Saturday, May 26, 2007

news from the wire--by louis the plumber--"this is just not very funny"



BEIJING, CHINA—A government sponsored research initiative has discovered information that could radically change China’s perception of its place the world.

The Project for the Initiative of Learning about Various Matter for the Glorious Betterification of Primary School Text Books, or PILVMGBPSTB, was instituted to fact-check information in Chinese text books.

Prof Liu Xiang, a renowned historian at Beijing University, was chosen to head the world history research department. He claims his discoveries shocked him.

“Everywhere else in the world is also really old” said Prof. Liu. “We always learn that China has 5000 years of cultural heritage, and that therefore we are very special. It appears that other places also have some of this heritage stuff. And are also old. Like, really old.”


How do you date Chinese civilization? The Chinese written language dates back to the Shang kings, around 1500BC, while the oldest dynasty dates back to the semi-mythical Xia dynasty, around 2070BC.

But, notes Prof. Liu, the foundation of Chinese political and cultural thought has for centuries been Confucius, whose analects were transcribed sometime between 479 BC and 222BC.

Everyone in China and the rest of the world agrees that that is very old. But the surprising thing is, other places are just as old, if not more so.


Judeo-Christian culture has been dominant in the Western world since at least the 4th century AD, but the investigation revealed that this heritage can be traced back to as far as 1800BC. The Old Testament itself dates to the fifth century BC or maybe even earlier.

Greek and Roman culture and philosophy are also quite ancient, and are arguably the foundation of current political and scientific thought not just in the West, but throughout the world.

Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey were probably transcribed sometime in the 8th century BC, after having been handed down orally, generation after generation, for some five centuries.

Socrates, arguably the most influential philosopher in Greek and Western history, was born in 469 AD, just ten years after the death of Confucius—“not a very big difference,” observes Mr. Liu.


Other places in the world are also very old. Indian civilization stretches back to 3300BC. Mesopotamian, Persian, and Egyptian history also goe back thousands and thousands of years, and may very well outdate Chinese civilization by nearly a thousand years.

“Zoroaster died in 551 BC.” notes Liu. “Despite the prevalence of Islam in modern Iran, there are still a quite few Zoroastrians. Kind of like how, despite the prevalence of Marxism/unfettered-capitalism in China, there are still a quite few confucianists.”

But that’s not all.

“Australian aborigines have a rich cultural heritage that goes back 40,000 years.” Mr. Liu explains. “That’s like the oldest, ever. But I guess nobody cares about them, because there aren’t very many of them, and they’re poor. Oh, and they’re also black.”


And what about writing? As everyone knows, the Chinese writing system is very old. Do other systems come close? According to Prof. Liu, the answer is an emphatic “yes.”

The Greek, Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew systems of writing are all based on the Phoenician Alphabet, created around the 15th Century BC. Modern Chinese characters and the modern alphabets of many of the other world civilizations can therefore be traced back to roughly the same period in history.

“The only real differences” adds Prof. Liu, “are those of the geographic sort—that is, Western culture shifted its geographical focus throughout history But in these Western countries the heritage still remains quite similar and contiguous.

“In fact it could be said that highly religious areas of the United States, despite their geographic displacement from old Europe and Asia, remain closer to their cultural heritage than many places in mainland China, who for the past century have been following not Chinese, but Western political, economic, and ideological systems.”

As a response to the new information uncovered in the PILVMGBPSTB report, Beijing has already changed the text in standard high school textbooks from “China has five thousand years of cultural heritage” to “China has the longest history ever.”



Blogger davidf01 said...

as a prospective chengduian, i love the idea for your site!

especially the send-ups from the chinese media ... i was worried that when i moved to china that i would not have access to any real 'fake news' (like The Colbert Report) ... only the fake fake news (cctv/people's daily) ;-) ... but your site re-assures me that there will be a source of a local mirth & spite ;-)

consider getting your g/f to voice your PODCASTS! ... u can speak in pudonghua/english she can speak sichuanhua/english.

pls incorporate pictures (and embedded urls) of the topics/places/people/situations referred to in the language-learning podcasts ...

all the nifty tools for making podcasts EASILY or on the mac (duh) - do either of you have a mac?!

entertaining situations for the podcasts would include your girlfriend interviewing the locals in the tea-houses (about their favorite music, mahjong strategems, great gambling stories, mother-in-law stories, war stories etc).

'language' instruction in the podcast could allow listeners to click on a word of interest (which also should be transcribed with your tone mark system to be displayed in roman text & chinese character) --- so that the listener can toggle back & forth between hearing the pudonghua & the sichuanhua variations of the same word ...

i think the ipod controls can be used to manage the breakout link / the toggling / and the return link -- without requiring one to look at the ipod display ... in other words, just by the tactile feeback (ie 'feeling' the controls) from the clickwheel ... which might be more convenient (on long trips or just chillin' in bed) than all the interaction always being tied to seeing the menus on the display.

oooh! i just get all tingly thinking about all the cool things one could do with the podcast!

if were already in chengdu (where are you guys?) i would offer to be your podcast producer!

but i am not (yet) ...

so how interested are you guys in starting a podcast on your own until i can get to chengdu? (early 2008 i hope).

cheers: david

ps: one small detail -- the dates for socrates should not be AD (they should be BCE) ;-)

12:14 PM  
Blogger KMM said...

Hi David, thanks for the enthusiasm about the site and the sichuanhua primer. Right now there are no plans to make podcasts, however. I'm just working on writing the guide and recording short audio clips demonstrating certain, important aspects of sichuanhua, such as the tones, or words that highlight pronunciation differences. As things progress I will record dialogs but, again, they won't really be podcasts--it might be better to think of them as supplementary audio material for a text.

Thanks again for the comment, and feel free to leave more feedback on future installments of the primer.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Netai Biswas said...

So I'm about to Plumbing in a new shower in my mobile home. I'm ripping out the old one and not sure about how to plumb in the waterlines to the actual valve. It looks like grey pex pipe so I'm wondering if I need to use copper from the valve to the shower head or if I can use pex. Also do I need to redo the drain or if the new drain will line up with the old drain?

11:55 PM  

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