Thursday, December 28, 2006

mehmet yılmaz and ahmet türk

hürriyet columnist mehmet yakup yılmaz also asked today why ahmet türk does not go forth in a humanitarian issue using whatever power he may have -if any- to influence the pkk to clean the mines. he commented that he, too, does not understand why türk makes minesweeping conditional on the government's progress toward a "peaceful solution" in the kurdish problem.

i had not read mehmet's [we worked together at one time in ankara, in the yankı (echo) newsmagazine, a turkish imitation of time] column when i posted mine. on current issues, i prefer to wait a while before making a comment and i try not to reflect views already aired. sorry, i slipped a bit but mehmet and i look at the matter from slightly different perspectives.
mehmet wrote that turkey, by accepting the kopenhagen criteria already aggreed to seeking a peaceful solution but that certainly does not include tolerating a paramilitary secessionist organization going about the country toting guns.
despite all the bragging and the political acclamations of economic growth, the figures are pathetic: over half a million people on starvation level ($ 1/day or less) and 15 million in poverty. only 19 provinces out of 81 productive enough to meet expenses (they are feeding the rest). children almost dying of hunger, slumming in one room tenements with numerous siblings along with parents and elder relatives, housing prospects bleak etc.

tv's broadcast dramas of starving families: "i am jobless. i bring home the bread to my eight children. they are cold, they are naked, i can't send them to school". sometimes we are not given a number for children but we can observe an uncountable number of urchins climbing on laps, tables, chairs, fighting in the background and so on.

how touchy! until one stops to ask how many many mouths can an unskilled, uneducated even unwashed parent with no professional acquis to his name hope to feed so that he does not even bother to use rubber while gratifying the only urge that leaving ungratified can improve his lot?

pity-mongering is cheap, so everyone buys it. yet in the "orient" rationality is so subjugated that people can perform acts that the simplest animal refrains from instinctively. higher mammals like whales are suspected of committing mass suicide when faced with environmental pressures that threaten to lower the group's "life standards".

the excuse behind making so many kids is "god gives the aliment for the life he creates".
the "survival" oriented reality is, the investment of the poor is their progeny. the idea is that, children will look after parents when they are old. the male offsprings are therefore more valuable, they are the providers.

hooked on a thwarted islamic ideology (*), a good majority of turks think there is safety in numbers. if they are right, there is a corollary to that theorem: there is poverty, there is misery in numbers, too.
(*) islam's not the only faith to blame. labor intense or under-populated regimes (as the israelis) traditionally abhorred the the idea of being left without enough manpower as soldiers and/or soil tillers. anti-contraception began (officially, at least) with judaism which claimed that any wasted semen might fritter away the messiah to be born. an idea grasped by other monotheistic religions, especially by islamic societies that lived either on agriculture or military campaigns and pillaging.

kurds again

i mentioned democratic society party (dtp) leader ahmet türk's bid to mediate with the pkk in order to learn where they buried the landmines costing the lives of many turkish soldiers, yesterday.

türk, it requires to be noted, did not volunteer to help cleanse the turco-iraqi border of mines as a humanitarian act or because mines are a cruel, sinister, insidious and evil way to fight a war etc. he did not even talk of mines as weapons, he referred to them as "tools".

türk subjected the dtp's altruism to the condition that the turkish government accepts "a solution by non-violent methods" to the "kurdish problem". he pushed the offer forth as a gambit in a power bargain with the state, using young lives (both turkish and kurdish) as a stack of chips in a poker game. he practically gambled with human lives.

ahmet türk, the leader of the pro-kurdish dtp, in effect, blackmailed the whole society and the concerned community in the entire world - take the pkk to the table, he raised the ante; or more of your children will die!

this is the cesspit that politics in turkey has descended into.

had türk come forth in the name of the kurdish population in turkey, made a challenge to the pkk to reveal the so-called "map of mines", that could be a considered a goodwill gesture that might press the government to accept "a solution by non-violent methods". instead, he spoke as the mouthpiece of a belligerent organization, adopting the same sick mentality and jargon of blackmail, threatening to kill more people.

if this is the best representation they can get, i am sorry for the kurds. gambling with lives is even more despicable than taking them. in my book, the dtp is even more deplorable and viler than the pkk, at least unless and until others in the party up and denounce türk.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

hürriyet scooped other papers wednesday and reported that ahmet türk, the leader of the overwhelmingly kurdish democratic society party (dtp) said they could call on the pkk to cleanse the south eastern border of land mines or tell the turkish government where the mines are buried to be picked by the army, "provided the turkish republic opts for democratic civilian methods in the solution of the kurdish problem".
"if the (turkish) state foresees a solution by non-violent methods, dtp will then call for the abolition of such tools as mines. because, thanks to the step taken by the state, our influential power will also increase. otherwise, it will be difficult for our calls, to bring about a result either," türk said.

ahmet türk's party is a principal "official" fault line in the society between turks and kurds, if one is to pinpoint the truth without mincing words. to many turks, actually to almost every turk except anti-state marginals, a portion of the islamists who have their loyalties elsewhere and few open minded individuals who would rather die than commit, the dtp is a political extension of the pkk.

although not fully exact, that label carries a viable percentage of truth. even the little quote above which implicitly identifies the "kurdish problem" with the pkk, goes to show that the dtp leadership is sympathetic toward the pkk. türk himself spent a considerable part of his life in prison because of that association.

however, there seems to have risen a strong faction within the dtp that opposes the pkk's tactics of violence, which for turks -often rhyming the state's discourse- translates as plain secessionist terrorism. the advocates of non-violence are not anti-pkk by the way, and hardly deserve to be called "pacifists" or even "doves" after the cliché. yet they are readier to realize that even victorious wars have to end with negotiation, that negotiation is the victory if you are losing. their objective is to bring the pkk to the table and thus have it recognized somehow. that probably is why ahmet türk and his clique are reluctant to dissociate themselves from the pkk despite their political responsibilities. the organization is their ace up the sleeve but it is also the controller of whatever power the dtp may have. türk and his legalist associates hope to subdue the pkk, take it under their command instead of vice versa, by offering it a peek at legitimacy.

both sides are dancing on the edge of a sword - the dtp, as recently offered by its own chairman, is losing the trust of its kurdish electorate that has already grown out of the belligerent phase and hence of the pkk, too.

the kurdish movement has to reorganize, possibly re-group but if in the process, pkk bows to the mandate of the political pundits, it will only be a secondary power and little more than a card to be played by and against each and every actor in the scene, including the u.s. tayyib bey's akp and possibly the turkish (and mainly sunni) hizbullah are in waiting, to grab the jetsam and flotsam from both the dtp and the pkk.

a very serious choice, between iraqi kurdistan or turkey as its power base is also pressuring the pkk. the organization derives most of its funds in istanbul, chiefly through illegitimate means and as time flows, money starts to become sweeter than war for the providers - another factor that undermines the pkk's hold on the kurdish community but ties it to the political geography of turkey. on the other hand as turkey gets hotter for them, they risk being squeezed by american policies, rival kurdish factions, iraqi government and dependency on other groups because of dwindling funds if they cross south of the border.

thus, "coming out to the legal", as the expression goes, is becoming a necessity for the armed section of the kurdish movement in order to gain some breathing space. violence is rapidly fading out as a policy alternative but conversely, the pkk may have to stage bloody attacks against the army, preferably through mine traps rather than open armed clash, just so that it can prove it still has teeth to bite. but then, every act of violence by the pkk undermines the credibility and eligibility of the dtp and the thorough legalization of the kurdish movement, already threatened by "islamization"is jeopardized.

türk and the dtp however, hardly seem capable of representing a kurdish idea as part of the republic that will be viewed as legitimate by the majority of turks. their (still) terror oriented rhetoric and their transparent allegiance to pkk labels them only as the tip of the iceberg of violence.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

virginity, stupidity and motorcycles

when i am flying or on a bus i usually read motorcycle magazines. returning from ankara, i bought motorcycle and motor bike to keep me busy for half of the trip. there are four monthly mags in turkish on motorcycling and if you crush them all into one, it is possible one that is half way decent may result.

