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‘The Naked Ape’ by Desmond Morris

“A Zoologist’s Study of the Human animal” This is how Morris describes the book.

Having been published in 1967, the book has some old feeling to it but it is a must read if you are interested in human origins or human behavior in general. So many things that we do today, in modern world, was coded in our brains thousands of years ago. By examining our ancestors, besides other animals, Morris had a very clear image of who we actually are: Naked Apes.

I would like to give some insight about the author first: Desmond John Morris (born 24 January 1928) is an English zoologist, ethologist and surrealist painter, as well as a popular author in human sociobiology. He is known for his 1967 book The Naked Ape, and for his television programs such as Zoo Time. He studied zoology at the University of Birmingham and he got his PhD degree in animal behavior, at the University of Oxford.

Morris makes my job way easier and divides his book into 8 major parts: Origins, Sex, Rearing, Exploration, Fighting, Feeding, Comfort, Animals. I intend to follow his path in this review. What is most striking about his style is that he can describe a process in a  very detailed way. He first starts the chapter with the observations he made on animals, after detailed descriptions, he explains how we see these traits in humans as well, then he makes his own comments on the subject. Some of them are well known facts but some of them are extremely surprising. Especially the ‘Fighting’ ‘Comfort’ and ‘Animals’ parts were interesting since I learned a lot of new things.

In this review you will find out:

  • Why are we naked in comparison to other primates?
  • Why do we hate snakes and spiders?
  • During a fight which one is an indicator of danger?: Your enemy’s face turning white or red?
  • Why do babies smile?
  • Why stares are intimidating?
  • Do we coded for monogamy or polygamy?
  • And more…

Enjoy.

ORIGINS

‘Naked Ape’ (aka Homo Sapiens) is an odd kind when compared with the other primate species, marked off by his nudity from all the thousands of hairy, shaggy or furry land-dwelling mammalian species.

It is the biological nature of the beast  that has molded the social structure of civilization, rather than the other way around. Only the names have been changed: for ‘hunting’ read ‘working’, for ‘hunting grounds’ read ‘place of business’, for ‘home base’ read ‘house’ for ‘pair bond’ read ‘marriage’, for ‘mate’ read ‘wife’ , and so on.

This chapter in the book starts with explaining how due to the climatic conditions apes were forced to become hunters rather than fruit pickers. The ancestral ground apes already had large and high quality brains. They had good eyes** and efficient grasping hands. They inevitably, as primates, had some degree of social organization. With strong pressure on them to increase their prey-killing skills vital changes began to take place. They became more upright-fast, better runners. Their hands became freed from locomotion duties – strong, efficient weapon holders. Their brains became more complex – brighter quicker decision makers.

apedog
This is what a dog-ape would have looked like. Not very charming.

It could be argued that evolution might have favored the development of a more typical cat- or dog- like killer, a kind of cat-ape or dog-ape, by the simple process of enlarging the teeth and nails into savage fang-like and claw-like weapons. But this would have put the ancestral ground ape into direct competition with the already highly specialized cat and dog killers. It would have meant competing with them on their own term, and the outcome would no doubt have been disastrous for the primates.

The forest ape that became a ground ape that became a hunting ape that became a territorial ape that became a cultural ape and we must call a temporary halt.

Vision

**The sensory equipment of the higher primates is much more dominated by the sense of vision than the sense of smell. In their tree-climbing world, seeing well is far more important than smelling well, and the snouts shrunk considerably giving the eyes a much better view. In searching for food, the colors of fruits are helpful clues, and unlike the carnivores, primates have evolved a good color vision.

Communication

Socially the hunting ape had to increase his urge to communicate and to co-operate with his fellows. Facial expressions and vocalizations had to become more complicated. With the new weapons to hand, he had to develop powerful signals that would inhibit attacks within the social group. On the other hand, with a fixed home base to defend, he had to develop stronger aggressive responses to the members of rival groups.

faces

faces2
Different gestures of Apes revealing their moods.

Father Role

A new development, for the general primate rule is that virtually all parental care comes from the mother (It is only a wise primate, like our hunting ape, that knows its own father).

Mother Role

Because of the extremely long period of dependency of the young and the heavy demands made by them, the females found themselves almost constantly confined to the home base. In this respect the hunting ape’s new way of life threw up a special problem, one that it did not share with the typical pure carnivores: the role of the sexes had to become more distinct. The hunting parties, unlike those of the ‘pure’ carnivores, had to become all male groups. If anything was going to go against the primate grain, it was this. For a vigorous primate male to go off on a feeding trip and leave his females unprotected from the advances of any other males that might happen to come by, was unheard of. This was something that demanded a major shift in the social behavior.

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Male- Female Bond

Male and female hunting apes had to fall in love and remain faithful to one another. This is a common tendency in many other group of animals but it is rare among primates. This shift helped many things: Serious sexual rivalries between the males were reduced. This aided their developing cooperativeness. Also with the newly developed weapons, the hunting ape was under strong pressure to reduce any source of disharmony within the tribe. The last effect was on the little hunting apes. The heavy task of rearing and training the slowly developing young demanded a cohesive family unit. With the male-female bond (monogamous) this unity was formed.

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Nudity

Why on earth should the haunting ape have become a naked ape? We can be fairly certain that it did not happen before our ancestors left their forest homes. It probably happened while they were on the open plains. There are several theories for our nakedness, let’s have a look at them briefly:

humanlike5
Infant chimpanzee with naked body with some hair on the top of his head. Are we a product of neoteny?
  1. Neoteny: To continue to possess some larval or immature characteristics in adulthood. If you examine an infant chimpanzee at birth (after exactly 8.5-9 months, like us) you will find that it has a good head of hair, but that its body is almost naked (see the picture above). If this condition was delayed into the animal’s adult life by neoteny, the adult chimpanzee’s hair condition would be very much like hours. BUT unless it had some special value to the new species, it would be quickly dealt with by natural selection. So why did it stay? Here are some other theories:
  2. What is the survival value of naked skin? When the hunting ape abandoned its nomadic past and settled down at fixed home bases, its dens became heavily infested with skin parasites. Also, such messy feeding habits that a furry coat would soon become clogged and messy would create a disease risk. There are hundreds of species who lost their hair during evolution due to this problem.
  3. Another theory is that development of fire led the loss of the hairy coat since hunting ape felt cold only at night and fire was handling the problem.
  4. This theory is very interesting: Before becoming a hunting ape, the original ground ape that had left the forests went through a long phase as an aquatic ape in search of food. Aquatic-Ape-TheoryClose examination reveals that on our backs the directions of our tiny remnant hairs differ strikingly  from those other apes. In us, they point diagonally  backwards and inwards towards the spine. This follows the direction of flow of the water passing over a swimming body. So the idea that we might have lost our body hair to reduce resistance when swimming. Also, we are unique among all the primates in being the only one to possess a thick layer of sub-cutaneous fat, a compulsory insulating device. Even sensitive nature of our hands support the aquatic theory: Because it takes a subtle sensitized hand to feel for food in the waterwaterape1waterape2waterape3waterape4waterape5waterape6
  5. Another argument that we lost hair because it was a social trend; it arose as a signal. Hunting ape wanted to look different to be easily identified.
  6. Another suggestion is that the loss of hair is an extension of sexual signalling. Sensitivity to touch was sexually important and by exposing their naked skins to one another during sexual encounters, both male and female would become more highly sensitized to erotic stimuli.
  7. The last suggestion, if you ask me, was the weakest one that was argued. Hunting ape lost hair to prevent himself from being over-heated. Exposure of the naked skin to the air certainly increases the chances of the heat loss, but it also increases heat gain at the same time and risks damage from the sun’s rays.

SEX

It is a confusing situation for today’s naked ape: As primates they are pulled one way, as carnivores by adoption they are pulled another, and as members of an elaborate civilized community, they are pulled yet another.

The female of our species has to reach the age of twenty nine before she can match the orgasm rate of the fifteen-year old male.

Why do we want to build our own family?

During the long, growing years, the young hunting ape will have had the chance to develop a deep personal relationship with his parents, a relationship much more powerful and lasting than anything a young monkey could experience. The loss of this parental bond with maturation and independence would create a ‘relationship void’  – a gap that had to be filled. He would therefore already be primed for the development of a new equally powerful bond to replace it.

Other primate females do not pair with their male partners during their pregnancy but the naked ape does: because with one male- one female  system, it would be dangerous to frustrate the male for too long a period. It might endanger the pair bond.

Why our lips are inside-out?

All primates have lips but not turned inside-out like ours. Giving a kiss on the lips is a greeting signal for the chimpanzee.

A male and a female chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) looking deeply in each others eyes

Kiss is both greeting and a sexual one for the naked ape. Why?: Sexual arousal produces some physical changes in the body; a swelling and reddening of the lips, and the clear demarcation of this area (the line between your lower lip and upper lip and the line around your lips) are shaped in a  way that they become more recognizable. Even in their un-aroused condition, they are redder than the rest of the face skin simply by their very existence, they will act as advertising signals drawing attention to the presence of a tactile sexual structure.

Another supporting fact to this is that if climatic conditions demand a darker skin, then this will work agains the visual signalling capacity of the lips by reducing their color contrast. If they really are important as visual signals, what they have lost in color contrast, they have made up for in size and shape by becoming larger and more protuberant.

Monogamy or polygamy?

If the violent hunting life results in adult males becoming scarcer than females, there will be a tendency for some of the surviving males to form pair bonds with more than one female. However, this will bring home the problem since the female won’t want to share him with somebody else. To have a peaceful relationship with his hunting mates, a peaceful family life at the home base, to keep the peace in the group, naked apes evolved to be monogamous.

We can sum up by saying that, whatever obscure backward tribal units are doing today, the mainstream of our species express its pair-bonding character in its most extreme form, namely long-term monogamous mating.

Our Smell Preferences

Before puberty, there are strong preferences for sweet and fruity odors, but with the arrival of sexual maturity this response falls off  and there is a dramatic shift in favor of flowery, oily and musky odors. This applies to both sexes, but the increase in musk responsiveness is stronger in males than females.

Incest

If the old primate patterns are left unmodified, the adult male will soon drive out the young males (his sons) and mate with the young females . These will then become part of the family unit as additional breeding females along with their mother, and we shall be right back where we started. But this wouldn’t work anymore for the new cooperative hunting ape. Because of its home-base needs and female-male bond that already improved, as the children reach puberty, they set off to establish a new breeding base and find their mate themselves.

Where did the urge for covering our genitals come from?

figleafIf sexuality had to be heightened to keep the pair together, then steps must have been taken to damp it down when the pair were apart, to avoid the over-stimulation of third parties. Because of their vertical posture it is impossible for a naked ape to approach another member of his species without performing a genital display. The covering of the genital region with some simple kind of garment must have been an early cultural development.

ABNORMAL or NORMAL sexual behavior?

If outside matings conflict too strongly with the pair bond, then some less harmful substitute for them has to be found. The solution has been ‘voyeurism’ meaning obtaining sexual excitement from watching other individuals copulating.

There is nothing biologically unusual about a homosexual act of pseudo-copulation. But the formation of a homosexual pair bond is re-productively unsound, since it cannot lead to the production of offspring and wastes potential breeding adults. One theory is that under serious over-crowding with no signs of any easing up in the immediate future, anti-reproductive sexual patterns must obviously be considered in a new light.

If either males or females cannot for some reason obtain sexual access to their opposite numbers, they will find sexual outlets in other ways. They may use other members of their own sex. or they may even use members of other species, or they may masturbate.

REARING

If the naked ape is trying to breast feed her baby and the baby doesn’t want it, there are two possible reasons:

  1. Nipple is not protruding far enough into the baby’s mouth.
  2. It is failing because it is being suffocated.

This is caused by the anatomy of the human female breast. Other female primates has much longer shape and does not swell out into the great rounded hemisphere that causes so much difficulty for the baby. This is because for our species, breast design is primarily sexual rather than maternal in function.

breastfeeding
All the primates but the Naked Ape have a shape of breast that is best for breastfeeding. With this shape, the baby doesn’t suffocate or doesn’t have any trouble reaching the nipple.

Why we breast feed on the left side?

The mother, either instinctively or by an unconscious series of trials and errors, would soon arrive at the discovery that her baby is more at peace if held on the left, against her heart, than on the right.

This is why babies sleep better with a ticking metronome with a heart beat speed . This also may explain why we insist on locating feelings of love in the heart rather than the head. Also, we rock back and forth on our feet when we are in a state of conflict. rocking like a heart beat calms us down.

breast

Voice and Crying

The astonishing fast rate of learning in the field of vocal imitation is unique to our species and must be considered as one of our greatest achievements. Chimpanzees are like us, brilliant at rapid manipulative imitation, but they cannot manage vocal imitations. This difference is a question of brain, not voice. The chimpanzee has a vocal apparatus that is structurally perfectly capable of making a wide variety of sounds. So do birds. But they are too bird-brained to make a good use of this ability.

By crying, the baby alerts its parents, the adult alerts the other members of its social group. There are two important factors to baby’s crying: physical pain (including hunger) and insecurity.

Laugh

Laugh has evolved from crying: the crying infant has become segmented, chopped up into small pieces and at the same time has grown smoother an slower.

Laughing does not appear until the third or fourth month. Its arrival coincides with the development of the parental recognition. Smiling is a secondary form of laughing. It has become specialized as a species greeting signal. Any social contact is at best mildly fear-provoking. Both smile and the laugh indicate the existence of this fear and its combination with feelings of attraction and acceptance (Blogger’s note: Maybe this explains the nervous laugh and nervous smile! I have a strange story actually, when I heard that my grandfather died in a tragic traffic accident, I was devastated. I was the one who broke down the news to my mom, but while I was telling her the terrible news, I found myself smiling! I was thinking to myself: What the heck? Stop smiling! But it was uncontrollable, I couldn’t control it. Maybe it was my fear that smiling!).

