Tuesday, March 29, 2011


It's probably because of the hat that one would never suspect this guy of being the jerkiest of the minibus drivers who come up on campus.

He's the jerkiest because he's the only guy that charges the "you boarded the minibus" fee to go from the campus to the gate-- a 2-minute trip that all the other guys will take you on for free.

But this guy has a reputation. Good thing he's easy to spot from his silhouette.

Only now, I feel like a jerk for calling him a jerk. It's probably because of the hat.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Feel Fine: Earworm

This is another song I have in my head all the time.

I wish that when people started banging on about the end of the world as we know it, they'd focus more on the "as we know it" part. It feels like tremendous changes are afoot, and it's not just because Turkey's insanity seems to be fraying at the edges. Or that America isn't doing much better, having vilified its liberal intellectual overlords to the point where a lot of people there are returning to the natural American state of Bible-thumping, bigotry, and willful ignorance. It's also the explosion of something huge in the Middle East, where ever that will lead. Or the technology that's helping it happen and which will surely change us and our progeny in ways no one can begin to predict.

And then there's the scary stuff, like one damned natural and unnatural disaster after another. Earthquakes. Earthquakes! Fuck! I totally refuse to watch the Japan disaster on TV. I can't wrap my head around the suffering, and I don't want to hear the Doomsday predictions. It takes a lot of effort to stop myself from thinking we're due for the big one here. And it doesn't help that last night I predicted the outcome of the Galatasaray-Fenerbahçe derby match to within 10 minutes of when the goals actually occurred. BE is still mad at me because he thinks I jinxed it. He thinks I jinxed it no matter what I do, though. I appear to be a jinx in matters of chance. Ever see that movie "The Cooler?" That could be my job.

Seriously, America. I'm so upset with you right now. People have really been watching that whack-job on a mainstream "news" station regularly preach Doomsday prophesies and assorted vitriol? And then accuse the Muslims of being extreme? America is making me sad and embarrassed again. How did this happen? Where I come from, Doomsday prophesies are fringe, along with aromatherapy and those weirdos you run into on the street who ask for a match as a lead-in to the "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your lord and savior?" conversation.

Sometimes I hope for the end of the world just so we can see who was right all along. It would be pretty funny if it was The Flying Spaghetti Monster. It would be even funnier if it was the atheists. Then it would turn out not to be the end of the world at all. Just the end of the world as we know it. I lack religion's presumption that people are so super-special and that the world can't carry on without us. The world will be just fine, thank you very much.

Nevertheless, I'm pretty sure these are thrilling times we're living in, for better or worse. These are times the kids will be wanting to ask us about when we're old. It seems like everything people believe about everything is on the brink of a revolutionary shift.

Maybe I'm just being optimistic. But my heart is always a little bit in my throat lately, and every day I read something else that just blows my mind.

I feel fine.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Banned In Turkey! Again!

Not only am I totally behind on current events, I'm also behind in my own freaking updates about all the cool stuff that happens to me in Turkey.

The latest thing is that Blogger was banned in Turkey again, just for a few days which was good because some of the sneaky computer-amateur tricks I was using to get around all this censorship foolishness also stopped working. I've been getting around bans with no problem for two years, so I was totally annoyed.

Like the last Blogger ban, this one was down to the cable company Digitürk. People were posting matches you're supposed to pay for, and Digitürk didn't like that. From this, we can learn that companies worldwide have been appallingly slow to work it out that there is NOTHING to be done to prevent Internet piracy and they should instead be working on ways to make money off it. Anyway.

According to this article, getting a court order to shut down as many as 600,000 blogs in Turkey was pretty much unnecessary:

Google confirmed the Blogger ban in a statement and said those with worries about piracy should turn to its easy to use takedown systems rather than seek a wholesale shutdown.

"The process for making a copyright claim for content uploaded to Blogger is straightforward and efficient, and we encourage all content owners to use it rather than seek a broad ban on access to the service," said a spokesperson.

"That way, people in Turkey can continue to enjoy Blogger whilst we respond to the specific complaint."

If I understand correctly, all Digitürk had to do was hit the "report" button that's at the top of every Blogger blog. Or, if they really wanted to make a more serious effort in the all-important Internet piracy crackdown, they could have fired off a couple of indignant emails and Google would have responded because they probably have strong feelings about Internet piracy as well, and continue to believe that it can be prevented.

But no.

So here's the cool thing that happened. When you try to open a banned website in Turkey, it looks like this:

It says something like "This website has been blocked by court order." This is what I saw the other night when I tried to get into the site where I contrl my blog from. But when I went to my blog it looked like this:
Weird, right?

BE and I spent awhile thinking of reasons, both innocuous and sinister, that this might happen. Then he's all ,"Hey, post it on Facebook!" so I did, right after I learned how to do a screenshot, which turned out to be super easy. You can see in the browser tabs in the image there is a Google search for how to do a screenshot, and a website called "How to do a screenshot." That's because the Internet is really cool and seems to know about pretty much everything.

Unless parts of it are banned. They seriously need to quit doing that, among other things they seriously need to quit doing.

Since the ban was lifted the next day, I suspect it was just some sort of ban-interim screw-up. Anyway, Blogger is back up, so I can say that for the time being this story has a happy ending.

**EDIT** The ending is not so happy after all (as of March 22)-- it appears the ban is still on, just not all the time and it appears to depend on what computer (home or work) I'm trying to access it from...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Rhino and Monkey: A Fable

So far (since I started the new job) I have avoided public mockery of student writing (by this, I imply that I have indeed publicly mocked student writing in the past). No more. I humbly offer this fable, the result of a collaboration of four Intermediate kids who sit in the back of the room:

Once upon a time, monkey got around Rhino kidded the monkey about the monkey's red ass. Moreover, Rhino said that how did you do to make a red ass? Monkey was so angry to Rhino and monkey said that look at your ass because it looks like my house. To sum up, we won't kid anybody because everybody has some mistakes.

Clearly, my job here is done.