Monday, May 15, 2017

History: The Year is 2004

I've uploaded year 2004 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 Battle for Fallujah and the Start of ISIS -- Contributed by Alex Shrugged

* NATO expands to Russia's borders -- Contributed by Southpaw Ben

* Spirit and Opportunity Land on Mars -- 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 Battle for Fallujah and the Start of ISIS

Contributed by Alex Shrugged
Chris Kyle, the American Sniper, has been pulled from his SEALs unit to help out a new Polish anti-terrorist unit, the GROM. (GROM is an acronym that spells out "thunder" in Polish). They need a guide in Iraq that knows the needs of a special forces unit. Their mission is to find insurgents in Iraq. Yes, insurgents exist despite the best efforts to win their "hearts and minds". (Maybe midnight basketball would work!) The Fedayeen are Saddam Hussein supporters. The Shi'a radicals are trying to start a civil war, and the Sunni radicals in Fallujah are trying to do the same thing (along with Chechen rebels, believe it or not). Several Blackwater contractors have been burned to death, dragged through the streets and hung from a bridge in Fallujah. Another contractor has been decapitated by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (AH-boo moo-SOB awl zar-COW-we). His organization is called Monotheism and Jihad, but soon it is known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq. In a few years this organization will be called ISIS. Zarqawi's goals are somewhat different from Al-Qaeda. He hates Shi'a Muslims with a passion whereas Al-Qaeda is more easy-going. (Did I just say that?) He comes from a town in Jordon largely populated by Chechen refugees which may explain why there are so many Chechens in Fallujah now. US forces tried to take control of the city, but it became politically incorrect, so they let the new Iraqi government handle it. That was a mistake. Now it's time for round 2. A lot of people are going to die. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
OK. I'm not going through a blow-by-blow description of the battle of Fallujah. I recommend Patrick O'Donnell's book, "We Were One". O'Donnell follows the Marines house-to-house clearing Fallujah. It is not a book for kids. I also recommend Chris Kyle's book, "American Sniper". His account is less shocking. Regarding the actual creation of ISIS, it was a reaction to the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, but after 9-11 what would you have us do? Showing weakness is provocative too. Going further back in time, Al-Qaeda was a reaction to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The USA funneled weapons to the Afghan mujahideen. While I think that was illegal, they were willing to defend their land (unlike the recent Syrian refugees). I was willing to put something more powerful in their hands than a Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifle from World War 1. Some say that we should have never involved ourselves in the Middle East, but when was that decision made? That would be the Thomas Jefferson Administration. This is not going away any time soon. [9]

NATO expands to Russia's borders

Contributed by Southpaw Ben
On March 29, NATO made it's largest expansion ever, when it admitted Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. This expansion has caused relations with Russia to worsen, as they felt that the US had promised not to expand NATO following the fall of the USSR.[10][11]
My Take by Southpaw Ben
Russia has always been a paranoid country, so any move that could be viewed as threatening Russian soverenty is almost always viewed as such. Various sources agree that the US had never promised not to expand NATO, it had simply given them assurance about it. To me, this sounds like the exact same thing, but apparently to policy experts, there's a world of difference between them. Leave it to politics to make 2 words that mean the same thing mean different things, or, as Jack said last week, make 2 words with entirely different meanings mean the exact same thing.

