John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Also, Brazil deploys an energy-generating toilet and Britain scares the hell out of potential drunk drivers.
Warning: This Toilet Tuesday may cause involuntary loss of bladder control:
A PETRIFYING PRIVY, IN THE U.K.
It can take a lot to convince a bar patron to drop the boozy bravado and put away the car keys. This nightmare ad campaign from the British government's road-safety group THINK! would probably do the trick, though.
Folks wondering if any of the people in this London pub bathroom have filed suit over massive myocardial infarctions should know they are actors, reports Metro UK. That's led one Metro reader to wonder about the campaign's real-world effectiveness: "I think that if an actual person saw this happen, they would drink MORE because of the shock."
YOU'RE WASHING YOUR HANDS ALL WRONG, IN MICHIGAN
Would you give a firm handshake to somebody who just emerged from a bathroom? You probably wouldn't after reading this new study from Michigan State University, which found that only 5 percent of loo users wash their hands properly. The remaining 95 percent are teeming microbial colonies that give the Midas touch of projectile vomiting to anybody in their path (at least in my imagination).
The Michigan researchers observed 3,749 people in public lavatories in East Lansing, somehow avoiding a police dragnet for creepy-lingering bathroom behavior. They discovered that the vast majority of people do not rinse their mitts for the more than 15 seconds it takes to kill bacteria (the CDC says 20 seconds is optimal, which if you're curious is the amount of time you need to quickly hum "Happy Birthday" twice). A third of people didn't use soap and 10 percent chose not to wash before striding out of the john.
In a predictable finding, men proved to be much lousier hand-washers than women with 15 percent not cleaning at all (it was 7 percent for women). The new data throws a damper on a 2010 survey indicating that 96 percent of bathroom users wash their hands. Said one Michigan State professor: "These findings were surprising to us because past research suggested that proper hand washing is occurring at a much higher rate."
A ROCKIN' ECO-TOILET, IN BRAZIL
How deeply is music ingrained in the culture of Brazil? Well, in the past year alone the country has spawned not one but two revolutionary new toilets that transform urine into hot, hip-jiggling jamz.
First was the "Guitar Pee" urinal that popped up last summer in São Paulo bars. Patrons seeking to lighten their load could aim at a fretboard mounted on the porcelain fixture, creating splashy renditions of their favorite guitar solos. And now Toilet Tuesday is receiving word of another commode that debuted during this year's Carnival. Dubbed the XiXi Elétrico ("Electric Pee"), the toilet channels the brute power of pee to make a Carnival float bump with amped-to-the-max music.
The miraculous loo, put together by NGO AfroReggae and creative agency JWT Brazil, is meant to curb the nose-singing problem of Carnival revelers peeing en masse in the streets. It attempts this difficult feat by tying the survival of AfroReggae's music float with people using the modified bathroom. Partygoers direct their urine at a gyro that spins around to create electricity; this juice goes into a battery that powers the van. The makers of XiXi claim they got all pee-derived power they needed this year in the span of only three days: