We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I stand in awe of the people out there in the world who can design and make the real things that make the real world work, while the rest of us take it all for granted as we pursue other things.
There is an entirely unjustified arrogance, I think, often found in those of us who have more purely abstract work and interests, as if there were something lesser about building things that make trains run. There is surely some insecurity hiding behind that superiority - the insecurity of knowing eternal Shakespeare perhaps, but not having a clue about magnetic detection of invisible flaws in rails - or even about how trains really work.
Like me, many of us would be lost and helpless - thrown back into the stone age - if the everyday, underpaid and underappreciated practical geniuses disappeared.
The Sperry Rail-flaw detector is my case in point today. You could not run a safe railroad without these funky yellow machines, which you can see around regularly, perched on sidings, if you ride rails. Nowadays, they use ultrasound probes. Photo of an older one below, and details of Dr. Elmer Sperry's remarkable career here. As you can see, his useful company - one of 8 manufacturing businesses he created - is still in business in good old Danbury, CT, once the hat-manufacturing capital of the US (and the home of Charles Ives). Thanks, C., for the inspiration.
I too am in awe of those who bring to life tangible works.
In my younger years I was privileged to know Kelly Johnson who invented the P-80 Shooting Star, the U-2 , and the ultimate SR-71. I also had at Lawrence Livermore Labs the chance to be in on several briefings with Dr. Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb.
But I think you might be selling short the man who doesn't produce the tangible item but perhaps is the catalyst for the idea. As my example I give you two names ..LEONARDO DA VINCI and ARISTOTLE. da Vinci gave use many ideas he never worked to fruition and Aristotle discussed the "atom" as the building block of life.....so it's not always the man /woman who conceive and build, but sometimes it's simple the man/woman with an idea.
Those old Greek guys--they did it! Originally, the Greeks believed in Sophia (the wise hand). That wisdom was the work of both hand and mind. However, somewhere between Socrates and Aristotle the two were divided and thus we have those who think, and those who do--even today in our high tech world--we still seem to think that way. Although, the reality is that in order to do there must be a wisdom present!
Not to disparage idea guys ( OK, I lie), but as someone who has spent most of his career having to (somewhat against my will) implement some of the bad ideas of "idea guys" let me tell you, it ain't very romantic. Keep in mind that Da Vinci (and I assume Aristotle) and most of the best "idea guys" first did practical work and became "idea guys" once they proved their ability to produce something tangible. It seems that today, too many people think that they can learn stuff in school and view it as a viable substitue for what the old fashioned "idea guys" used to learn the so-called hard way.
My Father was a Mechanical Engineer at Sperry Gyroscope in Great Neck L.I.. I still have his gold cufflinks. I never had heard about Dr. Sperry before. I think it was eventually bought out by Remington Rand or Univac (mainframe computers??) or went under when the Long Island Defense industry went under. Thanks for the post.