Alfonso is bombarding me with Reforma links. This is really the last for today. I have to go to my wireless meeting. But I think I have caught up.
Another interesting article. it is about that if the
indigenous communities do not agree with the BID project they will not be done, we need to get more indian groups involved against the dams, I will get some information to the town people of Corozal and maybe to others in the area of el Cayo, I hope I do not get the Peter Mathews treatment, Saludos, Alf
This is for the other Mac users out there. A good summary of why it's nearly time to upgrade to Mac OS 10.2, other than the cool jaguar-skin logos. It's in a weblog with a great name, Backup Brain, July 31st entry.
But has Amazon raised its price back up to list, $129? This link from Backup Brain was supposed to be $79. Maybe all the fuss in the last few days made them change it. Think I'll wait a little longer...
Nine more articles from Reforma, sent by Alfonso Morales:
(List of articles updated 5:40 pm) No more for today, Alfonso!
Here's more from Mark Van Stone about his glyph installations at Southwestern College. The photos on this page link to larger ones.
"Each glyph was sandblasted 1/4 inch deep, twelve feet square, from a stencil-template cut from plexiglas with a CAD-CAM-driven high-pressure water jet. Since they had to blast fourteen copies of it, and the surface of the limestone plaster was too friable for traditional adhesive sandblast-masking, I was forced to design a glyph stencil-style, with no closed forms whose middles would drop out of the template. So I designed calligraphically, after the Palenque 96-Glyphs tablet and various ceramic inscriptions, which often leave gaps between the strokes. Though a few strokes suffered from forced gaps, all in all the design worked out quite legibly and prettily, I think."
From Alfonso Morales and Julie Miller:
I want to take a couple of minutes to let everyone know about some of the contacts that we have been making in Palenque over the last few weeks. The benefit of being in Palenque is that lots of people come through! (Now that I have finished the message, I apologize for the length, we have been busier than I had realized.)
We have been trying to interest reporters in the
story. So far we have contacted the following people.
I am including their email addresses (when we have
them) so that people can send them more information
when it is available. [Note: email addresses are left out of this posting]
Janet Schwartz based in San
Cristobal, writes for a number of Chiapas and Tabasco
papers and has contacts with a lot of U.S. papers
Naomi Austin works in the
history documentary production division of the BBC
Susan Ferriss, Mexico correspondant
for the Cox Newspapers (6 major newspapers in Georgia,
Texas, and Florida)
Correspondant for the Dallas Morning News
Marty Nives Pioneer Productions.
He is currently producing a program for Discovery
Channel. He is very interested in coming back after
his current program and doing a program about the
Usumacinta and the proposed dams
Jorge Berry Televisa anchor man
We also sent the information to Ken Garrett (NGS
photographer) and he forwarded it to others in the NGS
We also had an NEH study tour through here and more
than one person expressed interest in hearing more
about the dam project. We have all of their email
On Sunday we met two women from Guatemala who are
deeply interested in fighting the dams. One of them,
Carla Molina, has an
ecotourism business and has contacts at various levels
of the Guatemalan government and elsewhere. She gave
us phone numbers and email addresses for the president
of the BID (Enrique Iglesias), a finance officer of
the BID (Marcelo Antinon), and two of the people
working on the PPP at the BID (Juanita
Salazar--tourism, and Jorge Sapozinkow--Energy). We
can send those phone numbers and email addresses to
anyone who is interested.
We received reliable information that a group of
engineers had been on the Usumacinta inspecting
potential dam sites and were giving quite detailed
information about water levels at specific points.
They also said that there would be a new road built
going to the Usumacinta from the highway to Frontera
Corozal. This road will be used during the
construction of the dams. They have started work on
this road already. Our source for all of this
information had been asked to keep it quiet by the
Alfonso went to visit the local head of the Comision
Federal de Electricidad to ask him what he knew about
the dams. He said that yes there were dams planned but
that they would be low dams. When Alfonso asked how
low, he said that he would try and find out. He also
had some specific knowledge of some of the areas that
would be affected by the dams.
We were in Yaxchilan a couple of weeks ago and talked
to some people in Frontera Corozal. They are
interested in finding out more information, since they
will be dramatically affected by all of this. We were
also told there that one of the plans in the PPP is to
build a road directly to Yaxchilan -- which doesn't
make a whole lot of sense since a large part of
Yaxchilan will probably be under water!
