A good example

Thank you for your writings about Tesla. I found them fascinating and will try to find your blog to read more. You did a great job and have provided an excellent case study to be carefully read by today's inventors.
Jerry Yankie

You can find Larry Berardinis' blog at forums.motionsystemdesign.com.

Complexity in words

Your May 2006 editorial in MSD raises some complicated but intriguing issues. Keep writing.
Jim Kornfeld
Sharp Packaging Systems Inc.
Sussex, Wis.

Man vs. machine

Your “Of mice, men, and machines” editorial was an excellent article, but one frustrating problem remains unsolved for the displaced worker. Persons displaced seldom have the necessary skills to work with machines or technology replacing them. There are few employers willing to spend the time and money required to retrain a veteran worker, as they prefer to hire a worker who comes to them already trained. They are cheaper overall.

A statement that expresses the same sentiment as your editorial: “Technology or machines are Neutral. It is all in what you do with them that makes them good, bad, or evil.” Indeed, there is always someone ready to subvert a good thing. Take, for instance, movies, TV, VCRs, or computers — we all are aware of ways in which they have been used for purposes of immorality. Need I say more?
Jack R. Jones

A crafty movement

I enjoyed your “Of Mice, Men, and Machines” editorial in the May issue. For one thing, now I know the root of “sabotage.” And the topic of automation is one I think about often — in part because our company's vision sensors make it possible to replace human inspectors with faster, more accurate automated inspections, and in part because I spend much of my free time studying the Arts and Crafts movement, which never realized its goal of supplanting machine-made goods with handmade.

The Arts and Crafts movement is back in vogue, especially in parts of the country where it was big in the first place, like Minnesota and southern California. (Many new houses imitate the style, which, as the president of the Twin Cities Bungalow Club says, is like sticking decals on a Barbie house.) The movement taps into utopian thinking that popped up in the 1800s: It was a reaction to the dehumanization associated with the Industrial Revolution. It started in England in the mid-1800s and included not just housing and furnishings, but landscaping as well. (Famous garden designer and writer Gertrude Jekyll was a big proponent.) It hopped to America around 1900, where Gustav Stickley was its champion. He started a magazine called The Craftsman to promote the lifestyle, which was family-centered and more affordable than it was in England. The magazine included house plans, which is why houses in that style came to be called Craftsman houses. In the end, American Arts and Crafts architecture ended up having two branches — Stickley's Craftsman and Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie style.

This bit of history is a good window for looking into how people viewed themselves and the family 100 years ago.
Erin Hynes
Banner Engineering Corp.
Plymouth, Minn.