Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The eyes and ears of the Netherlands in Turkey

Some time ago I wrote here and here about the journalist/writer Bernard Bouwman his book 'Mijn Istanbul' (My Istanbul) which will be translated into Turkish and available in Turkey early 2009.
Below an interview with Bernard by ALİ ÇİMEN.
The eyes and ears of the Netherlands in Turkey, Bouwman: I became more humanistic in Turkey.
Bernard Bouwman, a Western correspondent living and reporting in İstanbul, is the eyes and ears of the Netherlands in Turkey. Indeed, his is a name synonymous with Turkey.
He has been reporting for the Netherlands’ NRC Handelsblad daily and for Radio 1 from İstanbul for eight years.
I recently spoke with Bouwman about his personal adventure and observations about Turkey and the Netherlands.

How did your İstanbul adventure begin?
Let me start by saying that I did not have a journalistic education. I studied something different, finished my doctorate at Oxford and returned to Holland. While looking for jobs, I ended up in journalism. I was at the European Integration Desk at NRC, for whom I still work. But almost everyone in the media was dealing with bureaucracy, which eventually started to bother me. I told my superiors: “Look! I do not want to do be a correspondent anymore. I will look for something else.” Just then, in 2000, a post in İstanbul became available and, of course, I jumped on it. Why? Because Turkey was quite an interesting country; a journalistic heaven with its dynamic agenda, including Turkey-EU relations; the democratization process; the place of religion in society and the question of where it should be; the ethnic groups and how these groups should be integrated into the mainstream; natural disasters; and Turkey’s relations with its turbulent neighbors, like Iran, Iraq and Syria. Simply, whatever a journalist wants!

But you had been to Turkey before you had been stationed here, right?
Sure, I had been as a tourist, a few times. But living permanently was something different. But, you know what? My boss sent me to İstanbul for one week, saying, “You are free to do anything you want, don’t bother with the expenses and just see if you could live there.” It was really an excellent week. But newspapers can’t do such things anymore, as circulations in the Netherlands have decreased. Well, at the end of that week, I made up my mind. İstanbul was the place where I wanted to live.
When you look back, do you see any changes on the issues that you said brought you here?
Well, there is one thing that never changes: Turkey’s rapid change on economic and social issues. This is taking place at an amazing speed. And just at this point I would like to share one of my observations. Look, I do not share the concerns of some ultra-secular circles about Turkey becoming an Islamic state day by day. On the contrary, I believe that religious people have started to lead a more liberal and relaxed life and that in 10-15 years time they will become like Europeans!
Continue reading here.
Note: I met both Ali and Bernard. When I met Bernard for the first time we started talking and talking for 4 hrs. Ali is a fine and interesting journalist! Writing for Zaman doesn't mean that you are a political Islamist. On the contrary!

Day opening - April 29

Kizkulesi - Istanbul

Monday, April 28, 2008

Online Dating Beauty 'Upgrades'

What if I told you you that you can have your girlfriend’s breasts easily enlarged without surgery? Nice, huh? And you girls can have your boyfriend lose weight within 5 days, and get his lost hair back as well!
Well, that’s what the new ad campaign for, a german dating site, promises you. The print ads which were done by Saatchi & Saatchi, Frankfurt, show you before and after pictures of people with “upgraded” partners.

It’s funny and witty, and I love their before-after style. The look on that guy’s face with enhanced GF boobage is priceless!

Day opening - April 28

The Grand Canyon

Sunday, April 27, 2008

'Seventh-Day Lovers'; another exhibition cancelled...

Sooneh Hera is an Iranian born photographer which exhibition is cancelled for the second time within 6 months.
In respond to the remarks made by Iranian mullah’s sock-puppet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Iran is homo-free, "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like you do in your country (USA). In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon.", she decided to made some pictures of her homosexual friends from Iran.

In order not to reveal her friends identities, she portrayed them with the masks of Mohammed and Ali.
Of course, religious groups such as the Dutch SGP (which didn't allow women to become members of their political party until 2006, and in fact more conservative than than the AKP party) and some Muslim groups showed their 'sensitivities' regarding homosexuality related to Islam, her exhibition in 2007 was cancelled (peer pressure?)

'Practice of the homosexual nature is undesirable. Our guideline in this matter is the Bible." These are the words of the above mentioned religious Dutch Member of Parliament (SGP), adding that if homosexuality were allowed the Bible might have mentioned 'Adam and Ewald' instead of Adam and Eve.
According Sooneh: 'Religion always wants to control human sexuality, most prominently with a compelling taboo on homosexuality. The three major religions always fiercely opposed any deviant form of sexual practice: even today, within the Muslim world homosexuality is a capital offence, with Turkey as a sole exemption.

