Burma Disaster Relief

From Avaaz.org:

In the wake of a massive cyclone, at least 22,000 Burmese are dead. More than 40,000 are missing. A million are homeless.

But what’s happening in Burma is not just a natural disaster–it’s also a catastrophe of bad leadership.

Burma’s brutal and corrupt military junta failed to warn the people, failed to evacuate any areas, and suppressed freedom of communication so that Burmese people didn’t know the storm was coming when the rest of the world did. Now the government is failing to respond to the disaster and obstructing international aid organizations.

Humanitarian relief is urgently needed, but Burma’s government could easily delay, divert or misuse any aid. Today the International Burmese Monks Organization, including many leaders of the democracy protests last fall, launched a new effort to provide relief through Burma’s powerful grass roots network of monasteries–the most trusted institutions in the country and currently the only source of housing and support in many devastated communities. Click below to help the Burmese people with a donation and see a video appeal to Avaaz from a leader of the monks:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/burma_cyclone/5.php?cl=86184609

Giving to the monks is a smart, fast way to get aid directly to Burma’s people. Governments and international aid organizations are important, but face cahllenges–they may not be allowed into Burma, or they may be forced to provide aid according to the junta’s rules. And most will have to spend large amounts of money just setting up operations in the country. The monks are already on the front lines of the aid effort–housing, feeding, and supporting the victims of the cyclone since the day it struck. The International Burmese Monks Organization will send money directly to each monastery through their own networks, bypassing regime controls.

Last year, more than 800,000 of us around the world stood with the Burmese people as they rose up against the military dictatorship. The government lost no time then in dispatching its armies to ruthlessly crush the nonviolent democracy movement–but now, as tens of thousands die, the junta’s response is slow and threatens to divert precious aid into the corrupt regime’s pockets.

The monks are unlikely to receive aid from governments or large humanitarian organizations, but they have a stronger presence and trust among the Burmese people than both. If we all chip in a little bit, we can help them to make a big difference.

Click here to donate:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/burma_cyclone/5.php?cl=86184609

With hope,

Ricken, Ben, Graziela, Paul, Iain, Veronique, Pascal, Galit and the whole Avaaz team

PS: Here are some links to more information:

For more information about Avaaz’s work to support the Burmese people, click here: http://www.avaaz.org/en/burma_report_back/

For more information about the cyclone, the humanitarian crisis, and the political dimension, see these articles:

New York Times: “A Challenge Getting Relief to Myanmar’s Remote Areas.” 7 May 2008.

BBC: “Will Burma’s leaders let aid in?” 6 May 2008.

India’s Economic Times: Indian meteorological department advised junta 48 hours in advance, 6 May 2008.

BBC: “Disaster tests Burma’s junta.” 5 May 2008

Times Online: “Aid workers fear Burma cyclone deaths will top 50,000.” 6 May 2008.

The Wine Trials

The Wine Trials is an upcoming book that describes of a series of blind tastings that I took part in last year. The tastings were great fun. We were encouraged to come up with creative, uncensored descriptions of wines. I thought one of the wines tasted like cat pee. The book recommends 100 wines under $15 that beat $50-$150 wines in the tastings.

I’m all about the cheap wine, like the 3-buck chuck from Trader Joe’s, or the 4-dollar Spanish table wine I got from JUSCO when I lived in Japan. These days, I get my cheap wine from Fresh Direct. They have a great 7-dollar vinho verde and an 11-dollar cava that are regular fixtures of my wine stash.

This week’s issue of Newsweek has an article about the book on page 12 of the magazine, the text of the article is also online.

You can pre-order copies of The Wine Trials from Amazon.com.

Pandora Internet Radio

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Check out Pandora, an Internet Radio Station that lets you create your own radio stations based on songs or artists that you like and introduces other songs and artists into the mix based on their musical similarities.  Words don’t do it justice, so give it a try and you will be hooked!

Thanks to Iain for the tip.

Helvetica vs. Arial

DOWN WITH ARIAL! 

From Helvetica vs. Arial

Helvetica was developed by the Haas Foundry of Switzerland in the 1950s. Microsoft distributed a typeface called Arial, a very similar typeface, that comes bundled with every desktop computer

Thus Arial has now overtaken Helvetica as the standard font in practically everything done by those who don't know better.

[click here to read more]

From The Scourge of Arial:

Arial is everywhere. If you don't know what it is, you don't use a modern personal computer. Arial is a font that is familiar to anyone who uses Microsoft products, whether on a PC or a Mac. It has spread like a virus through the typographic landscape and illustrates the pervasiveness of Microsoft's influence in the world.

Arial's ubiquity is not due to its beauty. It's actually rather homely. Not that homeliness is necessarily a bad thing for a typeface. With typefaces, character and history are just as important. Arial, however, has a rather dubious history and not much character. In fact, Arial is little more than a shameless impostor.

[click here to read more]

First Avaaz Campaign Member Comments

Here is a PDF file with a sampling of member comments on the 1st Avaaz.org campaign, which opposes Bush's plan to increase American troops in Iraq.

The comments have been edited for spelling and to protect the privacy of the individuals who wrote to Avaaz

Click below to download the PDF:

Comments taken down for the time being while Avaaz has an internal discussion about privacy and blogging issues.