1988

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The Deadly Syringe Tide

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

Hypodermic needles, ampules of blood, other medical waste and sewage wash up along northeast beaches beginning with Staten Island. More than 90% of the syringes test positive for HIV. It seems unlikely that the AIDS virus could survive long enough to infect beach-goers, but if someone steps on a syringe, who knows? The beaches are closed as fear of AIDS-infected needles spirals out of control. Businesses along the shore from New York to New Jersey lose billions... 15% to 40% of their revenues. People shun the northern beaches and head south away, away. Investigators eventually trace much of the garbage to the "Fresh Kill Landfill". ("Kill" is a Middle Dutch word meaning a creek or channel.) Every day, 14,000 tons of garbage are loaded onto barges, and taken out to sea to be dumped. Medical waste and floatable debris are supposed to be separated from the rest of the garbage, but obviously that hasn't been happening. Law suits are pending, and legislation is passed by Congress to track medical waste. It won't stop future problems, but it will make future violations easier to trace to their violators. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
FYI, Billy Joel mentioned "hypodermics on the shores" in his song, "We Didn't Start the Fire" which refers to the Syringe Tide". Of course, there are other problems with how we get rid of our trash. In a long-term survival situation you can bet that trash pickup will be curtailed. Even if we have a plan to manage our own trash, our neighbors will not. Keeping garbage out of natural sources of water will become nearly impossible. Our neighborhood once had an annual big-item trash pick up that required us to drag those items down to the creek. That was a bad precedent to set. In an extended disaster, my neighbors would have had the habit of bringing their trash down to the creek. I'm glad they changed that procedure to simply bringing large items to the curb. Many things in civilization occur out of sight, and therefore out of mind until we must manage them ourselves. [8]

The North American Drought

Contributed by Southpaw Ben

Officially ending in 1990, this drought would prove to be the costliest natural disaster in the US until Hurricane Katrina, and the costliest drought in US history. This drought's area of affect looks almost like a crescent connecting the southeastern US, up through the northern Great Plains, across to western Washington state, and dipping down into northern Nevada.[9] While it only affected 45% of the US, as compared to the Dust Bowl which covered 70%, the drought cost $123 billion dollars (inflation adjusted) in damages. During this drought, there were multiple heatwaves that killed between 4,800 to 17,000 Americans, as well as a large amount of livestock, and caused wildfires at Yellowstone. Throughout the region affected most heavily by the drought, scenes reminiscent of the Dust Bowl were seen, including schools in South Dakota being closed due to a protracted sandstorm. [10][11] [12]

My Take by Southpaw Ben
One of my readings for this segment is this PDF analyzing the drought from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of waters. Of interest is that nowhere in the document could I find any references to climate change of any type. It does, however, discuss how "The 1988 drought dramatically illustrates how quickly several years of excess precipitation can change to widespread drought", and then discusses the problem wind and water erosion reminiscent of the Dust Bowl and asks "Have we not learned how to control wind and water erosion in the last 50 years? Or are attitudes regarding land and water stewardship really unchanged during this period?" It then goes on to say "The problems are well-known and reasonably well-understood... Land practices to reduce erosion may no longer be a a luxury, but a necessity". While the proposes solutions involve penalizing those who don't follow water conversations measures, it was refreshing to read a scientific paper that actually addressed the core issues with what caused the dramatic affects of the drought and how we hadn't, and for that matter, still haven't learned from our past mistakes, instead of just blaming the results on climate change and overlooking the obvious issues to talk about carbon credits. (All quotes where from the paged labeled 41 on the referenced PDF.)

