Erdogan’s Qatar

August 17, 2018

By Sail A’non

“[Today] Turkey won a measure of international support in its increasingly tense standoff with the United States when Qatar offered a relatively small but symbolically important financial lifeline.” [Jack Ewing and Carlotta Gall, August 15, 2018]

While the promise of investment was touted as a victory for Mr. Erdogan, the support amount is insignificant, $15 billion, in international aid terms. It is only a small fraction of what is needed to pay its international debts or prop up its economic decline.

The agreement was announced following a lunch in Ankara between President R. T. Erdogan and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the emir of Qatar. It is instructive, in particular for Mr. Erdogan to recall that “in 1871, the ruling Al Thani tribe of Qatar [represented today by Sheikh al-Thani] had submitted to Ottoman rule due to military and political pressure from Midhat Pasha, the governor of the Ottoman Vilayet [province] of Baghdad.” [Anscombe, 1997].

Erdogan, who is depicted, these days, with the coat of arms of the Ottoman Empire, calls New Turkey a synthesis of Islamic nationalism, Ottoman nostalgia and the last days of Kemalist Turkey. Ottoman’s relationship with Qatar is a sorted affair; they were on again off again due to conflicts of taxes, tariffs, and independence. Finally, parting ways for good after Qatar’s Jassim bin Mohammed defeated Ottoman Mehmed Hafiz Pasha forcing the Ottomans’ concession of defeat and a treaty that would later form the basis of Qatar’s emerging as an autonomous country within the empire.

Erdogan has made an agreement with Qatar, a vassal of the mighty Ottomans, to receive monetary crumbs to save his hide, exhibiting not even the shadow of the power and pride that the Ottoman’s possessed.


The Talking Man

August 7, 2018

By Sail Anon

“Kick the habit and join the unhooked generation!” is a decades old slogan that took a lot of concerted effort by researchers, politicians, health care officials and individuals to make work. In the end, it helped wean most Americans from a smoke sucking habit, possibly beyond anyone’s expectation. Today, the only way you can see smokers is as if they are members of an endangered species. You need to go to special smoke sucking spots called “designated areas.” Most buildings are smoke free. Even restaurants and bars are declared “clean” zones. Unless you smoke in your home, there are precious few options for regular smokers to consume in comfort.

For a while, doorways and building entrances became outdoor smoking dens. These were the easiest to reach spaces outside of the official smoke banned area. And smokers took almost a defiant pleasure to blow smoke, literally, in everyone’s face as they entered and exited buildings. Especially in inclement weather, smokers wrapped themselves inside their trench-coats and clouds of smoke and tried to stay warm for at least five minutes, even though it takes about seven at a leisurely pace to absorb enough nicotine to last till the next smoke break.

Non-smokers hurried through the plumes and huddling bodies so that they would inhale no more second-hand smoke than they had to. The visual image of a smoker is indelibly ingrained in the minds of all passers-by, whether through the smoke filled entrance or a nearby zone. The human figure with one hand stuck to the mouth became a symbol of regression into habits that looked and felt an awful lot like thumb-sucking. (Surely there must be some Freudian explanation for this.) In any event, this image of man, or woman, satisfying his, or her, most basic desires in broad daylight and under the guise of addiction, has been a most convenient excuse for a most unacceptable behavior: sucking in public.

Rodin’s Thinking Man, on the other hand, has been the uplifting iconic image of humankind that befits our loftiest ambitions. In this case, the athletic male body made from bronze, resting his manly chin against his masculine fist propped up by his equally muscular arm gracefully resting on his knee, is engaged in deep though, presumably responding to his profound urge to think. He is satisfying his deep desire to figure things out, solve the never ending mysteries of curiosity. It has been a downer if not plain angst to have to think that, in the span of less than a century; we have descended from the pedestal of thinking to covering under eaves.

Yet, change is ever present. We have a new evolutionary phase today. Before, during, and after any event or assembly that requires an attendee’s uninterrupted attention, people take breaks to talk. Now their hand is neither glued to their chin to think, nor their lips to smoke, it is glued to an ear to prop up a cellphone. We demonstrate an incredible desire to talk, to whomever we want, at whatever time or place, about anything at all, with no regard for those around us, anywhere, anytime, anyhow. When did this desire exhibit itself in our past? Is it the neighborly chats around the fence gate, hanging around the local drugstore, or gathering around the cooler at work? No, this is a brand new addiction. We have very little interest in what is going on around us when get that all important call from a co-worker, business deal, or someone in an emergency.

