Istan: in fact this is a joke
Istanbul: it certainly has a nice vigorous sound to it. Of course the “bul” part of it means nothing except for a pun in the English-understanding ear.  The old name Constantinople had a ring, too.  The even older name Byzantium doubtless rings in some ears. 

And a great old city it has been.  It is the gate of Europe.  There was a time when the best way from east Europe to west was down the Danube, along the coast to that city and then through the Sea of Marmora, through the Dardanelles strait and then into the Mediterranean bound for Rome, Venice or elsewhere depending on the century.  And any traffic between Europe and Asia or Africa coming by land had to cross there as the Bosporus.  Earlier Troy controlled that traffic at the Dardanelles, but in those days a trading ship could be pulled up on the beach.  (You came up stern first instead of ramming the beach with your ram the way Achilles did in the movie.)  Later larger ships wanted a deep water dock, which could be set up in the Golden Horn, an estuary opening off the Bosporus and the heart of the great city in its prime.

Well if “bul” means nothing, “Istan” doesn’t mean anything either.  But let’s play.  The name “Republican” carried a message at one time.  It meant having an interest in the “Republic,” which in this case was the United States.  It implies there was but

one (F1E, count them!, ONE) republic instead of the several mentioned in the constitution.  Whimper and cavil if you must, you cannot deny that it was brilliant and successful PR for its time.  Of course later the South continued to hate “Republican” even as they morphed into a conservative bunch more tolerable to Southerners and the Democrats similarly took over as liberals, giving the liberals far more clout than their numbers justified.  But for us it’s the “an” bit, which we shall take as “totally obsessed with to the degree where honesty might be doubted” or something like that. 

So what does “ist” mean?  Well it means quite frequently that this is a hate word.  So if I call somebody an ageist, I mean he/she hates or tyrannizes over some age group, and that I hate him/her.  “Sexist” and “racist” follow the same logic.  So, alas, does “scientist.”  Oh, you didn’t think there was hostility towards science?  Well the scientists believe there is and, like the target of any such attack, profess their total innocence and good intentions.

I do not mean for a moment that race, sex and age have not been the occasion of inexcusable acts.  I just mean istans carry condemnation to an extreme, such that their clout exceeds their numbers.  Even scientists have done cruel things.  The first blood pressure measurement was done on “a struggling mare lashed to a common gatepost.”  They attached a glass pipe to a goose trachea and sutured that to a carotid artery of the beast.  They then were able to monitor the blood pressure of the mare as they slowly bled her to death.  Oh they’ve done worse.  A prisoner was once strapped to a table and a vein cannulated.  They did not withdraw a significant amount of blood, but they set a spigot dripping below the table and told the poor man that it was his blood and that they were bleeding him to death.  They then took his blood pressure by ordinary noninvasive means and watched it fall until he was as dead as the mare.  The mare got no explanation, and I’m pretty sure the death was indeed due to exsanguinations and not pure horror. 

So I don’t mean to defend “ists,” but to point out the istans.  It’s really odd, you know.  Great social change is expected to proceed with unanimous support.  We are expected to have opinions acceptable to the national society and to adopt those opinions at exactly the right time.  It’s not just this country.  Other countries will adopt the ascendant American opinions before they are settled on here.  If we had a government that acknowledged we were insisting on a national society, it would seem less strange, but we think we are FREE.  Surely that means free with respect to opinion. 

Yes, yes.  Generally I do side with the istans, but one thing troubles me here.  If you say “istan” backwards you get “Nazi.” 

There have been 259 visitors over the past month and 69 people have taken a gander at “Babies Triumph over Evil” on YouTube. The traffic there seems to be one hit every two days, which of course is the frequency with which I check it, so the only traffic is probably me checking for traffic. Ho. Ho. Ho.

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