6 Douchebag Luxury Goods Originally Invented to Help People
If, like most of us, you find yourself secretly hating rich people now and then, it's probably because of the stupid and frivolous shit they buy. Even if you're not a Marxist, you can't help but think of the starving children of the world when you see some douchebag professional athlete sitting on his yacht, his trophy wife on the phone scheduling yet another cosmetic surgery. A whole segment of our economy is dedicated to making ridiculous shit for these shallow douchebags.
But a whole lot of lives have been saved by that ridiculous shit. For instance ...
Jacuzzi: Hot Tub Healing Machine
Nothing says "class" like having a Jacuzzi hot tub at your disposal. It's the luxury of choice for orange New Jersey hood rats, young black rappers and wrinkly old white guys alike, as well as any other differently colored people who enjoy relaxing romps in bubbly hot water. Hot tubs are so universally associated with sex and decadence that we imagine the inventor as some kind of pimp granddaddy.
Who looks like this.
Its Noble Origin
Hot tub inventor Candido Jacuzzi, far from being a decadent playboy, was actually a dedicated father who invented the Jacuzzi to treat his son's debilitating pain.
The seven Jacuzzi brothers immigrated from Italy at the beginning of the 20th century and made their livings manufacturing pumps for airplanes and agriculture. Unfortunately, Candido Jacuzzi's son Kenneth was only 15 months old when he was stricken with rheumatoid arthritis. Jacuzzi took his son to doctors, who could offer no more hope than occasional hydrotherapy treatments at the hospital. The sight of his son suffering caused Jacuzzi to break down into depression and feel powerless against the disease.Oh wait, no. Jacuzzi didn't boo-hoo into his mustachio -- he fixed that shit.
To the Jacuzzi Cave!
Using their knowledge of pump-making, Jacuzzi and his brothers set about designing a hydrotherapy device for home use. In 1948, they came out with the J300 portable pump, which could turn any bathtub into a healing spa. Kenneth Jacuzzi could get hospital-quality hydrotherapy at home, thanks to the work of his pops.
The device originally was sold as a therapeutic device to drugstores, but then the company found more sales in home luxury. The company improved the design into the modern Jacuzzi all-in-one hot tubs throughout the 1960s and into 1970s, single-handedly creating the decadent culture of hot tub stripper parties.
Is it too late to award Candido Jacuzzi a Nobel Prize?
Botox: Originally for Wonky Eyes
Botox has been a wonder drug for shallow people who fear they may actually be mortal and thus age like a human (or worse, emote like one). The wrinkle-reducing and face-deadening substance is made from botulinum toxin, one of the deadliest neurotoxins in the world. It is the cause of bacteria-borne botulism outbreaks, which can paralyze or kill victims. During World War II, the U.S. military even considered having Chinese prostitutes slip botulism-filled capsules into the food of high-ranking Japanese officials. That's how deadly the stuff is.
So what gave people the idea of injecting a neurotoxin into their faces? Did some mad plastic surgeon start injecting random shallow people with anything he could find?
"The needle sings to me."
Its Noble Origin
Botulism found its way into cosmetic surgery thanks to an ophthalmologist who was trying to cure crossed eyes and muscle spasms. In the 1960s, Dr. Alan B. Scott discovered that botulism Type A relaxed hyperactive muscles and could correct strabismus, or crossed eyes, in monkeys.
Finally a reason to use this picture!
In 1978, he got FDA approval to test the procedure on human subjects and found that the modified botulism cured spasms of the eye, face, neck and vocal cords. And by "cured spasms," we're not just talking about getting rid of nervous twitches. Thanks to Botox, there were people who could see for the first time in years and others who could speak only when the drug relaxed their vocal cords and necks. Sufferers of everything from cerebral palsy to Parkinson's disease got relief from Botox, to the point where a drought of the drug in 1986 debilitated thousands of patients.
It wasn't until 1992 that a study confirmed what many doctors had already observed -- that botulism Type A improved the appearance of frown lines. Which probably explained why cross-eyed people had turned those frowns upside down over the previous few years.
Yachts Are the Lone Rangers of Sailing Vehicles
Nothing says "good weekend" like taking a trip out to the Hamptons, meeting your old Ivy League chums at the yacht club and taking a spin around in the old S.S. WASP. The only thing bluer than the clear skies and still waters is the blood of the average yachtsman.
"We have literally never seen a black person."
Yachts are such a symbol of wealth and privilege that Yachting magazine warned its subscribers about the risk of pirates targeting private yachts off the Somali coast. The targeting of yachts is a sad reversal of history, as there was a time when the yachts used to chase the pirates.
Its Noble Origin
Yachts were actually invented by Dutch traders who needed small, fast-moving ships to intercept attacking pirates. These small vessels could quickly maneuver around the larger ones and allow crews to take on pirates and fortify trading ships. They called the boats "jachts," from the German word "to hunt." Their purpose was simple: Go in, kick ass, kill pirates.
They were the Bat-boats of the sea.
