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Wednesday, May 31, 2017


From flight to armaments to hydraulics, Leonardo was constantly bedeviled by a lack of an adequate of power for his inventions.
Sometimes I get tired of writing about art. Sometimes I like to "lighten-up" a little. Today I guess you'd say I'm doing both. Actually I'm not leaving art in the closet of my mind. Art is, at its heart, all about being creative. Yet, unless your name is Leonardo da Vinci, artists do not have a monopoly on this trait. Though Leonardo was a consummate artist I would contend that he was a scientist first, who mostly used art, inasmuch as he had no other technical means to illustrate his scientific and technological experiments. For the most part, Leonardo's art was a means to an end (technically and financially). One look at his journals and you can see he channeled much of his creativity toward inventing, even though few, if any, of his inventions really worked. Leonardo's problem was he lacked a light compact, fuel-efficient source of power to drive his inventions. It wasn't until the advent of liquid fuel, internal combustion, and advanced metallurgy that such a vital element was available.
Thomas Edison, 1890, Abraham Archibald Anderson
The Industrial Revolution saw advances
in transportation and heavy industry, but
was too awkward, heavy, and dangerous
for many applications.
In modern times, the consum-mate inventor would probably be Thomas A. Edison. Like Leonardo, he too lacked an appropriate source of power. Steam was too heavy. The internal combustion engine was largely still on the drawing board. So, he invented elec-tricity (a gross over simplifi-cation). Without it, his invent-ions would have sunk in the same boat with Leonardo's. Today, artists, scientists, en-gineers, sociologists, and mark-eters turn their creative "gen-ius" toward adapting, improv-ing, and selling variations of that which others have invent-ed. The results range from the "uhh...maybe" to the patently ridiculous. Today we'll look at a few low-key winners, some modest failures, and some hil-arious creative catastrophes.

I'd sooner go down the steps in a wheelchair.
1955 invention for the pack-
a-day smoker without limited
time on her hands for her habit.
The age old key to invention is said to be, "find a need, then fulfill it." It would appear that inventor of the accessibility ramp (above) had a hearing handicap. He must have thought they said "kill it." The in-ventor of the wind-powered clothes dryer (below) recognized the need for an environmentally friendly clothes dryer and attempted to fulfill it. However it's doubtful any self-respecting BMW owner would ever rig such a contraption to the roof of his or her car. Likewise, some inventions, fortunately, become antiquated by social restrictions before they "caught on" as with the device for inhaling twenty cigarettes at one time (right). Like the wheelchair ramp, this invention could also prove fatal.

I wonder how you would prevent someone from stealing your
clothes while you're shopping for more clothes at Walmart.
Some of the greatest creative efforts to be found today go into the design of footwear. That's especially true of women's shoes where very often comfort and safety play a secondary role to style. Runway models have actually fallen down on numerous occasions as they attempted to elegantly "strut their stuff" for the sake of high-fashion wholesale buyers. However that's a visual bonanza for another time. Below I've dealt with the need for barefoot footwear (an oxymoron if there ever was one) and shoes for the nature lover yearning for grass between their toes.

Barefoot shoes.
If you want to see the flowering of real invention and the creative genius behind it, simply take a stroll down the toy aisles of any major store having more than one such aisle. Despite the ludicrous premise behind it, the marshmallow gun (below) looks like a lot of fun. Just be sure to keep your mouth open. However, in the case of the toothache candy, it might be best to apply a little duct tape to your child's oral cavity. The other items are too silly to even discuss. That means your kids would love-em.

All I can say is, where was all this stuff when I was growing up?
Most of the creativity involving inventive minds and items which we use today are not what their inventors produced or even envisioned. Computers, automobiles, television, planes, and trains we enjoy now are improvements, reinventions, revisions, adaptations, and the results of cost reductions involving mass production, mass marketing, and the increased productivity of men, machines, and capital. The items below are examples of this, but not typical examples. They're more on the order of solutions to problems we never knew we had.

Improvements in tray technology.  Don't try using the one just
above while driving.
I confess that as I was researching this article I began seeking out the weirdest, stupidest, funniest, craziest dumb-ass inventions I could find. Believe there were hundreds of them, which I've culled to a couple dozen. I was surprised to find that in a few cases, there were items I really wouldn't mind trying out on my own (once, at least). The visor with its own hair looks promising (with some modest grooming). I've definitely been in situations (haven't we all) where I could have made use of the silly-looking wrap-around umbrella. And I had the misfortune to be served pizza when the combination fork and roller blade cutter would have been welcomed.

I'd bet that the guy in the second shot above is wishing he had
such a ridiculous looking, but undoubtedly practical, stormy day invention.
I've saved the best (or worst) for last, the really, really stupid flashes of inventive creativity causing one to consider whether such creativity is really such a good idea after all. I love the diet water but it's not exactly as advertised. I've been using it all my life and still managed to gain weight.

Yes, there really is an edible gold in a spray can for days
when you run short of the traditional gold leaf.
Those creative Japanese think of everything,
including a combination breakfast table
comforter complete with an electric heater
built in to keep both you and your food warm.

Sometimes inventions happen by
accident. Just ask Pfizer (the
makers of Viagra).


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