Type-A bureaucrat who professionally pushes papers in the Middle East. History nerd, linguistic geek, and devoted news junkie.
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Falling for The City

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Fall often crashes down like a ton of bricks over Istanbul, but it’s a welcome blow. Crisp evenings replace sticky, humid ones overnight. During the day it’s warm enough to walk around in a T-shirt if it’s sunny, though you may need to have a sweater on hand if the sun dips behind a cloud.

It was a late afternoon in early October that cemented our deep love for Istanbul. We boarded a ferry from the Anatolian side before the sun set. It was still warm enough to sit outside without a jacket, and the energy of the changing season, both invigorating and soothing, coursed through the air and then our veins. Some resentment we felt for The City after a few stressful months melted away and we found ourselves enjoying the breeze on a boat approaching the point where the Marmara Sea meets the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, gazing out at the historical peninsula of this endlessly beautiful city.

It was an afternoon in early October that cemented our deep love for Istanbul.

Committing to living in Istanbul means mostly sticking around for its often drizzly, depressing winters and scorching summers that seem to last forever. But every October, even for a fleeting moment, we feel some of the same energy we felt that day on the ferry. And sure enough, fall is the best time to be here. It is neither too hot during the day, nor too chilly at night, and the city is prime for maximum exploration. Realizing that a long spell of cloud cover and rainfall may soon inhibit a full day of enjoying the city, we make sure to act accordingly. Below is an itinerary we’ve whipped up for making the best of a fall day in Istanbul:

The day starts in the Kurtuluş neighborhood at Göreme Muhallebicisi, the original branch of a small chain of classic pudding shops famous for their excellent desserts, including an impossibly sweet, delicious sütlaç. But Göreme also cranks out a mean breakfast menu, including a hearty, potent sucuklu yumurta, sunny-side-up eggs with a healthy portion of garlicky sucuk sausage slices guaranteed to soak up even the most harrowing of hangovers. The menemen is consistently delicious, and if we’re feeling under the weather, we don’t leave without a small bowl of tavuk suyu çorbası, soothing chicken noodle soup topped with fresh-squeezed lemon and black pepper.

If the morning is a bit nippy, we head just up the street to Damla, a delightfully tiny kiosk serving wonderful homemade ice cream in the summer and boza once the weather starts to cool. Though synonymous with winter, boza season begins as soon as it is cool enough for the thick, slightly fermented millet beverage to resist spoiling. It tastes like a splash of Pabst Blue Ribbon over thick applesauce, and imbues us with strength to stave off the colder months.

From right across the military museum in nearby Harbiye, we hop into a dolmuş, which conveniently drops us off steps away from the Beşiktaş ferry pier, where we board a boat bound for Kadıköy on the Anatolian side. We make sure to secure a prime outdoor seat, before scuffling to the café for a glass of strong, piping hot çay, our favorite ferry companion.

Arriving in Kadıköy, we head to the heart of the district and wander its slender streets until we get hungry for lunch, which is a no-brainer. We stroll to the calm, residential Moda quarter for a döner sandwich from Korkmaz Büfe, which serves some of our favorite in the city. The meat is bought, sliced and marinated daily, and it usually runs out by 4 p.m. at the latest, a testament to its sublime quality and the excellent knife skills of the mustachioed duo behind the counter.

Assuming it’s sunny and relatively warm, we head a few blocks up the street and stop for a post-lunch ice cream cone at Ali Usta’s, perhaps the most famous ice cream shop in the city. Around evening time the lines can get ridiculous, but the early afternoon shouldn’t present much of a problem. Afterwards, we amble over to the Moda Aile Çay Bahçesi, an open-air tea café with expansive views of the Marmara Sea. After a few glasses, we’re ready for a stroll alongside the Moda coast, among our favorite hangout spots during the warmer months.

