15 crucial and overlooked events of the past 30 years

watsonHistory is often trapped in a rut of grand political narratives. Elections, wars, dynasties, the conquests of “great men;” seldom do we peer past this pageant to see the machinery at work in the background. Look carefully at the past few decades and a bright picture emerges from the haze.

Almost none of these events were worth noting when they occurred. Many of them failed to make the news in any form. Yet our lives today are products of these evolutionary pivots.

1988 – James Hansen testifies in Congress on the human role in climate change.

Hansen’s testimony marks the beginning of public awareness of the problem of climate change. The OMB would later attempt to muzzle his conclusions. He would appeal for help from the Senate’s foremost advocate for science and technology, Al Gore.

1989 – Rick Perry becomes a Republican.

Perry’s conversion launched the final phase of the flight of the Dixiecrats into the GOP. He would go on to be Texas’ longest-serving Governor.

1991 – George HW Bush signs the High Performance Computing Act, also called The Gore Bill, creating the Internet.

Yes Virginia, Al Gore “invented the Internet.” HPCA was the culmination of years of effort by the Tennessee Senator to make this government technology available to the public.

1992 – America’s first charter school, City Academy, opens in Minneapolis, MN.

Reformers struggling to make quality education available to inner city kids scored their first big coup in decades with the opening of the first charter school in Minneapolis. Their efforts remain incomplete, but this initiative remains a ripe and under-appreciated opening for conservatives to build allies in big cities.

1993 – Hawaii Supreme Court validates gay marriage.

Though thwarted a few years later by a ballot initiative, this move by Hawaii’s highest court brought attention to a cause that enjoyed very little support at the time. From here activists built a movement that would eventually change federal law.

1994 – Demolition begins at Cabrini Green in Chicago under a Hope VI grant.

Jack Kemp’s vision for ending the misery of inner city housing projects was finally put into policy under the Clinton Administration. His reforms played a crucial role in the revitalization of central cities all over the country, reversing decades of urban decline.

1994 – Monsanto introduces first genetically modified strain of soybean.

As genetic, mechanical, and industrial innovation in food production accelerates, we appear to have hit a milestone in the past decade. We may have reached “peak farmland,” the point at which our demand for arable land has peaked. GMO’s represent the next remarkable step in that chain of innovation and this soybean strain was a breakthrough. Almost all corn and soybeans are now GMO’s. With the development of the Crispr gene splicing technology, it is now possible to make fairly reliable edits to human genes.

1996 – Elizabeth Warren becomes a Democrat.

As the Republican Party veered right and South, an older strain of Republican thought gradually died out. When Republicans lost Elizabeth Warren, they lost the most popular and influential US Senator of the next generation. Along with her, they lost old Republican enclaves in places like California, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

1996 – Clinton signs directive to turn off the “selective availability” of the US Global Positioning system. In May 2000 GPS with full fidelity becomes commercially available.

Prior to this directive, global positioning was available for private use, but was deliberately skewed in ways that rendered it impractical for most commercial uses. This liberalization of US defense technology (again, pressed by Al Gore), changed the way we live.

1997 – Phillippe Kahn takes a picture of his newborn daughter on his cell phone and shares it with friends around the world, the first recorded example of cell photo sharing.

Kahn’s bulky, jerry-rigged camera phone was the precursor to something few people could imagine at the time – pervasive video documentation of our lives.

1999 – Spectrolab and the US DOE develop a solar cell with a 32% efficiency.

Not long ago it seemed there was no alternative to carbon fuels that would not create serious loss of productivity. Spectrolab’s breakthrough for the first time promised to put solar energy on a declining cost curve similar to other technologies.

1999 – Napster is released.

Perhaps the most remarkable development in modern art and music emerged from a few college dropouts playing around with Internet file sharing engines. By optimizing existing peer-to-peer technologies for a music format, they created an engine that made virtually every recording ever made available for search and download. Their technology was shut down within a few years, but it fostered an explosion in the availability and production of artistic works that continues to gain momentum.

2000 – President Clinton signs Phil Gramm’s Commodities Futures Modernization Act.

In the fevered final days of his Administration Clinton signed Senator Gramm’s signature achievement. The Act, augmented by two further Acts in the Bush Administration, would block federal oversight of commodities derivatives while allowing federally-insured institutions to invest in them. It was the CFMA that weaponized the derivatives industry, turning it into a bomb that would destroy the global financial system just a few years later.

2011 – IBM’s Watson computer defeats human contestants in Jeopardy.

A turning point in the advance of labor-saving technology, Watson was the first AI engine capable of competing with humans in thought-tasks beyond mere mathematical calculation. This breakthrough opened doors to new investment in AI and machine learning that, just a few years later, have made Watson seem…elementary.

2013 – George Zimmerman is acquitted after killing Trayvon Martin. Frustrated activists unite into the Black Lives Matter movement.

First came the hashtag #blacklivesmatter. And the rest is history.

What’s really happening out there today that will change the shape of tomorrow? We probably won’t find it in tomorrow’s headlines.

Water flowing underground…

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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171 comments on “15 crucial and overlooked events of the past 30 years
  1. rulezero says:

    Not a bad couple of weeks for the Dems. There are a few that are wringing their hands over a possible October Surprise from hacked material.


    • 1mime says:

      How do you feel about the actions WikiLeaks, rulezero?

    • formdib says:

      In some sad, wiped out way I’m sort of hoping that the public will be kinda burnt out by ‘hacked e-mails’ talk and will just not care. But that’s a bad wish to have, because they should care — not about what the e-mails contain (it’s going to be boring bureaucratic stuff like always, with the occasional nugget quote to take out to sell the narrative of terrible, awful, no good very bad things), but that Russia is gaining access to that information and trying to influence our elections.

      It’s already frustrating this last hack, people scoffing saying, “Haha, DNC is blaming it on Russia!” Uhhhh… yeah. Yeah they are. And then the quip, “If they can’t prove that Hillary’s e-mails weren’t stolen, how can they prove this is from Russia?” Well, the same way someone finds an unlocked door to an apartment but can’t prove that anything was stolen from inside, versus someone finding the door broken into and an emptied jewelry box broken across the floor.

      Then there’s fucking Julian Assange, “I have evidence that could get Hillary indicted _if the US has the guts to do it._ ” Please. If you have the evidence and you truly actually give a shit about democracy and transparency, why not just release it now? And great way to poison the well like Comey: make the lack of indictment a lack of guts, rather than a lack of evidence.

      Anyway, a recent Wikileaks hosted poll had Trump running 50% to Hillary 22%. Poll featured over 117,000 people:


      (Yes, I just linked Breitbart, because Breitbart is the type of rag to report these things. Where did I hear about this? From my Trump fan friend, who is a huge Breitbart fan.)

      This would lead me to believe that maybe the whole Wikileaks thing might not affect most people’s perceptions, really. Hillary’s ratings plummeted when AN FBI DIRECTOR chewed her out on stage for being careless. The DNC still gave Hillary a convention bounce despite Wasserman Schultz being outed publicly by Wikileaks.

      And it makes sense. I’ve been familiar with Wikileaks but after the first major dump that gave it its name, subsequent ‘leaks’ seem to be more the interest of redditor activists and media hype than actual matters of public interest (for better or for worse). Same thing with other stuff like Anonymous and bitcoin — is super interesting and exotic at first, until it turns out regular ol’ people are behind it and most of the True Believers are kinda nuts, and from there the exposure it gains has diminishing returns.


      Like all things, this crazy year, I’m not banking comfort and prophecy on my opinions above. I’ll guess we’ll have to wait and see, and in the meantime start discussing ways of dealing with the post-Wikileaks reality of democratic elections.

      • Chris L says:

        If this election cycle has proven anything, that technological and social advancement haven’t changed the fact that “the masses” as a whole have the memory and mercy of a largemouth bass. They forget slights as fast as they happen, and are willing to bite anything that motivates them, no matter the barbed consequences.

        The phrase “You can fool some of the people all of the time” in action, and tribal loyalties have become largely cemented as people outsource their own ability to think rationally to their media outlets.

