Episode #169 -- Women's World Cup Final

Wednesday, November 30, 2011.  Twenty years ago today, the USA Women's National Team won the inagural FIFA Women's World Cup tournament.  They have been a dominant force in the women's game ever since.  I talk about the status of women's soccer in the United States since that first big win, why I think the women's game is even better than the men's, and my experience seeing Team USA play right here in Portland a few weeks ago.

The picture is of one of the stars of the present team, Abby Wambach.

Direct download: 20yearsago_169_113011.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:05am EDT
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20 years ago today, Joe and I were celebrating our first anniversary.  It had been a challenging year, but we'd made it through, and we decided to celebrate by visiting one of our favorite restaurants at the time, the Cardinal diner, for an early supper.  It wasn't far from home, just down the street at the corner of Meridian and Hillsdale Avenues.  (In 1991 it was quite new -- it had a look that nowadays is called "retro" with a lot of brass and red glittery vinyl seating.  It apparently closed sometime last year, more's the pity.)  Just before we left a news report came on the television about a fire in the Oakland hills.

When we returned, no more than two hours later, we turned on the television and the local stations were all broadcasting images that looked like a classical version of Hell -- flames lighting the night sky in blazing ribbons and clouds of luminous smoke; tall trees ablaze from root to crown, and sometimes exploding.  We were watching the Oakland Hills firestorm, an incredible disaster that, before it was finally controlled some 72 hours after it began, destroyed over 3700 homes, killed 25 people and injured some 150.

Many of the awesome (in the original sense of the word) images of that night are still very accessible in my mind's eye, but for those who never saw (or don't remember) the firestorm, the SFGate has put up a small slideshow which captures it and its aftermath.  They also have an article which focuses on one family, their tragedy and recovery.

Over the years since we have occasionally joked about what sort of karma we had, that on our first anniversary the Oakland hills burned up.  There are a fair share of notorious events that have taken place on October 20 in years past: the Saturday Night Massacre, the opening of the HUAC hearings, the Johnny Bright incident.  But a few pretty cool ones too:  The Police played their first US show in 1978; Jacqueline Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis in 1968.  As I say in the show close, every day has a multitude of stories.  October 20, more than maybe any other day in the year, is the day that I go looking for them.

Category:text recollections -- posted at: 7:37pm EDT
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Monday, October 3, 2011.  Twenty years ago today, Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas announced he was running for President.  This was only a few months before the primaries and caucuses began -- impossibly late, by comparison today.  I take a look at what's different now and offer my opinion about the near-constant state of Presidential campaigns today.

Direct download: 20yearsago_168_100311.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:15am EDT
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Episode #167 -- The World Wide Web

Saturday, August 6, 2011.  Twenty years ago today, the very first Web site went online.  Hard to believe, maybe, but true!  Here are a few links to some of the things I talked about in the episode.

Tim Berners-Lee's posting to alt.hypertext announcing the existence of the World Wide Web

Some Internet usage statistics from the Huffington Post and the UK Office for National Statistics

An early version of that very first web page (from the World Wide Web Consortium)

The image is an early version of the World Wide Web logo designed by Robert Caillieau.

Direct download: 20yearsago_167_080611.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:13pm EDT
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Why the 20 Years Ago Podcast Is Coming Back

I bring a lot of my own memory and experience to the history in “It Was 20 Years Ago Today.”  It’s fascinating because I can look back at events which I knew at the time were world-changing.  But, even more interesting, I can also look at events which were, on the day, not a big deal at all -- yet over the course of time prove to be the heralds of transformation in our lives.  More than perhaps anyone could have imagined.

In August of 1991, there were examples of both kinds of events.  An attempt to overthrow the government of the Soviet Union failed. A physicist at a research lab in Switzerland told a group of computer scientists about a new networking protocol he’d worked out, and a Finnish student told fellow computer nerds about a new operating system he was developing.  

We all knew, I think, that the USSR was on the way out.   A scant four months later, it ceased to exist entirely.  But did anyone even dream of the transformation those two technologies would work on the world?  For one thing, without the World Wide Web and Linux, you wouldn’t be reading these words.

Join me for all of this and more in new editions of “It Was 20 Years Ago Today,” coming this weekend.

Category:Announcements -- posted at: 3:29am EDT
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(This is the first of what may become a series of short text postings, on events for which I wasn't able to write and record a complete podcast, for whatever reason. --jamie)

Today is Friday, June 10, 2011.

Twenty years ago today, an 11-year-old girl named Jaycee Dugard was snatched off the street as she was waiting for a school bus, shoved into a car and driven away.  Despite the fact that her abduction was witnessed -- by her stepfather -- and a good description of both the car and the kidnapper was given to the police almost immediately, it wasn't enough.

But unlike so many cases of child abduction, when the victim is found dead -- or never found at all -- Dugard was found.  It took 18 years to do it; for all that time, she had been held prisoner by the couple who abducted her, Phillip and Nancy Garrido.  

I do have some memory about Jaycee Dugard’s disappearance in 1991; it was pretty big news in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time.  As with Michaela Garecht and many others before her, the memory of Jaycee Dugard slowly faded from the awareness of all but a few -- family, friends, perhaps the police.  Theirs was the struggle to come to terms with the idea that she was gone forever, or to keep the hope alive that she would be found some day.

And if this particular posting has a theme, it would be that hope -- hope beyond reason, beyond sense if you like.  Hope that sometimes is lost, sometimes set aside just to cope with the never-ending press of day-to-day life.  Hope that, against all the odds, is rewarded now and then, as it was with Jaycee Dugard.

Just a few weeks ago, the trial of the Garridos ended abruptly when both of them changed their pleas to guilty. Twenty years from now, they will both be still in prison -- and we can hope we will all have forgotten them.

Category:text recollections -- posted at: 7:03pm EDT
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