The Answer To Life, The Universe & Everything

I will confess to not being a very patient person. I will also confess to being intolerant of stupid, petty rules and those who seek to enforce them. And, I suppose, I had also better confess to the fact that displaying an attitude can lead to a lack of cooperation which leads to more time spent standing in the ‘queue’.

Signs that say things like ‘Queue This Side’ are guaranteed to have me standing the other side; or ‘Wait Behind Yellow Line’ means some or all of my shoes over the threshold. If some ‘Jobswurf’ has something to say I feign deafness or idiocy and advance into the ‘Forbidden Zone’. This can have interesting consequences, especially at US airports; but enough of that!

When J and I first came to live in Turkey I was delighted by the general air of anarchy that went with what passed for queuing here. There were none of those ticket machines with multiple choice buttons that have countless people pass you whilst you try to work out what to do. No, it was a free-for-all with everyone talking at once and pushing to the front. Unless, that is, you were a foreigner – as soon as you were marked out by the mob a calm would descend and all of the innate kindness and hospitality of the Turk would burst over you as you were propelled to the front of the queue. The person being dealt with would step aside with a smile and a cheery ‘Buyrun, buyrun’ (Come on – Please – Help yourself; a simple word with so many nice meanings). I always felt embarrassed and protested, but to no avail – this rampaging mob of a few minutes ago had transformed itself into everything we love about our hosts and they were determined to demonstrate what Turks were all about. There always seemed to be someone in the group who spoke English (or German and despite ones protests of not understanding would continue to go on at length in German), and with a smiling ‘I can help you’ would assume total control of whatever you were trying to achieve.

Not that it was always sweetness and light – our hosts are genetically inquisitive and this could lead to some interesting gymnastics, especially at the bank. Being raised as an English person taught never to speak of religion, politics or MONEY, it was difficult to tolerate the many heads peering over my shoulder or under my arm – how do you deal with the guy who is not the bank teller counting your money for you?

queuing at Ziraat Bank!


All that changed with the introduction of ticket machines; apart from a few backwoods men and women who persisted with their old habits until led away to get their own ticket by the bank guard. Very civilised you may think, and you would be right; except nothing seems to get done any faster since technology came to streamline the system. Let me explain . . .

We have to pay our SGK (Turkish Health Insurance) premium every month and it can only be paid at Ziraat Bank (so we’re told). Every time we go there, the banks of chairs are full of people clutching their tickets and watching the red, flashing number displays. The numbers change slowly and those waiting also change slowly as new victims enter the queue. There are still those who seem to walk in and wander to the counter and get dealt with but perhaps I’m hallucinating by this time! On our last visit we were there at opening time which we had thought was a smart thing to do, only to find that there were 46 others already there ahead of us. They, of course did not have tickets, the bank not yet being open, and so had reverted to older patterns of queuing behaviour.

So, there we were, number 47, waiting. It couldn’t take long to get through 46 others with 6 tellers at the counter, could it? Except (that word again), those 6 tellers had to get organised, get some tea down them and generally get their day off to a slow start. Twenty minutes after we sat down the first in line walked away from the only open position and number 2 shuffled up to the counter. By this time I was seriously considering employing someone to sit in for me and phone me just before my number was up! This used to be an honourable profession until technology or privatisation took over; a man could earn a day’s pay by standing in various queues to hand in bits of paper and collect other bits of paper. It took 40 minutes before the 5th position opened by when time itself had ceased to have any meaning – and then it hit me – Yes! That was it! Douglas Adams and ‘The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy’. That very number 47. It was the answer to Life, The Universe and Everything! Suddenly, everything was explained; queuing; ‘ERNIE’ (electronic random number indicating equipment); chance; fate . . . Ziraat Bank!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps  there is some controversy about the number in serious circles; some say 42, some 45 and some 47 but as the world is going to be destroyed to make way for an Inter-galactic by-pass, who cares!

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Knickers, Bums and Willies Will Be Banned – More Lunacy


TİB’s ‘forbidden words list’ inconsistent with law, say Turkish web providers

The TİB sent a list of 138 words Thursday to Turkish web-hosting firms, urging them to ban Internet domains that include such words. The TİB sent a list of 138 words Thursday to Turkish web-hosting firms, urging them to ban Internet domains that include such words.


