Facebook will help us rebuild Greece

No, Zuckerberg isn’t about to buy Greek debt.  Nor will he set up Research and Development in Crete.     He isn’t even going to call up European leaders and ask them nicely to be kinder on repayment terms.  Facebook is going to help us build consensus.

Most people currently believe that social media achieves the exact opposite.  It is not mass media.   We hide alone and pretend, end up feeling inadequate…and all that kind of thinking which is prevalent right now in research papers.  “Get off social to get happy!” seems to be the accepted wisdom.

But let’s talk about really bad politicians.  We all have some.  My Italian friends simply could not believe what Berlusconi got away with for so long.  Americans are currently worried about Trump but forget they had George Bush, an equally dangerous buffoon, calling the shots for two terms.  The British simply laughed at the idiotic stuff Tony Blair came up with regularly and most African countries are almost used to crazy dictators.   All around the world, people vote for leaders so incredibly stupid, we would not trust them to hold our ice cream, let alone decide our kids’ future.   (More on “Trump, trinkets and the triumph of the twats” here.)

In Greece we have Alexis Tsipras.  I don’t need to run through moronic highlights.  The whole world has had a taste.  Take the worse you have seen or heard about him and just multiply it by a hundred.  He is an absolute idiot.  Uneducated, incapable and brash.  A lethal combination.

What is interesting about this particular clown however is his rise to power and what we did about it.   Many of us could see it coming.  We got on our soap boxes and cried:  “can’t you see?”  They couldn’t see.  He got elected.   Some of us insisted and from Day1 posted all the terrible things they did.  Still, we were the weirdos.  Yannis Varoufakis upped the ridiculous ante.   We were on Facebook about it.   The “let’s give them some time to see what they can do” attitude started cracking.  Some Facebook friends started expressing doubts.

Gradually more and more people turned.   If you are professionally on social media like me, you see a lot of different profiles, a lot of different groups of “friends”.  The arty people seeing their hopes of socialist reforms dashed.   The business crowd feeling the enormous damage done to the economy and the image of Greece abroad.  For a communications guy like me, the signs were glaring, obvious and flashing like bright lights: my country has split up into two social media clans.  On the one side are civil servant and all those directly or indirectly making money from Government.  On the other side the private sector.   We are the schmucks paying the bill.

This is no new divide.  But social media is helping as clear up the situation.   If you are a civil servant you can’t hide it from me in the long term.  A recent Facebook unfriending made this pretty obvious to me.  He is my age, full of energy, similar outdoor interests, also a keen traveller, well read and we agreed on everything.  Even touchy subjects like child rearing approaches.  In politics we had a similar approach, ended up supporting similar parties.   On Facebook it seemed so that is.   And then recently he did it:  he reposted an article that “not all civil servants are evil”.

Like you do on Facebook, I pushed a bit.  It didn’t take much prodding.  He came out and admitted it:   “I am 47, have a wife and a kid now, I will not give up my job security”.    It was the fastest unfriend I have ever done.   Because it was obvious. Sharing anything with him is simply a waste of time.   I live in a global economy and have my kids ready to go to any country in the world necessary for work at a moment’s notice.   Government handouts are not part of this plan.  Business opportunities are always global.   He talks the talk but, like the bloated Greek public sector, will not walk the walk.

Though only half Greek, I love this place.  Greek culture can and should have a bright spot on planet Earth.  But it will not achieve anything while sitting on its butt.  Through Facebook we will unfriend all those civil servants.   We will uncover the hypocrites.  Over time they will give themselves away.  Sooner or later they repost something about Merkel being bad to us, or idiotic pseudo economic conspiracy theories borrowed from a failed ex minister in Australia.   We will build a new consensus and a new idea about what it means to be Greek in the modern world.   One post at a time.   It’s not about living in Greece and it sure as hell isn’t about job security and living off loans.  If there is something special about this great civilisation it has nothing to fear of new technologies, new economies or alien invasions, Jews, Germans and whatever other imaginary enemy lazy Greeks imagine are all working against them.

