The Toilet - Greatest Invention Ever?

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Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2008 06:11 pm
Imagine, if you will, New York, London, Toronto in the year 2008. Now imagine those megacities with its millions of inhabitants without a single toilet anywhere in the city or suburbs. Without a way to transport excrement for disposal, where would we leave IT? In your neighbour's backyard? The Park? On the Street?!

On the suggestion of one of the forumers here, I would like to nominate the toilet as mankind's Greatest Invention Ever. Often misundersood, never quite fully appreciated, but essential to the functioning of Western society. Yes it may be a germ bowl, but damn it, it is quite the lifesaver. I would also like to point out that the toilet does not only transport excrement to waste disposal, but it also serves as an entertainment venue (e.g. reading the newspaper or magazine) as well.

If toilet is the man's greatest invention ever, then it must follow that the second greatest invention ever is toilet paper. This is what separates us from animals. Imagine: in a world without toilet paper, would we ever want the touch of another human being?

Now as for greatest invention ever, let's see how the toilet fares against its competition:

Democracy: Oh please, this is supposed to be mankind's greatest invention? Can it flush away incompetent leaders?

Computers: More of a burden and distraction, if anything else. Just ask one of those MMORPGers who really needs to go to the toilet, but can't because his level 39 elf is defending the ridge from level 47 dwarves.

Mechanical Clock: We are able to organize time with a mechanical clock. This is irrelevant; we have our own internal clock in our bodies. When it's time to go; it's time to go!

Printing Press: What a waste of perfectly good paper.

Cell phone: Have you ever had a time when that cell phone of yours fell into the toilet, and you didn't want to use it ever again? Toilet wins, hands down.
 
NeitherExtreme
 
Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2008 06:26 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Hehe, well you've certainly given us all something to think about... Life without toilets.:perplexed:

My vote would be the humble Knife.
(By the way, Forbes agrees with me. :bigsmile:)
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2008 06:49 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
Toilets are a great invention, and necessary for modern, urban society.

But if you are like me, and take issue with modern, urban society, the toilet is just another machine we could all do without and be no less comfortable for the loss.
 
NeitherExtreme
 
Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2008 06:53 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
By the way... Were you talking about just western style "sitting" toilets, or are you including the "hole in the ground" toilets too? Some people think the sitting toilets are gross.:bigsmile:
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2008 11:20 pm
@NeitherExtreme,
I once had to write a history of the toilet because my group outvoted me and decided the toilet was a better tool to write an instruction manual for rather than anything else. I said if they wanted to go that route the door stop would make a far funnier manual. I did have fun using the more creative version of the history in which Tomas Crapper invented the flush toilet, but I have never been so appalled by group work in my life.

Anyway, the toilet is really nothing that special. Even when considering the modern toilet, running water makes the flushing possible. Most of this relies on electricity as well.

Personally, I think the alphabets are greater inventions than the toilet. Or how about musical instruments?
 
Grimlock
 
Reply Fri 19 Sep, 2008 06:59 am
@Theaetetus,
I cannot disagree with you, Victor.

Anyone who has ever lived in close quarters with a large number of people and no waste disposal facilities (I did so for a little while as a soldier) knows of which you speak. A man realizes very quickly the value of toilets when he finds himself constantly stumbling over his buddy's kaka.

Perhaps more importantly, though, the toilet allows us to largely ignore the fact that we secrete waste - one of the unspoken pillars of modern thought.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Fri 19 Sep, 2008 07:24 am
@Grimlock,
Grimlock wrote:

Perhaps more importantly, though, the toilet allows us to largely ignore the fact that we secrete waste - one of the unspoken pillars of modern thought.


It depends what type of toilet. Anyone that has been around a pit toilet that needs to be emptied knows that it is hard ignore the smell from our waste. Now if you are talking about modern day flush toilets that requires running water, so couldn't you say that running water is a greater invention?

I am trying to play devil's advocate because most people do not even think of the toilet as invented. Which brings me to another idea, would the toilet have been possible if humans had not invented the wheel?
 
