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China's Worst 5 Years of Drought and Rain in 500 Years *

The Little Ice Age has hit China hard with drought and rain out of season. The drought of a few years ago sparked a rebellion amongst farmers against the Ming Dynasty, [1] but this year a "veil of dust" from unusual volcanic activity will cause the 5 worst weather years in Chinese history as measured between 1470 and 1969. Six eruptions will occur in the Philippines, Indonesia and New Guinea in the next few years and cause global temperatures to drop. Russia and Ukraine will suffer from drought and subsequent famine. Japan will be hit by a similar series of droughts next year and Virginia will suffer its driest year in 1638. And you know I have to say it... millions will die. [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Well... let's accentuate the positive. Obviously there is nothing a modern day farmer can do about volcanic eruptions, but modern farmers are in a better position to roll with the punches than 17th century farmers in the midst of the Little Ice Age. Today our growing seasons are longer and our temperatures are slightly higher (and therefore we can handle a drop in temps.) Rains out of season are more difficult to handle but with modern irrigation systems even the desert can produce crops. (I'm looking at YOU, Southern California.) We also have better food storage so that we can spread a good harvest across a longer span of time until we can get the next crop in. [4] [5]

The Irrational Exuberance of Tulip Mania

The Thirty Years' War has produced some strange fluctuations in the economy. Initially the Holy Roman Emperor tried to pay for the war by debasing the money supply. (That means he minted coins with less precious metal in them.) As the devalued coins bought less and less, commodities were traded like money. Oddly enough, tulips became extremely valuable. People traded in tulips, instead of gold. Like the modern day Beanie-Baby craze, the values attributed to simple flowers expanded to insane proportions... beyond any inflationary policy of the Emperor. This year the economic house of flowers has fallen. Those who traded entire fortunes for a few tulips bulbs are now holding simple flowers. They are financially ruined. The Netherlands has hit a major speed bump in the world economy and this is just the beginning of the downturn. [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK... we've seen fads and crazes before. Tulip Mania was different. This was a real economic bubble and when it burst, it hurt bad. Remember the Dot Com Bubble. It was preceded by a warning from the Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan, about "irrational exuberance," yet the Dot Com Bubble proceeded with vigor until it finally burst. People remembered Greenspan's warning... and then THEY DID IT ALL AGAIN with the Subprime Mortgage Crisis! We bailed out banks and companies "too big to fail." If a company is too big to fail, then it is too big to exist but as an individual, what can I do about it? I feel an impulse to convert everything I own into gold or silver or XYZ. Investing a small portion of my laughable "fortune" in a valuable commodity seems reasonable, but I must resist an "irrational exuberance." [8] [9]

Women's Lib, Freedom of Religion and Gun Control

Anne Hutchinson seems utterly oblivious to the opinions of others, believing instead that her sense of righteousness is guide enough. She has been holding meetings amongst women (shudder!) to discuss the preacher's latest sermon and even men have been attending. (Gasp!) Her meetings are now banned and she is on trial for the 'slandering of ministers'. (Apparently she commented unfavorably upon the preacher's sermon.) Luckily, she never made these statements in a public forum. (Private meetings are considered private.) She is utterly fearless and in the end her inspired pronouncements made in the midst of the trial "prove" to the court that she has gone beyond community religious standards. Since she has influenced a great many people, 75 men are ordered to turn in their weapons lest their spirits be inspired to use the guns on others... such as the judges. Failure to comply carries a 10 pound fine, a considerable sum. Anne is eventually banished to Providence, Rhode Island. [10] [11] [12] [13]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Well... most modern people would find Anne's religious arguments interesting but not particularly controversial. For example, she felt that she had a personal relationship with God, and she exhibited all the charismatic personality of your average TV preacher. In those days "charisma" was not considered a virtue and it was not even considered an English word until right around 1635. It was not to be encouraged. In any case, Anne Hutchinson believed in God. She wanted to worship Him in her own way, but was mindful of her place within the community. Nevertheless, she did not see a difference when a man followed his religious conscience and a woman followed hers. The court did see a difference and that's all she wrote. [14]

And Another Thing...

