Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Rant of the Day 7-31-2013 - by K.M.Kaung

Rant of the Day --

Quote of the day - from a crazy psychiatrist much disliked by everyone at a social gathering in the USA - "What kind of Buddhist are you?  You eat meat!" 

Shortly thereafter this nut job left the group due to her own financial problems and no one missed her.

I didn't even have time to explain to her that The Buddha himself ate meat, and that he died either of eating truffles or a pork curry that went bad (according to a Pali lecturer whose name I have forgotten) but He did not wish to decline (merit) to the donor, and so he ate the spoiled food anyway even though he knew it would lead to His death, and that Buddhist villages like the one Melford Spiro studied, are often next door to Muslim villages.

So if 969 succeeds no one will eat beef or Indian danbauk or samosas??  And no appom (from Sri Lanka) or mon sein paung (string hoppers) and no bayakyaw etc?

I remember how in the U Nu days we needed to go to the Shan States to eat beef.

Go figure, when so much, including Buddhism, came to us from India.

The very concept of reincarnation is in fact Hindu, not Buddhist (Prince Siddartha was born a Hindu) and there are so many Buddhists including the nun next door perpetually talking about Hindu gods, such as Brahma, and Surasvati (Thurawadi Medaw) and so on and so one - Thagya Min (Sakkya) -

and the art and the temple designs etc.

And women who want children going and making offerings at the Hindu linga at the Hindu temples.

I don't understand this purist fundamentalism and small mindedness at all.

Like the otherwise I guess OK friend who was so shocked, my word shocked, because I walked into a replica of a Hindu temple at an Indian Festival in Edison, NJ.  (I regularly walk into churches too) - but I do draw the line at going to a witches' wicca meeting - My friends from the Christian Association went, and then said they could feel the evil and left.

(for those of you who don't know, the largest number Indian-Americans live in Edison)

or the recent FB "friend" and the insufferable little mission boy, who asked me on first meeting me "What's your religion?"

to confound them I said, "Buddhist-Christian" which is accurate enough, or I could have said atheist, or agnostic or "Believes in Big Bang Theory" and "monkeys are related to humans" -- but not "humans are descended from monkeys" --

I'm too tired to type any more.

And what about the Hindu Temple brought en bloc and installed in the Phila. Museum of Art, and the original Ishtar (Baghdad) Gates at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, or the Elgin Marbles, or the numbers of Khmer ancient statues I see all the time in rich people's houses profiled in books like Architectural Digest.

Maybe that is why the articles seldom mention the homeowners by name -

it is always "according the the husband" and "the wife says her favorite color is mauve"

Imagine - so rich and you have to hide. 

I would rather, as my cousin Mongoose says, "have an umbrella and hold my head up and walk all over New York City."

Though really, to walk around NY for a few days and stay in a nice safe boutique hotel on the Upper East Side, you would need to spend at least $2000.


Bradley Manning acquited of aiding the enemy but --

Monday, July 29, 2013

Spy netowrk still active in Burma

Why I write - by Dr.Maung Zarni - posted with permission -

I am home alone, with my 4-year old, whom I had just read to and cuddled as she fell asleep.

Aside from my values and worldview, what keeps me going as an activist is something quite simple, 'un-educated' and human.

A mix of outrage and compassion - neither just sheer anger nor plain compassion.

I routinely feel a mix of immense feelings each time I hold my little girl in my arms:
a parental love/bliss and an inexplicable pain knowing so many children live in fear- and risk-soaked lives.

Hundreds of thousands of children my daughters' ages, live with no warmth, comfort and care, thanks to state-induced abject poverty which force their parents away from home in search of meals, state-sponsored ethnic cleansing, racial violence, internal colonial wars of loots, nationalist delusions and greed of the Tamadaw leaders.

It's not good enough for me that my children have comfortable beds and a warm and loving home while others starve, get molested, raped, abducted, killed, maimed, sold into modern slavery or indentured labour.

