Tuesday, December 22, 2015

History: The Year is 1700

I've uploaded year 1700 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

The 17th Century That Was -- The highlights of the past century.

A Mega-Quake Hits the Pacific Northwest -- The largest recorded quake in North American history... so far.

The 17th Century That Was

* The 30 Year's War caused people to rethink the rules of war.
* Guy Fawkes tried to blow up Parliament... and failed.
* England became a republic but Oliver Cromwell couldn't make it work.
* Political parties were formed.
* Silver prices plummeted.
* Kikkoman Soy Sauce was created.
* Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand were discovered.
* Pocahontas roped a gullible public into believing that she was a princess.
* Checking accounts came to the Netherlands, and Massachusetts printed it's own paper money.
* Witches floated... and so did witch hunters.
* The moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn and gravity were discovered. (Yes. It involved an apple.)
* King James published the Bible but the printer forgot the "not" in "Thou shalt NOT commit adultery."
* Virginia tobacco became the drug of choice for England, and the African slave became the laborer of choice for Virginia.
* The Pilgrims came to New Plymouth but there was no rock. They waded in.
* The First Indian War resulted in a lot fewer Indians, so the Indians started suing. They haven't stopped yet.
* Halley created the first weather map. Sun spots disappeared, England froze solid and the sweet potato saved the Chinese as the worst weather in 500 years hit.
* The Dutch bought Manhattan for a song and then handed it to the English.
* Christmas was banned. The Quakers ran wild. The Salem Witch Trials resulted in fewer witches.
* Mining became a BLAST!
* The chimney tax, the window tax, and the tax on beards.
* The first modern police force, the first fire hose and Niagara Falls was discovered... again.
* Yellow Fever hit the New World.
* The Black Death hit London so Issac Newton went home and got to work proving... everything.
Science, liberty, and economic opportunity are getting better, but people rarely look beyond their current situation and it is never enough. In the coming century, science will grow by leaps and bounds. People will seek more liberty, more economic opportunity, and we can't stop now. The whole world is changing... again.

A Mega-Quake Hits the Pacific Northwest

The region is called Cascadia named after a range of volcanoes called the Cascades. In modern days, the area covers the coastlines of Oregon, Washington and most of Vancouver Island. At approximately 9 p.m. on January 26th, the largest known earthquake of the North American continent strikes. Suddenly, 700 miles of the coastline drops and moves westward 60 feet. It's a 9.0 earthquake and the shaking goes on and on and on. It's "The Big One". This sudden move pushes an enormous amount of water aside and creates a fast-moving wall of water called a tsunami. The water pushes inland and drowns helpless Indians living along the coast and the salt water kills the trees. The tsunami also heads toward Japan where, 10 hours later, it flattens houses. When it is all over, 25,000 people are dead. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
One cannot fully appreciate how long 5 minutes can be unless one is riding out an earthquake like this one. Do such people exist? Yes. The tsunami that hit Japan in 2012 and caused a release of radioactive material from the Fukushima nuclear power plant was preceded by such a quake. 16,000 people died when a 40 foot wall of water overwhelmed a 30 foot sea wall and carried cars, homes and people out to sea. There is a one-in-three chance that such a quake will hit the Pacific Northwest within the next 50 years. No one knows for sure when it will happen. The only certainty is that it WILL happen. If you are living along that coast, you can expect to see a 30 foot wall of water moving fast and heading inland. Plan accordingly. (That means... be somewhere else and a lot higher.) [5] [6]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1700, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1699

I've uploaded year 1699 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Free Trade! What a Concept! -- The English Parliament establishes a free trade zone and thus create the largest fish market in the world.

Gulliver's Travels -- The fictional events portrayed in this novel begin this year. This book is political satire and required reading.

Free Trade! What a Concept!

Parliament has made the Billingsgate Fish Market a free trade zone after cries of protest from fishermen and buyers over the abuses of the Fishmongers Company. The Billingsgate port is a rectangular area cut into the bank of the Thames River that allows the offloading of cargo from small fishing vessels. An open market has been located there since 1419 and until now, the Fishmongers Company has controlled the marketplace in order to ensure cleanliness and organizing transportation. Over the years things have changed. The Fishmongers have abused their market position, charging large port fees to the ships, and forcing the fishermen to sell to the Fishmongers at low prices and the Fishmongers selling to buyers (called fisherwomen) at high prices. The fix is in, so King William the 3rd passes a law making the Billingsgate Fish Market a free trade zone. Fees for docking and various fees for the marketplace are set by law and enforced by the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen. Buyers and sellers are allowed to meet and work out their own prices without the dubious benefit of the Fishmongers Company. It's a little messy. (Let's be frank. It's a LOT messy.) But it works. In 1850, the marketplace will be enclosed, and a larger market of 30,000 square feet will be constructed in 1877. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Fishmongers Company started out filling a need for the fish market, but it is an iron-clad rule that power corrupts and absolute power stinks like three-day fish. It is easy to talk ones self into doing what is best for "all da little people," especially when they don't seem too smart. Frankly, the Billingsgate Fish Market was a vulgar, dirty place well into the 1850s and probably beyond. The name "Billingsgate" became a synonym for "crude and vulgar" and there are references to the foul tongues of Billingsgate oyster-wives. So it is easy to believe that the Fishmongers Company would see themselves as being helpful... and collecting a fee for that help. But being crude and rude doesn't mean the fishermen were idiots. In the modern day it is easy to discount people who are not well-spoken, but a person don't have to be Einstein to know what he needs and wants. My sense is that our government thinks of us as "Billingsgate oyster-wives" who are too dumb to realize what we really need, so they "help us" and collect a large fee for the helping. I often yell at my television, "They must think I'm an idiot!" Yes. Yes, they do. [5]

Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels is a fictional diary of the adventures of Lemuel Gulliver. After failing to find work, he signs on as a surgeon with a ship, the Antelope. They leave Bristol early this year and within a few months, the Antelope strikes a rock. Several sailors are killed and Gulliver is tossed into the sea. He awakens on dry land. As he tries to move he realizes that he has been tied down. He feels something walking across his chest and as he looks down, he sees a man 6 inches tall. He has landed on the Island of Lilliput. Although the events in Gulliver's Travels supposedly take place in 1699, the book will not be published until 1726. Of course, the author is Jonathan Swift.
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Why should we care about Gulliver's Travels? It is political satire. For one thing, Gulliver is introduced to the King of Lilliput, but the King cannot hear Gulliver unless the King's servants (called "flappers") flap his ears, and the King cannot speak until the "flappers" flap the King's lips. Thus, no matter how powerful a king might be, he is only as powerful as his servants will let him be. The Kingdom of Lilliput is at war with the Kingdom of Blefuscu over the Big-Endian/Little-Endian controversy. By convention, Lilliput breaks open an egg from the little end, while Blefuscu breaks the egg on the big end. They go to war to force each other to do it the "right way"... only there is no "right way". In the modern day this sort of controversy extends to computer processors and how each stores data. Intel x86 processors use "little-endian" byte order. Motorola (and the Internet Protocol) uses big-endian byte-order. Does it really matter? Yes. When you are reading the data you must know how the data was stored. Otherwise the byte-order is flipped and the data becomes meaningless. We are busy fighting over who is right instead of solving real problems. The lesson learned is: we do it to ourselves. Gulliver's Travels is required reading for anyone who cares about politics. [6] [7]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1699, Wikipedia.

