Sunday, 30 November 2008

Back to school Monday!

Somehow Ainur found the website of the Yozgat Anadolu Technical and Vocational High School. We absolutely must share some photos of the teachers that have been working at this school.

With the school's profile, the largest number of teachers seems to be in Machine Building. Either that, or Machine Building has the most handsome teachers. In any case I saved the most Machine Building teachers on my hard drive:

Hasan Kilavuzoğlu (who taught at the school in 1980-1985)

Hayri Çalişkan (1979-1995)

Orhan Doğandil (1968-1971)

Ahmer Uçan (1967-1968)

Nevzar Birol (1959-1964)

Ainur thinks Mr. Vahap Aydal (1956-1959) looks like a werewolf.

Mr. M.Kemal Kutlu (1950-1952) with his hairdo and moustache reminds me of my high school classmate Wassim, whose father for the first time got me really interested in and shocked at what was happening in Palestine. (Wassim means 'handsome'.)

Vahit Hindioğlu (1948-1949)

Here are Mr. Oğuz Bozdoğan and Mr. Cevdet Ekmekcioğlu who taught Metal Works in 1977-1980 and 1972-1974:

... But I think my favourite subject would have been Maths with Mr. Ziya Yeşilbursa in 1976-1978:

See more teachers from the Yozgat Anadolu Technical and Vocational High School!

Aidar Sunday!

Aidar Galimov (Айдар Галимов) is a Tatar pop singer, born in Kazakhstan and educated in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. He has received numerous awards in both republics, such as the official Tatar song festival Tatar zhyry in Kazan. This video for the song Bähet bit ul (Бэхет бит ул) is an autobiographical account of his rise to fame. I especially like little Aidar with the accordion, and young Aidar as a paratrooper.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Faux Chirayliqs #1: George Raft

We have had an off-blog discussion about fake chirayliqs some time. Hollywood has a long tradition of casting white people in crappy makeup as "Asians", which is very annoying for anyone who likes handsome Asian men, and very demeaning to the excellent Asian actors who have been struggling for decent roles throughout cinema history. This phenomenon is often referred to as "yellowface".
I'm a huge George Raft fan, so I was surprised to discover this "yellowface" performance from the 1934 film Limehouse Blues. I haven't seen the movie in its entirety, but here is a summary from IMDB:
Fresh from Chinatown in New York, Harry Young [Raft] has taken over the illegal import business in the seamy Limehouse district of London, where he cold-bloodedly disposes of rivals and runs a smoky nightclub. He falls for a low-class, white pickpocket [Jean Parker], diminishing his pride in the Chinese half of his heritage and sparking the jealousy of the nightclub's moody star performer [Anna May Wong].
One, if not THE reason for "yellowface", was that romantic and/or sexual relations between whites and non-whites were seen as immoral (and were also illegal in many states). In the infancy of Hollywood, this hadn't been enforced very strictly - Japanese-American star Sessue Hayakawa could play suggestive scenes with white actresses until the mid-twenties (though he never "got the girl" in the end). We're still suffering from the consequences of discrimination - can you think of one movie, Hollywood or not, where an Asian man has had successful romantic relationship with a non-Asian woman? Or a relationship at all? (French movies don't count!)

A reviewer notes that Raft didn't need much makeup to pull off a "half-and-half"-looking character - you be the judge.

Raft's parents were German immigrants in New York. He started his career as a professional dancer, but he often played vaguely ethnic gangsters. Apparently there was something in his looks that made him "foreign" enough to play different nationalities, as well as criminals. Coincidence? Check out groundbreaking criminologist Cesare Lombroso's physiognomy of criminals. All the physical traits that were argued to be typical of criminals, were also aberrations from the Eurocentric beauty standards of the time. Both in popular culture and "scientific" racism, non-white people were pushed out of normality, while people on the margins - whites who weren't quite "white" enough - led a precarious existence, sometimes having to prove their normality (=whiteness) by dressing up as the racial Other. Think about the Jazz Singer, a son of Jewish immigrants, proving his American identity by painting his face black and acting out a grotesque caricature of African-American entertainment (never mind that it was meant to honour it).
George Raft clearly didn't care much either way; he enjoyed a gangster lifestyle both on and off screen, and wasn't trying to prove his "whiteness". He didn't have to, he was on the safe side of the fence. Many popular "yellowface" actors were immigrants; interestingly, many were Scandinavians. Nils Asther, Warner Oland, Max von Sydow... Why would the blondest people in Europe make the most convincing "yellowface" actors? Or was there another reason?
If you want to know more, I'll continue this series of "Faux Chirayliqs".

