Monday, November 29, 2010

The Toothpick Story

toothpicks

While I cannot verify the veracity of this details of this story, I can say that it was most likely told to me as factual.

On a trip to the far eastern regions of Turkey, my friend and his traveling companion, after long and tedious hours of driving, grew rather famished and began to hunt for some roadside restaurant. Eventually, they found a place which Americans would consider an equivalent to a "greasy spoon."

For the benefit of those who have never been to Turkey I will attempt to describe the typical diner of this sort.

The proprietor, a paunchy mustached man, sits at his podium like desk, with his bottle of cologne and dish of cloves. At the rear, in front of the open heath oven, a bare-armed "chef" waits expectantly for his order, flipping a larval pad of dough back and forth and sneaks regular drags from his cigarette. There is always a surplus of waiters. All of them seem to have lost the natural ability to smile. The teenage nephew of the owner who portrays your waiter likes to watch television and has the magical ability to transport himself anywhere in his mind.

On the wall, you'll find an aged mural of Mecca hangs, showing a great arch of marching white-toga-ed pilgrims revolving around a holy cube. The blue "evil eye" talisman covers all the pagan rites while the predictable print of Ataturk, somewhat faded, takes care of secularism. So, after a glance around, you chose a table from all the other empty ones and you sit in the white plastic chair that gives ominously like an overloaded pack animal.

The pide- a kind of Turkish pizza- was nothing to write home about but it did satisfy the immediate need. The ayran- a buttermilk concoction- was thick and rich and pleasantly sour.

"Excuse me," my friend asked the boy passing by. "Could you please bring me a toothpick?"

The boy waiter looked nervously back at the owner who, watching from the distance, half-stood.

"Let me ask." the boy told the confused patrons.

After some feverish whispering between the waiter and his boss, the owner stepped forward. " Yes, Can I help you?"

"We just asked for toothpicks."

"Ah," the owner said with a decidedly unhappy glare. "We used to offer those to our customers, but we stopped this practice."

"And.. why?"

"Yes, well, last summer we had some visitors here from the west of Turkey. Istanbul or Izmir. And like yourselves, they asked for toothpicks. I was quite happy to oblige."

There was a pregnant moment of silence. "We were shocked, however, to find that they had not bothered to put them back when they were finished."

That's the story as it was related to me many years ago. When my story-telling friend concluded, I asked him, "Is that true?" He nodded and then shrugged as Turks are wont to do. I have thought about this story many times, unable to be fully persuaded that it could ever have happened. I'd like to think I was the victim of some joke.

Still, as Mark Twain once said, there is a "dismal plausibility about it that took all the humor out of it."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Spare Me

This is what happens when you mix aerobics and English lessons. In this case, you learn to prepare for the worst while traveling abroad.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Condolences

New Zealand Coal Mining VictimsNew Zealand Miners

In a fine article, BBC has profiled the lives of a few of the lost New Zealand miners. It's heart-breaking when there is no happy ending. Sometimes when you see tragedy from afar, it is easy to forget that each person killed in disaster had an individual story. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-11828498

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Close Call # 254

Evidence shows that older train spotters look in both directions while filming.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Just in Time for Christmas!

Boehner Humor

For those of you that do not keep up with American politics, the advertisement above is a poke at the new Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner, who has developed a reputation for crying in public.  It's usually a pretty dry affair, I've noticed. A lot of unstable chin, misty eyes, a bit of redness on the nose and around the eyes and a bit of choking up in the middle of speaking. No gushers or wailing, unfortunately..

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The Fox and The Crane

Of all of Aesop's fables, I suppose my favorite is this one. Like many of his fables, it can be interpreted in variety of ways. A lesson in true hospitality?

I have included this delightful illustration which I found Here

   illustrator: Niroot Puttapipat

 

The Fox and the Crane

At one time the Fox and the Stork were on visiting terms and seemed very good friends. So the Fox invited the Stork to dinner, and for a joke put nothing before her but some soup in a very shallow dish. This the Fox could easily lap up, but the Stork could only wet the end of her long bill in it, and left the meal as hungry as when she began. “I am sorry,” said the Fox, “the soup is not to your liking.”

