Sunday, 15 September 2019


Via Boing Boing, we are quite the privileged witnesses to a solar eclipse caused by the shadow of Io moving across the dappled clouds of Jupiter (previously). One of the Galilean Satellites discovered by the artist and polymath in 1610 and designated Jupiter I, this innermost moon is the most dehydrated body known and also the most geologically (ionically) active with over four hundred volcanoes driven by gravitation pressures and tidal heating from its host world.
The mythological figure (whose name means moon) was one of Hera high priestesses at Argos and caught the wandering eye of Zeus, whose advances she steadily rebuffed. Unhappy with the extra divine scrutiny, Io was turned out of the temple, whereupon Zeus transformed her in a resplendent white heifer in order to hide her from his wife. The deception was rather transparent and Hera dispatched an obnoxious gadfly to pester the poor cow and drive her to wonder the Earth without rest.
She crossed from Europe into Asia at the Bosporus (oxford), where she met Prometheus chained, whom despite his own torture was able to console Io was the prophesy that her humanity would be restored. Returning to Greece, prodded still ever onward, she sought relief by taking the sea route to Egypt (the Ionian), when upon arrival, Zeus was able to disenchant her. With Zeus, Io bears Apis, king of Egypt—identified with the historical pharaoh Apophis (*1575 – †1540, BC), and primogenitor of many of the ancient, semi-legendary great houses of the Mediterranean.  Among the most frequented bodies in the Solar System and well studied, inhospitable Io has been rather ignominiously described as having (the namesake—that is) the colour of pizza.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019


Whilst the agglutinative nature of German might be more familiar with its very, very long compound words, for which there is grammatical no upwards limit though terms would become unwieldy and unintelligible eventually, Turkish also has this feature. This construction through affixes illustrated in the passage by author Koksal Karakus in addressing education reform:

We are in a teachers’ training academy that has nefarious purposes. The teachers trained here are indoctrinated on how to make unsuccessful ones from the pupils.  So—one by one—teachers are being educated as makers of unsuccessful ones. One of those teachers, however, refuses to be maker-of-unsuccessful-ones—or in other words, to be made a maker-of-unsuccessful-ones; he is critical of the academy’s stance on their performance. The rector who thinks every teacher can be made easily into a maker-of-unsuccessful-ones is quick to anger. The rector invites the teacher into his office and confronts him, “You are talking as if you were one of those we cannot easily be made into a maker-of-unsuccessful-ones, isn’t that right?” The final form is the seventy-letter:


Though not a case of agglutination like the Turkish example or the above medieval Latin ablative form for “being in a state capable of receiving honours” appearing in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, it nonetheless recalls the motto of Saint John’s College (pictured above), a sort of word play in Latin: I make free adults from children by means of books and balance.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

ฯƒฯ„ฮทฮฝ ฯ€ฯŒฮปฮท

The Turkish government on this day in 1930 changed the name of its largest city from Constantinople to ฤฐstanbul—the ancient metropolis having formerly been known as New Rome, Augusta Antonina, Byzantium and originally Lygos—and recall us to contemporary name changes we’ve encountered recently.
Whereas the reflagging of ฤฐstanbul strips it of historical associations, the people of Kyrgyz are considering renaming its capital from Bishkek to Manas, a legendary warrior whose exploits are sung in an epic poem that contains half a million verses and is a cultural touchstone for Kyrgyz identity. Some speculate that this debate was sparked by adjacent Kazakhstan’s decision to rename its capital Astana (formerly Tselinograd and founded as Akmoly) to Nur-Sultan in honour of long-serving president Nursultan ร„bishuly Nazarbayev on the occasion of his retirement.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

thread and transistor

As a heuristic exhibition to explore the shifting definition and value of craft in modern society and commerce, Dezeen highlights some of the best instalations during the Istanbul Design Biennial that employed stitching and weaving recontextualised in electronics and as a store of value, as in an heirloom quilt to hand down from one generation to the next.
Looms themselves prefiguring mechanical computational relays, we really enjoyed discovering the functional universal computer whose circuitry was embroidered out of gold and the yarn spindle whose spooling action can actually save a spoken yarn as an audio recording. I wonder if future electronic devices will be decentralised and once again a cottage industry. Moreover, given the value assigned to block-chain cryptography—secure and sturdy though mathematically also relatively simple, it struck us as particularly delectable that there is one gaming circle that calls for players to produce their own knitcoin to advance. Check out the link above to learn more about the individual works from Ebru Kurbak and others.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

we have defeated isis in syria, my only reason for being there during the trump presidency

