11 November, 2015 08:06

I was in southeast turkey for four days and had an amazing time and then came back and my facebook feed told me that we were angry that people were angry about starbucks cups being red, and I thought, why do I not see these people who are angry about starbucks cups being red, and why do I only see the posts about people being angry that people are angry that starbucks cups are red? Because: the internet runs on outrage and clicking and whoever says the loudest stupidest thing generates the most ad traffic. That is why. There must be like seven people total in the world who think that starbucks is waging a war on christmas, or think that it’s relevant enough to write about it, and they wrote about it because it gets clicks, which is the stupid metric we use to measure quality. The piece below argues this very well, and funnily.

southeast turkey cares very little about internet ad traffic. I visited Hasankeyf, a 9,000 year old continuously settled town on the Euphrates river, of central importance as a silk road stop. It’s full of caves and history from every conceivable period of human civilization and is a gorgeous wrap of canyons, a crumbling roman bridge, an onion-domed tomb, and caves. At some indeterminate point within the next few years (based on the whims of turkish government scheduling), the Ilisu Dam will be finished and the town will be flooded, and its thousand-year-old stone minarets and thousands of cave houses swirling up the slopes of the canyons will be sealed underwater more or less forever.

Jari and I met a teenager there in the canyons who was digging in the dried-up river basin for silver and other precious metals, technically illegal unless you have an mining permit. He told us how he made friends with the a policeman by giving him a sheep. He defended the police’s kid from a gang of bullies and fought them in a street brawl of 4 on 6, and then went to court, and at the court they tried to confiscate a huge butterfly knife the cop had given him, and the teenager said "I use that to kill sheep, if you take it, what could I kill it with? it would be Haram otherwise." and they were caught in a double-bind, and had to let him keep it, and the policeman was so grateful that the teenager had saved his kid, he wrote him up a mining permit so he could dig whenever he liked. When asked if he was trying to get some extra money for his family (hasankeyf is a very poor town) he said, "nahh, I just really like digging around for stuff."


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