Friday, March 28, 2008

Humanity's Best and Worst Inventions of All Time

It's time for my first annual review of the Best and Worst Inventions in the History of the Human Race.

Let's start with the WORST:

1) The Debit Card. Whether you're swiping it for $145 worth of groceries at Hannaford or for a soda and a bag of chips at the Blue Canoe, never has there been a more convenient way for someone to suck all the money out of your bank account in a matter of seconds.

Do you feel secure punching in your PIN number as complete strangers stand just a few feet away, and a store surveillance camera watches your every move?

And does it irritate you when people say “PIN number,” even though PIN already stands for “Personal Identification Number?” There are all kinds of educated people going around mentioning their “Personal Identification Number Number” and their Vehicle Identification Number Number (VIN).

Get a clue, people.

2) Woman's Day magazine. This publication survives on disease and fear. It should be renamed “Hypochondriac's Day.”

The 110-page February issue had 16 different full-page ads for medication for everything from cholesterol to constipation.

Other pages shill unhealthy foods, like Spahetti-O's, or products with known disease-causing toxins, such as bleach, candy, and Thomas Kinkade paintings.

Meanwhile, a featured article enumerated 50 different health risks, including eight things that make you more likely to get cancer, such as driving, drinking, eating, having a mother with wide hips, and getting too many mammograms.

I wish I were joking.

3) Toilet Paper. I don't really have much against using trees to clean off the remnants of my personal waste, but I'm tired of seeing those stupid bumper stickers:

“If you object to logging, try using plastic toilet paper.”

First of all, anyone who has used a public restroom knows what it's like to sit in a stall and wonder about all the things you wouldn't do to get some plastic toilet paper, or some 80-grade sandpaper, or anything else more comfortable than the substance you've been forced to use as bathroom tissue.

Secondly, how on Earth do you suppose people managed before Charmin? Probably with a piece of soft cloth.

If an old T-shirt was good enough for George Washington, it will good enough for me, if and when it comes down to a choice between that or breathing.

Speaking of which, it's time to move on to the BEST inventions:

1) The toilet. I should not have to explain this one.

2) The Internet. As I write this, I'm listening to my own personal radio station, created at Enter your favorite recording artists, and they start playing lots of music you like, including wonderful songs you've never heard before. It doesn't cost a dime, and the ads aren't even that annoying.

I entered Conway Twitty and Rage Against the Machine at the same time, just to see if their server would explode or something, but it just started playing a lot of angry love songs.

Finding out about Pandora probably elicits a low-key response from most people, such as “huh,” or “neat.” Fifteen years ago it would have sent us into absurd spasms of excitement.

Put simply, The Internet has made it easy to get stuff for free that used to cost money.

Or to buy stuff that you didn't know existed, such as:

3) The right to adopt a wild horse or burro from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

I bet they'll accept your debit card.

No comments: