The Heavenly Temple, the City Wall, and the Karaoke

Today we visited the Heavenly Temple (Tiantan) and went to Karaoke. We did all this in the worst smog of our trip. Remember the image of the obscured Forbidden City in yesterday’s pictures? Well, I caught this one:

Tiantan (Sky Temple), Obscured by Sky Pollution

The trip also featured ScaryBegger(TM) (not pictured). The guy was crawling, with notable gashes on his legs, and pulling on people’s pants while speaking Chinese. My companions were very skeptical, and mentioned that many beggers will injure themselves to increase their proceeds. Whether this guy was attacked by others, or disease, or himself, the site was macabre and arabesque.

The traincar attempted to shun him, by pulsating this way and that as he crawled, begged, and pulled. It seemed very Biblical, very 2000 years ago. I’ve noted the often Dickensonian character of Beijing before (see also the picture of shanties below), but this was worse.

Yet through all this, the guy standing next me was listening to music on his very nice cell phone, as he instant messaged a friend. China isn’t just all over the 20th century. It’s all over time.

While we spent four ours at karaoke, the main focus of our trip was Tiantan. Tan simple means temple, but Tian means Heaven, Heavenly or Sky. CS Lewis in Out of the Silent Planet argued that separating Heaven and Sky was a modern mistake, and if so the Chinese language has avoided this bumbling. It’s also a good time to plug my incoherent reviews of Lewis’ Perelandra and Heiser’s The Facade, which are books that also argue against separating the natural and supernatural.

Anyway, enough of my thoughts for today. Pictures!:


Another Beautiful Smoggy Day in Beijing

My City Survival Kid: Gatorade, Water, Vitamin C, Multivitamins, and a Smog Mask

A Sign of a Growing City: Apartments Everywhere

A Sign of a Healthy Economy: Trash Left by Construction Workers

Waiting for friends, interacted with children and old people at a local park. This little boy, and this little boy alone, was terrified

A Children’s Prison (that is, a Preschool/Kindergarten)

On the Train to the City, My Natural Enemy (a Smokestack) amid Smog

Construction Cranes and Smog from the Train


I am now an official Beijinger: I helped that woman (a Chinese) work the automatic, magnetic ticket-taker at the transfer station

These guys are my heroes. They were shouting: “Let the people off the subway before you enter,” over and over again. Few seemed to pay attention, but I liked the thought.

In this subway car I met ScaryBegger(TM) (see above)

A Street Scene

Most of Tiantan reminded me of McKennan Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

More McKennan Park Tiantan Park in Beijing

Yes, Tiantan is this beautiful and yes, the pollution was this bad.

Approaching the Temple

The Heavenly Temple Looks Out on a Polluted City

OK, McKennan Park doesn’t have this view

Lots of Stairs

Cows Died Here

Looking Back at the Temple

Places Built by Emperors Took a Long Time to Navigate

Even Farther Along

The Circular Mound Altar, which made me remember the far more natural Spirit Mound outside Vermillion, South Dakota

A Common Theme of Historical Places in Beijing is that Most of their areas are Unused

Random Guy, Standing on the Center of Circular Mound, looks at a fuzzy metropolis

A Side Entrance of the Mound. Note the large red watch lantern on the left-hand side

Gates, the Echo Temple, and the Main Temple. The gates of the echo temple are one of the many places in the world (there’s another such scam in Sioux Falls) where supposedly if you talk to the wall someone can here you on the other side. Many experiments and observations led us, tour guides to the contrary, to declare that this “works” by having the frustrated person shout loud enough to be heard across the yard anyways.

Two of the Three Watching Lanterns were cut down by China’s Benedict Arnold, who declared himself Emperor and attempted to overthrow the new-borne Republic of China.

On the way from Tiantan to Karaoke we accidentally passed the Ming-Era Wall of Beijing. The. The City Wall was built by the Yuan in in the 13th century, repaired by the Ming in the 16th, and smashed by Mao in the 20th. These remnants give a taste of what it was once like.