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Ramazan "The Punisher" Ramazanov

(Photo from

Ramazan Ramazanov is the current Muay Thai (Thai boxing) world champion in Heavyweight. He was born in Makhachkala, Dagestan, on June 22 1984. He started boxing when he was 13, and fell in love with Muay Thai when he was 15. In 2005 he moved to Thailand to pursue his career in the sport, and settled in Bangkok at the Rompo gym. Within a few years he moved up from the Super Middleweight to Super Cruiserweight division. After a lot of training and some spectacular achievements, he is currently ranked as the No. 1 Muay Thai Heavyweight in the world.

(Photo by Tytus Iskhandar)

Ramazan's official website (with his blog, bio and some videos - partly under construction)
His profile at (with some photos)
The gallery at has some photos with Ramazan, and he also has a profile in the "fighters" section.

Finally, here is a little interview and a sparring session with Ramazan for TheWebShow in Australia:

Monday, 17 November 2008

Found in Finland

The Finnish board of museums (Museovirasto) has an interesting internet exhibition of "A Thousand Unknown People" (Tuhat Tuntematonta) on old photographs. Among these photographs of ordinary and not-so-ordinary Finns through the ages (and their pets) are a few chirayliqs, too.

Tadao Watanabe is one of the "unknowns" who has been identified by attentive visitors. He was a Lutheran missionary who married a Finn, Siiri Pitkänen. I have written about them earlier.

This couple has not been identified, but we know that they are Tatars. The photo was dedicated to "Mrs Aishä Ishakova from Höseyin Abudarov" in March 21, 1913.
So, what did the Finns look like 100-80 years ago? Any blond and blue-eyed chirayliq candidates?

This gentleman looks strikingly similar to the Tatar man above.

I always find that Finns look Scandinavian, but a special kind of Scandinavian, if you know what I mean.

This guy looks like Andy from my comic Goldenbird. After a bourgeois makeover, to be sure.

Finns and Russians just happen to be neighbours, they have nothing else in common... Just coincidence upon coincidence... Let's not jump to conclusions...

Soldier boys trying to look tough. Same as everywhere...

But I think these guys, who were working for the national railways, are my favourites.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Cute Hazara singer

Netania sent this in:

The Hazara people are one of the many ethnic groups in Afghanistan. There are many theories about their origin, and they are probably very mixed, like many other peoples in the region. Genetically and culturally they are with certainty related to Persians, Mongolians and Uighurs. The Hazaras and Pashtuns (the ethnic majority of Afghanistan) have a long history of enmity, but I hope they can overcome it and work together to build a new Afghanistan.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Krasnoyarsk freestyle street football player

I don't know who this guy is, but in any case he is cute.

The photos are made by Kirill Tryaskin, a freelance photographer in Krasnoyarsk. See more of his nice photos.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

One post is not enough!

The Boston Globe's Big Picture also features photos from the coronation of the Oxford-educated bachelor His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, 28 years old ...

Dancers line up for the crowning ceremony.
Both photos by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images. See more at the Boston Globe!

Originally uploaded by frans.vanderlee
Ratu our local guide and Bart
our trip leader pay homage. "

And since we're talking about Bhutan ... In Bhutan, kissing in public is taboo, but on the other hand, it is very common to paint giant phalluses on your house to ward off evil spirits. Phalluses in many other shapes are also used to ward off evil spirits.
The photo on the right is by Frans van der Lee, who has a lovely set of photos from Bhutan at Flickr.

The BBC's Geeta Pandey writes about the origins of Bhutan's phalluses. They can be traced back to the "Divine Madman" Lama Drupka Kinley, who supposedly would hit errant demons over the head with his penis to subdue them and turn them into protective deities.
"But contrary to the popular perception, the phallus has a world of meaning beyond its obvious symbolism to ward off evil influences", says this article from Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper, which takes a closer look at the phallic traditions of Bhutan, and their future in the modern society.

Friday, 7 November 2008

His Majesty the King

Even though I'm an anti-monarchist at heart, and even though the people of the United States of America just elected arguably the cutest president ever (although Franklin Pierce also classifies as "adorkable"), Bhutan takes the prize with the coronation of His Royal Highness Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck (28). The Land of the Thunder Dragon received the world's youngest reigning monarch.