Tracking the English Language

Contributed by Alex Shrugged

Richard Sproat is currently on the technical staff at AT&T working his way to a Phd. He will eventually become a researcher at Google parsing natural language. This February, he begins collecting and analyzing Associated Press articles looking for unique word usage... that is unique forms of words. By December 30th, one day before the end of the year, he has found over 44 million unique words, enough to fill any dictionary and it should be enough to write any future story in the newspaper, but the very next day, on December 31st, Richard finds 35 more words. They include... "instrumenting, counterprograms, armhole, part-Vulcan, fuzzier, groveled, boulderlike, mega-lizard, traumatological, and ex-critters." [13] [14] [15]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Our language changes bit by bit. After a generation it becomes difficult to understand what a past generation was thinking.... at least in writing. Books 70 to 100 years old are readable in general, but the nuance is lost. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells is still a good read, but sometimes the word usage is strange. For example, (The Curator) "...rose to his knees, for he had been sitting in the darkness near the copper." OK. Great. What is a "copper"? In this context, I know it is not a coin. Nor is it a police officer. It is something made of metal, so the author is saying "the metal thing that everyone knows about", but I don't know about it. I had assumed that it was a wash basin, but when I looked it up I find that it is a large metal tub used to heat water for washing. Also, what is a "curator?" I might think he is a caretaker in a museum, but back then he was someone who gave inspirational speeches... one who "cured the soul". Even today we think we know what words mean, but it is often wise to have a dictionary on hand to look words up. I often find the experience enlightening. [16] [17]

Notable Births

  • -- In Music Adele. [18]
  • -- In Movies Nikki Reed (Rosalie in Twilight), Emma Stone (Easy A), and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley in Harry Potter). [18]

This Year in Film

  • Coming to America: Eddie Murphy as an African prince looking for a bride in Queens. [19]
  • Big: A boy is transformed into a man yet remains a boy. [19]
  • Die Hard: Bruce Willis comes into his own in this action hero film. [19]
  • And... : Child's Play, Beetlejuice and The Naked Gun. [19]

This Year in TV

  • America's Most Wanted: Reenactments of crimes often leading to an arrest. [20]
  • The Wonder Years: Sitcom starring Fred Savage. [20]
  • Roseanne: Sitcom starring Roseanne Barr and John Goodman. [20]
  • Murphy Brown: Sitcom starring Candice Bergen. [20]
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Two guys poke fun at the movies. [20]

This Year in Music

  • A Groovy Kind of Love: Phil Collins. [21]
  • Don't Worry Be Happy: Bobby McFerrin. [21]
  • Get Outta My Dreams Get Into My Car: Billy Ocean. [21]

This Year in Video Games

  • Ninja Gaiden: . [22]
  • John Madden Football: First in the series. [22]
  • Sega Genesis is released: The CDROM is maddeningly slow. [22]

In Other News

  • GLOBAL WARNING IS HERE!: NASA scientist, James Hansen, warns of the threat of man-made global warming. [1]
  • Al-Qaeda, is established: Osama bin Laden and others of the Soviet-Afghan War wish to establish a new caliphate and disrupt foreign influence over the Muslim world. [1] [23]
  • Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland: 270 people are killed. Evidence later links the bombing to Libyan agents. [1]
  • USS Vincennes shoots down an Iranian passenger liner, killing 290: It's obviously a mistake, but a lot of people are dead. See Iran Air Flight 655. [1]


And more under consideration...

  • A 6.8 Earthquake in Soviet Armenia kills almost 25,000: 400,000 are left homeless. [1]
  • The Internet spans to Europe: A connection is made from Princeton, New Jersey to Stockholm, Sweden. Optical fiber has resently been laid across the Atlantic. [24] [1]
  • The first Internet computer worm is unleashed: Robert Morris demonstrates an Internet security issue, but the worm spins out of control, and brings down many systems. He is fined $10,000 and 400 hours of community service. [1] [25]
  • 4,000 tons of toxic waste are dumped in Haiti: It was supposed to be dumped in New Jersey. (There is a joke in there somewhere.--alexshrugged) See the Khian Sea waste disposal incident. [26]


Death in the Skies

  • A LARGE chunk of the upper fuselage of Aloha Airlines Flight 243 suddenly rips loose: A stewardess is swept away. The cause is determined to be metal fatigue. [1]
  • The first stealth bomber is unveiled: Its the prototype Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit. [1]
  • Air France Flight 296 lands in the trees: It is a demonstration of the new fly-by-wire system that replaces the manual cable and hydraulic system. 3 passengers are killed. [1] [27]
  • An airshow collision sends a plane crashing into the crowd: 75 are killed. 346 injured. The Ramstein air show disaster is the worst in history. [1] [28]
  • Passengers of Kuwait Airways Flight 422 are released: Negotiations go on for 16 days. 2 hostages are killed. A few days later a US high school student takes his humanities class hostage claiming that the Kuwait Airlines hijacking as inspiration. The student is subdued by his fellow students. [1] [29]


