Wonderlust

Recently, a list proclaiming a new set of Wonders of the World was created. This list is the brainchild of Swiss businessman Bernard Weber, who wanted wonders that would reflect a new world, transcending tradition. The historical Seven Wonders of the World, to his credit, was pretty piss poor in its scope. I mean, they were great and impressive and all, but they only covered the Mediterranean area, and even that seemed to be restricted to about a hundred yards in every direction of the chair that Philon of Byzantium was sitting on. (And, c’mon. The Mausoleum is like the Charles in Charge of culturally significant architectural feats—yeah, I suppose it’s nice and all, but the Statue of Zeus has Tony Danza.) So enlarging the scope and time frame seemed to be a plausible and (let’s be honest) lucrative thing to do.

Of course, the wonder list was not without controversy. Egyptians, offended that they would have to defend the Pyramids of Giza, actively disdained the project. Boy, did that show everyone! Weber declared that since the Pyramids managed to stay upright for the past 4500 years or so, well, that was good enough for him, and it became the honorary 8th wonder of the world, tossing the whole carefully balanced “seven wonders” thing all to hell. Granted, there is an additional, ninth wonder, which is that a Swiss businessman would have the creativity to come up with this project in the first place.

The final seven (or eight) (or nine) were chosen by popular vote; anyone who registered got a free vote, and if you wanted to pay extra you could vote again. Sure, seems a bit odd to pay for additional votes, especially since many of the wonders are located in impoverished nations, but most metropolitan cities across the globe seem to be functioning fine under such as system, so I don’t see why it can’t work in this case.

Anyway, an objective review of the winners is required, so let’s have at it.

Chichen Itza (Mexico): Located in the Yucatan, the Chichen Itza is an icon of the Mayan civilization. At one time, it was a cultural and political center for the civilization, but evidence shows that its occupation came to a violent and strife-ridden end, a monumental testament to the grand achievements a civilization can accomplish in peace, and the price to be paid when there is war. Today, drunken college kids from spring break packages in Cancun appreciate its archeological splendor by vomiting on the stone-paved walkways and flashing the locals.

Christ the Redeemer (Brazil): It’s hard not to be impressed with the Christ Redeemer. I mean, it’s hard to top a 105-foot tall statue of the Savior. It makes the Statue of Liberty look downright sacrilegious in all her humble copper glory. Unlike Lady Liberty, though, Christ the Redeemer isn’t holding any stone tablets. Somehow, I think they missed the mark on that decision. It would have fit right in, having the statue of Christ clasping a list of the nine commandments. Here, I’m assuming in this case that the commandment concerning graven images has been repealed.

Great Wall
(China): Many people are surprised that this grand feat of engineering didn’t crack the original list. Few people realize that the reason for this was that China did not exist until Marco Polo discovered it in 1271 AD. A common urban legend states that the Great Wall is the only manmade object that can be seen from space. This is, as most things, an outright lie; there are many things that are visible from space, such as the national debt, the large, gaping hole in the logical theology of Scientology, and Gordon Brown’s sense of complete indifference. Anyway, the Great Wall managed to keep the barbarians at the gate, as it were, for several centuries, which is more than you can say for New Mexico and Hungary.

Machu Picchu (Peru): This Incan city is one of the most short-lived civic projects undertaken by a reasonably advanced civilization, being abandoned by its founders less than a hundred years after its construction, a feat matched only by the Millennium Dome. Granted, the rather quick arrival of the Spanish army may have had something to do with it, but I’d rather blame the Hearst Corporation or the metric system. Also, I hate llamas, and they run the place like the Irish run Boston. So to hell with them.

Coliseum (Rome): This one seems like a cop-out to me. Sure, I’m certain it was a grand structure in its time, but I’m also certain the resources, debt, slavery, and political maneuvering necessary wouldn’t even be close to matching what it takes to build a new sports complex in the States. I’m sure they had their own version of the “renaissance tax” to pay for its construction, a convenient lie, since throwing Christians to lions for the public’s viewing pleasuring isn’t any more of a “renaissance” than watching Barry Bonds injecting a baseball full of HGH.

Petra (Jordan): K. I’m going to be honest here. I had to look this one up. Usually anything I look at that involves the word “Petra” also involves the phrase “Russian hottie willing to do anything. Visa and Mastercard accepted.” It’s an ancient city in Jordan that tourists flock to, unless there’s any political instability in the area, which is one hundred percent of the time, in which case everyone stays the hell away. It was also the final location of the Holy Grail as evidenced in the scholarly work Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Taj Mahal (India): The Indians were pushing hard for this one. Why they’d be so impressed with a casino in Atlantic City, I’ll never know.

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