proof? ok here you go - both the rags i got ran the same story on yamaha's new release, the 250 cc scooter just hitting the streets, the city max. of course as a koç holding extension, yamaha carries great pr muscle and even if the bike were worthless (which on the contrary, being a yamaha, should be very, very good if not excellent, though i have not ridden it) it would raise enough noise in the press anyway. sure, a trade mag of course has to keep track of new models and inform readers. but what kind of journalism is it if both "rivaling" publications run exactly the same story, word for word, even including the pr photo provided by yamaha of a happy petiete lady riding the city max?

that's not all of it either, sometimes the motorcycle mags, not just the two i mentioned above but also the others two, motor on and motorize, too, translate company press or pr releases on one of those internet machines or computer programs and run that without even raw editing. the result often is a ridiculously unintelligible text that just wastes paper - not news, not evaluation, not pr, just plain manure.

sometimes though, they do original stuff, too. the ones i read on the bus both shot back at akşam editor-in-chief and columnist serdar turgut for attacking middle aged harley davidson riders. turgut wrote well back in november, he could not stand seeing elderly guys riding on harley davidsons (a.k.a. among bikers as "hardly abelson") and was "angry" with them for "getting into trips of creating crazy lives at that age which does not become them" and even "looks embarrassing". he accused the harley/bike riders in their 50s or 60s of pretending to resurrect the easy rider spirit of the 1960's - with bandanas on their necks and all.

turgut also wrote for his peace of mind, mick jagger were rather dead. the rock star gets on his nerves because he plays peter pan although with increasingly unconcealable wrinkles (my simile, not his).

of course jagger and his crew would never bother to take serdar seriously but turkey's harley davidson / hardly abelson crowd did. the harley owners group (hog) protested as squarely as possible that they were model citizens, not really rebels, even pointing out that the inevitable, rebellious looking bandana is for issuues of comfort rather tthan decoruous or defiant and it can even stop bleeding and save lives if it comes to that.

i ask myself why bother to respond at all? turgut admits he can't even drive a car and i bet he does not ride a bicycle either. numerous times, he wrote in self derision disguised as humor that he has balance and sight problems (i don't take him seriously on that, my guess is he is just over-house-trained) so he probably would not dare/care to even ride pillion on a bike.

besides, he is entitled to hate any group he pleases... so let him hate riders too, will take the pressure of his own self torment maybe... and what if he is a columnist and (it may be presumed) people read him... big deal? who really takes the press seriously? and if anybody is going to hate motorcycles and riders because serdar does, don't worry, serdar will hate him (them), too. others who aggree with him already hate them (us) anyway!

motorcycling is its own trip, everyone is affected differently. usually it is a love - hate affair that control freaks either go ape about or abhorr completely. i, for instance would not trust myself on a racer even though i manage to keep my right hand from rolling on further once i hit 120-130 kph on good highways, 100 on lesser ones (motorways is another story, i've forced the peg on occasions). in any case, if you are motoring on a two wheeler, it is something you do for yourself, not to win public approval and/or acclaim.

all told, who cares what serdar turgut thinks about bikers of 70 or 17? he is barely out of his shoals, writing on something he knows not the first thing about. explaining to him what biking is like describing an orgasm to a homely and pious virgin.

how goeth that deep purple (*) song of yesteryear, when easy riders were rolling, shot on the asphalt?

how did you lose your virginity mary long?
when will you lose your stupidity mary long?

mary long, from who do we think we are? the first stanza goes:

mary long is a hypocrite
she does all the things that she tells us not to do
selling filth from a corner shop
and knitting patterns to the high street queue

salt of the earth? scum of the earth?

sunday, hürriyet's ankara edition ran a story of the tuz gölü (salt lake). the lake is ituated about 125 kilometers south east of ankara, on the way to konya and capadoccia. it is the second largest lake in turkey and has a salt density only second to the dead sea. the salt beds on its shores provide about two million tons of salt per year.

recently, the lake also began attracting (more) visitors from the capital and foreign tourists travelling central anatolia. sunrises and sunsets on the flat whiteness and the blue expanse of water are indeed breathtaking to watch. the salty mud which accumulates in pockets is supposed to be good for rheumatic pains. the paper reports that many people, mainly women, wipe it on their faces in order to cure / prevent wrinkles. the authorities of the settlements around the lake want to promote tuz gölü as a national and international attraction in order to fill their cups while it is raining.

so far, so good. but what kind of rain is it?

for years, at least since the late 80's, environmentalist have been rending their garments to save tuz gölü. the lake is the sole receptacle of konya's sewage, as well as effluents from smaller settlements nearby and various agricultural poisons. as always in turkey, the waste is grossly untreated. tuz gölü is only 3.5 meters deep at its highest and the sewage of more than a million does present a vital threat not only to the lake itself as well as posing a health hazard for the people who live by it and possibly those who use its products.

so far, so bad, because nobody gives a four-letter-word about that substance described by the four-letter-word that goes into the salt we consume.

salt of the earth turned into scum of the earth? that tends to happen if you think "environment" is a four-letter-word.

Monday, December 25, 2006

my uncle, salih kaya sağın, died of brain cancer thursday, at 80. we buried him saturday.

of course this is not an invitation into my world to take part of my personal grief. my uncle was one of the last representatives of a generation, bred by the republic that belonged body and soul to the idea of republican turkey. born in the toddler years of the new turkish state to a middle class family, intelligent, well educated, sent to study mechanical engineering in switzerland on a state scholarship, fluent in english and french and excellent in german (according to his late "tante" in bern), a true gentleman, a grand-master in the freemasons, but above all else a devout "atatürkçü" (better known in english as kemalist). once, he would not speak to me for maybe two years because i argued that mustafa kemal was a dictator! (i was rather uncut in those years, now i think i would call him an autocrat). oh, his entire life, he hated religious extremism and mixing politics with faith(s) probably so much that by the time he was 70 or so, well contrary to the general trend he grew off any religious tentacles binding him. he probably believed in some higher being or non existence ruling the universe but he died no more moslem or christian than a red indian shaman. he hated the islam represented by tayyib erdoğan with a pure, unadulterated, unmitigable fervor.

he and his peers were the second liners in a relay race. they took the flag over from the first generation that was directly responsible for creating the republic. their goal in life was to advance the vatan, the patrie, the motherland before improving their personal fortune. despite all his qualifications, kaya bey spent solely about two years in the private sector. he dedicated his professional life and learning to a love affair with railroads. only when he retired (early) as vice president of the t.c.d.d. (turkish state railways) he launched into a new dimension in his career as an international technical advisor.

not only maths either: true to the tender spirit of the republican intellectual, he was a lettrist in his own right; one of his many publications (mostly about mechanics and it systems) was an updated translation of classic ottoman poetry, written in a turkish the younger generations can not hope to understand with their august vocabulary of 25 monosyllabics and 10 or so atavistic sound utterances. i guess the book sold 10 copies or so.

kaya bey was the epitome of the modernist, positivist, science oriented, technically minded "turkish youth" that the republican idea hoped to raise and entrust the future of the country. as many others like him, he put everything he had into that ideal. where he went wrong was where the republic's ideology went wrong: you cannot elevate the state to a semi sacred pedestal if you are to become modern. modernity is one dimension of capitalism as a comprehensive social system - not just an economic model -. modern only thrives on liberty, freedom and as little intervention as possible, in any field of experience, not just economics.

in his latter years my uncle did realize the powers liberation could mobilize but he nevertheless died a conservative atatürkçü with undying faith in a state that, by my standards at least, failed him.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

globe size orgasm

may your global orgasm day be euphoric! many happy moans!

anyone know what "theoretical intelligence" is?

the most common self promotion, self flattery and self delusion in turkey probably is the assumption that turks possess a "practical intelligence" that automatically pops them above their peers, regardless of any lack of education, knowledge, skill, technique, know-how or statistically, in most cases even a profession.

