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Free Trade! What a Concept!

Parliament has made the Billingsgate Fish Market a free trade zone after cries of protest from fishermen and buyers over the abuses of the Fishmongers Company. The Billingsgate port is a rectangular area cut into the bank of the Thames River that allows the offloading of cargo from small fishing vessels. An open market has been located there since 1419 and until now, the Fishmongers Company has controlled the marketplace in order to ensure cleanliness and organizing transportation. Over the years things have changed. The Fishmongers have abused their market position, charging large port fees to the ships, and forcing the fishermen to sell to the Fishmongers at low prices and the Fishmongers selling to buyers (called fisherwomen) at high prices. The fix is in, so King William the 3rd passes a law making the Billingsgate Fish Market a free trade zone. Fees for docking and various fees for the marketplace are set by law and enforced by the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen. Buyers and sellers are allowed to meet and work out their own prices without the dubious benefit of the Fishmongers Company. It's a little messy. (Let's be frank. It's a LOT messy.) But it works. In 1850, the marketplace will be enclosed, and a larger market of 30,000 square feet will be constructed in 1877. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Fishmongers Company started out filling a need for the fish market, but it is an iron-clad rule that power corrupts and absolute power stinks like three-day fish. It is easy to talk ones self into doing what is best for "all da little people," especially when they don't seem too smart. Frankly, the Billingsgate Fish Market was a vulgar, dirty place well into the 1850s and probably beyond. The name "Billingsgate" became a synonym for "crude and vulgar" and there are references to the foul tongues of Billingsgate oyster-wives. So it is easy to believe that the Fishmongers Company would see themselves as being helpful... and collecting a fee for that help. But being crude and rude doesn't mean the fishermen were idiots. In the modern day it is easy to discount people who are not well-spoken, but a person don't have to be Einstein to know what he needs and wants. My sense is that our government thinks of us as "Billingsgate oyster-wives" who are too dumb to realize what we really need, so they "help us" and collect a large fee for the helping. I often yell at my television, "They must think I'm an idiot!" Yes. Yes, they do. [5]

Gulliver's Travels *

Gulliver's Travels is a fictional diary of the adventures of Lemuel Gulliver. After failing to find work, he signs on as a surgeon with a ship, the Antelope. They leave Bristol early this year and within a few months, the Antelope strikes a rock. Several sailors are killed and Gulliver is tossed into the sea. He awakens on dry land. As he tries to move he realizes that he has been tied down. He feels something walking across his chest and as he looks down, he sees a man 6 inches tall. He has landed on the Island of Lilliput. Although the events in Gulliver's Travels supposedly take place in 1699, the book will not be published until 1726. Of course, the author is Jonathan Swift.

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Why should we care about Gulliver's Travels? It is political satire. For one thing, Gulliver is introduced to the King of Lilliput, but the King cannot hear Gulliver unless the King's servants (called "flappers") flap his ears, and the King cannot speak until the "flappers" flap the King's lips. Thus, no matter how powerful a king might be, he is only as powerful as his servants will let him be. The Kingdom of Lilliput is at war with the Kingdom of Blefuscu over the Big-Endian/Little-Endian controversy. By convention, Lilliput breaks open an egg from the little end, while Blefuscu breaks the egg on the big end. They go to war to force each other to do it the "right way"... only there is no "right way". In the modern day this sort of controversy extends to computer processors and how each stores data. Intel x86 processors use "little-endian" byte order. Motorola (and the Internet Protocol) uses big-endian byte-order. Does it really matter? Yes. When you are reading the data you must know how the data was stored. Otherwise the byte-order is flipped and the data becomes meaningless. We are busy fighting over who is right instead of solving real problems. The lesson learned is: we do it to ourselves. Gulliver's Travels is required reading for anyone who cares about politics. [6] [7]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1699, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 320-321. “Billingsgate, London, becomes a market” 
  2. William III, 1698: An Act for makeing Billingsgate a Free Market for Sale of Fish.. British History Online (2015). Retrieved on 21 December 2015. “nevertheless divers Abuses evidently destructive to that Trade have been of late Yeares Practiced by raising new Impositions and Tolls and by forestalling of the Markets and other Methods used by the Fishmongers in not permitting the Fisherwomen and others to buy the said Fish of the said Fishermen to sell them again in London and elsewhere by which meanes the Fishermen are obliged to sell their Fish to the said Fishmongers at their owne Rates to the great Discouragement of the said Fishermen”
  3. Bird, James (December 1958). "Billingsgate: A Central Metropolitan Market". The Geographical Journal (Geographical Journal) 124 (4): 464-475. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1790935. Retrieved December 22, 2015. "This measure sought to remove the obligation upon fishermen to sell all their produce to a clique. This ring of fishmongers employed one or two persons to buy all the fish on their behalf, which they divided into lots among themselves, and then charged what rates they pleased.". 
  4. "A Morning at Billingsgate". The Illustrated Magazine of Art (Thomas J. Watson Library, The Metropolitan Museum of Art) 1 (3): 178-179. 1853. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20537937. Retrieved December 22, 2015. 
  5. Billingsgate Fish Market - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 December 2015. “The infamously coarse language of London fishmongers made 'Billingsgate' a byword for crude or vulgar language. One of its earliest uses can be seen in a 1577 chronicle by Raphael Holinshed, where the writer makes reference to the foul tongues of Billingsgate oyster-wives.”
  6. Gulliver's Travels. jus.uio.no (1726). Retrieved on 22 December 2015.
  7. Endianness - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 December 2015. “Endianness refers to the order of the bytes, comprising a digital word, in computer memory. It also describes the order of byte transmission over a digital link. Words may be represented in big-endian or little-endian format. With big-endian the most-significant byte of a word is stored at a particular memory address and the subsequent bytes are stored in the following higher memory addresses, the least significant byte thus being stored at the highest memory address. Little-endian format reverses the order and stores the least-significant byte at the lower memory address with the most significant byte being stored at the highest memory address.[”

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