I hope Argyris quits his job in the civil service and finds something to do in the real world economy some time soon.    (Posting this on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter now, guess he will see it sooner or later.  ; )


Trump, trinkets and the triumph of the twats

Next time you meet a dog, try this.  Take a fresh juicy steak and say:  “If you sacrifice this meat, you will earn a special place in Dog Paradise!”  No, a dog will not give a hoot, a steak or half a dry poo for the afterlife or any other such vague idea.  It is a uniquelly human thing to put religion, politics or fantastic creatures of our collective imagination above basic needs.

Sathya Sai Baba was a charlatan who amongst other ridiculous tricks “magically” produced trinkets for his audience.   That was not what they travelled to see him about though.  It was his ideas.   The trinkets were just part of the morning ritual.  A lucky few got to meet with him and be blessed.   Less lucky few suffered his sexual advances.  Silently.  For an idea.

It is our capacity to join forces for big ideas and trinkets that makes us humans such an incredible force to be reckoned with.  No matter what you think of Donald Trump, he has won.  The world is split into Trump lovers and Trump haters and both these groups go to pretty impressive extremes for him.  Much like they would a few centuries ago for their king.  In France they traded the idea of a Sun king for that of a Republicby killing their previous way of understanding how the world was ruled at the guillotine.

What this monumental advance of our species has achieved is to bring idiots like Trump to the forefront.   Twenty thousand years ago, you had to be a good runner, a strong fighter, able at fishing and hunting, fast at fashioning tools and a lot of other things.  Every day.  All the time.  But big ideas in politics and religion brought together more people than ever before, in groups larger than ever before.  And so we could support the twats.

Those with no obvious gift, strength or ability found niches.  You could make a living producing nothing edible.   One clever weird looking man claimed he heard the voices of his ancestors.  In the old days they would have killed him as a misformed baby.  He surely would never get a woman.  Now he had twenty virgins in the next room waiting for him to be sacrificed.

The leader of the clan was no longer the strongest or wisest.  It was the useless fool who insisted no matter what.

Social media diet inspired by primitive, happy humans

Heck, they do it all the time with eating habits.  Why not make a social media regime and sell it?   So here are my tips on how to be happier through changes in your social media habits.   All scientifically tested and based on decades of research:

  1. Eat everything.  Hunter gatherers where more gatherers than hunters.  Always on the look out for berries, or roots, or well, anything edible.   Do the same with your social media.  Don’t be picky which platform to use.  They all taste slightly different.  When you stumble on one, use it.
  2. Gorge on opportunities.  When a stone age wanderer found a tree full of fruit they didn’t sit around debating; they ate as much as possible before some other tribe of humans or monkeys came and ransacked everything.  When you find a new niche, milk it.  Getting a lot of likes for Einstein quotes?  Go for it!
  3. There are three ways of walking the earth.  Ancient nomads where mostly alone all day, with a very small troupe of relatives, 10-20 usually somewhere within shouting distance.  That is how they lived for days and months on end.  Occasions for meeting strangers or bigger gatherins where extremely rare. Emulate this in your use of social media.  Pick a platform for those really close and important to you.  Email, Google plus, ello, instagram, whatever.  Live there most of your day with them.
  4. Be vicious.  Our ancient ancestors were brutal.  Some killed newborns at a whim if they didn’t look nice.  Old people were knifed from behind if they couldn’t keep up, or just left up a mountain.  No regrets, just unfriend, block, send them to cyber heaven.
  5. Boldy go wherever there might be greener grass.  Our nomad ancestors never stopped exploring.   What’s that?  Snapchat?  Hell yeah, let’s try it.  No matter if it looks barren, heck they walked across miles of ice to get to America, you some sort of chicken?  Old places have stale opportunities, look for new vistas.
  6. Burn it all down.  When some enterprising bunch of sailors arrived at Australia 45 thousand years ago, they wiped out all but one of the large marsupials that roamed that continent.   They just burned down forests for fun.  Don’t save for tomorrow what you can use today.  That folder full of “good stuff I found to use some time”?   Well, the time is now.  Go for it.

I could go on with more points but of course I am developing the idea in a book.  And series of seminars, world tour and self-help audio.  Because as my ancient primitive ancestors knew, everything has a price.  Trade wherever you can!

