Something we’re also noticing here is that people with dogs gather in courtyards and on fields in groups and let their dogs roam free, illegally.

They do this in groups together so that if somebody tells them not to, they can use their numbers to intimidate and as described here they use that and many other strategies with officers of the law.

Owning a dog in a dense urban environment is a questionable choice already, but the people around us here take the cake. There are quite a number of socially at-risk individuals who have dogs where both the animal and the human are deeply and certifiably deranged. Both of them accost any human who walks by and it’s often a question of who’s louder the dog’s barking or its owner’s ranting.

I think a forced dog register and quotas/waiting lists for some areas would be a good first step to control the situation here.

Gibi: Comedy under Pressure

I just watched and finished season 1 of Gibi which seems to have been enough of a success for them to quickly put out a second season. It’s a Turkish dark comedy show that you can watch online on Exxen. I already wrote it’s a bit like Seinfeld but with a very dark undercurrent.

How dark? Let’s look at the next bit from an episode (S01E10 @ 16:30) where Yılmaz and İlkkan are accused of having caused the death of an old man. They are getting ready to host the deceased’s relatives at a restaurant and participate in the wake.

Yilmaz and Ilkkan having a conversation

Did you hear anything from Ethem?

Ethem?

Lately never…

Man, look, they wrote something in fact. Hold on. Somehow we weren’t able to call the guy. (Sigh. Wails.)

Don’t.

His aunt has killed herself. Ethem’s. It was written this morning. I just saw it.

Which aunt?

His older aunt.

I don’t know many other situational comedy shows that do something like this. It has no relation to the story and serves only to set the mood. Interspersing another death that’s just brushed off in an episode that’s already about death demonstrates how little a human life is worth. People die randomly and it’s received with a wail and a shrug.

They will most likely go to the funeral just like they did in a previous episode (S01E04) where Ersoy’s grandmother was eaten by an Erasmus cannibal.

Overarching Theme

Zooming out a bit, the real theme of this first season of Gibi has been pressure, pressure of all kinds: peer pressure, family obligations, social and societal pressure.

  • Kokariç: Press ganging into opening a kebab shop and invest in all kinds of goods
  • Wadding: Pressure from friends and the environment to conform to current fashion norms
  • Nu Model: Pressure from the extended family not to pose nude at the art academy enforced by force of violence
  • The Cannibal Coming with Erasmus: Pressure from friends to mourn and be visibly sad
  • Wrong Mentor: Pressure by a spiritual guide to follow a very strict regimen
  • Dark Force: Collective hysteria around bad things happening
  • Second Way: Pressure of belonging
  • Whitewash: Pressure by the house painter to go all the way
  • Renewal of Break Up: Pressure generated by magician
  • Blood Money: Pressure to make amends for somebody unrelated dying
  • Bathroom: Pressure to bathe and spend time with a couple of seniors
  • Discovery of the Horse: Proto-societal pressure between members of an outcast paleolithic group

Anybody who’s ever been to Turkey knows that the entire country is built on this kind of pressure, also known as genuine interest, shame, concern or emotional blackmail. It’s omnipresent and the only way to escape it is to exit.

Not verified but an interesting data point in how German civil servants don’t have that attractive a position and can get better deals working indirectly for the people ‘at the engines of the global economy’.

That makes you wonder why the engines of the global economy are not here or if they are why it’s not possible to pay civil servants competitive both in compensation and in job satisfaction. To be able to get the best talent and create the kind of state capacity that justifies having a state, the best people working in the civil service should be paid competitively with the top of society.

Property dealings in Berlin

Back when I read this exposé in November it struck me as gripping but also as something that could become messy. Turns out that’s true since the piece now has the mark “Censored” and some choice parts of text have been blanked out. I did a quick search but can’t find any updates what might have happened. If I find time later, I’ll look in the Wayback Machine to see what pieces of text disappeared.

The kind of property deals that are described in the article are par for the course in any up and coming city. Recently there was a piece about resistance to the city giving away one of its largest buildings to a private art gallery: https://www.freitag.de/autoren/der-freitag/portraet-wut-motiviert-mich

The academic backroom dealings should also be considered to be normal especially in small subfields such as Turkey studies. Academics are playing funding games more than they research and the web of foundations that float around are ways to creatively bookkeep and move money around. None of this is really surprising.

Year Note 2021

The days are long but the years are short.

One more year over and these are starting to look like a blur, so here’s what changed.

Work

I gave notice between Christmas and New Year 2020 and spent the first three months of the year in a weird in-between state mostly done with the old job, waiting for the new one to start, in between daycare closures and being sick.

Then the new job started and I fell into a blur of work that has continued for most of the rest of the year. It’s been a nice change but also very intense. Details are on LinkedIn.

Travel

I haven’t been anywhere in 2021 except to an island in Croatia last September with work which definitely was a highlight.

Will I travel again and why? I have no idea.

Learning

I finished Turkish. I now prefer it over German again especially for writing.

I gave up on Chinese and couldn’t motivate myself or figure out how to book the HSK2. I did learn a couple hundred characters which seem to mean the same thing as in Japanese.

I started learning Japanese which is a lot more enjoyable and for basic conversation seems a lot easier. There also has been some strengthening on the claim for a relationship between Turkish and Japanese so let’s see how it goes.

I should have started this way earlier and not listened to anybody who ever said something is difficult. What they mean is that something was difficult for them. Depending on their intelligence, many things may in fact be difficult for them. It shouldn’t matter to me or anybody else.

Kids

The daycare was closed at the start of the year until March or Easter, not sure anymore. Most of the rest of the year things were up and running.

We had a nasty burn wound on one kid that cut the summer break short and gave us several weeks of grief but in the end all turned out well.

Then at the end of the year we gave notice. We are leaving one very esteemed Kindergarten for another which I didn’t think would be possible with two kids in the middle of the year, but it is. We even had several more places willing to take our kids.

The kids are doing really well. After a brief bout of gymnastics which they enjoyed a lot, COVID made us switch to outdoor ice skating for now.

Sports

I finally killed my old fixie or to be more correct it nearly killed me. With it gone, I could finally shop for a real road bike.

Thanks to a ship blocking the Suez Canal and all the other supply chain difficulties in the world, there was a tremendous bike shortage most of the summer (who knows, maybe it’s still going on?) and I got any random bike I could get my hands on in the €1000 price range.

I also got most of the tools and kit that you would need for cycling. It’s the clichéed guy midlife hobby. The local Rapha store is more convenient and also cheaper than many of the cycling apparel you can buy dropshipped over Instagram.

I seem to have ridden 1231km on it and looking forward to doing many times that in the coming year. The details are on Strava.

I picked up bouldering again which when in a rhythm (every 4-5 days) I’m finding pretty enjoyable.

Health

I got boosted randomly on November 17th which was a lot earlier than I expected and before almost everybody I know. I am now AZ/Comirnaty/Comirnaty.

We survived another year. That’s it. That’s the year note.