Daily Archives: 26 December 2005

Far Outliers Blogpost 1000

I started blogging almost exactly two years ago this week, and this constitutes my 1000th blogpost in that span of time. My Sitemeter stats show I’m closing in on a fair-to-middling 85,000 visits, and 125,000 page views, but I know that some people rely on syndication via Blogger’s Atom/RSS feed, which bypasses Sitemeter. Still, these are far greater numbers than will have read all of my obscure linguistics articles and reviews within my lifetime (or perhaps even the current millennium).

In the past, I’ve assembled links to my own favorite blogposts before taking an extended break from the blog. This time, I’ll post some of the apparent external favorites of search engines and specialty sites, judging impressionistically from my referral logs. The following hit parade is in chronological order, not in order of popularity. If I’m reminded of more, I’ll add them to the list.

I’ll take this opportunity to add a link to my policy statement on extract quotes from published books.

I’m not planning another hiatus until March, but I need to spend a little more time over the next several weeks on an old-fashioned publication project.

UPDATE: My thanks to The Argus, now Registan, for the first external link, and to The Marmot for both the second link, and the latest spike of traffic sent my way.

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Chad and Sudan Now at War?

The BBC reported on 23 December that the government of Chad is now fed up with repeated cross-border attacks from the Darfur region of Sudan.

Chad says it is in “a state of war” with neighbour Sudan over the security crisis in the east of the country.

It accuses Sudan of being the “common enemy of the nation” after a Chadian rebel attack on a town last week.

In a statement, the government calls on Chadians to mobilise themselves against Sudanese aggression.

Relations between the two states have deteriorated since Chad accused Sudan of being behind Sunday’s attack on Adre, which left about 100 people dead.

The strong language in the statement will alarm observers who have already warned that tensions along the Chad-Sudan border are nearing breaking point.

via Black Star Journal

As usual, the Head Heeb provides more context.

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News Censorship in Myanmar

I discover censorship defines life at the Myanmar Times and depletes the buzz and excitement that’s generally a feature of good newspaper offices where ground-breaking stories are regularly broken. Censorship at the Times is absolute and total, but the system itself is quite simple. All articles selected for possible publication are faxed to Military Intelligence and are either accepted in their totality, completely rejected, or partly censored, with words, paragraphs and sections removed. Such information is relayed to the editor, Goddard, usually by an officer named Wai Lin. Sometimes the Brigadier General himself rolls up his sleeves and pitches in, and if big issues, especially political issues, are discussed in an article, Wai Lin will pass the material to him for ‘instruction and guidance’.

Inside page layouts and story placements are mostly left to the staff to determine, but the front-page layout is carefully scrutinised and stories approved for publication might not be approved for front-page publication, or the emphasis of such stories might be downplayed.

At times, there can be dialogue about decisions. I am told a story about breakdancing becoming a fad among trendy Yangon youth was axed by MI because they only want to promote traditional dancing. A query, asking if there was any way the story could be saved, resulted in a new ruling that it could be used if breakdancing were not defined as a dance but instead as an American fitness regime.

I discover that Myanmar has a mind-numbing myriad of rules regarding publications. New laws, new variations to new laws, and new amendments to old laws relentlessly emerge.

I don’t even try to grapple with this complexity because I am told that ultimately only one law applies–the law of the day as detennined by the Brigadier General and his boys at Military Intelligence. If they say no it means no, and there is no burrowing through laws and statutes to find precedents or technicalities to present to lawyers. If the Brigadier General rules it out, it’s out and anyone who publishes against his will could well be on the road to Insein prison–which, incidentally, is appropriately pronounced ‘Insane’ prison.

But the most stultifying aspect of the insidious, all-pervading censorship is that the paper is denied an entity or a voice. All aspects giving a Western paper its character, personality and identity–editorials, letters to the editor, causes and crusades, opinion and analysis–are no-go zones. The term ‘political analysis’ does not exist in the Myanmar Times lexicon.

SOURCE: Land of a Thousand Eyes: The subtle pleasures of everyday life in Myanmar, by Peter Olszewski (Allen & Unwin, 2005), pp. 28-29

Asiapundit has a few more uncensored news reports on Myanmar/Burma.

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A Latvian Migrant Worker in Ireland

Irish Rainy Day blogger and professional journalist Eamonn Fitzgerald commends a Washington Post story on 28 November headlined East-to-West Migration Remaking Europe: “This is seriously good journalism and we’ve picked it as our Article-of-the-Year by our Newspaper-of-the-Year.” Here’s a small taste of what the article has to say.

“I have to leave Latvia,” he says. “There are no possibilities here. We have nothing.”

His last job was sandblasting the hulls of huge freighters in a Riga dry dock, enduring icy winds off the Baltic Sea for $50 a week. So at 39, never married, with nothing to lose, Neulans sits in the lonely dullness of the Aurora Hotel with a black nylon athletic bag at his feet. He has packed one pair of pants, a shirt, a pair of no-name sneakers, three packets of instant mashed potatoes and eight cans of processed meat.

It’s late October. He has a $190 plane ticket for the next night on airBaltic’s midnight flight from Riga to Dublin. It will be the first plane ride of his life, a simple three-hour hop but a journey that illustrates a historic flow of people that is changing the face of Europe.

Since Latvia and nine other countries joined the European Union in May 2004, almost 450,000 people, most of them from the poorest fringes of the formerly communist east, have legally migrated west to the job-rich economies of Ireland, Britain and Sweden. Germany, France and other longtime E.U. members have kept the doors closed for now but promise to open them in coming years to satisfy the bloc’s principle that citizens of all member states share the right to move to any other.

Perhaps nowhere is this feeling stronger than in Ireland, a country of 4 million people with one of Europe’s fastest-growing economies and memories of how the world took in destitute Irish migrants in generations past. About 150,000 new workers — mostly Poles, Lithuanians and Latvians — have registered with the Irish government in the past 18 months, statistics show, although officials say that some may have already been there.

Citizens of E.U. countries do not need Irish visas or work permits, and there are no restrictions on how long they can stay or what work they can do. They are generally eligible for government health care and other services. There is no special system for them to seek citizenship.

From Dublin to Donegal, it is now difficult to find a construction site, factory, hotel or pub where some of the workers are not speaking Polish, Russian, Latvian or Lithuanian. They are changing the country’s ethnic character. Multi-language newspapers cater to the job-seekers. Banks have hired tellers who speak their languages. East European grocery stores sell meats and cheeses from home, and phone companies post flyers in Internet cafes listing cheap calls to Warsaw, Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn.

Immigration, of course, also brings social friction and occasional violence. In Ireland, as in other once-homogenous European societies, people are struggling to accommodate newcomers with different cultures, languages and religions, and make room in already strained welfare and school systems.

But many here see the movement of workers as pure opportunity, for themselves and for the immigrants.

‘Tis indeed a story well told and well worth reading in full.

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