But wait, most cellphone calls are not those types of calls. We want to ask mom if this outfit I found at Macy’s looks good on me. Quick, snap a picture, I can do it with my cellphone, which has grown into a multi-functional device. I need to remember that ingredient in the recipe which I left on the kitchen table; can someone read it for me? I am too lazy to go upstairs to talk to you, oh I’ll call you. And true story: I am too busy talking to you on the phone, so I cannot stop and chat with you even though I see you walking towards me. Since cellphones took over our lives, say about a decade ago – incidentally, a little blimp in the evolutionary scale of humankind — our hands have been glued to our ears and our lips do not stop chirping.

You may wonder what happened to the emergency call which was the primary pretext for people buying cellphones. It turns out most 911 call stations are designed for land lines. “Darlene struggled to speak as she called 911 from her cellphone. She could barely tell the operator her address: 602 Wales Drive. The operator, trying to understand her, sent an ambulance to Wells Street in Atlanta — 28 miles from her apartment in Johns Creek, a suburb north of the city.” We are still waiting for that technical glitch to be solved. If you do not want to suffer Darlene’s predicament, you better find a landline at least until this technical problem is resolved, which should take another decade or so. As to the business call, it still survives among the plethora of unwanted commercial calls that each cellphone is inundated by and the increasing number of “National Do Not Call Registries” to which you must subscribe. But no sweat, just dial it on your cell.

It should be humbling to note that since Rodin made his thinking man in 1902, we have experienced at least two earthshaking evolutionary developments: the sucking man and the talking man, both of which brought out our innermost addictive tendencies to daylight. It is sobering to note that the modern cigarette was made popular at the turn of the 20th century while the cellphone at the turn of the 21st. It took almost a century for cigarettes to be retired from our daily lives. The safety of cellphones is a matter of debate these days. It may take a decade or two for the definitive findings to see the light of day since the phone industry would not relent until they develop the “safer” improved versions before conclusive findings would be available.

Just think about that!

Erdogan the Magnificent

August 1, 2018

By Sail A’non, August 1, 2018

Most Western news organizations paid little or no attention to R.T. Erdogan’s ‘imperial’ festivities. These recent boastful demonstrations in Istanbul that were commemorating the conquest of Constantinople by Sultan Mehmet II, on March 19, 1453, did not elude A.R. Khan of MacLean’s Magazine. Purportedly Khan is “on the ground” in Turkey and observes that R.T.’s aggrandizement of the 562nd anniversary of the illustrious conquest on the Bosporus through a number of events including dressing up Turkish soldiers in Ottoman garb and decorating the sky with colorful exhaust emitted by Turkish air force craft.

All of this is reminiscent of a slogan like “Make US Strong Again” adapted to its Turkish case by onlookers: “Resurrection [and] Rising Again” [Yeniden dirilis, yeniden yukselis]. Khan writes “For outsiders, the audacious display might seem over the top. But in Turkey, it’s fast becoming the norm.” Professor of political history at Istanbul University Mehmet Alkan states: “This is where the Ottoman symbolism is important. Erdogan, like the Ottomans before him, sees Turkey as the vanguard of [territories] from the Caucuses to the Middle East and North Africa.” []. Akan is correct in principle but his Geographic boundary is far too modest.

Another Christian city which has been coveted by many aspiring conquerors is Vienna. Suleiman the Magnificent (Lawgiver) the third sultan in succession to Mehmet the IInd tried to do a one-over Mehmet’s historical accomplishment by conquering Vienna. He sieged the city with massive military forces and artillery in 1529, 1532 and 1566, each time cutting off potential goods and military aid from the outside. Each time he was frustrated; in fact, during the final siege, at the ripe old age of 72, he died on the battle field.

So what does this have to do with R.T.’s posturing? Sometimes, perceptions can be as powerful as reality.

