As always, Alex Shrugged's opinions are his own. Other people's work are their own. I include them here for the sake of completeness and to provide a second method of access to the material for the TSP history segment.
* Getting the Lead Out of Flint Michigan's Water Supply -- Contributed by Alex Shrugged
* This IS the outsider you were looking for! *Jedi hand wave* -- Contributed by Southpaw Ben
* Alex Shrugged Has Left the Building! -- Contributed by Alex Shrugged
* Notable Births -- See below.
* This Year in Film -- See below.
* This Year in Music -- See below.
* In Other News -- See below.
Getting the Lead Out of Flint Michigan's Water SupplyContributed by Alex Shrugged
President Obama declares a state of emergency in Flint, Michigan. Lead levels in the water supply have already poisoned many children who will never be well again. How did it happened? Flint was close to bankruptcy, so the Governor assigned a manager over the city. One of the cost-saving measures he dictated was to use Flint's old water treatment plant to process river water rather than buy treated water from Detroit. It was a good idea, but treating river water is tricky. They made a mistake and failed to add an anti-corrosive chemical to the water. Then, when they discovered too much bacteria in the water, they added extra chlorine. This rusted out the city's iron pipes. It turned the water orange but it also flaked off the protective coating inside the old lead pipes. Lead dissolved into the water. So... did the city fix the problem once it was brought to their attention? No. They denied there was a problem. How about when the regional EPA director was informed of the problem? No. State of Michigan? Forget it. No one wanted to "go out on a limb" for Flint. (Someone actually wrote that in a memo.) After 18 months of protests, scientific studies, and medical studies the state of Michigan finally switch Flint back to Detroit water, but the damaged pipes must be replaced. Obama's declaration opens up funding for that.    
This IS the outsider you were looking for! *Jedi hand wave*Contributed by Southpaw Ben
This year, in an election filled with intruige and more mudslinging than ever before, Donald Trump becomes president-elect of the US, to the fanfare of many and the horror of just as many. He crashes right through the blue wall to victory, winning 4 states that previously had always voted democrat.
Alex Shrugged Has Left the Building!Contributed by Alex Shrugged
Wow. It has really been a great run.
It began when Jack Spirko had the idea of linking the episode number for his show with a few thoughts about history for that year... the year that was the episode. As a history buff, I loved the idea, but I knew it would be a lot of work, so I started sending emails about history to help him out. Then it became more formal. I started posting to the TSP Wiki and became a part of the show, and I have Jack to thank for it. I can do a lot of things on my own without prompting, but I would not have done this history segment on my own. That's the truth. He has lent me his forum so that I can speak to all of you using his voice, and I am grateful.
I am also grateful to Southpaw Ben who stepped in just at the right time when I was sick and getting overwhelmed.
There is so much to learn from history, but the mistake is to believe that we can go back to those times if only this changed or that. There is no going back. There is only going forward. However, there are times when an opportunity presents itself again. If we know our history, we have a good idea what will happen next, or as the old joke goes...
Those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it... and those who DO study history are doomed to watch OTHERS repeat it.
I've taken the watch long enough.
Thank you for your trust.
Notable BirthsNone that I can find other than princes.--alexshrugged
- Antonin Scalia (age 79, natural causes after an afternoon of quail hunting): Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. 
- Nancy Reagan (age 94, congestive heart failure): First Lady of the United States. She is buried next to her husband. 
- Gene Wilder (age 83, Alzheimer's disease): Comedic actor in Blazing Saddles and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He kept his disease private because he didn't want to sadden his younger fans. 
- And a lot of really important people like... John Glenn (age 95, undisclosed), Fidel Castro (age 90, undisclosed), and Elie Wisel (age 87, natural causes). 
- And a lot of people who entertained us like... Prince (age 57, accidental overdose of pain pills), David Bowie (age 69, liver cancer), and Muhammad Ali (age 74, septic shock after respiratory illness). 
