Ignobel and Chindogu

 The Back Scratchers T-Shirt



There used to be a competition at school called “Go wild!” where we had to find alternative uses for everyday objects. Something like the way the guys in “Whose line is it anyway?” are asked to use some funky colored shapes for various purposes mostly comically. I happened to literally Stumbleupon something called Chindogu. The Nonist has an interesting set of pictures too of gadgets such as “The Personal Rainsaver” and “Cockroach Swatting Slippers” Hope there is no insect activist around!

Apparently,

Chindōgu (珍道具) is the not-so-ancient Japanese art of inventing ingenious everyday gadgets that, on the face of it, seem like an ideal solution to a particular problem. However, Chindōgu has a distinctive feature: anyone actually attempting to use one of these inventions, would find that it causes so many new problems, or such significant social embarrassment that effectively it has no utility whatsoever. Thus, Chindōgu are sometimes described as ‘unuseless’ – that is, they cannot be regarded as ‘useless’ in an absolute sense, since they do actually solve a problem; however, in practical terms, they cannot positively be called ‘useful’. Source: WikipediaChindogu

It reminded me of another set of researches that have been awarded the Ignobel Prize. I keep going back to these for two reasons.
i) Inspiration
ii) Imagination
These researchers are seemingly mad at the outset. Of course, that will lead us to other discussions on “What is madness?” (Foucauldian and otherwise).. Upon closer observation we notice that it is indeed hard to produce a simple gadget out of complex theories.

Ignobel research in Literature studies Nigerian Spam Mails. It is hilarious in the whackiest sense of the word. It studies these letters terming them “a bold series of short stories” I am sure the fortunate ones among us who have a bulk mail folder in Yahoo have had the privilege of receiving mails from Ngobe Ngayaka, Chief Oyinbolowo Eko and other such afflicted souls with millions of dollars stowed away at a certain bank which they are willing to donate to an unknown-yet-fortunate-you!

Well coming back to Chindogu, it evokes in me questions about so-called social respectability. I often wonder why people don’t run on the roads instead of walking! I mean, why not? Remembered seeing some similar gadgets in Acme cartoons and in “Wallace and Gromit”. Yeah, and America always competes with Japan right? Here goes – America’s Most Absurd Patents!

Yep, this post has a lot of links but all of them are worth looking at!

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