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6 Brilliant Inventions That Look Like Gag Gifts

#3.
Solar-Powered Flashlight

What You're Probably Thinking:

We're eventually going to find out that submarines have screen doors, aren't we?


Maybe there is such a thing as headlight fluid ...

After all, a flashlight that runs on solar power would come in very handy in situations when you need a flashlight not to actually light anything (since it's broad daylight), but, like, to show people that you own one or to generally be a dick. Otherwise, it's a completely useless item and yet another depressing sign that we will just buy any goddamned thing.

Actually ...

Ask a U.S. Marine in Iraq or a Navy SEAL in Afghanistan how awesome solar-powered flashlights are -- they use them all the time. These flashlights can be charged up only during daytime, but no one says you have to use them right away. They work the same way as solar panels, collecting power and storing it for later use (as in "when it's dark"). So these are almost as good as regular flashlights, right? Wrong: They're much, much better.


They aren't quite as good for clubbing unruly hippies, though.

For the troops, letting the flashlight charge itself during the day is much more practical than having to carry (and dispose of) a bunch of stupid batteries. And rechargeable flashlights don't help you much in a country where electricity is scarce and unreliable.

But that's not even the main reason solar-powered flashlights are so awesome: that would be the fact that they help poor people in Africa not explode:

They also allow them to work after sunset, do schoolwork and see where they're going without treading on anything that might bite their legs off, but the not exploding part is definitely the highlight for us. It goes like this: Loads of African people have no electricity and therefore must rely on old petroleum generators for light and power. These generators are in pretty shitty condition, and since they're maintained by pretty much whoever happens to be standing in their proximity, they tend to blow up. Like, a lot.

So, come sundown, the people have two options: make their way through darkness and possibly stumble on a sleeping African lion, or flip a light switch that may or may not have been rigged with a bomb. What do you do? What do you do?


It's the sort of conundrum Keanu Reeves might find himself in.

BoGo Lights spares them that choice by giving away one solar-powered flashlight to poor people in Africa (or U.S. troops, if you prefer that) for every purchased one.

Holy shit, is there anything else out there we should feel bad for mocking?

#2.
Inflatable Anchor

What You're Probably Thinking:

Ahh, another classic from Grandma's corny joke email forwards. Let's see: an anchor is intended to sink, and all inflatable things are intended to float. We're absolutely, 100 percent confident that no one could ever figure out a way to make this idea work, because clearly we haven't been paying any attention to this article.

Actually ...

Not only do they work, but under certain conditions, inflatable anchors can be more effective than regular ones. You know, those extremely heavy things made out of metal that you would totally trust over a piece of plastic filled with air.

Real inflatable anchors are widely used as anchoring methods for sea areas with a bottom composed of sand or soft clay, where ordinary anchors struggle to find hold. So how the hell do they work? It's simple logic, really: If you fill the anchor with air before sinking it, it will be completely useless, but if you bury it deep in the soil and then inflate it, it will lodge so hard into the ground that its pullout resistance will be superior to that of a regular anchor.

Not only that, they're also easier to retrieve, since all you have to do is take the air out and suddenly that impressive pullout resistance disappears. The anchor is able to come out as easily as it went in, probably giving the soil some excuse about having to get up early in the morning.

OK, so this system is way too impractical to use in your average fishing boat. We admit it. That's why inflatable anchors are mainly used for less-exciting stuff, like securing giant offshore structures and remote-controlled science robots.


And you can buy one now for just $69.99.

#1.
Doggles

What You're Probably Thinking:

Goggles for dogs? Seriously? You can find this invention in countless wacky articles about ridiculous inventions. And rightfully so. Fashion accessories for pets are the stupidest, most useless human invention in history and the main reason your dog secretly hates you.


Ninety percent of the dogs in these types of photos are contemplating eating your face.

At least, say, a sweater or little dog boots could be claimed to have some application (maybe your dog gets cold? And you don't want him tracking shit into your house?), but if you saw Paris Hilton walking a dog that's wearing strap-on sunglasses, you'd weep for Western civilization. Just look at the fucking Doggles website:

As seen on Regis and Kelly indeed.

Actually ...

The thing is, Doggles aren't meant for your dog. They're utility goggles for search-and-rescue dogs, police dogs and even military dogs.


Like Lt. Col. Ruffles here.

What shielded war dogs' eyes from the effects of desert sandstorms in Iraq and Afghanistan? Doggles. In the aftermath of 9/11, what protected the search-and-rescue dogs from being eye-raped by dangerous debris dust? You guessed it: fuckin' Doggles. Feel silly for making fun of them yet? That's because Doggles have done more for mankind than you ever will.


So has this dog. And that red thing, whatever it is.

Sure, the company that makes them also sells pink Chihuahua sunglasses, but the thing to remember here is that Doggles as fashion items are just an unfortunate byproduct. They are sold for pet owners much in the same way Hummers are sold for civilian use -- as unnecessary gadgets for schmucks with way too much money and no sense of ridicule whatsoever.


Like this stupid bitch.

But not all goggles-wearing dogs are the victims of obliviously cruel owners: Doggles can be used to help dogs with eye conditions, too. In one case, they saved the life of a dog that can't produce tears, a painful condition that's usually resolved with a one-way trip to the vet.


We'll stop making fun of dogs in party hats, too, just in case.

Pauli is a freelance writer who may or may not be secretly amazing. Visit him at The Unpronounceable, or have a go at his other Cracked articles here.

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