What to Read if You’re Shaky on the Hong Kong Protests

If you’re vaguely aware that polite young people have been on the streets of Hong Kong but it’s kind of hard to keep up with events on the other side of the world (and with a big BOO to the local paper‘s strict paywall), read this one article to bring you up to speed at a potentially defining moment in the protests:

TV Face-Off Dramatizes Gulf Between Hong Kong Protesters and Officials

Here’s a quote:

Nick Lee, 24, a cook living in the blue-collar district of Mong Kok, where some of the worst clashes have taken place, said: “[Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying] thinks he cannot give more power to the people, but I should have the power, not him.”

Xi Jinping and his mandarins in Zhongnanhai know all too well that Nick Lee has exactly such power. They must lie awake at night conjuring ever newer ways to keep that precise knowledge from their greater mainland public.
 

CS&W’s Graceless and Rude National Character Survey

Time to raise some ire. Based on strictly personal experience, here are some stereotypes that are sure to offend. All in good, clean fun. I think I’ll add more as they occur to me. Feel free to irritate your own chosen ethnicity in the comments.

NATIONAL CHARACTER

Finland: Stubborn. Not malevolent.

Germany: No excuse for the disappointment that is their food.

India: Does luxury well. Wealth disparity allows this. High end more affordable for tourists than elsewhere.

New Zealand: Permanent slightly perplexed look. Sunburnt. Buggy eyes.

Pacific Islands: Collective motto: “Don’t hurt me please.” The ukelele and all its music is the cause of this.

Paraguay: Important only to Paraguayans. Who are sweet and all, sure. Still.

Scotland: Paternal. Strong men will take care of you. Like it or not. Ireland has some of this.

Thailand: The world’s consistently strangest names. Like Kejmanee Pichaironnarongsongkram. Except possibly

Turkmenistan, whose leader is Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow.

Turkey: Tirelessly gracious but with a useless language shared by no one but Central Asians. In Turkish, as often as not the “G” goes away. “Erdogan” is pronounced “erdo-an.” A “C” with a cedille, “ç,” is pronounced “dj” like George. Çiragon is “Jiron.”

USA: Groupthink. If you want, you can really think things through and work out what you think. But you have to do more than ‘like’ things on Facebook. Why bother? Your tribe’s news channel can think everything through and tell you.

Vietnam: Wiry. Persistent. Shake hands with tight grip. Prim. Barefoot.

Istanbul in Nine Admiring Photos

I say Istanbul is one of the world’s five greatest cities (In no particular order, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Paris, Sydney, San Fransisco). Yours?

With Turkey in a rough patch since the Gezi Park protests sixteen months ago, and now with its incipient and possibly defining grappling with the Kurdish question, and fearing its reluctant coming battles with ISIS, maybe it’s time for a few fan photos of Istanbul in the good old days.

Click them to make them bigger. And there are hundreds of photos from Turkey here, in the Turkey Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.

istanbul7

Here is the fabled Golden Horn, with the Galata Tower across the way. The Bosphorus is out of the frame on the right, the Sea of Marmara behind the photo and the Black Sea at the end of the Bosphorus at two o’clock from here.

 

istanbul6

Outside the Grand Bazaar. Through that gate and down in the bazaar, march in and get yourself thoroughly lost. Wander for half a day. I once asked around for the Afghan section and came away with three fine pakols, tailored to my head size, from a milliner from Kandahar.

 

istanbul5

Again, the Galata Tower in the center back. Ferries like these ply the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus over to Asia, carrying commuters to work at dawn.

 

istanbul4

The fabled Haydarpasha Train Station in Kadaköy, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. On arrival from London via the Orient Express, from here well heeled tourists could travel on to Ankara, then Kars, then Baghdad and Teheran.

 

istanbul1

Day labor at the break of dawn. Happening every day in the Grand Bazaar.

 

istanbul2

The Blue Mosque.

 

istanbul3

This is seven photos stitched into a 180 degree panorama. Each photo consists in turn of seven exposures combined into an HDR image. We are looking west into the Golden Horn at dawn, the Bosphorus Strait at our backs. See each end of the Galata Bridge on the far left and right.

 

istanbul9

Here is the Ortakoy Mosque in a trendy part of town some way up the Bosphorus on the European shore, the bridge behind leading to Asia, on the far side.

 

istanbul8

And Taksim Square, foreground. Gezi Park, a green space and the focus of the protests a couple of years ago, is just below and behind this vantage point. From here you can see past the Golden Horn and out into the Sea of Marmara. From this vantage point the Bosphorus, to the east, is just off to the left.