intelligence is a hairy subject in psychology - in the 50's and 60's, liberals and afro-americans, then still called negroes, were trying to argue with the scientific psychology (*) community that intelligence had nothing to do with race just because blacks did score less in tests (**). then came the era of divided or partial inteligence(s) - technical, mathematical, verbal etc., which was simply a confusion of aptitude toward a socially defined activity with a far more basic, essential, and animal capacity to do things. in any case, intelligence now rates among the plethora of undefinable concepts in social science such as pornography, aggression, terrorism, culture, society and so on. whenever a subject defies universal definitions, writers "prefer" one that suits them best. hence, the politics of psychology and the psychology of politics become integral (***).

ergo, scientifically, to speak of a "practical" intelligence is as sensible as speaking of a theoretical intelligence, which by its own definition, is intelligence that is never put in practice. as a matter of fact, all theory-less idiots in the world tend to confuse "theory" with what they deduct from their meager "practical" observations of facts which are meaningless if there is no theory to refer them to.

thus, practical intelligence is assumed when an off the cuff remedy is applied in a problem situation in order to save the day. often, the problem itself is a consequence of some lack of precaution, foresight, oversight, neglect, misinformation, mistake etc. the "practical" solution does not make the original cause of the problem go away, but postpones its probably more problematic reoccurence. when it reoccurs, again often another practically-intelligent non-solution is applied, thus perpetuating the original idiocy.

hence, so called practical intelligence is the kind of non-intelligence that cannot define or identify the problem, lacks the knowledge, the equipment, the technique and above all, the vision to solve it but attempts to overcome its adversity by applying whatever is readily available.

most behaviorist definitions of intelligence harp on an ability to "solve problems" - which falls short by the nature of the phenomenon: diagnosis precedes procedure... it is impossible to solve that which is not defined. therefore, some quarter of a century ago, i defined intelligence as a capacity to define and/or identify problems.

so, any practical solution to an "unknown because undefined" problem can only hypothetically be a solution. in other words, practical intelligence is theoretical intelligence par excellence; i.e., can never exist in practice.

so what is to brag about?


(*) at that time the community was predominantly behaviorist, gradually more cognitive scientists emerged in the scene though methodologically they allied with the former.
(**) it is generally accepted that the intelligence tests were in "practice" measuring aptitudes, they were based on information and skills blacks were not subjected to.
(***) poltics and value free sceince (including physics) is not a myth, it is a fallacy, an open lie. there is always choice in scientific endeavor and every choice is arbitrary.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

expenses beat losses in iraq

the estimated total final cost of america's iraq invasion will be circa two trillion dollars. already the 400 billion mark is passed, with still years to go before troops can be withdrawn, if everything so far done is not to be flushed down the drain, including some 3000 dead gi's and allied soldiers. the natives count not, of course, the 130000 odd arab bodies buried are just collateral waste.

apparently, despite bipartizan advocacy, dubya and his pundits still leean toward sending more troops to the near east, reminiscent of johnson's 60's escalation of the invasion in the 'nam.

three years ago i wrote (*) why the iraqi mission liberative / mission civilatrice had little chance beyond a dubious and certainly-not-so-lasting military victory. now even dubya is getting wise to it, so i am not going into detail.

however, two other "collateral" predictions i made come through slowly: a) the cost of war is becoming prohibitive economically; b) war is centralizing the traditionally dispersed power structure of america, i.e., the federal government is getting stronger, more empowered and more intrusive, which is a political anathema for liberal americans. in this latter, i am not just talking about such abominations as the patriotic act or the homeland security torment & torture apparatus. simply imagine the power of expending two trillion dollars as a "legitimate" tool in politics, especially on an issue that brooks as much patriotic bovine excreta as a field of pumpkins can take manure. furthermore, this is the kind of cake that not all can eat. certainly, that power is not going to be concentrated or brokered in maine, utah or even delaware as much as in the eastern seaboard and greater california.

america is essentially an "ingrown" country as political economy goes - only about one fourth of its income is globally generated. it also means roughly that only a quarter of its economic potential is truly globally competitive. the burden of global gendarmerie will now force that ratio to change. it is not only my wager but also my wish that despite so called "isolationist" pressures, a more open, world oriented, active, multilateral politics as well as trade will eventually be adopted by america - the better the less time is wasted haggling with the introverts. as you see, i somehow have this totallly out-of-the-blue confidence in americans' ability to find the right way after being lost. the american political economy represents a fairly sound and dynamic system that can cure itself even with a burden of two trils.

such a comprehensive global competitivity requires even economies of scale to grow larger and more efficient, which needs huge movements of capital and corollary concentrations and centralization of monetary and political power and a bigger, stronger government in world affairs.

here is the catch then: if that super government turns out to be essentially american-ingrown, and tries to use the power of globality for its own ends at home, it will cut its own flesh like a bad toe nail. american taxpayers will end up footing most of that two trils, while more caskets are flown home from all over the globe. yet, if washington manages to be a conduit for global and not necessarily so much american as america-related business, although the central government may eventually concede a good deal of control to the forces of globality (**), it will also speak with a serene voice that will often be heard even with no large stick to carry. in short, in keeping with the generic liberal principles of capitalism, the government's loss is the peoples' gain.

how, do you reckon, iraq and iran or north korea can be subdued more easily? promising heaven in the skies or on earth? former comes dying while fighting american invaders, latter from trading with american partners.

less state, more to spare. we are all americans then.

(*) for turkish readers, see the multi-authored compilation edited by toktamış ateş and ülke arıboğan, kartalın kanat sesleri - abd dış politikasında yeni yönelimler ve dünya, ümit yayıncılık, ankara 2004 [flap of the eagle's wings: new orientations in u.s. foreign policy and the world]
(**) not globalism, which concerns a worldwide economic playground but globality - the entire world in a continuum of co-existential integration that implies interactive politics and cultures, as well as economies.

burcu is a "hodja" now

burcu sunar my ex-student, friend and now colleague, who is the guilty party in convincing me to launch this blog yesterday called me to inform that she passed the eligibility exam to become a research assistant at the istanbul university's department of political science and international relations attached to the faculty of economics! she became one of the two elected from some 30 plus highly competent peers vying for the positions in i.r.

so, big deal you say? yes it damn well is! first of all, burcu graduated from the faculty of communication at the bilgi universiy, with a minor in international relations only. secondly, the i.u. is the oldest, largest, richest, most established academic institution in the country, founded on the sultan's own territory named at firs the dar-ul funnun - the porte of sciences. burcu, a graduate of bilgi, a private school of 10 years' history, did not just come out primus inter pares in a match of equals, she bore the cross of coming of age for her alma mater (and very probably all private universities, too) up a via dolores she was a stranger to. for most state universities, private ones are no better than finishing schools where chic boys and fancy chicks get their diplomas after four years of cruising through light courses.

burcu broke the barriers of a prejudice. i do believe she has a lot more in store to show the academic world.

oh, she's not only intelligent, bright and well learnt, she's quite cute, too. petite, colored eyes, light complexion, almost golden hair, so she might be declared a pride of blondes.

bravo burcu "hodja"!

Friday, December 15, 2006

cyprus and boredom

i did not intend the cyprus link from the wash-post to coincide with nietzche's comment on boredom but providential wisdom must have kicked in, they read like the same post. and it is true actually, is there a soul (with the sole possible exception of mr. rauf denktash) who is not lethally bored of the cyprus "question"?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

fresh ideas on a stale matter?

Cyprus discussion in Washington Post
Only the most acute and active animals are capable of boredom. A theme for a great poet would be God’s boredom on the seventh day of creation.

Monday, December 11, 2006


the republican peoples party (rpp) is not worthy of commenting on, in its current form. however, when its leader deniz baykal, a chronic, lifetime victim of the cassius complex (**), asked tayyib effendi if he had asked (permission of?) the military before proposing the opening of turkish ports to south cypriot traffic in return for lifting sanctions to the northern administration; it stopped being a mere abode of incompetence but became a menace to democratic civilization.