Tech beyond the law; virtual reality TV for Banana republics

It is funny to watch regulators try to catch up with Facebook and Google.  These days it is about how they filter news results.  Which sort of shows how little anyone understands the tech involved.  Of course Facebook and Google’s algorithms are biased!  By definition any system which regulates a flow cannot be objective and fair.  There is no 50-50 rule concerning ideas.    Even if there was, it is impossible to check up on them.   The results are personalized.  The sauce is secret.

The TV situation is similar.  Only old folk watch TV.  Kids YouTube everything.  There is no “digital battle”, no “interactive frontier”, none of those flashy titles panned out for the old style media organizations that used to make up the titles in the first place.  We are officially in Banana Republic.  No rules.  No time to make complex rules about the ethics, business or law concerning all of it.  Moore’s law may be outdated for processing power, but the tech industry was never just about that.

Case in point:  virtual reality.  In the old days, you used to expect a company to “get it right”, or a consortium of companies to agree on a standard.  Now Google shells out three dozen variations of virtual reality in a year.  From cardboard, to Spotlight stories, to ten different ways to use your smartphone, collaborations with Lenovo or Samsung, Google will slice and dice, present and represent solutions until something comes out of it all.  Each approach may be a completely different in terms of tech, marketing, distribution, production or something you haven’t even heard of yet.  A 12 year old will coin a term for it though.    Ah, wait, a 12 yr old already did that.  I read it in my news feed…

Some of us never tire trying to make sense of it.  Most just wait for the dust to settle.

But by then it is way too late.

Radiohead – A moon shaped pool

“Try this.  You like weird stuff.”  Some years ago someone gave me a collection of “weird stuff”.  Moody and noisy.  I call them soundscapes.  And the new Radiohead album comes pretty close.  This is an album you want to play loud with headphones as you walk through your dreams or nightmares to try to figure out something.

The audio cues are like trance dancing material.  They must have had fun in sound design.  ‘Burn the witch’, ‘Daydreaming’ and ‘Decks Dark’ set the stage like that before ‘Desert Island Disk’ comes along with it’s acoustic guitar as anything vaguely ‘normal’.  Oh, wait a minute, there goes that one too down the dreamy, stoned world of sweeping background sounds.  It is as if whenever anything sounded familiar they worked on it until it didn’t.  “Identikit” starts like a studio out take and turns into an anthem of something, anything you want it to.

This is more like a trip through space or an ocean voyage.  The fog lifts occasionally briefly and then reappears.  Vocals ranging from a greek “moiroloi” style chants, to whinging, whining, painful, thoughtful, pensive rants.  If you are looking for a hit single, don’t bother.  This isn’t an album, it’s a disease.  You hear it once and then you want to hear it again.

Whatever planet these guys have lived on for the past years making this album, heck, I want to live there with them.

From brain to IPO. Map out your communications

Let’s take a typical day of little Miss X, CEO of an exciting new startup.

Little Miss X wakes up from a nightmare.  She jots down what she remembers of it in a diary next to her bed to take to her shrink.  This is information just for the two of them.  Clear cut case.  She doesn’t put it anywhere else and she will probably burn the diary; it is all written in shorthand that nobody else will understand anyway.  She then goes to the toilet.  This too concerns nobody else other than her husband.  “Sweetie I’ll go first and you can shower while I prepare breakfast” she says as she goes.  Another interaction which doesn’t need to be on Facebook or anywhere else.  We are still in a very private sphere of Little Miss X’s world.  She doesn’t tell him about a strange lump she feels on her breast, he doesn’t need to worry about that.

But the minute she sits on the toilet and opens Facebook on her cell phone she is out and about.  For starters, all her friends know she is awake.  They see her “Likes” on their posts, then a few of her comments and emoticons.  Her sister sends a message:  “Goodmorning sis!  Nervous about the big event today?”  Miss X posts a picture from her trip to Bali, a Budha at sunrise.  Only her Facebook friends can see it and she is very picky about who is her Facebook friend.  Privacy concerns apart, this is still what she considers a private area.

Over breakfast she scans the news online.  There is an article about her industry in the New York Times.  She posts a small comment on her personal blog, careful not to mention the article directly, but answering the main points.  After all the blog has all the legal disclaimers.  It is her personal opinion, not her company’s official position or anything like that.  But already her mind is at work.

