The Right Opinion

Bad Inventions

By Ann Coulter · Jan. 3, 2013

I am bored with politics, refuse to pay attention to the news and am watching only True Crime TV shows and Turner Classic Movies these days. With the Democrats controlling the Senate and presidency, nothing good can possibly come out of Washington for at least another two years. So I thought I'd start the new year with something useful, like a short list of bad inventions.


Are people installing dishwashers next to their beds? I've checked my “Top 500 Daily Irritations” list and dishwasher noise is not on it.

What possible benefit derives from having a dishwasher that makes absolutely no noise? Was that gentle whooshing sound driving some homeowners bonkers? Is this a product designed by the same people who gave us the electric car, a vehicle so silent that the first sign of its approach is the sound of your pelvis breaking as the car hits you?

Not only are the virtues of a silent dishwasher elusive, but there's one big disadvantage: You can't tell if it's running. A dishwasher doesn't have to sound like the Concorde blasting off to provide some indication that the thing is working.

Now, in addition to the usual steps of washing dishes – loading the dishwasher, inserting the cleaning agent and turning on the machine – the fancy new quiet dishwashers demand yet another step of the homeowner: You have to hang around and keep putting your ear against the door hoping to hear activity. If you forget to perform this bonus time-waster, every once in a while you'll start unloading dishes the next morning and notice that they're still dirty.

The whole point of having a dishwasher is to minimize the work involved to get clean dishes. The dishwasher is a product that's devolving.


There are only two crucial functions of a telephone: enabling you to talk to someone who is not in the same room, and to ring or – this is important – NOT ring. Without those, you have nothing.

For people with home offices, babies, small apartments or unusual hours, it's the “not ring” feature that is the telephone's most critical function. A phone with no ringer-off button is like a front door without a lock.

But over the past few years, cordless phone manufacturers have decided you should never be able to turn the ringer off. Like liberals, they think, “I don't need an 'off' button, so I don't know why anyone else should, either.”

On nearly any modern landline phone, the only way to turn off the ringer is to read the manual. So now, something that used to be accomplished with the flick of a button reading “High-Low-Off” – a process so simple you could do it on a phone you had never laid eyes on before, in the dark, on a hotel phone, while sleepwalking – requires flipping through pages and pages of helpful tips from the manufacturer, such as “Do not submerge phone in bathtub” in order to find the seven counterintuitive steps required to turn your ringer off.

(Ironically, when I'm staying in a hotel and there's no “ringer off” button on the telephone, I usually end up submerging the entire unit in the bathtub.)

Modern phones have loads of buttons to do things like change the ringer sound to chirping birds or Beethoven's Fifth, or to emit beeps in case you've left it under a couch cushion. Those aren't among the vital functions of a telephone. Turning off the ringer is.

That's why people are abandoning their landlines for cellphones. True, home phones don't work in cars or out on the street. But I think the main appeal of cellphones is that they have “off” buttons.


Sensor-activated bathroom accoutrements are mostly found in airports. Airports are natural monopolies, meaning consumer satisfaction is not a factor. If you live in St. Louis, you can't say, “I hate Lambert-St. Louis International Airport – let's fly out of the San Francisco airport instead.”

Consequently, airports always have the most up-to-date technology for annoying the customer.

Were travelers tiring themselves out with the strenuous, back-breaking work of turning a faucet 15 degrees clockwise? Half the time, the sensors are broken, anyway. Free tip: James Bond technology isn't all that “James Bond” if it doesn't work.

If engineers can design a paper towel dispenser that saves consumers the exhausting motion of gently pulling down – instead, forcing them to wildly wave their hands in front of a non-working sensor like signers for the deaf at a Louis Farrakhan speech – can't these same design mavens figure out how much paper a normal person needs to dry his hands? Does no one notice that people are always walking out of airport bathrooms picking toilet paper off their hands?

The blowing hand dryers often turn on and make that reassuring whooshing noise we miss on our dishwashers. The one thing they have absolutely no capacity to do is dry hands. I gather the idea is that if you stand there long enough your hands will eventually drip dry, long after your flight has pushed back from the gate. (At least no one in an airport has to be anywhere important.)

