Thursday, January 30, 2014

From my friend Kanlaon--

From my friend Kanlaon who stayed with blogging and Twitter and never stepped to FB--Still very funny-esp. see here where the Man and she went to eat a steak dinner, plus many quotes of good writing and a solo trip to Dharamsala.

I consider myself an intrepid traveler, but have not yet schlepped to Dharamsala solo to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

And she takes photos and has the most funny insights.

Only blog I look at reg

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My novella Black Rice --

  1. My novella Black Rice --

    Want to thank you all in the Year of the Horse--Everyone who bought my novella.

    Royalty checks arrive regularly and help pay my coffee bills.

    If you haven't read it yet, you can buy it here, a print copy or an ebook at Kindle.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Some of my collages from 2009--

My father's favorite lines--

My father's favorite lines-

Is it so small a thing   
To have enjoy'd the sun,   
To have lived light in the spring,   
To have loved, to have thought, to have done;   
To have advanced true friends, and beat down baffling foes--     

How Charles Darwin decided to marry -- from Wikipedia

How Charles Darwin decided to marry--from wiki link below--A must read "less money for books & a terrible waste of time--"  "better than a dog, anyhow." arwin
accessed 1-21-2014

"William Whewell pushed Darwin to take on the duties of Secretary of the Geological Society. After initially declining the work, he accepted the post in March 1838.[73] Despite the grind of writing and editing the Beagle reports, Darwin made remarkable progress on transmutation, taking every opportunity to question expert naturalists and, unconventionally, people with practical experience such as farmers and pigeon fanciers.[6][74] Over time his research drew on information from his relatives and children, the family butler, neighbours, colonists and former shipmates.[75] He included mankind in his speculations from the outset, and on seeing an orangutan in the zoo on 28 March 1838 noted its childlike behaviour.[76]
Three quarter length portrait of woman aged about 30, with dark hair in centre parting straight on top, then falling in curls on each side. She smiles pleasantly and is wearing an open necked blouse with a large shawl pulled over her arms
Darwin chose to marry his cousin, Emma Wedgwood.

The strain took a toll, and by June he was being laid up for days on end with stomach problems, headaches and heart symptoms. For the rest of his life, he was repeatedly incapacitated with episodes of stomach pains, vomiting, severe boils, palpitations, trembling and other symptoms, particularly during times of stress such as attending meetings or making social visits. The cause of Darwin's illness remained unknown, and attempts at treatment had little success.[77]

On 23 June he took a break and went "geologising" in Scotland. He visited Glen Roy in glorious weather to see the parallel "roads" cut into the hillsides at three heights. He later published his view that these were marine raised beaches, but then had to accept that they were shorelines of a proglacial lake.[78]

Fully recuperated, he returned to Shrewsbury in July. Used to jotting down daily notes on animal breeding, he scrawled rambling thoughts about career and prospects on two scraps of paper, one with columns headed "Marry" and "Not Marry". Advantages included "constant companion and a friend in old age ... better than a dog anyhow", against points such as "less money for books" and "terrible loss of time."[79] Having decided in favour, he discussed it with his father, then went to visit Emma on 29 July. He did not get around to proposing, but against his father's advice he mentioned his ideas on transmutation.[80]"  wikipedia

That's how I decided too, by making two columns.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

"Ya, ya, It's not you!" by Kyi May Kaung

Since John Gardner sounded out so vigorously on what he liked and disliked, I think I will too.

I dislike the politically correct or non-profit view of the world, if it starts to encroach on fiction novels.

A lot of seemingly well-educated people live on jargon, cliches, and key words, canned ideas, preset views and limited imaginations.

Like my classmates in an advanced novel writing course, who all jumped on me as a dog torturer, because I brought in the first page of Mark Bojanowski's award-winning The Dog Fighter, as an example of a great opening.

It begins with the sentence, "In Mexico I fought dogs."

