Monday, November 30, 2015

History: The Year is 1683

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Pigs Finally Fly! Taxation with Representation Guaranteed -- New York gets a provincial assembly and passes a law on swine control. I talk about present day feral pig control and the out of control government.

German-Dutch Colonists and the Easter Bunny Come to Pennsylvania -- The first major presence of German "Pennsylvania Dutch" arrive and map out Germantown.

A Hard Frost -- The ground is frozen 3 feet deep in southern England.

Pigs Finally Fly! Taxation with Representation Guaranteed

Notices have been sent out and representatives for the first Assembly of the Province of New York are selected. New York is the last of the English colonies to create an Assembly. Nevertheless, it is the first colony to establish a constitution which includes the right of the colonists to have representation prior to taxation. All foreigners are naturalized and the New York Province is split into 12 counties (10 of which will remain as New York counties into the modern day). Towns are considered subdivisions of the county rather than separate entities. Aside from setting up the basic structure of government, the Assembly passes a law offering a bounty for wolf hides and cracks down on swine farmers and the problem of feral pigs destroying the crops and becoming a general nuisance. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In over 200 years of laws regulating swine farmers and feral pigs, the government is still trying to solve the problem. This first law was reasonable. A farmer was required to keep his pigs on his own property with adequate fencing. If the pigs escaped, it was his responsibility to either collect them or kill them. If his pig wandered onto his neighbor's property... BANG! The neighbor was allowed to shoot it. If the pigs were still loose after March of the following year, it became a public hunt with the successful hunter receiving one third of the value of the pig, the local constable receiving two thirds and the owner of the pig receiving ZERO! In the modern day, the government has become an increasing problem... along with the pigs. Large commercial farmers have pressured the government to shut down smaller farms based on this concern over pigs. The penalties are so devastating that many farmers have killed their pigs rather than take the risk. If a farmer has a bad history then throw the book at him, but the government should not treat first-time offenders like hardened criminals. [4] [5] [6] [7]

German-Dutch Colonists and the Easter Bunny Come to Pennsylvania

Years of war have pushed many Germans out of the Holy Roman Empire, along the Rhine and into the Netherlands. Now, with William Penn's encouragement, these Quakers and Mennonites have come to the New World. Germantown won't actually be incorporated until 1691, but they lay out a general plan for the town. By 1883 German-American Day will commemorate the 1683 establishment of the first significant German presence in the 13 colonies. That annual celebration will continue until World War 1 when most Germans will prefer to keep a low profile in the United States. President Reagan will restore the holiday in 1983 after a suitable period of reconciliation. [8] [9] [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
These early Germans are often called "Pennsylvania Dutch" even though their connection with the Dutch was relatively brief. It is like calling the Plymouth Bay Pilgrims "Massachusetts Dutch". While technically correct, it is misleading. Nevertheless, many of their German descendants take on the "Pennsylvania Dutch" label today. They are mostly Menonites and I assume there are many Pennsylvanians who take pride in the connection even though their German is a little rusty. Germantown is significant beyond the value it has brought to the Germans. They brought their customs along and many of those have been incorporated into modern day American life, such as the Easter Bunny, and the legend of William Tell which is Swiss but the story comes to America through the Pennsylvania Dutch. And yes. George Washington slept in Germantown. [12] [13]

A Hard Frost

An unusually harsh winter marks this year and into the next as one for the history books. The ground has frozen solid, three feet deep in Southwest England. With so many emerging scientists in England and France at this time, many are commenting on the weather and theorizing on the reasons for the exceptional cold. This is the Little Ice Age and while it has been an ongoing issue for well over a century, this stretch of time is going to be especially bad. [14]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Keep in mind that they still don't know what cold is. Many still think it is a natural force separate from heat. Frankly, they don't even have a good theory on heat either. That won't come about until 1871. It's not that they aren't thinking about it, but actually proving how it works is a different matter. [15]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1683, Wikipedia.

Monday, November 23, 2015

History: The Year is 1682

I've uploaded year 1682 to the TSP Wiki...

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Where No Man Has Gone Before... -- History highlights. Since Thanksgiving is near so I'm taking a break and providing a list of history highlights rather than the full history treatment.

Where No Man Has Gone Before...

* It is Mardi Gras Time! - Frenchman, Robert La Salle makes claim to Louisiana in the name of France along with the entire Mississippi Valley. [1]
* Philadelphia - William Penn establishes Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Germantown will be established next year. In the modern day, Germantown is a suburb of Philadelphia. [2] [3] [4]
* Halley's Comet Appears! -- The comet is not known as Halley's Comet yet, but in 1705 Edmond Halley will establish that it has appeared before and predicts when it will appear again. When his prediction comes true, the comet will be named after him, but he will be long dead by that time. [5]
* Peter the Great becomes Tzar of Russia! - He is just 10-years-old so his sister, Sophia, becomes regent. [6]
* "The rumors of my assimilation are greatly exaggerated." - The astronomer, Jean-Felix Picard, has died. He was the first to measure the size of the Earth to any sensible degree of accuracy. [7] [8]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1682, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1681

I've uploaded year 1681 to the TSP Wiki...

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New Beginnings -- As Thanksgiving approaches I'm putting out a brief list of history highlights. I have no doubt I'll be able to comment on these issues in more detail later.

New Beginnings

* Pennsylvania is Established: - A royal charter is granted land to William Penn to lands previously claimed by the Dutch and Swedes. The region is called Upland, but after some brainstorming Penn comes up with a better name... PENNSYLVANIA! [1] [2]
* Bank Checks for London - The first checks appear in England. [3]
* Bank Checks for Boston: "The Fund at Boston in New England" is established. This is a membership bank that allows an exchange of funds between bank members using bank credits that look a lot like modern bank checks. [4]
* Dancing Girls in Paris!: The first women professional dancers appear in Paris... Opera dancers. Not the other kind. [5]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1681, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1680

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Slavery Soars in Virginia -- This year historians note that slavery in Virginia makes a serious uptick. I talk about modern serfdom.

