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A Massacre in France and Russian Military Assertiveness

In an attempt to bring the Protestant Waldensians of France into compliance with Catholic practice, the Duke of Savoy has ordered them to attend mass or sell their homes within the next 20 days. Given that it is winter time and Savoy is a mountainous region, it is obvious that the Duke wants them to "choose" to go to mass, but they "choose" to quit their homes instead. The Duke sends out troops to find them. Eventually, the troops catch up with the Waldensians and on Easter Day the French troops do more than slaughter 1,700 men, women and children. They rape the children, and impale the women on poles lengthwise like shish kebab. There is a more detailed account in the notes if you must know who-did-what-to-whom. It is ugly. In 2015, Pope Francis will enter a Waldensian church and apologize for this unspeakable atrocity. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The Peace of Westphalia that ended the 30 Years' War also placed limits on the pretext that a nation could use to invade another country. Internal conflict within a nation could no longer be used as an excuse. In the modern day, Russia sometimes ignores this convention in order to increase its influence in neighboring countries. Thus in 2008 when a province of Georgia (the nation) broke away, Georgia (along with US "advisors") used military force to quell the rebellion. Russia said that the people in the province were Russians so Russian tanks jumped the border and invaded. By challenging US influence Russia demonstrated that they were willing to use military power to protect their interests and that US allies could not depend on empty promises. This applies to the current conflict in Syria as the Russian Air Force shoulders aside the USA. Allies who are depending on the USA to intervene when other nations become aggressive must be rethinking their assumptions, and they should. The USA should not mislead other nations by taking half measures or making promises it is unwilling to keep. [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

The Rings of Saturn and a Titanic Discovery *

Christiaan Huygens (KRIS-tee-an HOY-gehns) puts his whole heart and mind into everything he does. He invents the pendulum clock in an attempt to solve the longitude problem in navigation. He designs (but does not build) a gunpowder-fueled piston engine. He is a genius and when he sets his sights on astronomy he does amazing things as well. Years ago Galileo had noticed that the planet Saturn had two ear-like bulges at its sides which he could not identify. Lenses at this time are not very good so Huygens grinds his own precision lenses. When he turns his telescope toward Saturn he not only identifies the bulges as rings but he also discovers Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Everyone is glad to know about Titan, but it will be some time before anyone believes him about the rings. After all, rings around a planet are ridiculous. Years later, Giovanni Cassini will discover additional moons, the dark spot on one of the moons and divisions between the rings. [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I believe that we do not know anything for certain, but everything probably. -- Christiaan Huygens (1673) [22]