A request made Thursday by the TTelecommunications Directorate, or TİB, to ban a total of 138 words from Turkish Internet domain names has no legal basis and has left companies unsure of what action to take, according to experts.

“Providing a list and urging companies to take action to ban sites that contain the words and threatening to punish them if they don’t has no legal grounds,” Yaman Akdeniz, a cyber-rights activist and a law professor at Istanbul Bilgi University, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in a phone interview Friday. Akdeniz said no authority could decide that an action was illegal just by association.

The TİB sent a list of 138 words Thursday to Turkish web-hosting firms, urging them to ban Internet domains that include such words. The directive leaves tens of thousands of Turkish websites facing the risk of closure.

“Hosting companies are not responsible for monitoring for illegal activities; their liability arises only if they take no action after being notified by the TİB – or any other party – and are asked to remove certain illegal content,” Akdeniz said.

The TİB cited the Internet ban law number 5651 and related legislation as the legal ground for its request. The law, however, does not authorize firms to take action related to banning websites.

“The hosting company is not responsible for controlling the content of the websites it provides domains to or researching/exploring on whether there is any illegal activity or not. They are responsible for removing illegal content when they are informed and there is the technical possibility of doing so,” according to Article 5 of the law.

On Thursday, following the heated debate surround the “forbidden” list, the TİB said the list was sent to hosting firms for informatory purposes. But the statement further confused the situation, as the body threatened companies with punishment if they did not obey its directions regarding the list in the first letter sent to service providers.

“The TİB’s press statement is not clear, nor is it satisfactory,” Akdeniz said, adding that it was a pity the directorate was still standing behind the list.

The TİB’s action is inconsistent with the related law and bylaw, and its subsequent statement contradicted both the request and the legislation,” Devrim Demirel, founder and chief executive officer of BerilTech, Turkey’s leading domain name and business intelligence company, told the Daily News on Friday. He added they were still confused and did not know what their next move would be.

Demirel said they had no answers to the questions from hundreds of his company’s customers from Turkey and abroad, including Google’s and Yahoo’s services.

The TİB’s letter said the body would punish companies for not taking action to ban domains containing “forbidden words,” but it did not specify what kind of punishment it implied, according to Demirel. “It is still not clear whether there will be administrative or other sanctions.”

Noting that the implementation of the TİB’s request on the forbidden names list could have many negative technical implications, Demirel said, “I think the TİB personnel who worked on the issues related to banning access are not endowed with the necessary technical knowledge and skills.”

He said customers had not taken any illegal action, but domains that include the words TİB wants to filter and then ban could incur losses.

“There is no guarantee in the existing related legislation that I will not be asked to compensate the company in such a case,” Demirel said, adding that there were many other complex technicalities like this one that could emerge should the TİB’s request be implemented.

Demirel said he received TİB’s letter via an email, which he said was neither ethical nor secure.

“Do we have to make a technical check of the sender’s identity each time the TİB sends us an email? Requests with such important implications should be sent officially to each company’s office address, with the respective seal and signatures,” he said.

Despite the problems, Demirel said banning websites in itself was the wrong approach. “Banning access to websites is in itself a censuring service.”

The TİB’s latest request also implied censure, he said.

Banned words have many scratching heads.

The effect of the TİB’s request could see the closure of many websites that include a number of words. For example, the website “” ( could be banned because the domain name has the word “animal” in it; likewise, “,” ( could be closed down because of the word “anal.” Websites will also be forbidden from using the number 31 in their domain names because it is slang for male masturbation.

Some banned English words include “beat,” “escort,” “homemade,” “hot,” “nubile,” “free” and “teen.” Some other English words would also be banned because of their meanings in Turkish: “pic,” short for picture, is banned because it means “bastard” in Turkish. The past tense of the verb “get” is also banned because “got” means “butt” in Turkish. Haydar, a very common Alevi name for men, is also banned because it means penis in slang.

“Gay” and its Turkish pronunciation, “gey;” “çıplak” (naked); “itiraf” (confession); “liseli” (high school student); “nefes” (breath) and “yasak” (forbidden) are some of the other banned words.