To the consternation and concern of US military top brass that have been pushing for a continued troop presence for stabilisation, rebuilding and not to afford the Cosplay Caliphate another chance to regain a purchase, Trump announced his intentions to redeploy all soldiers from Syria, some two thousand individuals.
While the majority of the territory once held by the terrorist group in a sliver of what it once was, the situation is still precarious and the likelihood of a revanchment seems in the realm of possibilities. Aside from the suffering of the Syrian population that might be forestalled, geopolitically Trump’s announcement—which he perhaps offers as a human-shield to deflect the ratcheting up of the Special Counsel Investigation into the campaign and administration’s ties to Russia and easing sanctions in exchange for real estate development opportunities but only serves to reaffirm the relationship—is a huge concession to Putin and Russian interests in the country and ensures that the rebellion will be quashed. Also by withdrawing from their base near the Turkish border, the US is abandoning its at least nominal ally in the Kurds and inadvertently (given the diplomatic tensions and trade disputes) by affording the ErdoฤŸan government the chance to further marginalise this group.

Monday, 19 November 2018

jungenwort des jahres

What we found to be most interesting about the shortlisted words and phrases for the German Youth Word of the Year (DE/EN)—previously—was not the winner that the jury of Germany’s young people picked (they selected the fact that Ehrenmann, gentleman, gets a feminine equivalent and that being cavalier of character is not by dint of being wohlgeboren) was among its runners-up was the interjection Sheesh. Although Germans have adopted the English spelling and it still seems to be a pretty fluid expression, rather than a variant for Geez and to communicate annoyance or disbelief, its origins lay with the Turkish word รงรผลŸ—meaning whoa or as a question, really.

Sunday, 11 November 2018


Previous ceasefire agreements already had pulled out belligerents Bulgaria, the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires from the fighting but the Armistice of 11 November 1918 (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month) formally ended the Great War with Imperial Germany’s defeat and withdrawal jenseits the Rhein, holding the peace until the Treaty of Versailles could be negotiated.
Terms of what was technically not a surrender to the Allied powers were largely determined by Supreme Allied Commander Marshal Ferdinand Foch and parties to the truce were transported incognito across war-torn northern France to the marshal’s private carriage on a secluded railway siding in the Forest of Compiรจgne and representatives came to an agreement and signed pre-dawn—with the armistice effective noon German time, eleven o’clock in Paris (France was on Greenwich Mean Time until World War II when it came under German occupation and decided not to switch back afterwards).
From the field, there was a sense of relief and hope but little jubilation as fifty-two months of fierce fighting and over seventeen million lives lost had left many hollow and exhausted. This post has featured a few images from our visit to the memorial site in the summer of 2008. I remember that being the year that the last surviving veterans passed away and the war slipped from living memory.  The act of contrition and cooperation was later characterised as betrayal and facilitated the rise of more terrors but for now there is peace and that is holy.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

embassy row

On learning that Ankara has announced its intentions to rename the street on which the new US embassy compound is being constructed Malcolm X Avenue (with the support of the civil rights activist’s family who President Recep Tayyip ErdoฤŸan met with last month) after the figure whose reputation remains divisive—particularly I would suppose for those occupying the White House presently, I was reminded how back in February, the street address for the current US diplomatic mission to Turkey had been reflagged as “Olive Branch” after the code-name for one of its military forays into Syria to signal displeasure for what is seen as American meddling. There’s quiet a long history behind casting ambassadorial side-eye (starting at the link above) by forcing one’s ideological foils to accept deliveries at insulting or compromising addresses though the most unabashed proposals have yet to materialise. The new building is scheduled to open in 2020

Tuesday, 2 October 2018


As his contribution for the Istanbul Design Biennial, artist Kerim Bayer, drawing from his extensive collection of maps and charts, decontextualized over five thousand snippets of terrain to create an atlas of atlases.
Images are selected and arranged at random to inspire people to think about what it means for information to be deconstructed, almost like the art of a miniaturist given the standard range of devices and representations, and elevated not as a key but data as an aesthetic of its own. Learn more at the link above where each cropped section is sort of a legend collapsed on itself, each primed to expand and fill the whole space.