I tried it as the opening of my novella The Lovers, "In Chile I was a ballet dancer."  The Lovers was published in Wild River Review on line, with a photo of a woman in black fishnet stockings, dancing, provided by the editor's son.  Some women asked me if I'd seen the photo.  I did not find it shocking.  After all the story is about a stripper and the photo only showed the dancer's stockinged legs.

Some readers think everything I write is about me.

When I say it is not, they don't believe me.

"Ya ya, it isn't you."

I don't know how I could be the male hero of Wolf, who is so athletic he flexes his arms and tries to see if he can wiggle between the top bars of a skylight and jump 20 feet to the ground should the MI raid the house.

I've never been an aging lion, in love with a pregnant human princess in my short story Beast, published in the Northern Virginia Review.

I've never been, not that I know of, either the Black Prince Narasuan in the 16th century, nor The Rider of Crocodiles in 1776, when Ayuthia fell to the Burmese for the last and final time.  Needless to say, I have never ridden a horse, and elephant nor a crocodile.

I've never been the Asian young man murdered by a menage a trois of three high- powered gay men in one of the most chic neighborhoods of the nation's capital.

I've never been an Armenian-American photo-journalist who leaves her Burmese boyfriend to become a bikkhuni or female monk in Sri Lanka.

I've never been a female monkey, Shee Monkey, cloud walking with Kuan Yin, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy.

Fiction is written out of empathy, not fact.

"But who is it really?  Is it your story or a friend's?"

They don't believe me when I say the only true things in Home is Where? are the mango pickles and the pickle recipe, which you could make from the short story, if you wanted to.  In science, it must be possible to replicate and experiment.  If you can't, then the mouse's hair might have been dyed, and once was.  The sedge in the hey day of botany was made up.  When I sold orchids on commission at the Philadelphia flower show, at the end of the day, the vendors pulled a florist's spray of green cymbidiums still in it's glass capsule, out of the pot (color unknown) on display.

A novelist is someone trying to bullshit you to forget reality.  I guess I must be a good writer if most readers think all the fiction I write is true.

It's only emotionally true, as the actors and actresses say in interviews on TV.

One childhood friend thought I was really born into an open pit latrine in Once, one of my autobiographical novels (as yet unpublished).

Sometimes my own fiction intrudes as a false memory, as when I thought I remembered myself pregnant and having morning sickness at dinner time, and throwing up in the open drain outside.

But it wasn't me.  It was the cook who had TB, and spat a blob of foamy pink spittle in the drain, and we had to let her go, and my husband helped put her in a clinic and paid her medical bills.

Sometimes minor characters "take over" and decide they will be major, and just don't leave, as happened with Thuzar in Wolf.

Sometimes, a fictional scene or event comes to me, as I am looking at a real place.

I went to the Maryland shore this summer, and as I was looking at the stone pier, I was sure in my story a child would be bashed to death there and the corpse hidden under the stones.  This idea, I know definitely where it came from. 

I was re-reading Nay Lin's superb Cemetery of the Living Dead, in order to get a quote to try and interest some literary agents in translations of Burmese prison novels, and Nay Lin describes a father-son team of murderers who bashed the neighbor's child to death.  Of course, I won't and can't use Nay Lin's story.

I "know" from something someone told me more than two decades ago, that the dead child's grandmother swam from Red China to Hong Kong while it was still a British colony.  I know the murder I am going to write about happened on the Chesapeake.

Some stories percolate or agitate or coagulate in my consciousness over very long periods of time.

I "work on them" that is, think about these stories while I am in my home, doing housework or whatever.

Some stories were almost told to me, en bloc, by visitors or strangers who told them to me to write them down, like 53 Red Roses (also in the Northern VA Review) -- Some I made up-- as for instance Band of Flesh (published in The Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday Magazine) about a conjoined twin who hacks herself free.

I got the idea for it when I read an account of Terry Waite chained to a fellow hostage he came to dislike for months.

