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Inventions of This Millennium

By Captain Opinion

JANUARY 10, 2000:  The networks, news magazines, self-important newspapers, pundits, columnists, barbers -- just about everyone and every institution -- are compiling lists of the millennium's most important people, inventions, events, athletes, recipes, news stories and whatever. Most are just lists of what all the self-absorbed news people think is important. Those self-described experts never bother to ask normal people what they think. As a result, the great masses of regular thinking people are snubbed because their ideas about what's important are never written about. Well, the hell with them. I have compiled a list of the greatest inventions of the past 1,000 years. Here they are in order of greatness:

1. Underarm deodorant and anti-perspirants. God knows how awful life and work was without these sticky, smeary things that you slather and spray onto your pits. Some will rhapsodize about how earthy and real the smell of the unperfumed, unanti-perspirized armpit is, but that's because they're crazy. Before the invention of these products, people stunk, stank and were stinky. Homes stunk. Factories reeked with the sharp, acrid smell of body odor. Offices stunk. Subways stunk. Buses stunk. Churches stunk. Can you imagine the big stink at a major league baseball stadium in the summer? Whew! Men and women shied away from having cheap, degrading extramarital affairs because their pits smelled so bad. But now we can go days without actually sweating. These are not only the greatest inventions of the past 1,000 years, but the greatest of all time

2. Underalls™ Pantyhose. Holy smokes! These things were invented to rid shapely women of those unsightly panty lines and to give horny men the impression that women in the office, on the street, at the hospital and in church are going underwearless. They work! There is nothing like seeing a bouncy, jiggling -- forget it. Just know that heterosexual men and lesbians are grateful.

3. Alka-Seltzer™. Penicillin isn't the wonder drug; these round tablets that make water go fizz are. Sick to your stomach from too much booze? Feel ready to throw up all that steak and roast beef you ate an hour ago? Well, don't. Pop a couple of these tablets into a glass of water, watch them go fizz, drink the stuff and in just a few minutes you'll be able to booze and eat again. All the penicillin in the world can't do that.

4. The Atom Bomb. Sensitive types whine about what evil weapons of mass destruction A-bombs are and how it's a crime that they were ever invented. Ignore them and look at the positive side of these city-busters. There is a primal sense of satisfaction in knowing that with the press of a button your guys can melt entire countries and burn up the oceans. No one likes to be messed with; people don't and countries don't. But people and tiny countries are constantly messing with us because they're jealous that we can shop 24 hours a day and because we live in a country that nurtures inventors like Ron Popeil and has all his wonderful products. So it's nice to know that when they hold mass demonstrations to denounce us, hijack our airplanes and refuse to buy our stuff, we can incinerate the pesky little annoyances just like that.

5. Pop-top Beer Can. Before this amazing invention came along alcoholics and heavy beer drinkers had a horrible time of it when they were out on a boat, in the woods, in the basement or in a dark closet without their pointy, steel can openers. Many a thirsty alkey cut their lips and chipped their teeth trying to bite open metal beer cans because they forgot their can openers. This invention changed that, and now beer-drinking boozers will never again be in a panic about being unable to press their quivering lips to frosty cans of carbonated, fermented malt beverage -- except when they run out of beer.

6. Asphalt. This combination of tar and coarse and fine aggregate has made it possible for humble road builders to become millionaires and billionaires. Before asphalt, roads were either dirt, or they were solid, hand- and custom-built things that lasted and lasted and lasted. Look at that road in Rome that is named after a pizza sauce. It's still around and still in good shape. But the guys who built it were out of jobs long ago because they built it to last and because once it was done they weren't needed anymore. So being a road builder was kind of a dead end job. But asphalt changed that. Sure, its smooth surface offers a comfortable ride, but once it starts crumbling, which it does real fast, the ride gets bumpy, wheel rims get bent and front-end alignments go out of whack. And then people complain, and the stuff has to be scraped up and new stuff laid down, and now road builders have lifetime jobs and they make millions laying down asphalt on the same stretch of road every couple of years.

7. Pop Tarts™. Piping hot, flaky crust and rich, luscious fruit fillings right out of the toaster every morning! These things are really more like two sheets of cardboard with a sliver of rubbery fruit paste in the middle. But lazy parents who refuse to cook breakfast can tell themselves that by feeding their kids this junk they have provided the tots a nutritious breakfast.

8. Printing Press. Everybody includes this on their list, and so will I. But this mid-millennium invention almost put monks in Belgium out of work (they used to copy books by hand) and almost deprived the world of some of the strangest tasting and most expensive beers in the world. For the monks, when they aren't praying, make some incredible beer.

9. Polaroid Camera. This invention freed up millions of porn artists and curious couples to follow their bliss. Before, you couldn't take revealing pictures of the spouse or loved one because almost no one except perverts and underworld types would develop them. And if you tried to get your home porn developed at a regular film developing place, they'd call the cops on you once they saw what was on the prints. This 60-second picture machine, which prints out photos in the privacy of your own bathroom, changed that. People can now get naked, take pictures, and in 60 seconds look in horror at what they really are.

10. Guillotine. Ouch is the word for this one. Actually, not really. This grizzly machine was so quick and efficient that the heads it lopped off bodies were still conscious after they fell from the body onto the wooden platform or into the basket underneath the blade. The executioner would pick the head up by the hair and show the head its headless body. Then the executioner would turn the head toward the gathered crowd. The people would taunt the head and ask it where its body was. Oftentimes the head would try to talk back to the crowd. This invention is important because, even more than the A-bomb, it shows just how sick a species we really are.

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