Monday, December 21, 2015

History: The Year is 1698

I've uploaded year 1698 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

The Steam-Powered Water Pump is Patented -- It is a very simple pump and it's not much but Parliament goes gaga.

Yo, Ho, Ho... Captain Kidd Turns Pirate -- Captain Kidd hits the wrong ship and all hell breaks loose.

Too Good Not to Mention... -- A tax on beards and goose-stepping in Germany.

The Steam-Powered Water Pump is Patented

This is a very simple, manually operated, valveless water pump powered by steam. Thomas Savery finally receives a general patent from the English Parliament to pump water using steam. Since other inventors have been working on steam-powered pumps they must seek a license through Thomas to continue their work. Thomas's design works after a fashion, but it needs a lot of tweaking. Thankfully, another inventor seeks a license from Thomas and improves his design. Parliament believes that these two inventors are on the right track (and they are) so they extend the patent beyond the normal deadline. (Good move, Parliament.) The idea behind the pump is to create a vacuum by heating water into steam, and then opening a valve to move the steam into a cooling chamber. A vacuum is created as the steam cools and draws water up a pipe. It is incredibly inefficient but it will pave the way for steam-powered applications. [1]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The reason Parliament wanted this water pump was because the inventors promised that they could pump out the local mines. Flooding in English mines had made local ore cost prohibitive, so having a water pump was really, really desirable. In the modern day, scientists are revisiting ancient pump designs, looking for new applications. The old Pulsometer pump was inspired by Thomas Savery's original design. It is considered a durable, low maintenance pump used for moving thick liquids or even mud. [2]

Yo, Ho, Ho... Captain Kidd Turns Pirate

A few years ago King William the 3rd gave Captain William Kidd a letter of mark authorizing him to attack pirates along the New England coast and to harass French shipping. He is a privateer, but his past suggests that he was once a pirate. His crew is unruly and difficult to control. During one trip in his ship, The Adventure Galley, he failed to salute a British Naval ship. The British Navy sent a shot across his bows to remind him. Instead of saluting, his crew turned and slapped their backsides. This did not go over well but what really caused Captain Kidd to take a turn for the worse was when he waylaid an Armenian ship which Kidd considered "French". Unfortunately, it wasn't French and there were English passengers aboard who were stripped of their worldly goods. When word got back to England, it was a political embarrassment so Captain Kidd was declared a pirate. When Captain Kidd realizes the British are hunting for him, he starts burying his assets (also known as treasure) in Madagascar and along the New England coast. One such cache will be dug up on Gardiners Island. Captain Kidd, himself will be arrested, tried and hung for piracy in 1701. They will leave his body hanging in public for three years as a warning to others. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Was Captain Kidd really a pirate? Politically speaking there was a lot of motivation for the government to declare him a pirate. He really goofed when he hit that Armenian ship. It made England look like a pirate nation so they disavowed his actions. But my personal opinion is that he was once a pirate, took a legitimate commission to become a privateer, and at times lost control of his crew who actually were pirates. When you are leading a band of cutthroats it is difficult to back up and say, "Uh... hey... guys! Time out! We made a mistake on that last one. We need to give them back all their stuff." They would have mutinied on the spot... just like they did to the previous captain. Rumors abound regarding Captain Kidd's treasure. It's always fun to think about digging for buried treasure but if you actually want to dig up the New England coastline, ask someone first. You don't want to be arrested. [8] [9]

Too Good Not to Mention...

* A tax on beards: Beards are no longer the modern style so Peter the Great of Russia places a tax on beards. Priests are exempt. [10]
* The Prussian Army starts goose-stepping. They also introduce iron ramrods to increase the speed of reloading their muskets. [11]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1698, Wikipedia.

Friday, December 18, 2015

History: The Year is 1697

I've uploaded year 1697 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

The Last Mayan Kingdom Falls -- The Spaniards are done trying to negotiate. The gloves are coming off and the last Mayan Kingdom is going down.

Daniel Defoe Proposes a Wealth Tax -- The guy who wrote Robinson Caruso was a prolific writer before that. He has produced a series of essays including one suggesting a tax on personal wealth.


The Last Mayan Kingdom Falls

The Spaniards have colonies established in the Yucatan region and Guatemala. Sitting in between are the Itza Mayans of the Petén Lakes region. The Spaniards want to build a road to join the two colonies, but back in the 1620s the Itza had cut the hearts out of various missionaries and Spanish soldiers. No one was going into the region now without a plan. The plan began with attempts to negotiate a deal, but after two years of talks, the gloves are coming off. 235 Spanish solders backed by 120 native Indians move on Tayasal, the island capital of the Itza kingdom. The Mayans have painted the city a bright white so the Spaniards can't miss it. The Mayans hastily build fortifications but it will not be enough. The Spaniards bombard the city with cannon fire. The loss of life is horrific. A Spanish attack boat makes its way across the lake and the Spaniards take the island. The last independent kingdom of the Mayans has fallen but the fight is not over yet. In 1704 the Itza Mayans will attempt a rebellion. Their efforts will end in bloody failure. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
There is a temptation to paint the Spaniards as jerks for beating up on the helpless Mayans, but let's put this in perspective. The Spaniards weren't going away. While the Mayans could claim a right to be left alone, the way they reacted to the Spaniards made it clear that the Mayans would not honor any agreement they might make and they were too dangerous to be left to their own devices. The problem had to be addressed and that meant diplomacy by other means... the military option. In modern times the Mayans remain a distinct group in Guatemala and the descendants of the Spaniards look down on them. This has led to abuse and continued fighting between the two groups. I'm not sure how they could have worked something out back in 1697, but it is clear in modern times that the descendants of the Mayans are getting the short end of the stick from the descendants of the Spaniards. [6] [7]

