August

Hello, newsletter subscribers.

It is now the month of August, which symbolizes the end of summer, even though summer does not officially end until the end of September. Why is this? No one knows. But the matter is even more confusing for those who live in the southern hemisphere. For them, summer is winter. Autumn is Spring. And August has a different name altogether, though I cannot pronounce it.

Though I am a busy investigative journalist, I took the end of the previous month (July) to indulge myself in a brief vacation. One of the fruits of this endeavor has been chronicled on the latest edition of my program concerning the McDonald’s Pizza jingle. More developments regarding this jingle are forthcoming. But encountering a jingle expert on the Santa Monica Pier ferris wheel—

Excuse me. I just noticed that when I type the word “ferris", the artificial intelligence that lives inside my computer manifests a red, squiggly line underneath. Typically, this indicates either that I have made a spelling error or that the artificial intelligence is incorrect about how a word should be spelled. When I ask for its suggestion as to how to type “ferris”, it insists that the word should be capitalized. I will now pause to do some research into the matter. This pause should not affect your reading experience in any way.

I have completed my research. It appears the Ferris wheel (no more squiggly line, I see) was invented by a Mr. George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr., an American civil engineer who invented the eponymous wheel for the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exhibition.

So that explains that.

All due respect to Mr. Ferris, but it seems he was simply in the right place at the right time. Although he may have been the first to take bolt to metal and build a giant wheel ride, he certainly was not the first to look at a wheel and think, “I could ride on that.” My point is that while we now know this ride as the Ferris wheel, it seems quite likely that given any amount of time we would enjoy the same contraption built by the hands of someone else. Perhaps it would be called the Smith wheel or the Davis wheel or the Culpepper wheel.

Still, even though I now understand the reason why there is a red, squiggly line underneath the word “Ferris” when I do not capitalize it, I think I will exert my privilege as a biological intelligence to continue spelling it like “ferris”. These wheels are ubiquitous enough that the word should be generic. Similarly to how the word “dumpster” is no longer capitalized despite the name of its inventor: Stink E. Gross-Dumpster, III.

Thank you very much for your attention, and I look forward to corresponding with you all again in roughly four weeks.

Sincerely,
Brian Thompson, journalist