Friday, September 16, 2011

Istanbul v. U.S. Domes: You be the judge.

I'd say that is a look of skepticism on Allyson's face as we approach Hagia Sophia, and rightly so. Sophie, as I call her, is billed as this great dome, greatest on the face of God's good earth. But the evidence proves that the greatest domes are in the United States of America.

Let's compare, for example, Cowboy's Stadium in Texas, which is still part of the United States, despite the overwhelming opinion of those of us in Oregon, who wonder how peoples with such different political views can both be Americans. Jerry Jones built Cowboy's stadium, so we'll call it Jerry's dome.

Sophie's dome is tall. So big that our blessed Statute of Liberty could do jumping jacks inside. But Jerry's dome is taller, with a much bigger area underneath. Jerry's dome is retractable, but not Sophie's. Jerry's dome has air conditioning. Sophie's dome? Nope. You can buy a cold beer in the Texas dome, but you can't even find a water fountain within Sophie, although there is a little store outside. No food inside Sophie's dome; not even a $9 hotdog; no public toilets, either.

Sophie's defenders point out that Sophie's place has some old mosaics. I would concede that true fact. But here's the rest of that mosaic story. The mosaics are beat up. And other parts of the old church were defaced by the Sultans who turned it into a mosque. But more to the point of U.S. superiority, Jerry has something better than static depictions of a few images, he's got a humongo jumbotron that has ever-changing mosaics that that show football replays. Take that, Sophie.

Local Byzantine chauvinists, when confronted with this evidence, will start whining about "apples-to-apples" comparisons: Emperor Justinian built the Sophie Dome in 537 A.D. These fanatical local patriots started putting down United States by asking, "What have you Americans got from the year 537? Oooh, a sandal woven of grass. I'm so impressed." (I don't think they really were impressed. I think they were disrespecting our historical record of leading sustainable lives for 10,000 years or more.)

I responded, "Did you hear me whining about bad officiating when Oregon lost to Auburn?" The blank stare on the face of the locals made me think they did not understand my reference to the 2011 College Football National Championship, which highlights their parochialism. So I had to return the subject to domes, "Even the Detroit Lions play in a superior dome in Michigan." Again, they shook their heads, as if I were the one who could not accept the facts.

Anyway, I come to a foreign country to try to be a personal Ambassador and build bridges to foreign peoples, but all I find are local cheerleaders who stubbornly cling to preconceived notions of their own superiority. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

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