Ottoman History Podcast — GREAT Twitter thread — follow by all means

27 Feb

Ooy, manoulam’

27 Feb


Hard to believe these guys aren’t tested for drug use at a place like West Point. But even harder to believe they’re all natural.

Ah… America…America “, From sea to shining sea”… I gotta say I miss you sometimes.

************************************************************************

Woops, got a quick reply to that one:

I gotta believe you Broggi. But they’re sure a genetically gifted bunch then.

Huah! Army! When’s the game this year? December 19th?

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

A little gift offer from the Jadde to some loyal readers — read the details, please

27 Feb
From Sergey Paradzhanov’s Color of Pomegranates

There are times where I feel that I don’t completely fill up to my “Bosnia-to-Bengal” promise and I kind of voiced that apprehension from the beginning of this blog. As much as I try, most of the material is about the ex-Ottoman sphere that my family come from. INDIA, one of my great intellectual and aesthetic and emotional fascinations, kinna gets short shrift from me unless it’s Bollywood or nasty shit like what’s going on now, and IRAN itself, the font and origin of all Indo-Aryan civilization, gets even less attention.

Ironically, though, India is always second place in readers on every post I put up. Ok, India is huge, but this is an out-of-proportion percentage of readership that can’t just be about numbers. Some folks there are interested it seems in most things I write. Like Greeks — both classical and modern — curiosity seems to have deep intellectual roots for Indians — both classical and modern. And I get repeated hits about any Agha Shahid Ali post I put up.

So, I’m setting up a weird little “shukriya” lottery for you guys. The SEVENTH (7th) and TWELFTH (12th) reader (that’s right, just like the imams) from Iran, India, Pakistan, Kashmir, Bangladesh, Afghanistan or Sri Lanka, who is not worried about sending me his address, and writes in asking for the prize, will get as a present from us one of the two following books:

OR

Please specify which you would like — we can’t afford to send you both, as much as we would want to.

Send your entry to: nikobakos@gmail.com. All we need is your name and address. Please don’t be scared. Your info will not go beyond our keyboard.

Heading west to more familiar Jadde territory, any eastern Christian: Slav or Albanian or Greek Orthodox, or Armenian or Egyptian Copt, or any of the dizzying plethora of Christian groups of the Levant or Mesopotamia, will receive, as Lent begins this Monday, the following beautiful book of Alexander Schmemann, the Russian theologian:

Again, you just need to be either the SEVENTH (7th) or TWELFTH (12th) reader to send us your name and address and your prize will be at your door or p.o. box as fast as we can arrange it.

Finally, if you can drop us a short blurb about why you like the “Jadde” or why you hate it or what you would like to see more of, it would be greatly appreciated.

Haydi.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

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“An ocean of blood churns round me, Alas!” — Mirza Ghalib

27 Feb

Addressing surprising Albanian complaints — A.J. from Lushnjë

27 Feb

Yikes. I write a lot of stuff here that might be offensive to some people; sorry. Things about Croatians, for example, or my spiritual discontents and problems with Islam. I only get a few “corrective” emails, nothing really hostile, except from the Greek Stormfront Bros, Greek Neonazis and Greek KKK members who object to the whole orientation of the whole blog.

Then I get three irate notes from Albanians first thing this morning, for what I thought was a kind of funny, even flattering comment on Albanians that I wrote last night. It was in a post about Neo-Greek hypochondria and I threw in neurotic Athenian fears of burglary just to get the mix going:

“In this case, the fear of drafts becomes allied with the equally neurotic fear of robbers so that locking up house for the night becomes an elaborate ritual that would test the patience of a Hindu priest or the Kohanim at the Temple. Believe me, if the scary Albanian feels like getting into your house he will; Albanians have a God-given persistent way of doing whatever they feel like; it’s just that they feel like so seldom.” [Can I ‘my emphasis’ on my own writing].

Two of the emails were incoherent, but this dude, A.J. from Lushnjë got a three-pointer in over me:

“Ah Greeks. If it was not for our persistent you wouldn’t have a country.”

Hmmmm… What can you say to that? I mean…it’s probably at least partly true.

Tamam.

Sorry, shoku A.J. from Lushnjë, didn’t mean to offend.

Won’t again. Besa?

NikoBakos

The other email said: “NikoBako?” You’re Albanian.”

I just couldn’t get into that one πρωί πρωί.

Comment: nikobakos@gmail.com

Bloomberg Forced Me From My Teaching Job After He Learned I’d Been a Sex Worker

27 Feb

Elizabeth Warren’s devastating confrontation with the former mayor over allegations of sexual harassment made “billionaire” the dirty word—and made me feel respected.

By Melissa Petro

I’ve never felt more alone in my life than I did 10 years ago when New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for my removal from my job as a public-school teacher after he learned I had worked in the sex industry prior to becoming an elementary school teacher.

When Bloomberg said in the South Carolina presidential primary debate that he supported New York City teachers, he lied. When Warren confronted Bloomberg in the pre–Nevada caucus debate about his abusive treatment of women, my heart soared.

I was an idealistic 30-year-old when Bloomberg came for my job, a writer by education who had been working as a public-school teacher for a little over three years. Spurred by an op-ed I had published on Huffington Post, “Thoughts From a Former Craigslist Call Girl,” a New York Post reporter discovered that I currently worked as a teacher, and brought my current and former occupations to the mayor’s attention in a salacious cover story.

In response, Bloomberg abruptly yanked me from the classroom, going so far as to call for the City to take legal action against me.

“Friday night when I was informed that, of the situation of this teacher saying that she had been a sex worker—I think was the term she might have used—I said ‘well, you know, call her, tell her that she is being removed from the classroom,’” Bloomberg is quoted by the New York Daily News as saying.

“We’re just not going to have this woman in front of a class,” he said.

His reaction was based on his assumptions about sex workers rather than the facts of my case.

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Even after a months-long investigation into my professional conduct, my competence as a teacher was never called into question. I assumed they would let me return to teaching when they confirmed I was good at my job, despite the misconceptions we harbor about sex workers. Instead, I was slapped with the vague charge, “Conduct Unbecoming a Professional.” I was wrong. The Department of Education cited passages of my writing in which I’d admitted to having worked in the sex industry, implying this fact alone made me unfit to teach; it refused to release its findings.

Unemployed and unemployable, I struggled for years.

Although my life is better today, I doubt I’ll ever fully recover from the trauma of being publicly shamed and ridiculed, which made it all the more gratifying to watch Elizabeth Warren wipe the debate stage floor with Bloomberg’s smug face during the pre–Nevada caucus debate.

With nothing to lose and mad as hell, Warren pummeled the former New York City mayor for his well-documented abusive treatment of women. Her attacks were precise and devastating. It felt as though she were speaking for me, and while watching her felt good, reading the reactions on social media of other women the following morning felt even better.

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“Whatever else happens in this debate and in any of the others…I just want it known that as a woman, as a survivor, as a person who was hurt and silenced…I felt repped today,” tweeted New York State Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou.

It’s rare to see the men who take pleasure and profit from their abuse of women held to account. So much more frequently, we see women publicly punished for their own victimization, as was my experience.

At 19, sex work presented itself as a solution—a way of paying for school and covering my living expenses when I saw no other options. Stripping and, later, prostitution, made education attainable, a goal Bloomberg claims he will champion if elected president.

Hearing Warren attack Bloomberg for calling women “fat broads” and “horse-faced lesbians” felt as if she were defending sex workers against the slur “cum dumpster” or calling out “no human involved,” a term used by police to describe crimes committed against people in poor black communities.

Warren achieved the impossible: Without fear or hesitation, she held a white, male billionaire accountable for his sexual harassment on national television. When Warren suggested Bloomberg was an “arrogant billionaire,” her intonation made it sound as if it were a charge worse than “whore.”

When I started working in the industry, I didn’t dwell on the fact that to be or have been a sex worker is considered a mark of failure and shame, or that those who’ve sold sex are tainted in the eyes of others. I didn’t know that targets of stigma often internalize society’s negative beliefs. But for years after, I blamed myself for the suffering I had endured in the name of getting an education and the resulting misfortune that befell me.

Like nearly all women—on and off the job, and no matter the occupation—my boundaries were repeatedly violated. After a particularly negative experience, I left the sex industry for good. I applied for a coveted New York City Teaching Fellowship. To my surprise and delight, I was selected. I began teaching art and creative writing to children in kindergarten through fifth grade at a high-needs elementary school in the South Bronx. I worked hard to make a difference in my community, and I loved my profession.

It was taken from me in one fell swoop, starting with one New York Post headline: “Bronx Teacher Admits: I’m an Ex-Hooker.”

Michael Bloomberg and the media firestorm that followed humiliating me and undid years of work I’d spent recovering my sense of self. Bloomberg made me feel worthless, wrong, and utterly alone.

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On top of the struggles of everyday life, women often forced to survive the retelling of the stories that shaped us into who we are today. When Warren confronted Bloomberg, she made it clear: We deserve a president who respects us—all of us—and she would be that president.

Bloomberg shamed me—he felt entitled to that—but the shame belongs to him. Throughout his political career, he has demonstrated little respect for women in general, and now he feels entitled to the presidency? The gall.

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Melissa PetroTwitter Melissa Petro is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom living in New York.

How a Persian Mystic Poet Changed My Life

27 Feb

My father recited Rumi to me as I grew up. I finally chose to listen.

By Melody Moezzi

Ms. Moezzi is a writer and activist.

Five years ago, in an act of creative desperation, I decided to immerse myself in the classical Persian poetry I grew up taking for granted. I aimed to learn it by heart and under the expert tutelage of my father, a physician by trade and a connoisseur of Sufi poetry by tradition. For my father, nothing is more sacred than poetry — specifically the mystical poetry of Rumi.

Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi, known as Molana (an honorific meaning “our master”) to his fellow Persians like my father and me, was a renowned 13th-century Islamic scholar, theologian, poet and mystic. Born in what is now Afghanistan in 1207, Rumi grew up in an era of deep political turmoil packed with modern parallels, full of walls and bans and wars. As a result, he spent much of his life traveling extensively throughout the Middle East before settling in Konya, in present-day Turkey and then central Anatolia, formerly part of the Eastern Roman Empire. This accounts for the name Rumi, meaning “Roman” in Persian and Arabic.

My father, who grew up in Iran, recites Rumi’s verse with the same fervor and frequency most people reserve for food and oxygen. By all accounts, he is a tried-and-true Rumi addict. But like most children of addicts, I grew up resenting the object of my father’s addiction. An inescapable presence in our Ohio home, Rumi was the annoying elder who forever tested the limits of my Persian hospitality, challenging my limited Farsi with his antiquated medieval verse and dismissing my American hunger for brevity with his seemingly endless collections of rhyming couplets and quatrains.

But all my childhood resentment of Rumi dissolved after I lost my mind and found solace in his verse. Soon, Rumi’s poetry became a lifeline, allowing me to survive both my own personal insanity and the political insanity to come.

My manic, psychotic break from the rest of the world’s notion of reality was clinical and terrifying, but it started out soulful and electrifying. For a brief moment before the hallucinations, delusions, restraints, seclusion and hospitalization that ensued, an intense calm washed over me. Standing on my Atlanta balcony watching the sun rise over Stone Mountain, I felt a deep connection to every atom back to Adam and before, and to the divine spirit within each one of those atoms. However clumsily, I had stumbled into the land of mystics, the land of my father, the land of Rumi.

At long last, I was beginning to understand this poetry that had spoken to my father since he was a child in Shiraz. For what modern medicine lacked by way of explanation, Rumi provided through my father’s voice, visiting me on the locked psychiatric unit of the same hospital where he had performed thousands of surgeries and delivered hundreds of babies:

In love with insanity, I’m fed up with wisdom and rationality.

While Rumi considers insanity a mark of divine favor, he distinguishes between types. The madness he promotes is rooted in ecstatic love; the one he condemns, in petty fear. The former creates a mystic, the latter a lunatic.

When I first began studying Rumi with my father in late 2014, years after that psychiatric hospitalization, properly diagnosed and medicated for bipolar disorder and in recovery, I never expected that within a few short years my extended family in Iran would be barred from visiting us in the United States. Nor did I ever expect that our country would become so deeply divided.

But here we are, more isolated than ever, and as an Iranian-American Muslim feminist living with a mental health condition, I feel the weight of this isolation every day. Heavy with fear’s warped wisdom and rationality, crazier than anything mania ever induced in me, this weight is a reminder that clinical psychosis, even absent any mystical tendency, seems sensible compared with our current political reality. Thankfully, as a student of my father and Rumi, I have learned how to counter the toll of this weight. In Rumi’s words:

Become the sky and the clouds that create the rain, not the gutter that carries it to the drain.

Of course it’s easier to be the gutter than the sky, to imitate rather than to create, but imitation builds cults, not communities. It may seem counterintuitive, but true community demands originality, not conformity. I know this firsthand, because every time I write something new it helps me feel less alone, reminding me that we are all inextricably linked to and through a sacred spark within each of us.

It seems so obvious, but it’s also painfully easy to forget how deeply connected we are. More than any other factor, it’s ego that makes us forget, filling us with a sense of superiority. This false feeling of being somehow “better than” our fellow human beings allows us to forget the common source of our humanity and thus to disconnect from the divinity within ourselves and one another. This is why, for Rumi, ego is not only the worst of our natural and inescapable human afflictions but also the root of them all. His solution?

Quit keeping score if you want to be free. Love has ejected the referee.

Indeed, when it comes to the prison of our own ego, love is our only ticket out. When I first flew across the country to study Rumi’s poetry with my father, I did so brimming with hubris and ambition. I set aside a month to learn this poetry, perfect my rudimentary Farsi, overcome a brutal case of writer’s block and then research and ideally write a book about it. Naturally, nothing went according to plan.

Still, through all of it, I had my father to guide me and remind me that it didn’t matter how long it took to write this imagined book. What mattered was that I approached my poetic pilgrimage with patience and humility, recognizing every hardship as an invitation to step out of fear and into love in my own life:

Every storm the Beloved unfurls permits the sea to scatter pearls.

For as long as I can remember, my father has been scribbling these and other poems on his old prescription pads, signing them as though they were for any ordinary pharmaceutical and leaving them like pearls at my feet. For decades, I failed to fill them, too distracted and distraught by the struggles along the way to notice the treasures lighting my path.

But today, as the faith and ancestry I share with my father and Rumi have made me more of a target, more hated and unwelcome in my own home than ever before, I am grateful for this treasure trove of poetic prescriptions. Now I have a documented reservoir of timeless teachings from my own faith and culture that transcend both. Now I claim my inheritance; I fill my prescriptions, and I pass them along.

Melody Moezzi is a visiting professor of creative nonfiction at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and the author, most recently, of “The Rumi Prescription: How an Ancient Mystic Poet Changed My Modern Manic Life,” from which this essay is adapted.

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