On the drive to the office she snaps a pic of a rainbow landing on the billboard announcing their IPO.  No time to waste, post that straight to the company’s Facebook page.    “A bright new start” seems like a good title in view of what is coming up today.   Sally in Marketing will see it and maybe use it somewhere else later too. 

Little Miss X get to her desk and sits behind the computer.  Now she is at work proper.  Reviewing the press releases and other official communications of the day, thinking about her speech.  From the lump in her breast which absolutely nobody knows about, to her words in front of the cameras in a few hours which will get retransmitted in as many ways possible.  Her success as a person and a businesswoman hinges on mapping them out:

This information goes there.   That information you can expect to find here.”   If you are my personal friend and you send me a message via Facebook I will probably respond immediately.  If you follow my personal blog and write a comment, expect a friendly and unofficial vague response within the day.   If you find the rainbow on the billboard great, someone in marketing will write something marketingey within 15 minutes.   If you don’t like my speech during the IPO I will get full business on you and hit you with data, facts, figures very carefully.”

We all need to be clear about these information flows.  When I say “map it out” I literally mean a map.  You have Pinterest page which you never check up?  Write it on your Pinterst bio:   “I don’t use Pinterest much, check out my Twitter feed if you want to keep up with my latest.”    Started that Path account back when it looked cool?  Well update it.   “If you want to get in touch, I hardly ever check up on this account, so please don’t send a message here.  Catch me on my personal blog.”   LinkedIn?   Sure, but I check it up about once a week.   Draw up all your communication channels and tell everyone about it.

Be clear or be smeared.

Cautionary tales from the past for virtual reality

I loved and sold graphic tablets for many years.  Essentially a high tech slab of plastic, it offers “the natural way” to interact with technology.  I always started my presentations by saying that “nobody was born with a computer mouse in their hand” and audiences nodded.  Half of them suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome or thought they did.  Everyone was impressed how quickly, effortlessly and accurately I worked my demo projects with a Wacom tablet.  Not just Photoshop, even Excel is better with a tablet, here look!  I whizzed through it all with genuine enthusiasm, that tablet was an extension of my mind for a while.

It isn’t now.  Fewer and fewer people complained about pain.  They had switched to laptops. The mouse was dead anyway.  The interfaces changed.  iPads and smartphones had dumbed down the requirements for accurate interaction while software had got better at predicting what you want to do.  Very few people need a graphic tablet anymore.  I checked out an app on my phone yesterday that does most of the cool tricks I performed in front of trade show crowds on their photos almost as well.

3D television was meant to be a revolution too.  HD, 2K, 4K ever rising pixel count.  And 3D thrown in too, heck you’re paying several thousand for the monster, why not?  Curved TVs and all sorts of other technologies always promise “it will be just like being there!”  Except we don’t seem to care.  Old fashioned television is more than enough resolution for millions of kids watching YouTube videos on their cellphones all day.  The bandwidth and storage requirements of high resolution never seem to be justified in the grand scheme of things.  This latest slew of virtual reality devices is still way too demanding.  Remember digital, interactive television?  Hundreds of promises, dozens of variations, many people in the industry betting and losing.  Clunky proposed interfaces and standards, almost all of them failed.   Partly because people don’t want interaction when watching TV, they want to vegetate.  And partly because more simple devices took care of the interaction.   Surfing the net on your tablet instead of channel surfing on your TV.

So next time you start to tell us about the next big thing in virtual reality, take a minute to think about the decades of marketing hoohah we have suffered with the above examples please.  When you tell us about the killer app and do that highly rehearsed demo, think about all the thousands of other technologies it will take, industries to shift paradigms and content that will need to be updated.  I’m not saying virtual reality will never happen.  Just that it is further than you think and that the opportunities might not be where you think they are.

