Escape from Elba
Exiles of the New York Times
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Author Topic: American History  (Read 29426 times)
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weezo
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« Reply #1020 on: September 05, 2007, 02:07:03 PM »

On what "journal of his day" did Boorstin base his information on the size of the ships? And, why is it a questionable source?

Laurie,

I too, wondered what Maddie's response had to do with the size of the ships. I think she took exception to my remark that the Chinese had taken on some of the western ideals such as greed and the pursuit of profit at any cost, which was, at least according to Boorstin, not  in accordance with their ancient philosophies that the seeking of wealth was to be avoided as detrimental to the human's striving for perfection.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #1021 on: September 05, 2007, 02:18:49 PM »

Yes, hoffman, but Dan Brown provides a list of "Facts" on the opening page, stating that "All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate."  He also firmly believes that the Priory of Sion is real, despite its creator, Pierre Plantard, admitting in a court of law that he made it up, and that the parchments Pierre and his cadres planted in the Paris Bibliotheque Nationale were forgeries. 



True, but I've always understood that was just a background to set his fictional work into.  He introduces all his books that way....sort of an aid to the suspension of disbelief.  (Apparently he doesn't trust his readers or he doesn't trust his writing.....)  Of course, lotta Christian folks out there have felt rather threatened by Brown's fiction.
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Lhoffman
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« Reply #1022 on: September 05, 2007, 02:27:55 PM »

Anne...I like Borstin's work.  His books, The Discoverers, The Seekers, and The Creators serve as good jumping off places to the subjects they cover.  And his credentials are quite good, at least on paper.  But, there is quite a bit of room for disagreement on the Menzie's work.....makes for interesting discussion.  I haven't read the book, only looked at his site.

But, I think I would buy Dzimas' thinking on the size of the ships.  I believe he is an architect, and even though ship design is quite different than structural design, I would guess he has a good grasp of the structural difficulties that a project of this size would entail.

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caclark
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« Reply #1023 on: September 05, 2007, 03:37:33 PM »

Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, while admittedly a work of fiction, did help popularize and hence lend credibility to the bogus history put forward in Holy Blood, Holy Grail. How long until Brown or some other fiction writer takes on Menzies’ 1421 as a creative venture?

Pseudo historians like Menzies, Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln do not write for the student of history. Their target audience is a general readership which reads for pleasure. Sounds harmless enough but it can do much to perpetuate gross misperceptions about history leaving professional historians to grin and bear it.

One good example which Dzimas previously pointed out was Washington Irving’s so-called biography of Christopher Columbus which portrays Columbus as the debunker of myth who set out to prove that the world was round. Because Irving was the most popular American writer of his day, it took hold in popular imagination and several generations of American school children grew up with that stupid belief.
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caclark
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« Reply #1024 on: September 05, 2007, 03:39:35 PM »

On the other side of the ledger, the acclaimed novelist Evan Connell was approaching 60 when he departed from fiction to write a book about General George Custer and the events leading up to the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. He was thoroughly professional in his research and presentation and when Son of the Morning Star was published, it won praise from historians. An even better example than Connell is Bernard DeVoto who after an unspectacular stint as a novelist found his true calling in writing history.

If there actually was a Chinese voyage to the Americas in 1421, historians would be more excited than anyone else to find out more about it. They were not being territorial or turf-protective in greeting Menzies’ 1421 with scorn. They’ve just seen his kind before.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2007, 03:59:15 PM by caclark » Logged
thanatopsy
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« Reply #1025 on: September 05, 2007, 04:01:01 PM »

``Menzies' book is not classified as history, but as geography/travel.``

He obviously failed to put Puerto Rico on his travel agenda and should consider it for his next voyage. Believe you me, it's a great place to visit. And for those who enjoy surfing, Rincon is acknowledged as one of the world's greatest places for the sport.  It is in the northwestern part of the island, just a few miles north of my birthplace.
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« Reply #1026 on: September 05, 2007, 04:45:59 PM »

weezo, re:#1077
"Based on the information in Chapter 26 of Boorstin's book, the Cultural Revolution that Maddie disdained sounds like the westernization of China. Read it, and gain new respect for Chinese culture!!"


