Saturday, October 30, 2010


One thing that expats will have to adjust to if they come to Turkey is the general lack of punctuality. In the beginning, it used to make me furious. Friends, who in every other aspect, seemed like kind, thoughtful, and caring people, would think nothing of having you wait for 40 minutes for them some place. Their excuses were usually lame, at best, but nonsensical is the standard fare. Forget trying to reform them. Forget trying to be rational or patient or providing them with an ideal model. Nothing will change this attitude. Really.

Example: Waiting for my friend at a minibus stop for almost an hour. I tried calling. No answer. This isn't the first time, I whisper to myself, try to relax. But it's like trying to ignore an aching tooth. Finally, she (who shall remain nameless) shows up, with a pretense of being flustered. "What happened? Where the hell were you?" I ask, veins shivering all over the side of my forehead. "I had to dry my hair. If I don't dry my hair after washing it.. I'll get a headache." We were going to the beach.

In the end, take my advice. Get used to it. There's no sense in making your hair gray and filling your pretty little face with wrinkles. They are NOT going to change. Your time is obviously less valuable than theirs.

When you have an appointment, be sure to take a book with you. Have a fully charged MP3 player. Sudoku, if you are into that.  Tritely tell yourself to "go with the flow." You ain't going to be swimming upstream, so get over yourself.

Unlike back home, there's not a clock staring you in the face all the time. There isn't a bell chiming and chiding you for being 3 minutes late. And perhaps that's why you decided to leave home in the first place. To get away from all that stress. And you found a place where people are more relaxed where people are not running around from place to place in such a rush.. and suddenly Bitch Karma has come back and bit you in the butt.

And it isn't just an individual problem. This lack of  punctuality  pervades the whole society and it's also self-reinforcing. So, because the  city bus driver doesn't think being on time is a feature of his job, you will not be on time for your appointment. So maybe you will miss your interview for that life-changing job. Not to worry, because there's a 99.9 % chance the person who will be conducting your interview will also be late. Perhaps even later than you.

My sage observation on this subject is… If you are 20 minutes late for any appointment, please remain calm.  Because here, it still means you are about 15 minutes early.  

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Izmir from the Hills

A great view of my home city of Izmir, formerly known as Smyrna. (Zoom in as close as you wish and you can make out a lot of interesting details.) You can just make out on the opposite shore of the Bay of Izmir, the sister city of Karsiyaka. And to the extreme right, you can see the ancient citadel known as Kadifekale (literally "the velvet castle" in Turkish) on Mount Pagos.

Family Portrait

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Do NOT Try This At Home

Portable dans le Micro-onde Attention ceci est dangereux
Uploaded by DjFreakazoid. - Videos of the latest science discoveries and tech.

If you too have always dreamt of accidently opening a portal to hell and unleashing all its satanic life forms, this short clip gives all the details you'll need!  It is impossible to describe the feeling of accomplishment one feels after you've rendered your side of the planet permanently demon-infested, uninhabitable AND electricity-free.

Be sure to mention to King Lucifer you saw this DYI on Nomadic View and you will get a free pass to Asura and the Soul Eaters- Hade's Hottest Band!!

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Storm over Izmir

Izmir Storm

I've been waiting a week for the storms they promised. Today it finally came.

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Don't Ask Me… Just Trust Me


According to an article in the Huffington Post, "Nevada Senate candidate and Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle told a conservative radio host on Wednesday that when she is elected to office, she will reverse her now-longstanding policy of avoiding the political press."  

But not before.. unless your news organization is strongly conservative. And being a guest on Foxnews is like playing basketball with 4 year olds.

Even in the primaries, Angle began her "Don't Meet the Press" tactic, ducking out back and side doors to avoid reporters.

Voters must have serious doubts about any candidate afraid to answer questions before the election. This, however, seems to be the latest trend in Tea Party candidates this election to avoid the scrutiny of the press and using social networks like Twitter and Facebook to launch salvos at their opponents.

The reason for this strategy soon becomes apparent when Angle peeks her head over the embattlements. Here is an example.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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The Bert Punishment

Bert & ErnieA TEENAGER caught shoplifting in Virginia was made to dress up as a "Sesame Street" character for punishment.

Costume store owner Andrew Perry caught the 18-year-old but rather than calling the police, he made the unidentified teen dress as Bert - from Bert and Ernie - and carry a sign saying he was a shoplifter, the US ABC News reported.

Mr. Perry said he did not want to press charges, because a criminal record would have harmed the teen's future. The shoplifter, who said the punishment was an effective lesson, had to spend six hours over two days in costume with the sign in front of the store, according to reports.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ana Moura . Os Búzios

Ana Moura . Os Búzios
Uploaded by carrilho1391-70. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

Portugal's gift to music.

