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The Worst Inventions According to Andy Rooney


by Andy Rooney

We're all familiar with the great inventions that have altered civilization... inventions like the electric light bulb, the telephone, the airplane, radio, Coca-Cola.
There are, on the other hand, inventions we'd be better off without. And tonight I'd like to list five of the worst inventions of modern times.

1. The hot-air hand drier in public bathrooms. These represent the triumph of salesmanship over paper towels. They’re totally unsatisfactory.
2. Most books come with a removable paper cover called a dust jacket. Dust jackets do nothing except make books more expensive and harder to handle.
3. Pop-top cans. Its an unpleasant little task to get your finger under the metal tab so you can pull it open but the worst thing about these things is that you cant close them. No one wants to drink twelve ounces of a sweet soft drink without stopping. Do the people selling this stuff want us to save some for later? No. They want us to throw out what's left and buy more.
4. Venetian blinds. I'd like to talk to the Venetian who invented blinds. I have them in my office and they’re fine until you try to open them or close them.
5. I'd like to nominate the ballpoint pen as one of the great failures of the century. The earliest pens needed an inkwell but they were satisfying to use in many ways. You had to have a blotter and then you had to have a penwiper when you finished.

So, they invented the fountain pen. Well, they really weren’t satisfied with the fountain pens either so inventors came up with the ballpoint pen. I don’t know whether there’s really a ball in here or not. They have survived because of the credit card craze. The idea is you can bear down hard with a ball point pen so your signature goes through four fuzzy carbons. You get the last copy, of course, which you can’t read. You cant put a ballpoint pen in your pocket or a drawer for any length of time and expect it to work when you take it out, either. I have three of them here and I notice that of the three, only one of them works now.

If these are the worst inventions of modern times, the rubber band may be the best.

Excerpted from Years of Minutes by Andy Rooney. Copyright © 2003 by Essay Productions. Excerpted by arrangement with PublicAffairs, a member of the Perseus Books Group, New York. All rights reserved. $26. Available in local bookstores or click here.


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