The trip to Yaxchilan really stressed to us the
enormous loss that will be incurred by this project.
We saw a wider variety of animals, birds, and reptiles
than usual. Alfonso says that it is the first time in
25 years that he has seen scarlet macaws in the area
(we saw four macaws feeding in a tree near Str. 33).
We also saw both howler and spider monkeys, a
coatimundi, alligators, and lots of birds along the
Julie and Alfonso
To help organize the effort against the dams on the Usumacinta, I will be setting up a separate weblog on that topic only. There will be a link to it from this page.
Meanwhile, Joann Andrews has written to ask for information:
"We need urgently to find out: what international financial body is financing the project; what plans have been submitted by whom to what entity in the Mexican and Guatemalan governments."
Click comments below to leave any information you may have.
Joel Skidmore, webmaster of Mesoweb, has sent 3 more links to stories about the proposed dams, threatening key Maya lands. All are in Spanish - Joel will have translations on his site soon.
For the mappers out there, and other users of geographic information, there's a good site with links to all types of GIS software and Geo-Data - FreeGIS.
This by way of Doc Searls' weblog. Actually, by way of his readers, who sent the info in response to his call for help.
Boeing has confirmed that it is working on "propellantless propulsion" which is their term for an anti-gravity device. You can find the non-subscriber version of the story in Jane's Defence News.
Mark Van Stone writes from Southwestern College in Imperial Beach, California, where he is teaching:
" Lately, I have been working with the architects of the new Library here at SWC, and the facade now is adorned with a single glyph --NAH-hi-ITZAMNAAJ-ji--derived ultimately from the glyph on Quirigua Stela D (in the "Three Stone Thrones" creation passage), but rendered in a calligraphic style that owes most of its inspiration to Palenque's Panel of 96 Glyphs..."
"Sandblasted (not deeply, but tinted for legibility in the shade) fourteen times, each twelve feet square, filling the entire middle floor of the front facade. My drawings have never been rendered on so public a scale before. The job will be concluded by a "smoke-entered" building-dedication text in the same style (dated 18.104.22.168.0 /14 Feb 2003, with all 25 glyphs fitting into a space the size of an elevator door -- 4 x 8 ft... Just above the entry elevator on the outside by the front door) once I finish rendering it in Illustrator, so the template can be CAD/CAM-cut for the sandblasting. That's how I have been spending my summer "vacation"... . I'll send a photo of the facade when I get them developed. A different artist's rendition of "Itzamna" (taken from that Interpreting Maya Glyphs book by that Italian educator) will be cut next month twenty feet high on the exterior elevator shaft, at the same time as my dedication text. By the time this is done, it will be the most glyph-covered building in California, I think, or maybe the USA. Do you know of others? Besides the Nowlin House in Austin, I cannot think of an example to rival it. But that is no doubt more due to my limited awareness of these latter-day things than anything... ."
I've been looking for links to articles on the plan to build dams in the Lacandon and Peten. If any of you have good sources of information, please send them in.
Meanwhile, I'll post this story and look for more.
Alonso Mendez sent me a link to a "Tabasco Hoy" story in Spanish.
On my way out the door, to a weekend in the Adirondacks. As I leave for a northern lake, I remember a trip last year to Lake Miramar in the Lacandon forest. Please click on the thumbnail to see Alonso Mendez, Janet Schwartz, and Fernando Ochoa, companions in a spectacular spot that Fernando has worked hard to protect.
Some of you may wonder about my dual obsessions with wireless internet and Maya glyphs. Pretty simple to me - gotta pay for my trips to the jungle with long months on the computer. Also, after achieving my sci-fi dream of doing a satellite uplink from atop a Maya pyramid, beaming the web to the New York monoliths holds a strange attraction. This weblog lets me indulge both halves of my brain.
Another nice intersection of the two is the phenomenon of warchalking. This may be old news to some folks (the last 2 weeks, in the NY Times already, Doonesbury has hit a precursor, "wardriving") but some clever nerds have devised a variation on the old hobo runes which marked the location of a handout. These new symbols are designed to mark wireless network access in the area that is open for exploiting.