I have tried to show a recognisable beauty of homosexuals, but also an alienating beauty that to many may be unimagined, or dishonorable."
Prosit, Mr. President of Iran!
Note: I, for myself, will not questiniong the comments written here. The guest, the person who make a comment is King and will have the Last word. But....but sometimes I will get into it..

A common enemy that is called hate

‘Those who accused Dink of being a Turkish agent made him a hero' On Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, who was murdered by a teenage Turkish nationalist on Jan. 19, 2007, Sarafian noted a particular irony. For years, many in the Armenian diaspora accused Dink of being a Turkish agent for his views that development of empathy between the two communities was not served by genocide polemics. Now that he is dead, those same critics of Dink when he was alive have turned him into a hero'.

“As a historian, my duty is to objectively seek the truth. In the 1990s, I conducted research in Turkey,” he said. However, he and Kaiser had encountered serious obstacles during his studies in the Prime Ministry archives, claiming that they were eventually barred from entering it. The Turkish press was manipulating the exchanges with Turkish History Foundation Chairman Yusuf Halaçoğlu, he said. “Upon Halaçoğlu's invitation to work together, I proposed to center our studies in Elazığ. I asked for a list of Armenians deported from the province. If these people were exiled to somewhere and then continued their lives, there must be records. After this request, Halaçoğlu invited me to Ankara and also told a reporter on CNN-Türk, ‘Sarafian knows well that such incidents never took place under the Ottomans.' After this statement, I decided to put a stop to the decision to work together. Halaçoğlu, with that statement, showed his stance. As a historian, it is impossible to conduct an objective study.”

“We have lived like enemies until now. From now on, we must work for peace,” said Sarafian, adding that the only thing separating Turks from Armenians was religion'.

Read this interestıng article here.

Day Opening - April 27

"Girl with the pearl earring" by Johannes Vermeer.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Paris, je t'aime! - The movie.

A movie with 20 directors. A movie which is a mosaic of 20 different love stories, each representing and showing the beauty of the 20 arrondissements of Paris. With well known and unknown actress and actors. A story about sickness to the supernatural, the love of parents to the love of husbands, this film covers all the bases of romantic storytelling. In its beautiful and quirky way, each unique event somehow falls into place to tell a story: that of all types, sizes, nationalities, and shapes of love.
A movie which shows that the City of Light is really the City of Light and Love.
She: Kiss me on impulse! Surprise me!
He: Me, me, me, me! You always want your feelings understood! But mine are childish! Sex isn't disgusting unless you make it disgusting! There can be beauty in this place too!
I was a child when my parents took me to Paris in 1970. The last time I visited this city was in 2002; visiting friends on my way from Miami to Amsterdam. It was a nice 4 days break between sexy Miami and sexy Amsterdam.


Started this new blog full of enthusiasm early this year with some co bloggers, but due to some medical - not critical - situations, Sandra and I are in fact the only bloggers here. But this will finally change soon. I don't give up to bring people from Turkey and surrounding countries here together.

It was nice to discover two new bloggers from Adana through Jake and Ardent their blogs.
Both Vedat and Ersin are students International Relations at Cag University, Adana, Turkey. And these kind of people Turkey needs definitely in the future! If not now?!
Their blogs are added to the bloggroll of Internations and some other blogs their domain names are updated.

Day opening - April 26

Indian painting, unknown.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Beautiful Picture

Hilary Clinton is perhaps the current queen of viral attention… From the “I’m f*cking Obama” video to Hilary Clinton nutcrackers, her name gets noticed.
But Obama’s name is also exceptionally popular…
Which candidate is more popular in the world of viral news and trend hunting? Perhaps the traffic to their sites will help determine the best candidate for the future of shocking trends.
This picture certainly attracts some people...

