Mounted

March 23, 2010

I saw this wonderful ceremonial horse mask today in an interesting exhibit, A Song for the Horse NationIt’s shown in the Smithsonian’s NYC branch of the Museum of the American Indian which is housed in the fabulously ornate former custom house at the tip of lower Manhattan.

 


Red Scare Irony

November 29, 2008

allen

Did the Joe McCarthy Red Scare produce anything good?

The other night I was at a gathering of people who were mostly quite a bit older than I am.  I spent some time talking with a fellow who has endowed a local cultural organization, the Puffin Foundation.  He’s a socialist from way back, and he was blacklisted during the 50’s.  That meant that many jobs were totally closed off to him, and I guess he didn’t have the inclination or resources to set himself up as an independent professional.  So he did things the good old American CAPITALIST way, and he went into business.

Turns out, this commie had a good head for capitalism, and he ended up getting rich.   He gave a lot of his gains to his workers in benefits, stock ownership and stuff like that, but he still had  plenty of filthy lucre from his exploitation of their labor left over, so he set up a foundation.  It hosts interviews, art exhibits, performances, and lectures, and it is a wonderful resource for the region.

What was his business?  Machine screws!  As an engineer and sometimes tinkerer, I know all about Allen screws, those fasteners with the hexagonal shaped hole that tightly fits a bent piece of metal that you insert to torque the screw down. They fascinated me as a kid by their precision.  Such pieces are the foundation of industrial society.  Before they existed, fasteners were made by hand, individually.  Then someone built a metal lathe to create them more precisely, but of course, that lathe was built with hand-machined fasteners.  That was the end of the artisan screw, however.  From then on, machines were used to make machine parts from which more machines could be made, bigger and better.  Without that, industrial capitalism would have stalled in its tracks.

He broke the monopoly on fastener distribution in the USA.  How’s that for a pinko!  I hope Tailgunner Joe is turning over in his grave.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 195 other followers