        All Trump, and ‘international backers’ (direct affiliation is hardly mandatory anymore), have to do is wait until the tail end of October to throw out a new Conspiracy Theory on the world display and watch the little fishies bite. In Clinton’s case, it would take weeks, or months, to figure out that a “leaked email” was a hoax, and around 40% of America would believe the ‘proof’ to be a hoax.

        People aren’t tired in the least. They’re EATING anti-Trump headlines and using it like drywall to line their own little universes on either side.

      • 1mime says:

        Great metaphors, Chris…..and, sadly, very true. I read an article in the WSJ about the $400M payment to Iran. I could feel the sneer coming from the writers. But, then I peeked at the comments, and, lordy, lordy, was that revealing. These Hillary haters embrace every negative comment or story about her no matter what. And, yes, I think the Hillary camp must worry about a last minute accusation that doesn’t afford rebuttal or research to debunk. It’s become emblematic of those who feed off ugliness, especially as it relates to HRC.

      • 1mime says:

        Just as Russia has no business hacking the DNC emails, neither should Assange be so outspokenly partisan in either his comments or actions (vis a vis leaks) re American politics. What’s his beef with Clinton, anyway?

        Hopefully, the security apparatus will work and proof will be found that nails Russia or exonerates them….so we have a clear picture of what their role was in this mess. But for Assange to take such obvious joy in bringing down a U.S. presidential candidate is reprehensible.

      • formdib says:

        “neither should Assange be so outspokenly partisan”

        Assange isn’t just taking on Clinton but Trump as well: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/06/julian-assange-to-bill-maher-we-re-working-on-hacking-trump-s-tax-returns.html

        The problem is timing. Clinton has been a target since targets were a thing. Trump was probably not considered a serious target with any real power. Now that he does have a chance at the White House, Assange wants to attack him just as much as anyone else.

        In other words, he doesn’t care what damage he does to Clinton specifically, it’s the ‘system’ he’s attacking, which of course ends up hurting her more than Trump since Trump isn’t part of that system.

      • 1mime says:

        This may be naive, but isn’t it illegal to hack? At the very least, illegal to hack into official government accounts? How does Assange get away with this? Just so you know, I don’t think it’s right for Assange to hack Trump’s tax returns any more than it was right to hack Clinton’s or the DNC emails. How can someone make a legal living doing this?

      • formdib says:

        It is illegal, and Assange basically has to live life on the lam, currently placement in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Keep in mind, dudebro is also a rapist and antisemetic. He is not a good person or one of the ‘good guys’, and can be considered distinct from Edward Snowden who operated as a whistle blower for what Snowden considers principles based in American values.

        Both are complicated people that aren’t easily placed in right or wrong, but Assange is far more ‘criminal’ in intent than Snowden and his is an actual attempt to sabotage power structures the world over. He’s basically a digital anarchist.

        He’s funded by Wikileak related organizations and foundations, which means he’s basically crowdfunded. I’m sure he gets some of the biggest donations when he pisses off the enemies of someone’s enemy (like Russia possibly giving him big bucks every time he finds a juicy weak point in American politics), but it flies both ways and he’s probably as willing to do the same back at the funder.

        Considering our age differences I’m not sure if anyone in your generation ever gave the bullshit line, “I’m not racist, I’m an equal opportunity offender — I hate everyone equally!” Assange is that. Dude gives NO fucks about what power structure rises to replace the power structures he destroys, he only cares about destroying them where they currently exist.

      • 1mime says:

        Ah, I had forgotten about the asylum granted by Ecuadorian President (and American foe) Rafael Correa. It’s too bad that we can’t knock out his digital capabilities in order to shut his operation down.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi Formdib

        Assange as a “Rapist”
        He is accused of having sex with a girl he had been sleeping with for some time – the accusation has NOT been tested in court as he is (very understandably) refusing to return to Sweden as they will not agree not to ship him to the USA
        The accusation is widely considered to be laughable and more to do with a monetary payment to the girl
        The anti semitism accusation is similar in credibility – not very!!

        But you are right about “digital anarchist” and his “Tear it down” motivation
        Although saying that he does have a lot of justification for his
        “They are all out to get me” attitude

      • 1mime says:

        Assange: “They’re all out to get me”…

        I can understand why. What kind of sick person deliberately tries to bring down people who they do not know, and governments that are not his birthplace?

      • formdib says:

        “Although saying that he does have a lot of justification for his
        “They are all out to get me” attitude”

        ‘They all’, in fact, are out to get him, I would agree.

      • duncancairncross says:

        Hi 1mime
        You know my opinion on this
        I am with the Norwegians – ALL tax returns should be public documents!

        Which goes double for anybody in politics

  2. 1mime says:

    Lest we neglect our neighbors to the south who launched the 2016 Olympics tonight, here’s a pretty good guide from Vox:


  3. pbasch says:

    As for the charter schools thing… Aren’t they a workaround to de-unionize public schools? I understand the frustration some feel that, as teachers achieve seniority (and, presumably, greater skill) they want to be in cushier schools. So, rather than distribute funds more evenly, so that some schools aren’t that much cushier than others (politically difficult, given the power of parents in those districts), they make the teachers foot the bill by reducing their bargaining power. Making teachers work in lousy conditions for less pay is no different than making them buy the students’ school supplies. There are certainly problems with the unions’ ability to make (for example) due process for disciplined teachers last essentially forever, but it comes down to, are citizens willing to pay what it costs to educated children other than their own? And the answer is a resounding “no.” Making teachers bear that cost is unfair. We need a New Educational Deal that funds schools more evenly.

    • 1mime says:

      That is one of the steps our school board took in the 90s. We worked with our administrators and identified the schools with the greatest socio-economic need. Then, we created a special budget allocation using local tax revenue (the federal dollars were designated) whereby we provided additional financial assistance (materials of instruction, equipment, etc) as well as higher pay for instructional staff as well as more aides to assist teachers. I was most proud of this and to their credit, the administrators from more affluent situations were in total support. This is how targeting help based on need but with the buy in of all parties can succeed if we did more of it.

      • duncancairncross says:

        That is what we (NZ) do
        The wealth of the local area (where the kids come from) is assessed and schools in poor areas get MORE money

        Seems to work very well – in the UK it was very important to live in the correct school district but here there is very little variation in overall school performance

        There is still too much variation inside the schools – but we are working on it

      • 1mime says:

        When the people who are responsible for success are meaningfully involved in shaping their work environment, trust develops and everyone is working towards the same goal. It will never be perfect, as you note, but it can always be better….and with our children’s future involved, it must be.

    • 1mime says:

      About your question about charter schools….”Aren’t they a workaround to de-unionize public schools?” Lifer was explicit that charter schools offered “an opportunity for conservatives to build allies in big cities.” Conservatives have long advocated for vouchers. They have not been successful in winning that battle thus the Charter School “work around”. They don’t believe public education works well, don’t want tax payer dollars wasted on same, and they prefer that each family be allowed to use their pro rata per student tax allocation to attend the school of their choice. THAT is a whole other subject for another day, but, yes, in addition to many fallacies, it clearly would kill unions, unions that support Democrats. Charter schools function like private schools in that their admission requirements limit enrollment, but there are examples of fine programs. It is fair to state that the academic record is very mixed…and their financial accounting, generally very poor.

      • unarmedandunafraid says:

        This is an area that I would be willing to compromise with the Right. Vouchers for everyone. But with stipulations.

        1) The vouchers must be at some equal and adequate amount for every student within the state. No local taxes allowed.

        2) The funding will be paid for by the state or federal government.

        3) Unions not required but not denied by legislation. (A fresh start for those districts that are hobbled by teacher firing rules.)

        4) Schools must accept and provide education for all, including those with disabilities and with behavior problems. (Maybe enforced by percentages.)

        5) All present rules about religion apply, of course.

        Some or all of these thoughts on vouchers/school choice are probably not workable. But I’m sure that school “reformers” would refuse these ideas from the start, even though these ideas would allow the improvements they say they want.

        Advantages as I see them, great way to get away from property tax funding, equalized funding for all districts.

        Disadvantages for liberals, losing the strength of teacher unions. ?


      • 1mime says:

        Unarmed, those are fine ideas, but if the goal is to eliminate property taxes for funding public education, I don’t think that is possible, and I don’t agree that it is desirable. Communities need to have a stake in the education of their children. Now, do I think the funding formulas are fair? Not in TX. The biggest problem with vouchers is that they were a vehicle that purported to be all about quality education for all and were principally vehicles for expanded segregation. The growth of private schools in the south following Brown V Board of Education is remarkable for its acceleration of “white flight”. This was always about race. Anyone who says otherwise is either in a very unique situation, or they’re not being honest.

        The basic problem with vouchers (there are many but I’ll focus on the big one) is that when tax revenue follows the child vs “trickling down through federal,state, local control), this “could” open up opportunities but the receiving schools wanted to retain control of admission. They didn’t want Black students, students with behavior problems (who does?), students who weren’t academically at parity with their standards….etc, etc….so the playing field in education was not level. It was patently unfair.

        But, yes, your ideas have merit and if ever America decided to put all ideas on the table, vouchers should be part of the discussion. Not with selective admission, however, and not with racial and special needs children exclusions.

      • Fair Economist says:

        I don’t think vouchers are inherently unworkable. The problem, though, is that “parent choice” isn’t normally based on a better school, because it’s hard to know what makes a school better. It usually ends up sorting based on class or race.

        My city effectively has had school choice due to No Child Left Behind (which allows transfers from “failing” schools, which is now the vast majority in the country due to the crazy standards). The result is that some schools have only poor Hispanics, and everybody else sorts to the rest. Is there any improvement in education? I don’t think there’s any net benefit. Maybe the transferrers benefit at the cost of those left behind. Not sure what’s going to happen now that NCLB has been replaced.

      • 1mime says:

        Fair, I’ve been following vouchers since the concept was more openly promoted in the 80s. Vouchers “can” work but to achieve the “stated” goal of improving educational access to a quality education, they have failed. This is a subject that we need a deeper discussion than appropriate for this blog topic. Suffice it to say, the real issue for conservatives is tax support for public education in lieu of allowing the money to follow the child. Broadly speaking, it is a great idea. In practice, private education benefits. A parallel can be found in privatization of prisons. Think that’s gone well? After a great deal of study and some limited involvement with this concept, I am unconvinced that vouchers work as well for students as it does for subsidizing private institutions. In reality, a mix of targeted vouchers (specifically for disadvantaged or special needs students), magnate programs, charter schools, private schools and public schools is the answer, but it needs to be fair and children need to be the beneficiaries, not private companies or church based programs. America needs to have a big conversation on education. There is so much we could be doing to help our kids start well and become productive members of society….Spent a lot of years in this arena. Two steps forward, one back…

        I was directly involved in a similar shifting of students from one school to another school via the majority/minority transfer allowed under a court-ordered desegregation of a public school district. In this instance, the courts drove the student placement, with parents having less control but some. Interestingly, the kids who typically took advantage of this were kids who were outstanding in their sport (and would thus “help” the receiving school – in fact these athletes were ‘sought out’ and encouraged to transfer), and strong and financially secure students who would have succeeded regardless but would benefit from inclusion in a more diverse population with more academic competition.

        If Lifer ever posts a blog on the topic of public education, vouchers, charter schools, magnet schools, I’ll share more on the subject.

    • RobA says:

      I always thought the charter school.movement was the religious right who didn’t want their kids to go to godless public schools and learn about heathen ideas like evolution, the big bang, and critical thinking, but didn’t want to pay for private schools.

      • 1mime says:

        No, I don’t think that is correct. In their purest form, Charter Schools were created to allow disadvantaged children to attend an alternative school rather than their l”zoned” neighborhood schools. The concept expanded to special curricula focus, sort of the “magnet” concept. The concept can work, but the concept fundamentally replaces the neighborhood school and there is resentment from public school administrators who feel the admission requirement affords an unfair advantage. Was it JG who stated his children attend a successful diverse charter school in Houston?

      • 1mime says:

        I need to expand upon my answer as to whether charter schools were designed for the religious right – there was some of that but I really believe its original goal was to provide an alternative educational model. With the growth of the religious right and racial animus, it is fair to assume that there are charter schools whose purpose is segregation by race and faith, but that is not how the concept started.


    • duncancairncross says:

      Re – tenure
      In most of the world ALL workers have “tenure” – which basically means that in order to fire somebody they must have
      committed some sort of offense
      Or be incompetent AND have that pointed out to them so that they have a chance to fix it

      We (the rest of the world) manage fine like that
      Tenure is more usually an excuse for incompetence on the part of the administarators

      • 1mime says:

        It’s both in America, Duncan. It is very difficult to discharge incompetent teachers and administrators, and we also don’t do a quality job of preparing, mentoring, placement and supporting our teachers. We give them too many students with diverse abilities with too few tools to help them. We place young, inexperienced teachers in the most challenging schools as their first job. We essentially set up many teachers to fail. The Master Teacher programs have been a huge success where implemented and teacher unions are all for this. There are unreasonable teacher unions, there are reasonable teacher unions who make some unreasonable demands, and then there are teacher unions who focus on making the teaching profession one that benefits children and professionals. It’s not an all or none situation as so many who abhor any unionization promote. I have worked with teacher unions and was very successful in my interaction. I think teaching is one of the most undervalued, most important professions of all. But, yes, there are “bad” teachers just like there are “bad” lawyers. In a child’s world, they must be weeded out.

  4. dowripple says:

    Another overlooked event for the future: the date that Lifer moved his blog to this format, which ushered in a new age of congenial internet networking and a free exchange of ideas bereft of the toxic partisanship that had plagued our political process through the 2024(?) elections. 🙂

  5. Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

    2012 & 2014 – Unto the world, Homer’s children were born.

    Very little media coverage of the events at the time, but as we march forward, I’m confident much of the world will look back and ponder, “Why? Why god, why?”

  6. RobA says:

    So now that Trumps whole scampaign is coming totally unglued, there’s got to be some fascinating game theory type strategy sessions for establishment GOP types that have endorsed Trump (Ryan, McCain etc).

    The tricky part is, nobody wants to put out their neck first, lest Trump somehow pull this off. But at the same time, the rewards for unendorsing will diminish as OTHER GOPe types unendorse. So nobody wants to go to early. But when it becomes obvious Trump is done (which is very near) all of a sudden. These types will fall over each other trying to get out first, so as to look like a leader and not a follower.

    I think theres a good chance a major figure will unendorse in the next few days, esoecially as the polls are showing the electorate is finally getring sick of Trumpa shit. And if that happens, then the avalanche will start.

    Good times, good times

  7. If Trump manages to screw things up just a little bit more (inconceivable, I know), he risks putting otherwise Republican strongholds like South Carolina, Mississippi and Texas into play, says Josh Barro.


    If true, Clinton’s edging into Reagan-esque landslide territory.

    • 1mime says:

      Trump’s latest hallucination that he “saw” the plane unloading the “hostage” money is all over the news. He can’t keep walking absurdities like this back.

      I continue to ask those who are planning to vote for Trump: what will it take to understand that this man is seriously, dangerously flawed.

    • RobA says:

      Clintons up by 6 in Georgia.

      Trump could destroy the Southern Firewall.

      • pbasch says:

        Don’t be complacent. You never know what will happen between now and Nov 8.

      • 1mime says:

        Agree. Remember/notice: Trump has not even begun to campaign seriously against HRC. No ads out, he’s not been focused on her as much as himself. That is going to change quickly, and when it does, her lead will show it. Do not get complacent. The “hate Hillary” crowd is out there and they vote!

      • Bobo Amerigo says:


      • >] “Agree. Remember/notice: Trump has not even begun to campaign seriously against HRC. No ads out, he’s not been focused on her as much as himself. That is going to change quickly, and when it does, her lead will show it. Do not get complacent. The “hate Hillary” crowd is out there and they vote!”

        I can appreciate Trump’s scorched earth politics and what they might inflict on Clinton, and certainly we should take nothing for granted and get out every single vote that we can muster.

