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The Big One: The 'Frisco Quake

It is two hours before dawn in San Francisco. There is a deep rumble like a heavy truck going by except that in 1906 there are no heavy trucks. 20 seconds later the ground sways and in less than a minute the world comes apart. It is a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. There is a sudden change in ground elevation. Then everything moves over 20 feet... well.. almost everything. The water lines from the reservoir are gone. GONE! Gas lines rupture. Oil lamps tip over. The fire alarm is dead, but the fire department already knows. Over 50 fires erupt simultaneously. (There are only 40 fire stations.) All Hell is breaking loose. Two days later, the fire chief is dead and they are still fighting the fire. The hydrant at 20th and Church is working! (They paint it gold later on.) After 3 days, the fire is contained. 500 city blocks have been wiped out. To avoid panic, the government lies about the number of dead, but we are well past panic. 3,000 to 6,000 are dead. Maybe 300,000 are homeless, but frankly, a tent is preferred these days. Thank you very much. The rubble is pushed into the bay creating an artificial peninsula. The insurance payoffs will hit investment hard and a world-wide economic downturn will ensue. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
During the 1989 World Series, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit the city. Since the 1906 peninsula was never engineered, the most spectacular earthquake damage occurred there. The entire first floor of a building sank below ground due to liquefaction of the soil. This occurs when ground water pumps to the surface due to vibration caused by an earthquake, or the traffic of heavy earth-moving equipment. ("Heavy" is defined as "heavier than D6 bulldozer" which is about 18 tons.) In Irvine, California, I've seen a Caterpillar® scraper buried to its axles in the mud it created with the vibration of its passing. [8]
Question: How can I survive a large earthquake?
Answer: Don't let stuff fall on your head. All the rest is commentary. Briefly, DO NOT RUN OUTSIDE! Pieces of the building are falling off! Inside your house, stand in a doorway or crawl under a desk. Chain bookcases to the wall studs and give it room to rock a little. Otherwise, the chain will pull out of the wall. Store your supplies to survive a heavy pounding. If your phone works, call your Aunt Lucy in Santa Fe. Local lines get jammed, but out-of-state lines are usually open. If everyone knows to call Aunt Lucy, you can pass messages to the rest of your family. Don't call home. The line is dead.

Welcome to the Jungle: Muckraking Finds its Voice

The Armour meatpacking plant has turned Chicago into meat-packing central. Occupational safety is a personal choice and worker's compensation consists of the right to sue one's employer for negligence, but exactly what "negligence" means is up for grabs. Modern unions are needed, but the current unions are still finding their way. The Industrial Workers of the World known as "The Wobblies", is established this year in Chicago: "One Big Union!" (Yes. They have connections to socialism.) Upton Sinclair is also a socialist. He is a prolific writer, but he will make his name this year publishing the novel, "The Jungle". His purpose is to point out the exploitation of the workers and the terrible work conditions, but the public is disgusted by the unsanitary conditions of a meatpacking plant. Sinclair's novel leads to rumors that clumsy workers are falling into vats of lard to be rendered into breakfast spread for your toast. (Yuck!) This is total BS, but the term "muckraking" is born. The public uproar leads to the passing of the Federal Meat Inspection Act, a requirement for a list of ingredients on the label, and what looks like the beginning of a general truth-in-advertising requirement. [9] [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Meat inspection existed prior to this time, but it was easy to circumvent. What was actually happening was that the Federal government wanted to make meat inspection a real inspection. To do that they needed to change the law, but the bill had stalled in Congress. Then came Sinclair's novel. The bill's sponsors leveraged the public outrage and a report from a special investigation on the meatpacking industry to get the bill passed. Oddly enough, Congress found Sinclair's charges to be TOTALLY TRUE! (I saw it on Facebook so it MUST be true!) Look, we needed better meat inspection. No question. There was a serious problem, but this "muckraking" is like lying to get things done. If I have to lie to get things done then I'm doing something wrong. Certainly Sinclair regretted his novel. He failed to win over the public to the virtues of socialism. When I look at it that way, improved meat inspection is a winner. [12] [13] [14]

Notable Births

  • Leonid Brezhnev (Born in Ukraine, he will lead of the Soviet Union after Khrushchev.) [15]
  • Adolf Eichmann (IKE-man) (Nazi mass murderer: "I will leap into my grave laughing because the feeling that I have five million human beings on my conscience is for me a source of extraordinary satisfaction".) [16]
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer (BON-hoff-er) (Lutheran pastor executed for his part in Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.) [17]

In Other News

  • A UK scientist proves that the Earth has a molten core. This contradicts the popular belief that the Earth is hollow with an entrance at the north pole. [18] [19]
  • The Azusa (ah-ZOO-zah) Revival Meeting Kicks off the Pentecostal Movement. It is characterized by a dramatic worship service, speaking in tongues and the like. [20]
  • Mahatma Gandhi organizes his first nonviolent protest. He is in South Africa right now, and his passive resistance philosophy is in its infancy. [21]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1906, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Gold Fire Hydrant. exploresanfrancisco.biz (2016). Retrieved on 28 November 2016. “On April 18, 1906, at 5:12 in the morning, an earthquake estimated at 7.9-8.25 on the Richter scale shook San Francisco, A strong foreshock preceded the mainshock by about 20 to 25 seconds. The strong shaking of the main shock lasted about 42 seconds.”
  2. Liquefaction Hazard Maps. earthquake.usgs.gov (GOVERNMENT SITE) (2016). Retrieved on 28 November 2016. “Many regions of man-made landfill liquefied in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The Marina district, a shallow bay filled in after the 1906 earthquake, suffered some of the worst damage in the 1989 earthquake (USGS photo).”
  3. 1906 San Francisco earthquake - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  4. Bellis, Mary. Truck History. About.com. 2014 [last update]
  5. Gas lighting - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  6. 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  7. Alex Shrugged Notes: Gas lines did rupture and they were the main cause of the fire. Whether the gaslights sparked the flames is speculation on my part but it seems likely given that is was still very dark at the time. I used Stellarium to view the night sky in San Francisco at the time the earthquake hit: 1906 April 18, 5:12 AM. The Moon was below the horizon. It was nighttime dark. My comments on the peninsula come from my personal observations while watching the TV coverage of the 1989 quake.
  8. Caterpillar D6 - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 November 2016. “The Caterpillar D6 track-type tractor is a medium bulldozer manufactured by Caterpillar Inc. with a nominal operating weight of 18 tons. The military versions were classified as the SNL G152 medium tractor, under the G-numbers classification system used for army tractors.”
  9. Jungle, The. gutenberg.org (1906). Retrieved on 29 November 2016.
  10. One Big Union (concept) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 November 2016. “As envisioned by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) – which for many years prior to 1919 had been associated with the concept[1] – One Big Union was not just the idea that all workers should be organised into one big union. In the 1911 pamphlet 'One Big Union', IWW supporters Father Thomas J. Hagerty and William Trautmann enumerated two goals: One Big Union needed to 'combine the wage-workers in such a way that it can most successfully fight the battles and protect the interests of the workers of today in their struggles for fewer hours of toil, more wages and better conditions,' and it also 'must offer a final solution of the labor problem—an emancipation from strikes, injunctions, bull-pens, and scabbing of one against the other.'”
  11. 'One Big Union'. Marxists.org (2009). Retrieved on 29 November 2016. “One class owns and controls the necessaries, to-wit: the economic resources of the world. That class, for its own protection and perpetuation in power, subjects all other institutions to their prevailing class interests. Conversely, there is a class that strives to change the foundation of the industrial arrangement. The workers realize that immediately following the change these social relations will also be shifted; institutions deriving their support and sustenance from the class in power will be made to conform to new conditions after the overthrow of the previously existing industrial system.”
  12. Meat Inspection Act of 1906 - United States. Britannica.com (August 11, 2016). Retrieved on 29 November 2016. “By early 1906 both the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act had long been stalled in Congress, but, when the Neill-Reynolds report had fully confirmed Sinclair’s charges, Roosevelt used the threat of disclosing its contents to speed along the passage of both acts, which became law on the same day.”
  13. J. Ogden Armour - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 November 2016. “In 1911, Armour and nine other meatpackers were sued by the federal government for violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Armour convinced the other owners to let the case go to the jury without offering a defense; Armour and the other meatpackers were acquitted.”
  14. Guns N' Roses - Welcome To The Jungle - YouTube (2016). Retrieved on 29 November 2016.
  15. Leonid Brezhnev - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 November 2016. “As a leader, Brezhnev took care to consult his colleagues before acting, but his attempt to govern without meaningful economic reforms led to a national decline by the mid-1970s, a period referred to as the Era of Stagnation.”
  16. Adolf Eichmann - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 November 2016. “Throughout his cross-examination, prosecutor Hausner attempted to get Eichmann to admit he was personally guilty, but no such confession was forthcoming. Eichmann admitted to not liking the Jews and viewing them as adversaries, but stated that he never thought their annihilation was justified. When Hausner produced evidence that Eichmann had stated in 1945 that 'I will leap into my grave laughing because the feeling that I have five million human beings on my conscience is for me a source of extraordinary satisfaction', Eichmann said he meant 'enemies of the Reich' such as the Soviets. During later examination by the judges, he admitted he meant the Jews, and said the remark was an accurate reflection of his opinion at the time.”
  17. Dietrich Bonhoeffer - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 November 2016. “The third Bonhoeffer child, Klaus, was involved in the 20 July plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, along with Dietrich; he, too, was executed by the Nazis.”
  18. Richard Dixon Oldham - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 November 2016. “In 1906 he wrote a paper analyzing seismic arrival times of various recorded earthquakes. He concluded that the earth had a core and estimated its radius to be less than 0.4 times the radius of the Earth.”
  19. Hollow Earth - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 November 2016. “The Hollow Earth hypothesis proposes that the planet Earth either is entirely hollow or otherwise contains a substantial interior space. The scientific community has dismissed the notion since at least the late 18th century.[citation needed] The concept of a hollow Earth recurs many times in folklore and as the premise for subterranean fiction, a subgenre of adventure fiction (A Journey to the Center of the Earth, At the Earth's Core). It is also featured in some present-day pseudoscientific and conspiracy theories.”
  20. Azusa Street Revival - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 November 2016. “The Azusa Street Revival was a historic Pentecostal revival meeting that took place in Los Angeles, California and is the origin of the Pentecostal movement. It was led by William J. Seymour, an African American preacher. It began with a meeting on April 9, 1906, and continued until roughly 1915. The revival was characterized by ecstatic spiritual experiences accompanied by amazing physical healing miracles, dramatic worship services, speaking in tongues, and inter-racial mingling.”
  21. Mahatma Gandhi - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 29 November 2016. “In 1906, the Transvaal government promulgated a new Act compelling registration of the colony's Indian and Chinese populations. At a mass protest meeting held in Johannesburg on 11 September that year, Gandhi adopted his still evolving methodology of Satyagraha (devotion to the truth), or nonviolent protest, for the first time.[57] He urged Indians to defy the new law and to suffer the punishments for doing so. The community adopted this plan, and during the ensuing seven-year struggle, thousands of Indians were jailed, flogged, or shot for striking, refusing to register, for burning their registration cards or engaging in other forms of nonviolent resistance.”

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