Daniel Defoe Proposes a Wealth Tax

Daniel Defoe is best known for his book, "Robinson Caruso" which will be published in 1719, but his first book is published this year. It is a series of essays, many of them brilliant, giving advice to the King and Parliament on how to solve various sticky problems such as the disparity of taxes being paid by the poor and the rich. For example, there is a tax on alcoholic beverages. The poor laborer spends his meager wages on drink which is taxed. The tax represents a large portion of a poor man's wages. A rich man likes beer as much as any poor man, but he can avoid paying the tax by brewing his own. He has the facilities, the materials and the time to do so and thus a rich man's contribution to the tax base is less than that of a poor man. Daniel's solution sounds like an income tax, but in fact it is a tax on accumulated wealth. He proposes a commission and inspectors to assess a person's wealth and tax him accordingly. Daniel will find favor under King William the 3rd, but years later he will write a satirical piece that will offend Parliament. Daniel will be pilloried and sent to prison. His experiences as a prisoner will show up in his future writings such as the poem "Hymn to the Pillory". [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the United States we have an income tax but not a wealth tax. Thus, when Warren Buffet complains that his secretary has a higher income tax rate (35.8%) than he does, he is correct. He makes very little in salary and he has long-term investments where he pays a capital gains tax. That is a different tax with a lower rate. So when you hear him say that he and his fellow investors are not paying their fair-share in taxes, watch out. Buffet is big. He can take a big tax hit and survive, but his competitors might not survive. It is like standing in a swimming pool as the water rises. If you can't tread water, only the tallest people in the pool survive. Then the tallest people can rightfully point out how many short people are drowning, and the Congress... oh... I mean the pool manager will lower the water, leaving the tallest people with the pool all to themselves. And there is a second slight of hand going on here. Buffet brings in more income through capital gains than his secretary brings in through salary so there is more income to tax even at a lower rate. This was why when President Ronald Reagan lowered tax rates the actual tax money collected went up, not down. A smaller tax paid frequently and fairly produces more tax revenue than, for example, a supertax on luxury yachts. A yacht tax puts a lot of ship builders out of business and tax revenues go down. [10] [11]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1697, Wikipedia.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

History: The Year is 1696

I've uploaded year 1696 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

The 'Great Recoinage' is not that Great -- England has hired Isaac Newton to standardize the currency so he moves Heaven and Earth to make it happen.

Finland Famine -- A third of Finland's population dies. I talk about the Little Ice Age and the old ploughs they used.

The Old Farm Highway becomes Connecticut Route 108 -- I talk about farm-to-market highways.

The 'Great Recoinage' is not that Great

A few days ago Isaac Newton was denying that he was considering the job of running the Royal Mint, but when his friend, Charles Montagu, offers the job to him, Newton abandons his professorship, loads his worldly goods into a carriage and travels to London to begin a new life as a civil servant. Ever since William and Mary of Orange (in the Netherlands) have taken the throne of England, the financial centers of Amsterdam have become intertwined with English financial institutions. This has created the need for a stable currency. The current state of English coinage is chaotic. Coin clipping and counterfeiting is rampant. Merchants are inflating prices because they cannot depend on the face value of the coins and poor people are rioting in the streets almost daily. Gershom's Law says that bad money pushes out the good, so Isaac Newton institutes a coin recall to sweep up all the bad coins. He mints a new set of coins with a serrated edge to discourage coin clipping and sets a new ratio of precious metals in each coin to discourage speculators (called chapmen) from melting coins down to sell the base metals across the English Channel. The Great Recoinage causes a temporary shortage of coins because all clipped coins that are not turned in by April 2nd are declared invalid as currency. England has returned to 'Middle Ages' bartering as the Royal Mint struggles to produce replacement coins. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK. What was really happening here? The Royal Mint was royally out of control and at least one of its branch mints was totally corrupt. When Newton took over management of the Mint, he was considered a slave-driver. That is... he actually expected the workers to do their jobs efficiently and the managers to show up for their "No Show" jobs. As the recoinage progressed, the public was naturally confused. Mint managers took advantage of the public by collecting old coins at a severe discount and then turned them in for themselves at the normal exchange rate. The scientist, Edmund Halley, took over management of one of the branch mints, but he could not bring the mint under control so it was closed after a year or so. The recoinage absolutely had to work or the English economy would have collapsed and the national debt (a new idea) would have gone into default. A few years later Isaac Newton was knighted. Historians say it was not because of his success at the Royal Mint, but in a practical sense, if Newton had failed, England would have fallen and France would have rolled over them. [4]

Finland Famine

Estonia and Finland are hit hard by famine. Almost a third of Finland's population has died, and possibly a fifth of Estonia. The Little Ice Age is the cause of such variability in the weather that some years produce bumper crops and other years the crops cannot produce enough seed for the next planting season. [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
There was not a lot of irrigation going on in Finland at the time. The ploughs were primitive. They didn't even have wheels on them. And fertilizer for the fields was inadequate because they lacked enough farm animals to produce the manure. When a crop produces less seed than was already planted, there is not enough crop to feed people, and the next crop will be smaller than the previous one. That is the formula for famine. [7]

The Old Farm Highway becomes Connecticut Route 108

...there is a highway presently running out of the north end of the town, called the farm highway... -- From the Stratford Land Records, 1696. [8]
Route 108 is considered the 3rd oldest highway in Connecticut. The others are Mohegan Road (1670) which is Route 32 and the Boston Post Road (1673) which is US 1. [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Here in Texas many roads take the designation of FM, meaning that it is a Farm-to-Market road. You can't get beyond subsistence farming unless you have roads to take your crops to market where people can buy them or roads to your farm so that buyers can come to you. Otherwise all you can do is feed yourself and those in your immediate neighborhood. In the Middle Ages there were roads but they were not well maintained, and the owners of the road would charge tolls to pass through their gates. The tolls were little more than highway robbery. In the United States early in the 20th century, many rural roads had gates. These gates were needed to prevent farm animals from escaping. Nowadays a cattle guard or grid allows automobiles to pass while preventing livestock from crossing over. [11] [12]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1696, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

History: The Year is 1695

I've uploaded year 1695 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

A Limit on Laissez-Faire Banking - The Bank of Scotland is a limited-liability bank. I talk about why the bank survived into the modern day when unlimited liability banks did not.

Putting Money into the "Curse" Jar -- England places a very large fine on public profanity. I talk about my personal struggle to break the bad habit of profanity.

Clipping the Public with the Window Tax -- England passes a window tax which is another property tax. People brick up their windows. I talk about tax avoidance.