Popé's Pueblo Revolt and the Promise of Paradise -- The Pueblo Indians revolt against the Spanish on the promise of Paradise. I talk about past attempts at Paradise, religious and secular and how it can't be forced.

Slavery Soars in Virginia

The current number of slaves in Virginia is approximately 3,000. In the next 20 years that number will grow to 16,000 and by the time of the 1790 U.S. Census, 300,000 slaves will be living in Virginia. That will be more than 40% of all slaves in the United States of America. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The question is... Why did the growth in the slave population take a suddenly jump in 1680? The previous Governor of Virginia had been pushing toward a more diversified economy instead of the labor-intensive (but extremely profitable) tobacco crops. When the Governor fell from power, tobacco was locked in as the cash crop for Virginia and that locked in slavery. There was also a recent labor shortage in England which drove up labor costs, making slavery more economically viable. And there was a problem for the Virginia farmer with a free and mobile workforce. The economist, Adam Smith, noted that with so much land available in North America, a mobile workforce could move to their own plot of land and work it themselves whenever they didn't like how the existing farmers were treating them. In the modern day, employers must think of ways to keep skilled workers in their area as an available resource rather than having them move away. My cousin is an unemployed autoworker. When there is work, the money is very good. When he is not working he is miserable, but he won't risk moving because the government (and local employers) make it comfortable enough for him to remain available. This is the serfdom of the modern day but none of this fully explains why Virginia farmers of the late 1680s preferred African black slaves over the one million white slaves available world-wide at the time. The reason was that white people dropped like flies when exposed to the diseases of the Americas and Africa. Only Africans stood a chance of surviving in the fields. It was their exposure to the diseases of West Africa that provided them better protection in the South than their white slave counterparts. [4] [5]

Popé's Pueblo Revolt and the Promise of Paradise

The Spaniards have been moving into the New Mexico region for decades along with Franciscan missionaries. The Pueblo Indian tribes were quickly subdued. By the late 1600s the Franciscan missionaries had converted thousands of Pueblo Indians to Christianity. Yet the Indians continued certain pagan practices including the use of hallucinogenic drugs, so the Spaniards have decided to crack down. (Oh, what pun!) Forty-seven Indian medicine men are arrested. Three are executed. The rest are freed, but this has made the Indians angry. One of those angry Indians is a man named Popé. With famine and serfdom as their lot, it isn't difficult for him to convince his fellow tribesmen, and neighboring tribes to rise up against the Spaniards. Popé promises that once the Spaniards are expelled the gods will smile upon the people and a new age of prosperity will come. All they have to lose are their chains. After 5 years of planning, the day is here. Over 2,000 Indian men armed with bows and arrows fight 170 Spanish soldiers armed with muskets. Less than 1,500 Spanish men, women and children escape to El Paso alive along with 500 Indian Christians. The Pueblo Indians return to their old ways, but the famine continues. Paradise never comes. Popé will be deposed next year and the Spaniards will return in 1692 to very little resistance. [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
What causes a man to hurl himself into the jaws of the lion in the hope that his shin bone will catch in the lion's throat? It is easy to call a Muslim terrorist a lunatic, but when the government seems out of control, how many of us have thoughts of revolution? The American Revolution worked out... mostly, but how many times has revolution failed? The Pueblo Revolt for a pagan Paradise ultimately failed, the Maccabean Revolt for a Jewish paradise ultimately failed, the Bolshevik Revolution for a worker's paradise ultimately failed and the Egyptian overthrow of Mubarak was supposed to bring about a Google paradise. How is that Google Revolt working out for you guys in Egypt? It's not just religion that does this. We have seen more deaths in nationalistic wars than all the religious wars combined including the destruction of the world during the Flood. (To be fair, whether you believe in the Flood or not, there just weren't very many people living in the world in the first place.) I am a believer in a religious Paradise, but I don't believe it can be forced. If history is a guide, any attempt to force a religious or secular Paradise is doomed to fail... eventually. But not before a lot of people die. Hopefully it will mostly be the jerks who started the war in the first place. As we have seen throughout history, this too shall pass... eventually, and the world will be better place... but not perfect... not yet.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1680, Wikipedia.

Friday, November 20, 2015

History: The Year is 1679

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Niagara Falls Is Discovered... Again -- A man builds a ship to explore the Great Lakes and to look for a Northwest Passage to China. The ship sinks but it does find Niagara Falls.

Go to the Head of the Class: France Requires Merchant Exams -- The French Finance Minister requires that merchants demonstrate competency in bookkeeping and knowledge of commercial law. I talk about the problem of forgetting to pay your taxes.

The Armenia Earthquake -- 7.0. Lots of shaking.

Niagara Falls Is Discovered... Again

At this point several people can lay claim to being the first European to discover Niagara Falls. The French have sent explorers galore out this way and missionaries have come along to convert the Iroquois Indians. This time, Robert de La Salle has built a small sailing ship that he names Le Griffon to explore the Great Lakes and to find the Northwest passage to China. Why? Because a fast route to China means spices and other exotic products that can be bought cheaply and sold for a king's ransom in Europe. In the meantime he is settling for furs. They sail and tow the ship along the Niagara River until they discover the falls. They also make their way to Lake Huron and after a severe storm La Salle makes a stop at Green Bay. Le Griffen sets out for further exploration without him. Reportedly the ship runs into another severe storm and they never return. [1]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Traditionally Niagara Falls has been a favorite destination for honeymooners. There are boat tours and some people have tried to go over the falls in a barrel. Annie Edson Taylor was the first person to try it in 1901. She survived. When she was pulled out of the barrel, bruised and bleeding she said, "No one ought ever do that again." It is currently illegal to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel or anything else. Oddly enough, in the 1800s several attempts to find a new homeland for the Jews considered Grand Island near Niagara Falls as a site. Uganda was also on the list. Regarding the ship that was lost, two divers recently claimed to have found the wreck of Le Griffon somewhere at the bottom of Lake Michigan, but the report seems like a promotional stunt by two treasure hunters. Only time will tell. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

