Little Bits of History

August 11

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 11, 2017

3114 BC: The Mesoamerican Long Count calendar begins. It was a non-repeating base-20 and base-18 calendar used by many pre-Columbian cultures, most notable the Maya and is sometimes called the Mayan calendar. By working backwards and using our current Gregorian calendar, the beginning date has been calculated. The Long Count calendar was used on monuments in the region. Dates on these can be calculated by combining the 260-day Tzolk’in and the 365-day Haab’ calendars. This gives a total of 18,980 unique dates before repeating.

By using many of our current calculating methods, we can ascertain that the first day of the Long Count calendar was this day. Unless it was September 6 by using the Julian calendar or -3113 in astronomical year numbering. This date uses the GMT correlation which is a mathematical method for aligning ancient dates with our current method of marking time. By ancient tradition of 13 b’ak’tuns of time passing since the Creation, it was calculated the event took place on this day, according to the Maya. This is when Raised-up-Sky-Lord caused three stones to be set by three other gods at Lying-Down-Sky, First-Three-Stone-Place. At that point, the sky was still black, but the cosmos now had pillars on which to raise the sky.

Because the calendar is not pure base-20, there are convoluted methods used in numbering which causes the second digit from the right (and only that digit) to roll over when it reaches 18. It should be noted the Long Count calendar was no longer in used when Europeans first came to the New World, but k’atuns and tuns were still in use for marking time. B’ak’tun was created by modern scholars to help with the epochs. The syntax for using the Long Calendar was complex and Maya monuments where inscribed with complicated systems. The date would be given before other inscriptions were added to the stela.

There are several of these inscriptions remaining today and they have been carefully studied to ascertain their messages. The earliest one is at Takalik Abaj in present day Guatemala and dates from 236 – 19 BC. There are several more stela located at six sites with half of them on the western edge of the Mayan kingdom and the other three are found several hundred miles to the west. This has led to speculation that the Mayan calendar actually predates the Mayans. The Tuxtla Statuette found near La Mojarra in present day Veracruz, Mexico has the most recent date calculated to March 12, 162 AD. In 2012, according to some misunderstanding of the calendar, the world was supposed to come to an end. It didn’t.

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. – Andy Warhol

Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years. – Ausonius

Better three hours too soon than a minute too late. – William Shakespeare

Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind. – Nathaniel Hawthorne



Asking For It

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 11, 2015
Marilyn vos Savant

Marilyn vos Savant

August 11, 1946: Marilyn Mach is born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father was German and her mother Italian. She is a descendent of the philosopher Ernst Mach. Her father owned a general store and as a teenager, she was found working there. She also wrote for the local newspapers using pseudonyms. She married the first time at age 16 and divorced after ten years. She remarried and divorced again at age 35. She married a third time in 1987 and remains married to Robert Jarvik, one of the developers of the Jarvik-7 artificial heart.

She went to a local community college and then studied philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis. She did not finish her degree, instead quitting to help with a family investment business. She moved to New York City in the 1980s to take up writing and wrote the Omni I.Q. Quiz Contest for Omni magazine. She seemed eminently qualified to write IQ quizzes and contests because, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, she was the smartest person on earth. She uses her mother’s maiden name and she is known in the publishing world as Marilyn vos Savant. She was listed as possessing the “Highest IQ” from 1986 to 1989. The category was discontinued in 1990.

She was noted for taking two different IQ tests. The first was the Stanford-Binet and the second was the Mega Test. She took the Second Revision edition of the Stanford-Binet when she was ten years old in September 1956. The score measured her mental age as 22 years and 10 months which yielded a score of 228. However, there is some contention over these numbers as numbers over 170 are not part of the test scoring and the number was arrived at by extrapolation using an antiquated formula. Her score using the Mega Test was 186 and again, the machinations used to arrive at the number have been criticized. She does hold membership in Mensa International and the Mega Society, the most elite of the high IQ societies open to only one in a million. Mensa is open to one in 50.

After Savant’s inclusion in the Guinness Book or World Records, she was interviewed and an article appeared in Parade magazine along with her answers to several questions posed to her. After the article ran, more readers sent questions in and so “Ask Marilyn” was created. She continues to write her column and answer questions centered around the use of logic or mathematics and vocabulary. She also runs a daily online column in addition to the print version. She has had some memorable errors in her column which have been critiqued and reassessed by several readers. Her controversial columns have been so rare, they are able to be listed.

