Day 102

5.03: My usual favourite scientific magazine from days of yore is Popular Mechanics, whose Google Books entries take it back almost to 1902.

But Scientific American’s running it a good race at the moment, with its 165th birthday celebration of the ghosts of science past. The one that caught my eye was that of Serb-plagiarising jackass Thomas Edison, posing by a motorcar kitted out with one of his fancy nickel–iron storage batteries.

Dapper chap isn’t he? But underneath that suave dickie-bowed exterior lurks an idea-stealing, cash-withholding, employee cheating, self-glorying calculating conspirator.

The reference to the Serb up there was about Nikola Tesla, who – if you believe everything that cartoons tell you – is a darn sight nicer than Edison. Here’s a cartoon telling you something about him.

You should watch that, but you won’t, so here’s the gist. Edison hired Tesla, who was younger and more attractive then him, and offered him a motorcar full of money to develop a direct current motor. Telsa built it but Edison didn’t pay. So Telsa said, in his suave Serbian brogue, “Good day, Sir.” And left.

Then he built a better sort of electricity that became much more popular than Edison’s electricity, which was basically shit.

Edison riposted by electrocuting an elephant. It was called Topsy.

In Edison’s defence, the elephant was a triple murderer.

Actually, let’s take a breather from this and consider the elephant for a moment.

We all know not to believe everything we read on Wikipedia (or at least to check it against an intellectual cartoon) so can this sentence from Topsy’s page be true?

“A means of execution initially discussed was hanging.”

Please write if you can point me in the direction of any instances of a criminal elephant being executed by hanging.

Anyway, back at the story. Edison capitulates, adopts Tesla’s type of electricity, becomes richer than all the spoilt cats bequeathed nutty widow’s fortune in all of history, and Telsa dies alone an unremembered. The end.

6.53: All very straightforward. Four more chapters stripped back to their useful bones, families cleaved apart, prison camps raided, assassinations bungled, the usual jazz. Stuart and I starting to learn to handle one another’s vaguaries like a dementing husband and wife.

6.58: I spoke too soon. Stuart refuses to email today’s work anywhere, and, he being incompatible with any form of removable storage device, my novel is now trapped inside him like a fly in a lightbox. Bah, Stuart.

~ by David Thorley on August 13, 2010.

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