Friday, September 28, 2007

Whither Europe?

A Manifesto commenter made me start thinking about something- why is there a Europe? First though, I'd like to link a VERY eye-opening article I just read about weight-loss (that transition almost sounded like a newsbroadcast.) I don't care about weight-loss, so me finding this article interesting says a lot about the article. This article makes an overwhelmingly persuasive case that exercise has no effect on weight loss on the aggregate. It's pretty shocking, but it really seems like they may be right. Read it here.

Okay, so why is there a Europe? Let me preface this first by saying that John and I have traveled somewhat extensively and have plenty of European friends. I mean, we're totally comfortable with it- you can go shopping with them, go to the clubs, whatevah. Your coworkers, your brothers, your mom and dad might be Europeans and just haven't been open about it yet.

Okay that was a tangent and a half for a basically kinda lame joke... Sorry. So why is europe a continent? Let's answer it the simple and obvious way first, which is to say: "they made the maps."

Okay so that's why Europe IS a continent, but why should it be a continent? I urge you to review the map again. Europe is obviously, uncontroversially, just the western part of the Asian continent. The definition of "Continent" is notoriously vague but it's "understood to be large, continuous, discrete masses of land, ideally separated by expanses of water." Which is to say, Europe doesn't count. Have a look at this picture from space and see if you can find a single reason why Europe should be its own continent:

North and South America are technically connected by a thin strip of land (the Darien Gap, a dangerous place me and M. Zee actually braved and loved) and if someone wants to make the case they should be the same, that's fine. Personally I see a pretty simple intuitive difference of land when viewing the landmass so i vote different. But Europe? No way. One rather gets the impression that the Europeans simply wanted to distinguish themselves from those "unwashed hordes" who looked and spoke differently- hence the separation.

I could keep ranting about this for much, much longer but I've decided to cut it short since it was basically just inspired by one commenter. There have been a lot of aaaathatsfiveas regulars (like MC) basically owning off-the-cuff commenters lately on geography-related issues- it's so hot right now.

This is one of the best wiki pages I've ever seen, providing a chronology of inventions that's far more riveting and fascinating that you would think.

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