of the end for Apple.  I think that starting from October 2011, Apple is starting to take steps toward slow, steady decline.  It could be really slow, but it’s a decline nonetheless.

Now, I am using the word “decline” in a very loose sense here.  It covers a whole range of scenario starting from the decline of the growth curve, down to that painful phase where a company just sits there, bleeding painfully until it meet its demise or be acquired by another company looking to salvage what they can from the ruins.  At first, it may not be apparent at all because most people think of absolute decline with all the apparent indicators like stock shares and staff lay-offs.  But an absolute decline must begin somewhere, and it will start with a growth decline, where a company will look okay because it continues to earn, but does not enjoy a growth that it used to have.

Here are my reasons..

First, is psychology.  Mr Jobs’ genius, and Apple’s by extension, lies in one simple fact:  they make people want to buy things that previously were dismissed as unnecessary.  iPod is not the first MP3 player in the world, but it is the first MP3 player we ever truly wanted.  Similarly, iPad is not the first tablet computer.  Nor is iPhone the first smartphone ever graced the earth.  I won’t dwell onto how he makes those products so coveted, because we are all familiar with the reasons why they are great products.

Yet I will argue that therein lies his curse.  I am not familiar with management theory, but psychologically, there are sets of skills that can be taught and transferred, and there are those that can’t.  Sadly, Steve’s innate and uncanny ability to be this maverick out-of-the box thinker is one of those that you can’t simply transfer to your kids, -let alone to a company.  You’re either born with it (and carefully nurtured it in Steve’s case), or you’re not.  Most of his greatness will probably be readily transferred to Apple.  Things like attention to details, simplicity, and insistence on perfection.  But not that thing that we call his vision.  Think about it.  Most of the skill sets that we need to thrive as mankind are readily transferrable, and I thank God for that, -or else we would still be living as caveman.  But there are always few skills that cannot be taught just like that.  This is what we instinctively labeled as brilliance.  Think Da Vinci and Einstein.  If their brilliance can be extracted, taught, and applied readily, today we may well be already living on some other planet.

Second, is about problem-solving.  One of the biggest companies on earth, General Electric (GE), thrived for an enjoyable period of time in its beginning because it simply produces things that other companies didn’t:  Electricity and the things that support it, -or derived from it.  You either buy their products or opt to continue to live in the dark.

Apple’s position is different than GE.  They do produce things that solve problems, and solve it in sexy ways.  However, ask yourself this question:  If you accidentally dropped your iPhone to the toilet, will you be doomed?  Or will you be able to function temporarily with that Android phone you borrow from your teenage son?  Or your aunt’s Blackberry, for that matter.  True, you could lament that painstaking Blackberry OS, but survive you will.

Third, is about threats.  It puzzled me why most of the writings dealing with this matter only based their projections on Apple’s strengths and weaknesses as a company.  A few of them also include an exploration of opportunities as one of the external factor.  But most seem reluctant to talk about threats.

Steve Jobs is an artist that made our hearts sing.  I agree.  But the bad news is, we are living in the era of whizkids.  We got Larry Page and Sergey Brin.  They were not the first people who came up with the idea of search engine, but they’re the reason why everybody is using Google now.  We got Mark Zuckerberg, who was not the first man to bring social network to the world, but rather the man who makes all of us felt necessary to join his Facebook.  And of course, there is Jeff Bezos.

Now, I can’t predict the future.  But it’s hard for me to believe that one of this brilliant people (and rich) will not try their hands into a market where Apple is now enjoying a lion’s share.  It could be the market of smartphones, tablets, or others.  And when they do, -assuming there is no a visionary of Steve’s caliber at the helm of Apple-, it’s clear where my bets will lay.

With that, I am closing this post.  Anybody who second-guess my motive, think again.  The only reason of my premise is because of how brilliant Steve Jobs was.  And indispensable.  Which is why his demise could be one bite too many for Apple..