        That said however, The Donald couldn’t have picked a worse time to have, IMO, the lowest point of his entire campaign, and that’s really saying something. This is when people’s opinions are being baked in and if we get past Labor Day being more or less where we are now; barring a political earthquake, there isn’t much that can be done to change America’s opinion at that point.

        So you tell me how we should expect Trump to go after Clinton when nary a week can go by that he isn’t saying or doing something to dominate the headlines and make it all about him, him, him.

      • 1mime says:

        I can’t give you an answer to that question, Ryan. I will, however, offer this Boston Globe journalist’s view that this is a race that Trump should be winning. Needless to say, I disagree with his premise of the Alan Abramowitz model being accurate in this election, but, I do agree with most of the rest of his assumptions. The data about the economy, presidential popularity just doesn’t correlate.


      • RobA says:

        Mime, from that article:

        “Why? Because the weak US economy encourages a “throw the bums out” attitude among voters, and the “bum” in the White House happens to be a Democrat.”

        By most metrics, the US economy is doing quite well and the sitting Prez also quite popular. Are they just taking Trumps statements at face value?

      • 1mime says:

        Who knows. Those were the cornerstones of the Abramowitz theory and current conditions belie them. Of course, if you are a conservative, you may feel the economy is terrible as is President Obama. Beats me. I gave up trying to get inside the head of conservatives long ago. You don’t have to look any further than the ZIKA funding issue which Republicans are using as a propaganda tool.

      • >] “Needless to say, I disagree with his premise of the Alan Abramowitz model being accurate in this election, but, I do agree with most of the rest of his assumptions. The data about the economy, presidential popularity just doesn’t correlate.”

        There’s a whole bunch of problems with that article, IMHO, but the cardinal sin would seem to come down to its premise on presumed economic factors and historical precedent.

        We’re in a time that is upending precedent in this country. The white share of the vote is declining rapidly and the consolidation of Democrats’ strength behind the Blue Wall (while not put to the test this year nor, perhaps, even in 2020) virtually guarantees them the presidency, save for some earth-shattering collapse on their part.

        Our economy is hardly setting records, but it’s strong and unemployment has reached lows that Reagan would’ve killed for.

        That’s not to say that history doesn’t provide a guide, but we have to always take that guide with a grain of salt and keep our sights focused on what’s right in front of us. The times, they are a-changin’

      • 1mime says:

        Agree. It simply amazes me that professionals put things out like this without correlation to current events! The author’s other points were interesting in that it was a peek in the GOP window as to why they feel/felt their chances for winning this election were/are so strong. And, heck, who knows what will happen, even though I know what “should” happen given the choices before us.

        Can’t help but marvel at the Olympics where the countries of the world manage to put politics aside for the opportunity to showcase world class athletes. Inspiring.

  8. Sir Magpie De Crow says:

    To Chris aka GOPlifer:

    Just want to say… Kudos! Great vid by Talking heads. I once saw a couple of years ago a white haired David Byrne perform this song. He had these dancers perform acrobatic feats of daring-do on office chairs, sliding atop them at great speeds across the stage.

    Still crazy brilliant after all these years.

    I still heart the album “Remain in Light” to this day even as the foliage grows inside my nostrils.

    Now back to something less pleasant, this f**ked-up… human on welsh corgi atrocious… dumpster fire inside a nuclear meltdown… election.


    Saw this little story that in my view encapsulates the corruption and incoherence spreading on the right flank of the political spectrum.

    So-called loyal, conservative voters who have decided to thrown in their lot with Trump have signed up for all the worse things they have accused secular/liberal/democrats for years.

    These people are slurping down a milkshake of pure tyranny as produced by an authentic soda jerk.

    They are only for American freedom unless their chosen guy approves. If not, then tyranny should prevail.

    Because… ‘merica!

    I don’t want to hear a single conservative (and or white person) complain for the next 8 years about how black people blindly follow democrats into some modern day “welfare state plantation”. Especially after this election and the statements of support from Trump’s fans.

    I am not going to allow that bullsh*t to go unanswered

    “Protesters Ejected From Donald Trump Rally After Holding Up Pocket Constitutions
    The GOP nominee responded by calling them “rude.”


    Who would have thought being an relatively quiet advocate for constitutionalism would ever get you kicked out of a Republican political rally?

    They are gonna write books about this campaign for decades.

    • flypusher says:

      The holding up of the pocket Constitution is perfect. It’s a protest that does not interfere with the speaker.

      Someone that easily baited is unsuitable for the job.

      • Sir Magpie De Crow says:

        This may actually be that fabled “turning point” everyone keeps talking about in regard to Donald Trump in the general election. Have you seen Peggy Noonan’s editorial on this recent reversal of fortune for the GOP’s nominee?

        It’s title is “The Week They Decided He Was Crazy”. maybe people will listen to the lady who wrote speeches for Ronald Reagan.

        Pretty perfect. And that a principled Muslim citizen was the catalyst for this epic meltdown… it is the karma he and his supporters so richly deserve.

      • 1mime says:

        When conservative Charles Krauthammer comes down on Trump, the die is pretty well cast. Yet, even Krauthammer feels Trump can save himself with a strong debate performance, although he isn’t betting on Trump being able to contain himself. The list of conservative critics is getting longer. Wall Street financial barons are turning more to HRC, not because they “like” her but because they feel she is at least qualified and knowledgeable about the industry….and, like Lifer, because she is a “safe” choice.

        Krauthammer: “His governing rule in life is to strike back when attacked, disrespected or even slighted. To understand Trump, you have to grasp the General Theory: He judges every action, every pronouncement, every person by a single criterion — whether or not it/he is “nice” to Trump.”

        Those who are still planning to vote For Trump/Against Hillary, really need to do some soul-searching. Any president who can be so easily “baited”, is unfit. Put country before party. Either don’t vote for POTUS, or, understand, that if you vote third party, you will drain votes from the one candidate who is the remaining “firewall” between Donald Trump and unmitigated disaster for America.


      • tuttabellamia says:

        I’ve always read that the sure-fire trait that gets a political candidate disqualified is just a hint of mental illness and instability, that voters usually vote for whom they consider stable, even if they disagree on policy.

      • Around 2006 Peggy Noonan wrote an article negative about G W Bush. She said all people want from their president is not to have to think/worry about what he is doing. I paraphrase but she went on to say we do not have that luxury with George. Usually Peggy is a Republican shill but even she has her limits. The question that begs being asked is “What too her so long?”

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, I think Trump’s most fervent supporters, the disenfranchised, simply feel that he and only he represents them, and they will defend him no matter what he says or does.

        It’s the borderline/undecided who may still cross the line and choose Hillary if Trump continues to say and do crazy things.

      • 1mime says:

        I believe that a large number of Trump voters are Never Hillary voters.

      • flypusher says:

        Krauthammer: “His governing rule in life is to strike back when attacked, disrespected or even slighted. To understand Trump, you have to grasp the General Theory: He judges every action, every pronouncement, every person by a single criterion — whether or not it/he is “nice” to Trump.”

        Krauthammer has always been Dr-super-hawk, national security, America must be strong, etc., etc. How is he so effing behind in his reasoning?????? He’s that wedded to the GOP-brand???? If national security is your biggest concern, you have no choice but to find Trump’s impulsive behavior extremely frightening. You must have a level-headed person as CIC.

      • flypusher says:

        “Mime, I think Trump’s most fervent supporters, the disenfranchised, simply feel that he and only he represents them, and they will defend him no matter what he says or does.”

        They worship him. They are a lost cause. I hope that the Dems will pitch economic policies that can help them, and I hope even more that they can actually try implementing them, but in terms of this election and getting votes, just write them off. You cannot reason with them.

    • 1mime says:

      I saw that on tv last night and thought, much better to have simply ignored these young people. On what basis were they removed? They were silent.

      On the video clip, did you note the ALL white male group on the stage behind Trump? This, of course, is deliberate. His campaign is going full-throttle for this slice of the electorate, but to make the pitch this obvious is new. No pretense here. In.your.face.