* Elizabeth Poole founds Taunton, Massachusetts. It is the first time for a woman in the New World. [15]
* The first opera house opens in Venice. [16]
* King Charles the 1st of England calls a halt to emigration to the New World! [17]
* René Descartes introduces the Cartesian coordinate system. It links math with geometry! High school math students cry in anguish. [18]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1637, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Qing dynasty - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 1 September 2015. “By 1636, his son Hong Taiji began driving Ming forces out of Liaodong and declared a new dynasty, the Qing.”
  2. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (BOOK), Knopf. ISBN 9780307265722. “Follow the silver to its destination in China. The Little Ice Age has taken hold in East Asia, too, though here the impact is typically less a matter of snow and ice than of crashing, copious rain alternating with bouts of cold drought. The five worst years of drought in five centuries occurred between 1637 and 1641. This year, rain is drowning the crops. All the impacts have been exacerbated by a series of volcano eruptions in Indonesia, Japan, New Guinea, and the Philippines. Millions have died.” 
  3. Atwell, William S. (April 2001). "Volcanism and Short-Term Climatic Change in East Asian and World History, c. 1200-1699". Journal of World History, vol 12 (University of Hawai'i Press) 12 (1): 29-98. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20078878. Retrieved 16 August 2015. "Although China's much greater size and agricultural diversity make such 'national' generalizations more difficult, recent research indicates that over the five centuries between 1470 and 1969, the five worst years of consecutive drought in China as a whole occurred between 1637 and 1641.". 
  4. High Desert Crops - Los Angeles County. University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (2015). Retrieved on 1 September 2015. “Alfalfa has been the main crop of the High Desert for many decades. It is one of the most palatable forages, providing high energy and protein, for dairy cows and other types of livestock. It is considered the 'Queen of Forages' due to its high yield and quality; stand persistence; wide adaptation; biological nitrogen fixation; and soil benefits. The plentiful sunshine, warmth, well-drained soils and lack of excessive rain during the growing season offer the High Desert area ideal conditions for successful crops.”
  5. Desert farming - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 1 September 2015. “Desert farming generally relies on irrigation, as it is the easiest way to make a desert bloom. In California, the Imperial Valley is a good example of what can be done. Australia and the Horn of Africa are also places with interesting desert agriculture.”
  6. Wilson, Peter H.. Thirty Years War: Europe's Tragedy, The. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 732-733. ISBN 9780674036345. 
  7. Tulip mania - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 1 September 2015. “At the peak of tulip mania, in March 1637, some single tulip bulbs sold for more than 10 times the annual income of a skilled craftsman. It is generally considered the first recorded speculative bubble (or economic bubble),[3] although some researchers have noted that the Kipper- und Wipperzeit episode in 1619–22, a Europe-wide chain of debasement of the metal content of coins to fund warfare, featured mania-like similarities to a bubble.”
  8. Irrational Exuberance: The Hidden Danger of Irrational Exuberance. about.com (2015). Retrieved on 1 September 2015. “Definition: Irrational exuberance is when investors are so confident that the price of an asset will keep going up they lose sight of its underlying value. They overlook deteriorating economic fundamentals in the pursuit of ever-higher returns. Instead, they get into a bidding war and send prices up even higher. Irrational exuberance drives the peak phase of the business cycle.”
  9. Subprime mortgage crisis - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 1 September 2015. “The expansion of household debt was financed with mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDO), which initially offered attractive rates of return due to the higher interest rates on the mortgages; however, the lower credit quality ultimately caused massive defaults. While elements of the crisis first became more visible during 2007, several major financial institutions collapsed in September 2008, with significant disruption in the flow of credit to businesses and consumers and the onset of a severe global recession.”
  10. Jacobs, Diane. Dear Abigail: The Intimate Lives and Revolutionary Ideas of Abigail Adams and Her Two Remarkable Sisters. Ballantine Books. ISBN 9780345465061. Retrieved on August 25, 2015. “In New England, women's fight for social involvement had died a century before with the banning of Anne Hutchinson's weekly meetings in 1637. Where Hutchinson had borne sixteen children and co-founded the colony of Rhode Island, mothers of the mid-eighteenth century generally sought power only in the private sphere.” 
  11. Anne Hutchinson: Events of 1637 - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 25 August 2015. “With Wheelwright banished and other court business taken care of, on 7 November 1637 Hutchinson was brought to trial, presided over by Governor John Winthrop, on the charge of 'traducing [slandering] the ministers'. Other charges against her were laid out by Winthrop, including being one who 'troubled the peace of the commonwealth and churches', promoting and divulging opinions that had caused recent troubles, and continuing to hold meetings at her home despite a recent synod that had condemned them. They found it difficult to charge her because, unlike Wheelwright and the other men who had been tried, she had never spoken her opinions in public, nor had she ever signed any statements about them.”
  12. Bernard Bailyn. The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600–1675. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 9780307960825. “By the fall of 1636 their fears seemed to be realized as Hutchinson, inspired and oblivious to external authority, cultivated the familiar practice of gathering together groups of women to discuss recent sermons, she presiding '(gravely) sitting in the chaire' and commenting freely.” 
  13. Antinomianism - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 September 2015. “The term antinomianism emerged soon after the Protestant Reformation (c.1517) and has historically been used as a pejorative against Christian thinkers or sects who carried their belief in justification by faith further than was customary.”
  14. Charisma - definition of charisma (2015). Retrieved on 2 September 2015. “1635–45; < Late Latin < Greek, n. derivative of charízesthai to favor, derivative of cháris favor, grace”
  15. Elizabeth Poole - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 September 2015. “She was the first woman known to have founded a town in the Americas.”
  16. Teatro San Cassiano - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 September 2015. “The Teatro San Cassiano or Teatro di San Cassiano in Venice was the first public opera house when it opened in 1637.”
  17. Alex Shrugged notes: I'm not sure of this one but it makes sense considering all the other things happening in England. King Charles the 1st has his hands full.
  18. Cartesian coordinate system - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 2 September 2015. “The invention of Cartesian coordinates in the 17th century by René Descartes (Latinized name: Cartesius) revolutionized mathematics by providing the first systematic link between Euclidean geometry and algebra.”

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