Monday, May 8, 2017

History: The Year is 1999

I've uploaded year 1999 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 Columbine Massacre and Video Game Violence -- Contributed by Alex Shrugged

* LaGrand Case -- Contributed by Southpaw Ben

* Dr. Death Gets 10 Years. My Mother-in-law Gets Life -- 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 Columbine Massacre and Video Game Violence

Contributed by Alex Shrugged
"What would you do if somebody got a gun and killed all of your kids? Would you get the people who killed us?
--Isaiah Shoels, speaking to his parents 3 days before he was murdered at Columbine High School. [1]
It is April 20th... Hitler's birthday. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walk into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado and start shooting their fellow students. They are triumphant. Some say, "orgasmic". They are certainly berserk in the ancient sense of the word... when all is lost, no fear, no self-preservation, only wild abandon. Death is the fate for everyone they see, and for themselves. By the time the SWAT team gets there, the killers have already blown their own heads off. Harris and Klebold have wounded 20, killed 1 teacher and 12 students. The media searches desperately for a motive. Isaiah Shoels was a black student so it must have been racially motivated. Some pundits see the massacre as anti-Christian since many of the dead had been overtly religious. Others see the killers as victims themselves. Thus the massacre was revenge against the athletes. (It's Revenge of the Nerds, but with shotguns instead of brains.) Still others focus on violent video games. Harris and Klebold played Quake and Doom for hours on end, and that's what tipped them over the edge. The common theme is that the killers were not responsible for the evil that overtook them. In an earlier age we would say they were possessed by demons or hexed by witches. They couldn't possibly be bad kids. BTW, did I mention they tended to shout, "Heil Hitler" just for fun? [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I'm going to talk about the video game aspect of this disaster, but remember that I was an early video games programmer. The most violent game I worked on was the PC version of Platoon based on the movie. It was rather tame compared to modern games, but Germany banned its sale to minors. With that said, video game violence has some effect on the human mind. That is why the US Army uses them to train soldiers. It helps them overcome their reluctance to pull the trigger, but video games do not absolve murderers of their crimes. Back in the 1950s and 60s they blamed violent comic books like Superman. Then they blamed violent cartoons like Tom and Jerry, but animated mayhem does not make good kids into bad ones. It simply gives bad kids more creative ways to be bad. Remember that you are training your kids to do the right thing over and over again until it becomes automatic... just like gun safety. And if it they haven't learned the difference between right and wrong by the time they are 17... well... that's when I see them as a jail chaplain. You've had your chance. [11] [12] [13] [14]

LaGrand Case

Contributed by Southpaw Ben
On February 24, Karl LaGrand was executed by lethal injection, followed by his brother Walter LeGrand on March 3. They had be arrested for murder after a botched bank robbery left a man dead and a woman severely injured. What makes this case notable, is that these two men were German nationals, despite having lived in the US since ages 4 and 5 respectively. As a result, Germany filed legal action with the International Court of Justice to stay the executions, as the LaGrands had not been informed of their right to consular assistance, as established by the Vienna Convention. The ICJ granted that stay, but was rejected by the US Supreme Court, due to the 11th ammendment not allowing it jurisdiction, as it forbids federal courts from hearing lawsuits of foreign countries against US states. As a result of this case, the ICJ found that its own provisional findings, such as stays of execution or temporary restraining orders (in the national law sense, not the individual meaning), were legally binding, and as such it the US Supreme Court should have enforced the stay of execution, despite it violating US law. [15]
My Take by Southpaw Ben
In the ruling itself, the ICJ address the fact that the French and English texts of the ICJ statutes contradict each other, as one allows the court to make the provisional measures legally binding, and the other does not. It acknowledges that both are completely authentic, and then decides that the they would go with the French version, which would make all provisional measures legally binding. As such, it also decided that the US had violated the Vienna Convention by not enforcing the stay of execution against it's own laws. This is just on more case of governments, be it national or international, always interpretting any gray areas in a way that allows them further control and powers, rather than in a way that would limit them.