The length of your education is less important than its breadth, and the length of your life is less important than its depth.

If your head tells you one thing and your heart tells you another, before you do anything, you should first decide whether you have a better head or a better heart.

What is the essence of America? The essence of America is finding and maintaining that perfect, delicate balance between freedom “to” and freedom “from.”

To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe. – all from Marilyn vos Savant

Also on this day: The Rock – In 1934, Alcatraz opened as a federal prison.
Shop Til You Drop – In 1992, the Mall of America opened.
Watts Riots – In 1965, the Watts Riots began.
Swat – In 1929, Babe Ruth hit a new baseball record.
Sheremetyevo International Airport – In 1959, Moscow’s airport opened.

Sheremetyevo International Airport

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 11, 2014
Sheremetyevo International Airport

Sheremetyevo International Airport

August 11, 1959: Sheremetyevo International Airport opens. It is located in Khimki, Moscow Oblast, Russia which is 18 miles from central Moscow. It is the second largest airport in Russia with only Domodedovo being larger. It is a hub for Aeroflot, Nordavia, and Norwind Airlines. In 2013 there were 29,256,000 people serviced through the airport and they flew on one of the 243,858 flights either landing or taking off from Sheremetyevo. There are three North terminals (A, B, and C) and three South terminals (D, E, and F). Terminal C has the capacity to serve 5 million passengers per year, Terminal F can service 6 million, and Terminal D can service 12 million. The other terminals are used either for cargo, smaller planes, or more local flights.

While the airport opened on this day, it did not see its first international flight until June 1, 1960 when a flight to Berlin took off and landed in Schonefeld Airport. The Sheremetyevo name comes from two nearby landmarks, the village of Sheremetyevsky and the Savelov railway station. Sheremetyevo-1 which is used by domestic flights opened on September 3, 1967. The first scheduled Tupolev Tu-134 flight took off from Sheremetyevo on September 12, 1967, headed for Stockholm. It is the most used airplane in the former Warsaw Pact countries although numbers are dropping because of noise restrictions.

Sheremetyevo-2, the larger of the two terminal complexes, opened on January 1, 1980 just in time for the 1980 Summer Olympics. It served as the arrival and departure point for international flights for the games. Flights to and from other Russian cities used Sheremetyevo-1. There is no physical connection between the two terminals. Rather, they are like two separate airports which use the same runways. There are other examples of this type of set up outside Russia: Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota and Sydney Airport in Australia are also set up like this.

Early in this century, Sheremetyevo saw a drop in usage when Domodedovo International Airport opened. The newer more comfortable airport became the hub for many of the airlines which had used Sheremetyevo.  Domodedovo also serves Moscow and had 30,760,000 passengers on 253.500 flights in 2013. Sheremetyevo continues to upgrade and has a 20-year master plan which includes another Terminal and building another runway. Overall improvements are scheduled to include long term land development and over $3 billion has been allocated for future projects.

Just got back from a pleasure trip: I took my mother-in-law to the airport. – Henny Youngman

Sometimes, when you go to airport and look at the people, you see the worst looks – but the worst looks can give you more ideas than the best looks. – Carine Roitfeld

The devil himself had probably redesigned Hell in the light of information he had gained from observing airport layouts. – Anthony Price

I hate flying, airports and the whole rigmarole – queuing up, security and lost luggage. – Johnny Vegas

Also on this day: The Rock – In 1934, Alcatraz opens as a federal prison.
Shop Til You Drop – In 1992, the Mall of America opened.
Watts Riots – In 1965, the Watts Riots began.
Swat – In 1929, Babe Ruth hit a new baseball record.

Shop Til You Drop

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 11, 2013
Mall of America

Mall of America

August 11, 1992: The Mall of America located in Bloomington, Minnesota opens for business. It cost $650 million to build and has a $1.8 billion impact per year on the economy of the state. It was built and is managed by Triple Five Group owned by the Ghermezian brothers of Canada. The mall is the largest one in America in terms of total enclosed floor space (second to the King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania in terms of retail space). The mall has a gross area of 4.2 million square feet with 522 stores. There are four levels and four anchor stores: Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Sears. There is an addition planned for the north side that would boost the number of stores to about 900.

