My Incredibly Unremarkable Life
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Fifteen--almost halfway through December. And by this time tomorrow I'll be more than halfway to the end of the month.

December is not my favorite month. From a practical perspective, this is frequently a bad month for fog in the morning. And sometimes in the evening. And occassionally in the middle of the day.

The year that YD and I were commuting together to University of New Orleans had one of those foggy December days.

It was probably exam week, because we went in early, rather than after lunch. It was foggy then. We came home noonish and the fog was so thick you could see maybe three car lengths ahead. Naturally, I kept the speed down. When we got to the old bridge over the lake the fog was even worse. Most everybody was moving at a sensible slow pace. But then the inevitable idiot came along and decided he/she didn't want to dawdle safely, and zoomed around a bunch of cars. Did I mention this is a "no passing" bridge, with just two lanes and nowhere to pull over? About halfway across the lake there was a traffic tieup. Idiot had gone right into a car coming the other way. No wonder--he(?) had a visibility range of about two car lengths and obviously no awareness that it would take his car a while between applying the brakes and actually stopping.

But let's get back to 15.

The 15th century ended in 1500.

The World Civ. course I (used to) teach goes up to 1500.

The 15th century really ended with quite a bang. Columbus' voyages set off a totally new era. From the perspectives of the natives of what was (to him and others) the New World, it was the beginning of the end. And the discovery of all that land that would support sugar cane growth was definitely not a Good Thing for West Africa.

Cane sugar had recently made its way to Europe, and the Europeans (at least the wealthy ones) could not get enough. It was SO much more satisfactory than honey as a sweetener. Problem was, it needed a milder climate than most of Europe had. Sugar cane plantations were established in some areas along the Mediterranean and nearby island groups, such as the Canaries. At that time, large scale agricultural labor was done by serfs and/or slaves.

The first planters in the New World figured they'd just enslave the indigenous people to work the cane fields. This proved to be unsatisfactory because the people ran away, and because they knew the territory--and had lots of friends--they were seldom recaptured.

Thus began the Atlantic slave trade. And we know where that led.

On the brighter side, the fifteenth century was a period of explosive development in the European world of the "cultural" arts--painting, literature, music, etc.

The fifteenth century ended with the Muslims and Jews being driven out of Spain.

So much for the jiffy view of the 15th century. Don't expect something about the sixteenth century tomorrow--It's several years since I've taught second half World Civ.

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