Last one out of the Kinjaverse, turn out the lights.
Last one out of the Kinjaverse, turn out the lights.
Illustration for article titled Otters Oddities

"Perch on branch over sidewalk.." check. "Wait for someone to pass by underneath..." check. "Time release for optimum splatter...." Dang!


Never ever, ever ever, ever ever ever, walk underneath a tree rat. They might drop their cheese on you. Also, don't walk under pigeons. That's tempting fate.

Because birds poop. Everywhere. With wild abandon. Sometimes, it seems like that's all they do. Chances are, you will be pooped on by a bird at least once in your lifetime. Personally, I got it over with while I was a small child so I could cry and fuss until someone else cleaned me up.


There is a story behind my being pooped on by an evil bird, but it involves a sea gull, poop and my left ear. And left shoulder. And the left side of my head. And since it's early in the morning, I'll with hold the story to spare you all the nausea. because, if you've ever seen sea gull poop, it's like, mostly liquid. And it was really gross.

Speaking of gross, it's Tell The Truth Tuesday! What's gross about that? Well, what is a gross? A gross is 24! And this is the 24th Tell The Truth Tuesday! Well, I mean, maybe it is. I haven't actually gone back and counted. And 24 would be almost half a year, and I don't remember when, exactly, I started doing the Made Up Monday thing. So it could be 24. But it probably isn't.


But who cares? It's Tell The Truth Tuesday!

Yesterday I spun you all a yarn about how France refused to adopt daylight savings time because of their cows. Well, guess what? I was actually telling the truth. The disruption to the cows schedule is the main reason why France didn't adopt daylight savings time.


Well...we call it daylight savings time now, but back then, Franklin proposed it as a way to save money on candles by utilizing the sun. Modern DST wasn't proposed until 1895 and was adopted in 1916 by Austria and Germany during WWI money by utilizing the light from the sun. (That war-thingy was expensive)

Anyway, let's move on past yesterdays fun, and start up todays fun.

Now, what was the subject today.....OH YEAH! Nitrates!

And war. A war over nitrates!

Let me start at the beginning.....

There was nothing. Then, at the moment physicists refer to as T-0, the singularity erupted with a massive expansion, the likes of which hasn't been seen since. (although a star going super-nova comes close...).


The singularity expanded into nothing, creating the space it occupied as it expanded. It had to, because there was nothing for it to expand into until it created it.

It was then that all Is anyone still awake out there?

Ok, I'll just fast forward 13.4 billion years and get the the relevant parts.

The year we end up in is 1879. The month, February. The hemisphere is the southern. The place, the port city of Antofagasta in Bolivia.


Bolivian port authorities are in the process of auctioning off the assets of Compania de Salitres y Ferrocarril de Antofagasta. (CSFA). CSFA was a Chilean company that mined the most valuable resource in the area; Nitrates.

Chile was making some serious cash mining the nitrates and selling them through CSFA, and Bolivia wanted their piece of the pie. So the Bolivian government imposed a 10 cent tax per ton of nitrates.


Chile refused, so Bolivia seized all of the inventory, and was selling it to the highest bidder. Chile said "Oh no you dit'int!', and they sent in troops to halt the sale, and occupy the town.

Peru, ever the good neighbor, tried to mediate the peace. Bolivia said 'Aw hells naw!', and declared war on Chile. Chile tried to talk Peru into remaining neutral, but Peru and Bolivia had signed a mutual defense pact, so Peru was obligated to join Bolivia.


Chile said 'Jerks....' and in April of 1879 declared war on both Bolivia and Peru.

Aaaaannnd.......5 long years of war was the result. The details are tedious. There were naval battles, and land battles. And battles in the middle of the Atacama desert. At first Bolivia and Peru were winning, but then Chile made a comeback and eventually......


You know what? I'm not going to tell you who won. If you're curious, you can look it up yourself.

Because, this oddity is about the war it's self, it's about what the war was fought over; Nitrates.


Look...I already told you this a few paragraphs guys really need to start paying attention.

Anyway, the nitrates were a valuable source of much needed resources. Everyone needed them. The two nitrates that were the most contested after were Guanine and Saltpeter.


Saltpeter because it was used to make gunpowder.

Guanine because it was used in fertilizer.

And where were the nitrates mined? Why, right out in the open where the birds left them.


That's right. The main source for nitrates was poop. Bird poop. Bird poop that had been piling up for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

The climate where the birds pooped was ideal for preserving the quality of the poop. All that had to be done was for someone to go pick it up. Chile claimed the prime poop lands, so it fell upon them to pick it up.


However, if you've ever smelled poop, you know it's not very nice. And the conditions that made for perfect poop preservation, also allowed the smell to linger. And there was a lot of poop to stink up the place.

So, Chile sent envoys to China and convinced a lot of the poor workers to ignore California and the railroads where the labor was back breaking, and to go to Chile where the work was as simple as filling a bucket. (what they didn't tell them was, there was a personal quota of anywhere from 2 to 5 tons of poop a day. Per person!)


But, the actual collection of the poop is another story.

This oddity was all about the Second Pacific War, which is what dignified people call it. Normal people call it the Great Guano War, The Poop War, or The Ten Cent War. (I call it Poop War One)


So, go forth and regale everyone you know about how, in 1879, a war over poop ravaged western South America.

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