Saturday Scenes

Thu 28 October 2010

Rocket? What Rocket?

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 19:12

On the 23rd of October 1960, Russian technicians working on an R-16 rocket prototype at Baikonur Cosmodrome accidentally allowed fuel into the combustion chamber. The fuel, commonly known as Devil’s Venom, was extremely corrosive and would damage the fuel lines. The engine needed to be used within 48 hours or drained and rebuilt. Strategic Rocket Forces Marshal Mitrofan Ivanovich Nedelin, the commander of the program, was looking forward to showing their progress to Nikita Khrushchev and didn’t wish to risk further delays. It is claimed that when he heard the proposal to drain the fuel from the engine and rebuild it, he retorted that there would be no time for such things in a nuclear war.

The following day was declared launch day. Observers waited at a wooden terrace to observe the launch. However, as the preparations took longer than expected, Nedelin became impatient and left the observation post to find out what was causing the delay.

A Programmable Current Distributor (PCD) was set up incorrectly and specific safety mechanisms had been disabled during testing. As a result of an unfortunate sequence of events, the second stage engines of the rocket were fired during launch preparations.

The flames from the engines lit the fuel in the first-stage tanks, which exploded. Those working on the rockets were incinerated. Personnel out of range of the initial explosion were unable to get past the security fence and burned to death in the fuel fire. Somewhere between 70 and 150 people died, including Field Marshal Nedelin. The disaster was covered up for nearly 30 years.

Nedelin catastrophe

Complete secrecy was immediately imposed on the events of 24 October by Nikita Khrushchev. A news release stated that Nedelin had died in a plane crash and the families of the other engineers were advised to say their loved ones had died of the same cause. Khrushchev also ordered Leonid Brezhnev to assemble a commission and head to the launch site to investigate. Among other things, the commission found that many more people were present on the launch pad than should have been — most were supposed to be safely off-site in bunkers.

According to Sergei Khrushchev, Brezhnev had insisted that the commission did not intend to punish anyone, explaining that “The guilty have already been punished”.

The R-16 rocket had its first successful flight in 1961. It wasn’t until 1965 that details of the missile accident became known. It was April 1989 before the Soviet Union acknowledged the disaster.

On the 23rd of October 2010, these photographs were taken to make sure no one could deny the events of a Saturday:

Take a moment to say hello to the submitters of these wonderful Saturday Scenes:

Would you like to see your photograph featured here?

Simply take a photo on a Saturday and tweet it to @SatScenes! Every week I retweet the Saturday Scenes and then collect them all for a special post here. We’d love to see yours.

Thu 21 October 2010

A Sucker Born Every Minute

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 15:17

On the 16th of October in 1869, two men who were digging a well in Cardiff, New York hit something hard. “I declare, some old Indian has been buried here,” said one. They kept digging and pulled out a 10-foot (3 metre) fossilized human figure. William Newell, the owner of the land, charged 25 cents to view the petrified giant. Buggies, carriages and stagecoaches brought droves of interested viewers, all happy to pay for a quick glimpse. Newell raised the price to 50 cents.

The Cardiff Giant

The figure, lying in its grave, deeply impressed all; and as a party of us came away, a very excellent doctor of divinity, pastor of one of the largest churches in Syracuse, said very impressively, “Is it not strange that any human being, after seeing this wonderfully preserved figure, can deny the evidence of his senses, and refuse to believe, what is so evidently the fact, that we have here a fossilized human being, perhaps one of the giants mentioned in Scripture?

Then Newell and his cousin George Hull, the man who had created the statue in the first place, sold Cardiff Giant to a five-man syndicate headed by David Hannum. Hannum’s group purchased the Cardiff Giant for $30,000. By now the spectacle was recieving national attention and P.T. Barnum offered Hannum $50,000 for the statue. Hannum turned him down.

The Cardiff Giant was not just one hoax but two. Once P.T. Barnum saw the size of the crowds rushing to see this miracle, he created a plaster replica which he then claimed was the real petrified man. Hannum – who believed that his giant was authentic – then sued Barnum for claiming that the giant was a fake. Barnum continued to insist that his plaster statue was the original Cardiff Giant and that Hannum’s was the fake. Crowds rushed to visit Barnum’s “authentic” Cardiff Giant. It is at that point that Hannum, in great disgust, apparently said the phrase which became misattributed to Barnum: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

As the court case heated up, Hull realised that the days of the hoax were over. Having made his money, he stepped forward and admitted the hoax. Both giants were revealed as fakes. Even then, many hoped that the swindle might yet be disproven:

The Cardiff Giant

Against this tide of truth the good people who had pinned their faith to the statue–those who had vested interests in it, and those who had rashly given solemn opinions in favor of it–struggled for a time desperately. A writer in the “Syracuse Journal” expressed a sort of regretful wonder and shame that “the public are asked to overthrow the sworn testimony of sustained witnesses corroborated by the highest scientific authorities–the only sworn witness being Farmer Newell, whose testimony was not at all conclusive, and the highest scientific authority being an eminent local dentist who, early in his life, had given popular chemical lectures, and who had now invested money in the enterprise.

