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The Time of Troubles and a Moving Response to Disaster *

In 1600, a volcano in Peru blew sky high leaving a crater 2 miles wide. Massive amounts of sulfur were spewed into the stratosphere causing global temperatures to drop just before summer. In Russia, crop failures became the rule causing massive famine, cannibalism, and roaming bands of looters. An estimated 2 million people died. The Russians call it the Time of Troubles which will bring the Romanov Dynasty to power in 1613. Outside of Russia, unseasonably stormy weather reduced crop yields and delayed the ripening of fruit trees. Now the world begins its recovery yet again. Volcanic eruptions can have destructive consequences. 400 years ago, the options to prepare for such disasters were limited. In the modern day our options are more promising. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
FYI, in 1601 North America had a cooler than normal summer but no devastating crop failures. It was tough but manageable. Japan reported later than average blooming of their fruit trees. Western Europe certainly suffered but not as much as the Russian people did. Unlike modern movie depictions of global climate disaster, some places will make out OK. Even during the Great Famine of 1315 while people in London were eating their own children, there was plenty of food in southern Italy. The problem was transporting the food from where it was plentiful to where it was needed at a reasonable price. In the 1300s they couldn't do that very well. Today we can. We are also more mobile so that even though we can't do much about a volcano's destruction, we can get out of its way. Don't get too discouraged unless you are living in Tacoma, Washington. Anyone living along the probable path of destruction of Mount Rainier needs a bus ticket, not a cellar filled with survival seeds, nor mason jars filled with 5-bean chili. When an obvious disaster is looming, often the best thing to do is to move out of its way. [8]

The English Dictionary Goes Alphabetical

It seems obvious to people of the modern day, but until now, no one thought to put an English dictionary into alphabetical order. This particular dictionary is not much help. It is only 120 pages of 2543 words designed for use by women, but it is a start. Today, spelling counts, but it doesn't count for much, yet. [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Anyone reading letters written by our Founding Fathers will notice that they are blissfully unconcerned with proper spelling. Using a dictionary in alphabetical order is not as obvious nor as easy as one might think. Anyone trying to use a Japanese dictionary knows that well. I've had to learn how to use a dictionary in Hebrew which is a little easier. A Hebrew dictionary is in Alef-Bet order which seems like a good beginning toward the Alpha Bet order, but the letters themselves look squared and arbitrary. I'm not sure if readers of the 1600s normally learned the English alphabet in a specific order but knowing the alphabet in proper order would be a prerequisite to using a dictionary effectively.