On reader thought from this I must be interested in Siamese twins, and urged me to go see the twins preserved in formaldehyde at the Twins Museum in Philadelphia, but I am frightened of such things, and can't get the images out of my head, so I did not go.

So please don't ask me the silly question, "Is that you?"

Fiction writers write to understand and escape reality, so why make it real?

Most writers are traumatized and unhappy.

At least I am.

Copyright Kyi May Kaung 
See some of stories referred to online or on my website

Re-reading John Gardner--On Becoming a Novelist-

On re-reading John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist.

This is my all time favorite 150 page book.  John Gardner never fails to say something insightful and the book is full of real zingers:

"Only a talent that does not exist can't be improved."

".  .  . the Christian Pollyanna mask--why the mask turns up more often in writing than in .  .  . speaking .  .  . I cannot say, unless it has to do with how writing is taught in our early years, as a form of good manners  .  .  .  the Pollyanna mask, if it cannot be torn off, will spell ruin for the novelist.  .  .  .  they lose the power to see accurately, and they lose the power to communicate with any but those who see and feel in the same benevolently distorted way.  .  .  .  No one with a distorted view of reality can write good novels, because as we read we compare fictional worlds against the real world."  p. 12
.  .  .
.  .  .  Pollyanna and disPollyanna work in the same ways, leading him to miss and simplify experience and cutting him off from all but fellow believers.  Marxist language can have the same effect, or the argot of the ashram, or computer talk .  .  .  or the weary metaphors of the business and law world."  p.  14.

Amazon breakthrough novel award--2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

Full text Dr. Kaung's 2001 article in Irrawaddy-sanctions and Burma -

Ms Ma Thanegi's Rules of Good Political Etiquette
By DR KYI MAY KAUNG Friday, November 23, 2001

