John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.
Your weekly roundup of the world's classiest toilet news.
Here's the latest poop on public toilets around the world (last Tuesday's roundup over yonder):
DUDE, WHERE'S MY TOILET?
It was only a matter of time before they came for the toilets. Not content with stealing veterans' grave markers or lead roofs, mendacious metal thieves have been ripping off key components from America's public bathrooms this month, either to sell on the scrap market or to install on toilets elsewhere.
In East Aurora, New York, sticky-fingered restroom patrons have removed the flush valves from commodes in half-a-dozen burglaries. The valves are made of brass, which is recyclable, but are thin and wouldn't amount to a big score at the weigh-in. However, scrap metal is "up in value, leading some individuals to do desperate things at desperate times," an East Aurora detective told the Buffalo News. The city might close its public bathrooms until repairs can be made.
Across the ocean in Guam, national-parks staff are dealing with the same type of crappy behavior. A determined urban reclaimist busted into public restrooms in Ga'an Point and Asan Beach to remove metal flushers worth about $8 apiece, piping and even a stall door from the men's bathroom in a theft that has cost the government $4,300. Said park superintendent Barbara Alberti, according to GuamPDN: "I think if people hear about it in the villages, they should let us or the police department know. I can't imagine that nobody is talking about this."
BATHROOM HYGIENE 101
When surveyed recently about the level of fear their children hold toward public-school bathrooms, 33 out of 100 parents in Scotland reported that their kids preferred peeing or pooping themselves over entering a stall. That's the good news. The Scottish Parent-Teacher Council's study also revealed that kids are choosing not to drink water, so that they don't have to use the bogs later, and there's also a rumor that a particularly filthy loo caused a school outbreak of gastroenteritis. One boy is even said to have developed a "bowel condition" because he held it in so much, reports the Daily Record.
Parent complaints include “Smelly toilets that don’t flush properly, stiff or broken locks, lack of soap/toilet roll, cold, dark, water and paper towels on floor, graffiti, vandalism.” A government spokesman told the Record that Scotland's toilet-rehabilitation program is "still ongoing."
W.C. OF THE WEEK
From "By john, I think he’s got it!," a news release from Australian National University about the "possible discovery of the earliest toilet in Southern Vietnam," and a related article in Vietnam News:
Dr Marc Oxenham led a team of Australian and Vietnamese specialists on a seven-week archaeological excavation of a 3,300 to 3,700 year old Neolithic village site in Southern Vietnam earlier this year. ‘Rach Nui’ is a 5-metre tall ancient human-made mound surrounded by small tidal streams and mangrove swamps. The site is about 30km south of modern-day Ho Chi Minh City.
The team believe they found Vietnam’s earliest latrine when they stumbled across more than 30 preserved faeces belonging to humans and dogs that contained fish and shattered animal bones....
"Dog and human waste samples were sent to the Australian National University for analysis and we are awaiting the results. An enormous amount of work still lies ahead in understanding how people in the area went about their daily business," [Oxenham] added.
Top image: val lawless/Shutterstock.com