Saturday Scenes

Thu 25 August 2011

Burn after Reading

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 20:41

On Saturday, the 20th of August in 1910, the largest fire in recorded U.S. history took out three million acres in the American Northwest. That summer had been hot and dry and there were thousands of fires already burning in the forests of Washington, Idaho and Montana.

The day before, the U.S. Forest Service admitted that the task of controlling the fires was overwhelming and had asked for help from the soldiers at Fort Harrison in Helena. A balloonist came up with a plan to set off dynamite at 5,000 feet, which would “act as lightning and thunder which would in turn bring on the rains.” But he only reached 1,600 feet before the smoke became too thick for him to continue.

Then a storm came in and hurricane-force winds whipped the smaller fires into a blazing inferno.

Mineral County Information and Commerce – 1910 Fire In Mineral County

On the afternoon of Saturday, August 20 the worst fears of residents of the inland Northwest were realized. A hurricane of wind and flames roared across the land, the mountains and the little tinder-dry villages forcing a mass exodus from the area. Many rode, ran and walked to Missoula which became the refugee headquarters.

On a bulletin board next to the Missoulian newspaper offices an update of the holocaust was posted …after every phone call from the ravaged zone. That information also went directly into the daily paper from which is drawn the first published reports of the inferno. The banner headline of the paper’s front page on Sunday, August 21 blared: FOREST FIRES IN MERCILESS SWEEP DESTROY TOWNS IN COEUR D’ALENES.

The fire was eventually put out four days later when a further storm with heavy rains swept over the area. These days, of course, a paper like the Missoulian could just search on hashtags to get updates from the affected areas. Isn’t technology grand?

We have a real-world example which even includes Coeur D’Alene!

A hundred and one years later, on Saturday the 20th of August 2011, an electronic bulletin board known as Twitter was used to collect updates from all over the world, complete with photographs! Take a look:

Here are our brave correspondents:

You can find out what all of these great people are up to simply by checking the Saturday Scenes list which includes all participants from 2011. Adding to lists doesn’t always work from my client, so if you *aren’t* in the list, please let me know and I’ll add you right away!

If you are new and you’d like to join in, it’s easy! Just take a photograph on Saturday and send the link to @SatScenes with the location! It’s easy and fun and we love seeing new sights.

Thu 18 August 2011

The Beginning of the World

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 18:55

The 13 August in the year 3114 BC is the start of the Mayan Long Count calendar. (Probably.)

Floyd Glenn Lounsbury, a Mayanist scholar, developed the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar correlation, which allows the Long Count dates to correlate to the Western calendar date, although it is not exact. The Long Count calendar probably starts on the 13th or possibly the 11th of August.

The Mayans had two different calendars, one for 260-day periods of time and one for longer periods of time, the Long Count. The Mayans used the Long Count for recording history so they could specify dates over periods longer than 52 years.

1 K’in is a day
20 days is 20 K’in is a Winal
360 days is 18 Winal is 1 Tun
7,200 days is 20 Tun is 1 K’atun
144,000 days is 20 K’atun which is 1 B’ak’tun

A B’ak’tun is approximately 394 solar years.

The belief that the world will end on the 21st of December in 2012 is based on a misinterpretation of this Long Count calendar. That date is simply the end of the 13th B’ak’tun at which point the next B’ak’tun will start. There are clear references in Mayan inscriptions to dates beyond the end of the 13th B’ak’tun and nothing at all to imply that the ending of this specific B’ak’tun is important. The Mayans did record prophecies but those predictions include include plans for celebrations in 4772 AD.

FAMSI – FAQ’s about 2012: The end of the World? – FAQ’s

Even if we were to find evidence of actual Maya prophecies about 2012, that doesn’t make them true. Apparently all of Christendom expected Jesus to return in the year 1000, for example. And maybe the most important question to ask was voiced to me by Bill Saturno, discoverer of the San Bartolo murals. If the Maya were such skilled prophets, how could they have missed the Conquest? “Didn’t see that one coming, did they?” The single most devastating disaster to befall the peoples of the Americas of all time, and not a word about it in the entire corpus of Mayan prophetic literature.

And on the 13th of August in 2011, these mini-celebrations of life and Saturdays were posted to Twitter for sharing!

And these are the inspired photographers who took part:

Note: The option on the Twitter website/client to embed photographs directly into your tweet (with a address) breaks SatScenes. The default setting for Twitter users is to only show images from people you are following. That means that when I retweet the photographs, my followers get a message saying they can’t view the image. Because the image is only available as an embed, there’s no way for people to see it. Only *your* followers can see the photograph, which sort of defeats the purpose of sharing your Saturday Scenes. :(

So my recommendation for SatScene photographs is to use a photo hosting site such as Twitpic, Instagram, Flickr or Fotonomy. Then everyone on Twitter can click on the link and *see* the photograph, whether they follow you or not.

Have you got a camera or a smart-phone?

You should take a photograph on Saturday. It’s easy to join us!

Simply send a tweet to @SatScenes with the url and the location and all the rest happens automatically!

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

Fri 12 August 2011

What a Tangled Web We’ve Woven

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 18:01

On the 6th of August 1991, a website went up at CERN. It wasn’t very fancy and it didn’t use Flash or animations or even blinking effects. It explained what the web was and how people could use it. It was, in fact, the very first website.

On that day, Tim Berners-Lee posted to alt.hypertext about his project.

alt.hypertext | Google Groups

The WorldWideWeb (WWW) project aims to allow links to be made to any information anywhere. The address format includes an access method (=namespace), and for most name spaces a hostname and some sort of path.

We have a prototype hypertext editor for the NeXT, and a browser for line mode terminals which runs on almost anything. These can access files either locally, NFS mounted, or via anonymous FTP. They can also go out using a simple protocol (HTTP) to a server which interprets some other data and returns equivalent hypertext files. For example, we have a server running on our mainframe ( in WWW syntax) which makes all the CERN computer center documentation available. The HTTP protocol allows for a keyword search on an index, which generates a list of matching documents as another virtual hypertext document.

If you’re interested in using the code, mail me. It’s very prototype, but available by anonymous FTP from It’s copyright CERN but free distribution and use is not normally a problem.

And here we are, only twenty years later! Isn’t it amazing?

(I missed a chance there, I should have asked @timberners_lee for a Saturday scene. That would have been awesome.)

On the 6th of August 2011, these wonderful photographs were taken and uploaded onto the web and shared via a web-based messaging system and then collected for this website to share with the world. I can’t help it, even three years in, I still think it’s really neat that we do this!

Here are the photographs:

And here are the fine folks who put them onto the web for us to see:

Tell a friend! If you see friends on twitter take a photograph on a Saturday, invite them to join us. All they have to do is send a message to @Satscenes with the URL.

Thu 4 August 2011

Playing Harp Duets with Hoffa

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 20:21

On the 30th of July, 1975, Jimmy Hoffa disappeared. Hoffa seemed born to be a labor union organiser: he was first involved in a union at his very first job at a grocery chain. Although he was only a teenager, he quickly rose to leadership and then was dismissed from the job for his union activities. He made his name through union activities from then on. By 1957, he was President of the Teamsters Union and by 1961 he organised the National Master Freight Agreement, which brought truck drivers all over North America under a single national union.

He went to prison in 1964 for jury tampering, attempted bribery and fraud. Nixon made a deal to release Hoffa early under the condition that he resign the Teamsters presidency and not take part in any union activities until 1980. Hoffa accepted the early release in December 1971 but was unhappy with the restriction on his union activity. He was in the progress of re-gaining support within the Teamsters and writing his autobiography when he disappeared.

Jimmy Hoffa – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hoffa disappeared at, or sometime after, 2:45 pm on July 30, 1975, from the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox Restaurant in Bloomfield Township, a suburb of Detroit. According to what he had told others, he believed he was to meet there with two Mafia leaders: Anthony Giacalone from Detroit, and Anthony Provenzano from Union City, New Jersey and New York City.

Upon Hoffa’s failure to return home from the restaurant by late that evening, his wife called police to report him missing. When police arrived at the restaurant, they found Hoffa’s car, but no sign of Hoffa himself, nor any indication of what had happened to him. Extensive investigations into the disappearance began immediately, and continued over the next several years by several law enforcement groups, including the FBI. However, the investigations failed to conclusively determine Hoffa’s fate. For their part, Giacolone and Provenzano were each found not to have been in the vicinity of the restaurant that afternoon, and each of them denied that they had scheduled any meeting with Hoffa.

Hoffa was declared legally dead in 1982, on the seventh anniversary of his disappearance.

To this day, we don’t know what happened to Hoffa. But his disappearance has given rise to the poetic phrase “playing harp duets with Hoffa” which means someone has gone to a better place.

If you are wondering what places might be better, well, just take a look at SatScenes! We have some amazing landscapes for you this week.

On the 30th of July 2011, these are the photographs that were taken by interesting people in interesting places all over the world:

These are the fine folk who submitted the photographs:

Why don’t you join us? It’s easy:

  1. Take a photograph on a Saturday
  2. Upload the photograph
  3. Send a tweet to @SatScenes with the url

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

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