I don't think I can change how I feel about this unjust and sick world.

That's what keeps me going in my activism. I'll die angry and compassionate.
Like ·  · Share · Promote · 12 minutes ago · 
From Dr. Maung Zarni's Facebook page .

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kachin activist Daw Bawk Jar arrested in Burma -

Well known Kachin activist Daw Bawk Jar arrested in Burma -
again, what reform??

From Legal email -

Human rights defender Bawk Jar arrested

Bawk Jar on a study trip in Serbia earlier this month. Photo: Brittis Edman, Civil RIghts Defenders

On 18 July 2013, police arrested Bawk Jar Lum Nyoi, a renowned Burmese human rights defender. The police had no court order and did not explain the reason for the arrest, according to reports. It is not clear if she is charged. The trial starts on 31 July.

What is clear, however, is that her arrest appears to be linked to her peaceful activism and sows fear among the country’s human rights defenders. Local rights groups have deemed the arrest illegal and demand her immediate and unconditional release.

Bawk Jar was one of ten Burmese human rights defenders, mostly lawyers, who took part in a two-week study trip with Civil Rights Defenders in Serbia earlier this month. The group met with Serbian peers, who shared their experience of legal aid and legal advocacy as means to strengthen the respect for human rights.

Bawk Jar is a human rights activist in Kachin State who has been advocating for environmental protection, women’s and farmers’ rights particularly in Kachin state, but also nationwide. At great personal risk, she has been at the forefront of campaigning, including through the courts, to halt large-scale logging and plantations that cause alarming environmental degradation and forced evictions of farmers from their lands. Bawk Jar is known for her activism of women’s right too. She was among three leading civil society representatives to be invited and received by former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in 2012.
Similar arrests and intimidations against activists and human rights defenders in Burma are becoming an all too common occurrence, even after the declaration of political reform. It is indicative that Burma has a long way ahead to start a genuine democratic transition and international pressure for better protection of those who fight for human rights remains key.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Corpse flower blooms in DC - a poem by ko ko thett

Corpse Flower Blooms in Washington 

What an ill omen!
What a good omen!
This voodoo lily blooms
When the Bodhisattva is awakened!
When the end is nigh!
When the seed is sown!  
When the coast is clear!
To sponge with it!
Her stench takes you to fetid human flesh in Syria.
That will take you to the summer roadkill in Lapland.
That will take you to putrefied fish pickle in the Delta.
That will take you to places between his toes.
Floriculturists call her Deformed Dick.
She calls herself Cassandra.
ko ko thett
posted with permission of the poet.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Kindle & Print editions of K.M.Kaung's novella Black Rice -

What do you do if you are black skinned in Burma?

Pretty be damned -

I tried to upload a pdf of ko ko thett's review of my novella Black Rice as it appeared in M Times - but both times FB rejected as "There is a problem with the image - bad image."

Very funny - M. Times editor had also added as a caption - "Black Rice is sure to provide some delightful images of M."

Sure, delightful dead people.

Not ko ko thett, but the M Times is an e.g. of "sweep it all clean" Burmese writing, "make it all sweet and pretty"

and while we are at it, though the original Life of Pi had detailed descriptions of the mess and smells in the lifeboat after Richard Parker, the tiger, has killed and eaten 3 big animals - technically, the zebra broke its leg in the fall, and was killed and eaten by the hyena, and the orang utan was killed (had its head bitten off) by the tiger, who ate everything -- the movie had a specklessly clean boat.

No way!!

It is like the media never having once shown us the body parts strewn all over the streets after the planes hit the World Trade Towers on 9/11/2001, though taxi drivers etc first on the scene vividly described the carnage.

I thought one of the best moments in Yann Martel's novel was when he described how scared he was on seeing the stump of the dead orang utan's head.

