Little Bits of History

September 23

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 23, 2017

2008: Finland suffers the second school shooting in less than a year. Matti Juhanni Saari was a 22 year old studying at the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences. The university is spread out over six municipalities of Southern Ostrobothnia and has a total student population of around 4,800 and a staff of 380. The shootings took place at the Kauhajoki School of Hospitality where Saari was enrolled. The University and the Seinäjoki Vocational Education Centre – Sedu shared the campus and facilities.

Saari was born in 1986 and was a second year student working in hospitality management. He had joined the Finnish Army in 2006 and was thrown out after only a month after firing his weapon during a woodland exercise, against orders. He was said to have been bullied in high school and had dropped out for that reason and a friend reported that Saari had been seeing a psychologist in the months leading up to the shooting as he was obsessed with guns and violence.

He entered the building via the basement at 10.40 AM local time. There were about 200 students in the building at that time. He was armed with a Walther P22 Target semi-automatic pistol and had homemade Molotov cocktails with him. He was dressed in dark clothing and wearing a ski mask. He was said to be very prepared and calm as he carried out these atrocities. He entered a room where students were taking an exam. According to a student who escaped, there were about 20 students in the room. Saari approached each victim individually and then shot them. There was little resistance and Saari was said to have been enjoying the proceedings.

After he shot as many people as he wanted, he doused the room in what is believed to be gasoline and lit it on fire. Before 11 AM, Saari ran down a hall and threw a Molotov cocktail into another classroom. He then shot out the windows in the main hallway. As police arrived, he shot at them. Many of the students escaped through broken windows and were injured in their attempts to flee. Saari started several more fires throughout the building. In all, 11 people were killed and another 11 were injured. Eight of the victims were female students and there was one male student, said to be a friend of Saari’s, as well. All students were in their 20s. One teacher, a male in his 50s, was also killed. Another woman was shot in the head, but survived. Most of the other injuries were minor. Students were hampered in their escape due to a river running close to the building, but there were some boats available which helped students get away from the fires. At 11.53, Saari called out and reported he had killed ten people and then shot himself. He was found still alive and taken to the hospital where he died later that evening.

Saari left notes saying he had a hatred for mankind, for the whole of the human race, and that he had been thinking about what he was going to do for years. The notes show he was very troubled and he hated everything. – police spokesperson referring to note left behind

Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy. – Aristotle

Speak when you are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret. – Laurence J. Peter

When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear. – Mark Twain



House of Cards

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 23, 2015
Nintendo's former headquarter plaque*

Nintendo’s former headquarter plaque*

September 23, 1889: Nintendo is founded. The company was founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi in order to sell Hanafuda cards. The Japanese government had banned all foreign playing cards and games in 1633 in order to stop gambling. They issued new bans each time a new card game came on the market and continued to do so for 250 years. Then, Hanafuda was invented and used illustrations rather than numbers. But after so many bans, the country was not eager to start again with a new game. Yamauchi began making cards with hand crafted artwork rather than general illustrations. His shop in Kyoto helped to boost the popularity of the game and was so successful, he was able to open a second shop in Osaka. Even now, Nintendo continues to manufacture playing cards in Japan and even sponsors their own contract bridge tournament, the Nintendo Cup.

In 1956, Hiroshi Yamauchi, Fusajiro’s grandson, visited the US and noticed the business was inherently limited. While aboard, he acquired a license to use Disney characters on his cards in the hope of boosting sale. By 1963 with the name changed from Nintendo Playing Card Co. Ltd. to Nintendo Co., Ltd. they began to experiment in other ventures. They opened a taxi service which was successful but sold it off after labor disputes. They opened a love hotel chain (exactly what it sounds like), a TV network, a food company, and many more. Nothing was successful.

In 1966, they moved into the toy industry with Ultra Hand, an extendable gripping device. They tried other toys but could not gain market share. In 1973, focus shifted to family entertainment with the Laser Clay Shooting System which had some modest success. Due to higher costs, they too had to be shut down. They entered a new market in 1974, video games. They got rights to distribute Magnavox Odyssey game consoles and began to produce their own hardware in 1977. Shigeru Miyamoto was hired and he designed a new box for the game and went on to design some of Nintendo’s most famous games. The company also moved into the video arcade game industry.