    • 1mime says:

      Speaking of books being written that speak to Trumperism. Here is an excellent article profiling two new works that help explain why poor White Americans are so angry, and what we should learn from their stories. Suffice it to say that Donald Trump has about as much genuine sympathy for the plight of these people as a gnat, but he is not as important as hearing their story. The Atlantic does a good job through their review of these two books on the subject.

      ” The demoralizing effect of decay enveloping the place you live cannot be underestimated. And the bitterness—the “primal scorn”—that Donald Trump has tapped into among white Americans in struggling areas is aimed not just at those of foreign extraction. It is directed toward fellow countrymen who have become foreigners of a different sort, looking down on the natives, if they bother to look at all.”

      Are we all complicit in looking the other way?


  9. objv says:

    In 1995 Amazon sold its first book.

    In 2016 Amazon has its tentacles in practically every area of my life.
    I visit the site daily.
    Packages arrive with regularity.
    I have two Kindles loaded with electronic books and I rarely read physical books anymore.
    Instead of the local paper, I read the Washington Post daily on one of my Kindles.
    My family and I will often watch Amazon Prime movies and shows in the evenings.

    Did many people notice when Jeff Bezos first sent off that first book from the business he started in his garage? Not me.

    • johngalt says:

      Amazon is certainly a good representation of e-commerce as a whole, enabled by Al Gore inventing the internet :). How many checks did those of you old enough to remember what those are write per month in 1992? How many years does that take to equal today? Pretty remarkable.

      • tuttabella says:

        I’ve gone back to paying my bills by check, sent via US mail, and reading print books, newspapers, and magazines. I missed the feel and smell of paper, and the “quiet” of being offline, not staring at a screen.

        Although a few minutes ago I ordered three used Nat King Cole albums — one vinyl and two CDs — from the.Amazon Marketplace.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Plus, I like buying from Amazon because I think it’s important to support minority-owned businesses. 🙂

      • objv says:

        Tutt, that’s exactly the same reason I buy from Amazon! 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        Ob, you and Tutta are full of it! Bezos is not a minority! And, Amazon is the coolest, most efficiently run, broadest inventory and best pricing online. THAT’s why we all shop Amazon (-;

        Just so you know a little more about how Bezos got his start….The guy’s brilliant but a River Oaks elementary education and degree from Princeton don’t exactly pose impediments to one’s opportunities…still, I admire the heck out of the guy for what he has created.


      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime: Mr. Bezos was adopted and raised by his Cuban stepfather, so he was “saddled” with a Hispanic surname. Therefore he qualifies as a disadvantaged minority. THAT’S why I buy from Amazon, to help my fellow raza. It’s all for a good cause. 🙂

      • 1mime says:

        Bezos’ saddle parlayed into a childhood home in River Oaks and summers spent on the family ranch with 2500 acres and a Princeton degree….Somehow, I fail to see that this posed any problem for him……..

      • objv says:

        Hmmm, Mime. I seem to remember someone with a childhood home in Hawaii raised by a bank vice president grandma who attended a prestigious private college prep school, Columbia University and Harvard. I suppose that that doesn’t disqualify him from being part of a disadvantaged minority ….

        BTW, I hope you don’t take Tutt’s and my gentle humor as serious.

        That goes for my dig at Homer as well.

      • 1mime says:

        I admit to being at very poor at picking up satire…..probably way too serious for my own good. I don’t, however, feel that Obama’s family circumstances are in any way comparable to Bezos but I do agree that both were fortunate to attend quality schools. Where we likely disagree is that both men have made significant contributions to our country in very positive ways.

        No, as to Homer…assumed he was kidding, as we all were in response.

    • goplifer says:

      You know, Amazon’s testing on drone-based delivery may end up making one of these lists someday, along with a self-driving truck convoy navigating across Europe earlier this year.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        This thread reminds me of the book CONNECTIONS, by James Burke, about how one event, development, or invention led to another. The saga continues.

      • 1mime says:

        It reminds me of the super PBS series, “How We Got to Now”, by Steven Johnson. I recall Fifty saying they had been classmates at some point…Great series if you haven’t watched it. Multi-generationsl, as well. Here’s a link.


      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime: I think it was Owl who went to school with Steven Johnson.

      • 1mime says:

        Possibly so…a long time ago, that’s for sure. I wonder if Johnson was as interesting at that point in his life as he is now….writing books, tv productions

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I think they went to high school together.

      • objv says:

        Lifer, it’s good that Amazon is exploring alternate delivery options.

        I know that Bezos, like Gore, is concerned about climate change. Ironically, having packages in cardboard boxes delivered directly to customers’ doors can’t be the most energy efficient or waste conscious way to go.

        In addition, I’m sure the FedEx delivery guy wasn’t too thrilled lugging a 30 lb. bag of dog food up my long, long driveway and up thirteen stairs to my front door!

    • Stephen says:

      I also use Barnes and Noble and Google for electronic books. We do not need another monopoly.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I agree. I buy most of my new books from Barnes and Noble brick-and-mortar stores (used books from Half Price Books), and my e-reader of choice is the Barnes and Noble Nook. I also really like Google Play books, and Google Play Music is my streaming service of choice.

        One thing I really like about Android apps and devices is that they’re better suited for older eyes — fonts and displays are bigger and more accessible.

        Darn you, Google, and your own monopoly.

      • 1mime says:

        Amazon offers audio books for those who have difficulty reading (Nook may as well.) In my book groups, there are a couple of ladies who depend upon this feature. Large print books are limited in availability in the libraries. Also, for people who have physical and/or neurological challenges, operating a Nook or Kindle or even “holding” a book/turning pages is a challenge, so this is a great option for them. As our population continues to “gray”, features like this will become ever more useful.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, I love audiobooks, and the best are from Audible, which is now owned by Amazon.

        I think audiobooks are also good for people of all ages who have reading disabilities, or who attend literacy classes.

    • 1mime says:

      Bezos bankers were watching. In fact, for years, as Amazon morphed into yet another creative new venture, his losses were often a topic of discussion on CNBC….Yet, his business plan and ideas were so intriguing and filled with promise, that his bankers held on….while holding their breath! His is truly a success story.

      Good addition, Ob. Amazon is ubiquitous now.

  10. RobA says:

    New national poll has Trump down 15.


    And down by 6 in Fla.

    • Stephen says:

      Trump has campaign in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach Florida. Idiot. This part of Florida is about like south Georgia, very red indeed. Large crowds for him there are meaningless.

      South Florida is Blue indeed. The center I-4 corridor is the swing area and will decide how Florida goes. Hillary has visited Orlando and Tampa multiply times. Smart lady.

      • 1mime says:

        His campaign manager may be more focused on assuaging Trump’s ego than expanding his base. After all, Trump is on campaign manager number two, things are not going well, and he may need some “stroking” to be kept happy. It’s difficult to correlate smart campaign planning with the campaign stops Trump is making…who’s making those decisions, and, why?

  11. Griffin says:

    I can’t think of anything else to add to this list off the top of my head so some fun facts about Mike Pence. You all probably already know he’s a rabid homophobe but apparently he also wants to return to the Gold Standard! And of his 90 standalone bills in Congress none became law (http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-07-13/mike-pence-s-record-scrutinized-ahead-of-trump-running-mate-decision)!

    If Trump managed to get himself impeached while in office this guy would be in charge of the country.

    Also not that I’m opposed to it but what’s with the sudden Al Gore love in this article I thought you hated Gore back in the day? Change of heart?

    • Griffin says:

      Though would the precedent set by the informal Hastert Rule being adopted by Republicans in the 90’s count as being “overlooked”? I would argue it was pretty significant but I can’t remember the 90’s so I don’t remember if it was overlooked or not.

      • I may be wrong but i thought the Hastert Rule was the Republican Speaker would not bring up a bill unless it had the majority of Republican votes in the House, not the required 218 to pass.If i am right, that is a big difference from the way it is interpreted now. Today the current version is used to stop virtually all progress. Of course, it does bite them in the butt sometimes, like now, with the Zika bill!