So - my conclusion is despite Little Girl's critique, "Aunty, your writing is always full of dead people," I will continue to write with scenes full of dead bodies, which after all were described to me by friends of friends who saw those things themselves.

Pretty be damned.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Burmese super rich buying real estate in London - original piece by Bangkok The Nation's correspondent -

A review by Anonymous of K.M.Kaung's novella Black Rice

Dear Dr Kyi,
I was deeply affected by your powerful essay 'Black Rice' which is beautifully written and extremely effective in evoking the tragedy which has overwhelmed Burma in all the years since independence. In fifty short pages it is all there - the tragedy and the waste and the pity of it all.

I was born in a recently independent Rangoon (30 April 1948) in a state which which was known as the 14-mile government because the Karens were pressing so hard on Rangoon's back door. My mother had to take her own mattress into the Dufferin Hospital when she gave birth to me! So the arrangemnents you evoke in 'Black Rice' are very  accurate.

What particularly affects me is that the story is built at the very physical level - and the emotions generated are experienced through the body. It is almost as though one is hearing the sounds amplified through blindfolds - the same blindfold that the non-Burman protagonist is forced to wear when his naval vessel is ambushed and he falls into the hands of the Karen rebels. He hears and feels through his feet the execution of his friend. This is what I would call the 'the brillig and slithy tove' style of writing pace Lewis Carroll. It is very visceral and only to be experienced through the body. Every day this story comes back to me in my memory and imagination. It works like a depth charge deep within one's being - very powerful and very true. A remarkable achievement.

Well done! Chapeau - as the French would say!

Again sorry to be so long in writing back but I didn't want to send something too quickly as I needed it to mature.

A review by Ko Ko Thett of Black Rice, a novella, by K.M.Kaung

Ko Ko Thett's review of K.M. Kaung's novella Black Rice - this review was published on Monday in Myanmar Times -

Black Rice, 45 pages
Kyi May Kaung
Words Sounds and Images (2013)

Black Rice by Kyi May Kaung, first published in the spring 2007 issue of Northern Virginia Review, has been released in print and e-book formats. It is a meticulously crafted bite-size delight - bite-size because you wouldn’t even know how it dissolves on your literary palate until you come to realize you have savoured it in one sitting, wanting for more.
    Set in the 1940s and 1950s in colonial and decolonizing Burma, the nascent state almost ripped apart by a war of all against all between the government forces, the communists and the ethnic Karen rebels, Black Rice is the story of a black-skinned boy, who describes himself as ‘the black mascot in their white-skinned family.’
    Black Rice was adopted and doted on by a food-binging mother, a survivor of multiple miscarriages, and firmed up by a whimsical and booze-binging father. ‘It was as if she blamed him for his blood, which did not agree with hers … It’s good I had those miscarriages. They might have grown up to be drunkards like you.’ Black Rice’s mother laments. Black Rice fled from home at sixteen, after convincing his best friend to tag along with him. They joined the army, whose task was to annihilate the communist and ‘multicoloured’ ethnic insurgents. Their lives and fates seemed set on the same course until the boys ended up prisoners of war in the hands of Karen rebels.
    In the quaint lyricism of the protagonist, the author manages to unpack many of the Burmese cultural idiosyncrasies in a most efficient way – Black Rice’s insider’s observations of his own family, his society and the war he fought were first-hand and vivid. The reader is bound to relish layer after layer of Burmese obsessions with astrology, amulets and the skin colour, a Burmese mother’s ritual to cope with her miscarriages, the Burmese women’s soft power over their husbands, the Burmese men’s thoughtless manners, the brutality of the Burmese armed forces and rebel groups alike, and their food and eating culture (from naan bread to fried water convolvulus).
    To avoid repeating unpronounceable words and to improve a sense of wonder, Kyi May Kaung has calqued some Burmese names to great effect. General Ne Win, the source of Burma’s military dictatorship, becomes General Bright Sun and Daw Hla, Black Rice’s mother, becomes Pretty Lady who actually suffers from consumption, a disease often associated with Victorian novels. While many of the social, cultural and political issues remain eerily relevant in the transitional Myanmar today many others, the kind of fun and play the protagonist and his best friend had as Burmese children cracking the almonds, may be felt as nostalgia. 
    When we read the disclaimer in the opening of a book, ‘This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogue are drawn from the author’s imagination and not to be construed as real...’, don’t we almost always expect a true story? Black Rice could as well be a true story or a combination of many a true story common to Burmese life. True story or not, Black Rice is a novella of what Salman Rushdie calls human truth, as opposed to ‘photographic, journalistic, recorded truth’ but ‘the truth we recognize as human beings…our strengths, weaknesses, how we interact.’ I hope she extends the novella into a novel someday.  

