The Year that Changed Everything
Contributed by Alex Shrugged (at the suggestion of a TSP listener)
- "1959 was the year when the shockwaves of the new ripped the seams of daily life, when humanity stepped into the cosmos and also commandeered the conception of human life, [...] when the world as we now know it began to take form."
- -- Frank Kaplan, from his book "1959: The Year that Changed Everything" 
He makes it sound like that's a good thing, and perhaps it is... in some ways. It's like the first cave man being gifted with fire. The potential for good is enormous, but there is potential for destruction as well. At the beginning of this century, the disillusioned generation of World War 1, gave way to the Greatest Generation of World War 2, and now we have the Beat Generation. Economic prosperity has come. The Boeing 707 flies non-stop from New York to Paris after the First Lady breaks a bottle on its nose. The GI Bill allows millions of veterans access to a good education, and a lower interest rate on a home loan. (At this time, GI loans are assumable which incentivizes a private buyer to take over the loan without refinancing, and bail out a GI who is behind on his payments THROUGH THE PRIVATE SECTOR!) Nuclear power provides electricity. Civil Rights for black people is finally taking hold. (It's not much, but it's moving along.) It's a Space Race to the Moon. "Countdown", "A-OK" and "blast off" are part of the common speech. This is the generation that is talking about sex as if they invented it. (Nope, but nylons, Barbie and bikinis are new. Free love is not new. Not even close.) The feminist movement is well under way, and women's independence is made possible (or at least made practical) with the birth control pill. Condoms have been around forever, but their use is controlled by the man. Now a woman can control her biological destiny quietly, personally and without confrontation. Women have a new superpower, and it will change more things in our world than you can imagine... or maybe you can imagine it. 
Khrushchev Comes a Callin'
Contributed by Alex Shrugged
People are fleeing the German worker's paradise (otherwise known as the GDR or East Germany) to the West. After World War 2, Germany was divided into East and West, but that left Berlin in the East under Soviet domination... uh... I mean under the people's protection, so Berlin was split separately. Now West Berlin remains an oasis of freedom, compared to the East. It's like holding a prayer vigil for self-denial while the church next door is having a BBQ cookout and sing-a-long. The Soviet Union tried staving them out, but the Berlin Air Lift put the kibosh on that plan. Now Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union, demands that Berlin be made a free city meaning his tanks will insure the freedom of the government to confiscate all their stuff. President Eisenhower does what any red-blooded American champion of freedom would do. He goes golfing at Augusta National. (He is flipping off the Soviets while working behind the scenes.) West Berlin votes "Nyet" on Khrushchev's "freedom city" BS (bad suggestion), so Khrushchev changes tactics. He wants to visit the United States. Eisenhower thinks this is a great idea. (Sure, Wilbur.) With everyone crossing their fingers, the man who threatened to bury the West, comes a callin'. They meet at Camp David privately to clear the air. Eisenhower leaves Khrushchev enough room to back off and he does.... for now.    
Spying for "Science"
Contributed by Southpaw Ben
Discoverer/Corona 4 was the first known spy satellite. While it was officially being launched to test orbital maneuvering and re-entry techniques under the name Discoverer, this was really a cover story for the Corona, a joint CIA-Air Force collaboration intended to create a reconnaissance satellite.  The rocket used by Discoverer was based on the PGM-17 Thor rocket, which was an intermediate range ballistic missile that would be in use until 1963. The Discover 4 mission was ultimately a failure, as a malfunction resulted in it not reaching orbit, and the Discoverer program would be plagued with problems until over a year later when the Discoverer 13 became the object to be successfully recovered after being sent to orbit, but it was the next mission, Discoverer 14, that was the first to have it's film successfully recovered. This program was only publicly admitted in 1992 with its picture being declassified in 1995 by an executive order by President Bill Clinton.
- Sarah, Duchess of York: Known affectionately as "Fergie", the former wife of Prince Andrew. 
- Mike Pence: VP of the United States. 
- David Koresh (died 1993, age 33): Leader of the Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas when the ATF raided their compound. 
- Brian Williams: NBC News reader, fired after he said his helicopter was hit by an RPG when it wasn't. (That's called lying, Brian.--alexshrugged) 
- -- In Sports: Magic Johnson, John McEnroe and Coach Mike McCarthy. 
- -- In Comedy: Tom Arnold and "Weird Al" Yankovic. 
- -- In Music: Simon Cowell and Marie Osmond. 
- -- Jason Alexander: Pretty Woman, and TV's Seinfeld. 
- -- Linda Blair: The possessed girl in The Exorcist. 
This Year in Film
- Ben Hur: Starring Charlton Heston, it is the story of a rich man, brought low and then redeemed by Jesus. (Great chariot race.--alexshrugged) 
- Journey to the Center of the Earth: Starring James Mason and Pat Boone. (Still good.--alexshrugged) 
- On the Beach: In the aftermath of a nuclear attack those few who survive must... blah, blah, blah. (An important film but a major downer.--alexshrugged) 
This Year in Music
- Venus: Frankie Avalon. "Hey, Venus / Oh, Venus / Make my wish come true..." 
