A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Bob Bose And The Grand Coulee Dam
Thursday, April 20, 2006

I always wanted to be an engineer until I stumbled over the difference between capacitance and inductance. But I have not lost my interest in engineering. One of my favourite authors is Henry Petroski, whose book To Engineer is Human - The Role of Failure in Successful Design led me to read anything he publishes. Another fave of mine is L. Sprague de Camp's The Ancient Engineers. It was in this book that I found out that Sennacherib (705-681 BC), the Assyrian engineer/king, set up the first no parking signs (for chariots) in Nineveh. They read: Royal Road. Let No Man Lesten It.

In the mid 30s an organization called Technocracy started in the US with the idea that engineers in governing position would make the world a better one. The folks at General Electric used to advertise, Progress is our most important product. Somewhere along the line these engineers became linked with fascism and its obsession with order. The only thing good that people ever said about Mussolini is that the trains ran on time. Later on, Alcoa, General Electric and General Motors all somehow failed to make our world a better one.

But I still had hope, and in particular in 1988, when I photographed Bob Bose for his campaign (with backing from the NDP) for mayor of Surrey, BC. He was a pragmatic and intelligent man who happened to be a chemical engineer. He was also skilled in the use of a 4x5 inch camera. When I photographed him, with his chain of office, in the Surrey City Hall I was hoping that the much vaunted order of the engineer would produce results. He was against the mall development of Surrey and that cost him his job in the end.

In 2002 I had to go to Spokane, Washington to a hosta convention. When I realized that the Grand Coulee dam was not too far out of the way I made a detour. The whole site made me think of the excitement of a past era that believed in engineering and the wonders of harnessing nature's power.

To Engineer is Human
Bob Bose


Previous Posts
Stravinsky, Parsifal, Beethoven, Rodney Graham & R...

Tinkering With A BRM P261 V8

The Royal Hudson And The Killer Whale

The Easter Bunny, Brother Edwin Reggio & Attila Ri...

Sábado De Gloria

Quietly Communist

Nitobe Memorial Garden at UBC

UBC Botanical Garden And The Russian Connection

Sex Crimes, Homicide and Drugs

An Estonian, The Change Ringer & St Martin In The ...

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010