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A Century of Disasters: The Top 10 Worst Inventions in History
March 18, 2009 12:46 PM   Subscribe

The Cat Wig, The Inflatable Dartboard, et al. Plus, two inventions that sound bad, but aren't.
posted by forrestal (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Is Fox News trying to stay relevant by ripping off Cracked.com?
posted by chillmost at 12:49 PM on March 18, 2009


Fox News: Fair & BalancedRipped-off & Derivative.
posted by tommasz at 12:56 PM on March 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


The iFlyz actually doesn't seem like a horrible idea for frequent travellers. The pedal-powered wheelchair, however, is astoundingly stupid.
posted by HumanComplex at 1:00 PM on March 18, 2009


Related, my vote for worst inventor of all time is Thomas Midgley. Not only did he invent adding lead to gasoline and CFCs, but in a veritable coup de grace of bad inventing he devised a pulley system to help him get in and out of bed which malfunctioned and strangled him, resulting in his death.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:21 PM on March 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


I can think of a few cases where a pedal powered wheelchair would come in handy. Walking is dangerous if you are prone to dizzy spells or your muscles are weak enough that you may randomly fall, this device would give an opportunity to exercise your leg muscles, and move at a greater speed then a hand powered wheelchair, without the risk of injury from falling. This would have been ideal when I was laid up with a work related back injury, my legs were working just fine but my back was in extreme pain and prone to spasms if not supported.
posted by idiopath at 1:39 PM on March 18, 2009


While none of these things quite match the in(s)anity of the Weird inventions by guys series, what they have going for them is that they all appear to be real commercial products (except, of course, the Kamov helicopter).
posted by daniel_charms at 1:39 PM on March 18, 2009


Tell me, Senator, did you nurse Catherine yourself?
posted by cjorgensen at 1:42 PM on March 18, 2009


Man, my last joke might have been funny if I got the link right.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:44 PM on March 18, 2009


Related, my vote for worst inventor of all time is Thomas Midgley. Not only did he invent adding lead to gasoline and CFCs, but in a veritable coup de grace of bad inventing he devised a pulley system to help him get in and out of bed which malfunctioned and strangled him, resulting in his death.

Well, I guess that last invention saved us from more of the other kind.

But, to be fair, it's a bit hard to blame him for problems with leaded gasoline and freon which were not discovered until long after his original inventions, isn't it?
posted by yoink at 1:47 PM on March 18, 2009


Kitteh wigz prvsly on MeFi
posted by hermitosis at 1:49 PM on March 18, 2009


But, to be fair, it's a bit hard to blame him for problems with leaded gasoline and freon which were not discovered until long after his original inventions, isn't it?

The CFC one is understandable, but everyone knew lead was toxic by the 1920s, and he purposely misled the public about the dangers. From the Wikipedia article:

Within the first two months of its operation, the Bayway plant was plagued by more cases of lead poisoning, hallucinations, insanity, and then five deaths in quick succession. On October 30, Midgley participated in a press conference to demonstrate the "safety" of contact with the substance. In this demonstration, he poured tetra-ethyl lead over his hands, then placed a bottle of the chemical under his nose and breathed it in for sixty seconds, declaring that he could do this every day without succumbing to any problems whatsoever. However, the plant was decisively shut down by the State of New Jersey a few days later, and Standard was forbidden to manufacture TEL there again without state permission. Midgley himself was careful to avoid mentioning to the press that he subsequently required nearly a year to recover from the lead poisoning brought on by his deceitful demonstration.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:53 PM on March 18, 2009


The pedal-powered wheelchair doesn't sound the slightest bit stupid. Many people have full strength in their legs but lack the balance or motor control to walk safely, even with a cane or crutches. The late cycling demigod Sheldon Brown had to get around using a walker, and needed his house rearranged when he could no longer navigate stairs easily, but still rode trikes up to his last days. I imagine he would be keen on the idea of a pedal-powered wheelchair.
posted by ardgedee at 2:55 PM on March 18, 2009


I didn't read the article but is the "detachable dog sack" used by your dog when he has a night out with the boys and doesn't want to appear lacking in that area since his visit to the vet?
posted by digsrus at 2:58 PM on March 18, 2009


No, it's even better! It's a sack that hooks on the outside of your car window, so when you want to go for a drive you can stuff Fido in there and relax in your dog hair free interior while he freezes outside. Just make sure you avoid all the side mirrors, door handles and other obstacles that could cut his trip short.

