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Uncle Dave Lewis lives in a hole in the back of his brain, filled with useless trivia about 78 rpm records, silent movies, unfinished symphonies, broken up punk bands from the 80s and other old stuff no one cares about. This is where he goes to let off a little steam- perhaps you will find it useful, perhaps not. Who knows?


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

See, See, See What I Said?

A little while ago I said, something just like what the wonk says below:

New York Times
Is History Siding With Obama's Economic Plan?

CLEARLY, there are major differences between the economic policies of Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. Mr. McCain wants more tax cuts for the rich; Mr. Obama wants tax cuts for the poor and middle class. The two men also disagree on health care, energy and many other topics.

Such differences are hardly surprising. Democrats and Republicans have followed different approaches to the economy for as long as there have been Democrats and Republicans. Longer, actually. Remember Hamilton versus Jefferson?

Many Americans know that there are characteristic policy differences between the two parties. But few are aware of two important facts about the post-World War II era, both of which are brilliantly delineated in a new book, "Unequal Democracy," by Larry M. Bartels, a professor of political science at Princeton. Understanding them might help voters see what could be at stake, economically speaking, in November.
I call the first fact the Great Partisan Growth Divide. Simply put, the United States economy has grown faster, on average, under Democratic presidents than under Republicans.

The stark contrast between the whiz-bang Clinton years and the dreary Bush years is familiar because it is so recent. But while it is extreme, it is not atypical. Data for the whole period from 1948 to 2007, during which Republicans occupied the White House for 34 years and Democrats for 26, show average annual growth of real gross national product of 1.64 percent per capita under Republican presidents versus 2.78 percent under Democrats.

That 1.14-point difference, if maintained for eight years, would yield 9.33 percent more income per person, which is a lot more than almost anyone can expect from a tax cut.

Such a large historical gap in economic performance between the two parties is rather surprising, because presidents have limited leverage over the nation's economy. Most economists will tell you that Federal Reserve policy and oil prices, to name just two influences, are far more powerful than fiscal policy. Furthermore, as those mutual fund prospectuses constantly warn us, past results are no guarantee of future performance. But statistical regularities, like facts, are stubborn things. You bet against them at your peril.

Alan S. Blinder is a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve. He has advised many Democratic politicians.

Indignantly Righteous In My Search for the Roots of the Flexi-disc

This appeared on 78-L. If you are serious about collecting old records, join. The address to subscribe is

Bertrand CHAUMELLE wrote:
> In France, Jean Bonfanti invented the flexi-disc in 1958.
> 8 000 discs per hour, pressed on a continuous ribbon of vinyl in the
> S.A.I.P. factory.

Merci beaucoups, tres bien!! This is just what I was looking for. An unambiguous claim of invention, with a date and inventor. This means the common Flexi-disc has been with us 50 years this year. I wish I had known this before I did my radio program.

It makes total sense to me that the Flexi-disc would be a French invention. Sensible, simple, practical and enduring.

Dr. B. wrote:
> What in the world do I have to do to AGAIN tell you that pressed
> flexidiscs of EXACTLY this same type have been around since the > teens and twenties? There even was a company CALLED Flexidisc in > the 20s.

Mike -- Thanks to you we all learned that a "lacquer" is not an "acetate;" I am in your debt for that -- I never get it wrong now, and even own some actual acetates now, and can tell the difference.

I beg to differ from you and Chris: in a specific, non expert and generic sense what I'll call a "Common" Flexi-disc is a flat, PolyvinylChoride record produced from a long, thin sheet; scored and die cut in some cases and flat enough to be stitched into a magazine, tough enough to print on. You do not use them to record sound, just to reproduce it - the natural shape of such a record is square. It is generally not laminated, made of celluloid, bakelite, photographic film etc. but PVC.

I looked into producing a Flexi-disc in the 80s; never made one, but remember interacting with Eva-Tone directly, as Dan Kjeldgard did (wish I still had my book too!), and discussed them with various studio people, radio people and some folks who made one or two. We always referred to these as Flexi-discs, never called them anything else, never heard the terms "sonosheet" or "phonosheet." And they ARE different from the various other kinds of flexible records made earlier, though I'll give you Mike that the Soundscriber records are very close. But they still must be thick enough to take the cut, as were Voicewriter discs etc. - since that was a recording medium, it is different in composition and purpose.

While these earlier products may "fit the bill," and to experts are also "Flexi-discs," they are all small beans formats -- the true, most successful Common Flexi-discs could be made, as Bernard said, 8000 in an hour. Millions and millions of these records were made worldwide, and are, as Benno pointed out, still with us. Whereas the stapled Emerson from 1924 must have been a very work-intensive format, not to mention the product of a dying label. How many of those you think were made? A few thousand, maybe only hundreds?

Not all of them were affixed to cardboard, though in Europe that was more common; I have a Yugoslav soundsheet that is attached to a thin cardboard blank; I used to have an Eva-Tone Soundsheet that was hinged to a piece of cardboard that you placed under the record. The ones that have no backing play as well, if not better, than ones without. Any cardboard backed ot laminant record tends to degrade. As long as you can keep it flat, with no creases, the Common Flexi-disc will play back more or less the same as the first time you heard it.

Most of the flexible records made before 1958 were not really flexible, as Bernard pointed out. That is significant. Thanks though Steve for mention of the postcard in 1910; that was a milestone I didn't know. But yes, I wanted to know when the common Flexi was introduced; it is useful to know about the earlier products in this field but this particular kind of flexible disc is "king" and has earned the right to be recognized as something distinct and seperate.

Uncle Dave Lewis
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