Sunday, September 27, 2015

History: The Year is 1654

I've uploaded year 1654 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Best Way to Stop Smuggling -- to to make it less costly to obey the law than it does to thwart it.

The First Jews Arrive in New Amsterdam -- The Governor wants to give them the boot, but his boss says no. I talk about the difficult interactions between Jews and Christians and between Jews themselves. (I'm Jewish, BTW.)

A Forest in Flames and That's a Good Thing -- I've covered this topic before but this fellow has written the first history of New England, so that is important. He comments on how good it is that the Indians set fire to the forests.

The Best Way to Stop Smuggling

Everyone knows that not all of the silver destined for Spain from the New World actually makes it to Spain. In 1602 the King of Spain was given an estimate of how much silver was loaded onto ships. Since the King knew how much arrived in Spain he could do the math... only one-eighth of the silver was making it to Spain. Very few people know exactly how much is being diverted now, but an Admiral once remarked that "The king of China could build a palace with the silver". The San Francisco Javier is one of these semi-legitimate smuggling ships. This year the ship will sink near Manila Bay. It's manifest is a matter of record. It says that the ship was carrying 418,323 pesos. When the ship is finally found centuries later, the divers will pull up 1,180,865 pesos. Apparently someone lied on the manifest... a whole lot. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Chinese were starving for silver and they had a lot of goods that the Spanish could buy cheap and sell in Europe for a lot more. The money was entirely too good for even the best of captains. Despite laws passed and good intentions of government officials, smugglers found ways to circumvent the port authorities. Why? Because buyers and sellers didn't agree with an attempt to manipulate market forces. It boils down to the fact that money and goods go where they can do the most good for the buyers and the sellers. Buyers and sellers will pay the taxes and follow the regulations as long it is not too painful but once breaking the law seems like the much easier path, the law goes out the window. Sometimes the best way to stop smuggling is to make it cheaper to obey the law than it costs to break it.

The First Jews Arrive in New Amsterdam

The Jews have fared better in the Netherlands than anywhere else in Europe, but "better" does not necessary translate as "good". Several hundred Jews immigrated to Dutch Brazil, but when the Dutch lose their colonies there, the colonists scatter to other Dutch holdings including New Amsterdam (which will someday be called New York). By the time they arrive, they are destitute, being reduced to asking for the charity of New Amsterdam. Unfortunately a government welfare program is non-existent and the Governor wants to expel these vagabonds. He checks with his bosses in the Dutch West India Company. Apparently, the Company can't stand the Jews either, but the Company is financed in part by Jewish money so the message is... Don't mess with the Jews, please. It's going to goof up our financing around here. [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In those days the best way to survive as a Jew was to make one's self indispensable in certain jobs. Since Jews were banned from farming, they took jobs that few people wanted such as bill collecting and sales or jobs that few people understood such as banking and medicine. They were also advisers to the nobility. Thus they became valuable in critical jobs in society even though some Jews were clearly a burden such as the immigrants to New Amsterdam (New York). Jews didn't start coming to the New World in numbers until the mid-1800s. By law, the European Jews had been sequestered in ghettos. To be cast out of a ghetto was a virtual death sentence so the social pressure to conform was tremendous. When Europe freed the Jews in the mid-1800s, they ran to the main ports of the United States which were were Charleston, South Carolina and Houston, Texas. Only much later did Jewish immigration switch to New York City. [6] [7] [8]

A Forest in Flames and That's a Good Thing

Edward Johnson (who I assume is the same fellow who founded Woburn, Massachusetts) remarks that the reason that the plains beyond the Mississippi are so well kept is because the Indians set fire to the forests on a regular basis. Indeed, the Indians do set fires regularly to clear out the dead brush and undergrowth that makes travel through a forest area so time consuming and difficult. The colonists see these forest fires as a virtue. One wonders how Edward Johnson knew what was happening beyond the Mississippi, but he did write the first history of New England which is published this year. [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Indians continued to do a lot of things like thinning out the brush, thinning out the herds and generally managing things. They did it for their own purposes but it helped the forest and general nature as well. The idea that "things should just happen naturally" is a bit of a cruel joke. What a person means by that is that if we just left well enough alone it would look like a park. Well... it won't look like a park. If you leave well enough alone, then herds of elk will starve to death "naturally" during winter. Before those starving elk die they will "naturally" strip the bark off of all the trees in an attempt to feed themselves and then the trees will "naturally" die. Those other animals that "naturally" live in a forest won't have a forest any more so they will "naturally" move on or die too. So, while I agree that human beings can be too intrusive at times, what comes naturally is often not very desirable for human beings, plants or animals.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1654, Wikipedia. 

History: The Year is 1653

I've uploaded year 1653 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

No Taxation without Representation! -- The English within Dutch territory want their natural rights and the rights of freedom of religion.

John Casor Walks Away from Slavery -- The first slave takes his case to court... and wins... and then loses.

 No Taxation without Representation!

The English and the Dutch have been settling Long Island for years with the Dutch congregating around New Amsterdam and the English on the east side of Long Island. Since the Dutch have dominion over the region they require the English colonists to take an oath to obey Dutch laws and to grant the Dutch final approval for elections and laws. However, the Dutch rarely exercised control over the English until recently. The English towns have been cutting into Dutch business so the (Last) Dutch Governor has made arbitrary decisions using his powers granted by "God and the Company" (meaning the Dutch West Indies Company) to resolve these conflicts including taxing the English. There is a rumor that the Governor is planning to attack the English settlers, so the English have risen up in rebellion. They say they are only claiming the rights that "the laws of nature give to all men." Apparently that includes no taxation without representation. The rebellion will be put down but nothing will change. Years later when the governor cracks down on Quaker religious practices, all Hell will break loose and historians will claim that the 1st Amendment right to freedom of religion will derive from the mistreatment of the Quakers by this Dutch Governor. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Several things were happening at the time. For one, the Dutch were at war with the English at sea over the Navigation Laws that England had passed which gave England exclusive rights to shipping. Secondly, the English population was booming. The Dutch population was not. It is difficult to enforce a claim over land if there are not enough people there to claim it. And then there were the normal problems with raucous frontier towns such as the drunkenness, theft and bedlam that occurs at any trading post as strangers with stuff to buy and sell come wandering through. The Dutch Governor wanted to bring order to this hullabaloo, but he didn't have the numbers, in terms of Dutch settlers, nor the legitimacy with the English because of his arbitrary land and tax policies. Eventually the Dutch unloaded New Netherlands onto the English in exchange for one of the Spice Islands that England controlled. The Dutch laughed up their sleeves but you know how that all worked out for the USA. [3] [4] [5]