Making our way back to the pier for the second ferry ride of the day (this was intentional), we embark at Karaköy while the sun is still shining. After de-boarding, we stroll over to the funicular, ride it up to Tünel and walk to the Büyük Londra, one of Istanbul’s most iconic hotels, which derives its appeal from the fact that the décor recalls a bygone era. We go upstairs to the rooftop bar to enjoy a cold Efes or two on the terrace, basking in the sublime views of the Golden Horn on one side and Beyoğlu on the other. The Büyük Londra has managed to remain a well-kept secret and it’s almost always possible to find a great table, even on the weekends. And it’s not a case of “paying for the view” either – the prices are the same as what you’ll find at other less-majestic establishments in the immediate area.

Once the sun has set, we admire the glimmering lights that have descended on the Golden Horn and drain our glasses. The night has just begun. We’ve built up our appetites for an extended meyhane evening, and can already taste the sharp white cheese, honey-sweet melon and meze in between blissful sips of ice-cold rakı. Our favorite spot these days is Müşterek, where the décor is quaint and charming, and the service is as genuine and friendly as the mezes are masterful. If we’re celebrating and don’t mind spending a bit more than usual, we choose Eleos on Istiklal, with its immaculate Bosphorus views and inventive Greek-inspired mezes. The meal often starts out with a complimentary shot of lemon ouzo, and several other surprises are brought out throughout the meal, compliments of the chef.

If we’re not worn out yet (and chances are we aren’t, as a night at the meyhane is as exhilarating as it is therapeutic), we head for a nightcap on the terrace of our beloved Peyote, where the beer is always cold and the music is never bad. Another option is Barba on Mis Sokak, a cozy affair where finding a table can be difficult. If you can snag a spot, you’ll be rewarded by the impressive beer selection and warm ambiance.

We’ve watched as the number of visitors to Istanbul has dropped in the past two years, and we can’t help but think that those who aren’t coming are making a huge mistake. Spending a fall day soaking in the city’s beauty and delighting in its fabulous food and drink leaves us flummoxed as to why anyone wouldn’t want to come here. Until they return (and they will, one day) we’ll enjoy the changing of the seasons in Istanbul, which serve as a reminder of why we fell in love with the city in the first place.

Locations

[mapsmarker layer="1878"]
 
Göreme Muhallebicisi
Address: Kurtuluş Caddesi 82, Kurtuluş (Şişli)
Telephone: +90 212 246 5367
Hours: 6am-1am
 
Damla
Address: Kurtuluş Caddesi 110/A, Feriköy/Şişli
Telephone: +90 212 233 4925
Web: www.damladondurma.com
Hours: 9am-midnight
 
Korkmaz Büfe
Address: Moda Caddesi 120, Moda, Kadıköy
Telephone: +90 216 337 5210
Hours: 11am-7pm (döner usually gone by midafternoon)
 
Moda Aile Çay Bahçesi
Address: Ferit Tek Sokak 7, Kadıköy
Telephone: +90 216 337 9986
Hours: 7am-midnight
 
Büyük Londra Oteli
Address: Meşrutiyet Caddesi 53, Beyoğlu
Telephone: +90 212 293 1619
Hours: 9am-midnight
 
Müşterek
Address: Mis Sokak 15, Beyoğlu
Telephone: +90 555 718 6559
Hours: 4pm-1am
 
Eleos
Address: Istiklal Caddesi 231, Beyoğlu
Telephone: +90 212 244 9090
Hours: 2:30pm-1am
 
Barba
Address: Mis Sokak 6, Beyoğlu
Telephone +90 533 481 2313
Hours: 5pm-1:30am
 
Peyote
Address: Kameriye Sokak 4, Beyoğlu
Telephone: +90 212 251 4398
Hours: 1pm-4am

The post Falling for The City appeared first on Culinary Backstreets.