Day opening - April 25

Unknown Russian painting

Thursday, April 24, 2008

You really must be a Dutch...(+peeping toms)

...Minister of Integration to come with this idea.
There are 16.2 million people living in the Netherlands. Around 1 million of them are Muslims. And of these 1 million Muslims there are probably 100 (up to 150 maybe) women who are wearing the burqa (FYI: in Holland women and men can wear what they want, only the burqa is not allowed at school, university etc.)
And since these appr. 150 women gives the Dutch government a headache, they decided to study these group of women and why they are wearing the burqa. In good Dutch this implicates: creating several ad hoc groups, several study groups, hundreds of reports, endless meetings, conducting several surveys and with some luck by 2010 they will present a fantastic end report. And some 100 people will work on it, which costs millions of euros. Yes, the Dutch like to research everything. And consensus is a holy word.
For me is this typical Dutch nonsense, and not my style. But I am not a typical Dutch as you understand. I also refuse to shake hands with women who wearing the burqa. I must be able to see their faces, as they can see mine! And I don't like voyeurs, as these women act like peeping toms..)
Note: picture above is of a Muslima while demonstrating against the possibility that the Dutch government would prohibit the burqa in public places, December 2006.

The Bridge of Sighs in Venice, a remarkable day.

Bridge Of Sighs: The world’s most poetically-named bridge, Il Ponte dei Sospiri, the Bridge of Sighs, was built in 1614 so that prisoners of the Venetian state could be transferred in secret from the Doge’s Palace to the so-called Nuovi Prigioni, or New Prisons.

The wistful name was actually conceived by the English poet Lord Byron in the early 1800s that imagined the horror of prisoners taking their last glimpse of Venice before going underground to captivity.
Although Venice in the 1600s was a famously permissive society, it was overseen by shadowy oligarchy through their omnipresent secret police that sniffed out any hint of political treachery against the all-powerful Republic.
The slightest suspicion could lead to a midnight arrest and secret trial; prisoners would be tortured and convicted without being told the charge or the length of their sentence.
The cells for new prisoners were located around the torture room so they could hear the victims’ screams, designed to wear them down psychologically in advance.

Today, this new Prison is part of the standard tour of the Doge’s Palace. One can follow the route of the prisoners across the covered bridge, which was divided for two-way traffic, and peer through the grille to the sparkling Lagoon as gondolas pass underneath. Visitors should also keep an eye out for the more recent graffiti – the cells were still in use for political prisoners in the 1930s for victims of Mussolini’s fascist regime.

It was summer 1966 when I visited for the first time Venice. I was a little child by then, but my parents thought that Venice and ice cream could make me like someone who obey them for the rest of their lives..)
Last time that I visited Venice was in June 2001. Long time ago.

Day opening - April 24

California Dreaming by Zhaoming Wu

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Still... the Cold War. As one of the last Stalinists...
So naive as the EU is about the AKP, so naive is the Socialist International about Baykal and his people. What will the SI do with the CHP at their XXIII Congress on 30 June - 2 July, in Athens, Greece?

Day opening - April 23

Bueno Vista Social Club

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Plea for Action in Guantanamo Bay

These fantastically creative ads are meant to bring awareness to the issues in Guantanamo Bay. It was created by human rights group, Witness for Torture, and was very successful. In fact, the campaign increased the traffic to the website by 35%.

The guerrilla ads feature a man in red prisoner’s suit, stuck in the door, his backside facing the outside of the elevator, and his hands appearing to be clamped in the doors from the inside.
The ads are meant to serve as a plea to action for the U.S. military camp at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Since the beginning of the War in Afghanistan, the U.S. has been sending those they believe are enemy combatants to Gitmo.

Advertising Agency: TBWA\RAAD, Dubai

Day Opening - April 22

"The Lesson" by Pablo Picasso.

Monday, April 21, 2008

New time

Some kind of bombing would be a place, on time?:

Muslim scientists and clerics have called for the adoption of Mecca time to replace GMT, arguing that the Saudi city is the true centre of the Earth.
Mecca is the direction all Muslims face when they perform their daily prayers.
The call was issued at a conference held in the Gulf state of Qatar under the title: Mecca, the Centre of the Earth, Theory and Practice.
One geologist argued that unlike other longitudes, Mecca's was in perfect alignment to magnetic north.

He said the English had imposed GMT on the rest of the world by force when Britain was a big colonial power, and it was about time that changed.

A prominent cleric, Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawy, said modern science had at last provided evidence that Mecca was the true centre of the Earth; proof, he said, of the greatness of the Muslim "qibla" - the Arabic word for the direction Muslims turn to when they pray.
The meeting also reviewed what has been described as a Mecca watch, the brainchild of a French Muslim.
The watch is said to rotate anti-clockwise and is supposed to help Muslims determine the direction of Mecca from any point on Earth.
The meeting in Qatar is part of a popular trend in some Muslim societies of seeking to find Koranic precedents for modern science.
It is called "Ijaz al-Koran", which roughly translates as the "miraculous nature of the holy text".
The underlying belief is that scientific truths were also revealed in the Muslim holy book, and it is the work of scholars to unearth and publicise the textual evidence.
But the movement is not without its critics, who say that the notion that modern science was revealed in the Koran confuses spiritual truth, which is constant, and empirical truth, which depends on the state of science at any given point in time.