“Pray do not apologize,” said the Stork. “I hope you will return this visit, and come and dine with me soon.” So a day was appointed when the Fox should visit the Stork; but when they were seated at table all that was for their dinner was contained in a very long-necked jar with a narrow mouth, in which the Fox could not insert his snout, so all he could manage to do was to lick the outside of the jar.

“I will not apologize for the dinner,” said the Stork: “One bad turn deserves another.”


A bit of revenge in the animal kingdom. I particularly like the smoothness by which the stork handled the obnoxious joke the fox initially played. There are, of course, rules of etiquette and courtesy for both the guest and the host.

We in the West used to set a standard for proper behavior. Victorians, for all their obsessive fussiness, certainly knew how to conduct themselves. Looking over the rulebook- that is, the Victorian guides to etiquette, you can clearly see many of their ideas are extraordinarily well-reasoned and designed prevent any unintentional slights or accidental snubs. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

You should not treat your friend's house as if it was a hotel, making your calls, visiting, transacting business about the town, and coming and going at all hours to suit your own convenience.

So obvious but I have seen this mistake so often, it's practically become normal behavior.

You should, in shopping or transacting business, when you desire to go alone, select the hours of the day when your friends are engaged in their own duties.

Should a secret of the family come into your possession while on a visit, you should remember that the hospitality and privileges extended should bind you to absolute secrecy. It is contemptibly mean to become the possessor of a secret thus, and afterwards betray the confidence reposed in you.

That sounds very melodramatic to me – (a secret child born out of wedlock? Poor Aunt Grace with the bad case of  hypertrichosis or  the raving ex-wife in the attic?)  I can, however, certainly understand what it is meant. You don't stay for a week in another person's home and then go and blab about their dirt behind the fridge or how poorly the guest cooked your breakfast.  

And, finally, there is this charming but oft-forgotten touch of grace.

Immediately upon the return to your home, after paying a visit, you should write to your hostess, thanking her for her hospitality and the enjoyment you received. You should also ask to be remembered to all of the family, mentioning each by name.

Ok, I admit it. I don't do this, but I know that I should. If you want a complete list of Victorian rules for visiting and the etiquette of hospitality you can find a list here.

Just because we recognize certain rules of behavior while visiting doesn't mean you have to be excessive (you sit here and I sit there and we will drink our tea.. NOW!)  I have endured this and it is not fun. Like visiting grandmother's house.

Turks have a fine sense of hospitality and, although it can often be a bit overwhelming to those who are not used to it, I think many Americans could learn a few lessons about being considerate as hosts and as guests. Before I came to Turkey, a Turkish friend of mine had once told that if you were ever in trouble, robbed, lost and deserted, you could knock on any door to any humble cottage in any Turkish village and proclaim to the greeter, "I am a guest of God." This, apparently, was like some kind of Masonic handshake and you would be treated with as much hospitality as the hosts could reasonably afford.

After living here nearly twenty years, I have yet to try this technique out but, generally speaking, as far as kind treatment of strangers, it seems to be the rule rather than the exception. I have often been invited to join in on occasions which legitimately would be considered private affairs.

At the risk of breaking one of the Victorian mandates about speaking out of turn, I shall  give an example of what happens when cultures clash, as far as hospitality goes.

One time I went to a small dinner at the home of an American couple, along with my wife and my friend, both Turk. It was only the five of us, in fact, The evening, as far as I was concerned, was rather dull, all of us eventually being reduced to talking about the cats and how poorly treated animals are in Turkey.

At the end of the evening, as we were driving away my friends were noticeably disturbed. When I asked them what the problem was, they finally explained that they felt somewhat insulted by the hosts. For some reason, as we were saying our good-nights, (shoes, kissing, more shoes, laughing, waiting for the elevator, whispering and a wave)  the couple had returned the fancy chocolate cake that we, their guests, had brought.  Mind you, the cake wasn't cheap, they explained, and if they hadn't liked it, then why didn't they keep it and throw it away once we had left. I had to admit it was an awkward thing to do. The Turks felt insulted and confused. "Is that normal? In America?"

I shook my head. "It wasn't when I left," I told them, "But who knows nowadays." I suppose if I had been more "stork-like" I could have invited them over for dinner and, with a beguiling smile, handed back their opened bottle of wine.

That is, if they had thought to bring a gift at all.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I don't want to talk about it - Everything but the girl

Buttersafe- I think I love you

Buttersafe humor Comics funny cats

Above is a sample comic from the wacky site, Buttersafe.com. It's an online comic updated every Tuesday and Thursday.  As they explain "Each comic is lovingly handcrafted by one of these two men:

Raynato Castro (usually Tuesdays)

Alex Culang (usually Thursdays)

Whoever the masterminds are, your comic made me smile and so Nomadic View Salutes you!

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Ban on Circumcision?

According to an article I saw in the Huffington Post the other day, San Francisco residents may vote on a ballot measure next year that would outlaw circumcision.

The initiative, which requires 7,000 signatures before it can be added to next November's ballot, would make it a misdemeanor to "circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the...genitals" of all minors, and would not make exceptions for religious reasons.

The decision to permanently remove a boy's foreskin should not be made by parents, says Lloyd Shofield, the proposal's author.

"People can practice whatever religion they want, but your religious practice ends with someone else's body,"Schofield told CBS affiliate KCBS. "It's a man's body and...his body doesn't belong to his culture, his government, his religion or even his parents. It's his decision."

I have so many conflicting opinions about this subject. However I might feel about the merits of the removal of the foreskin of the penis, and however much I might question its necessity I do wonder what world Shofield actually lives in. That last quoted sentence is fairly amusing because, despite his noble-sounding rhetoric, it strikes me as absurd. We are not speaking of a man's body. It is a baby's body and for all intents and purposes, its body does belong to the parents. It may not be fair in many cases, but it is a fact of life and I am not sure how society would work without this system.

Anyway, religions routinely claim ownership of the child's body and its soul: Religious training normally begins as early as possible- as soon as children begin to ask difficult questions.

Another example is the Christian rite of baptism which formerly inducts a baby into the Church and absolving it all that hand-me-down sin left over by Adam and Eve. While certainly not as invasive  as circumcision (or permanent perhaps) it is done without the consent of the infant, condoned by the parents and mandated by the religion. Vaccinations are another case in point where parents make decisions without the consent of the child.

Baby TattooStill, all of us hope that parents will not suddenly decide that Junior looks cool with a full body tattoo. I assume there are already laws regarding child endangerment or abuse that would prevent such a possibility. Let's hope so, anyway.

Of course, this ban will never pass unchallenged. The first amendment of the Constitution clearly states that Congress shall not enact any law that impends the worship of religion. Are Muslim and Jewish citizens to be banned from performing a well-established rite of their respective religion by California law? I can't see that happening.

In Turkey, the circumcision procedure, or sunnet, is a big deal but quite the opposite of the Jewish rite or Brit milah - which is all very discreet and low-keyed.

The Prophet Muhammad recommended performing circumcision at an early age but it is usually customary to perform the ceremony before the age of seven.

As part of the ceremony, the Turkish boy is decked out in a white prince costume with a cape and paraded around in a celebration. In rural areas, he is mounted on a white horse or donkey but in the more urban areas, the family rides in (generally) a red 1960s Chevrolet Impala. Horns are honking, drums are beating as they fly around the neighborhood. A man with a video camera dangles dangerously off the back of the car in front, trying to get every detail for posterity. You would think this rite of passage would involve a lot more trauma and psychological damage. I have heard stories of boys climbing on roofs and having to be cajoled down with lies and enticements, but on the whole, the event passed pretty much as expected. The thing I think would be most emotionally damaging would be the humiliation of being the spectacle of all the family members while the foreskin is removed.

While my mother was dead-set against baptism before the age of consent, she didn't seem to have a problem with circumcision. The doctor, she later informed me, had told her that it was a hygienic procedure and best done at infancy. It was the latest medical fad and I always suspected the surgical removal of my foreskin was merely a way to finance a doctor's holiday in  Florida.

