ivyfic: (Default)
I spent much time this weekend avoiding studying for the GMAT. (I did actually get some studying done, and a lot of other chores, and some hanging out, but the point is--procrastination.) So as a result, I am full of Herbert Hoover trivia.

Did you know that before his presidency, to "Hooverize" meant to render humanitarian aid? Because at the outbreak of WWI, he was living in London. The Germans went through Belgium to get to France, cutting off Belgium completely from supply lines. Hoover organized a relief effort that fed 9 million Belgians a day throughout the remainder of the war. That a non-partisan civilian from a neutral country would be doing relief work in a war zone, in an occupied country--that was completely unprecedented.

He was so popular for that (it's possible that he was personally responsible for saving more lives than anyone else in history to that point), that he was pressured to run for president. By FDR. Who wanted to be his vice president.

Instead he became Secretary of Commerce--possibly the best we've ever had. He created traffic lights, road signs, product standardization, and the FCC. And, in 1921, he spearheaded another relief effort. This time to give aid to Russia during the Great Famine, with the surplus of American wheat. He did this against enormous political pressure from people who did not want to help the Bolsheviks, and without advancing a political agenda. The Russians thought it was an effort to start a counterrevolution, but Hoover believed the food was the most important thing, and that by rendering aid alone, without any pro-Western propaganda, that would be enough to start a counterrevolution. He was wrong about that. But had he tried to evangelize, it's likely none of the food would have gotten through.

Again in 1927, when the Mississippi flooded, he organized relief efforts.

He was elected in 1928 by the biggest landslide in history, as one commentator said, for his extreme competency.

If he'd been president in 1920 or 1924, he'd be remembered as a great humanitarian. It's the supreme irony of history that put him in charge at the start of the Great Depression. And yeah, he did a lot of things to make it worse. But no one knew that at the time--the economic theories didn't exist. And he was completely against the idea of permanently changing the role of government, the way FDR ended up doing. But even so, what everyone glosses over is that he spent more on public works than any previous president--he was trying to stimulate the economy in his own way, by pushing through every public works project that was being planned. And a lot of the things FDR pushed through in his first hundred days were actually bills drafted by Hoover that the Democratic congress had held up. FDR, campaigning against him, called Hoover a "tax and spend" politician.

So what I'm saying is IRONY. UNBELIEVABLE IRONY.
ivyfic: (Default)
So I am watching a PBS documentary series called We Shall Remain about Native American history. The first part was the Mayflower through the Pequot War and King Phillip's War. Then was Tecumseh, which I had to stop in the middle to take a break and has made me hate William Henry Harrison forever. And I just watched the part on the Trail of Tears.

Excuse me while I go cry for a bit. God. The more you learn, THE WORSE IT GETS.


Apr. 8th, 2011 01:21 pm
ivyfic: (Default)
I have an unholy love of time travel stories. Or rather of a specific type--where someone from the past is stuck in the present (or future). It's gotten more sever the more I study history, as I'm constantly trying to compare historical and modern worldviews.

(I have a whole thought experiment about the best way to introduce an Ancient Greek to chocolate. Cause let's face it, they'd probably find it disgusting, given their cuisine. I figure your best bet is high quality fudge or pudding--nothing too dark, and nothing too sweet. Given how poorly I react to foreign cuisines' desserts, I'd bet an Ancient Greek would find something like ice cream too weird to try. Anyway.)

The problem is most stories that feature an ancient person displaced into modern times are exercises in masturbatory self congratulation. Oh, look how amazing our technology is! Oh, look how incredible democracy is! Oh, isn't ice cream the best thing ever invented! (Seriously, I think the Discovery Of Ice Cream is a required scene in these stories.) And of course there's the whole teach the pagans the true meaning of Christmas type of thing (thanks for reading that, [livejournal.com profile] jethrien) which is vomit worthy.

I would think that if you suddenly found yourself a thousand years in the future, you'd be awed, yes, but you would be mostly horrified and depressed. Not just that everyone you loved is dead, but that your culture is dead. That everything you thought would go on forever didn't. That people think your religion that you would have died for is silly. That people think your values are immoral. I don't think it would be a happy fluffy montage sequence of going to Toys R Us and the Apple Store and Central Park.

So. Does anyone know of any really good time travel stories? Fic, TV, novels, movies, whatever. But they have to be well grounded in historical fact and not just an excuse to pat ourselves on the back for being alive when we are. Recommendations? Anybody?
ivyfic: (Sherlock thinking)
I am listening to a description of the trial of Socrates. Socrates sounds exactly Sherlock in the new BBC production.


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