Wednesday, August 26, 2009

10 Greatest Under-Rated Inventions of Mankind

1. Beer

I had to start with this one.  Where would we be today without beer?  Granted, a lot of kids would still be “here” without it.  But those of us lucky enough to still be able to drink it, it’s almost enough convince a die-hard Atheist after every gulp that there just might be a God after all.  Beer has had its hand in almost every single major event throughout human history.  Would Alexander have persevered across Europe, Asia and Africa totally sober?  No way.  Would Nicola Tesla have spent that much time in his dungeon lab without something to get a buzz (besides his experiments)?  Nope.  Sure, it’s probably helped get a few wars started, but think of the bright side: It gave the survivors something to do afterwards.  The most amazing aspect of beer is how it was simultaneously invented (or discovered) in so many cultures without having direct contact: Japan, Africa, Europe, South America, the Caucasus, the Mongolian Steppe, the Ganges River delta, and now even in your local 7-11 cooler.  Ben Franklin summed it up best: “Beer is proof that God loves us all.”

2. Air Conditioning

This is one of those things we’re happy to greet us when coming in from 90 degree heat, yet we almost never think to appreciate it on a more spiritual level.  When it breaks during a heat wave, you never stop being thankful for it after it’s repaired.  You kiss the hands and feet of the sweaty repair guys as they pack their tools.  You ask if they want to marry your daughter.  You start letting your butt crack show as a sign of homage to their mastery of the trade.

3. Plastic

I started to pick out individual plastic items until I realized that it was plastic itself that was the wunderkind of it all.  Just pause right now and scan your surroundings to identify everything that contains plastic.  Yes.  Pretty damn amazing.  And where would it be without all the imported oil we depend on to make those wonderful things?  Cars, Clothes, Electronics, Sports Gear, Medical supplies, Aircraft, even building construction.  Imagine picking up dog crap with leather gloves?  No way.  Plastic, throw-away gloves are mandated.  Same for changing disc brake pads and performing routine prostate exams.

4. Ice

I’ll bet you’ve never once stopped and said “Thank God for ice.”  If you have, you’re probably just weird anyway.  But regardless, now is the time to stop and be thankful for it.  Every time your kid got popped in the face with a baseball or kicked in the chest by soccer cleats, or jumped off the roof into an empty swimming pool… ice was there to make it all better.  Your warm beer.  Your fizzless soda.  Your warm shrimp cocktail.  Yes, it was always there making things right.  Yet we never stop to appreciate it.  Ice Ice baby.  Doh!  One guy ruins it all.  Damn him!

5. Microwave Ovens

Anyone age 40 or older should remember how long it used to take to heat up a “quick meal” on the stove.  It sucked ass.  Kids today bitch about 5 or 6 minutes being too long.  We just stare at them slackjawed in total disbelief, and they stare back with that “whatev” look in return.  The bain of pace makers for years, yet the life-saving mechanism for bachelors and single moms everywhere.  So many wrong things have been put into them only to never come back alive, but whatever.  Kids won’t be happy until we arrive at the Jetsons or old Star Trek meal generator devices.  But for now, be thankful for your trusty Microwave oven.

6. Coffee

More than beer, nothing has touched more historical textbook material than coffee.  Without coffee Sun Tsu couldn’t have found the Art in War.  Jackson Pollack would have passed out on his tricycle in the middle of a canvas. Nothing in the business world would have ever been accomplished. Nothing.  Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, someone above you most certainly is.  So whether you like it or not, it’s involved with your career, your company, and your future.  Whenever there’s a bidding war, it’s the guy that doesn’t drink coffee that gets dumped on his face, and hence, his company loses the contract, sending shockwaves across his company: layoffs, cutbacks, closures.  All because this stupid bastard didn’t feel it was important enough to get juiced up to do battle against his enemies.  As Sponge Bob said: “Good luck with that”.

7. Digital Cameras

When you think about it, digital photography isn’t just about convenience.  It’s about efficiency and speed.  It’s also about reach and pervasiveness.  Think of all the things you’ve seen and learned from viewing digital images that, had they been on paper, you might have never seen.  FlickR, Picasa, PhotoBucket, and so on, wouldn’t even exist.  Think of all the first-hand, Johnny-on-the-spot images we’ve seen that wouldn’t be possible if someone had to say “hey, did you change the film roll and put a new flash bulb in?”  Meanwhile, their buddy had already crashed his motorcycle into the bus and they missed the chance to post it online.  This goes into cell phones of course, which are even more ubiquitous than traditional cameras.  Every teenager has one.  They keep it ready for when the next fat slob rent-a-cop hassles them for skateboarding.  Be thankful for digital photography and video capturing.  It’s changed our world immensely.

8. The Charcoal Grill

Sure, gas is easier.  But charcoal just flat-out tastes better.  If you can’t tell, you’re too stupid to be eating at all and should be fed by tube.  If you have functioning taste buds, even if you’re a vegan, anything grilled on charcoal is just the way to go.  Anything that can be eaten tastes better when grilled over charcoal.  Hamburgers, Steaks, Fish, Chicken, Squid, Eel, Squirrel, Dog, Cat, Solicitors (with Farva beans and a nice Cianti). 

9. Velcro

Sure, it’s annoying as hell every time you rip apart the bond.  But the bond itself is what’s so incredible.  Who would have thought the NASA space program of the 1960’s would have brought back something so amazing and that it would find its way into so many common things around us.  Shoes.  Coats.  Bags.  Now, if only someone could invent silent Velcro.  That would be the bomb.

10. Origami

Yeah, sure, go ahead a scoff.  But it got you through hours of dull school work and fork-in-the-eye staff meetings.  Raise your hand if you read the heading and at first thought it said Orgasm?  Yeah, right.

Honorable Mentions

11. Porn (need I say more?)

12. Explosives

13. Martial Arts

14. Computers (why not)

15. Nitrous Oxide (not the kind used in cars either)

16. Power Tools

This has been the 17th installement of Cranium Drainium.  Enjoy!

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