Monday, April 24, 2017

History: The Year is 1990

I've uploaded year 1990 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 State of the Clean Air in America -- Contributed by Alex Shrugged

* Pale Blue Dot -- Contributed by Southpaw Ben

* The Secret Service Crackdown on Internet Crime -- 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.


The State of the Clean Air in America

Contributed by Alex Shrugged
Little by little a good idea is turned into something oppressive and wrong, but right now, cleaning up the air is a good idea. Non-smoking sections are provided in restaurants, but smoking is still allowed in bars except in San Louis Obispo, but who goes there to drink? Smoking is completely banned on cross-country flights since the common air system makes a non-smoking section a joke. Laws in California have long since placed controls on automobile emissions, and it has made a big difference. California has also instituted a Zero Emissions Vehicle initiative that requires 2% of all vehicles sold to produce no emissions at all. (OK, Fine. The car manufacturers can produce Zero Emission Vehicles, but the batteries must be replaced in a year and a half, so who is going to buy them?)[1] And now the Federal government has expanded the Clean Air Act to address acid rain and disease-causing pollutants. The government summary of this law is vague, but they will fine polluters, run a pollution-credit-trading market, and require a radical reduction in pollution from manufacturers. In problem areas like Los Angeles, trash-burning in home incinerators is outlawed. This is all for the good, but we know it won't stop there. [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
As a child I lived in the Los Angeles area. The smog was thick and acidic. When I would come home from elementary school I would lay down. My lungs were burning. My eyes were red. It would take about a half hour to recover. This was normal. The smog is trapped up next to the mountains, and builds up until the rain washes it away. Since the LA area is a desert, rain is an infrequent event. Something had to be done, and many of the initial measures seemed to help, but as the requirements have become more onerous, mechanical devices to reduce smog are not as efficient as computer modifications to the engine. The computer modifications must be helping because I notice the air is better, but I also know that computers can be programmed to realize when an emissions check is being run. They can automatically tweak the engine parameters to produce the best results for the test, and then reset the parameters for the best driving. When your graphics card does this, it is called slick marketing strategy. When your car does it, it is called LYING! VW was recently fined for doing this, but they are not the only ones. They are simply the ones who were caught.

Pale Blue Dot

Contributed by Southpaw Ben
Less than a pixel. Among bands of sunlight, one can just barely make out a tiny dot against the black, streaked backdrop. This is the last picture of Earth taken by the Voyager 1 space probe, done at the behest of famed astronomer and author, Carl Sagan. Taken on February 14th, they were transmitted to Earth between March and May. Carl Sagan was quoted as saying about the picture "every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives" on that dot. [6]
My Take by Southpaw Ben
This is a picture to look at and think about when your life is crazy and nothing seems to be going right, and you're completely overwhelmed with life. It helps put everything in perspective. You are but a minuscule piece of dust on a piece of dust in the grand scheme of things. But at the same time, you also should be working to make this dot better. Like Jack always says, make that dash matter. While this dot seems to be almost nothing, at the same time it is everything.

The Secret Service Crackdown on Internet Crime

Contributed by Alex Shrugged
The first page of the World Wide Web is written this year, so why is the Secret Service breaking down the doors of Steve Jackson Games in Austin, Texas? This is a BOARD GAME company! It does role-playing games... you know... with dice.... on a tabletop. But in the raid, the Secret Service finds a hacker's guide as part of the board game GURPS Cyberpunk. It is not a real hacker's guide just as "the martian" from My Favorite Martian is not really from Mars. Raids across several cities result in the confiscation of computers, the take down of computer bulletin boards (an early form of text talk forum) and several arrests. The Secret Service suspects an employee of Steve Jackson Games of using his personal computer to steal credit card numbers. (He wrote the fictional hacker's guide for the board game, but that is not sufficient reason to raid the business where he works.) THREE YEARS LATER after a lot of shouting and hand-waving, the court will reprimand the Secret Service for sloppy work on their warrants. ("LYING" is such an ugly word. How about OUT OF THEIR MINDS?) Steve Jackson Games will be awarded $50,000 in damages and $250,000 in attorney fees. That's over half a million in 2015 dollars. It takes a lot of money for innocent people to stay out of prison these days. [7] [8] [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Steve Jackson Games was also accused of trying to bring down the 9-11 phone system. The media seemed to be throwing anything they could at the company, and the 9-1-1 system had recently gone down due to a software bug in the AT&T system. I suppose blaming hackers was easier than blaming themselves. For a better idea of what the Internet was like in those early days, (and it was nothing like it is today) I suggest reading the excellent book, "The Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy through the Maze of Computer Espionage" by Clifford Stoll published in 1989. Those were real spies that Cliff was tracking, but Cliff had a difficult time finding a government agency to take responsibility when he found that spies had totally penetrated the Mitre Corporation. In any case, Steve Jackson Games is still in business and has a good following.[11] [12] [13]

Notable Births

  • Emma Watson: (Hermione in the Harry Potter series) [14]
  • Kristen Stewart: (Bella in Twilight) [15]
  • Jennifer Lawrence: (Katnis in Hunger Games and the only person born in the 1990s to win an Academy Award for acting) [16]

This Year in Film

  • Ghost : (Some of the sexiest pottery-making I've ever seen. Also Whoppie Goldberg is not very convincing, but everyone else is.--alexshrugged). [17]
  • Home Alone: Macaulay Culkin plays a bratty kid left home alone at Xmas time. (Initially I didn't like this film but it grew on me... like a fungus.--alexshrugged). [17]
  • Total Recall : Motion capture is first used with CGI. (That's when an actor is filmed with those bright yellow dots, so that the computer can match up the computer graphics with the actor's motions.) [17]
  • And...: Pretty Woman, Edward Scissorhands, Kindergarten Cop, and The Hunt for Red October. [17]

This Year in TV

  • Nightline airs Madonna's controversial music video "Justify My Love: (Musically, it is not very interesting. Visually, it approaches soft porn, and not very interesting.--alexshrugged). [18]
  • Law & Order: Thus begin the spinoffs such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent... (And my personal favorite: Law & Order: Suicide by TV.--alexshrugged) [18]
  • Beverly Hills, 90210: (Rated the best show of all time by AOL TV which is probably why AOL TV no longer exists.--alexshrugged)
  • -- In Comedy: Northern Exposure, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air starring a young Will Smith. [18]

This Year in Music

This Year in Video Games

  • Let the Nintendo World Championships begin!: It begins in Dallas, Texas and goes on a 29 city tour of the USA. The custom game cartridge used then is considered the most valuable today for the Nintendo. [20]
  • Final Fantasy is released: This begins a long series of role-playing games. [20]
  • Super Mario World is released: Introducing the Yoshi character. [20]

In Other News

  • The USA invades Panama: General Manuel Noriega surrenders to US forces. [21]
  • Iraq invades Kuwait: This will lead to the Gulf War early next year. [21]
  • Boris Yeltsin becomes president of the new Russian Federation: In the midst of a gentle transition to a market economy, the old guard tried to regain control in a coup, and the whole Soviet Union came crashing down when the Army refused to go along with the coup. [21]
  • The destruction of the Berlin Wall begins... officially, that is: German reunification is near. [22] [21]

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