The mall includes an area called Nickelodeon Universe. Originally called Knott’s Camp Snoopy, Camp Snoopy, and then the Park of MOA, the last name change came in March 2008. It covers seven acres of space in the center of the mall. There are nearly 30 rides in the amusement park, including five roller coasters and one water ride. Since the rebranding, the price has increased by 25% for daily admission and 250% for season passes.

The 2.5 million leasable square feet contains 20 eat-in restaurants, 30 fast food restaurants, and 36 specialty food stores. There are 14 movie screens in the mall. Walking distance around one floor is 0.57 miles while total store front footage is 4.3 miles. The MOA includes Underwater Adventure Aquarium, LEGO Imagination Center, Moose Mountain Adventure Golf, A.C.E.S. Flight simulation, and NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedway among other great entertainment possibilities.

There are two 7-story parking garages providing 12,550 parking spots. There are nearby off-site parking lots that boost the total to 20,000 spaces. There are 11,000 year round employees with an extra 2,000 added in the summer and during the holiday shopping season. The mall is so large it could hold 258 Statues of Liberty or 32 Boeing 747 airplanes. If a shopper spent just 10 minutes in each store, it would take more than 86 hours to visit them all.

“A salesman minus enthusiasm is just a clerk.” – Harry F. Banks

“I think that American salesmanship can be a weapon more powerful than the atomic bomb.” – Henry J. Kaiser

“When a man is trying to sell you something, don’t imagine he is that polite all the time.” – Edgar Watson Howe

“The average American salesman keeps 33 men and women at work – 33 people producing the product he sells – and is responsible for the livelihood of 130 people.” – Robert A. Whitney

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Bloomingdale’s closed in March of 2012 and the space was turned into multiple stores. Forever 21, another anchor store, opened in 2012. Macy’s is currently the largest store in the MOA with 280,000 square feet. There are fifteen Junior Anchor stores included in the mall. Sports Authority closed in 2008 and was replaced by Best Buy at that time. There is also the Radisson Blu Hotel with 500 upscale rooms available. It opened just this year. The mall’s slogan changes almost yearly and the new tag line for 2013 is “Always New” while the one for 2012 celebrated the mall’s age of 20 years. Security at the MOA is maintained by private personnel and they were featured in the 2010 TLC series Mall Cops: Mall of America.

Also on this day: The Rock – In 1934, Alcatraz opens as a federal prison.
Watts Riots – In 1965, the Watts Riots began.
Swat – In 1929, Babe Ruth hit a new baseball record.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 11, 2012

Babe Ruth

August 11, 1929: Babe Ruth starts a new club. George Herman Ruth was familiarly known as Babe Ruth, the Bambino, and the Sultan of Swat. He was born February 6, 1895 in a rough section of Baltimore, Maryland. Although there were eight children in the family, only he and one sister (Marnie) survived past infancy. At the age of seven, Ruth was signed over to St. Mary’s Industrial School for Boys, a reformatory and orphanage. He spent the next twelve years there, although he was able to visit his family on rare occasions. While there, he was introduced to baseball – and tailoring; he became a qualified shirt maker.

In 1913, while playing ball for St. Mary’s, Ruth was noticed by Joe Engel who was an alumni and now a pitcher for the Washington Senators. Jack Dunn, manager of the minor-league Baltimore Orioles, came to watch Ruth pitch. Dunn signed Ruth to a $250 per month contract ($5,500 per month in today’s dollars), beginning in February 1914. Ruth was only 19 and so Dunn became his legal guardian (the age of majority was 25 at the time). The new kid was nicknamed “Jack’s newest babe” and the name stuck.

In July 1914, Dunn attempted to sign Ruth and two other players with the Philadelphia Athletics. His asking price was too high. The Cincinnati Reds also passed on Ruth, but the Boston Red Sox signed him for a disputed amount. Ruth played for the Red Sox until 1919. It was during that time, his emergence as a strong hitter began. He was sold to the New York Yankees in 1919 and played for them from 1920 to 1934.

So what club did the Sultan of Swat start? The 500 Home Run Club. He was the first player to achieve this goal. The next person to join the club was Jimmie Foxx on September 24, 1940. Foxx played for the Boston Red Sox. Gary Sheffield joined on April 17, 2009, the latest to join. Babe Ruth’s career record was 714 home runs which stood until Hank Aaron surpassed it in 1974. Today, Barry Bonds, with 762, is the home run leader.