A Limit on Laissez-Faire Banking

By law of the Scottish Parliament, the Bank of Scotland is established. It differs from the Bank of England in that it is prohibited from making loans to the government except by a specific vote of Parliament. Normally bank shareholders are personally liable for all debts of the bank. That is, a shareholder's liability can extend beyond the value of his deposit at the bank. They can take your house, your boat and the shirt off of your back if necessary. All of it. But the Bank of Scotland is a limited liability bank. In the years to follow two other limited liability banks will chartered: The Royal Bank of Scotland and the British Linen Company. By 1845, unlimited liability banks will come and go but these three limited liability banks will remain standing. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK, so what is the difference? One would think that depositors who had so much to lose would be attracted to the best managed banks. Certainly, shareholders would care about how well their money was managed, but there are practical limits to how much control a shareholder might have on the decisions of a bank manager. Thus, it makes more sense to buy shares in a limited liability bank so that one is not risking everything one owns. While it is true that a bank manager of a limited liability bank might not feel the same need for caution with the shareholder's money, the long-term survivability of the bank depends on limiting the damage when a bank hits the inevitable economic snafu or bad decision. The unlimited liability banks were exposed to unlimited damage and thus a major blow could take it down forever. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The Bank of Scotland survived from its founding until 2006 when it was reorganized and then acquired by Lloyd's Banking Group in 2009.

Putting Money into the "Curse" Jar

Puritan elements in England have been complaining about the crassness and general deterioration of society, Recently the censorship laws have been allowed to lapse, so there has been a surge in what might be called inappropriate publications. Societies for the improvement of manners have sprung up lately. Members of these private societies are shocked by the easy profanity that the common people engage in. Since the membership of these private societies are made up of public judges and government leadership, a law is passed to punish public profanity. A fine of 2 pounds is levied for each offense which is a little over $400 in today's money. [3] [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I have sympathy for people who curse and for those who don't. I am religious now and I LOOK religious so people often apologize to me when they utter a profanity. I assure them that they need not feel embarrassed. I used to curse a lot when I was younger. In fact, I would curse so much that I would put curse words INSIDE of words! Even after I was praying regularly, I would still curse. It had become a bad habit so I decided to work on it. I didn't beat myself up about it. I didn't create a "curse jar" but when I would utter a curse word, I would simply back up and repeat the sentence without the curse word. I would explain to others that I was trying to change a habit of years, and I was NOT expecting everyone else to do the same thing. People would relax and smile. Breaking a bad habit takes time. I am amazingly better than I was and I feel better because I am working at it honestly. Why am I trying? Well, I am a religious man now and as such, I am identified as one of God's followers. I don't want to give God a bad name, so I work on it. That's the reason.

Clipping the Public with the Window Tax

Coin clipping has become such a problem that the English Parliament has set Isaac Newton and John Locke on the problem. They will standardize the coinage, but as they work through the problem, the government knows that the economy will contract, thus reducing tax revenues. In order to bring in more money, they decide to pass a window tax. The tax is calculated based on the number of windows a house has. This is another type of property tax. A few years ago they had tried a hearth tax based on the number of stoves and fireplaces one had, but people resented it when the taxman would insist on entering a person's home to make a count. In order to avoid the window tax, people start bricking up their windows. [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I find it laughable when I see Congress issue their estimate on how much tax revenue will come in when they pass a particular tax. Their estimates never take into account that people who don't want to pay the tax will avoid doing so. Of course there are always a few people who will do illegal things to avoid the tax, but it never occurs to Congress that there might be legal ways to avoid the same tax. An example is when they placed a very large tax on cigarettes. The tax increased crime and even funded terrorism. Terrorists would buy cigarettes in a low-tax state and drive them to high-tax states, sell them and pocket the profits to fund their attacks. But some people simply gave up smoking, reducing their tax contribution to ZERO! At least the criminals were paying SOME taxes. Raising a tax can actually reduce the amount to money coming in to the treasury, and reducing the tax can bring in more money when it is no longer worth avoiding the tax or dodging the police. There is a sweet spot where taxes seem fair so people don't resent paying them (much), but the government seems unable to hit that spot. In most cases they refuse to believe it even exists.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1695, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

History: The Year is 1694

I've uploaded year 1694 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

A Third-rate Ship Sinks with 10 Tons of Gold Aboard -- It is a secret mission to give gold to the Duke of Savoy, but it sinks so no joy.

It's the Bank of ENGLAND! What Could Go Wrong? -- King William needs financing so he opens a bank. I talk about how people tend to put trust in government.

A Chapel for the Shroud of Turin -- Is it really the death shroud of Jesus? I'm not sure it matters.

A Third-rate Ship Sinks with 10 Tons of Gold Aboard

The HMS Sussex is on a secret mission. The Sussex is a third-rate ship-of-the-line leading a convoy of over 40 war ships and 166 merchantmen into the Mediterranean. Convoy protection is a normal function of the British Navy, but the Sussex is carrying its own secret cargo... 10 tons of gold coins worth over 344 million dollars (as of December 2015). The gold is destined for the Duke of Savoy. As the convey passes the rock of Gibraltar, a sudden storm sends HMS Sussex to the bottom. Only two sailors will survive and the Admiral's body will wash up on shore, dressed in his nightshirt. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
One can only guess why gold was going to the Duke of Savoy, so let's guess. The War of the Grand Alliance against France was in progress. Savoy had almost quadrupled his army and took the war to French soil, but in 1695 the Duke signed a secret peace treaty with France. If gold was headed to the Duke in 1694, it may have been to help with military expenses. (Or maybe it was a really big bribe, but what are the chances of that? Perish the thought.) When the gold went to the bottom, the Duke cut his losses and made peace. Recently the wreck of the Sussex may have been found off the coast of Spain but currently the exploration project has been put on hold until Spain can get guarantees that the exploration company simply won't sail off with all the treasure. It happens. [5] [6]

It's the Bank of ENGLAND! What Could Go Wrong?

In the war against France, King William the 3rd of England is running out of money, especially after the recent disastrous Battle of Beachy Head. He needs to build a modern navy, but the King can't get credit to save his life. If he cannot win this war (or at least not lose it) he will literally lose his life and the previous King James the 2nd will return from France to take the British throne. So, in order to get financing, King William starts the Bank of England and allows the bank to handle the British government accounts. This close association between the government and the bank lends respectability to the Bank of England. People start making deposits; the bank lends that money to England and the King builds his navy. [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
People want to trust their government, so when the government puts its faith in a bank, the people figure that they can't get hurt too badly if they put faith in the bank too. This was how Congress and President Bush got caught during the Subprime Mortgage Crisis. The government implied that losses from failed subprime mortgages would be covered because certain financial institutions were "too big to fail." Well... apparently some institutions were just the right size to fail along with a lot of individuals such as the actor, William Devane. He played the President of the United Stated on the TV series '24'. Now I see him on TV commercials trying to sell gold. Thank you, Mr. President. I'll look into that. This is called "an argument from authority" and in William Devane's case, a FAKE authority. Since the news media treats the President of the United States as if he is an expert on the economy, and if he tells people to buy gold, then that is best thing to do. Right? Don't bet on it. [9] [10] [11]

A Chapel for the Shroud of Turin

The city of Turin is located within Duchy of Savoy. Several years ago the Turin Cathedral began construction of a chapel to house the Shroud of Turin. That construction is completed this year. The shroud is purported to be the cloth that the body of Jesus was wrapped in when his body was removed from the cross and placed in a temporary tomb. The actual history of the cloth has not been well documented until after the mid-1400s. It will remain the property of the House of Savoy until 1983 when it will be transferred to the Catholic Church in Rome. [12] [13] [14] [15]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Most people want to know if it really is the death shroud of Jesus. I'm not sure how one would prove it for sure. Carbon-dating was done on the cloth, and that places the date at no earlier than 1260. That was approximately when reports on the existence of the cloth begin. I'm not sure that it matters whether the shroud is the actual one. If someone made an error, then it was an error. If the cloth never existed, would Christianity dissolve into nothing? I doubt it.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1694, Wikipedia.

Monday, December 14, 2015

History: The Year is 1693

I've uploaded year 1693 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Penn's Plan for Peace and 'a Short Victorious War' -- William Penn suggests a European court or parliament to resolve disputes before they break down into war. I talk about war and how war is sometimes a venue for a sales pitch.

The Failing Quaker Oat Harvest and Mass Migration -- Scot Quakers are moving away from Scotland as the oat harvest fails again and again. I talk about problems with mass migration, declining birth rates and doing the right thing.

The Amish Split from the Mennonites -- The split seems to be a disagreement over the penalty of shunning. I talk about shunning within the history of Judaism.

Penn's Plan for Peace and 'a Short Victorious War'

William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, is a Quaker and he despairs of the war in Europe. France has pushed into the Holy Roman Empire to create a defensive buffer zone for itself. The treaties make it unclear where the legal border is, but legal or not, the remaining nations, including England, have formed "The Grand Alliance" to oppose France's incursion. The fighting has been nowhere near as bad as the 30 years' War, but many of the refugees have escaped to Pennsylvania. William Penn contends that modern war stems from inequities between states that have no way to be resolved except through the aggressive use of force. He proposes a special court or parliament to resolve these inequities so that nations will have an alternative to war. He is not proposing a Federation, nor a United States of Europe. He is suggesting an official body that can define borders and resolve disputes before war ensues. Eventually the War of the Grand Alliance will grind to a halt as the economy of the European nations deteriorate, but for now, the war drags on. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The reality is that war was considered an acceptable way to expand one's tax base, and to divert the population from revolution. In 1904 the Russo-Japanese war started because the Russian Minister of the Interior said, "What this country needs is a short, victorious war to stem the tide of revolution." In the 1980's the Argentinian economy was in turmoil yet again, so they started a war with the UK over the Falkland Islands. It was ironic that Margaret Thatcher had recently offered to lease the Falkland Islands to Argentina with an option to buy, but once the war started she had no choice but to kick their backsides. Incidentally, sales of British war planes skyrocketed after they won. The Harrier Jump Jet had been a bit of a joke because it was SLOW compared to the French Mirage Jets that Argentina was using, but 20 Mirages took a nose dive in that war vs 1 Harrier. Recently, after the terror attacks in France, I was "informed" by the news media that France had finally joined the fight against terror by bombing ISIS in Syria. But I remembered France bombing ISIS almost a year ago using their new fighter jet! War sales always pick up after a weapon is "proven" in battle. This was not French revenge for the terrorist bombings. This was an attempt to boost sales and the news media accommodated France the same way that they accommodate McDonald's when their burgers need a boost. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

The Failing Quaker Oat Harvest and Mass Migration

From now until the end of the century, every oat harvest in Scotland will fail except one. Famine will force the Scots to migrate. France is a logical destination for them, but France is going through a similar famine. One would think that the New World would be an ideal destination, but the Scots are not enthusiastic colonists as yet. The Scot Quakers have recently established colonies in East Jersey and Carolina but not in large numbers compared to the English Quakers or the Dutch. As the famine continues, most will jump to Ireland. England will pass laws in order to prop up the Scottish economy and in particular granting tax breaks for farmers, but nothing can make up for the loss of manpower. In the 17th century, 200,000 out of a million Scots have left for other countries. Twenty percent of those emigrants are the young men needed to maintain the Old Scotland. Instead they will be building a New Scotland far away. [12] [13] [14]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Losing 20% of your population is devastating. For comparison, Japan has actually gained in population, but the ratio between the elderly and the young is out of balance, and the birthrate is in decline so they are worried about having enough young people in the future to keep the machinery running. Their solution has been to build up their robotics industry. The Germans have a similar population problem and it occurred to me that the German Prime Minister might be inviting Syrian refugees to Germany in order to solve Germany's labor problem. Certainly the United States does something similar by allowing illegal aliens to waltz across the border. Business owners want cheap labor. Having a labor force that knows it is illegal reduces a lot of employee complaints. By design, the labor law makes it difficult to hire foreign labor LEGALLY, so businesses often do it illegally just to save the headache. When I do something wrong, it usually creates a cascade of wrong things, and the only way to stop that cascade is by doing the right thing in the first place. This new generation wants to do the right thing. The robotic factory, the automatic harvester and phone-app restaurant are ways to do the right thing without changing the law and without costing your soul. [15] [16]

The Amish Split from the Mennonites

War has ravaged much of central Europe including Switzerland. The Mennonites have been scattered as refugees and as one might imagine, their smaller, less organized groups have drifted away from the original central faith outlined by Menno Simons. That is why Jakob Ammann feels compelled to tighten up religious observance. Specifically he is concerned that the punishment of "shunning" has been neglected. When a member of their group is sinning and refuses to repent, they will avoid talking to that person and stay separated from that person until they do repent. Jakob Ammann applies this punishment even between husband and wife, thus making meals very difficult between them. The other Mennonites find strict shunning to be too serious a punishment and this causes a rift. Those Mennonites who agree with Jakob Ammann are called Amish Mennonites or simply Amish. The Amish will begin emigrating to Pennsylvania in the 18th century. [17]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I'm not familiar enough with Mennonite observance to make a judgment on whether Jakob Ammann was right or wrong. Shunning as a religious penalty is an ancient procedure and it exists within Judaism, though I'm not aware of it having been used in recent times. I am a Modern Orthodox Jew so I don't claim to know everything that my more right-wing brethren are doing. I hear rumors, though. In the 1800s, shunning happened, but it was rare because it could be so devastating. If you had a public business, how could your fellows buy things from you? Usually, there was a time limit placed on the shunning. Let's say... 30 days. How many businesses could afford to lose a month's worth of business? So... it was a severe punishment but everyone knew it was severe. Rabbis tried to avoid imposing the punishment and people tried to avoid deserving the punishment. And if you think shunning is the correct penalty then certainly one's spouse should shun you. The rule is the rule. If everyone must shun you, then that means everyone.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1693, Wikipedia.