Also the evolution of smile is the clinging that apes do but we can’t since we do not have any fur on our mother to cling to. A young chimpanzee screams its head off when it needs attention, like we do. Once his mother comes he clings to her showing that he wants his mother to stay. We do the same by smiling. We signal to our mother that we want her and her attention to stay by smiling.

EXPLORATION

We never stopped investigating: this is the greatest survival trick of our species. Experiments with monkeys have revealed that not only does isolation in infancy produce a socially withdrawn adult, but it also creates an anti-sexual and anti-parental individual.

FIGHTING

Animals fight among themselves either to establish their dominance in a social hierarchy, or to establish their territorial rights over a particular piece of ground.

There is a rigidly established social hierarchy in most species of monkeys and apes, with a dominant male in charge of the group. When he becomes too old or weak to maintain his domination, he is overthrown by a younger, sturdier male, who then assumes the mantle of the colony boss.

The book explains the physical changes in our body during the preparation of a fight, which I’m not going to write here. Rather, I will share some interesting information.

When a mammal becomes aggressively aroused to fight a number of basic physiological changes occur within its body. The whole machine has to gear itself up for action by means of the autonomic nervous system. This system consists of two opposing and counterbalancing sub systems:

  1. The sympathetic system: the one that is concerned with preparing the body for violent activity. It says “You are stripped for action, get moving!”
  2. The parasympathetic system: the one that has the task of preserving and restoring bodily reserves. It says “Take it easy, relax and conserve your strength”

The enemy provokes fear as well as aggression. The aggression drives the animal on, the fear holds it back. The intense state of inner conflict arises. Typically, the animal that is aroused to fight doesn’t go straight into all-out attack. It begins by threatening to attack. If the enemy gets scared and leaves, then you win without shedding any blood. This is preferable.

In the tense state of conflict between aggression and fear, everything is suspended. The result is that parasympathetic system fights back wildly and the autonomic pendulum swings frantically back and forth. As the tense moments of threat and counter threat tick by, we see flashes of parasympathetic activity intermitted with the sympathetic symptoms. Dryness in the mouth may give way to excessive salivation. Tightening of the bowels may collapse and sudden defecation occurs. The urine, held back so strongly in the bladder, maybe released in a flood. The removal of the blood from the skin maybe massively reversed: extreme paleness being replaced by intense flushing and reddening. The deep and rapid respiration may be dramatically interrupted, leading to gasps and sighs. These are desperate attempts on the part of the parasympathetic system to counteract the apparent actions of sympathetic. This explains why in extreme cases of shock, fainting or swooning can be observed. In such instances blood that has been rushed to the brain is withdrawn again so violently that it leads to a sudden unconsciousness.

One of the side affects of an intense inner conflict is that animal sometimes exhibits strange and seemingly irrelevant behavior to show its fear + anger. There are so many variations to this in animal world. One of them that is similar to us is to indulge in ‘instant sleep’ momentarily tucking their heads into a snoozing position, yawning and stretching. The other one is scratching even though nothing is itching. Modern humans do this by rearranging ornaments (see below, 45. President of the USA’s behavior), lighting a cigarette, cleaning our glasses, looking at our watch, pouring a drink, etc. (Bloggers note: Also have you ever thought why we feel so sleepy while studying for our finals? That is our ‘instant sleep’ reaction to our fear.)

So what do animals do to show their enemy that they don’t want to fight anymore?

They either switch off the signals that have been arousing the aggression, or they switch on other, positively non aggressive signals. Because aggression involves violent movement, a static pose automatically signals non-aggression. Usually this is accompanied by crouching or cowering. Aggression involves expanding the body to its maximum size (look how the both men are opening their arms while threatening each other in the above video) and crouching reverses this . Facing away from the animal also helps.

In certain rare cases a loser will admit defeat by offering a vulnerable area to attacker. A chimpanzee for example, will hold out its hand as a gesture of submission. Modern human does this by a hand shake or raising our hands.

Sometimes they adopt juvenile begging postures which will talk to the enemy’s parental instincts. Modern human does this by adopting a ‘baby-talk’ that we see among couples.

The last thing the animal tries is grooming. A great deal of social or mutual grooming goes on in animal world and it is strongly associated with the calmer, ore peaceful moments of community life.

Human animal in Fight

We cannot intimidate our opponents, for example, by erecting our body hair. But we can go ‘white with rage’, ‘red with anger’, or ‘pale with fear’. It is the white color we have to watch for here: this means activity.If it is combined with other actions that signal attack, then it is a vital danger signal. If it is combined with other actions that signal fear, then it is a panic signal. The angry, red-faced opponent who faces you is far less likely to attack than the white-faced, tight lipped one. Red-face’s conflicts such that he is all bottled up and inhibited, but white face is still ready for action. White face is much more likely to spring in to the attack unless he is immediately appeased or counter-threatened even more strongly.

As naked apes, because our urge to attack and escape are both strongly activated simultaneously, we exhibit some characteristics movements. For example: raising of clenched fist or raising a hand, back and forth striking movements of the forearm. We blow our fist but at a safe distance form the opponent.

Naked ape make short approach-intention movements but repeatedly check themselves from going too far. maybe the stamped their feet or bring down their fists in any near-by object. This redirection activity happens a lot in animal world. Because the opponent is too frightening to be directly assaulted, the aggressive movements are redirected towards some other less intimidating object dor example a harmless bystander . Gorillas, chimpanzees frequently perform similar display, tearing up, smashing and throwing around branches and vegetation.

Watch the two men’s fight. It takes them about a minute to threaten each other (repeatedly check themselves from going too far). Their body move back and forth, they raise their hands up. You can easily see the guy with the green shirt’s face is turning red as the argument heats up. Also at the minute 0:30 by shooting the ball, actually he is redirecting his anger.

Our aggressive faces are the same with other primates, the more the urge to attack dominates the urge to flee, the more the face pulls itself forwards. If you are exposing your teeth, your forehead is wrinkling and eyebrows are raised, the fear is taking over.

The crouching of animals as a sign of defeat turns into groveling and prostrating in humans. The key signal here is the lowering of the body in relation to the dominant individual. When threatening, we puff ourselves up to our greatest height, making our bodies as tall and as large as possible. So submissive behavior must be the opposite. Like military salute; removing the hat actually a procedure of lowering the height of the body. Also the key feature here is the lowering of eyes. A direct stare is typical of the most out-and-out aggression.

Chimpanzees appease by holding out a limp hand towards the dominant individual, to show submission. We do the same gesture. It is our greeting gesture in the shape of a friendly hand shake. Friendly gestures often grow out of submissive ones.

The Power of Stare

During ordinary face-to-face conversations we typically look away from our companions when we are talking, then glance back at them at the end of each sentence, or ‘paragraph’, to check their response to what we have said. Even though a professor with much experience is in such a dominant position, there are so many students in the auditorium, all staring at him, that he experiences a basic and initially uncontrollable fear of them. Only after a great deal of practice can he overcome this. The simple, aggressive, physical act of being stared at by a large group of people is also causing the butterflies in his stomach. He has all his intellectual worries about the qualities of his performance and its reception, of course, but the mass threat-stare is an additional and more fundamental hazard for him. This is again a case of the curiosity stare being confused at an unconscious level with the threat-stare. The wearing of glasses and sunglasses makes the face appear more aggressive because it artificially and accidentally enlarges the pattern of the stare. Mild mannered individuals tend to select thin-rimmed or rimless glasses (without realizing why they do so) because this enables them to see better with the minimum stare exaggeration, arousing counter aggression.

staresmith
Do these stares with shades make you feel threatened? There is a reason for that.

Moths have a pair of startling eye-markings on their wings. These lie concealed until the creatures are attacked by predators.

moth
Moth with eye-markings on its wings.

On a smaller scale certain products have been given threat-face brand names such as OXO, OMO, OZO or OVO. The attention has already been drawn.

In animal world, during the fight, destruction of life is avoided because the enemy either flees or submits. In either case, the dispute is settled. But the moment that attacking is done from such a distance that the submission signals of the losers cannot be read by the winners, then violent aggression is going to go raging on. In modern aggression,  the result is wholesale slaughter on a scale unheard of in any other species.

There are 5 solutions proposed by the author to end the massacre:

  1. massive mutual disarmamaent
  2. de-patriotize the members of the different social groups.
  3. provide and promote harmless, symbolic substitutes for war
  4. improvement of intellectual control over aggression.

According to the author none of these are really possible for the near future. So he proposes this as the only sound biological solution to this dilemma: 5. Massive depopulation or a rapid spread of the species on to other planets, combined if possible with assistance from all four of the courses of action already mentioned. To sum up then, the best solution for ensuring world peace is the widespread promotion of contraception or abortion.

RELIGION

From out ancient background there remained a need for all-powerful figure who could keep the group under control, and the vacancy was filled by the invention of a god. At first sight it is surprising that religion has been so successful, but its extreme potency is simply a measure of the strength of our fundamental biological tendency. Because if this, religion has proved immensely valuable as a device for aiding social cohesion, and it is doubtful whether our species could have progressed far without it. We all simply have to believe in something.

EATING

Why do we like to eat our food hit?

Alternative explanations:

  1. it helps to simulate ‘prey temparature’ :Although we no longer consume freshly killed meat we nevertheless devour it at much the same temperature as other carnivor species.
  2. We have such weak teeth that we are forced to ‘tenderize’ the meat by cooking it. But it doesn’t explain why want to eat it hot.
  3. byincreasing the temperature of the food we improve its flavor.

Like other primates we find it hard to resist sweets.

The urge to eat meat appears to have become too deep -seated.

COMFORT

The place where the environment comes into direct contact with an animal, its body surface, receives a great deal of rough treatment during  the course of its life. Animals have evolved a veriety of special comfort movements that help to keep it clean.

Social grooming,  (animals picking food from each other’s fur) the development of a friendly mutual aid system. This can be seen in a wide range of both bird and mammal species, but it reaches a peak of expression among the higher primates. When they groom each other, they do lip-smacking to communicate. Look at this video:

We no longer have a luxuriant coat of fur to clean. Smiling has replaced lip smacking and vocalization replaced grooming. The behavior pattern of talking:

  1. Information talking: Talking with verbs about everything
  2. Mood talking: nonverbal mood signals
  3. Exploratory talking: Talking for talking’s sake
  4. Grooming talking; Meaningless polite chatter during gatherings

Fluffy or furry clothing, rugs, or furniture often release a strong grooming response. Pet animals are even more inviting, and few naked apes can resist the temptation to stroke a cat’s fur or scratch a dog behind the ear.

So, why the grooming adoption of humans did not involved our hair? The explanation appears to lie in the sexual significance of the hair. Its sexual associations have led to its involvement in sexual behavior patterns, so that stroking or manipulating the hair is now an action too heavily loaded with erotic significance to be used as a simple social friendship gesture.

In today’s world we have some psychological disorders and they are coming from the grooming need of our ancestors. Medical care is one of the grooming actions among apes. Minor infection and sicknesses are usually treated rationally, as if they are simply mild versions of serious illnesses, but there is strong evidence to suggest that they are in reality much more related to primitive ‘grooming demands’. The medical symptoms reflect a behavioral problem that has taken a physical form, rather than a true physical problem. This is happening because by examining, writing a prescription, taking care of the patient, the doctor is doing grooming. If psychological the person needs constant grooming, this is a disorder. In modern world we call it: Münchausen’s Syndrome. Those members of a community who are either very successful or socially well adjusted rarely suffer from this. Those that have temporary or long-standing social problems are, by contrast, highly susceptible.

Also, another disorder is hidden here: Some individuals have such a great need to care for others that they may actively promote and prolong sickness in a companion in order to be able to express their grooming urges more fully. This way a vicious cycle of a chronic invalid demanding and constant attention is created.  This is called: Münchausen by Proxy syndrome.

OUR OTHER SIMILARITIES

Like other primates we still scratch ourselves, rub our eyes, pick our sores,. and lick our wounds. We also share with them a strong tendency to sun bathe. In addition we have added a number of specialized cultural patterns, the most common and widespread of which is washing with water. This is rare in other primates, although certain species bathe occasionally.

We also sweat like primates. There is a further distinction in the ares of emotional sweating, the palms and the soles differing from the armpits and the forehead. The first regions respond well only to emotional situations, whereas the last two react to both emotional and to temperature stimuli.

ANIMALS

The last part of the book is about how naked ape sees other animals. There is some interesting information here. Higher forms of animal life regard other animals in 5 ways: as prey, symbionts, competitors, parasites and predators.

DomesticationOfDogs

The most ancient symbiont in our history is undoubtedly the dog. We cannot be sure exactly when our ancestors first began to domesticate this valuable animal, but it appears to be at least ten thousand years ago. The wild, wolf-like ancestors of the domestic dog must have been serious competitors with our hunting ancestors. In time – we do not exactly know how- they made a deal in each hunt to share the kill. In time, possibly young puppies were brought in to the tribal home base to be fattened so that they could eat them later. However, their value as watch dogs were discovered. Then, these that were allowed to live in a now tamed condition and permitted to accompany the males on their hunting trip show immediately their talent of track down the prey.

Having been fed and raised, the dogs would consider themselves to be members of the naked-ape pack and would cooperate instinctively with their adopted leaders. Selective breeding over a number of generations would soon get rid of the trouble makers and a new, improved stock of increasingly restrained and controllable domestic hunting dogs would arise.

Individual dogs with unusually well developed abilities in a particular direction were inbred to intensify their special advantages.

