Patented by Clifford Malbon of Daytona Beach, Florida in 1977. Patent # US4050125A. From the patent abstract:
An inflated casket which may remain deflated for storage prior to use and for transportation prior to storage. The casket body is provided with one or a plurality of chambers into which a fluid substance is injected for distending the chambers to cause the casket body to assume an erect position for use. The fluid substance while usually in the form of a gas, such as air, may constitute a substance which will subsequently solidify to produce a substantially rigid casket body.
From the mind of inventor George Fullerton came, in 1973, the Belly Bongo.
It's called a "Belly Bongo," and according to inventor Fullerton, it will make you "shake, rattle and roll." Made of high-impact styrene plastic, the Belly Bongo toy is an 8-inch square composed of four open-ended chambers. A hard rubber ball hangs from a three-inch string on the front-center. A canvas strap threaded through the back fastens it to your body. When Belly Bongo is secured around the hips — "where the action is," says Fullerton — the ball moves with the motion of your body. As it hits on the hollow chambers, it produces a bongo-beat, the tone of which varies according to the chamber size. With the motion of walking, the Belly Bongo emits a bump-da-da-da, bump-da-da-da beat. "It tells you how sexy your walk is," Fullerton grins.
A rapid-motion twist produces an up-tempo pong-pong-pong-pong. With proper body movements, Belly Bongo makes you your own bump-and-grind drummer. A checker in the electro-mechanical division at Honeywell, Fullerton spends his evenings designing and tapping away at product prototypes in his Largo home. Belly Bongo is the latest in a long line of toys and crafts he's invented. Fullerton explains his wealth of entertainment ideas as a direct result of the lack of hair on his head. "It's all because I'm bald-headed," he says with a laugh, "If you're bald-headed, it means you're crazy."
From Omni magazine (Aug 1981): "The latest discotechnological breakthrough is an item called Rock and Roll Hot Pants. By wiring your shorts or panties to a stereo speaker with a 15-foot cord, which relays the music to a two inch disc on your waistband,”you get an incredible tingle all over your body,” claims inventor David Lloyd."
Seems like an interesting solution to potholes, but I'm curious how well these would work in a real-world setting. For instance, would people wander away with them, just because they could? And would this temporary solution end up as the permanent solution?
I wonder where Katsuo Katugoru was during the big 2011 tsunami... if he got a chance to use his invention.
Orlando Sentinel - Aug 23, 1998
Update: I've concluded that Katsuo's inflatable underpants were fake news. Never happened. Columnist Mark Gibbs called it out as such in his May 4, 1998 column in Network World magazine. He also offered some prescient thoughts about the emergence and possible consequences of the fake-news phenomenon:
Tokyo commuter Katsuo Katugoru caused havoc on a crowded tube train when his inflatable underpants unexpectedly went off. The rubber underwear was made by Katsuo himself and was designed to inflate to 30 times their original size in the event of a tidal wave. "I am terrified of water, and death by drowning is my greatest fear," said Katsuo, 48.
— Unsubstantiated story carried March 3, 1998, by London's Daily Telegraph, National Public Radio and many other serious news organizations.
What's interesting about this story (other than the weirdness) is the coverage the story received. According to some reports, The Associated Press sourced it, but no one has been able to find any AP reference. You have to wonder how the likes of NPR and the Daily Telegraph could run with it.
What the event illustrates is a phenomenon that will become increasingly common — the Internet raising gossip, jokes and misinformation to the status of truth. This is what I call "anti-data." Anti-data is not the opposite of data, rather it is the stuff that dilutes and invalidates the data you need.
Part of the reason anti-data exists is because the Internet supports the rapid transfer of huge amounts of what we'll call, for the sake of argument, "news." Way back in 1967, Marshall McLuhan noted the consequence of speedy news delivery as a general trend of modern media in "The Medium is the Message: An Inventory of Effects," (p. 63):
Information pours upon us, instantaneously and continuously. As soon as information is acquired, it is very rapidly replaced by still newer information. Our electrically configured world has forced us to move from the habit of data classification to the mode of pattern recognition.
The Internet amplifies this effect and applies it not only to news but also to intelligence about markets, people and business concerns in general.
To corporations, this should be a great concern. As your employees begin to rely on pattern recognition over data analysis, generally their judgment will become less consistent.
Their correct conclusions may well become more accurate, but their wrong ones will tend toward the catastrophic. These extremes might average the same as prior judgments, but the fact that the highs are stellar and the lows, abysmal, will induce chaotic behavior.
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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
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