October 30, 2010

no mules are allowed

There is a saying in Turkish: "Don't speak like that. Or Allah may resent"

It means, you shouldn't complain about your situation or Allah may give you such a trouble that you will realize it wasn't that bad in the first place.

Perhaps, the phrase "Be careful what you wish" in English may be equivalent to the Turkish phrase regarding that they both refer to an unwanted outcome. However, they are not same in the sense that the Turkish phrase reflects a negative perspective and it sublty suggests that you should accept what you already have and not complain about your situation. It is quite obvious that the Turkish phrase comes from a cultural and social environment in which things are expected to become worse anytime. On the other hand, even though the English phrase warns about an unwanted outcome, too, it is actually about the unexpected consequenses rather than the situation itself, and it reflects a more progressive cultural and social perspective.

So in the late 90s, when i first bought my cell phone, i was always making this joke: "OK. Now i have the cell phone. So why don't the chicks call me," pretty much trying to say that a nerd is a nerd and just because he has a cool gadget does not make him a playboy (see exbit a: myself).

And now we are in 2010 and Allah might have actually resented me back then because i keep getting phone calls from ladies all the time. Yep, i do get them even at 3 am. Yet, i'm still not a playboy, and i am still the same nerd guy. So i am not dellusional. These ladies are not calling me because they think i am attractive. They don't call me because i am fun to chat with especially at 3 in the morning.  Nope.They are calling me because i am doing their job and they know that i won't go to bed until it is done so i am available at 3 in the morning. And i know that our relation is going to end in the second the project ends and we exchange the classical "thank you" and "see you next time" words.

I know some of these ladies for years. We do business together all the time. Yet, i haven't seen how some of them look like because we always talk on the phone and bounce the project forward and backward through email.

And sometimes i feel like i am a mule who is always overloaded but never complains. The merchant takes care of the mule as long as it carries the merchandise for him, but when they reach the destination, the merchant enjoys the profit he makes while the mule waits in the barn for the next cargo, which is probably the first thing in the morning. If the mule ever dares to bray to complain about the situation, it gets the stick, not the carrot.

OK, as a matter of fact, even though the workload might be at extreme levels sometimes, at least i am lucky enough to do a job that i like doing. And i really don't expect much from people, knowing that people forget you when they don't need you. And to be honest, this is what i am doing to other people as well. I talk to them as much as it is necessary for the project and stop communicating with them when the project is done. If we happen to work together again, we start from where we left.

But sometimes, seemingly small things may happen which destroy your entire mood at least for a couple of hours. That's what happened i saw the invitations to the premiere of a spesific turkish movie which our company have been working on for like 10 days. For most of the part, it was me who did the job and it was me who they communicated when they wanted something to be done. Then, my colleague took over the job and i started on another project.

And they didn't send me an invitation but to him? OK, don't get me wrong. I am not jealous, not at all. And i don't care about the event itself. Even if they send me an invitation, i will probably not be able to attend because i will be busy with carrying another cargo.

But, if they decide to show an act of courtesy, perhaps it would be nice to remember the guy who they didn't hesitate to call at 3 am. I feel bad because they treated me exactly how i feel: a mule who carries their cargo and put into the barn while they have a good time in the inn. You see, they don't allow the mules in the inn.

So, in order to prove myself that i am actually not a mule but still a human being, i tried to list down the differences between a human and a mule:

1.Mules have four legs but no arms. Humans have two legs and two arms.
2. Mules have a tail. Humans don't.
3. Mules have long ears. Humans don't unless they are not from Vulcan.
4. Mules can't blog.

October 18, 2010

the vicious circle of unlawful state brutality

Hanefi Avcı is one of the most pronounced names in Turkish political arena nowadays. He first became the center of attention with his book in which he talks about how a spesific religious community tries to hold position in Turkey.

There are already a library full of books on this topic, but what makes his book pretty unique is that, he is a police chief and he is talking about his own experiences in the book. And i mind you, he is not just one of the police chiefs around there, but someone with a quite reputation. So he was taken seriously.

He was first taken seriously, and taken to custody. Now he is behind bars waiting for his trial to be handled in which he is charged with being a member of an illegal leftist organization. Which doesn't make much sense to me actually, because this man has always been known for his right wing and religious stand. So it is not convincing for me that he is a member of an illegal leftist organization.

But from another point of view, that makes perfect sense. Let me distract a little bit to talk about this book "Blind Date" i read many years ago written by Jerzy Kosinski. In this book, the protagonist goes to a small American town. He is actually American but from a Russian descent and his name pretty much resembles a communist name. If i recall it correctly, it must be mid 70s.  And the sherrif of the town invites him for a friendly chat. And the sherrif blackmails the protagonist to do some sort of a dirty work. He has some false evidence against our guy for the blackmail but that doesn't matter at all. The sherrif says something like this: "It doesn't matter how weak the evidence is. The jury will be from here. You have a Russian name. And I will spread the word that you are a communist. Now, our folks know only one thing about communism and that is, it is worse than Nazism. You can't find one single person in the jury who thinks you are innocent."

You get the idea? It wouldn't really work if he was accused for being a member of a the rightest organization you can ever imagine. Call him a leftist, and here you have a case. There are still a lot of people in Turkey who has no idea what left is, only that it is evil.

But i will come to that later on.

When his book was released, all the attention was and still is on the religious community thing. Well now, i have the book. I have to admit that i cant read fast enough. It has almost been 2 months now and im still at the page 350. I know, you can sue me for not treating a book as it deserves. So anyway, in that 350 pages, i still didn't come to the part he talks about the religious community. But, he talks about some really very serious stuff. And i personally think it is just unbeliavable how come nobody talks about his very serious allegations in his book which are not directly related to the religious fight.  I simply can't believe the horrendous level of corruption accompanied with a horrendous level of incompetence in this country, told by a police chief who is talking about his own experinces and observations. And even if there are some skillful people who try to do something, they are just obstructed in a way or another either because of political reasons or worse, because of plain old jealousy.

At this point, i have to make clear that this man is not a saint. And even though he doesn't mention about it in his book, he is a known torturer. Actually, this is what they tried to attack him with at first, but it didn't make the desired effect, because he had already apologized for his brutal methods he used in the past. There is something he mentions in his book though:  He says that most of the police officers (along with any other officials as a matter of fact) still beleive that brutality is the most effective method. They sincerely believe in what they are doing because they just don't know any better.

Here is another distraction for you: Ezel is one of the most successful Turskish tv shows. At the beginning of the story, our guy Ömer is framed by his best circle of friends and goes to prison for robbery and murder When police captures him simply because someone informs them about him, they just beat him to death to make him confess. Unfortunately, he is really innocent and has nothing to confess. But nobody believes him and they keep torturing him. The rest is his story to take his revenge. You may or may not like the tv show but there is something for sure: the police attitude depicted in the show is accurate and that is mostly because they dont really know better.

Back to book now. There is an entire chapter in his book dedicated to the Uzan Family. I believe that The Uzan Case is really very important because of multiple reasons.

First of all, let me assure you that I have no doubt that the family was nothing a bunch of crooks and blackmailing criminals. And when i read in the book, i just couldn't believe how far thay had gone in their criminal activities, how blatantly they had stolen from the people. There is no doubt that they are a bunch of criminals.

Today, Cem Uzan is residing in France, knowing that he will be put into jail for his crimes if he ever steps into Turkey. Almost all of their family assets are confiscated. Yet, i'm pretty sure that he is still wealthier than any average person in this country. Much more wealthier, actually. 

When Mr. Avcı talks abolut the blatant crimes of the family, you rightfully feel angry. At some point, you feel like "These guys deserved everything happened to them." Yet, this is not the entire story. It has been like 7 - 8 years so forgive me for not remembering the details, but i remember that the state force was too brutal on the family. I don't necessarily mean physical brutality,  no, not this time, but i remember that most of the police raids were somehow --well, a very flex interpretation of law. OK, they were unlawful.

But, Mr. Avcı does not talk about this aspect of the situtaion. Of course, he is a police chief and his only concern is to catch the criminals. But there should be ways to catch a criminal, so that the regular people will be sure that their rights are protected. This is kind of a thing i tried to explain back those days. Nobody seemed to care much, mostly focusing on how they deserved it. But in a proper democratic country: 1. The laws would never allow the Uzan Family to go that far in the first place, and 2. Even if they find  wise ways to steal from people and get caught in the end, there should definitely be a set of laws which defines how to react, in case they are innocent. What the hell, they weren't innocent so why do we care, right?  Wrong.

Mr. Avcı also mentions the Ergenekon case, which is the biggest thing going on in Turkey nowadays. This is really a very huge file, and if you don't know about it but wonder what it is, i suggest you to google it to learn as much as you can.

The general public attitude for the Ergenekon Case is not actually any different than the attitude Uzan Family received back then. Some people already believe that these guys are guilty of trying another coup, so they deserve to be behind bars. Don't make mistake. I am not defending them. I am not defending a coup, as in most people want to make it look like. I am defending their rights which they are supposed to have in a counrty which is ruled by proper laws - which they are obviously deprived of. Make your own reserach, and you will see how weak and irrelevant most of the evidences are. What's worse, most of the evidences are nothing more than a bunch of phone talks which are bugged illegaly. And nobody cares about it.

