1798

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This is the World and Nothing Fits

Up to this time, almost every item in the world is handmade and unique, but when a brand new country like the USA is facing a possible war with France it is going to need 10,000 muskets very fast. A single craftsman could build 50 muskets a year, but not 10,000. Eli Whitney is not a gunsmith. He is the inventor of the cotton gin, but his factory has burned down so he accepts the contract to produce those muskets. Although not in the original contract, it is obvious that Whitney will have to mass produce them with interchangeable parts. How will he do it? Someone will have to invent the high speed milling machine but not this year and certainly not the next. Whitney is going to string the government along with excuses until he and several contemporaries will use high speed milling machines to produce parts to a fine tolerance. The parts won't be perfect, but they will be close enough that a little filing will bring each part into compliance. FYI, with the coming of labor-saving machines, you are seeing the end of the guilds and like a modern factory layoff, a lot of skilled workers will be wondering what to do with themselves and who to blame. [1]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
It is difficult to tease out exactly who invented mass production, interchangeable parts and the milling machine. By the 1810s it was already happening. I don't think Eli Whitney started it. There was a rumor that he took government money to prop up his failing cotton gin business, but that rumor was about as reliable as the one praising him for his innate genius and humanitarianism. (Don't read too much into the stories either way.) John Hall of the Harper's Ferry Armory might have been the first to produce interchangeable parts, but I don't think anyone really knows. I have seen books assuring me that I can make my own milling machine out of basic parts. Sounds like fun but I'd rather build my own 3D printer. [2] [3] [4]

The Power of Population and Famine 1975!

The world's population returned to its pre-Plague numbers in the 1650s and is now estimated to be 1 billion souls. This "hockey-stick" growth pattern has forced an early demographer, Reverend Robert Malthus, to issue a desperate warning. He suggests that the doubling power of population is normally kept in check by war, disease and vice, but after those forces claim their share, famine claims the rest. IT'S A TRAP! There is no escape. As peace prevails and disease is conquered, the population explodes making famine all the more horrible. It is called a Malthusian (mal-THOO-see-an) trap and we are doomed to repeat this cycle. Currently over a million Englishmen are on the dole. Over 100,000 paupers have been forced into workhouses. In 1815, Great Britain will raise tariffs on imported food to prop up English farmers. This will make food more expensive and cause... yes, you guessed it... a famine. [5] [6] [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The famine of 1816 was not entirely due to tariffs but Great Britain zigged when they should have zagged. BTW, at the end of 2015 world population was 7.25 billion. People keep saying we are on the brink of disaster and we keep on surviving... except for those who attempt price fixing and market protection schemes. Around 1970, I read the absolutely frightening book, "Famine 1975!" by William and Paul Paddock. It predicted a world wide famine so devastating that it would lead to nuclear war. Then came Paul Ehrlich's book, "The Population Bomb". The famous "hockey-stick" graph is in both books. The data was so clear. What happened? Obviously there was no world-wide famine. No nuclear war. A lot of people started using birth control. Abortion was made legal in the USA and people decided to no longer have such large families. No government mandate needed. Improvements in crop yields helped enormously. Now we have so much food, we can turn it into gasoline. The book "Famine 1975!" sits on my desk as a reminder of how easy it is to trust intellectuals and get caught up in a cause: Zero-Population Growth, Global Cooling, Global Warming and the Delta smelt. I'd like to take that hockey stick and shove it right... uh... never mind. All things in moderation. [9] [10] [11] [12]

In Other News

  • Napoleon takes Egypt but he does NOT shoot the nose off of the Sphinx. [13] [14]
  • Printing from a stone surface (or lithography) is invented. In a sense, the modern copy machine works this way. [15] [16]
  • A wartime income tax of 10% is imposed on British subjects. I'm sure it is just temporary. [13]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1798, Wikipedia.