On Bravado, Bravery, and Braggadocio: My Repartee with a Minister

3 Oct

One evening on December 2008, I went to sleep without knowing if I would ever wake up again.  I was hospitalized because of several opportunistic infections, -including pneumonia, that could easily kill a person with HIV/AIDS.  In a lot of pain, I knew that I was having my close encounter with the grim reaper.  And friend, let me tell you, that wasn’t a nice feeling.  Think about it.  Lying awake with your eyes open, you’re forced to confront a certain conundrum: what is it on the other side?  Not to mention the awful knowledge that you’re going to leave your loved ones behind.  On that moment, I was petrified to learn that what I wrote in my letter to my son might actually come true.  I might have been knocking on heaven’s door, but those forlorn hours at that night were a fiery hell that made me cringe in tears.

Now as you continue to read this, please keep that picture in your mind.  A terminally-challenged HIV patient contracting himself in agony, drenched in a shiny film of sweat, tortured physically and mentally in his last night to live.  For any one that could pass it and actually gets better like me, there are hundreds that did not make it to the morning.  In fact, of all the 6 persons in the room where I was hospitalized, I am the only survivor.  I watched them die one by one.

Fast forward to now.  Within the last several days, a certain minister of our country issued some statements over Twitter about HIV/AIDS that I found insulting.  Without trying to gloss over what I’ve already said in my answers to him, let me just say that his statements are typical to what stigmatization is all about.  Also, it seemed to me that there could be no possible excuses that could explain how such statements are allowed.  Personal opinion?  Sir, you forfeit your personal opinion when you take that job.  That’s just the cost of politics.  Was merely quoting another person?  Hey, how stupid do you think I am?  Unless it was specifically stated otherwise, you just don’t get around quoting people without agreeing with their points.

I am not a mind reader.  But to me, it was clear that the minister was displaying a cocksure braggadocio.  Whoever he was trying to impress, to a common sense it will always be a lame attempt of bravado.  Which is why I’m offering him a chance to turn it into a true bravery of a man.

Mr. Sembiring, let me repeat the invitation that I extended before.  I would like to have a chance to meet you over a cup of coffee.  And that’s the keyword: a cup.  For if you dare to share my cup, our country would witness a man who dares to own up that he made a mistake, and is freed from any distorted thinking of bigoted stigmatization against people with HIV/AIDS.  And don’t you worry, Sir.  I’m a man too.  While I have my differences with you, I will be the first to shake your hand and tell my friends that you’re a good man once we’re done with that coffee.

The question you have to answer is:  Do you have to do it and accept my invitation?  Of course not.  But let it be clear that our country will take note of your response to this.  If you do it, it won’t be about me winning or you losing something.  No, the winner would be Life itself, with a capital “L”.  Plus, you get the bonus of turning a previous bravado into a true act of bravery.

As I close this piece, understand that I’m not doing this for popularity or grudge.  No, I am just trying to finish what I have started.  Being a HIV patient myself, I know that there are too many punishments we have to bear.  We don’t need another insult to our dignity.  And if I get to be the one who do this, I’ll do it over and over again:  I am fighting back.  I rest my case.

Between BP and Bakrie, and Luna

9 Jun

The other night, me and my friends were talking about the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Our concern was in the fact that there’s so much media hype about it, which tends to dilute the facts without actually empowering related parties to find the solution to the problem.  We did not quite understand why that needed to happen as this was not a bigger problem than Exxon Valdez in 1989.  In hindsight, we were wrong.  The BP oil spill is by far the largest disaster of its kind ever happened in U.S. history.  By the end of May, it had poured at least 20 million gallons ( or 75 million liters ) of crude oil into the Gulf, – almost double the output of Exxon Valdez.

Of course, that translates to a problem of an unprecedented scale.  Which means that so far efforts to curb the spill have been largely unsuccessful.  While a lot of people criticize President Obama for not taking a hard enough stance towards BP, I beg to differ.  Like it or not, the government simply lacks the technical know-how or skills to mitigate the problem.  Thus, getting politically angry would not get the job done.  The first priority must lie in stemming the leakage, and by resisting to take control of the whole operation, Obama leave it to the industry (without necessarily acknowledging their innocence) that is best positioned to do the job.

