50% glorious / 50% inglorious affair

While Hallmark people are printing and sending out thousands of Valentine’s day cards, shinny and rosy,  … or maybe millions, don’t know, my love radar is broken… Google reminds us that is Thomas Alva Edison day. I personally am grateful for the reminder as I was never good at holding out important dates in my head and Edison’s birthday has never been on my “must remember” list. However, it is evening, I am using his invention to communicate with you guys &gals and I want to dip my quill into writing again.

Since Google gently filled up my knowledge void, I got to read about the man.

Did you know that he got kicked out of school after only 3 months and the teachers did not think much of him, or that the other classmates used to make fun of him constantly [although I kind of put that on him being called Alva, cause let’s face it, with a name like that you are set to become a laughing target?

When he was little he set a train wagon on fire with his little mobile laboratory and the conductor kicked him out of it. I think Edison was a truly inventive man because he later told a story of how his partial deafness actually comes from the conductor that helped him get on the train by lifting him up from…his ears. Pinocchio or not, in 1877 he created the Phonograph even if, ironically, his hearing was not in tip top shape. Here is a remake from 1927 of his first recording with the phonograph.

Mary had a little lamb,
whose fleece was white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went,
the lamb was sure to go.

With the money he got from the phonograph he started the industrial-invention hunt. With the exception of the phonograph, all the other “inventions” he patented were simply improvements of already existing contraptions. Like the bulb. Edison actually only made the first cheap and resistent bulb. The list of inventors that got their “light bulb lit” is gloriously long. However, his merit remains unfeathered.

Not all that Edison touched got turned into gold. He also tried to mine iron ore in Pennsylvania. He actually sold all his General Electric stocks to finance his mine a round 1880 but he failed and he called this his biggest business failure. This is his pist face sitting on the porch of the mine.

But for me his biggest failure was the fact that he had to kill Topsy.

Edison was at war with another inventor called George Westinghouse who promoted alternative current because it was cheaper, on long distances. Edison supported the continuous current and he proved this in 2 horrible manners: the electric chair  invention and  by killing/electrifying Topsy, the elephant with a bad temper, in a publicity stunt, thus proving he can also invent being a cruel ASshole.

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