Escaped Croc Causes Crash

The African magazine, Jeune Afrique , claims that the cause of an August 25th plane crash which resulted in the death of 20 passengers was the escape of a smuggled crocodile. The magazine has reportedly interviewed the only survivor of the accident. According to the statement, passengers abroad the airliner panicked after the crocodile escaped from a duffel bag. This, in turn, caused the plane to become unstable and, despite the pilot's efforts, crash into a residential area. The passenger plane was  a routine domestic flight from the capital of Kinshasa to a regional airport in Bandundu.

British crash investigators are skeptical of the story but do not absolutely discount the survivor's claim. According to the MSNBC news story, the aircraft belonged to Filair, a private carrier, and was a Czech-made Let L-410 twin turboprop. Congo’s domestic air service consists mainly of badly maintained Soviet-era aircraft with a dismal safety history, according to media reports. Air crashes are common in the Central African country.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Secret of Finding What You Like

Isn't the Internet an incredible idea? I am seriously unsure whether I could exist without it. (Scary thought, isn't it?) It's like having an oracle in your home, ready to answer whatever questions that pop into your head. But sometimes it can also be like an annoying door-to-door salesman who can't get the message no matter how many times your slam the door in his face. With so much out there on the net, I often find it impossible to sort out the garbage from the treasures. It's like being lost in an immense library, flea market and cavernous trash bin.  I start out looking for thing and suddenly wake up as if from a hypnotic state, in some very different place.

However, lately I've been using a web browser add on called StumbleUpon. It's helpful, easy to install and best of all, it's free and "advert-less." Using this tool, I am able to set my entirely too random wandering along a general guide. For example, if I am suddenly (inexplicably) interested in ambient music, I can direct my Stumble Upon tool bar to scan the web for all the sites related to that subject and recommended by other explorers who have passed this way before me. There are hundreds (but not thousands) of interests to choose from so the range is fairly wide.

Unlike a search engine that should direct you to site based on specific information, Stumble Upon only gives you general choices based on your selected interests. After all, sometimes- most of the time, maybe- I am not certain what exactly I am looking for. So for example, if I'd like to see all the recommended sites regarding Food/Cooking (meaning I am probably hungry) then I chose that interest and automatically some site about food will magically appear. Maybe my eyes will bug out and start to drool or maybe I will click Stumble and begin a new search. And I can change my interests at any time or even add new interest. if somehow I have sorted through all the sites in one category. (I have yet to do this on any category by the way.)

On the opposite side, when you find a web site that you think is worthy of attention, then you, as a Stumbler, are obliged to add it to the recommended lists. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to see how this noble effort could be easily corrupted by unscrupulous advertisers, but at the moment, it seems to be working and fulfilling its original purpose.

Mind you, it will not lessen your Internet browsing time, if that's what you are looking for. If anything, I spend more time surfing but, at least, I am exploring more effectively. One warning: it will force you to organize your bookmark manager into thoughtful folders because you will quickly locate sites that you will want to return to over and over.

Anyway, try it for yourself and let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Found- Have a wonderful

Found online Magazine is an archive of notes and letters that have been discovered by strangers. I love the air of mystery behind each one. You can speculate all you want but the enigma remains. 

911 Math Emergency

Math Homework 911 Call sound clip
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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Splice- A Nomadic Review

Every now and then, you find yourself watching a film, thinking, "What a load of expensive horse manure." Total rubbish, embarrassing for all concerned. I mean, a person normally has much lower expectations when a film is less expensively-produced. (This might explain the appeal of some independent films, I suppose.)

But when a film's budget surpasses the GDP of many nations, you would think that something of value might emerge. When big name directors and A-list actors join in, you tend to think you will sit down to something worth your time and money.

Oh how innocent I can be sometimes.

With great reluctance, I now turn to Exhibit A. "Splice" stars Adrien (the Shonze) Brody and Sarah Polley, directed by Vincenzo Natali. In 2009, It was nominated at Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival in two categories, best director and best special effects.  (Stunning information that.)

Personally, I can't remember when I have seen such an  idiotic film as "Splice."  I could spend  the rest of the week trying to point out ALL the dumbness of the film,  the illogic of the plot and the crummy dialogue, but I won't bother. Well, okay, here's a little.

Basically, it is a rehash of the Frankenstein motif- which, as a plot line, has probably come to end of its natural life- even in our own unimaginative, sequel, prequel and remake culture. Man builds human-thingy. Makes God a tad peeved. God takes revenge by making human-thingy naughty. It's become like a corny joke your Uncle revels in telling every Christmas. A long joke with a lot of description. The film uses the "hot" topic of tinkering with DNA and trans-genetic mumbo-jumbo in a poor attempt to revive this dead creature.