One interesting parallelism is between BP and Bakrie.  We all know that Bakrie is the mothership of Lapindo Brantas, a company whose operation preceded the sad mud disaster in Sidoarjo.  Granted, Lapindo had started to pay penalties for the damage it caused to the vicinity’s inhabitants.  But the company only started that after much bullying from the public and the government.  It’s still fresh in our mind that the company’s leaders were much more interested in shifting the blame to natural causes, – engaging in a blame game with God.  The underlying fact is: Lapindo never took initiative to be responsible of what happened.

With BP, the responses were worlds apart.  BP’s CEO Tony Hayward never exactly admitted the blame, but that’s not the point.  My point is, even before they were proven guilty by the pending federal enquiries and maybe even prosecutions, BP has started to take actions to contain, -if not repair, the damage it caused to the environment.  Just see how it hired International Bird Rescue Research Center to clean affected fowls.  Today, they are already treating as many as four pelicans a day.

That is but a small example, but the morale remains, – if you could take real, responsible actions about a problem, why engage in petty bickerings and other childish concerns?     That goes to a lot of other problems in Indonesia with stupid aftermaths like Luna Maya’s alleged video.  I mean, what’s with prosecuting her and the “actors” of the video?  That’s just outrageous and plain irresponsible, if you ask me.  Unfortunately, Dylan sums it best when he says that, “The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind….”

PICTURE CREDIT: The Examiner

The Biggest Prize on Earth

14 May

Mostly due to very busy days at the office, I’ve been forsaking blogging for much too long.  I certainly miss it, although for now I’m forced to consider it as a luxury that I can only afford every once in a while.

But not for one moment I will miss penning down my thoughts on the biggest competitive prize ever graced the world of sports:  The Football World Cup come this June.  No, not if I profess to be a football fan.

It is certainly exciting, if only because it is the first world cup to be held in the land of Africa.  Beside the concerns of logistics and security (the incident of the shooting at Togo team’s bus during the African Nations Cup quickly came to mind), the very distinctive ambience and climate alone could prove trying to the traditional giants of football.  Remember the USA World Cup where the temperature gets so high until it broke all the record of how many times the players take a break for drinks?  Then, the high temperature could be argued as having a negative effect of the quality of the games.  Of course, one could always argue that it’s just one of the excitement of the game: only the fittest survives.  But to push such argument is beside the point.  After all, I would still like to watch beautiful football where not only winning matters.

That being said, this World Cup is really an example of how peaceful the world could be if we can just accept our differences and focus on things we have in common.  I mean, where else do we see the United States and North Korea playing on a same field, with a same set of rules?  Come next month, we’re going to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, celebrating the most beautiful show not only on technical skills, but also of human spirit.

As to the strongest candidate I can think, my choice would still go to Spain.  Oh, yes.  In the past, people laughed at me for my silly candidates to win a major football tournament.  But after the French victory at ’98 and Spain’s at Euro ’08; I stopped to worry about it.  Here’s why I think they would win.  Of all the 32 teams battling for the title, Spain has the best qualifying campaign.  They secured a perfect 10 wins out of 10 matches.  Conceding only five goals, and scoring 28; – any nation would tremble to face the deadly pair of Villa and Torres upfront, the vision and flair of Xavi and Fabregas, or the strong physical prowess of Puyol and Ramos.  If there’s a weakness at all in their play, they should pay particular attention when defending in dead-ball situations.

Next on my line is England.  Again, laugh all you want.  But the English have been hungry for far too long that in fact it’s rather easy to imagine them performing a feat as amazing as Spain did in Euro 2008.  And please, never underestimate the man called Fabio Capello.  With the likes of Gerrard, Lampard, and Rooney; the English can do big things this time.  I would also mention their defense which could be the strongest in the world if Terry and Ferdinand play at their best.  What they need to work at is their determination, as it’s rather too often we watch them become needlessly complacent when things go their way.

My third choice for the top spot is equally divided between Argentina, France and the Netherlands.  Messi would prove a nightmare for his defender, but Maradona still needs to prove that he’s as good manager as he was a player.  France remains a strong contender albeit weak qualifying performance.  The finals might be a place where they can redeem themselves after Henry’s notorious handball that led to a goal that brought them here.  Nobody doubts Sneijder and van Persie for the Netherlands, although they have to remember that skills alone do not win the game.