Cats

With the development of large-scale grain storage, rodents became a serious problem and rodent-killers were encouraged The cat the ferret and the mongoose were the species that came to our aid and in the first two cases full dommestication with selective breeding followed.

Animals We Like and We Don’t Like

They asked 80,000 British children aging between 4 to 14 what their favorite animal is in the zoo. The figures are as follows: 97.15% of all the children quoted a mammal of some kind as their top favorite Birds accounted for 1.6%, reptiles 1%, amphibians 0.055. If we narrow it to top ten animals:

  1. Chimpanzee (13.5%)
  2. Monkey (13%)
  3. Horse (9%)
  4. Bushbaby (A nocturnal ape) (8%)
  5. Panda (7.5%)
  6. Bear (7%)
  7. Elephant (6%)
  8. Lion (5%)
  9. Dog (4%)
  10. Giraffe (2.5%)

It is immediately clear that these preferences do not reflect aesthetic influences. The top ten are not the most elegant or brightly colored of species. They include instead a high proportion of rather clumsy, heavy-set and dully colored forms. But they look like ‘us’ or they act like ‘us’ somehow. Look at these facts:

  1. They all have hair, rather than feathers or scales
  2. They have rounded outlines (chimpanzee, monlkey, bushbaby, panda, bear,e lephant)
  3. They have flat faces (chimpanzee, monkey, bush baby, bear, panda, lion)
  4. They have facial expressions (chimpanzee, monkey, horse, lion, dog)
  5. They can ‘manipulate’ small objects (chimpanzee,. monkey, busbaby, panda,elephant)
  6. Their postures are in some ways, or at some timesrather vertical (chimpanzee, monket, buhbaby, panda, bear, giraffe)

This is not a conscious process. Each of the species listed provides certain key stimuli that strongly remind us of special properties of our own species. Non-mammalian species score badly because they are weak in these above respects. Among the birds, the top 2 picks were penguin, which is a vertically walking animal, and parrot, who speaks like a human.

The younger children prefer the bigger animals and the older children prefer the smaller ones. Because smaller children viewing the animals as parent-substitutes and the older children are looking upon them as child-substitutes.

Let’s look at the animal hates:

  1. Snake (27%)
  2. Spider (9.5%)
  3. Crocodile (4.5%)
  4. Lion (.4.5%)
  5. Rat (4%)
  6. Skunk (3%)
  7. Gorilla (3%)
  8. Rhinoceros (3%)
  9. Hippopotamus (2.5%)
  10. Tiger (2.5%)

These animals share one important feature: they are dangerous. Most of them lack the anthropomorphic features that describe the top ten favorites. Most of the people can’t even stand looking at their pictures. They cannot hurt you from the pictures, so what is this disgust?

Two rats, 12 months old, in front of white background
This cute rat couple ranks 5th in the list of most unlikable animals. Awww…

So the fear for top two is very interesting…
An analysis of the reasons given for hating these forms reveals that snakes are disliked because they are slimy an d dirty and spiders are repulsive because they are hairy and creepy. This means that they must have a symbolic significance rather than being dangerous. We might have a powerful inborn response to avoid these animals (MariaExample): 1. They might be symbolizing unwanted sex 2 .Inborn aversion response towards snake-like forms, aversion response has a survival value.

As far as the spider fear is concerned, there is a marked sex difference. The level of reaction to spiders is the same for girls with boys up to the age of puberty, then the fear in females doubles with a sharp increase. This leap in spider hatred that accompanies female puberty because of the growth of unwanted hair on the body of a young girl. That’s why they describe it as ‘nasty, hairy things’ .

FINAL WORDS
At the end of the seventeenth century the world population of naked ape was only 500 million. It has now risen to 7,600 million. Every twenty-four hours it increases by another 150,000. In 210 years’ time, if the rate of increate stays steady – which is unlikely- there will be a seething mass of 400,000 million (400 billion) naked apes crowding the face of the earth. This is scary.

Many exciting species have become extinct in the past and we are no exception. Sooner or later we shall go and make way for something else.

Some people think that our intelligence can dominate all our basic urges. I submit that this is rubbish. Our raw animal nature will never permit it. Of course we are flexible, of course, we are behavioral opportunists, but there are severe limits to the form our opportunism can take. By stressing our biological features in this book, I have tried to show the nature of these restrictions.

If you enjoyed this information as much as I did, don’t forget to add this great book into your library!

Ece

Posted in books

“The Art of Choosing” By Sheena Iyangar

This book is full of interesting facts about psychology, economy, business, education, culture, marketing and even biology. Sheena’s writing style was a little challenging for me in the beginning, because she prefers to start with a story, setting the scene and then she explains what that story was all about. So, for a while you find yourself thinking ‘What is her point?’. Despite the pretentious writing style of hers, it is still easy to read and her intelligence and wittiness are remarkable throughout the book.

A brief info about the author: Despite the difficulties posed by her blindness, Iyengar pursued higher education. In 1992, she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School and a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in English from the College of Arts and Sciences. She then earned her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Stanford University in 1997.The following year, her dissertation “Choice and its Discontents” received the prestigious Best Dissertation Award for 1998 from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology. She taught management classes in MIT and Columbia Business School.

So let’s talk about this wonderful book. I will share with you the highlights of the book and the lines that I thought were so interesting and thought provoking.

Enjoy.

In order to choose, first we must perceive that control is possible. We should feel that we have the control to do things. In this experiment, the group of dogs that couldn’t escape and suffered in the first set of experiments tended to show almost no effort to overcome the obstacles although it caused pain to them in the second experiment. Because these dogs, having earlier suffered a complete loss of control, had learned that they were helpless.

BIOLOGY: When we look at FMRI scans, we see that the main brain system engaged when making choices is the corticostriatal network. Its main component, Striatum,  evaluates the reward association. It is responsible for alerting us that sugar=good and root canal = bad. However, we have to also make the connection that too much of sugar can cause root canal. That is where the other half of the corticostriatal network, the prefrontal cortex,  comes into play. While motor abilities are largely developed by childhood and factual reasoning abilities by adolescence, the prefrontal cortex undergoes a process of growth and consolidation that continues into our mid 20s. This is why young children have more difficulty understanding abstract concepts than adults, and both children and teenagers are especially prone to acting on impulse.

WHY: Sometimes we like to choose things even though it is not practical. For example in this experiment, there were two paths that lead to the same amount food, one was branched the other one was direct. So, one held no advantage over the other. After multiple trials, nearly every rat preferred taking the branching path. Another example from human beings: People were given a casino chip. they had two choices; whether they were going to play it at a table with two identical roulette-style wheels and at a table with a single wheel. Even though they could bet on only one of the wheels, and all three wheels were identical, almost all of them chose to play it at the table with two wheels. Why? Because WE LIKE TO MAKE CHOICES.

HEALTH: Health wise, making choices is good for you as well because when human beings feel trapped, having no choice over things, they feel stressed. As you all know stress had both horrible physical and psychological effects. Because of these, captivity can often result in lower life expectancies despite objectively improved living conditions. According to the research, the less control people felt they had over their work, the higher the blood pressure during the work hours. People with little control over their work also experienced more back pain, missed more days of work due to illness in general and had higher rate of mental illness. Another study suggests that minor but frequent choice making can have a disproportionately large and positive impact on our perception of overall control.

RELIGION: Iyengar interviewed 600 people from 9 different religions with three groups: Fundamentalists, conservatives and liberals. To the author’s surprise, the study showed that members of more fundamentalist faiths experienced greater hope, were more optimistic when faced with adversity and were less likely to be depressed than their counterparts. Indeed, the people most susceptible to pessimism and depression were Unitarians, especially those who were atheists. The reason why the author was surprised was this is the controlling nature of religion. It has so many rules and it doesn’t leave you much room in terms of choices. Yet the presence of so many rules didn’t weaken people, instead, it seemed to empower them. Many of their choices were taken away and yet they experienced a sense of control over their lives.

CULTURE: Culture’s effect on our choices comprises a big part in the book. Iyengar, talks specifically about one dimension of the cultures: Identity. When it comes to making choices, there is a huge gap between the collectivist cultures and the individualistic cultures. Those of us raised in more individualistic societies, such as the Unites States, are taught to focus primarily on the ‘I’ when choosing, primarily motivated by their own preferences, needs, and rights and give priority to their personal goals over the goals of others. Iyengar also explains the roots of individualism going back to enlightenment of seventeenth and eighteenth century Europe where the influence of Greek philosophers, Protestant Reformation, scientific advances  were profound. Whereas collectivism has been on earth extensively  for a longer time. The earliest hunter – gatherer societies were highly collectivist by necessity as looking out for another increased everyone’s chances of survival and the value placed on the collective grew after humans shifted to agriculture as a means of sustenance. As populations increased and the formerly unifying familial and tribal forces became less powerful, other forces such as religion filled the gap, providing people with a sense of belongingness and a common purpose. In Eastern cultures, individuals tend to understand their lives relatively more in terms of their duties and less in terms of personal preferences.

Why is it important to understand the difference between the two: Example of Japanese children and Anglo American children. Iyengar performed an experiment with two groups of children (Please see the chart I made below): American and Japanese children were going to color an anagram. But they were given 3 choices; in one group they were going to choose their own anagram type and the color, in the second group, the anagram and the color were already chosen for them by the teacher and the teacher told them that it was his/her choice, and the third group was told that the anagram and the marker were chosen by their mother. As you can see from the chart, American kids did way better and spent much longer time on their projects (because they enjoyed them) when they made their own choices, whereas Japanese pupils were way more successful when the project material was chosen by their mothers. Another interesting result is that, when the choices were made by this random teacher, a stranger, both groups of children felt the imposition and reacted negatively.

iyengar
A set of charts that I made to explain Iyengar’s experiment on Japanese and American Kids.

Cultural aspect of choice at WORK: The employees working at the same bank and for the same manager – who reported giving the same levels of choice to all the employees – perceived different degrees of choice available to them, depending on their culture. For example: Employees in Asia, along with the Asian Americans, were less likely than Anglo American, Hispanic American, or African American employees to think of their day-to-day activities at work in terms of choice (meaning freedom of decision making is lacking and/or at work, my supervisor makes the majority of the decisions about what I do), and Latin Americans’ perception of choice fell in between these groups.

It turned out that for all the American employees except Asian Americans, the more choice they thought they had, the higher they scored on all measures of motivation, satisfaction, and performance. Conversely, the more they felt their jobs were dictated by their managers, the worse they did on all of these measures. In contrast, Asian participant, whether from Asia or the United States, scored higher when they thought their day-to-day tasks were determined primarily by their managers. Latin American employees once again fell somewhere in the middle, slightly benefiting from both greater personal choice and greater control by their managers.

japanese

WHAT IS ‘FREEDOM’? :Berlin wall was demolished in 1989, even 20 years after its reunification, in many ways Berlin still feels like two cities, divided by a barrier of ideas as powerful as the Wall itself. In Iyengar’s conversations with people from East Berlin, she realized that rather than being grateful for the increasing number of opportunities, choices, and options that they have available, to them in the marketplace, they are suspicious of this new way of life, which they increasingly perceive as unfair: Consider the economic system adopted by the Soviet Union and its satellites, including East Berlin. The government planned out how much of everything – cars, vegetables, tables, chairs- each family might need, and projected from that to set production goals for the nation as a whole. Each citizen was assigned to a particular career depending upon the skills and abilities he had demonstrated in school, and the careers that were available were also based on the projected needs of the nation. Since rent and health care were free, consumer goods were all that people could spend their wages on, but centrally controlled production ensured that everyone had the same things as everyone else, down to the same television sets, furniture and types of living space. So, the Eastern Berliner man said “In the Soviet Union you had money but couldn’t buy anything. Now you can buy anything but you don’t have money”

The Idealized capitalist system provides: ‘Freedom from’ external restrictions, one’s ability to rise in society’s ranks.

The idealized communist/socialist system provides: ‘Freedom To’ obtain adequate standard living, aims for equality of outcomes rather than the opportunities. So while the American  democracy has led to unprecedented national wealth, it also created a widespread inequality.

communist
Home structures from the Soviet Union years, illustrating the effect of communism: adequate, affordable and the same.

TEMPTATION: When we all know that one option will lead to a better outcome, why do we yearn for the other? We have two interconnecting systems for processing information and arriving at answers or judgments.

  • The first one is: the automatic system which operates quickly, effortlessly, and subconsciously.
  • The second one: the reflective system, driven not by raw sensation but by logic and reason, that is the one we have to turn on and tune into.

For example, someone offers you a choice between $100 today and $120 a month from today. What is your answer?

Then the same person offers you a choice between receiving $100 one month from now and $120 two months from now. Which amount do you choose this time?

In the first example, people tend to choose taking $100 right away, here, their automatic system is speaking. In the second example, people usually choose waiting for two months to get $120 and here, the reflective systems is talking. This is a very interesting result because the two is identically the same. In both cases, the person needs to wait for a month between $100 and $120. Therefore, in case of temptation, we may be aware that our desire is being fueled by the automatic system and that we’d be better off if we followed the reflective system, but just because we know the ‘right’ answer doesn’t mean we can bring ourselves to choose it.

According to the psychologist Prof. Paul Ekman, the best way to combine the reflective system with the automatic system; allowing the person to make snap judgments that are also highly accurate  is ‘informed intuition’.

Lake Wobegon Effect (Illusory superiority) is also explained in detail: Ninety percent of us believe ourselves to be in the top 10 percent in terms of overall intelligence and ability.

PRESENTATION AFFECTS OUR CHOICES: Every time we encounter new information or reexamine old information, we’re influenced by its presentation. Research has consistently demonstrated that losses appear far larger in our minds than do gains. We do whatever we can to avoid losing the things that are most important to us, but we don’t take similar risks to achieve gains because we worry that we might  incur a loss instead.

We tend to have a better memory for things that excite our senses or appeal to our emotions than for straight facts and dry statistics.

Research has shown that people are willing to spend significantly more when paying with a credit card than with cash because when we take the bills out of our wallet and hand them over, our senses register that we now have less money.

Even the order in which we encounter options can affect their availability. We tend to better remember the first and last options in a group, so rather than focusing on the merits of each alternative, we may be influenced primarily by the position in which each appeared. This is why items displayed at either end of a store shelf sell more than those in the middle, and it’s also the reason an interviewer might unwittingly pay more attention to the first and last candidates in a job interview. Even in elections, the candidate whose name is on the top of the ballot is most likely to be chosen.

Iyengar also argues that interviewers often subconsciously make up their minds about interviewees based on their first few moments of interaction. In order to break the bias, instead of asking the generic questions like experience and educational background, interviewers should try obtaining samples of candidate’s work or asking how he would respond to difficult hypothetical situations, are dramatically better at assessing future success, with a nearly threefold advantage over traditional interviews.

HAPPINESS: Studies consistently showed that money can buy happiness, but only up to a certain point. Once one’s basic needs are met, the value of the additional material goods that come with greater wealth diminishes rapidly. There are stories proving that rising income doesn’t increase the reported happiness, this is true even for Americans who earn more than $5 million per year.

MARKETING: The name, the packaging  the attractiveness of the product we buy affects our choice making. Iyengar explains in this chapter that big fashion brands create a trend and they impose on all of us from different channels of media to increase their sales, taking advantage of “mere exposure effect”. The more we are exposed to a particular object or idea, the more we like it, provided we had positive and neutral feelings toward it at the outset. That is to say, the higher the exposure a product receives and the greater its perceived social acceptability, the more people will buy it, which in turn further increases its exposure and acceptability.

In blind taste tests people enjoyed all of the wines about equally, but when shown the prices, they preferred more expensive ones since they associate the price with quality.

Everything from the color of a product’s logo, or of the product itself, to the shape of its packaging can change people’s preferences in ways not captured in blind taste tests.

When the bottled water say “pure”, “fresh” “natural” on it, the implication is that any water not packaged in such a bottle is probably impure or unnatural, maybe dangerous. However, Iyengar argues that a quarter of bottled water brands are tap water and federal quality standards for tap water are more stringent and more strongly enforced than the standards of bottled water.

colasanta

In this book, there is an interesting experiment about Coke but I will not write it here. Iyengar talks about Coca-Cola’s marketing strategy quite extensively. Did you know Coca Cola Company holds a patent on the color of Santa Claus? So, Coke is Christmas. Also, free Cokes were distributed in a lot of big events that represented freedom. The collapse of Berlin Wall was one of them. So Coke also tastes like freedom. These positive attributes made the product more than just sugar and natural flavors.

WE ARE UNDER INFLUENCE: Our minds don’t organize stored information alphabetically or chronologically or by the Dewey decimal system but rather by its web of association to other information. Something that activates these automatic associations is known as “prime” and its effect on our mental states and subsequent choices is known priming (imagine a lemon in your mouth, what do you feel? Is your mouth watery?)

Buying  a product that a celebrity also wears allows us to feel a little more glamorous by association

The prime itself may be perceived only subconsciously as in subliminal messages.

In 2000 general elections, S. Christian Wheeler wanted to increase education tax from 5.0 to 5.6 in order to increase education spending. The researchers found that the 26 percent of people who were assigned to vote in the schools were more likely to support schools by saying yes than were those people who voted at other polling locations. They did a similar experiment online. Results showed that the people who were exposed to the school images were more willing to support raising taxes to fund education.

A 2007 study showed that about 70% of elections were won by the candidate whom people rated as more competent based solely on their appearance.

taller
Apparently, height matters: The taller you are the fatter your pay check 

Numerous studies also found out that height and salary positively correlated, especially for men, and highly attractive people of both sexes earn at least 12 percent more than their less attractive co-workers.

SOMETIMES  VARIETY IS NOT GOOD – DILEMMA: George Miller, Professor of Psychology at Princeton wrote the paper “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information” in 1956. For example, determining or distinguishing between the positions of points, the direction and curvature of lines, the hue and brightness of objects, the frequency and volume of tones, the location and strength of vibrations, and the intensity of smells and tastes. For each of the senses, most people can handle only five to nine items before they begin to consistently make errors in perception.

Iyengar talks about the interesting experiment that she performed at a supermarket. There were two booths that were set up for tasting different kinds of jam. The first booth had about 20 kinds and the second booth had only 6. Although the booth with the largest selection attracted 50% more customers to itself, only 3% bought a jar after tasting. They looked actually really puzzled. Whereas the 30% of the customers who visited smaller selection booth  bought a jar.

Some brands actually decreased their product variety down to almost 50% and their sales jumped 10%. Chances are that quite a few other companies could benefit from reducing the amount of choice they offer to the customers. Studies show that when people are given a moderate number of options (4-6) rather than a large number (20-30) they are more likely to make a choice, are more confident in their decisions, and are happier with what they choose.

BUT ALSO, we need to still have variety, because we would suffer from being limited to any single item, no matter how much we enjoy it. We would eventually become sick and tired of it, a process known as satiation. Therefore, we need varieties. A study by the USDA found that as the total amount and variety of food in the US increased in the recent decades, average food consumption rose at even faster rate.

Finally, study shows that people can learn to choose from more options, but they are less likely to drown if they start off in the shallows and then slowly move toward the deep, all the while building their skills and nerve.

20101218_xlp006
When we have 7±2 choices, we get confused! 

 

WHEN CHOOSING COMES WITH THE PRICE: Iyengar leaves the most touching study to the last. Think about the same situation that applies to two families: You just had had a baby and the doctors explained that your baby was in a critical condition and even after weeks, there is no improvement. They say: “Her critical condition implies severe neurological impairments that would confine her to bed, unable to speak, walk, or interact with others. After much deliberation, they have decided that it’s in your baby’s best interest that they withdraw treatment – by turning off the ventilation machine – and let her die.” Here, doctors make the decision and they don’t give any possible courses of action or their prospective consequences.

The second time, in the same situation, they say this “There are two possible courses of action: Continue to the treatment, or withdraw the treatment by turning off the ventilation machine. They also explain  the consequences of each action. If the treatment is withdrawn, your baby will die. If the treatment is continued, there is about a %40 chance that she will die and about %60 chance that she will survive with severe neurological impairments that would confine her to bed, unable to speak, walk or interact with others. Because of her critical situation, the doctors have decided it’s in her best interest that they withdraw treatment and let her die” Here, hearing the possible courses of action and their possible consequences probably made it easier to accept their decision, both increasing your confidence that it was the right one and reducing the emotional stress associated with it.

In the last example, they tell you “There are two possible courses of action: Continue to the treatment, or withdraw the treatment by turning off the ventilation machine. They also explain  the consequences of each action. If the treatment is withdrawn, your baby will die. If the treatment is continued, there is about a %40 chance that she will die and about %60 chance that she will survive with severe neurological impairments that would confine her to bed, unable to speak, walk or interact with others. It is going to be your decision to continue the treatment or let her die.” Here, the choice lays in your hands. You are responsible for the consequences.

In France, the second example takes place whereas in America, the last example is the case for the same situation. With the study done on parents who had to go through these painful times, the results have shown that American families suffered from personal guilt, doubt and resentment much more than French families who blamed neither themselves nor doctors. Because they did not make the choice, doctors did.

As a final word, I highly recommend this great book. Iyengar shares more interesting studies and she expresses her own opinions and speaks with expertise. This book needs to be on your bookshelf. Forever.

Posted in books

Eating the Sun By Ella Frances Sanders

My 7-hour flight from Boston to San Francisco turned out to be not a terrible one after all, thanks to this book. With its maximum two-page-long chapters and cute drawings, this book is a little bundle of joy. If you are interested in learning little secrets of everything about life: from biology to psychology, from astronomy to chemistry, it is wrapped in a 149-pages long hard cover book for you!

The illustrations are a really nice touch in this book. The author did all those illustrations herself!

Since the chapters are short, it is easy to leave it and come back to it later. There are more than 50 chapters in it!That’s why I won’t go into too much detail, but I will talk about some sections so that you can have an idea about this lovely book.

To be honest, I had already known 75% of the facts included in the book: It is just because I’m interested in science and I read about it a lot. But the 25% that I gained after reading this was still very important and very interesting.

The writer’s style is very sincere and she simplifies the complex topics as much as she can. Here are what I selected for you from the chapters:

Chapter: I AM MADE FROM CARBON

“… Your body is composed of the products of such cosmic events, those remnants of burning giants (dead stars). Depending on where you look, what you touch, you are changing all the time. The carbon inside you, accounting for about 18 percent of your being, could have existed in any number of creatures or natural disasters before finding you. “

Chapter: PLANTS BEHAVE BETTER

“… Trees are able to distinguish their own roots from those of other species, and even those of their relatives. They share food and help to nourish their competitors when they are sick or struggling (in winter an aspen will likely not do as well as a conifer, so conifer lends a hand) and all this apparently for no other reason than that living becomes much easier when you are helping others, rather than simply ensuring your own survival. In fact, trees’ roots can sometimes end up so connected that two often will die at the same time.”

When one tree is attacked by insects, it distributes pheromonal chemicals through the fungi beneath the soil to warn nearby trees of a possible attack so the other trees can prepare by changing the chemical makeup of their leaves. The fungal networks also strengthen the immune systems of the trees. So not only do different species of trees help each other out in the forest, but fungi and even other types of plants join the underground network and communicate together to support the health of the entire ecosystem. There is documented proof that when a tree is dying, it releases its resources into the root networks so that its neighbors can benefit from the nourishment that it will no longer need—it is making the ultimate sacrifice. (www.upliftconnect.com)

Chapter: I’LL BE WHERE THE BLUE IS

“… A phenomenon known as “Rayleigh scattering” is responsible for both the blue of the North American Bird Cyanocitta Cristata (Blue Jay) and that of the sky. In the case of the jay, its feathers contain melanin and would appear black if it weren’t for tiny air sacs in the feathers that scatter light, and so to our eyes the bird seems rendered in endless variations of blue. And when we gaze skywards, we are observing sunlight entering Earth’s atmosphere and colliding with particles in the air – compared to the other colors contained within light, blue has a shorter, smaller wavelength, and is therefore scattered more, resulting in Blue skies. “

Image result for blue jay and sky
Both Blue Jay and the Sky in perfect blue © Jeffrey DeCristofaro (Smithsonian Migrotary Bird Center Website)

Chapter: CLOUDS TO BREAK YOUR HEART

“… Clouds are formed by water vapor or ice crystals hugging determinedly onto the microscopic particles in the atmosphere known as “condensation nuclei” – things like smoke and dust and salt (aerosol)- and they do so because the air is simply too saturated to hold onto all the water anymore. Put millions upon millions of these together and you have a cloud perhaps weighing, although hard to believe, the equivalent of one hundred large elephants.”

This animation shows how a cloud is formed on the particle-level. Water droplets and black soot carbon aerosols mix in the air. Water droplets cling to aerosol particles, creating a larger water droplet. The droplet becomes very large and ‘pops’ into smaller water droplets, each with an aerosol particle inside, thus creating a cloud. (Official NASA Website: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/10387 )

Chapter: DOES ANYBODY ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT TIME IS

“… Culturally, the organization of time can be quite different, and this directly affects our experience of it. In some languages, the past is referred to as behind, and the future is ahead, but in others, the past is ahead and the future behind, perhaps because the past can be seen, and in order to observe something, it needs to be in front of you, not behind. While some languages refer to time as a distance travelled, others refer to it as a growing volume – a long day, full day. In English we think of it in linear terms, from left to right, but Chinese speakers think of time in terms of over and under, and in Greek time can be large, small. So easily do we mistake a word for the thing or phenomenon it speaks of, that it represents.”

** Blogger comment here: Speaking of languages and their effects on our time perception, I remembered this interesting talk about how languages can affect our money saving skills. Have a look at it if you have time. I wonder what you will think about it!**

Chapter: YOU ARE MOSTLY BACTERIA

“… Perhaps the greatest achievement of bacteria is the gut, part of an organ system that contains the largest number of bacterial species found anywhere in the human body – an incredibly complex community of microorganisms, known as gastrointestinal microbiota, or gut flora. The gut and the brain are connected by an extensive network of neurons, chemicals, and hormones, collectively called the “enteric nervous system,” which stays in touch with the central nervous system (linking the brain and the spinal cord) but also can act independently of it.

It seems that the bacteria in yor gut are capable of wielding power over more than just your breakfast – they can influence your perception of the world, your behavior. Most of the neurons involved in brain-gut discussion are carrying information to the brain, not receiving it, and it’s strange and wonderful to think that your gut might have more of an effect on both your long- and short-term mood than anything else.

Below: Pretty looking gut bacterias! Intestinal villi. Small finger-like projections that extend into the lumen of the small intestine. Gut bacteria, flora, microbiome. 3d illustration.

There are many more interesting chapters in this book. For a fun read and many moments of enlightenment, I highly recommend ‘Eating the Sun’. Especially great for commutes, beach vacations and long trips!

-Hoscakalin

Ece

Posted in Turkey

Remembering 20 Years Ago Today: “Can anybody hear me?!”