Two rebel (according to the studio's synopsis, anyway) scientists break the lab rules and, when Mom's out shopping, decide to cook up a "special" recipe, using a dash of this and a pinch of that. They plunk it in the food processor, baste it with some human chromosomes (a little bit of me, a little bit of you), spurt it into a artificial uterus and wait. Nothing says lovin' like something from the oven- except in this case. They don't have to wait as long as a real baby ( thankfully) before they see the error of their arrogant ways. Believe it or not, there is even the Jackass-type cow fertilization scene when Rebel Scientist A tries to pull thingy out of the phony uterus, while Rebel Scientist B runs about, flapping her arms and screaming. (My eyes rolled so many times, I was afraid they might stick in the roof my eye holes and I would have to be led home with a trained dog.) 

SPLICE: Movie Trailer. Watch more top selected videos about: Splice, Delphine Chaneac

Anyway, it is eventually yanked out- pardon, born- and proceeds to scurry about the lab in a scene stolen directly from Aliens. Think very undercooked chicken fricassee on steroids. Scary.. no. Ugly, yes rather. Well, actually it looks like a baby ostrich with a very heavy head.. but.. no, those eyes are human. Hands where the feet should be and.. its legs fold backward sort of.( One look at her/ it prancing around the room and the arches in my feet began to cramp.) Oh, yeah, she/ It has a long tail with a scorpion stinger, tends to lift up the back of her skirt from time to time like a bad practical joke. Basically, as far as creatures go, it's a mess. Over time, it/ she does start to bear an unnerving resemblance to Sinead O'Conner. The scariest part for some people, I guess.

Like most freak shows, the effect, while startling and disturbing initially, fades rather quickly and we are left to ask practical questions, like: how would you build furniture for it?  Does it poo? Or, does it taste like chicken or beef? What would its chances of survival be in, say, China?

This film was so bad that people in the cinema were moaning in disgust and then giggling at the collective reaction. In case you are suddenly overwhelmed by masochistic tendencies and find yourself watching this film, I will not spoil that particular scene. To say that this is where the film "jumped the shark" would be giving the makers a LOT more credit than they deserve. The shark jumping apparently occurred in some studio board room about a year or two before production began.

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Fasateen- Mashrou’ Leila

Band Information courtesy of

Mashrou’ Leila is a Lebanese band that brings something fresh and new to Beirut’s alternative music scene. Their first single “Raksit Leila” can be heard all around town, appealing to a very diverse cross-generational audience.

“Mashrou’ means “project”, “Leila” means “night”. Mashrouʼ Leila is Arabic for “an overnight project” and not - as the band members teasingly like to pretend - a project started to raise money for a girl they knew called Leila.

The “project” their name refers to, is the music workshop where they all met at the American University of Beirut in 2008: a singer, a violinist, a pianist, two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer using an open platform to experiment with sound.

The seven members – all in their early twenties - play a unique blend of Arabic and Western musical influences: you’ll find hints of Tarab, rock, folk pop, latin-jazz, ethnic music and electro. Their music refers to different genres; but whatever you say, don’t call it fusion!
Crossing over from underground to pop, Mashrou’ Leila have crafted catchy tunes with sharp Arabic lyrics. They react to whatever is around them and sing about their daily lives, a lot of their creative energy coming from the city they live in: Beirut.

Their first big break came after they appeared at the “Fête de la Musique” on June 21, 2008. Fans started blogging about the band and the members decided to take things more seriously. They performed all over Lebanon taking over public piazzas as well as clubs, pubs, and concert halls.
In March 2009, Mashrouʼ Leila won the Lebanese Modern Music Contest jury prize organized by Radio Liban as well as the public vote. They released their debut album with B-root Productions in December 2009 at what turned out to be Beirut’s biggest alternative (read non-mainstream) event in recent years.

Their concert in Byblos on July 9th is one of the most anticipated events of the summer. It is their first live appearance since the album launch and their biggest gig yet. They’ve even prepared a special treat for their fans: their set will include all their best-known tracks well as a number of new previously unreleased songs!

Hamed Sinno: Vocals Ibrahim Badr: Bass Carl Gerges: Drums Haig Papazian: Violin Omaya Malaeb: Keyboards Andre Chedid: Guitar Firas Abou Fakher: Guitar

Frankenstein Arrested At Concert

Frankenstein was arrested at a a concert after threatening a police officer.frankenstein_narrowweb__300x371,0

After making verbal threats to a law enforcement officer, Forrest V. Frankenstein Jr. was arrested at a Toby Keith concert at the Riverbend Music Center. Frankenstein told the officer “If I had a knife I would stab you.”

According to the Hamilton County police report, When taken into custody, Frankenstein kicked out the rear side window of the squad car and  repeatedly banged his face into the partition, injuring himself.  He is charged with menacing, vandalism and disorderly conduct while intoxicated.

Frankenstein was treated at a local hospital, where he allegedly continued to threaten law enforcement officers along with the medical staff that were trying to help him.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Mind Reader

Not long ago, I posted a short lecture from TED about the use of mushrooms to replace plastics. All very interesting but this new post is really quite extraordinary  The headset shown in the lecture looks surprisingly similar to a brain-computer linking device in the 1983 film "Brainstorm." (That device was capable of connecting and recording brain to brain  sensations, thoughts and feelings.) 

It's important to remember that this invention is merely a prototype and the finished product would, no doubt, be capable of much more.  Impressive and a little scary. 

So Long, Barbara Billingsley


Born in Los Angeles in 1915 Billingsley, who began her career as a model in New York City before her big break on 'Leave it Beaver,' has passed away in her Santa Monica, Calif., home after a long illness.

Barbara Billingsley portrayed June Cleaver, the idealized mother of the early sixties. With her stiff taffeta dresses and pearls- in high heels, yet, she became a kind of surrogate mother for a lot of children my age. I never saw the original show but every afternoon after school, I would rush home to watch the re-runs, without ever questioning why my home was, for the

most part, hardly anything like the Beav's. For me, it was merely a daily dose of perfection with all problems resolved by the closing credits. There weren't any bad guys-(Eddie Haskell was only a weasel) and suburbia was just about as close to heaven as one could wish for.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

On This Day in History

greatbeerwave_promoThe London Beer Flood occurred on October 17, 1814 in the parish of St. Giles, London, England. At the Meux and Company Brewery on Tottenham Court Road, a huge vat containing over 135,000 imperial gallons (610,000 L) of beer ruptured, causing other vats in the same building to succumb in a domino effect. As a result, more than 323,000 imperial gallons (1,470,000 L) of

beer burst out and gushed into the streets. The wave of beer destroyed two homes and crumbled the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub, trapping teenaged employee Eleanor Cooper under the rubble.

The brewery was located among the poor houses and tenements of the St Giles Rookery, where whole families lived in basement rooms that quickly filled with beer. Eight people drowned in the flood.

The brewery was eventually taken to court over the accident, but the disaster was ruled to be an Act of God by the judge and jury, leaving no one responsible. The company found it difficult to cope with the financial implications of the disaster, with a significant loss of sales made worse because they had already paid duty on the beer. They made a successful application to Parliament reclaiming the duty which allowed them to continue trading.

The brewery was demolished in 1922, and today, the Dominion Theatre occupies a part of the site of the former brewery.

My sweet lord - George Harrison

Friday, October 15, 2010

Red Hall Basilica, Bergama, Turkey

Bergama's Red Hall (Kızıl Avlu) or Red Basilica was built for worship of the Egyptian gods Serapis, Isis and Harpocrates at a time in the 2nd century AD when Egyptian religion was reaching into the Roman Empire.  Faced with marble and surrounded by a colonnade, the huge building looked very different in Roman times. A stream ran beneath it in stone channels, its waters used for ritual bathing and ablutions. The Byzantines preserved the sacred space, building the Church of St John the Apostle within the mammoth ancient walls. The building is sacred still today, containing the Kurtuluş Camii (mosque) in one of its towers.

This mashup of photos is brought to by Photosynth. 

Survivors of the Boom

Congratulations to all the kids born in the 1940′s, 50′s, and 60′s!

by Frank Jovine

  1. First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a tin, and didn’t get tested for diabetes. Then after that trauma, our baby cots were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
  2. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitch hiking.
  3. As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of a van – loose – was always great fun.
  4. We drank water from the garden hosepipe and NOT from a bottle.
  5. We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.
  6. We ate cakes, white bread and real butter and drank pop with sugar in it, but we weren’t overweight because……WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!
  7. We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.
  8. We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
  9. We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no text messaging, no Computer’s, no Internet or Internet chat rooms……….WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!
  10. We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.
  11. We played with worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
  12. Made up games with sticks and tennis balls and although we were told it poke eyes out, it never happened.
  13. We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just yelled for them!

After posting this, I thought a lot about how differently children are raised today. From an outsider's point of view, it's a very unhealthy mix of over-protection  and neglect, of flexible rules and morally acceptable "time-outs." Where every stranger is a danger and materialism is a means to assuage the guilt of not spending enough time. Today spoiling your child means loving your child. Meanwhile we feed children daily doses of prescribed drugs and televised violence and then we are deeply shocked when they go on a shooting sprees.  We wonder why they turn out like Lohan. We are morally appalled by teen suicide and outraged by anti-social behavior and psychotic episodes.

In the late sixties, before the days of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,  they just called it hyperactivity- my very own syndrome. My elementary school teacher, Mrs. Bodine- with a kind of subtle pressure, I assume- warned my mother  and  gave her the name of a friendly doctor who had the answer in the form of little yellow pills. And so I'd sit, dulled by my Ritalin pills, but extremely quiet and manageable. (Malleable is perhaps a better word.) I started out taking them but later only pretended to. After all, I wanted to be conscious while I was alive.

