Thursday, February 23, 2017

History: The Year is 1959

I've uploaded year 1959 to the TSP Wiki...

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.

* The Year that Changed Everything -- Contributed by Alex Shrugged

* Khrushchev Comes a Callin' -- Contributed by Alex Shrugged

* Spying for "Science" -- Contributed by Southpaw Ben

* Notable Births -- See below.

* This Year in Film -- See below.

* This Year in Music -- See below.

* In Other News -- See below.


The Year that Changed Everything

Contributed by Alex Shrugged (at the suggestion of a TSP listener)
"1959 was the year when the shockwaves of the new ripped the seams of daily life, when humanity stepped into the cosmos and also commandeered the conception of human life, [...] when the world as we now know it began to take form."
-- Frank Kaplan, from his book "1959: The Year that Changed Everything" [1]
He makes it sound like that's a good thing, and perhaps it is... in some ways. It's like the first cave man being gifted with fire. The potential for good is enormous, but there is potential for destruction as well. At the beginning of this century, the disillusioned generation of World War 1, gave way to the Greatest Generation of World War 2, and now we have the Beat Generation. Economic prosperity has come. The Boeing 707 flies non-stop from New York to Paris after the First Lady breaks a bottle on its nose. The GI Bill allows millions of veterans access to a good education, and a lower interest rate on a home loan. (At this time, GI loans are transferable which incentivizes a private buyer to take over the loan without refinancing, and bail out a GI who is behind on his payments THOUGH THE PRIVATE SECTOR!) Nuclear power provides electricity. Civil Rights for black people is finally taking hold. (It's not much, but it's moving along.) It's a Space Race to the Moon. "Countdown", "A-OK" and "blast off" are part of the common speech. This is the generation that is talking about sex as if they invented it. (Nope, but nylons, Barbie and bikinis are new. Free love is not new. Not even close.) The feminist movement is well under way, and women's independence is made possible (or at least made practical) with the birth control pill. Condoms have been around forever, but their use is controlled by the man. Now a woman can control her biological destiny quietly, personally and without confrontation. Women have a new superpower, and it will change more things in our world than you can imagine... or maybe you can imagine it. [2]

Khrushchev Comes a Callin'

Contributed by Alex Shrugged
People are fleeing the German worker's paradise (otherwise known as the GDR or East Germany) to the West. After World War 2, Germany was divided into East and West, but that left Berlin in the East under Soviet domination... uh... I mean under the people's protection, so Berlin was split separately. Now West Berlin remains an oasis of freedom, compared to the East. It's like holding a prayer vigil for self-denial while the church next door is having a BBQ cookout and sing-a-long. The Soviet Union tried staving them out, but the Berlin Air Lift put the kibosh on that plan. Now Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union, demands that Berlin be made a free city meaning his tanks will insure the freedom of the government to confiscate all their stuff. President Eisenhower does what any red-blooded American champion of freedom would do. He goes golfing at Augusta National. (He is flipping off the Soviets while working behind the scenes.) West Berlin votes "Nyet" on Khrushchev's "freedom city" BS (bad suggestion), so Khrushchev changes tactics. He wants to visit the United States. Eisenhower thinks this is a great idea. (Sure, Wilbur.) With everyone crossing their fingers, the man who threatened to bury the West, comes a callin'. They meet at Camp David privately to clear the air. Eisenhower leaves Khrushchev enough room to back off and he does.... for now. [3] [4] [5] [6]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
During the visit, Khrushchev and Eisenhower discussed military procurement. It reveals Eisenhower's thinking long before warning us of "the military-industrial-complex." [7] EISENHOWER: My military leaders come to me and say, 'Mr. President, we need such and such a sum for such and such a program. If we don't get the funds we need, we'll fall behind the Soviet Union.' [...] That's how they wring money out of me. [...] how is it with you?
KHRUSHCHEV: It's just the same. (They) say, [...] 'If we don't get the money we need and if there's a war, then the enemy will have superiority over us.' So [...], I mull over their request and finally come to the conclusion that the military should be supported with whatever funds they need.
EISENHOWER: You know, we really should come to some sort of an agreement in order to stop this fruitless, really wasteful rivalry. [8]