  • Economic restructuring, called perestroika is initiated: (This is a critical turning point meant to save the Soviet Union, but in fact will contribute to its collapse.--alexshrugged)
  • The Soviet Union begins its withdrawal from Afghanistan: 8 years of war is over. [1]
  • The new U.S. Embassy in Moscow is dismantled and rebuilt: Soviet listening devices riddled the first building because the embassy had been built using Soviet contractors. [1]


  • Medicare is expanded to include "catastrophic" medical costs: It will be repealed a year later. [1]
  • Jerry Falwell's $200,000 defamation judgement against Hustler magazine is overturned: See Hustler Magazine v. Falwell. [1]
  • Iran–Contra affair: Lt. Col. Oliver North and Vice Adm. John Poindexter are indicted: The charge is conspiracy to defraud the USA. [1]
  • Singer Sonny Bono is elected mayor of Palm Springs: Sonny is a Republican. [1]
  • Surgeon General C. Everett Koop states that nicotine is as addictive as heroin and cocaine: (FYI: I know heroin and cocaine addicts who have found release from addiction, but cannot stop smoking.--alexshrugged) [1]
  • The police no longer needs a search warrant to go through your trash: It must be discard trash. See California v. Greenwood. [1]
  • Special prosecutors used against the Administration are ruled legal: See Morrison v. Olson. [1]
  • The death penalty now applies to murderous drug traffickers: It is a Federal law. State laws differ from state to state, obviously. [1]
  • Lyndon LaRouche is convicted of mail fraud: He apparently solicited loans from supporters with no intention of repaying those loans. [1] [30]
  • A major drought in the USA causes $60 billion in damage: 4,800 to 17,000 deaths are attributed to the heat wave. [1]
  • The Iran–Iraq War has ended: An estimated 1 million lives have been lost. (Generally the USA has been supporting Iraq as a means to beat up on Iran in revenge for the Hostage Crisis of several years ago.--alexshrugged) [1]
  • The "Terminal Man" begins his residence in Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris: He will remain for 18 years. See Mehran Karimi Nasseri. [1]
  • The Palestinian National Council votes to establish the State of Palestine: . [1]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1988, Wikipedia.