John Casor Walks Away from Slavery

It had to start somewhere. John Casor is a black man who claims he is an indentured servant and that he contracted to work for "7 to 8 years" but after 14 years he is making claim against his master to be set free. Who is his master? Anthony Johnson who owns a large plot of land along the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Anthony Johnson is also a black man. He claims that there was no indentured contract and that John Casor is a slave for life but with two witnesses, John wins his freedom in court. Unfortunately, Anthony is not done with John. He will take John to court in a counter claim that one of the witnesses, Robert Parker, had lied. The court will rule in favor of Anthony and John will be forced to return to his service for life. Robert Parker will be forced to pay the court costs. [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Please note that contracts for indentured servitude were not necessarily written documents and a lot of people couldn't read anyway so you could be waving a grocery list at them and they wouldn't know the difference. Thus witnesses were very important in such disputes. This isn't the first English court case concerning slaves, but it is the first where the slave made an official claim for freedom through the courts. There were very few laws concerning slavery at that time, but the courts seemed more than willing to side with the master rather than the slave. I doubt that race entered into it in the sense that we think of race today. It was probably skin color that was more important. At the time there was a strong belief that people with black skin were cursed by God. It is called "the Curse of Ham." One of the sons of Noah looked upon his father's nakedness and was cursed but no change in skin color is mentioned in the Bible. Neither do subsequent Jewish religious writings mention such an idea, so it was probably cooked up by the slavers to justify what they were doing. [7] [8]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1653, Wikipedia.

Friday, September 25, 2015

History: The Year is 1652

I've uploaded year 1652 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Queen Kristina Converts to Catholicism -- The Queen of Sweden must abdicate her throne in order to convert! I talk about President Obama and accusations that he is a secret Muslim. I also talk about what would happen is a President converted to another religion.

The 'Latrine of New England' Places Limits on Slavery -- It is a first attempt for Rhode Island to place limits on slavery. It won't work.

Cape Town Is Founded -- With the labor shortage they must import slaves from Indonesia.

Queen Kristina Converts to Catholicism

Princess Kristina became the Queen of Sweden when her father, King Gustav the 2nd was killed in battle during the 30 Years' War. She has been quite precocious growing up. She soaks up knowledge like a sponge and she even talked the famous mathematician, Rene Descartes (DAY-kart), to travel to Sweden to teach her. (He introduced the Cartesian coordinate system.) But she has never been healthy and during an especially difficult illness she promises God that if she is healed she will convert to Catholicism. Well... she has been healed. She will have to abdicate the throne because Sweden will not tolerate a Catholic monarch. She doesn't mind giving up the throne, but she doesn't want to be thrown into poverty either so after two years of planning she will finally make her abdication speech. Her speech will be so moving that grown men will cry but she is not walking off of the world stage yet. Kristina will become one of the first modern "party girls". [1]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
President Barack Obama has suffered from accusations of being a secret Muslim. Candidate Donald Trump fielded a question from a supporter who called President Obama a Muslim. Candidate Ben Carson recently said, "I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation." OK. I get that, but what if a sitting President decided to convert to Islam, or Catholicism or Judaism? The religion of the President matters in terms of trust. The American people mostly understand Protestantism. They trust Catholicism less because of the power of the Pope to influence world events as we have seen during his recent visit to Washington DC (September 2015). The people would tolerate a Jewish President, but not a Muslim President because of the examples of Muslim violence in the Middle East. I'm told that the terrorists do not represent real Islam but when a guy points a gun at your chest and says he is a Muslim, you don't argue with him. In general I don't want a Muslim President until I see Islam showing a lot more restraint than they have so far and I don't expect to see it in my lifetime. [2] [3] [4] [5]

The 'Latrine of New England' Places Limits on Slavery

Well... Rhode Island has become the dumping ground for all of New England's undesirables. It is called the "latrine of New England". It is still getting organized and the Rhode Island legislature passes a law limiting slavery to 10 years maximum so that blacks and Indians fall in line with the ways of Englishmen. (They mean being treated like English indentured servants.) The punishment for non-compliance is a fine of 40 pounds which is a considerable amount of money. Apparently they can only enforce the law in Providence. Other Rhode Island towns refuse to comply. The legislature will try again in a few years to limit slavery, but that won't work either. Puritans don't particularly like slavery, but it is a part of life during these times, so they roll with it. [6] [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Roger Williams was the original founder of Providence, Rhode Island. He didn't like the idea of slavery but during the Indian wars, male Indian prisoners-of-war could not be trusted and they didn't have prisons to put them in so they were often sold into slavery to faraway places like Barbados. Roger Williams actually bought an Indian boy as a slave, but my sense in reading his account is that he was saving the boy. I don't know if the Indian boy was a Christian, but it was common to limit slavery to a fixed term if the slave agreed to convert. A good example of this is in the novel, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, when Crusoe and his Muslim servant are rescued at sea. The Captain offers Caruso free passage but the Captain wants to buy the Muslim boy as a slave. Crusoe is reluctant, so the Captain agrees to keep the boy for 10 years as a servant if he converts to Christianity. The boy agrees and he is sold to the Captain. [10] [11]

Cape Town Is Founded

The Dutch administrator, Jan Van Riebeeck, sails three ships to the Cape of Good Hope and establishes Cape Town. The problem he is trying to solve is the large number of deaths at sea on Dutch East India Company ships due to malnutrition. He is commissioned to plant food crops and establish a fort. A number of his almond trees will survive into the modern day. He is also credited with the first documented observation of a comet in the southern hemisphere. [12] [13]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
What I found interesting (other than it was the founding of Cape Town) is that they started off with a severe labor shortage so they had to import slaves into African from Indonesia. What a world.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1652, Wikipedia.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

History: The Year is 1651

I've uploaded year 1651 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Saint Peter's Flood and the Problem of Global Cooling -- I've talking about similar subjects. Several storm surges change the Islands near Germany and flood Amsterdam. You know that if this happened today it would be called man-made Global Warming even though the actual problem is nature.

The Deluge in Ukraine and the Problem of Winning a War -- Poland beats the tar out of Ukraine... just barely... but Poland fails to learn their lesson because they won, and even though several problems were exposed... they won! Why change? Because they are about to lose everything.