FBI vs Apple = 6-1

  1. If there was someone on the planet that didn’t know that the usual way FBI and Apple solve these things is in secret, we all know it now.  Both parties involved admitted that usually when the FBI wants the contents of a phone, Apple has always played along and told nobody about it.
  2. We all found out about Apple’s sneaky secret backdoors.  Updates they can install on just one specific phone and other things which only a mind as perverse as Steve Jobs could think of.
  3. At best Tim Cook seemed “adequate”.  For most of us he was just blatantly hypocritical in pretending to stand up for free speech and privacy.  This is the right hand man of Steve Jobs.  They both did so much nasty stuff against consumers’ interests for so many years; any serious analyst can only laugh to hear him wax lyrical now.  iPhones secretly sent location, private data and well,  pretty much everything in the past.  It probably still does, just in more complex ways.  They never told consumers any of it.
  4. Similar to “freedom fries” and the small media war against France in the past, this media frenzy will leave Apple with scars.  True patriots will avoid iPhones to some degree.  After their tax dodging tricks, Chinese workers killing themselves and Donald Trump having a go at Apple, it is starting to pile up.
  5. After all this, magically, a way to hack the iPhone was discovered.  So the FBI doesn’t need a backdoor.  They can use the same trick for any iPhone.  Heck, we are all pretty sure they can hack the latest models too.  Well done Apple, you just made sure the entire planet knows just how unsafe your products are.
  6. I am not the only one not to buy the story about an “outside contractor helping the FBI”.   Apple gave in.  They helped the FBI and came up with this vague story to cover up.  They knew that if they left it long enough, many outside contractors and hackers would find publish a way around on the internet.  Every hackathon has Apple products falling first.  This is no conspiracy theory.  Apple products’ security is rubbish.

There is only group of people which think that Apple won the case.  Apple fan boys.  But then again they always think Apple has won.  So the only interesting question is “why make all this fuss for nothing?”  I would look more at the stock market for answers than the technology involved.

Render unto the sultan what is the sultan’s

Some books speak for themselves.  Hard to summarise, so here is the conclusion in it’s entirety.  If you think this is interesting, you will love the book!  “Render unto the sultan” by Tom Papademetriou.