        “Under House rules, the Speaker schedules floor votes on pending legislation. The Hastert Rule says that the Speaker will not schedule a floor vote on any bill that does not have majority support within his or her party — even if the majority of the members of the House would vote to pass it. The rule keeps the minority party from passing bills with the assistance of a minority of majority party members. 218 votes are needed to pass a bill in the House; if the Democrats are the minority and the Republicans are the majority, the Hastert Rule would not allow 200 Democrats and 100 Republicans together to pass a bill, because 100 Republican votes is short of a majority of the majority party, so the Speaker would not allow a vote to take place.[7] However, the Hastert Rule is an informal rule and the Speaker is not bound by it; he or she may break it at his or her discretion. Speakers have at times broken the Hastert Rule and allowed votes to be scheduled on legislation that lacked majority support within the Speaker’s own party.”

      • 1mime says:

        If the Repubs don’t have enough votes to pass a bill, it is not calendared. This effectively shuts out amendments as well as clearly eliminates surprises on the floor. It’s a hideous bill and in my opinion, is unconstitutional. I think House Democrats should sue the GOP (just as the House Repubs sued Obama) over this rule. Even with a 4-4 split on SCOTUS, I cannot see how any justice could rule in favor of this procedural tactic.

  12. tuttabellamia says:

    Lifer how about:

    1988: Foxconn opens its first mainland-China manufacturing plant in Shenzhen, making it among the first foreign companies to establish operations in China. Today this plant is Foxconn’s largest, employing between 300,000 and 450,000 workers.

    That signaled the beginning of MADE IN CHINA and the incredible decrease in prices for most goods, including technology, that would make so many goods incredibly accessible to so many people here in the US, which would eventually include the iPhone and other pivotal technological developments.

  13. 1mime says:

    One achievement I’d like to submit for inclusion in your list, Lifer, is the election of the first Black President of the United States.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Sorry to be a stickler, but that event was NOT overlooked.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        This is the criteria, from Lifer’s blog entry:

        “Almost none of these events were worth noting when they occurred. Many of them failed to make the news in any form. Yet our lives today are products of these evolutionary pivots.”

        The election of President Obama would not qualify.

      • 1mime says:

        OK. Right again.

      • 1mime says:

        I do not see this item on Lifer’s list, Tutta.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Mime, I didn’t mean that the election of President Obama was not overlooked by Lifer, but that it was not overlooked by the media and the entire world. It has always been seen as a momentous achievement, and Lifer is making note of events that were NOT considered major when they first happened, but that were eventually seen to be momentous.

      • 1mime says:

        I guess I feel like Obama has been slighted ever since he won his first term by conservatives, obviously, not by Democrats who are still fans. His approval rating today, (PEW) is the highest it’s ever been, at 54 and his unfavorable rating at 45. Nice birthday present for our 55 year old president, and good for Dem coat tails in the coming election, too!

        In so many ways, even as his win was acknowledged as ground-breaking in the US, who could foresee the massive social legislative changes that occurred under his watch, or his influence on middle eastern affairs (Egypt), or world diplomacy. I guess I just don’t think the man gets enough credit for what he has accomplished.

    • Bobo Amerigo says:

      Of course!

  14. 1mime says:

    Space exploration is probably too “big” to qualify for Lifer’s list, but this outgrowth of our space program is significant.


  15. Bobo Amerigo says:

    Right on time, Linda Greenhouse explains why we should add Sandra Day O’Connor joining the Supreme Court to your list.


    Okay, it was thirty-FIVE years ago.


    “They found no “sex-based effects” in 12 of the areas.

    Only in cases concerning claims of sex discrimination did the composition of a three-judge appellate panel matter: panels with at least one female member were “significantly” more likely to rule in favor of the plaintiff claiming discrimination.”

    For a significant number of citizens, this event changed lives.

    • 1mime says:

      That’s the problem when you create a list of “special” events…we all want “one more”…

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I thought Lifer was referring to major events that were overlooked and not recognized as major at the time. I remember the appointment of Sandra Day O’Connor being a very big deal.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Things that happened quietly, unobtrusively, but that eventually had a major impact.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Yes, it was notable at the time, but nobody thinks twice about it now.

        I think Greenhouse’s thought is that people in some age groups are not aware of just how recent is the occurrence of women in high places. And that lack of awareness is somewhat reflected in how millennials regard Hillary as a presidential candidate.

        Personally, I liked Chris’ list. It has sweet, nerdly qualities.

        I also think that soft events have as much impact on our lives as technological events.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Bobo, you’re right about Hillary. Someone on the news was saying the other day that Hillary is not making such a splash as the first potential female president because she’s been around for so long — beginning as First Lady, then Senator of New York, then as Secretary of State.

        So, maybe something to add to Lifer’s list is Mrs. Clinton becoming First Lady. She was seen as a First Lady more accomplished than the previous ones, since she was a lawyer, but I don’t think many people imagined that this first, unobtrusive step might eventually lead to our first female President, to the extent that it’s not considered such a big deal anymore, as was the election of Mr. Obama as our first Black President.

      • 1mime says:

        Eleanor Roosevelt was a very consequential First Lady, and was highly instrumental in helping shape the significance of FDR’s achievements. I’d say she would be first on my list.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I agree that Mrs. Roosevelt was our most important First Lady, but to be true to Lifer’s assignment, I’m going back only 30 years and trying to find seemingly inconsequential events that ended up being very consequential, and that’s why I chose Mrs. Clinton’s becoming First Lady as one.

      • 1mime says:

        You are correct. Eleanor Roosevelt is such an incredible woman that she always comes to mind when we look at women who have contributed greatly to America. But, she definitely is outside Lifer’s 30 year parameter.

  16. 1mime says:

    I’m kind of ‘stuck’ on current events and thought all should know the background on funding for ZIKA. Republicans are spinning this as Democrat’s failure, but here’s the rest of the story. You decide. In the meantime, people are getting sick and we are stalling in our research trials.


  17. johngalt says:

    Let me add one other event: the sequencing of the human genome, which was completed in 2001 (if you believe the public pronouncements) or 2003 (if you prefer reality). This contained some shocking revelations – for instance it was thought that the human genome must be much more complex than other animals (hubris), which would be reflected in having far more genes. Instead, our genome is only marginally larger, in terms of number of genes, than fruit flies and pretty much the same size as nematode worms (we are 1/5th as complex as wheat, if you want to feel humble).

    More importantly, this will revolutionize medicine (albeit slowly). Thanks to technology that has arisen from this project, the cost of sequencing a genome has dropped by a factor of 100,000 in 15 years (from $100 million per genome to about $1,000). This means that over the course of the next 10 years, most of you will have your personal genome sequence decoded as a routine (or, for some, because of a not-so-routine) medical test. This will allow people to proactively prevent chronic and acute diseases. Are you susceptible to heart disease – exercise and eat better. Diabetes – control weight and sugar intake. Today, we make general pronouncements and hope, mostly futilely, that people will take care of themselves. Telling someone that they are seriously at risk for melanoma (but less so for heart disease, say) has a way of focusing the mind about sunscreen.

    • 1mime says:

      Jg and Fly, Are either of you involved through your research with the ZIKA virus?

      • flypusher says:

        Not on Zika either, but I know some students at Baylor College of Medicine working on it. They are quite enthusiastic about it in a most charmingly geeky way.

    • goplifer says:

      Dammit. You’re right. Probably should have used that instead of the soybeans. Nice one.

    • johngalt says:

      No, sorry. No Zika for me. There are some efforts ongoing at UTMB in Galveston, which is a hotbed for viral research.

      GMO crops (starting with soybeans) deserve inclusion in your list for the reasons you mentioned. Unfortunately, Monsanto botched the PR of that, which has resulted in this preposterous left-wing science denial. My wife was at a microbiology conference earlier this week at which she heard a European scientist from a food processing company describe the idiocy of what they have to do to abide by the anti-GMO laws there (and we’re talking about making yogurt, not transgenic chickens).

      • johngalt says:

        Perhaps Rick Perry becoming a Republican (or Warren going the other way) could have been dropped. He was neither the first nor the last in a long trend of southern Democrats switching sides. But I’m OK with a list of 16 instead.

