In prison Angel thought that it wouldn’t be too hard to find a job once he got out. He believed he had come a long way. At eighteen he hadn’t been able to read or write. He wet his bed and suffered from uncontrollable outbursts of anger. At forty-seven he had studied at the college level. He told me he had read several thousand books. He earned numerous certificates while incarcerated — a Vocational Appliance Repair Certificate, a Certificate of Proficiency of Computer Operator, a Certificate in Library Training, an IPA (Inmate Program Assistant) II Training Certificate, and several welding certifications — but in the outside world these credentials counted for little.
"Irrelevant," Angel said. "They might as well be toilet paper."
How a convicted murderer prepares for a job interview (via Kottke)
I think about telling my dad, who worked for 46 years on the railroad, ‘Somebody offered me $100,000 to put my song in a movie, and I said no because it’s a stupid movie.’ He would want to kill me. The idea of selling out is only understandable to people of privilege.
Death, heaven, bread, breath and the sea
to scare me
But I too will be fed by
the other food
that I know nothing
of, the breath
the sea of
when the almond does not
blossom and the grasshopper drags itself along
But if You can make a star from nothing You can raise me up
(Source: Washington Post)
The activists, whose numbers include architects and city planners, replied that they only wanted to open a conversation about the design of the park. They wanted to see the plans and understand them. They wanted to know whether the ground level really had to be raised by several metres of rubble, and whether the park could be redesigned to incorporate some part of the gardens. What if part of the land was reserved for a playground, while another part integrated the bostan, perhaps using elevated walkways or transparent partitions? Couldn’t the bostans be used not to obstruct the park but to enhance it—to make it a thing of beauty and meaning? Didn’t they belong not to the Fatih municipality but to the whole city, and even the world?
Alessandra Ricci, an archaeologist at Koç University, has argued that the bostans should be protected under the UNESCO provisions for Intangible Cultural Heritage. “Intangible heritage” is a relatively recent category, and poses a tantalizing paradox: What if it’s possible, by relinquishing our grip on physical objects, to arrive at a truer sense of historical place? A head of lettuce in Yedikule in 2013 isn’t physically the same head of lettuce that grew there in 1013, but it’s still a functional lettuce. In a way, the Yedikule bostans give us a sense of history that we can’t get from, say, the Yedikule dungeons, which are physically the same dungeons that stood there in the fifteenth century but which no longer function the same way. UNESCO does currently recognize the Istanbul land walls as a historical site; yet it’s a marvellous and still underacknowledged gift to be able to look at those walls and also see, smell, and taste the actual living descendants of Byzantine lettuce.
After all, when we only visit fortresses, palaces, dungeons, and temples, we miss a big part of the story. As Ricci put it in an e-mail, “We are now being ‘forced’ to associate the land walls of Istanbul with conquests, wars, assaults, triumphs—e.g., the 1453 Panorama Museum—but in reality most of the life of the walls was about something else, and the bostan is a testimony of this.” Erdoğan, who frequently invokes Turkey’s Ottoman past, opened the 1453 Panorama Museum, which is devoted to the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. He has successfully fashioned himself as an Ottoman-style ruler: tough, ambitious, grandiose, the kind of guy who plants a hundred and fifty-two thousand flowers overnight just to make a point.
And yet, history is a multifaceted thing. It’s possible to envision an altogether different Ottoman politics: one valuing adaptability, compromise, and a highly developed aesthetic sense. It’s worth noting in this context that when the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, they didn’t destroy the Hagia Sofia but converted it into a mosque. Mimar Sinan, the greatest Ottoman architect, designed the minarets and added pillars to reinforce the dome against earthquakes. Then, drawing both on the knowledge he had gained from the Hagia Sofia and on his own particular talent, Mimar Sinan went on to build some of the most beautiful mosques the world had ever seen.
Istanbul’s Troubled Gardens: Yedikule’s Lettuce - Elif Batuman
I did not grasp at first that Russian would be best learned through its poetry. I memorized grammar structures and vocabulary lists. I treated the language like a fill-in-the-blank exercise, but when I arrived in Russia for the first time in my junior year of college, communication eluded me. After two years of study, no one understood me when I ordered bread at a bakery or wished a friend happy birthday. Near despair, I sat one day in phonetics class while the teacher tried to prod her American students to hear the melodies of the Russian language. We rehearsed the same sentence over and over again, testing different intonation patterns. Suddenly I understood. Russian was first and foremost a music. To speak it, you had to learn to sing it.
The Russian language and Russian poetry are inextricably linked. Russians memorize dozens of poems. They employ poems in arguments and recite them on street corners. Their poets are beloved authorities on any subject. In 1991, when I went to study in a provincial Russian city, I was invited to an elementary school so that the children could meet an actual American. “Be alert, children,” the teacher said. “This will be the only opportunity you may ever have to see an American.” Then she demanded that I recite a poem in English so they could hear my “American speech.” I did not know how to explain that Americans don’t typically recite poems — maybe nursery rhymes, maybe a line or two memorized in high school. But beyond “Hickory Dickory Dock,” we are an impoverished people.
"…getting out of debt as fast as you possibly can is the smartest thing you can do with your money. If you need proof to confirm this, ask anyone with money to show you the math. Hint: credit card companies make more profit than just about any other companies in the world."
"Don’t get caught confusing money with security. There are lots of ways to build a life that’s more secure, starting with the stories you tell yourself, the people you surround yourself with and the cost of living you embrace. Money is one way to feel more secure, but money alone won’t deliver this.
"Rich guys busted for insider trading weren’t risking everything to make more money for the security that money can bring. In fact, the very opposite is starkly shown here. The insatiable need for more money is directly (and ironically) related to not being clear about what will ultimately bring security."
It’s up to people with oppressive histories to decide when and where the use of certain pejorative terms is appropriate.
It’s like giving a baby pig a haircut: there’s a lot of squealing, but there’s little wool.