Wednesday, February 14, 2007


The International Istanbul Film Festival's (IIFF) vice-infested and promiscuous niece, the !F film festival, pushes off this week and no doubt proves yet again that "dark hands have chosen Turkey" as our mystic prime minister so eloquently put it. The poster for the horror film The Host is probably an apt flag to mark the occasion with given the recent nature of the events we live in, allowing frivolus transitions from the heavy and turbulent "state of the union." One can be cheeky in relating it to a certain inconvenient assasination and point to Mike D'Angelo's review of the film: "Speaking of children being swallowed up by pure evil..." ( incidentally the other film in his column, the Lives of Others, is also being screened at the festival, someone's apparently reading m'da) And the title may perhaps remind one of that condescending view that some people in this country have, that this country is not a rightful "home country" for some individuals but rather a "host country" in which they have to display the proper manners expected of a well-behaved guest.

Regardless, this movie from the guy that made the great Memories of Murder, is blowing a lot of people away. The !F also has its own raunchy section including Destricted and The Exterminating Angels, and if you thought there was always something missing from Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise then the movie you were looking for was probably In Bed ( "Before Sunrise, with sex") The !F, being the easy lay that it is, will be at playing at the AFMs at Beyoglu and Caddebostan, which means that unlike some still unrenovated opera-houses-turned-cinemas they should have properly angled seats and good sound systems. It'll also be heading to Ankara in the beginning of March. Like I said, promiscuous.

Also, Dani Siciliano will be playing a live set at Babylon for the opening party on Saturday the 17th. put yourself down, pick yourself up etc etc.

Also since I mentioned D'Angelo, go here to view a top ten countdown for the best in 2006 categories ranging from best film to best scene, followed by numbers you don't understand and voted on by people you don't think exist.



Monday, January 29, 2007


"I never heard of this guy until now, but from what I understand he said some things against this country and he was found guilty. Now you make this guy a hero, I don't get it." --calller on NTV Radio Talk Show "The People's Voice" (Halkin Sesi)

"Well, we finished off the Greeks in this country, and we're finishing off the Armenians, and now it looks like the Kurds will be next. Frankly, I'm starting to get scared...." --calller on NTV Radio Talk Show "The People's Voice"

"Hi, I'd just like to say that I've been reading only the Cumhuriyet newspaper for the last thirty years and nothing else. In those thirty years, I never knew who was the editor of that newspaper and I still don't. I never knew or heard of the names of editors of Sabah, Milliyet, Hurriyet, or any other major newspaper for that matter. But I knew that Hrant Dink was the editor of the Agos newspaper. Why? Because for the last thirty years, the columnists I read have been quoting his sentences here and there and presenting him as a man who was this country's enemy. And I found that none of that is true, and that if anything he loved this country, and loved it more than many. Who then will answer for this?"--calller on NTV Radio Talk Show "The People's Voice"

"The Turkish press is responsible. Did they not say that he was insulting Turks? They did. Did they not say that he wrote "the poison in the Turk's blood must be replaced with our clean blood?" They did. Was he not charged with betraying this country for writing those words? He was. Was he not convicted of the charge? He was. And isn't the penalty for treason death? It is. Then where is the mystery here?"--calller on NTV Radio Talk Show "The People's Voice"

Elsewhere, the Turkish Torque outdoes himself by scanning and translating the schizophrenia of the Turkish press (scroll down when you get there).


Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Yasar Kemal: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

There's nothing like an 83-year-old dude who's had enough and isn't taking shit from anybody, which is why, in the midst of all the pain and anger, one had to laugh away the tears if they witnessed the footage of Yasar Kemal leaving the crowded apartment after paying Hrant Dink's family his respects. It was one of my favorite moments during this entire ordeal and contained in it the exasperated feelings of many. Because of the language many newspapers left out his last few words, but it was those last few unexpected words coming out of the country's oldest literary giant that sealed the deal.