An Imposing Portion of the Wall

The Wall Over an Overpass


The Setting was Infinitely More Formal than I Imagined. Envision an extremely class hotel, where servants help you do everything, each one very classily dressed. That’s what you go through to fail to sing old songs (if you speak English) or contemporary songs (anyone else).

Our Karaoke Room, Afterwards

The Towering Canyons of Beijing (Walking to the Subway)

Smoggy Sunset

Traffic Jam. Luckily, we bypassed this with the subway — happily ScaryBegger(TM) free this time!

Redefining the Gap 9, Methods and Operationalizations

Note: This is a selection from Redefining the Gap, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06


Poverty will be measured by GDP per capita, measured by purchasing power parity (CIA 2006c). Estimates are recent, with most being from 2004 or 2005. The information is listed in US Dollars. My study will scale GDP per capita so that poorest value is 0 and the richest value is 1. For each state, it’s value will be calculated by taking the difference between that state’s value and the lowest state’s value, divided by the difference between the highest state’s value and the lowest state’s value. The logic to read in and scale this data is included in the appendix, particularly in the function scaleData().

Nastiness will be measured by a state’s Freedom in the World measure (Freedom House 2006). Freedom House uses two 7-point scales for political freedoms and civil rights. The most repressive, and thus “nastiest,” regimes would score a 7 on both counts, while the least nasty would score 1. This study will take the mean of the two values and scale them, with the most free state having a score of “1” and the least free state having a score of “0.” The logic to read in and scale this data is included in the appendix.

Shortness will be measured by life expectancy (CIA 2006d). Estimates are recent, with all dating from 2006. The information is listed in years. The study will scale life expectancy so that shortest value is “0” and the longest value is “1.” The logic to read in and scale this data is included in the appendix.

Brutality will be calculated from the International Crisis Behavior project (CIDCM 2006). Wars which have been fought at least in part after 1992 will be considered. Wars are considered dyadic. Brutality will be measured as the sum of wars per year. For example, a state that is involved in two wars each against two states that each last two years would have a brutality score of “8.” The study will then scale the scores, with the least brutal state having a score of 0 and the most “brutal” state having a score of 1. The logic to read and scale this data is included in the appendix.

Solitariness will be measured by the number of Internet hosts in a country per capita. This will be derived from two different measures: the number of Internet hosts per country divided by each country’s population (CIA 2006b; CIA 2006e). The population of Internet hosts and people are both estimated down to individual hosts and persons. All estimates of Internet hosts date form 2005 while all estimates of population date are for July 2006. The result will then be scaled, with the state with the highest number of Internet hosts per capita as “1,” and the state with the lowest number as “0.” The logic to read and scale this data is included in the appendix.

The model will contain eight dependent variables, with two of them relating directly to Barnett’s “new map.” All will be ordinal values, with the lowest values referring to the Gap (or its supposed equivalent), and the highest values referring to the Functioning Core (or its supposed equivalent). Three of the variables will have two possible variables, while the other five will have three.

The first dependent variables look at are Barnett’s models. Barnett has described his cartography in two different ways: as comprising a “Functioning Core” and a “Non-Integrating Gap,” as well as of comprising an “Old Core,” a “New Core,” and the “Gap.” The difference is that the more detailed model separates peripheral or newly developed economies — Argentina, South Africa, South Korea, etc. – from the Cold War pillars of North America, Western Europe, and Japan. The binary variable will rate the Gap as 0 and the Core as 1. The ternary variable will rate the Gap as 0, the New Core as 1, and the Old Core as 2.

As Barnett’s PNM model is essentially a critical North-South view of the world, most of the other dependent variables for rival hypotheses will be taken from other concepts that are analogous to the Global South – the Non-Aligned Movement and the Third World (Holm 1990:2). Additionally, one more will be added to address a cultural and race based criticism of Barnett’s map.