Thursday, 30 August 2018


secret garden: Google Earth leads a team of researchers to an untouched mountaintop rainforest in Mozambique

ultima thule: on its encore mission, Pluto probe beams back its first image of its next target

comnenian period: an exploration of Byzantine architecture from draughtsman Antoine Helbert, via Kottke

amos rex: a subterranean museum opens in Helsinki  

seven points of articulation: a visual history of the past four decades of LEGO Minifigs (previously)

drainspotting: a tour of the manhole covers (elsewhere) of Massachusetts  

hyperpolyglot: what the people who’ve mastered dozens of languages can teach us, via Digg

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

no, you’re the puppet!

Idiot Trump’s predictable, petty
antics at the NATO summit are fomenting a dangerous distraction as the real and consequential crisis in the making (despite all the tantrums and threats) is the turning of ErdoฤŸan’s Turkey away from its Western allies and towards Russia—a re-balancing act whose execution is seemingly more and more perfectly polished. I hope that the other members aren’t fully taken in by this side-show.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018


wild boars: all thirteen team members and coach trapped in an underwater cave in Thai are rescued

i’m in the business of vegetables, let’s take a selfie: covers of popular songs with auto-complete lyrics

the purge: ErdoฤŸan’s government dismisses an additional eighteen thousand civil servants (previously) and cancels their passports

art-o-mat: cigarette vending machines repurposed to distribute tactile unique collectibles

moral panic: how Tom Hanks’ debut film Mazes and Monsters informed parents about the danger of role playing games, via Miss Cellania

rip: heartthrob Tab Hunter has passed away

department of child-labour: more on the Trump regime’s plot to destroy the US educational system

omnishambles: UK Foreign Minister resigns over soft-peddling BREXIT

Wednesday, 25 April 2018


After two years of restoration of the last known reel of the movie in existence and digital conversion, the atrociously campy cult film that’s better known by the moniker “Turkish Star Wars,” the 1982 Dรผnyayฤฑ Kurtaran Adam (previously) or The Man Who Saved the World will be enjoying a limited theatre run in London and Glasgow later this summer (May the Fourth be with you).
The movie—hitherto only watchable on bootlegged video cassette copies—gained notoriety for its unauthorised use of footage from the actual Star Wars, with other science fiction films and space programme scenes spliced in, has quite an incoherent plot and was roundly panned by critics at the time. Despite its poor reception, a sequel was produced in 2006, Dรผnyayฤฑ Kurtaran Adam'ฤฑn OฤŸlu (The Son of the Man who Saved the World—otherwise “Turks in Space”) but audiences (never easily satisfied) were also critical of the second movie for having professional actors and special effects and was no longer true to the original. Visit the link above to see a video of a few scenes.  I think it’s fun that there’s a revival of such an unambiguously bad movie, but I also hope that the attention it garners directs more people to the finer side of Turkish cinema and film-making, as well.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

odonym or diplomatic cul-de-sac

Via Tyler Cowen’s always engrossing Marginal Revolution, we find ourselves acquainted with the Cold War-era brinksmanship that’s currently undergoing a resurgence in the form of insulting street-naming. Though the provocation is probably best exemplified by Moscow’s proposal to re-designate the square where the US embassy is located as “1 North American Dead End,” Russia isn’t acting alone and not on the offensive.
A month prior, the US reflagged the block of Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, DC that hosts the Russian mission as Boris Nemtsov Plaza, after the opposition leader that was gunned down just outside the Kremlin in 2015. Moreover former Super Powers are not the only Titanics fighting over one iceberg—with Beijing having suggested to re-name the street passing in front of America’s diplomatic headquarters after Edward Snowden. While there’s enough petulance to go around, there’s apparently also sometimes a few overtures towards bridge-building—as it were—with Ankara calling the address of the US embassy “Olive Branch” ahead of a scheduled visit by the—as it were—top diplomat of the Trump regime, a rather backhanded welcome as it is the codename for the offensive against the US-backed Kurdish forces in Syria. It is doubtful anything good comes of that and the rebuke at large is bound to continue.

