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Almost Every Building in Santiago, Chile Collapses

On the evening of May 14th, at approximately 10:30 PM, an 8.5 magnitude earthquake hits Santiago, Chile. Estimates are that 1,000 to 2,000 people have been killed and almost every building in Santiago has collapsed. The Church of Saint Agustin has collapsed and according to legend, the church crucifix (a representation of Jesus on the cross) survives but the crown of thorns now hangs around the neck of Jesus. That is considered impossible and thus a miracle. The Cristo de Mayo crucifix will be paraded in the streets every year thereafter into the modern day. The Church of Saint Agustin won't be rebuilt until 1705 and as far as I can tell, it is still standing even after the recent 8.3 earthquake (in 2015). [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
On September 16th, 2015 an 8.3 magnitude earthquake hit 177 miles north of Santiago, Chile. 8 people were killed including one woman who died when a wall fell on top of her. (The number one way to die in an earthquake is to run outside and have a brick hit you on the head!) One million people self-evacuated from the coastline. (No one waited for a government bus.) The surge was 15 feet in some places but flood damage was minimal. Strict building standards in earthquake-prone regions have resulted in radically higher survival rates. However, one standard does not fit all. The window placement in my home in Austin, Texas would never be allowed in Chile because the windows are too large and too close to the corners of the building. Windows weaken the structure of a wall and would cause a collapse of the building in a earthquake... except we don't get earthquakes in Austin... so I'm OK! Always check the local building standards and ask WHY they are different (if they are different). There is no sense in overbuilding unless there is a good reason to do so. [4] [5]

Yellow Fever Hits the New World

It begins in Barbados. The major sugar cane plantations are located there. Sugar cane production requires that the plants be boiled down immediately after harvest and the resulting syrup poured into clay pots. This process requires hundreds to thousands of clay pots and thus clay pots are sitting around unused between harvests. They fill with water and become the perfect environment for mosquitoes that carry yellow fever. The only wonder is why yellow fever has not hit the island earlier. Whatever the reason, it hits hard now. It will kill over 30% of the population of Barbados in 18 months and move on to surroundings islands and all the way to Panama. The epidemic will last for 5 years and even reach Massachusetts which will be forced to institute its first quarantine of ships. [6] [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
So... why is it called "Yellow Fever?" The disease causes jaundice which gives a yellow pallor to the skin. Sailors call it "Yellow Jack" because a yellow flag is raised to indicate that the fever has infected the ship. Yellow fever probably came from West Africa when slaves were brought to the West Indies. Most West Africans were immune to yellow fever because they usually got the fever as children. A child's immune system is better able to fight off the disease and one is immune thereafter. In the late 1800s when France attempted to construct the Panama Canal it lost about 200 men a month to yellow fever, and malaria. Then the USA took over the project. Major Walter Reed (Yes, THAT Walter Reed) led a team which discovered that yellow fever is a mosquito-borne disease so they fought the disease by fighting the mosquito. A vaccine was finally developed in 1937 by Max Theiler who received the Nobel Prize for that one. Well deserved. [10]

