Commentary – The next great invention

Chris Clegg

I am told once upon a time a man applied for a federal government grant. His bright idea was to train ravens to deliver the mail in the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories. Nunavut did not exist yet.
His application stated ravens were accustomed to the ice, snow and cold and could easily handle the frigid Arctic conditions. Pretty sure there was something included on how little food they would need since they could scavenge carcasses along the route. Money saved by everyone!
And, guess what! He was successful, so the story goes. Not sure how much money he got.
Still waiting to see a raven in a Canada Post uniform!
Then there was the story of using elephants to cross the mountains. Gary Larson of The Far Side fame drew a similar cartoon to ridicule the idea using kangaroos.
But it wasn’t Larson’s best work. He once drew a cartoon of a failed business venture: Porcupine on a Stick, quills and all included! That would smart!
I once saw a picture of a seal being used to pull a boat. Would still need oil to power that motor, but it would be fish oil, not the gooey stuff from the ground that has environmentalists and NDP alarmed. That is, unless they are flying to Hawaii for a holiday or driving to the mall to go shopping.
It is said you never know how bad an idea is until you try it. Years ago, doctors put radium into everything from water to toothpaste claiming it made people healthier or gave men greater libido! What a selling point! Sex sells! Until it was discovered it didn’t exactly work!
It reminds me of former Town of High Prairie councillor Jim Fisher. To this day, he calls fluoride in the water supply “rat poison”. He is not alone.
Another great military invention was a flying tank. Yes, tanks were attached to the bottom of airplanes. Didn’t work!
Years ago, a fella in Hines Creek, AB invented Lic-Soda. It was featured in pages of Spotlight in both the Lakeside Leader and South Peace News. Hey, almost everyone loves licorice, right! Never really caught on in soda pop, however.
How about peanut butter ice cream? Haven’t saw it yet!
Sheesh, the junk food companies come up with new flavours every day. How could peanut butter “anything” fail? Maybe if they mixed it with jam?
Remember when New Coke was introduced? It was putting old Coke to bed forever. People were filling their basements full of the old stuff. It wasn’t long before old Coke came back as Coke Classic. Was it a failed venture or elaborate marketing scheme? You decide.
Remember Orbitz? It was a soft drink that had plastic bubbles inside. When it came to High Prairie, it sold faster than hotcakes. Merchants couldn’t get enough of the stuff. Suddenly, within weeks, no one bought it. You couldn’t give the stuff away.
I remember going to Red Earth Creek one day and stopping at a store. Some poor guy still had two full coolers of the stuff. He couldn’t give it away! It was the last I ever saw of it!
There are literally millions of ideas that have failed. It must be said, however, that for every idea that failed, one succeeded. I can’t remember the exact invention but one day Fred Flintstone was told new things were being invented each day. I still laugh when I see birds trained as clothespins [Wilma was afraid her laundry would disappear one day!] or a bird using its beak to create a photograph inside a Polarock Camera! Classic!
“What?” Fred asked. “We have everything!’
Thank goodness we have brilliant minds who come up with new inventions every day. I’m not so sure we would enjoy powering our vehicles with our feet, as Fred Flintstone did, or rely on monkeys to hold traffic lights [candles]. Remember the monkeys quit when they burned their hands?
What will they think of next? Who knows, but we know one thing: whether it fails or succeeds it makes for a great story.

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