Yasar Kemal: My father was killed in a mosque when I was four that's why I can't stand these deaths. Hrant wasn't just an Armenian, or just a Kurd. He was a human being...passionately in love with Anatolia.
Reporter: The suspect is seventeen years old...
Yasar Kemal: These sort of people are a large group in Turkey. No country in the world has this much racism.
Reporter: They say you are a Kurdish writer, and--
Yasar Kemal: I have never said I was a Kurdish writer in my entire life. If I write in Turkish I'm a Turkish writer, if I write in Kurdish I'm a Kurdish writer, so what? Some people shamelessly write this about me. Try calling Mevlana a "Turkish poet." Mevlana wrote in Farsi, he resides at the top of Persian literature. I'm as much Kurdish, as Mevlana is Turkish. Watch what's going on here, these guys are looking for an excuse to kill people.
Reporter: Aren't you afraid of death threats?
Yasar Kemal: I don't give a damn. I lived my years, let them come and try. They can go fuck themselves.

Well, better if you watch it. It's in the delivery.


Monday, January 22, 2007


"I needed to have an operation...he came to my aid...I'm shattered inside, I can't..."
--A weeping mourner placing a rose on the ground where Hrant Dink's body lay

Hrant Dink's Shoes

Translated from Turkish in Ekşi Sözlük (Read original here):

This shoe is the thing that strangles my heart, that makes me a scattered mess...destititution and poverty is always hard to witness...especially when it goes hand in hand with death...all the tears one has saved throughout the day will be set free and flooded...

It will unleash my tears but I can't even begin to think what it will do to his girl who will look at this photograph for an entire lifetime...fathers are the love of a girl's matter what kind of father he is...and if he is a father that makes one proud, she would never want his father to be hurt..she would want her father always to stand up straight...never for his hands to shake...The most painful moment in my life was not when my aunt died, but when I saw my father cry for the first time the day my aunt died..when my father resisted and resisted and when he broke down when I, at last, hugged him...when we were little and when our living standards were below the average, and when he would take us to dinner and provide us with whatever we wanted while he just ordered tea, I would feel storms shattering in me--I couldn't eat when he couldn't eat.

And when this was what it was, when I had suffered what I suffered the entire day a thousand fold when I saw this photograph, when I couldn't imagine what I would feel if a saw my father in this way...Delal Dink seeing this photograph, I can't imagine the moment she sees it, and I don't want to...everything aside, a father is laying on the ground, his shoes punctured with holes...for one's father to have holes in his shoes at times fills one with pride, especially a man like this, especially while there are those who speculated about his wealth when it suited them..but sometimes a daughter may see her father in her dreams for a lifetime, her father's shoes...a father who completed his life far too early, and when he died--forget completing his life comfortable and rich--completing his life with holes in his shoes...a father whose life was made into a prison, who dismissed his own life and worried about his family...a father who, loving his homland to the extent of consciously seeing that it could cost his family's life, was declared a traitor...became a fearful pigeon...a father of such scale that one cannot imagine the way he kisses his children..his wife...

I hope Delal doesn't see this picture...but if she does, she should not this country sometimes fathers die with holes in their shoes, they will complete a lifetime with holes in their shoes but their hearts and minds will not bear the tiniest this country most eyes won't see the burning livers, won't hear a mother's, tomorrow, a son's scream...and those fathers with holes in their shoes will spend their entire lifetime trying to open those un-seeing eyes and un-hearing ears...those fathers will not leave bank accounts as their finest inheritance but their honor.

"...and whenever men an women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can't ride your back unless it is bent." --Martin Luther King Jr.

Sabah compares the murder of Hrant Dink and Talat Pasha.


Saturday, January 20, 2007


Swooping down like the dirty Taksim pigeon

My hope would be that when I wake up tomorrow the fucking retarded and honorless Justice Minister Cemil Cicek, who spent much of his energy resisting pressure to remove or modify the 301 law for 'insulting Turkishness', and who called Hrant Dink a traitor and referred to an academic conference on the Armenian Genocide 'a dagger in the back of Turkey' and allowed Hrant Dink and others to be paraded in front of the nation as traitors and become an open target for ultranationalists, to have resigned his pathetic did-I-say-dagger-I-meant-aloe-vera-massage-oil-post with a letter of resignation written in the finest reeking horeshit.