947b3409d3f5bf2c3c14b354b244db0a“Between 1453 and 1500, the office of the Patriarch of Constantinople changed hands eighteen times with an average of a one patriarch every 2.4 years. Between 1500 and 1600 it changed thirty-two times with an average of one patriarch every 3.1 years, and between 1500 and 1600 it changed fifty-three times with an aver­age of one patriarch every 1.9 years. A quick examination of the names of indi­vidual patriarchs shows individuals were elevated, deposed, and reappointed, in one case up to seven times. The Patriarchate of Constantinople in the era after 1453 appeared to be fragile and vulnerable. As the only surviving institution from the Byzantine era, it was an institution in a state of flux. The rapid change of lead­ership raises the question of how much authority did the patriarch actually have over the Greek community.
bf62b1f787f9fd553cfc102e7e651b7bThe answer is complicated, when one considers that the instability of the office was caused largely because the broader lay Greek community intervened in the appointments and depositions of bishops. Doctrinal issues certainly played a role in depostions, and there are examples of patriarchs and bishops being challenged in their faith, and affirming their confession of faith in the Orthodox religion. However, the practice of condemning an opponent for unsound theology did not become common practice until the seventeenth century. One such challenge to the faith occurred in the 1560s and 1570s when the German Lutherans, Martin Crusius, and Stephan Gerlach, visited the court of Patriarch Jeremiah II Tranos. They were ultimately rebuffed by the Patriarch Jeremiah II though they became friends with members of the patriarchal court. The lack of cooperation from the sixteenth-century patriarchal hierarchs and theologians did not prevent inroads from being made by Protestants and Roman Catholics in the seventeenth cen­tury. Among the most famous cases of a patriarch who was elevated and deposed multiple times ostensibly for doctrinal reasons is Patriarch Cyril Loukaris (1612, 1620—23, 1623, 1623—33, 1634—35, 1637—38). Patriarch Cyril Loukaris held the patriarchal throne of Alexandria and Constantinople seven times between the years 1612 and 1638. Loukaris was known to be sympathic to the Calvinist doctrine, and became a proponent of translating the scriptures into the com­monly used Greek language of the day. Patriarch Loukaris was caught between the intrigue of his pro-Calvinist acquaintances, and the Jesuits, who undermined him in the sultan’s court. He was eventually killed, having been strangled and tossed into the Bosphorus. However, aside from this major episode there were few major doctrinal disagreements responsible for patriarchal succession in the seventeenth century.
The underlying reasons for many of the depositions of patriarchs were more often than not associated with power struggles over the ecclesiastical office. The rapid patriarchal successions show an increase in competition for patriarchal power. As bishops of the Church, patriarchs were not only subject to the vicis­situdes of a dominating imperial state, but they also were subject to the machina­tions and designs of ambitious members of the Greek community.
4a64966f805fc76fb12d74baf87a3f51If one continues to accept the millet system paradigm to describe Ottoman rule of non-Muslim communities, then this power struggle was purely a political struggle, in which churchmen were vying for the leadership position of the Rum millet-i. This view, however, does not take into account the interests of the mem­bers of the Greek community, who were made up of merchants, artisans, as well as ecclesiastical personalities.
Since according to the millet system non-Muslim religious leaders in the Ottoman Empire served as both spiritual and temporal leaders, it would be under­stood that the Porte issued laws and ruled the non-Muslim populations through the religious leaders of the Greek, Jewish, and Armenian communities. While this description is tidy and neat, and even though there might have been heavy politics involved in religious leadership succession, the notion of the millet system must, once again, be challenged.
An alternative, and perhaps more productive explanation should replace the millet system paradigm. Ecclesiastical offices offered an economic benefit to their holders, as they functioned as tax farms and became an object of intense com­petition for members of the Greek Orthodox community. Because these offices could only be purchased, power was spread into the hands of the wealthy lay people. This new description counters the received wisdom that the patriarch was the leader of the Greek millet, having both religious and civil authority over the non-Muslim Greek Orthodox Christian community.
If the focus changes from a political story to an economic one, a fuller, more contoured, and variegated picture of the Greek community in Ottoman society develops. One result is a better understanding of incidents such as the rapid turn­over in the office of the patriarch and of other hierarchs. In the course of examin­ing Ottoman and Greek ecclesiastical documents, the one common element that continually appeared throughout the study was the distinctive fiscal relationship between Church hierarchs and the Ottoman state.
From an examination of Byzantine and Ottoman evidence that extends from the earliest Ottoman times in the fourteenth century to the beginning of the sev­enteenth century, a clear trend was established. The Ottomans identified the Greek Orthodox ecclesiastical hierarchy as a resource for cash income. They became known primarily as tax farmers (multezim) for cash income derived from the Church’s widespread holdings. The Ottoman state granted individuals the right to take their positions as hierarchs in return for yearly payments to the state. To gain those positions, the hierarchy enlisted the services of members of the Greek economic elite to purchase the ecclesiastical tax farm (iltizam), and to alienate the Church’s revenues. As a result, the hierarchical positions became highly prized for their economic aspects and, as tax farms, became subject to increased forces of competition, just as a customs zone tax or any other tax farm might be.
This practice continued into the seventeenth century, where we find the con­tinuity of ecclesiastical tax farming. With this explanation, the work of previ­ous historians becomes eminently more accessible and understandable. Multiple examples of this process are visible in the minutes of the patriarchal synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Codex Beta and Codex Gamma cover the years 1612—1761 and contain numerous references to the tax collecting obliga­tions of the bishops and of the patriarchate. For instance, in 1624, Patriarch Cyril Loukaris and the Holy Synod proposed defrocking Metropolitan Neophytos of Corinth, who had refused to pay the harag (land tax), the zeteia (an irregular collection applied similarly to avariz), and the vakia (monies overdue from the zeteia). He was defrocked because he refused to heed the warning of the synod and ignored a previous suspension.
The problem that a metropolitan such as Neophytos posed to the patriarch was that he would not pay his share; this meant that the patriarch found himself in the difficult position of trying to gather enough money himself to pay the Imperial Treasury the agreed yearly amount. This recalls the episode of Patriarch Raphael, and of numerous patriarchs, metropolitans, and bishops thereafter. Time and again, the Ottoman state responded to requests from petitioning clergy by com­ing to their aid, and using the state’s coercive authority, to make sure that the payments were made. Even though this was the state’s response, each patriarch most likely dreaded and feared the moment he was forced to clamp down on his metropolitans and bishops through state authority to ensure their loyalty and con­tinued payment of the ecclesiastical revenues. The documentary records in Codex Beta and Gamma are full of such references.
