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The Live Wire, Oct. 26: Depression Polling and Normal Mailer on Dan Quayle

| October 26, 2010

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Today’s Live Wire: Quick Links

Polling the Depression

walker evans let us now praise famous men fdr roosevelt 1935 poll gallup 75 years ago this week, the Gallup Poll did its very first poll. It was 1935. The country was in Depression, and Gallup asked people about the Roosevelt Administration’s “relief and recovery” efforts. From Gallup: “President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was at that time heavily involved in creating a number of relief, recovery, and work programs designed to help people whose lives were being affected by the Depression. Figuring out what the public thought about all of this became Dr. George Gallup’s first official poll question. What may come as a surprise is the fact that the majority of Americans were negative about the government’s “relief and recovery” efforts in the fall of 1935. The Gallup release noted that 60% of Americans believed “expenditures by the Government for relief and recovery” were too great, while just 9% said they were too little. Another 31% said they were about right.

“Franklin Roosevelt of course was a Democrat. The Gallup release showed, as would be expected, that Democrats were more supportive of relief and recovery than Republicans. Fifty-three percent of Democrats said that the expenditure by the government on relief and recovery was about right. A whopping 89% of Republicans said it was too great. Roosevelt in 1935 was coming up on his 1936 bid for re-election. His opponent ended up being Kansas Gov. Alf Landon.” Enough said. If not, here’s the full story.

Tariq Aziz Sentenced to Death

This is the sort of story that once grabbed front page headlines and inspired lurid commentary. Today? Hardly a mention in the American press. Tariq Aziz was one of Saddam Hussein’s most powerful ministers, and a frequent visitor and emissary to the West. From The Guardian: “Aziz was sentenced to death by Iraq’s high criminal court, along with four other stalwarts of the Ba’athist regime deposed by the US invasion in 2003. He had previously been sentenced to 22 years in jail for complicity in a bloody crackdown on merchants accused of price tampering, and a campaign against Kurds in Iraq’s north. Aziz’s son, Ziad, reacted angrily to the sentence, claiming the court that convicted his father was a “theatrical performance” and that the sentence was politically motivated. Tonight the Vatican urged Iraq not to carry out the sentence against Aziz – the only Christian in Saddam Hussein’s inner circle – and said it would intervene diplomatically to try to halt the execution. The Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, said commuting the sentence would encourage reconciliation in Iraq. The death sentence was announced by state television within minutes of it being handed down after a two-month trial. The charge against Aziz related mainly to persecution of members of the Dawa party, now part of the Baghdad establishment and led by Nouri al-Maliki. The PM is campaigning for a second term.” In other words, Aziz’s sentence is a campaign ad. The full story.

The sentencing:

Norman Mailer on the 1992 GOP Convention

Imagine if there’d been a second-term Bush-Quayle. But not even the party faithfuls could. Norman Mailer in the New Republic, back in 1992: “It was an odd morning. The floor of a convention offers intensities of mood comparable to the stirring of a beast, but in these first hours, the animal looked too comatose to stir. It was an opportunity, therefore, to study the 2,000-plus delegates and 2,000-plus alternates at 10 a.m., hung over and/or depressed, their faces formed in the main (given much anal and oral rectitude) around the power to bite. Leading an honest hard-working responsible life, at work from 9 to 5 over the middle decades of one’s life, can pinch the mouth into bitterness at the laziness and license of others. If one had been a convict up for parole, one would not be happy encountering these faces across the table. Imagination had long surrendered its ghost to principles, determined and predetermined principles.” The full essay.

In Praise of Domenico Scarlatti

Domenico Scarlatti was one of the three giants of music born in 1685 (the other two being J.S. Bach, who was beyond giant, and George Frideric Handel). Scarlatti is the least recognized of the three, for no particular reason. The man wrote 555 sonatas for harpsichord, remaking the sonata form along the way and giving us some of the noblest sounds the inherently noble harpsichord has ever made. Domenico was the son of the composer Alessandro Scarlatti, best known for his sacred vocal works. Luciano Scrizzi was recording the entire Scarlatti cycle of sonatas back in the 1980s for the Musical heritage Society. He made it through three volumes of several LPs each, but it’s not clear whether MHS completed the work. Here’s one of those sonatas, in G major: graceful, melodic, just a little playful, and just a little soulful. Have a listen:

Luciano Scrizzi at the keyboard
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A Trostsky Update



Where else but on FlaglerLive will you remember that it’s 70 years since the assassination of Leon Trotsky? Why, on the World Socialist Web Site, of course: “Two days after Trotsky’s assassination, the New York Times, in an editorial that welcomed his death, wrote spitefully: “The victims of his cold cruelty … can be numbered in the millions. … It was not enough for him that Russia should be drenched in blood and suffering; the whole world had to wade through a sea of violence so that the triumph of the proletariat could be assured.” The vitriol of the editorialists who penned those lines can be understood. They feared Trotsky as the greatest revolutionary of their time. He represented a threat to their interests and way of life. They were writing about an enemy whose deeds had shaped the world in which they lived. However, the editorialists could not help but acknowledge the immense scale of their adversary’s achievements: “He was a powerful writer, an orator who could sway vast crowds, an organizer of sheer genius … It was Trotsky, newly arrived in Russia from New York’s East Side, who took a nondescript, ragged mass of Russians and welded them into the Red Army. He drove every ‘white’ general from the soil of Russia, he broke every Allied attempt to restore the old regime, he gave a semblance of order to a transport and supply system that had been sunk in utter chaos.” Seventy years after Trotsky’s death, the anger of his enemies has not subsided.” Read more anger.

IPhone, Therefore I Am

From the journal Memory Studies: “I worry a lot about losing my iPhone. I imagine I would be grief stricken. I am attracted to the idea of having it permanently attached to my person. This trivial concern, although important to me, again brings to mind the notion of transactive memory and more serious concerns. What happens, for instance, to individual memory when one partner of a long-term couple, who have a well-established and relied-on transactive memory system, dies and leaves behind his or her partner? Drayson and Clark (in press) raise a similar concern about Alzheimer’s patients who rely on their physical environment to scaffold their cognitive processing, but are then relocated into a controlled hospital setting. Such relocation, they argue, may be a ‘tragic turning point’, ‘akin to the infliction of new brain damage upon an already compromised host’ (Drayson and Clark, in press). They note that laws and social policies – what is in the best interests of the person – do not sufficiently recognize the deep connectedness of people to the things in their world, and the consequences for cognition of breaking these links.” The full editorial.

A Few Good Links

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