Due to the repeated sieges of Vienna by the Turks, many city centers in close proximity to Vienna were politically and culturally paralyzed due to an impending Ottoman attack. Prague for one delayed its architectural transition from Baroque to Renaissance, in the time span from mid-16th to mid-17th Century; ceased all activities towards rebuilding important edifices or building new ones.

Let’s hope that R.T.’s reach does not stifle any forward looking innovators in the EU. In particular, the immigrant invasion that started on Turkey’s boarder with Syria is more than likely to hamstring politicians. Bloomberg reports that elected officials in the EU are in favor of “restricting immigration and being tough on crime … but are opposed on social issues (including gay rights) and whether the state should intervene in the economy.”

Ways of Canine

July 28, 2018

by a Male Menopausal Mutt [Sail A’non]

I have a framed view of everything from where I sit. In the foreground, big, fat, old-lady ankles, wearing mat stockings and homey slippers. In the background, a bed decked out with fancy taffeta and embroidered covers.

“Poor dear; she has suffered enough.”

I cannot see the bundle of joy yet, but hear the words.

“It’s a girl.”  “Full head of hair.” “Chubby cheeks.” “Coal black eyes.”

“Of all the years, never have I laid eyes on such beauty.”

I can see her, now! She is decked out in her weekend clothes. Her ponytail bouncing; cheeks in springtime splendor; deep hazel eyes aglow; she is strutting beside momma, clicking her heels as if she is Ginger.

In the foreground, an indifferent boy; in the background a different boy: she likes to hold her cigarette just so, swirling smoke around the necks of passers by. You can inhale some but not too much, lest you want to be forever longing for it. With a firm stab of her silken scarf fluttering in the wind, she gets impaled in your memories.

She is in the middle; little ones in the foreground and the Different Boy still in the back. They make her happy, hoppy, hippy, and glad. They make her sad, bad, mad, and snappy. She is them.

She is in a big, colorful Freda-bed. Outdoing her good looks, her hopeful hands are busy bandaging, mending, and massaging a wounded albatross. Many admiring men and women surround her; hope against hope that mirth might follow rebirth.

Finally, I lose sight of her.

Such are the ways of feline. They are yet to discover the joys of pissing on fire hydrants, chasing cars, chewing on discarded coffee grounds, and having conversations with Socrates or Sojourner Truth.

By Sail A’non, September 21, 2017

Caught up in the excitement of my clandestine mission, I parked my bike a short distance away and entered the sliver of space between two urban lots. With haste and trepidation, I am making my way on all fours, between the dew-covered, autumn-cold, sandstone wall of the police station and the all-purpose bushes separating the two properties. My hands catch candy wrappers, cigarette butts, champagne corks, and plastic toy-parts. I am glad I still have my biking gloves on.

As I make my way closer to the tall, gently-inclined sunflower-heads, barely visible in the dark, two shadows emerge out of the police station and stop only a few yards from where I am crouched. A jolt of cold shiver runs down my spine. I freeze like a cat considering risky options, my right hand is hanging in midair impaled onto the dense, dark, geriatric night-air. My left palm is buried into something mushy. A sense of panic and sweat follows my shivers. My adrenalin rush has brought me precariously close to hyperventilation. A loud pulmonary sound is the last thing I need, before I upsetting the delicate balance between my hyperactive nerves and the predawn quiet.

Once my reason returns from its paranoiac hiatus, I begin to take stock of my predicament. The property to my left is on my morning walk to work. For the past two months, five days a week, I have been noticing the tall, lanky, gorgeous-looking sunflowers, in its front yard.  Each morning, I also notice a woman and three children of consecutive years of age, leaving the same house. All four, suitably proportioned to pass as Packman figurines, glide effortlessly towards the school bus stop.

I hate fat, short, stubby people just as much as I love sunflowers. It was only inevitable that following these innocent morning-encounters, I began seeing nightmares of cubby little hands stuffing delicate, delicious, and fresh-picked sunflower seeds, into saliva-filled apertures. It was a small step from there to hatching my plan to rescue these innocent sunflowers from their terrible demise, even if it meant stealing them in the dark of the night.

As I was concluding my review of the events that led to my current predicament, I realized that it had become light enough for me to clearly see the features of the two cops still exchanging notes about their morning shift. Now, it is only a matter of time before they will be able to see me as well.  Just then, one of them kneels down and begins to unleashing their canine companion, exactly at eyelevel with me.