The English Navigation Act and the American Revolution -- England creates a monopoly by passing a law that their citizens use only British shipping. I talk about monopolies.

Saint Peter's Flood and the Problem of Global Cooling

A series of storms in the North Sea have produced storm surges that are collectively called Saint Peter's Flood. The Island of Juist off the coast of Germany is split in half when its sand dunes are washed away. Bodies are washed up all the way to Fulkum Warf and then buried in the backwash. 15,000 souls are lost. Dikes collapse and Amsterdam is flooded. The dual Islands of Juist will be rejoined into a single island in 1932 but the connecting dunes will remain vulnerable to North Sea flooding so additional barriers will be erected to protect them from erosion. These artificial barriers will create their own unique ecosystem that will be studied in the modern day. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I've said this before but there is nothing new about storm surges flooding islands, drowning the population and otherwise causing chaos. This is the consequence of Global Cooling or the Little Ice Age. Storms become more violent. If these same natural processes of Global Cooling occurred today, politicians and panic-stricken soccer moms would be screaming about "proof" of Global Warming and the melting of the polar ice caps! I don't doubt that Global Warming is happening. The Great Lakes were once filled with frozen glaciers, but they warmed up. I'm fairly sure that the warming process of the Great Lakes had nothing to do with automobile exhaust or factory chimneys. I'm not even sure Global Warming is a problem, but if it is a problem, I'm fairly sure the so-called solutions will only solve two problems: the problem of getting the next politician elected and the problem of putting money in the pockets of someone's brother-in-law.

The Deluge in Ukraine and the Problem of Winning a War

This is not a flood of water. It is a flood of troops and cavalry as the single largest military engagement of the century kicks off with over 280,000 men near the town of Berestechko. With 80,000 Polish mercenaries on one side and 200,000 Ukrainian peasants, Cossacks and Crimean Tatars on the other, it should be a slaughter and it is. The Cossacks and Ukrainians are killing off the local nobles so the Polish Prince Jeremi leads an army of mercenaries to find the Cossacks. The Prince meets with initial success by killing the Crimean cavalry leader the 1st day. The 2nd day in a miracle that is difficult to believe (but something like it must have happened) the Prince leads a charge into the teeth of the Cossack defenses using nothing but his horse, a saber and a few thousand mercenaries. This should have been impossible, but it helped that the Tatar leadership was killed by Polish artillery and a severe storm later produces so much mud and confusion that the Cossacks are trapped next to the river and destroyed. In the end, 700 Polish troops are killed compared to 20,000 to 30,000 Cossacks and Crimeans. [6] [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The rule of thumb is... the loser of a war learns more than the winner. That is because the winner won't fix what is wrong if it is working well enough to win. Meanwhile the losers have every motivation to build something better from the ground up. Ukraine and the Cossacks were later absorbed by Moscow creating a more efficient fighting force. Most of the Polish nobles disbanded their forces. You had all those costly horses and bullets and stuff. The stand down of forces set up Poland for an invasion by the Swedes that destroyed the Polish/Lithuania Commonwealth and allowed Moscow to move in as well. Thus, "saving money" cost Poland more than one can count in silver and lives. In the modern day, this "Peace Dividend" argument almost destroyed the US military after the Vietnam War. The USA would have cancelled critical combat systems like the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the Abrams Tank and Stealth Bomber had the "Peace Dividend" advocates won their argument. Regardless of what one may think of the conflicts in which those combat systems were used, the conflicts would have happened anyway. Without the Abrams, Bradley, and Stealth bomber, US troops would have died in larger numbers. [10]

The English Navigation Act and the American Revolution

Virginia grows a lot of tobacco but British shipping doesn't have the capacity (or efficiency) to handle the production so Virginia tobacco farmers have been turning more and more to Dutch shippers. After all, Dutch slaver ships are coming in regularly to provide a labor force for tobacco farmers so they already have a working relationship with the Dutch. (Those b@stards! Oh. I'm sorry. I meant to say, "Those businessmen!" Business can be as much a force for bad as a force for good.) The Puritans are the killjoys of the 17th century and they are running the English Parliament, so they pass the English Navigation Act. This is the first of a series of laws that will limit Virginia's and New England's shipping options to only one. English shipping now has a monopoly by rule of law. All hail Britannia. The Navigation Act will produce short-term gains for English shipping and long-term consequences for the world. The most strange consequence is that it will create a national identity for Norwegians as well as for Englishmen living in North America. [11] [12]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I was shocked when I realized how overreaching and intrusive this Navigation Act was. It put a lot of pressure, not only on Virginia shipping but shipping everywhere. Norway never really had much of an identity. It shared a crown with Iceland, Sweden and Denmark for a while and then just Denmark, but after Great Britain forced them to face the issue of shipping, Norway realized that they were being royally screwed by the King of Denmark! The King of Denmark's policies benefited Denmark a lot more often than Norway. In the same way, Englishmen in America resented this sort of legalized corruption (also known as a monopoly) and the Navigation Act set up the conditions for the American Revolution. (Can you say "The Boston Tea Party?" I knew that you could.) Monopolies don't last long without support of the government. When they occur in the modern day it is usually in the form of safety regulations, standards set by the government or intrusive paperwork that produces so much overhead that only an established business could absorb the costs while a small business running on a shoestring budget is overwhelmed by the up-front costs of starting their business. [13] [14] [15]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1651, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

History: The Year is 1650

I've uploaded year 1650 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Unfair Business Practices of Chinese Barbers -- The Chinese barbers are unfairly working harder, longer and appealing to their customer's needs! I also talk about the Koreans in the Rodney King Riots. (I think I talked about this before but from a different angle.)

Harvard Incorporated -- One wonders why Harvard College needed to incorporate at this time. Corporations are somewhat like guilds at this time.

A Few Significant Surprises -- A list of events including a woman who comes back from the dead.

The Unfair Business Practices of Chinese Barbers

The first Chinatown in the Americas is in Mexico City and Chinese barbers have become a source of controversy due their unfair business practices compared to Spanish barbers. The Chinese work harder. They work longer hours and they have moved their barber shops downtown to be closer to their customers even though they must pay higher rents. How can anyone expect to compete with that? A special government official is appointed this year to regulate the Chinese. He begins by limiting the number of razors a barbershop can own. This is meant to limit the amount of business a barbershop can handle but ultimately it's not going to work with people who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. [1]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I lived in Southern California before the Rodney King riots and I remember the attitude toward Korean businesses in the ghetto areas. The news media focused on how Korean grocers were preying on the ghetto community by charging higher prices, expecting their employees to work harder and keeping track of their inventory like they might be robbed at any moment... probably because they might be robbed at any moment. They expected their children to be brilliant students and they sent a considerable amount of money back to South Korea. So when riots broke out, it was no surprise that they were the target of rioters. But the Koreans stood next to their stores while openly carrying guns. If anyone messed with them they were not afraid to shoot. Really. The Koreans didn't wait for the police to protect them. They protected themselves. If it seems like I love the Koreans, well... I find them admirable.