When I woke up in the middle of the night on August 17, 1999, in our 3-bedroom apartment in Ankara, Turkey, I realized somebody was knocking on the door like crazy. I walked through the living room and saw my mom looking outside the window to understand what was going on. I opened the door to see our older neighbor couple holding burning candles in their hands. They were terrified: “There has been an earthquake! Are you OK? It’s not safe here, you need to get out!” I woke my then 9-year old brother up. The power was out. We grabbed our radio and our shoes and we left our apartment in less than 3 minutes. The whole neigborhood was outside. I remember a woman had just a robe on. Another man was barefoot. There were kids crying, they were all so confused and scared. It was only 3:10 AM in the morning. The only light in our pitch dark street were the flashlights and cigarettes that our neighbors lid to relieve their stress. The radio said the epicenter of the earthquake was Izmit, which was at least 200 miles away. I thought to myself: “How come we felt it so strongly from this far away?” Then the news continued and I got my answer: It was 7.4 of magnitude and it lasted 45 seconds…

I don’t know if you ever experienced an earthquake. If you did, you probably know that even 10 seconds feel like a life time during the shaking and rumbling. I thought to myself: “A 45-second-long earthquake must have destroyed a lot of homes with people in them. The earthquake had happened at 3:01 AM, the radio said, when everyone was at home, sleeping. Oh, God! This is bad!”

The deadliest earthquake in Turkish history took place in Erzincan, in 1939. The 7.9 magnitude earthquake started shaking the ground at 2:00 AM and it lasted 52 seconds. The calendars marked December 27, so the weather was extremely cold, temperature varying from 23 to 27 F degrees. This lead more than 32,000 dead and more than 100,000 injured, several hundred thousands homeless.

I thought to myself, it could be as bad as Erzincan one… We all stayed outside until the sunrise. Then some of us got inside to get some sleep. The after shocks were scary but we knew that they wouldn’t be damaging. The most difficult one was over and thankfully, no one had a single crack in their walls, It was just ‘scary’ for Ankara. But the next day we were going to learn from the news that Izmit was not as lucky as we were: it was ‘devastating’.

Although I’m not a structural geologist, I’m still a geological engineer and I know a lot about earthquakes. The North Anatolian Fault is an active right-lateral strike-slip fault (transform fault) in northern Anatolia between the Eurasian Plate and the Anatolian Plate. As you can see below, Turkey is under a lot of pressure from the Eurasian plate pressing on one side and the Arabian plate from the other. Due to these constant continental movements, Turkey is a very tectonically active country.

Picture
  <http://www.air-worldwide.com/Publications/AIR-Currents/2010/Earthquakes-in-Europe–The-Case-for-Kinematic-Modeling/> “Earthquakes in Europe: The case for kinematic Modelling.” Dr. Shentu. Bingming, June 23rd 2011. January 13th 2014.
The Red dots showing where the Izmit Earthquake happened and where my home was.

Later we were going to learn that Izmit Earthquake was the 12th high magnitude earthquake (above 6.5) recorded on the North Anatolian Fault and the second deadliest one after Erzincan:

Wikipedia

If you are not familiar with the earthquake magnitudes, you can check out the below chart. There is a myth that there could be mega quakes which can go up to 12, USGS debunks this by stating the facts:

“Earthquakes of magnitude 10 or larger cannot happen. The magnitude of an earthquake is related to the length of the fault on which it occurs. That is, the longer the fault, the larger the earthquake. A fault is a break in the rocks that make up the Earth’s crust, along which rocks on either side have moved past each other. No fault long enough to generate a magnitude 10 earthquake is known to exist, and if it did, it would extend around most of the planet.

The largest earthquake ever recorded was a magnitude 9.5 on May 22, 1960 in Chile on a fault that is almost 1,000 miles long…a “megaquake” in its own right.” (USGS Website: click here for the link )

Image result for earthquake magnitudes
Illustration by Ernest Fiestan

Turkey was not prepared for this at all. Although the international help arrived the next day and all the civil people volunteered to dig up the ruins to save people, there were A LOT of ruins and not enough man power. An AKUT (non profit rescue organization) member reported when their team of 12 first arrived at the scene, a neighborhood in Golcuk to be exact, there were 6 buildings collapsed and in each one of them, there were expected to be at least 40 people living. He said: “There were screams, groans, cries under every ruin, some of them weak, some of them strong. I could hear them yelling “Can anybody hear me?!” We were just 12 people, though. We were frozen. How would you choose who you will save and who you will have to let die?”

An Akut member Nasuh Mahruki says: “Sometimes their arms or legs were trapped under the rubble. Maybe amputating might have been a solution but we didn’t have the medical support we needed. Those were tough decisions to make.”

When the excavators and loaders arrived in the affected neighborhoods, it was already 4 days after the disaster. The voices were already silent at this moment. It was hot, like 110 F degree hot, and the smell of death was heavy in the air.

Because of the large number of injured victims, the hospitals had to use the parking lots. There weren’t enough blood ot bandages. People were in line to donate their blood.

Deads weren’t buried right away since they needed to be identified first. As a quick solution, they were kept on the ice skating rings nearby.

There have been thousands of deaths. But luckily there were also hundreds who were rescued. All the people you see in the photos below were rescued from this heart wrenching disaster, alive.

The Poster Child of 1999 Earthquakes, Omur Kinay had lost her mother in the earthquake, lying next to her. She was rescued by cutting her hair that was trapped under the concrete blocks. She cannot walk anymore but she didn’t give up on her life. She finished her masters and now she is working towards her PhD degree in one of the big universities. She is an inspiration for everyone.

One of the survivors, Erkan Isik, became famous since he had squeezed Bill Clinton’s nose during his visit to the earthquake site. That cute moment made everyone forget about the terror they had been living for days, even for a few seconds. Now he is 20, and he is volunteering in AKUT rescue organization:

Image result for erkan isik 2019
Erkan Isik, one of the survivors had touched Clinton’s nose and this had created at least a moment of smile on everyone’s faces in 1999.

There were many coasts went under water after the earthquake: Istanbul was one of them. This created strange scenes like these:

The survivors were happy to be alive but their struggle had just started. They had lost everything: their homes, their valuables, some of them had lost their businesses. There were many camps around the city with thousands of tents. One of the biggest problems they were facing was an epidemic; Many dead bodies were still buried under the wreckage and each time it rained, there was a pollution risk of the underground water.

Besides homes, there were other damages in the city structure as well such as mosques, rail ways and gas stations. I would like to show you something here so that you could understand how the North Anatolian Fault, a strike slip fault, works. I will try to explain it as simply as possible, I promise.

Think about our earth with cracks everywhere, like an egg shell. Along those cracks, the pieces of the shell can move in different ways: up or down OR left or right. These types of movements along the cracks form different kinds of faults. For the strike slip ones (Remember, the North Anatolian Fault one is a strike slip one), the movement is horizontal as it is shown in the rectangle with red arrows:

Now, to give you a real life example, I will show you two photos below that are from the 1999 earthquake showing where exactly the fault line (the egg shell crack line) passes:

You can easily see the offset the fault created
You can easily see the offset the fault created The yellow arrows show the corners that used to be next to each other before. Now they are more than 10 feet apart.

What is Awaiting

The scientists confidently say that the next earthquake will probably happen in Marmara Sea because there has been a westward progression in the big magnitude earthquakes on the North Anatolian Fault line so far. The part that lies under Marmara Sea hasn’t had a big tectonic movement yet. The scientists are expecting an above 7 earthquake here someday until 2029. Because the average time that the stress is accumulated and finally released on a big active fault line like this is maximum 30 years.

Image result for where is the istanbul earthquake going to be

Without the recent undocumented Syrian immigration, and other undocumented residents counted, there are currently around 15,000,000 people living in Istanbul: This number is 10 times bigger than the population of Izmit. If we are not prepared, this earthquake will have devastating results: It is going to be a catastrophe. Istanbul is an old city with a lot of old buildings, historical sights and monuments. It has two international airports, three big bridges and an underground metro which goes through Marmara Sea, called Marmaray:

While remembering the pain the 1999 earthquake inflicted on Turkish people, I also wanted to emphasize the fact that we need to realize the severity of the potential danger that Istanbul faces right now. There are many ways to fix this and the below documentary mentions these methods at the very end.

I highly recommend you to watch this documentary if you are interested and want to hear more about what happened on August 17, 1999. The two things that break my heart even more after watching this: Aykut Barka, the geoscientist you will meet at the end of the video, died in a car accident 2 years after this documentary was shot, leaving a wife and two children behind. Also, a hero, co-founder of AKUT organization, Iskender Igdir, who saved tens of people’s lives during the 1999 earthquakes, lost his life just months after the earthquake while he was climbing to Mount Ararat.

May the peace with you, the wonderful men.

The Documentary of 1999 Izmit Earthquake

On November 12, 1999, very close to the same area, this time Duzce was shaken by another big earthquake: 7.2 magnitude, at 6:57 PM causing 845–894 dead; 4,948 injured; 55,000 displaced. The cost of the damage to the North west of Turkey was now about 10 billion USD.

I never forget. I hope our government does the same.

Hoscakalin!

-Ece

Posted in Personal Interest

Let’s Talk About Beer

A summer night, hot and humid… You are together with friends, catching up, laughing and talking non-stop. Then the sip of that ice cold beer you just took touches your lips then fills your mouth with joy. As it travels down to your stomach, you don’t feel the disturbing heat anymore. The ice cold beer had just made your joyful night even more perfect.

This is how I see beer; such a great drink when it is consumed in the just right amount at the right time with the right people. Among all those types of beer out there: stouts, porters, pilsners, lagers, sour ales, pale ales, red ales, brown ales; my absolute favorites are India and American Pale Ales. This blog post is dedicated to best IPAs I have tried so far. All the tastings I did was just for you all, so that you would know what to try next time when you order an IPA. Mind you though, the USA is an IPA land, there are so many breweries that I haven’t tried yet. But I tried many through the years and finally I can share with you what I experienced.

THE IPAs THAT I LOVED

9. Lord Hobo Boom Sauce ( Massachusetts )

Let’s start from Number 9. I’m not big fan of double IPAs although I enjoy grapefruity ones once in a while. Boom Sauce is a good transition between double IPA and IPA. It is very hoppy but not too bitter. Leaves a nice non-metallic taste in the end. Slight notes of citrusy sweetness is present in the second wave after you take a sip. Golden, slightly hazy.

Alcohol: ABV: 7.80%  IBU (bitterness scale 1-120): 78

8. Brooklyn Defender IPA (New York)

This hoppy, golden IPA has strong notes of tropical fruit, well-adjusted hop bitterness, and an incredibly dry finish. This would be perfect with barbecue, vegetables and spicy food.

Alcohol by Volume: 5.5% IBU: 59

7. Revolution Anti Hero IPA (Illinois)

This iconic ale features a blend of four hop varieties which creates a crisp bitterness and imparts massive floral and citrus aromas. So, it is flavorful but also beware of the bitterness!

6. Harpoon IPA ( Massachusetts & Vermont)

Harpoon has a bitter hoppy start but it is in overall smooth to drink. It is medium bodied, the bitterness hangs for a while. The only thing I didn’t like about Harpoon is that it has low carbonation. Sweet citrus, resin, syrup & caramel aroma.

ABV: 5.9% IBU:42

5. Night Shift Brewing – Santilli IPA ( Massachusetts )

Really hoppy, flavorful beer on the bitter side. Two full layers of hoppiness quickly fades. It is very similar to Harpoon but I would say this one is more flavorful. It could be paired with fries, pizza or sharp cheeses! Bronze Medal Winner in the 2016 World Beer Cup American IPA category.

ABV: 6.00%  IBU: No IBU

4. Lagunitas IPA (California)

Lagunitas IPA has a strong full start and smooth finish. It leaves a bitter taste but it doesn’t last more than 4 seconds.  This IPA is full of flavor with notes of spice, roasted malts, caramel, and citrus fruit. Perfect for drinking out with friends.

ABV: 6.20%  IBU: 45.6

3. Sierra Nevada – Hazy Little Thing IPA (California)

This super mild IPA is easy to drink, very citrusy, still hoppy, no bitterness at all, closer to a wheat beer. Its after taste is sweet tones of tropical fruit aroma like mango and overripe grapefruit. The after taste dissolves quickly. The color is quite hazy.

6.7 percent ABV  IBU:35

2. Wormtown Be Hoppy ( Massachusetts )

This really hoppy and citrusy beer doesn’t resemble in taste to Harpoon or Santilli. Three notes takes place in the order of: sweet, bitter, then citrusy sweet. Reddish-gold hazy unfiltered brew. Pungent aroma of citrus, floral spice, and grapefruit. A real IPA taste without bitterness ruining it.

ABV: 6.5% IBU: 70

1. Bell’s Brewery-Two Hearted Ale (Michigan)

Here comes my favorite! this IPA is bursting with hop aromas ranging from pine to grapefruit from massive hop additions. Great with any occasion, perfect when paired with steak or kebabs. It has a hoppy start but fills your mouth with a full taste. Bitter finish doesn’t last long. With its high quality taste, surprisingly it is on the cheaper side.

ABV: 7.0% IBU: 55

THE ONES THAT I ABSOLUTELY DIDN’T LIKE

Brooklyn Brewery – The Stone Wall Inn IPA (New York)

Sour, low alcohol, more lager tasting than IPA. It is too citrusy and sour for me, giving some metallic sweet under tones. bright gold with a fizzy white head. Tastes like biscuit malt, lime, pine hops, very smooth. Light body and low carbonation. Smells like biscuit malt, lime, and pine hops.

ABV: 4.8% IBU: –

Founders All Day IPA (Michigan)

I know this beer has a lot of fans, and I don’t want to offend anybody. It is just ‘meh’ for me. It has this sweat-like smell that I can’t overlook. It has mild bitterness, and low carbonation. Its metallic plus cirtusy taste is not something I look forward to.