See Also

References

  1. Eli Whitney - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 31 May 2016. “Although Whitney's demonstration of 1801 appeared to show the ingenuity of interchangeable parts, Merritt Roe Smith concludes that Whitney's demonstration was 'staged' and 'duped government authorities' into believing that he had created interchangeable parts. The charade was only useful in order to gain more time and resources for the project but not to create interchangeable parts.”
  2. John H. Hall (gunsmith) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 31 May 2016. “Hall's methods were novel for the time. Hall transferred water power through a system of leather belts and pulleys to power his machines with unusual pace, greater than 3,000 revolutions per minute with efficiency, while most artisans used hand cutters and files. Like his contemporary Simeon North, Hall began using this mill power to run machine tools and achieve the dimension controls necessary for interchangeable parts.”
  3. Cooper, Carolyn C. (January 2003). "Myth, Rumor, and History: The Yankee Whittling Boy as Hero and Villain". Technology and Culture (The Johns Hopkins University Press and the Society for the History of Technology) 44 (1): 82-96. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25148055. Retrieved 31 May 2016. 
  4. Make Your Own 3D Printer for Under $60 Using Recycled Electronic Components with Instructables Design - 3DPrint.com. 3dprint.com (November 6, 2014). Retrieved on 31 May 2016.
  5. Malthusian catastrophe - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 31 May 2016. “Famine seems to be the last, the most dreadful resource of nature. The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world. — Thomas Malthus, 1798. An Essay on the Principle of Population. Chapter VII, p61”
  6. Corn Laws - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 1 June 2016. “With the advent of peace in 1814, corn prices decreased, and the Tory government of Lord Liverpool passed the 1815 Corn Law to keep bread prices high. This resulted in serious rioting in London. Soon afterwards, repercussions of the 10 April 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, compounded by four preceding big eruptions, caused the 1816 Year Without a Summer and caused famine by disastrously reducing crop yields. Reduced standard of living and food shortages poor harvests led to riots.”
  7. English Poor Laws - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 31 May 2016. “By 1776 some 1,912 parish and corporation workhouses had been established in England and Wales, housing almost 100,000 paupers. Perhaps one million people were receiving some kind of parish poor relief by the end of the century.[49] Although many parishes and pamphlet writers expected to earn money from the labour of the poor in workhouses, the vast majority of people obliged to take up residence in workhouses were ill, elderly, or children whose labour proved largely unprofitable.”
  8. Malthusian trap - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 31 May 2016. “The Malthusian trap, named after political economist Thomas Robert Malthus, suggests that for most of human history, income was largely stagnant because technological advances and discoveries only resulted in more people, rather than improvements in the standard of living. It is only with the onset of the agricultural revolution in Britain and Holland and the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century that the income per person began to dramatically increase in some countries, and they broke out of the trap;[1][2] it has been shown, however, that the escape from the Malthusian trap can also generate serious political upheavals.[3] It is argued that many countries in tropical Africa still find themselves in the Malthusian trap.”
  9. Famine 1975! America's Decision: Who Will Survive? - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 31 May 2016. “In response, they suggest a system of triage in which the United States must 'divide the underdeveloped nations into three categories: 1) Those so hopelessly headed for or in the grip of famine (whether because of overpopulation, agricultural insufficiency, or political ineptness) that our aid will be a waste; these 'can't-be-saved nations' will be ignored and left to their fate; 2) Those who are suffering but who will stagger through without our aid, 'the walking wounded'; and 3) Those who can be saved by our help.'”
  10. The Population Bomb - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 31 May 2016. “It warned of the mass starvation of humans in the 1970s and 1980s due to overpopulation, as well as other major societal upheavals, and advocated immediate action to limit population growth. Fears of a 'population explosion' were widespread in the 1950s and 1960s, but the book and its author brought the idea to an even wider audience.[3][4] The book has been criticized since its publishing for its alarmist tone, and in recent decades for its inaccurate predictions. The Ehrlichs stand by the basic ideas in the book, stating in 2009 that 'perhaps the most serious flaw in The Bomb was that it was much too optimistic about the future' and believe that it achieved their goals because 'it alerted people to the importance of environmental issues and brought human numbers into the debate on the human future.'”
  11. U.S. Population 2015: 320 Million and World Population 7.2 Billion - US News Opinion. usnews.com (December 31, 2015). Retrieved on 1 June 2016. “A new year brings new U.S. and world population totals. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual projections, the United States will enter 2015 with 320,090,857 people while the planet Earth overall will have more than 7.2 billion living souls on it.”
  12. Delta smelt - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 1 June 2016. “The smelt is unpopular among farmers, with a common complaint being that 200,000 acres of farmland have been left fallow due to 'four buckets of minnows'.[32] Although allegations have been made that this protection has hurt California's agricultural sector, with the devastation of hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the Central Valley,[33] a 2009 UC Davis study estimated that job losses due to smelt protection were closer to 5,000.”
  13. 13.0 13.1 Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 372-373. 
  14. Great Sphinx of Giza - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 1 June 2016. “There is also a story that the nose was broken off by a cannonball fired by Napoleon's soldiers, that still lives on today. Other variants indict British troops, the Mamluks, and others. Sketches of the Sphinx by the Dane Frederic Louis Norden, made in 1738 and published in 1757, show the Sphinx missing its nose. This predates Napoleon's birth in 1769.”
  15. Alois Senefelder - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 1 June 2016. “Problems with the printing of his play Mathilde von Altenstein caused him to fall into debt, and unable to afford to publish a new play he had written, Senefelder experimented with a novel etching technique using a greasy, acid resistant ink as a resist on a smooth fine-grained stone of Solnhofen limestone. He then discovered that this could be extended to allow printing from the flat surface of the stone alone, the first planographic process in printing.”
  16. Lithography - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 1 June 2016. “The printing is from a stone (lithographic limestone) or a metal plate with a smooth surface.”

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