Cuba now and then...

I watched the movie: the Lost City yesterday
Since I spent several years in Miami, with some good Cuban friends, I was curious about this movie. In my opinion the movie reflects the Cubans ins and outs of Miami; their mood.
And the movie ends with a great poem:

I cultivate a white rose
In July as in January
For the sincere friend
Who gives me his hand frankly.

And for the cruel person who tears out
the heart with which I live,
I cultivate neither nettles nor thorns:
I cultivate a white rose.

Day Opening - April 21

Eiffel's plan.

Eiffel Tower under construction.

...these days.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fashion before Passion

Amsterdam is for some well known for its red light entertainment industry as well as liberal life scene, its art, and as business hub. But what most people have overlooked is its rising status in the world of fashion and even haute couture.
The city of Amsterdam is trying to transform its image to be regarded instead as a hub for creative talent and design. A lot of old bordellos have been converted to fashion showrooms, displaying collections from well known designers as well as budding, yet-to-be-discovered talent.
Fashion boutiques are opening in “de Wallen” or “Walletjes” as locals call it, one of the world’s most famous red light districts.
The project, called “Red Light Fashion”, is the investment the city hopes will bring its wildest neighbourhood a classier charm, targeting young fashion in particular. 16 formerly erotic establishments have been been changed to fashion show rooms where 14 Holland-based designers display their wares.
Participating labels include Bas Kosters, ...and beyond , Daryl van Wouw, Mada van Gaans, Roswitha van Rijn, Sebastic, Sjaak Hullekes, Ignoor, Jan Taminiau, Jeroen van Tuyl, G+N, Edwin Oudshoorn, Corné Gabriëls and Conny Groenewegen.

While it’s slowly gaining recognition for its new sartorial elements, prostitution is still high. At all hours of the day, red lights glow in the windows of the picturesque old European architecture.
Inside these windows of the love show rooms are where prostitutes are typically seen flaunting their wares. Directly behind these window displays are their ‘offices,’ or their beds. Prostituion was legalized in the Netherlands in 2000, and remains legal today, bringing in booming business from around the world.
This influx of visitors has lead to a very lively urban atmosphere, and it’s not all about the sex. The flocking of countless tourists has lead to the opening of coffee shops, restaurants and now these cutting edge fashion boutiques, which find cozy homes amont the stunning architecture.

Note: just added the sites of these young designers here above. None of them belongs to the Dutch fashion 'establishment'.

Day Opening - April 20

"The Vale of Enna" by Jim Buckels.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Time to get out of the closet

I really love the following article of Mustafa A. It shows how freaky the Turkish society is ruled for a long time, and in particular, the judiciary, the education institutes, the bureaucrats etc.
In fact by grumpy old men. Based upon fear.
And I don't care if they are from the conservative AKP, the ultra conservative and out of touch with reality CHP, or the ultra-conservative-nationalistic MHP which sees on every corner on the street a pawn, traitor of the so well conserved 'Turkish nation'.
A country which de facto is build upon not only the Ottoman one but other civilizations as well: The Byzantiums, Armenians, Romans, Greeks, Kurdish, Assyrian, and so on; their legacy, their first prints, buildings, notions of civilizations are eradicated, systematically during the first republic of Turkey.
Here Mustafa his article.
The paranoid mind of an under-educated Turk get an answer. Yes, most of us foreigners don't understand Turkish Law, and its system. That is because we (mainly West and Central Europeans, North and for two decades now Latin Americans) are raised up without fear.

But for some in the judicairy, the army, and political circles in Turkeyi, its time to come out the closet and show your faces!

Creative Toilet Signs - Bathroom Humor

These toilet signs are funny, and so very creative! I particularly like the sign with the underwear and the one made with rope.

But I think all five of the toilet signs are very well made. I have a gripe though. I don’t think looking at something I find humorous would help me in the least while I’m in a long line and in a hurry to go. I’d be in serious trouble.

Day Opening - April 19

Even if you don’t read Russian, a recent print ad for Louis Vuitton is something of a visual joke: Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the last leader of the old Soviet Union, sits in a limousine as it passes a remaining part of the Berlin Wall, an open Louis Vuitton bag beside him.