The dark horse of the tournament will be of course Brazil.  I might be stoned for saying this, but they’re facing quite a struggle with their tough group matches against Portugal and Ivory Coast.  I think they will go through, but then run into a lot of trouble from injuries and suspensions which will led to a slump of form.  Oh, and make no mistake.  Pay close attention to Ivory Coast and Ghana.  Africa is their turf, and they will fight to defend it.

There you go, my two cents about the oncoming World Cup.  I might write more about some interesting matches, but until then, let’s pray that the opening day will come sooner than later…

An Ode to a Hero

29 Apr

“I tried to say goodbye and I choked,

tried to walk away and I stumble..”

-Macy Gray – “I Try”

As I tried to close my eyes and rest, I found that I couldn’t rest before I share a story.  So here it goes, a story about a wonderful heart, a courageous spirit that forever will linger on my mind.

Today, I said goodbye to my childhood nanny.  A simple, humble woman from Krian, a rural area just a little bit outside Surabaya, my hometown.  What I will share is how mischievously deceptive her looks were.  For inside that humble appearance, there lied a hero.  And I kid you not.  My babysitter was a hero in the truest sense of the word.

More than half of my years in Surabaya were marked by hardships.  My father was hit by severe financial difficulties, and he fought high and low just to bring food to the table.  Of course, over time my parents were not able to pay a babysitter to help us when, -in a somewhat cruel, irony twist of fate-, they had to work harder and leave us alone without anyone watching us at home.

This woman, however, is not your usual nanny.  She steadfastly refused to leave us.  She worked without any payment, and sometimes even bought us some meals from her own money.  That is just the beginning, make no mistake.  When we got so broke to the point that we had no roof to stay under, she offered her humble home for us to stay; while constantly treating us like a royalties during our stay.  Can you imagine that?  We stayed at her home, ate from her table, yet still she never allowed us to wash our dishes because in her words, “I remain your servant”.

At another point, when we stayed at a very simple home without any forms of entertainment like TV, she actually asked her husband to stay with us to play Chinese Checkers, -which brings a lot of amusement to our disheartened spirits.  And as if that’s not enough, she made it a point that her husband will take us for a ride in his motorcycle, just to get us to laugh more.

And boy, it didn’t end there.  When some die-hard debt collector started to play hardball with our family, she stood bravely between him and us, -practically daring him to do anything and saying “over my dead body” with her defiant stance.  That lady was not just dedicated, she simply was ready to die for us.  And remember, she did all those things (and millions others) without any pay.

When we had to move to Jakarta, she cried hard like she’s losing her own children.  Faithful spirit as she was, she accompanied us during the journey, and stayed for a couple-of-weeks in Jakarta before finally returning to her hometown.

Without failure, anytime there’s one of our family had some business in Surabaya, she cooked our favorite meals and send it to us here.  And I tell you, never had I thought that a mere dish of “sambal goreng tempe” could taste so divine!!  This dedication, -no strike that, this love continued until her last day on earth.  Even when we weren’t there, she defended us anytime there’s anyone in our hometown said something bad about us.  And did I tell you that her laughter was so full of hilarity, -ever contagious?

—–

So to a true Kartini, I shed a tear.  To someone who taught me what it means to be courageous, I raised my glass.  Mrs. Asih, allow me to give your soul one final embrace.  You won me over long before anyone else did.

If I don’t know anything about afterlife, I would chance a warning here.  A warning to St. Peter himself, no less.  “You better unlock the gate, Sir.  For heaven is gonna be a lot more exciting!!”

iStand, iSpeak

14 Feb

No, this is not a review about the newest Apple product.  Rather, it is my attempt to verbalize my response to the newest setback in Indonesian realm of democracy:  the notorious RPM Konten, – a regulation draft by its Minister of Communication and Information regarding Multimedia Content.

Racking my brains in every way I could, I fail to see any other appropriate response of any responsible citizen than to stand up and speak, -hence the title of this post.  It is also my hope that others may ride on the momentum to reject the Draft and begin to collectively speak out against this heinous experiment to silence the voice of reason.  In fact, if enough people raise their voice, the “i” will then absorb a new meaning: a movement where Indonesia Stand and Speak out as a nation.