ko ko thett – July 2013

Electronic salon -

Electronic Salon -

Here are some of the topics in my real time, real place salon - 

Dr. Kaung’s Salon from Oct 2005-Sept 2009– some highlights: 

Burma and Haiti:  Dictators, Disasters and International Aid, Silver Spring, MD.  4-9-2010

Wizard of the Crow, by Ngugi Thiong’o, A Survey of Books on Cambodia, Pakistan and Benazir Bhutto. Monologue as a hysterectomy victim.  Book discussion -- Beasts of No Nation, by Uzodinma Iweala.  Robin Hood Ballads by Dr. Stephen Winick, Discussion of Nobel prize winning writer Orhan Pamuk, James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, book launches by Meena Nayak, artist Lila Snow, journalist Melissa Robinson, architect Werner Krebs on stage design, Eniko Basa on The 1956 Hungarian Revolution, dancers Martha Wittman and Elizabeth Johnson choreographing immigrant stories, Elizabeth Null folk sing, Christmas Carol Sing, Bijan C. Bayne and Tomiko Anders on “Who am I?” Dancer Gretchen Dunn performing placeDISplace.

Now that is wound down and I am glad my electronic salons have replaced the real time one.


Monday, July 15, 2013

I had trouble with some racist women on my Facebook page today

but it is under control.  I blocked them all.  But one should not underestimate them.  They are evil.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Quote of the day - from Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky -

Quote of the day - because we all need nonsense sometimes -

Lewis Carroll
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.'

NPR interview of the weasel monk Wirathu - the racist -

I received a new review for my novella Black Rice -

Happy happy joy joy -

Just got another very positive review of my novella Black Rice, from someone who was born in Dufferin Hospital during the time frame described in the story. 

You can't get more authentic than that.  He told me the U Nu government was called the 14 mile government as it seemed it would fall to the Karen any day.

He said it falls into the category of "twas brillig and the slithy toves" style of Lewis Carrol writing (Mathematician, Oxford don, author of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass) -

so - I can die happy now -  psst to all the detractors who nit pick.

Kyi May Kaung - also posted on my Facebook page -

Black Rice - A Novella - by K.M.Kaung - available on

Burma - self evident to all but the self delusional -

Self evident except to self delusional fools - 
from Dr Maung Zarni's Facebook -
You think Myanmar is democratizing because the generals now hold elections and sit in the parliament like monkeys in silk skirts.

But do you know that 1 in 3 human beings on earth live under some form of authoritarian/dictatorial regime, despite that only 5 countries did NOT hold elections in the past 15-20 years?

Forms never crystalise into essence or practice.

For those who think the military junta is preferable to the messy democratic politics, they are not really looking, seeing or understanding Burma in transition.