Spying for "Science"

Contributed by Southpaw Ben Under the name "Discoverer", the Corona 4 spy satellite was the first spy satellite that is known to have been launched. By spy satellite, it meant that it contained a camera on board. The rocket it used to go to space was based on the PGM-17 Thor rocket[9], which was an intermediate range ballistic missile that would be in use until 1963. The Discover 4 mission was ultimately a failure, as a malfunction resulted in it not reaching orbit, and the Discoverer program would be plagued with problems until over a year later when the Discoverer 13 became the obeject to be successfully recovered after being sent to orbit, but Discoverer 14 was the first to have it's film successfully recovered. This program was only publicly admitted in 1992 with its picture being declassified in 1995 by an executive order by President Bill Clinton. [10]
My Take by Southpaw Ben
As Jack and Alex have stated in the past, anyone who thinks NASA's only role was to further science needs to set up an appointment with a pshrink. The Discoverer missions are a perfect example, as the US government was able to launch spy satellites without needing to explain what they were doing, simply dismissing it as a mission for science. This also should cast some doubt onto modern day scientists as to whether the science they claim to be doing is actually what they claim, and if they are actually doing it for who and why they claim, such as was done with the MK Ultra experiments. I won't go so far as to speculate on any specific modern day examples, because I'm sure that all modern scientists are completely upstanding and honest individuals. (Please note the heavy does of sarcasm)

Notable Births

  • Sarah, Duchess of York: Known affectionately as "Fergie", the former wife of Prince Andrew. [11]
  • Mike Pence: VP of the United States. [11]
  • Eliot Spitzer: Governor of NY and "Love Client Number 9" in a prostitution investigation. [11] [12]
  • David Koresh (died 1993, age 33): Leader of the Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas when the ATF raided their compound. [11]
  • Brian Williams: NBC News reader, fired after he said his helicopter was hit by an RPG when it wasn't. (That's called lying, Brian.--alexshrugged) [11]
  • -- In Sports: Magic Johnson, John McEnroe and Coach Mike McCarthy. [11]
  • -- In Comedy: Tom Arnold and "Weird Al" Yankovic. [11]
  • -- In Music: Simon Cowell and Marie Osmond. [11]
  • -- Jason Alexander: Pretty Woman, and TV's Seinfeld. [11]
  • -- Linda Blair: The possessed girl in The Exorcist. [11]

This Year in Film

  • Ben Hur: Starring Charlton Heston, it is the story of a rich man, brought low and then redeemed by Jesus. (Great chariot race.--alexshrugged) [13]
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth: Starring James Mason and Pat Boone. (Still good.--alexshrugged) [13]
  • On the Beach: In the aftermath of a nuclear attack those few who survive must... blah, blah, blah. (An important film but a major downer.--alexshrugged) [13]

This Year in Music

  • Venus: Frankie Avalon. "Hey, Venus / Oh, Venus / Make my wish come true..." [14]
  • The Ballad of Mack the Knife: Bobby Darin. "Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear, And he shows them pearly white..." [14]
  • (We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (Tonight): Bill Haley & His Comets. [14]

In Other News

  • Barbie the fashion doll is released by Mattel: At this time dolls are babies, so an adult-aged doll is a big change. [15]
  • The 1st plain paper copier is released by Xerox: Xerox will soon become a verb just as Jello became a noun. [15]
  • Coal mining dies in northern Pennsylvania along with 12 men: In the Knox Mine disaster, miners tunnel too close to a riverbed and flood the mines. Heads will roll, but it's too late now. [15] [16]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1959, Wikipedia.

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