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hannahdraper
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“It is in great condition and could be used for: Any and all 19th and early 20th century hygiene needs”

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Photo by PoPville flickr user Clif Burns

hahaha thanks to a reader for passing on from Craigslist:

“Take my old (never used) bidet (Columbia Heights)

Redid my bathroom which used to have a bidet in it. Plumbers pulled it out and it is currently sitting on my porch. It is in great condition and could be used for:

– Any and all 19th and early 20th century hygiene needs
– Modern installation art
– Venting your frustration at the world by smashing it to pieces, Office Space style
– Constructing an advanced birdbath

It’s yours if you can take it home. It’s solid porcelain so I’ll help you load it into your bidet-carrying machine.”

Sad update: “Someone responded to the CL post and picked it up on Friday!”

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hannahdraper
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fxer
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Get a bidet attachment for your toilet and stop rubbing a dead tree against your ass like a barbarian
Bend, Oregon

A Stranger Mansplaining The Indiana Jones Costume Gets Schooled By The Woman Who Actually Designed It

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Parse through any Twitter feed or comments section online, and you’re bound to find people, men and women alike, who tout their knowledge and expertise on matters with far more confidence than they should. The specific term “mansplaining” has become prevalent in describing such acts when a man takes it upon himself to over-explain an issue to a woman, believing that he simply knows more on the subject. 

In many instances, it’s hard to tell if a man on the internet is specifically targeting a woman to patronize or if that’s just their nature across gender lines. In any event, with so many false claims lobbed toward strangers in condescending fashion online, it’s nice to see someone fire back and shut the perpetrators down. 

Such was the case when Deborah Landis took to a Facebook post to correct a commenter on his response to a “Jeopardy” question that was shared. 

The man speaks so confidently that one would think he’s an expert on the matter. Such is the way of know-it-alls, speaking with such confidence and bluster to intimidate anyone who dares question them. Well, Deborah didn’t back down. She felt, as an actual costume designer for “Indiana Jones” that she was in a pretty good position to assert her knowledge on the matter, regardless of how sure he remained. 

Apparently, Stanley had trouble parsing the “question was exactly right because I provided it,” so Deborah, as Stanley did, doubles down, recalling the time when she and Steven Spielberg watched the film together, finding their inspiration for Indy’s attire. 

The person who posted this satisfying exchange is none other than Max Landis, a screenwriter who has been quick to controversially opine on gender issues in the film industry. He’s also the son of director John Landis. No doubt given his relationship to Deborah and his interest in the inequality that plagues Hollywood and society in general, he got as much of a kick out of his mom’s sign-off as we did. 

He then offered a side-by-side supporting his mom’s claim. It’s … pretty clear she’s right. 

Meanwhile, Twitter users have found “Stanley, you have got to be kidding” to be a catchall for when you just don’t have the time or energy to deal with the Stanelys of the world. 

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hannahdraper
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Want to Stop Sexual Predators Like Weinstein? Stand Up to Bullies

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Each hour seems to bring new and revolting revelations about Harvey Weinstein’s decades of alleged rape and sexual predation. In the wake of the news has come a lot of soul searching: how did we let this happen? Why didn’t people expose him? Is it a Hollywood problem, or pervasive in society? How many more Harveys are there?

The answers aren’t the ones we want to hear. The reality is that institutional sexism and sexual abuse are pervasive across nearly all industries. But they are especially severe in highly competitive fields where a small number of people, mostly men, have enormous wealth and power. Harvey Weinsteins are everywhere, not just in Hollywood but on Wall Street and small towns and throughout society. Women (and some men) who face this sort of abuse are rarely listened to or believed, and the career consequences they face for speaking out are enormous.

Stopping these predators requires that our culture do everything it can to address fundamental sexism at all levels. Men–especially those who are not subordinate to the predators–need to do far more to stand up and hold them accountable.

The most common defense that men make in these cases is that they didn’t know about the behavior. Harvey’s brother Bob Weinstein says that he knew his brother was physically abusive and a serial philanderer, but didn’t know about his predatory behavior. Many others have acknowledged that Weinstein was a cruel bully, but say they weren’t aware of the level of his depravity. The same goes for many of Donald Trump’s acquaintances, who often acknowledged his abusive personality but claimed not to be aware of his much more serious assaults. Trump, of course, has not suffered the same repercussions from his base as Weinstein has from Hollywood and the left, which says a great deal about America’s current political divide.