Mr. Avcı in his book talks about his impressions on the case, saying that nobody has the right to make a coup. Second that. However, he does not talk about the evidence which are most likely captured illegaly, or in a dubious way. Nobody has the right to do that, either.

Funny enough, at this very day, he suffers from the exact unlawful vicious circle. Today, he is the victim of the methods he not only defended but actually invented himself. Actually, he is one of the first police officers who introduced technology into police investigations, which doesn't sound like a bad idea at first. However though, when you read his book, you simply realize that he didn't really cared about the legal aspect of his investigations and listened to anyone he suspected. Those people he listened might be the worst criminals this counry has seen, or they might be innocent. All I am asking is, where is the law in this?

There is no law. That's why Mr. Avcı is now in prison waiting for his trial to begin in which he is accused of being a member of an illegal leftist organization. That's why his office which he had left months ago was raided by the police, without the attendance of his lawyer, and some sound tapes were found which were illegaly recorded at least ten years ago. It is really not clear why Mr. Avcı left those tapes in an office which he had already emptied, only if, they were not planted there. And if, unauthorized sound tapes are illegal, what are we supposed to do with all those sound tapes regarding the Ergenekon Case, which Mr. Avcı was defending so fiercly in his book.

Now he is the victim in a game in which he has always been the hunter. Unfortunately for me and for my possible children in the future, i don't see no light here.

October 11, 2010

Zuckerberg and The Winklevosses

The movie Social Network tells us the story of Facebook, how it is founded.

It is already a public information so i don't condiser it as a spoiler: The Winklevoss twins and another  friend of theirs, Divya Narendra, claim that Mark Zuckerberg stole the whole idea from them.

The thing is, no matter if the Winklevosses are right or wrong, it really took too long for them to build and activate the social network site. They have a cool idea but they just can't make it real regarless of their excuses. Mark Zuckerberg, on the other hand, builds the entire site in like 2 months, doing almost everything by himself.

Bottom line here is: he does shit, not talk. 

Zuckerberg is a genius, or at least this is how he is portrayed in the movie. So he has an advantage in that. But honestly, i really don't think you need to be a genius to make a site like Facebook, or at least the one in its early forms. Obvioulsy enough, you need to know coding, or you will have to stuck with other people who knows coding and who can steal your idea or who can stall you like forever.

This is how things are run in real life too. Many people have a cool idea. But they don't really do much to make them real. It is not like all of them will become the next billionaire, but at least they do something. And the others, they just wait.

October 05, 2010

i actually pity her, you know

like 10 minutes ago, i heard a guy shouting in the other room. a fight maybe? then he rushed into my room to grab the phone. i think the one in his room was occupied. and i asked him what is going on.

he told me that he just received another SMS from his bank, saying that they have activated an insurance policy -which he had already cancelled once. so he was angry because the bank simply insisted on doing what they intended to do in the first place.

which reminds me: i hate banks.

they love to pretend as if they always follow the latest technology, and they work so hard to serve us better and better and...  well, this is bullshit. ask a bank to do something which is not in their regular work plan, and you will see how clumsy they get with all that technology they love to brag all the time. when i got married and moved to our own apartmen like 6 years ago, i remember that i had to visit the bank office at least 3 times just to make them send my credit report to my new address. yep, they can't even do that. each time the person i talked to said that she change it and made me sign a lot of papers, but reports were sent to my prior address anyhow.

so i hate banks, but of course i don't hate the people who work for them. in fact, my sister-in-law used to work for a bank and i pretty much know how a stressfull workplace they are. and even if i didn't know anybody who actually worked for a bank, i could have easily guessed that.

yesterday i got another phone call from my bank. they do that from time to time, mostly to let me know that i am eligible to receive a bank loan which i never asked for. and yesterday, a girl called me to inform me about a new credit card. i should have hanged the phone right at that moment, but you see, i am a polite guy and i can never do that. there are people who close down the phone before they click to turn off the connection and you hear a big bump echoing in your head. i never do that either. but some people do, not necessarily noticing how disturbing it is.

so anyway, the girl started to tell me about the advantages of their new credit card. i think there was a list in front of her and she had to read them to me no matter how hard i try to tell her that i am not interested: "We have a 5% advantage for blah blah.." - "I don't care." -  "I see sir. We have an option to make installments even if your bank and the shop don't have an agreement."  - "I don't care." - "I see sir. We also have..."  - "Please don't continue. I don't care and I will not buy your credit card." -  "I see sir. But we have..." - "F.U"

Ok, i didn't outspeak the last part. But finally i had to stop her from reading her list and hanged the phone down. it was irritating. but i was angry to the bank, never to that poor girl who was forced to politely read some shitty list in front of her no matter how hars responses she gets, and i am pretty sure that not everybody is as polite as i am.