Go to the Head of the Class: France Requires Merchant Exams

Back in 1673, several changes in French commercial law have brought merchants under strict control. Contracts must be in writing and signatures verified by a notary public. Partnerships must be registered, and investors are liable for its debts, but only up to the amount of their investment. It is usually easier to pass a law to reform commerce than it is to actually make the reform happen, but the Finance Minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, is going to make it happen. He requires that all merchants be examined for competency in bookkeeping and commercial law. [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Well... gone are the good old days when you could just put up a sign and start selling something. Eh? Yeah. It's been a VERY long time since you could do that... at least officially. But according to the book Freakonomics even drug dealers have to know bookkeeping to be successful. If you are not tracking what is coming in and what is going out, you don't really know what you have left to take home to Mama. This is why you hear so many ads on the radio offering to help you with your tax problems. People take in money from a sale, foolishly believing that the money belongs to them, but Uncle Sam thinks that you owe part of that money to him and he will send federal agents to knock on your door to remind you. But a lot of people still forget and when tax time comes around they don't have the cash to pay the tax man. So now you know why the French were forcing merchants to take exams on bookkeeping. They'd rather have the money in government coffers than send disorganized merchants to prison for not paying their taxes. [10] [11]

The Armenia Earthquake

A 7.0 earthquake hits Armenia this year. Not much is known about the quake except that it knocked down a lot of churches and Fort Erivan was completely destroyed. The Shah conscripted the people from several local villages to rebuild the fort. [12]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1679, Wikipedia.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

History: The Year is 1678

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The Divine Right of Kings and the Start of Political Parties -- James is the heir apparent to the throne of England and a Catholic. It is illegal for Catholics to hold a public office so Parliament tries to exclude James from the succession to the throne. A debate over the divine right of kings ensues, causing a division that creates modern political parties.

Lost in a Dream: Pilgrim's Progress and the Martian -- John Bunyan is thrown in prison for preaching, and he writes a novel that will become a best seller for centuries to come. Pilgrim's Progress is a simple narrative carrying a larger, inspiring message. In the secular sense, The Martian by Andy Weir is also a simple story carrying a larger inspiring message.

Many Firsts -- Odds and ends of firsts.

The Divine Right of Kings and the Start of Political Parties

Who picks the king? Is it God or do the faithful have a say? A few years ago the English Parliament passed a religious Test to ensure that only Anglicans hold public office, and the King's brother, James, is a Catholic so he is naturally denied a position in the Admiralty. However, James is also the heir apparent to the throne of England, so Parliament tries to exclude James from the succession. Some argue that the throne is the divine right of kings... that is... it is God who selects the king and the Parliament cannot refuse a king based on his religion. These people are the Tories which is an Irish word meaning "a rebel" who supported the King during the English civil war. In the modern day those who support the Monarchy are still called the Tories. Those opposed to the Tories are called the 'Country Party' or Whigs. When it seems as if James will be excluded from the throne, King Charles the 2nd dissolves Parliament. The debate will continue in later Parliaments and the stuff will really hit the fan when King Charles himself converts to Catholicism but that is another story. This division creates the first political parties. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The philosopher John Locke was a Whig. I've read his argument against the divine right of kings and it goes like this: we are all children of Adam and Eve. We are all one family. There is no hereditary line from Adam designated by God as the kingly line. Therefore all of us, any of us, could be designated as king. This equality allows us to place limits on the designated king's power. In the Bible, David was anointed King by the Prophet Samuel, and yet David's power was not absolute. He maintained certain privileges but he was subject to the law like any other man. Thus the claim of absolute rights for kings is absolute bunk. In the modern day we still want a king. We want someone to lead us, to fight our battles, to do what is right so that we don't have to think about it. #I_AM_2_DAMNED_LAZY. It is such a temptation to change the icon on our Facebook page and call it a day, but as difficult as it is, we must take responsibility for ourselves. Certainly we must organize into a government, but for practical reasons those organizations with the most power over individual choice must be as local as possible because no organization, no matter how benevolent, can know the needs of an individual if it is a thousand miles away... even if we all "friend" the President of the United States on Facebook®. It's time to wake up.

Lost in a Dream: Pilgrim's Progress and the Martian

"As I walked through the wilderness of this world, I lighted on a certain place [...] and I laid me down in that place to sleep: and, as I slept, I dreamed a dream." [6]
The place John Bunyan found to lay his head was a Bedford prison and the dream he dreamt became a book... Pilgrim's Progress. John is a tinker by trade. (A tinker is a tinsmith who repairs household utensils.) He had become a Baptist preacher giving sermons in the village square but after public religious demonstrations are made illegal (except for Anglican preaching) John is arrested and sentenced to twelve years in prison. In his suffering, the beginnings of a book have come together: a man called CHRISTIAN reads his fate in the Book of Life and he is afraid, but EVANGELIST points to a guiding light. CHRISTIAN must follow the light to a wicker gate and knock. CHRISTIAN has fallen into a mystical dreamworld, and as he sets out on his journey a series of characters attempt to turn him away from his path. The story is allegory, and a thinly veiled sermon on the problem of indifference, the despair of the lost, and the promise of Heaven. Part One of Pilgrim's Progress is published this year and it is an instant success. Over the next 250 years, thousands of editions will go into print. Then it will lose its impact, only later to be restored to popularity. [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the modern day most people have heard of Pilgrim's Progress and assume it has something to do with Thanksgiving. Well... giving thanks is certainly part of it, but it has nothing to do with turkey and sweet potatoes. It is a book of Christian instruction and a pretty good read even for a non-Christian such as myself. It is written simply, and that is the charm of the book. You know it is a story but the narrative doesn't interfere with the imagination of the reader. It reminds me of the Og Mandino books such as The Greatest Salesman in the World and The Greatest Secret in the World. These are perfect books for the ethical instruction of businessmen and I recommend them highly. For a secular example of a simple narrative carrying a larger, inspiring story, read "The Martian" by Andy Weir. The movie reflects the simplicity of the book. You know that its not real but you don't care. It's simply inspiring. [10] [11] [12] [13]

Many Firsts

* The first fire engine is introduced in Philadelphia. It is a wagon mounted with a "see-saw" water pump. The design is attributed to Richard Mason. [14]
* The first medical pamphlet is published in America entitled, "A Brief Rule in Small Pocks or Measles." [15]
* The first chrysanthemums arrive in Europe. [16]
* The first woman doctor. It is a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Padua. Her name is Elena Cornaro Piscopia. [17]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1678, Wikipedia.

Monday, November 16, 2015

History: The Year is 1677

I've uploaded year 1677 to the TSP Wiki...

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The Statute of Frauds and the Power of a Handshake -- All transactions must now be in writing, with a signature and a date. I talk about agreements made with a handshake and one such modern deal that went wrong and then very right.

The Essentials of Enlightenment Philosophy -- Spinoza publishes his greatest philosophical work and then drops dead. I also talk about my personal prejudices toward his work.

Paris Just Became Cool and Terrible -- Ice cream becomes popular. I talk about cooling in the 17th century and then talk a lot about the recent terror attacks in Paris.

The Statute of Frauds and the Power of a Handshake

The English Parliament has passed a law requiring that all agreements (especially regarding real estate transactions) must be set down in writing, dated and signed in order to make it easier for courts to determine the rights of a plaintiff. This ends the honor system of using witnesses with presumed good character who are well-known to the local community. When transactions span oceans and are between people of different customs, they must put things down in writing so that a judge can have a baseline for determining what the two parties had in mind in the first place. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Well... transactions based on a handshake can work but where a great deal of money is involved, the temptation to cheat can be overwhelming. I knew a man (distantly) who went through this. Chuck had an agreement with his boss to grow the business and to become a partner if he was successful. The problem was that Charlie became too successful. His percentage of the partnership had grown to half a million dollars. Chuck's boss was sweating. His promise was based on a handshake but it was just too much money. Chuck could have taken his boss to court and won, eventually, but instead, Chuck started a new business in competition with his old boss. His boss's old business contacts lost faith in him and switched to Chuck. Chuck did not limit his vision to half a million dollars. He found a new pair of glasses. He retired a multi-millionaire and when he died, his friends laid him to rest with joy. His life had become his monument and in some ways, I owe what I am today to that man. So my life has become his monument too. [3]

The Essentials of Enlightenment Philosophy

Benedict Spinoza has established the baseline philosophy for the Age of Enlightenment this year. He also dies this year at the age of 44, possibly due to inhaling too much glass dust. He made his living grinding lenses, but his fame will come from his book, "Ethics, Demonstrated in Geometrical Order," that is published this year after his death. He uses Euclid's methods to explore the existence of God, the mind of Man and our place in the Universe as if each proposition were a proof in geometry. Philosophers will look back to this work and gasp in admiration. In fact, Hegel will say in 1896 "... to be a follower of Spinoza is the essential commencement of all Philosophy." [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I've read Spinoza's Ethics and found it tedious, but what seems like mundane thinking in the modern day, was the bright light of reason at the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment. To reveal my own prejudice... Spinoza was Jewish and the Dutch Jewish authorities issued the punishment of shunning against him for his heretical views. As an Orthodox Jew, I can report that this was extremely serious since the loss of connection to the Jewish community usually meant a death sentence for any unprotected Jew at the hands of the Christians, but he lived in Amsterdam. The Dutch (and especially Amsterdam) were tolerant of the Jews individually and as a community. I disagree with his philosophy which boils down to a pantheism: the idea that everything is God. Traditional Jewish religious thought depends on the assumption that God has made room for His creation. Even though a spark of the Divine is within me, I am not God... especially not at home. [7] [8] [9]

Paris Just Became Cool and Terrible

Ice cream has become popular in Paris. While ice confections have been around for years, fads tend to bring certain foods to the attention of the public. Coffee came to Paris a few years ago. Tea has recently become popular in England and coffee shops are popular places for conducting business. People of the 17th century don't have iceboxes. Certainly they have ice houses where meat and fish are stored, but there is no cooling device for the individual kitchen. The United States won't begin shipping ice for commercial purposes until 1799 when they will begin moving ice from New York to Charleston. [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I was looking forward to writing about Paris and ice cream long before the recent terror attacks there. I am deeply saddened at the deaths of innocents at the hands of Muslim terrorists. I feared it would happen when Europe allowed refugees across the border without vetting. Europeans have a problem greater than one dubious decision to help so-called refugees. Europeans no longer believe that European culture is good so they are trying to buy an indulgence... a get out of jail free card... by helping so-called refugees. Now it is biting them in the backside. The United States is about to do the same thing. No country is perfect, but if we cannot make the argument that America is best for Americans, we have conceded that our destruction is all for the best. We have not reached European-level foolishness yet, but we are well on that road and I have not seen the off-ramp. [12]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1677, Wikipedia.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

History: The Year is 1676

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King Phillip and the First Indian War -- King Philip is not a king and this is not the first Indian war, but this war will literally decimate Massachusetts.

Bacon's Rebellion and the Burning of Jamestown -- People call it a slave rebellion, and while it is important to the slavery debate, it is not a slave rebellion. It's a economic rebellion and it's not good.

Science High Lights -- The speed of light, microorganisms and a new equation.

King Phillip and the First Indian War

King Phillip is not really a king and this is not really the First Indian War, but it is certainly the worst in the 17th century. King Phillip is chief of an American Indian tribe and he is sick of the encroachment of New England colonists. Recently, several of his tribe were put to death after being convicted of the murder of Christian Indians. He attacks several colonies, burning everything to the ground and massacring the inhabitants in a hail of bullets or hacking them to death with hatchets. The New England colonists have been at war with one tribe or another since they have arrived. It has never come out well for the Indians. This will be the bloodiest war in New England's history in terms of per capita deaths. One-in-ten men of the Massachusetts Bay colony will be dead within a year which is the actual meaning of the word "decimated"... every tenth man killed. However, by the end of this war the Indian tribe will be virtually wiped out and King Phillip will be hunted down and shot by a "Praying Indian," one of the Indians who had converted to Christianity. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
King Phillip's real name was Metacomet, and his name shows up one way or another in popular literature, film and he even has street names and a golf course named after him, though I doubt they realize who he was. A lot of what we know of this terrible attack comes from Mary Rowlandson who wrote a narrative of her experience being held captive along with her children. She was eventually released but her six-year-old daughter didn't survive the experience. In researching this episode in American history, I noted an opinion piece in the New York Times that suggested a parallel between King Phillip's attack and the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center. That idea doesn't work for me. For one thing, one-in-ten people in New York did not die in the attack. There was some similarity in the reaction to the attack. The response was all-out. Indians were not killed for being Indians but one probably fared better as a Christian Indian. [3]

Bacon's Rebellion and the Burning of Jamestown

Nathanial Bacon is a government official who has organized 500 volunteers to fight off the Indians along the frontier because his uncle, Governor William Berkeley, has not addressed the problem. In fact, the Governor seems to have lost control of the colony. He is over 70 years old and hard of hearing. People must shout at him to make themselves understood. Governor Berkeley has refused to endorse Nathaniel's improvised army so Nathaniel marches into Jamestown and sets fire to the town. It's a full blown rebellion and the slaves have joined in. This rebellion falls apart shortly after Nathanial contracts dysentery and dies. The rebel leaders are rounded up and hanged. King Charles the 2nd hears of the rebellion but doesn't realize that the fighting is over. He sends troops to Virginia and after a lot of shouting (because the Governor still can't hear a thing) Berkeley returns to England to clear his name. He will die before he ever reaches the King. [4] [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Too many historians are looking to Bacon's Rebellion as one of the first slave rebellions and attempting to draw lessons from it. In fact, we are attempting to draw a lesson from these facts right now! The problem is that the facts have been distorted so much that it is difficult to figure out why things happened the way that they did. Complaints of Indian attacks on the frontier just don't explain the burning of Jamestown. Unfair taxes are mentioned and even though slaves join the rebellion, calling it a slave rebellion seems unjustified although it did scare the slave owners. The Governor tried to force farmers away from tobacco crops in order to diversify the Virginia economy, but the switch required a large capital investment. It was a risk with a big short-term downside and a small long-term payoff. Berkley was a rich man so he could cover that bet, but his fellow colonists could not. I think they grabbed any excuse to give this governor the boot and because they did, Virginians tied themselves to a tobacco/slave economy.

Science High Lights

* Ole Roemer makes the first estimate of the speed of light by timing the eclipse of the moons of Jupiter and noticing that there is a ten minute delay when the Earth is furthest from Jupiter than when it is closest. Scientists use his observations to come up with a number. Given the instruments of the day, it's not precise but a good first try. [8]
* Antonie Philips makes a better microscope and discovers microorganisms which is calls animalcules (like molecules, only they are animals!). [9]
* Jacopo Riccati is the mathematician who produces the Riccati Equation! (Explaining why this is important is beyond my ability but I took calculus in college and I recognize it. No doubt my professor is grateful.) [10]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1676, Wikipedia.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

History: The Year is 1675

I've uploaded year 1675 to the TSP Wiki...

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What Color is a Mob? It's the Color of Sheeple -- Although there was no history segment for year 1675 due to Veteran's Day, I'm providing one for this year for completeness' sake. I talk about how the word "mob" came into being. In those days it was the equivalent of the word "sheeple" today. I also talk about using ribbons, colors and hashtags.

What Color is a Mob? It's the Color of Sheeple

A club for aristocrats called the King's Head Club has met for the first time at the King's Head Tavern. It is also called the Green Ribbon Club due to the green ribbon that members wear on their person. In these days, there are very few uniforms so people distinguish their political or religious position by wearing a different color. For example: "true blue" means that one supports the Scottish Presbyterians. Green was the color of the Levelers during the British civil war and although the Levellers were not a political movement, they believed in equality under the law and that government should rule by the consent of the governed rather than by divine right. Eventually, the membership of the Green Ribbon Club will form into a political party called the Whigs. The club will discuss how easily manipulated the common people are. These "commoners" are called "mobile vulgus" (meaning "movable commoners"). This phrase will be shortened to "mob". In the modern day we call these mobs, "sheeple". [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
FYI, the philosopher, John Locke, is associated with the Green Ribbon Club. Regarding the use of colors to identify one's politics or religion, people still wear various colors to support their cause. I remember when the NFL changed their team accessories to use the color "pink" during breast cancer awareness month. A few years ago, Rush Limbaugh wore an entire set of ribbons on his coat to show that he cared more than anyone else. He was pointing out the absurdity of wearing ribbons by wearing more ribbons than anyone else. Nowadays we are getting away from colors and ribbons. We are now using hashtags and changing our Facebook icons. It amounts to the same thing. A color, an icon or a hashtag does nothing until we, ourselves, do something. [6] [7] [8]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1675, Wikipedia.

Friday, November 6, 2015

History: The Year is 1674

I've uploaded year 1674 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Code of Louis: Often Humane, But Often Severe -- The King of France is busting heads and historians say it was needed. Why? Because without it, the Age of Enlightenment would have been delayed. The way we think today is very different and it is because of what happened during that time in France and under that king.

The Reality of War and the Dream of Germantown, Pennsylvania -- France has attacked Germany, and many people are displaced by war. They will dream of a new Germantown in Pennsylvania. I also talk about how Bible names were influenced by the German language.

Chicago: Land of the Skunk and the British Rock Band, Jethro Tull -- Just for laughs. It's all true, and it made me laugh.

The Code of Louis: Often Humane, But Often Severe

King Louis the 14th of France has decreed that any prostitute found with one of his soldiers within 5 miles of the Palace shall have her ears and nose cut off. The King believes that severity is best for keeping the peace. The logic goes that when a king is laying down the law, the local tyrants will not feel the need to exert so much local control so that the people will suffer less in the long run. The King uses detention without trial, secret warrants and brutal, arbitrary punishments of uncertain length to keep the peace. The Code of Louis is bringing order to France and even the nobility are toeing the line. The King requires them to live in the Palace under his supervision. (It is a really big Palace.) The nobles still hold the flashy positions in government, but the administrative duties go to those with real ability. New ranks in the army are created: Major and Lieutenant colonel. These ranks cannot be bought. They can only be earned by merit. The King is dragging France kicking and screaming into the modern age and he's breaking heads to make it happen. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
My sense is that historians admire King Louis while admitting that what he did was unfortunate... but necessary. We are looking at the beginnings of the modern era. King Louis was not part of the Enlightenment, but the Enlightenment would have had difficulty coming into being without him. What is the Enlightenment? You are living in it. It's a whole new way of thinking and each of us has been raised from birth to bask in its glow. To explain it now is like trying to explain to a fish that he is wet. It seems so natural that you may wonder why it needs explanation at all. It is simply natural thinking... natural law. Obvious. Or is it? Our brutal ancestors seem obviously wrong, but they thought they were obviously right. What were they thinking? And what are we thinking today? Our sense of right and wrong follows naturally from certain assumptions we have made on how the world works. That is what is changing with the Age of Enlightenment... a change of those first assumptions, and the American Revolution will be the result. [3]

The Reality of War and the Dream of Germantown, Pennsylvania

French troops have attacked the Palatinate (a province in modern day Germany). As French troops devastate the land in their war against the Holy Roman Emperor, many German families are displaced. Thanks to the "Peace of Westphalia" the civilians are not murdered.... much... but it's bad enough. Twenty years from now, France will do it all over again, even worse, but for now, the people pick up their belongings and try to stay ahead of the turmoil. In this same year, William Penn marries into money and purchases some land in western New Jersey. When Penn visits Germany in 1677 he will gain many converts amongst these displaced Germans and their thoughts will turn to the New World. They will sail across the Atlantic in hope of finding a better world. With Penn's help, they will establish Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1683 and they will become strong advocates in the anti-slavery movement. [4] [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The answer is yes. George Washington slept there. Those familiar with Germantown must be shouting "Hey! Germantown is just a suburb of Philadelphia!" It is now. It was absorbed into the city in 1854. Germantown is important because some features that are now considered "American tradition" were established in Germantown and what is often called "Pennsylvanian Dutch" is actually German. Also, those familiar with the Bible, might be surprised to learn that English translations of the Bible have retained the German names of places and people of the Bible. Unfortunately, what sounds like a reasonable rendition of a Hebrew name in German, sounds really odd when pronounced in English. A good example is the city of Jerusalem. In German it sounds like yer-ROO-shall-lem. In English, the J takes on a hard-G sound, so it simply sounds strange, but there is nothing you can do about it now. It's tradition! [8] [9] [10] [11]

Chicago: Land of the Skunk and the British Rock Band, Jethro Tull

Father Jacques Marquette comes to the shores of Lake Michigan to convert the Indians. Father Marquette is not the founder of Chicago but the name comes into usage by the non-Indians around this time. Chicago means "land of the skunk." [12] [13]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I should also mention that Jethro Tull was born in 1674. Really. He developed the horse-drawn seed drill and the 1970's British rock band was named after him. I'm not kidding. The only connection with Chicago is that the band played a concert there in 1973. [14] [15] [16]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1674, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

History: The Year is 1673

I've uploaded year 1673 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

I'm a German Princess and I Need Your Help! -- Mary Carleton is a liar, a thief and a fraud. I talk about fraud in the modern day.

Surprise! New York becomes New Orange! -- The Dutch return and take back New York. They call it New Orange. I talk about King Charles and why he was at war with the Dutch. It has to do with religion so I talk about the religious test in England.

I'm a German Princess and I Need Your Help!

Mary Carleton is going to hang today and if anyone could use some tender mercy it probably is NOT her. Mary Carleton is a liar, a thief and a fraud. A few years ago, after an earlier bigamy charge was dropped, she moved to Germany where she trifled with the affections of a German lord. She skipped town with the gifts he had showered on her and most of the rent money she owed her landlady. Returning to England, she impersonated a German princess and married "Lord Carleton." An anonymous letter accused Mary of fraud. The scandal grew to epic proportions when "Lord Carleton" took her to court. Mary is a confident liar so the jury believed her. She was helped by the fact that "Lord Carleton" was not a Lord at all! He was a fraud too. He had no substantial assets so Mary took a job as an actress in a satirical play entitled "The German Princess" which had been written to mock her... not to employ her. She was later convicted of theft and sentenced to "penal transportation." England sends criminals, and undesirables to penal colonies in America, never to return under threat of death. (The penal colony of Botany Bay, Australia will not be established for another 100 years.) Now Mary has returned to England under an assumed name. Say bye-bye to the "German Princess." They have caught her, and she is going to swing. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Why are people so willing to believe that some high-ranking official, royal family member or FBI agent needs their help? One of my relatives asked if it was possible that she could have won the British Lottery. I asked her, "Did you buy a ticket?" An email scammer can send out 500 emails a day and 5 usually result in "success". It is called the "Advance-fee" scam where a con-artist asks for access to your account or money to complete a transaction. The Academy Award winning movie "The Sting" (1973) begins with a man who is talked into delivering money to the mob for a reward just for helping out. The sucker mixes his money in with the rest of the loot, but in the end he gets neither the loot, nor his payoff, nor even his own money back. All he gets is a handful of blank paper. Don't fall for it. [5] [6]

Surprise! New York becomes New Orange!

