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October 27, 2010

Myanmar rebrands

Mong Palatino at Global Voices reports onMyanmar’s new flag and new name.

Here’s the old flag:

Myanmar's old flag

Here’s the new flag:

Myanmar's new flag

Hard not to agree with the anonymous comment that the new one looks like it was done with Microsoft Paint. And it’s very hard to know (especially from my safe vantage point far removed from Myanmar’s repressive regime) why they think the new one is better than the old one, although one of the comments cited at Global Voices points out that the old flag used the U.S. colors.

According to a Reuter’s article quoted by James Bow, “The order stipulated that the old flag had to be lowered by someone born on a Tuesday and the new flag had to be raised by someone born on a Wednesday, he said.” Ah, when astrolgers run countries.

Equally puzzling, at least to me, is the military junta’s decision to change the country’s name from Union of Myanmar to Republic of the Union of Myanmar in advance of the November 7 Parliamentary elections (which will keep the military in power). Why not just go whole hog and rename the place The Free Democratic Republic Union of Myanmar and Picayune-Times Express?

Except that Myanmar is no laughing matter.

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May 8, 2008

Open vs. closed disasters

I’ve taken the title of Sharon Richardson’s post at JoiningDots because it’s so apt. She writes:

What’s weird from an information and context perspective is how remote this disaster feels, compared to other events such as the Tsunami, Hurrican Katrina and Sept 11th. (A similar effect happend with the earthquake in Pakistan.) Is that because Burma is such a closed society, meaning there are very few first-hand on-the-spot-as-it-happens pictures and videos? Research has proven that people connect more when shown a specific story rather than massive (no matter how scary) statistics. The tsunami also occured in a region with strict controls. Perhaps having a tourist spot complete with Westerners and their camcorders helped.

Maybe a more evolved consciousness would be unaffected by the particular stories and the particular videos, for rationally we know that the disaster is a disaster whether or not there happens to be film at 11. Or maybe our atavistic reaction to personal stories is a necessary part of our being moral creatures … so long as we still make the donation even when, in the absence of stories, only pure reason moves us .

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May 7, 2008

Donate to Burma

Moveon.org is recommending that we donate to the International Burmese Monks Organization, which already has a network of local people in place. Moveon.org thinks that money donated to the monks via Avaaz.org is more likely to do good quickly there. Here’s a link.

We usually like to give to groups we’ve looked into pretty closely. But those groups — e.g., Oxfam — are frustrated that they are unable to help directly and quickly. So, for now we’re placing our philanthropic bet on Avaaz.

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