 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Turkish Cartoon

cartoon

Türkan Şoray

Practically anytime you turn on Turkish television you are bound to find yourself watching a Turkan Soray film. With her hypnotic eyes and classically beautiful looks, she has entranced audiences in Turkey for decades. Early in her career she starred in a new film literally every month. In 1961, she released 12 films, 1962, she starred in 13 films and the following year, she was seen in no less than 14 films.

Born to a government official father, Halit Şoray and her mother, Meliha Şoray on 28 June 1945,  Turkan was the older of two daughters. Following the birth of her sister, Nazan, her parents divorced and both daughters were raised by her mother. Through her landlords, who were the parents of another actress, Emel Yildiz,.Turkan was invited to Yesilcam, one of Turkey's major filmmaking studios.  She made her film debut in 1960 at just 15 years old with the film Aşk Rüzgarı(The Wind of Love).

Within five years, Soray became one of Turkey's leading female actresses and was famously allowed to enact a set of rules in her contract which allowed to avoid the kind of roles that stereotyped women during that time. The "Şoray Rules" were seen by some to be the demands of a Hollywood diva, but it paid off as she was given the respect she wanted and the movie roles came flying in as well

Since then she has continued her career, winning various national and international awards, including the Moscow Film Festival Grand Jury Prize iin1973 as well as 1999 Rome Film Festival, Honorary Award. 

For her contributions to Turkish cinema, we salute you, Turkan Soray.

Here is a very small sample of her film posters. film poster

 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Native American-Turkish Trade

Nomadic View Native American in Turkey

According to the Associated Press, a delegation of 17 Native American tribes from 10 states have offered Turkish companies special tax incentives to operate in their lands in the United States.

Lincoln McCurdy, president of the Turkish Coalition of America which organized the trip, said Thursday that the Native American tribes belong to sovereign nations that can strike their own trade deals and offer special tax incentives.

Zafer Caglayan, the minister who oversees foreign trade, met the U.S. delegation in Istanbul earlier this week and discussed areas of possible cooperation in tourism and construction. Turkish constructors are active across the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa, building dams, stadiums and highways.

"Ten years from now, I hope that we will be meeting as business partners, not just people pursuing business opportunities," Michael Finley, chairman of the Tribes of Colville Reservation in eastern Washington state, said after meeting the minister in Istanbul.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=131237030

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Coffee with Ataturk

Coffee with Ataturk

Mustafa Kemal, the founder of the Modern Turkish Republic, died on 10 November 1938, at the age of 57. Upon the anniversary of his death, at the exact time of his death, 9:05 in the morning, all across the country people pay their respects to the national leader,  You can hear ships blowing horns in the harbor and people pause for a moment to remember the man they owe a great deal.

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Highlights of Turkish TV

That's Entertainment... I suppose.

 

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Close Call #122

Nothing exciting like this ever happens to me! I must be unlucky or something.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Case of the Teacher and the Earring

HDNHurriyet Daily News reports the Turkish Minister of Education has intervened in the case against Cuma Toygar, a male teacher punished for wearing an earring in the town of Manisa, outside of Izmir, Turkey. According to the news story, the wearing of the earring was result of a lesson on tolerance and a challenge from one of the more skeptical students.

In a class six months ago, 48-year-old Cuma Toygar told his fifth-grade students to be tolerant toward differences and that being unusual required courage. In response, one student asked if the teacher, too, had the bravery to be different. As a result, Toygar came to school with an earring – a piece of jewelry that is rarely worn by men outside metropolitan areas.

The controversy over proper apparel developed when the local governor refused at the last minute to present the teacher with an award. Soon afterwards, the teacher was reassigned to another school in the village of Maldan, presumably as a form of punishment for insubordination and for refusal to remove the jewelry. The reappointment, local education authorities stated, would be rescinded if the teacher removed the earring. To complicate the problem, the village authorities have stated that they would not welcome a teacher who chose to wear an earring since it would provide "a poor model for their children."

Toygar said he had suffered a lot over a “one-millimeter-wide earring,” including seeing 66 Turkish Liras docked from his wage every month and being mocked and humiliated by his superiors.

Toygar said he only had two years until his retirement, and people were telling him not to lose his pension over this issue. He said he felt he had to keep wearing the earring because it was a symbol of his fundamental rights.