The 17-year-old shooter from Trabzon, who was identified by his father from video footage on TV, has been caught in Samsun on the way to Trabzon from Istanbul and has confessed. His uncle told news agencies that his nephew, "Didn't have enough knowledge of Istanbul to have been able to pull it off himself." The kid who shot a Catholic priest in Trabzon in 2006 was also under 18 years of age. If someone organizes shit like this it always helps when the shooter can be tried as a minor. Trabzon was also the town in which far-leftists putting up posters and dropping pamphlets were almost lynched by an angry nationalist mob. But it is precisely the general failure of the government and the people who avoided showing the required outrage for these events that paved the way for continued travesties. And the misguided mentality that drove them, or rather didn't, was that fear of 'escalating' or 'provoking' the situation to the point where deadly violence would break out between the two sides: "If we defend these people too much, it will only encourage the nationalists more,"-- an understandable fear from a population that has a military coup that was attributed to the gunfights between leftist and fascist militias etched in its memory. Well, Hrant Dink is dead...and everytime I read his chilling last column my blood curls. As one exasperated journalist put it, "We have taken objectivity to absurd lengths. When you witness a struggle between a firetruck and a raging fire, you side with the fire truck." One recalls how government ministers incredulously called Valley of the Wolves: Iraq a great movie that presents the truth as it is while at the same time condemning the prophet cartoons from Denmark and signing some Alliance of Civilizations bullshit. Around the same time, the Catholic priest in Trabzon was shot. As Yalim Eralp, a retired ambassador, in response to Hrant Dink's death put it: "This is a country of peace? Can there be anything more insulting to one's intelligence?"


Friday, January 19, 2007



Hrant Dink shot dead in broad daylight.


Monday, September 11, 2006


Song of the Day: Odd Man Out Playlist Played

Not many city-dwellers travel extensively throughout Anatolia, so it's good to see someone at least occasionally go out and relay their observations regardless of some of their preconceived notions (either consequently adjusted or affirmed). Nuri Akkas, a retired professor in Ankara posted this account on his site in Turkish a while back, translated here:

A Tale of Two Cities: Tunceli and Erzurum

Last week, due to an assignment, I went on an Ankara-Iskenderun-Erzurum-Ankara road trip. Before I forget, and even if it happens to be fragment by fragment, I want to share my observations, especially with regards to the Tunceli-Erzurum aspect. (If I told you there isn't a village left that I haven't seen, I wouldn't be exaggerating that much). Maybe I'll write about my entire East-Southeast observations in more detail some other time.

Tunceli is in my opinion the most modern town not only of East Anatolia, but of Turkey as a whole, in terms of its people and their way of life. Without knowing, and out of sheer luck, I arrived in Tunceli a day before the Munzur fesitival began. Besides, I sensed something strange when I entered the city. There were signs on the main road: We don't want electricity from the Munzr dam. Wind electricity is enough for us. Let's protect our nature and our culture. A classic debate topic. A situation similiar to Hasankeyf. Let's leave the Energy-Nature-Culture-wrapped topic for later.

Tunceli is filled with soldier-police. Because of the festival, they've brought in additional security forces. There are a lot of army panzers inside and outside the city (We call those armor-plated and armed jeep vehicles "panzers", right?) All the hotels are full. The Army guesthouses, the police guesthouses, teacher guesthouses, school dorms, everyone of them tried. No vacancy. The police didn't think me going back to Elazig at this hour (7 at night) was a good idea. If need be, I decided I would spend the night in my car in a some well-lighted area in the middle of the city, but the people around helped me to get a room in some place in the south of the city. Even though they didn't have hot water, they at least it cold.

By not coming into contact with anything, it's possible to spend a short night in the city. Now I know, you're asking, "Is this how the most modern town should be?" But remember, I said, "with respect to the people and their way of life." Otherwise, from a development point of view, Tunceli has lagged far behind. Since it's spread out across a few hilltops, the city has no "city center" concept. I don't think the best hotels out of the few can even manage to get a 3 star rating. Besides a few main roads, the roads are in poor shape. The big Munzur river passes by the city, but the city for some reason has a water problem.