See Also

References

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1988 - Wikipedia.
  2. How to Properly Package Bio Waste - Secure Waste Disposal - Document Shredding & Medical Waste Disposal (2017). Retrieved on 20 April 2017. “Anyone who was alive in the 80’s remembers a catastrophe called 'syringe tide.' All along the shores of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey hypodermic needles washed up with the tide causing alarm and creating an environmental catastrophe.”
  3. History - Recycling of Medical Waste. Retrieved on 20 April 2017. “The Syringe Tide caused a massive concern not only due to the area polluted by the waste, but also because almost ninety percent of the syringes were found to be HIV positive (Franolich, 1988). During 1987 drug abuse, especially the use of heroin, was starting to make the newspaper headlines in the United States. The sharing of needles gave rise to the spreading of AIDS and HIV and people were afraid that the needles and syringes that were washed on the shores will create even greater health threats to the United States.”
  4. Floatable Debris The Problem. Retrieved on 20 April 2017. “The washup of floatable debris on ocean beaches can create immense problems for shore communities and the regional tourist economy. Just such a scenario occurred during the summers of 1987 and 1988 when widespread washups of floatable debris closed many miles of ocean beaches along the New Jersey and Long Island shorelines. An early report of the Bight Restoration Plan estimated New York's losses in the range of $900 million to $2 billion and New Jersey's from $900 million to $4 billion over the two-year period.”
  5. "New York City to Pay Jersey Town $1 Million Over Shore Pollution - NYTimes.com", December 8, 1987. Retrieved on 20 April 2017. “A Federal judge today approved an agreement intended to halt the pollution of New York Harbor and the Jersey Shore by garbage from the city's Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island. In the agreement, New York accepted partial responsibility for garbage washing ashore in Woodbridge, near the landfill on the Arthur Kill.” 
  6. Kill (body of water) - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 20 April 2017. “As a body of water, a kill is a creek. The word comes from the Middle Dutch kille, meaning 'riverbed' or 'water channel'.”
  7. "On the Jersey Shore, a Summer to Forget - NYTimes.com", September 2, 1988. Retrieved on 20 April 2017. “For most businesses in the seaside towns here on Long Beach Island and elsewhere along the Jersey Shore, the Labor Day weekend closes out another summer season. With some of the hottest weather in recent memory and only a handful of beaches along the Jersey Shore closed periodically, it should have been a banner year. Instead, it was a bust. Reports of medical waste and sewage spills have driven away hundreds of thousands of vacationers, costing the $7.7-billion-a-year tourism industry on the Jersey Shore more than $1 billion in lost revenue this summer, tourism officials say. Losses of 15 to 40 Percent” 
  8. Dentist who dumped medical waste in Jersey Shore waters avoids prison term - NJ.com (April 30, 2010). Retrieved on 20 April 2017. “A Pennsylvania dentist was sentenced today to four years of probation for dumping medical waste into the Atlantic Ccean in Cape May County, forcing beaches in Avalon to close for five days.”
  9. https://localtvwqad.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/july1988drought.jpg
  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1988%E2%80%9389_North_American_drought
  11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Droughts_in_the_United_States
  12. http://climate.umn.edu/pdf/drought88.pdf
  13. Pinker, Steven. The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language. New York: HarperPerennial. 2007. ISBN 9780062032522. (BOOK) Quote: "In addition, English is free and easy with 'compounding,' which glues two words together to form a new one, like toothbrush and mouse-eater. Thanks to these processes, the number of possible words, even in morphologically impoverished English, is immense. The computational linguist Richard Sproat compiled all the distinct words used in the forty-four million words of text from Associated Press news stories beginning in mid-February 1988. Up through December 30, the list contained three hundred thousand distinct word forms, about as many as in a good unabridged dictionary. You might guess that this would exhaust the English words that would ever appear in such stories. But when Sproat looked at what came over the wire on December 31, he found no fewer than thirty-five new forms, including instrumenting, counterprograms, armhole, part-Vulcan, fuzzier, groveled, boulderlike, mega-lizard, traumatological, and ex-critters."
  14. Richard Sproat - LinkedIn. Retrieved on 20 April 2017. “Member of the Technical Staff AT&T 1985 – 2003 (18 years)”
  15. Morphology and Computation - The MIT Press. mitpress.mit.edu (April 1992). Retrieved on 20 April 2017. “Sproat motivates the study of computational morphology by arguing that a computational natural language system, such as a parser or a generator, must incorporate a model of morphology. He discusses a range of applications for programs with knowledge of morphology, some of which are not generally found in the literature. Sproat then provides an overview of some of the basic descriptive facts about morphology and issues in theoretical morphology and (lexical) phonology, as well as psycholinguistic evidence for human processing of morphological structure.”
  16. Richard W Sproat « Department of Linguistics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Retrieved on 20 April 2017. “Richard Sproat has worked in many areas of linguistics and computational linguistics including syntax, morphology, computational morphology, articulatory phonetics, text-to-speech synthesis, Chinese language processing, text analysis and normalization, machine translation, and the computational analysis of writing systems. Sproat has published over 80 articles and books in these areas.”
  17. (1898) "Chapter 4: The Death of the Curator", War of the Worlds, The. Retrieved on 3 November 2016. “He talked with his voice rising slowly, through the greater part of the eighth and ninth days--threats, entreaties, mingled with a torrent of half-sane and always frothy repentance for his vacant sham of God's service, such as made me pity him. Then he slept awhile, and began again with renewed strength, so loudly that I must needs make him desist.
    "Be still!" I implored.
    He rose to his knees, for he had been sitting in the darkness near the copper.
    "I have been still too long," he said, in a tone that must have reached the pit, "and now I must bear my witness. Woe unto this unfaithful city! Woe! Woe! Woe! Woe! Woe! To the inhabitants of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet----"”
     
