Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Time's Coolest Invention of the Year 

Time Magazine recently named the iTunes Music Store the "Coolest Invention of 2003".

This comes as no surprise to me, since my iPod and I remain inseparable (2701 songs and counting), and I’ve had to institute a monthly cap on my iTunes spending sprees. (See my "What’s On YOUR iPod" blog from 9/15/03.)

But the announcement did make me curious about what other things Time has designated as "cool" in the past couple of years.

In 2002 a few things got the Cool nod from Time, the strangest of which (to me, anyhow), being freeze-dried tomato juice containing a strain of E coli bacterium. (Yes, the same E. coli known to cause violent diarrhea and death.) An Arizona State University biologist named Charles Arntzen had been working for years to create this potent juice mix. Drinking a glass of the reconstituted juice apparently acts as a vaccine against E. coli by priming the immune system to recognize and fight off the real thing. While I don't know that I would call this exactly "cool," I do understand the potential for greater use in third world diarrhea-prone countries.

Also getting the Cool vote in 2002 were Cool Mint Listerine PocketPaks. Apparently over 100 million of these things were sold the first year they came out. Personally, I think the little suckers are revolting, but I will admit to their being handy. The thin little melt away strips never fail to get stuck on the roof of my mouth (no matter how hard I try to keep it on my tongue) and I find that sticky sensation maddening. Luckily, it only lasts a few seconds. The strips are handy, though because they do seem to offer a breath-freshening (although bracing) punch.

Birth control devices got voted into Time’s Cool Inventions list in both of the previous two years. In 2001, NuvaRing (a thin flexible plastic ring that women insert like a diaphragm once a month) was highlighted, and in 2002 OrthoEvra (It's a thin patch about the size of a matchbook needs to be changed weekly) was featured.

Who knew birth control was considered cool?

Japanese toymaker Takara’s invention, Bowlingual also won the Cool designation from Time last year. This silly little thing is supposed to help you communicate with your dog. I am all for communicating with my dog (CALM DOWN ALREADY!), but somehow I don’t think that attaching a radio microphone to his collar and checking the readout on a handheld receiver is going to help me figure out what he really wants. Besides…I already know what he wants: a cookie. It’s that simple. No radio frequencies necessary.

Despite Time's failure (in my eyes) to recognize COOL in previous years, I think they came up with a winner this year. I can think of nothing more cool than my iTunes/iPod combo.
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