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 Road to Deep Water Oil Drilling is Paved with Good Intentions -- Contributed by Alex Shrugged
* Missile Launch! Missile Launch! -- 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 Road to Deep Water Oil Drilling is Paved with Good IntentionsContributed by Alex Shrugged
Something has gone terribly wrong in the Gulf of Mexico. BP's DeepWater Horizon oil rig has suffered a blowout, killing 11. The oil rig sinks, dragging the riser (or pipeline) along with it. The pipe is leaking like crazy, and after 86 days, it will become the largest oil spill in history (to date). The blowout is in deep water, so capping the well is no easy task. It all boils down to closing off the "blowout preventer" valve at the base of the riser. (That is not a joke.) They finally lower a large chamber that bolts to the top of the "blowout preventer" with a value that they can close. Meanwhile gobs of black tarry mess reach the coasts of Louisiana. Containment booms that look like large inflatable pool toys try to keep the mess away from the coasts. Environmentalists complain that this is an ill-conceived plan. (True enough, but what is the alternative? A 5-year environmental study?) Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) complains that politics are interfering with the clean up effort. Eventually Jindal starts his own coastal protection plan by building barrier islands which are large berms of sand. Chemical dispersants are sprayed over the water. Many see the cure as worse than the disease. Four years later the cleanup effort will be ongoing. BP will make the largest settlement in US history, over $18 billion. Total costs to BP as of 2015 (including clean up) will be over $54 billion.             
HeadingContributed by Southpaw Ben
Missile Launch! Missile Launch!Contributed by Alex Shrugged
Well... maybe not. Southern Californians are used to seeing strange contrails in the sky. Vandenberg Air Force Base has a spaceport where they launch rockets regularly. Occasionally, these launches go bad, and make some spectacularly beautiful contrails in the evening sky. However, this evening the contrail is moving in the wrong direction. It appears to have launched from somewhere off the coast. One wonders if a missile submarine is missing one of its nuclear bombs. A local traffic helicopter captures video of the event. Whatever it is, it is clearly moving and soon disappears. Did we just dodge a bullet, or was it an optical illusion?      
Notable BirthsNone that I can find.--alexshrugged
- Robert Byrd (age 92, natural causes): Senator and former KKK recruiter. (Although he disavowed the KKK, he continued to use racist language in public.--alexshrugged) 
- Howard Zinn (age 87, heart attack): American historian. (His history had a point of view... as does mine.--alexshrugged) 
This Year in Film
- Toy Story 3: Introduces the cowgirl character: Jessie. 
- Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland: (Weird, but I liked it.--alexshrugged). 
- And the animated...: Shrek Forever After, Tangled, Despicable Me, and How to Train Your Dragon. 
This Year in TV
- Discovery Channel's Dual Survival: Cody Lundin and Dave Canterbury use their different survival philosophies in various environments. (I stopped watching after Canterbury left the show.--alexshrugged) 
- AMC's The Walking Dead: Zombies. (As I recall, the first episode begins with blowing the brains out of a little kid.--alexshrugged) 
- TLC's Sister Wives: Kody Brown and his multiple wives ignore centuries of experience with this practice. (I've seen clips. It's painful to watch.--alexshrugged) 
This Year in Music
- The Hope for Haiti Now telethon raises $61 million for earthquake relief: (How much of it actually made it to Haiti is a different question.--alexshrugged) 
This Year in Video Games
- Halo: Reach: It is called the best Halo yet. 
- God of War III: Adam Sessler of X-Play liked it. (Who am I to argue?--alexshrugged) 
- The "Humble Bundle" is "pay-what-you-want" video games from Wolfire: They make millions simply offering value-for-value. 
- Microsoft Kinect can see your gestures and hear your commands: (What could go wrong with that?--alexshrugged) 
In Other News
- The jobs market hits bottom at 129,655,000 employees on the payroll: This is down over 8 million from 3 years ago. 
- President Barack Obama signs the Democrat "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" into law: Not a single Republican voted for it. (FYI, an earlier version of the bill was supported by 1 Republican, but that bill was replaced with a new bill using the same name.--alexshrugged)  
- Within 36 minutes, the Dow Jones plummets 998.5 points: This is attributed to a feedback loop in computer trading programs. (In other words, you set a condition to sell a stock if it reaches a certain price, but selling usually pushes the stock price even lower. This triggers further computer selling, and so forth.--alexshrugged)