Two things. I was in Turkey on vacation, as Duvall mentioned. But before getting to that, I have to admit that I was kind of surprised by the whole Department of Justice/Gonzalez thing. Aren't political appointments meant to be...well, political? I heard that the main reason this has come up is because of the timing - happening in the middle of the term and all that - although of course the suspect reasonings for the firings are politically problematic. But, I don't think they're institutionally or legally problematic. After all, if you're an appointee, you serve at the whim of the president (no matter how stupid he is). The real failing here was a lack of political acumen, in that Gonzalez and Miers (and whoever else) could have done things quietly, or they could have taken a different approach ("it is our prerogative to fire within the Executive", which of course it is). Don't get me wrong though. Gonzalez is a prick, and I'm enjoying seeing him twist in the wind. But still.
Anyway, Turkey. Despite the fact that there was evidently a roiling scandal with a Turkish writer suggesting that Ataturk might be gay (he was thrown in jail for that), my girlfriend (from here on, GF) and I didn't see any protests or political gatherings, outside of an International Women's Day celebration (yeah, I didn't realize that was last week either). A couple observations:
- The street cats are really friendly and, by and large, clean. GF often scratched their heads, and they proceeded to crawl into her lap for my stroking.
- Istanbul is very clean. In fact, most of Turkey (what we saw of it at least) was. It was not, however, as cheap as I expected. Obviously not European prices, but we're not talking Asia here either.
- GF noticed that whenever I introduced her as my "girlfriend", Turkish men would ignore her. If I introduced her as my "fiancee" (don't worry, that hasn't happened yet), they paid attention.
- I can definitely see why Turkey feels that it is European. Istanbul especially has that feel of old world Europe, a certain melancholy of having lived in the shadow of former glories.
- Great food in Turkey, although the cheaper places were generally better. Also, great fish, which was surprising upon first seeing that, but it does make a lot of sense.
- Muezzins are very much like Jewish cantors. You would hear the adhan roll through Istanbul, as each mosque got its guy on the loudspeaker. But like cantors (the few I've met), they don't get many chances to sing for prolonged periods of time, so instead they take to drawing out every opportunity and making it as "colorful" as possible. That, and competing against each other in making the longest, most complicated musical runs that they can. On loudspeaker. Five times a day.
- GF and I love borek.