CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 29, 2015 – Ancient civilizations plus a bit of word play dominate our weekly pursuit of all things trivial today.
1 – Is the Taj Mahal disappearing?: When Emperor Shah Jahan had the Taj Mahal built in the 17th century, it became one of the greatest shrines in the history of the world. The Taj, a symmetrical mausoleum constructed as a tribute to the emperor’s beloved wife, is rapidly eroding and has become a source of controversy among the citizens of its home city of Agra, India.
Over the decades the Taj Mahal has survived Mogul rule and British colonialism, but today pollution from surrounding factories is eating away at the soft marble. Some experts say that if something is not done quickly the building may become little more than a ruin within the next five years.
Already the Indian government has been forced to replace one of the monument’s marble slabs. For the moment, the government has been attempting to slow the erosion by using chemicals to wash it.
The primary culprit is the sulfur dioxide spewing into the air from nearby factories. Fumes from trucks and buses using three nearby highways are adding to the problem.
A third factor is the influx of visitors themselves, who number more than 25,000 per day.
The debate arises between the thousands of people such as souvenir vendors, bicycle-rickshaw pedalers, hoteliers, shopkeepers and taxi drivers whose livelihood is derived from the Taj as compared to the population of about a million who receive no income at all from the site.
Despite the controversy, plans are underway to install floodlights to illuminate the Taj at night and a possible cable-car system that will offer a panoramic view.
Though five years seems to be a scare tactic assessment, it appears that “Agra-culture“ is not always welcome.
2 – Funny how time slips away: Speaking of ancient civilizations, consider that we often lump Rome, Egypt and Greece into the same frame of reference when we discuss the evolution of man’s influence upon the world. Here’s an interesting fact that most people probably realize but never really think about. The Great Pyramid of Giza, also known as the Pyramid of Cheops or the Pyramid of Khufu, is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids near Cairo.
It is also the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one to remain, for the most part, intact.
Based upon estimates by Egyptologists, it took between 10 and 20 years to build the Great Pyramid, which was completed around 2560 B.C. Now recall that the Roman Empire began in roughly 27 B.C., which means that the time difference between the Roman Empire and today is actually shorter than the span between the building of the pyramids and the days of Julius Caesar!
In fact, the Greek philosopher Socrates was born about 470 B.C, meaning that the timeline between the pyramids and Greece was about the same length as that of Rome and the year 2015.
Thus, even the Romans looked back at Egypt as an ancient civilization.
Now that’s old.
3 – Word play with paraprosdokians: So what exactly is a “paraprosdokian”? Thanks to Mental Floss, it is a linguistic term in which the last part of a sentence is unexpected based upon the terminology of the first part of the sentence.
Such expressions have been around for years in another form, which is much easier to say thanks to a Baseball Hall of Fame catcher who played for the New York Yankees, Yogi Berra. Just call them “Yogi-isms.”
We have all heard the expression “The game ain’t over until it’s over.” That came from loveable Mr. Berra, who was a master of paraprosdokians. Given the evolution of political spin, paraprosdokians are a growing phenomenon in the English language. Here is a list of five good ones with a kicker saved for last.
“If I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong,” is attributed to Sir Winston Churchill.
Twentieth-century philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell gets credit for this one, though probably by mistake. “War does not determine who is right…only who is left.”
Thanks to a Welsh comedian and magician for “I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not sure.”
Back on the American side of the big pond, “If I could just say a few words…I’d be a better public speaker” is attributed to Homer Simpson.
Actor and comedian Hugh Herbert once stated, “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”
And finally, this classic from Mitch Hedberg. “One time a guy handed me a picture and said ‘Here’s a picture of me when I was younger.’ Every picture is of you when you were younger!”
Bye, until next week.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News
Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod