Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wai Hnin Pwint Thon at the British Labour Conference

Wai Hnin Pwint Thon speaking of her father, who was sentenced to 65 years in prison in Burma:
"There are times I almost lose hope. There are times I think I would never see my father again in my life. But I think of his bravery. After all, depsite how he has been suffered, he has never given up. And I know he never will. And I know we can win our freedom."






Sunday, August 08, 2010

Soldiers of Fortune

Times magazine has an interesting article on Burma. This is an excerpt:
I see how wealthy the Burmese elite have become when I tour the Mindhama Residences, a new housing development in Rangoon: the mansions start at $850,000 and go up to $1.2 million, not counting interior decor. All but one have been sold--this in a nation where per capita GDP is just $442, according to the IMF. Might I be interested in the remaining one? The agent allows me to gawk at the splendor: swirls of gilt and meters of marble, Jacuzzi bathtubs, crystal chandeliers. I ask who have bought the other houses. "Some businessmen," he says. "But mostly ..." He trails off, then taps his fingers to his shoulders, the Burmese code for army stripes.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday, June 25, 2010

Asian slicker (လူလည်အာရှသား)

I like this funny Burmese song by Ayoe (အရိုး). I have no idea who he is. But his song is definitely funny. Listen.



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Emmanuel Jal

Emmanuel Ja is a former war child from Sudan. He was saved by a British aid worker, Emma McCume, who died in a car accident in Nairobi. Here he is telling (and rapping) his life story. The clip is rightly titled "The music of a war child." It literally made me shed a few tears.



Friday, June 18, 2010

Aung San Suu Kyi: the unseen photo album

The Guardian has published some of her unseen photos. The photos show her as a wife and mother.

There is one that I like, her photo from her Burmese passport. I have to like this caption from the Guardian because I am also carrying Burmese passport only (this might change in the future, I have to admit).

Aung San Suu Kyi's Burmese passport, issued in New York on 9 December 1970. She refused to get a British passport - though she was entitled to one, being married to the British academic Michael Aris.

And this is another one I like:

Having a barbecue on a family holiday to the Norfolk Broads in the early 1980s

Have a look at the Guardian site.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wavin' Flag

Somalia-born, Canadian-based singer K'Naan's FIFA World Cup 2010 theme song:
When I get older I will be stronger
They'll call me freedom Just like a wavin' flag 
And then it goes back







Thursday, June 10, 2010

Malaika

I was watching FIFA World Cup Kick-Off celebration Concert in South Africa at ESPN web site. I really liked this song "Malaika".  A quick Google search told me that Kenyan musician Fadhili Williams wrote the song. And this web site gave me the following lyrics with English translation.

MalaikaAngel
Malaika, nakupenda Malaika.Angel, I love you Angel.
Malaika, nakupenda Malaika.Angel, I love you Angel.
Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio,And I, your young lover, what can I do.
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,Was I not defeated by the lack of fortune,
Ningekuoa Malaika.I would marry you Angel.
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,Was I not defeated by the lack of fortune,
Ningekuoa Malaika.I would marry you Angel.
Pesa zasumbua roho yanguMoney is troubling my soul
Pesa zasumbua roho yanguMoney is troubling my soul
Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio,And I, your young lover, what can I do,
Ningekuoa Malaika.I would marry you angel.
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,Was I not defeated by the lack of fortune,
Ningekuoa Malaika.I would marry you Angel.
Kidege, hukuwaza kidege.Little bird, I dream of you little bird.
Kidege, hukuwaza kidege.Little bird, I dream of you little bird.
Nami nifanyeje, kijana mwenzio,And I, your young lover, what can I do,
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,Was I not defeated by the lack of fortune,
Ningekuoa Malaika.I would marry you Angel.
Nashindwa na mali sina, we,Was I not defeated by the lack of fortune,
Ningekuoa Malaika.I would marry you Angel.

Angélique Kidjo's version:


By Fadhili Williams, the composer of the song:



Sunday, June 06, 2010

On Writing Well

Barnesandnoble1

Image via Wikipedia

I went to Barnes and Noble near my apartment after lunch. I read "On Writing Well, The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction" by William Zinsser for the second time. 

It was, in my opinion, a very good book for people who wanted to write. In part I, Zinsser told us to write simply and remove clutter from our writing. For example, he said that we could remove "personal" from "his personal feeling." "personal" in the example did not serve any purpose and should be eliminated. He explained that by writing simply and removing clutter, we learned how to nail hammers. Only then, we would learn to build beautiful houses by finding our own "style" of writing.

In part II, he talked about methods. He discussed the unity of pronouns and tense. For example, if we used first person narrative in past tense, we should stick with that to the end. He also talked about the lead and the ending. We had to write a good lead so that readers would stay with us to the end. He finally talked about the technicalities of writing--the difference between that and which, for example.

In part III, he discussed different forms of writing, namely 1) about people, 2) about places, 3) about yourself, 4) science and technology, 5) business writing, 6) about arts, 7) sports, and 8) humor.

In part IV, he discussed attitudes: 1) the sound of our voice, 2) fear of disapproval and failure, 3) our fixation on the final product, 4) writing as well as we could. 

First, he talked about the sound of our voice. He advised us not to change our voice to fit the subject we were writing about. Instead he suggested that we should write every subject we were writing with our own voice. He reminded us not to use cliché. He wanted us to choose words that had surprise, strength and precision.

Second, he talked about enjoyment as a writer and our fear of disapproval and failure. "Write for the enjoyment of yourself and readers", he said. "Overcome the fear of not being able to write." To build confidence, we should write about subjects that interest us and that we care about.

Then, he told us not to fix our attention on the finished article. We had to quest to know more about the subject we were writing. He discussed making decisions, for example, about the structure of our writing to engage readers from the beginning to the end, and also about making decisions to choose individual words. He did not want us to write like everybody else. We needed to carefully choose words that could take readers along with us.

His final advice was to write as well as we could--rewrite, rewrite and rewrite. He told us to negotiate with editors and trust them. But we shouldn't lose our style because of them.

Other than On Writing Well, I am also reading Raymond Carver's "What we talk about when we talk about love." I have read this once at Kinokuniya bookstore in Bangkok. I am reading it again paying attention to details this time.

I am hoping to read a lot of books this summer before school starts again in August.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Firefox add-on to convert Zawgyi to Unicode

I installed Firefox add-on to convert Zawgyi encoding to Unicode 5.1. It was written by Keith Stribley of thanlwinsoft.org. It worked well. Therefore, I decided to remove Zawgyi font from my computer. I am now totally Unicode-compliant. (Disclaimer: the add-on might have some bugs; in my case, if I am typing a blog entry with movable type blogging software, using backspace key seems to remove some text. I sent an email to Keith about this issue.)

In addition to the add-on, I have also been using this Unicode keyboard by Keith Stribley. It is really easy compared to old Burmese keyboards where you have to remember Alt keys to type in stacked consonants. An example of stacked consonants would be တ္တ.  Now all I have to do to type တ္တ in words like သတ္တဝါ /θaʔ tawa/ is use "`" key to stack တ /t/ below တ /t/. I typed in တ /t/ first and then type တ /t/ again. Then I just type in ` to stack it below the first တ /t/. No more memorizing of Alt keys combinations. Besides, I can also type just like I am writing. For example, ကြ can be typed က+ြ.

Well, I hope that all the operating systems will support Burmese unicode in the near future. I will be interested to see what popular proprietary systems like Zawgyi will do when that happens. Will they adopt the official Unicode or die? There seems to be some people who are trying to migrate Zawgyi to be compatible with Unicode 5.1. I do not know if they are part of official Zawgyi team. However, I wish them good luck for their efforts.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Summer Internship

I am now in Ann Arbor, Michigan to work at Linguist List as an intern. I am currently working on Sino-Tibetan Tree for Multi-tree project at Linguist List: something like this.

Other than work, I hope to write a bit more for this blog during the summer while I have
free time.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Maung Shaw Loo

According to Bucknell University, its first international student, Maung Shaw Loo, Class of 1864, was the first Burmese native to study in the United States.

Born in 1839 in Moulmein, the eldest son of U Shwe Tha and Dwa Hla, the first converts of the pioneering Baptist missionary Adoniram Judson, the early years of Maung Shaw Loo were difficult. U Shwe Tha, a scholar of the Burmese language who tutored British officers, developed an addiction to alcohol that led to divorce in 1854. Because of these family problems, Shaw Loo grew up in the care of relatives.

Shaw Loo, by the way, is the Burmese transliteration of King Saul, the biblical figure. My grandmother, Daw Lun Aung, told me that he was Mon.

Read more about him at Bucknell University's web site.


Thursday, April 01, 2010

The $25,000,000,000 Eigenvector

I am taking Math and Logic for Cognitive Science course this semester. We have been talking about linear algebra the past few weeks. The article my professor wanted us to read is by Prof. Bryan, in which he detailed how a simple idea from linear algebra can be turned into a powerful page ranking algorithm behind Google. The title of the article itself is the approximate market value of Google when the company went public in 2004 and Eigenvector concept from linear algebra.

I have to admit I am liking Maths more and more.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

San Patricio

From New York Times:
"How far I am from the land where I was born! Immense longing invades my thoughts, and when I see myself as alone and sad as a leaf in the wind, I want to cry. I want to die of sorrow."




Monday, March 08, 2010

What A Friend We Have in Jesus

Oregon Myanmar Christian Church has a great song in Burmese. If you download it from Amazon or iTunes, all the proceeds from the sale go to the music ministry of Oregon Myanmar Church. It's a beautiful song.

Vocals - Pyei Sandy & Hsu Hsu.
Cast - Pho Zaw, Thein Tan (Myanmar Pyi) , Pyei Sandy and Hsu Hsu.




Saturday, March 06, 2010

Burmse Classical Poems

While Googling Burmese poems, I found this book by Friedrich V. Lustig (Buddhist Archbishop of Latvia). The book was published in 1966. It had about 15 Burmese classical poems and their English translations.

It seems the book is available in a library at the University of Toronto. Enjoy the electronic version here.


Friday, January 15, 2010

George Orwell in Mandalay

Orwell-in-Mandalay
[photo taken from Irrawaddy]

George Orwell is best known for his novel, 1984, in which he envisioned a government that watches its citizens' every move.

Orwell served in Burma from 1922 to 1927. He went to police training school in Mandalay, where the above picture was taken. George Orwell stands third from left in this photo from his days at the Burma Provincial Police Training School. The photo is dated 1923. He served in Maymyo, Myaungmya, Twante, Syriam (Thanlyin), Moulmein (Mawlamyine) and Katha.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010