Jon Stewart had a guy on the other night named William Rosen who wrote a book called, “The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention.”
The most powerful? Seriously? Not that I have anything against steam engines but I highly doubt that they were the most powerful idea in the world, if that’s what the book is about. I’m assuming it is because what else would it be about? Steaming your cappuccino? The invention of the steam bath? I’m guessing saunas, while pleasant enough, aren’t that big a deal.
Anyway, I didn’t actually watch Jon Stewart’s interview with this guy because I was really tired from catching up on episodes of “The Colbert Report” because of the whole DirecTV, DVR, time-shifting your TV watching thing. Now that’s a powerful invention. Being able to watch “Mad Men” at 7 p.m. while the rest of your Facebook friends are still talking about how they can’t wait to see what happens to Don and Betty Draper later that night and you already know. Talk about feeling drunk with power, knowledge, wealth and overall superiority. Muahaha! Now that’s the kind of thing I want to invent.
Like this website I heard about recently, www.runpee.com, which does the research in advance so you come to the theater already knowing the best time to go to the bathroom when you’re at the movies. Brilliant. There’s nothing worse than sitting through an endless piece of family entertainment, such as “The Karate Kid” remake-which could have lost an entire hour without losing a single second of its entertainment value-while wiggling in your seat for 30 minutes because you think that the movie has to be over any minute now, for the last 30 minutes.
Another great idea is Switch Gear Jewelry (www.switchgearkit.com). I won a set of these mix and match earrings and they’re one of those simple genius ideas that make you think, “Wow, I should have thought of that.” Basically, it is a kit that gives you tons of options to create your own earrings on the spot (no tools) using various combinations of interchangeable hoops, chains, and funky architectural materials such as metal, rubber and tortoise shell. It’s totally fun and super easy. Again, why didn’t I think of that?
Then there’s the Java Log (www.pinemountainbrands.com) for your fireplace. Hello? What a great idea this is. Every time I throw out my coffee grounds I think I should do something with these. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this idea before Rod Sprules, the guy who’s now making millions selling these green firelogs that not only divert 12 million pounds of coffee grounds from landfills each year, they also make great smelling fires, and give you a caffeine buzz to boot!
Probably my favorite new invention of all is from Daniel Wright, the author of “Patently Silly” and proprietor of the website www.patentlysilly.com. This guy is a college engineering major turned comedian, who now makes his living making fun of other people’s inventions. His website and book feature zany ideas-all of which have real patents-such as an Apparatus for Cat’s Cradle Game, a Hip Hop Aerobic Exercise Doll and a Thong Diaper. Talk about a patently obviously brilliant idea. He didn’t even have to invent anything, he just had to write about silly things that other people invented!
I wish I’d thought of that.