THE MYANMAR TIMES
JULY 7 13, 2014
The local lowdown & best of the web
2 Fast 2 Spurious
When the vast majority of people Google ‘“escape gastro Yangon”, chances are they’re looking for a tried and true remedy to symptoms brought on by dubious chicken or something water-borne. However, some will be pleased to ﬁnd the website of “The newest spot of choice for Yangon’s well-heeled set”, which opened towards the end of 2012: Escape Gastro Bar.“I have to say … the most difﬁcult part was probably deciding on the name for the bar!” said bar co-founder and doyen of the city’s burgeoning high-end hospitality sector Htet Tay Za, in an interview with Myanmore back in April.“I grew up witnessing Myanmar’s hospitality industry driven on the wrong path and I’ve always aspired to contribute and be part of our country’s urban potential,” he continued, allaying the concerns of anyone who had thought there wasn’t anywhere in town to get a decent “molecular cocktail”.This is a concept that should be familiar to anyone who’s ever watched pioneering molecular gastronomist Heston Blumenthal’s rather nauseating television show
, in which he makes food look like other food through his liberal use of liquid nitrogen and Bunsen burners, much to the surprise and delight of his celebrity guests.Anyway, the copy of the latest Facebook ad for Escape Gastro’s upcoming Sunday hangover brunch is a joy to behold. To wit:“…we’re no strangers to you beautiful people and the well heeled set. We don’t mind that extra attention. Got a set of wheels you wanna take for a ride on Sundays? Bring your cars to show case for a private photo shoot! Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bentley, and all that non-sense…”Can I get a Hallelujah? Now you need not worry about where to park your Maybach as you wallow in crapulence, soak up the booze with bacon and imbibe some hair of the dog (or, perhaps, a dog hair vapour infused with organic, single-source quinoa mousse, served with a rusk straw made of powdered wagyu).In other hospitality industry-related news, a plate of
at an eatery up the road from
The Myanmar Times
ofﬁce has risen from K1,800 to K2,500 in the last week off the back of rising cooking gas prices – which I’m very lucky to be able to say isn’t catastrophic news for me, but it’s probably not great for the eight-year-old who delivered it, or anyone else in the country who eats food cooked off a gas hob, or ekes out a living selling it.
The Antisocial Network
Last week, Facebook was inaccessible from approximately 9pm on July 3, coming back up around 4am. Many wondered if this had anything to do with the events that took place in Mandalay, as social media went into overdrive with inﬂammatory material and has been largely credited as the conduit for the spread of a story about one of the two alleged inciting incidents.That the site was accessible during the downtime using a VPN browser such as TOR indicated it was a deliberate block and not a mere glitch. OnJuly 5 Facebook was blocked in Mandalay but not Yangon, with Police Brigadier General Win Kaung conﬁrming to reporters this was done in order to quell rumours.While blocking Facebook was possibly a good move on MPT’s part given the circumstances, it also means people are likely to seek out other avenues to communicate – whether it be for benign social interactions, to get information, or to disseminate the brand of extremely unhelpful inciting material that has put a match to the proverbial powder keg.One of the myriad problems with tackling hate speech online is what I like to think of as the hydra effect: You can report and ban one malignant account, but another two will spring up in their place.Since I started as online editor in 2013, I’ve watched outbreaks of ethno-religious conﬂict through the weird lens of my computer screen. I’ve sifted through various groups, and pored over proﬁles that spread hate speech.In Myanmar, in particular, many accounts spreading hate speech reveal no details to indicate who it belongs to.While the best-case-scenario take on this would be that it’s symptomatic of a broader legacy of mistrust and mild paranoia infused in the populace, I think it would be naïve to say that sort of anonymity can’t and isn’t used as a tool to overinﬂate the perceived support for certain ideas and material on social media. I must reiterate: This isn’t unique to Myanmar. It happens the world over.The key is to educate people; to help them think critically about the information they’re receiving; to examine facts, to consider sources and motivations and not to let themselves become complicit in something that could well have implications offscreen for innocent people of all creeds who are just trying to live their lives.
Yangon Expat Connection’s Google group and ﬁrst world problem support network was under siege last week by a smut peddler, apparently not having learned their lesson from the
debacle of June 2014.Someone posted a list of household items for sale, the ﬁrst being the
50 Shades of Grey
trilogy, for the clearance price of $5. I, for one, wasn’t aware it was a trilogy. Why someone would want a secondhand copy of that particular tome is also a question worth exploring but, really: Who can argue with that price?
Deputy information minister U Ye Htut notably absent from Facebook, posting just twice since June 26
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop successfully completes jog near Shwedagon Pagoda without falling into a drain
Gon Yi Aye Kyaw from
Photo: Pyan Han (ColorMax)
Panzagar: Flower speech, not hate speech
Woman vows to mete out vengeance against “whichever jerk” stole her umbrella from the ofﬁce foyer during the throes of a monsoonal downpour
:Photo essay on BYO luxury car brunch