Twenty-three ships of the Dutch fleet have come over the horizon to take back New York. They are good at this. A few years ago they sailed up the Thames to beat the tar out of the English fleet. Shortly thereafter, London was hit by the Plague, and that is why the Dutch were blamed for that outbreak. Now the Dutch have come to New York to take back some of their own. The old fort has fallen into disrepair and the cannons are not worth the gunpowder needed to blow them up. The Dutch change the name of New York to New Orange but the new name won't last long. By next year a peace treaty will be signed and New Orange will be returned to the English. Caribbean islands that had been taken by the English during the war, will be returned to the Dutch. The Dutch were never too excited about their North American colony. Returning it to the English will seem more like passing on a debt than awarding a prize. It will be a very long time before New York prospers. [7] [8] [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
It is difficult to explain fully why England was at war against the Dutch and siding with France at that time. Frankly, it seemed to most people that King Charles the 2nd was considering converting to Catholicism. (France was Catholic.) On the other hand, King Charles passed the Test Act, that required all people in public office to take communion in the Anglican Church or resign their position. This religious test forced the Duke of York (the heir apparent to the throne) to resign his position in the Admiralty. (The Duke had converted to Catholicism.) The Test Act was modified a few years later to grant an exception for James the 2nd, the Duke of York and future King. The worst parts of the Act were finally repealed in 1828 and 1829 even though the actual religious test had long fallen into disuse. There are lots of embarrassing laws on the books hiding in the shadows, waiting to embarrass some political rival or another. [10] [11]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1673, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

History: The Year is 1672

I've uploaded year 1672 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Fire Hose is Invented -- What were they doing BEFORE? They had this wash tub thing with a crank that you had to move up next to the fire. It was horrifying and dangerous.

The First Military Martinet is Killed by 'Friendly Fire' -- John Martinet sets up drill instructions for the French troops but he is ridiculed by the English so his name becomes an insult.

This New Medicine is a Toss-Up -- A root extract becomes a way to induce vomiting.

The Fire Hose is Invented

The Dutch artist, Jan van der Heyden, has been placed in charge of the volunteer fire department. Up to this point, firefighting equipment has been unsatisfactory, so Jan and his brother redesign the water pump and tank so that firefighters don't risk their lives by dragging a heavy water pump and tank near a burning building. They have added a 50 foot leather hose to the pump so that a firefighter can bring the water to the fire. They have also designed cloth water buckets to make it easier to fill the tank from a nearby stream. Later they will redesign the pump itself and add a suction hose held rigid by wire. The fire hose will be introduced to the United States in 1794 in Philadelphia. [1] [2] [3]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The early firefighting pump consisted of a large wash tub sitting on a tripod with a light pump apparatus mounted over the top of the tub. A crank was turned to create pressure in a rigid, angled pipe at the top. You aimed the stream toward the flames but the stream didn't go far so several people had to drag that heavy contraption next to the building. Thus using a leather pipe was a stroke of genius.

The First Military Martinet is Killed by 'Friendly Fire'

In the modern day a "martinet" refers to someone who rigidly adheres to the rules. The word actually comes from the name of the Inspector General of the French Army, John Martinet. He was assigned to drill the troops and mold them into a disciplined fighting force. His program becomes the model for a standing army in the 17th Century. England finds such discipline needlessly stringent and ridicules his program. Thus we get the Inspector General's name being used as an insult. Martinet also developed the depot system. Supplies are stored so that they are readily available to the troops. This system prevents troops from having to "forage" for food, which is just another word for pillaging. Along with the new system of roads being built, supplying an army this way has become the standard. Unfortunately for France, the Inspector General is killed this year in battle, probably by "friendly fire". Make what you will of it. [4] [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
King Louis the 14th was itching to conquer the Holy Roman Empire which was essentially Germany and the Netherlands. That is what motivated him to whip the army into shape. 1672 was also the year when the France attacked the Netherlands, causing so many rapid changes for the worse that the Dutch called it "The Year of Disaster." The city of Amsterdam attempted to stop the French Army by opening the flood gates, but the tactic didn't work. Thus began the decline of Amsterdam. [8]

This New Medicine is a Toss-Up

This extract from the root of a Brazilian plant has come into use as a medicine, mostly to help with dysentery. Depending on its concentration it can be used to settle the stomach or to induce vomiting. In the modern day it is often called "Syrup of Ipecac". [9]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the 1950s "Syrup of Ipecac" used to be in most medicine chests in case a child would find some cleaning fluid under the kitchen sink and drink it. As time went on, doctors began discouraging the use of vomiting to treat poisoning. WebMD cautions that "Syrup of Ipecac" might reduce the effectiveness of poison antidotes. Check with your own doctor or poison control center to find out if you need "Syrup of Ipecac" in your medicine cabinet today. I've never had a use for it. When I searched for it on I couldn't find any. [10]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1672, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1671

I've uploaded year 1671 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

A Jury of Penn's Peers and Jury Nullification -- This is an early example of jury nullification and habeus corpus.

Making a Grab for the Family Jewels -- The Crown Jewels are stolen.

