As the US is marking its 233rd anniversary of its independence, the BBC’s Kevin Connolly gives his own list of reasons why America should be celebrated…
This is more about the American genius for making daily life more convenient, more entertaining or just more fattening.
First – air conditioning – testament to the American ability to conquer the harshest physical environments and to expand American life towards improbable horizons.
Ice cubes, too, reflect the same happy knack for making light of the hostility of circumstance.
Every floor of every motel building in the country has an ice machine; every convenience store sells it by the sackful, and every drink you are served contains lumps of ice big enough to sink a battleship.
Third -valet parking. President Barack Obama says America invented the car, which it did not. But it did invent motoring, and the pinnacle of the American motoring experience is the practice of having someone else park your car when you arrive at a restaurant or hotel.
Item Number Four is aviation. America did invent the aeroplane but it was rather a dull device at first and spent its early years being flown short distances in wobbly straight lines by plucky pioneers.
Fifth -chewing gum. One of America’s more enduring gifts to humanity requiring no comment or explanation.
1893, in fact, was a bumper year for people who do not worry too much about their fillings since it also saw the invention of Cracker Jack, a mixture of popcorn and peanut coated in toffee which is the baseball fan’s snack of choice.
And while we are on the subject of food, achievement number seven is American cheese – an industrially processed foodstuff chiefly valued for its ability to melt evenly on to a hamburger.
For anyone travelling through an airport this weekend I thought I should also mention the invention of metal detector in 1881 by Alexander Graham Bell, he of telephone fame.
Finally, for this year anyway I give you the space pen – a miracle of engineering which allowed astronauts to write in outer space.
Actually, pencils are dangerous in space because wood is flammable. The Russians use the space pen, too, apparently.
I leave it there because I have run out of time [space] rather than because I have run out of examples of American ingenuity.
We will see – but for now, happy Independence Day.