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.

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