Useless Inventions Explained

by Jonathan Weinblatt

The Hot Air Balloon
           Who decided to invent a vehicle that has no apparent means of steering, you ask? Well, I don’t know who invented it, but I think I know a little bit about how it works. You see, I’ve been on a hot air balloon ride, so I figure that makes me more qualified than 99.9% of the population as far as hot air balloon operation goes. Trust me, if you’re frightened by the prospect of riding in a car with a female driver, imagine how terrified you’d be standing in a wicker basket next to a large container of heavily combustible gas with large flames overhead, with a female driver. Oh, and one other thing – you’re 1400 feet up in the air. Somehow, I was unusually calm. Maybe it was because the flight was so smooth. Maybe it was the drugs. So anyway, what I deduced from my lovely (for a 65 year old) pilot, is that you really can’t control which direction the balloon goes. All you can really do it pump hot air into the fabric overhead as a means of gaining altitude. When you don’t put in hot air, shockingly the balloon slowly descends. Apparently it takes countless hours of training, and a pilot’s license, to learn this simple rule of physics. The way the balloon gets from one place to the next is by riding currents in the wind. Fantastic. For the first time, I wished that a 65-year-old woman really were steering my fragile basket. So yeah, now you know how it works and why you should never go for a hot air balloon ride, except for the fact that it was a really cool trip and had some awesome views of Napa Valley. Still, how that dude got around the world in 80 days using a hot air balloon, I have no fucking clue.

The Microwave Clock
           Unless you’re in that miniscule wage bracket where you’re rich enough to afford a microwave, but too poor to buy a clock, there’s really no reason why you need to know the time when you look at the microwave. The other reason it appears to be a useless invention is because the microwave clock absolutely never tells the right time. When some kid I know wakes up at 3:30 AM to watch naked people on Cinemax while his roommates are sleeping, why does the microwave tell him that it’s actually 10:45 in the morning? As some people would have you believe, a broken clock is better “because it’s got the correct time twice a day.” I call these people ‘retarded.’ (Don’t worry, I know someone who’s retarded, so I can say that without fear of reprisal). Anyway, some brainiac at Kenmore came up with the brilliant idea to stick an easily programmable LCD clock in the same place that you constantly push buttons like “time” and then “enter” every time you want to make EasyMac. No wonder the time is always set at 1:30. Just once, I’d like to be able to rotate my head no more than 17 degrees while making pop tarts in the toaster and still learn the correct time. That extra 32 degrees that lets me see that wall clock has caused my neck to cramp up and has lost me countless nights of sleep over the last 4 weeks. So, why does your microwave maker have a clock feature? Sorry, can’t help you.

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