Spirit and Opportunity Land on Mars

Contributed by Alex Shrugged
With so many past failures on Mars missions, and budget cuts on the way, NASA wanted to make sure that this next mission was a winner. They had already sent a smaller rover, Pathfinder, on a very limited mission. Instead of using rockets to land the spacecraft they used airbags and bounced their way to a landing on Mars. Now NASA wants a larger mission with a bigger rover, but the extra weight means larger, tougher airbags for the bounce. The airbags might even burst. After a lot of worrying, they decide to send two rovers on separate flights, Spirit and Opportunity. In this way at least one of them will make it... probably. NASA hits the jackpot. On January 4th, Spirit lands on Mars in what appears to be a dry lake bed. It's 90 sol mission (that is, 90 Mars days) is to determine whether water once flowed across Mars. (It did.) A few weeks later Opportunity comes bouncing across Mars. By pure luck, it lands inside an impact crater. It has a similar 90 sol mission. Even though these missions have a set time for completion, they usually last much longer. In this case a LOT longer. Spirit will continue for the next 7 Earth years. Some time in the middle of that the rover will get caught in soft sand. It will continue it's mission but remain immobile. Opportunity's mission will continue for at least 13 more years. As of this writing it is still going. It is a rolling testament to good engineering. [12] [13] [14] [15] [16]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
It you have a chance, watch the movie, "The Martian". It is based on the self-published book by Andy Weir. Although the opening scene is total BS (Bad Science) the rest of it is an amazing story of improvisation in the midst of disaster. The book is even better, although I'm afraid there is a lot more cursing in it. Forgivable under the circumstances. I listened to an interview with the author. He went through a number of rewrites because he kept killing off his character due to bad choices made early on that led to a dead end in more ways than one. The author had to figure out a different path, and in doing so he found out how to survive on Mars... for a little while anyway. The point is that he didn't survive the first time through even though he had a fairly good plan ahead of time. Once he went through his plan in detail, step-by-step, he found the subtle flaws and bad assumptions he made early on. It's a good lesson. The other lesson is that if you have a good idea for a book, don't wait too long for a publisher to realize it. Write. Collaborate. Self-publish. It can work. [17] [18]

Notable Deaths

  • Ronald Reagan (age 93, pneumonia): President of the United States. Headstone inscription: "I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph and that there is purpose and worth to each and every life." [19]
  • Yasser Arafat (age 75, massive stroke, but rumors abound): President of the Palestinian National Authority. [20] [19]
  • Theo van Gogh (age 47, assassination): Film-maker and anti-Islamist columnist especially after 9-11. (He made a film entitled "Submission" revealing Islamic violence against women.--alexshrugged) [19]
  • Rodney Dangerfield (age 82, complications after surgery): Comedian. Headstone inscription: "There goes the neighborhood." [19]

This Year in Film

  • Shrek 2: The largest grossing animated film to date, but Shrek 3 will beat it. [21]
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban! [21]
  • The Passion of the Christ: The final 12 hours of the life of Jesus. (A powerful film.--alexshrugged) [21]
  • And...: The Incredibles, National Treasure, and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. [21]

This Year in TV

  • Janet Jackson has a wardrobe malfunction during the Superbowl halftime show: Aside from Jackson's partial nudity, Justin Timberlake sang "I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song." (The FCC fined CBS $550,000, but the fine was overturned on appeal.) [22]
  • Dan Rather steps down from CBS News: His "fake news story" regarding President Bush's Vietnam service gets Dan the boot. (The so-called National Guard documents were so obviously forged, it brought into question Rather's professional objectivity... and gullibility.--alexshrugged) [22] [23] [24]
  • The Apprentice (You're Fired!): Donald Trump assigns business tasks to contestants for the ultimate job interview as his new apprentice. [22]
  • Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: Rebuilding the homes of people in need. [22]

This Year in Music

FYI, at this point in my life I am mostly listening to talk radio, so if you see something here, that makes no sense... well... fix it.--alexshrugged
  • My Boo: Usher and Alicia Keys. (According to the Urban Dictionary, a "Boo" is a boyfriend or girlfriend.) [25] [26]
  • Sunrise: Nora Jones. "Sunrise, sunrise / Looks like mornin' in your eyes" [25]

This Year in Video Games

FYI, at this point in my life I am well past video games, so if you see something that makes no sense... well... fix it.--alexshrugged
  • Half-Life 2: Last year the source code was stolen, so release was delayed until now. [27]
  • Halo 2: The sequel to "Halo: Combat Evolved" which is also selling well this year. [27]
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: The highest selling game for the PlayStation 2 to date. [27]

In Other News

  • SpaceShipOne reaches space: It is a privately-funded space plane, so it wins the X-Prize. [28] [23]
  • One of the largest tsunami's ever observed, kills over 200,000: It hits Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. [29] [23][30]
  • Suicide bombers blow up a train station in Madrid, killing 191: Basque separatists are blamed. (I think it was Islamic terrorists.--alexshrugged) [31][32] [23] [33]
  • Mount St. Helens is building a dome again: It blew its top 24 years earlier. [23][34]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 2004, Wikipedia.

No comments:

Post a Comment