November 23, 2001—On October 29 Ms Ma Thanegi, former trusted companion of Burmese democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and now one of Suu Kyi's most vocal critics, came to Washington DC to participate in a panel discussion at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She was scheduled to speak on what she said were her own views of Burma. Many dissidents inside and outside Burma consider Ma Thanegi to be a spokesman for the regime. At the presentation, however, she was introduced, by moderator Dr. G John Ikenberry, as a close associate of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and that Ms Ma Thanegi had been imprisoned because of her closeness to Suu Kyi. Ma Thitsa, a former political prisoner who was detained in Insein prison and is now a student in Boston, said that when she was in prison during 1990-91, she and Ma Thanegi were held in the same building. Ma Thanegi, she said, was actually incarcerated for having been Suu Kyi's personal assistant. However, according to Ma Thitsa, due to the strict rules of Insein prison and the fact that Ma Thanegi was given a cell all to herself, whereas the other political prisoners were forced to share cells, the two were never able to discuss politics. While introducing Ma Thanegi, John Ikenberry said that she had evolved her own ideas after being released; to the dissident community, this translates as "selling out" to the military regime in Burma. One dissident noted that it was ironic that even a critic of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi sought to legitimate herself to the international community by establishing her former close association with the democracy leader. Jeremy Woodrum, Director of the Free Burma Coalition, was among those demonstrating outside the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace while Ma Thanegi spoke inside. Woodrum told Radio Free Asia's (RFA) Sein Kyaw Hlaing in a broadcast interview that David Steinberg of Georgetown University helped arrange Ma Thanegi's visit through the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. He added that she is a contributing editor to the Myanmar Times, an English-language paper widely believed to have connections with the regime. During the small reception prior to the beginning of the panel, I had a chance to talk to Ma Thanegi briefly. She is a small woman with black hair stylishly cut short and flipped upwards away from her face. She has smooth brown skin and a pixie face with an outjutting jaw that seemingly never cracks a smile. It was easy to spot her among the milling guests. She was wearing a black blouse that looked hand-tailored in Rangoon, a red longyi and matching bright red lipstick. She told me that she had gone to Methodist English High School in Rangoon at the same time that I was there and mentioned the name of a relative of hers that I could not recall. She also said that she knew some of my extended family still living in Burma. I noticed that several important people in the Burmese democracy movement and the international donor community attended the event and Voice of America (VOA) and RFA reporters were in attendance. As Ma Thanegi was the featured speaker she spoke first on her topic, which had been announced ahead of time: The Culture Clash and Political Breakdown: Relations between the United States and Myanmar. The title is dense and almost incomprehensible and later on I found out I wasn't the only one who didn't understand this title. Brian Joseph, another speaker on the panel, also said he did not understand the meaning of her topic. The main points she made were as follows: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of Bogyoke Aung San, the leader of Burma's pre-war Independence movement and the founding father of the nation, and because of this association she received an elitist education overseas. Ma Thanegi said Suu Kyi is naturally idealistic in her beliefs and that because the international press has continually reported on her and subsequently pushed her into a corner that she has become even more idealistic than before. Ma Thanegi also added that the international press has taken a liking to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi because she is "so beautiful and charming". In regards to the timing of the reconciliation process and the transition to democracy in Burma, Ma Thanegi advocated patience. She said that there is no reason to get frustrated about the process "as it depends on the two sides and should be secret". On the issue of sanctions she mounted quite an emotional argument compared to the beginning of her presentation where she spent a great deal of time talking about her interpretation of Burmese culture. She accused United States foreign policy of "economic terrorism". She then referred to US Senate Bill 926 and speculated that it could cause "100,000 women and children" to lose their jobs. However in an interview with RFA’s U Sein Kyaw Hlaing that was broadcast the next day, the figure became "200,000 to 300,000". In response to questioning from RFA about this difference, she said that she got the numbers from "some garment industry association". During the evening’s question and answer session she returned to this "women and children" point, which seemed to be an attempt to appeal to the audience’s softside. By then it must have been obvious to her that her talk had not received a good reception from the forty to fifty people who attended, all of whom had been required to pre-register. After Ma Thanegi's talk there was complete silence in the room, with no one making a move towards even a semblance of polite applause. After a few seconds of obvious surprise, she seemed to regain her composure and the moderator introduced the next speaker. Ma Thanegi spent about 30 % of her panel time lecturing the audience on "Burmese culture," that is, on Ms. Ma Thanegi's view of Burmese culture, which incidentally coincides with the junta's view. According to Win Min, an activist in exile, this frustrated and annoyed the audience. Right at the beginning of her talk she announced her political affiliation and sympathies none too subtly by announcing that she used the term Myanmar and not Burma which she said was the term used by the English (colonialists). The Burmese dissident community who refuses to recognize the use of Myanmar sees this to be evidence of her support for the military regime. Ma Thanegi said Burmese politics is an internal affair and foreigners should not get involved in it. On the whole she spoke calmly but at times she stuttered a bit as she tried to formulate what she was trying to say and to buy time after some of the audience’s questions, which on the whole were very confrontational and aggressive. She came across, at least to me, as a careful and polished but rather opaque speaker, who goes back to the Burmese