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Posts Tagged ‘Chinese history

“The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there”*…

 

An ancient city made of intricately carved stone sits silent at the bottom of a lake, a replica of Paris complete with an Eiffel Tower is eerily empty, and a city leveled by disaster has been cordoned off indefinitely as a memorial to those who were lost. China might just be home to more ghost cities than any other nation on earth, and most of them are of the modern variety, as the push for economic progress has led developers to get a bit ahead of themselves constructing vast communities, malls and amusement parks that never caught on with the public…

See them all at Web Urbanist’s “Great Ghost Cities: 7 Eerie Abandoned Wonders of China.”

* Eric Hoffer

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As we listen for an echo, we might recall that it was on this date in 960 that Zhao Kuangyin became Emperor Taizu of Song– the first ruler of the Song Dynasty, a period of Chinese history that lasted more than three centuries.  A distinguished military leader under the Later Zhou Dynasty, Zhao came to power via a coup d’état that forced the young Emperor Gong to abdicate.  During his reign, Zhao reunified most of China proper, effectively ending the chaotic Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period.

 source

In Praise of “Other”: The Librarian as Film Star…

 

Is it any wonder that older friends and relatives abroad still ask, when learning that one is from the Western U.S.: do you know any cowboys?  Anyone with a sense of America formed from the movies that have been this nation’s leading cultural ambassador for most of the last century might well assume that we are a nation of wranglers, gangsters, reporters, and lawyers.

The invaluable Moira Finnie, blogger for TCM, moderator of the online forum Silver Screen Oasis and proprietor of the blog Skeins of Thought, strikes a blow for the unsung, singling out the librarian:

This rumination on work in the movies began while I was reading the new memoir, Quiet Please, (Da Capo Press). The author offers a look at the experiences of a young, male, very contemporary librarian named Scott Douglas from the other side of the reference desk…  One amusing section of the book concerned the fact that Douglas felt that there was a serious dearth of librarians as role models in the movies. Sure, to the average person, “Marian the Librarian” in The Music Man (1964) may be the quintessential movie librarian. You know the type, frosty on the outside, potentially a molten hottie and closet romantic on the inside, all the while that “Prof. Harold Hill” is hoping she’s really that “sadder but wiser girl” he’s hoping to find in the hinterlands of Iowa during his travels…

Except for Noah Wyle’s three made-for-tv excursions as…(dramatic pause)…the nebbishy but dashing “Flynn Carsen” in The Librarian movies, there do seem to be paltry few positive images of librarians in the movies, especially for males…

So begins a delightful survey of librarians on screen:  “One of the Invisible Professions.”

Library Science teacher Ann Robinson pausing for a reflective smoke with Gene Barry before the destruction of the human race proceeds in The War of the Worlds (1953).

 

As we refrain from unnecessary noises, we might recall that it was on this date in 1271 that Kublai Khan renamed his empire “Yuan,” officially marking the end of the Song Dynasty (though Southern Song wasn’t fully conquered until 1276) and the start of the Yuan Dynasty of (Mongolia and) China.  The Yuan Dynasty was a period of consolidation and centralization, and encouragement of science, technology, and trade, creating the China that Marco Polo found at the end of the Silk Road.  It was also the period during which China developed drama and the novel, and saw a marked increased in the use of the written vernacular.

Kublai Khan (source)

 

Written by LW

December 18, 2011 at 1:01 am

Leggo my Lego…

Readers will recall The Antikythera Mechanism (“A Connecticut Yankee in King Agamemnon’s Court?…“), the oldest known scientific computer, which was built in Greece probably around 100 BCE.   It was recovered from a shipwreck in 1900; but its purpose remained a mystery for over a century, until archeologists and scientists realized its ingenious intent: it’s an extraordinarily-accurate astronomical clock that determines the positions of celestial bodies– an analog computer with over 100 gears and 7 differential gearboxes– accurate to a day or two over its range.

Andrew Carol has rebuilt the device…  in Lego:

Read the story and see photos here.   And for extra fun, check out Carol’s Lego homage to Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine.  As he says of his work,

Having always loved complex mechanical devices, and never having fully outgrown LEGO, I decided to explore where computational mechanics and LEGO meet. This is not LEGO as toy, art, or even the MindStorms® fusion of LEGO and digital electronics. This is almost where Steampunk and LEGO meet. Hand cranked devices that perform complex mechanical tasks.

[TotH to Universe Today]

As we revel in the satisfaction of making round pegs fit, we might recall that it was on this date in 1271 that Genghis Khan’s grandson and Coleridge’s celebratee Kublai Khan renamed his empire “Yuan,” officially marking the start of the Yuan Dynasty of Mongolia and China.  By 1279, the Yuan army had defeated the last resistance forces of the Song Dynasty, which it succeeded.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree

 

 

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