Jennifer Roback Morse

I could never be a Leftist because the Left seems to hate two things that I love: men and American business.

Male-bashing has developed into a full-blown art-form in this country. And strangely enough, the male-bashing is often accompanied by the presumption that men and women are the same in every significant way. No one seems to notice the logical conclusion: if men are bad, and women and men are the same, ergo, women must be bad. But never mind. I love the men and boys in my life, precisely because of the ways in which they differ from me. And many aspects of American business are distinctly “guy things.”  I love these parts of American business too.

These two things, American men and American business came together for me last weekend. My husband and I had a few blessed child-free hours, so we went on a date. We went to the Antique Gas and Steam Engine fair, held two week-ends a year on the grounds of the Museum of the same name, here in Vista, California. Male and female difference number one: My husband went to look at the antique steam engines. I went to look at my husband, and a whole lot of other guys, in their natural habitat.

What kind of machines are we talking about?  Everything from huge steam-driven turbines, large enough to power a city street, to a dinky little engine that runs a butter-churning machine. This museum is a combination of technological history, and Americana. Old gentlemen in blue-striped engineer outfits drove steam-propelled tractors around the grounds, blowing their whistles at imaginary obstacles. Other guys showed off antique farm machinery, that they had restored from a pile of rust. (The theme of this year’s fair was, I kid you not, “In Rust, We Trust.”)
Still others worked in a replica of a blacksmith’s shop, demonstrating the fine points of the blacksmith’s craft.

Strolling through the streets of this antique tractor fair, you could see continual improvements in technology.
Old-fashioned wringer washing machines were on display. You could imagine how welcome a gas-powered agitator would be to a hard-working farm family, accustomed to washing and wringing their clothes by hand. You could see the improvements in farm implements, as a tractor took the place of a horse pulling a plow. Then the ordinary tractor made possible a whole series of more specialized attachments: a disk, a thresher, a combine.

Jennifer Roback Morse

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., is the author of Smart Sex: Finding Life-long Love In A Hook-up World. She blogs at

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