Since Saturn is tilted 27 degrees off axis the rings will seem to disappear during its 29 year journey around the Sun. Thus astronomers have a better or worse view of the rings (or edge-on view) depending on when they turn their telescopes toward Saturn. In the modern day, several space missions have flown by Saturn. In 2004, the Cassini-Huygens space mission consisted of Cassini orbiting Saturn to get better pictures of the planet, its rings and its moons while the Huygens probe landed on Titan. The probe had a number of problems but landed successfully and continued sending data for 90 minutes after landing including closeup pictures of the surface. Titan has several large free-standing lakes of liquid methane and ethane. (The "No Smoking" sign is on.) I doubt there is much oxygen on Titan so there is no chance of an explosion. A gas such as methane won't burn unless it is mixed with a certain percentage of oxygen. However, if you do get that percentage, watch out. [23]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1655, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Waldensians - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 27 September 2015. “In January 1655, the Duke of Savoy commanded the Waldensians to attend Mass or remove to the upper valleys of their homeland, giving them twenty days in which to sell their lands.”
  2. Waldensians - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 27 September 2015. “Little children were torn from the arms of their mothers, clasped by their tiny feet, and their heads dashed against the rocks; or were held between two soldiers and their quivering limbs torn up by main force. Their mangled bodies were then thrown on the highways or fields, to be devoured by beasts. The sick and the aged were burned alive in their dwellings. Some had their hands and arms and legs lopped off, and fire applied to the severed parts to staunch the bleeding and prolong their suffering. Some were flayed alive, some were roasted alive, some disemboweled; or tied to trees in their own orchards, and their hearts cut out. Some were horribly mutilated, and of others the brains were boiled and eaten by these cannibals. Some were fastened down into the furrows of their own fields, and ploughed into the soil as men plough manure into it. Others were buried alive. Fathers were marched to death with the heads of their sons suspended round their necks. Parents were compelled to look on while their children were first outraged [raped], then massacred, before being themselves permitted to die.”
  3. Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 27 September 2015. “He became notorious for his persecution of the Vaudois (Waldensians) culminating in the massacre of 1655. The massacre was so brutal that it prompted the English poet John Milton to write the sonnet On the Late Massacre in Piedmont. Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector, called for a general fast in England and proposed to send the British Navy if the massacre was not stopped while gathering funds for helping the Waldensians.”
  4. On the Late Massacre in Piedmont - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 27 September 2015. “In 1655 Charles Emmanuel II, Duke of Savoy renewed the persecution. He gave them twenty days to sell their lands and leave the town or to attend Catholic mass. When he found out that many of the townspeople had fled, he created a false uprising to send in troops. As part of the ordinance he required the townspeople to shelter the troops in their homes. The quartering order was not required, but was a way to get the troops close to the people without raising suspicion.”
  5. CatholicHerald.co.uk » Pope Francis asks Waldensian Christians to forgive the Church. CatholicHerald.co.uk (June 22, 2015). Retrieved on 27 September 2015. “'On the part of the Catholic Church, I ask your forgiveness, I ask it for the non-Christian and even inhuman attitudes and behaviour that we have showed you,'”
  6. Pope Francis - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 4 October 2015. “Pope Francis is the 266th and current Pope of the Catholic Church, a title he holds ex officio as Bishop of Rome, and Sovereign of the Vatican City.”
  7. Georgia and Russia declare ceasefire - World news - The Guardian. The Guardian (16 August 2008). Retrieved on 4 October 2015. “Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, went to Tbilisi to bolster Georgia against the Russians as President George Bush denounced Russian 'bullying and intimidation' as 'unacceptable'.”
  8. The Russo-Georgian War and the Balance of Power. Stratfor (August 12, 2008). Retrieved on 4 October 2015. “From the Russian point of view, as Moscow made clear, the Orange Revolution was a CIA-funded intrusion into the internal affairs of Ukraine, designed to draw Ukraine into NATO and add to the encirclement of Russia. U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton had promised the Russians that NATO would not expand into the former Soviet Union empire. That promise had already been broken in 1998 by NATO's expansion to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic — and again in the 2004 expansion, which absorbed not only the rest of the former Soviet satellites in what is now Central Europe, but also the three Baltic states, which had been components of the Soviet Union.”
  9. 2008 Georgia Russia Conflict Fast Facts. CNN.com (April 12, 2015). Retrieved on 4 October 2015. “Here's some background information about the 2008 military conflict between Russia and Georgia.”