"alarm" is not really necessary, the rpp is not worthy of that either, but some monitoring might be in order.

just as i said in the previous post, oriental is by nature "religious", it is not necessarily confined to islam and can appear in pseudo secular baathist, royal and republican forms. along with the islamic version, their common point is freaking over control.

cyprus is in ankara

in the first few weeks after the cyprus intervention, the reluctant hero, the coy conqueror of cyprus, the opposition blamed the then premier bulent ecevit for "importing an international question" into the heart of the guagmire of shallowness that is turkish politics. he refuted, of course, but did all he could to convert the "victory" into an election, where he would harvest all the votes. nothing doing, naturally... the opposition was no less cunning. turkey was not vanquished by its own victory for nothing, it always had ample talent to do just that.

now, almost 35 years later, a breakthrough finally appears to get rid of the stranglehold cyprus has applied on turkish society, and is already half boggled by its own authors. over the weekend, tayyib effendi (*) has declared that:

a. turkey made a verbal offer to the e.u. (and hence the government of cyprus) that it will (somehow) open up to sea and air traffic from south cyprus.
b. because the offer was verbally made, and in the course of negotiations with the union, tayyib effendi's government did not feel obliged to consult anyone, namely, the military and the president in that succession of significance... oooh... sorry, of course, also the opposition.
"do we have to consult anyone?" tayyib effendi challenged in a rather rude tone and manner during an open air rally in afyon (**)
c. he then clarified that if and when a move was to be made in writing, then they would consult whomever they should...

oh logic! thou arst perhaps the maker but certainly the breaker of man and men!

let us consider:
1. so it is alright not to feel bound by your word, unless you commit yourself to pen and paper? suppose your "verbal" bid is accepted and acted upon by your counterparts and after consultations, you find out that the generals or the belligerent republicans won't let you "give cyprus away"...
are you going to say "sorry, we were just shooting the cloaca anyway, you know," and walk away?
no wonder the europeans insisted on conducting the bargains in writing, in the first place.

2. ex post facto consultation - it does sound like "diagnosis at the autopsy" - is a good way of exchanging ideas that cannot be put in practice. then why bother? "consult" is just one verb. there are other useful ones like "inform", "discuss", "extrapolate" etc... even "ask for permission".

3. or may it be the fact that the defiant and boorish challenge "do we have to consult anyone?" is mainly directed at the president's plaintive statement to the press that he was not informed, rather than the military staff who would not brook such demurral?

the bane of oriental cunning is its ability to destroy any spark of wisdom by depriving it totally of rationality. that lack of a sense of proportion is born of an often pathetic obeisance to the status quo and is enacted through an attempt toward revolutionary metamorphosis while desperately refusing to let go of the extant. the incompatibility with rationality stems from the fact that the "extant" has stopped being viable by any logic except its own, and an adaptive step away from it is mandatory for adaptation. therefore, oriental cunning is always half measures... you propose a verbal solution; you believe in ex post facto consultation; you threaten you won't play any more although the game is your only chance of succeeding; you try to sneak behind the powers that be, i.e. the military, before they get wise to you etc. and in that pattern lies the summary of oriental history.

time for a footnote to history: the medieval paranthesis between the 8th-14th centuries a.d. was not as marked by a preponderance of flourishing islam in science and technics as tradition has it. at the time, western mediterranean and its trans-alpine hinterland were invaded by nordigs in the process of civilization (***) and suffering another break in a millenia long procession of higher culture(s). the competition in the east was ostensibly between the cross and the crescent but was essentially waged within its own anti-mathematical, metaphysical oriental system of logic centered in an all powerful, all pervasive, imperial state structure that was true for both (orthodox) christians and muslims.

the so-called scientific and technological superiority of "islam" was a syro-phoenician legacy that belonged more to the lands it conquered which also found its way to constantinopolis, forever the true capital of the orient. that font of knowledge was put to use for the welfare and well being of the state .

the fall of the abbasid, byzantium, ottoman etc. empires was equally precipitated when wisdom and rationality, along with science and technics as well as fine arts, were not so much abolished as limited to the extent the power structure needed knowledge for statecraft. liberal, unchecked knowledge always poses a threat to rigid structures because it has a tendency for overflowing containment. therefore, rationality and science have been props for the far freer, far less centrally controlled, bourgeois form(s) of power.

the perennial peril is now pressing , the most conservative and lethargic heir to the tradition, turkey either to break cover and run toward what civilized through rationality and knowledge, or to cower and yearn for the nostalgic but possibly mythical golden age of islami-cum-oriental superiority.

(*) literally master, used as a form of address similar to mr., shorthand for master again. it was abandoned in the early turkish republic because it implied class differences and came to be reserved for the rather old fashioned, traditionalist gentlemen who had difficulty in understanding and accomodating the modern.
(**) normally, i zap the tv whenever i see tayyib effendi's rather handsome visage on the box, i find his rhetorical style and delivery an insult on rationality. this once, it was the first item on the news and i was making tea.
(***) becoming people of the civitas, cities that inherited greco-roman cultural residues - rather than nomadic barbarians with no need fro civilization

rot in a special hell!

augusto pinochet is dead. the world is a better place. sorry for hell!!!

he died and chile, too, now has to carry that blemish, the scarlet letter smeared on all those societies which have failed to bring to trial those who stole their freedoms, stripped them of their individuality, dignity, honor and decency; tortured them, tormented them, derided them, ridiculed them and ruled them much as a shepherd woul lead around a herd of sheep.

they were the ones who usurped the trust vested in them by the peoples of those societies, who empowered them with the guns they paid for with their taxes who made (or could not help make) the mistake of believing they were feeding their armies for their protection yet were shot, maimed and killed with the very guns, often purchased from the u.s., they had paid for.

an even larger, a deeper scarlet letter of shame shines on the lapel of the american establishment, for breeding, feeding and like shakespeare's dogs of war, letting loose the pinochets of this world.

there should be a special hell for pinochet and his ilk. a part not even dante would be willing to describe.

hail greece, therefore, once more... for having the courage to put to trial, convict and punish the wayward servants of society who usurped the power they were trusted with only to carry it, who stole the freedom of their brethren. an abject lesson for others who might try, unfortunately, not very well learnt everywhere. even in neighborly climes.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

the "bald" end of an era?

yesterday was a fast moving day in ankara - turkey proposed to open two ports to south cypriot vessels without any conditions and suggested that an airfield (and perhaps other gates of entry) will also be opened in return, if an international status is accorded to (the only civilian) ercan airport in nicosia and a lift of the de facto trade bans on north cyprus. so far, there seems to be little opposition to turkey's gambit, except by nicosia, which is, well, "normal". for the first time since 1974, the greek administration of cyprus is really in a tight spot. previously, they were jerry the mouse chased by tom the cat who eventually did something undoable and ended up on his behind. now the cat has got the mouse by the short whiskers.

whether the cyprus government accepts, counter bids or rejects the turkish proposal, reportedly prepared by foreign minister a. gül, the move ends a period of turkish politicks based on stalactic lethargy: let things keep slipping, dropping and accumulating, nothing done, nothing lost, nothing doing.

for over 30 years not only turkish international and national politics but also the country's social an cultural life was mortgaged by the last, final and ultimate turkish - moslem conquest in cyprus. setting a step back was treason, a suggestion of a solution an insult to national interests, critique of state policy cause for ostracism. we thought the army had landed in 1974 as guarantors, to save the cypriot turks from the atrocities of their greek neighbors who, at that time, were busy putsching each other out of power. then events developed so that ankara began mumbling about "jeopardy of strategic interests" in case of land concessions on the island.

cyprus stopped being a political case but was adopted as a national cause when ecevit literally walked out of government in early 1975. from then on, it acquired the status of a taboo where the state's views and policy was not open to debate. the state, as always in turkey, included governments only as an accessory that was temporary, and mainly consisted of the military, diplomatic and other bureaucratic elite categories which were/are the permanent pillars of the republic. the massively un-read public, too, found a cause to satisfy its manifestly macho ego in cyprus, the last conquest.

