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It's the End of the World... for Some

One of the most catastrophic environmental disasters of all time hits Europe. It begins in Iceland when 130 volcanic fissures open up near Mount Laki and spew forth clouds of volcanic ash and noxious gases. 50% of Iceland's livestock are dead, and 9,000 Icelanders are buried in lava or killed by poison gases. Starvation will run up the death toll to 20,000 which is about a third of the population of Iceland. A haze of ash has risen into the sky and enveloped Europe. World temperatures drop, leading to a drought in India, a severe winter in the USA and wide-spread crop failures throughout Europe. If you ever wondered why there were bread riots before the "let them eat cake" French Revolution, now you know. The eruption will continue into next year. Also a series of earthquakes in southern Italy leaves 50,000 people dead and there is even more bad news but lets leave it there. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Just as a reminder... Iceland remains unstable. There have been incidents in recent years such as that eruption in 2010 that shutdown air travel throughout Europe for almost a week. Sir Richard Branson complained that it was an overreaction, and it may have been but in 1989 a KLM flight flew through a volcanic cloud and all 4 engines flamed out! The pilot reported, "KLM 867 heavy, we are descending now: we are in a fall!" As the plane plummeted to its doom, the pilot was able to restart two of the engines and limp to the airport in Anchorage, Alaska. It was a frightening ordeal so the government decided to be more cautious the next time regarding volcanic eruptions. Predicting the severity of a disaster in its early stages is often difficult. Chances are that when disaster is looming, you have a job, commitments, plans. You don't want to blow that all off on a hunch or a worry, but if you wait too long, your options are limited. My wife complains that I tell her that a disaster might occur. She gets scared and then the disaster doesn't occur. I don't want to be the boy who cries wolf, so I prepare in the background and don't mention it as much any more. [4] [5] [6]

All I Want for Christmas is a New Prime Minister!

Lord North has been the Prime Minister throughout the war with what is now the United States of America. Treaties have been signed, and Lord North is being shown the door, but he hasn't been Prime Minister all these years for nothing. Lord North (a Torie) establishes a new coalition with Charles Fox (a Whig). These two have been at each others throats for years. It's like Bernie Sanders teaming up with Ted Cruz to "get things done for the people" and asking President Obama for approval. Yeah... not happening, but the North-Fox coalition is presented to King George the 3rd. He grits his teeth and approves it. It fails by Christmas. Parliament is looking for another Prime Minister but as a temporary measure to get through Christmas, they install William Pitt the Younger. He will hold the office for 17 Christmases to come. [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Yeah. "It's just temporary." Stop-gap measures and continuing resolutions often become permanent, but setting an expiration date can help. In 1994, Congress banned so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines... the ones that hold more than five rounds. Weapons and magazines purchased BEFORE the ban were "grandfathered in. In other words, if you already owned one, you could keep it. Gun sales went through the roof! Glock put on extra shifts at the factory to produce their larger magazines. They made a killing, so to speak. There were legal challenges galore, but what finally killed the law was the expiration date of September 13th, 2004. Since that time, efforts to renew the law have been unsuccessful. Hooray! [9] [10]

A National Language for a National Government

Noah Webster is a school teacher who hates schools. In particular, he hates the system by which children are taught spelling, grammar and reading at the elementary school level. Currently teaching materials in the United States are lacking. When textbooks are available, they usually come from England and are promoting an aristocratic English that Webster dislikes. He thinks that the language should be defined by its users. He decides to write new textbooks for a new nation, the United States. This year he publishes a speller. Next year, it will be a grammar of the English language, followed by a reader. [11] [12] [13]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Webster changed a lot of the English spelling and most of it caught on. He is the reason why Americans spell "center" ending with an E. R., rather than as the English do, ending it in R. E.. He also tried to change the spelling of tongue to T.U.N.G. but it never caught on. Today he is best known for his dictionary. He spent 26 years compiling a comprehensive dictionary which became the basis of the Miriam-Webster dictionaries today.