However, an unusual development took place in the beginning of the seven­teenth century. As historian Phokion Kotzageorgis explains, it appears that by the beginning of the seventeenth century, there was a “transformation of the harag/ maktu into zara-i kassabiye” or payment of provisions of meat for the imperial gardeners corps. The form of payment and system by which it was collected appears to have changed. Nevertheless, the patriarchs and the Holy Synod continued to focus attention on the financial responsibilities of individual patriarchs toward the state. Because the Holy Synod became more involved in reviewing the financial position of individual bishops, and of the institution of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in general, it appears that the patriarchate was trying to consolidate its corporate authority over individual bishops. This was, perhaps, a first step in consolidating authority within the Church, and a first step toward developing real authority over the Greek community or millet.
In response to these financial pressures and problems, Patriarch Cyril Loukaris’ rival and three-time successor Patriarch Cyril II Kontares (1633, 1635—36, 1638—39), in May 1635 appointed a financial committee to develop a solution to the “great indebtedness weighing heavily on the Great Church.” The patriarch and Holy Synod enacted a number of measures to deal with this enduring prob­lem. First, they established a financial committee composed of five hierarchs that was to have complete control over all revenues of the Church. These revenues included the alms, zeteia, inheritances, ordination gifts, monastic revenues and fees charged to lower clergy. Second, no clergy except the patriarch, in consul­tation with other hierarchs, had permission to interfere or depose anyone. The desire of clergy seeking these positions promoted a sort of hyperactive misbehav­ior, where scandals and charges of scandals were meant to bring down hierarchs. Third, no election of a metropolitan or archbishop could be made without the approval of the financial committee. Fourth, no collection of any kind could take place in the province without the direct permission of the financial committee, and fifth, bishops could not transfer their sees without very good reason. The patriarch and his synod meant to rein in the local clergy and hierarchy and to place them under the direct supervision of the patriarchate. The fact that a com­mittee was established to prohibit these activities indicates that these must have been a rampant problem.
The overriding concern for Patriarch Cyril II Kontares was that the Church was under a huge financial burden that needed to be lifted. Because of this, the rapid deposition and succession produced the burden of the pi§ke§. However, the prob­lem with collecting the annual taxes was also extremely challenging. Patriarch Cyril II Kontares, in a sense, created an auditing committee that was intended to stop any individual from exploiting his ecclesiastical office and the perks asso­ciated with it. The problem would persist for the patriarchate, as is evident in another attempt to rein in misbehaving hierarchs at the end of the century
In May 1697, Patriarch Kallinikos II, along with Patriarch Dositheos II of Jerusalem and other hierarchs and archons, met to reaffirm the independ­ence and autonomy of the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, the Archbishoprics of Cyprus and Ohrid and Pep. They had gathered together to confirm their autonomous status, as there was a recent attempt to purchase the offices of the Church by “certain disciples of the devil” who were not named in the document out of embarrassment. One of these “disciples of the devil” was the Metropolitan of Thessalonike Methodios, who appears to have made a dangerous proposal, perhaps directly to the Divan, to purchase the ecclesiastical offices as mukataa and malikane.5 According to the patriarchal document 56, the plan was to purchase the tax farm and subsequently reap financial reward by offering the offices to the highest bidder.
In order to avoid the selling of offices, Patriarch Kallinikos II called on the other patriarchs and archbishops both to affirm their independence and to render financial assistance to the Church. In the document, after the problem was laid out, it stated that, “an appeal was made to the government, money was spent, and thus common destruction was avoided.” Being a formidable challenge to their authority, the above named hierarchs banded together to petition the Porte to disregard the new offer, and to ensure that the state would comply. They made a counteroffer and “spent money,” most likely a considerable amount, and were assured the continuity of the office-holders.
This example confirms the existence, even at such a late date as May 1697, of a form of tax farming in the ecclesiastical sphere. The interesting development is the use of the terminology of mukataa, which is a generic term for a tax farm that does not indicate the relationship with the Imperial Treasury that the term iltizam does. What is surprising in this document is that it carries the tone of frustration both with the individual who attempted to exploit the institution and also with the regime that allowed the institution to be exploited.
While the present study does not extend into the seventeenth century, it attempts to offer background, context, and explanation with which to better understand the previously published examples and studies including: the afore­mentioned ecclesiastical examples from the patriarchal archives, the work pre­sented by Halil Inalcik on the Piskopos Mukataa Kalemi that covered the years 1641—51, Josef Kabrda’s examination of the Bulgarian hierarchy from 1635 to the mid-nineteenth century, the 1678 account of Sir Paul Rycaut that even included a berat of appointment to a Latin bishop of Chios, and the study by Helmut Scheel that focused on the Metropolis of Trebizond between1732 and 1830. It is certain this list will continue to grow as a more vigorous examination of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries uncovers even more documents issued to ecclesiastical figures by the Ottoman state.
While the purpose of the present work has been to offer the history and context of a seemingly unique fiscal system—which in reality was not unique from the Ottoman fiscal administrative point of view—it has also attempted to offer social and cultural context. Beginning with the earliest interactions with Turkmen tribes, the Greek Orthodox bishops of Anatolia met multiple challenges
5 Metropolitan Methodios of Thessalonike was one of those seeking to purchase the offices. See Vaporis, Codex Gamma, 56, n. 3.
in maintaining their flocks. Their practical financial arrangements with Turkmen overlords allowed them to maintain a presence in their ecclesiastical see, despite suggestions from the patriarchal synod of Constantinople that they were being disloyal or disobedient. When the Ottomans formally took over, it became evi­dent that the Church posed certain challenges to governance, considering the Islamic restraints on taxing religious institutions. Therefore, the transition from Byzantine to Ottoman control saw a development of an ecclesiastical tax farm that became an important way to exploit an unconventional resource for income.
In the process of demonstrating how this ecclesiastical iltizam system worked, the Church was considered by the Ottomans as a fiscal institution, which can best be understood from within an Ottoman economic and social context. In turn, this context sheds light on many of the the dramatic elements of Greek Church life in the Ottoman era that have always thrilled readers of this history, such as the scandals and intrigues of the bishops, the rapid succession of patriarchs, the economic and political considerations of the Greek community, and the deci­sion making of the Ottoman government. An awareness of the Ottoman eco­nomic and social context also sheds light on the actions of the Greek community, especially by enigmatic individuals such as Michael Kantakouzenos. It is to be hoped it will also be helpful for historians researching later periods leading into the nineteenth century and the period of the Tanzimat reforms, giving them a clearer understanding of the continuities and changes that took place in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Greek Orthodox community.
It is only from the context and vantage point offered in the present work that one can understand the fact that the priests, bishops, metropolitans, and patri­archs of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Ottoman Empire, from their earliest interactions, knew well and responded to the command to render unto the sultan what is the sultan’s and unto God what is God’s.”

