Two Landmark Breakthroughs In The History Of Technology

1 May

The Broom

I wonder when brooms were invented. And, more importantly, I wonder what people did before they had brooms.

Did they just sort of use the edge of their feet to push dirt into a corner? Or maybe they wiped their floors with squirrel hides? Or maybe, in the pre-broom era, people were less concerned about having clean living rooms and more concerned about not getting scurvy.

Also, in a world with no brooms, what did people envision witches using as their primary mode of transportation? And this naturally begs the question: At what point did witches become associated with a household cleaning device?

And why?

My hunch is that people were skeptical about the broom when it first emerged. The housewives using the dust pan and squirrel hide saw these uppity bitches using a straw-covered branch and felt threatened. The squirrel-hide users started some rumors (i.e. “Wilma’s a witch”). Gossip ensued. Within days, anybody with an immaculate foyer was a suspect.

Then again, maybe their foyers weren’t very clean at all: I bet the very first brooms were laughably ineffective–sort of like the way my windshield wipers work when they’re frozen in ice.

Cave woman #1: What the hell are you doing?

Cave woman #2: I’m trying out this new thing Thor invented. He calls it a “broom.”

Cave woman #1: You realize you’re just getting straw all over the floor?

Cave woman #2: [Sigh] Yeah…

The Spud Gun

A few days ago, I went to a middle school science fair. (For those of you who know me well, the reason for this should be obvious; for those of you who don’t, I prefer to leave you guessing).

Anyway, while at this science fair, I saw a bunch of kids standing in front of three-panel poster presentations; most of them had prize ribbons around their necks and Nick Carter’s haircut from 1998. There were kids talking about chlorophyll and aerodynamics (which was boring); there were kids demonstrating Rube Goldberg devices (which were relatively unimpressive); there was a kid who dissected a pig fetus (which was unpleasant). And then there was a kid with a “spud gun” (which was fucking awesome).

For those of you not familiar with the concept of a “spud gun,” it’s exactly what it sounds like: a gun that shoots potatoes.

The young lad wielding this item had large pupils, orange hair, and a penchant for destruction. He eagerly explained everything I wanted to know about food-related firearms.

What’s great about the spud gun device is that is has absolutely no purpose beyond juvenile entertainment. The goal is to shoot potatoes for the sake of shooting potatoes. There is no shortage of starch in the atmosphere that the spud gun is attempting to overcome. Its invention had nothing to do with the Great Famine in Ireland. The sole objective is to propel a vegetable across your back yard and think about how awesome this is.

For those of you interested in making this device–or learning more about popular pastimes in Vermont–I encourage you to watch this video:

Fast-forward to 3:53 for some real action!



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