Back when I was young, parents would make scrapbooks with highlights from the year their child was born. I always thought that was pretty cool. Since this is your virtual scrapbook, I figured I would try to do the same. This is probably information you could find on Google (or whatever search engine has supplanted Google), but it wouldn’t come with my witty commentary. Plus, when the world descends into anarchy and the network falls, you won’t have access to Google. When this happens, I’ll have cleverly downloaded this site to a small thumb drive and I’ll give it to you on a necklace in a touching Hollywood moment before the zombies descend on us. It will be great.
The night you were born: it was a clear night, about 60 degrees…
…the high was 72 degrees. It was a Tuesday.
- Mary was 25 and took time off from her job at a camp outside San Diego to get ready for you. Jonathan was 28 and was mentoring at-risk high school kids in San Diego.
- Jul was 32, volunteering at the Stanford Cancer Center and working as a florist. I was also 32 and working for a start-up called JotSpot. We lived in Mountain View, CA.
- Grandma Pat was a principal at an elementary school and Grandpa Jere was a professor at University of Michigan. They lived in Ann Arbor, MI.
- Grandma Mart was spending time on her painting after retiring from the travel business and Grandpa Lew was building crazy radar technology for Norden. They lived in Trumbull, CT.
- Your Great Grandma Louise was retired from the film industry and was living with Pat and Jere in Michigan.
- Your cousin Molly was born shortly before you, and Aunt Meg was taking time off from teaching to take care of her. Uncle Luke was working for G&K Food Services. They lived in Oxford, CT near Mart and Lew.
- Uncle John was an investment adviser and Aunt Jan was consulting for Accenture. They lived in Washington, D.C.
State of the Union
You were born during a time of great prosperity…at least for some people. All and all the economy was reasonably strong in 2006. The country was in fairly good shape although the divide between the wealthy and poor here in the US continued to widen. That being said, the standard of living for even the most poor here was still several orders of magnitude better than most of the developing world.
Technology companies were seeing massive growth and huge profits. For example, six of the top ten fastest growing companies in 2006 were high tech companies (Akamai Technologies, Perficient, iMergent, Ceradyne, InterDigital Communications, F5 Networks, and CyberSource). The Internet was a new frontier and while we had seen amazing things happen, we had barely scratched the surface of what was possible. Wikipedia had become the largest, most accessible and dynamic collection of knowledge ever to exist. Information was more accessible than ever before, breaking down many barriers, and empowering everyday people. All of this made it much harder for organizations like large companies, lobbying groups, and government bureaucracies to hide behind a curtain of misinformation. Staying in touch, learning about other cultures, and publishing information to the world had never been easier. This was all good. Plus it was really easy to find recipes.
In tech, the news was dominated by companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple. Several start-ups were making revolutionary products and large companies, unable to copy this innovation, were snapping them up. The print media was still trying to figure out how to make money online. The music industry had spent all of their time suing their customers and missed the online music revolution. Apple’s iTunes music store and iPod music player stepped in to fill this void. Laughably, the movie industry was going down the exact same path and I suspect Apple will happily take their profits as well while they are busy litigating.
Over the last ten years cell phones have become ubiquitous. I suspect you won’t differentiate between “cell phones” and “phones” so this will seem like an odd thing to say. As of 2006, phones were largely for voice and have only rudimentary access to the Internet. I believe this will drastically change over the next decade. Two of the most popular phones were the Blackberry and the Motorola Razr. These probably look like bricks to you.
The US auto industry bet on “big” during the early 2000s. There was a huge demand for large cars and the US auto industry did nothing but satisfy this demand with gigantic, gas guzzling SUVs. In a shocking lack of foresight and overabundance of hubris, they completely missed the potential of hybrid and electric cars. Over the last year, oil prices have soared and US automakers were killed by foreign car makers like Toyota, which focused on these technologies over the last decade. From my perspective, a plug-in hybrid is the perfect car. It allows you to use an electric car for the first 25 (ish) miles, but continue to drive for as long as you need on gas. This is a great fit for the US auto market where consumers think they drive 200 miles a day, but actually only drive, on average, 19. How people who think about cars all the time missed this, is a mystery to me. I’m so disgusted by US automakers that our financial planner is under strict guidelines to avoid all investments in these companies.
Very little success had been found trying to help developing countries (note the broad generalization — there are plenty of exceptions). Africa was in a ton of trouble and the Middle East was (and probably still is) a mess. Europe was slowly forming a single union (the EU) and had agreed on a common currency but not much else. This is not unlike the US. China and India were booming and will be a very dominate players on the world stage over the next twenty years. Both China and India also had a huge income gap like the US.
You were born in a time of great political ineptitude. Our president was an idiot. He was smug and self-righteous. He was a horrible leader. He was close-minded. The administration in the white house was incorrigible. They lied to the American people and dragged us into a war which has killed countless people for no apparent reason. The war drags on with no end in sight. The administration had very little regard for our civil liberties. They used fear as a tool to get what they want. They set up prisons where we held people without charging them. The administration was somehow convinced that taking away freedoms would ensure our freedom. (I can’t see anywhere in history this has gone wrong.) When the twin towers were destroyed we had an opportunity to change the world. The world was listening. We squandered this opportunity and instead created a whole new generation of people who want to destroy us. As a country we have spent irresponsibly and are deeply in debt. The administration blurred church and state in a way that leaves me speechless. Any form of radical fundamentalism, whether Muslim, Jewish, Christian or other is terrifying. It leaves no place for diversity, tolerance or growth. Sadly, enough damage has been done by this president that many of these problems will become your problems.