- The Ballad of Mack the Knife: Bobby Darin. "Oh, the shark has pretty teeth, dear, And he shows them pearly white..." 
- (We're Gonna) Rock Around the Clock (Tonight): Bill Haley & His Comets. 
In Other News
- Barbie the fashion doll is released by Mattel: At this time dolls are babies, so an adult-aged doll is a big change. 
- The 1st plain paper copier is released by Xerox: Xerox will soon become a verb just as Jello became a noun. 
This Year on Wikipedia
Year 1959, Wikipedia.
- 1959: The Year that Changed Everything (Excerpt) (PDF) (2009). Retrieved on 23 February 2017. “1959 was the year when the shockwaves of the new ripped the seams of daily life, when humanity stepped into the cosmos and also commandeered the conception of human life, when the world shrank but the knowledge needed to thrive in it expanded exponentially, when outsiders became insiders, when categories were crossed and taboos were trampled, when everything was changing and everyone knew it -- when the world as we now know it began to take form.”
- Berlin Blockade - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 23 February 2017. “In response, the Western Allies organized the Berlin airlift (26 June 1948 - 30 September 1949) to carry supplies to the people of West Berlin, a difficult feat given the city's population. Aircrews from the United States Air Force, the British Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the South African Air Force:338 flew over 200,000 flights in one year, providing to the West Berliners up to 8,893 tons of necessities each day, such as fuel and food. The Soviets did not disrupt the airlift for fear this might lead to open conflict.”
- Augusta National Golf Club - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 23 February 2017. “Augusta National Golf Club, located in Augusta, Georgia, is one of the most famous golf clubs in the world. Founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts on the site of the former Fruitland (later Fruitlands) Nursery, the course was designed by Jones and Alister MacKenzie and opened for play in January 1933. Since 1934, it has played host to the annual Masters Tournament, one of the four major championships in professional golf, and the only major played each year at the same course.”
- Kibosh - definition of kibosh (2017). Retrieved on 23 February 2017. “n. Informal A check, end, or stop: The rain put the kibosh on our plans. [Originally in early 19th century colloquial to put the kibosh upon, to castigate, overwhelm (a person or political party such as the British Whigs, who were criticized for failing to outlaw flogging in the military), perhaps originally meaning simply 'to flog,' and from alteration (perhaps in imitation of a cracking whip) of kurbash.]”
- Alex Shrugged notes: My "crossing their fingers" remark was inspired by the editorial cartoon by Herb Block (November 15, 1955) showing Eisenhower and Khrushchev waving to the crowds with crossed fingers.
- Military–industrial complex - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 23 February 2017. “Whilst the term originated in the 1960s and has been applied since, the concept of co-ordination between government, the military, and the arms industry largely finds its roots since the private sector began providing weaponry to government-run forces. The relationship between government and the defense industry can include political contracts placed for weapons, general bureaucratic oversight, and organized lobbying on the part of the defense companies for the maintenance of their interests.”
Smith, Jean Edward. Eisenhower: In War and Peace. Random House. “At one point Eisenhower asked Khrushchev about military expenditures. "Tell me, Mr. Khrushchev, how do you decide on funds for the military?" Before Khrushchev could answer, Ike volunteered to tell him how it was in the United States. "My military leaders come to me and say, 'Mr. President, we need such and such a sum for such and such a program. If we don't get the funds we need, we'll fall behind the Soviet Union.' So I invariably give in. That's how they wring money out of me. Now tell me, how is it with you?"
"It's just the same," Khrushchev replied. "Some people from our military department come and say, 'Comrade Khrushchev, look at this! The Americans are developing such and such a system. We could develop the same system but it would cost such and such.' I tell them there's no money. So they say, 'If we don't get the money we need and if there's a war, then the enemy will have superiority over us.' So we talk about it some more, I mull over their request and finally come to the conclusion that the military should be supported with whatever funds they need."
"That's what I thought," said Eisenhower. "You know, we really should come to some sort of an agreement in order to stop this fruitless, really wasteful rivalry."”
- Discoverer (2009). Retrieved on 27 February 2017.
- Corona (satellite) - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 23 February 2017.
- 1959 Births - Wikipedia (2017).
- Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 22 February 2017. “Governor Spitzer, referred to as 'Client–9' in an affidavit filed in US Federal Court, arranged to meet at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on February 13, 2008 with a prostitute named 'Kristen.' 'Kristen' was later identified as the 22-year-old Ashley Dupré.”
- 1959 in film - Wikipedia (2017).
- 1959 in music - Wikipedia (2017).
- 1959 - Wikipedia (2017).
- Knox Mine disaster - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 23 February 2017. “Eventually, an estimated 10 billion US gallons (38,000,000 m³) of water filled the mines. Ten people were indicted in the disaster's aftermath, including the mine superintendent, Robert Dougherty; owner Louis Fabrizio; secret owner August J. Lippi, who was also the president of District 1 of the United Mine Workers; and three union officials. Six served jail time.”
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