    • johngalt says:

      Took a minute to find this, but here’s an article describing a big early win in personalized medicine driven by genome sequencing. The article notes that the genome sequencing behind this cost $30,000 each in 2011. It has fallen 97% since then.

    • Titanium Dragon says:

      The sequencing of the human genome was a big deal at the time, though.

    • flypusher says:

      Getting the human genome sequence was big, but a lot of people overestimated the immediate impact. One of my lab mates had a very good take- it wasn’t a “blueprint”, it was a “parts list”- still useful, but not as detailed. The real payoff will come in the annotation and in getting sequences from many more humans to compare and contrast.

      The surprise/ ego puncture some people had over humans having less genes than they expected was amusing. As a biologist, I’m more enthralled by the wonderful efficiency of alternative splicing- one gene can potentially make dozens or even hundreds of different variations on a protein, so that many more thousands of genes are not needed. Very elegant.

  18. 1mime says:

    To bring you up to date on the presidential election, Larry Sabato of the U of VA, offers this interesting political update:


  19. tuttabellamia says:

    LIfer, here’s another book recommendation. I heard about it on NPR this morning from an interview with the author. I plan to read it once I finish my current book. For some reason I’ve become fascinated with the culture of poor White people in the South. I don’t know if it’s morbid curiosity on my part, or if I just like comparing poor White culture to minority culture, or if I just want to understand these people better:


  20. This has very little to do with today’s post (which I found both interesting and enlightening), but I’d like your opinion. After reading a number of things about the likely effects of automation on the demand for labor and some interesting suggestions about how to handle that, I went back and reread a little book by Brian Rush called “Reclaiming Socialism.” It is available on Amazon at no charge.

    Aside from the fact that I sincerely doubt that any of Rush’s suggestions could be implemented given our current political deadlock, I’d like to hear opinions about whether those suggestions would work if they COULD be implemented..

    • Creigh says:

      Sounds interesting, I’ll look at it and get back

    • 1mime says:

      Sounds interesting, Barbara. I’ll check it out.

    • Creigh says:

      Ok, not a lot of depth in this but I skimmed the book and have a few thoughts. Mr. Rush’s criticisms of capitalism (inequality, boom and bust cycles) are largely valid, but his proposed solution – worker-owned cooperatives – could be implemented today, and to a limited extent have been tried. Their record of success isn’t very good.

      The best argument for capitalism is that it harnesses a very powerful human characteristic – self-interest. I’d question whether there’s a similarly powerful human motivation built into Rush’s worker cooperative model.

      What we actually have today is not pure capitalism; such a thing doesn’t exist, and if it did it would destroy itself along lines Rush talks about. What we have is a mixed economy, some capitalism and some socialism. The argument we are having and should have is about the proper mix.

  21. Angelique says:

    This is a fascinating list, with several items I didn’t know. I hope some teachers use it in their classrooms. A question about the last entry: I thought the Black Lives Matter movement started after Ferguson.

  22. WX Wall says:

    I’ll add a few of my own:

    Operation Desert Storm (i.e. the first Gulf War): the fall of the berlin wall was momentous, but we didn’t truly reach American hegemony until we excorsized our Vietnam Syndrome and showed the world that we could fight a war against a good-sized opponent (Remember Iraq was one of the powers of the middle East, and had fought Iran to a standstill) and win so stupendously that our dominance was no longer in doubt. We also did it for a good cause, and went home when we promised we would, which meant we also gained the moral authority to be the global hegemon.

    This had good and bad consequences. Bush I and Clinton used that American dominance to force peace in the Balkans, and even came tantalizingly close to solving the Isreali-Palestinian problem.

    The bad is it has led to a hubris that’s gotten us entangled in Iraq again, not to mention Afghanistan, Syria, etc. etc. Plus, the end of the theory of Mutually Assured Destruction (Russia’s “credible nuclear threat” is really not credible any longer, and China still can’t hit U.S. soil) and the rise of unilateral American nuclear power is what allows Trump to say such ghastly things as “why can’t we use nuclear weapons?”

    the invention of the iPhone – you sort of covered it with your mention of the first cell phone pic, but truly the iPhone has revolutionized the way we communicate like no other smartphone did before (and I say that as an android user 🙂

    The Mumbai terror attacks (2008) – I’d say this was the final nail in the coffin for professional journalism. Blogs had already started encroaching on the territory of expertise, analysis, etc. But breaking news was still the domain of news organizations with worldwide networks of bureaus and news desks. The Mumbai terror attacks were the first time that most people, including journalists, were getting their breaks by covering tweets / photographs being shared by hostages *inside* the Taj Hotel.

    Now, it’s routine for guys like Wolf Blitzer to stand up in the CNN “War Room” and show pictures and messages from twitter and facebook, and I’m always left wondering “Why do I need Wolf Blitzer to read tweets that I can read myself?” Twitter now covers breaking news far better than any professional news organization ever did, and blogs offer the analysis / expertise. Where does that leave old-style news organizations?

    Anyway, those are my candidates for momentous events!

    • 1mime says:

      That was a super overview, WX Wall. To hone in on your question, “where does that leave old-style news organizations”, they will have to shift as well….We’re seeing more graphics and sophisticated video technology introduced into tv media to augment the pundits’ presentations. I still enjoy the format where knowledgeable persons are interviewed in depth rather than canned presentations. In print media, which is more endangered (lotsa couch potatoes out there don’t read anymore, it seems), digital format is helping shore up their bottom lines and reaching out to those of us who prefer internet reading vs holding a newspaper. In this regard, the 24-hour news cycle tv format was an incredible shift in broadcasting which Ted Turner launched with CNN.

    • formdib says:

      Honestly, I remember reading that comment, and it stunk of Poe’s Law. I feel it was just satire, but wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t.

      By the way, has anyone here ever read The Confederacy of Dunces? May need a revisit in the Age of Trump.

      In the same vein, this one really well-produced but philosophically thin rap rock song now has direct relevance to Real Life (r)(tm) now that Trump has literally asked (3 times!!!) “Why can’t we just use nukes?”,

      which undoes the years I’ve spent telling my friends “I love the beats but the theme is kinda over-simplific don’t you think?”

      If life is going to imitate art, could it at least imitate the Flobots beats and not the lyrics?

      • 1mime says:

        Confederacy of the Dunces…..I’m from LA, born in New Orleans, so yes, read the book and saw the movie….classics. This quote helps link Ignatius to Trump – a real, modern-day genius……

        “The book’s title refers to an epigraph from Jonathan Swift’s essay Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting: “When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”

        Of course, the dunces in Trump’s world would be the GOPe who fail to recognize his genius….

      • 1mime says:

        The key word in your neat clip is “I”…..Trump must know it by heart!

      • Ken Rhodes says:

        Formdib, you feel it was satire? Perhaps these two sentences will assuage your concerns:

        TRUE CONSERVATIVES will lead this country back to the peaceful and genteel days of the 1840s, when women and blacks knew their place…

        …what a lot of damage [progressives] have done. And how much like Jesus they have acted. Shame. Shame.

      • RobA says:

        Ken, those passages strongly suggest satire. Nobody except the most ardent white supremicist would use the expression “back when women and blacks knew their place”.

        There’s also a part bemoaning the loss of child labor.

        It’s kind of a sad state of affairs that there is even debate about whether this is satire or not, but I believe it is.

      • formdib says:

        “It’s kind of a sad state of affairs that there is even debate about whether this is satire or not, but I believe it is.”

        The problem is not only that satire is notoriously effective at straddling the line between exaggeration and reality, but also that this is the Internet where well-meaning pieces of satire can be taken by readers as a well argued point, leading the satire to generate its own actual adherents.

        Cf. that one kid in nearly every high school English class that argued that Swift was on to something with that whole eating babies idea…

      • Pseudoperson Randomian says:

        It’s not satire.

        [Offensive content warning]

        Look up neoreactionaries, Mencius Goldbug, r/dark enlightenment etc.

        Also lookup the anti-reactionary FAQ on slatestarcodex. Linking the companion article describing the ideology here.


