September 2007


Bloggers who risked all to reveal the junta’s brutal crackdown in Burma – Times Online

The realities of political oppression made life difficult. A blogger who posted a photograph of a demonstration found herself arrested, questioned and her computer seized.

On domestic blogs, they were able to express themselves only indirectly. The blogger nicknamed Sun, for example, posted quotations from a famous Burmese memoir of the Japanese occupation during the Second World War, full of observations about how to live with dignity under a brutal regime.

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The regime responded, first by blocking individual Burmese blogs, then, last Wednesday, by blocking all of them. But the overseas sites were beyond its reach, so on Friday it switched off the internet altogether. Now e-mails can be sent only within Burma; the only pages that web browsers can view are those of the official websites.

The only solution now would be to dial up ISPs overseas but the cost of international calls makes this prohibitive. As Superman puts it: “Now Burma is like the Stone Age.”

You can watch it from the TV but these people are living with the oppression in Burma and taking the risk of reporting it to the world. I admire their tenacity and bravery.

They make the rest of us look trivial – and we are.

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Sept. 28, 1865: England Gets Its First Woman Physician, the Hard Way

Portrait of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson

1865: Elizabeth Garrett becomes the first woman in England to receive a medical license.

It didn’t come easily.

Bound by the restrictions on sex and class that prevailed in Victorian England, Garrett, the daughter of a London pawnbroker, was inspired to medicine after meeting Elizabeth Blackwell, who had become the first practicing woman physician in the United States. First, though, Garrett had to overcome the opposition of her parents. Compared to what lay ahead, that was easy.

At first she tried applying to medical school. Several — actually all — turned her down. With the conventional path blocked, Garrett enrolled as a nursing student at Middlesex Hospital. While there, she sat in on some medical classes but was booted after the male students complained.

The above article is from Wired but there is more information from Wikipedia and from BBC History. Both my primary physician and OB/GYN are women and I’m so grateful for that.

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NPR : Artists of Battlefield Deception: Soldiers of the 23rd

Another great NPR story of the day! This week they are runnning stories on WWII to coincide with the Ken Burns documentary on PBS.

The art of deception has been part of warfare since its beginnings. There is no more famous example than the Trojan Horse.

But few people know much about the deceptive role the U.S. Army’s 23rd Special Troops played in World War II.

That’s because their work was kept secret until 1996. The mission of the 23rd — made up largely of artists, designers, architects and sound engineers — was to deceive the enemy by drawing their attention away from real combat troops.

Their weapons? Inflatable jeeps and tanks, acting, sound recordings and plenty of imagination.

Among it’s members were Ellsworth Kelly (abstract expressionist painter) and Bill Blass (fashion designer). Check out the article and/or podcast which has much more information. Hey – I would join the army if I could do this kind of work.

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Marcel Marceau, mime artist, dies aged 84 – Times Online

The mime artist was born Marcel Mangel on March 22, 1923, in Strasbourg, France. His father, Charles, a butcher who sang baritone, introduced his son to the world of music and theatre at an early age. The boy adored the silent film stars of the era: Chaplin, Buster Keaton and the Marx brothers.

When the Germans marched into eastern France, he and his family were given just hours to pack their bags. He fled to southwest France and changed his last name to Marceau to hide his Jewish origins. In 1944, Marceau’s father was sent to Auschwitz, where he died.

There are several articles out today but I like this one. The quote in the title is great. The New York Times article mentions that he had a role in the classic french film “Les Enfants du Paradis” (The Children of Paradise) with another acclaimed mime, Jean-Louis Barrault. It is an excellent film – rent it if you can. He also had a speaking role in Mel Brooks “Silent Movie.”

What amazes me most is the length of his career – over 60 years. The picture above is from 2005!

“I want to be a man who will represent as an active witness my time, and who wants to say, without words, my feelings about the world.”

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Offensive, angry and ginger – Simpsons’ Willie defines US image of the Scot – Times Online

Despite all the money, the glossy adverts and the brand marketing, Scotland’s international image is personified by the execrable Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons cartoon series.

Groundskeeper Willie, should you be unfamilar with him, is possibly the most offensive, angry, feral, fictional Scotsman ever invented. Think of the worst possible stereotype of the Scot; double it, and you have got Willie — a red-haired, bearded, foul-tempered, incompetent, haggis-eating, testosterone-filled boor who spends his private time secretly videotaping couples in their cars.

Lighten up. It’s a cartoon, for cryin’ out loud!

I think most American’s look to Sean Connery or Star Trek‘s Scotty for their Scottish image. Personally, I favor Craig Ferguson who hosts The Late Late Show.

Click the link for the full article

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NPR : McKellen Takes On Another Dark Mountain: ‘Lear’

I would kill to see this production. I love Shakespeare and I’ve seen many productions (including McKellen as Richard III here in Washington DC). I suspect this will be one of the best performances of the season. It’s already sold-out in Brooklyn and it’s only going to Minneapolis and Los Angeles in the US.

The link is for the article and the radio broadcast which includes exerpts of the performance.

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Anita Roddick, the green queen who inspired millions, dies – Times Online

I’ve taken to reading the London Times online lately. I like the different point-of-view from across the pond. I was very sorry to read that Dame Anita Roddick died this week. The Body Shop is one of my favorite places and one of the few cosmetic lines that I can wear (I’m allergic to many) and that I can support morally.

Dame Anita, who once said she did not want to die rich, also immersed herself in international issues such as Third World debt and human rights. With this commercialism led by conscience, she brought “eco-friendly” products to the British public.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen last night described her as a “true champion of the oppressed and persecuted” who had “shared her brilliance and energy with us to marvellous effect”. She added: “Fundamentally she was an activist, someone who always understood the importance of people standing up for human rights.”

I does surprise me that she sold the company to L’Oreal last year. I hope The Body Shop will continue it’s tradition of fair trade and environmental responsibility.

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