Where did I say that?  I said that you were equating "Westernization" with "the Cultural Revolution" and are apparently not able to tell the difference, although the Cultural Revolution was an event that took place prior to the trip of Henry Kissinger to talk with Chou En Lai and open up contact and dialogue before larger problems developed.  If the Chinese were so ready to engage in bloodletting as class warfare, there was obviously a necessity  to begin diplomatic communications before they extended their cultural enthusiasm to include us as a target in their critical classification.
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madupont
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« Reply #1027 on: September 05, 2007, 04:48:57 PM »

Ps. weezo

I am trying to clarify that if you are to find out further information, you must stop translating through your own cultural bias: by understanding that they do take exception to
"Westernization" used as an adjective to describe Modernization.
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weezo
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« Reply #1028 on: September 05, 2007, 05:39:09 PM »

Maddie,

I'm not sure of your point. I was intending for the term "westernization" as an adjective to describe the loss of their historical culture of excellence and embracing the goals of profit at any cost, to be less than flattering. Mattel has anounce the third recall of toys due to lead-containing paint for this year. I feel for the many children whose toys are being trashed for their own safety, and wonder if the lead paint was around long enough to diminish the mental capabilities of the current generation of children. Lead is deadly to the brain of a developing child. According to a news release on the second recall, Mattel said the supplied the Chinese manufacturers with the proper paint but it was substituted by the deadly paint. Rather than presume it was an attempt to dumb down our kids, I prefer to presume it was due to the desire for excessive profits - a westernization of their culture! If you prefer to call this a modernization, feel free to do so. I'm not sure that setting up profit as a statue of worship is "modernizing".


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madupont
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« Reply #1029 on: September 05, 2007, 07:26:17 PM »

In that case, I go back to my original desire to comment;that it is not my terminology: "modernization" substituting for "westernization. In the same way that you attributed "disdain", to giving you the short history of why cultural revolution is not to be confused with either.

No, I am trying to clarify that if you are to find out further information, you must stop translating through your own cultural bias -- which is to say something of the kind:"as an adjective to describe the loss of their historical culture of excellence and embracing the goals of profit at any cost,...".

In the first place, they did not suffer a loss of their historical culture  of excellence. That is to give them a back-handed compliment which genuinely reveals bias originating from self.  The second part of your statement is the projection"embracing the goals of profit at any cost".

That is an interesting slant on describing what they consider economic warfare. I ask you, where do you get this information?

You may "prefer to presume" all you want to that "it was  due to the desire for excessive profits -- a westernization of their culture!" Just feel free to stop buying from Walmart. That was the lesson that I learned from a Chinese kindergarten-aged child coming from his Japanese violin lesson to visit my house in possibly 1974 -75 with his mother Yu Hua Lai. The kid looked around and then looked up and asked, "How come you have so many Chinese things?"  Good question. As I said, that teacher taught me a lot. Her husband was at the local university trying to assist (granted he was from Taiwan) in teaching the protocol when doing business with the Chinese. I listened one day, by stepping into the auditorium, as his white American counterparts on the platform  caused him "to lose face" because he was not delivering what they preferred to hear about the plans they as Americans had made to instantly profit in excess  by importing, which was the policy that took effect --after the Chinese had signed the Shanghai Communique which explicitly agreed there would be no seeking of Hegemony among the parties involved in the signing.

I watched, as he quietly left the auditorium.  And I feel that you are insulting my intelligence and your own when you do not acknowledge that it is our government that has gutted the funding of the safety net from the taxes which we have paid for that precaution of examining product safety, while our government then gave American corporations a free ride discount, in the name of hastening smaller government. This has happened repeatedly for the last seven years plus and you still believe everything they tell you, when it is in their self interest to lie to you about who is poisoning your children, unexamined meat crossing our northern border, unexamined drugs produced in this country, unexamined graft to politicians who do not require safety standard in the inspections necessary to meet federal emergencies, uncritical ideas in teaching that are neither scientific nor anything else.

It's nothing personal, just open your eyes and your mind and stop accepting egregious propaganda

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Bob
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« Reply #1030 on: September 05, 2007, 08:16:30 PM »

On the question of the size of a Treasure Ship: I am far from being "in the know" on things like this, but  in reading other pieces on the Treasure fleet, there were a fair number of legitimate historians who used the figure of 400 feet.  What I want to do in this post is to uise an outside source published in 1994 by Oxford University Press--a pretty snooty press---under the title WHEN CHINA RULED THE SEAS: THE TREASURE FLEET OF THE DAGON THRONE, by Louise Levathes. Her booki is a serious study of the Treasure Fleet and does not even bring up the American question (Which says a lot to me since she covers all the  voyages reputed to have taken place).