Imagine my surprise when only a few years later, dark-suited guests came to our classroom with a large ominous suitcase displaying examples (phony) of  street drugs and gave us a lecture on the dangers of drug abuse. Scary preaching and all of it hypocritical in the extreme.

Later, scientists began to question the wisdom of giving psychoactive drugs to children.  The very idea of "informed consent" – the basic right of every patient to be provided with information about his illness and treatment and to approve of this course of action- is turned on its head when drugs are prescribed with the consent of parents and the support of educators.  In the case of Ritalin, the potential side effects often seemed worse than the problem.

  "Ritalin and amphetamine have almost identical adverse effects on the brain, mind and behavior, including the production of drug-induced behavioral disorders, psychosis, mania, drug abuse, and addiction....Ritalin can cause permanent neurological tics including Tourette's syndrome......Withdrawal from Ritalin can cause emotional suffering, including depression, exhaustion, and suicide. This can make children seem psychiatrically disturbed and lead mistakenly to increased doses of medication." Vital Information About Ritalin, Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder and the Politics Behind the ADHD/Ritalin Movement Summarized from Talking Back to Ritalin by Peter R. Breggin, M.D.

Some doctors even questioned the existence of the disorder itself.   For more information check this PBS Frontline article (Here)

Class action lawsuits have been filed in Texas, California and New Jersey charging Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, maker of Ritalin, with conspiracy to create the psychiatric disorder known as ADHD in order to fuel the market for their product.

And yet, the use of Ritalin has continued to rise. Check the graph. The mindset seems to be: Regardless of the consequences in the long term, expediency requires us to solve this problem now. Take this pill and go to your room.

My sister's boy was given a monstrously large and expensive swing-set to play with and then not allowed to go outside.  It was too cold or too hot. And Mommy was too busy. (My own mother would scream about us running in and out all the time. "The air conditioner is running!"  Her preference was probably more inclined to "OUT!")

During my visit, my wife and I took the little boy to the water park- one of the happiest days I spent with him- and we burned up so much energy. He was given clearly defined rules, and was carefully supervised (without any multi-tasking) and he seemed to do just fine. (He did have to be told not to growl at the other children once.) Although I had promised his mother not to, we both went down the adult slide together as a team- my arms around him like a million dollar package. When I got to the bottom- with a splash- I looked around and he was gone! I could see the top of his head about 5 inches below the surface. With my heart pounding, I grabbed his arm and hoisted him in the air like a catfish.  Perfectly unfazed, he begged for another time but I wasn't quite sure if I could stand that kind of shock again.

But when I was a child, I recall spending every day of summer, climbing aboard a school bus (what an exquisite novelty)  and going to the local pool… alone. No parent necessary, thank you. There were lifeguards and staff who were always paying attention. There were always adults around to make sure nothing tragic happened. Today who would trust their children's life to a stranger? A stranger could be the problem. As far as the staff, would they be chatting away or texting at that one crucial moment instead of doing their jobs? Would they be watching TV or socializing or networking? Too many distractions. Too many children. Perhaps it's our society with the Attention Deficient Disorder.

More importantly, people have somehow forgotten how much energy children actually have, I think. We seem to expect them to stay cooped up inside all day, watching TV or playing games. That's a poor substitute for the kind of adventures we used to have in our neighborhood. Why, we visited other planets from our very own spaceship! (an abandoned Refrigerator box) Trying to bottle all that surplus energy and imagination with sedatives is merely inviting trouble.  There is always a price to pay for expediency, especially when it comes to children.

When my nephew started bouncing off walls at the age of four, he became "a handful." And then, suddenly he's a problem child.  Later he has "behavioral problems" and there's crisis in need of emergency treatment. And once a child gets labeled with some kind of mental illness- in whatever form- he becomes a "broken plate"- meaning, repairable with a lot of medication and therapy but never really quite the same as before.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Drinking Water from Sewage

There are more than one billion people all over the world who do not have access to drinking water, while as many as 2.6 billion people, well over one-third of the world's population live without any sanitary systems at all. Additionally, in times of natural or manmade disasters, access to drinking water may spell the difference between survival and catastrophe.

In this TED lecture, Michael Pritchard, a water-treatment expert in Ipswich, England, explains and demonstrates his water filtration device, Lifesaver Systems, which makes use of nanotechnology to eliminate both impurities and biological contaminants.

Using a non-chemical nano-filtration hollow fiber membrane with 15 nanometer pores (it is designed to block viruses), the Lifesaver bottle can make the most revolting swamp water drinkable in seconds. Better still, a single long-lasting filter can clean 6,000 liters of water. Given the astronomical cost of shipping water to disaster areas, Pritchard's Lifesaver bottle could turn traditional aid models on their heads.