Friday, December 11, 2015

History: The Year is 1692

I've uploaded year 1692 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

The Salem Witch Trials and Slender Man -- 19 hang. 1 is crushed. I talk about hysteria and the near murder of a 12-year-old girl by her friends so that they could meet "Slender Man".

Waving the Bloody Shirt and Whitfield's Shirt Cuffs! -- The MacDonald clan waits too long to pledge loyalty to the new King and are massacred brutally. The surviving wives wave their husbands bloody shirts to work up the troops. I talk about George Whitfield, holy relics and chunks of the Twin Towers.

The Salem Witch Trials and Slender Man

Two young girls, aged 9 and 11, are having fits that are not epilepsy. Then a 12-year-old and a 17-year-old are afflicted. It is judged that they have been bewitched. An investigation is launched to find the witches who cast the spell. The usual suspects are rounded up and questioned. Some die in custody including a baby born to Sarah Good. A trial is begun. Giles Corey refuses to enter a plea. In the modern day, when this happens, a judge will enter a "not guilty" plea on behalf of the defendant, but no such option exists in the law as yet. In order to force Giles to make a plea, the court has him "pressed". That is... progressively larger stones are placed on his chest until he speaks, or he is crushed to death. It takes Giles 2 days to die. Sarah Good is a homeless woman who walks from house to house begging for charity. When she is refused she walks away muttering to herself. When accused of casting spells, she says she was only reciting her (Bible) Commandments. When the court asks her to recite her Commandments, she stumbles through part of a Psalm. She has told a fatal lie. Out of 72 accused witches, 19 are found guilty, 14 of them are women. They all hang for the crime of witchcraft. [1][2][3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
There are a lot of directions I can go with the Salem Witch Trials. Was it simple hysteria? That is an interesting word, "hysteria". It is a Latin word that refers to a woman's womb. It was once believed that a woman's volatile moods centered on disturbances within her womb. Nowadays, it means uncontrollable panic. I don't think the court panicked. It took months to conduct the investigations and with a new King and Queen taking the throne (William and Mary) the court waited for new government representatives to arrive. No one was ever burned at the stake, but people did believe in possession and in "The Walking Dead," the zombies, not the TV series. Those were frightening times and it hasn't improved much today. In the summer of 2014, two 12-year-old girls lured their friend into the woods and stabbed her 19 times. They believed that offering their friend up as a sacrifice would cause "Slender Man" to appear. (Their friend lived.... just barely.) "Slender Man" is a fictional Internet character whose image appears in unexpected places and is a little freaky-looking. When I was a kid I would see graffiti declaring that "Kilroy was here." It was usually accompanied by the drawing of a man with a long nose peering over a wall. I never thought of him as real, though. FYI, as of this writing (December 2015) the trial has been postponed awaiting a decision on whether a 12-year-old can be tried as an adult, but the law in that state is clear.... in a murder case... yes. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

Waving the Bloody Shirt and Whitfield's Shirt Cuffs!

King William the 3rd of England and his wife, Queen Mary the 2nd have taken the Throne of England and chased out the former King James the 2nd. But King James was also King of Scotland and a number of clans rebelled in support of King James. Once King James escaped to France, the handwriting was on the wall. King William gave the Scots the opportunity to pledge loyalty to him and if they did he would grant them a pardon for rebelling. The one holdout was Alastair Maclain, chief of the MacDonald clan. Maclain intended to wait until the deadline and then submit. However, when he showed up, the official said he wasn't authorized to accept such an oath of loyalty. Maclain headed out to another town to declare his clan's loyalty to the King, but a snow storm delayed them well past the deadline. Nevertheless, Maclain had the impression that a little late was good enough. No one said otherwise. He gave his oath to the second official and then returned to Glenncoe. The Campbell clan was a long-time enemy of the MacDonalds and one morning, the Campbells rose early and massacred the MacDonalds. In the hands of the Campbells was a writ of permission from the King. Apparently, a little late was too late as far as the King was concerned. It was a brutal and bloody message. A few of the MacDonald clan wives managed to escape. They wanted revenge so they "waved the bloody shirts" of their dead husbands to rouse the clans to action. [13] [14]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
It seems strange to wave the clothing of the dead to inspire the troops, but this was more common than one might think, or want to talk about, but we are going to talk about it anyway. When the American Colonies were burdened under the Stamp Act, they sent two people to England to protest: Benjamin Franklin and Reverend George Whitfield. When Whitfield returned, he made it clear that revolution was coming. Had he lived he would have been an inspirational leader but he died in 1770 and was buried in a crypt under his pulpit. Nevertheless, when the American Revolution got started, the men who remembered him, visited his crypt, opening it and took pieces of his clothing... apparently as inspirational relics. Many churches have holy relics and when George Whitfield had himself buried under his pulpit, he was making himself into a holy relic. This need for relics extends to the gift shop of the Freedom Tower in New York, the site where the Twin Towers once stood. Crass as it might seem, you know darn well that if they thought they could get away with it, the gift shop would be selling chunks of the Twin Towers there. I don't know why human beings have this need, but we do. We are more embarrassed by it nowadays, but the feeling remains. [15] [16]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1692, Wikipedia.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

History: The Year is 1691

I've uploaded year 1691 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Halley's Diving Bell and the Bends -- Halley turns the diving bell into something practical. I talk about the Brooklyn Bridge and the bends.

Leisler's New York Rebellion -- During Prince William's fight to depose King James the 2nd, Jacob Leisler secures New York for Prince William and since William is now King, that should be a good thing, but Jacob is going to swing for it.

Halley's Diving Bell and the Bends

Edmond Halley is best known for predicting Halley's Comet, but Halley has many talents. He has designed a diving bell that can be submerged 60 feet and supplied with air for up to an hour. Metal diving bells and wooden-framed submarines have been something of a novelty up until now, but once Halley's design is turned into reality, extended excursions underwater will be possible. The diving bell will become useful for salvage operations and the higher pressures placed on the body are being used as a medical treatment for some diseases. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK... some pumps powered by steam engines existed in the late 1600s but they were rare and they pumped water... not air under pressure. Halley was not pumping air down to the diving bell. He was using weighted barrels filled with air. The diving bell was a heavy metal object that was open at the bottom. The barrels of air were released under the bell, thus supplying the additional air for breathing. Higher pressures of air can have a real beneficial effect on the body, because it allows bodily tissues to absorb more oxygen. However, if the pressure is released too quickly, the gasses that have been absorbed into the tissues, suddenly bubble up within the tissues and create an extremely painful condition known as "the bends". That term won't come into use until the 1800s when laborers will bend over in pain after digging out the foundations for the Brooklyn Bridge. A chamber of air under the water allowed workers to dig, but when they left the chamber to normal air pressure they would experience pain and some even died. Edmond Halley himself suffered from such tissue damage during his experiments with the diving bell. [3] [4] [5]

Leisler's New York Rebellion

For some reason, Jacob Leisler is going to hang even though he supported the New King William the 3rd and Queen Mary the 2nd of England. During the fight between Prince William the 3rd (a Protestant) and King James the 2nd (a Catholic) most of the Colonists supported William as the new King. In order to secure New York and the region in the name of King William, several colonists arrested the local officials and took the fort overlooking New York Harbor. These colonists designated Jacob Leisler as their leader so he quickly consolidated his position and waited for a new governor of New York to arrive from England. This all seems fine except that while they were waiting, the people of Albany objected to Jacob as the one to lead the colony. And then, the new Lt. Governor arrived from England... without the Governor and without official papers. (Those are with the Governor on the OTHER ship). Jacob refuses to turn over leadership to a man without official papers. The guys in Albany would like to roast Jacob over a low fire. The Lt. Governor appoints a number of advisors, mostly from the Albany group and when the official governor finally arrives, things do not look good for Jacob. Even so, Jacob might skirt by except that the Governor has been drinking, and with everyone encouraging the Governor to hang Jacob, he signs the order, and Jacob swings. [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
This whole mess was called Leisler's Rebellion and it was one of a string of rebellions. The only relation between these rebellions seemed to be that they were usually led by mid-range officials or farmers who were sick and tired of being lorded over by the aristocracy and the big-wigs. There was really nothing wrong with what Jacob did. His initial followers got off scotfree, but he had defied the first official representative of the King to have arrived and when the Governor got there, it seemed like he was too busy to be bothered. My sense is that these Kingsmen were acting like they were the King. They seemed to be offended that anyone would even think of defying them, regardless of the reason. We will see this scenario played out over and over again. Each time it happens it will produce resentment in more and more of the colonists until it results in the American Revolution. [7]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1691, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

History: The Year is 1690

I've uploaded year 1690 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

Massachusetts Issues Paper Money -- They need to pay the troops but they can't mint coins, so the issue an IOU. That IOU starts being used as money and inflation kicks in when the Treasurer realizes he can print all the money he wants... until it all comes apart.

Barclays Bank Begins -- I talk about the small-time origins of the bank and how it grew. It sounds a lot like how Bank of America got started.

John Locke Proves that the Mind is a Blank Slate! -- Locke overthrows the rationalist idea that reason is all one needs. I talk about William James' Pragmatism and Alcoholics Anonymous.

Massachusetts Issues Paper Money

New England has a real problem with their money supply: no coins equals no transactions. The colonies have been reduced to using Indian wampum and commodity trading, mostly in tobacco and animal furs. It is illegal to mint coins but the need was so great that a few years ago Massachusetts opened their own mint. The King finally shut it down but the money shortage has remained. There are no real banks in the colonies so they can't issue bank notes. Yet they must pay their soldiers as King William's War against France gets started. Massachusetts issues promissory notes to their soldiers backed by the full faith and credit of the Treasury of Massachusetts. (Stop laughing.) The soldiers can use these notes to pay their taxes so the colonists start using these notes like money. When the Treasurer realizes this, he prints off a lot more paper money. Merchants accept the bills at a discount. This is called "inflation". By 1716, the whole system will collapse and they will go back to coins and commodity trading. Like the definition of insanity, the Treasurer will try it again and again, expecting a different result. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
More is going on here than is apparent. Gershom's Law is at work... bad money pushes out the good. The good coins quickly disappeared under the mattress and were replaced by the increasingly worthless paper money. The Colonial governments were restricted in the ways they could issue money. Governments at this time would back their paper money by grants of land or they would impose the money on the populace, but England did not allow the Colonies to do this. That is why the Colonial governments had to engage in this legal fiction of an I.O.U.. The Colonies' money supply problems were helped by using Spanish pieces-of-eight but that didn't stop the Colonies from printing their paper money. By 1730 North Carolina was circulating 17 different types of money.

Barclays Bank Begins

Two goldsmiths open a bank on Lombard Street in London. The location is not a coincidence. A large population of Quakers live in the area and these goldsmiths are also Quakers. It was not unusual for goldsmiths to open a bank since they already have security measures in place for their work. Thus, providing security services for other people's precious coins is not much of a burden for them. In a few years, one of the banker's daughters will marry a fellow named James Barclay and he will become a partner in the firm. The growth of the bank will be due mostly to the clearing house services they provide to country banks outside of London. These country banks need an agent, someone they can trust to make the money transfers in London, and the religious aspect of the Quaker bankers make them a good choice. By 1776, the bank will be called "Barclay, Bevan and Bening" and by 1896 it will be known as "Barclays and Company." [3] [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
This reminds me of how the Bank of America came to be. In 1904, it used to be the Bank of Italy, but what it really should have been called was Amadeo's Safe and Saloon. Amadeo Giannini had experience as a banker but he couldn't talk anyone into backing a bank that catered to the small depositor. He knew that Italians were in the habit of saving their money so he rented out an old saloon and started taking deposits. He took in over $8,000 the first day. The Bank of Italy survived the Great San Francisco Earthquake and was able to make loans to rebuild the city. By 1928, it merged with the Bank of America. The point I'm making is that no one could do the same thing today. There are too many regulations designed to keep depositors safe, but those same regulations lock out the small competitors that used to exist not so long ago. [7] [8]

John Locke Proves that the Mind is a Blank Slate!

