The Corner

Wits and Benefaction

Toward the end of today’s Impromptus, I sing a little hymn to George C. Devol, who died two weeks ago at a cool 99. He was the “father of robotics,” and the inventor of the robotic arm. With his scientific wits, he gave mankind a huge boost. I note that it is not only the “non-profit” types who help us. The “profit” types are invaluable and indispensable.

A reader writes,

Hi, Jay —

Your item about Devol reminded me of another unsung hero-inventor: George Ballas, the inventor of the weed-whacker. (I know you’re an urban type, so I should explain that a weed-whacker is a tool used to trim the edges of one’s lawn!) [Hey now, I was exposed to plenty of yard work back in Michigan — enough to last any number of lifetimes.]

Anyway, here’s a little article on Ballas, and how important people like him are to progress.

Yes. Ballas died earlier this summer, at 85. (His obit in the New York Times is here.) I’m hoping that such an idea — an idea like the weed-whacker — comes to me someday. I’ll letcha know.

Most Popular

White House

The Mueller Report Should Shock Our Conscience

I've finished reading the entire Mueller report, and I must confess that even as a longtime, quite open critic of Donald Trump, I was surprised at the sheer scope, scale, and brazenness of the lies, falsehoods, and misdirections detailed by the Special Counsel's Office. We've become accustomed to Trump making up ... Read More
World

What’s So Great about Western Civilization

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Redacted: Harm to Ongoing Matter), One of the things I tell new parents is something that was told to me when my daughter still had that ... Read More
Film & TV

Jesus Is Not the Joker

Actors love to think they can play anything, but the job of any half-decent filmmaker is to tell them when they’re not right for a part. If the Rock wants to play Kurt Cobain, try to talk him out of it. Adam Sandler as King Lear is not a great match. And then there’s Joaquin Phoenix. He’s playing Jesus ... Read More
Sports

Screw York Yankees

You are dead to me. You are a collection of Fredos. The cock has crowed, you pathetic sniveling jerks. The team I have rooted for since 1965, when I first visited the House that Ruth Built, where I hawked peanuts and ice cream a lifetime ago, watched countless games (Guidry striking out 18!), has gotten so ... Read More
White House

The Problem with the Mueller Report

So much for collusion. The media conversation has now officially moved on from the obsession of the last two years to obstruction of justice. That’s because the first volume of the voluminous Mueller report, the half devoted to what was supposed to be the underlying crime of a Trump conspiracy with Russia, ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Trump Can’t Cry ‘No Fair’

If I may jump in, I take Charlie’s point and I think he’s largely correct. I also think David is correct. There’s not that much of a contradiction in that because I think to some extent they’re talking about different things. And this reflects a larger frustration I have with many of the ... Read More