For more information:

Persian Progressive Rock - Comment

Comment was born after Kian (vocals + guitar) and Nima (lead guitar) met at Kook Studios in Tehran, and began practicing a number of songs written by Kian and recording them in a home studio setting. The joining of Maziar(Bass), his friend Bardia (drums) and Peyman (Keyboard) moved the band into a new phase of practice and soon-after, they started the recording of their first album titled ‘Miram Balatar’. A number of strong influences on the band are: Dave Matthews, Eddie Vedder, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, and Peter Gabriel. ( Information courtesy of

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Saying Good-bye to Facebook

According to Hurriyet Daily News, "The 22.5 million Turkish members of Facebook may lose access to the popular social-networking site as a result of a court case filed by an opposition leader. Though Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and his party say they only want offensive content removed, a government minister has hinted Facebook may follow YouTube onto the banned-sites list. "

Along with nearly 5000 other websites, YouTube was first banned in 2008 as a result of a court case involving insults to the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal. Now it appears Facebook will join the list of banned Internet sites. At this time there are numerous court cases pending any one of which could effectively ban access to Facebook inside Turkey. "A government minister who has defended Turkey’s bans on YouTube and other popular websites hinted Wednesday that the social-networking site Facebook could share the same fate.Addressing rumors that Facebook might be shut down as a result, Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım told attendees at an informatics fair that 30 judicial decisions had been issued to ban the site in Turkey."

According to another Hurriyet article, "Facebook is public enemy number one," "On Tuesday Kayseri Third Family Court Judge Ali Akın told the press that Facebook, MSN Messenger and Twitter are all bad for families. Akın said that the leading reason for divorce is the misuse of social media applications. The judge urged couples not to spend too much time on these applications as even innocent conversations can lead to naked webcam sex. He said that more and more women get naked on webcams after they put their husbands to bed. That’s why there are more women filing for a divorce than ever before. The number of divorce claims by women now equal that of men. Akın warns that this is bad for society."

Let's look at other countries initiating democratic reforms. Women’s emancipation- not Facebook, Instant Messaging or Twitter- was cited in a sharp rise in divorce rates in Indonesia since democratic reforms were introduced more than 10 years ago after the fall of autocratic president Suharto, the ministry of religious affairs said. Professor Dr Nasaruddin Umar, the ministry’s director general for Islamic community guidance, said he believed that more and more women were filing for divorces because they believed they had the same rights as men.

China is another case in which one of the side effects of democratic reforms was a sharp increase in the rates of divorce. Prior to the opening-up policy in 1978, the divorce rate was very low and it continued till the mid-1980s when the divorce rate started soaring up.  And, contrary to the Facebook theory, China has always had a restrictive policy when it comes to Internet freedom. Obviously we have to look elsewhere for the cause of a increase in divorce in Turkey.

It is ironic that Akin is unable to see that it is perhaps the democratic reforms themselves which have allowed women to become more independent and equal and to feel economically free enough to make divorce a viable alternative. Without reforms, women's lower earnings make them more vulnerable when divorced or otherwise single.

Contrary to Akin's assertion that Internet is the cause for an increase in divorce, the rate of divorce In the medieval Islamic world and the Ottoman Empire was higher than it is today in the modern Middle East, which now has generally low rates of divorce. (Rapoport, Yossef (2005). Marriage, Money and Divorce in Medieval Islamic Society. Cambridge University Press. p. 2. ISBN 052184715X) Akin may put to rest those purile images of shameless Turkish women dancing in their birthday suits before their webcams while their hard-working husbands lay sleeping.
Another blogger in India has drawn the same conclusions about the divorce rate there.

Divorce rates are going up across India. The figures that exist for our cities and towns show a sharp increase in the last decade or so. Many commentators bemoan this trend, speaking of the breakdown of families, the loss of family values and the influence of the West. But to me, the rising rate of divorces is a trend to celebrate. It is the single best statistical indicator we have of the empowerment of women. 
Rising divorce rates tell us one thing for sure: that more and more women are finding the means, and the independence, to walk out of bad marriages and live life on their own terms. If we judge ourselves as a society on the state of our women – and surely that must be a parameter – then this is good news. We do not need to credit either Feminism or Western culture for this – the emancipation of women in real terms, across the world, has been enabled by technology, and can be explained most easily with economics.

Politicans aren't the only ones peeved by unrestricted freedom of speech in Turkey.
"Pop singers are filing suits as well, many against Facebook. People like Demet Akalın want to see Facebook closed down because there are many groups who are not so polite on their remarks about the singer. She filed her strongest case on March 23 after a “fan” said that she looks like an old block of cheese without makeup." (Imagine what Britney could do with the power to shut down any site that offended her.) "It takes around six months  to a year for a case to come to trial. So we are probably going to face a serious Facebook crisis soon. "

If Ms. Akalin is as sensitive to criticism as this court case would suggest, then perhaps she is in the wrong line of work. Her own Facebook site has 150,000 fans and it is surely a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face. And a lot of her fans are going to be "cheesed off" and will probably think twice about any more Akalin CDs.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Izmir Revisited By a Descendent Of The Asia Minor Catastrophe

