austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

When Samuel Slater showed us how factories go

[ Again I haven't got the time to write, so here's a circa 1938 rerun from great-uncle (or whatever) Chuck. In his spare time he fancied himself an inventor. All which kept him from inventing successfully were shortages of time, materials, mechanical skill, and knowledge of patent law. He contented himself with trying to re-do the bathroom faucets so they turned on and off like any other faucets anywhere. ]

There are any number of things which we don't have. For example, four. If we check the closets we might even find eight or even nine things we don't have to be not back there. This is well provided you don't want things, but if you do, someone must invent them. Here are some things you can invent now that I've finished the hard work of thinking them up:

  1. Glass for automobile windshields ought not only to deflect glare, but should shoot it angrily back to the glare's source. This may have valuable military applications should we engage in hostilities against the Sun or headlight manufacturers.
  2. A frosting for cupcakes which was not nitrocellulose-based might reduce the number of accidental detonations at birthday parties. It should not replace conventional frostings entirely, for the obvious reasons.
  3. Manufacture a kind of iron which enjoys the non-magnetic properties and light weight of new plastics.
  4. Manufacture a kind of plastic which enjoys the magnetic properties and great weight of traditional iron.
  5. Swap the above materials and see how long it requires people to notice. Refrain from chuckling and giving it away.
  6. A method of reprocessing grape pulp into a useful material, such as synthetic leather or peanut-butter, would be of interest to the grape-growing regions and the armed services, whose leaders would surely witness such a demonstration and say ``Huhm.''
  7. Connect running water to outhouse fixtures so as to shut up my brother about his outhouses already. [ Note: the sanitary value of indoor plumbing was reportedly a nightly quarrel between Chuck and one of his brothers, possibly also named Chuck. We have more entertainment options today. ]
  8. Producing a cake tin which is safe against shocks would allow finally for the baking of goods during even the most trying commutes.
  9. A pocket-book which screamed when it was ripped away could deter criminals, and complement those which now cry when dropped or kicked, also those which emit a steady moan once the owner falls asleep at the movie theater snores at the newsreels a third time.
  10. Why cannot there be a bathroom scale which could be placed in any room of the house?
  11. A kind of stucco usable in houses north of Baltimore would allow houses north of Baltimore to be covered in stucco, which my correspondents in the Delaware Stucco Company of Ohio, Pennsylvania say would be a great benefit, though they don't say to whom.
  12. Restaurants could save hundreds of man-hours lost to the slow process of peeling bananas if there were some convenient method to take bananas off the menu.
  13. Make a thing generally better, or at least marginally less bad.
  14. A method of clearing fog away from horseshoes would allow pack animals to step on fewer things due to poor visibility.
  15. A way to seal letters in wax which did not require wax or a heated seal would save considerable time; more, if the seal specifies which letters are unnecessary.
  16. An electrically heated doorknob would save the bother of warming it manually.
  17. A self-oiling clock which arranged for its own delivery of correct amounts of fresh oil would save us all in clock slipperiness.

To accomplish any of them simply think of how to do it, and then carry out these steps. If you can't think of how to think them up, finding a way to think them up would be a better invention. Do remember me to the patent bureau.

[ Present-day owners of the houses where great-uncle Chuck lived report they still haven't got the faucets working like normal ones. It has been suggested he should've become a hotel bathroom architect, but too late. ]

Trivia: Before leaving Great Britain in 1789, Samuel Slater --- who memorized all the machinery he had supervised as a textile apprentice and sailed under a false name to evade British restrictions against exporting textile machinery --- only told his intentions to his mother by letter, sent from London, a few hours before setting sail to New York City. Source: An Empire Of Wealth: The Epic History Of American Economic Power, John Steele Gordon.

Currently Reading: Otis: Giving Rise To The Modern City, Jason Goodwin.

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