I'm dealing with issues of how to create an open network that can also be managed. Bandwidth to the people, but let's make sure that one warchalker doesn't come by and suck up all the bandwidth at once. It's the age-old dilemma of the commons - how to share the resource without taking more than your share.
Last weekend, Jack Unger of Wireless Infonet came to donate his time to my wireless scheme. He did a site survey of the area on the East River of Manhattan where I plan to provide free wireless broadband access. The best moments were on the roof of the 14 story housing projects, using his spectrum analyzer to check for possible interference. Our results (nothing objectionable) may have been skewed by a power outage in much of downtown, caused by a Con Ed transformer fire.
We are designing a pilot project to relay broadband to the rooftops and "illuminate" the adjoining buildings with internet service. It's not a mesh network exactly but I'm still intrigued by the idea. The DailyWireless website has a note on mesh networks and the latest buzz from net guru Howard Rheingold - Smart Mobs.
Chip Morris has analyzed the carving on the throne, found at Temple XIX in Palenque, with an eye to the weaving in the garments. Here is his graphic explanation. Click on the thumbnail to see a full-size image.
Chip will be posting more information about his analysis.
Chris Shaw (see entry about his book) has passed along some correspondence regarding a revived proposal to build large dams which would flood the Lacandon forest and the Peten, with drastic economic and cutural impacts. I've edited it down a bit, but here's a start to a continuing discussion on how to oppose this project:
"The following is from my friend Ron Canter, a cartographer at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and an amateur Mayanist, who has been documenting and tracing trade routes in the Maya region for years. I wrote about him in my book...
Some sort of technical and economic specifics are necessary to compare with previous proposals. Also need to find out what if any environmental/archaeological impact studies/statements have been made or planned--their lack provided major ammo against the '92 proposal. One thing I will again insist on is the need to think big, to get the possibility of the big dam scenario squashed for good through some kind of international corridor protection, with money attached, and by making a proposal for alternative regional power production through small hydro, solar, etc."
(Letter from Ron follows)
this is deja vu all over again. from the 'land drowned' figures, this has to be the big dam scenario resurrected. big dams have been discredited as effective development tools around the world. even the world bank came out against the three gorges dam in china. but, the dam building industry is still eager to milk third world countries via big dam projects. canadians seem to be even more eager to help build the big ones than us firms.
simon winchester described such dams as "little more than pomposity writ in concrete, as a way of impressing the peasantry with the ruler's energy, acumen, and skill". daniel beard, of the us bureau of reclamation, made a speech in 1994 that signalled the days of big dams were over in the usa. he said "large dams are tremendously expensive. they always cost more than you thought and tie up huge sums of capital for many years...there is no more visible symbol in the world of what we are trying to move away from than the three gorges dam." big dams, whether in china or mexico or belize, are all linked. the same firms are pushing to get them built, and angling for the contracts.
all this is courtesy of my having just read "the river at the center of the world", by winchester. he goes into great detail on the biggest dam project in the world, and what is very wrong with it. he sat at the bar and chatted with the vultures pouring into china looking for contracts. alonso should get the book. it will furnish references and ammo'.
It seems that a recent coronal mass ejection has blown a solar wind towards earth that may push auroras farther south than usual. Doubtful my pals in Mexico will see any, or that I will in New York, but here's a page with some photos of auroras, and another one with more information about the solar weather.
One of the most amazing resources on the web is the Schele Archive, which FAMSI maintains. Nearly 1,000 of Linda Schele's drawings are made available free to the public for non-commercial use. Searchable and with extensive annotation, this is a treasure for Maya scholars and fans (like myself) alike.
This is just a note to give links to some recent reports submitted to FAMSI as part of their research grants program.
Alfonso Morales has a report on Recording New Inscriptions of Palenque.
Karen Bassie has an interim report on the Jolja' Cave Project.
Another link thanks to Bruce Sterling. As he writes:
"Some very nice shots of the ancient, tiny, pre-Internet here. Those maps have much of the weird archaic majesty of Mayan glyphs."
Should we tell him its "Maya" not "Mayan"? Or is it? Now I'm confused.
You'll find them here.
Since I seem to be talking to myself, waiting for some friends to join in, here's a story from a favorite weblog, Boing Boing.