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1783, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Laki - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 10 May 2016. “The weather became very hot, causing severe thunderstorms with large hailstones that were reported to have killed cattle,[19] until the haze dissipated in the autumn. The winter of 1783/1784 was very severe; the naturalist Gilbert White in Selborne, Hampshire, reported 28 days of continuous frost. The extreme winter is estimated to have caused 8,000 additional deaths in the UK. During the spring thaw, Germany and Central Europe reported severe flood damage.”
  2. 8, June 1783 : The Laki eruptions. History of Geology (June 08, 2011). Retrieved on 10 May 2016. “More than 9.000 people living in villages overrun by the lava and poisonous gases and ash rain were buried and burned alive or perished of asphyxiation. The ash poisoned the land and the sea of Iceland, killing half of the cattle's population, a quarter of the sheep's and horses, on the fields the crops died off and in the sea the fishes were killed - even in areas not directly hit by the eruption people begun to starve in the years 1783 to 1784.”
  3. 1783 Calabrian earthquakes - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 10 May 2016. “The earthquakes occurred over a period of nearly two months, all with estimated magnitudes of 5.9 or greater. Estimates of the total number of deaths lie in the range 32,000 to 50,000.”
  4. "Icelandic volcanic ash alert grounds UK flights", BBC News, 15 April 2010. Retrieved on 10 May 2016. “The UK's airspace restriction was the worst in living memory, a Nats spokesman said. Some 600,000 people are thought to have been affected.” 
  5. "Volcanic ash: timeline of the flight disruption - Telegraph", The Daily Telegraph, 16 May 2010. Retrieved on 10 May 2016. “Virgin Atlantic boss Sir Richard Branson condemns flight restrictions as an overreaction and blames the Government for grounding flights for six days when experts said there was no danger.” 
  6. A look back at Alaska volcano's near-downing of a 747. HeraldNet.com (April 18, 2010). Retrieved on 10 May 2016. “According to investigator Roy Daw of the National Transportation Safety Board, the aircraft was about 75 miles northwest of Anchorage, descending from its cruising level of 39,000 feet, when pilot van der Elst saw what he thought was a dark cloud in front of him.”
  7. Metaxas, Eric. Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery. HarperOne. ISBN 9780061173004. “North was a close friend of the king's, and Fox, North's political enemy, was internationally famous for being a dissolute rogue. The king hated Fox ferociously: not only was he a political enemy, but he had led the king's eldest son astray, though to lead the Prince of Wales astray was like leading a hungry lion to a lame gazelle.” 
  8. William Pitt the Younger - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 10 May 2016. “The Fox-North Coalition fell in December 1783, after Fox had introduced Edmund Burke's bill to reform the East India Company to gain the patronage he so greatly lacked while the King refused to support him. Fox stated the bill was necessary to save the company from bankruptcy. Pitt responded that: 'Necessity was the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It was the argument of tyrants; it was the creed of slaves.' The King was opposed to the bill; when it passed in the House of Commons, he secured its defeat in the House of Lords by threatening to regard anyone who voted for it as his enemy. Following the bill's failure in the Upper House, George III dismissed the coalition government and finally entrusted the premiership to William Pitt, after having offered the position to him three times previously.”
  9. Federal Assault Weapons Ban - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 10 May 2016. “The assault weapons ban expired on September 13, 2004. Legislation to renew or replace the ban was proposed numerous times unsuccessfully.”
  10. Barrett, Paul. Glock: The Rise of the American Gun. Crown Publishers. ISBN 9780307719942. “As tough as the law sounded, the ban was laughably easy to evade in practice. By renaming their guns and modifying them cosmetically-removing the superfluous bayonet mount, for example-a manufacturer could transform a banned assault weapon into a perfectly legal “sporting” rifle. The ban had another, even bigger loophole: It grandfathered all weapons lawfully in existence at the time of enactment in September 1994. That meant that any gun or magazine manufactured by the day the law took effect could be legally sold, and resold, later on.” 
  11. The Standardization of American English. TeachingHistory.org (2016). Retrieved on 3 April 2016. “One of the biggest proponents of language reform was Noah Webster, a New England lawyer and scholar. Webster argued that even the smallest regional differences in spelling and pronunciation could turn into political difference, resulting in dangerous factions. He traveled around the U.S. giving lectures about standardizing the English language, and in his travels he met Benjamin Franklin, who shared Webster’s concerns about language reform. Franklin proposed deleting the letters c, w, y, and j and adding six new letters to the American alphabet. Webster, however, did not like the idea of adding or subtracting letters, but rather he wanted to simplify the spelling of words—changing favour to favor, for example, or replacing the -re with -er in centre/center and theatre/theater, in order to match spelling with pronunciation. Webster’s speller, which he first published in 1783, and his American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) helped to facilitate homogenization.”
  12. Noah Webster and the Dream of a Common Language. ConnecticutHistory.org (2016). Retrieved on 3 April 2016. “In 1783, Webster published Volume 1 of A Grammatical Institute of the English Language (a.k.a., The American Spelling Book but best known for the color of its binding as the Blue-Backed Speller). Webster believed that the fledgling country needed its own textbooks and a codified language around which to unite. He wrote, 'Now is the time and this the country in which we may expect success in attempting changes to language, science, and government. Let us then seize the present moment and establish a national language as well as a national government.'”
  13. Noah Webster - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 10 May 2016. “His most important improvement, he claimed, was to rescue 'our native tongue' from 'the clamour of pedantry' that surrounded English grammar and pronunciation. He complained that the English language had been corrupted by the British aristocracy, which set its own standard for proper spelling and pronunciation. Webster rejected the notion that the study of Greek and Latin must precede the study of English grammar. The appropriate standard for the American language, argued Webster, was 'the same republican principles as American civil and ecclesiastical constitutions.' This meant that the people-at-large must control the language; popular sovereignty in government must be accompanied by popular usage in language.”

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