even yesterday, when all stones in the wall started shaking and rolling, the good ole (a euphemism for archaic, actually) republican peoples party and its eternal leader d. baykal roared their opposition to the gül proposal. the military chief of staff protested that he was not briefed about the plan - he of course, assumes first say as the head of the conquering army and the guardian forces on the island. the rpp complained that president a.n. sezer was not informed of the move either. now, whether the government wishes to let others know of its intentions and acts is a matter of political courtesy or expedient, not a constitutional obligation. according to the constitution, the government is the sole responsible party, the president is just the nominal head and there is not an inkling, even in the 1982 constitution made by the putsching military to the effect that the permission of the armed forces is required for determining government policy.

strategy?... mmm... now that is critical. does strategy mean plenty of formerly greek holdings confiscated by turks becoming a legal matter? casinos? money laundering? some 80 off-shore banks for a population of just 80 thousand? rampant corruption that can be signified in a 16 kilometer highway that cost slightly more than the alpine channel? almost european level luxury and quality of life (compared to turkey) in cyprus, in return for zero economic productivity? moaning about sanctions and embargoes but not being able or "allowed" to export your goods to turkey? these are all events i either observed or heard first hand, by the way, and not even the skim on the surface.

for more than 30 years, cypriot turkish leader mr. rauf denktash was the person who determined not only the island's fate but the fate of the turkish republic. he practically indexed turkey's entire global existence to the cyprus problem. he practically dictated turkey's foreign policy. every possible attempt at solution was aborted by some maneouver that mr. denktash was influential, whether in cohort with mr. necmettin erbakan (the ultra religious sensei of r.t. erdoğan the premier and the co-conqueror of cyprus with ecevit), the ultra light grey wolves, who surprisingly, appeared under every stone turned in cyprus after the scandalous web of filth somewhat surfaced with the susurluk accident or anyone available. he came to be nick named ""!

personally, i met mr. denktash a few times, he even made coffee for me with his own hands! i admire him as a person, his joviality, his intelligence, his devotion, his determination and his political dexterity. he is of that league of high scale manipulators as his eminence ignatio loyola, count metternich or prof. kissinger, who could stop and change the course history was flowing in. unfortunately, most of the times, such cases are fought over wrong causes and yield more pain and sorrow than deliverance. again, unfortunately for mr. denktash, he was the leader of a small community on a small island which only concerned small agents with small effect in a small corner of the world.

had he been performing his life's doings in the service of the monarch of britain in the mid 19th century, with the same aplomb and mastery, we could be seeing his bald head committed to posterity in statues that adorned the whole domain of the kingdom, even maybe including cyprus, which was the queen's until 1960.

so we may really be looking at/toward the bold end of a bald era.

p.s. - i am quite bald, too, so try not to read unintended insults i,nto words please.


i am an ignoramus! i posted a comment on a comment on my own blog. guess i must apologize
not 10 minutes since the reuters report on the ports and the agencies say the stock market has already surged in the hope of a reconciliation with the e.u.! so it's already a boost for the wallets. may expectations also rise for more crowded beds!!!

by the way, mehmet altan's column reminded me that until 1998 the turkish ports were open to south cypriot sea traffic.
sabah, one of the country's major mainstream dailies reported(*) negotiations are underway between turkey/turks and the internationally recognized "official" government of cyprus for making at least one turkish seaport and an airport available to the access of south cypriot craft in return for aggreeing to open an airport in north cyprus and the seaport of famagusta to international traffic.

as a witness to the so called "peace operation"/intervention/invasion etc. in cyprus and having born every brunt of the cyprus crisis for 35 years, i am naturally disposed toward pessimism. however, if an accord of some sort is reached on the ports issue, it will be one of the greatest breakthroughs in turkey's octagenerian history.

under pain of being boring by belaboring the obvious, cyprus is and has been for half a century, the humpback on turkey's back. the country suffered not only serious economic retardation, alienation (even from the third) world and a military coup (**), it left an alarming portion of the population psychologically insecure about what being a turk means, so that every act to which some collective "sense" can be attached has come to be conceived as a test, a trial, a challenge - from football meets to e.u. negotiations or bedding a western tourist.

since such insecurity born of an essentially absurd reason only breeds more insecurity even with each precarious achievement, turkey's inevitable and progressive integration with the world has become a traumatic off-road track as ups were followed by more ups which went on down steep precipices. "conceding" something on any issue, but especially in cyprus has become synonymous with some sort of castration in this collective pathology.

if a deal can be reached on opening the ports, there is the chance that turks will see the most precious part of their anatomy still hangs there and on top, trade with cyprus, whose economic indices far outpass not only turkey but also greece, may bring not only political relief but also a large healthy breath for individuals' pockets...

and who knows, maybe new partners to bed, too...
(*) via reuters, which based its own story on a finnish tv newscast
(**) at least indirectly related to the events precipitated when policy festered into crises (note plural pls.)

Saturday, December 02, 2006

enis berberoğlu

watch out for enis berberoğlu, the ankara representative of hürriyet.

berberoğlu is an alumni of some of the best schools in turkey, a career journalist, a no-nonsense economy writer and editor, a clinically precise analyst of social affairs, a first rate crime reporter and a knowledgeable commentator about what is currently happening in turkey.

i first noticed him during his coverage of the susurluk scandal 10 years ago, where the officials of the turkish state apparatus, with political sanction, were revealed to be in the throes of a tangled web of illegal afffairs and acts. berberoğlu, in fact, dug deeper into the mess and hit more pay dirt than a special parliament committee could .

he is of that genre of columnists who rather than rave as typical of turkish "corner writers", interpret what is news, so he is one of those rare birds in the turkish press, a news analyst.

at one time, possibly over the sacking of his wife, he quit hürriyet and went to radikal, to return some while ago. this can be read as beberoğlu having a good pull within the doğan media holding, enough to claim a fief against ertuğrul özkök, who is more office (and politicking) strategist than a journalist.

the only snag is that enis berberoğlu seems to be prone to catch the virus that oft plagues ankara journalists, top and bottom, the powerbrokering maker-breaker syndrome that like a fungus, sprouts on a presumption of omnipotence and omniscience. despite his probably strong immune system, berberoğlu occasionally appears to show the symptoms, though it would be unfair to declare him sick as yet.

if he puts his potential to it and of course if he is given free rein to do journalism instead of public relations for the boss and his gang, enis berberoğlu may be the man to lift the turkish media from the pathetic pit it is wobbling in, happier than hogs. he is the man who can redefine journalism in turkey.

yes, i acknowledge his capability, ability and potential but would i bet money on his success? no, not until the eu intervenes in the turkish media or a whole large chunk of western (not merely "foreign") capital hits the sector like a lightning.

apology to tayyib bey

i owe an apology to prime minister mr. receb tayyib erdoğan.

i speculated that due to his lacking language skills and ability of (mis)understanding and (mis)representing any communication as it fits him, the pope or the holy see might have to correct him on his rather happy declaration "the pope wants turkey to join the european union" as another expedient slip of the interpreter/interpretation/ ear/tongue.

i apologize. first to the readers of this blog, then to the pm.

and i thank the pope - i confess that after johannes paulus 2 passed away, my heart was with the cardinal of milan rather than the-then his eminence ratzinger. i'd still prefer the pope, the father of the catholic, to also be somewhat avuncular, however, i think in istanbul his holiness benedictus 16 did prove himself a man of the world as well as a man of god.

the pope related postings here will go on and i'll also tell you why o kyrios bartholomeos 1, the patriarch of the orthodox, is the subtlest, greatest, ablest politician in turkey. a man all but openly persecuted by the state of his own country, with only the dubious support of his own clerical high command and able, if that, to reach directly only 12 million of his 250 million strong orthodox following, he placed himself on an equal footing with the pope after this visit.

the pope is father to 1.5 billion catholics, and believe you me, at least some quarter of a billion protestants as well, who though they may reject him are still influenced and determined by him.
also, by my humble assessment, congratulations must be bestowed on pope benedictus 16 for showin g the ultimate courage of sanctifying the equation 1=20 in asymmetric demographics in the name of establishing the primacy of the cross, regardless of denomination. he was aware
the union of eastern and western churches will never come about in the near future but did not hesitate to put fanar on an identical footing with the vatican in the eyes of the world(*).

read all about it here...