They became a symbol of luxury only when King Charles II, returning to England from exile, was presented a yacht by the city of Amsterdam. Charles took a liking to the boat, and soon his little brother, the future King James, got one too. Like most rich people, the first thing they did was race boats, with Charles winning the first race. The popularity of the boat cost the yachts their badass image, making them a mark of effeminate wealth and luxury.
It's hard to intimidate pirates when your boat is associated with high heels and killer legs.
Boner Pills Keep the Blood Racing, Unfortunately
Open up a men's magazine, turn on a football game, or open the spam folder in your email and you'll find ads for erectile dysfunction. Erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra and Cialis are among the most heavily advertised and profitable drugs on the market today. Viagra alone gets nearly $2 billion in sales annually. While these drugs are approved to only cure erectile dysfunction, that doesn't stop drugmakers from falsely implying that Viagra will give you better sex, make a good party drug or stop your wife from making you go antiquing.
A good portion of the market is also younger men who fit within the drugmaker's target market: men with disposable income and sexual insecurities. You have to imagine that dick pills must be one of the most amazing plots hatched by the pharmaceutical industry. While Jerry Lewis continues to spend his Labor Day trying to patch together a few million to cure muscular dystrophy, Viagra is raking in billions by making us all feel inadequate in the dick department.
It's like showering in gym class all over again.
Its Noble Origin
Like the butter substitute margarine, Viagra was accidentally discovered while someone was trying to cure hypertension. Trial studies of the phosphodiesterase Type 5 inhibitor sildenafil (Viagra) found that the pill was not effective on high blood pressure, but many patients who were tested reported increased boners. Pfizer decided the whole stiffy angle may be worth something and in 1998 got FDA approval for selling Viagra for erectile dysfunction. After Viagra made more than a billion dollars the first year, other brands, such as Cialis and Levitra, decided to jump on the dickwagon.
There's a reason it's covered.
The good news for heart disease-riddled chumps who don't have problems getting woodies is that after the introduction of Viagra, Pfizer actually did figure out how to use the drug to treat hypertension. In 2005, it came out with a version that treats a rare disease called pulmonary arterial hypertension, marketed under the name Revatio.
Nose Jobs Invented for Cheaters
Rhinoplasty is the term for the plastic surgery techniques that alter the shape and function of patients' noses. While it can be used for reconstruction purposes or to aid in breathing, we know that for the most part, it's used for pure vanity and is the second-most-common plastic surgery procedure.
Its Noble Origin
Rhinoplasty was created to rebuild noses for criminals whose own noses had been amputated for their crimes.
Although plastic surgery seems like a relatively recent invention, the creation of rhinoplasty dates back to 600 B.C. India, when it was invented by an Indian surgical genius named Sushruta. And rather than being used by some shallow ancient Indian socialites, the procedure was actually invented because Dr. Sushruta had pity on criminals.
He also had the ancient world's greatest hairdresser.
Back then, Indian laws dictated cutting off the noses of certain criminals for their crimes. What crime could be heinous enough to permanently disfigure a person for life? Murder? Rape? Kidnapping? Try adultery.
So, 300 years before Hippocrates started doctoring it up in Greece, Sushruta wrote a whole book telling ancient medical experts how to perform complicated surgeries such as nose jobs and cataract removals. And apparently Indians liked to screw around, because he got a lot of practice in the nose job department. Sushruta actually got so good at fixing noses that his techniques ended up in medieval Italy from translated texts, starting a whole plastic surgery industry to the west.
Happily ever after.
We've all heard about all-night raves chock-full of gaudily dressed, pacifier-sucking rich kids dancing to crappy house music, all celebrating how they are all so individual, yet one. One of the reasons why some kids suck on baby chew toys is because they've taken the drug Ecstasy, which makes them grind their teeth. And we can only assume the reason why they're taking Ecstasy is so they can tolerate their crappy house music.
Everyone in this room is getting laid tonight. Also, syphilis.
Its Noble Origin
Ecstasy was originally synthesized by drugmaker Merck in 1912 as a blood-clotting medicine. Because apparently some people really need their blood to not exit their bodies uncontrollably every time they get cut. Since Merck's rival Bayer already had a successful blood-clotter on the market, Merck's scientists wanted to get in on the clot game with their own version using a chemical called 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA). Unfortunately, the drug didn't work and was scrapped right off the bat.
The company forgot it for 15 years before rediscovering it in 1927. Researchers did some tests on animals to see whether it was good for anything but apparently found nothing interesting.
Or at least that's what the newly invented hypnotoad led them to believe.
So the formula was scrapped once more, until the 1950s, when the CIA experimented with MDMA and many, many other drugs as possible truth serums. By 1967, the godfather of Ecstasy, a former scientist with Dow Chemical named Dr. Alexander Shulgin, had gotten his hands on the formula and made some for himself, testing it and encouraging others to do it as well.
This man has invented more drugs than most people ever take.
And that was when MDMA went from a failure of a blood-clotter to a winner of a euphoria-producing club drug. On the other hand, research indicates that MDMA might be a great tool for helping post-traumatic stress disorder victims and people with autism. Soooo, best illicit drug ever?
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