John Dickerson

John Dickerson is a CBS senior national correspondent and Chief Political Analyst. He is also a Contributing Writer to The Atlantic and is co-host of the Slate Political Gabfest.

I don’t know what this is.

I don’t know what this is. It’s not a dog, I know that. I passed by it on a well-used table at an electronics manufacturing plant in Saratoga Springs. I was at Espey Manufacturing to interview Speaker Paul Ryan and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. It’s an aircraft transistor, I think. It had cousins next to it on the table. I was given permission to photograph the little box of wonder. Not everything shelved on metal racks was camera-ready. Curtains kept us from the sensitive gizmos. I love items like this because they cause the mind to unspool. Whose idea created this thing? Was it a revelation or an iteration? Was the goopy brown glue-like stuff a crucial innovation or a work-around? Did hands turn those nuts and bolts, or was it a machine? Where will this travel in its lifetime and how will it come to its end? Have I been near this exact machinery in life before and not known it? How long would it take me to learn how to make it and where would I go to school to learn? Did someone get rich making these and how did they spend their riches? Does no one get rich off of making them any more? What is the most notable event in history in which this item played a role? How much does it cost?

I don’t know what this is. It’s not a dog, I know that. I passed by it on a well-used table at an electronics manufacturing plant in Saratoga Springs. I was at Espey Manufacturing to interview Speaker Paul Ryan and Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. It’s an aircraft transistor, I think. It had cousins next to it on the table. I was given permission to photograph the little box of wonder. Not everything shelved on metal racks was camera-ready. Curtains kept us from the sensitive gizmos. I love items like this because they cause the mind to unspool. Whose idea created this thing? Was it a revelation or an iteration? Was the goopy brown glue-like stuff a crucial innovation or a work-around? Did hands turn those nuts and bolts, or was it a machine? Where will this travel in its lifetime and how will it come to its end? Have I been near this exact machinery in life before and not known it? How long would it take me to learn how to make it and where would I go to school to learn? Did someone get rich making these and how did they spend their riches? Does no one get rich off of making them any more? What is the most notable event in history in which this item played a role? How much does it cost?