The Nintendo gaming system branched out into mobile games with Gameboy in 1989. Games became mobile and traveled with players and nearly 120 million were sold. Wii game systems began using a different type of interactive system in 2006 and have sold over 100 million units. Still headquartered in Kyoto, today, they have Genyo Takeda as IRD General Manager and Miyamoto as EAD General Manager. They employ over 5000 people at their only store and had a revenue of ¥571.726 billion in 2014. The company is Japan’s third most valuable listed company with a market value over $85 billion.

Video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock-n-roll.

I try not so much to create new characters and worlds but to create new game-play experiences.

Anything that is impractical can be play. It’s doing something other than what is necessary to continue living as an animal.

I don’t think as a creator that I could create an experience that truly feels interactive if you don’t have something to hold in your hand, if you don’t have something like force feedback that you can feel from the controller. – all from Shigeru Miyamoto

Also on this day: I Shot the Sheriff – In 1980, Bob Marley played his last concert.
No Crash – In 1999, Qantas suffered its worst incident of the century.
40-40 Club – In 1988, Jose Canseco began the 40-40 Club.
Lost at Sea – In 1641, the Merchant Royal, a British merchant ship, sunk.
Firefox Comes Online – In 2002, Firefox went live.

* “Nintendo former headquarter plate Kyoto”. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons –

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Firefox Comes Online

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 23, 2014
Mozilla Firefox

Mozilla Firefox

September 23, 2002: The initial release of Mozilla Firefox takes place. The project was an experimental branch of the Mozilla project created by Dave Hyatt, Joe Hewitt, and Blake Ross. It was their opinion that the “feature creep” of Netscape was compromising the browser. In order to combat this, they designed Firefox as a stand-alone browser. On April 3, 2002 an announcement from the Mozilla Organization told of their change of focus from the Mozilla Suite to Firefox and Thunderbird, an email, news, and chat service. The project has undergone several name changes. Originally it was called Phoenix, then Firebird which was too close to the database software project. They added Mozilla to the front end on February 9, 2004 and the name became Mozilla Firefox or the single name, Firefox.

Firefox is a free and open-source browser. It was developed for use with Windows, Apple products, and Linux as well as a mobile version for Android. As all things technological, there have been several versions available during the last twelve years. The last stable release was on July 22, 2014 when version 31.0 was released. The last Beta release was on August 19, 2014 when 32.0 Beta began preview. The program uses a Gecko and SpiderMonkey engine and is written in a variety of computer languages. It is available in 79 languages. The size of the source code (uncompressed) is 510 MB. The size for use on Windows is 22 MB, OS X is 44 MB, Linux is 27-28 MB, while Android’s version is only 22 MB.

The first web browser was invented in 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee and was called WorldWideWeb but later named Nexus. The first graphical user interface available commonly was Erwise. Mosaic came on the scene in 1993 and made the web more accessible to the regular user. With this and the graphical options now available, the web became far more user friendly. Netscape, designed by the same person but now in his own company, came online in 1994. Microsoft responded with Internet Explorer in 1995 and the first browser war began with IE bundled with the Windows OS. IE usage peaked in 2002 when it held 95% of market share. Opera came out in 1996 and while clean and easy to use, it has never had much market acceptance. Safari by Apple released in 2003 and Chrome has came late to the party in 2008. Even so, it holds 45% of market share today.

While Firefox began life to stamp out feature creep, it is imperative that we can use our browsers effectively or we will just switch to a new, free browser. Firefox has the following features available in their latest version: tabbed browsing, spelling checking, incremental find, live bookmarking, Smart Bookmarks, a download manager, private browsing, and location-aware browsing based on a Google service. Extensions from third-party developers are also an option.

The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow. – Bill Gates

The internet could be a very positive step towards education, organization and participation in a meaningful society. – Noam Chomsky

The Internet is so big, so powerful and pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life. – Andrew Brown

The Internet is the most important single development in the history of human communication since the invention of call waiting. – Dave Barry

Also on this day: I Shot the Sheriff – In 1980, Bob Marley played his last concert.
No Crash – In 1999, Qantas suffered its worst incident of the century.
40-40 Club – In 1988, Jose Canseco began the 40-40 Club.
Lost at Sea – In 1641, the Merchant Royal, a British merchant ship, sunk.

