North Korea sucks

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…And now for something completely different: A bunch of random, cool structures.

Bet you didn’t think I’d start with the St. Louis Arch? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Louis_Arch#Topping_out_and_dedication

Call it the power of Wikipedia. The strangest subjects can occur to you, and seconds later you know all about them.

What I wanted to know was how they built the thing, and I’ve always wondered how you get to the top of the arch. Both questions were answered: a lot of stainless and carbon steel, and reinforced concrete, and by a specially designed tramway.

Favourite skyscrapers? I’ve got a few.

The John Hancock in Chicago is magnificent – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chicago_(4).jpg - like something straight out of Blade Runner or Star Wars.

The Chrysler building in NYC has to be one of the prettiest every built: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysler_building…although Taipei 101 might give it a run for its money: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taipei_Tower

Scotia Plaza in Toronto is probably my favourite skyscraper (that I’ve seen) in Canada: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Scotia_Plaza_2009.JPG

Not a big fan of towers generally, but this one is striking: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sky_Tower_(Auckland)

And no list of skyscrapers would be complete without the Burj Khalifa, the tallest in the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burj_Dubai

Pyramids are cool, right? When I say pyramids, you think this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramids_of_Giza

They truly are spectacular. But you might not know about Mexico’s massive pyramids: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teotihuacan

In keeping with the theme of ancient America, there’s this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macchu_picchu

Yeah, it’s getting a little overexposed. There’ll be a Pizza Hut there next week, I bet.

I’d never even heard of this, but apparently it’s the biggest castle in the world by surface area, and the largest brick building in Europe: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malbork_Castle

Russia gave us the Kremlin, but also this famous cathedral: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Basil%27s_Cathedral

And this massive statue: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Motherland_Calls

The best building in Britain? The Tower has to be a contender: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_London

I don’t really need to list the Great Wall of China or the Forbidden Palace, do I? I dunno. Both are massive and impressive, but have just never inspired much passion in me. Japanese castles, on the other hand, have always been a draw: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matsumoto_Castle

Now, this is something just flat out cool. I won’t even hint. Just check it out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svalbard_Global_Seed_Vault

Have you figured out yet that I could go on and on? We’ll revisit this another time, but I’ll leave you with a few more links. First, my favourite structure in Halifax: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halifax_citadel

It’s funny, when I was a nerdy kid spending all my time playing D&D, I thought Europe was awesome because it had castles. And Europe IS awesome, in part because of those castles. But growing up in Kingston, Ontario, I never had that much respect for what was in my own backyard. I liked Fort Henry, sure – quite a bit, actually – but it didn’t have the halo of excitement Warwick Castle held for me the first time I toured a British fortification. Fast forward decades, and I’m in a Japanese classroom when a student asks if Canada has castles. And it strikes me: Yes, yes we do. We call them forts, and they were built later, but a fort is a castle, and Halifax has a magnificent one. That is also probably the root of my fascination with the modest blockhouse – a castle you can have in your own backyard: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Edward_(Nova_Scotia)

Finally, from my personal obsessions to an international joke: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryugyong_Hotel

I don’t actually mind its monolithic, fascist appearance – now that it’s had serious upgrades – but the story of North Korea’s attempt to build what ended up being a giant embarrassment in their midst is hilarious: a stark, monumental testament to communism’s failures.

 

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