military line every time she is in a bind. At times she sounded like an old record running along in the old groove of the Burmese military's mindset. Some of her statements contradicted each other. For example in her emotional pitch using "the women and children will lose their jobs" rhetoric, at first she said that 100,000 will lose their jobs and "it's so unfair, it's so cruel." She then later said in response to a question that S926 would "make no difference to how the government acts." This seemed more like bluffing and saving face than anything else. I had a chance to talk to some democracy advocates in private and some of them felt that the junta must be in quite a crisis to be sending advocates to America in a public relations campaign. In September of this year Dr.Win Naing, based in Japan, gave a speech at Human Rights Watch in Washington DC. A DC-based analyst told me that "as Win Naing had not done his homework, and was not well prepared, his presentation more or less flopped". Analysts feel that Ma Thanegi was sent on this tour because of that recent failure. Win Min, who heard Dr Win Naing’s speech, said that although Ma Thanegi was better prepared she still was not adequately prepared to handle the tough questions from democracy activists and former political prisoners. In a recent interview with the Myanmar Times Lt Gen Khin Nyunt pleaded for withdrawal of sanctions. Myanmar Times also ran interviews with local businessmen on the possible impact of S926. The Myanmar Chamber of Commerce also sent pleas to President George W. Bush. The junta seems desperate to prevent S926 from being passed and Ma Thanegi's trip looks like it is part of an orchestrated lobbying strategy by the junta. The other two speakers on the panel were Brian Joseph, of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Burmese analyst David Steinberg of Georgetown University who helped organize the event. Brian Joseph's speech was a strong and clearly in favor of democratic change in Burma. He stressed the point made by Aung Din and Free Burma Coalition members that if the release of political prisoners were to continue at this rate, it would take a decade for all 2000 political prisoners to be released. David Steinberg, the evening’s third speaker, did not take a clear side in the debate, something he is known for, but he appeared more supportive of the democratic majority in the room than he has been in the past. One well- known academic said in private that Steinberg has "fire on one shoulder and water on the other" a famous Burmese saying. Others feel that Steinberg remains neutral in hopes of eventually becoming the US Ambassador in Myanmar. Steinberg did agree with one comment from Ma Thanegi's Far Eastern Economic Review article about sanctions. He said that it is quite naive to think that economic assistance alone would automatically lead to political changes. He cited examples of East Asian authoritarianism and suggested a well-rounded approach for Burma. Some young activists, however, expressed to me in private that "on the panel there were two people for the junta and only one (Mr. Joseph) speaking for a speedy transition to democracy". One senior Burma watcher observed that the seminar organizers had carefully calculated even the selection of Mr. Joseph as a panelist. He said, Mr. Joseph is a strong supporter of democracy in Burma but he has on occasion publicly criticized the democracy movement. I asked Ma Thanegi who she spoke for when she made sweeping comments such as "the Burmese people are conservative, Burmese parents hate MTV, and ahnarde is a problem in Burma." (Ahnarde is feeling bad or embarrassed to say or do something, something said to be a problem in Burmese culture). I also asked how Ma Thanegi could be absolutely sure that economic sanctions alone and not the years of mismanagement and misguided policies of the military government caused the unemployment numbers that she gave. She said simply that she knew because she was a writer and had been all over the country. During her talk Ma Thanegi had many prescriptions as to how people should talk and act in this normative "Burmese culture" that she was condoning. This portion of her presentation amounted almost to a harangue and judging by the title she gave to her talk and the amount of time she devoted to this, it seems this "culture clash" was her over-riding argument and theme. One of the elected Members of Parliament commented later that if culture and the ahrnade concept were of such importance as Ma Thanegi made them out to be, then democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Daw Aung San Suu Kyi would have titled her book "Freedom From Ahnarde" rather than "Freedom From Fear." I also asked Ma Thanegi about the patience issue as she had said she was willing to wait for the outcome of the secret talks between the National League for Democracy and junta. I said for people like her and myself, living in the relative comfort of middle class neighborhoods in Burma and the United States, perhaps we could afford to wait; but what about student leader Min Ko Naing who had already served his sentence and was in poor emotional and physical health because of being incarcerated. When I got carried away and said, "I'm asking you a rhetorical question, you need not answer it." I heard a ripple of cynical laughter behind me in the room. A co-worker who is a close friend of Min Ko Naing told me later it was very difficult to keep a cool head and not be emotional when confronting Ma Thanegi. "As I was asking her a question, I began to feel as if I were talking to a Burmese general," the man said. Former political prisoner Ko Aung Din, of FBC and Association for Assistance for Political Prisoners in Burma (AAPPB) asked two questions of Ma Thanegi and one of David Steinberg. The first question was if she was aware of the number of political prisoners in Burma. Also as she spoke of "economic terrorism" was she aware that the Burmese government in fact sponsored terrorism under which she and he had all lived. "Then why," he asked, "do you say that sanctions are the culprit in all this." As Steinberg in his talk spoke of the military government donating to the pagodas, which was a method used by the Burmese kings, Aung Din asked him if he knew how the junta was pressuring the monks including Kya-Khat Waing Sayadaw. He also asked Ma Thanegi if, as she had special contact and access to Gen. Khin Nyunt and had interviewed him once for Myanmar Times, she would go back and ask him to do what the democratic opposition and dissident groups are asking. Ko Aung Din asked her, "Why not ask Khin Nyunt to follow these directions if you are really sorry for the women and children of Burma." He then went on to talk about S926 and its conditions that state the release of all political prisoners, un-reversible and positive results from dialog