Turkish earring news teacherAfter being encouraged by the media to step in, the Education Minister Nimet Çubukçu announced that “Nobody can be victimized over their apparel.” Çubukçu has halted the reassignment and sent two inspectors to Manisa to look into the issue. Click HERE for the full story.

This is one of those stories that fills you with the bewilderment  that comes with culture shock and the thinnest slice of hope. How can students believe in the importance of tolerance when the same teacher espousing this idea is punished by authorities on such arbitrary grounds? After all, this teacher is not really all that much of a wild-eyed rebel. But what message does that disrespect for the individual send his pupils?

Incidentally, this, according to the story, was the first problem between the local educational authorities and the teacher. In the past,  had brought commendation to his school for collecting the highest number of used batteries –hence the award ceremony. 

The false comparison made by the party politician about head scarves is, I think, interesting. After all, the secularist objection to head scarves originates from its religious connotations. As far as I know, the earring symbolizes nothing in particular, except perhaps, a sense of identity. Still, doing the right thing is more important than the particular motivations.

I have witnessed this kind of heavy-handedness time and time again. "I do not need to give reasons. You will obey because I order you to." (No matter how nonsensical or unjust those commands might be). Admittedly this attitude is expeditious but is also unfortunately the most common management style here.  The earring was, doubtless less important to the authorities than the challenge it represented. I imagine this was  the true cause of his tantrum at an award ceremony and his imperious exiling of the offender to a backwater village.

I have long observed that, generally speaking, individuality is looked upon with suspicion and here- more than in the US- respecting, social norms is far more important than personal freedom. If, according to this way of thinking, you wish to live outside the bounds and limits that society sets for its members then you must be prepared to accept all the negative consequences. These social norms are to be obeyed even as they frustrate or bring unhappiness or make their followers into hypocrites. So, you may ask, why would rigid conformity and obedience to social norms be so attractive?

For one thing, Turks  tend to appreciate stability more than liberty. For nations racked by repeated civil unrest, open unrestricted discussion and free debate are not always so highly valued, Secondly, the pressure on the individual to conform to the dictates of society seems to be much more intense here. People are more reliant on their families and this plays a part on conformity. Finally, there is the challenge that thinking and deciding for one self always presents.

Erich Fromm, a German social psychologist, psychoanalyst, humanistic philosopher, suggested that many people fear the lack of structure and security that freedom presents. One way people avoid the negative effects of freedom is by conformity. Conformity, as described by Fromm, was a process in which people unconsciously adopt the beliefs and thought processes of their society. This way of thinking, this acceptance of social rules is a good thing because it allows us to fit in. The things were are told to reject must be rejected because society or religion or government forbids them.  It is an unquestioning life and therefore without conflict. Conformity allows them to avoid genuine free thinking, which is likely to provoke anxiety.

In Modern society, Fromm suggests, though we are free from obvious authoritarian influence, we are still dominated in our thinking and behavior by ideas of consensus, the advice of experts and the influence of advertising. "The way to become truly free in an individual sense is to become spontaneous in our self-expression and behavior and respond truthfully to our genuine feelings."  Easier said than done, of course, because what exactly IS spontaneous self-expression?

Idries Shah, an author and teacher in the Sufi tradition who wrote over three dozen critically acclaimed books, tells this fable of the isolation of the non-conformist.

"When the Waters Were Changed"

Once upon a time Khidr, the Teacher of Moses, called upon mankind with a warning. At a certain date, he said, all the water in the world that had not been specially hoarded would disappear. It would then be renewed, with different water, which would drive men mad.
Only one man listened to the meaning of this advice. He collected water and went to a secure place where he stored it, and waited for the water to change its character.
On the appointed date the streams stopped running, the wells went dry, and the man who had listened, seeing this happening, went to his retreat and drank his preserved water.
When he saw, from his security waterfalls again beginning to flow, this man descended among the other sons of men. He found that they were thinking and talking in an entirely different way from before; yet they had no memory of what had happened, or of having been warned. When he tried to talk to them, he realized that they thought that he was mad, and they showed hostility or compassion, not understanding.
At first he drank none of the new water, but went back to his concealment, to draw on his supplies, every day. Finally, however, he took the decision to drink the new water because he could not bear the loneliness of living, behaving and thinking in a different way from everyone else. He drank the new water, and became like the rest. Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had miraculously been restored to sanity.