Harvard Incorporated

Harvard College (which is Harvard University in the modern day) legally incorporates as "The President and Fellows of Harvard College". The actual working of the college is incorporated into the constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Harvard is considered the oldest corporation North America. [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
One wonders why an educational institution needs to incorporate. In 1650 Harvard College is not very large and it seems doubtful that there are a lot of tax benefits from incorporation. Having the college placed into the state constitution has the benefit of endorsing the college's efforts, but ultimately the people in charge of Harvard are the President and the Fellows which presumably means the faculty. In the 17th century corporations are private dictatorships or guilds. The dictators are subject to the will of the shareholders, but ultimately, it is the President's way or the highway until the President is replaced. Guilds work to protect jobs, but more than that, they control competition by limiting the number of members of the guild. That keeps wages high. Corporations also protect the collective rights of the investors including names, logos, property and money, money, money. Colleges today are institutions of learning but not necessarily institutions of teaching. Grants from the government, patents and licensing fees for inventions by the professors makes up a considerable income for colleges these days.

A Few Significant Surprises

* Kolumbo Volcano breeches the surface of the Aegean Sea and explodes. [5]
* The 1st employment agency opens and closes shortly thereafter. [6]
* The Coldstream Guards is founded and is the oldest English regiment still in existence. [7]
* Anne Greene wakes up in the morgue after being hanged for murdering a baby. She is pardoned. [8] [9]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1650, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1649

I've uploaded year 1649 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Cromwell Destroys a Village in Order to Save It... for Himself -- King Charles I is beheaded. England is now a commonwealth and Cromwell begins the massacre of Ireland.

Maryland Declares Death to the Infidels! -- The Law of Tolerances makes it intolerable to blaspheme God or deny Jesus and the punishment is the death penalty. I talk about the problem of the state being used to enforce religious law.

Cromwell Destroys a Village in Order to Save It... for Himself

The British Civil War has not been very civil. King Charles the 1st has been put on trial for treason, found guilty and beheaded three days later... and it is only January. His son, Charles the 2nd declares himself King, but England is not listening. England is now a commonwealth led by the English Parliament. Scotland and Ireland are very nervous. Many of them had sided with (the previously alive) King Charles. Oliver Cromwell is in charge of the New Model Army. The Parliament has made him Commander-in-Chief and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He heads to Ireland to take the port cities before winter. The port town of Drogheda refuses to surrender and after a week of bombardment by cannon fire, Cromwell's army breeches the fortifications. There will be no quarter given. 2,000 townsmen are put to the sword and Governor Aston is beaten to death with his own wooden leg. "Good Queen Bess" (Queen Elizabeth the 1st) is looking better and better all the time. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
If this is what republican government looks like then the people are looking longingly at the monarchy. The Irish royalists wanted stability and the rights to their own land which is why they had sided with King Charles the 1st. From the commonwealth point of view, the royalists looked like a rebellion waiting to happen (and had happened recently). Cromwell needed to take the port cities quickly because it was September and he required ports to land his supply ships before winter set in, so Cromwell bet on a quick assault. It doesn't explain the massacre, though. It was probably revenge for the previous rumored massacre of the Ulster Protestants during the Irish Rebellion of 1641. Wild rumors about the huge numbers of dead could not be substantiated but were believed, nevertheless, by the English. Cromwell needed the port town and he didn't need the people so at least half of them went bye-bye. In those days you were given one chance to surrender. After that, all bets were off. [4] [5]

Maryland Declares Death to the Infidels!

The Maryland General Assembly passes the Law of Toleration. Oddly, it does not tolerate blaspheming of the Lord and it declares its belief in the Holy Trinity. (That is, God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit all as part of the One God.) By "toleration" no doubt they mean both Protestant and Catholic beliefs are acceptable. Blasphemy against God or denying Jesus as Lord and Savior is now a capital crime in Maryland. Have a nice day. [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I can't help but sigh when I hear Christians express the fear that Muslims will make defamation of Mohammed a capital crime. The United States was founded upon Christian principles. It was also founded upon a few Jewish principles. I'm OK with that. What frightens me (and what should scare the snot out of anyone who studies history) is when the state law is used to enforce religious law. Generally accepted standards like "thou shalt not steal" and "thou shalt not murder" are reasonable. Most people can see the logic of those laws whether they are religious or not. Enforcing belief in the Trinity or putting people to death for defaming a major religious figure... even God... is over the line. You can say, "We would NEVER do THAT!" but in fact WE HAVE DONE THAT in the past. Modern day people want to discount their ancestors as knuckleheads, but they were every bit as smart as you are. They just had a different standard of tolerance. Imagine how it felt to be a Jew in Maryland in 1649. Christians are feeling that feeling right now. That is not payback. That is a warning. Make room in the law for the religious and the irreligious. If you want God's kingdom on Earth, wait for God to establish it and let HIM run it. The works of man are imperfect. [8]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1649, Wikipedia.

Monday, September 21, 2015

History: The Year is 1648

I've uploaded year 1648 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The (False) Messiah Makes His Claim -- A Jewish man claims to be the Messiah and about a third of all Jews believe him... until he converts to Islam. Then they stop believing him.

The Society of Friends, Spiritual Renewal and Global Cooling -- The Quakers are called that name for a reason. I explore why. It's weird.

The Peace of Westphalia Places Limits on Modern War -- The 30 Years' War and 80 Years' War come to a close and several treaties are signed that define how we limit war and how we place responsibility for the actions of a state's citizens.