—-

Humbly, in this short post I am going to offer one simple, fundamental idea.  Granted, any kind of controversial government regulation will usually affect only its citizens.  However, it is my belief that should this Draft get ratified, it will have a possible disturbing implications to the world at large.  Not only Indonesian citizens will suffer the consequences, but very possibly, the effect will spread over the geographical boundaries of the country.  Here is my try to examine why.

First of all, let’s understand that the Draft is just limited to regulate content disseminated electronically through the means of telecommunications, broadcasting, and information technology.  It didn’t say anything about the content of print media. Nor did it try to explicitly censor the multimedia content of electronic media, -or did it?  Electronic media and Internet is rapidly becoming the main mode of information dissemination in the world, mainly because its rapidity, and precisely because its versatility in giving you different point-of-views from various angles.  I don’t know about others, but I will maintain that any regulated effort to limit what you can say is synonymous with censorship, -and thus, a direct violation of the freedom of speech.  Take for instance, the article 5 of the Draft ( taken from an excellent translation by a team of legal professionals at HAKItree ), which states that:

“Organizer may not distribute, transmit, and/or make accessible Content that contains content that degrades the physical conditions and abilities, intellectual, service, skills, and physical aspects of physical and other non physical from another party.”

It is plain to see that this is a pathetic attempt of censorship.  Censorship is never all wrong.  In fact, I think it is necessary under a very special set of circumstances, where the material to be limited are of grievous criminal nature like child pornography, as an example.  However, most of available information of any other nature should be allowed to spread without borders for a very simple reason:  because knowledge should be accessible to all.  It is when some parties try to limit this latter group of information that things could go very wrong.  To go back to the stated example, if you read carefully, it mentioned that it is forbidden to disseminate any information “that contains content that degrades……. service….”.  This is problematic, because under this jurisdiction, a person would not be able to publicly write a complaint of any service he/she may have had in Indonesia.  It is still very fresh in our mind the recent case of Prita, a mother who was sued and found guilty for voicing out her disappointment over a health service of a hospital in Indonesia.  This Draft, if ratified, will legalize such attempt to silence any complaint about any service in Indonesia, however valid its nature is.

—-

Moving on to why the censorship embodied in this Draft is potentially disturbing for the rest of the world, followings are several hypothetical troubling scenarios. (Note the word “hypothetical”; by no means am I saying the the Indonesian government will necessarily act like this ).

First, terrorism.  Let’s face it, whether we like to admit it or not, Indonesia has its history of terrorism.  From the Bali Bombings until the Marriott Bombings, we certainly witnessed our land being the arena where the terrorists operates, -if not a direct base and hotbed of them.  If this Draft is passed, what other alternative sources will be available to the world about the local scene of terrorism, other than what’s being provided by the Indonesian government?  Terrorism, by nature, is almost always globally orchestrated, transcending the boundaries of nations.  How then will a responsible citizen offer any information of a suspicious activities of his/her neighbor when he/she is forbidden to state anything that may be classified as “untrue or not in accordance with facts relating to a tribe, religion, race, or class….?”  Will this be productive in the context of the global attempt to eradicate terrorism?  What if, -just for the sake of argument, Indonesia is governed by a regime who silently supports a fundamentalist group?  Will it not mean that the field will be wide open for disinformation by the government to protect the group, which by any other sane definition will be classified as dangerous terrorists?

Second, HIV/AIDS. Anybody who reads about HIV/AIDS issue will understand the crucial role the government plays to curb the spread of the disease.  Why do you think South Africa has such an alarming rate of the disease’s prevalence?  Indonesia, because of its sheer population, and the perpetual drug-related problems, has also seen its share of increase of HIV/AIDS infection in recent years.  Now, what will happen to a well-meaning NGO who regularly perform a life-saving effort by handing out condoms?  It’s easy to say that such institutions will feel the need to explain their motivations to do so because of the religious nature of the majority of Indonesians.  The easier way to do it is by writing out their reasons in their personal blog or websites.  The newest Draft will probably punish them for doing so because their content may be deemed and “categorized legally as Content violating decency.”  Who will determine what’s decent and what’s not?  It is not a secret that the local airs are rampant with the ignorant religious leaders and clergymen who still think that condoms means encouraging people to engage in free sex.  Also, in a country where there were plans to legalize the necessity of “HIV-free certificate” as a precondition to marriage, I find it doubtful that they really understand the management of an epidemy.  How will this help the efforts to slow down the spreading of this infectious disease?  And if Indonesians are rapidly becoming infected with HIV/AIDS, is it hard to imagine that they will have a much bigger chance to spread it to their fellow citizens of the world?