When a star dies

Think you may have all overdone it with the tributes to David Bowie guys.  I mean I loved the guy and his music  but I found myself noticing all his kitsch horrors rather than focusing on the good stuff.  And at the end of the day, he was quite secretive and very much…well…full of shit.  We tried to focus on his sparse moments of self depreciation and irony to survive.

Well take Iggy Pop instead then!  A man who has urinated on many of us, sung horribly and literally been naked in front of us.  His lack of voice, talent or musical knowledge never stopped him.  He boldly went were nobody wanted to go, the underbelly of modern nothingness.  He never pretended to be stylish or knowledgeable.

And as he reaches his end, he gives us a gem like this:

While others wax lyrical about the “chameleon” that was Bowie, maybe you want to take a quick look back at Iggy’s voyage.  The man just didn’t give a shit in the most creative ways possible.  Every time you wonder why he even bothered.

But like, in a good way.  I think.  Sure, the rhymes are like, well, I have always suspected his grasp of English stayed at the level of 15 year old wannabe.   So how does he do it?

Well he sucks what little talent or musical sense there is on his records from producers, collaborators and musicians.  Stone Roses, Stone cold from drugs or stones hitting on his head.  It all ends up as music of sorts.  And it’s a cry for love, a passenger, a cry for love and lust for life.

Iggy I love you.  I just wanna be your dog.