Saying “I knew he was a bully, but I didn’t know he was a sexual predator” is no excuse. Bullies are bad enough in their own right, and many bullies are also sexual predators. Rape is principally a crime of power, and those who take delight in brutally exercising power over others tend not to limit their behavior to the family and the workplace. The social science is clear that bullying behavior and sexual abuse are intrinsically connected.

American culture is extremely forgiving to bullies. Our libertarian ethic celebrates those who rise to wealth, fame and power by stepping on the backs of others. We are the nation that elevated Bob Knight in sports and Donald Trump to the presidency. Even when we try to address bullying in schools, we do it with hamfisted “zero tolerance” policies that more often than not punish the victims of the bullies when they finally dare to fight back.

In our business environments, American human resources departments find it’s always easier just to go along and get along. We promote bullies or move them out of their positions. Our at-will firing laws allow abusers to get rid of employees who resist by dreaming up excuses that don’t technically violate any labor laws.

The social and business science has already proven that bullies do far more damage to organizations than whatever energy they provide. But still our culture allows them to thrive and even works hard to help promote them.

Men like Weinstein and Trump should have been cut down to size decades ago. Instead, it was just easier to ignore them, laugh, and schmooze at parties with them.  Thousands of men in their orbits stood by and did nothing, even though they knew how socially and financially predatory they were.

Americans often have a reputation for brashness and rudeness. But in the end, we’re not too rude. We’re simply too nice to rude people. We  yell at customer service reps and politicians, and savage one another for our politics on social media. But by and large, we don’t stand up to the petty tyrants in our lives. We’ll fight with anonymous people on twitter and savage celebrities, but stand idly by when a boss abuses an underling in our presence, or when an entitled rich man inveighs against a barista or an airline stewardess. Our supposed American courage and bravado fails us on these occasions.

The Weinsteins & Trumps of the world can be stopped. It’s easier to stop them when they’re lower on the totem pole. But it takes all of us. Those of us who know a bully in our company or organization and have the power to stand up to them, should do it. It will mean the world to many. It may even save another person from suffering a sexual assault. Abusers in the workplace are all too often abusers in the bedroom as well, where there are fewer witnesses to stop them.

The only thing we have to lose is our acquiescence to rich, evil, powerful men.

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hannahdraper
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Huh?

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south carolina map

North, South Carolina, is 100 miles southeast of Due West.

Also: Northwest, North Carolina, is in southeast North Carolina, due east of Due West, South Carolina, and east and slightly north of North, South Carolina.

(Thanks, Bob and Rick.)

And while we’re at it:

North East, Pennsylvania, is in northwest Pennsylvania, and Northwest, Virginia, is in southeast Virginia.

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hannahdraper
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When Rescued Hostages Are Ungrateful

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On September 2, 1990, 47 Americans arrived in Washington, DC by a chartered 747 from Baghdad. They were the first tranche of American hostages released by Saddam Hussein following his invasion and occupation of Kuwait weeks earlier. One of them told reporters, "But for the grace of God and Jesse Jackson, we wouldn't be here. The State Department hasn't lifted a hand for us." A U.S. diplomat accompanying the group went up to the ex-hostage and said, "Thanks for the good word," and walked away.

This was not a unique case of a hostage blasting their (or another friendly) government after being freed. We saw it again this week when a Canadian-American family of five was rescued by the Pakistani military after being held by Taliban militants for five years. Joshua Boyle, the Canadian husband of U.S. citizen Caitlin Coleman, nodded at a State Department official as he told a reporter, "Their interests are not my interests." He had earlier refused to board a U.S. military cargo plane sent to collect the family and return them home.