Yes, damn that Farmer Newell, claiming our fossilized giant was a fake with no further evidence than he buried it there with his cousin…

Moral of the story? If you want the real thing, you should stick to Saturday Scenes.

On the 16th of October 2010, these incredible photographs were taken:

And here are our submitters, not a sucker in the bunch!

Would you like to see your photograph featured here?

Simply take a photo on a Saturday and tweet it to @SatScenes! Every week I retweet the Saturday Scenes and then collect them all for a special post here. We’d love to see yours.

Wed 13 October 2010

Aimee Semple McPherson

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 18:25

[Hi! I’m back from my writing workshop and ready to regale you with new stories! Did you miss me?]

On the 9th of October 1890, Aimee Semple McPherson was born in Ontario. She was the first famous Pentecostal evangelist, using automobiles and radio to spread the word of the Foursquare Gospel Church. She travelled around the US holding tent revivals, speaking in tongues and faith healing as a part of her sermons. She stated that Baltimore required a revival as she had seen “women were sitting in the dining room smoking with the men” and held a three week revival at the Lyric Opera House. She built a megachurch in Los Angeles which held 5,300 people and performed services three times a day to a full house.

In 1926, Aimee went for a swim and didn’t come back. She was last seen in Venice Beach with her secretary who stayed on the shore. The secretary said that Aimee went swimming in the Pacific Ocean and so she was believed to be drowned. One parishioner drowned in the ensuing search and a diver died from exposure. The beach was filled with mourners.

A month later, her mother received a ransom note requesting half a million dollars to return McPherson. Her mother threw the ransom note away, believing her daughter to be dead.

Shortly thereafter, on June 23, McPherson stumbled out of the desert in Agua Prieta, Sonora, a Mexican town across the border from Douglas, Arizona. She claimed she had been kidnapped, drugged, tortured and held for ransom in a shack by two people, Steve and Mexicali Rose. Her story also alleged that she had escaped from her captors and walked through the desert for about 13 hours to freedom.

However, her shoes showed no hint of a 13-hour walk in the desert but rather, carried grass stains. The shack was not found. McPherson had vanished wearing a bathing suit. She returned fully dressed, wearing a wristwatch (a gift from her mother) which she had not taken on the swimming trip. A grand jury convened on July 8, 1926, but adjourned 12 days later citing lack of evidence to proceed.

In 1964, Pete Seeger had a hit with a folksong which related the common view of her disappearance:

The Ballad of Aimee McPherson

Well, the Grand Jury started an investigation,
Uncovered a lot of spicy information.
Found out about a love nest down at Carmel-by-the-Sea,
Where the liquor was expensive and the loving was free.

They found a cottage with a breakfast nook,
A folding bed with a worn-out look.
The slats were busted and the springs were loose,
And the dents in the mattress fitted Aimee’s caboose.

[Insert interesting transition here] [They taught me to do that at the workshop.]

On the 9th of October 2010, these spicy photographs were taken from exciting locations all over the world:

And these are the fine upstanding photographers who have never, to my knowledge, faked their own kidnapping:

Would you like to see your photograph featured alongside these great shots?

Simply take a photo on a Saturday and tweet it to @SatScenes! Every week I retweet the Saturday Scenes and then collect them all for a special post here. We’d love to see yours.

Thu 7 October 2010

The Dimension of Imagination

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 12:27

On the 2nd of October 1959, the Twilight Zone premièred on CBS television and was an instant hit.

Rod Serling had had a few successes in television but he was frustrated by the censorship by sponsors and networks, who wouldn’t allow television to cover issues that might be deemed political. He came to the conclusion that he wanted control of his own show and used Science Fiction to write social commentary which successfully bypassed the stringent regulations, designed to avoid inflammatory material.

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The Twilight Zone.

On the 2nd of October 2010, a selection of photographs were taken on a Saturday. In that alternate dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity known as the Internet, those photographs were collected and brought together to bring you this week’s edition of SatScenes:

On this excursion into Saturday Scenes, we show an imposing array of talent from the following people:

Time passes quickly when you only count Saturdays. Shouldn’t you save a photograph of your day-to-day life for posterity?

  1. Take a photograph on a Saturday
  2. Upload the photograph
  3. Send a tweet to @SatScenes with the url and the location
  4. Bookmark for alternative dimensions to discover

I’m looking forward to seeing your photograph in the next edition!

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