This Year in Film
- Rogue One: Yet another Star Wars film. (Visually interesting, lots of action, but otherwise did not forward the story.--alexshrugged) 
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: A prequel to the Harry Potter series. (Quirky story. I liked it.--alexshrugged) 
- And...: Star Trek Beyond, Finding Dory, and Doctor Strange. 
This Year in TV
- Greta Van Susteren leaves Fox News: She has been unhappy with Fox News for a number of years. 
- Al Jazeera America shuts down, citing low ratings: It began with 7,000 viewers in primetime, building to over 17,000. 
This Year in Music
- Work: Rihanna featuring Drake. (There is an explicit music video and a less explicit one, but they both look fairly explicit.--alexshrugged) 
- Closer: The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey. "We ain't never gettin' older". (The music video consists of simulated sex in public. I'm sensing a trend here. No wonder women are complaining more about sexual harassment if this is the example.--alexshrugged) 
This Year in Video Games
- Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets are launched: This was a Kickstarter project with a goal of $240,000 and raised $2.4 million. (Apparently they solved many of the problems inherent with such VR sets, but ultimately the eyes try to focus on distance and even a slight latency causes vertigo because vision is linked to what the balance sensors in your ears are detecting.--alexshrugged) 
- Overwatch: 9.7 million gamers downloaded the beta version. By mid-year it is the best selling game with $10 million players. 
- Pokémon Go: A mobile free-to-play game where you use your mobile phone and GPS to locate Pokemon characters in the real world. (This becomes a bit of a problem when folks start pointing their cameras in public and screaming, "There it is!"--alexshrugged) 
- Video games sales in the US are flat at around $30 billion: 75% of revenues are from digital downloads. 
In Other News
|Texas allows open carry of handguns.||Rifles and shotguns are already open carry. ||(As I recall, you need a "concealed carry" permit to open carry a handgun.--alexshrugged)
|The "3 Percenters" occupy the US Fish and Wildlife Service's headquarters at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge||This stems from the Bundy standoff 2 years ago. It ends in a shootout with the FBI, killing 1 and arresting 5, including Ammon Bundy.  |
|An ISIS supporter walks into an Orlando gay nightclub and opens fire||49 are killed, 53 wounded.  ||(Although he murdered many people, it is not clear how many were killed by police while they fired back at the murderer.--alexshrugged)|
|Vermont's GMO labeling law goes into effect.||First in the nation.  |
|Cellphone videos of police shooting Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge appear.||It looks complicated but the police got a call that Sterling had threatened someone with a gun. They tried to pat him down, but he ran. The police got him on the ground next to a car, but could not gain control of his arm. One of the officers said, "He has a gun" and after a few more moments they shoot him in the chest 6 times at short range. They pull a gun out of his pocket.  ||(I saw a lot of the video, but not the shooting itself. The gun was deep in his pocket but his pants were thin. He could have shot the gun from outside the pocket.--alexshrugged)|
|FBI Director James Comey recommends against indicting Hillary Clinton for her illegal email server.||Attorney General Lynch closes the investigation with no charges.  |
|A sniper kills 5 Dallas police officers and injures 11 people.||The assassin was targeting white police officers. He is blown up by police with a C-4 bomb delivered by a robot.  |
|Two Baton Rouge police officers and a sheriff are shot dead by an assassin.||It is revenge for the death of Alton Sterling.  |
|The FBI reopens its investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server.||They discover emails on a device belonging to Anthony Weiner that might be germane.  ||(Possibly, but I smell a rat. It could be Anthony Weiner or the FBI, trying to mess up her election chances.--alexshrugged)|
|The CIA has "high confidence" that Russia influenced the US presidential election.||The suggest that the Kremlin orchestrated the hacking of the DNC server and maliciously spread the truth about Hillary Clinton.  ||(It doesn't make much sense to me, but if they did it, it was the truth. I suppose in Hillary's case that is as good as a lie.--alexshrugged)|