A Jury of Penn's Peers and Jury Nullification

Thousands of Quakers fill English prisons. In some cells, they are packed cheek to jowl, and the Quakers have refused any comfort. Their crimes are refusing to take oaths and not attending Anglican services. (To be fair, a few of them have been disruptive, but even the worst of them would never rate prison time in the modern day.) In 1668, William Penn (the guy that Pennsylvania will one day be named after) was thrown into the Tower of London for criticizing all the major religions except for the Quakers. Penn is a Quaker. He is finally released and unrepentant. He tests the new London laws against unlawful assembly, and is put on trail with a jury of his peers but Penn is denied a defense and the judge sequesters the jury without food and water until they bring a verdict of "guilty". In an act of jury nullification, the jury finds Penn "not guilty." Nevertheless, Penn is thrown into prison... ALONG WITH THE JURY! The jury is also fined the equivalent of a year's salary. In the end, Penn and the jury are released. William Penn writes another pamphlet that is published this year entitled, The Great Case of Liberty of Conscience. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In a case of jury nullification, a jury should be allowed to rule without fear of government reprisal. Also habeus corpus became a legal precedent... that is... the right of a citizen to report his own unlawful detention before a court of law. The term habeus corpus means "produce the body" which are the first few words of the writ demanding that the plaintiff come before the court. British law, as one would recognize it today, is still coming together and this is how it happens... not with intellectual consideration and careful, reasoned debate but by goofing things up left and right and realizing that we all have to do things better... a lot better. On a different note, if the King seemed distant and unconcerned in this episode, that is because he was too busy whoring... uh.. I mean... tending to his personal business. His subjects were so upset with his public folly that they would protest in the street which may explain why public assembly was outlawed. The Queen actually fainted when King Charles the 2nd introduced her to one of his mistresses. Obviously, he was leaving the administrative and legal details of governing to his ministers. [7]

Making a Grab for the Family Jewels

Thomas Blood is the first to attempt to steal the Crown Jewels of England. The Crown Jewels are on display in the Tower of London and can be viewed for a small fee. Thomas disguises himself as a parson and with his accomplice (a woman pretending to be his wife) visit the Jewels. His "wife" fakes an illness, and while finding a place for her to lay down, Thomas Blood ingratiates himself to the Keeper of the Jewels. After some time, Thomas makes arrangements for the Keeper's daughter to marry Thomas's nonexistent son. At a dinner to settle the details, Thomas hits the Keeper over the head with a mallet and ties him up. Then he grabs the crown and wacks it with the same mallet so that it will fit under his cloak. Meanwhile, the Keeper gets loose and cries for help. Blood and his accomplices run... crying for help to catch the thieves! Thomas drops the crown and keeps on running. Eventually he is caught. For reasons lost to history, King Charles the 2nd pardons him and grants him land in Ireland. [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The people really hated Cromwell, and gave up the dream of a republic for King Charles the 2nd. They are regretting it, but they will wish for the return of King Charles after his brother, James, takes the throne in 1685. James was Catholic and you can bet that went over like a lead balloon. Regarding the actual theft of the Jewels, I was told by a private detective that the best thing to shout when you want people to come to your aid is "Fire!" People will look your way and react more sensibly than if you shout "Stop Thief!" or "Help me!" [9]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1671, Wikipedia.

Monday, November 2, 2015

History: The Year is 1670

I've uploaded year 1670 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Virginia 'Seasoning" Falls to 10 Percent -- Yes. Only 10% of New Virginians are dropping dead from malaria. That is the good news. I talk a little bit about malaria and air conditioning.

One King, One Law, One Faith.... for a Seven-Year-Old -- The King of France gives a non-Catholic children the right to choose Catholicism... and be taken from their parents. What a guy!

Virginia 'Seasoning" Falls to 10 Percent

The good news is that only 10% of new Virginia colonists are dropping dead this year. In previous years the death toll had reached 33%. Some colonists die within a week of getting off the boat. The Newbies are considered useless until they have undergone "seasoning". That means surviving the malaria season, but the Virginians have learned how to avoid the vivax malaria parasite by not wandering around at night and avoiding marshy areas. (Currently, malaria is called "marsh fever".) They might have tried to cure it using quinine but that's a relatively new medicine used in Italy. The disease is not contagious but mosquitoes won't be identified as the disease vector until 1898. The colonists have figured out one other thing. Only 3% of black West African slaves succumb to the disease. That is why they are preferred as field workers over indentured servants even though slaves are significantly more expensive. Indentured servants are generally Europeans and at a death rate of 10%-33% in the first year, They won't even make back the cost of their fare to cross the Atlantic. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Malaria is actually a parasite that is delivered when a mosquito bites and releases spores into the blood stream from an infected person into an uninfected person. Symptoms occur in 7 to 30 days. Unless it is treated quickly the parasite spores get into the liver and it becomes an ongoing problem... if you live, that is. And because Europeans had a death rate of 50% to 65% in West Africa, slave ships began running mostly black West African crews rather than white European crews. (They don't tell you THAT in school. Do they?) Another development coming from malaria is air conditioning. A doctor believed that by cooling down the air, he might cure the disease. It didn't work, but his experiments required an ice bath to cool the room so he figured a way to produce ice cubes. It's not the first refrigeration device ever invented, but it's close. The original device sits in the Smithsonian today. [6]

One King, One Law, One Faith.... for a Seven-Year-Old

This is going to sound terrible until it is placed into context. Then it will sound REALLY TERRIBLE. French religious authorities have determined that 7 years old is the age that a child can make the ultimate decision concerning which faith he will follow. The Huguenots (French Calvinists) have won rights to freedom of religion, but King Louis the 14th wants to tighten that up. He is an absolute ruler and he believes in "One King, One Law, One Faith." If this sounds familiar, you are seeing the first hints of the Age of Enlightenment, without the "enlightenment" part. He thinks of himself as God's representative on Earth, so his government is now a "Catholics Only" club. This has led to a faith test to hold government office and it has led to the questioning of Huguenot children. If a child decides that Catholicism is better than the (Calvinist) Reform Church, the child is taken from his parents and raised as a Catholic. This has a precedent. The Parisians did the same thing to Jewish children in the Middle Ages. [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
King Louis the 14th is an important character in how the American Revolution is going to roll out.... some of it for the good and some of it for the bad. It is actually illegal in 17th century France to use the will of the people as an argument about anyone's rights. The King defines your rights. Sit down, shut up and listen. This is one of the reasons why the Founding Fathers didn't want to place the Bill of Rights into the Constitution because people might think that those rights were the only rights a person could claim and secondly, that the people might mistakenly believe that those rights were granted by their government rather than by their Creator. But what are the chances of THAT ever happening? Well... it's happening.... mostly due to public schooling which divorces the spiritual framework from the Framers of the Constitution. [8]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1670, Wikipedia.