Gut Rumbles

June 23, 2006

that's how I see it.

Back in 1974, when I took the GRE exam to get into graduate school, I answered one essay question that I thought was a pretty good poser. "Name three inventions that changed the face of America and describe why you chose those three."

I didn't hesitate in stating #1-- The Railroad. #2-- The telegraph. #3-- Barbed Wire.

You might quibble about my selection of barbed wire for #3--- ahead of Henry Ford's Model-T, mass production techniques or even the lowly cotton gin, but I had good reason for picking it then and I still like that pick today. Barbed wire damn sure changed the wild west when it was being settled, by allowing a rancher to confine his cattle on his own land, and (even more importantly) control water where he had it and others did not.

Yep. Barbed wire changed the west.


Rob, you been reading some Louis L'Amour.......back then, or now?

Though he might have been pretty much a pulp and formula writer, he did have a sure sense of the history of the west, and a damn fine manner of describing it.

And he agreed with your take on the the effect of the barbed wire on the history of the West.

You're in good company there.

Sloop New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Posted by: Jim on June 23, 2006 10:41 PM

1. Franklin's "key" in the storm--electricity powers everything we consider normal civilization.

2. Geysers of oil . . . the products produced by that abiotic (yes, "a") are abundant beyond observation. Of course, since 1869, gummint has been fighting wars to get it, while we barely think beyond gasoline. Truth is, most barely think.

3. Harnessing (somewhat thus far), the atom. Due to the mindlessness of military thinking, that has been reduced to bomb-making, and nuke plants. But its potential is beyond measure, were idiots and politicians (pardon my redundancy) to leave the matter alone for true research.

Barbed wire made sure that Bill Gates could eat steak without needing candles. But that is pert much it on the twisted wire. After all, now you have gummint, which blows by barbed wire and takes water supplies from those who make steaks.

Electricity, oil and the atom.

All three--products of nature, waiting for man to exploit them to make every other modern convenience--including the free market (if only it could proceed unhindered by idiotic politicians)--really free.

See--I have several ponies, and all know more than one trick. I just like jerking your groupies.

Barbed wire might come in 5th. Number 4 is definitely "beer." Need the beer to cook the steak.

Number 6 is Walmart, but few understand economics.


Posted by: jb on June 23, 2006 10:42 PM

good fences make good neighbors. ;-)

Posted by: imp on June 23, 2006 11:30 PM

1- anesthesia.
2 - Home freezer/refrigetators
3 - Home PCs

For 3 things that TURLY changed the face of America...

1- plastic surgery
2 - Avon
3 - Covergirl

Posted by: Steph on June 24, 2006 04:15 AM

The greatest American invention has been the Thermos.

Think about it. It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold. What's really amazing, however, is how does it know?!?

Posted by: Ralph Gizzip on June 24, 2006 08:20 AM

I figure that John Deere's steel plow changed the west more than anything. Without it there would have been no reson for the barbed wire and it would still be open range. But with the plow the dirt farmers were able to break up the tall grass praries and did..although a lot of the soil blew south to Mexco and some even to New York. But in any event the steel plow was the start of the agriculture industry as we know it today.

Posted by: GUYK on June 24, 2006 12:05 PM

I don't care what you choose for the other two, but the flush toilet changed the world as much as those three and very much for the better.

Invented in England, the "water closet" allowed us to get rid of all of those disease ridden outhouses - especially in the cities. That one invention has done more for the health and welfare of millions than all the barbed wire ever strung.

Posted by: Roy on June 25, 2006 05:53 PM
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