After watching a History Channel documentary about inventions that changed civilization, I was inspired by the great minds whose creations let the rest of us dimwits sit back and enjoy life … or run for our lives.
Yes, our brave new world has the Internet, the neutron bomb, the electric garage-door opener and Dr. Scholl’s foot pads, which means the scourge of bunions and corns will someday be a distant memory.
I thank my lucky stars for so many wonderful inventions. Where would we be without air conditioning, electricity and the toilet … not to mention toilet paper? I call tell you where. In a lot of pain.
Arguably the greatest invention of recorded and unrecorded history was the wheel, which dates back to the 4th millennium BC, long before Velcro and the ATM.
I shudder to think what life would be like without the wheel. Can you imagine how long it would take to walk to your office on Wall Street? If we didn’t have the wheel, there would be no commuter trains or roulette tables in Vegas.
And if Gutenberg hadn’t invented the printing press, we would still be scribbling on papyrus. No books. No newspapers. No fake news. Thank you, Johannes.
Don’t overlook the importance of textiles, which were another great invention. I bet you never thought about how vital they are to our existence. What would mankind and womankind do without clothes? If we didn’t have textiles, we’d have to walk naked into Manhattan to get to work. In the winter and the summer that could be quite uncomfortable, especially going over the Triborough Bridge. Furthermore, there’d be no fashion industry, so Anna Wintour and Donatella Versace would have to pursue alternate careers in tree removal or dog grooming.
I know what you’re thinking, though. Many guys spend a lot of time on the Internet, looking at people without clothes. This, however, is not a good thing, especially if they are on company time.
I recently compiled a list of inventions I couldn’t live without:
1. The electric toothbrush — The FDA and the CIA and the NRA in cooperation with President Trump and Colgate should draft federal regulations that mandate the use of electric toothbrushes in every home, hotel and locker room. If we Americans can’t control our eating, at least we can control plaque.
2. The iPad — This device changed my life, and I value it more than my electric nose hair trimmer. It lets me write, research, check the weather, learn new languages, read e-books, listen to Mozart and take photos, although most of the time I just use it to play Scrabble.
3. The fitness tracker — Who would have thought that a simple technological wonder like a Fitbit could nag you incessantly until you get off your lazy keister and work out.
4. The multivitamin — Because of this little pill, we don’t have to eat five pounds of vegetables, fruit, fish, berries and nuts to get our daily nutrients.
5. Automobile motion sensors — This electronic marvel lets me back out of tight parking spaces in crowded lots and not have to worry about getting run over or running over a little old lady with a carriage full of groceries. It spots potential dangers and immediately warns me: “DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! (or insert your name) LITTLE OLD LADY WITH GROCERIES APPROACHING!”
6. The lens implant — In the olden days, people with cataracts or poor vision had to wear glasses with lens as thick as Coke bottles. With modern lens implants, they can easily solve the problem. All they need is a lot of money and good health insurance.
7. Money and good health insurance.
8. Air deodorizers — Even though I hate artificial scents and car air fresheners, I realize aerosol bathroom deodorizers are a necessary evil, especially since I lived in a home with five other people, one dog and one bathroom.
9. Pepto-Bismol — I can’t even imagine how humankind survived before the invention of Pepto-Bismol. I rank it right up there with the wheel, expandable waist pants and microwaveable pepperoni pizzas.
Joe Pisani can be reached at email@example.com.