Solving The Energy Crisis

Long before the energy crunch became a crisis, Rube Goldberg was lampooning the American fascination with gadgetry that helped bring it about. His first invention—an “automatic weight reducing machine ” that employed a doughnut, a bomb, a balloon, a hot stove, and a giant hell to strip pounds from a fat man—appeared in the New York Evening Mail in 1914. Thereafter, until his death in 1970, Goldberg was a national favorite, and his name became synonymous with any complicated device intended to perform a simple task. Read more »

The TVA: It Ain't What It Used to Be

What has befallen “the greatest peacetime achievement of twentieth-century America”s since the New Deal

In recent years, as the energy crisis has developed, and bureaucracies in Washington have wrestled with little success to solve it, and Congress has moved slower than a West Virginia coal train even to agree on a battle strategy, some Americans have proposed that a public agency based in Knoxville, Tennessee, become the model for coping with the problem. Read more »

Wood To Burn

No chapter in railroad history can rival the popular appeal of the wood-burning era. Its great funnel-shaped smokestack, gallant red paint, and polished brass have endeared the wood burner to generations of Americans. Its appearance during a western film raises an excitement second only to that caused by the nick-of-time arrival of the cavalry. Ah, but those imperial clouds of heavy black smoke pouring from Hollywood’s iron horses are as phony as the wagon master’s peril.Read more »