The Nonaligned Movement

The next four variables relate to an International Organizational definition of the global south. It relies on two NGOs, the G77 and the G24. The G77 is an organization of undeveloped countries, and the G24 is its executive steering committee. G77 nations are assumed to be similar to Barnett’s “Gap,” while G24 to his “New Core.” Therefore, the binary variable for this shall map the G77 to 0 and the rest of the world to 1. The ternary variable will rate nations only in the G77 as 0, states in the G77 and G24 as 1, and all other states as 2. Dependent variables for the Non-Aligned Movement and its executive steering committee, the G-15, will be calculated in the same fashion. The G77 and the Nonaligned Movement are of about the same age, though the G77 traditionally has a broader membership (Geldart and Lyon 1980-1981:80), so it makes sense to examine both of these alternatives.

The Group of Seventy-Seven

An “international group” perspective will be used to divide countries into Least Developed Nations, Less Developed Nations, and the rest of the world (CIAa 2006a). The measures of Least Developed Countries (LLDCs) and Less Developed Countries (LDCs) originate at the United Nations. The distinction is meant to separate countries which have a reasonable chance of developing with those facing severe structural maladies (Horowitz 1985-1986:47).The same ternary and binary divisions will be used for these are as predicted. When viewed binarily, LLDc and LDCs will both be valued at 0, with other states valued at 1. Viewed as ternary, LLDCs will have the value of 0, LDCs of 1, and all other states of 2.

The term Global South originated in part as a reaction against the fading “Third World” model that was born in the 1950s. This model will use this model, taking as its definition of “worlds” from a map. Formerly and currently Communist states, from Poland to Vietnam, are in the Second World and labeled “2.” The United States and other “free” states are in the First World and labeled 1. The rest of the world, which closely matches traditional views of the Global South, is measured at 3.
One more possible dependent variable, this one binary, will calculated. This addresses the concern that the “new map” is essentially just an encirclement of Africa and majority Muslim states, with the rest of the “Gap” (the Caribbean, South-East Asia, etc) as more-or-less superfluous. An earlier version of Barnett’s work made this explicit, “with only Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa trapped on the outside, noses pressed to the glass” (Barnett 2004:109). This variable will label as “0” any state in either the Organization of Islamic States or the African Union, and label all other states as 1. The often culturally destructive actions of newly independent African states (Beckstrom 1974:698) and their stagnating economies (Hentz 1997:32), as well as increasing instability through much of the Arab (Sayigh 1991:487) and Muslim (Menon 1995:154) world, argue that this alternative is a reasonable one.

The following specific predictions are made:

1.The Core-Gap binary variable will have have a positive correlation to each of the individual variables.
2.The Old-Core-New-Core-Gap ternary variable will have a positive correlation to each of the independent variables.
3.The Core-Gap binary variable will have a higher correlation to each of the independent variables than any of the other binary dependent variables.
4.The Old-Core-New-Core-Gap ternary variable will have a higher correlation to each of the independent variables than any of the other ternary dependent variables.
5.The Old Core-New Core-Gap ternary variable will have a higher correlation to each of the independent variables than the Core-Gap binary variable.

Redefining the Gap, a tdaxp series:
Redefining the Gap 1. Prologue
Redefining the Gap 2. Summary
Redefining the Gap 3. Introduction to Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 4. First Geopolitical Theories
Redefining the Gap 5. The North and the South
Redefining the Gap 6. Critical Geopolitics
Redefining the Gap 7. The Pentagon’s New Map
Redefining the Gap 8. The Research Design
Redefining the Gap 9. Methods and Operationalizations
Redefining the Gap 10. Limitations and Conclusion
Redefining the Gap 11. Results
Redefining the Gap 12. Bibliography
Redefining the Gap 13. Appendix: Computer Code
Redefining the Gap 14. Appendix: National Codes