The BBC has an interesting photo gallery from the coronation ceremony, and a profile of the young constitutional monarch. The transition to democracy has been a late but steady one in Bhutan, and the royal family is determined to promote general suffrage and voting habits, cautious of the fate of monarchy in neighboring Nepal. Bhutan has a historical reputation for being voluntarily isolated, and the official policy today is attempting to balance between preserving the cultural and natural heritage and accepting outside influences. However, Bhutan has always been a part of the web of world cultures, through the Buddhist faith and the second-largest religion, Hinduism. See also the website of the National Library of Bhutan with many interesting links of religious and cultural interest.

The transition process can be illustrated by comparing the king's ancient titles:
Supreme Protector Of The People
The Great Elected One
The Upholder Of The Law

with the modern titles:
Protector Of The Nation's Security
Guardian Of The Constitution
Inspiration For Gross National Happiness
Found through the Buddhist blog Dreaming of Danzan Ravjaa. And back to Obama: This blog is like Cute Overload for Obama fans. You have been warned.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Free Junichi and Toru!

Greenpeace Japan exposed a scandal involving the corrupt and powerful whaling industry (which is funded with taxpayers’ money). Two of their activists are now awaiting trial for intercepting a box of stolen whale meat and delivering it to the police.

Greenpeace was tipped off in January 2008 by a former whaling fleet member that crew members of the Japanese whaling fleet regularly take whale meat off the ships and sell it for their own profit.

In April, Greenpeace activists were able to track one of at least 93 boxes of “personal baggage” with a variety of labels such as “cardboard” or “salted stuff”, that were sent from the whaling ship Nisshin Maru, addressed to the private homes of crewmembers. The two activists Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki removed one of the boxes to verify its contents, which turned out to be not cardboard, but 23.5 kg of prime whale meat cuts, worth between 100,000 yen (US$1,000) and 300,000 yen (US$3,000).

Concluding the four-month undercover investigation, Greenpeace Japan held a press conference in Tokyo, exposing the full details of the whale meat embezzlement scandal. As evidence, Junichi and Toru displayed the box of stolen whale meat that they intercepted, and then delivered it to the Public Prosecutor in Tokyo, along with a full dossier detailing the investigation, including details of the suspected crewmembers.
In May, the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors' Office confirmed that there would be an investigation into the whale meat scandal.

However, on June 20th, Junichi and Toru were arrested for stealing the package, and on the same day the Tokyo Public Prosecutor suddenly announced that he had dropped his investigation into the whale meat embezzlement scandal.

After 26 days in police detention, Junichi and Toru are out on bail, but they still face criminal prosecution.

Find out more about the case and how you can help Junichi and Toru!

Junichi (31) is the director of the Oceans Campaign of Greenpeace Japan. A husband and father, he often spends his weekends hiking to nearby Mt. Takao with his son. Junichi speaks of providing an opportunity to children of the future to be awed by Earth’s grand nature.
Joining Greenpeace in 2001 as a campaigner working on toxic materials, he has worked to promote "Zero Waste" in Japan, and was instrumental in the landmark Zero Waste Declaration adopted by the town of Kamikatsu, in Tokushima prefecture, which aims to eliminate waste by 2020. Since then, he has acted as Greenpeace Japan's Campaign Director and now the Director of the Oceans Campaign to promote sustainable coastal fisheries in Japan and an end to so-called research whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary.

Toru (41) is the actions coordinator of Greenpeace Japan. He is married and has a two-year-old daughter. He joined Greenpeace because he was "really impressed that there were so many good people" involved. Toru supports the whales campaign because "simply, I think whaling should end now. A year ago, I was a new Greenpeace volunteer helping out when our ship the Esperanza was coming to Yokohama. I began to understand the whaling issue, and felt that whaling is going to end in 1-2 years".

Here is a video with the story:


Greenpeace Japan's Whale Campaign has a simple and cute little action for promoting awareness and love for whales - attaching whale figures to public drinking fountains in schools and parks. Here are some photos:

Monday, 3 November 2008

Baghdad Calling

Baghdad Calling is a book by photojournalist Geert van Kesteren. In interviews and photos - both his own and those collected from Iraqi amateur photographers - it shows the everyday life of Iraqi refugees, most of whom have escaped from the centres of conflict to calmer parts of Iraq or neighbouring countries like Jordan, Turkey and Syria. There is hardly any relief in any form for these refugees, "with all the attendant consequences: children do not go to school and people are denied any medical care", as Jan Gruiters writes in the introduction.

People cope as they can - in the photo below, for example, two boys entertain their family by putting on a muscle show ...

Photo by Geert van Kesteren, Syria 2007.

Find out more about the book and see more photos: