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    Re: Longitude by altitudes. was Re: How Many Chronometers?
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2009 May 13, 07:20 -0700

    Peter, you wrote:
    "By their own accounts, the contact was typically brief, ephemeral, and hardly 
    conducive to the transmission of diseases"
    
    Yes, sure. So for example the Norse in Newfoundland, which I mentioned as a 
    counter-example, probably did not infect any of the locals since boths groups 
    stayed as far from the other as they could (or so the saga says). But you do 
    agree that some of the fanciful stories of Norse expeditions penetrating deep 
    into North America are effectively ruled out by this, right? If the contact 
    was anything but "brief and ephemeral", the European diseases would have left 
    an earlier record and would have been common in the Americans by the time the 
    Spanish arrived.
    
    And you wrote:
    "Nothing like a long sea voyage as a useful spell of quarantine."
    
    Yes, but that only gets you so far. The diseases DID cross the oceans, and 
    they arrived with some of the earliest Spanish expeditions.
    
    In your second message, you wrote:
    "People from the now Indonesian islands to the north of what is now the 
    Australian Northern Territory visited the Australian northern coast on a 
    semi-regular basis over several hundred years before European settlement"
    
    Ah, but was it "several hundred years" or only 75? The consensus (for whatever 
    that's worth) appears to be that this trade began around 1720. That's not 
    much before the main European settlement. I understand that there are some 
    folks who want to push the contact back earlier, but if so, then why no 
    plagues among the Native Australians?? Or maybe there were, and they simply 
    didn't travel far because of the low population density...
    
    And you wrote:
    "Much later it was speculated that infectious diseases in general and Smallpox 
    in particular was introduced to indigenous Australians by these Moluccans 
    (one of the Indonesian islands).  Quite recently researchers focusing on this 
    question have showed conclusively that this contention is incorrect."
    
    Conclusively, eh? That's a pretty good trick. Myself, I would be willing to 
    entertain the model that "some" smallpox infection came from the Moluccans 
    while the devastating infections occurred in the more densely populated areas 
    of European settlement. If you choose to believe otherwise, then you would 
    have to propose that the Moluccan traders somehow avoided diseases which were 
    endemic in their own islands. How would this miracle occur??
    
    -FER
    PS: you wrote: "beche de mer (sea slugs)". Do folks in Australia still call 
    these 'sea slugs'? They're sea cucumbers by modern terminology, distantly 
    related to the starfish and sea urchins, but I understand that they used to 
    classed with the true sea slugs --which are shell-less snails (mollusks) like 
    land-bound slugs. Understand, I'm not objecting to whatever terminology is 
    considered normal down there. Do you call sea cucumbers "sea slugs"? And if 
    so, is there a different name for true sea slugs?
    
    
    
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