Third, corruption. Corruption remains a chronic problem in Indonesian society and culture.  It is of inherent nature in its collective consciousness.  How else would you explain the bribes you routinely give in small daily business like traffic violations or administrative matters like making your ID cards?  Again, where could you find the media’s function as a corruption watchdog, when a journalist’s article exposing corrupt government practices will prove to be a punishable offense, because it’s classified as a “content that degrades the abilities, intellectual, service…….. from another party”?  Rather easy to imagine, a corrupt Indonesian system will be troublesome to the global economic system.  It will prove to be a painful thorn on the world’s side.

—-

Those are just some of the worst implications of the Draft, should it get passed by the current government.  And let’s not even begin to venture into the area of moral arguments, where censorship is almost always wrong.  To me, the three stated reasons alone are enough to make me lose my sleep.  I can accept that the Minister may be well-meaning in drafting this regulation.  Yet as so often happened before in Indonesia, he did not do enough forward thinking to deliberate and ponder the consequences of what he’s about to legalize.  What he also fails to understand, is that the consequences may also have impacts to other nations.  Faced with such a blatant stupidity, I chose to stand and speak.  Will you?

—-

NOTE : Picture taken from here.

Testament of Gideon Mack

2 Jan

How do you even begin to define such a strange work? “Testament of Gideon Mack” is definitely not a usual pick for your bedtime reading, yet it reads peculiarly easy for a couple of sitting at the fireplace, if you will.  It has that fast, enchanting plot you would normally discover in a paperback thriller, but deals with such unusual subjects like faith, confusion, love, sex, and yes, -even apostasy.

The book is a novel disguised as a memoir of a priest that goes with the name of Gideon Mack, as the title faithfully suggests. James Robertson has intricately woven a tale of a man riddled with paradox : a priest who didn’t believe in God, engaged in extramarital sexual affair with his friend’s wife, and rolled marijuana joints for an old friend.  What was even more other-worldly is his alleged encounter with the Devil himself, which he met while he was missing in the belly of Scotland, -following his attempt to rescue a dog.

This encounter is the central theme of the book, acting as a powerful allegory for his whole life, and maybe as an attempt by the author to tackle the world in general.  For how best would you explain a world ridden with grievous problems like poverty, famine and diseases?  There’s no hypothesis that will serve this purpose better other than a tired God.  A God who planned something good for His creation, yet end up seeing not much use in it, grew exhausted, and abandoned them to fend off for themselves.  At this point, it is decidedly interesting that Robertson did not turn to atheism as an easy way out.  On the contrary, he insists that God (and the Devil) exists, if only to get disenchanted to continue whatever He has planned for mankind.

Of course, such a wild testimony by the character leads to many problems for him.  To begin with, his position as a priest is too rigid to afford him a gamble in dogmatical theology.  Even if you undress him of his frock, it still will not justify Gideon’s affair with Elsie Moffat, which was his own wife’s best friend and his best friend’s wife at the same time.  Of course, one could always argue that he’s just a man troubled by his own uneasiness about his faith and everything, but that’s beside the point.  The goal of this book, -or so it seems to me, is to get you questioning about life in itself, and why does it have to be this way.  Again, notice that Robertson never resorted to the easy premise that there is no God.  He insisted, through his character, that there is God, -and by extension, life after death.

Often morose, at times libidinous, “Testament of Gideon Mack” is a book where you will need to tread carefully; it serves as a companion while you were asking hard questions about life.  Yet, don’t let this discourage you, as Robertson is also a master storyteller.  The book definitely has a lot of entertainment value, even if you only look for exotic folklores and legends.  Don’t pass this one.

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