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The 16th Century That Was... *

We said our final good-byes to the Middle Ages and embraced the Renaissance which gave us Michelangelo, Leonardo, Donatello and Raphael... the artists... not the turtles. Balboa spots the Pacific Ocean. Cortez spots gold and silver. An Indian saint spots Our Lady of Guadalupe. Books are burned. The first Jewish ghetto. France brings modern warfare tactics to the world. Mapmakers call the New World "America." The Aztecs fall. The Incas fall. Silver from Peru causes the world economy to fall. Potatoes, sunflowers, tulips, hot chocolate and fire ants. Martin Luther kicks Christianity into high gear. John Calvin adds his own signature. The German princes become the Protestants. The Anabaptists become the Amish and Mennonites. Queen Elizabeth watches the Spanish Armada come over the horizon and then sink. The Black Death, small pox and measles rage across the New World. No blankets involved. Syphilis rages across the Old World. The Stockholm Bloodbath. The Saint Bartholomew Day Massacre. Magellan, Anne Boleynn, Sir Thomas More standing tall and losing his head. The Little Ice Age hits hard. Crop failures. Werewolves, witches and horse racing. (Oh my!) The Council of Trent defines Catholicism. The Lutheran Confession defines Lutheranism. The "Prepared Table" defines Judaism. Magnetism, cubic equations, imaginary numbers and the spatula. The gazette is the 1st newspaper. It's "Penny Dreadful." The most destructive earthquake in recorded history hits China. Nostradamus, Galileo Shakespeare and Suleiman the Magnificent. Europe is saved from the Ottoman invasion. The pencil. The Gregorian Calendar. The consolidation of corruption in China. (It's more efficient that way.) 'Pi Day'. Kabuki Theater. The Japanese invasion of Korea and the mother of all heists. The 80 Years' War grinds on and on and on. If it is better to be feared than loved then the 16th century is better than ever! The whole world is changing... again.

My Take by Alex Shrugged
So much good and bad happened in the 16th century that I am reminded of the children's poem by Henry Wadswoth Longfellow...
There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid. [1]

Sumo Wrestlers Make a Big Impression

Some sort of wrestling has existed in Japan for centuries, but the basic recognizable rituals of modern sumo wrestling are coming together this year. The Japanese leadership has already established a raised ring called a yakata rather than using a cleared area for the opponents, but Sumo involves elements of Shinto ritual. The sand over clay in the ring represents purity and the canopy makes the ring look like a Shinto temple. Each wrestler goes through a purification ritual and when a wrestler stamps his feet he is frightening away demons. The modern rules for Sumo wrestling have not been established yet, but the rules will be reasonably simple. If any part of the body other than ones feet touches the sand, or if one leaves the ring, the match is over. The weight of the opponents is not a consideration so naturally it becomes a very important consideration. If you are very small, and you are matched with someone very big, you are going to lose so it is imperative to pick up as much weight and muscle as quickly as possible. [2] [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Modern Sumo wrestling has become a major sport in Japan with a lot or money at stake. Honor is considered primary and any suggestion of cheating or throwing a match will be met with stoney silence and harder stares. In 1996 a Sumo wrestler called for a press conference but died mysteriously in the hospital along with a second person about to expose cheating. In 2000 the Freakonomics authors did a statistical study on Sumo qualifying matches and found a significant statistical anomaly that suggested that if one wrestler had already won his place but the other was one match short of qualifying, mysteriously that wrestler would win his bout, thus owing something to the other wrestler... later. In 2011 match rigging was discovered when the police were investigating a different crime and the spring tournament that year was cancelled. There is no truth to the rumor that they were also deflating footballs. [6] [7] [8] [9]

The Largest Volcanic Eruption in South American History

It is important to note this volcanic eruption in Peru. The aftermath will kill 2 million people as world-wide temperatures drop and crops fail... but not today. [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Of course anyone near the volcano died immediately. It left a crater 2 miles wide. Any mountain that once existed there is now gone.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1600, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. (1904) "There Was a Little Girl", Poems of Home: III. Fun for Little Folk, Bliss Carman, et al. (editors). Retrieved on 18 June 2015. “There was a little girl, / Who had a little curl, / Right in the middle of her forehead. / When she was good, / She was very good indeed, / But when she was bad she was horrid.” 
  2. Sumo - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 26 June 2015. “In recent years, a number of high-profile controversies and scandals rocked the sumo world, with a concomitant effect on its reputation and ticket sales, while also affecting the sport's ability to attract new recruits. Despite this, sumo's popularity and general attendance has rebounded due to having multiple yokozuna (or grand champions) for the first time in a number of years and other high profile wrestlers such as Endō and Ichinojō grabbing the public's attention.”
  3. The History of Sumo Wrestling. Sumo Talk (2013). Retrieved on 28 June 2015. “Sumo as part of Shinto ritual dates as far back as the Tumulus period (250-552), but it wasn't until the 17th century that it began adopting the intense purification rituals that we see in sumo today.”
  4. Sumo Wrestling - A History and Style Guide. about.com (2015). Retrieved on 28 June 2015. “Wrestlers, called rikishi, wore looser loincloths at the time, rather than the less flexible and tighter mawashi they cloth themselves with today. In addition, the rules began to change during the Edo period toward those of today, as previously there were different goals other than to move an opponent out of the ring or bring them to the ground.”
  5. Sumo. japan-guide.com (2015). Retrieved on 28 June 2015. “The rules are simple: the wrestler who first exits the ring or touches the ground with any part of his body besides the soles of his feet loses. Matches take place on an elevated ring (dohyo), which is made of clay and covered in a layer of sand.”
  6. The Numbers in Sumo Cheating: Freakonomics Movie. YouTube (2015). Retrieved on 26 June 2015. “The nitty gritty of cheating in Sumo wrestling.”
  7. Sumo: Spring tournament cancelled in corruption crisis - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos. sports.inquirer.net (February 6, 2011). Retrieved on 28 June 2015. “Match-rigging claims have long stalked sumo, which has its roots in Japan's native Shinto religion and dates back some 1,500 years ? but this is the first time wrestlers still in the sumo world have confessed.”
  8. Winning Isn’t Everything: Corruption in Sumo Wrestling. econ.brown.edu (July 2000). Retrieved on 28 June 2015. “Using data on every match in a tournament between 1989 and 2000, Duggan and Levitt find that wrestlers who are one win away from moving up in the rankings are more likely to win than usual.”
  9. Sumo Wrestling in Grip of Corruption : Article from Today's UK Telegraph. Banzuke.com (May 22, 1996). Retrieved on 28 June 2015. “Onaruto was due to have given a press conference on April 26 at which he promised to describe rampant match-fixing and lucrative ties between sumo officials and the yakuza (Japanese mafia).”
  10. Huaynaputina - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 28 June 2015. “Though the Spanish introduced Catholicism and ended the practice of sacrifice, Navarro (1994)[5] maintains that the indigenous people probably related the volcano's eruption to a lack of sacrifice which had angered Supay, god of death. Father Alonso Ruiz of Arequipa predicted a 'hit from heaven' in 1599, at which time activity may have begun at the volcano.”

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