Cheating Satan of His Desire: Coffee and Crullers

At this time so much coffee is coming through the Yemen port of Mocha (MOH-kah) that some people consider the drink a Muslim brew and they fear that its a design of Satan. The people urge the Pope to taste this coffee and make his judgment. He takes a sip and loves it! The Pope suggests that he is denying Satan of his drink by drinking the coffee himself! Somewhat less controversial was the publishing of the recipe for a new French dough called "puff pastry." It is so delicious and light that bakers will use it to create éclairs, French crullers and, God help us all, churros! If you want to mark the founding of Starbucks from this date then seek help... and a nice caffè latte (KAH-fey LAH-tey). [11] [12] [13] [14]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Is this coffee story true? Probably not, but the story was going around at the time. Given that two Popes had died within the year 1604 and intellectuals were predicting the end of the Papacy it is remarkable that people passed the time with this amusing story about the Pope and coffee. I have never bought anything from Starbucks but at home my wife made a coffee drink with whipped milk for me. It tasted like candy but I'll go to Hell in my own way, thank you very much. I'm sticking with regular coffee. [15]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1604, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. The 1600 eruption of Huaynaputina in Peru caused global disruption. Science Centric News (24 April 2008). Retrieved on 2 July 2015. “In Russia, 1601-1603 brought the worst famine in the country's history, leading to the overthrow of the reigning tsar. Records from Switzerland, Latvia and Estonia record exceptionally cold winters in 1600-1602; in France, the 1601 wine harvest was late, and wine production collapsed in Germany and colonial Peru. In China, peach trees bloomed late, and Lake Suwa in Japan had one of its earliest freezing dates in 500 years.”
  2. Permaculture and Seven Years of Famine. TSPWiki (1315). Retrieved on 2 July 2015. “Update [2014-March-6]: Texas A&M Atmospheric Science Department responded (actually... one guy in the department so don't hold them to it): 'This sounds very good. It is not unusual for a violent eruption to inject aerosols into the stratosphere. There is very little exchange of air between the stratosphere and troposphere, so once an aerosol is injected into the stratosphere, it can remain there for quite a while circling the globe. Depending on the aerosol, it can have a net cooling effect on the earth. The aerosols can reflect or absorb solar radiation which then doesn't make it to the surface. Less solar radiation reaching the surface means a cooler global temperature and depending on where you are, it could mean shorter growing periods or none at all. We only have direct observations of sulfate aerosols going back to the 70s so the other way to find these concentrations is using ice cores. I looked and found a paper that saw a small peak in sulfate concentrations in the Southern Hemisphere in 1316. I'm not sure of the reliability of the data however. Your description does sound plausible.'”
  3. Mount Tarawera - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 July 2015. “Mount Tarawera erupted around AD 1315. The ash thrown from this event may have affected temperatures around the globe and precipitated the Great Famine of 1315–1317 in Europe.”
  4. Great Famine of 1315–17 - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 July 2015. “Between 1310 and 1330 northern Europe experienced some of the most unfavourable winters for human survival and least favourable for food harvests in the entire Middle Ages, characterized by severe winters and cold, rainy summers. The Great Famine may have been precipitated by a volcanic event, perhaps that of Mount Tarawera, New Zealand, which lasted about five years.”
  5. Huaynaputina - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 July 2015. “On 19 February 1600, it exploded catastrophically (Volcanic Explosivity Index VEI 6), in the largest volcanic explosion in South America in historic times. The eruption continued with a series of events into March.”
  6. William S. Atwell (April 2001). Volcanism and Short-Term Climatic Change in East Asian and World History, c. 1200-1699. Journal of World History. 12. University of Hawai'i Press. pp. 29-98. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20078878. "The crops failed again in 1602 and also, to a considerable extent, in 1603. Famine reached catastrophic proportions. [...] Large bands of desperate men that roamed and looted the countryside and sometimes gave battle to regular troops appeared at this time and became a characteristic phenomenon of the Time of Troubles...". 
  7. Time of Troubles - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 July 2015. “In 1601–03, Russia suffered a famine that killed one-third of the population, about two million. At the time, Russia was occupied by the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in the Dimitriads, and suffered from civil uprisings, usurpers and impostors.”
  8. Tacoma, Washington - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 July 2015. “Large areas of Tacoma have excellent views of Mt. Rainier. In the event of a major eruption of Mount Rainier, portions of Tacoma's industrial area are at risk from lahars.”
  9. Table Alphabeticall - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 3 July 2015. “Although the work is important in being the first collection of its kind, it was never deemed a particularly useful work. At only 120 pages, it listed 2,543 words along with very brief (often single-word) definitions. In most cases, it was little more than a list of synonyms.”
  10. A Table Alphabeticall of Hard Usual English Words (R. Cawdrey, 1604). library.utoronto.ca (1604). Retrieved on 3 July 2015. “Robert Cawdrey's Table Alphabeticall, first printed in 1604, is generally regarded to be the first fully developed representative of the monolingual dictionary in English.”
  11. Pope Clement VIII - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 3 July 2015. “Coffee aficionados often claim that the spread of its popularity is due to Pope Clement VIII's influence. Being pressured by his advisers to declare coffee the 'bitter invention of Satan' because of its popularity among Muslims and it being a sort of antithesis or substitute for wine (which was used in the Eucharist), upon tasting it he instead declared that, 'This devil's drink is so delicious...we should cheat the devil by baptizing it!' The year often cited is 1600. It is not clear whether this is a true story, but it may have been found amusing at the time.”
  12. mocha - definition of mocha (2015). Retrieved on 3 July 2015. “...a port in Yemen, on the Red Sea; in the former North Yemen until 1990: formerly important for the export of Arabian coffee.”
  13. Latte - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 3 July 2015. “Coffee and milk have been part of European cuisine since the 17th century (there is no mention of milk in coffee pre 1600 in Turkey or in the Arab world). 'Caffè latte', 'Milchkaffee', 'Café au lait' and 'Café con leche' are domestic terms of traditional ways of drinking coffee, usually as part of breakfast in the home.”
  14. Choux pastry - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 3 July 2015. “According to some cookbooks,[2] a chef by the name of Pantarelli or Pantanelli invented the dough in 1540, seven years after he left Florence with Catherine de' Medici and her court.”
  15. Starbucks is making a major push in France. Hope Star (2015). Retrieved on 3 July 2015. “Starbucks is expanding its international presence. The powerful coffee chain just announced a partnership with Casino Restauration to open Starbucks stores within Géant Casino Hypermarkets and Casino Supermarkets in France.”

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