As soon as I got out there I felt a strange relationship with the pitcher’s mound. It was as if I’d been born out there. Pitching just felt like the most natural thing in the world. Striking out batters was easy.

Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.

The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.

You just can’t beat the person who never gives up. – all from Babe Ruth

Also on this day:

The Rock – In 1934, Alcatraz opens as a federal prison.
Shop Til You Drop – In 1992, the Mall of America opened.
Watts Riots – In 1965, the Watts Riots began.

Watts Riots

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 11, 2011

Burning buildings during the Watts Riots

August 11, 1965: The Watts Riots begin. Watts is an area of Los Angeles, California. Lee Minikus, a California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer, stopped an erratic driver. Marquette Frye, an African-American, had been driving poorly and failed to pass the field sobriety test. He could neither walk a straight line or touch his nose. Ronald Frye wanted to drive his brother’s car home, but the patrolman would not allow it. Instead he wanted the car impounded. Marquette’s brother, mother and eventually many friends got into an altercation and all three Fryes were arrested.

While this may have been the trigger, racial tensions had been building in Los Angeles for much longer. From this small beginning, riots broke out which lasted six days. There was looting and vandalism in Watts and then violence escalated. Los Angeles Fire Fighters could not safely perform their duties. White motorists were beaten. As the riots continued more than 1,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Most of these buildings had white owners. There was an estimated $40 million in damaged property.

As the violence escalated and spread, 34 people were killed. During the melee, 1,032 people were injured badly enough to be counted. There were also 3,438 arrests made. Things were not made better when LAPD Police Chief William Parker labeled the rioters “monkeys in the zoo.” These riots were to remain the worst in the city until 1992.

In 1992, Los Angeles once again was rocked by rioting when the streets were again flooded for six days. Rodney King, an African-American, was arrested and the arrest was caught on videotape. The white arresting officers were seen beating King. Four white police officers were acquitted of charges of assault and excessive force. This time, Los Angeles suffered nearly $1 billion in damages. Also, 53 people were killed and thousands more were injured.

“A riot is at bottom the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I can see in your eyes, I can see in your faces, I can see you cry. But what I want to say, there’s no reason to cry. Do not, in the name of peace, go in the streets and riot.” – George Weah

“We hoped against hope that what we had been doing was enough to prevent a riot. It was not enough.” – Jerome Cavanagh

“Who ever hears of fat men heading a riot, or herding together in turbulent mobs? No – no, your lean, hungry men who are continually worrying society, and setting the whole community by the ears.” – Washington Irving

Also on this day:
The Rock – In 1934, Alcatraz opens as a federal prison.
Shop Til You Drop – In 1992, the Mall of America opened.

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The Rock

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 11, 2010

Aerial view of Alcatraz

August 11, 1934: Alcatraz opens for business as a federal prison. In 1775, Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala entered San Francisco Bay and named the three islands found there. “Alcatraces” which may refer to “pelican,” “albatross,” or “strange bird” and was eventually Anglicized to Alcatraz.

By 1850, the land was set aside by presidential decree to be used by the US military. It was one of the most heavily fortified military sites in the West and began housing prisoners by the end of the decade. A new military prison was build in 1909 by the prisoners themselves. Ownership was granted to the Federal Prison system in 1933.

Perhaps the most famous prisoner during the 29 years that Alcatraz was a Federal prison was the Birdman of Alcatraz. Robert Stroud raised birds in Leavenworth prison, but never while on The Rock. He wrote two books while incarcerated and pled a case for cruel and unusual punishment due to his lengthy prison term for murdering a guard. Al Capone was also a famous guest of the prison.

There were 14 separate escape attempts involving 36 men. None of them were successful. Five men were never seen again and were listed as “missing and presumed drowned.” The prison closed on March 21, 1963 and became a national park in 1972. It opened, as a park, in 1973 and receives more than a million visitors per year.

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

“Wherever any one is against his will, that is to him a prison.” – Epictetus

“Little islands are all large prisons: one cannot look at the sea without wishing for the wings of a swallow.” Richard Burton

“Alcatraz, the federal prison with a name like the blare of a trombone, is a black molar in the jawbone of the nation’s prison system.” – Thomas E. Gaddis, author of Birdman of Alcatraz

Also on this day, in 1992 the Mall of America opens for business.

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