Right now, somewhere in the world, some clever person is furiously scribbling away. Their eyes are probably darting around for thieving glances as they hurriedly sketch a crude blueprint of the invention that will grant them an early retirement. They’re a visionary, an intellectual titan - a solver of citrus-related problems.

To that person, I say simply: Stop it, you monster. Seriously, friend, just put the biro down and stop ruining things for the rest of us. Every time some show-off designs an easy-wind chapstick or a plastic thing that shapes pancakes into Paul Giamatti characters, they make it harder for the rest of us to effortlessly strike it rich.

There are precious few things left to invent and whenever one of you yahoos decides to cross one off the list, my friends and I have less chance of being able to rent out entire hotels and run enormous waterslides down all 35 flights of stairs.

Those of you who are not yet convinced that there is nothing left to invent have obviously not seen the USB-powered humping beagle, which serves no purpose other than to crudely thrust its plastic pelvis when connected to a laptop. Admittedly, it’s pretty funny.

Once upon a time, men would stroll around with spanners and spirit levels, inventing things and securing their future in their lunch breaks. In those heady days of innovation, wheels, George Foreman Grills, power tools, toy velociraptors and Seinfeld were all waiting to be discovered.

Today, the only things left to create are smaller versions of already tiny things, slightly slimmer phones that can’t make calls and Juno on Blu-ray.

Last weekend, we decided to invent something awesome and get incredibly rich - because that’s what men do when we drink on empty stomachs. All we had to do - as one person put it - was come up with something profitable that no one had ever thought of, such as porcelain dolls that look like rappers.

After a solid 10 minutes of brainstorming, we managed to invent what was essentially a beeper that you sticky tape to your car keys (Find-A-Beep™).

Those hoodie-wearing Silicon Valley nerds and Japanese novelty key ring makers have completely ruined our dreams of inventing something that requires zero effort or technical know-how and selling it to some unscrupulous Chinese company or swapping the napkin drawing for a yacht.

We’d sail around exotic islands with exotic people and baby orang-utans in tuxedos, telling strangers about the time we were at that genius convention and we said that hilarious thing about shoelace tips and then all those Microsoft people laughed so hard they bought the venue and bulldozed it.

All anybody really wants is to be wealthy enough to wear socks and sandals in public, use random driveways as six-hour parking spots and demand a seafood buffet at every restaurant. Why must people with drive and determination take that away from us?

Can’t we just go back to those magical days where anything was possible and I could make insane amounts of moolah by peddling the mechanical equivalent of snake oil? In the meantime, check out this sweet beeping thing I’ve invented that you can glue to your mobile phone.

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33 comments

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    • Nathan says:

      06:24am | 08/09/11

      Absolutely loved this piece reminded me of a few conversations with friends, except with our they took place on the roof of a club house at a park across the road from a friends house…..
      I think we even had a crack at world peace. Very insightful.

    • Eleutheriu says:

      08:47am | 08/09/11

      There is only one invention that ca really enhance your neurons go out and start a step absorbed vitamin d the source of all energy, start walking instead of spending 22 minutes less of your life.

    • Tina says:

      06:51am | 08/09/11

      I am sure there are still things left to invent - we just dont know about them yet. And some things need to be invented (eg future lack of natural resources). And I think stuff gets invented all the time - its just not so visible to us as it is so specific that the standard person out there doesnt even notice it (I am not smart enough to give an example but longer lasting batteries or whatever chemical stuff).

      I love though to imagine the times where gentlemen in suits put their heads together and invented better pushbikes and had this feeling of passion, adventure, progress. I know I am romantisising but I love to picture it like that.

    • gonzo says:

      11:25am | 08/09/11

      “I am sure there are still things left to invent - we just dont know about them yet”

      Please, don’t let your kids go through the torture of knowing that their mom said something like that ever. Deny it at all cost.

      I’m sure you will never invent anything. Or possibly you will invent something that “we already know about yet”.

    • Davida says:

      07:11am | 08/09/11

      I feel this piece, Jason.  In the early ‘90’s, after many a red, a friend and I “invented” Shocks…....half shoe/half sock.  Socks with in-built soles allowed you to never lose a sock again, effortlessly transition for indoor to outdoor, casual to formal…..oh dear.  We even designed our own CLIO award winning campaign…..“Shocks-a surprise for your feet” and “Electrify walking with Shocks”.  Needless to say, two decades on, I still have my day job.