John Locke has been hanging out with too many politicians, lately, so he takes a break and sets out to DISPROVE the idea that the human mind is born with certain innate ideas. He believes that the mind is a blank slate, and over time the mind is filled with experiences and ideas. He publishes his "Essay Concerning Human Understanding" and it will become the basis for argument for years to come in philosophical circles and establish the philosophy of Empiricism, the idea that knowledge is based on rational thought, sensory experience, and experimentation. He doesn't get it all right but he is off to a rip roaring start. [9] [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The names of the various schools of thought are probably not important. The point is this. Reason alone is not enough, yet the old way of thinking depended on reason over experimentation. Locke was arguing for the discovery of knowledge based on the senses... essentially we know stuff because we have tried things out to see how they work. If Locke were a computer programmer, he would be called a hacker. The philosopher David Hume built on Locke's ideas and frankly it all sounds like William James' philosophy he called Pragmatism. William James is considered America's first psychologist. I don't think William James coined the term Pragmatism but he certainly made it popular. It is the basis for the pragmatic self-help group Alcoholics Anonymous. If it works, don't fix it. [12]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1690, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

History: The Year is 1689

I've uploaded year 1689 to the TSP Wiki...


Here are some one liners...

The Townspeople are Philistines! -- After a sermon about Sampson and Delilah the university students begin calling the townspeople "the Philistines". The label sticks.

Husqvarna... for all your Gun and Garden Needs -- Known for their chainsaws, they began by making muskets. I talk about Gaston Glock and how he started by making curtain rods.

The Bill of Rights -- In the midst of charging King James the 2nd of a violation of rights and liberties, someone figures that they ought to define what rights and liberties the people have in the first place.

Fair is Fair -- A list of notable events this year.

The Townspeople are Philistines!

The University of Jena (in present day Germany) is a source of prestige for the town. Aristocrats send their sons for a good education and along with their sons comes their money. But like young men everywhere, they have more on their minds than their studies. After classes, they come into town to drink, laugh and pinch the girls. This produces a lot of resentment amongst the townspeople and when someone throws a punch, it all comes apart. The next Sunday, the local preacher gives a sermon drawn from the Hebrew Scriptures: the story of Sampson and Delia. Sampson is a mighty Jewish warrior. Delilah is a temptress who betrays Sampson to the Philistines. The lesson is that a man should not let his base desires get him into trouble, but the students walk away with a different lesson. All the "Delilahs" are living in town so the students start referring to the townspeople as the "Philistines." This trend spreads to other universities and it soon becomes popular to refer to anyone who is uneducated or vulgar as a "Philistine." [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
College towns always take on a character different from their surroundings. Austin, Texas is a college town so if you wear Birkenstock shoes, love beads, and like to vote for expensive bike lanes that only 20 people use, while forcing automobile traffic into narrow and confusing lanes that increase accidents and if you love a commuter train that doesn't actually go to anywhere people wish to commute, then Austin is the place for you. On the other hand, if you want government to generally leave you alone, you live just outside of Austin, in Bastrop, Williamson or Hayes counties. While it is true that these counties lack the lavish amenities that you can find in Austin, Texas, it is also true that the local government isn't haranguing you about obscure building code violations or arresting you for eating a hamburger in a high crime area. [5] [6]

Husqvarna... for all your Gun and Garden Needs

Sweden's main arsenal has a problem supplying muskets for their troops. The metal-works that is located near the arsenal uses water-powered machinery, so when the local stream is low or is clogged with ice the production of muskets grinds to a halt. The King of Sweden has moved the metal-works to the town of Husqvarna where the water supply is more reliable and now musket production has jumped 800%. Husqvarna Weapons Factory Limited has begun as a government manufacturer of military weapons, but by 1757, the foundry will be privatized. The weapons business will drop off in the 1870s. Since the machinery used to make rifles can be used to create other metal products, Husqvarna will start making sewing machines, and then cast iron ovens, bicycles, lawnmowers and in 1959 they will enter the chainsaw business. By the late 1960s their gun business will be sold off to the Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors Carl Gustaf. [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Husqvarna had to adapt their existing machinery to other tasks as their weapons market dwindled. I am reminded of the history of the Glock which followed an entirely opposite path. Wikipedia lists Gaston Glock as an Austrian engineer, but he had been using his engineering skills to make curtain rods and knives with a small metal press in his garage! While he was trying to sell knives to the Austrian military he got a tip that they were looking for a new pistol. Steyr was the obvious choice as an Austrian gun manufacturer, but their pistol had a complex mechanism, and it tended to malfunction when dropped. Glock had never built a gun in his life and he didn't have the machines to do it, but without preconceptions, he could plan it out based on the most efficient manufacturing methods for the product. The result was a pistol that a soldier could use without forgetting to release the safety. It also had a simple mechanism so that if it needed small repairs you didn't need a machine shop. Glock submitted his prototypes in 1982 and they bought it. Sometimes not being burdened with a long history of manufacturing can be an advantage. [10] [11] [12]

The Bill of Rights

The English Parliamentary Convention has decided to charge King James the 2nd (just a few weeks escaped to France) with violations of the rights and liberties of the people of Great Britain. But someone has pointed out that one cannot charge the missing King with a violation of rights and liberties until the Parliament has defined what rights and liberties the people have in the first place. They create a Bill of Rights based largely on the writings of John Locke. This is more than a simple listing of rights. They are establishing a constitutional monarchy and the new King and Queen, William and Mary, must swear a new oath to enforce and follow the laws of Parliament and to follow the Anglican Church. [13] [14] [15] [16]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
What they produced is specific to the time, but what is implied are the rights and liberties of the people. In summary they are...
* The King must enforce and follow the laws of Parliament.
* The King cannot repeal a law without consent of the Parliament.
* The King cannot establish a Catholic Church or its institutions.
* The King cannot tax without consent of the Parliament.
* The King cannot raise an army in peacetime without consent of the Parliament.
* The right of the King's subjects to bear arms
* The right of free elections of the Parliament.
* The right of freedom of speech within Parliament.
* The right to be free of abusive fines and cruel or unusual punishment.
* The right to redress of grievances.
These and other rights are listed. One can see the beginnings of the Bill of Rights of the United States.

Fair is Fair

* The first trade fair is held in Holland. With a Dutch prince and princess on the throne of England, English and Dutch businesses are going to get a lot closer to each other. [17]
* Boston revolts! The Dominion is history. A mob grabs the unloved Governor of the New England Dominion. He will live and William and Mary will restore the original colony charters. [18]
* The English hearth tax is repealed! This was something like a property tax except that it counted chimneys and stoves. It was resented, and frankly, England did not have a long history of this type of tax, so bye-bye. [19]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1689, Wikipedia.