His interests and those of Washington, on the contrary, overlapped in one key area: freeing him and his family. Not that it would make any difference to Mr. Boyle's evidently anti-U.S. convictions, but he's undoubtedly oblivious of the herculean and costly efforts by the U.S. government over the years to free him, his wife and their three children. It was an American drone, in fact, that detected they were being moved by their captors. American intelligence officials flashed the info to their Pakistani counterparts, who then acted quickly to strike and liberate the Boyles. Hopefully, details of the multi-year efforts by the State Department, the FBI-led Hostage Recovery Fusion Center, other agencies and the Canadian government to track the Boyles and seek their liberation will come to light in the months and years to come.

In the case of the Saddam Hussein-held hostages, U.S. diplomats moved heaven and earth, risking their own lives in the process, to win their freedom. American charge d'affaires in Baghdad Joseph Wilson had called a press conference at which he hung a makeshift noose around his own neck, and admonished the Iraqi dictator, "If you want to execute me, I will bring my own (bleeping) rope." He gave sanctuary to more than 100 U.S. citizens at the American embassy. His beleaguered staff had established communications networks with American hostages and managed to wheedle and cajole Iraqi officials to release Americans on all manner of grounds. They chartered the planes to get the hostages out. In the end, all American citizens (and many foreigners) were repatriated safely. For a first-hand account of the diplomats' heroic efforts, see, Freeing American Hostages in the First Gulf War.

I believe this apparent ingratitude by some largely stems from hostages' ignorance of the mostly behind-the-scenes efforts to win their freedom. By necessity, officials must act discreetly. If their actions became public, the hostages could be harmed or killed. One of the Boyles' captors ordered his cohorts to "kill the hostages" when the Pakistanis attacked in the nick of time.

I was directly involved in two cases to free captive Americans during my years as a diplomat. A young American man was arrested and kept incommunicado by the communist authorities of one country where I was posted. Sensitive intelligence collection enabled us to track the whereabouts of this man and to hold the feet of the hostile host government to the fire to release him, which they ultimately did.

The second incident involved a young American aid worker seized by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. This guerrilla movement was as bloody-minded and murderous as any in history. They had assassinated several other foreign aid workers during my time in Cambodia in the early-to-mid-1990s. I worked patiently with the young woman's NGO employer and Cambodian authorities in carrying out indirect negotiations with the KR commander who held the American. An embassy officer and I had to wear flak jackets and helmets when we traveled via armored vehicle through lawless territory to a locale close to where the hostage was held. At one point, we in the embassy rushed to intercede with the Cambodian prime minister to get him to call off a military assault that in all likelihood would have resulted in the hostage's murder. In the end, the young woman was released in return for agricultural assistance by her employer. Apart from risking our own lives, we embassy officers spent countless hours on the case at the expense of our regular work. Having myself previously been a detainee of the KR, I also had a nuanced sense of how to deal with them. None of this ever reached the news media. This is what diplomats do on behalf of their fellow citizens and, occasionally, those of other governments, who land in serious trouble.

Those who give us the biggest case of agita are naive folks who purposely put themselves in harm's way out of a sense of duty, idealism and/or invincibility. (Americans who travel to North Korea often fall into these categories.) Mr. Boyle chose to travel with his pregnant wife into the heart of terrorist country to help "the most neglected minority group in the world, those ordinary villagers who live deep inside Taliban-controlled Afghanistan." The result was almost indescribable catastrophe for the entire family. The horror that they endured is heart-wrenching to say the least. And one prays for recovery and healing for them.

I just hope that, in time, however, Mr. Boyle opens his eyes to and acknowledges the massive efforts of the dedicated officials - Canadian, American and Pakistani - who delivered him and his loved ones from his bad decision.
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hannahdraper
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fxer
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"Joshua Boyle nodded at a State Department official as he told a reporter, "Their interests are not my interests." He had earlier refused to board a U.S. military cargo plane sent to collect the family and return them home."

Sounds like a fun guy
Bend, Oregon
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