    • Tanya says:

      11:46am | 08/09/11

      I once got pissed and invented a tap water purification system, before they were invented, (or maybe not.) There was a lot of science in it which made me think I’d channelled something or someone extraordinary because I failed vege maths and science at high school and had never been inclined towards innovation, microbiology or anything with hydro as a prefix. A number of people were transfixed as I talked them through the diagram in my moment of brilliance. The following morning, I staggered out of bed with something akin to an axe in my head to find my four year old, weetbix spoon in hand, proffering the wine soaked sketch, complete with scientific annotations and shouting, ‘Look, Mummy, I drew people in your ferris wheel.’ I still have my day job too.

    • Matthew says:

      01:35pm | 08/09/11

      Someone got drunk after work in the workshop and thought he could combine all his tools just like this.

      Today it’s called the triton workbench.  The guy is a multi-millionaire and is living easy.  Good inventors just never give up on their “stupid” products.  Someone out their will eventually want to use it even if you don’t.

    • TChong says:

      07:34am | 08/09/11

      An amazing invention ?
      The air / gas valves for tyres etc .
      How smart would you have been to think of it in the first place,?
      and after a hundred plus years the design hasnt been improved on.

    • adam says:

      10:44am | 08/09/11

      the doggie door. A door within a door, so fiendishly clever we all look at one now and go “of course” but someone had to think of it first

    • stephen says:

      07:42am | 08/09/11

      Pyjamas that don’t shrink in the wash.
      Invent that, and everything will be alright.

    • Kipling says:

      07:51am | 08/09/11

      Good one, that made me laugh. Thanks it also got me thinking.

      I redisigned plastic bags so that the loop neatly secures to my dogs tail. It just requires a couple of staples.

      The self collecting pooper bag…

      I am off now to look at boats

    • acotrel says:

      07:58am | 08/09/11

      I’ve got a shed full of racing motorcycles lathes and power tools.  If you have tools on hand you will become inventive.  However it amazes me how people limit themselves with their computers.  Mine has a video capture card, DVD player, VHS player, and a record turntable attached to it, and a games switch to allow swapping between them.  I love making movies, photo slide shows with old music, and putting clips of motorcycle racing up on youtube to promote one of my great passions.  These days the opprtunity to be creative and inventive is immense.  The only limitting factor is our imagination.  My next project is to get my Norton racer going again, get a bunch of my old fart mates up here to Winton, and start making some on board footage of a few dices with them. We have much more powerful tools available to us these days, than ever before - time to exercise our minds ?

    • TChong says:

      08:19am | 08/09/11

      acotrel
      Are any of your old cycles single pots?
      I, and many thousands of others love the old BSAs , Indians etc
      The YouTube link please!?!

    • Max, of Rocky says:

      09:20am | 08/09/11

      Have to apologise, I thought you only had one obsession. 

      I gave up my trail and trial bikes when I was 55, reflexes and knees having suffered enough.

      Loved Nortons, never owned one though, have fun !

    • acotrel says:

      11:49am | 08/09/11

      Chongie
      Single pot’s - I wish !
      My bike is a 1966 Seeley frame with a 1973 Norton Commando engine which is on alcohol with 34 mm carbs, and a hot cam.  It has a six speed CR box, ans is fitted with lockheed brakes.  It’s nice and light, goes like buggery, handles superbly, even steers on the throttle.

    • TChong says:

      12:32pm | 08/09/11

      a lovely pic
      definitely a thousand words in the telling of its evolution.
      ride safe.

    • Tina says:

      08:13am | 08/09/11

      I like the thought that a century ago, invention was driven by passion and achieving something. Contributing to a better environment. Making someting useful. Today the thought seems to be reversed: “I want to make big bucks without working for 50 years. What could I invent?”

    • acotrel says:

      09:07am | 08/09/11

      @Tina
      ‘I thought I wanted a career, turns out I just wanted a salary’ ?  In the old days there was a saying ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ !  If you don’t have a need why would you invent something?  The need shapes the invention !  What we really need to invent is a way to turn lead into gold ! That’s why I studied applied chemistry !

    • Budz says:

      09:21am | 08/09/11

      Yeah sure Tina. Because Thomas Edison wasn’t trying to invent stuff to get quality young skirt? I mean he married his second wife when he was 39 and she was 20! The guy knew what he was doing!

    • acotrel says:

      11:56am | 08/09/11

      @Budz
      There are just some things you cannot improve on !

    • Kipling says:

      08:34am | 08/09/11

      @ TChong,

      What about the zipper? Now that was pretty awesome thinking too. Not in the same engineering sense perhaps, but awesome none the less.

      Also still in use today.

    • acotrel says:

      11:58am | 08/09/11

      @Kipling
      So is Velcro !

    • jf says:

      08:42am | 08/09/11

      When I was a callow youth (thirty years ago) I loved watching the inventors.

