Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Geographical Goofs

The Great Wall of China is just a big ol' lie. Anything you've thought that you knew about the Great Wall of China is probably not true. That is, unless all you know is that it's a wall that is located within China. If that's all you've got, you're good. A little simple minded perhaps, but good. If you know more than how to give basic definitions of words, then you're in for a surprise, because that 'great wall' is really a 'great lie'.

Actually, the Great Wall of China really should be the basis for determining when it is appropriate to use the word 'great' when describing something other than that particular wall. The Great Wall of China is really, really long. It was built as a means of protection from attacks by those to the North. Considering it was built between 1368-ish and 1644-ish and runs about 5,500 miles, that's definitely the product of someone who had confidence in their ideas and the product of people who definitely did not have the Internet to screw around on all the live long day.

But something like that really is 'great' in every sense of the word. Now, compare the ways that you throw the word 'great' around every day and tell me if you think that you're really using it in the most appropriate sense. Your kid gets a 'B+' on his test and you say, "That's great!" Then you look at the Great Wall of China and you think, "That's great! What'd he do? Study for an hour and get a B+? That's not great! That's not great at all! Hey! Get back in here! That wasn't so great after all! Get out in the yard and build me a wall so I can't see that annoying neighbor anymore and then we'll talk a little greatness for ya there, all right?" It's either that or you start calling it "The Holy Effing Crap It's A Really Long Wall In China" and let all of the B+ slackers continue to refer to themselves as "great". Your choice.

And back to the Great Big Lie of a Wall. Haven't you always heard that it's the only man-made structure that's visible from space? It's not. Nope. It's a lie. I'm just not sure what the lie is about. Sometimes, apparently, you can't see the thing at all. In fact, in 2004 the first astronaut from China claimed he couldn't see the Great Wall at all! (Yes, 2004. It took them until 2004 to get one of their guys to sit on someone else's space craft and end up on the space station. How is that possible? All they had to do was sit there! If someone else is building your spacecraft, why would it take you until 2004 before you sat down and rode on it? It's not like it's hard to do. I'm sitting on a chair made by someone else right now! It was not a problem for me to do this! What's up with the Chinese that it took them forever to figure that out about their space travel? I don't know either, but I do know that I digress. Where was I?....Oh, yeah. All the lying. Carry on.)

After all of the non-seeing by the first Chinese astronaut, NASA piped up and said that there were a lot of different things that you could see from space and that the Great Wall was just one of them! You can see pyramids, you can see the Great Wall, you can see Houston. Wait. Houston? How'd that get in there? Oh, right. NASA. Wow. Talk about 'one of these things is not like the others.' So it wasn't the only thing you could see from space, but you could see it. (Thanks for nothing, China.) So that should clear up Lie Number One. The Great Wall? Only kind of great in that regard.

But if you're talking in regards to the length of the Great Wall, it's definitely great. 5,500 miles! Granted, it was constructed during two separate dynasties (and if you're thinking that the two dynasties are Dynasty and Falcon Crest, well, you'd be wrong) so it's not exactly the most linear structure that you'll ever see. It's not even the most unbroken structure that you'll ever see. I have the feeling that it's a wonder they got it to function as much like a wall as they did given the seemingly un-wall-like structure of the thing. Behold!

What the hell is that? It's a mess! That was supposed to keep others out of China? I don't think it did. It seems clear to me that whoever was in charge of this was simply trying to keep folks busy. There's no other reason for a "wall" to look like a Spirograph drawing gone horribly awry. And what's with that little part up there coming down from Russia and heading into Mongolia? It's not like you can't just walk your army right around the end of that sucker! What good could that possibly have done?

Perhaps the fact that the Great Wall of China is completely higgledy-piggledy is the reason that they just now, just the other day, found more wall! How do you lose a wall?! Especially a wall that is allegedly so freaking great?! I really don't get that. But here's the deal: It would seem that parts of the wall (and, judging from the graphic above, there are plenty of those) can't be seen any more. They're just not there. Apparently sandstorms cover up a bunch of the wall in places. Sandstorms? Wait a minute.

This is where none of this begins to make sense to me. You mean to say that this massive wall which goes in every direction known to mankind, all of a sudden just stops in various places and folks just assumed that was it? They were at the end? Nothing more to see? Went home? If the wall suddenly stopped, what were you thinking had happened? Why wouldn't you dig for the rest of it right then? It didn't get up and walk away on it's own (it's not that great!). Thus, that only leaves one other place for it to be, right? You'd think so! I'd think so! I guess those who are in charge of all of the length determining of the Great Wall did not think so and just got around to finding more!

And we're not talking a couple of feet or anything. We're talking hundreds of miles! How do you not know that there is a couple of hundred miles of something right in front of you? The wall just stopped and those folks just left it at that and called it a day, eh? So, so very odd. The folks over there at Reuters "...researchers spent over two years surveying the wall, using GPS positioning systems, infrared technology and other mapping techniques, to create the most comprehensive picture to date." Huh. "Shovel" seems to be noticeably absent from their list of wall finding devices there. And even though they just found more wall, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (Known in anagram world as "SACH") still says that "Around 2,000 km, almost one third, of the original wall has vanished altogether." Hey. Wait a minute.

How can they even say that? They just found hundreds of miles of wall! But yet they're certain that some parts are just gone for good?! What makes those parts that aren't there any different from the parts that they just found that you didn't think were there either? Because they both sound pretty similar to me. Both are in China. Both are parts of a wall. Both were missing. One still is. (And here is where the similarities pretty much stop. Once you lose one of the things you were comparing, it's really hard to continue that comparison sans one wall, you know?)

But they're still mapping over there and I'm guessing they're going to find more wall. According to a one Chen Jun, who is the president of the National Geomatics Center, "This is significant because the Great Wall is like a name card for the Chinese people. People who have never come to China all know the Great Wall." Yeah, well, we thought we knew the Great Wall. But now we find out it was all a lie! And that wasn't the only one either! It's all wrong! Lies, I tell you! Lies!
They'll find more next week. I'm sure of it. Oh, and by the way, higgeldy-piggeldy means 'a real mess'.

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1 comment:

grannyann said...

Now that is fascinating. The way that map looks, its a wonder they can find anything but if you are walking on it and all of a sudden it is not there you would think they would dig. If there is nothing to dig then there is only one conclusion - someone stole it. They should have been suspicious when all those people were having trouble lifting their suitcases at the airport. Those souvenir snatchers can be pretty sneaky.