ABV: 4.7% IBU:42

Stone Brewery – The Stone IPA (California)

Don’t get fooled by my smiling face in the photo, this beer has a terrible after taste. Deep golden- orange beer. Taste starts sweet malty becoming bitter grapefruit, pine at the back of tongue and lingering there on the swallow. 
Medium body with nice carbonation and persistent bitterness – super hoppy IPA.

ABV: 6.9% IBU:77

Everyone has their own taste for sure, but after this beer tasting adventure I realized I like not too bitter (IBU 45-65), high alcohol,high carbonation, flavorful and smooth IPAs.

What is your favorite?

-Ece

Posted in Turkey

Neden Ekrem Imamoglu Kazandi?

Ulke demokrasiye, secimlere olan inancini kaybetmis. Lakin, yine oy vermeye gitmis. Ne guzel de yapmis. Bugun gosterdi ki Turk halkinin cebinden alinan milyonlarca belki de milyarlarca lira harcanarak yeniden yapilan Istanbul yerel secimleri halktan uc onemli mesaj vermistir:

  1. Haksizligi sevmem. Hakedene hakettigini veririm.
  2. Demokrasi’yi silmeye hazir degilim.
  3. Yasli, milleti bolmeye yonelik, tek adamli sisteminden yoruldum. Daha genc, dinamik ve birlestirici bir lider istiyorum.

Istanbul secimleri disaridan sadece yerel bir secim gibi gorunebilir ama dogru degildir bu. Toplamda sadece %14’u Istanbul kutugune kayitlidir Istanbul nufusunun ( https://t24.com.tr/haber/istanbulda-kac-istanbullu-yasiyor,251188 ) geri kalani gocebedir. Anadolu’nun her bir yerinden is bulma, ailesi icin daha iyi bir hayat kurma, kendisi icin daha iyi bir egitim olanagi olusturma amaciyla gelmis kesimdir. Sendir bendir, Istanbul. Aslen Ankara’li olmama ragmen sevdiklerimin cogunu icine almistir bu sehir. Beni de Amerika’ya tasinmadan once 4 yil konuk etmistir en guzel semtlerinde. Yani demem o ki, Istanbul secimleri Turkiye’nin her kesiminden insanini yansitir. Zamaninda tarlasini, bagini bahcesini, koyunu, dernegini, ana ocagini birakip bin bir turlu hayalle gelen, cogu esnaf, Anadolu insanidir.

Binali Yildirim’in bu secimi kaybetmesi ne ‘ogretmen’ yazamamasindan, ne de bire bir muzakerede basarisiz olmasindan ne de detone sarki soylemesinden kaynaklandi. Bu secim sonucu Yildirim’in basarisizligi degil, Imamoglu’nin basarisidir. “Her sey cok guzel olacak” deyip, uzun zamandir ozledigimiz bir iyimserlik ve birlestiricilikle her kesimden, her inanctan insani elele tutusturup demokrasiye dogru son hiz yurumemizi sagladi. Yillardir ayristirila ayristirila bitirilemeyen millet, bugun yan yana, omuz omuza kutlama yapti. Ilk defa Gezi olaylarinda kendini gosteren gonullerde birlik ve beraberlik filizi bu secimlerde tomurcuklandi.

Artik Istanbul’un parasindan faydalanamayacak olan AK Parti, bakalim nasil ve nerelerden kaynak bulacak? Mansur Yavas’in bir bir ortaya doktugu yolsuzluklarin bakalim Istanbul ayagi nasil olacak? Yoksa, bu secimlere de golge dusurecekler mi? Memleketce paranoyak olduk sayelerinde.

Imamoglu’nun liderlik vasfi cok on planda. Yas ortalamasi 70 olan siyasetciler tarafindan yonetilmekten bikmis bir millet onun genc, dinamik, saygili ve sevgi dolu halini sevdi. Gozluguyle zeki ve guvenilir, sicak gulusuyle candan, hafif gobegiyle de baban gibi, amcan gibi, senden benden bir insan oldugunu hissettirdi bize. Bir gun yan odada televizyon acikken ses tonunu Erdogan’a cok benzettim, bu bile AK Parti tarafinda sempati yaratmis olabilir. En azindan durup dinlemeleri icin bir neden olmus olmasi mumkun. ‘Cibanin basini buyumeden ezelim’ (biraz mide kaldiran bir deyim ama cuk oturdu, kusura bakmayin) mantigiyla, bu kendini herkese sevdiren genc lideri, kendilerince sessizce gommeye karar verdiler. Belki ilk secimde mazbatayi verselerdi, Ekrem Imamoglu ismi bu kadar buyumeyecekti. Ama secimlerin iptali, haksizliga alerjisi olan Turk halkini kizdirdi. Cumhur ittifaki taraflarinda bile rahatsiz olanlar, ayri dusenler oldu. Millet Ekrem Imamoglu’na daha cok ilgi gostermeye, onu daha cok takip etmeye basladi. Imamoglu’nun sosyal medyayi %100 etkili kullanisi, yandas medyanin karalama kampanyalarini geri plana itti. Her zaman, her elestiriye guzel ama nazik bir cevabi vardi ve bunu aninda yapti. Onun bu spontene rahatligi, halkta guven algisi yaratti.

CHP, Muharrem Ince’yle bir atilim yapti. Ince iyi konustu, guzel konustu, guzel stratejileri vardi ve AK Partiyi elestirdigi yonler tam nokta atisiydi. Ama Ekrem Imamoglu gibi halka inmedi: dertlerini dinlemedi, caylarini icmedi, sofralarina oturmadi, yuz yuze elestirileri yanitlayip, cocuklarin ellerinden tutup ‘Her sey cok guzel olacak’ demedi. Ilimli, dostane bir politikadan cok hircin ve kizgin bir politika izledi. Gerci belki de o donem onu gerektiriyordu. Evet, her haksizligi gumbur gumbur televizyonlarda acikladikca, icimizin yaglari eridi, erimedi degil ama bu hircin tavri ister istemez tedirginlik yaratti. Kaybettiginde bile hircin hali onu anlik ve yanlis kararlar vermesine yol acti (Bknz: “Adam kazandi”)Simdi, kabul etmek gerek: Muharrem Ince, Kilicdaroglu’nun yerlerde surukledigi CHP’yi ayaga kaldirmis, sahlandirmis, tekrardan guvenilebilir, sevilinebilir, ortak olunulabilir kilmistir. Bugun diger partilerle omuz omuza verilebiliyorsa, insanlar her turlu katakulliye ragmen hala secim sistemine guvenip gidip oyunu kullaniyorsa, bunda Muharrem Ince’nin payi buyuktur.

Dikkatinizi cekerim: ne hakkiyla kazandigi belediye baskanligi elinden alindiginda, ne hakkinda yalan haberler cikarildiginda, ne de Yildirim’la birebir tartismasinda her sozu kesildiginde cizgisinden odun vermedi Imamoglu: Saygili, sakin tavrini korudu ve bu yapici hali, herkesten ovgu aldi. Sevgisini kazanamadigi secmenin bile en azindan saygisini topladi. Secim gezilerinde Cumhur Ittifakina hakaret eden yuhalayan gruplari tum nazikligiyle susturdu. Kisacasi bize dogru siyaset nasil yapilir onu gostermis oldu.

Bugunki kutlamalardan

Ne diyorduk? Hah… Guzel Insan Ekrem Imamoglu… Istanbul Buyuk Belediye Baskani oldun bugun. Umuyorum ki siyasetin cirkin eli o kollarini heyecanla kivirdigin beyaz gomleginde, temiz yureginde kirli izler birakmaz, seni de curutup, bozup, digerlerine dondurmez. Biz seni sevdik. Istanbul’a kendini sevdirmek zordur, nazli bir hatun gibidir o sehir. Ama ikna oldu mu da seni alip bas taci yapar. Biz, sadece Istanbul olarak da degil be yav, tum Turkiye olarak sevdik. Sen bir Belediye Baskanligindan cok daha yuksek mertebelere gelebilirsin, isigin var. Diliyoruz seni rahat birakirlar ve saglikli uzun bir omrun olur da seni TURKIYE CUMHURIYETI DEVLETI’nin basinda goruruz belki, ne dersin?

Loading: Her sey cok guzel olacak – Part 2! 🙂

-Hoscakalin

Ece

Posted in Personal Interest

The Case Against Adnan Syed

I have just finished the docu-series “The Case Against Adnan Syed” on HBO. If you are a loyal reader of my blog, you will remember my quite long and detailed post about Hae Min Lee murder in 1999. I’m sure it was too long for some of you to read until the end but this show proved a lot of points of my theory to be true. There are so many new things that I learned in this show. If you want to read my post about this murder first, just click here.

1. Jay Confessed That He Lied on Stand to His Ex-wife, on the Phone

This is actually an awkwardly uncomfortable scene in which Jay’s ex-wife just picks up the phone and asks him “We have a child together. What they are telling about you, are those true?”

And Jay basically says that none of them were true and he just wanted to stay out of jail because the police had been onto him. Apparently they told him if he lied on stand and support their theory, he would be out of trouble. As long as possible. I don’t know how credible the audience will find this but for me it looked natural.

Jay’s Wife Talking to Him on the Stairs in Episode 3 of The Case Against Adnan Syed Documentary on HBO

2. Diamond Shapes on Hae’s Shoulders are Explained

If you read my previous post about Hae, you will see towards the end of my blog, I discussed the weird diamond-shaped marks on her shoulders. These were pressure marks that shaped during the lividity: Livor mortis or lividity is the gravitational pooling of blood in the dependent parts of the body, both externally in the skin capillaries and venules but also in the internal organs. Its onset is variable but it is usually most evident about 2 hours after death, although it is stated to occur as soon as 15 minutes after death (Clark et al., 1997).  Livor Mortis starts to develop 2-4 hours after death, becomes non-fixed or blanchable up to 8-12 hours after death and fixed or non-blanchable after 8-12 hours from the time of death (Chemistry for Liberal Studies – Forensic Academy / Dr. Stephanie R. Dillon)

In the new documentary, the private investigators on this case had a possible object which caused this on Hae’s body:

Diamond Shaped Marks on Hae’s shoulders after lividity settles – The Case Against Adnan Syed Documentary on HBO

It is called ‘concrete shoe’ which used in grinding concrete. My theory in my previous post is much weaker in comparison to this one. Whoever found this out, good job!

I want to combine this new finding with my old theory in my previous post. When I did the tire print analysis, I figured the tire prints in the crime scene belonged to a large pick up or a jeep; a big car. I think the killer is doing construction/concrete jobs on the side. After he killed Hae, he put her in his trunk or in the back of his truck until the ice and snow melted so that he could go and bury her in Leakin Park. The fact that her shoes and other belongings are missing shows that she wasn’t killed in the park, at her burial site.

3. They Asked Adnan to Accept the Guilty Plea and Serve 4 More Years Then Get Out. Adnan Said “No” Because He Said He Was Not Guilty.

This part breaks my heart because when he denied this offer it was 2018 and in 2019, he was denied a new trial. His trust in justice system was once more had failed him. Think about it: If you were guilty, wouldn’t you take this deal? He had been already in prison for 20 years. Four more years would have been nothing. He simply just didn’t want to admit a crime that he did not commit. And yet his request for a new trial was denied.

4. Don and Mr. S are the Other Possible Suspects

Mr. S found Hae’s body in the woods. To begin with, He walked more than 127 feet to urinate, which is super odd to me. Then he realized a body is buried in the ground. Can you see a body in this photo below? Barely visible. Let’s say his story is true. He drives a big car like my tire theory suggested, he is in concrete business. Also, he has a drinking problem (he was drinking on his way to work, that’s why he needed to pee he said) and there was an empty bottle next to Hae’s body, which was never tested. He was a streaker, exposing his nude body to people in the streets. It is possible that streaking, in psychological terms, exhibitionism, can turn into dangerous sexual offense. Depending on the victim’s reaction to the indecent exposure, the streaker might get violent, for example, if the victim laughs or makes fun of him. Lastly, it is not uncommon that the murderers inject themselves into investigations either by helping them as a witness or a search help or they interview with the media about the victim. There are many examples of this. Besides, at that time, he lived so close to Woodlawn High School. All these circumstantial evidence make him a strong suspect.

Hae’s buried body as Mr. S (Alonzo Sellers) found her. – The Case Against Adnan Syed Documentary on HBO y
Alonzo Sellers (AKA Mr.S) – The Case Against Adnan Syed Documentary on HBO
Alonzo Sellers lived really close to Woodlawn High School – The Case Against Adnan Syed Documentary on HBO

The other suspect Don actually was the person Hae was going to see that day after she picked up her cousin. But the investigators and Undisclosed podcast found out that him working on a Wednesday at where he said was working at was out of the ordinary. His mom was his manager at that time and it looked like the shift card might have been tempered with if the password of the employee was also known by his mother. It is very possible that his mother might have created a phantom time card for that day, Also, one of his colleagues at Landcrafters store shares an important piece of information in this docu-series in the last episode: “I remember we were on a smoke break and Don said that his girlfriend was missing. And I remember his arms were covered with scratches and bandages.”

Is it possible that those were the scratches that Hae gave him while she was trying to defend herself? I guess we will never know.

Don then and now.

I just can’t think of a motive when it comes to Don. I would just leave it there.

My Theory Still Stands

I still stand behind my theory about Roy Sharonnie Davis III being the major suspect in this case. Although they ran the finger prints from Hae’s car in the system and it didn’t bring any results, they still did not run all the DNA collected from the scene. I would love to hear the results of that.

Why do I think that it could be him?