Dr. Death Gets 10 Years. My Mother-in-law Gets Life

Contributed by Alex Shrugged
He is called "Dr. Death." His name is Jack Kevorkian. He is a pathologist. (That is, the guy in the morgue.) He has been promoting euthanasia, the gentle ending of a life. He even advertises in the newspaper as a "death counselor". He drives up in his beat up VW van. With the curtains drawn he sets up a cocktail of drugs on a rack. He calls this apparatus his Thanatron or "death machine". He sets up a harmless saline drip, and then the patient hits the button. The drip switches to sodium pentothal, a strong sedative. That is followed by a drug to stop the heart. (FYI, I am not telling you what it is because I don't want to frighten anyone. It is the same drug I take twice a day in small doses, but in a large dose it would kill me. And not incidentally, it would be difficult for the coroner to detect, so I'm careful not to piss off my wife.) Back to the Doctor, it is against the law at this time to help someone commit suicide, but the authorities have had a tough time bringing Dr. Kevorkian to justice, that is, until he goes on 60 Minutes. He demonstrates his machine on TV using Thomas Youk, 52, who is in the final stages of Lou Gehrig's disease. Oddly, Kevorkian changes his procedure, and administers the final injection himself. That is murder. Kevorkian is 70 years old. He will serve 8 years of a 10 year sentence, but he has already made his point. Euthanasia is now on the political agenda. [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Personally, I didn't like Kevorkian because he was some kind of death freak, but in principle he did things correctly. He saw a law that didn't make sense to him. He disobeyed the law in order to bring the case to court, but the authorities refused to convict him, or lacked the evidence to do so, and decided they had better things to do. Then Kevorkian made that error on 60 Minutes which I suspect was not an error. He technically murdered that man. This forced the government to act, and brought the issue forward. He walked out of that courtroom and into prison serene and happy. He had done what he came to do. Doctor-assisted suicide was on the agenda, and some states passed laws allowing it. Currently Texas law prohibits it, but withholding care is perfectly legal in Texas with the patient's consent. Thus, when it looked as if my Mother-in-law might die in the hospital, she signed a do-not-resuscitate order. We discussed it as a family with clergy present, and we all agreed. But then a Texas social worker confirmed it with my Mother-in-law after we left to make sure we hadn't pressured her. That pissed me off as if the state thought that we couldn't handle it, but upon reflection, it was a good idea. Trust but verify. (BTW, my Mother-in-law lived another year. False alarm.) [23]

Notable Births

  • Isaac Hempstead Wright: Bran Stark on HBO's Game of Thrones. (The books were amazing, but I've never seen the HBO series.--alexshrugged) [24]
  • Chandler Riggs: Carl Grimes, the kid in "The Walking Dead". [24]

Notable Deaths

  • DeForest Kelley (age 79, stomach cancer): Dr. Leonard McCoy on Star Trek the original series. [25]
  • Madeline Kahn (age 57, ovarian cancer): Lili Von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles. [26]
  • George C. Scott (age 71, a blood vessel burst): Patton. [27]
  • Iron Eyes Cody (age 94, old age): He was the "Crying Indian" in the TV anti-littering campaign. (I met him when I attended an Indian circle dance, lo those many years ago.--alexshrugged) [28]

This Year in Film

  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace: Although criticized, it is by far the highest grossing film for this year. [29]
  • The Sixth Sense: "I see dead people." (Great movie. Scared the pants off me.--alexshrugged) [29]
  • The Matrix: Follow the white rabbit and then take the red pill to learn the truth. [29]
  • And...: Wild Wild West, The Mummy, and Galaxy Quest, a parody of Star Trek. [29]

This Year in TV

  • Farscape: A science fiction adventure produced by Jim Henson. (Yeah. The Muppet guy.--alexshrugged [30]
  • The Sopranos: Italian-American mobsters on HBO. [30]
  • The West Wing: A Democrat President in the White House who isn't tripping over his pants every 5 minutes. (Did I say that out loud?--alexshrugged) [30]
  • And in Cartoons...: Family Guy, Futurama and SpongeBob SquarePants. [30]

This Year in Music

  • ...Baby One More Time: Britney Spears. "When I'm not with you I lose my mind / Give me a sign / Hit me, baby, one more time." [31]
  • You Were Mine: Dixie Chicks. "What Right Does She Have To Take You Away / When For So Long, You Were Mine." [31]
  • Napster peer-to-peer music sharing begins: Lawsuits also begin. It shutdowns 2 years later. It's brand name will be bought by Best Buy. [31]

This Year in Video Games

  • Silent Hill: It changes the paradigm of survival horror games making you fear what is around the next corner rather than throwing monsters at you pell-mell. [32] [33]
  • Everquest: A 3D fantasy, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG). [32]
  • Soulcalibur: A 3D fighting game and according to critics, darn near perfect. [32]
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater: Amazing physics. Deceptively simple game play. [32]

In Other News

  • Boris Yeltsin resigns as President of Russia, leaving Vladimir Putin as the acting President: . [34]
  • NATO bombs Yugoslavia: This is the first time NATO has attacked a sovereign country. [34][35]
  • John F. Kennedy, Jr. crashes his plane into the waters near Martha's Vineyard, killing himself, his wife and her sister: New pilot flying VFR at night over water. Guaranteed disaster, but it was just a short hop. [34]
  • The Aggie Bonfire collapses, killing 12: It is a 6 story tower of logs, a substantial construction project. (A sad day. We fly the Maroon and White at my house.--alexshrugged). [34]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1999, Wikipedia.

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