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Physical Attraction

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We are a physics podcast. But not just that - interviews with scientists, scholars, authors and reflections on the history and future of science and technology are all in the wheelhouse. Over the years, for over 200 episodes, we've had shows on the astrophysics of stars, a comprehensive history of nuclear fusion, thermodynamics, particle physics, climate change, economics, philosophy, the psychology of conspiracy theories, and even the lives of Louisiana Senator Huey Long, or scientists under Stalin in the Soviet Union. 

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We had a sister podcast, Autocracy Now, which deals with the lives of famous historical dictators. You can find some of their episodes on our feed, or the show itself at 

Jan 8, 2019

In 1928, Huey Long was riding high. He'd beaten all opposition and achieved the second step in his life-plan. Get elected to minor public office, check. Get elected to the Governorship, check. There's little doubt given everything we know about him that he was already angling for a seat in the Senate - although in his early addresses he was already lying about "ridding the state of corruption and waste... without ambition for ever again holding another public office." A bold claim for a man who had "become President" on his to-do list.

But in order to do that, he would have to deliver on his outlandish promises that he'd made in the campaign to be Governer. He had to keep his base onside and prove that he wasn't the lying demagogue that his hated media constantly portrayed him to be. In the meantime, the powers that be in the state of Louisiana dusted themselves off and began strategizing how they would manipulate the young and inexperienced Governor to keep their interests at heart.

They had dealt with demagogues before; Huey was not unique in that respect, although few of them had made it to his lofty position. Confidence was probably high amongst the establishment that most of them could work with Huey, that things would continue more or less as they had before, and in a few years - promises largely broken - the political machines could wrestle back control. This was how many people thought it was going to go. A lot of them were mistaken. 


“I would rather go down to a thousand impeachments than admit that I am the Governor of the state that does not dare to call the Standard Oil company to account so that we can educate our children and care for the destitute, sick, and afflicted.”  

Huey called mass rallies, warning his supporters to “beware the lying newspapers, pay no attention to what they say”. At the rallies, he quoted his favourite poem, Invictus:

“I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul!”

This is the story of the impeachment of Huey Long.