The eminent possibility of an inexplicably awkward eye contact with her was the last straw for my exhausted nerves. Instinctively, I leaped up, turned around, and started running towards my bike. In a flash, my brain had calculated that the risk of my mission was too great for the prize I was seeking; while at the same time it was miscalculating the superior sense and speed of my pursuer. Seconds later, I was wrestled to the ground with two powerful paws pressing me down and stinging canine teeth impaling my left buttock.


The police postponed my debriefing until after I was properly treated at a nearby hospital. It was not easy to convince them of the truth of my juvenile motive, while lying on my belly, with a bandaged buttock, and ivy lines hanging off of my arm.

“You mean to tell me, you were just stealing sunflowers.”…

“Do you realize that this is a felony?”…

“Why didn’t you just buy some?”…

“You look like an intelligent man.“…

… and so it went.


All considered, I believe, I got off easy: 6-months probation and 30-days community service.  I did my community service by soliciting signatures for a permit parking petition in the neighborhood. The house with the sunflowers was on the signature route. One early afternoon, I approached it, not knowing if the owners were aware of my embarrassing debacle. The Pack-woman opened the door.

“I am collecting signatures…”

“I’m sorry, the owner is not here. Can you come back later?”…

Months later, I befriended the owner of the house as well. He happens to be a thin, tall, single man, who works as a chef at a local gourmet restaurant. This year, during his Thanksgiving party, I also discovered that he prepares a delicious Sunflower Seed-Crusted Lamb Loin.

My nightmares of sticky, chubby hands of obnoxious children mangling sunflowers have all but vanished.

As an architect of 50 years, I offer a candid assessment of my profession.

© All rights reserved by Sail Anon, June 30, 2001

Under paid over worked: Students still flock to get an architect’s education, some as a substitute for a liberal education others to become great architects. But the pay scale is low, and the risks are high.

Dilettantism: Education instills and reinforces a conceptual approach in which architects learn to form a concept quickly and use it as a metaphor to formulate solutions. This gives them the false sense that they can move into any new domain and abstract knowledge from these domains and integrate them in their solutions.

Modern renaissance men: Diversity of domains involved in architecture requires that architects become modern renaissance men, each and every one, which is unrealistic. But further more leads to incompetence due to shallowness of their understanding of the vast area the field covers. Specialization is not a well-accepted strategy.

Advocacy as truth: Having been trained within paradigms based on an abductive logic, architects are poorer at deductive and inductive reasoning. They distinguish poorly between advocacy and reality (or truth).

Visual representation over all else: Architectures primary mode of representation is visual. Even information not well suited to the visual has to be represented in those terms — such as performance. Consequently, there is information loss and misguided thrusts in practice.

Lack of consensus on central problems: There is no shared taxonomy in architecture. Even the time honored ones — like building types — do not hold up under scrutiny.

Lack of common language or paradigm: Architectural problems are under-constrained. This permits architects to restrict the degrees of freedom through personal choices and stylistic decisions. This produces an architecture that cannot be objectively evaluated.

Lack of common measure of goodness: The metric for every context seems to be different. Shared goals for architects emerge only in the context of stylistic movements which are usually demonstrated by instances (not generalities) which have a life of their own.

Lack of common methods: The process of design is confused with the process of individual self-fulfillment, self-exploration or invention.

Lack of collegiality: A collection of many mini-cultures defining a fuzzy whole — which is informally known as the culture of architecture that differs from place to place and time to time.

Guru worship: Due to several effects — like importance of personal style and leading by examples — learning is driven in a world structured around pecking orders. This also promotes the view of the world as just a bunch of nails because we are equipped with a hammer.

Self-selection vs training: How much of this is by training (in school or in the culture of the profession) and how much is by predisposition is unclear.

The First Fist-Bump

July 23, 2018

By Sail A’non, July 22, 2018

Almost everyone knows that “Trump was very frustrated; he wasn’t getting commitments from other leaders to spend more. Many of them said, ‘Well, we have to ask our parliaments. We have a process; we can’t just tell you we’re going to spend more, we have a legal process.’“ DA!

However, what almost no one knows is that “Trump turns around to the Turkish president, Recep Erdogan, and says, ‘Except for Erdogan over here. He does things the right way,’ and then actually fist-bumps the Turkish president.

Does Trump know how the fist-bump originated? It is likely that he does not; nor does he care that he does not know. Being such a history buff, he may find its short existence of only 100 some years, interesting: “The ‘fist bump’ or ‘pound’ can be traced back to the late 1800s when boxers would be instructed to touch gloves at the start of a contest. Beginning of a challenge until one party drops or forfeits.  In other words, not quite what he meant to say to Erdogan. If anything he meant to say “he is my kind of guy.”

If he had a chance to meet with Erdogan privately like he did with Putin he would want to find out how Erdogan eliminated the critical press in Turkey; exiled or jailed his opposition; skirted legal trouble even when he was caught red handed with shoe-boxes full of Euros and Dollars in his home, worth millions; changed the Turkish constitution creating a form of presidency with no term limits; got himself appointed as the first occupant of this seat; and managed to get elected time after time staying in power for more than 15 years, with no end in sight.

Trump would love to know the trick to Erdogan’s trade, whose career started as a street-vendor selling lemonade and sesame buns on the streets of Istanbul, and execute them himself.

Would he also want to know that the fist-bump is a “sign” he would not want to be caught near, ever again.Smithsonian researcher LaMont Hamilton suggests that the [bump] originated during the Vietnam war as a modified form of the Black Power salute, which was prohibited by the US military.”


July 22, 2018







Since my two hind leg amputations, an aortic valve replacement, one hip replacement surgery, 95% saddle-block pulmonary embolism, a sepsis condition due to the gangrene on my left hind toes prior to their amputation, and oh the kidney stones that I discharged with considerable pain, life has been rather calm. So, I was more than ready for some kerfuffle of any size.

I stopped at the iron gates of the cemetery grounds a few minutes before 5 PM which is when they get locked, in the winter months, for security reasons. The Security Guy was sitting in his car right in front to the gate blowing out his cigarette smoke through his open window. I let him know about my son and son-in-law who were right behind me. Since I was riding my power wheelchair on account of my missing legs, they had let me get a head start before the gates closed and I wanted to make sure the gates were not closed before they got out.

“I saw you sitting down there…” the Security Guy said.

I jumped in before he could finish his sentence “Oh yeah I was visiting but couldn’t make it all the way in so they came to rescue me. I want to make sure they can get out before closing time.”

“It’s no problem. I have my cellphone number on the sign, right there on the gate. You should write that down in case you get stuck. I’ll come and open the gate for you.”

“What’s your name?” I wanted to know whose number I would be jotting down.

“Scammander. What’s yours?”

“Cynocephali, Cyno for short, among friends.” Hearing the engine sound behind me, “Here comes my son; he is one of the rescuers. Can you make sure the other one gets out too?”

“Sure. No worries.” Pointing to the two story gatehouse made out of the same lime stone material as the entire complex of buildings at the entry area, he said. “I live right there. Once in a while I go to Lawrenceville but just call me and I’ll come and let you out.”

I didn’t want to leave just yet, before Paulocephali also made it out as well. Scammander was too glad to have someone to talk to. “Why did they have to rescue you; from what?”

“I got stuck in the mud. I was trying to get closer to the burial site and climbed on the grassy mound with the wheelchair and the wheels got stuck. I tried to go back and forth and the wheels got dug in real deep. You see, the front wheels are on separate rollers…”

Scammander looked distracted. He kept puffing smoke out his window.

Just to finish my story, I spoke under my breadth “I told her I would not get stuck but I did. I got stuck in the mud.”

All of a sudden this tweaked his interest, “Who did you tell that?”

“My wife. She said the grass in the backyard was too soggy. Every time she stepped into it she heard swoosh, sounds. She said ‘Don’t go to the cemetery today you will get stuck.’”

“Not only that but when I tried to call her, it seems that the cemetery area has a “not allowed” zone that blocked my calls. I send her a text message not knowing if she got it I called everyone on my cellphone. Just as I was feeling really stuck, my son Cemocephali answered. He was not ready to get out of the house but he said, ‘Dad, this is an emergency.’ and he got on his way.”

Cemocephali was right; I do not know what I would have done all that time until someone really got a posse together to rescue me. Mercifully, my wife had received my text message and asked my son-in-law Paulocephali to come to the rescue, which he graciously agree to do so — leaving two small Cynos and their pet Rumi behind. Just as well, since even the two able bodied adults had a hard time yanking my wheelchair, with my full weight on it, out of the mud hole I had dug myself into.”

Now, Scammander had a bigger punch in his voice, “Oh man! They’ll never let you forget this one. Your wife ‘told you so’ and you ignored it. Hah! They won’t ever let you forget this.” It was reassuring to hear from a total stranger that I had stepped into it bigtime.

I mumbled to myself, “Not until I become a fulltime resident here.”

This does not rise up to the levels of my previous tribulations; far from the amputations, aortic valve replacement, hip surgery, saddle-block, or gangrene. Perhaps the pain of passing kidney stones may be on par with to the pain of being reminded what a fool I’ve been. I sure was beginning to lose that feeling of security about my life; and the cemetery Security Guy, whom I just met, had to “learn” me about it. Just then I heard the sound of Paulocephali’s car right behind me. I gladly said bye to Scammander and left. I was not dying to see the expression on my wife Memmycephali’s face.

On the way home, unexpectedly, Aristotle poked his erudite nose into my business:

Aristoteles: “Hey Cyno, do you think you have been virtuous throughout this ordeal of yours? I know your kind; with your canine nose that readily smells loot and beady eyes that see around corners, you’re not to be trusted.”

Cynocephali: “I have been forthright, if that is what you’re asking about. I fessed up to Scammander that I ignored my wife’s admonition. I was not abashed about calling her and my son for help. And I did not benefit from this whatsoever.”

Aristoteles: “But if you were prudent you would not have dismissed her so readily. Did you do that because she is woman?”

Cynocephali: “Look who is talking: Aristotles! a man who did not think to include slaves, women, or, heaven forbid, Cynocephali in the category of those with virtue or moral character.”

Aristoteles: “After four millennia of social and cultural reforms that you all went through, this is easy for you to say.”

Cynocephali: “Regardless, Virtue Ethics still has applications; even erudite folks believe that to be an ethical person you need to have courage, magnanimity, ambition, friendship, generosity, fidelity, gratitude, and so on.”

Aristoteles: “Well let’s see what character traits you demonstrated with your beady eyes and sneaky conduct; were you brave enough or generous in your heart to accept your wife’s caution about the soggy grounds you would be travelling on? or did you show magnanimity when you acknowledged your stupidity to Scammander, as you whispered between your teeth? or will you be carrying any lessons you learned from this to future decisions showing the fidelity of your character? Shall I go on?”

Cynocephali: “I’m sorry for you Aristo; you’re so badly outdated with your Virtue Ethics mumbo jumbo. Have you ever heard of Teleology or Deontology? Besides my name is not Cyno it is Cynocephali. You ought to demonstrate some …”

Before I could finish my retort he disappeared from my ear; never to be heard from, again.


Sounds of Silence

December 7, 2017

[This is an excerpt from future blogs titled:

Morality of a Male Menopausal Cynocephali

— see featured image — Due out in 2018]


Fresh grass is growing on the patch

The patch where ground was broken

All the way down into the heart, the hearth

Where blood gut soil worms are   congealed


Bluejays are screaming, screeching, screeeching

The Red Tail is circling quietly, making bluejays nervous

Deer are cautious

They tip toe quietly


Chipmunks zoom through the dry colorful leaves

Squirrels are tentative, blatant

Turkeys are majestic,

Slow and deliberate


It is quiet

You can hear an acorn drop

Roll through the leaves  without a sound

It is dead quiet


It is serene

You can feel your heartbeat

You can hear your heart beat

It is dead serene


It is quiet, serene, quite serene

It is comforting

It is dead comforting

It is comforting the living


It is comforting the dead

It is comforting

Yet, there is bickering

This, that, the other


A butterfly flutters its wings

Cuts through the bicker,

the thicker bicker

There, its quiet again

Serene and quiet


Once again turkeys strut, deer stroll

Chipmunks flutter, squirrels stutter

The butterfly rules

The Red Tail is above all


I think i will come back here