Bad Inventions

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.”

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  • Mary Sue

    We had a Kitchen Aid mobile dishwasher (the kind you had to plug into the sink with a special hose attachment) back in the 1970s and 80s, which was replaced in the 1990s. It was a monstrous thing and yes it was noisy, but it was an inoffensive noise.

    Hopefully there's a lit button that shows you dishwashers are working like the one we have now.

    Ok though, seriously, you missed a bad invention. TVs with no power on/off buttons on them, but only on the stupid remotes.

    • tagalog

      TVs in general were a bad invention.

      • Mary Sue

        At some point the TV and the Computer will be one in the same.

  • Mary Sue

    BTW automated faucets are terrible in places where there are power failures.

  • K-Bob

    Some of those hand dryers can damage your hearing.

    • JoJoJams

      Actually, I recently read an article in Science News about how UNsanitary the air-hand dryers are. Why? It's a bathroom….Certainly you've heard about not keepng your toothbrush near the toilet, as when you flush, mist/vapor from the rushing water carriers bacteria up and in to the air. Well, it turns out those hand-dryers "filters" -(who actually changes them….) collect the bacteria quite well. And most don't run hot enough to kill the bacteria. In affect, they blow tons of bacteria on to your freshly washed hands. ~ Paper towels are actually better/safer.

      • JoJoJams

        ((let me correct myself, in a sense – of course they don't blow "tons" of bacteria – it's hyperbole… But they certainly blow out billions of bacteria on to your hands. Disclaimer for the nearly inevitable nit-picker of verbiage that is lurking out there, waiting to pounce….)) :-P

  • davarino

    You may not be able to switch Airports, but there are some people that can switch governments : )

    We could all leave and let the Hollywood dolts take care of the government handouts, or we could change the government

  • tagalog

    Did you run out material this week, Ann? This commentary reminded me of the definition of what a "potboiler" novel is. Just keep that old pot boiling, eh?

    Just for the record, my land line phone has a well-defined and easy-to-see "MUTE" button right below the number-letter button panel. The word "MUTE" appears right under the button itself.

    • Seichel

      Just a typical liberal, doesn't understand the difference between MUTE and RINGER OFF.

      • tagalog

        That's me, just a big liberal stupe.

  • Ar'nun

    "(1) SILENT DISHWASHERS" I am sure to the Anne Coulter's of the world where their kitchens are tucked in the back part of the estate where only the 'help' go, a quiet dishwasher isn't all that exciting. But for those of us living in a peasant dwelling where the kitchen and the living room are right next to one another it helps us hear the television.

    "but there’s one big disadvantage: You can’t tell if it’s running." Only when you are not bright or experienced enough to look for the LIGHTS on the fiont of it, but as I said her help probably performs those tasks for her.

    "(2) TELEPHONES WITH NO “OFF” BUTTON" Or you could just un plug it.

    I kind of agree with # 3. They can be a bit annoying but then again I like the concept of not having to touch something a dirty Liberal has touched since they tend to not wash their hands in the restrooms.

    • Mary Sue

      Even with the ancient roaring Kitchen Aid portable dishwasher we could hear the TV just fine in the next room (no walls in between), and dishwashers aren't nearly as loud today.

      • albert

        hahha. that's funny because me too I also hate politics that is why I keep on ignoring some politicians if they all come to me. how to get healthy looking hair

  • mmichlin

    Come on Ann Coulter! You are known to be smart and funny and in this article you are neither. And if I somehow can understand the complaints about the airports, which are the natural monopoly (although I don't have any problems with their sanitary facilities and thing they are pretty good), the dishwashers and cordless phones are definitely the result of free market developments. If you don't like it don't buy it! Isn't it obvious (especially for such free market proponent as Ann Coulter is) that if all dishwasher manufacturers want their devices to be silent, there is something in the market that demands this feature?

    If that piece were funny at least – but it isn't.

    Front Page Mag – I really, really excpect more from you!

  • Ozzy

    At last Annie is back to what she does best, writing hilarious comedy.