(*) since the council of florence, the holy see honors the aggreement signed there that the eastern patriarchate is subordinate to the holy see. although accepted by the patriarch and the emperor, the orthodox clergy and laiety never put stock in it.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

mamma mia! we were hating the pope only yesterday. we held crowded meetings to protest his visit. we were cold shouldering him for saying that turkey did not constitute a part of europe or for quoting a millenium old statement by a loooooong dead emperor about mohammad who was and felt threatened by his armies.

for about a week, the media reported how the turkish government officials, including the premier and the foreign minister, were shunning a meeting his holiness benedictus 16, trying to put a wedge between the spiritual leader of one and a half billion catholics and their muslim piety. every day, some article or commentary was openly critical of the visit. even the security of the pope was made into a debatable issue. an idiot could read between the lines and photo captions and realize that the pope was not as exactly welcome as even president bush was.

and the islamists' rally on sunday... first, it must be said that moderate or hardline, the entire pious press was laudatory about the protest and the size of the crowd it mustered. all tv channels and all newspapers showed sights very similar to those in other islamic geographies where hordes dressed in chadors, head covers, long baggy trousers, wearing caps, beards and buttoned-to the top chemises, chanting "god is great" (allah u akbar) and singing praise to osama bin ladin and similar persons of grand valor protesting the pope's arrival, in fact, quite contrary to the myth of the much bragged about turkish hospitality, inviting him not to come.

now look at the turkish press. hurriyet brazenly claims that by reporting all that they have been reporting these days, the "western media" is adopting a "biased and prejudiced attitude toward turkey".

and suddenly all roses have bloomed - the pope has endorsed turkey's accession to the european union. who says the pope sanctifies turkey's eu identification? premier tayyip erdoğan!

do not be surprised, if you ask me, should vatican delicately deny such a statement by his holiness (who happens to be skeptical about turks' european identification). turkey's prime minister is not very fluent in other languages.

Monday, November 27, 2006

oh, about the "meeting of civilizations"... for some unfathomable reason, turkey's present political "rulers" have, out of the blue, assumed the mantle of spokesmanship for the "islamic" world, or what they presume to be islam. regardless of the fact that islam is not or has never been a homogeneous, monolithic entity but its practice has ever depended on different, sometimes conflicting hermeneuses of the qur'an, they have rhetoricized a concept of the religion that encompasses a sizable chumk of the globe with the plethora of the experiences it consists of and posited an "islamic civilization" as opposed (supposedly) to a "christian civilization"... oh yes, one, single, unanimous civilization that extends as comprehensively to norway, bolivia and the phillipines, of christianity which is only slightly less divided into sects than polytheist paganisms.

first, a civilization is not definable by religion. the greatest civilization in the known history of the earth, the hellenophonic eastern mediterranean civilization was neither "zeutic" nor olympian.

so, if you think you can challenge modernity in any way, first, at least concede its primary rule of pluralism and act civilized toward it: be ready to discuss and accept.

"ignorant and insidious pope, do not come!" - that was the slogan of the rally convened by erbakan's political heirs and apparently was able to draw a mentionable crowd.

a pope cannot be ignorant, he is far more well and harshly trained than any moslem clergy and especially any state official who heads turkey's only dubiously secular directorate general of religious (read that exclusively as sunni muslim) affairs.

to say nothing about common decency, courtesy and hospitality.

oh yes... civilization is not religion, though it encompasses faiths. nor is it a preconceived set of behavioral or visual stencils. to summarize, it is basically a conviction that "we" possess a "good" style of mind and life which can maintain our network of collective relationships, our structure and norms of existence in a state of flexibility that can respond to arising challenges adaptively.

show that you are civilized, that you can adapt before you apostolize yourself.

p.s. - "adaptive" is not necessarily synonymous with conformism or compromise.
one word on turkey's long, narrow, winding and treacherous trek toward and away from the european union:

a very simple act, one required anyway by the aggreements ankara has signed, dictated by logis and a prerogative of democracy is enough to postpone the hairy issue of practically recognizing the internationally accepted government of cyprus: open the clerical school in halki (heybeliada), fully restore the holdings, titles, rights of the organizations and individuals legally recognized as minority turkish citizens in lausanne and declare that what remains of jews, armenians rums assyrians, chaldeans, nestorians, zaraostrians, atheists and agnostics are fully enfranchized citizens of the republic of turkey.

is that not, in the rhetoric of the last 35 years, what lay beneath the military intervention in cyprus, the discrimination turks were subjected to?

you do not like the pope? slip one over him, give bartholomeos 1 the power he needs.

after all he is a citizen of the republic of turkey!!! do not spare from one of yours what can empower you.

to be cont'd

garfucius will continue commenting on the pope's visit

turk is better than the pope

my buddy john karkazis of the panepistemiou aegeo views the pope's visit as a latter day gambit by the holy see to devour the shrunken orthodox church into the bigger belly of the vatican. the current pope, as every single other pope since the 4th century, thrives on the hope of uniting christianity! quite a few councils have convened to bring about a reunion of orthodox and catholic christianity since the great schism over the filioque issue, namely, whether the spritus sancti proceeds from both god the father and jesus the son, or just from the father.

the last, and possibliy saddest, of all those councils convened in firenze in 1439. after long debates, mostly left over from two previous councils in italy, the issue was almost resolved, constantinopolis even agreed to concede the primacy of the pope and the latins promised military aid to byzantium besieged by the ottomans. however, although the byzantine emperor favored the aggreement drawn in firenze, the orthodox bishops and the people, already hating the catholics for their two century rampage and pillage of the eastern lands during the last crusade that ended in constantinopolis, had little trust left in store for the latins: "better the turk's turban than the pope's tiara"...

no trouble reading between the lines of history: the byzantine church buckled before Eugene IV, the then pope, because its true leader was not the patriarch but the emperor himself. his throne threatened terminally by turks, he turned to the latins and was promised the backing he asked for in return for the concessions. however, by then the emperor had already lost the support of his own people and the clergy and the deal fell through.

in fact, it is naive to assume that christianity was divided because of an essentially unresolvable issue of whether it is the father alone that generates the holy spirit or the father and the son together. back when constantine was erecting his oriental despotic eastern roman empire he needed to appropriate religion to legitimate his own total power. he hardly could afford to appeal to another authority, namely, the pope, to ask divine approval for his politics.

meanwhile, if europe eventually evolved into a secular, lay form of christianity, it was because from the start, divine and worldly power was effectively divided between the holy see and the princes scattered over the continent, jealously protecting their authority within their fiefs. there never emerged a comprehensive total power in feudal europe comparable to the mediterranean empires that could centralize authority, and appropriate the papacy into schemes of holy justification. the closest was spain of the habsburgs, a quasi-oriental state. and such was its abuse of jesus's teaching that in the lay mind, the atrocities of the spanish inquisition are still blamed on the much more lenient catholic inquisition practiced by the holy see.

oh... do i hear someone say "what about carolus magnus, the holy roman empire of the germans?"who am i to contradict voltaire "it is not holy, it is not roman and it certainly is not an empire"...

pope benedictus the 16 does unequivocally desire to unite the christian churches under the holy see, a very legitimate wish for the leader of the largest religious population and organization in the world. however, if eugene 4 could not pry orthodoxy from the claws of the ottomans, there seems to be no his current german successor can sway o kyrio bartholomeos 1 over the way of the vatican when turkey has come to the verge of admitting, if not accepting and incorporating, the presence (not existence, please!) of the orthodox church.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

political adolescence

prof. dr. atilla yayla was suspended from his teaching assignment at the gazi university of ankara because during a meeting organized by the ruling akp, he allegedly was "unduly" critical of atatürk, turkey's founder, his reforms and kemalists, who rather than his followers, give the impression they are his idolatrists and ierocrats.

in any civilized country, yayla's comments would be, at best, insignificant. here, they cost him his job, or at least his teaching mission, and put him in possible jeopardy in case he dares walk in public and a hot head decides to teach him his lesson, maybe with weapons or clubs!

this type of collective sociopathic sycophancy, the malaise of treading the official (in the early 50's it would probably be called the authoriatarian) line of discourse is turkey's bane that will never go away. we think freedom of thought and expression is only limited to ideas and utterances that are not too incompatible with ours.

or, you are free to do what you want as long you want what we want you to want.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

irritative comments

the homily “one picture is worth a thousand words” denotes, at best, a gross inability to abstract from the eidetic.

dangerous thoughts

enigma is the best inspiration for souls in search of a faith.