  18. 18.0 18.1 1988 Births - Wikipedia (1988).
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 1988 in film - Wikipedia (1988). Retrieved on 27 January 2017.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 1988 in television - Wikipedia (1988).
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 1988 in music - Wikipedia (1988). Retrieved on 30 January 2017.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 1988 in music - Wikipedia (1988).
  23. Al-Qaeda - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 20 April 2017. “Al-Qaeda ideologues envision a complete break from all foreign influences in Muslim countries, and the creation of a new caliphate ruling over the entire Muslim world. Among the beliefs ascribed to al-Qaeda members is the conviction that a Christian–Jewish alliance is conspiring to destroy Islam.”
  24. nordunet_alkusivut_nettiversio.indd
  25. Zen and the Art of the Internet: A Beginner's Guide to the Internet, First Edition, January 1992 (January 1992). Retrieved on 20 April 2017. “On November 2, 1988, Robert Morris, Jr., a graduate student in Computer Science at Cornell, wrote an experimental, self-replicating, self-propagating program called a worm and injected it into the Internet. He chose to release it from MIT, to disguise the fact that the worm came from Cornell. Morris soon discovered that the program was replicating and reinfecting machines at a much faster rate than he had anticipated---there was a bug. Ultimately, many machines at locations around the country either crashed or became ``catatonic. When Morris realized what was happening, he contacted a friend at Harvard to discuss a solution. Eventually, they sent an anonymous message from Harvard over the network, instructing programmers how to kill the worm and prevent reinfection. However, because the network route was clogged, this message did not get through until it was too late. Computers were affected at many sites, including universities, military sites, and medical research facilities. The estimated cost of dealing with the worm at each installation ranged from $200 to more than $53,000.”
  26. Khian Sea waste disposal incident - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 20 April 2017. “On August 31, 1986, the cargo ship Khian Sea, registered in Liberia, was loaded with more than 14,000 tons of ash from waste incinerators in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1] The city had previously sent such waste to New Jersey, but that state refused to accept any more after 1984.”
  27. Air France Flight 296 - Airbus A320 Crash - YouTube. Retrieved on 19 April 2017. “Air France Flight 296 was a chartered flight of a newly-delivered fly-by-wire Airbus A320 operated by Air France. On June 26, 1988, as part of an air show it was scheduled to fly over Mulhouse-Habsheim Airport (ICAO code LFGB) at a low speed with landing gear down at an altitude of 100 feet, but instead slowly descended to 30 feet before crashing into the tops of trees beyond the runway. Three passengers died. The cause of the accident is disputed, as many irregularities were later revealed by the accident investigation. This was the first ever crash involving an Airbus A320.”
  28. 1988 Ramstein air show disaster - YouTube. Retrieved on 19 April 2017. “Footage of the Ramstein air show disaster where a display by the Italian Air Force display team went horribly wrong resulting in 70 deaths and 346 serious injuries. It was, at that time, the world's worst air show accident. Changes were made to future air displays so that dangerous maneuvers were not performed while flying towards the crowd.”
  29. Kuwait Airways Flight 422 - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 20 April 2017. “The hijacking prompted an incident at San Gabriel High School in San Gabriel, California on April 26, 1988, when student Jeffrey Lyne Cox held a humanities class hostage with a semi-automatic rifle for over 30 minutes. Cox, who threatened to kill his classmates, was overpowered by fellow students, then detained by police. A friend later told the press that Cox had been inspired by the hijacking and the Stephen King novel Rage.”
  30. LaRouche Gets 15 Years for Cheating His Backers, IRS : 6 Aides Also Get Prison Terms, Fines - latimes. Retrieved on 20 April 2017. “A federal trial jury convicted LaRouche and the six associates on Dec. 16 of mail fraud and conspiracy for raising more then $30 million in loans from political supporters without any intention of repaying them. One elderly woman testified that she had lost nearly $113,000 in life savings.”

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