I apologize to my readers who wait anxiously for my analysis of the news. I have been distracted (what do you expect??). But I would like to again share some notable stories that have come my way over the past few months.
One subject that has been both number 1 and number 2 on the list (think about it...) is Toilets. These porcelain thrones have become a whirlpool of controversy, causing an overflowing of shock to all who know. I think the evidence is mounting that toilets are mounting an all-out attack on us. Perhaps they are tired of what we throw at them every day (who could blame them?), but whatever the reason it seems we can no longer list these once-trusted sanitization devices as our friends.
The first item seems benign up front, but the implications are chilling.
Item #1: Talking Urinals
Gee Whiz, It's a Talking Urinal
Hey guys, that woman you heard in the men's room is no lady. It's probably just an interactive urinal communicator -- and you're only crazy if you talk back.
Taking "targeted advertising" to a new extreme, Country Music Television is using a talking urinal drain cover to advertise its Oct. 29 special, "CMT Greatest Outlaws: The Dirty Dozen."
When a guy steps up to the urinal, he'll hear a sexy woman's voice cooing, "Don't miss 'Outlaws' on CMT. You seem to miss everything else!"
The motion-activated device, called a "Wizmark," lasts for more than 10,000 flushes and features flashing lights, alternating pictures and a 10-second voice recording.
"We're talking about a very captive audience," says CMT spokesman James Hitchcock. "And this is one way to grab a guy's undivided attention."
Be warned, ladies: A sit-down "Wizmark" will be available faster than you can say, "How about a little privacy?"
Perhaps urinal advertising isn't right for all products, but Molson beer in Canada recently entered into an agreement with Wizmark to advertise a new brew in bars and clubs.
"We think urinal ads have the potential to be great for public service announcements for drinking and driving or safe sex," says Wizmark President Richard Deutsch, who recently patented the device.
Wizmark not only delivers advertising, it replaces the soap puck found in urinals, acting as a deodorizer.
This is actually an old story, but the eventual trail of this sordid tale would lead to much more disturbing things:
N.M. introduces talking urinal cakes
February 16, 2007
BY Tim Korte Associated Press
RIO RANCHO, N.M. -- New Mexico is hoping to keep drunks off the road by lecturing them at the last place they usually stop before getting behind the wheel: the urinal.
The state recently paid $21 each for about 500 talking urinal-deodorizer cakes and has put them in men's rooms in bars and restaurants across the state.
When a man steps up, the motion-sensitive plastic device says, in a woman's voice that is flirty, then stern: "Hey, big guy. Having a few drinks? Think you had one too many? Then it's time to call a cab or call a sober friend for a ride home."
The recorded message ends: "Remember, your future is in your hand."
The talking urinal represents just the latest effort to fight drunken driving in New Mexico, which long has had one of the highest rates of alcohol-related traffic deaths in the nation. The new tactic is aimed only at men, because they account for 78 percent of all driving-under-the-influence-related convictions in New Mexico.
"It startled me the first time I heard it, but it sure got my attention," said Ben Miller, a patron at the Turtle Mountain Brewing Co. bar and restaurant. "It's a fantastic idea."
Jim Swatek, who was drinking a beer nearby, said: "You think, 'Maybe I should call the wife to come get me.'"
Turtle Mountain Brewing owner Niko Ortiz commended the New Mexico Transportation Department for "thinking way outside the box."
Department spokesman S.U. Mahesh said the bathroom is a perfect place to get the message across. In the restroom, "guys don't chitchat with other guys," he said.
"It's all business. We've got their total attention for 10 to 15 seconds."
Similar urinal cakes have been used for anti-drug campaigns in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Australia, and for anti-DUI efforts on New York's Long Island, said Richard Deutsch of New York-based Healthquest Technologies Inc., which manufactures the devices.
While the mental image of a drunken man trying to figure out the sorce of the voice is, to say the least, humorous, I would put this forth as the first evidence that there is a mounting struggle between man and toilet from which there can emerge only one victor.
Item #2: Fire in the Hole
This story was brought to my attention by PushMama:
Japan firm apologizes after toilets smoke, catch fire
Mon Apr 16, 10:11 AM ET
Twenty-six smoking toilets, and three more on fire, put a Japanese toilet maker in the hot seat on Monday.
Toto Ltd., known for its high-tech toilets with bidets that have blow-drying, air purification and seat-warming functions, apologized to consumers and offered free checks and repairs after some of its toilets with bidets and heated seats sent up smoke and three caught fire.
"We apologize deeply for the trouble we have caused to our customers," the company said in a statement.
Toto said no people were injured as a result of the problems and damage was limited to a small part of the toilet tank.
The problem was caused as friction was generated in a part inside the toilets, eventually producing heat. It affected some toilet models made between March 1999 and December 2001.
"We are offering free checks and repairs if needed to anybody who owns these models," a company spokesman said.
The company's most famous product, the combined toilet/bidet or "wash let," is a common household article in Japan.
Angry customers marched (with a very odd gait) on the headquarters of this company demanding immediate reparations. They were each given a free set of Aloe Vera wipes and a pillow.
I presume any heating element along with the typical methane present in this unique environment makes these fires special hazards for bidet manufacturers.
Item #3: Watch Your Seat
Boy gets toilet seat stuck on his head
Wed Apr 25, 9:17 AM ET
British firefighters said on Wednesday they had come to a boy's rescue after he got a toilet seat stuck on his head.
The toddler, aged two-and-a-half, and his mother walked into a fire station in Braintree, Essex, Tuesday saying the boy had put his head through a small trainer seat for the toilet and now could not remove it.
"His mum had tried to get it over his head but couldn't budge it so she walked him down here and asked us to have a look at it and we went to work and we managed to get it off in no time," firefighter Chris Cox said.
"We simply put some dish washing liquid on his head and ears and it slid off nice as pie."
He said the boy had been "very brave" and "toddled away as happy as can be" after his ordeal ended.
I think the term "nice as pie" is inappropriate in this setting.
This is stark evidence of the attack on our flanks by the toilets. Why we have been kept in the dark about this I am not sure. I am quite surprised that this has not caused the terror level to be raised from orange to aqua-marine. Certainly the department of homeland security is looking into these things.
Are the toilets acting on their own or are they simply pawns in a bigger plot? Are we soon to see attacks mounted septic tanks, sewers, or even sewage treatment plants? Is this a new tactic of Bin Laden, to hit us where it counts? I shudder at the thought. It may be the end of us all.