Niagara Gazette

Opinion

November 17, 2013

SINGER: Tackling our technological ingratitude

Niagara Gazette — We — myself included — often take the benefits of technical innovation for granted, innumerable gizmos and conveniences maintaining us in the style to which we’re accustomed. The result? We now deem many of these things legated to us as inalienable rights!

You get a sense of how hyper-inventive people once were from Daniel Boorstin’s old book, “The Americans: The Democratic Experience,” focused not on politicians, but on types like a Vermont farm boy, Otis, inventing an elevator for among other places, New York’s Macy’s (itself successful due to strides in the plate glass-making industry, sewing machines impelled by huge uniform needs of the Civil War, etc.). The author discusses one Borden, stunned by the Donner Pass tragedy and despite nay sayers, inventing condensed milk. Not to mention those who made canned goods of all varieties safe, and on it went.

I also remember reading a biography of Charles Kettering (his name now associated with a prestigious New York cancer center) — like Otis, a farm boy, in his case from Ohio, who observed the persnickety behavior of cranks to get cars going. Sometimes they obstinately spun out of control and busted shoulders of people cursing them on frosty mornings.

Kettering worked obsessively until ready to take his invention to Detroit — nothing short of a device to create self-starting vehicles we again take for granted. You apprehend the dizzying pace of such changes from other books like Frederick Lewis Allen’s classic on the ‘20s “Only Yesterday” (1931) and Sinclair Lewis’ fine novel of that era, “Babbitt.”

But a more observable sense of such innovation comes from visiting the Corning Museum of Glass, open all but four days of the year. And here it’s not just glass for tumblers, chess sets, or Pyrex containers once miraculously invented to avoid shattering at great temperatures; but applications for telescopes and more sophisticated equipment. Plus gorgeous art (giant colored glass fruits especially leap out at you). The Corning gift shop reveals an American cornucopia that rested entirely on laborious innovation, and which again, many of us take for granted.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • NIA Giannetti, Robert mug 072414 GUEST VIEW: Village of Lewiston parking issues related to Artpark need to be addressed On Artpark nights, the South Fourth Street area and many other parts of the Village of Lewiston are covered with pop-up parking lots on residential lawns that operate in spite of existing zoning laws prohibiting commercial activity.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Bradberry, Bill mug BRADBERRY: Tourists attracted here by history, beauty, politics As my friend and colleague, writer Don Glynn has so artfully portrayed over the decades, "For many years after the dawn of aviation, U.S. presidents visiting Western New York started at the Niagara Falls Airport. The reason: The main runway here was longer than that of the Buffalo airport and could easily accommodate Air Force One, the presidential aircraft."

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Experience Center vital to tourism here From time immemorial, Niagara tourism leaders have expounded on the need for a first-class orientation center to showcase our assets for the millions of annual visitors here.

    July 23, 2014

  • NIA Confer, Bob mug CONFER: A constitutional convention is not the answer For the past few years it has been popular for folks of the right persuasion (Republicans and neoconservatives) to call for a constitutional convention ("Con-Con") in hopes of passing a balanced budget amendment (BBA.) A lot of people have jumped on that bandwagon; no doubt your email inbox or Facebook news feeds have shown that.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Scheer, Mark mug CITY DESK: Hobel will be missed

    Lost in all the hoopla surrounding last week’s announced retirement of state Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, was the loss of another well-known figure in local government and politics.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • NIA Higgs, Norma mug HIGGS: More pastors, a new church and more of everything Before I go further back in time, I want to just go back to last week where I took my own advice and spent a couple of hours at the Como, where I enjoyed one of their traditional "parade of bowls and plates of great salads, pasta and meat dishes" and listened to longtime friends of Tom Darro roast him with humor, accolades and best wishes. And best of all no one who came to the microphone mentioned garbage totes or carts. It was a welcome relief.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: Time is of the essence in Maziarz probe Voters in the 62nd district and elsewhere across the state deserve the ability to make an educated decision about any candidates who take money from Maziarz while he still has the ability to dole it out.

    July 21, 2014

  • NIA Glynn, Don mug GLYNN: Border Patrol chief examines deadly acts A former Buffalo police chief now has the formidable task of reviewing cases where border agents have used deadly force.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SINGER: Nostalgia for nostalgia: Where will it end? Not only has there been a huge nostalgia boom in America, but we're now getting to the point where there's much nostalgia for nostalgia! Maybe signifying that nostalgia will wear itself out, or, as in the old adage, that it ain't what it used to be?

    July 20, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Barracks site solved -- let's get something else moving The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation heard the community loud and clear this time.

    July 20, 2014

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page