Not exactly the happiest of endings. As the news story illustrates, going against the consensus of your community is not easy and there is usually a price to pay. In China, there is a saying that the nail that stands the highest will be hit the hardest. However, the story of the mad water is a warning not forget that each of us has, at least, the capacity for storage of inner truth apart from the outer world.

Most of us do not have the courage of conviction nor the inner strength to pay the price for individual conscience. Rejecting those things which we know in hearts to be wrong, for example. Still worse, no matter what we wish to believe about ourselves, we cannot truly know until our beliefs are tested. Who is strong enough to stand up and defy this kind of pressure? I'd like to think I am and on all occasions but who knows for sure? Would I be the one admiring myself in uniform in the mirror or would I be the one secretly supplying food to the family in the attic?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Invisible Hand

He who controls the present controls the past. He who controls the past controls the future. George Orwell

In his novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell envisioned a totalitarian world in which all facts were subject to revision and reversal. Photographs could be manipulated, documents could be amended and destroyed, and indeed, entire lives could be erased from the historical record. All information and evidence existed for the purpose of those in power.

The Open Encyclopedia

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia which allows volunteers from around the world to write and edit articles collaboratively. Its 16 million articles (over 3.4 million in English) can be edited by anyone with access to the site. The management of Wikipedia attempts, through policies of verifiability and a nuetral point of view, to eliminated bias.

However, Wikipedia, for all its benefits, is not without its critics. Some accuse Wikipedia of a bias that favors consensus opinion over creditable information. Others claim that its reliability and accuracy are, in many cases, questionable. Vandalism to articles has occurred but is usually quickly reported and rectified.

The question, of course, is how accurate the information found in Wikipedia is and how on earth we can know.

Virgil and the Wikiscanner

Meet Virgil Griffith. Born in Alabama in 1983, graduated from the Alabama School for Math and Science in 2002 and then attended the University of Alabama where he studied cognitive science in New College. Griffith transferred to Indiana University in 2004 but returned to graduate cum laude in Alabama in 2007. He is now a graduate student, studying computation and neural systems. All very impressive, I hear you say, but...

That's not what makes him really interesting. In August 2007, Griffith released a software utility called WikiScanner. This software allows the tracking of Wikipedia articles edits from unregistered accounts back to their originating IP addresses and identifies which corporations or organizations editing Wikipedia articles. Using this software, one can suddenly see behind the curtain.

In his "WikiScanner FAQ" Griffith stated his belief that WikiScanner could help make Wikipedia more reliable for controversial topics. Griffith also indicated that he had never been employed by the Wikimedia Foundation and said his work on WikiScanner was "100% noncommercial.

Most of the edits were, in fact, quite innocuous, corrections of spellings or revising an inaccurate date. Some, however, are less so.

For example, Wired magazine reports, "On November 17th, 2005, an anonymous Wikipedia user deleted 15 paragraphs from an article on e-voting machine-vendor Diebold, excising an entire section critical of the company's machines. While anonymous, such changes typically leave behind digital fingerprints offering hints about the contributor, such as the location of the computer used to make the edits. In this case, the changes came from an IP address reserved for the corporate offices of Diebold itself... with someone at the company's IP address apparently deleting long paragraphs detailing the security industry's concerns over the integrity of their voting machines, and information about the company's CEO's fund-raising for President Bush." Read More http://www.wired.com/politics/onlinerights/news/2007/08/wiki_tracker#ixzz14WgZKeuZ

The Independent adds a few more interesting names. "Some of the guilty parties identified by the website, such as the Labour Party, the CIA, Republican Party and the Church of Scientology, are well-known for their obsession with PR. But others, such as the Anglican and Catholic churches or even the obscurely titled Perro de Presa Canario Dog Breeders Association of America, are new to the dark arts of spin." http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/wikipedia-and-the-art-of-censorship-462070.html

The Invisible Hand Made Visible

Here are some other highlights from the same Independent article.

