Tag Archives: Indonesia

Dede Koswara: “The Tree Man Of Java”

Last night I was flipping through the channels and stopped on “My Shocking Story“, a show on TLC. This episode was entitled “Half Man, Half Tree”, and detailed the strange, tragic case of an Indonesian man named Dede Koswara. I think when they first showed Dede on-screen, I may have literally yelled “Oh my God!”.I think you can see why:


Apparently, Dede cut his knee when he was 15, at which point he started developing warts, which spread rapidly, leading to the extreme barklike growths you see here . Living in a poor village in Indonesia, Dede was unable to receive treatment and as such the warts continued their growth unabated, resulting in the condition seen above. Frustrated with his inability to work due to the disease, his wife of ten years left him, leaving him to support his two children by performing in a traveling freakshow.


An American dermatologist from the University of Maryland named Anthony Gaspari visited Dede in conjuction with this program, and after performing a biopsy and testing the results back at the university concluded that Dede suffers from a rare condition called epidermodysplasia verruciformis. The disease, caused by HPV, leads to the growth of macules and papules on the skin, especially on the hands and feet.


What made Dede’s condition literally one-of-a-kind is the fact that he also suffers from an immune deficiency virus (Dr. Gaspari initially thought that Dede may have had AIDS, a hypothesis that was eventually disproven), that allows for the rampant spreading of warts that had overtaken his extremities. At the end of the program, Dr. Gaspari seemed hopeful that with regular doses of Vitamin A to help boost his immune system, the extent of Dede’s growths could be lessened to the extent that removal would be a viable option. However, for some reason it seemed that Dede was reluctant to proceed with treatments and surgery, and continued to perform in the freakshow to support his family.


I was fascinated and saddened by Dede’s story, and tried to find out what had happened to him after the show was filmed. Happily, it looks as though he decided to take up treatment, and after several surgeries and regular treatment, he has regained the use of his hands and feet. Though Dede will have to recieve treatment for the rest of his life and will never have a normal body, he can now feed himself and support his family, and no longer has to perform in the freakshow.


I certainly hope that this post doesn’t come off as exploitative or demeaning in any way. Having suffered from a rare skin condition myself (dermatomyositis), I greatly sympathize with the plight of people like Dede. I’m certainly not trying to compare what I had to what Dede has suffered….any problems or difficulties I may have had are infintismal in relation. I was lucky to have had an expert living nearby who could diagnose and treat me; I was lucky to have parents who paid for incredibly expensive medical treatments; I was lucky to live in a place where such treatments were even an option and I was lucky, throughout the duration, to be able to feed, dress and generally take care of myself. Dede has not been so lucky. I think what really affects me is that if I were in Dede’s enviroment, with his resources, I could have been disfigured for life, crippled or very likely dead. An abnormal medical condition is a very traumatic thing to deal with, something I’ve only been able to admit to myself gradually over time. I commend Dr. Gaspari for helping Dede out, and especially Dede himself, for battling through this condition and for not giving up.


related posts:

World War III


If you don’t want to read the whole article, it’s conservative wacko predicting that Israel will attack Iran between our autumn elections and the inauguration. This is all based on recent developments that indeed do seem to suggest something might go down soon (Israeli long-range test runs and recent comments by leaders). I have to admit, there is a strange part of me that is separated from it all that finds the whole thing exciting. A real, goshdarned war between 2 modern militaries! This sort of thing is very rare post-World War II. Most wars of the last 50 years have been waged by a modern military on one side and a very clever, determined but but less powerful (on paper) enemy on the other side. Examples are the current Iraq war, Vietnam War, Soviet/Afghani war.

Anyway, back when the 9/11 attacks occurred I wrote in a journal or something about how it could turn into World War III. Not that it will but just how it could happen. Well, I think it could possibly happen if Israel attacks Iran. It could EASILY happen if Iran were to attack Israel. Anyway, here’s a potential scenario.

Israel attacks Iran in a preemptively defensive act of aggression. Iran would definitely not stand for it and a war would commence. We would certainly enter to defend Israel and Britain would likely do so as well. It could stop there (and perhaps probably would). Contrary to public opinion, Iran is NOT an Arab nation (it’s Persian). It has a majority Shiite population and it’s decisions are unpopular. As a result, the Arab nations wouldn’t go nuts to help out but Syria probably would. So it’s Israel, US, UK vs Iran, Syria. If Iran could somehow turn the whole thing into a Muslim rallying point all hell could break loose. Even if the other Muslim nations don’t join in, rioting and civil strife could easily be instigated in most of these countries.

Basically, all that’s required is for Pakistan to get involved. If they could somehow be persuaded to act or join Iran, in spite of the fact that Pakistan is now our “friend”, a real can of worms is opened. Pakistan’s mortal enemy, India, would likely join on our side. Now neighboring Muslim countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia could answer the cry. Is Australia, part-time enemies of Indonesia, then induced to join our side?

China has been a long-time enemy of India’s engaging them in several border battles. Naturally, the Chinese also hate us. Do they sieze the opportunity to take the land that they believe is theirs? Are we then compelled to aid India? And does China take advantage of the chaos to invade Taiwan? Or finally pay back Japan for WWII?

And what does Russia do?! They act like they’re pals with China now but they’re traditionally enemies (even in the communist days). But they hate us much more.

Probably won’t happen.


Rare Javan Rhino

Normally, I leave the animal posts up to Scott and Natalie, but I came across this footage of the extremely rare Javan Rhinoceros (otherwise known as the Lesser One-horned Rhinoceros) on National Geographic’s website and had to post it. For whatever reason, Rhinos have always had a special place in my heart. Perhaps it’s the Ryan-Ryno nickname thing (lame I know), or perhaps it’s because Rhinos are simply awesome. Of course ones that are as cute as these are no exception. Sadly, there are only an estimated 50-60 of them remaining in the world, which makes them supposedly the rarest large mammal in the world.

While I have included the actual footage captured, check out the news video I linked above, particular around the 55 second mark. It’s rather cute how the rhinoceros seems to know it’s being recorded and perkily trots by the camera.