Friday, 2 February 2018

friday matinee massacre

For those of you playing along at home, just to re-cap the individual, Devin Nunes—who drafted and dropped a think-piece that reinforces the narrative of the government agencies being infiltrated by ideologues of the Deep-State and are conspiring against the Trump administration not only wrote the memorandum himself, ordered de-classified and released to the public by Trump (propelled by the momentum of a twitter storm) against the wishes of the Federal Bureau of Investigations since it could not be expected to rebut this characterisation without disclosing classified and privileged information—was the same individual who in April of 2017 was temporarily removed from the investigation into ties with the Russian oligarchs and possible meddling over disclosure of classified documents to the White House he had obtained from the White House.
Trump was convinced that Obama was spying on him via his microwave oven and Nunes later rejoined the Committee. This was our Friday Matinee Massacre—paralleling the way Watergate pivoted after Nixon’s series of firings. To see what could come next, one need only look to the beleaguered Turkish people under their despot ErdoฤŸan whose purges have not stopped and have intensified recently after medical professionals and academics (already under assault) are being ostracised and alienated for the smallest perceived infractions and anything that does not please the ruling party. Those found afoul in the public sector are not only summarily dismissed from the jobs, they are also not allowed to seek any government-sponsored assistance, and blacklisted—atomised as it were from contacts and social support—are either impoverished or imprisoned and have to resort to selling off their possessions and property to survive. These changes tend to creep up on you and we tend to miss the gradations until they’ve become so ensconced that it’s difficult to regain liberties and trust we’ve sacrificed.  We have to try and stay a few plays ahead.

Monday, 14 August 2017

sunday drive: die siebenschlรคfer

For a few weeks now there’s been a detour due to major roads construction on the way from home to my work-week apartment that necessitates that one drive straight up a mountain range to get to the Autobahn, and there’s been some new vistas to enjoy despite the dodgy weather. I made it a point to visit a little wayside, hilltop chapel near Ebersburg dedicated to the Seven Sleepers.
Click on the images to enlarge them.  Both Islamic and Christian traditions share the story of seven young men who flee persecution in Ephesus around the year 250 AD by hiding in a cave to emerge from a long slumber three centuries later, at a point in history when the Roman Empire had a more favourable view of Abrahamic religions.
Indeed under Emperor Decius, such religious practises were outlawed as antisocial and subversive but the Empire turned to adopting Christianity as a state religion.  One story names the youths as Achilledes, Diomedes, Stephanus, Eugenius, Probatius, Sabbatius and Quiriacus plus their loyal dog who stands watch the whole time.  According to other accounts, the seven are still sleeping and there is also a bit of conflation and cross-over with stories of Joseph of Arimathea as the keeper of the Holy Grail, identifying the Chalice Well in Glastonbury as the cave of the Seven Sleepers. 

Sunday, 30 July 2017

serรงe saray

Colossal directs our attention to a photo-essay by Caner Cangรผl whose work skilfully brings to the fore architectural elements and embellishments that might be lost in the monumental scale of some the buildings and bridges where his subjects are found.
The detail of this particular greebling are the surviving examples of Ottoman-era avian palaces, meant to give shelter to pigeons and sparrows in urban centres that might be lacking in safe accommodations for birds. Not only were households eager to host such guests, the additions also ensured that the faรงade of the surrounding structure was spared from birds roosting all over the place. These mansions are certainly grand ones and many designers lavish attention on the architecture of birdhouses but we suspect that the next talent showcase—prestige project will be in insect hospitality. Check out the link up top to learn more and see more of Cangรผl’s photography.

Saturday, 22 July 2017


Though Germany’s message in support of social justice and democratic reform in Turkey might have withered (as we’ve seen in other milieu) if the country’s economic prosperity were under threat by maintaining its criticism, Germany nonetheless deserves our plaudit for not compromising its values in order to eke out just a little more profit.
Most regimes have no moral qualms when it comes to enabling dictatorships when there’s money and influence to be gained. Even businesses and the robust German tourist industry are showing some character, however, insofar as they’re not—overtly at least, cowing the government to acquiesce to their ambitions and agenda with palaver and ignorance—putting something much bigger at stake than vacation plans or market saturation or even the politics of the present. Though Germany’s foreign minister also enjoys the high-ground in this challenge—the tantrums that ErdoฤŸan is throwing are just as laughable and hollow but far more fraught for the people of Turkey—and authorities have stopped short of saying don’t travel to or invest in (although so much is implied by saying that Germany cannot vouch for one’s safety after multiple arrests and detention of activists, accusations supporting terror and of diplomatic embargoes and restricted access) the setbacks to Turkish relations to the West (Dear Leader’s affinity not counting towards the positive) and for the population are potentially immense and generational. I think Germany can take the name-calling, realising the gravity of the situation.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

around the horn

We’ve known for some time that the fall of the Byzantine Empire—precipitated by the Ottomans’ taking of Constantinople—in May of the year 1453 was an event chronically adjacent to the dawn of the age of exploration with Christopher Columbus’ voyages in 1492 and Vasco da Gama’s five years later (preceding both and inspiring the success of his fellow countryman subsequently was Bartlolomew Diaz). We, however, failed to recognise the collapse of the Eastern Roman Empire and the blockade of overland routes to Asia directly, like the series of Crusades to recapture the Holy Land of Middle Ages and safeguard caravans of pilgrims, was aimed to re-establish trade-routes severed by Muslim occupation.

Unlike what Marco Polo had done a century prior, one could no longer walk to India and China and so a sea-route was sought in order to satiate those willing to spend exorbitant amounts of wealth on exotic spices and silks. Exchanges of goods and culture still continued by the Venetians, with whom the Ottomans had developed a business-relationship, but no one else thought that that maritime empire should enjoy a monopoly on supply. Betting that the globe was in fact smaller than Greek geomancers calculated, Columbus first embarked on a route to the East by going west and never realised that his progress had been arrested by two intervening continents, it was da Gama that actually reached the Orient first by sailing around the southern horn of Africa and on to Asia—prompting the Pope to negotiate a treaty decreeing all lands outside of Europe belong to one of the two Iberian kingdoms. The line of demarcation was the Cape Verde Islands (Repรนblica de Cabo Verde) and everything to the West belonged to Spain, whilst (inclusive their colony on the archipelago) belonged to Portugal—stopping at Cuba and Hispaniola, and while repudiated many times over the centuries basically held until colonial ambitions for all of the European powers erupted. Though the Byzantine capital was subject to many sieges in over a milleuium until its fall—it took the Ottoman forces’ knowledge of gunpowder from the Chinese to breach the city’s defences, it had resisted capture until the fifteenth century and kept open the lines of communication between the West and East. One wonders if that if the old logistical network hadn’t become a less than ideal option, then would there have been an impetus for exploration.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

inherit the wind

Chillingly, we learn via Super Punch that Turkish president ErdoฤŸan has directed high schools to excise the topic of evolution from its science syllabus in public schools.
Demonstrating that wanton ignorance and lack of curiosity is not exclusive to one demagogue, the controversial topic will be removed from standardised textbooks issued to the country’s matriculating ninth graders beginning next fall, arguing that young Turks are not yet equipped with the critical-thinking and scientific background to adequately assess a theory fraught with problems confronting students at such an impressionable age. I suppose we needn’t worry about them acquiring that vital skill-set now. This development combined with the narrowly won referendum to cede the office of the president greater powers represents a national lurching away from its commitment to secularism and separation of church and state and towards a policy of neo-Ottomanism, for which Turkey hopes to be the anchor and guide.