It Was 20 Years Ago Today
A short-form podcast of history, culture and memory

Monday, August 25, 2015. Twenty years ago today, Windows 95 was released to the general public.  I look at the operating system which gave Microsoft a virtual monopoly in the personal computing world, a monopoly which is still largely in place today.

Direct download: 20yearsago_185_08242015.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:00 PM

For Saturday, August 22, 2015.  Thirty years ago this month, A&M Records released a benefit album for Greenpeace. The album cover featured a picture of Greenpeace's flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, which had been sunk in New Zealand a month before.  I talk about the sinking of the ship, some of my own history of environmental activism (it goes back a long ways!) and my attachment to this particular album.

Direct download: 20yearsago_184_08222015.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:29 PM

Tuesday, August 18, 2015.  Thirty years ago this month, the original (well, almost the original) formula of Coca-cola came back to store shelves as Coca-cola Classic.  I take a look at the real reason behind one of the greatest marketing failures of the 20th century, as well as noting how the company's choice in branding the return of "Old Coke" has had a surprising influence on our language.

 

Direct download: 20yearsago_183_08182015.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:00 PM

Sunday, April 19, 2015.  Twenty years ago today, a truck bomb destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, taking over 160 lives in the worst domestic terrorism incident in United States history.  I share my own memory of that day, discuss the immediate reactions of the news media, and offer a caution about our perceptions of terrorism in this country.

Special thanks to Joe Medina for his memories of watching CNN that day, and to Gordon Skene of the website Past Daily, for copies of radio newscasts covering the first hours after the bombing.  

 

Direct download: 20yearsago_182_04192015.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:41 PM

Friday, March 20, 2015.  Twenty years ago today, a group of religious cultists carried out an attack using sarin nerve gas on the Tokyo subway system.  This attack killed at least a dozen people and injured thousands.  The leader of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, along with many of his followers, are on Japan's death row and could be executed as soon as next month.

I talk about my reactions to the gas attack twenty years ago, and consider why those reactions haven't changed much in the twenty years that have passed.  I also consider why we need to remember events like this, as much as our human nature might drive us to forget.

 

Direct download: 20yearsago_181_03202015.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:00 PM

Tuesday, March 17, 2015.  Twenty years ago today, the Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine for varicella (pictured here), the virus which causes chickenpox and shingles.  I talk about the vaccine and a bit about my own experiences with it -- I've had the vaccine, because I never had chickenpox as a kid.  

 

Direct download: 20yearsago_180_03172015.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:00 PM

Wednesday, March 11, 2015.  Thirty years ago today, Mikhail Gorbachev became the leader of the Soviet Union -- and, as it turns out, the last.  Today, I'm taking a step back thirty years to look at what turned out to be one of the most pivotal events of our lifetimes.  There is an entire generation of young adults alive today who have no memory of the Cold War!

 

I also have a shout-out for the womeninpodcasting.org website.

Direct download: 20yearsago_179_03112015.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:00 PM

Monday, March 2, 2015.  Twenty years ago today, scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory announced the discovery of the top quark, the last of the six quarks predicted by current atomic theory.  I talk a little about the top quark, about my own love of science through my life, and how I ended up, quite unexpectedly, with a career in science and technology.

If you would like your very own plushie top quark like the one shown here, you can get them from The Particle Zoo.

I also have one more shout out for the Past Daily website.  They're in the last hours of a fundraiser on which the very existence of the site depends. Please check it out and support the site if you can.

Direct download: 20yearsago_178_03022015.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:00 PM

Sunday, March 1, 2015.  20 years ago today, one of the first big Internet companies, Yahoo! was incorporated.  Yahoo! began as a directory of websites, and back in the day was a useful tool for gathering information from the Web.  I talk about the experience of searching the Web for information when Yahoo! was young, and how the site changed as the Web exploded during the later 1990s.  The image at the right is the Yahoo! logo from 1995.

I also have a shout-out for the website Past Daily, who needs our help to keep doing what they do -- sharing audio from the beginning of the 20th Century to the present day with the world.  Go check them out!

 

Direct download: 20yearsago_177_03012015.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:55 PM

Saturday, October 25, 2014.  Twenty years ago today, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 became law, and we've been up to our ears in pills for everything ever since.  I look at the intent of the Act, and how because of what it actually allows, its effect has been far different.

Extra special thanks to Marc Rose of FUSE Audio Design for the famous disclaimer, which is straight out of the Act.

 

Direct download: 20yearsago_176_10252014.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:43 PM