Tuesday, January 03, 2006

History’s Greatest Inventions, the Top Five

#5: The Spork

Sporks, as we all know, are the bastard children of other flatware, and, most likely, an abomination in the eyes of God. Remember those old Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercials where they said it’s so thick you could probably eat it with a fork, but you probably shouldn’t because that would be stupid? Well, the spork solves the old spoony-forky chunky soup dilemma, and it applies to all stews and other is-it-liquid-or-is-it-solid type situations. Bill Cosby, I believe, recommends them for eating Jell-O, as both sporks and gelatin are crimes against nature (regardless of tastiness or utility). But don’t worry about sporks. Like mules, ligers, hobbits, and other half-breed mutants, they are sterile, so it’s okay to put them in your mouth. (I’m not going to vouch for gelatin containing fruit.)

#4: The 8-Track Player

Where would we be without the 8-track player? Well, just try to imagine a world wherein we could not listen to 8-track tapes! What, pray tell, would be the use of those tapes if we didn’t have a player for them?
Without the 8-track player, REO Speedwagon would be more like REO Slowwagon! BTO would be more like Bachman-Turner Underdrive! And ELO? More like Electric Light Dorkestra! How many other acronym-named bands would we be without if we didn’t have this marvel of modern technology?

#3: The Katana

What would a samurai be without his very soul? That is how they thought of these graceful weapons, equivalent to the European longsword, saber, and rapier. In truth, however, katana were a last resort for these great noblemen and warriors. They generally used polearms and bows in combat, or, sometimes, a no-dachi, a much longer version of the katana. But when you want to decapitate a kneeling foe, the katana is your go-to weapon, as it would be if you wanted an honor duel.
Many people also think that ninja use katana. But that’s a damn lie. What ninja use is usually more like a machete, a sharpened flat piece of metal bound to a cheap handle which was also a last resort—to be left in the body of a guard. Ninja use poisoned shuriken, people!
You can learn more about samurai swords here. It’s a bit hard to understand because this guy doesn’t speak English very well, but he is very knowledgeable.

#2: The Tesla Coil

Russian scientist Nokola Tesla has always been remembered for his extremely practical inventions. Of these, not the least of which is the Tesla coil. I actually witnessed one of these in action, because some clearly practically-minded students at my high school built one, using it to light fluorescent light bulbs without plugging them in (how many times have you wished you could do that?) and destroy CD’s without touching them. You can learn how to build one here.
Honestly, it does have at least one practical application: it can serve the same military purposes as a land mine field, without the problem of accidentally left-behind ordnance. But we don’t care about all that. We want to see how cool they are.

Yeah, that’s pretty cool.

#1: Coffee

You may be thinking to yourself that coffee is not a human invention. But you’re wrong. Coffee beans are a naturally-occurring plant, yes, but humans did come up with a roasting process that allows for making the beverage which we know as coffee. A great deal of scientific research has been done as of late, all of which points to the positive health effects of drinking coffee, from improving short-term memory to preventing bowel cancer (working all the way from head to ass). And it keeps you warm in winter. But the most amazing thing is the taste.
Now, all the unwashed masses seem to like their sweet, flavored, creamed-up coffee. Walt liked it that way, and he’d usually wait until it was lukewarm to drink it. But you can keep your damn Starbucks, as far as I’m concerned, and you can definitely keep your damn gas station machine-mixed crapuccino. It’s great as an alternative to ice cream, but it’s much better when it actually is coffee-flavored ice cream or chilled “coffee.” And my boss can keep her brewed-to-destruction coffee too (five heaping tablespoons of coffee for a 10-cup pot—that’s right, tablespoons, not teaspoons).
But I like this:

Dark-roasted coffee, medium-brewed, and I drink it black. This brings out the best, truest flavor of coffee.

Of course, sometimes it’s nice to add some Irish Cream.


  1. You're kidding me, right? Folgers?! It tastes like a watered down sock. You've got no business mocking my sugar-and-milk habits if you drink that crap. If you want some really good coffee, go to Super Saver and buy Ah-Roma. I think it might be made in Nebraska (note: I say "made" because I'm not sure to what extent Nebraska's really involved in the production of said beans), but beyond that particular fact, it's just really freaking good coffee. In fact...I'll bring you some if you'd like. You've got a grinder, right?

    N.B. I have to agree with your assessment of our boss's coffee -- I had to quit drinking it because it was giving me heart palpitations. The scary thing is, she makes it even stronger at home, she says. Eek.

  2. Coffee? wow! who would of thot. Very funny reading, I'm sorry it's over.
    BTW, isn't a spork a runcible spoon?

    & the 8-track thing. I remember those. It took a suitcase to carry your collection around.
    On that note, tomorrow I have an appointment to see a record collection of 800 LPs, for sale. I am the first one to see this collection in years, its rumored that there is a Cheech & Chong in the wrapper(the one w/ the joint on the cover) w/the original giant rolling paper still inside!!!

    Am so excited. (Had to tell someone)

  3. Oh, but it's not just any Folgers. It's Folgers Gourmet Supreme! It's the ultra-dark roast. I love that stuff, and it certainly tops anything that you can get at
    1. A fast food place
    2. 98% of gas stations
    3. Starbucks
    4. Et al
    Surely you must be thinking of the Breakfast Blend.
    Of course, there are better coffees, like Black Velvet from Brewsters Coffee (sold at Big Apple Bagel). But for the money, Folgers is very, very good.

  4. I'll give you 1 and 2...I'm even willing to agree that Starbucks is at the low end of the quality spectrum when compared with other coffees in its price range.. I'm still suspicious of anything Folgers.. For the money, I prefer Millstone.

    What's your take on chicory in coffee?

  5. Starbucks is not simply at the low end of quality for its price range. It's crap. The coffee is designed and intended to be diluted at least halfway by other stuff like milk and caramel and sugar, so the roast is simply terrible.

    And I have no idea what chicory is.

  6. best invented man9:06 PM, October 26, 2010

    no im the greatest