- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 20, 2002

Noble: Willis Haviland Carrier, the original cool cat, who helped put summer on ice for the past century.
Air conditioning turned 100 years old this week, courtesy of a man with an uncool name from an uncool place (Angola, N.Y., a town on the eastern shore of Lake Erie), with the uncool occupation of mechanical engineer at perhaps one of the least-cool companies ever, the Buffalo Forge Co.
Yet, hardly a year out of college, Mr. Carrier created a device that contributed more to the cool of the country than an entire generation of beatniks. He was actually attempting to solve a printing problem: As a consequence of changing temperature and humidity, the paper being used by a publishing client kept fluctuating in size, making for maddening ink misalignments.
His solution? Cool the building by blowing air over coils of cold water. His plans were put into effect in 1902, and soon a cool wave was creeping across the country. Movie theaters were featuring air conditioning by 1920, both chambers of Congress had adopted it by 1930, and Cadillac drivers were cruising with it by 1941. While World War II chilled its household adoption, 80 percent of U.S. homeowners were counting on it to temper their household temperatures by 2000.
It's true that by allowing Congress to stay in session throughout the sweltering summer, air conditioning is arguably the third-worst thing to happen to Washington's environment. (Second-worst is a tie between the sludge the Army Corps of Engineers is dumping into the Potomac and a certain TV journalist's hairpiece. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle is believed to be holding up a vote.) However, air conditioning has also made possible way-cool technologies like sterile surgical rooms and microchips. And Carrier, the eponymous cooling company? It earned a cool $9 billion in U.S. revenue last year.
Knaves: Charles C. Benoit and his cat-cooking cohorts.
There's an army of angry Americans that wouldn't mind clawing out the eyes of Benoit and his Kansas City-area friends. And no wonder. There's simply nothing to justify their torture of a 7-week-old tabby on the searing coals of a barbecue. Their cheers and meows caught the attention of a neighbor, Sherry Scott, who pulled the kitten, named Lucky, to safety.
Miss Scott burned her hand while saving Lucky, and later identified Benoit, who, it should be noted, is denying charges of felony animal abuse. Yet it wouldn't be surprising that a Butthead-wanna-be like Benoit would think that such shocking behavior was cool. After all, his most recent arrest was for allegedly blowing up a toilet with a firecracker. Since 1998, he has amassed convictions for, among other things, marijuana possession, stealing, interfering with the police and disorderly conduct.
In addition to felony animal abuse, Benoit is facing a number of outstanding charges, including vandalism and domestic assault. In increasing Benoit's bond to $25,000, (and inadvertently making a bid for an understatement of the year award), Clay County Associate Circuit Judge Rex Gabbert called him "a threat to the community."
If convicted, Benoit could face up to five years in jail. That will come as little consolation to Lucky, who had to be euthanized shortly after she was rescued, a consequence not of ill-treatment but rather of a congenital chest condition. Still, it's worth hoping that Benoit will face a long time in jail.
Yeah. That would be cool.

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