The mayor was DEHAP [one of the major Kurdish-identity parties] member (I know that DEHAP mayors usually don't take responsibility for the town's problems from my past trips. For example, Hakkari and Agri, at least 3-5 years ago, main roads included, were like garbage dumps. One couldn't walk around in the winter, from the mud, and in the summer, from the dust. We would use bottled water for "cleaning." I hope it's better now.) From the information I gathered while I was there, 3 out 4 people in Tunceli were Alevi. The one-fourth left were apparently ethnic Turks and Kurds. Out of this demographic, I couldn't understand how a DEHAP member could win the elections. And frankly, I didn't want to get into deep debates or go around asking questions. Perhaps a reader would like to bring this point to light. [As another reader notes on his site, Alevi is a religion and Kurdish is an ethnicity, thus if most of the Alevis are Kurdish it makes perfect sense...that particular reader says that nintey-nine percent of Tuncelis are Zaza Kurds. ]

The road that connects Tunceli to the Elazig-Bingol side is not that bad. The road that goes towards Erzincan-Erzurum is under construction. It's been under construction for the last 3 years. To this day, this has by far been the worst long-distance road I had to travel in Turkey. I came to the opinion that the construction of the road was being delibrately slowed-down. In short, Tunceli's connection to the north was cut off. People told me the security precautions were being exagerrated, and even the people coming from neighboring villages and town were not being let into the city.

How can a city like this be described as being "the most modern?" This of course depends on how you describe the word "modern." For me (as those that know me would guess), this has to do with men-women relationships, women's rights and the way people dress. The next day when the Munzur fesitival started, all the Tunceli people from four corners of Turkey came flooding in. (The day after when I was going towards Erzurum, The Tunceli Erzurum Club, and the Tunceli Erzincan Club were going to the festival). At night, all the streets of Tunceli were filled with people. Booksellers, crafters, cornsellers, one or two painters, toysellers filled two sides of every street. Young girls and boys, less young mothers and fathers and their children, wandered for hours in this festival area. Turkish and Kurdish folk songs were rising from the teahouses. And do you know what grabbed my attention the most in this uproar? There was not one, forget hijab, headscarf to be seen. Especially the young girls (reminding one of the Antalya resort areas) were wearing the most modern summer clothes, hand-in-hand with their boyfriends, walking arm-in-arm. Don't forget, this is one of East Anatolia's remote corners surrouned by Erzurum-Bingol-Elazig. Not in Ankara's Ulus, nor its Kizilay, nor its Tunali [Ankara's nightlife center] will you see this kind of homogenous level of modernity. "This is how our culture is," they said, when I tried to understand the reasons. (Of course I didn't get it either, when I came face to face with the reality of Erzurum).

The next day at the city's exit I visited a Cemevi [Alevi place of worship]. I took a picture in front of the Pir Sultan Abdal statue that was opening that day with a couple of heavy-moustached old guys (careful, old is relative! I'm 62). I asked them (this time more comfortably), why the Tunceli region was seen as a "terror haven" by "others." In Tunceli culture there is a philosophy of standing by the oppressed, the younger one (in his fifties) told me. Since Alevis were oppressed for many years, Tunceli young folk would back others who were also oppressed. I asked my Cemevi friends about the mandatory Sunni religious classes in schools. I reminded them that one official from the Ministery of Education said, "If they don't want to partake in religious classes, they need to give a document that says that they are not Muslims." One of the old fellow's eyes teared up. He spoke to me about Muhammed and Ali. Everytime he mentioned Muhammed, he would hit his hand on his chest, "God," he would say, "is neither on the ground, or in the sky. He is in the heart." I asked myself what the difference between this and my Sunni past and crticized the Education Ministry some more. They spoke to me about Ataturk and his heroics during the war of Independence, his eyes filling up again and saying, "...though you would know better than us." Later, a funeral came into the Cemevi. Crying women came behind it. Tunceli women with their traditional Anatolian muslin or their heads covered with a scarf. Their necks and legs uncovered, leaning on the men. I left them in their sorrow and departed from Tunceli and arrived in Erzurum.

I wish I had never arrived! I had gone to Erzurum [also in eastern Turkey] many times before. During the Horasan and Narman earthquakes and many times later. I always knew that Erzurum was a nationalist-conservative city. Now instead of nationalist-conservative, "Arabization" (and maybe even Wahhabization!) has taken its place. When I took a trip with my wife five or six years ago I had a feeling it was going in this direction (7-8 year old kids would throw rocks at my wife, at the time I attributed it to their age, now when I think about it, I think the transformation started around then). In all of Erzurum's main roads, shopping malls, and stores, "Arabization" has become complete! Women whose eyes you can't even see covered from head to toe in black cloth even seem to surpass the normal hijab-wearing ones. How long can the two girls, among those VEERRY rare ones wearing tanktops, stand against the stern looks of the two young men who just passed them?

This statement was given to me by a high-level state official: Erzurum has been invaded by religious fundamentalists. All of Erzurum's dorms and private schools are owned by these people, and if college girls need to find a dorm they have to end up joining these religious communities. To save our girls from this predicament, we have to urgently increase the dorm facilities at the Ataturk University there.

I have told you the story of these two cities. Try to visit both of them, and see the contrast with your own eyes. I visited Tunceli during a festival, so some of my observations may seem exaggerated. In Erzurum, I didn't visit the university region. If I had, perhaps my opinions may have softened. See for yourself, decide for yourself, and then write to me and tell me whether I have exaggerated or not.


Sunday, September 10, 2006


You call it Tiffing, I Call It...

"And if your complete mind is a letter then tomorrow you can be a tiger,
a man, an angel. You can be plastic. This is why I like so much
the plastic man of the Fantastic Four in Marvel Comics.
What's his name? He is married to the Invisible Girl.
Plastic man and Invisible Woman can be great pornography.
Plastic man fucking the girl and then he make his penis very,
very, very thin and put inside her vein, and the penis can go,
and go, and go from her vein to her heart. He can ejaculate
in the center of his woman's heart. Fantastic! Fantastic!"
--Alejandro Jodorowsky in a 1973 interview. Elsewhere, Kidney Bingos climbs
Holy Mountain.

This is the time of year where a certain breed migrates to Toronto for a film festival of internationalism, a phenomenon referred to as "Tiffing", or more affectionately, "Fucking." If browsing through odd-looking ratings for odd-sounding movies is your idea of a good time, then you might want to hit up the Cypriot, the Academic Hack, the Futurist Who Viewed Too Much, A Rightwing Film Geek, A Member of the Academy, the Onion Crew, or if you want, you can simply Listen to Missy.

Surely, Screengrab will throw up some tidbits from afar as well. Though the link on the right has been up for a while, one should probably alert people to the fact that Nerve has been crazy enough to let Bilge Ebiri man their film blog, and he has been crazy enough to accept. Thus, you will find hilarious excerpts from Vern reviews, heavily-vouched-for forgotten films, and excess usage of the term Idiocracy. He does include some obligatory Turcic concerns like bemoaning the sequel to Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam and hoping Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Climates is awesome (and does well not to mention the original Superman Returns). You also now have to go to another page to see the meaty "reviewing reviewers" posts, which is fucking annoying frankly. All this and the guy still manages to create a short film and enter it into the LA short film festival. Fucker.

And if you do end up actually going to Toronoto and find yourself aging rapidly and "coming down" with orthostatic hypotension, you might want check out Pivotal Spins, thoughts from a world-weary good friend on being a motivated bone-bender in the (in)famous Canadian healthcare system.


Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Song of The Day

I was amused by Burak Bekdil's PKK piece today in the Turkish Daily News and his non-existent hollah towards the end:

In this odd equation of real-politik, one recalls a Saudi tribal proverb: If you know the price of a man's ransom, kill him" (the ransom was the price that would be exacted by the slain man's tribe in revenge for his death). In other words, If you know what the costs will be for your actions, and you can afford them, go ahead." Unfortunately, Turkey does not know the price it would have to pay if it "killed its enemy."

Well, King Abdullah and his 17, no wait 15, no wait, 8 planes being in Turkey today does add a little flavor to the Saudi proverb. Or perhaps not, given Jon Lee Anderson's piece on Hizbullah in the most recent issue of the New Yorker:

Mroue cited an old Saudi tribal proverb: “If you know the price of a man’s ransom, kill him.” The ransom was the price that would be exacted by the slain man’s tribe in revenge for his death. “In other words, if you know what the costs will be for your actions, and you can afford them, go ahead,” Mroue said. “But here, who knows what the price of the ransom is?”

Admirably verbatim. I suppose "one does recall" as Bekdil says, especially if you by some fate like me happened to read both articles within the same hour. But citing our inspiration probably does hinder our "conversational traditions".

Casual proverb stealing notwithstanding, Bekdil's pessimistic sarcasm is rather commendable, though his conclusion is a tad alarmist: "But what, really, can Turkey do about its multi-million Kurds who do not yet kill but sympathize with their comrades who kill?"