  1. Both victims are about the same age. Hae was 17 (18 some records) and Jada was 18 (19 some records) when they died.
  2. They were both fully clothed when they were found. BUT Hae was missing shoes and Jada was missing an underwear. (Also, interestingly, the autopsy report doesn’t include Hae’s underwear, but the general evidence inventory does (in some other place you can see it as noted ‘Beige panties and it was tested negative for semen results’).
panties
This is from the evidence inventory, apparently panties are included in the other clothing items.
autopsy
This is from the autopsy report of Hae. Very detailed description doesn’t include ‘panties’.
laboratory report
underwear

They were both found by a stream, partially concealed. Jada’s head and part of her frontal torso was submerged in water and most importantly, her blue jean jacket was left on her back (please see the  article below). Hae was partially covered in dirt and leaves. 

warm

They were both missing their wallets. Hae also didn’t have her keys and pager on her. They both had a trauma to the head. Hae had on the right side (two blunt force trauma, one of them towards the back) and Jada had it on the left. They were both strangled. They both were found with an empty bottle of alcohol near them. I wonder if the bottle in Jada’s case was a Brandy bottle like in Hae’s crime scene. That would be a very compelling coincidence.

alcohol
Evidence found near Jada Lambert
bottle
Evidence found near Hae Min Lee

8. They were both transported to the burial site by a vehicle. Thinking that Jada didn’t have her car with her, she must have been transported there with Davis’ car.

9. The autopsy report for both show abrasions which indicate ‘dragging of the body’. The abrasions were on Hae’s back whereas they were on Jada’s chest, abdomen and upper thighs.

10. Difference between two cases is that in Jada’s anal and vaginal swabs, there were some spermotozoa with and without tail. Since she was found just a day after her murder, spermotozoa hadn’t degenerated yet. However, this was impossible to trace on Hae’s swabs after weeks past. This could be why all the tests came back negative.

So, Roy Davis’ MO (The particular way of the killer is doing things) fits to the killer of Hae Min Lee’s MO.

There are many other interesting new findings are mentioned in ‘The Case Against Adnan Syed’ Docu-series. The car evidence was one of them. The area where Hae’s car was found was in such a location that the residents of the area say there is no way they wouldn’t recognize and report an abandoned car for 45 days. Also the grass below Hae’s car looked too fresh to be shadowed by the car for 45 days. Please watch the docuseries for more of that.

Some people critisize the show by saying that it is biased. Well, I think everyone is so ready to blame Adnan because he is already convicted. We trust in our justice system but there are many big holes in there. I feel like there are too many wrongful convictions out there and if a defensive documentary can bring this to the attention of the public, I don’t have a problem with that. Honestly, watching a documentary on the defense side doesn’t affect my opinion at all if I’m convinced what I believe is right. People need to know if there were any direct evidence that linked Adnan to the case or if there were enough evidence to raise the ‘reasonable doubt’ among the jury. Adnan didn’t get a fair trial and this investigation stinks. Can you disagree with that?

-Hoscakalin,

Ece

Posted in Personal Interest

Most Memorable Scenes of Game of Thrones

One of the most successful series of all times… Most love it, some never watched it. As a GOT fan myself, I like the acting, the medieval feeling of the series, the costumes, sounds effects and how ruthless the characters get.

I have to warn you that this post (for obvious reasons) contains spoilers. So, if you are not up to date on the series or you want to watch this series later, you might want to stop reading now. But thank you for stopping by!

When I look back, there have been great episodes. Most of the memorable moments are of course death-related ones. Some really brutal death scenes are ingrained in our memories and we will be probably talking about them even years after the GOT finishes. I have picked my favorite scenes. But there can be many others, really. What was your favorite scene so far? Maybe it is in my list.

1. THE RED WEDDING

One of the most traumatic episodes of the whole series.  It was so heart-wrenching, so cruel that some audience said “I can’t take this anymore”  and they stopped watching the GOT after this episode. In this episode 9 of season 3, Robb Stark attends Walder Frey’s wedding ceremony together with his mother Catelyn Stark and his pregnant wife, Talisa Stark. Because Robb didn’t follow his promise to marry one of Frey’s daughters, he was already not happy about the Starks. Tywin Lannister persuaded Roose Bolton and Walder Frey to break their allegiance to Robb.  That is how the massaccre plan emerged.

2. FREY PIE

Speaking of Walder Frey, he gets what he deserves in season 6, Episode 10 when Arya takes her family’s revenge by killing all his sons and feeding Frey with a pie that is made from their meat. Pretty gross, isn’t it? I believe this was the first time the audience understood the power and determination of Arya.

3. KING JOFFREY’S DEATH

We all questioned our humanity when we got so happy about someone’s death this much. Joffrey was the most hated character in the series, by all means. Our happiness didn’t last that long though when they arrested Tyrion Lannister for the murder and Sansa Stark was accused of being his accomplice. Many episodes later we were going to learn that it was the bride Margaery Tyrell’s grandmother Olenna Tyrell who poisoned King Joffrey.

4. DEATH OF NED STARK

Nobody saw it coming. We were all new to GOT so we didn’t know what to expect. Suddenly The King in the North, caring father and husband, a noble man Ned Stark gets executed for confessing treason that he never committed. This starts a war that would last 7 more seasons. It was a totally shocking scene. I still remember the terror in Sansa’s and even in Cersei eyes. This made it obvious that Cersei was powerless when it came to Joffrey. The only positive thing I can remember in this episode was Yoren was able to keep Arya from seeing her father’s execution and he was able to take her out of there safely.

5. DEATH and REBIRTH OF JOHN SNOW

It was so cruel of you David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to end a season like that! In Season 5 finale, John Snow was stabbed to death by his own ‘brothers’ on the Night’s Watch. Being one of the most popular and beloved characters in the show, his death paralized the audience like… for a year? No one could accept the fact that he could be dead. A lot of fans aid they wouldn’t watch the show anymore if he really died. Interestingly, the book ends here, when John Snow dies on the pure white snow. The rest of the series was written by the scenarists.

Well… He came back from the other side thanks to Melisandre, AKA Red Woman. In the beginning we all hated her: The way he manipulated Stannis Baratheon, how she burned his daughter alive made us al really, really angry. But then after Baratheon’s death, something changed and she started helping our favorite people. She brought John back to life and in Season 8 Episode 3, she helped the army of living tremendously to defeat the death. So, I guess we all forgave her?

6. THE BIRTH OF THE DRAGONS

We can also call this scene: The birth of Khaleesi. After losing her husband and child to black magic, Daenerys Targaryen sets her death husband on fire and walks into the fire while Dothrakis were watching her with curious eyes.Until that moment, she was feeling defeated, alone and misunderstood. Dothraki was not seeing her as their queen. But when the sun came up and the fire was out. There she was with all her beauty and determination rising from the ashes, holding three baby dragons. The scene that Dothrakis kneel down before her with awe was definitely worth watching.

7. DEATH OF TYWIN LANNISTER and SHAE

One of the strongest characters of the show, the father of the Lannisters, Tywin Lannister was murdered by his own son, Tyrion… On a toilet… This was a particularly interesting episode because we saw the humorous, kind-hearted, smart Tyrion turn into a ruthless and cold blooded killer. The things we do under the name of love and revenge…

8. JOHN SNOW: “THE KING IN THE NORTH!”

Such a moving scene that I wanted to share the video of it instead of showing you the photos of the scene. It will make you feel sad when you saw Lyanna Mormont speaking here. At least knowing that she died in a heroic way, as she always wanted makes me feel a little better.

In the video, John Snow is trying to convince the lords and ladies of the North to join forces with wildlings and others. His aim was not to be called the King at all. You can see the surprise in his face when the meeting takes a different turn.

9. DEATH OF OBERYN MARTELL

In season 4 Episode 8, after Tyrion was arrested with Joffrey’s murder, he asked for a combat, because that was the only way out for him. Oberyn Martell, who had his personal beef with Lannisters saw this as a great opportunity to take his revenge and he said he would fight for Tyrion in a combat. Well, what happened? Mountain happened… Cersei’s little (!) puppy Mountain was losing in the beginning. but Martell got happy too quickly, lost his attention and then… BOOM! Head exploded! That was a gross scene and I refuse to put that fully-blown image here. It was really nerve wracking to see him lose that way.

10. EPIC TYRION SPEECH AT TRIAL

Well… After hearing the love of his life Shae lying on the stand and his own father trying to execute him for a crime that he didn’t commit, Tyrion loses it. Very rightfully so…

11. DEATH OF THE NIGHT KING

We knew that Arya wasn’t preparing herself for nothing. She literally saved the living by killing the Night King. For a split second, we thought he was going to kill her but she feinted and he bought it. In your face, Night King! Or should I say, in your belly?!

12. CERSEI MAKING A HARD DECISION

When it is war, in the moment of no hope, you might have to decide if you choose to be imprisoned and tortured or choose death. When in Season 2 Episode 9, Stannis Baratheon’s forces were taking over King’s Landing, Cersei sat on the Iron Throne with his son Tommen, holding a poison in her hand. I think this was the only time we saw cersei that hopeless and vulnerable. We even almost felt sorry for her.

13. CERSEI’S REVENGE

After being forced to take the shame walk, Cersei was never the same. Her vengeful personality was not going to let this go. In season 6, episode 10, by blowing up the trial, she killed two birds with one stone: High Sparrow and Margaery, who threatened her throne.

These are the moments that left an impact on me. What about you? Please share your comments and enjoy tonight’s episode on HBO!

-Hoscakalin

Ece

Posted in Turkey

ODTU Through the Eyes of a Cat

I have always considered myself lucky for being a Middle East Technical University (ODTU) graduate. Although they included many sleepless nights, lots of stress, tears and sweat, my school years were also so much fun. Being one of the best universities in Turkey and maybe the best technical one, ODTU has special significance. In addition to being a university that accepts only the top 3% of the potential candidates, it also has a tough curriculum, difficult professors and demanding lab or project hours.

Me and my best friend Ozlem graduating from ODTU in June, 2005

But for somebody, ODTU is even more valuable and important…

Cats.

In every cafeteria or classroom, it is very usual to see a cat roaming around, sleeping or looking for food. Many compassionate ODTU students will happily feed them, play with them and care for them. They will even name them. Like this one:

Meet Pakize, the cat of Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences.

Meet Pakize, the ODTU cat.

Now she will walk you through the beautiful ODTU campus and share all the campus secrets with you 🙂 Enjoy!

Meow! My name is Pakize. I speak English very well because the education language is in English here and I go into every class, well… In some of them I am not awake, but I picked up English here and there. Let’s cut the crap, here we go. First thing first, this is glorious me:”

Image result for pakize odtu

“They have recently elected me as the ambassadors of the ODTU cats. It has been an honor, I should admit. As the ambassador, it’s my duty to introduce this university to you. I have been literally everywhere on this campus in and out. So, trust me when I say I know what I’m talking about. Another reason why you should take me seriously: I have my own Twitter account and I can respond to Trump about cat rights if I want to!”

Image result for pakize odtu

Let me take you to our first stop, the Math Department. It has the tiniest cafeteria but it has the best carbonated tea and warm pogaca which is a delicious Turkish pastry that students sometimes are kind enough to share with me. If they don’t, I attack them anyway. Muhahaha! I have my ways 😉 “

When you get out of the Math Department, the library will be right across the cobblestone path. I have no idea why, but a lot of students stay over night there, studying. The amount of food they eat and the tea/coffee they consume would blow your mind! The quiet part is where I’m not allowed in, but I can enter and wander around in the group work section. I saw people studying, sweating, crying, fighting and even kissing! Telling you, they literally live here!”

ODTU Library

“But one thing I like about these kiddos is that they also value friendship, chit chat and fun. They lay or sit on grass and talk. These kinds of groups are my favorites because they usually like to play with me or feed me. Their butt get all grassy and green afterwards, but they don’t care, the sun light and the smart chat were all worth it, they think. Silly but cute.”

ODTU people love sitting on grass 🙂

“Before I show you my favorite part on Campus, let’s stop on the way by the Physics Department. This is where Erdal Inonu was a teacher for a while and this another famous guy, Levent Ulgen, graduated from, with 4 GPA *gulp*. This department is basically where all cray crays are- just saying.”

“Physics is a department that almost all Calculus takers must go to. When I stepped in to the A3 auditorium, I could see 250-300 students trying to understand Calculus on the board. They had the look of pain in their faces most of the time. Especially in the Prof. Sitki Irk’s classes. Don’t know why that was the case but their tortured faces looked really funny. Anyway, let’s talk about most important thing now: Food. Physics cafeteria is where magic happens for me, because they have my favorite food, patso: a fries sandwich!”

Image result for patso
Patso: Fries in a sandwich bread with ketchup and mayo

“Their outside sitting area is actually quite fun. Because many Turkish people have the habit of smoking, they usually prefer outside and that works perfectly for me!”

Do you know the answer?

“Alright, we are done here. After physics department, we take a very nice path with full of trees. Variety of trees create variety of smells here. Lovely, very nice smells around. But we are approaching to the most boring building on Campus. I gave you the fair warning!”

“I called this one a nice path because sometimes I see beautiful flowers here.”

“Which one is the most boring building you wonder?…

The tallest building on campus: ‘MM Building’. Students who want to go abroad with Erasmus come here a lot. I don’t know the others. But also there is a sad story about this place, There have been many suicides reported at MM. Some students couldn’t cope with the competitive environment and pressure. So, they jumped from the roof to death. It is really sad. Not a lot of people talk about it here.”

