Burma as failing state: The road to civil war

  More than two months into the unfolding nightmare of Burma’s latest military dictatorship, a grim new reality has become apparent to the people of this country, also known as Myanmar, and to others around the world who have been following events there with growing concern: the longer the national army (Tatmadaw) keeps killing innocent civilians and otherwise terrorizing the population while the United Nations does nothing, the more likely the country is to descend…

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Anti-Maskers: Coronabullies of Entitlement

  February 24th is National Pink Shirt Day in Canada, an occasion for schools and workplaces, teachers and students, parents and their children to raise awareness about the problem of bullying by wearing pink T-shirts in solidarity with its victims. Bullying is generally defined as a form of aggression that involves a power imbalance: the person doing the bullying has some kind of power—physical strength, a position of authority—over his or her target. There are…

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Burma: We’ve seen this movie before (Or have we?)

  Change has come to stay in Burma, but the question is whether a transfer of power will come through peaceful elections or by violence…Either way, the general consensus in Burma in the spring of 1990 is that the movement towards democracy which began exactly two years ago is irreversible. —Bertil Lintner, “Outrage” (1990) One morning in Rangoon during the Fall of 2013, as heavy sheets of monsoon rain pelted the corrugated metal rooftops of…

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Reading in 2020: A pandemic year’s bookshelf

Writing about some of the books I’ve read over the past twelve months feels a bit strange, as 2020 has seemed like two different years: the one that began on January 1 and the one that began in mid-March, when the world awoke to the reality of COVID-19 and nothing was the same again. Steeped in isolation by pandemic distancing protocols, we’ve all had much more time to read while pondering so many unsettling questions.…

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Letter to my 14-year-old self: On conflicted fandom and Van Halen

Dear Daniel, How you love your tunes! Raised in a musical family, you took your first steps to the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” and got into many different sounds, from Tchaikovsky to Sinatra to Edith Piaf. But rock and roll is your passion and you are, after all, fourteen. So here you are at boarding school in 1978, and your house mate, S., a kid from Piedmont, California (part of Oakland, near San Francisco, you…

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