Monday, November 20, 2006

world peace

i have assigned the first chapter of albert camus's the rebel (l'homme revolte - though that sounds like "the revolting man" in english) as compulsory reading for sophomore students in the "communication and politics" class. the chapter asks the crucial question "who is a rebel?" and gives the essential answer: someone who says no... the rest of the long essay argues that it is what a man says yes to that determines the nature of rebellion and the definition of rebel, basically pirouetting around the idea that the rebel is one who says no and that's it!

i came accross a few do-gooder, bleeding heart declarations over the weekend, part of the inescapable, involuntarily encountered junk-info flux. one about abuse of women and children said a (thankfully, not the at least) root cause of family violence was poverty, ignorance and the assorted aetiologia and urged that these social ills be remedied. wow! what an insight!

they could be repeating that illuminative diagnosis till every wife & child is bled to death by demonic males...

violence is very satisfactory and often productive (instrumental) for the powerful. that functionality makes it desirable in addition to the psychological and psychopathological perks it offers.

well, awright (arwight, if you're a ner yowkew), we say nay to violence, we're rebels.

come and stop it with truckloads of academic cloaca bovinus... or say what you say yeah to.

stupidity cannot stop violence but violence can stop stupidity - although they often run synomymously parallel courses.
pope benedictus xvi is slated to visit visit turkey "officially" tomorrow. since he is a "head of state", too, that is supposed to be an "official" state visit to president ahmet n. sezer but benedictus xvi is also coming as an invitee of his orthodox quasi-counterpart, patriarch bartholomeos 1.

if you ask me, o kyrios bartholomeos is the best and ablest politician alive in turkey - though that is for another posting. suffice now to say, this double invitiation also leads to a load of political double entendre. o kyrios bartholomeos is and has been a persistent headache in turkey's limited-scope global vision. he is the nominal head of the some 250 million orthodox christians, most of them living in russia and its ex-sovietic periphery, and slavs of the balkans numbering no less than 50 million. his "ecumenical" celestial authority is well recognized. however, his dubious presence and status in "secularly moslem" turkey has practically undermined his authority. there is an orthodox patriarch in russia since his sway over the steppes loosened in about the 18th century, greek ones in jerusalem, alexandria and the archdiocese in greece, in effective command also of the monastery in mt. athos, the breeding ground of the elite of the orthodox clergy, openly vies istanbul for supremacy, if not primacy. archbishop christodoulos is as opposed to o kyrios bartholomeos as turkey.

the pope's visit can be viewed as a tacit but very loud appeal to turkey to concede the presence of a non-moslem, particularly christian presence in the country and recognize its rights. as a matter of fact, vatican's spokesmen openly state that fact.

bartholomeos 1 is a turkish citizen. turks who go crazy with joy if one of their own plays in a major league european team somehow can find only grief and vexation that a turk comes to lead a quarter of a billion people and fail to find pride in that. worse, the state apparatchiks and inept politickers fail to see the power it affords.

turkey, though officially unspoken, is very much disturbed by the title "ecumenic" that the patriarch uses. traditionally, ecumenic is the sanctioned title that comes with the position and the way to address the patriarch. yet, whenever, especially a western official refers to o kyrios bartholomeos as such, displeasure reigns in ankara. a dive into the history of that psychology hints that the apprehension leads back to the ottoman heritage: first, turkey may be fearing that admitting the ecumenic status of the patriarchate will remind of istanbul's (and the marmara straits') prior ellenicophonic, byzantine past. this fear becomes more real when one remembers that the first break from the ottoman empire was the very orthodox greek state in 1829. then, the serbians had long been restive at the time the greek uprisal began and they were orthodox, too. throughout the 19th century, turkey kept losing its territorial holdings to russia in one form or another, who kept defeating turkey in war after war it entered under the pretext of being the guardian of the orthodox christians under muslim rule. naturally, wary of russian progress, the states of the west moved in to take the christian ottomans under their auspicious wings as well.
the result was a terminally dissolved empire...

the above trek in time also outlines the very superficial and intellectually constipated crusade phobic interpretation of history in turkey - how christians flocked together like birds of a feather and wolfed down the wounded muslim ottomans greedily. they finally divided anatolia, expropriated istanbul and forced turkey to accept the conditions of the sévres treaty - albeit, at the end of an extremely unnecessary war which turkey joined voluntarily, fought alongside very christian germans and austrians and their allies and lost.

the dark shadow of sévres, the ultimate territorial degradation and political humiliation of the ottomans is still reflected in the turkish psyche - so much so that the world wide leadership of a turkish citizen in the spiritual world and the recognition of a christian presence in the country that immensely outweighs the remaining 1500 or so turkish orthodox christians is instantly translated into fears of loss and deprivation.

an(other) oriental malady looms here, that of avoiding what you do not want to hear at the risk of undergoing what you don't want to happen in your life!

achtung! conjugality may be hazardous to human health

just to set the record straight, in case someone reading the title below mis-thinks i get dewy eyed speaking of marriage - there can't be no wedding in heaven as there can be no better hell than matrimony itself.

wedding in heaven

well, it wasn't exactly a 'rainy day, dream away' sort of sunday but the weather was fouler than the whole week and now monday, during the weekend. according to, we're doing fine in istanbul until this thursday, but lots of wet after that. it's difficult to predict weather accurately for more than three days but this weekend is supposed to be showers all around and sunshine sprinkled in between.
maybe even a couple rainbows.
when rain and sun come simultaneously, turks (used to) say "there's a wedding in heaven".

Thursday, November 16, 2006

delusions of grandeur?

what is it with politicians that once they set their bottoms on the throne, they imagine themselves to be omniscient? i almost never read about or listen to what a pm, minister, party leader or spokesman says but since inevitably i get to hear or glimpse at their shining bits of eternal wisdom. invariably and always inversely proportional to their learning, they think they know or must know or have to know everything under the sun. the late ecevit loved to make a show of his extensive grasp of life, even when it came to technical and non-verbal matters (including economy) in which he was grossly unversed. he was unaware that kw and kwa were different concepts. suleyman demirel, who probably was the most intelligent "leader" turkey saw in the last half century, had something to say about everything too. at a press conference once, he used such a sentence that made it obvious he did not know "weimar" was not a person but a place in germany (at the time, ecevit had tried to capitalize on that, just as demirel had when ecevit openly confused electrical measurements). the putsch president kenan evren could talk with equanimity and authority about all, from rocket science to islamic theology. tansu ciller probably did not even know zilch about economy of which she was a somehow a professor, but had an encyclopedic collection of know-it-all-mistakes, i.e. her statements were a perfect anthology of "how not to..."
why did i write this? the current premier of turkey, a grad of the school of theology, raised to become an imam, is another in that genre of politicos who is in love with hearing his voice. and true to type, he has become a master of disquisition on almost everything in life, without necessarily listening to his own words. yesterday he declared that obesity is a problem of modern life: not just his usual aversion to modernity showing its freudian slip, but he probably would not know the etymological relationship between calory and heat either.
the common denominator here? temptation to show off, knowing no matter what nonsense you speak nobody can dare tell you to shut up? ecevit, the high school grad, demirel the self made village boy, tayyip erdogan the success story of the religious conservative banlieu?
maybe it's ... stately knowledge and wisdom acquired by osmosis, sitting on the "throne"?

come to think of it, prof. erdal inönü, an aristocrat by turkish standards as they come, was the least longwinded politician - and he often made sense too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

blogging is serious. one must avoid mental diarrhea. but speaking of istanbul (and turkish, and 3rd world) traffic the bowels of one's mind inevitably churn.

traffic mess is only as inevitable as stupidity.

it's always sunny in... where?

hmmmm. this blogging is serious. it feels like yelling in the woods while trekking alone but knowing that not only the campers behind the bush can hear you but also the echoes can carry your voice and words yonder. yell all you like but try to find matters of interest to other people.

then let's talk weather. i follow it closely because being a mediterranean bum, i am deeply affected by rain, cold, sun, warmth - weather also sometimes decides whether i ride or drive to work. especially in istanbul's knotty traffic, that means peace of mind versus a test of patience which, to any bum, is in short supply. even on the motorbike, sometimes i feel fumes coming out of my ears.

never mind traffic now, it is weather i am hung up with: did you notice that even when during weekdays we get sunshine, weekends are usually wet, cold or plain crappy? we're either homebound or sopping wet by act of providence...

Monday, November 13, 2006

(in)famous quotes

"no, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical." Niels Bohr to A. Einstein

garfucius say...

once there used to be opinionated cusses - in this age of linearization, now even cusses are opinionless.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


i always believed there exist more than one america. one - not necessarily the important one - that vast "piece of land lying between manhattan and california", as bart simpson described it in the tv show and another in what he left out. that cartographic distinction actually reflects the two sides of the u.s. of a.; the global and the local. only a quarter of america's huge economic output is generated on a worldwide scale. a large portion of the country faces inward, rolling the engine of an intraverted economy and a hardly introspective culture of local tints. still wonder why detroit lost to japan? or being fat (no! i won't say obesity!) is a priority social problem?

it was the local america whose balances were challenged by the far more global/international/ transnational dynamics of clinton that elected bush-ism to bolster the inwardly oriented life style and do some house cleaning and setting before globality struck home. however, thumped by 9/11 soon after, the house got only messier. thanks to kerry and the incredible incompetence of the demmies, W remained in charge.

no, america has not unified its two separate facets, that is not why the demmy donkey thumped the elephant now. those troops who die in iraq, they are also overwhelmingly the sons (and daughters, where applies) of the biiiiiiiiig, america with eyes only for itself. this vote is not just an unspoken but loud plea to bring the boys home but also one that demands a new way, a new methodology of relating to the big, bad, hostile world out there. democrat victory depending on a 40 percent participation implies the republicans mostly stayed home.

well i know this is a rather superficial approach to a complicated question but we're doing a blog right? not a science paper. for now, the win puts the democrats ahead in the game of politics, maybe, but not the political game itself. the matter, the concern at the heart of things is not so much winning the war than it is winning the world to a fairly common cause championed by america. anything less is bound to leave the affairs in a mess.

anybody know how far extends the democratic vision ocularis politicus mundus? especially in a world still commanded (commandeered?) by W?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

de mortuis, nil nisi bonum

m. bülent ecevit is "officially" dead now. may god(s) judge him fairly - as we mortals are apparently incapable of it. i saw (on tv, betwixt zaps) this morning how turkey's premier lauded him and i am willing to bet precious parts of my anatomy there was never any love lost between them.
anyway ecevit was loooooooong dead, back in the 1979 by-elections, but this being a political paradise of zombie-ism, he lasted until he was undertaken for good by what should faaaaaaaar longer have been buried. leaving sycophancies of politico-elegism aside, let's take a look at (some of) his career achievements:
*acquired fame as the man who initiated the labor union / organziation, strike / lock out laws in the history of turkish labor. but what labor? at the time, numerically, about 90 out of 100 factories were state owned. the state produced 90 percent of industrial output and employed an outrageous portion of the work force, meaning about 1.8 people did the work of about 0.8 (do not take these stats literally but the coefficient of exaggeration will be staggeringly low if someone bothers to take a count)
hence, the state, the employer, forced itself to pay more to the "proleteriat", boosting its own enterpreneurial costs and establishing hitherto unprecedented credentials of economic productivity. however, that got ecevit votes from that new class of state-laborers who were now financially well above the traditional "owners" the state "fonctionairs", the "bureaucrats" the "memurin" who saw themselves as superior since they were generally "okumuş" (diplomé, schooled).
the labor movement? in the late 60's and the beginning of the 70's the pro commie DISK made its debut in opposition to the TURK-İŞ confederation which practically owned the state laborers, and targeted the privately owned industries - 1971, the military took over, 1973, DISK was effectively but not terminally emasculated. during the blood washed latter 70's DISK declared itself the "belligerent organization of the working class" and the end came on 9/12 1980. labor was surgically aborted from the political equation in turkey.
* when the military launched their "coup by communique" in 1971 (march 12) ecevit declared he was the target. he owned up the lukewarm left-of-center etatism of the republican peoples party (RPP), wrapped it in a vague aura of peronism, corporatism, populism and the like that eventually proved disastrous to the country and rechristened it the democratic left. his post 1983 anti-RPP, family size political affair derives its name from those times. however, the patchwork leftism of the RPP thrice carried him to the throne - well, two and a half times actually. the outcome was unpoliticallycorrectably a catastrophe.
* kenan evren, the strongman of the 1981 coup-proper (nothing in pen and paper abut it, that putsch communicated with bayonet and blood ) said ecevit was a brave man who dared land in cyprus. he also said he was sorry he had sent him to prison in after the takeover. when ecevit landed on the island, everyone of sound sense had expected turkey to withdraw from part of the controlled territory in return for a just settlement. but the politically smart ecevit, hailed then as the conqueror of cyprus (though he always denied this title, albeit, coyly) hoped to translate his charisma into votes and called for early polls. his partner in government, necmettin erbakan (for those who may not know/remember, he happens to be tayyip bey's sensei in politics) yelled wolf: "ecevit is giving cyprus, taken by martyr's blood, back to the greek!!!". down the drain, a settlement; no hero brave enough to bite that bait. after a few weeks, ecevit who resigned from the coalition, refused to continue as caretaker premier and practically walked out, leaving the seat empty. now that must need courage! when ecevit climbed to power, turkey had a reserve of $ 2 bn - a huge sum by the standards of 1974. in one year, the balance was $ minus 2bn.
oh, evren... few months before he was to step down in early 1983 after the elections, denktaş declared the turkish republic of north cyprus. another gift by the strongman to our democracy.
well, i am not sure but i think i heard evren (on habertürk tv) saying he was sorry he sent ecevit to be held in "yassıada". that is actually, the island near istanbul where the democrat party was tried after the 1960 coup d'etat.
* in the mid-70's, heydays of ecevit's popularity after cyprus, he used to tell local and foreign interviewers who asked him about his poetry: "well, every politician has to have a hobby to pass his time when his days in politics are over. an overgrown politician becomes comical, they must quit and deal with other occupations. my poetry will help me in retirement days because i plan to quit before i get old". to my knowledge, he did quit, he did not write one poem in about a quarter of a century.
* nil nisi bonum? is that why (at least in the orient) history, which meant inquiry in greek becomes complete historia (story, tale in latin) ?
* i am never one to interfere with celestial affairs but in case heavenly auteurs decide to judge ecevit, may them know mea culpa, tua culpa, sua culpa etc...

we acquiesced, did we not?


Monday, November 06, 2006

hi folks

weird though it may sound i find myself in the virtual world, like a spook in the world of shadows. i don't really know what this blog, if at all, will or can turn into but erkan and burcu (what? ye don' know em? well they are my official and unofficial assistants and they insisted i start this gagamazzooo!) say i should have a page to publicize my unpublished or long published wisdom and ravings...

so help us all, oh god(s) of words and blabber

gbi (that's my initials)