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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For November 22, 2010.  Twenty years ago today, the city of Kissimmee, Florida put a new proposed ordinance to a vote.  If passed, theaters could not sell tickets for movies with the new NC-17 rating to minors.  I talk about the fate of that proposal, and offer a history of the MPAA's rating system for movies as well as two other ratings systems -- for video games and TV shows -- which have been instituted in the last twenty years.

For a look at the politics behind the MPAA's system as well as its unwritten rules, I highly recommend This Film Is Not Yet Rated (which was itself originally rated NC-17 but surrendered that rating in favor of being released unrated).

Direct download: 20yearsago_166_112210.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:03am EDT
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Sunday, October 3, 2010. Twenty years ago today, the nations of East Germany and West Germany, separated for 45 years, reunited as one nation.  I take a look at this event, which was the biggest step toward the end of the Cold War to that time, and reflect on how Germany -- and the world -- has changed since then.

 

Direct download: 20yearsago_165_100310.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:06pm EDT
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It was four years ago tomorrow -- on October 3, 2006 -- that the first episode of "It Was 20 Years Ago Today" hit the podcast feed. Tomorrow -- October 3, 2010 -- the show returns with our first new episode since November 2009.

In the coming weeks I'll be looking at an unexpected winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the origin of one of the Internet's most famous institutions, the end of political eras in the UK and Haiti, the birth of the World Wide Web, and many more.

Join me tomorrow for a look at German reunification, 20 years on.

 

Category:Announcements -- posted at: 3:50pm EDT
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The "It Was 20 Years Ago Today" podcast is going on an indefinite hiatus.  The show will come back -- right now, though, I can't say exactly when.

I'm making this official, as I am trying to reorganize myself, set my priorities, and admit that there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do -- let alone do it well.  For a little more about that, and what my big priorities for the new year are, please check out my personal blog, Sailbourne.

I do plan to continue work on the "It Was 20 Years Ago Today" book, compiling the scripts of the first 164 episodes (plus additional episodes that didn't make it to the feed).  When the podcast returns, we'll have a new blog and website.

Watch this space for news and updates, and please be sure to check out my Sailbourne blog and the Ollin Productions website for more on what I'm doing during the hiatus.

Best wishes to all of you for a happy and healthy 2010, and thank you all for your support!

Category:Announcements -- posted at: 5:24pm EDT
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Thursday, November 19, 2009. Twenty years ago today, the US national soccer team qualified for the World Cup tournament, for the first time in forty years. Paul Caligiuri's goal, which won the match for Team USA, quickly became known as "the shot heard 'round the world," and it changed the way Americans looked at soccer.

Click here for a YouTube clip which shows the ESPN SportsCenter coverage of the match, including Caligiuri's goal.


Direct download: 20yearsago_164_111909.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:55am EDT
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Sunday, October 18, 2009.  Anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area who owned a Far Side page-a-day calendar would have found the cartoon for twenty years ago today prescient -- and downright creepy.  I describe that cartoon, and talk about some of the big changes that happened to San Francisco and Oakland's transportation infrastructure as a result of the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Direct download: 20yearsago_163_101809.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:00am EDT
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