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Mercator Projections Made Perfect for Nautical Navigation

How do you sail a compass line course over the curvature of the Earth when all you have is a flat map to plot it? Answer... a Mercator projection. It is the globe of the world projected onto a flat surface. The features at the equator are exactly proportional but as the map goes north and south the land masses become distorted while the lines of longitude and latitude remain straight. This allows a navigator to plot a straight line course on a flat map rather than a curved-looking course on any other map. In the movies, whenever you see a navigator with a grease pencil and a straight edge marking the course of his ship, you know now that he is using some view of a Mercator map. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Unfortunately the Mercator projection does poorly at the north and south poles. This may explain why in the early years of commercial flight the airlines failed to realize that a polar route to certain destinations was a lot closer than flying over the Atlantic. Pilots of the past tended to think of sea navigation using the Mercator map. Once they viewed a polar projection, their error was obvious to see. The Mercator map is also the reason why people think that Greenland is so freakishly bigger than it actually is. [3]

Good God! The Saint Paul Lottery! *

It's all for the public good, says Queen Elizabeth the 1st, as England's first lottery sells up to 400,000 tickets. It is held at Saint Paul's Cathedral and the Queen offers fine china and cash prizes. This is an experiment in raising money for the general fund and certain pet projects. It is advertised as being for the public good. It is probably doing someone some good. During the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin will use a lottery to finance the purchase of cannons. The first public lotteries began in the Netherlands so the English word "lottery" comes from the Dutch word meaning "fate". [4] [5] [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Lest anyone think that Christians have cornered the market on gambling, the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah uses gambling directly. The driedle (DRAY-dill) is a spinning top with four sides. You put money in the pot, spin the top and depending on how it falls, you collect the money or put more in. WHY GAMBLE? In 175 BCE, the study of the Bible was outlawed by the Greek king. Nevertheless, Jews continued to study the Bible but they would also put out a gambling top and money so that if the authorities broke down the door, they would think that the Jews were gambling. Gambling was OK, but studying the Bible was not! After the Greek king was thrown out of Israel, part of remembering the holiday is to light candles, and play with that little gambling top. [8] [9]

The Protestant vs Catholic Churn

A lot is happening this year as the Protestants and Catholics fight for power.

  • The French Catholics beat the Huguenot Calvinists at the battle of Jarnac. Most of the Huguenots will live to fight another day. [10]
  • At the Battle of Orthez, the Catholics surrender to the Huguenots on condition that their lives be spared. Then the Catholics are massacred. [11]
  • The Rising of the Northern Earls against Queen Elizabeth the 1st (Protestant) attempt to place Mary, Queen of Scots (a Catholic) on the throne. It doesn't work. [12]
  • And other battles too numerous to list here.
My Take by Alex Shrugged
It really didn't matter who was the dominant religion in a particular country. The nations craved stability. Unfortunately, the rule was that people of a country had to take on the religion of the ruler... generally speaking. It is not a strict rule yet, but it is becoming more and more the norm. Naturally, if you are the opposite religion to your ruler, you either leave or you go to war to change your leader. The rule on religion was supposed to homogenize the population and bring stability to the region but all it is causing is churn, churn, churn.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1569, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. "1568: World Maps", Asimov's Chronology of Science and Discovery (PDF), Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0062701134. 
  2. Mercator projection - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 April 2015. “The Mercator projection is a cylindrical map projection presented by the Flemish geographer and cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569. It became the standard map projection for nautical purposes because of its ability to represent lines of constant course, known as rhumb lines or loxodromes, as straight segments that conserve the angles with the meridians.”
  3. Alex Shrugged notes: I am making assertions based on my memory of past reading. I'll provide references as I find them.
  4. The History of the Lottery and Lotto Games. winningwithnumbers.com (2008). Retrieved on 30 April 2015. “In 1567, Queen Elizabeth I established the first English lottery, when she offered 400,000 tickets for sale. Prizes included china, tapestries and cash.”
  5. Lottery - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 April 2015. “Although the English probably first experimented with raffles and similar games of chance, the first recorded official lottery was chartered by Queen Elizabeth I, in the year 1566, and was drawn in 1569. This lottery was designed to raise money for the 'reparation of the havens and strength of the Realme, and towardes such other publique good workes'.”
  6. UK lottery results - English lottery results - English lotto results. lukilotto.com (2015). Retrieved on 30 April 2015. “A complete breakdown of the UK Lotto results, English lotto results”
  7. History Of Lottery. historyoflottery.com (2015). Retrieved on 30 April 2015. “hese first lotteries with monetary prizes were held to raise money to aid the poor and fund fortifications of the towns. These lotteries were hailed as a less painful form of taxation and were quite popular amongst the people. In fact, the English word lottery is derived from the Dutch word loterij which stems from the Dutch noun lot meaning 'fate'.”
  8. How to Play Dreidel: 6 Steps (with Pictures). wikihow.com (2015). Retrieved on 30 April 2015. “Dreidel is a traditional game of chance, and one of the most well-known symbols of Hanukkah. The dreidel is a four-sided top with a different Hebrew character on each side. The game dates back at least to the time when the Greek King Antiochus IV (175 BCE) had outlawed Jewish worship. Jews who gathered to study the Torah would play dreidel to fool soldiers into thinking they were just gambling.”
  9. Alex Shrugged notes: The Hebrew word, purim (POOR-um) means lottery. In the Book of Esther a lottery is used to select the day on which the Jews will be attacked. Esther saves the day so the holiday is thereafter named "Purim".
  10. Huguenot - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 April 2015. “Historically, 'Huguenots' were French Protestants inspired by the writings of John Calvin (Jean Calvin in French) in the 1530s, who became known by that originally derisive designation by the end of the 16th century.”
  11. Battle of Orthez 1569 - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 April 2015. “On August 24, Huguenots captured the town and massacred many of the imprisoned Catholics.”
  12. Rising of the North - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 30 April 2015. “The Rising of the North of 1569, also called the Revolt of the Northern Earls or Northern Rebellion, was an unsuccessful attempt by Catholic nobles from Northern England to depose Queen Elizabeth I of England and replace her with Mary, Queen of Scots.”

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