  10. The Georgia-Russia War (2008). The History Guy (September 26 2012). Retrieved on 4 October 2015. “After nearly two months of border clashes between Georgia and its breakaway region of South Ossetia, Georgia launched a major military offensive against South Ossetia which prompted Russia to intervene against Georgia.”
  11. Russia To Step Up Air Strikes In Syria. International Business Times (October 04 2015). Retrieved on 4 October 2015. “Michael Fallon accused Russia of dropping unguided munitions on civilian areas, and against Assad's Western and Gulf-backed enemies. Russia says that it is targeting Islamic State with precision bombs, and that the raids are having an impact.”
  12. Alex Shrugged notes: Frankly, there were no good actors in this conflict. The USA and NATO had broken earlier agreements not to get a foothold in former Soviet Union states such as Poland, Ukraine and Georgia.
  13. Giovanni Domenico Cassini - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 7 October 2015. “'Cassini observed and published surface markings on Mars (earlier seen by Huygens but not published), determined the rotation periods of Mars and Jupiter, and discovered four satellites of Saturn, Iapetus and Rhea in 1671 and 1672, and Tethys and Dione (1684).'[6] Cassini was the first to observe these four Saturn's moons, which he called Sidera Lodoicea (the stars of Louis), including Iapetus, whose anomalous variations in brightness he correctly ascribed as being due to the presence of dark material on one hemisphere (now called Cassini regio in his honour).”
  14. Christiaan Huygens - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 4 October 2015. “In 1655, Huygens proposed that Saturn was surrounded by a solid ring, 'a thin, flat ring, nowhere touching, and inclined to the ecliptic.' Using a 50 power refracting telescope that he designed himself, Huygens also discovered the first of Saturn's moons, Titan.”
  15. Ep. 353: Seasons on Saturn (PODCAST). Astronomy Cast (October 20, 2014). Retrieved on 7 October 2015. “Pamela: And what’s kind of cool is in the cases of looking at the moons where we do have the difference between land and lake, especially with Titan. You also see the weather change and you also see the seasonal storms billowing up as you go across these 30-year seasons. So Titan is tilted very much the same way Saturn is and so it was slowly going from northern summer through equinox and now approaching southern summer.”
  16. Christiaan Huygens Biography. Space.com (June 8, 2012). Retrieved on 7 October 2015. “Early publications by Huygens focused on mathematical problems, but in 1654 he turned his attention to the telescope. With the help of his brother, he came up with a better method of grinding and polishing the lenses, providing greater clarity. He turned one of his improved telescopes toward the planet Saturn, which had shown an elongated appearance in less accurate observations. Huygens determined that the distorted planet boasted several rings.”
  17. The Mysterious 'Lakes’ on Saturn's Moon Titan - NASA. nasa.gov (June 19, 2015). Retrieved on 7 October 2015. “Apart from Earth, Titan is the only body in the solar system known to possess surface lakes and seas, which have been observed by the Cassini spacecraft. But at Titan's frigid surface temperatures -- roughly minus 292 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 180 degrees Celsius) -- liquid methane and ethane, rather than water, dominate Titan's hydrocarbon equivalent of Earth’s water.”
  18. Saturn's seasons (Diagram). The Planetary Society (June 1, 2010). Retrieved on 7 October 2015. “This diagram shows the main events of Saturn's year, and where in the Saturnian year the Voyager 1 and Cassini missions occurred.”
  19. Rings and Seasons of Saturn (with composite photo showing transitions). International Space Fellowship (Jun 21, 2015). Retrieved on 7 October 2015. “Since Saturn’s grand rings orbit along the planet’s equator, these rings appear most prominent — from the direction of the Sun — when the Saturn’s spin axis points toward the Sun.”
  20. The planet Saturn - History, atmosphere, moons, rings, structure, exploration, seasons. TheTimeNow.com (2015). Retrieved on 7 October 2015. “Giovanni Cassini was an Italian astronomer who discovered the first of Saturn’s moons. Christian Huygens discovered Saturn’s largest moon. While Cassini saw the bulge around Saturn in his initial observations, it was Huygens who correctly identified them as rings.”
  21. The Theories and Inventions of Christiaan Huygens. invent.answers.com (2015). Retrieved on 7 October 2015. “Huygens not only was the first to build a pendulum clock, but his clocks were far more accurate than any in existence at that time. He also invented the clock with a cycloid pendulum, more commonly known as a spiral spring.”
  22. Christiaan Huygens - Wikiquote. en.wikiquote.org (1673). Retrieved on 7 October 2015. “I believe that we do not know anything for certain, but everything probably. -- Letter to Pierre Perrault, 'Sur la préface de M. Perrault de son traité de l'Origine des fontaines' (1673), Oeuvres Complètes de Christiaan Huygens (1897), Vol. 7, 298. Quoted in Jacques Roger, The Life Sciences in Eighteenth-Century French Thought, ed. Keith R. Benson and trans. Robert Ellrich (1997), 163”
  23. Cassini–Huygens - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 7 October 2015. “Development started in the 1980s. Its design includes a Saturn orbiter, and a lander for the moon Titan. The lander, called Huygens, landed on Titan in 2005. The two-part spacecraft is named after astronomers Giovanni Cassini and Christiaan Huygens.”

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