      I used to send them blueprints for my inventions. One of them was liquid soap. Thirty years ago.

      The other was for a dishwasher that had two seperate drawers.

      There’s a big step between coming up with the idea executing it.

    • MD says:

      08:57am | 08/09/11

      ‘Inventions reached their limit long ago and I see no hope for further development.’

      — Julius Sextus Frontinus, prominent Roman engineer (c. 40-103 AD)

    • Reddragon says:

      09:11am | 08/09/11

      @Tina “invention was driven by passion and achieving something. Contributing to a better environment. “

      Yes indeed. Just look at the work of Banting, Best & MacLeod - insulin. No patent fees, done for the good of mankind. They would probably be regraded as insane today.

    • fairsfair says:

      11:04am | 08/09/11

      Father’s Day 2009 we brainstormed and invented the ATAP (TM). Sad thing was, it was breakfast on the Esplanade and no alcohol was involed.

      The All Terrain Adult Pram. Pronounced “ay-tap”. As the name suggests, it is a buggy type automated piece of machinery that is purpose built for the owner. It has a convertable type clear roof that allows the operator the freedom to interract with other ATAP (TM) users or remain in a climate controlled cone of silence where they can go about their business. It had various attachments including but not limited to the lawn mowing attachment, the BBQ attachment and the housework attachment.  Dad’s had extractors and a NOS connection as he is not one to wait around for others.

      It was custom and we felt it would really take off. So nobody steal my idea. I always cack myself at the electric toothbrush add where she takes that “dentist clean” feeling home via driving to her house in the chair….

    • Pandabater says:

      12:44pm | 08/09/11

      “You just need to take something that has already been invented & put a clock in it or something.”
      Homer

    • adam says:

      01:08pm | 08/09/11

      extra legs for leaning back in chairs

    • gra gra says:

      02:26pm | 08/09/11

      Aussies are recognised as being the most innovative of people.  I have developed many products, one of which was a cradle that disallowed infants to sleep in any other position than on their back, the position in which most SIDS victims are found.  I began selling them for cost plus ten percent, and thought that I was helping expectant mothers, if only to distance the fear of infant mortality. Bad investment. John Howard’s hatchet men, aided by his then Health Minister, cut the project. Reason? May not be sterile.
      When I pointed out that the lambswool cover was already, by the same department ruled ‘hospital safe’, and despite recommendations from the SIDS Foundation, the drug companies who supported, and still support the Liberal/anybody coalition, said “NO!” and Howard listened. Don’t believe me? A fairly high ranking bureaucrat from the Dept. of Health rang me and explained that as he had lost a grandchild to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome he knew what value my invention had, but tearfully explained that it was a political, not medical decision, that halted my distribution of the cradle. A particular State Chief Justice of that State’s Supreme Court had purchased one for his daughter, for fear of his grandchild suffering such a dreaded fate. And also to alleviate his daughter’s fears, which of course can lead to possible harm to the foetus.
      Howard’s slashing of grants, Federal assistance in things like exporting, ridiculously high patent fees, and the perceived necessity to keep the rabble where they belong, has led to the Victa mower, the Hills hoist, and many, many other inventions being things of the past.
      It costs a minimum of $20,000 to put even the simplest of innovations on the discussion table, all due to Howard’s “cost cutting”.
      Don’t talk to me of ideas that don’t come to fruition. Inventor’s bottom draws are full of brilliant ideas that are there because the backyard handyman, the source of most of the great innovations, (whether the ‘backyard is at home or simply in the mind), is stifled by those who cannot believe that anyone not born to rule should rule, if only for the good of others.
      And Australia, morally, ethically, and financially is the poorer.
      Should anyone have doubts about my motives for penning this epistle, let me explain that the cradle cost me $21,000 to put on the market. I sold nearly eight hundred before Howard’s axe fell, despite repeated entreaties to his office, (I even offered it to the Commonwealth for manufacture and distribution free of any charge), and sadly continued to read of cot deaths continuing,
      This is why inventors stack the bottom drawer. We, other inventor’s and I, (i’m certainly not the only one by far), call that bottom drawer “Howard’s bin”. Rather apt and very, sadly for Australia, true.

    • red dog says:

      02:38pm | 08/09/11

      Were you drunk on the night of Sept 11 2001? Where were you on the night of Sept 11 2001? Sleeping it off ? Inventing bad dreams?

    • Zopo says:

      03:18pm | 09/09/11

      My mates and I have invented a lot of things over the years, the only problem is once the liquor wears off Ive lost all motivation.

      Im glad i still have the ideas in my memory bank…

 

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