Here is essentially the skeleton of the regime's strategy.

it is the same junta who has learned to 1) act smarter with business interests, 2) exploit the West's desperation, 3) address own fear of China, 4) coopt and/or courrpt the dissident elites by dangling the carrot of 2015 elections, 5) stoke ethno-religious prejudices of the majority against the weakest in society with no real support from any foreign power, 6) outsource Rohingya genocide and anti-Muslim mass violence, 7) tarnish any future threats from the Buddhist Sangha, seduce and use western educated Burmese technocrat elite with no strong ideological (pro-people) core, 9) facilitate the Lady's morphing into a world class hypocrite,10) offer the armed resistance elites business and 'development' prospects, throw 'donors's crumbs' at foreign consultants in development-peace-INGO industry, and 11) finally frame every problem as part and parcel of democratization.

Naypyidaw is able to do all this, apparently, while maintaining a very firm grip on most strategic domains of the State and power: the propaganda (media), the armed gangs mistakenly referred to as the Army, the business sector, the opposition politics, international relations, the finances, the resource sector, all State institutions of any importance, the Intelligence services, the religion!

The timing and the setting for Naypyidaw to pursue this multi-pronged and multi-faceted strategy is perfect. The West is too desperate, too greed-driven, and too arrogantly ignorant.

All this sounds like one big Naypyidaw conspiracy. And it is. All powers conspire.

Ask the United States Presidents and NSA.

Dr Maung Zarni - 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

In search of mouth-watering mayan thee (marianne) salad

shared အမွန္တကယ္ စားသံုးသူ's photo.
Like · · Promote ·

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Kyi May Kaung's dissertation oral defense in 1993 -

My Pol. Sci. dissertation chair had earlier said, "It will be a bestseller."

Burma expert Prof. Josef Silverstein came to my orals and I took him on the D bus and treated him to lunch at the Burmese restaurant.

My dissertation in its entirety can be found on line at Penn Commons.

I proved based on a theory that I formulated myself and various country experiences, that central control and planning do not work.

The countries I looked at included Burma, the then Soviet Union, Paraguay (dictatorship), Zaire (former Belgium Congo), the People's Republic of China, India under its five year plans.

I will relate more about my subject areas, comprehensive exams. etc later.

Kyi May Kaung

La Cirque du Soleil - Ka - the complete version -

sad for the athlete who died - fell while being hauled up for the last scene -

sad condolences -


Monday, July 01, 2013

Cirque du Soleil love duet from Ka

Sitttwe in Arakan, Burma - a year after - from Irrawaddy -

A year after sectarian violence tore through Burma, the fury of religious pogroms has hardened into an officially sanctioned sectarian divide, a foray into apartheid-style policies that has turned Aung Mingalar into a prison for Sittwe’s Muslims and that threatens this country’s fragile transition to democracy.

from The Irrawaddy 7-1-2013

Soak the (dried) cod - a message to my Facebook fans and friends -

Dear Facebook fans and friends,

I am going to be "sailing between Taiwan and Japan on an oil tanker" just joking, half-joking -- in other words working on my creative writing, fiction and fiction research and the business side of things.

I also have to look after the care and feeding of myself as a Writer.

I am pretty disappointed that you guys did not buy enough of my novella Black Rice - tsk tsk tsk - but I sincerely thank my true true friends who did and all those who wrote reviews on the Amazon site.

I am so happy everyone liked it and I got reviews of 4 1/2 out of 5 stars - that makes me feel soo good - but now I have to get back to my day job -

I have to clear the paper off my floor so I can see more floor, throw away old magazines and generally make things more presentable when my "Rellies" visit - you know they are a tribe from outer space - and they need space to walk and sit.

So ciao for now (CFN) and I will see you before not too long - but mostly I will send tweets which are faster -

I hate "dead" sites, so I will post something daily, but not a dozen or more items as I have been doing -

my time has become too scarce.

Thank your for understanding - if you get bored - you can read any of the books I recommend here or see some of "my" movies - believe me, they are Incredible -

like Babette's Feast - I love the two old ladies telling the French chef - "soak (the dried) cod" -- ha ha ha.

So soak the dried cod and I will go catch the quail to make you a feast.

Copyright Kyi May Kaung

My archive at IISH, Amsterdam--