The day you were born, the Dow Jones industrials closed at 11,669, the S&P at 1,336, and NASDAQ at 2,261.
Regular unleaded gas was $2.10 a gallon. I hope you don’t know what I’m talking about when you read this because everything is electric.
A loaf of bread was between $3 and $4.
One dozen organic (cage free) eggs was about $4.
The best selling album of 2006 was the High School Musical Soundtrack. I have no idea what it is. I guess it is a movie soundtrack but I have never heard of the movie. I can relate to Eminem in 2002 and 50 cent in 2003, but this one slipped by me. I’m not a huge fan of musicals, so maybe I subconsciously ignored it.
The top grossing movie of the year was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. This is a sequel to an earlier Pirates movie which was pretty good. This tricked many of us into seeing this sequel, which was pretty horrible. As you will learn, quality does not guarantee success the same way that mediocrity does not guarantee failure. Most sequels are pretty bad with The Lord of the Rings being the big exception to this rule. I have probably made you watch this trilogy about 1000 times by now, so you probably hate it. Fortunately for 2006, the Academy Awards were smarter than the general population and voted Crash the best movie of the year. They were right — it was.
The Colts beat the Bears 29-17 in the Super Bowl in 2006. The Colts QB Payton Manning finally won a Super Bowl ending speculation he might end up like Dan Marino. It was a stress free super bowl because none of your Mom’s teams were playing (Patriots, Giants, or Jets). Your Mom and I weren’t together for the game — she was in CT with her family and I was down in LA visiting our friend Melodie. Neither of us watch baseball or hockey so I’m not going to dig up those winners.
Your mother and I don’t watch a ton of TV, but we did like Sopranos and Big Love. Sopranos was a show about the mob in New Jersey, and Big Love was about a Polygamist family living in Utah. These were both pretty popular shows in 2006, although you needed a subscription to HBO to watch them. We rarely watched TV live and instead recorded it using Tivo, a digital video recorder. This was a fairly new development. I imagine by the time you are old enough to care, you will just download what you want.
There were a number of notable best selling books in 2006. One of my favorites was Freakonomics, in which Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner tackle a number of real world issues, from gangs and crime, to backyard swimming pools and McDonalds. J.K. Rowling released the fifth book in her Harry Potter series and it was an instant best seller. I think the books are good but I find Harry to be an annoying boy. I hope he ages well. John Grisham released another best seller. I enjoy his writing but I can never keep track of what I have read. I may have read The Innocent Man and enjoyed it or maybe that was a different one. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is a fun, easy to read mystery which touched on the possibility that Jesus had a family. The Catholic Church predictably got their panties all in a bunch over this one. The Kite Runner is an amazing, but heart breaking, fictional story about two childhood friends from Afghanistan. This book is a good example of how sadness can be beautiful. Marley & Me is a hilarious account of a family and their poorly behaved dog. Marley is constantly causing trouble, destroying the house, eating everything that isn’t nailed down, and running away. Despite all this, they still love him. The Devil Wears Prada is a funny account of an intern in the fashion business. I liked the movie better so I recommend skipping right to that. The Tipping Point is a must read. Malcom Gladwell attempts to explain how things become popular and social elements are in play throughout this process. I haven’t read Running with Scissors or seen the movie but I have heard good things.
Here were the New York Times headlines on the front page the day you were born.
TOBACCO MAKERS LOSE KEY RULING ON LATEST SUITS
By DAVID CAY JOHNSTON AND MELANIE WARNER (NYT);
In a legal blow to the tobacco industry, a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled yesterday that people who smoked light cigarettes that were often promoted as a safer alternative to regular cigarettes can press their fraud claim as a class-action suit. Judge Jack B. Weinstein of Federal District Court …
QAEDA OPERATIVE, AN ESCAPEE IN ’05, IS KILLED IN IRAQ
By SABRINA TAVERNISE; MARK MAZZETTI
A senior operative of Al Qaeda who brazenly escaped from a high-security American prison in Afghanistan last year was killed Monday in a predawn raid by British soldiers in a quiet, wealthy neighborhood in southern Iraq, an American official and an official in Basra said. About 250 soldiers wearing …
BASEBALL; Baseball’s Oldest Old-Timer Opens a Window on the Past
By ALAN SCHWARZ (NYT); Sports Desk
Silas Simmons was handed a photograph and asked if he recognized anyone in it. He fixed his eyes on the sepia stares and moved his curled fingers over the glass and frame, soaking in the faces for more than 20 silent seconds. It was a picture of the 1913 …
Delivering Small-Town Justice, With a Mix of Trial and Error
By WILLIAM GLABERSON (NYT); Metropolitan Desk
Gary Betters thought he understood the law as well as any average American. A school psychologist, he wanted $1,588.60 he said the nearby village of Malone owed him for helping run a summer recreation program. When he brought a small claim in Duane Town Court, he expected that the …
THREATS AND RESPONSES; Europe Panel Faults Sifting Of Bank Data
By ERIC LICHTBLAU (NYT); National Desk
A European Union panel has serious doubts about the legality of a Bush administration program that monitors international financial transactions, the group’s leader said Monday, and plans to recommend tighter controls to prevent privacy abuses. ”We don’t see the legal basis under the European law, and we see the …
That was 2006
That is a tiny window into 2006. I hope others can add their own perspective and I hope this gives you a small feel for what it was like, way back then.