Some newer hand dryers on the market actually do dry hands in about 10 seconds. You see these hand dryers in restaurants and other commercial establishments that cater to customers. You will never see one in an airport. (What are travelers going to do? Fly out of a different airport?) I suppose we should be happy that instead of a row of toilet stalls, airport restrooms don't just give us a long, floor-level trench.

Only liberals believe all novelty is progress. Monopolies such as airports give them free rein to impose their pointless, irritating devices on the rest of us. And the biggest monopoly of all is government. If you think airport hand dryers blow, wait until you read the fine print on the fiscal cliff deal. Which I won't. I'll be busy watching “Forensic Files.”



Rozann in Iowa said:

I believe that #3 is brought to us because of the germophobes among us. They can't stand the thought of touching something that someone else, with mega-germs, has just touched. So we normal people are forced to use the less-than-convenient "new and improved" technology. Give me the old-fashioned any day.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 8:26 AM

p3orion in Midland, Georgia replied:

The irony, of course, is that the only ones who would have touched the hand dryer earlier are those who washed their hands. What I hate are restaurants which have hand dryers to protect us from germs, yet which are located in a restroom with a door knob I must grab with my clean hand, regardless of whether the previous occupant washed his. And since there's no paper towel dispenser, I lack even the option of grabbing the knob while holding a towel.

At least airport restrooms have no doors, but I'm sure this is more an accommodation for luggage than a sudden burst of logic.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 9:34 AM


Thanks Ann! I too am tired of politics and the complete insanity! I hate those automatic faucets and hand towels - and the automatic flushers in toilets - they NEVER work, so you still have to touch them, or worse yet, leave the restroom without having washed your hands because none of the automatic faucets work! I always keep hand sanitizer in my pocket.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Mikey in Southwest Idaho said:

I am still waiting to meet the person that will actually turn off their cell phone. Most people act as if doing so might actually result in death. I don't think the off switch is the big selling point. I'm not sure what is. They are a poor subsitute for a real phone, camera, computer, etc.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

Mikey, i don't know if turning off a cell phone would result in death but it sure as hell makes them have withdrawal pains like a drug addict with no drugs.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Kurt.S in Missouri said:

In #3 you mention the airport problem of automatic faucets but leave out the "automatic" function of the TSA which passes shady looking characters in robes and turbans to concentrate on doddering grandparents and pre-pubescent children.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Dear Old Dad in DC said:

- The reason a restaurant will install an automatic hand dryer that sounds like an SST taking off is for supervisors (and nearby customers) outside the bathroom door to monitor hygiene habits. No jet noise when a patron or employee walks out of a restroom means they didn't wash their hands, or at least, didn't dry them using the jet blaster.
- The dishwasher manufacturers can use 24 bucks of insulation to jack up the price 150 bucks for the added benefit of a silent dishwasher.
- Finally, my daughter mentioned her wish that my wallet act like the auto paper towel dispenser when she waived her hand near my hip pockets. Wouldn't work, coz I would have already dumped my whole paycheck on the street when I scratched my butt.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 11:45 AM

rab in jo,mo said:

The reason for the automatic faucets isn't so much that turning on faucets was a problem, it's because of the idjits that couldn't figure out how to turn the faucets back off.

As to the dishwashers, I am one that is highly annoyed by the 1.5hour whoosing of a traditional dishwasher, especially one that can be heard throughout the house. My silent Bosch dishwasher has a counter on the front to indicate that it is in operation and exactly how much time is left in it's cycle. When it reads 0, it's done - simple and effective.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Rod in USA said:

I will quote a John Caparulo commedy line: "Can we just go back to knobs? Why do you have to be a Jedi Knight to get waater in the bathroom?"

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 12:13 PM

Laura in Far North Scottsdale said:

I LOVE my new KitchenAid silent dishwasher - the green light tells me it's finished and I don't have to feel like I'm stationed behind the jet-blast screen at the airport whiel it's running. I also love my "fancy" paper towel dispenser for a couple of logical reasons: 1-it doesn't topple over when I pull off a sheet quickly and I can get just as much as I need for the job; 2-my Moluccan cockatoo can't decorate the edges of the towels with scallops since he can't get to the towels! Definitely agree about the phone ringers!

