Tag: Invention

John Garand: The Forgotten History of the Man Who Invented the Iconic M1 Garand Rifle


“In my opinion, the M1 rifle is the greatest battle implement ever devised.” —  General George S. Patton

Today is John Garand’s Birthday! Any gun nut – er, “firearms enthusiast” – worth their salt has heard of the M1 Garand (it rhymes with “errand,” by the way). This .30-06 semi-automatic rifle is one of the most iconic American firearms of all time, and was the standard-issue weapon for American infantry troops during World War II and the Korean War. Drill teams and honor guards continue to use this in the present day, such is its role as a symbol of the American military.

Fewer, however, know about the life story of the man behind the weapon – John Garand, a Canadian-American engineer and weapons designer. Born one of a whopping 12 children on a Quebec farm, Garand’s father relocated the entire family to Connecticut following the untimely death of the clan’s mother in 1899. All six boys in the family had the official first name St. Jean le Baptiste, however, John Garand was the only one of them who used “Jean” as his first name. The other five used their middle names.

Delayed Innovation


Sometimes the best thing that can happen to an inventor is for him to be ignored.

Take for example German archery enthusiast Jörg Sprave. He pitched his bow designs to manufacturers for years. None purchased his plans. But Sprave did not idly wait for broader success. He continued to iterate until building something he wished he had thought of years ago. 

Technology and Moral Hazard


shutterstock_125082089Thinking on the confluence of technology tends to run either very hot or very cold: either we stand at the precipice of a new golden age in which sin, suffering, and ugliness are to be banished to the past, or we are about to flush away millennia of hard-won gains to secure some fickle gain or fad.

History shows that both of these visions are flawed, in that our choices are rarely (if ever) as stark as that; it’s always a bit of a mixed bag and more complicated than we expect. However, there are real, and significant trends out there that are worth our notice and attention. One of them is that technology can make the world a better place, not so much by improving ourselves — as the utopians think it will — but by simply changing incentives in such a way that better decisions are clearer and easier to take.

Consider the moral problem posed by peanut allergies. For decades, American parents and school officials have sought a balance between the preferences of the overwhelming majority of people who like peanuts (and find them one of the few reliable ways of getting protein into their kids) and a tiny minority who are deathly allergic to small amounts of the stuff. The time and energy spent on the matter is depressing great and the harms are real to both sides, even if they’re more dramatic for one than the other. So long as something the majority enjoys causes extreme harm — and by accident — to a handful of others, there are no good solutions, only a spectrum of unsatisfactory compromises.

Member Post


As the old axiom states, “necessity is the mother of invention.”  Of course, today, necessity more typically begets ordering something from Amazon, but I digress.  Sometimes, however, to solve a problem, we need to resort to our own ingrained ingenuity, using whatever we have available to fashion a solution.  About a year ago, I channeled […]

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shutterstock_83454223Do you dream in monochrome? Does the term “manual labor” recall painful memories of assembly or installation? Does the Geek Squad avoid your phone calls? Then this post is for you.

What current inventions do you loathe? What innovations do you fear are inevitable? What old products do you miss and are certain you could enjoy again?

I dread the day that my car requires a poorly timed reboot while it updates its software via on-again/off-again satellite internet. “Please wait while we improve your driving experience.”