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The Gazette... the First Newspaper *

Before this time, the daily or weekly news was distributed via word-of-mouth by eavesdroppers or by royal proclamations posted in the public square. This year, Venetian printers are producing a few sheets of throw-away news that they sell for a small coin called a gazetta. It is worth about a penny and a half. These "penny papers" are scorned because of their low price and ubiquity, yet people buy them like they do modern gossip rags. The idea of printing newspapers filled with important facts will not occur to the printers until the American Civil War when they will notice a dramatic increase in sales whenever they print more-or-less accurate war news such as casualty numbers rather than the usual "Our side is fighting for all that is good and their side is biting off the heads of live puppies." You've heard that riff a million times. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Internet news sites such as the Drudge Report are denigrated because they are not fact-checked, but recent news coverage of the GermanWings plane crash is no better. The so-called professional reporters run with "sources from inside the investigation." That means press releases that wish to change the focus of the news coverage. These 'sources' said that the data recorder was destroyed on impact (a device designed to survive impact with a mountain at high speed... the plane, not the mountain) yet they found a cellphone chip with a video recording that survived. So where is the video? The news media should be treated with the same skepticism that one uses when reading the Enquirer. You know... the guys who uncovered the story of a presidential candidate who was shtup'ing (stuffing) his video photographer while his wife was dying of cancer. The news is shmooze (that is Yiddish for 'idle talk', maybe valuable, maybe not). [7] [8] [9]

Predictably, Nostradamus Writes His First Almanac

Almanacs are becoming popular these days. They are more than a calendar. They point out certain important dates such as when to plant certain crops; what the weather will be like on average in certain areas; when to visit the barbershop for bloodletting (that is why there is a red stripe on the barber pole) and, of course, natural astronomical data so that you can run your horoscope. Michel de Nostredame is a doctor in his 50s who has few patients these days probably due to a few poorly chosen remarks that were seen as bad omens. He has decided to join the crowd and publish an almanac under a new name: Nostradamus. He includes a few predictions for the future. These prophesies instantly catch the interest of the people including a number of very important people. He will include predictions in future almanacs and he is planning several volumes made up exclusively of his predictions of the future. [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The most important thing I can tell you about prophesy I will say right now. The word "prophecy" is a translation of the word from the Hebrew, "navi" (nah-VEE). It means "spokesman" and it is usually used in connection with God. The Prophets of the Bible were people who conveyed messages from God to the people. Generally they were messages of warning of some future disaster if they didn't straighten up. That is why the word "prophecy" carries an implied meaning of predicting the future... but that's not what it means. It simply means... messages or directions given by one person on behalf of another... usually God.

Trivia for anime fans: The anime series: Serial Experiments Lain is about a young student, Lain, who receives a text message from her classmate who is already dead. Lain's computer at home is a Navi Computer and through it, she is able to talk to God. The brand name "Navi" is probably a coincidence but interesting.


Sweden Falters in It's Foothold on Finland

The town of Helsinki is established as a trading post by King Gustav the 1st of Sweden to serve as competition with the Hanseatic (hahn-say-ATTIC) League. It won't really work out and the town will bump along for years, trying to figure out what it will become. In 1809, the Russians will spank the Swedes and take Finland away from them. That will be the time when Helsinki really takes off. In the modern day it will be the capital and largest city in Finland.