“PS. I tried once but somehow I landed on my four feet. They should name me ‘lucky’ instead of Pakize”

MM Building

“Ladies and gentlemen. Pakize proudly presents her favorite place on Campus: Yemekhane (Cafeteria) With its incredibly cheap prices, there is always a fixed menu with soup, main meal and dessert. When I used to hang out here I had gained 5 pounds but now I have a job, as you all know. And I’m a responsible cat. I have to run around the campus a lot, so thank God that’s how I lost weight. But man, their food, especially the Keskul
dessert is just so perfect for my tummy”

ODTU Cafeteria

“I will come back here after we finish our tour, it smells like fried chicken is on the menu today. Yum!… OK. Move on! If we take a right turn after the cafeteria, we’ll see one of the most popular cafes on Campus: Çatı (pronounced as Cha-teh ) Their variety of food and awesome sitting area outside lead to long wait lines. But who needs a line when you are as small and cute as me? Hehehe”


How I see Çatı Patio on a full tummy

How I see Çatı Patio when I’m hungry!

Çatı Patio -How it actually looks

“Just by this Cafe, you will see the ‘Industrial Engineering Department whose design is not appreciated by its own students. Me, on the other hand, I don’t care. Really. As long as I can sneak in through the open doors, the design is perfect for me. The students in this department are as generous as the other ones, so why would I care?”

Department of Industrial Engineering

“I have to mention my biggest enemy here since he hangs around this spot a lot. This silly dog keeps going around cuddling people on campus and stealing my food! I don’t know his name yet but I named him ‘deceiver’. Don’t buy into his cute looks, he is a fraud, I’m totally real. Totally.”

‘The deceiver’ sitting with students

“There is a recent addition around here: a sculpture that I don’t know of what. The only thing I know is that it provides a perfect shade for 4 hours in summer. do you think it looks like anything? I can’t tell… Human beings are weird, they call everything ‘art’ these days”

“I would take you farther away but I started to feel tired so I will show you just a few more places then I will head back to the main cafeteria, if you don’t mind *Grin* “

“So,here is the second most boring building on Campus!: The Registrar office. I have never, ever seen a student or an employee leaving this place with a happy face. They all look grumpy. So, I usually avoid bothering anyone around here. I suggest you the same. Signed by: A friend”

ODTU Registrar Office

“Our upcoming stop is actually really fun. They sometimes hold very loud and fun events here. They are fun to watch, too. Sometimes some serious looking people come here to give important talks. I think the other day the president of Turkey came or something -well, I didn’t go for personal reasons, I have heard not a lot of students attended , either. I’m curious why. But you know what they say: “Curiosity killed the cat” and I want to stay alive for at least 9 more years. Thanks! Anyway, this place is called the Culture and Convention Center.”

ODTU Culture and Convention Center

“If you walk towards Çarşı, where the banks, restaurants, post office, stationery and copy center are, you will see this large, beautiful green wooded area first. It looks really pretty and usually this is the best place to hold a spot during the Spring Festival on campus (because they build a stage right in the middle for concerts) Its tiny pretty stream sometimes smells like dump, though. I’m just a cat, so I don’t question things but that smell even cuts my apetite. Yuck!”

Beautiful green area right across Carsi

“And of course Carsi is the place we have to mention here, since it is the place where usually the shit happens – inner thoughts: “or in stadium? Or food engineering back yard? Anyway”- This place has everything from shopping to banking. They have a billiard cafe , where you can play pool,backgammon or chess. They have good kebab places plus some other nice restaurants and cafes. I would take you up to where dorms are now but as I said, I really need to go as I way passed my lunch time 😀 I’m heading back to cafeteria, if you don’t mind. I hope you enjoyed this tour. If you ever happen to come and visit, please find me! I will be around the Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences . Chiaawww!”

Because Pakize was really hungry – which I can totally resonate with – she forgot to mention one of the best places in ODTU. I can’t let you go before I introduce you to ODTU Stadium. More than the graduations, concerts, festivals and sport events it hosts, what makes this place even more special is the message it gives: A message from the students to the world.

This message was written on the stadium steps in 1968. It says “Revolution” and it gives a different message for everyone. Some claims it represents the founder of Turkey, Ataturk’s positive revolutions on education, justice and social system. Some claims that this represents being against the status quo is not always a bad thing, Change is good if it is positive for the nation. Despite many attempts to erase it or paint it over, for some reason (obviously a smart combination of chemicals or application method) it remains to this day indestructible. Here is a picture of me standing in front of it. Mind you, taking a selfie in front of a stadium takes a lot of effort and so the letter ‘D’ didn’t show itself very well. Not my fault!

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my university!

Hoscakalin!

-Ece Gurler

Posted in Personal Interest

My KETO Journey

Who likes dieting? Yeah, right. Of course… NO ONE.

But for some of us, it is a must. Because we love food, we are social people and our metabolism is not working as generously as it does for others.

I’m now 36 years old and I have tried any kind of diet possible out there, on and off, since I was 16. And let me tell you… Nothing worked like KETO did.

I want to talk to you about my KETO journey. What you SHOULD do and what you SHOULDN’T do, based on my own experience. I will give you some recipes, some links to help you prepare you for Keto and also will give you some #hashtags to follow on Instagram.

I have lost 16 pounds (~7 kg) in 2.5 months. I lost 10 pounds of it during the first week. If you stick to the rules religiously, you will get results. But KETO is a difficult diet to do for a lot of people.

Why Some People Think Keto is Difficult?

  1. You need to weigh your food. Why? Look at number 2.
  2. You need to count your macros. You need to know how many calories, how much carbs, protein and fat you are eating every day. There are many apps for that including Mymacros and Fitnesspal. Internet has pretty much has nutrition facts for all kinds of food. We need to make sure we are getting enough fat and protein, getting no more than 20g carb and not going above your calorie limit.
  3. You need to do meal prep. Otherwise, you will fail. Because of number 1 and number 2, eating out is not a great option.
  4. No Cheat meal allowed in KETO.
  5. Absolutely NO alcohol.
  6. Absolutely NO sugar.
  7. If you are a fruit lover, sorry. Only berries are allowed (And Avacado!)
  8. Well… No fruit rule of course comes with no fruit juice rule.
  9. No Soda.
  10. It is an expensive diet. On top of buying meat, cheese, organic vegetables, almond flour and nuts, you also will need to buy some nutritional supplements.

Why KETO is good then??

  1. Rapid weight loss gives you motivation. The first week, if you are doing everything right, you will lose 3-10 pounds, which is the water weight. Even though it is not the fat burn, it still makes you feel better and focus on your diet.
  2. The food is delicious. In comparison to other diets that I have tried, Keto has a lot of options. Steak, wings, eggs, bacon, cheese, butter, peanuts, almonds, these are all Keto friendly. Tell you this; anything with butter and cheese on them eventually tastes good.
  3. You feel full very quickly, even when you don’t eat much. In other diets I tried, this was my biggest problem. Half of the time, I was hungry. But on KETO, I never feel hungry. Never.
  4. You feel more energetic, the heavy feeling that carbs give you disappears. I had bloating and gas problems, they are all gone. It also balances your blood sugar levels. It also improved my stomach and sleeping problems. My skin got smoother healthier (see pphotos below, no filter in either! My dark wrinkles disappeared and my skin got smoother-PS. Can’t believe I’m sharing my ridiculous photos with you, haha).

Who SHOULDN’T Do Keto Diet?

  • People with High cholesterol
  • Growing Kids
  • People with Thyroid problem
  • Breastfeeding mothers
  • People with Type 2 Diabetes (KETO is good for Type 1 diabetes. My dad has it and KETO worked on him so well. He lost 10 pounds in a month and he used to get 38 units of insulin a day, in a month he took maybe 65 units in total!)
  • People with no gallbladder
  • Although there is a myth that KETO might affect kidneys in a bad way since it increases the acidity in urine, doctors are conflicted about this. As long as protein intake is moderate, keto diet is safe they say.

So, what is KETO diet anyway?

This is what http://www.ruled.me says:

When you eat something high in carbs, your body will produce glucose and insulin.

  • Glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert and use as energy so that it will be chosen over any other energy source.
  • Insulin is produced to process the glucose in your bloodstream by taking it around the body.

Since the glucose is being used as a primary energy, your fats are not needed and are therefore stored. Typically on a normal, higher carbohydrate diet, the body will use glucose as the main form of energy. By lowering the intake of carbs, the body is induced into a state known as ketosis.

Ketosis is a natural process the body initiates to help us survive when food intake is low. During this state, we produce ketones, which are produced from the breakdown of fats in the liver.

Photo from KETOGEEK

The end goal of a properly maintained keto diet is to force your body into this metabolic state. We don’t do this through starvation of calories but starvation of carbohydrates.

Our bodies are incredibly adaptive to what you put into it – when you overload it with fats and take away carbohydrates, it will begin to burn ketones as the primary energy source. 

How Do I Know my Daily Calorie Intake and Macros?

There are many ways to calculate your daily calorie intake. It depends also on how much activity you have in your life. The more active you are the more easily you are going to burn fat. If you give a 500 calories deficit a day, you should be able to lose 1-2 pounds every week. Here is the link I recommend to calculate your macros: https://www.ruled.me/keto-calculator For example, tight now, when I enter my info these are the macros that are calculated:

How Do You Track Your Macros?

This is a screenshot from the app that I use. If you are not technology friendly, you can use an excel sheet instead.

Once you create an entry in your app and save it, next time when you eat it, it will be already there for you.

One thing that you should not forget about your macros:

Only count Net Carbs! Net carbs means that you need to substract any fiber or sugar alcohol (not sugar!) from the total amount of carbs, that is the net carb. Keto only cares about the net carbs.

Common Mistakes in KETO

  • Eating not enough fat: “Fat is bad!” is ingrained in our brains so much that we fear the fat. But fat is the only source your body can use to make energy during Keto. You need to give it the fat it wants. This is why having set macros in the beginning is important. Don’t hesitate to put an extra splash of olive oil in your salad, or have extra butter in your eggs.
  • Eating too much protein: When people deprive themselves from the fat, they tend to turn to protein instead. However, eating too much protein is neither healthy nor helpful for weight loss.
  • Not counting calories: The dilemma is we need fat, but high fat foods have usually high calories. So the ‘amount’ of food is important.
  • Not drinking enough water: It is super important that you drink a LOT OF WATER during the day because KETO makes you lose a lot of water. Water molecules clinges on carbs in your cells and if there is no carb, then they are set free. You need to hydrate your body, otherwise you cannot function (And yes, you go to bathroom a lot during KETO :D)
  • Not taking nutritional supplements: Fruits have electrolytes that are necessary for our bodies and during KETO we are deprived of them. So, we need to get electrolyte supplements.
  • Forgetting about gut health: Try to stay away from sweeteners and try to use bone broth in your cooking. More information can be found here:https://drjockers.com/keto-diet-bad-microbiome/

What Are the Side Effects?

There are some side effects that I experienced.

  1. Keto Flu: During the adaptation phase, people commonly feel brain fog, fatigue, dizziness, intense hunger, irritability, and depression. It lasted 3 days or so for me. I was going to bed at 9:00 PM and I was getting mad at unnecessary things!
  2. Bad Breath: I did Keto twice. In the first one, I had bad breath and in the second one, I did not. I learned that bad breath is normal because Ketosis occurs when your body breaks down fat for energy. Fatty acids are then converted into ketones, which are natural chemicals your body produces when you burn fat for energy. These include beta hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate, and acetone. That is why it smells bad.
  3. Leg Cramps: Low carb diets causes rapid water loss, that is why your electolides such as Zinc, Magnesium and Potassium get washed out of your body. If you do not replace them, you get cramps. Especially because I was working out, I got a lot of cramps in the beginning until I figured out what the problem was. After starting the take supplements, cramps disappeared.
  4. Hair Loss: This one is going to scare a lot of people, I know. It scared the hell out of me too, believe me. It can be due to many things but I suspect that mine was the stress that my body underwent during the rapid weight loss. I lost 1/3 of my hair. I will be honest, it was scary but I see that new hairs coming out and the doctors say the hair will come back in 3-6 months. I take Biotin and electrolide supplements. So I will keep you updated on that later. You can see my sad hair loss in the below picture (Also consider that I had a hair cut).

Where to Start?

  • First, read more about Keto from here, and calculate your macros and calorie goal here. Write it somewhere.
  • Take pictures of yourself in a way that you can see the change later from the front, side and the rear view.
  • Follow all the #keto accounts on Instagram. My favorite accounts are: ‘@thejoeduff’ for amazing dessert recipes and ‘@stay_snatched’ and ‘@flavcity’ or ‘@keto.meal’ for Keto meals in general.
  • Make a weekly meal plan and do shopping. Sundays are the best days for cooking marathon for me.
  • While cooking, add your meal logs in your macros app. What are the macros per each serving?
  • Start your diet not TOMORROW but TODAY. If you want to decide on ‘when is the best time to start a diet’ please check the beginning of my other post here: When to start dieting
  • Weigh yourself every Saturday, in the morning, naked and after you use the restroom, on an empty stomach. Record this weight in your macros app. Take a photo of your body from each side, every Saturday. The first week, you will start losing way on your third day.
  • Please please please remember to drink lots of water. Carry a bottle with you everywhere.
  • Compare your weight and photos every week.
  • Do not forget to recalculate your macros once you start losing weight. Because the lighter you get, the less calorie intake you need to lose weight.

What to cook?

I have tried a variety of different recipes, mostly from basic Google search or Instagram search. I have already told you my favorite accounts on instagram. You can also follow me ‘@eceketo’ on Instagram. Definitely follow instagram for motivation and recipe ideas 🙂 . I gathered my favorite recipes here: KETO_Cookbook_EceGurler

Also, you can look at the meals I cooked before and have an idea:

I sticked with the rules and I got results. The first week will be tough, but then you will get used to it and it will get easier, fun and you will feel much better. Just don’t forget to count your macros, get your supplements and drink your water!

You can do this!!!!

-Hoscakalin

Ece