August 6, 2007
Innovation for a Bold New World
Not too long ago I
saw a television commercial for what has to be one of the most important
industrial breakthroughs in human history. Even though major advances of
this sort are not really the focus of my column, this is a development
so revolutionary that I felt it was my duty to share it with you here,
on the off-chance some of my readers may have missed the press briefing.
I am talking, of
course, about Tater Mitts.
Like the Segway
scooter and Ron Popeil’s Pocket Fisherman, Tater Mitts just might change
forever the way we view the world around us. Tater Mitts employs an
ingenious blend of state-of-the-art rubber dishwashing glove technology
with some sort of coarse abrasive, to let the average person peel a
boiled potato in less than eight seconds.
This stands in stark
contrast to the 25 or 30 seconds it takes to peel a potato with archaic
“knife” technology. To put this into some perspective, if you peel an
average of just six boiled potatoes per day, Tater Mitts could save you
nearly fourteen hours every year. That’s enough to watch the entire
first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with time left over to change
the line on your Pocket Fisherman!
And then there is
the safety issue. As the Tater Mitts commercial dramatically points out,
peeling potatoes with that old-fashioned “knife” is just plain
dangerous. While a Google search failed to turn up any statistics on
potato-related injuries for recent years in the United States, I think
the Tater Mitts spokesman’s one-word dissertation – “Ouch!” – really
says it all.
All this got me
thinking about the perceived state of technological innovation in
America. For example, some people think that our auto industry is doing
poorly because we Americans have lost our innovative edge. To those
people, I say, “Pah! Just look at Tater Mitts!”
Of course if you
want to talk directly about innovation in the auto industry, just look
at the Hummer. OK, I’ll admit that a Hummer is about as well-suited to
most civilian uses as a rocket launcher. It burns fuel like an oil-well
fire, and looks a little bit like a dumpster with Mag wheels. But a
mother of two driving a Hummer can easily transport the kids, plus
enough groceries and ammunition for about nine years in the survival
shelter. Think of the savings!
And don’t think for
one minute that American innovators have been resting on their laurels.
Just look at the new, smaller and more efficient Hummer, the H3, which
is designed to contribute more than 11.4 tons of greenhouse gasses to
the atmosphere every year, bringing us just that much closer to our goal
of enjoying our winters sunbathing in a beachside tiki bar at the North
So, any time that we
as Americans are tempted to feel technologically inferior when we see a
Hyundai self-destructing on the side of the road or a Japanese dancing
robot, we need to stop and remind ourselves that we are the people of
the Veg-O-Matic (which both slices and dices!), the Salad Blaster
(highly compressed salad dressing at its finest), Ginsu knives that can
saw tin cans in half (who could imagine that an Asian-sounding name
could apply to something so all-American), Hummers, Tahoes, Expeditions,
Durangos, Escalades . . .
…and Tater Mitts.
© 2007 Michael Ball.
Distributed exclusively by North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.
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