If you do read Russian, the ad seems to be even more curious: poking out of the bag is a publication with the headline, “The Murder of Litvinenko: They Wanted to Give Up the Suspect for $7,000.”

Friday, April 18, 2008

Homesick after all?

Maybe I’ve seen too many American movies lately, but I really feel some kind of homesickness for the USA. Or maybe I am simple tired of the self destruction of the Turkish politics, the noisy sounds in the Turkish press, lack of innovative and open mindedness in business life, the pollution of the air, water, land and thus food – full of pesticides – and the ‘avoiding of hot issues’ like everybody will be fine tomorrow. I am also sick and tired of comments of people saying that ‘Turkey is unique in the world and should be handled accordingly’. These kind of ‘retards’ with their pockets full of ignorance act still on behalf of Turkey as it is the Really Most Important Country in The World. Most of them never crossed borders with Greece or any other country, so they are stuck in their nationalistic but oh so dangerous minds. Enfin, I am tired. And have to think hard what I will do. Have some projects running here in Turkey, but Athens is one hr. away and NYC in fact 9 hrs. We will see. Happy Weekend.
But its a good sign that I'm not homesick for the Netherlands. If so, then I am the retard.

Day opening - April 18

Th Eternal Flame in the Hall of Remembrance, Yad Vashem memorial museum, Jerusalem, Israel.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Benedict vs. Obama: POPE Parodies HOPE

ANIMAL has commissioned artist Michael Ian Weinfeld to create this limited edition “POPE” print of Benedict XVI.
The occasion? To commemorate Benedict’s first visit to New York City as Pontiff.
The print parodies the famous “HOPE” print for presidential hopeful Obama.
666 signed and numbered prints of this 16.25 x 24 inches Giclée on archival paper will be made. So hurry up! It sells for $99.

Pope Copyrights All of His "Divinely Inspired" Words

The new Pope is keeping up with the times… by copyrighting all of his divinely inspired prose.
Publishers will have to negotiate a levy of between 3 per cent and 5 per cent of the cover price of any book or publication “containing the Pope’s words”.
Those who infringe the copyright face legal action and a higher levy of 15 per cent. The Union of Italian Catholic Publishers and Booksellers said that it had not been consulted, and that the edict “flies in the face of what we do—spreading the Pope’s message to the world”.
A Vatican spokesman said that the Holy See had to defend itself against “pirated editions”. The move is also aimed at “premature publication”. Journalists accredited to the Vatican are handed papal texts under embargo. The Vatican said that if embargos were broken in future not only would the journalist face sanctions but also his or her publication would face legal action.

Day Opening - April 17

Laurel and Hardy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Women in Spain

This picture was front page news on Le Mundo, a Spanish quality newspaper, yesterday.
Carmen, or Carme, Chacón Piqueras was born in Esplugues de Llobregat, Barcelona province, on 13th March 1971. She is currently single and becomes the first woman to head the Ministry of Defence in Spain.
She inspect here the Spanish military on April the 14th in Madrid. 7 months pregnant, single and a socialist. Erdogan AKP's got another supporter, like Berlusconi...

Day opening - April 16

Prada, Beverly Hills. CA, USA
and Casa de Musica. Porto, Portugal.
Architect: Remko Koolhaas, the Netherlands.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How to start a “constructive” dialogue with CHP in any subject

An ambassador from a Western Europe country, whom I met just before the Barroso luncheon, had told me how impossible it was to start a “constructive” dialogue with CHP in any subject.

During the time we spent with the EU officials, we once again realized that one of the main issues of Turkey is the “lack of democratic opposition”. The CHP at this point is way behind the government party which has been questioned for its flimsiness, whether or not its being democrat ever, or its understanding of democracy as well as its “sincerity.”

That leaves Turkey with unacceptable and nonsense choices alone regarding a government change in the country, such as “either AKP or military coup”.

From a leading civil society organization a representative sitting at our table “ironically” said, “The AKP's opponent in Turkey is the EU.” Given that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, at the beginning of his speech at the Turkey-EU Joint Consultation Committee meeting held in Istanbul Friday had a nerve to still “criticize” the EU, the observation above was right to the point.

This article sums up exactly what is going on in Turkey, in my opinion.
Talking with CHP members makes me tired. It looks you you are talking to a wall. And asking questions is in fact 'handling a jukebox'; you get always the same answer, doesn't matter whom you asked the question.
You can read Cengiz ÇANDAR his article here.

Day opening - April 15

'The abduction', Paul Cezanne