Grimlock
 
Reply Fri 19 Sep, 2008 07:41 am
@Theaetetus,
Must we be so rationalist about it, T? Victor was clearly not asking for rational arguments.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Fri 19 Sep, 2008 08:03 am
@Grimlock,
Fine. Breath mints are the greatest invention ever. The combo of mint and gum has taken this awesome technology to the next level. Always be prepare with some extra gum for those people on the bus that are a little too close with horrid breath.
 
Grimlock
 
Reply Fri 19 Sep, 2008 10:40 am
@Theaetetus,
I, myself, think that after the flush toilet, the greatest maximation of aesthetic quality in modern western life may come from the secret assassin known as deodorant. Pit funk is noticably unpleasant long before halitosis becomes a public menace.
 
oxherder
 
Reply Sun 28 Sep, 2008 03:17 pm
@Victor Eremita,
toilet AND toilet paper:-) i wonder though... i can live going out in a desolate place with a toilet paper, but not go to the toilet without toilet paper...therefore...#1 toilet paper, 2# toilet.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sun 28 Sep, 2008 03:58 pm
@oxherder,
oxherder wrote:
toilet AND toilet paper:-) i wonder though... i can live going out in a desolate place with a toilet paper, but not go to the toilet without toilet paper...therefore...#1 toilet paper, 2# toilet.


Haha excellent. And herein we learn the value of Thinking *through* the Process.
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Sun 28 Sep, 2008 04:02 pm
@oxherder,
oxherder wrote:
toilet AND toilet paper:-) i wonder though... i can live going out in a desolate place with a toilet paper, but not go to the toilet without toilet paper...therefore...#1 toilet paper, 2# toilet.



That's all well and good if you're all alone; but if you live in a large city, toilet paper can't transport waste efficiently; otherwise, you'll won't be just leaving IT on the streets, but the dirtied up toilet paper as well.
:a-ok:
 
oxherder
 
Reply Sun 28 Sep, 2008 08:14 pm
@Victor Eremita,
well, well, are we talking about the issue of "existence precedes essence" then? (googled the phrase in Wikipediahttp://s150.photobucket.com/albums/s103/yourspacecooment/smiley/shy/shy15.bmp)
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Sun 28 Sep, 2008 08:51 pm
@oxherder,
ROFL Good one
 
madel
 
Reply Mon 29 Sep, 2008 02:24 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Quote:
would the toilet have been possible if humans had not invented the wheel?

You have a good point here, but it wouldn't be difficult to argue that the invention of the wheel was to some extent inevitable...the invention of what we now think of as a flushing toilet? Could have taken any of number of routes.

Which actually brings me to my first thought on this topic...Many times when I stand up and move to flush I have plenty of time to think about that little invention (I grew up fairly poor and toilets just don't work as quickly in some households...) and am at once awed and confused.

Awed because yes! It makes our lives soooo much nicer, but confused because when compared to things like computers, they really haven't advanced much for the last several decades. Other things that deal with them have, but not them, themselves. If you sit on them for very long, your legs still go numb and while no one likes to talk about it, you'd think someone would have found a way to take care of the annoying poop-then-splash-directly-back-to-the-hole-it-came-out-of effect.

While we're at it...it's really a very simple design! Nothing complex about it and nothing that someone with a little common knowledge and the internet can't fix on their own. Compare that to some of these home theater systems coming out!

As a race it is apparent to me that we value our entertainment far more... Wink

You'd also think we would have come up with a way to make such an instrument take up less room! Good grief!

Quote:
...toilet paper can't transport waste efficiently...

Sure it can! It can most assuredly transport it far enough to not stink in the city. Besides, if our society lived like that, we would just find a way to sanitarily and stink-freely transport it Wink

...I can't help but be rational...and contrary... Very Happy It's too much fun!
 
Ennui phil
 
Reply Fri 10 Oct, 2008 09:31 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Ah,yes...it is stimulating that there is a faith that the toilet is the laudable invention.I agree.
 
 

 
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