for reconciliation and more aggressive participation in anti-narcotic efforts. If these conditions are fulfilled the President of the United States can ask Congress to withdraw this Bill. Aung Din said these conditions come originally from the people of Burma and so if she, Ma Thanegi, "has such good connections then she does not need to come halfway around the world but can ask Khin Nyunt" directly. Then the "surprise attendee" Ma Thitsa, mentioned before, who had come to DC specifically for this occasion rose from her seat to ask questions. Ma Thitsa's two questions, asked in a soft voice, can be viewed as a coup for the Burmese democracy movement. Ma Thitsa is a quiet, soft-spoken and rather shy woman. She had been secretly brought to DC by Bakatha, the Burmese student union from Boston where is going to college. During the reception before the talk, Ma Thitsa sat quietly in a corner, obviously composing herself for the confrontation to come with a former friend, which was likely to be at the very least highly emotional. Ma Thitsa delivered each of her questions in Burmese and Ko Hlwan Moe of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB) translated each question into English. Ma Thanegi was visibly surprised when Ma Thitsa stood up. Ma Thitsa said she did not need to introduce herself to Ma Thanegi as they had been in jail together. The gist of the questions were, A. As far as I understand there is no freedom of expression in Burma. Won't it be difficult for you when you go back to Burma? B. I can accept Burmese culture in the sense of going to a monastery. But forced labor, is that Burmese culture? After the presentation Ma Thitsa told a close friend that it was good that she had not been noticed by Ma Thanegi prior to the talk. "Otherwise Ma Thanegi might have worked her charm, and then it might have made it difficult to ask tough questions," she said. Immediately after the talk, people said that Ma Thanegi came over to Ma Thitsa and warmly greeted her. To one person who knew her in Burma that is a sign of Ma Thanegi's "heart," but this same person also said that he found it difficult to talk to her as he saw her as a symbol of the regime. To me it seems a strange coincidence that Ma Thitsa's name in Burmese means Truth or Loyalty. Win Min asked about the Committee to Protect Journalists' (CPJ) statements about the lack of independence of the English language Myanmar Times where Ma Thanegi is a contributing editor. Win Min then read a quote from the CPJ about Myanmar Times. Min Zaw Oo of the University of Maryland asked what other methods of protest outside dissidents had besides asking for sanctions. He said that if the junta "will stop pressuring us, we will stop pressuring them". At this point the facilitators were starting to run out of time and had Ma Thanegi answer all the questions at the same time. This gave her time to demur on some of the answers some of which were - To Ma Thitsa's question about danger on going back, "well, I have to survive by talking carefully between the tigers and the crocodiles." In response to Min Zaw Oo's question, she repeated again, it's so unfair. Ma Thanegi is apparently what one would call a very cool customer. She has the ability to talk calmly even if she is not exactly answering the questions but is rather dodging and evading them and defending the junta. The questions were all posed aggressively but she kept emotional distance. Maybe she was able to do this because she is not deeply involved emotionally unlike the dissidents whose emotional engagement and political commitment came through in the questions. Ma Thanegi pretty much kept repeating the Burmese culture theme in her so-called arguments but as one of the democracy leaders in exile has stated, she herself seems very much ingrained in the junta culture of "father knows best". Still it was a good thing that dissidents overseas had a chance to talk to someone at the other end of the political spectrum. "Otherwise we would all be talking to each other all the time," said one dissident. He went on to say, however, that it was curious that such a person as Ma Thanegi or the junta wanted a fair hearing internationally and seemingly wanted the right to sit at table and talk as equals while themselves denying similar rights to the Burmese people, the ethnic groups and the democracy advocates within Burma. Eyewitnesses of the panel that was in Berkeley, CA reported that it was an even greater debacle for Ma Thanegi and her cohorts than the one in Washington DC had been. Prominent dissidents such as Dr. Zarni, founder of the Free Burma Coalition, and Min Zin, one of the leading intellectuals in the Burmese democracy movement attended. There were reports that dissidents got up and said they wished to comment, not ask questions. The pro-democracy faction in the audience were reported to have booed those who applauded Ma Thanegi's position, and that she had to be hustled away by the organizers before she could finish speaking. Although throughout her US trip, Ma Thanegi spoke on "Burmese culture," Brian Joseph of NED said at the DC session that in a totalitarian country it is impossible to know what national sentiments are. Even in an open society people do not necessarily answer questionnaires truthfully so with no scientific study of any sort, Ma Thanegi's opinions will remain only her opinions and those of the people around her. They cannot be presented in a more general light. Jeremy Woodrum of FBC said that, "It is ironic that Ma Thanegi claims that more money will help the Burmese. Actually the exact opposite is true. In the early 1990s, when millions of dollars of US investment money poured into Burma, there was a massive increase in forced labor, which many refer to as slave labor. In fact, more money meant more repression. Investment and trade doesn't happen in a vacuum. If you pump money into an abusive system you get more abuse not less." Since 1988 the NLD and democracy advocates have been calling for a system change. As I am writing this article the WTO Ministerial Meeting is winding up in Qatar, after having admitted both China and Taiwan as new members. Sales to China alone are estimated as being worth two billion dollars a year to the United States. On November 5th, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) put out a statement that the persistence of forced labor on a large scale in Burma, which has been confirmed by the International Labor Organization, should prompt all member states to impose binding trade sanctions on the Burmese regime. Kyi May Kaung holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania and currently works for the Burma Fund in Washington, DC as a Senior Research Associate. The opinions expressed here belong to K.M. Kaung alone and not to any organization or other individual.
Copyright © 2008 Irrawaddy Publishing Group |

Dr Kyi May Kaung's landmark article on Burma & sanctions --from 2001

My editorial policy--

My editorial policy-- A different point of view, an original vision, hard-hitting and succinct analysis and commentary, no sexism, racism, pornography, ageism, extreme nationalism--

Brilliant insights but no tech-speak, no gobblydegook, no saying white is black and black is white
no pretending please.

All posts here are not endorsements.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Guardian on writer Marechera--nationalism should have nothing to do with writing--

Quote of the day:
From The Guardian on writer Marechera—nationalism has nothing to do with writing—should have nothing to do with writing-kmk

"The heart of Marechera's work, as these examples suggest, is a bleak territory. "Life", as he puts it in The House of Hunger, is like "a series of hunger-scoured hovels stretching endlessly towards the horizon". African critics attacked him for this attitude, Juliet Okonkwo writing in 1981 that his "excessive interest in sex activity, his tireless attempt to rake up filth, is alien to Africa – a continent of hope and realisable dreams". Marechera's position? "If you are a writer for a specific nation or a specific race, then fuck you.""

FB posted 1-15-2014
Accessed – ditto

The Guardian on writer Marechera--nationalism should have nothing to do with writing--

Quote of the day:
From The Guardian on writer Marechera—nationalism has nothing to do with writing—should have nothing to do with writing-kmk

"The heart of Marechera's work, as these examples suggest, is a bleak territory. "Life", as he puts it in The House of Hunger, is like "a series of hunger-scoured hovels stretching endlessly towards the horizon". African critics attacked him for this attitude, Juliet Okonkwo writing in 1981 that his "excessive interest in sex activity, his tireless attempt to rake up filth, is alien to Africa – a continent of hope and realisable dreams". Marechera's position? "If you are a writer for a specific nation or a specific race, then fuck you.""