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Old Desert Rat in Las Vegas, NV said:

The other reason I prefer paper in bathrooms is to open the door after I've washed my hands. I have no assurance that the person in front of me washed her hands nor if she sneezed and left flu germs all over the handle.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Jim D in AL said:

Other inventions that impede civilization's advance:

Gov't mandated toilets that saved our vital water resources and stopped the deserts from covering the nation. (except for the small print that says "flush twice, plunge once").

Gov't mandated lightbulbs that last forever or three days longer than the old ones, whichever comes first, that save our environment, unless you break one and have to call in the EPA clean-up crew to dispose of the mercury and which have us sending more money to China than the latest TARP Bill.

Modern Voting Machines which are completely tamper proof, fool proof, photo ID proof, and, by and large, Republican proof and Military Voter proof.

Drones, for remote control killing, which, of course, will never be used here.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 1:58 PM

JtC in TX replied:

We are down to the waterless urinals, Jim. They smell so good . . .

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

Jim, thanks to low flow shower heads now I know what it is like to stand outside in a drizzle waiting for the soap to be washed off. When I had the house built, as soon as the building inspector left I changed the shower heads. And don't forget the water heaters that only give 140 degree water. Isn't it fun shaving with warm water.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 5:08 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming said:

When it comes to #2 cell phones, I just want a phone that makes and receives calls. I do not need a camera as I have two, a digital and a 35 SLR. They both take superior pictures to any cell phone. And I do not want or need texting. If I wanted a teletype I would buy a teletype. The computer works very well for sending email. BTW, my knuckles do not drag on the ground.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 6:15 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

Somehow it gave the wrong name. I assume the electrons are not following the laws of physics this afternoon.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 6:54 PM

India in GA replied:

LOL... Howard we are in complete agreement. I tell people not to text me, as I do two things with my phone: make a recieve telephone calls.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 12:48 PM

richard ryan in Lamar,Missouri said:

Ann, I`m with you on all this stuff. I hate all the new gadgetry. A friend of mine has just purchased a brand new Ford Flex, even though he had a Flex that was just a year old. The new vehicle has no knobs or switches. Everything is pretty much touch screen. Right. I have a touch screen GPS and the darned thing constantly enters things I don`t want entered. I can only imagine what all those touch screens will do on a $40,000.00 automobile. For me, give me an automobile with power steering, power windows are acceptable although I could do without them,and automatic transmission. A lot less to go wrong, and much, much simpler to use.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 6:56 PM

Howard Last in Wyoming replied:

Richard, two things on trucks drive me crazy. Headlights that come on by themselves and electric transfer cases and front hubs. Besides the headlights coming on by themselves the dashboard dims. Go under a highway underpass and you can not see the dashboard when you first emerge for several seconds. Have your 4 wheel drive go out when you need it. Give me a manual transfer case and manual hubs anytime.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 9:02 PM

richard ryan in Lamar,Missouri replied:

I too don`t like the automatic head lights. They can`t possibly last as long as the ones that you only use when you need them to see. Maybe the fact that I`m nearly 80 has made me nostalgic about the old days. It just seems that things have gotten impossibly complicated. I can accomodae change, as is verified by the fact that I know how to use a computer. It just seems that life was better when it was simpler.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 9:36 PM

pete in CA said:

I got in the habit long, long ago of carrying red and/or blue neckerchiefs with me for so many things I did at the time. These days I get the biggest kick out of the looks on people's faces when I pull one out of my pocket and dry my hands as I leave a public restoom.

Thursday, January 3, 2013 at 7:44 PM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

The wing window in the '67 chevy impala, was almost always open, to ventilate the cigarette smoke, from the Camal cigs, of my brother. Gasoline was about 30 cents a gallon. Cigarettes were about 75 cents a pack. Jobs were plentiful, and even LBJ got a single term, in D.C.. Westmoreland was a kreep!!

Friday, January 4, 2013 at 6:53 AM

Glenn in The Land of 10,000 Liberals said:

The one thing I've always wondered, if those hand dryers are so much more sanitary, as they claim, why have I never seen one in a hospital or other health care facility?

Friday, January 4, 2013 at 3:33 PM