Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beer and Innovation

Last week, while enjoying some deliciously refreshing ice cold beer, a co worker and I had a debate about what we would consider the greatest inventions of our lifetimes.
I should point out that we are both over 40 so we decided to include anything invented since 1970.  Nice round number. 

You think that would be easy, right?  Oh, hell no.  The first item on the list provoked more passionate discussion than I would have ever thought.  I’ll leave that item until the end. 

Here is the list:

Personal Computer/Internet:  I argued that we need to include these two as one since each is so much more powerful than they ever would be alone.   Sure it’s great to have a computer to print things and create fancy pictures, but without the internet how much use would a PC really be?  I would say 70% of computer work now involves surfing the internet.  Be it for fun, research, software, or help with some problem, I – for one – am on the internet most of the time I’m on a computer.

The internet is self explanatory as it wouldn’t even exist if the personal computer didn’t come along first. 
I also think the internet will outlive the PC.  With the improvements in smart phones and faster wireless we’re already seeing laptops, Droids, iPads and whatever new gizmo being released next week take over the market share. 

Wireless Communication:  Ties into the item above and is making life so much more convenient.  I just bought a wireless keyboard/mouse combo (typing on it now), have wireless all over my house and have tied into more free (and pay for) wireless hotspots than I care to admit.  Cables be gone!!

GPS:  Some of the people didn’t agree with this one, but I can attest that once you get a GPS unit and it saves you from driving all over hell and back just once, you’ll be sold.  This is especially true in the Boston area. 

Hybrid Technology/Electric Car:  My buddy offered the Hybrid engines as an option, which resulted in an electric car fanatic piping up and arguing that since the electric car came first and ushered in the Hybrid age it should get top billing.  He rattled off stories and facts and I tuned his pompous ass out after a while, but he made a good point even if I don’t know how accurate he was.  I’ll just put them both together to avoid offending any hippies reading.   Hippies can read, right?

Foamy Soap:  My innocent little ‘I love foamy soap; has to be the best invention of my lifetime’ upon returning from the men’s room is what kicked off this ridiculous conversation.  I stand by that statement however.  Leaves no slimy residue after rinsing and actually decreases water use since it washes right off and – as my sons have proven – you don’t even need to water up before you lather.  Really, what’s better than this?

DVR:  This device has become so incorporated into my life that I don’t even know when shows are on any more.  I just hit the ‘My Programs’ button and see what’s waiting for me.  If you can record two programs at once, even better.  Especially since my two favorite shows (Good Wife and Detroit 187) are on at the same time.  It also allows me to keep up with programs I normally wouldn’t stay up for or Wifey doesn’t want to sit through with me.  Like ‘The Walking Dead’ or ‘Boardwalk Empire’.  I love you, DVR.  More than you’ll ever know (because you’re an inanimate object).

HDTV:  I remember back when MTV still played music Aerosmith played an unplugged concert and proudly announced that they were broadcasting the performance in High Definition.  Unfortunately, no sets back then were equipped to see HD transmissions so the technology was met with a collective shrug. 

No longer.  Now every sporting event and television show is HD and it is – quite simply – spectacular.  To the point that going to actual game pales with staying in your warm (or air conditioned) home while drinking cheap, ice cold beer.

And now for the most controversial item on the list. 

Cell Phone:  Granted this is one fancy and time saving device.  Frankly, not one of us can imagine life without one.  With the advancements in smartphones, they’re becoming even more indispensable.  But, one gentleman argued and it is an argument I agree with, they are also creating a generation that is having trouble communicating or showing proper manners in general society.  There is a girl at work who brings her phone to lunch, sits at our table, and spends half her time texting her boyfriend rather than taking part in the conversation. 

Not only do I find it annoying, it’s disrespectful to everyone around her.   On more than one occasion she has focused her attention on her phone in the middle of someone talking to her.  Fucking RUDE!

This doesn’t even take into account the obnoxiously loud talkers or the ones the refuse to end an obviously inane conversation while ordering a coffee or those that set their ring tones at top volume with an annoying song or…..

…yeah, I could go on, but I’ll stop there. 

   Or, more accurately, the cell phone itself is a great invention, it’s just that people are stupid and suck in general. 

Today’s distraction:  A very cool art project that is also promoting sea life.  I find some of these disturbing and wonder if that’s the point. 


Julie L. said...

They didn't have foamy soap before 1970?

And what about the microwave? How did one eat leftovers before the microwave? I'm pretty sure leftover fried rice wouldn't taste very good if it had to re-fried on the stovetop. Plus, it would be a total hassle.

My vote is for the Internet.

BeachBum said...

I think foamy soap is a fairly recent development in hand washing technology.

I also think the microwave was invented before 1970, but I'll add it to the list simply because it makes cooking popcorn so much easier.

Good call. Seems we take that one for granted.

Anonymous said...

I vote microprocessor for best invention since 1970, followed closely by streaming internet video.