Friday, July 07, 2006


Song of the Day

Ass Called Shumble Thought His Beard False But It's Perfectly Alright

Given the various plot accounts, there's no reason to believe Woody Allen's Scoop is of any relation to Evelyn Waugh's book of the same title, besides I suppose, an obvious connection to journalism and the locale of London. As the book was written by a young Waugh, looking back it would have probably fit the proclivities of the younger Allen as well (given that it centers around a clueless journalist's venture into an African Absurdistan). Themes targeting journalism as a whole though are probably overworked these days.

"Can you tell me who is fighting who in Ishmaelia?"
"I think it's the Patriots and the Traitors."
"Yes, but which is which."
"Oh, I don't know
that. That's Policy, you see. It's nothing to do with me...."
"I gather it's between the Reds and the Blacks."
"Yes, but it's not quite as easy as that. You see, they are all Negroes. And the Fascists won't be called black because of their racial pride, so they are called White after the White Russians. And the Bolshevists
want to be called black because of their racial pride. So when you say black you mean red, and when you mean red you say white and when the party who call themselves blacks say traitors they mean what we call blacks, but what we mean when we say traitors I reallly couldn't tell you. But from your point of view it will be quite simple. Lord Copper only wants Patriot victories and both sides call themselves patriots, and of course both sides will claim all the victories...."

He had published eight books--beginning with a life of Rimbaud written when he was eighteen, and concluding, at the moment, with
Waste of Time, a studiously modest description of some harrowing months among the Patagonian Indians...


Saturday, June 03, 2006


Song of the Day


Which part of this is "deep"?
--Murat Belge, referring to the "deep state" term everyone's been throwing around

Those who haven't written books or articles for the last 25 years, who have attended good or bad classes, have become "respected professors" but never "accused professors." When I took the post on the Human Rights Council, there were people who said, "Are you an idiot?" I took the needed lesson from the court case, but I will not abandon my idiocy.
--Ibrahim Kaboglu, on his quasi-acquittal for being charged with insulting Turkishness in using the
odd-sounding term "Turkiyeli" in the Council's Minority Report

If an important part of the public wants the military to intervene in the government, and if it claps when the military intervenes, and sees the military intervening as an option, then the issue is not with the military, the issue is with the public.
--Suleyman "Yesterday is Yesterday, Today is Today" Demirel


Friday, June 02, 2006


Song of the Day


“I dont suppose anybody ever deliberately listens to a watch or clock. You dont have to. You can be oblivious to the sound for a long while, then in a second of ticking it can create in the mind unbroken the long diminishing parade of time you didn’t hear…Christ was not crucified: he was worn away by a minute clicking of little wheels.”—The Sound and the Fury

“I don’t want to administer a program that satisfies the conditions of genocide.” –David 'It's been emotional' Halliday, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, referring to the Iraqi sanctions after his resignation from his 34 year career in the UN in 1998.

“The humanitarian disaster which has occurred in Iraq far exceeds what may be any reasonable level of acceptable damages according to the principles of discrimination and proportionality used in warfare.” --Richard Garfield, in a 1999 report on that’s often cited as the most conservative death toll estimate (350,000 through 2002).

“The best we can say is that in Kosovo, and in Iraq, all-out war has been avoided for the time being. But unless people abide by their commitments, and unless they redouble their efforts to find peaceful solutions, we have every reason to fear the worst in 1999.” –Kofi Annan at the end of 1998. The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia started on March 24th 1999. The invasion of Iraq did not start until four years later on March 20th 2003.

“I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it."—Madeline Albright, when ambushed with the but-half-a-million-Iraqi-children-died question by a reporter in 1996.

“Most Iraqis…feel they were handed the worst possible outcome from the Gulf War -- sanctions and Saddam.”—Paul Wolfowitz in 1997.

“Say what you will about it, it was thirty years of peace.” –Brent Scowcroft in summarizing the last thirty years in the Middle East.

“Then they talked about what they would do with twenty-five dollars. They all talked at once, their voices insistent and contradictory and impatient, making of unreality a possibility, then a probability, then an incontrovertible fact, as people will when their desires become words.”—The Sound and the Fury

“Outsiders who have not dealt with Iraq cannot easily understand the extent to which the terror of the Hussein years has penetrated that unhappy nation.”—Rolf Ekeus, head of UNSCOM from 1991-1997, currently OSCE High Commissioner of Ethical Minorites, in making the case for war.