    • Didn’t need to read any further after this relative turd of a quote: “Rather, it was the BEGINNING of a long-term battle to repudiate all the horrible things progressivism has forced down this country’s throat since the beginning of the Civil War.

    • Glandu says:

      Had missed that one. If it’s a satire, it’s the best I’ve read since a long time.

      Yet, Poe’s law being what it is…..

  23. Kebe says:

    The HPCA didn’t invent the Internet. It opened it up, and fed a lot of money to places like NCSA in Illinois where modern Internet applications (e.g. WWW) evolved. It’s a milestone, but not of invention. It’s more akin to a Land Rush.

    • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

      Yes Virginia, Al Gore “invented the Internet.” HPCA was the culmination of years of effort by the Tennessee Senator to make this government technology available to the public.

      The quotes would imply a bit of tongue in cheek, and the second sentence pretty clearly makes your point.

      Al Gore was a horrible candidate for President, but he was an extremely good Senator and a fine VP.

      Think of the folks currently chairing or serving on some of our science committees, then compare them to Gore, and then weep for what we’ve become.

      • 1mime says:

        Are you saying there was a bit of “snark” in Lifer’s tribute(s) to Al Gore? Hmmm. Then, maybe we should look at the next VP, Dick Cheney, for his contributions…(no, not to ‘his’ retirement via Halliburton)….I’m thinkin’…..maybe if we could read the minutes of the Big Oil meeting….oh, new techniques for water boarding….Wait, there is one thing: Cheney spoke up for gay couples…That was nice, and that is not snark. I don’t care if his daughter is gay, he spoke up for her and it was probably the high water mark of his career….

      • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

        I won’t presume to speak for Lifer, but I think Lifer was actually giving Gore credit. The “I invented the internet” thing was use to mock gore, but we would not have progressed as fast as we did to come as far as we have without Gore’s pushing. We eventually would have gotten there, but Gore helped make it happen faster.

      • 1mime says:

        Good to know….I often “miss” low flying satire so wasn’t sure. I have to say that Al Gore put me to sleep….but I always felt he was a “good” man. I will always believe the presidency was stolen from him, but, that was then, and this is now……moving on.

        I’ve taken the plunge (half price offer/short trial period) to subscribe to the WSJ, and will be offering stories from this bastion of capitalism. We subscribed 40 years to the print version through moves to 3 states, but gave up on it when it was sold to the Rupert Murdock empire. It lost its independent thinking in favor of a political POV and it lost us…. Their writers are mostly excellent even when they prevaricate…One I have always appreciated who is a frequent guest on The Charlie Rose Show, is Bret Stephens. His piece on Donald Trump is beautifully done and does not equivocate. Here is an excerpt:

        “It will not do for Republicans to say they denounce Mr. Trump’s personal slanders; his nativism and protectionism and isolationism; his mendacity and meanness and crassness; his disdain for constitutional protections—and still campaign for his election. There is no redemption in saying you went along with it, but only halfway; that with Mr. Trump you maintained technical virginity. To lie down with him is to wake up with him. It’s as simple as that.”

        Indeed. Lifer, take a bow.


  24. Bobo Amerigo says:

    God, I love the talking heads. And David Byrne was very young then…

    • Houston-Stay-At-Homer says:

      I am with you on the Talking Heads love.

      On any given day, you could hear their music on rock station, a new wave, station, a punk station, an alternative station, an easy listening station, a 80s/90s station, and a top 40 station.

      They’ve been gone just long enough and they were not quiet popular enough, so young folks today don’t know them. It is their loss.

      However, my kids (4, 4, and 2), have had Take me to The River, Once in a Lifetime, Life During Wartime, and interestingly Psycho Killer, sung to them enough that they may learn to appreciate them as they grow older.

      I don’t typically recommend a greatest hits album, but sitting through “Once in a Lifetime: The Best of Talking Heads” with a few drinks (or other relaxant of your choice) while chatting with friends is a pretty decent way to spend an evening.

    • 1mime says:

      I used to enjoy hearing the radio journalist, Michael Jackson, when we lived in a different state. I compare his style and quality to TV’s Charlie Rose. Both men cut from the same cloth. Straight dialogue – no gimmics except the human mind and facile communication skills.

  25. Stephen says:

    The CEO of the Electric Company I retired from signed off on another solar farm saying the cost of it’s electricity was comparable to coal power. Wind power off shore or if you get high enough is cost effective anywhere. Natural gas is the cheapest at the moment. But it is only a matter of time before renewables eclipse it too. We are leaving the age of fossil fuels. This is one major trend.

    It aggravates me, that politicians are misleading coal miners about that to get their votes. Economics are killing coal , not regulations or Obama . Those people need help to adapt and find new ways to make a living. Something that Republican politicians never seem interested in doing.

    Another trend is the dropping birthrate planet wide. Which the increase efficiencies of manufacturing maybe coming just in time to counter that trend. Another is the move towards the homogeneous of human communities as we blend together. Especially interesting to me is the trend of the exploration of space and using it’s resources. We really do live in interesting times.

    • 1mime says:

      On the coal issue, I agree that the real reason – economics – is being obfuscated by politics, but it is also true that America has failed to prepare for transitions in the workplace. This has a real impact on human beings. We know – now – that coal will never be “clean enough” to replace even gas, much less renewable alternatives. We knew that globalization and the digital age would result in the obsolescence of many of our industrial plants and export of jobs. We know these things and so many more but we lack vision and resolve to plan for the transition to a different economic and social structure. The people left behind are angry and they are frightened. For all the good that change is bringing about with innovation, there are dying cities and families living in poverty who cannot lift themselves out of their situation. For them, change is a threat, not a wonder.

      I know we can’t protect everyone, nor re-train everyone, but we as a country should make a better effort to help those being left behind as well as planning and preparing our workforce for a very different future.

      • Griffin says:

        Perhaps we should just provide at least some of them with outright subsidies (perhaps based on age?) if they lose their jobs like that, and eventually such a program will pay for itself anyways later down the road in the form of more efficient capital and higher standards of living with less political instability and a humane solution in the meantime.

      • Glandu says:

        It’s neither an american problem, nor a recent one.

        China lost a few decades in the 19th century because of the rickshaw & cart drivers forbade the government to go on with railroads. They successfully defended their own position, at a great cost for their country. And I’m sure you can find such examples everywhere in the world, at all dates.

        Transitionning from one job to another is hard, because so many people use their job as an identity. “I’m an accountant!!!” or whatever. It’s not only a problem of logistics or capacity. It’s also a cultural problem.

      • 1mime says:

        It’s part of the evolutionary cycle of a developing society…from the beginning of time. However, in this age of greater sophistication in our ability to predict the future, shouldn’t attention be paid to how our workforce is impacted? Obviously, you can’t control everything but I do believe it is possible to do a better job of identifying areas of need based upon progress and make an effort to assist those who are caught up in the process. That’s the Democrat in me – being “people-oriented”. It will never be possible to save everyone, but we could at least make some effort through re-training and possibly a UBI such as Lifer suggests.

      • flypusher says:

        As bad as the loss of coal mining jobs is for those without skills/education, something more earthshaking could be in the horizon:


      • 1mime says:

        I know we can’t solve all these jobs-busting advancements, but shouldn’t leaders in the business and political realm at least be discussing how this will impact peoples’ lives, our economy? After all, “bots” don’t pay FICA….

    • Chris L says:

      Coal miners are a really good example of modern politics.

      The Democrat solution would be a federal retraining program or some similar national level program to ‘mulligan’ an obsolete workforce. The Democrat political solution, however, is do nothing. It’s a dying demographic in Republican territory in an obsolete and ecologically harmful industry.

      The Republican solution would be a state-level program that would ultimately do the same thing in theory. The Republican political solution, however, is do nothing because angry rural rust-belt voters are easy to manipulate and rile up for voter turn out.

      Republicans could have done something in the past six years while they had 1/3rd of the Federal government. They could have done something in the states they’ve controlled for far longer. Why pull the knife out when the pain rallies them to your cause?

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