The (False) Messiah Makes His Claim

This is a little embarrassing. In case no one has noticed, the world has been going to Hell in a hand-basket and it is running out of hand-baskets. Millions lay dead in Germany and the Netherlands. It is Hell on Earth. Both Christians and Jews have been waiting desperately for the Messiah. Surely this must be the time. In the midst this despair, a man named Shabbatai Zevi (shah-bah-TIE ZVEE) rises up from his prayers and declares himself to be the Messiah. The power and sincerity of his claim is like dropping a lighted match into dry grass. It is prophesied that when Zevi enters Istanbul he will take the Sultan's crown. When Zevi enters the city in 1666, the Sultan will have him arrested and give him the choice of conversion to Islam or death. Zevi will convert to Islam! Support for his messiahship will collapse except for a small core that will to wait for his secret plan to unfold. They will wait into the modern day... some as Jews... some as Muslims... and all of them... very, very weird. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I am going to discuss modern ideas about the Messiah and I can almost guarantee that it will make most people feel uncomfortable so the time to skip this section is NOW, NOW, NOW. OK. Here we go.... The word "messiah" literally means "anointed one" and in Greek it translates into "christ." That suggests a priest or military leader like King David but maybe not. The Prophet Elijah might precede him.... or Moses and many Jews believe that there is a Messiah candidate in every generation, or at least the potential of a messianic age. Christian ideas of what a messiah is varies too but generally speaking the Christian messiah is Jesus. I won't force my viewpoint on others, but I can point out past failures. There was Simon bar Kokhbah who led a revolt against the Romans in the year 132. Jacob Frank converted tens of thousands of Jews to Christianity in 1760. (A descendant of one of his followers was US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.) In the modern day, some Jews await the return of a particularly respected Rabbi who died in 1994. I respected him too but I'm not holding my breath. A story: There was a man whose job was Greeter at the gates of the city. One day a stranger asked the Greeter what he was doing. The Greeter told him that he was hired by the city to greet the Messiah when he arrives. The stranger asked, "Does that job pay well?" The Greeter replied, "No. But the work is steady." Indeed. The work is steady. I await the Messiah with perfect faith that he will arrive but I live my life as if I will be waiting awhile. [4] [5] [6] [7]

The Society of Friends, Spiritual Renewal and Global Cooling

Something is changing in general religious observance. People are seeking a personal connection with God. This is not new. There have been examples since the Middle Ages, but a lot of groups have been springing up lately to seek out a spiritual experience. With so much war, death and destruction (often precipitated by organized religion) is it any wonder that religious folk are looking for inner peace? The Quakers are not known as Quakers yet. That is an outsiders description of them. They call each other Friends and they have organized themselves into the Society of Friends. They are a strange group at this time, often falling down at meetings, shaking and crying out in an ecstatic frenzy. To be proven a prophet, individuals will walk around naked in public, "in obedience to the Lord." (There are 45 documented cases of Friends walking around naked for this purpose.) These peculiarities will cause a backlash and they will be called "Quakers" because of their shaking fits. These fits will be greatly reduced after 1660 but Society of Friends will be remembered for them and the name will stick. [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK. I love their oatmeal, and every Quaker I ever met seemed like a nice, normal, good person. So... what was happening in the 1640s and 50s to make these people shake and why did they eventually calm down (and put their clothes back on)? In an enthusiastic spiritual ecstasy, one could get caught up in hysteria. Psychologists call it "conversion disorder." It is brought on by stress and can produce muscle tremors and psychotic behavior. But that doesn't explain why the shaking tapered off in the 1660s. An article in the journal "Quaker History" points out that these are the symptoms of Saint Anthony's Fire which is caused by ingesting fungus-infected rye products. The fungus produces an hallucinogen. The reason why rye might be infected more in 1648 than other times is due to various volcanic eruptions and a sunspot minimum causing cooler temperatures. By 1660 the world temperatures began to rise, so there was less fungus. Those were strange times, so acting strange in those days was not unusual. People thought it was the end of days. You think you have it bad now? You should have seen it then. [9] [10]

The Peace of Westphalia Places Limits on Modern War

It is the end of the 30 Years' War and the 80 Years' War. (The war between Spain and France is ongoing but that will wind up soon.) Cardinal Richelieu passed away a few years ago but he had been pushing for an overall peace treaty between nations and states. It looks like he has reached out from the grave and made it happen. States are now sovereign in that they are responsible for what happens within their borders, so if you are not within their borders you can't just cross the border to fix it. The state cannot deny responsibility for what its citizens do outside of the state. Also the state cannot hand over military equipment to non-military organizations (like terrorists, pirates, insurgents) and then say it had no idea what they would do with the equipment. Religious freedom is extended to the state sovereign only. He or she selects a state religion, but those who do not hold to the state religion are allowed to worship publicly at designated times or in private at any time they wish. In many ways, the Peace of Westphalia defines how we think of war and peace today. Millions upon millions of people have died for these treaties to be signed, and the lessons of horror will guide our behavior into the modern day. [11] [12]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
When planes were crashed into the Twin Towers on September 11th, many people looked at the nationality of the terrorists and blamed the country from which many of them came from. Why? The Peace of Westphalia. The USA demanded that the Taliban turn over Osama Bin Ladin when he resided in Afghanistan. The Peace of Westphalia means that it was Afghanistan's responsibility to produce him. When they refused, the USA declared war against Afghanistan, as if it was responsible for AL-Qaeda's actions... because of the Peace of Westphalia. And many years ago when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the USA sold weapons to the Afghan guerrillas through the CIA instead of directly from the US military because the Peace of Westphalia does not allow a direct sale of military hardware to non-government agencies like Afghan guerrillas. It seems at times like our governments forget what the Peace of Westphalia did for the world and to the extent that they forget, the closer we come to a war without limits. [13] [14] [15]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1648, Wikipedia.

Friday, September 18, 2015

History: The Year is 1647

I've uploaded year 1647 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Almost Every Building in Santiago, Chile Collapses -- The recent headlines of a massive earthquake in Chile, prompted me to write about this 1647 earthquake. I talk about building standards in earthquake regions.

Yellow Fever Hits the New World -- It comes to Barbados. I also talk about why it is called yellow fever and I talk about the Panama Canal.

England Bans Christmas! -- The Puritans don't like the festive character of the holiday. I talk about the influence of the holiday and how it has lost much of its original meaning.

