Jewish World Review Nov. 8, 2006 / 17 Mar-Cheshvan, 5767
Ballpoint pens and other great ideas from journalist geniuses
By Jeff Elder
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: Who first thought of putting a little ball inside a long tube of ink and using it as a pen? How do they keep that little ball inside there anyway? Stefan Schetselaar, Gainesville, VA
A: How much time have I spent slouched at my desk in the newsroom, day-dreaming of the invention that will make me rich?
My No. 1 idea: Shoes that grow with your kid.
Think about it. How much money have you wasted over the years buying shoes for your children? Way too much.
What the world needs is a children's shoe that grows - maybe it's made of moss or something. (I'm not a "details" guy.)
Are they good in the rain, you ask? These things love the rain. The rain makes them grow!
You buy a pair of my Rootie Booties ($79.95) when the kid's a newborn. He or she takes them off when they move out at age 39.
The earth tones go with everything.
The reason my Rootie Booties ("Everybody's lichen `em!") come up is, the ballpoint pen is proof that a no-good lazy journalist can actually dream up something useful. (What about a combination TV remote-Taser, so you can zap anybody that tries to grab it?)
Hungarian journalist Laszlo Biro invented the ballpoint in 1938. He got the idea from the press at the newspaper where he worked. He was sick of dealing with smudgy fountain pens, and wanted a pen that used quick-drying ink. He began manufacturing the pens in 1943 in Argentina, where he immigrated to escape the persecution of Jews in Europe. In many parts of the world, the ballpoint is known as the biro. A breakthrough for the pens' popularity came during World War II, as British pilots began using the pens.
The difficulty you have figuring out how a ballpoint works might be compounded by the tiny point. Looking at it might make you cross-eyed and dizzy. So look at roll-on antiperspirant, instead. (Yes, they do still make it, actually.) Works exactly the same way: The ball is in a socket that allows it to roll, constantly picking up the liquid behind it.
OK, last big money-making genius idea: The Leaf Zapper. Perfect for this time of year. Like a bug zapper, but it goes across your whole yard, saving you from all that tedious raking. Adds a pleasant background noise and aroma to daily life. Ends all bird problems.
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Jeff Elder is a columnist for The Charlotte Observer. Comment or try to stump him by clicking here.
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