England Bans Christmas! *

The dates of various events in history have come into question... in particular the birth date of Jesus as December 25th. The English Puritans believe that Christmas is a holiday invented by the Pope. There is also a lot of unseemly festive behavior associated with the holiday, so the Parliament passes a law banning the holiday this year. Apparently this law is not very popular with the rank-and-file. People like Christmas! The Easter Bunny breathes a sigh of relief. He was next. [11] [12] [13]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
After one sees a New Orleans' Mardi Gras one can imagine how religious holidays might lose their connection to the original meaning of the holiday. Certainly this has happened with Christmas. Regardless of the actual date of the birth of Jesus, it seems perfectly reasonable to celebrate his birthday since he is a significant figure in Christianity and in history as a whole. Even Judaism has been affected by the holiday. Chanukah is a minor Jewish holiday that has become popular only because it is observed around December. Yet Chanukah has as much to do with Christmas as Cinco de Mayo does. That is... if Cinco de Mayo occurred in December you can bet that the holiday would take on some of the festive character of Christmas. Christmas is massively influential yet if the birth of Jesus is mentioned at all, it is usually as a side point. It's a serious holiday, but people want Christmas to remain a fun festival. The Christians shouldn't feel too discouraged. Judaism has a similar problem with Jews who won't take serious Jewish holidays seriously either.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1647, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Iglesia de San Agustin - AllSantiago.com. allsantiago.com (2015). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “The earthquake that struck the city that night brought virtually every building to the ground, including – as already mentioned – the San Agustín. The crucifix, however, remained intact for the exception of its crown of thorns which had inexplicably slipped from his head to his neck even if the figure’s head was larger than the diameter of the crown.”
  2. Significant Earthquake 1647. NOAA (OFFICIAL SITE) (2015). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “1647, May 13. The great Santiago earthquake occurred on May 13 (Monday) at 10:30 p.m. [Local time]. Santiago contained about 300 houses at the time. The number of victims was estimated at 'about a thousand', or one to every five inhabitants. All descriptions point to an epicenter within 50 miles of Santiago. The estimated magnitude is 8.5. (reference #252)”
  3. 1647 Santiago earthquake - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “The 1647 Santiago earthquake struck Santiago, Chile on the night of 13 May (22:30 local time, 02:30 UTC on 14 May) and is said to have brought virtually every building in the city to the ground.”
  4. "In Chile, Earthquake Forces One Million to Evacuate", The New York Times, New York Times Company, September 16, 2015. Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “People moved to higher ground in vehicles and on foot in relative calm as waves began flooding parts of some cities with differing intensity. Waves reached as high as 15 feet in Coquimbo, a port city 285 miles north of Santiago.” 
  5. Chile rocked by deadly 8.3 magnitude earthquake. CBS News. CBS Broadcasting (September 17, 2015). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “Chile state TV showed water flowing in streets of Concon, a coastal town known for its beautiful beaches that is close to Valparaiso. Higher water was also seen in other cities but no destructive high waves had been reported.”
  6. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (BOOK), Knopf. ISBN 9780307265722. “The first yellow fever onslaught began in 1647 and lasted five years. Terror spread as far away as Massachusetts, which instituted its first-ever quarantine on incoming vessels.” 
  7. Agramonte, Aristides (December 1930). "The Scourge of Yellow Fever: Its Past and Present". The Scientific Monthly (American Association for the Advancement of Science) 31 (6): 524-530. http://www.jstor.org/stable/15055. Retrieved 18 September 2015. "All the islands bordering upon the Caribbean Sea, as well as the mainland (Panama, Darien), subsequently suffered epidemics of yellow fever, while in some of them the disease established itself definitely, raging during the summer, less active in winter, but continually demanding a fair number of victims from the population.". 
  8. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster. “1647: Daily Life: Yellow fever in Barbados” 
  9. McNeill, J. R. (April 2004). "Yellow Jack and Geopolitics: Environment, Epidemics, and the Struggles for Empire in the American Tropics, 1650-1825". OAH Magazine of History (Oxford University Press on behalf of the Organization of American Historians) 18 (3): 9-13. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25163676. Retrieved 18 September 2015. "Its symptoms can be mild or serious, and, in classic cases, consist of fever, headache, jaundice, and internal hemorrhage. It is primarily a disease of tree-dwelling monkeys. In vulnerable human populations, case mortality may be as high as 85 percent. Young adults are the most at risk. Children normally experience it only mildly, and their prospects for survival are excellent. In survivors, it produces lifelong immunity -- a very effective vaccination has been available since 1936.". 
  10. Panama Canal - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 18 September 2015. “The dense jungle was alive with venomous snakes, insects and spiders and the worst aspect was the yellow fever and malaria (and other tropical diseases) which killed thousands of workers: by 1884 the death rate was over 200 per month.”
  11. 1647 - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “England's Puritan rulers ban Christmas.”
  12. Lords of Misrule: The Puritan War on Christmas 1642-60. History Today: The educational archive of articles, news and study aids for teachers, students and enthusiasts (2015). Archived from the original on March 10, 2007. Retrieved on 17 September 2015. “Such long-cherished activities necessarily often led to drunkenness, promiscuity and other forms of excess. In fact the concept of 'misrule', or a ritualised reversal of traditional social norms, was an important element of Christmas, and has been viewed by historians as a useful safety-valve for the tensions within English society. It was precisely this face of Christmas, however, that the Puritans of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England found so objectionable.”
  13. Carl Philipp Emanuel Nothaft (October 2011). "From Sukkot to Saturnalia: The Attack on Christmas in Sixteenth-Century Chronological Scholarship". Journal of the History of Ideas (University of Pennsylvania Press) 72 (4): 504-505. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41337151. "However, when Thomas Mocket, rector of Gilston in Hertfordshire, decried such vices in a pamphlet to justify the parliamentary 'ban' of Christmas, effective since June 1647...". 

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