“Iraq always gave up materials once it was in its interest to do so. Iraq has spent the past 30 years building up an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Although the current threat presented by Iraq militarily is modest, both in terms of conventional and unconventional weapons, it has never given up its intent to develop and stockpile such weapons for both military and terrorist use…The link with al-Qaeda is disputed, but is, in any case, not the principal terrorist link of concern. Iraq has long trained and supported terrorist activities and is quite capable of initiating such activity using its security services.”—the late weapons inspector Dr. David Kelly advocating regime change on his own terms.

"Ironically, Kelly, like most of the weapons inspectors, probably wasn't suspicious enough of the intelligence on Iraqi WMD."--Juan Cole.

"When he assumed his post as the chief U.N. weapons inspector inspector in 1997, Richard Butler, an Australian arms control expert, told Anthony Zinni that whether the Americans liked it or not he was prepared to give the Iraqis a clean bill of health if they complied with the terms of the U.N inspections. When Zinni saw Butler again a few months later the UN inspector seemed frustrated beyond endurance. 'He was the angriest most pissed off man in the world. He hated Tariq Aziz and his silk suits and his cigars and the sufferring of the people and the lies and the deception,' Zinni recalled. 'It was clear to the inspectors, I think, that even if you could not find smoking guns that Saddam had the framework to restart a program.'"--Cobra II

“A war in Iraq might not be the greatest humanitarian disaster of all times as some critics argue. But it is surely one of the major opportunities to reduce potential humanitarian damage in the world. To date, the lack of open discussion to address these risks and reduce harm is in striking contrast to the very public dissemination of plans for war.” –Richard Garfield, in correspondence in Lancet, 2003.

We had filed a three-month report the week before, and Madeline Albright was leading the strong resistance to the wording of a new mandate that would include our “ensuring” stability and security in the province of Rwanda. “In her view, it would be more practical to describe the task as the ‘promotion’ of stability,” the code cable read. How far does one go up the scale in the use of force to achieve “promotion” without getting into “ensuring”? How could a junior officer understand the resultant new ROE in the field? Once again, we could end up with soldiers injured and dying, and more innocent people sacrificed, because of nuances in mandate that the politicos did not fully comprehend. I had terribly mixed feelings about my departure but all it took was a code cable such as this or another frustrating session with the administration gang to reaffirm my total incapacity to accept any more excuses, delays or budget limitations.—Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, Force Commander of UNAMIR


Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Song Of The Day

Autonomous Regions

Guilin resembles a watery, foresty version of Cappadocia... complete with the "This hill looks like camel" commentary.

Guide: The Guilin area is very poor...this is because it is an autonomous region.

Thinking: That makes sense I guess, central government probably said you want to be autonomous, we're not going to give you any cash...

So how does a region become autonomous, exactly?

Guide: The central government decides...The primary reason is if a province is poor and if it is difficult for the central government to create development in the region.

it's not poor because it's autonomous, it's autonomous because it's poor ...nice.

...How many autonmous regions are there?

Guide: Five. But Tibet and Taiwan are a different situations...

These five pictures are apparently supposed to be in every Chinese schoolroom. Probably a good case as any for the "Imperialism of anti-Imperialism." If this is not amusing already, imagine if the first three pictures were of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Ventured into Catalhoyuk last week in order to witness the obstruction of the sun by pocket change...

Istanbul Film Festival (through April 16th)

The relatively new include: Caveh Zahedi's I Am a Sex Addict, Nick Cave's The Proposition, The Dardennes' The Child, Takeshi Kitano's Takeshis', Carlos Reygadas' Battle in Heaven, Atom Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies, Soderbergh's Bubble, James Longley's Iraq in Fragments

Some classics include: Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits, Mike Leigh's Naked, Tarkovsky's Nostalghia, Wong Kar-Wai's awesome 2046 (yes, it's a classic damnit), and a Rossellini restrospective.

Where Are They Now: A year after Pelin Esmer's Oyun (Play) was shown at the fest, it finally opened in select venues in Istanbul a few weeks ago. Bilge Ebiri's New Guy, which played in the 2003 fest, is out on DVD. (Note: these are not playing in this year's fest).


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