Almost Every Building in Santiago, Chile Collapses

On the evening of May 14th, at approximately 10:30 PM, an 8.5 magnitude earthquake hits Santiago, Chile. Estimates are that 1,000 to 2,000 people have been killed and almost every building in Santiago has collapsed. The Church of Saint Agustin has collapsed and according to legend, the church crucifix (a representation of Jesus on the cross) survives but the crown of thorns now hangs around the neck of Jesus. That is considered impossible and thus a miracle. The Cristo de Mayo crucifix will be paraded in the streets every year thereafter into the modern day. The Church of Saint Agustin won't be rebuilt until 1705 and as far as I can tell, it is still standing even after the recent 8.3 earthquake (in 2015). [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
On September 16th, 2015 an 8.3 magnitude earthquake hit 177 miles north of Santiago, Chile. 8 people were killed including one woman who died when a wall fell on top of her. (The number one way to die in an earthquake is to run outside and have a brick hit you on the head!) One million people self-evacuated from the coastline. (No one waited for a government bus.) The surge was 15 feet in some places but flood damage was minimal. Strict building standards in earthquake-prone regions have resulted in radically higher survival rates. However, one standard does not fit all. The window placement in my home in Austin, Texas would never be allowed in Chile because the windows are too large and too close to the corners of the building. Windows weaken the structure of a wall and would cause a collapse of the building in a earthquake... except we don't get earthquakes in Austin... so I'm OK! Always check the local building standards and ask WHY they are different (if they are different). There is no sense in overbuilding unless there is a good reason to do so. [4] [5]

Yellow Fever Hits the New World

It begins in Barbados. The major sugar cane plantations are located there. Sugar cane production requires that the plants be boiled down immediately after harvest and the resulting syrup poured into clay pots. This process requires hundreds to thousands of clay pots and thus clay pots are sitting around unused between harvests. They fill with water and become the perfect environment for mosquitoes that carry yellow fever. The only wonder is why yellow fever has not hit the island earlier. Whatever the reason, it hits hard now. It will kill over 30% of the population of Barbados in 18 months and move on to surroundings islands and all the way to Panama. The epidemic will last for 5 years and even reach Massachusetts which will be forced to institute its first quarantine of ships. [6] [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
So... why is it called "Yellow Fever?" The disease causes jaundice which gives a yellow pallor to the skin. Sailors call it "Yellow Jack" because a yellow flag is raised to indicate that the fever has infected the ship. Yellow fever probably came from West Africa when slaves were brought to the West Indies. Most West Africans were immune to yellow fever because they usually got the fever as children. A child's immune system is better able to fight off the disease and one is immune thereafter. In the late 1800s when France attempted to construct the Panama Canal it lost about 200 men a month to yellow fever, and malaria. Then the USA took over the project. Major Walter Reed (Yes, THAT Walter Reed) led a team which discovered that yellow fever is a mosquito-borne disease so they fought the disease by fighting the mosquito. A vaccine was finally developed in 1937 by Max Theiler who received the Nobel Prize for that one. Well deserved. [10]

England Bans Christmas!

The dates of various events in history have come into question... in particular the birth date of Jesus as December 25th. The English Puritans believe that Christmas is a holiday invented by the Pope. There is also a lot of unseemly festive behavior associated with the holiday, so the Parliament passes a law banning the holiday this year. Apparently this law is not very popular with the rank-and-file. People like Christmas! The Easter Bunny breathes a sigh of relief. He was next. [11] [12] [13]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
After one sees a New Orleans' Mardi Gras one can imagine how religious holidays might lose their connection to the original meaning of the holiday. Certainly this has happened with Christmas. Regardless of the actual date of the birth of Jesus, it seems perfectly reasonable to celebrate his birthday since he is a significant figure in Christianity and in history as a whole. Even Judaism has been affected by the holiday. Chanukah is a minor Jewish holiday that has become popular only because it is observed around December. Yet Chanukah has as much to do with Christmas as Cinco de Mayo does. That is... if Cinco de Mayo occurred in December you can bet that the holiday would take on some of the festive character of Christmas. Christmas is massively influential yet if the birth of Jesus is mentioned at all, it is usually as a side point. It's a serious holiday, but people want Christmas to remain a fun festival. The Christians shouldn't feel too discouraged. Judaism has a similar problem with Jews who won't take serious Jewish holidays seriously either.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1647, Wikipedia.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

History: The Year is 1646

I've uploaded year 1646 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Opposition to Biblical Law in New England Government -- The Puritans of New England are imposing biblical law and some people object. I talk about what I do as an Orthodox Jew when biblical law conflicts with the law of the land.

The Praying-to-God Indians of New England -- Reverend Eliot converts over 1,000 Indians to Christianity after he translates the Bible into their own language.

The Gunpowder Safety Tip of the Day! -- One lightening strike and boom! I talk a little bit about corning.

Opposition to Biblical Law in New England Government

The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay colony are using the Law of the Bible as the law of the land. While biblical law can be harsh, the court is taking into account extenuating circumstances. Nevertheless, an unrepentant homosexual in New Haven, Connecticut is put to death this year. A small but religiously diverse group has protested to the leadership and have threatened to get the Massachusetts Bay charter revoked. The protesters are arrested and forced to make a bond of 200 pounds (or about $45,000 in 2014 dollars.) One fellow named John Child is denounced for being a scientist, a reformer and for using "big words." John feels he doesn't need the government to coerce him into obeying God's laws. He is doing so voluntarily. (He really is.) With all this pressure, John Child returns to England and his Massachusetts ironworks business fails causing an economic downturn in the colony. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Since biblical law sometimes conflicts with the law of the land, the rule I follow as an Orthodox Jew is: "The law of the land is the Law." Biblical commandments often have more than one way to accomplish them. If I have a choice I am REQUIRED to perform the commandment in a way that does not violate the local law. If I have no choice, I must move away rather than violate biblical law. So... what happens when the Bible says XYZ is a capital crime? Simply put, one is only required to execute people who are convicted in a capital case in a formal court of law. Thus, if I kill someone in the street, I will not be put to death until AFTER I am convicted... even in Texas. It depends on the evidence, the reliability of the witnesses and extenuating circumstances. The Bible does not dictate what the rules of evidence are. In traditional Jewish Law the rules of evidence are draconian in a capital case. It is obvious that Jewish courts do not not want to put people to death.

