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St. George of the Mine and the Price of Milk *

Elmina Castle or St. George of the Mine is built this year in what is now called Ghana. Ghana is still remembered as the Gold Coast for a good reason. The Portuguese landed there in 1471 and returned with gold dust. The locals worked several mines nearby. The castle is built this year, first as a trading post for gold and ivory and later for trading slaves. A fort will be built to defend the Castle more easily from raids. The Dutch will take over the Castle and the slave trade in 1637. By the 1700s about 30,000 slaves will pass through Elmina Castle each year. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Age of Discovery is a very pretty name for the good and the bad... some of it very bad. Henry the Navigator sought a route around Africa to Asia after the collapse of the Silk Road. In that process they enslaved people for cheap labor. The Black Death had caused labor costs to skyrocket and brought slavery (which is high maintenance cost) within economic reach. High prices often cause strange (and sometimes illegal) alternatives to become economically viable. High oil prices make alternative-fuels (and the modifications required to use them) economically reasonable. As oil prices drop, the use of alternative fuels will drop. The same is true of food prices such as the price of milk. A few years ago milk prices dropped so low that European milk farmers threw away their milk because they couldn't sell the milk for enough money to cover the costs of bringing the milk to market. [7] [8]

The Tower and the Search for the Northwest Passage

The Schreierstoren [SHRYER-stor-en] is a tower built as part of a defensive wall in Amsterdam. It's name comes from an old Dutch word that refers to the sharp angle of the tower and connecting walls. In the early 1600s, Henry Hudson will set sail from this spot in search of a northwest passage to the Pacific Ocean. While he will make several journeys, eventually his crew will mutiny and he will be cast adrift in a boat, never to be found again. Of course, the Hudson River and Hudson Bay are named after Henry Hudson. [9] [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The tower is also called the Weeper's Tower which may refer to a myth concerning wives who would come to the tower to watch their husbands leave port, perhaps never to return. A plaque was found that commemorates one woman who became so distraught that she went insane. The tower still exists in Amsterdam and is now a café.

Euclid's Elements in Print

Yet again, an important book is set in print due to the Gutenberg Press with moveable type. This book concerns Euclidean Geometry translated into Latin. One major historian believes this book is one of the most important texts to be set to print, second only to the Bible. This math book will be required reading for college students until the 20th century. [12] [13]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
For most practical purposes Euclidean geometry is all the geometry you need. It is only at the extremes when it cannot describe reality but unless you are a wormhole physicist or attempting to perform deep space navigation, you are probably OK studying only Euclidean geometry. It is interesting to note, conceptually, that a straight line, in reality, is not the shortest distance between two points, but it's so close it really doesn't matter on Earth.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1482, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Zijlma, Anouk (2014). Elmina Castle (St George Castle), Elmina, Ghana. About.com. Retrieved on 9 December 2014. “Elmina castle, also known as St George's castle is slightly older than the Cape Coast Castle further west, it was built by the Portuguese in 1482. This makes it one of the oldest European buildings on the continent still in one piece today.”
  2. White, Jamila (2014). Wonders of the African World - Slave Kingdoms - Elmina. pbs.org. Retrieved on 9 December 2014. “Built in 1482 by Portuguese traders, Elmina Castle was the first European slave-trading post in all of sub-saharan Africa. Located on the western coast of present-day Ghana, it was originally built to protect the gold trade but following its capture by the Dutch in 1637, it came to serve the Dutch slave trade with Brazil and the Caribbean.”
  3. Africans in America/Part 1/Elmina Castle, trading outpost. pbs.org (2014). Retrieved on 9 December 2014. “Forty years after Prince Henry's expeditions first acquired gold dust and twenty-one years after the Prince's death, Portugal began constructing a trading outpost on Africa's Guinea coast, near a region that had been mined by natives for many years.”
  4. Crawfurd, Jacob (2014). Ghana History Timeline - historic overview of Ghana (Gold Coast), Africa. crawfurd.dk. Retrieved on 9 December 2014. “Other Europeans arrive. They are all attracted by gold, ivory and timber.”
  5. History of Ghana. GhanaWeb.com (2014). Retrieved on 9 December 2014. “In 1482, the Portuguese built a castle in Elmina. Their aim was to trade in gold, ivory and slaves. In 1481 King John II of Portugal sent Diego d'Azambuja to build this castle.”
  6. Elmina Castle - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 9 December 2014.
  7. Kishor, Ajay (April 23, 2011). Desperate farmers throw milk on road. IndianCooperative.com. Retrieved on 9 December 2014. “Punjab dairy farmers on Saturday threw milk on roads near milk processing plant in Mohali as part of their protest against the 'apathetic' attitude of state government towards their demand of raising the milk procurement prices.”
  8. Europe's farmers dump milk to protest low prices. Reuters.com (September 16, 2009). Retrieved on 9 December 2014. “Dairy farmers sprayed about 3 million liters of fresh milk onto fields in Belgium on Wednesday, the latest high profile act in a European-wide protest over low milk prices.”
  9. Henry Hudson. u-s-history.com (2014). Retrieved on 10 December 2014. “Little is known of Henry Hudson’s early life, but he apparently gained enough seafaring experience to be hired by large maritime concerns. One of these, the Muscovy Company of England, engaged Hudson in 1607 to lead an expedition in search of a northeast passage.”
  10. Schreierstoren - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 10 December 2014.
  11. Henry Hudson - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 10 December 2014.
  12. Euclid's Elements - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 10 December 2014.
  13. The First Six Books of the Elements of Euclid by John Casey and Euclid - Free Ebook. Gutenberg.org (1885). Retrieved on 10 December 2014.

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