ESKİ İZMİR Uploaded by teksin49. - Classic TV and last night's shows, online. Erer | MySpace Video

By Catherine Tsounis, Hellenic News of America, Nov 13 2008

It is now 86 years after the Asia Minor Catastrophe of Smyrna. The Greeks in Chios have still not gotten over the loss of Tseme (Cesme). Macedonians still talk about their ancestral homes. These families are third and 4th generation born Greeks. The loss of a way of life remains.
My grandfather, Christos Dimitrios Pappas (Papantonakis) was born in Kato Panagia, in Tseme. Smyrna is a state in Turkey that encompasses the province of Tseme (Cesme).The municipality of Tseme had komopoli (small cities) such as Kato Panagia.
He knew he had an ancestor who was a priest because of his surname, Papantonakis. He was probably of Cretan background."My mother was from Tseme, of a Cretan family from Sfagia, tracing back to 1776," according to John Basil, of Long Island. "Many Cretan families found refuge in Smyrna's shores during its tumultuous freedom struggle that lasted until 1912."
After the 1774 naval battle of Tseme in the Russo-Turkish War, the Greek population increased. The first immigration wave was from Crete, Peloponnese, Evia, Chios and Psara. Eighty percent of the population of Tseme after 1774 was Greek. They did not have any written records, because of the Asia Minor Catastrophe. A family's history was from oral tradition and by analyzing the roots of names.
Christos Papantonakis' father (my great-grandfather) fell in love with a girl from a Maltese family in the neighborhood of Kordelio. They married with the condition that they would raise their children in the Greek Orthodox faith. A true romance that can be summed up in Glykeria's Greek traditional song "Ti se meli senane, apo pou ime ego (What does it matter where I am from)...I come from Kordelio to Athens to marry you." Christos was a giant of a man for his time: 6 ft. 1 inch, a blonde, before premature baldness, with hazel eyes, born in approximately 1888. His childhood recollections included going secretly to worship at a Catholic Church that infuriated his father. His Mother died young, leaving him an orphan in the care of his older sisters, Cleopatra and Athena, who were Greek Orthodox nuns and a brother who immigrated to Alexandria, Egypt.
Christos was educated to chant religious hymns. According to family tradition, he chanted in the Cathedral of Smyrna and two local churches before becoming a cook in the Merchant Marine prior to W.W. I. Our grandfather obtained his American citizenship papers before 1915. At that time the requirements included having an employment sponsor, a certain amount of years in the USA, passing an American test written in English and having literacy skills. Christos Papantonakis was a focused person who set a goal of American citizenship through knowledge.
In 1915, he went to Chios to marry. He met Despina Gagas, a vivacious, brunette teenager with light blue eyes, from his hometown of Kato Panagia. Christos married her without a dowry on August 15, 1915 in the Metropolitan of Chios. It was a love match as was his parents.
Old photos show he wore European, cosmopolitan attire. No evzone dress! He often said he was from Smyrna that was the Paris of the Middle East. I knew how to swim because I lived by the sea. He was a champion swimmer who saved a drowning man at Rockaway Beach of the 1930's. Our childhood in 19's Astoria, New York was marked with an emphasis on Greek language, St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church that was built by patrioti, Archimandrite Polizoides, rebetika and remembering our Asia Minor roots.
I recently decided to go back to Smyrna to see the truth. Argyro, of Sunrise Tours in Chios, arranged a tour with several teachers from Kardamyla for a two day tour of Tseme (Cesme), Smyrna (Izmir) and Ephesus. I wanted to understand the Greek perspective, traveling in a Greek speaking group. Our guide, Ali Papazoglou, was a Greek-Moslem from the island of Kos, who lived in Kordello, Izmir. We took a ferry boat from Chios City to Modern Day Cesme. Because I had an American passport, I was allowed through Turkish customs quickly. Our bus trip through the state of Izmir showed a rich, fertile land that looked like the islands of Limnos and Kos. Extreme police security was present in a mall we stopped at, with very expensive prices. I could not understand why persons from Athens would shop in Turkey. They have better products and prices in Athens.
Along the road, guide Ali showed us the Cathedral of Tseme province, known as Agios Charalambos, the town of Alatsata, Karaburum and other Greek places of one hundred years ago. Ali gave us the Greek perspective by mentioning the names and history of areas that now had Turkish names. The entire tourist group from Athens was emotionally moved. One of our Greek tourists crossed himself when the ruins of a particular Greek Church was shown. Others would become enthusiastic looking at a Turkish Mosque, at the site of a former Greek Orthodox Church. All I saw was what it is today: a Turkish landscape devoid of anything Hellenic. Meanwhile, I was totally astounded by what was taking place before my eyes. No mingling in the streets. We stayed on the bus, moving along a modern, high speed throughway. Travel in Greece is one hundred percent more enjoyable, because of freedom and intermingling with the citizens who all know English.