  • Ghostwriter

    The hand dryers aren't too bad,as long as they have paper towels nearby. But,I do agree with Ann on those automatic faucets. You have a hard time turning them on and off when you need to. You're better off with manual faucets. You can turn them on and off when you want to.

  • Jeff Ludwig

    Great article! It was good to really see the humorous side of this lady.


    This is ANN COULTER'S 2013 New Year's Words of Wisdom? Okay then. If they could only invent a dishwasher that you don't have to wash the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. I use my DISHWASHER to store stuff. I don't have a cell phone but people that do still don't talk to one another and now text their arguments or issues going on for hours when a thirty-second conversation would have straightened out everything. Just like e-mails to each other going back and forth for days on one simple question and answer instead of a simple phone call.

    My LAND-LINE MACHINE can record conversations for those important "I didn't say that" argument and has an "off" ring button. MOST IMPORTANT REASON FOR A LAND-LINE: TO SLAM IT DOWN! It feels ssssoooooo good. How do you slam down a cell-phone to show the person on the other end that you're pi-ssed? I don't care how many times you text "F-U" it never replaces the slam. Don't you also HATE THE DOORS that don't SLAM?

    I ALWAYS HOPE THE BATHROOMS have paper towels so I can then use it to open the bathroom door on the way out due to the many men who don't wash their hands and put their junk germs all over the door handle. I then throw the towel behind the door. If they don't have towels, I sometimes wait for someone to come in while I'm using the dryers and then rush out. I absolutely hate the waving of the hand in front of the sensor machines. But I am getting better at it since I now have "Nancy Pelosi's Swinging Hands Wildly Handbook." They always work though when you just walk past one.

    BUT EVEN WITH THESE BAD INVENTIONS, or good to some, THE P.C. POLICE are always on the lookout to CRITICIZE every invention since dishwashers take more energy than just washing them by hand, all phones are being tapped by Bush's eavesdropping NSA, that the Democrats/Obama criticized him for but which they hypocritically keep voting to continue, and whose secret budget is… well secret. The blow dryers are contributing to Global Warming and paper towels are depleting our forests. That's why Cheryl Crow said to only use one square of toilet paper for each use and it works since my 1000 sheet roll has lasted two years now.

    With Obama, and his new Totalitarian mandate, his P.C. POLICE are looking to HANDCUFF our way of life. They make us feel guilty for the food we eat, ordering portion sizes (except for Michelle who gets a pallet full of Ben and Jerry's ice cream secretly delivered every week), if it's organic, grain fed or range fed, how the animal was killed, what we drive, the toys we own, how much money we make, the home we live in and the energy it takes EXCEPT IF YOU'RE AL GORE, what TV shows we watch, the radio program listen to, the laundry and body soap we use, lawns vs. xeriscape, how often we shower and flush, and of course, they break all their own rules and laws making the Mother's of All Hypocrites.

    And now back to watching my favorite TV Show: HOGAN'S HEROES. YOU'D LOVE IT ANN. My favorite character is Sergeant Schultz: "I know nothing. I hear nothing. I see nothing. I do nothing." Doesn't that sound like Obama and the Democrats? How can you attack NOTHING?

    HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL. New Year's Resolution: ANNOY Leftist Liberal Progressives by saying "I'm a Republican."

    • slider 96

      Even better mention the word Obama to Glen Beck ….and he won't be able to fire you either .

  • tanstaafl

    No, this is worse. Robots answering the phones for businesses.

  • slider 96

    Off your zoloff again Ann ? Could you tell me if silent dishwashers are progressive or conservative ? Maybe you hadn't noticed Ann , since you actually dont wash your dishes or maybe your house is bigger than say 2100 square feet , and you got some distance between your kitchen and den , but a quite dishwasher ius great , and besides Ann , even "silent dishwashers " make some noise or vibration , so you can tell if it's on or not . As for all that restroom stuff ? I think you should go back to using an outhouse , ya know , just so no one gets the idea you're a progressive .