The Praying-to-God Indians of New England

As one might imagine, the Puritans of New England have been trying to convert the local Indians for some time, and the Indians have been rather bored with the whole business... until now. The Reverend John Eliot of Roxbury, is being called the 'Apostle to the Indians.' What is his secret? He has learned the Algonquin language and has translated the Bible and critical religious documents into their language. He hasn't converted anyone yet (or there is no documented evidence that he has yet) but it is clear that the Praying-to-God Indians will need a place to live apart from other Indians. Experience has shown that Christian ritual practice tends to undermine the Indian social structure of the medicine man and the pow-wow because, frankly, Christian prayer is considered the cure for sorcery and takes the place of medicine men. Reverend Eliot has bought some land so that the Praying-to-God Indians can establish their own churches and government apart from the non-Christian Indians. In the modern day, the site of the first "Praying Town" is called Natick, Massachusetts which is in the Greater Boston Area. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
A Native American Indian named Waban is documented to be the 1st Indian convert in New England. (Remember that the Spaniards had been converting Indians to Christianity for years prior to 1646.) Some historians called Waban the chief of his tribe. It is not clear what Waban was but he was not a chief. He and another Indian were critical in converting over 1,000 Indians to Christianity, but the Praying-to-God Indians were dispersed a few years later after the 1st Indian War. (The war was not between the colonists and the Praying-to-God Indians but their conversion caused a lot of tension with the other Indians.) Waban, Massachusetts is named after the same Indian convert. [9] [10] [11]

The Gunpowder Safety Tip of the Day!

Do NOT store so much gunpowder in a single place that a lightening strike will blow your castle sky high, killing everyone in it and damaging the surrounding city. Bredevoort Castle (or what is left of it) still resides in the Netherlands. [12] [13]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Serpentine gunpowder was still in use in the 17th century. It tended to separate and be very dusty. The danger of random sparks setting off gunpowder was greatly reduced with the process of corning which involves adding water and grinding the gunpowder slowly and ever so carefully. (Please don't consider this description as actual directions on how to do corning. I don't want your spouse picking pieces of what is left of you out of the trees.) [14]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1646, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

History: The Year is 1645

I've uploaded year 1645 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Little Ice Age and the Problem with Error -- Sunspots disappear for 70 years and no one can explain it. I talk about the problem with the error in numbers and the Star Trek transporter.

Wallpaper Takes the Place of Tapestry -- It is handmade. I also talk about the window sash.

The English Civil War Lumbers On -- A list of key events but generally the Parliamentarians (Roundheads) are winning.

The Little Ice Age and the Problem with Error

This year begins 70 years with virtually ZERO sunspots reported. Of course, an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. There are indications that the reports on solar events might be spotty and uneven in the 17th century. Yet future scientists will use these reports as if the readings were as methodical, accurate and precise as modern day measurements. It makes one uncomfortable that we are counting on these measurements to make decisions today, but the lack of solar activity in the 17th century corresponds with the worst drop in temperatures in the Little Ice Age and a change in the amount of carbon-14 in the air, coupled with a drop in the number of reports of the Aurora Borealis. Because of this corresponding evidence one can reasonably assert that there was a reduction in solar activity and it was really, really strange. As much as we want to believe that the Sun works in predictable cycles, scientists really can't explain 70 years with almost no sunspots. They can only say that it probably happened. [1]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
One of the problems with scientists (one of several) is that they get caught up in fads. Toward the end of the 1800s, most scientists believed that they understood how everything worked except for a few minor anomalies. Then Albert Einstein changed everything with Relativity and then Max Planck, Niels Bohr, and Werner Heisenberg changed everything with Quantum Mechanics. It was an inside joke when the Star Trek "transporter" had trouble with the Heisenberg compensators. Werner Heisenberg came up with the uncertainty principle but the Star Trek "transporter" needed to be certain were every atom was. Of course, the bigger joke is the assumption that all historical temperature readings are equally methodical and precise. They barely had working thermometers in the 17th century! Calculations cannot be more accurate than the numbers you punch in. As I learned in computer class... garbage in, garbage out, or "To err is human but to really screw up you need a computer!" [2] [3] [4]

Wallpaper Takes the Place of Tapestry

As a wall decoration, some sort of paper wall covering has been around since the late 1400s but this year "paper tapestry" is just beginning to replace normal tapestries as the wall covering of choice for the discriminating palace or aristocratic manor. The paper is handmade and the decorations are painted on the paper or printed using woodblock stamps. Commercially viable production wallpaper won't be available until the early 1700s. [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Can window sashes be far behind? Actually, like wallpaper, window sashes have been around for a while but they won't become popular until the 1680s or so in the Netherlands and England. They still aren't weighted yet, so they tend to fall and the windows are fairly difficult to open. [8]

The English Civil War Lumbers On

* The Oxford Parliament was established by King Charles the 1st last year to raise money for the civil war. [9]
* Oliver Cromwell becomes Lieutenant-General of the Cavalry. (Long Parliament) [10]
* Thomas Fairfax becomes commander-in-chief. (Long Parliament) [11]
* The New Model Army is the first army that is not tied to a specific area. (Long Parliament) [12]
* Battles too numerous to mention mostly won by the Long Parliament troops who outnumber the Royalists 2-to-1. [13]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In general, the Royalists were losing to Cromwell and the Parliamentarians.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1645, Wikipedia.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

History: The Year is 1644

I've uploaded year 1644 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Manchu Army Takes Beijing -- The Ming dynasty as a ruling class of Emperors is done. There was a traitor at the gate.

The Jews of Mogilev are Murdered for a Metaphor -- It's the Jewish New Year and I explain that casting one's sins upon the waters is a metaphor. It's nothing to die for.

It's Mass Murder in China... uh... Portugal... no... China -- A Spaniard is murdered in a church in China because he supported the rejoining of Spain and Portugal.

The Manchu Army Takes Beijing

A few years ago a popular revolt (meaning a revolt at the level of the people) rose up in China after financial collapse, crop failure, drought and perceived government incompetence. The Manchu dynasty was established and it declared itself rulers of China, but they really weren't yet. The rebellion has continued until the Manchu army now approaches Beijing. The gates are thrown open! General Wu Sangui welcomes the army into the Forbidden City. The current Ming Emperor is just 33 but he realizes what comes next. He hangs himself and the new Manchu Emperor takes control... for about a year. Then someone else will take control. Then General Wu will take the reigns before he is removed too. General Wu, was a traitor and he was NOT to be trusted, but unfortunately... someone trusted him. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Was the Ming dynasty really incompetent? In some ways the bureaucracy had become so inefficient that it was laughable. They would make excuses to go on fact-finding trips and while on those trips the locals would perceive the visit as a prelude to some Chinese government incursion or crackdown and riots would ensue. The bureaucrats would seem too glib. This would be perceived as lies... which they probably were, but not lies to hide something terrible other than they were goofing off and spending a lot of money on nothing. They also had problems with piracy, but their solution was to stop all shipping. This increased smuggling, and in the end, the government had to make a deal with the pirates, turning them into government officials themselves. It was a policy of "It takes a thief to catch a thief" which is an interesting idea until you find your government run by thieves. [4]

