Friday, July 09, 2010

HOT AIR: Albany, NYC, Syracuse

Budget Deadlock - Day 99

Heat Wave - Who Invented Air Conditioning?

Barrett, on Albany Strife,

Criticizes Paterson Vetoes

As Unjustified Pessimism

On Funding of Medicaid

A great deal of what has been going on in Albany for years is confusing to most people.

Media reports shed some light on events, but do not reveal the motivations of the actors.

One person who is more often right than wrong, and has perceptions that many others lack, is Wayne Barrett, a senior editor at the Village Voice, who has been covering politics for almost 30 years.

He has been writing about the budget crisis for the last week, and is particularly critical of Governor Paterson's veto of 7,000 bills.

What it comes down to is that all factions of both parties are acting in what they believe is their own partisan interest. The result has been deadlock, with the possibility of a descent into chaos as time goes on and the money runs out.

Rather than rewrite what Barrett and his team of researchers have discovered and explained, we want to link directly to his Village Voice articles and blog.

We recommend it for your weekend reading, if you have the opportunity. You should read what Barrett has written before coming to your own judgment on the budget. Among the titles of his most recent articles are: "David Paterson Vetoes His Way to Tabloid Glory", "David Paterson, After Letting St. Vincent's Die, Rescues a Harlem Hospital From His Old District", "David Paterson Shadow-Boxes Himself; Press Awards Him TKO", and "Mike Bloomberg Draws Praise for the Same Budget Decisions That Reap Tabloid Ridicule for Shelly Silver".

This does not mean we agree with every point Barrett makes, but his observations are an important part of a discussion, as the months pass is becoming too complex for many people to follow

One conclusion most New Yorkers have drawn by now is distaste for all the combatants and their self-serving manipulation of facts and events. But the remedy for this situation is harder to discern.


This week will be most remembered for the heat wave that struck the northeast. The degree of discomfort experienced by New Yorkers varied with the availability of air conditioning in homes, offices, subways and buses.

For us at New York Civic, it was a new experience to leave a relatively pleasant office, go out on Park Avenue South to find a place to eat lunch, and be struck by a blast of hot, dry air, making us feel as if we were in a new milieu, more like a sauna than a steam room.

It made one reflect on what New York would be like if we had this heat every day - think of summer in Phoenix, Arizona and similar locations. How dependent we are on climate, and how limited in range our comfort level has become, were among the thoughts that crossed my mind while my co-workers and I sweltered, knowing we simply had to hold out until we reached the Curry Express on East 29th Street, just east of Lexington Avenue, in Little India.

BTW, we recommend the place highly. Delicious (to us) food at very reasonable prices.


Who invented air conditioning, anyway? When and where did it come into use? The inventor was Willis Haviland Carrier, who founded the eponymous company.

Carrier was born in 1876 in Angola, New York, a village on Lake Erie, which was named after the sub-Saharan African nation, then a Portuguese colony, which at that time was being visited by Quaker missionaries from Angola, NY. The lakeside village still exists; its population was 2,266 at the 2000 census. The nation's name sounds Angola-Saxon rather than African, but in fact, it is derived from the Bantu kingdom of Ndongo, whose word meaning king is "ngola". You didn't know that.

Carrier studied mechanical engineering at Cornell, graduating in 1901. He went to work at the Buffalo Forge Company, in the heating division, and reasoned that if forcing air through hot coils would warm a room, using cold water in metal coils would cool the room. The company sent him to help a client in New York.

On July 17, 1902, the first air conditioner began operating at the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing & Publishing Company in Brooklyn. Carrier obtained a patent for his invention in 1906. It was designed to humidify or dehumidify air. In 1914, he and six other young engineers formed the Carrier Engineering Corporation which, despite being beset by financial problems brought on by the Wall Street Crash of October 1929, survived the Great Depression and moved to Syracuse, NY. Carrier died in 1950, and the company was acquired by United Technologies (formerly General Dynamics) in 1979, and its headquarters moved to Farmington, CT.

The Carrier Dome, Syracuse's indoor arena, is the largest domed stadium of any college campus. It received a naming gift of $2.75 million from the Carrier Corporation, in addition to $15 million in state funds during Hugh L. Carey's campaign for re-election in 1978. You may observe that the name Carey is part of Carrier. The arena opened in 1980 and is still in use today. Despite its name, the Carrier Dome is not air conditioned.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:37 AM

    The dome at Syracuse is no longer called the Carrier Dome. I've always assumed that this is related to Carrier's closing of its factory in Syracuse. There is no corporate name on the dome now, which tells something about Syracuse's economic state.