All posts by Philip Yaffe

Philip Yaffe was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1942 and grew up in Los Angeles, where he graduated from the University of California with a degree in mathematics and physics. In his senior year, he was also editor-in-chief of the Daily Bruin, UCLA's daily student newspaper. He has more than 40 years of experience in journalism and international marketing communication. At various points in his career, he has been a teacher of journalism, a reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal, an account executive with a major international press relations agency, European marketing communication director with two major international companies, and a founding partner of a specialized marketing communication agency in Brussels, Belgium, where he has lived since 1974. He is author of 14 books, which can be found easily in Amazon Kindle.

Banana—Extraordinary Ordinary Things

Throughout this series of blogs, I have concentrated on “gadgets,” i.e. mechanical, electric, or electronic devices that have fundamentally affected the world. So far they have included the bicycle, the credit card, the elevator, the postage stamp, the toothbrush, and the wristwatch. The banana, being a product of agriculture, is of course not a gadget. However, its effects on the world have been significant, even primordial, in areas far surpassing agriculture such as art, literature, show business, humor, and even intelligent design. I, therefore, believe the “humble” banana is far from humble, and richly deserves a place of prominence on the list of what I like to call “Extraordinary Ordinary Things.”

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Glass bottles

Beer—Extraordinary Ordinary Things

Throughout this series of blogs I have concentrated on “gadgets” (i.e. mechanical, electric, or electronic devices) that have fundamentally affected the world. So far, they have included the bicycle, the credit card, the elevator, the postage stamp, the toothbrush, and the wristwatch. Beer, being a liquid usually stored, transported, and sold in bottles, is not a gadget. However, its effect on the world has been significant, even primordial, perhaps surpassing all the others put together. I therefore believe that beer unquestionable deserves to join the ranks of what I like to call “Extraordinary Ordinary Things.”

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The Bicycle—Extraordinary Ordinary Things

It is a rite of passage, starting with a stable three-wheeled tricycle. Next is a less stable two-wheeled bicycle with two training wheels, and finally the freedom of a two-wheeler itself. But however exciting it may seem to children and parents at the time, in retrospect this progression is really a mundane part of modern life. So much so that few people realize the long history of the bicycle and the unexpected impact it has had on modern society.

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The Human Body— Extraordinary Ordinary Things

There are some 100 trillion (100,000,000,000,000) of them and they are with us all the time, night and day, waking and sleeping, 24-hours around the clock, i.e. whatever we are doing and whenever we are doing it. Being 100 trillion of them firmly fixes them among the most ordinary things we know. Yet we almost never think about them. And when we do, we almost always have a confused and inaccurate picture of them. What are they? The 100 trillion individual cells that make up every human body.

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