FB posted 1-15-2014
Accessed – ditto

Friday, January 10, 2014

Again, on James Michener's Recessional --

Again, on James Michener's Recessional, by Kyi May Kaung.

I just finished reading this penultimate novel of James Michener's and find it an outstanding piece of work.

Except for some patches which are heavy on facts and debate--such as a debate on the right to die and euthanasia or mercy killing, on the whole the interlocked stories of inter-generational professional and romantic relationships is quite compelling and also realistic.

As befits a novel set in a retirement and assisted living facility, there is a lot of death in this novel, but each death is presented even handedly as the outcome of lives led.

As befits a masterly bestselling author, he never judges any of his characters, and does not even mention how the young black athlete got AIDS.  I think this shows great authorial discipline and control. 

He does not favor one character over another, even if that character literally happens to be a great big rattlesnake.

Also each character's story comes to a believable conclusion.

That it's a story mainly about old people does not mean there are no plots and subplots.

In fact, I like it better than his final novel The Novel, which is more or less autobiographical, I think, although presented as the story of a writer who is Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutch) in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

That story seems more linear.

Also in Recessional, he breaks one of the unwritten rules beloved of writing groups and courses:  You must explain what the title means by page 5.  :)

He only has a short definition of the word "recessional" in the very beginning, and then at the very end someone, in her head, reflects on the meaning of "recessional."

I think it is just super, and shows that at age 87 and already suffering from kidney failure, Michener was as sharp as ever and still at the top of his game.

I have read that Michener was abandoned as an infant by his biological mother and never knew his real name.  "Michener" was said to have been the surname of the woman who ran the foster home or orphanage he was brought up in.

This may or may not have been the source of his apparent burning desire always to write.

If so, he more than succeeded.

Not least is the money he and his wife donated to The Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Recently, a Michener Fellow, poet and Iraq veteran Kevin Powers wrote and published The Yellow Bird, widely acclaimed as the definitive Iraq novel and a finalist for the National Book Award.

Thank you, James Michener, wherever you are, for your lived example and hours and hours of seamless interesting travel in different times and places.


Copyright Kyi May Kaung

Conn Iggulden

Conn Iggulden--Author Genghis: Bones of the Hills etc.

I've only read Bones, but like so much read twice--

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Nyi Nyi Aung's case from 2009--

FB – 1-8-2014

One of the things I am most proud of in my life--
in mid-2009, when Nyi Nyi Aung was first arrested in Burma, I spoke with his fiancee Wa Wa and a mutual friend, and when I realized we were out of our depth and really needed to reach out to people who could really help, I sent some emails and I introduced Wa WA to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's DC-based lawyer, whom Wa Wa at once retained.
Among the emails I sent to NY-based Burma dissidents was one to a then journalism student who started the ball rolling by writing about the case in the Huffington Post.

After that, the major newspapers picked up on the case.

NNA suffered a back dislocation from the beatings received in prison. 

Fortunately, the surgeons who operated on him did it all gratis.

The mutual friend drove NNA to see me to "show me" he was OK, but we did not get to chat long.

I am so proud of everyone who helped and of Wa Wa and Nyi Nyi who conducted themselves so well throughout the ordeal.

I post this now so people will know that what we are dealing with is not a benign military regime in Burma.


In reverse chronological order – Thar Nyunt Oo’s interview of NNA—

Kaye Lin- NNA’s arrival in USA-

NLD – groundless charges against NNA

U S House of Reps urges release-

Nyi Nyi Aung's case from 2009--I am going to post some Youtube videos of Nyi Nyi Aung's case from 2009--because it happened not so long ago--and it's the same government in Burma--

My archive at IISH, Amsterdam--