Stubblefield, fields of stubble

Reading Frank Edwards’s career biography, the story of his 40 years in radio. As in his other books and features, he takes frequent informative and entertaining detours, always focusing on the class struggle and favoring the underdog.

He tells the story of Nathan Stubblefield, the unquestioned inventor of wireless voice and music transmission in 1885. Stubblefield was a Kentucky farmer who enjoyed tinkering with electrical stuff. He wasn’t the first to experiment with ground telegraphy, but he was the first to achieve ‘broadcasting’.  Unlike most lone inventors he had a talent for publicity.  He demonstrated his invention to the press, conversing with his son a half mile away and playing his harmonica while the observers listened on telephones. Nobody bought the invention, and he returned to farming.

Later the French found the proper niche for ground telegraphy as clandestine communication in WW1. Ground telegraphy couldn’t be broken by cutting wires and couldn’t be intercepted by listeners to ether-based radio.

We always hear the misquoted proverb about mousetraps. The correct text is:

Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat the shit out of you, steal your mousetrap, and leave you to starve.

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Just before the 1948 election Edwards was working at an Indianapolis station, and got the opportunity to join the press gang on Truman’s campaign train. Most of the media was convinced that Dewey would win, and Edwards agreed until he talked with Truman. He asked Truman about the consensus.  Truman answered with an unexpected bit of political wisdom.  Truman had noticed that farmers were harvesting fast and selling their produce into a down market in the months before the election.  He deduced that farmers expected Dewey to make things worse, so they would pick the lesser evil.  In fact farm states were Truman’s unanticipated winning margin.

(Ohio was the biggest surprise, but I think Harold Stassen, not farm economics, was the main cause for Ohio’s switch.)

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Later: Truman’s mindset is the exact opposite of today’s politicians. Truman tried to understand the motivations of all voters because he WANTED VOTES. Today’s politicians explicitly refuse votes. They do everything possible to repel and disgust actual voters, leaving only the mechanical partybots who will reliably push the correct letter no matter what either side says. The most recent speech by the D “president” was the most perfect and pure expression of this mindset, but it’s been obvious for a long time.

This is parallel to Profit vs Share Value in business.

A business that seeks profit WANTS CUSTOMERS, and tries to understand the motives of buyers in order to attract more. A business that seeks Share Value tries to eliminate all customers and products and workers, because the NYC and SF investors want to see pure abstract manipulation of stocks.

A politician who seeks votes tries to understand voters in order to attract more. Modern politicians have no connection with voters, and don’t understand the concept of providing a useful service or solving problems for voters. They are solely connected to the SAME NYC AND SF BILLIONAIRES who buy shares, so they say what the billionaires want to hear.

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