The Jews of Mogilev are Murdered for a Metaphor

Mogilev is a town in Lithuania and in a ceremony performed as the Jewish New Year begins, Jews empty the contents of their pockets into a body of water as a metaphor for casting away one's sins. (Don't take your wallet.) Often they will carry bread to cast into the water instead. It doesn't matter. It's a metaphor, and it is not clear what happened next, but as they were casting things into that body of water they were attacked and killed. A few years later, the town will surrender to the Russian army on the promise that the town expel all the Jews. The Jews are marched to the outskirts of the city but instead of letting them go they will be murdered by Russian troops. [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK. That was gruesome. I mention it because I am Jewish so I care about that kind of thing, and because it is the Jewish New Year, right now. I'm offline and hopefully I'm attending religious services. I also hope not to get kneecapped while I'm casting my sins on the water. IT'S JUST A METAPHOR! I once attended services at the synagogue in Tokyo, Japan. They told me of the time when they couldn't find a natural body of water in which to cast away their sins, so they walked to the local reservoir and simply flicked their hands as if they were throwing something away. Someone saw them and called the cops. It took a long time to convince the Japanese authorities that IT WAS A METAPHOR! They weren't actually throwing anything into the reservoir. Folks sometimes get nervous. I understand, but let's all take a deep breath. We can get through this. [7]

It's Mass Murder in China... uh... Portugal... no.... China

Portugal was absorbed into Spain something like 60 years ago, but it remained a separate province. Then Portugal broke away from Spain in 1640 in a violent way and it continues to fight for its independence. Thus it is no longer safe to be a Spaniard in Portugal, especially if you are a strong supporter of rejoining Spain and Portugal. However, one would think one would be reasonably safe IN CHINA! Not so. One such fellow, a Spanish solider, seeks refuge in Saint Dominic's Church after a mob attacks him. Unfortunately the Church membership IN CHINA has sided with the Portuguese. During the mass, he is murdered at the altar. Nationalism often trumps religion even when you are in a different nation entirely. [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I made this point when the 30 Years' War changed from a religious war into a war for national interests. It essentially came down to the soldiers of the same religion fighting each other. Nationality matter more than religion. If you think that imposing a religion on government will somehow bring government to heel, think again. I've not seen that work in practice. It is an ideal not yet proven to work in the current environment and often proven to fail except for small homogenous communities... and often not even then. (I'm looking at you, Pilgrims! You forced people to create Providence, Rhode Island because you couldn't make a religious state work in Massachusetts.)

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1644, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1643

I've uploaded year 1643 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The War of the Three Kingdoms and Remembering the Alamo -- England, Scotland and Ireland are slugging it out. It's the beginnings of the Troubles. I also talk about the Alamo and how everyone knows the name of an historical event but often don't know anything about how it got started.

The White Slaves of Barbary and the Mark of the Nazarene -- 3,000 to 5,000 Englishmen have been taken taken into slavery by the Muslims. I talk about ISIS and how Christians are being redeemed by philanthropists and being criticized for doing so.

Some Critical Discoveries -- Just a list of well known places that have been discovered this year and last year.

The War of the Three Kingdoms and Remembering the Alamo

Every since the Bishops' War ended between Presbyterian Scots and Anglican English, the Irish Catholics have been feeling uncomfortable. Peace between the Scots and the English means turning their unused armies loose upon Ireland. Most Englishmen see Ireland as a wilderness populated with primitive, uncivilized people, so the English and the Scottish Protestants feel justified in civilizing it. But the Irish Catholics can't tell the difference between the process of "civilizing" and the process of stealing everything they have! With the ongoing British Civil War, the Catholics make a deal with King Charles the 1st to keep their lands. That frees up the royalist armies to fight in the civil war down south, but after King Charles loses that war, the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell will remember the Irish Catholics who sided with the King. By the end of the century only 14% of Ireland will remain in Catholic hands. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Well...I made the Irish Catholics look better than they actually were. Certainly they were being taken advantage of and certainly their land was being confiscated. On the other hand, the Catholics massacred an enormous number of Protestants during the Irish Rebellion. The exact number is lost in competing claims but everyone agrees... it was a massacre. In the modern day if you asked most people when "The Troubles" in Ireland began, very few would point to the 1600s and the imposition of the (Protestant) Ulster Plantation on the Irish Catholics. But like the cries of "Remember the Alamo!" people rally to the call, even if they can't remember how the fight at the Alamo got started in the first place. (It was a pivotal battle in the Texas Revolution for independence from Mexico. FYI, Texas won.) [8] [9] [10] [11]

The White Slaves of Barbary and the Mark of the Nazarene

The Barbary Pirates have been devastating English shipping. At this point 3,000 to 5,000 men, women and children have been taken capture and sold as slaves by the local sultan. Even in the midst of the British Civil War, Parliament makes demands on the local churches to collect money to ransom their fellow Englishmen. It's going to take a lot of money to get this job done. On average a slave can be redeemed for about 150 pounds sterling or about $20,000 in modern dollars. [12] [13] [14]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the modern day I estimate redeeming a Christian in Syria costs a little over $6,000 so the price has gone down. As ISIS spreads across the Levant, and Syria collapses into chaos, Christians are being marked for death with a special symbol, the Mark of the Nazarene. This mark, spray-painted on one's home means, "A Christian lives here and will soon die here". Some philanthropists such as Lord Weidenfeld have arranged to fly Christians to Poland. Lord Weidenfeld is a Jew who was saved by Christians during the Holocaust, so he is returning the favor. The government of the United States turned away Jewish refugees escaping from Nazi Germany because it didn't want to anger the Germans. Now they are turning away Christian refugees because they don't want to anger the Muslims. This is why government should never be used as a vehicle for selfless do-gooding. Government is never selfless and it rarely does good except in very limited ways... like building roads and schools. [15][16] [17] [18] [19]

Some Critical Discoveries

* The Fiji Islands are discovered. (Truman from "The Truman Show" is happy.) [20] [21]
* Christmas Island is discovered. (Santa is happy.) [22]
* Tasmania was discovered last year by a guy named Tasman. What a coincidence![23]
* New Zealand was discovered by the same guy. He called it Staten Island. [24]
* Australia has long been discovered but the Dutch found in it 1606. [25]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1643, Wikipedia.