Dow Chemical and the Bhopal disaster -A computer registered to the Dow Chemical Company is recorded as deleting a passage on the Bhopal chemical disaster of 1984, which occurred at a plant operated by Union Carbide, now a wholly owned Dow subsidiary. The incident cost up to 20,000 lives.

The gun lobby and fatal shootings - The National Rifle Association of America doctored concerns about its role in the increase in gun fatalities by replacing the passage with a reference to the association's conservation work in America.

The Church's child abuse cover-up - Barbara Alton, assistant to Episcopal Bishop Charles Bennison, in America, deleted information concerning a cover-up of child sexual abuse, allegations that the Bishop misappropriated $11.6 million in trust funds, and evidence of other scandals. When challenged about this, Alton claims she was ordered to delete the information by Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori.

Scientologists and sensitivity - Computers with IP addresses traced to the Church of Scientology were used to expunge critical paragraphs about the cult's world-wide operations.

MySpace and self-censorship - Someone working from an IP address linked to MySpace appears to have been so irritated by references to the social networking website's over-censorial policy that they removed a paragraph accusing MySpace of censorship.

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales spoke enthusiastically about WikiScanner, noting in one source that "It brings an additional level of transparency to what's going on at Wikipedia" and stating in another that it was "fabulous and I strongly support it." http://www.technewsworld.com/story/58856.html

George Orwell once said in an interview, "When I sit down to write a book.. I write it because there is some lie I want to expose, some fact to which i want to draw attention and my initial concern is to get a hearing.. My aim is to expose a lies, hidden agendas, recklessness and inattention to duty." It appears that people like Virgil Griffith are keeping Orwell's constant vigil.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Aliki Vougiouklaki

Aliki Vougiouklaki( Greek: Αλίκη Βουγιουκλάκη; July 20, 1933/1934 - July 23, 1996) was a Greek actress. She is considered as one of the most popular and successful actresses of Greek cinema.  Here's a delightful dance number called Hully Gully from a 1964 film.

As cute and sweet as she was, Aliki could be pretty steamy too, as this clip shows.

In 1963. the Greek film, Chti pokardia sto thranio was shot simultaneously in Greek and Turkish, with two different crews. Aliki starred in both versions, with her voice being dubbed in the Turkish version, Siralardaki Heyecanlar

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dusty the Cat

2pt5j41.jpg

I love how much the dog in the top right-hand corner seems to be getting a lot of amusement.

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Billie Davis

The sound and video quality of this clip are both quite remarkable. And doesn't Billie look gorgeous here? Here's some bio info, courtesy of Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billie_Davis

Billie Davis (born Carol Hedges, 22 December 1945, Woking, Surrey, England) is an English female singer who had hits in the 1960s, and is best remembered for the UK hit version of the song, "Tell Him" (1963) and "I Want You to Be My Baby" (1968).

Who Broke Google?

templeI wanted to share a fun site with my followers.  Who would have thought the Internet was so fragile?

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Problem Solved: Bag to Bag

We live in an age of convenience. There is, however, a price to pay for it. Can you imagine a world without plastic bags? And yet, plastic bags, which are so much more common here in Turkey than in the US, are a real environmental problem.

Only 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled worldwide while the remainder can be around for centuries. It costs $4,000 to process and recycle a ton of plastic which can then be sold on the commodities market for… only $32, according to Jared Blumenfeld, director of San Francisco's Department of the Environment. Once they are thrown away, the plastic bags are dumped in landfills or still worse in the seas and oceans.

According to the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, more than a million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die every year from eating or getting entangled in plastic.

The Environmental Protection Agency in the US released data that shows that somewhere between 500 billion to a trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. Imagine that. Now imagine that these relatively trivial products of convenience will survive you by perhaps a couple thousand years.

So, should we simply throw up our hands and give up? Well, you could or you can decide to be part of the solution. The photos below (provided by http://plasticbagbag.com) show one potential answer.

By using many bags to make one tote and by shopping with this re-usable tote-bag each time you go to the market, you will not be adding to the problem and you will be taking used plastic bags out of circulation.

Perfect for the Guest Bedroom

rat slippers

YEEkkk! It's a pair of slippers!

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