Monday, February 8, 2016

History: The Year is 1726

I've uploaded year 1726 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The House of Saud and the House of Wahhab -- The guy who will set up the ruling dynasty of Saudi Arabia takes control of the family this year. I also talk about the problem with fundamentalism.

Voltaire Is Given the Boot -- The French playwright and philosopher is exiled to England. I talk about deism, and science.

The Invention of the Gridiron Pendulum -- It is a clever design made by the fellow who will bring about accurate navigation at sea.

The House of Saud and the House of Wahhab

Shaikh Saud has passed away and his son, Muhammad, has taken over the leadership of the House of Saud, turning it into a dynasty. He will expand its territories near modern day Riyadh into a small emirate. (An emirate is a territory or state and Muhammad will become its Emir.) During the mid-1700s the Emir will make a deal with the House of Wahhab, often called Wahhabists. They prefer to be called Salafists (meaning, the Pious Ones). There is a certain appeal to a religious movement with clear-cut rules. There is also a potential conflict with a ruling government since fundamentalists do not draw a clear line between the secular and the sacred. The House of Saud will agree to protect the House of Wahhab. In exchange the House of Wahhab will not take over the Emirate. It will be a difficult balance to maintain over the centuries. The Emir will rule until his death in 1765. He will be succeeded by his son, Abdul Aziz, who will expand the emirate into about two-thirds the size of modern day Saudi Arabia. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The House of Saud tries to maintain a balance with the Salafists, but it doesn't always work out. One notable Wahhabist was a fellow named Osama Bin Ladin. ISIS is also a Wahhabist group. I am an Orthodox Jew and in some ways I am a fundamentalist, but I was raised in the United States where I was taught from birth how to draw a distinction between the secular and the sacred in government. However, traditional Jewish Law does not make a distinction. Christians know of ministers and priests who see their mission extending to the political. It is true that the USA was built on Christian ideals, but to call it a Christian Country is a confusing proposition. Does that mean that non-Christians are not citizens? If we are citizens, are we bad citizens? If a Christian disagrees with his government, does that make him a bad Christian? See the problem? We must draw a line between the sacred and the secular somehow. It won't be a perfect line, and we will find ourselves redrawing the line every few years. That is as it should be. [6]

Voltaire Is Given the Boot

Last year the playwright, Voltaire, was arrested for challenging a man to a duel. The Queen of France loved his plays and gave him money for his efforts, but some fellows didn't particularly like his haughty attitude so one evening a few ruffians gave Voltaire a beating. He knew who had ordered it since the man was shouting from his carriage "Don't strike his head; something good may come out of that." After some practice with his sword Voltaire challenged the man to a duel, but dueling is a capital offense in France, and the King was unwilling to have Voltaire killed so he had him put into the Bastille for his own good. Voltaire pleaded for his freedom willing to accept exile to England, and so it was granted. This year he lands on the shores of Greenwich in the midst of a festival. He is delighted and he will learn a lot about the freedoms granted Englishmen and the chains that still bind them. He will also find himself penniless. The line of credit he had arranged with a banker in London was no good. The banker had gone bankrupt, but Voltaire soon found many people willing to back him for the next three years. He will learn a lot that he can carry back to France, and it is going to rock the world. [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Something was going that might not be obvious. A lot of the aristocracy had become deists. That is... they believed in God and the natural order of the Universe, but did not believe in miracles. In fact if someone had called himself a Christian, the remark would have provoked laughter. Others were outright atheists. All the wars over religion had burned them out. With the dawn of the Enlightenment came freethinking. They didn't abandon God. They simply analyzed Him. Voltaire commented that in France he did not have enough God to be considered decent and in England he had too much. In the modern day scientists sometime dismiss out-of-hand any idea that might support religion. Arthur C. Clarke's 3 Laws might keep them more honest... [9] [10]
1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. [11]

The Invention of the Gridiron Pendulum

The fellow who will invent the marine chronometer will first have to solve certain accuracy problems with clocks. The current problem is the length of a pendulum. A pendulum is made from a metal rod and the rod has a certain length to ensure that it swings back and forth at a known and calculated speed. Unfortunately differences in temperature throughout the day and from season-to-season will cause the metal rod to expand and contract, thus lengthening and shortening the rod. Enough inaccuracies creep in that it has become a problem. John Harrison solves this problem with a clever combination of different metals arranged in a frame. The different metals expand and contract at different rates and offset each other, thus keeping the length of the pendulum constant. [12] [13]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
It's not exactly obvious but once you see an illustration you can see the logic of it. I have a pendulum clock in my living room. It is a real one and I always thought that all those extra rods were decorative. Nope. The clock once belonged to my mother-in-law and it had stopped working for a long time. We had meant to get it fixed, but we never got around to it. When my mother-in-law died, my wife gave the pendulum a push. One more try for old times sake. It kept going, and going for 24 hours and then it stopped again. When my wife took the mechanism to the clockmaker, he said that it was impossible. The clock really was broken, and he fixed it. I believe in magic and miracles, but I've never seen magic, and I think I've seen miracles. I'm not sure what category that pendulum falls into, though. It remains a mystery.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1726, Wikipedia.

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