When we reached Izmir, Ali said "Kordelio is still a cosmopolitan community as it was under the Greeks. There are still some aristocratic homes standing. The Greeks had a philosophy: live for today and do not worry about the past or future." Finally we reached the harbor where the massacre took place. Ali said "this is it." A pin could have dropped and all would have heard it in this tourist bus. The two day tour with Sunrise Tours of Chios was memorable because of this unique Greek guide who tried to help us envision an Asia Minor before 1914 and 1922.
When I returned to Chios City, Argyro of Sunset Tours purchased the books Mika Asia Explorer and Stefanides, Chios and Smyrni travel guide. In these Modern Greek books, I pieced together the rich history of Kordelio. The suburb is at the northern tip of the gulf of Smyrna. Its Greek name was Peraia that means to cross over to the other coast. Kordelio received its name from the twelfth century monastery of "Moni Kordoleontos". The suburb laid in the municipality of Karsiyaka.
The community of Kordelio in 1888 had five thousand inhabitants. Half were Greeks from Mytilene, Chios, Samos, Ikaria, Mani. The other fifty percent were Armenians, Catholics, Protestants and Cretan Turks. In 1921, The Greek Command of Smyrna counted seven thousand, five hundred Greeks, three hundred Turks, 200 Armenians, one hundred and fifty Israelites, eight hundred and fifty Levantines (Franco-Catholics), Serbs and other nationalities.
Most of the residents of Kordelio had their businesses in Smyrna. There were many farmers, gardeners, cattle stock farmers, fishermen and grocers. There were three Greek Orthodox churches. In the center were Agia Anna, St. John Prodromos and Agia Marina. They belonged to the Metropolitan of Ephesus. Kordelio became the second headquarters of the Metropolitan.
They had a boy's and girl's school, two kindergartens, theaters, cafenia, movie houses, clubs and athletic organizations. The enchantment of Kordelio is legendary in Greek culture and is in folk songs. The refugees from Kordelio have a settlement outside Thessaloniki. "My great uncle was Chrystosomos Hatgistavrou, the Metropolitan of Ephesus" said Demetrios Hatgistavrou, of East Hampton, Long island. " His eyewitness account entitled, 'A Report prepared For the Patriarch of Constantinople by Metropolitan of Ephesus Chrystosomos Hatgistavrou' shows the massacre of every Christian in Ionia (Western Asia Minor)."
Christos Demetrios Papantonakis of Kato Panagia, with roots in Kordelio and Kato Panagia, Smyrna, was a Nabisco factory worker in New York City during this turbulent era. . "He was a quiet, low key person who enjoyed reading all about his Hellenic culture," according to his cousin, Daisy Lainis. The tall, quiet spoken man was considered a hero for saving his wife's family by helping them immigrate to the United States from their refugee quarters at the Frourio (Fortress) in Chios during the 1914 persecution and cataclysmic 1922 catastrophe. The simplest persons in a time of tragedy accomplish acts that determine the future of generations. Catherine Tsounis is an Adjunct Professor of Modern Greek in the Languages and Literature Department of St. John's University in New York. Her past professional teaching experience incudes a position as Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Computer Science at SUNY in Long Island, as well as posts teaching secondary-level social studies, science, English, and Greek in New York. I found this article interesting and powerful although I would disagree with her observations on Modern Izmir. A two day tour for Greek coming to Turkey is undoubtedly going to supply them with just enough information to confirm what they already believed. But, seriously, no mingling in the streets? I get "mingled out" when I go out of the house. I wonder where the tour bus took her. (Was it in the dead of summer when everybody has gone to their summer homes, I wonder?) Perhaps she saw little socializing because she stayed on the highways (as she herself has written.) As Garrison Keillor says of his hometown, you don't check for signs of life by looking at the feet.
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Mushrooms as the New Plastic


Every now and then, somebody comes along with a stunningly practical and ingenious idea that deserves to be noticed. If you walk nearly anything along the seaside today you will stumble upon some kind of plastic refuse washing up. And that's only what you can see. There's tons and tons of floating unseen, a permanent reminder of  extremely pervasive pollution. The problem is growing worse every year and nobody seems interested in putting a stop or reversing this problem.


When you are long gone, that cola bottle you drank from yesterday- which ended up in the trash this morning- will still be here and then add a few thousand years. Then multiply that by every household and again multiply by a year and you can see that we are in deep trouble. This kind of  thinking is really bringing our home planet to its knees.


There are people who are trying to come up with solutions. Here is a short lecture from TED- a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. The speaker is Eben Bayer. Eben Bayer is co-inventor of MycoBond, an organic (really -- it's based on mycelium, a living, growing organism) adhesive that turns agriwaste into a foam-like material for packaging and insulation.


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