No Crash

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 23, 2013


September 23, 1999: The twentieth century’s most serious jet plane accident occurs – for Qantas. QF1 or QFA1 is the Kangaroo Route making two hops for the trip from Sydney to London. An intermediate stop for refueling takes place in Bangkok, Singapore, or Hong Kong. This trip called for a stop in Bangkok. The flight left Sydney at 1645 local time. Eight hours later, the plane approached Bangkok at 2245 (10:45 PM), local time. Weather conditions worsened rapidly as the area was blanketed by a rain storm, rather routine for the region. Visibility went from 5 miles to a half mile in less than thirty minutes.

A storm cloud hung over the airport. Thai Airways Airbus A330 landed normally just seven minutes earlier. Qantas QF15 chose a “go around” due to poor visibility, a fact unknown to her sister ship. Rain fell heavily and QF1 was both slightly too fast and too high for a perfect landing, although both were within the limits for a safe landing. The captain hesitated as his wheels hovered over the tarmac and opted to land rather than do a touch and go. The indecision caused a delay in the application of the thrust levers. One engine did not respond appropriately and the automatic braking was delayed. The jet first hydroplaned and then went into a skid. The plane ran out of runway before coming to a halt. An orderly evacuation took place within twenty minutes and 38 passengers reported minor injuries.

The investigation found the Boeing 747 had sustained “substantial” damage. The nose landing gear and one main landing gear were separated from the plane during the overrun. The plane was repaired and put back into service. The pilot had 15,881 hours of flying experience at the time of the accident, 724 of those hours with this type of plane. The co-pilot had flown 8,973 hours total with 5,187 of them in this type of plane. Australian report # 199904538 was completed on April 26, 2001 and listed Weather/Environment as the cause of the accident.

Qantas was founded in 1920 and is the national airline of Australia. Originally dubbed “The Flying Kangaroo” it is the second oldest continually operating airline in the world. Their “no fatalities” record refers to the jet era only. The first fatal accident occurred on March 24, 1927 when three were killed as an engine stalled during a landing. Ten more crashes claimed 76 more victims of the 128 passengers and crew. Qantas entered the jet age in 1959, eight years after the last fatal crash.

“The natural function of the wing is to soar upwards and carry that which is heavy up to the place where dwells the race of gods. More than any other thing that pertains to the body it partakes of the nature of the divine.” – Plato

“Man must rise above the Earth – to the top of the atmosphere and beyond – for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.” – Socrates

“There is no sport equal to that which aviators enjoy while being carried through the air on great white wings.” – Wilbur Wright

“You haven’t seen a tree until you’ve seen its shadow from the sky.” – Amelia Earhart

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Qantas remains operational to this day. They are headquartered in Qantas Centre in Mascot, a suburb of the City of Botany Bay, in Sydney, New South Wales. Their main hub is at the Sydney Airport with two others located at Melbourne Airport and Brisbane Airport. They have three secondary hubs located in Adelaide, Dubai, and Perth. Today, their fleet has 147 planes servicing 41 destinations – 20 domestic and 21 international. Leigh Clifford is the Chairman of the Board and Alan Joyce is CEO. In 2008, an Airbus A330-300 was traveling from Singapore to Perth and suffered a rapid loss of altitude. The pilot recovered control of the plane and landed safely, although not in Perth. Fourteen people were transported by air ambulance to Perth and another 30 needed hospital treatment. An additional 30 people were injured, but did not require hospital treatment.

Also on this day: I Shot the Sheriff – In 1980, Bob Marley played his last concert.
40-40 Club – In 1988, Jose Canseco began the 40-40 Club.
Lost at Sea – In 1641, the Merchant Royal, a British merchant ship, sunk.

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Lost at Sea

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 23, 2012

Royal Merchant off the coast of Cornwall

September 23, 1641: An English merchant ship is lost. The ship was called the Merchant Royal and also known as the Royal Merchant. Her crew had been trading with the Spanish colonies in the West Indies from 1637-1640. During these years Spain and England were at peace. Her last port of call before returning home was at Cadiz, Spain. She stopped there and was to then return to London with her cargo. She was in the company of her sister ship, the Dover Merchant. It was said at the time that the Merchant Royal was leaking prior to her last voyage, a not uncommon event.

While in Cadiz, a Spanish ship caught fire and the captain of the Royal offered to transport goods from the burned vessel. It was agreed and he took aboard the pay for Spain’s 30,000 soldiers stationed at Flanders. The captain was to drop the funds off at Antwerp. Aboard the leaky ship were at least 100,000 pounds of gold (said to be worth USD $1 billion today), along with 400 bars of Mexican silver (said to be worth another $1 million today), and another 500,000 pieces of eight (Spanish dollars of the time) and more coinage.

The two British ships left Cadiz with the Royal heavily laden with this precious cargo. The ship was leaking but manageable. Captain Limbrey was able to sail effectively until rough weather kicked up. To add to their misery, the pumps aboard ship quit working. Then, off Land’s End, Cornwall, the ship sank. It was one of the most valuable wrecks of all time. The captain and forty of his crew got away and were picked up by the Dover. Eighteen more men were lost at sea. It is unlikely that any of the heavy treasure made its way to the other ship.

There have been many attempts to locate the wreck and recover the valuable cargo. Odyssey Marine Exploration is an American company involved in deep water shipwreck recovery. One of their projects, Black Swan Project, found a wreck in May 2007. They recovered 17 tons, mainly silver with some gold coins, but it was not (as speculated) from this sunken ship. Rather, the coins are believed to  be from the frigate Nuesta Señora de las Mercedes which blew up and sank on October 5, 1804. The coins are said to be worth $500 million USD. After a several years long battle, US courts have demanded that Odyssey return the coins to Spain, even though it flies in the face of legal precedent.

Clearly, the political influences in this case overshadowed the law. – Melinda MacConnel, discussing the legal findings in the above case

Gold is a treasure, and he who possesses it does all he wishes to in this world, and succeeds in helping souls into paradise. – Christopher Columbus

I must go deeper and even stronger into my treasure mine and stint nothing of time, toil, or torture. – Zane Grey

It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. – Joseph Campbell

Also on this day:

I Shot the Sheriff – In 1980, Bob Marley played his last concert.
No Crash – In 1999, Qantas suffered its worst incident of the century.
40-40 Club – In 1988, Jose Canseco began the 40-40 Club.

40-40 Club

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 23, 2011

José Canseco (photo by Glenn Francis)

September 23, 1988: José Canseco becomes the first member of the 40-40 club. Because statistics are fun, baseball is chock full of them. The club is for major league players who accumulate both 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a single season. More common than the 40-40 club is the 30-30 club. It is the same idea there, but just with lower numbers. There are currently only four members of this prestigious club; Canseco has been joined by Barry Bonds (1996), Alex Rodriguez (1998), and Alfonso Soriano (2006). There are far more members in the 30-30 club with Ken Williams starting the list in 1922.

Included in the 30-30 list but not quite making it to the higher list are some notable heartbreakers. Larry Walker, Hank Aaron, Jeff Bagwell, and Ellis Burks all hit the 40 home run mark but fell short of the stolen bases mark. In 1990, Barry Bonds stole 52 bases but did not manage to get the required home runs that year. Eric Davis, Carlos Beltran, Howard Johnson, Jimmy Rollins, Vladimir Guerrero, Willie Mays, and Bobby Abreu all managed to steal enough bases without getting enough home runs. There are also several years with the members of the 40-40 club didn’t quite measure up but did managed to make it to the 30-30 club list. Ian Kinsler was added to the 30-30 club in 2009, the last member – so far.

Canseco was born in Havana, Cuba on July 2, 1964. The family left Cuba when José and his identical twin brother were just infants. They came to the US and grew up in the Miami, Florida area. Canseco was drafted right out of high school and snatched up during the 15th round by the Oakland Athletics in 1982. He was well regarded while playing in the minor leagues and noted for his long home runs even then. He was moved up to the majors in 1985 and played 29 games with the Oakland A’s in 1985. He stayed with the team until 1992.

Between 1992 and his baseball retirement in 2001 he played for the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, New York Yankees, and Chicago White Sox. In 2005, Canseco admitted to using anabolic steroids. In 2007, he only received 1.1% of the ballots cast to become a member of the Hall of Fame (5% of the votes are needed for inclusion). He has participated in Mixed Martial Arts and run into some legal issues. His baseball career has been overshadowed by issues with steroid use.

“I think baseball owes McGwire a gratitude of thanks for putting baseball back on the map where it should be.”

“They’re taking decent steps. They’re going to get rid of steroids little by little. The answer is not having Bud Selig do his own private witch hunt.”

“I don’t know if I’m directly trying to take on the whole baseball establishment. I’m just basically telling a story of my life.”

“Do I believe steroids and growth hormones helped me achieve that? Yes. Were there a lot of other players doing it that I had to compete against? Yes.” – all from José Canseco

Also on this day:
I Shot the Sheriff – In 1980, Bob Marley played his last concert.
No Crash – In 1999, Qantas suffered its worst incident of the century.

Powerful Serve; Best Backhand

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 27, 2010

John Donald Budge in 1937

September 24, 1938: John Donald Budge is the first person to win a Grand Slam in tennis. The term “Grand Slam” refers to winning the four major tennis tournaments in a single year: the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. The term was coined by New York Times columnist John Kieran in 1933 when Jack Crawford was one win away from the feat.

The Grand Slam, as defined in one year, has been won by five singles, one junior singles, and three doubles. Steffie Graf not only won all the major tournaments, but also won the Olympic Gold Medal in 1988 making her the only Golden Grand Slam winner. Martina Navratilova won six tournaments in a row, but three were in 1983 and the other three in 1984. Many others have one each of the four main tournaments, but not in the same year.

Don Budge was born in Oakland, California and was the son of a former soccer player. He grew up playing a number of sports. He was tall and slim and his height helped produce one of the most powerful serves of all time. His backhand was also powerful with a touch of topspin added. He grew up playing on hard-court surfaces and had to adjust to grass when he moved east to train for the Davis Cup.

After winning the Grand Slam, Budge moved from amateur status and became a professional tennis player with mostly head-to-head matches. With the advent of the Second World War, Budge joined the US Army Air Force. He spent most of his service time playing exhibition matches for the troops. He injured his shoulder while running an obstacle training course and his tennis game was never again the same. He retired and taught children the game. He died after being involved in an automobile accident.

“Tennis is a perfect combination of violent action taking place in an atmosphere of total tranquility.” – Billie Jean King

“If you see a tennis player who looks as if he is working hard, then that means he isn’t very good.” – Helen Wills Moody

“Why has slamming a ball with a racquet become so obsessive a pleasure for so many of us? It seems clear to me that a primary attraction of the sport is the opportunity it gives to release aggression physically without being arrested for felonious assault.” – Nat Hentoff

“Sports do not build character. They reveal it.” – Heywood Hale Broun

Also on this day, in 1947 Harry Truman did not form the Majestic 12 group to investigate UFOs.

I Shot the Sheriff

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 27, 2010

Bob Marley

September 23, 1980: Robert Nesta Marley, Jamaican singer, songwriter, and guitarist plays his last concert. Bob Marley brought reggae music off the island and into the world. His best known songs mix reggae with rock and rhythm and blues music.

Bob Marley was born in Nine Miles in Saint Ann, Jamaica. His father, Norval, was a white Jamaican born to British parents – he was a naval officer and a plantation overseer. He married a black Jamaican woman. Norval provided financial support to his wife and child but saw them rarely. Bob was ten when his father died, forcing his mother and him to move into Kingston’s Trenchtown slum. Because of his mixed heritage, Bob was often bullied and so he learned to defend himself.

Bob became friends with Bunny Livingston, later Bunny Wailer, and they began playing music together. Bob also met Joe Higgs, a local singer and devout Rastafarian – one who believes that Haile Selassie of Ethiopia is the human embodiment of God. Higgs introduced his friends to Peter McIntosh – Peter Tosh. The Wailers formed a group in 1963 and continued together until 1974.

Marley is a legend in the Rastafarian movement. He adopted the dreadlocks and use of marijuana as a sacrament in the late 1960s. He began his shows proclaiming his religious beliefs. He was diagnosed with cancer in July 1977 but refused surgery because he was afraid it would affect his dancing and his belief system stated that the body must remain whole. The cancer spread. His last concert was at Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He died on May 11, 1981.

“Open your eyes, look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?”

“Don’t worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright”

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds!”

“My music will go on forever. Maybe it’s a fool say that, but when me know facts me can say facts. My music will go on forever.” – all from Bob Marley

Also on this day, in 1999 a Qantas jet almost crashes.

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