My Take by Alex Shrugged
King Gustav's health took a bad turn in 1550 so it could be that Helsinki suffered from a good plan suddenly abandoned rather than an ill-conceived plan poorly executed. Nevertheless, history is replete with governments trying to force something that should come naturally... commerce. Even in the modern day we accept as a given that it is the government's responsibility to produce jobs. In fact it is the government's job to get out of the way and only step in as referee when asked to do so or to protect the public from the more obvious dangers such as building a molasses tank in 1919 that suddenly bursts, drowning Boston is a massive flood of goo. They say you can still smell the molasses in the summertime. Let me clue you in, Boston. That smell is not molasses. [13]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1550, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Riff - definition of Riff. The Free Dictionary (2015). Retrieved on 3 April 2015. “A repeated or varied theme, idea, or phrase”
  2. Words from History (PDF), Books on Words, Houghton Mifflin. “About 1550, printed sheets containing news began to circulate in Venice--the forerunner of our modern newspapers. They were small, crude and inexpensive. A copy might be bought for a single small coin, or else that coin might buy admittance into a gathering where the news sheet was read aloud. The coin used for the purpose was a 'gazzetta' and the word for the coin was transferred to the news sheet itself.” 
  3. Gazet - definition of Gazet. The Free Dictionary (2015). Retrieved on 2 April 2015. “A Venetian coin, worth about three English farthings, or one and a half cents.”
  4. Gazette - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 April 2015. “Gazzetta became an epithet for newspaper during the early and middle 16th century, when the first Venetian newspapers cost one gazzetta.”
  5. gazette. Online Etymology Dictionary (2015). Retrieved on 2 April 2015. “We are indebted to the Italians for the idea of newspapers. The title of their gazettas was, perhaps, derived from gazzera, a magpie or chatterer; or, more probably, from a farthing coin, peculiar to the city of Venice, called gazetta, which was the common price of the newspapers.”
  6. Eric Burns. Infamous Scribblers: the Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism. Public Affairs. ISBN 9781586483340. 
  7. The Yiddish Handbook: 40 Words You Should Know. DailyWritingTips.com (2015). Retrieved on 3 April 2015. “shtup - Literaly &lquot;to stuff.&rquot; Used as a euphemism for sex.”
  8. JOHN EDWARDS' MISTRESS DEMANDS DNA TEST FOR BABY!. The National Enquirer (2015). Retrieved on 3 April 2015. “The ENQUIRER was the first to expose the extramarital affair in 2007, and Rielle's sudden move to determine paternity is a clear signal that she is no longer willing to protect the philandering politician, who still has not admitted that he's the father of her baby.”
  9. "Fatal Descent of Germanwings Plane Was ‘Deliberate, -- French Authorities Say", The New York Times, New York Times Company, March 26, 2015. Retrieved on 3 April 2015. “Andreas Lubitz was breathing, steady and calm, in the final moments of Germanwings Flight 9525. It was the only sound from within the cockpit that the voice recorder detected as Mr. Lubitz, the co-pilot, sent the plane into its descent.” 
  10. Nostradamus - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 April 2015. “After another visit to Italy, Nostredame began to move away from medicine and toward the occult. Following popular trends, he wrote an almanac for 1550, for the first time Latinising his name from Nostredame to Nostradamus. He was so encouraged by the almanac's success that he decided to write one or more annually. Taken together, they are known to have contained at least 6,338 prophecies, as well as at least eleven annual calendars, all of them starting on 1 January and not, as is sometimes supposed, in March.”
  11. Bloodletting - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 3 April 2015. “Bloodletting (or blood-letting) is the withdrawal of blood from a patient to cure or prevent illness and disease.”
  12. Serial Experiments Lain - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 3 April 2015. “Tachibana Industries, the company that creates the NAVI computers, is a reference to Apple computers: 'tachibana' means 'Mandarin orange' in Japanese. NAVI is the abbreviation of Knowledge Navigator, and the HandiNAVI is based on the Apple Newton, one of the world's first PDAs.”
  13. Boston Molasses Disaster - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 3 April 2015. “The Boston Molasses Disaster, also known as the Great Molasses Flood and the Great Boston Molasses Tragedy, occurred on January 15, 1919, in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States. A large molasses storage tank burst, and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets at an estimated 35 mph (56 km/h), killing 21 and injuring 150. The event has entered local folklore, and for decades afterward residents claimed that on hot summer days the area still smelled of molasses.”

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