Our Transhumanist Government
A draft US Government report says we will alter human evolution within 20 years by combining what we know of nanotechnology, biotechnology, IT and cognitive sciences. The 405-page report from the US National Science Foundation and Commerce Department, Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance", calls for a broad-based research program to improve human performance leading to telepathy, machine-to-human communication, amplified personal sensory devices, and enhanced intellectual capacity. People may download their consciousnesses into computers or into bodies on the other side of the solar system, or participate in a giant 'hive mind' -- a network of intelligences connected through ultra fast communications networks.
Here's the pdf file in question. Remember, it's 405 pages.
All this and big-brained mice as well.
I don't know whether to post this under "Sky" or "Watery Way" but the Jet Propulsion Lab has released a story about an Interplanetary Superhighway discovered by a NASA engineer. Looks like looping between Lagrange points is the way to go.
Makes me nostalgic for my little half hour science news show that we did in the late 90's, the last time that the country seemed to care about space and had the optimism to explore it. Waaaah!
This is the least bizarre news item that George Suarez at NBC has sent to me and a select group of his twisted friends. His last one was a link to the latest on the court jester of Tonga.
But this one was just for me, apparently. I thought all of this was covered in Mike and Sophie Coe's "The True History of Chocolate". Must be a slow news day.
Oh, and look at some of Justin Kerr's photos of cacao-related Maya pottery.
You can search his archive at FAMSI for more.
Early Mayas were chocoholics, scientists say
LONDON (Reuters) - Humans developed a fondness for
chocolate about 2,600 years ago when the Mayas used earthenware
teapots to prepare cacao drinks, American researchers said
The discovery by scientists from Hershey Foods in Hershey,
Pennsylvania and the University of Texas in Austin means
chocoholism began 1,000 years earlier than scientists had
"The presence of cacao in Maya spouted vessels at Colha
indicates that its usage predates evidence from Rio Azul (an
ancient Mayan city) by almost a millennium," Jeffrey Hurst, of
Hershey Foods, said in a report in the journal Nature.
The scientists analyzed ancient residue from the pots found
in an archeological site at Colha in northern Belize and found
it contained traces of theobromine, a compound found in cocoa
plants. They suspect the pots were used to pour cocoa mixtures
from one container to another to form a froth, which was the
Mayas' favorite part of the drink.
"We now know that the Maya had a long, continuous history
of preparing and consuming liquid chocolate from the Preclassic
period through to the Spanish Conquest," Hurst said.
Great memories of my first trip to the Yucatan and Chiapas... but two things come to mind today.
There was the neon pyramid on the radio station sign outside my hotel window in Merida, my first night in Mexico. And being awakened in San Cristobal by the cohetes, the rockets that are fired off on every occasion in the highlands. It occurred to me that this was Maya broadcasting, an announcement to everyone within range. I realized later that fireworks, like firearms, were brought by the Spanish, but I still like the idea.
Now I am involved in an effort to set up a free wireless internet access service in my neighborhood. There are many groups around the world setting up free or open wireless communities. Now if we can just get internet service to the Panchan in Palenque. I'd never come home.
I am a Mac guy. Have been Apple only since I wrote Steve Jobs in 1979 to ask if he'd lend me an Apple II to show to crazy video artists. By God, he sent it to me. I recently upgraded to Mac OS X and am happy it runs well on my aging Powerbook.
Tomorrow begins the annual MacWorld here in New York. No new things expected according to the rumor sites, but they could surprise us. Aaah what I live for...
Alright, I already screwed up. I decided to use the Maya glyph for "writing" in my banner. In Michael Coe and Justin Kerr's book "The Art of the Maya Scribe" there is a photo (not by Justin - by Elizabeth Land) of the glyph. I laboriously traced the photo and created my own glyph. The next morning I realized that it was on the cover of Coe's new book. My bet is that co-writer, Mark Van Stone, artist and calligrapher, made that graphic. He did a better job than I did. I swear, I didn't rip it off from there - just from somewhere else. I'll get permission from the photographer (and Michael) or else I'll use another graphic. Good reason to contact both. Meanwhile, buy Mike and Mark's book. It's the best beginning text there is from a man who explains things better than anyone else and a top artist in the field.