As for the anti-eating mask... I think this idea suffers from the fact that you can always just reach up there and take it off. To really help the weak willed, it should be sold with a pair of handcuffs. Or heck, just inject yourself with a sedative and call it a day.

But my favorite of all these inventions has to be the prankster fire alarm trap. Now there's an invention that requires commitment on the part of the user! It would also work well with suggestion boxes.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:45 PM on March 18, 2009


Midgley himself was careful to avoid mentioning to the press that he subsequently required nearly a year to recover from the lead poisoning brought on by his deceitful demonstration.

Wow--I stand corrected. The auto-strangulation device he invented was clearly one of his more useful breakthroughs.
posted by yoink at 4:01 PM on March 18, 2009


"in a veritable coup de grace of bad inventing he devised a pulley system to help him get in and out of bed which malfunctioned and strangled him, resulting in his death."

Yeah...help him out of bed...yeah, that's what it was. Malfunctioned it did *cough*

That cat looks like Thulsa Doom or Buck Swope (Don Cheadle) in his brother from space outfit.

"Coming straight out of the February 1938 issue of Modern Mechanix magazine, the prankster-proof fire alarm traps the hand of any offender in a metal handcuff until the fire brigade arrives to release him." Fox News - the Cutting Edge!
posted by Smedleyman at 4:21 PM on March 18, 2009


I LOLed at "Battery powered battery charger." It's the little things that get me.

Kitty wigs... mask that stops you from eating... too absurd. Battery powered battery charger has just the amount of plausibility to be truly hilarious. I can totally see someone buying that.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:27 PM on March 18, 2009


"Coming straight out of the February 1938 issue of Modern Mechanix magazine, the prankster-proof fire alarm traps the hand of any offender in a metal handcuff until the fire brigade arrives to release him. Perfect for fake fires, but in the event of a real blaze, you're taking one for the team. "

Thanks for the laugh...I needed it.
posted by UseyurBrain at 5:00 PM on March 18, 2009


I knew about the lead and CFCs, but not the strangulation. Perhaps this incident is the proof we've been looking for that time travelers exist and are trying to help us.
posted by DU at 5:51 PM on March 18, 2009


toaster bacon
posted by pianomover at 7:10 PM on March 18, 2009


Actually, I could use a pedal-powered wheelchair right about now, if it has a good granny gear. (I've got a badly herniated disk; standing and walking are not really my bag at the moment, but I have full leg strength.) It looks kind of great, if it works as advertised; I think you could use the cycle attachment to get around the neighborhood, and then detach it and use the regular chair for better agility in shops, for instance.
posted by sculpin at 7:38 PM on March 18, 2009


For God's sake is there anything worse than those inline keyword "links" that spawn obnoxious, obstructing advert-bubbles whenever they are moused over? Is there ever a good reason to use them? Is this what we use computers for, to annoy ourselves? To get two cracked.com lists in one day, only one of them actually goes to pay Fox News, an organization that seems to get richer the more detractors it has, and to get these lists like we do with everything else, in bite-sized pellet form, discharged from our little boxes whenever we lay our grubby paws on them in the way we've been conditioned? Oh how proud we are of ourselves, we self-policing, self-pleasuring fathead schmucks of the future. God how I hate the constant water-torture of advertising, shilling, begging, and outright robbing that one must endure just to engage in some kind conversation, with people one is lucky to even meet in "the big blue room," for nothing more than diversion, even when, no especially when the diversion comes in the form of herf-derf important-feeling debates on weighty issues taking place somewhere outside the shit-smeared walls of the whatever-o-sphere. I want to meet the person who invented these stupid ads and ask them, how did you do it? Of all the things humankind has fashioned in its history, how did you come to decide, "this, this shall be my creation and my contribution?" I want to understand, I want to know which facility I lack, exactly, that might have enabled me to appreciate such an invention.
posted by swift at 8:42 PM on March 18, 2009


The battery-powered battery charger isn't that bad an idea, if it lets you charge up your proprietary cellphone battery with a commonly-available AA or similar. There are lots of places where you might have access to a few spare batteries but might not have an AC socket to plug a wall charger into.

Energizer was selling disposable "emergency" cell-phone power packs that worked like this for a while; the idea was you could stick it in your car's glove compartment and then if you needed to make a call and your phone was out of juice, you could plug it in and have enough for at least a few minutes (maybe more) of airtime. I don't think the one I saw was rechargeable though, and I thought it was expensive.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:11 PM on March 18, 2009


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