It Was 20 Years Ago Today
A daily podcast of history, culture and memory

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 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

Friday, January 17, 2014.  Twenty years ago today, an earthquake struck in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles.  It killed 57 people and injured nearly 9000.  I talk about the Northridge Earthquake and consider the question of whether it was "the Big One."

The picture is of a partially collapsed apartment building damaged in the earthquake, of a type which is no longer legal to build in California because of the Northridge quake.

Direct download: 20yearsago_175_011714.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:24 AM

In today's episode I remember just a few of the notable people who died in 1993.  They may have been gone for 20 years, but their achievements -- or infamy -- remain.

Direct download: 20yearsago_174_1993recap_memorials.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:15 AM

My recap of 1993 continues today with a recollection of some events from the second half of 1993.  I think my space geek is showing just a little -- of the four events I cover here, two are related to NASA and space exploration (the loss of the Mars Observer and the first repair mission for the Hubble Space Telescope).  I also discuss the Battle of Mogadishu (remembered mostly today through the book and film Black Hawk Down) and the Maastricht Treaty, which provided the framework for today's European Union.  The picture at the left is an artist's rendering of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Direct download: 20yearsago_173_1993recap2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:18 AM