Chris Shaw has written a wonderful book about his travels in the Usumacinta watershed, tying his journey into the world of the Maya past and present. The book is SACRED MONKEY RIVER, and you can read a conversation with Chris on the Planeta website.
I'm hoping that I can get Chris to contribute to this log. Alonso Mendez, who accompanied Chris on his trip, will be sending in some examples of his work on Maya art and design.
And, I'll be putting in a section of featured books, with links to Amazon. Watch for it.
If you have logged in, you've probably noticed the Set Up Bookmarklets option in the Main Menu. This is a great tool if you want to post links to websites that you find. Check the options for the bookmarklet (you can leave trackback and ping unchecked) and click Create. The next page gives you a link that you can drag onto the menu bar or favorites in your browser. Then you can open that wherever you are on the web, to create an entry based on the current page. It comes up with html for the link in the main entry text. The name of the site is preset to be the words that a reader would click on. Carefully replace those with your own choice of words, write around it, and you've got a nice linked entry. Try it! If it gets messed up I will do my best to clean it up. Or try it again - I can delete obvious duplicate entries.
Since this my brilliant idea, I'll start the posting with a link to an article abouta cheap, handheld computer developed by Indian scientists that is having difficulties getting backers. Beyond my interest in all things Maya, I am trying to tackle the issues posed by the digital divide, the widening gap between haves and have-nots in technology and internet access. You'll find many of my posts linking to sites and news on this subject.
Once you have an author name and password, open this site to this entry. Click MORE (read below for an explanation) so you can see this whole entry. Open a new window in your browser so you can keep this explanation open. Then type this URL into that other window:
Or just type in gomaya - most browsers will find the site home page, and I will put a link to the login page there.
Enter name and password, and you will go to a Main Menu page, with a welcome and New Entry button. Click on New Entry and you will see an empty form waiting for you. Enter a title, and pick a category. I have put a list of one-word options there. You can be literal - a note about the solstice at Palenque under "Sky" - or more associative - a link to the discovery of a new planetary system under that same category. If you have ideas for new categories, let me know, in an email or an entry. Make it an entry, and we all can comment on it.
Then there's a box for Main Entry Text. That's whatever you want to appear on the main page. I just typed this entry in that box. Now I'm going to move to the Additional Entry Text box. That will make the word MORE appear just below this. You can click on that to see my entire entry.
Now you are looking at the Individual entry page, which includes a space for comments (by anyone in the world, folks - get used to it). Anyway, type in your additional text in the box provided, ignore the Excerpt box for now, then scroll down the page. Make sure that Post Status is Publish (some weblogs have an editor who approves entries before posting them, but I don't want to do that). Go to the bottom and hit save. It'll chew on your entry a moment and then give you one last chance to edit it. Make changes if you like (misspelling is my pet peeve but what the hell, there's no spellchecker), then hit save again. Click the View Site button and see your entry on the web. You may have to click reload on your browser to see the latest change.
Sounds a little complicated but it isn't. This is the beauty of these "blog" systems - an easy way to collaborate and publish on the web.
The first thing you need to start contributing to the Glyph is a user name and a password. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (or at my other email if you know it) to ask for these or suggest your own. I favor using your first name until we start getting duplicates. Then I'll figure out a variation to distinguish people. If you really don't want to use your name, send me a nickname or alias. Just make sure I know who you really are.
We will probably start with a few folks, who can then recommend others. I won't open it up to more than friends of friends unless there is a mutiny that demands otherwise. I also can remove an author or block an obnoxious commenter. It's good to be king.
Some of you have shared your homes with me as I've traveled in Mexico and Guatemala. Some have shared your ideas and discoveries, and have inspired me to keep searching. Others I have never met, and I look forward to meeting in this web journal. Welcome and thanks for all your help.
For those who are new to this kind of shared journal, some explanations: this is a weblog, what is called these days a blog - ugly, funny word. It's based on software from Movable Type, a husband and wife team who have helped create hundreds of weblogs with this great tool. One nice aspect of this format is that it can evolve. I am starting with a slightly modified template from MT, and will add features as I can. Meanwhile, your entries will stay in the archives and will always be accessible, no matter what changes the log goes through.
I'll start a new entry now, to give some tips on getting started and to explain some of our options. After all, this is a collaboration. All of you will determine the direction that it goes.