Anyhow, she says the boats were 44 zang 4 chi  long and 18 zang wide. She then discusses the length of a Chinese foot--a chi--which she puts at 12.129 inches or 13.38 inches depending on which system is used and comes up with a figure of 448.8 to 493.5 feet long. She admits "the boat would be difficult to maneuver, if indeeed it were seaworthy, which seems doubtful." (See page 80). Next she says that "based on actual shipbuilding chi unearted in Fujisn Province , which varied in length  from 10.53 inches to 11.037 inches, the largest of the Treasure ships is now thought to be about 390 and 408  feet long and 160 to 166 feet wide." (Levathes , page 80). ( NB 10 chi= 1 zang )

Quite honestly I do not know what to make of all of that except  she seems to be a legitimate outside  source, whatever that may mean.

She even goes into how the ships  were constructed. She suggests there might have been only 4 such humongous vessels ever built and that the rest of the fleet contained ships of varying sizes ranging  from 339 x 138 down to 120 x 128-- with sizes like 257 x 115 and 220 x80 and 165 feet in length  in between the two extremes.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2007, 08:33:29 PM by Bob » Logged
Bob
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« Reply #1031 on: September 05, 2007, 08:30:05 PM »

Now, for those really "into this" here's the cited source for the material in the above  post:

Quote
Chen Yanghang's "Zhen He bao chuan wei fuchan xin kao" (a new study on Zhen He's treasure ships being fuchan), in ZHEN HE YU FUNG, at page 92
On Fujian chi: Chen Yenhang et al, "Zheng He bao chuan fuyuan yanjiu" (Research on the reconstruction of Zheng He's treasure ship),Chuan shi yanjiu (Studies in shipbuilding history), 2 (1986) Huai chi and Mong gong bu chi: Chen Yenhang, personal correspondence, March 17 1993.

These excerpts are from notes  found on page 215 of  WHEN CHINA RULED THE SEAS.
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weezo
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« Reply #1032 on: September 05, 2007, 08:45:45 PM »

Maddie,

I am beginning to wonder if you have me mixed up with another poster.
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weezo
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« Reply #1033 on: September 05, 2007, 10:39:43 PM »

Bob,

Thanks for turning me onto the Discoverers. I spent the evening reading the First Book - on Time .... Never knew it was so complicated to figure out how time works, we just take it so for granted now.

It is interesting how both longitude and time were based on the Babylonian mathematical system of units of sixty instead of 100. I guess I should go back and re-read how Menzies said the Chinese figured out Longitude without a clock to measure time precisely. It was complicated, and I sorta skimmed through it.

Interesting how the Chinese perceived the clock as a toy for the emperor rather than a public device for the community. Sorta reminds me of an old fairy tale about an emperor who had a nightingale who sang him to sleep each night, until he got a jeweled mechanical bird that pleased him more. When the mechanical bird stopped working, the real nightingale was long gone. Oops, there I go a-meandering......

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« Reply #1034 on: September 05, 2007, 11:16:31 PM »

Evidently, Menzies did mention reports of Chinese travel at least 1000 miles upriver in the Mississippi --- p 464. He also goes on to say that they traveled well into the Amazon River as well. I don't know how these waters could be navigable by ocean going vessels but he remains convinced that they succeeded.  He even suggest that they traveled to Wisconsin and Michigan --- p 473.

Interestingly, he makes reference to a lost explorer named Fawcett -- just as in today's news.

He concludes by saying that it is the reader who remakes history. Earlier I mentioned the radio show  ''Coast to Coast'' which is frequently hosted by right winger Art Bell.  Believe it or not he says that the Federal government has proof that there is a gigantic pyramid on the dark side of the moon.  Well, people are free to believe what they wish. 

Gotta hand it to Menzies --- the man is funny as well.  1421 is an amusing tale and is worth reading for escapist purposes.  And if people choose to believe its premises, that's just fine with me. Wink

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