Friday, July 8, 2016

History: The Year is 1823

I've uploaded year 1823 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Why is the Night Sky Dark? Olbers' Paradox -- If the Universe is static and the stars are infinite, why isn't it bright at night? I talk about the expanding Universe.

Death is Now Optional: Prison Reform in England -- the Bloody Code is repealed. Now judges have the option not to put a person to death for stealing a rabbit. I talk about my experiences as a jail chaplain.

The Monroe Doctrine and Honduras -- President Monroe declares that Europe should not interfere in this hemisphere, and the the UK enforces it. I talk a little about the Honduras coup of 2009.

In Other News -- The raincoat, Rugby and Home Sweet Home.

Why is the Night Sky Dark? Olbers' Paradox

Just as Occam's Razor was not the original idea of William of Ockham, Heinrich Olbers is not the first to ask the question: If the Universe is unchanging, eternal and there are an infinite number of stars then why isn't the night sky filled with light? After all, the light from every star in every part of the sky must reach the Earth so the sky should be as bright as day when the Sun sets, yet it is not. Perhaps the light has been obscured by dust, but that can't be the reason. Over infinite time, the dust would absorb energy from the photons, heat up and glow. Perhaps there are NOT an infinite number of stars, but certainly there are a lot of them... enough to light up the sky more than it is. Or perhaps the distribution of the stars is uneven, with one star lining up behind another, but for that to work, the Earth must be in a unique position in the Universe so that the viewer can look down many dark corridors of the sky. One can imagine a hole in one part of the sky but not holes in every direction. In the 19th century version of the Universe, Olbers Paradox has introduced a disturbing idea. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
What astronomers of the 19th century did not realize was that the Universe is expanding. Even Albert Einstein could not accept the idea of an expanding Universe in his early theories. He introduced a cosmological constant to his equations to force a static Universe. He called it the biggest mistake he ever made. (Actually, his cosmological constant was useful later on.) The reason the night sky is dark is because the Universe is getting bigger as time moves forward. Light from distant stars has not had time to reach Earth and at a certain distance, it never will. That distance defines our observable Universe. Anything beyond its limit might as well not exist. The other issue is called the "red-shifting" of light. Stars in the expanding Universe are generally moving away from each other. Like points on a balloon, as the balloon expands, the points move away from each other. The further points seem to move away faster than closer points. If a star is moving VERY fast, the light shifts to the red and eventually becomes invisible to the eye. Thus we can only see the light of stars that are reasonably close to us, such as stars within our galaxy... and that is why the sky is dark at night. [6] [7]

Death is Now Optional: Prison Reform in England

Back in 1688, the Bloody Code was passed into English Law requiring that the death penalty be applied for hundreds of violations including: damaging Westminster bridge, living with gypsies for more than a month, stealing a rabbit, or stealing anything worth more than 5 shillings. (In the modern day, that is about 20 pounds sterling or $26 dollars in value.) This year the Bloody Code is repealed. The Death Penalty is now optional depending on the judgement of the court. It is only required in cases of murder or treason. Chaplains are made available to prisoners, and regular inspections of prisons are required. Also jailers will be paid out of the state's purse. (The inmates used to pay them out of their fines.) And women jailers are now required for women prisoners. Prison reform is here. What next? Cable TV? [8] [9] [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I am a volunteer chaplain at the county jail. I meet with inmates who ask for me. We talk about religion, but mostly I provide positive human contact for the inmates. A jail can be a negative experience in more ways than one. Anger, mental illness, and depression are pervasive, and an inmate is trapped with his cellmates. To help the situation, educational, psychological, and religious services are available. There is a beekeeping certification program for inmates. Anger management, alcoholism and drug abuse treatment are available, and of course, chaplains. One day I was walking to the maximum security building. Ahead of me was a tall inmate. Across the back of his bald head was inscribed a strange tattoo which marked him as a dangerous man. Suddenly he stopped, turned to me and asked, "Hey! Are you running a Bible class?" He smiled at me. That dangerous man was trying to improve himself, and because of that, his cellmates were safer and so were the guards.

The Monroe Doctrine and Honduras

President James Monroe is being encouraged by English interests to ban new European interference in the New World. Argentina, Chile and Mexico have been kicking Spain and Portugal out of the New World. Oddly, France has been negotiating with Spain to bring an army to the New World to reconquer those lost lands... for a price. Russia has claimed large parts of the Pacific Northwest, so during his State of the Union address, Monroe declares that new European colonization in the Western hemisphere will be considered an unfriendly act. While existing European powers will not be challenged, new expansion will be seen as an attack on United States interests. The phrase "Monroe Doctrine" will not be used until 1850. [12]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The United Kingdom supported the Monroe Doctrine, mostly because they already had a presence in Canada. They could use the British navy to enforce the Monroe Doctrine and keep all those "foreigners" out of South American markets. The United States did not have the power to enforce the Doctrine, but when France invaded Mexico, the US threatened to kick them out and used the Monroe Doctrine as justification. (France left.) Over the years, the Doctrine was reinterpreted in a number of ways to allow the United States to interfere with Latin American countries. As one Chilean businessman wrote, "...we have to be very careful: for the Americans of the north, the only Americans are themselves". Finally, in 2013, the Secretary of State, John F. Kerry, declared the "era of the Monroe Doctrine is over." Honduras breathed a sigh of relief. The United States didn't seem to mind that Honduras underwent a coup in 2009. President Obama made some very general statements about democracy and Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State at the time, refused to call it a coup. Latin American countries suspect US intervention at times like that. [13] [14] [15]

In Other News

  • The raincoat is invented. It is also called a Mackintosh or mac. Charles Macintosh mixes naphtha with rubber and sandwiches it between two pieces of cloth. Raincoats are available for sale next year. [16] [17] [18]
  • By tradition, the game of Rugby is invented this year. Mr. Ellis, in the midst of a game of soccer, without regard for the rules, picks up the ball and runs down field. He is a student of Rugby School and thus invents the game of Rugby. A metal plaque commemorates the event, so you know it is true. Right? [19] [18]
  • "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home!" The familiar song, "Home Sweet Home" ([Click Here]) is performed as part of an opera and later published separately. It sells like hotcakes. [20] [21] [18]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1823, Wikipedia.

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